Friday, September 28, 2007

Finished


What an experience. I have so many things going through my head I don't know where to start. Immediately my deepest thanks go out to all those who sent me on this journey. Without all the generous support of letters, donations, and help for my fund raisers, and all the help I received to allow me to train for this event, THANK YOU! What a blessing!
I look back to when I first started training for this event and think about the process of healing that I have gone through during this event and I am encouraged about the future. I know that the healing process of losing Adam will likely last my lifetime, yet I feel very secure about it, after going through this race. One of the big reason for that is, because I firmly feel that when you loose yourself, the best way to find your way back is in the service of others. Being able to serve others along with Brad and John made it even more amazing.
I really went through a roller coaster of emotions during training. From excitement, to self doubt, to contentment, to determination. Those are just the one's at the fore-front. Come race day, I chose to focus, I chose to finish strong.
I had hoped for a "rock star" swim but knew that realistically, it would be just ok. I need about another year of training for my swim to be where I want it to be. Sure enough my swim was ok. We were not able to enter the water at all before the race so there is no warming up. The course was a horse shoe. In all of the other "sprint tri's" the swim has been a out and back with a constant string line of buoys. This was more typical for a bigger tri. There were single large inflated buoys spaced out about every 50 yards or so. That meant that if you didn't look up to "sight" often you would get a bit off course. I would say that I swam closer to 1.25miles that day, but I was happy with it. After I made the two left hand turns and was on the long final stretch I wanted to be done, but I was far from it. I just kept telling myself that it was the last time that I "needed" to swim for a while and tried to push myself through it. I want to swim like Brad and that will take a lot of training. He rocks!
After I got out of the water and my head stopped spinning, it was off to the bike. I was happy with the transition and was determined to crank out a solid bike.
The start was slower than I expected (about 19mph) and I had a difficult time getting any more out of it. Then some little rolling hills came up and I had a challenge about 4 miles in. I was excited to see the hills because I enjoy digging deep to conquer hills. Sure enough after the second little hill my legs woke up, and on the back side of the hill I was at 23-24mph and was able to sustain it for the next 20miles. I loved the bike. I was playing cat and mouse with some great bikers and felt great that I was able to even keep up, let alone pass on occasion. Along the way I made it a point to encourage other Team In Training bikers with a "good work Team in Training, keep it up!" It really kept me going, cheering on other TNT racers.
About mile 25 I learned a lesson. If you want to race at a certain pace (23mph) for a certain mileage (37) be sure you train at least once at that speed without stopping. Around mile 25 my body knew that it had not gone that far, at that consistent pace. My hips started to tell me "no more." Not wanting to slow, or stop, I continued to push as hard as I could, through the ever increasing pain. For the next 8 miles that pain increased until both of my hips felt like I had two hot knives digging deeper and deeper. My speed dropped to 15-18mph as I attempted to get back up to 23mph. I was resigning to the fact that it wasn't going to happen, so I attempted to adjust my positioning to make it less painful, while maintaining as much as I possibly could.
During this time a few people were able to pass me back up, and that was getting old fast. There was one gentleman in particular that I really didn't like being passed by, and so I pushed every time he got by me. He wound up being a nice guy and we gave some small talk as we traded positions. Eventually my hips just numbed a bit and I looked down and got up to 20mph. As I neared the end of the bike, I gave it all I had. As the pain increased, I focused on the red bracelet that I had written on. On it I wrote "BIKE FOR BRENDEN!" My memories of his playful laugh and his non-stop energy helped me to focus on my goal, and eventually tolerate the pain. The last 3 miles I got back to 23mph and finished strong. I was able to carry that into the run.

The run....oh the run! By this time the clouds we no longer around, just sun. Thankfully the run course was 40% shaded by trees. It's the other 60% that was the problem. I was determined to run the 6.2 mile course without walking and to help me to focus I had another bracelet on that I had written "RUN FOR ADAM." After Adam had passed I ran out of the house and I never wanted to stop. Now I could run and I was determined to have a strong run for him. I felt good and kept my legs going. I quickly noticed that about 40% of the racers were walking, and I was determined not to be one of them. I got to the first water station and dumped water on my head without stopping. I was well hydrated, no cramps. One water station at a time just keep pushing. Now the next mile and a half was all sun and it was getting to me. Later, I found out that the heat index was 105 degrees. I started to feel the tingling skelp and knew that my time would be severly longer if I fainted so I told my self to get to the next water station and walk through it and cool off. By this time about 50% of the runners were walking and I was still determined not to walk unless I felt faint. So many times I wanted to walk, and I came close many times. Yet each time I felt tempted I saw in front of me a race jersey with a picture pinned on the back of it. A picture of a father or a mother with their child whom they were running in memory of. They were still running. I had to keep running. I walked the water stations, and dumped water on my head to cool off and made sure I could keep going.
A few times my pace slowed more and more and I mentally wanted to just slow down but I kept reflecting back to a memory that I focused on when I was on the bike. When my hips were "on fire" and I didn't think I could keep my pace up in the bike. I remembered Adam at his celebration party. That day his morphine drip fanny pack came un-hooked and he was not able to wear it that night. So all night long, he did his best to smile, and laugh and give people another great memory of Adam. At one point I asked him how he was doing it, because I knew how much pain he was in, and he replied with a classic Adam smirk, "Smoke and mirrors brother, smoke and mirrors." At the end of the night, many of you may remember, he sent us all off with his patented "Pee-Wee Herman" dance to Tequila. I don't know how he did that, but he did, and he did it for everyone, he did it with a smile on his face. As I felt pain I sang it out loud, over and over, and I imagined Adam on that floor, doing his thing for everyone else. Adam was with me race day, just like every day. And he gave me that memory to get me through, what a brother!
I finished that run strong. I left it all on the course.
Our team finished strong that day. I would venture to say that we had the strongest team there. I know we showed it that day.
I could not be happier with my finish time. 3hr 15min 11sec. Tenth in my age group and about 75th overall out of about 1300 racers. I wouldn't believe it if I didn't see it my self. So to say the least I am hooked on Tri's. I love everything about it. I highly recommend it to everyone. Yes everyone.
Rewarding, in so many ways. Personally, I lost 40 pounds and am in the best shape of my life, and I was in pretty good shape in high school. Supporting little Brenden's family is worth everything to me and would do it again tomorrow, for sure. Rewarding, from a team aspect. The new friendships I now have in my team mates and the deepened relationships I have with Brad and John are invaluable. Knowing that our team of seven raised close to 30K and all the 301 TNT racers around the country raised over 1.1 million dollars, in this race alone. It goes to cancer research and family support. It is so crazy fantastic I can't put it into words. So I will just say this. Join, do it! Do whatever you can, but do something. Make a difference! Everyone will be better for it!
Make a difference!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Disney Tri Pictures

And we're back! After four months of training and a little two day vacation in the "magic kingdom," here is a quick up date and some pictures.


pre-race picture
before the startpre-swim prep
keep swimming

out of the water (finally!)

John Kinghorn on the Bike

Brad bone in transition

Me on the run.

Finished!

Angel and I with our metal's

Bijou Duck had fun cheering us on!

I will give more detail soon. It's been a long day of traveling and catching up back here. Here is the link to race results.
http://disneyworldsports.disney.go.com/dwws/en_US/endurance/events/detail?name=2007WALTDISNEYWORLDTriathlonResultsDetailPage

I finished 10th in my age group (30-35) at 3hr 15min and 11sec. I was hoping to come in somewhere around three and a half hours, so I am very happy with my finish time. I'm not sure where that is overall. There we're around 1300 finishers. I will tell you that it was hot and muggy. 105 heat index! I will share more when I can.

I cant thank you all enough for getting me there and inspiring me to push higher than I though I could have ever achieved!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

1st Annual Cornhole Tournament


Thank you to all who came and enjoyed a perfect day of food fun and fellowship at the first annual cornhole tournament. We had a perfect day of weather and some mighty tough bag tossing teams.

My deepest thanks to all who helped to make this day possible. It took a lot of work to get things ready around the house since I have not been paying much attention to the house or yard because of training for our races.

In total we had fourteen teams competing and the playing field was very tough. It all came down to Team Sells (clark and Tyler), Team Naked (Brad and I), Team Remington (Sean Pease and Wes Aldinger), and Team Ocho Cinco (Mike Terras and Alex ?). Third place was a competition between Ocho Cinco and Team Sells with team Ocho Cinco taking the prize. The final game was between Team Remington and Team Naked. Home field advantage must have come into play because the Dayton boys from Team Naked took first prize. All the games were close and super fun.
All in all we learned a lot for next years tournament, more importantly you helped to bring me closer to my goal for fundraising in my three races. In total I must raise $11,900 for all three races. After yesterday you helped me to get to $9835. Just $2065 left to go! What a blessing! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I know the final $2065 will be a challenge but it is so worth the effort. Knowing that yesterdays fun and all the hard work that went into making it happen, directly benefited cancer research and the families we are sponsoring. What an honor. What a blessing.

One week from today we will be finishing the Disney Tri. We are all excited to compete and culminate all the efforts and emotions that we have invested into this race. Below are pictures of some of my team mates and our coach that came to yesterdays tournament. Thank you for all your support!

Coach Suzanne and John Kinghorn

Team Brown Baggers Betsy and husband Shawn

Angel and his son, Angel Jr.

Brad Bone

If you are interested in helping me with the remaining $2065 feel free to log on to the link below to support the Phoenix Marathon. http://www.active.com/donate/tntmn/andrewrun

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Final Tune up

Saturday morning was our last major tune-up before the big race. Coach put together another mock tri, this time Olympic size. The only concern I had about Disney was the distance. It seemed daunting, with a mile swim at the front, and a 6.2 mile run at the end. Saturday, my concerns were diminished after completing the Olympic mock tri. The only difference between an Olympic tri, and an international one(Disney) is ten more miles on the bike, and at that point, to me, it's not that big of a deal. I have been humbled so much in the past month. I am used to being able to train how I want to train, and thus excel the way I know I can excel. Life as of late has had other ideas, and it has taught me many life lessons. The biggest humility. I am not used to not being on top, or at least competing to be on top. In the past two mock tris, I have finished third out of three with the guys both times. I want to be frustrated and blame something, granted not everything has gone well in the races for me. Yet I know there is a good reason for me not being at the top of this group. I could break down specific things that give cause, and how I could change them to be the best, yet when I fell that urge I feel that small calm voice whisper, "be still." To me that is God telling me to pay attention. So I'm paying attention. Because of it, I am seeing so much more of the whole picture of why I am doing this race. That is more rewarding. I feel that the experience of the past year is teaching me to slow down with what I want to do, because it is never supposed to be about me, or what I think I want. Pastor Dan Roelofs always conveyed that point. He was always one to pray first to know that God was leading him in whatever it was that he was doing. I am not saying at all that I am on that level but I am seeing how important it is to step back and let the experience teach you something, instead of plowing through the experience just to be on top.

I am so proud of John, and Brad, and Angel, and how they have dominated there strengths and how they have improved their weaknesses to the point that they are no longer weaknesses at all. It gives me much more joy to reflect back and see their accomplishments, both in the races and in training. We are a pretty evenly matched group in the long run, and that has made this group very special. We are just starting to bond as a team. I was a bit nervous about the race approaching so soon. Now I am extremely exited and look forward to building an even closer bond with some pretty amazing people. The race will be the race. It could be perfect, it could be a disaster. Who knows and frankly who cares. I know that my team mates will do whatever it takes to do their best. When that gun goes off, I know that we will finish strong, no matter what the obstacle. This race is not what is important. The people we are racing for, is what is important. People, those kids and their parents, Erin and Adison, my family and all the other families that have lost their sons, brothers, fathers, and husbands. That is why we are racing. Brenden, and his family, and the hope that they have that he will be 100% healthy. That is why we race. I love "Team in Training" because it is not about us.

Right now, I don't care if I finish last, as long as I give it my all and finish strong. Deep down I know I will lay it all on the line that day, and where ever that puts me is great. I thank God for the opportunity to race with this team. I thank God for our coach and all the things she has taught me mentally. Her style is completely opposite of anything I have been used to in the past. I feel privileged to be part of this team. I feel privileged to race for these kids and their families. I feel stronger, after loosing Adam, that I am giving hope to those that have a chance. I'm sure that Adam may be unhappy about the way I am doing some things, but I know he is proud of this. I know he will be pushing me Sep. 23. I miss him so much.

I have been working around the house a lot this past week to get ready for the big "cornhole tournament" and today I realized just how much I miss him. more and more every day. He was always here when I had projects going on. And I was always over there when he has projects going on. I have a lot of projects....I don't have Adam anymore. Not as much gets done when you loose your other half. I just realized that tonight. Typically I could have gotten all this done in time. I'm not so sure about this time, but that's all right. Not everything has to be just the way I want it. In the future I now know to double the time.

It's all good. I have so much to be thankful for, so much support and so much to look forward to. God has great things planned for us and we will do our best to follow that lead.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

On the Train Again!

Boy, oh boy, it feels good to be training regularly again. I really notice the loss of where we were at, but I am excited to be back and it won't be long before we are above and beyond, ready for the race.
Monday, after I felt caught up enough around the yard (thanks to grandpa eno, janet) I went off for a run in the peak heat to prepare for the heat of Florida. So my idea was to run at my strongest steady pace for a full six miles. Those six miles are filled with 60% hills and the heat form the pavement got to me at mile four. I broke down and had to walk for 100 yards. I felt a bit faint and had no phone, so I took no chances. After I felt well enough to go I had a fantastic break-through. I found a quick pace for me with a two step breathing pattern that I can hold during my run. I was exhausted and yet I was able to really cook with my new pace and breathing rhythm. I know it sounds goofy, but it was a great moment. I have found similar things with my swim and am really getting excited to put them all together.
Brad and I went out for some hill and speed work tonight on our bikes. We took just a 14 mile loop, but we focused on short, and long bursts of speed. Then combined that with a pretty challenging hill....twice. I was crazy fun to push each other.
This Sat. at 8am we will be doing our final mock tri at lake Nicomas. It is a Olympic tri ( one mile swim/26mi bike/6mi run) Our coach is expecting us to really put things together and lay it down on the course. I really feel like I will do much better this time. Less stress, more sleep, I'm eating better, and I have been able to train this week. The big day is approaching soon and I am really getting excited.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Catch-Up Anyone?

Thank God for labor day weekend! Every day since my last post I have wanted to sit down and record the day's events, but that just was not going to happen. The short story is as follows.

Super busy at work / Longer days.
My three extra jobs that were supposed to be spread out over the summer all happened over the past three weeks.
Baby has had a double ear infection for over a week now.
Two fantasy football drafts.
Trying to put together and organize my fundraising stuff for three races. Thank you notes, new fundraising letters, re-send fundraising letters, create "first annual corn hole tournament."
Making six sets of new corn hole boards.
Race in "mock tri" the same distance as Waupaca race without having training.

So, today I am most thankful for the people in this picture. I'm not sure how I have been carrying this pace for this long now. I know it has a lot to do with all the amazing support I have received from so many people. Epically Janet, Mom and Dad.

Often I ask myself if this is all worth it. And, right now, I really think it is. I know myself, and I have never been very good when I have a lot of free time. Granted, lately it's been ridiculous. Yet more than anything, I know that the reasons that I am doing too much is to help others. I really feel that God has been showing me more about myself lately because I am doing it all to serve others. The big negative to it all is a major lack of time with my own family. But more and more we are doing stuff together to get things done.

So my race training has been non existent since the Waupaca race. This was very evident at the mock tri that our coach put on two Saturdays ago. I didn't feel good that morning. It was a simple half mile swim. 17 mile bike and three mile run. It was around lake Nicomas so coach told us how many laps to swim around the buoys and how many laps around the lake. Funny part was the five laps around the buoys for the swim ended up being closer to a mile. Now normally that is fine, everyone else has to do it and it's not like I haven't swim a mile before. But coming off the week I had with work and the lack of traing and sleep and just plain old not feeling good, it mattered. A few times during the swim I considered quitting. But before the race started someone very important showed up. Brenden and his mom came to watch the team race. As many of you know Brenden is our honored teammate, he and his family have had a super busy summer and have not had time to show up to team events. My morning started to turn around when they showed up. I really did not want to race that morning, but after I saw them I knew I could. As I struggled to keep going in the swim I knew I could not quit because on that beach was the reason I am doing all this. He had no idea, but that morning he was the only reason I finished that race. Brad lapped me on the swim, John was out of the water over five minutes before me and I never saw them again. My bike was average at best and my run never really had much too it. But I finished for that happy little boy cheering us on. I am racing to cheer him on and that day he showed up to cheer us on. There is no quitting! So many people I talk to say they could never do a tri. The only reason they can't is because they just told themselves they can't.

So Labor day weekend has been a God-send! I have been catching up! All my side jobs are caught up till after the Disney race. The corn hole boards are half done. My fundraising stuff is organized for the first time. I made my goal for the Disney race and can focus on the other two race goals. I started training again. Last Wed. we had a punishing run with speed work, hills, and stairs. Saturday I swam a mile, and it was my best swim yet. Sunday I biked with John 28 miles with speed work and hills and then we swam a half mile, and again, my best swim yet. I really feel my swim coming together. It has needed a lot of work. Everything else will come together now that I am able to train again.

Now we just have to get little Bijou over her ear infection.