Ironman Wisconsin Race Report Racing With A Grateful Heart

imageYesterday I completed my fourth Ironman. It was my slowest Ironman but it was the most fun. I entered this race because it was close to my daughter’s house and I wanted to combine Ironman with seeing my grandkids. My training went well until June when after Boulder 70.3 I took a week off to travel to my daughter’s wedding and then developed severe hip pain in both hips – I started back on a modified training schedule and gave myself a drop dead date to decide whether I would race. I was able to complete one 95 mile ride and one run of 18 miles (split into 2 sessions) and that was it for volume. I knew I was seriously undertrained but decided to give it a go. During race week I started feeling pretty crappy with a headache and chills – this lasted into race day so I was a bit worried.

I sent my bike on BikeFlights to a local Madison bike shop which I thought would make travel much easier. I flew to Chicago and took a 4 hour bus to Madison which made for a long day.  I checked in to the race on Thursday ( no lines) and drove the course on Friday where I got my first glimpse of what I’d be facing – holy wow!!! Saturday I checked in my bike and crawled into bed early.

The Swim – 1:06.56

I arrived in transition at 5 am after my wonderful teammate Teresa offered to pick me up. I filled my water bottle and sorted my nutrition while she pumped up my tires. We walked to the swim start where the sunrise over the water was breathtaking. This was when I knew that no matter what happened it was going to be an amazing day.  We entered the water at 6:45 and I did a little warm up and just floated there talking to other athletes. I was amazed at how sweet everyone was – this would soon change. We listed to the national anthem which brought chills as we remembered 9/11.

The gun went off and it was pure bedlam. I was punched, kicked, swum over and pummeled. This lasted the entire 2.4 miles and I was sure my swim would be slow. I was shocked when I looked at  my time and realized I had PRed. We exited the water and ran a long way up a helix to the roof with cheering fans lining the way.  It was truly amazing.

 

imageT1 – 16:33

I seriously have no clue what takes me so long in transition – I completely change clothes but so do lots of others. I can get ready for work in the morning faster than I transition. I watched two girls come in and out in the time I took.  The volunteers here were amazing.

The Bike – 8:20.06

I excited transition and safely navigated my bike down the helix to the street where I made it about a 1/2 mile before I noticed my handle bars were tilted down – what the hell?? I saw a race official and pulled over to ask for help. His answer was I’m not supposed to help you but I must have looked panicked so he relented. We discovered the bars hadn’t been tightened by the shop that put my bike back together but neither of us had the tools to fix it. I asked if he could call tech support and he said no. He suggested I ride to the aid station 8 miles away for help – ya right that would have been safe!! I contemplated walking back to transition but decided to ride a bit further to try to find help. Two policeman offered to help but they did not have a tool.  A girl standing on the corner heard us and ran over with an Allen wrench to save the day. We tightened down the bars but they were too low which caused lots of problems later.

I finally got started and because I knew how brutal the course would be I decided to take it easy on the first half – my mantra was go slow and if you think you are going slow go even slower. I began to soak in the breathtaking scenery as we began to climb the first of 89 hills along the way. I stopped at all the aid stations, thanked the volunteers and raced with a grateful heart. I arrived at the infamous Barlow hill and started up and up and up. About halfway up everyone was hopping off and walking and I decided to  join them – you know a hill is steep when your calves are cramping walking up it – it was fun though to get off and chat with my fellow competitors.

I was truly enjoying myself but as soon as I started lap two I knew it was going to be a long day. My back started cramping from the low bars and I had to stop several times to stretch, I dropped my chain twice but quickly got it fixed- I did the math in my head and knew that if I could get back to transition and onto the course by 5 pm I could finish the race. I excited transition at 5 exactly.

T2- 16:06

Seriously what do I do in there? Take a nap, brew coffee? I have no clue what takes so long!! My volunteer was an angel and helped me get dressed and out the door.

The Run – 6:39.08

I started out walking/running with a bit more walking then running due to my back. I surprisingly wasn’t feeling sick like I usually am but this would soon change. By mile 3 I was, like usual,  battling nausea and my legs were seriously hurting. I passed the BASE tent and Matt Miller handed me a bottle of rocket fuel which seemed to helped for a bit and another on my next pass. My stomach was revolting but I kept moving forward and considered dropping out at halfway. My teammie Teresa walked a bit with me and convinced me to keep going. I told her I was worried about the long dark miles along the lake and she said someone would be there to help me. By mile 16 I was dizzy and felt like I was going to black out – a guy walking next to me convinced me to keep going by asking me why I was racing – I told him to inspire my clients, friends and family to do things they love and to believe anything is possible. He said there is your answer – keep moving forward.

At mile 18 another teammate, Therese, appeared out of the dark like an angel – she said she was there to get me to the finish. My Garmin had died so I had no clue how fast or slow I was moving or how much time I had. I knew in the shape I was in it was going to be close. Therese forced me to eat a peanut butter pretzel and I immediately emptied my stomach and felt a bit better. She talked me through the long dark miles along the lake and soon we were nearing the finish. I turned a corner and there it was – I was once again an Ironman.

imageIt was an amazing and glorious day. Despite the difficulties I experienced I was gloriously happy all day. I had so much support both on the course and at home and it was amazing!! The best part of all was I didn’t have to go to the medical tent and actually got to experience the athlete food and the midnight finish for the first time. I loved everything about this course – I faced my fear of hills and came out victorious and there is no better feeling than that!!

imageI love you all!!

 

 

 

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An Attitude of Gratitude

In my work at drug court we often use the phrase “have an attitude of gratitude” and as I head into my seventh Ironman 70.3 in Boulder this weekend i am reminded of the importance of  this phrase.  It is supposed to be hot as in 85-90 hot, as in melting hot, as in worst case scenario for someone like me who has multiple sclerosis and all week I have been fixated on and stressed about this. But last night as I lay in bed I remembered why I chose this particular race – to honor the memory of the most courageous man I ever met Steve Andrews who completed a similarly hot Boulder 70.3 after over 20 rounds of chemo.  A man who always raced with the biggest smile on his face and who relished every single beautiful minute of the life he was given and I realized that it is a tremendous blessing that I get to do this race.

There was a time 15 years ago when I could barely walk and this weekend I get to swim, bike and run 70.3 miles and that is amazing and definitely something to be grateful for no matter how fast or slow I go. I get to travel with Steve’s wife Julene who is my road trip ride or die homie and race with his son Michael who has the same indomitable spirit that his dad had.  My dad is traveling from Arizona to help Sherpa my stuff and my mom is flying in from Boise with boiled potatoes in her suitcase because I said I needed them.  My friend Traci Winterbottom who I started this triathlon journey with 25 years ago is driving up to cheer me on despite her disappointment at not being able to race due to pneumonia.  I get to race with new BASE teammates and old SwimBikeMom teammates. Blessings for days and I am so grateful.

Over the past 5 months I have put in the work – I have missed only 2 workouts and have overcome my potato chip addiction. I have lost 15 pounds and have improved my 100 swim times over 15 seconds and my mile run over a minute and a half.  I have slogged through the rain and powered up hills. I am in the best shape of my life and I realize that no matter what the outcome is on Saturday I have already won and for that I am beyond grateful.

The photo below came up on my Facebook this morning of me racing a similarly hot Boise 70.3 three years ago.  I remember that day and the fact that it was one of my slowest times ever but when I look at this picture all I see is pure joy. I see a strong woman who is grateful for the opportunity to do this crazy sport and who realizes the importance of family and friends and being in the moment and enjoying every single second. So Saturday I plan to race with a grateful heart every single stroke pedal and step of the way!!!

Love you all!!!!triathlonprofile

Ironman Louisville Race Report – It Takes a Village

Ironman Louisville was magical for me.  It was not the perfect race but it was the most fun I have ever had doing an Ironman.  I headed to the Boise airport on Wednesday afternoon with my daughter Norra dragging too many backpacks and an unwieldy bike box.  We dragged everything to the counter where the guy checking us in encouraged me to sneak an extra bag onto the plane instead of paying an extra bag fee.  He charged me $75 for the bike and handed me my boarding pass with TSA Pre.  I was off to a great start.

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We arrived in Louisville about 10 pm and met up with my second daughter Jenna, and drove to the Embassy Suites downtown which is an amazing hotel just 1/2 block from the finish line and has free breakfast and happy hour.  We walked down to check out where the finish line would be at 4th Street Live and I started to get excited.

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THURSDAY –

I went down to the great lawn to check-in and there was absolutely no line.  In fact it was almost like a ghost town.  I heard the lines were very long the next day so I was glad I arrived early.  I stopped by the ART tent to have some work done on my plantar fasciitis and then headed to drop off my bike with Mike over at Old Bikes Belong.  He is a super nice guy who was doing his first Ironman but took the time to put my bike together and then box it back up after the race.  Thanks Mike!!!  I met up with one of my teammates Teresa Morgan for the first time (she is amazing) and then got something to eat at Gordon Biersch Brewery where I stuck to the healthy eating habits I learned from SwimBikeFuel.  I went back to the room to get organized.

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FRIDAY-

I woke up and walked to the downtown Y which was two blocks from my hotel and did 1000 yard swim.  I was worried about swimming because of my bike crash two weeks ago but I felt amazing.  Then I headed out to drive the course with Swim Bike Mom herself, Meredith Atwood and my teammate, Anne Reed and her husband.  My first thoughts on seeing the course were holy hell – hills for days.  I went to lunch with the rest of my teammates and then met up with my granddaughter and went out for pumpkin ice cream (shhhh).

The rest of my family arrived and we headed to Spaghetti Factory for dinner.  Writing this it seems like I did nothing, but in fact I felt like every second of the day was busy.

SATURDAY –

My granddaughters ran Ironkids and I had the best time running with them.  Scarlett loved it so much she did both distances!!! A future Ironman in training??

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Then I went to do a test ride on my bike and dropped my bike and gear bags off at T1 and headed back to my hotel to meet up with my teammates, Allison O’Connor, Laura Burnett, Therese Slechta and Cara Will who were volunteering at the finish line.  They were so sweet and brought me a couple of gifts.  They are all amazing and I appreciated that they drove all the way to LOU to support us.  I headed to my room and tried to unwind and go to sleep.  I slept fitfully and before I knew it the alarm went off at 4:15.

RACE DAY

My wonderful dad picked me up at the hotel at 4:50 and we headed down to T1.  I was hoping to get in and out of transition quickly so I could get in line for the swim start.  This was not to be as first I couldn’t get the pump to work and then I discovered my chain was off and jammed.  I got it fixed, filled my water bottles and headed off on the long walk to the swim start.  When I arrived at about 6:15 I could not believe how long the line was.  I got body marked and found my way to the back and spread out my towel in the parking lot to rest.  I was REALLY glad that I had brought my Ugg boots, gloves, a warm hat and two sweatshirts because it was FREEZING.  My teammate Esther Houghland found me and I sat chatting with her and my daughter for what seemed like no time and then the line began to move.  I put on my wet suit and began to get butterflies.  I made my way to the dock, took a deep breath and jumped in.  One thing that I was really sad about is that because I was so far back in the pack I did not get to hear the national anthem or the bugler playing the Old Kentucky Home.

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THE SWIM

The water felt amazing (69 degrees).  It is an upriver swim around an island before making our way into the main channel and  heading back.  I had chosen to wear new goggles and for some reason they were majorly fogged up within a few 100 yards.  I stopped and spit in them and they seemed to clear.  I didn’t run into to many people but had a lot of difficulty sighting. I just kept my eye on the shore and kept moving forward.  I ran into a little traffic at the turn buoy but nothing too bad.  I looked at my watch and got really excited when I saw the pace because I expected it to be slow since we were going against the current.  It was not.  I was wayyyy faster than I expected to be.  I started sighting off the bridge and felt amazing.  About 500 yards from shore it began to get really congested for some reason.  I felt like I could not get around the huge packs of swimmers that were in my way and I had to stop several times to figure out where I was going.  Soon I was at the swim exit with a nasty calf cramp and side ache.  A kind volunteer pulled me out of the water and I headed to the changing tent.  I was so happy with my swim time because it was five minutes faster than I had ever gone before.

Time 1:08.51 Division Place 7

T1

I headed into the changing tent and it was a madhouse.  There was nowhere to sit and there were no available volunteers.  I had to ask the sweet girl next to me to help me pull down my sports bra because It was all twisted.  I took my time getting dressed and headed out to the bike.  After you pick up your bike it is a LONG walk to the mount line.  My transition time was very slow but I took the time to completely change clothes.  I decided to wear padded bike shorts so I would not be miserable on the bike and I am glad I did.  I was worried that it might be cold but I felt fine in my tri top and arm coolers.

Transition Time 16:31

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THE BIKE

My plan for the bike was to keep it dialed down because all of the race reports I had read from previous years had said that if you push the bike you will destroy your legs for the run.  This was excellent advice.  I was feeling pretty good averaging about 17 mph and then I hit the out and back on 1694.  This was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.  Packs of bikes were climbing one way while packs of bikes were screaming down the other side at about 40 mph.  Did I mention this was a NARROW, winding two-land road?  Holy hell!!!  After my bike crash two weeks ago I was still feeling tentative and this was seriously my worst nightmare.  I made it to the turnaround, stopped at the aid station to hit the bathroom and headed back out.  Then I saw the first crash.  It had just happened and the guy was lying in the road.  Bikes were slamming on their brakes to avoid him and it was chaos.  We went around him slowly and about a mile up the road there was another crash and rider lying on the side of the road.  I was about to have a panic attack because I knew I still had the scary, screaming descent ahead of me.  I slowed way down and stayed to the right while feathering my brakes and was doing pretty good until I came upon a lady that was going about 10 mph and was not over to the right.  I was trying to slow down to avoid her while the speed demons were blowing by me on my left.  I was screaming at her to move over but she was not budging.  I finally got around her and safely completed the out and back and asked the guy next to me if we had to do it a second time.  Thankfully he said no because I think I might have quit right there on the spot.  The rest of the bike was a steady stream of hill after hill after hill.  The only word I can use to describe it is relentless.  I stopped at most of the aid stations and the volunteers were fantastic, filling my water bottles and holding my bike.  I passed through LaGrange where I saw my family and fed off the energy of the crowd.  I headed out to loop 2 feeling pretty good.  I was sticking to Tailwind and water.  About 60 miles in I started to feel sleepy.  All I wanted to do was lay down and take a nap but I was afraid to rest because I might not finish before midnight.  I made it to LaGrange a second time where my wonderful teammates were there cheering.  I got another burst of energy that carried me to the special needs station where I had all kinds of snacks like Swedish Fish, peanuts and PEANUT BUTTER FILLED PRETZELS :):)  I grabbed those pretzels and inhaled them.  They tasted so good and helped with my sleepiness.  I headed back out and spent quite a bit of time behind cars who were afraid to pass bikes and so were blocking my lane with no room to get around them.  This felt unsafe to me but what do I know.  I made it around the second loop and was excited to hit the flat part back to T2 and then HEADWIND – are you kidding me???  I kept pedaling and 1/2 mile from the finish I hit a pothole and my bottle flew out and hit me in the teeth.  It hurt and I was just too tired to stop and retrieve my bottle.  I headed to the bike dismount and then clomped what seemed like almost 1/4 mile in my bike shoes back to the changing tents.  This was not kind to the heel pain I was experiencing but I decided taking my shoes off and going barefoot would be worse.

Time 7:26.28 Division Place 24

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T2

I headed into the changing tent and was greeted by a wonderful volunteer who helped me change.  I was soooooo sleepy that if I could have found somewhere to lie down I would have tried to take a nap.  I got dressed and sat for a  few minutes trying to wake up.  I had been looking for my teammates all day and had not seen any of them.  I looked up after closing my eyes and there was Rebecca Dobbins and then Meredith Atwood.  It was good to see them but none of us were very chatty.  I think we were all too tired.  I hit the porta potty and headed out on the run.  Based on my transition time I may have taken a nap that I don’t know about.  Wow, I need to practice speed changing.

Time 18:53

THE RUN

I knew within the first few steps that this run was going to be a struggle.  I also knew I had exactly seven hours to get it done. I figured I could walk that fast but I wasn’t sure.  My stomach was bloated and my heel was excruciating.  I got an immediate boost as I made the turn onto 4th Street and saw my kids and grandkids who gave me a high five.

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I began to walk/jog with a heavy emphasis on the walk until mile three where I was soooooo sleepy that I had to sit down on the curb.  My plan was to close my eyes for a few minutes and then get moving again.  A volunteer brought me water, ice and talked me into taking some red bull.  Thank god he did because I quickly began to perk up and was once again moving forward.  I had a gu roctane and then another one at mile 7 in an attempt to get some sugar and nutrition into my system.  I had abandoned my fuel belt with my Tailwind because it was hurting my stomach to carry and I was worried that I wasn’t taking in enough calories.   I also started using BASE salt which helps.   I kept slowly moving forward and taking in red bull, water and occasionally chicken broth.  At mile 10 I decided to try another gel and all they had was chocolate.  It was disgusting and caused me to vomit but this was apparently just what I needed because as soon as I finished I was able to run.  I headed back into town and fed off the energy of the crowd.  I felt like I was flying.  I stopped at special needs to get some advil for my foot and headed back out.  I settled into a walk/run routine by chanting in my head – easy run, all the way, gonna win the race – I made myself chant it 8 times before I could walk.  I kept this up to the turnaround and was shocked at the number of people I was passing now that I was feeling better.  It is soooooo much more fun to do this race when you can actually run.  I have never experienced this in an Ironman and I was so grateful.  After the turnaround I started playing mind games like run to the next group of people or run to the next light.  I was feeling great until 1.5 miles from the finish when my legs began to cramp.  I slowed down a bit and did more walking until I got about 1/4 mile from the finish.  The energy was ELECTRIC and like nothing I had ever experienced.  People were screaming and high fiving and calling me by name.  I headed into the finish chute all by myself and the song Shout came on.  I felt like dancing and I high-fived my way to the finish line where my two beautiful daughters and son-in-law were waiting to catch me and place my medal around my neck.  I got my picture taken and then started to feel dizzy.  I was taken to the med tent where I got two liters of fluid. I negative split the marathon – 3:00 hours for the first half and 2:30 for the second.  It was an amazing race and the weather was perfect.

Time 5:32.22 Division Place 18

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This was my third Ironman and I had so much more fun than the previous two.  I think it was because of all the support I had. My dad was a rock and sherpaed my gear and helped me tremendously.  My mom who is always my biggest cheerleader was there to support me.  My daughters and son-in-law greeted me at the finish and my beautiful grandchildren spent the whole day supporting me.  I was able to race with my beautiful SwimBikeMom teammates and was greeted at the finish by other teammates who were volunteering.  I had so much support at home on my Facebook that it brought tears to my eyes!!! The bike wreck I had two weeks prior to this race was truly a blessing because it made me focus on what was important and it was not about the time, it was about the village that helped me complete a dream and for that I am eternally grateful.  I love you all!!!  Until next time … I AM AN IRONMAN!!!

The Power of the Fall

My dad likes to tell the story about when I learned to ride a bike.  I was about six years old and I got a new Schwinn.  My dad took me to the local park where I proceeded to crash into the curb over and over and over until I was battered and bloody.  He changed the handle bars – I crashed, he adjusted the seat – I crashed.  But I kept getting up and trying again until finally I got it and it was magic.  I was the kid with the perpetually skinned knees and the stubbed toes but I loved to run despite the falls.  When I tried to learn to do flip turns in the pool I had to practice for hours and hours and hours while everyone else picked it up right away.  To say I was a bit of a klutz was to put it mildly.  Not much has changed since then, I have fallen nine days before a marathon and run it anyway on an ankle the size of a grapefruit.  I have tripped at the start of a half-marathon and gotten up to run the whole thing with blood streaming down my legs.  I have trained for and completed an Ironman despite being hospitalized several times in the months leading up to it.  I have learned that I am not a quitter and I believe that is the greatest gift I could have ever received.

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This season I have spent countless hours riding through the Idaho countryside in the blazing heat, I have ridden through the pouring rain on my way from Seattle to Vancouver.  I have ridden my trainer in hotel rooms and after work until 2 am.  I have done what it takes to be strong and ready for Ironman Louisville but somewhere over the past few weeks I began to lose my love for what I was doing and worst of all I began to lose my gratitude.  I began to whine, and say things like I HAVE to do this workout or that workout instead of I GET to do this workout.  And then … 20 miles from the end of my last long training ride – BAMMMMM.  I found myself lying on the ground staring up at the sky with a battered and bruised body once again and while I first I was doing the poor me my race is over thing it wasn’t long til that same girl that had gotten up so many times after crashing into the curb made an appearance.  I knew without a doubt that if there was any way I could get back up I would be on that start line on October 11.

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Three days after my crash I went out for a 30 minute walk.  I was sooooo grateful to be able to move.  I noticed the tress and the birds singing and the sun reflecting off the river.  I was happy.  The same thing happened today.  I went out for another ride.  My legs were trembling as I set off and I felt sick to my stomach with fear but everything about the ride was perfect.  It felt effortless and I enjoyed every single second.  The power of the fall is that it brings you back to what is important and makes you appreciate what you have.  I am so grateful that I GET to participate in this amazing sport and that I have friends, co-workers and family that support me along the way.  I am truly blessed.  I am grateful for the fall because I will toe that line in Louisville and instead of focusing on how fast I can go I will be focusing on the journey and the scenery and the volunteers and the spectators and my family and the power and beauty of swimming, riding and running 140.6 miles.

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IMLOU I am coming for you :):):)

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Boise Ironman 70.3 Race Report and the Fear of the Taper

For the past few months I have been working really really hard.  I have not missed many workouts and have been dedicated to the point where I was often on my trainer at midnight if that’s what it took to get it done.  Last week was taper week and I started to feel like hell.  I was sure I had the flu or the huge blisters on my toes were infected or I had some other terrible ailment that would keep me from reaching the starting line on Saturday.  I was exhausted and could barely get through the 30 minute workouts on my plate.  So Thursday night I googled “feeling like hell during a taper in triathlon” and found a wealth of information.  Did you know there is such as thing as the marathon flu? When a body is tapering its supposed to hurt and feel crappy because it is rebuilding.  If you don’t feel crappy you should worry.  Who knew?  I had never had the opportunity to really taper for a race before because I never stayed healthy long enough to do one.  After reading this I was much calmer by  Saturday and ready to race.

This is my fifth time doing Boise Ironman and it has yet to be my friend but I was determined that this year was going to be different.  The course was changed this year due to road construction so we had two separate transitions several miles apart.  The day before the race we had to drop our run bags at T2 and our bikes at T1.  This took almost two hours and then I headed to get my hair french braided because it is simply the best hair for a long day. 🙂  I headed down to the Ironkids race to run with two of my clients’ daughters and my niece and it was magical.  One of the little girls was part way through the race and she said to me “guys I think we can win this thing”… I think she might have a future in sports.

Race morning arrived and I did something I never do – I went out for a big breakfast.  In the past I have always just ordered Oatmeal from Starbucks but decided to try a bigger meal for a change – I know you are not supposed to try something new on race day but I thought I would give it a try.  I then went to the park to board the bus to the swim start.  Boise gives you two options to get the the start.  You can either check your bike the day before and ride the bus or drive up on race morning with your bike.  What they don’t tell you is if you choose the second option you will have a mile long hike up a steep hill carrying your bike.  Thankfully I know this and chose the bus.

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I was one of the first to arrive in transition so I got my body markings and headed over to get my tires pumped up.  While I was waiting in line the guy in front of me mentioned that he forgot his goggles.  Thankfully I had a brand new spare pair and they weren’t even pink.  He was soooooo grateful and appreciative.  He didn’t seem to be freaking out like I would have been but told me he was now going to have the race of his life.  It was a nice way to start the morning.  I racked my bike, checked my nutrition and filled my water bottles and hit the porta potties.  I met a few ladies in my age group and they were so sweet, I guess by the time you get as old as we are you learn to be nice.  I felt really calm and Norra and I found an out of the way place to lie down and rest.  That’s when I noticed my heart rate was about 10 beats higher than normal – so much for being calm.

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I found the team mom from TriTown, Dominique who is amazing and offered to help me get into the wetsuit I rented and as I was walking over to see her I heard Swim Bike Mom member Sarah Emerich who yelled out Swim Bike mom!!!  I went over and gave her a big hug and she was so sweet!!  I got my wetsuit on and walked down to the start with the other over 45 women.  Ironman decided not to have a pro field this year so we got to go first which was absolutely amazing.  I got in the water which for the past four years has been freezing but was a pleasant 65 this year.  I rented a Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit that felt like I was wearing nothing at all.  I swam up towards the front of the pack and got ready to go.  Just before the gun went off the women started crowding around and I started to feel claustrophobic so I moved to the outside and when the gun went off I had clear sailing.  The swim is a triangle and the first leg felt fast and smooth, then we hit the buoy and made the turn and I was hit by wave after wave.  I drank a fair amount of water but still felt pretty good.  I didn’t do much sighting and just watched the girls beside me and let them do it for me.  I got pretty wide and kept trying to no avail to get closer to the buoys but I did have clear water out there.  I made the final turn for home and was amazed at how good I felt.  Swim time – 39:28, 4th in my age group.

I had a good transition for me – 5:26 but I could hear my daughter Norra yelling at me to hurry up.  Last year heading out of transition I got a rear flat and pros Craig Alexander and Paula Newby Fraser graciously changed it.  I was praying I would not get a flat this year as I still have no clue how to change one.  I exited transition and headed across the dam.

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I look happy and I definitely was 🙂  I headed out to the fast downhill and passed several women along the way.  I am usually terrified of the downhills but for some reason this time they were a blast.  The weather was perfect.  Next we hit one of two long climbs and my legs began to burn.  By this time the parade of men started blasting by.  Because I am a decent swimmer and I get to start first I rarely pass anyone on the bike and it is a mental game to keep from getting discouraged when you spend 56 miles watching people blow by you like you are standing still.  I stopped at the first aid station to hit a port potty and fill my bottles and then was on my way to the second long climb.  It felt pretty easy and I was passed by an amazing 64 year old lady who looked strong.  We had a bit of a headwind heading out but nothing too bad and then we turned on Cole Road at about 30 miles which was one of the new additions to the course.  Holy hell it was bumpy!!!  We turned around and headed back straight into a headwind and slightly uphill.  This section of the course pretty much destroyed me and I began to feel pretty tired.  I hung in there and enjoyed a couple more screaming downhills before the final little treat Boise provides.  We turned onto a short bike path where we rode through dirt and back onto the road.  Really at least they could have put down plywood.  Overall it was a pretty good bike leg but I was definitely ready to get off the bike.  Bike time 3:18.17, transition time 3:38 which is good for me.  5th in age group

Once again there was Norra yelling at me to hurry up and my mom asking if I was ok.  I headed out of transition and knew right away I was in trouble.  My stomach was swollen and it hurt like hell to run.  I ran the first mile but knew it was going to be a run/walk kind of day.  The new course had zero shade for the first 6 miles and it felt pretty hot.  I put ice down my shirt and poured water on my arm sleeves and cooled down.  About mile two I had to remove my heart rate monitor because I felt like it was cutting off my circulation.  I was sooooooo swollen.  I ran/walked and had a few nice chats with other athletes.  I felt something in my shoe so I stopped at a park to take it off and see what the problem was and I had a little piece of plastic from a water bottle in my shoe.  No clue how that happened – seriously??  I headed down to the park where I knew the energy would be electric and I wasn’t disappointed.  I found my family and told them I was having stomach problems and my mom said I should sit and rest.  I did for a second and then thought really – suck it up buttercup and get back out there.  I next found my clients who had all turned out to cheer for me and this gave me a boost.

boiserunboiseruntwo

I kept run/walking and soon found myself next to the famous Lew Hollander who is 85 years young and still at it.  I told him he is a hero and he said, “no, I’m just old and I like being old.”  I guess he doesn’t realize how much hope he gives other people that they can chase their dreams into old age.

About a half mile from the finish I decided I was going to run the rest of the way no matter what and 100 yards from the finish line just before entering the chute, I had to stop to dry heave.  A man was standing there and he said the finish is right there and I said I know sorry and put on a show for the spectators.  I finished and went straight to the med tent where they gave me some chicken soup and some Zofran and I felt better.  Run time – 2:44.25 Overall time – 6:51.14. 8th in age group.

I was happy with my race but this is the third time I have vomited within yards of the finish.  The other two years I threw up 2 and 3 miles from the finish.  I really have to get this dialed in because it is keeping me from making it to the podium which is a dream of mine.  My nutrition was not good.  I had two Roctane gels, 1/2 a Picky Bar and some Skratch on the bike and two gels and BASE salts on the run.  I am planning to see a gastroenteroligist soon to hopefully come up with a solution so I can run at my next race.

I am looking forward to getting back to training for IM Louisville but first I have to go see the four beautiful grandbabies who hold my heart.  I leave Tuesday for Wisconsin and I am looking forward to the break so I can come back focused and ready to make the final push to my big goal.

A huge thanks to my supporters out there this weekend.  I couldn’t have done it without you!!!

Mindset and Excellence

I am working towards a master’s degree in Positive Coaching and a certificate in Positive Psychology at the University of Missouri.  I am fascinated by what I am learning to the point where my heart actually skips a beat when I think about how amazing it is that I get to study this.  As I poured through my reading this week I thought about how much this stuff affects whether we achieve our goals or not and I just had to share.

I learned about fixed mindset versus growth mindset.  People with a fixed mindset believe their traits are inherent.  They are smart or good at music or great runners.  With this mindset one is always worrying about whether they are smart enough or fast enough or talented enough to get the job done.  Growth mindset in contrast qualities as things that can be developed through dedication and effort.  If I work hard at this I can get better.  If I fail this time I can work harder next time.  With this mindset one believes that EVERYONE can change and grow through application and experience.  If I fail at something it is not because I am not good enough it is because my preparation was not optimal.  This mindset can free me from feeling inadequate and can help me to celebrate my improvements.  A fixed mindset creates an internal monologue focused on judging, “I’m a loser” or “I’m too fat to do this” while a growth mindset says, “what can I learn from this?” and “How can I improve?”  Changing my mindset can be freeing 🙂

emmet tri

As coaches, teachers and parents knowing about these mindsets can change the way we encourage others.  Many times over  the years,  I found myself saying to my children, “you are so smart you can do this.”  I thought I was being supportive  when in fact I was setting them up to feel like failures.  If they did poorly on a test they attributed it to a lack of intelligence rather than a lack of effort.  How much better would it have been to say to them I believe you will do your best and I can’t wait to hear about what you learned.  Powerful stuff!!

I think my triathlon coach has this approach dialed in.  In the three months I have been working with him I have not once heard him attribute my improvement to talent.  He says things like your consistency and hard work are paying off and I think you will do well in the swim at IMLOU if you keep it up.  Bingo, growth mindset, and his words leave me feeling empowered.

rev 3 swim

Here is a formula for excellence:

  • Be committed – choose a goal you are passionate about and commit to doing everything you can to make your dream a reality.  For me getting out the door is the easy part – the hard part is focusing on nutrition and rest and not letting other commitments distract me.
  • Think positive thoughts – Only positive thoughts help you to do the things you really want to do. So talk to yourself only in ways that will help you to live and perform to your true capacity.
  • Focus on positive images – Imagine yourself doing the things you want to do in the way you want to do them.  I can choose to focus on the fact that in my two previous Ironmans I fell apart nutritionally and ended up in the medical tent receiving intravenous fluids or I can focus on images of me racing strong.
  • Always a lesson – Look for the good things you have done and focus on those.  Learn from the mistakes and develop ways to improve.
  • Always think you can – Don’t approach situations thinking “I hope I can” or “I hope I don’t mess up”  instead approach them as “I can”  and act as if.  This give you the best chance of reaching your goals.
  • Look at every situation as an opportunity –  Every situation is an opportunity to learn, to grow, to know yourself, to overcome challenges, to become stronger, to become more positive.
  • Stay focused – Keep your eye on the prize and focus on the little things that will help you reach your goal.  Block out the naysayers and focus on the voice inside your head that says I can and I will.
  • Take things step-by-step – Great things are accomplished when you commit to taking one step at a time.  Just keep moving forward and I promise you will be greater than you ever believed was possible.

Happy Training 🙂

Positive Self Talk

Last night I taught a boundaries group at drug court and I spent a lot of time talking about positive self-talk and disrupting the tape of negativity that often runs through our heads.  One client asked where I thought this negative tape started and I had no idea how to answer him.  Today I tried on my new Swim Bike Mom kit for the first time.  I was inspired by all the amazing pictures being posted on Facebook by my beautiful teammates.  As I looked at these pictures I saw beauty, strength, courage and joy but when it came time to post my own the tape began – OMG look at those fat rolls, look how old you look etc. etc. you get the picture… I realized that if I did not change the tape right that minute I was being a hypocrite.  How could I teach others to begin seeing themselves as amazing if I could not do the same?  So I took a big breath and I posted …

teamkitfront teamkitrear

and I changed the tape – and began to see a strong 54 year old grandma who is working hard at what she does.  I saw happiness and joy in the opportunity to represent such an amazing group of women. I received comments that brought tears to my eyes such as this one from my daughter’s friend Angela in Wisconsin – Holy cow! You look great!!!! And even though I know your grandchildren. . There is no WAY that you are a grandma!!!!!!! that brought tears to my eyes 🙂

I am grateful to know so many amazing strong women and men and my greatest hope is that we all learn to see ourselves the way others see us.  We need to be as kind to ourselves as we are to others.  The greatest gift I can give my daughters and granddaughters is to change the tape to one of believing  and loving myself and from this day forward I pledge to do just that 🙂

I hope you will join me 🙂  Happy Friday!!

The Power of the Rest Day

For the past five weeks I have been working with a new coach and trying to get back in shape.  I am proud that I have missed only three workouts in five weeks and excited about my training for the first time in almost two years.  My coach schedules a weekly rest day on Wednesdays because I work such a long day that I cannot fit a workout in.  I work up to 13 hours counseling people struggling with addiction and it is definitely not restful.  Today I had my first real rest day on the schedule and it was tempting to attack all the things I needed to do.  I needed to clean my house, I needed to shop for furniture, I needed to catch up on paperwork at the office … you get the picture – I have a very long to do list as I am sure most of us do.

As I was trying to figure out what to tackle first I realized something – a rest day should be a rest day in order to be effective.  Fresh snow was falling outside and I had a stack of good books that I had been waiting to tackle.  I was sore from the week’s test sets and weights and I needed to REST.  I headed to the kitchen to make a green smoothie, found a cozy blanket and sat down in the recliner to read and it was HEAVEN.  My body and soul are grateful for the rest and I am rejuvenated and ready to tackle work and training again.

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I am not sure why I have such a difficult time hitting the off button but I do.  I feel the need to fill every single second with go, go, go and rarely take the time to just sit in my soul and enjoy the moment.  Today was a gift and I am grateful that I chose to slow down long enough to enjoy it!!!  Happy Sunday everyone – take some time to do something you love, your to do list will still be there tomorrow.  As for me I am ready to attack my IMLOU training again and that is a very good place to be.

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Renewing My Love For Triathlon Through MAF Training

In 2011 when I set out to do Ironman Arizona I was driven and excited and inspired.  I looked forward to every stroke, pedal and step and despite the health issues I had that year I let nothing stop me from doing what I loved and moving towards my goal.  The next year I signed up for Ironman Canada and had fun training with my girlfriends who were also doing the race but I was a little less motivated and on race day, I’m not going to lie, I just wasn’t really feeling it.  If it wasn’t for the fact that we were doing the race for my friend Julene who was battling cancer I am pretty sure I would have quit.  Since then I have struggled to find motivation.  Last year I signed up for a marathon to try to find a spark and while I did enjoy training it just wasn’t quite what I was looking for.

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Since my marathon in October 2013 and my near miss Boston qualifier I have become lazy.  I struggled to get out the door and although I completed Boise 70.3 it was on minimal training and the results reflected that.  After that race I parked my bike in the garage where it sat until five weeks ago.  I did not go to the pool at all.  I did train for a half-marathon with my daughter but even that was a half-hearted effort.  I was run down, unmotivated and felt like it might be time to retire from sports.  Then I got a call – I had been selected as an ambassador for the Swim Bike Mom team.  I was ecstatic!!  I was still unmotivated but as I heard my new teammates talk about the races they were signing up for I decided I needed to join them at Ironman Louisville 2015.  I signed up and then thought what the hell did I just do – I hate training and every single time I go out for a run I feel like crap!!!  I knew it was time for a change so I hired a local coach and this is where things began to change for me.

I went in and sat down with my new coach and he did a lactate threshold test and determined a heart rate zone that I was going to do all my workouts in for a while.  He kept talking about the MAF training I would be doing and I just thought this was something he called his training.  I had no clue that there was a science behind it and you can read about it here http://philmaffetone.com/maf-test  I was told to do all my runs, bikes and swims in a certain zone.  I went out the first day and could barely even run slow enough to keep my heart rate in this zone.  I had to intersperse walk breaks and I was definitely not tired when I was done.  I was running about 11 minute miles when I had previously ALWAYS run in the 8-9 minute range even when I was doing 20 milers.  I went back to my coach and said I think I just have a high heart rate and we need to up the zones.  He said nope just walk if you need to but STAY IN THE ZONE.

It has been five weeks and I no longer feel beat up.  I look forward to every single workout which is wonderful but here is the best part – I am getting FASTER!!  Here are some results from the test sets I have done –

Swim:

12-9-14                                       12-30-14

400 Free – 6:33.7                        400 Free – 6:15.9

200 Free – 3:09.7                        200 Free – 3:02.4

Run: 5 miles in MAF zone

12-21-14                                     12-28-14

9:58                                            10:05

9:47                                            9:27

10:07                                          9:23

10:02                                          9:16

10:16                                          9:20

I am soooo excited about the improvements I have made over the past five weeks but most importantly I am excited about training again.  I am not beat up and dragging and am looking forward to every single stroke, pedal and step I am taking :):) I am learning to trust my coach and to trust that it is acceptable to slow down and enjoy the process.

As I move into 2015 here is what I have learned about how to find motivation again:

  • Choose a big scary goal – For me it is Ironman Louisville
  • Find someone to hold you accountable – I hired a coach
  • Try something new – MAF training is a whole new way of thinking for me and is forcing me to use my off button
  • Find a tribe of like-minded people to celebrate the journey with – I am so grateful for my Swim Bike Mom Ambassador Team and the Tri-fecta Family Life group on Facebook because their stories inspire me every single day to be the best I can be in all I do and restore my excitement about the sport

Happy New Year to All and may you renew your love for whatever your dreams may be.

Adjusting the lens

Saturday we said goodbye to my good friend Ironman Steveo.  As I sat listening at his memorial I realized something profound – we each have an opportunity to adjust our lens no matter what we are faced with and that ability to adjust can be life-changing.  Steve’s lifetime accomplishments were listed and they were impressive but then they listed his accomplishments since his terminal cancer diagnosis two years ago and I was blown away!!!  In the two years after his diagnosis Steve finished an Executive MBA, he completed Ironman 70.3 Boulder after 13 rounds of chemo, he became the Idaho founder of Debbie’s Dream Foundation to support those with stomach cancer, completed an all day mountain bike ride, he went on a four day bike ride through the Idaho mountains, he travelled to Kona twice and California several times and the list went on and on. He stood at the Ironman Arizona finish two short weeks before his death and presented his son his medal which was a testament of the immense love and support he had for his children.  Clearly Steve adjusted his lens and decided that he was not going to let his diagnosis stop him from living out his life the best way he could.  He was the epitome of sliding into home screaming I LIVED!!!

Steveboulder

Steve was not in denial about his diagnosis – the month he was diagnosed he made videos for the family and one to be played at his service.  He chose who he wanted to speak on his behalf and reviewed with them the words they would say.  I knew in advance that this video would be played at the service and was prepared to feel sad but in true Steveo fashion he left us feeling uplifted and through his words we learned to adjust our lens.  He left us with a few powerful Stevisms –

–work hard and play hard
–always make the right, ethical and moral choice
–think about how to make another person feel good about themselves

simple words to live by but very powerful!!

Julene, Steve’s wife shared that he left a sticky note each day for the family telling them how much he loved them.  He told her every single day that he was proud of her.  He always asked people how they were doing and the best part was he LISTENED to the answer.  He was the first to work in the morning and the last to leave but he always made time for the things he loved including sports, friends and family and as I looked around the church at the nearly 1000 people who were there to honor him I realized that by living out his Stevisms he had touched many lives and he found happiness.

We all have challenges and problems – health issues, family problems, financial woes the list goes on and on but when facing these things we have an opportunity to adjust our lens to focus on the good things we have and to turn our attention to making the world a better place 🙂  From Steve I have learned that each day when I wake up I have a choice to feel sorry for myself about all that is on my plate or to live my life with joy.  I can look inward or focus my lens outward.  By adjusting my lens I can find happiness and that is an amazing thing :):)

Happy Holidays to all!!!  Work Hard, Play Hard and enjoy the ones you love 🙂