Training and Traveling

Now that David, Mira and I have begun our travels, my goal is to post weekly updates of our training, racing and traveling adventures. I have had quite a lot of people ask how we will continue to train while we are living the nomadic lifestyle. We put  a lot of thought into this change in our lifestyle and neither of us has felt that our training or racing will be negatively effected. Actually, we have both thought just the opposite, we will have more time to train together and to train and race in places we may not have had the opportunity to otherwise. It may take a little more creativity on our part, more body weight exercises due to lack of equipment, more outdoor runs in the wind, rain or snow, and more research to find the best pools around. Training and racing is a lifestyle for us and something that we make a priority in our life and it will continue to be that way going forward as we move around the country. We also decided to bring some equipment with us. On board we have: 2 yoga mats, a foam roller and the stick, 2 wetsuits each (one for open water swimming in general and one for SwimRun) along with all of our swim gear, one 25 pound kettlebell, a 40 pound sandbag, TRX straps, mountain bikes for each of us and running shoes for all occasions.

Today we were lucky enough to find this beautiful community center in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, the Kroc Center. After a short strength session and 1 mile run we hit up this amazing pool for some laps and then the outdoor hot tub ( it was only about 20 degrees outside this morning). This was a great start to our day. We then ended it with a nice long walk through a snowy park, which, of course was the highlight to Mira’s day!!

The point is, that it is not about having the time it is about making the time, and if it is important to you, you will find a way.

Boston Baby!

Fifteen years ago, when I was overweight and out of shape, I never would have imagined that I would be 12 weeks away from my second Boston Marathon.  Just to say that, my 2nd Boston Marathon, makes me so proud of how far I have come.  I earned my place at that starting line in Hopkinton on April 16 because of hard work, consistent work, dedication and desire. I had a lot of help along the way; family, friends, coaches and my best training partner and husband, David, who truly believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself.

I have also had the honor of being a sponsored athlete for the Boston Marathon. Again, to say these words, sponsored athlete, when 15 years ago I couldn’t even run 2 minutes on the treadmill, makes me extremely humbled  for the opportunity. Hyland’s, a major sponsor of the Boston Marathon, invited me to join their team for the second time. Last year  David and I had what we both thought was a once in a lifetime opportunity, but with qualifying a second time, I was invited to join the team again. They provided us and my family with a world class experience, brunches, baseball game, more brunches, VIP treatment to the starting line (a private bus with a bathroom in it), and an amazing after party where we, the runners, were the guests of honor. They are an exceptional company, who believe in the power of healthy living and it was (and will be again) a privilege to represent them in Boston.

boston

So, with 12 weeks to go my mileage will increase, my time will be filled with more running, swimming, crossfit and mobility and my husband, my family, my friends and Hyland’s will be by my side every step of the way.

A wise man once said “You can not do great things without the support of great people surrounding you.”

bridle trails

New Year, New Adventures

Happy New Year. I hope everyone had a festive and safe holiday season with lots of love, laughter and fun. We were able to enjoy family time while trying to balance work, the van build and training. This time of year finding the right balance can be a bit of a challenge. It is important to spend quality time with the ones you love but it is also important to make time for you. Taking care of ourselves is often overlooked but it is extremely important, especially during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

David and I got to spend some time with my nieces in Portland. It was a super fun trip away from the van build and work. A time to just have fun with the girls and not worry about anything else. On our way home we were able to take a little detour to Mt. St. Helens National Monument. As we approached the visitor center the mountain disappeared into the thick clouds and it was colder and windier then we expected, so a run was not in the cards. So instead of turning around, we kept driving. David being a true optimist knew that there would be a view of the mountain just around the next corner. Twenty-five miles later, through the thick clouds and snowy roads, the sun and mountain made an appearance.

IMG_2790

Sometimes it is worth the risk taking and extra effort, whether it is driving around the next corner, changing jobs, moving to a new state or into a van, as you never know what amazing adventures, sights and experiences await you.

New Years Day, David and I were able to take a few hours and go for a much needed training run, together, with our best training partner, Mira the wonder dog. We have been apart for several weeks now while he is down south building the van. All the time apart will pay off when we get to move into the van, travel, train, race and most importantly spend time together. I am super excited to start racing again and we already have 2 races on the schedule for January. Our calendar has a few more races scheduled for April but otherwise we are waiting to see where the road may take us.

” I knew that I was choosing the road less traveled but I’m not walking it alone”- Jason Collins

A picture is worth a thousand words

Dash Point December 2017

It was a long transitional week for David and me. We are both juggling many life changes right now, building our van, living apart, moving out of our condo, working, spending time with family and one very important aspect of our lives, training.  Training and racing is part of who we are and our lifestyle, so no matter how busy we are and how hectic life can be, we still find time to train together, that is our happy place. We are starting to plan our 2018 season and are pretty excited about it. Moving into our van will allow us to travel, train and race in new locations, and give us the opportunity to meet like minded people from different places.

So, since we had not seen each other all week, we decided to meet up at Dash Point State Park. This park is one of our favorite places, close to Seattle,  for non-technical trail running. There are 11 miles of running trails, 8 miles of biking trails and beautiful beach access (Puget Sound). In addition and most important to us, the park allows dogs! The trails are extremely easy to navigate and there are map kiosks located throughout the park, so it is almost impossible to get lost. Although it is such an accessible park, with fairly easy trails, it never seems to be too busy. And don’t forget, this is a Washington State park so you will need a Discover Pass (yearly or daily options) to park in the lot. Evergreen Trail Runs has a 10K and Half Marathon race there once, sometimes twice a year (March 24, 2018). They put on a great race with excellent support, lots of post race food, and although there are no medals or t-shirts with registration, they usually have some giveaways after the race.  This is one of my most favorite races in the PNW and I look forward to it every year.

 

I had a perfect day in the woods, no rain, ideal temperatures and my 2 most favorite training partners by my side. It has been a while since we have gone for a trail run, so we took our time enjoying the scenery and the solitude of the park.

So, don’t forget to enjoy life and do what you love with the people you love.

 

Change Brings Opportunity

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.

First hole in roof Hole in roof for fan Maxxair fans in place

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.

 

Reflection

 

 

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.

Ironman World Championship

 

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

Ironman Bike       Ironman Run       Ironman finishline

 

My Why

Hawaii swim

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.training in Hawaii

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.

http://getinvolved.fhcrc.org/site/TR?px=1656228&fr_id=1551&pg=personal

And don’t forget to track me on race day

https://bat.live/track/imkona?bib=1239

 

 

35 days

Black Diamind Half Ironman Black Diamond Halkf Ironman

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.”

 

Gratitude

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

 

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