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Boston: Why I needed to be there

Where to begin? There seems like a lot to tell, well, simply because I haven’t been blogging in quite some time. But, we will stick to Boston, and how I got there.

I ran Boston first in 2012. It was the first time that I had qualified to run the marathon. It had been a life dream ever since I had started running marathons. OK, well maybe not at first. At first, it was probably, "I'll never get there, so why try?", but as the years passed and the marathons added up, the dream was built... and in 2011, I achieved it. I ran a marathon fast enough to qualify - so in 2012... I went!

 I brought the whole family along, thinking that I might never qualify, let alone be able to run it, again. That year it was a HOT race and while I didn’t have the best (running) time, I had the best experience! With family and friends around me, it couldn't be beat! (If you really are so inclined, you can read about it here.) Anyways, I was there, did that – and, even with my less-than-stellar race time, I didn’t have the need to go back.While Boston is an amazing race, it is far away, expensive, not a kid-friendly town, etc. etc. so I was over joyed to have that be my one Boston experience. One I would treasure forever (and still do). But I didn't have the need to go back.

Until last year.

After the bombing last year, even with no close friends in the race, I was deeply affected. I know part of it had to do with the fact that I had been there the year before. That I had spent so much time at the finish line, both before and during the race.
The kids racing to the finish the day before!

And that my family, my WHOLE family, had been at the finish line – directly across from where the 2nd bomb was placed – on race day. We were precisely 1 year and about 20 minutes off from being directly affected by the bomb. I can’t tellyou the number of times “what if it had been that year?” had gone through my head.
Vantage point of my family on race day
Just hanging out waiting for me at mile 26.
But then it turned into more than that. As the events unfolded, the feelings of resentment, the feeling of violation for what the terrorists had done, swelled. What they did to everyone, the people of Boston, our country, our community, the fear they installed, etc.

This is one of my favorite bits on Boston after the bombing.
To me, he exercises the use of humor with such a strong message that rings true that it really hits home. While Colbert talks about the people of Boston, it was more than that - it was the people of this country.

I couldn't put into words why I was feeling, and have continued to feel, the way I do but as one of my friends stated, "It was such a direct threat on my way of life." And it is true.

I needed to do something. And I realized what the terrorists wanted was us to lay down. To be afraid. To not come back. So... that was the one thing I could do, the one way I could ‘fight’ the terrorists is to go back. To not be afraid. To say you cannot take away MY freedom. It sounds so silly, but at the same time, it is what was ringing true through my body.

That (and a qualifying time achieved at the Dallas Marathon) is how I ended up here in Boston this year.

I didn’t do it because it is an awesome race. (Which it is.)
I didn't do it because I needed to redeem my time.
I didn't need it to "say" I did Boston.
I didn't do it because I thought I might never qualify again.

I did it because the terrorists didn't want me to.
I did it for the people who can't.
I did it for the people from Hopkington to Boston who line the race route every year. To give them someone to cheer for. To show them that we aren't running scared.
I did it to face fear - and show others how easy it is to do the same.
I did it to stand up for our freedom that we have as Americans. To not let that be taken away from us.

I often feel like I do very little for this country for what I get back.

For me, THIS was the one way I COULD give back.

HITS Half-IM and other Grand Junction Adventures!

What's this? A race report? From moi? I know, it's been FOREVER since I have done one, but... I just had a really fun weekend (with loads of fun peeps and picts), so I thought I would share.

The adventures began Friday with a little trip out to western Colorado. Now, Ross had never been west Beaver Creek, so it was fun driving with him and seeing how the scenery changed and showing him my favorite part of that side of the state - Glenwood Canyon.
This picture doesn't begin to do it justice.
So, we scurried on over to Highline State Park in Loma (where the race would be happening) and drove the bike course. Now, if you are unaware of this course, you know you have gone too far when you get to Utah.
We went too far.
After that, it was a quick bike and swim (man that wetsuit feels weird) and off to dinner and check out the sights of Grand Junction.
Apparently, they really like their sculptures in Grand Junction.
I was advised not to climb up on this buffalo for fear of a ticket (I really wanted to).
Going into this race. Everyone has different thoughts, expectations, etc. of what they want from a race. For me, this was a "training race" as its purpose was (more or less) to prepare me for my "A" race in July. Regardless of it's "training race" status,  I was a little more anxious and felt like a little more rode on this one. I have been training hard and I felt like I needed to see improvement in my times. I wanted to be assured that my hard work was paying off somehow... and that is what I was looking for from this race.

Fast forward: Race Day!
Surrounded by some of my tri friend favorites!
What's a tri without Tyler and Keith?
World's BEST spectators (minus Joey)
I guess it is time to swim, huh?
Kelly's smile is infectious!

Feeling strong before the swim... or just convincing myself I am.

This picture is beyond awkward - which is why it makes me laugh so hard.
Ladies in the water.
The swim start was a mass swim and a little brutal at the beginning. I got anxiety about 150 yards out, but recovered ok. Spent the rest of the time trying to go fast, but really just re-learning how to swim in my wetsuit (first open water swim of the year). 1.2 miles and I was done and ready to come out of the water!
Not sure how I feel about this photo. 
 And then it was off to transition and onto the bike.

Now the bike course WAS beautiful. I guess I am a sucker for good views and you could see forever out there, so that was nice.
Just pretty wherever you looked.
Kelly on the bike!

Me coming up a hill.
Someone needs to teach me how to put on my helmet correctly.
The second half of the bike, you are climbing for a bit. Ordinarily, this wouldn't be a big deal, but the wind had picked up MAJORLY and made it kind of brutal out there. This is where I caught Kelly and we leap-frogged a little bit. Overall, the field of athletes was very cool and friendly and there was a lot of chit-chat, support, nice comments as you would pass other bikers - this made it even more enjoyable and fun for me.

After we turned, it was downhill with a tailwind and - as Tyler would say - BOO YAH!!! This part of the ride was my favorite... till I ran out of gears. I was pedaling in my hardest gear, without my heartrate being elevated and unable to go any faster. So I got left behind as Kelly whizzed on down ahead of me. :) That is ok, cuz I kept leap-frogging with some of my other "new friends" on the course.

As we got near-ish the end, I was calculating my time... thinking "I'm gonna pr by, like, l0 minutes"... then there was some climbing involved so it turned into "I'm gonna pr my bike by about 7 minutes"... then my Garmin clicked over to 56 miles and I was nowhere near the end and it turned into "I don't really think I am gonna pr this bike course...". But, fear not, the end was near and I was happy to be done. :)
Riding into the end - no aero in the park!

Off the bike and onto the run. Now here is where things fell apart. I won't dwell on it, I will just say I didn't have the best run ever (or even close). My back cramped, by legs felt like lead and the wind was just unbearable. The good thing(s) about the course were (again) more support from other runners and the fact that it was an out-and-back allowed you to see everyone.

As I hit mile 4-5ish I was able to pull myself up out of a dark place and into a happy place for the second half of it. So, that was a good thing. :) And it gave me a number of things to work on for the future. Tra la la la laaa.
Yes, the wind was so hard that I had to wear my visor backwards so it wouldn't blow off.
And, I'M DONE!!!!
So, put it all together and what do you got? Exactly what I was looking for. I didn't have the best race in the world, but by the times, it was better than my best race in the past -- which was an indicator that I was improving -- and that is what I needed.

On top of that, I had a great weekend.

I learned a lot - like what was working and what I need to work on.
Kelly and I got 1 & 2 in our age group.
Did a little wine tasting.
Wineries - my new favorite part of western Colorado!
Got in a little recovery ride with some great scenery and my favorite bike partner.

Went hiking in the Colorado National Monument
And felt like a kid in a canyon!

Yea... this weekend is what I needed to rejuvenate my soul ... for triathlon and for life!

Boston: One Year Later

As a runner, it was extremely difficult to watch yesterday's events.

Having had just run the Boston Marathon the year before, it hurt even more.

Had it been another race, even one I had run, I don't know if it would have hit home SO hard. But this race is one of iconic value to me. I had heard about it and envisioned running it for the past 10+ years. It is a landmark for runners and an honor to be able to run it. I had worked so hard to get there and last year... last year, we were there.
I was RIGHT there.
Taken when I ran down Boylson the year before.
  In fact my whole family was there. 2 days before the race, Ross, my dad and the boys even went down to the finish line (something I would highly suggest you do if you run Boston in the future). The finish line was set up and I got to see what I would be running to. The culmination of my day. And it was, actually, one of my favorite parts of the trip.
Linc checking out the grandstands
Me and Hunter eyeing up the actual finish line itself
The boys racing to the finish - since they wouldn't get to on race day.
Me & my dad - the reason I got there.
 When I initially saw the footage of the explosion, I thought, "Wow! I might have still been in the finish shoot with Heather." We had finished at 3:59, but taken our time stretching and decompressing, as the heat from last year's race had really affected us.

Look how happy we were to have run it!
 Then it hit me. I finished in 3:59, but I was in the 2nd wave and my clock finish time would have been 4:19. At 4:09 (the time of the explosions), I would have been around Fenway and Ross, my parents, my cousin and my kids, they would have been, well, they would have been... RIGHT THERE. Directly across the street from the second explosion. Waiting for me to come down Boylson.
This was their vantage point as they waited for me to come.
This one killed me, since the bomb affected most people "low to the ground."
 And that has gone over. And over. And over. In my head. I don't know why it is so hard to shake, but it has. If the bombers had bombed last year instead of this one...

But they didn't. And for that I am glad.
Post-race celebration at Fenway!
 But that doesn't stop my sadness for everyone that it affected this year, and have found the only way to start the healing process is to  remember to take the good out of a bad situation.

If I look back at my Boston experience and think about it. We had horribly hot weather and the people of Boston and surrounding communities showed out in full force and full support that day. I have no doubt that force and support was overwhelming yesterday.
I looked at the positive posts and news reports about the first responders and that gives you hope and awareness of the day.

Additionally, the Boston Athletic Association and its volunteers deserve kudos upon kudos about their ability to react and respond to the situation. I have heard nothing but praise for the BAA in their preparations, and, to be honest, after running the race, would expect nothing less than what I had heard about them from them. It is a topnotch organization and... well, the terrorists I am sure weren't counting on that. ;)

But it goes beyond the trained professionals to the people of everyday. To the spectators who ran towards the blast, instead of away from it. To people banning together - not falling apart. To aiding one another in any way they could. Here is one of my favorites. 
Residents bringing out orange juice and offering a bathroom to displaced runners.

And it goes to the American people. Supporting one another and drawing from within to make this situation better.

When the terrorist plan these attacks, I don't know what they are thinking - or what their goals are. I am pretty sure that they aren't looking to unite us. But in more ways than one, I think they do.

And although I usually try to pull my blogs together with some sort of take-away. Some sort of bigger thought that makes me feel better or to "pass along", but I don't have much. I was just hurting and wanted to get it out. If there is one thing it would go back to what I recently said to a friend who's family had been diagnosed with cancer, "I know that you don't want to hear this, but you will come out stronger. It just really, really sucks going through it." 

And that is kind of how I feel about yesterday.

Thanks for reading. 


So, I think it is obvious that I haven't blogged in awhile. Most would think it was because I wasn't up to much. Those who know me know THAT isn't ever true. I have a hard time taking a break, and, even when I do, my "down" time is filled with more things than the average person's busy season. Sometimes, I think I just don't know how to sit still. And that has grown even more as life goes on.

When Ross asked me about blogging earlier this year, my response was this; "I don't know if I really ENJOY blogging when I am doing it as much as I enjoy looking back over it, reading and remembering it." Blogging helps me capture the details that fade away in your memory unless written. Kind of how photos are. I don't particularly like taking photos as much as I appreciate them when I look back at them.

But, this blog is meant to be about my training and experiences and I have questioned continuing it for the past 6 or so months. I even have a few posts written in rough drafts that I never published. Cuz as I got busier, I asked myself where was most important to spend my time, and my heart said it wasn't in blogging.

It was in this :
Hanging with the boys at THEIR swim meets and races!
and this:
Playing QB for my favorite receivers
 and this:
Fun with me mateys!
and this:
Family fun and vacations to remember...
But, again, I just can't seem to stay away from training. I don't know if it is the goal-setting, the endorphin high I crave, or what, but I can only go so long without training for SOMETHING.
So I trained for and ran the Dallas Marathon this December (yay me!). It was tough, hard and fun all at the same time. But, I lived in the moment and, get this, didn't even take any pictures of the event or after.
Ran the Dallas Marathon and here is the closest I got to a picture of the event!
(It was down the street from the expo.)
When I got back to training again in January, I felt a tad bit guilty, like I was taking tons of time away from the family. That was until... Ross (super-husband) actually told me he preferred it when I was training. Like I was naturally happier, which I guess translated into a better wife (and hopefully a better mother, person, friend).

And so I have been at it. Swimming. Biking. Running. (And actually strength training, too!) And, because it is so early in the season, no real races. No marathons. No far, away (warm) tris. Nothing. And... I have been feeling a bit slow and unaccomplished. {Insert pity party here.}

This is when good talks with good friends come in REAL handy. See, I am lucky enough to have a few of those. So, I chatted with my friend Heather who told me I really needed to ask/remind myself "why you are doing this". What was my goal? My answer to her was "to get faster", and she was like "really?". So I thought and thought and thought about it.

See, my goal this year is to "race" a 70.3 and see how fast I can go. I have "done" 70.3's in the past in training for IM, but never really raced one. I wanted a new goal, something to get me motivated, and this seemed to fit the bill. See what training for racing a 70.3 was like.  May not sound awesome to many, but it did to me.

So, WHY? Why was I doing all this?
And, it kind of goes back to the whole blog thing.

That is when I felt it. If I am going to be successful at my goals this year, I needed to blog about this. I needed to remember WHY I was training. WHY I have set these goals this season. And WHY I need to stick to them. And the answer I have come to is it's because I am committed. I am committed to friends, coaches, etc. But mostly, I am committed to myself. To setting a goal and fulfilling it. It's something I set out to do and I want to see it to its end. I don't want to step down, lessen the training, go easier when I am tired because... that would be letting ME down. My desires and why I started this. Sure, its been hard, and not as fluent as I would like but, aren't the best things in life the things worth working for?

So, COMMITTED. That is my new thought/mantra/whatever you want to call it. I am committed to the season. To seeing where it brings me. COMMITTED to the training plan. COMMITTED to trying my best in the pool every Tues/Thurs morning. COMMITTED to maintaining my strength training. COMMITTED to a bunch of smaller goals that will help me reach my end goal. And, in the end, I am COMMITTED to racing the fastest 70.3 I can in July and being 100% happy with the results - whatever they yield - because I want no regrets at the start, or the finish, line!

2012 "Date Event" - Xterra Lory

This year I realized that Ross and I have picked one event to do together per year since we started in triathlon. It is kind of hard to do that for a couple with kids (and no family close), as it is much easier to have one parent take care of the kids while the other parent races. Much, MUCH harder to convince a babysitter to come over to your house at 4:30 a.m. so that you can go off with a your loved one to do something they don't even find intriguing (thank you, Abby).

While normal couples have date night(s) - and we do, too - but every year we have tried to have a... date event?

Anyways, so far they have been:
2009 -- Boulder 70.3
2010 -- Ironman Wisconsin
2011 -- The Triple Bypass
While we don't end up doing the actual event together, I realized that it is something that brings us closer because we have one event where we have the same goals and we can train for together. I think I realized this mostly last year in training for the Triple. I really cherished those days we set aside for our long rides and having them with my husband.

So this year it was Xterra Lory. AND since I had never even been on a mountain bike until about a month ago (and have only "trained" 3 times since on one)... advantage Ross. BUT, pretty much all you have to say to me (ever) is (a) that it is a beautiful course and (b) that it is challenging, and I am game. In this case it was both!

For us, it was a totally fun event. And by fun, I mean non-competitive (for us) and awesome. It was set right up our alley in that it was in a beautiful state park and you can never beat that. The bike was supposed to be a beginner course and it very well may have been a beginner course... but I would hate to see an intermediate course if that is the case. (Again, not saying it's not a beginner course, just saying I am not good at mountain biking.)

We got there are settled in. Soon enough, some of the usual suspects started showing up.... Ken and Lori, Tyler and then there was Beth. I didn't see Keith until he pummeled me right before the swim. Nothing better than having familiar faces at races. (Double points if they are friends that also just raced IMCDA with you. )

 Anyways, after a quick warm-up swim, Ross and I were waiting for the start. It seemed like FOREVER, since there was 5-10 minute lag between waves.(Later, I would appreciate this on the bike course.)

Soon, it was time for my wave. I haven't swam a 800 meter swim in a race since my very first (ever) triathlon. Here is the awesome part about that - I COULD SEE THE BUOYS! Normally, there is like 4-5 buoys for a distance twice as far, so when the buoys were sooo close together, I was in heaven. Swimming straight was just not as hard. Awesome. No kayakers chasing me down telling me how far off course I am. Double awesome.

What was not so awesome was the swim exit. The reservoir was super low, and by super low, I mean at 40%. We were in one of the areas that was hit the hardest by the Colorado wildfires earlier this summer, so the reservoir waters had been used to fight the fires -- like 60% of them. So, we exited in muck, pure and total muck, and had to make our way up far, far, far to hit the transition. Not a huge deal, just not optimal.
The race directors told us that last year, we would have been 10 feet under water right now.
That is how much the res is drained -- see it way off in the distance?

Shortest bike breakdown ever. The bike was fun, but emotionally exhausting for me. I had the cardio skills to keep up with the others, but not the technical downhilling skills. So, I would slow up on the downhills and lose people on the uphills. In addition, it was nerve-racking for me because there were plenty of people who would come up behind me and I would be more worried about finding an adequate place for them to pass (not wanting to slow them down), not even caring about my "race". Overall, people were way cool on the course. I would say something like, "You can pass right up here" and they'd be like "No worries! It's not like my sponsors will care" (jokingly). It was nice.

So my thoughts went like this (there were  2- 6 mile laps):
Halfway through lap 1: This course is way too technical for me, I think I will bow out at the end of this lap.
End of Lap 1: OK, maybe that wasn't SO bad, I will go for lap 2. But my back really hurts.
Shortly into Lap 2: My back hurts soooo much. There is no way I am going out on the run. It would be painful the WHOLE time and I was only in this for fun.
End of Lap 2: Hmmmm, my back pain has subsided, I will just try to run.
Check out my stud of a husband on the bike!
Off and onto the run: 
Just happy to be running. Seriously, I didn't think I would make it even onto the run, so running for me was just fun. I think it is the first race where I didn't even look at my pace. Part of me didn't want to know and part of me just didn't care. When you think you won't even get onto the run (had never happened before), your perspective changes to just be glad you are running when you get on the run....

So off I went, running up a mountain. {I love living in Colorado.} And the best thing about running up is (a) the views! and (b) running down! So happy, little camper for me.

Somewhere around mile 4, I rounded a corner, thought I saw the end, rounded another corner and realized that even though the end was close, they were having us circle around.  I walked to catch my breath. Sure enough, in that moment, I hear shouts from the finish area telling me to RUN! (Beth, Tyler and Nancy -- although I really don't think it was Nancy cuz she is too nice for that.) There were spectators on the path that laughed and said, "You've got some supporters!".  Yea... if that's what you call them. :)

Circled around and (another half mile later) I saw the finish line. And what could possibly make me sprint to the finish line??? Can you say slip'n slide!!!

No camera shots, but fun times. I finished and went back up to wait for Ross. Ross came strolling in a bit later (he started later than I did). I waited and we did the slip'n slide together. (For those of you who have a hard time imagining a slip'n slide at the end, picture this...)
(Taken from another race run by Without Limits - ie, same slip'n slide)
 We had a great time at the end, catching up with people, eating our fish tacos and recouping after the fun.

I love my husband so much and find it a treasure that we can partake in the same event. Not just for the sake of the day, but for everything that goes into it - setting the goal, training for the goal and then completing the goal. It is fun to be able to have at least one of those shared experiences each year. I hope it is something we continue for a long, long time.
2012 -- Xterra Lory in the books!