Ninja 5k

21 10 2014

585px-Ninja-kanji.svgHow cool is that, to be part of a Ninja race?!  Right?!!

Because on my own?

ZERO ninja skillz.

ZERO ninja skillz.

But with friends??

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HIIIII-YAAAAAH!

A friend of mine found the most awesome virtual race medal from US Road Running:

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As soon as I saw it, I knew what needed to be done.

Time to assemble the Cole and the gang ninjas.

Time to assemble the Cole and the gang ninjas.

We all ordered our medals and set the date: Sunday, October 19, 2014 at 3:00pm; the day to unleash our inner ninja at the Oregon High School track.

Oh, we would surely bring it.

The race began at the official blast from the captain’s pistol…

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and we were off!!10731070_10205489905589947_6293268431865009683_n

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There were some MAD ninja skillz, I tell you!

This 5k was to be 12 laps around the track.

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Thankfully we had a cheering section to help count our many, many laps…

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But boy, the stealth, speed, acrobatic prowess, power and shadow skills displayed during the race…  #breathtaking

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Ok, so some were better than others.  Shhhhh.

But even our official photographers and cheerleaders couldn’t handle the pressure and gave in to the power of the highly trained Shinobi…

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And yes, to put the myth to rest…

Ninjas truly can hover for hours.

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And there was absolutely no funny business going on during this race.  These ninjas are elite fighting machines.  True professionals…

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Yes. Even when that little grasshopper was kicking my butt!

Shhhh.  You see nothing.

Shhhh. You see nothing.

But our 3 mile covert purposes quickly came to a close

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and we ninjas received our reward…

RACEBLING!!

906702_10205487931020584_5207973553064419027_o10671451_10205488022222864_708959176108411343_n10679747_10205487933540647_8349823694404430655_o10701990_10205487924340417_6331250882903410086_n10708680_10205487927580498_8043829165052886962_o10714344_10205487923100386_804592725287566906_oAnd this is no ordinary race bling.  This sucker not only has a deadly 8-point Shuriken on it but it freakin’ SPINS!!

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Shuriken (aka: throwing star)

What a fun race…ok, the running part wasn’t, actually, all that fun…but spending time with my friends who are crazy enough to dress up to do this 5k with me?

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#totallyworthit

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respect the ninja.

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Do you have a team?

21 10 2014

As I watched Biggest Loser this morning…yes, I know it’s on NBC on Thursday nights, but I have found that it is far better for me to record it and watch it as I run on the treadmill…not only as a distraction from what I’m doing on said treadmill, but also so that I don’t feel guilty watching it on Thursday night as I sit on my couch, eating.

2006-235-the-biggest-loserBut I digress.

One of the contestants, Gina, mentioned that being part of a team is special and that she hasn’t felt that way since being an adult.

Her comment made me think.  Who doesn’t have a team?

You know, the people in your life that have your back, are willing to go the distance with you (figuratively or in my case many times, literally!), the ones that you go to when you’re down, you need to talk or vent…or when you find a crazy race that you just don’t want to do alone.

Do you have that?

I do, and I obviously take it for granted.

Gina is right, having a team is special.  Especially when you ask that team to do something crazy and they respond with “what color tutu?”

That’s awesome.

So I want to thank my team… my posse, the crazies willing to push themselves and me and also make fools of themselves in public for me… and a little race bling.  Because without them I don’t know what I would do!!

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God sure knows what He’s doing!  I love you guys!!

 

 





Why would anyone do the Tough Mudder twice?!

17 10 2014

This year was a big racing year for me.  I totally pumped up my race venues…that is, I did more than just the average 5k.  Any other year, you would find me running 5 or 10k races; color runs, mud runs, glow runs and even a triathlon once in a while.  But this year I ramped it up… not only did I participate in my regular fun runs and even virtual runs, but I also did two triathlons: the Pewaukee and IronGirl, a Burpee 5k as well as the Tough Mudder!

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Oh, it was far from worst…

So what else do I have left to do, you might ask??

Why, another Tough Mudder of course!!

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Yes, the Tough Mudder Wisconsin was challenging.  But we had such a great time that my friend Julie and I decided, very last minute, we wanted to take it on again.  So we looked at surrounding states to see if there was another one coming up and…

Wallah!

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And with Julie’s Mom living it St. Louis, just an hour and a half from the race site, we started making plans for a girl’s weekend in Missouri!!  WooHoo!  (Thankfully we volunteered both in 2013 and 2014 so we were able to run the Tough Mudder at $40 instead of the last minute price of nearly $200!!)  YIKES!!

This time around I decided I wanted to train a little more.  So with it being a month out, I decided to take on Beachbody’s Insanity workout and work on my upper body strength and endurance. The weekend arrived in no time and although I felt physically ready to take on Tough Mudder Missouri…I was not so mentally prepared.

There were several obstacles we had to face in Wisconsin that we just really didn’t want to do again.

For Julie it was  Walk the Plank: a very, very high 12′ jump into a 15′ deep very cold water pit

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And me?  Pyramid Scheme:  a slippery wall you have to climb using only the shoulders of your comrades beneath you and strong arms of those above you.

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But this was a new course…new obstacles…a new race and we were ready!!

We planned well for this race, got our training in (well Julie did what she could with her bum shoulder) but we made sure to hydrate well, took a last minute before pic and headed out.

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Cole & Julie ready to take on another Mudder!!

Unfortunately what we didn’t plan well for was the hour and a half drive as well as the additional half hour wait to get into the parking lot because of the crowd, and the muddy field conditions, and no potty in sight!  Needless to say, we did all we could to hold things in and not have to find relief along the roadside as we inched our way to get parked!!

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WHERE THE HECK IS THE POTTY?!!

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Whew! 1st obstacle TOTALLY CONQUERED!!

We got our race bibs attached, got our last minute pictures, dropped off our race bag, tightened our laces, peeked at the race map and got ready to start!

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Tough Mudder Missouri?  BRING IT.

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The run started off pretty normal, except that the temperature at our start time was nearly 54 degrees…a tad bit cooler than when we ran it in Wisconsin.  Plus it had been raining in Missouri the week leading up to this race so the hilly terrain of Montgomery City was quite wet and muddy…

2014-10-11 17.51.00 and very difficult to run in!

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It didn’t take very long before we were SO DONE with running in this slop, but we carried on.

Our first obstacle was the CREEK CRUSADE.  Unlike the steep hills of Wisconsin, Missouri had rolling hills and a creek that ran throughout the Tough Mudder terraine.  The race planners used the creek well, running us through a shallow and windy creek bed for probably a good 1/2 mile!

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obviously causing frozen toes and the wrong kind of arch supports in our shoes!

Once out of the creek bed we came across DEVILS BEARD… a heavy cargo net fastened to the ground that you had to maneuver your way through…

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many a race bib never found it to the finish line because of this obstacle!!

and on to the WARRIOR CARRY: carry your partner the way the Wounded Warriors were carried by their comrades in battle.  Walk part way…

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while trying to keep your shoes on!!

and switch half way through…

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EVEREST, a quarter-pike wall you run up to the outstretched hands of those who help pull you to the top, was very early on in the Missouri course.  I was so excited about taking on Everest again…it was one I feared going into Tough Mudder Wisconsin but quickly became one of my favorite obstacles.

Until right now.

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welcome to Everest, Missouri style.

The walls of Everest were caked with mud and as we approached the volunteers warned that over 90% of people who tried to conquer Everest the traditional way, failed.

So instead?  Welcome to PYRAMID SCHEME:

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Crap.

You have no idea how excited I was that Pyramid Scheme was NOT on the map of obstacles for Missouri.  😦  Thankfully we were surrounded by lots and lots of gracious mudders who sacrificially let us climb up them to the top.  I did NOT have to break out my old school cheerleading moves and be at the bottom of the pyramid this time ’round!!

U-RAH-RAH- M-I-S-S-O-U-R-I!!

We trudged on to BERLIN WALLS: 2 10′ walls to scale up.  We took this on in Wisconsin but the problem this time around was, again, the flippin’ mud.  Everything was wet and slick and not as easy to use the beam supports to (cheat) our way to the top!!  Thankfully, there were many offering a helpful boost up.

We had traveled about 3 miles by now and our legs and ankles were really feeling it!!

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The only good thing about the run was the fact that, because we were running on Saturday (the most highly participated day of the Tough Mudder weekend) there were lots of people and therefore lots of standing around time at each obstacle.  Great on this tired ‘ole body but rough on your course time!!

We carried on to JUMPIN’ BALE where this time through we pulled our way through tubes beneath the pile of hay bales…11457615_race_0.3365945832568197.display

and on to Julie’s nemesis… WALK THE PLANK.

This obstacle was no different than in Wisconsin.  HOWEVER, the water we jumped into was so cold this time that it took your breath away, much like the Arctic Enema we would soon be facing.  We couldn’t get to the surface or swim through the 40′ pool to the edge to get out fast enough!!

We continued through the slop to BALLS TO THE WALL – 10′ walls to scale with toe holds and rope to help you over:

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After yet another wait to conquer this obstacle, we were over it quickly and on to the PRAIRIE DOG – another tube to crawl through and into shallow water on the other side.

We arrived at the MUDDER WHEEL BARROW where because of Julie’s shoulder, she took my feet and I walked through this slop on my hands. 2014-10-11 17.50.16

It is at this time that I would like to personally thank Shaun T and the Insanity workout for building my shoulder and arm strength to help me easily walk on my hands.  The problem was when the girl in front of me couldn’t take more than a step or two on her hands, in which because she would stop, I was forced to as well because I couldn’t get around her!!

Not.Ok.

I eventually gave up, got back on my feet and Julie and I carried on.

We came upon the POLE DANCER – angled parallel bars that you use only your hands to walk across…

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Yeah.  Um.  I totally cheated on this.  I tried, I really did, but that didn’t last more than one stinkin’ step with my hands.  So I heard someone say “use your feet!”  And so…well, I did.  I flipped my legs onto the bars and pulled my way through it.

Hey.  Whatever it takes to get’er done!!  😉

At this point we’re a good 6 miles into it and into the CREEK CRUSADE once again.

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I very much enjoyed this part of the terrain.  It was quite beautiful and unique!!

Next was the one I was ready and looking forward to… FUNKY MONKEY – the steep, angled, monkey bars!!

At Tough Mudder Wisconsin I killed this obstacle and I was so excited to take it on again… until I noticed how few people were actually getting through it!!  The bars were wet not only from the weather but also from the splashes of the fallen comrades who attempted the Monkey.

But that didn’t discourage me!  I did it once before, I can do it again… I got about 6 rungs into it and…

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Yup. This was my attempt.

I shook off a little of my broken pride, swam through the, again, FREEZING water… pulled myself out of my pool of monkey failure and traveled through MORE MUD to the MUD MILE.

Which, what exactly was it called that we had been running through to get to this point?!!

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oh yeah! MUD!!

But we got through the waist deep mud pits and shoulder high mud hills and psyched ourselves up for…

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All I can say is thankfully our wave was at the end of the day and they had stopped filling the tubs with ice. Do not get me wrong, it was still AWFUL COLD!!10689827_10205453469999080_1278353869294770071_n

Brrrr!  Much like the rest of the day… but we got ‘er done and met JUMPIN’ BALE once again… but this time we were to go over the piled hay bales:11458788_race_0.26394368854239236.display

and then jump across several more rows of hay bales… that was fun.  🙂11461193_race_0.7958201362476771.display

Onto the GLORY BLADES – inverted walls to climb over:

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and then more mud at the MUD SLIDE – similar to the mud mile but a couple higher mud hills that we got over easily.  But at this point we were so done with the mud and this race that we were really pretty ready for it to be over.  Thankfully we hit the 10 mile marker and could see the LEGIONNAIRE’S LOOP – Mudder Legion ONLY obstacles!!

This is why we came.  To take on the infamous Legionnaire only obstacle: FIRE IN YOUR HOLE:

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However, before we could get to that we had to have own own Legionnaire ELECTROSHOCK THERAPY session… in which we just trudged forth and went through…

WITHOUT A SHOCK, I might add!!

OHHH YEEEAAAHH!

And then we climbed our way up to the top of FIRE IN YOUR HOLE, made our way to the nearly vertical water slide drop…feeling the heat of the fire as we stood looking down into what might be the most awesome obstacle ever created!!!

Julie and I took our places as Legionnaires and together dropped into the pool below.

It. Was. AWESOME!

We could see the end as we headed toward ELECTROSHOCK THERAPY…

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and strategically planned our way through…

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and our expertise worked!! Not one shock between the two of us!!10478943_10205453470279087_7084583206017985663_n

 

 

WE DID IT!!  We finished another Tough Mudder!!

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Oh yeah! We are ALL THAT!! #beast

We couldn’t go fast enough to the ‘showers’ …

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sadly, the water felt almost warm because we were so cold when we were finished!!

and to change… especially when we realized it was 5:30pm!  It had taken us nearly 5 hours to complete this course!!

But we did it, and yes it was hard…and had we done this one first?!  We may not have…no, we wouldn’t have… done another one so soon.  😉

BUT!  We are Legionnaires and now have the headbands to show for it!!

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2X Tough Mudders, baby!!

 

Related Articles:
Tough Mudder Wisconsin

 

 

 





For the Troops! – Virtual 5k

14 10 2014

I am one who does a lot of searching online for races.  And they don’t have to be all running races either…in fact, I’d prefer it to be one that’s fun or challenging.  I like races that are different and exciting and most of all (if you know me even a little bit) I am motivated particularly by what a race has to offer… it’s the race swag or specifically it’s race bling that really gets me going.

But I have found so often that I run across a race that I would love to be part of but it’s not held in my area or it doesn’t work with my schedule or, more often than not, my bank account.

When I ran across the Full Medal Runs website I knew I had found something I wanted to be a part of.  Full Medal Runs is a site that offers people a way to run a 5k, 10k, 1/2 or full marathon in their own time, at their own pace and in their own location.

But it was when I saw the Full Medal Runs Bling, that I was hooked.  It was when I saw their “Don’t Mess With My Tutu” medal…

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I knew this site was special.  I had never seen a tutu medal or even a race dedicated to tutu’s before…and that’s what Cole & the gang is all about!!  Helping make running races more fun by dressing up in tutu’s, stache’s, lashes, whatever!!  So I was hooked!!

But then I saw the sweet “I Took the Oath” medal…

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Oh man, I desperately wished I was able to earn that one… but I didn’t serve in the military.

Boo.

But wait… they have a “For Those Who Serve” medal?!!

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One for people like me who are a child of… a friend of… a mother of… a neighbor to… a person who once sat on a bus next to… a service man/woman?

OH I AM IN!!

It was at that point that I was hooked and this was definitely going to be a long-standing relationship with Full Medal Runs.

My friend Heidi, who served over 20 years and retired from the US Air Force, also saw those medals and we made a pact that we would order them and run another virtual 5k together.

The problem was…

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Yup, you got it.  No money.

I run lots of local races, and the cost for a virtual race is very similar to that of a local race, so I had to continually put off the Full Medal Runs purchase for months and months.

Poor Heidi had ordered her “I Took the Oath” medal right away and was just sitting and staring at the beautiful thing until I was able to order mine, and I honestly didn’t know when that would be.

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Then couple weeks ago I got an email with a “For Those Who Serve” bib attached.  You see, when you sign up for a Full Medal Runs virtual race, you not only receive a super amazing medal, but a personalized race bib to print out and wear while you race.  And for me?  Besides the race bling, the race bib is sort of a big deal!

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my race bib wall of fame

And then when I opened the mailbox and in it was a package with my “For Those Who Serve” race bling…

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I knew what had taken place.

Full Medal Runs provides a way to “Pay It Forward” by allowing people to purchase a medal in order to sponsor a runner… and that’s exactly what happened to me!  A purchase was made in my name for a “For Those Who Served” medal and then that medal was sent to me along with the race bib!!

I was SO STOKED, I couldn’t believe it!!

And although Full Medal Runs is not able to disclose the identity of the sponsor, I had a pretty good idea who it was anyway… (I think she just got tired of waiting)

THANK YOU, HEIDI!!

So I literally opened the package on Wednesday, called Heidi to see when she was free to run, secured our race photographers and cheerleaders,

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Photographer: EJ, Cheerleaders: Becca & BethAnne

and planned the For Our Troops 5k:  “I Took an Oath” for Heidi & “For Those Who Served” for me and ran it two days later on Friday morning, October 10, 2014!!

We were obviously so excited about running we didn’t actually check the weather forecast for that day because it was a little chilly that morning…

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But we didn’t care!  We were FINALLY going to earn our amazing FMR race bling!!

We bundled up, got our race gear on…

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including of course, lashes…

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and tutus!!1959743_10205404496614776_1379699283660333310_n

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And were ready to go!  We chose the farm road by my house again, Schuster, because it’s an easy out and back 3 mile run.

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Took some last minute selfies…2014-10-10 08.25.18

And we were off!!

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trying to take a picture of Heidi & I at the start of our 5k

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Although it was a brisk morning, it ended up being perfect weather for a run!

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thumbs up to being almost done, baby!

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Heidi heading up the final hill!!

I finished in my normal time

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and Heidi came in right around 10 minutes after me…which was her goal; to come in around 40 minutes!!

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Nice job, girl!!

And because every race needs a medal ceremony…

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Oh, we got ours!!

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I am so proud to have accomplished this run.  This run was not for me, but for my Dad who served in the US Air Force and for his comrades including Colonel Springs.  For my Uncle Dick and my cousin Scott and for my husband’s cousin Mark who gave his life.  For my friends’ sons (and my youth group kids) who are serving: Zach, Ben, Kaleb & Joe.  For my friend’s husband Caleb and my friends like Shawn and Heidi who did serve and others like Elya who are serving.  And for all of the other service men and women who have and continue to sacrifice to ensure that we continue to enjoy the safety and freedom we have here in America.

THANK YOU.

Related Articles:
Full Medal Runs  (www.fullmedalruns.com)
Don’t Mess With My Tutu! – Virtual 5k Race





Pewaukee Triathlon

3 10 2014

This year I promised a friend I would do a triathlon with her.  Now I have done several triathlons in the past so what was the big deal about this one??  Well, all of the triathlons I have done in the past have been women’s only events; the Danskin TriathlonTrek Triathlon

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But the Pewaukee Tri??  Co-ed.

Men are competitive.  Now I’m not saying that women aren’t… but by taking part in women-only races I have observed friendliness, camaraderie, encouragement and support.  But when men are involved…come the egos, muscles, cut-throat attitudes and testosterone.

Actually, the muscles were ok.

8b228d373edc71549820458c78a0473bBut I digress.

It has been a couple years since I’ve done a triathlon…my last one was the Trek Women’s tri in 2011.  I took a year off in 2012 to pursue writing and where God was leading me on that path, while my friend Andrea, whom I met originally at my first sprint tri – the Danskin Women’s Triathlon and who has done all of the other tri’s right along with me, continued to race and ask me to join her.

Last year in 2013, I told her I wouldn’t race but that I would come cheer her on.  I had pretty much accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to be taking on any more tri’s… well gosh, they’re hard!!  Plus I was turning 40, they’re expensive, it just probably wasn’t something I would continue doing any more, plus the Pewaukee Tri didn’t give out medals.

Yes seriously, that was one HUGE hang-up.  I figured if I’m doing that much work for a race, I had better get more than a stinkin’ t-shirt!

Oh, I had plenty of excuses.

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But after watching her race and not being able to take part…

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2013 Pewaukee Tri swim leg

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me & Andrea at the finish…notice something around her neck?!!  #racebling

the tri bug bit and bit hard!  I absolutely missed it and noticed the medal around her neck.  Right then promised I would compete again in 2014.  (and because she only took on the Pewaukee Tri when she returns to Wisconsin, I would have to suck it up and race with the guys.)  EEK!

So I signed up, started training…

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and wondered WHAT THE HECK had I gotten myself into??!!

The day came…far too quickly I might add… that it was time to head down to Pewaukee.  I tried to remember what all to bring for the transition area… water bottles, wet suit, race helmet, bib belt, goggles, swim cap…

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But the two most important things were…

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my race posse: my Aunt Sally & my daughter Syd

Oh!  And chalk.  Don’t forget the chalk.

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I learned long ago this is the best way to find your bike. #brilliant

When my transition area was ready, I found Andrea and headed out to the swim start.

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me and Andrea!! Tri’ing together again!!

We lined up for the swim and I have to admit I was getting nervous.  Like I said, it had been a couple years since I had done a triathlon, and it was apparently at that very moment that God brought all the memories rushing back into my mind about how difficult a triathlon really is.

I had been training, granted not for the swim, but I’m a swimmer and I wasn’t terribly concerned.  The swim is the shortest part of a triathlon and the Pewaukee Tri had a 1/4 mile swim where all the tri’s I did before, the swim was a 1/2 mile…so I figured this would be a breeze.

Perhaps I should’ve re-thought that.

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Andrea & I prayed quick before we started asking for safety and strength, and we lined up together to enter the water.

The horn sounded and we sprinted into the water.

Diving in felt fine as I started blasting through the water.  But as I turned my head to take a breath, water rushed into my mouth and lungs as I gasped for air.

Pewaukee Lake was very choppy that morning…the wind was quite heavy and it made the swim very difficult.  I was very pleased that I wore my wet suit – I had considered not using it for such a short swim, but praise God I brought it!

I approached the first buoy wondering if I could continue.  I obviously should’ve reconsidered my swimming ability as I was training for this, but as I swam around the buoy I could hear Andrea cheering me on and thankfully turning out of the headwind helped… but boy, was I struggling.

As I swam around the final buoy the swim became much easier.  At that point the wind was at my back so it wasn’t as difficult to breathe…plus I could see the swim finish, so I picked up my pace just to be done!!

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the swim finish

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so incredibly happy to be done!

I ran into transition, grabbed my shoes, bike, helmet and 5 hour energy and was off…

Now typically I am a faster swimmer than Andrea…but obviously not this year as I watched her swimming effortlessly into the sunset as I was drowning in cold, lonely, Pewaukee Lake.

And now that we were on our bikes; me on my old-school, fat-tire Raleigh

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and her on her professional, sweet-lookin’, street-tire flyin’ race bike…

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I knew I was toast.

I was right.

I noticed right away the difference between women only events and co-ed events…as well as the difference in landscape between Pewaukee and Pleasant Prairie, once I met the hills of Pewaukee.  Oh my word, seriously?!!  Guys were flying past me…even up the stinkin’ hills!!  It was a roller coaster out there!!

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Yeeeaaahhh… that’s what I did.  Embraced it.

Uff…now that was a bike leg.

I noticed Andrea’s bike as I returned into transition to rack my own.  Not a shocker, she has always been faster on the bike.

Hmph.

As I started the run, I felt pretty good.  Honestly, I think I was just happy to be done with the bike leg!  I did cross Andrea’s path at one point as we were running which was a welcome sight!  We exchanged a quick high-five and she encouraged me as she passed, by saying “you’re almost done!”

YESSS!!  Almost done!!

Then I realize that she’s a big, fat, LIAR as I passed the 1 mile marker!

NOT.OK.

I kept running and running, thinking “this has to be over soon!”

Then came more hills.

At that point I was so done with this race that I brought up my inner… whatever … and just kept running.

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I was not about to stop (that just makes it take longer) and as I made the final turn, I saw the finish.

PRAISE GOD!!

Andrea came in long before me…

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Andrea’s finish

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my not so spectacular finish

But wow!  I had done it!  Completed another triathlon!  And not just any tri but a co-ed tri!!

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this is me SHOCKED that I made it!

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Cole & Andrea together again!!

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at least I got me some race bling!

My final times:2014-07-16 06.42.10

 

Related Articles:
My First Sprint Triathlon…Danskin Women’s Triathlon 2008
Trek Women’s Triathlon 2009
Trek Triathlon 2010 – thank you volunteers!
IronGirl Sprint Triathlon 2014

 





Trek Women’s Triathlon 2010 – thank you, volunteers!

1 10 2014

Triathlons are hard.

I finished the Trek Women’s sprint triathlon 4 years ago in 2010.  I had done two tri’s before this one and every time it’s over I look back and (like childbirth) think “oh, that wasn’t so bad!”

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This year I wondered if I’d be able to afford it, let alone if I even wanted to do it. But a dear friend blessed me by paying my registration fee. It’s a funny thing, those blessings. Kind of like how children are a blessing. It just doesn’t always seem like it. And with this tri, I can assuredly say it didn’t so much feel a blessing once the race started!!

Seriously.

The saving grace through all of this was thankfully, once again, I was able to do the race with three friends – which, when you’re facing death…it’s good to have friends around.

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Marissa, D, me & Andrea

At packet pick-up we even got to me the infamous Sally Edwards and we even got her autograph!!

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oh yes, that is us… chillin’ with Sally Edwards.

We arrived nice and early to the race, thank you Rec Plex rock star $25 parking, and got our transition areas ready.

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Me, Kala, Andrea, D ready to rock!!

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Kala taking on her first tri!!

And, of course, all these races support awesome causes!!

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Save the Ta Ta’s!!

The transition area closed and we had some time before our swim start so we relaxed a bit and cheered on the other participants.

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This was the first year that we decided to rent wet suits.  We had seen people use them at other races and have heard that they do help with buoyancy, so we decided to test it out this year.

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woot-woo!! #showseverystinkincurve

At the start of the swim, we knew we wanted to be in the front of our heat — so as not to be kicked or hit or y’know drowned by being in the middle of the pack. So we let many racers go past, and ended up in the front of the very last heat. As race time approached, we gathered together and prayed for God to give us each protection…

…and buoyancy.

Now for Kala, this was her 1st triathlon. I knew she was nervous, but didn’t realize how nervous until I saw the tears streaming down her cheeks right before we were to enter the water. My heart broke for her and I started toward her, but at the very moment she needed it, I spied God surround her with “swim angels.” Swim angels are volunteers literally armed with swim noodles, who assist and encourage those racers having doubt, fear or need help during the swim. It was beautiful to witness, and I knew God was providing the encouragement and support she needed. He didn’t need me.

God provided.

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

The race was about to start and I was ready to go. The count down began and we were off. I dove into the water and took off. It felt great. I was flying…passing people left and right, steady and on course, directly to the swim out, 1/2 a mile across in 14 minutes. Suh-weet!

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Whew! Yep, lovin’ the wet suit!

What I didn’t know was that a different story was unfolding in my wake. D was struggling terribly. She couldn’t catch her breath, couldn’t calm down and was very much in trouble. It was at the very moment she needed it, God sent a swim angel to her side to help D rest and calm down. This angel stayed right beside her, encouraged her, calmed her, and crossed the lake with her. Safely across.

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D coming out of the swim

Looking back now, I can clearly see how that was God’s plan. The remaining swim angels join the last heat of racers and head back across the lake. It is then that they are no longer needed. It is very obvious that Kala & D needed those angels…Kala right at the beginning, and D later mid-swim, where normally a swim angel wouldn’t have been.

God provided.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

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Kala entering transition from the swim

We all made it safely across the lake and onto our bikes. This year the bike route changed, and there were a lot more hills. A LOT MORE. In fact I would venture to say that somehow, it was ALL UPHILL!!

I passed one gal whose chain had fallen off her bike. As soon as I noticed her off the side of the road, I considered stopping to offer help, but at that exact moment I spied God lead other women and volunteers to help fix her bike and get her back in the race. He didn’t need me.

There were several volunteers along the route who really encouraged and cheered as we rode by. I clearly spied God place those guys strategically along that long, hilly, exhausting route and not only gave me the encouragement I needed to keep pushing onward exactly when I needed it, but He provided that same encouragement to Kala during the bike race by placing other racers and volunteers who rode along side her pushing her to continue on.

God provided.

When I was so very done with the bike leg and pulling back into the transition area, I once again Spied God provide much needed encouragement by placing my family right at the entrance to cheer me on. Perfectly placed just for me.

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My legs were heavy, I was exhausted, but He provided the extra push I needed.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31

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D finishing the bike leg

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D on the run

I got through the run…slowly…but got through it, and after I finished and found Andrea & D, we were off to find Kala.

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Andrea & D

When we spotted her, she was on her last 1/2 mile of the run. At her side I spied God provide a volunteer who walked with her, encouraged her, and cheered her on to the finish. Kala was spent and from what I’ve heard will “never do it again”, but she ran to the finish line, finished with her head held high and is now a TRIATHLETE!! It was a beautiful thing to watch.

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All four of us finished, all four of us struggled and God got all four of us through!! It was not fun, but y’know working out never really is.  But I praise God for allowing me to see Him work through so many people…through so many strangers.

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Isn’t that how we are supposed to live our lives as Christians? We are to be set apart — to be those glimpses of Heaven right here on earth. Light for which those still in the dark can see and move toward.

Oh God, I pray that You will use me and my life to encourage and motivate others. I pray that like those volunteers I will stand out for Christ and lead others to You.