Monday, December 31, 2012

Sadness turns to dreams

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." - Einstein

In a year filled with so many highs and lows, I find it hard to reflect on the amazing things, when such an overwhelming sense of loss is there with them.

I spent the past week or so in my favorite place, with my family, but as much fun as we all had - I couldn't help but feel the empty hole in my heart.  There were times in this past week where I literally felt my mom here.  Albeit it her rolling her eyes as my dad poured me yet another birthday shot, or when I got a last minute email from my uncle (her baby brother) telling me he was heading into town.  She even came to me in my dreams (unfortunately not the best of dreams).  Non the less, she was here.  I can only hope that while she may have been rolling her eyes at our imbibing, she was also smiling high above as we all sat giggling together enjoying dinner, all at the same table…
And, at each beautiful sunset I thought of her knowing she was out there, up there, somewhere she was enjoying the beauty in all of the things she loved.  No pain, no sickness, just happy and weightless.

While my mom was with me this past week, I know without a doubt that she was with me all year long as I accomplished things I wasn't sure were possible.  I accomplished goals that I didn't even know I had.  

I ran my heart out in our Tri for the Cure Event and beat some of our most impressive local athletes completely shocking myself, just weeks after we lost her.  It was almost as if I weren't even in my own body.

I used my new motto of "never give up," and while I could have sworn the usual winner of my favorite race, Rocky Point Triathlon, was going to pass me at any minute… I just kept going.  I won my very first overall race, crossing the finish with tears in my eyes.

While there were many other days, and events where my mom was there - there was nothing like my big race of the year, Ironman Canada.  From miles 14 on I literally felt like the wind was at my back.  I know without a doubt that I had angel wings on me that day.  My fastest two miles of the day were the last 2, and my face hurt from smiling…. I have never, in my life had such a euphoric feeling as I did on that day.

As I crossed the finish line, for the first time in months I felt no pain.  I wasn't sad.  It's something that I can't describe.  While I never want to relive what I went through this past year, I can't help but bask in some of these amazing memories and moments.

As I start this new year with some uncertainty, I'm going to use my motto that carried me through the whole year.  Never give up, dream big.  
“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”  – Lao Tzu

I wish everyone a year of amazing things, a year of firsts, of bests, of everything you could ever want, imagine and dream…

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tuck and Roll

Yesterday was my last official race of the 2012 Season.  It was my third time doing the Tucson Half Marathon, and by far the most seamless, and enjoyable (minus the dig deep effort) run race I've ever experienced.

I actually didn't even plan on signing up for this race.  I've always had an urge to do a hometown half marathon, the Fiesta Bowl, but when the opportunity came up to join my buddy Andrew down in Tucson all inclusive with a pacer set to give us both huge PR's, I just couldn't resist.  So, I tagged along with them and before I knew it we were at the start line for the race.

It was an unbelievably beautiful day.  Super chilly to start, but with a few layers on and the sun quickly rising it made for absolutely PERFECT race conditions.  Since I've done this race a few times, I didn't really have to do any planning.  I knew the course, I knew the logistics. It was all about putting in the miles, having a strategy and getting it done.

I basically had 6 weeks to train after Soma, with a run focus.  Michelle actually had me running a day or 2 more than I would normally do, but she seems to have found a way to get me to believe that I'm a lot more durable than I've think I am, and so much stronger than my past.  I had some super easy aerobic runs, a few track race pace mile repeats and even a double run with the second one ending faster than race pace.  Best thing about having a coach.  NO thinking, no self doubt.  I just DO.  I read my schedule, I know the plan and I execute.  I don't second guess (although at times wonder where the hell she came up with this stuff and how much coffee she had when she wrote the plan).

The goal time was 1:35.  I don't even know why that number popped up.  It wasn't something I've always wanted to hit.  It wasn't a time that would qualify me for anything, and it wasn't a time that would put me in the running for an award.  It was just a time.  A time that was 2 minutes faster than my goal time for a half last year,that, at the time that would have qualified me for NYC marathon.  It was a time that would give me a 3.5  min PR and it was a time that I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined I would actually every accomplish.

"No dreamer is ever too small; no dream is ever too big." Anonymous 

The plan was to start out at 7:20's for a couple of miles to get our legs warmed up.  Settle in to race pace 7:15s until about mile 10 or so and then lay it all out there.  We nailed it.  Our 2 miles were  ~7:17 and while still cold and stiff it wasn't hard.  We slowly gained momentum and after about 20 minutes the miles were just clicking off one by one.  We played on the downhill sections and gained a second here or there.  We nailed each mile at the goal pace, or faster aside from mile 11-12 which is the only real elevation gain section.  And, let me tell you.  That section HURT.  That's where the pacer was key and her motivation and words were relentless and effective.  As soon as mile 12 was done I knew our goal was in the bag.  I picked it up a bit and left every single thing I had out there in the last 1.2 miles.  While I didn't have quite the 25yard sprint that Andrew did, I didn't fade.  1:34:41.  Just under 4min PR.

We both crossed the finish line with HUGE PRs and such an amazing sense of accomplishments.  I can't thank Andrew and our pacer Jeanine enough for being such amazing partners for the day.  It was painful yet so much fun.

This last race of the seasons ends a year that has been full of so much joy, sadness, ups and downs.  It has been a year where I have found a strength inside myself I never knew existed.  I've learned to dream, to believe, to never doubt.  While there are many things with my personal life that I would give everything I had to change, I know that everything does happen for a reason and if I can make anything out of the lemons that were given to me this year it's most certainly that the sky is the limit, and that no dream is too big.  With a side of lemondrop martini, of course.

I've managed to have a race season that started with run races in January, and instead of ending with the race of my life at Ironman Canada in August, I recovered and set out to break new personal goals and achievements.

I'm so happy for the support and belief that my amazing coach Michelle has given me for the past 2 years.  She's pushed me to do things I never in my wildest dreams thought I could do.  She helped me achieve PR's in nearly every single race this year, and PRs at every single distance from 5k to half marathon to sprint/olympic triathlons to marathon, to Ironman.

I can't wait to see what the future holds, and can't wait to start the new year with new dreams and new goals.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


“All things are possible until they are proven impossible.” 
 Pearl S. Buck

Over the past month I've done a lot of thinking.  With so many life changing things that have happened to me this year, I've spent many nights daydreaming myself to sleep with what ifs.  I think about where I was at the beginning of this year, and where I am now.

I think back to where I was in March - I have a great job with all the flexibility one can ask for, and it still pays the bills.  I have a family.  We drive each other crazy, but they are here.  My mom, my dad, my sister, my niece my husband.  I have a husband who is a dreamer.  We love to sit over cocktails at night and talk about our plans, our goals, our future…

When I think back to then, to March… to those thoughts, so many things have changed.  Instead of knowing what tomorrow will bring, I'm faced with uncertainty.  I no longer have my mom.  I no longer no what to expect at the holidays.  In 5 more weeks I no longer have a job.  Will the bills be paid?  What will I do?

What do I WANT to do?

I've never been much of a live in the moment kind of person.  I make a plan, I follow a plan, I almost always know what to expect.  But here I find myself with so much uncertainty.  So many things I would love to do, but not knowing how or where to start them.

I suppose I should take this time in my life to dream.  To make changes and strive to do things I never thought possible, or maybe never dreamed I could do.

“Life is a journey, not a destination.” 
 Ralph Waldo Emerson

I hope that someday soon I will go to bed not thinking about all the uncertainty.  I hope to not think about this past year and all the change.

I know that my future has some exciting and fun adventures.  I just wish I had any clue what those were… Until then I will do what I do.  Go for a run, sip my martini and hide the fact that all this uncertainty has my scared out of my mind!

Then, I will remind myself that the possibilities are endless...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Soma… yet again!

So, the 5th time was definitely a success, unfortunately just a bit off from my goal!  I had a crazy, but really not THAT crazy, goal of going sub 5hrs.  The numbers were there (yes I ran them over and over and over until I wasn't thinking clearly).  Last years times were ~35, 1:40, 1:57.   I While my swim is strong, that swim is just never fast for me so I figured I would swim about a 33mins but after wetsuit stripping and getting to the T-1 timing mat I woudl be about the same 35.  I was dead on.  I (over) analyzed past bike times and people I've been racing (bike splits) similar too and thought, on paper, I should be able to bike a 2:35.  The thought of that seemed crazy tho, so I settled on a 2:37 goal.  My run has been improving greatly, especially in the past run and I thought a 1:45 totally doable!  Add those up and they are damn near a 4:59!

I swam my ass off.  2 super fast girls bolted out in front and were instantly gone.  I had maybe 2 other girls with me, and one was right next to me so I decided to pull behind her and save energy.  Unfortunately the sun was straight in our faces making it impossible to see and she kept STOPPING so I finally went around her and pretty much swam the rest of the race by myself.  I caught up to other waves but it was really not all that crowded.  I swam as hard as I felt I could, but sure enough by the time I got out of the water my watch read just shy of 33:5x so,  and by the time I got wetsuit stripped and into T-1 my official "swim" time is 35.

I left transition with a super speedy cyclist team mate.  My goal was to try to keep her at least in sight.  I managed that well for the first lap and she had only gained about 90 seconds on me (she is FAST, so yes I considered 90seconds good).  I was cycling hard, but my lower gears were giving me a lot of problems, so I spent a lot of time messing with them.  I finished loop 1with a avg pace of 21.1… not quite as fast as I hoped, but within myself.  Then things started to get ugly.  Loop 2 I had my first mechanical problem.  Same thing happened at IMCA on a descend.  As I got into my hardest gear and actually put pressure on the crank, my chain popped off the rear derailleur jamming it up, leaving me unable to pedal.  I'd be lying if I said I just hopped back on my bike after fixing it with my head totally in the game.  I had a huge mental struggle, getting mad that my paces had dropped and it really screwed with me.  By loop 3 I had lost even more time.  Partially due to my attitude, but I had yet another mechanical, this time worse because I was trying to fix it by shifting gears only to jam up both the front and rear derailleurs taking even more time to fix it right before a short steep hill.

Long story short I didn't have a pretty bike split.  My time was 2:44.  I was passed by a girl in my age group and my sub 5 goal was out of reach.  I struggled with getting my head back in the game.  I hate to say, but I even considered dropping out.  I just wasn't feeling it.

THANKFULLY, I bitch slapped myself into remember why I do this stuff.  I choose to do it because I enjoy it.  I enjoy being out there, I enjoy the work, the pain, the accomplishments.

I had a quick T-2 and headed out on my run.  It took me all of 1 mile to get my head back in the game and realize I was going to finish this day, regardless of the outcome.  I felt good, strong, steady.  While I was slowly loosing my goal pace of 8min miles, I was not fading nearly as bad as many others out there.  As I passed through the transition area heading out for loop 2 I was overwhelmed by the cheers of my friends out there.  My first local team and family, Racelab.  My training partners, my husband.  It lifted me and carried me the entire second loop.  I never looked back, I just kept moving forward.

In the end I had a very solid run.  I took 10mins off last years run time and managed a surprise 2nd place in my age group.  My first 70.3 distance podium.

While I'm still mad at my bike, I've also got ideas of how to fix the mechanical an some changes to make to help me ride stronger (starting with a new cassette).  I also reviewed the race results and it looks like everyone's bike times were slower by about 3ish minutes from last year, so despite my mechanical issues, I'm sure I would have been slower than planned as well (and it also makes me feel better about my crappy bike time).

I'm ending the season tired, happy and completely satisfied with my accomplishments.  It's been a tough, tough year personally but I've also found myself finding new dreams and goals I never could have imagined possible.

I've got a fantastic life, I'm healthy happy and besides the minor detail that I'm about to be jobless…. the possibilities are endless

Cheers ;)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dream Big

Of course a post with "dream" in the title would come right after the ever-inspiring Ironman World Championships, right?

I know everyone will have their favorite stories of the day, people that surprised them, endured, kicked ass, survived.  Who didn't love watching Leanda Cave run herself into first place, IM World Champ?  In fact, Shane and I were at sushi happy hour, sitting at the bar with my iphone leaning up against the menu watching the live feed.  Our bartender/waiter actually came around to see why the hell we were staring at the menu, #weirdos!   He was relieved to see we were actually watching something.

When our bill came, Shane looked up at him and said, "extra point (tip!) if you can name what it is that we are watching."   His response… Ugh, Kswiss Triathlon????   Lol.  Yah, something like that!  When we told it what it was, his response was "oh, cool!  have you heard of Ragnar?  I heard it's like really really hard!"

We just laughed.

I followed this year's race and pre-race coverage more closely than ever.  I had envy.  I wanted to be there.  I wanted to be there like never before… Could it be because I can, for the fist time, actually see I may have the potential of actually earning my way there?  You know, in the past I always said I had no interest in racing in Kona.  I never entered the lottery, I never thought it possible.  I said the heat would kill me, the ocean scares me (It does!).  But now I find myself longing for it.  I find myself looking at AG qualifying times and thinking, maybe, just maybe I could get there some day!  I don't know when it will be be, or what race will help me get there, but for once I'm starting to actually believe it can happen!

As I sit here thinking about all the possibilities, and dreaming big I'm in my first day of taper week before my next, and last triathlon of the season.  Soma Half Ironman.  My love/hate relationship with this race continues year after year, yet I somehow keep finding myself on that starting line.  I really wasn't going to do it this year.  I wanted to bask in my ironman canada high and recover for a while. Shane was going to to do it to put some revenge on his body that failed him at IMCA.  So, about 4 weeks out I realized how quickly I recovered from IMCA and was going to be training along with him anyway, so I might as well do it.  I registered 2 weeks ago!

Now I find that I'm excited for this Sunday.  I've got some run confidence going into the race and have nothing to lose by just going for it!  The only thing that doesn't feel 100% are my bike legs (and the couple extra lbs I'm carrying around in my post Ironman bliss!), but I'm hoping that's just from my harder running efforts.  Either way.  100degrees or 75degrees, come this weekend I'll put my last effort forward for the year and put it all out there.

Go Big or Go Home!

Thursday, September 13, 2012


I'm officially in my 12th year of running!  Crazy to think that.  Actually, crazy to think and God forbid, say anything like that, dating myself.  I'm realizing this a lot lately, mostly as I'm looking for a new job and reviewing my resume and finding myself looking over my history and experience and realizing I'm no young pup anymore… I didn't just graduate college (even tho I'm still paying for the stupid thing), and I continually get looked over instead of getting carded anymore :(

Not that I'm feeling old or anything lately.  I mean, I'm officially going to enter into my racing age group here in a few months, and realize that turning 35 means I'm getting just that much closer to another decade.


Back to my point.  RUNNING!  I really really do have a love hate relationship with it.  I've always loved it, even back when I was first starting and did all my runs on the treadmill.  Even after years of injury resulting in a comeback pace of 11 min miles.  EVEN after thousands of dollars spent on Physical Therapy, ART and a gazillion running assessments, insoles and custom orthotics.  Yup, I still freaking love it.  I love sweating my ass off, breathing hard, chatting with my friends, my husband while running the same loops over and over.  I love running with my dogs.  Watching their ears flap against the wind, and their tongues hanging out the side.  The smiles when we stop and they collapse on the tile to cool down.

I love that I have found lululemon and I've never in my life been so comfortable in running clothes.  Perfect support, no chafing and cute enough to wear anywhere.  My wallet doesn't so much love this, but at least I look cute!

Over the years I've tried just about every stability and neutral shoe made.  Nike, Saucony, Adidas, Brooks, Asics… Yup, tried them all.  No insert, custom insert.  Every time I think I've found the perfect match, the shoe changes and then it all goes to shit.  I get massive blisters or something just feels off.  Last year when I was doing a lot of running/fall racing, I went for yet another shoe/running evaluation and went a little bit out of my comfort zone and purchased a light weight race/trainer.  Not one of the fancy slip on/no sock type shoe, but a big step (for me) in that direction.  I did a lot of races in those shoes and thought it was such a big step for me to finally be able to wear a real RACE shoe!  My IT bands seemed to be doing fine with them, so I was sold.

When I joined Team Newton/Athletes for a Cure for Ironman Canada, part of our sponsorship included 2 pairs of Newton shoes.  I have to admit I didn't really care much about this, I just sorta had this mindset that those were for real runners.  The ones who don't get injured and don't need support.  That or the stupid ones who just buy them cause they are light and look cool.
I went online and picked out the one that was described as stability, the Motus/Motion.  It was bright orange and way retro looking.  When I got the package in the mail and I was instantly in love with the goofy look and then I tried them on and decided even if running in them didn't work out I was still going to be happy!  They felt like a soft, weightless slipper!

I slowly started to build into them.  Running 3 miles here and there.  It took a few runs to get use to the sole having such an extended base (probably more so because I am a klutz and rarely pick up my feet). I started really liking how I felt in the shoes and grabbing them more often, especially for my transition runs.  They just felt GOOD.  

Just before my half ironman in July I tried them out for a 7mile race pace transition run.  It was a hard run, but I felt fantastic and had absolutely no pain in my feet/hips or IT bands.  I decided to wear them for the race.  The run course had so much slanted road running, like so slanted we were actually running next to the curb.  I was totally freaked out, but I finished the run with a new Half IM PR, no blisters and most importantly absolutely NO IT band pain…

My next long run before Ironman Canada was a 22 miler.  I was scared for the distance, but since I was going to unknown territory anyway, decided why not try the Newtons out for the long run too?  

Guess what?  Awesome run, no blisters and again NO IT band pain.  I was sold.  I made the decision to wear them for the marathon and am so freaking happy I did.  Not only did I have a personal best IM marathon split by 35mins, I also PR'd my stand alone marathon time by 13mins on a much harder course.  I never had any pain, ended the race with just a small blister where I always get it.  My feet weren't sore, my hips felt better than they did before the race.

Science and genetic make-up and studies and all that information that consumer goods products throw at us is totally overwhelming.  I'm definitely a try and see kinda person, and as far as I can see Newton shoes are an amazing product!  I'm super excited to keep running in them, and maybe some day I'll be confident enough to try on of their racing shoes.  

As a side note, one of my biggest issues I've had over the years with my running shoes has been the durability.  My shoes last 200-250miles MAX before I start to feel pain in my knees, back, and IT bands.  Add that up and you are spending a lot of money.  I recently talked with the Newton team at IMCA and found out that their shoes typically last about 400+miles and up to 900 on the really experienced runners.  Even though the shoe (that I wear) is pricey at $175, I figured even if they last me 300-350 miles I'm still saving money.  

Right now they are offering a 60day money back guarantee program.  If you have ever thought about trying them, why not do it now?  Shane's next to give them a go.  He's been a Asics runner for about 6 years now…. 

p.s.  no, i'm not sponsored by them, I just love to share when I find something I really really love!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Post Ironman thoughts and activities…or lack there of

It's been just over 2 weeks since Ironman Canada, and after a weekend of laying around on the couch and stuffing my face with (more) chocolate and (more) wine, I'm feeling so much better!  Now, instead of worrying about some nagging pain, soreness or post IM injury I just keep thinking how fat I'm going to get cause I haven't stopped freaking eating!!

Rather than bore you with my last 14 days of activities or lack there of,  think one of my A.D.D. bullet point posts will suffice.

  • I still can't get over my race.  No matter how many times I'm asked about the day, or my highs and lows, my answer is still the same.  It was a PERFECT day.  I still pinch myself thinking about how amazing I felt the entire time.
  • I'm still shocked that I'm an 11hr Ironman finisher.  And, not an 11hr IMAZ, or IMFL or another flatter, faster type course, but the infamous IM Canada.  
  • Instead of back pedaling and thinking "woulda, shoulda, coulda" done this or that differently, I find myself in unfamiliar territory thinking "Can I really….. do XXX or X?"  It's a scary and exciting place to be.
  • This is the first time after an Ironman that I have no nagging pain, or injury.  Am I finally becoming more durable?
  • My friends tricked me after a couple of glasses of wine into saying I would do another marathon and try to BQ.  Those bitches are mean and older than me and don't have to run as fast and forget that I've retired from stand alone marathons (twice).  Somehow I still love them (the friends, not the marathon).
  • I can't stop eating (or drinking) sugary stuff.  I'm beginning to wonder if my body is having power gel and gu withdrawls, thus forcing me to go after the chocolate (dipped in PB), open another bottle of wine or have a nice cold blue moon with an orange slice on pretty much a daily basis.  
  • I'm desperately trying to at least have natural alternatives to my dove dark chocolate (dipped in PB), by stocking up on as many fruits as possible.
  • I ate an entire mini watermelon yesterday.  I tasted like heaven.  Much like it did when my body refused to take any more forced gels in at about mile 20 in Canada so I switched to watermelon.  
  • Every time I've done an ironman I've ended up having something different "save me" during the run.  The first year it was pretzels, I believe.  The second time chicken broth, 3rd & 4th oranges WITH cola and this time, watermelon and lots of water.  Weird.
  • Speaking of peanut butter (always on my mind), when I went back to Costco last week I found that my beloved Kirkland natural peanut butter has been replaced (again).  Can't they just leave it alone.  The verdict on the new one is still out.
  • Just like the thought of living without peanut butter, I'm not sure what I would do without my super magic seaweed pills, e21.  I've been using this product for about 18 months now and find myself feeling stronger and stronger during my longer workouts.  Today, I actually had some twinges of cramping in the pool (NEVER happens to me), then when I followed it up with a Kinesis class one of my quads started to cramp right away.  I popped two pills and immediately felt relief.
  • Yah, I went back to Kinesis today.  If my crazy ass friends think I'm going to run a marathon then I have to get my glutes and inner thigh muscles stable for all that stupid running.
  • I really do love running.  I just fear injury.  I'm so not going to be able to walk normal tomorrow after that class. 
  • I've already been getting the random snarky comments about not resting enough, or recovering or wtf am I doing out on the group ride Saturday already…
  • It's amazing how people think after ending an epic race you should totally just stop being active and get fat and be a drunk.
  • I think I'm handling my recovery and bender quite well thankyouverymuch.
  • Don't worry, I don't take these comments too seriously, I've been on that end of passing my judgement on others too - it's hard to not be a hypocrite about this stuff I think.  I'm slowly learning.
  • I may have pushed the effort a bit too hard on Saturday, but I counter acted that by sitting on my ass the rest of the day, as well as all day Sunday watching movies.  
  • God Bless Netflix and my love for indie films that don't really make it big, thus end up on netflix.
  • I do think that I'm starting to enjoy racing more and more and I think it really helps with the mental aspect of really RACING, not just participating.
  • That said, I'm racing in 2 weeks at our local club championships.  It's a sprint.  I don't think I have any sprint muscles in me, but it will be a lot more fun that racing for 2.5hours in 100degrees so I'll have to find a fast twitch muscle somewhere.
  • I also am pretty sure I'm going to do the race that every year I say sucks and I don't want to do it, but yet I've found myself signed up for it four times.  The first time I DNS - I had IT band surgery.  The second time was my very first half IM, it was epic.  My third I DNF - sick as all get out and was coughing so hard I was puking on my bike at mile 8.  4th was a hot hot day, last year.  PR but not a pretty race.  So, this will be my 5th time racing Soma half IM.  5th was the charm in the IM distance, maybe I could have that for this race too?
  • Really the training is just an excuse to keep fitting into my clothes since I'm losing my job at the end of the year and haven't found a new one yet to replace my income and let me go buy any fat clothes so really isn't that motivation enough?
Nuf said'

Friday, August 31, 2012

Ironman Canada

I'm not really sure if I can even describe what an amazing day I had in Canada last Sunday.  I remember everything about it (not usual).  I never had a crazy low.  I never felt like I couldn't do it, or more importantly that didn't want to be there.  I've never smiled so much in my entire life.  I've never had so much fun.

The days leading up to the race I felt good.  Maybe too good.  I was calm, rested, happy.  For the first time in 5 Ironman I knew I had done everything I possibly could to make my training count.  No skipped workouts because I was too tired, or because I just didn't want to do them.  I did the work, I made the work count.  I knew that the only factor that could mess up my day was going to be ME.  I knew that all my issues in the past 2 IM have been nutrition related and bonking, and I was not going to let that happen.

I stayed pretty quiet leading up to the race.  Every night when I went to bed I visualized the race start, my transitions.  I went over and over in my head how I was going to EAT and EAT and EAT on the bike ride.  I thought about my mom.  I thought about how she has made me a stronger person.  I thought back to Rocky Point when I dug deep and when I didn't stop and walk because I was tired and hot.

My only small concern was my right hip and IT band.  The hip has been hurting me for 3 weeks and after a day of travel and many days of sitting around it had gotten worse.  My knee even started to hurt. I was icing 3 times per day and finally, on the day before the race I signed up for an ART treatment.  It was a last stitch effort to release the pressure and hopefully help my day.  It also turns out it was the best decision I could have made.  I had an amazing guy work with me and within 2 minutes of examining me he knew exactly why I was hurting.  My right pelvis was not rotating, basically stuck while the rest of my body was trying to move.  He worked on me for about 25 minutes and when I got up from the table I had immediate relief in my hip and back.   He also said a couple of words to me that I remembered during the race and they helped push me.  He told me I had powerful legs.  It's funny, because no matter how fit and lean I get, my legs are never my best attribute.  It's where I hold my fat, no matter how hard I work and how well I eat, I've come to realize it's just my body, but hearing that they are powerful, now that I'll take!

Race morning was super uneventful.  After being rushed the last time we did this race, we made sure we were in transition with plenty of time.  Before we knew it we were in the water, with a nice starting position to the right of the buoys.  I had heard this was the place to be, and I'd take anything over the beating I received in 2010 when I started front and center.

About 30 seconds before the start, Michelle turned around to me and said, "Happy hour starts at 6, Krista.  DON'T be late."

The looks on the faces of the people around us were just priceless.  I'm sure mine was just as great.

I had done the math over and over and many times came up with an 11 hour race, but I knew most of that banked on a ~4hr marathon, which based on my training seemed 100% doable, but then I also couldn't help but factor in my IM Marathon PR was ~4:35 and even my stand alone marathon was 4:12….  It's hard to have that extra confidence that you could crush both of those times.  Hearing Michelle say those words was just the fire I needed in my belly.

The swim was rather uneventful.  It wasn't crazy crowded, but I never felt like I was in a great position either.  Every time I'd get comfortable swimming, I'd start passing people then end up in one big cluster of people that I couldn't get around.  Rather than get super frustrated, I just tried to stay calm and focus on getting to the finish.  I could tell it wasn't going to be the swim I was hoping for, or rather that Michelle was hoping for, but just kept moving.

I swam until it was too shallow to keep going, got up and ran up to the wetsuit strippers.  My time was 1:07, 3 minutes slower than 2 years ago, and 3-5mins slower than I expected.

I quickly cleared my head and moved on, in and out of transition in 3 minutes and was on to the longest part of the day, the bike.  The temperature was perfect.  Slightly cool for the morning, but the adrenaline was just enough to keep me warm until the temperatures started climbing.  High for the day was supposed to be ~87degrees so I chose no arm warmers.  I had every pocket on my kit and bike full of so much food I had no room for extra stuff!

I got passed a LOT in the first 20miles.  Super flat and fast and people were moving.  I was still trying to find my legs!  Shane passed me at mile 12, he too didn't have the best swim, but it of course made my day that I at least beat him out of the water, even if only by 1 minute!  

At about 20minutes I started fueling.  I had 1800calories on my bike and I was determined to get as much of it as possible in my system.  It took about an hour for my legs to finally feel ok.  I continued my routine of eating about every 20-30mins, drinking to thirst and taking 2x e21 every hour.  Richter Pass came quickly, and once again I was still being passed, a LOT.  I remembered reading my race report from last time, and reading the same thing about how many people were passing me at that point, so again, I just did my thing and rode my pace.

I had to pee for the first 2 hours, so finally around mile 50 I found a clear stretch behind me and got er done! My biggest fear was that my green compression socks were going to be colored, so I poured a ton of water all over me.  My outfit was the key to my bike success and I didn't want to mess it up ;)  I have never received so many compliments on my kit, bike and coordination in my life.  It made the bike ride super fun, and absolutely loved every minute of it grinning ear to ear.  

Around my 65-70, the out and back section and the middle of the rollers something clicked in me and I just felt AWESOME.  This section last time I sorta fell apart, but I felt fantastic.  I started working harder, passing people and I felt amazing.  Before I knew it I was up over yellow lake and descending back into town.  My pace was slightly ahead of where I expected, and I actually thought for a minute I would bike a 5:45 until we hit a pretty good headwind on the descend and my chain had popped off over the outside of my rear derailleur and I had to coast for about 3 miles until it was safe to pull over and fix it.  Thankfully, it was a quick fix, but boy did it hurt to have to get off the bike at mile 100.  I had to wait a few seconds while pelotons (yes, PELOTONS) of cyclists came flying by me and it was clear to get back on the course, but happy overall that it wasn't a big deal.

Before I knew it I was back into transition, with a bike time of 5:48, ~2 mins faster than my goal and a 15min bike and course PR!

T-2 was fast, but I did take some extra time to pee (apparently I hydrated well), and was back out running in just over 3mins.  I set my garmin to avg lap pace so it would reset every mile and I was never looking at my current pace.  My goal was to start no faster than an 8:50 pace, which I quickly had to hold back when my first half mile was an 8:30.  I slowed to what felt like a walk and an 8:45ish and just watched as people flew by me.  I was happy to feel so fantastic and light, but not stupid enough to think that was going to last or that I could hold anything faster than what my training proved.

The miles clicked off fairly easily and I was staying right around the 8:50 mark.  I started my nutrition with gels every 3 miles, water to taste and also put ice down my top at every aid station.  It wasn't really HOT, but it was warm, and I know my body does best when it's cooler so I just kept trying to make myself comfortable.   At mile 8, I ran into Shane.  I was devastated that he was walking.  I spent only a few seconds on finding out if I could help, but he made it clear his quad was trashed/cramping and he'd tried everything.  It was hard to just pull away from him, knowing we both were on target for a great day, but I was so focused on my race I knew I had to keep moving.

I got my head back in the game and just kept going with my plan.  The hills started at about mile 10, and I ran most of them, but when the effort felt too hard, or I wasn't jogging any faster than I could walk, I would walk.  Only to the top of the hill.  I never let that walk go too long or too far.  I had a quick potty stop before the turnaround and then was on my way back into town.  In my head I just kept going in 3 mile increments.  The first half it was to take a gel.  The second half it was knowing that I only really had 3 miles of hard hills, then I would be back to flat.  At mile 16, I knew I just had to get to mile 21 where the last small climb was.  At mile 20 my stomach felt so full I was convinced I had to pee again, so I stopped one last time, but ended up it was just bloat so I was in and out quickly and on my way with a plan of NO more stopping. At mile 21 I just had to get to mile 23 where I had convinced myself it was all downhill.

My stomach was bloated, I was FULL.  I stopped taking in gels and just did water, watermelon and cola.  Whatever I could stomach.  I NEVER felt tired.  I never hurt.  My legs were getting heavy, but other than that I truly had no pain.  I would walk the aid stations to get as much as my body could take, but as soon as I started running again I could bring my avg pace back down to as close to a 9min pace as I could get by the time the next mile clicked over then start the process over again.  

As I reached mile 24 and heading back down main street the emotions began to take over.  I was overwhelmed with happiness.  I don't know how to explain it but for the last 13 miles I truly felt like the wind was on my back.  While I wasn't breaking any top speeds, I was running, and it felt like nothing I have ever felt before.  I knew that my mom was with me.  That I had my very own personal guardian angel watching over me all day, believing in me and pushing me.  I had to hold back tears and get my breathing under control, but I couldn't take the smile off my face.               I had no idea what my run time was, as I was only looking at mile by mile, but I could see on my total time for the day that I was close to an 11hour day.  I did the math and knew breaking 11 hours wasn't going to happen, but I still dug deep and ran my last 2 miles at an 8:30 pace.  I made one last pass of a girl in my AG in the last 1/4 mile and crossed the finish line in 11:02.
When I crossed the finish line I saw Michelle standing there.  I couldn't speak.  I was crying and in complete shock of the day I just had.  

I later learned that I not only had a :48min Ironman and course PR, but that I had actually broken 4hours on the marathon, something I've never done.  It was the most incredible day I've every experienced since my first race and marathon 11 years ago.  The smile below is still on my face when ever I think about the day.  A day that I am so proud of and so completely satisfied with, yet still in shock about.

I can't thank all the people that believe in me and are always my biggest supporters.  Huge thanks to everyone who made a donation to my Athletes for a Cure fundraising page.  It was such a cool experience to be out there on the course with Team Newton, and the CEO of newton Jerry (also racing).  I was racing for a cause, with a purpose and it was awesome!  And last, but certainly NOT least, the winner of the "guess Krista's finish time" is my girl, Tracy.  :23 off my actual finish time.  Tracy, your present will be here Saturday ;)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ironman Eve

A little less than a year ago, over some martinis and a weekend in Flagstaff a plan was made to race Ironman Canada.  Community Fund slots were the only spots open, with the exception of a possible Team Newton/Athletes for a Cure entry, that I had heard about.

At the time I didn't realize what a whirlwind my year would become.  I decided rather than just write a check over to the Ironman Community Fund Foundation, I would try to do a little bit better.  I decided to be part of something bigger and try to raise more money.

I always seem to go back to the "when life gives you lemons," saying.  This year life, God, whatever it was threw me a whole bag of big fat rotten lemons.  In March just a few weeks into training, and just after announcing I was going to be part of Team Newton/Athletes for a Cure raising money for prostate cancer, I received a phone call that I will never forget.  My sister called me saying that my mom was…. gone.  


I honestly can't remember much after that.  I remember hyperventilating.  I remember crying hysterically.  I called a friend to come pick me up and the next thing I knew I was facing a situation that I never in my wildest dreams or nightmares would have imagined being in.  Out of now where.  With no signs, no warning, my mom was taken from me.

For the next few months I felt like I was living in a bubble.  I was functioning, working, training, planning and living on pure adrenaline and determination.  Some of us don't get to choose the things we can do.  Some of us make poor choices and live lifestyles that shorten or lives and hurt not only ourselves, but others.

I truly believe that where there is a will, there is a way.  I started facing my fears.  Pushing through walls that in the past have knocked me down.  I stopped mentally defeating myself.  I worked harder, and longer and smarter than ever in the past and I did it with my heart.  I did it because I AM healthy, I choose to live this active lifestyle because it makes me happy, it makes me feel GOOD.

I've come to race Canada as part of a team that are all racing for a cause.  I'm racing with the CEO of Newton, prostate Cancer SURVIVOR and, Ironman.  I'm racing with months of hard training, with a heavy yet also half empty heart.  I'm racing in honor of those who fight, who fight for the lives.

If this past year has taught me anything, it's perseverance.  If there is one thing that the sudden loss of my mom opened my eyes to, it's to NEVER give up.  It's not fair to me, it's not fair to all the many people that believe in me, that have supported me, that love me.

I know that tomorrow, when it gets hard, when everything hurts, when I want to stop, walk, cry…complain.  I will push past it, I will FIGHT.  I will not give up on my hard work, or myself.

I will move on.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to all of my amazing friends and biggest fans.  To my sister, who has been the most incredibly strong person this past year, and who I have gained nothing but the utmost respect for.

To my momma, with all my heart…you will be my inspiration tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I will make a big fat batch of the best tasting lemonade.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A few weeks ago I had a very nice representative from a new (or new to me) swim gear company contact me about taking a look at their website,   I'm an easy sale.   Swim gear, online shopping & product/site review.

I'm IN!

I was able to pick out a couple of items to try out and see how their ordering, shipping, and service went.  I have to say I'm more than impressed.  I've been a long time customer of  Mostly for their swimsuit selection, but over the years I've been beyond frustrated at their website performance.  It's slow, and half the time I click on a suit I want they are only available in child size 24s???

Anyway.  While AquaGear isn't currently supplying a selection of swimsuits, they are working on expanding to do so in the near future.

I would like to point out a couple of great features on their website.  While at first glance it's nothing fancy, very basic - a few things really jump out at me.

1.  On the home page, before you start any searching, a pop-up box at the bottom of the screen shows up and allows you to do an instant chat with a customer service representative.  I've used this feature with a number of different websites and find it VERY helpful.

2.  GREAT search function.  At the top of the website, there is a open search box.  Start typing in something you are looking for (I used my favorite goggle the Aquasphere Kaiman Lady) and before you have entered the full description you will get a drop down menu for like items to select.  I only typed in "kai…" and before I finished I had all the options I needed to select.  Just awesome!

3.  The order process was fast & shipping quick!

Overall a great shopping experience.

The items I purchased were:

FUN swim cap.  It's super soft and stayed put on my head!  Fun colors and styles…. (May not work for someone with a larger head)

Reflect H2O swim shampoo and conditioner.  SO happy with these products.  My hair was getting destroyed at the pool where I'm swimming this summer, and it's really helping with the dry icky feeling post swim!  Smells good too ;)

Check out their website, like them on facebook & enjoy shopping!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Wine Country!

What fun would a post about wine country and gorgeous scenery be without a picture post? Thanks to Amy for being our photographer extraordinaire. Here we go!

Day 1.  Karen picked us up from the airport and we headed to visit a couple of smaller wineries in Healdsburg.

First stop:  A Rafanelli - YUMMY Zinfandel!  Pricey, and they limit your purchase to a couple of bottles, but definitely worth the stop!

Stop 2.  Arista - a variety of Pinot Noirs, and gorgeous grounds to walk around.

We also visited Thomas George which was good, but not great.  I think I bought a Chardonnay from there.  Not normally something I go for, but it was light and crisp, a great summer wine at a good price.

That was it for Thursday - the next two days were all about the race;  rest, hydrate and EAT!

On Sunday we booked a limo to drive us around to all our wineries.  Karen and I spent a couple of days booking appointments and trying to find some off the beaten path Boutique wineries, ending with my very very very favorite place!

The girls are dressed up and out of spandex, ready for our adventure!

It's not very often the LaPan couple cleans up!

First stop, Yoakim Bridge Winery.  Again found a super yummy Zinfandel and had a HOOT talking to the winery owners.  Their story of how they met, how they came to make wine and first start selling it is worth the visit itself!

A quick visit to J Cellars for some Bubbles!  

Our next stop was Deerfield Winery.  The tastings take place in their wine caves which is pretty cool!  Unfortunately, I feel like we maybe didn't really enjoy the experience as much as we would have because we were rushed for time to get to our final place…..  Maybe next time?

Last and most certainly NOT least.  Colin Lee.   A few years ago Shane & I were doing a wine tour with a group of friends and our Limo driver took us to this amazing place.  It is still, the best experience I've ever had in the area.  I couldn't resist the opportunity of showing our friends this gem so I called Guy, the wine maker up and asked if our group of 11 could visit his winery and home.  He was incredibly welcoming asking if we had any special food restrictions, etc (as athletes) because he wanted to make something for us to have with the wine…

The visit did not disappoint.    This is Guy's lovely wife Debbie pouring our first "taste."  The 2007 Syrah.  #meltinyourmouth

As we sipped our wine Guy talked about his history, and how he became a wine maker… We all listened to his recap of being a professional triathlete in the days of Dave Scott and Mark Allen, to how he got very ill for several years and moved to wine country only several years later finally being diagnosed with Lime Disease….

You can tell when someone is really passionate about what they do because everyone thoroughly enjoys hearing the stories!

Not only did we enjoy the stories, but also the WINE!

The homemade chili! 

We spent way too long here, but just didn't want to leave!  We had to pay our driver for an extra hour +.  Totally worth it though….

After places all our orders (lots of wine bought!) we got a tour of his small cellar where all the magic takes place.  

I can NOT wait to go back!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Barb's race

Finally sitting down to write my race report for the past weekend's Barb's race, aka Vineman, I struggle to put into words how I feel about the race.  While in total the race was a very very slight PR for the distance, I can't help but feel a bit bummed about a few things.  At the same time as feeling a little less than complete about it all, I also know there wasn't much more I could of done out there….

I'll start off by saying that the venue is STUNNING.  What better way to do what you love surrounded by stuff you love.  WINE!!!!  Even swimming in the super shallow Russian River surrounded by lush green trees isn't so bad :)

I have always wanted to do this race.  Swim, bike, run, wine…. yup - pretty much made for me.  At first I just thought the big 70.3 race was the way to go, but then I found out about Barb's race.  Basically the same course, but all women and for a great charity; cancer research.

Smaller race, all women;  I'm in!

Unfortunately this is kinda where things also went wrong.  Smaller race = maybe a bit less serious organization.  Smaller race PLUS full distance Ironman, full distance aquabike & half aquabike leads to a bit of chaos.  I don't want to down talk the race directors, or the race itself in any way, so I'll guess I'll just share my story…

All my friends were racing the aquabike so they had to head down to the race a couple hours before I did.  It was actually nice and relaxing to just hang out in the morning a bit and not be rushed.  I still got to the race start WAY early, but luck would have it I ran into my BSC teammate Mary while walking my bike into T-1.  We got to rack our bikes together and sit and chit chat for a couple hours.  It was great!   We may or may not have had a few giggles about all the "gear" (suitcases?  really?) in T-1 and the last minute checkins like 10mins before the race started…

My first realization about the lack of "serious" race organization came when I'm still standing in transition as swimmers are coming in.  If I were a GOOD athlete I would have gotten the hell out of there and let everyone have their space, but no one was making me and I wanted to see my people!  I think it's probably a good thing because EVERY.SINGLE. one of my friends had trouble finding their bikes!  I was jumping up and down, screaming at them trying to show them the right row.  And, I'm not talking like 1-2 rows off…. I mean like I saw Shane exit the water and I'm standing a good 20rows up where his bike was, yet he disappeared looking or his bike way way way too soon.

Example 1 of bad signage.   Example 1 of how athletes (including my self) need to study transition areas.

About 10mins later it was time to get in the water.  I was pretty stoked after seeing my friends.  No nerves, which is shockingly never the case!  I have been working my ass off swimming the past several months and I really wanted it to show in my time today.

I lined up front row and was OFF.  I darted right out in front of my wave and immediately had a few girls on my far right side (not buoy line) get ahead of me.  I thought about trying to find their feet, but I felt like it was wasted effort to go outside my direct buoy line so I just kept swimming.  Within a couple of minutes I was swimming with another color swim cap.  A couple more it was yet another wave….  I looked around and could see only a few of my wave caps in the distance but everyone else around me was from an earlier start.  I felt strong, had a great path along the buoys so I just kept going.   Unfortunately the further out I got, the more crowded.  I would be swimming along and suddenly have my hand on someone's ASS.  People standing, walking, NOT MOVING everywhere.  I remember at one point thinking to myself all those times I complained at masters for having to do swim head out of water drill…. well, it sure was coming in handy here.

I glanced at my watch at the turnaround and saw 17:45ish… Pretty frustrated with that, but not much I could do but keep swimming.  I continued to run into people (apologies for anyone I grabbed - but really, I can't SEE you when you aren't KICKING) and did my best to get around them and not freak them out.  Finally after I headed under the last bridge I had the best last 100m ever!  The water was completely empty and I just sprinted to the finish. I shot passed all the lollygaggers and headed straight to the wetsuit strippers!

I ran right to my bike (yay for margarita - so easy to spot!) and tried to get my stuff in the bag as quickly as possible…..

Swim split:  33:02  ~1.5 mins swim split PR, but still not where I feel like I should be!!

Heading out of transition was complete chaos.  People not ready for the short steep hill and almost falling over trying to clip in.  I had my bike in my 28 and while I was ready to spin up it, I was dogging people trying not to get hit!

As soon as I was out on the main road I realized that indeed this was going to be a long day.  The narrow winding wine roads were open to traffic both ways…. I was riding as well as I could until I would suddenly have to come to almost a complete stop to avoid being hit by a car.  There was no room to get around the slower bikers (really people - we are maybe 5-10miles in and we are going like 12mph??).  It was maddening to say the least…but I just did my best to sty safe and get around the cyclists when traffic cleared…

The middle section of the bike was much better, on less busy roads.  I continued to pass cyclists, more than I ever had in the past so I felt like I was having a great day.  The effort never felt hard… but I knew there were some hills coming up so I was being a bit conservative.  I wasn't passed until about mile 30 by anyone, and when a couple of girls came flying by me I tried to stay with them….. only to watch them pull ahead and draft off each other.  I made up my mind to ride fair but keep them in my sights.  That was until the traffic through another little town got backed up and I was once again…. slowed to almost a stop by cars and slower cyclists.  I didn't see those girls again until the last 10miles….

Once I got past the only really big climb at about mile 45 I knew it was a good flat to down section into finish.  I was a bit behind on my goal time of 2:45-2:50 so I dropped my gear (thank you all those big gear intervals!) and pushed HARD.  I was flying at about 22-26 mph for the final bit passing a lot of people.  Excited about how much I had left in the tank…I started to wonder if I sandbagged a bit too much in the first part of the bike??

Final bike time 2:47:xx.  Not a bike PR, but within my goal range.

The dismount line came pretty quick so I wasn't ready to hop out of my shoes and ended up running in my bike shoes for the VERY long transition.  I would guess maybe .25mile through the HS campus.  As I entered transition I looked for the balloon and tree someone pointed out to me the day before by my row.  I was up and down the rows searching for my shoes.. but all I could see were what seemed like endless towels and hats and shoes, that weren't mine.  Frustrated as all get out I started looking up and down the rows looking for my age group.  When I found the sign for 35-39 I darted down the row only to STILL not find my shoes???  I yelled to a volunteer for help and she very snotty said "READ THE SIGN."

I can't begin to tell you my frustration at this point…. After what seemed like forever I finally found my shoes… in a completely different section (there was a very small print of the race; barb's, vineman…next to the AG).  I threw on my hat and shoes and was on my way….

I was passed exiting transition from a girl who I had gone back and forth with on the bike for miles and miles until I finally passed her for good in the last 5 miles.  She apparently knew what she was doing in transition.  She was BOOKIN' so as much as I wanted to stay with her, I just knew that wasn't my pace.

I hit the first mile marker at 7:37.  DEF too fast for me.  I really really really had to pee, so at the second mile and aid station I darted into a porta potty.  As I exited I realized I had been passed by another one of the girls I passed on the bike…  I made it my mission to stay with her.  I slowly was catching her and just began plugging away digging, but not too deep that I was going to bonk.  I have to say all those half marathons I did this winter really helped me learn my pacing on the run.  I knew when I could dig, what I needed and when and when I was pushing too hard...

It was such a different feeling being out on these secluded roads with just one girl in front of my to see. Just before the turnaround I could see the handful of lead girls heading back.  I was super excited to be so close to the front and made it my goal to just try to stay in my same position.  I finally passed the girl I had been following at about mile and just kept plugging away.

On the way back it finally started to feel like a race… Lots more women heading out on the run.  I also have to thank all of them for all the encouraging cheers along the way!  Heading back towards the first loop it was complete chaos!  Runners both directions on a very small section of the road, bikers coming in and also heading out on a second loop across the run course (runners had to yield??). I was running hard to what seemed like the finish wondering where the heck the turnaround was and asking everyone until I finally saw the finish line…. and just shy of it was a woman standing and handing out bracelets and telling you to turn around.

I grabbed my bracelet and was on my way.  I tried to keep my pace the same knowing that it wasn't time to dig because there were 1.5 more hills before the next turnaround.  As I started to head up the second hill I'm wondering where the turn around was???  No cone, no timing mat… I asked a volunteer and she said "2 miles up the road."  WTF???

Finally I saw an older lady sitting on the side of the road under an umbrella.  About 10ft before her was some chalk saying turnaround and about 10ft AFTER her was a sign. (or maybe it was vice versa, but you get the picture).  With no one in front of me to follow I was shouting, "where do I turn????"  The nice lady was all, "Right HERE!!!."  I'm all "Well, here (pointed to the chalk) or HeRe (pointed to HER) or HERE (pointed to the furthest marker/sign).    I just decided to play it safe and went to the furthest point… gained my composure and started booking down the hill.

I had lost some time off my pace on the couple of hills so grabbed my last gel, around my 10 or so, then coke at the last 2 aid stations and ran as hard as I could for the last bit.  I saw one girl gaining time on me just before the last turnaround and I made it my mission to NOT get passed.

Run time 1:47:08.  Half IM run PR, just shy of my overall goal of 1:45, but with my potty break I'll take it!!

My overall time was 5:15:33  ~:45 distance PR.  4thAG (88total) and 10thOA (495 total).

Like I said I'm torn about the results.  While the placing is definitely great, I just feel a bit less than satisfied.  I'm not really sure how to explain it other than a bit frustrated with the bike chaos, mad at myself for the crazy slow transition and thinking maybe based on my hammer fest of the last 10miles I sandbagged a bit on the bike?

While I love the course itself, I think I would like to go back and do the bigger 70.3 race next time!  I would be a bit more aggressive on the bike and most importantly…. study my transitions!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ironman don't care

Another couple of weeks up north, and I'm starting to feel like myself again.  Well, minus the constant tired legs, endless appetite and need to go to bed's9pm.   I'm still struggling with some swims, while other swims (typically Wed for some reason) I leave feeling refreshed and happy like all this damn hard work is finally paying off.  Of course then I go back on Friday and swim long course meters and feel like I took 5 steps backwards and am swimming through mud.  I'm trying to get over myself with that whole frustration though.

Last weekend was one of the biggest yet, and it was the last big build block of 4 weeks before a little recovery.  On tap was a 5:30 bike ride, intended to be harder, steady effort the whole time followed by a 40min run.  Then, finish off the weekend and block with another 3hr/20mile run.

Well, things didn't go exactly as planned as we had quite the storm come in Friday.  We woke up Saturday morning ready to roll, but looked outside to soaking wet streets and dark, dark clouds.  It happened to just be 3 of us that morning, so the thought crossed our minds to switch and do our long runs first, and save the ride for Sunday.  However, after checking the weather and realizing that the forecast was equally as gloomy (70% chance of rain and thunderstorms), we decided to HTFU and just get er done.

Within 2 minutes our legs and butts were soaked.  The streets were so wet our bike tires were flinging water, mud, grit, rocks all over us.  There would certainly be NO drafting today unless you wanted the spray of mud in your face.  We had plans to just go until the sky looked rough, or dangerous with lightening and try to stay close to home.  As the miles clicked off and we were already soaked & dirty we really just wanted to keep on going for an out and back course and get the ride done.  We ended up doing a loop with about 80miles, but I still had almost an hour left to go, and Karen had 35 miles to get to her goal of 112.  As we were making the last big climb before home the rain REALLY picked up.  My tires felt slick and dangerous and I was just DONE.  I pulled up next to Karen, said I was so over this.  DONE.

You know sometimes how your friends can be your worst enemy?  How your moods can bring each other down (negative thoughts, energy, complaints) and you can both end up sandbagging?  Well, this was just the opposite.  Karen had convinced herself to at least get to 100miles.  I hadn't succumbed to this quite yet, but as I neared the turn to get back home, I just kept rolling passed it.  I started thinking about the weeks left to Ironman, and with a race coming up in 2 weeks I really didn't have much opportunity to get the long miles on the bike in.

We pretty much rode in silence for the last 20miles, just trying to get the miles down.  The rain got even worse, making it nearly impossible to ride really well (safely), but as we made the last turnaround with only 4 miles left to go, I already had a satisfied feeling that I had sucked it up enough to finish the ride.

And that's where it all changed.  As I was making the last climb home, a hill about 3/4 mile long I realized my handling felt off.  I couldn't see my tire because of the rain, but finally determined it was indeed, flat.  I screamed to Karen who had pulled ahead when I stopped and she finally heard me.  So, there we are, mile 97 in the pouring rain, wind.  Soaked head to toe and muddy as all get out changing a tire on the side of the road.

Here I am, pretending to be happy about looking like a kid plaining in the rain.  I assure you I am NOT.  This picture does not even do justice to the conditions, or the amount of nasty black grime all over us from head to toe.  

We main it home a few miles later 100.01miles EXACTLY (after looking at my tires later, I'm shocked I didn't get 5 flats) we put our bikes in the garage, stripped off the nasty clothes and headed straight up to the shower.  My toes had been numb for about 3 hours and after the last hour when the storm picked up and I was barely able to to take my hands off the bars to eat or drink, and made the decision to bail on my brick.   I took a 20min HOT shower scrubbing all the grime off and had to dig my fingernails into a bar of soap to get the mud and grease out of them.  

Clothes were washed and soaked twice, but are still stained with mud.  Bikes were completely trashed, and may need new chains.  My once white bike saddle is now black and new tires will be replacing the completely trashed ones today.

It was one of those days where you remember Ironman is not easy.   It reminded me of the freak storm climbing Yellow Lake at IMCA in 2010.  The feeling of not being safe on the road, numb toes and wondering WTF you do this to yourself.

But in the end, it was a day of mental toughness.  A day of just dealing with what is thrown at you.  A day that made me stronger.  

The best part of it all was following it up with my best 20mile run to date (no IT band pain, and negative split!), and ending the big training block feeling tired, yet completely satisfied with all of the hard work!

A little reminder, that Honey Badger  Ironman Don't CARE!