IRONMAN Louisville was last Sunday and earlier in the year, I had committed to racing it. With the roller coaster ride of life this year, I decided after IRONMAN Lake Placid that I would not be racing Louisville this year. In the last few weeks, I have been second guessing my decision…torn between knowing what is best for me in this moment and leaning into my heart’s desire to race. It was probably a good idea that we didn’t take our bikes to Louisville.
We decided to go to Louisville and experience IRONMAN from a completely new perspective (to us). This would be the first race day that were not participating or volunteering rather spectating and cheering on the athletes who were racing. We got to spend the weekend enjoying the company of friends, meeting new friends, and experiencing Louisville completely differently than we did last year. This weekend was exactly what I needed. It brought me insight, perspective, clarity, peace, joy, fun, and more laughter than I can remember experiencing in one weekend…possibly ever.
With the cancelled swim, we made it to the watch a bit of the time trial bike start before heading out to LaGrange where we set up a party on hill as the athletes enter town. We cheered and spectated there for nearly 4 hours before heading back to Louisville to cheer and spectate on the run course.
This is what my weekend in Louisville looked like:
Louisville (and friends) thanks for all of the memories and laughter!
“Courage is found in unlikely places.” ~J.R.R. Tolkien
I recently mentioned to my counselor that I felt I had been doing Ironman for all of the wrong reasons and that I was feeling pressure (some self-inflicted and some unintentionally inflicted on me by others), which made my training feel like a job instead of a hobby. I want to do Ironman if it is centered around joy, fun, and gratitude. She asked, “What are the positive things that Ironman has given you?” Here is the list I came up with:
It gives me something I can control. I can’t control what happened to me as a kid, but I can control my training and racing.
It has helped me in this healing process from my past.
It allows me the freedom to mess up and it can still end up ok…a metaphor for life.
It has given me self confidence, self worth, self discipline, drive, belief in myself, and physical and mental strength I didn’t know were within me.
It has taught me resilience. I am a rubber ball and bounce back stronger and better than before.
It has helped me manage my weight.
It has helped me be more courageous in all areas of my life…including helping me open up to others about my past.
It has taught me to survive and fight for me and those I care about.
It has taught me I can do anything I put my mind to. Ironman teaches me something during every journey to every start line and on every race day. I learn things about myself. Things I didn’t know before.
It fills me with gratitude and positivity.
Ironman isn’t something you do; it is something you become. It will change you. Ironman (like life) is full of struggles and challenges; not simply on race day, but throughout the entire journey as you prepare to get to the start line. These struggles and challenges don’t define me…they mold me into a better person. Ironman allows me to find the beauty, joy, and gratitude in the tough moments.
I was reminded by my counselor to listen to my heart. Even when my heart and brain do not speak the same language, I need to listen to my heart. It knows best. My heart has been speaking to me and telling me it is time to regain control of my life, so I’ve listened.
I believe my best athletic days are in front of me, not behind me!
People have often asked why I do this crazy sport and I can honestly say that it has been a great way to emotionally deal with life. It has taught me SO much about who I am and who I want to be, but that is for another post coming soon.
After having crossed 7 Ironman finish lines, I thought I’d try to shed some light on the stages that the athlete (and often the people who live with the athlete) experience. These are what I believe to be the stages of Ironman training:
Base Fun: Everything is all rainbows and unicorns! After all, I just signed up for an Ironman and I am going to do epic sh!t! I haven’t started “officially” training yet, so I have free time and energy to be fun and do things! Who wants to go to a show or play games/cards at the brewery?! I am training, but nothing serious yet!
Build Phase: We’re having fun now! My volume is increasing, so I’m finding that I turn into a pumpkin at 7 pm most nights. Who wants to come swim/ride/run with me?! Love me a good recovery week with reduced training so I can catch up with family and friends!
Peak Training: Who has time to see anyone unless they are swimming/biking/running with me?! I work 40 hours a week, workout 16-20+ hours a week, and am still trying to maintain a happy/healthy relationship at home. Oh…and if you come to visit our house, you will likely see chamois butter in place of lotion in the bathroom, tires and spare tubes hanging from the hall tree, Body Glide and Skin Slick on the dining room table where it can be easily accessed, the Roomba vacuuming (who has time to vacuum?!), and ALL. THE. TECH. CLOTHES. Hanging on drying racks around the house (who has time to fold them and put them away?! Just pull them off and wear them so they can be washed again in a few days). This is also where I live in a constant state of hangry. Thankfully before peak training begins, we stock our freezer with food that simply needs to be heated up so we don’t have to spend much time preparing and cooking food.
Taper Crazies: Where is my race belt?! Where is my favorite race temporary tattoos?! Where is my extra Skin Slick?! Where is my swim skin?! Where are those new goggles I purchased last week?! Trying to organize and pack for race day while still working 40 hours a week and exercising 10-14 hours a week to maintain the fitness gained without over doing it is a fine line. My race plan says I should go for X power output for the bike, but I was thinking Y might be better. Stop overthinking and roll with it!
Race Week Whirlwind: Stalking and obsessing over the weather has become normal. Making sure I have packed EVERYTHING (including the kitchen sink) for ANY possible race day weather. Should I put this in my transition bag?! How easy should my shake out run be?! Oh…I forgot to order more bike nutrition. How quickly can I have this shipped to me?!
Post Race High: I am an Ironman (insert happy dance and HUGE grin). I did epic sh!t!
Ironman Blues: Now what?! I have all of this spare time on my hands and I don’t know what to do with myself. What races should I sign up for?! Maybe I’ll sign up for another Ironman. 😉
For those that live the Ironman lifestyle, or live with someone who does, what stages do you go through? Anything you would add?!
How is the first month of 2018 already in the rearview mirror?! It seems like the start of the new year was just yesterday! Here is a look at what the month had in store for me:
This month my training was hit or miss thanks to an illness shortly after the start of the year and most recently the inability to turn my head. Thankfully I am back to feeling 100% and am ready to regain consistency in February! I did establish a racing schedule for 2018 that I am SUPER PUMPED about! I’ve let myself fully recover from my 2017 racing season and am SO ready to start rebuilding the engine for a stronger + fun filled 2018!
Swim: 8500 yards
Bike: 127 miles
Run: 24.8 miles
Totals: 20 hours & 53 minutes
We were so blessed to have our twin nieces (and my sister) come stay with us for a weekend early in January so we could attend their swim meet. The twins convinced the Iron Hippie to make a cake from scratch when they came to visit us. The recipe used was one the twins found on the internet and was a bit dry…it needs some love! We also got to spend some time back home home with family for the Okoboji Winter Games.
My Weight Has Nothing to Do with How Good a Runner I Am by Allie Kieffer is a MUST READ! Wow! Body image plagues society! As an endurance athlete not on the skinny side, I often feel that I should lose weight to perform better…not because I think I am overweight, but because I see + hear what society says about being “skinnier.” I am STRONG! Stronger now than I have ever been…my swim times are dropping, my FTP on the bike is climbing, and my run times have gotten faster during the marathon of my Ironman races. If I were to lose weight, I may perform better, but I may also lose this strength. That is not a risk I am willing to take. It is time for society to change! The negative body image stereotyping MUST go, we need to focus on nutrient dense foods (count the colors not calories people), and we need to be grateful for what our bodies do for us! “As women, we shared more similarities than differences: We are all perseverant, powerful, confident, and healthy. And, dare I say it, strong.” #strongisthenewskinny
2017: A Year of Rediscovering Joy where Amelia shares how she rediscovered joy as she overcame injury. “True joy and true gratitude does not come from the victory – it comes from the pursuit of the achievement.”
The Find Your Awesome Podcast with Olympian Samantha Livingston…WOW!!! I SO connected to what Samantha and Kelsey discussed in this podcast!!! I have SO many perfectionist tendencies that I am trying to shed and leave behind. “Perfection is driven by the fear of what people will think.” I will continue to work to shed these perfectionist tendencies. I don’t want to live in fear of what other people think or what I think that they think!
The Find Your Awesome Podcast with Professional Triathlete Amber Ferreira is a must listen to! Kelsey Abbott interviews Amber and learns more about Amber’s “pro career to date, her love of racing up mountains, her mindset, resiliency and heart. We dig into her current project—recovering from stage 3 adrenal fatigue. Amber Ferreira is a professional triathlete, a physical therapist and a multisport coach. She’s the 2014 Ironman Lake Placid Champion and the two-time US National Snowshoe champion. She’s also a heart-driven, spunky human who loves to dream big and loves to laugh.”
-My body allowing me to push it to new levels, but also accepting the recovery I give it to perform stronger + better in the future.
-A snow day + a few days with 2 hour delays to start this month at school. I’m not a fan of having to make up the snow days, but it is always nice to have a break from school from time to time. Oh…and the 2 hour delays we don’t have to make up! 🙂
-The most supportive husband ever! I’m so grateful the Iron Hippie is willing to support me on my #IMLou journey! This will be the first Ironman race I participate in with him as sherpa + spectator extraordinaire!
-Dr. Chris Feil with Team Chiropractic for helping me overcome my “whiplash” symptoms from the car accident I was NEVER in. We have no idea how it happened!
-Nick Morton with Vitality Massage for keeping me on the train moving forward thanks to my biweekly massages!
–Coach Kelly’s flexibility this month as life threw me a couple of curve balls!
-Being a SBR Sports Inc Ambassador for 2018! I absolutely LOVE the TRISWIM, TRISLIDE and SKINSLICK products to remove chlorine and keep me chafe + blister free during training, racing, and snowshoeing! These products are a dream!
How was your month of January?! What are you pumped up about?! What are you grateful for?!
After Ironman Wisconsin 2011 (my first Ironman), I decided I would NEVER do another Ironman. That was one of the HARDEST things I’d ever done and I wanted to let it rest. I was certain I was one and done! These thoughts lasted about 2 years and then I decided I wanted to have a happier Ironman finish (not necessarily a faster finish time, but finishing in a better physical + medical state). So, in 2013 I signed up for Ironman Wisconsin 2014. I had so much FUN + finished HEALTHY! This is when I realized that Ironman could be a lifestyle for me. I have come to learn that I am better suited to long distance racing. I love testing my body physically + mentally and for me, there is a spiritual component to training and racing. It is one of those things that you have to “experience for yourself.”
Since Ironman Wisconsin 2014 (swim, bike, run race reports), I have raced Ironman Boulder 2015 (race report), Ironman Wisconsin 2016 (race report) and Ironman Mont Tremblant 2017 (race report). After Ironman Mont Tremblant, I thought I wanted to take a break from Ironman training + racing in 2018. I was WRONG! I thought I wanted to focus on getting faster at the shorter distances, including the 70.3 distance. And I do! I am excited to work on this goal in 2018! I want to get substantially faster at the 70.3 distance, but as I’ve sat with this idea for the last 5 months, I’ve come to realize that the Ironman lifestyle + race really makes me happy! I want to be true to myself + follow my heart + dream big + have fun in 2018! For me, that includes an Ironman in 2018! I find so much joy in the pursuit of the Ironman finish line!
So…after lots of thought, conversations with the Iron Hippie and Coach Kelly, I’ve followed my heart and signed up for Ironman Louisville in 2018!
There are many people that put Ironman on their “bucket list” and when they cross the finish line, they never do another one. In my opinion, they are missing out. Each finish line is a different journey with different lessons learned. The body and mind get challenged in new and different ways each time. The Ironman lifestyle allows you to experience so much more with each and every Ironman experience. I want to ride this wave and enjoy the Ironman lifestyle as long as my body + mind allow me to!
With that…cheers to another journey to an Ironman finish line with more chasing dreams + following my heart + having FUN in 2018!
I can’t believe summer is in the review mirror! Where has time gone?!?!?! Here’s a glimpse of what I’ve been up to in September!
The CyMan Sprint Triathlon was hard! I was definitely not fully recovered post Ironman Mont Tremblant and I definitely felt it! Thankfully I still put together a decent race and HAD FUN doing it!
My Coeur Sports teammate…Amy Farrell on running a marathon during Ironman training. Thanks to Brad Brown with the Kona Edge for this interview!
Amy Dixon is a blind triathlete who has taken on the challenge of Xterra triathlon racing! Holy inspirational! Thanks Kelsey Abbott for helping Amy share her story!
Stressed and overwhelmed. Work is a struggle right now. I’m grateful to work with some amazing people and have the support of an amazing husband to help get me through. I am strong. I will overcome this obstacle. It may be time for change. For now…one day at a time.
Normal life. After a month of vacation, we finally returned home to see our girls, return to work, and return to reality. Daily walks with our girls make us all happy!
Helping + Volunteering:
I’m so lucky to have ladies who ask me for help! I got to teach a friend (doing her first Ironman next Sunday) how to change her tire. It is so much fun to help others!
I was also lucky to get to be one of the Captains for the Women’s change at Ironman Wisconsin this year! It is always so fun to get to work with amazing volunteers + support athletes to help them achieve their dreams on race day!
Post Ironman Blues! I know I’ve posted about the reality of the post Ironman blues, but I am finally combatting them and back to a more normal routine that includes working out on a regular basis!
Yes…I am still working on overcoming my fear of heights. I didn’t make it to the top of the wall during this climbing session. Between lack of recovery post Ironman + my fear ruling the roost, I made it 3/4 of the way up the wall most of the times I climbed. I think it’s time to go climb again and make it to the top of the wall!
How was your month of September?! What was your favorite part of the month?!
Ladies and Gentlemen…I am finding myself again and seeing in green! I love to see green in Training Peaks! It gives me a sense of accomplishment, it gives me consistency, it gives me a stress release, it gives me joy! It means I am finding my rhythm again! I am making my heart happy, and I am less of a bear to be around. Just ask the Iron Hippie…or maybe don’t 😉
It feels good to be combatting the post Ironman blues! How do you combat the post Ironman blues?!