Friday, October 28, 2016

JUMPING SHIP---BEACH TO BATTLESHIP THAT IS......


Well, what a whirlwind last week was in so much more than one way. One minute I am pumped for Ironman North Carolina. Resting, tapering, packing--ready to head to Wilmington. I trained so hard for that course. I finally got my crack at a course that suited me from start to finish. My flat course. The one time I actually cherry picked my race!! The one course that I sat on the trainer for and logged long bikes at high watts to simulate racing that flat course. The course I trained for, worked for, but didn't get to race. On Tuesday afternoon, a Facebook post from Ironman left me in tears. The announcement that the bike course was shortened to 50 miles due to lingering damage from Hurricane Matthew was devastating to me. This post came before even an email to the athletes-- nice! Anyone who races 140.6 knows that you don't work your ass off all year to only do half the distance and also cutting a 112 bike course short by half in an Ironman sucks. Especially for strong cyclists!! Having a discipline that you are strongest in cancelled or cut short just plain sucks. Anyway, cycling is my strength, so there it was ...gone.  I wasn't really happy with the way they let the athletes know about the change nor was I happy about not at the very least having a transfer option. I was angry!  I wanted 140.6, so I did what I had to do! On Tuesday morning I woke up excited, packed and ready to go race the race that I had trained for and on Tuesday afternoon I was in tears and left in a whirlwind of change. Not a way to go into something you've looked forward to all year.

When Rich got home he said I should do the GFT. I didn't even realize it was on the same day so before I even had a chance to look at the race website, I had made a decision that I was going to change races. Within an hour I was on the start list of the GFT Ultra 140.6...an Ironman distance course I knew nothing about. It was still a 140.6 though and it just so happened to be on the very same day.  I was excited, but stressed to the max. I had to unpack everything that had been packed for Wilmington. I had already stored all of our summer things away, so had to pull all of the summer clothes back out and repack bags for the family with summer clothes for Florida. Eek! Cancel hotel in Wilmington. Plead for a refund because again,WTC so carefully waited to notify us until it was to late to cancel your hotel without penalty. Hmmm...think about that. Anyway, luckily the hotel sympathized with what happened and after many calls to them and Expedia we got our $$$$ back. Then it's on to booking travel and hotel in Florida. Changing dates for dogs in kennels etc etc etc. Agh, all this in one day. 3 days before my race. Talk about stress. We couldn't get flights booked, so had to drive. If you have kids, in a car, on a ten hour trip, then you know what that's like. Que--more stress. Que- Exhaustion. I was worn out before we even got to FL!

We finally got to Orlando around 9pm on Thur and after getting in the hotel, settled etc, we were able to grab a quick bite of dinner at 11 pm. This is so not any of my pre-Ironman rituals and so stressful for me. On Friday we were back in the car and to the race venue which is in Clermont. Another 45 min drive with a toddler who was waaaay of schedule and SUPER moody. Whew. Once we got to packet pick up I honestly felt dizzy just from everything. I was trying to relax and enjoy everything but this was so different than everything I had thought about in training for the last 7 months. I was able to finally breathe...relax. I'm here. The race is tomorrow I was thinking. It's time to accept this change and roll with it.

I noticed the hills when we got to Clermont, but really didn't think much of it. It's Florida, how bad can it be???! Ha! Boy was I wrong. Anyway, first order of the day was getting the bike mechanic to try to  fix my gears. For the last few weeks, my bike wouldn't go in the easier gears and that was OK. I was racing flat so I knew I wouldn't even be needing those gears. However with the super fast change of races, it left me no time to get my bike fixed and I knew that I would need those gears on a hilly course. The bike mechanic at the race couldn't get them to work so I knew that the hills would be even more tough for me on race day, but I still stayed positive and decided to just roll with it. What else could I do? The race was in less than 12 hours.

I got my bike racked, had a quick run and it was hot! 88 degrees. Something else that I wasn't planning on prior to Tuesday afternoon at 3:30. I trained all year in the heat knowing it would be perfect weather, cooler weather on race day. Here I was in the Florida heat. Heat, yet again.

After a quick jog, we hopped in the car to get back to our hotel in Orlando. An hour drive with all the traffic. At 9pm the night before the race, I was still trying pack my gear bags and special needs bags. I was so tired. I finally wrapped it all up and got in bed at 11 with an alarm time set for 4:30 am.

Restless sleeping for a few hours and then it's time to get up and moving. I was excited. I was thankful. No matter what the day had in store for me I knew that as long as my bike didn't break, I would walk away an Ironman again. This meant more to me than anything and for that all of the stress was worth it.

Luckily, a cool front was blowing through on race morn. Good because the weather was a bit cooler, bad because it was super windy!! The swim which was in a lake looked more like the choppy sea and I knew the bike was going to be really rough. All good though. The water temp was 77 and right at wetsuit legal. I was in a full suit and knew that I would get hot, but again...I rolled with it. I put myself on the start line and before I knew it- we were off. Of all the Ironman swims this was the roughest and that includes IMFL in 2013. It was a mass start and I got myself in a good position. With the winds though, it honestly felt like I was going nowhere. It really did feel like I was a towel being thrashed around in a washing machine!! This was a 3 loop swim where we had to exit the water two times, run along the beach and get back in to start the next loop. This was to be a slow swim. In fact, slowest by far for me in a while. Slow for everyone else too though. The lake did have Alligator warning signs up, so you can imagine how it felt when another swimmer tapped your toes ;) I felt smooth and comfy in my Zone3 Vanquish suit and I knew before even looking at my garmin that it was one of my slowest swim times as I approached the exit. I was surprised when I hopped out to hear Rich say I was 4th woman though. That certainly put some pep in my step!


Quick in T1, actually my quickest ever and then it was off on the bike. I can't even fully describe what this bike course was like. There was quite a hill just out of transition and I joked to the guy next to me about having to climb right off that bat. He muttered..."You haven't seen anything yet." I giggled and thought to myself really?!? This is Florida, how bad can this really be. Besides, I've done IMLOU and right now I am in the best bike shape of my life! Well, before mile two I was retracting my statement to myself already. We hit a hill named Hospital Hill ( fitting) and there at the beginning of that 112 bike course were people pushing their bikes up the monster hill. Guys who looked like elite athletes...pushing their bikes. I have never seen anything like it. I grunted and groaned my way to the top. I did not have my easy gears, so it made is so much worse but I was glad I made it. Once I crested the hill and could breathe a sigh of relief it hit me...we have to do this hill 3x???!??!??!? Now I knew why the guy next to me out of T1 muttered what he did.

I can't really even begin tell you how hard this bike course was. Not only was it hard but I was climbing the monster course on an 11/23!! 23!!! I've always had 28 on Lou. NO EASY GEARS...Argh! And, when the race motto is 'Tougher than Iron' I can now assume that it's because of this bike course!!!!!! The climbs: Hospital Hill, The Wall, Sugarloaf Mountain, Buckhill. These babies were 19% gradient and not short little climbs either. They were long and grueling. Sugarloaf being the worse of them at 1/2 mile at such a steep incline. Not only were there hills, but very strong winds all day. Never ever a tail wind--how is that even possible. It was like a swirling wind in my face all day. At times having to grip so hard on the bike so I wasn't blown off. Yes, it was that rough. Having to do one loop of this in an Ironman race would have been perfectly manageable, but having to do it 3x was absolutely leg shattering and mind shattering. Especially for this poor girl who had to climb all day on heavy gears. Talk about a sufferfest! 18 climbs over the 3 loops over the monsters and that's not including all the other hills. WHEW! I was really wishing I had a compact crankset or a motor!! There were times up the climbs where my speed was 4mph! 4mph!???? I honestly dreaded loop 3 so badly, I nearly considered just walking off the course and taking my first DNF. If you know me, you know I'm not a quitter, but this was that tough. 6500 feet elevation gain makes Louisville's bike course look like candy. I've climbed Cat 1's in the French Alps that weren't this tough. This bike course is a beast. If you ever want to test your bike limits, I highly recommend this place. They have a century ride there called Hell Hundred if that tells you anything. Quad crushing cycling ... I had two chain drops during the 112 miles where I had to dismount and fix my chain. Once actually at the first loop turnaround when I hit a big dip in the road. Second drop was at the top of Sugarloaf. I was gutted when I looked at my speed because I am so much stronger of a cyclist that I have ever been in years past. I wish I had trained for a hilly course but I trained all year to race a flat bike course avoiding hills as much as possible in my training. I had only hard gears on the day, so tried to cut myself some slack. I was really hurting at mile 100! Mentally and physically. When you train all year to race a particular race, you can see it in your mind..you plan it, you learn the course you will be racing, the details. You carry that with you in your training day in day out. Here I was racing an Ironman that I had not planned, had not trained for and a bike course that didn't suit me as a cyclist. But all the same, here I was racing my full race. All of the suffering on that bike course didn't compare to the sadness I would have felt only racing 82 miles for something I trained all year for.

Anyway, I don't think I have ever been so happy to come off my bike!! I was so happy until my legs touched the earth. Doing 112 miles of that on very little gears, sure left me worse for wear. OOOOH this is gonna hurt. I had such a great year of running and was hoping to PB my IM run by a long shot. Not to happen on this day. On this course. The bike took too much out of me and my legs just couldn't respond in the way I wanted. I trudged along and was happy that I never got an GI issues which is something that used to always haunt me on the run. So, there are huge positives there. I finally have my nutrition figured out. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and promised myself that I wouldn't let any female pass me on that 26.2 mile run. I kept that promise up until mile 21 where I was running in 4th place overall. I was passed at mile 21 by the only female that passed me the whole run. Mile 21-26 were a real struggle!! When I hit mile 25, I was so so happy and that last mile as always was the longest mile of my life. I crossed the line. 140.6 miles on the toughest course that I have ever raced on. I was satisfied. I was happy. I was relieved. I got to finish with my Abby. Caleb missed this race because he was on a hunting trip. I have always wanted to finish 140.6 with my kids but Ironman doesn't allow it, so this icing on the cake. What a way to end the day!!



I didn't realize until the next day that I was the Female Masters Winner and 6th Overall Female. My time surely wasn't as fast as races past, but I can honestly say that I gave it all that I had. To handle such a drastic change only days before a race--to travel so many hours--the stress of it all--the craziness that it was and the monster of a race I raced. I walked away happier than I ever have in a full distance race. The GFT was a top notch race. Where organizers actually truly care about their athletes. I had the most fun out there and felt so at home before, during and after. This is one of the last surviving 140.6 races that isn't owned by Ironman and it's a great one! I have to say that now that my legs are feeling better, it is one I will definitely consider again. Next time tho...I'll train for those hills!


Congrats to everyone who finished their races at the GFT Ultra 140.6 and also IMNC. I know that so many others were gutted to have the race shortened and I really feel for them. To put in the hours and hours of training and not be able to do the race you planned is just terrible. I really feel for those who were racing NC as their first Ironman. To put things right (?) Ironman finally sent us all a $150 voucher for a 2017 full. I am currently undecided on a plan for that and the voucher expires in Dec. Rich wants me to sit on it for a while before making a decision. If I do take the leap, it will be a spring/early summer full because I'm planning to race my first 100 mile trail race next fall. It's going to be a busy year for us as well with all of the work we have going, selling house, planning a move to Hilton Head etc etc etc.  I have A LOT to do next year so we shall see. For now...here's to the off season :)




Monday, July 18, 2016

WHAT THE HILL?!??!



So, I had this great idea a few months ago.  I decided to sign myself up to run The Scream Half Marathon. First of all...bad idea trying to race on an 18 hour training week with zero rest and also I was sadly mistaken thinking that a downhill race would be 'easy'. Not only that having an achilles issue since March, probably not the brightest thing to do to myself. Live and learn though, right?

Saturday's race proved to be pretty brutal on my body and I'm pretty certain I won't be doing a crazy run like that again! My body is wrecked!! WRECKED!! That's saying something considering what I put it through on a day to day basis. How the hell can a 13 mile hill do me in? Well, it did!! At 5am Sunday morning, Rich woke me up and asked why I was crying! Hahahaha...crying? In my sleep? He said I was whimpering and moaning and he was concerned. I was out like a light, so didn't even know it, but apparently I was whining and moaning haha! That's how sore I am. My body is not happy with me! ESPECIALLY my glutes, hamstring and quads!!!

Anyway, I had decided to do this race before I signed up for Ironman and even thought Rich wanted me to just do it as a training run, I simply can't run a race just for training. I have to push myself. I knew that I would be going in tired and made sure to get in all of my training sessions last week because my race in Oct is much more important to me than this. That left me pretty tired though and a 4am wake up call is not something I like except on an Ironman race morn. Anyway, I dragged myself out of bed and headed over to my friend Catherine's house. She had pulled her calf muscle so was unable to race but chose to volunteer instead so we could still go together. We made the long drive up into the mountain and it's so beautiful up there. I couldn't help thinking that I am pretty certain that the movie Deliverance was based on that area and I just kept waiting to hear the Banjos ;)

Nuff said...

Catherine drove me up the mountain so I didn't have to ride the bus and there we met up with Nicole and Chris. They had done this race before and also Peak to Creek so were trying to fill me in on the what and what NOT to do's. I listened, but for some reason when it's go time my mind forgot everything they told me NOT to do ha!

The first couple of miles were on pavement and rolling. The air was so thick with humidity it was tough to breathe. Thankfully it wasn't too hot though. I started out like I always do (too hard) and on between one and two, I was praying that the downhill would start soon.

We took a right onto the dirt and then it began. Running down and down and down some pretty steep sections at times. I have always been good on downhill in trail runs, but the mileage is much shorter than this. My leg turnover was incredible and I was thankful. Garmin says sometimes it was up to 220spm. This was a good thing...on a downhill! I needed to keep my leg turnover good and settle in. It was going well, really well until around mile 6-7. I started hurting. The jarring, the pounding, the change in run form etc etc. OMG. Things started hurting. I was starting to blow in a different way than blowing from going too hard. My body was blowing. Hit some uphills around mile 8 and 9 and that's when I knew the rest of the race would be a struggle. My hips and glutes were absolutely in knots. Every step started to ache in my hips and rear. OH BOY! I just kept moving though but everything slowed down at that point. Cadence fell, spirit fell. I went in feeling confident and there I was at mile 10 thinking...will I make it????

3rd in Female 40-44
I ran hobbled to mile 12 and saw Catherine at the aid station and she cheered me on which helped lift my spirit back up. I was almost finished. I finally made my way across the line and once I stopped, that's when the real pain set in. Unreal the soreness I was really feeling!!! I was hoping to go faster in this race, but now knowing how hard this is, I was happy with my time and most of my performance. It was exciting to learn that I actually placed 3rd in my age group for this race.

After reading several articles last night on downhill running (wish I had done that BEFORE the race), I realized that it's actually very tough. My pace on this race is actually a little slower than my last few long training runs where my heart rate is low. Definitely not a course you want to try and get a PB on unless you are accustomed to this kind of running.  I think to make it work on a course like this is mostly about conditioning your body to run the terrain and from what I read, it's pretty dang important. Most people that do well on mountain runs either up or down train the terrain and condition their bodies to it.  Nicole and Chris both did well in the race, but they had actually gone up there to train several times on the course before race day.  I am stuck with mostly flat running in my training so yes, my body was in shock! BIG TIME SHOCK!

After some pretty amazing barbecue and some cooling off in the river, we headed home. The hurt really set in at about 8 pm Saturday night. Yesterday I woke up and could barely move, but triathlon training waits for no one though and I had a two hour hilly ride to do. It actually didn't hurt so bad, but when I got off the bike....oooooooooh my! It's times like these I wish I did NOT have stairs in my house! All in all, it was a fun race. Got to spend some time with some tri friends and also got to see a beautiful place in NC that I didn't even know existed. I recommend the race if you want a beautiful course and you like going down a mountain. If you do sign up though, do it quick. It sells out fast. Oh and if you do get in...you may want to get a wheelchair for the next couple of days after ;)


Here's a great little video of the fabulous Emelie Forsberg downhilling it like a boss.
WOW!! BEAST!



Cheers All ~x

Saturday, May 7, 2016

LEATHERWOOD MOUNTAIN 10 MILER




Leatherwood Mountain 10 Mile! Another great mountain race, but not quite as tough as some of my prior races, thankfully! I used to live and train near this gorgeous place and I haven't been there in years so it was really nice to go back. I became a triathlete training on those mountain roads, so going back was nice and refreshing.  On the drive there, I could remember cycling on those roads and never once thinking how hilly it was...even though it's very hilly. I could remember the happiness I felt in becoming a triathlete on those hills. It's a really gorgeous place. It was exciting thinking I was about to tackle the actual mountain itself.

I wasn't sure that I should do this race because I have been haunted by achilles tendinitis since Table Rock and wasn't sure this was something I should do now that I am planning on Ironman. Don't want to take a chance to further injure this Achilles. However, I thought if nothing else, I will take it easy if the pain is too intense. Luckily, I didn't have very much trouble on race day.

The weather was pretty much perfect. The sun was out and temps were very comfy. I pulled of my jacket and chatted to a few people. Loads of people came from all over the place to race this one. I met the female winner of the 10 mile just before the start and she came all the way from Austin for this race. She was super nice and super fast.

At 9am , it was go time. We started off doing paved road for quite a while. I am not a fan of the paved roads with my trail shoes on, but it wasn't too bad. I am quickly learning to control myself in the start of these races now, so held back. I also wasn't sure just how hard to go with the tendinitis because I did want to actually run this thing. We soon hit the trail and it was so refreshing.  I loved it. Some one the women that had passed me on the road, I quickly caught up to on the trail and made my way around. Road running and trail running are so different. I am much better on trails than on road that's for sure. I think learning how to maneuver on rocky tough terrain is important and the more you expose yourself to it, the better. I kept moving with a pretty even steady pace. Nothing too crazy because the hills were coming.

I was happy with my pace and I felt really strong even though I had absolutely zero rest before this race. I had just started Ironman training again and had cycled 115 miles, ran 30 & swam 6 in the six days leading up to this race, so was pleased with my energy level out there. I am no spring chicken, so rest is crucial for me, but I am still rather fresh since I've just started adding the long stuff again, thankfully.

I was feeling good halfway so I kept trucking. We hit the river crossing around mile 5 and that was really fun. I crossed really quickly and came out to feet that probably weighed about 5 pounds more than when I started. The water quickly came out of my Hoka Challengers tho. I really love those shoes. No blisters, no discomfort. There were several more water crossings along the way, but none like the river. Lots of steep climbs on the last half of the race, and not going to lie...they hurt.



Pretty soon, I was making my way back home and to the finish and still felt really good. My shoe which had been double knotted came untied though on the last mile. It was so full of wet sand that it must have somehow worked it's way loose from that, so I actually had to stop and tie my shoe in the last mile ha. That's a first! Anyway, I pushed along to the finish and ended up with a 1:51. I had hoped to go 2 hours for this race, so was really pleased with my result. Around 2,500 feet elevation gain over the course.

I was 7th overall female and 1st in my AG for this race. There was some pretty stiff competition this time, so was really pleased with my result. I am not the best of runners, but I am getting stronger and this race result really made me happy. The atmosphere there was fun and laid back as always. Everyone is super friendly at these events. Not quite as much as ego in the trail run community as the tri world, but I do obviously love the tri world too. I think I have to have a bit of both worlds now-- I like being laid back, but I also need the competitiveness of the tri scene to thrive. I have found my great mix of both to keep me nice and balanced.

I am supposed to be racing Quest for the Crest Vertical 10k next weekend, but the achilles is still haunting me and not only that, I now have been told by Doctor Nick that I also have Piriformis Syndrome. I have been having that haunt me as well since December, but with no relief I had to find out what was up. It sure is a pain in the ass...literally! Trail running sure does make you strong for sure, but it also takes a toll on the body. In the several years of triathlon, only little niggles here and there. 6 months of trail and mountain races...my body has revolted. I was not doing enough cross training with all the running, so that really took a toll. Thankfully now that I am back into Ironman training, I have that balance back and doing a little less running now. With these two nuisances,  I can manage and deal though. I just have to play it smart. We just have to take things as they come and deal with them the best way we can. So, with that being said...I am 50/50 on the fence about pushing myself up that vertical 10k next weekend. It may not happen. Ironman training is more important to me and this is what I have to think about. We shall see...

Thursday, April 21, 2016

SCARS TELL A STORY


I posted in a Facebook group a couple weeks ago about my bike crash from last year and I had a few people message me and ask that I write a blog about it. Apparently, it gives some people inspiration on coming back from injuries, so I appreciate them saying that. I never thought what I went through could help another, but if my story helps, then I am glad to write it. Since my first race back post crash was St. Anthony's which is this upcoming weekend, I thought now would be as good a time as ever. So here goes...

December 28, 2014. Yorkshire England. I decided that morning that I would go cycling in the cold damp dreary weather that is winter in northern England. Rich pleaded with me not to go telling me that it was icy out and he didn't have a good feeling. Well, if you know me, I am pretty headstrong and fearless, so I decided to just do it anyway. Hind sight is always 20/20, right? I kitted up and headed out the door. I hopped on the bike and felt great. We had just done a really tough trail run race a couple of days before, The Chevin Chase, and my legs were a little tired. Anyone that knows Yorkshire, knows the hills there are no joke. Anyway, I just wanted a nice spin out to breathe and get the blood flowing.

I set off. I was on a mountain bike and was headed to the trails, via the road. Not long into my ride, I was going down hill and through a bend when I saw it- ICE. It was stretched across the road in front of me. I was going around 18mph at the time. I have been cycling for several years and in my mind, I knew what to do. I thought I knew what to do. My body reacted differently though. As the front tire touched the ice, the bike wobbled underneath me. I grabbed the front brake. Too quick, too hard. The front tire was over the ice and locked up on the pavement.  It all happened so fast. My body, attached to the bike, was hurled into the air. The back end of the bike coming over the front end. My face hitting the pavement and taking the blunt of it all. I heard ringing. I saw nothing. I felt everything. According to my Garmin data, my heart stopped for 7 seconds. Weird huh? I can't really describe the feeling, the pain. If you have ever crashed with your head or face taking the blunt of a hard fall, then you know. I felt my teeth and my facial bones crush upon impact. After I came to, I realized I was on the sidewalk. A runner passing by had helped me out of the road and over to the side. I was down on all fours on the cold Yorkshire ground in a pile of blood and brokenness. Spitting out chunks of my teeth. I was crying, oh yes...crying. I remember saying to the guy that my teeth were gone and that my jaw was broken. I don't think he understood because I couldn't even open my mouth property to speak. I knew though. I knew the damage. I felt it. I won't post the photos. There are some back through my blog from a year ago though if you care to look. Anyway----

Pretty soon there were cars everywhere. Some people thought I'd been hit by a vehicle. I saw a little boy in his fathers car crying looking on in horror. I turned my head because I figured he was scared at what he saw. Perhaps the blood. My head was spinning. Everything was spinning and the pain was intense. Then Rich was there. All I could say to him was that my teeth were gone. Things were going numb after that, I couldn't feel my chin, jaw or face anymore. He took me back to the house. Luckily, my father-in-law and my sister-in-law are both doctors and one look told them I needed to go to hospital.

Off to Leeds hospital we went. I won't bore you with all the details about that, but the crash left me with 3 facial fractures including a severely broken jaw. More specifically...a condylar that was broken completely into two pieces. Two chin fractures and 8 broken teeth. Luckily, the front teeth were still in tact only separated and only time would tell if I would be able to keep my front teeth. I had thought after the crash when I was on the road that they were all gone. Thank god there were there and fingers crossed for six months of waiting to make sure the nerves didn't die. The back teeth took the impact though. From my incisors back.  Cracked, broken teeth. 8 of them. Top and bottom.  I also could not feel the left side of my face. The break of my jaw had damaged a facial nerve as well. I had a bone deep laceration underneath my chin that had to be sutured. Oh boy. What a predicament. The rest of my body was ok apart from bruises and scrapes.

So, that is what happened. This post though is really about what happened after--

We flew back to the states on January 2. I had to see a doctor immediately upon our arrival. Actually three of them. What an incredible team of people. So thankful for the good care.

Post crash- Let's just say this was probably harder than the actual accident itself. I ended up with my jaw being wired shut for almost 4 months. Yes, that's right. Imagine that. I ate through a tube
How I ate...
attached to a syringe. As an athlete, I train, eat, and take care of my body. Here I was now, a crumpled mess that couldn't do anything. I was dropping pounds by the day. I was thin to start with, but this was taking things to a whole different level. 20 lbs disappeared within the first two weeks. 20 pounds! Imagine the feeling of your body just wasting away. The muscles and strength that took years to build, disappearing before my very eyes. No matter how many calories I pumped into my body, the weight came off. I was struggling. Mentally. This broke me on the outside and now it was breaking me on the inside. I was getting down, sad, sometimes angry. Miserable. The days seem to pass so slowly. Imagine being hungry, but not being able to pop in a snack or a drink. I had to buy a special blender and plan ahead just to even have a small snack. This was the beginning though and just like anything you learn to adapt. I started to make peace with the injuries and knew I needed to adapt.

After about three weeks of this,  I made a decision that I would not let it defeat me. I put my bike on the trainer. I cannot tell you the feeling of fear I had when I first looked at the bike, let alone getting on it. Clipping sent shivers down my spine. But I did it. I made myself. I knew that I had to. This was me, 3 weeks after my crash, jaws wired shut. First time back on the bike.


I took it easy, I stayed indoors on the trainer. Trying to breathe through jaws that are wired shut is no easy task. But dammit, I did it. I was told by my doctors that I couldn't swim or run for a while and finally begged them for permission at 5 weeks post crash. They said that didn't see how anyone could swim with their jaws wired shut, but I was determined and dammit, I did it! I got back in the pool and like sucking wind through a straw, I swam three times a week.

The run. This was the toughest. My bones were healing, so I had to be careful. The docs didn't want me to do it, but I had to. Five weeks post crash, jaws wired shut. I ran. It was slow and easy, but I ran. 5 miles! Again, with teeth clenched tight, breathing is tough just sitting. Imagine running like that. It was no easy feat but I was determined.

First run. 5 weeks post crash. Jaws wired shut. 
The hardest part for me was getting back on the bike...on the road. But I did it. Around the 5 week mark. I had to do it. I had to get rid of the fear that was haunting me. I'll be honest, it was NOT easy. When I clipped into my pedals for my first ride, I thought I would pass out from anxiety. I had never felt anything like this before. It was real fear. But dammit, I did it anyway. I took off. Afraid. I felt woozy, but rode for an hour. Jaws wired shut. Crying pretty much the first 15 minutes. Pulling back on every hill. Just nice and easy. Baby steps. After my first ride back on the road, I felt a little better. I knew that I was on the right track to healing on the inside.

I had to learn to adapt. I had to learn how to eat. I was not going to let my strength and everything I had built up in years of Ironman training just go away. Once I started 'training' again, I was determined NOT to lose another pound. I ate, and ate, and ate. Well, really it was more like drinking, but whatever. Calories. I consumed more calories a day than probably five athletes put together. In liquid form. I had to keep the weight on and I was successful. I dropped around 25 lbs total from this accident, that being the first few weeks. Once I started training, I didn't lose another pound.  I was on the road back.

I was healing on the outside and the inside. The nightmares (or instant replays) of the accident every night in my sleep were becoming less and less. The more I did the things I love, the better I felt.
I started to become a stronger person. I pushed. I worked. I trained. I wanted to be back racing even thought I was told to take it easy for months. I am just not wired that way. I am a fighter.

Proud to say that I trained for 3 1/2 months for that triathlon with my jaws completely wired shut. I swam, biked and ran, everyday. A broken face, broken teeth, pain.  It did not stop me!

I did my first bike TT three weeks after I got my wires out and I had my fastest TT to date with a 24.6 mph average over a 10 mile course. Then there was St. Anthony's triathlon which was a year ago this weekend. I raced it one month after my jaws were finally set free from all the wires and I had one of my best bikes ever. Sub 1:15 oly bike on a hot and very windy course. I did NOT let my accident stop me. I did NOT let that crash weaken me. What I did do was learn from the crash. I learned about who I really am and what I am really made of.  It made me stronger. More of a fighter. Stronger...inside and out.

St. Anthony's Tri- 4 months after the accident
I finally got the last of my teeth taken care of just one month ago. Luckily, all of my teeth 'lived'. My dentist was worried about the nerves dying, but they didn't, thankfully. I just need some repairs on them. One year of doctors/dentists visits and it's finally come to a close. One year. I still have facial paralysis on the left side, but it's not severe. I can't feel my nose and part of me cheek and chin. This is permanent, but it doesn't really affect me. My smile is different, my jaw and chin are a little crooked now and that's ok. My jaw popped out of place just the other day and it took about a minute before I could even open my mouth. It is what it is though, right? These are my scars!! Like the above quote. It's a reminder of when life tried to break me, but failed. This is where my character was truly defined.

I hope this helps anyone who's ever had a sporting accident. I am honored that people reached out to me after my post. I believe that when life knocks you down, you really have only have two choices. You either stand back up with fists clenched or you let it consume you. I stood back up and it has made all the difference!


Cheers~

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

DOING WORK

Train with lions. Right? EEEK!
I'm back! Well, I wasn't really ever too far away from it.  I guess 'back to the grind'  would be a more accurate statement. Back to what I love most. I love long distance and am over the moon with my decision to do Ironman again. It's just who I am.

I look at everything that I have done over the last six months since my last Ironman and am so content. I had such a nice break and a much needed one. Although my running intensified in every way, easy time on the bike and in the pool have paid some pretty big dividends so far.
Recovery ride after Blackrock
Last year, I focused on becoming a better more solid cyclist and through time trailing really developed some good strength and also great confidence. Winning the series last year in my AG was pretty exciting and I am contemplating on doing some more of these this season for training. They really are good for training! Anyway, last week, coach had me do my good ole CP20. I always dread these, but kind of look forward to them at the same time. They hurt, but as cyclists we want to know where we are in our fitness.  I was unsure of where my bike strength was having only cycled very easy and short distances over these last 6 months. During my warm up, I began to dread what was about to come. These tests are important to see where your bike fitness is. Since I am really just now starting to train, I didn't really want to see power lower than last year or even the year before, but I was prepared for it. After a quick warm up it was go time. Full throttle. For 20 minutes. I don't do anything half-assed and this test is not the time to wimp out.  You just suck it up, push and know it's going to hurt like hell. The first ten minutes weren't too killer, then 12, then 14. OMG this is starting to hurt. Push, power, push, breathe, don't vomit. Oh, you just vomited a little. Swallow it. Breathe. All good. OOHHH, this hurts.  I imagined myself in the time trial. The last lap. Pushing. I thought my legs were going to blow----one more minute. You can, you can. Grunt, snort, blow, vomit. DONE! I rolled off the bike and was in the position below for about 10 minutes before I could move. Work hurts. If it doesn't hurt, it certainly doesn't change you and that is something that I have become very comfortable with in the last year and a half. Pain.

Vomit level & not able to move ;) 
I was finally able to stumble down to coach and take him my power meter. I couldn't even look because I didn't want to see low numbers. You can imagine my surprise when he told me it was my highest power test yet. Higher than last year!?!?? I haven't been training and I was able to power through my CP20 and have my highest numbers yet??? What???  Over 250 FTP is pretty exciting and going into a flat race this fall...exactly where I want to be early season. I am pretty ecstatic with that. I have just started training, so I really was shocked. I read recently that time off the bike is the key to getting stronger. I now believe that. Although I cycled throughout the winter, it was short and easy. A few strength sessions here and there. I also think that my leg strength has improved a lot. With the trail running, mountain running and all the strength and conditioning work this year...these things have made a big difference. In running and cycling. I'm seeing super huge gains in my running and all of the trail running has really made me stronger. I love hills now. Prefer them to flat actually. I am running fitter and faster than I have ever run before and I couldn't be happier. On the trails the pace is a little slower, but when translated to the pavement, I am sometimes really surprised.  I have gained so much confidence in my running and am planning to continue trail racing throughout the summer for training. I have had some achilles tendonitis flares from Table Rock and Blackrock, but it's manageable and actually starting to get better (hopefully). I was planning on NOT doing Leatherwood Ultra, but my AT is feeling better, so am putting in back on the schedule. Looking forward to that one. It's on my old turf and old training grounds. My swimming is consistent as always, and I am happy with where my swims are. Only able to swim 2x weekly at the moment, but not planning on killing myself in the pool this year. I need to build back some swim endurance, but that's about it. Speed is good. Strength is good. Just need to go from those comfy 2800yd swims back to the longer ones.

Long runs are on the trails these days
Next month is Quest for the Crest Vertical 10k, as long as the AT is ok, still doing it. Leadville in June may or may not happen. With the new job starting for me, it's going to be tough to make it work, but it's not out of the picture just yet. Still planning on the Xterra Series and also now on the waitlist for The Bear and The Scream. Ironman in October, then perhaps some more run races late in the year.

This year is about having lots of fun. Not that it's not always fun, but sometimes we tend to put too much pressure on ourselves as amateur athletes. It really is all about having fun and in having fun, sometimes we become better all around than when we take things too seriously. I want to be as strong as I can, have as much fun as I can and enjoy every minute of the ride. Being able to do what I do at 42 is pretty freaking awesome. Being able to show my kids this...means everything.

Cheers~

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

THE HOOK BRINGS YOU BACK~



And just like that-- I hit the submit button! It's only after the fact that I gulped! Ha! Really though, I had some people who were wagering on me actually sticking to my guns and taking this year off from Ironman completely. I even thought that I had myself fooled into believing that I could. However, when the heart has a calling, you have to answer. Ironman is what I have done for the last six years. It's what I know. What I love. The rigid structure of training, the times on six hour bike rides when you truly learn who you are.  The mental battles that come along with training. The battles of being too tired to carry on but carrying on anyway. I love this and I need it!! I love all the running. I do. It's just not enough for me. I need more than the one thing. I need it all. The long swim sets, the miles and miles and miles of biking and running. Not to mention everything in between. It's the balance in that that I need and that balance that I crave. I believe that triathletes are perfectly well rounded because of being able to balance those three sports and to me I have to have it in my life to make me happy.


So, for those of you who said "I know you'll end up doing Ironman this year", and you know who you are...you were right. Even if I didn't believe it at the time myself. My riding partner Erik said to me..."it's in your blood." I think perhaps he is right. It's what I love and it's a piece of what makes me, well me.

I am really excited to have taken the plunge again. Very much looking forward to a flat course this time. I have become much strong with my running over the last few months by taking it off road. I plan to continue to work the trails to help me get stronger. I have been swimming and cycling all along, and my swimming is exactly where I want it to be. I need to start my power sessions back on the bike now. My last bike interval was about 5 weeks ago. Not too bad.

My other love & passion
I am still going to be running mountains, trail running and racing all throughout this year. It, like Ironman, is also a part of me and what I really do love. I have always been an off road junkie and my plan is to keep on keeping on with it. I do believe that trail running helps to translate to better running on the road. At least it does for me. My easy runs are now what my race pace road runs used to be. I'm digging that...a lot!  Still doing all of my trail races this year and yes, even the crazy vertical mountain runs. Eeeek! I am currently the points leader in NC Xterra Trail Run Series for my age group and will be running all of the Xterra trail races this year for more points. I really would love to get to Oahu, Hawaii for Xterra Trail Run Worlds in Dec. That may have to wait until next year, but it's something that I am definitely working towards.

Think I've nailed my balance. I have it all back and have vision of where I want it all to go. That's good. No, actually, that's great. Last year was a blur. From the accident that took me down for about four months, to a lot of nonsense, to pushing to hard and getting too exhausted trying to get back into it. Not giving myself time to heal from the crash etc etc. It was all too much. This year is ace though. Everything is falling into place as it should and I'm beaming from the inside. Even landed a dream job in the tri industry that I get to do from home, but more on that to come. 

I'm pumped and excited to have my direction as an athlete back. I'm 42 years young and to be able to do what I do is a blessing. So here's to soaking it all in, having a lot of fun and training and racing with a big ole smile on my face. How lucky am I to have a body that lets me run it too exhaustion over and over again, and still lets me continue to do what I love? 

Always, always, always!

Cheers friends~