posted by on Fun

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mustache

Today I am playing along with a questionnaire that is going around on several different blogs.  I was tagged by Sweat Courage’s Kristin and am happy to participate!

Four names that people call me, other than my real name:

1.  Lee-Lee:  This has been used over the years by lots of different people.

2.  Darlin':  Tony’s nickname for me.

3.  Auntie Lee:  This is always sweet to hear because it is said by special people!

4.  That’s all

Four jobs I have had:

1.  Sales Associate in a department store (first job as a teenager)

2.  Waitress (College)

3.  Office Assistant (College)

4.  Finance Professional

Four movies I’ve watched more than once:

1.  Top Gun

2.  A Few Good Men

3.  Forrest Gump

4.  Dirty Dancing

Four things I’m always saying:

1.  I’m cold!  (And it is only November)

2.  I’ll have a glass of Chardonnay…

3.  I’m gonna get my workout in…

4.  I want a taste of something sweet…

Four books I’d recommend:

1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

2.  The Notebook by Nicolas Sparks

3.  A Life Without Limits by Chrissie Wellington

4.  The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Four places I have lived:

1.  Apex, NC (where I grew up)

2.  Wilmington, NC (college)

3.  Raleigh, NC (where I live now)

4.  Only lived three places

Four places I have been:

1.  Hawaii (twice)

2.  Italy

3.  Various Caribbean Islands

4.  Mexico (twice)

Four places I’d rather be right now:

1.  Somewhere tropical enjoying warm weather

2.  In front of a roaring fire (first real cold night of the season and I am really feeling it!)

3.  Wilmington, NC – One of my very favorite places and I never tire of visiting

4. Australia – This is a bucket list item and dream vacation

Four things I don’t eat:

1.  Red onions

2.  Olives

3.  Tofu

4.  Liver

Four of my favorite foods:

1.  Fried Chicken (rarely indulge, but the southern girl in me loves it!)

2.  Breakfast (I know this is a food category, but I love breakfast foods)

3.  Homemade Lasagna

4.  Sushi

Four TV shows that I watch:

1.  Scandal

2.  Modern Family

3.  The Biggest Loser

4.  Carolina Hurricanes hockey

Four things I am looking forward to this year:

1.  A tropical vacation that is being planned for January.

2.  Working toward new goals in racing with the hopes of setting some new PRs.

3.  Fun times with friends and family.

4.  Continuing to live life by trying new things and going new places.

Four People I Tag:

1.  Gabi

2.  Jamie

3.  Courtney

4.  Cynthia

Feel free to play along and answer any of the questions you pick in the comments below!

posted by on Ironman

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This has been a big year for me. Goal accomplishment is always something to be proud of, but pushing yourself past your (thought to be) limits then accomplishing your goal, can really be life changing. I put in all the hours needed to accomplish my goal of becoming an Ironman.  I never once slept through an alarm clock for an early morning training session. I jumped in the pool, laced up my running shoes or climbed on my bike, more times than I could count, when all I wanted to do was chill out on the couch. I had the discipline required to push myself to knock out countless training hours. I am proud of myself for this. I did the work!!!

Besides myself, the biggest contributor to my success is my husband.  I have mentioned Tony so many different times on the blog in reference to something he has done to support me while I worked to fulfill my dream. Well, today, we are celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary and I could not think of a better time or a better way, to truly explain what a big part he has played in making this year and this accomplishment so special.

Surround

I think it is only appropriate to start (kind of) from the beginning. He has always had faith in me to do things way before I ever believed I could. He would not always vocalize it, and never pressured me, but when I told him I was ready to train for my first triathlon in 2009, it was no surprise to him. He knew I would get to that point even before I did. I remember one Fall when I told him that I wanted to do an Olympic distance tri the following race season and he said “you can totally do that now”.  As I increased distances and challenges by signing up for 70.3’s and ultimately Ironman, he always had faith that I would be able to reach my goals.

Even before my first triathlon, when I started riding my bike on the road, he always rode with me and encouraged me. He (usually) remained patient with me…any of the times he didn’t, I was the one being hard headed! When I started riding with groups, I was often intimidated because I felt I was the slow one, but he continued to encourage me and always stayed with me if I fell behind!  He never gave up on me…even the times when tears were involved! He taught me so many lessons and gave me tools I needed to build my confidence (as I was stepping WAY out of my comfort  zone) and become a stronger athlete!

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I cannot tell ALL that he did this year during my Ironman training. To touch on some of the things that made such a big difference…

He logged many miles with me on the bike. He never let me ride alone and “closed the gap” on most of my rides. For instance, when I could find people to ride with me for 60 miles, but the total I needed was 90, he would ride that final 30 with me and pull me when I needed to be pulled and would talk me through the tough miles. He would run with me on my long runs or accompany me on his bike, when the runs got really long, so that I would not be out on the Greenway by myself when it started to get dark. He kayaked along side of me on lots of long swims since very few people actually want to open water swim for 75 or 90 minutes. He made sure dinner was done so that I could have something good to eat when I was training after work and dinner was not until 8:30/8:45. He tried to reassure me when I would have bad training sessions and all I could focus on was frustration and negativity. He never complained when our together time was cut short in the evening to 15 or 20 minutes because I could not hold my eyes open to watch tv and chill together after late sessions and dinner. He ALWAYS made sure my bike was tweaked and in good shape for all my rides and most importantly, the BIG DAY!!!

I will say that I completely supported him during his two Ironmans. I was so proud when he crossed the finish line because I knew the hours of time he put into his training. However, I could not relate to what he was experiencing or help him train. That was long before I had gotten really active and while my support was genuine, it was very different than what he was able to do for me.

Believing in you

As I ran down the Ironman chute, I saw him standing on the side just at the finish line with a big smile on his face cheering me to the very end. He could not have been at a better place as I ended that journey. He would have been proud of me regardless of how that day played out…whether I met my time goals or had a horrible day. He is my biggest supporter and I could not ask for a better partner to have by my side, whether it is the ups and downs of a “normal” day or as I confront new challenges and chase my dreams.

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posted by on Ironman

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Last weekend we spectated at Beach 2 Battleship (B2B) in Wilmington, NC as a friend of ours participated in her first iron distance triathlon. It was an absolutely beautiful day for a race and being in Wilmington (one of my favorite cities) is always a treat! Tony and I went to college in Wilmington (where we met), I raced my first half iron at B2B in 2012, plus Wilmington was just voted as America’s Best Riverfront in the 10Best Readers’ Choice travel award contest sponsored by USA TODAY.   I have known what a special place Wilmington is for a long time, but now it has been published for the rest of the country to see!  It was a great weekend and we had a blast cheering on our friend and the other triathletes.  We were thrilled to watch her cross the finish line as we knew how much work she put into her training.

When two friends and training partners completed their Ironman goal (Louisville and Chattanooga) since I raced at IMLP, I was able to re-live my epic day in my mind and many of the emotions were revisited as I tracked them on race day. However being at B2B, to cheer on our friend as she went for her goal, really allowed me to reflect on my day and what I was able to accomplish after so much training and hard work. You can’t help be reminded of all the hours of preparation that is required to reach that IM goal.

As I train, I become a bit of a data junkie. My Garmin 910XT works in full force when I swim, bike and run. After workouts, I enjoy analyzing the training data and assessing gains I am making or face the reality of a less than stellar workout. As I posted weekly training updates on the blog, I was able to track training volumes over the course of time. One thing I had not done, until just recently, was review the totals for my Lake Placid training plan. I thought it would be fun to total all my weekly volumes to remind myself of the hours and miles I spent preparing for my first Ironman. This data could also be helpful to someone that is considering signing up for their first Ironman. It is easy to get caught up in thinking about race day and crossing the finish line to hear Mike Reilly call your name, but one must fully consider all the miles and hours that are required leading up to race day!

Im Training Totals

Obviously, all training plans are different and are geared toward one’s individual goals and total miles and hours will vary. However, this will give an idea of my experience.

Since this weekend is Ironman Florida, I can’t resist to include this picture of my hubbie since Florida was his very first Ironman in 2008. I was so very proud of him on that day and had NO IDEA the spark that would ignite for me several years later.

Tony IMFL

posted by on General

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My highlight lately was a milestone, but there was so much associated with it that made it so very special! The milestone is that I turned 40 on October 1!  I had so much fun celebrating this birthday, that I can truly say that I brought in 40 with bells on!

Honestly, I need to go back to July 27, when I completed Ironman. I did not register for an Ironman specifically because I was turning 40 in 2014, but after I realized it, I thought the timing was pretty neat. So, going back more than two moths before my birthday, I was basking in my glory after completing the race, being the fittest I have ever been in my life, while being 39 going on 40!

Then jump to September 27, the weekend before my birthday, when Tony and I were (supposedly) going to a friend’s’ house for dinner. Little did I know that there were lots of other friends also there waiting for my arrival to yell “SURPRISE”. They got me! I had a great night and felt so lucky that so many of my close friends were all together in one place to celebrate.

Photo Booth - Lee & Tony

Tony was the original mastermind but had lots of help to pull off the surprise! They had planned some of my favorite foods, cocktails and dessert!

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There was a photo slide show with tons of pictures through my 40 years. We even had a photo booth to act silly and have something to take as a memoir of the night.   All the little details were covered! I am a lucky girl!!

Photo Booth - Lee & Ro & Kelly

The original plan (the one that I actually knew about) to celebrate my 40th was for us to travel to Boston for a fun weekend. We planned to travel the day after my birthday, so I took Wednesday off (my actual birthday), because who really wants to work on their birthday?!?! (I have never taken a day off work because it was my birthday, but I decided this was the year to do it!) I enjoyed my day to do whatever I wanted to do:)

We had a great time in Boston. Neither one of us had ever been to Boston and we thought it would be a fun city to check out and explore. We were right. We did lots of eating, poking around town and we ran every day!

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Our first run which took us along the Charles River

I always enjoy running when I am traveling because it lets you check out the city in a different way. Even though we pretty much walked everywhere, running the city, is still different to me. Plus, since we frequently saw people running around town, it gave me the extra motivation to do the same. One of our runs took us by the Boston Marathon finish line. Obviously, we had to stop and take a look. I think it is very cool how the finish is painted on the road. There may even be some motivation, by my partner in crime, to train for a race to try to qualify. We will see what he decides down the road!

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Fun at the Fountains – After Dinner One Evening

Boston Park

All of our runs took us through the Public Garden

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I especially liked the trees in the Public Garden.

We really liked the waterfront area.  There was boats of all different sizes!!

We really liked the waterfront area. There was boats of all different sizes!!

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“Old Ironsides”

I had originally scheduled something on my birthday that I have never done before, but it had to be rescheduled. So, this happened the week after my birthday…I got my M-dot tattoo! I am really pleased with how it came out. I had sent pictures to the artist that inspired the design in my mind and she really captured it perfectly. I now have a permanent reminder of a goal that I worked tremendously hard to accomplish and if I ever doubt my strength and determination, I will take a look at my tattoo and forever be reminded!

Tattoo

Amongst all this activity, I am still enjoying and focusing on the flexibility I have in my training routine. I have been successful at incorporating yoga on a more regular basis and as a result, I feel I am getting stronger in my yoga. I also have been doing a bit more strength training and core work. Running and biking (trainer) are still are in the regular rotation but there have been no recent trips to the pool.  There needs to be…soon…

posted by on General

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With the Ironman World Championships starting in just a couple of hours, I decided earlier in the week to share my experience spectating at the 2013 event in Kona. Since I did not have the blog then, I thought it would be fun to share my memories with everyone now!  It has been fun this week going through the hundreds of photos and remembering a truly magical event!

To start off, I will share a little about the race, which is the mack-daddy of ALL Ironmans!!  Most of the readers probably know the basics about this race, but I don’t want to assume everyone does.  A large majority of age-group participants at the IM World Championship in Kona are there because they qualified to be there. The rules can get a bit confusing, especially for the pro athletes and so I won’t even go there, but generally speaking for age groupers, to qualify, they will have done REALLY well at another race, and probably placed in the very top of their age group. Each race is different, but for example sake, my age group, female 40-44, may have two or three slots available, at a particular IM race. Therefore, to qualify for Kona, one would have to come in as the top two or three finishers in their age group. There are also roll down slots and other logistics, but for arguments sake, I wanted to illustrate a basic example.  To elaborate a little bit more, my age group at Lake Placid had 172 women, which shows how tough it is for someone to qualify for Kona. To get to the level of even trying to qualify, one must have lots of time to train.  I would say ALOT more time is required and also very special athletic ability.

World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), the owners of Ironman, have made it possible for others to live the dream to race at Kona by implementing other programs. One of these programs is the lottery.  To join the lottery, one must register and pay a fee in hopes to be one of the 100 selected age groupers. I have heard, that thousands register for the lottery, so odds are not great to be selected. However, our friend Tim, was selected through the lottery, to participate in the 2013 Ironman World Championships in Kona.

When Tim called us with the news in early spring 2013, Tony and I pretty much decided immediately that we would be making the trip to support and spectate.  We had traveled to Maui and Kauai in 2006, and really fell in love with Hawaii.  We had discussed going back one back to the Big Island to witness the IM World Championships.  This was the perfect opportunity!

After months of planning and watching Tim prepare for the big event, October was here and it was time!  Tony and I left for the Big Island on October 8.  We arrived that evening in Hilo.  Our plan was to fly in to the far side of the island (from Kona) and spend the following day (Wednesday) exploring the opposite side of the island as we made out way to Kona.  All in all, I think this plan was a good one as we would not have had the time to see and explore this other area.

After a day of exploring, we made it to Kona (just outside of town) and Tony and I located the rental house where we would be staying.  Nicole (Tim’s wife) found a house that was large enough for all Tim’s supporters to stay.  Tony and I arrived first, followed by Tim’s parents and finally Tim and Nicole.  The last couple would be arriving the following day.

Thursday 10/10/13 – That morning, we made it downtown and immediately felt the buzz and excitement of all the is the World Championship Ironman!  The general plan was for Tim to get checked-in and pick up his bike from TriBike Transport.  We also wanted to check out the expo a bit and just look around.

Tim Check In

Tim enjoyed his first taste of this awesome event!

We had not been in the expo area very long when we hear an announcement that Chrissie Wellington (4-time Ironman World Champion and undefeated at all Iron distance races) would be available in a bit for a meet and greet.  WHAT!  I was thrilled!  I was hoping that I would get the opportunity to have her sign my book, but I did not think the opportunity would come this quickly!  HOW PERFECT!  I brought my copy of her book, “A Life Without Limits”, all the way from NC in hopes I would have this opportunity.  PLUS, I threw it in my bag that morning, so I had it with me there at the expo!

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One of the highlights…meeting this Ironman legend and all around classy lady!

After all my excitement of meeting Chrissie, we all meet up and the last of the support crew, Jeff and Liz, had arrived in town.  We spent the afternoon grocery shopping before having a early dinner in anticipation of the outing planned for the evening…night swimming with MantaRays!  (I originally planned to limit this post to just Ironman related activities or else the post would take hours to write and read…however, this experience was too cool to exclude!)

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Aboard the boat and excited about a new experience of swimming with the Manta Rays!

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The crew ready to head out for an adventure!

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The beauty and grace of the mantas!

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Sometimes referred to as the “Butterflies of the Sea”, these graceful animals are a sight that must been seen in person. Manta rays are beautiful sea creatures that live in warm tropical waters. Their side fins have evolved into wide triangular wings with which they use to “fly” through the water. These wings range from 4-20 ft, making them amongst the largest sea creatures anywhere. The Manta ray is one of Hawaii’s most fascinating and stunningly beautiful sights. (Text from Sunlight on Water website.)

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Unlike most of their relatives, Manta Rays have NO teeth, stinger or barbs and are completely safe to be around.

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Night swimming with the Manta Rays was a fantastic outing and I highly recommend this to anyone that ever has the opportunity.

Friday was filled with more Kona exclusive activities!  That morning, Tim, Tony, Jeff and myself took part in a swim in Kailua Bay from Kaiokekua Beach (where the swim takes place).  There were a couple of really cool things about this swim…(1). The absolute beauty of swimming there with all the beautiful sea life.  It was like swimming in an aquarium!  (2). We swam out to the floating coffee bar that is anchored a few hundred meters off shore for a free taste of coffee.  This is a race week activity that we had a blast participating in!

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Just before our beautiful swim out to have some coffee!!

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Coffee Boat!!

Later that morning,  Tony, Nicole, Jeff and I went out to the infamous Energy Lab for a run.  Ever since we decided that we would be traveling to Kona, Nicole and I talked about wanting to do a run there.

Energy Lab Run

This facility is the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority which is a marine science and technology facility that provides economic opportunities for Hawaii in various areas.

Energy Lab

This may also be considered  to some, as the toughest part of the run course.  The road through the Energy Lab is surrounded by lava fields as is very barren.  Unlike the name may seem, they say that the area zaps your energy versus providing it!  Check out the short video from Triathlete Magazine’s web site that was published a few days ago about the Energy Lab.

Energy Lab Run 2

It was definitely a hot run and we were there much earlier in the day than the triathletes on race day.  It was neat to be able to experience a tiny piece of the course.

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The road through the energy lab (out and back) is surrounded by lava fields.

Mostly along the area of the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway (or the Queen K for short) where the bike course follows, you see signs about that are in support of the athletes that are out training.  This is just s reminder how much this race pretty much takes over the town and not just on race day!  Riding along the Queen K in the car, made me yurn for my bike.  With huge shoulders along the highway, I just felt like going for a ride.  It seems like a great place for locals to ride since you can go for hours basically without making a turn!

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Into the afternoon, we headed back into town for bike check in.  It was awesome to see the variety of bikes out and about and how “sweet” most of them were!

Kona Bike Check

Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) and Andy Potts (USA) with their bikes. (Andy did not start the race due to injury.)

There were lots of neat and fun details around the transitions and the host hotel.

Sites Around Kona

We just had to find Tim’s name amongst the other couple thousand on the banner!

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It was all about Ironman!!!!

The late afternoon and evening was low key with a pre-race dinner prepared by Nicole, with assistance from the group.  It was a great meal to enjoy before all the excitement of the next day.

Saturday 10/12/13 – Race morning was finally here!  We were all up and out early.  Tim and crew (sans me and Tony) followed him for the final send off and good lucks on the race.

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A great shot of Tim as he is all ready to go for the BIG race. (I love the number stickers instead of the typical Sharpie-written numbers).

Tony and I decided to stake out a spot on “the wall” to start the swim.  You definitely had to arrive early to secure a location there.

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The calm before the storm!

It was definitely the place to be and securing spots for us and Nicole allowed us to have prime spectating and picture taking opportunities.

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The water safety patrol on the beach, before they had to head out for duty!

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Spectators line the wall around the swim start…usually 2 to 3 people deep!

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Having fun with the panaromanic setting on the camera. It was a gorgeous morning!

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The sounding of the conch, which signifies the race was starting soon!

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Tony and I were excited to for the race to begin!

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Nicole was all set with her camera to capture Tim’s great day!

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We spotted Tim (and he spotted us) as he was swimming up to the start…that is him waving.

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The cannon sounded and the age groupers were off!

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The craziness of the mass swim start!

The spectating plan for the day was the split up in pairs so we could cover as much of the race course as possible and maximize our Tim spotting opportunities.  We all communicated by phone/text to let each other know when and where Tim had been spotted.

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Tony having fun as we are waiting for the racers at our first stop on the bike course

It was neat seeing the pros on their bikes and trying to recognize a few as they raced by.

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Pete Jacobs, the 2012 IM World Champion (and wearing race number 1).

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Liz Blanchford, raced into third place at her first showing in Kona.

It is always exciting to see the athlete you are supporting on the race course.  Tony and I take our responsibilities very seriously and try to get photos, cheer, lend encouragement, etc. all within a few seconds!  This was out first sight of Tim since before he started the swim.  He looked great on the bike and we knew he was so prepared to tackle this course!

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After Tim passed, we jumped in the car and headed to the next planned point.  We had one failure and it was with our decision in parking that morning, so unfortunately it took us a bit longer to get in route, but we overcame and made it to another great spot for spectating.

We found another good point on the course for spectating.  There was a bit of a hill which meant the athletes were not zooming by as fast as if they were on a flat section.  Also, they were not in aero position which can make it a little easier to recognize people. Once again, we were able to spot several pros on course.

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Meredith Kessler, one of the top U.S. Pros, finished 7th for the day.

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Mirinda Carafrae (“Rinny”) was always easy to spot.

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Tim stayed strong on the bike!

Once again, after Tim passed, we were on a mission to make it to the next stop.  We jumped in the car and headed back into town with plans to spot him early on the run course.

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Tim with a bit of fist pump to recognize all my cheering!

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Could you ask for a more beautiful view while on a run?

We enjoyed this spot on the run because of the ocean view and it was crowded with lots of spectators and support.  However, we were still on a mission to spot Tim again on the course, so we stuck to our plan!

At our new spot, we were able to see more of the pro athletes.

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Frederik Van Lierde out on the course. He ran into first place and finished as Ironman World Champion!

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Sebastian Kienle on the run course headed to a third place finish.

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Craig Alexander (“Crowie”), a legend in the sport as a three time Ironman World Champion and current course record holder. He finished 23rd for the day.

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Rachel Joyce running into second place finish.

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Rinny SMOKING the run course! She was a beast! She won her second championship in commanding fashion setting a new women’s course record with a marathon time only bettered by two pro men.

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This was our last TIm siting before we would see him at the finish line!

After seeing Tim a second time on the course run, shortly before he entered the Energy Lab portion, we made our way back into downtown to stake out at the finish line.

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Waiting at the finish line…the rest of the crew was on the other side of the chute. Fun photo op!

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Tim’s run down the finish chute on Ali’i Drive. This is a dream shared by so many triathletes and Tim really took it all in!!

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Crossing the finish line! He trained so hard for the race and he earned a strong finish.

After Tim’s finish, we all gathered together for well deserved congratulations.  It took a while for us to all find one another but that worked out the best because Tim needed a bit of down time before gathering all the gear to head back to the house to eat and clean up.

Once that was taken care of, we all headed back down to Ali’i drive to support the finishers in the last two hours.  This was something we all really wanted to take part in.  It had been a very long day, especially for Tim, but we knew that the finish line nearing midnight in Kona, was a special place to be.

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The party like atmosphere at the finish line…it was electric!

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The voice of Ironman, Mike Reilly, kept the crowed pumped all evening!

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After her record setting win earlier in the day, Rinny spent the evening having fun with the crowd and welcoming in the finial finishers!

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Harriet Anderson running down the chute.

We saw some amazing things at that finish line.  Harriet Anderson at age 78, finished the event after having a bike crash (she flipped over the guard rail on the Queen K) during the race.  Just a year earlier, she had become the oldest female finisher in Kona.  Harriet was the last official finisher with three minutes before the midnight cut-off.  She is incredible!

A bit after Harriet finished, Mike Reilly really got the crowd pumped up as he spotted a athlete named Karen approaching with less than 2 minutes on the clock.  Everyone on Ali’i Drive was cheering her on and chanting her name with every bit we had.

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Karen Aydelott with Mike Reilly in the finish chute.

Karen was racing with a prosthetic leg after losing her foot in a biking accident years before. She had qualified to make the trip to Kona earlier in the year and NOT in the challenged athlete division. She had issues with her prosthetic leg during the race and lost vaulable time as a result.

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Just passed the 17 hours.

Karen crossed the finish line just after the 17 hour cut-off.  However, she brought so much inspiration to Ali’i Drive.  It was an unforgettable moment.

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We had one last show to close out race day.  This obviously had a special Hawaiian flair and was a neat way to end the amazing day!

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TIm’s beautiful medal!!!

After race day, Tony and I spent one more day on the Big Island and then flew over to Maui for some more fun and relaxation on our favorite island.

I really enjoyed writing this post and sharing these memories.  Hawaii is an absolutely beautiful place and if you have never been, I strongly encourage you to make the trip.  In addition, if you love triathlon and have not experienced Kona during race week, DO IT!  It was a blast and confirmed what I thought I knew about Kona and the World Championship…it is magical!

posted by on Fitness

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As I have mentioned, some of what I have enjoyed recently is having the flexibility to choose workouts based on moods or whims. In addition, not having a training plan to follow has allowed me to focus on other things that I have really needed to focus on. For example, stretching and yoga. This is something that I know IS good for me and I should incorporate it into my regular fitness routine. However, while training for Ironman, I was lucky WHEN I included some level of stretching into my plan. I definitely did not do enough, but it was so hard when days consisted of long training sessions and many two-a-days. When I finally had time after work, training and meals, all I wanted to do was relax or sleep. I would force myself to stretch or foam roll SOME. Over the last few weeks, though, I have been trying to do yoga twice a week. I have been successful in some twice a weeks, but it has been more once a week frequency. Yoga is something I have done now and again over the past few years. There have been some times where I was able to do it on a more regular schedule, but more often not.  THIS…I am working on.

Yoga

I recently stumbled onto an article that mentioned it was National Yoga Month. Well, sure enough…after more googling, September is National Yoga Month! According to the Yoga Health Foundation, September is the official National Yoga Month (a national observance designated by the Department of Health & Human Services) designed to educate about the health benefits of yoga and to inspire a healthy lifestyle. So, in support of National Yoga Month, I thought I would share some thoughts from my experience about the benefits of yoga.

1. Greater flexibility – This first one might be the most obvious. Being more flexible helps with recovery and injury prevention. This is very important for triathletes since we ask a lot of our bodies. According to Active.com,“Triathletes are unique because they compete at peak levels in three physically demanding sports. Over time, this extreme training can cause imbalances in the body, which can result in injury if not addressed. Yoga can help by going beyond simple stretching to work the muscles and joints through all ranges of motion. By working the body through all planes of motion, yoga creates balance, stability, core strength and flexibility.”

Half pigeon pose has become one of my favorite and “go-to” poses over the last several weeks. I have been dealing with an achy glute and tight hips, so this position really targets some of these areas.

2. Builds strength and muscle tone – Who doesn’t like this? There are many yoga moves that require us to hold/balance our own body weight. There have been numerous times that I have done yoga and the next day I was sore. Holding the downward dog position will definitely give your upper body a good workout! There are also lots of great yoga poses that focus on core strength. I don’t know many triathletes that spend enough time working on their core. Building a strong core can benefit in all three disciplines (swimming, biking and running)!

3. Reduce stress – I know that many reading this may say that they will go for a run to reduce stress or to sweat out a bad day. Well, I agree! However, I know that I carry a lot of stress in my shoulders and upper back and while a good run will immediately make me feel better to work out the frustrations of the day, yoga can help with the tightness that builds up in the areas where people tend to “carry stress”.

While I am not a certified fitness instructor or extensively experienced in my yoga practice, the benefits listed above are my opinion and the benefits I have personally realized from doing yoga. I think it is a good idea to experience difference areas of fitness to learn what other activities we might benefit from or just enjoy. I chose to post these in the spirit of sharing. I do not attend a yoga studio, but have numerous videos which I use at home. There are also lots of good options to check out on You Tube as well.

Do you practice regular yoga? What is your favorite yoga pose?

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Life After Ironman

Sep
2014
10

posted by on Fun, Ironman

9 comments

Life after Ironman has been great. August was a really fun month!! Don’t get me wrong…life before Ironman was great too…just super busy! The first several days after we got home from Lake Placid were easy. I was only back home and at work for two days before I headed off to the Outer Banks of NC for a get-away with two college sorority sisters.

Girls Beach

Girl Time!!!

The timing was really perfect. No training to think about. Just enjoying some well-deserved rest and relaxation. It rained almost the entire weekend (yes, I thought I already had my fair share of rain), but we had a good time none the less.

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Enjoying a very short peak of the sun just in time for sunset!

Upon returning home, I had a surprise awaiting me. Tony had gone on a bit of a mission while I was out of town. This is what he had done with my race bib and medal. I love it!!!

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So, after the beach trip, it was back to work. Only a four day work week, but I believe in easing back into things :). It is so very nice to have my morning start at 6:10-6:15am. There were no 4:45am – 5:00am alarms to think about!! I also continued to enjoy my evenings off from training. I did not have a set number of days in mind for recovery…I just wanted to take it easy for while and ease back into activity. Well, so I thought!!

That next weekend we had plans each day of the weekend! The Friday night outing was a cookout with a group of friends…it was a bit of a pre-party for the next evening’s 40th birthday celebration for a good friend of ours.

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At the Birthday Celebration!!

Sunday was a dinner out with a couple friend.  She wanted to hear all about the race, so we had a nice afternoon catching up and chatting!

Rewind a bit to Friday…As we were leaving the cookout, I was talking with two girls that are currently training for their first half-iron distance and iron distance races about the training they were doing the following morning. They had a long run planned and I agreed to tag along. So, my first REAL activity after IM was a 10-mile run…IN THE RAIN!! And yes, AGAIN, I had experienced my fair share of the wet weather, but I wanted to go. I did not necessarily think my first run back would be 10 miles, but I knocked it out, with some achiness.

The following week was another short work week because I took a bit more time off work. That Tuesday afternoon we headed out after lunch for Charlotte. We attended the Linkin Park concert that evening.

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Linkin Park Concert with Great Friends!!

Well, the concert was an absolute blast!!! They are my favorite band and I had an awesome night at their concert. My favorite concert to date!

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Such a Fun Night!!

The following day, we spent time at the White Water Training Center. (The Center’s 500+ acres offers a wide variety of outdoor activities for all ages and skill levels. Guests can enjoy whitewater rafting and kayaking, flatwater kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, rock climbing, zip lines, ropes courses, a canopy tour, and mountain biking on our 25+ mile trail system. (Description from their web site.)) We had heard a lot of positive things about the White Water Training Center and it was fun! Our favorite part was the whitewater rafting. Our guide really showed us a great time!!

The next weekend included more fun dinners. Friday evening included a “thank you” dinner. Tony had the idea to show our appreciation to the people that had helped me with my training by having them over for a dinner party. It was a great night with lots of triathlon talk! The following night was a dinner get together with a friend that we had not seen in over a year. It was great to re-connect and catch up on the latest happenings! The Sunday was a dinner with my family. My brother planned the dinner as a congratulations on my Ironman! It is always nice to spend time with family and to snap some fun pics with my niece and nephews!

Family Collage

The next two weekends included attending a surprise party for (another) friend’s 40th birthday, dinner out to celebrate our friends’ (Tim & Nicole…part of the crew from Lake Placid) recent marathon finish, attending the football season opener for NC State and a dinner out to a local “special occasion” steak house to celebrate our good friends’ anniversary.

State Game Field

Go Wolfpack!!

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NC State Football!

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Amongst all our activities, we have enjoyed some down time, watching some new movies and  I actually started reading my first book of the year!  I finally treated myself to my first pedicure of the summer.  I waited until after the race because I was spending so much time in running shoes.  Four days after my pedicure, I lost a toe nail!!  Unbelievable!!  So much for waiting!!

As far as training, I have enjoyed flexibility and doing whatever activity I want to do! There is a group bike ride that leaves from a local Tri store on Tuesdays and Thursdays and due to my IM training, I had been unable to check it out, until recently. We have enjoyed this ride multiple times over the past several weeks in addition to some Saturday rides from our house. I have also tried to start more regular yoga and stretching. I have run a few times here and there. I also took my mountain bike out on a local path for a different kind of ride. All in all, I have been staying busy and enjoying different levels of activity from the endurance training I have focused on for the past months. [I guess it is good that I have maintained some regular level of activity…as I write this recap, I am really noticing that our August included lots of eating!!!]

I think it is only natural to think about what’s next? I do not have any races planned for the remainder of the year. I plan to keep active, like I have been the past several weeks since IM recovery, but eventually add some strength training into the regiment. I will get back into the pool soon and try to get in swims, with (SOME) frequency. I have a few races in mind for next year, but am still pondering. I will say that the longest race on the agenda will be a half IM. I plan to have a completely different focus for next year and set some new goals. In the mean time, I will continue to enjoy the flexibility and keep having fun with the activities I choose!

posted by on Ironman

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After all our hugs and celebrations at the finish line, the original plan was to shower, eat and head back down to watch the finishers during the last hour. We had done this in Kona and it was a really amazing experience (well, everything is amazing in Hawaii!!).

Tim and Nicole volunteered to get my bike and bags from transition using the friends’ pass that all athletes are given. I was so thankful they were willing to do this, so Tony and I could start our (slow) walk back to the place. As we were walking back, while I was still full of excitement and chatter, I realized that my stomach was obviously not too happy with all that I had done that day. Once we got back to the apartment, I took a very nice hot bath to relax a bit and I felt a lot better…all except my stomach. While the crew was rightfully hungry, after a long day for them as well, the thought of food did not appeal to me. I knew I had to eat, but nothing sounded the least bit appetizing.

I rested, laying down on the couch with my feet up, while Tim SMARTLY encouraged me to take in fluids. He concluded I was dehydrated. The group decided to grab a dinner order from a good restaurant across the street and I opted for soup.

I sipped on some broth and just felt better when I was lying down. So, unfortunately, it was decided that we would not be headed back to the finish line for spectating.  It was more important to take care of myself.  We all had a long, emotional day, so hitting the sack was not a bad plan.

On Monday morning, Tony and I got up early in order to head down to the merchandise tent for finisher gear.  For those that may be unfamiliar, you can purchase all kinds of Ironman merchandise prior to the race (even though I am superstitious and did not).  However, the “finisher” gear becomes available on the morning after race day at 7:00am.  There is always a line, so we were there around 6:15.  There were plenty ahead of us, but we had a decent spot.  After about 10 minutes in line though……it started to rain.  UGH!!  Thank goodness there was an umbrella in the 4Runner!!

After over an hour in line, we finally gained entry in the tent (they only allow a few people in at a time).  We headed straight to the finisher jackets.  That was the one thing I knew I wanted.  Before we checked out, I also grabbed a visor and hitch cover.  I was happy with my selections.

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The Finisher Jacket – LOVE IT!!

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The Back of the Jacket – SWEET!!

Next up…BREAKFAST!  I was ready to eat at this point.  Nicole located a restaurant online that we decided to try after my pre-race announcement of desiring “pancakes as big as my head” on the morning after the race!!   She read about the Lake Placid Inn that serves some of America’s best pancakes (according to Travel + Leisure).  Breakfast was served outside (it was a chilly, rainy morning) on the terrace next to a cozy, stone fireplace.  They also provided us comfy blankets.

Lake Placid

View from the Terrace at Breakfast

Nicole and I both had the WORLD FAMOUS BUTTERMILK GRIDDLE CAKES.  They were fluffy and delicious!

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Pancakes for the girls!

Tony and Tim had the HOUSE BAKED BRIOCHE FRENCH TOAST.  All and all, the group gave breakfast “two thumbs up”!!

Breakfast

French Toast for the Guys!!

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Tim & Nicole outside the Lodge

We headed back to the room and decided it would be a lazy day.  The rain was set in and it was very chilly.  No one really wanted to be out in the elements.  I spent the rest of the morning and into the afternoon reading and responding to notes on Facebook/text from friends and family.  I was quite overwhelmed with the words of encouragement and celebration I received.  It was truly fantastic and heart-warming!!

Lunch time rolled around.  After breakfast, I did not think lunch would be required.   Tony mentioned pizza and that sounded tasty!  One slice of pizza really hit the spot!

While we all continued to laze around and chit-chat, the rain outside continued.  All I could continue to think about is that thank goodness the rain did not last all day on race day!!

For a long time, the one thing that I like to treat myself with after a race is a milkshake.  It has become a tradition.  So late afternoon, Tim, Nicole and I decided to continue the tradition (Tony was napping). Even though the weather was not “milkshake – drinking weather”, we all enjoyed our choices!

Milkshakes

MILKSHAKES!!!!!

Early in the day, I had decided that dinner for me would consist of a BURGER!  We wanted something close by, so we would not have to walk too far in the nasty weather, and we decided to check out Smoke Signals.  There was a short wait, but it was not unexpected with all the athletes still lingering around town.  I ordered the Flatliner burger…it was crazy with all the toppings!

Burger

The “Flatliner” Burger

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Excited about my burger…not sure HOW I was going to eat it though!

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The first bite!!

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Mouth full!   NOT an attractive picture, but I was a good sport!

I was only able to polish off half my burger.  With all the eating I had done that day, I did a fantastic job (plus SOME) of replacing the calories I had burned on race day!

Despite the icky weather, it was a fun day of hanging out and relaxing with Tony, Tim and Nicole.  The day consisted of LOTS OF EATING and re-living race day details.  It was a fine way to spend our last day in Lake Placid.

Tuesday morning, we all woke early in order to head out of town.  Tony and I were hitting the road with a very long drive to Raleigh while Tim and Nicole were continuing their travels by flying to Niagara Falls.

The town of Lake Placid will always hold fond memories for me.  It is a charming place, that I would like to visit again, but it was also the site of a truly special day for me.  I highly recommend this destination for anyone considering an Ironman or a nice place to visit/vacation.

posted by on Ironman

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My plan on the run was to start smart. The first three miles or so includes downhills. I did like that about the course, but could not let my legs get too excited on the early downhills. I planned to use that time to shift my legs into run mode after being on the bike for 112 miles. Early on, I felt ok. I had trained lots of bricks, so the bike to run transition on the legs was familiar to me. I had a very simple hydration/nutrition plan for the run. I was carrying concentrated Osmo on the hydration belt and I would supplement that with water at the aid stations and take one Gu Chomp (I would pick up a pack from the aid station as needed) every 15 minutes. I also had planned to grab orange slices and grapes, as they appealed to me. I wanted to get into a steady pace (not aiming for fast, just steady) that I would try to maintain between each of the aid stations. I had planned to walk each aid station so I could totally concentrate on eating and drinking at each of these points. I also had some other food options in my special needs bag, in case I wanted something different than what my options were on the course.

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My crew was in full force on the course. I did not always spot (or hear) Nicole, but she was was in paparazzi mode around the start of run course (she would spot me several times since it was a two-loop course).

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I spotted Tony a little bit into my run. Whenever I am racing, he always asks how I am feeling and I always try to answer him honestly. If I were to be experiencing problems, he could provide me ideas on how to address them. Luckily, I was able to answer him with “feeling pretty good”.

Also fairly early in to the run, another athlete recognized the MJG initials on my tri top. It was obvious that we had a mutual friend, so every time he passed me on the course, he would say something supportive. That was cool and yet another reminder to stay strong and what I was racing for!

On the River Road out and back stretch that seems to extend forever, I saw Tim. This road is closed to traffic and in one write-up I read, was described as no-(Iron)man’s land, since there are very few spectators. However, Tim incorporated a training run into the day (he and Nicole have a marathon approaching), so that he could be out on this quiet area of the course. It was so incredibly awesome to see him twice through this section. I felt special having a personal cheerleader out there! He passed along some encouraging words and since he was the one that helped me so very much when I was having issues with my hydration on the run, it seemed appropriate that he was out there encouraging me to stick to my plan. I did see one more familiar face which was another athlete I knew from Raleigh. He was on his second loop of the run but we were able to spot each other twice to lend a few words of support.

As I progressed on the first loop of the run, I did a good job executing the plan. One aid station at a time. As I approached the station (they all had water as the first option), I took a big swig of my concentrated Osmo and followed it with water. I would also take water again as it was the last option as I made my way through the station. I would take a Gu Chomp approximately every 15 minutes…I grabbed a pack early on and would take it at the aid station with water if the timing was close to the 15-minute mark. I remember taking a few orange slices throughout the first loop and a handful of grapes. I thought the fruit was a nice break!

The run course includes some rollers/hills throughout. Generally, I felt that the hills were short enough to run up, but there were a few where I chose to walk…not a causal walk, but a power walk.  (There was one fellow athlete that remarked to me as I was walking one short section that I was the fastest walker he had ever seen. Ha Ha!)

The late miles on the loop contained the largest hill on the course. There were lots of people lining the street on this climb. When I approached it, I was going to try to run it, but quickly decided to shift down to the power walk. I felt this was a smart decision.

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As I approached the crest of this hill. there was a lady standing pretty far out onto the street and she talked to me, encouraging me to “go chick that guy in front me” (direct quote)!

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I laughed and as soon as I hit the top of the hill, I started running again, truly motivated by her enthusiasm!

 

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Near the end of the run loop, you get so close to the finish line that you can hear the finisher’s names being announced. Nearing the end of the loop, there is another out and back section (Mirror Lake Drive) that you have to run, so you actually come close to the finish line twice (once as you start the out and back and then again as you start the second loop) even before the mid-way point of the run! The out and back also contains the area where you can access your special needs bag.  I bypassed the one on the bike, but chose to grab a couple things out for the second part of the run.  I took a snack pack of mini-Oreos (my favorite store bought cookie) and a snack size Ziploc of Goldfish. I immediately ate three or four of the Oreos and quickly decided that those were not what I wanted. I threw the rest away. The Goldfish, however, were a different story.  They tasted great! (Thanks to Nicole for suggesting these from her marathon trail race experience!)

As I started the second loop, I was thrilled to be starting the final part of this long day. However, I would be headed into absolutely new territory as soon as I hit mile 19. I had never run a marathon and 19 miles was the longest run my plan had me complete in training. I was definitely feeling some aches in my legs. Specifically, I was feeling some achiness in my left quad (not something I have felt before) and my right glute (something I feel routinely). I started feeling my right glute on the bike (having it start on the bike was unusual) and I continued to feel it on the run. It is always just a dull ache that I have been experiencing on and off for a while. It is not painful, just achy. I had taken two ibuprofen around mile 12.

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I passed Nicole again as I began the nice downhill section early in loop two. Seeing her gave me a good boost.

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At mile 16, I saw Tony and Tim. More smiles as I saw them, but I knew it was the last I would see my support crew. As I passed them, after they gave me their final supporting words, Tony said they would see me at the finish line.
Run 10

While those are very sweet words, I knew I had the most challenging physical part of the day still ahead. I basically continued the same approach that I had done for the first loop. I had decided to try some Coke at the aid station and/or possibly chicken broth. I had tried Coke once during my first half (to help a queasy stomach), but I had heard that Coke and broth can really help you get through the final stages of the IM marathon.

Run 11

Even though my stomach was feeling fine (which was a TREMENDOUS victory in of itself), I wanted to keep it that way! I had my trusty Goldfish that I was enjoying at every aid station and still would take water as the first thing at the station. I took Coke numerous times and broth once.

Run 12

As I hit the 19 mile mark, I thought to myself….”here we go. This is new ground, but I can do this!!”. As soon as I hit 20 miles, I started counting backward. I told myself that I had 6.2 miles left and surely I can run 6.2 miles! That continued for every remaining mile…whatever works to keep your mental game in play, right?? For these later miles, now that I think back, it is hard to describe, but I was definitely in a deep zone. Even more so than what I had experienced during training…thinking back to it, it is almost a blur. At least on that long section on River Road. Mentally, I think I really went somewhere deep to push through.

As I approached that nasty hill for the last time, I was so ready to go down the finish chute. However, I had that brutal out and back section on Mirror Lake Drive to do once again. I call it brutal, not because it is hilly or difficult, but because you are so close to the finish line and you have to keep running! I was plugging along and I remember stopping and walking. It was not a conscious decision at all. It was as if my mind and legs were not communicating. I literally had a five second conversation with myself and said “what are you doing? There is no walking at this point! You are so close to being done! Get a move on!” So, that five or six seconds was what I needed to push through the final mile.

As I was completeing the back section (of the out and back), it all became real. Then I had the final right turn (marked by the arrow for “finish”) to start down the chute. At that moment I felt all kinds of emotions running through my body.

I remember someone telling me to take my time down the finish chute and enjoy the moment. I did just that. It was almost surreal.

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I raised my raised my arms in celebration and I spotted Tony just near the finish arch at the end of the chute. I don’t remember my name being announced by Mike Reilly (although it was, but mispronounced) and even though that was something I was so excited to hear (I frequently thought about it during training), seeing Tony as I was taking the last few steps to reach my goal was so much sweeter. He has ALWAYS been my biggest supporter and having him right there was the only thing I needed.

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Immediately after I finished, a volunteer put the medal around my neck and there were two ladies there to help me with whatever I needed…one on each arm. I stood still for a bit as I was taking in what I had just completed. The volunteers were awesome giving me a wrap, my finisher’s t-shirt, hat and water and asking me if I was okay (since I continued to stand still). I was totally okay!!! I had done it! They asked me if I wanted food and really all I wanted was to see Tony, Tim & Nicole. One of the ladies gave me a chocolate milk and led me to the food table anyway. The first choices I saw were orange slices, grapes, pretzels…the same food from the course. NO! I definitely did not want that. Then I saw pizza and thought I might try that. Well. I looked even further down and changed my mind when I saw French fries. Yes please! Warm, salty fries! They encouraged me to sit down, but I told them I was fine and just wanted to find my crew. I wondered out (with my arms and hands full of my race bling and treats) and was looking for the gang. I decided to stay close to athlete’s exit of the finish chute with the thought that they would come to me. After just a few minutes (I had enjoyed four of five fries at that point), I saw Tim. He came up to me with big smiles and hugs. Just what I needed! He called Nicole and Tony and within a couple of minutes they found us. As soon as I saw Tony, he grabbed me and gave me a huge hug and the tray of French fries I had in my hand went flying everywhere! Then all the emotions got the best of me and I did not want to let him go. It was one of the best hugs ever!! I finally let him go and then got another great hug from Nicole. These guys were the best! I loved everything they did out on the course and it meant so very much to have them there.

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I was on cloud nine and was so happy to be reunited with them all. I had so much to talk about and share.

This day was the cherry on top of the sundae that I spent six months building (really…it took me several years to build it as I worked hard to be in the physical and mental position to start a 6-month training plan to become an Ironman). I knew this day would be full of challenges like I had never experienced. I honestly did not think the challenges would start before ever exiting the water, but this really proves that you never know what will happen in an Ironman. You can train and prepare to the best of your ability, but you must be mentally prepared to overcome whatever comes your way. I am proud of myself. I proved alot to myself on this day and it will be a day that I will never forget.

To Tony, Tim and Nicole…thank you is not enough. Since I have spectated four Ironmans, I know it is a long day. They have all been fun days, but tiring, nonetheless. Having their support out of the course was tremendous. All the words said during the day kept me motivated and made me smile (especially the reminders about pancakes and milk shakes from Nicole). The photos I have are so special as they will always be reminders of a terrific day! Thanks to them for enduring the “normal” elements of Ironman spectating (getting up early and lots of standing around), but the harsher ones that this day brought (very cold rain).

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Total Run Time = 4:36:11 (Division Rank: 57/172   Gender Rank: 206/702)

As a result of the crazy weather during the swim, WTC decided to not include the second loop of the swim and T1 in the official results for age groupers. Even if an athlete was not pulled early from the swim, everyone’s time was treated this way. According to Ironman, my official finish time was 12:41:42. However, in my mind, this is not my time. I feel I was completely on pace to match the same time in my second swim loop and if I estimate my T1 time to be approximately the same as T2, my finish time is 13:35. This, of course, does not include the time we swam to the docks, waited around and then had to walk a very long way to T1. The 13:35 would be my race time. It is a little frustrating to have an “official time” that really is not official, but I feel the 13:35 more accurately reflects my race. Even though I never shared it before the race, my goal time was 13 to 14 hours. Needless to say, I am happy!!

As several weeks have passed since I completed Ironman Lake Placid, I have frequently reflected back on that day. What should I have done differently? What could I have done better? During these reflections, I remember that decision making is also a huge part to an Ironman. The decisions made to push harder, ease up, drink more, eat now, stop for the bathroom, etc. are part of the day. I made the best decisions I could at the time. I don’t have any regrets with anything I did or the decisions I made. I learned so very much about myself and I like these lessons. I am more full of determination, grit, focus and strength than I thought. The time in my life from February 10, 2014 (the day I started the 24-week training plan) to when I crossed that finish line, changed me in so many great ways!

Worth It

I can say this with COMPLETE certainty now!!

Courage

Enough Said!!

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The beginning of the bike course literally starts with a short, steep decline and a very sharp left turn. There are hay bails set up on the turn to catch run-away cyclists. I started very cautiously since it was pouring rain…gently riding my brakes to stay in control. The first few miles are flat as you head out of town. I was trying to drink and eat a bit. Since my body was so cold, I did not feel like drinking, but it had been a while before my swim since I last had water. I knew I needed to stay on top of my hydration from the beginning, even if I was not thirsty. This part was slow going. I was being smart (ie. cautious due to wet roads), but I still did not have my mind in the race. I talked to myself quite a bit. The bike is my favorite leg of triathlon. I had ridden hundreds of miles to prepare for this day. Yes, conditions were crappy at that moment, but I had to suck it up.

The next section had a number of steady rollers and then one decent climb. I know I did not push my pace at all on this section. I had planned to start conservative and probably ended up being too conservative in this stretch since I was gradually working my mind back to business.  Also, I knew I had some stiff challenges ahead…the descent.

Probably one of the most documented stretches of the IMLP bike course is the descent into Keene. This stretch is approximately eight miles long. The exciting news for 2014, was that a majority of this stretch had been recently re-paved. Most cyclists love downhills. FREE SPEED! The terrain that I typically train on does not have steep descents (in comparison to these). However, I generally feel comfortable descending and since we had driven the bike course, I knew there were not technical turns associated with these descents. I was confident heading into race day. Well, rain changes everything!!! I knew this section would be so very dangerous with the heavy rain we were experiencing. I also knew that I had to remain SMART and in control of my bike. I did just that. I rode this stretch the only way I was comfortable given the conditions.

Overall I felt that the other athletes were very aware and being safe on the roads. I think everyone’s radar was extra sensitive due to the inherently dangerous conditions that the rain brought to the roads…especially on the descents. However, in one area, I passed another female cyclist that had gone down on the descent. She was getting help, but still remained flat out on the pavement. REALITY CHECK!! As the descent continued, any warmth that I had generated on the opening climbs was gone. My teeth were chattering again and my body was shivering. I was just trying to hang in. I told myself that as soon as I made it into the town of Keene and the flat section started, I HAD TO WORK! I needed to get warm and get in my groove!

I vividly remember the mental relief I felt when I made the left hand turn coming off the descent. It was almost as if I turned a page in a book. I started really eating at that point (I had nibbled some a little earlier) and concentrating on my plan. The rain began to ease up and I eventually started seeing a bit of blue sky. Just a peak through the clouds and I know I must of had a big smile on my face! Being optimistic that things were getting better and I would not be a bike popsicle on two pretty purple race wheels!

I saw my complete support crew for the first time around mile 25. At that point in time, I was on cloud nine. I had my mind totally in the race and was eating and drinking according to plan. [I was consistently taking water from the aide stations as well an Bonk Breaker bites.  I was supplementing the water with the concentrated Osmo I had brought on my bike, as well as, peanut butter filled pretzels and Honey Stinger Waffles.]  I was feeling good and relieved that I had fought past this first huge hurdle. It was GAME ON for me!!

The second time I saw the crew was just after the 10 mile out and back section (to/from Ausable Forks) making a right hand turn that immediately tuned into a short steep climb, around mile 35-ish.  When we drove this, Tony instructed me to stand up and climb as soon as I made the turn.  I had no idea they would be there, but sure enough, as soon as I stood up, I spotted them!  I know he was happy that I followed his (good) advice!  Again, big smiles when I saw and heard the crew.  It was amazing every time I saw them!!

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Standing climb!!

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I passed the guy in the blue jacket on the climb!

I felt like I was in a good groove. Riding like I had trained. Still being smart since that was my game plan for the first loop…not pushing too hard. I had to stop fairly early on for a bathroom break. I was obviously hydrating well! The bad part was that I had waited as long as I could possibly wait and when I saw the next aide station, I stopped. Unfortunately, there were at least five people in line before me. I saw the line as I was dismounting, but there was no way I could make it another ten miles to the next aide station. I knew I would have to stop along the bike course, but I had not really planned on having to wait in line! This stop took a long time and I lost at least 8 to 10 minutes here.

As I progressed to the back end of the first loop of the bike course, I hit the rolling/climbing section that is also very well documented.  There was one supporter/spectator that was “coaching” everyone to be in the small ring from there to the end of the loop…which was not bad advice.  No need to overwork the legs on the first loop and not have enough left in the tank for the second.  I finally came to the last stretch of climbs that are entitled the “three bears”.  I was not sure when I actually hit them (the order being mama bear, baby bear and papa bear), since they are preceded by plenty of rollers/climbs.   However, I did know when I hit papa bear…I saw it written on the side of the road.  There were also lots of spectators and some even dressed in costumes.

As I was coming back in on the first loop after the bears, I was in the small ring and holding a good cadence to work through the last section into town.  There was one man that was really excited about my cadence. He said “boom, boom, boom…look at that cadence” while cheering for me. It seemed as if there were plenty of spectators that were knowledge about cycling and/or the course! Pretty cool!

I came back into town and made my way back through to start the second loop.  I was feeling good and knew I was where I wanted to be.  Of course as I started the second loop, mentally I was in a place that was a day to night comparison to where I was when I had been in that same spot a few hours earlier.  As I hit the descent into Keene, the roads were dry, so I was really able to take advantage of the downhills.  YES!  They were pretty fun!!

I saw the crew again around mile 65-ish.  It was on the stretch into Keene and these are some great photos of the course.

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A nice view of the bike course

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Nice scenery on the course

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Happy to see the crew!!

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I found that there was a sense of camaraderie amongst most of the cyclists. There was one instance when I looked back over my left shoulder to see if the path was clear so I could take a pass and someone was approaching. I was going to slow up. Instead, he verbally allowed me to take the pass first and within legal rules (no drafting). There were a few people I played leap frog with. One other girl and I jumped positions multiple times on the first loop. I spotted her again on the second loop and she commented that it had been a while since we had seen each other. There was one guy that I traded spots with a number of times. One instance when he passed me and said…”I know I will see you again in a few minutes” (he did).  I also received lots of comments on my purple race wheels! One lady commented (whose bike and gear was totally outfitted in pink) that her daughter would love my purple wheels. I was also asked what my favorite color was…ummmm, I wonder!!

My ride remained strong. As I hit the 10-mile out and back section (just after mile 80), I decided to push the pace a bit. My legs responded well. It really felt good to open up. On this stretch, there were three guys that I passed with 2 minutes or so of one another and they were all very supportive of “being chicked”…each one said something supportive like “that is the way to go” or “looking strong”, etc. I just found it interesting that I received three comments in a row.

Unfortunately, I had to take a second pit stop. I would have rather not stopped, but nature called. Still a good sign that I was hydrating well. Once again, there was a bit of a line that took several minutes. Nothing like standing still to really make a dent into my average bike pace!

I was tacking the tail end of the course that is filled with lots of fun rollers and climbs, the bottom fell out.  Once again, it was accompanied by thunder and lightning.  Sure, I would rather it stay dry, but at that point, it really did not bother me.  Other than trying to eat my peanut butter pretzels out of my bento box (the rain was falling into the baggie making for soggy pretzels) and my glasses fogging up, I stayed (mentally) unaffected.  On this challenging stretch, my legs were feeling the effects of nearly 112 miles.  Nothing too concerning and I had taken a few ibuprofen during the second loop to try to mitigate too many aches and pains.  I think it is fair to say I was ready to wrap up the bike leg though.  Considering I had been on the bike for 7 hours, I was ready for a change.

I felt I had executed my plan fairly well.  Hydration wise, I felt in good shape.  Nutrition wise, I had not eaten all that I had planned.  I was not significantly under, but not to the level I thought I needed.

It was exciting to make it back into town. The crowd was lining the road and was super supportive. Nicole was in the crowd, but unfortunately I did not spot her before she took this photo!

Finishing the second loop and heading into T2!!

As I arrived into T2, a volunteer took my bike (cool) and I grabbed my run gear bag and I hit the changing tent.  Off with the bike gear, including the arm warmers, and on with running shorts, socks, shoes, visor and hydration belt.  Once again, the volunteer was awesome help!!  It was run time…my first marathon!!!

Total Bike Time = 7:10.10 (Division Rank: 79/172   Gender Rank: 296/702)