Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ironman Arizona 2009 Race Report

My stomach felt empty. I remembered eating my breakfast of a bagel with PB, honey and banana, but I still felt like a bottomless pit. I crossed my arms in front of my face and put my head down on my desk at work. It was 8 a.m. on Monday, the Monday before my second Ironman. Why was I so nervous? I’d done this once before and done it well, but for some reason my nerves were getting the best of me.

Why was this happening, I thought as my breath heated up the confined space I had made for my head between my crossed arms and my desk. A couple reasons came to me. The first: Last year I was living in Chicago and had taken the entire week off work and flown to Arizona on Monday to spend the whole week preparing for the race. This year I was working all week long, AND my mom was coming into town. The fact my mom was coming for support shouldn’t have been a nerve wracking factor, but now I am brought to my second reason for my unexpected feeling: she wanted to shop for wedding dresses… the day before the race. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited to get married, but my mind was not on my wedding this week, it was on the 140.6 miles I would take on this Sunday.

I planned to have the whole wedding thing blocked from my mind until after the race, but she brought it back, and instead of taking my mind off the race, it made my nerves worse. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday went by slowly. I completed my little taper workouts and did my best to eat well and avoid overeating. I was feeling pretty good and had things under control until Thursday rolled around.

Thursday morning I woke up and decided I would go down to Tempe Town Lake for a little taper run, quick swim in my wetsuit in the Tempe Town Toilet and go through registration. I had to be at work by noon because I had a marketing event during the afternoon with DK, but I had four hours to get everything done, shower and get there. My mom was also landing that night at 7 and I planned to pick her up at the airport and bring her to meet Brian’s dad at our weekly pizza night get together.

Anyway, I got to the lake around 9 a.m. and parked at the Tempe Arts Center. I decided to run a half loop of the course easy, then grab my wetsuit and go in for a 20 minute swim in the dreaded lake. As I was running around the lake I noticed people were swimming already. WHAT?! I thought the swim was from 10-12. I pushed a little harder than I wanted to in order to get back to the car, grab my wetsuit and get in that lake for at least a little swim. Friday I knew I had to work in the morning and Saturday I knew I’d be out of luck because there was no way Brian would want to swim in the dirty lake. My heart rate rose because I was nervous I would miss my chance to submerge myself in that beautiful murky and smelly water. By the time I got my wetsuit on, I heard the announcer say “15 minutes left to swim!” I threw everything in my huge Blue Seventy transition bag (thank God for that bag!), checked it in and practically cannon balled into the cold water.

OUCH! That water was cold! I swam under the bridge and out to the big red bouy. I felt pretty good, but as usual people were passing me like I wasn’t moving, and my sprits sunk just a little. I turned around, swam as far east as I could until I was forced to make my way back to the bleachers as they were closing the swim. I pulled myself out of the water, and scrubbed my face as hard as I could with my wet hands to get the disgusting clammy dirt off my face that I always have after swimming in that lake. I pulled off my wetsuit, gathered my stuff and made my way to the registration line.

WHAT!!! Again my heart began to beat unnecessarily fast when I saw the length of the line. There had to be hundreds of people ahead of me. I glanced at my watch, waited in the line for an hour and moved about 20 feet. I texted DK and told him the line was ridiculous and I would do my best to make it to work by 12. No answer. Frustrated, I dropped out of the line deciding I would try again tomorrow because there was no way I would make it to work at this rate. It was then that I noticed the Erin Baker’s tent in the distance.

I decided to make a quick stop at the tent to introduce myself to whoever was over there. I had yet to meet anyone on my Erin Baker’s Triathlon Team yet except for Katie who lived in my hometown in IL. I was surprised to see Erin working the tent! I introduced myself to her, chatted for a few minutes, grabbed a cup of my most favorite granola in the world, chocolate chunk, then jogged back to my car. I frantically drove out of the parking lot, worried I wouldn’t have time to shower and get to work on time. I kept telling myself to calm down, but I couldn’t control my emotions. It only got worse.

The event went fine, but even DK said he could see the almost-tears in my eyes and could tell something was wrong. I decided to take Friday off work so I could avoid getting stressed out with registration and work again, spend time with my mom and just relax. I picked up my mom at the airport and we had a good evening at Brian’s dads. My stomach started to settle again!

Friday Brian and I met up with our friend Chris and his girlfriend who were in town for the race from Kansas. They were staying at Adam’s apartment nearby and wanted to follow us to Tempe Town Lake since they didn’t know their way around. The line was crazy long again, but the wait didn’t seem that bad with all the granola I had to eat! We got through in about an hour and headed home after stopping by to say hi to Erin again. I also met Tim Matthews, another team member, as well as Kevin Sullivan. Everyone was very nice and surprisingly calm! Was I the only one nervous?

I had made an appointment with my massage therapist Melissa for both my mom and I on Friday as well, so I went and picked her up and off we went back to Tempe. I’m glad I decided to do this because it helped me relax a little. We went out to eat at Ghangis Grill at Tempe Marketplace that night after we picked up Brian, and it was delicious as usual (we love that place!)I loaded up on shrimp, tofu, veggies and rice. I also took my mom to see the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass, our wedding location, and was happy that she fell in love with it as much as I had.

As if I didn’t have enough going on, I tried to change the tires on my bike three times, and each time my back tire would go flat within 30 minutes. I was so frustrated I ran over to Curbside and Mike was kind enough to check my bike over for me. My back wheel is a little iffy, you might say, because it is the same wheel I crashed on my ride to Tucson a couple months ago. It was practically taco’d, but I can’t afford new wheels and just had to get it trued and move on. I was nervous something was wrong with it that was poking my tube or something. I picked it up Friday night after Mike had fixed everything and calmed me down a bit!

Saturday morning Brian and I packed the van with our transition bags and bikes and drove down to Tempe Town Lake. We did a short ride and run before dropping our bikes and bags off in transition. Then it was wedding dress shopping time! I stopped by work, where Dr. James was nice enough to meet me for a pre-race adjustment and I looked up directions to Uptown Bridal in Chandler. Again I cannot express how much incorporating chiropractic into my life has improved my racing and helped my training, but that is an entirely different post meant for a different time! This report is already long enough and I haven’t even gotten to the race yet.

Unexpectedly, I had an amazing time trying on wedding dresses! Not to mention, I think I found “the one” as well! I stopped by Trader Joe’s on the way home and picked up some chicken, pasta and veggies for dinner. I saw Kymmie there, who wished me good luck and told me I wouldn’t need it anyway! Amazing how it’s the little things that calm you down and really make an impact. My mom went out to dinner with a friend and Brian and I ate and hit the hay.

We got in bed at about 8 p.m. but I could NOT sleep! I did not have that problem last year either, but I definitely tossed around for five hours at least. I did not get much sleep at all. In the morning we got up at 4 a.m. I had my breakfast of two packets of Kashi cinnamon and honey oatmeal with a scoop of protein powder and a banana. I put on my race outfit, washed my face, brushed my teeth, bundled up, kissed my dog Hannah goodbye and we were out the door. I also brought with me a bottle of Gatorade to sip on until the start and a gel and 200 mg of caffeine to take before the start as well.

We drove the big red van to Ash Ave. and parked in the parking garage. Last year I remembered being practically the first on there when I arrived at 5 a.m., but this year it seemed like everyone was their already! I hit the port-a-potty first thing, but couldn’t go. I try to avoid the lines as much as possible, but my bodily functions didn’t seem to be on my side this morning. In transition I had Landis pump up my tires and I filled my aero bottle with 3 cups of Gatorade and 200 calories of Carbo Pro. I also had one Polar water bottle on my frame.

After doing a once-over on my bike, I found Brian again and we walked to drop off my special needs bags (he didn’t use any) near the lake. We were there so early that we didn’t really know what to do with ourselves after that. We ended up sitting together on the edge of Tempe Town Lake people watching for about 30 minutes. We would see our friends, but didn’t really say anything. We were both concentrating on our races. With about 30 minutes until start time, I began putting on my wetsuit underneath the Mill Ave. bridge. Brian was getting worked up because he couldn’t find his twin, Adam, who was hanging out with his girlfriend on the other side of transition. I tried not to let it get to me, so I concentrated on my race instead of worrying about where he was. We ended up finding him after we dropped off our dry clothes bags and we walked together over the timing mat.

SWIM 1:12

The boys wanted to wait until the very last minute to jump into the cold water, but I was getting anxious. After some hugs and good lucks I climbed over the edge of the lake and worked my way down to the water with about 10 minutes until start time. I jumped in and swam like a pencil - my legs straight down and just moving my arms – out to the bridge. I positioned myself more toward the front in the middle of the pack. I really wanted to be to the farthest inside of everyone, but there were so many people in the water I gave up and settled for the spot I was already in.

The gun went off and the washing machine known as the Ironman mass start swim began. I couldn’t see the buoys at all, and I figured I should just make sure I was always in a pack of people and I would save time trying to sight the buoys on every stroke. With every breath I took though, it seemed like the person next to me would shove water straight down my throat. With each huge swallow of that gross lake water I started to worry more and more about how my stomach would feel when I got on the bike. I knew it wouldn’t be good, so I tried to swim left and get away from the mass. I swam the second half of the swim practically touching each bouy, if not to the left of them, and though there were less people, I still would get random mouthfuls of water from the people next to me. On a positive note, I never cramped during the swim this year like I did last year, and I felt decent the entire time. I was a tiny bit nervous beforehand because I had a bad 4000 meter open water swim race the week before. I dwelled on the thought that my swim fitness just wasn’t there for a week after that race. When I reached the bleachers and my watch said 1:12 I immediately had a huge smile on my face. A 3 minute PR from last year!

T1 – 5 minutes

I plopped down in front of the first wetsuit stripper I saw. They did a good job and I ran quickly down the shoot to the changing tents. Again like last year I did not have any help in T1. What is with all the stories of how people enter T1 and don’t even have to dress themselves! Shhesh! I was better prepared this year though and had my bike jersey rolled up into a ball in my transition bag with the pockets already stuffed with my nutrition and bike needs. It was so easy to just put it on, throw on my helmet, shoes and sunglasses and go! I didn’t need anyone’s help anyway.

Bike – 5:55

I ran out of T1 realizing I forgot sunscreen. Oh well. My bike was in the worst spot – all the way down one of the rows - so I was a little annoyed when I had to go get it and dodge around everyone else’s wheels trying to get out of my row. Once on the bike I took down a gel and sipped some Gatorade. I was feeling pretty good! My nutrition plan was to consume a combined amount of 300 calories an hour from gels, Gatorade and Carbo Pro. I would take a gel every 45 minutes and make sure I had a portion of my bottle down every hour, as well as swallow one Endurolyte tablet an hour.

The bike was a draft fest. There were many points where I just didn’t know what to do because I would be holding a safe distance behind the person in front of me, and all of a sudden a giant pack of 20 people would come up and I would be engulfed in their peloton. I would get frustrated, slow way down and drop far behind because I didn’t want a penalty. But each time this happened, and it happened a lot, I knew it was hurting my time a lot to slow down so much to let them go. By the time I got out to the Beeline, about 10 miles into the first loop, my stomach started to lock up. When the time rolled around for another gel even the thought of consuming it made me nauseous. What was going on? This had never happened before! I had trained like this, weekend after weekend, with the same nutrition, and felt like a million bucks each time! The only solution I had was all the Tempe Town Lake water I swallowed on the swim.

I slowly started falling off my nutrition plan, putting entire gels in my mouth that would go no further than exactly that – IN MY MOUTH! I could not force myself to swallow them! Eventually I decided to try my Clif blocks I had in my pocket as a reserve. I got them down no problem and started feeling a little better, but I had to pee so bad! I saw everyone else peeing on their bikes, and I really didn’t want to stop and lose time, so I tried really hard to pee. Stop pedaling, stand up, lean to the side, sit down, nothing worked! I could not pee! I finally broke down and stopped at the port-a-potty by the special needs bags on the second loop and went to the bathroom. I gathered my thoughts and motivated myself to get back out there, feel better, and throw it down!

When I got back on the bike I felt so much better! My stomach felt good again and I was able to get back on track and get some gels down and continue with Gatorade ad water. I saw Dan and Paige on the bike, as well as Tim from my Baker’s team and that was fun, but I still never felt quite right. At least my legs were moving and I wasn’t going too slow. When I finished the bike and looked at my watch I couldn’t believe I had broken 6 hours considering my stomach issues, slowing to let draft packs go, and the stop I had to make to go to the bathroom.

T2 – 3 minutes

I ran into T2 pretty excited about my time. I was well ahead of my time last year already and I hadn’t even gotten to my strong event yet! This time I had help in transition, which was amazing! I stripped off my tri shorts and put on a fresh pair of running shorts and that felt awesome! I put on my pink fanny pack that already had my nutrition in it and stripped off my tri top into just a Baker’s sports bra tank Jane had given me from a couple years ago. I threw on my trusty Nike hat and off I went , remembering sunscreen this time J

Run – 4:03

I ran out of T1 white with sunscreen all over my body. As I was running and rubbing it in I saw my mom for the first time the entire day! I waved to her and told her I loved her as I passed and she took video. I wanted to run a 3:40 marathon, and every single training weekend I had I felt simply awesome on the run after my long century+ rides. But this time felt different. It felt different than any other time I had run in my life. My stomach felt ok, but my legs felt like rocks. I decided to slow the pace a little, in order to be consistent the entire run. The first two laps went alright, but I knew in my head I was capable of more so I started to get a little depressed. What was wrong with me!!!!!!!!!?!?!?!?

My stomach started to lock up again and again I couldn’t get any gels down. During the second lap I switched to bananas instead of gels and kept the Gatorade and water at every aid station. But it didn’t help, my legs just felt worse and worse with each step, but I refused to let myself walk. It was simply out of the question, because I knew as soon as I walked my mentality would be done, and as long as I was running, no matter how slow, in my mind I was at least doing OK and would make it. I started singing “put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking out the door!” from the stupid old Christmas movies. I don’t know where it came from or why, but it helped me keep running and that’s all I cared about, no matter how crazy I looked or sounded. I was getting to that finish line!

I saw Adam on the Rural Rd. bridge and he yelled, “Go Cori” and I yelled back at him. I never saw Brian though and started getting worried. I passed Ted under the Mill Ave. bridge at the start of my third lap and yelled, “Where’s Brian?” Ted yelled, “He’s right here, he’s ok.” I saw Brian pacing back and forth behind them and thought, either he killed the race or something happened and he dropped out. I trucked on, in some crazy paid I’d never felt before, and about a mile into the third lap a girl passed me with a 24 on her calf. Ouch! Shot to the heart, and only I could be to blame. Or was it the dirty Tempe Town Toilet Water? Both. I tried to pick up my pace but I was locked. I could not move my legs any faster. I got over it and just kept telling myself, “You WILL be an Ironman again.” Over and over.

I saw Bryan Geshwell, the captain of my Erin Baker’s team, running as I came around on the last couple miles. I screamed, “Go Bryan” with all the energy I had because I knew it was his first race and I wanted to give him some encouragement! I think I blew more energy than expected on that because last year when I was a couple miles out my adrenaline took over and I practically sprinted to the line, this year, well, not so much. All I could think of was the pain… all the way to the line! I wanted to be done so bad! I saw Patrick at the end of the third loop and I was lost. Either I’d lost my mind, or they moved the finish line shoot! I had to ask him where to go! He pointed me to the left and I ran up through a parking lot to the shoot. I saw tons of friends, as well as my Mom, Hannah, Brian’s dad and Eric screaming for me! Finally I could feel my legs again and I gave the last 200 meters a pretty darn good effort! I came across the line, arms up and smiling, in 11 hours, 19 minutes and 40 seconds. I was an Ironman again! Not to mention a 27 minute PR!

Immediately I saw Brian and threw my arms around him over the fence. My mom walked through the crowd with Hannah in her arms. Hannah decided to lick everyone’s face my mom passed while she was holding her and I laughed as I hobbled toward them. I was a happy camper, and the only thing on my mind was pizza and chocolate chip cookies! I loaded up and laid on the grass with my family, Dr. James and Melissa. I felt lucky to have such amazing people in my life! I called my dad and thanked him for making me (literally) able to do this with my body. After the race I wanted pizza, pizza and more pizza, so we all went home and ordered Nello’s to my apartment. MMMMMMMM.

All in all, I am very happy with my race, considering a 27 minute PR from last year and a podium finish with third place in my age group. I learned a lot this year, particularly from this race, and can’t wait to use my wisdom next year. I am ready though, seriously READY, so stop holding back and really go for it. It is time. My two year introduction to triathlon is over, and it’s time to get in the game.

I want to thank my coach, Lindsay, for all of her hard work and putting up with me, all of my amazing TriScottsdale Gage Racing training partners – I would never have made it through those 110 degree century rides without you, my wonderful family and friends for all their support and acceptance of my very time consuming hobby, Brian for turning me into a Folts on the bike and of course my baby Hannah for all the taper runs and sprint workouts that wouldn’t have been possible unless I had a leash attached to my hand and her pulling me!

For now, I’m going to take an off season from triathlon, do a couple running races, casual training and work on my swim. But come next year… WATCH OUT WORLD

Monday, November 9, 2009

Happy Tears

I am not a happy crier. Believe me, in my lifetime I have cried many tears, but there was only one time that I was so overwhelmed with joy and happiness that tears actually rolled out of my eyes, down my face and onto the gravel underneath my footsteps. The date was November 23, 2008. After 11 hours and 40 minutes of exercising that day, and 140 miles of swimming, biking and running behind me, I realized I was about to cross the finish line of an Ironman Triathlon.

Everyone athlete has their reason for being out there, but sometimes people get so caught up in the game, with their eye on a prize that one company has made so popular, that they forget the real reason they began triathlon and the underlying reason of why they continue to train and race today. I was reminded of this phenomenon at the SOMA half Ironman triathlon in Tempe October 25, a race not sanctioned by IRONMAN, when after the race my fiancĂ© told me, “someone asked me what I race for if it’s not for Kona.”

After hearing those words, many thoughts started circulating in my head. Maybe it was because I was exhausted from racing, but a million memories immediately began to flow through my mind, and then I was just plain old mad.

For me, racing is about a battle against myself. I am proving to myself and to the world that I CAN. I can do anything I set my mind to, and I can do it well and I can finish it strong. When I race, sure I want to win my age group, sure I want to qualify for World Championships, heck sometimes I even win the entire race (small ones haha), but underneath all that winning and qualifying mentality is that battle against myself, a strong passion for simply being alive, and a thankful attitude that my body is healthy enough to do what I love. After my 7 month injury this year, the realization of how amazing it is my body can do this is emotionally unexplainable.

At age 19 I found running, and I fell in love fast and hard. Without anyone else in my group of friends or family that shared my passion, I ran by myself. I set my own goals, motivated myself to train and built a determination that I am proud to stay has stuck with me since. I ran to feel the air in my lungs. I ran to feel the ground underneath my feet. I ran to escape the world. I ran for health. I ran because I could, and I ran because no one could stop me.

After completing three marathons and a couple halves, I met Brian, my fiancĂ©, who introduced me to triathlon. It was not until then, three years after I found running, that I made friends that shared my passion. Until then I thought endurance sporting events were a casual and fun way that everyone got together to exercise. I was completely unaware of the intense racing going on ahead of me by the pros and competitive age groupers. These new found friends introduced me to the world of “racing.” A little over a year later November 23, 2008 rolled around and I became an Ironman.

I didn’t qualify for Kona in my first Ironman, and neither did 2,000 other athletes, but I did come in sixth in my age group and I had the best (and probably most expensive) day of my life. I also was first in line to sign up for 2009.

Now, just under two weeks before Ironman Arizona, my second 140.6 race, I am trained and as ready as can be. Five months ago I was battling an IT Band injury that would not let me run longer than just a few minutes. I put my heart and soul into recovering. I spent hours each week at physical therapy, have spent a lot (ok most) of money on massage, became obsessive compulsive with stretching and incorporating core/strength training and found a remarkable practice that put the icing on the cake of my recovery: chiropractic, not to mention the average of 20 hours a week of training the past couple months. I may be carrying a few more pounds this year than I would like due to my injury and the emotional stress it brought me, but this in a miniscule obstacle I will deal with on race day. Overall, I can’t wait to get into that water and let my body do what I know I am meant to do, what makes me who I am, and what makes every other worry in my life disappear: swim, bike and run 140.6 miles.

When was the last time you cried happy tears?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ironman Training

It's been a long time since my last post, but I've been SUPER busy concentrating on training!!!

5 more short weeks!!!
Training for Ironman Arizona is going very well... the only thing that is NOT going well is the fact that I still can't shed the weight I gained from my IT band injury after Ironman last year that caused me to be unable to run for 6 months. It's beginning to bother me a lot, because I am always so hungry I end up eating too much! I am trying to control my diet, but seriously, training 20+ hours a week makes me want to eat everything in sight! Ugh, it is very frustrating. This is a very personal struggle I'm opening up on my blog, but it's what is going on in my mind right now. I am thankful though that I am able to run, and would rather be 10 lbs overweight then be unable to run.

This issue is one giant hurdle that I need to jump over, because it is affecting my desire to train and race. I don't feel good running, I don't like how my tri shorts and top fit, I feel uncomfortable on the bike and I don't like being in my swim suit. I try to push these thoughts out of my head when I train and just concentrate on getting my workouts in. I am getting faster and stronger, but I just feel yucky most of the time.

Besides this issue, I have felt great during Ironman training lately. I've gotten a lot of long century rides in and long runs, bricks and more swims. I've been participating in the splash and dash race series at Tempe Town Lake every other Thursday, which I hope will help my open water swimming, and I am doing the SOMA half Ironman triathlon this Sunday which takes place on the IMAZ course. Work is also going well, and the weather finally isn't in the 100's.

Time to go to bed! I will update after SOMA this weekend.



Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cloud 9

I've always liked long distance racing and training better than sprinting... however in order to get faster in any length of event you have to do some speedwork!!! This is why I signed up for the sprint triathlons I did the past two weekends. So I moved my long runs to mid-week so I could race on the weekend, and man was it worth it!!! After Barb's Race my mentality was down in the dumps, but now I feel like I'm on top of the world after winning BOTH races!!! yes BOTH! OMG!

Anthem Sprint Triathlon

This race was on Saturday of Labor Day weekend. I signed up last minute like I do most sprints because I barely take them seriously. Typically I use them as speed work training days for longer races, but this time I had a different feeling. I was really excited, which again is very rare for me for a sprint tri. The race was backwards, so we started with a 5K run, then transitioned to a 12 mile bike, and then a 300 meter swim. The race took place at the Anthem Country Club which is a beautiful location. The run was a mass start, but was also in waves of 1oo people. I started in the first wave. I was excited because I know I'm a fast runner, so finally I could come out of the first event in the lead pack instead of in the middle somewhere trying to gain ground the rest of the race. When the gun went off it was a little jammed on the skinny bike path they had us running on so I went a little slower then I would have like to, but after a couple minutes things spread out a bit and I found myself in second place with the first place girl right in front of me. I was fine with that. I could pass her on the bike anyway, I thought, but then my legs started moving faster and I was feeling great so I picked it up and passed her. The run course was downhill for the first mile or so and then we turned around for an uphill. I ran my butt off trying to make up for lost time in the beginning where I was jammed with all the guys. I came into transition so happy! Everyone was cheering for me and screaming my name and I thought... what the heck?!?!?!?!?! This is so weird! I got on my bike and started hammering away at the bike course with the thought in my mind that I didn't have to run after so who cares how my legs felt! The course was hilly and three laps. Cones were set up so we only had the bike lane on some parts and some of the guys out there were being really annoying, passing me and then slowing down. I hate that! The whole bike course I was so nervous that I would get passed, but for some reason this time I REALLY didn't want to get passed. Usually I have it in my head that I stink on the bike so I ASSUME that people will start blowing by me... but they didn't! I came into transition still in first place!!!!!! I was amazed. I couldn't believe it! I threw off my helmet and shoes, grabbed my swim cap and awkwardly ran into the pool area trying to put them on. I jumped into the pool and was again amazed that I felt fine swimming after all that pushing! I glided through the swim, getting stuck in some of the men ahead of me of course that were practically drowning in the pool. I even got kicked in the face once, but what better Ironman training could I ask for then that?!?! I crossed the finishline and probably didn't look very excited at all because I couldn't believe it. After being injured for the better half of this year after Ironman and not being able to run for 6 whole months, I don't think I ever believed I would WIN a triathlon... be it a sprint or not. I walked over to get some food and the girl behind the counter told me she thought I was amazing. Again, I didn't know what to say. I think I whispered Thanks and went to sit down and eat a banana. I was happy and giddy all day long after that, and it was the best feeling in the world!

I think I was meant to do this race because of what happened to me at Barb's race, and how my emotions were all over the place for a while because I was dealing with some personal things. I think it is way worth it during Ironman training to switch around your schedule a tiny bit just once or twice to get some local sprint triathons in because it not only boosts your menatlity when you finish strong and feeling energized, but gets in that speed work I know a lot of long course junkies like myself pretty much dispise!
I will write about the Prescott Valley Sprint Triathlon in my next race report after I get some photos, but yes, it too was awesome!

I am on Cloud 9!!

Can't wait for Ironman Arizona!


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gearing up for some serious Ironman training!

So it's been about a month since my disastrous race in Santa Rosa. Meanwhile, I took some time to evaluate where I am and where I want/need to be in order to have an awesome race at Soma half and Ironman AZ. I have a lot of work to do and am ready to get going. Here are some of the things I've been doing.

1) I met with Jen Koslo from Koslo's Nutrition Solutions and evaluated my diet. I am eating more frequently and adding protein. I am far from a meat lover, so protein is my biggest deficit and I also found out I am eating TOO MANY carbs... WHAT!?!??! I've always thought I need tons and tons of carbs but I found out I'm overdoing it to the point where it is actually hurting my weight. Things are starting to get better now and I am feeling good. I just need to control myself... which is so hard when I am ALWAYS so hungry! I also wasn't refueling with the right foods as well, so I now chug two cups of chocolate soymilk after my workouts :) yum!!!!!!! Jen is awesome and I highly recommend seeing her if you have any questions about your nutrition or diet. She's affordable and has a very flexible schedule.

2) I saw Bill Egan for my first ever TT bike fit! I have never felt right on my bike, so after talking to fellow cyclists and triathletes I was talked into doing it. In fact I've been so uncomfortable on my bike that it's really been hurting my long rides. My neck hurt, my crotch hurt.. well you get the idea. I spent about and hour and a half at Bill's house last night, tweaking things so they are jjjuuusssttt right, and I'm really excited to see how if feels on my ride tomorrow! The good news is he said I was an easy fix. My bike is the right size for me and I have good form. I was also sitting WAY too low, which he said hurt me A LOT! However, no long ride this weekend because I need to ease into the new position.... darn it!

3) I am starting to strength train seriously two times a week. I realize that this is KEY to injury prevention and really need to get on it. No more slacking! So light lifting and core exercises are part of my schedule two times a week for a total of 2 hours a week now.

4) Instead of working two jobs, I am now working only 1 job, which is awesome. I was beginning to feel so incredibly tired all the time and it just wasn't good. I am no longer working as a personal trainer. It was wearing me out being in the gym so much since I am already training 15-20 hrs a week for Ironman on my own.. that's like a part time job itself!! So I am now working at a local Chiropractor's office here in Ahwatukee, who is also a fellow triathlete. I feel at home here and challenged, which is good. I am happy :)

So my goals right now include:

1) Get down to race weight. Lose about 6 pounds.

2) Get stronger by adding light lifting and core training twice a week.

3) Get out there on my bike, swim more and stay focused.

4) Keep my nutrition on track, stay motivated to eat right.

If I stick to these goals I feel like I will be in good shape for IMAZ. I'm feeling pretty motivated now, so I think I'll go swim!


Monday, August 3, 2009

Barb's Race - a total disaster

My first half Ironman back since my injury didn't go as planned, mostly because of outside influences. Here is my sad race report.

I got sick during Barb's race and couldn't finish. I couldn't even
breathe on the run and felt so insanely nauseous my stomach felt like there were needles inside. which has never ever happened to me
before. This past week was so unbearably emotional for me that I think I cried myself to a state of dehydration. After that emotional week, for reasons I will leave out for the time being, Brian and I left in the car for LA to pick up Hannah, my dog, who flew to LA
on Pet Airways, on the way to the race in Santa Rosa. I was excited to get my dog back since my parents had been watching her in Chicago for the past two months and excited to race since I've been out for so long, but shortly was stressed out again when I found out the person who was supposed to watch Hannah during the race was no longer coming to Santa Rosa. We didn't know anyone else who was going to be at the race who could watch her, so I had to stress out again and try to find a
random dog sitter to watch Hannah during the race. Of course our hotel didn't have internet, so my mom googled pet sitters in Santa Rosa and texted me their phone numbers. Eventually I found Fetch Pet Care, and a sitter picked Hannah up from the hotel Friday night and watched her at her house
while we did the race! I was so nervous the whole time because she was
with a stranger. I didn't eat my normal foods. Adam forgot his wetsuit
for the full Vineman so I let him use mine, and then had to stress out
about getting it out of transition before my swim started. I was not
in the right mindset to race at all, I didn't even want to start the
race. My goggles broke during the swim, my elbow pad broke on the
bike, my neck and back hurt so bad the whole bike because of my new aero
helmet I'm not quite used to yet. Actually the whole time on the bike
I was thinking I didn't want to be on the bike at all, and when I got
on the run I felt like I was going to die. I got through the first 9
mile loop and had to keep stopping because I couldn't breathe and my
stomach was so nauseous. The second loop started by running through
transition and there was nothing that could make me go back out there
and finish that 4.4 mile second loop. I felt so bad. In my mind I was done. I took my chip off
and handed it in, went straight to the shuttle and sat in the back
seat of the school bus curled up in a ball feeling so sick and shivering cold. I went and got the car which
was back at the start and drove straight to get Hannah back from the sitter. I took
her back to the race to watch Brian and Adam do the marathon and sat
there feeling like total crap.

I've never had a bad race yet, but I guess it happens to everyone once
in a while. As a positive, I am more motivated to crush the next race
I do and be more emotionally stable and.... dog-less of course! This
was all just a situation from hell.

So no I didn't finish in 8:15 or whatever the time says on the
website, I actually didn't finish at all. But after all this family
stuff blows over and everything is ok, I will be ok.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Chino Valley Sprint Triathlon

First and foremost, the biggest thing I learned from this race was why I do triathlon... because it's fun! Yes, winning is great, beating personal best times is great, but all in all doing a triathlon really is one of the most fun things to do! So even if I sucked royally and never won any awards I would still race, just because it's so fun! The atmosphere at a triathlon, or any endurance event really, is amazing. I guess you have to be a little crazy to do what we do, and to be surrounded by people that have the same passion as you is just awesome! When I'm at a race I feel like I fit in, like I'm where I'm supposed to be and around the right crowd of people. It's like that cheesy song we used to sing in chorus in middle school, "Place in this World."

So Saturday was my 24th birthday. I really am not that excited about turning 24, but oh well, life goes on! Brian bought me a new aero helmet for my birthday, its pretty awesome - pink, black and white - totally Michellie Jones style. I love it! I've spent the past three weekends training up in Prescott, which is about 2 hours north of Phoenix, and spent my birthday up there too. In the morning I went for a 3 hour bike ride down to Skull Valley. It was a VERY challenging 3,000 ft climb and hot on top of it! A nice 30 min run topped off the day and I was spent! Dinner at Olive Garden was yummy as always and I watched Deep Impact (I know kind of lame but its one of my favorites) before bed!

Sunday was the morning of Chino Valley Sprint Triathlon. Chino Valley is about 20 minutes from Prescott. Getting up at 4:30 was a little hard, but I managed to roll out at 4:40 to eat my usual cereal and almond milk breakfast. This was only my second tri of the year and man was I nervous! I honestly don't remember being that nervous since before Ironman in November! The only thing on my mind was don't crash, don't crash, don't crash over and over and over! I almost drove myself crazy! Since the crash on the ride to Tucson I've been a little obsessive about crashing on the bike and it's been hurting my mentality pretty bad! To top it off, as soon as I racked my bike I went to pump up my tires and broke off the knob on the stem of the tube on the rear tire. Oh great, I thought, and I started freaking out a little. I think Brian noticed because he changed my tire without complaing at all (very rare) and I was really, REALLY thankful for that. The swim was a time trial start in a 25 yard pool. I was about the 120th person to start, and there was 20 seconds between each person, so I had a while to continue my anxiety about the bike course while everyone else started swimming in front of me. When it was my turn I kicked off the wall and swam pretty well (for me). I had good luck there wasn't many slow swimmers in front of me to crawl over in the pool, but I was so nervous it was a little hard to breathe. After the 300 yard pool swim I ran out to the transition area to grab my bike. Shoes on, sun glasses on, helmet on...... helmet on...... come on you stupid helmet!!!! I couldn't get the strap of my new helmet down over my ear to clip!!! Nerves, nerves nerves!!! Finally I got it on and grabbed my bike, ran to the bike mounting area, but had trouble getting my foot clipped in to get started because I was so shaky. I just couldn't calm down! When I got through all the turns in transition and finally out to the HILLY bike course, it felt like all my worries were flying away. I felt really great flying down the hills and pushing back up them. I started having fun and remembering why triathlon is so fun! I was still a little hesitant around corners and down huge hills, but much better then I anticipated. I started telling people "good job" as I blew by them on the bike and a smile started to form across my face! After finishing the two-loop 15 mile bike course I put my shoes on as quickly as possible, I grabbed my viser and race belt and ran out of transition while putting them both on. The run course was tough.. my legs felt heavy and I still felt the little extra weight I still have from being injured. I feel like I could have pushed myself a little harder on the run, but with being 5 lbs over my race weight on my head, I just couldn't give it max effort. I finished in 1 hour and 13 minutes. Second place overall, and 7 minutes faster then my time in 2007! I'm happy with my performance, especially since it's only my second race this year since my injury, but losing first place by 3o seconds still sucks when I knew I could have gone faster on the run, and the bike if I wasn't such a spaz!!!!!!!

Well, the fire is lit inside of me to train and race fast! I'm just more motivated to get out there in the heat and train, and am also excited to get out there and race Barb's race on August 1 all out! I'm going to work on my bike fear by biking more and hopefully be ready to let it all out at the race!


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tour to Tucson and Sponsor Pics

Lately I have been starting to feel really good! My leg has not bothered me in a couple weeks and I am starting to pick up the training and get in Ironman mindset! HOWEVER, last weekend I decided to ride 118 miles from Phoenix to Tucson with a group of about 30 people. Some I knew and some I didn't, but I figured what the heck, it's an adventure and it'll be fun right. WELLLLL, yes and no. Overall I had a great time. It was H-O-T, but there was good company and we were all suffering together. The course started at Lifetime Fitness in Tempe and was broken into 5 legs, which makes for 4 stops along the way to rest, potty, eat or whatever else you need to do to get your mind back in the game. The only unfortunate insident of course involved me. About 22 miles into the ride, after our first stop in Queen Creek, the person drafting me from behind was riding with his front wheel next to my back wheel. DRAFTING RULE #1 DONT DO THIS!!! Anyway, I reached down to get my water bottle and the guy clipped my wheel and I went crashing down at 21 mph. It was not fun. I was scraped up and in shock. Initially I was freaked out because I really just didn't want to get injured again... I mean come on I just got back into it from an injury!!! So I kept my cool when I got up until I got in the car with our SAG guy who drove me to WAL-MART and I kind of broke down a tad. Not much though. At Wal-Mart everyone was checking out my bike to make sure it was ok. My wheel was bent and spinning very wobbly, but I decided I was going to tough it out and push that thing all the way to Tucson like my life depended on it. There was no way I was going to sit in the car for another 6 hours while everyone else got to bike! AND I didnt have any broken bones right!!! So it took a lot of energy, probably twice as much energy, to push a bike that wanted to wobble side to side straight to Tucson. Man on man was it tough, and at times people were passing me not even pedaling, but I made it and even did a 10 minute run when we got to the Westin La Paloma in Tucson. I felt great, exept my scrapes hurt really bad! The next morning I woke up and felt like I got hit by a truck. I had whiplash and the left side of my body was throbbing, but I got up and ran 90 minutes anyway... and I had a GREAT run... go figure. I'm still confused. This week has been great though, since it is a recovery week thank God! I've stayed out of the pool until today in order to let my skin heal a bit and have been doing light biking and running, but I feel really great! I know... what the heck?!?!?!

So if you're looking for a great ride from Phoenix to Tucson, here's the course in detail

This weekend I'm going to Flagstaff to train and get out of the heat. I can't wait!



Saturday, June 13, 2009

Endurance Princess on the Move

Yep, it's been a while since my last post, but I promise I have lots of acceptable excuses :)

First off, I am back in Arizona and loving the heat and sunshine like I've never seen the sun or felt the heat before! It's amazing, when I look at the weather each morning the five day forcast shows the same little cartoon picture of a sun every day with temps differing from maybe 1 or 2 degrees. What?! No rain, no isolated t-storms, no windy, nothing but sun and more sun. Which seriously is fine by me for, um, eternity! After last winter I'm down for living in Pleasantville for a loooooong time!

That being said about the weather, training has been going great here so far. The best part is that I don't have to freak out about if it is going to be tornado-ing on Saturday and having to move my long ride to another day and mess up my entire week of workouts! I am a woman of routine... and I like it that way! I've been covering the hills of Ahwatukee at least three times a week in the early morning on my bike, running my old favorite courses and swimming OUTDOORS (can you tell I'm super excited about that!) at Lifetime on my own and with a masters group in the early AM. The only thing that sucks is that I have to wake up super early, I'm talking 4 a.m., in order to get my entire workout done before I start to bake in the sun. In reality, I'm always finishing my workouts baking, but in my mind all I think about are those horrible -20 degree temps of Chicago winters, and the hives I would get from running 10 minutes out there, and I fully embrace the desert heat and let myself cook. Last weekend I rode 72 miles around Ahwatukee and ran 40 minutes on Saturday, then ran 90 minutes on Sunday. Today I rode 77 miles with a group around South Mountain to San Juan trail and ran 40 minutes. Tomorrow I'm meeting a group at, you guessed it, 5 a.m. for a 100 minute run. My legs are feeling the increased training, but I LOVE IT.

As athletes we are always looking for the next new thing that will give us an edge, whether it is a new toy, like a new garmin or ipod, a new bike, race wheels, cycling or running shoes, it's always something. I think that mentality gets even worse when you have an injury. At least with me, I find myself willing to try anything and everything in order to keep myself healthy now and never have to deal with what I went though the first half of this year EVER AGAIN. So, I've been seeing more and more people with compression socks at races and on their blogs and I finally broke down and decided to give them a try. So Friday after work I stopped by Sole Sports in Chandler and picked up a pair of running 02 compression sportsocks. Now, I have no idea when or how long I am supposed to wear these things, I just have it in my head that these magic socks will help me stay healthy. So, basically I've been living in the things since I bought them, exept for when I work out because they would leave some nasty tan lines! The package did not come with any "instructions" as to when to wear them, so I will have to do more research on that. For now though, I will let the magic feed my mentality at least :)~

I started work at Fitness Factory Arizona in Gilbert on Thursday, and I see a lot of potential in what I can do there and offer them. I will write more about all this (exciting!!!) when I figure things out more, but everything is in the works and I am getting really excited about all the possibilities. I can say, though, that this facility is much better then I ever imagined! I mean, all the machines are brand spankin' new. The treadmills have ipod docs with mini screens so you can watch movies or videos or whatever's on your ipod while you work out. They also have usb ports where you can plug your usb drive in and the treadmill will put the info from your workout onto your usb drive and then you can update your workouts on your computer at home! Wow, talk about technology. I haven't seen treadmills like this before, but I am really excited about them even though I hardly ever run indoors. Anyway, I will be personal training and teaching group exercise classes like spinning and boot camp (and more) and I also plan on starting group runs, group rides and even possibly a triathlon training program for an upcoming Olympic or sprint distance race. The possibilities are endless, as are my ideas and motivation. Very, VERY excited!

Since I've been in AZ I've been embracing things about living here that I have missed sooooo dearly! Here are a few examples of my favorite things:

1) Whole Foods gives you free bags of ice to keep frozen products cold on your drive home. SWEEEEEEEET. By the way, Stonybrook Farm frozen yogurt, minty chocolate chip and cookies and cream... Awesome.

2)Qdoba is wonderful. Grilled veggie naked burrito with lots of guacamole. Heaven!

3) Jumping in the pool after a hot run is amazing.

4) Golden Spoon frozen yogurt, nothing beats that once a week.

5) Seeing everyone I know outside working out at 5 a.m. along with me... you just don't get that anywhere else. I swear I see pretty close to 30 people, if not more, that I know each morning out there enjoying the outdoors and embracing a healthy lifestyle.

6) No bugs. I dont have smashed bugs down my sports bra after I get home from biking. Nice!

7) Bikes shops on every corner, running and tri stores galore! In IL I had to drive 45 minutes to the closest tri shop, and I only found one in the whole Chicago area that was really any good.

8) NO POT HOLES!!!!!!

There's so much more, but honestly I have to get to bed so I can get up at 4 for my long run tomorrow. It sounds crazy, but I'd rather have a yummy dinner and be going to bed at 9 and getting up for a nice long run friends with then doing anything else in the world with my Saturday night.

Party on... well in my dreams!



Monday, May 25, 2009

Fox Trot 5K

I did the Fox Trot 5K today in Elgin. I wasn't planning on racing it, just running it, but of course I went a little faster then my training pace. I ran 6:42's and finished in 20:57 and first in my age group. I was 42nd overall and top 10 female! This was fun because I didn't even race I just ran at a little faster than training pace and felt great! I'm so happy my leg seems to be doing just fine! It was also my parents first race... they did the 2 mile walk... so that was really fun! Almost every single girl that beat me was under 15 years old. It was a big high school race, so there were a lot of families there and people celebrating Memorial Day. I saw my physical therapist Lindsay there who also ran the 5K, and Elizabeth's coach Jen, who ran the 10 mile race. (Of course we all know I wish I did the 10 mile race but I'm still playing it safe! I'm up to 8 miles running so all in time my friends!)

Happy Running!



Sunday, May 24, 2009

Mind over matter

So I lost my iPod somewhere in AZ. It's not in any of my bags, stuffed in any of my shoes or left at Lifetime Fitness (yes I had them check!). In addition to that sad, sad story, my old computer (aka. the tank) recently froze and is no longer functioning. This is bad because my iTunes is on that computer and hasn't been transfered to my new computer yet. So basically, the point of this little story is that I have been training sans iPod (or any music at all) for the past week. I forgot what it's like to hear the birds chirping and cars wooshing by and the nice, ever so kind honks of car horns while riding and running. But really this is probably a good thing because I feel really good that I have been able to push myself through 4 hour rides and lots of runs without music! The only time I've suffered was today. I felt really sleepy when I started my run this morning, and it took me about 30 minutes to really wake up. It was strange, I felt like I could fall asleep while running, and if I had my tunes I would have cranked up some Metallica and woken myself up... but no, no this was not the case today as I had no source of music. After a half hour though I felt great and got excited for breaking an hour of running for the first time since this injury started... and I did it! I ran for 1 hour and 5 minutes and danced my way back to my car because I was so freakin happy! Mind over matter people, mind over matter! I don't NEED music, I just want it :)

But don't go thinking I'm a music-free trainer now... because I want nothing more than that dang iPod back!!!!!!

One thing good: My weekend training went great! Long steady 4 hour ride yesterday followed by a 30 minute run. My first brick of the year because of my injury and I felt awesome! Today was my hour and 5 minute "long run" and I also felt pretty good! I did my strength exercises afterwards and stretched nicely as well! Tomorrow I'm doing the Fox Trot 5K in Elgin and then biking to the gym and swimming.

The weather in Chicago this weekend has been tempting to say the least. It is perfect temperatures for training, but very windy. I do have to say though that nothing, let me repeat that, NOTHING will ever make me forget those days of -20 degrees (NEGATIVE TWENTY) over the winter, breaking out in hives, putting on layers and layers of clothes, biking indoors ONLY for seven months, and not wanting to put even one finger in the pool because all I wanted was to be warm!!! I'm moving back to Arizona in 8 days and couldn't be more thrilled. It is my home, that is one thing I have figured out about myself, and although I learned that the hard way I am glad to know where I belong!

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone! I know I'm happy because I can train again! YAY!!!


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Good Day!

Today I got my race kit and welcome box from Erin Baker's! It's awesome! It's a beautiful day in Chicago, windy but warm. I ran for 55 minutes this morning (YES!) and then biked 20 miles on the new bike! Gonna ease into it so I get used to the new positioning, but it is F-A-S-T!!!!

It's been a great morning so far... ready to swim tonight and start packing!


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Trial Race

Last Thursday I flew to Phoenix so I could participate in the Tempe International Triathlon, which is also the club championship race. I'd been planning on doing this race even before my injury so I already had the plane ticket. Whether my knee would let me race or not... I was going to Phoenix. Luckily my running has been improving little by little each week so I signed up for the sprint tri - a 400 meter swim, 12 mile bike and 3.1 mile run. Of course everyone knows I would have rather done the Olympic distance race even with 105+ temps, but I was playing it safe doing the sprint. I mean I didn't even know if I'd be able to finish the sprint without having to walk from the pain, but in the back of my mind I was wishing I could do the Olympic. So here it goes with the race report:

Race morning I got up at 4 a.m. ish and ate one of my Trader Joe's muffins (come on it's a sprint... breakfast isn't as important as a longer race right.. lol). Brian and I took the red van to the race and on the way I already had to go to the bathroom. The first gas station we stoppd at didn't have a bathroom and I felt sick driving to the second one. Even though this is gross to write, I was happy I had to go so early before the race to avoid potty lines. So when I got to the race I got transition all set up... man it was so crammed!!! I hardly had enough space for my bike shoes and run shoes next to my bike. I put everything else in my helmet on top of the aero bars. Speaking of the aero bars, I raced on one of Brian's old bikes that I used to ride around a year ago. Its heaver and clunkier then my wonderful Felt and new Kestrel, so I was very nervous for the bike part of the race. Especially since I hadn't ridden that bike in a year!!! I decided winging it on a random bike was better then spending money to get one of my bikes here for a sprint tri. Anyways.... I saw so many of my old friends before the race and it was awesome catching up with everyone I havent seen since Ironman in November or even before that! I was in heaven being the social butterfly in transition.

When it was time to head over to the swim start I started getting a little nervous because the swim was not wetsuit legal. It was my first open water swim without a wetsuit and in my head I was picturing myself drowning in tempe town toilet water as soon as I jumped in. So of course when I first jumped in I panicked a little, that is until I figured out that, yes, I can still tread water without a wetsuit. It felt so strange being in the water and doing a tri again because I've been injured for so long. I started in the front but very close to a lot of other girls... bad bad bad idea!!! The 400 meter swim was worse than the Ironman swim! I was trampled and stuck between people the entire time. It sucked!!!! I got kicked and smacked and who knows what else.. I was just glad to be alive when I got out of there!

I ran to tranisiton and felt pretty good. I haven't done a tranisition in a while and OF COURSE I didn't take any time to practice or anything (that would be too smart of me) but I think I did pretty good considering all that. When I finally took my bike out I was still so nervous that I couldnt get my foot clipped into the bike to take off and people started getting pissed off behind me that I wasn't moving already. Finally I got clipped in and off I went. I decided I was going to just hang out on the bike so that I would be able to run after without knee pain, but that bike is so hard to move!!! I felt like I was driving a semi truck compared to my nice little race cars (sitting nicely in my garage in Illinois BY THE WAY!!) and it was difficult for me to get into a groove. The bike felt short, and I was glad for that!!!

Coming into T2 I couldn't get my bike to stay on the rack so eventually I just left it hanging by one brake lever (I know I hate people who do that, so sorry everyone around me!!) I slipped on my heavy ass Brooks trainers which I used because I was scared to run in anything else with less support, and ran off with my hat and race belt in my hand. I put the hat on and clipped the belt while I was running. The run was hot and I definitely felt the extra pounds I put on from not being able to run. THAT SUCKED let me tell you... yep, that sucked. Anyway, I was hot as hell but just ran a normal pace and prayed to make it through. There were a lot of aid stations, but each time I passed one all I wanted to do was get to another one within one minute. I crossed the finishline happy and without pain in 1 hour and 11 minutes. Thank the lord in heaven!!! I walked straight to the massage table and got in line for a post race massage, where she could definitely feel my tight glute muscles and where my problem spots were. I couldn't shut up about how happy I was that I finished the race and ran the entire run without pain. Honestly... I hadn't ever done a brick before this race because I was too scared it would trigger my knee pain, so I really had absolutely no idea if I would even finish this race... but I did! I had a great (slow) time but am just on cloud 9 that I actually did it without pain and I can't wait to start picking up the training and doing more races... and actually racing them and not just doing them as a joke!

My trip to AZ cannot be described in words but what I can say is that it was one of the most amazing, exciting and emotional weekends of my life. I started planning my move back and hopefully will be back the first week of June. Some of the details are too personal to mention yet on this blog to the public, but in time I'm sure they will all come out :)

I'm at the airport now waiting to board my plane back to Chicago. After I returned my rental car I had tears in my eyes because I didn't want to leave (even though I know I'm coming back very soon). I know this is my home and finally feel like my life is coming back together!

By the way I ran 51 minutes yesterday and am feeling great. When I break the one hour mark I will probably cry like a baby... just like I did when I broke the 30 minute mark. I will just say that my love of running has not and never will die, even if I can only run for 1 minute evey day for the rest of my life I will love that one minute more than anything in the world!