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Ironman Couer d'Alene 2012 - The Swim

I got up at 4:15 a.m. on Ironman morning and did my best not to wake the kids, get my stuff together and leave the hotel room without much noise. Success! Kids still sleeping and me out the door.

I have said (multiple times) how having lots of friends in this race has really helped me along, and race day was no different.

I think inward anxiety was mounting as I went down to the race start. There saw Beth and Cory, some tension relieved. Walked into T1 to pump up my bike tires and saw Jeannette and Carla - could you ask for two more "mother birds" on the trip? I immediately went over and got hugs. Pumped my tires and ran into Beth. She asked what was wrong, I could tell she wanted me to tell her so she could say something to "fix" it, but I couldn't, I didn't know.

After getting all set up, I retreated to the basketball court where people were hanging, waiting to put on their wetsuits and found Yon and Dave. Dave, too, asked me how I felt and the best I could explain was: If you could have shock before a big event - that was what I was having. I just needed the gun to go off. That was good enough for him.

Having them, plus Nick, Justin and later Tim and Nina, was just awesome. We sat around, talked and later put on wetsuits together. In particular, Dave is a bit of a goofball and having him around just made me smile. When it came time to put on our wetsuits, well, it occurred to me that I hadn't "glided" with men before and there conversations were.... well... it was just awesome. Pure comic relief. THAT is what I needed to start my day.
Yon looking sassy and Dave striking a pose
They thought I looked like Amelia Earhart with my 4 swim caps.

Soon it was time to make it down to the water with 2800 of my closest friends. I stuck close to Yon and Nick. I was fairly certain they would keep my nerves at ease.

There is something so raw about an IM mass start that is just so.... intense. In a regular tri, they limit the start to 150 people/wave, so... 14x as many people as is deemed "safe" to start with. Great...

And this one was even more intense than any I had experienced. It was a beach start, which means you run in from the beach, on a somewhat narrow beach, into the water and start swimming. It is arm over arm, full on body contact, and it was CROWDED. Add to that I am not the fastest swimmer and oy vey!

The air horn went off and off we went. Now,  I have had anxiety in the past and it is not because I am mentally freaking out in the water. I am a strong swimmer and feel like, if my life were ever in danger, I could tread water, get to the outside, stay afloat, etc. etc. (Thank you, mom and dad, for all the lessons as a kid.) Additionally, I am not going to be taken down by someone clinging to me  - lifeguard certification will do that to ya. What I have learned is that my anxiety comes from me getting my heart rate UP too fast, so I made sure to go out strong, but not fast or beyond my ability. It is easy to get caught up in a start like this and just swim the rate others are swimming in part just not to not get swum over. I was happy I was able to swim consistent and not have too much to worry about.That is not to say I didn't have my share of contact, it is just par for the course.

So, I swam and swam and swam. Being in the middle of the pack leaves you little that you have to site for and makes the job easy. The swim was 2 laps, so as I rounded the first lap, I just thought, halfway there!

Out of the water and back into the water for lap 2.  
This swimmer (orange cap) opted to take off his leg for lap 2
Now lap 2 had challenges of its own. Mainly the choppiness in the water. I thought to myself, this could be two things: (1) rescue boats - meaning someone was in danger or (2) the wind picking up. I weighed the two and decided (albeit I DIDN'T want wind on the bike), I was hoping that was it.

I remembered something my friend Tyler had said to me about IM being just "more of the same". So lap 2 was about that. More of the same: keep consistent and strong.
Lap 2: Home Stretch!!!
But soon enough, lap 2 was coming to an end - thank goodness! I saw the red arch and I was darting to it! I was so happy to be out of the water and on the way to the bike!!!!

IMCDA - THIS is happening.

I feel like I have heard over and over again, "oh, you have done an Ironman, {you know what to expect, what it is all about, you'll have no problem, insert your own assumption here}".

Not true.

I woke up this past Monday morning. Ironman had sent me some email, I clicked on a link, it sent me to the website and, although it was in the corner, off to the side, THIS is what I saw:
and what I thought was.... "HOLY MOLY. THIS is happening."

Yes, I know that I have been training for this for 8 months, so it would only seem logical and realistic that I was well aware of the fact that my "A" race was occurring in 5 days (15 hrs, 54 mins and 14 secs), but I wasn't.

And that has been what my week has been like so far. A series of "OMG! THIS is happening."
Shopping for race. Dropping off my bike. Packing for race. Just a bunch of little steps forward. And everyone feels like I am taking a little step closer to a ledge.
About to get on a plane - THIS is happening.
Driving from Spokane to Coeur d'Alene (gorgeous!) - THIS is happening.
I did some thinking on the plane and on the drive as to why I was having these anxious feelings and what I needed to do to get over them. So, I got to CDA and off I went... the swim beach.
Swim course, Lake Coeur d'Alene  - THIS is happening.
Fear 1: cold cold cold water.
Those of you who know IM courses know that IMCDA is known for its cold water. Add to that, that last year was EXTREMELY cold and I have an acquaintance who was pulled from the water (and another one who was pulled the year before from IMAZ) - and I was scared. In fact, the coldness of the water may have been one of my ultimate fears about this race. Not when I signed up, but as I learned about it, the fear grew. And grew. And grew.

In I went and... it wasn't so bad. I can do this! I thought. And it felt (dare I say?) good. 40 minute swim and cold water anxiety was put to rest 

wetsuit + booties + 2 neoprene caps + latex cap = 1 warm(ish) swimmer
Fear 1 subsided.

Fear 2: the bike course
This year they changed the bike course to include a lot more climbing than the previous course. Not that I knew what the previous course was like... but it went from "hilly" to "climby" and that was a little daunting. So, off it was to recon the course by car.
Is THIS really happening? Oh wait, that is Tyler and Beth - of course it is happening.

And it was BEAUTIFUL! and it didn't look so bad, but I wasn't fully at rest with the course. (In the past, I have also learned pretty = hard.)

So this morning it was off on my bike with Cory and Beth to see how it really felt.
Off we go..... to conquer the climbs
I know - this is the downhill. Keep in mind that we have to climb this coming back/out.
My favorite parts are the views!
Going down - unfortunately, we will also have to go up!
 AND, I will say, the climbs were hard, but not nearly as bad as I thought. (and still beautiful!)

So... Fear 2 subsided!

So here I am. A few days out. I am feeling more confident and not internally freaking out about the impending race. In fact, instead of inching towards a ledge, I feel like I climbing up to it, ready to jump. And with the fears subsided, I am having a pretty good time in Idaho.
My new Idaho-an friend.
Cheers from Lake Coeur d'Alene

 THIS. Is. Happening.
And I can't wait!

Hey COW!!!

On a lighter note to my last post, despite my fears in starting and completing the ride, I do have to admit, I had an EXCELLENT game of "Hey Cow!".

What is "Hey Cow!" you ask? It is a car game my friend, Lorynne, taught me that I have transformed into a riding game.

Next time you are on a long car/bike ride, when you pass a cow field, you shout out "Hey Cow!" and see how many cows turn to look at you. That is the number of points you get. If playing by yourself, you count your points. If playing with someone else, you alternate fields to see who gets the most points.

Luckily for me, the cows were out last Thursday and I got a whopping 42 points! My Hey Cow! all-time high! A PR, if you will.

Facing Fears

Thursday morning, I woke up scared. Terrified, actually, to do my workout.

 I texted my friend Jen and told her I was nervous, to which she texted back:

And right away a flood of reasons came to my mind:
- riding for 100 miles
- in the middle of nowhere
- on a hard course
- by myself
- in the wind
- possible rain, hail, tornadoes (all of which we had had within the last 8 hours - twice!)
- did I mention I was riding in the middle of nowhere?
- bike failures
- flats
- could I do it?
- would I do it?

I texted back and forth with Jen and she gave me some courage. So, I hopped in the car and drove down to Castle Rock where I was doing my workout. On the way, I glanced over and saw a field FILLED with hail and foreboding clouds above. Great. Texted Ross to say I was starting and to "keep close" to his phone.

Maybe this wasn't the wisest decision.

I thought about my friend, Sonja, who is one BAMF. She's an amazing athlete and over the years has done tons of crazy things. But, I have to imagine, that even she was scared at some point and just went out it and did it. And then did it more. And then did it even more. And that is how she became so indestructible.

And off I went. And I went. And I went.

And being alone for 100 miles gives you some time to think and I thought about why I woke up feeling that way. Was it is a fear of the unknown? Was it is a fear of doing it all by myself? Was it a fear of pushing my limits? Was it a fear of not "successfully" completing my workout? I am still not sure. All I knew is the only way to get over that fear is to do it. So I did.

Quite proud of myself for that day. I know it is not much to many. And looking back, I still wonder why I was feeling that way, but I was. But I also got over it. As I got further along in my journey, the fear started to subside until... finally it was gone! I was doing it!

And I did. I finished. Ahead of schedule and feeling great! And odd enough, the best thing may not have been that I finished it.

Perhaps the best thing about that day is that I will carry that feeling of fear inside me. The next time I am scared of something, I have that experience and that fear to draw upon. I will dig deep and know I can face it and succeed.

Get By With A Little Help From My Friends...

Wow! It's been awhile since I posted... and I guess it's not the time period, but have been doing LOADS of training and actually have LOADS to talk about, but not too much time to blog. So, oops.

But, I will say, the thing that has kept me going and positive the last couple weeks are my friends and training partners - one in the same, if you ask me!

This is very different for me. I am a creature of habit and also a creature that does stuff, on my own time schedule, when it is convenient for me. I have SO MANY things in life that I love, that in order to "fit them all in", I have had to be this way. And at the top of the list of things is family. Yes, I have kids AND I train. Some find this selfish. I find it a balancing act, where if done right, both me, my husband and my kids get the benefit of a happier, healthier self/mom/wife.

To accomplish this, I have needed to be very, very scheduled over the years. Often, this includes early morning workouts by my home, just so that I can get them in and back home to see and help with the kids before school. Working at 4 a.m., so that I can then later take time away from my work day while my kids are in school to workout, etc. etc. AND this definitely includes getting my LONG workouts in over the workweek.

Taking that time away (like 5-8 hours/day) from my kids on the weekend, well, that is not a lifestyle I want to lead. And I don't. Not a lifestyle. But for 4 weeks, my husband (smartest, most supportive person I know) assured me that it would be ok. "Do what you have to do. Focus on your race and I will take care of the rest." And I love him SO much for it.

So the last couple weeks have been hard, but doable, and at times, dare I say "fun"? Yes. FUN!
Feeling a little cooky after the Boulder Sunrise on Saturday
 Unfortunately, I don't have more pictures to prove it, but I have been blessed with so many friends who have stepped up to meet me and get a good workout in. From my early, early morning runs with Todd, (yes, the man wants to meet at 5 or, gulp, earlier) to Beth and Nancy for mid-week climbing rides, and Tyler who just knows when I am about to break and meets me at the pool. Lest we not forget my RMTC peeps (Tim, Candice, Jen, Nina, Yon, Heather, Ty, Beth, the list goes on...) who have probably seen more of me in the last few weekends then probably all year. And, not to mention, for 5-8 hours at a time. (I thought Ross was the only one who could handle that much of me.)

So, there you have it. Three more weeks to go, and three weeks of unreal support and training from the friends and family. I couldn't be happier, and I couldn't have done it without everyone. This is AMAZING! and I think THIS is the best part of the training this time.