#5500050 is complete!

Happy New Year! If you are new here, I had a 2018 goal to complete 5 triathlons, raise $5,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in my 50th year.

Status update-DONE!

Finish line of all 5 triathlons

Just before the fundraising deadline a couple of weeks ago very generous donor dragged me across the finish line of my #5500050 Year! My fundraising benefiting the National MS Society total landed at $5,150. Seems appropriate for how some viewed my goal. I’m so grateful for everyone’s support during 2018. To everyone that trained with me, to everyone that donated their hard earned mula, to everyone that shared their story and listened to me tell mine. To everyone that showed up to cheer me on at a race. To my family, my friends….THANK YOU! A special thank you to Dave. You continue to be my biggest fan and encourage me to do things I didn’t know I could do.

I was encouraged to look back on my #5505000 year and share what I’ve learned. Well, I learned never to under estimate the power of the will to succeed and a generous amount of Aquaphor. I realize those are very different things. I learned you never know who you will inspire or who will inspire you! I learned the generosity of strangers in the triathlon community and I learned that I can keep going and last longer than I ever expected when it gets rough and I really really want to stop. I can keep going.

Pretty sure Kristi would be proud of my accomplishments
Luke and I recently out on a run

Since my last race in October I’ve enjoyed running without an agenda and Luke is always up for a run! I’m not certain what races I’ll do in the new year but I’ll continue to do some triathlons, some running races, swim when I feel like it and ride my bike for the joy of feeling the wind in my face!

2018 was a big year for me. Thank you all for your interest and listening as I shared this journey. I hope 2019 is a wonderful year for all of you!

Caren

What I’ve been doing since my final race

It’s been just over a month from my final race and we’re smack dab in the middle of the holiday season.  Which I’m also grateful the pressure is off and I can just enjoy eating all the food!  I love this time of year for so many reasons and for me the season has become about Giving, Sharing & Caring.  Speaking of….Status update on my goals:

1. Turn 50 – Check

2. Complete 5 triathlons – Check

3. Raise $5,000 for the National MS Society – Close (80% to be exact) https://secure.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR/Bike/CASBikeEvents?px=4472818&pg=personal&fr_id=29976

I feel like my recovery has gone well since my race.  The days that followed I spent a good deal of time just keeping moving and Dave & I enjoyed vacationing and visiting family.  However, if I stayed put for too long I couldn’t move at all!  Eventually , if you let it, your body recovers.  It takes some discipline and maturity to allow your body to recover, otherwise you end up overdoing it and injured.

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South rim of the Grand Canyon

I’ve been taking it easy and doing a few of the things I love to do without a scheduled workout.  Dave and I enjoy mountain biking and there is some great areas close to us in Southern California.

Riding and catching up with friends for the fun of being outside.

And of course being silly and dressing up my dog and celebrating his birthday, which is also Halloween.

2018 has been a lot of fun, a lot of learning and a lot of hard work.  I’m so grateful for everyone that has donated their time, their money and their words of encouragement for my #5500050 goal.  The year is coming to an end quickly and I am currently 80% of my fundraising goal, needing $1,000 to reach my $5,000 goal in support of the National MS Society to round out my #5500050 year.  If you have enjoying learning about my journey as much as I enjoyed sharing and you have the means I’d really appreciate your support. https://secure.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR/Bike/CASBikeEvents?px=4472818&pg=personal&fr_id=29976

Thanks for listening, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and hoping 2019 is a wonderful year for you and yours!

Race #5 Ironman Arizona 70.3 done….Boom!

Spoiler Alert, I finished my race but have a little more fundraising to do.  #5500050…Help!  https://secure.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR/Bike/CASBikeEvents?px=4472818&pg=personal&fr_id=29976

Coming into this race my confidence was higher than I’ve ever felt before a big race. That’s a testament to my training plan and my coach Kandi Decarlo. She also encouraged me to enjoy the day, enjoy all of it, it’s my first Half Ironman so make it an enjoyable experience, and I did.  The past four weeks have been a big boost mentally and my nerves were calm. It was kinda nice!

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Prerace sky

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Entering the swim

It was a long, physically and mentally challenging day.  Before the race at body marking I had a little moment of nervous energy.  The guy marking looked at me and calmly said “you’re gonna do great” and I settled back down.  There was a lot of commotion and comradary before the race, it was a good feeling.  I waited nearly an hour before my wave start, which always works because I take a long time to get my wetsuit just how I like.  If I’m gonna wear a rubber tire I want it to be just so!

I had a fabulous swim, my best swim to date, but triathlon swimming is a contact sport. I got hit in the arm, kicked and some dude in a green cap grabbed my leg. I kicked a little harder to “own my space” and my right calf cramped up so I slowed a little trying to work it out. Soon Green Cap was beside me on my right but he couldn’t site well so he keeps bringing his left arm over the top of me! He’s not even pretending to not swim on top of me so I decide to politely back off. Almost instantly I decide “Nope, he’s gonna have to earn this!” I persist, he tires and I win…. I’m out of the water under my goal time!

Off to the bike course. For starters I couldn’t see my heart rate (I’ll have to work on fixing that) but I didn’t panic. I felt strong and I was making good time. The course was 3 loops which made it spectator friendly. Dave was able to see me multiple times during the ride. The start of lap three the wind picked up and brought everyone to a crawl! On top of that my feet were burning and my seat was uncomfortable. I realized that was the beginning of the test for the day of being an endurance athlete. I needed to figure how to reduce this pain and make forward progress. I used the terrain to my advantage and stood up out of the saddle and pulled up on my feet on the downhills. It made enough of a difference that I finished the bike feeling remarkably well for the amount of pain I experienced.

Waving to Dave as I rode by

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–  Heading out on the run

As I was getting ready to head out on the run I had the thought “I still have to run a half marathon and I’ve run plenty of those and it’s a long way!  Calm down, you can do this.”  So I set out on my run.  My game plan was to try to keep my heart rate low but that wasn’t happening.  The first mile it was already high and no sign that is was coming down.  Ok, Plan B…I decided to take it in chunks.  I ran between signs, steps anything that I could tick off as a win.  I also struggled the first half of the run with my nutrition a bit.  I must have worked a little harder on the bike with that head wind.  I stopped at the aid stations and took in a little food.  They had fruit, soda, electrolyte drinks, energy drinks, pretzels, energy chews, just about anything you would need at that point to keep you moving forward.  In addition to getting some fuel I ran with anyone that I struck up a conversation with (Amy, Heather, Luis, John, Margaret) and Dave always ran a little with me as I passed by on each lap :).  The heat was coming on a bit so I took ice and placed it under my cap and splashed water all over, it was refreshing for a few minutes at least.  I just kept ticking off the miles and at some point I was only 1 1/2 miles from finishing.  I also had the realization that if I’d got my nutrition under control earlier I feel I could have knocked 15 minutes of this thing!  Next time.  I came across the finish line with a gigantic smile and under my goal with a time of 7:55:11…I can’t believe I just did that! Eight days later I still have that smile on my face.

7:55:11….BOOM!

Although my final race of my #5500050 year was a week ago I’m reflecting today because it would have been Kristi’s 49th birthday.  Kristi was my inspiration for becoming involved with the National M.S. Society and she was one of my best friends.  As I look back at the year I’ve had, sharing my story, I am overwhelmed with all the love and support so many have shown.  I am currently 72% of my $5,000 fundraising goal and have until December 31. 2018 to get there.  Any help you can give I’d be grateful!  Thanks for listening and we’ll talk soon.  https://secure.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR/Bike/CASBikeEvents?px=4472818&pg=personal&fr_id=29976

Let me explain how I got here

Great news on the fundraising front!  I’m currently at 48% of my fundraising goal 🙂 https://secure.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR/Bike/CASBikeEvents?px=4472818&pg=personal&fr_id=29976

In 2017 I had hoped to complete a Half Ironman before I turned 50.  March of last year while out running with my running partner, my dog and I got tangled and I tore my hamstring.  Pretty badly actually so 2017 became all about recovery and injury management.  I found a really great running website called https://runsmartonline.com/ and thus began my road to recovery getting stronger with strength training.  I completed a half marathon in December of 2017 and felt I was ready to work on my 2018 goals.  So now I was going to be 50 and decided to put an exclamation point on it.  I came up with 5 races, raising $5,000 for the National MS Society in my 50th year.  Sounds good right?!

As I continue to train and share what I’m doing I get a lot of comments like “I could never do that”.  Well, guess what…you really could but I understand if you don’t want to.  There is nothing special about me other than I’m trying or TRI’ng and the biggest hurdle was just starting.  You might not want to do a Half Ironman but that’s just my deal, don’t let intimidation stop you from doing anything!  As for me, I’m not fast but being fast isn’t my goal, my goal is to finish and hopefully obtain stripper legs in the process.

The key is consistency.  As I’ve mentioned before training is 6 days a week.  That includes when I’m on vacation, traveling or working but it’s really just a little bit everyday.  True some days are more intense or longer than others but really it’s about being consistent.  I’ve gotten familiar with places I can get a swim in while traveling.  I found a 50 meter pool and I’m used to a 25 meter pool.  That’s a big difference!

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Pool at the gym near my sisters house on the Central Coast

Sometimes it’s a nice break to get out while I’m traveling and other times it just feels like I’m the odd one.  Recently I visited my mom and had to get a run in.  While I was out running in the fields near my college Alma matter I noticed a gaggle of geese and a lonely Great White Egret that flew away immediately after I snapped a photo.  I thought “That’s how I feel.  I’m the odd one flying off while my family enjoyed a lovely morning drinking coffee”.  Fortunately training consumed a small amount of my time during my visit.  You gotta have a life.

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Moments after I took this picture the lone Great Egret flew away!

But then there is moments when I get to train with friends that have the same training schedule or that just want to help you out!  I am grateful to have so many special people in my life.

Well, I’m officially less than five weeks away and I’m tweaking little things here and there but starting to feel like I might actually be able to pull this one off!  Once again, here is a link to my fundraising page (I’m trying to make it super easy for ya).  I appreciate any and all help you can give!  https://secure.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR/Bike/CASBikeEvents?px=4472818&pg=personal&fr_id=29976

Ciao for now!

Training continues with two months to go!

I’ve completed 4 of my 5 races, raising 40% of my $5,000 for the National MS Society and AARP says I turned 50.  I’m doing my part but I could use a little help with some fundraising…..please please please…  https://secure.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR/Bike/CASBikeEvents?px=4472818&pg=personal&fr_id=29976

I am nearly 2 months away from my first Half Ironman (nervously bites nails) and in the heart of my training, which is six days a week.  I’ve seen the sunrise everyday for several months and can’t sleep in even if I try!  The good news is I’m getting stronger, faster and more confident everyday….and I’ve got to see the sunrise daily for several months!  I actually like to be up early but on the flip side I can’t stay up late to save my life…

IMG_9403Some days I get the pool all to myself!  Lap swimming is where you put in the time, work on your technique and swim until you are a little stir crazy.  However, it can be quit relaxing and nice to be cool instead of sweat running into my eyes.  It is a more comfortable environment than open water swimming (OWS) which makes it ideal for the majority of my training.  There is a lake near by that I get my OWS in every couple of weeks, there really is no comparison to the OWS experience and it doesn’t freak me out like it does some people.

 

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Trainer ride streaming movies

The past four weeks my training schedule got a little more intense and is getting even more intense from here on out.  My long rides are getting longer and I’ve been tweaking my bike fit.  I have a road bike (I don’t have a TRI bike) that I attempted to fit aerobars on unsuccessfully.  That was a painful process and multiple trips the bike shop to have Al the bike fit guy tweak things.  I made the executive decision to scrap the aerobars and have everything put back the way it was.  After that my first ride out the gate was heaven compared to the misery I endured trying to make those bars work.  I had been able to stay close to home and ride the trainer for some of my rides.  Luke would keep me company and I could stream movies to make the experience tolerable.  I do much prefer to have the wind in my face riding out on the road.

I have some wonderful people in my life helping me through this process.

  • My husband Dave, who is wonderful, supportive and my biggest fan.  I know I’m a lucky girl and can’t say enough about how wonderful Dave is (yes, I said it again….because he is).
  • My coach Kandi who always has my back.  She knows exactly what to say to settle my nerves, give me a push at just the right time and respects my goal of finishing within regulation and a smile on my face!
  • Besides my dog Luke, my running partner Gail and I have pounded more miles together than just about any other person I’ve ran with…ever.  When I embarked on my #5500050 year her comment to me was “What races are you doing because what you train for I train for!”  I should also mention Gail isn’t doing any of these races but is willing to run the pace and distance that my training plan calls for and is willing to train during the time when I need to.  If I needed elevation training Gail trekked it up the mountain at O’dark thirty to run at elevation with me!  I couldn’t ask for a better person in my life than Gail.

I also want to give a shout out to my best friend from high school Jen who unknowingly gave me some inspiration recently.  Jen did a little trek of her own hiking portions of the Pacific Crest Trail & John Muir Trail for the better part of 4 weeks, clearly challenging and rewarding.  One day last week while out on my training run and not feeling very inspired I received a text from her that read “Up and over Forester today.  Got caught in a big storm yesterday.  Wish me luck!  Love you guys!”  That was the exact moment I needed a kick in the pants to complete my workout.  Two days later Jen was summiting Mt Whitney!  I’m so proud of her, I can’t wait to hear more about her trip.

In addition so many have shared words of encouragement and supported my  fundraising journey.  I am appreciative of all the love and I’ve enjoyed sharing my story with so many that will listen.  My fundraising is coming along and as I mentioned I am currently 40% of my $5,000 goal.  If you’d like to help out, I’d be so grateful.  Here is the link to my Bike MS fundraising page.  https://secure.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR/Bike/CASBikeEvents?px=4472818&pg=personal&fr_id=29976

I’ll continue to train and check in soon.  Take care all!

Race #4 – June Lake Sprint Distance COMPLETE!

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My spot in transition

June Lake is my 4th of 5 races in my quest to complete 5 triathlons, raise $5,000 for the National MS Society in my 50th year (yes, I turned 50 this year).  http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR/Bike/CASBikeEvents?px=4472818&pg=personal&fr_id=29976 Billed as “The toughest race in the most beautiful place” is on point.  I raced the sprint distance, 400m swim, 8 mile bike and 3 mile run.  I kept telling myself how happy I was to only be doing the sprint and not a longer distance at this elevation and let me tell ya, the run made up for the shorter distance!

 

We arrived in June Lake on Friday with enough time so I could test the water.  I had in my head that if I could tolerate the water temperature I wanted to swim without a wetsuit.  That thing isn’t easy to get on and off so I knew I could drastically cut my time if I could swim without it.  At 8,000 ft elevation, I was guaranteed the water temperature wouldn’t be ideal but it was indeed tolerable.

We also camped at June Lake to have close proximity to the race site.  I don’t usually sleep well the night before a race, wind gusts and a deflated air mattress insured my streak would continue.  Good thing I’m used to the insomnia.  My friend Colleen joined us for the weekend and experiencing her first triathlon.  I can’t tell you how much it meant to me that she was there cheering me on and seeing me off the start of this race.

The swim was in a shallow section of the lake and easy standing the entire course.  I resisted the urge to stand and run in like a lot of people did because once you get out of the water it’s all legs so I pulled in until my fingers touched the bottom.  I left my flip flops on the beach (learned the hard way and thus the need for the list of “things I’ve learned while TRI’ng”, see previous post for list).  My feet are happy for that move.

The bike climbs were short and steep but we had driven the course the day before so I knew where to take advantage of the downhills and drop to my aerobars for speed.  The last downhill before coming back into the park was steep and I topped out at 41 mph….NOT on my aerobars.  A side wind had picked up and I just held on at that point…Yahooooooo!  While on the bike course I got my first glimpse of the run course….I knew it was gonna be a doozie!

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That run took off on the beach in soft sand and gravel and ended on soft sand and gravel!  The first quarter mile was trekking through the weeds waist high on single track and the next quarter mile felt like it went straight up the side of a mountain.  Oh wait, it did!  At 8,000 ft elevation it became clear immediately that I would walk the uphills and run the downhills.  Nearly 400 ft of climbing in less than 3 miles….I don’t think I need to spell it out for you.  The downhill was technical and I concentrated on not face planting it!

 

My husband Dave & Colleen were at the finish line cheering for me and that’s always a lovely sound!  Overall I did better than I anticipated on all events and managed a 4th place Age Group finish!

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Finished with a handmade medal made by a local artist and a view from transition looking across June Lake.

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Colleen, Dave & I celebrating at Mammoth Brewing Company

This makes 4 of my 5 races in 2 plus months, whew!  Not sure that schedule was a good idea but sometimes that’s how these things work out and my training for IMAZ 70.3 has officially begun!  I have a just over three months to get myself prepared for my first ever Half Iron Man! (nervously bites nails)  I’ve had so much fun and loved sharing my journey with everyone.  The out pouring of support has been heartwarming.  Stay tuned as I continue to train while the temperature heats up around here, yikes!  Below is the link to my fundraising page through Bike MS.  No donation is too little and I’ve got a ways to go to get to $5,000!  Thanks for listening!

http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR/Bike/CASBikeEvents?px=4472818&pg=personal&fr_id=29976

Big Bear Olympic Distance TRI , race #3 DONE!

Where to begin.  Race #3 is done and that’s saying something.  This was my most difficult race thus far and I’ve done this race before.  .92 mile swim, 31 mile bike ride with 1,800 ft of climbing and a 10k run all at 7,000+ ft elevation!  I got ZERO elevation training prior….NONE!  I was feelin’ it and quite honestly I deserved what I got.

I can’t lose focus of my 2018 goal.  Complete 5 triathlons, raise $5,000 for the National MS Society in my 50th year.  You can follow the link to my fundraising page to help me reach my goal and I would be most greatful.  http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR/Bike/CASBikeEvents?px=4472818&pg=personal&fr_id=29976

This race also taught me a couple of valuable lessons:

  • Make sure I get my elevations training in
  • Know the cutoff times of my race…know my shit
  • Keep my composure

The lake was low, I’ve never seen Big Bear Lake this low.  Because of that the swim had you jumping off the docks and swim into the middle of the lake.  Two laps for the Olympic Distance and the swim didn’t end until you crossed the timing mat back at the dock entrance which was about 300 yards after getting out of the water and you still had to make it nearly a 1/4 mile back to transition!  The race director negotiated with USAT to institute a “Deadzone” in this 1/4 mile stretch so I took advantage of walking and bringing my heart rate down.  My arms felt heavy on the swim and my breathing was strained.  I did my best to settle myself down but it’s tough at that elevation.  I shortened my stroke and powered through it.

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Last year this was the swim in.  The water level made that impossible this year.

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This is a challenging bike ride let alone in the middle of a race!

The bike had a tough 2+ mile climb at mile 6 and I took it nice and steady.  Having done this race before I knew where to take advantage of the downhills.  I came bombing done the hill at the turn around and slowed just enough to make the U-turn and the police officer directing traffic says “You got this” as I ride over the pylon and shout back “Bonus points for running over the pylon!” and away I went.  I knew I was one of the last riders but I didn’t mind.  For whatever reason my feet began to get really hot and this ride could have been 5 miles shorter and I wouldn’t have complained.  I get back to transition and begin changing for my run and a USAT Official is shouting at me “Are you going out on the run?”  What?  Duh?  I continue to change.  He comes up to me and repeats his statement and says “you’ve missed the bike cutoff and I need you to only do the 5k course”.  WHAT?!  I ask what time is it and he says “It’s 11:23 and the cutoff was 11 am”.  I look at my coach and she says “Do whatever distance you want!”  I take off out of transition pissed off and now doing math in my head and rationalizing what’s happening.  I’ve done this race before and my time wasn’t that different.  Did they not have a cutoff time before?  Did they never enforce the cutoff time before?  I told my coach I would make my decision at the 5k turn around.  I asked her if I would get my medal and she responded “If they don’t give you your medal I’ll steal one for you!”  I knew she had my back and would make sure I successfully full filled my goal.

And now the “Race of Defiance” is on like Donkey Kong!  I blew through the 5k turn around making my way to the 10k distance.  At this point I’m one of the last runners still on the course but I just don’t care.  One of the volunteers riding the course checking up on the last of us keeps me company while I tell him my dilemma to which he responds “I love that!  That’s something I would do!”  I tell him my 5 races, raising $5,000 for the National MS Society in my 50th year and he says “Oh, hell yea you are finishing this race!”  Now I’ve got other volunteers cheering me on because they know how important this is for me.  I get to the 10k turn around and take advantage of some fluid and away I go receiving cheers from volunteers along the way.  Armed with my new “tude” on this race I run as much as I can but it’s hot so I’m mostly walking.  Another runner is approaching me……I know him!  Fellow Riverside Road Runner member Oscar is coming towards me!  We stick with each other to the finish and now I’ve got another race under my belt that I give and get assistance finishing.  I love the support of fellow athletes!          cropped-5500050-theme-photo.jpg

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Oscar & I celebrating finishing our VERY challenging race!

Our finish wasn’t eventful, there was no announcement for our race finish.  But, I had a good story and looking back on my Big Bear Olympic Distance Triathlon  experience I’m not sure I would change a thing.  I did receive confirmation from the race director that I had been given inaccurate information on the cutoff times and I did in fact make all race cutoff times, but what’s done is done.  Again, I learned a valuable less…know my shit!

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Coach Kandi told the volunteer handing out medals my delima and this person decided I need the 10k medal too!  Sure I’ll take 2 medals!

My husband and my dog were waiting for me at the finish line but in all the drama or lack there of I didn’t get a photo of us…..ghaaaa! (another photo fail!).

I have just under two weeks until my next race the June Lake Sprint Triathlon.  This one is also at elevation and I’ve budgeted some time to make it up in the mountain for some elevation training.  I don’t want a repeat that mistake!

I have reached 22% of my fundraising goal and I’m 60% complete on my race schedule.  There will be a big gap between race #4 & #5, so I’ve got some time.  If you feel the need to help me out I’d greatly appreciate it.  Thanks and I’ll talk to you soon!

http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR/Bike/CASBikeEvents?px=4472818&pg=personal&fr_id=29976