Yep I disappeared!

I was gearing up for Bike MS 2017 and talking about not wanting to be on my bike and that’s the last you heard from me.  At least on here!  I would think of blog posts I wanted to write, even kept a list of them and would never slow down long enough to type them out.  I’ve been thinking for a little bit on how do I come back to writing on my blog (again) and never had anything strike me.

Then the other day, I realized, I may have needed a minute to myself.  I’ve had a few struggles with my weight creeping up a little and really not liking running.  It was so bad that I didn’t even run for months and I didn’t miss it at all.  So I believe I had a few things to work out on my own and then when I felt compelled to come back and write it up then it would be time.  So here I am! Be prepared for some picture overload and over a year of updates.  You will get it all.

 

When we last talked, I did not want to ride my bike.  I even contemplated not showing up to Bike MS Atlanta 2017 even though I had raised all the money required.  I then saw it was selfish.  Just go, be present and show up.  I had the best weekend.  I joined up with a former coworker and said we would ride together.  Never did I realize I would be her bike angel.

 

I started with my group and then waited for her and the split for the 35 mile ride and the 60 mile ride.  I stood there for something like 15 minutes or so before she came up.  I quickly found out that she did all her training on flat routes like the Silver Comet Trail and Lagrange is not flat, at all!!  So I spent the next several hours teaching her how to ride hills, change gears and be more efficient.  Some hills were better than others but she wasn’t walking up all of them, only some of them.  I took pictures, we laughed and we had a great time.  Doesn’t matter that it took me 4+ hours to ride 35 miles.  What matters is that I lived up to my word and didn’t leaver her and taught her so much.  I also taught most of the Piedmont Hospital team how to use their bikes too.  LOL  It seems I was supposed to be there and because it was no longer about me, I had a wonderful time.

 

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and teaches you so much more than you expected.  The second day I got to spend it with a teammate and overall just had a great time riding together, so much so that we were room mates this year.

So there in short, is the race report from a year ago!  Sorry!!!

What did I do after that?  Well, I started a new job, became an ambassador for Nuun, stayed sick for most of December through February and still managed to get in a successful half marathon and my first DNF (did not finish).

New job you say?  Yes, but not as you think.  Yes I’m an engineer, I’ve been an environmental engineer for my entire professional career until recently.   I am now a preschool gymnastics teacher.  I had been looking for a part-time position so that I can still be home with my boys and handle my husbands crazy work schedule.  By accident, I saw a facebook post from a local company that he was looking for part-time employees.  This company has been around my area for over 20 years and both my boys took gymnastics from him.  After the most non-traditional interview and a job offer over text messages, I then had a new job.  I teach 2-5 yr olds a short gymnastics class at local day care centers.  It’s fun, non-stressful, entertaining, and I am home in time for my boys to get off the bus.  It’s a win in all directions.

With the new job, came lots of little germs.  I teach little petri dishes of germs all morning long.    No matter how much hand sanitizer I use, I still found the germs.  But I managed to scrape out a half marathon in January despite being sick.  I tried the year before to run the Red Nose Half Marathon in Columbus, GA.  It’s a free race, yep that’s what I said, that you run through Columbus and down by the Chattahoochee River.  Last year we got hit with an ice storm and I couldn’t leave my neighborhood.  I truly thought about bailing this year but decided to carpool down with two friends and we had a great time.  It was so cold like way down in the 20’s but we did it.  It was one of my slowest half marathons since I started running them, but unlike my first where I fell apart at mile 6 and had to be put back together by my friend, I stayed positive and just kept moving.  I knew I wasn’t trained to the level I wanted but I knew I could finish the distance.  Just keep moving!

Yes we look like we were robbing a bank.  Makes me laugh every time I see that picture.

What is a brand ambassador? You caught that right!  Company’s are always looking for ways to get their name and product out to more people besides just straight advertising.  A number of companies especially in the fitness industry have started using ambassadors.  They open up the application process once a year towards the end of the year (a number of them are taking applications now) and then in December/January they select who their next year’s ambassadors will be.  What does that get me?  I get a great discount to buy the product I already use, discount codes to share with my friends & family, fun cool gear that is only available to ambassadors and all I have to do is post on social media about the product.  Be a positive voice and share with friends.  That’s it!

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It’s been a fun year so far being a Nuun Ambassador and hope that I can continue it.  I applied to several other companies that I use their gear or products, so fingers crossed I get chosen by a couple more.  That would be fun for next year.

Alright – the DNF.  It finally had to happen, it was bound to with as many years as I have been racing.  I just hope the next one doesn’t ever come or it’s a long way off.

Since last summer, my running has been off.  It’s just seemed to get harder to run the same distances and routes that I normally do and wasn’t getting any better even with the more miles.  Fast forward to finally getting well after being constantly sick, I started training for the Teardrop Half Marathon.  It would be the 4th time I have run it and I’ve ran every year the race has been in existence.  I’ve convinced multiple friends to run the half or now the 10k.  The 10k will make you hurt almost as much as the half marathon.  Running down a mountain does different things to your body than a normal half.  My friend Angie tagged along with my long runs where we just tried not to get lost.  We wandered through Peachtree City so that I could get a net downhill run.  In other words start at a higher elevation than what we finish at so that I can simulate as best I can my race conditions.

I have some of the best friends that are willing to tag along for my adventures.  On my final 12 mile run, I had more friends that came with us.  Made for a great day when you are surrounded by your best running friends.

I was ready, the miles were run and I was all set for my 4th Teardrop half marathon.  I believe this was going to be my 9th (I think???) half marathon.  Yeah at one point I said I would never run one and now look at me.

Race weekend finally was here and I had two friends ride up with me.  We met up with the big group and had a great dinner.  Everyone was excited for the upcoming race and you of course freak out a little when you actually see the mountain you are going to run down.  We met up and the bottom of the mountain and snapped some pictures before those of us running the half hopped on the shuttle buses.

It was not my day. I have my first DNF, my morning routine was the same as for all my half marathons. I got the the start line and felt good. By about mile 4, I felt more tired than I thought I should so I made sure to eat more fuel to keep up my strength. By mile 6, my legs were weak and I felt dizzy. At that point I wasn’t sure if I would get down the mountain safely and much less in the time limit. I had been talking myself out of stopping for 2 miles but when the dizziness hit I knew I had to stop for my safety. So I did the thing I have never had to do in a race and that was walk off. I was picked up by one of the trailing police cars. He was super nice and we of course talked the rest of the way down. I am fine, I don’t know why this happened (it happened to me multiple years ago at a bike ms event). So I’m safe, I’m ok besides the headache and I will race again. But I am of course disappointed. So I have the shirt, no pretty medal but I have myself home and not injured so that is the win. I loved that I was surrounded by my friends. You all are the bomb for concurring the mountain. You all will walk funny for a week.  

It was tough.  I have only ever felt that dizzy once before on my two day bike events.  That time it was much hotter and I believe that is why I felt bad then.   For this race, I have no idea.  Everything was normal coming up to the race.  So I don’t know.  But after coming home, I did not want to run.  Like at all.  That was the last weekend in April.  I decided that all those feelings were allowed and it was ok.  Instead I started swimming more than I have in several years.  I would be at the pool 2-3 times a week and it was good for me.

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Since I started racing in triathlons, I have always been a consistent and fairly strong swimmer.  Speed was always respectable but never fast.  I would swim with friends and coaches and slowly we would tweak, update and improve my form.  I have always been the most comfortable in the water.  That comes from me growing up always in the water and I swam in a swim team from 5th grade until my senior year of high school.  So since I was in the water so much, I had plenty of opportunities to work on my stroke.  It’s like all the pieces finally came together and the speed just came.  I went from an average 100 yard time of 2:15 minutes to hitting 1:39 minutes for 100 yards.  It all clicked together and felt amazing.  Now as it’s fall, I’m not in the water as much but I can still keep my average pace for the whole workout below 2 mins for 100 yards.  I’m thrilled.  Refine the swim stroke and the speed will come.  I promise and be a little patient too.

I let myself have some time away from running. As it got closer to the summer, I did decide I wanted to race in some triathlons.  I was easily convinced to go race with a friend at her first triathlon.  We had so much fun and I’m super proud of her.  I got to see friends and meet new ones.

At the Callaway Gardens Sprint triathlon, the swim for me was frustrating because people kept getting in my way.  Even though I was killing it in the pool, I was mad in this lake swim.  Got out and headed out on the bike.  The bike was fun, not as fast as previous years, but it was consistent and I had a great time.  The run was a slow slog but I kept moving and talked with everyone I found on the course with me.  Made me smile. I came into the finish smiling and then waited for my friend to finish.

Scoot ahead to August and I decided to race again at the Peach Women’s Triathlon.  I’ve raced there before in 2015.  The swim is in Lake Allatoona and it’s a beautiful lake.  The bike ride is hilly but fun.  The run is lots of hills.  It goes up and down the entire 3 miles.  I knew the run was not going to be pretty but I pushed through.  I had multiple friends racing and it was so much fun seeing them all.

I love helping people be the best they can.  I just naturally do this.  While at my vet’s office with our dog (Agnes for her yearly checkup) I was talking with a friend that is a vet tech and she said that she was racing with one of the vet’s.  I got to meet Dr. Britton.  It was her first triathlon and the swim part had her so nervous.  Her husband took the picture of us lined up waiting to start.  I love this picture.

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This is what it’s all about.  I gave her a pre swim pep talk and stood next to her until the gun went off.  It was the best part of my day.  Being with friends, making new ones and helping each other.

Ok, one last triathlon for the season before I started really ramping up training for Bike MS Atlanta 2018.  I raced in the Tri-PTC Triathlon at Lake McIntosh in Peachtree City.  It’s run by my triathlon club so I got there extra early to help with parking.  I arrived at 4:45 am.  I was all alone in transition and had one of the only bikes there before everyone started arriving.  I set up and then went off to help with parking.  I was the friendly parking attendant until I needed to go line up and race.  Racing in a local event is so much fun for me.  I see my friends volunteering and racing.  I get my name yelled through out the entire race and lots of high fives or hugs.  Makes this just an overall wonderful event for me.

The swim was fun and short.  The bike is pretty flat and I went as fast as I could.  The run I knew would be tough because of several big hills.  I ran as much as I could and just kept moving.  Was very pleased with my overall time and how I felt all morning.  To top it off, I placed in my division.  3rd Place Athena.  Made it even more special.

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My final big event for the year was me returning to Bike MS again for the 6th year.  It was out of Lagrange, Georgia again and I decided I wanted to complete the 65 mile route on Saturday and the 35 mile route on Sunday.  It would be the longest cumulative amount of miles I would have ever rode.  My total ended up being 101.4 miles for the weekend.  I started ramping up my training after my last triathlon.  Slowly increasing my long ride miles and throwing in a short ride when I could here and there.  I knew I needed to get to at least 60 miles to not be absolutely miserable in the last stretch.  It was still hard but I know that getting to the higher miles helps me in the long run.  Watching the weather, I saw that it was going to be hot.  I came with cooling sleeves, salt tablets, lot of Nuun tablets and snacks for the ride.  I had to be smart and keep my fluids up so I didn’t end up dehydrated.  The temperatures were to be in the mid 90’s with a heat index of the upper 90’s.

My plan was to empty at least one of my 25 oz water bottles before I get to the next rest stop.  There are rest stops every 10-15 miles along the course that are stocked with water, snacks, bathrooms, bike mechanics, first aid and whatever else they set up.  I downed 28 oz before the ride started and then drank 25 oz probably every hour.  I finished over 175 oz while on the course.  I was covered in salt on my sleeves and cycling shorts.  It got me to the finish line.  Once I stopped moving, I was hot and nauseous.  My heart rate stayed in the 90’s even after laying down for a while.  So I spent about an hour laying on the ground with my feet up until I could cool down.  My blood pressure runs really low anyway and with this long stress of a day, my body was protesting a little.  But once I cooled down and rested I was able to go back to my hotel and clean up.  I climbed in bed on the cool sheets.  Finally I started to feel more normal and my resting heart rate was back in the 70’s at least.  My normal is in the 50’s.  I did have a headache so I got some caffeine (coffee and later cokes) and some dinner.  After that I felt normal and just very tired from my long day.

Day 2 started out cooler and I had fun riding with friends (new and existing) for the day.  I stayed with a teammate that this was her first ride.  We talked about changing gears, how to ride hills and just anything else we could think of.  Yes there is a pattern that I help newer riders learn how to be better.

Yes I had another great year riding.  Yes there is a story with the pink socks.  At my very first Bike MS ride I wore my pink tie-dyed calf sleeves to help try and keep my legs a little fresher and recover better from so many miles.  That year I had people hollering at me saying nice socks, hey pink socks, etc.  I even found another female rider wearing pink sleeves too.  We see each other each year and yell pink socks at each other. The second year I brought my sleeves but wasn’t sure if I was going to wear them or not until a friend came up and asked if I had my pink socks with me.  So that settled it, I would have to wear my pink socks every year.  Fast forward to year 4 and my poor pink calf sleeves were not longer providing any compression benefits because they were just worn out.  I decided to wear my black compression socks that I purchased and love especially after hard half marathons when my feet swell.  That year I got fussed at for wearing the wrong socks.  Cracked me up that people were getting all worked up about my black socks and I had the wrong color on.  For year 5 I made sure I had pink socks on again and all was right in the world.  For christmas last year I put these bright pink breast cancer socks on my christmas list and my husband got me 2 pairs.  I have a dear friend that is a breast cancer survivor.  I now wear these socks for her and to keep the masses happy at Bike MS.  I will forever wear pink socks when I am at Bike MS.

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Last thing – running!

After not liking running at all and just feeling frustrated with my slowing pace, I backed off and let myself not worry about it for a while.  Then I started running just 1 mile.  I would keep my heart rate down low in zone 2.  The pace doesn’t matter it’s about slow and steady.  Just focus on my heart rate.  I slowly saw some improvements in my pace and endurance.  Then of course I got sick with strep throat at the beginning of school.  Remember all the germs I teach every morning, yeah they got me sick again.  But I would just stick with my 1 mile runs a couple times a week.  I did get a nasty bug, probably bronchitis or something similar 2 weeks before my last triathlon.   I was feeling ok before the race but decided not to push the swim since my cough has been so bad.  Just kept it easy so I would’t be gasping for breath.  Oh and my nurse practitioner that saw me when I was sick was volunteering at the race and knew that I was racing.  Promise I did everything she asked.  Now that it’s getting cooler, I’m trying to push the distance a bit and the pace.  Trying to up the speed and slowly increase the distance and endurance.  So hopefully (not by chance, working with my friend who is a coach a little) I can see the improvements I want and overall feel better about my running.

That’s where I am as of right now.   You all are officially all caught up and even have mini race reports for all my races.  Yeah I know I need to do better about blogging on a regular basis and not fall off the face of the earth as often as I do, but I also know that life gets busy with two boys.  My schedule is usually a little nuts between everything that I do and then add in their activities (soccer mostly).  But know that I am trying to be a little better than I was the day before.  That applies to food, exercise, how I treat myself, my family and friends.  Please be kind to yourself.  Always try to do a little better that next minute, hour, day, week it doesn’t matter.  You can always start fresh the very next minute.  That’s how I am working on my diet and to get off the pounds that crept on.

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