Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Maybe I'll start blogging again...

I may start blogging again...but if so, it'll likely be a different flavor than I did a few years back. In other words, the occasional triathlon post, but maybe more on leadership, on life, on purpose. We'll see!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ironman Series: Part 4 of 4; The RUN and I AM AN IRONMAN!

T2- 1:49

Dismounted and the volunteer took my bike and as I ran towards my bag I got my helmet off and the volunteers handed me my bag and then I *nearly* went into the guys change tent--uh oh--thankfully a volunteer (a BT'er I think--I would see him often as I passed the Transition area on the run) got me pointed correctly by using my name. I couldn’t believe I was actually able to RUN to T2, usually even on HIMs my legs feel the ride—maybe adrenaline numbs the pain, cause my legs felt fantastic. I was definitely ready to be off that bike though. Anyhow, got into the tent, and another awesome volunteer lady grabbed my bag got my shoes out, and I threw socks and shoes on and asked her to grab my Garmin, she got it to me, fuel belt on, hat on, and off I went! Another awesome volunteer!!

What would you do differently?:
NOTHING...wow, I had planned for a 5-6 minute transition...1:49, and that included a near detour into the men's tent and taking arm warmers off, totally thrilled with this!! Couldn't believe how fast I did it--but didn't even know that till I was done!

Time: 03:56:48 26.200001 miles 09m 02s min/mile
Age Group: 6/74
Overall: 338/2516
Performance: Good
Lap Info: Didn't get my Garmin started until around 1/3rd of the mile in, so none of the data is accurate--but it kept me on the pace and gave me mile marks, even though they weren't on, that helped me keep pace.
FIRST RUN SEGMENT 3.5 mi. 8:49/mile
SECOND RUN SEGMENT 8.6 mi. 8:58/mile
THIRD RUN SEGMENT 8.3 mi. 9:33/mile
RUN FINISH 5.9 mi. 8:23/mile
3 loop kind of figure 8 around Tempe, includes a couple of hills--Curry hill and going up an overpass. Not huge, but noticeable

So, as I got going my Garmin wasn't tracked on yet so I tried to keep my legs normal--haha, that's funny considering I just averaged a 95-100mph cadence for 112 miles and you think my legs are going to at an "easy" pace—they wanted to keep that cadence. Once my Garmin locked on and I saw 7:30 I yelled at myself and settled into an 8:40-9:00 pace. I also saw my Mom and Bro near the train trestle and that was great! They were so enthusiastic and easy to see in their orange BT IMFL (hey, I bought them, might as well use them!) Support Crew shirts. I ran for a bit with a guy named Warren from Kona. We did nearly the entire first lap together, and he was a super guy. I don't know when I lost him, at an aid station I think, but thanks Warren. I used sponges at each aid station, and man, those people were awesome. I can't say enough about the volunteers. They rocked!! Anyhow, that first loop I felt AWESOME! I even told my brother and Mom to tell everyone I felt STRONG! I mean it was great and I was feeling awesome and not pushing it, and it kept nagging in the back of my head "when are the wheels going to fall off--don't go fast" so I did slow it down on the 2nd loop, I was feeling good, but didn't want to go too fast cause I didn't want to meet that proverbial “wall.” I have only met that wall in one race, Buffalo Springs Half-Iron in June ’08—my first Half-Iron, so it’s something I don’t know well, and that’s fine, I don’t want to know it well. The 2nd loop was a little harder in some spots, and THEN (remember, one each discipline!) one thing about my fast T2 was I didn't grab a couple of the GUs that I was supposed to and thus was out of my GUs by mile 14. So, now it's on to Plan B...thankfully, of all of the Gatorade products, I like the orange stuff. That's what they were serving, so I started hitting that at each station, and grabbed bananas twice. Finished the 2nd loop and knew I was on the last leg, I knew that the next time I got down there I'd be heading to the finish line. I never picked up special needs as I didn't want to stop. I hate stopping. There was no walking, just slowing down to grab some water, grab a sponge, grab some Gatorade and move out!! I had to weave around a few folks when they stopped right in front of me. It was on this loop that I saw Dave finally, and he asked if I was on 2nd or 3rd and I said 3rd and he said something encouraging, what I don't know! I had seen him a few times on the bike too--he's much better at looking out for his battle buddies on the race course than I am, thanks Sapper. On the course, there were several times I thanked God for giving me the ability to do this and just prayed to "run and not grow weary" just like one of my favorite verses. I still kept it a sane pace until I think I saw the 22 mile marker and then I picked it up. I had also previously told myself that I could take coke at mile 22, and I did at the 22/23/24 mile aid stations...I think it had an effect cause I wasn't slowing down, I was just picking it up. Man, when I saw the 24 mile sign I think that is when the HUGE smile became permanently plastered on my face. I didn't want to surge too soon, but at that 24 mile mark I thought "it's only an APFT run, that's it!!" I picked it up, and then when I got within that last mile and heard the finish line, and announcing and ran through the big fan area again and heard people say push it out and you might go sub-11 (I knew that wouldn't happen) but I did pick it up, and when I made that turn towards the finish line it was SO AWESOME!! Someone had a margarita's at the finish line sign, people were cheering, and I noticed I was running with another lady, a guy passed us in that chute and I let him go, but I picked it up more, not to sprint, but to give myself some space between her and I--I slapped some hands along the right hand side, have NO idea what song was playing, and had my arms up in victory as I heard "Brittany from Killin' (he literally said Killin' vs. Killeen) Texas you are an Ironman!!" WOW!!! Apparently to those watching it looked I came in with a group, but man alive I felt like I had that WHOLE finish line to myself!! It was glorious! I have seen pictures and I had the huge smile and big wide eyes that my Dad and brother Jeremy get when they are acting silly, I was in pure ecstasy as I had seen it said 11:01 or something--seriously, 11:01 on my first IM and the wheels NEVER fell off on the run??!?! I kept waiting--don't get me wrong, my feet hurt, my legs started getting really sore, but I was going to run that whole marathon and I personally hate anything slower than a 9m/m pace (I blame the Army in my cadet days...they made that the "slow" person pace, and that was me at the time) and somehow my mind latched into it all and kept me going. The finish line was awesome!

What would you do differently?:

Maybe not go so fast initially and pace faster at the end, take all my GU's with me. Practice with Gatorade and see if I can do that and not carry a fuel belt. Otherwise, NOTHING. I wanted to run a 4-4:15 marathon and CANNOT BELIEVE I did a sub-4 marathon. This was only my second ever marathon, and only 22 minutes slower than my stand alone time. I was never tempted to walk as I knew that would've knocked me down. I wish maybe I'd talked to a few other athletes, but I did cheer several on, and anytime I saw a service member, we exchanged pleasantries--a "Oorah" or "Hooah" or "Go Army!" It was great. I can't think of anything I could've done. I kept expecting to hit a low, but never did. The time went by faster than I could imagine and I just am amazed at what strong training and mental toughness can do. I had done some mental training with the Army Center for Enhanced Performance, and one of the things was when my legs hurt to think of ice melting the hurt away, and that worked. Also, a couple of the times where it got tough in effort, I reached up and touched my visor--on one side it said "SPC Steffey, KIA 25 Oct 09" as a tribute to my Soldier and on the other side it said "USMA 2002 KIA" to honor my West Point Classmates who were killed in OIF and OEF. That motivated me. I often thought of my Dad who couldn’t be there watching online, other family watching, BT'ers tracking, Blythe, Joe, Liz, and other friends tracking and those who inspired me to get to where I am, and how I knew Blythe and Joe had been debating on whether I had blown my legs out or not and I think I even heard Blythe cheering in Rhode Island as I got near the end. Blythe—you have inspired me more than you know! I kept thinking of the tips Stephen had given me about racing. It ends up, in the tracking realm, that my brother Ben was posting in Facebook all day as if he were me--they were pretty hilarious posts and I think kept it interesting for everyone all day and made for a good laugh for me post-race!! I wanted him to update it with my iPhone, but his method was great. Thanks Ben! The run didn't feel like a marathon...it felt like one of those 20 mile runs on the hilly routes at Ft. Hood on an early Sunday after a long ride on Saturday. I suppose I could've kicked it a little earlier and gone sub 11, but seriously, I don't care! I am an Ironman and SO SHOCKED at the time, there is no crying or second guessing here! My run moved me up in AG and overall rankings a ton! What a blast!!

Post race

Warm down:
A great catcher came up to me and I wasn't falling over or anything, she got me blanket, and water, and my finisher gear (t-shirt and hat) and I got my medal. I went and hugged Mom and Benny over the side wall, then got my unit Guidon so I could take my finisher picture with it. The catcher was so sweet, staying with me, and I didn't realize it...she helped me out, thanks catcher! I then headed over with Mom to get some clothes on and signed up for a massage. Got the massage and just felt good to lay there. I did try some pizza and a banana but I didn't want it. I wasn't hungry AT ALL. After the massage Ben went to get my bike and bags, and Mom and I went to the bleachers to cheer in Dave and Tanya) in, and they both came in looking great. Tanya picked it up on the run and I’m so happy for her! She looked great. I wanted to stay more, but the body said not so much so. So, we decided to head home. I really wanted to be famished, but I wasn't. I was sore, that's for sure, but not dying. However, once the car got moving, I guess the stomach said, yep, that's enough--didn't lose too much, but my stomach finally rebelled. No worries--it waited till post-finish line, and that's fine by me. Got home and took a hot bath and then tried to sleep, but was too sore to sleep much, oh well...every ache was confirmation that I was, in fact, an Ironman!

What limited your ability to perform faster:
Umm, maybe just that I’ve only been doing this stuff for 2 years? I still think I need to hit a better race weight, I did well the last month and came into the race better than I had been previously this year, but the next time I race IM I would like to be at around 120-125 and I think that in itself will make me faster. For the first time putting all three of this distance together and not knowing how it might go, I don't know that I had any physical limitations. I pushed myself hard and didn't feel like I had anything more left at the end. Those last few miles I told myself to leave it all out there, and I did. I exceeded all of my personal expectations and defied my past. I am thrilled.

Event comments:
This race was awesome and I have nothing to complain about AT ALL. Well organized, super volunteers, smooth roads (what a blessing compared to TX chip seal), timely events, and just completely well organized. I am very pleased with the entire WTC organization. No complaints at all. I appreciate every volunteer out there. I have to put out some major thank you's: first and foremost, to God for giving me the drive, determination, and body to get through this. I'm truly amazed at what the body can go through. Second, to Stephen for coaching me throughout the year. I'm excited to see what he does in the future not just as an athlete but a coach. Third, to my parents for their support of my craziness and for coming out--well, Dad couldn't after the switch cause of work. My siblings haven't written me off as crazy and act proud, so I appreciate that, and of course Ben's hilarious face book posts on my status update throughout race day. Next goes out to my friends. To Blythe, Joe, Liz, you roped me into this, and I’m so grateful. We must stop having these kool aid drinking parties. I hope we get to race an IM together someday…thanks for taking me into the T3 crew for some of those early season rides. To my BT friends--you have no idea how much I appreciate you and how much you motivate me. If it wasn't for BT, I doubt I'd have ever gotten switched over and might've missed this entire IM experience. I am grateful to have met so many of you and to call so many of you friends. I'd list you all, but there are simply too many. it...To Tanya, who rode HUNDREDS of miles with me, who complained with me, who kicked me in the butt when I needed I couldn't have become an Ironman without you...thanks for being my friend, and congrats on being an Ironman! To my friends and classmates who have encouraged me on Facebook and seen me become a different person in the realms of athletic capabilities, thanks of supporting me and thanks for your service—whether you’re still in or not, you have given so much. I’m honored to have you as friends, and I know we all miss those classmates who are no longer with us. I hope I honored them in this race. Looking forward to the future, and I'm definitely not one and done!!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Ironman Series: Part 3 of 4; THE BIKE!

Time: 05:45:14 112 miles 19.47 mile/hr
Age Group: 12/74
Overall: 805/2516
Performance: Good
First loop avg- 19.74 (37 miles) Second loop avg- 18.86 (37 miles) Third loop avg- 19.81 (38 miles) Comments:
Wow, so this the Ironman bike! As I headed out it was great to be on nice smooth road and I was going 20-21mph and it felt easy, I was little concerned cause I didn't want to go out to fast. Then...remember, there is always a "then" for each discipline...I drink out of my aero-bottle and the water tastes HORRIBLE. I had purchased and put in a new sponge in my Podium Quest, I made sure not to get the detergent one, and I have re-checked it, it was not a detergent one according to the package--but it was according to that bottle. That water was NOT drinkable. Crap. So, at the first aide station I grab a bottle and drink from it and then keep it precariously (since it's not made to fit in a bike cage) in my empty back left bike cage. Unfortunately I now have an aero bottle with water in it that I can't drink, and I can't take the time to dump out. Oh well. Then I hit the Beeline and WIND. What the heck? Stupid lying weather people...there wasn't supposed to be wind in this direction, it was supposed to be the other way. But, they were about 10-15mph winds from the north. So, I decide right there on loop one that I will NOT kill my legs fighting up the incline that is the Beeline--long and gradual with a couple little steeper parts--so I shift into my small chainring and just keep a solid and high cadence. Now, I hardly EVER go into the small chain ring unless it's just a hill I know I have to go into it. But I kept it there and agreed with myself right then and there that if my bike split wasn't my ideal goal of 5:45, well, that's fine, the important thing is to still have legs when I get off the bike. I finally reach with the first turn around, and my quads are feeling the work I had to do to get through the wind. Then I turned around and it was a HEAVEN! The tailwind was fantastic and I was going downhill and I think I averaged 24-28mph nearly all the way to the turn around at Mills Ave and did my first lap at about 1:52--that was my ideal goal, sweet! I hear my Mom and Ben cheering for me and my training partner's (Tanya) friends and family cheering me on as well as some fun "Go Army!" Off I go onto loop 2. I notice, however, that there is more wind on this stretch heading out towards the Beeline. And it is here where K1 and K2 (names held to protect the guilty) the two women drafters come into play. K1 was first--and she came up and camped out right in front of me, grrr...I hate this, if you're going to pass me and go faster, do it, but don't pass me and then slow down. So, I would drop back doing the right thing, then finally get tired of it and pass her again. Then she'd do the camp out thing. Thankfully she stopped at a porta potty and I was hopeful that was the end of that. I was hitting my nutrition right on. I had waited until 10 minutes into the bike to take anything, but that's when I had started my Infinit. My nutrition was a 10/30/50 minutes each hour, with the top of the hour one being a GU, and twice I ate a little bit of a PayDay bar. Anyhow, I'm on the second loop and then whoosh--here comes a drafting pack to include K1 and K2, they come up right on me and past me some, but sort of do the camp out thing, well, I'm NOT GOING TO GET IN THE DRAFT PACK! So, I drop back some, and they take off, then some of them are dropped and I pass them, to include K1 and and K2. This happened on and off the entire 2nd and 3rd loops. I probably had packs come up on me like that 4-5 times. I despise cheaters. yes, there was wind, but SUCK IT UP! I trained in the wind, I'm racing my own race in the wind. Anyhow, I did the right thing. That 2nd loop I went faster up the Beeline than previously, but had to go to small chain ring earlier, and I couldn't bomb as fast down the Beeline to the Mills turn-around because the wind had shifted and was more of a crosswind. I was tempted to check my average speed as my display just shows time, distance, current speed, HR, and cadence. Oh, HRM, so I had mine on, but the dumb thing picked up too many HRMs and I was frozen at 107 the entire bike...so didn't get any data there, oh well. I don't really use HR on the bike as much as I pay attention to RPE, cadence and speed. I was keeping AWESOME cadence on the inclines and would shift if I dropped below 90RPMs. Anyhow, I make it back down to Mills and turn around on my last loop!! Yay! I'm excited to be on this loop cause next time I come down I am DONE. This time heading up the Beeline I was able to get about half-way before any small chain ring was needed. I never needed Special Needs, and I didn't need off my bike. It was at 81 or 82 miles in that Sally finally passed me! I also had a couple of other BT’ers roll up on me at one point too--it was nice to have some friendly folks out there saying hello!! I told Sally I was wondering when she was going to pass me cause she is fast!! I had hoped to keep her in my eyesight, and I did, until one of those packs got between us. For that last loop I did a lot of stretching and actually felt like I took this lap the easiest, yet I did it the fastest! Craziness!! I was thrilled to come rolling into the turn around and get to go into the bike chute instead of turning around. I didn't hear my name announced, but I did hear "representing the US Army as an Officer..." and that was cool. I slowed down in the bike chute, got out of my shoes, and I noticed lots of people lining the bike chute, but they were quiet. Now, having cheered at IMCdA and noticing the same phenomenon at the bike chute, and as a good cheerer, I was yelling and get people going I shouted "come on folks, let's get some noise, this is Ironman!!" The crowd went loud and it was AWESOME!! YEAH!! I may not have slowed down as quickly as volunteers wanted, but it was great, I got dismounted and my legs felt super--which I totally didn't expect. I never did have to stop and pee or pee on the bike, which concerned me a little bit, but I knew I took in enough water. I just think I sweat it all out. The 2nd loop was the most difficult and I kept waiting for the turn-around, but besides that, what a super day of riding!
What would you do differently?:
During the whole bike I had thoughts of my friends and family watching and tracking online, both my BT friends and others on Facebook, and I knew my friends Blythe and Joe were having the conversation of "I hope she didn't blow her legs out, I hope she didn't blow her legs out." Not because they don’t have faith in me, but because it’s a legitimate thought! Blythe and Joe and Liz have been super inspirations and support for me, so it actually motivated me to think about what they were thinking while tracking. I admit, I thought the same thing about blowing out my legs throughout the ride, but also felt like I had done a good job of paying attention to RPE and cadence. I had also made the conscience decision to use my small chain ring for a HUGE part of the ride in comparision to my usual methods of riding. I stayed on nutrition, though I burped up some bile a couple of times, and that was gross---may have been an effect of the water I took in on the swim (not too much, but some) and the nasty soapy water I drank initially. But, I knew I was good on getting in what I needed to on the bike--though I was tired of it by the time I was done. Going into that small chain ring was probably the SMARTEST decision I would make all day long. I have done 10 or 11 one hundred mile plus rides, but have always had some stopping moments in there. I never ever stopped on the bike. I never had to pee, which concerned me some, but then again, it didn't, I was sucking down water plenty, I just think I sweat it out. I never have to pee on the bike in a race, and I guess the same thing happened during Ironman. I was willing to try on the bike, but never had to do so. My "best case" ride scenario was a 5:45--I did 5:45:14...I'll take it!! Would I like to get faster here, could I be better on hills (not that IMAZ is really hilly, but it’s not totally flat), yes, but I'm TOTALLY thrilled with being able to do this during IM ESPECIALLY considering I DID NOT blow my legs out--but that's for the run segment of this Race Report!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ironman Series: Part 2 of 4--The Swim

Time: 01:12:21 3862.4299 meters 01m 52s / 100meters
Age Group: 23/74
Overall: 732/2516
Performance: Good
Suit: Zoot Fuzion with Quintana Roo Speed Sleeves
Course: Semi-Rectangular, one loop
Start type: Deep Water
Water temp: 63F / 17C Comments:
So we were herded to the docks to hop in, and at about 6:45AM I ditched my socks on my feet and hopped on into the water. I easily swam out to the start line and positioned myself about 3/4 of the way over from the wall side and about 3-4 rows back. I floated, treaded some water, soaked it in, cheered off the pro’s, and hooped and hollered when Mike Riley was getting everyone motivated and then the National Anthem was played, and as I looked at that flag, and as Mike Riley mentioned doing it honor of those who serve our country I thought of my Soldiers, my friends, and I actually got a little choked up here. Ahh, can't cry now!! Thankfully, no crying, and the next thing I know there goes the gun and we're off!! It was meelee for the first 200-300m but not as bad as I thought it would be as far as crazy contact. I mean, it was there, but not insane, and then I was swimming normal. Sure, some folks got to close and hit my legs one too many times, but I'm not a docile person, and I wasn't going to play in this water, I was going to swim and no one was going to stop me. I got it if you hit my legs once or twice, but keep doing it and I'm going to react. So, I made it through fine. I did have a hard time seeing the buoys so I just kept swimming what I thought was a straight line towards the far bridge. I think I went fairly straight as I actually ended up inside the buoy line because it went with the curve of the lake. I just stayed right inside that buoy line, and was feeling awesome. I couldn't believe how good I felt. I kept thinking "strong, smooth, quick, and long, strong, smooth, quick, and long" exactly like the imagery script I had put together with Dan at the Army Center for Enhanced Performance. I also told myself, just like I did in the script (it was put to music, sound effects, and walked through the whole IM day), that I had blinders on, that I wasn't going to pay attention to the rest of the swimmers and swim my swim. I caught a few feet and just kept swimming, kept focused on good strokes, and finally good sighting, and of course when I got to the turn around it was all crazy crowded, but this was fun. WOW, I was doing an Ironman swim, I was now HALFWAY DONE with my Ironman swim and I was feeling SUPER! Seriously, at this point, usually much before, the thoughts of "am I done yet, am I done yet" are going through my mind, but this time I'm actually having a blast!! I love the people everywhere, I loved seeing the people on the bridges as we swam over the first time, it was just awesome!! I also had moments of thinking "swim like Blythe, swim like Liz" (they are fish!). So, now I was swimming back and feeling great, stayed right on the buoy line, no problems!! Then...there is always a then in each discipline during an IM, right, then my right calf cramps up right as I get to the first bridge on the way back. Seriously? Ugh...this is not good, usually such things last and bug me the whole day, but I'm going to be an Ironman, so I stop kicking with that leg and simply kick with the left leg, and pull. At the same time I'm praying, "Dear God, please work out the cramp, please work out the cramp." Sure enough, by the time I got under the second bridge it wasn't hurting any more and I just kept swimming, made the turn towards shore and I am THRILLED! I am about done with the Ironman swim and now I will get to bike!! I make it to the ladders, and I go for the far left one as it was free, I swim to the orange stripe and the awesome volunteer helps me out! That's it, I finished the swim! My BEST case guess scenario was a 1:10, my most likely scenario was a 1:15-1:20. When I looked at my watch and saw 1:12 I was SUPER HAPPY!! I never actually have fun in the swim, but this swim was a blast—couldn’t have picked a better day to have a great swim!
What would you do differently?:
More open water swimming in my wetsuit. I know this is the discipline where I need to get better, and it's going to require someone looking at my stroke and helping me get better, but to sustain this pace for the entire IM swim and feel SUPER SUPER at the end (usually I feel a little winded) makes me happy. Do I want to improve here in the future, yes. Do I need to swim more, yes. But as far as this day, and this race, there is nothing I'd do differently. I wore my sleeveless wetsuit as the long sleeve one I had is too hard on my shoulders. In anticipation of the cold, I had bought the Quintanna Roo Speed Sleeves—basically long wetsuit sleeves, but they don’t impede my range of motion in my shoulders…SUPER investment.

Friday, November 27, 2009

IRONMAN--The series!

WOOHOO! I AM AN IRONMAN! Ironman Arizona on 22 November was an INCREDIBLE experience, and I had an absolute blast and will do more. My race report is, well, fairly lengthy, so I'm going to put it up in a series of 4 over the next few days, starting with pre-race, swim, bike, and run. I do truly appreciate the support for many of you in blog land as I've made this journey this year. I've learned things from your blogs, and am always amazed at the encouragement the triathlon community shares with each other! So, the series begins...this race report is taken from a similiar format that I posted on BeginnerTriathlete.com.

Tempe, Arizona, United States, Ironman North America
70F / 21C Sunny
Triathlon - Full Ironman
Total Time = 11h 01m 49s
Overall Rank = 447/2516
Age Group = F25-29
Age Group Rank = 9/74

Pre-race routine:
*DISCLAIMER* This is going to be a VERY VERY LONG race report.* So, back in 2007, while in Iraq, my dear friend Blythe tells me that she was going to race an Ironman. She had registered for one that year, but the whole deployment thing pushed that back. She then persisted on telling me that I should become a triathlete. I told her she was CRAZY. I had started endurance running there and planned on a marathon, but I told her that doing an Ironman is just crazy. Well, it didn't take much longer for me to decide that maybe this triathlon thing would be kind of cool. Come April '08 I had done a sprint and a 1/4 tri and was planning on two HIMs that year. Blythe's husband, then fiance', Joe, and another good friend, Liz, raced IMAZ April 08. I was at Blythe's house and we were talking about it, and I mentioned that I wanted to do an Ironman by the time I was 30 or the same year, so why not 2010. Joe, still on his high from finishing his first at IMAZ, told me "you will do one next year." I again told him, he's crazy, not next year. Next thing you know, I am in Florida with my friend Kathy cheering on my friend Sue and Aimee and more, and signing up for IMFL myself. Yep, I just kept chugging the kool aid that Blythe and Joe and Liz were feeding me. I was all signed up for IMFL and trying to determine the coach issue. I had a few options, but honestly, it wasn't in the financial cards for me. Then, Stephen (a BT friend) offered to give it a shot coaching me, and I took him up on it. In DEC, I started some training, and was registered for the Boston Marathon in April '09. A little tumble on my bike resulted in a stress fracture to the head of my right fibula, and no Boston. But, I kept training without running--IMFL was the goal for the year. I did a HIM Aquabike (cause of the stress fracture), and then once I was recovered, I did several Olympics and the Redman HIM all in preparation. I also got to cheer on friends at Ironman Couer d’ Alene, Idaho where Blythe became an Ironman, and Joe and Liz repeated their Ironman accomplishments, along with several awesome Austin T3 Tri Club triathletes. I had a blast cheering and that was just the inspiration I needed to continue training through the crazy Texas summer. I got in a lot of long training rides with my awesome friend Tanya who was training for Ironman Arizona. She and I put in HUNDREDS of miles together. I was getting in a lot of cycling miles and having a blast at long cycling. It was all about IMFL. I was doing my last race of the year pre-IM at the Longhorn 70.3 on 25 Oct 09. Because it was only 2 weeks before IMFL, I was doing it as a relay with my friends Mike and Steve. After I finished up a decent swim I got a horrible phone call. One of my Soldiers, SPC Brandon Steffey, a Military Working Dog handler that I had deployed to Afghanistan in June '09, and his dog Maci, were both Killed In Action by an IED in Afghanistan. I immediately left the race course and headed back to Ft. Hood to work through all of the things I needed to as a Commander. Life was very busy and crazy and sad during those days, and it started becoming clearly evident that going to IMFL was not something I should do. Attending my Soldier's funeral in Michigan, as well as then being asked to speak at his funeral, was my top priority. I could *maybe* have whirlwinded it down to IMFL, but I was in no state of mind or emotional fitness to do that. I expressed as much to two awesome people—Sue and Aimee--and I sent various emails to WTC sponsors, and without going into details, let's just WTC is very military friendly as are some of the sponsors, and I was able to switch over to IMAZ '09. I had alread intended to come out to IMAZ to cheer, so I already had a place to stay, and now I'd get to go to my grandparent's and aunt's houses for Thanksgiving. Well, literally as I was getting off the plane from returning from my Soldier's funeral, on 5 Nov 09, the Ft. Hood shooting was taking place. I couldn't even get onto post initially. I am the commander of a Military Police Law Enforcement Detachment...my troops played a VERY large role as first responders to the scene. I cannot imagine the anxiety and craziness I would've felt if I had been in FL and not at Ft. Hood. My Soldiers did PHENOMENAL, and we got through a very crazy week of extra law enforcement duty, Presidential visit, and then the Ft. Hood Memorial Service for SPC Steffey. I didn't even have a chance to whine about not being at IMFL, and that was fine, cause I was okay with it. I had priorities, and I was able to fulfill them, and due to some awesome people, I was totally comfortable with IMAZ becoming my race. I had to shift out of taper and back into training for a little bit, but it was no big deal. FINALLY, on 16 November my Mom and I headed out from Killeen to New Mexico and Arizona for my Ironman. FINALLY.

I got to Arizona on the afternoon of 19 Nov after visiting family in New Mexico, and we picked my brother up at the airport. We then went straight to registration as I wanted to try to get in on Thursday vs. the lines on Friday. Sure enough, I was one of the last people through, and no line at about 4PM that Thursday. Getting the wristband, my packet, taking pictures with the M-Dot, and more made it seem so much more real. "Holy cow, I'm going to do an Ironman" kept running through my head. We then made it to the house that I, Judy, and Dave (triathlete friends of mine from the BeginnerTriathlete.com Triathlon Forum/Website—from now on called “BT”) were sharing that weekend and settled into the house. My Mom, my brother, Dave, and I hit Pei-Wei for dinner that night and called it day. 20 November- That morning Judy and I headed to the race expo to get in a practice swim. Word was the water was cold, like 63/64 degrees cold. Besides racing, I hadn't done much OWS and definitely not in cold water, so I was a little nervous. Once I got onto the steps heading down into the water I was afraid I was going to freeze when my feet got wet--but it wasn't too bad, so I just hopped in and went! Yay, the water was NOT going to be an issue for me!! Excellent. Had a great little 30 minute swim, did some Expo stuff, and then Judy, Dave, and I drove the bike course to get an idea of what we were going to be up against. When we got to the house the three of us took our bikes for a little spin to make sure it all worked well. I then packed my transition and special needs bags while watching Shrek.

That night, my Mom, Ben (brother), Judy, and I headed to the Athlete's dinner. The food was "eh" but that was expected, but it was nice to get the feel of Ironman and to hear different people talk, even though the Tempe Mayor is a true odd-ball, and best of all, I got to finally meet Sally—another BT friend of mine. We had both been following each others training and encouraging each other year long, so it was fun to meet in person—this may sound crazy to some of you, but BT is a great place and I have so many dear friends that I’ve met at races and continue friendship there from across the country. Anyhow, it was then off to bed. 21 November- I didn't want to do too much, but I did do a 15 minute spin on Juan (my bike), and a 10 minute easy run. Then it was off to the race site for bike and transition bag check in, plus I gave Mom and Ben the lay of the land so they could figure out where to cheer. They also made some fun cheering signs for me at the Janus Inspiration Tent. When I came home I thought of going to the BT get-together with Dave and Carise, but at the same time I just wanted to sit around with my legs up. That is pretty much what I did the rest of the day. I tried to get to sleep early, and while I was in bed early, it took quite a while to get to sleep between being excited, nervous, and my brother lacking some general "be quiet, there are soon-to-be Ironmen in the house sleeping" understanding. I finally got there though, and thankfully I set two alarms, cause I never heard my watch, but my phone alarm went off at 3:35AM. I got up, ate my two PBJ waffle sandwiches, a boiled egg, a cup of coffee, and grabbed my bottle of GU2O and a banana for a bit later. I got all dressed, grabbed my special needs bags, ate my banana and sipped on the GU2O (would end up drinking about 1/2 of the bottle). At 4:50AM we were out the door headed to Ironman! We finally got in the parking garage, and during this time it was no longer "Holy Cow I'm going to do an Ironman", it was "Holy cow, I'm DOING an Ironman TODAY." But at the same time, I wasn't anxious, and overly nervous. I hit one of the park restrooms (which was still clean and flushed) taking care of my final necessary business (very important to triathletes!) and went and got body marked, checked in my special needs bags while praying I wouldn't need to see them, and then headed to the transition area where I aired up my tires, put my water in my aerobottle, and my nutrition bottles on the bike. Saw Sally and said hi--we both did the Janus Charity Challenge (raising money for charity—I raised over $3500 for the Wounded Warrior Project, thank you to EVERYONE who contributed!!), and thus had low bib #'s near each other. It was then wetsuit time, and I did that over near the edge of transition near my Mom and Brother, and instead of checking the dry clothes bag, just gave it and my pump to them. I was doing pretty well till I got ready to tell Mom good-bye and after a quick prayer, she started getting teary and I told her she can't do that or it'll make me teary!! Haha! So, off I went, I felt like I had to pee--but there was no way I was waiting in that line. Besides, Tempe Town Lake is cold, I will need to warm myself up, let's wait till the swim start. I meandered into the area where the athletes were gathering, and waited for Mike Riley to call us forward thru the swim exit and chip starter. They started wanting us to get in at 6:40AM...well, I don't want to be in the water that soon, but it is about a 200yd swim to the start line, so after eating a GU I finally, after waiting around a bit, I went on ahead and jumped in and made my way to the start line. Again, it wasn't as cold as I had braced for it to be. This is IT, let's do an Ironman.

Event warmup:
Swimming from the docks to the start line and then peeing in my wetsuit, yep, that warmed me up. It's an Ironman, I don't think much more warm up is required.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Missing in Action- Let me update

Dear Friends, I know some of you may have wondered where I wandered off to, especially after my promise to update the blog during taper for IMFL. I could write a huge story about it all, but I'm going to keep it as brief as possible. I had started to taper down for FL. On 25 Oct, I was at the Longhorn 70.3 doing the swim leg of our "Team Army Strong" relay (we ended up taking 3rd out of the 36 co-ed teams) when, after my swim was over, I got the worst call a commander can ever get. One of my military working dog teams that I had deployed to Afghanistan (part of the MP unit I command are military working dogs, and they deploy individually to Iraq and Afghanistan) had been killed in action by an IED--both the Soldier and the dog. I immediately left the race site and raced back to Ft. Hood to start dealing with this shocking and sad event. I won't go too much into the details, but it was quite a blow to the unit and we prepared to support the family as much as possible. As we began preparing the details for his Memorial Service, we were awaiting the time and date of his funeral. It ended up that his funeral was going to be the 4 November, the Wednesday before the Saturday Ironman Florida. The choice was simple, I would be at my Soldier's funeral. After making the choice I was also asked to speak at it. There was only one SPC Brandon Steffey, but plenty of Ironman races. So, I decided I would not attend. It would be a whirlwind to try and make it down there in time, if I could even do that, and I was in no mental state to attempt that. Triathlon may be a huge aspect of my lifestyle, but being a leader, a commander, and officer is my life.

The funeral was incredible, if one can call a funeral incredible. The entire town of Sault Ste. Marie showed up, and I do not think that is an exaggeration. The amount of support that they gave to honor my fallen hero was awe inspiring, truly a send off for the hero that Brandon was. Thousands lined the streets, thousands more paid respects, and the high school gym was literally packed with thousands more who came to honor him. I am honored to have had the chance to be part of his life, and honored to be able to publicly give my tribute to him as his Commander and fellow Soldier.

I traveled back to Ft. Hood on 5 November. I landed at the airport at just around 1:45PM. Of course, you have all watched the news and are quite aware of what happened at that time on Ft. Hood. I am an MP, and the Soldiers I command do law enforcement. You know where they were when cowardly gunman wreaked havoc on our Ft. Hood community. I was locked out of the post as they had locked it down, but thankfully was able to get passage onto post to help coordinate my MPs actions. I didn't have to do too much. My guys were doing EXACTLY what needed to be done. While the event is horrendous and has shocked and angered all of us at Ft. Hood, the response by my MPs, the Dept. of the Army Civilian Police we work with, the local and state law enforcement that arrived to help, and all of the Soldiers that immediately responded to the incident is nothing short of phenomenal. I could not be more proud of the actions my Soldiers did that day. I have no doubt that they saved lives, and I do know for a fact that their actions led the timely security of the scene and the post. I had K9 teams integrating into the various SRT/SWAT teams, I had other MPs rendering first aid, securing the scene, interviewing witnesses, labeling evidence, etc. All of the major leadership from the unit were out of the net when this happened because we had been at the funeral, but our Soldiers didn't miss a beat. They too are heroes. It's humbling to work in the presence of heroes.

Needless to say, my decision to not do Florida was a good one because if I had whirl wind traveled to Panama City Beach instead of back to Fort Hood, and then been there when the incident went down, instead of with my troops, there is no way I could've functioned. My mind and heart would not be in it. On top of the fact that we had Brandon's Ft. Hood Memorial Service planned for 12 November, the President had decided to come to Ft. Hood on the 10th which results in additional increase in law enforcement requirements that my Soldiers fill. No, being in Florida would not have been fun, it would not have been right, and it simply wasn't going to happen this year.

However, through some incredible friends and great people, I was blessed to have the opportunity to race at Ironman Arizona on 22 November. So, I was able to work with my Soldiers throughout the immediate and follow-up response to the shooting as well as the President's visit (I didn't do much, they did all the heavy lifting), as well as ensure the proper planning and execution of what turned out to be a wonderful and professional Memorial Service for Brandon at Ft. Hood. I did have to stop the taper and throw some early morning runs and LONG trainer rides (5.5 hours for one--I needed to be on quick recall) into the mix, but that's okay. I was able to take care of my priorities and do my duty, and still have the opportunity to race Ironman. I was sad to not do Florida, but in the end, relieved that I didn't attempt it, and so thankful to those who helped me get an Ironman Arizona slot.

SO, 22 November is the DAY! I am now on leave and it is IRONMAN WEEK! I will BE an Ironman. Not only have I raised nearly $3000 for the Wounded Warrior Project (you can still donate! Click this link: https://www.kintera.org/faf/donorreg/donorpledge.asp?ievent=296591&supID=249395962) and I will be racing in memory of SPC Brandon Steffey, my West Point Classmates who have been killed in action, and of course with thoughts of the entire Ft. Hood community in my heart. I have the opportunity, the physical fitness, and the drive to do something that so many will never have the chance or opportunity to do again. I will be wearing my Army tri-uniform and racing Army Strong. I'm either bib #101 or 2266 (if I have a choice, #101--I'm oddly listed twice, but IM said we'll figure it out at registration) so track me at Ironman.com on Sunday! Race report will follow!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Getting close!

Hey look, it's only been 16 days this time since I blogged anything! When I hit solid taper, I intend to blog a little bit more. Three things have kept me busy: my job (command), Ironman training (of course), and grad school applications. The later takes more than I thought it would! Good grief! Oh well, should be done soon and then it'll be the "sit and wait" to find out where I go. There will be more of that to come though, so enough talk on it!
October started off with a bang as I headed off to Washington D.C. for the 25th Annual Army 10-Miler. I was fortunate enough to be on the Ft. Hood Women's team. What a great group of ladies! We headed out on the 2nd, and despite a minor plane delay, got there with no issues. It was not nearly as chilly as we had anticipated, but that was fine by us as any heat would only be an advantage to this Texas team. We picked up our packets and managed to avoid a big crowd. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend some quality time with two good friends of mine over the next couple of days, and that was quite enjoyable. One convinced me to purchase the Vibram Five Finger KSOs pictured to the right. Right now I'm just wearing them because

they are comfortable. After Ironman I intend to do some actual running in them, so more in the future. I'm sure there will be some adventures to follow! Back to D.C., so race day came and the weather was absolutely beautiful. We were a short 1.5 miles from the race start so we jogged over that morning and dropped all of our gear at the Ft. Hood AUSA tent. Myself and 3 of the other ladies headed to the race start and seeded ourselves in our corrals. Guess we could have started closer up, but no problem. It really could not have been better weather. Perfect temps in the 60's, no wind, and totally sunny. The race started and I did my best to hang to with one of the ladies until she took off around mile 3. The first few miles were super fast. I was keeping a good 6:50-7 min/mile pace and that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to give this team 100%. They had been training together, and I missed all of that because I had Ironman training. So, I wanted to prove that it was worth it to have me on the roster. Anyhow, I was keeping fairly solid up through mile 6 and as we headed back past the Capitol and Smithsonian. It was probably the last two miles that got me a little bit. Not major hills or anything, but a couple of bridges/overpasses that, when working hard and going fast, definitely can impact pace. At mile 8 I caught back up to one of my teammates and actually passed her (she was actually on the Master's Mixed Team) and hoped she'd latch onto me. I then opened it up with all I had left on the last 1/2 mile. I finished with a 1:11:54 (7:11 pace) and compared to the 1:17 and 1:27 I ran in Iraq in '06 and '07, I'd call that a PR. Our team time would be taken from the first 4 of the 6 of us on our team crossed the line, and I was #4, so I earned my spot. We went 1:08 something, 1:09 something, 1:11:50, and 1:11:54. It ended up being enough for us to take 2nd overall in the Active Duty Women's category. The Men took 2nd as well, and our Mixed Master's team BLEW the field away and easily took 1st place. In the past, the Ft. Hood men have podiumed twice, but that's it. So, it was nice to be a little part of Ft. Hood running history there. Unfortunately, I didn't get to stay around the rest of the week with the team at the AUSA conference because I needed to get back to the job. The 10-miler was a fun race, and one I'd like to do again. I know I can run it faster if I'm trained for the 1/2 marathon distance or so with some more speedwork. The endurance aspect of me allowed me to put some more miles in the bank later in the day, after the race, but I think I can do a 70 minute ten-miler. We shall see in the future. This race, in Iraq in '06, is what got me hooked into endurance sports, so it was fun to do the real thing with great people.

That 10-miler did, however, whoop my legs! Going that hard for that distance beat my legs up a bit more than my longer runs did. But, I got right back to it and that weekend I had a whooper of a workout. During the week I sort of met the "I'm tired of training, let's just get to race day already" moment. So, when Saturday morning got there and I found it 52 degrees and cloudy, I wasn't motivated for 125 miles. Yes, 125 miles. But, off I went. I rode out to meet up with Tanya, and already, at 21 miles I wasn't having fun. The whole ride was sort of a beat down with hills, wind, and cold (for me--we dropped over 30 degrees in 2 days). Rode with Tanya for awhile and then made it back and finished up the 125 miles, not so much in the best time, but at least it was done. I had a 3 mile run off of it and that actually felt PHENOMENAL! I was so ready to be off the bike. Glad that Ironman isn't any longer than 112!! So, some mental battles that day. The next day I had a 20 mile run, and had it not been for one of the gals from the 10-miler team running with me, I might've had a really bad day. It was cold still, rainy, and I was tired! I had done around 6.5+ hours of exercise the previous day and now had a 20 mile rain in crappy weather!! Thankfully, company made all the difference, and even with sloggy feet I did a good 20 miles at about an 8:45 pace. I thought it would be much worse.

Now, it did take me a bit to recover from that big weekend, and so this week I didn't quite hit everything on the schedule. But, at this point in training it's as important to listen to my body and NOT do something if it doesn't feel right than it is to try to push through. Thankfully, I recovered enough by the weekend that on Saturday Tanya and I rode the Outlaw Trail 100 miler in Round Rock, TX. The weather was pretty nice, a little chilly, but not as bad as the previous week and this time there was sun (which is why I'm a little "pink" today). Unfortunately, most of the 100 mile route was on some of the worst road I've ever ridden. The most horrible chip seal (and I'm fairly used to it at this point) and just road in horrible disrepair. I was also unprepared for hilly how this ride was. Tanya and I are pretty sure that it's the hilliest 100 miler we have done. It wasn't my fastest century, finishing in about 5:30 or so, but it was a good workout. I was again, afraid I might've worked over my legs for today's long run of 18 miles. I knew 3 of the girls from the Hood team were joining me for it, and then when I showed up there were even more people! It was awesome. The weather was gorgeous, and I held a good 8:35min/mile pace on a very hilly route! Thanks ladies!! It was truly a great run, and I'm feeling pretty confident right now about race day.
Taper is nearly here. I still have a little bit of decent volume this week, to include a mid-week 16 mile run. This weekend I'll be doing the swim leg of a relay for the Longhorn 70.3 That will be good practice for sure. Then, I'll be at two weeks till race time and the taper will get here!! YAY! I'm so excited to race at this point. I know I am ready (well, with some rest) and just really interested to see how I put the whole day together!!