Friday, June 30, 2017

No Limits - Buffalo Springs 70.3

“Believe in yourself and all that you are.  Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.” ~Christian D. Larson

“Your playing small does not serve the world…We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.” ~Marianne Williamson

Many say it starts between the ears, but I believe it goes deeper than that, from the very depths of our souls, when we shove aside the doubts, fears, criticisms, and our own limitations we set on ourselves.  When we believe and our conviction cannot be shaken, we set ourselves free.  Liberating us from the parameters that others, or even ourselves, set upon us.  When this happens, the possibilities are truly endless.
I was afraid and in awe of Buffalo Springs 70.3 for as long as I can remember.  It was a race described by others as challenging, epic, and hard as hell, but also you could hear the reverence in the voices of those who had conquered it before as they gave you the play by play of their adventures there.  A race with a local feel, a race loved by many, and a race that should never be underestimated.  My original plan after getting my feet wet at Longhorn 70.3 in the fall was to do IM Texas 70.3 in Galveston in early April.  Waited too late to register, and it ended up selling out.  I was sad at the time, but you know what they say about God’s timing.  Not long after it sold out, I caught the flu, so training came at a pretty solid halt, which would have been at the point I would have to have been ramping up the mileage, so it all worked out.  Instead, I took a deep breath, and signed up for a race I had been wanting to do forever, but approached with a bit of trepidation.  The moment I hit that enter key and received my confirmation email, I knew I was all in, and there was no turning back.  Fast forward four months later, and I was on the road to Lubbock to a race that I absolutely could not wait to do.  I was eerily calm, which was strange for me, but I took it as a good sign. I was ready.  I would hold nothing back and go for it.  I was told beforehand that the Buffalo Springs course was unique and I should throw time goals out the window, and I was well aware this would be a much different 70.3 than I had ever raced.  There was no doubt, I not only was ready to do this, but I would go into it with an open mind, and ”no limits” would be my mantra for this race.

Race Day - SWIM
I loved being able to set everything out in transition area like the days of old triathlon, instead of everything in baggies.  This still didn’t seem to help me much, seeing that I am slow as molasses in transition, but I am planning to work on that!  I was still extremely calm race morning, and had to use the port-o-potty line twice because I could not go the first time, which was again, strange for me.  I had my transition set up with plenty of time to spare, so I spent the extra time visualizing the day.  Soon it was time to head down to the beach where we would start the swim.  On the way, I ran into my amazing friendy Kris, and her Big Sexy teammates, which was a great way to start the day!  We took a quick pic, then her group was up first.  Told her I was coming for her and to have a great race!  My group was only three minutes behind, so soon it was our turn to run off of the beach and dive in the lake to begin our 1.2 mile swim.  I have to be honest, usually the swim is my favorite part, but for this race, I felt like the swim was the portion I just had to get through, and I could not wait to get to the bike and run.  I had been hitting some solid splits on my 100, 200, 300, and 400m pace sets leading up to Buffalo Springs so I felt confident that I could post a fast swim split, and actually wanted the fastest split in the field.  I could never seem to find a good rhythm though, especially at the beginning.  I was swimming over people, people were swimming over me…this didn’t bother me really, playing water polo in high school helped me become immune to being dunked, pulled, swum over, etc.  Mainly I just felt like as soon I got going I was running into more bodies, and at a couple of the turn buoys I got all caught up in traffic as well.  By the last 800 m or so, I finally felt like I was finding my stroke, and I could see the swim exit just ahead.  As the volunteers grabbed my hands and helped me out, I could see another pink cap out of the corner of my eye…and kudos to my competitor for hustling across that timing mat.  Note to self…next time move faster!  As I ran into transition, I felt like I hustled, but apparently I did not.  According to my super slow transition times you’d think I was having donuts and coffee back there! Holy geez I need to work on those!
SWIM: 28:27              T1: 4:22 (yuck!)

BIKE

The hill out of T1 was no joke, and everyone had told me beforehand to make sure I was in my small ring, and they were not kidding.  This course hits you with it right from the start coming out of the gate.  No mercy.  As I started the climb it was not fear that I felt, but rather, exhilaration to be out there on this amazing course.  I spun up the hill, then we went down, over the bridge, and were climbing again.  Things flattened out as we headed out of the park.  We had a bit of tailwind for a bit then headwind as we were on a stretch headed towards the canyon.  As we approached it looked amazeeeeee!!!!  Down we went, then a short flat section, then it was time to climb out.  I knew climbing was my strength, so I worked those sections, passing as many people as I could, then back to a harder gear to take off on the flats.  As we finished the first climb I saw my Smash/Tri-Belief teammate Julia and we both exchanged “great job!” and would leap frog each other again on the run.  We went down the road a bit, then turned around and came at the canyon from the other direction.  I was super stoked to see Kris as I was heading for the turn-around section and she was coming from it! We yelled at each other and it gave me a boost!  I was not crazy about the turn-around sections on this course, always felt like I was going to wipe out, but it is what it is.  Another skill I would need to work on!  As we headed back for our return trip down the canyon I felt strong on my descent, I had been trying to work on them more since I knew descending was one of my biggest weaknesses on a hilly course.  They were still not as fast as I would like them to be, and I knew I would have to make up time on the hills and flats.  As I hit the flat section of the canyon for our return trip, I felt a little sluggish, and my cadence had slowed as well.  I knew if I kept pedaling it would pass, because how you feel one moment seems to change like the winds in these events.  As we climbed out and were back on the flats headed towards the switchbacks, I was in awe of the sky and the dark storm clouds in the distance…I thanked God for this beautiful day and couldn’t wait to see what else He had in store for us.  We rode out on the farm roads, and turned onto a chip seal like section for a few, which was my least favorite section.  I kept checking my bottles to make sure they were not being launched out of their cages.  Somewhere in here my friend Lexa had caught me, and I while still holding steady, I tried to not let her get too far ahead.  Finally we made it to this forest section that encompassed the road, a section I had been told to watch for by several people, and when it came into view it literally took my breath away and gave me wings! I bounded through wishing I could stop and take pictures of all of this! I mentally took snap shots throughout this ride!  After the forest we headed up the first switchback, and it was so much fun!!!  As I bounded up and passed some riders, I made sure to hug my side, because others were screaming down the other side and it’s a pretty narrow road.  After cresting I rode down a little ways towards the turn around, and I saw Kris again! Two for two!  I looped around and headed back to descend the switchback, then rode over to switchback #2!  Again, so much fun, reminded me of a very miniature Mt. Lemmon, which happens to be one of my all-time favorite rides, so I was in the happiest of places climbing these switchbacks!!!  Rode out to turn around again and three for three for seeing Kris! As we descended the switchback we headed back to the forest section and climbed out of that as well to get to the flat roads that would take us back to the park.  At this point, I settled into aero, played Motley Crue’s “Kickstart My Heart” on loop in my head, and hit it.  The last 15 miles flew by!  Before I knew it, we were turning into the park and heading for transition.  Then it was down the hill, across the bridge, and up one last big hill before descending into T2.  That very last hill climb seemed the toughest out of all of them since it was right at the end when our legs were already trashed.  There was some cramping that took place as I climbed that hill, and at one point I just hoped I wouldn’t fall over because of it.  The struggle was definitely real on that hill.  After cresting, it was smooth sailing downhill into transition.  I hopped off and checked the watch, and OMG I just PRed the bike!!!!   Was all smiles as I racked my bike and put on the run gear.  Again, not sure if I stopped for lunch or what in transition because holy smokes how long can it take a person to put on some shoes?!!!!  Seriously, some transition work is absolutely in order!

BIKE: 3:08:55!                      T2: 5:11 :(



RUN

I was absolutely beside myself to get to the run portion of the race.  I wanted to see what my body could do on trashed legs.  Although I had some strong long run sessions leading up to this race, I knew that I couldn’t really simulate how the legs would feel on race day, and it would be interesting to see how it would all play out.  The run was two loops, with a big nasty “dream crusher” hill in the middle of each loop.  I was told to run up that hill no matter what, DO NOT under any circumstances, walk it.  So off I went on my first loop in my happy place, clicking off the miles, and holding a steady pace.  I figured if I could average between 9:30-10 min miles, then that would put me somewhere close to 2:10 or a little under, which would put my total time at 5:56ish, and I would break 6 hours!  So I had it all planned out, and my body did fairly well the first loop, I even ran up the “dream crusher” hill, and saw my friends on the out and backs which was awesome and really gave me a boost!  After coming down the hill, the last part of the loop winds you around for what seems like forever (especially feels like the LONGEST LOOP EVER the second time through), and by the time you hit the turn-around point, you can see the bridge in the distance and that’s what you are running for.  By the time you get to the bridge, you either stay left to finish, or stay right to go for your second loop.  As I headed into my second loop, my times started to slow down a bit, and it was a struggle to WANT to look at the watch (to hopefully see I was on pace)/to NOT want to look at the watch (to see that I was in fact, ACTUALLY falling off pace).  This continued the first half of the loop until I came upon “dream crusher” hill, and it was more of a slow shuffle up this beast the second time around.  A few of us joked as we worked our way up the hill that it seemed so much longer the second time! And steeper too!  We all laughed and continued our sufferfests.  I saw friends Holly, Lexa, and Kris coming down the hill at separate intervals, and those high fives really did give me wings!  I saw Julia at the top, as well as another Smash teammie that I had seen for most of the run, and we gave each other head nods, waves, and yelled "Go Smash!!!"  At about this time after I had crested “dream crusher” hill for the second time, I looked at my watch and knew it was going to be close, and I’d have to go like 9 min miles for the last 3.5.  Challenge accepted.  I pushed the pace on the flats at the top then headed down the hill for the last section of the loop.  While I would not consider this run course super hilly (except for “dream crusher” of course), I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s flat either.  It has some good short rollers that seem like doozies at the very end.  As I came down that hill and headed into the last section, the wheels finally came off, and…IT. WAS. GLORIOUS.  To be here in this moment, fighting for the sub 6, fighting for a PR on this course of all courses.  Up until this last September, I had not run for 2.5 years.  During my pregnancy I couldn’t run (due to my hip dysplasia although I did not know that at the time, I just knew it hurt), so I stopped running at 9 weeks…fast forward when baby girl was born I squeaked in a couple of 2-3 milers before the hip went…then it was hip replacement surgery in March 2016, and 6 months later I could put feet to pavement.  But even then, I did most of my runs on the Alter G, pretty much most of my run training for Longhorn was done on that machine.  As I headed into a couple of half marathons in early 2017, I hit the road more, and was amazed how well the hip was doing.  So here I was, with about 8 good months of run training under my belt after a 2.5 year hiatus, and I was in the ballpark to go sub 6 and set a new PR?!  I was ecstatic.  I was grateful.  I was euphoric.  I thanked God and hoped that this would continue to be part of my journey, part of my story.  That He would use me through sport for His glory.  And I ran as hard as I could.  My legs were done, trashed, toast, whatever you want to call it they were through.  They were ready for a nap.  But I pushed on.  I saw my friends coming back the other way after the last turn-around and I shouted “let’s finish this!” as we passed by each other one last time. My legs were lead at this point but I was determined to finish this race strong.  As I rounded that last turn-around, I ran for that bridge.  Just one foot in front of the other.  The bridge got closer.  One foot in front of the other.  Still closer.  Not going to make the 6 hours.  That’s ok, the PR is still up for grabs!  The bridge was right there!  I was crossing the bridge!  The volunteer was giving instructions as he had before, left to the finish, right to head to the second loop.  He asked if I was going left and I said “Heck yes!!!!!”  And as I turned left and headed for the chute, there was nothing but a big smile on my face.  I snagged that 10 min PR and I could not have been happier.  No tears for this one.  The tears for Longhorn was the closing of a chapter.  This finish at Buffalo Springs was a beginning.  And it was pure joy.

RUN:  2:16:43                 TOTAL:  6:03:36

Thank you as always for reading, and for all of your support and cheers along the way!  What a journey it has been!  Looking forward to all new adventures ahead!



The new RFA Smash Kit gave me wings!!!!!!


Such a treat to race with my friend Kris!!!
She never ceases to inspire!!!

Hahahaha! Forgot about that cap for a moment!

I LOVED this bike course!!!!!!!!!!!!

Digging deep on that second loop!


Pure joy!!!!!!!!!!!!







Sunday, November 6, 2016

Soul on Fire - Longhorn 2016

I absolutely loved the 200 fly – the challenge, the pain you knew was inevitable, and the absolute exhilaration when everything clicked and you were literally flying.  Words could never really do it justice because to truly appreciate what I am talking about you would have had to experience it.  Each event is special in its own way, but 200 flyers are a breed of their own, they know going in what the event will take out of them, yet they relish it and can’t wait for another shot at it each and every time.  And although you glean something every time you race it, you will never achieve perfection.  And that’s okay, because it’s the fire within, the drive that brings you back race after race.  Whether you went out too slow, or went out like a bat out of hell, if you are lucky the piano falls that last 50…any sooner and that’s going to be the longest 100 fly of your life.  But that’s why we love the event, it’s the hard that makes it great, that inspires us to be the very best we can be each race.  Sometimes it’s a PR; sometimes it’s a comeback; sometimes it’s ugly; sometimes it’s damn near close to perfect.  I didn’t think I could love a race as much as I loved the 200 fly – I was wrong.  Triathlon grabbed hold of me that first race and didn’t let go.  But it was beyond just the sport itself – it was the amazing people I would meet, the dedicated coaches who believed in me even when I did not, and the teammates who consistently raised the bar and inspired me.  Just like swimming had been, it was the entire package.  And I had missed triathlon.  Not long after hip surgery I had decided I was going all in, and I’m so glad that I did.  Sunday was far from perfection, but the fire burned bright, and my soul fell in love all over again.

To say I was pumped for Longhorn would be a vast understatement, I pretty much did a happy dance the day I signed up, and had not stopped smiling since.  After my 3 month clearance from my doctor, I started building a solid swim and bike foundation over the summer.  After my 6 month, I began increasing body weight and time on the Alter G, and was antsy to get back out there.  Initially I signed up for Kerrville aqua bike because I knew for sure a short Olympic distance swim and bike were no problem, but what I really wanted to do was a half ironman.  But would it be enough time?  Longhorn was only 8 months post hip surgery – could I do it?  I decided right then and there that I could, and immediately signed up, and didn’t look back.  I nailed my longer rides on the weekends and hit the Alter G with a renewed drive, increasing my body weight, as well as time, so I could build up to longer runs of 1:15/1:30.  My new mantra was “you have to set yourself on fire,” after one of my favorite quotes, and if you have never heard of it, here it is…enjoy. 

“Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion.  You must set yourself on fire.” –Reggie Leach

Yep, wore that flame necklace race day.  All about the symbolism.


My whole body was humming with excitement the morning of Longhorn – it had been four years since I had done one of these, and I here I was ready to give it a go.  It felt a little surreal, and I was anxious to get my day started, but unfortunately, there would be quite a bit of waiting this time around.  I arrived early, knocked out transition stuff, then got ready for the swim, except that they had to postpone the swim start because there was really thick fog, so thick that you could not even see the buoys out on the lake.  So hubs, baby girl, and I sat down and waited – I watched them play and continued to visualize my race for the day.  It seemed like we had waited forever, and at about 8:45 they finally called off the swim and said it would be a time trial bike start, beginning with lowest numbers working their way up to the highest.  I was pretty disappointed the swim was canceled – not only was it my thing, but I had been having some really great workouts lately, and really wanted to see how far under 30 min I could go.  Had to switch gears quickly though, no time to mope about the swim, because I also came to Longhorn to PR the bike, and that’s what I was determined to do.  Whether the swim would have warmed me up for the bike or would have made me more tired for the bike I will never know, just had to work with the circumstances I was given that day.  My number was #1568 so we had quite a bit of time before my row was up, so in the meantime, I chatted with my competitors around me, finding out that quite a few of them were from out of town - one told us about her first half at Steelhead, the other about her tri adventures in Colorado.  I told them about my hip surgery, and come to find out another guy had knee surgery a couple years ago and this was his first half back too.  The camaraderie really is next to none in this sport, and one of the things I love so much about it.  Soon it was time for us to head up to the bike out, and I felt like my body had been buzzing all morning for this moment –it was finally here…I was really going to get to do this!  I hopped on my bike and heard my friends cheering loudly for me and as I went by, I yelled 
“…that took forever!”  Not sure if I was referring just to the morning, or this journey as a whole.  Either way, true on both accounts.


Me and my sweet girl while we waited for the possible swim start.

Right before swim was canceled. Always love watching them play.

All smiles heading out.  I'm really going to get to do this!


The bike was a bit of a cluster coming out transition, so initially I was nervous heading out onto the course.  Bikes were everywhere and the road was crowded, and suddenly I was afraid on the bike again.  We were riding out of the expo center onto 3177 and I was seriously irritated about the swim being canceled.  I was behind a bunch of riders, I could not get in my aero bars, and was wondering at this pace how the heck I could possibly PR this course, which apparently was even harder than the one I rode in 2012.  As we turned right onto Lindell, I told myself to suck it up, that I wanted to be here in this moment right now so I needed to seize this opportunity.  So I did.  I went aero and hit the gas, and refused to let up.  It was a game, to see how many people I could catch before the next turn.  And the next.  And the next.  I had never said “on your left!” so much before ever in my life in any race up to this point, so it was a nice change of pace.  I felt fast in my new aero helmet and race wheels, and that mental edge I know made a difference for me on the bike.  The aero helmet hubs had gotten for me as a birthday gift right after our baby girl was born a couple of years ago, but then the hip went out so I couldn’t use it.  It was brand new and it was amazing.  And the wheels – oh man I should have invested in these long time ago, they rode like a dream.  And I was beyond thankful that Bicycle Heaven was able to get them to me in time for race day.  Aero helmet + race wheels + fire & drive = hell of a bike split.  I yelled “Go Smash!” to my smash teammies, and told fellow competitors “great job!” as we flew down the course.  I was having the best time out there, and as always, was enjoying the sufferfest.  I looked down at my watch at 28 miles and when it said 1:27 I yelled out “YESSSSSS!”  I was on track to go under 3 and I was stoked!  When I hit the early 30s some fatigue set in but I pushed through it, determined to hold the pace I was going – I could not let up if I wanted to reach my goal.  I stopped quickly at the third aid station for a banana and a water to toss over myself – I was getting hot, and I could feel my legs fading a bit…after the stop I rode strong for the next 10-12 miles knowing the finish would be just around the corner.  There were some decent hills in there for us at the end, definitely testing our will.  As I charged up each one, I could almost hear the hill ask me “how bad do you want this?” My legs responded, and before I knew it I was down to the last 6 miles…almost home!  However, like the piano falling the last 50 in the 200 fly, my legs at this point were absolutely trashed.    The 20+ mph that felt easy earlier was long gone, replaced by the struggle to keep myself going at 15 mph.  I watched my Garmin carefully, and each mile cleared was another mini victory.  I didn’t quite beat my goal of breaking 3 hours, but 3:09 was still a solid split.  And a 15 min PR off of my previous best bike time in 2012!  As I rolled into transition I smiled big as I heard my friends cheering again, and I saw my hubs and baby girl right as I was getting off the bike so I blew them a kiss.  Successful bike done.  Now it was time to see what I had for the run.



Big smiles on the bike.  Kept the foot on the gas all day.

Determined to crush the bike.  Heading for a PR!


As I put on my shoes I got chills of excitement, could not wait to get out there.  As I jogged towards the transition exit I teared up, this was the moment I had really been waiting for all day, and it was here.  Just needed to smile and enjoy whatever came my way!  Looked down at my Garmin as I ran out and saw the 9:30 – wouldn’t see that again all day, not even close, but it was exciting nevertheless.  I was fairly hot so I put some ice in my tri top pretty much straightaway, and continued to do so throughout the race.  I thought I would be good to go with my gels and blocks, but I guess after taking them on the bike my body was tired of them and refused to cooperate.  So I adapted, and instead took bananas and oranges at quite a few stations, and coke would pretty much be my saving grace for the day - I took it at every station.  I ran quite a bit of the first loop, and the hip felt great, but my legs were done.  Quads pretty much screamed at me the whole time, and my pace remained pretty slow, but forward momentum was the name of the game, and that I could do.  Big high fives to my friends as I was finishing the first lap which gave me a huge boost of energy.  And I yelled “I’m doing this!” as I passed by them and it was an incredible feeling to be out there on that course again.  Had been hoping to see the hubs and baby girl on that first loop but I would eventually see them on the third and at the finish, long story short baby girl refused to come out of the air conditioned stadium, saying it was too hot.  This cracked me up because indeed, it felt like a sauna out there.  Out of the mouths of babes.  Start of the second loop I got more high fives from my awesome crew and Kris jogged with me for a minute and said I was doing great!  I felt strong after that energy from my squad but unfortunately it was short lived, and loop 2 turned into more of a walk/run loop with the run portions becoming more of a shuffle.  I was disappointed when I had to walk but reminded myself that the walking was going to be inevitable, not only were the legs trashed but this was my first run outside in gravity since the surgery, and my first half marathon since January 2014.  It had been awhile, and I was asking a lot of my body, and so far it was delivering.  As I headed in to complete my second loop, I received more high fives from my awesome crew, and Kris relayed the message that the fam were inside the stadium, so I would see them shortly.  And as I rounded the loop near the stadium, I looked at my Garmin, and it was 1:56, and I thought to myself that four years ago I would have been close to finishing since I ran a 2:03 half at that race, so again, I was disappointed in myself for a moment.  Then I was humbled, and reminded myself it had only been 8 months since my hip surgery and here I was!  I wanted to do a half ironman so bad and I was here, and I was doing it!  Loop 3 was definitely my slowest lap with the most walking, and it was definitely painful and not always all smiles, but I kept telling myself to stay in the moment, enjoy the sufferfest, and that I was almost there!  3:06 for my official run/walk time but not too shabby for first time back!



Grateful for my awesome crew out there cheering me on all day! #squad

The donuts were back! #squad #willrunfordonuts

Getting after it! Pumped for my first run back!

High fives give you wings!

First one back was a run/walk...but forward momentum was the name of the game!


Loved being out there!

I started jogging as I headed up the hill after mile 12 on into the finish, saw my hubs and sweet girl and gave them both kisses, then kept running for the finish chute.  As I entered the shoot, another competitor passed me and said congrats, what a hard day it was out there.  I told him congrats too as he ran by, and that the hard is what had made it great.  Don’t know if he heard that last part as he was heading into the finish but I couldn’t help it – it was true for the day, it was true for the journey.  As I headed into the stadium I almost felt like a newbie again, and smiled big all the way to that finish.  Hubs and baby girl were there waiting for me, as were Brian and Orissa, and of course there were some tears.  I had been thinking of this day long before I ever registered for it, long before I ever had surgery.  I had come full circle.  I really did this.  6:21 was my overall time, and factoring in a 30 min swim, I would have finished close to 7 hours, which is what I was shooting for going into the day.  6:30 would have been nice, but that was pretty ambitious, especially since my half ironman PR from 2012 was 6:13.  Pretty sure I wasn’t going to be breaking any PRs 8 months post-surgery.  Breaking the bike one was icing on the cake. 



What a great day!

Grateful for all the cheers and support!


Ultimate support crew! #myworld #lovethemtopieces




I love this sport.  The people.  The sufferfest.  All of it.  I could not have made it this far on this journey without the unwavering support from all of my family, friends, coaches, teammates.  My mantra may have been “you have to set yourself on fire," but you are only able to do that with the help of others who inspire you, who believe in you, who love you – that is really what sets you ablaze.  I do not know as of yet what is next on the docket for me in 2017, but as the fire in my soul continues to burn, you can be sure that I will be ready to “ignite the night like a phoenix.”


“…I say a good love is one that casts you into the wind, sets you ablaze, makes you burn through the skies and ignite the night like a phoenix; the kind that cuts you loose like wildfire and you can’t stop running simply because you keep on burning everything that you touch…”  -- C. Joybell C.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Power of Belief - Kerrville 2016

There is power in belief, which we all know to be true.  We've heard it a thousand times in a thousand different ways, positivity begets positivity, if you believe you can achieve, and so on and so forth.  And just as unwavering belief allows you to ascend limitations you perceived you once had, and chase dreams you thought were out of reach, the very lack of belief has the opposite effect and can leave you frozen, unsure about the next step, unsure about who you are, and unsure about where you are going.  The mind can be a powerful ally or adversary, the choice is yours.

Last weekend I raced in Kerrville, and it was my first race back in a very long time, about three and a half years since my last race, which was Ironman Texas in 2013.  So much has transpired these past few years, and the journey to get here, to get to my first race back, ignited a spark in my soul that had been misplaced for a while. Lack of belief in yourself happens slowly over time, sometimes without you even noticing.  Events happen in your life that shake you to your core, make you question more than you ever wanted to, and suddenly, your overwhelming positive disposition and beliefs have been shattered, your faith tested, and sometimes you get lost.  You forget what it's like to be sure of yourself, to believe that anything is possible.  That there is actual power in belief, and with it you are a force to be reckoned with.  

One of my favorite quotes, and my mantra for this season is from Paulo Coelho,"You are what you believe yourself to be."  My journey to the finish line last Sunday on the aquabike was not about getting back to racing - yes, I love being back out there, and I would be lying if I said that I did not, because the truth is that racing has always been good for my soul.  But my journey these past three years has not been about crossing a finish line, it has been about finding myself again.  And the hip going out was just the end of a very long shitstorm, it was not the cause of it all.  Of course in the middle of trials we are not without blessings and my baby girl will forever be one of my greatest gifts, as well as my village, the people placed in my life at the exactly the right time.  That's called God's timing. It's been an arduous road, full of self-discovery, and I wouldn't change a thing.  

It's like coming up for a breath of fresh air, like finding that sunny spot on a cold breezy day.  And you focus on the little things, one day at a time, and pretty soon it is habit again, like you never got lost in the first place.  Except that you've gained a little more resilience, a little more fortitude, and a little more grit.  Your belief is so powerful, your faith so strong, that you hold tight to your own convictions, and you chase those goals and dreams no matter what.  There will always be the negativity, the doubt, from others, as well as from between your own ears, but you squash it, and keep on getting after it.   

My first race back was absolutely all of those things and more.  It required me to be comfortable being uncomfortable, and to be sure of myself in elements that I usually was not.  We would get pockets of rain on the bike all during the race, which definitely kept me on my toes throughout.  First up was the swim, which was windy and cool, overcast but not raining yet.  My swim went really well, was hoping to be a bit faster, but I was going to be happy regardless because I was out there racing!  So happy some friends caught some pics as I was heading to T1...had that big smile on all day!  T1 was uneventful and was out on the bike fairly quickly, but pretty much as soon as I headed out, it started to downpour.  One of the first big curves to the left several people had already gone down, so I took it extra slow, and continued smiling even through the pouring rain...it was going to be a great day no matter what!  After heading through downtown we turned on the main road and I was able to get down in aero and push for a bit...the rain returned on and off the course all day, but I was having the best time!  As I headed into T2 I could hardly wait to put on my shoes and run into the finish...as I brought the bike in I saw my husband and baby girl and the tears came, I was just so overwhelmed by emotions, not just from the day, but from this journey as a whole.  I headed out to do my little loop into the finish, and as I was I chatted with another competitor, and we both agreed what a day it had been with the weather and all (although the actual front had not come in yet, and that would hit later as the half iron racers were running) - he headed to complete his run and I headed to the finish, and what a feeling it was to cross that finish line again – felt like coming full circle, but with more clarity and perspective than before.  As a funny side note, apparently my run must have looked decent since another girl who crossed right after me pointed out that I had not done my out and back for the run, but when I explained I just did the aquabike, we both had a good laugh.  Hubs and my sweet girl and friends were waiting for me at the finish, and soon the rest of our crew poured across the finish line.  Such a poignant day back – grateful for all my friends and family cheering me on from near and far on this day, and all throughout this journey.

Next on the docket is Longhorn, and it will be 8 months post –surgery.  And three years post shitstorm commencing.  I can hear the hallelujah chorus now.  And I'm sure there are those that think I'm crazy for chasing this half iron so soon after the hip, but I could care less.  This spark has ignited a fire.  And I will chase it with a drive that I haven't felt inside for a long time...and believe that anything is possible on that day.


All smiles all day.

Reprieve from the rain for a bit.

My biggest fans  - they inspire me everyday.


Grateful for my squad (we missed you Shellz!) -
so much fun being out there racing with them again. 


Love them.



Still smiling...loved every minute of it.





Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Patience

So here's the update finally from my hip surgery...already 9 weeks post op and things are going great! At this point I am back in the pool, using the elliptical, as well as my trainer, and going on walks with my favorite munchkin.  All in all, things are going well, just have to remember that I am starting from the beginning again so to speak, so I'm not going to be running any marathons anytime soon.  But I've gotten good at being patient, and when that time finally comes I will be ready.


Always one of my happiest places!

So as a quick recap, my surgery was on March 2, and it went smoothly with no problems.  When they gave me the anesthesia I was out like a light, and didn't remember a thing.  I was groggy all day as it wore off, and a little nauseated too but by that evening I was up walking around on the new hip, and it felt really weird.  Guess I wasn't use to having something all the way in my socket, and would definitely take some getting used to.  So I hobbled around with my walker and only made it to the end of the hallway.  By the next morning I was moving all around the wing, and they released me to go home.  I had PT exercises I was given that I needed to be doing at home, and I had an appointment with Promotional Physical Therapy within the next few days, and they would give me more to do from there.  For 2 weeks I used the walker - mainly needed it more the first week, and as a crutch the second as I was getting used to my new walk.


Day 2 - Getting used to the new joint

Since I had a dysplastic hip joint all my life, my body had adapted to it over the years, so with my new joint I basically had to retrain my body how to walk properly.  My PT stressed the importance of starting with the basics as I readjusted with the new joint so that I wouldn't put undo stress on other parts of my body, and have other problems down the road.  Definitely a frustrating process, I was just ready for all of it to come together.  But little by little as I continued to break it down, another piece fell into place, and before I knew it I even forgot the new joint was there!

My left hip will have to be done eventually too, so hopefully I can put that off for awhile but who knows.  It is what it is.  But for right now I am enjoying the progress I am making day by day, and I am not going to let it limit me.  I still have big goals to chase in the future.  In the meantime, patience is what's on the docket everyday, and my new mantra for this season.  As someone who likes to jump in with both feet and take off running, this has definitely been the biggest challenge for me, but always a powerful lesson to learn.  I am celebrating the mini victories each day, and am looking forward to seeing what my progress looks like 6 months post op, or even a year from now. A great big thank you to everyone who has been in my corner, from the very beginning of this process. Your love and support means more than words can say.

Looking forward to a summer of smashfests!! #timetogettowork

My favorite support crew! #lovethemtopieces






Monday, February 29, 2016

Almost Go Time

It’s been a pretty eventful year, and with my surgery just around the corner, it really is almost go time.  My last post came after my birthday ride almost a year and a half ago, and I had some plans already laid out for my race schedule post baby, which evaporated pretty much as soon as I put pen to paper.  One small bump into a counter set everything into motion.

I knew the day I hit the counter that something was seriously off, having strained hammys, tendonitis, bursitis, and the like before, this was not something that was going away any time soon.  I saw the sports med docs as soon as I could, even went to urgent care for xrays, which they declared looked fine.  Sports med docs recommended cortisone shots after seeing all of the inflammation from the MRIs.  So I proceeded with the shots but nothing got better so I sent my xrays and MRI results off to out of state orthopedic hip surgeons for a consult.  The result:  hip dysplasia.  Whaaaat?!  Isn’t that like common in dogs?  What the heck?  Are you sure?  Yep, they were.  And suddenly it all made sense, all my hip niggles from as far back as I could remember, but the diagnosis was always the same – weak core, weak hip flexors.  During my two bouts of Ironman training a few years ago, the hips were always snarky during my long runs, but I chalked it up to the 20 hours a week that I was training, and seriously, after 20 miles whose body isn’t sore and achy?  At the end of my pregnancy with Alex when I was super huge, like those last couple of weeks at the end, I had some pretty serious pelvic pain that would stop me in my tracks but I just figured everyone struggled those last couple of weeks at the end of pregnancy.  Little did I know, my cartilage was wearing out at an excessive rate since both of my sockets were extremely shallow.  My right hip is more dysplastic than the left but they both do not fit correctly in the acetabulum, so I have bilateral hip dysplasia.

So what does that mean?  How is that fixed?  Well, since cartilage does not grow back on its own, when you get down to bone on bone there’s only one option left, a total hip replacement.  When this process first began almost a year and a half ago, my coach told me it was like getting stuck in quicksand, that my movements would have to be small and deliberate, and nothing large and hasty.  So I set off to see what I could learn about hip dysplasia.  I saw a doc in California last June to discuss a PAO, an extensive special type of hip surgery for hip dysplasia but with not much cartilage left, it really was not the best course of action.  So I came back to SA to seek out the best hip orthopedic surgeons I could.  I researched this topic substantially, not only looking at surgeons, but materials used.  I asked lots of questions at every consult, I would know everything I could know about what was to come.  All of the surgeons even complemented me on “shopping for surgeons” and doing my homework on all the parts that could be used and which were the best and would last the longest.  I was methodical and meticulous, while my hip dysplasia was out of my control, how I approached my looming hip surgery would not be.


I struggle with this next paragraph the most, because I did struggle with this for a long time.  I was ready to get back out there.  My soul has always been tied to the swim, bike, run.  It’s my outlet - it’s where I work things out, discover parts of myself I didn’t know existed, challenge myself to take it to the next level.  Not being able to chase my athletic dreams and really “smash” myself out there took a toll on my soul a little bit.  Then there was the guilt – it’s just a hip, things could be a lot worse.  So when I was feeling defeated, the guilt always reared its ugly head.  But there was the silver lining, that indeed, it could be a lot worse.  So instead of the pity party, I chose glass half full.  And that’s when I really took control of finding the right surgeon for me, and decided to make the leap.  Because let’s face it, it’s hip surgery, not brain surgery.  And it’s a new hip, not a terminal disease.  But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to getting back out there because I absolutely cannot wait.  Might take me a little bit to get there, but I have some goals to crush and dreams to chase.  One #badassbionicbeast coming up.  Let’s do this.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Spectacular Sunrise

So it's been a while since my last post, and so much has happened this past year that I'm not sure where to begin.  My last post was a shout out to my amazing teammates, and my struggle with devastating events that were happening in my life, and that I would have to keep putting one foot in front of the other as I maneuvered through the crisis.

Fast forward to now, the crisis is far from over, but I have been blessed with a beautiful baby girl Alex, and she fills my heart with joy on a daily basis.  She is such a precious gift, and her timing could not have been more perfect.

While some days are still "just keep putting one foot in front of the other" days, those days are fewer and farther between.  This past weekend my girls organized a birthday ride for me, and I was so excited to be back in the saddle again.  Working out has always been my go to outlet, especially when the going gets tough, so last spring it was emotionally difficult to not be able to go out and "smash" myself on a swim, bike, or run, while the crisis consumed my daily life.  Of course, the excitement of meeting our baby girl kept me going through the summer, and when I finally did get to meet her, it was the most amazing and euphoric moment of my existence.

Our precious gift, Alexandra.

I was still eager to get back into the swing of things, and the weekend before my birthday I was able to "get my feet wet" so to speak, as I rode a fun 20 miler with an awesome friend.  It was a gorgeous day - great conversation and a great ride.  It was an awesome feeling to be back in the saddle again.

To say I couldn't wait for my birthday ride with my girls was an understatement, I was super stoked, it had been so long since we all had ridden together.  However, my birthday is in fact the day my life changed, the events that happened that day in 2013 forever shattered what used to be normal, and the "new normal" made me feel like I was in one of those Lifetime TV movies, that this couldn't in fact be my life.  So, my birthday this year I approached with a little bit of trepidation.

It couldn't have been a more perfect day.

I had an amazing time riding with my besties (in matchy matchy of course!) on a route I had ridden so many times before, but this day it was like I was looking through a new set of lenses.  I had come through the other side of this crisis stronger, more resilient, with more grit than before.  Once again, triathlon and life have gone hand in hand.  Many of you may already have experienced or are experiencing the "new normal", when life changes so suddenly and drastically, shatters you to your very core, and challenges you in every way possible.  A day in an ironman can play out the same way - hopes and dreams you had for yourself shattered by events of the day, whether it be getting beat up on the swim, a crash on the bike, or a collapse on the run. But you refuse to give up, continuing to persevere through it, taking whatever is thrown at you along the way, taking it one step at a time.  The hard is what makes it great - when we overcome the adversity of the day we appreciate the journey all the much more.

Birthday ride with the girls a "smash"ing success!!

Rocking the "sunrise" kit on our ride, I did indeed feel like the sun had finally set on the past year and was rising on the new one.  I can't wait for all the new adventures to come.  Especially all the new ones with my little girl, what a precious gift she is.  I hope I can be just as amazing of a mother to her as my mom has been to me.  This season is for you mom.









Sunday, January 26, 2014

AMAZING TEAMMATES = AWESOMESAUCE!!!

Vince Lombardi once said, “Regardless of his personal accomplishments, the only true satisfaction a player receives is the satisfaction that comes from being part of a successful team.”
I have been truly blessed with some amazing teammates in my life, and 2013 has been a year that has challenged me in every way.  It was certainly a year of breakthroughs and euphoric moments, but was also full of adversity and trying times.  Coach Dawn always tells us that an ironman is like a microcosm of life, and it certainly proved true this year for me, a year of highest highs and lowest lows; moments of over the top joy sprinkled with seeds of doubt; heartbreak coupled with much needed laughter.
I participated in my first race of 2014 last weekend, the Austin 3M.  I had never done this race before, and was excited to jump start my 2014 season.  Orissa, Brian, Aixa, and I all rode up together, and were fired up for the day ahead.  It was pretty chilly that morning, but the forecast called for clear skies, so it would warm up nicely.  We started together but did not stay together for long - everyone had their own race plans, and looking to set some PRs (which they did!).  I thoroughly enjoyed this race – it was mostly downhill with a few hills scattered throughout, but nothing too crazy.  What I remember most about this race is smiling almost the entire time, holding my pace, and taking in everything around me.  While it wasn’t a PR for me, I hit the goal I was shooting for, and I was super stoked for my teammates, who had all crushed it!!  So, why so long between blog entries, you ask?  Well…
My last entry (oh so long ago…) was a play by play recap of IMTX, my neurotic moments before the race, my breakthrough on the bike, my rally on the run – all leading up to the final euphoric moment of crossing the line and crushing that race…well, that’s all well and good you say, but what happened after?  Well, my initial plans were to train like crazy in the summer, really utilize every ounce of time I had so that when my insane school schedule started up again in the fall, I would have logged so much training under my belt that I would be good to go for the fall season.  Well, you know what they say about best laid plans…
So, not long into the summer, I developed a niggle in my foot which developed into full blown pain on the runs and occasionally on the bike rides.  So, Coachie had me back off on the running, go to Dr. Nick Milnor to get the foot worked on, and basically take it easy until it was healed.  I anxiously waited for my foot to heal, meanwhile trying to get in what training I could.  Also, about this time mid-summer I experienced personal  tragedy, an experience I have never gone through before, and really tore my world apart for awhile…two weeks after this tragedy I crashed on my bike, really just putting a cherry on top of the summer…fortunately I only ended up with a hairline fracture of the wrist, it could have been much worse, but it was super frustrating happening right before school started, and I would lose some key training weekends before my schedule got crazy again…
I was still signed up for San Antonio RnR Marathon, so I was looking forward to at least one race on the docket for fall 2013 …what I didn’t know then was that the marathon would in fact be my lowest point of the year, my rock bottom if you will, and I am grateful for the people around me, who probably had no idea at the time, but were instrumental in helping me to get through this awful period.  The week after my birthday was beyond a brutal week, one of the worst in my life ever (I do not say this lightly, I literally was on autopilot and really couldn’t function), and then to end it with the marathon, which I was really looking forward to racing it with my friends but it ended not at all as I had planned.  The heat had gotten to me and I DNFed, something I had never done before ever in all my years of racing, and to say it was disappointing is an understatement – as I was dropped off by the shuttle and started on my walk of shame to find my friends, I was truly at my lowest point not only that week, but of the year.  It was like in the middle of the marathon in an ironman, where you have been so beat up by the day so far, and you just want to sit down and rest for awhile, but you know if you start to cave in you may never get back up…so I seriously wanted to “sit down” for awhile, fortunately for me, my teammates wouldn’t let me, and urged me forward… they made me laugh on the shuttle ride back to our cars, as we planned our next marathon adventure, and it was the first time I had really laughed that whole week. 
So as I raced the 3M last weekend, I thanked God for all of the amazing people in my life, who have impacted my life in one way or another.  I smiled as my feet hit the pavement and the sun shined down, grateful for the lessons I learned last year, and eager for the ones that await me this coming year.  Everyone’s trials and tribulations look different, but at the end of the day we are all trying to be “resilient in the face of adversity”.  And as we face these trials, when we don’t think we can put one foot in front of the other, our teammates push us forward to take just one more step.  And then another.  And then another.  And we are at the finish, victorious.   
Teammates matter.  Who are your teammates?  Look around.  Don’t overlook them.  Be thankful for them.  They pick you up when you are down.  They inspire you.  They challenge you.  They won’t let you give up.  They celebrate with you in victory.  They won’t let you settle for mediocrity.  They will change your life.