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!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Quick Post with updates, thoughts, etc...

  • My foot/ankle decided to get better about a month ago.  Coincidentally, my motivation skyrocketed.

I NAILED my last (biggest) training cycle.  Workouts are now winding down- shorter, faster, and lots of race-pace interval on the swim/bike/run.  Cycling on my Kestrel is strong (as it has been all year), I'm making progress on the swim, and running has been going RIDICULOUSLY well.  I am SO excited for my race in 3 weeks- My original goal (10:xx)  seems reachable... still a stretch since I don't have the "cumulative" miles on my legs, I would NEED a quick bike split, but I can't over-ride it... so we SHALL SEE!! 

I've had some GREAT training partners on some TOUGH workouts....I've done several 100-115 miles where we have gone 50 miles out with a tailwind, then had to BATTLE the headwind on the way back.  No turns, no stops, no trees, no corn, etc... it's a barren wasteland out here.  It's MIND-NUMBING  mental toughness training...Thanks Tamara, Brian, and Mark!!

Running- holy sh*t.  I'm running faster than I was 3 years ago when I was running WELL- It's going to be a total wildcard on 11-20, I can't wait to see how the run unfolds!!  Steve has been keeping me company on my runs (even though he JUST rocked the Chicago Marathon less than a month ago!)- THANKS!!

Swimming- lots of pool time!  I'm figuring out how to maintain "momentum"... I've also figured how NOT to ruin my hair by using SBR Sports swimcare (see bullet point below for the importance of this!)  :)

I've also been using the new First Endurance Pre-Race capsules during my "race-specific" workouts, and it's been AWESOME!  No GI distress that I've had with the powder, and I've been DELIVERING on all the intervals and workouts prescribed by JH.  Excellent.  I have my nutrition dialed in- I'm using FE Liquid Shot (Vanilla) and EFS (Tart Lemon-Lime and Fruit Punch) for the race.  Throughout the year I've been trying to use 2x strength of concentrated EFS so I wouldn't have to use special needs- even with plenty of water intake, it never sit well with my stomach, so I WILL be using Special Needs half-way through the bike to pick up more regular-strength bottles...I know it works and I love how it tastes, so no need to risk it!

My dog is so cool too.  He's done 90% of my runs with me this year- he's such a good little runner.  Vizslas are MEANT to run- he keeps up on fast runs, and he recently "PR-ed" with his longest distance to date- 15 miles! 

I'm doing all the race-prep now... packing lists, final product/gear ordering- PS I NEED A NEW AERO HELMET... mine broke :(  travel and time management before and during race week... so exciting!

With race registrations opening up, I'm also getting psyched for next year- there are 15-20+ Tri-Sharks heading up to REV3 Wisconsin Dells next year- yay!!  I'll definitely be at REV3 Knoxville again (LOVE the bike course... and the new hills on the run course!), and after working REV3 Anderson this year, that looks like a fun one too...

  • Best News Ever----   MY HUSBAND IS COMING HOME!!!
After being deployed since January, he is coming home on FRIDAY!!!!  My life is awesome.  He is the coolest guy ever and I can't wait to be with him all.the.time from now on!!!  Enough said!  I <3 Dan Wheatley!

Check out these stories about his unit's homecoming!!