Sunday, February 14, 2016

MY FIRST IRONMAN - Boulder Ironman 2015

Landed in CO and started exploring with the in laws!
Us with my parents at the Rockies Game. Baseball with my dad is always a favorite memory of mine. 
Pre race bike rides were amazing. Love Colorado cycling. 
Holy cow!! It is getting real. All checked in, bike racked - Where we swim  behind us!! 

I am not sure I can fully, truly describe my Ironman Boulder experience. Even months later, as I type this, I am not sure I can put into words to fully, truly get across my experience. But I will. We flew in about a week early to try and acclimate to the elevation and to have some fun before the race. It was so good to catch up with friends and family. 

Having Colorado be my first Ironman was SO important to me. I really wanted my parents, Tom's parents and good friends to be there. I wanted them to be apart of this journey with me, and I knew I would want the support along the course. As race day rolled around..... I tried my best to remain calm. The night before the race my coach called me and talked to me about race day, we re-went over all kinds of details and he kept me calm. But let's be honest, sleep was far away the night before the race. 

My awesome co-workers gave this to my hubby to give me the night before the race. So awesome!

Race morning came so quickly and we made our way out to the Boulder Reservoir bright and early. My parents and Tom's parents rode out with us. We got ready, body marked and wet suits on (I choose to use my wet suit even though it was not wet suit legal, I wanted the comfort of my wet suit and I knew I wouldn't be placing). The below pictures are us before the race as we are getting ready and with our family. It calmed me to have my husband and family there. But I was TERRIFIED of the distance of the swim. 

Tom and I walked to the start line, seeding ourselves toward the back, for both comfort and because we were wearing wet suits and you had to be in the back. We walked to the start line hand in hand. As we started he gave me a kiss and wished me luck, and then off we went - him following me out like he had done at almost every training swim we did back home. I knew in this instance I was in it no matter and I had a LONG day ahead of me. But first, I needed to get through the swim. So I put my head down and I went. I just went. I LOVED the swim. I don't love to swim, but for some reason I was loving it. And it showed, I got out of the water WAY faster then I expected. This was seriously the best swim of my life to date. I was literally shocked looking at the time on my watching coming out of the water. 

I ran through T1 changing tent, and off to my bike.... See picture below.... 

As I made it to my bike, I saw Tom. What the heck???? I was so confused. I asked him if he was okay - I didn't expect to see him until I got to the finish line. And especially not waiting by my bike in T1. He told me "I want to race this with you!" I asked him if he was serious (This happens in our relationship a lot... Me questioning his sincerity for things) and he laughed and said "I wouldn't have waited for 20 minutes if I wasn't serious."  Good point. He was serious. So off we went. 

The bike.... Was some leap frogging to stay near each other. And where I likely made my biggest mistake. I went out for lap 1 WAY to fast. I noticed it as I was entering my second lap, and told myself to calm my jets and slow it down. My coach and I talked about this pre-race. If I was going to run into an issue, it was going to be this. Going out to fast on the bike. DON'T DO IT JESS!! I did it. Of course I did it. The damage had been done. 

I knew the killer hills were near the end. Around mile 90, I was suppose to save some energy for that. Which I did, but by the time I finished the hills I just wanted to be off this dang bike.

The below pics are Tom and I getting off the bike and heading to T2. 

At this point I was JOKING with the lady next to me as I was coming in, saying things like "Why did we sign up to run a MARATHON after this??" I was feeling pretty good in the grand scheme of things. Oh how quickly that can change. 

T2 is also where I learned that a long transition space, stairs to get to the tent are all cruel. But volunteers are amazing. All volunteers are. But in an Ironman, they are especially amazing. Seriously. One volunteer came up to me as I was entering the changing tent and wrapped her arms around me and asked what she could do for me. I didn't want to take up a volunteer because I was okay. I told her this, she told me this was my day and she was here to help me. I seriously tear up just thinking about this women and I don't even know her name. She took me to a chair, sat me down (I joked about not being able to get up, she promised she'd get me up), and she got all my run gear out of my bag. She asked if I needed anything, I needed some kind of lube for chaffing - She fetched it for me. She was amazing. She helped me get my compression socks on (This is HARD after 112 miles). She helped me get my shoes on. She held true on her promise and got me up and out of the tent to start the run. 

But where was my husband??? I couldn't find him and I thought we were doing this together! But I didn't want to waste time, I was right on track to hit my goal, actually, I was going to get UNDER my goal! So off I went. Very early in the run I saw my family and asked where Tom was! Had he come out? My family said he was just a bit ahead of me, I'd catch him. So off I went. I ran awesome until about mile 5. And then I had to go to the bathroom. 

Worst mistake of my life. Stopping in a HOT porta pottie I am pretty sure ruined me. Now, let me be honest I know it wasn't the porta pottie fault, but I think that was the icing on the cake. And it was terrible terrible icing. 

I caught Tom. But I was in rough shape. He encouraged me to run/walk. We tried that for a bit. But I couldn't. The feelings went from elation to realizing I could come in UNDER my goal to slowly watching that tick away to eventually just wanting to finish before the cut off. 

My amazing husband stayed by my side (or a step ahead of me at times, trying to almost pull me along). I feel like I basically walked the marathon at this point. This was the worst marathon of my life. I wanted to quit. Then I didn't. I had come so far. It got dark, and let me tell you the mental struggle you go through at that point is crazy. Mental strength is key. 

The next picture is my attempt to run past my family and friends..... You know so they thought I was still running. I started walking as soon as I was out of their sight. (My father in law is jogging behind me in this pic? Not sure why haha). 

I am so thankful that my husband stuck it out with me. I know he has never been on a run course that long and likely never will be again. But I needed him when it got rather empty in the dark on the out and backs. 

As we finally got near the finish, and I could see the chute we looked at each other and I think I said something like "Let's go for it".... and we both started slowly jogging. We jogged the finish chute. That time was surreal. So many people yelling and screaming, cheering YOU in, people high fiving as you ran in, I just tried to focus. I reached out and high fived my friend, Garrett, when I saw him and his girlfiriend cheering for us. Finally about half way through the chute my husband and I looked at each other and grabbed hands. We ran the rest of the way holding hands and we crossed the line like that. 

I remember we talked about the post finish kiss, the finish line kiss. That kiss didn't happen. We each got whisked away by a volunteer. That volunteer gave me my medal and made sure I was okay. When he (I think it was a he) was convinced I was okay, he left me with my husband and family. 

The finish was amazing. Finishing with my husband hand in hand will ALWAYS be a favorite memory of mine, one I will cherish forever. 

Getting wrapped in a hug by my dad as he whispered to me how proud of me he was is another moment I will cherish.

Hugging my mom and seeing her. She has always been a huge support.

Seeing my mother and father in law and hearing them say they were so proud of us. 

One of my best friends, Garrett and his girlfriend Amanda was there the ENTIRE day randomly along the course with signs and cheering us on. Seeing their faces randomly along the course, receiving high fives from them seriously kept me going. 

I will do another Ironman. If nothing else, to redeem myself. I know I cold have done. But for now, I finished in time and I became an IRONMAN!! 

Us at the finish line and the finish medal! 

So happy Amanda caught this moment on video, us coming up to the finish and crossing!

My Ironman tattoo.! 

I read this a day or two before the race and I had NO idea how true it would be. I learned this on race day. 

My friends signs! Loved seeing them along the course. Seriously!

My family and I before we were heading home back to Hawaii. This trip will always be special to me.

Honu - Hawaii 70.3 - My first half Ironman!

I like to just go for things, hence how 2015 ended up being the year I'd complete my first half and full Ironman. Hawaii 70.3 is popular here on Oahu in the triathlon community and so it seemed like a good race to participate in. Convinced a good friend from Colorado to join us at Hawaii 70.3 and we were set. 

3 bikes, 3 people in a small little rental car. Yeah, we pretty much rock. 

Before the race begins!
Before the race begins!
Honu. My first half Ironman. I was so dang nervous going into the race because of the swim. Could I do the distance? Could I do it in the cut off time? I was improving my swimming and I thought doing pretty good, but I hadn't really tested it. Let's be honest here... I was always a bit terrified of sharks. Thank goodness, the swim went really well and then I headed off to the bike, which also went really well. Where I started to fall apart was mile 7 of the run. It got to FRICKIN' HOT! Seriously, there is a part of the run they call HELLS KITCHEN! It is exactly what it sounds like..... black top, surrounded by lava rock, boiling you as you try and run through it at the hottest part of the day. I missed my goal time, which I am confident is because the heat got me. I remember to be a bit shocked to see my friend not far in friend of me, and thought he must be having trouble with the heat also.

When I arrived at the finish my husband and Garrett where there to greet me, which was amazing. As we walked away from the finish line I remember Garrett saying "Tom isn't doing well"... And I had no idea what he meant, until a minute or two later and I really looked at my husband. He didn't look well. Let's just say.... extreme cramping, throwing up and hours in the medical tent summed up the finish - but we all finished, all survived and all enjoyed the rest of the evening on Big Island (Tom maybe not as much enjoyed it!)

I also got introduced and completed a new distance that I would absolutely love!

We all survived (barely... cough, Tom, cough)! ....

Love this picture of my husband!

After the race we headed back to Oahu and spent a couple more days hanging out with our friend and just enjoying Oahu. Thanks Garrett for coming out and racing my first half Ironman with us! Glad I have such crazy friends who join in on my crazyness! :)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Disney World Marathon

Oh man.... This post is a bit late! The Disney Marathon (And surrounding vacation) was phenomonal! Tom and I flew in on his birthday and met up! He was coming from home and I was meeting up with him from a work conference in Mexico (Who can complain about that??). We got to Orlando and then headed over to Disney - We stayed on the grounds and did a food package too - Which was perfect. Basically we didn't have to worry about a thing while we were at Disney which was so perfect. My family (Aunt Ellen, Aunt Shelley, Uncle Mike) flew in to FL and spent a couple days with us in Florida also which was so cool! It is always so good to see them and we appreciated having them there for support (And good luck! I seem to PR when they are around!!) The pic to the right and above is us with our family in the parks - We had so much fun checking out the parks with them!

A couple days later my great Aunt Katie came up to meet us - And we all celebrated her birthday at a yummy Irish restaurant! So good to see her!
Like most race mornings - It came SUPER early. Tom and I took the Disney shuttle bus over to the beginning of the race. It was pretty chilly, so I wore some clothes that I could "throw away" before the race. We also met up with a friend from Colorado who was running her first marathon - Tabi! We spent some time just relaxing, not wasting much energy before the race. When it was time, we went to our appropriate corrals and began the journey (Felt like a long walk) to our actual corrals and the start of the race. The Disney World Marathon corrals you based off of previous finishing times. It was really cool because they released the corrals at different times, but each corral got the same send off. For corral fireworks went off and the announcer was very energetic. This was one of the many awesome touches that Disney had which was so cool, it was nice that each corral got the same send off and fireworks - For those of us not in the first corral it made it much more fun and kept the energy going!

When they got to my corral - I remembered my goal and my plan for the race and off I went. The course was awesome and I loved the Disney touches. Seeing the Magic Kingdom castle all lit up (It was still dark-ish when I came here) coming up to it was nothing short of magical - Seriously! It was beautiful, and they had Elsa and Ana up on the castle too. Running through the castle was also really amazing. They had characters out a long the course - If I weren't pushing for a PR this would be the race to stop and take pictures. Which plenty of people did - I passed LINES of people waiting to take a picture with a character mid race. Crazy!! Aid stations were plentiful and well stoked. Other cool perks was that when you ran through the parks the employees where there cheering you on. All the parks except Epcot where closed when I ran through them so it was nice to have that extra support from their employees in a place where other crowds couldn't gather and cheer you on! It was so awesome to see family at different points along the course too! I was pushing for a 4:30 time, but didn't quite make it... I finished in 4:34 which was still a 7 min PR off my previous best time! I was stoked!
PR for us both!

Picture post race with our family who came from Wisconsin to cheer us on!

Post race we celebrated with my family and spent another day at Disney. After that my family headed home and hubby and I continued our Florida vacation. We spent a day at Universal Studios, road tripped around Tampa, made lots of Brewery stops and spent some time in the Keys before flying home on my birthday from Miami.
Us at Hogwarts at Universal Studios!!
Us at the Kennedy Space Center - So cool!

We did an airboat tour in the Everglades - Saw crocs and got to hold a baby!

One of the many beers we tried. This was one of my favs - German Chocolate from Funky Buddha. We need a Funky Buddha here in Hawaii!

Exploring the Keys - Saw adorable Key Deer, visited the Southernmost point in the USA (Continental)

Checking out the beaches in the Keys
Key Lime pie in the Keys - yummy!