Friday, November 21, 2014

Ironman Wisconsin Training - Wait... WHAT??

      This past summer, I challenged myself to a 70.3 Ironman race in Racine, Wisconsin.  The training was really hard, incredibly demanding, physically draining and unbelievably rewarding!  It had been a goal of mine for quite a while and so I decided to take the plunge and really focus on getting myself there.  It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life in which I had to overcome ALOT of obstacles to get to race day and then of course, nothing can ever go completely smoothly on race day and I had to struggle with a flat tire 12 miles in on the bike.  But, all in all, I was able to move past the flat tire and cramping issues and finish the race with my incredible family cheering me on through the finish line!

       I have to admit, after completing my 1/2 Ironman, I was in a weird state of feeling very accomplished and proud of myself and yet a little lost, not knowing what would be next.  A full Ironman has always been a goal in the back of my mind but my body has completely fallen apart on every marathon I have ever done, so could a FULL Ironman really be in my future?  It took me 4 years of training -yes you read that right! - for me to get to the starting line of the 1/2 IM, which is probably one of the reasons I was prepared to grab my bike and run with it if I couldn't fix my flat! LOL!  The 1st 1/2 I was registered for - I got injured a week out! So no starting line for that year.  The next year I got sick with a really weird Mono type virus that completely knocked me out.  The next year my best friend got married the weekend of the race.  So finally after 4 years I made it to the starting line and more importantly the finish line!  I actually think my parents were really worried about me after the race, because I am such a goal oriented person and I didn't have a solid goal in mind for after I finished the race.  Did I want to return to my running roots and focus on trying to get to Boston?  Did I want to stay with triathlons and work on getting faster in the Sprint and Olympic distances?  Did I want to pursue the Full Ironman?  Or did I want to pursue other personal goals?

       After enjoying,   a painful, week long break from all physical activity at my mother's request, I was going completely stir crazy! I NEEDED the gym - is that weird??  I still hadn't decided on my next goal but was just enjoying some training downtime and focusing on my Cross Country team - which made it to State the second year in a row! Congrats Girls!!

I was online stalking people who did the Madison Ironman and reliving my 1/2 IM experience and decided that I really wanted to do a Full Ironman.  Madison is one of those races though that typically fills up incredibly fast and the only way to really guarantee a spot would be to volunteer the year before, which means that my IM would be 2 years away. Ok - Now I had a plan.  Then I quickly found out that registration hadn't closed for the 2015 IM.  What to do, what to do??  I really struggled with this inner turmoil, with the voice in my head saying, "There is NO way you can do a Full Ironman" and the other voice that said, "Girl, you got this!"  I mentioned to my Dad that registration was still open, to which he quickly responded with, "You would be really stupid not to sign up! You are already 1/2 way there, you are in great shape! Your body doesn't seem to hate you any more and I will be there cheering you on!"  I laughed and said, "Ok, I'm SOLD!"  So that night, I did it - I signed up for my first FULL Ironman! What?!
        So, What does that mean??  Well for those of you that don't know a FULL Ironman is 140.6 miles!  A 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride and finished off with a nice 26.2 mile run or a full marathon.  Wait... what?? I signed up for that!? I've clearly lost my mind...
         The race is officially 295 days, 6 hours, 56 mins, 30,29,28...seconds away! EEK!  My training has already started and I've recruited the help of a coach to help guide me through the process and answer any questions I have but mainly to give me the confidence to get to that start line but more importantly the finish line!
       I don't want to kill you all with training details but I do plan on updating once a week about how training is going, etc.  So if you get bored with my IM posts - that's fine, just don't read my long boring posts! LOL!!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Racine 70.3 Race Recap

As I sit here writing this this morning, I am still completely in shock over what I accomplished yesterday, so therefore I need to apologize in advance for the length of this post, but it really couldn't be helped...  Yesterday was my 70.3 triathlon race in Racine, WI.  It has been quite the journey to get to race day.  My 1/2 Ironman journey started 4 years ago when I decided I wanted to race Muncie, IN, I trained my butt off, to get injured a week before the race and have the Dr. tell me that while my foot wasn't broken it probably wasn't a good idea for me to race.  Talk about an incredible disappointment!  Then the next year, I planned on doing either Racine or Muncie and started actively training to eventually come down with a Mono type virus that knocked me completely out of training.  I was sleeping almost 20 hours out of the 24 in the day - which made it impossible to train.  To learn more about my training and how I got to my race on Sunday, you can read my previous post: 3rd Times the Charm - Right?

     If any of you have ever done a race, you know that race day approaches with a mixture of anxiety and excitement, this race was no exception!  All week long I went through various stages of emotions, leading up to the big day.  Race morning arrived and I was up at 3:30, ready to leave my house by 4am.  Thankfully I caught a few extra Zs as my Dad drove us up to the race.  Upon arrival, the first thing I had to do was get my body markings and finish setting up transition.  That was all quickly done so I met back up with my family to wait until the swim start!
         Anybody who knows me, knows that I am a little crazy when it comes to OWS because I never use a wetsuit.  Even my sister was trying to convince me last week to use one since the water temp last weekend was a balmy 54 degrees.  But, I am a firm believer in not changing anything the day or week of the race, so the wetsuit was a no go!  When they called my wave to start lining up, I quickly noticed that there was only one other girl who also wasn't going to be wearing a wetsuit, we quickly became fast friends, since we were both clearly crazy!  Luckily for us the water temp had risen from the 54 degrees the previous weekend to 61.4 degrees.  The air horn went off and we were on our way.  I definitely remember at one point thinking, HOLY CRAP - I am finally doing this race!!  Let me say... that water was COLD - but only for the first 5 minutes or so, then I got into a rhythmn and didn't even notice the temp.  I am very thankful for water suport crew, because I apparently can not swim straight to save my life!  According to my Garmin, my 1.2 mile swim turned into a 1.75 - no joke, atleast 5 kayakers told me that I needed to swim more to the left and back into the fray of swimmers... At one point I popped my head up and looked around and suddenly realized I was almost done and said, Hell Yeah! almost done, to which a kayaker laughed and said, yes, yes you are, way to go!  Finally got out of the swim, and quickly realized that my feet were numb - running into transition was the most awkward feeling I have ever experienced!  Next up the Bike!

           For me, the bike is the scariest part because of the fact that so many things can go wrong.  So mentally I told myself if I could just make it to the run, then I was finishing!  Well, I think God has a funny sense of humor.  I'm cruising along and was at a particularly bumpy part of the course (around mile 12) when I knew suddenly something was very wrong.  I looked down and sure enough my back tire was completely flat! SHIT!  Thankfully I was at a stretch that was still fairly populated and was able to pull off the course and get up onto the sidewalk and work on changing my tire.  I started laughing, kind of an ironic laugh, at the fact that it had taken me 4 years to be able to get to the starting line and here I finally make it to potentially have to pull out at mile 12 on the bike.  Seriously?!  So I start working on getting my tire off... but I hadn't changed or fixed a tire in 3 years, so the going was very slow.  I had no idea if I had a hole or what the situation was.  All these people kept zipping past, a few shouted out asking if I was alright.  One guy looked at me and said, WOW, that sucks!  To which I responded, Yes, Yes it does!  I pulled out my CO2 cartridge and  used it to partially fill up my tire so that I could find the hole, because I am apparently old school and patch tires rather than pulling out a new tube (which I didn't have anyway).  I finally fixed the hole and got the tire all back together, now just to get it back on my bike... When suddenly out of nowhere a guy comes by on a bike and asked if I would like some help.  I immediately responded yes!  Which, for all I know is illegal in Ironman races.  So he quickly got my tire back on my bike.  He lived near by and was just out for a casual ride and thought he would check out the race when he saw me.  He told me that I was old school for patching the tire and then gave me his spare tube because as he put it, "Girl, you have got to finish and you have a long way to go!"  So with many many thank yous, I accepted.  Thankfully I did not need it.  He pounded it with me, hopped back on his bike and shouted back, NO MORE FLATS! YOU GOT THIS GIRL!  So I was back on the bike, a little cautious about my tire, but it was time to make up for lost time, 30 minutes wasted on trying to fix my flat, was not a good thing!  As I was riding the thing that kept going through my head was, OMG, I HAVE to have my Dad for teaching me how to change a flat tire! I would have been totally lost otherwise!  My family was starting to worry because my typical bike pace is around 18mph give or take they finally got my 30mile update and I was averaging a 13 - stupid flat!  So I was cruising along when I spotted my brother in laws parents about 10 miles out from the bike finish.  I was really excited to see someone I knew and quickly shouted a HEEEEYYYYY as I rode past.  As I came into the last mile or two stretch I saw my Dad and quickly shouted HEY DAD! Too which he was very surprised and wasn't expecting to see me yet.  Finally down and into transition! I had survived the bike, now just a 1/2 marathon left!

      The run was a 2 loop out and back course.  I quickly waved to my family, told my sister I was glad Dad taught me how to change a flat and I was off.  But man, my legs felt like jello.  About a 1/4 of a mile in my quads, right above my knees started cramping so bad!  But I took it in stride and was hoping it was just my transitioning legs from the bike to the run.  Unfortunately that was not the case.  My legs went through a series of crazy cramping where I would stop and literally punch them to being totally fine, just tired and off I would run.  Two things on the run that probably saved me were the pretzles and cola they were serving at the aid stations.  The pretzles because I really needed the salt and the cola because of the sugar and caffeine.  I have truly never had a soda that tasted so good!  Finally the first loop was done and I was rounding the corner to start my second when I saw my sister and decided to stop and chat with her for a second, to only have my legs cramp up like crazy! One of my siblings took a picture in which you can see my muscle cramping - ridiculous!  The second loop was really slow, but I met a really nice girl named Darcy and we stuck together for the last 3 miles pushing each other, telling stories and essentially just helping each other with those last three miles.  Suddenly the finish line was in sight and I was overcome with this crazy sense of accomplishment!  My entire family, was just beyond the finish line and their cheers brought me in as my name was announced over the speaker system.  I DID IT!!! Click the following link to see me actually cross the finish line!  My finish Video!

  70.3 miles - filled with memories, I will never forget!  Thank you to everyone who helped me get to yesterday's race, I couldn't have done it without you all!  Weirdly enough today, I am only very minorly sore! Maybe I should go to the gym and get a workout in??

Friday, July 4, 2014

Land of the Free BECAUSE of the Brave

     I've always considered myself a pretty patriotic American. I love apple pie, hot dogs, baseball, crazy 4th of july celebrations, labor day, memorial day, etc.  But in the last few years my patriotism has changed.  I think I had a very superficial outlook on these American holidays - I was patriotic because everyone was, of course you wear red, white and blue but I don't think I appreciated these holidays for what they really represent.  All of that changed a few years ago when my brother decided to become a Marine.  His decision was met with very mixed feelings from everyone who knew him, pride at his bravery and fear that if he ever got deployed he might not make it back. 

     Three months away at bootcamp with next to no communication besides an occasional hand written letter was incredibly hard on my tight knit family of 11. (Yes, it is possible to be a really close family with that many people.)  When he graduated from bootcamp, my family made the trip out to San Diego to support him and experience what it meant to suddenly be a military family.  I remember being struck by the magnitude of  the decision that all of these young men made to serve our wonderful country.  That weekend was filled with many tears, some at finally being able to see my brother, some from laughing so hard at some of his bootcamp stories but most importantly some at finally realizing what it truly means to be an American and the sacrifice that some men and women are called to give.
     Now fast forward 3 years to today, when we celebrate the 4th of July and our Independence and I can't help but think of the history of this great Nation and the sacrifices that have brought us to where we are today.  While I don't agree with every decision our government makes, or have the same views as everyone else, I can't help but feel patriotic and like one unified nation even if it's just for one day.  But more importantly I think of the men and women who have fought for our freedom and independence from the very beginning, they have valiantly given so much of themselves.  Some have given their lives, others have given up holidays and events with their families, their absence is always felt.  So I encourage all of you to take a moment today while you are enjoying your BBQs, day at the lake or just hanging with family and friends to really think about what this day means, take a moment to thank servicemen and women for what they do and what they have done.  I thank God daily for the fact that we live in an amazing country and I pray daily for the men and women who continue to serve our country to make it the free nation that it is today.