Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Ironman CDA #6!

Another Ironman CDA in the books!  As per usual, the course handed all of us some fun obstacles to overcome, making this years race once again challenging just like I love!

Leading up to the race I definitely had more on my plate than usual. "Moving" into our new house for the first time, the first several weeks were spent putting it together and constant work.  Shane took on the brunt of the manual (yard) projects, but it seems like we still have so much more to do!  Guess that's the fun of owning a 100 year old house.  Our pretty garden and landscaping will have to wait until next summer.

My (day) job has just become crazy relentless.  I'd be lying if I said I was happy with it, and while I am in no position to leave my job, I am certainly trying to find a position internally that will (hopefully) lower my stress and give me more time to and energy to focus on doing what I love - working with more athletes and having more focus on my own training.

Oh yah and PUPPY!  Sure has been fun, but it's been a LONG time since we've had a puppy so it definitely added another challenge to the ironman training and recovery ;)  Totally worth it though!

All that said, I went into this race with 2 goals.  1)  HAVE FUN  2) Solid bike.

#1 was certainly met, and #2 I'm still iffy on......

I had some pre-race drama as my garmin was acting up the night before the race.  When I took it off the charger it was showing low battery.  I played with it a bit and I thought I got it all set, but come race morning in transition it was only showing about 20% battery life.  After spending the last 8 weeks working my ASS off on the bike to gains some watts in an attempt to not lose so much time or position on the bike, practicing exactly what I needed to do ON the course with my power meter I got completely stressed out and frustrated.  In a complete panic I called Shane and had him bring him his garmin (which only had about 60%).  I ran into transition and set up the data screens for power on the fly, then tried to pair it to my power meter, but with so many bikes around the watch was unable to pair so I just left it and thought I would try again once on the bike.  Watching my panic I got another Garmin to borrow and throw in my T-2 bag for the run (I wasn't nearly as concerned about the run sans data).

My stress level was definitely higher than it needed to be going into this race, so I spent the first loop of the swim trying to calm myself down.  The swim felt great!  I made a game day decision to wear my new Helix full sleeve because I felt a little chilly the day before in my sleeveless.  I definitely tend to swim on the hot side, but the new wetsuit feels so good.  I was a little surprised when I came out from loop 2 around 33' per my usual 31, so I picked up the effort to try to make up some time.  Loop 2 is always a bit longer because you have to angle out about 50-100yards to the first turn buoy, but overall my swim was about 1' longer than it has been the past 2 years.

I pulled on my new Coeur Speed top that I just gotten that week and headed out to the bike!  I was expecting full hot sun the entire bike so having that extra sun coverage was awesome.  I immediately started messing with my garmin trying to pair with the power meter, but it just wasn't happening. Rather than spend or waste and more time and energy on this, it was time to move on.  I have practiced week in and week out my watts over the course so I had a pretty good idea of how it would "feel."  I felt FANTASTIC on the bike, the hills weren't hard, and I made sure to not push over my intended effort.  As expected some people I knew passed me, but this time I had the energy and legs to go with them, unlike the 70.3.  I was so excited!  The only thing that wasn't feeling awesome was my hunger. I've been training with my home-made nutrition for 2 months with no issues, but for some reason my body just did NOT want to eat today!  I force fed, but ended up going for more of my sugary chews than the salty peanut butter balls.  I knew this would lead me to a calorie deficit so I did whatever I could too keep pushing the more dense nutrition.

As I came back into town for loop 2 I could feel and see the wind had really picked up.  I stopped at special needs grabbed my bottles of Osmo and nutrition and gritted out back to the highway.  As soon as you cross the bridge over the river the wind was INSANE.  The second loop felt like 1 million years to get to the turnaround fighting a horrific headwind.  I was looking at my speed and trying to do math and realizing I going to lose so much time!  I faded a bit more than others, but didn't think it was smart to push any harder against that wind....

As I got off my bike I was so HAPPY, but not sure what to expect from the run.  I took a little extra time in T-2 to go pee and also top off my sodium stores with some pre-load.  As I headed out on to the run my legs felt stiff and my stomach a bit of a mess.  I focused on a short quick cadence, not really looking at my garmin just going off feel.  Once again, my body figured out what it was supposed to be doing and in just a couple of miles I felt right at home just clicking away my miles. Because I was a little low on fuel, I started front loading calories on the run at mile 2.5.  I had 3 gels on me and 3 more in special needs. It was still pretty warm so I used my handheld bottle to drink, but grabbed water and ice and every aid station.  I also stopped at special needs on loop 2 because I was worried I wouldn't have enough energy on my 1 gel I had left to get back for more on loop 3.  I also had another mix of osmo/amino in there so I grabbed it all and headed back out for the second loop. This was my best loop!  I felt strong and happy!  I did spend extra time at each aid station getting oranges, water ( I was thirsty!) and cola, so my splits were slowing a bit, but my actual run pace wasn't!

The course is amazing!  I actually love the 3 loop out and back because I got to see so many people, and I could also see those whom I was gaining on!  I passed a few girls in my AG, but also got passed by one, but I used others that were ahead of me and fading and my motivation to keep going!  Loop 3 definitely felt hard, but I was able to tough it out and just get to that finish line!

While it wasn't my fastest or my best placement, I truly enjoyed every second of the race (ok maybe NOT the extra 20' fighting a headwind on the bike) and considering the time I had spent training was a bit less than normal, I am super happy with the day.  It was an absolute blast, and I don't think I would change a single thing about the day!

I'm not sure what's next on the agenda for me (although I'm committed to next years CDA 70.3!), but for now I'm going to enjoy the rest of the time we are here in this wonderful town playing.... oh and also some fun bike shopping (suggestions welcome)!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Our little Princess

 I was thinking about this post yesterday, not sure if I made up writing it or if it actually existed. Pretty happy for (most) things saved on the internet! We didn't talk much about Juliette being sick, because honestly, she wasn't as far as we knew. She had been sporty spice going on most of the puppy walks (in fact hopping out of bed way earlier than normal to make sure she didn't miss out). Chasing him around, running around with her new lab friends and just loving life. 


Last week she was having some problems in her mouth, was drooling and the puppy kept obsessing over it so Shane took her in on Friday and we found out she needed to have 4 teeth extracted. She's had some dental problems, but we've watched them closely so I was really shocked at the quick turn for the worse. She was sent home with antibiotics and after 2 days she was full of energy and even got to go to my race on Sunday! It was so fun to see her out there running with me again for even just a minute. Monday everything changed. She had no energy, wouldn't eat and had this look that was just all too familiar. My gut just knew something was wrong as she paced around the house on wobbly legs. I came into the living room to check on her and found her staring over a pile of blood. We immediately rushed her to the the vet ER to be checked out. It's almost scary how many vets I know in this area! The doc was the one who saw Baxter multiple times last summer so I immediately felt at ease. She was so sweet and gentle with J, just like she was last summer with Bubba. While there wasn't much she could do to diagnose her, her vitals were ok so her best assumption was that the antibiotic for the teeth had really done a number on her stomach. She injected her with some anti-nausea and sent us home with some as well. The first priority was to get some food in her stomach so we stopped at wallgreens and got a syringe, baby food, chicken broth and rice.

We tried everything to get her to eat, but basically I was using the syringe to squirt the baby food in her mouth. We just wanted her stomach to have something in it so we could give her a pain pill. She slept (on the bed of course) off and on that night, but when we got up in the morning she had no energy or strength. Shane carried her outside to go to the bathroom (where we found she was still bleeding) and we nestled her in my office for the day. I continued to syringe water into her mouth (she loved that!) and tried to keep the puppy away from her. As soon as the vet's office was open I called and explained her situation so when the doctor called me back we made plans to have her looked at that afternoon. It was a sad day. Last summer I was so close to all these horrible symptoms with Baxter, yet he continued partying for 4 months fighting to stay with us, but right here in front of our eyes, Juliette was fading. As much as I wanted to think positive, my gut just knew how sick she was.

After 2 hours at the vet looking at her in my arms as the doctor told us her blood count, we knew what we had to do. Without a definitive reason for why she got so sick, the obvious culprit is the F$^KING cancer. While we were under the impression that her type (derma/skin) wouldn't spread, every symptom she had showed otherwise and there was just nothing that we could (or would take the risk of putting her in more pain to) do for her.

5.5 years ago this sweet princess came into our lives to heal Baxter's broken heart. I will never understand how at 8 years old a family could just turn her in. She nestled right into our crazy family traveling to Mexico and Idaho and wearing silly medals while posing for photos. She did her best to take up running, when really she just wanted to sprint around then eat all the food. She learned how to snuggle and make friends. She even found herself "adopted" into another family to help keep her company after her BFF Baxter left us. 

After the loss of Baxter just 9 months ago, this sweet face kept me company and healed my broken heart. I took her just about everywhere I went, she never left my side and did her very best Bubba impressions snuggling up to me every chance she could. She protected me while Shane was in California and she she kept me on my toes acting like a puppy again. I can't even imagine what my days and nights would have been without her. I will forever be thankful for her spirit and unconditional love.

It's almost like she spent her time with us to make all our hearts happy, and finally when she felt like we were ok, she was ready to go back and be with the boy that showed her how to be a true Vizsla, full of love and pillows and hot dogs!

So much love for this girl and the only thing that makes this easier is knowing she's running around with Baxter!

Sunday, April 3, 2016


I've missed writing my thoughts and daily adventures down in this blog.  I love going back months, even years to see where I was this time xx year and deciding if I've grown in a way that makes me happy and proud.  Unfortunately, my new job has turned out to be a whole lot more time consuming and stressful than years past at the same time (fortunately) my coaching business is in full bloom leaving a whole heck of a lot less time to write!  I used to sit down with my recovery time snuggling on the couch with the dogs relaxing in my recovery boots and typing, but now those times are less frequent and typically after 10-12hrs a day on a computer I'd rather veg out and stare at mindless TV :).  In an effort to recap the last 2.5 months I'm going to do do a little bullet point catch up so here we go!
  • After 3 months of very little training, I used my WTC Insurance and received a full refund for my Oceanside entry.  Best $40 EVER spent.  My heart wasn't in it and my body still needed more time. My doctor not only agreed, but was proud of me for making this decision.
  • When I decided to back out of Oceanside I also decided to commit to CDA 70.3 and full.  When in Rome.....
  • I slowly re-dedicated myself back to training.  I ran two half marathons learning that a) you can't fake run fitness and b) running faster than you are fit to run takes a heck of a lot longer to recover from.
  • Went on a girls trip to wine country.  Spent way too much $ on wine and lived off bread and cheese for 3 days.  It was glorious.
  • On said trip, got drunk and ended up booking last minute flights to Maui to watch one our closest friends get married.  YOLO!
  • Had a completely unplanned amazing 4 day vacation in paradise.  Totally out of my comfort zone and one of the best and most needed trips away with my husband.
  • Spent the next 4 days working 12+hours to catch up and prep for hosting my 3rd annual spring training camp!
  • Once again got completely inspired by watching the athletes reach new achievements and push themselves harder and further than they thought they could go.
  • Surprised myself with the fitness I didn't know I still had!
  • Got completely rejuvenate and ready to get back to the grind! 
  • Aside from camp weekend, just finished off my biggest training week since IMAZ and I feel fantastic (and hungry).  14k+ yards of swimming, 8hrs of cycling, 30+m running and 90' of strength training.  The kind of week I used to do on a regular basis but have struggled with over the past year.  
We're now on the 8 week countdown until we move back to CDA for the first summer in our new house!  The winter has flown by so fast, I almost can't believe it's time.  I'm super excited, yet also a bit overwhelmed thinking about it as I feel like I barely just unpacked from our Christmas trip.  I feel like life is on this crazy fast track and some days I just wish there were more time to relax and just be.  I couldn't imagine life without everything in it, so I just keep plugging away and managing my time as best as I can.

Next up - another wedding weekend in Napa followed by Adult Spring Break, aka Rocky Point Tri!  A weekend away at the beach with our friends, and our first time renting a house in over 10 years.  I can't wait to get back to Bub's beach and have one last hurrah with our friends before heading out for the summer, but also before putting my head down and my focus into my training.

So much fun on  this girls trip!!!

Moments before out running my fitness and watching my BFF PR!


We did NOT want to leave...

Camp kickoff!

Tri 4 Cure 

"You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough" 
 Mae West

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Tears, sadness, joy, love, wine, dogs, and dreams

It's been 8 weeks since IMAZ. 8 weeks since my heart fell apart over 140.6 miles.  It's taken 8 weeks to climb myself out of a big deep hole.

After a year of heartache, stress and pushing myself up and over what seemed like mountains of obstacles, I am finally started to feel whole again.

2015 started out so full of promise, so full of excitement. My husband embarking on the work opportunity and challenge of a lifetime, my coaching business exactly where I wanted it to be and my favorite Ironman on the schedule.

They say when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Well, I took those lemons and made lemonade over and over until there was just no juice left in the tank.  I trained on auto pilot, stressed out every single minute I was not at home.  I missed my husband, I longed for more time with my Baxter. We emptied our bank accounts over and over with truck repairs, new AC unit, pool repair and emergency vet surgery and bills.

I got sick multiple times, my adrenals were inside out and my hair began to fall out. I didn't sleep, I lost my appetite, yet somehow I got up and I clicked off the green boxes in Training Peaks, I logged onto my work computer I cried over and over and then I woke up and I did it all over again.

After Ironman I slept. I enjoyed laughs with friends and wine until well, until someone cut us off. I joined some of those same friends and went to "prom."

I let the boxes in TP turn red, and I chose when and what I wanted to do. I paced my friends to PRs and dressed my dog up and brought her to a bar. I curled my hair, I wore mascara.

I spent 2 amazing weeks with my husband building our dream home, Bub's place. We laughed as we opened yet another bottle of wine, because well, it was Tuesday. We held hands and walked to the boat on Christmas and made conversation with strangers.  We woke up on New Years Day and drank as much alcohol as we could consumer in 60' gaining courage to join 500+ crazy "friends" and jump into 40deg water.  I "ran' in 25 degrees, snow and stopped to enjoy the beauty.

 I got sick yet again, and hopefully for the last time, and 2 weeks later I am feeling like a different person. The red boxes in TP are now green, I am finding a slow twitch of race motivation.  I look at pictures of Baxter and I smile instead of cry. I'm able to stay up drinking wine and watching the bachelor with a girlfriend until my eyes are heavy, then wake up and smash a run and feel that high.

And at the end of the day, I look at this little girl, and celebrate the blessings I DO have, and the people that surround me.

Cheers to what's next, what memories we've made and to all the people that helped me, loved me and carried me through the hardest of times.

"The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love."
-- Hubert H. Humphrey

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

#BubbaDay at IMAZ and saying goodbye

A few weeks after IMCDA when the fog of racing 11+hours in an inferno lifted, I realized that I had more fire in my belly. With the support of many friends I joined an amazing charity  and signed up for IMAZ.(seriously, if you are EVER thinking of racing for a cause, this foundation is top notch, and the next time I race IMAZ, it will be with them!). This wasn't a quick decision, but because my training for CDA had been less than perfect due to weddings and trips and then both of my dogs being diagnosed with cancer within a couple of weeks, I wanted another shot at Ironman, and pushing my limits to see if I could qualify for Kona. I did my research on the start list, and while there were definitely a few very top athletes in my AG, it wasn't as intimdating as it had been in the past with a dozen plus names in contention.

IMCDA fatigue faded and Michelle and I got to work. I spent a LOT of time climbing hills. On the bike, on the run. I pushed max watts and was convinced my legs were going to fall off and my heart was going to explode. And just as my fitness was starting to really feel great life took some more turns and Baxter started to go downhill. The entire month of September there were signs and I started to get scared leaving him alone. And, just like that one day I came home and there he was sitting on the floor staring into a corner, and I knew the time was coming so soon.

Without going back to all of what happened again, I'll just say that 8 weeks out from Ironman my world was flipped upside down. 

As a coach and athlete I know the affects of stress on our bodies. 6 months of ups and downs caring for my sick dogs, finding out my company lost the account that I work on and I needed to find a new job, my husband working in another state and trying to train harder and stronger than ever to reach a goal.  I wasn't sleeping, my appetite was lacking, and if I'm honest with myself while I was doing 95% of my training, I wasn't all in. 

When we finally had to let go of Baxter I shut my grieving down and got right back into the saddle,  literally < than 24hours later to ride my bike for 5 hours. We packed up our CDA rental and I was home 3 short days later.  I headed for a checkup with my doctor and when I received the results 10 days later after our trip to Mexico to say goodbye to our house and bring Baxter to his beach,  reality set in. 

My body shut down.  I had the flu and a sinus infection, so talking with my doc was perfect timing. She told me that my adrenals and cortisol were absolutely tanked. My doctor (an athlete herself) wasn't sure how I was functioning let alone training. I had 4 weeks to get my shit together and try to turn my health around so I did what I could. I grounded myself to home, only really leaving to train.  I ate well and tried to keep stress as low as possible. I was advised that due to the low cortisol levels, fueling during training was extra important as my body was unable to really process fat for fuel and truly needed the sugar/carbs. I didn't really change much here as I always practice race day fueling, but I did take care to make sure I went into every workout properly fueled, then recover.

Things were looking better and I was feeling better!  In the days leading up to the race my body started to feel READY.  It was SO stress free and relaxing! I had to push any doubts out of my head and just focus on the race, and that is exactly what I did.

The swim and the bike went pretty much right as planned!  I really enjoyed the rolling start.  It was stress free and for at least half of the swim it was smooth sailing (for me). The return stretch was much more aggressive, and I found myself getting a bit frustrated, but just kept swimming! For once I didn't think about my time, I just tried to focus on the next part of the race!

Swim 1:07:20 - 11th AG.  Last year was 1:07:25 and 14th & 2013 1:10:01 and 16th so despite not feeling like my swim training was awesome this summer (just didn't have that speed or confidence) I'm pretty happy with that!

Transition was super quick and I was out on the bike feeling good. Because I had trained all season with power I had something new and solid to pace myself off. I have worked on strength on the bike so much and Michelle and I talked about bumping up my race watts to try to be more competitive on the bike. I stuck to my plan at the top end of my watts the entire race, but as I saw the fast swimmers out ahead of me gaining time I had to just keep pushing, but not go out of what I new my abilities were in order to run. 

When the wind and rain and cold settled in, I was honestly just laughing. Mother nature truly does control the day, and all we can do is keep doing what we know how! I kept pushing the watts, staying aero and trying to get all my fuel in. My stomach was not wanting my typical solid foods, so I started chewing on some pepto to get it settled.  I came off the bike a few 100 calories short, but feeling pretty good. I knew I had passed a few girls in my AG on the bike, but also knew at least 2 were so far out in front it was going to take a small miracle on the run to even get near them.

Bike 5:35:34 - 7th AG.   14' 5:44:55 - 10th AG 13' 5:18:45 - 6th AG. 

As I started running my legs felt pretty good, but my stomach was not.  I sipped on my Osmo and just kept my cadence up, letting the pace settle. 

Running in the rain felt awesome, but at about mile 3 when we had to hit the thick mud it was not so fun. I followed people in front of me and tried to find the best tracks, but really it was more of an obstacle. I started my plan of gel every 4 miles and that's when things started to go bad. My stomach wanted nothing to do with gels. I kept trying to get them down, but pace was slowing as my energy was fading (this is something I haven't experienced in years as I've had a great nutrition plan!). I started going through each aid station to see if anything sounded good, but it didn't.  After my 3rd attempt at a gel, I just gave up and handed my bottle off to a friend. I got through 20 miles of that run on a little cola, sips of water, but more importantly the support and cheers from my friends, team and husband. I teared up almost every time I saw them, but without them I would have been out on that course a much, much longer time.

In the final miles I had a hard time staying focused.  I was so emotionally and physically drained my eyes just wanted to shut. Then, somewhere after mile 21 I looked up and saw a rainbow.  In the days after Baxter passed so many people talked about the magical rainbow bridge where dogs go to wait for their humans. To be honest everything about the story doesn't sit right with me. The idea of Baxter sitting somewhere waiting for me breaks my heart. I don't know what I think or what I believe, but for some reason I couldn't make peace with the whole rainbow bridge thing and put it out of my mind until I saw one running east on the course.  More tears and more emotion took over and the rest of the race is a blur.  As I headed down the final stretch of Rio Salado and all the cheers support overwhelmed me I got to that finish line and couldn't even hold my hands up. 

I had this amazing sense of relief.  It's like all the grieving I needed to do 6 weeks ago happened over the 4:15 of running that marathon.

Run 4:15:52 - 8th AG  14' 4:00:53 - 8th AG  13' 3:56:32 - 5th AG

It was almost surreal looking at my splits from the run.  When I was out there I felt like I was barely moving, yet with all the walking through aids and multiple potty stops my pace only slowed a bit.  My legs had it all to run my planned 3:45 marathon, but my stomach or whatever else was happening with me that day didn't have it. 

I know many people were worried of my disappointment in the day, but I can say without a doubt, while of course I wish my body had cooperated, even on MY best day, the top 3 girls were stronger and faster than me. To make it to the start line that day with everything I had going on was a win in itself and I learned so much about my mental strength, and grit.  I had support that I never dreamed of, and by choosing to do this race under a charity, WE helped 20+ children receive a life changing surgery. 

I don't know what races are next for me, but as I'm sure you all can guess, I'm not done. Right now, I'm going to let my body and my mind heal, rest and recover.  My heart is full and happy and while I'm still so, so sad missing Baxter, I also feel like I can finally breathe.

I have a list full of names and addresses to thank the many people that have helped me and supported me these past few months and I truly hope each of you know how much you and everything you have done has meant to me.