And so it begins!

I’m impulsive and impatient. I’m a dreamer, and I’m dedicated. This deadly combo forced me to hit the register button on the IRONMAN Wisconsin website (after many attempts to talk myself into waiting until 2017). It’s taking chances and following dreams that makes life interesting, right?

An IRONMAN? Like 140.6 miles? 

On September 11, 2016, I’ll jump into Lake Monona with 2,500 of my closest friends. In a mass start, we’ll swim 2.4 miles across the lake. Then, we’ll head out on a very hilly 112 mile ride through Dane County. As if this isn’t enough fun, we’ll finish the race with a 26.2 mile run!

Why in the world would you do this to yourself?

Good question. Just kidding! I have my reasons…

A. There is something amazing about proving to yourself that you can accomplish the ‘impossible’. Our bodies are capable of so much more than we think. Might as well put them to the test!

B. I’m a better person when my life is tied to a goal. I watch what I eat, sleep 8 hours a night and find an inner calm that I lack without training. (I’m probably just too tired to think after long runs and rides…)

C. I want to be in shape for our upcoming nuptials! What better way to get me out of bed on a cold winter morning than an Ironman looming over my head? A family friend told me to ‘just do a sit-up’, but I think Ironman training will be far more effective!

D. I was told I need to have surgery on both feet to correct my very crooked bones.  I’ve always known I had bad feet, but I was shocked to see the x-rays. Doc advised I have surgery soon to avoid a more invasive procedure in the future. This would mean 8+ weeks of no running per foot. I don’t remember the last time I’ve gone a full week without running, so it was sad news. I told doc that I would be getting married and completing an Ironman, then we could chat. His eyes widened, but he agreed to see me next October after the race.

Are you nervous?

Yes yes and yes. I’m terrified.

The Ironman Wisconsin course happens to be one of the toughest races. (I’m not making this up.) Total elevation gain on the bike is 6,156 feet! For a gal that trains on flat country roads, this stat is scary. It looks like there will be a few trips to Madison in my future!

The fear of failure can be debilitating, so I’m going to do my best to approach this experience with confidence. I might be nervous, but I will make it to that finish line.

Are you excited?

Beyond ecstatic.

Watching total strangers cross the finish line of Ironman Wisconsin 2015 brought me to tears. The joy (and pain…) on their faces told the story of months of hard work. Their lives were forever changed. They were Ironmen!

I know that I have a long road of tough training and sacrifice ahead, but it will be worth it when I become an Ironman.

Thank you to everyone that has been supportive of my crazy decision. I truly appreciate the encouragement!

Excited to share my journey with you! XO

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Ironman 70.3 Racine Recap

I’m officially a half IRON(wo)MAN! What?!

Crossing the finish line of the IRONMAN 70.3 Racine was such a happy moment.

I usually try to keep recaps short and sweet, but this puppy is going to be lengthy. My apologies in advance to the few people (ahem, Mom) that feel obligated to read my entire post.

Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

Pre-race

I was a ball of nerves last Saturday, so I was up and on my bike at the crack of dawn. After a quick cruise around the neighborhood, I impatiently waited for Daniel to get ready. (Sorry, Daniel.)

Once in Racine, we went to IRONMAN Village for packet pickup and the course talk. Everything was well organized and we were in and out in no time! We then headed to transition to drop off Lady Bug the bike.

With pre-race prep out of the way, we headed out to drive the bike course. Once in the middle of nowhere Racine, WI, our phones buzzed with emergency alerts. There was a tornado warning in the area, and we were advised to take cover immediately. I nearly lost my mind in my already fragile state. Thankfully Daniel was able to find the closest gas station. I was able to breathe again and he was able to stop listening to me panic. Win, win.

The night ended with a yummy sushi dinner with Daniel’s step sister and brother-in-law. (Veggie sushi is my must have pre-race meal.)

Race Day

I woke up to a sunny, still day. Thank you IRONMAN gods! We arrived to transition for body marking and final set up around 5:30, and I was content with my transition set up by 6. The following hour felt like a year; the anticipation was getting the best of me. Daniel listened to me ramble and continued to assure me everything would be fine. (Thanks, Daniel.)

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Pre-race photo op.

About 45 minutes before my wave start, we ventured down to the beach for a warm up swim. And by ‘warm up’, I mean try not to freeze your a** off and get used to the 60 degree water. I wasn’t a bit worried about this temp until I spoke to a fellow racer that told me the scariest tale of getting hypothermia during last year’s race. Um, what? I know she didn’t mean any harm, and I give her credit for returning. But this was questionably the worst thing you could say to a nervous newbie! Fortunately, my wetsuit kept me nice and toasty, and I had no problem with the chilly water.

Beautiful day for a 6 hour race. Gulp.

Beautiful day for a 6+ hour race. Gulp.

Swim – 1.2 miles 

As we waited in our wave, I engaged in some small talk to keep me from throwing up/passing out/dying. However, once we got into the water, all 106 of us were silent. We waited in waist-deep water for about 1 minuted before we heard the ’60 second’ countdown. I put my head in my hands and contemplated crying, but I pulled it together when the horn signified it was go time.

And we’re off!

It took me about 10 strokes to get in my groove. I choked on some water, treaded water, and tried to get the hang of the waves. The sun’s reflection off the water was extremely bright the first 300 meters, so that didn’t help matters either! I intentionally stayed to the outside left of the pack, as I decided it would save me the stress of getting kicked and punched. (I highly recommend this if you are a newbie!) Buoys were placed along the course, and I used these as my focal point. I repeated to myself over and over, “one buoy at a time.” Finally, I saw the red buoy signifying it was time to make a turn towards shore. I swam until I was about waist deep, and began to run towards the swim exit. I had survived the first hurdle. Yeah! Swim time:  40 minutes

As I ran to transition, there was a line of lovely volunteer wetsuit strippers. They advised me to sit on the ground and yanked my wetsuit off in seconds. This process would have taken me much longer, and I was so appreciative of their help!

After a quick drink and change of shoes, I headed out on the bike.

Bike – 56 miles

The bike course started with a fairly steep hill. Lady Bug was set in her easy gear and ready to tackle this first step. We made it to the top without a wipeout (whew!) and headed on our way.

Let me start by saying Racine’s roadways are not in the best condition. IRONMAN staff did a great job of calling attention to potential hazards with orange paint, but sometimes the entire road was orange! This made for an extremely bumpy ride. My training had consisted of smooth country roads, so it took me a few miles to get used to the constant bumps. Between the road conditions and bike congestion, I was moving painfully slow the first 10 miles. I gave myself a pep talk, forcing myself to be more aggressive, and began passing when it was safe.

My goal was to finish the bike in 3 hours and 30 minutes, but I finished in 3:01. I stuck to my nutrition plan and felt great as I headed for the run.

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Run – 13.1 miles

The run consisted of two loops throughout Racine’s neighborhoods. It began with an intimidating hill (womp!). My grand plan  was to walk through the aid stations (1 per mile), and run the rest of the course. It was a scorcher by this point in the day, so I made sure to hydrate and take-in my fuel every. single. mile. I kept my spirits up until mile 8 when I was feeling a bit down. My legs were so tired and I was running out of gas. Thankfully, a little running angel showed up to push me through. (Shoutout to Mary from Chattanooga!) She’s competing in her first full IRONMAN in a few months, so we geeked out about triathlon for a couple miles. Before we knew it we were a half mile from the finish.

As I headed towards the chute, I couldn’t stop smiling! It was one of the best feelings to hear my name as I crossed that finish line. All of those months of hard work were worth it in that moment. Run time:  2:20

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Overall time:  6:13:45. My goal was 7 hours, so I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. I loved everything about this race. Part of me was hoping to be content with finishing one IRONMAN 70.3, but it’s only left me hungry for more. I’m afraid there’s only one place to go from here… 🙂 (Sorry, Daniel.)

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*A huge THANK YOU to my fiance for all of your support and encouragement, to the amazing volunteers and IRONMAN staff that made the day possible and to the residents of Racine that cheered us on and shared their sprinklers!

What a great day!

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Obligatory beer and medal photo.

If you made it all the way down here, thanks for reading! XO

It’s Race Weekend!

…And just like that, I’m one day away from diving into Lake Michigan for a casual 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run.

Seven months ago, I began my half Ironman journey when I made the irrational decision to hit the submit button on Active.com. I had survived two triathlons the previous summer and figured it made perfect sense to race double the distance. (Warning:  Ironman 70.3 races seem more appealing in the dead of winter, whilst one dreams of summer days, than when the race is staring you in the face.) Maybe, maybe not kidding. 

The day after securing my spot, I jumped into the pool for my first swim in months. I struggled through 50 meters and was out of breath. I questioned my endurance.

I joined CompuTrainer classes to help my cycling game. An hour felt like a year, and I was certain my booty couldn’t sit on that rock of a seat any longer. I questioned my strength.

As spring (read:  above freezing temps) started to roll in, I began my long runs outside. The cold hurt my ears and lungs, and I felt like quitting more times than one. I questioned my drive.

But I never gave up.

I read this quote from Chrissie Wellington (4 time Ironman World Champion) and thought it was fitting for everyone focused on a big race:

Everyone gets nervous before a race–it’s human. I would be worried about any athlete that didn’t. It’s a sign of how much we care. The key is to trust in your preparation. You have done all you can, so focus on that fact. You will remain the same person before, during, and after the race, so the result, however important, will not define you. The journey is what matters.

And what a journey it has been. A whole lot of early mornings, rainy rides and runs, three flats and two wipeouts have led me to this weekend.

I’m so excited to see what this Ironman 70.3 thing is all about. It might not be pretty, but I’m determined to cross that finish line with a smile (crawling counts).

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend! I hope to have a recap (filled with happy memories!) up next week.

Have a great weekend!

Meredith

ET Batavia Triathlon Recap

Ever since I was little, I’ve been afraid of storms. I’ve come a long way from hiding in the basement when the wind blows, but the threat of severe weather still freaks me out. The last place I want to be with a humongous black cloud overhead is in a wetsuit about to jump into a quarry. But guess where I was this morning? In a wetsuit about to jump into a quarry. I debated skipping the race, but I paid $85 for this thang I’m no quitter.

Where's Waldo? This pic is blurry, but I thought it was pretty funny. You can see the fear through my smile. Haha!

Where’s Waldo? This pic is blurry, but I thought it was pretty funny. You can see the fear through my smile. Haha!

Swim – 400 meters

Before the race, I was standing by some big dogs in transition who declared they weren’t wearing wetsuits. I agreed that a wetsuit was silly for an eight minute swim…then I started shivering. I made a last-minute decision to wear the wetsuit, and holy smokes, I’m glad I did.

With storm systems in the area, race officials delayed the 6:30am start for an hour. By the time I entered the water, I was stiff and had forgotten how cold it felt two hours before. The initial chill took my breath away, and I struggled to calm down. The swim route was supposed to be 2 laps around the quarry. (Side note- One side was so shallow everyone had to walk. Weird.) Unfortunately, swimmers were pulled from the water due to lightening, so I only finished one lap. I was bummed to have missed the second lap, but safety is most important. I thought the race was over, but thankfully a nice man yelled, “Go get your bike!” The swim was called off, but the rest of the race could proceed as planned.

Bike – 14.7 miles

When I got to transition after the swim, everything was soaked. I threw on my wet cycling shoes and helmet and headed to the bike out area. Despite the pouring rain, the ride was awesome. There were a few rolling hills, but it was mostly flat, smooth roads. Riders were pretty spread out on the course…until I ran into my competition at mile 7. We were about the same pace; I was faster on the flat stretches and he zoomed past me on downhills. (I’m a cautious rider, especially on wet roads.) After passing one another 5 times, we were cracking up and joked that we would finish 1 and 2. My pace was 18.7 mph. Considering the conditions, I’ll take it!

Run – 4.1 miles

Making it to the run is always a relief. The tough parts are over, and I’ve officially made it to the last event. In T2, I put on some dry socks, my running shoes and headed out…with my helmet on. Luckily I caught myself before leaving the transition area. Whew! That would have been a funny site to see. The run was along the Fox River on the Kane County Fox River Trail. It was a  lovely route- scenic and shaded. There were beautiful houses along the river, and gazing at them kept my mind off the fact that my legs wanted to fall off. My pace was 8:47/mile. This is almost 1:40/mile faster than my comfortable pace!

All smiles (I think?) as I near the finish line.

All smiles as I near the finish line. Photo courtesy of my fiancé. He was such a trooper to wake up at 4am and stand in the rain all morning. I’m one lucky gal.

My thoughts?

Aside from the storm clouds, cold water and rain, I really enjoyed this race. It was well organized, the volunteers were great (and such troopers for being in the rain for hours!), and the post-race party had delicious food (priorities, people). I do wish there was a different option for the swim but understand swimming locations are limited. I’ll definitely be back again next year…Hopefully on a sunny day!

Proof that I survived!

Proof that I survived!

Hope you all had a good weekend!

Soldier Field 10-Miler Recap

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I loathe winter. There is nothing pleasant about snow, cold, ice, or my attitude during those silly months. When summer days roll around, one would think I’ve never seen the sun. I can barely contain my excitement when temps are above 70 degrees.

The Soldier Field 10-miler just happened to be on one of the first glorious days of summer. I’d never done the race, but I signed up thanks to the recommendation of friends. I was planning to run 10 miles for my half Ironman training this weekend, so it was perfect timing. It’s always more fun to run with friends (and have a beer waiting for you at the end).

My two cents on the race…

The Good

Umm…Everything? Seriously, this was a great race.

  • Parking was free and close to the race start. I exited the parking garage and there was my corral! Magic.
  • There was a nice tribute prior to race start honoring the fallen men and women that have served our country.
  • We were in Corral 8, but we only waited about 15 mins before go time. For the numbers of runners, I was impressed by the short wait time.
  • For the first 4.5 miles, we headed south on Lakeshore Drive. There’s something cool about running on this always-busy highway.
  • Heading to the finish line on Soldier Field felt awesome. I was smiling from ear to ear when I ran under the tunnel and onto the field.
  • Military personal were giving out the medals after the race. Many finishers were shaking their hands and thanking them for their service. It was moving, and one of the best race finishes of my life.
  • Post race beverage was 312. ‘Nuff said.
The finish line! Geesh I am really a sad photographer (but you get the point). It's ON Soldier Field, and that is neat.

The finish line! Geesh I am really a sad photographer. But you get the point. It’s ON Soldier Field, and that is neat.

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Two of my favorite people! Only a few more weeks until summer marathon training begins. Looking forward to spending every Saturday morning with them!

The Bad

As we were heading south on Lakeshore Drive, I noticed a few runners heading north on the Lakefront path. I told my friends that it didn’t look too congested…then I realized those speedsters were the elite pack. Ahh, someday. Maybe. Probably not. For the other 99% of the runners, the path was tight. I was dodging people the final 4 miles. One path and 10,000+ people. Yeah. Tight squeeze. I realize it would be difficult to keep LSD closed for the whole race, but I would love to see an alternative, more spacious route in future years.

The Ugly – Nothing at all!

Overall, I was impressed with this race and will certainly run it again. My average pace per mile was 10:16. Not my fastest race ever, but I finished strong and felt great.

Hope you all had a great weekend! Happy Memorial Day. XO

Why We Tri

I cried the first time I swam in Lake Michigan. Literally. The waves were huge, and that shit is scary. I stood on the beach- wetsuit on, arms crossed, debating if I should quit this whole triathlon thing before I start.

Daniel came across this pic tonight. I wasn't lying, guys!

Daniel came across this pic tonight. I wasn’t lying, guys!

Two triathlons later, I’m signed up for 4 new races. (The first is in 3 weeks!) It’s hard to imagine life without the sport.

IRONMAN and Women for Tri recently launched the WHY campaign, which is “aimed at focusing on what triathlon adds to your life, not its perceived “barriers.” Source

In short, IRONMAN and Women for Tri want to know the reasons WHY women compete.

I seriously dig a good marketing campaign, and long bike rides give me a significant amount of time to talk to myself reflect. Here’s my WHY:

It’s a ‘face your fears’ kind of thing. I feel empowered by accomplishing training goals that once seemed unrealistic. I’m getting stronger each week and becoming a more confident version of myself. Triathlon has sparked new goals and dreams and a passion that gets me out of bed in the morning.

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” Oprah

Loving life at the Chicago Triathlon.

Loving life at the Chicago Triathlon.

XO

I Hate Losing

My last name is McLuckie, and I tend to be a lucky person (knock on wood). My luck took a turn for the worst on April 28 when myself, along with 30,000+ Chicago Marathon lottery entrants, had a stint of very bad luck.

This is what happens on the day you don’t get into the Chicago Marathon:

-Check email 150 times in search of the glorious Chicago Marathon lottery status email that says “Approved”.

-Text family things like, “OMG! I’m so nervous.”

-Read Chicago Marathon’s Facebook page and feel envious of the “I got in!” posts.

-Receive the dreaded Not Selected email at 4:45pm. Start pouting at work, and tell your cube mates that it’s the worst day ever.

-Text your family and friends 100 crying face emojis.

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See what I mean? I’m not sure how the crying happy tears guy snuck in there. This was no laughing matter!

-Leave work hoping that your run will make you feel better. Eat a bug and see a squirrel get hit by a car on this run. (Turns out, squirrels don’t listen to your warning yells.)

-Talk to your running friends that make you feel much better about the situation.

-Decided that you’re still going to participate in summer marathon training with your favorite CARA running group.

-Fall asleep feeling excited to try a new marathon in a new city.

I’m actually looking forward to cheering on all of you lucky runners! Until next year, Chicago.

XO

-Do you guys have any fall marathon recommendations?