Thursday, May 11, 2017

Life is a journey. Not a destination.

I've always believed the mind quits before the body will. However, on Saturday, October 8 I proved myself wrong. I was sick. I started the race throwing up on the bike and continued to push and repeat to myself “I have more” and “It's not over till it's over”. It ended up being over in T2 when I collapsed and ended up being wheeled into the medical tent.

A week out from the race and I was ready!
I still get a stomach ache just thinking about that day…its hard.  I’m not a quitter.  I’m a fighter.  To have been there on the Island and not crossed the finish line is hard on my heart.  Life is full of ups and downs.  We all have to take the good, the bad, and the ugly and decide how we are going to handle those situations.  We may not have a choice, in the cards we are dealt, but we 100% have a choice in how we react and what we do with those cards.

The race didn't go as planned and my goal was to empty the tank in the lava fields which I guess I can say I did. I just thought the emptying of the tank would happen during the marathon and not the bike portion of the race. Looking back at the situation I should have stopped in Hawi, at the bike turnaround, and figured things out.  Which probably meant stopping at a first aid tent to let my stomach settle and try to hydrate myself. After all, we get 17 hours to finish, but when I was racing the idea of slowing or even stopping wasn't even an option for me. My goal was to give it everything I had until there was no more to give.

Lee, of course, making sure he captures the
moment of me being hand delivered to him. 
I’m a strong willed determined person. It is one of my favorite characteristics about myself. However, it was that personality trait which got me in trouble on race day.  When I really realized what happened and I knew my race was over and I was sitting in the medical tent… first, I was mad and then sad.  I sat there in tears and thought...Did I eat something weird? Did I not rest properly? I still don’t know exactly what happened.  They thought in the medical tent I was probably sick in the morning (which I chalked up to race day nerves) and then pushed myself into severe dehydration.

I had a couple of choices sitting there mad at myself, the volunteers, the world….
I could go back to the hotel room and think poor me. I got sick out on the course, DNF, and I never crossed the finish line.  OR I could be thankful nothing serious is wrong with me and I have the opportunity to make the most out of the situation I’m in and go cheer for the amazing MN athletes out on the course. 

Sara and I had many lovely coffee dates on the Island.
AND...she is one of those amazing MN athletes
who had a fantastic day!
So that is what Lee and I did.  He had a moped and knew all the backroads to get out on the course. I’m not going to lie.  It was hard.  I put on a smile and tried to make the most out of the rest of the day.  The thing was I physically felt good after the meds and fluids I received in the med tent.  It was my ego that hurt the most. 
I love this pic!  His beard was so long then.  

These are our serious cheering faces.
Life is most definitely a journey and not a destination. The more we can learn from our adventures, our triumphs, and our failures the more we are getting to experience in life.  The ironman triathlon journey has always been very personal to me. I've always set out to be better than I was the last time. Those results can't always be measured by a time clock or a place on the podium. The accomplishment of being better than I was the time before comes from within. It is a feeling and no amount of data can ever prove that. We are each our own person and have our very own unique journey and battles within. In my opinion it all comes down to dreaming big dreams, setting goals, taking risks and being brave.

I’ve learned to be open to change as I've grown older. The moments when we feel uncomfortable are the moments when we are growing the most. In training when we are pushing past that comfort zone we are making ourselves become stronger and faster. In life when we push ourselves outside of our comfort zone we are growing and expanding our horizons. If we are unwilling to change and not open ourselves up to the possibility of change, we are putting the brakes on and closing ourselves off from a world of opportunities and possibilities.


 Dream Big Dreams!



5 of my favorite people at one of our favorite camping spots last summer.
Who doesn't love a first day of school picture?? 







Saturday, July 30, 2016

Finally...Part 4 (and IM Canada info)





"If you work for it... you can do it!"
Wes

Wes and I in Cabo
Sometimes it can be the simplest words of advice which mean the most.  One day driving in the car with Wes talking about my goal of qualifying at Ironman Canada for the World Championships he simply says…If you work for it, Mom, you can do it.  Well I decided right in the car that day…we would be going back to Kona.

Yep, that’s right… I’m still a triathlete.  I’m pretty sure it's in my DNA or something because each time I say I’m walking away and I completely plan on walking away (selling my bike and all my gear) I find myself at another starting line.  We were having pizza (of course) as a family and one of my boys says, "Remember when Mom was done racing”.  We all laughed.  Yes, I know….I’m a broken record.
Part 4....

Part 4 of my blog after Ironman Wisconsin 2015 never came because I wasn't ever really sure about what my "next big thing" was going to be. In reality I want each day to be treated like "my next big thing". I’m working towards being present in the moment and not planning my life away. It sounds so simple but it's easier said than done for me. I know me...I like a full plate, having goals, moving, loving, living....
At times I feel if I stand still life is going to pass me by.  I just want to experience as much as I can with the people I love as often as I can. 

It was May 17th when I decided to race Ironman Canada…about 9 weeks out.  I am so fascinated by the human body and mind. We are capable of so much more than we realize.  We have to dream big and believe in ourselves and then willing to work hard.  I think one of the things I love most about triathlon, especially Ironman racing, is the dedication it takes and the mental part of race day.  No matter what…it’s going to hurt; you’re going to want to quit at some point, and you’re going to question why the hell you are doing this right now at this moment. 
A racer needs to be able to answer that question on race day because there is no doubt you will question yourself more than once. 

I was given a great opportunity from Triple Threat Triathlon and Argon 18 bikes this last year. When it was time for the team (Triple Threat Triathlon) to place their bike orders I declined since I was obviously not racing... I had sold my TT bike.
Then winter turned to spring and I would find myself falling asleep at night thinking about climbing the mountains in BC, Canada. I would find myself imagining what it would be like running through the marathon course in Whistler while I was out running on the trails at home. First it started with me wanting to go watch the race, then it went to “I might as well do the 70.3 to learn the course for next year” and lastly it turned into... “Hell... Why not just do the whole thing and try to get back to Kona...that would be a fun challenge!”

All of these thoughts and coming to the conclusion of actually doing the race happened with no training since September and no bike.  Anyone who knows me knows that it was just a matter of time with my brain going from watching the race to earning a world championships slot for Kona.

Training:
They always make me smile!
One of the many things I’ve learned getting ready for an Ironman is…Don't force it... If it's a constant struggle then let it go or put it on the back burner until the fire comes back. Life is too short to be struggling through training sessions and/or not doing what you love.  After big IM races where I've poured my heart and soul into the race; where I've raced like it’s the last one I'm going to do…I need to walk away for a while. After Kona it was almost a year before I did another triathlon. This year there were zero thoughts of triathlon or IM until March and then it was just thoughts until months later in mid-May when I signed up.

This time around my training was different to say the least.  I showed up in Whistler the most laid back I have ever been leading into an Ironman.  My training was pretty much fueled on cookies and pizza.  I promised my family I wasn’t going to be rigid with my training and sometimes I think they wondered if I was taking the race serious enough.

Family dinners are the best!
Old Blue
I have to love her. She was my very first bike I ever bought back in 2003.  I sold her a few years ago to only buy her back last year. She is the one I spent the majority of my time preparing for IM Canada with. A fancy new TT bike is for sure nice and I now have one, but there is something to be said for keeping it real and working on the engine.

Old Blue
I’ve never had a coach and still choose to write my own training. For me, my ever changing plan is a constant work of art…trying to get in my sessions around Lee and the boys and making sure I’m working on my weaknesses.  There are a few simple principles I apply to my training.  One is… when things are easy and comfortable there is no challenge. No growth. It's all about choices and choosing to work harder and smarter.  As I’ve aged in the sport I’ve learned harder isn’t always the best method.  Being smart and efficient is key to being successful.  Second, I remind myself being purposeful and mindful of my consistent actions will pay off. Third, getting to the winning/qualifying/succeeding part isn't always fun. There are days when it's hard ass work. It takes doing things that other aren't willing to do. It takes making sacrifices others won’t. That's what it takes. It just doesn't happen.  I don’t consider myself a gifted athlete by any means.  I never played a day of any college sport or even played a sport my senior year of high school.  One thing I do have is passion and one thing I am really good at is being a hard worker.

Race Goals:
#1 goal (same goal for my races) is – Don’t give up on myself.  No Regrets.  I have 100% control over this and remind myself of it many times throughout the day.  “Just keep moving forward”
#2 a Kona slot (winning my AG).  There isn’t as much control here because I have no idea who will show up or what may happen to me with my bike and other issues which are out of my control.
#3 win (overall).  There were no pro women racing at Canada this year and there needs to be an overall winner.  Why can’t it be me?


Swim:
The swim venue is gorgeous.  I came down on Thursday morning before the race to swim and was in awe of the view.  British Columbia is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited.   The water was clean, calm, and chilly (63 degrees), but not as cold as I had anticipated. I loved my goggles.  I’ve been wearing the same style of googles for years (Aquasphere Kaiman).  They never disappoint me so why change.  No fogging at all the whole race!
I wore a long sleeve wetsuit – Maverick Pro from Roka (AMAZING).  I have never liked long sleeve wetsuits, but seriously this one is so comfortable and the shoulder mobility is great.  I highly recommend it if you are looking for a long sleeve wetsuit.
New this year at IM Canada was a rolling start vs. a mass start.  I thought it was super nice in terms of the chaotic starts of all my previous Ironmans.  The problem is you really don’t know how far someone else is in front of you or behind you as the day goes on.  When you’re racing for a world championships slot it’s important to know where you are within your age group.

I really don’t know what to say about my swim…it was pretty uneventful and I felt I would be coming out of the water around the 1:25 mark, but then again I always feel like that…I just don’t work hard when I’m swimming.  It’s just a steady swim the whole way.  I have been working on finding feet during the swim instead of avoiding them.  So I was happy to see my swim time was 1:11.  Not bad for me!

Bike:
Everything was in kilometers.  I think I spent a large portion of my time on the bike and run doing math conversions to figure out what mile I was at or how many miles to go.  I don’t race with a GPS watch…just a standard watch – no bells or whistles.  I don’t race with power and I set my Garmin screen to only tell me my time, mph, and average mph.  The less data I know the more I listen to my body. 
I am so proud of myself and this bike ride.  Not because of my time, but because I didn’t CRASH.  For real… I had only rode this bike a handful of times and only one time outside before getting to Canada and that was before I met with Chris Balser to make adjustments to my fit.  On Friday morning before the race I got on it and rode for about 30 minutes.  I couldn’t get aero going down some of the rollers around Whistler and I seriously thought…how the heck I am going to get aero going down a mountain!? On Saturday I took it out gain and felt a little better.   

The course is so beautiful!!  I did make sure I took in the views and reminded myself how fortunate I was to be able to be in BC riding this bike on this course.  I liked the climbing.  No, I really loved the climbing!  Going down was fun too, but being in my easiest gear and grinding up some of those climbs was epic.  There was a flat section close to the end of the ride which was a nice change.  I was averaging 21.4 mph with only about 20-30kilomters back to T2 and was thinking…WOW I’m having a great bike ride.  Then the final climb back to Whistler came and it was hard to get over 12mph. The road would “look” like it was downhill, but obviously we would be climbing. 

My bike time was 5:36…slower than I wanted, but I think it was one of the fastest women’s bike splits of the day.

Run:
I was a hurting unit when I got off my bike.  My glutes didn’t want to run 26.2 miles.  It was so awkward I remember laughing and almost tripping on my feet because I couldn’t lift them off the ground.  The feeling went away by mile 2 and I had a few people tell me I was the #2 girl.  Sweet!!

There is nothing like Ironman Wisconsin and the crowd support on that run course.  Canada was stunning, beautiful, challenging and I don’t want to take anything away from the course…but IM Wisconsin really knows how to put a race on!
The run had changing terrain from woodchips, gravel, asphalt, to running across a wooden bridge.  There were several times I said to myself, “I’m never doing another one of these!”  They are HARD and it really takes a positive mental head to keep moving forward and get to the finish line. 
My run was my slowest IM marathon to date at 3:48, but that’s ok.  When I knew I was secure with my overall AG win I knew there was no reason to dig myself into a whole out on the run.  My real goal is going as fast as I can in Kona. 

Nutrition:
Breakfast: 2am I had some sourdough bread with nut butter and strawberry jam and another with nut butter, honey, ½ banana all washed down with some Blue Monkey coconut water. (back to bed)

4:30am: Woke up and had coffee on my way to shuttle to swim start

Pre-race 6:30am: Vespa and 10 grams master amino pattern (MAP)

Out of T1 heading to my bike a Gu Peanut butter

On my bike: I had 2 bottles of EFS liquid shot and some Bonk Breaker chews.  I only had my aero bottle for water and used the aid stations to fill up.  On the top of each hour (approximately) I would take in about 5 grams of MAP (master amino pattern).  That was it – very simple.

Out of T2: Vespa and put more MAP in my back pocket.

The run: I had coke and water at each aid station and then MAP around the 1 hour and 2 hour mark

My nutrition has become very simple and I find less is more for me.  No gut issues or bathroom stops.  The best part is I’m able to eat at the end of the race.  Years ago I use to be sick for days and would take a few days for my appetite to come back to normal.  I no longer have those issues.  I think a large part of it has to do with my choices of calories during the race.

Bags: My T1 and T2 bags are very simple and I don’t use the special needs bags anymore.  Less is more for me and less I need to deal with.

Post-race plans:
Take it easy here for a bit and ease back into swimming then biking and lastly running. We have a fun August planned with camping at our favorite remote campsite and a trip on a houseboat. So training will be strategic with my big focus coming September.   I really need to work on my swim and have already had a session this week with a great swim coach...David Cameron.  My bike fit needs tweaking and I have a new seat ordered.  I plan to work on my bike speed a bit and spend time with some focused run sessions.  I’m excited what I can do in 9 weeks! 

Race Sherpas.... They say it takes a village to raise a child. I'm pretty sure it takes a village to get a triathlete to the finish line of an Ironman triathlon. There are so many people who have helped me along the way from Chris Balser with my bike fit, Patrick at Trailblazers doing a quick last minute bike build, Seth my amazing chiropractor who keeps me healthy, Joleen for kicking my ass each week at yoga sculpt…gosh I love ya girl, Matt who finds an open space to squeeze in a massage for me, friends who check-in with me and my training and always know when to send that text of motivation... Sarah Simpson, Jan Handlos, Steph Ettermen, Sara Carlson, Amy Lewica, Eric Carder, Mike Mckonkey, Sean Kaneski, Travis Miller, and Josh Duda to name a few. Thanks friends!!

Family... I love my family. How lucky did I get to be the youngest of 12 kids?  My siblings are some of the craziest hardest working people I know. I’m so happy to call all of them my family.

Donna, Mom, and Mel...my race sherpas
My mom and two of my sisters (Melonee and Donna) made the trip with me to Canada.  They were so supportive and helpful leading up to the race.  Thank you! Thank you!

My person….My most important person. The one when I see a beautiful sunrise and taste the most amazing cookie or hear the craziest story...the first person I can’t wait to share the moment with is Lee. He is my person. We have been an amazing team for over 20 years raising our 5 boys and we keep dreaming big dreams together. So even though I'm always trying to climb another mountain and find that next big challenge I'm never doing it alone and I always make sure Lee is onboard. Heck, he loves travel as much as I.

Love what you do. Live what you love friends.

Team Andres is Kona Bound!! Watch out Big Island I have 5 boys looking to rent some mopeds.
Team Andres from Kona 2013...look how they have grown!




Handsome Mitch on his way to prom


Gavin and I :)





Gavin, Wyatt, and Riley
Gavin fishing