Sunday, September 27, 2009

Smile!! Goal Accomplished!!

Going into Ironman Wisconsin, I had one major goal.......SMILE. I feel like I accomplished this goal. It was a great day, a day to smile, a day to be surrounded by friends. A day to be enjoyed.

Now, this does not mean that this was an easy day by any fact I think this was my hardest Ironman ever.
Lets start with a little background.........My ironman training really started in about July when my Iron levels reached a therapeutic level and migraines allowed me to train on a consistent schedule. With this late start, my expectations needed to change. This transformation of expectations did not happen overnight. It was a process that forced me to really examine " "what" did racing mean to me? Did racing really define who I am? Am I the same person regardless of how I race? These are questions I needed to explore. Now these were not new questions......these questions have been bouncing around in my head for the last couple seasons. In fact, since I qualified for Kona in 06, my seasons have gotten slower and slower with more health concerns in the mix, forcing me to question myself, "will I be that athlete I want to be again".

So, it was so refreshing to go into IM WI 09 with this goal of SMILING. I promised myself that as i got out of the water, I would not beat myself up over my swim time.....and the same as I got off my bike. I would enter each new phase with a positive attitude no matter the time.
And this is how my day went.........

This Swim started out with a calming tread while waiting for the gun. I tried to position myself as close to the buoys as I could. The thought was that swimming on the inside of the buoys would be less congested. Well, I think I forgot how crazy the start of an Ironman swim is.......honestly- i don't think i was really able to "swim" for the majority of the first loop. It was Crazy. The second loop felt great and i was able to get into a good pace.

The bike was just a lot of fun. I really love that bike course and the support on the course is incredible. The hills on the 2 loops make it go so fast and the winds were nice to us that day. My motto on the bike course was slow and steady......and i did that. Nutritionally, I was only able to get half of my bottled(one of my 600 calorie bottles) nutrition down and i tried to make up the calories with some gels and blocks i had on the bike. I knew my stomach wasn't great but I hoped things would be ok. I counted.......I had 5 long bathroom stops(throughout the whole day) least this time i didn't have to wait in line...that adds up a lot of time......always working on that nutrition.......shoot.

Onto the run........I love to run. And when I started the run, I was so excited and happy. There is nothing like the feeling of running past the Capital and down State Street, passing all your friends.........and then I looked at my pace.......yikes.....6:30.

That is way too fast. My adrenalin was going and I knew I needed to slllllllloooooowwww down. I just hoped I hadn't down too much damage. The interesting part is when I slowed down to my 8 min pace, it didn't feel any better. And then 9 min pace felt worse. Ugh.......there were up and down points all through out this marathon. This run by far was the hardest marathon of any IM I have done. There were times I felt great and then there were times when I thought i was done. At about mile 13, my legs- both of them decided to seize up with cramps- the kind that stop you in your tracks. It took a lot of mental strength to move through that pain and discomfort and continue running. Really, I knew that if I started to walk, I wouldn't be able to run again. My plan was to walk through the aid stations, taking in broth when they had it, coke and water, walk the hills and to just keep up whatever pace I could without walking. I was able to do this and keep smiling with all the support of friends cheering....... There is nothing like the sight of mile 25 and then 26. You know you have done THIS and the day is almost done. You can kick it in for that last stretch down the finish line and LIFE IS GOOD.

Overall, this was really a great day. Thanks to Brian who was with me every step of the way, who carried my things, who took pictures, who was there smiling at the finish, who got my bike for me at the end of a long day, who massaged my sore muscles, who listened to me, who held my hand, who drove me back home.

Thanks to all my friends who cheered and yelled and supported. Thanks to Erik and Kerry and all the other fellow Ironman athletes........what a day to share with friends.
Can't wait to do it AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Life is Beautiful

It is nearing the end of summer.........I realize it has been a really long time since my last post. I am thinking that means that summer has been really good and busy.
I also think that Life has given me many opportunities to grow, to laugh, to think, to cry, to challenge myself and to be happy. It is in the mix of all these opportunities that I find myself blessed and I can't help but look around and take notice that Life is Beautiful.

The best way to show you the beauty is through our most recent pictures.

Lexi turned 10 this summer.

Trevor turned 12, loves baseball and made the All-Star team.

Meet Brian. He is a beautiful person inside and out and I am blessed to have him in my life.

Tristan(Brian's son) and Trev are buddies.

Tristan, Trev and Tanner(Brian's youngest son) at the Twins game

Lexi took part in her first Art Exhibit.

We took a trip out to Brian's parents house (the farm). The kids had a blast riding dirt bikes, 4-wheelers, visiting the neighbors farm, petting horses, gathering eggs......

4th of July always brings family, fun and laughter. Beautiful weather and sunshine was all around.........

Nine of the Twelve siblings made it to 4th of July weekend. We always line up in birth order, with Rosie leading, of course.

The Grandkids make up a big group (too big for my lens)

There is nothing like a BIG gathering to remind you how blessed you are to have people in your life.
Life is Beautiful.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

what happened over spring break.........

We started out the week with a trip to the MOA. Lexi and her dance group gave a dance performance at the Nickelodeon University.

Lexi did a great job dancing and afterwards we enjoyed some time going on the rides. Well, let me first Trevor went with his friend and Lexi went with her friends and there I was by myself thinking, my kids are getting old. So, I found myself wandering around the mall for awhile. Later, I met up with the kids. Lexi went home with friends and Trev and I stayed longer and went on more rides together. I have to say, I love rollercoasters.

I am thinking a trip to Valley Fair is in order this summer. My kids have never been there!!

The rest of the week really quieted is a run down of what I accomplished:
-enjoyed a "free" week of yoga at CorePower Yoga and Love It!
-swam masters and was able to enjoy coffee afterwards with friends
-had a 2 hour massage with Becca........can't say enough about that!! thank you Becca!
-cleaned my house, including floors on hands and knees and dusted (this doesn't happen as often as it should)
-framed a lot of black and white photography and attempted to hang-help :(
-caught up with my sister and just hung out together
-talked to my mom on the phone a lot!
-went to my neurologist, had another MRI, determined to figure out these migraines
-went to several new doctor appointments............
-finished season one of 24 on my trainer! ready for season two. so sad about Terri :(
-got a manicure with Lexi and she picked out a pretty purple for me.
-went to a couple movies with friends
-got my road bike out for some hill repeats before the rain and snow
-started an online graduate class, "behavior is language"
-spent some time reading

And before you know it, the week was over. Spring break was done.
Back to school. It was great to have the week off and as much as I would have loved to have gone somewhere warm or somewhere also felt really good to stay home and take care of some things, connect with some people, take care of myself, and relax.

Here are some random pictures from the week.

One of our favorite things to do is to ride our bikes to the park and stop on the way to feed the horses.

Trevor and Howie, the miniature pony

Lexi and Dreamer

Our other favorite thing to do is to jump on the trampoline.
Here is Lexi jumping with water balloons. This was on one of those nice days!

Favorite pictures of Trev this basketball season:

Friday, March 20, 2009

A day to be remembered.........

March 21 will always be a day to be remembered.
Ten years ago, Sunday, March 21, 1999 , was the day that my Dad's life ended.
I was reminded of this by a letter written by my mother that I would like to share(with her permission).
Dear Family,
Saturday, March 21st will be,as most of you have remembered, 10 years since your Dad has died....I remember him best when I think of the '12 gift package 'he left me. He left me 6 boys, 6 girls, now spouses and 28 grandchildren. I am so grateful for each and every one of you. You are all so special, yes, each of you. I know he is looking down feeling very proud.. I really feel God walks with me, His arm around my shoulder, like Bob used to do. Saturday I will especially remember him in Mass and then Mary jo and I have plans for dinner at Rosebuds...Take care and know that God loves you as I do.

Though it was this day that my Dad's life ended, his memories will always be alive. My Dad did such an incredible job being the husband he was, the father he was, the grandfather he was, the community member he was......His life will always be celebrated.

I do remember when my Dad died, it was so sudden and so unexpected. It was a very difficult time. Grief is such a funny thing............ You know it just kind of consumes you without you really knowing it. It has such power, it can just knock you over. And you kind of wake up one day and you kind of say, "wow, what happened to me recently" and then slowly you reintegrate back into life. And then every once in a while it will just sneak up on you again and get ya. Grief......its a powerful thing.
I am not sure grief ever really goes away, I think you learn how to cope and adapt to living with grief.

I love sharing stories about Grandpa Bob to Lexi and Trevor. They want to know everything about him. They could listen to stories forever. They love hearing about our family adventures and how my Dad hid chocolate everywhere....well, all the kids knew the hiding spots!
I will be digging out some different pictures but here are the ones I had on my computer.

Me and Dad in Highschool.
Julie showing off the 80's trends

Grandpa Bob and Trevor in Florida

Julie and Dad (I loved my Dad's hugs)

I know that my Dad is watching over me. I feel him around me all the time. I especially feel him when I am out in the woods.
My dad loved nature and being outside.
I love you Dad and I miss you.