FULL-CIRCLE VALLEY GIRL

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FULL-CIRCLE VALLEY GIRL

This morning I was struck by another full-circle moment.

I am blessed to live and work in the town where I grew up. I get to swim, bike and run through many of the waters and neighborhoods that I knew as a little girl growing up in the ‘burbs of Wilmington, NC. This morning, I ran to my old neighborhood for some hill repeats. This little community, called Pine Valley, features a giant circular street around the Pine Valley Country Club golf course. Like every other street in Pine Valley, it was named for a civil war general. I grew up on Pettigrew Drive. My sister, myself and our friends Leanne and Stacie ruled that little corner of the world. It’s where we learned to bike and run.

As a kid, we knew we had made it when our parents let us ride our bikes around the three-mile circle named for Robert E. Lee. I loved that loop. But I only loved it counter-clockwise. If we rode it counter-clockwise, the downhill portion was longer, I could get up a good amount of speed and cruise up the other side. If we rode it clockwise, the downhill was steep and the uphill was long and arduous.

Now, I want you to remember that we live on the coast of North Carolina. I am being VERY generous when I use the terms uphill, downhill and hill repeats! I am not good at reading grade and elevation, but I’m pretty sure it’s only 100 yards of climbing at the most and only 6% grade at the steepest point.

But I was afraid. This hill gave me anxiety! I even remember throwing a little fourth-grade hissy fit when all the kids and moms went for a ride together one spring day. I refused to go clockwise! I turned around and met them all at a different spot on course - just so I wouldn’t have to ride down and up that valley hill.

Today, I realized how far I’ve come. Not only did I run up the hill - which is much harder than riding a 3Speed Raleigh bike - but I did FIVE repeats. And, I enjoyed it. I realized:

Sometimes it’s not the size of the hill, it’s the size of the fear you have to overcome.

And yes, doing the thing that scares you is the usually the one thing that will help you overcome it. Biking in the Alps and running the Tennessee hills certainly puts the speed bump in Pine Valley into perspective.

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What have you done in your life to overcome a fear you had?

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HAPPY NEW YEAR 2019

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HAPPY NEW YEAR 2019

The secret to getting ahead is getting started.

- Sally Berger

This was the quote on my very first blog post back in October of 2007. That seems like ages ago! It was a simple start to something that I love to do……write. It’s been an off and on practice of mine that I’ve decided to start again.

I love beginnings and I LOVE a new year. Newness holds the promise of potential. THAT is exciting. As in years past, I've picked my one word, I've decided what I'm giving up this year and I have set some new goals.

My one word is the main reason I’ve committed to blog. My one word for 2019 is CONGRUENT. It is not a pretty word! It means: superposable so as to be coincident throughout; similar to or in agreement with something, so that the two things can both exist or can be combined without problems. [Superposable: in geometry - to place a figure in the space occupied by another figure, so that they both coincide throughout their whole extent.

Wow. It’s so mathy.

The purpose of my one word is to provide clarity and focus. We all choose resolutions - things to do and not do - each year. I've found that choosing one word is a motive check. It digs into the intention behind my list of goals. It’s a lens I can use all year long to view certain situations, relationships and life choices. It focuses in on the more important person we want to be.

In a short 50+ days of 2019, I’ve remembered that writing is congruent with who I am.

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So today I’m getting ahead by getting started.

If you’d like to choose your one word, CLICK HERE to find out more and leave your word in the comments below!

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CYBER MONDAY - TRI EDITION

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CYBER MONDAY - TRI EDITION

FULL DISCLOSURE: I recently signed up to be an Amazon Associate or Affiliate or whatever they call it in order to monetize my blog. I don’t even know how it all works, but I figure I’d give it a shot. I do know that if you click the links and do your shopping, Amazon pays me a percentage at no cost to you. So shop away!

Here are my top gifts for triathletes this year:

Nathan SpeedDraw Plus Insulated Flask

I learned at IRONMAN FLORIDA that you can try new things on race day. This was one of those things. I knew from my experience at Chatty that I needed to carry my own nutrition. I carried NBS Hydration (Pineapple) in this amazing little flask. For SIX HOURS! I had never used one before but it proved to be comfortable, easy to hold and is lightweight. Plus, I was able to stash extra nutrition, BioFreeze packets, a Pickle Pop and chapstick in the pocket.

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PICKLE POPS

What an amazing not-sweet treat in the middle of your race or big training day. If you get tired of gels and cola and fruit and Red Bull and all the sweet there is to eat, this is an amazing change to your taste buds! Freeze these and then store them in a cooler on training days. When you return from your ride and right before your brick run, slurp one of these nearly frozen dill pickle pops and you will be ready to roll. They are also great warm in the middle of a ride or served over ice at an aid station. Yum! Pickles!



BIOFREEZE PACKETS

Oh how I love thee, let me count the ways. These amazing packets of relief fit in the pockets of my aforementioned nathan handheld and in the past I’ve stuffed them in my tri jersey, bento box on the bike, race belt and all my special needs bags. These little packets are helpful for aches and pains, but more importantly they are amazing in hot weather! I spread a little on my neck, wrists and low back to create a cooling sensation even at White Lake, Chatty and Florida.


SWIM BARK RUN

One of my iron friends gave me this book right before Chatty with a fantastic note inside and a reminder to embrace the day. I read it the night before both of my IRONMANs this year and chanted SWIM, BARK, RUN, Everyone Have Fun a few times during the race. It’s a great gift for the triathlete in your life or for a triathlete in training. It’s not just for kiddos! Remember, we get to do this sport because it feels like being a kid again (only faster!).




THE BRAVE ATHLETE

This book is a COMPLETELY different take on how to handle all your different mental challenges as an athlete. Forget simple mantras and visualization - The Brave Athlete will give you real tools to overcome all the overthinking and overfeeling so you’ll get better at swimbikerun and LIFE! As a coach, you need to read the whole book. As an athlete, read the first chapter and then skip to the chapters that apply to you. Either way, do ALL the activities and you will start to tame the mind monkey!

I’ve had this book on my shelf for over a year but really dug into it after Age Group Nationals when I had crazy race nerves (first time in years!) in the days leading into the race. I wanted to figure that out and a dozen other ways that my Chimp Brain takes over when I least need it. Here are a few of the topics covered:

I wish I felt more like a “real” athlete.

I don’t think I can.

I need to harden the F* Up.

I keep screwing up in races.

I don’t like leaving my comfort zone.

I don’t handle pressure well.

With  The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion , you can solve these problems to become mentally strong and make your brain your most powerful asset

With The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion, you can solve these problems to become mentally strong and make your brain your most powerful asset

ROKA GOGGLES

Buy every pair. Seriously. You can’t go wrong with any of the styles. The R1 is great (sizewise) for the pool and for open water. I prefer the amber mirror and the vermillion mirror for open water.

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ROKA AVIATORS

I took a step out of my comfort zone when I got these earlier this year. I didn’t think they were really my style but……. I. FREAKING. LOVE THEM. They provide the full coverage I need for my round face. They look good on everyone. You can dress them up or sport them up. Best of all, they are scratch resistant. This is from a girl who drops them regularly and rarely uses the case.

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MEANT TO BE (AN IRONMAN FLORIDA FOLLOW-UP)

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MEANT TO BE (AN IRONMAN FLORIDA FOLLOW-UP)

This race was a pivot point for me.

My mother-in-law (and others) often ask me WHY? Why do you keep doing these races? Why do you put your body through the training? The long weekends? The race day itself? (1068.8 miles of ironman racing since 2012). Why do you sacrifice your time and your energy and your money to do such long races?

The answer is self-discovery.

These races tend to bring out all the feels.

STRONG SAUCE

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I had a mental victory on this day. I had my slowest marathon time since IM France in 2016, but I had some major wins while I was out there for over six hours. I mentioned that I turned off my run/walk alerts and simply ran when I wanted and walked when I needed. My Pez co-pilot for this race was a wolf. I chose him for two reasons.

"NOW this is the law of the jungle, as old and as true as the sky,
And the wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the wolf that shall break it must die.

As the creeper that girdles the tree trunk, the law runneth forward and back;
For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.

RUDYARD KIPLING

I was inspired all day by my pack. Jen, Maria and Tonya made me stronger. They made me resilient and tough. In my weaker moments, I remembered our training days. Our Saturdays in the hot sun on country roads. It made me push a little harder and dig a little deeper. The word for this race was TEAM and this team was brave and adventurous and unstoppable. Even though I was the coach, at times, I needed them more than they needed me.

The other reason for the wolf was inspired by this story:

One evening, an elderly Cherokee chief told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.

One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other wolf is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked, ‘Grandpa, which wolf wins?’

The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one that you feed.’

In races, the good wolf - loves to run. She loves to run with the pack. She loves to lead the pack. She digs in her claws and springs into action. She chases and kind of likes being chased. The bad wolf says: just walk! for crying out Mike. That voice says: give in. It’s worthless. You’re not winning. You don’t even have to finish. She likes to give in when the going gets rough. She succumbs to the pressure. Her mood spirals down like water in a drain.

All day long I fed the good wolf. Wolfie! What a good girl! Look at what you just did! You ran all the way up that hill. And down that one. In the rain! I promised her chicken broth and cola. I told her she was right on track. I complimented her when she kept running. I encouraged her to run through the next timing mat. I told her if she ran up this hill and down that hill that I would take care of her after the race. I’d let her do all of her favorite things (like organize things and sleep late).

WEAK SAUCE

Disappointment. What?! You just finished 140.6 miles of swimbikerun and you are disappointed?! Yes. I felt it AS SOON AS I crossed the finish line. I wanted to run faster. And bike better. And catch Jen and Maria. And claim a personal best. And qualify for Kona. I wanted to weigh 15 pounds less. In the race I was fully focused on the process, but as soon as I finished I was focused on the outcome. That shift created a big conflict within and the edginess that I felt pre-race returned as I stood in the pouring rain with my medal and hat and shirt and wrapped in my tin foil. That edginess is produced by pressure, both real and imagined and is always self-induced. It’s also produced by self-criticism. It’s produced by a feeling of NEVER ENOUGH. If I don’t keep this feeling in check, I tend to miss out on amazing moments. I tend to downplay the importance of them. I sometimes take for granted that my body can go farther on one day in swimbikerun than some people will drive in a week. I tend to check it off my list and move on to SOMETHING MORE. In doing so, I downplay myself. I play small.

In the days since, I’ve combated this by celebrating myself. It’s timely that Thanksgiving was this week. I’ve been reading social media posts about gratitude. I’ve listened to a podcast about THE GRATITUDE ADVANTAGE. I have worn my medal! Each day I’ve listed my wins for that day and put a star by them (like kindegarten) and done a happy dance for each one. I might just order this pillow:

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AWESOME SAUCE

This race was pivotal. In the wake of it all, new dreams formed and passions were reignited. Two major goals developed out of this race.

IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS, I want to coach 20 first-timers to their first IRONMAN finish. I have had the privilege of coaching TEN athletes through their first 140.6 training seasons and races. I love it. Even if I don’t see them cross the finish line, I love their victories. I love their new IRONMAN superpowers. I love their journeys and their own moments of self-discovery. I can’t wait to do it again.

This is what it feels like to finish your first Ironman!

This is what it feels like to finish your first Ironman!

Swim Start in 2017

Swim Start in 2017

I’M GOING TO KONA, BABY! IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS, I am going to qualify for Kona through the Ironman Legacy Program. The legacy program is set up to reward those who’ve done at least 12 MDOT races. Once you’ve done 12 races, your name is put in a drawing for a slot at the World Championships in Kona in October. I have done six MDOT races and I have six to go. In 2017, I went to Hawaii for the week of the race. I went for my Level II Coaching certification and while we were there Ace and I volunteered and spent the day watching the race. We were volunteers at body marking (I met the pros!) and saw the swim and parts of the bike start. Later that day we went out to the run course for a few hours to cheer athletes at the turn-around in town.

The one regret I had about that day was that we didn’t see the finish line. I knew then that I wanted to go back to Kona and for a year I’ve been imagining how it is going to feel when I coach one of my athletes (Jen and Matthew - who’s it gonna be?) across red carpet in Kailua-Kona.

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But now there’s another reason. It’s waiting for ME! I have to see it for myself. I am going to finish that grueling race and swim in the Pacific and ride up to Hawi and run down the Queen K highway and into that finish chute and across that line for me! I am going to own every mile between now and then. I am going to celebrate the swims and bikes and runs that will get me to and through that race. And, although it probably won’t be my last race, it will be a testament to my strength and endurance and love for a sport that has taught me so much about who I am and what I’m meant to be. #teammeanttobe

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IRONMAN FLORIDA - PART 2

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IRONMAN FLORIDA - PART 2

We all woke up at about 3:00am on Sunday. We put on our spandex, body-marked each other, gathered the last of our belongings and were in the car at 4:30am. I was edgy. I was frustrated that I couldn’t get my music to work in the car on the way there and I’d started to worry if we were going to find a parking space, if I had remembered my shades, if I should stop at special needs on the bike.

PRE-START

I love the hours before the race start. There is an electric blanket of quiet that settles over the site despite the music and announcements and buzz of conversation. We all moved through the maze of special needs bag drop-off to our bikes. Jen and I were three spaces away from each other and Tonya’s bike was just across the aisle. We pumped tires and I put my nutrition on Lucinda. I was still a little edgy and couldn’t quite shake it.

We listened to an interview of a woman nearby who was on her quest for the IRONMAN legacy spot. A few years ago she had a strange pain on a training ride, went to the ER and learned she had ovarian cancer. With treatment and surgery behind her, she was back on her quest to finish 12 MDOT races to get to Hawaii. I may have cried hearing it. The edges softened.

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The space between my bike prep and the swim start is sort of a blur. We made base camp at a picnic table in the playground but may have walked over a mile as we dropped off gear bags, made last minute port-a-potty visits and made our way to the beach.

After I put on my brand-new-never-been-swum-in wetsuit, Honey and I walked a few feet away from everyone and I said a quiet good-bye to him. He hugged me and lifted me off the ground and off I went to join the crowd.

The best thing I did on that walk to the beach was splash my face with cold water from a bottle and stand under the showers for a 20 seconds and let the water creep into my wetsuit. Jen, Maria and I went to the 1:10 corral and chatted nervously while we waited. Suddenly, the first few notes of U2’s BEAUTIFUL DAY echoed across the beach and Jen and I started dancing. Even Mike Reilly joined us. It was our only warm-up.

THE SWIM

The swim was in Lake Eva; yes, a Lake in Florida. This is how my friend Angela Leonard described it:

This particular lake was full of grass and lily pads (and probably gators, too, but this is not a story about gators!). The swim was shaped like a giant pair of pants. We started at the waist, swam down the leg, turned to swim across the foot opening, turned to swim up the inner leg, through the crotch, down the inside of the other pant leg, across the foot opening, up the outside of the pants leg back to the waistband where we had to get out, run onto the beach and over a timing mat and then run back into the lake to do it again!

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The “crotch” was a timing chute - two barrel shaped floats about 40 feet apart - that all the athletes had to swim through to capture proof that they were staying on course. It was a crazy whirl of arms and legs and bodies! The best thing about it was that all these swimmers created a current and I was SWOOSHED through in about three strokes.

Many people have commented on the fact that it was a crowded swim, but it didn’t feel that crazy to me. It did feel that everyone was practicing the CLOSED FIST DRILL, but I didn’t lose my goggles or get scratched and kicked. There were just so….many…..turns. I felt a little off-course in the first 200 yards - mainly because I think I was aiming toward a volunteer in a yellow shirt instead of the yellow buoy, but I found my way back on track and had a great swim. I finished in 1:13:ish. I was eighth in my age-group!

My favorite part was seeing Jen on the second loop. All of a sudden I hear, HI! I answered back: what are you doing? Which is our normal call-and-response-greeting. She responded: swimming! I said: ME, TOO! Wanna be friends? And were off again.

THE TRANSITION

Right out of the water I plopped my butt down on the ground for the wetsuit strippers. We had a hard time getting my left arm loose because of my watch, but otherwise it came right off and for the first time EVER, I did not have a wetsuit hickey on my neck!

I showered and jogged through transition to the tennis courts to grab my bike bag up the path and into the rec center building to the changing room. I ditched the swim gear and donned my helmet, shades and grabbed my shoes. I ran barefoot out of the building down the sidewalk, through a parking lot, between building and to the multi-level bike park. I grabbed Lucinda, ran another 100 yards, out of T1 up a hill and finally onto the bike. All-in-all a half mile transition!

BIKE

This one was a challenge and I’d love to do it again. But, as Angela said:

For those of you who are under the delusion that Florida is flat, Haines City is here to laugh in your face, smack you around, and steal your lunch money.

As strong as I felt at my White Lake bike and in Chatty on the hills, I wasn’t feeling great on this ride. My legs were tired from the start. [Maybe a second-floor suite was not the right choice. Maybe all the walking in transition the past few days didn’t help.] In the first 10 miles, before we even reached the loop, a woman passed me, cut in front of me, ran off the road, recovered back onto the road, but launched a bottle which I hit. Somehow I saw it coming and was able to sit up out of aero, yell, BOTTLE DOWN and hold my line. Way to go! I yelled as she sped on. #redneckrevealed

Somewhere near Lake Marian I had another near miss when a guy passed me and then STOPPED! C’mon, Man! I looked down for a split second and then almost cyclo-crossed over him. I was able to manuever around him for a pass.

The road conditions were pretty good (better than Santa Rosa, but not as good as Chatty) and the scenery was nice - a few lakes, a quarry, ferny swamplands with wax myrtles, orange groves and lemon groves, llamas, emus and a mile of spectators to start the second loop. I liked that the hills in and around Haines City gave me something to think about. Shifting gears, determining how to safely take turns at the bottom of a downhill and how to smoothly pass on an uphill engaged my brain.

Otherwise, I obsessed about the grains of sand that were left on my tri kit and the ONE grain of sand that was lodged in my watch band and ate a hole in my wrist. I sang the Florida Orange Blossom song and a few hymns based on the church signs I passed. [And if you’ve never heard Jen Young sing the Orange Blossom song, please check out THIS cheesy version. It is a close rendition.]

My favorite parts of the ride:

  • Seeing Maria’s dad all over the bike course. He used the pool skimmer as a giant sign. It was draped with a tee shirt with Maria’s head blown up and text that said: Go, Maria, Go! in Michigan colors

  • Seeing Maria within the first 15 miles. She passed me and we greeted each other with HI!WHATAREYOUDOING?RIDINGBIKES.ILIKEBIKES.WANNABEFRIENDS? Another woman near said: I like bikes, Yes! We met again later at an aid station where we both took a break.

  • The fan zone at the start of the second loop. Ace and the rest of the gang were cheering and screaming as I rode by to start the loop again. The energy was high and I was so thankful for our tribe of fans who were there for us all.

  • SIGNS. I know that sounds weird, but I liked looking at all the signs for the 55+ neighborhoods, the church marquees [Rejoice in the Lord. Always], Jenni St., Hartmann St., Miss Mary Anne (I sure do) Drive and the G-Spot biker bar (#4Gracing).

  • VOLUNTEERS The fact that Haines City pulled together for such an amazing race was a testament to the Ironman motto that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. All the aid stations were packed with people passing out food and water, cleaning up after all the athlete trash and directing tired bikers through feeding zones. There was a crazy out-and-back section near the quarry and on the first pass, one woman had made up a song and dance to help us slow down on the downhill, round a cone in the middle of the street and get back to speed on an uphill. At that nearby aid station I noticed a guy raking all the empty bottles and cups and singing a song on both time I passed through and I handed one of my red volunteer bracelets to him.

Tactically, I had a good ride. My nutrition was even better than it was in Chatty. I had only one gel all day. A root beer GU at mile 90. The rest of the day I drank NBS Pineapple Hydration, ate PEZ candy and glucose tabs, bananas and one NUUN tablet at mile 105. I felt great on the bike and felt great coming off the bike despite 85+ degree temps and high humidity.

I paced myself well. I knew right off that I wasn’t feeling it and worked with the wind to set myself up for a strong run. I started easier than I usually do on a training ride and built into power zone 2 and 3 in the second loop. I finished the bike in 6:39:ish.

TRANSITION TWO

Again, the volunteers were great. We even had bike catchers to grab our bikes as we dismounted. It was another half-mile run to the tennis courts, into the building, out of the building and onto the run course, but it was a half-mile lined with spectators, volunteers and tri club tents. The women in the changing room were miracles. One emptied my run gear bag and the other helped me undress. I warned them to ignore my nakedness and they laughed and said they’d seen it all already. I had one of the gals read a few lines from my bag as the second one sprayed me down with sunscreen. Done in less than 10 minutes. I bet Ace wishes I got ready that fast when we’re going out to dinner.

THE RUN

My goal was to finish the run faster than my IM Chattanooga run. I wanted to catch Maria and Jen. It didn’t happen. But, I had a great run. I had decided on the Sunday before that I was going to turn off my metronome and turn off my run/walk alerts. I had been doing 6-and-1s in training most of the season, but I decided my objective was going to be run as fast as you can, as often as you can for as long as you can. It was FREEING! I can’t wait to do it again. I didn’t have walker’s guilt and every time I did run, I think I ran for longer than six minutes.

Have you ever been to Disney and snaked through the lines at every ride? That is the feeling I got on this run. The first section was an out-and-back. We ran to a nearby high school and back to the transition area. I liked it because it was along the last mile of the bike and I got to see a bunch of riders come into Lake Eva. It also engaged my brain. There was a decent steep hill and a indescribable Disney-like maze that involved two inner lanes on the first pass, two outer lanes on the second pass, an aid station and two cul de sac out and backs. It was crazy, but I like it. I didn’t love that the sun was out and that the humidity threatened rain that didn’t materialize until later.

The main part of the run course was a three loop maze around Lake Eva that snaked in and out of nearby neighborhoods and through IRONMAN Village. It was fantastic for spectators. Our gang posted up in a spot where they could cheer each of us on three times per loop. I spotted Maria on the first loop and Tonya and Maria on the second loop. Other highlights:

A RAINBOW on the second loop. There was an aid station decked out as a beach party. The music was pumping and the volunteers were super energetic. I looked forward to this aid station each time and on the second loop they arranged a bright rainbow to appear. It was visible over Lake Eva for nearly 30 minutes. Perhaps a promise of a finish because on the other side of us there was…….

A LIGHTNING STORM Before the race, our team had talked about the possibility of a pause in race action due to a thunderstorm. We all agreed that we would swimbikerun until we saw an actual lightning bolt or got pulled from the course. I think we were all counting the seconds between the lightning and thunder as the storm got closer. Seven miles. Five miles. Three miles. And then miraculously electricity moved on. But then……

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THE RAIN As Angela described:

The real excitement of the run started after dark. Florida storms are spectacular, and the one that started during the run did not disappoint. We had every type of rain—mist, drizzle, soft rain, downpour, and deluge. We had lightning and thunder. We had wind. And once all the rain stopped, we had puddles, and what one volunteer warned me was “fast moving water” to wade through.

I said aloud to another runner, Is it TURN AROUND DON’T DROWN? Or do we finish? We finish! she exclaimed. We held hands and jumped over the river of water. It was an amazing closing theme for our last few months of training. We had weathered Hurricane Florence and done several brick runs in rain exactly like this.

A FIRE ALARM at the elementary school. On the last loop, in the pouring rain, the alarm sounded inside, the strobe lights flashed inside and multiple emergency vehicles surrounded the school. For some reason this cracked me up. It was loud and lasted forever. You could hear it throughout the next few miles as we ran in and around the streets of the surrounding neighborhoods.

THE FINISH

It was still pouring rain when I finished. I rounded the corner to the finish chute. I heard the roar of our crowd near the palm tree and in the blinding lights of the finish arch, I watched as volunteers tried to either keep the red carpet from floating away or were searching for a drain. Regardless, the water in the finish lane was shin deep. I pretended I was swimming it in. I high stepped and added a little breast stroke and then a little freestyle as Mike Reilly proclaimed: ELIZABETH ANDREW. YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!




IF You have Facebook, you may want to watch THIS VIDEO. The interview with the cancer survivor is at the 0:20 point, I am dancing with Mike Reilly at 3:26 and I swim across the finish at the 11:46 mark.

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IRONMAN FLORIDA 2018

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IRONMAN FLORIDA 2018

I did it! I’m an IRONMAN…..AGAIN! Wait, didn’t I just say that? Just five weeks after IRONMAN CHATTY, here I am with another shiny medal and a finisher’s hoodie and an awesome finish line dance. I finished my eighth iron-distance race and my sixth MDOT race.

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This one was a doozy! It was so EXTRA. I know that IRONMAN ain’t easy on a good day, but this one gets bonus points (demerits?). Despite its wacky-ness, it will go down as one of my favorites of all time. Not because of my performance or the outcome. But because of the summer that preceded it, the adventure in the days before and after, the internal battles I fought and won and most importantly: JENNIFER, MARIA, TONYA, ACE, JULE, HAYLEIGH, CASSIE, SCOTT, CAROLYN, PAUL and WENDY. This tribe of amazing athletes, fans and family made it a jewel of a day.

QUICK SET-UP

I left Wilmington on Thursday with Tonya and her mom, Jule, following in her car behind me. I was looking forward to the nine-plus hour trip in Honey’s fancy Benz with heated seats and MASSAGE and Sirius XM. I’d planned out a few podcasts and had a coaching call with some new athletes. We stopped for coffee on the way out of town and hit the road. Things went smoothly until we hit South Carolina. Suddenly, Jen’s bike, Scarlet, decided I wasn’t driving fast enough! She tried to hop off the bike rack and pedal the rest of the way. Or maybe she wanted to go back to Pedro’s sombrero at South of the Border. I pulled in to the next exit off I-95 and realized one of the bungee/fasteners had a hole in it. I rearranged it and jumped back in. Two miles later - it happened AGAIN. This time, Scarlet’s front end bounced off the arm of the rack. At that point, I was talking to Jen, Tonya was calling to tell me to pull over and I was watching out of the rear view as the handlebars shook and bobbed. Right there on the side of I-95, T and J and I MacGyverred a new contraption with her belt and a pipe cleaner. That lasted an hour and proved to be too much for my nerves. I stopped somewhere in Georgia and took Scarlet off the bike rack! We figured out that the aerojacket disc wheel was catching so much wind that it was creating lift and tension on the bungee. I removed her front wheel and put it in the front seat next to me and placed the frame on top of the luggage and gear in the back. DRAMA!

SCARLET’S WHEEL SAFE & SOUND

SCARLET’S WHEEL SAFE & SOUND

SHAKE-OUT SWIM

On Friday morning, Tonya, Maria and I set out on a mission to do a shake-out swim. Our first attempt was a hilarious fail at the neighborhood fitness center. We went to the front door and banged a bit on the glass to get the attention of the manager. No one answered. We walked back around to the fitness center door just as a man with a Boston tee shirt and an accent to match walked out. Could you please let us in? We asked sweetly. Do you live here? he asked in that heavy Boston brogue as he shut the door with emphasis behind him. Sorta. Yes. No. We all answered. That sealed the deal. He went on to tell us that they’d let in guests before that had stolen the weights out of the fitness center. You’ll have to check in up at the desk, he said gruffly.

We decided that our next best option was to visit the Omni Resort down the street. We zipped right on over, parked in the guest lot like we were the boss, walked in the side door, asked for the best way to the pool and found ourselves inside the “adult pool” complete with fountains and cabanas (which we used) and a hot tub (which we did not). Here we were at a swanky pool with our spandex and goggles practicing our open water swim starts and alligator avoidance tactics. We each spent a lap in the middle while the other two bumped us at the hip, tried to grab our leg or reached for our arm. We spent about 30 minutes playing and then headed back to our little neighborhood of rental homes and our six-room mansion in Davenport.

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PRE-RACE LEAD-IN

There is so much to do before a race. One of the challenges for this race: our accommodations were 30 minutes away from the race site. There are very few hotels in Haines City and with the change of venue from Panama City Beach we struggled to find what we did! In fact, we were bumped from our original spot and had to rebook to Championsgate in Davenport. The best news is that six-room house! Nine people, five bikes, three cars and a plethora of tri gear fit in this fantastic space. Ace and I had a sweet suite on the second floor with a king-sized bed and a king-sized shower.

Of course, when there are more than two people involved, it adds a new dimension to all you do before a race. We had a dozen people in our tribe! Remarkably, we all meshed. On Friday morning, Maria’s parents made breakfast and brought it over. Ten of us went out to dinner on Friday night. Tonya’s mom and Haleigh made breakfast on Saturday. Some folks went to Disney, others went to Ironman Village and Ace went to play golf. It was the most relaxed team effort!

This race had an added aspect for me. Not only was I racing, but I was also working. It’s not like I was steering the ship or even had to be the social director, but I was on call to answer questions. My team took care of themselves, but I am invested in them. I love them and wanted them to have the best experience ever.

With all that said, we packed a LOT into the few days leading up to the race!

FRIDAY

Shake-Out Swim

Breakfast

Pick-Up Haleigh, Ace and Jen at the Airport (40-minute drive there with tolls + 60-minute drive back because I got lost).

Meet for Lunch

Drive to Race Site for Packet Pick-Up (30 minute drive there). Shop the merch. Shop the expo. Lounge at NormaTech tent.

Tornado Warning! They closed down Ironman Village! Look! There’s a water spout!

Head Back to Davenport in a crazy storm that foreshadowed

Dinner Out

SATURDAY

Wake Up and Coffee

Prep Gear Bags

Shake-Out Ride. Why is it so cold? What is up with 15mph winds?

Breakfast

Team Meeting

Drive to Haines City (4 bikes, 8 people, 2 cars)

Drop Off Bikes and Gear Bags

Athlete Briefing

Look for Lost Merchandise at NormaTech tent, IM merch tent, bike shop, IM Info Booth and TheraGun tent (where the NormaTech guy was and said he found my lost gear!)

LUNCH at Big Tony’s PIzza

Back to Davenport

Nap

Grocery

Dinner

Team Meeting

Final Gear Prep

Bed at 8:00pm

TOMORROW IS RACE DAY!


























https://www.facebook.com/IronmanFlorida/videos/554089251687424/

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IRONMAN CHATTY - PART TWO

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IRONMAN CHATTY - PART TWO

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And suddenly, we were off! Essentially, I warmed up for 90 minutes. We headed out of downtown Chattanooga, through the industrial section, over some tracks and into Georgia. We hit the valley between Lookout Mountain and Chicamauga and the town turned into trees. I kept my heart rate and power low. It felt easy. For the first time ever, I was social and chatty (ha ha get it?) on the bike. I played leap frog with a few of the girls once we got out of town. It was actually fun - it felt like I was out on a training day with a bunch of my friends. Instead of Jen, Maria and Tonya, I made new friends. Kelly, Kimberly and Cathy were my new riding buddies.

At the 24-mile mark, I decided it was time to race. I put tension on the chain and pressed into the ride. I found a great rhythm and started passing women in my age group. I was pleased that it was overcast and cool. I could tell the humidity was high, but the terrain and the temps felt good.

A week before the big day, we had gotten together for a celebratory dinner and I had asked Erin G, for her advice on the race. She has done it several times as the 140.6 and 70.3 and I knew she’d have some tricks up her sleeve. Her main advice: Use the Course. The bike course is hilly: constant rollers with some false flats mixed in. Obi-Wan’s voice came to me just as I started to ease into my day. Use the Force, Luke. I did. I used the downhills to gain speed for the next uphill. I shifted. A lot. I used the downhills to pass. I used the uphills to pedal lightly and sometimes stretch. I watched my bike computer’s elevation grade screen most of the day. It was fun to see 9% or 14% and think: that felt great! I can’t wait to do that one again.

My other mantra/song became that kids tune: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. It reminded to me to do a constant body check: Head = Positive Thoughts. Shoulders = Posture. Knees = Cadence. Toes = Power. [Eyes = Look at What's in this Mile. Ears = Listen to your Body. Mouth = What are You Saying to Yourself? Nose = to the Grindstone/Get Work Done.]

I had three favorite spots on the course. There’s a section on Hwy 193 that is beautiful. Green hills and trees stretched and rolled for miles off to the right with mountains on the near horizon. I loved downtown Chickamauga. It was SO LOUD! The people seemed four deep and there were cheers and music and so many kids!

I felt strong and happy most of the day. I had one bad patch around mile 70 - just after Chickamauga and just before the start of the second loop - where it felt like the lactic acid had built up in my legs, my back hurt, my hamstring flared up, my feet were on fire! I climbed a steep hill and thought, well, I’m done. I must have screwed up and must be pushing too hard. But, I decided to take a pit stop and remembered I had a pickle pop in my bag of tricks. Game. Changer. I was able to take the same energy into that second loop as I had the first.

I was reenergized by Chickamauga and by seeing Ace at mile 90-ish. The sun came out right after that and I headed back to town. I even felt like I finished strong. Those last 16 miles had moments of getmeoffthisbike, but, I was also passing people after mile 100! The result: the bike of my life. It was close to an 18mph average and a 6:26:52 finish. Boom. Did it!

I hopped off the bike (and by hopped off mean very slowly slung my right leg over the back of Lucinda to dismount) while a volunteer caught Lucinda and took her to the rack. I clippity-clopped through the run bags with Ace running alongside on the other side of the barrier. I don’t know how he cheers, takes pictures, avoids people and curbs and keeps moving all at the same time.

I ducked into the women’s tent, changed shorts, put on my run hat and shoes and headed out. Right out of transition, you pass the finish line. There, headed into his finish was the male pro, Cody Beals. Plus, I got to watch Matt Russell run down Kirill Kotsegarov in the final meters to place second. [The Florida resident was nearly killed during last year's world championship after colliding with a van that pulled onto the course. Russell suffered lacerations to his neck and a severe concussion. Almost a year later, he was back on the podium of an Ironman! [per the Times Free Press]

Right after the finish chute, you head up a hill and onto Riverfront Parkway. That parkway was the bane of my existence. It was a blocked-off freeway that had no shade and no flats. My first mile was okay. I did my dynamics and walked the uphills as planned. On a downhill stretch, I heard Ace coming up behind me on his bike. He was cheering and taking photos and encouraging me.

Did I mention the sun had come out? Way back at mile 99, the sun peeped out from behind the clouds. It was now about 3:30 in the afternoon and it was almost 90 degrees and the humidity was…..humid. I don’t remember the exact stat because my brain was cooking. At the first aid station I drank water and dumped ice into my kit (shorts, bra top, hat) and started my shuffle.

I didn’t get very far. I felt barfy. Every time my heart rate got into the 135+ range, I got a sour stomach. I walked a bit and then ran again. Same thing. What is going on? Ace met me at the top of the hill near the next aid station. I gave him my report.

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I ended up walking a lot more than I had anticipated. But, I was strong and consistent. I walked more than I preferred - but when I did, I passed other walkers! The great news is that I wasn't grumpy and pissy like I was at my recent half iron at White Lake. I didn’t feel like quitting. I didn’t get angry. I just tried to figure out how to run a little more during every mile. I did question my triathlon life choices at mile 12 and wondered why I'm so bad at running off the bike and then, I had another pickle pop in my special needs bag. Guess what - it worked again! Which means I need more salt in my life! I used my salts for the next three miles and that probably led to feeling better at mile 16. Plus the sun set and I knew I only had 10 more miles to go. I was able to run a little more on the flats and downs and stride up hills. I passed 10 walkers on Barton on the second loop and 3 more on that dark section across the river.

This run was super challenging and I didn’t love the freeway that seemed to stretch on forever. I loved aid station number three - it was set up like a beach party. There was an emcee that welcomed every runner and encouraged his team to dance and scream and shout. Another one of the aid stations was tucked into a corner. I remember a wooden walkway, a yellow brick road and some Disney characters. On that second lap, it was getting dark and their enthusiasm was exactly what I needed. I headed over the veteran’s bridge for the last time and up the Barton hill. By that time, the fans on that hill were drunk and boisterous. They were high-fiving and knuckle bumping and dancing.

I shuffled down Barton and under the overpass. I passed through a few blocks of town and thought: I am going to run the entire bridge. It was my favorite moment of the run. Along the way, I saw a guitarist on a bench, strumming a bluesy tune I couldn’t recognize and looking out over the blue railing to the water. I got inspired and pretended I was at a concert. I could hear the announcer at the finish and pretended he was announcing me on stage. I had a moment of inspiration and took out my ROKA shades and held them through the loop off the bridge. I waved at James (whose wife Susan was racing) and zeroed in on a girl I had been chasing/leap frogging for HOURS. As we headed down the hill and into the chute, I passed her, threw on my aviators and played a little air guitar at the line!

I finished in 12:29:39. My bike was 6:26:16 and my run was 5:58:04. Despite it being my longest marathon ever, I am pleased that I was consistent through every timing mat. I averaged a 13:40/mile on the hilliest, hottest 26.2 I’ve ever done. Most of all, I maintained a great attitude and learned a lot.

Ironman Florida…….here I come!



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IRONMAN CHATTY - PART ONE

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IRONMAN CHATTY - PART ONE

CHATTAMOOOOOOOOOGA!

I am an IRONMAN - again! This makes number seven (number five for IronBrand). It was amazing, hard, fun, different, hilly and hot.

What a day. What a race! In short: I nailed this race. The outcome (my times) may not reflect it, but I nailed the process. I arrived fit and fresh. I had a great pre-race morning with Ace. I felt ready and calm and excited about the challenge.

As previously mentioned, the swim was canceled. By the time we arrived in Chatty, my attitude was adjusted and I prepared myself for the course that lay ahead - the longest bike I’ve ever done and the hardest marathon I’ve ever done.

I’ll back up a little and recap our few days before the race because there were some highlights that I want to mention. We arrived on Thursday and settled in to our hotel a few blocks away from the MDot Village. We went out to dinner and headed to bed fairly early. The next morning, I dropped Ace off at the Chattanooga Country Club for a round of golf and I headed out of town for a bike and run session. I headed to the Chicaumauga Battlefield Park (actually in Georgia) for what was touted to be a great place to ride - and it WAS! Many of the roads were newly paved. It was early in the day and most traffic cuts right through the middle of the park - leaving the outer roads clear of traffic. Plus, I felt safe riding alone.

I rode over a one-lane bridge, past several rushing streams, stopped to talk to a black and white cow (my theme for the weekend) and even saw two bovines trying to make baby bovines (Geez, oh man, that’s not something you see every day)! I ran past Confederate and Union monuments, down a red-clay path, through what felt like a cemetery/battlefield even though I saw no headstones (spooky) and through a grassy field as the sun peeked through the fog. I felt like I was in a Runner’s World rave run calendar.

After that, I headed back into town and to packet pick-up. It had been raining in Chatty for days and the village was muddy and wet. I waited in a short line for numbers, a souvenir swim cap, chip and of course, the bag - which was AWESOME! It was a duffel-slash-book-bag hybrid. I went shopping in the MDot store and found

My go-to souvenir - the micro-fiber towel with every participant’s name - was not my favorite, so I bought a cute tri top and matching trucker hat (my new thing). I stood in a long, but quickly-moving, line for gear and then headed out to fetch Ace on the golf course. The Chatty Country Club happened to be along the run course, so I was able to preview the famed Barton hill and the back side of the second loop in the light of day. Kinda wish I hadn’t done that. It intimidated me a little, but I let it go.

On Saturday, we woke up early and went for a shake out run. We ran down to the start/finish/transition area at Ross’ Landing then up the Riverfront Parkway to Veteran’s Bridge. It was fun to look down into the river that we wouldn’t be swimming in. The lights from the banks were sparkling in the dark water and you could tell that the water was running high and fast. The roads were already blocked off so it was quiet and cool.

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Later that day, I did my chores: packed my bags, dropped them off in T2, checked in my bike. I met Lisa for a picture at the MDot sign and asked her about the athlete meeting. That may be the one thing I wish I had done. Lisa was smart. She went to the meeting. And took notes. Lisa gave me the details that I needed - how they were going to do the start, the timing of transition, the deadlines for adding stuff to the run bag. But I didn’t write it down. In the back of my mind, for the rest of the day, I worried if I was going to remember the timeline. If I’d have gone to the meeting or written down the details from Lisa, I wouldn’t have fretted so much. Duh!

After meeting Lisa, I tried to keep things familiar. I headed back to the hotel room, pretended to nap. I futzed around with gear and bottles and bags (similar to Fridays at home). I even made Neal take a walk around the block - as if we were walking Sunny before dinner. I think I’m going to make this a new thing because it cleared my head, it relaxed me and we were able to explore the neighborhood. I ate an early dinner and hit the pillow.

When race day rolled around, I was up and ready to go before my alarm sounded its happy little chime. I ate (sweet potato biscuits with turkey and mayo + banana + coffee + a Larabar), donned my super suit, wrote my inspiration on my arm and did a little functional strength warm-up. Ace and I walked down to the village and I dropped off my run special needs bag, filled my bike with all its bottles and food and headed to my run transition bag to grab my shades.

One thing I would recommend at every race: go check on your bag on race morning! Mine had been moved! My bag (983) was lined up behind number 982 on Saturday, but by Sunday morning, it was lined up behind 981. I got a little frazzled because I’d already paced out where my bag would be in a line of 2499 other red and white bags! One of the volunteers - a woman with a Captain America shield on her sweatshirt - helped me find my bag. They had lined up the odds on the left hand side and evens on the right-hand side.

After that, I mapped out the bike start, the bike finish, the changing tents, the run start and the finish line. We mapped out how Ace would get to see me at all the intersections and how he might get on his bike to see me out on the run course.

We hung out by the riverfront for what seemed like forever. I warmed up a little. Were warned by race officials about the impending cannon blast to start the race (Dude! That little thing is only a little bigger than my Pez and was louder than a jet). I was surprisingly calm and having a good time. We talked to people in the crowd. We watched the pros (males only at this race) start a minute apart. Then the first of the age-groupers began their departure. Two-at-a-time. Five seconds apart.

I finally went into transition, looked for Lisa for a few minutes and then skeedaddled over to my bike. I chatted with the other women in my age-group. We introduced ourselves, told funny one-liners, nervously shifted from one foot to another in our bike shoes and fidgeted with our helmets. Finally, a race official came to our rack. Now, you can get your bike off. Now, you can walk your bike up. Now, you line up two-by-two. Now, you can lift one leg over the frame. Now you an clip one foot in. All this time we were moving forward and before I knew it we were ten spots groups away from the start.

Right about this time, I spotted my superhero volunteer. She was still inside the run bag area and cheering us all on. Have a great day. Enjoy the ride. See you when you get back. As I clip-clopped up to her, I handed her the red volunteer appreciation bracelet each athlete is given. You helped me so much this morning to find my bag. Please take this and know that you are loved. She beamed and said GO GET EM, GIRL!

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FOUR LETTERS

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FOUR LETTERS

About two hours outside of Chattanooga, I finished up a stint of driving and checked my phone. I had 17 messages. Quite a few were of the go-gettem-girl variety. The rest were about cancellations. The one from Holly stood out the most:

THEY CANCELED THE SWIM.

Our 2.4 mile down-river swim was canceled three days before the event. I might have used a six-letter word that rhymes with Slammit. I was and still am disappointed. I love the swim. I want the event to be a triathlon. I’ve been working so hard for all three. Wah. Wah. Wah.

The river is running three times faster than normal, there are high levels of e. coli and there is a large amounts of debris floating around. I understand the reasoning and the decision (someone died in the swim here in the spring 70.3). But, still!

Another round of texts involved the cancellation of IMNC 70.3 - our hometown half that happens next weekend. None of the disciplines (or even transition areas) are safe for an event. Plus, volunteers and fire, police and rescue are stretched thin. It makes perfect sense to cancel. But, A few of my athletes were racing, I will miss out on raising money for the Haitian orphans and many businesses will lose money. Disappointment is valid.

In times like these, I do remember 4G: Gusto, Gumption, Gruel and Grace. It’s about time for a little GRACE here.

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But, I’ve also learned about the 4Fs: F*CK, FIX, FORGET & FOCUS.

If something goes wrong, say the four-letter F-Word. Maybe not out loud. Or maybe very loud. Maybe not in front of your kids, though. Or at work. Be disappointed. Be pissed. Be emotional. You have four minutes to feel the feels.

Then, FIX it. If you’re already on the course, do what needs to be done to make it right - or mostly. Flat? Fix it. Dropped your bottle of Infinit? Fix it. Last mile not fast enough? Fix it. An event cancellation is out of my control, but I can fix my attitude. I can fix my reaction to it. My turnaround: This crazy course is still long at 142.6 miles (the bike is 116). And, I still get a medal for my longest brick ever!

Then, FORGET IT. Out of sight. Out of mind. Set a time limit now for how long you're going to think about it. Don't let the memory of that one incident weigh you down for the rest of the race. Let. It. Go.

FOCUS. First on the process. Focus entirely on the next right step. And then the next. Then extend that focus. Focus on the positives. On what will happen in the next mile. At the finish. My current focus is how to prep my gear for my biggest bikerun of the year. My attention is on a different nutrition plan and pacing strategy.

I recently watched a story on the Weather Channel (probably during all that Florence coverage) that mentioned the best way to aid a person in panic is to divert their focus to a task. So, get to work. Get busy.

And stop cussing.

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RACE WEEK - RACE PREP

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RACE WEEK - RACE PREP

I love prepping for race week. I really do. The lists! The packing! The piles of gear everywhere. The bags in bags inside of bags. Okay, it CAN be stressful, but it can also be fun. I have found a few ways to treasure the week before. Here are a few things I look forward to:

PRE-RACE SOCIAL

Local athletes doing the same race gather for a social a week or so before the big day. It’s a way to encourage first-timers, find out insider tips from athletes who’ve raced in the past and finalize where we’re staying, eating, training, etc. while we’re at the race venue. This year was a chilled out dinner at a local Thai spot with Holly, Michael and Susan who are also doing Chatty, plus: Erin, Jen, Sami, Charlie, Angela, Andre and James. It was just what we needed after a week dealing with the aftermath of the storm. It was just what I needed to get excited about racing - which has been lost in the surge of clean-up.

Here’s our crazy crowd a few years ago celebrating Kona pre-race for Sami!

Here’s our crazy crowd a few years ago celebrating Kona pre-race for Sami!

PICK THE PEZ

For every IronDistance race, I pick a Pez to travel with me on the bike. The first year, it was a classic Wonder Woman. Last year in Santa Rosa, it was the new Wonder Woman. R2D2 was with me in Florida. I have a big collection and I’m always looking for new versions.  For Chatty I chose……the Black Power Ranger.

 

Quick-witted and clever, Zack relies on a combination of skill,  strength, and agility to win his battles. The original Black Ranger is  an energetic, charismatic, and fun-loving young man. He enjoys athletics  (such as basketball, American football, and scuba diving), dancing  (especially to a fresh beat bumping out of his friend's boombox)……… Zack is extremely confident and positive. 

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You’ve heard of spirit animals? Well, Zack is my spirit ranger.  He even matches my race kit and Lucinda. And I’ve already been seeing it everywhere. And, as everything, it has multiple meanings. It has been a reminder that IRONMAN is not black and white. It is not this or that. Nothing is set in stone. It is constantly changing and there are often many right answers - or no right answers! In a brand who’s motto is ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE, it’s also true that ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN. And already has! Have I mentioned that the swim was canceled before we even got here?

So Zack is my spirit ranger. He will remind me to use my combo of strength, agility, confidence - and maybe a little dancing - to fight the battles of this race. Let’s see what we can do in the face of 142.6 miles.

MOTIVATION MATERIAL

I can find motivation anywhere: from everyday training, a funny quote, chalk drawings, a Scripture verse or even a birthday card. At my first few pre-race socials, I received dozens of well-wishes - cards and photos and CD full of songs - and a giant box containing  140 index cards -  reasons to tri (thanks, Sunshine). It is now stuffed with inspiration that I’ve collected throughout the years that make me feel strong and fast and “ironie”. If I’m driving to a race, I’ll take it with me.

I usually take one book with me as inspiration. For this race, I’m taking Deena Kastor’s memoir LET YOUR MIND RUN for its little nuggets of wisdom from the Olympic marathoner.

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I read this book earlier this year and it really made a difference. Kastor used not just one, but a multitude of mental skills to improve her run and her life. She used her love of nature, the discipline of optimism and even visualization to garner more confidence, resilience and longevity.

“My competitive days had a short window, but I could push my mind and strengthen my positivity for a lifetime. How optimistic could I become? How much richer could I build my life? What joy and potential lay ahead. Pursuing positivity felt infinite, limitless.”

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RACE WEEK - CHATTY 2018

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RACE WEEK - CHATTY 2018

I can’t believe it’s here! It’s already race week. I leave in only a few days and I am excited and nervous and ready as I’ll ever be.

It’s been a crazy season. I haven’t written much about it, but it’s been wild. I’ve gotten injured (hamstring), I had a hard spill on the bike, I had a big race A-HA in August, a big race meltdown in September and we had a major hurricane disrupt life and training. It makes me feel unprepared in many ways, but maybe I’m even more prepared than I know. I can use my experiences as an excuse or I can use it as fuel.

Here’s what I do know, I am looking forward to a new race experience. Chatty is new to me and I know from my past races that I can thrive that way. Similar to France and Santa Rosa, this race will mean new terrain and a slightly different climate. The swim is a down-river-with-the-current course, the bike is 116 miles (not the traditional 112) in North Georgia within sight of Lookout Mountain and the run will be the hilliest I’ve ever done.

Of course, I’ve had a few full-circle moments in the lead-in to this race. Last year during my Level II Endurance certification clinic, I created a presentation about Stephanie - a triathlete with her first Ironman in her sights. She wanted to do Chatty and place in the top ten of her age-group. I immersed myself in that Chatty race. I found pictures and a few race reports and blogs to add to my presentation. It was shortly after that that I signed up for this race myself! On September 1 of this year, I turned the page on my office wall calendar to find a picture of a runner on the Walnut Street Bridge in Chatty, the one I will cross twice and the one that will take me into the finish area of the race on Sunday.

The quote for September:

Some people create with words or with music or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run.
— Steve Prefontaine
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COACH'S CIRCLE - CATCH-UP DRILL

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COACH'S CIRCLE - CATCH-UP DRILL

This story is not about a swim drill. This is my way of speeding through all the things I want to write to get caught up. Sometimes I feel like this blog is a good friend and I've got to catch her up on all the fun stuff that has happened in order to convey all the new stuff that's about to happen! So here we go......

Happy Place: in a Hammock outside our clinic classroom.

Happy Place: in a Hammock outside our clinic classroom.

USAT TRIATHLON CLINIC Last October, right after my last race of the year and my 50th triathlon, Ace and I took a vacation/work trip to Hawaii! It was my first time there and I was spellbound. It was a combination of everything I love: ocean, adventure, relaxation, play and yes, triathlon. My primary intention for the trip was the USA Triathlon Level II Endurance coaching certification clinic. It felt like play to me. Even though we spent FAR too much time in inside, I relished every morsel of swimbikerun education that the Level III coaches fed to us.

I was in heaven. It was three days of high-level coaches teaching about long course triathlon. Plus, there were only 11 other coaches there for the clinic. It was a small group of talented, diverse and inspiring mentors for triathletes. There were presentations on nutrition, strength training, video analysis and athlete psychology on top of swimbikerun tips, techniques and theories.

My favorite part? The final presentations. Each of us was given a case study of an impossible athlete. My athlete was Stephanie and she was a piece of work. She wanted to do Ironman Chatty - but never take a day off. My presentation (which had to take into account all that we'd learned over three days) had to show how I could make that happen. In ten minutes or less.   I pulled out all the stops, created a kick-ass slide show complete with a Wonder Woman slide and practiced in my off time! I will brag and say I got a huge round of applause, but it may have been because I was last and we were all ready to get out of there!

wonder-woman slide.JPG

And go play.

Because, oh......did I mention that all of this was happening during the IRONMAN World Championships? More on that to come.........

 

 

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