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?!

The Best of 2019

I love looking back and thinking about all of the amazing things that I’ve accomplished and all of the challenges I’ve overcome! 2019 was full of opportunities to #explore, challenges to overcome, accomplishments to enjoy, and SO MUCH FUN!! I’ve reflected for the last 6 years and now it’s time to reflect on 2019! 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, and the Best of 2018. Now its time to reminisce my faves from 2019! 🙂

Best race experience?

Bluff Creek Triathlon where I competed with my girl, Traci, and had an absolute blast! We started the swim together. I waited for her in T1 and then followed her on the bike (don’t worry…I followed the drafting rules and rode far enough back). We had a mechanical issue on the bike, but we made it back to T2 and headed out on the run. Despite the mechanical, Traci had a PR! It was so much fun to cheer her on and encourage her every stroke and step of the way!

“Smile for the camera, Traci!”
Photo Credit: Dave Mable

Best run?

St. Paddy’s Day 1/2 Marathon in March was SO. MUCH. FUN! Not only was I prepared for it physically and mentally, but I was able to race it and come within 3 minutes of a 1/2 marathon PR. Oh…and did I mention that I walked away with not 1, but 2 medals for that race?!

Double medal race day at the St. Paddy’s 1/2 Marathon where I got 2nd place in my age group!

Best bike?

Riding with my fave from Iowa to Minnesota and back to Iowa! I absolutely love this route and the company! Any chance I get, I ride this route from Home Home!

Riding with my fave on one of my favorite routes brings me pure joy! I am in Minnesota and he is in Iowa in this picture.

Best swim?

Swimming in Mirror Lake for IRONMAN Lake Placid was my best IM swim to date! Swimming with the underwater cable to sight off of created an exceptional swim experience and allowed me to set an IRONMAN swim PR!! I was super pumped about it too!!

That’s a swim PR! Photo credit: FinisherPix

Best finish line?

IRONMAN Lake Placid! This was a very special finish line! It wasn’t planned for the Iron Hippie and I to finish together, but half way through the bike portion of this race, I made it my mission to catch him and finish with him. It was a long marathon, but we made it to the finish line TOGETHER!

Grateful for this finish line with my Fave by my side! Photo credit: FinisherPix

Best training weekend?

Getting to train in Lake Placid with my fave before IRONMAN Lake Placid! We swam in Mirror Lake multiple times, rode one loop of the bike course, ran a good portion of one loop of the run course, and experienced Lake Placid! OH. SO. MUCH. FUN!!

Swimming in my favorite place makes my heart happy!

So grateful to ride the Ironman Lake Placid bike course with my fave!

Wrapping up my last “long” run in Lake Placid on the Ironman Lake Placid run course. So beautiful!!

Best training compass?

Myself! At different times in 2019 I was in the deepest valleys and on top of the highest mountains…I had some really high highs and some really low lows! Listening to my heart and allowing it to guide me in 2019 opened the door to so much more fun, joy, and “get to” experiences! I can’t wait to see where I take myself in 2020!

“Follow your heart. Life is too short to be sidetracked by the things everyone else wants you to do.” ~Unknown
My heart speaks swim/bike/run! It brings me calm, it brings me joy, it builds self confidence, it often teaches me something new, it breeds discipline, it connects me with others, it forces me to be more courageous, it allows me the freedom to mess up & still end up ok, it provides me an outlet, it makes me stronger – physically and mentally, it fills me with gratitude, and SO much more! What does your heart say?! Do you listen?!

Best moment out of my comfort zone?

The Underpants Run at IRONMAN Lake Placid! This was so much fun, but I was way out of my comfort zone! Who runs in a swimsuit (or underpants) down main street exposing their flaws for all of the world to see?! Apparently a lot of crazy people!!

Having fun running down Main Street Lake Placid

Best enCOEURaging moment?

The inaugural Ames Triathlon! It has been many years in the making, but we FINALLY got the approval for the Ames Triathlon in March of 2019 and within a few months were able to pull off the best race we could have asked for! If you want to experience this race for yourself in 2020, head to Ames in June. We look forward to seeing YOU on June 28!

We had a great day at the Ames Triathlon and couldn’t have done it without all of you…the athletes, volunteers, spectators, other race directors, sponsors, partners, medical support, photographers…YOU!!

Best nutritional find?

Orange Mud double barrel pack for carrying my hydration + nutrition is the best way I’ve found to carry enough nutrition on long runs without having to really plan my route to make sure I get enough hydration on those hot days. I was worried that it might chafe me in various places, but alas…15 miles with ZERO chafing!

Intention: Gratitude
15 miles for my Friday happy hour in 30+ mph winds. Some of my gratitude thoughts while running:
*I’m grateful for a strong body + mind.
*I’m grateful for warm temps + sunshine.
*I’m grateful for completely new running routes.
*I’m grateful for a job that I love.
*I’m grateful for Halloween decorations to keep me entertained.
*I’m grateful to have my long run done before the rain shows up this weekend.
*I’m grateful for the beautiful fall colors.
*I’m grateful for this Orange Mud pack to hold all my hydration + nutrition and so much more!

Best new gear?

Coeur Sports running shorts and 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!!

Intention: I get to
It isn’t always easy. Mother Nature threw down some 38-40*F temps, rain, and winds (hello IMLou 2018 weather). She likes to think that she holds the power, BUT SHE’S WRONG! I hold the power when I keep the mental chatter positive!

Best recovery tool?

Our Sleep Number bed! This has made a world of difference! I sleep so much better and I wake up without back pain. If you aren’t getting good quality sleep, you are compromising your health. I highly recommend the Sleep Number bed. It is definitely worth the investment!

Basil loves our new bed too!!

Best time saver?

The Roomba! I can do one of at least a 1000 other possible things while the Roomba vacuums the house. The dogs aren’t too keen on it when it appears to be chasing them around the house, but they are adjusting to it and try to stay out of its way while it does its thing!

Basil is checking out the Roomba. Each day she gets less and less afraid of it.

Best supportive role?

Heading to IRONMAN Louisville to cheer athletes on instead of racing myself. This was a REALLY TOUGH decision, but it was the right one. The weekend was full of laughter, fun, and friends! It was EXACTLY what I needed to help me figure out what I want from this sport and where I want to go with it in the future!

Ironman Louisville from a new perspective. What a fun day! Congrats Rob on your amazing race!

Best way to stay healthy?

Change careers! My mental stress has dropped SUBSTANTIALLY and I am no longer exposed to all of the germs from middle schoolers. Sure I am still exposed to germs at Iowa State University, but I’m not confined to a classroom and I’m not around the students much. Changing careers has been one of the best decisions for my overall health that I could have ever made!

So grateful to be starting my new gig in Physics Hall on ISU campus!!

Best piece of racing advice you received?

Have fun! I’ve heard this from so many different people, that I can’t pinpoint just one individual to give credit to. If we can’t have fun racing, then why are we doing it?!

Most inspirational athlete?

There are so many that I can’t pick just one! Everyone is on their own, unique journey and I am inspired by them all. My Coeur Sports sisters inspire me EVERY. SINGLE. DAY! I’ve also been SUPER inspired this year by friends who finished their first IRONMAN. By friends who attempted their first IRONMAN, but didn’t meet cutoffs. By friends who did their first triathlon this year. By people who have survived an accident and are still training + racing. By people who fight disease and keep training + racing. By people who challenge themselves and try something new. By people who don’t follow conventional training methods and SMASH their goals out of the park! By people I haven’t met yet and people I see everyday! There are far too many people who inspire me to pick just one!

Best support crew?

Hands down…Dad, Aunt Linda, Cousin Neal, and a dear friend Carol! These four pushed me through during some VERY dark times at Ironman Lake Placid. They were up EARLY on race morning. They cheered, photographed, and spread their love to me and so many other athletes throughout a REALLY long day! There are not enough hugs and kisses for each of you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Love you all so much! I couldn’t have gotten to this finish line without your unwavering encouragement and support!!

Our race day support crew! Love you Dad, Aunt Linda, and Cousin Neal! Photo credit: Neal Fedora

Grateful for Carol! Love her to pieces!

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

Explore, strong, courage, brave, fun!!

Tell me about your 2019 year!! What are your “bests” from 2019?!

Slip slidin’ away at the Hillbilly Hike 1/2 Marathon

Saturday morning I ran the Hillbilly Hike 1/2 Marathon. Going into this race, I wasn’t sure if I was going to race it, or run with my friend. I decided to let my legs tell me how to run on race morning.

The 1/2 marathon is a point to point race. The race provides you with the option to take the shuttle bus (aka school bus) from the finish line to the start line. Thankfully the Iron Hippie said he would drive us to the start since he wasn’t racing. It was nice to be in the warm car right up until the race start since the wind chill temps were right at 20*F. We exited the car right before the national anthem, lined up at the start, and waited for the start (which was someone yelling “GO!” without any means of projecting their voice).

Ready to run this 1/2 marathon! Photo credit: my fave

Robin and I are ready to do this thang!! Photo credit: Robin (selfie)

I had decided that my intention for this race was going to be gratitude…after all, this was the first of November and there is SO much to be thankful for! The first mile was on the roads in Indianola and wasn’t bad, but once we got on the paved trail that goes from Indianola to Carlisle we quickly noticed that the footing wasn’t good. Cue Paul Simon “Slip Slidin’ Away”…

So grateful that my fave brought our girls out to cheer us on at the Hillbilly Hike 1/2 marathon! Sorry Basil, no dogs allowed at this race. Photo credit: my fave

The trail was completely frost covered with patches of ice (thank you Mother Nature for the rain on Friday that froze over night). I was feeling good and my legs were ready to GO, so I decided to see what they had in them and kept my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t fall on the slick running surfaces.

Running with Robin just past mile 1 as we entered the trail! You can see the frost on the pavement. Photo credit: my fave

Shortly after mile 2, I decided to start running on the shoulder of the trail (which had turned into an uneven rocky surface) because I noticed I was really changing my gait on the slick trail surface. I figured the uneven rocky shoulder would be better for traction. And it was, buuuutttttt it definitely drained the energy tank and now my gait had changed for a completely different reason. I decided to pop back up on the trail when I could (if I noticed short sections where it appeared to have less frost on the trail).

Just past mile 6…you can still see the frost on the pavement. Photo credit: my fave

For the next 9 miles, I was like a rabbit hopping on and off the trail depending on the surface. It was frustrating, but I kept my intention in mind and reminded myself that I GET TO DO THIS!! There are so many things to be grateful for! I’m grateful the sun is shining. I’m grateful that my fave and the girls are cheering me on. I GET TO DO THIS! I’m grateful Basil isn’t running with me to reduce my risk of falling. I’m grateful that I haven’t fallen. I GET TO DO THIS! I’m grateful for the volunteers out here (freezing) handing out water to us. I’m grateful for the small patches of frost-free surfaces. I GET TO DO THIS! I’m grateful for less wind than I thought there was supposed to be. I’m grateful that my body is strong. I GET TO DO THIS!

SO SLICK, but still smilin’! Photo credit: Kathy Shupe King

Focusing on the beautiful fall foliage and not the slick surfaces. Photo credit: Kathy Shupe King

That sun needs to rise a bit higher to melt this frost. Look at those fall colors! Beautiful! Photo credit: Kathy Shupe King

The surfaces were REALLY slick between miles 6.8 and 8.2 where we had an out and back section (in the pictures above). When we went around the turn around cone, I literally came to a stop to avoid falling. It was SO SLICK!! They had volunteers at this location telling people it was slick and taking pics…I wonder how many people went *slip slidin’ away* around this cone?!

Approaching the cone to turn around with black ice and frosty surfaces. Photo credit: David Pullara

By mile 11, the sun had gotten high enough that most of frost had melted and the surfaces were much better for running. The only slick spots now were in the shadows. By this point, I had spent most of my energy battling those slick surfaces and uneven shoulders in the first 11 miles of the race, so this is where the mental focus was most necessary. I reminded myself to hold on and give it all I had left in the tank.

I’m so grateful for a strong body + mind so I can do what I love! Photo credit: Terry Kruse

As I approached the finish line, I gave one last shout out of gratitude to my strong body + mind for allowing me to do what I love!

I was very happy with my paces throughout this run as the pavement was frost + ice covered for the first 11 miles, which made running with my normal gait impossible. I ran on the uneven shoulder for the majority of the first 10 miles, which also did a number on my pacing for the later miles.

Another Hillbilly Hike 1/2 marathon is in the books! Photo credit: my fave

So grateful this girl loves to do running adventures with me! Photo credit: my fave

These two were SO happy to see me when I was done running!! Basil was hoping I’d take her for a few extra miles. Sorry girl…not today. Photo credit: my fave

What a goofy, but fun medal!!

I’ll definitely be back to do this race again! It is super F-L-A-T! I’m hoping next year we won’t be *slip slidin’ away* and we’ll have perfect fall running conditions!

Racing with patience

We take a break from the Ironman Lake Placid training for a 1/2 marathon race report…

Saturday was my 7th time running the Drake 1/2 marathon. It is typically cold and rainy, which only adds to the “fun” of the nearly 2000 feet of climbing across the 13.1 miles. This year was different, VERY different!! We had sun, little wind, and perfect running conditions!! IT WAS BEAUTIFUL!!

Before the race, I met up with two of my Coeur sisters. Hugs were the perfect way to start the day!! ❤️

Pre race hugs with my Coeur sisters!!

Coeur sisters and our amazing cheer squad!!

I lined up before the 2:00 pacer and behind the 1:45 pacer. I was hoping to finish around 1:50. Coach Kelly gave me the following race strategy, “Miles 1-4 settle in to the right effort. Miles 5-8 is about patience. Miles 9-10 is about extreme mental toughness. Miles 11-13 final chance to RUN hard! Last 0.1 celebrate!”

Trying to smile through the grit.

During the first 3 miles, I was trying to hold back and not push too hard because I knew that miles 3.5-7 are generally all uphill. I continually reminded myself to be patient through about mile 8. “Be patient. Be patient. Be patient.”

Be patient. Keep your focus. Be patient.

The hills. GAH!! They are relentless. At mile 9, I knew I had another decent size hill to climb, so I put my head down and climbed my way to the top. Stay mentally strong!

Just keep climbing!!

It was at the top of the hill at mile 9, that a spectator said, “No more hills to climb!” I mumbled under my breath, “Yeah right! I know better.” One of the other participants heard me and asked if we were really done with hills…nope…not even close. There are lots of rollers during the last 4 miles of the race.

Just put one foot in front of the other…

At about mile 11 a friend passed me and I was determined to keep her in my view for the last 2 miles. It was a challenge, but she was a good carrot to have. Run hard!!

Keep the focus and finish STRONG!! Last 0.1 mile sprint…errr… celebrate!!

Official finish time: 1:53:13 (8:39 min/mile average pace), 13 of 66 F40-44, 100 of 606 women, and 405 of 1292 overall

Overall, I am happy with my performance for this day. Sure I wish my finish time would have been faster, but I feel I did a much better job of executing this race than my 1/2 marathon a few weeks ago. I was able to generally negative split this run, keep my mental focus, and not walk up the hills (I struggled with that last year). I am pleased with the outcome and my fitness level.

Photo bomb!!

3 cheers for 3 Drake 1/2 marathon finishers!!

Celebrating by riding the Drake Bulldog!!

Let the Ironman Lake Placid training continue…