Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Years!

I guess a progress report is somewhat in order. I have been back to the gym, working out. I am seeing progress, and that is good, but I still have a long way to go, and I have another 3+ weeks before I can try running again. I still have to wear a compression garment, and I am not going to lie, I am getting rather tired of it. Other than my incision hurting from time to time, I would say that the limited motion is gone.

The holidays were a fun time of year in some respects (rather boring in others). I started in a new position at work the week before Christmas, and since the holidays is a traditionally slow period of time, I spent the better part of the last two weeks scouring the internet for something interesting to read. Thankfully, a few people updated blogs, but I did succumb to one of my guilty pleasures -- watching YouTube videos of Mark Cavendish on my phone. For those of you who don't follow professional cycling, Cavendish was last year's green jersey winner at the Tour de France and won the rainbow jersey at the world championships. He is considered the fastest man on two wheels and is a character that I find just fascinating.

Aside from feeding my Cavendish cravings, I also watched some other interesting videos, like one about the man who ran a half marathon barefoot in the Arctic Circle and another from the doctor working at Everest during the 1996 tragedy. All of it pretty interesting in terms of the ability for mental drive to create physical abilities.

These videos saved me as I was scared that my complete lack of nothingness at work would make me incapable of carrying on a conversation. I literally ended a conversation with SO by saying, "I am scared that if I don't hang up the phone now, I will have nothing left to say to you tomorrow so have a good night!"

But, it wasn't all inactivity. New Year's Eve proved to be not as low key as I had imagined. It was the first time that I would be celebrating the holiday with my boyfriend, not just SO specifically, but the first time I could actually say I was in a real relationship on New Year's Eve. Yes, I am 30 years old, and it's my first relationship that lasted for any significant period of time.

We had a great night together, capped off by SO finally taking me "dancing." Now, I mention all the time, I spent a year of my life in the Caribbean, where it is common to go dancing almost every weekend so it's something I definitely miss. To try to satisfy my desire to go dancing, SO took me to this "club" near Crocker Park called the Savannah. I felt like I had walked onto the set of the movie The Wedding Singer minus an even remotely attractive lead singer of the band. There was that square dance floor, lots of older couples dancing, and an 80's rock cover band complete with Breakfast Club posters on the backdrop. I can't say I really danced all that well because I was laughing so hard, but for two people who truly love people watching, it was a perfect way to ring in the new year-- surrounded by 50 something's making out on a dance floor while tables and tables of people watched.

2012 started with my dreams coming true--literally. I dreamt that SO made me pancakes for breakfast and low and behold, he did just that. With a rather late start to the day, we kind of had to hurry to get to the CTC (Cleveland Tri Club) Polar Plunge at Huntington Beach.

Now, I will fully admit that I chickened out last year, and I didn't go. This year, however, as a member of the CTC board, I felt obligated to go and obligated to participate. According to MD's dry erase board, the water temp was around 36 degrees. Along with more than 300 other people, I ran into the water in my swim suit. Well, that sentence isn't entirely true, there was a group of guys behind us who wore coconut shell bras and hula skirts and a few others were dressed up in dresses and other attire. The problem with Huntington is that you can't just run in and run out, it's pretty shallow, so you kind of have to run about 10-20 yards into the water to get submersed. So, on the 20 yard run back, I could quickly feel all of the blood rushing to my lower extremities and worried that I might pass out, but I made it back and lived to tell the tale.
The best part of the affair was getting to see so many friendly faces at Panini's.

Now, if that wasn't cold enough, because of the surgery, I had swapped games to which I would accompany my dad to the Browns game. By the time I set out to leave to meet my dad, it was in the 30's with howling wind and rain. After adding an additional three layers of clothes, I walked out of the bathroom, and I asked SO's if I looked good, to which he said, "ahh... not really," a fact confirmed later.

I was kind of already running late so I rushed out of SO's house, I got about 5 minutes down the road when I realized I had forgotten my phone at his house. So, I had to rush back and was very late to meet my dad. We got stuck in traffic, and then we got stuck in pedestrian traffic. I felt horrible! I also felt quite warm. We parked about a mile away from the stadium and the 7 (not exaggerating) layers of clothes I was wearing were keeping me quite toasty, but that changed about the middle of the 2nd quarter when the lack of motion kind of set in.

When we got to the stadium, we had to go through the pat down line. Now, these lines are segregated into female and male, and as I got to the front of the line, the lady asked me, "are you female?" After I got over the blow to the ego of that question, I said yes and got myself patted down and met my dad in the stadium. I went into the bathroom and saw my reflection and gave the security guard the benefit of the doubt...there was so little of me that looked very feminine with all of those clothes on that the question was probably merited.

Aside from feeling bad when my dad spilled his beer, I had a really good time at the game. My dad kept worrying about me as I was kind of shivering, but I really wasn't that cold. I really like football, and I had a blast high fiving the guys sitting around us when the Browns started playing football at the end. I could have done without the obnoxious Pittsburgh fan a few rows ahead of us wearing a Harrison jersey, but for the most part, it was a fun game.

The only bad part were all the sore loser fans yelling at all the Pittsburgh fans to go home that they weren't wanted! I wanted to yell at these people, "have you seen how depressed this city is?" I wanted to say to the Steelers fans, "Thanks for spending your money here, why don't you stay the night, maybe grab some food before you leave."

While it was probably the coldest New Years Day of my life, it is easily one of the most memorable.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Progress Report

It has now been over three weeks since the original surgery, two weeks since the second surgery. So, what's the progress???

I am no longer walking like an old lady or like someone who threw out their back, which is great because I was getting mildly tired of having to explain to people what was wrong with me. While I have obviously been fairly public about my surgery in this blog, I have not been very forthcoming with details at work, mainly because of my manager's attempts to get me to postpone/cancel my surgery because it was inconvienent for him. While I know that putting it out on the internet for all to see makes it available for even him to see, but I am only facebook friends with one person from work so it's not widely known. I am also easily annoyed when people state the obvious, particularly when you are physically incapable. For instance, back in 2001, I was on crutches for six weeks after my ACL reconstruction surgery. Week after week, I would have the same people come up to me and say, "You are still on crutches?" "Well, DUH!!!" I'm not carrying them around with me because I feel like my armpits haven't suffered enough yet. Or, back in 2008, when I had my hammer toe surgery and was a boot for a month. "Did you hurt your foot?" "Nope, just wanted to give my left calf muscles a rest." I think I did a fairly good job of answering people's questions and appreciating the sympathy, but I know I snapped at one person and feel mildly bad about that... would have felt worse it had been someone I actually liked.

I got the drains out last Thursday, probably should have blogged about that, but getting those things out was like heaven. I don't know if it was the mental or actually physical pain, but having them in my body made it difficult for me to walk, to stand up straight, and to get comfortable. The drains themselves were these eight inch white flexible contraptions that looked like a rubber covered cheese graters. When they come out, it was this really weird sliding feeling. I am pretty sure that the right one was wrapped around my bladder or something because I could feel it loop through my insides as it came out, a really weird feeling. The difference between having them in and out was night and day. I was able to sit, I was able to stand, I was even able to buckle my pants.

I have started working out!

Last Saturday, was my first debate tournament since November, and I was genuinely excited to be there. I had hopes of being chill and watching my kids compete, but that didn't happen. The tournament was at Stow High School, and if you don't know anything about Stow High School, think of your favorite airport terminal (besides CAK) and that's the building. I spent the better part of the day chasing after judges walking around in my typical speedwalk fashion. The problem with that building is that it's staircases are on the end of the hallways so going upstairs requires going down about a 100 yards to the staircase, up the stairs, 200 yards across the top floor looking for whoever and then down another flight of stairs to the 100 yard walk back to the library where I was stationed. For someone whose biggest exercise in 2 weeks had been walking up two flights of stairs, it was a lot of walking. For the last round (there are typically four), I opted to watch my "A" team debate, and after forty-five minutes of rest, I came out and felt like I had gotten hit by a MAC truck. Every muscle in my back was on fire. My mom wanted me to go to a holiday party with her that evening, but my body refused to let me off the couch. I guess I overdid it.

After recovering from that episode, I went to the gym for the first time in 3 weeks on Wednesday and walked about four miles on the treadmill. It wasn't really exciting, but it was something. Last night (Thursday), I set up the bike on the trainer and rode for an hour. I tried to work on cadence and isolated leg drills, but I found myself pretty tired, but it was good to feel like I was doing something, making forward progress.

The doctor has given me the okay to walk, to swim, to bike, but high impact stuff like running is out for the next month. I also think OTS (out of the saddle) on the bike is also out. I still have to wear a compression garment, but the tape is off the incision so I finally get to see what it looks like, not going to lie, not very good right now.

It should be said that I weighed myself after my workout on Wednesday, let's just say, BIG MISTAKE.

I also mark my daily progress by the pair of pants I can wear and if I can actually button the top button. Today's jeans are my normal nice jeans to wear to work on Fridays, haven't been in option in a month. I can button the top button but it's not comfortable. Hopefully, that will change by next Friday. It's a sign of progress as the swelling continues to go down, and I can start to see the muscles that reside in my abdomen.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Surgery #2 - The Bubble

When I first removed the girdle contraption that they put me in after the surgery, I was a big disappointed as there was this big bubble, for lack of a better word, across my belly right where the skin roll use to be. Now the folds of skin were no longer there, but this bubble was pretty significant. When I read the post op information, I realized it was most likely filled with fluid and would require being drained by the doctor. I was relieved it was common, but annoyed it was there.

I didn't see the doctor until Tuesday (6 days after surgery). My mom and I had this nice Tuesday afternoon where we did a little shopping then went to lunch. She was going to go with me to the doctor, but I decided it was unnecessary, and she could drop me off at my apartment where I would get my car and drive myself.


Well, when I got to the doctor's office, the doctor saw me right away and was surprised to see the bubble. He said that it wouldn't be a problem and that it would be best to put in the drain, and when he did, fluid started coming right out, which was what was expected, but then it stopped. I was watching pretty intently when the doctor said to me, "are you really going to watch me do this to you the whole time." Well, that was enough to trigger my flight reflex. I started getting woozy and soon enough the only thing I could see was one eye of the nurse standing in front me as everything else was blacked out. They got me to lay down before I completely passed out, but the doctor kept working on my bubble. He was poking it in various places trying to get the fluid out, but there was no luck. The doctor asked me to come in on Thursday to see progress and other options. I read in between the lines that even though he didn't say it, I was pretty sure the main option was an additional surgery.

So, when I got there Thursday, he looked at me and said, "well, I hate to tell you this, but after I saw you on Tuesday, I had my assistant reserve some time in the operating room Friday afternoon because the best way to get rid of this is for me to go in there and remove it. Ok, minimally invasive to my work schedule, would be able to work Friday morning then go to the hospital, no big deal. Then it hit me: afternoon surgery means no food, no water all morning. BIG BIG PROBLEM. This no eating no drinking thing led to what I will consider at least one of the worst 10 days of my life yesterday.

Most people who know me, know that Marie without food is not someone you want to be near. CS, who has gone to so many races and tours with me I have lost count, has a scale of my blood sugar level. Marie hasn't eaten in a while, she's an 8, she hasn't said anything for 20 minutes... we are moving to a 9. My mom often warns people to stay away if I am hungry. Apparently, I don't handle it well.

It should also be said that I was suppose to take my debaters to a two-day tournament down in Canton, and while I am not the biggest fan of 2 day tournaments, I was really excited for this one as a bunch of my former debaters were coming back to judge, and I was really looking forward to seeing and talking to them. Still plan on going down there for a couple of hours, but it's not the same.

So, Friday morning, I woke up early to try to get as much done at work as possible. The doctor did say I could have clear liquids, but that wasn't going to help my Diet Coke addiction. I was hungry, but okay until about 9:30, and that is when the caffeine withdrawl headache started. By 10:15, I was starting to feel nauseous and couldn't fathom staying at work for a couple of more hours. I got up and looked at a couple of people, and they immediately told me to go home. I logged off my computer, went to my car, and to add insult to injury, it wouldn't start. I had to go back up to my group and get someone to give me a jump so I could get home. Seriously, was my car battery dying absolutely necessary?

I got home and laid on the couch waiting for my parents to pick me up. I was beyond miserable. My head was just pounding, and I was sick to my stomach. They drove me to the hospital and as soon as I got out, I started dry heaving in the walk way, then, the two advil I had taken came up in this nasty yellow bile. Yes, my caffeine withdraw gave me a migraine.

A nice volunteer pushed me in a wheelchair to the surgery center. The doctor was fortunately running early so I had my surgery about an hour early, for which I was extremely grateful, I wanted knocked out from this agony. After putting in the IV, I have never looked forward to an IV more in my life, they gave me some drugs, and it was like magic. The headache went from an 8 on the pain scale to a 1.

When I woke up after surgery, I felt great, no headache, no nausea, no anesthesia hangover. There was a lady who was across an aisle from me, and she had had a lump removed for her breast and was very happy to find out that the lump was benign. The last time I had been in that particular hospital, it had been for my thyroid surgery, when they removed half of it, not because they thought I had cancer, but because all of the tests had come back inconclusive. I recall waking up and wanting an answer to that question so I have cancer or not. When they said no, it wasn't cancer, it was a surge of relief and joy. I was very happy for this lady even though I didn't know her because I have had a glimpse into that hell she had gone through before the surgery.

After leaving the first recovery room and going back to the second, they sat me up, and the headache and the nausea came back. After an hour or so in recovery, they let me go home, but as soon as I got in the car, I thought I was going to throw up. I didn't, opted to lay down and was able to get home without any problems.

As I laid there, I got some frustrated texts from my sister, and SO called me. He said I sounded good, but I felt like that was far from the truth as my head was still pounding. Around 7:30, my mom gave me some mashed potatoes, and that was the straw the broke the camel's back. 10 minutes after taking my first bite, I yelled at my mom that I was about to throw up. She handed me a towel, and I threw up the diet shasta, the 2 cookies I ate at the hospital, and the three bites of mashed potatoes that I had just tried to consume. Mind you, throwing up right after you had your abdomen opened is pretty much the exact opposite of what you want.

I then took a couple of Excederin PM and started feeling better. They worked wonders actually. I fell asleep and woke up with no headache. Thank you drug makers for making my day of agony go away!

Now, after scraping out my "bubble" the doctor also put in 2 drains in my abdomen which I will probably have for the next week. Every 8 hours, I am suppose to drain and log how much fluid has come out. I am totally unsure of what I am going to wear for the next week to cover them, but such is my lot in life.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Recovery - Things I Have Learned

It has been five days since my surgery, and here are some of the things I have learned about myself and my parents.

1. Percocete does not have the fun side effects of viocodin.

Back in 2008, I had a hammer toe surgery. I know that many people like Barberton Hospital just fine, but for me, that was a one and done. First of all, the nurse put me in a "one size fits all" gown. Now, I don't know how many of you are familiar with Barberton fried chicken, but let's say "one size fits all in Barberton" left me with a sheet that I tried to wrap around myself three times. Then, the anasestologist gave me enough of whatever cocktail that I literally couldn't wake up. After about three or four hours, they forcibly woke me up and basically kicked me out of recovery into my sister arms. Now, she was suppose to take me to my apartment, but since I couldn't stand up on my own, I went to parents house where I fell back asleep and didn't wake up until the next day. I recall not eating a thing that day because I felt that crappy. Then, the doctor gave me viocidin, and I spent a bulk of that particular weekend texting a guy I had dated that spring telling him he was right about me and some of my personality traits. Oh wow, was that an experience!

This time around, however, I actually had a gown that seemed to fit, even feet warmers that were my size. I did struggle with sleeping for the next two days, but I was popping those pain pills like tic tacs. Someone mentioned to me before the surgery that you will be surprised by how many movements start in the core and will cause you pain, and she was definitely right. No text messages from anyone saying, "man, how many drugs did they give you?"

2. I need to re-evaluate my 1 to 10 pain scale. When I was in the hospital, just sitting there, I told them 4, even got down to a 3. I think the problem was that I was just sitting there with an IV of drugs in me. They didn't ask, "try to move and tell us what the pain is" because that probably would have been closer to an 8.

Granted, as she was sitting there, I think my mom had to stop herself from saying, "yeah, Marie's '4'" is probably closer to most people's 8 or 9. Why, because like many people who have suffered from physical therapists, I know what my '10' is and have only reached it once. That's right, getting hit by a car, still an 8 compared to the sadistic workings of one physical therapist named Mike. Ten days after my ACL reconstruct knee surgery, I mean, the staples were still in my knee, Mike put me stomach down on a table as he wanted to measure the range of motion I had re-acquired. I think I was at 40 degrees without any help. Then, Mike started pushing on my leg to see how far it would go, 50 degrees, bearable, 60 degrees, painful, 70 degrees, the tears started flowing, 80 degrees the begging for him to stop began, 90 degrees, the screams for mercy started, 95 degrees, and he finally stopped. I recall sulking for a few days afterward because it had hurt that badly. The moral of the story was sitting there a few hours after surgery, I should probably have been a 6, but no, for me, I could only muster it a 4.

3. I come by many of my "messy" habits honestly.

While SO and his engineer particular ways are starting to rub off on me, I still have a lifetime of a little mess being acceptable to overcome.

4. Bodily functions from coughing, laughing, sneezing, and going to the bathroom hurt, enough said!

5. I am probably the person in the world who finds my mom the most funny.

Last year, my mom asked me to help her put up the artificial tree, or what my dad calls "the ornament." Sure, I said, how hard could it be? Well, when we "finished" and still had about 10 branches left over, we decided that it wasn't the job for me. The entire time, I had mental images of SO standing there watching nearly puking at the job we were doing. This year, I helped, but she kept making these comments that aren't really funny to anyone but me. For instance, we were looking through ornaments, and she said, "now where are those Rote singers." I knew which ornament she meant, but it still makes me laugh as I know she was pointing out the irony as no one in their right mind would think of our family singing as a beautiful thing. I have had to yell at my mom multiple times to remind her that laughing does indeed hurt.

6. I am easily addicted to backgammon.

I installed a backgammon app on my phone, and my eyes have literally started hurting from playing the game the entire weekend. It has to be the number's thing, I don't know, but I can't stop playing it!

7. Two days is my threshold for showering. I still love her dearly, but my first roommate in college, LM, had a tendency not showing for days, maybe even weeks at a time, as a kind of social experiment. I will say that she has/had this huge head of curly hair that she couldn't really wash everyday, but she would start to smell. I recall one Sunday evening, she asked me, "can you smell me." To which I responded, "YES!" She then said, "No you can't." That is when I started my bad habit of banging my head against the wall. (not really a habit, but I feel like doing it all the time). After two days, I had had enough, couldn't look in the mirror, nearly used a stick to take my clothes to the laundry. Ahh, I like feeling clean!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Surgery

Yesterday, I had the surgery I have wanted to have for the last seven years: I had the excess skin removed my from abdomen, and while they were at it, they removed the not so lovely lovehandles on my back.

As most people who know me know, I grew up as a bigger girl and by the time I was a sophomore in high school, I hit about 240 pounds on the scale. I believe that is the largest I ever got, and I don't think I was that heavy for very long, but I was well over 200 pounds for my entire high school career.

Throughout the rest of my time in high school, then in college, and finally when I lived in the Dominican Republic, I lost all of the excess weight and was down to about 150. I have dropped to as low as 143, when I was bumming around Australia with not enough money, and have gotten back up to 175 (when I just stopped paying attention for a few months) but for the most part, I stay around 154 during the summer and 162 in the winter.

So, all of these facts are fairly well known, but what was the final motivation to have the surgery? Well, there are about two things that have happened that convinced me it was time.

First, SO and I were at a triathlon (The Great Buckeye Challenge), and we both came in 2nd in our age group. I also came in 4th overall. Mind you, I probably would have won the race if I hadn't done 85 miles on the bike the day before, but I wasn't racing to race, I was racing to see how the run would go. Anyway, we took a picture together with our respective plaques, and there it was for all to see: a big fat roll at the bottom of my jersey. Now, standing next to SO who has about 5% body fat doesn't help, but it is so discouraging knowing how hard I work and how that fat roll never goes away. Second, I finished my second Ironman in two years and still had the same sentiment after finishing, that I am fat or at least that I will always look fat.

Being a fat girl for most of my life has created body image issues that were reinforced by this excess skin just hanging from my abdomen. Those issues have translated into confidence issues and insecurities that never seem to go away. While I know that most of those things are mental and can't be fixed by the physical, it should be easier to work through those mental issues when I am not looking at this stretched out skin

So, after dealing with all the red tape of having surgery and getting the time off work, I finally had approval for the 3oth of November and the week following off for recovery.

I had the surgery about a half mile away from my apartment, and I had to be at the Health and Wellness Center at 6:15. My initial thought was to walk there on my own, and just have SO or my mom come pick me up after the surgery. After talking about it with my aunt, she suggested this was a very bad idea. In the end, SO ended up taking me in the morning, staying throughout the surgery, then helping my mom get me into her car.

Really, the entire thing was pretty noneventful, other than having to have two anti-nausea shots after the surgery. For those athletes out there, all of the doctors and nurses were pretty amazed by my heart rate. When I got there in the morning, it was 52 and while having surgery, it was in the mid 40's. They were not alerted as the doctor informed them that I am an Ironman and am in very good shape.

While waiting for me, SO sharpened his backgammon skills by using my backgammon app on my phone. I taught him how to play on Sunday, and I am already worried that he will be better than me soon.

After recovering from the two anti-nausea shots, SO helped me into my mom's car, and I gave him a kiss and a thank you and went home. I was in that miserable state of only wanting to be asleep but I suffered through the 15 minute car ride and fell asleep as soon as I got in the lazyboy at my parents house.

I think around 4, I had some toast and was finally able to get my phone out to text some people to let them know that it went well. I fell back asleep and had some mashed potatoes around 8pm.

Getting around is a bit difficult. I walk kind of hunched over and very slowly, but I know that will continue to improve.

I took some photos on Tuesday before the surgery so I will expect to have a photo diary of how this thing goes. My total recovery is 4 weeks, so around Christmas, I will be allowed to get back to my normal workout routine. I am allowed to walk and climb stairs so I hope not to lose all muscle tone, but it's probably good for my body to get some much needed rest.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


This past Friday and Saturday were the official start to the debate tournament season. Without going into too much detail, the tournament was easily the worst I can remember, and I thought there were a few in recent history that were so bad that they couldn't be topped. I know I have made some pretty serious mistakes in tab, but gratefully, not all at one tournament. But despite all that, there were some a few bright spots.

First of all, as mentioned before, my best debater from last year graduated and is now studying at the University of Chicago. My awesome public forum team had one member graduate, with the other trying to break in a new partner. Consequently, I am looking at this year as a rebuilding year.

This tournament is a "power" tournament in that the debaters debate 6 preliminary rounds, and the top 16 advance into a single elimination bracket. Shockingly, my two junior Lincoln Douglas debaters broke into the top 16! I was stunned, but my concern that our analysis on this topic (RESOLVED: An individual has a moral obligation to assist people in need) is more advanced than anything any of us heard. While they both lost their octa rounds, breaking at this power tournament was a great accomplishment and will hopefully build some confidence for the rest of the season.

We didn't do as well in Public Forum, and I learned some lessons about how big of a bully my senior can be, but at least he did apologize to his partner after calling him worthless... I have some serious coaching to do in terms of seeing if the new partnership will work.

However, per the subject of this post, I have decided to start what I am going to call debatisms. Debatisms are things kids say in rounds because they have completely lost contact with reality and have fallen down the rabbit hole we call arguing a resolution with ideas they don't completely understand. One of the best examples I have ever heard was from a friend and my former neighbor who judged several times for me. In a round, he had a kid say, "well, that may be true for all people, but not necessarily all humans." My friend said that he had a difficult time concentrating for the rest of the round as kept wondering, "well, am I human, or am I person?"

So, my debatisms for this following week:

"It's okay to harm people if you thought it help them." I guess all of those abusive fathers who are "trying to teach their children a lesson" aren't doing anything wrong.

"You can't limit inalienable rights (life, liberty & property) because they are inalienable." We can't limit liberty, huh?

"Treating people equally is communism."

Oh, I am sure I will have some better ones, but these are the ones I either heard directly or was told by others.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Columbus Half Marathon

I have struggled with this particular race report as I feel that the race was just part of a very cosmic whole. So, where to start?

First, I think it's important to note that I did not register for this race. After Akron, I had wanted to do it, but by the time I made that decision, it had sold out. Then, acting as an opportunist, when a friend sounded like she needed to back out of the half, I offered to take her registration, and I did. She was suppose to run for a charity, Graced Haven, that works to free girls from child prostitution. I agreed it sounded like a noble cause so I agreed to run for Grace Haven, hoping that "my ironman training" would get me through, which it did, but not well.

As mentioned in my blog last week, I gave blood on Monday. I have heard others talk about the impact it has on their training, but I had never experienced it...until this time. On Tuesday, I went out for a six mile run on Sand Run and at a minute/mile slower pace than the last time I had run this trail, I was struggling. I then ran again on Friday and still felt the same strain of trying to push a pace that I could run a week ago. With these two runs, I knew that the blood donation was causing my heart to work a lot harder to get oxygen to the muscles, and I just couldn't keep a pace that was even close to acceptable, even for me.

I also wrongly assumed that SO and I would be doing this race together. His mother is in town, and he hadn't seen her, except in Madison, in about three months. He decided that he needed a weekend with his mom and while he would make sure to find me at the start and at the finish, the weekend was one to spend time with his mom.

I was kind of left scrambling and found a friend from CTC (Cleveland Tri Club) who let me crash in her hotel room, along with two of her friends, and she even went to the Panera to pick up the shirt I was suppose to wear for the race. Seriously, TH was an absolute lifesaver!

Oh, and SO and I went and had a few drinks on Friday night, why not, right?

So the race itself:

I got to the race very early, leaving the hotel around 5:30 and getting parked a little after 6, which was good as I got primo parking near the finish line. I stayed in the car for a little bit, but then I made my way to the start of the race. I got to the spot where I was suppose to meet SO and his mom and popped a squat. I sat there and played games on my phone until about 6:50. I then started to look around and realized that there was just no way I was going to find him in this crowd so I called answer. I then called his mom's phone, and he picked up. I asked him if he was there, and he said, "kind of."

SO's mother was walking with him to the start of the race and tripped over a nasty raise in the sidewalk, and she did a header into the cement. He told me that they were in an ambulance a couple of blocks away from the race start. I jogged down there, and man, she had a nasty bump on her forehead. He was resigned not to do the race so he could take his mom home. But, out of nowhere, his mom chimed in that he should do the race and that the ambulance could take her to the hospital to get checked out. He agreed with that plan, so we stripped our pre-race clothes and put them in the ambulance. I was kind of grateful because even if it was going with her to the hospital, she would be able to carry our pre-race clothes. SO had nowhere to put the car keys, so I ended up taking his mom's keys with me, and we made our way to the race start.

As we walked, we saw the ridiculous line for the porto-pots, and we decided to find ourselves a nice private alley. We did just that then made our way to the race start. Now, we were both to start in carrel B, his based on pace, mine based on either my friend's projected time or the fact that I was running for a charity.

Oh, I kind of left out something. When I got to the hotel on Saturday, TH gave me the race shirt, and it was worst fear - a medium female's white shirt. First of all, I try to avoid women's race shirts whenever possible. My torso is just too long and all of my "Fat Girl Skin" hangs or the bottom. It's not an attractive look. Then, it's also white, which means that if it were to rain or if I were to happen to sweat, a strong possibility in a half marathon, all of my fat girl skin would be put on display. Consequently, I decided to wear a long sleeve black tech shirt under the shirt to give me some protection.

As we tried to make our way into our carrel, we quickly gave up and settled into carrel B. As they announced the start of the race, SO gave me a kiss and we started the walk to the start line. I think we were about four minutes behind the gun so he spent a great deal of time weaving through people, and I was probably seeded where I should have been.

When I did the half at Columbus in 2009, it was easily my most memorable race. I PRed at the half with a 1:58. According to SO, he has never seen me look as bad as when I crossed the line in that race. Why did I feel so bad? Well, I made many classic running mistakes, the main one being going out WAY too fast. Now, I finished that race at a 9 min/mile pace. I started the first two miles at a 7:30 pace. That is the definition of too fast. I remember that race being all about pace, I kept trying to keep a strong pace, but around mile 10, the wheels came off, and I was struggling even with a 10 min mile pace.

Now fast forward to Sunday, and I was very focused on not repeating that same mistake. When I got to the mile 1 marker, I looked down at my watch and realized that going too fast today wasn't going to be a problem. Getting through this race was going to be the problem. I tried and did a pretty good job of consoling myself with the fact that my bib was under my friend's name so no need to kill myself, just keep going!

I got to mile 3, and I was hot. I had my long sleeves under my race shirt so I had a decision to make and decided that this neighborhood looked as good a spot as any and stripped down to my sports bra so I could take off the long sleeves. I tied the long sleeve shirt around my waist and got back to running. Now, it took a bit effort as I had a hand water bottle, my iphone on my arm, and my visor. So, I had to juggle those things while trying to strip and put back on my shirt.

After that, I was really just counting down the miles. I had made a new playlist for this race, and I told myself that once I got to the end of it, I could just walk the rest of the race. Now, a few times, I felt I needed to walk because I was working too hard and still feeling the effects of the blood donation. Others were just signs of mental weakness.

It was pretty windy, and when we turned to head west to go back towards the city, I started to regret taking off the long sleeve shirt. I then opted to put the shirt back on, at least over my arms because I was cold, but still enough off the white shirt to show my race number.

Around mile 10, I had to take a potty break, and it took some time, even had to wait in line. Oh well. My plan to walk when my playlist started to repeat failed as I was already in the finisher's chute when that happened.

So, I finished, and I am not about to publish the time. It's in the bottom three of half times for me. I had a faster half split in my first marathon if that tells you anything about my lack of speed.

Now, SO was doing the full marathon so I had some waiting to do. After getting my medal and some water, I kind of stood there wondering what to do. I then looked over, and I saw a lady doing everything she could to get someone's attention. I ran over there, and there was a girl who had passed out, face had turned blue. I asked if the lady wanted me to call 911, and she said yes. Since I had put the black shirt back on, it was now over my iphone case holder so I started to strip to call 911 when I saw a girl looking at the whole incident while texting. I then said to her, "ahh, do you think you could call 911?" She looked at me and said, "oh, yeah, I guess so." Thanks. By the time I left, they had some race medical staff with her. I did what I could do, but my CPR training in 8th grade is probably not sufficient to provide much more help.

I got some food and found a little place to huddle under 2 Mylar sheets as I waited for SO. I sat there and called my friend to tell her how her race went. We both kind of laughed, but she appreciated it. My friend BW sent me a few texts asking how I was feeling. I then used him to keep looking up how SO was doing so I would have an idea of when he finished. SO's mom then called me from the hospital to give me a status update and to ask if he had finished. When BW told me he had finished about 10 minutes prior to that text, I got nervous and started looking around frantically. I was so cold and got told I wasn't allowed back in the athletes area, I decided to go to the car and get clothes. SO's mom had all of our pre-race clothes so I went to the car and got sweatpants, sweatshirt and a fleece jacket. I was cold!

I made my way back to the finish and just like that found SO sitting my the letter signs they had posted (obviously for a meeting area). I was a little annoyed, I had walked by those letters 10 times before starting to panic and opted to go get clothes. I gave him my fleece, and we walked to his car to pick up his mom. His mom was waiting by the time we got there, and she didn't look bad when she had on her sunglasses. But, when she got in the car and took off the sunglasses....her eye was swollen shut. She looked pretty beat up. I felt pretty bad, but I am not that best at conveying sympathy. I suggested that she is probably just too graceful most of the time. I told her that I am really clumsy so when I trip over something, my body has had enough practice to catch itself before I actually do damage. (Granted, there are a few exceptions to this rule) They then dropped me off where I parked. We said goodbye and I made my way to my car to get out of there.

As I was driving home, SO's mom called me, which I found odd as we were barely out of the Columbus. She asked me, "honey, where is that bag that had all the clothes in it?" I told her where I thought it was, and she said it wasn't there. I then looked over and sure enough, I had inadvertently taken it with me. Luckily, they had pulled off at Polaris to get some food, and I was about a mile away from the exit and was able to meet them to give SO his clothes and apparently his phone back. Oh well. No harm no foul. I almost got a free lunch out of it, but I decided to eat one of his fries and to start heading home.

I believe this report should be the last for a while. Debate tournaments start in a few weeks so my posts should take on a different flavor. Sorry if this one is boring, but it was an uneventful race.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Random Thoughts Plus Fall-n-Leaf

Last week, I found myself in a bit of an ethical dilemma. I went to the cafeteria at work to buy a random object in order to break my ten dollar bill so I could get a diet coke from the vending machine. By rule, I refuse to buy anything actually prepared there as I have left there more than once saying, "what part of 'NO tomatoes' did you need me to repeat?" Anyway, they had one of those signs that said, "Need 1's." Here comes the dilemma, do I go ahead and get the $.64 granola bar because I needed to get change? Or, do I walk out without buying anything and not deprive them of their much needed 1's. Well, despite the immense amount of Catholic guilt running through my brain, I decided to go ahead and buy the granola bar. When I paid with my ten, the lady looked at me, looked at the sign, and then short-changed me! I didn't say anything, but learned my lesson.

On Friday, after years of talking about it, my mom and I finally went to Steak on a Stone as a way to try to re-live our Greek adventure of 2008. For three weeks in Greece, my mom and I had a ritual of splitting a Greek salad for lunch. She would eat all of the olives and tomatoes, I would eat the onions and peppers, and we would split the feta. Well, Steak on the Stone came close, but they added beets? What???? Although I didn't have a Proustian moment, transporting me back to whichever oceanview restaurant we were patronizing, it was nice to be able to reminisce about the trip and the time we had spent together. While at the restaurant, I looked over at a waiter attending the table next to us and what I saw was a guy I had dated back in 2004. Now, I lovingly refer to this guy as "rock bottom." I mean seriously, my former male roommate TS saw him one time while we were out having a couple of drinks and said to me, "You won't date me but you'll date that?" To which I responded, "you have to understand, when I lived in the DR (Dominican Republic), I went out with some of the hottest guys I have ever seen. Really, I had nowhere to go but down." His response, "Yeah, but you have nowhere to go but up either."

As anyone who knows my sisters knows, she is a hot air balloon pilot. Back in March, I had asked my sister to donate a hot air balloon ride for my friend who is trying to raise funds for RAAM. Saturday evening was the night she was taking up the lady who had won the ride in that silent auction. I have to admit that I don't crew (help putting the balloon up, following it, then helping back it back up) all that often, but when she asked, I felt compelled to do so. It was a beautiful night, and my sister did her typical wonderful job as a pilot. I wish my sister could get a full time job as a pilot or with hot air ballooning as it is truly her passion in life. Anyway, it was a beautiful night and a great ride for the passenger. I took some photos (because that's what I do). Really, nothing truly funny happened, at least not on the ground. My sister's eye's might have gotten a little wide when this older lady pulled out a sandwich bag and asked if she could sprinkle some of her husband's ashes as they flew.

Then came Sunday. Every year that I have been cycling (I think), I have done this ride: Fall-n-Leaf, a hilly ride out of Bellville, just south of Mansfield, Ohio. DM, DR, and DP are three of my favorite guys to ride with because they just know how to have fun! My only concern about riding with these guys is that, one day, I will fall off my bike from laughing too hard. Before we even got on the bikes, DR made a comment, "yeah, DM is taking a while, still needs to put on his lipstick." Now, DM is often referred to as Nancy as he absolutely refuses to be cold. I mean, the temperature was in the 50's when we started, and he was wearing tights, arm warmers, toe covers, and a jacket. Other "men" were wearing shorts and a jersey. Anyway, DM had promised me a slow ride as DP is particularly slow and hasn't been riding much this year. I told them I had no problem slowing down and did a pretty good job of riding for the joy of being out on an absolutely beautiful day and not feeling the need to try to race people passing me. When I did get ahead, I would stop and take photos, trying to capture the absolute beauty Mid-Ohio was offering. I did catch myself racing a few guys as I passed a guy on a steeper climb, and then he raced ahead of me. Well, I then dropped down into aero and passed him. He stayed on my wheel...until we hit another climb and then I stood up and left him behind. But, just to show him I wasn't trying to be mean, I stopped and took some more photos.

It should be said that if you ride to lose weight, don't do this ride! They had it all: dozens of homemade cookies, pulled chicken sandwiches, bagels, gatorade, chips, I mean, it was almost too much. They also had volunteers at every even slightly dangerous intersection. Between the company, the food, and the scenery, I just couldn't ask for a better day on a bike. Sometimes, we triathletes and even endurance cyclists get caught up in speed, and this ride was for the joy of cycling, and it really was!

So, today was back to reality Monday. Because I am the "recessive" child, I get calls monthly if not weekly if it's been too long between blood donations as my O+ blood is in high demand. Back in July, they called, and I told them that I couldn't donate until after Ironman Wisconsin. They said okay and marked the end of September as my next available donation time. On Friday, I got a phone call from the Red Cross asking me to donate and quickly scheduling me an appointment. When I first started to donate, I would often go as the same time as my dad and a few times with my sister. As sad as this is to admit, yes, we did race, and I typically won. I believe my fastest time is four minutes. Those who know me know I am clumsy, and I believe that my body just knows how to bleed. Anyway, today, it took me about 5 minutes to fill my bag, and as I left, the tech suggested I use the drive-thru the next time I donate.

Then, this evening, I was at the gym, and I decided to do some ab work on the pull up bar. By the pull up bar is an adjustable step. There was a guy working in with me who is a guy who I kind of know from playing basketball. Without touching the step, the pin holding the one side up just fell out. The guy starts to laugh, "having one of those days, huh?" I just said, "With me, it's always one of those days." While distracted by the guy's comment, I looked down and noticed that, while replacing the pin back into the leg of the step, I managed to tangle my earbuds' (that were still in my ear) cord between the pin and the step. The guy starts laughing a little harder as I untangle myself from step. Oh well...why look suave when you can look like an absolute idiot!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Columbus Fall Challenge

I have heard about this ride for several years now. I heard it is hard, but didn't give it much thought. I ride in the valley, right? I did lots of climbing in Wisconsin, right? So, when SO mentioned doing this ride and how I could get over 200 of my 248 more miles to get to 3,000 for the season, I said, "Sure, why not?" The ease with which I made the decision to do this ride and the pains I went through to stay oblivous to the difficulty of it frighten me.

Now, I was really struggling with which bike to take. The decision that I still regret making is that I decided to take the tri bike, the kestrel, because it's more comfortable and is lighter. I should have taken the specialized even though it's heavier because it has a granny gear. Now, for those of you who don't know much about bikes, a granny is a very small ring that gets it's name from the saying, "with that ring, even granny can ride up the hill." Also, the tri bike has a more aggressive position for speed, not for climbing, which is the main reason why my legs were so badly annihilated.

SO and I met up after work for the drive down to Columbus. The ride started Saturday morning out of a little town southwest of Columbus called Sugar Grove. Since there was nothing in Sugar Grove, we stayed by the Columbus airport Friday night. As we drove down to Columbus, I asked the typical question: what hotel are we staying in tonight? Now, last October, he and I, along with a friend TC did a 200k brevet that started on the east side of Columbus, and SO booked the 2nd crappiest hotel I have ever stayed in near Columbus - a Motel 6. He said he made the reservation before I decided to go so when he said, "Econolodge," I nearly started crying....
Back in 2008, CS and I started our tradition of doing TOSRV together in May. I told her I would make a reservation and did so at an Econolodge on the east side of Columbus. The picture on the website looked fine, but when we got there, it was the most disgusting hotel I had ever seen in the USA in my life. I am pretty sure there were 3 or 4 prostitutes hanging out in the lobby. I am not lying about this fact, but there were pubic hairs on the sink. CS, who is known for her ability to sleep in, woke up before the alarm and nearly ran out of the hotel at 5:30. Rather than filling our water bottles in that room, we opted to ride the first 28ish miles without any water. It was that disgusting that we didn't trust the water.
I don't think I had ever told SO that story and since he has never... lied to me, I didn't question it and spent the next hour in the car absolutely pouting as I was absolutely convincd we would be spending the night in the same disgusting Econolodge.

When we got to Columbus, SO's son had called, and while he was on the phone, he was having a difficult time trying to find the hotel, talk to his son, and drive the car, so he threw his reservation papers at me and told me to find how to get there. I looked at the sheet and what the F#$@ did I see, TownPlace Marriott??? What??? I just spent the last hour depressed, and for the first time ever, he lied to me??? Was I relieved, yes, but I was uncomfortable with how easily dupped I was and what were the chances that he randomly picked an Econolodge as the crappy hotel chain?

I should note that SO's one reservation about me coming for the weekend is my tendency to get frustrated when he drops me (for non-cyclistst getting dropped is getting left behind). I promised him that I wouldn't get mad at him, and for the most part, kept that promise.

We started the ride at 8am with a slight drizzle and it being in the mid-40's, getting colder as the day continued. The first turn was onto road called Savage Hill. SO looked at me and said, "Savage Hill, not a good sign." Well, within the first hour, there were three hills with 15% plus grades. SO slowed down, but within 20 minutes, I realized 1) I had the wrong bike and 2) there is no way SO could go slow enough for me to keep up.

After 1:46, I made it to the first rest stop. I was grateful to see SO's bike, and an indoor rest stop. I had some M&M's and a cookie and got back on the road with SO after a little bit. We stayed together for about an hour, I was proud of that, but he ended up slowly but surely making his way ahead of me. The next section really foreshadowed how the ride would go, climb up to a spot where you thought the road couldn't go any higher and it was dip a little bit so it could climb back up again. It was lots and lots of climbing, but not the steep SOB's in the first section. I became like Pavlov's dog, cringing when I saw the road curve.

I got to lunch and was so happy to see SO. I was cold and wet and kind of miserable. At lunch, this nice older couple riding a tandem kind of prepped me for the rest of the ride. The woman told me that after lunch, there was a very steep climb out of the town we were in -- Malta. SO convinced me to try to ride with the group of guys he had met, but we hit the first climb, and it was a wall. It was then that I started to realize I no longer wanted to be riding. I finally made it up that hill, stopping a couple of times to give my legs a rest and going back at it. After a bit, the ride followed along the Muskingham river. At this point in the ride, it really worried me that we were next to water because that meant we had to climb back out of there. Sure enough, climbing out of the riverbed, I started to break. I hit a hill and had to stop and lots of people passed and asked if I was okay, and I would say, kind of, but my legs just felt destroyed, I honestly felt like my legs weren't strong enough to keep going.

Now, I happened to kind of go back and forth with a guy who saw me at lunch and that I was wearing my Ironman Louisville jersey, and he told me that he had done Louisville this year. He was being a really nice guy, trying to engage me in conversation, but it was pretty obvious to him I was in pain. He asked me if I wanted him to call anyone, but I said no, that my boyfriend was waiting for me at the reststop, and I needed to make it there.

I also felt pretty horrible because I knew I was going super slowly. I got there, and SO was very happy to see me, mainly because he was so cold that he was shaking. He saw me, and he agreed it was time for my ride to be over. I was absolutely sobbing, and he let me cry on his shoulder until I got myself under control. I got a ride from a man named Bob, who started telling me about the training the organization puts on for this ride and that most people who do this ride train for it starting in May. He was a very cool older guy, told me about his leather saddle, his use of cranberry concentrate for nutrition, and lots of the rides he helps organize.

It was kind of lucky that I sagged as I was able to get us a prime spot in the aerobic's room at the YMCA. We had lots of plugs and next to the heater. I also snagged a newspaper for our shoes so they would be relatively dry for the morning. I set up my air mattress and SO's pads and sleeping bag before heading for a wonderfully hot shower. When I got out, SO got there and was thrilled with the spot I had picked out and got ready to head out on the town of Marietta.

As an aside, I had contemplated calling my dad to see if he would bring me my road bike, but I decided against it, mainly because I knew he would, and I didn't think he should have to suffer for my bad decision.

We opted for a hole in the wall Mexican restaurant. Margaritas sounded really good so we both ordered one, and I ordered another. We then went to a bar to watch Wisconsin kick the crap out of Nebraska. The three drinks we both had kind of lightened the mood so we started laughing about the insanity of the day's ride.

Day 1 had 8,800 feet of climbing.

Now, I started Sunday with this idea that I wouldn't ride the whole thing, that I would make the goal of riding to the lunch stop. We had breakfast at the Marietta college union. We sat with a woman who was good friends with a good friend of ours EO, and we decided to join forces to him EO a hard time about not doing the ride.

SO rode with me almost the whole way to the first rest stop. Now, it was dry and the sun was out, but we had a 10-20 mph headwind that just got stronger throughout the day. I made it to the first rest stop in a little over 2 hours and was thrilled...I could stop and still have spent a good amount of time on the bike. But...I just couldn't pull the trigger and kept riding. The weird thing was that I felt completely wasted, but as wasted as I felt, I was still riding past people, not many, but a few here and there, usually passing them on a hill. Mind you, this ride was nearly all uphill so it was hard to pass anyone on anything other than an uphill. It made me realize that as bad as I was feeling, that most of it was mental as everyone was in the same physical state.

When I got to Malta, I started to panic...I remembered the wall we had to ride after lunch the day before, and sure enough, we had another one for Sunday. This hill hurt. What made it even worse was that after the hill that had grades approaching 20% that lasted for a good mile or two, I turned and had short climb after short climb. I honestly felt like I climbed for 20 miles and only barely recall descending down to lunch. There was never a chance for recovery. It was in this stretch that my legs started shaking.

I made it to lunch and was frustrated. SO unintentionally ticked me off, and he kind of rushed me out of the lunch stop. There was an attempt to create a pace line, and I was in a bad mood and just quickly decided to drop off the line. After about 10 miles, and for the fourth time that day, my chain fell off. Just at that point, a ride mechanic drove by and asked if I needed help. He put my bike up and adjusted my front derailler and asked if I needed anything else, and I said, "yeah, a ride." He put my bike in the back and drove me to the final rest stop, and I am really glad I did because SO was seriously far ahead of me, and I wasn't sad that I missed one bitch of a climb and another not easy hill. The mechanic told me about his bike shop, and he gave me some recommendations if I were ever to pull the trigger on a new road bike, but he definitely agreed that the tri bike wasn't a wise decision for this particular ride.

From the last stop, there was 12.5 miles to go to Sugar Grove. The mechanic said he had no problem giving me a ride, but he wanted to hang out to see if anyone needed help. SO got there relatively soon after I arrived, which is pathetic as I easily sagged about 8 miles. At this rest stop, I soon discovered the answer to something that had confused both of us...people were taking shortcuts! I suddenly didn't feel that bad about sagging for a few miles. I got my bike out of the car and decided to ride the last part, figuring it would be faster to ride than wait for the mechanic.

I had been warned, and sure enough, one absolutely nasty climb waited for us on this section. It was easily the steepest climb of the weekend. The max grade was 25% for the day, and I am sure it was on this hill, but the kicker was that once you got to the top, the road turned and kept going up hill. It blew, but wasn't as bad as it could have been, knowing it was the last one. Getting back to the car was a site for sore eyes.

Day 2 elevation profile, 7,300 feet of climbing with 24.9% max grade.

So, I ended up riding 167 of the 210 miles of this ride. Unforunately, it means that someday, I will have to complete this ride. Also, they had showers at the gym, but apparently only the men were privy to the hot water. I had to run under cold water than try to rinse off without actually standing under the water. After riding in 40 degree weather for 2 days, a cold shower wasn't exactly what I had in mind. Now that I think about it, it makes sense...on the way home, SO was super hot, and I was nearly shivering. He kept holding my hand just to try to try to cool off.

All weekend, I kept thinking about that riddle, what is heavier: a pound of feathers or a pound of rocks? Neither, they both weigh a pound. However, if you ask the question, which would you rather be hit by, a pound of feathers or a pound of rocks, I think most people would pick the feathers. This ride was definitely a pound of rocks.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Akron Marathon - A History

Today was the Akron RoadRunner Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5 Person Relay, and I ran the the half marathon. This year will mark my fifth time participating in the event.

In 2006, I was the first leg of a 5 person relay, compiled of people from my gym. We didn't really know each other all that well, but it was one of those, we need another runner, want to join us, ergo our team name, Hey Can you Run? Sure, why not, right? To be honest, this was the first 10k I had ever done and started my training for my first full marathon in 2007 in Birmingham in February. I think I ran it in about 58:33 minutes, which was faster than I had expected.

In 2007, I also did the first leg for a 5 person relay composed of the wonderful women I use to run with on Sunday mornings while training for my marathon. This year was probably the most entertaining as I was still in physical therapy from my accident that spring, and my physical therapist had let me do a sprint triathlon the week before, but made me promise not to run after that. My hips were very unstable and running just compounded the problem. I knew she was doing the half marathon, but there are thousands of runners at the start, what are the chances she would see me? Apparently, pretty good as around mile 2, I felt a tap on my shoulder, and it was her giving me the, "Gotcha!" look. Yes I disobeyed one of the few women who was habitually making me cry, and she definitely did the week after that marathon, no mercy that week! In 2007, I also volunteered and was given the assignment to stand at the turn into the stadium to direct runners down the alley to the finish. Some might say I have a kind of a louder voice, and someone walking on a bridge over near where I was standing commented, "Man, they got the right girl for that job." My time: 56:46

In 2008, I was recovering from my hammer toe surgery and did not participate. I think the pin had been removed from my toe by that point, but I was in no condition to run.

In 2009, after two years of struggling to run really at all, I did the half marathon. I had met and started dating SO that summer, and we started doing 2 mile bricks after our bike rides together. While doing these bricks, he would start talking about how I would feel 2 miles into the run of an ironman, I needed to get use to this feeling. Then, one random Saturday, I got up and decided to go running. I think I ran 8 or 9 miles. I literally hadn't run further than 7 miles since the Birmingham marathon in February of 2007. That was it, I was doing the half marathon. I cried a lot during this training (the month of training I did for it) because I was so happy that even if it had taken 2 years and 2 surgeries, I was recovered from the accident and could run again. I finished in 1:59:39 even after a short potty break at mile 10. What I would do to have that speed back!

In 2010, I decided to do the full for one really dumb reason: it was free! As an employee of FirstEnergy, our corporation has so many free slots, and I was hooked up with one of them. The guy in charge of it had commented that only a month after ironman, I should just do the half, but then a coworker convinced me to do the full, it's free, why not get the jacket? Sold! It was super slow, and I had a super upset stomach, but I finished...the time, over 5 hours, let's leave it at that. I will say that like in Wisconsin, I spent a significant portion of time in the port-o-pots that day. There were few things I enjoyed about this race, but at the end, CS, who had gone with me to Louisville, was riding her bike, and she rode me in for the last mile of the run. My stomach had finally calmed down so I was able to run. While it wasn't the most fun I have ever had, I really do like the jacket!

So, this year, only two weeks after Ironman Wisconsin, I opted to do only the half for the same reason - it was free. A friend of mine from high school asked me if I would run with her, and I warned her that I would be slow. Now, this friend (RB) and I have only recently re-connected. As many people know, I went to a different high school from where I grew up. Entering a new high school as a girl weighing over 200 lbs as a freshman, I had it a little tough. RB is and always has been super gorgeous, athletic, and popular, and she helped me fit in when I physically and emotionally did not. I like to say that I like to surround myself with wonderful people who are shiny stars. She definitely fits that mold! She has always taken life by the horns. Doing this race together was pretty cool, and hopefully, I don't look too horrible in our finisher photo.

As a sidebar, for the second year in a row, the half marathon shirts have been ugly neon. Why? Why? Why?

Now, SO also did the half and threatened that he would leave if I didn't finish within 2 hours. He and I met up before the race, he washed a shirt (the giveaway from the Crocker Park 5 miler) purely so I could throw it away when I got too warm. I introduced him to my high school friend, but then we went to seed ourselves accordingly. RB and I did a pretty good job of running together, I lost her on my second bathroom break (damn you stomach!!!!), but she finished only a minute and half ahead ahead of me. Looking at the garmin, my garmin had a 9:38 average and a 9:22 moving average, those bathroom breaks cost me a lot! (Race time: 2:06:20). Sure enough, SO was there when I finished, even if he finished over 30 minutes ahead of me... 1:35:02, smoking!

My favorite part of the race: many people know that I am kind of addicted to Diet Coke. I am working on the addiction, and I didn't drink any before the race today. When I finished, like I do after every race, I crave a diet coke. When SO and I did the half marathon at the Columbus Marathon back in '09, he didn't stop at the gas station I had requested for a Diet Coke because "I could get one at the hotel." Sure enough, EVERY vending machine in the hotel was either Out of Order or out of Diet Pepsi (no coke). It was a rough morning for me...and something I have brought up a time or two. Well, he has learned his lesson and put a 5 dollar bill in his pocket so he could buy me a diet coke for after the race. It was super sweet that he wanted "to win some brownie points" with me, like he needs any!

Least favorite part of the race: Like most people, there are a few people on this planet that I would prefer never to see ever EVER again, two of them being the managers at Progressive who made my life a living hell. Ironically, I was talking to someone I work with at FirstEnergy, when I saw one of them walking by, and I knew that there was no way that he wouldn't see me. Sure enough, he saw me, recognized me and said hi. It wasn't the horror that I imagined, but as I was driving to breakfast, I still found myself on the phone venting to my mother about this man and his boss and how horrible they had made my life. I complain about my job, but it was a good reminder that even though I do miss some people from Progressive, the frequency of the nightmares has reduced significantly since I left, and I really am better off with FirstEnergy.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The rest of the story

This morning as I decided to cut off the magical Ironman wristband, I decided to write a couple of the odds and ends that made last weekend unique. I have decided to leave a couple stories out so as not to embarrass anyone.

1. Driving on the Ohio Turnpike between I-71 and Lorain Rd, I saw a semi-truck with mudflaps with Bucky the Badger on was like a sign from the Ironman gods!

2. I stopped at a Speedway in North Ridgeville/Avon, and I heard a male manager say to his female coworker (mind you these people are at least in their 40's), "I think I am going to go to the potty." What??? Who says that to a coworker? In public?

I have to add that SO found this so humorous that he started adopting it and announced his potty intentions all weekend long.

3. As were were driving to Madison, we passed a sign for I-69, which references a joke I told the night we met back in '09. I then looked over to the side of the road saw a pasture with two cows humping (yes, I know one was a bull, but in my neck of the woods, they keep the bulls separate from the cows). It's like the cows were advertisements for the interstate!

4. SO and I were kind of in a hurry to get through registration, something had come up, and we needed to get through it quickly. Noticing our rushed demeanor, a lady turned to him and asked, "Are you racing me to get through registration?" His response, ""

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Race Report - Ironman Wisconsin

I woke up at 3am, 45 minutes before the alarm. SO got out of bed first as he said he didn’t really sleep at all. We got our water bottles, wetsuits, and everything else ready to go and made our way to the race at 4:30 with his mom driving us. We dropped our special needs bags off then headed to transition, getting there about 3 minutes after it opened. I stopped to see Mentor as I had to wait for SO to finish with the tire pump. I started getting teary-eyed so I gave him a hug and started the walk to SO’s spot in transition. I made the very very long walk to my bike, put air in the tires, a couple of dollars in the bento box (just in case), and water bottles in the cages. His mom then took a before photo, and we headed to the swim start. It was cool so we started getting ready for the swim around 5:30, knowing that swim opened at 6:20, and we didn’t want to be on land when the race started.

We got in the water around 6:30 and headed to the start line around 6:40. The water was cold, and we spent about 20 minutes treading water before the horn went off. A couple of minutes before the horn, he gave me a kiss and wished me luck. We were in a good spot (we thought), towards the side and in front, but after 30 seconds, I was in the most brutal swim I have ever experienced. I got kicked in the face at least 8 times, my goggles kicked off 4 times. I struggled with people on both sides of me trying to swim over top of me, leaving me nowhere to go but under. Then, about ¾ of the way through the swim, my left calf cramped, and I couldn’t move my foot. I had to stop for a minute or two and pull on my foot to try to loosen the cramp. Both SO and I had this problem, so we think it’s a combo of the treading water and putting on our wetsuits too early. At no time was I able to get a comfortable rhythm and was just sick of getting kicked, elbowed, slapped, and just touched. I saw the clock as I got out of the water and wasn’t pleased, 1:13:51, but was so happy to get out of the water that it didn’t bother me.

After getting my wetsuit stripped, which required two people to get it off my “flippers.” I made my way around and around the people-lined helix to the top to the bike transition room. I was surprised by how many women were already there, but I didn’t have a great swim, so I am not sure what I expected…everyone else also to have a bad swim too? Transition went smoothly. The 8:14 was just a result of the 4 minute jog up the helix.

The bike started off fine, although my stomach hurt, probably from swallowing too much water in the dunkfest that was the swim. The course is 16 miles out, a 40 mile loop that you do twice and then back. Getting out to the loop was rolling, but definitely more up than down so I started seeing the average drop, but having pre-ridden the course, I was confident that the lack of wind I was feeling would enable that average to start climbing back up. The first loop was just awesome with no wind and warm, not hot, temps and no humidity. My strategy for the bike was to keep cadence around 90, spin up every hill until I stood up, then making sure I had enough resistance on the pedals to make the riding smooth. The first climb is about 18ish miles into the loop, and it was lined with people. It was pretty cool, and I made quick work of it. Another racer actually came up later to tell me how well I rode the climb, which is always nice to hear. After a pretty sweet descent and a few more ups and downs, I got to the second climb. About half way up, I turned the corner and there they were, just as advertised: hundreds of people lining this country hill cheering on the cyclists. It was an unbelievable rush of adrenaline! Tons of people telling me, “Marie, you are looking great! Take this hill!” Then, a mile down the road after a short descent, you see the next short steep hill lined with people. Hundreds of more people on this hill cheering with the same adrenaline-rushing encouragement. At one point, I heard someone say, “look at this girl from Cleveland climb, she is doing awesome!” After that hill there is another nice long descent to the longest steepest climb on the course, referred to as “the Bitch.” Once again, hundreds more people were on this hill, running up the hill with the cyclists. It was freakin’ unbelievable! After the steep portion, you turn the corner, and it’s another half mile of false flat. At the top of the false flat was a guy with a sign, “Smile if you peed yourself today!” I couldn’t help but smile! I just did four pretty significant climbs, and they were my favorite parts of the course???? After the first loop, my average was 18mph. I started absolutely coasting, averaging 24-25 mph for a while as I rode through the crowds in Verona to start my second lap of the loop. The 25 mph started to worry me as I knew the wind that is to your back in one direction is in your face in another. When I had pre-ridden this course, I knew that the tell-tale sign of how this ride was going was going to come from the first little hill on the loop. It was right after special needs, and I knew how horrible I felt on the pre-ride, so I rode the course keeping that feeling in mind. I needed to feel good, and thankfully, I did. But, then the false flats and headwind of the first portion of the loop joined forces to slow the average down significantly. After about 20 miles, my average dropped to 17.3 from 18, but then I got to Mt. Herob, up the first hill and knew that the rest of the course should go faster.

I haven’t really mentioned it because it didn’t really affect me on the bike, but my nutrition was just crap. My stomach really hurt so I was really trying to force the enduralytes down. I was struggling to drink the hammer sustained energy so I kind of relied on the PB sandwich squares I had as a backup. I wasn’t getting enough in, but I didn’t want to make myself sick by forcing the issue. But, once I got back into Mt. Herob, I dumped some water into my powder bottle and went back to the hammer. (I had a bottle on the back that just had the powder with no water). I also went through probably 140 ounces of water on the bike. I just couldn’t drink enough and didn’t need to pee so I knew I wasn’t over-hydrating.

As I approached the last three hills, I wondered if the people would still be there. At first, it appeared that the people had made their way back to Madison, but they were still there! The people were a little drunker, but that just made them more spirited! I don’t think I am giving these crowds justice, it’s like an adrenaline shot to the legs! My climbing form was starting to break, but the support really helped. I saw the tents on the last climb as I made my approach, and I shifted into the little ring and dropped by chain. I reacted too slowly, so I had to stop and fix it. While it only took 30 seconds, the lost of momentum kind of sucked, but knowing this hill was still lined with people helped lift my spirits. I got to the top and sure enough, the guy with the “Smile if you peed” sign was still there, and he looked at me and said, “come on, let’s see that smile again!” I had to laugh, particularly since I knew the hard part was over, the rest of the ride would go quickly. At this point, I believe my average was around 17.3. I spent the rest of the ride working to move that average up. I hit 17.4 pretty shortly into the ride back to Madison. As expected, the ride back was fast, I averaged nearly 20 mph for the last 18 miles. With about 5 miles left, the average hit 17.5! Sweet! I was pumped, but I kept working because I knew that the ride up the helix was going to kill the improvement I had just made. I got off the bike with a time of 6:27:10, slower than Louisville but faster than I had expected.

I have to be honest, while fighting to improve my average, I was trying to convince myself I could live with not finishing this race. Then, I got to transition, and it’s another shot of adrenaline, the Monona Terrace is still lined with people! Seriously, I think IM Moo must be the biggest party of the year in that town because there were thousands upon thousands of people lining this run course. As I left transition, I heard, “Marie! You are doing great!” Nothing new, right? Except that voice belonged to my mom! I wished I would have seen her earlier, but I waved and made my way to the port-o-pots. I got in there and realized that I forgot to take off the cycling shorts that I had pulled over the tri shorts. After taking care of business, I asked one of the sunscreen volunteers if she could take them into my bag. She saw my number and said no problem. (They were there when I got my bag back so I am grateful to that volunteer!). I took a look at the clock when I left, and I swear it said 8:03 for the race time.

It took my watch a couple of minutes to find the satellite (0.2 miles) so I lost a little info, but I was running well at first, but I knew my stomach wasn’t settling. The bad stomach coupled with self-doubt, and I struggled with this run mentally from the get-go. I think I saw SO about 3 miles-4 miles into the run, he on mile 11 or 12. It was good to see him, but neither one of us is about to take the time to chat so there was a smile and a hi and that was about it. After about an hour, I tried to go 6 min run, 4 min walk, but it was hard to do because the fan’s were so uplifting that I would find myself running more than I expected, which isn’t a bad thing, but I was really having stomach issues developing. As I reached the final turn around on the loop, my stomach problems let me know they weren’t going away, stopping in a port-o-pot for about the 4th time. I was starting to wonder if SO would finish as I was making the turn for the 2nd loop. On one hand, I wanted to see him finish and thought that would be cool, but on the other hand, I really didn’t want to be lapped. I was also looking for Mentor, but had hoped I had missed him on the portion of the course that strays from the back portion. But, I saw him as I approached mile 12 and he mile 2. He weaved his way over to me to show me that he had crashed on the bike. I was heartbroken, and I asked if he was going to finish, and he said, “well, yeah.” Ok, Mentor was good. As I approached the turnaround, I kept looking over my shoulder and no SO. I made the turn and no SO. I didn’t want to miss him, but I had to hit the port-o-pot for what, the 5th or 6th time. I got out and my stomach just didn’t feel any better. I hadn’t been able to eat much so I was low on energy, but I didn’t want to eat because my stomach hurt so badly. Then, with about a mile or so to go for him, I saw SO finishing his 2nd loop. I was at about mile 14 or 15. He gave me a weak high five and kept going. It should be said that, while racing, SO isn’t chatty…he’s just too focused, but I wanted/needed to see him. Just seeing him made me more confident I would get through it. I felt bad that he wasn’t going to make his goal of sub 11 hours, but I felt better about my own performance. After seeing him, I knew what was in store, but from hour 3 to 4, I was just crap, much like Louisville. Mind you, I had gone about 15 miles at that point and had consumed maybe 300 calories on the run…let’s just say, nowhere near enough. In that hour, I would try to run for even a minute, and I would suddenly have that panicky feeling as I searched for a port-o-pot. Eventually, I started talking to an older guy, and he suggested that I sip coke and chicken broth. At that point, I was willing to try anything. At the next water stop, I double fisted it and slowly but surely feeling better. I started to pick up the pace a little bit and was at mile 18 right about 4 hours into my run.

For those of you who don’t know me all that well, I am a numbers freak. On the bike, I was trying to figure out what the .1 improvement in pace was going to translate into in terms of time difference from my time in Louisville. So, right around 4 hours, I reached mile 18. So, I knew the following: when I had looked at the clock in transition, it said 8:03. I had lost 0.2 miles while my watch found satellites so I figured I had to finish this course before 5:55 on my watch, which gave me 115 or 11.5 10 minute segments to finish faster than Louisville. Because I wanted to make it, I told myself I had to get it done in 11 or 110 minutes. So, I started doing 5 on, 5 off, and I was figuring out that I was going about 0.75 every 10 minutes. I saw Mentor still on his first lap heading to the final out portion of the loop, and he looked at me surprised I wasn’t finished yet, and I told him I was hurting, but he kept going as did I. It didn’t matter if I hit a water stop or an uphill or a downhill, if I was suppose to be running, dang it, I was running. If I needed to stop for some chicken broth, I made myself pay back the running time I missed. I needed to get through as much of that course as possible in that 5th hour, and I found myself with about 3.7 miles left for the last 50 minutes. It was a game, could I get more than I got in the last 10 minutes? In the last 10 minutes, I went 0.75 miles, can I go 0.77 this 10 minutes? When I reached the final turn around, I was pumped, I knew I had it in me. But, there was a little hiccup. I knew the 25 mile mark was up the street and around the corner, 0.15 miles up the road when someone kept saying, “you are doing great, only 1.6 miles left!” What??? I looked over and said to someone, how do we have 1.6 when the 25 is right around the corner, and she said that she had no idea. So, I added the extra .25 into my calculations and knew I couldn’t take it easy, must get there, but then the crowds start getting thicker and the echoes of Mike Reilly’s voice got clearer, and I knew I was almost there. The last half mile is nearly all uphill, which stunk, but then the the finish shoot is a gradual descent so when I got to the top of that, I started running again! I saw the clock and was in shock…13:47??? What? My math was wrong? Huh? I crossed the line at 13:49:18.

My catcher had it easy this year, no attempt to collapse. He got me a diet pepsi, my medal, my shirt, and my hat. I got my picture and panicked as I knew I hadn’t pre-arranged a meeting place, but somehow I heard SO’s voice above the rest, and he grabbed me. I hugged him for a long time, not wanting to let go. Where were my parents? They had miscalculated my finish and missed it!!!! I used his mom’s phone to call them, how I remembered their cell phone numbers at that moment, I have no clue, but they didn’t answer. I then called my sister and asked her to call their phones to let them know I finished. SO went out searching and found them. They were sad to miss the finish, but they were so proud of me. SO’s mom and my parents kept saying what a great time they had had and that they wanted to us to do it again next year. We were both pretty adamant with the “NO!!!” answer we provided. We got a few group photos, but I wanted to go back to the hotel. I wanted a Diet Coke and cookies. One of SO’s college friends had come to watch so he wanted to chat for a while. I told him not to rush, and that I will just have my parents take me back. Because he knows me, my dad had an ice cold Diet Coke waiting for me in a cooler in the car along with the Double stuffed EL Fudges that I had requested. I was hurting, but I felt good, and while not the race time I wanted, I finished and I improved. SO finished in 11:20:33, Mentor 16:26:36. By the way, Mentor just had some scraps, bumps and bruises from the crash, in a few days, he’ll be fine.

Oh, and that adamant no is now a “I need to take a year to work on my running.”

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Forward Progress - the Red Arrows

I was going to right this rant about how I hate taper week, mainly for the mental games my body plays, but that would violate my mantra of positive thoughts that I must maintain this weekend. So, instead, I thought I would tell a slightly embarrassing story from Tuesday night...

Tuesday is my late day at work, meaning, I am required to stay until at least 5:30 in case any deals come in that require manual overrides. The 5:30 exit time bugged me as I had to get a 2 hour ride in that evening, and the sun just keeps setting earlier and earlier. Per usual, a sales person comes over to tell me that a "big customer" is signing a deal, the deal expires today so just a heads up, "you might have to stay later." Ordinarily, I get it that staying past 5:30 is part of the job, but not that day, I just didn't have time for it. This particular sales person tried to make me feel better by saying, "I know, I have class tonight so we are in the same boat." No we aren't! You get paid commission on that deal, I get paid the same amount whether you sign that deal or not! Anyway, I was able to do what I needed to do to get out the door at 5:30, but the near panic of not getting out of work on time spilled into my workout.

So, my ride was dreadful. It was super windy, and I have apparently lost my rain jacket so instead of wearing it on the ride, I had to wear 2 long sleeve shirts on top of my jersey. Despite it being a mainly flat ride, I was just not comfortable in my head, I was shifting gears like an insane person, unable to find the right gear to put forth the effort that I could hear my Mentor telling me I should be putting forth. I love Mentor, but sometimes, he's too cautious, and I think that hearing is overly-cautious voice in my head just made this workout totally blow. I would say, oh well, except I dropped my chain TWICE. WTF??? I know it takes about 30 seconds to flip back on, but I don't want that Sunday, and now it's in my head.

Then, near the end of my ride I had an incident with a driver. After being hit by a car in 2007 and then a couple really bad incidents last year, I have tried to adopt the mantra of just smiling and waving when I have an incident with a driver, but not Tuesday, not in the mental state I was in that evening. To set this up, I was riding on a road in the national park. It was about 7:30 and starting too dark to be comfortable on the road. There were NO cars anywhere near me when I heard someone lay on his horn from a quarter mile back. I was riding about a foot or two in the lane because there was debris on the side and because a friend of mine told me that he read an article that it's safer to ride in the road because drivers are more likely to see you. With that said, this guy continues to lay on his horn then flicks me off when he gets significantly ahead of me. It bothered me mainly because it had nothing to do with me. I didn't slow him down, he didn't get caught behind me unable to pass because of cars coming the other direction, no, the person just apparently hates cyclists. I try to tell myself that something must really be wrong with their lives if seeing a cyclist on the road is more than someone can handle, but I just didn't have that strength in me. I screamed at the car as I considered chasing after it, "WHAT THE HELL DID I DO?"

I tell that long winded story to tell this one. I got back to my car and decided to stop at a gas station to get a recovery drink before making my way home. On the way home, it was now dark, I was driving on Sand Run parkway, where I have been saved by a nice ranger who had told me how closely they look for speeders on this road. Well, still fuming from the stupid driver and needing to get out of the valley to call my sister back who had tried to call me twice. (The valley has lots of dead cell spots so I didn't want to call her back just for the call to get dropped) when I see a ranger's vehicle aimed at the road, and I look down and realize, "there is no way I am not getting pulled over." Sure enough, I got pulled over. While my mother thinks I am a horrible driver, I'm not, I just have bad moments...this being one of them. The ranger asked me how I was doing, and I said, "ahh, I am very sorry I was speeding, I just had an incident with a car... and my mind was still on that." To make a long story short, he was also a cyclist so understands the frustration, and he let me off with a warning, thanks Ranger Travis! I was pretty surprised that I didn't start crying or absolutely lose it, but I think I knew that the Ranger was likely to let me off if I just kept it honest.

So the moral of the story comes from one of my favorite characters from one of favorite book series. There is an author named Robert Crais who wrote a detective series about a guy Elvis Cole and his partner Joe Pike. Both are Vietnam vets, and Joe's a little different, but he has these red arrows pointing forward tattooed on both of this shoulders. Anyway, last year while doing Ironman Louisville, particularly during the run, I focused on those red arrows telling myself I needed to continue to make forward progress, to continue to look forward. The next time something bad happens, I need to remind myself to look forward and let the past go.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Trying this again - Ironman Wisconsin

The last time I tried to write a blog, I was pretty unsuccessful. I feel a need to share some of my crazy stories as I try to figure out what cosmic energy I put in the universe that makes my life seem so ridiculous at times.

At this time next week, I will be in Madison, Wisconsin hopefully standing in a few feet of water waiting for the most insane swim of my life to start. That's right, next week is Ironman Wisconsin! For those who don't know Ironman, it's also known as a full triathlon: a 2.4 hour swim, a 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile swim. Insane, right? I have completed an Ironman in Louisville, Kentucky when it was in the 90's temperature wise and humid as all heck. Here are the goals for Madison:

1. Beat my time in Louisville: 14:01:01

Swim: 1:13:23
Transition: 7:34
Bike: 6:26:33
Transition: 9:37
Run: 6:03:54

How am I going to beat this time:

I think my swim should go a bit better, mainly because it should be wetsuit legal. I am a little worried about my citing (my ability to swim straight as I go from one buoy to the next) so the goal for Wisconsin: 1:08

Transition: Ahh, bathroom break plus everything else, let's just say 6

Bike: I honestly can't imagine goiong as fast on the bike as I did in Louisville for two reasons. 1. Wisconsin's course is a bit harder. 2. I went too fast in Louisville, and that is why I couldn't muster much energy on the run. Goal: 6:45

Transition: While T2 was one of my favorite memories of Louisville because my friend made sure to volunteer so she could help me, it was too long because it was too hot. Goal: 6

Run: at this point, if you are doing the math, I am about 10 minutes behind my time in Louisville, which means it all has to come to me being able to run the run. Goal: 5:30.

Which makes my total race time: 13:35

Goal #2 for Wisconsin:

Finish before my man falls asleep. I am going up there with two of my closest guy friends. One is my best friend/significant other. The other is my mentor. The SO is an amazing athlete, and he will finish hours before I cross the line. The mentor finished his first Ironman minutes before the 17 hour cutoff, but I know he is stronger this year. Oh yeah, he is also 64 (the mentor that is). So what's the goal, finishing before the SO falls asleep back in the hotel.

Goal #3 for Wisconsin:

To enjoy the race more than I did Louisville. Louisville was hot from the getgo. If I can't wear a sweatshirt at 5am, it's freakin' hot, and it was too hot for a sweatshirt at that point and time. How am I going to enjoy this race more: positive energy.

1. My parents are coming. They have never seen me race so it should be awesome having them there (hopefully cheering for me). Sometimes, my mom is too much the realist...and I wonder where I got that particular character trait. For instance, yesterday, I had a horrible 5 mile race. I went out too fast (for me), and my heart rate shot up and with the heat, I blew up. It was awful. When I told her about it, she said, "are you sure you can make it next week?" Yes, that sent me into hysterical crying, but I am hoping it's not 90 degrees with 80% humidity for the run in Wisconsin.

2.Friendship: I am not sure if I will really see my mentor and my SO on the course, but knowing they are there should help.

3. Positive thoughts: As many people know, that while I love triathlon and am pretty good at short course (which explains why I spend so much time training for long course), I am a much better at the hobby that consumes my life from October to March (sometimes to June). That hobby being a high school debate coach. This past season was so successful that total strangers would come up to me to tell me how amazing they found my students. And I LOVE coaching. I adore these kids. From my SO watching my kids and just looking at his face when he told me in amazement how good they were. Or, the one time when I was allowed to watch one of them, and he told me that, despite the fact that I sat in the very back of the room 20 feet away, "that the scratching of my pen distracted him" as he tried to guess what I was writing. It's also about seeing one of my freshman last year follow around my senior at the state tournament like a loyal puppy, doing whatever he could to help the senior excel. Anyway, thoughts of these kids and their achievements both in the past and in the future often fuels my workouts. They have no idea how often they are with me, particularly when I run.

4. More positive thoughts. It's all about staying positive.