Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Putting my money where my mouth is...

Daytime television is horrible, and I'm reminded of this only because I'm sick at home. I hate it when people go to work instead of staying home when they're sick. It almost makes me convulse like a 2-year-old throwing a temper tantrum. Work can survive without you for a day, so stay home and don't infest the rest of the workplace! We're given sick time for reason! So maybe I stayed home to prove a point more than anything. And now back to your regularly scheduled blog: Instead of channel surfing until Pardon The Interruption is on later, there's no better way to pass the time than catch up on blogs.

Evotri has posted their winter challenge so join-in on the fun! You know you can do Ironman distance in 30 days. 30 DAYS!! Get off your tush, you know you have good reason: your heart, your lungs, or maybe it's outside you and you have little munchkins; be a good example, or so you can raise money for a worthy charity of your choice just by getting off the couch. If those aren't reasons enough, I can come up with more. Just let me know... I just signed up for the challenge, but it will have to wait until tomorrow. I know, I know. Everyone says that, but I can't really breathe today so I promise it will be tomorrow.

Speaking of training and working out: the team is getting geared up for the 2009 summer season. I'm super excited because I'm going to be a training captain on the team this year. The full responsibilities have not been hammered out yet, but basically we're there to help the coaches lead workouts, stretching, core, etc. It should be fun and challenging and I'm really looking forward to it.

So, I just received an email from my dad about Christmas gifts this year. I'm so glad that I feel like my whole family is on the same page with exchanging gifts:

Working in the human services area I have been seeing the increasing economic struggles of people over the past year or so as reflected in data that we have on financial assistance, emergency assistance, food shelf usage, etc. This is a very difficult time for so many people and we all have so much more than any of the real people reflected in these statistics.

We have shifted our overall charitable giving in response to these needs and one area we have increased donations to is food shelves in both the Twin Cities and Grand Rapids areas. Given the economic picture that currently exists and likely will for some time, we will be limiting our Christmas gifts to each of you to no more than $25.00 each this year. Our intention is to give the balance we would have spent on your Christmas gifts to food shelves we are already supporting.

We ask that you consider doing the same. We don't want you to spend any more on our gifts than what we're spending on yours, and we would hope that you would then give something to some organization serving those with less, as well. Need suggestions for which organizations to support? Let me know----I just happen to know a few!

I can almost guarantee that our Christmas will collectively be more meaningful than ever if we give more to others than we give to ourselves----that's exactly what J.C. modeled for us all, and he definitely got it right!

Peace and Love,

So, I extend this challenge to all of you. I work in human services with my Pop, and I assure you the need for support extends further than we could ever imagine. Any little bit helps, and if all you can sacrifice is a can of food to your local food shelf, know that it will go to a deserving family. You can actually go to the IRS website and search for a charity if you need ideas!

Alright, it's time for a little rest because I'm determined to go back to work tomorrow. Daytime television is not worth staying home for another day!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Locks for Love

I did it. I chopped 11 inches of my hair straight off. Ok, well I didn't cut my hair, but a stylist did. A couple of my friends and I went up to the Hugo Health Fair on Saturday where one of the local salons was holding a "hair drive" of sorts. They were giving free haircuts/styles to anyone that would donate 10 inches of their hair, or if you didn't have enough hair to donate they would give you a haircut for a monetary donation to Locks for Love. Nicole, my friend Tammy's sister, met us up there with her two daughters (who are part of a set of 3-year-old triplets!) and they also donated their hair in honor of Tammy.

I debated the whole drive up there whether or not I really wanted to cut that much hair. My friend Christine and I talked about it the entire way up to Hugo, and it's a long drive up there! When we got to the health fair, we went to the Locks for Love booth and got on the list to get our hair cut and me making it very clear that I had not yet committed to chopping it all off. I've never been so nervous or indecisive about cutting my hair! Usually I'm pretty impulsive and cut it on a whim, but I have also never had my hair as long as it was before I cut it on Saturday.

The stylist called me over, and I'll be honest, my palms got a little sweaty. She asked me how short I wanted it and I told her that I didn't want it shorter than my shoulders. She then measured my hair and said, "Well, if we take it one inch above the shoulders, you can donate it." I then blurted out, "Just cut it! Just do it! Hurry, before I change my mind!" Christine just about got her ear cut off because she whipped her head around and said, "What?! Wait, wait, stop cutting my hair. I have to take a 'before' picture of her!" So, here it is:

The stylist put my hair in a pony tail and then chopped it off just above the hair binder. I instantly lost 5 lbs! Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but my head did feel a great deal lighter. The stylist took another inch off to level things out (ha!) and I ended up with this:

By the time it was all said and done, we had donated a grand total of 40 inches of hair and a few bucks to Locks for Love. All for our girl Tam!

Erin, Me, Christine, Cayda, Nicole and Carly (picking her nose).

All of us girls got together to show Tam our new haircuts and to have a "girls night" before her second chemo treatment on Monday. We always have a good time together:

Christine, Erin, Jackie (the next to CHOP CHOP!), me and Tam.

Bloody noses are HAWT!
This is also why Mr. Fury loves me, and I know this because he just told me.

Alright, now that I'm getting the infamous head shake from Mr. Fury, it's time to go to bed. Goodnight moon.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Rocker and the Chick

Mr. Fury and I went over to my parents' house for the annual Halloween party. Instead of dressing up in the group-type costume that we did last year (Flinstones, meet the Flinstones...), we went in completely opposite directions than each other. Mr. Fury grew out his facial hair and was a rocker, women's pants and all. His brother was in town from Boise, and he wore an identical costume. Can you tell they're brothers?

I had a hard time coming up with a costume. I wanted to make my own, no store bought stuff for me this year. I searched and searched, but nothing really tickled my fancy, until I stumbled upon an idea for an infant costume. Yes, an infant costume. I don't think this thing was meant for people to actually walk around in because the feet were those yellow, rubber gloves you wear when you're using harsh cleaners. I think it turned out pretty well though.

Turns out feather boas keep you very warm. I really don't think I needed the extra long sleeve shirt. When we walked into the house and my mom took a look at Mr. Fury and I, she couldn't stop laughing. Then she looked down at my rubber gloved feet and she started crying. So, I pretty much deem that a Halloween costume success!

My favorite costume was my older brother's, but it's because of the story behind it. I don't know if I told ya'll about this, but my parents were recently in Hawaii. Yes, these are the same parents that volunteered at the World Championships in Kona. Uh, huh, still my parents... So, anyway, while they were there my dad accidentally got pulled over for speeding, and then was asked to do a field sobriety test because Mr. Honesty admitted to having drinks with dinner, and then accidentally tripped on his sandal while "walking the line" and then was purposefully handcuffed and put in the back of the police car, AND THEN brought down to the police station to take a breathalizer AND THEN fingerprinted and had his mug shots taken AFTER he passed the breathalizer. Oh my goodness, I'm out of breath. So, my brother dressed up as his mug shot for Halloween. I now present to you, my father's mug shot and my father:

Yes, those are flip-up sunglasses.

In other news, what's up with this dude? Is he for real?! Cheaters never prosper. Well, that's all for now. Sorry this was completely un-tri related along with most of my previous posts, but sometimes you just need a break. I am thinking about the Winter Carnival 1/2 though. Steve and Borsch, you planted the seed...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Half Marathon and Other Business

The Team Ortho Monster Dash line-up of races was this past Saturday and to get one last good race in for the year, I signed up for the 1/2 Marathon. It was a perfect day for running, a slight breeze and cool temps. Awesome. Before the race I got to meet IronJenny and her son Bobby who went on to PR in the 5k. Way to go Speed Racer! Their whole family ran the race which I think is so great. I can't wait to have kids and bring them to the races because what better way to introduce your kids to a healthy lifestyle? Although, Mr. Fury and I have talked about this and I have decided we're having boys and they're all playing hockey and going to the U of M Twin Cities campus (GOPHERS!). He tries to reason with me and explain how that's not really how it works, but I think he just needs to give his "boys" a stern talking to so they understand the deal. I digress.

Back to the Monster Dash. It was awesome, and when the fabled gun went off (I say fabled because I never actually heard anything indicating the start of the race, we just started moving) I started out faster than my marathon pace. I wanted to run this at about a 10 min/mile pace because I haven't had too many long runs since Ironman. I felt pretty good, and I was keeping a 9:30 pace for the first 3 miles. I felt really good by mile 3.5 so I picked up the pace...a little too much. I wanted to see what I could do, so I pushed it pretty hard. By mile 10, I saw my friend Dana working the water stop. She told me I looked good, I told her I was pushing it too hard, and so to give me some encouragement she told me to be like a Cheetah. To "be like a Cheetah," I clawed my hands in the air and kept running. I think the guy behind me thought I lost my marbles. What he doesn't know is that I never had any in the first place...

The last three miles around Lake Calhoun were tough mentally. I have done that run a million times before with the team, and I knew exactly how long it took to get from one side to the other, and all I wanted to be was done! I haven't pushed myself at that pace all year, and to do it in a 1/2 Marathon probably wasn't the smartest thing I have ever done. I got around the lake (like a Cheetah!) and was on my way back to Lake Harriet. I saw my friend Erin walking back to her car after finishing the fun run 5k, and she yelled to me, "Remember when we had to run these hills 6 times for practice?!" Uh, yeah. That also hurt a lot! Oh memories... I was so happy to be rounding the corner to the finish line, and crossed it in 1:51. WOOHOO! Major PR averaging 8:28/mile. Awesome! Even though I was majorly sore the next day, it was a great way to end my racing season. Now, on to winter sports, and I hope to pick up skate skiing. Safety Bob has his work cut out for him teaching me how to skate ski...

On a different note, my friend T had her first chemo treatment yesterday, and she made a new friend in her IV drip named Benny. She bonded with Benny over their 2 1/2 hours together, and will continue to bond over the next few months. Pray her treatments are successful and the side effects of chemo are few! We're all very hopeful she'll be back on her feet and in her classroom teaching by spring.

In other news, I ate a gigantic brat last week. It was so big, I couldn't help myself but document it's immenseness. And I know you're wondering: Of course I ate it with extra sauerkraut and mustard!

It was sooooo good!

Happy Eating!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Or Maybe the Corn Maze?

I think I actually promised these pictures...

The start of the corn maze. J-Tub's not sure about this.
We walked straight all the way, and it brought us here. Rip off.
So we turned around and tried again.
Ryan and Sparky decided to go a different way than me,

and then I was by myself left to my own devices. I was getting hungry.

Never ending corn! I would like to get out of here, "MARCO!"
Maybe I should just eat some...

I finally found my way out and everyone was already picking their pumpkins. I think there's going to be a dance-off for the pumpkin in the middle.

My shirt matches the pumpkins. Isn't that festive?


Picture Goodness

Here are the pictures I promised from my "Adventure Run" with Mr. Fury:

Our run off the paved path begins and we're both all smiles.

I have no idea where this goes!

Mr. Fury: "I love adventure running so much!"
Ms. R: "I know, it's so great!"
The crew team passed us like we were standing still.

The path lead us under the railroad bridge. This must be where all the local artists hang out.

So we took a picture.
This is my favorite tag. Ispose we should keep running!

I always wondered how you got to this beach!

Taking a breather.

I love this run!

Thanks for sticking it out with me Mr. Fury! Fun times had by all, or at least me...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Up and Down and On Our Way Back Up

Today has been a rollercoaster of emotion. I received some shocking news just before lunch today, the kind that takes your breathe away. I'm still trying to digest it, but I am thankful that I train and race on behalf of such a wonderful organization. It is hard for me to find the words right now, but please keep my friends P & T in your thoughts as they are going through a rough patch. The outlook is bright and I am hoping they take up the amazing services and support the LLS provides. Not much more I can write at this point other than it's time to rally around our girl.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Adventure Running

Just a quick update today:

It's been pretty busy at work lately and my co-worker and I just found out yesterday that we have to really step up the work on a project that we've been working on the past few weeks. Turns out our deadline has been moved up and that means we really need to get things moving.

I went for a longer run last weekend and it was a ton of fun. I explored the trails down by the river on the Minneapolis side a little more and found they twist and turn all over the place. It was a great "adventure" run. My 9 miles quickly turned into 10-11, but I brought enough GU and water so I wasn't too worried about the additional mileage. I even got to meet a little 3 month old puppy named Wolfgang. He was very well behaved and sat down so I could pet him which is amazing at that age!

I went out to the apple orchard with some friends, which was great! We walked through the corn maze and I got lost by myself and was left to my own devices with my camera. I'll post the pictures later tonight or tomorrow. Hehe! I was so lost and just wanted to get out after about 5 minutes of wandering around aimlessly that I started yelling, "MARCO!" and thankfully Bridget's boyfriend Ryan yelled, "POLO!" back to me. We went back and forth until I found my way out. Thanks Ryan! We picked our pumpkins in the pumpkin patch, and then took a tractor ride back to the apple orchard. It started to rain when we got back to the orchard so we all decided it was time for some beer...which brings me to Saturday night...

We all met up at The Muddy Pig and had beer and some food. Ryan's friend Phil met us at the bar and he and Sean (aka Ass Pounder) started talking endurance sports. You would have thought these two were long-lost friends. Turns out Phil is quite the athlete. He qualified for Boston Marathon on his first try, just ran Twin Cities Marathon in 2:55 (or something equally as ridiculous), and hopes to qualify for Kona on his first try as well. I don't doubt he will do it. Wow! Good luck Phil! The Fury and I left soon after Phil's cousin joined us so we could meet up with some of his friends at The Shamrock. I had a couple more beers there, watched the rest of the victorious Wild game (GO WILD!), and we listened to a few songs from a cover band. We had enough of that and made our way down to the Liffy (I think we were at the Liffy...not so sure on that one). Mike's friends came back to the table with drinks, and I just wanted a water, but they were so kind to bring me a shot of Jag. Hm...they must know that I am my mother's daughter and I cannot let good liquor go to waste. My night was soon over, and The Fury got some good laughs out of how ridiculous I was. Sunday was (kind of) a welcome sight and I spent most of the day on the couch watching football and catching up on my ZZZzzzzs. Awesome.

I ran home from work with my friend Lindsay last night, and it was fun to catch up about non-work related things. Turns out she and her husband are planning on starting a family soon so she's not signing up for any races quite yet for next year. Exciting!! I told her the story of how I got passed running on the River Road by a pregnant lady this summer. Hopefully we can still go out and run/walk together if they strike it rich in that category beceause apparently I keep a slow enough pace. Ha!

Tonight the Fury and I are going to the U of M women's volleyball game. Woohoo! We've been addicted to the Big 10 Network since Comcast picked it up earlier this year, and that's why we decided we should just go to a game instead of watching them all on tv. M-I-N-N-E-S-O-T-A, Minnesota! Minnesota! YEEAAAHYEYEYEYEYEYEYEYY!!!!!!!!! GOOOPHERS!!!

I'm hoping to get a run in before we have to leave for the game, but we'll see how the timeline pans out. Have a happy (cloudy) day!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Back at it!

I went to get my knee checked out by an orthopedic surgeon at Tria a couple weeks ago. When the doctor walked into the room, he looked at my IM jacket and said, "I know why you knee pain! Did you qualify for Kona?" I laughed and said, "Um, no, but maybe someday, like when I'm 65 years old." We talked Ironman for a little bit, and it turns out that he volunteers at the World Championships every year in the med tent. It was nice to have a doctor that finally understood what I put my body through. I think most doctors have no clue what our training regiments are like, even if you try to explain, and don't always take that into consideration when treating endurance athletes. I digress. The doc went to town on my knee, twisting, bending, pushing, pulling and all that jazz to check out the major ligaments, and found nothing. Nothing. Nothing! Wahoo! The x-rays showed nothing as well. He concluded I have a bruised bone and it will take 4-6 weeks to heal, let pain be my guide, and to keep up the anti-inflammatory meds. Okey dokey, I can do that!

Week four came around and I was going bananas. I needed to move around, get some exercise, go swimming...or maybe for run? I couldn't help myself so I made the Fury go for a run with me. He was not happy. I dragged the poor guy around for 2.5 miles and his face was screaming, "HAVE MERCY ON ME!" So, I did and we called it a night. The run felt great, and I didn't have too much pain which was fabulous. I have ran a couple times over the past week and did a workout on the elliptical. I hate the elliptical. Yawn! It's so boring, but I survived.

In an effort to not have the post-race blues, I signed up for the Monster Dash 1/2 Marathon. Yipee! I'm really excited to race again even though it's not going to be much of a race for me. I'm sure it will be more of a wog than a run, but it will be fun to be in the atmosphere again. I heart races.

Speaking of races, the World Championships are this month. Guess what two lucky duckies are going to be in Kona for the big day? If you guessed the Fury and I you are dead wrong. Momma and Poppa Bear are going to be there, but purely on accident. They didn't really plan it this way, they just happen to be flying to the Big Island the day before the race so the Fury and I begged them to volunteer. If I can't be there to enjoy slathering sunscreen on all the hard bodies, then hopefully Momma Bear will. I am so excited to hear all about it, and I hope they bring pictures home of the pros. I told them to take a picture of anyone with their name on the butt of their tri-shorts. I figure that's the best way to decipher who's a pro and who's not at that race. Ha!

Other than trying to get back into working out and wallowing in jealousy that my parents are going to be in Kona for the World Championships, I have been busy with wedding stuff for my friend Jackie. She just got married last weekend and her bachelorette party was the weekend before that. It was a great time and I was completely worthless the day after the wedding. Here are a few pictures from the big day:

A double decker bus was our ride to the reception.

Stop for pictures.

I'm messy.

Serenading the bride's brother because he wouldn't dance.

Dancing with my best lady friends.

Tri On!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Part Four: I got my cow!

I ran my not-so-straight-line into the ballrooms, grabbed my T2 bag, and ran a much more controlled straight line into the changing room. Again, naked women everywhere, I know you don't really want to hear too much about that... A wonderful volunteer helped me with all the things in my bag after I asked her frantically, "Can you help me please?" I was much more worried that I was going to forget something during this transition. I made it this far, I would hate to screw it up the last 26.2 miles!

The wonderful volunteer unpacked all of my things for me. Everything. Even my mittens, ear brassiere, contacts, everything. I laughed at the mound of gear I had packed into my T2 bag. Like I said earlier. I. packed. everything. I just told her what to hand to me and she did, it was great. I didn't have to frantically search in my bag, worry that I forgot something (which isn't possible when you pack everything), nor did I have to be concerned about packing that bag back up, which, by the way, was still full of gear when I was done getting dressed. Ridiculous.

I thought I had everything, and on the way out the door I stopped to fill up the water bottles on my fuel belt. I went to grab them, and CRAP! Where are my bottles? Alright, so having a volunteer help you get dressed is not fool proof, you can still forget something. I told the lady at the water cooler, "Hold that thought, I'll be right back!" and ran back to the volunteer that helped me get dressed, grabbed my bottles out of my bag, and ran back to fill them up with water. I'm such a dunce sometimes. I finally got out the door in just over 10 minutes, and I stopped to get slathered with sunscreen.

When I grow up, I want to be a sunscreen slatherer because they are awesome. I felt like the queen having someone else put sunscreen all over me. Oops, I think you missed a spot. Just kidding. All the volunteers were great, and I can't wait to volunteer next year. I took a stop at the port-o-john and off I went onto the run course.

I have never been so excited to run a marathon. Correction: I have never been so excited to run. Period. No. Exclamation Point! My legs felt great, and my brain was puzzled. I didn't feel like I had spent the entire day working out. I new life in my legs and it amazed me. I walked through the water stops, and continued on my plan of taking a GU every 30 minutes and two chews every 15 minutes with water. I saw the Iron Cheer Crew just after the first aid station where I couldn't help myself but take a tasty banana for the road.


My tasty banana.

It was great to see the Iron Cheer Crew after coming off the bike. I gave them high fives and then it was on with the show. I was going at a good clip, but never felt like I was pushing it too hard. I wanted to make sure I had enough in me for the whole run, and I was feeling pretty confident that I was going to be ok. My nutrition plan was going pretty well. The orange GUs were tasting pretty good after all the tri berry and lime sublime on the bike. It wasn't until about mile 6 where my plan started to fall apart. I took a GU, drank some water, and everything seemed fine. After about 5 minutes of feeling like the GU was turning into cement in my stomach, I threw-up straight GU in my mouth and waited for awhile trying to figure out what to do with it. I didn't want to spit it out because I needed the calories so I swallowed it and decided that was my last GU of the day.

When I got to the next aid station, I looked at the buffet of food they were offering, and decided to try pretzels and gatorade. Hm...this tastes delicious. I love pretzels and gatorade! This is the best food I've had all day! The pretzels and gatorade sat really well and so at every aid station from then on I grabbed a handful of pretzels and a cup of gatorade and took that on the road with me. I tried to change it up a bit and tried some coke and chicken broth, but I kept going back to the pretzels and gatorade because they seemed to be working the best for me.

I finally saw Captain Cartwheel on the crushed gravel by Lake Mendota, and I was very excited to see her. When I saw her coming, I yelled, "Kimmmiiiiiiiii!!!!!" and she returned the greeting as well. I ran to on-coming traffic, we gave each other a hug and I said, "Even if we walk the rest of this, we're still going to be Ironmen today!" She laughed and said, "That's true, but we won't!" and she was right. We went on our way after I gave her a bunch of my endurolytes. After gagging on them too many times on the bike, I gave up on taking them so I'm glad I could give them to someone that would use them.

After we parted ways, I kept on chugging along. The Iron Cheer Crew had split up along the course and about every 2 miles I saw someone I knew. It was great! I kept trying to get updates on how Captain Cartwheel was doing, and I passed the time by people watching and enjoying the sites of downtown Madison and the UW campus. Elizabeth of the Iron Cheer Crew had split off by herself and was waiting for The Captain and I on a street corner about a mile or so off of State St. She didn't notice me when I ran by so I yelled out, "ELIZABETH! YOU MISSED ME!" and she stood up and started yelling, "OH JEEZ, I have to get your sign! Here's your sign! Look at her go! Goooo Rachel! She's beautiful and resilient! Keep going!!" That put a big smile on my face to think that she really thought I was beautiful after being out on the course for 11+ hours. I told her I would see her soon because we did a big loop to get back to the finish.

Elizabeth with her TNT-colored signs.

I rode on the boost that Elizabeth gave me for awhile until I noticed my right knee was starting to hurt. I didn't pay too much attention to it because I figured I couldn't get through the whole day without something hurting. I'm just really glad I didn't feel any pain in anything until the last 10 miles of the day. I know. I was amazed too. Endorphines are a beautiful thing.

The pain in my knee kept getting worse until it was to the point where it would give out when it hurt the worst. I was starting to get worried that I had done something more on the major side to it, but I kept going. It hurt the worst when I would side-step to dodge a puddle or pothole, but it didn't hurt that bad if I just kept going straight and jumped over whatever was in my way. So, I decided pothole or body, I was going to have to jump over whatever was in my way.

I came upon Inspiration Mile which is one of the best miles on the course. It is lined with signs made by spectators for their racers. After you hit the turn around, you come to a big sign that scrolls through messages from spectators to their racers. Mr. Fury put a message in the kiosk the day before for me and when I ran by it said, "R. Holzemer 1913: You're so going to beat me." It gave me a good chuckle and I thought to myself: Hell yes I am, and almost by an hour! I have a wee bit of a competitive side with Mr. Fury that I have a hard time hiding.. I saw Captain Cartwheel again at about mile 22-23. She said, "Can I give you a hug!" and of course I said YES! I'm a hugger, and so is The Captain, especially when she's racing. She said, "I'm so proud of you!" and I told her, "You're going to do this Kimmi, you're going to be an Ironman! Keep it up!" She was a major trooper on September 7th. She raced with stomach cramps that I heard started on the bike. I know your pain lady... and it's not fun.

I saw Elizabeth one more time before I ran to the finish, and the rest of the marathon was a total high knowing that I was going to be an Ironman. I could hear Mike Reilly as I got closer to the finish and I couldn't help but run with everything I had left in me. I had a huge smile on my face and tears welling in my eyes as I rounded the Capitol. I could see the lights, I could hear the crowd. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced, and suddenly all the tears of frustration, sore muscles, early wake-up calls, not seeing family and friends was all worth it. Every struggle. Every hard workout. The lonely days in the pool. Everything was worth it. No regrets.

I jumped with excitement down the entire finisher chute. I saw Mr. Fury and my family going nuts behind the barrier, and all I could hear was the roar of the crowd. I couldn't believe that I was finally there. I heard Mike Reilly on the loudspeaker as I crossed the finish line say, "...you are an Ironman!!!" and all I could say was, "Yes! YES! YES!!"

The volunteer at the other side of the finish line "caught" me and walked me around for a little bit. I spotted my family to the right of the finish area, the volunteer walked me over there and I hugged my mom. I have never seen my family so excited, and to be honest, I have never felt so excited either. I couldn't stop jumping up and down, I was so happy, and my mom said through tears, "You did it baby girl! You did it!" and I responded with, "I'm an Ironman, I did it! I did it! I got my cow!!!" I hugged the rest of my family, and then the volunteer took me to get my finisher's picture taken.
I got my cow!

She walked me around for a little while longer, told me where to get food and asked if I needed to go to the med tent. I told her about my knee and she insisted that I go to the med tent to have it checked out. I met up with Mr. Fury and the rest of the Iron Cheer Crew, everyone with tears in their eyes...even the mighty Mr. Fury himself. I, though, could not wipe the smile off my face or stop saying, "I got my cow! I got my cow!" Ok, I wasn't going crazy. The medals were little cows this year.

Mr. Fury walked me over to the food tent and then the med tent. I spent about an hour in the med tent getting my knee iced and my legs massaged by one of the massage therapist volunteers. If I ever have to visit a med tent again, I hope I'm in a similar condition as I was at IMWI. Everyone else around me looked horrible and was either puking or shivering, but I was smiling and joking with the massage therapist. I'm sure I told everyone around me that "I got my cow!" about one too many times too. My family picked up my bike and bags for me while I was in the med tent and we told them we would meet them back at the hotel.

Mr. Fury waited outside the tent for me, and when I came out, it felt about 25 degrees cooler than it had before. I forgot the blanket I was given at the finish line in the med tent so Mr. Fury gave me his long sleeve pullover to wear. I was so cold by the time we had walked to the finish line that I couldn't wait for Captain Cartwheel to come in without getting hypothermic. We met up with my family in the hotel bar, and I took a seat on the barstool. My dad told me how he had just got off the phone with my Aunt Margo and how she couldn't stop saying, "I can't believe she did it Rex. I just can't believe she did it!" Believe it! I did it! I got my cow!

My family was tired, and so was I so they headed back to their hotel and Mr. Fury and I went back to our room. Our friend Waima met up with us shortly after Mr. Fury came back to the room with a cooler full of ice for my ice bath. It took both Mr. Fury and Waima to lower me into the tub and they hung out with me in the bathroom while my teeth chattered away. After 10 minutes, I couldn't take it any longer, I had been cold since I left the med tent so I made the two of them lift me out of the tub and then I kicked them out so I could take a shower. A shower has never felt so good, and I would have stayed in there all night had it not been for the ferocious hunger brewing in my tummy.

I got out of the bathroom and Safety Bob soon came up to the room to grab his things so he could head home. He hung out for a little while, talked about the day, and then he was off. I tried to eat some food, but nothing was really tasting good or sitting well in my tummy so I choked down some cheerios and banana bread and went to bed. I woke up around 2:45 to the sound of my stomach rumbling, and then I felt the most horrible hunger pain. I stumbled into the bathroom with a bowl, spoon, knife and as much food as I could carry and sat on the floor eating cheerios and more banana bread and reading the paper. I went back to bed when I thought I had my fill and woke up an hour later and had to eat more. I left the food in there when I went back to bed. I again, woke up to my tummy at 5am and decided I was up for the day and got sick of going back and forth. I grabbed the container of lunch meat that Mr. Fury bought for sandwiches and I sat on the toilet eating smoked ham and yogurt while reading the comics. I ate half the container of ham before I decided that I should probably put it away before I got sick, finished reading the comics, and thought: I'm sitting on the toilet eating ham with a side of yogurt for breakfast. This is ridiculous. This, right here, is Ironman.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Part Three: Toe Popsicles

After exiting the water, I made my way to the wetsuit strippers. I had my wetsuit off my upper body by the time I got to them. The wetsuit strippers are like machines. They shouted instructions at me: "Down on the ground! Lift up your butt! Butt down, legs up!" They were yelling instructions so quickly, I was just hoping that I was keeping up with how fast they were moving. In the end, the stripping was successful, they handed me my wetsuit and I was on my way up the helix.

The air temperature wasn't much warmer than what it was when we first got in the water, and the concrete on the helix was mighty cold. Dang! I should have worn socks! I made the chilly run up the helix and was soon into the much warmer ballroom to pick up my transition bag and then made my way into the changing area. Women were all over the place, scrambling to get their things organized and trying to pull dry clothes on over their wet bodies. I tried to dry off as much as I could, but I still had a bugger of a time getting my clothes on. I got them on correctly, for the most part, although I did try to put my bike shorts on backwards. Whoopsies! Note to self: the large part of the bike pad goes in the back...

I managed to pop off a snap on my race belt and had to scramble to find a safety pin. Thankfully, one of volunteers directed me to a very large bag of safety pins. I fixed my race belt and then I was out of the ballroom to be slathered with sunscreen. As soon as I exited the building, I saw my family waiting just outside the door. It was nice to see them before I headed out for the long ride. I waved to the camera and then I stopped to get some sunscreen, the only exposed flesh being my legs and neck. It was the quickest I have ever had sunscreen put on me!

I ran down the guantlet of bikes, and finally I made it to mine. The volunteer was having a horrible time figuring out which bike was mine for some reason. I don't know why it was so hard because there were only about 5 bikes left on the rack by the time I got there.

So, I tried to give him a little direction:

He finally chose the right bike and then I was off to the races.

The one thing I didn't pack in my transition bag and wish I had:

My poor toes were so cold, I thought they were never going to warm up. No worries, they finally warmed completely around mile 80. I did put socks in my T1 bag, so I put them on despite feeling more comfortable riding sockless on my training rides. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I made all day! I was making my way out to Verona when I caught up with Captain Cartwheel (she had an amazing swim!). It was really nice to see her since I didn't get to say a final Good Luck! before we set off in the water. She was looking good, and like most others, was just trying to get into the groove of things on the bike before we hit the hills in Verona. We had a quick conversation as I passed, and now I cannot remember what it was about. I didn't see her again until the run.

The trip to Verona was pretty uneventful until we were just about to enter the city and I saw a guy that had to pull over because he broke his chain. I felt so bad and really hoped that the tech vehicle would stop and they could help him. It would be awful to have your race end so early in the day because of something like that.

The first big hill on the course I got a major flashback of riding the course with The Captain in early August. It made me smile, but I tried not to daydream to much so I didn't swerve off the road. I have been known to do that from time to time...

On one of the first really crappy hills where we had to climb to the top of a hill, turn at an intersection and continue climbing, a spectator ran me up the hill yelling and cheering for me. He had some sort of affiliation with TNT and was yelling "GO TEAM!" which really helped to motivate me. He dropped off from cheering when I neared the top and then in true Ms. R fashion, I dropped my chain. OH HELL! It's going to be a long day if this keeps up! I tried to pedal it back onto the sprocket, but it wasn't going to give me an inch so I had to get off my bike and fix it. It only took a couple seconds to fix, but by the time I went to get back on my bike, there were so many other racers coming up the hill, I had to wait for an opening. As soon as I got back on my bike, I had a nice coast downhill until the next set of hills. See a pattern here..UP, down, UP, down, UP, UP, UP, down. It was seemingly endless.

I had to go to the bathroom so bad, but didn't want to pull over to the side of the road. I finally found a port-o-john at one of the water stops and took a seat. Ahhh, there's nothing much more relieving than popping a squat when you've had to go for quite awhile. Marathon Laura saw me stop at the potty and yelled, "What? No peeing on the bike today?!" Ah, no thank you. It's much too early in the race to be sitting in that for the next 80 miles.

I remember hoping that I would make it to Verona before I got passed by the leader, and then having a little bit of a party when I turned at the intersection to bike into the party at Verona and the lead car had not passed by yet. It was not a full minute later that I was passed by this nice looking vehicle and then by the Mac Attack at blazing speed (aka Chris McDonald):

So, I made my impromptu goal. I soon arrived at the party in Verona where I saw the entire Iron Cheer Crew. Down in the main crowd I was able to spot my brother and sister-in-law who managed to see me at the last second. Apparently, my parents were off somewhere doing something more important ::sigh:: and missed me entirely so they had to wait another 2 1/2 hours or so until I came through Verona again to see me.

In the mass of the Iron Cheer Crew, I didn't see either Safety Bob or Mr. Fury. They had talked about staking out a spot on the course elsewhere because they were going to ride on Safety Bob's motorcycle, but I didn't see them on the first loop. I started to worry a little because I am a notorious worrier when it comes to motorcycles, but I kept on chugging along and made my way out to Mt. Horeb. I was just riding along past a cow pasture, minding my own business when a woman started to pass me who quickly turned into Crazy Lady on the Bike. She seemed normal, until she started talking to the cows. Crazy Lady on the Bike was mooing and asking the cows how they were doing like they were actually going to answer her. Ok Crazy Lady on the Bike, whatever gets you through the day. And I thought I had problems...

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful until I got to the infamous Tour de France Hill and saw Safety Bob and Mr. Fury. YES! Finally, I thought I was NEVER going to see you guys! Mr. Fury ran beside me and asked me how I was doing. I replied with an assertive, "I'm so sick of these F#*%ING hills!" He, calm as always, said, "You're doing great babe, keep it up. You look so good!" We exchanged I love yous, blew him a kiss and then I was off to finish up the ride.

Seeing those two really gave me a boost and I felt like I was flying on my way back to Verona. When I got back to the part on the streets of Verona, I saw the Iron Cheer Crew, and I finally got to see my parents. I made sure the coast was clear and then pulled over to give my mom a hug. I tried to persuade my dad to give me a hug too but he was trying to take a picture. He finally got the perfect picture (which I'll post when I get a copy of it), and then he gave me a hug. I hopped back on my bike and saw my brother and sister-in-law in the crowd and pulled over far enough to give them high fives on my way out of town.

I made my way back to Madison smiling the entire time knowing I would soon be off my bike. I got a second wind as I biked through the Alliant Energy Center parking lot and rounded the corner to the path that lead straight back to Monona Terrace. It felt great to see the terrace and when I was pulling up to the helix, I heard Safety Bob screaming my name from the top. I looked up and saw him with his face hidden behind his camera which is how we often see him these days.

I made my way up the helix and saw the volunteers waiting at the top to take our bikes. I rode up to one of them and said, "You're going to have to hold tight because I don't think I can get off this thing alone." I gently lifted my leg off one side of my bike, and ran the most crooked line I possibly could have back to the ballroom to grab my T2 bag. I honestly don't think I could have passed a sobriety test with the wobbly line I ran toward the entrance of the terrace. I was looking forward to the run because that is my true love of the three. Finally home!