About Me

When I was 8, I was always the last one picked for dodgeball. Now at 29, I'm training for my first Ironman.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Lady in Waiting

Now I know what it feels like to be 9 months pregnant and just waiting ... Ok, maybe not exactly.  But I imagine it's similar.  Or maybe like a prisoner on death row, waiting for execution day.  Ok, not that one either.  But it's somewhere in the middle of those two.  Regardless, I am happy to report that I am calm and excited, not nervous or nauseous as I expected.

This has been a great week.  We left Fresno on Monday and drove to Bend, Oregon.  We enjoyed a nice relaxing day in Bend on Tuesday and then made the rest of the trip to Coeur d'Alene (sp?) on Wednesday.  We emptied our bank accounts at the Ironman store on Thursday, got in a little bit of swimming, cycling and running on Thursday, Friday and today.  And we waited.  A lot of waiting.  It has been a really nice relaxing vacation.  I've read a lot, had some great food and had a lot of fun.  But seriously, I'm tired of waiting.  I'm ready to be an Ironman.

I have plenty of pictures to go along with plenty of stories from this week, but I'm too lazy to email them from my phone and upload them right now, so that will have to wait.  Which is fine, because my favorite moments from this week haven't been captured on film at all.

Like Tuesday when we we decided to go swimming at the resort we were staying at in Bend.  And it turned into an impromptu swim lesson from our resident expert swimmer, Becki.  We all ran back to our room to get goggles and worked on our swim strokes in our regular bathing suits in that little pool with confused tourists looking on.

Like Thursday night when, after a day of shopping and then sitting around reading, and then eating bbq for dinner ... I just needed to run.  So one of my fellow Ironmen-to-be went out there on a little Mongoose bike (the condo where we're staying at lets us use them) and rode alongside me for 5 miles at 9:30 at night.  A taper tantrum at its finest.  But I felt so much better afterwards.

Like yesterday in the lake when I stopped thinking about how cold it was and just thought ... it isn't "if", it's "when."  I'm going to swim 2.4 miles in that frigid lake.  And then get on with my day.

Like on our bike ride yesterday morning when I made Becki stop with me to pick two of the biggest dandelions I have ever seen (seriously the size of baseballs) and make a wish.  I can't tell you what my wish was.  But I bet you could take a guess.

Like today when I had to re-charge my phone 3 times because it was blowing up all day with well wishes from so many friends who I know are cheering us on.  There are so many good people in this world.  I'm lucky to have a lot of them in my corner.

I am so excited about tomorrow.  I just can't even explain it.  The weather might be crazy.  The water might be cold.  My special needs bag might get smashed (I hope not - I have watermelon in it!).  I might get a flat tire.  Or 4 (but not 5, I only have 4 extra tubes).  The sky might fall.  The world might end.  The only thing I can control is my attitude.  And I choose to SMILE.  Because sometime before midnight tomorrow, I will come down that finishing chute, high fiving every person along the way and wearing a smile the whole time.  And I will be an Ironman.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Time to Say Good-bye

Please excuse me, but this one might be a bit sappy.  It's been an emotional weekend, and now I'm all packed up, waiting for the last leg of the journey to Ironman to begin ... the 18 hour drive to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho (which, conicidentally, I still had to google for spelling).

I had a decent final week of training/tapering in Fresno (heavy on the taper, light on the training).  I was travelling for work Monday through Wednesday so I just ran and then swam one afternoon at a downtown gym pool in Sacramento between appointments.  That was one of those trainings that really felt Ironman-esque - not because it was intense or anything like it - just because I was willing to do anything to make sure I got it done - like walk several blocks in heels, pay a $30 daily use fee, swim in a tiny two lane pool in a bricked in room, jump in a lane where 2 people were already swimming and spend my whole workout darting around them since they refused to do a loop swim, and then have my last client meeting of the day with wet hair and a weird explanation.  You do what you've gotta do.

The real highlight of the weekend was the send-off party that Bob and Becki hosted for all of us doing the event and the supporters who have seen us through the training.  I had no idea how many people from Fresno will be travelling to Idaho this week to take part in this same adventure.  It was exciting to meet them all and to share stories from our training.

The Fresno Contingent for Ironman CDA 2012!

This weekend was more about packing and making plans then it was about training.  Packing was by far the longest training exercise I had all week. It was a multi-stage process that kept me up late last night, and I'm sure I forgot something, but I'm also sure there's a Target somewhere between here and Idaho.

Swim. Bike. Run. In Style.  Go Ironmanda!

This will get me through only 14-16 hours of the next 10 days but is the bag that took the longest to pack.

I was able to squeeze in one last bike ride with my dear understudy, Kelly, and my friend Rochelle on Sunday morning.  We just rode easy out to the Shell Station in Friant and back. On the way back, I got a flat tire, on the back.  And I changed it in less than 5 minutes.  I'm getting pretty good at this.

Love her.

On Sunday afternoon, I went up to Bass Lake to see my grandpa for fathers day.  I jumped off the boat and swam to the shore.  No wetsuit, no goggles.  Just me in a red bikini.  I felt strong and healthy and adventurous.  And that's what this is really all about. I wasn't always adventurous, and I wasn't always the type of person you'd point to and say "I bet she'll do an Ironman." I have spent much of my adult life forcing myself out of my comfort zone, sometimes painfully so, but almost always to wonderful results. 

It really hit me on the way back that from my ride Sunday morning that this is it.  Even though the event is still a week away, the journey is already coming to an end.  When I signed up for Ironman last summer, it was because I wanted to spend more time with these amazing people that I had grown closer to while training for Barb's Race (half-ironman) last summer.  I wanted to smile the whole time like I saw Kelly Irwin do when she completed Vineman last year.  I wanted to go on crazy, endless bike rides with Dave Kurtze, and Jason Miller and Michelle Eskew.  I wanted to meet Bob and Becki McKee for Friday night swims at the lake. In a lot of ways, the training has lived up to all of my expectations, and in some ways it hasn't ... but that's been ok too.  Michelle got hurt and I missed out on training with her - but she'll be back and there will be plenty more miles to bike.  Friday night swims turned into Tuesday or Thursday or Friday mornings ... but they were just as fun, and even more beautiful.  Dave Kurtze led us on plenty of crazy bike rides, and one hot afternoon last week, I was even able to keep up with him and Jason.  And most importantly, I have smiled a lot.  And I'm confident that I can channel a little bit of IronKelly next Sunday and let her mockingjay pin carry me through the rough patches : )

This has also been a solo journey in a lot of ways too though.  It is completely impossible to have someone there with you for every single training (although Kelly and Jason came close).  And in the end it will be a solo journey on Sunday too.  And like it or not, that's what I need, to know that I can do this on my own - without my faithful friends - Kelly, Jason, Dave, Mark, Rudy, Matt, Katie, Jill, Steve, Christine, Cheryl, Bob, Becki, Shelley and so many others that have swam, biked, or run with me along the way.  But someone once told me that there is a difference between being lonely and alone, and I know that I will not feel lonely for a single stroke, pedal, or step.  They will be with me all the way.

What I saw when I opened my garage to leave for my bike ride yesterday .. and a beautiful reminder that I am lucky to have spent so much of the last 6 months exploring the amazing world we live in.

Monday, June 11, 2012

May the odds be EVER in your favor...

Wow! What a crazy week - full of snakes, grasshoppers, fires, chile verde and even a mockingjay!

Had a good week of workouts - long swim at the gym Tuesday, solo bike ride to Sheri's and back on Wednesday (really made myself work hard!), another good bike ride to Friant with Jason and Dave on Thursday (I kept up!), and a swim across the lake and back on Friday morning with 4 of my friends who are also doing Ironman CDA! The water was so perfect and calm on Friday too - it was like the lake thanking us for putting up with it while it's been so windy and choppy.

Took this picture of myself while riding back from Sheri's ... that's right - gone are the scaredy cat days of keeping the hands at 10 & 2!
Ironmen to Be!! Shelley, Chris, Bob, Becki and Me!

Saturday's schedule called for a short bike/long run brick.  It was fun.  I rode my bike from my house, just out to the top of Hospital Hill and back and then ran to Starbucks to meet Katie.  She graciously ran nice and easy with me ... but fast enough to get away from the monster snake on the trail!

Look at the snake!  It was spread across the whole trail before I started getting my camera out...

I swear we didn't plan to be twins

As if this wasn't enough activity for Saturday, I went to Jason's kid's b-day party at SkyWalk - a gigantic warehouse just filled with trampolines and kids.  Not sure how their liability insurance allows it, but adults are allowed to jump too, so we did.  That was a tough workout!  Ironman training did not prepare me for it...

No Ironmen-to-be were hurt in the making of this photograph

Sunday's schedule called for a 3 hour bike and 25 minute run.  I was originally planning on riding with a group to Superior Dairy in Hanford for ice cream, but a lot of people couldn't come so we decided to change our plan. I was bummed, but in retrospect, that would have been 70-80 miles - a lot more than I needed.

Instead, me, Jason and Kelly rode out to the Peach Blossom Cafe where Kelly's husband met us for breakfast.  We stuffed our faces and then rode the 20 miles back.  My chile verde omelet turned out to be not nearly as bad of a choice as I thought.  Maybe I'll stuff one of those in my special needs bag... Kelly's husband, Dave, was very clever and drove their sedan rather than their SUV so we couldn't be tempted to ask for rides home : )

Wait .. we have to ride home now?

The weekend's animal apocalypse continued on the way home when we road straight through a mile of grasshoppers covering the road.  As we rode through them, they jumped all over us.  Kelly is deathly afraid of grasshoppers, so this was quite entertaining ... until one jumped right onto my mouth.  Ewwwwwww!  I guess that was karma for making fun of Kelly.

The excitement didn't end there.  As we rode through the park to get home, there was a huge fire right in Woodward Park!  Of course, we stuck around to see all the excitement ...

Surpisingly, the firemen were not the highlight of my weekend .. that honor would go to my Ironman send-off gift from my dear friend, Kelly.  While I was hoping the gift was going to be her stowing away in my suitcase and doing this thing with me, she gave me the next best thing ... my very own Mockingjay pin to keep me safe and victorious at the Hunger Games Ironman.

And when I finally sat down last night to read the official Ironman Athlete's Guide, I realized this might be a little bit more like the Hunger Games than I originally anticipated ... if you break the rules you have to sit in a "penalty box" ... you can hold onto a kayak during the swim to take a break but you cannot use it to help you make "forward progress" ... and the run course description claims there is one "defining" hill.  What kind of description is that?!  13 days...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

You're Almost There...

That's the worst thing to say to someone while spectating an endurance event.  Hands down.  Even if they are almost there.  Seriously, ask any endurance athlete and they will agree.

But that said, I'm almost there.  In 19 days, I will be an Ironman.  *Note that confidence - this is not "I'm going to try to be an Ironman." or "I might die."  I know now - I've got this.

Last week's trainings were a little sketchy because I was travelling for work, but I was ok with that considering the crazy weekend I'd had (90 miles bike, 20 miles run, Alcatraz swim).  This weekend was pretty great too.

On Saturday, Jason and I did the Bass Lake Olympic Distance Tri.  I was very happy with how I did - no PR or anything on this super hilly course, but I placed in my age division for the first time ever in a triathlon (2nd place, missing 1st by just 4 seconds!) and just overall felt really good.  I also tried out my race day wardrobe (tight run shorts - aka booty shorts - under the wetsuit for the swim, pulling on cycling shorts over booty shorts for the bike only and then off again for the run to save time in transition- winning!) and nutrition (margarita shot blocks, gu, and then pop tarts will be my secret weapon).  Overall, a good dress rehearsal.

My mom came to spectate and was pleasantly surprised to see that I seemed so happy and not in pain at the end.  Not true of some of the events she has seen me at before : )

I'm smiling bigger than him because I beat him.

The swim felt like it was too long (and it was only 2 minutes faster than my Wildflower swim which should have been .3 miles longer .. hmm..) but I felt strong regardless, especially at the end of the swim.

My goal on the bike was to keep it in a low gear on the hills and just spin up - no getting up out of the saddle and trashing the legs for the run.  I really focused on thinking about a lot of the tips my friends have been giving me for bike form and technique too and worked on staying in the aeros as much as possible.  The run is my strength, so I need to save myself for that.  And it worked!  Aside from a quick pause to give poor Jason my extra tube as he sat stranded on the side of the road with a flat and a busted replacement tube, my bike was good. Oh, and that of course meant that I beat him.  (Which he quickly said didn't count and accused me of sabatoging him since I had been nice enough to pump his tires before we started - nice guy ; )

Then came the run.  I. Rocked. It.  45 minutes flat for the 10K.  That's only 3 minutes off my 10K PR and here's the clencher - I was not necessarily trying to run fast.  I knew I had a long day of running the next day, so I told myself to just let the pace come to me.  It felt great - even on a somewhat hilly course. 

We celebrated with Forks Burgers and then drove home to Fresno so I could make a quick shower/pack transition and get down to San Diego ... except for one little glitch.  On the way home, Jason's new tri bike flew off the freaking rack on the top of his car.  Crazy.  The carbon fork had snapped.  This is the second time in the 6 months he's had it that something bad has happened to that bike.  It's cursed.  I swear.  Poor Jason.  I felt really bad for him.  Good news is, the repair will only be like $400, but still, no bueno.

So, onto my quick shower/pack and then headed on down to San Diego with my fellow Team in Training coaches, Mark and Katie, who had both rocked the Shadow of the Giants 50K that day while I was doing the tri up in Bass Lake.  We made it to SD a little after 10 and were up at 3:30am to get out to the San Diego Marathon. 

This was my first event coaching for Team and I had a BLAST.  Mark and I ran back and forth on the freeway portion of the course (Miles 6-11) for the first three or four hours and then cut up to Fiesta Island where the runners finish their final three mile loop.  We got to run with almost every single one of the runners we coached, including running most of them in for that final 3 mile loop to their first marathon finish.  I was so proud of each and every one of them and it was amazing to share that special experience with them.  Even cooler, when I looked down at my watch after running in our last runner, I had exactly 26 miles logged.  So, of course I left my Garmin on until we got to the Team in Training tent and it said 26.2, and then asked them for my medal. Lol.  I accepted a sandwich and a soda instead.

That long day of running was also good training for me -- I really feel like the Energizer Bunny right now.  I'm confident that I can swim/bike/run forever right now - as long as you let me do it at a slow pace : )  In 19 days, I'll get to prove it!

This week is my last week of double days.  Yesterday, I slept in because I didn't get home until midnight after a long drive, so I just swam 3000m in an hour at the gym  after work, but skipped the bike because it was really windy anyways.  Today I've got a short bike/long run brick in the evening.  Tomorrow is an open water swim in the am and a bike ride in the pm.  Friday might be a good day to revive Friday night lake swim/potluck.  And then this weekend has another short bike/long run brick on Saturday followed by the highlight of my training season - our ride to Superior Dairy in Hanford for ice cream on Sunday! Woo hoo!

And then it's really time to shut it down and rest up... We're almost there...