Friday, December 23, 2011

How it all started, Part II

One more story from Jr. High, then I'll move on.  It's a funny one.  It was the Section Championships, and all of us in 9th grade were running in the JV division as a team.  There were other schools that allowed their top runner to race as Varsity for the chance to qualify for State Championships as an individual.  At the time I was hoping my coaches would allow me to run Varsity, but I am so glad they didn't.  Having the few girls that would most likely beat me now running Varsity, I wasn't sure who to look out for in the JV race. 

The gun went off, and so did we.  The race was in Redding, and all I remember is dry, rolling hills.  The course wasn't too bad, I was just nervous, as I stated before, not knowing who to look for.  There was one girl ahead of me, and about half way through we went down a hill (my strength- most runners put on the brakes to do downhill.  I relax my hip flexers and just keep an eye out for a safe place to plant my feet.  Works everytime!).  I passed her, and suddenly the realization that I was in first place hit me.  Never before had I finished first in a race!  I had finished second a couple of times, but this was new to me.  I looked behind me and there was no one coming after me.  The closer I got to the finish, the more people there were cheering me on.  Teammates from the boys' team was there near the finish line, too.

My mom made it to every single home and away race that year.  She was there at this particular race as well...

As I was approaching the finish line, I looked behind me one last time to see if I had to "gut it out" or not.  Nope.  No one was close.  My mom, however, was!  She ran the last stretch with me, yelling and clapping and so excited! 

When I received my plaque, some of the boys took one look at it and said that one of the girls was me, and the other was my mom!  That is one of my favorite plaques for that reason!
Left: My mom; Right: Me

High school was a bit different.  That is when running became a "have to" and not a "get to".  It was really self-inflicted, but I definately had a love/hate relationship with it.  I was able to qualify all three years for Cross Country State Championships, but never did anything really great with it.  Track was fun and different.  I was able to do the 2 mile, 1 mile, 880 and mile relay almost every meet.  My best time in the mile was 5:35 my senior year, and I made it to the Top 10 Mile times of my high school. 

One of my favorite memories of High School running was the McKinleyville Invitational we would go to every year.  The entire race was held on the beach:  You run a mile and half straight down the beach, turn around, and run a mile and half straight back.  It was so fun!  One year I ran barefoot (blisters on the bottom of the feet), another in "spikes" (blisters on the back of the foot due to sand), and the final year I ran in regular running shoes (the best and most comfortable). 

My sophomore year I had my friend Cari (who was a senior) around, and we would pray together before each race.  It was a great reminder of keeping the "Main Thing" the Main Thing.  I really appreciated her for that!  I continued the tradition after she graduated, pulling aside anyone who wanted to pray before the race with me.  It wasn't a "help me beat everyone" kind of prayer, but one of thanks that the Lord was allowing us the ability to run, and that we would honor Him with how we would run.  Sometimes I would try to get a good praise song stuck in my head for the race; both for the beat and for the encouragement.

My 11th grade year was a little different.  The summer before I was gone for almost the entire summer overseas and did not get much of a chance to run to train.  Coming to the first meet of the season, I experimented with drinking a "Jolt" cola (a super caffenated, carbonated soda) to see if it would give me an extra boost that I needed from the lack of training.  Soda is a poor beverage choice, especially when it is 90+ degrees.  Both the caffeine and the carbonation are dehydrating.  I finished in second place, but during the race I overheated and collapsed at the finish line.  I couldn't see straight, vomitted a couple of times, and couldn't remember my name.  One of the coach's helped to try to cool my blood flow down, got me to drink some water, and asked me simple questions.  After awhile I felt better, but to this day I am sensitive to heat. 

I still remember most of the competition from the other schools:  Trixie, Daisy, Stephanie, Amy, Irene.  Together we learned that just because they are competition, there is no need for poor sportsmanship.  I could be friends with any one of those girls.  When I was in college my mom called to tell me that Trixie had been in a fatal car accident. It was one of the first people I had known who died.

My 11th grade year my brother Jason went to Fresno Pacific College, where I knew since 7th grade that I wanted to go to college.  I went to visit him, and since he was on the Cross Country/Track team (if you were on the XC team, you were automatically on the Track team, too!) I got to talk to the coach.  There wasn't a women's program yet, but he was working on one for the next year.  My senior year the coach would call occassionally, and was there at the State meet (held in Fresno every year) when I ran.  He offered me a scholarship, and I was ready to go!  I couldn't wait!

College deserves a post in itself, so, to be continued....

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Week in Review 12/11 - 12/17

Off Season Training Continues! 

Sunday: Off

Monday: 7 mile run; felt fabulous!  Swimming, 60 minutes; felt better than the week before, but still awkward.

Tuesday: 60 minute ride on trainer

Wednesday: 9 miles total (ran with friend for about 4 miles, then by myself later for the rest.); Swimming, 60 minutes.  The coach was helping me with my stroke.  It really helped, and I could feel better propulsion through the water.  He said next we'll have to work on my shoulder rotation. 

Thursday: Off

Friday:  60 minutes on trainer

Saturday: 6 mile run; Got a few miles in at Woodward!  I haven't ran there in over a year.  They are doing a lot of work at the park, so there are new trails to explore! 

Even with two days off, I was able to get about 7 hours in this week.  I have to keep reminding myself that I need to both continue to build gradually and listen to my body.  Around September-October the weekly totals will be close to 20 hours a week of training.  IMAZ is less than 11 months away now!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How it all started

So, how did I get into doing triathlons?  It began a long time ago.  The thing about the sport of triathlon is that it is rare that you have a triathlete begin as a triathlete.  Usually there is some other sport or interest that is a springboard to becoming a triathlete.  Some start in one of the three elements involved: as a swimmer, a cyclist, or a runner.  My training buddy, Pat, is a soccer player.  Another acquaintance is a volleyball player.  Triathlon is a welcoming sport to all interested.  For me, I started as a runner.

To truly understand the depth of my love for running, I have to go way back to my childhood.  To the pudgy, unathletic, insecure girl in elementary school.   I did soccer in fifth and sixth grade, but that really only cemented my perception of myself as not being very good at anything athletic.  In sixth grade in particular, it was the usual story- I was either the last one or one of the last ones picked for teams.  Once a year there was a physical fitness test at school that ranged in abilities from a standing long jump, to pull ups (or hanging for girls), to the dreaded...mile.  Ugh.  It was humiliating.  If I wasn't the last one to finish the mile that year, then I was pretty close to being the last.  My time was somewhere in the 10 minute range, and I struggled and pushed for every second of that.  At the end I was passed by a boy who was getting encouragement from his friends.  They couldn't believe that he was going to be beat by me, that girl.  Ouch.  Obviously that has stuck with me.  I think of those boys during many a race now, escpecially when I get to pass a person of the male gender towards the end of a race. 

Moving on to seventh grade, we had PE every day, and every day we would run a lap as a warm up.  Sometimes we would run more than that, but even just running one lap was a major leap in distance for me.  Slowly I got stronger, and when it was time for the mile test I finished in 7:41.  That was such an accomplishment for me, I was beaming the rest of the day!  I was one of the first to finish for my class which also stuck out to me.  That year I would get my time down to 7:35 (after tripping and falling over a cone that marked the final turn, of course).  Running in class became the one thing in PE that I could do.  I take that back, I could also climb the rope.  But that was it.  I was terrible at any sport involving technique, rules, and the dreaded...ball. 

Our junior high school was seventh to ninth grade.  In ninth grade you could do sports with the high school.  At the end of eighth grade the school sends out information about teams to join the next fall when you are a ninth grader.  I was interested in cross country- my older brothers had both done it, and I was pretty sure I could do it too.  So I went to the meeting, met Mr. Noe and some of the other students.  I was excited about ninth grade, and getting to be on a team!

The first day of Cross country practice was pretty intimidating!  It was combined with the high schoolers, who were bigger, and obviously older.  I knew a couple of them from being friends with my brothers, so I got the "little sister" treatment and was welcomed to the group.  The head coach, Mr. Sheley, scared me to death.  He was a man of few words, and I didn't hear him say anything really nice to anyone, so I thought he was a grouchy old man.  Fortunately I got to know him better over the years and totally loved the man.  His silence was just a way of making his words mean even more when he had something to say to you.

Practice was fun, hard work, and involved a weekly bus ride to a location for a more challenging run.  We were fortunate that the school was located so near the fabulous Bidwell park.  It was full of trails to run on and explore.  Sometimes we took the bus to upper park where we would get to experience hill repeats.  Or the bus would take us to old 32, where the entire run was uphill.  It was so great!  But boy oh boy, where those rides home stinky!

The dual meets (where it would just be our school's team and another school) would combine all the girls into varsity.  The larger invitational meets would divide to JV and Varsity.  Since we were in Jr. high we would always be JV.  But our first meet was a dual meet at Hooker Oak Park, our home turf.  The course was 2.4 miles.  I had no idea what to expect, but I certainly had butterflys!  We lined up on the starting line, and the gun went off.  Off we went, thundering down the path towards the narrow gap that led to a levee.  Then on through the park, over the footbridge, up the steep hill to the parking lot, across to the trail that would take us out by Horseshoe lake.  Up and around we went, back to the trail that would take us through the park to the levee.  From the levee it was a quick turn to the final half mile to the finish line.  It was on that last part of the levee that I was passing girls.  Up ahead I could see the two high school girls that everyone was expecting to finish first for the team.  I felt great, so I passed them.  Wait a minute, I just passed them!  They were apparently as shocked as I was, as were most of the spectators.  On I went to the finish line, finishing fourth overall, and as the newspaper would write, "the first local finisher"!  Nobody was expecting me to do that.  I was right there with them, I wasn't expecting it, either!  That race changed everything, because now there would be expectation- from the coaches, from my teammates, from myself.  I finally found something I was good at.
The first time ever I have been in the newspaper!  I remember cutting it out and showing it to whoever would look at it.  I must have highlighted it a couple of times, because it's both yellow and pink.  I think I was excited. haha

At the end of the season, I was awarded the Most Valuable Runner, receiving a beautiful, tall, blue and gold trophie.  My first trophie ever!  It had my name on it and everything.  It was a treasure to me! 

Besides not involving a ball or puck in the sport, Cross country differed from other sports in a very key way.  The boys and girls would almost always practice together, travel together, and be there at every meet together.  When the boys were racing, we girls would be out on the course cheering them on, and vice versa.  We were a tight group of misfits, for the most part not fitting into any other sport but this one.  Cross Country and Track were the same in college.  I was able to have a dozen adopted "brothers" and very close girl friends.

There is so much more, so many people I would love to mention.  I will save those for later.  This, in a nutshell, is how it all started for me.  Finding out I could run well...not the best, but better than I ever thought.  And the best part?  Better than anyone else thought, too!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Week of 12/4-12/11

Off-Season Training for 12/4-12/10:
Sunday- 80 minutes riding (On trainer; finished watching "Miracle" while riding.  It's very helpful to have something to watch or listen to while riding on the trainer!  This was a great movie to sweat to, too!)

Monday- 6 mile run in the morning; Joined a swim club with a Triathlon practice time in the evening.  They let you either do your own training or use the workout they provide.  Since it was my first time back in the water in over a year I just did my own thing (the waterpark over the summer doesn't count).  If one could swim through Jell-o, then that it what it felt like.  I had forgotten what muscles are used exactly, and they were wondering what was going on!  I only lasted about 45 minutes.  But I have plenty of time to get better.

Tuesday- 60 minutes riding on the trainer. 

Wednesday- 6 mile run in the morning; Went to swim that night but the coach didn't show up.  I got to meet some women triathletes and visit with one of my TNT tri friends.  You get a group of triathletes together and there really isn't a lack of conversation!

Thursday- Day off

Friday- 3 mile light run.  I've been meeting a friend once a week who is trying to get back into shape.  It's fun to have company!

Saturday- 38 mile ride with Pat; Rode to his house, then up to the Millerton store and back.  A ride that was suppossed to be 2 hours turned into 4 (see picture).  Poor Pat, he had some flat issues.  Two tubes, two patches, four CO2 cartridges later...we made it. 

47 weeks, 6 days to IMAZ

Tuesday, December 6, 2011



The simple answer?  Because I can.  Maybe that sounds too simple to you, but from where I come from it means everything.  My reality is to be the only one (of my siblings and I) who can physically do an Ironman.  One brother died at the age of 26.  My other brother was diagnosed with a disease at the age of 22, limiting his vigor for physical activity.  I am healthy, I am alive, I have been blessed with a body that functions normally without the assistance of medication.  That, to me, trumps all other reasons.  But don't worry, I have more.

I am a mother of five children.  I am quite certain I have made up for the lack of use of painkillers during their childbirth in the day-to-day life of what it takes to make it through each day sane.  Just kidding...kind of.  But really, I am a mother, a stay-at-home mom, homemaker, domestic engineer.  Call it what you will.  Ken and I have had to intentionally put any career aspirations I may have had on hold or off completely to do the job that God has given and called us to do.  I am completely and totally convinced that I am doing the right thing, and do not regret having my kids and being the sole provider of their care.  I do, however, struggle with self-worth.  What am I? "Just a mom".  I don't have any great title, I sure don't bring in a pay check (the kind banks accept as legal tender currency, anyway.), and it's not a glamorous life.  Two things have saved me from really, really losing it: One, competing (running and now, triathlons).  Two, the girls at our church who have allowed me to be a part of their lives.  So my other reason for wanting to do an Ironman is to give hope to other moms who may feel like I have.  Try something different, challenge yourself.  Be your own inspiration.  Are you healthy?  Have you gotten lazy?  Do you spend most of your days in your pajamas and sweats?  Get up and get going.  If I can do something, so can you!

I love my kids, no matter how you may have misunderstood that previous paragraph.  My life revolves around them!  I couldn't imagine our family without a single one of them.  Along with thinking of my brothers, I will think of my children throughout my 140.6 miles on race day!  I want to show them that when you set your mind on something that seems crazy, and big, and you don't know how it's going to happen, that it's possible!  I want to show them that just because I am 36 years old I haven't stopped living and I sure haven't given up!  I want them to invite me to know their current and future dreams and know I will support them!   

I want there to be more female triathletes!  I have been able to make many tri-friends in the past two years and am blessed to be a part of a special group of people who love to tri.  Men outnumber women in races, and especially in triathlons.  If you are ever interested in wanting to do a triathlon and don't know where to start, I would highly recommend Team in Training (  They provide the coaching to get you ready and confident for race day, you provide fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  Totally worth it!  Summer season is beginning soon, too, by the way. 

So, why?  To show my gratitude to God for a healthy body; For my brothers; To inspire other moms and women; For my amazing children. That is why I want to be an Ironman.

Monday, December 5, 2011

What in the world...

Now that I am sitting here and spent the time setting up a blog I am so very terrified at the vulnerability of what this entails.  Of the foremost on my mind, who would ever even want to read it?  My mom would.  So would my dad.  And most likely my husband and my brother will. It's mostly to record the coming year of 2012 and my endeavor to complete an Ironman Triathlon as a type of journal for myself, my children, those who are supporting me and any past, present, or future mother-athletes out there.

When I did a triathlon with Team in Training in 2009, we were given our own website to assist the fundraising process.  I found that I really enjoyed letting my financial and emotional supporters know how I was progressing to my goals.   They enjoyed knowing I was trying my best and learning a lot spiritually and physically along the way.

I hope to reveal experiences that I have had to get to where I am today.  We are all on a journey through life.  Sometimes it takes others doing things we never thought possible in order to try something new ourselves.  That is what is meant by "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." (Proverbs 27:17)  Funny enough, when you cross the finish line of an Ironman race, you are met with the statement,"Congratulations, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!"  I want to be an Ironman.  Or Ironwoman, whatever.  Not just to finish a race of 140.6 miles of swimming, cycling and running under 17 hours, but as my God would define me as such.  To live a life worthy of the Call, being saved by His Grace, gifted through his Holy Spirit.  An Ironman and the race of life..the two are so intertwined, it is one of the main reasons I love it so much.

In case you're wondering about the blog address (To be an Ironbird), this is what it means.  My training buddy, Patrick, and I are alumni of Fresno Pacific University where the mascot is a Sunbird.  We are very proud to be Sunbirds!  We'll give you a fierce "Tweet!" anytime.  We are also trying to earn the title of "Ironman".  So, we had the brilliant idea of merging the two things into "Ironbird"!  He's even willing to sport blue and orange spandex on race day in honor of Fresno Pacific.  Once a Sunbird, always a Sunbird.  That's how we see it, anyway.

I have so much I want to say about so many things.  But the kids are home from school and I have to help with homework.  Until next time....