CapTex OLY: A Trying Tri

Whew, what a race! I’ll get there shortly but backing up just a bit…I dusted off my racing shoes in early May at a local sprint race, CB&I. Because it’s local to the Woodlands, it’s actually quite competitive and brings out some speedy guys and gals. I wanted to test out my foot and see how it reacted to the speed. I don’t have a big base on me right now – my longest run has been 7 miles – so any confidence booster helps. Well that race went pretty well and my foot carried me to a 1st place finish. It was a hard battle but I was stoked. The foot didn’t seem any worse off than before the race so I quickly made other race plans and opted to drive up to Austin for CapTex later in the month. That brings us to now.

CapTex is part of the Lifetime Tri Series and is always super competitive. I realize I wasn’t doing myself any favors by entering into such a stacked field but I thought, “what the heck, it’s close by and I have to hop back on the horse sometime.” So I did. My main goal was to just get out there, do my best to have fun, and hopefully build a little more confidence on the way.

The week leading into the race offered up a few snags – the weather forecast was daunting and it looked like it would be wet for sure. It’s always challenging to not get caught up in stuff you can’t control but I tried my best to just not think about it – weather can change and weather forecasts are notoriously inaccurate. Also, sometime during the week, I must have rolled my ankle on a run because as the week drew to a close, every little taper/warm up run hurt on the part of my foot below the knobby ankle bone. So that would prove to be a minor hurdle to get through on race day.

Fast forward to the weekend and my super Sherpa husband went along for the ride; we got to have some fun time away and also caught up with family as well so that was a bonus. My nieces even came (with their grandparents, Izzy and Poppy, of course) to join in on the cheering fun so that was extra special.

I tend to have trouble sleeping the night before races but as of late, that seemed to have gone away. Well this time I wasn’t so lucky. I haven’t a clue how much sleep I actually got but I can tell you that I read way more of my book than originally intended. Needless to say, the alarm came rather early and we awoke to rainy conditions. I wasn’t looking forward to getting out there and being wet/cold but Clint reminded me that there’s no difference – you still go out there and do what you do. That helped ease my nerves a bit and actually by the time we drove downtown, the rain had stopped. Race prep went smoothly and we headed to the start line!

SWIM: This was the part I was most nervous about. I’ve been having shoulder issues since mid December and although we had some brief relief back in April, the pain has returned. So my swim fitness is nowhere near where it should be for OLY races. Those gals are FAST! But I was actually pleasantly surprised. I pushed comfortably hard and didn’t notice much pain. I wasn’t last out of the water and ended up with a 22ish minute swim which was speedier than I thought I’d go.

BIKE: Out of all 3, the bike is my strongest at the moment since I’ve been slightly limited with the other 2. I was a little nervous with the wet roads but by loop 2, felt a bit more confident with the turns/climbs/slick spots. Just after I rounded the corner by the capital, whoooooosh, I heard my tire go – darn it, a flat! Seriously?! Ugh. So I pulled over and looked around for some sort of technical support but didn’t see anyone. I don’t carry flat repair with me for OLY races – I probably should seeing as though this is the second time this has happened. So I felt like I didn’t have many options and started to head back to the race site to throw in the towel. But then, to my surprise, Sierra Snyder tossed me her flat kit and then a race crew guy rode up to help me change it. Talk about good sportsmanship! After about a 14 minute delay, I was back in business. From there, I just tried to get back into a groove and not think about the time cost – I was happy to be able to finish. When it was about time to take my second bike Gu, I looked down and realized it was gone. It must have come loose during the flat debacle! I always have an extra one in transition so I just planned to take it ASAP.

photo 5 (4) photo 4 (2)photo 3

RUN: I couldn’t wait to put that bike up and be on my own 2 feet! I threw down the Gu and headed out. I knew this would be a bit painful – Michelle had warned me I’d have to push through fatigue during the second half more so than normal. I was mentally prepared for that. What I didn’t expect was how painful that darn ankle would be! I didn’t even think about my heel so I guess that was a silver lining. After I finished the first loop, my confidence boosted a bit and I was able to relax a little more to push a tiny bit harder. I knew at this point that I could finish the race and that was what drove me on. That last mile – I tried to kick it in a bit more and I was so excited to enter that finish chute…can’t you tell?! Side note: I have no idea what I’m doing with my hands. I think I had spotted my niece and was prepping for a high five.

photo 1 (2)

So although this was nowhere close to my top OLY distance times, I did take away some valuable experiences/reminders/lessons:

  1. I still love to race!
  2. I still hate taking gels.
  3. My supportive family/friends/teammates/fellow competitors are the best.
  4. Carry some sort of something to fix a flat, always. Although your placement and time will be affected, at least you’d get the workout in and finish what you started.
  5. I “can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) - even when it hurts.
  6. Kids look up to you – when they’re watching, they provide extra motivation to get the task done and never give up.
  7. Take care of your body and thank it for what you put it through; it’s amazing what it can push through in tough times.
  8. Getting back on the horse takes patience and guts; power through.

I’m not sure what’s next on the racing front but I’m excited to build my fitness to get ready!

 

The Art of NOT Planning

Remember me?!?

Some days lately, I’m not so sure I do. At least not the competitive me. And no this isn’t a post begging for sympathy; it’s about the journey of facing setbacks and looking at my racing career with a different outlook…the bigger picture in other words.

We left off back in late Fall, I had just raced Try Andy’s Tri and felt that my foot was on the up and up. But then soon after, it became clear it was NOT on the mend however. Between that point and now, here’s what we’ve done:

  1. physical therapy with C.Foster & Associates down in Pasadena – the PT diagnosed it as the “entrapment of the first branch of the lateral plantar nerve” rather than just classic plantar fasciitis (which is what everyone else had been treating it as)….we took 8 weeks off of running while getting the weekly treatments and doing my daily exercises
  2. I knew that 50% of folks respond to the therapy while 50% do NOT and have to resort to surgery; by the end of the year, it was clear that I fell into the latter category. From there, the PT referred me to the well known Dr. Baxter who this nerve is actually nicknamed after (coined “the Baxter nerve”).
  3. I had my appointment with Dr. Baxter in early January on a Wednesday and the surgery to release that nerve was scheduled for the following Tuesday…talk about fast turn around! I was super excited.
  4. Surgery was executed as planned (complete with a super powerful nerve block that left me without full feeling for 4 days!) and I was out of any training for the rest of the week. That following Monday, I was back on a spin bike and my trainer soon after that.
  5. Stitches came out a few weeks later and I was cleared to run, according to my “pain level.”

That basically brings us to now. While I had a few weeks where (short) runs were going well, when we bumped it up to 3 miles, my foot got VERY sore afterwards and would take a few days to return to normal. So last week at my follow up, Dr. Baxter advised me to not run for a few weeks but said that it will be okay, this is absolutely normal, and not to be concerned. That’s my run training plan for now – baby the foot and stay positive!

In the mean time, while all of this foot stuff was going on, my shoulder decided it wanted in on the fun as well. Over the past few years, I’ve had a tender spot on my right scapula that would occasionally get sore during longer workouts but it never caused me to stop or shorten my swims. It started flaring up again late Summer and I was beginning to get really frustrated with the lack of progress in my swim. At that point, Coach Tim Floyd from Magnolia Masters was kind enough to take me on as an athlete to try to get me through this little plateau and shoulder aches. We started working together, really analyzing my stroke, and building quite a bit of speed. My shoulder was feeling awesome. And then all of a sudden, one Sunday afternoon practice during some repeat 100s, BOOM… my right shoulder started screaming. It was back with a vengeance.

From there, we shortened my workouts and really honed in on my stroke to make sure I kept good form. I thought for sure once I came back from 2 weeks out of the water due to my foot stitches, I’d be good to go.

But no.

So I went to see Dr. Johnson of Sterling Ridge Orthopedics and he ordered PT 3X/week. The PTs then ordered me to stop swimming until we got the nasty knot under control and built up some strength in my shoulder which so far has lasted 3 weeks (but who’s counting?). I also limited my riding in aero position since that bothered it a bit as well. I was just cleared the other day to try out a short easy swim so that’s on the agenda for this week. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

Really this post is not all about that stuff. It’s more the effects of that stuff. I just had to catch you up!

The past few months have been emotional to say the least, filled with hope and disappointment, ups and downs, over and over and over again. It has tested my nerves, worn down my patience, and pushed me to tears several times. I’m lucky I have a super supportive husband who doesn’t mind; I am certain I sound like a broken record by now! I can endure physical pain but feeling like you will never train or race like you used to is just gut wrenching. Watching those around you get excited and prepare for the upcoming season is difficult. Yes, I try to stay positive but those who have suffered from a stubborn injury know that at a certain point, you begin to doubt. You feel as though you are being left behind and forgotten. Months feel like years. And it not longer becomes “when” I get better but “if” I get better. The mind is a powerful thing I tell ya.

And so the key is to turn that around. Take control of the mind and say “no, not IF…the question is only WHEN.” I assure you on that day, when it all comes back together again, I will run (and swim!) with more joy than ever before.

For now, I’m slowing down and trying to be okay with NOT planning so far in advance. I’m trying to enjoy not having to squeeze so much training into a day that’s already filled with work/coaching/wife duties. I look forward to watching a few of the big races with a coaching hat on rather than dealing with my own race nerves and preparations. It is a little freeing, I must admit. Maybe this is how Type B folks live…just sort of figuring it out as it comes. But I certainly don’t prefer it, let’s be honest. I have signed up for a few races in the horizon since they’d sell out otherwise but I haven’t a clue whether they will be in sync with my body’s agenda.

The other day in church, the Gospel and Homily were about NOT worrying about stuff. He will provide anything and everything that you need. Don’t worry about what or how you’ll eat. Don’t worry about what you’ll wear or the latest and greatest. Don’t worry about money. Don’t worry about what/when/where. Don’t worry about anything, basically. It was a rather timely answer to a prayer; one that I welcomed with open arms. All my life, I’ve sort of thought if I wasn’t worrying, I wouldn’t make progress…I wouldn’t achieve. But to realize that worrying is not at all how He wants us to live our lives, my goodness, that is absolutely refreshing. And so I’m challenging myself to do this, especially with the injury healing side of things. I encourage you to do the same!

 

 

Try Andy’s Tri Race Recap (old post but moved from a page!)

For some reason…this post actually was published on a page instead of here on the blog roll. This was originally written the week of October 21st, 2013…

Yahoo, I get to do another race report!! That, in and of itself, is a victory for me…regardless of the results. But I am happy to be able to reflect on a successful first race back which is an added bonus. This past weekend, I (finally) got to participate in one of Andy Stewart’s long standing triathlons which is termed “Try Andy’s Tri.” This year was the 21st anniversary of the event, wow!

The morning started off very cold. As a Texas gal, I’m used to sweating and find comfort in having to hydrate and fuel with plenty of electrolytes. The cooler weather racing, although a nice change, is just not something I’m very well accustomed to. Regardless, I was just happy to be waking up to some race nerves and getting out there again to see what I had. After several months of what begins to feel like meaningless miles and meters, this is just what the doctor ordered.

Swim Start Try Andy's Tri

We were able to jump in the water about 15 minutes ahead of time which sounds rather unappealing when you’re standing in the 45 degree air with tons of layers on. But I knew that in a short (read, fast) swim, the warmup is crucial. I stripped down and got ready. The water actually felt better than I expected and I was able to get into a good rhythm for the start. I really should get some clear lens goggles though – it was still quite dark! This was a fairly small field but for my first race back, I think that’s a good thing. We all lined up and as soon as the gun went off, I just tried to straight shot it across the lake as quickly as possible. A few of the guys’ arms caught my feet as they veered to the left while I was heading diagonally towards the right but I finally broke away and surprisingly found myself out front. Liz Baugher, my teammate, friend, and fellow competitor, is the stronger swimmer for sure but she had some issues sighting and I think the guys actually followed her (rightfully so!). I shocked myself by reaching those finish buoys first but everyone was right on my heels. Since I chose to take my speedsuit off, I actually came out of transition behind. Numb fingers don’t work very well!

Swim Warmup Try Andy's Triswim exit Try Andy's Tri

After a rather slow “flying mount” (I put this in quotations because it in no way looks like I’m flying…especially when I am cold), I slowly got my feet into my shoes. Again, cold extremities just do not function as well. The toe covers left on my shoes helped a little bit. I soon discovered a little technical issue with my bike – the chain kept dropping from the big to the small ring even though I was in the middle of my gearing. I think all of those countless miles have just worn it out – it likely just needs to be replaced. After shifting gingerly and withstanding 4 drops, I finally got it to stick for the rest of the ride.

Bike Start Try Andy's Tri

During races this short, I tend to just go by feel; as in, I just go as hard as I can. I don’t want to see my heart rate data and don’t need to see pace. So with that, I just went. I caught up with Liz and then the guys were nowhere to be seen after a few minutes and so there we were in no man’s land just pedaling away. Keeping the intensity up in that situation can be difficult but with a race this short (and being as cold as I was), I just tried to stay focused on the moment and “push push push.” Another little equipment challenge was my racing suit; it actually had at some point come unzipped! A few miles into the race, I felt a little draft and looked down to discover my stomach was uncovered….whoops! I couldn’t zip it up with one hand so I just left it.

The 10 miles passed quickly and before I knew it, I was turning in for T2. I’m a little better at flying dismounts so no quotes needed here :) It certainly wasn’t my fastest transition but I made it out and my cold hands finally were able to snap my race belt buckle. This time I chose to wore a visor as well – with the new short hair, I get some crazy helmet hair! And let’s be honest, a girl is always thinking about that.

Bike Exit Try Andy's Tri

So off I went out of transition and onto the run. I knew Liz and the others were close behind. My feet felt so heavy from being cold. I could hear them “clomp clomp clomp” along the road but I just tried to stay relaxed, leaned forward, and went. My goal, again, was to go as hard as I could. I was most nervous about this portion. Perhaps the numb feet helped me not to think about my left heel too much. After about 1 mile, I didn’t see anyone in front or behind me – the loop had quite a few turns inside of a neighborhood so straightaways weren’t very long. The course was 2 loops so that’s always fun because you get to see your supporters twice! By the end of the first loop, my lungs were definitely feeling that cold air…they were tight. The second loop I had a bit more company since there were now more runners out there. Run Try Andy's Tri

I was surprised how good I felt and just kept on pushing hard. I’m sure if it was a course any longer, I would have begun to bonk a tad just due to the fact that I have very little run mileage on my legs and feet. But I was able to finish strong and came out the overall female winner for the day.

Awards 2 Try Andy's Tri

As always, I had fun catching up with racing friends, teammates, and some of my junior athletes I coach from TriElite Racing afterwards as well. They did quite well and definitely made me (as always) a proud coach!

TriElite at Try Andy's Tri

All in all, it was a great race and a perfect way to cap off the season. I’ve only raced a mere 3.5 triathlons this year (the half was a relay) due to the 1) broken hand and 2) plantar fasciitis. But the non-race experiences are just as valuable (if not more, sometimes) and I’m sure they’ll come in handy in the future. Now I’m off to enjoy a little R&R while reflecting on this past season and looking forward to the next!

Patience: a hard earned virtue

I know, I know….you’ve heard that “patience is a virtue” a million times before. And it’s true, it is. But that doesn’t make it any easier to actually emulate. I have re-learned this (again) over the past few weeks of off season.

You see, the idea of off season SOUNDS fantastic – no structure and nothing to HAVE to do for 3 weeks. Awesome, right?! Well that lasts for maybe 3 days, max. As an endurance athlete, I’m naturally (just a teeny bit) OCD/type A/etc. I like checking things off the list. I love pushing myself. I experience a ton of fulfillment from chocking my days full to where by the end of them, I’m utterly exhausted. So when there’s nothing to be checked, no pushing to be done, and too many free hours in the day…I certainly feel a void.

Beyond just the 3 week off season, this racing season has left much to be desired. I raced a mere 4.5 races (the half being a sprint relay). Last year, in comparison, I raced a total of 12 times. And my foot still isn’t completely healed. It’s difficult not to let these stats shake my confidence and take a stab at my motivation.

I’m attempting to look at this in a few different ways though…

First, I’m trying to bottle up the boredom and pack it away for a much busier time of year. It’s no secret that Clint and I have had a very full first year of marriage. We searched for and bought a house. We moved away from home. Our second nephew was born! We became dog parents. I broke my hand. Our second niece was born! I trained for (and finished!) IMTX. My brother graduated. Clint changed jobs. We rented out our house. We moved back home. Clint got another new job. I went through the certification process to be a USAT Youth & Junior Coach. I coached the TER kids.  Etc. Etc. Etc. I’m tired all over again just thinking about it. So even though I’m experiencing down time right now, I know it won’t last forever. So as much as I can, I’m cherishing these slow days.

Secondly, I’m trying to look at the bigger picture here. This is a mere 3 weeks out of the year. Heck, even if I have to take more time out of racing, it’s a single season. That’s it. A drop in the bucket. In addition to just the time factor, there’s an even bigger picture to see once I step back. There’s more to life than just training and racing. Yes I am very blessed to have the athletic talent, ability, and opportunity to race in S/B/R. But I am also very blessed in many other areas of life as well. I have a wonderful husband, a phenomenal family, a great education, a secure degree and CPA license, my health, a roof over my head…and the list goes on. Further, I can do more things with my athletic ability and background than just train and race. I can become a better coach! I can coach more. I can do things like this – write about my experiences – in hopes that I somehow, in some way, am helping others.

Lastly, I’m hitting the reset button. I’m focusing a ton on rehabbing my foot and doing everything I possibly can think of to get it back to square 1. I had some V02 testing done by Liz Baugher (my fellow competitor and friend!) at Third Coast Training. I’m going to the gym and acting like a normal person, working out for overall health and not necessarily in preparation for a race. I’m checking those overall health appointments off the list that I’ve neglected for awhile. We’re acting like young people again and hanging out past bedtime with our friends. Clint and I are making a plan for where we want to permanently live in Houston and what we need to do to make that happen. I’m reorganizing, reprioritizing, and (making an attempt at) relaxing.

Because at the end of the day, it’s not the to-do lists that we’ve completed, the races that we’ve won, or the successes that we’ve had that will matter or last…it’s the relationships, the memories that we’ve made, and the people whom our lives have touched that will live on forever.

Enjoy YOUR off season! Relish it and take it all in, it will surely pass by in a flash.

It’s All About Attitude

We have about 3 months to cover. Sigh. I’ve had a bit of a writer’s block lately though and just really didn’t have too much to say. It has been a challenging few months on the motivational side of training and racing but looking back, it has provided me with some other great opportunities. It’s all about how you look at it – attitude is everything.

In early August, I raced what turned out to be my last race for several months; that wasn’t really the plan but my foot just hadn’t gotten much better by that point. The good news is that the race did go well – it was the Bridgeland Sprint which is always very well run thanks to the folks at Onurmark Productions. ORR managed to sweep the women’s podium. It certainly wasn’t an easy win (that’s what happens when your coach is a rock star athlete and makes you work up until the final mile!) and left me feeling a little more confident in my running abilities. Since my foot had been bothering me all Summer, we scaled back my mileage quite a bit. I really wasn’t too sure what sort of pace I could pull off so I was quite pleased with the results.

Bridgeland swim

Trying to chase down the speedy Liz Baugher!

BL2013_BMISC001298 1180 1167 13

Post race, with a few of my TriElite Racing athletes

  BL2013_bikedr003648  13 orr 2Bridgeland PodiumAfter that race, the very same day actually, we left for our annual family vacation in New Braunfels, TX. Lots of good times were had by all! It’s always nice to get away to train and play in new scenery and of course, spend time with those I hold so dear.

photo 3 photo 2(1) photo 1I came back refreshed and ready to tackle the last month of the TriElite Racing Summer Program, the directing of my first race, and my own training with the hopes of preparing for another IM in the Fall. By this point though, my foot was letting me know that we were nowhere near being past the plantar fasciitis. Rather than going away after a few miles, the pain stuck through each and every mile of each and every run, ugh. I’m so glad I had all of those other opportunities to distract me from the frustration!

Our first annual Splash ‘n Dash Through the Woods went off without a hitch the following week and it was truly an awesome experience to be able to witness months of planning come to fruition. The best part of the day was seeing the kids’ smiles on their faces as they swam and ran through the course. Their joy was contagious! It made all of the anxiety, hard work, and the extra early morning more than worth it. I was also extremely touched by all of the volunteers who showed up to help me out with the set up and working the race; just wow!

The rest of August brought with it more change. We were blessed with a new job offer for Clint and a brand new hair do for me: those are equally important, right?! I literally chopped it all off. It’s SO much easier now – I love it. By the end of the month, my foot was still not better and I had to decide whether or not to race Towne Lake Triathlon. After much debate and internal struggle, Michelle and I decided it wasn’t worth the risk. Furthermore, we also made a plan to completely take off from running for the next month or so. With that came a new healing plan of twice per week visits to the Chiro to do a combination of electric stimulation, Erchonia laser therapy, and ultrasound along with regular stretching and frozen water bottle rolling.

September brought with it the start of college football and my first ever road race! That was quite an experience. From the outside looking in, I knew it was way different from triathlons but actually doing it helped me understand that even more. I had tons of fun pulling the gals around that hot and hilly course for the day! Needless to say, I finished nowhere near the top. A 40K time trial does not equate to a sprint finish :-)

In the feed zone! Photo courtesy of Shama Cycles.

In the feed zone! Photo courtesy of Shama Cycles.

Now that we’re at the start of October and Fall is officially upon us, I can’t believe how fast the past few months have flown by. I’m happy (and very nervous) to say that I think my foot is getting better! I never knew how victorious and satisfying a painless 2 mile easy run could feel. Although my race plans for the rest of the season are not for sure and likely slim to none, I’m just happy to see progress. I’m constantly reminding myself to keep the big picture in mind. It’s so easy to get down and feel sorry for yourself when you’re injured or something isn’t going as you had hoped but it’s also easy to see how blessed you are as well. You choose (or not) to be happy: attitude is everything.

Lately.

Where to begin…it has been a VERY packed couple of months since IMTX. Besides the typical recovery and getting back into training, quite a bit has changed. Again, they don’t call it the “tumultuous twenties” for nothing!

This had been in the works since mid-Spring and a few weeks after IMTX, Clint (the hubby, for anyone that may be new) sat for his real estate exam and successfully passed, woo hoo! I’m so proud of him; he prepared for a couple of months leading up to it and all of his hard work paid off. So once we got that news, we quickly put our tentative plan into action to list our home for rent and make steps to come back home to Houston. We knew (eventually) that we wanted to come back home. Well some events occurred in Clint’s position that led us to that move sooner rather than later. At the same time, a few new opportunities had come up for me back in Houston through ORR so everything was falling into place. Our house leased very quickly (before we even put it on the market, actually!) and within about 3 weeks, we were out of there.

photo(32)

My brother and I during the packing process. Thanks for your help B!

photo(33)

Family portrait on our back deck for the last night; I miss it!

photo(35)

A toast to (another!) big move back home.

Between then and the time we moved, I began to help out with the TriElite Racing Junior Summer Tri program as well. So back and forth I went until the move was permanent; 290 and I became great friends. I am absolutely loving the additional role of coaching the kids. It’s so very gratifying to pass on and share in the love of our sport, especially to such a young audience. They work hard and make me laugh: what more could you ask for?!

On the training and racing front, after a few easy weeks and 3 of not running at all (but who’s counting? – I WAS, that’s who :-)), I tried to put a few easy miles in. Well the foot had other plans. Leading up to IMTX, I was feeling some left heel pain but managed to get through the training and honestly didn’t even feel it during the race. I think I mentioned that in my race recap. That darn burn was all that I was thinking about during the 26.2 miles.

So clearly, I thought that several weeks off of running would take care of any left over plantar fasciitis issue. But boy was I wrong! In came any and all sorts of treatment I/we could think of. From rest, ice, and aqua jogging to night splints, orthotics, and lacrosse ball rolling…you name it, I’ve done it! A few weeks back I went and got a cortisone injection as well. That seemed to help more and now I’m easing my way back into it, hoping that I’ll be fully back into it sometime soon. Patience, patience, patience: it will forever be a lesson that I learn over and over again.

photo(36)

A lovely shot of some post ART/Graston therapy done by the one and only Dr. Sam of Dynamic Health and Wellness: “hurts so good!”

Due to my uncooperative foot, I haven’t been able to race again, yet. I’m hoping that I will be able to do so in the next few weeks but we shall see.

In summary/to recap: a job change for Clint, a new position for me, an injury to recover from, a pack up/move out, a move in, and new roommates (ie, my parents) = quite a bit of uncertainty. (Oh yeah – and somewhere in there, we also took a trip to Vegas!) With all of that uncertainty comes the tendency to doubt and to feel like you’re just sort of walking blindly through it all. BUT a few things are constant in my life: the Lord’s love, my supportive hubby, wonderful family/friends, a great team and coach, dedicated athletes, and awesome opportunities to glorify Him in all that I do. It’s so easy to forget about all of these blessings in day to day life. I’m determined though and through prayer and reflection, I will continue to carry on, knowing that He has a plan.

My mom found this gem in the bookstore the other day and I think it provides some wonderful parting words of wisdom. Until next time folks, just keep on moving and trucking along!

photo(34)

 

 

IMTX: Gamut of Emotions!

Whew, I can now officially say with pride, “I am an Ironman!” Which means I can buy all the M dot stuff I want, and that’s what really matters, right?! I kid, I kid. But it is a nice perk ;-)

Breathtaking (in more ways than one) is how I’d sum up the day on Saturday. What an amazing experience! It’s pretty difficult to  convey all the emotions that go into your first Ironman race. I had quite a few people tell me how special it is but I don’t think I ever could have guessed just what they meant. The fact that conquering the race distance is in itself an experience, I topped it off by choosing to do it for the first time in my hometown. And that just took the entire day up at least 10 notches. The support out there was incredible. Not only did I have my hubby, family, and friends at the race (including Colleen who flew down from Denver just for the race!) but I also had the support of my teammates, my own athletes, tons of triathlon community contacts, and the list goes on. I don’t have many pictures of the day yet but I do have a few and most of them are courtesy of teammates out there on the course who were spectating and supporting all day.

The morning started off rather smoothly and I (surprisingly) woke up fairly well rested. After getting all my gear on and topping off the tank with some breakfast, we were on our way to the Woodlands. I checked my bike in and triple checked all of my loot to make sure it was ready to go. From there, we made the hike with the crowds over to Northshore Park. Everything started happening so quickly from this point on. I went to gather by the team and before I knew it, they were calling for us to get into the water for warmup time. Ready or not, this was it!

Swim: “Boom!” The cannon went off and like they always do, the nerves just flushed away. My plan was to go out as hard as I could handle to try to keep some feet. Since we started with the pro men, it was a decently large group with plenty of bubbles to choose from. At first I was aiming to hang on to some of the gals but quickly discovered that the pack thing is totally different in IM than in Oly racing. Everyone spreads out just a bit more than I was used to. I hung on to a guy’s draft for a bit but then he started to veer to the left when most were going more towards the right of the course. So I opted to just keep my straight path to hopefully catch up with some others. As I got close to the first turn, I ran into another guy (who I actually recognized and knew was Mike Hermanson!) on his feet for a bit (sorry Mike!) since we seemed to be going very similar paces. At this point, I just tried to stay steady and relaxed, following my plan of breaking the swim into thirds with the middle being a bit easier. I don’t even know what I thought about during that hour but “just keep swimming, just keep swimming” (channeling my inner Nemo) popped into my head a lot. Before I knew it, I was making the turn into the waterway channel. Woo hoo! I caught a glimpse of my family on the shore and they started to walk with me as I swam – that was awesome. My right hip flexor started talking to me a bit so every few minutes I took the kick down a notch to hopefully get it to relax a little bit. That seemed to work and I exited the water ready to take on the road! I had no idea what my time was but I was happy to be on dry land again.

Bike: Once through the change tent, I headed over to my bike and noticed the clock ready 58ish minutes, woo hoo! I was aiming for a sub hour swim and it looked like I had done it. That gave me a shot of confidence as I loaded up and grabbed my bike. My heart rate was a bit elevated at this point, probably just from adrenaline, so I tried to settle down and just relax. There was no need to get too crazy at mile 1 of 112! I kept remembering what a teammate (and former pro) had told me before the race “It’s not about the bike. It’s all about the run. Stay conservative.” Boy was I glad she reminded me of that. After a few miles, I seemed to be right where I expected so I settled in for the long haul and started enacting the very vital nutrition plan. Basically: hydrate a ton and take in a bunch of electrolytes and some gels as well to conquer the heat. Between whistling, singing in my head, repeating my favorite Bible verses, and thinking about what to consume next, the miles really did fly by. Before this day, I couldn’t fathom what on earth I was going to occupy my mind with but honestly, it seemed to take care of itself.

I had told my “support crew” that I would ideally love to see them twice on the bike. Well boy did they blow that out of the water! I lost count of how many times I saw them, haha. It was incredible! They would drive to a spot, get out and cheer, and then move on down the course. I loved it. There were also some very cool OutRival Racing signs put up all over the course, made by our resident team photographers, Corey and Brittani Oliver. Thanks y’all!

I was also nervous about how I’d handle the wind. After spending about 6 weeks of crucial build up time inside on the trainer, my confidence with weather conditions wasn’t great. But really, the wind was manageable. Sure it was rough at a few spots but it seemed to only last for a few miles here and there. By the time I was heading back to the Woodlands, the sun was definitely out and it got hot quickly! At that point though, I was still excited about the run. The rest of the miles are a blur until I made it back to where locals were out and about cheering as all of the racers came back into their area. I made the turn under Woodlands Parkway and soon after had my feet out of my shoes, ready to run!

Run: Here’s where the day got tough. I felt pretty darn good up to this point. I gladly gave my bike up to a volunteer and ran on to get my loot from the bag area. “Hot, hot, hot!” I remember saying as I made my way across the concrete and into the change area. I was greeted by a few teammates who were volunteering. They were so quick to put on my race belt for me, spray me with more sunscreen, and pump me up! I’ve never experienced such an easy and hands-off transition – awesome! I grabbed a high five from another pro gal, Malaika Homo, as I headed out to the course.

As my feet started carrying me, I quickly realized something was seriously wrong with my left foot. This was the foot I was nervous about since I have a little plantar irritation but this wasn’t my plantar. The ball of my foot felt raw. I thought it might have been a blister but then quickly connected the “hot, hot, hot” moment with the pain. “I burned my darn foot! Ouch. Holy cow!” That was basically all I thought about the first few miles. I approached the first special needs opportunity and decided I’d try one of my band aids on that foot. Stopping was certainly not in the plan but I had to try to manage this pain if I was going to run 25+ more miles on it. I slapped it on and put my shoes back on, in hopes of some relief. No such luck. This was going to be about survival.

run IMTX 2I then realized I needed to start thinking about fueling for the miles ahead and enacted nutrition plan #2. The heat was brutal, the air was thick, and the sun shining blazing down. I reached the East Shore area and spotted Coach Michelle up ahead on her bike. It was a major relief to see her and hear some much needed words of motivation. I knew the Waterway was next and from what she had told me, this was where the energy was. “The crowd will carry you,” I remember her describing that section. And my goodness was she right! The cheers, encouragement, crazy costumes, and loud music were outstanding. I saw my family and friends. Another one of my good friends, Laine, had joined them at this point in the race and I loved seeing her smiling face – it provided new fuel to my fire! From that lap on, my mantra was “just make it to the Waterway.” The cheers and supporters in those middle miles, off of the Waterway, were definitely necessary to keep me going. I seriously owe the run to anyone and everyone who cheered.

run 3 IMTXThe miles seemed to drag on at the time but looking back, they seemed to fly by. I can’t separate them out in my head. I suppose I was looking at it lap by lap. Lap #1 was mentally tough but at least I had crossed one off the list. By the middle of lap #2, I reached the halfway point and sang “oooooh, you’re halfway there, ooooooh living on a prayer!” That’s always a favorite when I reach the hump of anything so it gave me a little boost to know that all I had to do was repeat what I had just done. The beginning of lap #3 hurt physically but before I knew it, I was approaching the last few miles. I knew I would finish. This was it. As I passed my dad and brother for the final time, “I love you’s” were exchanged and I started to get emotional. I tried to muster up some more smiles and squeak out some energy for the finish line photo op. I rounded that u-turn in the finish chute and headed up the small hill (which seemed huge at the time), grabbing some crowd high fives on the way. I don’t remember hearing my name but I’m sure it was announced; I was elated….I “am an IRONMAN.”

finish IMTXI was able to walk forward and was greeted by an ORR teammate who delivered me to Clint. I felt okay but my left foot wouldn’t allow me to put much weight on it and a wave of dizziness crept in as well. Clint convinced me to go to the medical tent just in case so I did. I spent some time getting my vitals checked, a few blisters popped, and joking with the doctor. He was a memorable part of my day and I suppose I impacted him as well; he asked to take a picture with me as I was being released. Looking back, I wished I had gotten one too!

In the back of my mind, I had wanted to go sub 10 hours and although the clock reads 9:54ish, I really finished 10 minutes later since we had a 10 minute head start. With the brutal run conditions though, I’m very proud of the finish which was strong enough to get me on the podium. Like I said above, I owe the run to supporters and everyone cheering out there. But I owe the entire race to my coach, Michelle LeBlanc, and husband, who both kept me going all of these months even when the broken hand threatened to slow me down a bit. What an incredible journey! The smile in this picture says it all.

post finish IMTX