It's a very slow process - two steps forward, one step back - but I'm inching in the right direction. - Rob Reiner

September 09, 2014

When Life Changes Overnight

Many of you know my Dad was critically sick a few months ago and spent a few weeks in the ICU.  What I didn’t mention as much is that my Mom was also sick.  She had a longer term illness that we thought was in a more “stable” condition.  But last Wednesday night I got a call they were sending her to the hospital with a fever.  No big deal I thought.  It was.  She was immediately admitted to ICU with a high heart rate, and extremely low blood pressure – classic symptoms of sepsis (basically an infection in the blood stream).  This is actually exactly what put my Dad in ICU, but my Dad came through.  My Mom did not.  We lost her within 24 hours.  I got the call that she had passed away about 6pm last Thursday.

Margaret Conley Sept 1, 1948 - Aug 28, 2014
I was in shock.  I shed a few tears, but felt numb.  I felt bad because I felt like I should have been “sadder”.  I realize now it was just shock.  I’d been through so much with my parents over the last couple of years health wise, and we’d had a lot of scares, but things always managed to turn around.  Not this time.  I went home and began packing to head to the lovely mountain town of Ruidoso, NM. 

My sisters and I arrived on Friday and started talking about arrangements.  My parents are both from KY and want to be buried there.  We were planning to make the trip to KY but soon realized my Dad could just simply not make the trip.  It is about a 21 hour trip by car for a healthy person.  It would have taken us 3-4 days to get there and there were so many other complications.  In the end we decided on a small funeral service in New Mexico.  My Mom will then be transported to KY for burial.

My Dad with his sister and my two cousins and sisters and niece
At first I felt guilty about giving my Mom such a small funeral service.  She deserved more.  But in the end, the most important people in her life were there and that’s all she would have wanted.  Her brothers came in from KY.  My Aunt (my Dad’s sister) came in from Florida.  My two cousins also came from KY.  My niece hitched a ride with my cousins from St Louis.  It was great to be surrounded by family.  I know if we’d had it in KY we would have had more time with them, but unfortunately they were in and out in a day or two, but it was great to see them.  My other cousin Ben – one of my Mom’s brother’s sons did the service for her and it was beautiful. 
Me and my sisters and niece and my Mom's brothers
 
And now my sisters and I are still trying to figure out the best solution for my Dad.  He needs care and can’t stay in New Mexico by himself, which is what he wants to do.  We are working on moving him to Kansas City which has its own challenges.  He is terminally ill and on Hospice, so we probably won’t have him with us much longer, especially now that my Mom has gone.
 I know several of you are friends with me on Facebook and have given me words of encouragement and love.  I appreciate it more than you know.  As you can imagine this is an extremely difficult time for my family.  If you’ve ever lost a parent then you know a lot of what I’m going through.  It’s harder than I even thought it would be.  I think back now to times when friends have lost a parent and think I wasn’t compassionate enough or didn’t do enough. I don’t think you can ever really understand these things until you go through them yourself.
But I want to end on a high note.  My Mom was by far the most positive person I knew.  Even though she had been sick for almost 2 years and never really felt great she never, ever complained.  You usually didn’t know how bad she was or felt.  She was always looking forward to the next day.  Always knew the next day would be better.  So I know that things are tough now, but will be better.  These are just the things in life we all have to go through at some point.  I’m just going through them a little sooner than I would have expected.  But my Mom’s strength is inside me and I will get through this.

In remembrance of Margaret Ann Conley – Wife, Mother, Sister, Aunt, Daughter, Friend, Light in the world.  I love you Mom.

Picture of my Mom taken last Christmas


September 04, 2014

Sports Chalet Gift Card Winners

I'm sorry for the delay in announcing the gift card winners. 

The winner of the $100 gift card goes to lucky comment #48 MJ Moore

The winner of the $50 gift card goes to lucky comment #38 *Monica*

Congratulations!!  Please leave your e-mail address so I can get your information and your gift cards to you!

Winners were selected at Random by  Random.org (a random number generator)

August 26, 2014

The Aloha Triathlon and Quintathlon….Awesomeness!

Earlier this year I decided to join the Reds – a Women’s local tri group (though there are now a few guys too).  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to be super active with them, but the ladies and the Coach (Liz) are all terrific!  Liz decided to put on a Triathlon this year – and wanted to make it “the most fun race in Kansas City” and I think she succeeded.

Inaugural events can always be challenging, but I thought this one went so well!  You can tell it was a race put on by an actual racer. 
Why yes, those are snow cones at the finish
You had two options for the Aloha Triathlon and Quintathlon:  A Sprint Tri – 400 M Swim, 11 Mile Bike and 5K Run.  Or a Quintathon: Swim, bike, run, bike, run.  Which was a 800 M Swim, 18 Mile Bike, 5K Run, 11 Mile Bike, 2K Run.  With the heat this time of year in Kansas City I opted for the sprint, but there were about 60 people who did the Quint.

I woke up early…as always for a tri.  My alarm was set for 4:15 and I was up and ready in a few minutes.  I headed out the door at 5 am to pick up my friend Michelle and we were off.  Already at 5 am you could feel the heat in the air.  It was about 78 degrees and humid.
We arrived and got amazing parking! The benefits of getting there early and such a small race.  I think there were only about 200 people total for both events.  We got our transition areas set up and chatted with a few other friends we ran into.  Everyone was pretty excited for the race.  As we began to head out of transition the sun was just coming up.  It was really beautiful, but it was also bright and huge.  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  It was definitely going to be a hot day.  I found myself very thankful I was only doing the Sprint for sure!

It was time to swim before I knew it.  Since it was a small race they just did 4 waves.  Men Quint,  Women Quint first – followed by a safety/wave .  And then Men Sprint and Women Sprint.  The women’s sprint was by far the largest group.  There were nearly 100 of us (92 to be exact ), so this made for a pretty large swim wave.  We started from the beach and ran in.  With only a 400 M swim and so many people starting at once it was pretty congested the entire time.  I got kicked and hit A LOT especially until I reached the first buoy.  Then it spread out some, but it was pretty packed the entire time.  I felt like I could never really get into a rhythm.  I didn’t have a great swim time, but it was ok.  I finished in 11:06.  My Garmin recorded over 1/3 of a mile vs. ¼ of a mile however, so the time was a little better than it looks.
Finish line picture...not exactly sure what's going on here
I was out of the water and running up to transition.  I was feeling pretty good and felt like I went through transition pretty quickly (1:31). I mounted my bike and took off on the bike course.  The bike was also really congested for the first several miles.  As I mentioned the swim was pretty congested the whole way so it seemed like many of us were grouped together on the bike at the same time too.  There was even one point where I was going uphill and had to brake to keep from hitting the person in front of me because I just couldn’t get around.  Braking on an uphill definitely is not cool!! I struggle enough with hills on my own.   It finally broke up and I felt like I could really get a little speed now.  I went back and forth with a girl for a while.  I would pass her on the uphills and she would pass me on the downhills.  This never happens!!  She even said to me “you keep passing me on the uphill and I’m passing you on the downhills”. It felt like being in an alternate universe – that is definitely the opposite of what usually happens to me.  Anyway, I really enjoyed the bike course because it was full of rolling hills and I really like those.  I know they aren’t for everyone and I heard a few people after saying they hated the bike course…but everyone likes different things I guess.  I also passed a ton of guys on the bike!  I’m not sure why, but I passed a lot.  My bike leg was my strongest of the 3 (as usual) and I felt really good.  I was actually disappointed to get my results.  I thought I had ridden a little better.  I ended up averaging 16.6 mph which is pretty good for me…but I thought I was a little faster.  Oh well I was 58th overall for my bike time out of 152…so for me…that’s pretty good.  Bike time was 41:58.

I quickly transitioned for the run (1:01 transition) and headed out for the HOT run.  I was definitely beginning to feel the heat.  But worse than the heat was the run course.  The 5K takes place on a chat trail which is like loose small gravel.  Most people love it because it is really easy on the joints, but for me, for whatever reason it absolutely burns up my calves.  I find I just can’t get traction and my feet slide.  I can’t seem to get any speed and my calves just get tighter and tighter as I run.  I was hot and my heart rate was elevated, but more than anything I had to stop completely several times to just stretch my calves out to be able to even keep running.  It was frustrating.  My run was TERRIBLE….but honestly the run was terrible for most people.  I ran a 39:06 5K (12:37 pace)…which is pretty awful. This would normally put me way down at the bottom….as in bottom few at a triathlon, but there were actually still 72 people who had run times slower than mine!! I guess that tells you just how hot it was.  I don’t know the exact temp, but it was well over 90 degrees with humidity above 80%.
In the end I finished in 1:34:39.  The average finish time was 1:32.  So I actually felt pretty good about my finish.  I was 8/15 in my AG, 49/92 women.  So relatively “average” and you know me I’m always happen with average! 
A pic of the temp...it wasn't over a100 actual temp though

I found my friend Michelle at the end who had come in 2nd Women overall!!  She is so awesome!  We then enjoyed some Snow Cones…and a photo booth….yes, it was a fun race! 
Race Swag
The race swag was pretty awesome too.  You got a really cool sweatshirt, a cute little rubber ducky, and a lei/medal.  You also got free race photos.  The added touches like the photo booth and snow cones were amazing too!  It really was a great race and I will definitely be back next  year!!!!

And if you haven't already - Don’t forget to sign up for my Giveaway!  You could win a $50 or $100 gift card to Sports Chalet!!  Giveaway ends 9/2.

 

August 22, 2014

Sports Chalet Gift Card Giveaway - Enter to Win!

Got your eye on a shiny new helmet?  Maybe a new pair of cycling or running shoes?  Whatever your fitness needs Sports Chalet has it!!  Go check out the newly launched Sports Chalet Website and see what they have to offer. 

Now, how would you like a chance to win a $50 or even a $100 gift card?

It's easy, but please read the rules and follow them for your chance to win.

How to Enter:

1.  Leave a comment and tell me what "new" item you want. (Required).

Bonus Entries:
2.  Like Slowly Tri-ing on FB and leave a comment. 
3.  Like @slowtrigirl on Instagram and leave a comment.
4.  Like Sports Chalet on FB and leave a comment.
5.  Like Sports Chalet on Instagram and leave a comment.
6.  Post a picture on Instagram doing your favorite fitness activity and use one of the Sports Chalet Community Hashtags found here and tag me in your photo for verification.  Leave a comment.
7.  Read my bio on Sports Chalet and tell me one thing you learned about me via a comment.
8.  Tell me what your favorite fitness activity is via a comment!

That's it! So many different ways to increase your odds!

Rules:
Contest will run from Friday, August 22, 2014 through Tuesday, September 2, 2014 (midnight CT).  Two winners will be chosen at random by a random number generator on random.org.  Each comment you leave will be assigned a number.  The $100 gift card will be awarded to the person who has the comment associated with the first number generated on random.org.  The $50 gift card will be awarded to the person who has the comment associated with the 2nd number generated on random.org.  You must leave at least one comment as described in item 1 to be eligible.  All bonus entries must be separate comments.  If you do multiple bonus items but put them in a single comment it will only be counted as one comment. 

Good Luck!!

August 21, 2014

Big News!

Is it just me, or when someone says “Big News” do you automatically think they are pregnant?  Well, I am definitely NOT pregnant.  I have even bigger news to share than that!

I am excited to announce that I was recently selected by Sport Chalet to become part of their Expert Ambassador Program!  Specifically, I’ve been identified as a Cycling Expert.  Does this mean I’m the next Lance Armstrong?  No.  Well, I certainly hope not.  Anyway, does this mean I’m an expert in all things cycling?  No, I’m not that either.  But I have been through many experiences – like buying my first road bike, tri bike, clipless pedals, bike wreck, etc.  I have experiences to share and I’m excited about sharing what I know.  It also means I’ll get to try out some great products from time to time and share those with you. 

If you aren’t familiar with Sports Chalet then head over to their website!   Or even if you are, they just launched their new site on Tuesday!  You can browse through a huge selection of sports items or check out their community pages where you can find me and other experts in Running, Fitness, Scuba, Outdoors or other Cyclists!  Just click on the ‘Explore Your Community’ link at the top. To find me just click on Cycling – I’m actually their featured Cyclist at the moment.

They are also giving away 6 amazing adventures in the “Adventures of a Lifetime Sweepstakes”. So , be sure to enter those while you are there.
To help celebrate the launch of their new website and Ambassador Program I will be hosting a giveaway starting tomorrow.  I will be giving away both a $50 and a $100 gift card to Sports Chalet…so check back!

I’m so excited to finally get to share this news with you guys!! 

August 18, 2014

Monday, Monday

Well hello there Monday.  How’d you get here so quickly again?

I don’t know about everyone else, but it seems like the summer is just flying by.  The weekends literally go by in a blur and then it’s Monday and time to start the work week again.  I’ve had so much going on lately and so little time to blog.  I’m really going to start getting back into blogging again though…so hang tight.
So what’s been up with me?
·         Training for my 4th marathon - I’m signed up for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on 11/1.  So far training is going pretty well.  My run this weekend was a bit discouraging, but I’m blaming it on the OVERWHELMING humidity.  I had a 15 miler.  I made it 14 miles before I literally started to feel like I might pass out.  I walked the last mile and then another half mile to my house on Saturday.  So I still got in 15.5 miles, just not the way I’d like.  Even the 14 miles was 1 minute per mile slower than my previous 13 miler….so yeah, a bit discouraging.  I don’t do well in humidity at all. 
·         I almost did a triathlon a few weeks ago.  It’s kind of a funny story.  I had intended to do the Matt Mason Memorial Triathlon for at least a month, but I hadn’t signed up for it.  A few weeks ago, I was literally in the middle of signing up and got kicked out – the race had sold out.  I was so disappointed.  Very few triathlons in Kansas City ever sell out so I was shocked.  I contacted the race director to see if there was anything I could do.  They didn’t have any full spots, but a team was in desperate need of a swimmer for a relay team so I decided why not.  Anyway, I showed up at the race ready to swim and the weather had something else in mind.  In the end we waited it out for almost 2 hours and they decided they would do the 5K only…I hadn’t brought any shoes just swim stuff, so I was out.  The race registration goes to a great cause.  The race is to honor Matt Mason a local Navy Seal who was killed in action with his entire Seal Team.  They honor him, but also all of the fallen soldiers.  The profits of the race go to Wounded Warrior Project.  I’m already signed up for next year.  I don’t want to miss out again.
·         Speaking of triathlons I’m doing one on Sunday.  It’s a first year event just a few minutes from home!  It’s the Aloha Triathlon and Quintathlon.  I’m just doing the sprint, but you can opt for a swim, bike, run, bike, run option.  It should be a blast. I’ll definitely post a race report after.
·         I have several road races coming up.  I think I’m going to try to work in a local 10K as part of my 17 miler.  I also have 3 half marathons coming up in Sept and October.  They all work into my marathon training well. 

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s enough for now.  What have you been up to?  I’d love to hear, since I haven’t been able to keep up with many of your blogs lately. 

July 24, 2014

Lawrence, KS Sprint Tri - A Hilly Beast!

Wahooo!  My 2nd triathlon of the year is complete.  That is one more than I was able to do last year J  I’ve missed triathlon…..though I think I would have been ok to miss this one.  It was by far the hardest sprint tri I’ve ever done.  But it’s over…and I finished and I still had fun so that’s all that really matters.

My friend Michelle was doing the Lawrence 5150 on Sunday which was her  “A” race for the year.  If you aren’t familiar with the 5150 it’s actually owned by Ironman.  It’s an Olympic distance race that consists of a 1.5K  swim, a 40K bike and a 10K (so 51.5 “K”s…..get it).  Anyway, the top 5 finishers in each Age group qualify for the Hyvee Championship race in Des Moines, Iowa later in the year and Michelle’s goal was to qualify. Since it’s a qualifier, the race also brings in several pros, which is always fun to see.
They also have shorter sprint race so I decided to do that one. I could have done the longer bike and run, but I wasn’t ready for the nearly mile long swim.  My race was a 500 meter swim, a 13 mile bike and a 5k.

The race location is about an hour and 10 minutes from my home.  It’s kind of out of the way for packet pickup so Michelle and I opted to pick up our packets race morning – which meant trying to get there by around 5:15….which meant leaving home around 4:00 am.  The 3:15 wake up is not pleasant, but it always amazes me how awake and alert I can actually be on race day. So I was up and out the door by 4:00 and headed to pick up Michelle.
We did manage to get there about 5:15 which was perfect timing – transition/packet pickup started at 5:30 and there was quite a walk from your car to the race location – around a half mile.  We got our packets – they were out of my size shirt – I’m supposed to get one mailed – we’ll see.  We then got in line to pick up our chip timers.  It was just 5:30 and there was already a line. They had one person handing out timers.  This line would grow throughout the morning and was huge by around 6:15 or so. I would have been panicked if we had gotten there late.  The race organization for this race was not very good. I got to my transition area and set up all my stuff and then looked around trying to find someone that was doing body marking.  There was no one around.  Normally at a tri they practically knock you over trying to get you marked.  I finally asked someone and found out that there were only two people doing body marking and they were outside of transition.  Again, another long line….again lack of organization. I don’t know if they didn’t have enough volunteers or what.

The morning was actually beautiful.  It was only about 65 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. It would get hot later, but I would be done.  We’ve had some unseasonably cool weather in Kansas City the previous week which had dropped not only the air temperatures, but also the lake temperatures.  So this race was wetsuit legal, which is pretty unheard of for a tri in Kansas City in late July. The water temperature was 78.  Since I was only doing 500, I opted out of the wetsuit – assuming it takes me more time to get out of it than it saves me.
The Swim:

Transition closed and Michelle and I headed down to the lake.  I wished her luck and we went our separate ways.  My group was the very last to start.  The pros went first, then multiple waves of the 5150 then all the “sprint” men, and then finally all the “sprint” women.  This was the first race where I’ve ever done with a swimming start.  You basically walk down a boat ramp and enter the water which is very rocky!  You then swim over to a little area and tread water until the buzzer goes off.   You burn a little extra energy treading water for about 5 minutes – but I guess you could call it a warm up J
The race finally starts and as usual you find yourself in a jumble of bodies - Hands, arms and feet everywhere.  I finally got in a rhythm and found a spot that wasn’t too jammed with people.  All of a sudden though I feel a huge swoosh of water right in front of my goggles I look up to see two huge feet right in front of my face.  The girl ahead of me was doing the breast stroke and almost kicked me straight in the face.  That’s the closet I’ve ever come to being kicked in the head during a race.  I got out of her path quickly and kept on.  I finally reach the turn for the final stretch of the race and some of the faster Olympic distance swimmers have caught up with me.  All of a sudden what was fairly calm became a little hectic.  But before I knew it I was done with the swim and heading into transition.

The Bike:
Hardest Bike EVER for a sprint race!  Ok, just thought I’d start with that.  I run into transition and grab my bike….my tri bike (first actual race on the tri bike) and head out to the course.  You have to mount on a hill….yes on a hill. Now, I noticed this before the race thank goodness, so I had my bike in the easiest gear.  But many people did not.  People were struggling to get started, weaving, stopping, falling, it was quite a mess.  I was feeling pretty proud as I passed most of them and got up to speed quicker than many.  I was actually passing people – woot – I never pass people J  I actually veered outside of the cones to get around a big mass of people right at the start and then all of a sudden this guy was basically veering right into me…I yelled “woah” and headed toward the left where I ended up coming within about 2 inches of going off the road – which would have been disastrous, but luckily I managed to keep it on the road. My heart was racing of course, but I got myself back together and kept climbing…as we headed out of the park and onto the main course.  The course is HILLY.  No other way to describe it.  I have ridden tougher individual hills, but because this course was hill after hill it was just incredibly taxing on the legs. 
You get one little straight stretch across the dam, but you’ve got an incredible head wind there and I was holding on to my bike for dear life.  My front tire was shaking like crazy…so it wasn’t exactly an area where you could “relax”.  So, it’s finally time for the turnaround and what fun, the turnaround is at the bottom of a hill which causes multiple problems:  1) you have momentum going down the hill, but you actually have to brake to make the turnaround on the two lane road 2) People doing the Olympic distance race are NOT doing the turnaround and are flying by you while you are trying to slow down (dangerous) 3) You now have to go UP that big hill you just came down from basically a stop.  No momentum because you had to drop your speed to make the turnaround…..talk about a leg burner.  I had been doing “ok” on the hills to this point, but this really took it out of me.  In the end you have 872 feet of elevation gain over 13 miles which in my book is a ton!  While the Olympic bike is more miles, I honestly think it would have been an easier bike because once they reach the turn around the course levels out and they have a nice long straight stretch for their legs to recover before doing those hills on the way back in – and they aren’t doing the toughest hill from basically a stop.  Anyway, I finally finish the bike – on a downhill… YEAH!  And head back into transition to get ready for my run (which of course will start on an uphill)…ugh!

The Run:
I quickly change out of my helmet and shoes and throw on my running shoes, visor and race belt and I’m out.  My transition times were actually pretty good during this race.  The bad news is, my legs are toast!  I mean toast.  I feel like I can’t run 3.1 feet, much less 3.1 miles!  So, I start on the run up the basically ½ mile climb.  And before I know it I’m walking!  I hate walking in a 5k!  Granted it’s up a hill and after a tough bike, but still I keep telling myself it’s only 3 miles you can do it…but my legs say NOPE sorry lady right now we need to rest.  I kind of walk/run until I reach the top of the hill and then I try to get going.  I’m still feeling pretty sluggish but at least I’m running and the hard part of the run is over.  Most of the run is pretty flat.  Of course running is not my strong suit, so I get passed by a lot of people….as in most people.  Anyway, the beauty of a ½ mile uphill start is a ½ mile downhill finish.  I run to the finish and mile 3 is my fastest mile of the course!  There is a little confusion at the finish.  I am running back toward the park and the volunteer said “Olympic distance turnaround here!” – I said “But I’m doing the Sprint” – he said “then go straight” which I did….and noticed I was heading back into transition – I looked over to my left – there was the finish line…ARGH……I had to then cross back across the parking lot to get back into the finish line area.  I finally cross the finish line…glad to be done. 
Me & Michelle pre-race


Overall, I still had fun.  That’s been my goal for racing this summer.  Enjoy it and have fun.  This was certainly not one of my favorite races ever.  As a matter of fact I would put it up there with least favorite. I don’t think I will do this one again, but still I can’t complain too much. I finished another triathlon and on my new tri bike for a change!
I grabbed my medal and a few refreshments at the finish line and then headed to get my results.  I was super excited when I saw I was 4th in my Age Group! That was my highest finish ever.  But then I found out there were only 4 people in my age group….of course.  I was bummed because I was that close to an age group award by default – if just one of those girls hadn’t shown up I would have won. LOL and I would have been thrilled to get it even if it was by default.  The other thing I noticed was my bike speed.  It listed me as 18.9 miles per hour! Say what?  My fastest bike ever was just under 17 mph….hey maybe that tri bike was magic?  But then I started really thinking that there was just no way on that course I just had my fastest bike ever.  I went to the results area and asked “does anyone else think their bike time is fast”.  My friend (who works for the timing company) said “it was a 16 mile bike right”?  No, I replied it was only 13….oh…the miles were entered wrong, suddenly my stellar 18.9 mph bike ride was 15.3 mph – that’s more like it.

After I got my “real” results I then headed to the finish line to cheer on other athletes and wait for Michelle to finish.  She didn’t feel like she had her best race ever, but she did finish 3rd in her Age Group (out of way more than 4) and she did qualify for the Hyvee Championship which was her goal.  So in the end it was a great day for both of us! 
Jack wearing my medal and trying to take all the credit again