hard and heavy racing

“It can be hard and heavy, but still be right.”

~Vanessa Faye Foerster

Cliff Notes Version: I raced the Drake 1/2 marathon on Sunday! 💙💛

  • This was my first race of 2022
  • At the race start, the windchill was in the upper 30s with actual temps in the mid 40s, it was sunny, and SUPER windy (~30 mph sustained winds with higher gusts)
  • This is a hilly course
  • I felt “heavy” with pressure going into this race…pressure I was inflicting on myself
I am here for it! #LFG ⚡️

Longer Version:

After a shake out run to warm up, I made my way up to “corral A” shortly before the official race start. I barely heard the National Anthem (and I’m quite certain the people behind me had no clue it was being sung) due to the high winds and poor speaker quality/positioning. While standing there waiting for the race to start, I realized something was missing…excitement. The excitement I typically feel before the start of a race was absent. I felt “heavy.” I was carrying the weight of so much unnecessary pressure on my shoulders…pressure I was inflicting on myself. Pressure of needing to do more. Pressure of needing to be more. Pressure of needing to be somewhere I’m not yet. Pressure of thinking I should be…blah, blah, blah. I was in a state of discomfort before the race even started.

When the horn beeped to signal the start of the race, the “elite” + “corral A” runners were set loose. Having run this course multiple times in the past, I know the terrain, turns, etc. throughout the course, so I knew to take it easy out of the gate as the start is uphill with a right hand turn a few blocks into the start of the race.

I kept a comfortable (ish) pace in the beginning miles while looking for carrots…people to pick off in front of me. At around mile 3 there is a significant downhill that is about a mile long. I used this stretch to check in with myself…how is my effort? How is my fueling? How is my body temperature? What do I need in this moment? The emotional discomfort was still there…”I’m not enough.” I decided not to fight or ignore these thoughts causing me to feel insecure. Instead, I “sat” with them and tried to move through them. Why am I having these thoughts? Where are they coming from? How can I change the way these thoughts make me feel?

As I started the climb back up at mile 4, I removed my gloves and took in a gel. I was starting to heat up just a bit with the winds at my back, but decided to keep my long sleeved tech shirt on for a while longer. I kept picking off people one by one in front of me, but those thoughts of “I am not enough. I am not fast enough. I am not good enough. I am not strong enough. I should be x, y, z” were still plaguing my brain, so I continued to “sit” with them. Why am I having these thoughts? Where are they coming from? How can I change the way these thoughts make me feel?

Somewhere between miles 5 and 6, I was feeling really warm, so I took off my long sleeved tech shirt and tied it around my waist. I tried strategies I have used in the past to try to pull my brain back in the present moment and enjoy what was left of this race experience, but they just weren’t sticking.

At about mile 9, I took in my second gel. And then as I crested the last big hill at mile 10, I reminded myself that I GET to do this. Sadly that was a fleeting thought that didn’t stick and I was back to feeling the heavy weight of “I am not enough” shortly after. My legs toyed with the possibility of cramping multiple times from this point through to the finish line. As a result, I slowed my pace a bit to allow myself to continue running and avoid cramping which might cause me to walk (or worse…completely stop moving).

As I made my way back toward the stadium and the finish line, I had so many emotions…I was sad, disappointed, and humiliated with myself and my finish time. I had spent the majority of this race in a mental space that I don’t typically experience on race day; the discomfort was real.

The Drake 1/2 Marathon had loads of discomfort, burning in my legs, a pounding heart, heavy breathing, salty sweat in my eyes, exhaustion, emotional discomfort, challenges, learning, and growing, AND you know what?! I’m S O D A M N P R O U D of experiencing all of it because all of this helps me create the best version of myself! I am here for it! #LFG ⚡️

As I walked to the car, I thought about and processed the emotions I was feeling. I thought about what I had overcome during the race and found a whole list of things to celebrate:

  • I showed up to race despite feeling “heavy” the week before…therefore, I AM MORE THAN ENOUGH!
  • I was full of discomfort for the majority of the race (physically, mentally, and emotionally), but I didn’t try to fight the discomfort or put a temporary blanket over it to hide it…instead I sat with the discomfort and moved through it (and I continued to process the emotional discomfort yesterday at counseling)…therefore, I AM MORE THAN ENOUGH!
  • I didn’t quit…therefore, I AM MORE THAN ENOUGH!
  • I didn’t walk except for a few steps at aid stations to avoid spilling my water while drinking it…therefore, I AM MORE THAN ENOUGH!
  • I problem solved to fight off the possibility of cramps in my legs…therefore, I AM MORE THAN ENOUGH!

While this may not have been one of my best races (physically, mentally, or emotionally), it was the race I needed in this moment on my journey to my next level. And ya know what?! I’m SO DAMN PROUD that I allowed myself to experience all of it, to “sit” with it, and to move through it because I will be so much stronger for it. This experience will aid in my ability to create the best version of myself that I can be because I AM MORE THAN ENOUGH!

Finish time: 1:59:55 (9:09/mile average pace) AG: 7/30, Females: 121/360, Overall: 390/793
Gear: Coeur Sports fitted run shorts, Coeur Sports triathlon tank with shelf bra, Coeur Sports visor, Newton Kismet running shoes, Roka SL-1X sunnies

the best of 2021

I love looking back and thinking about all of the amazing things that I’ve accomplished and all of the challenges I’ve overcome! I’ve reflected for the last 8 years and now it’s time to reflect on 2021! You can look back at my previous posts if you’d like: the Best of 2013, the Best of 2014, the Best of 2015, the Best of 2016, the Best of 2017, the Best of 2018, the Best of 2019, and the Best of 2020. Now its time to reminisce my favs from 2021! 🙂

Best race experience?

The Ironman 70.3 World Championship isn’t the “best race experience” because it was easy and everything went according to plan on race day (wait…does that ever happen?!). Nope! It was the “best race experience” because it challenged me in ways I’ve NEVER been challenged before. The challenging terrain + Mother Nature’s crazy attitude forced us to “rise to it” on race day like I’ve never had to do before. It was definitely a race to remember! If you missed the recap of this epic race, this is one you definitely want to catch up on! Here is the link. Sit back and enjoy what can only be described as crazy! ***Secretly I want to do it all again with the same conditions, on the same course. 🤪

📸 Finisher Pix

Best race performance?

I was  R E A D Y  for Ironman Arizona! I was  R E A D Y  to toe the start line. I was  R E A D Y  to challenge myself. I was  R E A D Y  to put it all together and create a performance I had never had before. And that is
E X A C T L Y  what I did! I created an experience I’ve never had and it was  A M A Z I N G! I had an overall PR of 52 minutes, finishing in 12:44:56. #LFG
⚡️⚡️⚡️

Sure, this was my best Ironman performance physically, but it was also my best Ironman performance from my mental endurance performance and that is what I’m the most damn proud of! ⚡️⚡️⚡️

I was SO DAMN PROUD to have created a shiny new PR by 52 minutes! ⚡️

I’m grateful for the privilege to race, for the privilege to challenge myself in new ways, for the privilege to run down another red carpet, and for the privilege to cross another finish line! ⚡️⚡️⚡️

Best run?

The Drake 1/2 Marathon was one where I completely pushed myself out of my comfort zone and RACED! I had no idea if this would be my last race of the year (hello Covid) and I was not going to leave anything out on the course just in case things went backwards. Crossing that finish line brought tears to my eyes! Full race recap here.

Squeee!! I GOT to cross a start line and a finish line of an IRL race!!

Best bike?

I had a lot of great bike rides this year, but the ones that speak to me as being the “best” from 2021 were the last two century+ bike rides that I did in preparation for IMAZ. The temps had dropped, the winds were high, and I had to bundle up in all of the gear to stay warm. I almost took these rides to the trainer, but I’m SO glad I opted to ride outside instead. These rides gave me a great mental boost (as well as physical boost) going into Ironman Arizona!


Decide…I decided 100+ miles on the bike (+ 1 hour run off the bike) was going to be AMAZING! I was determined to keep a positive attitude, be gritty, and to persevere! I wasn’t going to let Mother Nature win. She tried to push me around a bit (hello wind), but I won this round!

I GET to do this! So much gratitude for the strength of my body + mind, the support from my #1, my safety on the open roads, the beautiful fall day, and the gorgeous fall foliage.

Best swim?

We FINALLY made it home home to visit my parents last summer (it had been nearly 2 years since we were last home…hello Covid). Thank you vaccines! When we were home, Dad drove the boat beside us (on more than one occasion) so we could swim a 5K in West Okoboji Lake. Getting to swim in the open water, see the bottom of the lake while swimming (because the water is so clear), and having my #1 beside me was amazing! Having Dad’s support was icing on the cake!

Seize the opportunity!

Best finish line?

Twin Lakes Sprint Triathlon when I took the overall female win! I never imagined myself breaking the tape at any race. I’m sooo thrilled to have had such an awesome experience! Here is the link for my race recap.

GETTING to break the tape as I take 1st overall female! ⚡️⚡️⚡️

Best surprise?

Getting a roll down slot to Ironman 70.3 World Championships in St. George, Utah was the best surprise of the year! I was shocked when I got the email that I had earned a roll down slot from racing Ironman 70.3 Des Moines. I had a great race in Des Moines in spite of the nearly 3 hour weather delay + shortened bike, but my performance didn’t put me in the top 14 in my age group (which is how many slots were awarded), so I didn’t expect to get a slot. Thankfully some ladies who were faster than me had either already qualified at a different race or didn’t want to go to Worlds, so I got a slot and it was quite the epic adventure!

WUT?! I got a roll down slot to Ironman 70.3 World Championships! #soexcited

Best mental endurance compass?

I had the AMAZING opportunity and pleasure to work with Vanessa Faye Foerster for 24 weeks this year. She teaches athletes how to build mental endurance by “dropping the self doubt + fueling the self confidence.” The journey she helped me create this year was challenging, enlightening, fun, and worth every penny! What I have learned has not only boosted my racing performance, but it has also elevated my personal life. I am so grateful for her guidance to push me out of my comfort zone to level up into the zone where I cultivate the life I want to live. #LFG ⚡️

This amazing, beautiful human helped me transform my self belief from superficial belief to belief down to my core. ⚡️ THANK YOU VANESSA! ❤️

Best enCOEURaging moment?

The Ames Triathlon was back in action this year after a year off (thank you Covid). What a great race! It is so fun to see people achieve their goals and do things they once thought were impossible. If you want to experience the Ames Triathlon for yourself, come to Ames in June 2022! You won’t be disappointed!

Who’s ready to race?! We are ready to get this party started! Photo credit: Dave Mable

Best new gear?

The Coeur Sports Wind Vest has been AMAZING for getting outside and riding on those chilly fall days! Signing up for an Ironman that took place in November meant I had to bundle up to get my 100 mile rides done outside…because let’s be honest…riding 100 miles in the basement is definitely not as much fun as riding outside!

110+ miles is a long time to be in your own head. Good thing I know the words to a lot of songs or make up my own words and can sing at the top of my lungs because Mother Nature doesn’t care what I sound like! 🤣🤪

Seriously though…this wind vest is AMAZING! It kept me warm while allowing me to carry all the nutrition, and has reflective strips on it for better visibility.

Best way to stay healthy?

Get vaccinated! The end (no comments on this necessary…I will delete them).

I’m boosted! #getvaccinated (not up for debate…I’ll delete your comments)

Best piece of racing advice you received?

“Be calm; focus on what you are going to do. Don’t get distracted, don’t get overwhelmed, take it all as it comes. You are ready for this; you’ve prepared for years. This is it, your time to shine. Go forth with all your powers. Go forth with everything in you. Make it work.”

~Lynne Cox in her book “Swimming to Antarctica”

Most inspirational athlete?

Chris Nikic crossed the Ironman Florida finish line in November of 2020 becoming the first person with Down Syndrome to become an Ironman. He believes you can achieve more by creating a habit to get 1% better than you were yesterday. He has since crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon and the New York City Marathon. He is gearing up for the Ironman World Championships in Kona in 2022, so let’s all cheer him on!

Best support crew?

I am so damn lucky to have the amazing support of my #1! He has supported me not only on race day(s), but day in and day out throughout my entire journey. I am forever grateful to have him on this journey with me. ❤️ you!

My #1! SO grateful for you! ❤️ you!

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?

PROUD + gratitude + fun + joy

Tell me about your 2021 year!! What are your “bests” from 2021?!

turn up the volume!

“Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it’s all about.”

~PattiSue Plumer

Cliff Notes Version: I GOT to race the Hillbilly Hike 1/2 Marathon on Saturday, November 6! 💙💛

Things seemed to be back to “normal” for this race. There weren’t any Covid measures in place, but we still wore masks on the bus ride to the start line to keep ourselves as healthy as possible before IMAZ.

  • this is a point to point race (starting in Indianola and finishing in Carlisle)
  • you park near the finish line and busses transport you to the start line (we wore masks on the bus, but many did not wear them)
  • they transport a morning clothes bag from the start area back to the finish line for you with any gear you don’t want to run in/with
  • the temps were in the low 40s at race start with mostly blue skies + strong tailwinds pushing us the whole way to the Carlisle finish line
  • there were aid stations with volunteers handing out water (and a few stations had Gatorade) every 2ish miles, but I carried water with me to practice for IMAZ race day
  • I took in a Science in Sport (SIS) gel before the start and then at miles 3.5, 7, and 10.5 to keep me strong all the way to the finish line
  • there was quite the spread of food at the finish…biscuits and gravy, pie, chips, bananas, and many beverage options

Longer Version: We arrived in Carlisle at about 6:45 am, got our race bib (with timing chip) and race shirts from packet pick up, got all of our gear ready for our race, packed up our morning clothes bag, and boarded a bus to take us to Indianola at about 7:15 am. This was plenty of time to arrive in Indianola, use the Kybo to empty the bladder, chat with friends, do an easy warm up, strip down to racing gear, drop our morning clothes bag for transport to the finish line, and get to the start line for the 8:30 am start.

The weather was really ideal for a 1/2 marathon…42*F, mostly sunny, winds from the S at 15 mph. When it was time to start, we didn’t hear any sound to indicate the start of the race…we simply saw people starting to run in front of us, so we followed them.

We ran on a few streets before making our way to the paved trail that would take us all the way to Carlisle. I decided to take it easy for the first few miles to ease into it before kicking it up a notch (or two).

I decided I was not going to look at my Garmin to see where I was for pace or overall time for the duration of the race. I was running by feel and enjoying the opportunity to race in person. I wanted to see just how my race would unfold while monitoring my effort as that is my plan for race day at IMAZ. The first aid station was just past mile 2. This is where I kicked it up a notch. I really wanted to see what I could do on this day. I took in my first Science in Sport (SIS) gel at about mile 3.5 (there was paint on the trail every 1/2 mile with how far we were to the end of the trail), washed it down, and continued to run strong!

At mile 4 I kicked it up another notch. I stayed in the present mile I was in and tapped into my intentional thoughts to keep me focused and in control of my race. I was so happy to be racing! I continued to run strong and smile big for the duration of the race. It was fun to chase down other athletes and do what I love again!

As I turned toward the lake shortly before mile 7, I took in my second SIS gel. This is such a fun section of the race. With it being a short out and back section, you get to see other athletes, cheer them on, and enjoy the glorious fall scenery along the lake.

Feeling SO strong!

After exiting the lake area and getting back on the trail, it was time to put the head down to do work. With 5miles to the finish line, this is where I wanted to see just how fart I could take myself. I took in my final SIS gel shortly after mile 10 to keep me running strong all the way through to the finish.

As I approached the end of the trail in Carlisle (where the finish line is), I was so full of joy…the weather was perfect, I GOT to race, I got to push my limits without looking at my Garmin once, I felt the strongest physically and mentally while racing that I’ve felt in years! There was so much to be grateful for!

SO much joy for racing!

As I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face, fatigue in my legs, happiness in my heart, fuel in my soul, and excitement for what is to come, all was right in the world! I had SO MUCH JOY! Oh…and the icing on the cake…I ran my second fastest 1/2 marathon EVER (my fastest was 14.5 years ago and I only missed that finish time by 2 minutes).

Finish time: 1:50:26 (8:25/mile average pace) AG: 6/35, Females: 38/171, Overall: 106/310
Gear: Coeur Sports fitted run shorts, Coeur Sports sports bra, Coeur Sports running tank top, Coeur Sports visor, Newton Kismet running shoes, Roka SL-1X sunnies, Orange Mud hand held water bottle

spicy hot

“Racing teaches us that we are capable of so much more than we ever imagined.”

~Unknown

Cliff Notes Version: I GOT to race IN REAL LIFE Saturday and it was SPICY HOT! 💙💛

The race directors at the Des Moines Women’s 1/2 marathon put on a very safe race with the following Covid guidelines in place:

  • any athlete with Covid symptoms was asked to stay home
  • athletes were not allowed into the starting corral until 5 minutes before the 2:00 pm start time (which actually got delayed 15 minutes because of the wind blowing everything over on course…35 mph sustained winds with gusts up to 50 mph made it interesting)
  • athletes were spread 6 feet apart in the starting “corral” (each athlete had to stand on one of the pink stickers on the ground to be spread apart)
  • 3 athletes started every 10 seconds to spread athletes out for social distancing
  • I carried my own additional water for this race because it was SO spicy hot (87*F) that I knew I would need extra fluids
  • There were dixie cups with water and sports drink available for athletes to grab off of tables at the water stations
  • volunteers were not serving athletes at the aid stations, only filling water/sports drink cups
  • all volunteers were masked
  • when athletes crossed the finish line they were directed to pick up their own finisher medal from metal stands
  • there was no food distribution at the finish line (each athlete was given post race food, but I didn’t go to the table to see what was available or how it was distributed…I was ready to be in the air conditioned car)

Longer Version: With the temps at 87*F, full sun, and winds gusting up to 50 mph at the 2 pm start time, many athletes waited around in the shade before the start of the race. At 1:55 pm, we were told that athletes could start making their way into the starting corral, but then shortly after we were told there was a delay due to the strong winds blowing things over on the race course.

Waiting for them to let us in the starting corral. Photo Credit: Converging Photography

We were given the all clear to race at about 2:15 pm. I made my way toward the front of the corral and started in the 3rd wave of athletes (the sooner I started, the less time I had to stand around and wait in the heat + sun). I knew with this heat, sun, and wind that I really needed to control my pacing and hydrate well, so I intentionally started out slower than I did a few weeks ago at the Drake 1/2 marathon. My goals for this race were to pace well, hydrate well, stay on top of my nutrition, only walk through the aid stations to drink water they provided, and have fun. My walk breaks were incredibly short as the aid stations were very short. The garbage cans for the empty cups were positioned right after the last (2nd) table. With the winds as strong as they were, I didn’t want to drop my empty cup on the ground and have it blow away, so I made sure to quickly drink my water and then get my cup in the garbage. This often meant I only got to walk for about 5-10 quick steps before I was back to running again.

In the first 1/2 mile, there were many ladies who ran by me at smoking fast paces, but I reminded myself to stay in control and run my pace. At about mile 1.5, some Isiserettes Drill & Drum Corp. members were under a bridge in the shade lifting the spirits of the runners. Running past them at races is ALWAYS a highlight! This organization is doing AMAZING things to help keep kids off the streets and out of gangs. So much talent!

Isiserettes Drill & Drum Corp. Photo credit: Converging Photography

It wasn’t long and I was passing those same ladies that flew past me in the first 1/2 mile. I’m guessing they went out way too hot and blew up in the first 3 miles as most of them were walking. I was sticking with my plan and pacing well, while only walking through the aid stations to take in plenty of water without spilling it since it was so spicy hot. At about mile 3.5 I took in a gel and then at about mile 4.5 we ran past the first relay exchange zone where there were more spectators to cheer us on. This was a great pick me up!

At about mile 5 ish we ran past a small stage with drag queens singing, dancing, and cheering us on. “If we can dance on this stage in these shoes, you can keep going.” This brought a HUGE smile to my face and I continued with forward progress.

Heading out toward mile 6ish. Photo credit: The Iron Hippie

From mile 6ish to 7ish was on a cinder trail and was really shaded, which was a nice change. At about mile 7 I consumed another gel and a beet pill to stay on top of my nutrition.

Coming off the cinder trail. Photo credit: The Iron Hippie

Mile 9 was straight into the headwind. I was grateful for the wind as it was a great cooling mechanism, but being blown to an abrupt stop while running made me laugh out loud! All I could do was yell, “Kiss me harder Mother Nature” as I smiled big and continued forward.

Running straight into that headwind! “Kiss me harder Mother Nature!” Photo credit: The Iron Hippie

Miles 10-11 were around a pond and mostly shaded with the winds at our backs, which was a nice reprieve. I took in my last gel between miles 10 and 11 to have the energy to finish strong. By mile 12 I was ready to be done. It was so spicy hot, but I stayed strong and kept soldering on. The last 1/2 mile to the finish was a bit frustrating as we ran right by the finish line and did a small loop before we got to actually head toward the finish line. After crossing the finish line, I grabbed a water off of a table, my medal off of a hook holding all the medals, and made my way to the Iron Hippie so we could get back to the car. All I wanted was out of my sweaty nasty clothes and into the air conditioning.

This was a spicy hot finish line, but I’m so grateful to have gotten the opportunity to cross it! Photo Credit: The Iron Hippie

I am super proud of my performance and very happy to have had the opportunity to cross a spicy hot finish line. This race was a great opportunity to practice for my 70.3 race coming up next month since I swam 3000 yards and rode 87 miles on Friday before having this race at 2 pm in the heat of the day on Saturday. This big training weekend and spicy hot race added lots of confidence into the bank! 💙💛

Cheers to another #medalmonday

Finish time: 2:03:54 (9:28/mile average pace) AG: 6/70, Females: 41/559, Overall: 43/579
Gear: Coeur Sports fitted run shorts, Coeur Sports run tank, Coeur Sports sports bra, Coeur Sports visor, Newton Kismet running shoes, Roka SL-1X sunnies, Orange Mud hand held water bottle

squeee!

“Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it’s all about.”

~PattiSue Plumer

Cliff Notes Version: Squeee! I GOT to race IN REAL LIFE Sunday! 💙💛

The race directors at the Drake 1/2 marathon put on a very safe race with the following Covid guidelines in place:

  • any athlete with Covid symptoms was asked to stay home
  • masks were required before and after the race
  • athletes were not allowed into the starting corral until 6:45 am (with a 7:00 am start time for the first wave)
  • athletes were spread 6 feet apart in the starting “corral” (each athlete had to stand on one of the 50 blue “D”s that was painted on the ground to be spread apart)
  • 50 athletes started every 90 seconds to spread athletes out for social distancing
  • I carried my own water for this race so I didn’t have to interact with volunteers at the aid stations, but there were dixie cups with water and sports drink available for athletes to grab off of tables at the water stations
  • volunteers were not serving athletes at the aid stations, only refilling water/sports drink
  • all volunteers were masked
  • when athletes crossed the finish line in the stadium, a volunteer gave each athlete a mask and mylar blanket
  • volunteers guided the athletes out of the stadium preventing athletes from hanging out in the stadium after finishing
  • no spectators were allowed in the stadium at the finish line
  • there was no medal distribution at the finish line (finisher medals were placed on a table for each athlete to pick up their own medal after leaving the stadium)
  • there was no food distribution at the finish line (each athlete picked up a box with water, sports drink, banana, cookies, and beef jerky in it after leaving the stadium)
Yay for getting to do a #medalmonday post!

Longer Version: I was SO full of JOY because I GOT to cross a start line and a finish line of an IRL race on Sunday! We parked about 2 blocks from the start line, so after getting completely ready to run, eating my banana, and drinking some water, we walked to the start line. I used a kybo to quickly empty my bladder, stripped off my sweatpants and sweatshirt (thanks to the Iron Hippie for putting them in his backpack and lugging them around with him while he biked around the course to cheer me on), and then entered the starting corral at 6:45 am when they started to let athletes in. I was not allowed to start in the first wave of runners because I am not an elite athlete, but I positioned myself in the second wave so that I could get moving as soon as possible. After the National Anthem and a few announcements, the first wave was off and we were moved up into the starting area.

Once in the starting area, we were told to stand on a blue “D,” remove our masks, and stow them as we would need them when we crossed the finish line. I put mine in a Ziploc bag that also housed my phone, which I put in one of my pockets in my Coeur Sports fitted running shorts. It was nice to be spread far enough apart that we could remove our masks before starting instead of having to wait until after we crossed the start line to remove them and then fumble with everything while running.

The weather was perfect for a 1/2 marathon…48*F, mostly cloudy, winds from the NW at 7 mph. When it was our turn to cross the start line, a volunteer counted down, said “GO”, and we were off. While there were only 50 people in our wave, it was nice to feel like we were racing again…even if the field of athletes was much more spread out than in years past.

Squeee! I get to race today! Photo credit: Iron Hippie

We immediately started climbing right from the start line, which is a good way to kind of tame the excitement at the race start that can sometimes cause one to start way faster than planned/intended. I settled into a slightly uncomfortable Z4 heart rate within the first mile. My goals were to maintain this slightly uncomfortable heart rate for the duration of the run knowing that it would likely creep up into Z5 at various times when climbing and #BELIEVE I could maintain this slightly uncomfortable HR for the duration of the race. Within that first mile, I realized I had forgotten to take my beet pill while waiting in the starting corral, so I took in a beet pill at about mile 1 while it was still relatively flat. Speaking of terrain, the first 3 miles are generally flattish, but then there is a good sized downhill and what goes down…must go up…and up…and up…and up…

What goes down, must come up!

I decided I was not going to look at my Garmin to see where I was for pace or overall time for the duration of the race. I was running by feel and enjoying the opportunity to race in person. I wanted to see just how my race would unfold without monitoring my pace. I took in my first Science in Sport (SIS) gel at about mile 3.5 (there were big signs on the course indicating the location of each mile), washed it down, and continued to run strong!

Squeee! I get to race today! Photo credit: Iron Hippie

I was so happy to be racing again! I continued to run strong and smile big for the duration of the race. Lots of spectators commented on my big smile. Truth…I just couldn’t stop smiling! I was SO full of joy! I was SO grateful to be racing in person again! It was fun to chase down other athletes, see spectators out on the course cheering + holding up signs (“Go Stranger” was a big hit), and getting to do what I love again!

Squeee! I get to race today! Photo credit: Iron Hippie

Shortly after mile 7, I took in my second SIS gel and then took in another beet pill at mile 8 to keep the energy flowing so I could continue to run strong through all of the hills…did I mention this is a hilly course?! I didn’t even care! I just kept smiling BIG and running STRONG because I GOT TO RACE!

squeee!! I get to race today! Photo credit: Drake Road Races

With that BIG smile plastered on my face, joy in my heart, and my feet moving forward, I made my way to the top of the last BIG hill around mile 10 (there were still more rollers, but the BIG ones were behind me). This is where I took in my final SIS gel to keep me running strong all the way through to the finish.

Just keep climbing! Just keep climbing! Just keep climbing! Photo credit: Iron Hippie

As I approached Drake Stadium (where the finish line is), I was so full of joy…the weather was perfect, I got to see friends I haven’t seen in over a year, I GOT to race IRL, there were real spectators cheering, I got to push my limits without looking at my Garmin once, I felt the strongest physically and mentally while racing that I’ve felt in years!

Entering Drake Stadium and running the last 0.1 on the only flat surface of this entire race course. Photo credit: Drake Road Races

As I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face, tears in my eyes, fatigue in my legs, happiness in my heart, and fuel in my soul, all was right in the world! I had SO MUCH JOY! Oh…and the icing on the cake…I ran my second fastest 1/2 marathon EVER (my fastest was 14 years ago and I only missed that finish time by 2 minutes).

Squeee!! I GOT to cross a start line and a finish line of an IRL race on Sunday!! Photo credit: Drake Road Races

Finish time: 1:50:47 (8:28/mile average pace) AG: 7/18, Females: 35/133, Overall: 127/311
Gear: Coeur Sports fitted run shorts, Coeur Sports triathlon tank with shelf bra, Coeur Sports visor, Newton Kismet running shoes, Roka SL-1X sunnies, Orange Mud hand held water bottle

pinch me!

“Nerves are a cousin to excitement and excitement is a cousin to gratitude. If you feel nervous, it’s a sign that a VERY BIG THING is unfolding. Be nervous for how good that thing can be.”

~Alexi Pappas

Cliff Notes Version: Pinch me! I got to race IN REAL LIFE Sunday for the first time since November 2020! Nerves were high, but it is a good thing to be nervous! I was SO excited and grateful to be racing in person again that I didn’t even care about the ridiculously strong winds! I stayed true to myself and did what I said I was going to do…run the whole race and push my limits even when it became uncomfortable, which it definitely did. Oh, and that VERY BIG THING that unfolded…it was massive amounts of self discovery because I decided to show the f*%k up and #believe I could push myself farther than I thought possible! 💙💛

The race directors at the Des Moines St. Paddy’s 1/2 marathon put on a very safe race with the following Covid guidelines in place:

  • each athlete had to fill out a survey online before racing to determine their exact start time, which was sent to each athlete via email
  • any athlete with Covid symptoms was asked to stay home
  • masks were required before and after the race
  • athletes were not to arrive to the start line any earlier than 5 minutes before their designated start time
  • athletes were spread 6 feet apart in the starting “corral”
  • 1 athlete started every 5 seconds to spread athletes out for social distancing
  • there was no medal distribution at the finish line (finisher medals were placed in a paper bag with an orange, cookie, and protein bar that athletes picked up off of a table)
  • spectators were not allowed to congregate at the start/finish area
  • I carried my own water for this race so I didn’t have to interact with volunteers at the aid stations, but there were small individually sealed water bottles and sports drink available for athletes to grab off of tables at the water stations. Volunteers were not handing them to athletes
  • all volunteers were masked
  • Bonus safety measure…Mother Nature provided us with 20+ mph winds so there was very little risk of Covid droplets hanging in the air from others
It’s race morning! Who’s ready to race IN PERSON?! THIS GIRL!! 🥳

Longer Version: As I was preparing to start the race, my nerves were REALLY high but I knew those nerves were representatives of excitement and gratitude that I was going to GET to race IN PERSON! I was given the start time of 7:45 am, but I could hear an announcement being made that anyone could start the 1/2 marathon if they were ready (as they had spread people SO far out that they weren’t sending people off every 5 seconds as planned, but more like every minute instead). So I ate my banana, took off my sweats, and made my way to the starting corral where only 2 people were waiting to start. Within 10 seconds of me entering the starting corral, I was off.

I was fumbling a bit after crossing the starting mat as I had to remove my mask and put it away. I put it in a Ziploc bag that also housed my phone, which I put in one of my pockets on my Coeur Sports fitted running shorts.

It was a WINDY morning with temps near 40*F (and a windchill temp closer to freezing) at the start + partly sunny/cloudy…and those winds were 18-20 mph with gusts up to 45 mph from the south. I honestly didn’t even care that it was windy! I was just SO happy to be racing in person!

Mile 4 ish and going strong…Photo credit: Iron Hippie

As I ran, my phone was giving me splits (that were often WAY off), which annoyed me, but I decided to completely ignore it and just go! I typically don’t run with my phone in this mode, but I didn’t want to try to mess with it while running + it was the tracking device that was being used so the Iron Hippie would know where I was. He and Jersey (our baby girl) were bouncing around the course cheering me on. I am so grateful for their love and support!

Mile 5 ish and feeling great! Photo credit: Iron Hippie

In previous 1/2 marathons I had only taken in 1 or 2 gels throughout the entire race and typically felt it wasn’t enough. I decided this time I was going to take in 3 gels throughout the race even if I didn’t feel I needed it in that moment…one every 3-4 miles. This would turn out to be a GREAT decision and one I need to be sure to implement in future races as well! This helped me achieve my goal, which was to run the entire race without one walking step and to continue to push myself even when things got uncomfortable. My mindset was strong! I stayed focused and determined.

Mile 8 ish…so happy to see my cheer squad! Photo credit: Iron Hippie

Around mile 9 I started to really heat up. The sun had risen and I was warm. I should have given my LS jersey to the Iron Hippie at this point, but with the wind I didn’t know if I would still want it, so I decided to keep it on until I saw him next. This was the only thing I really regret about my race.

Mile 9 ish…should have ditched that LS here. Photo credit: Iron Hippie

I ended up ditching my LS at about mile 11 when I saw the Iron Hippie next and was SO grateful for that strong wind and evaporative cooling! Knowing I was getting closer and closer to the finish line, I just kept pushing! Reminding myself to #believe I could do this and that I was here to show the f*%k up and give it all I had!

Focused rounding the corner just before mile 12. Photo credit: Iron Hippie

Shortly after seeing the Iron Hippie for the last time before the finish line, I saw our friend Alex (who also happens to be the event timer for this race). He gave me a high five, which was just the motivation I needed to push hard for that last mile! As I got closer to the Capitol building (where the finish line was), I got even more excited! I was doing this! I was pushing my limits! I was staying strong! I was having fun! I was showing the f*%k up! I was believing in myself! I was confident! I was having fun!

About a 1/2 mile from the finish line! Photo Credit: Alex

As I approached the finish line, the gratitude I had for being able to race in person was overwhelming…tears in my eyes, fatigue in my legs, happiness in my heart, fuel in my soul. All was right in the world…even if briefly. I had missed this! I had missed racing! I had missed these moments of self discovery…leaving it all out there and seeing what you are really capable of! While this wasn’t a PR race, it was everything I needed in this moment!

Pinch me! I got to race IN REAL LIFE Sunday! And cross an actual finish line! 💙💛 Photo Credit: Iron Hippie

Finish time: 1:54:49 (8:44/mile average pace) AG: 5/18, Females: 33/132, Overall: 109/293
Gear: Coeur Sports fitted run shorts, Coeur Sports triathlon tank with shelf bra, Coeur Sports long sleeve jersey, Coeur Sports visor, Newton Kismet running shoes, Roka SL-1X sunnies, Orange Mud hand held water bottle, Boco Gear converter glove

It’s been far too long since I’ve gotten to do a #medalmonday post! Beyond grateful for the opportunity to race in person and cross a real finish line! Soaking it all up and celebrating some BIG wins from Sunday’s race! 💙💛

the best of 2020

I love looking back and thinking about all of the amazing things that I’ve accomplished and all of the challenges I’ve overcome! I think we can all agree that 2020 was a VERY UNIQUE year!! I’ve reflected for the last 7 years and now it’s time to reflect on 2020! You can look back at my previous posts if you’d like: the Best of 2013, the Best of 2014, the Best of 2015, the Best of 2016, the Best of 2017, the Best of 2018, and the Best of 2019. Now its time to reminisce my favs from 2020! 🙂

Best race experience?

The Hillbilly Hike 1/2 marathon was my first race in 40 weeks due to the Covid shutdown of so many things this year. I was SO GRATEFUL that I GOT TO race and race safely! You can see my full race report here, which includes all of the Covid precautions that were taken.

Happy heart! Photo credit: the Iron Hippie

Best run?

The Hillbilly Hike 1/2 marathon, while not my best 1/2 marathon finish time, was definitely my best run! After such a long hiatus from racing, I was SO full of gratitude that I was able to race again! This was my best run…possibly ever. It was the first time EVER that I ran the entire 1/2 marathon race without one walk step! So not only am I grateful for the opportunity to race, but I’m incredibly grateful that my body allowed me to push it by running every single step!

This mile is for you! Photo credit: the Iron Hippie

Best bike?

This is SUCH a tough one! I covered over 7000 miles on my bike in 2020 giving me the most bike miles in one year that I have EVER had by over 3500 miles. This provided lots of opportunities for the “best bike” ride. We completed 8 century rides this year. We got to ride in 2 states. We even explored some new roads. All in all, I can’t pick just one ride that was the best this year! Anytime I GOT to ride my bike outside on the open roads with my fav was the best bike ride in that moment…and I’m grateful there were A LOT of them this year!

What a perfect day for 100 miles on 2 wheels! Bluebird skies, gorgeous green foliage, golden glow, and no wind on the open roads/trails…doesn’t get much better than this!

Best swim?

Since we had a 10 week hiatus from the pool due to the Covid shutdown, the first swim back in the pool in May after being away from the water for 10 weeks was pretty amazing!

After 10 weeks away from the water, it is safe to say I missed it tremendously! The calm, quiet, meditative state the water provides is exactly what my soul needed! I was SO grateful to have the whole pool to just the two of us this morning.

Best finish line?

Getting to cross the finish line at the Hillbilly Hike 1/2 Marathon was a dream come true this year with cancellation after cancellation of all things in 2020! It filled my heart with joy in those moments! It gave me hope for the future!

Happy heart! Photo credit: the Iron Hippie

Best training weekend?

Getting away to train in Madison with my fav and Coeur Sports teammates in August was a MUCH needed break from reality! We swam a bit in Lake Monona, ran some, and rode all of the miles! Getting to do what we love somewhere else and with others (safely and outdoors) filled my heart with joy and helped me keep plugging forward in this year of complete uncertainty.

That family portrait…fun with friends on two wheels!

A weekend with friends on two wheels enjoying life outdoors in Madison was exactly what my heart and soul needed!

Best moment out of my comfort zone?

I have been out of my comfort zone more than I have been in it this year, so I am not sure I can pick just one moment. When you step out of your comfort zone, this is where learning occurs, where you grow, where the magic happens. I have been learning and growing SO MUCH in 2020!

Best 100 mile bike ride support crew?

We were SO lucky to have two of my amazing Coeur Sports teammates ride a big part of one of our 100 mile rides with us in early July! Wow was it was a HOT + HUMID day, but they didn’t complain (at least not to us)! They were so supportive and encouraged us to keep going for the last stretch when they were done. It was great to have others to ride with!

#smilesformiles with some AMAZING peeps today! Love life on two wheels even more when others join the fun!
#secondcenturyof2020

So fun to get to spend time on two wheels with these two AMAZING peeps! Can’t wait to do this again!

Best new gear?

Coeur Sports fitted run shorts and performance tights. The pockets in both of these are AMAZING! I can hold SO much in each of them. They are even flexible enough for me to carry a water bottle in the pocket if I want. They don’t move or chafe no matter how wet you get. These are a MUST HAVE!!

Best way to stay healthy?

Wear a face covering!

The masked bandit is ready to race.

Best piece of racing advice you received?

“Just be ready to feel rusty.” ~Steena

Best addition?

JERSEY! We are SO blessed to have been chosen to adopt Jersey right before the pandemic initiated shutdown mode. She is so sweet, loves to play, enjoys every moment, is a strong runner, wants to go everywhere we go, and has a key to each of our hearts.

After work, we adopted our new baby girl…meet Jersey! She will be 2 years old in March and holds keys to all of our hearts.

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?

Challenging, courageous, uncomfortable…and of course dumpster fire!!

Tell me about your 2020 year!! What are your “bests” from 2020?!

I got to race!

2020 sure has been an interesting year. It slammed on the breaks causing us to slow WAY down. It opened my eyes to what has been missing in my life that brings me so much joy…human connection and racing. It forced us to sit in the uncomfortable for SO LONG, but you know that?! The uncomfortable is where growth happens, so if nothing else, we are growing A LOT this year! And in some areas, it’s about damn time!

Cliff Notes Version: Saturday I got to race for the first time since February. SO much is different, but I’m SO GRATEFUL for the opportunity to race safely! This was my first 1/2 marathon EVER that I ran the ENTIRE thing without taking one walking step. I kept reminding myself that #IGETTO do this and I have no idea when I’ll get to race again, so I was going to push myself even when it became uncomfortable, which it did.

The race directors at the Hillbilly Hike 1/2 marathon put on a very safe race with the following Covid guidelines in place:

  • each athlete had to fill out a Covid survey online 24 hours before racing
  • masks were required before and after (I wore mine for the first 4 miles and every time I went through an aid station or if I was by others while running)
  • athletes were spread 6 feet apart in the starting “corral” that extended for an eternity
  • 2 athletes started every 5 seconds to spread athletes out for social distancing
  • there was no medal distribution at the finish line (finisher medals were placed in a brown paper bag with a banana, cookie, and granola bar that athletes picked up off of a table)
  • spectators were not allowed to congregate at the start/finish area
  • this year the race route was changed from a point-to-point format (requiring buses to shuttle athletes to the start) to an out-and-back format
  • I carried my own water for this race so I didn’t have to interact with volunteers at the aid stations
  • Bonus safety measure…Mother Nature provided us with 20+ mph winds so there was very little risk of Covid droplets from others

The masked bandit is ready to race. Photo credit: the Iron Hippie

Longer Version: As I was preparing to start the race, my anxiety was REALLY high and the voices in my head were battling back-and-forth. “Should I really be racing?! We are outside, spread apart, and the race directors have put lots of Covid guidelines in place for the safety of everyone. Am I doing everything I can to be safe in the pandemic?! I am wearing my buff and I’m following the Covid guidelines. Maybe I should just not show up to the start line and go home. You are here and ready to race, so get your butt to the start line. Once you get started, you’ll be fine.”

As I approached the start line, I was told to wait until the clock read “8:04:30” to start. There was no gun going off, there was no countdown, there was no “ready, set, go”, there was nothing but me deciding to cross the start line and begin running.

It was a BEAUTIFUL morning with temps near 55*F at the start + sunny and VERY windy (20-30 mph winds with gusts up to 40 mph from the south). I kept my buff over my face for the first 4 miles as there were more athletes around than I was comfortable with (that is one thing that needs to be done differently in the future…have people line up according to the pace they plan to run instead of just randomly line up). Eventually we were spread out enough that I pulled my buff down and only put it back up when I went through an aid station or passed other athletes. With the strong winds, I felt fairly confident that if there were any Covid droplets in the air, they wouldn’t stick around for long.

Running strong! Photo credit: the Iron Hippie

As I ran, I was reminded that I “bring my own energy” and I could continue to let my anxiety dictate my race or I could enjoy and be GRATEFUL for the opportunity to race again! I hopped on the gratitude train and rode it to the end. I was grateful to be racing again. I was grateful for the beautiful weather. I was grateful to be racing again. I was grateful that the Iron Hippie had come to support me. I was grateful to be racing again. I was grateful to see the Iron Hippie and Jersey (our youngest girl) at a few different places cheering me on. I was grateful to be racing again. I was grateful to see other athletes I knew. I was grateful to be racing again.

So much gratitude! Photo credit: the Iron Hippie

Around mile 10 it got hard. My legs were screaming at me…maybe I had been pushing too hard (is there such a thing?!), maybe it was the lack of run training, maybe it was the 70+ mile bike ride two days ago, maybe it was my brain telling my legs they were more tired than they really were. At this point, I hadn’t taken any walk breaks and I committed to myself that I was going to run the rest of this race. This is also when the self talk game came on strong! “You are going to run every step of this race! This would be the first race that you’ve run every step. Push hard! Who knows when I will actually get to race again?! Stay strong! You can do this! Smile! You GET TO RACE!” This is also where I started to run a mile for different people in my life that inspire me.

This mile is for you! Photo credit: the Iron Hippie

As I got close to the finish line, the gratitude I had for racing was overwhelming…tears in my eyes, fatigue in my legs, happiness in my heart, fuel in my soul. All was right in the world…even if briefly. I had missed this! I had missed racing! While this wasn’t a PR race, it was everything I needed in this moment!

Happy heart! Photo credit: the Iron Hippie

Squirrel

Friday evening I felt like Basil when she see’s a squirrel while we are running. *Squirrel!! What do I do?! Squirrel!! Which way do I go?! Squirrel!! Too many options!! Squirrel!! Which one should I choose?! Squirrel!! *

Basil treeing squirrels!

I had to decide what to do on Saturday morning. Do I:

  1. Run the PBR 1/2 marathon that I was already signed up for (which was a free entry) in Perry (which is a 1 hour drive each way).
  2. Sleep in and do whatever I want when I wake up.
  3. Run with friends at home for fun.
  4. Run the Rosy Cheeks 5K in Story City (which is a 15 minute drive each way + there are pancakes after the race).

Hello squirrel brain! Too many options. I decided to think about it while I did my FTP test Friday evening.

  1. Run the PBR 1/2 marathon that I was already signed up for (which was a free entry) in Perry (which is a 1 hour drive each way). Upon completing my FTP test, I decided the 1/2 marathon was out. I had completely spent everything my legs had in them. I didn’t want to risk injury running long for a race that didn’t mean much in the big picture of my 2020 racing season. Plus…we’ve had melting and refreezing (hello February in Iowa)…I didn’t want to fight that nonsense for 13.1 miles.
  2. Sleep in and do whatever I want when I wake up. I knew this wasn’t an option…sleep in?!?! Really?!?! Even if I do sleep in, sleeping in for us is usually not much later than 6 am. Yep…this was off the table.
  3. Run with friends at home for fun. I knew in my heart that I wanted to race. I love running with friends, but I don’t have the option to race the day after an FTP test often…actually, I’ve never done it. I wanted to push my limits (without risking injury) after my FTP test. Just how strong had all of this cycling in January made me? Just how far can I really go? What can I do on tired legs?
  4. Run the Rosy Cheeks 5K in Story City (which is a 15 minute drive each way + there were pancakes after the race). YES! This is what was in my heart. Plus…pancakes afterwards…yes please!

Run free. Run on the wild side.

A look at 2020

2020 is filling up fast and I’m super excited to toe the line at some new + repeat race events, experience some big training weekends with others, and have so much fun as I swim/bike/run + #celebrate EVERYTHING in 2020!

Here is what my 2020 schedule looks like so far:

  1. InCydeman Triathlon – January 19
  2. PBR 1/2 Marathon – February 1
  3. Coeur Camp in California – March 12-16
  4. Drake 1/2 Marathon – April 19
  5. Des Moines Women’s 1/2 Marathon – May 3
  6. Tri Clear Lake – May 30
  7. IRONMAN Des Moines 70.3 – June 21
  8. Madison Training Weekend – July 3-5
  9. Okoboji Triathlon – July 18
  10. IRONMAN Ohio 70.3 – July 26
  11. Okoboji Point to Point Swim – August 1
  12. IRONMAN Mont Tremblant – August 23
  13. Hillbilly Hike 1/2 Marathon – November 7

I have some BIG goals for some of these races, which I’ll share with you in another post (or multiple posts). Ultimately, I plan to #CELEBRATE the highs and lows, the peaks and valleys, the successes and challenges of my journey to each finish line + life! Throughout 2020, I will be focusing on having more fun, more joy, more action, more play, more dancing, more laughter and #CELEBRATE every part of each chapter that I write this year!

The chapters at the end of 2020 have some gaps in it that I know will fill in, but it’s anyone’s guess as to what I’ll fill them in with. We’ll see what I can find to add to the months of September, October, November, and December as the year progresses.

Cheers to a fun 2020!! What does 2020 have in store for you?!