Change is never easy, even if it is something that you desire. It can be very scary venturing into the unknown, but it can also be extremely rewarding and bring about new opportunities you never could imagine. It can be the start of a whole new chapter in your life and if you never dare to try you never know what amazing adventures await you.
I don’t want to wake up in 10 years thinking about the things I wish I had done. I don’t want to wait until …I retire, I have more money, its the right time, etc… because that time may never come. Sometimes, you just have to take the plunge.
So , David and I have decided to do just that. Several weeks ago, we purchased a 4 x 4 Sprinter van and we have decided to take life on the road. We will both be leaving our current jobs and traveling across the USA and Canada. David will be working on building the van, full-time, over the next 2-3 months while I continue to work a little bit longer. Our plan, as of now, is to travel for at a least year. We want to explore the National Parks, State Parks, Forest Service, BLM land, cities and states and regions we have never seen. We want to visit with friends and family that we seldom get to spend time with. We want to train and race in places we have only seen in pictures. We want to meet new and interesting people along the way. And we want to do all of this while we can, while we are young and healthy and able. To say we are excited is an understatement.
We have already started the build out with the installation of our roof fans. That was a bit nerve racking, cutting two big holes into the roof of a new van!! We have a lot of van projects ahead of us but we also have training and races to prepare for. Don’t worry, my training and racing posts wont disappear, that is still my passion and the reason I started this blog.
So, please follow along our journey, into a new chapter in our lives. I cant wait to share it with all of you.
It has been 4 weeks since my big race and I have focused on recovery and listening to what my body needs most. It has been a time to think about what I learned throughout this season of racing and what I want to accomplish next season. I have promised, myself and David, not participate in any races from now through the end of the year. I love racing so this has been a difficult commitment, but something that was really important to do. I need some down time, time to re-group, time to re-focus, time to spend with my family and dog, and time to work on my weaknesses. I decided to try something new, Hot Yoga. I really need to work on my core strength, abdominals, back, pelvic floor muscles, all the things most runners and triathletes are terrible at doing. I found an amazing yoga studio in Seattle (Breathe Hot Yoga) that not only has bikram yoga but a class called Hot Pilates. What is Hot Pilates, you ask. Hot Pilates is a challenging, full body, high intensity interval training workout performed on a yoga mat in a heated studio. I went to my first class and was immediately hooked. I have also started back at crossfit on a more regular basis. It is something I have been very passionate about since I started 5 years ago. I will slowly start to run and swim as I begin to think about my 2018 race season.
I have 2 for sure races on the calendar and the rest is still up in the air. SwimRun Lake James in Nebo, North Carolina on April 7 followed by the Boston Marathon about a week later. I am super excited for both of these races. SwimRun will be a totally new experience for David and I and we are hoping to do a few more of these in 2018. It is an up and coming sport in the US and it is exciting to be a part of an inaugural race.
Who knows what other new adventures 2018 will hold, only time will tell. I will certainly keep you all updated on my race plans as they unfold, so stay tuned.
It has been 3 weeks since the Ironman World Championship and I have finally decided I should sit down and put some thoughts on paper. This experience, this race has far exceeded any and all expectations I had. I have many years of experience volunteering at the World Championship but it is so different being a participant.
David and I got to Kona 2 weeks prior to race day. I thought this would allow me to train on the course and acclimate, as best as I could, to the heat and the wind. Well, that was one of the best decisions we made. It was great to be able to train on the Queen K, Ali’i Drive and in the Energy Lab. I was able to ride almost the entire bike course during those 2 weeks which was a real eye opener. We had sun and clouds and unbelievable winds on some of those days, very humbling, but so much fun as well.
I was also able to enjoy the town with less crowds and relax a bit without the stress of work or other distractions. We hung out with friends, went out to dinner, went swimming in the ocean almost every day and just enjoyed island life! And ate lots and lots of Poki, my favorite.
I did have one big stressor that was hanging over my head (other then the race). As the winner of the Ironman Sports Medicine Conference race slot, I was asked to speak about “My Road to Kona”. I was well prepared, having practiced my speech many times, but I never made it through the entire talk without a meltdown. This has been an extremely emotional journey for me and there was no hiding that. It was amazing to me how much lighter I felt after my talk and could then just focus on having the best day possible. Check out my you tube video, https://youtu.be/MCGY4YACpKk . Unfortunately, our video shut off right before I thanked all of those who supported me throughout this journey.
My brother joined us the week before the race and my parents several days before the race. It was so much fun to have them experience the energy and electricity surrounding the race. To have them see first hand why I am so passionate about triathlon and the community and why I keep coming back to Kona year after year after year.
Race day, what can I say, other then it was everything I could ever imagine and then some. It was hard, quite possibly the hardest race I have ever done. Don’t get me wrong, I have had other really hard races, both emotionally and physically, but this race was different. I was racing with the best triathletes in the world, in the lava fields of the Big Island, with unrelenting sun, heat and wind in every direction. But, I loved every single minute of it. I don’t really recall a race where I had a smile on my face the entire race despite the brutal conditions. It was an absolutely perfect day in every way and as Mike Reilly stated when I crossed the finish line, “Dreams do come true”!
So, if you want to be inspired, check out this youtube video, you wont be disappointed. https://youtu.be/rdCW_777CE8
It has been a few weeks since I have sat down to write. I really want to make this a weekly blog but time got away from me a bit over the past few weeks. It has been a very busy couple of weeks leading up to the Ironman World Championship race. We are now 10 days away from the big day and I have a little bit more time now as my training starts to taper. I came to Hawaii 2 weeks prior to the race to try and acclimate to the heat and humidity and get familiar with infamous winds of the Queen K highway. It has been a relaxing and stress free few days with some good training on the race course.
This is my 8th year here for the race (my first visit was in 2007) but my first time competing. I have attended the medical conference and volunteered in the medical tent for all but one year and it has been an amazing experience. I have met some of the most generous, caring and fun people who I now call my friends. We may not see each other for an entire year, but we pick up right where we left off. I highly recommend volunteering for this, or any other race, local or otherwise. Volunteers are invaluable to the success of the race and without them the race does not go on. This is why I volunteer, this community supports me every time I race and I want to do the same for others. It is also so inspiring to watch amazing athletes, at any level, race, to hear their stories, to hear their why.
My why has many answers, but one of the most important ones is being able to do something for those who are unable to participate in such physical endeavors. Years ago, I said if I ever got an opportunity to race in Kona it would have to be about more then just me, it has to be about something bigger. So, on November 7, 2016 I found myself with an amazing opportunity, to race in Kona. The something bigger was a no brainer for me, to raise $10,000 for the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center and the patients it supports. My mother has been battling lymphoma for 15 years and unfortunately I have had other family members and friends affected with blood cancers. I have never been good at asking people for money but have worked hard to reach my goal. I am proud to say that as of today I have raised $12,725 with a new goal of $15,000 by race day. This is near and dear to my heart and I think it is possible to meet that goal. So, if this cause speaks to you, please consider helping me reach my new goal of $15,000 by October 14, 2017.
And don’t forget to track me on race day
35 days and I will find myself in the waters of Kailua-Kona bay with 1600 other amazing athletes. For me, as for most people, this is an opportunity of a lifetime. It is a where I get to race, on the same course, on the same day as the best triathletes in the world. I didn’t secure a spot as most of the 1600 athletes do, with a qualifying Ironman race. I am not an elite athlete, not the fastest or strongest in my age group by any means, but I will be there at the starting line. I have volunteered in the medical tent at the World Championship race for the past 8 years and was fortunate enough to be rewarded for my dedication to the Ironman community.
Dedication is the quality of being committed to a task or purpose and training for a race like this takes 110% and then some. For some of my other 7 Ironman races I had a coach, but not all of them. This time was different, this time I decided to hire a coach (Complete Human Performance coach Jon Fecik). Kona is not just any other Ironman, it is the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. I have had the utmost commitment and dedication to my training for this race. I am not saying that I didn’t miss workouts, I did. I work full time, have a husband and a dog and well, there is just life that happens. I tried to be as consistent as possible everyday and not miss key workouts. I was honest with myself and with my coach about what I could do and what I couldn’t. I have made sacrifices along with my family. And I hope, come race day, it all pays off.
I have had a stellar racing year and I believe it is all due to my commitment and dedication. I ran my first 50 miler, my first Boston marathon, had my marathon PR and most recently, my Half Ironman PR by almost 10 minutes. Almost 10 minutes faster then I was back in 2006, when I was 36 years old.
This says 2 things to me, one is that good coaching really works. If you have a good coach/athlete relationship, the athlete can really thrive, but the athlete needs to give 110% too. Second, commitment, dedication and perseverance pay off. You get out what you put in and then some. So no matter what it is in life (not just racing) give it 110% and don’t ever sell yourself short.
A wise man named Abraham Lincoln once said ” Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
Growing up my parents instilled in me some very valuable traits. Gratitude and the importance of family are just 2 of many things they taught me.
My family means the world to me and I believe they are truly the only ones you can count on when times are tough. Friends come and go throughout our lives but your family is always your family. That doesn’t mean that family has to be blood related. Family means different things to different people, it is the people in our lives that will be there for you no matter what the circumstances; they will support you, comfort you, and be honest with you. They will tell you when you are being a jerk and then tell you that they love you anyway!
My parents have always been there for me. Always. No matter the circumstances they have stood by my side, even when they did not agree with my decisions they still stood by me. They have sacrificed a lot for me and for that I am truly grateful. They have been there during difficult times in my life; in my hospital room every day of those 19 days, and not once did they think about not being there. On the phone with me, listening to me cry, and wishing they could make things better during my difficult marriage and subsequent divorce. During my long days of training and racing, they sacrifice their time to help me achieve my dreams. They have been by my side every step of the way, watching me fall down, helping me back up and cheering me on.
I am ever so grateful that they want to be so much a part of my life. That they cherish the time we spend together, as do I. I never want to take this for granted. None of us are immortal and our time here will come to end, one day. So, I try and appreciate all the little things and tell the people in my life how much they mean to me and how much I love them, on a daily basis.
“Each day I am thankful for nights that turn into mornings, friends that turn into family, dreams that turned into reality and likes that turned into love”-Anonymous
I recently heard a quote that resonated with us today. “Some days you win and some days you learn”. Well today was both for us. David had a difficult day today at the Tunnel Light Marathon. He knew at mile 19 that it was not going to be a BQ kind of day. So instead of pushing through and potentially injuring himself, he backed off a bit, and met up with me at mile 24.5. I was pushing really hard, I hurt really bad and was not sure how much harder I could push. He was a ray of sunshine when I saw him in front if me, he had amazing words of encouragement and he knew I had it in me to not only get a BQ today but a PR by over 3 minutes. He kept me motivated to the very end and despite how bad he was feeling, he focused all his attention on getting me to that finish line. He is truly the world’s best training partner, my best friend and an amazing husband and I couldn’t ask for anything more.
This race was about 2 things, training for Kona and qualifying for Boston. I was fortunate enough today that all the stars aligned, the weather was perfect, I felt good when I woke this morning, my nutrition was on target, and I didn’t have to stop at the porta-potty during the race.
I was so tempted to stop and take a picture along the way as this course is unbelievably beautiful. Nice wide non-technical gravel trail with about 2200 feet of drop over the entire marathon. Along with the 2 mile long, pitch black, cold Snoqualmie tunnel, trees as far as the eye can see, several trestle bridges with amazing views, it is easy on the quads and makes for a super fast course. What more could one ask for in a marathon. I highly recommend this race or even just taking a hike on the Iron Horse Trail on a nice day. There are a handful of opportunities to do this race and all are Boston certified.
Kinetic Sports Rehab is one of my biggest supporters and the feeling is mutual. I am not just saying this to promote their business or get you to click on their site, I have no invested interest if you do or you don’t. I do know that I would not be talking about them if I didn’t believe in them and what they do. They focus on functional fitness in a way that I have never experienced before. A combination of sports chiropractic doctors (http://www.kineticsportsrehab.com) who do soft tissue work, along with rehab specialists that work with you on the floor. For me, this has been a winning combination.
My first experience with the staff there was after a 19 mile trail run that went horribly wrong. I was in pain, in tears and thought my days of endurance sports were over. They have supported me throughout my journey of rehab and the realization that I would be able to compete again.
Since I started with them several years ago I have accomplished so much, my qualification race that took me to Boston, the Boston marathon itself, my first 50 mile trail run and now my training for the Ironman World Championship race in Kona on October 14.
Why am I talking about this, because I believe that there are no limits. It is all about your mindset, your attitude, your perseverance, your commitment, your drive and your dedication to what you really want in life. I heard a saying recently that stuck with me, ” The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.” Sarah Ban Breathnach. So as my cousin Deb would say, Go and Be Great!
Someone recently asked me how I got started in the world of endurance sports. Well, it has been quite the journey. I was not an athletic kid, and as a matter of fact, in high school I would do anything to avoid PE class. Fast forward 10+ years and this was me. I woke up one day, somewhere near my 30th birthday, and decided that being an overweight, unhealthy couch potato was no longer the lifestyle I wanted. So I joined the local YMCA, started walking on the treadmill, changed my eating habits, learned how to use the equipment and began to see changes. I started to loose weight fairly quickly but thought that if I could loose weight walking, I wonder how fast I could loose it running. So, I began to run on the treadmill. And when I say run, I really mean jog, and that lasted about 15 seconds until my legs and lungs were burning. But, I didn’t give up. I would do run/walk intervals and slowly increase the run portion of the interval until I could run an entire mile without stopping. From there I eventually ran my first 5K. I remember thinking there was no way I would be able to run the entire race without walking, but I did and I finished in just over 30 minutes. A very proud moment for me. That race is one of my most memorable experiences, even today.
So a 5K turned into a 10K turned into a half marathon and eventually my first marathon, The New York City Marathon, November 2004. My family was there to cheer me on along with the thousands of people that line the streets, but my body was not happy and I walked a good part of the race, from mile 18 on. Again, I didn’t give up there. I did run 2 more marathons, Las Vegas x 2, before turning to the world of triathlon.
My triathlon experience was very much like my road running, first a sprint, rather about 50 of them, then some Olympic distance races, then eventually a half ironman and then my first full Ironman race, Ironman Western Australia in December 2007. This was an incredible day and a huge accomplishment for someone who was a former couch potato.
Fast forward 15 years from that overweight, unhealthy, couch potato and here I am. 7 Ironman finishes, over a dozen marathons, including Boston, dozens of trail races, numerous local crossfit competitions and I am now training for the biggest Ironman race of all, Ironman World Championship in Kona on October 14.
This is my lifestyle now, I am proud of it and grateful that I get to spend everyday doing what I love with someone I love. So remember, it is never too late to make a change for the better, whatever that may be.
Most people think of triathlon and running as individual sports. Although we participate as individuals, most times, it takes a village. I have had so much help along the way from so many people. I need to thank these people as I wouldn’t be writing this blog if it weren’t for them!
My parents have been huge supporters of mine. Coming to as many races as possible. They were unable to join me for my first Ironman in Australia but they would not sleep until I was out of the water and then watched the live feed until they saw me cross the finish line. They have been my biggest cheerleaders throughout this journey into endurance sports.
My friend and first triathlon coach, Eddie Herd, was a huge influence on me and a huge inspiration.
My husband, David, has been amazing support. Not only does he encourage and inspire me everyday but we get to spend a lot of time training together. Not sure I could have done a lot of this without him.
More recently, as I get older, I have also needed more help staying healthy. Kinetic Sports Rehab has helped me change my story. When I first saw them several years ago I thought my days of endurance sports was over. Well, here I am many marathons, ultras, crossfit comps later, and I am now having the most amazing year ever, so thank you.(https://www.kineticsportsrehab.com/)
G4 athlete came on board more recently and has been an amazing supplement to Kinetic, with more directed physical and massage therapy. ( http://g4athlete.com/ ) Then came my friends at Superfeet who have been so amazing and supportive, making sure my feet as well as my body stay healthy. ( https://www.superfeet.com/ )
I have been through a few crossfit gyms since living in Seattle. My first experience was with Mike Ross from Sodo Crossfit Endurance, now part of Crossfit RE. Mike, along with Darrick and BeckyJo of RE have always been huge supporters of mine. ( http://sodocfe.com/ ). Currently I belong to Crossfit Felix and have met some amazing people there. (http://www.crossfitfelix.com/ )
My current coach, Complete Human Performance coach Jon Fecik, has been pushing me to be the best athlete I can be and preparing me for the biggest race of my “career”. Ironman World Championship in Kona on October 14. Thank you Jon for your guidance in this journey. (https://www.completehumanperformance.com/jon-fecik/ )
So, when you are riding, or running or swimming or whatever your sport of choice is, don’t forgot all the people that helped you along the way.
Thank you to all of my friends and family for all your support, past, present and future!