Monday, September 24, 2007

It's almost been a month since we completed the Ironman, and sorry to say that I haven't kept this updated. We were getting back in the swing of things. We met with our Team in Training group the Wednesday after and shared our medals and pictures with them. We had a "Return to Lazy Football Sundays" party the Sunday afterward which was a lot of fun. We kind of had an "open house" from 1 PM when the games started until 11 PM when the games ended. I had barely had a drink of alcohol since the last weekend in July, and decided I needed to catch up in one day I guess. It was pretty cool though, because people dropped by all day and night to tell us congrats and hear our stories. Many of them wanted to toast with a glass of wine, so I couldn't turn them down, could I? It was a fun evening!

The day before that was a 5 mile beach run that we were talked into doing. I envisioned it as being a nice little jog on the beach with Dustin and about 2000 other people. Well, then Dustin got competitive with some of our other friends and they took off! I, of course, couldn't keep up with them, but then I couldn't go "slow" either! Now, I had to "race" a little. I stayed with a couple girls for almost the whole race. My legs felt extremely heavy and my foot hurt a little on the last mile (running on sand isn't the greatest idea 6 days post Ironman). Of course, Dustin and I were wearing our Ironman shirts and hats, and when I finished just behind the girl I was trying to keep up with, I walked over to her and thanked her for pushing me, that she was awesome. She looked at me and and then down at my shirt, and said, "NO, you are awesome!" I wasn't sure if she realized I did do the Ironman so recently, but either way, it was neat to get that respect. I ended up getting 12th in my age group out of 80 something, so that wasn't too bad. The best part of the whole thing was they had free Carrabba's food (and beer for Dustin) afterwards.

Not really much else to mention on the working out front, other than I lifted weights a few times, did Yoga a couple times, the elliptical once, and we ran 5 miles the other day, then a couple days later went to spin class. I was having a nice time relaxing and not feeling like I HAD to do a certain workout. But then came along my wonderful husband's grand idea! He somehow talked me into doing a half ironman distance triathlon October 20th in Clermont (hilly).

So, we did a 40 mile bike and 4 mile run yesterday morning (so much for our return to lazy football sundays!) We were home in time for football though. We really should be swimming or doing something tonight, but Dustin is studying and I am getting other things done.

I guess I decided that I could do the half ironman tri the other night at spin class when Bob's music was jamming away. I remembered how it used to feel when we were pretending we were going up awful hills. I would imagine how the Ironman bike course would feel and I always had positive images. Now, the other night was different; I now knew how it felt out there on the bike course and was able to envision myself back on those hills with everyone screaming my name. I actually had a huge smile on my face in the middle of spin class, pretending I was back on the Ironman course! Then, Bob said, jokingly in his microphone, "You are an Ironman!" and that was awesome! I was re-living the experience, an experience that I always envisioned as being awesome, but not knowing that it was going to go beyond that.

What was crazy about my visions was how true they ended up being. I wrote out my "perfect race" in my journal on the plane ride to Wisconsin. I wrote a lot! I wrote many details and it was probably over 300 lines long. Of those 300 lines, about 290 ended up being true! That is crazy! I would definitely recommend doing that!

We also watched the video (Travis' version) and it was awesome and we re-lived the day. Of course, it seemed so short on video-we wanted it to last longer! It was funny to see what our family went through in trying to find us after coming out of the swim. A couple times, they thought they saw me and shouted and shouted, but it wasn't me!


I know I keep saying this, but we cannot believe how much support we had through this whole process. We owe everyone BIG time! We truly could not have done this without all of our family and friends (and each other). I am not afraid to ask people for help when I think I can't do something on my own. That's why we needed all of you from day one. We honestly couldn't have made it through this "process" without you, so thanks! You know who you are, you training buddies, instructors, and friends, you text messagers, phone messagers, and email messagers for good lucks and congrats, party attendees, those who followed us on the website on race day, and of course, those who literally followed us around on race day in Wisconsin. We will never forget your support and we owe ya!

Now, on to what I am so excited about! I was hoping that our Ironman experience would inspire some of our family to start exercising more and it has! I sent out an email shortly after trying to convince many of our friends and family to do a half marathon in St. Louis in April. It worked! My Mom and Dad have already signed up! Becky, Dustin's Mom has already started her training and recruiting others, and Kendra, her Mom, Susan, and many others have shown interest! I am calling it a family fitness weekend and I am going to organize a pasta party and order shirts for us to do the race in and it's gonna be a blast! So, thank you Ironman for giving all of us the gift of inspiration and motivation!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

UPDATED ENTRY with Angie, Dustin, and Kendra's renditions (in that order) of Ironman Wisconsin. We did it!

ANGIE'S RENDITION

We have been going non stop since we got back from Wisconsin and I know a lot of you are awaiting to hear how the weekend went, so here goes. If you only want to know about the actual race, go down to RACE REPORT below. However, the recipe for the most positive, fun, energetic Ironman includes the days before also!

We left Jacksonville on Thursday around 5 PM and flew to Minneapolis. Dustin slept on the plane ride (he had an awful week of having to get up at 5 everyday for the Navy), and I wrote out in my journal what my perfect race day would be like. It just so happens that Dustin's brother, Travis, and his family live in Minneapolis so he made a trip over to the airport with Dustin's Mom and sister and her three kids to visit with us during our layover. They were already holding huge, bright green signs for us in the airport, so we knew we were in for a fun weekend! We ended up not getting out of Minneapolis on time and didn't get into Milwaukee until about 2 AM. Jeff picked us up with a sign, "Welcome IM athletes and fans" and we hurried home to get to sleep.

We were going to wake up early on Friday and get to Madison, but we figured we could use some extra sleep. Kendra made us some oatmeal and waffles (two days before is the huge carbo loading day!) so we didn't leave until after 11 AM for the hour drive to Madison. We got there and completed the registration process quickly (they told us the rush is always in the morning when they first open). We got our swim caps, chips for our ankles, race numbers, and transition bags and went through the expo. Dustin and I also checked in at the Janus Charity Challenge tent and got our jerseys. We ended up raising about $5700 and Janus should be adding to that $1500 more for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, so we were proud of that! We then went back to the hotel (15 minutes away) to check in and then back to Ironman Village for the Pasta Party. I had two plates of pasta, salad, and baked potatoes and a lot of gatorade and water. We happened to sit with a funny guy named Tomas who is a friend of one of our fellow Hammerheads here in Jacksonville-small world! We watched some motivational videos and listened to Mike Reilly's statistics. Then the race directors told us about the cut off times and things not to do and that really is the only time I was really nervous the whole weekend.....just the way they talked, I thought the motivational stuff should have come at the end instead of ending on that! Dustin and I were able to catch Frank Farrar outside of the bathroom to snap a picture with him. He is 78 years old and has done many Ironmans, always finishing just before midnight! We returned to the hotel and found my parents next door walking out of Denny's as we pulled up! They had just driven in from south of St. Louis. We went up to our rooms and started arranging our transition bags, special needs bags, and warm clothes (pre/post race clothes) bags. We had already organized our things at home in zip lock bags, so all we had to do was transfer them over, and that was really nice! My mom got the job of figuring out the inspirational cards and having the others write theirs and she did a great job! We ended up going to bed after midnight that night also, which was later than we planned, but we were preparing the whole time!

Saturday morning, Dustin and I had to pick up our bikes at TriBike Transport near Ironman Village. We brought them our pedals and they put them on for us and we rode them awhile so we could make sure all the gears were working. Mine needed to be tweaked a little bit, but then Frenchie (Kendra named my bike the last time we were in Wisconsin) seemed ready. We met my parents and Dave back at the parking lot and took our bikes to transition to drop them off. We got there just a little before 10 and there were about 10 people in line, so we got right in and racked our bikes. We then turned in our transition 1 and 2 bags inside in two different rooms organized by race numbers. Then we went to the Janus Inspiration station to make signs that would be out on the run course. Dave, my parents, and Dustin left in my parents car to go pick up Ken (Dustin's step Dad flew his own plane into Madison). Kendra and I went to the grocery store for last minute Luna Bars, Naked Juice-green machine-yummy, PB and J, bread, and water, beer, and snacks for the spectators.

We then headed to our lunch date at Panera Bread to meet up with the rest of Dustin's family and Nikki and her family. We gave out the cute yellow tshirts with "You WILL do this" on the front and on the back was "I watched Dustin, Angie, and Kendra do the Wisconsin Ironman and all I got was this lousy tshirt!" We also gave out the binders of info and maps that Kendra made everyone. We got to visit a little bit and then headed back to the hotel for a short nap. We met back in the board room of the hotel at 3:30 for a TEAM meeting with Kendra's family and friends added to the mix. We gave them all kinds of info and wishes and told them what we would be wearing and gave them back packs and swim caps I hoped they would wear for cheering for the swim! Then we went up to our room and microwaved the pasta Kendra had prepared for us back in Milwaukee. We took it down to poolside while the kids played in the pool. We ate goldfish crackers and sipped on more Gatorade and water. Kendra gave us both inner strength coins to have with us on the run and we gave her a "BELIEVE" card. The spectator crew went to TGI Friday's for dinner while we hung out in the hotel room and winded down around 9 PM. Dave and Jeff went out to the bar to watch the Badger football game, while Kendra read "The Little Engine that Could" to us by candlelight. Her sister had snuck the book under her pillow, how sweet! She ruffled the covers after she was done reading and that blew the candle out. That was a sign we needed to get to sleep. The 3:30 AM wake up call was going to come soon. I had an awful time getting to sleep, but once I got there, I slept well.

I got up after a snooze and hopped in the shower to warm up my muscles. I felt better after that shower than I have felt in a month. I had been telling myself I was going to feel healthy and 100% the morning of, but I didn't actually believe that my body would agree to that. We ate our PB and J's and I drank my Naked Juice and took my multivitamin and iron pill. We prepared our water bottles, gatorade, and perpetuem/sustained energy mix and got ice from the ice machine. We wanted to leave about 4:30 but didn't pull away from the hotel until about 5:00 with my Dad up already taking pictures of us! We parked close and walked to the special needs drop off boxes close to the capitol building. Then we walked (with Jeff, Dave, and Jen) to the body marking area and volunteers wrote our numbers on our arms and leg. It was a little chilly, so we left our warm clothes on for a little longer and headed inside to add our inspirational cards to our T2 bags. We then used the bathroom and sat in the lobby for a little bit and put suncreen on.

RACE REPORT: We met up with our Ironcrew (25 with tshirts and over 20 others who would be there at various parts of the day). They all looked so cute in their tshirts, especially the kids! They watched us as we pulled our wetsuits on and body glided our necks, with the lake in the background. We hugged them all goodbye and the three of us walked down the helix. We stopped towards the end to zip up our wetsuits for each other and did our Gus. Then, we turned in our warm clothes bags and started into the water with the mass of swimmers with blue caps (women) and white caps (men). We saw my Dad's huge umbrella with our names on it and poked our way through the crowd to get closer to them as they are snapping hundreds of pictures already! Glad we have digital cameras nowadays! We were all smiles from the start while those around us were nervous; it helped having two of my best friends getting ready to take on this challenge with me, stepping into the 75 degree water with me! I thought we were getting in the water a little late, but it turned out to be perfect, about 10 minutes before and we stayed close to the shore where we didn't have to tread water. We embraced as Kendra said a prayer for us and we got a little closer to the start line. The cannon fired and I remembered to start my watch. I kept Dustin in my sights for about 10 strokes and then he was off. I was pretty much swimming in my own water for awhile, with not too many bumps because I was off to the outside. I would highly recommend this; it was so much better than I thought it would be. I was gliding effortlessly through the water, sometimes drafting off of other swimmers right in front of me, like Susan Wallis said we should in the swim. The temperature was perfect and my arms never got cold in the sleeveless wetsuit. I did the first lap in 40 minutes; faster than I thought, so I was pumped! The second lap was a little slower, but not by much and I got out of the water at 1:29. I didn't have any neck chafing, and I really wasn't even tired as I sat down for the wetsuit strippers to yank my wetsuit off in one second. I then saw the umbrella and our crew cheering and jumping up and down. I ran bare-footed all the way up the helix and into transition (that was the most my feet hurt the whole day).

This transition area is inside the building and they call it the "get naked room." They have males and females separated and the volunteers wait on you hand and foot. They will completely redress you if you want. However, I left the same shorts and tri top on and just added my Hammerhead shirt and had the volunteer put my number strap on my back. I loaded up my pockets with goodies, strapped the bike shoes on and helmet and then ran out of the building outside to get my bike at the very end of the racks. My T1 time was almost 10 minutes. They handed Frenchie to me and I was right at the exit pointing down the helix, round and round with a slight breeze. I couldn't believe I was on the bike already and heading out of town. There were people everywhere along the bike course, strangers cheering us on. One bad thing was that there were a lot of little bumps (you shouldn't have loose water bottles that could fly off, which wasn't a problem for me, but it apparently was for others as we had to dodge many fallen water bottles etc along the way). The energy I had was amazing and found myself averaging 16 mph, trying to get to where our family was, on various hilly spots on the course. We were able to see the different groups at 9 different spots on the course, one group who went to miles 45 and 87, and another who trapsed around all day to go to 28, 48, 70, AND 90!!!! It felt like the Tour de France going up the hills with spectators lining the sides, enough room for only your bike to go through, some of our supporters running up the hills with us! They really made it easy for us! The corn fields, barns, cow maneur, and cheeseheads in Packers and Badgers gear were in abundance! The bike cruised along until the end when the winds picked up a bit. My neck started hurting with about 30 miles left, but not bad enough to apply biofreeze. After I hit mile 100, the last 12 were brutal with spectators becoming more and more rare. The bottoms of my feet hurt badly in the last 30 miles and every bump, I groaned! We had to bike back up the helix around and around (a little slower this time) and the volunteer took my bike. Frenchie had been good to me but I was glad to see her go! My bike time was 7 hours and 24 minutes.

I was so psyched to run a marathon; I was ready to get the damn bike shoes off and into my running shoes. I was ready to see our group cheering us on. I took almost 7 minutes in T2 getting my watch reset with my footpod, and reloading my pockets with food and the inspirational cards. I put the Team in Training hat on (gotta give props to where this all started) and put my wonderfully odd shark visor on top of that. I saw Jeff and Dave at the very beginning of the run, and then Erika was just a little bit up from them. Dustin apparently took a little longer in transition so I found out from them that I was only a few minutes behind him. I was feeling good, but not ready to go try to catch him. I already had to urinate (which is good) and I made a deal with myself that I was going to walk the aid stations. I saw him at a few turnaround spots and the crowd "awwwwed" as the two crazy shark hat people hugged and kissed and wished each other luck. I knew early that I wasn't going to catch him unless he had some major problems and I sure didn't want that to happen. I saw our cheering squad at miles 6, 11, 13, and 19 and fed off of their energy and enthusiasm. I ran my own race, did a GU about every hour, with gatorade and water and a few pretzels and drank a cup of chicken broth (past Ironmans finishers swear by it). The problem was that I think I drank somewhere between 10-15 cups of it within the first 15 miles, so I had to use the bathroom in a hurry at about mile 20. When I stepped out of the portapotty, my left foot twinged where the plantar fascitis had been so bad before this day. It hurt for about a mile and then I think my adrenaline kicked in, because it didn't hurt me at all after that. Throughout the whole course, fellow athletes, fans, volunteers screamed so loud for the shark hat and Dustin and I were able to pass messages through random people that we loved each other from one shark hat to the other! Some people thought we were silly for wearing them, but I bet I had a more substantial and lasting smile than they have ever had because of the recognition that my shark visor got me! Towards the end of the run, I was slowing a bit and was able to get out the inspirational cards that I really needed at that time. We had a bunch of people write on business size cards sayings, quotes, lyrics, even jokes to help us through. In the dark, I would have to wait for a light to read them and they each gave me a little more energy. Other athletes commented on what a good idea that was and I even read them to some who were running beside me. I ran over the mat at mile 21 and read the message Dustin had typed in for me at the Ford Motivational Mile. The Janus signs that we made also ligned the run course out there where spectators were not. As I began to try to calculate (something I hadn't done all day and really didn't want to do then), I realized I would have to pick up the pace a bit to finish in under 14 hours (14 hours? wow! My goal was to finish under 15). I chose to relax and have fun and to take it all in; I'm pretty sure I acknowledged every single person that cheered for me on that course all day with a smile or a wave and they appreciated that! My name was called out more than any other time in my life in that 140.6 miles and that felt really awesome to know I was doing something that was admired.

When I neared the capitol building, I could hear the finish line. I could imagine our cheering squad and Dustin there waiting for me. I ran down the long shoot giving five to all the spectators I could! I spotted our crew in their yellow shirts and got teary eyed. I removed my shark visor and swung it around in my hand as I crossed the finish line with my arms held high! 14 hours and 15 minutes! Dustin was right there waiting for me and got to put the medal around my neck and we hugged, kissed, and congratulated each other (all up on the big screen and on the live video feed on the internet). He had waited there for me all that time (he finished in 13 hours 35 minutes) and hadn't even seen our families yet just to wait for me; what a sweetie!

Oh my gosh! What a perfect day in every way and an inexplicable experience! We keep getting asked if we will do it again and for now we say no, because we don't want to mess with a good thing. I really don't think it could've been any more perfect! We found our families and hugs, kisses, and tears were everywhere! We took so many pictures with different people, it felt like our wedding again! We got some pizza and soda and came back to the stands to watch Kendra with the cow still perched atop her head come in at 15 hours and 18 minutes, far surpassing her expectations. We all agreed it was the best race ever and we thought we were the three most positive people out on the course with the help of our headwear and cheering squad.

We turned our bikes into TriBike Transport and then came back to the finish line to watch Kendra's Uncle Gary cross the finish line at about 11:45 PM (12 midnight is the cutoff). He had the flu and hadn't eaten for two days and had only gatorade the whole race! Wow!!!!! Then, the whole place was awaiting Frank Farrar's finish, hoping that he would make it before midnight (he missed it by 2 minutes last year). As he ran in, the crowd errupted and he finished with less than 4 minutes to spare! Crazy!

We weren't done yet, we had to celebrate a little bit back at the hotel in my parent's room where some of Kendra's family joined us until about 2:30 AM when we finally started to get tired! Boy did we sleep well after that accomplishment!

We woke up early on Monday though to spend time with our families before they left. We socialized in the lobby and shared pictures on various laptops. We reaffirmed by looking at pictures that we all three had the best day ever!

This Ironman weekend was the best weekend I have had since that one weekend back in Kansas in June of 2004 :) We probably took just as many pictures too! Ironman has taught me that the cliche of "you can do anything if you put your mind to it" is actually true! It has taught me that if you stay positive and keep a smile on your face, that everything else just comes along easily! It has taught me that if you surround yourself with people who believe in you, that's the way you can achieve your dreams and goals. I feel like I can do anything in the world right now and I will use what I have learned from Ironman in all apsects of my life. That is why Ironman is so powerful!
Angie

DUSTIN'S RENDITION

Dustin Crawford, You Are An IRONMAN!

That's what I heard on the evening of September 9th as I crossed the finish line of the Wisconsin Ironman..... but if you know me, you know I can't shorten a story to just that, so I'll take it back a little to recap on my experience.

In late July of 1977 I was born..... ok I won't take it back that far.

In January of this year we started our training. There, that's better. For the last 9 months we have given up our weekends (and many of our weekdays) in hopes of completing the Wisconsin Ironman. Our training went really well, the only setback that I thought I would have was my two big toenails that were black from non-training related incidents. I feared losing these toenails close to or during the race, which would be quite painful. Believe it or not, they are still black and still on my toes.

Now let's fast forward to the good stuff. We flew into Wisconsin on Thursday, September 6th (delayed till about 2:00 in the morning, ugh) and Friday morning we drove over to Madison to complete our race registration. The next 24 hours was pretty hectic with filling our transition and special needs bags, friends and family coming into town, and trying to stay off our feet the best we could. Saturday afternoon, we gave out shirts that we had made, to all our friends and family that were going to cheer us on the next day. We also had a meeting in the board room of the hotel, hashing out all the logistics of our support crew that was growing to nearly 50 strong.

On race morning we woke up at 3:30 so that we could try to be at the transition area at 5:00 when it opened, but we were a little late. The weather was absolutely perfect, 65 at the start, 74 was the high, and the only winds we saw were the last 10-15 miles of the bike. We did last minute bike preps, got body markings completed, and lined up for the bathrooms. Our friends and family showed up in time to watch us struggle into our wetsuits and head down the helix towards the water. They wished us good luck and off we went. Kendra, Angie, and I entered the water at about 6:50 and did some last minute pumping up of each other as we waited for the cannon (which I might add was a lot closer and louder than I anticipated).


At 7:00, the cannon let loose and we were "Doing the Ironman." The swim went great, I stayed to the outside most of the way, probably adding a little distance, but staying clear of the pummel machine located around the buoys. I rounded the far end of the loop, that we were going to swim around twice, (meaning I was a quarter of the way through) and glanced at my watch, hoping to see something under 27 minutes or so, it said 19! I thought, Holy crap I might do this under 1 hour and 20 minutes at this pace. I didn't feel tired so I kept with it and sure enough I exited the swim and crossed the timing mat at 1 hour 19 minutes and 57 seconds. I breezed through Transition 1 and was on the bike in about 10 minutes.



I coasted down the helix and started pedaling, I would continue pedaling for the next 7 to 8 hours. At mile 2 of the bike course the guy in front of me hit a bump and lost something out of his pocket. Apparently it was important because he made a hard left in from of me as he hit the breaks and we only missed by a couple of inches. He had no idea I was there until we almost collided; he apologized as I flew by. I guess bikes have blind spots too. Over the next 3 miles, I saw over 5 flat tires and I wondered if I too would be sitting on the side of the road for 20 minutes watching people cruise past as I tried to change a flat in record time. Luckily my tires held up the whole race. At mile 28, I saw some friends and family for the first time. I wasn't sure if they were going to be there because of traffic, road closures, and what not, but they made it and their cheering was a great push to get me up the hill. I saw more friends and family at mile 45, 48, 70, 87, and 90! Talk about having some people on the course to keep you going. The hills were relentless, but I kept pushing on. On some of the downhills I hit 40 plus mph, which was a little scary yet fun. As I headed back into town, on the last 10-15 miles of the bike, the winds picked up a little and I was starting to lose feeling in my big toe. The only feelings I did get were of extreme pain; I guess the shoes were a little tight. I just hoped it wouldn't effect me on the run. As I biked up the last 100 yards or so, which consisted of looping UP the helix, I knew I had plenty of time to spare for the run if it didn't go well, because I had finished the bike in just over 7 hours.

I handed off my bike to a race volunteer and headed into Transition 2. I took my time, nursed my big toe, drank water, changed clothes, refilled my pockets with goodies, headed to the Port-O-Potty, stretched, and headed out on the run course. I knew I had taken a long break, but I wasn't really worried about it. Turns out everyone else was though, including the people that were watching my times online, wondering what I could be doing for 23 minutes in T2.



I started out on the run and felt great. People were cheering me on (mostly due to my shark hat) and I couldn't believe how many spectators there were. I saw friends and family at mile 1, 6, and 6.5 and Angie at 7 miles. She said she was doing great, I noticed she was only 4 minutes behind me, and I told her she had to try and catch me. My first half of the marathon was 2 hours 12 minutes. I was keeping just over a 10 minutes pace and was ecstatic that my legs were working that well. I saw more of our support crew at miles 13 and 19, then I headed into the dark for the last 7 miles. I was keeping a good pace and everything was working correctly. I couldn't believe I was about to finish the Ironman.



I had heard from other IM finishers that there would be many times that I would have to tell myself to keep going, many ups and downs, and some severe lows. I did have some ups and downs, but not once did I consider quitting or did I have to tell myself to keep going. My body just did it. Apparently I had trained well enough, had great weather, and a plethora of friends and family to push me along. It was truly an awesome experience the whole day. 13 hours and 35 minutes after I heard the cannon blast me into this journey, I heard "Dustin Crawford, You Are An Ironman!" I had done it, and not only that, I had crushed my anticipated time of 15 hours.



I got my medal, had a photo op, and decided to wait in the finish area so that I could be the first to congratulate Angie. When I saw her coming down towards the finish line, I told the volunteers to stand back. After she crossed, I gave her a big hug and kiss and put her medal around her neck.

It was definitely a life changing experience. After finishing the Ironman, I feel as though nothing is too tough to handle. You just have to take it one step at a time, don't forget to surround yourself with friends and family, and you can complete anything.


Dustin Crawford
Ironman


KENDRA'S RENDITION

I did it!!!
All of you have been so sweet in asking how the Ironman went on Sunday.....so I thought I'd send out a mass email to let everyone know that I did it.....and aside from marrying Jeff 5 years ago, the Ironman was easily the best day of my life. The whole experience was nothing like I imagined the Ironman to be. I thought that Ironman would be about having countless dig-deep moments of pain and despair that I'd have to push through to keep going, and really, truly it was nothing like that for me on Sunday. I can say with complete honesty that I never had a negative thought or a down moment. Doing the race was just the most fun I ever had.....every moment from the mass of arms and legs in the swim to dancing down the finisher's shoot in 15:18 was pure fun and joy. Here's the recap......

The weather was perfect on Sunday.....73 with clear skies and some light wind that picked up during the last 10-12 miles of the bike. The sun came up over Lake Monona a brillant pink and I found myself vascilating between trying to get motivated by thinking "This is the Ironman!!" and trying to calm myself down by telling myself that this was just another long training day. Angie, Dustin, and I said a quick prayer of thanks for our families and friends, our strong bodies, and the beautiful weather and then we were off in the mass of flying arms and legs. Hitting all those people and getting hit myself was just gnarly fun and it gave me lots of energy to make the first 2 turns and be able to see the Monona Terrace and the thousands of fans. I tried to pick up my pace at the end of the second loop because I didn't want a slow swim to be the reason why I didn't make the bike cut-off. I finished the swim in

As most of you know, the bike portion of the race was my biggest challenge because I am a little slow-poke. However, on Sunday, I just told myself over and over that I would not let a negative thought enter my head, and I focused on all the wonderful things around me. Angie, Dustin, and I had nearly 50 friends and family out there cheering and their support was INCREDIBLE!! They were lining both sides of the road during our 3rd big hill climb and it was completely exhilirating to see all of their happy faces and hear their shouts of encouragement. I remember telling Jeff that I was having the time of my life...and I meant it. A few miles after we got up the hill, another rider asked me how many people I had supporting me today. When I told him that nearly 50 family and friends were there, he said, "You know, every one of those people believes that you can do this." Awesome!!

The second 56 mile loop was a little more challenging than the first because the wind picked up a little and the fans and riders were thinning out since I'm slow and was at the end of the pack. I just kept focusing on positive thoughts....noticing the gorgeous scenery, thanking the volunteers, singing Baby Got Back in my head ...anything just to keep my mind busy and my thoughts positive. I kept thinking about my year of bike training....3.5 hours on a trainer in my basement over the winter, crying 3 times the first time I rode the IM course in April, my 100-mile ride that I did alone in August...it was all worth it as I made my way back to Madison and realized that I could still make the cut-off unless catastrophe happened. I got a little teared up at mile 111 when I saw the Monona Terrace and realized that I could carry my bike from there if I had to! A volunteer took my bike when I got to the Terrace and I jumped and cried all the way to the transition area! I made the bike cut-off with 45 minutes to spare.......1:34.....right where I hoped to be.

Now the fun part....the marathon!! A volunteer helped me change into my running clothes and I told her, "I can't believe I to run the marathon!!" She told me that I was the first person who wasn't saying "I can't believe I have to run a marathon now." Running the marathon felt like a privilege that I earned by making the bike cut-off and I definitely made the most of it. I can honestly say that the Ironman marathon was the easiest marathon I have ever run. I knew I had 7 hours to complete it by midnight, so I was completely relaxed and never looking at my watch to see how fast I was going. I ran the whole thing except for the aid stations and the hills. I ran it in 5:21, only 15 minutes slower than my previous slowest marathon, and only 45 minutes slower than my best marathon!! Who knew I had it in me??You should all know, that being a true Wisconsin girl, I wore a cow hat for the entire marathon, and I swear to you, that cow gave me more energy than all the gatorade I drank for 15 hours. I must have had 10,000 people comment on the cow hat, smile, cheer for me, and make jokes. Even the other competitors were talking and it gave me so much positive energy to have people talking to me the whole way. I never got passed from mile 13 to the finish and I was one of the only ones running by that point. I just kept plugging along with a huge smile on my face....thinking that I could not believe how much fun I was having.

Of course, our Ironcrew was there for mile 6,13,19, and the finish....and they were getting more and more excited as we made our way to the finish line. Aahhh....the finish line! I remember thinking that I would walk the finisher's chute and look each one of my family and friends in the eyes to say THANK YOU for getting me to that point. However, when I rounded the last corner, all rational thought left my head. I started jumping, dancing, and yelling, "I did it! I did it!" The crowd was going crazy (more for the cow than for me ) and I just remember feeling pure, electric joy. Mike Reilly, the Ironman announcer, announced that I was an Ironman and then commented on my hat....he said, "Only in Wisconsin!"

Every person that does Ironman has a story to tell, a lesson learned, a goal achieved. As I am reflecting on my experience in the last few days I just keep feeling like I was introduced to a whole new person on Sunday. A person that was strong, positive, motivated, optimistic, inspired....someone who would not let negative thoughts even enter the realm of possibility. I am amazed and proud that that person was me. I never knew I was capable of being that person and I'm glad she's here to stay. The other gift that Ironman gave me was feeling so loved and supported by all of you during the last year of training and during these final days leading up to the race. Thank you for all the emails and phone calls in the last couple weeks….each one gave me courage and energy. Thank you to those of you who schlepped around Madison, Mount Horeb, and Verona just to see bike or run by for 5 seconds every 3 hours…..you are all the best! The absolute best IronCrew there ever was!! You have each had a part in getting me here and helping me achieve this goal and I can never thank you enough for all the advice, support, encouragement, and love. I thought about each and every one of you during my 15 hour and 18 minute journey and I love you all so much.

Kendra

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

We are officially an IronCouple! It was an unbelievably perfect day and I promise I will elaborate more when we get home. We will be moving slowly in the airport today for sure, but I think we have a good excuse! Thank you to so many people who supported us in Wisconsin and across the miles! We love you!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

It is Ironman eve and everything is going great! We are sitting here in our hotel room of Fairfield Inn and they have wireless internet in the rooms so I'm typing on my laptop. Dustin's shaving, Dave is drinking a beer, Jeff and Jen are being assigned duties, Paula, Kendra's sister is getting last minute tips for cheering from Kendra. Now Jeff, Jen, and Dave's pizza just got here.

Kendra, Dustin and I already ate our microwaved pasta about 6 PM, while we hung out by the indoor pool with some of the kids from our group. By group, I mean the best freakin cheer squad ever!!!! We had our lunch at Panera bread earlier at 12 and met up with most of Dustin's family and my parents old friends' Greg and Mary who they hadn't seen in 10 years and their daughter, Nikki who lives here in Madison who we grew up together! She is going to be a part of our cheering squad tomorrow along with Bill, Gwen, Jeff, Dave, Jen, Walt, Judy, Becky, Ken, Don, Carolyn, Shelley, Braxton, Keaton, Lexton, Travis, Robin, Kiona, Barb, Inez, Paula, Melissa, Ken, Marianne, Ken, Amanda, David, Ellie, Charlie, Carolyn, Wally, Brad, Mona, Erika, Sean, Rose, Maggie, Jeff, Erica, Cher (and Gary who is doing the race also!!!). Plus, Kendra and Jeff's other friends who are maybes--Hobber, Rose, John, Rebecca, Jim, Becca. So, we have an over 40 person team out there for us. 25 of those will be wearing bright yellow shirts with "You WILL do this" with the Ironman symbol on it and the backs say "I watched Dustin, Angie, and Kendra do the Wisconsin Ironman and all I got was this lousy tshirt!" We had a meeting earlier in the board room to give logistical info and the folders that Kendra made with all kinds of maps. We also gave them swim caps to wear before and during the swim, which is going to be hilarious!

We are ready and we feel great. We've been getting all kinds of text messages and we are so thankful we have such great supporters. I know I keep saying that, but I really really mean it. We sure hope to make you all proud! The weather is looking like it will be pretty good. Now, we are going to watch some DVDS on the laptop and hopefully fall asleep by 9:00 PM. We just called for a wake up call at 3:30 AM!!!! Yikes!!!!! That's early! We also set three other back up alarms just in case! Boy, it's gonna be a long, hard day, but the finish line will make it all worth it! We can't wait! I wrote out the whole race and exactly the way I wanted it to go (I wrote it on the plane) and now I'm going to read it to get my positive energy flowing! Hopefully the next time I write, I will be an Ironwoman!
We are here in Madison getting ready to get some breakfast on Saturday morning. It's been awesome weather so far and Ironman Village is really cool. We are registered and we are turning our transition bags in today. My parents are here already and then all of Dustin's family will get here today for lunch. We are planning on trying to stay off of our feet today as much as possible. Everything is going well; we're feeling relatively relaxed and ready to go. We went to the Pasta Party last night hosted by Ford and Mike Reilly was the announcer. We had some good pasta and got pumped up. Then the race directors got up and scared the living **** out of us about making the bike cut off and people having wrecks and all that crap.

We have had such unbelievable support throughout this whole process, but we've been getting so many emails recently, like about 50 that we don't have time to respond to every one, but we want to. We want to say thank you for thinking of us! We want to say that hopefully we won't let down all of the people who are tracking us tomorrow! Yikes Tomorrow! Well, if for some reason there is a lapse in our tracking and you are wondering what is going on, you can call our friend Dave to find out what is going on 904-382-8258. He made the trip from Jacksonville to cheer us on and will hopefully be fairly informed on race day if he doesn't stop by too many bars along the way.

Anyway, gotta go, but thanks again for everyone's support. I can't believe how many people have said they are actually reading my blog. I might be able to write again before tomorrow, but we'll see. We'll be pretty busy when our family gets here. We are ready to rock this Ironman!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Vacation? What defines a vacation? I had a meeting this morning at work and I told them I was going on "vacation" and they asked how a triathlon could be considered that? Well, I don't have to work for 6 days straight and I am flying on a plane somewhere to see friends and family, and hope to have an awesome time, so I think it's a vacation! with a little working out thrown in the middle!

We are getting ready to head out to the airport now. We don't get into Milwaukee until after 11 PM, so that sucks. Using "the secret" from the movie, I am visualizing that both legs of our flight will go smoothly and our luggage will arrive quickly and we will still get to bed at a reasonable time. I am really trying to stay positive in every single thing that I say or do. I thought I was a positive person before, but try it, it really is hard to do! But, we are getting positive things in return. I will elaborate more on that later after the race! I keep saying, "I want to feel 100% and be healthy" (you can't even say I don't want my feet to hurt or neck to hurt because that is talking about what you don't want). I keep visualizing myself crossing that finish line after having fun the whole time!

I rode the stationary bike for 20 minutes earlier and did a good full body stretch. That felt really good! I've still been doing neck stretches, calf stretches and icing my foot, as well as taking my turmeric and rubbing my lavender oil on my feet.

We went to the Hammerhead meeting last night and got a lot of good lucks, so thanks everyone for that. I have to leave for the airport now! We are so ready!

Monday, September 03, 2007

I haven't been writing too much in this because there isn't too much to write about. I've pretty much been taking it easy since the car accident. My neck was still pretty sore until a couple days ago. We did volunteer at the HOT triathlon and it went well; it felt good to do a little something, but my feet were definitely hurting by the end of the two days. My neck was still stiff and felt very weak at about my C7-T2 area of my spine. On Tuesday, we swam for about 30 minutes in our pool and my neck was still stiff. I got a back massage from Monica at Massage Envy on Wednesday night and that helped loosen me up a bit. Thursday was my first real workout and we did Bob's double spin class for 2 hours 20 minutes. Then, Friday morning, we rode 40 miles at the beach (how did we get our bikes there, you ask? Amber and Stuart let us borrow their four runner and we put our bike rack and bikes on it-they let us borrow it the day before to get our bikes tuned up too-thanks guys!). After our 40 mile ride, we ran a mile to make sure our nutrition still worked. Normally, my neck hurts after about 60 miles, but it hurt after about 20 miles on our ride. I toughed it out though and I can tough it out for 112 miles on Sept 9th! We had to get that last ride in before Dustin took the bikes down (used Amber and Stuart's car again) to drop them off to TriBike Transport where they will drive them all in one piece to Madison so we can pick them up on Saturday before the race. Sunday morning, we ran five miles with Amber, Stuart and Bailey at Ed Austin park and it was hot! My feet felt pretty good while running, but hurt like hell afterwards. I've still been doing ice massage, calf stretches and strengthening, as well as taking an herb pill called turmeric and rubbing lavender oil on them (my Mom sent me an article about natural remedies with anti-inflammatory effects), so we will see if that helps any. I've also been doing a lot of back and neck stretches and we've been eating very healthy and getting all of our equipment, etc. prepared for Thursday when we fly out. So, I still feel like we are busy and doing a lot!

We also watched a movie called "The Secret" that my friend, Susan said we should watch. It was a very unique documentary that I think will help us mentally (and not just for the Ironman), but it's all about thinking positively and visualizing what you want in life, so we have been doing a lot of mental preparation too and that is helping also. I recommend watching it (our blockbuster didn't have it here, but the library did and pay per view did too). I'm gonna go now and pack some more and fix some yummy healthy dinner.