2013 Had Ups and Downs

Like most years, 2013 was a roller coaster ride.  There were ups and downs.  Luckily I had more ups than downs 🙂

Let’s start with the lows, so I can end 2013 on a high note!!

Downs:

  • Superior Man Triathlon, August 25: DNF (Did Not Finish)
  • Grandpa died September 9 (just 6 days shy of turning 96 years young): While I am very sad that he is gone, I am happy that he lived such a monumental life and is now reunited and dancing with Grandma.
  • I fell into a mental slump after my DNF in August and really struggled to find self-control again.  Every workout I did was a challenge both physically and mentally and I lost focus for a while.
  • I injured my right shin after the Indianapolis Marathon and had to go though physical therapy.  As it turns out, it was caused by my back on my left side…go figure.
  • I got sick, strep throat, severe sinus infection and the beginning stages of pneumonia, in the middle of December (just before winter break).

Ups:

  • Bringing in the New Year with a New Year’s Day “5K” race
  • Little Rock Marathon, March 3: While this wasn’t a PR for me, I was very happy breaking the 4 hour barrier and had a fantabulous weekend with friends!!
  • Drake 1/2 Marathon, April 28:  While this wasn’t a PR for me, I did get to help a friend find the inner strength to push herself when it got challenging and finish the race.
  • Ironman Kansas 70.3, June 9:  I set a PR with a time of 6:05.53 (shaving 26.51 off this distance)
  • Lake Geode Olympic Distance Triathlon, July 13:  I set another PR with a time of 2:53.40 (shaving 11.46 off this distance)
  • Okoboji Triathlon, July 20:  Another PR with a time of 1:55.07 (shaving 3.00 off this odd distance triathlon)
  • Olympic Distance Triathlon Age Group Nationals, August 10:  I broke the PR I set at Lake Geode one month earlier and set a new PR with a time of 2:49.03 (shaving 4.37 off my Lake Geode time)
  • The Iron Hippie and I renovated our back yard…regrading the  slope of land, installing a new fence, putting in a fire pit with a small patio around it and seeding the lawn.  We still have some work to do, but the yard already looks 100% better than when we bought the house.
  • Signed up for Ironman Wisconsin 2014, September 9:  I will again be competing in Ironman Wisconsin on September 7, 2014.  I am excited to train and race at that level again!!
  • I was blessed to spend time with family (both immediate and extended) when we celebrated Grandpa’s life.
  • Indianapolis Marathon, October 19:  I ran my 2nd fastest marathon to date and finished in 3:56.42.  While I didn’t qualify for Boston like I originally hoped, I did execute a near perfect race given the circumstances of the day.
  • I was blessed to create MANY amazing memories with family and friends in 2013!!
  • Finished off they year happy, healthy and ready to start IRONMAN training 🙂
Successful 2013 = 6 medals and 1 trophy
Racing Success in 2013 = 6 medals and 1 trophy…I’m looking forward to many more “ups” in 2014!!!

What were some of your ups and downs of 2013?

My 12 Days of Christmas

I was inspired by Carrie Cheadle’s Facebook Post about giving yourself something to make you feel amazing for the 12 days of Christmas this year.   I decided to give myself a “gift” everyday during the 12 days of Christmas….some of these gifts were what Carrie suggested, while others where ones that I came up with on my own.  Each of these gifts is special to me…some of these gifts are very simple and most of them don’t cost even a penny, but they are all gifts we should consider giving ourselves everyday to remind ourselves just how special we truly are.

Day #1:  Write a mini love note to myself  IMG_2705

Day #2:  Gift of Time…30 minutes for just me 🙂

Taking 30 minutes to snuggle up under a cozy blanket with a good book and a cup of hot tea.
Taking 30 minutes to snuggle up under a cozy blanket with a good book and a cup of hot tea (in a mug I won as an award in 2004 at RCC Run the Woods).

Day #3:  Gift of Motivation…I decided to make a motivational collage and post it where I can see it daily.

I created a collage of motivational images
I created a collage of motivational images

Day #4:  Give myself a pat on the back…I don’t give myself enough credit most of the time for all that I do and how amazing I am.  I decided a good pat on the back was in order.

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Day #5: I gave myself a treat.  Something I didn’t have to share with anyone else…

Yes...a shower.  While this may seem to simple for most of you, I was incapacitated for a week due to a combination of strep throat, a severe sinus infection and pneumonia, so a shower felt truly amazing.  It was a small gift, but the best gift I could ask for at the time.
Yes…a shower. While this may seem too simple for most of you, I was incapacitated for a week due to a combination of strep throat, a severe sinus infection and pneumonia, so a shower felt truly amazing!! It was a small gift, but the best gift I could ask for at the time.

Day #6:  I gave myself an award.  Since I ended my 2013 triathlon season with a DNF, I decided with the New Year just around the corner that it is time to start mental training for 2014.

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Day #7: I gave myself a party…not the typical party with lots of people, food and drink, etc.  I gave myself a party with just me and my girls (Mya and Basil…our two black labs).  I played the song “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang, we danced, celebrated (both feeling better and the beginning of a 2 week winter break), smiled and had lots of fun!!

Basil dancing with me and celebrating!!
Basil dancing with me and celebrating!!

Day #8:  Gift of Knowledge…I purchased a book to help me learn how to perform better under pressure, tame the butterflies and overcome setbacks.  I am hoping to use these mental skills to help me perform consistently, remain confident when faced with challenges and successfully accomplish my goals both during training and on race day.

On Top of Your Game

Day #9:  Gift of Perspective…a list of gratitude.  I make a list of things I am thankful for every night before bed, but I decided to put a twist on this list…growth is a must for everything on this list.

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Day #10:  Gift of Encouragement…I wrote out 4 powerful and affirming statements and posted them where I will read them everyday between now and January 1, 2014.  The power of being who I want to be lies in my own thoughts.  Only I can change negative thoughts into positive beliefs.

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Day #11:  Gift of a Toast to Celebrate ME…”I proposed a toast to my strengths, my PRs in 2013, my commitments and dedication.”  I also “proposed a toast to the most relaxing Christmas ever” with the Iron Hippie.

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Toasting the Iron Hippie

Day #12: Gift of Relaxation…I started Christmas morning with 1 hour of hot yoga.  While this is typically in my weekly workout routine, I haven’t been able to workout for the last two weeks due to illness.  I decided that this would be a perfect gift for Christmas Day.

Starting Christmas Day focusing on Mind, Body and Soul...PERFECT!!
Starting Christmas Day focusing on Mind, Body and Soul…PERFECT!!

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

DNF…Did Not Finish or DID NOT FAIL?!?!?!

I was superiorly excited (ha ha ha) going into my last triathlon of the season…Superior Man Triathlon…Sunday, August 25, 2013!!  I had a great triathlon season, setting many PRs and was physically and mentally ready to set another one in Duluth for the half Ironman distance!!  I was determined to have a great race and not going to let the ghosts of Lake Superior haunt me…

I woke up on race morning at 3:30 am, ate my standard pre-race breakfast, changed into my tri kit, grabbed my transition bag and headed out the door for the DECC.  When I arrived at the transition area at 4:30 am, it was already very warm, humid and windy.  With these conditions, I knew I would have to adjust my race goals and expectations for the day.

I set up my transition area, relaxed by the water and at 5:45 am I boarded the boat to haul me out into Lake Superior where I would begin what would turn out to be a very challenging day.

The Vista Fleet took the athletes out into Lake Superior where we would embark on a day when Mother Nature woke up with a very bad attitude.
The Vista Fleet took the athletes out into Lake Superior where we would embark on a day when Mother Nature woke up with a very bad attitude.

While on The Vista Fleet, we donned our wetsuits, listened to the announcements regarding the swim course and mentally prepared ourselves to jump into ~60 degree water.  At approximately 6:30 am the boat stopped, we lined up and jumped off of the boat two at a time (one from each side of the boat) every 4 seconds.

A random athlete jumping from The Vista Fleet into Lake Superior.
A random athlete jumping from The Vista Fleet into Lake Superior.

Upon jumping into the water, I had an instant headache due to the cold water temperatures.  I took a few seconds to acclimate to the water and then began swimming.  With the winds in the mid to upper teens, the water was a little bit choppy, but not unbearable.  About every 3-5 breaths, I would end up with a mouth full of water instead of air, but I didn’t let this cause me to panic…”Just keep swimming.  Just keep swimming.”  Heading north toward the first turn buoy went by very quickly.  When I turned around the north buoys headed back south, it was obvious the winds were picking up and it took more effort to swim against the wind and water current.  I ended up taking in just about as much water as I took in air throughout the swim…this would come back to haunt me later…those darn ghosts…

My husband was able to take pictures of me swimming as I neared the swim exit.
My husband was able to take pictures of me swimming as I neared the swim exit.

I exited the 1.2 mile swim in 45:51, which was a 2:03/100 yard average.  While this was definitely not my fastest swim, I was ok with this time considering the rough waters and strong current.  As I climbed the ladder out of the water, my left calf cramped and I had to try to shake it off while I kept moving forward.  I felt light headed as I came into transition, but I attributed that to the rough swim.  I took my time transitioning to my bike.  Duluth was under a heat advisory, so I knew I would need to make sure I had enough water and electrolytes on the bike.  T1 took me 4:35…and then the fun began…

Exiting T1, hopping on my bike and ready to take on the 56 mile bike ride.
Exiting T1, hopping on my bike and ready to take on the challenging 56 mile bike ride.

I knew there was quite a tailwind on the way north to Two Harbors.  I wanted to take advantage of this tailwind, but not tax myself too much since I knew I would be turning around and heading right back into those winds.  I felt my stomach cramping a bit at about the one hour mark, but I just kept drinking my water…I made it to the turn around and immediately felt that headwind.  This was the start of what would be a VERY long ride back into town.  Remember that lake water I drank while swimming ?!?!?!?!?  Well, it was about to come back to haunt me…About 2 miles after the turn around, I crossed the railroad tracks and immediately projectile vomited all of the liquids I had in my gut out into the open air.  With those strong headwinds, I was grateful that I had turned my head ever so slightly to avoid having it come back into my face.  This very well could be one of the reasons they don’t allow drafting on the bike during a triathlon.  I’m very sorry to whomever may have been behind me (if anyone was) that got a face full…With 22 mph headwinds, I continued to push forward and make my way back to Duluth.  I tried to take in my fluids and even an oreo cookie (which is usually a great fueling source for me on the bike…not today), but it all came back up…projectile vomit #2 happened at about mile 40 (just shortly after the water exchange) and #3 happened right before I entered back into town (Lemon Drop hill area for those of you familiar with the Grandma’s Marathon course).  I finished the 56 mile bike in 3:22:38 with an average of 16.6 mph.  As I entered transition, I told my husband to call Coach and ask her if I should even attempt the run…

Dismounting the bike at T2
Dismounting the bike at T2

When I exited T2 2:54 later, I was advised to try the run and if by mile 3 or 4 I wasn’t getting better, I was to call it a day.  I began the run having a serious conversation with myself…”You are strong.  You are tough.  You can and will overcome this.  Body…just suck it up!!”  I also started to play a little Jason Alden in my brain…”Straight ahead, never turn ’round…Don’t back up, Don’t back down…Full throttle, wide open…When you get tired and you don’t show it…Dig a little deeper when you think you can’t dig no more…That’s the only way I know…”

With VERY limited shade on the run course and the heat index nearing 99 degrees, I was starting to feel the effects of not only Mother Nature, but also the lack of hydration and fuel that my body had so “pleasantly” decided to discard on the bike ride.  By mile 3, I was walking like a staggering drunk and the volunteers were asking me if I was alright.  One volunteer even asked me if he could open my Honey Stingers for me.  I kept drinking water and putting ice in places most people would never want to carry ice…running was no longer even an option 😦  It took me approximately 1:20:00 to cover just over 5 miles and I knew if I were to finish I would have to walk the last 8 miles.  I knew I would be out in this “hell” that Mother Nature had decided to descend upon us for another 2+ hours and my body would continue to suffer for it.  With a marathon only 8 weeks away, I made the gut wrenching decision to pull the plug and call it a day.  My first (and hopefully my last) DNF…those darn ghosts…

I prefer to look at is a Did Not Fail rather than a Did Not Finish…while it was a very crappy day, I can positively say…at least I didn’t crap myself 🙂

While my body got the better of me Sunday, my mind is strong.  I am focused, I am strong and I am a tough cookie!!  I will continue to push my limits and I will persevere!!  My mother said it best…”There are other races, but there is only one body.”  That mother of mine…she’s a very wise woman 🙂