Friday, December 31, 2010


...not resolutions. This year I am following the trend and NOT making any resolutions. Actually I'm doing something totally different for myself and actually stopping for a minute to pause and really reflect on the year that has passed. As I get older it seems that time moves faster and faster...I know everyone told me this when I was younger and I never believed them...but alas it is true...and then when you dare to venture and have children of your own it seems as if time moves into warp's truly an awful phenomenon.

This past year has been a very momentous one for me, both personally and professionally. My baby started preschool this year (yep, tears were shed) and my oldest made his way into first grade. I am stunned that they have grown so much (see previous part about this awful phenomenon) but so proud of the little people they are becoming (ok, not always so proud...but mostly).

I graduated college with my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This was a very long, hard road and it was so rewarding to finally reach the end of it. I also marked my first anniversary as a nurse in the medical intensive care unit. I am blessed with an amazing job that I am thankful for everyday. I am also constantly reminded about how little I know and how much there is to learn. But on the same token, everyday is a little better and I am putting the pieces together more and is a constant learning experience for me...and I adore it.

I completed my first half ironman (what about half of this blog is about!) and was able to make another check mark on the long theoretical "bucket list" of my life. Although I won't attempt this again for a few years, I will definitely be back and will go beyond this to do an Ironman someday...ahh and the "bucket list" always seems to grow. But I did qualify for age group nationals recently and am very proud of that accomplishment as well...Vermont here I come!

2010 also marked the year I started with my amazing coach Bryan Hill of Catalyst Endurance Coaching. I had always considered myself competitive but Bryan has brought out the true competitor in me...and she is ready for some 2011 better bring it...cause I'm ready.

There have been so many other wonderful moments of 2010 that I wish I could remember...there are also other moments I wish I could forget. Like anyone I have had my ups and downs...if you know me you were probably there and I must thank you for the support and love and help to get through it all. But mostly I am just grateful to have had another year doing what I love and loving what I do. I am surrounded with love, life, and people who mean the world to me.

As 2011 comes around in a few short hours I will start it off with a bang and cross yet another activity off my proverbial list by completing a century tomorrow morning. There will be no medal at the end, only the sense of accomplishment I always get from doing something I once thought impossible. But the best part is that I will be doing the distance with people I hold very close to my will be epic...and painful! I have many goals this year...but those will come and go and at the end of the day all I will be left with is myself, my family, and my friends...those things never change. I will keep my eyes on the prize but I will also not forget to stop and smell the roses (I'm really digging the proverbs right now!) one of George Strait's new songs says:

Life's not the breaths you take
The breathing in and out
That gets you through the day
Ain't what it's all about
You just might miss the point
Trying to win the race
Life's not the breath you take
But the moments that take your breath away

Although I will be trying to win the race (some of them in my age group anyway)...I won't forget to remember what is really important in my life.

I am so grateful for the year that has gone by and exceedingly hopeful for the year about to come...may it bring joy, peace, and love to my family and those I love...see you next year!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What happens in the off season...or is that Vegas??

Wow...I'm officially a lazy blogger...I didn't even bother with a race report from my last tri! And that was a great one too! Instead I've been living up the "off season" and pretending to run in Vegas. But to summarize my last freaking rocked! I did U.S. Women's Triathlon in October and came in 3rd in my age group. I figured out about a week prior to the race that since the race was USAT and it was after September, if I placed in the top 10% of my age group then I would qualify for USAT Age Group Nationals in Vermont in August that was my goal...and I can now say...mission accomplished! I'll be traveling to Vermont in August next year to compete against crazy age groupers for a chance to go to USAT World's in's hoping!

The next adventure was to try to get back into running shape for Las Vegas RNR half marathon. I initially wanted to run a 1:39 to beat my current half PR of 1:49...BUUUUTTT as the "off season" went on my desire for candy, treats, and all things bad increased and my will to run fast decreased...but onward I went. My husband, Mike, would also be running this as his first half marathon. It was going to be quite a race!

We headed up to Vegas a few days before the race since Mike had never been there (I know! Can you believe that?!)...and began to live it up Vegas style. Now I didn't get crazy and drink a ton (actually nothing till after the race)...but my gluten free diet was severely compromised and I'm pretty sure I was second-hand smoking roughly a pack a day. Come race morning I thought that maybe I could hold on to the 7:45-8:00 min/mile I would need to achieve my goal...but I wasn't entirely sure. I had had a great few runs prior to heading out to Vegas and was thinking that maybe my internal motivation would kick in and bring me home...but alas...this was not to be. By mile 5 my heart rate was already in the mid 170's. Now this by itself is not a cause for concern for me usually...I hit 170's when I'm on goal pace no problem...but I was way off goal pace...I was struggling for the 8:45's I was getting...and at that moment I knew there was no PR to be had that day...and I strangely was entirely ok with it. At mile 6 another runner came up beside me and kept pace...I looked over and was overjoyed to see Mike running next to me. He could tell I was hurting and told me he wanted to finish his first race with me...I wanted to cry. He was feeling great and could easily have left my *ss...but love won over competitiveness and he hung around (minus a few reminders from me to slow the F down!). We finished together...I was just grateful to be done...and he was super fact now he is seriously contemplating doing a full marathon...oh crap...what did I start?! But we finished out our time in Vegas with a show for the kids (Tournament of Kings), a large Pina Colada for me, and a nap for was a great weekend overall. I was especially blessed to share it with my extended tri family and also a great group from Rehab United (I'm totally biased since my coach, Bryan Hill, is the co-owner of this amazing establishment).
But now I'm home and reality has hit that I have another half marathon less then 6 weeks away (Carlsbad)...and I would like to do well there! And only a few short weeks later I will be attempting my first century ride followed stupidly the next morning by another half marathon...which I am told I will run sub 1:40...sure thing Bry! ;) So it is back to the on, workouts on...only some rest and crappy food...I know it's the holidays...but tri season is just around the corner and I have a lot of crushing to do next season (in my head at least) onward I go into this crazy lifestyle I have so whole-heartedly embraced.
Until next time...thanks for reading...see you out there!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hey! It's a medal...a.k.a...Mission Bay race report...

These last 3 weeks have been solely devoted to speed training. Since I spent the entire first part of the season training for a half IM and then did an Oly in September, it was time to get the body used to going fast again. And all I can really say about that is DAMN! That crap hurts! Bryan generally has me train by heartrate and some pace goal stuff...but for the most part I get to chill on the bike with the HR in the 160's while doing my TT stuff...and the run is usually in the 170's...definitely not a comfortable feeling. Since I was used to the longer, slower stuff...this is tough. This morning I woke up totally not wanting to race...but honestly, that is how I have felt for the last few races and pulled out a good strangely I took this as a promising sign. I had no delusions of a podium finish today since I know this race brings out the fast girls...everyone loves to race Mission Bay as it's usually the last race of the season for most (except my awesome Kona friends!). So my only goal out there was to have the best race I could muster up...and to not hold back.

Upon waking I zoomed into race mode and got all my stuff together, got dressed, got the fam together, and headed out caravan style with Bex and Erika. Bex graciously auctioned off her entry for our CAF team (instead she swam 1000 meters and ran 9 miles!!!) and Erika was swimming as part of a relay. Mom raced today as well and Mike and the kiddos came along as race support. So we all headed down to Mission Bay and made it there and parked within 15 minutes...even got great parking! When I went into transition I set up and did my normal walk around...I noticed that there were SO many racks for Wave 2 (my wave 25-29). I glanced at the bikes on them and didn't see too many tri maybe there are a lot of newer folks here. I chatted for a while, went back to the fam at the RU tent, did my warmup, dressed and started to casually walk to the swim start. As I was walking the announcer happened to mention that all 25-29 women should be in the water...oh crap!! I threw on my goggles and flew down the ramp and into the water...I didn't even notice if it was cold because I was afraid of missing my wave!

I made it in time and the gun quickly went off. My goal for the swim was to actually push myself...I usually end of letting myself cruise the distance (even a sprint) so I tried really hard to keep a good pace. I saw a few girls pull away and knew I couldn't hold them, but soon enough I felt like I had dropped most of the pack. I really didn't think of much while I was swimming except I could see this chick on my right side doing backstroke. I figured she was newer and was freaking out about her wetsuit. What I also noticied is that I was having a hard time dropping her! She was backstroking like a freaking champ! It made me so I threw in another gear and kicked it out of there. As I came out of the water I heard mom yelling that I had done a great job...with that I knew I had a fairly good position out of the water (Momma don't lie!). I entered transition and only saw 3 other girls there (the first place girl was already gone!).

I headed out on my bike quickly and passed 2 girls right at the beginning. I didn't know exactly where I was...but knew I was close to the front of my age group. The bike course for Mission Bay is actually nice except there are a lot of turns in the beginning...hard to get down in aero until after Seaworld. But I tried to jam it as fast as I could. I couldn't read my heartrate because the monitor was still wet so I just went off speed. I didn't want my mph to fall under 20 if I could help it (average pace ended up being fastest yet). As I flew around Fiesta I played leapfrog with some little boys (the under 24 boys) and silently laughed as I chicked them. Then I made it off the island. I was stoked because no other female had passed me yet. If you know me, you know the bike is my achilles heel in this sport. I always lose my races on the bike...but I'm finally putting in the work on it and seeing improvement...and it's a great feeling! I came around the corner as I exited Seaworld and this other girl in my age group passed me. I worried a little but just tried to hold onto her as we came over the bridge and into transition...I figured that hopefully she wasn't a great runner and I could catch her there. I flew into T2 and out as fast as I could.

I headed out onto the run sub 6:30 min/mile. I knew I wouldn't hold this pace but figured I would go with it as long as I could...which wasn't long. I slowed down to my normal 5K pace between 7 and 7:45 (overall avg was 7:24 min/mile). I could see the other girl about 100 yards in front of me and set about trying to close the gap. I was feeling great...HR monitor was finally reading and showing 170's...which was I just kept going at it. But even when I tried to push it I couldn't catch that girl to save my life! It was frustrating but I really didn't know where I was in the I just made sure no one else passed me! As I came into the home stretch towards the finish line I knew there wasn't anyone in my age group behind me. I crossed the line and saw the same girl standing there with 2 others who clearly had finished racing. At that point I was pretty sure I had taken 4th place. I was excited, but also disappointed that I had lost 3rd by such a narrow margin.

Fast forward to the awards ceremony...low and behold they gave awards 5 deep in my age group since there were over 100 girls in the group! SCORE!! That means I got my very own medal! So needless to say I'm happy with my performance, stoked about the medal, and ready for 2 more weeks of speed training going into Women's Tri. That will be my last tri of the season and I will definitely be trying for a 1-3rd medal...end out the season right...and hopefully as a reminder to next season of where we are going.

Thanks to everyone who cheered and yelled out there today. It was so helpful and motivating! Loved seeing all my buddies out there tearing up the many PR's today. Thanks to my family for dealing with my race day moodiness. Thanks to Bryan and RU for being amazing support and coaching. And thanks to Bex and Mike for the last "victory 5K" after the made me run MORE after the race. :) Anyway, now looking forward to a restful evening with good food and good friends. Onto the next!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Getting the lead out...

So I never really thought about the recovery part of doing a longer distance triathlon. I've read other blogs that talk about loosing the "pop" in one's legs (Whit) after a full ironman but I always that something reserved for those that pushed themselves the full distance. I figured I would skate away from this half IM business as right as rain...not fresh per se...but feeling fine and jump back into training with no problem.

Not so body and mind had/has other ideas entirely. My first run post half IM was intended to be a 4 mile easy run. Now my normal idea of easy is a 9 to 9:30 min/mile pace...but I honestly couldn't push myself lower then a 10 min/mile. Ok, fine...I could tolerate this. It had only been 4 days since the race. My body wants to go slow...ok...I'll deal. Well as I got about 1.5 miles in I started to get a side-ache. I looked at my watch thinking that maybe I had started going too fast...ummmm...hello!! My watch said I was running an 11 min/mile! WTF!??!! Fine!! So I slowed down a little more...ugh...11:30 min/mile...I haven't seen this type of pace since I first started running in 2007...fine...whatever...let's just finish this thing. So I keep going...I glance at my watch more frequently because I'm really tired and I'm running so dang slow! At around 2.5 body is screaming...I want to stop...I want to side is I do. I walk. I stop. I rest. Wow...I haven't had to walk on a run in years...years people. THIS is humbling. My body is telling me exactly what it wants...and I am forced to listen. I ended up only finish 3.85 miles in over 46 minutes...that is an AWFUL pace for me. But I chalk it up to recovery...tired legs...and give thanks for what my body has already accomplished.

The next day I take off in order to give my body the benefit of the doubt. I worked that night and felt ok being up all night. When I got home the next morning I only intended to sleep a few hours since I was fairly sure I was going to get called off. Again, my body had other plans and I slept until 4:30 p.m. Wow...but I did get called off so I decided to do an easy interval run that Bryan had written for me. It was a 20 minute warmup in my hilly neighborhood. I took the 11 min/miles with a grain of salt considering the hills. When my first interval rolled around I started to pick up the pace. I intended to run the intervals at half marathon race pace...about an 8:20 min/mile. Again...I was foiled by my body. I could only run the intervals at a max pace of 9:30 min/mile...this was getting really old. Whatever...I finished out the intervals and ran the rest of the time back to my house. I was exhausted and frustrated...but was getting the idea that I possibly could be in for more then I imagined. I took the next day off again...figuring that maybe my body was screaming for more rest. My nutrition was great, I was on top of my vitamins...and being fairly good about hydration...but I simply could NOT go fast to save my life.

Today was my first swim since the race. It was supposed to be an hour swim. No intervals...just swimming with some drills. I swam my first 500 without really looking at my felt good to be in the water. The next set I started timing my 100's. Before Barb's I could sustain easily 1:30's per 100. No problem...when really trying I could push into the 1:20 zone. My first 100 was 2:00...ok...fine, I wasn't really trying anyway. So I tried to push a little harder on my next set. 1:58...for real??!! Ok...let's kick it up a notch...1:57...ugh...ok, no holds barred...let's go race pace...1:48!!! Geez! I swam a few more laps and got body was just not on board today. I swam a total of 30 rockstar there! Oh well...I swam, right?

Tomorrow is a brick day...hill repeats for an hour followed by a 45 min run with intervals. I no longer have any expectations of my performance other then to do the time. I will not fret over my pace, my legs, my lungs...anything. I will just be grateful for the ability to simply move forward. I am so happy to be able to put one foot in front of the other. My body has done so much for me that I finally realize that I'm going to have to cut it some slack. I will not be in top form for a while longer...and that's ok. My next race is still over a month away...I have plenty of time to find my speed again...and I know I will. As long as I take care of myself, sleep when I need to, stay on top of my nutrition, work out smart...I will be ok. I will get there...eventually. And never again will I underestimate the power of recovery!!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Finding my limits...Barb's Race 2010

I finally finished it. Barb's Race is was a LOOONNNGGG road there...and now it's over. I still can't believe it's done and I have to move on now. My life is no longer defined as "training for Barb's Race." Now I have to set my sites on other goals and figure out my next move...but for now I'll just post my race report so I never forget the moments I had at this was a whole different world out there.

The entire trip was amazing...I had a blast...and I hope to never forget it. We left on Wednesday morning...early. We drove up to a good friends house in Vacaville and stretched our travel weary legs. I tried to go on a short 30 minute jog and wound up calling Bryan in a panic. It was ridiculously hot there and I suffered way more then I was used to. Bryan gave me some good tips on how to deal with the heat which involved slamming even more sodium and water then I already was. I felt like a bloated cow but hoped it would all pay off on race day.

The next day we relocated to Santa Rosa and our fantastic Motel 6 with Bex and Randi. We went on a "short" 11 mile ride that was supposed to only be 30 minutes...but we got lost...go figure :) We followed that up with a 1 mile run and called it a day. Bryan had suggested we take an ice we did. Um...let me just say that this was my first ice bath ever. OWWW!!! It was pretty painful up until the point where my lower body went numb. After 5 minutes I was out of there...and my legs felt pretty good.

On Friday we drove over to the swim start and met up with a bunch of TCSD'ers...the feeling of being surrounded by our "family" helped me calm down and feel more at home. After a very short swim we rented some canoes with the Lewis' and paddled around like was perfect. Mike and Jason played on a rope swing overhanging the was pretty funny. If we hadn't had a race the next day I know Bex and I would have joined in the fun...but the last thing we needed was to get hurt. From there we drove to the expo at Windsor High School. It was hot and crowded there as we checked into the race, set up our T2, and listened to the pre-race talk. They showed a short video from the previous 10 years of Barb's Race...the emotions got to us as we all had tears slipping down our faces...we were in bad shape. I also realized I was one of only 5 cancer survivors racing Barb's Race this year...kind of a special feeling as the whole race is centered on raising funds for cancer research. Barb herself was there to welcome us and say a few words. It was nice to know we were racing for a reason. We went to Applebee's for dinner and slammed our last pre-race boost powder and yet more water. Bex and I shared some steak, riblets, and carbs...and then it was off to pack and sleep. Before I went to bed I said a few prayers and spoke to my Grandma (who died with I was 7). I told her that when I felt a calm wash over me on race day that I would know she was with me...

The next morning I woke up in a complete calm state of mind. I knew then that Grandma had heard me...I was ready. I ran into Bex's room and started jumping on her bed. I was so excited that in less then 12 hours this journey would be over!! We got ready, packed up, and left for the river. I had preloaded my iPod with pre-race music and I listened to it all the way there. It really helped keep all my nerves at bay. When we arrived I was overwhelmed at the race atmosphere. People of all shapes and sizes surrounded us. So many Ironmen and women...I was in awe!! We set up our T1 area and began our preparations. Sunscreen went on, bodies were marked, porta potties were visited, food was consumed, stretches occurred...and it was time to say goodbye to our families. With a few last words we entered the water. I had been calm up until then...but all at once a wave of panic hit. I focused on Grandma and Breezy (Mark's daughter that was killed in a car accident in May...we had her bracelet on and her name on our calves)...and I was calm again.

The water was warm as I did a few warm up strokes. Then without any warning the horn went off. I was caught by surprise but quickly put my head down and started swimming. It was beautiful. I felt strong and confident. As I went I dodged people from the previous waves and just kept going. My hands hit bottom a few times but before I knew it I was at the turnaround. I never actually looked at my watch until I exited the water. Not bad...36 minutes...just 1 minute over my target time. Awesome! I ran up the ramp to the wetsuit strippers...they are the best things ever!!! I wish we had these at every race! My suit was off in a flash!! I shoved it in the bag and ran over to my bike. I saw Mike there and gave him no warning and threw the bag and wetsuit at him...I kind of took him by surprise...but he was a trooper and continued to encourage me. I ran out of T1 and tried to get on my bike...but the hill got the best of me and I ended up running my bike up to the flat area....

The bike is usually my worst of the 3 sports. I have always called myself a slow biker, just barely hanging on. This day was different. I felt strong out there...and I was having fun! The rolling hills kept me busy as I constantly shifted gears and had to focus on the turns and other riders. I passed way more riders then I thought I would. I was having a blast. It was 32 miles in before I even glanced at my watch and realized I was on time for a fantastic bike split (for me). I flew up Chalk Hill (well flew in my terms)...and as I descended my bike started to make a horrible sound. I didn't feel anything different except the brakes were a little off, but they still worked. I could see that I hadn't just kept rolling. The whole time I was promising Bella (my bike) that when we got home I would give her new tires and give her the best bath ever if she would just get me through the last 10 miles and into T2. She heard me and we sailed into T2 with no time 3:09...only 9 minutes slower then my "pie in the sky" bike split goal...and I later figured out the noise was someone's race sticker had gotten stuck between my brake and my tire...whew!

I set off on the run feeling amazing. I had consumed all of my Infinit (one double batch with 600 calories) as well as some Sharkies and Sport Beans. I was a little behind on the water but figured I could make it up. The first mile flew by around 7:15 min/mile (wayyyyyy too fast to start out)... When I realized this I slowed down as I came into the first aid station. I took 2 cups of water, one for my head and one for me. I felt ok but I was starting to slow down already. My face was feeling really flushed as I headed into the first hilly area. About 3 miles in I knew I was in trouble. I had originally planned on shooting for 8:30's for the first 5 miles, 8:15's for the next 5 miles, and sub 8's for the last 3.1. I knew I was totally capable of this...but now I was struggling to stay under a 9 min/mile. In that moment I realized I was not going to be able to get a sub 2 hour half marathon this day...and I simply adjusted my expectations. Instead of beating up on myself and being disappointed I just thanked my body for what it had already done for me and asked it to just get me to the finish line in under 6 hours. I looked at my watch and quickly did the math...I knew that unless I bonked really hard I could get in around 5:55 or so. I was so happy with this I didn't even feel bad that I wasn't going to make my original 5:30 goal (a goal that could only have been made if ALL things had gone perfectly...but this is real life...and it's not perfect). I struggled for the rest of the run. The heat, the hills, and my inability to get in enough water really did me in. I later realized I had taken in way too much Infinit without enough water during the bike and now my body was feeling it. I was bloated and cramping. I did what I could to get down 1.5 GU's and some water and Gatorade. I took every opportunity I could to get wet and there were plenty of spectators to help...lots of hoses and water guns on the course. It was great. I saw my family as I headed out on my second lap and their support was exactly what I needed to complete the last 4.4 miles. I also saw Bex, Randi, and Kara out on the course...knowing we were all suffering together made it bearable. As my watch beeped to let me know I only had 0.1 miles to go I felt a feeling of elation...and then felt awful because I still had 0.1 miles to go...until you have been there you don't understand how far that really is! I rounded the corner to the finish line and could see my mom and Mike there. I heard my family yelling my name and I lost it. I crossed the finish line and fell into my mom's arms as she put my medal on me. Barb (of Barb's Race) place a purple orchid lei around my neck as I was the first survivor to cross the finish line. Mike and mom held me up as I was crying and had a hard time walking...I was so done. I found my family...sat down...had some water...poured some more water over me...and began to wait for the rest of my girls. My family was so proud and their love and support was overwhelming...I can never thank them enough. Total time 5:56.

I was there when Bex crossed the finish line to put her medal on her (being a survivor has it's benefits)...and we hugged...and cried. We waited for Randi and took some photos...then we went back to the hotel. I was spent. I was sore, hot, tired, and hungry. But I felt so accomplished. We went to Applebee's again for dinner that night...our table was absolutely covered with food. I have never seen so much food on one table...we had to keep explained that no we weren't crazy...we had just finished a half ironman (as if our race shirts didn't already tell the story). I slept like a baby that night and woke up refreshed (might have been the ice bath...who knows). I really enjoyed the rest of my vacation and am well on my way to recovery now.

It has been a few days since my race and I am still so happy with how I did. As my girls start to sign up for more races I am forced to ponder my future in this sport. Randi is going to embark on her first Ironman journey next year and I am so happy to standby and watch...and cheer. Bex will compete in another 70.3 in New Orleans next April...and again...I will standby and cheer...and support, and encourage. But I won't be joining them. Not for a while. After talking with my family and my coach I have come to the decision that I will be focusing on short races for the next 2 and a half years until my daughter goes to kindergarten. Not only will this maximize my time with my family until both of my children are in school and I can train while they are gone anyway, but I can focus on speed. I am entering my 4th season of triathlon and I have yet to set foot on a podium for my sport. I would really like to spend some time up there. At Solana Beach I realized I have the capacity to be fast and go even faster. I have the mental toughness to push my limits on the short circuit...and I'm hoping that these next few years of training will increase this toughness to allow me to push for longer. The girls I look up to in this sport rocked short course before they started rocking longer distances...and I hope to follow them. My Ironman is not over...just put on hold for now. I know I want to go to Clearwater...and eventually Kona. But for now I want to kill it at shorter races. I want to focus on half marathons as well...Boston will come later. I really want to see what I have in me...find my extra gears...and really use them. I want to race with the big out I come!!!

But all joking aside, I am hopeful for the rest of this season and the next few ahead of me. But first I have to thank all those who helped me get here. First, my and Mike and my kids. They have given up so much to help me reach my crazy goals...and I am forever grateful to them all. Without them I never would have accomplished a sub 6 hour half ironman on my first try. Thank you all...I love you. To my friends who have gone without my company for a while...thanks. I know I have been MIA...but I'm back. I nights, family bbq's...the works...let's plan it. To my training partners...thank you for pushing me to my have made me the triathlete I am...and I look forward to still training with you all when we can...and to cheering you on in the meantime. You are all amazing athletes and I can't wait to see what you accomplish in the future. And last, but not least...Bryan, Rehab United, and Catalyst Endurance Coaching...thank you, thank you, thank you. You have helped me reach the potential I am capable of at this point and I know that you will help me do great things in the future. You are an amazing, inspiring coach and I look forward to many more years of fabulous, crazy coaching from you. You were the luckiest thing I stumbled upon this season and I am so grateful I did.

As I finish I just want to say another thanks to everyone that encouraged, inspired, and pushed me to get where I am now. Everyone has helped me on my journey...I am looking forward to the future...I love you all...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A change of heart...and head...

If you follow my blog and that of my best buddy will find that we have both had a similar change of intention when it comes to this upcoming race. Although I had mine before the events of this weekend...these events further changed my mind as to what is important to me. So here's the full story...

My son, Shanne, will be 6 in July. He is a rough and tumble little boy. He is strong willed, stubborn, and difficult at times. Lately he has been getting into a lot of trouble for stealing and lying. We were searching and searching for a reason and cure...when I had an epiphany one night at work that quite possibly I was the reason and the cure. He had gotten really bad once I started totally devoting my life to the sport of triathlon and training for Barb's race. Don't get me wrong...I see my kids often...but I wasn't really SEEING them. I realized at this point that I needed to refocus a bit and truly spend quality time with my family before it all slipped away...and then came my true clarifying moment...

On Thursday I picked Shanne up from school and he told me that he had slipped while playing with water and hit the back of his head. I asked him if he was ok...looked at his head...and we moved on. He was acting fine and wasn't complaining of any pain. Thursdays are our open water swim nights so we headed down to De Anza Cove with the kids and Mike. Mike was going to venture into the water as well and my friend Alli came to watch the kids while we were all swimming. Around 6:50 I came out of the water with my group to find Shanne sitting on the grass holding his head. He was yelling/crying about his head hurting. I was a little worried as grandma had him lay down on a towel. He pulled another towel over his head as the light was bothering his eyes. I laid down in front of him face-to-face and asked him about his head. He just kept saying "Mommy, my head HURTS!" I stood him up so we could leave and as I did so he started vomiting...that was it. As a nurse I know full well that a bonk on the head coupled with a headache and vomiting is a one way ticket to the ER. Period. So we grabbed our stuff....loaded him in the car...and left. Luckily I have wonderful friends and Bex grabbed Addy and took her home with her so we wouldn't have to take her with us.

On the way to the ER Shanne kept fading in and out of sleep. When I would ask him questions about his name, where we were, his favorite color (hey, I'm still a nurse)...he would answer me begrudgingly and yell before falling asleep again. He was also vomiting when he would keep his eyes open long was awful. Everything inside of me was terrified of the signs and symptoms he was having. This was something that I couldn't fix. I could only wait, watch, and keep assessing. As a mom I was fully freaking out...the mom and nurse were waging a war in my second the mom would win...the next the nurse. All of this equals the worst car ride of my entire life thus far.

We got to the ER and I carried him inside and up to the window. I told the man at the desk what had happened and they gave me a bucket to catch the vomit that kept coming (sorry for those that don't handle gross stuff as well). They told me it would be a few moments. Soon after mom and Mike came in and they called us into the triage area. They quickly assessed him and gave him some sub lingual Zofran for the nausea. Once we were back in the waiting room Shanne still kept trying to sleep as we struggled to keep him awake. We needed a new bucket since he kept vomiting and when we went to ask for another one the doctor came into the waiting room and took us back.

The rest of the night was a blur of doctors, nurses, and CT scans. The doctors told us Shanne could sleep so we finally stopped fighting him and just held the bucket when he inevitably threw up. Mike went home to get Addy, feed the dogs, and wait. The doctor came in to tell us that Shanne had a skull fracture and they were calling in the attending radiologist to be sure there was no bleed. There was an area they were concerned about and wanted to be sure it was benign before they released him. So we waited some more. Finally around midnight they released us home with the same diagnosis of a skull fracture and concussion. They gave us the list of reasons to return.

We went home and set up a bed for Shanne on the floor in our room. He went straight to bed as did we. A few hours later he started vomiting in his sleep. I picked him up, cleaned him up and put him back to bed. This happened again a few hours later. Once it was time to get up, Shanne didn't want to move. I put him in our bed and turned the TV on for him. We all kept going into the room to check on him but he was either sleeping or vomiting. Mike called Balboa to make a follow up appointment and once the operator heard the situation she told us that she would have a nurse call us. The nurse on the phone spoke to me and then called back to say that she wanted us to bring him back to the ER as he was not waking up and was still vomiting. So Mike and I packed up and went back.

The wait was fairly quick as they fast tracked us to the back of the ER. The doctor came in and after a quick exam told us that we could either do another CT and expose him to more radiation after which they would probably still admit him...or just admit him for observation. We went with a straight admit. So we waited...the rest of the hospital stay consisted of Shanne sleeping and us waiting more...

As the day went on I had a lot of time to think. I thought about what this training had taken from me...namely time with my family. But it had also taken more that I didn't realize before. The exhausting training had taken away the original reason that I started this sport...because it was fun. I love pushing my limits...but when those limits are so far that they cause me to be's not worth it. My kids are young...too young to be training this much.

Shanne woke up the next morning as if a switch had been flipped...he was mostly his old, bouncy self. I think the prayers, thoughts, and wishes of all our friends and family finally caught up with him...that and he's five and extremely resilient. As we went home that morning and I watched my kids walk hand in hand out of the hospital...things finally fell into place. THIS was my life...these kids, my husband, my mom, my dogs, my family, my friends...even my work (not my job, but my work as a nurse)...THESE were the important things. Triathlon is a huge part of my life...but it is NOT my life.

Triathlon is something I do to stay fit and healthy and able to keep up with my life. It is something I do to show my children that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. It is how I prove to myself that I can reach goals that before I felt were unobtainable. It is not a punishing ground that I should dread to tread on every day. It is not the sole purpose of my life and the daily decisions I make (though it had mostly come to this). When it stopped being fun...I stopped wanting to do it.

This is all going to change. Now...keep in mind I still have a half ironman to finish. But as Bex says...I could do it tomorrow with my eyes closed. I have the time and training under my belt to do it. But I still don't want to do it halfway. I'll finish the training that Bryan has laid out for me. I may skimp a bit here and there in honor of holidays and birthdays and important moments...but I will finish it. After that I'm going to sit down with Bryan and have a long talk about goals and what I think is feasible as far as training from here on out. Maybe I'll put a few goals on hold until the kids are a little older...they are only this young once...and I don't want to miss it. I want and need to find the love of my sport again...Bex told me today that she found it again...I'm not there yet. Hopefully I'll get there this next week...but these things take they say. But I'll find it...I know I will...and when I do...I'll balance it a whole lot better then I have. I promise.

It is sad that it took all this to show me what was important...but I'm just grateful the outcome was a good one. My son is ok, my family is still behind me, and I have the most amazing friends a girl could ask for...that's a pretty good place to be in...and a pretty good place to start....

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Halfway there...RNR San Diego

Two posts in one! But I figured I should share why I'm athlete before I share my first race here it goes. Rock N' Roll San Diego had it's first half marathon today and I was lucky enough to gain an entry...that is reason enough for a party. But in all reality I was pretty stoked to be able to run another half marathon on home turf and to have at least one month of solid tri training courtesy of Bryan Hill behind me in order to back it all up. I ran 1:57 in Carlsbad and knew I could knock a few minutes off that time. I wanted to run 1:50...but secretly I really wanted to do 1:49. But that would be an 8 minute PR in only 5 months. My longest run prior to the race was 8 miles. I've done a lot of speedwork, but no long runs to speak of. So I knew it would be interesting. I also knew I had to maintain at least an 8:24 average to reach the 1:50 goal. Off the bike this isn't too difficult for me, but on cold legs I wasn't sure how those earlier miles would treat me. Also, a time of 1:50 would be halfway to my crazier goal of qualifying for Boston late next year (nuts, I know...but sometimes I like to aim high). So overall, I came into the race today ready to hurt, sweat, cry, and possibly puke...I hadn't ruled that out.

When the alarm blared at 2:45 I crossed the crying off my list. Geez! Why the hell do I do this to myself?! But up I was and quickly dressed and got ready. I had taken my trusty Immodium the night before and all was well in IBS world. So I grabbed some food (egg whites and half and Optimal bar), grabbed my gear check back, said goodbye to the hubby and headed out with mom, Bex, and J. We drove down to Qualcomm where we promptly boarded an MTS bus along with Linda. It was a longer trip then last year to get to Balboa park, but we got there with plenty of time to spare. Bex and I marveled at the massive amounts of porta potties available and the water, fruit, and bagels that were offered so many times (it doesn't take much to impress us that early in the morning). I kept trying to push away the nerves that I had over the idea of really trying to make myself hurt during the race...I just concentrated on getting ready and warmed up.

We met up with the RU crowd and our coach to get a proper warm up and stretch session in. This was probably the first time I did a REAL warmup...and it really did make a difference. After leaving our RU peeps Bex, J, and I headed back to the bathroom line again. While waiting we met a few people trying to BQ...really inspiring...and I kept thinking how happy I was that I still had a year before I planned to inflict that much pain upon myself. Once the National Anthem was sung and the corrals started moving I kept watching for my corral to move. They were doing wave starts and I figured that I still had time to go to the bathroom and catch the 1:50 pace group too. But the next time I looked up I saw the 1:50 sign jogging away. I made a split second decision, hugged Bex and J, and ran to the corrals. I figured I could pee in 13.1 miles.

I spent the next 5 minutes in panic because I was having a hard time making my way through the crowd to catch up to the 1:50 pacer. I knew that I was being chipped timed, but for some reason it was extremely and suddenly important to me to be RIGHT with this group and possibly in front of them. I had my Garmin on, but I wanted and "in your face" reality check with my goal running in front of or behind me for the next 13 miles.

I finally caught up to them and settled in for the ride. I was feeling great as we ran towards Mercy...I glanced at the roof to see if I could see any coworkers, but no one was up there. I had my iPod going at full blast and had made a "PR" mix the night before so I could have all my inspirational songs playing for the whole run. I was feeling amazing and pulled ahead of the 1:50 group as we rounded a I do not remember many specifics about the course as I was fully zoned for most of the race...

My next memory was coming up to the turn off for the 163, I don't remember what mile this was. As the full marathoners headed straight into downtown, the half marathon peeled off onto the freeway. I have never been so happy to NOT be running a full marathon as I was at that moment...again, thank God I have another year. I was so happy in fact that I high fived the cop sitting on his motorcycle and thanked him. He looked fairly perplexed as I ran away. As I eased onto the 163 I realized that this was a much longer stretch then I had been required to run for the full marathon the previous year...oh well...better crank up the tunes. As I came under the overpass I looked down onto another section of the freeway in time to see the handcyclists doing the full marathon as they came onto the freeway from another entrance. Up ahead were thousands of was a beautiful site...gave me the chills...ok, moment over...keep running.

The 163 was tough, graded, angled, and long. But there were a few high points on that stretch of race. First was the Navy water station. Seeing all those servicemen and women in their uniforms made me so proud. I teared up a little as I took a Cytomax from one of them. I get a little emotional during hard and doing my best kind of leaves me a little raw I guess. I downed the drink with a GU and got back into my rhythm. I was still in front of the 1:50 group and feeling good. A few minutes later I started to see trucks, bikes, scooters, etc. pulling up the road beside me as they led the way for the first place males. Seeing those men run was beyond ridiculous. They literally flew...I don't know that their feet touched the ground. They were barely sweating or showing any signs of working hard...superhuman...and so inspiring.

After they passed me and I came up on the end of the 163 I was swiftly passed by the 1:50 pacer. I went into full panic mode at this point. I ran to catch up and was horrified when I glanced at my watch and realized they were running sub 8 minute miles...wait...we only have to average 8:24 to make the time goal...why the HELL are we running this fast. I briefly considered letting them go...but then I stopped and asked myself the same questions I ask Bex when we are running. Are you hurt? Are you dying? Can you keep going? Ok...then shut up and run. So I did...I shut up my head and I ran. It hurt a bit and I knew I still have a while to go...but I ran. I knew my body could do I just had to convince my mind.

An amazing thing happened after that...I passed the pacer again. I think he slowed down, but hey, I'll take it. So as we came up Friar's Road I got my second wind. It was around mile 8 by now. It was at this point that Bryan had said to let loose. I had managed 8:30's up until that point because I knew I would negative split and feel better later. So once I passed that 8 mile mark I sped up to 8 minute miles. I was feeling great, another GU was down along with Cytomax from every aid station. 2 more miles later I was face to face with the 10 mile marker. I glanced at my watch...1:26...ok so to make my goal I have to run a 24 minute 5K. 5K PR is 23:21...this should be a race to watch folks. I gave myself another pep talk...mostly about how it was only 3.1 miles and how bad could it really hurt...and I let it go. I knew I should try to keep sub 8's the whole way to give myself some breathing room. So that's what I did. I also resorted to another race technique I use and just started to pick off runners. I see someone faster, I try to catch them, pass them, pick another on and so forth. This was how I made it through the next few miles. Around mile 12 I began to see familiar faces. I also saw our Team Excel and that gave me an extra boost. As I rounded the corner and saw the 13 mile marker I knew I was going to make my goal. My watch said 1:49...but since I couldn't see the seconds I didn't know if it would turn to 1:50 as I was coming down the I just let it all go. I looked later and know now that I was running sub 6's coming down the chute. I crossed the finish line and my watch still read 1:49...nothing like hitting a goal on the head. I threw my arms over my head, mainly because I couldn't breath...and walked to get my medal. I grabbed all the food and water I could and quickly headed out to see everyone else finish and find Bryan.

Overall an amazing race for me. It has been so great to be able to finally see what my body is capable of. I now know I can go faster. I know that I will have an even better time in Vegas in December and I know I WILL make it to Boston...bring on the PR's!

Oh, and P.S...I never did go back to pee...

I guess I can call myself an athlete...

I'm not a natural all. This fact may surprise those of you who know me now...but not those who have always known me. Specifically my mother...just spend any length of time with us and she will gladly jump into the stories of my inability to be an athlete...seriously...she just did it last my coach. Love you mom!! But really, all kidding aside, growing up I sucked at sports. I was slow and clumsy. My head was never in the game and I never really "got it." I played baseball in 3rd grade and got the "Most Improved Player" award...if that tells you anything. But despite my utter lack of athletic ability, I always loved sports. I loved the feeling of pushing my limits, of doing things that not everyone else did. This may also explain why I was a springboard diver, a waterpolo player, and a wrestler (on the men's team) in high school. I didn't do the "normal" just wasn't my thing.

When high school was over I had to find a new outlet. Luckily for me I worked at the local gym and took up bodybuilding for a NOT a good idea for me...I bulk up way too fast and looked ridiculous. One cross country move to FL fixed that and led me in another direction. When I moved to Miami and was surrounded by the beautiful people and the gym rats I was compelled to become a gym rat myself. I spent hours upon hours at the gym. It was my social time and workout in one. I loved being one of the girls everyone else watched...yeah, I know conceited, but honest. I even met the women who would introduce me to my husband at that I guess it was fate.

When I moved to Key West and got married there weren't any fancy gyms to be I took up running. Well...sort of. I signed up with Team in Training to run the New Orleans Rock N' Roll marathon in 2004. I would run maybe one day during the week (not the 3-4 runs they told us to do) and would then try to keep up on the group runs on the weekend. One weekend we were running 8 miles and my knees gave out. The military doctor told me that I should stick to 5K's...that my body wasn't made to run long. So I switched to the walkers group. Then during a 15 mile training walk I noticed that I had to stop to pee WAYYY too many times...took a pregnancy test that afternoon, and BAM! No more marathon for was pregnancy and weight gain for me!

I put all athletics on the back burner for a long time, but when Shanne turned one, Mike deployed and I had new incentive to workout out. I fell back on my gym rat past and quickly dropped the extra baby weight that had been left over. Mike came home and was very pleased with the pleased in fact that I was soon pregnant again...pregancy and weight gain again...oh joy! But this time was a little different. I was working at the hospital by this point and had met some crazy people that were into this thing called triathlon. I had heard of this craziness before but had never seriously considered the idea. But now that we were in San Diego (triathlon capital) I felt like maybe I needed to change my M.O. I convinced my mom and signed us up for our first triathlon in October 2007 (I was due in April 2007). I swam a lot during my pregnancy, but once I had Addison I bought a bike and started my personal version of training. I really thought I was killing it out there, but when I finally finished that darn sprint triathlon, I realized I had a looonnngggg way to go.

The other realization I had shortly after the triathlon was that I was a very slow runner. Mike was deploying again, nursing school was starting, so I signed up for my first marathon. Perfectly logical idea I are slow, therefore scare the crap out of yourself into training to become faster...or at least to go further. I was blessed enough to have a wonderful, wonderful friend and training partner named Lauree. Lauree is an ultrarunner...she is crazy. She runs 60 mile races for fun...perfect. So Lauree and my other crazy friend Jessica (not an ultra runner, just a super fast multi-marathoner) took me under their wings and guided me through the epicness of training for ones first marathon. Lauree was my Buddha, Jessica was my realist. It was a match made in proverbial Heaven. They brought me to that start line as ready as I could have possibly been...and they both stayed by my side the entire 26.2 was amazing. I would love to say I had a fantastic time, felt great, and rocked the race course. But truthfully, I didn't. I had major GI issues (big surprise there) and seriously felt awful for a large portion of that race...but something happened to me as I came down the finishing shoot and realized that I was about to finish my first marathon. I had set an outlandish goal for myself and had actually reached it...crazy, empowering, amazing, unreal, was surreal. I loved it...and I was triathlon, to running...I was in love with it all.

The Jackie you all know now is definitely an athlete. In the context of San Diego and the triathlon/running community here...I'm not fantastic...but from where I've come from...I'm doing pretty well. I finally hired a coach about a month ago and wish I had done it sooner. The gains I have seen in one month rival what took me a year to accomplish alone. I am training for my first "official" half ironman in July and am finally becoming the runner I secretly hoped I might possibly be. I have many, many more crazy goals to accomplish and am excited to one day reach them all...I'm just happy I have a lifetime to keep trying...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The evolution of my unknown identity...the story of Nurse Jackie

So there are these three prominent parts of me...the family side, the nurse side, and the athletic side. If one is to understand me (or if I want to fully begin to understand myself) then I need to start at the beginning...maybe by getting into what got me here the pieces will fall into place...puzzles anyone?

The family side is pretty cut and dry...I always knew I wanted to be married with two kids (always knew they would be a boy and a girl too). I knew I wanted to achieve said goal before the ripe old age of 25...check...done. Girl meets boy, girl falls in love with boy (who luckily falls in love back)...girl and boy get married (quickly might I add)...girl and boy have son...two years later, girl and boy have daughter. Done, end of family story. Well, not really...but that is stuff for another post...

The nurse side is a little trickier and probably even more personal to explain. When I was born I had some problems. Not simple problems either...nope...I had to be difficult (shocking, I know). I was born with an extremely rare case of times for mom and dad I'm sure. I spent a lot of time in the hospital as a young child. Most of it I don't really remember...but clearly something stuck. Ever since I could talk I told everyone I wanted to be a doctor...a pediatrician more accurately. I wanted to spend my days taking care of sick kids...possibly masochistic...but it was what I wanted. I focused on this goal all the way through my first year of college...then for some unknown reason I suddenly had an epiphany...wait...doctors aren't the ones at the patients side day in and day out...those are the nurses!! I don't want to be a doctor, I want to be a nurse!! So I promptly marched into the counselors office and changed my major from pre-med to biology...I figured I'd change it to nursing in a bit once I had some time to settle into this life-changing decision. But then, like it always does, said life got in the way. I moved to FL with my family (another long story for another time) and dropped out of college. One year later I was married...soon to be pregnant. I took a slight detour on the road to nursehood...but I still meant to get there eventually. It was just that the other previously mentioned family goals took a front seat for a while...but I knew I would get there eventually...someday.

Fast forward four years, one kid, a prominent pregnancy, a cross country move, and a deployment later. I'm standing in my living room with an acceptance letter to nursing school in my hand. I applied and did the testing on a whim. I knew the timing would never work out and allow me to finish prior to us PCS'ing (Navy move) again. So I wasn't even going to tell the hubby...thankfully my mother knows I'm nuts and convinced me that I had to at least tell him. So I did...but I threw in so many outs and excuses and reasons for why it was no big deal and I could get in anywhere...I'm shocked he didn't just say OK and walk away. He didn't...he was my saving grace that day. He just calmly looked at me and said, "so I guess that means I better look for orders to San Diego again." WHAT!! For real??!! Never in a million years did I ever expect that answer. And I guess that's the point's amazing what can happen when you don't expect it...

Fast forward again one year, a three year old, a seven week old, and a deployed husband later, I am sitting in a classroom at 25 years old...about to embark upon my dream. I was the biggest dork ever...seriously. I had all my labeled notebooks, my rolly backpack, colored pens and pencils...I had it all...I was ready to roll...literally and figuratively.

Looking back on that time...the time during which I totally disappeared into myself and my was rough. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I spent a lot of time away from my family...and even when I was with them...I really wasn't. I studied, I read, I practiced, I spent hours in living rooms and coffee shops with fellow nursing students...and I made lifelong friends. In the end, of course, it was all worth it...but I don't think I'd ever do it over again...I say that now, knowing I will go back someday...but I'm not ready just yet.

Now that I have officially been a nurse for one year this month and practicing since September 2009...I can see how much this profession has changed me. It has forever altered the way I view the world. It has changed my thought processes entirely. I now approach life as an ICU nurse. Although this may never make sense to someone who is not an ICU nurse...those who are, understand. I have been blessed to work in an amazing hospital and have the MOST wonderful nurse mentor anyone could EVER dream of having. Dale (my preceptor) has given me all the tools and more that I needed to begin my life as a nurse. He gave me the confidence to trust my instincts, the guts to stand up for what I believed in (without stepping on too many baby doctor toes), the resources to learn as much as possible, and the knowledge to back myself up...along with the wisdom of when to back off or get more information first. Thank you Dale...

As I grow as a nurse, I grow as a is possible that the nurse part of my identity is almost inseparable from the rest of is my core I am nurse....and I always will be...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Gotta start somewhere...

So I have finally gone and created a blog... I don't know that anyone is particularly interested in the musings of a 27 year old mother of 2, wife of 7 years, amateur triathlete, aspiring runner, and newly graduated nurse...but oh well...I have things to say and an entire universe to share it with...if they want to listen.

At this point in my life I have accomplished most of what I always set out to do. I have a wonderful family and friends, a beautiful home that I own, an amazing career (not just a job), and I have a passion in my life, triathlon. But some days...when it's just me...I wonder...what more is there? There are so many things I hope to do in my life...and I haven't even decided yet what they all are. I want to travel, I want to explore the depths of my personal athletic ability, I want to experience everything I can as a nurse, I want to attain my master's or doctorate, I want to show my children everything that I have seen and more... As an ICU nurse I see death far too often and have become far to comfortable with the familiar feeling of being surrounded by sorrow...but it has also taught me important life lessons. It has taught me that I can not wait until "someday" to start really is too unpredictable for that. I do not fear death itself, but rather the feeling of never really having finished what I have been put on this earth to do. I hope, at the end of my life I can feel much like Richard Weber felt when he faced death (if you aren't a Grey's Anatomy fan...then you won't get the analogy)...that death is not the end, but rather the end of a beautiful journey.

So, I'm not sure how I got so off track...but to bring it all back, I want to blog to be able to see where I have been, feel where I am, and help figure out where I'm here goes nothing...