The More Difficult the Victory, the Greater the Happiness in Winning

To put things simply-this weekend was everything I wanted it to be and so much more!

Katie finished her Ironman!!!!!

I won the Aquabike!

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And two of my lava teammates also shared the podium with me, Chrissy and Carolyn! We swept the Female 25-29 Aquabike podium. And Julia also got fifth!

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Carolyn and I (holding Chrissy’s award as well).

My only goal this weekend was to win. And I did it. The swim start was a little interesting…they never shot the gun so they just told us to go. And I started swimming and nobody came with me. It was a little disconcerting being alone out in front, but I just kept going. I had to dodge tons of swimmers in previous waves. Came out a little slower than I would have liked (1:02). It was basically a ping pong table out there in the Russian River.

The first loop of the bike was gorgeous. It was cool and all the vineyards were in a misty haze. That quickly evaporated on the second loop as temps scorched. Rumor was that it got up to 105 on Chalk Hill. Not sure if I believe it, but hell might have been cooler than it was on Saturday.

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Smiling on the bike.

Overall, I really just could not be happier. It was awesome seeing Katie go through her race. It’s an array of emotions and challenges going through an Ironman, and she conquered them all-including the heat. It is a day that I will never forget and I got to share it with so many amazing people. Winning was just the icing on the cake. Thank you all for your unwavering support and cheering. Thank you mom for coming up this weekend and being there for both Katie and I. Thank you Terri for organizing this whole weekend and being the best cheerleader in the world. Thank you everyone who came up to cheer from close and far! And congratulations to everyone who competed this weekend!!! So many people accomplished serious goals: completing an Ironman for the first time, completing a half Ironman for the first time, the longest swim of their life, the longest bike ride of their life, and the list goes on and on. I am surrounded by some truly supportive people and I love you all. Thank you!

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Day 3: 8 Fears

Day 3 of the 10 day challenge is listing 8 of your fears. This was a tough one. I wouldn’t say I have very many fears. I’m far from “fearless” but feel like I can control a lot of the things that I’m afraid of.

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1. Disappointing others.

2. Dying in a car crash. I have nightmares about this a lot.

3. Descending mountains on a bike where I can’t see where I am going.

4. Not having any direction or purpose.

5. Getting hit by a car while riding my bike because breaking your head open is not fun.

6. Buffets. People touch that food and sneeze all over it. I don’t want to eat that disease infested food.

7. Failing.

8.  Not being good enough.

9. Dying alone. This is my biggest fear.

Is Too Much Good News a Bad Thing?

So many good things have happened in the last week that I am sort of starting to wonder whose life this is and how this can all be happening so quickly…

First-It’s 2 months out until Ironman Lake Tahoe! Oh, crap.

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The swim start last year in Tahoe.

Next-I have been looking into requirements for becoming a USAT certified coach (USA Triathlon for those who do not know). They said that they look for applicants with experience in the field and also being involved in councils or committees. So I found out that California is considered to be in the Southwest Region, sent an email off to their administrator and almost immediately heard back that they were having a meeting the very next day, they were going to ask how I could get involved and have me apply….fate?

Some other very exciting news is that I somehow, accidentally sent an email to a Head Coach for a swimming program at a Division 1 School and somehow finagled an interview for an assistant swim coach position. The Coach said my ears must have been burning because they just happened to be looking for an assistant coach when he got my email. I am going to be keeping the location under wraps until I know more about the opportunity. Is this real life? Why is this happening to me?

I also have heard back from the same school about getting involved with their triathlon club and possibly another coaching position for their cycling team. Does this really happen to people? Why is this happening to me?

Today, I got my brand, spanking new Roka wet suit. I am so excited to try it out this weekend at the Full Vineman Aquabike. My bib number is my birthday 1016, fate again? You can follow me or other athletes participating in the event here: http://gulfsporttiming.com/results.php?rid=hB8JWq&race=Vineman#/results::14053887421250. Last year I got 2nd place in my age group and a very fancy bottle of wine (which I still have not had the pleasure of sampling….perhaps this weekend).

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Last year with my wine bottle trophy.

But most importantly, one of my bestest friends in the whole, wide world, my very own Katiepants, will be competing in the full Vineman this weekend. After narrowly missing the bike cut off at Ironman New Zealand, Katie has re-dedicated herself to another 5 months of training for an Ironman and will be finally accomplishing her dream. I can’t wait to see her out there, coming in on her very last loop, running alongside her and giving her the Vineman medal, just as she did for me last year after my first Ironman in Lake Tahoe. There are no words to describe how proud I am of Katie for all the sacrifices she has made over the last year to follow her dreams and make them a reality. It takes serious guts to train for an Ironman. It takes something else, a whole lot deeper, to do it again. I know you are going to do amazing out there on Saturday, Katie! You will be an Ironman!

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Katie giving me my medal after Ironman Lake Tahoe last year.

Good luck to everyone else competing at Vineman, Barb’s Race, the Aquabike or Ironman Whistler this weekend. Remember-YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU KNOW.

For anyone interested in taking the plunge and getting a Roka wet suit, I have a discount code for 10% off. Follow my blog and message me for details! Contact info is on my contact page or email me at barb2thewire@gmail.com.

P.S. Somebody pinch me right now.

Death Ride Recap-You Are Stronger Than You Know

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 The Death Ride Crew.

As many of you know, I was terrified going into Death Ride this weekend. But I had no idea what was in store for the day. This was a completely different experience than last year. The morning of the race, my heart rate was up at 115 before we even started. My resting heart rate is 60. I was nervous.

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Feeling nervous before we started.

We began rolling a little later than originally planned and the weather forecast promised temperatures in the 90’s. You wouldn’t know that as we started out and immediately started descending in the cool morning. I tried to remember this feeling and store it for later in the day when it would be boiling.  As we started up the first climb, it was not as steep as I remembered it. I was going a lot faster than I expected and was freaking out that I was going way too hard and that it was going to catch up with me later. But I figured if I was going to die, then I was going to try to go for as long as possible.

At the top of the first climb, I stopped and had a bite to eat. The year before, we had kind of all stopped at the rest stops, checked in, and made sure everyone was doing ok. I looked around and didn’t see anyone. I hung out for a little while but then continued on down the first descent. This part was breath taking. And I was flying down the descent which is not normal for me. I just felt on top of the world.

Going up the second climb, I started getting lots of comments about my Ironman Lake Tahoe bike kit. One woman said that I had to run up the last climb which spans 20 miles. I told her it wasn’t long enough because it wasn’t 26.2, a full marathon that is at the end of the Ironman. There were people on fixed gear bikes and people with very interesting choices in dress ranging from tutus to Hawaiian t-shirts and feather boas. At the top of the second pass, I was feeling really strong and wanted to just keep going, so I did.

It was on the way to the top of the third pass that things started to go awry. This seemed to be the hottest part of the day coupled with arguably the toughest climb (as you can see on the elevation map below). The grades of climbs are the steepest on the way up the first side of Ebbetts which varies up and down to a 10% grade. You could immediately see these sections when the road would just hitch up like a wall in front of you and everyone would stand up on their bikes.

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Since it was so hot,  I started pouring water on myself. With about 2 miles left to go on the climb, I was almost finished with all the water in my first water bottle and reached for my second which had Osmo in it. Then I dropped it. It was on one of the steep parts of the climb and I knew that if I stopped I wouldn’t be able to get back on my bike, so I left it. With only a couple drops of water and a while to go, my confidence started slipping.

When I finally got to the top, I was dehydrated and behind on calories and a little bit deflated. This was it. This was the end. I sat down, had some Ramen, a Pepsi, some cold water and re-grouped. It was going to be ok. I stuffed ice down my jersey and hopped back on my bike. Sam had caught up with me so we started the descent together. But in true fashion, I chicked him on the way down. It was amazing how many people I passed throughout the day. I am not really that strong of a biker, and maybe it was because we started so late, but it was fun chicking so many people. I even tapped out at 50.6 mph at one point during the day!

The 4th climb was graced with overcast skies and was a mostly pleasant climb. Sam, Carolyn and I were all sort of staying together at this point and planned on stopping at the bottom of the 4th climb for some lunch. After stopping and having a lovely turkey sandwich, Sam and I started an epic pace line which dropped most of the people who joined in. It’s a long 15 miles back to where we had parked on the way over to the 5th and final pass and it was extremely hot. Chrissy said that her bike computer reported a high at 98 degrees. No, Nick Lachey did not show up and start serenading us.

On the way up the 5th pass, I couldn’t believe that I was actually going to make it. Since Ironman New Zealand, I have had one 4 hour ride, with mainly 2 or 3 hour rides here and there. I should not have been this strong or able to do this. But I did it. I made it to the top and got my ice cream. 125 miles, 15,000 feet of climbing. Done and done. Never again? Maybe. My base of training is still there and I’m in a completely different place mentally and physically than last year. I just have to build on top of that.

I want to give a shout out to one of my very best friends, Terri Stearmen. Leading up to the race, she was giving me nothing but positive words and kept telling me that I could do it. I especially want to thank you, Terri, for helping me make it to the 5th pass of this race and always believing in me. We limit ourselves based on what we think we can do, but the body is able to accomplish so much more than we know. On the first climb, a new mantra popped into my head “You are stronger than you know”. And I kept saying that to myself throughout the day. Again, I think Death Ride has proven to be a turning point in my season and I have renewed energy going into the last 10 weeks leading up to Ironman Lake Tahoe.

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And the goods.

10 Day Challenge

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After having so much fun doing #100happydays, I want to do another challenge. So this one is another popular one circumnavigating the internet. It is 10 days, of 10 blogs, of various things about your life.

Day 1: 10 Secrets

1. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

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2. The texture of mayonnaise freaks me out.

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3. I want to swim across the English Channel.

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4. If I could be anyone, I would be Anthony Bourdain. He gets paid to travel the world and eat everything possibly imaginable. Where do I sign up?

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5. I want to be fluent in another language.

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6. Tomatoes gross me out but I will eat them in bruschetta, caprese salad, salsa and other similar things. I don’t know why.

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7. I still really miss Galway and my friends from studying abroad.

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8. I am a cat lady.

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9. I could live solely on sushi.

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10. Sometimes I am scared Tahoe was my one shot at qualifying for Kona, and I will never get there again. But then I train harder.

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What is your secret?

Moving sucks

Life has been crazy, maybe as always. Over the past month, I had been scrambling to find an apartment, and at the last minute, my dream apartment came through, in my ideal neighborhood of San Francisco: North Beach. Hello, pizza! A triathlete has to carbo load, right? But I had to travel to Atlanta for work over the last week of June, only giving me the weekend to completely pack up and move. I donated as much stuff as possible, downsizing from exorbitant amounts of closet space to a teeny, tiny hallway closet and a built in book shelf in my new room in San Francisco.  After one of the hottest, record breaking heat waves in my recent memory for San Francisco, paper cuts, sore arms, a 3 floor walkup with no elevator, a mini break down, and with the help of some incredible friends, I found myself in the city I had never wanted to live in. That’s right, never. The truth is, I’m not really a city girl. I like wide, open spaces, real grocery stores, being able to drive my car, and I’m a really light sleeper so the constant traffic, street cleaning and sound of the tug boats in the middle of the night really isn’t my thing. But no way in hell am I a country girl either. I’m just a small town girl, livin’ in a lonely world…you know it. But I was drawn to living in the city and having the “full experience while I’m still young”. So really, here goes nothin’.

Then, just a few short days in my new place, I had to jump back on a plane and go back over to the East Coast again, but this time to Philly for the 4th of July weekend. Let me tell you, my body is not happy with me. I don’t know when bed time is, or what meal I should be eating when I wake up, and I really have been hallucinating on what time it is. I set my alarm for a 6 am work out on Wednesday in Atlanta, slept through it and woke up at 8:45, and just barely made it to work.

So life has been crazy and I haven’t been getting in all the working out that I should be at this point in my training. I had a talk with my coach, and he ensured me that there is still time to train effectively for Tahoe. My run is coming back, at an exponential rate and it’s really, freaking exciting. This weekend is Death Ride and I am terrified. I did it last year, but I just don’t feel confident going into it this weekend. Last year, it was the turning point in my season where I first realized that ‘Hey, I can actually do an Ironman.’ But this year is linked more to something akin of dread. Part of it is mental, but I’m also not nearly in shape where I want to be right now. So 3 passes, 5 passes, handing out beers to other teammates? Who knows. But you do get ice cream at the top of the 5th mountain….

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Last year at the top of the 5th hill.