Thursday, July 27, 2017


Blah blah blah... I had a great vacation down the shore and then finished it off with 2 races.

Just kidding, I started my 10 day tour of the East Coast on a Thursday when I drove up to the Richmond, VA area to recruit at the IWLCA lacrosse tournament. I then headed back south to Wilson, NC to spend the weekend with my boyfriend and his family. (Yes, you read that right. No, you don't get more details yet.) From there, after wrapping up an incredible training build with 18 miles on Sunday (10 and 8 mile runs) I headed back north to NJ to spend the rest of the week Down the Shore in Margate with Terri who I've known for more years than I care to acknowledge.

It was a beautiful week to be down the shore....we spent time in the ocean, collecting shells, eating Jersey fresh produce, visiting with friends, and I even got to eat some blue claw crabs on the outside deck of a bar over looking the bay.
Thursday was a great day to take a walk and collect shells.
It was the most relaxing vacation I have taken in a very long time. To add to the relaxation it was a recovery week, so my workouts were less and Terri went running with me and arranged for me to be able to swim at the local JCC.
Because down the shore everything's all right.
It's never enough time at the shore, but all good things must come to an end and I packed up and headed to Michele's.

Being a good triathlete, I traveled with all my gear (and then some). I also found 2 races I could do while up north. The New Jersey State Triathlon was last weekend and they have a Double Down option: Sprint on Saturday, Olympic on Sunday. Not being able to pick just one, I signed up for both. Not nearly the Dopey ideas I've had in the past. It's a local race for Michele and she sherpa'd in the most excellent way!
Photo cred - Michele. Thanks to Central Jersey Tri Club for the hospitality!
Saturday was the sprint and thanks to a training teammate, I was able to race in Green for the first time ever. Coach's directions for the race: Swim controlled just short of really pushing it. On the bike and run... GO! Push and then push more and hold on. I'm a trained/training long course athlete. It's different. But man, this one was fun! Maybe because it's the largest sprint tri in NJ. Maybe because the course was pretty much flat compared to anything I get to run or ride at home. Whatever, it was a GREAT DAY! My swim was non-eventful except for my first kick to the face. 500 meters: 12:22.

The bike was 11 miles and FLAT! I rode big ring the whole loop. Clock time: 33:28. (20ish MPH!!!), at about 90% of my FTP.

A triathlete cannot claim they had a fantastic ride unless they can back it up on the run. So it was time to run. I went out as quick as I could while still feeling in control. My first mile was a 9:14. The bar had been set. Now I needed to hold on. The second mile was 9:18. Wrong direction. I made the decision to leave it all out there and finished mile 3 with a 9:03 and a finishing kick at 8:19 to cross the finish line. Official time was 28:29.
My official sprint (500m swim, 11 mile ride, 5k run) time was 1:19:49 earning me top 20% in my age group.

I've been working my butt off and boy did it pay off Saturday. The next question: Could I repeat a similar effort with the Olympic on Sunday.

After an incredible dinner with Michele's family consisting of amazing Jersey produce, we got to sleep early-ish for a Sunday 0500 alarm. Back to Mercer County Park for the Olympic distance.

The swim was also non-noteworthy. I got through it. Same directions from coach as Saturday. 1500 meters: 41:12. I think this might be my fastest olympic swim to date, but I'm not positive.
Photo Cred Michele. 
The bike was a double loop of Saturday's ride. A little crowded at moments with it being a double loop, but completely manageable. Directions from coach: try to hold on to similar watts as yesterday, if need drop down 10%. 25ish miles 1:17:57 (18+ mph: absolutely my fastest Olympic split evah!) and about 85% of my FTP. Coach and I chatted and he thinks I can get that effort up just a bit more.
Aero and a smile!
Again: I don't get to claim I had a great bike if I can't back it up with a great run. Off on the run. Directions: Find your legs in the first mile, then go! I settled in on the first mile but was a little quick on the clock. I think it was mostly shaded. The sun came out and I settled in a bit, but I was watching my pace slow down: 9:40, 9:47, 9:48, 9:50. NOT the plan. I knew I was going to need to dig in for the last 1.2 miles as I had decided that I WAS going to run a sub-60 10k. Last mile was 9:29 with my final kick at 8:31. Earning me an official time of 59:17 for 6.2 miles!

Overall my Olympic time was 3:04:17 which I think is a distance PR by 10 minutes and a top 1/3 spot in my age group. Thrilled I backed up Saturday's effort with this result. Thrilled to see that all the effort I've been putting in is paying off. Just plain old thrilled with the entire weekend!

Lastly!!! It's time for me to start sending weekly emails and putting up Facebook posts again. I'm returning to the Marine Corp Marathon in October in DC to run with The Kyle Pease Foundation. This year's running partner is Naomi. If you've been thinking about making a donation, now would be the perfect time. Just click HERE! Please help us reach our fundraising goal to #RunwiththeMarines!!
Naomi loves representing Walking with K. Peasey!
(so do I!)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The DYNAmic Race...

Last week in a fit of fingers, I punched out probably my shortest blog ever: It's Called a Race... and yesterday, I completed that race: Ironman Chattanooga, 70.3. For those of you short on time, I'll tell you right now I totally CRUSHED the Shawna Block division! For those of you with time on your hands, read on. (It's long, but there are pictures.)

Ironman Augusta 70.3 in 2016 didn't quite go as planned. In a post race fog and after a visit to the doctor's office, I registered for Chat 70.3. Some of you may remember that I have put off early season races in the past as lacrosse season keeps me busy and exhausted. This spring, even with less reffing, was no different. This time around, Coach and I had to figure out how the travel and stress of coaching a team would wear on me as it did very much, at different points.

I didn't feel prepared for this 70.3. I felt like I had barely been on my bike outside (maybe 3 rides over 50 miles). As a matter of . fact, in my race plan, Coach put: You are ready. Direct quote. It's like he knows me or something.

It was an easy trip up to Chat on Friday and I was able to check in, get the usual swag shopping and be done with Athlete Village. I always grab a water bottle, pint glass, mug, and a race t-shirt. Speaking of which, if anyone has an extra Chat 70.3 water bottle, one of my friends lost her's on the bike and would love to buy it from you.

Friday night I did what I always do, I made sure I really had everything I needed to race. If I am missing something, this gives me a chance to have someone bring it to me from home or go buy it. I had everything I meant to pack.

With athlete check-in completed all I needed to do was get a quick ride and run in to make sure my bike was in order for Sunday. My original plan was to pop the bike on my trainer and spin it out for 25 minutes, but after chatting with some Dynamo teammates Friday night; Karen and I decided to drive out on to the course for a quick spin. We got to the parking lot as Joseph, Kyra, and Thomas were wrapping up and Katie was getting there to start. Quick chats and then Karen and I rolled out. I start going through my gears and drop from big ring to little ring and my chain drops. I try to spin it back up and my pedals are LOCKED. We are maybe .25 miles from the car. We walk back in and Joseph asks if I have a flat. I said no, it's my chain. He took a look at it and we all agreed I was heading straight back to the Athletes' Village to the Quintana Roo tent. 
See the chain almost makes a 90 degree turn between links and it isn't even close to where it belongs on the cassette? QR swiftly and calmly took care of my bike, but I used the word f@ck many, many times.

I called Coach on my drive back to town and he reminded me this is why we wake up early and check everything out, just in case. After I took my bike in, he called back to check in and he told me while I waited to check out The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F@ck. I assured him, many f@cks were shared.

Karen came back from her ride confirming her bike was race ready and I popped out with her for a short run. Then back to QR. A new chain and Sam, the QR mechanic/tech had me ready roll. A quick 5 minute ride in and out of all the gears, and I agreed.

Saturday night I coordinated dinner for a few friends and then by chance a few more joined in.
photo cred: Nadya D.
Over dinner we were able to discuss the possible scenarios for tomorrow's race. The weather forecast had been crap and we had no idea what we would really wake up to. Possible options if the storms that were to roll in Saturday night lingered through the morning:

  • cancel the race
  • cancel the swim
  • delay the start
  • shorten the swim
  • race as scheduled
Having been through IMFL 2014, the weather was the least of my concern. There was nothing I could do about it. However, as we had already discussed when Coach called, we did need extra nutrition/calories with us at the swim start in case we were delayed so as to stay on top of our fueling needs for the day. Fun dinner with friends and then time to get ready and try to get some sleep.

Race morning went about uneventful (no rain!), except that I kept feeling like I was missing something, transition went too smoothly. Or maybe, I'm getting good at this. Still unsure of the weather, I set out my bike needs, but left all my run needs in a ziplock bag.
Swim start as the sun began to rise
We hopped on the bus to take us up to swim start and we got in line with other Dynamo teammates. A little close to the front for me. OK, a lot close to the front for me. However it was great to spend the morning with familiar faces and chatting the time away. The pros launched first and after they did, there was a longer than usual delay. They were changing the course. Instead of swimming up river to 2 right turns and down river, we were going to swim across and then down. It made the course about .9 miles instead of 1.2. I think without the change, I'd be typing this blog from the river.

The river was WILD!!! I average 1:30ish/100 yds. My training average is 2:25/2:30. Holy crap was the river moving. I didn't enjoy the swim. As a matter of fact there were many times I was in a deep scary place in my head wondering if I was going to get through it. I was getting the crap beat out of me (which I knew was going to happen) and I couldn't catch my breath. I tried breathing on every right stroke. I tried breathing on every left stroke. I tried bilaterally breathing. I could hear Maria's voice to keep my head down and still on the breath and I couldn't as I think I was drinking most of the Tennessee River. Still not sure how there is water left to flow.
Dazed, confused, and thankful to be done!
With my wetsuit off, it was time to start the climb to T1. On the way, I felt like a freaking rockstar! So many cheers from Dynamo teammates and coaches and from friends on both sides of the fences. Having a not so common name, I knew they were yelling for me.
So very happy to be on dry land! Photo cred: Andrew N.
As always, Coach had given me a race plan. This time, I was making a solid effort to follow it. On the swim, I modified the plan to "Don't get pulled out of the water!". It was time for the bike. I was going to be riding primarily by heart rate, but I also had some power numbers to reference. My power meter on  my bike is still wonky. Determined to make this work, I put a crib sheet on my bike. Winner winner! The stickers stuck for the entire ride.
I also added some additional reminders to the stem for my ride: SMILE, LET'S DO THIS!, and WE CHAT THIS.
As I left on my bike, it really hit me hard that I needed to pee. Seriously, I needed to go. Beside being hydrated, I told you I drank half the river! I have never peed on my bike. Never. Ever. OMG, I had to go! I kept thinking if I stuck to my hydration plan, eventually, I would basically wet my pants and it would be all over. At mile 15, I couldn't take it anymore. I regret to inform everyone, I stopped on the bike and peed in a port-a-potty. I'm still hanging my head in shame, and was sufficiently tongue-lashed by 2 of Dynamo's finest after the race. Moving on....
I was trying to cross my legs on the bike, but it just didn't help.
The bike was great. I rode with Jesse for a few and then he pulled away. A few miles later Fred caught me. We chatted for a brief moment and then he took off. I was really happy to see Fred and get to say hello since he saved me from a DNF in Augusta last year. I was rapidly, seriously I couldn't believe the splits I was putting up, approaching the toughest climb of the day: Andrews. I knew it was coming after I saw mile marker 25 on the ground. I looked down at my bike and thought: Let's do this! I got my gearing right and up I went! At the top was an EMS vehicle, I asked them if they had oxygen for us. They just laughed.

I was/am so very happy with this ride. I averaged 18.2 mph and my average cadence was 83rpms. This means I actually RODE the ride. I pedaled. I kept my head in the ride and kept my legs turning over. Y'all! I train at about 15-15.5 mph. It was the absolute PERFECT weather to ride! I followed the plan, I came back in a little faster than I went out. More fun: I hit 39 mph on one of the descents: WHEEEEEEEEEE! Nutrition I alternated between Cliff Shot Blocks and Salty Balls.

Interesting bit of information I found out today when having the wheels switched back: My back wheel was rubbing my frame the entire ride. Surprise! Ugg. Still so very happy with my ride!

T2. Dry socks, running shoes, hat, and decide to skip the sunglasses. As I turn the corner to run out I see Nick from when I got my USAT certification. I give him a big hug and Jason runs past me and yells some trash talk. I left Nick and took about 5 steps towards Jason and wised up, fast! Bye-bye Jason.

Now the fun starts! The run is when the spectators really get to be involved. Special thanks to Atlanta Track Club, ITL, Peak Racing, Endurance House, BTA, TriCoachGeorgia, the women from Ironwilled who said hi, and so many friends who were out there cheering and taking pictures. (I hope I didn't miss anyone!)

This is my third season training with Brent and Dynamo Multisport and really my first team race. I've done the same race as other teammates, but not in this volume. We had 35+ athletes on the course and I think just as many cheering from the sidelines. It was amazing to see everyone in action and be supported throughout the course by coaches and teammates from beginning to end.
Photo Cred: David X of ITL
I came out of T2 and Coach told me to get moving and keep going. LOL... his race plan said don't go out too fast. Keep it contained. I followed the plan and got my feet under me. I also needed to stop at the first aid station to fill my water bottles.

another great pic from Andrew
The run had a bunch of out and backs and which allowed me to see lots of people. The first loop went well. I was feeling good about my pacing and my running. Usually I get through the run by going aid station to aide station and walking each one. That was not the plan this year. Heck, the last two 70.3s I did I got through the run barely! This year I ran through almost all the aide stations or only paused long enough to refill bottles. 1 to drink, 1 to pour on my head and body.

My fueling strategy was a gel at miles 3, 6, 9, and 11. Mile 3 chirped and I was fine. I felt fine. I wan't hungry. I was good. And then I kicked myself in the butt and took the gel. I reminded myself I had to stay ahead of the game or I would fall apart. I stuck with this plan through mile 9. At mile 11, I took in Gatorade as I wanted nothing to do with a gel.
Race plan said to smile. So I did, as much as I could. Photo Cred: Tanya U.
I have voluncheered this race for the past 2 years and it was incredible to be on the course. The first loop went well. I ran my first 3 miles contained as I was told. Then I tried to go a little bit more, but didn't succeed to well, but I do think I held on fairly well.

I crossed the bridge to start my second lap and Coach is there. He asks if I'm doing okay. I really didn't have a decent answer for him. I was fine. But I wasn't. Both knees and both ankles had really started to hurt. HURT.

So I didn't answer him, and kept running. I had thought back to the Subtle Art of Not Giving a F@ck, and had two choices: I could give a f@ck about the pain, or I could not. See it was going to hurt if I walked 17 minute miles or it was going to hurt if I ran 11ish minute miles. With 7 miles left to go, the math was easy. There were no f@cks to give about how much I hurt. The hurt was inevitable, focusing on it was not.

There is so much support on the run. Familiar faces at every turn. Friends on the course. Friends cheering. It was truly an incredible day. The volunteers were amazing as always.

Last cheer from Coach to finish strong.
I'm a headcase in case you are new around here. I think what I am most proud about from this race is that I took a really tough start (struggling with the swim) and turned it around. I stayed mentally tough the entire route. I cheered on me. I cheered on others. I smiled. A lot.

I turned the final corner and surprised everyone with the timing of my arrival. And it was time to go! I pushed the best I could down the final down hill and am not sorry at all to the people I passed in the finish shoot.

It's really hard to compare races to each other as the terrain and weather greatly impact everything every year. The last time I completed a 70.3 successfully (no melt downs on the run) was Augusta 70.3 in 2014. In 2014 I was about 5 weeks out from a full Ironman. I had already completed a few 7-8 hour workouts. This year I'm just about to start those training days. Anyway: On a much tougher course: my bike was faster this year and my run was not only slightly faster, but much more consistent.

This weekend would not have been nearly as amazing without the endless support and encouragement of my coach and project manager (2 different people as I've been told, no one can handle both roles), my sherpa, Kris my overly patient cycling companion, and Karen who knows how I feel about her.
#wechatthis #NFQS
If you have read to the end, thank you for being part of a my amazing support network who continue to help me accomplish just a wee bit more everyday. I love the triathlon community and race day just brings out the best in everyone.

Next up are a couple tris in New Jersey while I'm on vacation and then Ironman Chattanooga and another go at the Marine Corp Marathon in October.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

It's Called a Race....

Triathlon season is in full swing. Each weekend there is a race whether it is a sprint or a 70.3 (soon the 140.6s will start). The usual Facebook posts go up on Wednesday: Who is racing (fill in the blank)?

The responses follow. People check in as to who is racing and who is volunteering and who is cheering.

And then the comments start to go like this:
  • I'll be there
    • Are you racing?
  • I'm participating. I wouldn't call it racing.
Raise your hand if you are guilty of down playing your race? Me!!! Me!!! I'm right here!!! I truly JUST had this conversation on Facebook about 20 minutes ago. Why? 

Why the hell did I just down play my participation in a race this weekend? I'm not ill. I'm not injured. I'm not unprepared. Hell, I've been busting my butt since December. I thoroughly enjoyed my off-season of November, but then it was back it. 6 days a week. 7 days a week. Early mornings to get it done before long travel days. 

Is it because I fall into that whole comparison thing? Am I thinking I'm not really racing because I'm not as fast as those other people? So they get to race and I don't? I just participate. Screw that. 

Truth: I'm not as fast as them and they will beat me across the finish line. But I am racing! I'm racing the voices in my head. I'm racing the doubts in my mind. I'm racing the ache in my lungs. I'm racing the soreness in my legs. I'm racing. 

Coach gave me a race plan. No where is it called a "participation" plan. So that's what I plan to work with on Sunday: my race plan.

I will finish well behind some and I will finish well ahead of others. When I finish if I have followed my race plan to the best of my ability on that given day, then I win. I will have won the Shawna Block division and that is the only one I am competing in.

Looking forward to seeing everyone racing, cheering, and volunteering on Sunday in Chattanooga!

I'm bib 1276 if you are looking to cheer from afar.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Why Did You Do That?

Seems I haven't written in a while and some of you missed me.....Here's my attempt at making sense and explaining some of what's been going on in my world.

I have finally been taking action in my life. Hell, I'm almost 43. It's about time.

Since my last blog so much has happened.

I quit my job. I didn't have another one lined up. Many kept asking: What are you going to do? I would reply that I didn't know, but I would figure it out. I'd land on my feet. I always do eventually. (I was going to work seasonal retail then referee full time and give myself time to find a job.)

Why did I quit the job I had? It didn't make me happy. I wasn't fulfilled as a person. It was a job not a career. I dreaded Sunday nights because it meant I had to go to work on Monday. I had figured out I enjoyed being a happy person and this job didn't promote that.

My elective retirement from the work force lasted 2 weeks. On my last week of work I ended up with an interview and a job offer that I accepted.

Maybe it's still the honeymoon phase, but I love my job. What I'm doing matters to me and to those I interact with. When I meet new people and they ask what I do, I'm proud to say that I am a college coach. Is everything perfect? Oh hell no. I mean it is a job. But it's a career combining my love and passion: I work with people in sports! When I go home at night I know I made a difference in the world and not just by killing a tree through use of paper. I can only hope that in 21 years, some of my players still think about me the way I remember my college coach. The work can be tough and draining. It can be exhausting and the hours long and the pay could be more. Most important though, is my quality of life right now is through the roof!

Check out the high light reel of our first game. Click here.
Seriously. through the roof. I wear fitness gear to work. I have time to complete my workouts. I like my team. I still stress sometimes because, HELLO!, have you met me? There are a ton of moving parts off the field I'm still trying to figure out, but it's coming around.

I dropped 100 or so people off my Facebook account. I failed miserably off staying off FB for a month and I'm really okay with that. I never should have entered the bet because I like FB. Most of my friends live there and that's how I know what they are up too. I've almost mastered the "scroll past" technique of posts that I don't agree with, upset me, etc. Almost. Sometimes I still weigh in. I still have too many folks on my page, but it was a start. I dropped people I didn't know. People I couldn't remember why or how we were connected. I dropped some people I know in real life. Through a typo, a friend liked my word: epolitics (electronic politics). I had left these people on my page because we traveled in the same circles and for social-political reasons, we had stayed "friends". The truth of the matter is: we aren't friends. I'm a lot of personality and many people (so I'm told) enjoy my company. Some don't. Often, whichever the case may be, the feeling is mutual. If we aren't friends in real life, we don't need to be friends on Facebook. Why did I decide I'm done with the epolitics: because I'm not in high school any more and I'm okay not being cool.

Somethings never change.
I signed up for a couple of triathlons. Why? Because everyone I know does them. I'm KIDDING!!! That's a HORRIBLE/no good/VERY BAD reason. I enjoy it. I enjoy the company I get to keep while training and getting ready. I LOVE race day. (Not the week leading up to race day when I'm completely positive I'm under prepared and there is no possible way I could get it done.) I love being amazed by what my body can do. I LOVE finish lines! I'm hoping and planning on fundraising for the KPeasey Foundation and pushing for the Marine Corp Marathon again. Why? Because I can. Because I am physically able to help someone become a marathoner who could never do it on their own.

For more information on supporting the KPeasey Foundation, click here
And last and definitely least: I tried dating again....still looking for a nunnery that will take me. Besides, if you've been following along, you know I'm on a dating moratorium until after my birthday. No one dumped me on my birthday (or the week of) last year which tops my birthday week in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

I hope you know your Why? and you are doing what makes you happy. If you aren't, why not?

Monday, October 31, 2016

#MCMKPF16 - Marine Corp Marathon Kyle Pease Foundation 2016

Triathlon and running is an inherently selfish sport. We, triathletes and runners, know this. We take time away from other endeavors, family, and muggle (non runner/triathlete) friends to train and recover.

I have been training for and competing in races purely for my enjoyment and satisfaction for five-six years now. That's really not that long of a time considering some of my friends have been involved in endurance sports for 20-some years. Anyway, I wanted to find a way to get more out of my hobby. How could I make it less selfish and more rewarding?

As 2015 progressed I learned more and more about the Kyle Pease Foundation. It's a great non-profit organization based out of the Atlanta, GA area that was founded by my coach, Brent, and his brother Kyle. Directly from their website:
The purpose of the Kyle Pease Foundation (KPF) is to create awareness and raise funds to promote success for persons with disabilities by providing assistance to meet their individual needs through sports.

Programs may include scholarship opportunities, purchasing of medical equipment or adaptive sports equipment for others or contributing to other organizations that provide similar assistance to disabled persons as well as participating in educational campaigns to create awareness about Cerebral Palsy and other disabilities.
I told Brent I wanted to get involved with the KPF and he said, "Come run the Marine Corp Marathon (MCM) with us." Then he forgot. I didn't.

About 7 months ago, Helen posted on Facebook they were looking for a couple more runners for the 2016 MCM. I reached out to her and said I would like to. I also confirmed you didn't have to be fast, you just had to be able to finish. Fast I'm not; finish I do.

I received the official invite to join in on the fun and I began my fundraising. I was blown away by the generosity of my friends in swiftly helping me and Aidan (my running partner for MCM) reach our goals. With my minimum fundraising commitment met, I could focus on my training.

Augusta 70.3 was my goal triathlon for the 2016 season and after finishing that, I could focus running and prepping for MCM which would be about 4 weeks later. However, Augusta didn't go as planned as I ended up racing it with Bronchitis. Oops. I lost 7-10 days post race trying to recover from the event and the lung crud.

I am not the person that can just go do an event without training. I mean maybe my body would cooperate, but my mind doesn't. I was a bit worried about the marathon because I had only run one 16 mile run (which was split 8 before work, 8 after) and one 20 mile run in which I pretty much had a melt down at about mile 17-18.

How was I going to get through a marathon not for me but PUSHING another HUMAN!!! Aidan wasn't in DC to hear my excuses. He was there to run with the Marines!

All the teams that were staying at the hotel met in the lobby at 5am and we piled into cars, vans, trucks, and an Uber to get over to the staging area for the run. Chairs were adjusted and the push athletes were set up. Aidan's mom choose the racing stroller type chair instead of the traditional race chair. We wanted him comfortable and well supported for the day.

The KPF and Ability Experience Athletes photo cred: J. Blackburn
After a great group photo we made our way to the start line. There wasn't a lot of time to be in my head and besides, every time I walked past Helen I was given a pat on the back or an encouraging word. Brent had told me the night before to just go have fun.
We started the race with good company, Team Naomi! photo cred: T. Hagman-Hicks 
And we were off. I had one objective: Get Aidan across the finish line. The first part of the course has some hills and running hills pushing is different than running hills. Fully understanding this and I made the decision to walk up all the hills and then hold on the best I could on the down. The support on the course from runners and spectators was absolutely amazing. Aidan and I were offered cheers and high-5s throughout the course.
I'm not going to lie, I'm not really sure where/when this is. Photo cred: J. Jackson
More than one runner cleared space for us. Running ahead calling, "Wheels back. Wheels on the right. Wheels on the left." and if they didn't get a response (normally a runner with headphones too loud - a rant for another day.) they would tap them on the shoulder.

About half way through we saw Brent and crew. Jennifer (Aidan's mom) checked on him. Brent checked on me. I wasn't in a bad place, but I was calculating that still had 13 miles to go. I used this time to grab another gel, Brent used this time for a selfie.
I don't know if I have ever felt more supported or loved than I did by this crowd.

With Aidan checked on and in a good place, we took off knowing we'd see them at the finish.

We made it to mile 20 and things were okay. I was having some leg pain (knees and calves) and I knew that showering was going to hurt later but that didn't matter (OMG am I chafed!). I saw Aidan look up at me and I just dug a little deeper. I reminded myself why we were out there. When we were on the Blue Mile, I reminded myself and told Aidan, "We are running today because these men and women will never run again."

At some point in the second half, Megan caught up to me with her friend and she pushed for a few minutes giving me a chance to run upright and stretch a little. I then sent them on their way. Other people that I'd never met and may never interact with again offered to help push up a hill or clear room so I could keep running. The camaraderie among the runners was just as overwhelming as the support from the KPeasey families and support crew.

I have a horrible habit of underestimating myself. I thought Aidan and I would be out there for 6-7 hours. I really didn't know how it would go. It went so well that Helen said, "Don't take this the wrong way, but we didn't think we'd see you this soon." I think I laughed and replied, "I didn't think I'd see you this soon either!"
Aidan's official splits.

I think the best support sighting of the day was Brent, Helen, and Renee at about mile 26. Aidan and I were on the right side of the road, where we were most of the day and they were on the left. FAR left. I heard them yell for us and I some how got us across the entire road of runners to stop and say hi.

On to the finish, where yes, at MCM there is a hill at the finish. Thank you to the young Marine who verbally encouraged me to get up that hill.

And then we finished and Aidan WALKED across the finish line! Really! Watch here. We come into view about 5:33:57 on the race clock, 3:30 on the time line of the video. And if any of you who read this have video editing skills....

Aidan was awarded his first marathon medal!

The smiles are real. The discomfort of running and pushing 26.2 is nothing compared to Aidan smiling for his mom and enjoying his medal. Are my legs sore today like I ran a marathon, yup. Does it matter, nope. Aidan is a marathoner and no one can take that away from him.

Here is what I'd like you to take away from this: You don't have to be fast or a super athlete to give back and help out. You just have to want to. I was surrounded this weekend by amazing runners and triathletes who embraced me with open arms because I wanted to be part of this. Not one person asked me what my expected finish time would be and when we finished, no one asked what our time was.

If you'd like to support the Kyle Pease Foundation and learn more about everything they accomplished this year, join us at the 7th Annual Bowling with KPeasey Event, a VERY family friendly affair.

If you kept meaning to donate to Aidan and my fundraising page and/or you are moved by our accomplishments on Sunday, please consider another small donation. CLICK HERE! All funds donated are 100% tax deductible. My fundraising page will be open until next Monday, 11/7/16.

A huge thanks to Brent for being my coach, for getting me ready for this task, and believing in me to get Aidan across the finish line. There isn't enough pumpkin spice to thank Helen for her organization, endless supply of information, and support all weekend. Put me down for next year please!

P.S. If marathoning is on your list of things to do, The Marnie Corp Marathon should be at the top. Just like when I ran it in 2013, it was simply amazing.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

It Takes a Village....

A month or so before Ironman Louisville 2015, I made the decision not to participate in anything longer than a 70.3 in 2016. My "A" race, the race I was going to be training for was going to be Ironman 70.3 Augusta.

Leading up to Augusta, I was oddly calm. I wasn't counting down to race day, nor was I agitated by other's countdowns. I didn't change my Facebook profile picture to my bib number. I had everything I needed for race day sorted out and ready to pack 3 days before I needed to leave. I had had some great runs leading up to taper. My last work out went well, REALLY well. I was ready.

The weekend before I flew in to Philadelphia to voluncheer at Ironman 70.3 Atlantic City. My good friend was going for her first. I had a travel voucher for Delta. I hadn't been home in a while. All good reasons to pop out of town for a couple of days.

It was a great trip and I was feeling great until Tuesday. As Tuesday rolled on, so did my "Taper Cold". I missed 2 days of work and instead of uploading data, I was reporting in my sleep and nap episodes:
I'm doing everything possible to rest, recover and get ready. Coach pulled workouts in favor of rest. I whined a little but followed directions. This resulted in my taper week being a total of 3 workouts: 2 short swims, and then Saturday before race I hopped on my bike for the first time in 8 days for 15 minutes and then trotted 8 minutes. I told Coach I was going to be the most rested athlete to jump in the river on Sunday!

Minimal to no improvement throughout the week. On Saturday I lost my voice. I still couldn't come up with a reason not to jump in the river. Some of you get this and some of you don't. That's okay.

I had little sleep Saturday night leading into race morning. That's not uncommon for many athletes, but it is for me. I can usually get about 5-6 straight hours of sleep. Not Saturday night, a couple hours and then coughing fits. A little bit more sleep, then coughing fits.

I woke up, grabbed my stuff and walked to the shuttle. My folks came to cheer and Dad's plan was to meet me at the flag pole at 7am. I left the room at about 5.

On the shuttle I sat right behind Lane and I had my first tears of the morning. I still can't figure out why. But they were there. A quick chat with Lane and we hear for the first time the swim isn't wetsuit legal. First time in Augusta 70.3 history.

Into transition to set up my area. Coach had a race plan for me that had heart-rate zones and power numbers. I had written it out and tucked it into a Ziploc bag to shove into my jersey for reference. Set up my bottles, my fuel, etc. Heard the official "no wetsuit" announcement. I could have worn my wetsuit but I would start in the last wave. I was not willing to give up my 8:04 start for 9:20. Besides, as I was reminded by coach: I am a swimmer. The wetsuit would have shaved 5-7 minutes off my swim, but I didn't need it. I packed up my backpack and headed to the flag pole.

Dad and I had no issues connecting and I was explaining what was going on and we were taking it all in. Caught up with lots of friends and a couple teammates to wish everyone well or see what they were wearing so to spot them on the run later.
My #1 fan.
Presentation of the flag, national anthem, and the pros were off. Time for me to go huddle in my wave. Hug to dad (best sherpa of the day!) and I was gone. Saw a few Ironwilled ladies and lots of friends. Sabra says hi to me, and the tears flow again. Why? I couldn't figure out why I was so teary. Don't get me wrong, anyone who knows me knows I cry. One day I'll get my tear ducts under control but this weekend wasn't going to be it. Stacey comes up to me and gives me a hug. I get the tears to stop. Regroup and it's time to walk down the ramp.

The Swim:
Plan: Go hard for about 2-300 yards, find your place, and then pull off a little, but keep swimming strong.
What happened: I started a little too close to the front for my liking, but I held my place the best I could. Big arms, a bit of contact. One woman stroked across my leg and didn't just make contact, but grabbed my leg and pulled. The second time she did that I pulled in my leg, put it on her shoulder and pushed her away. Contact happens, but there is no need for me to feel like you are trying to pull me under. I swam strong and steady. Out of the water. Waves to Kris (the only person to give me a nickname and actually stick to it!) and my Dad. Came out of the water steady enough to trot up the ramp and continue a jog to my bike.
Take away: I am not a fast swimmer, but I am strong and confident. I've learned how to and will protect my space on the swim.

T1: I felt good about this. A quick pause for another round of sunscreen. Socks, shoes, helmet, bike and out.

The Bike:
Plan: Coach broke the ride into 3 segments.Each segment had power goals and hear-rate targets. I felt good about the plan. I thought it was something I could accomplish.
What happened: When I got back to my bike, the Ziploc bag was no where to be found and the ink on my arm was smeared. I'd read the plan at least 5 times, so I knew it was: stay under control and find your legs, then push a bit, then push more. That's what I tried to do. I tried to stay on top of my water; at each aide station I would grab one bottle for my bike to drink and then another bottle to dump all over me. I didn't hit my power goals and my heart-rate was high; but as far as perceived effort, I felt like I was in the right place for the whole ride. With the exception of the discomfort (see next paragraph) I felt good about the data I was seeing every 5 miles. I truly tried to dig deep and stay focused for the last 8+ miles as it's a net downhill... free speed if I could keep pedaling!
Take away: This wasn't the bike course I signed up for! There was a DOT detour so 2 additional climbs were added. I handled them fine, John Cobb says "comfort is speed". I am not comfortable on my bike. I'm comfortable riding a bike, but not MP. My knees started to hurt, my hoo-ha still hates me. It was only 56 miles. I should have been able to ride without such discomfort. I'm not going to gain any speed if I can't keep my cadence up because I'm shifting around in the saddle trying to find a spot that doesn't suck. Every time I stop pedaling, there goes pace. It is time to retire MP, he's a good man. It's not him, it's me. Merry Chrisma-kah to me!

T2: I had a picnic. I was in no rush. I walked my bike in. I took my time switching shoes. I grabbed my Dynamo Trucker hat, my fuel belt so I could always have water with me, and my race belt with my number. I walked to get sunscreen. I was trying to get my heart-rate down as I was high to start my run. Augusta has about .25 mile route in and out of transition. I walked all of it.

The Run:
Plan: I was given a plan I believed I could follow. That had me all in as opposed to going in with any doubts. I know it would be tough at the end, but it was supposed to be. It was time to race! Miles 1-3 nice and easy, Z1. Miles 4-10, kick it up a bit. Miles 11-12, more, what was left? Last mile: Dig deep, get it done.
What happened: My wheels started to wobble maybe a mile in, maybe sooner. It is a 13.1 mile run. I stopped at the first aide station and had them fill my bottles. I started to run easy. Nice and easy, but it felt labored. It didn't feel good. It should have, dang it!

I told myself to shift to aide station to aide station. That process has worked well for me in the past. Let's let it work for me now. Aide is about at every mile. This switched to 4-1, run 4, walk 1. A woman caught up to me and asked if I wanted to join her. I said YES! I hung for the first set, and then I let her go. At about mile 2 I came up to the TriCoachGeorgia and TriAugusta Tents. Lots of friends right there. I think I saw Darsh and then Danielle and I walked towards them and proceeded to have an epic melt down. Jeff saw it. Tears. More tears. I was having a physical and emotional melt down. I was not following my plan, I was having tons of doubts. I was thinking of a DNF. They gave me hugs and I moved on. I saw Tiffanie, who kindly did NOT take a picture of me at that moment. Then I saw Kristin. Probably my guardian angle for the entire race.
Not my best moment of the race, but Kris caught them all.
Kristin asked what was up and I told her I had a blister in my foot. I hurt. Everything hurt. Right then Fred ran up to me on his second loop. He stopped. Heard me mention a blister. I took off my shoe and sock, Fred put Aquaphor on it. I put my sock/shoe back on. Both of them asked when I had eaten last. Through tears I told them, "I don't know". Fred opened a gel and I took it in. He then said let's go. And he stayed with me for about 2 miles. We posed for pictures, we stopped and talked to my folks. He had one of my bottles switched to Gatorade and I filled the other with water. He helped me pull myself together. I started to see Kris on the run course.
Lucky and blessed to be part of the Dynamo Team
At about mile 3.5/4 ish Fred took off to finish his race. To be honest with myself, if not for the help of friends, Kristin and Fred specifically, I might have had my first DNF. I know this shocks those that know me really well, but I was really thinking about it. But then...what would I do with the swag that I bought? Just sayin'....

I got my head together. I abandoned the plan and I created a new one. I needed to finish. There was not a real single reason I could come up with not too. I was sick, so what? It was hot, so what? Finish what you started.

I needed a run interval I could succeed with. So as coach had told me going into this when we both realized I'd be racing sick, small chunks, Shawna, small chunks. And that's what I did. I stopped looking at my watch and I started looking around. Run to the red car, walk to the street light. Run to the street sign, walk at the white car. Rinse, repeat, keep moving forward. I stopped and hugged everyone I knew.

And that's how the run went. Slow. Small chunks. It got done.

At the turn to the finish, Doris caught up to me and said let's finish together. So we did. Holding hands and celebrating the finish line.

Take away: The only thing you can control on race day is your attitude (Thank you Stacy S. for the reminder). I let that go for a bit, but with the help of friends and calories I recovered it. And when the plan no longer works you find a way, and you get it done. There was zero, zero reason for me not to finish.

My triathlon season is over for 2016. I had lots of ups and downs. I PR'd some races. I had some very tough training days. I'm thankful for it all. There will be more from this race for me to remember and reflect on. Lessons learned to take to next season. Two thoughts crept in to my head as I made it through the run: I should retire from long course and then I should retire from triathlon. Nah...I think I have decided on my first 70.3 for 2017.

I'm thankful.

  • My parents were able to spend the weekend with me, my sister was cheering and watching the live feed from home. 
  • My coaches, teammates, and friends believe in me, even when I fail/forget to believe in myself.
  • The triathlon community I've built around myself is the most amazing for taking care of each other. 
  • I am physically able to do this stuff. I am healthy enough to continue working on my mental game.

Ironman 70.3 Augusta was not the race I trained for, but it was the race that I got. I will build on the experience for next year.  Now it's time to get back to my running roots as Marine Corp Marathon is in about 4 weeks. Aidan and I have work to do.

If you were considering donating to our fundraising efforts, it's not too late. Click here for more information.