Sunday, September 1, 2013

My Journey of 140.6 miles

3.8km Swim~~180km Bike~~42.2km Run

I Did It!
I am still revelling in the fact.
Sort of walking trance-like through the last week...wondering if it really did actually happen.

26 weeks of training.
Gear bought....
a lot of money spent.
Early mornings.
Social life on hold.
Head battles.
Life demands.

Determination a must.

But I did it.
14 hours -23 minutes -6 seconds

Last Sunday...August 25th 2013- I woke up at 3:45am...choked down a "breakfast"...and made it to the Body Marking area by 5am.
 Between 3:45am and the 6:30am swim mind was a battle field. I have never had to fight off thoughts as I did within those few hours. What a war.
I must have conquered something though..
I lined up at the waters edge at 6:30am 
and ran into the water on the sound of the horn....right into
choppy, washing machine water...
and swam 3.8km.

I honestly think that was the easiest part of the race for me...when I thought it would be most difficult.

3.8km in 1 hour  and 22 minutes.

I enjoyed the swim.

Open water swimming has never been a love of mine but I actually enjoyed this.
Anticipating the 180km bike ride ahead...I felt the swim a perfect opening to the race...and it eased my brain in the fact that if I could get through that distance in choppy open water surrounded by 100's of people...I could manage a long bike ride over a mountainous pass on 2 wheels just fine.

And I did.
Almost 7 hours of up and down and heat and wind and passing and being passed.
Hoping I was fueling properly.

Waving at my Cheer Squad in the matching T-shirts they made especially for me.... it kept my spirits up when they wanted to plummet...lamenting over the fact that at the end of this bike...I had a marathon waiting for me to run.

TEAM 389
"If you find me collapsed on the side of the road- please stop my Garmin"

Just when I thought I had cycled up the last hill...another one loomed ahead.
At one point...11km of incline greeted me around a turn.
It took my breath more ways than one.
But I tackled the hills - hoping to do so before they tackled me.

(A very welcome descent;))

It was just the head games...of where I was...

would I get a flat?
was I eating enough to get through he bike and onto the run?
who was passing me?
who could I pass?

Head Games.
Your worst enemy during a race.

One of the signs held up by my Cheer Squad was... 
"It's All in Your Head".
How true that is.

I entered Transition 2 just under 7 hours..and spent 6 minutes changing into running gear.
I felt okay.
And my running legs actually worked.

For the 1st 23km....I walked/ran/walked..consuming water, coke, and watermelon.
Luckily the day wasn't as hot as originally anticipated. It was more along the lines of what I was used to training in....26/27 C.
The run course was beautiful...along a lake edge, and I was continually greeted by inspiring spectators at every turn...cheering and applauding the entire 42.2km.
I wish those people knew what it meant to hear their applause and congratulations and inspiring words....when all I could think of was- OUCH.

The 23km mark of the run is where I seemed to lose it.
Looking back I sum it up to the fact that I didn't consume enough water on the bike.
In fact...I think I only managed to down 4 bottles of fluid from race start to the run portion...which wasn't near enough.
So my body said.

I'm kicking myself now...
if I would have kept my run pace consistent, 
and consumed more water on the bike,  
I am pretty confident I would have completed this race in my Goal time of under 14hours.

But no luck. My body said walk...and me being weak in the head- did.
It was a long 19km of run for 1km...walk for 3. 
Run 500m...walk for 2km.
And so it went until I finally heard the finish line celebrations.

As the sun set...and I got closer to the Finish head kept yelling to move.
And my feet kept yelling to stop.
But I didn't.
I moved. 
As slow as it was...I moved forward...I knew I was going to see this to the end.

14 hours and 23 minutes from when I stood at the waters edge early that morning.....I crossed the Finish Line with my arms up.
The last 6 months of sweat...sleeplessness...loneliness..frustration....all wrapped up into one final step across a line marked with a banner....saying.... I finished.

This was by far the biggest goal I set out to accomplish when I started this Triathlon Journey.
It was what I have worked for over the last 3 years-
as I went from Sprint distances... 
to Olympic...
to the Half-Ironman last summer.

This was THE race.

I managed to get there.
And now-  it's done.


I could not have conquered this alone.

Over the many weeks of training I have had an incredible friend cheering me...
biking as my "pacer" while I ran...
driving as my support vehicle while I biked long Sunday rides for hours on end...
sitting at the waters' edge while I swam.....
inspiring and encouraging.
Making sure I had everything I needed to train and race with.

Kiddos who kayaked beside me when I did Open Water I panicked my way through them...listening to my lamenting and wondering if I could really do this.

I also had a daughter who believed in me...who wouldn't let me quit...who told me I had come this far- it was too late to bail out now...and who whispered in my ear at the start line: "I'm proud of you Mom."

Those who texted me...sent letters and cards and emails of "Good Luck"...right up until the Start line minute.

The "Great Job Mom" banner taped up in the hallway when I got home at midnight the day after...exhausted and tired and sleepless.

Those were the things I will hold close when I remember this race.
Those who believed I could do it when I whined I was done.
The encouragement at the low spots...and who wouldn't let me quit even if it meant their sacrifices for me to do it.
Thank you. From the bottom of my heart...thank you. I sit here and look at my Bucket List of races...and realize I have them all crossed off...I have a choices to make. Of where to go from here. Not only with events and sporting races...but life things.
Where to go...what to to juggle....
I can take it as an overwhelming mess...or a Challenge.

I'm thinking the latter.

3.8km Swim        1:22:09
180km Bike         6:57:28
42.2km Run        5:51:16

Monday, October 1, 2012

My 18 Hour (should have been 24) Run

~Logo designed by Alex
One of my "support people". Thank you!~

I am a bit disappointed I couldn't have titled this - "My 24 hour Run".
My Dedmonton event of 24 hours of running..and I only got through 18.
I have to admit I am disappointed in me. 
Maybe not so much me, but my body...

Friday evening, 7 pm, the race director announced GO~
and the group of us took off on an adventure of running the same 4 km loop for 24 hours.
It was a perfect evening.

The moon was coming up, warm, no wind, leaves crunched under our feet, and we all ran together for the first part of the loop- making introductions and well- wishing one another.
It was a beautiful loop. The trail rolled  through decked out fall-colored trees.
And for the first few hours I ran 2 laps of this loop every hour. 
Right on schedule for my goal of 100 km in 24 hours.

Every lap I did I would run with someone new, or as the night went on- alone.
As it turned dark I donned my headlamp, but the moon was so incredibly bright I used it instead.
I lucked out and saw a gigantic porcupine lumbering across one section of the trail, and a coyote out for a stroll.
The beauty of it all  kept me going in more ways than one.
It was a perfect- feel good evening. One that made you feel blessed just to be alive and able to move.

~Taken by mom who came with my dad and my youngest to watch me run a few loops.
 Thank you!~

My head stayed focused, and the hours passed by incredibly quick.
After 5 hours I remember saying to myself, "I only have 19 hours more to run."
Who SAYS that?
I did. And it felt okay and good.

At 44 was the farthest I had run in my life.
At 52 km...I was over halfway to my goal mark of 100 k.
And it was around 2 am. 

For some reason...that was when my body started to ache.
It was bearable and I managed to run all flat parts and downhills, continuing on walking the inclines.
At the aid station I would use the foam roller and try to un~knot my legs...taking off on the next lap feeling okay. But a km in I would start feeling it again.
I could go in to detail about the pain...where it started and how it worked its way down my legs...but I will save you the boredom and just say that when it hit my ankles, I started to calculate the time left and if  I was going to reach my  goal. 

I began by running 2 loops an hour.
By the time the 12 hour group began their race at 7am Saturday morning, I was down to one 4 km loop every 45 minutes.
At noon, it took my 1 hour and 25 minutes to run (walk) once around the course.
I couldn't believe it was happening.

I kept telling myself to let go of my distance goal and make a new goal of just continue to move for 7 more hours so as to cross the finish line at 7 pm that night.
My head still felt sane, and although I was tired, I felt like running. 
I WANTED to run. That was what I WANTED!

~The Skeleton Runner~

One more loop took me to the 80 km mark. It also took me 1 hour and 40 minutes to do. At times I would just stop, look down at my feet/ankles and my head would yell. 
THEY weren't supposed to give out on me! They were what was supposed to keep me going!!

 1 pm: the Race Director and I had a chat.
I decided to stop and ice my feet/ankles and try to make them workable again...even if it only meant running for the last couple hours of the race.
Once I stopped...I realized just how bad things were.
And when I tried to stand, there was no support in my ankles.

Needless to say I felt devastated.
I hadn't stayed up through the night running just to quit at 18 hours because of useless ankles.
I HADN'T reached my limit yet!!
But my body had.

I sat a while watching runners pass by the aid station...wishing I was out there. Trying to will my ankles to fix themselves so I could continue on.
By 3 pm I knew it wasn't going to happen and I pulled from the race.
And talk about a head battle.
Kicking myself for not finishing, yet feeling okay with the fact that I had just run 50 miles for the first time in my life.
Telling myself I was supposed to keep it up for 24 hours, but realizing that I had just run 12 hours longer than I had ever done before.

Now as I sit with my legs elevated, monitoring baseball size ankles and hoping that someone will remember me up here as I cannot climb down the stairs....I am happy with what I did.
I didn't reach my mental 
But my body had.
And I kind of needed my body to continue.
Mind and body make a good running team.

I watched the race until the end, and felt honored to have been able to run with these amazing and determined people who had it in them to keep going.
I also was able to watch incredible Support Guy for the first 7 hours of my run...finish 55 km in 6 hours!! 
Which....leads me to my "crew".....

How I would have done this thing without you 3? I have no idea!
They got me what I needed/wanted through every hour, bandaged and  iced my feet, water/fed me, listened while I lamented, cried, and hysterically laughed in my tired state...and encouraged me along the 18 hours I did run.
Thank you guys.
(And I was told that somewhere in there I promised you all a trip? ;) We can chalk that up as mental-insanity from lack of sleep...but if you're all up for it...I know that the Caribbean is nice in January:D)

Overall: I wouldn't have traded this adventure for anything.
And yes... I am going back next year and trying that out again.
I KNOW I can do it. 

My head AND my body!

Monday, September 3, 2012

My "Submit~Happy" finger

It seems this year has been full.
Almost too full.
And I don't mean with just every day events and schedules...I mean with added events which are completely within my control.
Like the control I SHOULD have had when it came to "trigger~happy finger".
Or rather...The "Submit Happy Finger".

It pushed submit on maybe one too many events for the racing season, (for where I am at in my life)...yet it seemed I was helpless to stop it.
                                           I just kept hitting submit. 
Almost without considering injuries or last place finishes;)

This year's racing schedule looked as follows:

March          Hypothermic ~Half Marathon
                    Indoor Rowing Championships  (with kiddo #1)

April            Bow River Run      ~5km Run      (with kiddo #4)
                   Spring Thaw Run ~10km Run

May             Woodys ~Marathon

June            Sprint Triathlon   (with all 4 kiddos)

July             Tour de 'lAlberta ~175km bike tour
                    Calgary 70.3 ~Half Ironman

August         Energizer Night Race ~10km Run  (with kiddo #1,#2,#4)
                    Moose Mountain ~Marathon

{And yet to come:}
September's Schedule~ 
                                           Rocky Mountain ~Half Marathon
                                           24 Hour Run....(need I say, the most daunting of all.)

I have to say that I probably chose the worst year to be "Submit Finger Happy" with these events. It's been a crazy year, not only with kiddos and their schedules, but changes in my life that have more than once- thrown me off track when it comes to training diligently and performing my best in these events.

Then could also consider the fact that, running and cycling and swimming and rowing make me quite a happy person. (For the most part.)
And I crossed many goals of my list this year...
 such as the Marathon (times 2), a beautiful Century Ride, the intimidating Half Ironman...and with fingers Ultra will be added to that list come the end of this month.

And while in the middle of a run or any type of race...there are these thoughts that cross my exhausted brain at least once during the course:
I am blessed to be able to do this... and our bodies are amazing machines which have been incredibly created. There isn't much one cannot do if one only uses their determination to get through. 

(and yes...we all hold that determination. 
We just need to use it.
 In ANY and EVERY area of our lives.)

My thought is this: 
If I can tackle a race on an injured foot~
Get lost on a marathon course and still finish while in a mental battle~
If I can train while my life is upside down in more areas than 3~
If I can run sleepless in a 10km and still finish with a smile~
          .....there isn't much that the human spirit can't overcome if only it perseveres.
And determines to carry on through the pain. 
And the breathlessness of it all.

And it seems as though my Submit Happy Finger keeps on twitching.
I just hit Submit on my first Full Triathlon for next year.

That's a
3.9km Swim~ 180km Bike~ 42.2km Run 
...of pure determination!
Bring It On!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Calgary 70.3~ My First Half Ironman

I crossed yet another race off my "race bucket list" last weekend.
A Half Ironman which I started and finished...
all 70.3 miles of it!

Out of all the race events I have ever done...this has been the farthest, longest, and most fun.
Maybe it was because I feel I trained forever and I was glad to finally put it to use.
Maybe it was because after crossing the finish line I felt I could do it all over again.
Or maybe...I was just glad to accomplish something I was determined to do. And I actually smiled almost the entire way through it!

Ironman Calgary 70.3....
was a Point to Point race....meaning a very long Saturday of sitting in on the race meeting, package pickup, packing up transition and dry bags, and then making my way out to Ghost Lake to drop off T1 bag and my bike.
All of it was so new to me, my longest triathlon being an Olympic distance...and being an Ironman sanctioned event didn't help calm my nerves any.
As long as the day was...and for how nervous I felt, it was calming to know I was doing this race with 2 good friends ...and the scenery which surrounded this event was absolutely amazing.

I actually was able to sleep a bit before my alarm went off at 3:45am, and except for a bit of panic when I realized what I was about to do in a few hours, I felt okay...and was able to choke down half a bagel with peanut butter and a bit of banana with some coffee. Body marking and bus pickup was across the city, so by 4:50 I was the dark...wondering what was to come of the day.
Riding out to the lake with a bus load of athletes who all looked fitter than I, caused me a bit of panic as well....but I tried to focus on where we were driving and where the bike route would be.

Once we arrived at the lake, it seemed there was hardly enough time to fill my bottles on my bike, stock it with my nutrition, pump the tires, stand in line for the washroom, don my wet suit, and get into the lake for the in-water Start. I felt extremely panicked thinking they would blow the horn before I finished all I had to do, but looking back- I'm thrilled I didn't have time to think!
I was in the water maybe a minute before Start time...and before I knew it there I was, beginning my first Half Ironman event in the middle of over 200 other women in my age group. I can happily say my fear of getting kicked or swam over never occurred.

The swim segment is always unnerving to me.
I know I can swim.
I love to swim.
But the unknown takes over my brain and I let my thoughts win out.
Every time.
So for the first 600m my main goal seemed to be just to stay above water and calm my beating heart.
I talked to myself more in that few minutes than I ever have before.
My head was yelling to just go!! while my body wanted to stop and yell HELP!
All negative thoughts crowded out the excitement and for that short bit of time I called myself stupid for even thinking I could do this.
But....I conquered the monster called irrational fear...and within  minutes I found my rhythm and started to breathe like a normal person.
At one point I do remember wondering where my cheer squad was, and actually stopped to look up along the bridge before I swam under it just to see if my kiddos were there. Of course when I saw them I had to make sure they knew just which one of these swimmers in the pink swim caps I was.
So unlike me it was to stop and wave- but I had to. For some reason I needed the comfort of knowing they knew that  I knew -they were there.
(Besides goggles needed to be cleared;)


Molly-girl took a picture of me as I swam under the bridge.
I'm glad I stopped to wave;)

After I found my swim legs and arms...I just went. And I actually enjoyed the swim.
There was one point at about the halfway mark when I heard a lady choking beside me and stopped to make sure she was okay.
I remember thinking that if she couldn't catch her in the world would I manage to call a kayaker over in time for help?!
When she quit sputtering and found her voice, I carried on and came out of the swim:

1.2 mile swim  in 43:40

Wet suit stripping.
I had heard of it, but had never seen it occur.
I have always wondered why one would need help taking a wet suit off.
Now I know.

I felt a tad dizzy from the lake swim, legs felt like jello, and I was trying to catch my breath.
Before I knew it I was sitting down on a mat looking up at 2 people who grabbed arms, legs, and peeled that thing right off of me in seconds. 
My only thought as I looked up at them was how the heck I was going to get up.
But they even did that for me;) 

(Yes. I DID feel as stunned as I look here;))

I took off to my  bag for my bike gear, ate half a banana, got on my bike, 
and started the 94km cycle into Calgary.  
Transition took a little too long, but under 5 minutes was fine with me for a first time.
(I am planning to knock off a few next time around.)

The bike was amazing. 
I felt long as I didn't think of the potential of a flat tire. Or 2.
And the scenery was absolutely incredible.
At times I almost forgot I was supposed to be racing. 

My greatest worry- aside from a flat tire- was taking in enough nutrition to get through the bike, and then have it carry over into the 21km run.
I have played with nutrition before while training, and even the weekend before during my 175km bike tour. 
But nothing has ever seemed to work for me. 
I always end up drained before the bike is even over .
This time...whether it was adrenaline or just luck, I managed to do it right.
Over the  3 hours I was out on the bike route I consumed something every half hour. 

Nutrition included:
granola bars,
and fruit snacks.
I also consumed an entire bottle of water, and a bottle of Perform.

My average speed was 29.54km/hr, and for a 94km distance which included some very "sweet" inclines, I was happy with this.

94 km in 3:10:56
 ...and I smiled the entire time:D
(TRANSITION TIME (bike to run):  2:50 min)

Getting off the bike- I felt amazing.
I didn't even feel like I had "brick legs", and I'm crediting that to my fruit gummy snacks on the bike:)

If anything, it was more of a mental struggle to think that I now I had to run a Half Marathon...but I pushed it out of my head and pretended I hadn't just swam or biked.
This was merely me taking off for my Sunday long run!

It was encouraging to see my greatest fans along the run course. All 4 of my kiddos were there, and it seemed every time I turned a corner at the start and end of the run route, they were there cheering me on.

It was warm. Really warm.
No, it was hot.

And here is where I have to pull out an 
Amazing Gigantic 
to all the volunteers!
There was a total of 8 aid stations along the route, and it's at each one where I was blessed with volunteers handing me water, coke, ice, and cold sponges.
And best of all, they all encouraged us on by name.

I came up with a routine after the first 3 aid stations..
Grab 2 waters, dump one over my head,
drink one,
grab and drink the cola,
grab and dump ice into the front of my tri top,
and 2 sponges got stuffed into the front and back of my top.
I was a running water barrel!

And I felt amazing.
I still think it is due to the calories I continued to take in on the bike route.

Along with the water and coke during the run, I consumed a gel every 40 minutes.
By the end, 
I vowed to never consume another gel 

The last kilometer was the longest kilometer in all my days of running.
I remember halfway through it, a spectator yelled out...

"If you give''ll finish with a sub 6:30!"

That was enough to make me forget that my legs were cramping and I was already feeling thirsty enough to grab ice out of the front of my top!
I "sprinted" as hard as my wooden legs would sprint, and finished the run:

21.1km in 2:26:56

My goal, which I didn't share with anyone less I miss it by any amount of time,
 was to complete these 70.3 miles in 6 hours and 30 minutes.
My final time:


This race was amazing. 
From start to finish it was a beautiful course,
I never quit smiling (once I got past the first part of the swim!),
I got to run it with 2 amazing friends,
and I already want to try my swim/bike/running at another one.

A full Ironman is on my race bucket list after all...

~My inspirational race buddies~

~My AMAZING Cheer Squad~
Thanks guys!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Best Laid Plans....

A week ago I finalized my race schedule for Year 2011.
There were 8 races on that list....2 of which I've completed this past month.
Others on the list:  a marathon, a 185km bike tour, a marathon mountain run, a Half Ironman, and even an Ultra....something I never dreamed I would THINK of attempting.

It seems ironic that my last post was on feet...and being grateful for them, because as I sit here typing- it's with my left foot up on 2 pillows wrapped in an ice pack.
I have had one physio appointment already and another tomorrow...and a bone scan booked for next week. There's been talk of just bruising...or something to do with tendons in my foot.....even a possible stress fracture.

Who would have thought?
The best laid plans..huh?

Funny (but not so funny) part is,
I was to begin a "job" as a running instructor just yesterday.
(The call to cancel my "instructorship" was most difficult.)

And my first ever marathon is only 60 days away.
(I have had offers already for my bib number...disheartening.)

I'm not ruling out my scheduled races. (Or trying not to.)
And I have a few people being optimistic for me and saying it will right itself before long.
My fingers...(and toes if they could move)...are crossed for a speedy recovery of whatever it is.

But whatever comes of it....I TRULY am trying to grasp a positive outlook on it all.
And TRYING HARD  not to mourn the loss of a run whenever I pass a running route of mine.

If nothing else...I'm going to be a improved long distance swimmer, as that is about the only sport I can participate in without having my foot swell up the size of an ugly baseball. This week I've already swam 11kilometers....of back and forth and back and forth ...and back and forth.

Whatever happens.....I promise to try to remain positive, realize things could be worse, and continue to gaze longingly at my running roads as I pass by them on a daily basis. From my vehicle.

Here's to ice packs
sweet Physio workers
a "positive" bone scan result.

And no missed races if possible.

The Best Laid Plans can still happen....even if there has to be adjustments made...or routes re-routed.

Learning to Fall and get Back Up}

Thursday, February 16, 2012

From pretty to pretty ugly.

Three years ago when I started all this running/triathlon business...
I thought my feet were the only nice thing I had on me.
I loved sandal weather.
I wasn't worried to take my shoes and socks off.
Baring my feet at the beach wasn't scary at all.

after the hours in chlorinated water swimming lanes,
and hours of pounding gravel and pavement in my numerous pairs of runners,
and cycling in bare feet inside my fancy clip~less pedal shoes?
Those feet are gone.

I used to cringe when people posted pics up of their battered feet and toes. And cover my ears in disgust when they relayed the gruesome details about foot information after a run.
Missing toenails, callouses, strange shaped toes and blisters....
It was all just wrong.

Now...I'm turning into "one of those people".
I don't think my own feet will ever be the same.

Funny thing is....I don't even care.
I go back to the saying....
"It doesn't matter what something looks like, it's what's inside that counts."

I finally figured out that the pride I have in my pretty-ugly-now-feet comes from what they can do for me.
And I think that this summer....regardless of the 3 missing toenails and strange bumps...I'll still flaunt my feet at the beach.
Being thankful for the Feet that Have a Purpose and serve me well.
Much better than being pretty;)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Double the Time in my Day

I finally sat down and "totaled my Totals for 2011".

If I step back and look at seems okay.
But when I broke  it all down~ I'm lacking in the running department!
I did swim more than I thought, but I need to spin out a few more km's than I did on the bike.
My hiking meters need to pick up too.... for 2012;)

Over the entire 365 days of 2011, here are where my kilometers are found:

Running            876km
Cycling            2,234km
Swimming      243km (who swims more than they walk??!)
Walking            215km
Other                   294km
(includes cross-country skiing, kayaking, and hiking)
                             which leaves me with a total of:  3,862km

For this new year, and especially if I'm doing another 1/2 Marathon as well as 2 full, my running should probably be almost double that!
Thankfully I have a trainer right from the beginning this year, so given our 6 months of crappy road weather, I should still be able to increase mileage on the bike. With the 185km bike tour in July, this would be a good thing!
Swimming... I'm actually surprised I swam that far, but with the Half_Iron man ahead...I want to increase that as well.

As for walking with friends and the dogs, hiking up my most favorite mountains...well that is just a given. I need to double those kilometers!!

Now if one can just find the time to double their steps and swims.

Anyone know how to Double their Time in a day?