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

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!

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

The Struggle is Real

Why hello. Hope everyone enjoyed the beautiful weather this weekend! Isn’t it wonderful to be riding and running outside?

Saturday morning, I had just about finished my 30-mile ride when I got flat tire. A teeny, tiny shard of metal pierced it, and within seconds, it was completely flat. Womp.

Sitting on the edge of the road, I started to think about all of the unexpected things that happen when training for a half Ironman. Although my fellow triathletes have been amazing resources in answering my questions, there are some things that you have to learn on your own. Unless, of course, you read my below list of tri training struggles (and some tips)…

*You will feel exhausted all the time. This is mostly true for me during the week. After a long workday, I accidentally fell asleep after my run and swim. Daniel had to wake me for dinner at 9pm!

*You will be hungry every second of the day. Just typing the word hungry made me hungry.

*Wipeouts happen more than you expect. No matter how many times I ride my bike, every so often I forget to unclip my shoes. In my most recent wipeout news, I made a wrong turn and was heading straight for a lake. Instead of calmly unclipping my shoes, I FREAKED THE F OUT and fell right on over. As an added bonus, a large group of canoers witnessed the whole fiasco!

*Assume that no one sees you when biking or running. Be particularly defensive when training around busy roads, but also be aware of others on a trail. You’ll be shocked at the amount of people that have no idea you are behind them until you scare the sh*t out of them by announcing yourself. 

*Ladies- You will have a love, hate relationship with your bike. Somedays, your saddle will seem like the devil himself. You will have bruises in places you don’t ever want bruises. What happened to the good ole’ beach cruiser seats?

*The foam roller will be your new BFF. Your body will be in a constant state of sore, so rolling around on foam is necessary.

*Buy these products- you will thank me later:

  • Swim- Speedo Ergo Ear Plugs and anti-fog solution for goggles
  • Bike- Anti Chafe Chamois Butt’r (Chafing is zero fun, chafing caused by your bike seat is hell.)
  • Run- Body Glide (I shower in this stuff! It is great for preventing wetsuit rash as well.)

Hope you’ve learned a thing or two at my expense. Consider yourself warned, my friend.

Have a great week! XO

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

 

WTH Do I Wear?

…And I’m not talking about your Valentine’s date wardrobe.

I want to share a little secret about triathlon get up. Ya’ll ready for this? You wear one outfit the entire race. That’s right, you can rock the exact same outfit for the swim, the bike and the run. Am I the only newbie that had NO idea this was the case? (If the answer is yes, let’s pretend I never asked.)

Before my first triathlon, I would have guessed that I wear a swimsuit, cycling shorts and a top, then running shorts and a dri-fit tank. But guess what…

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Transition times matter and count towards your overall race time. Costume changes don’t make for speedy transitions. Have I blown your mind yet?

There are 2 options for race day fashion. Either one can be worn under your wetsuit, should one be necessary for the swim.

  1. Trisuits, 1 Piece:  These are one piece suits that typically zip up in the front. As a positive, one doesn’t have to worry about their top riding up. Everything stays in place the whole race. The negative? Having to strip down to go to the bathroom. I believe that most, if not all, experienced triathletes let it flow on the move, and bathroom breaks become a non-issue. But I’m just not there yet. I don’t want to pee on my fancy new cycling shoes, okay?!
  1. Tri Kits, 2 Pieces:  Tri kits are comprised of tri shorts and a tri singlet. Unless you’re part of a triathlon team that requires you to wear matching shorts and singlet, you can mix and match as you choose. Added bonuses:  These make bathroom breaks a heck of a lot easier and can be a less expensive option. If you have a tank that you want to wear for the race, pair it with some tri shorts and BAM! you have your race day outfit. I’m partial to the 2 piece.

There are some great brands (recommended to me by experienced triathletes) that offer both trisuits and 2 piece options. It’s really a matter of trial and error to determine what works best for you. Check ’em out!

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Sported the 2 piece at the Chicago Triathlon with 0 wardrobe malfunctions. That’s a win!

On an unrelated note, I hope everyone had a fun Valentine’s Day! Although I think it’s a cheesy holiday, my heart almost melted into a puddle on the floor at lunch. A big, bearded, tatted man and his daughter were enjoying a daddy-daughter date. He was allowing her to color his finer nails with crayons. When the server commented on the dad’s new look, he said “It’s Valentine’s Day”. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is. 

Hope everyone has a great Sunday! Stay Warm! XO