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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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

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? 

There’s no crying in tri training!

There's no crying in tri training

I’ve learned one thing in my short time as a Half Ironman hopeful:  Training can be exhausting. Running six miles and swimming 1,000 meters seems fine and dandy when I’m chipper at 6am. Throw in a 10+ hour work day filled with meetings and conference calls, and those same training plans seem a bit more daunting.

Last week, like a two year old who doesn’t want to take off his floaties, I almost threw a fit in the pool. I had just experienced a slow treadmill run and was hoping to redeem myself during my swim. One lap in, my goggles fogged up, and I choked on a sufficient amount of water. (I swear I’ve swam before…) I called it quits a few hundred meters early.

Five minutes after leaving the gym, I concluded that the world was ending and that I was the worst wannabe-triathlete that ever lived. (I’ve been know to be a bit dramatic.)

As endurance athletes, we tend to be really hard on ourselves. Heck, we beat ourselves up over missing a PR by a few seconds. Meeting and exceeding our goals is always a priority, and training days are no exception to the rule. I’m here to tell you that one bad training day does not define you as an athlete, and it’s certainly no indication of the outcome of your race (that’s likely still months away).

Here are 5 ways to survive a bad workout:

1. Stay positive:  Even if your stride is bit slower, don’t let it get you down. Beating yourself up over a tough workout doesn’t make it easier. Like my girl Kelly Clarkson once said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. 

2. Shake it off:  Leave your workout at the gym. Tomorrow is a new day full of opportunities for a comeback run/ride/swim.

3. Don’t be afraid to end a little early:  There’s one thing I’ve learned from running and triathlon coaches- proper form is everything. It’s crucial during times of exhaustion and necessary in avoiding injury. Unfortunately, on a tough training day (when we’re too busy pouting to focus on form), proper technique goes out the window. It’s important to realize when this is happening, and either pull yourself together, or end the workout a bit early. One less mile will not ruin your training regimen.

4. Keep your Confidence:  Self doubt is such a biotch. Don’t let a bad workout make you question your decision to sign up for that goal race. Keep in mind all of the time and training you have put in, and rock your next workout.

5. Develop improvement strategies:  Take a few seconds to reflect on the reasons you had a rough workout. Could it have been caused by nutrition issues? A long day at work? Use your answers to improve your next workout.

With race season right around the corner, I hope these tips come in handy!

Thanks for reading! XO

On the Bandwagon: Shamrock Shuffle Recap

You’ve probably read 30,000 Shamrock Shuffle race recaps, but I couldn’t resist making it 30,001. I’ll start from the beginning, but I’ll attempt to keep it short and sweet.

There are two things that get me out of bed in the morning:  Black Friday shopping with my cousin and running. Our alarms went off at 6am, and I was out of bed and dressed, with brushed teeth and braided hair, by 6:10. This gave me plenty of time to give Daniel the “you better hurry up” glare, pace downstairs, and shout the ten minute warning (twice). I may be late for some of life’s activities, but I will never miss a race. We arrived in the city 45 minutes before we were supposed to meet my CARA friends. Whoops.

Now, onto my Shuffle thoughts…

The Good  

Shamrock Shuffle will forever be one of my favorite races. It means we’ve survived the frigid winter and have lived to see another race season. Plus, Bank of America knows how to put on a fabulous, organized race. No lines for porta potties or gear check is nothing short of a race miracle. There was also minimal waiting once in our corrals. These closed at 9am, and we were off shortly after the 9:15 wave start.

This is one of the only races Daniel and I run together, and his slow jog is faster than my sprint. I tried to keep up (while muttering a few choice words under my breath), and it paid off. I was shocked to discover that we finished with a PR. My comfortable pace is 10:20/mile, so it felt like we were flying!

Boom!

Boom!

The Bad

Daniel declared, “I’ve never liked city traffic!” during the first few minutes of the race, and I had to agree. The first mile was so crowded, so we bobbed and weaved the entire mile. We had to work extra hard to get that PR, which is a bit frustrating.

The Ugly

30 degrees and windy. SO WINDY. I think I jinxed all 35,000 of us by commenting on how lovely the weather usually is on race day. Sorry, guys.

The wind was manageable until we reached the corner of Franklin and Van Buren where wind gusts of 20+ mph took us by surprise. I actually blew into a man. I apologized, had a little laughing fit, then got my sh*t together before I became really out of breath. Here’s to hoping it’s warmer and far less windy next year!

After the race, we treated ourselves to a yummy lunch and adult beverages. The end.

 

Fun fact:  this is the fifth year in a row we’ve run this race. Clearly, we have a signature pose:

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Babies! Shamrock Shuffle circa 2011

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2012

 

2013

2013

 

2014

2014

2015! Showing off our medals.

2015! Showing off our medals.

Thanks for reading! Have a great week!

All Hail the Tax Refund

I like to think I have a few average/above average skills in life (running, dancing, swimming, eating chocolate). Unfortunately, saving money falls nowhere on this list. You can imagine my distress when my fiancé gave me the “we need to start saving money for a wedding” talk.

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Me. In cat form. After the savings talk.

In his defense, this is the large wedding of my ‘dreams’ and not the courthouse option he proposed. So just like that, I watched more dollar signs dance from my account and into the black hole of wedding savings.

I was feeling rather bummed about the limited number of races I could afford this summer when I received everyone’s favorite spring surprise:  the tax refund. Right after this puppy landed in my bank account, I began my race registration extravaganza. I may have had a few bookmarked. Work hard, play hard right?

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Here is my new, improved, bigger, badder 2015 race schedule:

  • Shamrock Shuffle, Sunday, 3/28:  Holy smokes! Less than 2 weeks away!
  • Rockdale Ramblin Run, Saturday, 4/11:  Their slogan is “Toughest 10K in the Midwest”. Last year, I was joking about this claim, but the first hill shut me up REAL QUICK. Small, well organized and challenging race.
  • Team Megan 5K Run, Saturday, 6/6:  A sweet teenage girl from my hometown was diagnosed with stage 4 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma cancer. Proceeds from this run will help support Megan and her family. If you’re interested in learning more about Megan’s journey towards a full recover, visit her dad’s blog. (Just make sure you have a tissue or two. The strength of this young lady is certain to leave you teary-eyed and speechless.)
  • ET Batavia Triathlon, Sunday 6/7:  Experience Triathlon always puts on a good race. This will be my first Batavia tri, and I’m looking forward to it.
  • Esprit de She, Sunday, 6/14:  Hey Ladiessss! First time I’ve ever signed up for an all women’s event. This is a sprint triathlon located in downtown Naperville. So close to home, I couldn’t pass it up!
  • Racine Ironman 70.3, Sunday, 7/19:  Sweet baby Ironman jesus, please let me survive this race.
  • Naperville Triathlon, Sunday, 8/2:  Loved this race last year, and I’m really excited for round 2.
  • Chicago Marathon:  Obviously I signed up for the lottery, folks. Now it’s the waiting game, and I’M WAY TOO IMPATIENT. I’m going to blame my nail-biting on my Chi Marathon anxiety. Please hurry, April 28, and put us all out of our misery.

I’m hoping to sneak a few other races in here and there (when I stumble upon some extra moolah that won’t be confiscated by my fiscally responsible fiancé to be used for practical purchases).

Please remind me of the following if I start to complain about my busy schedule and tired muscles:  photo 3

Hope everyone has a great Wednesday! Halfway to the weekend. XO