Friday, November 18, 2016

New Balance

A few days ago, I found myself in an uncomfortable dilemma. I was finally beginning to feel like  immersing myself in my family, job, and training would help me alleviate my frustration over the current political turmoil, when a customer asked me if they should burn their beloved (perfectly fitting) New Balance shoes because the Vice President of Communications supports Donald Trump. Uh oh. Could that be true?  I’ve been a New Balance fan for years. I love that they maintain some manufacturing jobs in the US, and I just fell in love with a New Balance shoe myself (Fresh Foam Vongo) which has made running without ankle pain possible.  

Rather than posting a rant on Facebook with a photo of myself throwing away all of my New Balance shoes, I thought that I should take a few minutes to evaluate the facts first.  Running shoes have been the root of my job for the past 5 years, and New Balance is one of the companies that I have dealt with the most.  As a buyer, I’ve formed working relationships with their sales representatives and have spent time learning from some of the higher ups in the company.  As a sales person, I’ve worked side by side with their technical reps, and in my experience New Balance has exhibited a very positive and respectful culture in the running community.  However, I realize that my own positive experiences with New Balance cannot speak for the experiences of everyone else. So, I started researching.  

First: what did Matt LeBretton actually say, and in what context?  
It looks like his exact words were, “we feel that things are going to move in the right direction” under Donald Trump (ugh I don’t even like typing his name….he shall hereafter be referred to on this blog as Drumpf).  The quote was published in the Wall Street Journal.  Yikes, this looks bad, what was Mr. LeBretton talking about?  Turns out he was specifically talking about trade policy.  The TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) in particular. Mr. LeBretton was not talking about culture or policy outside of a trade context, and both Hillary and Bernie were against the TPP...and.. .and… and… Am I making excuses?  What about the vile blogger who called New Balance the “official shoe of white people?”

This is where I think things went off the rails.  I will not further hate speech.  So while I put quotation marks around the comment at the end of the last paragraph, I won’t give ‘credit’ to its source or elaborate on any more of its message.  New Balance would obviously not propose it, and had no control over being endorsed by a hateful person or group.  Did they?  Well, if the VP of communications hadn’t mentioned Drumpf in a positive way (even “just regarding trade policies”) none of this would have happened.  By providing a favorable viewpoint towards Drumpf’s proposed policy regarding the issue of American manufacturing, they are promoting terrible rhetoric, as well as racist, misogynistic, anti-semitic views, and a culture of hatred and prejudice.....Right?  

Maybe.  But Information taken out of context was used so much in the election campaigns to spread inaccurate and misleading crap that I need to go a little deeper before I boycott one of my favorite companies.

New Balance has five factories in the United states.  Like Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, it was not in favor of the TPP because it makes it even harder to compete in their market as the only manufacturer of American-made shoes. Their shoes are not all made in America, in fact very few actually are, but they do employ hundreds of people here in the states for those that are.  New Balance also has factories all over the world: “All New Balance apparel is made in contract facilities, primarily in the Americas and Asia, with some production in Europe and the Middle East.”~New Balance Responsible Leadership Report .  The more I looked into this the more I felt like I was falling down a rabbit hole.  Not because I discovered anything bad about New Balance (other than LeBretton’s comment), in fact they genuinely seem to exhibit fair, environmentally responsible, philanthropic, community building business and manufacturing practices--both here and overseas.  Putting the people who work for New Balance out of work because of one comment seems like it will do the opposite of promoting a tolerant and unified community.  It seems like one of the reasons that Drumpf was elected was because people whose quality of life was negatively affected by the loss of manufacturing jobs felt ignored and marginalized (and because we have a serious and deep problem with racism in this country). My confusion and sadness is from all the uniformed, hateful and destructive comments that were made by supposedly tolerant, educated, people online.  

This is what I know:  I love doing my job.  My job is to find the best possible fit for people looking for running, walking and athletic shoes.  New Balance makes it easier to help people who fall outside the average shape, width, and size of feet.  I don’t think their statement on Twitter was enough, but I’m willing to give them a chance to continue to try to make it right.  I may be naive, but I believe in the company, its 110 year history and track record, and their intention to avoid promoting anything that would further encourage hate and prejudice.  This doesn’t mean I think we should let the comment slide.  I think New Balance needs to focus its philanthropic efforts and  community building dollars very specifically on projects and organizations that promote unity, diversity and acceptance in the near future and beyond.  You can let them know what you think they should do by emailing  

Thursday, November 10, 2016

It's the End of the World as We Know it and a little bit of Chicken Fried

I've had some requests to share some cycling workouts and I thought I'd do it here. I'm calling these "sample workouts" instead of classes because the laws for licencing music for Group Exercise Instructors are complicated and restrictive so consider these my personal indoor biking workouts. Since I'm usually at the YMCA when I indoor cycle, I try to be respectful of language and content so I often use covers (these are also usually more in line with what's allowed legal-use-wise).

I couldn't resist a few political commentaries in song form though I wanted to keep things light and positive for the most part. Like many Americans I'm sad and confused by the outcome of this election. I really love my life here, and am grateful for this country, I think this country has been great all along (not perfect but great) and I am not convinced that the changes on the way are for the better. I don't want to be told "it will be ok" as I've seen enough of the effects of the hate mongering this election has wrought to know that that is just not true for many people. Here's to working out our frustrations in a productive way:

Cycling November 2016 "It's the End of the World as we Know it and a little bit of chicken Fried
Nobody But Me
Michael Buble
Warm Up Surges
My Way
Calvin Harris
Warm Up Climb
Still Falling For You
Ellie Goulding
It’s the End of the World As We know It
Long sprints 1:30 min on 0:30 off
Send Them Off
Long climb
American Idiot
5 seconds of Summer
Move Your Body
Andy Grammer
Seated accelerations (push 5-10 rpms harder at "pushing all my life" part)
Waste All My Love
Coleman Hell
Hard Tempo
Highway to Hell
Sprints or  Seated accelerations
One Republic
I Wanna Be Sedated
The Ramones
The Presidents Of the United states...
Hard Tempo
Grandpa’s Groove
Parov Stelar
Grow Up
Olly Muirs
Cool down
All we know
Chain Smokers
Cool Down 
18. Chicken Fried by Zac Brown leave on an upbeat note because I still love this country.
Thanks for checking this out.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

2016 Triathlon Season Recap

As winter approaches I have been looking to next year's race season and itching to sign up for some things.  Before I do that I want to look back at this past season and see how I could make 2017 even better.  I didn't race a lot but here's a recap.

I started this year with Troika Long Course Tri.  I felt under trained but my diet had been really dialed in.  My little sister's wedding was the next weekend and I had been following a whole thirty style eating plan with no sugar, lots of fruits and veggies, clean protein, and no grains.  I didn't lose any weight but I felt amazing.  For race and training nutrition I had switched to using Generation UCAN.  I don't eat dairy so I added vegan protein powder to the superstarch and UCAN Hydrate for electrolytes.  It worked like a dream for the half iron-distance.  I  rode Watson in our last race together and passed a bunch of fast swimmers.  The run was where I knew I would feel my lack of preparedness and sure enough it was painfully and much slower than I wanted to run.

I also got stopped by a train at mile 7 but the Eric with Nomadz adjusted for it as it didn't affect my age group placing (2nd).  It did however mean I beat David's time and I got to win our good natured rivalry.

Troika was my first ever long course triathlon several years ago.  This was my first time doing it since the course was changed and I really liked it.

Becky'd wedding was beautiful the next week but it did mean I stopped my great new  eating habits.  I'm still trying to get back to it.

I also found it a bit harder than I expected to keep my training mojo going.  I found that taking a break to hike or kayak instead of always swimming, biking, or running helped a lot with that.

Getting a new bike also inspired me to ride a lot more.  It is soooo awesome.  Thank you Wade and Julie and Fleet Feet Spokane!  My first race on it was Ironman Calgary 70.3 and you can read all about that in
my previous post if you'd like.

My next race was Plutonium Man, an olympic distance in Richland Washington.  This is what I wrote on Facebook:
First the price: $42.00 for an Olympic. That is pretty hard to beat. No medals and you can choose to buy your shirt separately but they did have post race food and drinks. Plus 42 is the answer to life, the universe, and everything in it. And my age.
The race now has a single transition which is always nice logistically. It's at the WSU tri cities campus so there is adequate parking and a really nice 3 mile run trail right there.
The swim was long (I swam almost 2400 yds) but it was with the current so I swam my fastest pace ever (1:18/1800 yds, a PR that may never be broken). The water was clear and the start was deep water which is kind of cool.
T1 was Boise-esque (long run up from the water) but without wet suit strippers. The weather wasn't Boise-esque, it was perfect if a little windy with some gusts. I got there early so I had a great spot right next to the only other Argon 18 in the race. He mentioned he was hoping for fastest bike split male and I was secretly hoping to do the same thing on the women's side.
The new bike course is fantastic. Wide shoulders, fairly good pavement, zero (yes zero) traffic, and just enough hills to be interesting. I moved into 1st place a little over half way into the bike, knowing with my lack of run training lately that it would be really tough to hold onto that spot but I would give what I could to keep it.
I managed to get my feet out of my shoes before T2 so that was smooth and quick.
The run isn't as pretty add the old one and is two loops (which I love but others aren't so fond of). They're were for aid stations on the loop though so that meant 8 total in the 10k. Combined with relatively decent temperatures this meant I could push my run fitness (or lack) to its maximum. I expected to be passed by another female at any second. I kept playing over in my head what I would tell Wade (coach)..."I held the lead through the first quarter mile..." then I was finishing my first loop...."I held the lead for the first half of the run"...there were some open stretches but the second part of each loop was slightly down hill for a long section. "I held the lead until the last mile..." with half a mile to go I peeked behind me as I rounded a corner and saw no women in view. It started to sink in that I might win this race. So with legs and lungs burning I started to tell myself "it's just one fast 400 like in Swifts practice." "I can hold this!"
One thing with a looped course and teams is people don't really know who is where on the course so no fan fare as I crossed the line. I thought I might have missed another female athlete ahead of me so I asked my favorite timing guy Eric Ewing of Nomadz if he could tell and sure enough I won! I also realized Ken (among a few others) had done an extra loop. 2400 swim and a 9 mile run, he almost did a half iron today :). On 2 hours sleep.
It turns out my rack neighbor and fellow Argon 18 rider had won overall. (Missed the fastest bike by 1 second). I did have the fastest female bike split and won $20 at their local bike shop.
So Titanium Man's relaxed atmosphere now has some great new digs. I recommend it highly. It's also a USAT sanctioned race.
I did Sunday Sundae a week later and while I love that race I only made it to mile 8 before my IT band once again spoke up.  Grrr.  I was not happy about it but I let it go and signed up for Valley Fest Duathlon.  

This tiny race is in its fourth year but only the first as a Duathlon.  I was the overall female winner and 2nd overall including the men.  My fellow Fleet Feet Racer and Ironman training partner from 2013 Jeremy Anglin was the overall winner.  

I really liked the race and it was my first duathlon so I hope it gains momentum as a race and is around for a while.  Did I mention it has a cheap entry fee?

The other highlight of my season was a race I watched rather than participated in.  I got to go to Kona and watch the Ironman World Championships!  It was amazing! I volunteered, cheered until I was hoarse, and got to rub elbows with my heros.  It was the experience of a lifetime.

Monday, July 25, 2016

I had some nerves and apprehension coming into this race because my original intention for it (back in December when I signed up) was to train hard and try to qualify for Worlds in Chattanooga next year. I didn't get to train how I had hoped to and felt unprepared for what I would need to do on the swim and the run. 

My inclination was just focus as hard as I could and do my best with the training I had.  Get to Calgary, get organized,  be nervous up to the race.  My awesome boyfriend Ken, had other plans for me.  He planned a really cool road trip for us.  On the way up we went through Lussier Hotsprings and camped there the first night.  It was gorgeous and took us through Banff the next day as we headed into Calgary.

We hit a some traffic outside of Banff and couldn't figure out why we were stopped on a big freeway....when we finally got up to the slow down we saw a transport truck on its side with crews unloading watermelons, and watermelons strewn through the median. 

Google Maps is the best invention ever and helped us so many times during this trip.  It took us straight to "package" pickup.  I was excited for this because I am a 2016 All World Athlete and had been told I would get a little bit of VIP treatment for that.  Nope.  Calgary is the only Ironman  branded not-for-profit race. I did get a cool black AWA swim cap though.  

The pre-race meeting was informative and I had an ART guy work on me for a few minutes.   He only did my right hamstring (not the left) which I thought was weird and felt a bit unbalanced.  We also went to a pro-panel Q&A session that was really fun.  We checked out T2 and then drove over to the swim start.  We met a really nice couple named Nelson and Wanda who gave us some intel on the course.  Calgary 70.3 seemed like a logistically complicated race but I was still optimistic about it.

We had planned to be as low budget as possible for this trip and Ken and I both are easy going. So we ate dinner,  found a YMCA to shower at and it just happened to be next to a Walmart where other frugal travelers were already parked.  It worked for us pretty well until the ladies in the RV two spots over started talking and laughing really loudly in Spanish. One had the most awesome carrying laugh that I would have loved at any other time than 6:00 am.

Once packed up,  we headed back over to the swim start and T1 to drop my bike and run gear.  I spent a while putting stickers on, testing out my bike, doing a little run and sorting gear into bags. I then dropped everything off where it went.  I ran through transition a few times to get my bearings. 

The swim was in a beautiful man-made lake in a subdivision type community.  It was surrounded by really nice homes and had a community center/beach park on one side. That beach is where myself and the other intrepid racers were lucky enough to get to go for a prerace swim.  Unfortunately I only made about 300 yards before I couldn't stand my leaking goggles any more.  The right lens was filling completely up with water from a broken seal.  While I had a spare pair they weren't really better.  So out of the (beautiful) water I came and asked the closest triathlete where I could go buy goggles.  He was super nice and even looked the store up,  checked that it was open, and called them to ask if they had my brand of goggles.  Canadians!

Google maps came through for us again and we found this great Aquatics Team Supply store hidden in a little industrial area not too far away.   They had all the models of Aquasphere goggles and I was able to try on a couple of styles I hadn't seen before.  I actually picked a different one from my usual (something new on race day,  uh oh) and a Canadian print swim suit (80% off). Ken got me a matching Canada swim cap too.

My mom texted me that she was almost to Calgary and she was going to watch my race.  I was really excited since I live far away from my family they hadn't really seen me race before.  She told me my little sister was going to come later too. We had enough time to drive the bike course then meet up with her. 

So we headed out onto the bike course, only to find that the name of the main road we were to ride on had been changed on the hwy signs but not in Google maps or the course map.  Kinda confusing.  The first part was on a legit freeway too. Scarey! Once we were out on the main part of the course it was really beautiful though.  Really hilly (uphill) going out,  gradual downhill on the back side of the loop. I was kind of worried about the wide rumble strips that took up half the width of the shoulder because I'm a weak swimmer but strong cyclist I spend a lot of time passing people and really need the room to get by.

The drive ended at Glenmore Park. No scratch that: North Glenmore Park. Which was of course T2. I had explained to my Mom as well as I could where we were but she still ended up on the other side of the giant reservoir and wetlands area. She eventually found us and Ken had had time to take a quick nap while I wandered around and explored.  I spoke to a race volunteer who was setting up and got hear more positive things about the race. Mom got to get her bearings for the next day and we decided to leave her car there and go for dinner and then back to her hotel where we would sleep as well.    We found a cool restaurant that served locally sourced, clean food with a twist.  You went up to the chefs at different stations to order and they swiped a card to track what you wanted.  Then a server brought it to your table all plated up pretty and stuff.  Since you spoke directly to the chef it was exactly what you asked for.  I had some really good roasted veggies,  chicken and a salad. 

Back at the room,  I laid out what I needed and measured my nutrition into my bike bottles so I could just add water and go. I set my alarm for 4:15 and went to sleep. OK sort of went to sleep.  It's always hard to sleep the night before but I know I was asleep when the alarm went off. 

I hopped up,  dressed in my kit,  made sure to remember my HR monitor strap, even though I hate wearing it and loaded my gear,  mom, and boyfriend into the car. 

It was not a clean transition so I set up what I needed by my bike and grabbed my wetsuit and my new. ...goggles? Where had I put them?  Ken went back to the car while I struggled to encase myself in neoprene. In transition I was pleased to see that my bike rack neighbor was Nomi Martenson, and that Jayne Anderson, Trish Mack, Kim Bellamy and Ivan Tucker were all close by too. We took some selfies and my goggles magically appeared on the other side of the fence in the hands of my handsome,  cheerful man.  Did I mention that the transition was in two tennis courts? With normal sized "doors"? This would be interesting.

It was suddenly time to warm up so I took my goggles out of the package for the first time and stuck them to my face and dove on in.  Much better with goggles that worked.  I was actually wishing I had my sleeveless wetsuit but since I had a sleeved jersey that wouldn't have worked anyway.

It seemed like no time until the horn sounded and I was heading to the first of many bouys.  The first was the most memorable as I really should have gone wide there.  Full on combat swimming.  Soon the good swimmers pulled away from me though and I found some open water.  I drafted a couple of times but I kept losing the bubble trails.  So many turns to make it a one loop course!  I swam a 2:20/100 m pace which is heartbreakingly slow compared to what I've been doing in the pool but it was finally over and I was heading into T1. As I was coming out of the water I took my watch off and held the strap in my teeth while a friendly volunteer stripped my wet suit for me. 

With suit, goggles and watch in hand I hurried up to my bike and put my feet into my new bike shoes  (sockless) while I bundled my wetsuit,  goggles, cap, etc into  the appropriate bag, and did up my helmet straps.

I ran up the hill to the mount line,  and saw a familiar Fitness Finatics kit next to me.  Trish and I headed out together.  It felt so good to finally be able to go fast that I passed three people in the first block when I remembered that I hadn't pushed the appropriate buttons on my watch at almost the same time that I realized my watch was not there.  I had put it in my T1 bag with my wetsuit and goggles.  Crap! Oh well,  thank goodness the race chip would track me. 

That in mind, I got moving.  I learned that the rumble strips weren't that deep and when people wouldn't get over I just went (noisily) around them.  It's always way hillier by bike than by car but I felt really strong until near the end when I got a bit behind on my nutrition without my watch to remind me to take in calories.  I ate some pieces of bars and took in some U can and Ucan hydration.  That made me feel better and I passed two women in my age group near the end of the bike.

T2 was uneventful, and it was so great to hear my mom and Ken cheering me on.  I decided to take off my sleeved jersey because it was hot and run in my Oiselle bra top. My bike shoes were clipped to my bike still so I didn't need to worry about them, so a quick roll up of my socks,  slipped on my running shoes,  grabbed my hat,  race belt and a gel and off  I went.  I grabbed water on my way by and put on my belt and hat as I went.  The first mile or so of the run always feels kind of bad and this was no exception but soon I found a rythym and even though I don't know what pace I was running I wasn't getting passed very much.  I had no watch to gage pace so I concentrated on form,  cadence and staying mentally strong.  I did the math to figure out what mile each kilometer meant.  Then at the 10k point I felt a slight twinge in my left knee.  Not good.  I concentrated more on my form, especially core.  Suddenly my left leg gave out on a step.  I stumbled but didn't fall.  I walked a few steps and massaged it.  Started running again.  It hurt so much.  From then on every up hill, every down hill I had to walk and massage it.  I wanted to cry. I found I could run on the flats so I tried to make up for the times I had to walk. 

A woman in my age group went by me,  then another and another.  I was so frustrated! Nothing to do but move forward.  The big hill I had been able to run down early on was excruciating to climb back up.  At the top of I had to run by the finish line and out 2k, knowing I then had to run back 2k. I made the turn and was trying to remember how far 2k was.  Less than a mile?  I heard a woman behind me.  No way was she going to pass me!  Except my leg wouldn't listen. I massaged it as quickly as I could as she passed me and I saw the faded 43 on her calf.  This.  Was.  Not.  Happening.  So I ran.  I passed her again and ran just ahead until the pain stopped me again but she wouldn't let me.  This amazing lady put her hand on my back and said "no! We are so close,  let's go!" I mumbled thank you and picked up my cadence,  trying to land as lightly as I could.  1k to go. The longest 1k I had ever run. I finally came around a corner and could see and hear the finish line.  I found a kick somewhere and got it done.  My mom, my little sister,  her boyfriend and Ken were all there cheering waiting for a hug. 

I collected my giant belt buckle medal and went over to the fence to talk to them. I got some post race food (good stuff, not cold soggy pizza). I chatted with the amazing Kelly Craree who had an enormous PR. I looked for a massage table but couldn't find one.  I went back to my family and visited while I waited to find out if there was any chance for a roll down spot for Worlds. 3 spots in my age group only one was claimed before the awards ceremony. 

Ivan was also hoping for a spot as he was also in the top 10 of his age group. (I was 8th even after that horrible run).  The Spokane contingent were nice enough to wait with us while we stood there with fingers crossed while the RD called out the names of the people just a little faster than us and the spots rolled within one of our names before they were claimed.  So no spot.  Yet. :)

Reflecting, I would definitely recommend Calgary 70.3 for the beautiful scenery and friendly people.  It's a challenging course but fast and well organized.  It was really great to have Spokane friends out there and so amazing to have my family and Ken.

Monday, June 17, 2013

So it might as well be established that I am a sporadic blogger at best.  I will own it.  I love my busy, busy, life and when I get to a point that I can blog regularly I probably won’t have anything interesting to blog about anyway.  At this point I have five kids, two jobs and I’m six days out from competing in Ironman Coeur D’Alene.  I wanted to do this post because I was chatting with one of the mentors in the beginner- tri group I am coaching about how we all start somewhere and that my journey started 50 pounds heavier, and much, much slower.  I joked that there were pictures on Facebook if she really wanted to see.  She said she did because it is always inspiring to see that most people don’t start as Ironman.  So here is a recap of my triathlon journey. J

My first triathlon ever was a sprint at Beaver Lake in Issaquah WA in 1997.  I was 104th out of 112 women.  I was ecstatic to have done one and finished strong and happy.  I had (modestly) nursed my 4 month old in a one piece swim suit at the start and was almost as proud of that feat as I was the tri. My time was 2:06:22 and I was last in my age group of 20-24.  A couple of weeks later I went back to school full time.  I signed up for swimming as my PE credit.  I did the Medical Lake Sprint tri in 2008 and was faster on the swim and overall.  With a much smaller field I finished third in my age group (there were probably 4 people in it).  I was one of the first people out of the water and in the top 10 women overall off the bike.  Then I did my usual  (at that point) shuffle and watched all the other women pass me.  I was pretty hooked on tris at that point and wanted to continue but life sort of got in the way.

Fast forward 10 years and 3 more kids (that makes 5 total).  I had finished school and had decided to be a stay-home mom for a bit.  Being a mommy to a lot of little kids makes for not a lot of working out time.  A triple jogging stroller was way outside my price range and I honestly couldn’t muster the motivation anyway.  I was walking pretty regularly while the older kids were at school but I wasn’t seeing any weight loss.  I got my thyroid checked and sure enough that was the issue.  Thyroid medication wasn’t an overnight fix but it let my come out of my mental fog and say “hey I want to do something about the way I look and feel.” 

My sister Nyla lives in Canada about 4 hours away and together we hatched a plan to do some races together and then check in with each other by phone and help each other stay motivated.  The first one we chose was the Kal Rats Triathlon in Vernon B.C. I still didn’t follow a training plan, just kind of started swimming, biking, and running randomly and then calling my sister on the phone and talking about it. 

Being a family of 7 on one income meant that I would be riding my husband’s bike (size 56, yup I’m 5’4”) and wearing a water skiing wetsuit (I didn’t know any better).  I loved and still love biking and became addicted to spin classes at that point (the bikes fit better than the one I was riding outside).  J

The day of the race came and I decided that my wetsuit was too small ( I had gained 50 pounds between my 5th baby and the thyroid issues).  So I would wear my husband’s.  He is 6’ tall with broad shoulders.  I got out there in the water (which had A LOT of milfoil) and realized that I had miscalculated some things: 1. Men’s XL was not my size.  I was dragging a man sized bucket through the swim.

2. I should have trained in open water.

3. I should have checked the distance of the swim more carefully and remembered that there is a pretty big difference between yards and meters.  And it was 750 meters. 

When I finally got out of the water with the guy in his seventies I rushed to my bike and rode it like I stole it.  It was hilly to say the least.  I passed a few people and started my run.  It was hillier.  Like up one side of the steepest hill you can think of then down the other side and turn around and climb it again hilly.  I did not finish last but I was not excited about my performance.  My sister kicked (my) butt. 

I decided my next race should be a half marathon.  Which Nyla and I did together in the fall of 2007 (Spokane, in 2:30 ish  if you are wondering ).

Then a cool thing happened. Nyla and I signed up for Kal Rats and our first Olympic distance (Titanium Man) in 2008 and I met Sarah Foster.  She introduced me to training plans.  Here were all these workouts laid out on a schedule and all I had to do was follow it.  And they had instructions for transitions, nutrition, biking up hills, running at a steady pace, open water swimming and more.  I signed up for the tri Sarah was doing at the end of summer too.  She also dragged me out to Couer D’Alene to watch Ironman CDA that year.  I was so inspired I was ready to think about, maybe, someday, sort of consider, doing it.  Maybe.

My tri experiences got better from there.  I had started to eat a mostly raw vegan diet at that point and not having as much dairy and gluten did great things for me.  I didn’t stick with totally raw but wish that I could.  I have completely eliminated dairy and gluten from my diet and feel tons better. 

That next stint at Kal Rats was a lot better.  I got a 10 min PR and had a much more positive feeling about the race.  My race with Sarah was great too.  I was a runner again and lighter.  Still not a great swimmer but I did just fine.

Titanium man was also fun but I was hoping for an easier time swimming.  It still seemed really long even with the downriver swim.  My overall time was 02:47:01.  Nyla beat me by over 10 min.  But I had finished it.  That was a quarter of an Ironman! Almost. J

So I signed up for my first and then second marathons.  6 weeks apart (don’t do that).

In the meantime hubby had signed up for and completed his first Ironman, the Grand Columbian.  And for CDA but he didn’t tell me.  He’s weird that way.  So when He did Ironman CDA In 2009 (He finally told me what he was up to so I could come watch) I decided I was signing up.  I had signed up for Troika Half Iron and was training for that and best of all I had gotten a bike. 

Let me introduce you to Watson (Watts for short-get it?).  Oh yes I AM that triathlete.  I ride a Cervelo P1 tri bike.  It has zero carbon on it anywhere.  Ultegra components and a Terry saddle.  Speed play pedals (regular not lite action).  When I race I usually borrow carbon wheels from my generous tri friends, which makes the aluminum frame a little nicer to ride for long distances.  I love my bike and while I will upgrade someday, it works just fine.
I also got a wetsuit.  I now race in a women’s Zoot Zenith.  It makes me look like Bat Girl but it’s a little too big now that I’ve lost weight.  This is not too much of a problem because it will never be as bad as that first Kal Rats (what doesn’t drown us makes us stronger, right?).
I’ve continued to get faster since.   My first Troika was right around 6 and a half hours.  In 2010 I joined Team Blaze and was blessed to have Scott and Tristin Roy give me advice and wisdom for my first Ironman.  I raced Ironman CDA and finished in 12 hours and 55 minutes .  I had raced Boise 70.3 in 6:02ish and Onion-man Olympic in 2:51:39 as precursor races and I felt strong and was really happy with my times and my experiences.  I especially appreciated the camaraderie of Team Blaze and the boost of the extra cheer and encouragement that wearing flames seems to bring.
The next year I signed up for Troika again because I really wanted to go sub six at that distance.  Thanks to a migrating swim buoy and 4 extra miles on the bike course I did 6:02:24.  I cried but then realized that If you took the overall winner out, I had won my age group.  I also qualified for Nationals.  I had done Valley Girl (1:12 and third in AG) and went on to do Priest Lake tri (2:45:06 and 2nd AG) and titanium man (2:34:53 1st in my AG) that year too.
2012 was all about the sub six half.  I picked Chelan-man and it was the only one that I did last year. I think.  Hubby will tell you that I forget stuff.  I trained hard and was really excited because my running had improved a lot.  I knew that I could do a 1:47 stand-alone half marathon (Windermere).  It was the first and only time so far that I have ever ridden a disc wheel and it must have worked because my time was 5:49:35 and I was the 5th woman overall and 1st in my AG.  Thank you Charlie for lending me your wheels.  Okay I just remembered the other “half” that I did last year. Boise. Ugh.  I blocked it from my memory.  Just kidding you can look up all kinds of things about Boise 2012 but I’m not going into it.
So that brings us to this year: Hits Half Ironman (5:57:56 and 2nd AG) and Onion-man (2:39:01 and 5th AG but 10th overall).  I’ve run a 3:37:44 marathon (my 13th, at Leavenworth in October) and a 1:43:56 half (Windermere).  I rode two loops of the ironman course without crying (113.4 miles, not sure how that number came out).  I think I’m ready.  If I don’t break my PR it won’t be the end of the world, it’s a different course for both bike and run, but I really hope to. 
I've loved my triathlon journey.  There have been ups and downs of course.  When Scott Roy passed away in April of 2012 was a definite low.   I will borrow his saying in order to cement it a little more firmly into my mind for Sunday.  Enjoy the Journey friends.