Friday, August 10, 2012

Bye For Now

  The Lord has given me a week since I posted my last blog to really see and hear some things to make me think.  God has shown me things that make me so thankful and so gracious for being in the position I am in. It has taken some time for me to realize how much I should be grateful for and how blessed my family and I are.

  Let me start where I left off on my last blog. Have you ever dreamed a dream? Have you ever wished you were capable of accomplishing something pretty cool, something that seemed out of reach and so far away? For years now I have watched and re-watched the Ironman World Championship races that take place in Kona, Hawaii. There are so many inspirational stories of the athletes that take part in the day. The best triathletes in the world compete in Kona for the coveted title of being the world champion Ironman!! It can be incredibly hard for some people to qualify for Kona. Some have tried for years and are still trying. Just recently I read a story of a guy who has been trying for 13 years and he finally got in this year. Some people will pay up to $40,000 on eBay to register. Some qualify through a legacy lottery. In order to enter a legacy lottery you have to have done at least 12 Ironman races. Some never qualify. It’s the Olympics of Ironman. It’s an honor to compete at Kona. I respect every athlete that tries to qualify or that has a goal to qualify. It’s an amazing accomplishment. I understand how much work is put into training, how much effort it takes to qualify. I always dreamed of qualifying and I trained like I was going to but deep down inside I never actually thought I would.

  Monday morning after the race Jamie and I went to the Olympic Oval to celebrate the 3rd place finish God blessed me with. While there we decided to head up to the high school just to see if I qualified for Kona. I didn’t think it was possible but figured it would be fun to check out. There were only two slots in my age group and they went to the first two finishers. I was the 3rd finisher so it appeared as though I just missed it. We were advised to go to the roll-down meeting though because there was a good chance the first place girl wasn’t going to take one of the open slots since she probably already qualified. Jamie and I had a quick discussion and decided we would accept the Kona invitation if it was offered to me. They instructed us at the roll-down meeting that they would say our name 3 times and if we did not accept the roll-down immediately it would go to the next person. My name was the first one called up in my age group. I had, in fact, qualified for Kona. I can’t begin to describe how I felt.  I just felt like I was in a dream. Never, ever did I think I was going to be able to participate in the World Ironman Championship. What an honor. I was so excited to go to Kona and represent the blessings God had granted me, to represent my family and my support crew, to represent MTC and Maine. Mentally and physically I felt ready to go. I would rest up a bit and then hit the training hard. I wouldn’t want to let anyone down with my performance. My head was spinning; I couldn’t believe what was happening. Seriously, I just can’t even describe the feeling. I still can’t believe it and my stomach still gets butterflies thinking about it. Oh, what I would do to go to Kona!!! Jamie and I thought about the flight over, we thought about being in Hawaii and vacationing a bit. We were so excited!!!

  Jamie and I embraced each other and thanked each other for the hard work we had both put into this accomplishment. Jamie was such a strong force behind the scenes. We both felt like God had blessed our efforts and was rewarding us with a sweet little vacation to Hawaii. Wow, what a treat!!! We could only dream of going to Hawaii. I was ready to do another Ironman too. Things were about to change drastically in a matter of minutes though.

  After I handed over my credit card and registered for the Kona race, which was about $800, and after I signed my life away we left the building and headed down to the Olympic oval to celebrate our 3rd place finish. After celebrating the podium finish my dreams were all of a sudden dashed. I was informed that the Kona race was on Sabbath (Saturday). That was it. I was expected at that very moment to pass up the opportunity, throw the golden ticket away without second thought. I was expected to forget about the World Championship and never look back. How could I even think about accepting the qualification? Well, let me tell you what, when you put so much hard work into so many months of training, when you feel like God is blessing and leading, when you feel like God actually gave you the opportunity you can’t help but consider the offer. Maybe some would NEVER have even considered but please don’t judge until you are in the very position I was in.

    All of a sudden I started having a lot of people telling me what to do. People were immediately judging me (us). People were putting pressure on my shoulders to both compete in the race and to not accept the offer. I had some people tell me that if I decided to go to Kona they wouldn’t support me and then I had some people tell me that no matter what I decided they would support me. Man, I never knew how tough things were going to be regarding this whole Kona thing. What a mess. I learned a lot of things during this time. We noticed that some people don’t like to see other’s succeeding. Some people have a hard time being happy for others.  Then there are others that are so generous and so gracious. I had some wonderful people give Jamie and I beautiful bouquets of flowers and massages. We were so grateful and felt so undeserving. Still others (even some people in my training club) had to try hard to act happy. Some haven’t said a thing. Please understand I don’t believe I deserve much but one can tell when they are being kind of snubbed. None of them knew the turmoil that was going on behind the scenes. I guess I was looking for their support since I wasn’t getting it in other areas of my life. You see, I started to feel sorry for myself. I’m ashamed to admit it but it’s true. For so many years I had finally accomplished something surreal and it was hard to choke down the rejection I got from some people. I was looking WAY too much to myself and to people. My eyes weren’t focused on God and God alone. I was confused and a bit bitter. I wasn’t bitter at God and I wasn’t bitter about the Sabbath, but I was and still am fighting bitter feelings toward some people and how they treated me (us). Lesson number one learned: You cannot, EVER, look to people!!! Keep your eyes on Jesus and nothing else. It’s a lesson I am still trying to practice.

  Let me take this opportunity to explain why the Sabbath is so important to me.  God set aside the 7th day to rest, to spend time with Him, to care for others, to reach out to the poor, the needy, and the lonely. The Sabbath day should be spent with God and for His honor. I am such a competitive person that it would be impossible for me to participate in Kona and not compete. I would be in race mode. No part of me feels comfortable racing on the Sabbath day. I will be the first to say that I don’t keep the Sabbath the way I should. There are so many different things I should do but I try to make some good decisions regarding the Sabbath.  I firmly believe that in the end times the Sabbath will set apart God’s people. It’s of utmost importance that we stay firm in our beliefs and that we follow God’s will. My muscle to stay firm for God and to do what I feel like God is impressing me to do is weak and needs to be strengthened.  Thus, I decided, with God’s help, that I must not compete in Kona. I do not judge other people and the decisions they make regarding the Sabbath. God works in different ways. But let me just remark that God impressed me not to compete in Kona and I must listen. I decided not to listen to what everyone was saying around me.  I had to listen to God and that’s what I did. But to this day I am left with some emotional baggage. I am still confused about some things and I don’t totally understand why everything happened the way it did. With blind faith I chug along the path of a Christian waiting for the day that God will make everything clear to us. I am sure I will have much harder decisions to face ahead and I just pray that this challenge will make me stronger. It’s pretty cool to be a strong’ish athlete but its way cooler to be a strong Christian. There is no other greater satisfaction but it can be hard to remember that.

  Because going to Kona has been a dream of mine for years and years I am still having a hard time just forgetting about it. It may seem stupid but I have shed many tears over not being able to go. Every time I think about Kona my stomach does flips and gets butterflies.  I still think about ways that it would be possible to compete. I still wish that there was a way I could go. For some reason I still have a lingering hope that it will work out. Hope is everything. If only they would move the race to Sunday but I feel assured that’s not going to happen.  Every bike ride I have been on since Lake Placid I have shed tears about the whole issue. I shed tears not only because I’m sad about not going to Kona but also because I am hurt and upset in so many ways.  You see I feel like I made a big sacrifice (so small compared to God’s sacrifice but big compared to a lot of people around me) to respect the Sabbath and to listen to my heart; a sacrifice I don’t regret. But then I see people around me, who were quick to judge me, making decisions about how to spend the Sabbath that aren’t necessarily that much different than racing in Kona. I see people doing things on Sabbath that I think is no different in the long run. The Lord states that breaking the Ten Commandments is breaking the Ten Commandments no matter if you don’t keep the Sabbath day holy or if you murder someone. It’s all a sin. Obviously there are greater consequences for murder (rightfully so) but a sin is a sin. Why have people expected me to make the right decision about the Sabbath when they aren’t making any effort to respect the Sabbath like God would want? I know the answer!!! The answer is you can’t look to people!!! You can’t look to people!!! You can only look to God. Keep your eyes on Jesus!! Even though I know the answer I still have an awful hard time with how I was treated. Those who so easily judged me have no problem going on their marry way doing whatever they want. It’s hard to let go; very hard.

  I can honestly say that NONE of this has turned me off from my religion. None of this has made me bitter at God or the Sabbath; quite the contrary. It has made me realize that ONLY God is consistent. Only God makes complete sense and stays the same. Only God is faithful, fair and forgiving. Only God is gracious, loving and supportive. Only God knows your heart and only God has the best intentions for you.  I have learned that God is the only one I can count on and the only One that matters. I feel as though this whole experience has made my relationship with God more real. I love Him and I am so thankful for the Sabbath. Now God has to help me forgive and forget my hurt feelings, my bitterness and my anger towards people.  It’s going to take some time but hopefully soon I can let it all go and just move ahead.

  Some of you may wonder why I was so confused about whether to or not to go to Kona. Well, let me tell you a little more of the story. First of all, I am very thankful for my overall Ironman time but it was not a Kona qualifying time. If you check out the past three years of Lake Placid results you will find that I would have been in the top 10 or 12 but not 3rd place. I honestly feel like God really blessed me this year with the right athlete field, perfect weather and enough energy to actually place. It was literally a miracle that I placed, let alone qualify for Kona. I did work hard and trained with all my heart but I never would have placed 3rd without God. So that would be miracle number one. Miracle number 2 is it was quite amazing I was able to finish with the time I had considering the fact that I trained the minimum amount each week. The average athlete trained anywhere from 18-30 hours per week for Lake Placid. I trained, on average, only 12 hours a week; goes to prove that God did, in fact, give me strength on race day. I also didn’t have the equipment that the top placing gals had. No race tires, no race helmet, etc. Miracle number 3 is that I actually got a roll-down spot for Kona. They are rare and few between but not only did a get a spot I was first on the list. Wow, what a blessing from God. Miracle 4: Jamie and I knew that we couldn’t afford to pay for plane tickets to Hawaii, housing, and all the other hidden costs of a trip but we were informed that a big group of people had already started a Trott Kona fund. I feel so underserving and yet so honored to have such supportive friends. Wow, I’m blown away still to think about how generous people are. I thank each and every one of you for your readiness to help Jamie and I make it to Hawaii. Financially the trip was coming together and looking possible. Miracle 5: we had several offers from friends who were willing to fly to Hawaii and split the cost of housing. An athlete we met in Lake Placid sent me info and contact information of a place we could stay (on course) for only $100 a night.  I kept wondering if God was making this all possible. I kept wondering if God was leading me to go to Kona. Was there a ministry in it? Jamie and I wanted to make sure we did God’s will so we were considering every option. The whole time though I just felt uneasy and felt deep down inside that I was not to go. In the end, I have no regrets about my decision. I feel at peace and being at peace with God is the best feeling; far more satisfying than anything this world has to offer. I think as time continues I will realize that even more. I have a lot of growing to do and a lot of learning to do.  But I pray that this experience will make my family and me stronger. 

  My golden ticket to Kona has slipped out of reach but God’s hand has grasped mine and promised not to let go. When I fight my feelings about this whole ordeal God gives me peace and reminds me of His love.

  Just within this past week I have seen so many people fighting for their lives mostly due to illnesses. I have seen people who would do anything to be in my spot. Kona is such a small challenge in comparison to what some of my friends are experiencing. It makes me sick to think about how much I have struggled with this issue when I see my friends praying for another year of life. I apologize for my shallowness and self-pity. I apologize for my selfishness and for feeling sorry for myself. I have nothing to feel sorry about. My family and I have much to celebrate. We have much to be thankful for.  August 29 (last day to get a partial registration refund) will come and go but until that day passes I don’t think I will give up on a little hope.  What’s wrong with hoping? I can’t wait until Oct 13 has passed because then it will be all over and behind me. Until that day my human heart aches to race. My type A personality desires to compete. But, thank the Lord, my desire to please Him and to listen to Him is MUCH stronger and much more determined. Doing God’s will and following His instructions is going to be the hardest and greatest race I will ever run. Can I do it? No. But, I know God can carry me when I get weak. I know, without a doubt, that through God ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!!!!! That’s what I have learned!!!

  Good bye Kona. Your image has been too much of my focus. God must be my primary desire and my primary focus. Health and fitness are important but neither are possible without God’s help and blessings. I still plan on racing and I still plan on doing another Ironman but to God be the glory.

  So this closes my Ironman journey. Not sure if I will continue to blog since my only purpose of this blog was to talk about my Ironman journey. The journey has come to an end. My family and I are entering a new chapter. It promises to be full of many more adventures, challenges and learning experiences. May God lead us to His heavenly gates. I hope to see all of you there.

  Good bye my dear friends. Thank you for your support and for following me during this Ironman journey. I appreciate you all!!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Lake Placid Ironman, The RACE!!!

Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep. My alarm went off at 4am on July 22. It was time to get up, gear up and go. I was nervous as expected. For worship that morning I asked God to calm my nerves and to speak soothing words to me. I opened my Bible randomly and the first verse I looked at said: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed” Proverbs 16:3. The second verse I read said “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” Proverbs 16:9. I quickly bowed my head and committed the race to the Lord once again and took comfort in His Words. I repeated the verses in my head the entire race and it gave me so much peace!!! After worship I was able to barely eat a banana and a bagel. Once my race attire was on and my gear bags loaded I was out the door and headed up to the Olympic Oval. (Thank you Jamie for waking up with me, praying with me and driving me up to the hub-bub.) First thing I did was pump up my bike tires, load my bike up with fuel and drink. Thankfully I noticed that my Sigma bike computer battery was dead and I came prepared with an extra battery. I changed the batter, took some pictures with my phone and then head to the body marking area. After marking my body I dropped off my special needs bags and then waited 30 minutes in line to use the outhouse. After lots of work I managed to get my wetsuit on just in time to cross through the swim gate and strategically place myself in the water for the swim start. The pro’s started 10 minutes ahead of the rest of us. Somehow I was able to find Matt H. in the water and we placed ourselves far right and about a foot behind the start flags. It was a perfect spot.

  BAAAM!!! The gun went off it was time to start the race of a lifetime. We had trained so long for this moment and I couldn’t believe it was time to put it all together. The first part of the swim was crazy but thankfully I never did get kicked in the face, pulled under or trampled on. I had a couple people actually grab my ankle which was the only time I would purposefully kick a little bit letting them know they better not grab my ankle, ever. Haha!!! It’s one thing to hit me or something but there is no need of grabbing. During the entire swim I stayed a fair bit right. Every time I came close to the cord I slowed down due to all the people. By staying far right I was able to keep moving with a clear path ahead of me. It might have cost me a little bit of time to swim wide but I would totally do it again. In no time at all the first lap of the swim was complete and I found myself running on the beach and heading out for my second lap.  I was so thankful for another lap, otherwise it would have been over way too soon. I wasn’t totally sure how to pace myself but I just listened to my body. I tried to move along at a good little clip without going anaerobic. It worked great. Next thing I knew I was out of the swim and laying on the ground with the strippers yanking off my wetsuit. (I love strippers. It would have taken me several minutes to get my wetsuit off). 

  The bike was next. I ran into the transition tent and quickly got my gear on. Volunteers were waiting at the end of all the bike racks ready to hand you your bike. I grabbed my bike and ran it to the mount area. Lots of people were watching, including my family. It was so wonderful to see them in the crowd wearing the awesome red support shirts Jamie made. I jumped on my bike and headed out. Once again I wasn’t totally sure how to pace myself. I knew I wanted to at least maintain an average pace of 17mph but was hoping I was capable of an 18mph pace. During the entire race I listened to my body and did what felt good at that moment. On the hills I was going anywhere between 6-12mph, on the downhill I was going 43-46mph and on the flats I was going anywhere between 20-25mph. The first loop of the bike I was surrounded by other racers. It was a battle not to draft. I saw several teams that were totally drafting off each other for much of the first loop. I did my best not to draft but at times it was really hard. Every pedal stroke I was just trying to soak it all in. Honestly, I was in my glory and just loving every minute. Before I knew it I was entering town and coming close to the different spots my family said they would be. Tears filled my eyes for so many reasons. First of all I couldn’t believe I was actually racing the Ironman. I missed Tucker and Jamie and knew I would be seeing them for a split second very soon. Also I was just really touched with how many people came to support Matt H. and I. One of our childhood friends, Lori S. flew up from Tennessee to support us. It was amazing. The crowds were yelling, screaming and cheering us all on. The energy was unlike anything. I just wanted to pause that moment for a really long time and enjoy every second. After making a sharp corner into town the very first thing I saw was a really blond headed boy on his daddy’s shoulders, both wearing the red shirt. I knew it was Tucker and Jamie and I just fell apart again. Soon after seeing Tuck and Jamie I saw Lori cheering me on and my mom and Jamie’s parents and Matt and Mariah and everyone else. I started to cry at this point, not just tear up. I was so touched. Then I reminded myself that I was losing precious sodium through my tears and told myself to stop. Haha!!! I was so thankful for a second loop on the bike. Never once did I wish the race to be shorter. Never once did I dread going out on a second lap, whether it be during the swim or bike or run. I thrived on every mile, every minute, every second. The second loop on the bike was a bit lonely. People had spread out at this point but I found myself still having to be careful not to draft. Unfortunately at one point, on the straights, I found myself behind a whole row of bikers. I knew I had two choices, either pass them all or slow down. Well, I didn’t want to pass them all because then I would be too tired heading into the hilly section of the race. I also didn’t want to slow down because that goes against every ounce of my competitiveness. While I was thinking through my strategy a good old motorcycle pulled up beside me and told me that I was getting penalized for drafting. He gave me strict directions to pull over in the next penalty box for a totally of 4 minutes. The next penalty box was 30 miles away so I had some good riding to do before I had to stop. The motorcycle worked his way forwarded nailing a bunch of people. At first I was totally bummed about the penalty but then I decided to use it as a strategy. I would push through the next 30 miles a little harder than normal since I would get a nice break 2 miles out from the marathon start. By the time I made it to the penalty box I was ready for a little break. It was actually a welcoming sight. Once I stopped though it was killing me watching all the bikers’ wiz by. Uuuuggg!!! I just wanted to go. After a long 4 minutes the referee told me to mount my bike and get ready to roll. He counted down the final 10 seconds and off I went. I only had 2 miles left until I dismounted my bike and head into the run transition. Near the end of the bike I felt great but was slightly concerned with how little fuel I was consuming. I ate some gummies but that was it. I didn’t touch any of the fuel tapped onto my frame and my Bento-box was still mostly full. Would I have enough energy to get through the run? At the dismount area I handed my bike off and immediately grabbed my run gear. My family was standing close to where my gear bag was hanging so I was able to talk to them for a quick second.  

  In the run transition tent I swear I just stood there while the volunteers did everything. They put my belt on, my watch on, my shoes on, sunblock on and so much more. I literally just stood there. It was amazing. I kept telling them over and over how awesome they were. In no time at all I was running through the run out gate starting the marathon. Once again I spotted my support crew who gave me a great boost going into the run. The first thing I noticed on the run was how I looked like a runner’s buffet. I had Gu bulging from my pockets, pinned to the outside of the belt, in my jersey pockets and everywhere else. The stuff was so annoying I actually started throwing it out. Glad I did too because I ended up not able to eat anything but 3 small pretzels, 5 grapes and 4 orange slices on the entire run. Thankfully I was able to drink though, which was my saving grace. I saw a lot of people walking and throwing up on the side of the road. Some athletes were screaming in pain as they worked through leg cramps, while others lay, what seemed to be, lifeless on the side of the road. I was so thankful for every step of progress I was able to make. I was concerned I was going to run out of steam at some point since I ended up doing my swim and bike faster than I thought and since I wasn’t able to eat much. The calories from my morning banana and bagel were long gone. Mentally though I wasn’t anywhere close to being done. Again I repeated Proverbs 16:3 to myself and kept praying that the Lord would give me strength. He sure did too!!! I was able to run the entire marathon without any trouble. I had nausea the entire run but never bad enough that I had to throw up. I never had any cramps and the blisters on my feet were minimal. I was worried because I was running on new shoes that had never been run in before. (It’s a long story but I don’t recommend buying new shoes right before an event and running in them for the first time during a race).  As I climbed back into town the crowds, once again, were yelling, screaming, and cheering us all on. I felt like the crowd and my support team reloaded my mental energy box and I was ready to head out for my final 13.1 miles. At this point I wasn’t dreading the last loop, instead I couldn’t believe how close I was to being done. I didn’t want to be done. It was all passing by like a flash. Thirteen miles was nothing compared to all the training I had done and all the miles I had covered already that day. Thirteen little miles was all I had left and I just wanted to soak in every step. Before I knew it I was at the run turn around farthest from town and found myself running toward the finish line. About 4 miles from the finish line I ran past our Inn where the Harlow gang was cheering us on. Eric S. ran beside me briefly and informed me that I was placing. Now, Eric S. knows his stuff and is one amazing athlete but I figured he must have been mistaken. There was no way I was going to place. Surely my time wasn’t that good. It’s important to note that I wasn’t looking at the clock at all that day. I knew if I saw how long it was taking me to finish the different legs of the race I might get discouraged. I just needed to run my race without any pressure and feel good. So I ignored the clocks, watches and timers. I just listened to my body. Anyway, I was shocked to hear that I might be placing. Unfortunately I didn’t have much to give. I had thoughts that I would just have to miss out on placing if I saw someone from my age group pass me. I didn’t have much left. The hardest part of the run was the second to last mile. But even that mile wasn’t bad. I was on my final mile and everything seemed surreal. I couldn’t believe that I was getting ready to run into the Olympic Oval and under the finish line. I started thinking about being able to place and decided I would never forgive myself if I slowed way down during the final mile and let a competitor pass me. I picked it up that final mile and before I knew it I was running around the Olympic Oval. I could see my support crew and I could hear all the people yelling but then I heard the words “Alicia Trott, from Topsham Maine, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!!! I fell into the arms of a volunteer after crossing the finish line and all of a sudden I felt like I got hit by an eighteen wheeler. My tummy hurt so bad, I had no idea how sick I was on the run until I stopped. I knew I had nausea bad but drinking the flat Coke on course seemed to help me avoid throwing up. Thankfully the volunteer that caught me was Sue C. a friend and mentor from Brunswick Maine who was volunteering at the finish line. Sue has done several Ironman and was such a big help during my training. She was such an awesome sight. She escorted me to through the finish line, got my hat, and shirt, took me to get my picture taken and got my finisher medal. She helped me walk out the race legs and took me to my family. GREAT BIG thank you to Sue!!!  My tummy was in turmoil and nothing I did relieved the pain and discomfort. My family told me I looked green. It took a solid hour before I finally started to feel better. Once my tummy pain went away I was up and at it and ready to roll. Physically I felt great and mentally I was just high. What an experience. What a day!!! What an amazing group of volunteers and I’m so thankful for the best support crew ever!!! My final time was 11 hours, 47 minutes and 28 seconds. My goal was to finish the race somewhere between 12 hours 40 minutes and 12 hours 20 minutes. God gave me strength and a little speed. God helped me finish the race in much better time than I thought I was going to. God gave me such a smooth race; one that I will NEVER forget!!! What happened after the race is another story. We did find out that I actually did place 3rd in my age group. I was in shock and had no idea that was possible. I wish I had basked in the glory that Ironman night more than I did because everything was about to get tough and agonizingly hard the next morning. To this day I am still crying over what happened next and can’t wrap my mind around why things had to happen the way they did. It might all seem minor to you all but it’s kind of a big deal to me. I haven’t been able to blog about it yet and am not sure when I will but soon enough you will learn about the hardest part of the entire Ironman. My feelings to this day are raw. I don’t want to talk about the race, I don’t want to talk about the Ironman and I can honestly say I haven’t been able to enjoy having finished the Ironman since that Ironman night. BUT my heart is at peace with what happened and I know that in the end what happened was the right thing. To be continued…

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Starting to Pack

The packing has begun. Transition bags, special needs bags, bike gear, and so much more. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Do Not Run Aimlessly

  One week, one day; the nerves are getting high. Life has been so busy lately but when I am reminded of the upcoming event I freak out a bit and my tummy churns. For me it's normal. I always get nervous. Doesn't matter if I am getting ready to race a 5k or an Ironman, I still get nervous.

  The above verses are in my heart to remind myself of several things. First of all to do my very best July 22 and to run the race with everything that I have. I am in no way going to come close to winning a prize like the verses say, that is not what I am implying, but I will run "in such a way to get a prize (hopefully a finishers medal).  It also reminds me not to run aimlessly but to run for God. The Ironman is a hobby, it's a sport, I know, but I can still stroke, pedal and run for God; God can be my focus. All day long I can pray for His strength and His wisdom and His mercy. It will be good practice for life, as we all need to pray for God's help every day of our lives. We need to daily ask for God's strength, wisdom and mercy.
  Most importantly the verses keep me grounded and remind me that life isn't just about Ironman or any of our other hobbies. Life is about God and His children. The verses remind me of the bigger picture, what we are really doing on earth. We are not hear to aimlessly charge here and there; we are here to prepare for eternal life with God. What greater race is there?? The race of life eternal with the most loving, forgiving, patient Father. I certainly do not want to get disqualified from this short life on earth and I don't want any of my family or friends too either.
   Imagine heaven where there will be no pain, no suffering, no death, no sorrow, no arguments, everyone will be able to see, hear, walk, run, dance, speak, everyone will be equal, everyone will be richly blessed, everyone will be friends.  Why don't we all desire it more? Why don't I get nervous about my spiritual life and the race that is determining my eternal future?
  "As Christians, we are running toward our heavenly reward. The essential disciplines of prayer, Bible study, and worship equip us to run with vigor and stamina. Don't merely observe from the grandstand; don't just turn out to jog a couple laps each morning. Train diligently--your spiritual progress depends upon it."Commentary in the Life Application Study Bible.
  The Ironman training has taught me discipline like never before. No matter what, I was determined not to miss a day of training. And when I trained it was with purpose, meaning and with a goal in mind. My spiritual life must be even more diligent and self-disciplined. God help me!!!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Going to Miss IM

   Sunday I did my last longish bike. As I was driving to Gray to bike I was just reminiscing about the entire training season. So many memories, so many people, so many miles covered. Goodness, I'm going to miss it!! I cried in the car on my way to my last longish bike ride. I am full of apprehension about this thing being over. We have been thinking about kiddo number two and I know when that happens it's going to be very hard for me to do any type of training. Selfishly I have worked so hard to be at the point I'm at that it's hard to just see it all disappear. My family is more important to me but I am definitely trying to figure out a way to keep up my sport without totally going by the wayside. As you can see I'm going to have a hard time giving it up. Phew!! You might wonder why I enjoy it so much. Here is a list:

1.      I have met some great people during my training; Rich and Tina two of the most wonderful people, Swim Coach Russ, Jilly Bean, The Totman, Marianne, Seaweed Tom, Krazy Kathy, Marathoner Mark, Jim and Mark, Hot Mama Dominique, Little Powerhouse Jerry, Ta The Cyclist, Po Po Erik, Charlie the Great, Val and Walt, Andrew the politician, Anne and Roy, Mike the Brilliant, Mike the Chaser Racer, Doug, Holly and Jim, Jerry the Guy, Nicole, Energy Bunny Sue, Erica, Steve, Steve and Bob, Heather, Courtney, and the list goes on. I know I forgot someone which is not intentional.

2.      Some wonderful family and friends have supported my every effort (all the above names belong here too): Jamie, Tuck, Mom, Dad, Matt C., Mariah, Grandpa Gerald, Child Gang, Jill and Matt H., Greg S., Lori The Gimbel, Aunt Donna, Uncle Mike, Rick, Cheryl, Jessica, Jenn, my Couch to 5k Class, Greg T., and the list could go on and on.

3.      It has made me stronger not only physically but also mentally.

4.      We have trained in all weather conditions: snow, negative degree temps, hot temps, light rain, pouring rain, thunder, high wind days, gusty days, hurricane like days, cloudy days, sunny days and everything else in between.

5.      I have trained in many physical conditions: healthy, tired, sick, exhausted, overtrained, undertrained, injured, healing, painful, sore, stiff, with viruses, without viruses, with flu, without flu, stomach problems, throwing up; I think that's pretty much it.

6.      I have trained in many mental conditions: motivated, mentally exhausted and tired, hyper, unmotivated, aimless, goal oriented, happy, upset, excited, sad, teary eyed, maybe a bit grumpy :-), super stoked, but ALWAYS determined!!!

7.      Training for Ironman is the closest thing yet that I have done that requires perseverance, unwavering determination, relentless training, and no slacking. My training for other tri's was not nearly as planned out and if I missed a week here and there it was no big deal. Over 7-8 months time (6 of which were all out training months) I missed a total of 6 days due to being very sick. I trained when sick except when I had a high temperature or I was throwing up. As I mentioned in an early blog the training has been kind of like my Olympic games. It's the biggest athletic event I have ever done and I have figured out it is no laughing matter. Lots of focus.

8.      Sleep and recovery are so important and you have to make it part of your schedule. For the first time since I can remember I have been napping and enjoying it. My napping days are nearly over and I will miss them.

9.      Food, food, food. I haven't focused enough on race weight but I sure have taken advantage of eating like a horse. Goodness, I can eat alot of food. I have a feeling that's going to have to change drastically when this is all over. Yikes!!! Probably won't change until I gain lots of weight. Now I understand why some retired athletes gain weight. Totally makes sense.

10.  Countless mornings my alarm went off at 4am and even as early as 3:30am. Those early mornings were hard at first and then I just started to get up like a robot not even thinking about it. Believe it or not there is something special about early mornings.

11.  Countless nights I went to bed at 8pm and even as early as 7:45pm. Soon as Tuck went down for the night Mama would collapse.

12.  We got to welcome the day by exercising so early in the morning. We had many swims, bikes and runs that started in the dark and while training we got to enjoy the sunrise. I have so many beautiful images in my head from different sunrises I got to enjoy. Just beautiful!!!

13.  It's been alot of fun being out there training beside and racing with pro marathoners and triathletes. Karen Smyers probably wants to kill me since I yelled at her every time we passed each other in Lake Placid. We have passed by Joan Benoit out for her morning runs here and there too (We were on bikes. Only way we would have passed her). Then there have been a number of pro's at the races. Not many sports allow the average athlete such as myself to compete in the same race as the professionals. It's pretty cool.

14.  Never before have I thought it okay to take a day completely off of exercise. Sabbath has always been my day off planned training but I still usually walk or do something outside in the fresh air. There are some things that I feel comfortable doing on the Sabbath, such as hiking and taking walks. We, as a family, enjoy being active on Sabbath but I like to take the day off any planned training. Rest is just as important as exercise, nutrition, stress management, etc. You have to incorporate all of it. Sabbath is an important day to spend with God and to rejuvinate my spiritually thirsty soul. The day off leaves me feeling refreshed and ready for another busy week. God blesses us for observing His Holy day as well.  For nearly a year of Ironman training there have only been two days that I actually got on my bike and did a ride on Sabbath. In both situations I had mixed feelings thinking I sholdn't have gotten on bike and yet felt like it was fine considering the situation. I was not motivated by weather or working on killing myself.  I felt like I wasn't doing it for the wrong reasons. It's a fine balance for me to know what activity is okay for me to do on Sabbath and what isn't okay. It also matters who I surround myself with and what our conversation is. Hiking can be very strenous but I find it okay to do on Sabbath because being outside, and especially on mountain tops makes me feel as close to God as it gets.  I have run on Sabbath too but not as part of my training plan, instead just as a way to refresh my mind and get some fresh air. It's not about mileage, time or calories. Competing on the Sabbath is a big no-no for me though. I, personally can not compete and think on Sabbath thoughts at the same time. I pray during competitions but my mind is in a very different place while competing. So, long story short, I don't think it's a sin to run, swim or bike on the Sabbath but personally I'm having to be very careful about doing any of those three activites on Sabbath since they put me in race mode and make me think about the big event I have coming up. The ironman takes up too much of my thought already. I need to protect the Sabbath and keep it as a day to think about God, family, friends and those in need.

15.  For the first time in a long time I have become a little more versatile in the time of day I train. I still prefer to exercise in the morning but I have found out its okay to exercise at different times of day. I have had to swim late morning, bike in the afternoons, run in the evening. That's big for me since I use to only exercise in the morning. If I didn't get it done in the morning it wouldn't get done. With Ironman training you don't have a choice. I didn't have enough time to do everything in the morning or afternoon. Often I had to split it up and do some training in the morning then again in late morning and afternoon. I still MUCH prefer to run in the morning though. Running is the only exercise I despise doing any other time of day. :-)

16.  Gear, gear, gear. Although I don't have top notch stuff or hardly everything that is available to triathletes I have definitely accumulated pretty great stuff. Jamie and I (mostly Jamie) have researched great deals and gotten most everything with discounts.

17.  I am madly in love with my maintenance man. He is my tech man, my maintenance man, my gear man, my go-to-man for all equipment I own. Every once and awhile he even gives me a kiss or two. My maintenance man is the best in Maine and I have him all to myself. I share him with no one. He is the best kept secret. Thanks Jamie for all the changed tires, pumped tubes, seat adjustments, gear adjustments, water bottle adjustments, bike tune ups, and so much more. You are my right hand man and nothing you do goes unnoticed.

18.  Gear educator. Only Jamie knows how much I hate to change tires!!! Thanks babe for making me practice even though you had to listen to me whine and whimper. We still have some more practicing to do.  I wouldn’t have a clue how to change a tired if it wasn’t for you. Wish I could pack you up and bring you along on race day to change all my flats and fix all my problems.

19.  Free babysitting with the best sitter ever is another best kept secret of mine. My babysitter even comes with perks. He bakes bread, has been known to make dinner, picks stuff up, gardens, fixes my car, feeds my boy, loves my boy, changes my boy's very poopy diapers, takes Tucker to some fun places, puts Tuck down for naps, reads to Tucker, plays with Tucker and exceeds all expectations a mother might have for a babysitter. The cool thing is he is my maintenance man. What a handy man. Man of many trades. Love you Jamie.

20.  Backup babysitters!! Yes, I even have back-up babysitters who are totally amazing. My mom and dad have watched Tuck a number of times while I trained or raced. When I'm racing I have to have my maintenance man with me so Tuck gets to spend quality time with his Grampy and Grammy. They are so good with him; fun, active and consistent. Sometimes Tuck misses his naps when he is with Grampy and Grammy though. :-)

21.  Most importantly:

Every stroke, every pedal, every step are given to me from God. He is the reason my body is able to do any of this. He deserves all the credit. God is so loving, selfless, and patient. He has for some reason given me this opportunity. Somehow I hope this experience will glorify Him and Him alone. God is great. I don't totally understand why He has allowed me to do such an involved sport. Any way you look at it, it has definitely taken time away from God. I prayed before every bit of training so we were never separated but our one-on-one quite time was limited. I don’t' like it and I understand it's the most important thing for me to do daily. For some reason God has been patient with me and has given me the strength to do this crazy event. Some day it will all make sense. To God be the glory. I am but a feeble, mortal human who is nothing without God. God has watched out for me every step of the way and has protected my very fragile life in the water and on the road. For that and many other reasons I am so grateful.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart...Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. " Hebrews 12: 1-3 & 12

One week from now I will be packing up and getting ready to head to Lake Placid. Dear Lord please grant my family and me safe travels, healthy body’s and spiritually rich souls. Lord give me Your strength on race day because it’s the only hope I have in crossing the finish line. You and I God; I want to be on your team, God. It’s all that matters; being on Your team!!!

Monday, July 2, 2012


  Today marked the end of my most strenuous training. The past 3 weeks have been my peak weeks with the highest miles. Matt H. and I biked the entire Lake Placid course which was 112 miles, we ran 20 miles. The following Sunday I biked 120 miles and Monday ran 20 miles, yesterday I biked a wicked hilly course for a total of 80 miles and ran another 20 miles this morning. Phew!! That's it!! Now I start to taper for race day. It's shocking that I am already starting to taper. Not long ago I had a year to train for this beast, now what's done is done and there is nothing more I can do. No matter what I do from here on out I will not get stronger or faster. If I'm stupid and push too hard though I could get slower and weaker. Now I have got to use my head and start to really listen to my body. This coming week-end I have only a 4 hour bike followed by only a 16 mile run planned. June 15 I plan on biking for only 3 hours and follow it by only an hour run or so. That will put me into pre-race week in which my training will really die down. If all goes as planned I will start to feel like a caged bear, full of energy and raring to go! It's a feeling that drives triathletes crazy. You want to train, get your energy out or race but you can't. You have to bottle it all up until race day. It's kind of a funny feeling. These next 3 weeks will be full of training but my big, long training days are complete!!! It feels good!!! Now I just need to focus on staying healthy, eating right, getting lots of sleep and tapering. 
  What a road it has been. Jamie and I were talking about it this morning and we both agree that this Ironman business will have to be put on hold for quite awhile since it takes so much time to train. We are both exhausted and ready for some normalcy. It's been hard this past year having to plan week-ends around my training, or having to go to bed wicked early to get up at the crack of dawn to train. We have missed out on alot of social times, trips, and other fun activities. I did my best to not affect my family too much with the training but it's impossible. When I first started writing this blog I mentioned how my goal was to train in such a way that my family was not neglected. Well, I wouldn't say they were neglected and I feel like I did my best but when you hit the last several months of training the family is affected and lots of time with the family is sacrificed in order to be on the bike for 6-7 hours or running for 3-4 hours. It all adds up quickly. Jamie has felt the stress too and is equally exhausted. 
  I had a sweet friend over the other night and it was so nice to be social. I haven't been able to hang out with her hardly at all but it was so much fun. I haven't been able to hang out with many people at all because I am either training, taking care of Tuck, taking Tuck to his activities, working, cooking, working, cleaning, working or sleeping. 
  I will never forget this year though and feel like it's kind of a peak year for me. Kiddo number 2 is planned for the very near future and then I have this feeling my body is going to fall apart. Haha!!! Actually, it's honestly a true fear of mine. I have every intention of getting back into shape after the pregnancy but not to this degree. This is it. Time will never be the same. Tuck keeps us so busy, I just can't imagine two kids yet. Wow, it's going to be busy, exhausting and yet wonderful. 
  Well, that's about all I have to say for now but I will continue to post before, during and after Lake Placid Ironman 2012. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Lake Placid Training Camp

   One month from today; GAME ON!!!! Yesterday I found out my bib number is 476. When I saw my number for the fist time I got butterflies in my tummy. I can't believe this whole thing is coming together and I will actually be doing an Ironman. I keep thinking something might happen that will put a kink in the whole thing but so far the Lord has blessed me with a great training year and a great support crew. I honestly, feel like I'm living in a dream; never thought this was going to be possible.
If all goes well, one month from this very moment I should be done with the event that I trained an entire year for. All that hard work comes down to one day. I am sure during the bike and run I will have feelings of thinking it will never end but I also know it will go by in a flash. I want to savor every minute, every stroke, every pedal, every step. Not sure when I will be able to do anther Ironman.
Even though an Ironman is not a big deal to some it is to me. Figuring out how to train, be a mommy, wife, take care of the house, work many jobs and everything else in life has been very challenging. Most people train about 18-30hours a week for the Ironman but I am lucky to get in 12 hours a week. With my limited time to train and life duties this adventure has proven to be one heck of a ride. It's my Olympic event, it's my one big chance. Jamie has made it very clear that I am not to do this again for a very long time so this is it. With that in mind it really puts extra pressure on me to make July 22 successful some how. Lots of things can happen leading up to that day and lots of things can happen on that day so I pray hard the Lord will grant me a smooth race day. There is alot at stake for us. We have invested alot of time, finances and hard work into this adventure. Ironman stuff is not a poor mans sports and we are poor. :-) So, yes, we have alot at stake. Knowing that I don't have the luxury to just do another one if this one doesn't go well really adds the pressure. Some how I have got to channel this "pressure" to work for me not against me.
I guess because so much hard work and so much support from other's is invested in this Ironman distance there seems to be alot more emotions that go along with Ironman distance races as opposed to any other distance I have done. It's a funny thing. This last month leading up to race day is not only crucial physically it's also an emotional roller coaster. I am so excited about race day, so ready for it to be here and yet part of me wants to freeze time. I don't want it to be over either. Half iron distance races and shorter I know that if I have a bad race it's okay. I can sign up for another one and try again. That's not the case with Ironman. This is my one chance. This is my one shot, at least until I'm 50 or so. Haha!!! Poor Jamie on the other hand just can't wait for this whole thing to be behind us (for his very understandable reasons). Race day will only be sweet to him but I'm afraid for me it will be very much so bitter sweet. I will be one of those athletes that crosses the finish line (assuming I cross the finish line) crying like a baby. I apologize ahead of time. :-) I have had some real amazing supporters during this whole adventure and I can't thank them enough for constantly encouraging me, giving me words of wisdom, pushing me when I didn't want to keep going, holding me back when I was overtraining, and the list goes on. I will forever be grateful to you. You know who you are!!! One month away my friends; couldn't have done it without you.
This past week was the peak training week for the Ironman. Some wonderful friends of ours invited Jamie and I to come stay with them at an apartment they rented in Lake Placid. We gratefully accepted their offer only if we could provide the food. To make the trip easier my parent's offered to watch Tucker and my brother and his beautiful gal offered to watch our puppy. So with the car packed with food, bikes, Jamie's motorcycle and lots of gear we were off to Lake Placid. We arrived in Lake Placid late but got some good sleep before the training adventures began.
We started the training with a 56 mile bike. We did the bike course once and even experienced one flat tire. My friend, Matt, unfortunately got a flat but it was very educational for me. I was sorry it was an extra expense for Matt but I was very grateful for the tutorial. Our ride was successful and was followed up by a swim. The plan was to swim the entire 2.4 mile course but we ended up swimming 3.6 miles. Matt and I didn't know where to turn around and we ended up following the rowing course. We knew something was off due to time but we went ahead and did two loops of the rowing course anyway. Hey, if we can swim 3.6 miles than surely we can swim 2.4. Haha!!! The swim felt great and it was awesome being able to follow the cord underneath the water. I hardly looked up at the buoy at all. Race day I probably won't be anywhere close to the cord but I enjoyed the luxury during practice. The rest of the day we enjoyed lounging and eating a little ice cream. That night I went to bed fairly early so my body would be rested up for the next adventure.
 The next day we were off on our 112 mile bike ride. We did the first loop under 3 hours and we felt good but I knew it was a little too fast for me. I would have to go a bit slower race day in order to have a fresh marathon. After the first loop we re-fueled and road out of town for the second loop. About 10 miles away from town on the second loop I started to feel really hot. I felt like I really didn't drink enough and I know I didn't eat enough. Something to remember on race day. Otherwise the 112 miles went very well and we felt good. I was very pleased with my bike, my saddle and my attire. After the bike ride we changed into our running shoes and did a t-run from the apartment to the lake. Matt and I quickly took our shoes off at the lake and promptly dove it. It was the best feeling!!!! The cool water felt so refreshing and helped wash away the hours and hours of salt plastered all over my legs, arms and face. Once we got home, showered and ate dinner, it was time for bed.
The next morning we geared up and headed out the door for our 20 mile run. We did one and a half loops of the running course. Some how our legs didn't feel too bad after the long bike. We were able to cover the run course without any trouble and finished feeling tired but good. Now we just have to put everything together all on the same day. Yikes!!!
This past week has given me a confidence boost. Having done the course and knowing I have covered every mile of it is comforting. I know how to pace myself a bit better, I know how to fuel a bit better and I came up with a different hydration set-up on my bike which is MUCH better. I know the course, the hills, the downhills, the flats and everything else in between. Next time I'm in Placid I just have to put it all together which is going to be a whole different beast.
There are several things I have got to practice between now and July 22. I have to practice changing my tires, repairing my tires and pumping my tires. There is nothing more that I hate then a flat tire. My hand strength is so weak and it takes me forever to get a tire on and off the rim. It's so frustrating. So, I must practice for hours how to change my tire until I can do it in minutes instead of in hours. :-) I also need to practice my transitions and figure out exactly how to work quickly and efficiently. I also need to research special needs bags and figure out what to put in them.
Jamie and I want to send out a great big thank you to Matt and Jill for making this past week possible. It was alot of fun, alot of hard work and just a great experience. We also want to thank my parents for giving Tucker an exciting, fun filled time and we thank Matt and Mariah for taking care of the puppy. It takes a crew to prep for such an event!!! Wouldn't be possible without my team!!! Thank you everyone.