Sunday, October 23, 2011

4 Weeks From Today - #623

Holy smokes, really? I'm still in shock that it's almost here. It's been a bumpy month but one with some great peaks that went along with some of the valleys from my last entry. In the last month or so I've done 3 100+ mile bike rides, race distance swim (2.4miles), runs of 18-20 miles the day after my 100 mile bike rides. It hasn't been easy but it's been rewarding. Last week I turned 43!

My husband tried to get the cookie place to do the Ironman logo but they couldn't seem to wrap their minds around it for some reason so they did this Swim, Bike and Run cookie. Very cute!

I'm feeling a lot better since my last entry. Thank you so much to all that have donated (special shout out to my mystery $250 donor!!) and to Bob H who sent out a plea for donations for me but also sent me the most amazing email after he read my last update. I forwarded it out to my teammates as we've all been pretty beaten up lately. Take a look at my new training inspiration compliments of Bob:

"Holly, I just read your latest post on your fundraising page and was moved by your training toil.  You're the only person I know that has ever attempted to do what you are doing.  From your comments, I can feel your pain as you spend so much time training, so much time away from your family.  You could call it quits; throw in the towel any time you want….but I know you won't.  You are a fighter.  And you are fighting for all those cancer patients who can't fight for themselves.  They are with you on all of your swims, all of your rides, all of your runs.  But they're not there to be a burden, but to lighten your load; to give you strength; to give you inspiration.  You are their hope….not just for them, but for their friends, their family, and their loved ones.  The race is long, but in the end, you will be rewarded beyond measure.  You are becoming a hero for thousands.  You keep going, girl, because we are all counting on you, we all believe in you, and we are all with you."

I can tell you that I've been using pieces of this email during my training this week and it has helped immensely. I'm trying to figure out how I can laminate it and take it with me on the course. Bob also became my 'B' lap for my swims this past week. I used to count laps when swimming but now have moved to the alphabet so each lap is a letter of the alphabet and during that letter lap, I think of someone or something that starts with that letter and inspires me. B is a hard lap to get, my husband's name is Brad, my daughter is Brooke so for someone else to get the 'B' lap, is pretty huge. Thanks Bob!

Yesterday was a FREEZING ride - air temp in the 30s when we got started at 8am. It was the coldest ride I've ever done. My toes hurt so much... They finally thawed out after we finished but yikes.

Today was about 800 or 900m open water swim at Mary Alice Park. We started later to try and let the air temp warm up a bit but I think it was in the 40s outside and the water was in the mid 60s. I tried to splash water on my face about 15 times and fill my wetsuit up a little with the water pre-start so I could get a little acclimated before we got going. It ended up working pretty well. The splashing on my face definitely made me get that panic-y feeling but the good news was doing that vs. just sticking my face in the water and swimming got it out of the way so when I did start, I cruised right along. 

Haven't given you one of my training songs in my blog lately so here's what I've been listening to lately - it's Rush, Marathon:

It's not how fast you can go
The force goes into the flow
If you pick up the beat
You can forget about the heat
More than just survival
More than just a flash
More than just a dotted line
More than just a dash

It's a test of ultimate will
The heartbreak climb uphill
Got to pick up the pace
If you want to stay in the race
More than blind ambition
More than simple greed
More than a finish line
Must feed this burning need 
In the long run...

From first to last
The peak is never passed
Something always fires the light that gets in your eyes
One moment's high, and glory rolls on by
Like a streak of lightning
That flashes and fades in the summer sky

Your meters may overload
You can rest at the side of the road
You can miss a stride
But nobody gets a free ride

More than high performance
More than just a spark
More than just the bottom line
Or a lucky shot in the dark
In the long run...


You can do a lot in a lifetime
If you don't burn out too fast
You can make the most of the distance
First you need endurance
First you've got to last...

Let the countdown begin, 4 weeks baby!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

What Goes Up, Must Come Down

Melissa, Paula, Julie and Me

This week has been one of the most up and down mental and physical weeks since I've started training for Ironman Arizona.Some extreme highs and then the inevitable lows.


Had strong workouts all week despite a serious lack of sleep. Swam race distance of 2.4 miles with the team wednesday night and it was easier (not easy though) than I had expected. Took me around 1:25:50 I think. Everybody finished way before our Ironman cutoff so we popped some sparkling grape juice and celebrated. Awesome time!

Ran 6 strong miles the next morning despite having about 4 or 5 hours of sleep between getting home from the swim and getting up for my early morning run.

Ran 18 miles Saturday with some of my favorite girls from the team. Probably one of my best 18s ever just because I was with them.


Brad's car broke down on the highway (up an exit ramp thankfully) with brooke in the car. He tried to call me and I was of course training. It REALLY bothered me that I wasn't there. I have been having extreme mommy and wife guilt lately about the amount of time I'm gone from daily existence with my family. It hit me really hard Saturday night thinking about them needing me and I wasn't there. I'm just not pulling my weight at home and I'm sad about that.

Sunday morning I woke up and just was so mentally drained I had probably the worst attitudes I've had since starting to train. Got to the ride, made the best of it since my teammates were keeping me in good spirits and then something just clicked again during the ride mentally and I was mad. Mad about training all of the time, mentally and physically tired from lack of sleep and the volume without rest days for a couple of weeks at a time. At about 50 or so miles, I just packed up my bike, got in my car and left. Was supposed to ride 110. Physically could've kept going, mentally just didn't want to. I'm tired, I'm mad, I'm out of here. Will I do that in the race, hell no, but today, I just needed to.

Got home, opened my email and found out one of my running buddies had died from cancer. It wasn't a surprise, we knew this was an uphill battle that based on her husband's updates, had not been going well. Honestly, I'm just really sad. Paula and our group of running friends met on the Chicago marathon training boards back in 2000 or so. We would meet up and run various races throughout the years, most notably Dances With Dirt in Hell Michigan. We would have so much fun running those trails, laughing, running our butts off!! I can picture Paula in sunflower shorts like it was yesterday. A big group of us also did the Swedish Days Century to celebrate Paula's 40th birthday. Here we are riding through the cornfields in IL
Paula's in the blue and I'm in the Red flashing the deuces

I read back through her Caringbridge pages tonight and it was just brutal. I still have her note on Facebook letting us know about her diagnosis. Cancer sucks. Between my Mom, Paula, my old friend from growing up - Kristin, I just am numb at this point. I'll pull it together and get my mind back on training but I guess it makes me glad that at least while me and my teammates are out there for hours and hours, we've been able to raise $250,000. I'll be continuing my season and racing Ironman with Paula's memory to keep me strong.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Augusta Half IM Race Report - Don't Eat the Paste

Some of the fab athletes on our team pre 70.3 (I'm second from the left)
I'm going to keep this entry limited to just the Augusta wrap up vs catch you up on my missed weeks of training updates. This race was a 'training day' for us as we enter our last 6 or so weeks of training. We were supposed to test ourselves but not go all out. 

Woke up race morning to 95% humidity and overcast (slightly spitty) skies. My wave didn't go off until 8:44a so since we had to be out of transition by 7a, I caught the shuttle over, set up transition and then caught the shuttle back to the hotel to chill out before walking back around 8:10. Put my wetsuit on and got lined up, time was flying. Pre race I had a couple of sport bottles of EFS. It was a little hard to figure out nutrition as I haven't started a race that late so was hoping I didn't screw things up by drinking too much pre-race.

Beth B, Me, Ann heading toward the swim start
My husband, Brad, and 4 year old daughter, Brooke, made it just in time to see me head into the water. I got the best pre-race kiss from Brooke, I was thrilled to see them as my day was starting.
Go Mommy, Go!
Swim 1.2 miles: 0:29:22 (1:32/100m)
Swim was very murky with lots of random weeds, branches. The great news is that the field was pretty spread out and there was a nice current working positively for us. I was really happy with my swim, felt strong the whole way and even caught people in the waves ahead of me (a first).

T1: 0:5:37
Ran up the hill and met the wetsuit strippers around the corner. Picked the biggest guy I could find and off it comes, I was shucked like a big ear of corn. Got on socks, shoes, my number and off I went.

Bike 56 miles: 3:18:10 (16.9mph)
Weather was still overcast and it was just a nice rolling course so I was trying to hold back some. I felt so good so I just kept saying to myself, "Don't eat the paste", as my girl Paige reminded me. Basically meaning don't get pulled out with everybody, let them fly by. I didn't eat the paste for a long time but then, guess what, I ate it... I had 2 bottle of EFS and 2 bottles of water with gel. Didn't eat my luna bar (critical error), just drank all of my calories. Sun came out full force at about 30 or so miles on the bike. I mean HOT. Was starting to dread the impending run. 

Funniest part of the bike was a guy standing at the end of his driveway with a sign that said, GO HOME on it. I saw him and started laughing thinking it was a joke. That was until he started saying, 'Go home, you're an inconvenience to the community, don't come back'. What?! So then I pedaled a little further and his next door neighbors were on their driveway saying, 'Don't listen to him, we think you guys are rockstars. Please come back'. Too funny! Sweated out the last 25 or so miles with the sun baking down and then hit the transition area.

T2: 0:4:26
Threw my bike back, grabbed my shoes, did a porta potty break and off I went. I felt pretty good other than hot. Unfortunately that feeling didn't last.

Hello Sun! 
Run 13.1miles 2:42:10 (12:24 pace)
Yep, the wheels fell off. Don't get me wrong, I'm no speedster runner but I can pull off faster than this. I made it to just mile 2 before I reverted to a very sporadic run walk. Basically it was based on my stomach. I had so much fluid in there that my stomach was sloshing every time I'd start running. I'm running next to this guy (stranger) and he hears it and says, 'is that your shoe?' I say, 'nope, that is my stomach'. Ohhhhhhh. Yeah, not good. Major gastric issues. 

Brooke and me - about 5 miles into the run

Generally when I do races, I run with friends that are new runners or I'm pushing a jog stroller running with my husband or something that has me go at someone else's pace. It cracks me up because people look up race times and think I'm so much slower than I actually am but the reality is that I almost never run my own pace at races. Well, this time, I completely own this run time. I didn't hang back to stay with anybody, didn't  push 35 pounds in a jog stroller for the distance. Nothing, it was just a rough run. Sun baked until about 8 miles in for me, shoving sponges down my jersey, running through hoses (yep, blisters). Then, the thunder started and a downpour. Every type of weather decided to be represented during the race at some point. It felt great to get rained on though my two toes with new blisters weren't so happy. 

Despite some challenges during the race, I smiled the whole time. Seriously, even the worst day out there beats what other people go through on a daily basis to just live. Whenever I hit that pity party moment I try remind myself how lucky I am to do this sport no matter what the day brings. I have to smile.

Hopefully this crazy finish photo makes you smile too
Finish: 6:40:10
Note to self, before attempting a finish line photo where you jump, let the photographers get ready so they catch you in the air. I was a cheerleader from grade school until college. We used to do this 'C' jump where your body forms a C. This was me either jumping or landing while doing the C. I can't tell what it looks like I'm doing, some sort of dance maybe? I might need to have a caption contest to do it justice. 

No more races until the big dance on November 20th. The next several weeks are brutal looking at the schedule but our team has raised over $250,000 now so I'm going to keep smiling through it! Thanks for reading, I'll try to update this weekend. As always, your donations are appreciated and help find cures for blood cancers so thanks for your donations!!