Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Race Day - June 27, 2010

I'm finally blogging about Ironman Race Day!
Here is my attempt to put into words my insane and wonderful experience...
Racing for Relief donations were able to fund a well in eastern Uganda. God can even do His work via a crazy person doing an Ironman and those supporting her.
Thank you, all doners!
Before the Race. Nerves. Cold water ahead. Racing mind. Yet no fear.

On the Bike. Smiling. And hot. It was a scorcher.

During the marathon. Friends and family always brought a smile to my face!

After I finished! With my #1 fan there and best supporter.
What a feeling that was!

Well, one would have thought that I would have blogged about that race day upon finishing but I think I needed a looooooooong recovery :) So here I am FINALLY blogging about it.

First and foremost, I finished. I crossed that finish line that I had been dreaming of throughout an entire year of training, praying and carrying out the fundraiser. It is to this day the most memorable day of my entire life, aside from my engagement and wedding days... but it is not too far behind! Looking back, I have no idea how I mustered up the courage and energy to take on Ironman, and I thank my God for carrying me through and giving me the strength.

I'm not quite sure how I can put into words my emotions and physical pains associated with the entire experience. The two days leading up to race day were full of nausea, a racing mind, constant prayer and lots of checking my many lists to make sure I had everything... ready. This includes every thing for my swim, bike and run, as well as all transitions and "emergency" tools and gear I needed to have available.

The day before the race I had a massive dinner around 5:00, spent time with Rob, my family and friends and then went to my hotel room for some alone time. I then prepped about 10 gu/ensure creations to keep in my shirt, in my bike bags, and in my transition bags. I tied up all loose ends and by the grace of God fell asleep.

I woke up at 3:30 to eat my pre-made scrambled eggs (with extra salt!) and also had a bagel with peanut butter, honey and banana and drank some chocolate Ensure. Definitely put down well over 1,000 calories to build a good base for the swim and day. I remember being nervous but mostly calm. Again, I attribute that to the Lord.

Upon approaching Lake C'oeur d'Alene, the sun was rising as my heart was racing. The beauty of the sunrise helped to ease my nerves and the lake looked calm(ish) which was great. Athletes were getting marked, people were hugging and high-fiving and many were "in the zone" mentally preparing for the day. I proceeded to get marked, check my bike and transition bags... and of course do that thing that all athletes do on race day mornings... take one too many trips to the honey bucket. Oh man, not my favorite part of race day :)

I was greeted at the start line by many of my wonderful friends and also my mom, dad and brother to cheer me on. It was great knowing people were there to support and pray for me throughout the day. As 7:00 a.m. approached, I zipped up my wetsuit and headed to the beach with Rob to get on solid ground to prep for the start. I remember the feeling. Utter excitement that the race had come but also the thought of the unknown was frightening. Would I finish? Would I get a flat tire? Would I cramp up or have a heat stroke? Will I mess up my nutrition or pacing on the bike? So many questions. But I remember God giving me peace and telling me he got me to this point and that He would take me to that finish line.

I thought of everybody in Uganda that I was racing for. Racing for clean water. For sustainable education. For malaria nets. For healthcare. For prevention of HIV and malaria. For love of other humans and children of God. It was a great feeling knowing I was racing for others.

Then a loud noise prompted all 2,000 of us to enter the water AT ONCE. Taking part in a "mass start" is a memorable experience. Combine chaos, flailing limbs, adrenaline and you can picture what I experienced. It was a MADHOUSE in the water for at least half a mile. The first loop (1.2 miles) was pretty packed, especially at the turns but the swimming became easier as time went on and I had more room. I had a successful swim that proved to be faster than I expected.

As I ran onto shore after comleting the 2.4 mile swim, I had my wetsuit stripped off, which was fun and made for a quick transition. I then changed out of my suit and into my bike clothes. My hands were shaking, I remember, and adrenaline was pumping through my veins. After I was sunblocked and ate my 1/2 pb and j I hopped on the bike. 112 miles ahead. 4,400 feet of elevation gain...

Yes, that being said, the bike portion was pretty intense. It was the heat that made it tough, along with the hills. Although it took me a total of 7 hours and 50 minutes to do the ride, it seemed to fly by. I was so busy keeping track of my nutrtion (salt tabs, gus, gatorade, protein, etc.) and stopping at honey buckets that the time seemed to fly by. BUT I must say it was grueling at times. Hot, sweaty, and sticky was the ride. My gatorade bottle was splashing everywhere, which was awesome.

Unfortunately I stayed so on top of my nutrition that my stomach couldn't handle all the fuel. My blood was busy in my leg muscles and couldn't digest the food, so I developed quite the full and bloated stomach. Bloated with gu, snickers, gatorade, water, you name it. That being said, it was pretty uncomfortable starting about mile 70. Thanks to my AWESOME friends and family, I was always re-energized when I saw them on the course!

And this must be said: Thank you Jesus for protecting me from a flat tire! I finished the bike leg in time and that made me so, so incredibly happy.

Next was the marathon. I've ran a marathon before. This was not a marathon. This was a test of character, determination and the ability to push through pain. My stomach felt like it was going to explode, which made running difficult. My leg muscles were doing ok, but man alive boy did my stomach hurt. The heat and fuel combined gave me some problems. But step by step I plugged through that marathon. Stopping constantly to pour cold water on me (it was high of 90ish that day and very dry and hot) and make stops at the port a potties. Wow it was a painful run but I just kept running. Running for the prize that awaited me.

A few dear friends of mine came to cheer me on around mile 23, as well as my fiance at the time (riding his bike on the course to cheer me on -- thanks Rob!). I think my friends and Rob can attest to the fact that around mile 23 I was about as good as dead. But oh man I could taste it. This race I had been training for all year was coming to that magical end I had been only dreaming would come true.

At around mile 25, it hit me. I was going to actually finish. FINISH. You have no idea what this means to somebody who has no idea if that would actually happen. All of my countless training sessions were running through my head. The dedication was paying off. It was getting dark and glow sticks were popping up everywhere. It was exciting. People lining the streets cheering everybody on. As I approached town, I could feel the energy.

With about 1/2 mile left, I was running through the crowds. My legs gathering speed as my excitement was increasing exponentially. The cowbells clanging and people cheering everywhere... I felt like it was a dream! I ran those last victory yards with a thankful heart pointing my fingers to my God who brought me to that finish line. Thanking God for the work He would do with the Racing for Relief funds. Thanking God that I was about to become an Ironman!

And that was that! I crossed that line and was greeted by friends, family and slices of pizza :) 13 hours and 54 minutes later, I was an Ironman! What a day. Hot, sweaty and painful. A physical and mental challenge beyond anything I had ever done. But it was over and that was a beautiful thing!That night I slept with my medal next to me on the bed. And I think I slept maybe 2 hours. I don't think I fell asleep until 3:30. It was surreal to be done.

Then followed a beautiful recovery phase. And now I am in communication with those in Uganda who are helping to disseminate the funds to the appropriate avenues. Most of the money raised (I believe is now well over $7,500) was put towards a well in a village named Kabira. How amazing is that? THANK YOU ALL DONERS! Because of you clean water is now available to an entire community. Clean water = lives saved.

I will post more updates and pictures about the well and Kabira as I receive them. Until then, thanks again to all who supported Racing for Relief and supported my dreams and what God put on my heart. My advise to anybody is that you CAN do ALL things through Christ. I am living proof.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Well I thought I'd add some humor/randomness to my blog to lighten the mood and share with everybody part of my training you may be unaware of.

For those who have ridden, you already know. Your nose runs. Even if you don't necessarily have a runny nose or sickness that day, your body decides to release it's mucous. I think it has to do with drinking lots of water when you're cycling and thinning your mucous... and going fast. And cold temperatures.

Most people resort to the infamous "snot rocket". Many runners do this as well. I quite frankly have not yet mastered this art. Upon attempt, usually I just get snot on my face. SO I pretty much just don't do it! I just wipe it on my gloves. Which is basically more gross :)

My loving fiance, however, is a master of the snot rocket. During runs, it does not affect me. However, during rides, I usually am fortunate enough to catch his snotspray. At first I was like, "WHOA, your snot just sprayed on me! SICK!" But now I'm just kind of used to it. After a year of training, there are certain bodily things that just don't gross me out anymore. That being said, I could really care less if I'm riding behind Rob and get snotsprayed.

HOWEVER, today a complete stranger decided to snotspray me. So bad that I had the spray visible all over my sunglasses. Here's what happened:

It was a beautiful day in Seattle (FINALLY), so the Burke Gilman was hoppin. I'm coming up behind some dude, not passing him but riding about maybe 10 ft behind him (not drafting... pretty far back). He turns around, sees me, and then releases his snot rocket! I was like, ummm WOW! Not cool.

So I passed him. Wiped off my sunglasses. And that was that. And the rest of the quick ride was golden, and I got to ride on my exciting new red-rimmed tires!

I promise, I won't write any more weird blogs. Unless someone pantses me again!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Strength in Christ

So it turns out when you taper, you have more TIME. Wow! Which means I have time to blog. I have a lot of thoughts/fears/emotions going on in my head this week. And time and time again, God continues to give my soul peace. And joy. I wanted to take some time in a blog to give a "shout out" to my God.

For those who aren't aware, we are made and loved by an AWESOME God. He has shown me his unconditional faithfulness and love throughout this life HE has given me. And this year has been no exception.

In Christ alone, I find my strength. I wanted to share a verse that has been essential for me to cling to throughout my life, and will definitely be said over and over again to myself on this upcoming Sunday. It's a bit "cliche" in the verse world, but it speaks the Truth. I can do all through Christ who strengthens me. Amen.

And now I'd like to give a "shout out" to the YMCA Sharks... and my parents! When I was a wee lil chap in Hot Springs, AR, my parents (or Mr. and Mrs. Butler) would drive me to swim practice at the Y, where I would swim many laps and get fed m&ms or gummi worms during the workouts. Now the m&ms have turned into gu shots and gummi worms are now clif bloks. And now that hand-me-down speedo is a wetsuit and I will unfortunately be swimming in some wavy water instead of that pool. That being said, thanks to Coach Sha, Coach Andy and my parents for introducing me to the water at such a ripe young age! All those swim meets have brought me to where I am today. So maybe I should not thank you... but be upset with you, Mom and Dad?! ;)

Here's an old school pic, circa 1992 at a YMCA swim meet.

And lastly I thought I'd share a glimpse into the *start* of my packing. Just getting things going, as we will be in C'oeur d'Alene in exactly 48 hours from now! My packing list... well it's pretty extensive... and according to Brian, the only thing I forgot to put on it was the kitchen sink!

Anyways, that's about all I've got for now. Just wanted to give God some glory on my blog, because truly He should be glorified in all this. Also, thanks to my family, fiance and friends who are being so supportive and encouraging to me right now! You've been so supportive of my heart for Uganda and for how and where God has called me. I really appreciate y'all, more than you know.
Time for sleep. Good night!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

TOP TEN & Mileage

Highlight: raising funds for Uganda Vilage Project!
This is a picture of me with dear friends in Uganda.
This is a gomes dress; it's not dri-fit, but should be!

Lowlight: the infamous "wetsuit kiss".
Oh so painful!

Well 10 days to go! I figure now is a good time for me to reflect on the ten most memorable moments of the past year leading up to now. Here goes: top ten memorable moments/experiences, both good (highlight) and bad (lowlight)! In sequential (chronological) order...

10. Lowlight: Waiting too long to re-fuel post-run prior to Jen's bridal shower, slicing my finger and then proceeding to pass out in the loving arms of Jen Chestnut and Stacy Rydell. Lesson learned: ALWAYS eat immediately following a work-out depspite future brunch/food in store.

9. Highlight: An 80 mile ride to Snoqualmie falls (almost) and then a run loop around the lake on a nice Seattle Saturday. After this ride/run, for the first time in all my training I really felt the confidence that I CAN be an Ironman. Until then, it seemed out of reach.

8. Lowlight: Realizing that Perpetuem (a carb + protein powder used to make a fueling drink mix) does NOT settle well with my stomach. 3 trips running to the restroom in one spinning class :)

7. Highlight: Rob asking me to marry him after a 10 mile run at Discovery Park! That is a MAJOR highlight ;)

6. Lowlight: Getting pantsed while enjoying a nice sunrise run at Greenlake. Showing travelers on Aurora my bright white booty = not an expected training day.

5. Highlight: a beautiful 9 mile run on the coast of Monteray, California. Hard to beat that!

4. Lowlight... well, these are lowlights: having to wake up at 4:15 on many morning when the rest of the world is sleeping! OR having to stay up late to train and sacrifice time with Rob, Rob/Megan/Molly or my friends.

3. Highlight: My first 100 mile bike ride, which happened to be on the Ironman race course on Memorial Day Weekend in CDA. AND God sent me an angel, Lou, who lead me on the course so I didn't have to follow the sparse directions/map. God is so good.

2. Lowlight: Serious "wet-suit kiss" after my first swim in Greenlake in my new (sweet! -- thanks Shawn Lucas) wetsuit. The picture speaks louder than words.

1. HIGHLIGHT: Exceeding goal of $5,000 for Uganda Village Project! Woohoo!! Currently around $5,600 has been raised, thanks to such generous and loving friends and family. This makes my heart so incredibly thankful, humbled and inspired.

So, that's that. Highlights got me through, and lowlights either provided growth/challenge/endurance OR humor! Either way it's a win-win. Or as Michael Scott would say, It's a win-win-win situation.

Current mileage, with 1 week left of training:

Swam 219 miles
Biked 3,500 miles
Ran 738 miles

Grand total of 4, 457 miles trained so far!

I guess that gives me a bit of some comfort going into race day; I know I gave this training my all and my body is ready for the test!

And a fun fact is that when adding up my time spent in training, it is over 370 hours (conservative value), which is about 15 and a 1/2 days of training straight.
That's all for now. I'm going to *try* to fall asleep by 9:0o so I can wake up for a sunrise run!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dear Diary

I have been more diligent with this diary than I have been with any other diary in my entire life. However, I did not write my secret, most exciting deep and dark secrets. Nope, I wrote what I did to train every single day that I did. Definitely not exciting but, here's why:

6 days a week for the past 9 months, I've been following a training schedule. I knew when I started that I had a pretty big task at hand. Showing up on race day is easy, but preparing your mind and body for the race is not easy. At all. I knew that I needed something to hold me accountable to my trainining and track my progress. The simple act of knowing that I got to go home and record my miles gave me reassurance that I was doing everything in my power to prepare myself for this Ironman.

So that's what I did! I recorded everyday whether I swam, biked, and/or ran. I also recorded the time and distance of each. The diary also has spots for nutrition, energy, etc. but I didn't fill that out usually. However, one day I did calculate how much nutrition I needed to sustain my bike and run that day. Over the course of an entire day (breakfast, fuel during training, and dinner) I ate 5,000 calories! Kind of crazy.

Anyways, so here is where I am currently:

215 miles of swimming
3,395 miles of biking
718 miles of running
And only 2 weeks until race day. As in, in 2 weeks I will be currently on that race course. Praise the Lord! This year has been quite the year. It's been fun training (well sometimes), but at the same time it has been lots and lots of sacrifice. Many times when I would have much rather gone to spend time with my family, fiance or friends, I had to train. Sometimes in the cold rain, ha. I knew God called me into this Ironman for a reason, and I've given my all to prepare myself for the race and to raise money for the work coming out of UVP. My prayer is that my sacrifices and hard work will be worth it come June 27th! It's been quite the journey experiencing God sustaining me through this and I can't wait to cross that finish line.
Also, in one HUGE way, my sacrifices are already are worth it and I haven't even raced. There is still 2 weeks left to go, and I am continually humbled by the funds donated to UVP. Currently about $5,500 has been raised. THANK YOU to all of you who have donated! I can't tell how how joyful my heart is to think that what is being done here is going to impact many people in a BIG way across the world in Uganda. Wells with clean water, safe water education, sustainable nutrition education/initiatives, obstetric fistula education and surgeries... the list goes on. I love the power of a group of people coming together behind one great cause. Sincerely, thanks to all have supported Uganda Village Project!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Let the taper begin!

Riding the bike course in CDA over Memorial Day Weekend

Rob and me in front of Lake CDA

This is me being bored on I-90 as we strolled at 3 mph. We could have biked home faster than driving. Well maybe not :)

What I eat before and during my workouts. Oddly enough, I'm still not sick of chocolate gu!
This is where you can find me during late nights or rainy days. Joined by my fiance sometimes, which is great!

Well, the race is now only 20 days away and I get to start tapering down my workouts. I've been awaiting this beautiful taper for the past 8 months, and I've finally arrived. The past month has been the peak intensity of my training and I'm excited to slow down a bit. I've had some long training days amidst my travels to California, Idaho and my fave state down south... Arkansas!
3 weeks ago, I enjoyed my training runs along the beautiful beaches of Monteray, CA. I left behind my long spandex and running gloves at home and enjoyed running in shoes and a tank top! It's been a rough spring in Seattle. It was a great change of pace, scenary and climate. And the beaches, hills and sunsets were absolutely incredible.
The next weekend I headed to C'oeur d'Alene in order to prepare myself for the bike portion of the race. This weekend called for my longest ride, so it was the perfect opportunity to ride the course, which is highly suggested. After some major frustration at a detail-lacking course directions page and lack of road signs, God blessed me with an ANGEL, named Lou, who let me ride along him. We rode the entire course, and now I know the task at hand! It was quite hilly and a bit challenging but definitely scenic. And FUN! The climbs allow for some fast downhill speeds approaching 35 mph. After 100 miles, I called it a ride! My first centennial ride. A happy moment for me!
Then I ran a quick 2 miles. Felt great. So hopefully the remaining 24.2 will feel as good as those did. Right. All in all it was a successful day. I made a new friend, Lou, who has raced before and gave me some good pointers. I also got to finish the ride with Rob, which was the perfect way to end the long day. Being in CDA got me excited for what is to come.
Last weekend I was in Arkansas, so my trianing was skimp. However, I did some training in advance which helped. Rob and I rode the South Lake Washington loop, which always makes for a fun ride. We had a sunny day to enjoy Rob's birthday and then enjoyed some delicious salad, pizza and gelato from Tutta Bella to replenish our bodies.
My one training sesh in Arkansas took place in good ole Eastgate II, and left me a sweaty (and apparently stinky according to my mom) mess. Man, I miss that Arkansas HEAT! But let's just say I'm glad my run I'm about to take will be in about 68 degree weather...
Otherwise, my preparation has been lots of reading from a triathlon book and lots of making lists for the big race day to come. So much to plan and prepare for.
And now here I sit with less than 3 weeks to go. I only have 15 hours of training this week, and it will cut down over the next 2 weeks. The bulk of it is over, praise the Lord! I feel blessed that God has kept me strong, motivated, inspired and dependent on Him.
Furthermore, I feel blessed to be surrounded with such generous and loving friends and family who have been supporting my fundraiser for UVP since day 1. Thanks to you, I have reached my goal over $5,000.... and am well over it... and it's still climbing! God always exceeds my expectations. I have no words to express my thanks to you. This will be the crank inside my body on June 27th. A sincere thank you to all who have supported the cause and myself through words, prayer and financial support.
And if you haven't donated and still want to, it's not too late! http://ugandavillageproject.org/racing-for-relief
Alrighty, well off I go to enjoy a 12 mile run. Until next time!

Monday, May 10, 2010

110% HEART

I went to a documentary titled "Running the Sahara" a couple months ago. It's the true story of three men with one goal: to run across the entire length of Africa's Sahara Desert. They ran roughly 50 miles a day for over 100 days... all the way to the Red Sea in Egypt. Absolutely ridiculous!

Well the documentary was very impressive (and funny) -- you should watch it if you are at all curious. There was a lot of interviewing and commentary from the runners. When asked how one can do something so challenging, one of the runners commented that doing this sort of thing is "90% mental... and 10% mental".

While I am not doing anything near as imcomprehensible as runnning across the Sahara Desert, those words have definite truth in what I've been facing in my training. As race day approaches (less than 50 days away), the workouts get longer... and longer... and longer! And I can say that I am as mentally exhausted as I am physically. It takes a lot of will power not only for the long weekend days, but for also for those workout sessions that come after a long workday.

Last weekend consisted of a 2.5 mile swim followed by an 81 mile ride on Saturday. Then Sunday was an 18 mile run broken up with a 15 mile ride after mile 11. This definitely was a physically challenging weekend; I can vouch for the fact that weekends like those take lots of will power and mental strength. I've found that what I put my mind to, my body can accomplish. I've also found what drives me deep down. My heart: God in me and being my strength as I Race for Relief.

So this brings me to this realization... it definitely is 90% mental, 10% mental.... and 110% heart. I learned at Camp Ozark growing up that we are to give 110% to all that we do. 110% heart. And what gives my HEART that energy and passion and what drives my mind is GOD. Christ alone has given me the heart to do this, the mental capacity to do the trainning and the strength in my body to get to this point.

So for me it's 90% mental, 10% mental AND 110% HEART!

Doesn't really make sense mathematically but it makes sense to me :) And the cool thing is I can apply this to the training, to the future race day, and all aspects of life. It's amazing to experience God in my life as He intertwines my heart for Uganda, UVP & His people with my passion for fitness. He really knows what he's doing...

That's all for now. Back to enjoying my "rest day"!!!