I’m a Daddy’s Girl!

This month marks the second year since my Dad passed away. My grieving process has been a personal one and I have mostly kept it to myself. There have been a few moments where the sad part of my grief has bubbled over, but mostly, my grieving process has been an internal, reflective process. However, as I think back on the past two years, I feel compelled to share some of my experience and some of the thoughts I have about my Dad.

I grew up a Daddy’s girl. I really can’t explain what this really means as it is just a connection I felt for my Dad. I loved to spend time with him, I thought he was funny, I enjoyed pushing his buttons, I was amused by getting as close to that line of aggravating him and often didn’t feel satisfied until I got the “over the glasses look” from Dad. This would make me giggle and walk away as my Dad would then just shake his head in exasperation. I particularly loved talking with my Dad. I loved debating with Dad, I loved using his own points against him. Debating was a verbal and mental game I loved playing and Dad was always up for the challenge. I loved listening to his stories – especially when they became more and more elaborate. I loved rambling on and on while he listened to my own stories. I equally LOVED the way Dad would end a conversation. There was no predicting the wrap up…likely because there was NO WRAP UP….mid conversation Dad would simply say “okay” and just like that we were finished talking. This always made me laugh as it was hallmark Dad. Anything else would have felt wrong. I LOVE my Dad!

I’ve heard many girls talk about their Dad being their Hero. I’m not sure if it will seem weird, but I wouldn’t call my Dad my Hero, I loved him fiercely, but I also knew he wasn’t perfect. He was a hard man in many ways, opinionated, strong willed, stubborn as all get out, lacked some of the finer skills of social grace, a bit proud and he was certain he knew most everything. But I loved and admired him in spite of the complete collection of his character traits.

One of the things that has occupied my thoughts recently is how much weight Dad put on parenting, as he measured the worth of his life. This concept ran very deep with him, it was a spiritual, social, personal responsibility to him. He wanted each of us to be successful and worked very hard to provide what he believed would best help us achieve this. As I think about my Dad and how much I miss him, I can’t help but think about each of his TEN children…my siblings…and I feel a sense of celebration that so many of his character traits are still here and LIVING LARGE!

Rose Ann – My Dad had a certain sense of wisdom. He was a methodical, probing, thinker. While my Dad was a talker once you got him going, he was often quiet and observed what was going on around him. Since Dad’s passing, there have been a few troubling situations I have wrestled with and Rose Ann provides the calm, thoughtful wisdom I would often get from my Dad. I love Rose Ann for this!

Cristy – My Dad was fiercely loyal. We were his family, his responsibility, his people! Cristy is my sibling that will keep us all together and loyal to each other. When I do something stupid…I can count on Cristy to point it out, knowing she will accept and love me anyway. Cristy loves to take care of her family just like my Dad did. I love Cristy for this!

Dave – My big brother! Many identify Don as the sensitive brother, but perhaps because Dave was my big brother and present for all my little girl, emotional hurt feelings, he is MY sensitive brother. He would pick on me, make me cry but would also try to console me once the tears started flowing. Even as an adult, when hard life things happen, Dave is still a place to go to find a compassionate, tender ear for a crying little sister. I love Dave for this!

Danny – When we were younger, I often made it my personal quest to aggravate the beejeebers out of Danny. He was my brother that was just older than me and I was the quintessential little sister. Much like the joy I felt when I would drive Dad to that aggravated state of shaking his head with exasperation, I loved pushing Danny to his limits. Danny has the place of honor of enduring more than his share of little sister torture. I love Danny for this!

Mike – Much like the connection I felt with my Dad, Mike is my brother that I have always had an easy relationship with. I like being around him. There is a comfort I feel when spending time with him. I assume there are specific personality traits, but through Mike I get to preserve that intangible feeling of connection I had with my Dad. I love Mike for this!

Deanne – My Dad was always one to hold firm to the convictions he had. I always admired his strength of character in not allowing what others would think of him to dictate his expression of what he believed. Deanne is my sister who carries on this legacy. She is bold and brave. I love Deanne for this!

Dennis – My Dad loved to debate. Not everyone loved to debate with my Dad, but he was always up for a good “argument”. Dennis is my brother that I can discuss even the most difficult topics with. He will talk with me when we have views that are polar opposite. Sometimes the debates are just for the fun of verbal play and other times they are on matters of deep personal issues. I love Dennis for this!

Don – My Dad loved being a protector of women. It’s possible he spoiled his daughters – I think the boys would unanimously agree. He helped each of us develop into strong independent women. He allowed us to be opinionated, speak our minds, and be assertive to our needs. I never felt Dad was threatened by the intensity of the women in his life. Don shares this trait, and as sisters, we have sometimes exploited it. We often made a game of asking Don to do things for us and would giggle as he would comply. However, Don has never been threatened by the strong women in his life. This is a type of strength many men don’t fully understand. I love Don for this!

Melissa – Melissa is the other Daddy’s girl in the family. She is my sister that “GETS” how I feel about my Dad. It is not necessary to explain it to her. In much the same way, it is most difficult to find words to describe the connection to my Dad I feel because of Melissa. It is as intangible as the “Daddy’s Girl” feelings I have for my Dad. Perhaps, there is comfort in knowing she misses him in much the same way I do. As someone who always has words…LOTS of words… to express my feelings, these very words that have always been my friend have been woefully inadequate in expressing my feelings of loss. I take comfort in knowing Melissa knows how I feel without the pressure of articulating it. I love Melissa for this!

So, as two years have passed, I feel more like celebrating than grieving. I feel more like remembering all Dad gave to me during the time he was here. I feel more like expressing joy for the thousands and thousands of good memories. I feel more like honoring his efforts by living my life to the fullest. I feel more like shouting my gratitude to the heavens that while I miss him, so much of him remains in the lives of each of his children. From the bottom of my heart….I Love you Dad. I will live, I will laugh, I will celebrate until we meet again!

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RACE DAY – IMNC Beach 2 Battlship

 

 

Ironman NC: Beach 2 Battleship 8:28:47

SWIM – 2.4 miles 57:39   BIKE – 56 miles 2:58:49   RUN – 26.2 4:17:19

Division Rank 5/73 – Gender Rank 49/349 – Overall Rank 256/1185

It doesn’t have to be pretty you just have to embrace the day and suffer well.

It helps when you know a PR is waiting for you at the finish line.  I have struggled on how to even begin describing this experience.

Woke up before my alarm at 4:15. Not really overly nervous but I did have a hard time getting my entire breakfast down.  I ate as much as I could, foam rolled, double checked I had everything then out the door to T1 to put fuel on my bike, pump my tires, and put last minute items in my Swim/Bike gear bag.  Happy to find my clothes inside the bag were still dry even with the rain during the night. Once that work was done I started feeling pretty nervous.  I was so happy to have a few other people to chat with while we waited to load the buses to the Swim Start.  The volunteers in T1 were amazing, happy and energetic even in the very windy and cold pre-dawn hours.  I’m always so grateful for the volunteers.  I felt my most nervous riding the bus to the swim start.  YIKES!  Had to keep reminding myself I was prepared.  It wasn’t until I got to the swim start that I realized I had made a mistake with my Run Special Needs bag.  I had understood from the race information that this was to be dropped off at the swim start.  Instead it was supposed to have been dropped off back at T1.  My stomach dropped as I had some of the food I would need at the end of the marathon in this bag.  Jeff had ridden a bike down to the start and agreed to ride the 2.5 miles back to T1 to drop mine and Nicole’s bags off.  I knew he would get the bags to T1, but I was really worried he wouldn’t make it back for the race start.  It was finally time to get my wetsuit on and Jeff still wasn’t back yet.  To say I was relieved when I saw Jeff would be a complete understatement.  First tears of the morning – gratitude, relief, comfort, release of nervous tension – not sure the complete list of emotions I felt but the outward presentation was tears.  I was just finishing this last giant hug from Jeff when we were instructed to head to the water.  Long, cold, sandy walk down to the beach.  National Anthem then Nicole and I got in the water for a quick warm up. These two pictures crack me up….It’s all fun and games until the cannon goes off!

It seemed like 2 minutes later the cannon went off.  We hopped out of the warm up area and headed for the Starting Chute.   Here we GO!

2.4 Mile SWIM

This was the biggest starting group I have ever raced with. All my other races have been wave starts which means I am in the water with women my age.  I have a fairly big personal bubble and I knew this would not be respected.  I was as prepared as I knew how to be but was a little surprised at just how aggressive many of the men swim.  I had prepared myself to just focus on the process of swimming and make sure I sighted often.  I was pleasantly surprised at how little ground I was willing to give up to the chaos around me.  I tried to just own the space I was in.  There was an outgoing tide at the beginning of the race and I had been told by the local Slowtwitch guys to stay out of the very center of the channel until I passed the Half Iron start (about a mile into the swim).  I tried to do this and was surprised at how quickly the Half Start showed up on my right.  At this point I started swimming at a slight angle to get into the center of the channel and hopefully benefit from the incoming tide.  I got to the turn bouy that took us into the final stretch of the swim and was still feeling very relaxed and just in my zone.  It was still congested by far better than for the first half of the swim.  When I had about 200 yards to go – a straight shot to the marina ladders – a guy cut me off as he was swimming at a diagonal.  It was the one time I really had to stop swimming so I could stay on course.  I only stopped long enough for his upper body to be clear and then swam over his legs.  I wasn’t trying to be rude and I’m sure I didn’t slow him down as my body barely grazed his legs but I think it really aggravated him.  He straightened out and the next thing I knew I had a hard elbow to my jaw.  I’m not positive he did it deliberately, but the look on his face seemed pretty mad.  We made eye contact for just a moment and I decided I would just speed up and clear the space between us.  I can’t lie, it was a little satisfying to be able to pull out of his reach so quickly.  If he deliberately tagged me, I hope that hurt his pride a little, okay maybe a lot.

I got to the marina ladders feeling really good. I often get leg cramps in long swims but my legs felt wonderful.  I took my first two steps up the ladder and felt both legs start to Charlie horse.  I had a little Uh Oh moment because it renders me unable to move.  I got one foot up on the deck – luckily a volunteer had grabbed my hand.  I looked at her and immediately apologized and told her I was having a full Charlie horse in both calves and I couldn’t move.  I didn’t quite have the leverage to stand up right so there the two of us sat with my unworking legs and feet in what felt like a permanent squat until my Charlie horse relaxed.  I’m sure glad she held on and I’m sure she was glad we didn’t both fall back into the water.  THANK YOU VOLUNTEERS!  After what felt like an eternity, my calves and feet relaxed and off I went.  SOOOO happy for wetsuit strippers!  Pretty sure I would have cramped up again if I had to remove the legs of my wetsuit by myself.

T1

It is a long cold run from the marina to the transition area. Good thing I had so many fans to wave to 🙂 Grabbed my bag, headed to the changing tent, I was feeling very happy that my legs felt fine.  The volunteers were so happy and helpful.  I dumped my gear and started the process of trying to dry off and get spandex clothes on a partially wet body.  One of the volunteers offered to help.  I’m sure it felt like dressing a toddler who would prefer to be naked.  I was not really standing still as she was trying to get my Tri Top unraveled and pulled down.  Such patient volunteers.  At some point Nicole ran into the changing tent.  It was fun to see her but then I felt a little pressure.   She is SO fast in transition. She mentioned later that I didn’t even say hi.  In my head I was thinking “Be fast like Nicole, Be fast like Nicole”.  I had a fast for me transition time, especially considering all the running that this transition set up required.  Finally dressed and heading out on the bike, only forgot Chamios Crème – OOPS super glad I had a very good bike fit (Thanks Mike @ Podium Multi Sport) as this turned out to be no big deal.  I did know I had an extra packet of crème in my bento box in case I needed it, but decided to ride as long as I could before I got uncomfortable.  Happy to report I stayed comfortable the whole ride.

BIKE

The bike was WINDY and CROWDED! I was thankful I had a pretty good swim as it allowed me to get out before it was crazy congested.  My plan was to ride my power at the upper end of my Ironman Effort (what I would ride for the full 112 miles).  I was very proud of myself for sticking to this plan.  The wind was pretty unforgiving (40 miles of headwinds or heavy crosswinds) but I was able to just settle in and relax for the parts with the headwind.  The crosswinds were a little more challenging as they were on the main hwy and were a little more difficult to just settle into as they feel more unpredictable.  The traffic moving fast in the other lane added an element of difficulty as the gust of wind created by the cars would counter the crosswind and made it feel a bit like a mini tornado.

I had told myself I wouldn’t race the bike and would stick to MY plan. Most of the chatter pre-race was that athletes were planning on attacking the bike as it was a shortened distance.  I was prepared to get passed while I just stuck to my plan.  However, a fun thing for me on the bike was the one and only girl in my age group I ever saw.  She would pass me and I could tell she was working very hard to make this happen.  She often chose inclines to do this…I was deliberately not attacking the inclines so her perception might have been this was my weakness.   She would clear my bike and immediately relax as she was pooped from the little climb.  It made me chuckle as I would just carry on with the same effort at the top of the hill and would pass her.  She must have done this to me 10 times.  When we finally made the turn for the last 16 miles, I slowed for water at an aid station and refilled the last of my fuel into my speedfil.  Right as I finished this, she came sprinting past me.  She really seemed to be working hard this time.  We were close enough to the end that my “green monster” (as Nicole calls it), got the better of me and I wanted her to understand that, for this ride, she was in my house.  I dropped down some gears and flew past her.  THAT WAS SATISFYING!  I kept going at this harder effort for a little while to try and make clear my message.  I think it worked!

T2

This was the only part of the race course that I really didn’t like. We dismounted on a downhill…which I’m never a fan of, and then immediately had to run our bikes along a dirt/gravel road.  IM had put down carpet but just a single strip that was maybe 4 feet wide.  I thought they should have invested in at least two strips wide.  I had my bike on one side trying to keep it on the carpet and still keep my feet on the other edge of that same strip.  Not a game changer, just something simple I think they should have considered.  The volunteers in T2 were amazing as they were everywhere else.  As I was leaving T2 I stopped at the port a potty.  I was in a hurry DUH and must not have latched my door.  Got a surprise as another lady was also in a hurry and was very shocked to find the “open” port a potty was occupied.  We both squawked and moved along.  OOPS!

As I was running out of T2, I was so happy to see my family standing along the route. The first person I saw was my brother Don.  He was flying standby from San Francisco and I had gone to bed before I knew if he was able to make it.  I stopped and gave him a big hug.  He laughed and said “you don’t need to do that”.  Yes I did – Happy dance moment!  I gave everyone else high fives than simultaneously cracked up and felt bad because I know I had wiped snot on my hands during the bike.  I confessed latter on the run and they were less willing to high five me.

RUN – THE MARATHON!!!!

This was my moment of truth. I was confident about the swim and bike and scared of the marathon.  So much unknown territory!  A typical race scenario for me is to get out of the swim early, create a gap on the bike, than lose that ground on the run.  I had been running great off the bike during training but just wasn’t sure if I had figured out the appropriate pace for myself.  I was fearful of running too hard and crawling home.  I was fearful of running too slow and regretting my effort.  Leigh Ann would try to reassure me but this was one area that I had difficulty trusting her confidence.  The shortened race made my pacing strategy a little simpler.  I knew I would be completing another Full Ironman in the future and decided that if I felt good off the bike I would take more risks on the run.  It made it so much easier to be brave and try the paces that were on the faster side.  Very soon into the run, I came upon a girl who seemed to be running close to my pace.  I chatted with her for a minute (out of my character on race day) and for some reason decided to ask her what her pace goals/strategy were for the marathon.  She said her goal was to average 10 minute miles.  She asked about my plan and I told her I was going to continue my walk/run plan but that I wanted to see how long I could maintain my 8:45-9:00 running pace.  It felt good to verbally express that I was trying to be brave and that if I failed I would simply learn from it.  It felt empowering to acknowledge I was okay if I failed.  She decided to try the same thing.  It was really great having a chatting buddy during the first 13 miles.  I could feel myself getting tired and Bridget seemed so strong.  It was motivating and inspiring for me to focus on just matching pace with her.

I think I might have warned Bridget at some point that my humor mirrors that of a 10 year old boy.  At one aid station they had cups of ice.  At Gulf Coast Tri I had dumped a cup of ice down my shorts to try and cool off only to find the ice managed to settle in my crotch.  This was uncomfortable.  I told Leigh Ann about this and as she always has a suggestion on a better way, she recommended dumping the ice down the back of my shirt and my bra and race belt would keep the ice on my back and cool me as it melted.  I tried this…I don’t know how in the world this happens to me, but the blasted ice managed to just slide down my back and still managed to find it’s way in my crotch!  So, I was removing the ice just as Jeff caught these fabulous pictures…Pooping Ice!

It didn’t seem to take too long before we were at 13 miles.  I ran past the special needs area and yelled out my number so they could grab my bag after my turn around loop. I had decided to put the last bit of my running fuel in my bag so I didn’t have to carry it all from the beginning.  As I came back past special needs, the volunteer asked for my number again.  He yelled it out about a dozen times and so did I.  No one could find my bag.  I’m not sure how I felt at the moment.  It wasn’t quite panic, but it was a racing kind of brain…what to do?  what were the risks of not having my food? How long should I look for my bag?  I think because of the mix up in the morning, my bet was on my bag not being there at all and I decided it would be a waste of time to stand around looking for it only to have to move on without it anyway.  So I went on without my food.  I had carried about 16-18 miles worth of food.  I decided to kind of ration the food I had left.  Leigh Ann had recommended taking the coke and chicken broth on the course.  I haven’t done well with solids during the run.  The aid stations had the coke, but no chicken broth that I could ever see.   I can’t remember what mile marker my legs and feet started to really feel crampy, but it was somewhere between 16 and 26.  I do know that at the turn around by the lake I was really trying to figure out my walk run thing.  It was more painful to walk, but I was afraid if I skipped my walk breaks I would hit the infamous wall.  The funniest thing about this, is in hind sight I realize I was smacking repeatedly up against the wall but didn’t realize this might be the wall everyone talks of.  Slow Learner 🙂 I was so scared the wall was going to feel worse than that.  Trust me, it hurt, I was just imagining something much worse.  Think “nearly dead”.

Another point on the run that has me chuckling now…I thought I saw a GU on the ground that looked like it might not be open – maybe the equivalent of a mirage. I had the oddest conversation in my head about whether I should pick it up and eat it.  The conversation took too long and I ran past the GU and it was indeed unopened. Then my conversation turned to whether I had the energy to stop, turn around and pick it up.  I really wish I had gone back for it.  I would have called it my Roadkill GU.   Bummer – missed opportunity.  The funny thing is then during the rest of the run I’m looking carefully at all the GU litter considering if they had GU in them.  It creates a very funny picture in my mind.

During these really hard miles, Nicole came running toward me on her way to the last turn around. She asked if I had time for a hug.  I think we both needed a hug at that moment.  This brief moment did as much for me emotionally has having Bridget run with me during the first 13 miles.  I thought Nicole had gained ground on me, which is typical on race day, so I started focusing on making sure when she caught me I would be able to go with her to the finish.  It actually made those last few miles go by faster.  Before I knew it, I was down to the last 2 miles.  I couldn’t believe that I actually had run so far already.  It wasn’t the prettiest of marathons but I didn’t really care.

The crowds at the end were fantastic. There is a tight U turn right before you go into the finishers shoot.  I could see my mom sitting right there.  I knew the rest of my family was there but I was really kind of in a strange place and couldn’t really hear them.  A little like being in a bubble and everyone and everything sounds all muted.  I did hear the volunteer announce to me “left for second loop straight for the finish”  I felt such a huge rush of pride, relief, happiness knowing it was my turn to the finish.

I started the run in 8th place in my division and ended the run in 8th place.  This alone was a huge accomplishment for me as I have always lost ground on the run.  I might be on my way to becoming a respectable runner 🙂

One of my favorite pictures of the day was this one that Andrew posted to Facebook:

andrew

“I’m not trying to brag or anything, but my mom could definitely beat up your mom. She is about to finish her Ironman. Wow!!!”

He told me later that I didn’t look like I felt that good right then.  He was right.  This was difficult, it hurt, but I never felt like quitting.  It is all worth it knowing that I am an IRONMAMA!

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Taper Like a Boss!

 

My taper started 2 weeks out from race day. I had head many things about what tapering would feel like:

taper

I didn’t really find any of that to be true – well I might have had limited ability to focus, but that’s pretty normal. Leigh Ann had recommended I set time aside to listen to inspiring or happy things, watch happy movies and videos, etc.  I used the extra time taper offered to put together my Happy Playlist and then listened to it on repeat.  I had asked my family to email me either a song or something that helped them push through hard things.  It was so fun to get their responses and so completely motivational.  Jeff might have felt irritated about constantly listening to the same music over and over but he never complained.  I also used the time to create a tattoo design to help me remember the motivation I needed when things would get tough.

imtattoo

One of the things that stuck out to me during my taper was how the “short” workouts of my taper used to be what my long workouts were. It’s amazing how our definition of what’s hard changes as we get stronger.  It was a time of reflecting back on the path I’ve taken to get where I’m at and it was very satisfying to me.  My favorite taper workout was my “8 miles just for fun”.  Nicole and I were able to coordinate our schedules to run together.   We chose to run from the Y and go out 4 miles to the fire station and back.  It was fun to reminisce the days when making it ALL THE WAY to the fire station was a monumental achievement.  We were surprised by a race course set up on our route that morning.  What a happy fun day!

I loved my taper as it gave me time to just enjoy my workouts and be sillier than I had been during my big builds. Pretty soon, it was time to start packing for the race.

Tuesday evening before race day, I was partially packed for a Wednesday morning departure and Ironman made the announcement that the bike course would be shortened as a result of the road damage caused by Hurricane Matthew.  My initial reaction was disappointment and I scrambled to see if I could find an alternative so I would be able to complete the full 140.6 miles.  I sent a few emails, did some Google searching, checked in with Leigh Ann about what adjustments were reasonable for my training, checked with Jeff about the lost expenses and potential added expense, checked with family members that I knew had non-refundable plans and in a few hours had decided that my best course of action was to continue as planned with Ironman NC.

Some of that decision came down to the way my view of race day had evolved through out my training. My training mantra had been “BUILD IRON”!  That mantra got me happily through many tough workouts.  I wanted to be prepared for the day of racing and I wanted to know I had done everything within my control to be as prepared as possible.  I’m not sure exactly when my mindset shifted to viewing October 22 as a day to celebrate what I had BECOME rather than a day that would DETERMINE what I was made of.  In a strange way I was grateful for this curveball as it reinforced to me that I didn’t need a specific race to tell me I was an Ironmama….I knew I had already built enough IRON and I was ready.

buildiron

So we finished loading the car and left for Wilmington Wednesday morning. I almost forget to load my bike – that would have been a doozy of a mistake.  In spite of the almost forgotten bike, I was uncharacteristically calm during this entire trip.  At one point I wondered aloud if there was something wrong because I wasn’t a basket of nerves.  Jeff laughed and I imagine he was thinking, “This girl is a nut job – worried if she’s stressed too much and worried if she’s not stressed enough”. It helped me embrace this new, but very foreign, zen version of myself.

The next 3 days were spent with Athlete Check in, Athlete Meetings, Practice swims, Calibration Bike/Run, Lunch with Jeff’s parents, Team Dinner, Checking and double checking gear, Gear Check in, Naps and shopping.

Just a few of the pictures!

It was finally Friday night – Bedtime @ 9:00pm – Alarm set for 4:15am

The Hay was in the Barn!

 

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No Pictures – You’re Welcome

My IQ and my level of discretion fluctuate wildly during my long workouts.  Nicole is the lucky recipient of several hysterical conversations that  resemble those of 10 year old boys and all their unsavory bathroom humor.  Fortunately for those around me, after a quick recovery drink and a little rest my ability to use discretion and my IQ find a socially acceptable level of equilibrium.

Unfortunately for some of you, there are a few stories that my typical level of discretion and IQ are not fit to compete against.  Enter….

THE BATHROOM SITUATION

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE for the love of all that’s proper and polite PLEASE stop reading NOW if you are:

  1. very mature and find 10 year old boy humor revolting
  2. someone who finds the habits of triathletes, runners, and other endurance athletes revolting
  3. someone who still believes women don’t fart or poop
  4. Jeff
 DISCLAIMER:  You have been warned! I can’t be held responsible for your obvious lack of good judgment.

So…..The bathroom situation has some back story.  I don’t like public restrooms.  I have strategies, even proper protocol, for living in a world full of public restrooms.

  1. Don’t touch ANYTHING!
  2. Unless the toilet has an auto flushing mechanism…ALWAYS flush with your foot
  3. If wearing flip flops, squeeze your toes tightly before flushing the toilet with your foot (and flip flop)
  4. If you find yourself in a situation where you have to touch something in a public restroom (facets, doors that have to be pulled from inside the bathroom, toilet seats) make sure you have something sanitary between yourself and said icky item.
  5. It is always better to hover then to line a toilet seat and sit.

AND….just a bit more back story:

A few years ago I was running a half marathon and found myself behind a woman who had apparently had some intestinal trouble all over her shorts. It was gross and unpleasant and I very quickly passed her and thought to myself, (insert judgmental tone)

 “No race will EVER be so important that I would poop my pants”. 

I’ve had many conversations with people since that day about the intestinal trouble running long can create. I have experienced unsettling issues in my own stomach and have diligently planned and worked through what works in my stomach and what does not.  Never in all that time of trial and error with my nutrition have I found myself with an intestinal emergency.

So…finally…THE BATHROOM SITUATION!  Last chance to stop reading.

September 10th arrived. I had a 2:20 long run with building effort.  It was hot but I had my nutrition strategy locked down.  My stomach felt a little queasy at breakfast but I sometimes feel a nervous before long key workouts.  My run begins…I think I’m fine.  The route I chose was a simple out and back on Brawley.  I made it “out” just fine.  On the way back, I’m not feeling very good.  I often suffer from mental weakness so I start to employ my mental strategies to push through this workout.

Step one – check your nutrition. I’m spot on.

Step two – don’t let your brain tell your body it can’t. Brain SHUT UP

I make it somewhere between mile 11 and 12 before I realize my body is trying to tell my brain some serious stuff! Primarily that I need a bathroom URGENTLY.  My brain is telling my body it better figure out how to NOT need that bathroom right away as the nearest restroom is still a short distance away.  I am squeezing all I can squeeze – Oh My Goodness please be strong!  I’m a rock star and make it to McDonalds.  I transform from rock star to disaster in about 2.5 seconds.  There is no time to apply public restroom protocol and I sit directly on the toilet seat.  It’s unpleasant but my insides are trying to escape.  Then, to my horror I hear the bathroom door open and some poor, unsuspecting McDonald’s patron has entered the public restroom from hell.

I realize I don’t know what the appropriate protocol is in this situation:

Do I scream at her to run away while she can?

Do I groan so she knows the conditions of this bathroom are justified by my suffering?

Do I suffer in silence and hope she does the same?

I think she decided she didn’t need to use the bathroom after all and would wait until she was home in the solitude of her private restroom. Good decision making right there.

I finally reach a point where my intestines have decided that “Today I can live”. I reach around for toilet paper, anxious to have this SITUATION flushed down the toilet.  The toilet paper roll is the spare roll that is in a very awkward position (too far back) for retrieving toilet paper under normal circumstances.  This is not a normal circumstance and I find myself in a new predicament as I attempt to get some useable toilet paper.  As I’m pulling the very cheap, very thin public restroom toilet paper toward me I find the slight breeze in the bathroom matched with the flimsiness of the TP has the TP touching my skin before I can get any significant amount of paper in my hands.  I have sweat drenched toilet paper sticking to my pony tail, shoulders, my arms and my legs.  I finally get enough dry paper for my needs, peel the sweaty sticky toilet paper off my pony tail, shoulders, arms and shamefully walk out of that bathroom.

I’m pleased to say that I still think no race is worth pooping your pants over but have a better understanding of just how someone may find themselves in such a horrible situation.

As I said…No pictures…You’re Welcome!

 

 

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Where I come from…..FAMILY

This is where I come from…This big, opinionated, loud, funny, and boisterous family.    I have spent a lot of time during my Ironman training thinking about my family.  Growing up in a big family was both fun and chaotic.   It was not just the size of my family but the personality of my family that made it seem even bigger than just a family with 10 kids.

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This family of mine…we are all adults now and live all over the country, and yet, we still find things we need to fuss at each other about…The best way to handle religion, politics, child rearing, social issues, education, etc. etc. etc. Pretty much each of us believes we have the right answer to all the world’s problems. I have a sister in law who once said to me at one of our family gatherings, “Don’t you think it’s interesting that there are 10 people who are 100% certain they are correct, yet there are 10 different points of view?”  I thought that was both genius and 100% correct.  Because of this family of mine, I have learned how to more effectively express my opinion.  I have also learned to embrace the challenges that stating my opinion might invite.   Because of this family of mine, I know which of my values or opinions are on a solid foundation and which I might want to reconsider.  I don’t agree with everyone in my family all of the time…but because of them I know how to love people even when we disagree.   I’m a better person for that.

This family of mine…knows how to play, and play HARD. There is really nothing lukewarm about my family.  We are an “all in” kind of family.  Several years ago Jeff and I were planning a trip home for Christmas.  At the time, my boys were very interested in paintball and so were my brothers and most of my sisters.  Perfect…a huge family game of paintball was organized.  Andrew, my oldest, thought it was a good idea to trash talk Dennis- one of my brothers.  Of course, Dennis did as my family will do and trash talked back. The two of them now had verbal plans to dominate the other in this epic game of Christmas paintball.  As Andrew’s mother, I was a little nervous as I wasn’t sure Andrew realized that when Dennis made plans to annihilate him it was not just a “big talk little action” sort of trash talk.  Andrew should be prepared for some paintball pain. There is no such thing as taking it easy on someone at my house.  If you’re in the game…you better be all in. My ironman training has reminded me where this ALL IN…PLAY HARD attitude has come from.  Feeling grateful for that family education.

This family of mine…we fight with each other but when things are hard…It’s my family that has my back! Early in my ironman training I had a particularly heart wrenching family crisis. My family was there immediately buoying me up.  I knew I could allow myself to be fragile for a bit because they would be strong for me and protect me.  It was right in the middle of this crisis that I found myself on a run.  It was so windy and I felt like I was getting hit from all sides by this wind.  It was hard to put one foot in front of the other. I needed this run to help sooth my achiness and I desperately needed some endorphins to kick in.  All of a sudden, I ran through a stretch of road with tall buildings that blocked all the wind.  I immediately thought of my family and how much protection I feel from them.  I could do this hard thing because I knew I could count on them.  I started thinking about how strong each member of my family is.  They have all done their own hard things.  They are amazing.  They are strong.  Their strength makes me stronger.

This family of mine….can be brutally honest. My first year of college, I put on about 30lbs.  When I got off the airplane at Christmas, my little brother, Donny, put his arms around my waist for my welcome home hug and announced…”Wow, you got fat!” and Donny was the sweet brother.  Ouch and reality check.  No more late night brownie and ice cream binges for me.   I know how each member of my family is feeling about me at any given time.  Sometimes this is hard to swallow.  BUT…when they tell me they think I’ll be amazing on Ironman day…I believe them.  When they say they think I’m strong…I believe them.  Their words of affirmation are genuine…they are not just trying to be polite.  Their confidence in me helps me believe in myself when the doubt creeps in.

This family of mine…is funny. I asked my family to send me songs that I could put on my playlist to help motivate me.  Because they all live so far away, very few of them will be there to celebrate my day with me.  I thought this would be a way to have my family with me in spirit.  My mom’s first song choice was “I would walk 500 miles”…you know…

“If I get drunk,  I want to be the man who gets drunk next to you…and I would walk 500 hundred miles and I would walk 500 hundred more…” 

After sending the song choice she quickly replied and told me “oh nevermind…I didn’t even realize what that song was about…it won’t work”.  Guess what?  I have that song on my play list and every time I hear it I laugh at how much my mom would want to be the man for me.   When I need to smile on race day I will be thinking of my family.

This family of mine…is fearless!  I did not inherit this sense of fearless abandon.  I can make a pretty solid case that I am wise and sensible and cautious.  I also think I could make a good case at why being cautious is a characteristic that is valuable.  However, I am envious of their fearlessness.  Several years ago we all got together for my little brother’s wedding.  We decided to go surfing (a new activity to most of us).  After a glorious time at the surf shop squeezing into our wetsuits, off we scampered to the beach.  This was the California coastline which meant big waves.  I made a good effort at not drowning only to find my siblings WAY out tackling the big daddy waves.  They never doubted they would practically be professional surfers within a day.  Another time, I went snow skiing with my brothers.  It was the first time on the slopes for me and I doubt my brothers had gone very often before.  I headed to the bunny slopes.  My brothers headed to the Black diamond slopes.  They didn’t die, but, if memory serves, did have some spectacular crashes.  If they can think it…they are sure they can do it.  I love this about them.  When I hit those moments on race day when my natural caution encourages me to imagine I can’t do this…I will think of my family and be fearless!

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This family of mine won’t all be in Wilmington on race day.  But I carry so many pieces of them with me.   I will remember where I come from and what I’m made of.  Thinking that’s going to be IRON!  October 22 is just around the corner.  WOOT WOOT!

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Crisis Of Faith

A few years back, I rode in the Charlotte Motor Speedway Time Trial series. After one of the rides Coach Sarah looked at my workout graph and referenced the “crisis of faith” I had on lap 5 of 7.  I was a little puzzled, and surprised, that she could identify this crisis from a quick look at my graph.  I wasn’t even aware I was having a crisis at all.

In case this phrase is a little fuzzy…allow me to paint a picture. My apologies if you want to poke your mind’s eye out after reading this.

Crisis of Faith: That moment when you are trying to remove a sweaty sports bra and find yourself in the vice grip of the super strength material used to make the “High impact” variety effective.  All at once, as if by some dark magic, your arms are above your head, bra wrapped like a tourniquet around your shoulders and neck.  Your arms are about as useful as the tiny arms of a Tyrannosaurus Rex and you fear you will be found in this predicament by the unfortunate member of your family who will be arriving home next.  Motivated by the traumatic impact this might have on said family member, you summon all your Houdini powers and manage to make one last ditch effort to free yourself of your captor.

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As I have been making my way through my Iron Journey the term crisis of faith has become a fairly regular part of my vernacular. I’ve had more than I can count and they have come in so many variations it would be cumbersome to list them all.  However, they are common in pattern – at least for me:

  1. Set out to conquer or achieve something hard – big dreams, big setbacks, big obstacles
  2. The hard thing starts to feel impossible – you’re tired, overwhelmed, the end is so far away
  3. Doubt sets in -Negative Nancy gets chatty She’s a real BiAtch, you’re tempted to forfeit your dream, aim lower, give up

Boom – you have a crisis of faith on your hands.

I’ve learned it’s what you choose to do in those small moments of crisis that determine the outcome. The crisis ends either way…it ends when you give in and let up.   It also ends, eventually, if you decide to push forward.   I’ve learned that regret is more painful than whatever is causing the crisis to begin with.  Likewise, the feeling of satisfaction from pushing through and fighting leaves you feeling like a very tired superstar.  As a bonus you get the added strength that’s earned from resisting the urge to give in to the crisis and find an easier path.

Early in my training with Leigh Ann, she had me perform a 5 minute power test on my bike. The goal is to ride as hard as you can sustain for 5 minutes.  This particular workout was such a huge learning experience for me. I reflect back on it regularly during hard training days as it taught me how often my brain creates limits of what my body is actually capable of doing.  I was at a place in my training where I wasn’t really sure what power numbers to shoot for.  My training peak notes from that day always make me smile as it was such a visceral lesson for me.

“I had no idea what target I should shoot for during the 5 minutes so I had thought in my head that 250 might be reasonable. I used the 5 minute build trying to figure out what 250 would feel like and what gear/cadence combo would be best.   When the 5 minutes started, I was a little surprised that my power was around 280 and it didn’t feel horrible.  So I tried to decide really quick if I could hold that.  I decided it was only 5 minutes and I’d rather shoot high than be disappointed that I hadn’t tried hard enough.”

I LOVE that I made a decision to “shoot high”. Be fearless!  However, in these brave moments it doesn’t take the brain long to start trying to pull you back to safer ground.   Enter….Crisis of Faith!

“After a few minutes I really started doubting myself and thought I had made a terrible mistake because this felt really hard and maybe 250 is what I should have started at. I think at that time my average was around 275.  So to salvage it I thought maybe if I lowered my cadence I could still hang onto something close to 260.  As I was adjusting gears and trying to figure this out I had the thought that I was being dumb and why not just try to hang on to 275.  I had to remind myself that it is supposed to feel this hard and I could probably work this hard for another couple of minutes.  So I dug in and held on the best I could. “

My take away from that particular workout:

  1. My actual physical limit was 272 watts for 5 minutes not the 250 watts my brain told me I could hold. To me that’s a significant gap.
  2. Once past the crisis…the work is still hard and often painful. Deciding to push doesn’t mean the work gets easier, it simply means I was willing to embrace the struggle.
  3. I felt like a super star!

My favorite part of Leigh Ann’s post workout notes:

“Dare to Fail”

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“People our Age…” IM 20 weeks and counting

A few weeks ago I had a workout labeled “Fun Friday”.  It was a series of hilly bike loops separated by a little track work on the Davidson College track.  I set up a tiny little transition area on the track and was a little surprised when the nostalgia hit.  I was momentarily reintroduced to that young athlete from so many years ago.  During the first and second round of track work I was feeling young, strong and pretty awesome.  It’s possible my ego was inflating just a bit.  What a Fun Friday!

After finishing my 3rd set of attacking hills on the bike, my track work was starting to feel hard.  My legs felt heavy, my focus was tested, the track somehow got bigger, the weather was hotter, I’m sure I looked as rough as I felt and Fun Friday wasn’t feeling quite so fun.  I finished my 3rd set of track work, transitioned back into my bike gear, and started a dialogue with myself about finishing one more loop of hill attacks….I can do this, this will make me strong…the very familiar pep talk I use to get through a hard workout.  My internal dialogue was interrupted by a man who had been doing track work for the entire time I had been completing my “Fun Friday”.  I couldn’t tell you anything he said initially because I was still partly discussing the remainder of my workout with myself.  It wasn’t until his sentence included:

 “You know, people our age”

OKAY – now he had my full attention.  I chuckled and asked him how old he was.

“I’m 68!” 

I wasn’t quite sure how to respond.  My internal dialogue shifted gears immediately.  He was more fit than many 30 year olds I know so shouldn’t I be flattered?  Not exactly how I was feeling.  He had no discernable body fat, he was fast, strong, impressive, okay maybe he meant – ”You know… people like us”

He had a head of grey hair – wasn’t it obvious I was much younger? Okay, I have a head full of grey hair.   He was completely undeterred when I made sure he knew I was 48…a mere 20 YEARS YOUNGER THAN HIM!  Pretty sure I wasn’t people his age.  He just carried on as if I hadn’t spoken.   He told me how he was training for Nationals and then gave me a pep talk about getting all my workouts in and working hard on each one.  I got on my bike super impressed with him but also laughing about his obvious endorphin overload.  Jeff would call him a “Fitness Freak” (his term of endearment for people like us)

I have laughed about the age portion of this conversation several times since that day.  I haven’t thought much about the rest of the conversation except to smile at how happy and motivated this man was.

 ”When I am really his age, I hope to be that awesome.”

Thursday of this past week, I had my bag packed to get to the pool.  I had planned my day perfectly to fit in all I needed to get done…my swim was part of that plan…the lightning storm that closed the pool was not part of my plan.  Later in the evening, about the time “People my age” should be thinking of going to bed, I was back inside my head with my dialogue about whether I should go to the pool or not.  The pool was now inconvenient and I felt justified in just staying home.  How much damage will missing one swim do? Rest is important too.  Guess who interrupted my internal dialogue again?  This time I heard the end of his conversation:

“It’s a great feeling to get to the start line of your race knowing you have done all your work!  Don’t have regrets because you didn’t complete a workout because it felt hard or was inconvenient!  Get to that start line with the confidence you prepared the best you can!  That’s when your race is your best!”

Okay….”People our age” grab our swim gear and head to the pool.  Guess who else was at the pool?  The fast, fit, swim like little fish high school kids who had to postpone their swim practice because of the lightening.

Fitness Freaks!

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