Monday, June 22, 2009

A few IM pics (courtesy of Maggie-Sherpa)

And last, but not least, E-bot & my finisher's medal! Yee-Haw! :)

I am an Ironman.

Yesterday was far and above the hardest day of my entire life.

Yesterday I battled physical and mental pain far and above anything I can ever remember.

Yesterday, I overcame all of it.

Yesterday was the day I became an Ironman.
In all of my training and race preparation, I never thought I'd have to worry about the 17 hour cut-off time. But that's what happened. The game of "can I walk X miles in X hours" was played nearly every mile of the marathon. But I'll back up...

After a pretty nice morning organizing my stuff and hanging with the team, Natalie & I stood side by side ready to conquer Lake CDA at 7:00am. Off we went, into the washing machine whirlpool spin cycle that is the Ironman swim. Luckily I do not get freaked out in open water, but the combination of getting constantly kicked and grabbed + choppy waters was apparently a bad one for me. I was feeling sick (which I figured was normal) before I headed out on my second swim loop. I knew it was bad when I actually got sick in the water an hour in. Still, made it out feeling confident and happy.

I don't really remember much about transition except the feeling of not knowing what was going on and not wanting to leave my happy chair to go bike. The woman next to me had DNF'ed (did not finish) the swim and gave me her tube sock armwarmers because I was too confused to find my own. I finished getting dressed (or I should say finished having two volunteers change me from swimsuit to bike clothes) - got my bike - walked it out - and go time. It took forever to warm up on the bike. Even the easiest gear I had seemed too hard. I peddled along as everyone and their mom passed me - but that was fine. This was MY race.

Within minutes on the bike I knew things were not good, and debated stopping at each bathroom I saw. I focused on taking my nutrition, but my stomach had the same effect it did at Longhorn last year. Stopped at the port-o-let (this would become a common theme) and then took off, feeling slightly better. Twenty two miles later came the hills. WOW. I have to say that this was the hardest bike course I have ever been on. I felt very under prepared for hill after hill of granny gear madness. The "Legs of Zeus" signs at each hill were SO TRUE. Luckily there were tons of awesome volunteers, spectators, signs, etc... to somewhat distract from those damn hills. The problem, however, was knowing I'd have to come back and do them again. But... not finishing was not an option! I'd walk my bike up them if I had to... and luckily I didn't.

I saw Esther in town before starting loop 2, and gave her a look which was returned by an equally "Uh oh" look... to which I quickly changed my face into auto-smile. My stomach was churning, nutrition was not working, and my legs felt empty. Anyway....I did manage to finish the bike course, even though the last 15 miles were spent in Panther's aero position (hands on aero pads. not very aero, but good to prevent vomiting.) Got to transition, sat down and was waited on by more awesome volunteers. Then D came in - yelling at me, "I'm so mad at you! Why didn't you tell me Scott and the kids were coming!?" Hehehe... I was asking everyone for some stomach pain relief, but there was nothing but pretzels. Tried those, but they just made me feel more ill. D & I left transition together, which was fun. So great to see her, and my other teammates, throughout the day. (By the way, I was so PROUD of her for getting through the swim so brilliantly - that was definitely a highlight for me.)

I tried to run a few times, but it wasn't happening. Stopped at the port-o-lets again, but nothing. Begged the medical people for help, but they had nothing to give me. Tried chicken broth, but it came up. At this point it became clear that in order to finish this thing, I would have to walk. There would be no running. That's when the game of "can I actually walk this and finish" began. My teammates saw me on the course and were so supportive, but eventually I just put my head down so they wouldn't see how upset I was. I saw Karen & Lindsey at the first turnaround and said "I don't think I will make cut-off"... luckily they'd done the math. 16 minute miles & they'd finish with room to spare. So I kept going. When I got back to town, I turned around to see Alisa, who would end up becoming my Ironman Angel. She caught up to us, walked with me, encouraged me, and ended up staying with me the rest of the race. We conquered rain, wind, freezing cold, and pitch darkness together.

When I say I don't think I'd have done it without Alisa, I'm 100% serious. The doubt and pain were setting in at this point, and having to stop each mile with stomach contractions was too much. But there she was, pushing me forward. With about 35 minutes to go, we reached mile 25 and then turned left down a street to the finisher's chute. Esther, Chris G, Maggie, Dionn, Nancy, and Shawnda were all there cheering for us, and then we knew we had it. Alisa & I grabbed hands and, for the first time, ran down the finisher's chute. There Mike Reilly called my name and said "You are an Ironman!" My teammates were there waiting, and I cried like a baby. :) Maggie went into sherpa-wonderwoman mode and took care of us the rest of the night.

They say you have your ups and downs in an Ironman. I'll be honest, I had far less ups than I had downs. My saving grace was my amazing teammates and friends. And, of course, awesome wonderful Maggie sherpa. I gave this course EVERYTHING I had. I kept thinking that on the bike - "You are leaving nothing behind. If nothing else, be proud that you won't regret not giving it everything." That plus "You are insane, E. This is the hardest thing ever."

Here I am in my cold-gear (Mylar blanket, plastic bag, tube socks) upon our return. More pictures to come, of course, but this was pretty funny. I'm smiling, and that's a very good thing.
Ironman Coeur D'Alene 2009 - CHECK!!!! I am forever changed.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

E-bot & Friends in CDA

Enough about me... lots talk robots. One of my little taper projects was making a special Ironbot for each one of the T3 people doing CDA. (Plus some sherpas too.)

Anyway, I have been absolutely thrilled and amazed how some have embraced their bots! D, Maggie & I had so much fun with D-bot, E-bot & Sherpa-bot today. :)

First we rode along the Centennial Trail to make sure our bikes were in working order.
Then we headed to athlete village. Checked out the water again...
Roamed the Ironman store & wrote some messages for the Inspiration Station... And then... what???!!! CDA 2010??? Silly E-bot!
And it's official! We (me + Elizabeth) are coming back in 2010 to do this thing again! Oye! Next stop, drop of our bags & bikes!

At this point, we were through with athlete village until Race Day! So, we grabbed lunch then headed over to the Bunny House to find... GIANT ROBOTS!!!
How freaking cool are these guys? They will adorn the course tomorrow and surely bring endless smiles to my face.

Speaking of, I'm gonna go do an Ironman tomorrow. Wow. Still hasn't really hit me... I'll just be focused on the giant blue robots. As Dionn says, "please take me 140.6 miles to your leader."

Friday, June 19, 2009

Packing & Unpacking

It's official. I'm registered - wahoo!It seems that this Ironman is a constant state of packing... and unpacking...and repacking... Here's some of the process in action. :) D's & my room has more bags (and bubble wrap) than I thought was humanly possible. :)

By the way, I am SO glad to have my bike back. I love my bike... I can't wait to take it to the hill of CDA!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

HELLO Coeur D'Alene!

Oh WOW. I feel like I am on vacation... this place is gorgeous! It's nearly 11:30 my time (9:30) in CDA, so I won't post but a few pictures & a tiny recap. After a very very long travel day, Alisa & I met at the Spokane airport and drove into beautiful CDA. Our robots accompanied us of course. ;) Dropped her off, met D at our hotel, then headed to downtown CDA.
Team dinner at the CDA Resort + Team Photo + Chill time + Safeway... and I'm calling it a day!

Tomorrow we test out the water (literally), check in to athlete village, pick up the bike from TriBikeTransport, take it for a spin, participant race dinner/meeting, packing and... phew! Did I really say vacation? :)
I am so excited and just soaking it all in. THIS IS A BLAST! :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Setting In...

Little by little, I'm starting to grasp that I am leaving for CDA tomorrow! (No, I still haven't packed yet...)

I had the best impromptu breakfast with Elizabeth this morning. I feel especially connected to her through this experience, even though we haven't trained together like we used to. (She's too dang fast!) However, I still remember when she decided to sign up for CDA through community fund. At the time, we thought about writing letters to ourselves to read before Ironman. Well, we never did... though we decided our blogs did a good job of saying what we'd have written. Anyway, it was so great to talk about our season and our goals and what this experience has meant to us.

Also, she inspired me to look at the training totals on my Beginner Triathlete training log. Here goes, for 2009:

Swim: 47 hours - 80 miles
Bike: 146 hours - 2,367 miles
Run: 77 hours, 420 miles

This doesn't include core, elliptical machines, etc... but overall, I've logged about 300 hours & 2,876 miles. I have no idea how that stand in comparison to others who train, but that's an average of 13+ hours per week. I haven't gotten faster, I haven't gotten much stronger, I certainly miss the gym a LOT, but... I have been consistent. My endurance is there. My attitude is there. The training is there.

And... taper is here too! Check this out - this is what taper looks like!!!
E & I played around with some finishing times this morning, but ultimately came to the conclusion that we are both out there to soak up the experience and enjoy it. So, this training better get me across that finish line under the 17 hour cut-off. If I can do that, I honestly will be very very happy and consider this a successful year.

(Right now, though, my lack of packing is my biggest roadblock!)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bad Packer

Somewhere in the past few years, my traveling style has gone from boy scout like preparedness to "Eh, I'll get it done eventually."

When I went to Interbike last year, I waited until 2 days before to book tickets to Vegas. When I went to San Diego for Rachel's wedding, I packed that morning. Same for Longhorn (in Galveston) - I packed 30 minutes before the bossman came to pick me up.

Ironman is proving no different, but I have to laugh at myself. I didn't pack my tri-bike-transport until 9am Saturday, and drop off was at 11am. Mind you, this bag was pretty important - my teammates had made lists upon lists about what to pack. Whatever, I got it done.

And now... Ironman packing. I leave Thursday morning. Which means I will probably start thinking about it Wednesday afternoon. So far, I have only given it as much thought as to buy individual peanut butter packets and mini m&m's. Oh, I did borrow an awesome tri bag and other race accoutrements, as well as a small foam roller. This evening, I bought a T3 shirt to wear during the marathon. What's that they say about not trying anything new on race day? Hope it works for me!

Rather than pack, I have taken on activities such as: build more robots, clean my house, look for a new house, write letters, shop online, hang out with friends, spend time on g-chat...

Yeah, packing is not my strongsuit. Hopefully in 24 hours I'll be at least a little closer to being ready!

One more thing... check out the cool article the lovely Pam LeBlanc wrote about T3 heading to CDA! Yay Pam!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Like Father, Like Daughter

Broken record here, but I have to say it again - I am so proud of my dad and his commitment to exercise! I have a feeling my mom is going to jump on the bandwagon any day now, too.... (Yay! Go mom!!)

My folks came to visit me this weekend. Let's just say that I needed them. As much as I try to be super strong independent superwoman (yeah, who am I kidding!?), it is really nice when mom and dad take care of me. Even if I'm left feeling a bit vulnerable and embarrassed and fragile, I do realize that they don't care about that! Thank goodness!

Anyway, my one request for the weekend was for my dad to join me Sunday morning while we took a nice walk around the trail. I wanted to channel as much positive energy from our walk so I could use it in 7 days during Ironman. It was perfect. We got to see a bunch of T3ers doing their runs, he got to meet Dionn, and I got to show him various points of interest on the trail, like the Giant Mushroom Forest. Best of all, we spoke of the things in our lives we are most proud of. (Thanks for what you said, Dad!) It was the perfect way to end my last week of training in Austin.

So, when I say like father, like daughter - here is what I mean. Later in the afternoon, I caught my dad using the calf stretcher! I think this picture is hilarious.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Vienna Waits For You...

Slow down, you're doing fine
You can't be everything you want to be
Before your time
Although it's so romantic on the borderline tonight
Too bad but it's the life you lead
you're so ahead of yourself that you forgot what you need
Though you can see when you're wrong, you know
You can't always see when you're right.

You've got your passion, you've got your pride
but don't you know that only fools are satisfied?
Dream on, but don't imagine they'll all come true
When will you realize, Vienna waits for you?

Slow down, you crazy child
and take the phone off the hook and disappear for awhile
it's all right, you can afford to lose a day or two
When will you realize,..Vienna waits for you?

(Vienna, by Billy Joel)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I'm Ba-aa-aack!

Holy Smokes! Today has been a freaking wonderful, fantastic day! To sum it up, I am *finally* feeling like my old self again. My smile has not left my face since I got out of bed. For the second time.

Some thoughts for the day.

1. If I wake up at 4:00am... just get up. Because going back to sleep just about kills all motivation to go swim in cold Barton Springs at 5:30am. Doh.

2. I got to use my new Twixits this morning! Apparently they are "the best bag clip ever invented. ever." according to Mike... I'll admit, they are pretty cool. (Happy Mike?)

3. If I have a long (and at all stressful) list of things to accomplish, I will always make sure to add a bunch of non-relevant things to the list. Case in point... this morning I decided, for the first time in almost 2 years, that I would research and buy a replacement camera battery charger. So I spent time doing that, instead of accomplishing real things that needed to be done.

4. I knocked off a bunch of things today where I had to wait in lines. Like, I drew number 151 and they were only serving number 99. First advice - read the directions on your ticket. Because when you get to the window without any of the completed forms, you feel pretty damn stupid. Second advice - you can make trips like these fun by making the people around you smile. In fact, the guy that helped me today looked exhausted and said "I'm so sleepy" when I first got to his window. By the time he was done helping me, he said "Thank you! I have more energy than I know what to do with thanks to you!" That was kinda cool. It's all about your attitude!

5. Grease Monkey Wipes made the Statesman!!!!! Check us out!!!!!!!!!! Pam LeBlanc rocks. :)

6. Barton Springs is the BEST. I ditched my long ride in lieu of a swim, and even at 5:30pm - it was fantastic. (and great sighting practice, too!) Gosh I love that place. Love, love, love it.

7. I knocked out EIGHT of the NINE big items on my to-do list today. And it feels AWESOME!

8. Oh, we got our CDA numbers today. #2089 right here! That's right, there's an Ironman in my future. Honestly, I keep forgetting!

9. My parents are coming to visit me this weekend. I get to spend my last Sunday in Austin pre-CDA with them... most likely you'll find Dad and me taking a nice walk around the trail. I'm so excited!

So.... my point... I feel fantastic. I haven't felt like this in a long, long time. I am back, people. I really can't wipe the smile off my face. June is my month!!!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Cheers.... to all that lies ahead!!! And that, my friends, is a toast with electrolyte water. Yeah, I'm hard-core. :)

Monday, June 08, 2009

Times Like These

This song brought me tears while watching the Ironman CDA video... and I have taken it on as my theme song for this month. I love it.

I am a new day rising
I'm a brand new sky
To hang the stars upon tonight
I am a little divided
Do I stay or run away
And leave it all behind?

It's times like these you learn to live again
It's times like these you give and give again
It's times like these you learn to love again
It's times like these time and time again

Almost There...

On July 29th last year, I wrote that I was finally ready to jump in. I can barely believe it, but I am just inches away from the other side.

I can't begin to explain the emotions I've experienced, oftentimes over and over and over again, while crossing this river. But... just as I suspected, my lifesavers were solid and I'm about to get out - all in one piece.

It's time - I am ready to explore this entirely new place. I am so relieved, and awakened, and...

I am so alive.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

I tried to hide, but...

I tried to hide, but my dear friends wouldn't let me. I'm so glad they didn't - I ended up having such a fabulous birthday! I thought I'd share some cool stories from the day.

It started with a phone call from my parents Monday night. They traditionally call me to sing happy birthday each year... and this year was no different, except my Dad ended each verse with a beautiful "a day early!" So cute.

At 2:00am, my phone rang. It was Mike calling from Sweden! However, when I answered, he said "why are you answering?!" I replied "Uh, Mike? You called! And you're in Sweden! Why wouldn't I answer?" He said "No no no! Hang up. I want your voicemail." So I did, and he called back twice. In the morning, I checked my voicemail - message 1: "Erin! It's your birthday, so I'm going to play you a song! And.... uh.... oh crap, YouTube doesn't work. Bye." message 2: "Erin! Listen! ...then he played some birthday clappy song... Bye!" Hahaha... gotta love Mike.

At 11:30am, I went to a board meeting for one of my associations, and they surprised me with flowers! For the record, I haven't received flowers in, oh, maybe 2 years or more. I love those guys - they are the sweetest group ever (and part of what makes my job so special.)

At 5:00pm, I met with my long lost gemini twin Kris (and D) and we toasted our shared birthday with champagne. It was absolutely amazing to be with those two... it had been far too long, though, as always, it seems like we'd all hung out just yesterday.
Then at 7:00pm, D & I headed to meet my friends at the Black Sheep Lodge. Maggie wouldn't let me not celebrate my birthday, so she planned a happy hour/dinner. There were more gifts, friends, and a fabulous cake made by my dear Alisa. It was the tackiest, most beautiful cake ever.
The most surprising present for me came from Jerry. Oh gosh, how thoughtful that man is. After hearing me rave about the Westbank Library, to which I no longer technically belong to as I don't live in the right zip code, he got me my very own Westbank library card. Seriously. Is that not perfect or what.

So... I really am not a fan of people gushing attention on me. It makes me uncomfortable. But, I'm going to stop being so resistant... I have wonderful people in my life so I'm going to enjoy them, damnit! Thanks for a great birthday. As my Facebook status read, I really do feel loved!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Guardian Angels

My life is full of guardian angels. Some of them, ah hem, even work behind my back so that I can't sneak around like I want to. They make me cry too, but in a good way.

When I ran my first marathon, guardian angel Maggie was there, pushing my back, telling me to move forward. I will never ever forget that. Then we finished together, hand in hand. When I ran the Goofy Challenge, she ran my last Austin-run with me and then surprised me with a home-made "good luck" bag filled with all kinds of marathon goodies. I've done my best to return the love back to her.... For instance, I got to sherpa for her at Ironstar in 2007. (Elbows up... Side to Side!!!)Anyway, I got pretty teary eyed yesterday during our final Ironman meeting at T3. We watched a video from the 2008 CDA IM and one of the things that really struck me was excitement/enthusiasm/love/etc. from the families and supporters on the course. I was reminded of how lucky we are at T3 to have a giant extended family supporting us on June 21st. But what really brought me to tears was thinking about my guardian angel Maggie. She is coming to CdA and going to be my personal sherpa! How did I get to be so blessed that I have my own personal MaggieSherpa to be there for me on race day?!! I have someone to share the experience with from the outside... someone who will be yelling words of support all day, updating my family, taking care of my needs and treating me like an IM princess. Knowing she will be there has taken a huge weight off of my shoulders and nearly doubled my excitement!
Thank you Maggie, and all my guardian angels. I'm so very blessed.