Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I WON a Lazer Helmet!

my new Helmet!!

Thanks to Tri Dad of Five, Christmas came early for me!  Lazer Helmets donated a helmet for a giveaway on his blog, and I was the lucky winner!!

This came at the perfect time- my old aero helmet broke in a minor crash this year, and I've been borrowing one ever since for my races (thanks Steve) !!

I'm SO excited, I've researched aero helmets quite a bit this year, and here's what available for LAZER helmets:

For more in-depth information, check out Tri-Dad's review.

The 2 features that attracted my attentions were:

  1. Head Down Aerodynamics:  This is how I tend to ride so I would love a racing helmet that takes this into account when designing aerodynamic features!
  2. Aquavent:  Unlike "regular" helmets, aero helmets usually don't have any vents, so when you noggin' starts heating up, there isn't any way to cool off.  The Lazer helmets have an actual vent designed to allow you to dump water on your head through the helmet!  This is going to be key for me next year, as I will be racing in some HOT conditions!

And of course, some bonus features...

  • It looks cool.  

  • And, lots of FAST pro's trust Lazer helmets, including:
Julie Dibens...

Courtenay Brown

Happy Holidays everyone!! :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Foot Recovery part 1!

Surgery went well!

I was a little nervous before-hand...

 I was a little confused/uncomfortable when I woke up...

I was told that I kept asking about eating IHOP before/after they put under anesthesia...There was one on the way to the Surgicenter, so Dan and I were joking about going there...apparently I was serious...I always am when it comes to food...

So here's the beauty herself!  The bone spur, which looked like an upward-pointing "hook" has been smoothed out... I don't know much else about it, I'll learn more about it at my follow-up appt. this week.

 Surprisingly, I felt fine shortly after I came out of anesthesia.  I was shaking a little bit, but I wasn't in pain or nauseous.  The "worst" sensation was the nerve block- I would command my ankle/toes to move, but my body didn't respond.  Very strange and it kinda freaked me out.  I couldn't imagine paralysis.  The nerve block wore off overnight, so my right lower leg has been "functional" since Saturday morning.

We were out of the Surgicenter within 45minutes of me waking up, and since I felt fine... Guess where we went??
Looking fresh... 
MUCH better- PANCAKES!! :)
I've received so much love and support from friends and family- THANK YOU!!

Check out the awesome recovery basket I got from my in-laws- how thoughtful!!
Dan has been a ROCKSTAR husband (as usual)- he makes sure I am comfortable & fed (no easy task) and that I have means of entertainment at all times :)  He also gave me an early Christmas present!
new black dress coat with a HOOD! :) xoxo
On Saturday, since I was feeling fine after the surgery, we were able to attend our friend's annual Holiday party!  I'm glad we were able to attend, we had a lot of fun and it would have been a bummer to miss!  Too bad you can't see my big bulky black boot that I perfectly paired with a red heel to match my dress :)

I haven't been in much pain at all- I took a painkiller before I went to bed on Friday and Saturday (worried I would wake up in pain), but have not needed them otherwise.  It is painful to put weight on it, but it's a non-issue for now since I'm supposed to be resting.

It's very annoying/inconvenient to go to the bathroom/etc... the abilities we take for granted...

I enjoyed my lazy weekend full of movies, naps, TV, facebook, twitter, etc., but now I'm started to go a little stir-crazy, especially with the 40-50 degree weather we've been having in DECEMBER.  Seriously??  I just bought Iron War and I'm Here to Win on my ipad, so hopefully that will keep me occupied this week....

OH, and if you haven't seen this... I was DYING with laughter yesterday...

 and the Pre-Quel...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Foot surgery tomorrow... ouch.

Big day tomorrow... foot surgery.  uggh.

Most of you know that running hasn't been going so great for me the last two years due to injuries.  At IM Cozumel last year the marathon was a disaster due to GI issues and plantar fascitis, then this year I thought I was plagued with achilles tendonitis- so I thought.

I tried rest (seriously), icing, physical therapy, medication, shots, etc., all to no avail- the bottom part of my ankle (back of my heel) would NOT STOP hurting!  I DNF'ed a 1/2 Iron this year b/c it so bad and I didn't want to do further damage to it.  This was NOT OK with me.
NOT my hairy leg- just showing you where it hurt!
Finally my doc looked at an X-Ray and saw this:
not my actual X-Ray either... sorry.   Mine is similar though.
What's not normal here?  Here's a better comparison:

WHY is this a bad thing?

Yes, my achilles tendon is going OVER the bone spur, causing  friction, and a painful bursa.  It hurts while doing everyday activities, but it's particularly painful while running.  He told me that I wouldn't do any "extra damage", and gave me permission to run on it to train through the final block and race IMAZ.  Owies, but I got the job done (you gotta want it.)

What are the causes of this? How did I get it?
  • Sometimes called a "pump bump"...women who frequently wear high heels that rub against the area may cause the bone the calcify due to the stress placed on it... (Nope.  At the MOST, I wear heels 2x/week, if at all)
  • Tendency to walk on the outside of your heel- the inward rotation causes the bone to grind against the tendon. (Nope)
  • High arches (YUP!) - the heel bone tilts backward into the tendon
  • Tight calves/achilles tendon (DING DING DING!!) Lots of pressure on the bone since the tendon is tight and rubbing on it would cause it to calcify.  Talk about the important of foam rolling and stretching...jeez.

It's not going to go away... so the doc suggested shaving the extra bone off.


They won't have to detach the achilles tendon to get to it (THANK GOODNESS)- if they did, recovery could take 4-6 months.  BAAAD.

My doc told me that I could probably be back on the trainer and in the pool within 2-3 weeks, and back to running within 4-6 weeks.  So that means I'll "recover" through the Holidays, start back up around January 1, and be running by the end of that month!  

It sucks, but this is definitely the right time of the year to do it.  I'm pretending like I'm not nervous at all... everything is going to go perfectly, and I'll be running injury-free next year, right?? 

Monday, December 12, 2011

A new addition to our driveway...

Well, sort of! (We have it winterized and stored right now)

Dan and I have wanted to do this for a long time, and after much time, research, and effort, we did!

We bought an RV!

She is a 2008 Coachmen Freedom Express Racing Edition.  We found this model a few months ago, and scoured the internet until we found one that we loved and at the right price!  Jim from Camping World of Southern Alabama was so wonderful and accommodating, as was the rest of the staff :)

We flew down to Pensacola, FL the day after Thanksgiving, and Jim was nice enough to pick us up from the airport and drive us to Camping World- they had the vehicle all detailed and ready to go.

Rick gave us a very thorough and detailed walk-through- which was much needed because are RV rookies!!  We learned what, where, and how everything works... between the two of us hopefully we'll remember everything!

Here's what you've been waiting for:  A PHOTO TOUR!

She is a 31ft. Class C Motorhome...pretty big vehicle!  The "cockpit" is large and comfy, which is awesome, but we are super excited about the "house" or the coach.  Above the cockpit is a queen-size cab bed... tons of space to sleep 2 people comfortably, or for storage.
And YES, our RV has a BAR!! Instead of the standard "dinette" we opted for this sweet set-up!  The large couch you see pictured also folds out into a full-sized bed, comfy enough for 2 people as well.  The tables and barstools are easily removed and stored behind the couch.
There are 2 "slide-outs" in the living room you see- they are both "out" in the photo.  While driving, the kitchen is pushed up all the way to the bar (which folds down), and the couch goes up to about 12-18 inches away from the bar, leaving a little hallway to walk-through.  

There is a TV that is set up in the kitchen now, but can be removed and hooked onto brackets in the bedroom or on the outdoor entertainment center!  Although not pictured, we have hookups for an entertainment center on the exterior, under an enormous awning.  We also have exterior hoses for a "shower"- nice for cleaning people/dogs/stuff off!  There's even a spot for an ice chest in the huge storage compartment :)
We have a classy, larger-than-an-airplane bathroom as well!  It is located right next to the kitchen near the back of the vehicle.  

Across the "hall" from the bathroom is the shower- it's big enough to work for us! :)  It is also located sort-of within the bathroom... there is a curtain/door system implemented.  The curtain goes around the shower all the way to the bathroom door.  The bathroom door flips out and locks, creating a privacy area from the living room.  I'll explain it some other time.  Regardless, here's the shower and bedroom!

WE ARE SO EXCITED!!  What do we plan to do with it??

  • Um, camp?  There are many parks within a short drive that would make for fun weekend trips!  
  • Triathlon races!  No need to plan and pay for airfare and hotels far in advance... as long as we can find a campsite nearby, we are good to go!  We've priced out several planned races, and even with gas prices nowadays, RV'ing is going to be significantly cheaper.
  • PLUS, Having our own bathroom and shower for pre- and post-race is going to be a.w.e.s.o.m.e.
  • AND, post-race party at our place!! awning, shower, TV on the outside, BAR on the inside!
  • Training weekends!  It's going to be a blast to pick up and go and head for the hills (and better weather) whenever we please!
  • Tailgating- all the features of this RV- the bar, exterior entertainment center, awning, ice chest, etc. really LEND itself to a good time!
  • We LOVE traveling and visiting family/friends near and far, and RV'ing is going to be a FUN way to do it!!
  • We get to travel with our dog Winston! :)
We look forward to a ton of new adventures!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

IMAZ Pre-Race

You can find my actual race report here:  it has been updated with pictures since I first posted it.  :)  For those of you who like to know how my actual preparation for the race went (especially if you are a newbie or doing the race next year)- you may find this post interesting/helpful! :)

Pre-Race : Only two meltdowns!

I felt different going into this race.  Usually I LOVE being around all the hype- hanging out at the expo, shopping, wearing all my tri-geek stuff, talking with other athletes, etc… but this weekend I wanted nothing to do with it- I was focused on staying calm and resting up for the big day.  I was pretty boring to be around actually- I was in good spirits, but all I wanted to do was eat, hydrate, execute my pre-race workouts and prep, and sleep.   By SLEEP, I mean, ASLEEP by 8:30PM Friday and Saturday night- and most of my pre-race week as well!

We flew in on Thursday and I took the day off training- I wanted to get myself situated.  I did the necessary packet pickup and bike-pickup (used Tri-Bike transport) at Expo and got the heck out of there.  I unpacked and got my bike, bags, etc. ready to go.  Dan and I went to House of Tricks for dinner- What a cute, romantic, and cozy little restaurant!

I wanted to get a feel for my race pace on the bike course with the wind, so Friday and Saturday Dan drove me out to the Beeline so I didn’t have to deal with all the traffic and cars and other athletes in-town.  I felt okay on Fri., but was still surprisingly a little sluggish- obviously that meant I needed more food and sleep. :)  My mom flew in Friday afternoon, and the three of us joined my coach Jen and her husband Jerome, along with (new) friends Molly, Tracy, Jen, and a few others for lunch at Pita Jungle.  Yum!

After more rest and a last-minute CVS run, we had an early dinner at Monti’s with our friends Tabitha and Carl, along with Scott Neyedli- he is a pro triathlete that they were hosting for the race (who went 8:29 and took 11th!!).  The Roman Bread was simply delicious and perfect for pre-race!  My brother also flew in Friday night, but I was already asleep, so my amazing husband went to pick him up from the airport :)

On Saturday I finalized my transition and special needs bags, and headed over to the swim to get a feel for water.  Yup- just as I remembered it- cold (61 degrees).  I didn’t wear a thermal cap or booties or anything and honestly I was fine.  Nothing to worry about for the race- I knew my TYR Hurricane wetsuit would keep me warm!  I did tear a small hole when I was putting it on- oops!  I had remembered to pack wetsuit glue, so it was an easy fix when I got back to my hotel later that day. 

From there my people were waiting for me to take me back to the Beeline for one more shake-out ride.  This time, I felt FANTASTIC!  Right at race watts, I was happy with how I felt and the speed I was going- yay!  But then… 

MELTDOWN #1.  I had planned to meet my crew at the turnaround- they were going to “check out” the casino then pick me up.  Yeah, ummm… I was waiting at the side of road for 15-20 minutes without a cell phone!!  Gaaaa…. There was a miscommunication for how “long” I would be riding… at least I had time to stretch!  Love you guys!  

I did a short shake-out run after that… my first one in a week.  Pace was fine, but ankle felt awful… well, at least I knew what to expect for race day!  We headed back to the race site to turn in my transition bags… and discovered I took my special needs instead- oops.  Easy fix- I would switch them in the morning.  Another lunch at Monti’s with Dan’s Mom, Dad, and sister Leslie who had flown in the evening before, then back for more rest before dinner.

MELTDOWN #2- lost garmin charger.  Seriously??  Dan and I had JUST seen it hours before.  We never ended up finding it.  I was FREAKING OUT- my race plan was very dependent upon pacing.  Luckily, Carl and Tabitha saved the day and let me borrow theirs- THANK YOU!!!.  

We went to their place for a homemade, very plain (yet delicious) pre-race dinner with Scott, his girlfriend Lisa (who just SWAM the English Channel in 10 hrs. in July!), his mom, and our new Australian friends Greg Farrell (who ended up 2nd in his AG!!) and his girlfriend Alison.  It was a perfect, relaxing evening to calm nerves and get excited for the race!


I woke at 3:45am (15min before my alarm) wide awake.  I ate my breakfast, got my gear and nutrition, and was out the door and at the race site by 5:30AM.  Again, I was NOT into the hype- I wanted to focus and stay calm, so I put on my headphones, kept my head down and went about my business.  Switch Transition and Special Needs Bags, put nutrition on bags and bike, drop off special needs bags, wait in looooong line to get air pumped in tires, check to make to sure brakes aren’t rubbing, put bike in desired gear, get body-marked, go to bathroom (a few times) then get wetsuit on at 6:35.  Using Tri-Slide it slipped right on- I also used Tri-Slide in my bike shoes and run socks.  NO BLISTERS- AT ALL!!  I also “foggled” my goggles and sunglasses- worked like a charm- no fogging, even after my goggles got knocked off twice…I handed my dry clothes and gear off to my wonderful mother, and I got in the water about 8-10 minutes before the gun went off (had to swim ~100yds to get to start), took my position, and waited… When the gun went off, I KNEW that I would be done in under 11 hours…

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

One Minute Matters- Ironman Arizona Race Report

I had the most unbelievable, yet bittersweet, race of my life.  I'm cutting right to the chase here with the race report- I have a pre-race report all written, I'll post it tomorrow for those of you who are interested. I'll also add pictures/minor corrections in the next few days. Here's how my day went down...

THE SWIM- Where I almost quit.

I had my garmin set to beep/vibrate every 20 minutes- I should be at 40minutes at the turnaround to know if I was on pace for a 1:20.  As you all know, I am NOT a fast swimmer… but for this race I was “good enough” to be in the main pack mix… which was NOT a good thing-  aaaahhhh the washing machine- I was getting bumped and smacked constantly!  I did my best to relax, and I knew I was swimming strong.  Believe it or not, I was PAST the turnaround, almost to the first buoy when the 40min beep went off- YES!!!! I was probably on pace for a 1:15-1:17!  However, this is where it started to fall apart- I was REALLY getting pummeled- kicked in the gut, goggles slapped off, I was starting to get panicky, which has never happened in a swim for me.   I also made the mistake of swimming buoy to buoy instead of sighting “far-ahead” and following a more direct path- according to my Garmin I added about .2 miles because of this.  I would recommend to anyone doing this race that they actually go to the bridge near the turnaround before the race and check out the buoy line…

 About halfway back, it happened- my right calf completely seized and locked up- I screamed in pain.  I tried dorsi-flexing my foot to stretch it out- it would cramp even worse on release.  People were swimming over me, my goggles got slapped off again, I was freaking out.  Finally, I left it alone.  It was PULSATING very painfully, but I pretended like I was swimming with a pull buoy and just tried to finish up as best as I could- I ended up with a 1:21 swim, still a 3-minute PR and only about a minute off my goal time. 

T1 – so pissed.

I came out of the water SO pissed- damage had been done to my calf and I knew that it would be tight the rest of the race.  Adapt and move on.  It was a long transition run and the change tent was full and busy.  A volunteer helped me and I got out there as quickly as I could- I’m not a transition specialist, but I did alright.  My biggest dilemma was whether to wear arm warmers or not (~58 degrees at bike start) I chose to wear them.   A volunteer said he would grab my bike – but grabbed the wrong one! Oops- but that got fixed quickly and I was on my way.  Total time was 5:30-ish.

asi photos

BIKE – the best ride of my life!

Getting out of town I took it easy- there were TONS of cyclists.  I didn’t fret- once it opened up I would get my groove on.  I took in my nutrition, made sure all my “junk” were in the right pockets and tried to stretch out my calves a little bit.  For the first 10 miles I chilled.  I was ready to roll once we got on the Beeline… but uuuggghhh.. the drafting on the first loop!!!  I have had friends who got penalties for drafting unintentionally, so I made SURE that when the dudes passed me I fell back 4 bike lengths before passing them back.  I was getting a little frustrated, but I stayed calm.  The only time shiz hit the fan during my ride was when I was holding race watts, going up a little hill when this pack of about 10-15 “athletes”, male and female, overtook and surrounded me.  I sat up, coasted, waiting for them to pass me- they didn’t!!  After about 1 minute of this nonsense I firmly told the final members of the pack to PASS ME- they obliged, I fell back, then put my head down and time-trialed past those BoZo’s and left them in the dust.  Have a nice race A-Holes.  
asi photos

We had a headwind going out on the first loop- I averaged about 19mph until the turnaround, but boy it was FUN heading back!!  Holding 27-30 mph is what I’m talking about!!  I  hit timing mat around 1:45- holy cow!!  I figured I would slow up a bit during the next two loops so I didn’t even do the math.  I also didn’t see my people on the first loop, so I was looking forward to the second go-around!

Heading out on loop 2 I was moving!  Watts were good, a tiny tad higher than planned, but I constantly re-assessed and was feeling great.  I saw my Mom working at the aid station at mile 5 (of the loop), and my friend Margaret and her fiancĂ© at mile 12 on Gilbert Rd.  On this section I chatted a bit with a girl in my AG, Shawna, who was also riding really strong!  It was her first IM and I was giving her tips on how to pee on the bike LOL.  She is definitely an athlete to watch out for- there were some dudes trying to draft off of her- it was pretty funny to watch as she smoked them!  At the turnaround I saw MY MAN DAN and my brother Don- they looked like they were having a blast- yay!  I kept on truckin and felt super- I finished the lap and hit the timing mat with a 1:45 split- again!  Holy cow I’m done with 2 loops already??  I then did some math- and my breath was taken away for a moment when I realized I was on pace for a FREAKING 5:15 bike split!!  I dismissed the thought, but was thinking I would actually get a 5:25- holy smokes!!  I’ll reassess at the turnaround.
asi photos

Well, 3rd lap started and now we had a tailwind going out- crazy!  I just. Felt. Awesome.  I didn’t stop at special needs, so I made sure to take extra gels at aid stations so my nutrition plan would stay on target.  My calf was loosening up a LITTLE bit, it wasn’t painfully seizing anymore.  I saw my boys at the turnaround, then hit the headwind- but it really wasn’t that bad.  I guess all those LODA rides paid off!!  I did some math… assessed my effort and how I was feeling… looked at my pace… and realized I what I was about to accomplish… Oh.My. Gosh.  I crossed the timing mat at 5:15:00 and was ECSTATIC.

T2: Am I in the game?

I got through T2 as fast as I could- I knew my bike split was hellafast- but was I in the mix??  Time was 2:30-ish
asi photos

RUN- the hardest run of my life.

Going into the race, I knew the run was going to be the biggest wildcard.  I started off at a moderate pace that I had consistently trained at- about a 8:35-8:45 mile.  It wasn’t easy- my calf was soo tight, my ankle and my heel hurt- but my brain blocked out that pain, and I focused focused focused.  Dan was my “spotter” the whole run and when he told me around mile 3 that I was running in THIRD PLACE I was in shock- this shiz was REAL.
asi photos.  feeling fresh... not for long!

I stayed calm and continued on at my own pace.  I passed 2nd place around mile 5, and was now running in second- I knew there was one girl behind me running quicker, but I HAD to be smart so I wouldn’t blow up.  2nd place was a surefire spot to Kona.  There MAY be 3 spots, as there had been 3 in my AG in the past, but I wasn’t positive.

asi... focused.

asi... still focused.

I can’t say the miles ticked away, because they didn’t.  After about 10 miles, my legs were getting heavy, and my injuries were getting painful.  I put my head down and trucked on as hard as I could.  Miles 13-14 is when my body started giving out on me- I was giving more and more effort, but running slower and slower.  I NEVER let up- I took it one mile at a time.
asi... hurting.

I had a system at aid stations- 2 sponges- I got my face, arms, quads, and hamstrings, took one water and one perform (miles 1-13) or one coke (14-finish).  I took a swig of my liquid shot every 4 miles.  I was also taking salt tabs consistently, as I also did on the bike.  I never cramped on the run, I just didn’t have the durability from my limited run training this year.  It hurt very, VERY badly.
asi... love these photos.  They sum up the last 13 miles.
asi... I was really pushing through some pain.

This paragraph is heartbreaking to write…I was in 2nd place for 20 miles.  I never let it get to my head, because I knew I was NOT running at Kona-qualifying pace- if I stayed in second, I would be very lucky.  I knew 3rd place was gaining on me very quickly- I gave every ounce I had to hold a solid pace, but my body couldn’t deliver.  Mile after mile she still hadn’t passed me, and I held on tight…Even at mile 25, I knew I wasn’t safe… and sure enough, as I running through the crowds ½ a mile from the finish, it happened.  She BLAZED by me and didn’t look back- Dan tried to get me to SPRINT to go with her…I tried with all my heart, but my legs wouldn’t let me.

I never looked at overall time during the run- I only had my garmin displaying my “lap time” – an easier way to mentally break it down. My marathon ended up being a 4:01.  As I turned the corner to finish line, and I saw the clock say 10:46, I could NOT BELIEVE IT.   I had BLOWN my finish time expectations out of the water.  For the moment, I forgot about the pass, and reveled in my finish line glory!!  I’m still trying to comprehend that I’m now a 10:46 athlete- that’s FAST!!!

After I greeted my entire support crew with hugs and kisses, I HAD TO KNOW if I made my pie-in-the-sky goal: A Kona slot.  I found the paper posted on the massage tent… and there it was… 2 slots for my AG.  My heart sank, it stings to think about it.  I missed a Kona slot literally, by one minute.


I didn’t get a Kona rolldown- it looks like I’ll have to earn it the old-fashioned way.  I signed up for IM Louisville next year, and without a doubt I’ll be gunning for a Kona slot.

It took 2 ½ days for my stomach to feel OK after the race, and here I am 3 days out and I’m still having a lot of trouble getting up/down and walking… my calves are so damn tight if you just POKE them I’ll scream in pain… especially the one that cramped up in the swim.  My ankle/heel is in a lot of pain- I’ll be seeing my doc soon about options to “fix” that ASAP during the off-season.  I don’t know HOW I pulled off a 4:01 marathon judging by the shape I’m in now!

I’ve done many many triathlon races prior to this- but I’ve always considered myself a participant; sure my goal at almost every race is to race against myself and PR, but I was never too concerned with other athletes’ races- this has changed.  On Sunday I proved to myself that I am a COMPETITOR, and I sure as hell raced like one. A 10:46?? That’s a FAST girl’s time… MY TIME.  I know that I had the BEST race I possibly could that day- I truly left it all out there- and it got me on the podium.

I trained like a “participant” for years- hitting the important workouts, but skipping workouts that wouldn’t have a “big” effect on my finishing time- well guess what- ONE MINUTE MATTERS.  Those words sting.  That is going to be my mantra for next season- what is going to get me out of bed, in the pool, on the road, etc…


My race was very bittersweet- Despite missing a Kona slot, I blew my finish time goal (10:58) out of the water with a 10:46- OVER A 1-HR PR, and I freaking PODIUMED at major race!!  I also PR’ed IN EVERY section of the race, including transitions.  I put in the training, the hard work, and the suffering, but I couldn’t have gotten here without some MAJOR help:

My husband:  Dan is amazing.  Even being overseas for most of the year, he found ways to motivate and bring out the best in me- he was sooo accommodating during all my taper and pre-race anxiety and crabbiness, and did everything he possibly could for me to have the best race.  He wasn’t even supposed to BE in Arizona…having him there truly made my weekend.  I LOVE you Dan!!  He really needs to look into a career with all this sports statistician stuff- he’s GOOD at it!!  He was ALL over that course giving me times and telling me exactly how fast I had to go to maintain my position, etc… Team Wheatley is going to dominate next year!

My family:  My sweet mom, brother, and in-laws all flew out to watch and were the best spectators and support crew I could ask for- they have been so positive and helpful all year- THANK YOU!!

My sponsored team:  GO TRAKKERS/REV3!!  The passion of these individuals is contagious, and support I receive from them is unbelievable.  REV3 Events are top-notch and I can’t wait to compete in several of them (Knoxville, Portland or Maine, and the Dells) to prep and tune-up for IMLOU next year!!

My coach: Jen Harrison did it again… she turned a participant into a competitor.  She also had an amazing race herself at IMAZ and got 3rd in her AG ( the biggest female field) and turned down her Kona slot.  What a woman… Thank You Jen!!

Bloomington Cycle and Fitness:  For keeping my bike in top-notch condition!  I beat the hell out of that thing, so they have no easy task :)  They also worked extensively with me on my bike fit, and it paid off- I rode comfortably the WHOLE race.  I felt strong and powerful without any back/neck/etc. pain!

My local team and training partners: TRI-SHARKS!!  Mick- Thanks for hosting the weekly time trials- they are training weapons!  Tamara and Brian- thanks for making me ride 50 miles straight into headwinds week after week.  It wasn’t always fun, but it paid off :)  Steve- thanks for RUNNING with me (and Winston) and letting me borrow your helmet!!  Chris- thanks for all the advice, gear help, and mentorship- it has definitely helped shape me as an athlete.  To all the guys that kicked my ass on the bike (Mark M., Mike D., Doug, Brad, ROSS, etc…)- THANKS!!  I also used the club wheels (Zipp 404 and Disc) which were AWESOME.

My sponsors: 

Kestrel bicycles for providing the machine I powered to the 6th fastest female bike split of the day (fastest in AG, AND I beat 4 pro’s)-I LOVE my bike!!
SBR Sports- Kept my hair and body feeling fresh all year, but more importantly, NO CHAFING with Tri-Slide, and NO FOGGING on my goggles (even after being knocked off twice) and sunglasses with Foggle!! Thank you!!
First Endurance: I never had ANY GI issues all day, and I was fueled by EFS, liquid shot, and pre-race capsules.  Nutrition can make or break your race, and I was able to race what I was capable of without any GI stress!
TYR:  Even in the chilly water, my Hurricane wetsuit kept my body temperature up and just fine!  I swam my way to a PR, and its only going to get better :)
Recovery Pump:  During my biggest blocks of training and hard workouts, I was able to recover very quickly and bounce right back into training.
Avia: For providing some FUN, flashy shoes!!

To all my friends and supporters: I am amazed and humbled by the support and encouragement I received via email, text, facebook, and twitter!!  I can’t believe how many of you took such a portion of your day to track me- Thank You!! 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Putting my Cards on the Table


Before Dan left for his deployment, I wanted to find a major goal or project to keep myself busy… and naturally, being a triathlete, that “goal” was a RACE. 

I chose Ironman Arizona as my target for the following reasons:
  • The longer the race, the more competitive I can be right now.  In upcoming years, I plan to get FASTER at ½ Iron distances- Look out REV3 Knoxville and REV3 Dells 2012!!
  •  It’s late in the year so I had all year to prepare for and train for it (and let injuries heal up)
  • The course suits my strengths – it’s flat and windy (mirroring Central IL weather!) 
  • The weather for this race (in November) typically hasn’t been too hot either (I don’t do well in heat).
  • The 3-loop bike and run courses are ideal for racing (breaks the distance down into manageable sections) and spectating (lots of family coming)! 
  • I’ve done this race before (in 2008) and raced well, so I know what to expect.
Now, my main goal isn’t just to finish this race.  I have FINISHED 8 Iron-distance races, #9 will be a great accomplishment (as ANY Iron-distance finish), but I want something more…

I am going to FIGHT, tooth and nail, to break 11 hours. 

Setting such an ambitious goal very early in season, with injuries, was pretty ballsy.
  •  I will need to take 1 hour off of my best time to date is 11:52, on the IMAZ course.
  • The last 2 years I’ve been plagued with feet and ankle injuries which have been pretty debilitating.
So here’s my honest training recap of the year:

I hired Jen Harrison to coach me through this season- she has an excellent track record of transforming “age group athletes” into Elite, Kona-Qualifying athletes.  She has put up with a lot of my crap this season…


BIKE: I put a LOT of work into the bike, especially since my foot was not taking kindly to running.  This PAID OFF in big ways- I can “hang” with (I mean, off the wheels of) the “fast guys” in town, and I dominated the weekly time-trials in Bloomington- I even took 3rd place at a major Time Trial race in Chicago-land!  I also had the 4th fastest bike split at REV3 Knoxville- only 5 minutes off the leader.

SWIM AND RUN: Well… not much to be said here.  I wasn’t running very much due to injuries, and although I was swimming MUCH more than I used to (i.e. 2-3x/week versus MAYBE 1x/week) I wasn’t completing all the work my coach asked me to do…I realize that I don’t necessarily HATE swimming, it’s just my weakness, so therefore I don’t like it.


There was a lot of personal stress in my life… and unfortunately, I didn’t take it out on training.  Although I was still getting (some) workouts in, I fell off the wagon quite a bit.  I was also second-guessing and even dismissing my goal of breaking 11 hours at IMAZ- I was starting to accept that IMAZ may end up similar to IM Cozumel last year- shitty swim, good bike, walk the marathon.  This is where my biggest regret of the season lies- “giving up”. 

Then there was the Great Illini Half-Iron tri… my first DNF, EVER.  It was not due to fitness- I bowed out after the first loop of the run because my achilles starting bothering me VERY BADLY, and I didn’t want to risk completely ruining my chances of being able to run at IMAZ… this really discouraged me…

When school first started, I didn’t do a stellar job of time management (wasn’t fitting in ALL the training), and my ankle was KILLING ME.  I was actively seeing doctors, physical therapists, athletic trainers, trying all sorts of techniques, etc… to no avail.  Again, I was wondering how “worth it” it was to get in all my workouts if I wasn’t going to be able to RUN the marathon… I’d be lucky just to get another finish.


Things turned around when my doc looked at a recent X-Ray of my ankle, and concluded that my pain is caused by a bone spur that the achilles tendon is running right over.  I have gotten 2 medical opinions on this, and both docs agree that I am NOT a major risk for a tendon rupture (short-term), and that I CAN TRAIN THROUGH IT this season.  Wait…. Really??


And RUN I did.  For about 2-3 weeks after this “diagnosis” my body (muscles) had to get used to running again- everything HURT!  Tight quads, calves, IT Band, all these muscles were being used in different ways that they haven’t been all season- Don at Aches Away helped me through this with some great sport massages! 

Once this initial “adaptation” phase blew over, I had six GLORIOUS WEEKS OF RUNNING!!  Maybe it was another subconscious defense mechanism, but my ankle and foot didn’t even hurt.  All the cardiovascular fitness I’ve built up on the bike this year carried over- I was running faster (with easier effort) in training than well…ever.  Even the year I qualified for Boston.  Even the year I ran a 1:39 ½ Marathon.

This gave me hope- I now had eyes for that 11-Hour mark.  I got fired up for swim workouts (gasp!)- I am ENJOYING time in water, and I’m swimming faster than I have in 7 years (not saying much, but still).  I endured some RIDICULOUSLY cold and windy long, long bike rides. 

I NAILED all my workouts and training during the last big blocks, like my friend Chris Sweet said, I've "left almost no stones unturned"… but will it be enough??  Or will my mid-season slacking come back to haunt me? Or will the endurance training I've done over the last 7 years make up for some of it?


I feel like the stars are aligning...
  • Weather looks cool (~70 degrees)- perfect.
  • My husband is coming to spectate- he wasn’t supposed to be home until Dec-Jan :)
  • My mom, brother, good friend, mother-, father-, and sister-in-law are flying out to spectate!
  • I’ve been happy and relatively stress-free the last 2 weeks 
  • My race # is 165… my birthday is 6-5
  • My ankle starting bugging a little again AFTER I finished my last big training block… a simple sign that’s its time to rest and let my body heal up
  • I’ve been a little sluggish on the bike… this will make me HOLD BACK and not over-do it!
  • My swim has been coming along nicely- I will swim aggressively!My super athlete (and preggo) friend Trisha just FEELS like I am going to have the race of my life… and you don’t mess with a preggo momma’s intuition.
In the spirit of “laying it all on the table,” here are my goals:

Swim: 1:20
Bike: 5:35
Run: 3:55
Transitions: 0:08

Total Time:  10:58

I am ready to suffer and give it all I got- my late-season training and fitness indicates that these goals are ACHIEVABLE.  I also know that I might not achieve my goals- my early-mid season slacking, along with my lack of running “base” and durability might catch up with me.  Iron-distance races are a long day- anything can happen. Yes I’ll be a little embarrassed that I shared all this with you if I fail… but it will make tracking me on Sunday a little more exciting right?  Also, Michelle aka Rural Girl ALWAYS puts her big season goals out there for the world to see (via blog title)… and then ACHIEVES THEM.  Send some vibes my way girlfriend!

I can’t wait to finish the final chapter of this story :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?

 Hello all, I’m writing to you from 10,000 ft! 

I’m on the plane on the way to my BIG RACE… but let’s save that post for Friday or Saturday, shall we?? 

My life has been AWESOME lately- you know those times when everything seems to be falling into place, work is going well, life comes so easily, and you are getting along with everybody?  Stress is LOW, and you are HAPPY?  That’s NOW for me!! 

One of the major factors to my “newfound happiness” is that my HUSBAND is HOME!!  Dan is in the Army National Guard, and he was deployed to Iraq for 10 months.  He’s been back in the states for 3-4 weeks, and has been HOME for 2 weeks now, and life is just fabulous.

I sort of expected him to feel like a “special guest” in our home at first since he’s been gone so long… instead, we fell back into our normal routine, and everything just feels RIGHT- our home, our family is COMPLETE again.

I felt I like I held up really well in his absence – I never got depressed or super lonely- I had work, training, friends, and family to keep me busy.  I worried about him, but I also knew that the danger he faced was out of my control.  Without realizing it, I put up a “defense mechanism” and blocked out how much I missed him and worried about him… We were so lucky to be able to skype nearly every day, so I got to SEE him and know that he was OK!!

When he called me that day in late October to tell me that he was back in states and OUT of the warzone, I smiled and laughed and told him that I was so happy and relieved.  After we hung up the phone, it really hit me- he was SAFE.  He was no longer in danger.  He was coming home, back to ME, very soon.  And then to my surprise I let out all the sadness and worry that had subconsciously built up over the last year and cried my eyes out in my car. 

Life is good…don’t take your loved ones for granted.  TODAY, make sure you give your special person (or people) and big hug and kiss and TELL THEM that they mean the world to you, and that your life is better with them in your life!

Here are some pictures that we took last weekend with my Mom and brother- my friend Bea Corbin is a very talented photographer, and from these sample pictures you can see that she does a great job capturing the love and bonds our family shares!