Sunday, August 28, 2016

Ironman Coeur d'Alene-Spectator Viewpoint

Joe shared his side of Ironman Coeur d'Alene, the really hard side for sure.  Now it's my turn.  :-)

We headed out to Coeur d'Alene on Thursday morning.  There was lots of last minute things to pick up and lists to double check before we left.  Finally we are to the point where we know we have the important, hard to replace things and anything we forgot we can probably pick up when we get there.
Ironman #3 here we come!!
It's a long drive from our house to Coeur d'Alene, between seven and eight hours.  That is a long time in the car no matter what the trip is.  But I actually like road trips with Joe.  We talk a lot about random things.  Sing along to the radio or my iTunes.  Laugh about stories we tell each other.  It's actually fun to just hang out together without too many distractions.

We stopped in Hood River for a stretch break and to see if we could find some arm coolers for Joe.  He was thinking they would be good for race day because it was looking to be hot.  We asked at a bike rental shop and they directed us to a place that hooked us up.  Win!

We made it to Coeur d'Alene with plenty of time to head straight to packet pick up.  This is not like packet pick up at a normal race.  At a normal race there is just a table where you can walk up and pick up your packet.  At Ironman there is a large white tent that only athletes are allowed into.  They go in and get a bracelet put on that indicates they are a participant.  They also don't just get a packet, they get a really cool Ironman backpack with their participant shirt and all their other gear in it.  Pretty cool.

While Joe was going through the athlete tent I was shopping in the Ironman store.  It's always fun to look at all the cool workout gear and t-shirts and things they sell.
I liked this shirt but didn't want to spend $40 for it.  lol
It wasn't long before Joe was done.  Conveniently the athlete tent dumps out right at the entrance to the Ironman store.  :-)  We purchased some visors and a few small things and headed to a food cart near the hotel that had really great sandwiches.  We got one to go so we could just eat in the hotel room once we were checked in.

With all the gear needed for the triathlon, the cooler, our suitcases and the bikes it took a bit to get all our stuff into the room.  I had brought my bike along so I could either hang with Joe or do my own thing if it worked easy.  Once we got everything in the room we had our dinner and then spent the rest of the evening just hanging out.

Friday morning we got up and worked our way to Lake Coeur d'Alene.  Joe needed a short swim, short bike and a short run.  I was going to tag along the best I could.  I hadn't brought my wetsuit along and Joe didn't want to bother with his for a shorter swim so we worked our way into the water.  It was a bit chilly to start with but once we were all the way in it was really nice.  We both took off.  I figured that whenever Joe turned around and passed me I would turn around too.  Worked out pretty well.  The lake was pretty calm that morning and there wasn't a lot of wake.  The water was really clear as well so it was easy to see the bottom of the lake.
So beautiful!
When we were done with the swim we put on our bike clothes over our swim clothes and got ready to do a 30 minute ride.  The ride was on a paved trail that went around the lake.  It's a really pretty area. It was a treat for me to be able to ride with Joe and I kept up without too much difficulty.  Of course he wasn't trying to go fast but still.  There was even one point when we were heading back that an Asian gentleman was taken a selfie while riding his bike.  Joe rode up behind him and smiled and flashed the peace sign.  lol  I hope it turned out!
Getting ready to ride.
We got back to the car and got ready for a 15 minute run.  I didn't try to keep up with him but just enjoyed trotting along the lake and people watching as I went.  By this time people were showing up to enjoy a day playing in the water.  It's fun to watch people hanging out and playing.

I LOVED being able to do this workout with Joe.  While I'm not as fast as he is we still were together.  A few years ago I would have been sitting on the shore of the lake with a book or hanging out in the car waiting for him to finish.  This time I was with him.  This was a big bonus to all the work I have done the past year.  It's hard to explain but it made me feel really great to be with him, more of a participant in his experience instead of just a bystander.

We headed back to the Ironman area.  Joe wanted to listen to the briefing and see if there was any information that he might need to know that was new or different.  We also walked around the different booths.  They had everything from nutrition and clothes to $8,000 bikes.  We ended up going into the Zoot booth.  They had wetsuits there and they were half off.  I decided to try on the largest women's size they had.  The wetsuit I have is a men's suit and it is baggy in the elbows and knees which causes bubbling when I swim.  Not the end of the world but probably costs me a little time when I'm racing.  I have lost weight since I bought that suit so that has made it worse.  I got the suit on.  It was a little bit of a struggle because we had just biked and ran and I was hot and sweaty.  But I could get it on and once on it felt really good.  We decided to buy it.  Here we are supposed to be focused on Joe's Ironman and we are buying me a wet suit.

I was ridiculously excited to be able to get a women's suit instead of a men's suit.  It's such a thing in my head but whenever I have to get a men's size in order to make something it fit it just feels like that means I'm big.  Being able to wear a women's size is a victory for me, even if it's just in my own head.  I was going to try it out the next morning and I couldn't wait!

We went back to the hotel and cleaned up.  Joe started sorting out all his gear and get his bags ready for race day.  He had a check list of what he wanted in each bag.  There was a morning bag, a bike bag, a bike special needs bag, a run bag, and a run special needs bag.  Anything he put in the special needs bag he wasn't going to get back after the race.  Joe had a list and as he put items in the bag I checked it off so we knew it was there.  Anything that had to go in the bag race morning I circled so we knew to add it.  He had race crap all over the hotel room!  We even put the Do Not Disturb sign on the door that morning to avoid maid service because he had stuff spread out all over the bed and we didn't want them to mess with it to make the beds.
We went and had dinner but we were back at the hotel early.  It was nice to just relax.  We watched some Olympics and then went to sleep.

Saturday morning we woke up and just puttzed around.  I got involved in the women's Olympic Triathlon so we had to stay in the room and watch that whole thing.  It only took two hours. :-)  It was awesome to watch!!  Very inspiring!  Joe took off to do a thirty minute bike ride.  I probably could have tagged along like I had the day before but I got the feeling he needed some alone time so I just enjoyed the quiet in the hotel and watching the Olympics.  It was a nice little recharge time for both of us.  One of the benefits to being married for so long, we kind of know these things without really talking about it and neither of us gets hurt feelings about needing a break.  :-)

We were leaving the hotel and we saw our friends the Yenchiks.  Terry Yenchik was also participating in the race on Sunday.  His son Joe was going to but pulled out because of an injury and difficulties that made training hard.  He had brought his daughter Emma who is a gem of a kiddo.  She had just done the IronKids race that morning.  They put on different length short races for the kids on the day before the Ironman.  She did the one mile race.  She got a big medal and showed it to us with a huge smile!  She was super proud of that medal!  Pretty fun to see her be excited about the experience and I think she had fun being a part of all the excitement going on for the Ironman.

We went to the Ironman area again so that Joe could check in his bike and his gear bags.  For some reason this is when it starts feeling really real.  He spent some time walking through the transition area to make sure he knew where he was supposed to go.

Then we went back to the truck and he got out a folding chair and I got my wetsuit.  It made me think of when I was doing my Olympic tri at Cottage Grove.  The day before that race he did an open water swim and I sat in a chair on the shore of the lake and just relaxed.  The suit went on much easier than it had the day before since I wasn't all hot and sweaty.  That was a good sign.  I got going in the water and the suit felt great.  Didn't pull or feel like it was restricting my arm movements at all.  I didn't feel like it was too tight around my neck.  I loved it!  It was only about a 15 minute swim but it felt great. I can't wait to use the suit at the Best in the West triathlon next month!!
My new Zoot suit. :-)
We headed back to the hotel and had some down time before we went out for an early dinner.  We found a place nearby that had wood fired pizza.  Joe wanted the leftovers for his race bags the next day.  The food was good and there was plenty of leftovers for him for race day.

We settled in early for the night because we would be up early the next morning.  It took me awhile to get to sleep.  I know Joe was restless too but I think we both got to sleep eventually.

Three thirty in the morning came all too quickly.  I made Joe some PB&J sandwiches for his race bags and gathered up what I wanted to have in the truck while he was racing.  In Canada I could just go back to the condo between times we saw Joe because everything circled through Whistler and was within walking distance.  At Coeur d'Alene the hotel is miles away and it's hard to get back because of the race route.  Also, then it would be hard to find a parking spot when you get back.  So I needed to have everything I might need or want along with me.  I had a small cooler and my backpack.  There was a chair in the car and I had a blanket as well.

This is the first time I have watched an Ironman without my friend Wendie along!  She was at the first Coeur d'Alene because her hubby was racing too and her and Josh came to Canada to cheer on Joe last year.  It was a little odd to be starting out the day without the Gums around!!

We headed to the race.  I carried the last race bags and Joe walked with his bike.  It was still dark when we were walking by the lake and we could hear the water splashing against the shore.  It wasn't going to be as calm as it had been for our swim on Friday, we could tell that right away.
Oh Dark Thirty for sure!  Let the party get started!!
Joe heads into the transition area and I walk around the fence to the side near where he will be racking his bike.  At this point my job is to hang out and take whatever he is done with and needs me to take back to the car.  First I get the bike pump.  Later I get his backpack that has his morning clothes in it because he is putting on his wetsuit.
All too soon it's time to walk down to the beach and get this party started.  I walk with him all the way down to where the athletes get on the beach.  Then I hustle down to where the inflatable is where the athletes will enter the water.  At first I couldn't get close enough to be able to really see much but soon a very nice gentleman told me I could squeeze in next to him.  I had a good view of where they funnel the athletes down to a single file line before they go through the start line.  At 6:00 a.m. they started the race.  I knew where Joe was going to position himself based on his expected swim time.  But a couple of times I was jostled by people and I looked away.  I didn't see Joe and I didn't see Joe. I started to think I had missed him going by.
I have one job at these races.  It's to be visible so that my guy sees my smiling face and knows that I'm there for him.  I thought I had blown it right at the start of the entire day.  I was pretty sure I had missed him and was getting a bit worked up about it.  Suddenly I see him waving his arms at me.  I was so relieved I cried!  He made the heart symbol with his hands and then headed for the water.
Found my Ironman!  Actually he found me first. :-)
Love this man so much!
Game face on!
Here we go!

I watched him take off and then I headed to the car to put his backpack and the bike pump away.  Then I hustled back so I could see him come out of the water for his first loop.  I saw him come out of the water and he spotted me before he headed back in.  I got a thumbs up.  I hung out and waited for him to finish the second lap.  I kept busy sending out updates on Facebook and texts to friends and family so they would know how things were going.

It wasn't long before he was coming out of the water and heading for transition.  I was able to see him after he got his wetsuit stripped off of him and as he was grabbing his gear bag.  When I say stripping the wetsuit I mean that literally.  They have volunteers who have the job of taking ahold of the wetsuit when the athlete sits on the ground and yanking that sucker off.  If the athlete isn't careful their shorts might just go along as well.  It's pretty entertaining to watch but it saves the athletes a lot of time.
Finished the swim.
I ran around the transition area so that I could see Joe come out with his bike.  The transition was pretty quick and it wasn't long before he came trotting out with his bike.  He gave me a wave and headed out for the bike ride.
Heading to the mounting area.
Now is when things get really long.  The morning up until this point is pretty busy.  I spend a lot of time with Joe and then the time between seeing him is shorter so it goes faster.  The bike ride is a long part of the day.  There are places to see him but it's longer in-between.  I stayed near the bike transition to see Terry and a few other people take off on the bike.  They all came out of the water really close to each other so that was fun.

Eventually I worked my way up to the road so I could see Joe pass by after finishing the shorter loop. It's fun to visit with other people and find out where they are from and who they are cheering for.  I met people that were cheering for first timers and ones that were cheering for experienced Ironman.  One family was from Calgary Canada.  That was the most represented city at the race that day.  Because their phones didn't work in the US I looked up their athlete on my phone and let them know where she was.  They told me that she had never done a triathlon at all until July where she had done a 1/2 Ironman distance to get ready for the Ironman.  Geez!!  lol  I wish I could be that daring.  Her boyfriend said that she was super fit and athletic.  He also said she loves to just go for random, hard things because she loves the adventure of it.  I loved it!  He had done the 1/2 Ironman with her but was going to wait to do a full next year and they were going to do it together.

Joe came by and I got to whistle and holler for him.  The people who I had been visiting with cheered for him as well and I stayed and cheered for their athlete as she went by about 10 minutes later.  I love that part of these races.  Well, any race actually.  Meeting fun people and cheering people on that are working hard and doing badass things.  It's so much fun!!
Finished with the first time on the small loop, heading out for the long hill.
I headed back to the car at this point because Joe was on the big loop and I knew I wouldn't see him for quite awhile.  I charged my phone, updated everyone and got some food and water in me.  I had decided to volunteer at the race.  Joe said they had posted several times on Facebook that they were really in need of more people so I figured I would.  Especially since I didn't have any family with me to help keep me distracted.

About 10:00 a.m. I headed to the booth to check in.  Cynthia was my volunteer captain and she walked with me to my spot.  I was supposed to be on the corner of 9th and Sherman but they still had people there.  The people that were supposed to cover 8th and Sherman had told her they were going to take their dogs home and then they would go straight to their spot.  Cynthia wanted me to cover the corner until they got there and then go to the corner I was originally assigned.

Another hiccup was that there was some issue with crowd control somewhere over near the transition area so all the security people that were supposed to keep people from crossing the street when racers were coming were gone.  I literally was the only person on this corner.  I was standing in the middle of the road.  It was basically at the second bend of an S curve.  Bikers would some flying around the corner and then zip right by me around the second corner.  People who wanted to cross the street had to come half way, stand on the side of the cones that would keep them from getting hit by a biker taking the corner tight, and then wait for me to give them the clear for biker coming back in the opposite direction.

Most people were really great about following directions but there were some that were jerks.  First of all, when I say hustle get a move on.  I would tell people they could go if they hustled across and they would just stroll to the other side.  Seriously!!  Other people wouldn't listen to me and just go when they felt like it.  Ugh.

One guy refused to stand on the side of the cones I said.  He said he didn't care if he got hit.  I said I didn't care if he got hit either but I really cared about an athlete not crashing, thank you very much.

It was a lot of fun cheering on the athletes as they went by and then again as they were returning from their loop.  Four hours standing on concrete in the hot sun was hard on my feet though.  But not as hard as biking 112 miles in the hot sun and strong wind so I did NOT complain one bit.

Joe passed me and I didn't see him at first because I was helping people cross the street.  When he came back the other direction he actually stopped the bike to give me a kiss which was awesome.  The people watching were cheering.  :-)  I asked how he was doing and he said he was struggling but then he took off so I didn't know what that meant.  Struggling in general?  Something was hurting?  One of his spots that had been bothering him was flaring up?  So hard not to know!

Nothing I can do about it so I took a deep breath and finished my volunteering.

Then I walked back to the car.  It was quite a hike from where I was volunteering but I knew I had plenty of time.  Joe had 40 plus miles to go before I would see him finish the bike ride.  I changed out of my volunteer shirt and put on a tank top and a hat.  Then I charged my phone and made sure I had my portable chargers and the cord.  I went back to the park and managed to hook up with the Yenchik family and got to hang out with them while we waited for Joe and Terry to finish the bike ride.

Emma and I got to talk about our puppies, my boxer and her boxer are sister and brother.  So we compared silly stories about our dogs.  Then she told me all about the IronKids race.  Later her dad took her to find some food and I got to visit with Joe's mom Mary.  What a sweet lady!  It's nice to have someone to visit with while we wait.
Awesome IronKid with a fabulous smile!
The tracker app on my phone had been working pretty good up to this point so I knew that Joe had gone much slower on the second big loop then he had the first time around.  That didn't surprise me considering the heat and the wind, especially when he said he was struggling.  I could see when he was heading back down the big hill and knew it wouldn't be long (compared to the rest of the day) before he would be there.

Where we were hanging out was just after the athletes dismount.  We also could see up the hill and watch them on the main road.  If you could recognize your athlete then it was easy to be at the fence by the time they were dismounted and walking past.  The volunteers would take the bike from the athlete and then one would walk with them to make sure they were steady and feeling good.  It was quite a process and they did all of their support very smoothly.

I saw Joe come in from the bike ride.  It was so good to see him!!  He said he had a hot spot on his foot but felt pretty good.  The path around the bike area to the transition tent went on the opposite side from where I was but a friend he works with was on that side and walked and talked with him as he worked his way to the tent.  Mike was there to watch his sister but had fun seeing Joe as well.  I made my way to the other side of the transition tent so I would be ready when he came out to start the run.

Joe came out looking good.  He saw me right away and gave me another kiss on his way out for the run.  Only 26.2 miles between him and another Ironman.
Leaving transition 2 and heading out for the marathon.
I went back to where I had been waiting with the Yenchiks.  I wanted to see Terry finish the bike.  The tracker app was not updating like it was supposed to.  It didn't show Joe finishing the bike and starting the run.  It showed Terry way out on the bike yet and we thought he should be farther than that by now.  This is where it gets hard.  Are they injured?  Is the tracker just not updating?  Did they have mechanical problems?  There is no answer and no way to find out.

Terry's son Joe was really worried, I could see it on his face.  Especially when we heard that they last biker to be allowed to continue before the cut off had just gone through the dismount area.  Now we knew that Terry wasn't going to be able to continue but we still didn't know if he was okay.

He finally made it.  Turns out he got a flat and damage to his tire.  Even when he got the tire inflated again the damage made it so he couldn't ride.  His day was over at that point.  I felt so bad for him!  That's a lot of work to have something out of your control end your day.  But at least he wasn't hurt!  That was a relief!!

I headed back to my car.  I was tired of lugging my small cooler around and wanted to drop it off.  I grabbed my backpack, shoved the blanket in it and headed back to the park.  I wouldn't be back to the truck until the race was over.
A wildfire had started between Coeur d'Alene and Spokane.  Made it a hazy afternoon.
The marathon route had been changed since Joe had done the event in 2013.  I wasn't sure exactly where to go to see him.  I was a little worried that I would miss him on his first loop since I had waited so long to see Terry.  Yenchik let me know where to go and I found a great spot where I could see the runners coming up the sidewalk for quite a ways.  I laid out my blanket and just sat down when I looked up and there Joe was!  I didn't even put on my sandals, I just started running so that I wouldn't miss him.  He told me he had a blister on the ball of his foot but was doing pretty good considering.

I didn't realize that they looped around and I could have seen him on the other side of the park.  I thought that was where he had just come from.  I did better the second time around.

On the second loop I saw him on both sides of the park.  He was pretty tired and knew that he wasn't going to make his original goal.  I was pretty sure he was still going to beat his time from his last Coeur d'Alene Ironman.  He was struggling but moving along pretty good all things considered.  I headed back to my blanket.  The spot I was at was also where runners that were finishing their last lap and were only about three blocks from the finish line.
Heading out for the third and final lap of the marathon.
Some were very focused and didn't pay any attention to people cheering.  Others knew they were close and got the biggest smiles on their faces.  A few looked like if they responded to us they would start to cry so they just kept moving.

I decided to work my way towards the chute at the finish line.  That is literally my favorite place to be during the Ironman.  They have music playing and people are lined up along both sides of the fencing along the road.  Everyone is cheering for every single athlete that comes down the chute.  The different ways they finish is awesome.

Smiling with their hands over their heads.
Total focus as they sprint to the finish.
Stopping to hug and kiss friends and family.
Running up and down the chute to give as many people high fives as they can.
One guy stopped in the middle of the chute before he crossed the finish line, dropped to his knees, put his hands over his face and started crying.
There was a married couple that finished together holding hands.
A father waited for his daughter down the street so they could finish together.
Painfully trotting by and then collapsing after they crossed the finish.

All of it is inspiring and emotional.  I was in tears more than once.  They didn't care that they were finishing in the dark, they were ecstatic that they were finishing!
My view of the chute as the athletes head toward the finish.
The Ironman Finish line!
Waiting for my Ironman!
The people around me were friendly and I had fun talking with them, cheering for people and singing to songs I knew.

When you leaned out to see up the road you could see the silhouette of runners as they came towards the finish.  Suddenly I saw Joe, I knew it was him by his run.  They ladies next to me didn't think it was possible to tell in the dark but I was sure.  The first Ironman Joe did he didn't see me as he came down the chute, he was looking mostly on the opposite side.  So the Ironman in Canada and this Ironman I made sure he knew which side I was planning on standing on so he could find me.  He ran down the left side of the chute and found me pretty quickly.

I got a HUGE hug and an awesome kiss.  The people around me that I had been hanging out with for the last hour all went, "Awwwwwww" which made me laugh.

Then I watched my guy finish the Ironman again.  "Joe Van Veldhuizen,  You Are An Ironman!!!" Wow!!  That does not get old!!

I turned to the ladies I had been hanging out with and told them to have a great rest of their evening but I was going to find Joe.  Of course I was in tears.  They gave me hugs and sent me on my way.

I watched him get his hat, shirt and medal.  Then they took his picture.  We talked for a minute and then he headed to the med tent to have them check out his blister and get some food.  I settled down to sit on the curb near the exit.  It felt good to sit for a bit.

It wasn't too long before Joe came out and met up with me.  He was moving slow but looked pretty good to me.  We went and I got his bike and he got his race bags.  We walked to the end of the park and I had him sit on the wall by the beach to the lake while I walked the bike to the car and then came to pick him up.

We got to the hotel and I we got into the room so he could shower.  I made a couple of trips to get things back in the room.  By the time Joe was cleaned up and things were a little organized it was close to midnight.  What a loooooonnnngg day!

We both had a teary moment about him finishing.

I have watched and supported Joe through two other Ironman races.  Each time is nerve wracking and tough.  This was no different.

I think I am the most proud of him for this one though.  He had to push through a lot of injuries and setbacks in order to just get to the race.  He did this while still supporting me with my new adventures in working towards an Olympic triathlon.  Then he had to push through tough conditions that made it difficult to make the goal he had set for himself.  He did both in the strong willed way he has.

To say I am proud of him never seems adequate enough to express the feelings I have.  Not only am I proud of him but I also feel privileged to be the one he knows he can count on to support him on the journey to the race and during the race.

He has inspired a lot of people but most of all he has inspired me.  I know I never would have thought of doing a triathlon of any distance without him doing them and then encouraging me.  I know that I wouldn't have decided to work with a coach, because I don't like spending the money on myself, but he insisted because he wanted me to have the best experience possible in this new adventure.  There are so many things Joe does is for me and our family or friends.  I absolutely love being able to make him the focus for a change.

Looking forward to many more adventures with my Ironman.

**If you want to read Joe's side of the event check out this post: Guest Blogger-Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2016  It doesn't have any pictures, he was a little busy to bother taking any.  :-)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Guest Blogger-Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2016

Joe did the Ironman at Coeur d'Alene last Sunday.  He wrote about the experience and said I could share it.  I will post my side later this weekend.  I'm so incredibly proud of my husband, for his accomplishments with Ironman and for being such an amazing person.  I'm very blessed to call him my husband and my best friend.

Joe's account of the days leading up to the race and race day:

Ironman CDA 2016 “race
On the 21st of August 2016 I participated in Ironman 140.6 in Coeur D Alene, Idaho. Lisa and I headed out on Thursday before the race for the 8-hour drive. We didn’t push real hard and took 3-4 short breaks to get thee circulation back in the fannies and legs to keep the stiffness from setting in. We rolled into the park where the event is held about 3:30 in the afternoon. I went to athlete check-in and rolled right through as most of the athletes seem to check in on Friday. Then we checked out merchandise and ended up buying a little IM bling before heading to the hotel to unload the pickup.


For a number of reasons this race preparation was much different than the previous 2 IM races I have done.
1.      I have not done IM in back to back years before.
2.      In the past I have been able to ramp up the training over the course of 12 months.
3.      In relation to number 2 I had some injury issues that prevented 12 months and reduced the training schedule to 6 months of focused IM training. In January and February, I literally was told to take 6 weeks off of running and biking to help get injury issues to settle down.
4.      Due to above issues I decided to hire a coach this time around to take a more intelligent approach to training. Try to do more with less so to speak and have the ability for adjustments if something reared its head that would hinder training.

In April I did the Beaver Freezer Tri and came away with more doubts than answers as to how IM may go in August. The hip injury that had generated the most issues was very tender afterward. This was troubling due to the fact that this race was about 1/8 of the distance I would be doing in 4.5 months. My coach and I worked our way through the next month to the next and last triathlon I would do before CDA in August. The Oregon Dunes triathlon was done the first weekend in May. The event went very well in regard to injury management. No real pain at the end to speak of in the hip and I ended up 3rd in my age group. It was slower than the previous year, but that was to be expected due to everything going on. Overall a confidence boosting experience. The training continued on a good upward trajectory until the second week in July when we had a family camping trip. At that time, I loaded a grill into the back of my pickup and aggravated the hip injury to the extent that I was scheduled for a 4-hour ride and only finished 2 before the pain was so bad that I couldn’t continue. A very discouraging time as the race was 6 weeks out. My coach and I adjusted once more, backing off the workouts until the discomfort subsided and I could at least keep moving for the longer durations needed to accomplish an IM race. The next big event in the training schedule came the Friday and Saturday at the end of July first of August. Cascade Lakes Relay was a great training weekend for the running part of the IM. I was scheduled to run around 16 miles on my 3 legs with the hope of adding on another 4-5 miles with someone else if the hip allowed. I did get all of my legs ran and had the added bonus of running my extra 4 miles with my buddy Josh who kind of got me into this IM thing. My legs were “feeling the burn” (inside joke), but I came out of that weekend ready mentally for CDA. Now it was time for 1 last long ride and a short taper into the event.
Lots of mental and physical challenges throughout the training took their toll in regard to motivation at times but we got to the start line in pretty good shape overall. The decision to hire a coach was very good in regard to having the flexibility to adjust on the fly and get the most bang for the training buck.


August 18, 2016-Thursday

Travel and check-in to the event and hotel. Nothing significant to report other than a great travel partner. Oh, and an awesome philly cheese steak sandwich for dinner from a food cart we knew of from previous trips to CDA.

August 19, 2016-Friday

Coach scheduled me for short swim, bike, run. My awesome travel companion has the same coach that I do and imagine, we had the flexibility to do our workouts together. We found a quiet place on the lake away from hustle and bustle of the race to set up. The lake was warm enough that we swam without our wetsuits. It was wonderful. We did a short ride on a concrete trail that goes around CDA followed by a short run. The rest of the day was spent relaxing in the room and getting all of my gear prepared for race day. At IM they give you five different bags so you have all of your gear collected and organized in regard to the event you are doing at the time. I had stuff scattered throughout the room and covering the bed. It looked like a sporting goods store vomited in our room. After the gear was ready Lisa and I headed for dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings-the dinner of champions.

August 20, 2016-Saturday

The last scheduled training was a thirty-minute ride. I got up early to get it done so I could get my bike and transition gear checked in at 10AM before the rush of other athletes showed up. When we finished dropping off the gear we stopped by the information meeting to see if there were any last minute instructions for the race. There were not. I did a little recon on how to get in and out of transition to get a mental picture of how race day might go. We found a good wood fired pizza joint for dinner and made sure to order enough for left overs, so I could put a couple pieces in my aid bags on the bike ride the next day. Bed at 1830.

August 21, 2016-Sunday (Race Day)

0330 was wake up alarm for a 0630 start time. I got up, ate some Wheaties, a banana, and a couple of cups of coffee which did their job in generating a trip to the restroom. An important thing on race day as you don’t want to stop during the race if possible. Lisa and I got to the venue around 0445. I dropped off my special needs bags and headed for my bike to top off the air in the tires and put some extra food in my transition bags. I also lowered my seat a bit because of some recent knee pain I had been having leading into the event. After discussing it with my coach the night before he said that lowering the seat a bit may help during the race. I made a decision to do it in the morning instead of maybe waiting until I had pain which would only compound as the race went on. Generally, you don’t want to make those kinds of changes on race morning but in this case it made sense, so I did. Transition was due to close in a half hour, so one last trip to the port-a-pot and then into the wetsuit. People are funny. Standing in line at the pots and there is very little movement of the line. I start to watch and it seems that 3 of the pots in the middle are having nobody in or out for quite some time. I walk up to them and the door is not latched, but the handle is slid over showing that the pot is “in use”. Boom three more pots for use just like that. The line moves a lot faster when you increase usage by 1/3. Falls under the category of: don’t be a sheep. Think for yourself and if something seems off check it out instead of talking about how slow the lines are. Saw Lisa when I finished, changed into my wetsuit, and walked to the swim entrance with my best friend and greatest supporter.

Swim-Goal Time-1:15 or better

When we walked into the venue in the dark you could hear the water lapping on the beach, but couldn’t see the water. This was a bit ominous in that it meant the wind was blowing and making for some chop on the lake. Once we got to the start there was definitely some chop on the lake that we were going to deal with on the swim. This for me is generally not a big deal other than it slows me down a bit. For others it can be a big deal. In 2014 they had a lot of wind and people were getting sea sick on the swim.

At CDA the swim is two laps of approximately 1.2 miles. At 0600 the cannon goes off and the first swimmers hit the water. On the first lap things went really well. I only had a couple of people who swam perpendicular to the rest of us. That never ceases to amaze me. Everybody is swimming one direction and you need to swim totally across everybody. The second lap is going equally well until the first turn. At the turn we swam directly into the sun. There was absolutely no way to see the buoys. Finally, I spot the buoys for the return leg off in the distance so I draw a mental picture and head in the direction of what I think the convergence will be. There are a lot of people who just stop in the middle of everything to try to see where they are headed. Navigating this takes a bit of time, but in the grand scheme it was maybe an extra 30 seconds I’m guessing. My chosen line seems to be good when the red buoy I need to go around appears and I head for the shore.

Actual Swim Time- 1:17.16

T1-Goal Time-Under 10:00

I get my wetsuit stripped by the strippers, yes there are people there to help get your wetsuit off. If you don’t hold your shorts on they may come off also. It is somewhat violent as you have the suit down at your waist, then the strippers grab on and yank as hard as they can and before you know it they are helping you to your feet with your wetsuit inside out. Then I head for the gear bag with all of my bike stuff. Then head into the changing tent. I wore my tri shorts under my wetsuit so I didn’t have to try to get them on over wet legs. I slide my bike short over the top of those, throw my bike jersey on, helmet, socks, shoes, sunglasses, gloves, and food in the pockets of my jersey. I head for my bike and find it right away which is why I did the recon the day before. When there are 1200 other bikes it can be a bit confusing where your bike is. I pull it off the rack and head the 100 yards to the mount area.

T1 Time- 9:04

Bike-Goal Time- 7:30-7:40

In CDA the bike ride is two loops of 56 miles. In the 56 miles there is a 14 mile out and back loop in one direction and a 42 mile out and back loop in the other direction with approximately 3000 feet of elevation gain per loop for a total elevation gain of 6000 for 112 miles. I head out on my first 56 miles and have a pretty good average pace for the first 56 miles. I average right around 15MPH which is good for me. If I can hit that or close to it on the second loop I will be right in the ballpark of my goals for the ride part of the race. At the end of the first loop you are back in town and around all of the spectators. It gives a little boost to get you ready for the second loop. This year my wifey decided to volunteer while I was riding and ended up on one of the corners of the ride. I got to see her twice on the short loop of the second 14 miles. Even got a kiss the second sighting, winner!!!!!! In the middle of the short loop at about mile 63 I get to have my special needs bag that has whatever I think I may need to complete the ride: different socks, soda, sandwich, pizza, bike tube, lube, are just a few things someone may want to have. I use my 2 Advil, 1 Tylenol, 2 small pieces of pizza and throw a sandwich in the pocket of my jersey and head off.

In these races there are things you can control and things you can’t. You can control: your training, nutrition (as long as you don’t get sick), effort and ATTITUDE. Things you can’t control: other athletes, mechanical problems, gut irritability, and the weather. This year the big thing that we couldn’t control was the weather. Last year when the event was in June they had one of the hottest IM events ever in CDA. It was 105+ with little wind. It was excruciating just watching. We had friends in the race and were there to watch. This year the forecast called for 95 degrees with high afternoon winds. Early in the ride I could tell that the heat was going to get close to what they had forecast, but the wind wasn’t supposed to show until later. Well, later started at the beginning of the second 56 miles. I could feel that I was exerting more energy to get the same speed as the first lap on the way out on the 14-mile loop. That 14 miles went pretty good though, speed wise. A couple of miles out of town on the big loop it became evident that the 15MPH average I had been carrying was going to be lost in this section. It is about 21 miles out to the turn around. There are two segments that are timed. On the first segment I averaged 10MPH on the second segment I averaged 12MPH. It was also 90+degrees. With the wind, the heat, and the elevation gain it took me a little over 2 hours to go 21 miles. In normal conditions on the flat I can do 21 miles in about 1:15. There was not one person out there having much fun. Some just couldn’t make it at all and were sitting dejected against a guard rail waiting to be picked up because they had nothing left in the tank to finish the ride. One of the things I was happy with in my approach to this race was being able to adjust my goals on the fly. Being flexible and understanding what you can control and what you can’t is a skill that is developed through a lot of trial and error. I could control my hydration. I got to a point where I was taking a 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade and a 20-ounce bottle of water at every aid station. The Gatorade I drank and the water I used to cool myself down. With the wind blowing and the heat the soaking would last about 15-20 minutes before I was pretty much dry. But the cooling factor was awesome when you were wet. By the time I got to the turnaround I knew the ride back to town was going to be pretty quick compared to the ride out. I was not disappointed. On the return trip I averaged about 17MPH for my fastest split of the day. Head wind sucks, tail wind rocks. That average includes a 1.5 mile stretch of uphill that averages about 8MPH. In the end the report said that the temperature got to 93 and that the winds exceeded 20MHP on the second half of the ride. I did see at least 1 person who had wrecked and was being loaded into the back of an ambulance. Tough way to end your day at Ironman. Hoping there was no long term damage done in that accident.

I was happy how I managed the conditions on the ride, especially the second half. I got most of my food down, but will be looking for a way to take in more of my nutrition through liquid versus solid food. PB&J just doesn’t go down easy when your mouth and throat are dry from the weather. Snickers bars have been a go to for me, but they have run their course also. Time to experiment a bit with some other things. I was happy with the Endurolytes. I never had any cramps throughout the event. I am glad I trained with the Gatorade that was going to be on the course. I knew how and when I needed to drink in the heat.

Bike Time-7:56.20, slower than I wanted, but happy considering the conditions on the course.

T-2 Goal Time Under 10:00

Coming into T-2 I could feel that my feet were tender in my bike shoes. The last time I did CDA I ended up with a large blister on one of my feet toward the end of the run. The blister developed in the spot where the pressure from my bike cleat was with my old shoes. This time I had a hot spot on the bottom of my left foot in the same spot where my current cleat rides. The only thing I can figure is that with the elevation and conditions in CDA that my feet develop blisters. It doesn’t happen in training and it didn’t happen last year at IM Canada which had as much elevation with wet soft feet for most of the ride.??? So, I dismount my bike and take the long painful walk to my run bag. As I go I get to have a conversation with a friend from work who came over to watch his sister finish her first IM. A pleasant distraction. I find my bag and head to the tent to change. Nothing too earth shattering in T-2 other than with the tender feet and the longer run (walk in my case) to get from the bike to the gear and to the tent my 10:00 minute transition was 11:00ish minutes.

Run- Goal Time- enough under 6:00 hours to see a 14 anything on the overall finish time.

After coming out of T-2 I knew that the ability to get to the finish with a 14 on the clock was pretty much out the window. The bike ride just took too long. So, it was time to adjust the goals. At the beginning of working with a coach he and I had talked about using a run/walk strategy for the marathon at the end of IM. I had worked with a 4:1 run to walk ratio in training and liked it for numerous reasons. The 4 minutes of running wasn’t so long that I would look at my watch wondering if it was time to walk yet and it was easy to work with the numbers and not have to do any math for the next interval. Math is not my strong suit and when you are tired it gets worse. So one of the new goals was to see just how far I could get into the marathon before that ratio went to what I call survival mode and doing what works to get me to the finish line.

I headed out on the course for the first lap of three that would take me to the finish line on Sherman Avenue. It became evident right away that the “hot” spot on the bottom of my foot was going to be an issue. On every push off there was pain and being since I had experience in this I knew it was only going to get worse through the rest of the run. I was about two miles in and started looking for a med tent to address the issue in some way, but there was no med tent until I got back to town in 7 miles. But, there was a 4-person paramedic crew sitting at one of the corners, so I walked up and asked if they had a way to address a blister. Through a little ingenuity and want to we figured out a way to take a significant amount of the pain away with a folded 4x4 and an op-site holding it in place. Because I addressed the blister early it allowed to “survival mode” to be pushed back significantly. I did pretty good with the run to walk ratio until about mile 14-16 when the outside of my right knee started to be grumpy. I am pretty sure that the tip of the road, which is pretty significant in some spots had some to do with it and that my stiff stride at that point didn’t help. But, I was close enough to the finish that I could walk if I had to. I didn’t want to but if it was necessary then I would. I did manage to keep running intervals, but they were much longer walks and slower runs to the end.

Run Time-6:04.42

Finish-Goal Time-14:59 or less

I absolutely am addicted to the IM finish atmosphere. People who don’t know you are pulling for a total stranger to accomplish a goal that some can’t even imagine attempting. And for me, I know that I get to see my best friend and biggest fan who never ever gives me any crap about the long training hours and not so happy moments that go along with those hours. I missed seeing her before the finish at my first one and have vowed to never ever do that again. We share in each other’s accomplishments and failures when they happen. We are each other’s biggest fan and when I finish one of these she finishes it also. She gets to share in that moment with me, forever. I love you, Honey.

Overall Finish Time-15:38.54

I missed my goal time by roughly 39 minutes. I can see those minutes in the bike ride due to the weather etc. on the second loop and on the run because of having to slow due to blister and sore knee. I knew it would be a push for me to make the 14hour number in an ideal world, so though I am disappointed in that, I am quite happy with the result. I bettered my time from the last one I did in CDA by almost a half hour on a more difficult weather day. I missed my best time in any of the three that I have done by about 3 minutes. And I came out of it with none of the injuries worse and in some cases better than when we began this journey in March. Considering a six month ramp up into the event I think it turned out really well. My coach and I already know some of the things we will work on for next season. Probably no IM next year, but other goals will be made and attacked. If they aren’t challenging, then they don’t make you stronger.

Final Thoughts

Athlete/Volunteer Interactions

Bike-Just seeing how some of the other athletes were suffering in the heat and wind on the way out to the turnaround was inspiring. Many people I encountered were literally just trying to keep the crank going around. Many goal times were adjusted, I am sure. We all were encouraging each other to just keep moving and not to give up.

Run- Brooke, a 36-year-old career military lady stationed in Alabama who kept me company for much of the run as we leap frogged on my run walk strategy. We had a good laugh as around just about every corner somebody seemed to know her. If I remember correctly she said she had 20+ family and friends cheering her on.

Volunteer-On the run at the aid station by the marina there was a young boy giving out water who you could tell wanted to help in any way possible. As I approached the station I was thinking I was going to get Gatorade but he had water and wanted to help so bad that I had him fill my hand-held with 3-4 cups of water. He was so proud that he could take care of my needs. It was awesome. To his parents, thank you for raising a young man that will be a success in the future.

Friends and family

It never ceases to amaze me on all the love that comes my way when I am in the middle of one of these races as Lisa keeps everyone updated. Thank You doesn’t capture how much it means to me when I read all to posts and texts, but that really is all I can say or do. So, thank you everybody for the encouragement.

Best friend, Sherpa, Wife

Lisa I can’t put into words what you mean to me in life and at one of these events. In life you are my soul mate and life partner. In triathlon you are a selfless giving helper that takes a lot of the little things off my plate so I don’t have to think of them or worry that I am going to have this or that. I love you and here’s to our future challenges to overcome.

There are a lot of people out there that have very inspirational stories for why they do endurance events. People tell me that I am an inspiration in one form or another to them. To me if I am going to inspire, I would like to inspire people to find a goal to complete that they have only ever dreamed of. Find that deep down desire in your heart, whether it’s an Ironman, promotion, long distance bike ride, marathon, new job, something that seems out of reach and figure out how to get it done. Find people who have done it. Find someone who can give advice, glean what sounds like it may work for you and just get started. It really is that simple. It may not happen overnight and there will be setbacks along the way, the wind may blow or the blister may come but keep moving forward and before you know it you are at the finish and have accomplished something that nobody can ever take away from you. When I was younger and would watch the Ironman television show I could not fathom doing anything like it. Now I have done three of them. I am nothing special in the triathlon world, but I do have the ability to keep moving forward at a steady enough pace to reach the finish. With a little motivation and determination, we are more capable than we think of accomplishing great things.

So, that’s it for Ironman CDA 2016. Here’s to future endeavors that stretch and strengthen me and hopefully inspire others to do great things in their own world.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

I Love the Olympics!!

I love the Olympics.

It doesn't matter if it is the Winter Olympics or the Summer Olympics.  If the Olympics are on then my TV is on that channel.

It doesn't matter what the sport is.  It doesn't even matter if the USA is participating at that moment.

I love the Olympics.

My first memory of watching the Olympics is watching Nadia Comaneci in 1976.  I was six years old.  I didn't know about communism and the Iron Curtain.  All I remember was that she was amazing and did really well.  It was fun to watch.

The Olympic event that really solidified my love of the Olympics was when Men's Hockey Team won the Gold at Lake Placid in 1980.  I was nine years old.  I didn't really care about hockey but got caught up in the excitement with my mom and step-dad.  Especially my mom!  lol  I remember us all yelling and shouting in excitement when they won.  Later we watched as the team received their gold medals, the flag rose and the National Anthem played.

I was hooked.

I didn't do any sports as a kid.  Interests were in other things and we didn't really have the money for the sports fees and buying the equipment so it wasn't something I focused on.  But I have always admired those that put in that work and effort.

When I watch the Olympics I see people that work hard to represent their country.  Most without even the thought or hope of getting a medal.  They are so excited to be there.  They savor every moment.  They soak it all in.  From the opening ceremonies to the closing ceremonies.

Some of my favorite Olympic moments don't even involve American athletes.

In the Summer Olympics in Australia there was a young swimmer from Equitorial Guinea that finished dead last in his heat for the 100 meter freestyle with a time of 1:52.72.  Still faster than I could do it but significantly slower than the winner of the gold medal who posted a time of 48.30.  What I remember about that heat was that the crowd cheered the young man who was coming in so far behind everyone else as if he was winning.  They cheered his effort.  They cheered the fact that he kept going.  They cheered his spirit.  It was awesome!!

I remember the Winter Olympics where a group of speed skaters that were fighting for the lead ended up falling and taking out most of the racers in the crash.  Except for the guy who was in last place.  He ended up skating past the mayhem and winning the heat.

Rulon Gardner won the gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Australia.  I was pregnant with my youngest and probably couldn't sleep.  I remember that it was on late in the evening.  The announcers kept explaining that it was going to be a long shot for Rulon to win.  His opponent had a long, long list of championships and wins that went on for years.  He had the experience and the track record.  He was going to win the gold.  Except he didn't.  Rulon won!  I remember him jumping around the mat, hugging his coach and his smile just never quit.  Glad he didn't listen to all the people that told him he didn't have a chance in hell to beat that guy.

The first year that the Olympics allowed professional basketball players to be on the teams.  I loved watching the basketball games that year the most.  Here were a bunch of guys that get paid a ridiculous amount of money to play basketball for the NBA.  It's their job.  They work hard at it.  But a lot of professional basketball players don't seem to have that love of the game anymore.  It's why I like watching college basketball better.  So the Summer Olympics in 1992 where the USA team had professionals was fun to watch.  Suddenly they weren't playing for themselves and a huge paycheck.  They were playing for national pride and a gold medal.  I loved it.

I love the medal ceremonies.  The flag being raised and the National Anthem of the Gold Medal winner is so cool to watch.  It doesn't matter the country.  Watching the athletes be so proud, humbled, overwhelmed and happy is amazing.  No matter where we are from or what our culture is, this part is the same.

The Rio Summer Olympics have been so much fun to watch!  As usual, amazing athletes doing amazing things.

Swimming has become more fun to watch over the years since my kids have participated on swim teams, both club and school teams.  My son played water polo so I enjoy that more as well.  When you know the work that goes into a sport more intimately the level of appreciation goes up I think.

Just like the rest of the country I loved watching the Women's Gymnastic team show their amazing talent, Michael Phelps set even more records for medals and Ashton Eaton win gold in the decathlon. That is just a few of epic things that happened during this Olympics.

One of my favorite moments was during the 5000 meter run.  Two women tripped and fell during one of the preliminary heats.  Abbey D'Agostino and Nikki Hamblin both fell.  D'Agostino got up, but instead of taking off she turned and helped Hamblin get up and get started again.  It was awesome to watch and I loved it.  Then D'Agostino couldn't really run, turns out she had hurt her knee.  Hamblin was trying to help her along.  So much sportsmanship and concern for another person!  Not a teammate or anything.  Just someone struggling.  They both managed to finish and gave each other a big hug at the end.

That's what the Olympics is about!

That's what sports should be about.

Working hard to do your best but realizing sometimes that there is more to win than winning the race or the game.

Another moment from this Olympics is when the US Women's Water Polo team won the gold medal. This was my favorite medal ceremony by far!  Here are all these women and they aren't just mouthing the words to the Star Spangle Banner.  They are belting it out.  You could see that they were totally singing it out loud.  It was awesome!!!!

This morning I watched the Women's Olympic Triathlon.  It was so fun to watch.  Fun to see it with the perspective of doing one myself.  Of course, these ladies did theirs in half the time I did mine but still...

I may not have the speed or the experience of the women participating in the Olympics.  But I have done the work, put in the time and done the distance.  So I get it in a way that I wouldn't have during the last Olympics.

Gwen Jorgensen was the American woman that was the favorite to win.  She had participated in the London Olympics in 2012 and got a flat tire on the bike ride and her race fell apart at that point.  She was trying to have a different ending this time.

The commentators said that if she was at the front of the pack at the end of the bike ride then it would be really hard to beat her because she was so strong on the run.  That turned out to be very true.  The woman from Sweden stayed right behind her for most of the run.  At one point they had a little exchange where they both slowed down trying to let the other take the lead.  Some strategy going on there.  It was funny to watch the two women suddenly slow down and weave back and forth trying to let the other one go by.  Finally it got close to the finish, less than a mile and Jorgensen took off.  I thought she had been running fast before that.  Holey moley!  She just turned it on and left the Swedish woman way behind.

I watched as she came up to the tape across the finish line and could see that she was crying.  She paused a moment and grabbed the tape and lifted it over her head with tears pouring down her face.  She put her hands over her face and continued to cry.  Then she hugged the next athletes that came across the finish line.  Next she found her coach and hugged him and cried.

I was sitting here crying too.  Because I know how she felt.

Doesn't that sound strange?  I could completely relate to an Olympic Gold medalist.

It looked exactly like how I reacted and felt after finishing my Olympic distance triathlon.

The first thought is, "I can't believe I just did that!!"


Appreciation for the people around you that contributed to this amazing accomplishment.

Pride in the accomplishment.

Disbelief that it really happened.  "Holy shit, I really did that!"

More tears.

I watched the first American to ever win a gold medal in the triathlon event this morning.  I was 49th out of 52 women at my Olympic triathlon.  No comparison, right?  Wrong!

I probably will never stand on a podium winning a medal for my athletic ability.  I probably will never win an age group medal.

Today I knew that what I felt at the end of my triathlon mirrored the emotions that Gwen Jorgensen showed at the end of hers.  An Olympian who is a professional athlete and a teacher that is trying new challenges in order to be the healthiest she can be.

I just think that is really cool.

Someday I am going to attend an Olympic event and see some of these amazing things happen in person.

In the meantime I'm going to enjoy watching my own friends do amazing things and keep working at doing some amazing things of my own.

My hubby does his third Ironman tomorrow.  I'm volunteering at the race for a few hours so that I can be cheering on people doing their own version of awesomeness.

I can't wait!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Cascade Lakes Relay 2016

Super Team Dwayne had another awesome time at Cascade Lakes Relay.

This was the fifth year of doing this relay for six of us on the twelve person team.  That's pretty cool.  To commemorate this milestone we all received a special shirt from CLR.  I have a friend that already has one and I was really excited to get my own.

I was going into the relay with only a week since I did my Olympic Triathlon.  I figured I was either going to do better than I ever had before or I was going to suck it up because I was too wiped out from the race I had done last week.

I have never had what I would call a good CLR.  I always have fun.  But I never run well.  Early on it was because I was just learning to run and I was SLOW!  Heat, elevation and hills did not help my speed at all.  Figuring out how to fuel myself throughout the two days was also a challenge.  One year I got a massive migraine and spent most of my night leg throwing up.  Tends to not help one run faster.  Last year I was hoping it would be the year that I could feel like I really rocked my runs.  Then I got a massive tooth abscess at the beginning of July which made my face look like I had been hit by a baseball bat.  Made it really hard to get my training done and so I ended up not as prepared as I could have been.  And really, I still didn't do well with heat, elevation and hills.  lol  For some reason they don't take that out of the CLR route.

Now it's 2016 and I've spent the last seven months training for an Olympic Triathlon.  I have done lots of Wednesday evening runs and interval workouts with my coach in the heat.  Lots of hills while hiking and biking.  I'm in better shape then I have been in since I started running.  I have learned a lot about nutrition and what I what works for me to refuel and not make myself sick during the relay.  I was really hoping that it would all come together and I would have a kick ass relay.

For those of you who have never done a relay it works like this.  You form a team with 12 exceptionally crazy, fun people.  Then divide the team into two vans, Van 1 and Van 2.  Van 1 starts the relay and everyone in the van runs one section of the course.  Then Van 2 takes over and runs six sections of the course while Van 1 gets some rest.  We keep switching until every person on the team has run three legs of the race ending with the last runner in Van 2.  The Cascade Lakes Relay starts at Diamond Lake, Oregon and works it's way north to finish, 216.6 miles later, in Bend, Oregon.

Decorating the vans is an important part of the relay race.  Remember, what happens at CLR stays at CLR.  Unless it ends up in a blog.  :-)

Van 2 window paint:
Van 1 window paint:
I make magnets every year to tag other vans.  More & more teams are doing the same thing. :-)
The first two years we did this relay I was in Van 2, the last two years I was in Van 1.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages.  We swapped back to being in Van 2 for this year.  The biggest disadvantage for Van 2 is that two of the three legs are in the afternoon which generally means hot.  This year was no exception.

I was the first runner for our van at the first major exchange.  This means we got to the exchange point and waited for the last runner from Van 1 to arrive and hand off the baton (actually, in this case it's a slap bracelet) to me.

It was warm and I was nervous.  Joe and I made a plan for making sure I had plenty of water and Gatorade.  We both have handheld water bottles for running.  I would start out with one and then every mile they would check on me and he would have the other handheld bottle ready and we would swap.  We also had neck coolers and a sprayer to cool off the runners.  One of the things that I love about this relay is the ability to be able to support the runners a lot.  There are some legs that you can't because they are on a trail or the vans can't be on that road.  But most of the roads have wide shoulders or places that it's easy to pull out and park for a bit.  Then people in the van can hop out and support their runner.

Van 1 showed up at the major exchange and I got my bib number and got all set to get started.  It wasn't long before I saw Steve coming down the cinder road with his trucker hat, plaid shirt and shorts on.   He slapped the bracelet on my arm and I took off.
Van 2 Ready to get this party started!
I was careful to not go out to fast.  It was over 95 degrees when I started and I had 5.5 miles to run.  I had done this leg before when we were Van 2 but it used to be 3.8.  When I did it before I ended up walking most of it because it was just too hot and I couldn't breath.  I didn't want to have that again!

I did really well for the first four miles.  I was running and then taking a one minute walk break.  The van was checking on me every mile or so and I was swapping out the handheld just like we planned.  It was a good plan because almost every time I had drank almost the entire thing.  At home I can go three or four miles and still have water left.  It was HOT!  The neck coolers and getting sprayed also helped a great deal.  My legs were so hot from the heat coming off the pavement, I felt like the backs of my legs were getting sunburned from the ground.

After the first four miles I started struggling so I shortened up the run time and did some longer walks.  I didn't want to end up hurting myself or making myself sick by pushing too hard on my first leg and then have nothing left for my last two legs.  There was still a lot of CLR to go.

I finished up my leg with an average pace of 13:53.  While not as fast as runs I have been doing lately it was really a good run for me in the heat, elevation and hills.  I had to go back in my Nike info and find the other two times I ran this leg for comparison.  Here's what I found.
  • 2011: 4.09 miles, 15'11" average pace.
  • 2012: 4 miles, 14'58" average pace.
  • 2016: 5.52, 13'53" average pace.
See why I was happy even though I had to slow down at the end?  Same leg, a mile and a half longer than it had been before and I was a minute a mile faster than the last time I ran it.  And it was WAY hotter, which is scary because I thought it was ridiculously hot the first two times I ran this leg.  :-)

Overall, considering how hot it was I felt like my first leg was a solid effort for me and I was pretty happy about it.  Poor Joe had a seven mile run after me and it was the hottest leg of the day, about 100 degrees.  He cranked it out as well.  All of the legs for our first turn as Van 2 were over 90 degrees so everyone had to deal with it.  But we had plenty of water, Gatorade and used our sprayer to cool off our teammates and anyone who happened to run by while we were waiting.  It felt good to get that first leg done.  The weather forecast called for slightly cooler temperatures for Saturday so I was hoping that the worst of the heat was behind us.
Ross & Brandi waiting for Brandi's first leg to start.
Amazing sunset as we waited at the turnout to the infamous (in our van anyway) water tower
Ross cheering for Brandi as she zips by. 
The sky was amazing at Silver Lake!
Jac waiting for Brandi to arrive so Van 1 can start their second turn.
We headed back to the house we use as base camp.  Thanks to one couple on our team we have a place to stay near La Pine and it is great to head back to the house to shower, get on clean clothes and catch a teeny bit of sleep.  I think we got about one hour of shut eye this time.  All too soon it was time to head out to meet up with Van 1 again.  Joe had the first leg this time.  He started at about 2:00 a.m.  I was going to be next up.

When we originally planned what legs we would run I was supposed to do a run that was 3.5 miles.  They made some changes to the course this year and to the length of some of the legs.  My 3.5 mile night run turned into a 6.9 mile night run.  But I figured that I would rather to a longer run during the night than during the day when it would be hot.  Plus the leg trended downhill most of the run.
Party at the 2nd major exchange.  Lots of people, lots of moths!  
I started at 4:00 a.m.  Joe had the leg before me and handed off to me after a great 7 mile leg.  I took off and found a good/comfortable pace and just tried to keep it steady.  I ran 10 minutes and walked 1 minute.  I did that the entire 6.9 miles.  I loved how cold it was!  I was wearing capri running pants, a t-shirt and a long sleeved shirt and it was perfect!  I loved how I felt just as solid for the last mile of my run as I did for my first mile.  The van checked on me regularly but I usually waved them off and kept right on trucking.  I swapped out my water bottle once.  With two miles left I told them to go to the exchange, I was fine!  What a great feeling that was!
  • 2011: 3.1 miles, 12'29" average pace.
  • 2012: 3.06 miles, 13'16" average pace.
  • 2016: 6.9 miles, 12'02" average pace.  (This started as the same three miles as 2012 with more tacked on.  And I still rocked it.  :-)  Happy dance!)
I could see the exchange up ahead and a line of cars.  Evidently there wasn't much parking for an exchange and they were a bit backed up (a little Hood to Coast like).  I passed the van in the line of cars.  They told me Wendie was waiting for me and they would pick me up on the other side.  I was able to pick up the pace a little, which was fun since it was at the end of a fairly long run.  I handed off to Wendie and then literally ran to jump into the van.

The second round of legs, no matter which van you are in, is usually at night.  This is where we are all tired.  I am lucky that instead of being people that get cranky, we are people that get really silly.  Everything is way funnier in the middle of the night.  It's absolutely hysterical in the middle of the night at a relay race!

For the first time in running CLR I had two really solid runs for me!!  I was really excited and super proud of myself.  Two down, one to go.

It wasn't long before we were at the second major exchange getting ready to hand off to Van 1 again.  Major exchanges are always fun because there a ton of people and we get to see our teammates and check in, share stories and see how everyone is feeling.

Once more we headed back to the house.  This time it wasn't a long drive so we got a longer nap.  Not long enough but better than the one we got after the first exchange.  I took a shower and laid down in bed.  Good thing I set my alarm because I was out like a light!!

The last exchange before the finish line was on Mt. Bachelor.  The drive up there is always beautiful! We got up there around 1:00 p.m on Saturday afternoon.  Our team had decided to Van Leap.  Which means that we got started on our final legs before Van 1 arrived at the exchange.  Basically we got a head start and had two runners on the course at the same time for awhile.  We couldn't start until 2:00 p.m. and I think we only really got a 30 minute head start but it was nice to have a little bit of a buffer to make sure we didn't finish super late in the evening.
My awesome teammates!  Go Van 2!!
A very nice lady from another team took this picture with all of us.  One leg left to go!
Mt. Bachelor.  Believe it or not, way more snow then last year!
Josh and Joe decided to run their legs together so they took off.  It was already getting pretty warm.  Not quite as warm as the day before, it was only 90 degrees instead of over 96 degrees.  Plus there was a nice breeze.  That breeze made a huge difference!  After the guys went then Wendie had her longest leg.  She totally rocked it!  Then it was my turn.  All I had was a 2.5 mile run.  Short and sweet, mostly downhill.  I was so nervous!
Van 2 with Mt. Bachelor in the background.  Watching for Josh & Joe.
Brandi & Ross watching for the guys.
Josh & Joe looking awesome!
Wendi waiting for her last leg to start.  Love that smile!  :-)
Coming into the exchange.
Sounds silly to be nervous when I had done so well for my first two legs.  Here's why I was nervous:
  1. In the four years we have done CLR previously I have had a good run here or there but I have never had what I felt was a solid CLR from start to finish.  I was one run away from changing that.
  2. It was hot already and I've had short legs at the end of CLR before and been too hot and too tired to make it work.  I was worried that would happen again.
  3. I didn't want to be this close to having a solid CLR and blow it with only a 2.4 mile run!
So I had butterfly's in my stomach setting off for my last leg.  Josh had decided to run it with me.  I high-fived Wendie and took off while Josh told Wendie what he was up to and then caught up.  I found a really good pace that actually seemed maintainable.  It helped that I was running downhill.  My first mile was under 11 minutes!!!  What?!  We came to a small incline and I did a walk break and we took off again.  There was a young lady in front of us that was struggling a bit.  I could tell she was having a difficult time, it looked like she had a stitch in her side.  I passed her once when she was walking but then she started running and passed me when I was walking.  I caught up with her again after the incline and a couple of times she heard me coming and would start running again.  I finally passed her again because at this point I was determined to beat her to the exchange.  lol  I was going to take another minute walk break but Josh told me she was closing in again and I needed to get moving so I took off again and ran the rest of the way to the exchange.  Turns out she was more than a quarter mile behind me but Josh wanted me to run the rest of the way so he made it sound like she was closer.  I didn't check for myself or I would have known she was farther back.  Stinker.  But I can't be too mad at him keeping me going since I my average pace was 11'09!!!!  Holy moly!  I don't think I have ever run that fast in the heat.  Probably didn't hurt that it was downhill but still.  :-)
My most awesome running buddy, Joshy!  He's so awesome he shines.  :-)  
Done with all three legs!  The smile says it all.  
My first two years in Van 2 I had a bee up my butt that I needed to do a very hard leg so that everyone else wasn't having to do all hard runs.  I did the 4 mile, 1000 foot elevation gain leg in the heat of the day.  It wasn't pretty.  I walked it both times.  The only good thing about it was that I got it done.  lol  I had no problem taking an easy, short run and loved that I did it really well.  

Suddenly I'm done!  I've done all three of my legs.  I have run 14.8 miles over 36 hours.  I have finally had a really great CLR.  I had my best run in the heat and uphills.  I had my fastest run night run.  Then I beat that and had an even faster run for my last leg.  I was a happy camper!
The fabulous Super Team Dwayne aka STD.  
Showing our goofy side.
Was I still slower than everyone else on the entire team?  Yep.

Do I care at all?  Nope!  

All I need to know is that I did the absolute best I could for each leg and I was proud of myself each time I got done.  

I had so much fun!  

I loved looking at what I had done and feeling proud of myself instead of wishing I had done better.  

Could I do better next time?  Probably. 

Will I keep working at becoming better and stronger?  Absolutely!
BFF and I in our hard earned Five year shirts!
Six of us on the team have been on the team every year that Super Team Dwayne has participated.  This year was our fifth year and we got a special shirt to commemorate this.  I am exceptionally proud of being on this team and for earning this shirt!
This year for the first time I ordered a women's shirt for my race shirt.  I usually order a mens shirt so that it will fit and I can actually wear it.  This year I took the leap and ordered a women's XL.  It may not seem like a big deal but I'm really proud of being able to get a shirt this size.  :-)  Sometimes it's the little things that help motivate.
Between my Olympic Triathlon and Cascade Lakes Relay I have taken a big leap in appreciating where I am as an athlete and being proud of myself instead of comparing myself to others and where they are as athletes.  

Their story is different then my story.
My body is different then their body.
My journey is different then their journey.  

My fabulous team got to the finish line and ran in together.  Then we headed back to the house for showers and pizza.  So much fun to sit around and compare stories and laughter.  One of the reasons that I love doing this race is the people that I get to do it with.  The team goal is to have a good time and make memories.  Mission accomplished!!

Sunday is our fun day!  The reward for all the hard work is a float on the Deshuttes River.  We float, laugh, talk, give each other a hard time and just unwind as we drift along.  I was supposed to do a 1000 yard swim on Sunday.  That didn't happen.  That water was just too cold to try and swim in for a sustained time.  Plus fighting the current was an issue.  So I turned on my Garmin when we started the float.  I'm sure that it was some form of exercise.  :-)  Funny though, my coach deleted that activity off of Training Peaks.  He must not have agreed with me.  lol
Faylene & Andrea
My awesome hubby
Hey, I'm in a picture I didn't take!  :-)
Brandi & Dwayne
Ross on the paddle board. 
Jac & Andrea
I could get very used to this. 
Jac & Ross

Getting geared up to head back to work in a few weeks.  Not ready to have summer be over but I am ready to see my students again and get back into a regular routine.

I signed up for another Olympic Triathlon next month.  :-)  I had so much fun with the first one I figured I should do it again.  This one is in Sweet Home next month.  I can't wait!  :-)