Coeur Has My Heart

It’s crazy to think I’m heading into my fourth season with Coeur as an ambassador for my favorite women’s specific triathlon gear. Every year, the company outdoes themselves with their team kits & designs for the season. Every year, I find myself more & more excited to represent the team to the best of my abilities ….

…. and this year is no exception. I’m completely in love with this season’s team kit. It’s amazing – the design, the fabric, everything about it is amazing. So it’s no surprise I haven’t been able to stop smiling since trying on my kit. 

Here’s to a fabulous 2017 season ahead training, racing, & encouraging all those I cross paths with to keep on trucking along. 

Heart & coeurage,

JB

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Summer Smiles Through the Training Miles

Sooooo it feels like forever (who am I kidding? It has been forever) since I took the time to sit down & write a blogpost here. So much has changed yet also stayed the same since my last post. 

First and foremost, my hubby & I bought our very first home, making us homeowners!!!! And we were lucky enough to get our dream home with our dream kitchen!!!! 

I’ve also been lucky enough to have my first CA guests come out for a visit since I moved here last summer. I got to spend a week with a girlfriend & another week with my parents. And of course, we found plenty of time to play outside on the water, in the water, & around the water as we spent time on the lake, by the pool, & hiking to a waterfall.  

The sunrises & sunsets this summer have been amazing, & I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy many of them with my new southern friends – Gary, Paula, Nicole just to name a few – while swimming, biking, &/or running. ​

But the biggest change is …. I’m heading back to CA in just a few short weeks to return to my teaching job. After a year off from it, I’m missing it way too much & can’t wait to be back in the classroom. And I graduated from teaching kindergarten & will be teaching first grade this coming school year. I’m both excited & nervous about the change while extremely sad about the idea of living apart from my hubby. It’s going to be a challenge for sure. The one thing that makes it a tad bit easier is the connections we’ve made. We’ve got some amazing friends out here, so I know he’ll be looked after & find plenty of peeps to keep up his training with. 

Until next time ….. 

Heart and courage,

JB xx

The Day I Became An Ironman

Two and a half weeks ago, I embarked on one of biggest accomplishments since I began competing in triathlons.  I crossed the line in the wee hours of the night to hear my name announced followed by four amazingly sweet words – “you are an ironman!”  It wasn’t an easy day, and it definitely wasn’t pretty.  I wanted to quit more times than I’m willing to admit to myself or anyone else for that matter.  And I felt more emotions in the sixteen hours it took me to complete the race than I typically do in an entire year.  Reflecting back, I’m still not sure how I feel about myself and my performance other than I’m relieved it’s over.  I think I would be lying if I said I was truly happy with my performance because I feel everything was subpar on that day.

I went into the day of the race with lots of anxiety after experiencing some of my worst rides and swims in the weeks leading up to the race.  I had focused a lot on these two disciplines because my run was already questionable going into the race with an aggravated groin injury that has plagued me for more than a year now.  Thankfully, I had my parents, my teammates, and Rick to help calm my nerves the days leading up to the big day.  And before I knew it, race morning was finally here.  The gun (horn) went off, and it was time to race.

The Swim

My swim wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great either.  My biggest problem was I didn’t go out with the faster swimmers, and so I ended up getting stuck between slower swimmers and had to swim my way around people, costing me time.  I did, however, find time to slow down as I approached the bridge lined with spectators cheering us all on.  I took a moment to look up and take it all in just as so many friends told me to do.  Then I set out to find my rhythm and set a pace for the rest of my time in the water.  I exited the 2.4 mile swim just after one hour and twelve minutes.  Not bad.  Not great.

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Transition was slow.  I completely changed and dried myself off so I wouldn’t be wet on the bike.  I knew it was going to be a little chilly out on the course.  I hate being cold and didn’t want that to be an excuse when I set out for my longest ride ever.  I had ridden 100 miles but never 112, so it was to become a first for me.

The Bike

The first lap on the bike had a lot of promise … until … I stopped to use a porta-potty and the clip on my right shoe broke.  At first, I thought it was just mud packed into the bottom of my shoe (and it may have been), so I tapped my shoe against the curb a few times.  Well, that didn’t help much.  I still couldn’t get my shoe to clip in (by that time, it was definitely broken), so I rode the rest of the first lap and the last two laps praying that my foot wouldn’t slip off my pedal.  I slowed down and stayed to the right.  I didn’t want to be that person that takes out other athletes because I was riding too fast with faulty equipment.

I experienced a little drizzle on the first lap, but nothing to write home about.  On the second lap, it wasn’t a little drizzle anymore.  It was raining, and eventually, it became a downpour.   I was soaked to the bone and shivering, so much in fact, I was having trouble pushing on my pedals, changing gears, and taking in nutrition.  At some point, I dismounted my bike, and volunteers came over to rub my arms and legs trying to warm me up.  I kept telling myself and the volunteers I wasn’t ready to quit.  I had come too far to stop now.  I just needed to push through the cold and focus my energy on getting back to transition.  I kept repeating to myself, “suck it up buttercup,” over and over again.  My biggest mistake was when I stopped taking in anymore nutrition or fluids on the second lap.  My body was beginning to shutdown.  Everything was upsetting my stomach.  I tried taking small sips of fluid and nibbles of food, but my stomach just wasn’t happy.

At the top of the third lap, I needed to make another pit stop.  It was a quick one; but when I went to start pedaling again, my chain slipped off.  My hands were so numb and frozen, I couldn’t grasp my chain.  Thankfully, a volunteer standing close by came running over, put my chain back on, and sent me on my (not so merry) way.  I rode the rest of the way back into town repeating little sayings to keep myself motivated.

Riding back into transition, I heard my parents and then spotted them among the crowd of people.  I was so happy to see them.  It was just what I needed.  I’ve never had so much trouble dismounting my bike before.  I was terribly cold.  I waddled into T2 (serious waddling, and there is video somewhere out there to prove it).

T2

Those that were tracking my progress during the race would probably think I was having a picnic in T2 after seeing the time I took in there.  Twenty-five minutes is a frickin’ long time to spend in any transition, but I couldn’t stop shivering.  Volunteers pulled me to the back of the tent, brought me warm broth, stripped me down, rubbed my legs and arms, and covered me with one of those shock blankets.  I sat there contemplating whether or not I could even stand up to finish.  My LPHC was tight and sore.  It hurt to sit, it hurt to stand, and it really hurt to walk.  I was told by one volunteer I could stay in the tent for two more hours if I really needed, but I decided it was time for me to get going. Thankfully, I had a completely dry kit and socks in my T2 bag.  I got redressed with the help of volunteers.  I think the only thing I put on by myself was my visor.  I wrapped the shock blanket around my torso and set out to finish what I had come to do.  Whether it be by running, walking, or crawling, I was going to finish because I was ready to become an ironman and the thought of doing this all again just to get my medal wasn’t something I was willing to do.

The Run (Or In My Case – A Really Long Walk)

I set out for the 26.2 miles with the intention I would walk a few miles to warmup and stretch out my legs and then reassess how I was feeling.  I thought for sure I could run at least half of the marathon.  Right around the first little bend coming out of T2, I could see my parents and puppy.  Again, I was so ecstatic to see them.  My dad snapped a picture or two of me.  I told my mom I didn’t think I could do this.  She told me I wasn’t allowed to quit, and I could finish what I had come to do.  She reminded me it was okay to walk and I could still finished even if I walked every step of the run.  Those words were exactly what I needed right at that very moment.  So with my blue lips, I exchanged a few kisses and then began the long walk to the finish line.  I grabbed my special needs bag on the first lap, emptying the contents and immediately putting on my long sleeved top I had packed for the later hours of the run.

Thank goodness the run at IMAZ is so spectator friendly.  I saw so many familiar faces at just the right time – my parents, Heather, Erin, Kalani, other friends who were racing, and too many Coeur teammates to name them all.  A few miles into the first lap, I tried to pick up my pace and run.  Yeah, that wasn’t happening.  So I decided I would just walk as fast as I could for as long as I could.  My pace on the run wasn’t bad considering I walked pretty much every step except for maybe a dozen.  I found a few other walkers and walked with them as long as I could before setting off by myself again.

I crossed paths with Rick when he had just about three miles to go before he would cross the finish line and become an ironman himself.  We stopped, embraced each other, had our picture snapped by Kalani, and then continued on.  And of course, it had to start raining again on the back half of my second lap.  At that point, I stopped at an aid station and asked a volunteer if she could help me shove my swollen hands into the gloves I had been carrying around.  Then she made me a poncho out of one of the few remaining trash bags she had.  She was a lifesaver.  That trash bag really helped warm me up.  I tried to pick up my pace.  Eventually, I ran into Kalani again, and she kept me company for a few miles.

Soon I was in the last few miles before the homestretch.  The huge emotional buildup could be felt in the pit of my stomach.  I came up and around the curve before the beginning of the finish chute.  I found Rick.  I gave him all my extra layers and a big kiss.  Then I saw my parents.  They were out there waiting for me.  I stopped, collected myself, and then set out for the last few hundred yards of my race.  I saw the lights.  I heard the cheers.  I blew a kiss and raised my arms as I crossed the line and finally earned the title of an ironman – another first for the day along with finishing my first full marathon.

Reflection

Like I stated before, I’m still not sure how I feel about my performance.  Am I happy?  I think so.  Am I disappointed?  A little.  Will I ever attempt this distance again?  I’m still not absolutely sure (even though I say heck no for now).  One thing I do know – I have an incredible circle of friends and family that believe in me more than I believe in myself.  This year hasn’t been an easy one for me – from injuries to surgeries to moving away from all my family and friends and leaving behind a career that I put all my heart and soul into for the last ten years – but I still earned a special title no one can ever take away from me.  I became an ironman!!!!!

Making Georgia Feel More Like Home

This morning on a long walk with my pooch, Gizmo, through our subdivision, I had a feeling like I was back in the town I grew up in … it felt a lot like Long Beach but in a Georgia-country kinda way.  The weather is changing ever so slightly.  The mornings are cool with the days a bit warmer and the leaves on the trees are beginning to change color and fall to the ground.  The sky has taken on the fall-blue-hue that it gets as summer ends and welcomes the autumn months.  It’s cooler, crisper, more vibrant outside.

While walking to where the sidewalk ends, literally, I heard a helicopter overheard.  It was such a welcoming sound.  It reminded me of the air traffic that would fly overhead day in and day out while growing up in Long Beach not far from the Long Beach airport.  It’s funny how sounds and scents can make things feel so familiar.

Other things that have helped me with the transition of making Georgia feel a bit more like home include: fighter jets flying overhead, living close to a highway, sleeping with the windows open and listening to the chirps of the birds in the early morning, evening swims in an empty outdoor pool, boating with friends, and riding in Bella on beautiful afternoons with my little family.

It’s nice being able to hold onto familiarities while welcoming so much newness into my life.  And so now I’m contemplating whether or not I want to get cleared so I can work a few hours in a classroom each week while I continue working on certifications to start jumpstart my new career and company in the world of fitness.  I figure if nothing else it will give me a chance to make new connections and hopefully new friendships.  It will also force me out of the house and provide me with a schedule – two things I’ve really been missing since the move.

(Here’s a little secret – I miss having a job where I feel like I’m making a difference in other’s lives.)

The Three H’s of Racing in Georgia: Hot, Humid, & Hilly

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The calm of the lake before the race.

So, it’s no secret that Georgia is hot & humid, especially in the summer months.  However, I wasn’t aware just how hilly it was here until my visit last winter when I went for a ride (in my husband’s truck) around one of the preferred riding spots – the Bud Plant.  That’s when I had the chance to witness with my own two eyes just how hilly the landscape is around my new home.  Well, I tried to find the positive in this landscape of my new home state, & this is what I came up with – it will make me a stronger, faster, fiercer cyclist & runner when it comes to any course – flat or hilly.  It will also help develop the muscles I lost in my legs from injuries & surgeries over the past year or so.  The bummer is it also has the ability to aggravate stubborn injuries that continue to haunt me & my training.  But whatever … it is what it is …  if nothing more, it’s going to build character.

In transition getting ready for the morning's race.

In transition getting ready for the morning’s race.

And in the last five weeks, I’ve actually started to grow fond of the hilly terrain when I’m on my bike.  However, I still haven’t found a true love for it when TRYING to run.  I blame the hills for my continued groin problems.  Nor have I found a love for the hot & humid weather Georgia has to offer, especially during 3.5 hour rides or hour long runs.  Nevertheless, I do what I can with what I have, & that’s what really matters.  I’ve got two sprint races under my belt here in Georgia – both I completed while barely being able to run.

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The first race, which both my husband & I did a week after our move, I pretty much sucked at all three sports – I had a crazy slow swim, a lackluster performance on the bike, and a run that probably just looked downright horrible.  However, I didn’t stop.  I finished the race, collected my finisher’s medal, and hobbled back to transition.  And not quitting counts for a lot these days.

Waiting for my heat to begin.

Waiting for my heat to begin.

This last race, the Georgia Peach Women’s Triathlon (an all-women’s sprint tri), had at least one bright point.  I swam much better than I did at the first race … it wasn’t a great swim, but it was definitely better.  I came out of the water in 4th place.  Then it all just sort of crumbled for me.

The swim

The start of the swim

I didn’t have a horrible bike per se, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for after all the training I’d been putting in on the bike.  I was hoping that if I had a decent swim & a stellar bike, then I might have had a chance to place … a very slim chance but a chance.  It’s been a while since I’ve stood on a podium, & I miss it tremendously.

At least my bike looks fast.

At least my bike looks fast.

I knew I wasn’t going to have enough speed on the run.  My right groin/hip/pelvis/buttocks is still causing problems in my training when it comes to running.  I can run 3-5 miles on the flats/treadmill; but with hills, every step just sends shooting pain down my leg, through my pelvis, and up my back, & my pelvic floor continues to hurt days after the run.  So, during the run, I just kept reminding myself pain is temporary, it won’t last forever.  I dug deep to find heart & courage.  Then I started counting how many runners passed me.  I let them know they were awesome & to keep crushing it.  In the end, I also got the chance to pass a few runners myself, & I most definitely made sure to let them know they were doing awesome.

Trying not to wince at the pain as I make my way down a hill.

Trying not to wince at the pain as I make my way up a little hill.

I must say turning the last corner & seeing the finish line was a great view Sunday morning.  I actually had to sprint through the shoot to the finish in order to keep the girl just behind me from passing.  I was relieved the race was over.  I was proud I never stopped.  Believe me, I thought about walking countless times during the short 5K run, but that little voice deep inside me kept pushing me onward.  Oh, & another bright spot to that morning is I didn’t puke at the end of the race (which I usually do, especially after an all-out sprint finish).

Trying not to vomit as I catch my breath in the shade

Trying not to vomit as I catch my breath in the shade

Now it’s time to move forward, focus on getting my body healthy, & work toward the next race.  I have a few months until I suit up again, toe the line, & challenge my mind, body, & will.  It’s going to be a BIG challenge – my first Ironman.

Happy to be finished

Happy to be finished

Where Did the Last Four Months Go?  Reflecting On An Adventurous Life 

It’s been a while since I last sat down to write a post.  Lots has happened.  Much has begun to change.  Where do I begin? 

 

Well, let’s see.  With my husband living something like 3,000 miles away since December, I’ve lost my #1 training buddy.  Thankfully, my girlfriends stepped up to help fill that void.  I also haven’t done a whole lot of racing in the past four months, but there have been a few.

I got the chance in mid-February to fly out to Georgia & spend a long weekend with my husband.  He surprised me with a new road bike frame.  He’s currently building me up a new road bike to tame the rolling hills in Georgia where we are making a new home for ourselves.

I came back from Georgia with a new fire in my belly.  I was starting to feel stronger (even thought I wasn’t completely healthy) again.  At the end of February, I did Race on the Base with a group of girlfriends – Mel, Stephanie, Becky, Jess, & Yvette.  We had a blast & celebrated over brunch & drinks.

Once again, I have the privilege of representing Coeur Sports this year.  I cannot say it enough.  I absolutely love this year’s race kit.  I never once had to adjust it while I tried to make the podium (no luck this year, but there is always next year).

For being an endurance racer (aka – preferring races that span over several hours), Mel had a strong race & finished close behind me.

Becky, too, had a strong race.  I watched her pass me on the run & then had to work hard to catch back up to her on the bike.   And to think, she’s a grandma!!!!  I guess it just goes to show if one trains hard, then anything is possible.

Steph’s training this year has had to take a backseat to her schooling.  Finishing a doctorate degree is very hard & time-consuming work.  Even with so much on her plate, she suited up & raced the only way she knows how to – fiercely.


New to the triathlon scene, Yvette & Jess teamed together to get ‘er done. Can you say amazingballs?   Jess was a total support the entire day & even ran the run portion with all of us when she didn’t have to.

By March, my fitness level felt like it was starting to come back.  I could run a few short miles without any pain.  And for the third straight year, my family & friends came together to compete in the Seal Beach Run.   My parents, a few sisters, a brother-in-law, nieces, & friends joined us for the event.  It was another successfully fun year.  I’m not sure what people enjoyed more – the run or the food, but I’m willing to put my money on the delicious breakfast afterward.  It was also another year where my family & friends helped support Coeur Sports & the company’s awesome designs & philosophy.

Now on to the end of March.  With a groin injury that wasn’t getting better & surgery on my abdomen scheduled less than a week later, I made the decision not to race O’side70.3.   I decided it was best if I used the race as a training session & only completed the swim & the bike portions.  That also gave me the chance to root for my husband on the run portion of the race.   I made it through the swim & the bike & then propped myself on a curb to cheer on Rick & other friends racing that day.

Then the following week, I was laid up due to surgery to remove another cyst that had grown around my remaining ovary.  Thankfully, the surgeon only needed to make two small incisions instead of four & was also able to leave the only ovary I have left intact.  I had a great companion that never left my bedside while I recuperated.

 

Rick made sure I was up & about & getting enough exercise in without overdoing it. I was ready to get back to my “normal” life.  I couldn’t run or ride my road bike, but I was able to go on long walks with my furchild, Gizmo.  And before Rick left this time, we were able to venture out to where our love story first began – on the sands of Seal Beach.    

When Rick came back to visit later in the month of April & again in March, we finally got outside & enjoyed life – walking, talking, joyriding in his car, getting back on our bikes.    

     

It was a solid month after surgery when I finally felt good enough to really start training again, & for the last few weeks, I’ve been able to make plans with friends for some epic riding in between some major dental work thanks to an awesome posse of amazing friends.  

             

Now, I’m preparing for the next chapter in this so-called life of mine.  I have just a few days left at a job I’ve been doing for the last decade, & then I’m not sure what I’ll be doing.  Maybe it’s time for that career change I’ve been talking about for the last several years.  Maybe I’ll find a new passion that burns deep in my soul & makes me feel more alive than I’ve ever felt before.  Or maybe, just maybe, the light from teaching that was oh, so bright & has dimmed over the last few years will be relit.  Whatever it may be, whatever is waiting for me in Georgia, well, I’m taking it as it comes (or so that’s the plan).  What kind of life would I be living if I wasn’t open to the endless possibilities, change, & adventure?  One thing I know for certain, I’m excited to explore it with my perfect little family of three.  

 

Sometimes It’s All About Reaching The Finish Line

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It wasn’t the race I had hoped for, but it was what I was expecting – a hard race …. both mentally & physically. With a groin injury, I could only do so much running leading up to the race. I already had to make the tough decision to forego the full marathon & change to the half just weeks before race day. I tried to be smart about the whole thing & started in a wave slower than I would normally run, telling myself my time didn’t matter; but no matter what I told myself, it still did.

I felt good at the start of the race. My legs felt fresh & strong. My groin didn’t seem to be a problem. I used my watch to keep myself from going out too fast. Everything seemed to be going well.

I passed the sixth mile marker, saw my girlfriend & husband & was pumped. My body seemed to be holding up better than I had anticipated.

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But just as quickly as the thought entered my mind, it was blown out of my head by the pain that pierced through my groin area. At mile 8.6, I was feeling the effects of under-training. I hadn’t been able to run more than 5-6 miles on my training runs leading up to the race without experiencing pain. I tried to tell myself to suck it up. I even stopped running for a few moments but decided the pain was lesser when I was running.

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I found my husband & my friend, Stephanie, in the crowd of people. They provided me with words of encouragement, telling me I looked good & strong. I think they were bluffing after seeing pictures from that morning. Nonetheless, the words kept me going. I tried to trod along, one foot in front of the other.

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Eventually, with three miles left, I had to stop. My entire pelvic area was hurting so much, it hurt to “run” (if you could even call what I was doing running). I tried to walk at a quick & steady pace. It hurt too much. I stopped. I stretched. I started again. I stopped. I stretched. I started again. I tried running. It was too painful, so I went back to walking. Eventually, my husband told me it was okay if I didn’t finish. With just over a mile left, I couldn’t quit. No matter how slow I had to go, I was going to get my finisher’s medal.

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I got to the barricades that lined the path to the finish line. I was determined to run it in. It was the hardest mile I’ve had to run in a very long time.

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I finished. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t fast. But I finished. I earned my medal for the morning’s event. Then the real struggle began – walking back toward the car. I would walk a few yards & then have to find a place to sit down. I’d get up, walk a few more steps, & then need to sit again. My stomach ended up in knots. Before long, I was making my way toward bushes to toss my cookies, I mean Shot Blocs, water, & breakfast bar. My husband was a rockstar & fetched the car while I sat helpless on a curb in the sunshine.

For the rest of the day, I was useless. I was a ball of mush on the couch. I soaked my aching body in the tub & watched football from the comfort of my couch.

A few weeks later, I’m finally feeling well enough to run. What started out as a day I wasn’t going to push my body too hard ended as a day of testing my mental & physical strength. Thankfully, I found the strength to finish. Now, it’s time to look onward to the next race of the season, listen to my body, & prepare myself for the mental & physical toughness needed to be successful in endurance sports.