Best Race Memories

This Sunday marks the 10 year anniversary of my first race.  I have raced hundreds of races ranging in distance from 5K to marathon and sprint triathlon to Ironman over the last 10 years.  I decided to take a minute and share with you my top 10 race memories.

10.  Crossing the finish line at the Run for the Roses 5K in 2004.  This was my first race and I was unsure if I would actually survive the short 3.1 mile distance.  It is fun to look back and see how far my training, racing and mental fortitude have come in the last 10 years.

9.  Crossing the finish line at the Dam to Dam 20K in 2005.  This was the farthest I had ever pushed myself.  I had no idea where I would go with endurance sport, but when I crossed this finish line, I was hooked…I found my passion.

8.  Crossing the finish line at the Chicago Marathon in 2005…my first marathon.  I had just conquered something I would have never suspected that I could or would ever do.

7.  Crossing the finish line at the Copper Creek Sprint Triathlon in 2009.  This was my first triathlon and I had found a new passion….I could combine my love of swimming, cycling and running and still challenge myself in endurance sport.

Copper Creek Run

6.  Crossing the finish line at Ironman Kansas 70.3 in 2010…my first 70.3 triathlon.  I had found my favorite triathlon distance!!  I love triathlon and this distance was far enough that I had to train for it, but short enough that it didn’t consume all of my spare time.  I LOVED meeting Chrissie Wellington for the first time after I finished as well…

Chrissie and Me IM Kansas 70.3

5.  Crossing the finish line at Ironman Kansas 70.3 2013 in 6:05:53…I set a new PR by 26:51.  WOW!!  I was super pumped to be so close to breaking the 6 hour barrier for the 1/2 Ironman distance.  I’ve got my eyes set on breaking the 6 hour barrier…

Finishers medal around my neck!!  70.3 miles in 6:05:53...that is nearly a 27 minute PR!!
Finishers medal around my neck!! 70.3 miles in 6:05:53…that is nearly a 27 minute PR!!

4.  Crossing the finish line at the USA Triathlon Olympic-Distance Age Group National Championships in 2013.  Not only did I set a new PR, but I had a blast and got to meet Sister Madonna Buder on the course.  She is such an inspiration!!

Getting my medal and a hug from Chrissie Wellington at the finish line of USA Triathlon Olympic-distance Age Group National Championships.
Getting my medal and a hug from Chrissie Wellington at the finish line of USA Triathlon Olympic-distance Age Group National Championships.

3.  Crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon was so much fun.  I had worked so hard to get to Boston that running it for fun was definitely the best reward.

I made it...the finish line of the Boston Marathon :)
I made it…the finish line of the Boston Marathon 🙂  The view from my camera that I took pictures from all day long.

2.  Crossing the finish line at the Lakefront Milwaukee Marathon in 2008.  I qualified for the Boston Marathon with 1:13 to spare…YIPPEE!! 🙂

1.  Crossing the finish line at Ironman Wisconsin 2014 after overcoming obstacles earlier in the day.  The fact that I did not remember crossing the finish line in 2011 made this finish so much more rewarding 🙂

Yahoo!!  Photo courtesy of Finisherpix.
Yahoo!! Photo courtesy of Finisherpix.

What are some of your best racing memories?

How has exercise evolved, challenged and gifted your life?

I recently was reminded of how exercise has evolved, challenged and gifted my life…

For me, it all started in the fall of 2004…I decided to take control of my life and stop letting my life take control of me.  As a result I decided to try some new adventures…one of which was RUNNING!!  It wasn’t easy to start running.  As a matter of fact, it was very challenging at times, but I decided I was going to run a 5K in October of 2004…  My patience, persistence, perseverance and passion superceded the occasional exhaustion, sore muscles, or lack of motivation to get out the door.  After having recently gone through a divorce, running became my therapy.  I found new friends and discovered a gift that just keeps giving!!

Running is a gift

I finished that 5K and caught a virus…the RUNNING VIRUS!!!  I decided that my 5K run could be improved upon…by going farther and faster.  Next came a different kind of challenge…a local 7 mile off road race in November of 2004.  Shortly after the start of 2005, I decided I would sign up to train for a local 20K race (Dam to Dam) with the City of Ames Parks and Rec Program…Team 12.4.  This experience presented its own challenges and completely changed my life!!  I met some AMAZING friends, pushed my body to new limits and eventually found the love of my life!!

After completing the Dam to Dam 20K race in June of 2005, my running virus got more infectious!!  I decided to further challenge myself by signing up for a marathon and joined the training group through the City of Ames Parks and Rec for the marathon training program.  In October of 2005 many of the runners in our training group celebrated by running the Chicago Marathon.  After our celebration, we decided we didn’t want to see our running group break up, so we all played a role in the birth of TEAM VARDO…the BEST running group ever!!

The BEST running group EVER!!
The BEST running group EVER!!

Screen shot 2013-03-28 at 11.12.10 AM

The following spring (spring of 2006), I was training for Grandma’s Marathon with the Team Vardo runners when a handsome gent started running with Team 12.4 to train for Dam to Dam.  After completing Dam to Dam in 2006, he decided to start running with Team Vardo…boy was I lucky!!  Not only would I get to meet him and run with him, but I was lucky enough to fall in love with and eventually marry this handsome gent!!

My running virus evolved into a full-fledged, exercise virus as I started to incorporate strength training into my workout regimen.  My exercise virus continued to get more and more infectious…it took me to new distances and pushed me to get faster.  To see evidence of this, check out my Race Log.

Through the course of time my exercise virus continued to become even MORE infectious as I went from just running and strength training to becoming a triathlete.  In September of 2011 my husband and I finished Ironman Wisconsin…Together.  That was the biggest exercise challenge yet!!

My husband and I right after finishing Ironman Wisconsin 2011.  What a long day :)
My husband and I right after finishing Ironman Wisconsin 2011. What a long day 🙂

What more does exercise have in store for me?????  Only time will tell!!

How has exercise evolved, challenged and gifted your life???