Change = Growth

Change and GrowthThe person I am today is definitely not the person I was 3 years ago, not even the person I was 9 months ago, nor the person I was 6 months ago. The changes make me happy. They make me excited.

Back in November 2014 I took my first swim lesson. I was only going to learn how to swim so I could use swimming as a cross training tool during my next marathon season. I truly had no intentions of ever doing a triathlon, even though I LOVE biking and running. Swimming back and forth, back and forth in a pool seemed so boring to me. (Side note: I did find swimming very, very boring for a good 2 years.)

Slowly I dragged myself to the pool 1-2 days/ week for the next 4 months. I dreaded every swim. I never looked forward to swimming. I would have rather been running or biking. Then in March 2015 I was injured once again from running too much, too quickly and my spring marathon goals were left high and dry. Being how I always work better under some pressure and am Type A goal oriented I decided to sign up for a sprint triathlon. I was scared to death. If I survived the open water swim in Lake Michigan it would be a true miracle, and I knew without any doubt I would truly survive the bike and run portion of the triathlon.

On July 8, 2015 I stood on the shore of Lake Michigan about to begin my first triathlon. Happy news- I survived and was forever hooked on the triathlon. The swim was not easy in low 60-degree water with waves, but it was doable. The bike and run were a blast. I loved the challenge. I loved the competition. I loved the logistics needed to maneuver transitions. I immediately went home and signed up for my next triathlon just 2 weeks later.

I continued to swim, bike and run. Swimming was becoming ever so slightly more doable. April 2016 I decided that I was too comfortable in my training. I was ready and in need of a challenge. Something that made me a little scared. I signed up for my first Olympic triathlon. I continued to swim hard, bike often and run as my heart desired. After countless open water swims in June I felt confident and ready to compete in my first Olympic triathlon.

On race morning I stood staring at Lake Michigan and the big swells, praying that I could make the 1.5k swim to the pier. The race ended up not going as planned. None the less, within 15 minutes of finishing I was already planning my next race. What could I improve on? Where were my strengths? What were my weaknesses?

2015 race season ended up being extremely memorable. It will go down in history as the year that I discovered I loved triathlons more than I loved running races, and the year that I learned to embrace swimming.

All this to say that I am ready to take another leap in my training and racing. I am ready for a challenge that seems way too big to handle. I am ready for my first 70.3!

In just 20 weeks I will be in my wetsuit waiting for the horn to sound the start of my first 70.3. Am I slightly crazy? Sure. Am I so excited? YES!

Because I Wanted It

MarathonSince being sidelines from distance running, I have been dreaming of running another 1/2 marathon PR. I have been planning on how I would reach a new PR. I have been envisioning what the race would look like. I have been dreaming about crossing that finish line knowing that I had just made my goal.

When I first heard the beginning plans of the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon, I was sitting in a work meeting. I knew then, that if I didn’t have to “work” Gazelle Girl Half it was going to be my “come back” race. I then sat down at my computer and began writing my “Come Bake Half Marathon Plan”. The excitement began to rise, not only within myself and the thought of running another 1/2, but in the running community as women began coming together- supporting, encouraging and training together.

As my training got harder, nerves started to grow. Thankfully I have a large support group of fellow runners that listened to my running sagas and helped me get over the hurdles of doubt, fear and were also there for me when I had a great run. At the beginning of every speed workout I would have butterflies in my stomach- would I be able to actually run that fast? As I prepared for every long run by myself- was I mentally strong enough to run 10, 11, 12, 13 miles by myself on a treadmill? But one thing never left my heart- the goal of running a PR at Gazelle Girl Half Marathon.

As I trained over 14 weeks the thoughts of being injured always lingered. I hated that I have such a fear of being injured again, but more than that I loved that I learned how to listen to my body and knew when to rest, when to spend extra time foam rolling, that taking epsom salt baths really do make me feel better and that running makes me a better version of myself.

When race week arrived, I didn’t think I would survive taper week. Surprise, I did survive taper week. Why is it that the one week you get the least amount of exercise, you are the most hungry And why are you always the most tired on taper week? These things will remain a mystery to me, but I am happy that I made it successfully through another taper week.

Race weekend began!

We then gorged ourselves in Olive Garden. Including but not limited to lots of bread sticks dipped in Alfredo sauce, pizza, lots of salad and pasta. Lessons Learned for the future- Don’t go 5-6 hours without eating and then look at an Olive Garden menu, everything will sound delicious. Don’t order 2 meals because you can’t decide what sounds better to eat. Order the lunch portion of the pasta dish.

I was fortunate to sleep in on Saturday morning and got to walk to the start of the race to meet my fellow Gazelle Girls.

I lined up at the start line with 1999 other female runners. I put in my head phones, turned on my Gazelle Girl playlist and got into my running zone. I honestly didn’t notice too much during the race except the amazing spectators, my music and my damn watch that kept telling me that I was on pace.

I felt really, really good till about mile 11.5. It was then that I got a stinkn’ side stitch and my legs felt like lead. I saw my father for the first time right around mile 11.5 and he was able to get my coat and gloves that I had been carrying since mile 1.5. I thought I would want my coat because of the rain/snow mix, but I got way too warm.

Even at mile 11.5 I knew that I was pushing it close to my goal time. I turned the second to last corner on the course and knew that I had less than 2 minutes to make it to the finish line. I took off sprinting. I prayed that I would not throw up, because that is all I wanted to do at that point. I didn’t even have the energy to smile and raise my arms as I crossed the finish line I stopped my watch immediately and knew then that I had made my goal by at least 25 seconds! I have never been so happy to finish a race and to know that dreams do come true when you train your butt off!

We celebrated the race with drinks, food, and friends.

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