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

June 21, 2012

You Never Know How You Might Inspire Someone!!!

I hear stories all the time that inspire me.  You hear stories of people losing 100s of pounds and completing their first marathon, of people in their 70s and 80s still competing in running and triathlon events, stories of athetes who have battled injury or worse lost limbs or their ability to walk who still find a way to compete.  I am amazed by so many different bloggers who consistently win their Age Groups and finish near the top in every race.   But I have never once considered myself to be "inspiring".  I am just an average Joe Athlete - no wait, I'm not even that.....I'm a slower than most athlete.  I just get out there and do my thing and have fun.  I blog about it, I share my pictures on Facebook, but am I an "inspiration?" - no I don't think so.  But a few weeks back I received this e-mail from an aquaintance on Facebook and it really made me re-evaluate how we can inspire people in different ways without even knowing it. 


I wanted to fill you in on my journey of running, I started Jan. 6th, only able to jog 1/4 mile without having to stop! (10 years ago I was running 13.1 with little difficulty...quit working out after college and when i got married...gained 75 lbs!!!) Now I am running 6 miles comfortably, I did my first official 5k last weekend...though it was only 3.1 miles, it felt so good to be able to that!

The reason I'm sharing is you were one of the reasons I started to run again!!! :) I would see pictures of you and your hubby doing your infamous pre-race pictures :p it got me thinking how fun you all made it look, so I decided to get with it!!

I'm doing a Tough Mudder in October in Ky, and doing three more 5/10k's within the next 2 months.

Thank you!! It's the little things like this that normally would go unnoticed, but for me it was life changing..I was on 5 meds (blood pressure, etc) now I'm only on 1!! :) I've lost 55 lbs!!!

Thanks again!
After I read this, I sat there stunned for a minute.  Had he really intended to send this e-mail to me???  Had something as simple as posting my pre-race dance pics literally inspired someone to make such a huge change in their life??  It was seriously overwhelming.  I share this with each of you so that you know that people are watching.  You may not realize it, but what you do can influence and impact those around you.  Even if it's those people you don't see or talk to on a daily basis.  This e-mail is from someone in my home town who I really don't even know that well.  I know who he is, but don't know him personally and he lives hundreds of miles away.  And me, little me, had an impact on this person's life!  It's pretty amazing and humbling all at the same time.  I am soooo glad he took the time to share this with me.  It truly made me realize that you just never know how you might touch someone's life. 

So keep up the good work everyone and GET out there and INSPIRE someone today!!

What do you think?  Would these pics inspire you to do something new??? Ha!!

June 19, 2012

Topeka Tinman

With my first Half Ironman just 4 short weeks away, I had decided it would be a good idea to work in a practice triathlon about a month out.  The Topeka Tinman had perfect timing.  I had done the sprint tri last year and really enjoyed it, but decided the “long” course tri would be a more challenging option and was closer to the kind of distances I need to be getting in during training right now.
The Topeka Tinman long course tri is an odd distance.  It is supposed to be a 1000 meter swim, a 19 mile bike, and a 7 mile run.  So it’s a shorter swim and bike than an Olympic distance race, but a longer run.  I wished the bike and swim were a little longer, but It still seemed like it would be a really good “brick” workout.
 Several of us “Team Racine” racers decided to do it.  Topeka is about an hour and a half West of Kansas City.  When my friend Michelle and I did the race last year we left at 3:45 am to head to the race, which meant getting up at like 2:30 am or something crazy like that.  This year, since there were 4 of us girls doing the tri, we decided to book a room in Topeka so we didn’t have to get up quite as early – although I was still up at 4:30 am, but that’s just a normal day for me anyway.
I am a super light sleeper, so the hotel ended up being a bad idea – for me anyway.  People were crazy loud in the hallways til almost midnight.  Things finally settled down about then, but I was WIDE awake.  I think I finally feel asleep sometime after 1 am, and woke up before my alarm at 4am. I think I would have ended up getting more sleep if I had just stayed at home…oh well….everyone else seemed to sleep just fine.
We headed over to the race and arrived about 5:45am and parked and walked the approx half mile from the parking area to transition.  We got body marked and got our transitions areas all set up and then do all the normal pre-race stuff:  eat, go to the bathroom multiple times, check out the swim course and water temp, etc.  This is a pretty small race – only about 600 total for the short and long course tris, so the environment seems a bit more relaxed which is nice.
The girls pre-race.  Check out my Turtle Jersey!  The cutest thing ever right??  And it's matches my blog.

Before long it was almost time to start the race and the announcer begins letting us all know that there is impending bad weather heading our way.  The forecast for our race was questionable.  It was calling for 15 mph winds, temps in the low 90s with high humidity and 40% chance of scattered thunderstorms.  Apparently there were severe thunderstorms less than an hour away and the storm cell looked like it was heading right toward us.  They told us they would continue to watch the radar, but they may be forced to change the race distances for our safety.  A call would be made at the start of the race.  The weather didn’t really look that bad, but you could see some dark skies moving in and the winds were really beginning to pick up.
Finally about 5 minutes before the race they made the call.  If they kept the distances as scheduled, the storm would likely hit while the majority of racers were on the bike course which was too dangerous.  They would reduce the swim and bike portions of the race to the short course distance, but would keep the 7 mile run.  So, I was now going to be doing a 400 meter swim, a 13 mile bike, and a 7 mile run.  I’m not particularly good at any of the 3 sports in triathlon, but the run is definitely my worst.  This particular tri would be heavily weighted toward my weakest sport – so I was not exactly excited by this announcement. 
With my neck injury I had really only swam about 3 or 4 times during the last month, so I knew my swim wouldn’t be strong.  My goal was to get through the swim, try to “sprint” on the bike, and then keep my run under a 12 min per mile pace.  I knew I would struggle on the run if it was hot, but I wanted to feel “ok” on the run at least.
The  Swim (400 Meters) – 11:06
Our group finally starts (long course goes last in this race).  All women in the long course and relay teams are in the same start group.  So even though it’s a pretty small race there are about 50 people that start together and on only a 400 meter swim….well that means we are on top of each other the entire swim.  I got kicked at least 10 times, probably more.  It seemed like no matter how hard you tried you really couldn’t get out of the cluster of people.  Before my shoulder injury last fall, the swim was actually my strongest event, now it’s one of my weakest.  My swim time was not very good at all.  I think I was one of the bottom 10 overall for the swim, but when I got out of the swim I was happy that I still had some energy and was able to run up the hill into transition.  My T1 transition was 2:16, which wasn’t fast, but it wasn’t too bad either.
The Bike (13 miles) – 47:41 (16.4 mph)
The bike course is really not too bad.  It’s relatively flat with a few rolling hills.  You do have a pretty good slow incline for the first few miles and of course and these first few miles were directly into the wind.  The good thing was it was an out and back course, so that meant that you would have a gradual decline with a tail wind at the end of the bike!  I had already decided I needed to “sprint” the bike as much as possible due to the shortened course.  Once again I am not strong on any of the 3 sports, so sprinting is a relative term.  I will say I passed a lot of people!  At the KC Tri in May all I heard was on your left – today it was me saying that – don’t get me wrong plenty of people passed me, but I passed a lot too.  The roads are in pretty terrible condition and there were a few giant potholes to navigate, but it seemed like it wasn’t too long and I was off the bike.  I quickly transitioned (1:09) and I was happy with my fast transition from the bike to the run.
I ended up averaging 16.4 mph on the bike.  Last year, since I did the short course we did the same course and I averaged 15.1 mph so I was really happy with the improvement.
The Run (7.75 miles) – 1:28:10 (11:23 min pace)
 I happened to head out of transition at the exact same time as my friend Kristi.  So we started the run together.  I started WAY too fast.  By a quarter of a mile in I was huffing and puffing and my breathing was totally out of control.  I told her to go on so I could catch my breath. I knew if I didn’t get my breathing under control early, my entire run would be awful.  I still can’t seem to figure out this bike to run transition.  My legs are ready to move faster, but my lungs are not.  I try to “slow” down at the beginning, but I always end up too fast and having to walk in the 1st mile.  It drives me crazy.  I walked for a few minutes until my breathing was under control and then I started running at a steady pace. 
It was starting to get really HOT out and the clouds had gone away.  There was no weather coming our way afterall.  I would have loved a little rain.  There was some shade as you ran along the lake, but there were some other spots with zero shade.  I felt pretty crappy the first couple of miles, but felt like I finally kind of got in a groove around mile 3.  Miles 3-5 kind of zoomed.  I finally reached mile 6 and was ready to kind of “sprint” to the finish, but as we’d been passing the mile markers my Garmin was farther and farther off.  I knew I was going to come in over 7 miles, but I still decided to push it that last mile (which pushing it at this point was an 11:14 min pace).  When my Garmin beeped mile 7, I couldn’t even see the finish line and I was still inside the park.  I knew I had at least a half mile to go.  How could the course be off this much.  By mile 7.5, I still couldn’t even see the finish line.  I was dying at this point.  I had sprinted and not left myself much at mile 7 and now I didn’t know where the heck the finish line was.   I finally see my friend Michelle and she was like the finish is just around the corner, not too far….well it still is pretty darn far. She yells “sprint to the finish” and I jus t shake my head and say “I can’t”.  I was dead….that extra mileage had done me in.  When I crossed the finish line I was at 7.75 – NOT 7 miles.  The run was almost 8 miles, not 7………not cool!!!  When you mentally prepare for 7, they can’t just throw 8 miles at you. 
Total Time:  2:30:20
Anyway, I finished and I was actually very happy with my bike and run pace in this race. My swim wasn’t great, but that’s ok.  I can’t say that it’s something I’ve worked on at all, so I shouldn’t expect much.
I met up with my friends after the race and everyone was feeling pretty good about how they did.  3 of us all finished within 5 minutes of each other, but my friend Michelle finished 30+ minutes faster than all of us, so we knew she had done really well.  She ended up placing first in her age group and 5th woman overall!!  She is an amazing athlete!  We were all so proud of her.  So we stayed around for the awards ceremony to let Michelle get her medal.

Post race - Michelle with her AG bling!
I had a little rest and recovery on Saturday evening after the race, but come Sunday morning it was time to train again.  And train I did.  I met my friend Kristi and a couple of our other Racine friends who didn’t do the race for a 50 mile bike ride (well 47.5 technically…but close enough to 50).  It was another HOT and HUMID day and I was exhausted, but somehow I made it through it.  There is truly no rest for the weary when training for a half ironman that’s for sure.  The awesome thing is I can do it.  No way would I have been able to ride 50 miles after a triathlon last summer…no way at all.  It’s great to see how far I’ve come!

Race shirt

Finisher glass

June 07, 2012

A Real Pain in the Neck

The day after my last triathlon I noticed that my neck was a little stiff, nothing too painful, just a little tight.  I figured I had just strained the muscle during my swim.  On that day I had already scheduled a Chiropractor/ART appt and a massage.  I told both of them I had a little pain in my neck and they worked on it some.
The next day the pain was worse, but manageable.  I got up and did my morning run, and then went to the gym after work and swam 2000 meters.  When I came home my neck was really sore.  I iced it and went to bed.  Wednesday morning I couldn’t move it.  It was so sore.  It was spasming and just unbelievably painful.  I was miserable all day at work.  It’s all I could focus on; I had a headache and was even a little dizzy.  I did self massage all day and started downing ibuprofen.  Thursday, it was pretty much just the same.  I went and had a short head and neck massage, which helped alleviate the spasms, but only for about 10 minutes.  I also made yet another appt with my ART guy.  He said it was extremely tight and would take a few weeks to heal. 
I have a feeling that I was babying my left shoulder (do to an injury from last fall in that shoulder) during my swim and putting more strain on the right side.  The pain is in the right side of the neck, but radiated all the way into the top of my shoulder and around my shoulder blade.  During the day the pain across the top of my shoulder would actually end up being worse than the neck pain.  I’m sure from being on the computer all day.
I have pretty much been in constant pain for the last 2 ½ weeks, trying to let this “heal” itself.  I’m sure I should have taken some time off to let it heal, but I just didn’t feel like I could do that during my last few weeks of 70.3 training.  So I have been doing all of my workouts.  I have shortened a few swims, but have still been swimming.  Swimming is by far the worst!!!  I have been icing and massaging using a home massager, and have had a couple more shoulder and neck massages.  I have had way too much ibuprofen over the past 2 weeks.  Nothing was helping.  After 16 days I had finally had enough.

This is pretty much what I've looked like the last 2 weeks.

I went to the Dr. last night.  She said based on my symptoms it was very likely a pinched nerve.  She prescribed me a 5 day dose of steroids.  I also went out and bought one of those neck pillows to help keep my neck stable during the night.  And – the hardest part, I decided to take 3 full days off from training to give the steroids time to do their job.
I am very happy to say that after just one steroid pill, and one night’s sleep on the neck pillow it’s amazing how much better it feels today.  Not totally healed or anything, but definitely better than it’s felt in the past 2 ½ weeks!!  So I’m super hopeful this will do the trick and that a little rest and recovery will have me back as good as new for my long workouts on Saturday and Sunday.  I only have 5 weeks left til Racine – and I will be in Washington, DC for 3 days next week… I really need my training to go perfectly in the short amount of time I have left.

The KC Tri - The culprit????

June 04, 2012

I Conquered The Hospital Hill(s)!!!

The race is called Hospital you pretty much know what to expect.  It doesn't matter if you run the 5K, the 10K or the Half Marathon, it's hilly, but if you do the half - what they mean by "The Hill" is a forever climb up Broadway in downtown, KC.  The hill goes on forever and it's at the very end of the race, which doesn't help.  The race slogan on all the shirts is "I conquered the hill".....everyone thinks they need to change that slogan to hills - maybe someday.

Jim was in Wyoming for a marathon and I was at home, but we did our best to still come up with at least one pre-race dance pic.  Jim's race wasn't until Sunday.  What do you think?  Pretty nifty huh???
Anyway, I did the 10K last summer, and thought I was literally going to die.  It was close to 80 degrees at race start with insane humidity.  By the time the race was over it was climbing into the 90s.  It was seriously awful.  Between the heat and the hills, I vowed that I would never, ever do the race again.  But somehow, I found myself signing up for the race again...but this time I would attempt to conquer the half.  I had honestly been dreading it.  With the extreme heat we'd already experienced in early Spring, I figured Hospital Hill would be brutal.  But by some stroke of luck the weather forecast had called for a cool front to move through just in time for the race.  I watched the forecast like a hawk all week....just waiting for it to change but it never did.  Come race morning it was 50 degrees at the start, and temps would only reach about 65 by the end of the race.  It was sunny and no wind.  It was nearly perfect!!

4 Memers of "Team Racine" before the Half

I got up at 4am on race morning and left my house about 4:45, to pick up my friend Michelle and meet up with a couple of other friends Kristi and Nikki to head down to the race.  The race started at 7am, but we wanted to be there by 6am.  We arrived probably a little early, as we were some of the first to arrive.  But it made for easy parking, bathrooms, etc.  This race is held near Crown Center in downtown, KC.  And the mall is very gracious to open their doors to the runners and friends and family.  It's a great place to hang out, stretch, etc before the race starts......or take some fun pics with a guy made of legos.

I have no idea

With my first 70.3 just 6 weeks away, this race was meant as nothing more than a training run.  I wasn't out to set a PR or kill myself, but I wanted to have a good solid run.  My PR is 2:23, so I decided my goal would be to run the race under 2:30.  My friends Kristi and Kortney decided that would be a comfortable pace for them too, so we all decided to start with the 2:30 pace group to keep us from going out too fast.  The race starts with a pretty decent uphill, which I remembered walking during the 10K the year before, but I felt like I breezed up it quite nicely this year. 

I felt really good throughout the entire race which was great.  I knew I could have pushed it a bit harder, but the pace felt hard, while still being somewhat comfortable.  I will say that the last hill got me...just a little and I had to stop to walk a couple of times for just a few seconds - the only time I walked during the race (besides through the aid stations).  But once you finally crest one last super steep but short hill, the last half mile of the race finish is completely downhill.  I took off here and left the pace group to finish in 2:28:56!  Just under my goal time.  I finished strong and I felt great.  I couldn't have been happier with my results.

I met up with my friends after the race and as it turned out everyone had a great race.  Apparently the great weather had really made all the difference.  The hills didn't seem nearly as challenging when it wasn't 100 degrees. 

When I woke up Sunday morning I was super surprised to find out that while my legs felt tired, I wasn't really sore at all. I think that was a first after a race.  It was good though because I had a 40 mile bike ride planned.  The bike didn't exactly go as planned (long story) but I still managed to get in my 40 miles.  I was tired, and those last 10 were super tough, but I got it done!  I know one thing for sure, I could have NEVER ran a half marathon and then rode 40 miles the next day a year ago...heck probably not even a few months ago.  I am definitely getting stronger.  Only 6 weeks til RACINE!

Finisher Medal
The HH unique finisher item - Flip flops??  Cool or corny??  I'm not sure :)