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.