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?

Off Season

After running the Indianapolis Marathon on October 19 and not qualifying for the Boston Marathon, I seriously considered running another marathon in December.  I had some things to consider before making a final decision:

  1. Why would I be running another marathon?
  2. What if I run this marathon and don’t qualify for Boston?
  3. Can I stay mentally focused through this marathon and then immediately start my Ironman training in January?

After weighing all of these questions, I decided that I should not foster the thought of running another marathon in December and instead give myself some down time…time to recharge the batteries before going full throttle with Ironman training. What does this mean?  My “Off Season” is in full swing…hiking in the woods, getting out and riding my cross bike, taking the dogs for walks, sitting by the campfire, putting puzzles together, reading good books, chopping down trees for firewood, going to hot yoga and doing what I feel like doing instead of what I have to do.

Hike in the woods with the dogs.
Hike in the woods with the dogs.
Basil looking ahead on the trail
Basil looking ahead on the trail
Riding our cross bikes in the woods.
The Iron Hippie and me riding our cross bikes in the woods.
Looking ahead on the trail in the woods while biking.
The trail in the woods we were biking on.
Taking a break in the woods during our bike ride.
The Iron Hippie and me taking a break in the woods during our bike ride.
Beautiful night for a campfire!!
Beautiful night for a campfire!!
Yummy s'mores!!
Yummy s’mores!!
A hike in the woods.
A solitary hike in the woods.
Peaceful morning hike when I happened to come upon a small lake.
Peaceful morning hike when I happened to come upon a small lake.  What a beautiful autumn morning.
Cutting and hauling firewood for the fire pit.
The Iron Hippie and I cut and hauled firewood for the fire pit.
The steep hill that we had to climb while hauling the trees we cut down for firewood.  GREAT workout!!
One of the steep hills that we climbed while hauling the trees we cut down for firewood. GREAT workout!!
Putting puzzles together
Putting puzzles together
Basil helped us with a few of the pieces to this puzzle (hence the reason a couple are chewed up and missing)...
Basil helped us with this puzzle…hence the reason a couple of pieces are chewed up and missing…
While I've already read this series, I decided to reread it since the "Catching Fire" movie is going to be coming out soon.  A good series of books that doesn't require a lot of focus.
While I’ve already read this series, I decided to reread it since the “Catching Fire” movie is going to be coming out in theaters soon. A good series of books that doesn’t require a lot of mental focus.
I have also already read "The Help," but remembered it being a good book and decided to pull it off the shelf to reread.
I have also already read “The Help,” but remembered it being a good book and decided to pull it off the shelf to reread.
My favorite hot yoga studio!!
My favorite hot yoga studio!!

“Get Comfortable with the Uncomfortable”

Thanks to Erin for the mantra that stuck with me as I raced the Indianapolis Marathon to my 2nd fastest marathon time ever…”Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.”

The alarm went off at 5:30 am (although that was still 4:30 am based on central time).  While getting dressed, nourished and race ready, we took one last look at the weather for our race…43 degrees at the start with a steady rain and 10+ mph winds (that would slowly climb throughout the day).  Not ideal, but not horrible.

We loaded up on the shuttle from our hotel at 6:40 am and headed out to the race site.  Our driver got a little turned around, but we weren’t complaining because we were on a dry, warm bus.  When we finally made it to the race site, we were allowed to sit in a large canopied tent to stay dry and out of the inclement weather, which was a good thing.  The thought of standing outside in the cold and rain for just over an hour made me consider hiding out in a kybo just to stay dry.  I was much happier in the canopied tent!!

With about 20 minutes to the start of the race, I decided to drop my gear, hit the kybo and head to the start line.  With only 615 athletes running the full marathon and about 1600 people running the half marathon, it didn’t take long to get to the start area.

Trying to stay warm and dry as we wait in the tent before the race start.
Trying to stay warm and dry as we wait in the tent before the race start.
"Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"...ready to race Indianapolis!!
“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”…ready to race Indianapolis!!

When the gun went off, I decided to start out strong and see how long I could hold on.  With the cold and rain, I figured the faster I got done, the sooner I’d be out of the inclement weather.  “Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.”  During the first 13 miles, I thought the course was to be flatter than it was, but there were quite a few undulations throughout this half of the race.  “Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.”

I crossed the 8 mile mark at just under one hour, and was starting to feel my left glute start to scream.  I’m not sure if it was the undulations or my quicker than normal pace.  “Get comfortable with the uncomfortable,” smile and keep pushing forward.  By this time, it was only lightly misting and the temperatures were nearing the mid 40s…time to strip down to my tank top and ditch my long sleeve throw away shirt (don’t worry Bill…I had arm warmers on too).

I crossed the half marathon mat at 1:53:08.  Not as fast as I was hoping for, but my upper hamstrings and glutes were SCREAMING!!  “Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.” Alright…let’s push to mile 15.  Check.  Focus on the positives…I’m not in a wheelchair…My nutrition is spot on…I am executing this race almost perfectly given the conditions that I have.  Time to push to mile 18…Check.  No more rain 🙂  Mile 19.5 split…2:48:31.  Nutrition is spot on, pace is declining, upper hamstrings and glutes are SCREAMING…smiling like I’m Chrissie Wellington, I keep moving forward.  “Get comfortable with the uncomfortable.”

Thanks to Star Photo Imaging for the photography on the race course.
Thanks to Star Photo Imaging for the photography on the race course.

The last 10K was painful, but I kept smiling and pushing forward, finishing in a time of 3:56:42…my 2nd fastest marathon time to date!!  While I was disappointed with my finish time, I was satisfied with how I executed my race.  I stayed mentally focused and strong even when obstacles presented themselves…controlling what I could control.  The Indianapolis Marathon was about “getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.”

Beautiful Day…USAT National Championship Race Results

As you may remember, I qualified for the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship to be hosted in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 11, 2013.  Coming to Milwaukee for the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship was like coming full circle…back to the place where I ran the Lakefront Marathon and qualified for the Boston Marathon in 2008.

IMG_2126

I woke up Saturday morning at 4 am, ate my pre-race breakfast (Nature’s Path Qi’a Superfood with fresh blueberries), gathered up my gear and headed down to the race site.  I knew I wouldn’t start swimming until about 8:58 am, so I decided to wear comfortable clothes down to the race site, set up my transition area, inflate my bike tires and then walk the short distance back to the car to deposit the bike pump and change into my tri kit.  Since I needed to be to transition at about 5:30 am to set up my area, this seemed to make the most sense.  I eventually made it down to the water’s edge by about 7:15 am and began the waiting game…

I was informed that potato chips were invented in 1853.  My friend who informed me of this also told me that I should have a great race as a result...read on to find out!!
I was informed that potato chips were invented in 1853. My friend who informed me of this also told me that I should have a great race as a result…read on to find out!!

Since I had quite a bit of time to wait, I soon noticed the absolutely BEAUTIFUL DAY…cue U2…

It was a PERFECT day for racing…there were few clouds in the sky, humidity was low, temperatures were in the low 70s and the winds were about 4 mph out of the north.  I didn’t think it could get much better, but I was wrong…the weather got much better while I was racing!!  🙂

There was a delay by about 15 minutes to the official start of the race, because there were some problems closing the interstate so we could ride on it…yes, they closed the interstate for a triathlon…that doesn’t happen often!!  Because of the delayed start, each swim wave was pushed back about 15 minutes, so I didn’t start until about 9:15 am instead of the planned start time.  At about 9:05 am, we jumped off the dock and into the water where we were given about 8 minutes to acclimate to the Lake Michigan water temps…surprisingly Lake Michigan wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be 🙂  We then had to swim back to the dock and hold onto the dock in a floating swim start fashion.

The swim start for my wave...just a few of the 200+ women in my age group.
The swim start for my wave…just a few of the 175 women in my age group.

When the air horn went off, it was complete pandemonium in the water.  I have NEVER experienced a swim quite like this one…I know I have mentioned swim experiences in previous triathlons that are similar to rugby tournaments in the water, but this was more like a loaded washing machine on the spin cycle where not one piece of clothing has any freedom…it was FULL CONTACT for the whole swim!!  “Just Keep Swimming…Just Keep Swimming…” as well as “Relax, Breathe and Swim Straight” kept playing through my head.  These women were out for blood!!  There was not one moment in my roughly 30 minute swim where I had open water and was not in some kind of contact with another woman in my age group…whether it was getting kicked in the goggles, hit on the arm, swam into by someone who couldn’t swim a straight line, hitting a slower swimmer in front of me or kicking someone behind me who kept swimming on my feet…swimming in this race was a full contact sport!!

As we approached the swim exit, I knew I had to swim up onto a steep ramp and that there would be volunteers there to pull me out of the water.  I emerged from the water after having covered 1.5 km in 30:16 and was pulled up out of the water by my husband…I forgot to mention he was volunteering at the swim exit and pulling athletes out of the water all morning, so he got in a good strength training session while I raced.  As I emerged I said, “Thanks!!  Love you!!” to my husband, then ran up the ramp and down a long sidewalk into transition.

I had plenty of time to remove my wetsuit while running down the long entrance into transition.
I had plenty of time to remove my wetsuit while running down the long entrance into transition.

By the time I entered transition, I had my goggles and swim cap off and my wetsuit was nearly completely off…it was a long run to my bike.  I quickly finished taking my wetsuit off, put on my bike shoes, helmet and sunglasses, drank some water, loaded my tri top with my spare tube, tire lever and CO2 cartridge, grabbed my bike and headed out on the road.  T1 time was 4:00…I chalk that up to the incredibly long run from the swim exit to my bike and out the other side…

Mojo and I are exiting the transition area ready to rocket on the bike course!!
Mojo and I are exiting the transition area ready to rocket on the bike course!!

As I started out on the bike, I quickly found my rhythm and mentally recapped my swim…I was so pleased with how well I kept my focus and didn’t let all of the contact in the swim negatively affect me.  Now I was on the bike, so it was time to do what I came to do…give it my all.  As I was cycling, I kept thinking what a BEAUTIFUL DAY it was…cue U2…  The sun was still shining, so I was able to warm up a bit from the 69.4 degree Fahrenheit water temperatures of Lake Michigan.  At about mile 10 I rode up onto the interstate…it was a decent climb, but I did not get out of my big chain ring at any point during the race, so it wasn’t too steep 🙂  “I am strong.  I am tough.”  It was between mile 10 and 13 that I noticed the clouds moving in…YES!!  That would make the conditions on the run even better…What a BEAUTIFUL DAY…cue U2…  I rolled into transition after having covered 40 km on the bike in 1:20:38, which was an average speed of 18.5 mph…WAHOO!!

Riding down the interstate..."Life is a Highway...I wanna ride it..."
Riding down the interstate…”Life is a Highway…I wanna ride it…”

I was quicker in T2…having to only change my shoes, grab my visor, race number, nutrition and run out onto the course…but still had quite a distance to cover in transition, so my T2 time was 2:19.

As I started the run, I felt like my pace was a bit fast, but I decided to go with it and see just how long I could hold onto it.  “Think strong, be strong, finish strong.”  I was feeling great!!  I was thinking just how lucky I was to be running in the footsteps of some amazing people, when I happened to run up to a very inspirational person at about mile 4, so I stopped and walked with her briefly…Sister Madonna Buder, age 83…I said, “Sister Madonna, you are such an inspiration.”  She said, “Thank you, but it gets harder every race.”  I said, “But you are out here doing it and inspiring others.”  She said, “God bless you child.” Gave me a hug and I ran off re-energized all the way to the finish, where I crossed the finish line with a run split of 51:49 for the 10 km run, which was an average pace of 8:20.

I finished in 2:49:03...PR by almost 4 minutes
I finished in 2:49:03…PR by almost 4 minutes
Getting my medal and a hug from Chrissie Wellington at the finish line.
Getting my medal and a hug from Chrissie Wellington at the finish line.

I received my medal from Chrissie Wellington, who also gave me a hug and then I went to the results tent to find out my official finish time…ANOTHER PR!!  2:49:03 was my official finish time…this didn’t qualify me for Team USA at the Worlds Championship, but I pushed my limits, broke my previous PR by almost 4 minutes and had a lot of fun!!  🙂

Screen shot 2013-08-12 at 7.55.40 PM

Finisher's medal...
Finisher’s medal…

After crossing the finish line, Dad was waiting for me.  It was so nice to have him there cheering me on and supporting me throughout the day in what he refers to as “crazy.”

Dad, my husband and me after the race...Thanks for making the trip to Milwaukee Dad!!  Love you!!
Dad, my husband and me after the race…Thanks for making the trip to Milwaukee Dad!! Love you!!

Thanks Coach!!

It is time to give credit where credit is due…

With today marking the start of the second half of 2013, I decided to really reflect on where I’ve come from, where I’m currently at and where I want to be.

Let’s start with where I’ve come from…Prior to January 2010, I had coached myself through 8 marathons, 8 half marathons, multiple 5K, 10K, 10 mile and 20K road races, 4 triathlons and qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  I decided it was time to take my fitness and training to the “Next Level” and in January 2010, I hired Coach Julie with Zoom Performance Endurance Coaching to help me achieve my fitness goals.  This was easily one of the best decisions I have ever made!!  She has helped transform me into the training/racing monster that I have become.  🙂

Where I’m currently at…Since January 1, 2013 I have:

  • swam 31.5 miles
  • biked 1095 miles
  • ran 441 miles
  • completed 409.3 miles of brick workouts (Bike/Run)
  • raced 110 miles (that includes both running events and triathlons)
  • completed 34.5 hours of strength training
  • completed 17 hours of yoga
  • set a PR of nearly 27 minutes on the Ironman 70.3 event
  • become much more mentally and physically strong
  • become a much more well-rounded individual

Where I want to be…I have many more races I am planning to participate in and many race goals that I hope to achieve.  Some of these races have dates attached to them, while others don’t…

  • Future races include:
  1. Superiorman Triathlon – August 25, 2013 (70.3 mile triathlon)
  2. Indianapolis Marathon – October 19, 2013
  3. Ironman Wisconsin – September 7, 2014
  4. Ironman New Zealand – No idea when this will happen
  5. The Lake Tahoe Triathlon – No idea when this will happen
  6. Dublin Marathon – No idea when this will happen
  • Goals include:
  1. Break 6 hours on a 70.3 mile triathlon event
  2. Break 14 hours on a Ironman (140.6 mile triathlon event)
  3. Become more physically fit and tough
  4. Become more mentally strong
  5. Qualify for the Boston Marathon again

Thanks Coach Julie for helping me become a much stronger, faster, well-rounded person and athlete!!

Racing Bucket List #3

This race has been on my bucket list since I started participating in triathlons.  I am so excited to one day participate in the Cutthroat Division of The Lake Tahoe Triathlon!!  The Cutthroat Division covers 2.5 miles of swimming, 72 mile bike ride and a full marathon over three days.  There are other distance options for this triathlon as well as options that are more friendly to the non-swimmer…kayaking is an option for the water portion of some of the divisions.  This event was designed to be a fun event that can be used as training for a future full, one day event or a very fun weekend adventure!!

Majestic Beauty lies in Lake Tahoe!!
Majestic Beauty lies in Lake Tahoe!!  Let’s go!!

Lake Tahoe is a beautiful location (and one I have yet to see first hand) with the opportunity to see many parts of it doing what I love…swimming, biking and running!!  How could you not want to go to such a majestic location?!?!?

This was taken from the "Race" website...who wouldn't want to race with this view?!?!?!
This was taken from the “Race” website…who wouldn’t want to race with this view?!?!?!

Scheduling Meetings and Boston

I just realized I haven’t posted in about 2 weeks…I haven’t even put my thoughts and feelings out there about the Boston bombing…

This time of year is always a little crazy for me.  As the school year comes to a close, I unfortunately end up trying to fit my workouts into my already crazy schedule instead of scheduling everything else around my workouts.  With just over 5 weeks left of school for this year (and 6 weeks til race day), I am determined to do my best to get all of my workouts in and schedule everything else around my workouts.

workouts as meetings

After the recent tragedy in Boston, MANY people have contacted me and asked me if I was there or if I knew people who were there.  I was not there this year, but I do know many pople who were there.  I’ve done some thinking after this tragedy and came to some conclusions:  1) it is very unfortunate that this world has crazy people in it who display such ridiculous acts of hate, 2) it is heart warming to see people come together in such times of tragedy and hate, 3) this tragedy has inspired me and made me more determined than ever before, to train hard and qualify for the Boston Marathon again.  We have to be the white blood cells that attack the tragedy virus.  I will continue to train hard, swim, bike, run and not let the tragedies in this world derail the train I’m on.  We CAN’T let the crazy people in this world win!!

The last time I qualified for the Boston Marathon was in 2008, before the new rules for qualification.  Since 2008, the qualifying times have gotten faster, but I have also gone up an age group.  So…I have to run the same qualifying time (less 59 seconds) as I did to qualify in 2008.

Look out world…I’m taking you by storm!!