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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!