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?!

#explore Ironman Lake Placid race report

“Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything that it is.” ~Mandy Hale

I’m not really sure where to begin with this…the beginning, middle, or end. I guess it depends on what you want to hear, so the beginning is where I’ll begin. If you want the cliff notes version, skip to the end 😉

My focus word for 2019 is EXPLORE and when I picked this word, I had NO idea just where it would take me, but I’m so grateful for the journey it has taken me on this year. If you’ve been following my blog, EXPLORE is definitely the perfect word for my 2019 journey. I have changed careers, had some tough conversations with those that I love which has brought me so much freedom + space, and have created lots of amazing memories. Ironman Lake Placid did not disappoint as I #explored and #discovered so much about who I am and who I want to be to live my absolute best life.

Putting on the wetsuits! Photo credit: Neal Fedora
Ready for a big day! Photo credit: Neal Fedora
Love this man! So glad I get to do life with him by my side! Photo credit: Neal Fedora

Swim: 1:16:52 (1:59/100 m or 1:48/100 yards) PR

This sea of athletes is race ready!

The Iron Hippie and I lined up just behind the 1:21-1:30 finish time. As we approached the shore, the pro men were coming out of the water finishing their first 1.2 mile loop and heading back out for loop #2. When I crossed the starting mat, I had open water and was in very little contact with other swimmers during the first loop. I came out of the water right where I was aiming for at the end of my first loop.

Swim loop #1 complete! Photo credit: FinisherPix

As I entered the water for loop #2, I encountered a bit more physical contact in the water, so I made my way to the inside of the buoys where the water was much cleaner. I went outside of the two turn buoys on the far end of the course, and then back to the inside line for my return back to the shore. With the underwater cable, this was perfect for sighting and swimming a straight line! My second loop was a tad bit slower than I was aiming for, but with more physical contact on the second loop, I had to fight more to get around slower people in front of me.

That’s a swim PR! Photo credit: FinisherPix

T1: 8:05

As I entered the transition area, I saw a social media friend! Erin and I quickly exchanged hugs before heading into the change tent. Thank you for lifting me up in that moment Erin! ❤ I flew solo in the change tent as the volunteers were all helping other ladies. I briefly struggled getting my aero top on over my wet body, but quickly made my way to Mojo so we could head out on the bike and start our 112 mile journey.

Done with the swim! Photo credit: Neal Fedora

Bike: 7:48:38 (average speed = 14.34 mph)

This is the place where things changed. Not only did my legs feel like lead from the start, but my mind went back to those tough conversations and the freedom + space I’ve gained through having those conversations. When you ride 112 miles, it gives you A LOT of time to think, process your thoughts, and make sense of your true feelings. I asked myself multiple times “why” am I doing this? Not the superficial why, but the deep down to the depths of your soul why. I knew my superficial why, but this was not the answer I was truly seeking on this day. Ironman finds a way of stripping you down to nothing, exposing your true self, and helping you discover who you really are on a daily basis. As I was being stripped down to nothing during the 112 mile bike portion of the race, I came to the revelation that I have been using Ironman training and racing (and marathon training/racing before that) as a coping mechanism. Taking all of the negative energy I have been holding on to for 35+ years and putting that negative energy into something I could control. Something that gave me my power back. Something that taught me I am worth so much more than I have given myself credit for. Something that has taught me to believe in myself. Something that has taught me to obliterate self doubt that has been holding me back…not just in my athletic endeavors, but in all areas of my life. Something that has given me a gift…the gift to figure out who I am and who I want to be.

Out on loop #1 of the bike! Photo credit: FinisherPix

At about mile 50, the Iron Hippie went by me on the bike. By this point, I had already decided that I was going to pull out of the race at mile 56 when I got back into town. I had nothing left to prove; I realized I was racing Ironman and chasing someone else’s dreams for all the wrong reasons. Using it as a way to channel the negative energy that I no longer truly possessed was not the reason I wanted to be racing Ironman. The first 50 miles allowed me to open my eyes and heart. Racing Ironman distance triathlon is not something I truly want to do when it perpetuates those negative feelings. It is time to let go of the hurt and negativity. I knew I wanted to support the Iron Hippie and do whatever I could to ensure he had the best race possible and finished strong. His journey to the start line of Ironman Lake Placid has been less than ideal. I was planning to put my bike back in transition, turn in my chip, change clothes, and cheer him on from the sidelines. In those last 6 miles of the first loop on the bike before returning to town, I came to the realization that I needed to keep going so that I could finish with him and support him while being beside him. I knew I could catch him on the run as his longest run prior to this race was 10 miles (running 5 minutes/walking 1 minute) one week before the race due to having his knee scoped in February.

Finishing loop #1 of the bike! Photo credit: FinisherPix

So, I came into town, swapped out my bike bottles at special needs and headed out for loop #2. I felt so relieved knowing that this race was my Ironman swan song centered around negative energy and would no longer be used as a coping mechanism. I decided in those moments wasn’t going to do another Ironman unless I one day found a joyful, positive reason for doing it. I knew deep down to the depths of my soul that I really didn’t want to do another Ironman for all of the wrong reasons and this was my last one for all the wrong reasons. I kept pushing forward (even through the 10 minute heavy down pour). As I came back to town, the crowds carried us up the bears and into transition.

Finishing loop #2 of the bike! Photo credit: FinisherPix

T2: 7:49

I handed off Mojo to a volunteer (these volunteers are truly amazing!), grabbed my run bag and headed to the change tent where I again flew solo because all of the volunteers were helping other athletes.

Run: 6:17:00 (14:23/mile)

As I left T2, I saw our friend Carol and she told me the Iron Hippie was only 4 minutes ahead of me on the run. I talked with her for a few minutes telling her about the revelations I came to on the bike and then hunted down my fave!

Chasing down my fave! I see him! Photo credit: FinisherPix

I caught him between mile 2 and mile 3 of the run. As we continued to run/walk for a bit, I told him about everything I was thinking, the relief I was feeling about not doing another Ironman for all of the wrong reasons, and how I wanted to support him in whatever future races and adventures he decided to do. We saw lots of friends and family as we continued to make forward progress.

Not feeling it on the run. Photo Credit: Amy Farrell
Ready to conquer run loop #2. Photo Credit: Amy Farrell

As our run/walk became more of a walk, we talked about so many things. It was so nice to have this time together.

On the last loop of the run! Photo credit: FinisherPix

Finish: 15:38:24

Ironman Lake Placid was my Ironman swan song centered around negative energy and for all the wrong reasons. Maybe someday I will do another Ironman, but it has to be centered around joy positive energy, and for all of the right reasons. This is not letting go of a dream, but having the courage to let go of past demons and start on a new path where I follow my heart and live more freely. As I close this chapter of my life I am grateful for the freedom + space it has provided me and the lessons it has taught me. I’m not sure what the next chapter has in store for me, but I know it will still include swim/bike/run as I strive to find a better balance. I have learned lessons that have shaped me and will continue to do so in the future, and I am so grateful for every moment. I feel relieved. I will continue to be a part of Ironman as a volunteer and spectator. I love giving back to others, supporting them on their journey, and watching them cross the finish line. Ironman Lake Placid gave me a gift! It gave me the feeling of freedom! It gave me the awareness + focus to discover myself anew! It gave me an opportunity to recreate my “why”! It opened my eyes + heart, teaching me that it is time to live my life instead of survive it!

So glad to see Moira and Mike at the finish line! Photo credit: FinisherPix
Grateful for this finish line with my Fave by my side! Photo credit: FinisherPix

Grateful Heart!

I couldn’t have gotten where I am without help and support from others. It takes a village and I am so grateful to have an amazing village supporting me!

  • To my Coeur Sports family for their amazing support and for creating top of the line kits + gear!
  • To Sound Probiotics for keeping me healthy and ready to tackle everything that came my way.
  • To SBR Sports, Inc. for the best anti-chaffing lube on the market!
  • To Nick at Vitality Massage for helping to keep my body physically read to handle the next challenge.
  • To Chris with Team Chiropractic for helping to “fix” all of the nagging aches and pains; preventing them from turning into injuries.
  • To Coach Kelly with Ever Racing for customizing my plan and helping me become the fittest and strongest version of myself.
  • To my Dad, Aunt Linda, and Cousin Neal for making the trip to Lake Placid to cheer us on and photograph the day.

    Our race day support crew! Love you Dad, Aunt Linda, and Cousin Neal! Photo credit: Neal Fedora
  • To my parents for their unwavering love and support in life and sport. I love you both more than you can possibly know.
  • To my Fave for always being by my side through the easy + challenging times; encouraging me, supporting me, and always helping me become the best version of myself. I love you to infinity and beyond!

    I am SO proud of the Iron Hippie for his accomplishments this racing season! He overcame so many challenges to get to this finish line! Photo credit: FinisherPix

Stronger + Fitter for IMLP

I have to be honest, when the Iron Hippie decided he wanted to do Ironman Lake Placid for his 40th birthday, I had SERIOUS apprehension and self-doubt when pressing that registration button. I thought back to riding one loop of the bike course with the Iron Hippie in 2017 and thinking this was one of the most challenging rides I had ever done. How on Earth could people do this twice + follow it up with a marathon?! Could I REALLY do this?! There is over 8000 feet of climbing over 112 miles on the bike. Are you kidding me?!

Nothing better than 2 wheels and fresh mountain air!!

That apprehension and self-doubt plagued me until we rode 45 miles of the bike course (just shy of 1 full loop) last Thursday. Thankfully riding 45 miles of the bike course about 10 days before race day helped ease the apprehension and quell the self-doubt. Not only did I have LOADS of FUN, but I kept thinking, “This is so much easier than I remember!”

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

That does NOT mean this course is easy, but it wouldn’t be an Ironman if it was easy. It does NOT mean anything can’t happen on race day, I am well aware anything can happen on race day. It DOES mean that I am stronger + fitter than I was in 2017! It DOES mean I am more confident in my abilities and training than I was last week! It DOES mean that I am race ready! It DOES mean that I am going to have as much fun as possible on Sunday!

Life on 2 wheels in the mountains brings me pure joy!

And a HUGE shout out to the Iron Hippie as he celebrates turning the big 4-0 today! I am so lucky to be on this journey with him!

A day in the life during peak training…

I was inspired by Steena to share how I find/make the training/work/life balance work…especially as we are in peak IM training these next few weeks. This is what last Thursday looked like for me:

4:00 am – alarm (roll over and grab my phone to input my HRV data)
4:03 am – hit the mats in the basement for 10 minutes of core strength followed by 3 minutes of meditation and some stretching
4:25 am – brush my teeth, change into my swim gear, grab my swim bag + smoothie from the fridge (we make our smoothies the night before so we can grab and go)
4:40 am – leave the house for the gym
4:55 am – walk into the gym (the awesome lady working the desk opened 5 minutes early this morning)
5:00 am – start swimming
6:00 am – finish swimming and drive back home while drinking my smoothie on the road
6:20 am – unpack swim bag, shower, pack lunch, feed dogs, take them potty, load all of the bags in the car
7:00 am – leave house for work
7:18 am – park on campus (hello new job!!) and walk to my building
7:25 am to 4:00 pm – work day
4:13 pm – take dogs potty, start a load of laundry, change clothes, and head out the door
4:30 pm – rolling hilly run
5:15 to 5:50 pm – let dogs go potty, shower, put laundry in dryer and start another load, inhale leftovers and head out the door
6:00 to 7:30 pm – Attend a meeting for the proposed Healthy Life Center by the City of Ames Parks and Rec…voting will be Tuesday, September 10
7:45 to 8:20 pm – make smoothies for morning, do dishes, fold laundry, and get ready for bed
8:20 to 8:30 pm – read in bed
8:30 pm – lights out

Morning play time + #chlorinetherapy
Life is always a balancing act! I’m so glad I get to do it with my fave! #postrunshenanigans

As you can see, there isn’t much wiggle room to fit it all in being only 6 weeks away from Ironman Lake Placid. What does your typical day look like?

#explore x2

If you’ve been following my blog this year, you know that #explore is my word for 2019. I have been exploring in all areas of my life…training, racing, work, and my personal life. I have been healthy and strong so far this year, so after conferring with the Iron Hippie and Coach Kelly, I have decided to #explore x2 in 2019!

What does #explore x2 mean?! Well…2x the Ironman journey, 2x the learning + growing, 2x the fun! On July 28, 2019 I will be tackling Ironman Lake Placid and on October 13, 2019 I will be tackling Ironman Louisville. Until now, the closest I have raced two Ironman competitions is 10 months apart, but in 2019 I am going to #explore and see what my body + mind can do with two Ironman races 10 WEEKS apart. Eeeekkkkk!!! Like any new thing, I am full of mixed emotions; one minute I doubt my decision and abilities, and the next I am confident in my decision and my abilities. Overall, I am very excited and looking forward to the challenge.

Ironman teaches me something during every journey to the start line and on every race day. I learn things about myself; things I didn’t know before. I ❤ to learn! As a result, I am looking forward to learning and growing on my journey to Ironman Lake Placid, on my journey to Ironman Louisville, during Ironman Lake Placid, and during Ironman Louisville this year.

“Adversity is what introduces you to yourself, so I am discovering myself anew on a daily basis, and everyday I get stronger.” ~Mike Reilly

July 28, 2019
October 13, 2019

For those of you who have done 2 Ironman races ~10 weeks apart, what advice do you have?!

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…