Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Rolf Prima Tri at the Grove 2016

It was a pretty amazing day on many levels.

Friday we headed down to Cottage Grove.  We had decided to spend the night down there so that we didn't have to get up at Oh'dark thirty in the morning.  Joe needed to do a long swim so we went to Cottage Grove Lake where the triathlon was going to be so he could do it as an open water swim.  I had done my two little "keep things loose" workouts before we left home.  So I set up a chair in the shade with a view of the lake and read a book, or sometimes I just closed my eyes and sometimes I watched people.  It was very peaceful and quiet and I enjoyed the alone time where I didn't feel like I had 10,000 things I should be doing instead.

Then we headed to packet pickup back in Eugene.  Things always get a bit more real when you have your race bib and shirt.  :-)

After packet pickup we went and got some dinner and then headed back to Cottage Grove to our hotel.  Lots of cars with bike racks in the hotel parking lot.  Gee, I wonder what they would be doing in the morning?

I asked Joe to take a picture of me with my race shirt like I have done for every triathlon this year.  He was trying to get me to make a serious face knowing that it would just make me laugh more.  Goober.
We got the stickers on my bike and helmet and I did some last minute checks of my stuff for the race and then we went to bed.

I went to sleep fairly easily, which was a nice surprise.  However, I got up at 4:00 a.m. to use the restroom and could not get back to sleep.  lol  So I was still awake at Oh'dark thirty.  But at least I didn't have to rush about earlier and be in the car by this time.  Around 5:00 a.m. I got up and had breakfast and started getting ready.  Then we loaded up the car and went to Walmart to get some snacks for Joe and the kids.  That is something I usually take care of because I'm usually the spectator.  I was so focused on what I needed for the race I didn't even think of it.  Joe doesn't usually take care of it so he didn't think of it either. So we got some water bottles and snacks, grabbed some breakfast and coffee for Joe and then headed for the lake.

We got there around 6:30 a.m. which was nice because then I could do all the things I was supposed to do to get ready without feeling rushed.  Got my number markings and found my spot on the bike rack.  Lucky number 42!  Then I put on my bike helmet and went for a short ride.  I was supposed to ride for about 10 minutes and loosen up the legs and make sure the gears were where I needed them to be for the start of the bike ride.  Racked the bike again and then took a little jog down the road as well.  Got all my things organized and laid out like I wanted and then grabbed my pre-race snack and headed over to hang out with Joe.
View of Cottage Grove Lake and transition.
Cottage Grove Lake before the swim.
Got a big hug from my friend Melissa, her husband Marcus was doing the Olympic triathlon as well.  He's an experienced triathlete, done an Ironman even, so he's an old hat at these events.  He never looks nervous. lol

Next Faylene and Dwayne showed up with my kids Taylor and Meighan.  More hugs!  Then Josh and Wendie arrived.  Goodness was I feeling so loved!  Then surprise!  My friends Chad and Beth came as well.  All of these people taking the time to drive all the way down to Cottage Grove to spend a large chunk of the day cheering me on!  It was seriously overwhelming.  My daughter Bri got there so  I got another hug.  :-)  There is a serious amount of sitting around and waiting for a few moments of cheering for spectators.  So to have all these people taking a big chunk of their day to support me was amazing!  Meighan took pictures with my big camera and got some fun shots.  `
Chad & Beth!  Not only do I get to work with these people but I get to call them my friends!  Blessed!
Faylene asked me how I was doing.  I told her I was excited to start and nervous but not completely scared like I had been at the start of the Beaver Freezer.  Since she was there for that race too she knew what I was talking about.  It was fun to not be completely terrified.  That alone was a BIG win for me no matter how the day went.

There was a big delay to the start of the races because of issues with parking.  The person who was directing traffic and telling people where to park wasn't doing too good a job and cars were everywhere and not getting anywhere.  They delayed the start to give athletes a chance to get parked and ready.  I was supposed to start at 8:28 a.m.  I think it was more like 8:45 a.m.  I got my wet suit on around 8:00 a.m. and started to make my way down to the lake to get in the water and warm up a bit.  On the way to the lake I saw my nephew Justin and his fiancee Kendra.  Kendra's dad and brother were doing the Sprint race and it was their first.  More hugs and good lucks!  It was a great treat to see them and know they were cheering me on too.

The water is warm, 71 degrees!  Much nicer to swim in than the 51 degrees from my first open water swim last March.  The men took off first and then about three minutes later it was time for the women.  Here we go!
I struggled a bit at the start of the swim.  Couldn't find my calm, imagine that, and then I also went a little wide.  I didn't stop though.  I just told myself it was just a swim, like all the other ones I've done in training and to calm down.  By the time I got to the first buoy I was feeling much better and really enjoying the swim.  I may not have been the fastest person out there but I know I was more consistent and had a better stroke than a lot of them.  I saw a lot of people having to stop and do a back stroke or just stop and rest.  I even passed some men towards the end.  That was kind of cool.  I also did not have to stop once!  That's huge!  I cannot think of one swim, open water or pool where I didn't have to stop at least once to adjust my goggles or cap or just catch my breath.  I came out of the water a pretty happy camper.  I knew I was at the back of the pack and I knew that it was very likely that I would be last by the end of the day and I couldn't have cared less.  I had a rock'n swim for me.  It felt really great and was really fun.  That's what it's really all about, right?

Transition time.  It went much better than the swim to bike transition I did at Blue Lake.  I need to practise in just getting faster and I should have had my shoes untied so they were ready but overall I was pretty happy about it.
Got to the spot to get on my bike and could hear my friends and family cheering me on.  I had been so worried about feeling stupid and slow in front of everyone.  Instead I just soaked up the love and support.  Made me smile!  I got started around the corner and I hear my name.  I look over and see my brother Matt, his wife Teresa and my niece and nephew, Jenna and Henry waving and cheering for me.  They live in Redmond and had driven all the way to Cottage Grove to cheer me on.  I couldn't believe it!  It was all I could do to keep from stopping my bike and getting hugs right then and there!  What an awesome way to start off my ride.  My smile got even bigger!  BEST surprise of the day!

Because I was the last wave to start the race, and because I was at the tail end of everyone swimming I pretty much was alone for my bike ride.  The route was an out and back but it went on paved logging roads that were on opposed sides of the main road.  So I didn't even see people that were heading back to the lake.  I was passed in the first couple of miles by the guys that I had passed on the swim.  They kicked my butt overall but it's still kind of cool that I beat them in the swim.  :-)  Had a lady pass me at about mile five and another at about mile eight.  I passed one gentleman who had a flat and his air canister didn't have any air in it.  Luckily the owner of the house he stopped at was helping him out.  I felt bad for him though.  Talk about frustrating!

About mile 10 I was needing to use the bathroom.  I thought I had read that there was supposed to be an outhouse at the turnaround but I couldn't remember.  Normally I can just ignore it but I spent the next two miles rather obsessing about it, I really needed to go!  When I got to the turnaround there was no outhouse.  I decided that the next driveway with some trees I was going to have to stop but then I saw the outhouse.  Thank goodness!

I got in and the damn thing was seriously wobbly. lol I cannot believe how much pee I had in me.  I know, I know, too much information.  But it was rather ridiculous!  Then because it's hard to pull up wet clothing I was making the stupid outhouse shake and wobble.  The whole situation was rather hilarious and wasn't helping my time much!

Got back on my bike and started back to the lake.  Then I start thinking how I'm more than halfway through the bike.  I've done the swim and I'm halfway through the bike!  And I have all these amazing people hanging out just to cheer me on.  Guess what happened then?  If you know me at all or have been reading this blog for awhile you can probably guess.  I started crying.  Good crying.  Good thing I can cry and ride at the same time.

The bike went well.  I did it about as fast as I had when Joe and I did the ride a few weeks ago.  I was hoping for a little faster but there were so many good things about the ride that I really didn't care.  I didn't bonk on this ride.  I drank both of my bottles of Gatorade and got my sports beans eaten like I was supposed to.  I switched the water bottles around so the one I was drinking out of was in the front spot...without stopping!  That was a pretty big deal for me.  :-)  If I hadn't had to stop and pee I would have been able to say I didn't have to stop on the bike ride.  Darn bladder anyway.  :-)

Towards the end of the bike ride the sun started breaking through the clouds.  I was hoping it would stay cloudy until I was done because that would make for a cooler run.  Oh well.

I was coming around the reservoir and I see my sister-in-law waving and cheering for me.  I was a couple miles from the end of the ride.  She was in the perfect spot to see me and beeline it to the transition area and beat me there.
Teresa's view of the road.  I came in from the left and headed up the hill to the right.
I came into transition and you would have thought I was in first place the way everyone was cheering for me.  I dismounted and started to trot down the hill to the transition area.  It was a fairly steep hill, at least it feels that way when you just get off your bike so I ended up walking down it so that I didn't fall down.  Got to my spot and the person on the other side of the rack had put their bike where mine was supposed to go.  I had to slide it over to make room for mine.  There were stickers with our numbers on the rack where I bike was supposed to go so that was a little irritating that I had to waste time with that.

Changed out of my bike shorts and into my running skirt, grabbed my water bottle and took off.  My amazing support crew was right there cheering me on, even made a hand bridge for me to go under on my way out.  Joe had a neck cooler ready for me and then asked if I was planning on running with my bike gloves on.  Oops.  Forgot to take them off. lol
At this point I know I am going to finish my first Olympic Triathlon.  I have done 10k runs before.  I knew I could walk it if I had to and finish.  That's a pretty good feeling.

I started off pretty good.  It was hard but I was doing a decent pace for me on a good day without a swim and a bike ride before.  :-)  I wasn't able to maintain that pace but I was able to do better than I thought I would considering the temperature had warmed up and I was a wee bit tired.   I was trying to run 10 minutes with a one minutes walk.  I think the walks ended up being more like two minutes a few times.  And if there was a water station during the 10 minute run part I got a bonus walk.  lol  The run was an out and back along the lake.  Now I was seeing people who were heading back towards the finish.  Got a tip of his hat from Marcus who was probably at about mile five and almost to the finish which was fun.  I thought for sure he would be long done before I even started the run.  There were a lot more people then I thought there would be.  Made me feel like I wasn't as far behind everyone as I had thought when I was on the bike.

When I got to the turnaround I got really excited.  I had only a 5k to go and I was done.  I can do a 5k!!  That gave me a boost.  Even though I was going a slower pace than I had the first mile I was keeping it steady where I was and not slowing down even more.  That was a win as well for me.  Sometimes when I start slowing down I get frustrated and just say, "Fuck it!" and give up and walk.  I did not do that.  I was not going to doing anything less than my 100% at the end of this race!  My stomach started to feel a little upset.  Probably from all the sports beans I had eaten all day.  Will have to work on switching that up during the run maybe.

Just before the six mile marker I could see the finish line.  I had decided that once I saw the finish line there would be no more walking.  lol  That was the longest quarter of a mile ever!  I saw Marcus watching for me and a "Good job!" from him.  :-)
My faithful crew waiting at the finish line.
As I got closer to the finish line I could see my friends and family.  Then I could hear them.  You would think I was winning the whole thing!  Then, right before the finish line I see Joe.

I didn't care about my time.  That really what this race was all about.

I swerved over to where he was standing and gave him the biggest hug.  And cried.  Oh my goodness I love that man!  He always believes in me even when I don't believe in myself.  He has supported me, encouraged me and occasionally given me a swift kick in the ass when I needed it.   When I say I couldn't have done this without him that is not exaggerating.  He is my partner and best friend and I think we make a pretty fantastic team.  I love being at his races and cheering him on.  It was the most overwhelming thing to have him there doing it for me.

Here's a video Teresa took at the finish:

By far, it was my favorite moment of the entire day.

My brother yelling that I'm ruining my time cracks me up.  Just so you know, he is totally teasing.  :-)
After the race I gave big sweaty hugs to everyone.  Finally got a chance to love on my brother and his family!  Still can't believe they drove all that way!  Lots of pictures and loves.  Our own little party at the finish line.  Since I was near the very last to finish we weren't in any one's way!
My #1 Fan.  My #1 Everything!
Big Bri hug. Love my girl!
Big hug from #1 Son!  Love my boy!
I used to think there was nothing better than being proud of my kids.  Having your kids be proud of you is pretty stinking amazing as well.  Having the kind of relationship with Bri where she could coach and teach me to swim is a precious gift!  If you need help with swimming give her a call.  You won't get the mom rate for lessons but whatever she charges you will be worth every penny!!  Seriously, I'm not just saying that because she's my daughter.  :-)
My brother Matt, fellow Badass with Sparkle sister-in-law Teresa, Jenna & Henry.  AWESOME SURPRISE!! 
Gave out some Yeti & sweaty hugs.  Nobody seemed to mind. :-)
Best picture of the day!!  I am a very blessed woman to have these amazing people in my life!
We said our goodbyes to everyone and started making our way to transition to get my things.  Most of the bikes and gear were gone.  Just a couple of racks still standing for us slowbies.  I packed up my backpack and got things somewhat organized.  Taylor and Meighan had headed to the car with the camp chairs and Taylor moved the car closer so I wouldn't have to walk as far.  :-)

We got to the car and Meighan held up a towel so I could change my clothes.  I really didn't want to wear my workout clothes all the way home.  It was nice to put on clean dry clothes!  Then Joe handed me my cider.  Aaahhhhh.  Dry clothes, a cider and Pringle potato chips.  I'm pretty sure I earned it.

Several times on the drive home the tears would start again.  Just that, "Holy crap, I just did that!" feeling would get so large it would spill out.  :-)

I was trying to send a picture to my coach.  I could not get it or a text to send for almost the whole drive home!  It was so frustrating!!  Joe said they kept him updated all morning long so he knew how I was doing.  But I wanted to tell him and to send a picture from me.  It finally went through.  Yay.  Next to my hubby and family, having Jon proud of me was the best.  :-)  If he had been at the finish line with Joe he would have gotten a big teary hug as well.  I know a big part of why I wasn't scared shitless at the start of the race was because Jon had been there getting me ready so that I knew I could do it.  

Thanks Coach!
Jon told me last week that I should be proud of myself no matter what happened on race day because I worked hard all these months.  That was something to be really proud of.  Here is what I have done since January 1st:
  • 267.3 miles of Running
  • 61.6 miles of Walking
  • 812.8 miles of Biking
  • 73.6 miles of Hiking
  • 50.3 miles of Swimming
Grand total: 1,265.6 miles of activities.  In just under seven months!!  I never imagined this when I started in January.

It was a fabulous day and one that I'm going to remember for a long time.  Two top days for "I can't believe I just did that!" are first Half Marathon and now first Olympic Triathlon.

Official results :-)  
Solid swim, faster than I ever could have imagined a year ago when I started lessons with Bri.  Fun bike ride on a beautiful course.  Solid run at a pace that was faster than a 10k I did a couple of years ago (and that 10k wasn't preceded by a swim and a bike ride!)

I'm going to work at getting stronger and faster but I am going to always be very proud of myself for this race and all the hard work it took me to get here.

Teresa sent this text to me when I thanked her and Matt for coming:
So fun to have people thing I look STRONG & HAPPY!!  That's exactly how I felt!

Thank you to all the people who sent me text and messages before the race!  Every single one made me smile!  Thank you to all the people who liked and commented on my picture on Facebook after the race.  I know I have used this word a lot in this post but it has been very overwhelming.  I don't see myself as inspirational or amazing.  But if I inspire someone else to do something out of their comfort zone that has the bonus of getting healthier then I will take it!

My son posted this on Facebook with some pictures:
See, kids being proud of mom.  Feels freaking awesome! Glad I'm his favorite.  :-)

I know it was a long post.  There was a lot to share.  :-)

I already can't wait for the next adventure.

Photo credit to Meighan Van Veldhuizen, Teresa Ballantyne, Taylor Van Veldhuizen, Joe Van Veldhuizen and Faylene Gardner.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Tomorrow is the Day

Tomorrow is the day.

I've been working towards The Tri at the Grove for a year.

One year ago I started taking swim lessons from my daughter Bri.  I had the idea that I wanted to do an Olympic Tri and I knew that would not be a good experience if I didn't get better at swimming.  Much much better.  My amazing grown up daughter agreed to give me lessons.  A year of her helping me and teaching me.  She pushed me to do more than I thought I could.  Made me do things I was pretty sure I would never figure out (snorting water and not stopping because of it tops that list!)  I cried more than once in frustration and she would give me a big Bri hug and send me on my way again.  She never let me quit and she never stopped believing that I absolutely could get it figured out.

A year ago I did 1100 yards in 45 minutes which was the farthest I had ever gone.  Yesterday I did 1000 yards in 25 minutes and it was an "easy" swim.

I have a most excellent swim coach.  The blessing in having her coach me is getting to spend a lot of extra time with my beautiful daughter.  There has been a lot of laughter this past year.  Love my sweet girl and glad that we have the kind of relationship where we could make this work.

Six months ago I somewhat reluctantly agreed to have a meeting with Jon to discuss the possibility of working together as coach and athlete.  I say reluctantly only because I didn't consider myself an athlete so the whole thing seemed ridiculous.  Joe should have a coach, he's the athlete, and I will just do what I always do.  Figure it out on my own.  But Joe can be super stubborn and wanted me to work with Jon to get ready for this Olympic triathlon and see how it went.

It was a bit overwhelming at first and there were a lot of things that I was doing that were way out of my comfort zone.  But Jon was so great and I started finding my rhythm with the workouts and I also started finding my confidence.  Weekly workouts planned for me.  Emails and texts checking in on me and how things were going.  Adjustments to workouts because life happens, plans change, people get sick.  Always encouragement and support.  Suggestions on things to work on.  Praise on the things I was doing right.

We had to make an adjustment to the height of my bike seat this week and then leave it in the shop so they could replace a brake pad.  Since we couldn't ride like we have been doing every week since school let out we went for a walk instead.  Jon can't be at the race on Saturday because of family plans that he had before he ever became my coach so we went over the game plan for nutrition, what I'm supposed to do to warm up before the race and all the last minute instructions.  :-)  Jon has phone numbers for numerous people that will be at the race so that he can get updates as the morning goes along.  Then it was time for a big coach hug.  I got teary, can you believe that?  :-)   Working with Jon all these months I not only got a great coach that I work really well with, I gained another friend.

The bonus of working with Jon was also getting to know his wife Janelle who has done a lot of runs with me the last few months.  We have lots of laughs and good talks getting to know each other while running and walking.  Yay!  Another friend.

Bonus bonus is working out on Wednesdays with the other athletes that Jon works with.  The Booth Bunch.  What a great group of people.  It's been fun to get to know them better and cheer each other on at different events.  We all are different speeds and abilities.  I love it when we do track work and we are all over the track with Jon running with someone for a bit and then switching to someone else.    We are all working out together but no worries about the different speeds.  :-)  Yep, even more friends.
The older I get the more I know this is VERY true!
Jon gave me homework last week.  I was supposed to write down four or five things that I am already proud of myself for doing while getting ready for this race.  Then I'm supposed to tuck that paper into my backpack so I have it with me on race day.  That way, if things all go terribly wrong I can remember that it's not really all about the one day.  The one day is more a reflection of all the work I have put in leading up to it.  Sometimes things just go wrong, not that I'm thinking it will but it might.    Doesn't mean I can't be proud of myself.
#6-I'm proud of trying something WAY out of my comfort zone!
One of the things that I was getting bent about was worrying about coming in last.  There is a very good possibility that it will happen.  This week I saw a video about a woman named Jamie Watts that put that worry into perspective.  Check out the video and story here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/humankind/2016/07/15/runner-finishes-last-every-single-race-inspires-us-all/87122144/

I will never obsess about finishing last again.  (Okay, probably shouldn't say never but I definitely will do a better job of keeping it in perspective!)  I'm going to be thankful that I can participate at all!

Still nervous but I think I'm more excited than anything.  I'm ready to go for it and see how all this work looks on race day.

My clothes and gear are all laid out and organized.

I did my last swim yesterday.

I did my last bike ride (15 minutes, 2.79 miles) and my last run (10 minutes, .87 miles) this morning.

We go pick up the race packet tonight.

Tomorrow is the day!

Shit just got real! lol

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Last winter I shared about each of my children and my fabulous husband and all that they have done to help me on my journey to be a healthier me.

I have been blessed with some pretty amazing friends through this journey.  Some have been my friends from the beginning, some became my friends along the way and others have touched my life briefly but left a large print on my heart.

Dwayne and Faylene.  These two have been our friends since we moved to Albany.  Leaving the community that we loved and were firmly entrenched in was difficult. I am so grateful that we met these two wonderful people right away.  We "blame" our boys for our friendship as Taylor and Cody became friends in 7th grade.  There have been a lot of adventures with the entire Gardner family over the years.  I love the entire family and love that I get to be the "other mother" to the boys.
January 20, 2013 - Cascade 10k for me, 1/2 Marathon for Faylene.  It poured rain!
Faylene has been right there with me from the time I first laced up my running shoes. When I first got started she would go with me and push me to do more than I thought I could.  We would go from street corner to street corner or to the next mailbox or she would run ahead and then come back and meet up with me.  Always with a smile and a "You are doing great!" comment. I don't know if she has any idea how much that helped me keep moving when I first started out.
August 3, 2013 - Cascade Lakes Relay
January 1, 2014 - Hangover Run.  Getting ready for the Beer Mile
Dwayne is the captain of our team for Cascade Lakes Relay.  (Go Super Team Dwayne!!)  He never once has made me feel like I shouldn't be part of the team.  I tried to wiggle my way out of it the first year because I was (am) so slow compared to everyone else.  He said something along the lines that it was about being a team and having fun, not how fast we finished and I need to shut up about it.  So I shut up about it.  lol  I have done the race four times.  I am always the very slowest on the team but every year I get a little teeny bit faster.  Because Dwayne has seen the effort and progress over the years he is great about noticing and reminding me how far I've come.  Helps me keep it in perspective.
November 27, 2014 - Thanksgiving Day Run
November 27, 2015 - Dwayne and I did the walk with Bailey
January 1, 2015 - First Beer Mile for these two.
January 1, 2015 - So many friends & family in this picture!  I love them all!!
January 11, 2015 - Hiking with Dwayne & Faylene and the pups. 
April 12, 2015 - First run after finishing my Master's degree.  
May 17, 2015 - Yearly tradition.  Faylene & I go to Bauman Farms for our BIG flower baskets.
May 27, 2015 - Top of Black Butte.  Not a long hike but a tough one.  
May 27, 2015 - Detroit Lake girls weekend with my bestie.
Bowling-Halloween 2015
Day after Christmas hike with Dwayne, Zack, Faylene, Joe and the pups.  :-)
The Gardner & Van V clans at the 2016 Hangover Run (only missing Zack)
Cheering on my BFF at her awesome Crossfit Bikini competition-May 14, 2016
Oh ya!  Annual Flower run 2016
Day at the Lake-May 29, 2016
Blue Lake Sprint Triathlon 2016 with my awesome sherpa!
When Joe couldn't come with me to the Blue Lake Triathlon I told Faylene and she didn't miss a beat.  "I will come with you!  I'll drive and everything!"  Then it got closer to race day and I find out that Dwayne was coming along too.  When I thanked him for coming with me and driving he smiled and said, "Well, of course!"  Seriously!  They didn't think twice about coming along and it meant so much to have them along, helping me out and cheering me on.  

I have learned on this journey that a great support team helps tremendously.  I am blessed to have a wonderful husband and kids that have always been supportive.  I am ridiculously blessed by so many friends that encourage and support me.  Faylene and Dwayne are at the very tip top of that list.  Every crazy thing I have decided to try they have been right there, cheering me on and believing in me.  

When I first signed up for the Tri at the Grove Faylene looked at her calendar to make sure she could go.  She was supposed to work.  Darn it!  A few weeks later she told me that she had gotten things arranged so that she could be there because she wasn't missing it.  I know that was not easy for her to make happen.  I'm pretty sure it took some major finagling to make it work.  She made it seem like it wasn't a big deal, but I know better.  Coming to cheer someone on at a triathlon is really a lot of sitting around waiting to see your person for a few moments during the transitions.  Faylene has already been to two of my triathlons this spring and will be giving up another Saturday to cheer me on for the "big" one.   

I wrote most of this blog last night.  I had a lot of fun looking at pictures and loving all the adventures I have with these amazing friends.  This morning I get this text.

See?  I love this woman!!

Thank you Dwayne & Faylene for

  • Believing in me even when I don't believe in myself.
  • Holding up a mirror and reminding me of how far I have come.
  • Laughter...Lots and lots of laughter!
  • Putting up with the tears and frustrations.  
  • Understanding that sad times happen and loving me through it instead of walking away.
  • Never ever making me feel like I have to be perfect. I just have to be me.  
  • Including me on adventures that many people would have not thought I could do.
  • Being amazing friends.

I love you both!!