Thursday, October 26, 2006

I'm Back

I don't know where I've been these past few weeks. Every time I decide to update my blog I somehow end up not doing it for some reason. It's been a busy and very strange time since Redman. I'm training for a 50k which is this Sunday, although I don't know if you can call what I've been up to training. It's been nothing like Ironman training. I haven't eaten as well, I haven't trained as much and I haven't felt very inspired lately. Every day I think, this will be the day I discover my new motivation, but often it just doesn't come.

I've also been injured for almost two weeks which hasn't happened to me in quite awhile. I did something to my ankle and it just isn't getting much better. I haven't run since last Tuesday so really my 50k this weekend is in jeopardy.

I did have one great run where I really did think I had found my motivation and inspiration. It was a 10 mile run which I'm not used to doing by myself so I was a little hesitant to go. It was also very cold, windy and overcast. My ankle was really hurting so I was pretty slow for awhile. I started thinking about finishing Redman and what it meant for me. I realized that there was no huge meaning to finishing. It was so much more simple than I thought. The reason I finished is that I put one foot in front of the other until I got reached the finish line. I kept going even when it was hard, even when I was tired and I didn't want to keep going anymore. That's it.

You see, I tend to over analyze pretty much everything in my life. And the lesson of Ironman for me was to quit analyzing sometimes and just be present in the moment. If I had analyzed every moment of my day I never would have finished. My goal was to take everything that happened, deal with it, and move on. I didn't let myself think of that finish line until I only had a few miles left. That was my victory at Redman.

So that's what I take home from Redman. Things don't have to be so difficult for me. Some days it's tough and I don't feel like I can keep going on. But I do and as long as I keep things simple I do alright. I have to take things as they are and not be inpatient or so rushed to figure out the next step. Things will happen and whether it's Redman or relationships or my ongoing quest for a better job, I just need go with it sometimes.

The one thing that really stuck with at Redman was hearing all the other athletes say "keep moving" on the run. It wasn't "you're almost there". Because I wasn't. It wasn't "you look great". Because I didn't. It was "keep moving" and it was that simple. It goes for life too, keep moving even when you're not sure you want to. As I thought about that I began to run again. I started moving and realized I felt pretty good. I stopped thinking about how far 10 miles is or how much my ankle hurt. I became present in the moment again and it felt a lot like those last miles at Redman. I kept moving. I found myself running faster than I usually do without really meaning to. And before I knew it I was home.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Redman - Everything else

Ok, I'm finally going to finish my Redman report. I don't have a whole lot to say about the bike. It was windy, very windy at times. It was tough and there were a few times I seriously considered getting off my bike, sitting down on the side of the road and waiting for someone to come pick me up. Of course I didn't. I kept telling myself to make it to each aid station and then I could quit if I still wanted to. By the time I made it to the aid station, refueled and talked to all the volunteers I was always ready to go again.

The hardest part was going back out for another 56 mile loop and seeing all the athletes finishing their last loop. But I kept going and when I finally finished that 112 miles I was never more ready to get off that bike. There is definitely a moment when you feel like you might never want to get back on a bike again.

I had a slow transition to the run but figured I could use it after the bike ride. The volunteers were great again and had everything laid out for me. I started my first 13.1 mile loop just as the overall winner was crossing the finish line. In some ways it was inspiring to see him finish, in other ways it was a little discouraging knowing how far I still had to go.

My first 6.5 miles of the marathon went pretty well. My legs actually felt better than I thought they would. I still ran a few minutes and then walked some just to make sure I would feel ok on the second loop too. As I was reaching the 6.5 mile turnaround I saw 2 of my teammates just in front of me. It was great to see them and know they were doing ok and also to know I wasn't too far behind them.

I went into the turnaround with a couple of guys who happened to be on their second loop. Army guy said the 3 of us should stick together and "get each other home" I then had to tell them that I was only on my first loop so I wasn't really headed home yet. Army guy said if I would get him home he would get me to the turnaround. For the next 6.5 miles we ran and walked together. We talked and kept each other going as much as possible. For 6.5 miles I forgot to look at my Garmin and just ran and enjoyed Army guys company. We thanked all the volunteers and said something to every athlete we passed. I think that helped pass the time too.

Army guy told me he was hoping to finish in 13 hours so when we had 2 miles left and he had 20 minutes to make his goal I told him to go ahead and run the rest of the way in. He said time didn't really matter and he'd stay with me. I didn't even know how to respond to that. The sun started to go down so we picked up some glow sticks and tried to run as much as possible but ended up walking a lot of the last mile. Finally the trail split - one way to the finish, the other to the 13.1 mile turnaround. We said goodbye, he wished me good look on the rest of my journey and I congratulated him on his finish. The next day I looked up his time and saw that he finished in 13:01. I'm sure he would have been under 13 hours if he hadn't stayed with me.

As I went through the turnaround and picked up my special needs bag I saw my coach and teammates who had done the half. I was so excited to see them and it really gave me the energy to keep going. My coach walked with me a little to see how I was. He asked about another teammate who I had passed a ways back and I told him he didn't look too good. Koach told me to tell him to hurry up and that his koach was waiting for him. This was the first time I realized how much our koach really did care that we finished and that we did well. I knew then that he was proud of me and that kept me going through the next few long, dark hours.

I never found anyone else to run with. There weren't many of us left out there at that point. Except for some lights that had brought in and the aid stations it was very dark and a little cold. But I found that I enjoyed being out there, alone under the stars. My mind wandered and I was able to reflect on this incredible journey that was quickly coming to an end. At this point a lot of people were hurting, many were walking and if they were running it was more of a shuffle than a run. But most managed a few words as we passed. "Great job" turned to "just keep moving" or "you're almost there".

The aid stations and the volunteers were amazing. They were just as enthusiastic toward us as they were toward the winners. Someone would always run out to meet you and find out what you needed so by the time you got the aid station it was ready for you. There was a group of high school kids who wrote all the names of the athletes who were left in chalk on the trail. They really spent a lot of time making us feel important and like athletes. My favorite aid station had to be tailgate with the game on tv and beer in the cooler. On the way back I seriously considered a beer but I don't think that would have turned out too well.

In the last few miles I was alternately so happy I was almost laughing and overwhelmed with emotion at the idea that I was about to finish 140.6 miles. There were a few tears and a few laughs mixed in together. At one point I practiced running with my arms over my head for the finish line - just to see if my arms would still go above my head. Than I laughed at myself for running in the dark practicing my ironman finish.

With a couple of miles to go I could hear the music and the announcer at the finish line. I was so close. I tried to run the last few miles but I started feeling sick so I walked some. I have never been so happy to see a sign as when I saw the 26 mile sign and then the sign pointing the way to the finish line. I made sure to run now and listened to the announcer saying it was my first iron distance triathlon and my first ever triathlon. "Against the Wind" was playing and I remembered that I loved that song. Crossing the finish line was a surreal experience. My teammates were there with high fives and my koach. They put the medal around my neck and my koach gave me a huge hug and it was over. I think I was so surprised to be there I was just in shock. I had finished. 16:03. I didn't know what to say, I didn't cry, I didn't scream. I just tried to take it all in and remember every feeling of this moment.

I had done it. I proved to myself that I have what it takes to finish, to compete in an ironman. I wanted to believe that I had what it took, but I didn't know until the moment I crossed that finish line. Then I knew that my life had changed, that anything was possible, that I was so much stronger than I had thought.

I waited for one more teammate to finish and and spent some time time talking to my koach while the soreness set into my body. Once I sat down I thought I would never be able to get up again. When we left, after midnight, there was still one guy out there. We learned the next day that he finised at 2:30 am. He was an older man and they allowed him to stay on the course even though he was way over time. He was so over time that they had to shut the aid stations down and a volunteer followed him for 2 hours in a truck making sure he was ok. The high school kids felt bad that they had to leave while an athlete was still out there so they left some food and stuff for him. They also wrote him notes on paper plates. One said, Ironman is not a race, it's a state of mind. You are an inspiration." I think that says it all.

Ironman is for everyone, 18 or 70, man or woman, the winner or the last person to cross the finish line. We've all been through the same journey. I can't imagine anything greater than crossing that finish line - except doing it again next year - in 14 hours.

Friday, September 29, 2006


Check out the interview my koach and I did for The Everyman Endurance Show If you're interested in helping me with my fundraising efforts for Team in Training you can email me at I'll have a link up to my fundraising website soon. Thanks for your help! More on Redman later.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Redman - The Swim

Saturday did dawn clear, cool and calm. I made it down to the hotel lobby to meet my team and head out for the race. No one said much, either because we were still asleep or because we were scared to death. The early morning hours flew by as I got body marked, checked my transition bags in, picked up my chip and stood in the porta potty line over and over.


What! It's time already, but I don't have my wetsuit on and I have to pee again, and where is my friend with the Pam to spray on me so I don't chafe from the wesuit. I stood in line for the porta potty again while they continued to tell us to make our way out of transition. Everyone in line agreed they'd have a hard time kicking us all out so we stayed.

I quickly got my wetsuit on. I did find my friend with the Pam so that was a relief. It's hard to explain to people who aren't in the loop why I was spraying myself with Pam and putting on a rubber suit at 6:45 am.

I finally headed down to the lake and stood with my team waiting for the start. There was no turning back now. Part of me was completely ready to jump in the lake and go and part of me wanted to run the other way while I still had the chance. I started to worry about having to pee while swimming so I ran back to the porta potty with minutes to spare. Luckily some guy unzipped my wetsuit and I got back just in time for the start. I know there was music playing but I have no idea what it was, I remember someone singing the national anthem, I think someone said a prayer but I couldn't tell you what they said either.

And then the gun went off. No warning, no countdown, just a gun. And we ran. The water was pretty shallow for awhile so you had to run a ways to get to where you could swim. It wasn't too bad of a start, I'm sure nothing like an Ironman with 2500 people. It was still rough for a ways with people swimming over you and into you and feet in your face. I swallowed a lot of water early and had to stop and try not to choke for a minute.

I know I'm a good swimmer, I have great technique. But honestly, I think I panicked a little out there. For a minute I forgot that I knew how to swim and had visions of drowning in the middle of all these people. I couldn't get into a rhythm and couldn't get myself to calm down. I finally had to turn over and swim backstroke until I could get myself under control. When I looked out and saw the buoy I had to swim to before the turn I seriously considered doing one loop and trying to convince someone to let me do the half. Finally I just swam and before I knew it I had one loop done. I kept looking back to see if I was the only one left and was relieved to see at least a few people behind me.

The second loop ended up being even worse than the first. The sun was coming up and you couldn't see any buoys, just sun. Then the wind picked up and created some pretty big waves. I only breathe to the right side so every time I took a breath a wave would go over my head and I would swallow another mouthful of water. One guy in a kayak told me we were crazy and I told him I sure felt crazy right then. I found myself drifting so far out to the right that I spent the whole time fighting my way back to the buoys. Eventually I reached the last buoy and thought I may never swim again. I felt a little disoriented and had a hard time running out of the swim. I didn't even know what my time was. The best part of the swim was the wetsuit stripping. The pam must have helped because I think my wetsuit was off in seconds.

T1 was great. It was cool to be treated like an elite athlete or something. Volunteers got all my stuff out for me and even put sunscreen on me. I ran out to get my bike and was a little discouraged to see that there weren't many bikes left. Then I heard someone yell my name. It was someone from raceAthlete who said he would take pictures for me and wished me luck. It was cool to see someone I kind of knew and at that moment I felt very happy to be a part of raceAthlete.

Stay tuned for the bike and run.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Redman Continued (The Beginning)

We left on Thursday morning, a rainy, windy and cold morning that made me wonder if this was an indication of things to come. About 140 miles outside of Oklahoma City my fellow team member, SK, pointed out that we should remember how far this was because that's how far we would be going on Saturday.

Well that really puts things in perspective. I stopped my nervous chatter to contemplate that for awhile. Then I decdied it was better not to think about it.

We arrived in OKC and met up with the rest of our team at the hotel. A few of us, me reluctantly, decided to go for a quick bike ride around the lake. Mind you the wind was so strong I could barely open the car door. I had visions of me being blown into the lake instead of just riding around it.

The wind was pretty terrible but I was not blown over the dam and into the lake. I did stop once for a few minutes to calm down and convince myself that a little wind (or 40 mph wind) wasn't going to get me. I noticed my 2 teammates constantly looking back to see if I was still there. I wasn't sure if I should be comforted by that or more worried.

After some lunch and a shower we headed out to pick up our race packets. It seemed like everything we did made what I was facing on Saturday even more real. Dinner was nice chance to relax with everyone and talk a little before the rush that would be the next day. Oh and the beer helped me relax a little too. I just had one this time, not six like before the marathon. Didn't need to make that mistake again.

I slept surprisingly well Thursday night and woke up ready for my first wetsuit swim. We were at the lake by 7am and it was a beautiful morning full of promise. I felt great in the water, like I could swim for miles. Hopefully I would still feel that way Saturday morning. It's amazing how much of a difference the wetsuit makes and, except for the fact that I felt like I was being strangled, it felt pretty cool.

The rest of the day was spent packing, checking and repacking my transition bags, checking my bike into the transition area ('s real now), eating and sitting through a meeting where every boring and obvious question imaginable was asked.

I finally got to bed around 11pm and then woke up again at midnight wondering if it was 4am yet. It wasn't. Damn, more sleeping. I went through the race over and over in my mind and could only hope that Saturday would dawn clear, cool and not too windy. Nothing left to do but wait now.

Monday, September 25, 2006


I don't really know where to start. There's so much to tell about this past weekend it's hard to know where to begin. First I want to say, I finished! My time was 16:03 but that really doesn't matter. All I wanted for my first Ironman was to finish and that's what I did. Time goals will have to wait until next time. It was an incredible experience, one that I will never forget. I've always heard about how Ironman changes people and as I crossed the finish line Saturday I wondered if I would feel any different. Mostly I just felt amazed that I made it, that I had finished and fulfilled a dream and not died somewhere along the way. I'm so excited to have made it but at the same time I feel a little lost. Even though I only trained for a few months it seems like my life became defined by Ironman training. It's strange to wake up and not have to think about how to fit in a 2 mile swim, a 30 mile bike ride or a 6 mile run. So that's all for now. I'm going out for wings and a beer and then it's back to eating well and traing for a 50k run tomorrow. I'll finish this story later, there's still so much to say.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

4 Days Left

Well, not to0 much to say except, 4 days to Redman!! I'm way too excited I think. Which is why I'm sitting here typing instead so sleeping like I should be. I found out my number, 224. It's a good number I think. I'm feeling some good vibes from the 224. I felt like I was getting sick all weekend but I think I managed to kick the colds ass and now I'm feeling pretty good. Just a whole lot of nervous energy that I'm too sure what to do with. It's killing me to sit through work for 8 hours and I'm wishing I had more time to take off. But I don't really know what I'd do at home with all this energy either. So many things have gone through my mind in the past few days.

Sometimes I think I'm ready, sometimes I know I'm ready and sometimes I want to call and see if it's too late to switch to the half.

I think of what it will feel like to cross that finish line and I think of what I'll do if I don't

I think of the person I've become and the person I will be by this time next week. I will be an Ironman. Ok Redman, but whatever.

I think of all the training I've done and hope that it's been enough.

I wonder if there's some thing I could do in the next couple of days that would make all the difference on Saturday. Should I see a chiropractor? Maybe get a massage. Maybe I need a haircut (that's really random). Maybe I should buy some new clothes. What if I had better bike shoes? Maybe I should look for some. What if I don't eat one bit of sugar or one bad thing for the rest of the week? Maybe I should call in to work and lay on the couch for 2 days reading books. What if I fall off my bike tomorrow? Ok, that's a serious concern. What if I'm tired, what if I can't sleep anymore until Saturday?

As you can see if goes on and on. But mostly I know I'm ready. I've trained, if only for 3 months. I've put the time in, I've done the distances. I've conquered fears and pushed myself. I've known without a doubt I could do it and then wondered if I was even justified in starting. But I will start and hopefully I'll come home an Ironman. Everytime I close my eyes I see that finish line and I can feel myself crossing it, hugging my friends, the people I've trained with for months and just feeling alive. I can't wait.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


With all my newfound free time while tapering I've come up with some new ideas. I have a habit of taking things to extremes and my experience with triathlon has been no different. Except I really believe this is the right direction for me and something I will always be involved in.

So I've been thinking for awhile about how I can get more involved or even make this a part of my career. Nothing had really come to me, except coaching which I know I am not ready for. Probably need to do more than one ironman for that.

Recently things have started to fall into place in an interesting way. It all started with seeing a flyer for the IronKids triathlon, which happens to be taking place down the street, and deciding to volunteer. So I've been emailing the race director, who is also training for an ironman. Then I emailed Mike Ricci about getting into coaching at some point who suggested getting involved with youth multisport. After going to the USA Triathlon website I started thinking about a kids triathlon club and wondering if there was one around here.

See my degree is in psychology/special education and a lot of my experience is with parks and rec., and summer camps. I also taught swimming lessons with a former pro triathlete who now has a business managing swim teams and teaching lessons. So I talked to the IronKids race director about it who informed me that Liz Dobbins will be there this weekend and he would introduce me to her.

I had no idea who Liz Dobbins was but apparently she used to be the chairperson for the Age Group Commission and the Women's Commission for USA Triathlon. And she did research on putting a multisport curriculum in high schools. I think she also wrote a book. And she just happens to live in the same town as me. So this is good. I really feel like something could come out of this. It seems like everything has nicely fallen into place lately.

If anyone has any ideas or input I would love to hear them. I'm trying not to get overly hopeful but I am pretty excited about it. Being in the right place at the right time is always good.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Chocolate Malts

Tonight I had a chocolate malt at work. Probably doesn't seem like a very big deal, but oh, it is. A co-worker offered to buy everybody one and for once I couldn't refuse. My co-workers were so surprised they couldn't believe I was serious. They're used to me eating salad, fruit, zone bars, chicken (lots of chicken), but not chocolate malts. It was possibly the best thing I've ever tasted and I do not regret my decision one bit. But then it got me thinking about how much things have changed for me in less than a year.

It might seem weird that a chocolate malt can make me think about change, but it does. Since I started training for the Rock 'N' Roll Marathon in Feb. just about everything in my life has changed. It's not like I think about it all the time but some mornings I wake up and get ready for my swim, bike or run and think about how I never would have, or could have, done this before. I finish a 100 mile bike ride, or 2 mile swim or 16 mile run and occasionaly find myself amazed at how I got to this point. I wonder when I started looking at food as fuel instead of just as food. Sure, I still eat the occasional thing that's just good, especially after a big training, but it's not something I do often.

I think it's important to remember where we were before. After a really hard training or on the days when I don't think it's possible to climb one more hill, or run one more mile I try to be thankful that I can climb that hill or run that mile. The people who are also doing the full ironman on my team are all guys and I usually find myself about 5 or 10 minutes behind them on rides. I always start out right with them and then eventually watch them fade into the distance. It used to make me mad at myself and discouraged until I realized that I'm not competing with them. It's enough that I can ride 100 miles when had a hard time riding 10 before. Now I'm just happy that I catch up at all the stops.

In the end I like the person I've become or am becoming. I feel alive in a way I haven't felt for some time. While ironman training has changed me in numerous ways it has also sustained me through other, more personal changes. Some Saturday mornings when my alarm goes off at 4:15am and I've only had a few hours of sleep I seriously consider going back to sleep. But I never do. And I never regret it either. Once I get to where we're running that morning and head off down the trail as the sun rises I realize that this is exactly where I want to be. And all that from a chocolate malt.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Bike Troubles

"Expensive new bike I can't afford" has been good to me so far. The first time I rode it I knew it would be a good relationship. Unfortunately, I have not been so good to the bike. Of course I've tried, but things just seem to happen to me that don't seem to happen to anyone else. First, I crashed my bike into a curb 3 weeks ago. I lost the road to a car and ran right into a curb going pretty fast. When I got up the bike didn't seem to be too bad off and in fact, it looked better than I felt. I was kind of shaken up though and my shin was killing me so it wasn't until after I got home (had to walk because the front tire was shredded) that I realized that there was a huge dent in the top tube. How I could have missed that before I'm not sure. The dent is probably not that huge but it was, and is, to me. Now I get comments like "That's a nice bike, ohhh, with a big dent". It also feels like there's a dent in my shin to match the one on my bike, but I'm getting over that. So that was bike incident number one.

This Saturday I finally got clipless pedals which I realize is a bit late considering that my ironman is in 2 weeks. I just couldn't really afford them before and when I could it always seemed like the wrong time to get them. We always seemed to have some big ride scheduled that would make getting used to clipless pedals difficult. Anyway, I got them on Saturday and went and rode around the neighborhood with no problems. I was waiting for the inevitable fall but it never came. So Sunday I went out for a short 20 mile ride and felt great. I love the pedals and was especially loving them on the hills. Then with only a few miles to go a guy in a truck on the other side of the road yelled at me to get off the road. It's a 4 lane road and he was on the other side anyway so I don't know what his problem was. While looking at him (not smart) I rode right into a huge crack in the street and my front tire got stuck which caused me to fall (more like tip over). I really wasn't going fast because I had just ridden up a huge hill and was coming to a light. I got up thinking nothing too bad could have happened. But when I got back on the bike the tire wobbled and made a scraping sound every time one part of it touched the brake. Not good. Another slow trek back home with a beat up bike. And the verdict is: The wheel is too bent to be fixed and I need a new one. Definitely can't afford a new wheel right now. But I will somehow.

So I'm stuck with swimming right now. I have been forbidden from running by my coach who says I need to let my shin heal some. I have gotten all my big runs in so I should be ok there. I'm waiting to go back to the bike shop I got my bike from and where we sometimes get good deals in the hopes of them working something out for me. So I'm not biking either. Just swimming. Again.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Beginning

So, I've finally started a blog. We'll see how this goes as I'm not very good at keeping up with writing things. Besides, it's a little late considering that my first ironman is in less than 2 weeks. The journey to ironman came about in a strange way. I ran my first marathon with Team in Training in June and when I started I seriously thought that would be it. But soon after starting (as the running got easier and I could actually make 1 mile without stopping) I was addicted.

I ran the Rock 'N' Roll Marathon in San Diego, hungover (but that's another story), and then randomly decided that training for a full ironman by the end of September was a great idea. I started with a little Trek 1000 bike that my coach helped me pick out but 2 weeks later the little Trek was gone for "way too expensive but really cool bike". I also started out training for the 1/2 ironman and that quickly turned into "I'm sure I can train for a full ironman in 3 month". Sure, no big deal right.

It's been a crazy, wonderful, enlightening, painful at times, and enlightening experience. I have pushed myself further than I ever thought possible, and I haven't even done the ironman yet. I find myself amazed at the new me who can swim, bike and run iron distances. Last week I completed a tough, very hilly century ride that a month earlier I could not complete and had to stop at 75 miles. It felt great to know how far I have come in such a short amount of time.

So now I find myself addicted to triathlon and just as addicted to running. I think what I really love is seeing how far I can go, how much my body and my spirit can take. I plan to keep training for another ironman next year, and also train for a 100 mile run. We'll see how it goes.