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Training with the fam

This past weekend I spent with my family (minus Ross and the boys) up in Michigan remembering Grandma Bea. Grandma Bea was a wonderful woman who touched all of our hearts with her kindness, loving spirit and zest for life.

While the weekend was devoted to being a celebration of our grandmother, the best way we could spend it was to be with one another. Grandma (and Grandpa) are the reason that we are all here. They raised two wonderful daughters, who in turn, fostered families of their own all based on what they learned from my grandparents.

Grandma Bea's grandchildren and great-grandchildren (minus Morgan, Hunter and Lincoln)

Family has different meanings to different people, but for me, whether they know it or not, they are my rock. I draw strength from my family and their support is unmeasurable. People have asked why we are doing Madison for our Ironman. It’s not the easiest course, nor the fastest. It can be hot, humid or downright freezing cold. The bike (my hardest discipline) is supposed to be very technical—so why Madison? The only real reason we have is: it is because my family will be there.

With a full weekend ahead of me, I set out to get a few good workouts in and try to involve my family as much as possible. While they have been more than supportive of our training efforts, sharing the “complete Ironman experience” (ie, training and day) with them has only drawn me closer, so I was looking for ways to further share the experience of training with them.

Workout #1. Swim Workout. First, I asked my super-awesome-swimmer niece, Olivia, if she wanted to swim across Grand Lake with me. She was game for swimming some of it with me—she is only 10, so the whole way would be too much. Knowing that it was a grand adventure, but probably not the safest with boats in the water, we recruited a canoe escort to tote water, the camera, provide support and keep me/us safe from possible motorboats.

Support crew: Cousin Melissa, niece Olivia and nephew Mathew.

They were awesome. Generally, Mathew is quite afraid of the canoe when they boat too far out in the lake, so canoeing all the way across was quite a challenge for him.

It was rocky and hard. I fastened my Garmin to the front of my suit, so I could get a distance and figured I would swim across the lake OR until my Garmin beeped 1 mile—whatever came first.

Swimming across, I tried to focus on a cabin and shoot for it, but I was getting tossed around a bit by the waves, so I think I changed my focus a few times… oh well. More than once I heard “Aunt Randi! Aunt Randi!” (Mathew) “You wanna turn around?”. To which I answered,. “Not really, is that ok?” And he agreed. What a little trooper. Melissa did her job, too, by singing with the kids and keeping them entertained.

What a great cousin!

I swam into shore, turned around and then back out to the canoe, which had stopped for a rest pretty far from shore. My Garmin read about 1.8 miles. Huh? I guess I hadn’t felt my Garmin when it hit 1 mile. Oh well, I guess I was in for a longer swim than planned. Onto the swim home. It was a tad bit easier, but not too much. The canoe knew where the cabin was, so I was just content following behind the canoe.

About 500 yards or so from the end, Olivia jumped in the water and swam right up to me like a little fish. Awesome! Now I had someone to swim with and it made my day. I kept her right to my right-side and we swam in together.

We approached the dock and the whole family was hooting and hollering for us. Cheering us on! It was so fun to see everyone out there to greet us after our hour plus excursion. I am pretty sure that it lifted Mathew’s spirits, too—who I am sure was exhausted by this point.

It was a lot of fun to have that support for everyone: Melissa, Mathew and Olivia for canoeing and me and Olivia for swimming. Not only did I achieve a great deal, they also did as well and I was so proud of them.

Me and Olivia once it was all over.

Workout #2. 14 Mile Run. While I tried to recruit as many as I could, asking people to run “any part of 14 miles” was quite intimidating to most, but I managed to have two takers—Auntie and my cousin Justin.

We started out as a threesome and ran a mile out and back from my Grandpa’s home. Auntie is a special person to me who I don’t get to see enough of.

Then, Justin and I grabbed our waterpacks and bottles and headed out for a beautiful run. Justin has been logging time, not miles, running around the nature center by his house, but he was pretty sure he was up for it. And boy was he ever! Justin was an excellent running partner. Very chatty and more than happy (and capable) to run whatever pace.

Both of us had spent time during our summers growing up playing along the water and in Rogers City, but neither had run along the path as much as we did today. It was neat to run through the terrain where both of our parents (and grandparents) had grown up and explore it as much as they would have living there 18+ years. It was beautiful.

The route was a side of Rogers we don’t normally see in our short visits and even less now that we are out of state. We ran through the forest outside of the city and onto stretches where we gazed at Lake Huron. On top of that, me and Just got some time to connect and I got to learn a little what is going on in his brain. Fun stuff.

As we got to the end, we found my favorite finish line—Grandpa Art. Who just told us that we were crazy (and shy-ed away from my sweaty kisses) in a lovingly, grandfather-ish way.

While my family may not realize it, but their willingness to involve themselves in my adventures—whether it is as partakers, care-givers, supporters, canoers, or just plain telling me that “you are nuts, but you can use my shower anyway”—means more than they will ever know.

My family rocks!