Sunday, September 30, 2012

IMLOU By the Numbers

With the realization that I need to get back to training, I decided to look at my total mileage for the year. I mean, heck, I did an Ironman. I expect the totals to phenomenal. I mean I was obviously prepared for IMLOU since my day went so incredibly, right?

However, I was shocked when I looked at the numbers. For 2012, so far I have run 508.57 miles, biked 1,751.83 miles, swam 70 miles and spent 2, 755 minutes on the bike trainer. It just didn't seem like much. I have friends who are shooting for running 2,000 miles this year. Why am I only at 508 miles?

Well, first I guess it's a matter of doing a triathlon. I followed the Endurance Nation training plan which emphasized biking and using intensity to get you through the run. My longest training run prior to IMLOU was only 12.75 miles...not even a half marathon!

I guess when you add in the average of 7 group fitness classes a week that I taught it all adds up to improving my health and preparing me for a long, hot, sweaty day in Louisville.

Of course, then when you look at the vast difference in the number of training miles between 2010 to 2012 and you will see a huge difference.

Swim (yds), Bike & Run mileage 
2010 was the first year I trained for events other than sprint triathlons. I did the Indy Half Marathon as well as the Wine & Dine Half Marathon. In 2011, I was working full time (plus) as Director of Programs at the park district as well as teaching Body Pump & Body Flow. You can see a direct correlation between the number of miles I put on the road and the results at the finish line. Ugh. 2011 was a tough year for racing.

Long Distance Uniform & Cutting the IM Wristband 

Let's focus on 2012 though. The majority of my mileage came from biking between May & August as expected. Lots of long, hot hours spent on my Dolce getting to know all of the horrible roads of Central Illinois. Lots of time spent in the water dealing with my Sea Monsters.

With the arrival of our lighter colored long distance T3 uniforms, I knew I'd be ready for August 26th. The months of training. The falls on the bike. The tears. They would all be worth it. For some, the day did not meet their expectations. For me, the expectations were exceeded. So much so that it took me another week before I could face cutting off my Ironman wristband. When my in-laws offered to take us out for dinner to celebrate, I didn't think the blue wristband went well with my outfit. So, with great sadness and trepidation, I finally removed the final last bit of IMLOU memorabilia from my wrist.

Regardless, the goals have been set for the future. I'm finishing out the year with Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon. I plan on taking a couple of months off of the bike and pool and then kick it all back into gear after the holidays.  Next year's race calendar is already starting to build as I've already registered for Ironman 70.3 Muncie which will probably be a my "A" race for the year. I'm also going to look for a few adventure races to do in 2013. It's time to expand my horizons and live life to the fullest.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Wine & Dine Training Plan

The past few weeks have been kind of crazy. Between last week's Homecoming extravaganza & straining my calf muscle, running has been on the back burner. It's now time to bring it up to the forefront again.

We are officially 42 days from the Wine & Dine Half Marathon. I think it's time I start training. After  attaining a PR of 52:50 at the Pumpkin Classic 10k, I need to adjust my training plan and paces anyway.

This year will be our 3rd time to attend Disney's Wine & Dine Festival without kids. Disney without kids? Oh heck yah. Jeff and I even went to Disney two times before we had kids....well, technically. The 2nd trip I was pregnant with our first child.
Wine & Dine 2009

Our first adults only Wine & Dine weekend  was in 2009 with friends who had never experienced Disney before. I know! SAY WHAT????  As avid Disney fans, we introduced our friends to the ins and outs of EPCOT as well as the Magic Kingdom. It was a whirlwind weekend, but full of fun, food and wine.

When we came home, Disney announced they were establishing a new race: The Wine & Dine Half Marathon. I was beside myself with excitement. Of course, we had to go back in 2010 for the inaugural event! Cheryl & I signed up as soon as registration opened and then had to wait 11 long months for the day to arrive.
Me, Jeff & Cheryl at WDW 2010
Finally, our weekend arrived. We spent Friday & Saturday morning enjoying the various booths around EPCOT sampling lots of food and a few drinks. Jeff's parents, aunt, brother & his wife also joined us, but for some reason I don't understand they didn't want to do the half marathon. Oh well. To each their own.

A few of the samplings from the Wine & Dine Weekend
Disney makes spending your money REALLY easy. We each loaded up a wristlet which works as a debit card and ate our way around the world. Our goal was to try something at each booth. The booths serve food tapas style - a small sampling of the food you desire. Cheryl, Jeff or I would buy a selection of foods and share with each other. We were able to sample many more foods that way. Very rarely did I find something I did not enjoy.
Disney, Running, Food, Wine - A Few of my Favorite Things
The Wine & Dine Half Marathon is a great event. The race begins at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and runs through Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and concludes right outside of EPCOT. Participants get to attend an exclusive after race event. The race begins at 10 pm. With Disney character meet and greets every couple of miles, I wasn't going to worry about my time, but enjoy the event with Cheryl. We stopped and had our picture taken with Woody, Darth Vader, Jessie, Pooh & Mickey. Unfortunately, I wasn't running near enough and the lactic acid took away any enjoyment I could have had at the after party. By the time we got back to our hotel, it was 3 am. I swore I would never do that half marathon again. Trying to sleep with all of that lactic acid in my body was impossible. But a year later I found myself registering again for the half marathon.

Wine & Dine Training Plan
So, now it's time to train again. No more slacking. No more playing around. As always, I need to write out my plan and follow it to a T. Once it's in written format, I rarely stray away from my plan. So here it is in all of it's glory.

It's time to lace up my running shoes and head out to the road for some stinking thinking time. Booyah!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Homecoming Week

There is only one week each year which makes me wish I was in high school again and that's Homecoming Week. I don't know about you, but our high school Homecoming was L-A-M-E. First, we didn't have a football team. So we had to wait until December to celebrate Homecoming during basketball season. Second, all we had was a dance. Nothing else. Nothing to get you excited all week long like they do at THS. 

The theme of Homecoming Week is based on the top selling book, The Hunger Games. Each day of the Homecoming week is a special dress up day. Points are earned for dressing up in the class competition. Unfortunately, Samantha's class has never done well in this competition, but this is the year she decided to make it her best. I mean it is her Senior Year after all. 
The Bee & The Airplane
Monday was phobia day. Some of the students had a hard time with this one. If you are afraid of cotton balls as one Senior is, how could you dress up with cotton balls all over you and be able to focus all day long? Samantha decided to dress up as a bee, but of course she is afraid of anything which will cause her the slightest bit of pain including exercise. Annelise,  however, has a true phobia. She has a fear of flying. As time goes on, her fear of flying has possibly even gotten worse. On our trip last June to Vero Beach, FL, I had to distract her by talking about the five novels she packed in her carry-on. Our next trip may require drugs.
Tuesday was Tacky Tourist Day. Now why my children didn't just shop out of their father's closet I'm not really sure. Wednesday was Zone Day with the Seniors getting the Capital. Samantha purchased a hot pink prom dress from Goodwill to dress up as Effie Trinket. Thursday was School Colors: Maroon & White. Friday was Class Colors for the Game Day competitions. The Senior decided on Red while the Freshman wore Purple.
Annelise led the Freshman Lip Sync with her coal mining cohorts singing DIG DIG DIG from Snow White  & the Seven Dwarves while Samantha and Dance Team rocked it out with the THS Teachers and then the Senior Girls for the Lip Sync. 
The Game Day competition started off with an Extreme Routine by the cheerleaders and a Teacher/Dance Team Routine. I cannot tell you how blessed I am to have my daughters go to a school where the teachers truly get involved with the student's activities. The teachers who participated in the dance were fantastic and weren't afraid to strut their stuff in front of the entire high school. That is what made the performance truly enjoyable. Following all of the performances, the students enjoyed an afternoon of field day games and a huge win over the Lexington Minutemen Friday night.

Samantha - Ready for her Senior Homecoming, but alas her date was in Milwaukee
Saturday was the actual day of the Homecoming Dance. While Samantha stayed home to begin her 7 hour beauty routine with  her friends, we followed Annelise to a volleyball tournament which, of course, ran late causing not a little bit of stress for the freshmen who were experiencing Homecoming for the first time.

Annelise ready for her 1st high school Homecoming
Fortunately for me, both the Senior & Freshman groups decided they wanted to meet at our house for pictures at 5 pm. It may have been slightly crazy at our house with 10 Seniors, 10 Freshmen and their parents snapping pictures for an hour or so, but at least I didn't have to try and be in two places at once.
SENIORS Class of 2013 

FRESHMEN - Class of 2016
The best part of the day was still yet to be. Samantha had asked a friend to come home from MSOE (Milwaukee School of Engineering) to be her date for Homecoming; unfortunately, he had to work on Saturday and wasn't able to get home in time for the festivities.  Instead his insane mother drove to Milwaukee and picked him up when he got off of work at 2 pm, and drove 4 hours back home in order for Luke to surprise Sam by showing up at the dance.

Luke surprised Samantha by showing up at the Homecoming Dance
Of course, it's a little scary when the local law enforcement officer comes into the dance and says, "Samantha, I need you to step outside." Luckily, my sweet young daughter hasn't had any run ins with the law and was more than terrified about what was going to happen next. Instead, she stepped outside to see Luke waiting for her with a corsage. 
Luke & Samantha - Homecoming 2012
Everyone have an AWWWW Moment. I think every girl in the school melted when they saw Luke standing there. According to Samantha, it was the best Homecoming ever. She never suspected a thing even though she's claiming she was suspicious and says I can't keep a secret. Hey I can keep a secret. I just know who I can trust to tell and who I can't. Obviously, she was still surprised so I rest my case.

My baby girl had to get into the action having her hair done as well. Unfortunately, you can still see some of the pink hair dye we put in her hair for the Homecoming Game Friday night. 
The craziness of Homecoming can finally come to an end. It was a week of fun, memorable moments with each of my daughters as they tried to create their first & last Homecoming experience of high school. Tell me again, where did the time go? 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Eye on the Ball

I love this statement.. What doesn't kill me makes me awesome instead. Yes, there is nothing like coming out on the other side of a struggle to find yourself stronger, more ready to face the curve balls that life throws at you.

Take for instance my Ironman experience. Haha, you knew that one was coming. When I signed up to do Ironman Louisville last January, I really wasn't sure I'd be able to complete this journey. I had only completed a handful of sprint triathlons and suddenly I thought I could be an Ironman?? It seemed a little out of reach.

I sat down with my friend, Gene, aka The Legend, and we discussed the odds of me completing the Ironman based on my sprint times. I  know, it's like comparing a tomato to an apple, but luckily Gene is a glass half full kind of person. Our talk gave me the confidence to hit the submit button. Luckily, Based on my sprint times, we concluded I would likely be able to complete the Ironman. The key would be training. After knowing Gene  for about 5 years, he still hadn't seen the determined side of me. The part of me which would not let me fail in this endeavor. I had a goal to finish my Ironman by midnight and I knew I'd do whatever it took to succeed.

There were times when I really thought training for the Ironman would kill me, but luckily my determination won out and I crossed that line with my arms raised and the biggest smile on my face. So what happened then?

My confidence grew - exponentially. The number one question I got before and even after my race day was "Why? Why would anyone want to do that?". My answer was always the same.
Because if I can do an Ironman, I can do anything. 

And yes, completing an Ironman is a life changing event. It can be a long, strenuous, stressful training period, but really it was about having a huge goal in front of me and having the faith in myself that I could meet the challenge. I met the challenge. I overcame the obstacles and my confidence continues to grow every single day.

I posted on Facebook today: "I. NEED. TO. RUN.....A LOT."  All of my Facebook friends know what that means. It's thinking time. Time for some self-evaluation. Time for reflection. Time to let go of stress and just enjoy being on the road. A friend responded and said someone told her last night at the Community Pep Rally, "If only I could look like Carla." Wow. First off, thanks. Second, why can't you? Why can't you do what I did? My response was, "But I would tell that person they could. They just need to keep their eyes on the ball and hit their goals."

Isn't that what it's all about? Setting goals. Evaluating your successes, or possibly your failures, and then resetting those goals again. If your goal is to lose weight, set your goals. Create an action plan and get moving. Make the changes necessary to meet those goals.

And then reset your goal once again...and watch your confidence blossom. It could change your life.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

ACSM Personal Training Certification

When I quit my job at the park district last December, the plan was for me to get my personal training certification. However, for the first few weeks months of my Ironman training, any time I sat down to even decide who I should get my certification through, I promptly feel asleep on the couch

As winter turned into spring, I found myself struggling to find available time to study. Between teaching my classes, following my Ironman training and chasing my kids from one activity to the next,  I couldn't imagine studying for my certification let alone figure out which organization I wanted to get my certification through. 
ACSM Study Kit
Now that IMOU is over I finally sat down and made a decision. I ordered the study kit from the American College of Sports Medicine and IT CAME IN THE MAIL TODAY!!!!

Being the planner that I am, I sat down and immediately started looking at my schedule to see how I was going to accomplish this SUCCESSFULLY and QUICKLY. I even read a blog about someone who had passed the ACSM last March. She highly suggested participating in the 3-day workshop once you've read the textbook. The only one they have listed in Illinois for the fall is in Nile, IL from Oct. 26-28. Argh That doesn't leave me a lot of time! The 3-day workshop is 1-9:30 on Friday, 8-5:30 Saturday & 9-4 Sunday. I can definitely see information overload coming my way if I sign up for it. 

However, the workshop is only 5 weeks away....TIME TO CRAM!! That's 4-5 chapters a week. Wowzers. OK. I haven't studied for a written exam in many, many, many years. It's time to whip out the highlighters!

My Fall Schedule
When you lay it out in a visible format, yahhhh. It looks crazy. Especially when you consider I may end up teaching classes at the ICC Cougarplex 2 afternoons a week. (Am I the only one who finds the name Cougarplex ironic? Really? Me at the age of 43 teaching college students. Good thing that's not my scene.) 

So, I have a lot of work to do in the next few weeks. I'm putting out my DO NOT DISTURB sign because it's time to hit the books. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pumpkin Classic Prep

Last Saturday I decided to go out for a run. Nothing major, just a nice gentle run. I thought I could do anywhere from 6-10 miles. As always, a solid run is always good for the mind and helps to eliminate all of the stinking thinking that can be going on in your life.

My goal was to run my first six miles at a 9:31 pace and then slow down for miles 7-10 at a relaxed 10:31 pace. However, as soon as I started running, I felt my calf tightened up as if it could spasm at any moment. I tried flexing my calf as I brought my right leg forward hoping I could stretch it out; however, nothing seemed to help.

My first mile was right at goal: 9:28 pace. As my muscle loosened up, my pace picked up for the second mile ending with a 9:17 pace. It felt great to be out on the road again clearing my mind and pushing my body. Mile 3 was even stronger, an 8:57 pace. I felt like I could fly.

Wearing my new compression socks
As I entered the 4th mile, my playlist switched over to Kelly Clarkson's "My Life Would Suck Without You." My mind filled with the lyrics as I pushed up the incline on Red Shale Hill Road. It's amazing how music can lift your spirits and push you to keep going. Once again, the music set the tone for the next mile with Usher's "Scream". Dang, there is nothing like a hard driving beat to make you want to move! During mile 6, I hit some pretty decent hills and the song seemed very appropriate: "Gives You Hell" by the All-American Rejects. Very timely music throughout my entire run.

Finally, in the 7th mile, I had to stop to stretch my calf while walking for a bit. My calf still felt incredibly tight. Since I was taking my time to listen to my body, I used the down time to send an inspirational text to a friend. I picked up the pace again and finished out 9 solid miles. I felt pretty good considering this was the longest run I've completed since IMLOU.

Avg Pace
Summary 28:50.5 9.01 9:52
1 09:28.5 1 9:28
2 09:17.2 1 9:17
3 08:52.6 1 8:53
4 09:31.2 1 9:31
5 09:18.4 1 9:18
6 10:09.7 1 10:10
7 12:05.1 1 12:05
8 10:03.2 1 10:03
9 10:01.6 1 10:02
10 :03.2 0.01 4:49

However, as soon as I stopped running, my calf tightened right up. I spent most of the day hobbling around. It tightened again Sunday while playing volleyball and again Monday after teaching Zumba. Ugh. I decided I needed to take the rest of the week off to rest.

On Saturday, I will be running in my first race since Ironman Louisville. I'm a little concerned about how my calf is going to hold up, but we'll just see how it goes. If nothing else, I can run my easy pace and just enjoy Pumpkin pancakes at the finish line.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

IM Tattoo Design at Wine Down Wednesday

Before I even left for Louisville, I created a Facebook event for friends to join me at Perdue's Grill & Bar for  Wine Down Wednesday. The following is my event description:

With the start of the school year and this being the first Wednesday after my Ironman, I will either need my dear friends to celebrate with me or help me mourn a dream. Join me for a cocktail, or two, while we celebrate the beginning of a new school year and hopefully design my Ironman tattoo.

Luckily, for me, my Ironman Louisville adventure was a COMPLETE SUCCESS and we were able to celebrate. I posted on Monday morning that everyone needed to bring their Ironman tattoo ideas to Wine Down Wednesday.

Then things got wacky. I had people posting about being an Iron-woman. Umm, no, first off let's be clear. I am an IRONMAN. I did as much work as any man out there and even beat a few of them. (Insert evil laugh here) So I am claiming the title of Ironman. Some of the suggestions included putting pig tails on the M-dot. Say what? Have you been smoking something? No way.

Finally, I decided I needed to guide people on the tattoo design. Control freak? Yes, maybe I am, but I wanted some good ideas.
Tattoo Rules: The M-dot has to be the basis of the tattoo and, yes, I am an IRONMAN, not Iron-Woman. Here is a picture of the M-dot. Taking creative input!

I even posted a few pictures of some tattoo designs that I liked.
Incoporating the fleur-de-lis

Incorporating T3

Louisville & Churchill Downs

Kind of HUGE...but cool

Discreet, but needs creativity

But really nothing seemed to fit me. I wanted something which said I was an Ironman but didn't look masculine and beefy. I also knew I DID NOT want a tattoo on my calf. I decided the back of my shoulder was a better option for me. That way I could show it off when I wanted and be a badass  group fitness instructor, but also cover it when needed.

Some friends posted on my Facebook the different ideas they thought were cool. Some were really cool, but way far out there for me. Some friends brought their ideas to Wine Down Wednesday. Someone even recently emailed me with the wrist tat above.

I like the simple lines of the figures. I like the idea of incorporating the fleur-de-lis in some, but when I do my next Ironman (Did you catch that? Not if, but when.) I'll need the design to be flexible enough to incorporate that one as well....because I'm not turning into a tattooed woman. One tat and that's that.

Gene (aka The Legend) & I at Wine Down Wednesday
The rest of the Wine Down Wednesday was a lot of fun. Lots of friends came out to celebrate my successful day as well as Gene, who is now a three time Ironman finisher. I enjoyed sharing my stories with friends and showing off my Ironman Finisher jacket. You didn't know I had a FINISHER jacket? Well, I will have to post a picture another time because it really does look good on me.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Because you did it.....

The words of encouragement and inspiration continue to flood in. I realize it's been two weeks, but I am still flying high. Last night was my first chance to attend a Tremont High School Football game. I was so excited to finally enjoy a football game watching my favorite Senior Dance Team Member.
Samantha leading the 4th grade Little Girls Dance Clinic
As I was walking to the game talking about...what else...Ironman, I heard the best words possible:
It's not If you can do it, I can do it. It's because you did it, I think I can. 
These words were spoken by a woman of strength, a woman who has run 2 marathons and does a 300 mile bike ride every summer. I was surprised to hear she ever questioned her ability to complete an Ironman, but I was also glad to know that my journey had inspired her to consider doing one.

And besides my own personal journey toward health, fitness and IRON status, isn't that what it's all about? Inspiring others?

Now my goal is not to get every person I meet to do an Ironman, or even a triathlon. Everybody has different goals and aspirations. Everybody has different interests and restrictions.

My goal is get every person I know to make one more change, make one better decision toward a healthy, happy life. Isn't that what we all really want? To be able to chase after our kids? Or, even if secretly, feel like a hot momma? Haha, yes, admit it. That is the goal! You want to feel GOOD about yourself.

So today: Go for a walk. Get out and ride your bike. Make a better food choice. Do whatever it takes to push yourself to the next level. As you make small changes, you will start to feel the domino affect that it has on your health.

What changes can you make today?

Friday, September 7, 2012

A love letter to my Iron Support Crew

This week has been a huge week of reflection for me. Reflection on the choices in my life which have brought me to this point.

We, as human beings, make decisions every day, some of them are good and some of them are very bad. No matter what we are not free of the consequences of our actions.

We make every day decisions - what to wear, what to eat, whether or not to exercise. We make life decisions - to get married, to have a baby, or to buy a home.

Sometimes we are not truly conscience of some of our decisions and what impact they have on our lives. Time slips by and suddenly you become aware of where you are and have to decide if you like it or not.

20 years ago my life was changed forever. While I was living in Chicago, my brother-in-law was killed. As a result, I moved back to Rochester to start a life with my sister and help her out with her three young children, one of which is my partner in crime, Cheryl.

My move home shut one door and yet opened another. I settled into a life of helping my sister adjust to her life without a life partner and while I would do anything to bring Steve back to us all, I can't change it. Just as I can't change the impact it had on my life.

When I moved home, I met this young, quiet young man who liked to hunt and to fish and he was so incredibly NICE. I mean nice. The kind of man I pray my daughters marry some day. When Jeff said I love you for the first time it took me by surprise. I wasn't sure I was ready to hear those words, but once I thought about it, I knew no one was ever going to treat me better than he did. He made me his number one priority and that, my friends, is a very good feeling.
Our Wedding Day

We were married on November 6, 1993 and immediately moved to Milwaukee, WI to start our life together. We bought our first home there. We had our first child there. But the need to be closer to our families brought us back to Central Illinois.

In 2001, I was pregnant with our 3rd child and watching my mom's health beginning to fail. Jeff thankfully agreed to let me become a stay at home mom knowing full well I would be devoting a lot of my time to my parents in Rochester. While dealing with my mom's health issues, my dad completely ignored his own. Instead of having one parent with failing health, we now had two. My mom passed away in May of 2004 followed by my dad's passing, as he predicted it would be, 10 months later in March of 2005. Throughout that entire period, my dear husband never once questioned the amount of time I spent with my family back home or the amount of money we were laying out for gas  as I traveled back and forth. I cannot thank him enough for that.

In 2007, we moved into our newly constructed home. I know many people say that building a home can be tough on a marriage, but that was not the case for us. I'm sure I drove Jeff crazy with some of my ideas and plans, pushing against the construction budget, but again he was my rock and always provided sound logic whenever I argued for or against something.

When we found out my mom was not going to get a liver transplant, I'll never forget her words. "I have so much more life to live." I've carried that with me always. I did not want to follow in my mom's footsteps and have regrets during the final days of my life. I was determined to live life to the fullest and see as much of the world as possible.

At the 2009 WDW Food & Wine Festival
I've always said I don't need fancy houses or cars, but memories are things that I want to carry with me always. Jeff & I agreed to make vacations...time spent with each other and with our kids...a priority. I wanted to create positive memories for my children like I had. Memories of vacations. Being the 8th child of 9, I felt vacations were the only time I got 100% of my parents' full attention. As a result, we have traveled...a lot. Mazatlan, Mexico. Disney numerous times. Daytona Beach. Cruises. We've been blessed to be able to travel with great friends and create memories with our children. 

On our 2012 Cruise 

Why am I rambling about all of this? Because again, I have had a full week of reflection after completing my Ironman. Time to reflect on the choices in my life and their consequences. Time to be thankful that I have a life partner who sacrifices so much to allow me to achieve my dreams.

Abby & Jeff at IMLOU 8/26/12
The process to become an Ironman can be a difficult one for everyone involved. My husband never questioned my need for new gear, or a weekend in L'ville to train. He took his own bike apart and sent a wheel home with Cheryl to practice changing a tube. When her cadence sensor fell off, he removed his from his bike and sent it with me to make sure Cheryl had the peace of mind of having all of the equipment necessary for her to be successful on race day.

On race day, he walked down with me to transition, taking care of my nutrition mishap. As much as I was worried about it, I knew if anyone could make it right it would be Jeff. He is always calm and logical. People respond to him well. I knew he would find a way, one way or another, to make sure I had what I needed for my bike.

When completing any difficult journey, the most important moments are those spent with your loved ones. On race day, it was comforting to know that  my family was out there, waiting to see me and would give me the boost I needed to take the next step. More important for me was seeing the look of absolute confidence Jeff held from the moment I said I wanted to do an Ironman until the moment I crossed the line. Part of this journey has been a struggle. I was filled with doubt when I struggled during my Olympic swim. I was ready to give up my Ironman dream, but Jeff just shook his head. He knew I wouldn't walk away and his confidence in my ability to overcome my demons made me lift my own expectations of myself.

Jeff & I in T2

While I was off doing my run, my husband waited patiently for Cheryl. He walked 4 miles with her as he talked her through what it would take to finish before midnight. She was convinced she was not going to make it because at mile 125 of the day, your brain just doesn't do math very well. Instead, Jeff walked her through the math problem calculating her miles left and pace required to finish. Suddenly, Cheryl's whole attitude changed as she listened to her Uncle Jeff provide a logical plan for completing her Ironman.

A sweaty kiss for my love
After Cheryl & I both crossed the finish line, Jeff did what he does best. He took care of us. Our bikes and gear needed to be cleared from the transition area by 12:30 am. Because everyone else was concerned about Cheryl, we all went to medical. Jeff did what needed to be done. He went to transition, grabbed my Dolce and gear bags and chugged them back to his hotel room. Then repeated that as he gathered Cheryl's things as well.

Once, a very long time ago, Steve's mom said she wished she could understand why he had to die. Unfortunately, with all of these type of situations, there is not a good answer. But I did have a response which I believe may have helped.
I don't know why Steve had to die and if I could bring him back, I would, but the one positive thing that came out of Steve's death is that I met Jeff and I now have three beautiful daughters. 
Steve's mom smiled. I know those words can't really soothe a mom's broken heart, but she, like most people I know, love Jeff. She even told me once she considered him her 3rd son. A tough pill for me to swallow considering her two sons married two of my sisters. I thought she would say that I was like her 3rd daughter, but as I said it's hard not to love someone who provides you so much comfort and support.

There is nothing I can do to thank my dear, sweet husband enough for being my rock not only in the last 9 months, but over the last 20 years. He allowed me to dream and he helped me make that dream a reality.

Thank you, my dear Iron Support Crew, and I love you.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

M-Dot Tattoo Investigation

I decided I needed to spend today seeing how the other side lives. I spent an eye opening afternoon visiting two local tattoo parlors. Let's just say it was very interesting to say the least.

I've never thought I'd be interested in getting a tattoo...unless it was an extreme circumstance. For instance, my sister, Sus, has a tattoo with the Star of David on the inside of her ankle which represents her son, David, who died of a massive heart attack in 2001 at the age of 27. That I can understand.

What I don't understand is the gentleman at the front desk of one of the tattoo parlors who had his entire arm tattooed black from his shoulder to his knuckles. I am trying not to judge, but what does that express? Oh well, it's not my concern and he really was a very friendly, informative young man if you could get past the ear lobes which hung down to his chin, the plug piercings in his upper lip and the 5 hoops in his nose. But again....I am not judging. I just don't understand. Call me old? OK fine. I'm old. Old-fashioned.

BUT - here I am. Discussing the idea of permanently altering my body in some fashion. I do have some reservations. I tend to get bored very quickly. I mean I don't keep my hairstyle the same for more than 2 appointments let alone permanently inking my body. So why do it?

As I emailed a friend earlier today, I've poured myself into this for 8+ months. I had an epic fail in the Gateway Olympic Triathlon swim. I suffered through 103 degree weather and a bad nutrition plan during a training ride in L'ville. All of the lessons, all of the training, all of the blood, sweat and tears.....and there was plenty of each.... helped me prepare for a wonderful day that I don't ever want to forget.
American Inkwell, Pekin, IL
So I took my basic tattoo design to visit two parlors which were both highly recommended. Because I am a bit of a nervous ninny, I did ask my dear friend, Gene, aka The Legend, to go with me. I just wanted someone else to remind me to ask the right questions and make sure I got the answers I needed to hear. Luckily, Gene was available to go with me to American Inkwell in Pekin.

I received some really good feedback from one of the tattoo artists at American Inkwell. We discussed how to alter my tattoo design into reality. I realize I know nothing about the techniques involved in creating body art. So I knew something was going to need to change. Gene asked about getting a proof before they permanently changed my body and, of course, they said they would sit down with me and make sure I was happy with the final design before starting. As luck would have it, they also had an opening for next Friday, September 14th. Eeekkk!!! However, I need to see if I can get a sub for my Friday Zumba class before taking the appointment. So I held off for now.

Gene & I met his wife, Teri, for lunch and discussed how interesting the people at the tattoo parlor were. I mean how often do you see someone with white ink in the shape of a sword on their forehead? After lunch, I traveled to Peoria by myself to investigate Freedom Ink. I met with tattoo artist, Frank, who looked at my design and expressed some concerns over the details of the fleur de lis getting lost since it wasn't going to be a very large tattoo. Hmm, maybe I should just get it over my entire back. Ha, hell no. Not happening. Frank recommended going with a straight M-dot and keeping it simple. Not only would it eliminate the concern over the details, but also keep the focus on the Ironman logo. Frank said his favorite tattoos from the wide selection he had on his own body were the simple ones.

Yah, I get that, but really? A plain M-dot? Not super excited about spending an hour and $200 for a plain M-dot.

So now I am searching for a 3rd opinion. My nephew recommended a tattoo artist from Bloomington. I may drive over there tomorrow or maybe just give them a call and see if I can email them a copy of my design. I don't want the fleur de lis to just look like a blob for sure, but I felt as if Frank could have given me a few more suggestions on how to incorporate the pieces that I feel are important.

So more research is required, but again, I'm not in a hurry. If I'm permanently changing my body, I want to know exactly what I'm getting into.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Type 2 Diabetes Survey

I just took a survey regarding Type 2 Diabetes regarding glucose monitoring. Again, I find myself frustrated because I am not a typical Type 2. I've always exercised. I've always followed a fairly decent diet. Heck, thanks to my Ironman training I now weigh 1 pound more than I did in college when I played volleyball at Western Illinois and THOUGHT I was in the best shape of my life.

Why am I Type 2? Because my pancreas sucks and can't produce enough insulin. Sorry, but it's true.

Anyway, back to the survey which asked about how often I monitor. Well....I know I don't monitor enough. I should monitor daily, several times a day. Before and after meals to see how the carbs affect my blood sugar. Before I exercise to make sure I'm not going to damage my kidneys and after my  workouts to understand the impact of the exercise on my liver and pancreas, but let's face it. Monitoring is expensive.

50 test strips cost over $50/bottle. If I tested as much as I should in order to truly understand what is going on inside of my body I would go through a bottle every 5 days. Really? Does that seem affordable to anyone?

Here is what I do know about my body. My fasting sugars tend to be high in the morning, but especially during my periods. Noted. Carbs are not my friend. I try to stick with a meal plan where I eat protein first, then veggies and then whole grain non-processed carbs. It's not always easy and honestly some days I don't even want to try.

I know that my body reacts differently every day to the various types of exercise. Last year Cheryl & I did the Abe's Amble 10k in Springfield. A hilly course. When we got back to my car to test my blood sugar, it was over 300.....WTF. I mean really!!!

In my ever expanding useless knowledge of what is going on, I've found my liver is dumping glucose into my system because it thinks my body needs it. However, my pancreas is an epic fail and can't keep up. Therefore, high blood sugars. Grrr. I even had a Constant Glucose Monitor for 3 days back in 2010 hoping I'd learn something about my body's reaction to exercise, but I even feel like that was a failure. I needed to keep a detailed log of what I was doing when to understand the charts and graphs. Sure I can look at it and say oh yah I exercised here, but at what point in the exercise did my blood sugar spike?

This is how I'm feeling today. Look out!
OK enough. A little vent and rage going on today. The mysteries of my body and life are kicking me in the butt today. I just needed to get it out of my system so I can re-focus on the things I need and want to do today even though I really just want to curl up with a cup of coffee on my back porch and watch the storm clouds roll in.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pre-Race IMLOU Report

WTC requires all athlete's to check in by 5 pm on Friday. Heck, I wasn't going to miss an opportunity to get down to Louisville and check out 4th Street a little early. Who am I to question?

Once I got my kids off to school, I picked up Kathy and then drove down to Springfield to pick up Cheryl. Somehow our drive seemed to take forever even though we were all chatting it up about the race and hopes/dreams for the weekend. We didn't get to Louisville until 4 pm Eastern which was definitely later than I hoped, but in the end it worked out great.

Luckily, we ran into Scott & Gene as they were leaving the hotel. Being the gentlemen that they are, they helped us unload our van and then brought my Dolce and Cheryl's Cervelo up to our rooms for us. It certainly helped out quite a bit since we still had plenty of stuff in our hands even though the valet was bringing up most of our stuff. As soon as the rest of our luggage arrived, we went over to the expo and checked in.

Awesome back packs we received from WTC
A little thrill of adrenaline coursed through me as we picked up our athlete's bands and back packs. After 9 months of preparation, we were in the final countdown to the biggest day of our lives.

We came back to the room to sort out some of our gear. I decided to chill and do and what I do best: FACEBOOK. I noticed Aaron had put a post out on the T3 Louisville Spectator Board asking if anyone was going out for dinner and so I put on my social coordinator hat and tried to get as many T3 people as possible together for dinner.

I failed in some ways. The boys staying across the river: Chris, James, Pat, Ed & Joe, ate dinner without us. Grrr. At Hooter's of all places. Oh well. As I explained to Chris, I was here to not only experience IMLOU, but Louisville as well. Or at least 4th Street. If they wanted to stare at their gear all night in their hotel, they could just go right ahead and do that. I was going to enjoy a free evening especially knowing I had no big workouts the next day.

4th Street. A beautiful view late at night!
We coordinated schedules with Aaron, Cassie, Gene, Scott & Kathy. We decided to walk to 4th Street and find a restaurant which wasn't crowded and enjoy a nice dinner. We settled on Gordon & Biersch. I had the grilled mahi with pineapple avocado salsa....and a glass of wine....or maybe two. Heck, I didn't have any worries. Friday was a day of rest.

Everyone discussed what they wanted to do on Friday. Scott wanted to do a swim & bike ride, but he hadn't received an email confirming that his bike was in Louisville yet. He was a little frustrated waiting for his bike knowing he had a lot to do yet to get it ready. I think that was the very moment when I went. UH OH. I washed my swim suit after the open water swim Wednesday night back home and had it hanging to dry in my closet....and it was still there. Quick text to Jeff. PLEASE BRING MY SUIT!!!! We decided to touch base in the morning and see about doing a quick group ride, maybe even get the boys to meet us as well. Aaron shared some of experiences from IMLOU last year. As we were eating, Ed stopped by. He happened to be in the same restaurant eating with his family who surprised him by coming down early. Don't take this wrong, but that surprise would not have gone well with me. I wanted a couple of days where I could do what I needed to do, when I needed to do it without worrying about anyone else but Cheryl & I.

As we were walking out of G&B, I thought everyone was pretty settled on heading back to their respective hotels and hunkering down for the night. I thought about what I had told Chris and asked if anyone wanted to go get a drink. I just wanted to be a part of the 4th Street atmosphere a little longer. knowing that as each day passed we were going to get more and more serious about this Ironman thing. I wasn't ready for serious. 
Cheryl drew her line alright
And that's where Cheryl made her mistake. She declared that she has to draw a line. She's all in or nothing. Scott seemed to find that hilarious and so "drawing the line" became our theme for the night. 

Now keep in mind Cheryl is my niece. She was born during my freshman year of high school. Believe it or not, we've NEVER had a drink together. It's just not something we normally do. Whenever we are together, we are normally training or preparing for a race. Or at a family function and while my family doesn't object to having a beverage, it's just not a part of my routine. So, this was an opportunity for me to kick back with one of my best friends. Whoop whoop! Look out!

Gene, Scott, Aaron, Cheryl, me, Kathy & Cassie at Sully's
The night air was incredible. We sat on the outdoor patio at Sully's and enjoyed an evening with our T3 friends. Everyone was pretty relaxed and having a good time. Our waitress, Rachel, introduced herself. We learned she was going to be a lifeguard during the swim portion and then helping athlete's on the transition bus late race night. It was interesting talking to her and hearing her perspective on the race.
I think Cheryl was telling me about drawing the line.
I'm not really sure. Everything was hilarious at that point. 

I asked Scott to take a picture of Cheryl & I which turned out to be an epic fail.  Laughter was the call of the night and I couldn't seem to get serious enough to take a decent picture.
I think this was my Flirty Girl move. I don't know. 
BUT I did want everyone to see that we were IRONMAN Wannabees. Yes, see the awesome wristband?

We are athletes. See???
Finally a somewhat decent shot. Words cannot express how happy I was to go through this whole Ironman process with Cheryl. She's such an incredible person. I have so many great memories tied to her, her sisters and her mom (my own sister). Life is full of strange twists and turns and when Cheryl's dad died, it had a MAJOR impact on my life, but that's for another blog post.

I look like I'm worried ?!?! What the heck. 
After watching Cheryl flirt with the bar back for a while, we finally DREW the LINE and called it a night.

Friday morning we woke up, ate some of the egg muffins I packed for the weekend and decided we wanted to test our bikes to make sure nothing had happened while transporting them to Louisville. As usual, Cheryl let me lead on our 20 mile bike ride. We rode from the Galt House down River Road and did a simple out and back. Cadence sensor is working great. No problems with brakes rubbing tires. We were good to go.

My kids did not appreciate my sense of color. 
The rest of the day was wide open. We had lunch at Panera and walked through the expo where I bought a pair of compression socks from the hunky Australian salesman. No really, I didn't buy the socks because he had a nice accent. I just like bright colors and I needed the compression socks. Really. Friday afternoon I left Cheryl in the room to take a nap and went down to the 3rd floor lounge to hydrate. I met another first time Ironman wannabe who was waiting for his wife to finish her appointment at the Galt House spa. Oh boy, that sounded dreamy to me right then.

Friday night was the athlete's dinner. T3 took up 4 tables as most of us tried to sit together. FINALLY! I didn't fail as the social coordinator. Part of the evening was extremely interesting....and then part of it was awfully boring. The most interesting and terrifying part? The lady who did IMLOU in 2010 and fell apart at mile 20 of the marathon. SERIOUSLY??? I would belly crawl the last 6.2 miles if I had to. I can't imagine the heart break of getting that far and not accomplishing my goals. Cheryl & I talked about her the entire weekend.

After the athlete's dinner, we walked down the riverfront for team pictures. Gene's son, Nick, had a press pass and wanted to get some good shots before and during IMLOU. 21 athletes lined up on the walls along the Great Lawn and the Ohio River. After pictures, I decided to go across the river to the Indiana side and have a beer with my friend, Glen, who had just gotten into town on Friday. Cheryl, however, decided she needed to go back to the hotel and prepare her transition bags. She wanted to make sure she had everything before Jeff and her mom left for Louisville in the morning. So I wound up in Hooter's of course...with 8 guys. Some of the best 8 guys I know. Each one of them had been my support at one time or another and I was glad to spend some time with them not in a lake, not on a bike and not sweating like a day laborer.

T1 Junk
On Saturday, WTC arranged for an open swim. Any athlete could come down to the swim start and test out the water. Because I was waiting for Jeff to bring my suit, I decided not to go. Anything I wore would still be wet when I had to turn in my transition bags so I decided I would be fine. Maybe I should have. Maybe then I would have realized we had a lot more to swim once we got past Towhead Island, but maybe not. Oh well.

Saturday morning Cheryl & I check and re-checked and re-checked again our transition bags. Paranoia about forgetting something set in.

T2 - a lot simpler for sure
I even prepared my Special Needs bags which we didn't have to drop off until Sunday morning. Most people probably put important stuff like nutrition, salt tablets, aspirin in there. Me? I put in a little treat for myself...HOT TAMALES. I knew I couldn't have too many because they would sit in my stomach like a box of rocks, but I figured it was a good excuse to have some candy. I needed sugar, right? I used Hot Tamales throughout my training - when I could hide them from my kids. I mean really... as a diabetic you only get to have pure sugar in rare moments. I was going to take advantage of it.

Saturday afternoon, we went to the Sports & Social Club with Scott, Gene and his wife, Teri. We had a nice lunch predicting who was going do what on race day. Predictions were flying about the top finishers. Sadly, my name wasn't among them. Hahaha like I care. All I wanted to do was finish and show everyone I know that if you put in the time you can do anything!
My volunteer, Bob, helped me find my rack. 
Jeff and the crew arrived around 3 pm Saturday afternoon. My sister, Dera. My niece, Tiffany (aka our personal photographer). And my 3 girls. It was good to see them and have them there to share in this experience with us. We waited until they arrived to walk down to the transition area for the bike check in. I knew Jeff would want to see it anyway. So I thought I should save myself a trip.  
At bike check-in
 I took a deep breath as I looked at all of the bikes racked and ready to roll on Sunday morning. The time was drawing near and I still felt that crazy sense of calm. I wish everyone could have felt that way. I was just living in the moment and taking it all in.

We had dinner at Ri Ra for a group of 18. Ugh. Way too big. Way too late to eat dinner. We discussed tattoos while at dinner though. Tiffany drew up some more ideas for Cheryl & I. Jury is still out on the design, but I'm pretty sure it's going on the back of my right shoulder. That way I can impress my class participants by subtly showing them their instructor is an Ironman.

Pure plays over in my head again and again. 
Bedtime came and believe it or not, I slept. I did not sit up thinking as I was afraid I would do. I simply drifted to a peaceful slumber knowing Sunday was going to be a long, trying day and I needed the rest.

The rest of the story? Well, it's old news now, but 9 months after quitting my full time job, 8 months after registering, 4 years after doing my first sprint triathlon, I became an Ironman.

Yep, it never gets old.