Saturday, April 25, 2015

I wanted to preface this with the warning that most of the beginning of this post is pretty negative, but it does turn positive at the end if you make it that far!  :)  I wanted to get this in writing so that I can go back and remember it years from now and also to possibly help anyone else that has to go through a traumatic brain injury......hopefully NOT!

To start this post, I wanted to mention the people who were able to visit me in the hospital who helped distract me from the pain and bring me delicious food as well!  Jon, Taesha, Sommer, Kayla, Mike from work, Eric and Melissa and Cooper.   I was feeling pretty good when they visited and I wasn't even faking it!   I didn't fake it quite as well and Chris and Katie brought over Gianni's Pizza the first night. When I hugged Katie, I just broke down in tears, but she just knew exactly what to say and it was a great visit.Once we got home, it was nice to be on my couch or in my bed, but to be honest, that hospital bed adjusted to 30 degrees perfectly (they wouldn't allow me to lie flat) and all the nurses giving me meds and taking my BP every hour that I thought were annoying, it was actually reassuring and now all that responsibility was on my poor husband.  He had to get my meds ready at the right times (I was to take Keppra, an anti-seizure med for one week....thank goodness I never had a seizure, this was just a precaution, plus 3 other meds).  He had to carry everything for me, he had to be with me every second when I moved to make sure I wasn't getting dizzy, he had to walk me up the stairs and made me a sign (in Spanish) to pause halfway up the stairs because basically any exertion would send my pain and pressure in my head through the roof.  Dustin was amazingly empathetic and was (and is) such a good caregiver.  I was scared, I was emotional, I was waking up all throughout the night, and he was always there for me. The first night home was a tough one, but he did his best to take care of me.

April 1st: Happy April Fools Day!  I wanted to wake up and this was just one HUGE joke that my brain was playing on me, but that wasn't so.  I was on the phone back and forth with all my health professional friends, Kendra, Stef, Kat and Scott, and Susan about medications and such and they helped me so much.  I made Dustin go to school and our friend Kyle came over to walk with me and got me lunch from Happy Girl Kitchen.  The pains in my head were changing and I didn't like it!As I was getting discharged from the hospital, the pain behind my left eye was increasing, today it was inside my left ear and I just wanted to stick a Qtip really far in there and clean that blood out (but Dustin didn't let me, he hid the Qtips!)  Jerry brought over dinner that night (meatloaf STUFFED with mashed potatoes and lined with bacon and Ben and Jerry's ice cream)......is everyone trying to fatten me up?  Hello people, I am not allowed to exercise or get my heart rate up!  The bad thing about this day was that I started getting a cough deep down in my chest and coughing increases the pressure and pain in my head, so I didn't sleep great that night either. Lavendar and peppermint essential oils were helping a little bit, but not enough.

April 2nd: Taesha brought me a smoothie and we walked outside and although I was moving slowly, I was feeling pretty good.  Bligh brought me lunch from Michael's and we walked in the afternoon.  Otherwise my days were pretty much spent on the couch talking to family and friends on the phone with no TV, computer, texting/Facebook.  In the evening, I went on a short walk with Dustin at an elderly patient pace and then sat in the sunshine which felt good. Jack brought yummy Crystal Fish sushi that night and also a great distraction.  My cough got worse through the night and I hardly slept because every time I would close my left eye, it would be a pounding pain and pressure behind it.

April 3rd: I saw my primary MD, Dr. Hendrick this afternoon and he checked out my ear and eye and said everything looked good from the outside and set up the referrals to see the neurosurgeon and wrote me notes for my jobs saying I couldn't work (this was tough to accept, but I knew it had to be done, there was no way I could drive or be responsible for catching patients if they fell, or especially not the computerized notes that go along with it).  I had been pretty emotional since this happened (something that is common with most traumatic brain injuries), but on this day, the anxiety started setting in as well.  When was I going to feel better? When was I going to be able to do anything productive?  I helped Katie stuff easter eggs for Chris's run (that I was supposed to be running in the next day) and that at least made me feel like I contributed, but beyond that, I felt like I was wasting away days in this beautiful place where we only have 2 months left.  Thank goodness we have done most every activity and hike and been to almost every restaurant and attraction in the area already in the last 3 years, so it made me feel like I could give my body and brain a rest for a few days when I looked at it that way.  The negative thoughts kept creeping in though, and I was having horrible dreams and whenever my heart rate would get up (I would be dreaming I was running, or biking down a hill really fast, or jumping into a swimming pool and all of this in my dreams was increasing my pain, and therefore my heart rate truly would go up and I would wake up with the pressure of my pulse pushing out against my skull and I would just cry!  I had to change positions very slowly still, so I would sit on the side of the bed, wipe my face and head with a washcloth, Dustin would get me a hot pack for my neck which was very sore still, or he would heat up a blanket in the dryer and wrap it around me like they did in the hospital and all of these comforting things would help distract me.  I would try to go back to sleep but I was afraid of more nightmares.

April 4th: Dustin went to run the 5K, then brought me Ike's for lunch, then I forced him to go play golf because I didn't want him to have "caregiver burnout."  Bligh came over for a walk and then Patrick and Kyle came over to watch basketball that evening and brought Petra for dinner.  (Of course, I would only watch like one or two plays and then look the other way to avoid overstimulation).  Again though, a good distraction.  I was tired when we went to bed, I knew I had to get some sleep tonight, but again it didn't happen.

April 5th: Easter Sunday. Since I was up throughout the whole night and would probably be up at 6 AM, I planned to go to Sunrise Service at Lovers Point with Dustin.  We had to sit far away by the water because it was really loud (any loud noises were painful as well), but it was beautiful as the songs played as the sun rose, and again I shed some tears but it was great to be outside. Taesha and Marty and Broden had us over for Easter dinner and it was so good to get out of the house and go somewhere.  That night wasn't any better with the sleep and this was getting really old!  I have never had a problem sleeping, EVER, so I called the expert on getting no sleep, Sue in the middle of the night crying!!!  She was so good at making me feel better about this and bringing my anxiety down to an acceptable level.  My stress was that I didn't want to keep waking Dustin up, he needed his sleep so he could continue to do well in his Spanish school with only a month left!  So, I moved to the couch and Dustin hooked up the Cardinal game to play through the computer on the TV and then put it on the golf channel for when the game was over.  2 sports that usually I cannot keep my eyes open for (except when the Cards are in the postseason).......

April 6th: When Dustin woke up the next morning, I was bright eyed after watching the entire game and moving on to golf.....I hadn't slept a wink, but at least he did!  He didn't want to go to school, he thought about taking me to the ER, but I made him go to class. Taesha came over to babysit me as I showered and I called numerous doctors offices trying to get appts and making sure that the Tricare referrals went through.  I finally got a call back from one of the trauma surgeons at the hospital and I told him about my eye pain, I wondered if going to the eye doctor would help so they could examine it further so he said, yes, do that, so I made an appt that afternoon and Dustin came home to take me.I had decided that the Fioricet (pain med that had caffeine in it) was the thing that was keeping me awake, so my PCP ordered Ultram for pain.  I didn't want to take it before the eye appt so I could really feel what was going on, but that was probably not a good idea.  I made it through the appt with Dr. Pemrose.  He dialated my eye and checked it out and said everything looked fine as far as he could tell.  We were done with the appointment and I stood up to walk out and got dizzy (for the first time since this happened) and felt like I was going to faint.  Dustin quickly grabbed me and sat me in the chair and I passed out for about 15 seconds. I could hear him calling my name and as I awoke, all I could think was "I finally slept!" but it was short lived. The doctor came in and told him I felt like I was going to pass out again and I did about a minute later for 20 seconds.  After I awoke, there were paramedics all around me and I thought to myself, "this poor eye doctor and the staff."  They gave me options of going home, having Dustin drive me to the hospital or taking my 2nd ambulance ride of my life, so I opted for the latter.  Not fun.

When we got back to Natividad ER, we had to wait awhile to get another CT scan, but it showed that the blood was actually dissipating pretty well, so that was good news, but I still frankly felt like shit.  Instead of being tough like I was last time, I was over this, I just wanted them to give me something that would knock me out for days, that would take away the pain! You know the song, "Wake me up when it's all over, when I'm wiser and I'm older!"  That's how I felt, so they pumped me full of Dilotid and shortly after that, Dustin wheeled me in the wheelchair to the bathroom and I started puking!  These pain meds just don't agree with me, but they gave me more anyway, along with Zofran (an anti-nausea med).  Kat and Scott got back from their vacation and met us at the ER (how fun for them! Welcome Home!)  The trauma surgeon Dr. McCague decided that I could go home, so that was good, but my pain was not controlled, I just felt nauseous, but still had pain/pressure in my head!  Kat and Scott spent so much time figuring out my meds and what worked for me over the next few days.  I would have definitely ended up back in the hospital if it wasn't for them!  These next few days were pretty brutal, and Kat and Scott went back and forth between their jobs as nurse practitioner and nurse and then would come back to our house to nurse some more. They did this for a full week even though I'm pretty sure their jobs were actually a vacation from our house! They brought me black out curtains because of the light sensitivity. Kat would actually read to me at night (The Art of Happiness) and comfort me by rubbing my forehead to try to get me to sleep. I kind of resorted to my childhood at times; I really wanted to watch the original 1961 Parent Trap for some reason and I wanted brown rice and butter because that's what Mom would make for me as a kid when I didn't feel well.  So, we all four cuddled on the couch watching this movie together (yes it took 3 nights to finish it) but I think it will be a good memory we will all remember for a long time! Dustin, Kat and Scott were waiting on me hand and foot, not letting me do a thing, which is not quite my style.  I was still waking up in the middle of the night with pain behind my eye, with anxiety, negativity, tears, and they still wanted to help.  We joked that they thought they'd been there to see the worst of Angie at the end of our endurance events like Ironman, the 50k run, the 50 mile run, the 62 mile run, but those were nothing!!  I kept asking them when was I going to get better? When was I going to feel like myself?  When was I going to be able to do anything productive?  They all three stayed positive through it all and just knew exactly what to do and say to comfort me.  If you ever have to go through something like this, these are the people you want by your side.  I am never going to be able to repay them for the unconditional love and support they gave me, but I will be eternally thankful.

April 7th: We thought that switching to Percocet might help me sleep because the Fioricet had caffeine in it, so I was trying that, but still puking my guts out, so that wasn't helping the head pressure!  Scott put me on the blandest diet and went and bought out all of the blandest of bland at Trader Joe's, including ginger snaps and ginger soda which really helped! He also accompanied us to the neurosurgeon's appointment at Dr. Choi's office.  After begging and pleading with Tricare and the doctor's office, he was able to stay open later and saw me at 4 pm and spent a full hour with us, answering our questions that Scott had written down.  He explained that I might need to be back on the Fioricet because it did have caffeine in it, which constricts the blood vessels which helps to reduce the pressure in my head.  He also said to drink some tea or soda with caffeine.  Are you serious?  I have spent my life trying to stay away from caffeine, I don't drink coffee or tea, I hardly drink soda or eat chocolate and now this guy is telling me the opposite?  Wow....ok!  The most important part of this appointment was when he told me a story of a guy with a very similar CT scan as mine and he told me how miserable he was at the beginning and then a month later he was almost back to normal.  He doesn't realize how much this story helped; he gave me one thing that I hadn't had this whole time.....HOPE.  I can't wait until my May 5th appointment with him to tell him how much that meant to me.  He also said, I had to get sleep, I was allowed to take Benadryl, Melatonin, whatever, but I had to sleep in order to heal, as well as stay hydrated and not do too much other than walk.  This newfound hope gave me something to look forward to, but it didn't help that I still felt horrible; in fact as I was leaving his office, I had blurry vision and it hurt to look down, he looked at me again and said that it would get better and so we left.  When we got home, I puked my guts out again as we pulled in the garage (by this time, we had learned I just carry a plastic trash bag with me at all times).  So, I wasn't feeling better, but at least I had HOPE.

So, it turns out that Fioricet was the miracle drug for me.  I was taking it every 4 hours now and it was helping immensely.  Toward the end of 4 hours, my pain would be about a 7-8/10.  It wasn't until April 11th that my pain was staying at a 2/10, which was helping my activity level immensely. I absolutely hated taking all of these meds, but at that time, my body needed them, so what the heck!  We were walking down the hill to the water and back up, which I hadn't been able to do. Yes, it was at an elderly pace, but I was doing it!

Ashley was making some yummy meals and bringing them over, Jon made us some home made pizza, Thierry came down from San Fransisco to take care of me one day since Kat and Scott had to work and Dustin had to go run 20 miles in preparation for the Big Sur Marathon (which I could not run anymore obviously).  Mara came down from Berkeley to help me with meditation, yoga, and massage! These friends and so many more (truly sorry if I forgot to mention anyone) were stepping it up big time when I was in need.  Our families and friends from afar were amazing with their texts, calls, facebook messages, flowers, and just love and support. I couldn't believe how everyone was so understanding of my emotional and physical condition!   During one of my emotional breakdowns, my parents called and they had already offered to come out to help and I told them I didn't need them, but I DID!  My Dad had another half marathon on Sunday that there was no way I was going to allow him to miss, so they came out on April 14th, right when Kat and Scott were leaving to get back to their lives.  Perfect timing because Kat and Scott definitely got the hard shifts and helped me to start getting sleep, being able to make it all the way up 14 stairs without too much pain or pressure in my head, figured out the meds, got me to the point where I could function like a normal human being!  They slowed me down at first which allowed me to slowly progress.  I could tell when I would do too much, either with my brain or with my body, and I would just get really really tired and have to nap.

 Everyone was doing a great job of keeping me positive as well.  A very important part of my recovery process was when Tony told me I had to watch a Tedtalk which is worth it to watch even if you aren't going through this process....
https://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_the_game_that_can_give_you_10_extra_years_of_life?language=en
We were already doing many of these things, but the main thing with the Superbetter game is to try to do something each day to increase your emotional, physical, mental, and social resilience and it was working.   I tried to tally up the small progressions to keep me positive......like being able to put on my shoes without sitting down, being able to pick things up off the floor, being able to fix my own breakfast, going longer between pain meds, being able to put a towel on my head after the shower, being able to lie flat when sleeping, and eventually being able to cuddle my husband like I used to (this was a big one!)

April 15th was a big day.  It was the first day that I woke up and smiled.  I used to do this everyday and I would take a moment to be thankful for my life, but because I had been feeling so awful, I hadn't been able to even fake a smile in the morning.  I smiled this day because I finally got a restful night of sleep and I was thankful I was alive and I promised myself that I would turn this unfortunate accident into being a better person.  I would slow down, relax, take it all in.  I would appreciate every person, every flower, every meal, every emotion, everyTHING on this planet.

My parents were here at the perfect time. They continued the positivity with uplifting song sessions, nightly uplifting movies and dessert breaks, and continued to drive me everywhere, cook, clean and do laundry the entire 9 days they were here.  One of the most important things that we did together were our morning walks and we progressed slowly from 1 mile to 2.25 miles and we would do these walks in beautiful places around the area like the coasts of Pacific Grove, Monterey, Point Lobos, and Carmel by the Sea.  How lucky was I to be able to heal in a place as beautiful as this!! Wow!  How many times do you get to have your parents care for you when you are in your upper thirties?  It was a strange thing, and I felt awful at times.  I love to help people......being helped, not so much.  But I needed it and they were there for me and I obviously would return the favor if they are ever in need.  This trip enhanced our relationship for sure, it made us appreciate each other, support each other, and love each other even more and I wouldn't change that for the world.

So, today is 4 weeks from the accident.  That means I haven't driven, worked, drank alcohol, or exercised to the point of getting my heart rate up for 4 solid weeks per doctors orders.  Those 4 things were a big part of my life before March 28th, but now they just don't seem so important.  I definitely miss helping and caring for patients, I miss the independence of driving, the feeling after a good sweaty workout, and even sharing a glass or two of wine with Dustin and friends, but what is more important to me now is simply LOVE.  I want to show more love, accept more love, love more sounds, smells, tastes, touches, feelings.  I want to try to give back the love that has been given to me over the last 4 weeks.....tenfold, and I think that will help me to continue to progress.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

On March 28th, 2015, my life was literally flipped upside down.  I wanted to start a blog from the very start, but it has taken me 19 days in order to get enough energy and courage to start writing.  It was around 7:00 PM and we were riding our "lazy" bikes back home from Peter B's after watching Wisconsin's win.  There were 6 of us riding slowly (about 5 mph or so) along the bike path near the Aquarium in Monterey, CA.  Dustin and Airik were up ahead.  I was on the right side of the path in front of the other three.  As one of our friends almost caught another's wheel, he tried to swerve and ended up T-boning me near my front wheel and sent my bike forward and my body backwards.  As I was flying up in the air, I thought about how I wanted to protect my head, so I pulled up really hard with my neck and ab muscles, but it didn't help.  I hit the pavement hard on the upper back right portion of my head and then my right low back, then fell to the left and the bike fell on my left ankle.  There was no blood, no abrasions, no injury you could see to the naked eye.  I never lost consciousness, but I was confused as to what the heck just happened.  I knew I hit my head and I knew I hit it really hard.  I knew I wanted to stay conscious, I knew I was going to be ok, and I thought maybe I could walk home and thought Dustin could drive me to the hospital just in case to get things checked out.  But then within minutes, my front left part of my head started hurting pretty badly.  So, my friend Melissa called 911 and the ambulance arrived shortly after.  As they were putting me on the stretcher and putting the neck brace on me, I threw up for the first time, not very fun to do when the pressure in your head is already extremely high.  Dustin was able to ride in the front of the ambulance with me, as a very kind EMT assisted me and kept me calm.  It was a surprise to us that we weren't going to the hospital right up the street, but to Natividad in Salinas about 30 minutes away because they have a much better trauma department.  It was a long, bumpy ride as I denied pain medicine because I wanted to feel what was going on in order to tell the doctors once I got there.  I also knew it would make me nauseous.

As they wheeled me into the ER on the stretcher and put me behind a curtain, of course we had numerous people coming in to ask questions.  One of the questions was always "you weren't wearing a helmet?" and I  would embarrassingly say "no, it was stupid, I know" and I pleaded with each person I met to please wear their helmets and have their kids wear helmets even if just riding around the block.  I hope I can help to prevent this happening to someone else in the future.

Protocol for accidents like these are apparently to cut off the patient's clothes as to not cause further injury, so they cut off my two shirts (one of which I had just purchased at the Treadmill and LOVED and my new Victoria Secret bra too.....oh well, material things truly don't matter as much as health, so I am ok with it).  They took a chest Xray, a pelvic Xray, and an Xray of my left ankle since it was pretty sensitive when they were moving me around.  Then, they wheeled me in for the important one, the CT scan of my brain.......it was actually outside in a semi-trailer and another bumpy annoying ride!  After it was over, when wheeling me over the bumps, I threw up again and further increased the pain and pressure in my head.  At around 10:30 PM (thanks to my secretary Dustin who entered in everything into Evernote on our phones), the trauma surgeon Dr. McCague came in to share the results of the CT scan of my brain.  It showed a significant bleed on the front left side of my head, a subdural hematoma between the brain and the skull, so they admitted me into ICU where I had a fantastic nurse who made me feel slightly more comfortable.  She got me a warm blanket and when she wrapped it around me, it was the first positive thing that I felt and I just started crying!!!  Such a simple act of kindness that meant the world to me.

Of course Dustin was by my side the whole time holding my hand and trying to make me feel better. Airik and Melissa drove out to the hospital but they wouldn't let them in the ICU until they had everything set up and they knew that I was stable.  My blood pressure and heart rate were low, but they always are.  They hooked me up to telemetry to make sure my heart was functioning well and there were never problems with that thank goodness.  They gave me platelets to slow the bleeding (and also because I had taken ibuprofen the day before because of monthly cramps).  At about 11:40 PM, Dr. Tran, the neurosurgeon came in and we had anxiously been awaiting his arrival.  He basically said that I suffered a moderate traumatic brain injury and that I would need to be in ICU for a couple days and then in a regular room for a couple days most likely.  He actually said "you have head full of brain, it fills all the nooks and crannies, so you will be feeling a lot of pressure and pain" and convinced me that I needed to take pain medicine so I could sleep in order to heal. It made sense and Airik and Melissa were allowed in the room right before they were going to pump 4 mg of morphine through my IV.  Thank goodness because as they did, I completely hated the feeling, it was like everything was numb, goosebumpy, nauseating and it felt like liquid was running through my knees into my toes.  I asked Melissa to squeeze my toe and she just kept squeezing and squeezing throughout the next 10 minutes or so and I didn't even realize she was still doing it!  That knocked me out and that was the end of that horrific day.

They did 2 more rounds of morphine and after nausea, vomiting, and itching, they switched me to Norco but then I started itching in my eyes and mouth, so they switched me to Fioricet, which ended up being the miracle drug for me that actually worked and helped with the pain and pressure in my head.

On March 29th, at 4 AM, they did a 2nd CT scan to make sure the bleeding had stopped and it had, so that was super good news because otherwise, the neurosurgeon explained that I would possibly have to have a craniotomy surgery where they would make a large cut in my skull.  At 3:15 pm that day, a physical therapist came in to do some neuro tests (which I had already been testing myself) and balance tests and I got to WALK outside the room, whoohoooo, with a gait belt!!!  I wanted to do stairs to prepare for going home, but they told me "you are still in ICU, you are not going home right away."  As I did laps around the ICU, I was definitely the luckiest patient in there.  You can't help but look in the rooms and see patients really bad off, on all kinds of machines, etc and it made me feel so lucky to be up and walking (even if it was the speed of my elderly patients that I usually work with).

After I got moved to a regular room on the 30th, I was starting to feel better and was on Facebook on my phone when one of the doctors walked in. That's when he told me my brain didn't need overstimulation at this time and to not be on my phone, watching TV,on the computer, or reading....what the heck was I supposed to do??  He also told me I couldn't drive for 6 weeks, so I really wasn't liking this Dr. Roth fellow.  He said it was because multitasking would be hard, but I told him I promised that I was still better than my husband at multitasking even with a brain injury!  Turns out though, most of the things that Dr. Roth said (with not very good bedside manner) were true (except the multitasking), but it would be very difficult for me to drive even now with my vision issues and pressure in my head at times, as well as the overstimulation from everything that happens when you are driving.  He also wanted me to limit any exercise, lifting, or straining at all because of increasing intracranial pressure.  How long until I can run? How long until I can go to spin class? How long until I can go in a sauna or go to Refuge to purge all these horrible medicines out of my system?  We were getting all kinds of different answers from different doctors, but basically it boiled down to when I feel better and don't have symptoms.  Turns out that is at least 20 days and counting and I am craving the ability to sweat!!!

After another physical therapist, speech therapist, and occupational therapist cleared my safety (thank goodness I never had motor, cognitive,


or speech deficits!) I finally got to go home late on Tuesday, the 31st and what a feeling it was to just feel the outside breeze and smell the fresh air.  I am not a person who likes to be cooped up and I was literally starting to go crazy!

In the next few entries, I will elaborate on the setbacks I encountered once I got home, including a fun ER visit, but I want to end this on a positive note.  I've always said everything happens for a reason, and I truly believe this happened to finally slow me down and make me appreciate relaxing more and giving me more quality time with family, friends, and especially my husband.  They have shown me such amazing love and support through all of this and have helped me each day to have new small things to celebrate.  We've never had a hard time celebrating, but this has taught us to celebrate even the smallest accomplishments.  And I am also so lucky to be in the most beautiful place on earth as I endure this slow recovery process.

Monday, November 07, 2011

This was part of our race crew! Awesome!!!!
November 5th was a pretty perfect day....starting with waking up to my wonderful husband who was doing Ironman Florida with me and ending with ME announcing finishers crossing the line after I became an Ironman for the 3rd time a few hours before with a PR time! If that's a good enough race report for you, stop here. If not, below are the details :)
After training and preparing for Ironman Louisville last year without Dustin, I was very thankful he was by my side this year as we drove to Panama City on Wednesday night. Hilary was nice enough to let us stay in her condo one night because we were sitting on a fundraising panel for the Ironman Foundation for raising money for Challenged Athletes Foundation on Thursday morning. Through this, we got to meet Michellie Jones, 2 time Ironman Hawaii Champion, so that was a pretty good start to our Ironman experience. My parents drove down from Missouri and they watched us answer some questions and raise awareness for our causes, along with a few other athletes. That morning, we met Wolf and his family and a few other club members for a swim and it was a bit rough for the gulf, but glad we did it! We made it through athlete check in with no problems and my parents were nice enough to wait in the long line at the store while we got some crepes and threw some Powerbar bean bags (highlight of the weekend, I made 4 in a row and kicked Dustin's butt :).
We were lucky enough to score some VIP passes through our fundraising for the Welcome Dinner, so we didn't have to wait in line and we got to sit up front which was kind of nice! The presentations took a bit long, but Dustin and I got up on stage for being husband and wife racing together, along with a few other couples. The athlete race meeting seemed to drag on forever, but our good friend, Andre did well with the run portion (both in speaking and directing during race day!) Most of the Hammerhead Triathlon Club members doing the race were able to get together for a picture after and then we went back to the condo (Laketown Wharf, less than half a mile walk and highly recommended with full kitchen and sleeps 6).
On Friday morning, Hilary, Dustin and I went for a 20 minute bike (brrrrrr, glad my new arm warmers made the trip), and then 10 minute run and we were all feeling pretty good! We walked our bikes and gear bags down to transition and dropped them off with ease. We scoped out where our parents were going to watch from and see us in different spots, and we absolutely loved running into other Hammerheads all over the place in Panama City! We went to Panera for lunch and picked up Dustin's Mom, Becky at the airport and then drove part of the bike course where our parents were going to cheer around mile 53 and 60.
We got back to the condo and prepared for the Hammerheads and their families and friends to come over for dinner and to hang out. Our parents made pasta and garlic bread and we had some salads and dips and a little wine and beer! All of the parents/friends got to meet eachother and all the racers got to ask each other last minute questions. It reminded me of the college parties I used to throw, in a tiny place with around 40 people there and it was absolutely AWESOME to have that commradery! Susan gave us all our Hammerhead shirts and we posed for some more pictures and then tried to get to bed soon after that, but with all the good luck emails, phone calls, texts, and facebook messages, it was hard!
Warning, warning.....the next sentence might be TMI.........I wanted as much family there to cheer as possible, but I did NOT invite Aunt FLO, if you know what I mean......but she made an appearance! Why in the hell did I have to start the NIGHT before Ironman....really??!!!!! I usually get pretty bad back cramps, so I was a little worried, but I tried to ingore it and went to sleep.
Saturday, we woke up at 4:30 AM, and I showered like I always do to loosen everything up and did a little stretch and ate my almond butter and jelly sandwich and sipped on some Ironman Perform drink. Before we knew it, we were in transition, setting up our bottles on our bikes and walking our special needs bags down to the trucks. We started to head to the beach in the massive crowd and realized we had to go back into transition to drop off our morning clothes bags.....ugggg, that sucked to get back through there, but we did it and then met our families and friends on the beach by the Hammerhead flag and hugged and wished eachother luck!
Dustin and I gave eachother one last kiss as we started right in the middle of the 2800 people, pretty close to the front and I was really nervous about doing that, but I think it was the right decision! Yes, I got kicked in the face and in the stomach, and hit on the arms and head numerous times, but I kept thinking of Al with his shoulder injury, and Giselle with her arm injury, and I just kept pushing it! The 2.4 mile swim really seemed to go by fast with the two loops and I saw my parents because they were holding the huge umbrella (a must do if you want to see your spectators and them see you!). The swim was weird because at times, I would feel like no one was near me, and then there would be 20 people wrestling with me; it was actually fun! Way more fun than swimming in a pool with a black line (maybe that's why I only swam less than once a week in training, and glad I didn't "waste" my time with any more than that because I ended up with a 1:12:46 and I was happy with that! Dustin's time was 1:15:52 and he was happy with that and I was happy I beat him! :)
After an 8:50 transition (Dustin's was 10:50.....Angie 2, Dustin 0), we were off for our 112 mile bike ride and boy, the winds were not in our favor for the first half AT all! I tried to keep positive and hoping that my average on the 2nd half would be better! I had to pee pretty bad from mile 30 on, so I finally stopped on the side of the road behind a fence just before mile 50 when we were going to see our parents! I wanted to be able to smile and enjoy seeing them, instead of worrying about a portapotty! They were there along with Michael and Melanie with their signs and noisemakers and it was great to see them. Then we hit the most annoying part of the bike course with huge bumps every 2 seconds that jarred everything on my bike and in my body! I kept thinking of Jessica who was competing out there with a broken pubic bone and I was hoping she would make it through that part okay. We headed out to a turnaround and the special needs bags where I grabbed my 2nd water bottle (only had 2 on my bike at a time, decreasing the weight tremendously and I think that helped in the wind!). I saw Dustin and knew he was right behind me, so I didn't stop long. I was trying to hold him off as long as possible! I saw our supporters again and their smiles and cheers fueled me for the majority of the miles. I couldn't wait to see them at the finish of the bike! I had my Garmin set to go off every 10 minutes so I would drink my EFS and I just kept sipping water and taking a TON of Power Bar energy blasts (Cola and Raspberry) and a few Gu's here and there. My lower back was hurting pretty bad at times, but kept thinking of Brian, a fellow Hammerhead with a herniated disc, who was competing out there and I just had to suck it up! When we made the turn back towards the beach, the winds had shifted and were BACK in our face! Lovely! I just tried to keep my heart rate down in the last portion and was hoping Dustin wasn't going to catch me! I finished the bike in 5:57:31 with an average of 18.8 mph, so again, extremely happy with that, especially with those winds! Dustin finished strong with a 5:59:17 (Angie 3, Dustin 0) and we saw our parents as we came through into transition. Dustin finally scored with a faster transition (5:42 vs 7:05 but I'm blaming that on womanly problems :).....(Angie 3, Dustin 1)
I was SOOOOO happy to be on that marathon course and off that bike seat. My shark hat was getting people to cheer for me so loudly and I was LOVING it! I saw Jo, Owen, Katie, Annie, Michael and Melanie and of course smiled for pictures! It was amazing how well everyone was spread out throughout the course and it helped so much!!! Julie and Blaine, Freddy, then a little bit further Kathy and Maggie and their energetic crew giving us stats, a little further Shawn Burke handing me "lucky" cola, the energetic Heather Davenport running around everywhere, and then a little bit further at the entrance and exit of the state park, were Scott's parents, Craig and Cyndie giving me stats on how far Dustin was behind me! Then seeing all those same people on the way back for the second loop was awesome, and I knew Dustin was gaining on me!
I all of a sudden needed to hit a portapotty NOW, so I pulled on a door that was locked and I heard, "ANG!!!!"....it was Dustin coming behind me.....so glad I didn't get into that portapotty or we might have missed eachother. Instead, I sucked it up and tried to keep running with him, even if it was for a few steps. A few steps turned into longer and then he had to hit the portapotty too, so we did a side by side stop....it was pretty funny, I asked him, "everything coming out alright?" and he said, "yes, but go ahead when you get out, I'll catch ya" so that's what I did and I saw our parents shortly after and then got the special needs run bag where I grabbed Tylenol for my back cramps and vaseline for my chafing on my arms. Then I slowed down a little bit because I wanted to be running together when we saw Jo, Owen, Michael and Melanie and they were able to get a good video and pic of us! I tried to keep up, but my heart rate was getting too high, so I told him to go ahead, after we awkwardly kissed with those shark hats on top of our heads....that got some laughs from the people lining the streets. They were great though with all their costumes and funny signs. It kept us entertained! It was also great to see all the other Hammerheads out there, some feeling great, some not, but as my hips started to complain, I thought of Elizabeth with her torn labrum, who would be kicking our butts if she was healthy, and I sucked it up! All those first timers with guts enough to compete with those injuries really inpsired me!
Your mind starts to wonder during this long day, and during the hard times, I would think of those who we were raising money for through Challenged Athletes Foundation and their determination in life and I used that energy to my advantage to keep pushing forward. I saw the same supporters from Jax on the way out on the second loop and I just kept wondering when I was going to slow down, but I never did. I just kept running from one group to the next, wanting to make sure I was smiling when I saw everyone. One of the funniest moments was when this woman said to me, "Go, go, you are almost half way done!" and I said back to her, "NO, I am almost DONE!!!!!" She must have thought a silly person with a shark hat on their head couldn't be very fast! :) I averaged 9:13 miles with walking most water stations and the portapotty stop and I very rarely looked at my watch except to check my heart rate. I had no idea how well I was doing until Kathy did some math for me (I wasn't capable at that point) and I had a chance to break 4 hours on the marathon and possibly get a marathon PR (my best ever marathon by itself was 3:58), so I started trying to push it a little more, but I also wanted to enjoy myself and remember the moment. I was going as fast as my body would possibly let me, when I saw Jo and Owen on the sidelines and they were so surprised to see me! Jo started running along the sidelines with me and almost tripped, so that was hilarious! I was running faster than Jo Shott for once! I pushed it all the way into the finish line and saw our parents right at the end in the VIP section as I crossed the finish line with a HUGE smile! 11:26:42 and I would have never thought I would have been able to go that fast! Although I was 32 seconds over a 4 hour marathon, I was very proud that I left it all out on the course and I finished with a true smile on my face and saw Dustin right after as we posed for finish line pics together. Dustin ROCKED the marathon with a PR (best marathon before that was 3:50 and he ran a 3:47!)....(Angie 3, Dustin 2) and finished in 11:18:55 (Angie 3, Dustin 3!) I'll take the tie.....just kidding, he beat me, I can say it, but I am so happy we both had our perfect races!
Then we got pizza and a margarita and met up with our awesome supporters who got our bikes and gear bags (thanks Jo and Owen) and took them back to the hotel for us! We got massages and sat inside to warm up a little (never cold on the course except for after we finished). We were able to see quite a few Hammerheads after their amazing finishes and hear their stories, but we felt bad that we missed a few people crossing the finish line! Sorry Hilary, didn't know you were going to be that fast! We got our second wind and then we went back out to cheer (and eat dinner at the VIP tent). We finished before 630 PM and didn't leave the finish line until after 11 PM. They had an open mic portion on the announcer microphone for finishers at 15 hours, so my Dad announced some finishers and I did too and it was amazing to call out to first timers, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN! Wow, that was a highlight of the day, as I danced and had the crowd doing some raise the roof moves! The day was perfect from start to finish and ended with the most inspiring finish.......Jessica had to walk the whole marathon portion because of a broken bone, but she ran in the finish line shoot with tears streaming down her face and we were so excited for her to complete her first Ironman after a bike accident at the end of September. Wow! That's what Ironman is about.....pushing yourself and not knowing how it will turn out but being willing to do it anyway! It was a pleasure to share in this race experience with all 13 Hammerheads, especially my husband (and fastest Hammerhead of the day)!!!! Thanks to everyone who helped along the way and who followed us online during the race! I feel like retiring after that (kind of like Tony Larussa....going out on top), but that damn 32 seconds on the marathon portion might bring me back...........

Sunday, December 05, 2010

In the triathlon world, we give "race reports" but I thought we should start this in other facets of life too, so this is my Lasik Eye Surgery report since many of you have been asking for specifics.


I have worn glasses since 4th grade and got contacts in 7th grade. As an adult, I barely have ever worn my glasses, sleeping for months at a time in my contacts, which I knew wasn't good for my eyes and posed risks for infection and other complications, so I started looking at laser eye surgery. I got a few recommendations for who to see here in Jacksonville and decided to go with Dr. Bowden (off of Philips Hwy and JTB). He is the Jaguars team doctor for all their eye surgeries, etc, so he has to be good, right? He was also covered on my insurance for routine visits, but lasik is not covered by insurance. I was told on my initial appointment (where they did many tests and figured out that I have different size pupils, high pressure, and astigmatism) that it would be somewhere between $2100-$2900 PER EYE minus the $150 fee for the consultation. Because of my abnormalness (is that a word?), of course I would have to do the custom procedure which was $2900 per eye. An 8% discount was offered if you put it on a debit card. Also because of my abnormalities (yeah, that sounds better), I would have to do 4 different drops 3x/day, along with warm compresses, eye massage, and this scrub on my eyelids. All of this information was pretty overwhelming and I was very frustrated when I left their office, even though everyone was very polite, professional, and answered all of my questions.




At first, I decided I had wasted $150 and I didn't want to do it....it was just so much effort before and after to get the desired results. Then, while drinking wine one night with Dustin, we started comparing it to preparing for an Ironman Triathlon.....how many hours do we spend preparing for ONE day? How many things do we buy to help us get in better shape? This was no different, except for I wasn't preparing for ONE day, I was preparing for great vision for the rest of my life (of course this doesn't stop the need for reading glasses in your forties!) So, after that conversation, we decided to go for it! I diligiently did all of the above mentioned routine 3 times per day up until surgery, but I had to make a spreadsheet in order to keep up with it!






I had to go in for another pre op appointment where they gave me two more drops to do and then they only perform the laser surgeries on 1 day out of the month, the first Wednesday, so my date was set as December 1st (which I hated to miss the triathlon club holiday party that night!). I was told I wouldn't be able to sweat, or swim, or get any water in my eyes for two weeks afterwards. I was also told that I might have significant red spots on the whites of my eyes for up to a week afterwards....so much for wearing red at Dustin's ship's holiday party.






Thankfully, Dustin was able to take me in for the surgery. I could eat and drink normally the morning of, so I ate a big breakfast, because they told me they would be giving me Valuum, and I really don't respond well to drugs, so I figured I needed some calories in me. I got there at 7:15 and I was told it would be about 2 hour total process, but the lasers only take a few seconds. Dustin waited patiently outside for me. I was taken back to a big room with about 6 other people and we all sat in these uncomfortable chairs that were extremely upright as the nurse came around and put tons of eye drops in all of our eyes and gave us Valuum. I think I was the only one getting the custom lasik so they did me last. People kept coming out of the first room, being led by the nurses, with iodine all over their faces, squinting and walking really slow. It looked like a death march and I just had to keep watching it over and over! They took me across the hall to do some more tests on me. The girl was really nice and kept me calm by telling me about her lasik. She said that Dr. Bowden was a perfectionist and he wanted things done right the first time, so that's why they had to keep repeating these tests on me. Apparently, all of the screwed up surgeries end up being fixed by Dr. Bowden, so I was feeling confident about his abilities, but still a little nervous.






I insisted they only give me one 5 mg Valuum, even though everyone else around me was getting 10-20 mg. She kept asking me if I was relaxed and I really wasn't so I conceded to a second 5 mg Valuum that helped me relax a little bit more. I really never felt completely groggy like I thought I would though. I found it funny that they were explaining to a bunch of drugged up people all of the eye drops and how many times we had to do them. Thankfully they provided us written instructions too. They finally took me into the first room where they reclined me back and held one eye at a time open with these forcep thingies. This is where they were creating the flap, cutting into the cornea......it just felt like extreme pressure, like a suction cup pulling on my eyeball. The second one hurt a bit more than the first, but it was only for about 10 seconds or so, then they led me back to the main room and said that I could open my eyes if I wanted to, which scared me! I have a freakin cut open cornea here people! I sat there and waited for a long time and the nurse put more eye drops in my eyes. Then I was taken to the second room where Dr. Bowden pulled the flap open and that was weird. I had to keep staring at a red light and he kept pulling and pulling on it and then my vision went gray for a bit, then the laser lasted about 18 seconds, with little pulsations I could barely feel. Then he pulled the flap back into place, and smoothed it out and moved on to the left one. This one was a bit more stubborn, but practically the same thing. I came out of there and they said I could open the eyes if I wanted to, but I just tried to rest. Dr. Bowden came out one more time to look at my eyes through one of those machines to make sure the flap was back in place and then I could leave with these REALLY stylish goggles that I had to wear until I came back the next day for my follow up (and then continue to wear while sleeping for two weeks!). Something else they told me that day was that I couldn't wear eye make up for two weeks and I had to throw away all of my old eye make up and buy new stuff. Again, lovely for the upcoming holiday parties!






I was told to go home and sleep, not to watch TV, not to get on the computer and to avoid doing those things for very long in one sitting.....therefore why it has taken me this long to write this Lasik report! I had some pretty intense pressure behind my right eye at first in recovery and then the left and asked for some Tylenol, which they gave me and I think I took some more once I got home too. Dustin brought me home and I went to bed and he went back to work. I pretty much slept all day with no problem thanks to the Valuum. Dustin can fill in any blanks that I'm missing here.






The next morning, I woke up and I could see pretty well! I was impressed, but it was still a bit blurry, which was expected. I drove myself to my follow up appointment and they told me I was 20/20 in my right and 20/25 in my left, but that I had an extreme case of dryness and they gave me MORE drops to use. They said the bluriness and halos around the lights would go away eventually, but that I had to keep my eyes saturated at all times! Then when Dr. Bowden came in, he prescribed tear duct plugs...what!!? The girl said, "10 day plugs?" and he said, "no, she needs the 90 day plugs"......so then another guy proceeded to insert these little itsy bitsy cylindrical objects into my bottom eye lids where my tear ducts are. He said it wouldn't hurt and the first one I could feel it, but he was right, it didn't hurt. The second one (my lovely problem left eye) did hurt! He said, "this one's being stubborn, " and I was like NO SHIT....get it over with! No anesthesia or no numbing drops or anything, just another thing that sucked. But, they will dissolve in 90 days and keep it so that the moisture stays on my eyeball instead of draining out of the eye. Weird, I know. So, since Wednesday, this has been my routine: Refresh drops 1x/EVERY HOUR, Sooth XP drops 4-6x/day, Durezol drops 3x/day (steroid), Azasite drops 1x/day (antibiotic), Vigamox drops 3x/day (anti inflammatory), Nevanac drops 3x/day, and Restasis drops 2x/day, plus 1000mg flaxseed oil pill, and to not have any fans or wind blowing on me at all. Hmmmm, I sleep with a fan, I own a boat, a bicycle, I love to drive with the windows down and my AC blowing right in my face.....could this all have contributed to my dry eyes in the past!????




So, I will admit, I am very frustrated that I am not seeing perfectly already. I am an impatient person and I want it to be perfect right away, but from what I have heard from others, it will take a few weeks for the bluriness to go away. It always feels like what it used to at the end of a long day outside with the contacts, dry and a like a little buildup over the contacts, except for I don't have contacts now! I'm happy about that, and I'm sure I will eventually be happy with my eyes, but for now I am a bit frustrated that every single Christmas light I see is blurry! Hopefully by the 25th, they will be clear!

Friday, September 03, 2010



I think most of the people that are interested in reading this are my close friends and family, those who have done this race before, and those who might be interested in doing this race in the future. If you like a difficult non wetsuit swim, a hot, hilly but fun bike course, and a HOT but flat run course, this is the race for you! It also helps if you are racing with others you know, you bring along 20-30 of your supporters and dress them up in matching tshirts and big hats, supply them with cowbells and noisemakers and signs, have your husband lead them all over the course to see you multiple times, and force yourself to wear something silly on the run so even the strangers cheer for you.
Brevity is not my strong suit, so I will start way back in January when I decided to do this race! (If you want to skip to race morning, scroll down, but you won't get the full story! :)......... Why Louisville, everyone asked? It fit within my timeline of when Dustin was going to be back, so that I could do my long training right before he got back, and it was a drivable distance and close to our midwest families. I decided I would have Wolfgang Guembel, a professional triathlete from Canada (and a friend) coach me to really hold me accountable for my training. I am so glad I did this, because even when I didn't want to go out on those hot summer days, I knew I had to do multiple 100 mile rides and multiple 3 hour runs to prepare for this. I also went to Masters swim twice a week pretty religously. I logged all of my miles through Training Peaks and got feedback from Wolf. I spent a good deal of time figuring out my nutrition and trying to take in 75 carbs per hour and 1000mg of sodium per hour during my long trainings and the race per Wolf. This took awhile for my body to adjust to this (or did it ever really??)
With Dustin deployed, it made it a little easier to roll out of bed most mornings at 5 AM and train on the bike with Bob's group or Hilary or go for a run with Jo. I never really trained too much with people who were doing the race, but I was so thankful that Hilary and Jo were willing to train with me and it kept me positive and motivated, along with seeing all the fast swimmers at Masters swim motivating me to improve.

Dustin and I left Wednesday morning for KY (many jokes were made using these two letters!) We packed up the car with Margarita (my bike), ALL of my crap, including a small fridge since our hotel didn't guarantee we would get one. Dustin insisted that we not take an empty fridge, so he loaded it with beer, and to our surprise, was still cold when we got the hotel outside of Louisville about 12 hours later!
My plan for Thursday was to get up and ride part of the bike course, but when we drove it on Wed night, it was a bit intimidating with no shoulder and tons of hills and I didn't really want to ride it alone, so we decided to go for a short run that morning instead. It was a cool morning and one of those runs where I felt like I could go forever; just what I needed mentally. Then, we headed into downtown to the Athlete Check In. Seeing the Ohio River and where transition would be set up always gives me woozies, but they were excited woozies! I checked in and got my number 70 and checked in at the Janus Charity Challenge.....$5090 total raised for ALS...that's why I got the low number....so people thought I was a pro who was really slow all weekend! We met Dustin's sister, husband and three kids for dinner at the Old Spaghetti factory walking distance from the downtown Marriott where we were staying. That was fun and then headed to the airport to pick up Dustin's Dad and step Mom (from TX) Mia (our friend from Baltimore also doing the race-her first!) Dustin went out for drinks with them as Mia and I chatted about our training and the race!

I slept like crap, but Friday still was upon us, so we headed to check Mia into the expo and ran into some Jville friends there too! We went to lunch on 4th street Live food court, then headed to the Louisville Slugger Museum which was cool. Dustin went on some cave tour with family while Mia and I unwound at the hotel for a little bit. Kat and Scott (from Cali!) met up with us and we hung out for a bit.Then, it was time for the Welcome Dinner and athlete meeting at the convention center. It was HUGE, one of the biggest in Ironman history they said, people were standing room only on the sides. Mike Reilly (so glad he came to ours instead of Canada!) MC'd and motivated us and we ate loads of pasta and salad. It was nice to hang out with Michael and his twin brother who were doing the race to celebrate them both being in remission from thyroid cancer; motivation in itself right there! We saw Skat's friends from St. Louis and gave them their team shirts and then listened carefully to the athlete meeting and each race director (swim, bike and run) gave us info (our favorite was Andre from Jville, race director for the run course!) Notice I said listened carefully......that will come in handy later. After the meeting we met at our hotel bar, where my parents showed up from MO, Dustin's Mom and friends from KS, and Jo and Shivella from Jville! I decided since before all of my good training sessions, I had a few glasses of wine, why should this weekend be any different, so I drank myself some Merlot. I always have a hard time leaving a party, but I knew I needed to try to sleep, so I tore myself away around 11 PM, but still didn't sleep!

Saturday morning was the practice swim and it was a bit crazy, long lines to even get in the water. Mia and I stayed together and Skat and Dustin watched our stuff (thanks guys). We swam for about 20 minutes, then got on our bikes for about 20 and then ran for about 20....(I remembered when that was all I could do when I did my first sprint, and now I was doing that the day before an Ironman, wow!) Dustin and Skat "ran" into an underwear run, so we had to go take pictures of that spectacle, then we went to Panera for lunch with my parents, and Walt. Jeff and Kendra showed up by then (from Cali) and they helped us (along with my parents)get our bikes and T1 and T2 bags checked in. The other crew members met up to discuss their plan for the morning with the swim start/exit/transition and figured it all out perfectly! Disclaimer: There was a LOT of walking before this race since it is downtown and there's not a lot of places to park.....it's just easier to walk, especially when you have a big group.

It was SO nice to get rid of my bike and not have to worry about it anymore! Then we headed back to the hotel and got our feet up for a little bit while visiting with everyone. Mia and I headed down to the lobby to fix our pasta, but they wouldn't let us use the microwave, so the front desk girl had to fix our pasta and she wasn't too thrilled about it. Oh well, we ended up eating our usual food which we wanted to do and met up for the spectator meeting at 5 PM. This is also where the HAT contest started and boy, was it a doozie! Everyone was so decked out and I was so excited! Dustin lectured about the points on the bike course and the plan and estimated times as they all ate pizza that we got delivered. Then, we went down to the pool, where I put my feet up some more and got on my laptop to see everyone's well wishes and to try to figure out my tracker that I was wearing to test from Art Perez. Skat's hat and J and Ks hat tied for first place and you gotta check out the pics on FB of how similarly creative they were. My Dad came in a close second with his horse hat! Kat and Kendra drug me away from the party around 9:30, but once again, I slept like crap!

RACE MORNING: Sunday, August 29, 2010

I wake up around 2 AM wondering if I had saved a power gel from my bags that I could take before the swim start and I dozed on and off until my alarm went off at 3:30 AM! I woke up with extreme nervousness that I was NOT ready for. I had to force down my two boosts and a almond butter and jelly sandwich. It took me longer to get everything together than I wanted, despite Skat, J and K, and Dustin's help. We met Mia, Shawn and her parents and walked to the transition together (about a mile) as they all carried my special needs bags (thanks guys!) We got there, pumped up our tires, put our bottles on our bikes, and turned in our bags, then another 15 or so minute walk to the swim start by Tumbleweeds restaurant. The site of everyone rushing was getting me more and more nervous. See, for this swim start, people start forming lines WAY early in the morning because we jump off the docks one at a time (instead of the normal mass start in all other full Ironmans). We were lucky enough to jump in with the St. Louis group who had been saving spots since earlier. I went to the portapotty 2 times and had some extreme nervous energy. In my first Ironman I was nervous leading up to it, and excited on the day of......this Ironman I was excited leading up to it and ready to puke nervous the morning of! It was really making me mad as I stood in a bathroom line and the swim line started moving forward! I hoped that I could still find Mia, Michael, and John to start with them! Dustin and Scott tried to calm me down, but I didn't feel better until I found them again. I downed my power gel and sipped on gatorade and water, and before we knew it, the line started moving more! They are screaming, "goggles on, goggles on!!!!" then you move further down the dock, "get your watches ready, watches ready!!!!!" I see our light blue crew with their crazy hats and I'm jumping up and down wasting all kinds of energy but I don't care! I hold my goggles as I jump in the water and I'm off at 7:04 AM......not too shabby.....4 minutes after the very first people in the water.

All we have to do is swim around an island, under a few bridges and we are out, right? WRONG! I got hit and kicked a lot during the swim, the Ohio River tasted awful, and I just felt tight! It took me 57 minutes to get all the way around the island and I wasn't feeling this current that I heard about. I was able to pee about 5 times during the swim, which was good and the site of the hot air balloons was prettty! But everything else was just causing me to question, "Why am I doing this again?" Once, I had something fairly big hit me on the very top of the head.....what the heck could it have been? A branch? A beaver? A dead body? I'm going with a branch. My new, old goggles (I couldn't find the ones I'd been training in for the last month that I loved, so I used old ones) were a bit too tight and they were giving me a headache, but I needed to pick up my pace big time, so I just dug in and pushed myself to get this swim over with. I've never wanted to get on my bike so bad in my life! I was wearing JC's speed suit, but it sure wasn't feeling speedy! I kicked a bit more at the end to get my legs ready for land and just kept envisioning our crew waiting for me on the sidelines! I came up the steps and up the chute and there they were yelling, snapping pics and video, and keeping me motivated to see them again soon! 1:19:50 (just 7 seconds better than Dustin's previous time! Yeah!)

I ran into transition and got my bag (I thought they were supposed to get it for you, but they weren't ready for me) and headed into the changing tent, but I didn't change clothes. I actually started putting on my race belt on top of the speed suit (can you tell I'm not used to wearing one?)....after a laugh from a few people, I got that off and showed off my USA Kswiss tri suit that I got printed "Hammerheads for ALS" down the side and "CRAWFORD" on the butt! Dustin snuck a note in my bag that said good luck and that was really sweet! I grabbed my helmet, bike shoes, bike gloves, sunglasses, salt tabs and had the lady spray me with SPF 80 spray that I brought which worked great! I had my nutrition already on my bike, so I was ready after I stopped in the bathroom one more time.

I saw our crew as I cruised out of transition and prepared to be with Margarita for 6-7 hours! The first 5 miles went down like nothing and I was averaging 20 so I knew I needed to slow down, but then I had to STOP! My back bike bag was almost all the way off, hanging from a thread with my tubes and CO2 in it and I couldn't afford to not have that or I would get a flat for sure, so I pulled off and fixed it. I envisioned people watching from home on my tracker seeing that I already stopped, so that motivated me to fix it quickly and hop back on, but my right quad seized up as I lifted it over the seat, so I had to take a minute to shake that off! Back on the bike and I tried to remember to spin it out so I wouldn't burn out my legs too soon. I really didn't feel like I was working too hard and before I knew it, I was at mile 23 where our crew was loudly cheering! It was so fun to see them and to know that I would hopefully be seeing them 4-5 more times according to Dustin's plan was very motivating (they took four packed cars to all these spots!) One of my favorite parts of the course was going through LaGrange, a small town that fills the streets behind barricades and yells their butts off for hours! I was in my aerobars, but able to make the "raise the roof" sign as I flew by and the crowds went crazy (on both loops! that was fun!) I gave out high fives to our family and friends constantly at miles 34, 50, 74, 80! The miles just kept cruising by as I thanked them for being out there with their ever changing signs cowbells, HUGE HATS, clappers, and even Dustin had the portable radio blaring for me up one hill "Just gonna stand there and watch me burn? That's okay, cause I like the way it hurts" which became my motto for the race in the last month! I thanked every volunteer, and every cop on the course holding up traffic for us. I stopped at special needs for my only pee break on the bike other than both transitions. I knew I had slowed down on the second loop, but I wasn't about to kill my legs before the marathon. The last 30 miles were the toughest after I left THE best spectating crew ever. It was getting hotter and cyclists were pulled over everywhere trying to hide in the shade. I was SO glad I listened at the athlete meeting and grabbed an extra water bottle at the third to last aid station because the second to last aid station, they were telling us they were out of water and I remembered them saying they were spaced far apart! Oh NO! I just kept yelling "WATER!" and the very last person had one more bottle that I took. The guy next to me grunted as he missed getting any fluids, so I offered him mine, but he refused (glad he did cause I needed every last bit of it!) I was trying to do nutrition every ten minutes when my watch would go off, first Accelorade, then Perform, then Water, with a gel on the hour, clif blocks on the fifteen minutes, and salt tabs on the half hour. It was hard to keep the timing with the hills, but Wolf had told me to take nutrition in on the uphills, so that's what I did! Down to 20 miles and I just kept getting slower and slower, despite being on the downhill section.....there was a headwind and I was TIRED! One of the St. Louis crew, Dana passed me and cheered for me and I swear, I was asleep until she did that! I looked down and I was going 13 mph, so I picked it back up to around 17 and cruised for downtown. I couldn't wait to see everyone and get off this bike seat! Margarita treated me well, but I was glad to see her go as I headed into transition 2. Bike time of 6 hours 26 minutes and I was happy about that. I had been averaging around 18 on flats in training, so I was hoping for anything over 17 and it was 17.4 mph average and I was ready for that run!

I saw the crew again as I entered and exited and gave Dustin a kiss as I started on the HOT marathon course. No one knew that I was ALSO going to representing Kentucky derby style with a huge white flower on top of my ALS cap. I planned to wear it only for a little bit, but so many strangers were screaming for me, that I ended up wearing it for the whole marathon! So, they torture us with an up and over a bridge right away, but it there was a little bit of a breeze and I liked the contour change, knowing it was flat from there on out. As I cruised down the bridge, it was fun to give high fives to our family as I rounded the corner to do two out and backs. It was HOT, but the sun kept hiding behind the clouds ever so often and every time it did, I would be SO thankful. Seeing the 11 people I knew out on the course throughout the day made it much more enjoyable. I was passing people left and right and felt thankful that I was able to stick with my nutrition plan througout the bike and the run. My stomach was a little sloshy, but I was thankful that I had absolutely NO aches and pains. I walked every aid station to get two cups of water and one cup of Perform, and a gel every thirty minutes and a salt tab (215 mg Sodium) every hour. I was wearing Zoot's cool sleeves which helped a lot as I grabbed ice cold sponges and rang them out over those and then stuck more in my shirt. When I was feeling hot again, I would ring them out again over the sleeves! I saw our crew at mile 13 and smiled and high fived a bit! They take you RIGHT up to the finish line where the FAST people are sprinting in before you turn to do one more out and back. Simply torturous! Dustin ran up a little ways to walk with me through the aid station. I thought everything was going well, until I tried to ingest a power gel, dry heaved on a little girl at the aid station, then projectile vomited three times, emptying EVERYTHING from my stomach! As puke was streaming from my mouth and my nose, I looked over at Dustin and said, "Did you get a picture of that?" Jeez, the one time he didn't have a camera! I wanted proof! Well, my stomach felt better, but it made me nervous that I was dehydrated now. Dustin decided he wasn't going to tell the parents about my mishap because all it would do was make them nervous and they'd be at the finish line regardless! After a few more miles, I had to use the porta potty in a bad way a few different times. My darn stomach....my body was feeling great, no blisters, no aches, but my digestion was having a hard time. I continued to walk the aid stations and was able to get a little more in me, and I stuck with my plan of running from aid station to aid station! Kat and Scott were absolute lifesavers for being at the far end of the course when I needed it most and they kept me going with some figuring of how slow I could do the last few miles and still make it under 13 hours! I kept saying good job to everyone I passed; so many people were walking the majority of the run course (and apparently I passed a lot of people in my age group on the run). I really wasn't in too good of a mood by about mile 18, but because I was wearing that damn flower on my head and people were smiling and laughing and yelling like crazy, I couldn't NOT smile! I highly recommend wearing something silly during long races. I contemplated it this time, thinking I was now a "serious triathlete" and wanted to look "serious" but it helped SO much and what was I thinking? I'm not a serious person anyway! Even as tired as I was, I kept walking the aid stations, but running between them and before I knew it, I was running back into downtown again. Scott put Dustin on the phone and I asked him "Just gonna stand there and watch me burn?" I was faking all the humor and smiles I could just to keep myself positive. I thanked every volunteer and slapped every kids hand that I could find. I started to hear the finish line jamming and I finally knew I could do it! I started picking up the pace, but not too fast to not be able to take it all in. Scott told me where Dustin and the crew were on the finishing chute. I have NO idea what song was playing as I came in (that's something that I had envisioned being, "tonight's gonna be a good night" over and over in my head during training) but the cheers were SO loud, I couldn't hear the music! I slowed down to give my crew high fives and a quick kiss to Dustin, who I was so glad the Navy cooperated with his schedule so he could be there! I crossed the finish line and tried to pause for a picture upright before I did the symbolic ALS roll in memory of John Blais.....I didn't think I would be able to get back up,but I did! The finish line pictures were awful, but hey, our crew got so many good ones along the way! A volunteer caught me and walked with me and Dustin came running around the corner. I was SO glad to hug him and then to see everyone else! 12 hours 48 minutes and 7 seconds. I was an Ironman....for the second time! I got 23rd in my age group out of 128 women and I was in the top 30% of finishers (that doesn't count the around 15% of people that dropped out either!) On a day where people were complaining that they were one and two hours over their previous times or goals, I crushed mine by almost an hour and a half and "totally dominated" Dustin's time too (now he wants to do another one....ughhh!)

Dustin had a Pepsi for me at the finish, and I got a hot dog at the corner stand, and hugged and kissed all our AWESOME crew! I did a TV interview with WLKY that aired on the 10:00 news; I was told I got more face time than the male and female winners of the race! Ha!

What made my fundraising experience even more worth it, was the fact that a man came up to me afterwards thanking me for doing the ALS roll and for raising money because his father lost his battle with ALS. Later, he came back and introduced his kids to me and I found out that he just lost his Dad on July 19th, five years after he had been a completely healthy man. There sure is more work to do in research about ALS and it's tie to those serving in the military.

But as for now, I was the one who needed Medical. I headed to the tent where SO many others were as well. It took forever for them to take my vitals because they were so busy (but very nice) and then they started my IV. I suddenly had to pee, so they walked me to the bathroom and as I stood up, my IV shot out of my arm and started spraying blood! This scared me, and I started breathing hard and freaking out! Then, I got the chills and couldn't "shake" them. They made me change my shirt and wrapped a blanket around me and gave me HOT chicken broth that burned my tongue it was so freakin hot! They said I didn't need any more fluids after taking my vitals and just wanted me to stay there until I got warm. My tongue was on fire for sure and was honestly the part of my body that hurt the worst in the days to come....no joke....closely followed by my quads, hammies, calves, shoulders, and low back! Absolutley NO blisters, which still amazes me after my feet hitting the ground 50,000 times and my knees bending over 70,000 times in just that one day. To say the least, I was SO thankful as I headed to the finish line with Mia (after her amazing first time finish of 14:10) and our crew to cheer on the last of the competitors coming in between 11PM and 12 AM. I really felt like going to the hotel room to shower, but I forced myself to support the other athletes after they had been out there for 17 hours. The finish line was jumpin and one person made it with 15 seconds to spare and a few came in just minutes after the cut off. Wow!

I am simply so thankful for my experience and all those I shared it with, both in person, and over the internet. Thanks for being part of my journey! Now, what's next? :)








Monday, May 03, 2010

My travels started on April 22nd as I flew to Phoenix for Paul and Patty's wedding weekend, which was beautiful and fun! I am so lucky to have in-laws who I love so much, and want to go across country to see the extended family even when my link to them is deployed! It was a great weekend, and Dustin even made a suprise appearance by recorded video on the big screen to congratulate Paul and Patty and to say that he loved and missed me.....tears, yes, tears did flow.



Then, on the 22nd, I flew to San Fran to hang with Jeff and Kendra in their new home in Menlo Park....very cute! Went for a walk/run around "the dish" which was very hilly but overlooked San Fran. Then, we went to Muir Woods and hiked in the beautiful redwoods. Then, we went to a Giants Game which turned out to be VERY exciting (but the Phillies won). We then went to Thierry and Stef's for a yummy dinner and wine and met our friend Dave from Jax there too (he was in the city for work).



Thursday, after Kendra got off work, we drove to Monterey (about 1 hour 20 minutes) and it was beautiful! It was a bit cold, and very windy, but pretty! This is where Dustin might go to Naval Post Graduate school in the future. Then, we drove the "17 mile drive" which went through state parks along the coast and then into Pebble Beach. It was absolutely beautiful! We went to eat on Cannery Row at Louie Linguini's and it was super yummy! Then, we decided to drive inland to Salinas to get a little closer to the campground before the morning. We stayed at a Quality Inn an woke up the next morning for our true journey.......



The journey to Wildflower, about another hour and half was a beautiful scenic drive with mountainous but vegetative terrain, out in the middle of nowhere with no McDonalds, no grocery stores, not even a gas station close....we got into the campground and were immediately greated by free Avia visors and free gelato! Then, we drove around for way too long looking for a campsite! There were a lot reserved and then many people got there a few days before to pick out ones with picnic tables, but finally we found the perfect one and started setting up shop. Others started trickling in the campsites around us and the park was filled with triathlon campers! How cool! I figured that I would allow myself to drink on Friday, but not on Saturday, so I got started early as we played games and hung out with great friends.

Saturday morning, Jeff and I went on a short run around the campground and decided to go down to the start, where we had to make a brief stop for the National Anthem.......great moment. We ran down and up the big hill. Then later, we all hiked down the hill to the transition area. They had a free yoga class that we ladies did outside in the fresh air overlooking the beautiful hills. It was one of those priceless moments. We looked around at the amazing finish line with pizza places, gelato places, even eggroll places, just to name a few. I kept saying, tomorrow after the race, I want that....and that.....and that.....Kendra and I sat at the finish line and cheered people in for awhile. Later, Scott, Kat and I went on short bike ride to test out Sunshine (Kat's bike). She seemed to be working well. Then, we all made dinner (I was still able to make my pesto orzo on the gas stove Jen brought, but then Jeff and Kendra were also making these yummy looking steak kabobs. Now, I really haven't been eating much meet since January, and no red meat, but these looked so good! So, of course, I had 5 pieces! Prolly not a good idea...more about that later. I can't NOT mention that we started hearing cheering from afar and it was coming closer. We ran down to the road, and we saw around 30 naked guys and girls running through the campgroud! It was hilarious! After some more good conversation around the campfire, we retired into our comfy tents.....didn't sleep great, but pretty well considering it was tent camping!

Kendra and I woke up on Sunday morning, ready to go! We started biking down to the start, and somehow I realized that I didn't have my run number with me, so I had to go back and get it! We had to bike down the hill that we would later have to bike up right out of transition. My hands were burning from squeezing the brakes by the bottom of the hill. We set up our transitions and then just sat and waited as our waves didn't start til 10:25 and 10:30, so we waited and waited!

As my wave started, I got kicked in the face soon after the start, giving me goggle problems that I struggled with the whole swim. I wore my neoprene cap again which helped for the cold water around 60 degrees. But, you can't hear with those things on, so when the kayakers were trying to re-direct me, I couldn't hear them until they tapped me.....three times! Yes, the siting was horrible! I was siting off the buoys that were the ones coming back, but I was still on my way out! I swam way out of the way three different times. Plus, I was dry heaving in my mouth, from the food I ate the night before mixed with the rougher waters than expected. When I got out of the swim, I was hoping for under 30 minutes, but totally expected to see 45 on my watch due to all the problems, so when I saw 33, I was happy with that! T2 was probably the longest T2 ever; fine motor skills just wouldn't work correctly! So, I was pissed even before having to bike straight up Lynch Hill out of transition! Luckily, Sunshine wouldn't even go in her easiest gear (sense some sarcasm there?).....after having some aero bottle issues and issues getting my gus open, I had to laugh out loud at how much was going wrong in this race. Obviously, the gearing was the most bothersome, but I decided to laugh it off and have fun! As many people were walking their bikes up a few of the hills, I was going around 4 mph....smokin! I couldn't wait to get off the bike and onto the run! I saw our support crew a couple times on the bike, so that was really helpful!

As I started the run, I was passing people left and right. Hardly anyone was actually running up the hills because they were so steep, but I wanted to try to run the whole thing. Sometimes, I probably could've walked faster, but I stuck with my plan! I do believe only two people passed me the whole run! I sure wasn't flying, but it was SO hilly and SO hot....not humid though, thank goodness! I ended up averaging 8:53 miles, so I was happy with that.

At the end of the race, we had to run down the hill we biked up.....yuck....my knees did not like that, I would have rather ran up it! I ran into the finish line with a time of 3:15 on an extraordinarily hard course! Kat and Scott greeted me at the finish line and took pictures and got me some pizza as we waited for Kendra! After she finished, we got some gelato and called it a day! I was so thankful for my wonderful friends that day, but of course I missed Dustin. Kat kept him updated with emails though!

If you are a triathlete or a camper, or both, you HAVE to experience Wildflower SOMEday! I didn't wash my hair, body, or even face all weekend long.....no makeup, hardly any cell phones except to send an occasional pic to Dustin, and a connection to all the other people camping that I can't explain! It was a unique, fun experience that I will never forget! Now, onto that training for Ironman Louisville in August!

Monday, March 29, 2010

I refused to set my alarm beginning with a 3 something, so I woke up at 4 AM sharp on March 27th, 2010! Usually I am not in a good mood anytime I have to wake up this early, but today was different! I was in Southern California with all my old friends, getting ready to embark on my first triathlon on the west coast! My early morning So-Cal supporters, Jeff, Kendra, and Kat and I left Tony and Sue's house at 4:30 to head about an hour north to Oceanside! They were extreme troopers getting up that early and helping me load my bike and all my goodies into the car! Thanks guys! We traveled up the 5 Hwy to Mission Avenue and drove toward the Oceanside Harbor where two days before Scott had taken me to the Expo. When I first saw the swim course buoys I got a little nervous, but it was unique in the fact that we were swimming inside a harbor with tons of boats around us! Scott suggested that we drive around the harbor to look at the swim course and I am so glad he did because it made me feel much better. For some reason in my head, I was imagining the freezing Pacific ocean with ice crystals and huge crashing surfable waves, but it was pretty sheltered! Scott took a video of me and the future swim course to send Dustin and I checked in and picked up my packet at the Expo. It was sponsored by Rhoto Eye Drops, so luckily they gave me two boxes of those.....yipeeeee (sense the sarcasm?) The back pack was cool and the shirt was a white dry fit with cool design. We also got a finishers hat so I liked all that! They also had a 10 minute repeating video of the race directors talking about specifics of each portion, so that made me feel more prepared as well. Anyway, back to the drive on race morning.......I was all calm, cool, and collected until we pulled in the parking lot and saw everyone with their bikes (yes, we took our bikes there on race morning, no bike check in before, which actually was nice). So, Kat not only let me borrow her bike "Sunshine" that she rode in Florida Ironman, but she also pumped up my (her) tires. (I did go on two bike rides after getting here on Wed on Sunshine before the race and she seemed to fit me perfectly even though we didn't even change one thing about her! Pretty crazy, I know! ) So, I saw some other racers riding their bikes toward transition so I just followed them, but no one seemed to know where they were going and it was dark, so I just kept following some other people who finally knew where they were going. We were cruising at slow speeds along this bike path and all of a sudden it turned sharp and there was a steep incline.....had to get off my bike and push it up....already! Wow, the race hadn't even started and I was pushing my bike up hills! Yikes! I set up my transition with the other 2300 people doing the race and immediately got in the bathroom line. I called Jiea (who had said she wasn't doing the race because she broke her foot about a month ago, but she tore off her cast and decided to do the race...guess that shows how good of race I was about to be a part of). We waited in the long *** bathroom line and caught up on our latest life happenings. Then, I turned around and saw a familiar face. I said, "Hey, I think I played basketball with you about five years ago when I lived here, what's your name?"....."Mistiza, oh yeah, Angie!" It was hilarious that we ran into each other there, then it turns out we were on the same bike rack, the same swim wave start, entered the water together, and I saw her on the bike and after the race. Long story short, we are now friends on Facebook.....small world! I saw Kat, Jeff, and Kendra before the race at the edge of transition and it took Jeff and Kat to get my wetsuit zipped up! I ate a bag of prunes and I was ready (not really, just posed with them to pretend.....that wouldn't have been a good nutrition plan.) However, my nutrition plan from Coach Wolf was 70-100 g of carbs per hour on bike with 1 liter/hour of liquids, plus 60-70 g of carbs per hour on the run, stopping at each aid station for 2 cups of gatorade and 1 cup of water, plus 2-3 salt tablets every hour on bike and run. This was TONS more than I have ever consumed before on races, but I decided to trust him since I am paying him to coach me and he's a pro so he probably knows more than I do (about triathlons anyway). Plus, this would be great practice for Ironman Louisville in August. So, we enter the water, and even though I borrowed the neoprene cap from Jiea, it was freezing *** cold! It was 58 degrees and I think my face went numb in two seconds! Nothing else really bothered me too much as I started to get into the groove. Then, everyone stopped! What the heck was the hold up? I couldn't hear anything with the neoprene cap. A guy on a surfboard was talking to the group but I couldn't hear him. I asked the girl next to me and she said he was warning us about rocks on our right side. I said, "so the race hasn't started yet?"....that got some laughs.....well I had no idea and that wasn't in any of the written material or the video. I have never done a tri that we didn't start the swim as soon as we hit the water. I was a little embarrassed, but I took out my frustration on the swim with a faster start than I have done before. I usually kind of wait back a little, but I decided to go for it when the gun sounded. I was feeling pretty good (trying to do my newly learned breathing on both sides....notice I said, TRYING....the majority I still breathed on my right....sorry coach!) When we turned around to swim back, I couldn't see a thing! The way the sun was hitting the water, I couldn't see buoys, people, nothing, so I just made sure I didn't hit the rocks on one side and the docks on the other. I got hit and kicked a little (actually, first time that I ever had my goggles readjusted by another swimmer). The swim finish snuck up on me, turned the corner and they helped me up the ramp 40:45....a PR for a half ironman swim without a current (Augusta was 29 minutes but I really don't count that). I was happy with that, but I'm not going to be happy with my pictures because I was trying to get the snot off my face (lovely getting a cold two days before the race). T1 was good except I couldn't get my sunscreen to spray, so I was pissed and threw it down. As I sped off on Sunshine, Kat and Jeff and Kendra were right there to snap pictures and cheer! It was great! Then, there were a lot of little windy turns but pretty flat for the first part, until we headed into Camp Pendelton, a few ups and downs (for us Florida people anyway, for Cali people it was still flat). I remembered I put a small packet of sunscreen in my bento box, so I got that out at about mile ten and put it on my face and shoulders at least because there was no shade on the course at all! It was such a beautiful ride, the ocean on one side and the huge green vegetative mountains on the other. It was probably the most scenic bike ride I have ever been on, but I also had to remember to focus on the road and the fact that I was "racing." I was feeling pretty good on the ride, sticking to my nutrition plan, and encouraging other riders as I passed them and as they passed me. Usually, I would pass them on the flats and then they would pass me on the uphills, then I would pass them on the downhills. I kept wondering when I was going to see the monster hill. Because most of the bike course was on a military base, no one could get on to ride it before the race, but I heard it was around mile 35. As I turned a corner and started heading into the wind, it was so beautiful! I was busy taking in the scenery and realized that holy ****, we had to go up that thing! I could see people pushing their bikes and I was still far from the peak of the hill. I told myself I would not push my bike up if at all possible. I was steadily making my way up, but realized that some people who were walking were sticking pretty close to my same speed, 4 mph! Yes, 4! I made it up the biggest hill I have ever biked with my heart rate racing, way steeper and longer than Sugarloaf in Clermont. We had to do two more similar hills, but they weren’t quite as steep. There was a downhill portion that had a no passing rule with a speed limit of 25 mph because it had some swirly turns in it. They also had barricades put up on one of the curves! Crazy! I could feel my stomach doing some weird things and I knew I would have to stop on the run if I didn’t on the bike, so I pulled over at one of the portapotties about 5 miles from the finish. I didn’t want to ruin possibly breaking 2 hours on the run, so I went then! As I approached transition, I could NOT wait to get on the run. I was looking forward to seeing all my friends and hearing them cheer! I had a pretty fast T2 and was able to get the sunscreen working thank goodness (again, no shade on the run). I started off the run at 8:30 pace, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to maintain it. My goal was to do 9’s and stick to my nutrition. I walked every aid station to get a full cup of water and full cup of Gatorade each time, along with a gu, or some chomps, or some sports beans (which I decided I don’t like anymore) to add up to my 60 g of carbs per hour. We ran along the pacific ocean most of the time by the Oceanside Pier, 2 down and backs that were about 3 miles out and 3 miles back, with a couple of inclines, but pretty flat. The cool ocean breeze was blowing most of the time and I couldn’t help but think that I loved feeling this instead of the freakin hot/humid wind in Florida. Some racers were saying how hot it was, and all I could do was laugh! I don’t think it got over 75 degrees! My cheerleaders saw me just a little out of transition and then 3 more times! It was great they were out there to hold me accountable for my pace I was trying to keep! I guess I was going faster than they thought I would, because almost every time, I had to yell to them to get their attention! Susan even did a cartwheel and some kind of cheerleader jump for me! Kat was yelling loud and taking pics and video and sending them to Dustin! Amy was taking pics! Jeffrey was yelling and running up beside me over and over again to try to get a good pic! Jen Merlo was giving me high fives and looking cute as usual. Dave and Molly were out there yelling, but I only saw Dave once for a second. He still has to work on his cheering voice! J Kendra ran with me for just a little bit around mile 11 which I needed so badly! The mile before was a 9:30 and I felt I was slowing down a bit. She helped me to pick it up and then Jeff and Kat also were trying to run beside me to get pics toward the finish, but they couldn’t keep up with me because of the crowds of people. That was pretty funny, I felt like I was racing them! As I turned that last corner, I still wasn’t sure that I was making it under 2 hours on the run because I was pushing the lap button on my watch for every mile and I didn’t know how long I had been on the run course, so I picked it up a little bit. I really left it all out on the course and I even felt like puking after the finish , but I held it in! When I found out I had done 1:58 on the run, it was a great feeling! I got some pizza, soda, Gatorade, got a massage, picked my bike and my favorite blue seventy transition bag up, and we were on our way. Kat was nice enough to push the bike, and Susan carried my packed full bag and we were on our way to eat Mexican food and margaritas! I told them I couldn’t wait to be doing that race next year with all of them as fellow San Diego residents.