Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It's a Two-fer Wednesday! :)

Greetings peeps! It's been a while. I'm overdue on my IMSG post, and I figured I'd wrap my marathon race report into it as well.

Leaving EARLY Wed. morning was our plan. Unfortunately, my beloved cat Simon passed away Tuesday morning. It really shook me up, and I'm still coping with the mourning I need to address. I had to call the kids before school and tell them. Samantha was stopping over mid-week to check on cats and chinchillas ... I'm just grateful she didn't have to deal with it. It was hard enough for me. I had, like, 10 min to deal with it, before I had to be off to school. My students were unsympathetic, for the most part.  They don't think of me as a person, just that damned teacher giving me difficult quizzes!  So,  I double bagged Simon and put him in the garage freezer ... no time for anything else. I'll deal with it when I get back.  We did leave Wed. We flew Southwest, which I swore I'd never do again, but Ted paid the extra $$ to get us A seating. That's a whole better experience!! My suitcase was over 50 lbs - 66 to be exact. Those 16 lbs cost me 50 bucks :(

We arrived in Las Vegas, rented a decent car, and headed out to St. George.  I cannot tell you how much I love that place!!! It's gorgeous and the townies were supportive and welcoming.  We made it just in time to stop over for dinner to at Dan and Rachel's place, and connect with a few captains. It was really fun, but we were exhausted, arising at 4 am to travel all day. We left early and missed Annie by a few moments. I really enjoyed meeting Rachel and Jolanta, Dan and Vic's wives, respectively. I also met several wee little children and Vic's parents.

The next morning I got a ride with friends (Ted went golfing) out to Sand Hollow, where we'll swim. This was probably the scariest part for me. The water was 67 degrees farenheit. Brian had a thermometer. IM lies - no question.  They need the race to go on, so they will say what they need to say to get the race to go forward as planned. I had my full wetsuit on for the first time. I had a silicone cap, neoprene cap, latex cap and ear plugs. I walked into the water and my first thought was: "NO F'ing WAY!!!!"  I've got to get out of this, I cannot do it! My armes were crossed, and the look on my face had the captains really worried. They kept encouraging me to hang in for just 2 minutes. I said, then let's move, because I cannot do this standing here!  We swam ... and lo and behold, it DID feel good in 2 minutes. Really good!!!  Vic told me he had the SAME reaction the day prior, so I felt more confident about my fears.  We swam out to a rock, too some pics and then back. ~45 min in the water with leisurely swimming. I felt good. My confidence was through the roof!! Whew, what a relief to know I could do this!!!!

Three weeks earlier I had a melt down.  Ted got the brunt of it, but the gist was that I feared failure. The weather in OH is terrible (even now!) and I only got out on my bike ONCE! The trainer doesn't simulate that kind of terrain.  However, after the melt down, and Ted not knowing what to say, says: do you want to quit, because I'll support that. Or do you just need me to tell you I believe in you, because I do.   I needed to believe in ME!  And, aferward, after said temper tantrum, I DID feel better. I went into that race pretty dang sure I could finish in under 17 hrs!!  I started feeling more confident!! By the time we arrived, I felt so much more confident! I was a bit worried about the bike cut off, but otherwise, I'd get it done. I was pretty dang sure!

One of our captians, a younger one, was having enormous melt-downs of insecurities and low self-confidence.  Having just been there, I gave her my support. I said, today you get to melt down, tomorrow you HTFU and get that eye of the tiger thing going. She later thanked me.  I was not unsympathetic to her pressures - they were unique, and different from ours, as she's a personal trainer and educated in sports fitness and nutrition. Still, she's young, she's human.   We swam Friday too, but she wasn't there. By this time, two other captains had not showed up, because, in my opinion, she was wallowing in self pity and self-doubt and they were spending THEIR TIME trying to pump her up. That irked me. That she would affect others' training, time with us, etc. ... well, I found it selfish. But again, just my opinion. I was bummed not to have the whole team there swimming Friday morning. By Friday I was having a blast in the water! I kind of felt invincible there :)

I've connected with different people, at different times, during this journey. My first roommate was Jenny - we both have 3 kids and we were compatible roomies. She teaches elementary school. I adore Jenny!!  She lives in AZ and ROCKED the race (more on that later!). Later in May 2010, I connected with Andrea, from HI. She is AMAZING and impresses me beyond words. She's kind, and generous, and supportive. Plus, like me, had some her own pre-race neuroses that I totally relate to, and respect!.  In Florida, I got to know Sarah better, as she was my roommate. We were a good fit and she was respectful of my 'early to bed' regiment.  Annie was the woman I knew "least well".  I was fortunate to spend more time - Thursday and Friday of this trip, IMSG, with Annie and her mom - Molly - who got in, and out of the blue, pulls out a media pass!! She also got discounts and helped us buy up some souvenirs with her discount!!  We had a lot of fun! I loved that we got to know each other better on this trip - Annie is awesome! Molly too!

Friday I checked in my bike, my bags and relaxed with the Kindle. I was ready.  Friday evening our triabuddies returned form Mt. Zion and it was 1 day after Rachel's 11th birthday. I was thrilled to finally see Ed and Jodi, who have become two of my favorite people in the world!!!  Toss in Emily and Rachel - that family ... well let's just say that I'm blessed to have them in my life now!  Emily wasn't there for this trip.  Rachel had a fantastic time, and was so happy when she returned. She also got an ipod touch for her BD from her parents, and I, just coincidentally, got her an itunes card!  She was in tears with happiness.  They called us up individually and said some kind things about us. Insulindependence gave us a certificate, a medal for our buddies, and a letter they had written to us.  I don't think I'll cherish anything as much as that!! Near the end, Jenny and her sister sang a touching song - they both have beautiful voices!! Who knew??!  I met her husband Troy, and her kids. Her song made me cry - in a good way.  It was a pretty good lovefest. I felt a few errors of omission, and glazing over talented captains that have given 110% early, steady and consistently, yet that wasn't said, and something "lighter" was said, resulting in some hurt feelings. We are a new charity, and errors get made. Look at the Emmy winners who forget to thank their families! We needed to do that as well. Hopefully it's a lesson learned and will be a non-issue in the future. I also wished we would have done a standing ovation for our families and friends, who sacrificed many, many hours. And I wish we'd have thought to do a gift for John Moore, the hardest working, most kind, most supportive person on the ID staff. John's character is one of compassion and support, and he's a sounding board for any and all of our issues related to our year-long journey. I adore John. I am happy to know that he and Maurine will be expecting twins in just a few weeks.

Afterward, back to my room and on to bed. I got up a 3 pm to be sure things went smoothly. This was the most relaxed I've ever been!! I like it!!  We got a ride to the athletes' bus and we were all in a good mood. Dan's BG was high with two arrows up - that concerned me, but cortisol can cause that. Sarah was visualizing her race. She seemed pretty relaxed and focused. I was happy to see that. Most of us chatted. Can you imagine me NOT being chatty? I'm sure the morning people wanted to sew my mouth shut! :)  I get it!!!

When we arrived at T1, we all got marked (or re-marked) and set up for the swim. I left my bike pump there - boo! But RD called and is shipping it to me! Yeah! I was impressed with his PERSONAL phone call 24 hrs after the race. Very impressed.

I didn't see Ted until the last moment, but was so glad to see him, it made me feel good!!  I handed my CGM and pump to the aids at swim exit, prepared to be pick them up along with my bike bag. I was ready for this race, and really ready to kick some ass on the swim!!!

We entered the water and I thought: Piece of cake!  I hung back so the time they have for me was whistle time, not start to finish.  I hit "start" when I arrived at the start buoys. I swam 1:15! And I didn't empty the tank!!!  I know I can do better :) I passed every pink cap I came upon. One dude grabbed my leg, pulled me back and punched me!! SO UNCALLED FOR!!!! We are ALL searching for real estate to swim. What a jerk. But that's IM swimming for ya!

I was 3rd out of the water, of our team of 10 - but you'd never know because there is precisely ZERO documentation I was racing. Not one photo.  I'm angry. I'm hurt. How hard is it to keep a checklist of 10 athletes, and find them to be sure you get their photos? They knew my number.  No one got a pic of me, so I guess it was all a dream ... but I suppose it's time to move on from that. But I can't lie ... I still feel angry and hurt.

My T1 was quick! I was surprised how quick, considering I did a full change.  Oh, here's a funny story:  at IM events, they have volunteers that write on their legs "suit strippers". Well I had on my new full Xterra suit. To pull it off, it needs to go over ID bands, watches and my ankle chip. My suit stripper was a man. He has me lay down and pulls off my wetsuit ... and I wore an old, loose suit so it would ease my changing of clothes. But, out pops my right boob!!!  Can  you say wardrobe malfunction??? I quickly caught it right away, but still: EMBARRASSING!!!!

Now onto the women's changing tent. And again, getting a bra on over a wet body, standing naked, is NOT the visual I want you to have. I had the volunteer do the back while I tackled the boobs. Let me tell you, boobs are NOT conducive to triathlon!!!  Ooops, got distracted again! Once I was fully clothed, I ran out, got my bike, and was out way faster than I'd hoped. I didn't test, I just put on my pump and CGM and off I went. You'll be happy to know the boobs were secured and out of sight.

Ed Slovenkay said the course "wasn't that bad"  ... well, for HIM it wasn't that bad!! He's exponentially a better athlete :)  I enjoyed the roll out, but my two water bottles with Amino vital (ie SUGAR) ejected at MILE ONE!!! So: No sugar!!! :(   Dang!  The first climb, I knew I was in trouble. The second climb - it was clear this was not going to be a terrain I could handle. I somehow made it for about 3.5 hrs, maybe 4 hours, but I'd dismounted and walked a few times. :(  I worked hard at NOT beating myself up. I worked hard on thinking positively, and encouraging myself to work hard when I could and eased up when I needed a break. At one point I got to a very steep hill and there was a man sitting in a chair to the right. I said, "is this the wall?"  He laughed and said nope, it's 3 miles ahead. Oh. My. GOD!!!!  I walked this tiny rise, along with 4 other men, which made me feel a tiny bit better. At the top, I started spinning again. I was determined to spin until THE WALL, walk the wall, then see if I could get around again, and make the cut off. Well, by now my water in my camelbak is warm :(  I'm needing gels. I pull tight to the right so people can pass, and they do. My goal is to get to THE Wall. I was feeling relatively good when, out of no where, I feel this "slam" into me, from behind, and I feel myself flying off my bike. I quickly determined I'd be hitting the boulders of the mountain side and just thought "this is it" ... you've been talking about death ... it's here.  Well apparently it's not, because I think I blacked out for a sec and when I rolled over and sat up, all I had was a head ache and marks on my face and neck. The other cyclist just kept groaning and moaning. He was on the road. OMG is he seriously hurt??  I went to him. He kept saying, "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry".  I tell him, It's really okay. That's why they call them accidents.  He had lost the skin on his palms (road rash) and I had bandaides, but nothing that would cover that. Had my gloves fit him, I'd have given him those, but they were far too small. I asked if he was on his second loop? - he was. Damn - this guys is GOOD ... except he lost control and hit me! (Maybe not SO good!)  Our bikes were relatively, amazingly, unscathed as far as I can see. His chain came off. I put it back on for him, and he tested the bike. I said, if you can, GO! He felt bad leaving me. Many people witnessed the crash so the SAG wagon was called, as was an ambulance. I said I was good, he can go, so he did. I then vomited and things were blurry. Dehydration? Concussion? Weakness from the 5 hrs of racing?? I have no idea. I got back on the bike and pulled to the far left, out of anyone's way. I rode 200 yrds to the ambulance/medics. I asked the medics if my pupils were symmetric and reactive. They were. I declined the ambulance, not wanting a $700 bill, and got in the SAG wagon with others, who's day was also over.  I was surprised how upbeat everyone was!!  In doing the math, it was highly unlikely I would have made the cut off. That's the honest truth. And I can live with that.

At the medic tent, the doc gave me Advil and sent me home. I had to borrow his phone to call Ted. I reassured him I was okay, and said to meet me in the Wells Fargo lot. (Later I learned the doc told teammates that came through that I had been there from a crash. They were perplexed. He said, you know, the redhead with the hickey on her neck! HICKEY!!! I'm 42 yrs old! Dude, it was an abrasion from my crash!!!)

Ted must have misunderstood me and went to all the tents at the finish, looking for me. 70 minutes later he finds me.  We went back to the room and I shower. I check online for the others ... something's not right!!?  Next, I get a call from Andrea. She's a captain from Hawaii. She had to pull out do to catastrophic metabolic events. Jenny and Daniel too. Dan's in the HOSPITAL with BG >600.  OMG.  They were worried about me and my measly headache.

We still have 4 runners going strong. It's HOT out there!! 90+ degrees I want to see them finish. We head back down after 6pm, but cannot find a single Triabetes peep. I'm texting and finding they are at the tent, several miles away. UGH. So, we stayed for 2 hrs watching various men and women become an Ironman!! It was fun, but not as fun as seeing Vic, Brian, Christian and Annie finish. But I was fading - I had still done a lot of work that day, and my headache was still hanging around. We ended up leaving, and I went to bed.

In the AM I see that they all finished, with Brian having 10 minutes to spare! Whew!!! There's tons of photos and some video, it makes me choke up. While I was at peace with the events as they unfolded, I was sad I didn't finish. But, I'm not sure I could have. Training for this event, indoors on a trainer, is very difficult. I only got out on my bike once. Jenny had been doing hills since January :(  Not making excuses - this course is not for me. Not living in Cleveland anyway! I'd need to tackle this in September or October, after a summer hammering hills with my CTC peeps.

I had to get my bike dropped off early Sunday, so I did that. I had a finisher sticker for Sarah, the least confident of our group. She did not finish. It's okay though, life goes on, as she will see.  I called Annie -the only woman to finish, and said I'm outside your door - I hate to wake you, but I have something for you, and I'm taking off soon. I want to give it to you. She opened her door and I hugged her. I was so, so, SO impressed with the amazing performance she gave yesterday. She left it all out there and she finished!!  She got the IMSG finisher sticker I bought! I am so proud of Annie Bacon, the vegetarian!! :)  I'm hoping she'll come out to Rev3 with us. I'm trying to bribe her! :)

As for the rest of us, many of us have unfinished business. I'm in for the Rev3 full. Jenny, Andrea and Dan are too! Annie is on the fence. I'm doing my best to push her off the fence and into Cleveland for September!! We've got Vic possibly coming to be a race sherpa. I offered everything I can to help get them out here. I have great local friends that can help me with airport pick-up and transportation, so no one needs to rent a car, and possibly even loaning a bike. I need their sizes then I'll work on securing a bike for those that can't ship theirs. So far, it's looking like Annie might need a bike. I'd give her mine, but she's taller. I need her bike size, then I'll start working on it. I've offered my room to Annie. Me - miss "I need my space" chick!! I hope she comes.  It was an amazing journey. We all did our best so no one has anything to feel bad about ... no one failed. Failure is fear of trying. Or cheating. Or letting self-doubt paralyze you.  My friend Jerry Crabb didn't make the bike cut-off either :(   But, he's in for Rev3. I will be sure we all have Jerry fans there, too!  Jerry Nairn, you, too, are welcome. Rev3 full course is fantastic. I'm SOOOOOO happy it was my first full triathlon!! Let me tell you, Rev3 is NOT a sub-standard experience - this I PROMISE YOU!!!

Onward to the next week - I've got the Cleveland Marathon. I have run this every year (although not mary distance, but the 10k or 13.1 miler) since I was 16 with exceptions of kidney stones and pregnancy. My goal was to use it as a recovery run, but since I never ran at IMSG, I figured I might have a good race.  I was excited!!  I started with the 4:14 race pack. Somehow, I lost them at the 13 mile point.  As usual, my race deteriorated from there. The temps dropped, the rain started, and I found myself cramping.  I kept positive and focused on finishing. I walked VERY LITTLE during this race. I did start getting some pretty intense GI issues around mile 18.  UGH.  But, kept plugging forward.  I finished with a disappointing 5:21. I really don't know how that happened, except to say, I am just NOT putting in enough miles.  That's the honest truth I think.  I was prepared to just eject from the full, and stick with halves, but I think I have unfinished business ... and I'm going to tackle it!! Yesterday I signed up for Columbus Marathon (my favorite!!) and reserved a room. Looking forward to hanging with Elizabeth Kelley and Christen Mills. Liz just might BQ at this race!! If she does, I'm her race sherpa!!

Not surprisingly, I was just EXHAUSTED after Sundays marathon race. I had difficulty driving home, with narcolepsy threatening to kill me! I was cold and wet, yet had the windows downs, A/C blasting, and radio loud. I kept yelling "FOCUS TIFFANY!!"  It was a scary ride home. Once home I collapsed into bed. I've slept most of the past 2 days. GI issues remain. Did you know you can go into a coma ON the toilet. You can! I did. 4 hours!!!  A virtual marathon!! Too bad I can't use THAT time! :)

In summary, I have thoughts. Not so much about the marathon, but about IMSG. 
Most of you supported me and my campaign. I will never be grateful enough for you and your support - Well, I'll be grateful enough, I just don't know that YOU will fully realize how much that meant to me.  As I said, this year was about the JOURNEY. It was a fantastic journey!! I met friends I would have NEVER otherwise met. I met Rachel, Emily, Jodi and Ed - and their presence and meaning in my life cannot be adequately conveyed in mere words. I love them. I value them. Rachel has impacted my life, and probably, me hers, in ways that will remain with me FOREVER!!!   Ed had become a very, very dear friend, mentor, and confidant to me - anything triathlon, anything training, anything logistical, he's never been too busy for me. And trust me, I KNOW how busy he is!!! I love getting to know Jodi better. And Emily - just an amazing person. My kids love Emily and Rachel, and I will work hard to keep them in our lives. I believe that this journey was meant to bring these wonderful people into my life. Our lives. I adore all of them!

The other captains - it's hard for people to understand the bond we formed in such a short period. We are located all across the country, yet I know, in a hot second, I could call each one of them for support, guidance, friendship. For outsiders, it seems too unrealistic, too unlikely that we should have this bond - so intense, so strong. In such a short amount of time. But we do. I wouldn't trade diabetes for a functional pancreas if, for one second, it meant that I didn't get to have this journey. I feel super blessed. Super fortunate. Super lucky to have met these fantastic people whom I love, admire, and who inspire me, every single day, to be a better person, a better diabetic, a better athlete, a better friend, a better mother. I love these people:
Annie Bacon
Andrea Huston
Jenny Crandell
Sarah Hankel
Vic Kinnunen
Daniel Vincent
Christian Chiappe
Jerry Nairn
Brian Phelps
John Moore
Rachel Hoffner
Jodi Hoffner
Emily Hoffner
Ed Slovenkay

I love them with my whole heart. I would do anything for them. I care about them, their families, their lives and loved ones. They have changed my life! It's difficult to understand, unless you've gone through this.

Several weeks back, as I said,  I had a melt down. Poor Ted ... it started out with me being crabby and stressed, and it ended with me having a tantrum. Ted did what I needed him to do. He listened. He heard me. My fear? Failure. That all of YOU that supported me, would be disappointed if I didn't finish IMSG.  I cried. I swore (big surprise!). I threw stuff. Ted didn't know what I needed. Did I need emotional permission to eject from the race? Because, honestly, It crossed my mind!! Did I need encouragement? He saw me train, train, train, knowing I was doing the best I could with the crappy weather we have in Cleveland, Ohio that leaves us little opportunity to actually RUN or RIDE outdoors.  After meltdown concluded, I started to think: what's the worst case scenario? Really, what is it?  It's the DNF.  The dreaded DNF.  But does that mean I FAILED? Nope. It means I didn't finish THAT RACE.  Millions of exceptional and average people DNF.  Why was I so afraid of that???  I then began to see the light. I then felt - no, I then knew, there's a really good chance I can finish this race in 17 hrs.  I began to feel hopeful. I stepped up my training. When we arrived in St. George, I was SURE I was going to finish ... my biggest fear was the cold water. Well, you know how that played out!! I held back and still did 1:15. I think I could do 1:10 or better!!!  Next hurdle, the hills. I figured I do my best and that's all I could do. I was going to spin and climb all freakin' day and if at 5:30 pm I wasn't done, I could live with that.  The crash was an unforeseen incident. If I didn't hit my head, I'd have gotten back on the bike. Truth. Honest truth. I had a mild concussion, but if it was just road rash, I would have gotten back on the bike and kept at it. Although it's unlikely I would have made the cut off. But that would be okay. Seriously. Okay.  We were put in a difficult position when ID chose THAT race for us. This next group? They get a 70.3.  I'm so jealous I could spit nails!!! :)

I had written the following letter to my captains. I asked 3 people to proof it for me ... I got great feedback from them ... I adjusted accordingly, but in the end, I feared that I'd be perceived as the Negative Nancy ... predicting DNF's.  But that wasn't my intention at all. It was to address the elephant in the room!!! No one was talking about it, although we all feared it. I just wanted to put it out there. In hindsight, I wish I had.

Dear Fellow Captains,
Well, it’s here!! We are about to embark upon the finale of our year-long journey by tackling the beast that is Ironman St. George!!
As you know, when I was invited to be a captain, I was amidst a personal crisis, and I very nearly turned the position down. However, my BFF, said quite simply: Do you WANT to do this?  The answer was YES!  So, it was clear: I would tackle the challenge … and at the time, the fundraising portion was the biggest, scariest factor for me, not the Ironman. Well, I’m happy to say, the fundraising challenge has been met, now on to the Ironman!
We each have our own goals for this race, I imagine. For some, it will be to complete 140.6 miles in 17 hrs. To FINISH. That’s a lofty goal, considering we are “regular people” with jobs, family and other commitments. We are not elite athletes with sponsors, coaches and trainers. For others, you may have a specific time goal you’d like to finish the race by. And some of you may have sights on qualifying for Kona! I applaud any, and every, goal – as that’s why we are doing this, partly, to achieve a goal. However, we have had other goals in this journey, and let’s not lose sight of those!  This year – this journey - for me - was probably the single most amazing and inspiring journey of my life. YOU all inspire me. Every. Single. Day!  Because of you, I now take much better care of myself. Because of you, I feel proud to be associated with our charity. I now better understand and sympathize with the challenges of fundraising! Because of you, I’ve met many new friends, and have connected with people also facing the challenges of diabetes, and I will continue to motivate and inspire them to take care of themselves. THAT is what this journey is about, for me.
IMSG is a beast. We got the hardest of the hard. We know it, and, in hind-sight, I’m pretty sure that better judgment would have prevailed in selecting the venue to serve as our finale, if they could do it over. Oh well!  We were excited, yet scared, as we signed up last May, with scary thoughts and grand visions of ourselves doing this race, crossing that finish line on May 7, 2011.  Well, it’s HERE!! We are as ready as we can be and from this point out, it is what it is.
I’m a positive person. I think of the glass as half full, not half empty. But I am also a realist. I face difficult decisions every single day in my profession as a veterinarian. I’m practical, and know that sometimes, difficult decisions need to be made.  I know that, try as I will, there are lots of variables that arise on race day that could throw us for a loop and result in an unexpected course of events.  We’ve done all the hard work, and we look to God, or within, to believe that we will reach our goals on that day.  I envision the race in heat. In cold. In wind. In rain. I mentally prepare to adapt. I can relate this experience to my first pregnancy: (I know, bizarre!) I had planned to deliver naturally, and forego the epidural. However, I was told not to be "married to that plan" in my head, as it may not play out that way on delivery day(s!). I found that advice to be dead “spot-on”. I had plans to cope with the pain. But all that was derailed when I developed pre-eclampsia. Next thing I know, I have 4 IVs and 2 IV poles I had to lug around. I was induced, rather than enter labor naturally. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t use the tub or shower, or use the yoga ball. All of my planned coping skills were not an option anymore.  Nothing went as I had planned! It was a rough ride – 29 hrs – but in the end, I had my healthy, beautiful baby, and I was okay.
That was my segue!  We PLAN our race, but things don’t always go the way we plan. We must adapt. As a veteran IMer, yet still whom I would refer to as a “newbie”, I want to throw out a few things. First off, I stand behind the statement that this race is 50% mental and 50% physical.  How on earth can this be FIFTY PERCENT PHYSICAL? Shouldn’t it be 80% physical??? But no, there are some dark, lonely, scary times out there, during those long hours, usually when you are alone.  During THOSE moments, Ironman is 80% mental!! You question: did I train enough? Why am I doing this? Is the pain too much? Should I stop? I want to stop!
My personal advice? Rate your pain on the 1-10 scale.  If you are feeling pain on the scale of 7 or less, keep plugging away. But if you rate your pain an 8, 9 or 10 … you should seriously STOP. There is NO NEED to do permanent damage.  Blisters dry up. Skin grows back. Chaffing resolves. Road burn heals. But if you tear a cruciate ligament, or knee meniscus, or throw a blood clot, you risk permanent injury, serious issues, including surgery, and possibly the end of the ability to run (which Brian might find attractive!).  It’s not worth it to push through that kind of pain. Be smart! 
Regarding diabetes, I feel fully confident that we are equipped to handle whatever arises in that category. I struggled with hypoglycemia on the run in IMFL and HAD to take a WHOLE coke and a gel every 45 min to keep my BG at 100-esque.  That’s the easy part, for us! The HARD part for us is the fact that maybe, just maybe, on that day, May 7th, it won’t be there for us – to meet cut off times. To finish in under 17 hrs. We need to discuss this. Some of you will say, “no negativity” or “only positive thinking” … well, the REALITY is that you can be as positive as you want – “Mary Poppins positive”, but if you tear a meniscus in your knee, it’s time to stop. If you are vomiting and losing consciousness, it's time to stop. If you cannot get BG above 60 or under 600, it's time to stop. You will know if it’s time. BE SMART. There is NO FAILURE HERE!!   This isn’t about FINISHING IMSG – it’s just not! It’s about the journey here, and addressing the hurdles we encounter, and seeing if it’s insurmountable, or if we can keep plugging on.  I fear that if we don’t make this about the journey, that someone will feel like they’ve failed (namely me! But I'm sure I'm not alone in this fear) … but I HAVEN’T. If I DNF at IMSG … oh well!  But, I will always know that on race day I did my best, and gave it my all. I would hope you would hug me and say “great job”! For me, the only way you are not a success is if you “quit” – curl into the fetal position, and cry like a 4 yr old, feeling sorry for yourself.  Yes, we may be disappointed that we didn’t meet our goal. But hey, did you do your best? Did you give your all? If you did – your race was what it was, but it certainly wasn’t a failure! You have succeeded in what this year was about – the JOURNEY!!  You are NOT a failure, you are an amazing person that I’m proud to know!!  I will struggle with embracing this mentality myself, should I have a catastrophic event. But, I promise I will not be a failure if I cannot finish the race in the constraints of time IM sets. It just wasn’t my day. You move on, you don’t wallow in self-pity. You rejoice in the journey we all took together, and be grateful for what we DO have – maybe not a finisher medal, but SO MUCH MORE!!! 
All that being said, I really, truly, do feel that each one of us WILL meet our personal goals on May 7th!  I envision my finish, in the darkness of the late hours of the night, and I will pull out a finish under 17 hrs! And I’ll be so happy for myself, and for all of you. I BELIEVE that!! Please know that I am just as nervous as all of you are. We all hope for the day we’ve worked hard for. We pray it comes together and we reach our personal goal. Knowing how challenging this course is, will make finishing that much sweeter. But if IMSG beats me … I can handle that! Don’t feel sorry for me. I haven’t failed.  It’s like having a sundae (yum!!) and not getting the cherry on top. Eh, so what. It’s still a damned good sundae!!!  And it’s an experience I will never forget, never regret and always cherish – good, bad, and ugly!!!
Speaking for myself, I am excited … and scared! I will say honestly that I don’t feel as prepared for this race as I have for past races  … and I can’t really explain why! I’m not injured. I trained. I envision a finish, which is my personal goal. But I think I’m on the brink of burn out, personally. I have been training for an IM (one of 4!) for over 2 yrs now! I’m thinking 70.3 and Olys look appealing right now!
Okay peeps, that’s my “speech” … please know that I AM NOT NEGATIVE … and I’m not foreshadowing a DNF or a catastrophic event. I’m just saying the words that no one wants to speak … the possibility that on that day, things won’t go as planned.  It’s not the end of the world. Life goes on, and we are all WINNERS!!!!
Love and hugs,

I never sent this ... and I wish I had.

I heard of an athlete who was so scared of "failure" that he was paralyzed of going home a failure, without a finisher medal. That athlete, a good person, by all accounts, made the very poor decision to get that medal at all costs. He, in the depths of fear, despair, and shame, chose to cheat the course. He cut a loop of the course. He made the very poor decision to cheat, all to get that medal. The medal wasn't earned. The medal was a lie. Rather than go home and say: "I did my best, but I didn't make the cutoff time", he had a medal and was allowing people to think he DID conquer IMSG. Who really knows, maybe, just maybe, he WOULD have made the cut off?? But, instead, he made the morally, ethically and legally wrong decision to CHEAT. That cheating reflects his character. That cheating is WAY harder to face, than not finishing IMSG. Well, people found out. It wasn't hard - he was out of the water late and the time for the first loop of the mountain foreshadowed him not making the bike cut off. So, in the dark hours of the race, he made a very poor, very wrong, decision to cheat and try to pull off a "victory". He made a mistake. He didn't kill anyone. He harmed his reputation, his character, he let down all of those that believed in him. I sincerely doubt ANYONE would have been disappointed in his DNF, but rather would hug him and say, good try buddy - you did your best. But, instead, he is facing judgement of character. Facing the admission that he chose to cheat and take a finisher medal. He can publicly blame a technically confusing bike area, but, truth is, everyone KNOWS that the conscious decision to cheat was made. No one wants to further embarrass him. No one wants to have him feel that he's not worth forgiveness. I forgive him. I know how terrified he was of failure. I should add that his profession is working in the athletic and coaching industry,  and has a degree in sports medicine and kinesiology.  He coaches several people. That puts enormous pressure on him. I understand that. But if he would understand that just attempting IMSG is a brave step, and a DNF, for whatever reason, is nothing to feel shame for. Cheating is. Ironic how the latter decision has much more far-reaching implications, much more psychological issues, much more need to own his decision and ask for forgiveness, than the DNF would have! People make poor choices a lot - sometimes it's more public. Look at all the pro athletes that have had to publicly admit using steroids or blood doping. Look at Tiger Woods' cheating. Millions of people cheat, yet, he was held to a higher standard due to his public image. This young man felt that a DNF would bring him shame and failure. Ironically, it would not have ... in any way!!! Ironically, the choice to cheat will snowball and have long-lasting implications, as he will always have that decision to cheat and lie attached to him. Those that love him, and know him, will understand. Will not condone, but will forgive. We should forgive. It reflects the immaturity of this young man. I look at is as a leaning moment and a teaching moment. What if this was YOUR son?  You would never condone his horrible decision, but you WOULD for give him. He'd need to come clean and OWN his bad choice. Be contrite, not indignant. Throw himself out there, under the bus, totally own what he did. Use the difficult words "I chose to cheat. I am profoundly sorry for that terrible decision. I beg your forgiveness and I see now, that what I did was FAR worse than the feared DNF".  People that love you, will continue to love you. That's what unconditional love is.

Character is what you do when no one is looking.  I try to model the behavior I want my children to have. And I'll love them when they mess up.

So, there's my two-fer, which, more accurately is like a six-fer I think. :)
Thanks for hanging with me. Thanks for loving me and supporting me. Thank you for everything - you all mean so very much to me. I've said it before. I say it often. I believe it in my heart: I am blessed. Oh, and as a final though, NOT an afterthought, I want to thank my husband, Ted, who has renewed his commitment to me, and to my happiness and helps me out in so very many ways, I would certainly do a disservice by listing them, and omitting something, so, suffice it to say, THANK YOU - your support and commitment to me, triathlon, and the hours away I spend from you and our family, I am deeply grateful! You've been truly amazing!!

Love, Tiff


  1. Well done and well get ready for Rev3!!!


  2. This is a GREAT post Tiffany! I wish I could make myself write mine...just can't. So much to say, and no time to give it the focus it deserves yet. But, I will say I absolutely love and adore you, and you're right - I wouldn't trade the betes for anything because it brought me to all you amazing people. Thank you for EVERYTHING! Ilove you!

  3. Great blog! Following you now. Check out my blog: hope to get to meet you soon to run.