Friday, December 31, 2010

Resolutions ... or really, better said: Goals

Greetings my friends!  It is New Year's Eve day and I am relaxing on my couch after having a wonderful night's sleep and some good workout time on Trudy, my treadmill.  After showering and decompressing, I'm thinking of lots of things.

I've never been big on New Year's Resolutions ... just seems like they fizzle for me. My successful changes have happened when I FEEL the need to change them - like my cereal debacle! I became SO disgusted, I pledged to eliminate it from my diet and so far, so good!

My goals for 2011 are to be a better mother and wife - a constant struggle, as many of you may relate to. I am very egocentric at times, and I would like to do better with that. I love my family, so supporting them and meeting their emotional needs is very important. I think I do about a "C' job right now, and there is room to be a solid "B" or better.

I've been struggling with my workouts. I don't feel as exited to do them as I have in the past.  However, when I do begin them, that adrenalin rush kicks in and I feel like "why have I been resisting this so much- I love it!!"   I'm probably just in a lull.  Don't start chiming in that I'm over-trained, because I'm not!!

A BIG goal I'm going to tackle is to eliminate sweets.  Now, many of you are under the (flawed) impression that diabetics can't have sweets. We can, we must just be sure to cover with the appropriate amount of insulin.   But, I've outdone myself of late and feel pretty disgusted with my indulgences. I feel like I am ready to tackle this.  I'm not saying forever ... but I think I can try to do this until I hit IMSG in May.  I'm going to really try!  If I slip, or cheat, I'll call myself out, throw myself under the bus, then pick myself up from the floor and try again. I'm FAR from perfect!  I think this will help me to lose those 15 lbs that have been creeping up since starting insulin.

This is a good segue for my next topic.  I've been without my CGM for 6 or 8 weeks now.  And I've not been testing.  I've got my head buried in the sand.  Denial.  I know I've been eating bad and this is not the way a responsible, pro-active diabetic behaves. I'm supposed to be a role model!!  Part of it is financial. I pay full price for my transmitters, which amounts to $10 a day.  Well, with Christmas, Felicity, and the duplicate Mortgage debacle (see FB posts for that story), I've been tight, so I've gone without.  No more.  I took on another job (making ... 5 now!) and my house call practice is picking up steam, so I'm in a better place to get a box of sensors.  They arrived yesterday - I knew I'd be eating cake for Ted's birthday, so it's on now and we'll start with accountability NOW.

I guess the reason for this post is to let you know that we all slip, we all fail, we all make poor choices once in a while. But, we can recover from them most of the time and start anew.  So, it's coincidence that tomorrow is Jan. 1 - I need this to happen, and the date is irrelevant.

My last goal is to tackle running with grades (elevation) and cycling more regularly in preparation for IMSG.  This race is scary as snot to me!!  I'm worried about the altitude and the hills ... but, I do fell confident I can finish - I will finish.  And I don't much care about my time for that one - if I complete it, I've succeeded!

Finally, I've signed up for Sept. 11 Rev3 full again! I'm VERY stoked to do this race again. I will be aiming to go sub 14 for the race and look forward to training with local peeps all summer.  It's the first time I'll be working toward ONE key race, with relatively ambitious goals.  I want 13 hrs for that race! Then I'll shoot for 12.  I totally think it's something I'm capable of!!  I've never raced at 100% effort, nor trained for ONE key race.  I do enjoy the local Olys, so you'll still see me there, but my approach will be a bit different this year.  That's not to say I have any regrets about last year's approach, because I DON"T!  I succeed in reaching all my goals and came out injury free!! There were only 4 weekends between April and Oct. that I didn't race!  The fact that I'm without injury tell me I'm doing something right.   I always panic when I read all the workouts everyone else is doing ... I feel like I'm doing a fraction of that!  But in honesty, I don't have the time to train that much - my jobs keep me pretty dang busy and even though I often get up at 5 to do a workout, it can be challenging to get in as much as I'd like with 5 jobs!  I'm aware that each of us has to try to find that balance of family, self, career, education, vacation, kids' activities, etc, etc.   Most of us are type A personalities and figure it out remarkably well! I'm in awe of so many of you!!!

Okay, looking forward to seeing you, my peeps, at tomorrow's Polar Bear Plunge then heading to Panini for some food afterward. I will have the fam with me this year. Feel free to join us - either at the plunge (as spectator or crazy participant) and/or Panini!

Peace out, and Happy New Year!!
Hugs and OXOX,

Saturday, December 25, 2010

2010: A Year In Review

If a year could be bipolar2010 would be that year.  For those of you that know me best, you know that this year was one of the most difficult and challenging years I've ever had, as well as holding some of the best, proudest moments of my life.  Somehow I can barely believe that all of this happened within 365 days.

Personally, there were about 4 months that quite literally brought me to my knees. The lowest of the low. Despair. I lost a dear friend to cancer, and Ted and I hit a wall. During those bleakest months, I am so grateful for the people that came into my life, and friends that stepped up to support me at a time when I didn't know if I could go on.  I feel so very blessed to have the support group of friends that I do - some new, some I've known for ages, some are literally "cyber-friends", who, even though we've not met IRL, I consider to be truly dear friends. Those people include: Katie, Elizabeth, Beth, Page, Joan, Kitty, Tom,Trent and Nikki, Wendie, Julie, Ben, Todd, Kim, Jen, Janet, Sara, Sarah, Andrea, Jenny, Vic, John, Peter, Michael, Jean, Michelle, Jon, Jodi, Veronica, Kristie, Christie, Trish, Diana, Mike, Herbee, Dennis, Susan, Paula, Laura, Dan and Kathleen.  I'm sure I left someone out ... and I worked on this list over quite some time to be sure to remember everyone! If you've been left off, send me a PM, then kill me - because I am truly grateful for everyone that was supportive during that difficult time! TRULY!

Katie ... Katie was my rock, my savior, and listened to me for HOURS - checked in on me, gave me sage advice, and helped me make some difficult decisions, put things into perspective. For being 25 yrs old, she is wise beyond her years!  She also proved out to be one of the most amazing friends I've been blessed to have in my life.  I've heard that people come into your life for a season, a reason, or a lifetime ... I believe in that, as I've experienced it time and again. Katie is a keeper!! <3

Elizabeth ... I met this cool chick at an indoor triathlon in January, and connected with her right away. I was impressed by her spirit, her huge heart, and her fun nature :)  I talked her into joining CTC that day, and we formed a friendship that I truly cherish! She was a wonderful training friend, confidant, and we got along wonderfully! We have done a few triathlons and runs and rides together, and I find her to be a perfect roommate! I definitely hope to continue to plan doing triathlons with her - it's a ball! From someone that typically goes it solo, I never thought I'd enjoy the company as much as I do!  Liz did her first 70.3 this year and ROCKED IT!! She got 2nd in her AG and I couldn't be more proud!  Fun times, and a great friend when I've needed one. Liz is a "lifetime" friend too!

Losing Sherry Meyers this year was so difficult. She had the most positive spirit and was a wonderful friend to me through many difficult times. I prayed she'd be the one to kick Cancer's ass, but alas, it took her from us in February.  I miss her dearly and think of her often. She was my inspiration during the darkest hours of my first Ironman ... just thinking of how courageous she was, gave me strength to push on. She is an angel in heaven now, and I see so much of her in your lovely daughter Marissa. I keep the Meyers family, Glenn, Christopher, Marissa and Stephen, in my thoughts and prayers, always.

My personal struggles in the spring were a terribly low point in my year, and in my life.  My children were what I tried to focus on, as I just put one foot in front of the other, step by step, day by day. Numb. Thoughts of pulling out of my ironman crossed my mind. There were days I couldn't find the strength to train ... then there were days when the training ... pushing until I was numb ... drowned out the pain.

I was offered the chance to be a Triabetes Captain during the middle of that hurricane ... and I seriously considered passing on the position, even though I wanted it desperately. I feared I would not have the strength, emotionally, to accept the obligations that accompany the position. KT helped me to decide that it would be passing up a chance of a lifetime, and one that likely wouldn't be an opportunity again for me. I chose to accept the position - as scary as that was!  It's been such an amazing experience that I get emotional just thinking that I might have missed out on all of it, had I chosen to pass on the invitation. I've met some AMAZING people that have inspired me to take better care of myself, and to help motivate and inspire others. These people have changed my life. And they live all across America! We are bonded through this experience and I am grateful to have it!  My fundraising commitment was another scary undertaking! But, I was touched, beyond words, at the support that I got from friends, close, and current, and friends from high school and beyond. From former clients, and current clients. From casual acquaintances, and people who share a connection to diabetes.  I thank everyone that has supported me, both financially, and by spreading the word, encouraging me, and hanging in there while I continue to ask for support so I can reach my goal! Not all could handle it!!  I have been de-friended by some who were too irritated by my recurring push to find donors for my charity. I'm okay with that! Representing this charity - Insulindependence - is the single most selfless thing I've done. I believe in them, and their mission. The funds I'm raising aren't for me - not one penny is paying for my Ironman journey, but is going to a young, non-profit charity <span>that will change the lives of many people living with diabetes</span>!  So, if my commitment to raise money for my charity is a deal-breaker for a "friend", well, then that speaks volumes, doesn't it?

This year I signed up for three 70.3 (half ironman) and two ironman distance triathlons. I am happy to report that I was successful in achieving all of those goals! This year, I became an IRONMAN~!!   Truly one of the proudest accomplishments I've ever had!!  I met new friends, got to know some CTC'ers better, and was touched to have a fantastic support group of triathletes, runners, cyclists, swimmers, and athletes of all levels, support me before, during and after my races. I feel so blessed!  I call it Church of the Triathlon because, when I'm racing and training, I have this attitude of gratitude, an my most important "conversations" with God.  I feel so blessed and fortunate to have good health and wonderful experiences, and people, in my life.  When I started all of this - for the second time - after having children, becoming sedentary, obese, depressed and ultimately diabetic - it was December of 2008, when Katie and I decided to train for a half marathon - our first!!  She was my inspiration to commit to it! We both motivated each other, and we tackled that race, and we did it!! It was a wonderful feeling, and it quickly became contagious! I wanted to do more! I wanted to be AMAZING!   That was my mantra for quite some time, when I'd pound out those hard, long miles: I want to be amazing!

In September I did my first Ironman triathlon - and I don't give a rat's ass that some of you may say it's not an IRONMAN  :)  It was 140.6 miles, produced by a fantastic race organizer, Revolution 3, or Rev3.  I'm thrilled that Rev3 was my first IM experience!! Many said to me,"it's just not the same as an Ironman". At the time, I couldn't comment on it, because, well, I hadn't done and IM brand race. Now I have, and, I say bullshit! My Rev3 experience was BETTER than my Ironman brand race!! Truly!  Maybe it just all comes down to it being your FIRST one, but I felt on top of the world as I was coming down that chute, those AMAZING moments when you are about to complete your HUGE journey, not JUST 140.6 miles, but a YEAR of training, planning, dreaming, all leading up to that glorious moment when you are finishing and they are calling your name! cheering you on, friends and family so proud of you - It didn't matter one bit that it was Rev3 or Ironman - it was MY Ironman moment!! And it didn't need to be IM brand to be just as amazing an experience for me. It truly was the fulfillment of a life-long dream.

In November I headed down to Florida for a week of diabetes camp with the other Triabetes captains. Ironically and incidentally, I would be doing IMFL with a buddy from high school, Tom Avellon, who would be flying in from Switzerland to do the race also. I had a wonderful time reconnecting with the other Captains, meeting their triabuddies, and watching my own triabuddy, Rachel, do her first kids' triathlon the day after IMFL.   My IMFL experience was simply amazing and, like all of these races, had me feeling a full spectrum of emotions as I took that journey, another 140.6 miles, plus all the work for the year leading up to the race! It was wonderful having such a huge support group of friends there cheering me on! My race reports are available, and I won't recap them here. All race reports, etc. can be found on my blog, I'm Just Gonna Tri, or over on my Mac website - both of which have links on my FB home page.  However, I do want to share a little epiphany moment I had when I was down in Florida:  One morning, I was running, alone, and reflecting on this year - this tumultuous, exhilarating, wonderful and terrible year.  I thought back to the first steps in this journey, way back to Dec. 2008.  Then I said to myself: "You know what? I am kind of amazing!"  I felt proud, and I know that I'm stronger than I sometimes give myself credit for. I'd been through a difficult time, with some wonderful friends to support me along the way, and I feel like I've learned a lot about myself this year.

Ted has had his own dynamic year, to say the least. Our journeys are paralleled in many ways. After breaking his foot in April, he kind of hit rock bottom himself. After the cast came off, he made some significant personal changes, and turned to golf, much like I turned to triathlon. Ted's golf successes have been very therapeutic, and, frankly, he's becoming quite a good golfer, winning a few tournaments and improving his handicap by a lot! He recently went to Florida to play in a tournament. He was called and told that because his handicap had improved so much, he'd be promoted to a more challenging flight. He played well both days and ended up placing second in the more challenging group! I'm very proud of him, and happy that he's "found his happy" as well.  A wise friend, Cheryl, once told me that we all need to "make our own happy. CHOOSE happy!"  And I believe that!  Ted's happy has returned, and we laugh quite a bit now. I cherish the renewed friendship, and value all of his positive qualities, and accept even the not-so-positive qualities! :)  He's a very wonderful man: smart, fun, funny, and generous. He's a good step-dad to my children. They love him very much!

My kids! Let's see ... Kevin! He's come A LONG WAY!!!  He's been diagnosed with ADHD and we pursued counseling and medication early and aggressively. WHAT A DIFFERENT KID! He's kind, and smart, and a good student! He's really such a wonderful boy! He's doing very well in school, after having a difficult start. His teacher is amazing, and he was fortunate to have the same teacher - totally committed to helping him be the best he can be - for both Kindergarten and 1st grade.  Kevin played flag football this year and seemed to enjoy it a lot.    Samantha is in 6th grade and started at middle school. We all know what a rough time that can be for kids, but she's doing very well, getting straight As and plays trumpet in the band. She, too, played flag football, and was QUITE the superstar on her team!! Touchdown after touchdown, interceptions galore. Their team went all the way to the championships and placed 2nd. Sam took it quite hard, and there were some tears along the way.     Jaime, in 4th grade, is smart beyond belief! She's been recommended for the gifted program, and she's also a straight A student. She's an amazing, sweet girl, and I love to watch her, and all of my kids, grow into the person they will become. I am proud beyond words, and lucky to have such wonderful kids in my life.

I wish I could tell you in all honesty that I'm not a materialistic person, but the TRUTH is: I am! I got three really exciting "things" this year - well, more than just three, but these three stand out! First, I got a Kindle! Ted got it from me for Christmas, and he gave it to me just before I went down to Florida, Oct. 31st.  I LOVE IT! It's allowed me to reconnect with my love for reading.  Secondly, I got a new bike! A carbon triathlon bike, a Felt B16!  I named her Felicity and she joined Esmeralda, my Cannondale road bike. I'm adjusting to her and very excited to try this new bike, after riding a 16 yr old Cannondale for the past 3 yrs.  BTW, Santa brought Felicity some Christmas gifts: a new saddle, a computer and a carbon cage. Felicity will be needing a few other new items, but those will need to wait a bit, as Felicity was a bit of a surprise arrival and financial adjustments had to be made accordingly! :) Finally, I got a Dexcom CGM (continuous glucose monitor).  This is an amazing tool in helping me manage my diabetes. I am a fan!

As the year closes out, my life has found a "good place" ... There has been a lot of hard work, a lot of soul searching, a lot of commitment to changing behavior, attitudes and to looking at things from a different perspective. I'm not sure that I would have chosen this specific course for the year, however, the end result will have been worth it, since it means being in a better place for now, and for the future. This year started out as my 'bucket list' year, and it was so much more than that. If this was the journey that had to be taken to end up with hopes for a wonderful future, well then, it was worth it. My family is stronger. My future looks bright, and I welcome in a smoother 2011, with fewer highs and lows, and hoping for a more steady-state equilibrium.  I look forward to tackling a challenging triathlon - Ironman St. George - in May with my Triabetes teammates.  I look forward to again, tackling the September Rev3 full at Cedar Point, where I plan to improve my course time. Sub 14 hours ... watch for it!  I look forward to many more good times with friends and family. I look forward to my strengthened family, to watching my children figure out who they are, and what they are capable of. I look forward to growing personally and professionally, so that I can feel better about who I am. I'm making progress! :)


Ted & Tiff


Dexcom CGM

Proudest. Moment. Ever. Hands down ... or up, as the case may be!
Kevin Michael

Felicity in the trainer

Tiff and Katie

Samantha Rae

Jaime Michaella

My Triabuddy Rachel
Tiff and Elizabeth

Monday, December 20, 2010

IMFL - Part 2

So, I left off with me getting colder each moment as the sun went down on the run portion.  The run was 2 loops of 13.1 miles.  I first started to feel cold at the 6 mi mark, just as my gut was settled.  As I made the U-turn to head back to town for the first loop, a volunteer held up a pair of arm warmers and said: "someone discarded these armwarmers, anyone want to use them?"  HELLS YEAH!!!!   I swooped them up - they were knit Pearl Izumi - black, to match my kit, and DAMN did it help me out!!!  I felt exponentially warmer just having them on!  I vowed to turn them in to lost and found after the race, but for now, this was my savior.  I typically don't feel cold on my legs.  This was a true gift for me!!

Gotta say my run felt good. I don't recall any real mental lows. As a matter of fact, I get very emotional, spiritual, and embrace the "attitude of gratitude" when I'm in the middle of these long days! Not unlike the loving drunk hugging everyone and saying "I love you, man!", I sport this general mentality, and often run around like Mary Poppins (not to be confused with her evil twin, "Mary F'ing Poppins", my alter ego that emerges with hypoglycemia or just a crappy day!), dancing and singing and tossing flowers around if they are available! :)   I saw several BAFF runners and always gave a shout out "Go Cleveland"!!  I knew a few of these guys, but they don't know me. Regardless, we got some fist-pumps in, and I was truly feeling happy.  I really like the solo feeling of the late night running.  The runners are thinned out now, the hammer-time athletes are all finished and it's us "regular" people, the age-groupers (AG) that are left.  I saw many with LOW spirits.  I felt good mentally and emotionally so it was easy to give back, like those swimmers did for me! I would often chime in "good job", "looking great" and "run with me for a bit?" - I seem to connect with the guys in their late 50s and early 60s - I love to encourage them.  There were even a few people out there in their 20s and 30s.   I was MOSTLY running! I didn't feel the need to walk too much.  I now am aware that my "running" is really the "Ironman Shuffle"!  Coach Angela described it best at a recent CTC gathering.  I remember seeing footage of me running, and was mortified that I did indeed "shuffle" - there was essentially NO knee lift going on!! Here I thought I was kicking it into the chute, but nope, it's definitely a shuffle! It's something I can work on. :)

I struggled with hypoglycemia pretty much the entire last loop of the run.  I was taking in Gu and Coke regularly, it would creep up to the 80s or 90s then begin to plummet down ... 60, 50, 40, then LOW.  Not good!  Ugh. Another Gu and more Coke.

I enjoyed the different themed aid stations, and while the volunteers started to thin, there were still a few hard core out there to support us!  I was doing the math in my head and I knew I wasn't going to beat my time in the Rev 3.   It kind of bummed me out because I really cannot explain why, or where I lost significant time.  My swim was better - no goggle debacle (THANK YOU LORD!).  My bike felt relatively strong, and my run felt as good, maybe even better, than Rev 3.  No toe-swelling issue. No pain.  I suppose I was just not as physically fit and prepared.  I did know that going in.  I knew that my training intensity was far less than it was for Rev 3.  Oh well.  I didn't factor in the post-IM funk that occurs.  I didn't know I'd lose motivation.  But I did.  No question.  It's not an excuse, just a fact.

As I headed in for the last 2 miles, I encountered Vic Kinnunen looking for me.  The Captains were given a window of 13-15 hrs and I was resolved to make that window!!  Vic found me and I was SOOOO happy to see him! I knew he was just trying to give my peeps a head's up, and I felt rejuvenated seeing him, knowing they'd be there to cheer me on to the finish!  Vic asked if he could run with me .... I honestly just felt that if I ran with him, my mental game would be affected. I knew what I had left, it was budgeted, and I feared putting in too much effort to run with him and not having it to follow through the chute.  He was very gracious, and totally understood.   I don't know if I made the right decision. Maybe running with Vic would have cut a minute or two off my time. Maybe it would have allowed me to pick up the pace, and I would have found that the juice was there to carry me through at the faster pace. I just don't know. But I feared failure, and I knew I could finish with what I had left in the tank.   He sprinted ahead to tell them I was coming and I dug deep for a strong finish.

It's really quite funny! Here I felt the energy of the crowd. I heard people calling my name! I knew they were looking to me for inspiration, thinking that if I can do it, so can they!  I FELT like I was kicking it in ... I FELT like I was sprinting down the chute!!  I was happy to see the finish line, but I was also very, very low.  BG=43.  I was snappy and crabby to the finish volunteers.  I was asked what size shirt I wanted, and I was so low, disoriented, fatigued, I replied "how the hell do I know, just pick a size".  NICE TIFFANY!!!   Ugh! So ashamed.  I declined the "finisher photo" because I felt so damned cranky ... then, I was SHOWERED with LOVE from my peeps!  They would understand! They are diabetic too!  They were so proud. So happy, so supportive.  It was contagious.  I continued to feed myself Gu and couldn't help but be grateful for all the love and support I was getting!  Erin Avellon handed me my cell phone, which I had left in the condo.  On it was a text from Ted: I just watched you finish live on!!! Great job!    This blew my mind!  First off, I had no idea that Ted would figure out he COULD watch it live, and second, since I was hoping to finish faster than Rev 3, he had to be monitoring that site for HOURS!  I was so touched!!  I monitor my peeps when they race, but I'm a huge fan of the sport, so it's easy. Ted certainly respects the sport, but that was really touching to have him figure that out and do it!!  It meant a lot to me!!  He had wanted to come and support me, but I talked him into staying home - he'd be spending tons of $$$ just to see me for only a short bit of time. We all know triathlon isn't spectator friendly!!  So, if you don't LOVE the sport, it can make for a long, boring day until your person finishes.

My Triabetes Captains friends, and some triabuddies and their parents, were all surrounding me, congratulating me, and just giving me lots of love! I had such an entourage that several people stopped by our group and asked if I was famous!!!  LOLOLOL   Why yes, RIGHT NOW, I FEEL FAMOUS!!!  I was initially very nervous to have the "pressure" of people watching ... but I did a lot of self talk to make myself accept that as a POSITIVE thing, not to feel stressed by it, just let it be a positive thing.  It really did work!!  While I initially envisioned myself doing this alone, and upon hearing I'd have a posse of supporters, I got immediately scared! I want to race anonymously!  Anonymity!!  I want to succeed or fail without my peeps as spectators.  What kind of thinking is that??   I bet I'm not alone here.  I know that when we, the Triabetes Captains, do IM St. George in May - we will be blessed to have each other to support us through the challenges of Ironman.  It's a scary undertaking. That course, in particular. But we have each other and I know that we will all greatly benefit from that!!

When the race was over, I headed back to the condo and just basked in the glory of finishing :)  I was a tad bit disappointed that I didn't improve my time, but hey, that's how it went, and no need to dwell on it.  I have signed up to do Rev 3 Full Iron distance next September - and there, on that course, I WILL break 14 hrs.  I will improve my time.  Same course. Watch for it. 13 hrs and XX minutes.  That's my next big goal.  For now, I will tackle IMSG.  That race is May, 2011 and I have NO time goals for that race. The challenge of the course, the elevation, the mountains, the frigid water temperature, the ambient temperature, all will make for a challenging day.  I plan to finish that course! I don't care HOW LONG IT TAKES, I will finish it by cut off time!  We all will!

After posting some grateful words on Facebook, I got to sleep pretty easily.  I would be surprised to wake in the morning feeling PRETTY DAMNED GOOD!  Barely sore!  How is that even possible??

Tom and I headed over to IM store and to get coffee - there was, again, an ENORMOUS line.  To buy finisher jackets.  Eh, we were out! Headed to get coffee at McDs and then over to the park where my triabuddy, Rachel, would tackle her very first triathlon!!!  I had been looking forward to this as the highlight of my whole week!!!   It was nice to see my friends again, but even nicer to catch up with Rachel, Jodi, Ed, and meet Rachel's sister Emily.  I had a little gift for Rachel, then went on to ask her how she felt. She was nervous.  I hear ya girl!!  She felt very frustrated that she didn't know where to go. There was no course map.  That was a mistake on their part. These kids need to see a map!!  Heck, adults need a map. It's scary enough, but if you can't visualize your race, well, dang, that stinks!!  Rachel's frustration was hard for all of us to watch.  We found the race director and she comforted Rachel with a verbal recap of what to do.  I know that a map would have helped, and that would be my suggestion for future races.   But Rachel felt a bit better and then, after setting up her transition area, found some of her other triabuddy peeps and relaxed a bit.  Seems a lot of those kids were nervous, anxious, excited, scared.   All of those emotions swirl around in your mind! Plus, it wreaks havoc on your blood sugar!  She was running a bit high - stress will do that to you!!

Tom made himself right at home and I didn't feel the need to stick by his side to accompany him. He made friends easily, and was very happy to just chat with the other captains and triabuddies, parents.  I love that about him.  Unfortunately, Erin and her parents had wanted to come.  I was unaware of that, and there was some miscommunication.  :(   I feel terrible, because she and her parents would have really enjoyed watching these kids do their thing.  She was a good sport and accepted my apology. Erin is quite an amazing triathlon spouse!!  I give her huge props for her commitment and support to this, often all-consuming, sport.

The kids did their triathlon. It was set up a bit differently because they'd be swimming in a pool.  We often do our indoor triathlons this way.  Rachel was in line and I could tell she was excited and scared.  When it was her turn, into the water she went and began her swim, looking very strong!  She had a good stroke and had a good swim leg!  She climbed out of the water and headed to T1, where she took her BG, put on some clothes to bike in, put on her helmet, then took her bike to the end of the rack, where her RD buddy was there to direct her to exit the area.  She hopped on her bike and off she went! I was so excited!!  Rachel was having fun and had moments where she was smiling - beaming! But then there were other moments where she was just focused on her race.  We got some great pics!

I'm SO EXCITED for Rachel!! She's ready to go!

Triabuddies Photo Op

Ironman Tom, enjoying the kids' triathlon

Rachel doing jumping jacks to keep warm! Black and green suit.

And she's off!!

Lap 1 almost done!

Off for lap 2!

She's a fish!

Heading to T1 ... Swim: DONE!

Testing blood glucose!

T2, more BG testing!

Time to hydrate!

Love this one!!  And she's OFF!

She was QUICK on the run, we weren't expecting her yet!

Kicking it into the chute - struggling with a side stitch - Ouch!

Proud mom, Jodi, and step-dad, Ed - PROUD Rachel! :)

She's excited, she's nervous, she's a typical triathlete!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Much delayed IMFL race report - Part 1

I'm not even sure how to start on these blog posts ... I have two that need to be done, and I've got to just jump in and go, or this may never happen! Presently I'm over 6 weeks late ... UGH! Here we go!!

Florida. I headed to Florida on Monday, November 1st. I would take a very circuitous route to arrive at my final destination: Panama City.  From Cleveland, I flew to Chicago, to Nashville, and finally to Panama City. Upon arrival I was quickly met by John Moore, the VP of Insulindependence. He picked me up and we headed over to the hotel where I'd be spending the week, with the other Triabetes Captains.  On the drive over we found ourselves on part of the bike course for Ironman Florida. I would be tackling that race on Saturday!!  I was happy to see the road in good condition.  My bike would be arriving on Wednesday, as it was sent with Tribike Transport.

Upon arrival at the hotel I quickly checked in, then changed into running clothes, as a group of peeps were heading out for a run.  I hadn't eaten much, so I grabbed a Clif bar and some water.  In the van on the way to the run, I reconnected with a few of the Captains that had arrived, and met a delightful woman named Veronica Diaz. Unbeknown to me, Veronica was one of our instructors. She is a very knowledgeable sports and diabetes nutritionist. I enjoyed chatting with her!  We hit it off instantly and Veronica could be my BFF if we lived closer!! (Of course sharing that distinction with my other 2 BFFs KT & EK!!)  I just adore Veronica :)   We then arrived at our destination and went for a run. About 3 miles into the run I started to get GI distress and felt very dehydrated. Thinking back, I had consumed almost no beverages because I was flying and didn't want to be met with trying to use the bathroom on the plane. This strategy might be good for flying, but it's not so good for running! I was dry as a bone and desperate for some water. I started feeling worse and worse, eventually ejecting from the run to turn around and head back to the van. My teammates took pity on me and I was offered everyone's remaining water supply, which I had no choice but to take. Don't get me wrong, I was certainly very grateful!!  I was kind of in crisis at this point. Lesson learned: Never leave for a run without a water supply! The dehydration was really affecting me! My mouth was pastey, my contacts felt miserable, my gut was frozen and I stopped sweating.  Not a good combination :(  I resolved to correct this and begin project rehydration aggressively once we returned to the hotel.  Unfortunately, a headache set in and I was relegated to going to bed at 8:30 with Advil and a large bottle of water at my bedside.

Tuesday morning I awoke early and felt great! I was ready to tackle the run we had scheduled. It went very well and I got a nice 6 mile run in. The morning was filled with various classes on nutrition and biochemistry, as it pertains to diabetic athletes. I found it interesting and useful!  In the afternoon, the group went for a bike ride. My bike had not arrived from Tribike Transport yet, so I sat out the ride and read a book and relaxed in the hotel room.  After the Captains returned, we had dinner and another class session.

Wednesday morning we headed over to an outdoor pool - a 50 meter pool!  I was very happy to swim in that pool and we had a planned workout that was executed.  We could see storms rolling in, and it would turn out to be a very rainy day!   We returned to the hotel and had a few more classes, then, after lunch, headed over to the Pier for a group run in the rain. I declined to join - I feared I'd develop blisters, had no "back up" running shoes, and didn't want to risk getting chilled. I started walking around the shopping center, but the rain picked up so I headed back to the car and read. Thank God for my Kindle!!  I enjoyed the quiet time and the sound of rain on the car.  After the run, we headed back to the hotel for more class time.

Thursday would be my last day with the group. I hung with them until noon - we had a morning class. Then I had lunch and got a ride over to Ironman Village.   I had Blair Ryan driving me over, and Daniel Vincent along for the ride. Dan wanted to get some IM gear for a friend.  I would be meeting a friend of mine from High School - Tom Avallon, and his wife Erin, who were flying in from Switzerland, so Tom could do IMFL.

As we arrived in Ironman Village, we saw a line that was almost a mile long! I started to stress out. I knew right away that this was the line to pick up your registration packet. Packet pickup was scheduled to go through 4 pm and it was about 1 pm.  We quickly revamped the plan and I was dropped off at the Moondrifter to wait for Tom and Erin to arrive. They were having lunch.  Bless their hearts, Blair and Daniel didn't want to leave me, but would rather wait with me until Tom and Erin arrived. But I was in no mood to handle that!!  I'm one of those people that cannot ask for help, and when I do need it, I feel very uncomfortable. I know, it's a huge character flaw! Especially since I'm the first person to help a friend in need!  But I was very unsettled with stress and anxiety at this point, and having them wait with me would have been another stressor, so they were gracious enough to see this, understand it, respect it, and leave me, which I'm sure they felt very uncomfortable doing.  But I must say, I felt a lot more at peace just waiting on a bench alone. It would be not even 10 minutes until Tom and Erin arrived, and I found myself feeling more relaxed each minute.

We dropped off my luggage then Tom and I headed over to get in that HUGE line.  It was a great time to catch up and talk, as the line slowly made it's way forward.  I would say it was almost 2 hrs!  We chatted with some other athletes in line, and were at peace knowing we would not be late to pick up our packets.  Once we had the packets in hand, we set off to look for a place to purchase a ticket for Erin for the pasta dinner.  We were told it didn't open until 5pm so we headed back to the condo.  Our thought was that we could get Erin then head back down and get the ticket.  As the three of us headed to the dinner location, we heard "Pasta Dinner is SOLD OUT"  - Dang! We took a risk and lost.   Oh well ... we then looked at the bright side - we saved $30 dollars and could eat cheaper for that elsewhere. So we head down to the Pier and found an Italian restaurant.  There were a few other athletes there, but it was remarkably empty!!  I had a ravioli dish and it was very good. By this time I was getting hypoglycemic and cranky - not a good combination. A coke before my dinner arrived seemed to do the trick!  It always sucks when I get into these hypo crises with people who don't know me very well or just see me in short visits - it paints me as this witchy woman, which I can be, but usually prefer NOT to be!!   Anyway, I enjoyed my dinner - ravioli - a lot! Yum.  And even more, I enjoyed getting to know Erin a bit, catching up with Tom, and learning about what life is like living in Switzerland.  It was a nice dinner date with the Avellons!

The next day - Friday - Tom, Erin, and I headed out to the beach so Tom and I could get an OWS in.  On Thursday the waves were HUGE and it was extremely windy, but by Friday, the wind died down a bit and the waves were less scary.  The overcast, coupled with the dark ocean water, just left us feeling COLD!!!  I was reluctant to enter the water, but really wanted to get more comfortable with the whole process, so I donned my wetsuit - with help from Tom, acting as a shoe horn, and off we went!!  The waves were VERY STRONG and I struggled to stay on my feet as I entered the water. Surprisingly, the ocean was not near as cold as I anticipated and once I was fully submerged, I felt GREAT!!   Wow, how buoyant you are in salt water!!!   We swam out maybe 100 yards then started swimming against the tide to get used to sighting and fighting the waves.  I was having a blast and loved that I could see the bottom of the ocean and all the fish! What a HUGE change from swimming in Lake Erie!   As I swam, I saw this tan thing about 8 inches in front of me ... Hmmmm...   HOLY SH!T - it was a jelly fish!!!   Now, I know how naive this will sound, but it just never crossed my mind that I'd happen upon a jellyfish!!   I screamed and quickly hightailed it back toward shore!!  On my return trip I saw a stingray and a horseshoe crab on the ocean floor.   While the jellyfish experience was jarring, I felt MUCH more confident about the ocean swim for tomorrow's race and was SO GLAD we did that!!

Next we went for a bike ride.  I opted for 6 miles, Tom went out for a bit more. He had a little bike mechanical issue he was working on so we stopped at a bike support station, only to find the biggest a-hole ever!!  He was giving Tom grief about mounting his Gorilla cage, and how he SHOULD do it,  and then proceeded to insult my bike shop! Whoa!!  If I'm anything, I'M LOYAL!!!   To a fault.    I abruptly ended the conversation and we were out of there - Tom found another support station that had what he needed and this group was very helpful. 

We then headed over to drop off our gear bags. Here are some pics of my staging of my gear! So excited!!
I always enjoy this part and snap pics ad nauseum.  At the end of this LONG blog I'll have a link to my IMFL/Triabetes/Triabuddy Album for those of you who just cannot get enough of my riveting tri-life!! :)
The temp was dropping and I was ready to go in for the day. Tom finished up the work on his bike and checked it, while I did a bit of shopping at the IM store. There would be no finisher jacket purchase for me - WAY too much, but I did want the Addidas collared polo to commemorate my IMFL experience. Oh yeah, and a coffee mug and cap.

The rest of the day was a blur. I passed on dinner, opting to graze on Clif bars and Lara bars all day. And I headed to bed pretty dang early. 

Race day:
Up and into my kit.  For this race, I'd be changing at T1 and T2 - unlike any other race.  We prepared to leave then Erin joined Tom and I as we headed over to the transition area.   Last minute bike check, body glide application, race strategy talk and just experiencing the energy of the morning!! I enjoyed having Tom around - he was a perfect companion, balancing giving me enough personal space to deal with my nerves and neuroses, and being good company, good positive energy and very grounded.  I can often be a loner at these things, or, I can have my nervous energy translate into tension or ultra-gabby status ... (who me???!)  I have to say, Tom had a goal: to go under 12 hrs.  He'd done this race 3 yrs ago and did 12:30 (esque) so this was his next goal. Plus, he was coming off a DNF in Switzerland due to a bad crash on the bike, so he was ready to redeem himself.  I gotta say, Tom was in great shape!  Fit and trim and muscular!  I could tell he'd put in the time and had been training to meet this goal!  My goal was to go faster than Rev3 (14:47) ... I'd heard all along this course is "flat and fast" so, if I could maintain my fitness, it seemed like a reasonable goal.  No longer could I say "I just want to finish!" - I knew, barring injury, I would finish. What I wanted was a PR.

We headed down to the beach. The sand was COLD.  MUY FRIO!!!!  I couldn't stand in the sand without shoes - it was akin to standing barefoot in the snow.  So I wore my crocs ... and subsequently lost them :(  Boo.  Erin was around, but I really didn't want to saddle her with my vest and shoes - I was prepared to lose them.  I suppose had I seen her, I would have asked her to take them to the room, but by now there were TONS of people around and the athletes were separated from the fans and spectators.  I saw lots and lots of people wearing socks in the water and on the sand. WHAT A GREAT IDEA~!!!!  I would have gladly sacrificed a cruddy pair of old sock over my crocs.   Good to know for IMSG.

The music began and the pros went off. Now it was our turn.  The waves were better than the prior day, so I was happy about that.  I seeded myself upfront. My (erroneous) thought was that I'm a strong swimmer, let me nail the swim and get out early so I don't get caught in the mass of swimmers.  Gun went off and I began running into the water.  I started swimming as soon as I could. What happened? Same old issue: HR blew up and panic set in, causing me to slow up and become afraid to put my face in the water.  :(  Those of you that know me, know I'm a good swimmer, a strong swimmer. But when these attacks happen, I'm brought down to "basic survival",  even if it means dog-paddle.

Two separate women saw me and were very kind and supportive. The first said "You are OK. Let the swimmers thin out and you'll settle in".  The second said something similar, encouraging me, yet sympathetic - I can't tell you how much that meant to me!!!  There are some great people in this sport! They wasted energy to comfort me.   Of course, they were right.  I lost only maybe 4 minutes and then I found my groove, my HR settled and my breathing was great.  THEN I started chunking off the swimmers!  I knew I could salvage my swim and I started swimming pretty strong, passing people.  The first loop done, we had quite a bit of beach to run, which slowed me down - I would have preferred to swim point to point, but this is the course and this is how they get our split.  As I ran through I heard my name being yelled out and knew: My peeps are here!!! It energized me! The second loop went well and I had to believe my swim time would be close to 1:20!   As I exited, there was some bottlenecking going on, and the official swim exit was quite a bit inland - boo!  I think my final time was 1:27 ... I was a bit disappointed.  I know I can do a 1:15 or better, if planets align for me one race day ... I just need to work on that mass start, and pick it up a little bit more.  Eh, it was my best effort for THIS day, given these circumstances. And, I'm okay with that.

In T1 I put on my cycling shorts (dry!) and a cycling jersey. I also needed to put on my CGM and begin the calibration phase - in 2 hrs I'd need to stop and enter 2 blood glucose values. Poor planning on my end - I should have done this all yesterday. Boo!   My next mistake was not getting sunscreen. Shame on me :(  My face paid the price as it burned, chapped and peeled for then next week.

I got my bike and zipped out of transition.  My first thoughts: FARK!!! I AM FREEZING!!!   No socks. No leg warmers, no arm warmers. Wet hair. AND COLD AS SNOT!!  Speaking of snot, lots of that as my nose started to run in the cold.  I tried to ignore the cold. I tried to focus on spinning and  leg turnover and settling in. But I am telling you, as someone that alpine skies, as someone that lives in CLEVELAND, as someone that has done the January 1st Polar Bear Plunge - running into Lake Erie sans wetsuit - I can honestly say I've never been colder.   I was numb.  I know we were all cold. But so many of my comrades had more clothes than me and I was immediately regretting my clothing choices.   Oh, yeah, and "FLAT"?? NOT. SO. MUCH.   There were 3 good climbs on the course. Factor in the WIND - which exacerbated my frozen state, and I was pretty miserable for the first half of the ride. I considered quitting. Seriously. I was miserable, and now I was coughing and having trouble breathing. When I inhaled fully, I had pain in the peripheral lung regions.  What was going on???  I coughed for almost 3 hrs.  Most of the road was in the shade. As the sun rose, the left side was sunny and maybe 8 degrees warmer.  I didn't care that it was farther off course, I cycled in the sun whenever I could.

At the 2 hr mark I stopped and tested to initiate my CGM. Next up was a potty stop - but in this ride, there would only be one ... I wasn't making too much urine.  I struggled to keep taking in nutrition and fluids, but it was hard being so cold.  At mile 50 there was an out and back of 5 miles - 10 miles round trip.  This stretch of 10 miles was the bumpiest road ever - Cleveland peeps: think "N. Marginal road".  Seriously, I think my liver and spleen were bruised from being beaten up within my abdomen.

Then: SWEET RELIEF!!! My body warmed up and I was back on smooth road. Now I was feeling GOOD!!  I found myself feeling good on the bike! I had my spiritual moment of gratitude and thanked God for allowing me to be healthy enough to fulfill this lifelong dream. If you want to see more deets on the bike leg, you can check HERE for a link to my Garmin page.

At mile 90 I really started moving.  I think it was a slight descent because it felt fast and I was doing okay! I pushed real hard to finish the bike strong.  I saw my Triabetes peeps pass me in the big white van ... yelling out my name! It was very motivating!  Then they tried to catch me, but apparently I was giving them quite a run for their money!!  :)  They finally pulled up along side of me to get some film footage and gave me plenty of encouragement :)   That was really motivating!!

Into T2 where I found my BG to be 52 - BOO.  No wonder I snapped at the volunteer.   :(  I apologized promptly, and she was gracious.  A lady next to me gave me her Gu.  And again, what amazing people I experienced on this journey!  I changed into my triathlon kit - which was dry and warm.  I headed out of T2 knowing my peeps were out there looking for me.  The problem was that my gut was bugging me. I felt nauseous.  I wanted to walk for a few minutes and take in some coke, but I had people cheering for me! I couldn't walk NOW! I saw Peter, Ed, Rachel, Andrea, several triabuddies and their parents - all cheering me on! It felt really good, and I managed to hold a light shuffle for the first mile, but once out of sight I slowed to a walk and tried to get the nausea to settle.   Next thing I know I feel a hand on my shoulder ... it's Tom. He's kicking ARSE and on his second loop!  I couldn't run with him at the moment, and I certainly didn't want him to slow for me, so I asked him to move on and go get that PR.   (Spoiler: He did - nailed it!! 11:45  So Proud!!!)

I settled into my run - which would be two 13.1 mile loops. Around mile 5 the nausea passed and I was feeling fine.  My next hurdle came when the sun started to go down ... it was getting COLD!  I stayed in the sun as much as possible, but knew that it wouldn't be long before it was to go down, and I worried that the previous FREEZING episode from the bike would return.  I was desperately looking for someone I knew to ask for a sweatshirt or jacket for when the sun went down - even hoping to see Tom on his return route ... but that didn't happen.   :(

To be continued ...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Meet my Triabuddy: Rachel

Meet Rachel

November 5-7, 2010
This year's Triabuddies aren't just spectators--they'll have the privilege of competing together in a kids triathlon event in Panama City, Florida! During the first four months of the program, the Triabuddies will work with their mentors to prepare for one of the following distances (varies depending on age):
100 yard pool swim, 3 mile bike, 1/2 mile run
200 yard pool swim, 6 mile bike, 1 mile run

The KidsTri2 Triathlon is scheduled on the weekend following the Triabetes Captains Training Camp, so parents and mentors will all be there to cheer on their Triabuddies. Also in town is the Ironman Florida Triathlon, so everyone will have the opportunity to be inspired and see what the Triabetes Captains are preparing for.
Rachel on the bike trainer! Spin, Rachel, Spin!
I am very excited to tell you about my Triabuddy Rachel Hoffner!  Rachel is 10 years old and lives in a suburb of Cleveland, OH. I was fortunate to meet Rachel for the first time on October 2nd, at my triathlon club - CTC's - fall picnic.  Rachel is a charming, bright and beautiful girl! I liked her instantly! She has a lovely smile and her eyes sparkle when she smiles!

How I found Rachel is a cool story in itself. The deadline for the Triabuddy had come and gone, and I was unable to fine a local match. It was looking like I would be matched with someone from the southwest, which would have been fine, but I was bummed at not having a local match.

Shortly after the Rev3 Full distance triathlon I did, a fellow CTC'er  - Jack Carney, Jr. - posted about me on a thread on our club message board. It was very flattering and I was touched by the gesture and acknowledgment.  A few CTC's who didn't know me personally, but had seen my posts, chimed in and reached out. I met 3 members who had close ties with diabetes.  On of our triathletes, who I knew only in name, Ed Slovenkay, reached out and told me his step-daughter, Rachel, was showing interest in tackling a kid's triathlon. When I saw this, I became really excited that this may be a great opportunity to find a Triabuddy. I connected with Ed very quickly and shared the program details with him.  He and Rachel's mom, Jodi, seemed very interested ... but would RACHEL be interested???  I contacted my program directors and they assured me we could get them in, even though the deadline had passed.  Ed and I spoke on the phone, and I was getting very excited about this! After we talked, Jodi and Ed spoke with Rachel and, YES, she's absolutely in!!  Woo hoo!!!

We planned to meet for the first time at the CTC picnic. I had my kids there - Kevin, 6 yrs., Jaime, 9 yrs., and Samantha, 11 yrs.  They were as excited as I was I think! My girls bonded instantly with Rachel too!  I enjoyed getting to know more about Rachel. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2008. We talked shop for a bit, and how frustrating it can be to do everything "right", yet still end up with disturbing highs and scary lows.  I also enjoyed getting to know Ed and Jodi.  Jodi is an elementary school teacher, and has become quite knowledgeable in all things diabetes!  I showed them my new Dexcom and talked about the pros of a CGM, as I've been experiencing for the past 10 weeks.
Ed is a veteran Ironman, having done IMKY in 2009 and Rev3 full in 2010. By the way, not only is Ed an Ironman, he's GOOD!  Like, REALLY good - fast!!! I knew that Rachel would have a GREAT resource in Ed in preparing for her triathlon, and in adopting fitness as a valuable tool in managing her diabetes.  I know someday that will be more clear to her :)  Ed and Jodi - your support of Rachel is simply AMAZING!!

So, what does being my Triabuddy mean?  Well I'll tell you!  November 1st I will head to Panama City, FL for "diabetes camp" - InsulinDependence University - where I'll meet the other Triabetes Captains for a week of learning, training, bonding.  I'm thrilled about this opportunity!  Ironically, I am signed up to do IMFL on November 6th!  I was signed up before I was chosen as a Triabetes Captain. I honestly thought that my prohibit me from being selected, but it did not.

Last November I decided to try to get in to IMFL, as did a friend of mine from high school - Tom (Guy) Avalon.  He and I talked, and thought it would be fun to do this "together".  Tom lives in Switzerland with his wife Erin. He's done IMFL before, and was ready to tackle it again. I figured I'd be relatively trained with having Rev3 in September, so why not? So, being naive about the sign-up process for these Ironman events, I figured I'd sign up after work. It was a Sunday and I was working in a vet clinic. I had planned to sign up after my shift.  I got a call from Tom at noon - are you trying to sign up??  No, I'm working, I'll do it this evening.  Um, no you won't! These spots sell out in an hour!  What???   So, I called Ted at home and asked him to give it a try and sign me up if he could get in.  In a few moments I got an email from Tom - he'd gotten in, but - bummer - it's closed out.  The next second I get an email: Registration Confirmation! Ted had gotten me in just under the wire!

When I'm in Florida for IDu, I will have the huge advantage of having a fantastic support group present! I am both excited and nervous. I'm sure you can understand that, right? Clearly, I want to have a good race, and I'll love having so much support, but it's also scary in the sense that I'll have people watching my race day - yikes!!!  But, I'll buck up and focus on the POSITIVE energy I'll get from such support, and push away that scary side that makes me nervous - it's time to channel that support into something that will inspire and motivate me to have the best race I can have!  Peter Nerothin, ID's President, asked my my ETA for finishing so he could have the Captains there to support me.  I'll put it out here as well: For my first IM, Rev3, my primary goal was to FINISH the distance and have a good race, no nutritional disasters, no blood sugar disasters, no injury.  All went well - aside from the salt tabs and subsequent swelling - and I had a respectable race. I learned A LOT in that race and can use that going forward.

So, my goal for IMFL is to go under 14 hrs. It's a doable goal! It can happen.  I know that on the swim, alone, I lost AT LEAST 15 minutes with the goggle debacle.  Now I'm armed with some great goggles, and ready to chop down that swim time!  I'm sure I can find some time on the bike, too.  The run will be my biggest challenge, but I'm ready. I'll be armed with salt tabs and shoes larger to accommodate the swelling.  I'll try to dig deep and hang on.  I think I can do it!!  It will be an amazing day, I'm sure.  :)  I'm also happy that this IM is on a Saturday - wish they all were :/  Here that WTC?? Make more Saturday IM's!

Sunday, November 7th, I will be very excited to watch Rachel, as she competes in her own triathlon!! It will be her first and I know how nervous she'll be.  I hope to help her face this with excitement and positive thoughts, to enjoy it, and see what amazing things she can accomplish!  I hope she'll have a super time, and consider doing another one! :) The biggest goal is to help Rachel realize that she does not need to be limited by diabetes, but that she can do whatever she wants to! By managing her health and staying fit, she can lead a full, active, healthy life.  Rachel and I have talked a bit about how it stinks to have diabetes, but, those were the cards we've been dealt, and we will not let it hold us back from leading a full and happy life!!  I'm so proud of Rachel for tackling this challenge!! :)  In May, she will be there for me, as I tackle the scary challenge that is Ironman St. George - the scariest of all IM's!! But I'm doing all I can to prepare myself, physically and mentally, for that challenge.  I'm happy to have my Triabuddy there as inspiration!

So, that's my big new! Very exciting!!  I'm so blessed to have such a fulfilling life ... I cherish it all. I am grateful for the experiences, the challenges, the successes, and even the stumbling blocks ... they teach me something every. single. time.

If you haven't donated to my fundraising campaign, please consider doing that now!  Every donation helps me get closer to my goal of raising $4000 for my diabetes charity. Please know that this money is not going toward my race, but will be used solely for the charity, which runs programs - education, fitness and recreation - for people with diabetes. You can support me with a donation HERE.

Peace out, Peeps!
<3 Tiffany (an admitted abuser of the exclamation point!!)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Ironman St. George 2010 Race Report - Kevin Berg

      Below is a Race Report sent to me by my friend Tom, who will be joining me as I tackle IMFL in a few weeks.  He found Mr. Berg's RR in his club archives and forwarded it to me. Since I'm tackling IMSG in May 2011 with my Triabetes Team Captains, the added insight is helpful. We were there, as volunteers for an aid station, and witnessed the event in all of it's terrifying glory :)  I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling frightened about our journey May 7, 2011 ... however, like the scary journey with type 1 diabetes, we will simply prepare, mentally and physically, for the challenges ahead and keep doing the best we can, one moment at a time.  While at one time this would have terrified me, and it still does to some degree, I now feel ready to tackle this scary beast and arise victorious! I hope my comrades feel the same. WE CAN DO THIS!!!


Kevin Berg
Race:    IM St. George - My Take
Distance:    Ironman
Race Date:    05/01/10
Submit Date:    05/07/10
Ironman St. George 2010 Race Report – My take

Kevin Berg

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness;..… we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way." - Dickens.

I’ve been holding off on my little race report because not only because I needed to let this past weekend settle in my head a bit, but also holding off in an attempt to sort through all of the conflicting information and buzz I’ve read and heard.

Of course, I’m not one to judge, since this was my first full distance triathlon, but there seemed to be a very emotional component to this race. Perhaps the Dickens quote is a little overly dramatic, but his words of events in contradiction somehow seem appropriate. The race seemed full of contradictions.

The chatter around the water cooler at the finish was that this one was a bitch. A tougher course than most expected. The typical comment was, “I was 45 minutes to 1 hour over my PR - but I’m really happy with my time!” I heard two fast and experienced triathletes actually say that this race should require pre-qualification to enter. Time will tell if we will be honored with finishing The Toughest Ironman. I happened to notice that there is still entry available for 2011, as of the date of this posting.

But, the course also elicited comments of being one of the most beautiful and enjoyable.

2360 athletes were signed up as of April 14. WTC says they generally expect a 10% attrition rate by starting time. The official comment at the awards ceremony on Sunday was that there was a 15% DNF rate – 2nd highest of any race to-date. It appears that only 1634 people crossed the finish line in time. That means 726 people were MIA, the largest no-start and/or DNF of any race I can find statistics on.

Another interesting stat is that this race had approximately 760 First-timers. Maybe not too surprising since it was a new race that many could get into with having to pony-up $1550 for the Community Foundation entry fees due to sold-out races elsewhere. Also not too surprising, since WTC did not release any course information until 3 weeks after sign-up started, so many of us paid our fees only to find ourselves saying later, “what the heck have I gotten myself into!” Humm - I don’t think this was an oversight on WTC’s part. It was also within driving distance of many western metro areas, making it accessible to more people.

The winning Pro, Austrian Michael Weiss, crossed the line with an 8:40:08. A fairly middle-of-the-road wining time for Pros in other IM events. But, the average of the rest of the top 5 Male Pros was approximately 8:54:00 - much longer than the other tough IM courses, thus ranking it 4th behind Kona, Wisconsin and Lanzarote.

The weather forecast right up to race day was forbidding, but apparently typical for that time of year. Cold, rainy and lots of wind. Yet the weather on race day was near perfect. 51 degrees at 6:30 am, light wind, scattered clouds. The high of the day was 69-72, depending upon were you were on the course. The winds did kick up around 1:00pm, registering between 8 – 25 mph after 1:00pm, with gusts of up to 41 mph recorded in the back canyons. Riders on the second loop later in the day were brutalized by gusts.

One thing is certain. If the weather had been the seasonally expected standard, this race might have been a disaster. Any more wind, or even worse, heat would have decimated the athletes. As it was, WTC brass and all 2011 participants should be burning their tubulars, chanting, and sacrificing virgins while praying for similar conditions for next year.

The water, which Utah Parks had stated was 61 degrees one week earlier, was 54 degrees at the starting gun. At least 50 people had to be pulled from the water during the swim because of the cold. More dropped out in T1, unable to continue due to hypothermia or related maladies.

The bike course was a 22 mile roll into town from Sand Hollow State Park, and then two 44 miles loops. And it was gorgeous scenery. Decent roads, wide shoulders, mesas, a light breeze in the morning, a nice roll though the suburban areas with tons of spectators from mile 20-30, and then into the canyons from mile 30-68 including the fantastic final 9 mile 35-45 mph downhill back to town. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The thing that got to most people were the false flats. A subtle and sinister 1%-3% grade for the majority of the mileage ate riders up by the second lap, with most people seeing a 15-20 minute time loss from loop 1 to loop 2. There were 3 fairly short but strenuous climbs on the loops, culminating in a 1 mile 400’ switchback climb that started at 6%-8% and peaked at 12%. I saw a lot of people walking their bikes on these grades, even on the first loop. Our partial course pre-rides in October and March had us calculating about 5500’ of ascent. My Garmin data on race day for the full ride, adjusted for local elevation, showed 6,100’. It ain’t Silverman Full, but it’s more than enough. At T2, people got off their bikes anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour over their projected ride times. I did not hear as single person say that they nailed the bike at their goal time, or under it.

The run course, with 2400’ of total climb, was heartbreaking and breathtaking. At many times, it looked more like a community Walk-A-Thon than and Ironman Marathon. The 2.5 mile uphill straight out of T2 up Main and Diagonal, which ranged from 2% – 5%, made it difficult to get into stride. And the right turn on Red Hills Parkway was a ½ mile uphill of 8%-10% that really had you dreading another 23 miles. There is simply not a flat spot on this run. Two small 2/10th mile lollipop detours that were apparently needed to add some mileage were just plain irritating by the second loop. If I never have to climb the two 50-75 yard 12% grades – four times - to get to the St. George Elks Lodge again, it will be too soon.

At one point on the second run loop, about mile 20, I was staring up at the worst offending hill on Red Hills Parkway, a 1/3rd mile stretch topping at 11%-12%. There were probably 150 runners in sight, and for a brief period of about 30 seconds, not a single person was running - Uphill or Down! Red Hills Parkway is on the top of a plateau overlooking old town St. George, so running along this section is quite a sight. It is so high, that you can watch the aircraft at the nearby regional airport actually land below you.

The only positive to the run course besides the scenery is that it has an epic finish. The final 2 miles that was killing your stride twice on the way out, has now become a pretty nice downhill to the finish, assuming you have anything left in your legs.

As far as St. George itself was concerned, the town seemed to embrace the event with open arms (and open cash registers). Probably no surprise when a town of approximately 70,000 sees 10,000 visitors with higher-than-average disposable income drop in for 3-5 days. WTC certainly helped by locking up all the room-nights within 20 miles, and then essentially requiring a Wednesday night stay with their registration scheduling, adding a lot of revenue to the hotel take. The only thing that the townsfolk might complain about is the lack of liquor consumption by this crowd. Restaurant tabs were probably much lower than average, but hey, this is Utah. A place that allows you to have multiple wives, but no liquor stores? Go figure.

But people were very friendly, helpful, and generally interested and engaged. No irritated car honking, no complaints about the closed roads, lot’s of spectators that stayed throughout the day at places in town. Again, since I have no prior experience with other events, I can’t judge. But I’d be interested to see how this stacks up to, say Canada, which has a reputation of being a really tri-friendly town with huge local support.

Regarding logistics, the typical comments were that this was an extremely well run event, particularly for an inaugural race. Race Director Paul Huddle, of Roch/Huddle fame, who helped design the course and event for WTC, is to be congratulated on running a well-chain lubricated machine. Volunteers were fantastic and energetic, gears bags were where they should be, special needs bags were where they should be, and actually able to be recovered later.

And Huddle should in turn thank the tri-gods for the weather blessings, because if things had turned ugly during this first time event, we might have found his carbon-riddled body hanging from a yardarm in Town Square. Any point-to-point course race has all the ingredients for a real mess, but transportation, transitions, course and road markings, etc. were well executed.

There was the usual Thursday night athletes meeting, which I attended, and the Friday night dinner and Sunday closing, which I did not. So, no commentary on these.

The Expo was fairly simple, with about 40% of the floor space devoted to Ford, and the rest taken up by the usual supplement vendors and various and sundry gear manufactures. And of course, the Ironman branded mattress display. I think I heard the very energetic bed salesman make claims of dropping 40-50 seconds off your 10K times if you rested upon one of his magically restorative pillow tops with the M-Dot logos embroidered in.

Lots of Ironman apparel, of course, most of which you can get on the Ironman website (or new retail store!). But the local IMSG event-only branded stuff could only be purchased at the Expo and went quickly. I walked away about $300 lighter, so that all my tri-buddies, my car mechanic, my bike mechanic, my dry cleaner, and anyone else who sees me roll, walk or drive will know what I was doing on May 1, 2010.

Registration had long but fast lines, and apparently a new wrinkle in body marking. You received a little cloth cut-out with your race number in your package, which allowed to stand in another line to have your number air-brush painted on your arms, and then yet another opportunity to stand in yet another line to have your age air-brush painted on your calf. People seemed to think this was far superior to getting the magic marker or rubber stamp treatment at 4:30 am on Saturday morning. I was able to scrub off the race numbers, but I’m keeping the 53 on my calf for a while.

Athlete and spectator transportation had all the earmarks of a disaster-in-the-making, but all ran smoothly. The parking and all roads at Sand Hollow Reservoir were completely closed to spectator and athlete parking, even 3 miles away. Athlete buses ran from downtown to T1 from 4:30 – 5:30 am. Spectators were not allowed on athlete buses, and had to drive to the local fair grounds for bus transport to T1 from 5:30 – 6:30 am. This generally worked OK, but the bummer was that spectators were not allowed to leave until 9:30, and there was a lot of standing around after T1 cleared out.

Men’s T1. Ugly. Not enough space and chairs, dim lighting, well-intentioned but clueless volunteers. Wetsuit strippers seemed dazed, probably due to the fact that people coming out of the water were moving like Gumby and unable to function. After dragging myself out of mid-50 degree water, that last time I recall needing that much help undressing and dressing myself was after a particularly festive fraternity party at the U of M in 1978. When your hands are too numb to grasp and your brain in safe-reboot mode, you really need a little assistance. Some complained of being left to fend for themselves with no assistance. I was on my own for about 6 minutes, and felt like a stroke victim. My 12 minute T1 was testament. WTC needs to double the space and put volunteers with some race experience on the front lines.

Tip O’ The Day: You know those really stupid looking full-hood neoprene caps that divers use in cold water? The ones that cover your whole head and shoulders and tuck under your wetsuit and make you look like a Jacques Cousteau geek? Buy one. Now. Keep it handy. Trust me on this. I went into the water looking like an idiot, and came out toasty warm looking like a genius.

Porta Potties. Major issue. I don’t have to have 20 years of race experience to tell you that 32 stalls for 2000 hyper-hydrated athletes ain’t gonna do it. I can only assume that there was some sort of local Mormon city ordinance against more facilities, because any race director knows that 32 stalls is barely enough for a local sprint, much less an Ironman that is situated squarely in the middle of nowhere. I also hope that when the local park officials go to inspect the grounds afterwards to make their report to the city council, someone can convince them that all the droppings they find were from a roving herd of moose.

On a personal note, I’m overcoming mild first-timer depression, which is apparently a fairly common but rarely talked about post-race condition that has you sitting at home and asking your self – now what do I do? I’ve been in almost constant motion and mode for 6 months. And now - nothing. My friends say I need to rest and recover. Do nothing. Sleep. Drink. Work into my fat pants. I feel like I should maybe do a little swimming, running and biking. Just a little. I mean, 15 – 20 hours a week is not that much, if I take it real easy. Maybe tag along with Holgers group or something easy like that.

I’m also waiting for the emotional high. The part where I can’t get the fecal-eating grin off my face, but that never came for me like it does for some others. The life changing event that didn’t change my life. But that’s OK, because the quiet satisfaction is down in there. And I am starting to grin once in a while, now that I am less tired. I'll probably even order a photo or two (dozen).

I missed my 12:20 goal time by 40 minutes, with a 13:00:29 finish. I missed a sub-13 hour IM by 29 friggin’ seconds. 29 seconds to be able to say I did a 12 hour IM. Do you know how many places there are to pick up 29 seconds in a 13 hours race? I do. I know every damn spot. I’m sure it’s the same feeling for the person that did 9:00:29 or the one that did 16:00:29, but it sure is a pisser. But I did rank higher in my age group than I had hoped for, so that is some salvation.

There is also sadness, because I lost some close friends during the race. My toenails and I had become very attached over the years, but somewhere in the middle of it all, 3 of them decided that I was simply not being supportive enough and that they were in an abusive relationship, and they decided to leave. I blame myself, and I’ll miss them.

I think the depression is wearing off a bit. My wife is helping, because every time she picks up the phone, she is telling someone else, “Yeah, we were out of town last weekend. Kevin did an Ironman!”She then proceeds to rewind the entire event for the obviously very tolerant listener. I think she is more proud of it than I am, but her enthusiasm drags me into the good feelings with her, and I love her for it and for her support.

I caught myself glancing at next year’s IM schedule. I have NO interest in doing another one, mind you. But Canada is August 27, and if I happened to be sitting at my computer around midnight the day before registration opens, maybe...