Sunday, April 8, 2018

Fireside with Al Carraway

I had a unique opportunity to go to a fireside tonight with Al Carraway, also known as "The Tattooed Mormon."  I was feeling a little under the weather, so I almost talked myself out of it, but I'm glad I mustered up the energy to go.

What a character she is!  She was a breath of fresh air with her animated bearing of her testimony.  And what an amazing story of faith and hope, even through all the hardships she endured.  I really connected with her on an emotional level, maybe partially due to the fact that I'm a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as well.  She shared her story of how she came to meet the missionaries, as well as how she came to Utah.  It was a story I knew all too well, as Ezra and I did the same thing 6 years ago now (pack up and move to Utah with necessities, and no certainty of where we would live of how we were going to provide for our family. But the Lord provided).

Hearing her story restored my testimony, as I've been feeling so numb and lonely as of late... asking WHY?  Why is life so hard?

What I took away from today's fireside isn't new, but it was a good reminder of things I needed to hear.  In the scriptures we are always told to "remember, remember," and that is what I needed... to remember.

Here are some bullet take away points from tonight:

  • The Spirit speaks, but it's up to US  to Listen.
  • CHOOSE: To keep going. To change your perspective. God.  Or... not.  Ultimately, the choice is yours in whatever you decide.
  • CHANGE:  your perspective.
  • TRY: Because you may find yourself in places you never thought you'd be, or going places you never thought you would.
  • Hard times will always be there, but so will Christ!
  • Embrace the unexpected!
  • God IS mindful of you!
She also said, "I wouldn't have a single thing right now if it weren't for God."  How true!  Sometimes I forget to give gratitude to my omnipotent Father in Heaven for blessing me many times over.  No matter how bad I'm feeling about myself from the mistakes I've made, I wouldn't even be close to where I am today, and would have nothing without God.  Thank you, Al, for reminding me how truly blessed I am and how good I have it.  Your testimony has allowed the Spirit to touch my heart once again and allow me to choose to keep moving forward in faith.  From one convert to another, much love, sister!

Photo Cred:

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Hibernation and Transformation

So, once again, I've managed to go more than a whole year without blogging.  Last year was, let's just say, an eye-opening experience for me.  I endured  a life altering experience which caused me to re-evaluate the important things in my life.  It challenged me, and caused me to become a wiser and more compassionate.  It also caused a shift in what I was focusing and devoting my time to.  Let me share with you what I've been up to...

So after participating in Ironman Tempe 70.3 in October of 2016, which was a huge goal I was working towards, I decided to take a little break physically and mentally.  The training and preparation that went into that event took so much out of me.  During that period of time, I was working 5am shifts at the University of Utah.  Although I was able to get off in the early afternoon, I was exhausted by the time I got home; not to mention it was blazing hot!  The times when I wasn't sleeping or working, I was training.  Needless to say, I was exhausted after Tempe. Although I still signed up for more races in 2017, most of them were shorter distances than I had been training for.

As I went to the "What Women Want" Expo with my friend, Jen, in April 2017, I decided to sign up for my first martial arts class.  I then took my place as a white belt at West Wind Karate.  I have loved learning and progressing through the ranks.  What is most important for me is the practicality of self-defense I'm learning.

photo cred:
I then had an overwhelming spiritual and healing experience with my friend, Nicole, who had the inspiration to perform a foot zone on me.  I learned so much about myself in the time we spent together.  Not only did I find out about ailments in my body, I gained insight on generational burden I was carrying around, and the energy I shifted in moving to Utah.  I was also able to feel the presence of my Lola (grandmother, in Tagalog) who passed away years ago.  That event played an active role in the transformation I underwent, and continue to undergo.  I released a lot of pent up emotion and energy to be able to heal and transform.

When my "life altering" experience hit, I wasn't sure what the outcome would be. I was scared, and I felt so alone. But I was armed with tools, and with the support of family and friends, around me. I also felt, very clearly, that God and Jesus Christ were there with me, telling me "Everything will be okay."  I truly believe things happen for a reason - both my spiritual/healing experience, as well as the life altering experience. Both were necessary for my transformation.

My hibernation hasn't been in vain, however. It has allowed me to reflect on what's important.  I've also been learning about balance.  As I was talking with my friend, Nicole, she asked me what that meant.  I pondered for a moment, and envisioned something of a see-saw. Balance would be when the see-saw is even on both sides. Yes, true, in the visual sense.  However, upon deeper conversation on the subject, that balance in the middle requires the ups and downs on either side of that playground toy.  So as in the body with homeostasis, there must be flow and movement. Otherwise, we would be dead.  In life, we need to experience the ups and downs... which allows us to feel and experience, which help us learn the art of balance.  But what does that look like with all of life's days passing?  Well, that will be different for each individual.  As for me, it required first a grounding.
Balance.  I'm actually still trying to figure it all out, to tell you the truth.  I've always been one to keep myself busy, but I've learned that I did that as a way to "not feel" some of the emotions that I wanted to push away.  Remember the ups and downs?  Yeah, I'm learning to feel those icky feelings that creep up on me every now and then, but also how to remedy and/or actively find out why I'm feeling those feelings. I've also been allowing myself to just be. I've been exercising my creativity and then also allowing myself to relax.  I've still remained active by taking karate and doing yoga, as well as lifting with Ezra twice a week. I've been reading for leisure, journaling, crafting, and painting. I've explored new venues of interest. I've signed up for a class to become a Reiki practitioner, and have plans on re-taking classes in hopes of working towards a different graduate program. I've been learning the art of meditation. I've been reconnecting with and building stronger relationships with friends and family. I've been speaking my truth more and being honest in my communication. I've loved more than I could have ever imagined. I've poured out my heart. I've allowed my emotions to be raw, and I have allowed others to witness my vulnerability.

By doing all of this, I have literally transformed. Like the raccoon, I've worn a mask for a long time, and am now learning to embrace my true identity and true nature.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ironman Arizona 70.3 - October 16, 2016

Where do I even start?  If you asked me a year ago if I would have been interested in running an Ironman event, I probably would have laughed and said no way!  For those of you who don't know, I've always had a lot of water anxiety, and the distance and cut off times were daunting.  But I also realized that a certain person and period of my life, related to my past, have been holding me back and causing so much fear from the failure I experienced during that time.  I only recently stopped having nightmares about those things and times, but I still held on to that fear of failure.  I then realized why I had been so scared to commit to something as grand as Ironman.  I also realized the true purpose of why I started training for my first triathlon 9 years ago with Team in Training.  It wasn't just to raise money for Blood Cancer Research for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, but it was a way to gain strength and independence, and to hold on to a piece of the fearless person I used to be.  And I have been fighting for that person since.  Triathlon has been that rock I clung to in order to remember that person and to slowly get her back.  And thus, I realized the purpose for this race... to let go of that fear and to get back the Joyce that wasn't afraid of anything... to cut the last cord that has been holding me back over all these years and to go for my dreams!

I really didn't have any intention of running any half iron distance triathlons this year.  I just happened to get sucked in to all the excitement of watching my teammates train and kill their races.  It all started with signing up for Ironman St. George as a relay, on a whim 5 months ago.  Then, seeing that the swim was a wave start, and not a mass start, I felt like it was possible!  So I began my training.  I went through good training weeks and horrible training weeks.  There were weeks where I just wanted to throw in the towel, and times where I was secretly hoping that I'd get injured so I could call it off and get my money refunded (not really, but I thought it at times).  There were moments of super highs, and moments of disastrous lows that left me with anxiety and the fear of failure.  Brineman Olympic Tri was my last triathlon before Arizona, and was just the race I needed to build my confidence back up. 

I will admit that my emotions went on a roller coaster two weeks prior to the event.  It was the worst the Tuesday of the week of Arizona!  But with the help of some healing crystals (aquamarine and citrine) and reprogramming and setting an intention for them, as well as a lot of prayer, my anxiety was quelled.  The intentions I programmed my crystals with were "Calmness.  Courage.  Confidence.  Finish."

My teammate, Gerald, and I made our way down to Tempe on Thursday.  We checked in at Ironman Village on Friday afternoon.

Once I got that wristband slapped on my wrist, there was no turning back.  It was now or never.  I didn't train this hard and this long to call it quits... and when I say I'm going to do something, I do it! 

We checked into the AC Hotel afterwards, which was conveniently located right near the village.  It was so hot, and I wasn't feeling well (I had been fighting a cold off early in the week, and was still feeling the effects) and wanted to get out of the blazing heat.  Brian finally made it down not too long after.  We all had dinner together and called it a night.

On Saturday morning, we got up, had breakfast, and went down to check in our bikes.  I actually went to have mine serviced, exchanged a few things from the Ironman shop, and then checked my bike in after it was ready to go.
I totally appreciated having an end spot on the bike racks!  I'm sure Sparkle (my bike) was a little intimidated by all these fast tri bikes, but I assured her that she was cut out for the job!

My long time friend, Theresa, who lives in Phoenix, took some time out and came to have lunch with me after I got all checked in!  I was so grateful that we got to take a few hours to catch up and chat.  It really helped calm more of my nerves!  My friends are the best!

 I also got to talk to my mother-in-law after lunch, and catch up! What a great afternoon!  When I got back, I got to meet Brian's wife, Cassia, who is another one of our SLTC teammates.  It was so fun having us all together!  We ended up going out to dinner together at La Bocca, a local pizza restaurant.

Then, we headed back to the hotel, and we got our gear bags packed, and everything we needed ready for race day!  I checked all the good vibes and messages that were being sent from friends on social media, then called it a night and got some good rest!

We were up around 430am/5am on Sunday morning.  We got our bags ready, tats put on, and then headed down to transition to set up!  The energy there was INTENSE and INCREDIBLE!  It was a little overwhelming, but it got me pumped!  The last race of this capacity that I participated in was Nation's Triathlon back in DC! 

I set up my spot, and then headed out of transition.  Transition closed at 6:30am.  I still had a good hour and a half to wait before my wave went off.  I got to see Gerald and Brian start and finish their swims.  I chatted with Cassia before I headed down to Swim Start.  I started to get nervous and my pre-race ritual started up too.  As I lined up, I chatted with a few of the girls in my wave.  One girl in particular that I met was Jen, from San Diego.  We were saying how we were all slower swimmers, and that we'd kind of stick together in the back.  It wasn't long before we were getting in the water, waiting for our wave to go off.  The water was warm, and it felt really good.  We had 8 minutes to warm up and get to the 1st buoy.  Can I just say how much I love open water starts?  (I hate running in from shore and having the water all choppy.)  Once the gun went off, I waited for 10 seconds and let the faster swimmers get a head start.  I stayed towards the back.  I felt great, and I had no anxiety!  When the next wave started catching up with us, I didn't even experience the anxiety I normally do when they start crawling over me!  I owned it and drafted them instead!  While sighting, though, I still felt like I was forever away from swim finish.  I had to keep reminding myself how far I've come, and that I was more than half way around!  Calmness, courage, and confidence in full effect!

I made it out of the swim with minutes to spare.  I loved having wetsuit strippers to help with getting that thing off.  I ran down the chute to transition, got to my bike, got my gear on, and headed out to bike out.  Mounted. Headed out for my 3 loops.  There was a bit of a breeze, but my legs hadn't yet transitioned over from the swim, so it took awhile to get into a rhythm.  I also didn't realize that my Garmin wasn't un-paused from the transition until maybe 2 miles into the bike.  Around mile 10, I felt like my body was super low, and my legs weren't as elongated as they should be.  When I looked down, my seat post had fallen.  I talked myself into staying calm, got out my bike tools, adjusted my seat, and headed back out onto the course.  A short while later, I heard a voice behind me, calling my name!  I couldn't see who it was, but as that person caught up to me, it was Jenn!  I was so very glad to see her!  She was out there killin it! 

 It was getting hot very quickly.  I was grateful for the aid stations on the bike.  I took water to refill and doused myself every time.  Before the end of the first loop, I started to have a moment of doubt, and a feeling of wanting to stop, but I kept reminding myself of my purpose... and told myself that I owed it to myself to do this, and that I had to prove to myself I could finish.  "Find that Joyce you once knew," was what I kept repeating to myself.  "Everyone believes in you.  It's time to start believing in yourself."  I loved all the encouragement and support along the bike course.  I felt a little bit alone on my 3rd loop of the bike, but I took it as an opportunity to really focus on why I was racing.  I finished up, and headed back in for T2.

As I got back to my bike rack, my FitSister (from my Fit Girls Guide family on Instagram), Lindsey,
happened to be standing by my bike rack!  It was such a pleasure to finally meet her (even though I had but only a few minutes)! 
We had tried to meet up on Friday and Saturday, but time and circumstances didn't allow.  I'm just very glad I got to meet her, and that she was there to help so many of our fellow triathletes, and that I got to give her a big (I'm sure really sweaty and gross) hug before I took off for the run! 

Afterward, I got my run gear on, slathered on some sun screen, grabbed Luna, and headed out for the 13.1 mile run.  It was blazing hot!!!!  Lindsey caught this picture of me on my way out of T2.  Once again, they had aid stations all around the run course, which was a huge blessing!  The sun was scorching.  Every time I passed by one, I'd dump ice down my bra, down my back, and put some in my hat to avoid heat exhaustion.  My stomach had been queasy all day long, so it was difficult to even think about my nutrition.  I had to force water and electrolytes down.  I had to walk quite a bit because I felt like I could vomit at any point along the run... stuff just wasn't digesting like I wanted it to.

What's nice about the course is that it's a 2 loop run around Tempe Lake.  You could see Ironman Village along the route, so the goal is always in sight.  You also run into many of the athletes that are still out on the run, which makes it nice for conversation.  I chatted with a few people along the way, who reminded me that no matter what happens at the end of the day, I was out here doing it, and that we're out there doing more than a lot of other people would ever consider doing and to consider it a blessing!  Someone even asked me the story about Luna! 

Around mile 4, I thought I saw a semblance of a Bees jersey.  I ran ahead to catch up, and it was!  It was Jenn again!  I was so glad to see her!  She was on her second loop, but she hit "the suck" pretty bad.  I told her I'd walk with her since my stomach was still in knots.  We also met Linda, who also was walking, as she took a spill on the bike and was hurting.  It was fun to get to talk to her as well!  She was a complete trooper to continue on as she was!  As we reached mile 12, Jenn wanted to run, so I told her I'd run that last mile with her.  I gave her a huge hug before she headed off to the finish, and I started on my second loop.

Jenn told me I was just what she needed at the time, which made this race so much more meaningful to me.  I'm grateful that I ran into her when I did.  We've been cheering each other on this whole season, and I'm glad I got to run this race with her!

As I made my way around the second loop of the run, I started to feel really funny.  Instead of being super hot and sweaty, I was dry and getting cold.  Not good.  I knew I probably needed to hydrate more.  I started to walk more and more, but I tried to hang on to a solid power walk to keep a faster pace.  Keep moving forward, Joyce.  Just keep moving forward.  You can't stop now.  Not finishing is not an option.

As I approached the pedestrian bridge, I heard someone cheering my name.  Being so sunny and a ways off, I couldn't tell who it was... and then I saw... Theresa!  It was so nice to see a familiar face!  I told her how I was feeling, and all the mishaps going on, but she just kept throwing the positivity at me, which was just what I needed.  She walked/jogged with me for a bit, and then I headed off.  I knew I only had about 40 minutes left to finish... and I wasn't sure if I was going to make it.  Around mile 10.5, I started to feel a little light headed.  I knew I had to get something in me.  When I hit the aid station, I downed just about everything they had... water, Gatorade, cola, Red Bull, pretzels, a banana, some orange slices, and washed it down with a little more water.  My stomach hated me after that, but I felt alive again.  If I hadn't, I think I might have passed out.  And I REFUSED to let anything stop me from finishing.  I reached the pedestrian bridge, and tried to will myself to run.  My lungs were on fire, and I felt my rib cage cramping.  I did a walk/run.  I reached mile 12, and had 10 minutes left.  I set off again and tried to run/walk, but my body was rebelling.  I took it two lamp posts at a time.  Time was running out.  I reached mile 13 and was just about at my time limit.  Theresa tried to push me forward... but I was running out of steam.  The finisher's chute looked long and un-ending. I sprinted the last little bit through the Finish Line and was so glad to be done!  The volunteers put the medal around my neck, and I stood there in un-belief that it was finally over!  I was so glad to be done!

Looking at my Garmin, I missed my cutoff time by 1 minute (which means I'd receive a DNF in terms of timing - cut off time is 8:30), but that didn't even matter to me at that point...  I FINISHED!!!!!   And you know what?  I proved to myself that I am Fearless!  I went out there and conquered all the fears that held me back in the past... water anxiety, failure, not being good enough.  I proved to myself that I AM GOOD ENOUGH!  And I proved it by showing up today, getting outside of my own head, and owning that course, no matter what I was feeling or what obstacles I was facing!  I know now that nothing can ever hold me back from what I set out to do, not even my past.  I am cutting the cord and saying goodbye to that part of me. 

I got to see my new friend, Jen, who I had met before my swim, finish not too long after me. 

Reflecting on it, it's still hard to fathom that it actually happened.  I was out there for so long, but it almost felt like a dream.  But don't worry, I have the soreness to remind me that it did. 

I'm grateful for all of you (family and friends) who have been following me and have been cheering me on along the way and from afar.  Your prayers, love, good vibes, and whatever else you want to call it have definitely been felt!  Thank you to Resa for being there to cheer me on during the race, and for being there at the end!  Love you!  I'm grateful for my SLTC family!  You all have been such a blessing in my life, and have made the past 2 years so much fun!  I'm so inspired by all of you, and you make a better triathlete!  I'm grateful for my OTFSLC and AGSaltLake families for helping me get stronger and achieve my goals, and for my FitGirls Family for keeping me accountable with my nutrition!  Thanks to Dr. Scott Asay and the Apollo Chiropractic team for keeping my spine healthy and for your support and encouragement!  I'm definitely grateful for my hubby, who has been so patient and supportive during my crazy training!  And I'm grateful to the Joycelyn, who I used to know, for coming back into my life. 

This journey has been an amazing one; definitely one that has been life changing.  I've gained new friends along the way, a new perspective... and I can't wait to see what opportunities I'll be chasing down next!  I love you all!  Thanks for being part of this journey... that's just beginning! 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Brineman Triathlon, September 10, 2016

I've been trying to get in one triathlon a month in preparation for Ironman Tempe 70.3 next month.  However, Echo, in July, ended up being my last race (until today).  I considered racing Jordanelle, in August, but I just didn't.  I think there are still some underlying negative emotions associated with that race (nothing against TriUtah, because I love that racing company, but here's the back story Jordanelle Olympic Tri August 2014), but my experience there 2 years ago needs a bit more mending before I can fully commit to it again. Interesting enough... I almost tried to talk myself out of Brineman.  It would be my last triathlon before Tempe, and an Olympic distance triathlon at that, so I really needed to get this race in. 

I wrote about my experience from Echo (can be found here: Echo Tri July 2016), and although I was okay with my decision that day, I think it took a bigger hit on my self-confidence than I actually realized.  I think that's partially also why I didn't run Jordanelle, and that I had some nerves going into this race.  With this realization, I found a purpose.  My friend, Chanda, has been hit hard with Life lately.  As a tribute to her still powering through all the obstacles she's facing, I dedicated this race to her, because this triathlon would only endure but a moment... her trials are still pending.  So I tucked in my shirt tails in, packed my gear, and headed up to Syracuse to get this race done and checked off.
Erin and I before the race. It was so cold!

With Mikayla. Sorry for the blurry pic!
The morning was cold... just like I remember the temperature being the morning of USTC 2 years ago.  It's a good thing I had an emergency jacket in the trunk of my vehicle.  I picked up my timing chip, and saw that my friend, Mikayla (who I met at Jordanelle last month) was volunteering again!  It was so nice to see her, and know she'd be around for the day!  I got my T2 area set up, and ran into Jen and Erin!  Yay!  More of our SLTC Bees were running the race than I realized!  Of course we took our pictures, including some with our new #SLTCTruck!  That thing is sweet (you rock, Adam)! 

Erin, Jon, and I with the SLTC Truck!

I think I ended up heading to the bathroom about three times before heading over to T1.  Thank goodness we had flushing toilets available to us!  It's a luxury compared to Port-O-Potties!  Once I got everything situated, and I made sure I had everything I needed for T1, I took my gear bag and made the walk over to the Stillwater Lakes.  A really nice guy offered to carry my bike up the part of the hill that wasn't paved.  That made my day!  I got set up, and then Amy and Mary joined me at the bike rack where I set up! Yay!  My bee babes joined me!
Amy, Me, Mary, Malia

Brian to the rescue!

As we were getting our transition areas prepped, and watching the Half Iron distance atheletes go off for their swim, we heard someone's tire pop.  It was one of the half iron athletes whose tire had popped.  One of our SLTC family members, without hesitation, jumped to the rescue and got that athlete's tire fixed before they came back, cutting into his own warm up time! 

This is just one of the many reasons I love this tri club and this community!  They're always willing to help and lend a hand!  Thank you, Brian, for being such a great example and helping [Brandon] out! 

Before I knew it, it was time to get in the water myself.  I got zipped into my wetsuit and headed down to the ramp.  There were only a handful of Olympic distance triathletes racing today.  There were more HIM and Sprint participants today.  We did a mass start, which was changed from a rolling start like originally planned.  The water was cool when you got in, but once you got going, it felt amazing!  Starting is the hardest part for me.  Once the gun went off, I had my anxiety kick in a bit.  I had to remind myself to take deep breaths and run my own race.  Part of my anxiety in the water is trying to keep up with other triathletes, when I know I'm a slow swimmer.  I had to stop and tell myself to imagine that I was swimming at Black Ridge Reservoir with Val, and enjoy the moment.  I also worked again on my form, and imagined what Erin would tell me to adjust.  Once I did that, I relaxed.  The water at the Stillwater Lake was a bit shallow around the banks and the islands we had to swim around.  It was a nice single loop around those islands, instead of two loops which I usually dread.  I told Mikayla before the race that she might need to save me (let me rest on her kayak), but surprisingly, I didn't need to! I got back to the boat ramp and was a little woozy feeling when I got out of the water.  But I headed up the ramp to T1. 

I got my swim gear off, into my bag, and donned my bike gear.  I took a little bit to make sure to do so and stabilize myself before heading out.  Sparkle and I headed out of transition and got started on our 24 mile ride.  The road that headed out towards the neighborhoods was a little rough and bumpy.  Once we got to Antelope Drive, the ride was smoother, but then we ran into steel plates in the middle of the road.  A student driver ended up behind me, so when the other lane was clear, I waved the kid to go around me.  I hope he didn't get docked points for that, but we would have been there for awhile.  There was a head wind heading out to the Island.  Once we got on the Causeway and past the entry gate, the ride was so nice.  I love the landscape there at Antelope Island, which made it easy to take your mind off the task at hand.  I'm just glad I didn't run into a bison, like my friend Jill mentioned in one of her posts.  A few times, I felt my hamstrings get tight (I've been having issues with my right hamstring lately), so I adjusted and it would release.  I didn't push as hard as I could have, as I wanted to reserve some energy for the run.  At the turn around, I started to feel negative feelings creep in (Yes, that moment when your mind starts talking to you).  I started countering that negativity with my mental toughness training (it's a good thing I took Friday evening to prepare some of that, as I knew I'd need it at some point today).  I reminded myself how beautiful it was, how I needed to finish this so I was more mentally strong for Tempe next month, etc.  I thought about Chanda, and how she's powering not only through all those obstacles, but at the same time that day, she was making her way down Big Cottonwood Canyon at the marathon! I saw some of those beautiful wild sunflower-looking flowers along the side of the road, and it reminded me of all my beautiful friends and teammates who have helped uplift me along the way (Jennie, Val, Mary, SJ, Brook, Suzanne, Mary, Amy, Tamra, Michelle, Barb, Marisa, Janet and so many more of you)!!  Just thinking of all of you amazing friends of mine, who have been such inspirations to me, lifted my spirits and boosted my energy.  It was so nice to see Lynsey on the final turn on the bike, leading me back to T2!  She definitely put a smile on my face!

As I got back to T2, I looked at my Garmin, and realized that that's the fastest bike I've clocked!  Energy boost!

I headed out on my run... and though my legs weren't as heavy as they normally are, my lungs felt a little fatigued.  I did a little walk/run and tried to increase more of my running... but then I felt two Charlie Horses looming - one each in the inside of my quads.  I felt it relatively early in my run, so I decided to do a lot more walking than I wanted to have done.  It was getting a little warmer, but I kept moving forward.  It helped seeing so many of our Bees out on the course... it kept me going!  By the turnaround, I felt my stomach growling for food.  Thank goodness for one of the volunteers, who let me have a couple of her Triscuits!  That helped so much!  On the way back, Alicia and Bret caught up to me!  We chatted for a bit, and I did a little run/walk with them!  They went ahead, as I started the cramping starting up again.  But I kept moving, and kept putting one foot in front of the other.  Before I knew it, I looked down at my watch and saw I only had about 0.2 miles left!  I could see the finish line!  I picked it up a little more.  I caught Alicia and Bret again on their second loop, and they cheered me on, letting me know that I was pretty much there!  I ran it in through the finish line, and got my medal!  It felt so good to finish! 

I finished!

Lynsey, me, Erin

I couldn't have been more happy to have that medal placed around my neck!  It was a big victory for me!  I ended up with a PR (despite my very slow 6.2 mile run), and most importantly, I defeated that demon in my head that was telling me I wasn't good enough and that I'd never be ready for Tempe.  Chanda reminded me last night that, "The time and place where you finish does not define the person you are." It's so true... triathlon is so individual.  And it meant a lot to hear that, especially when there are many others who place a value on someone based on their finish time over more important things (no offense to any of you fast people because you all inspire me, and I think you all are amazing), but sometimes it's just about finishing... and knowing that you just accomplished something monumental!  This accomplishment was integral for me and my future success at Ironman Tempe.  I needed to prove to myself that I am ready, whether I really am or not.   I can endure the pain and the distance, whether I really am physically prepared or not, but if I'm not prepared mentally, it doesn't mean a thing.  What I do know, is that no matter what my time is and where I finish, I AM READY!  I'm grateful for all of you who got me through this race, whether you realized it or not.  I'm grateful to have such a great support system!  Here's to TriUtah and to Brineman! and to all my SLTC fam!  Here's yet another race I'll add to my favorite races to Run Again! 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Snowbird Trail Challenge (Short Course 7.5 miles) July 23, 2016

Back in June, I signed up to participate in a research study.  I really did it so I could get my VO2 max testing done, but I also got Watts testing done in the process, unbeknownst to me.  Part of the study required us to take part in a trail race at Snowbird.

Today was the day of the race.  The temperature up at Snowbird (Little Cottonwood Canyon) was pretty chill this morning.  We started up near the Peruvian Pass.  I met up with my friends and teammates, as usual.  It's always fun chatting and goofing off before the gun goes off.

As you can tell, I caught up with some friends/teammates I haven't seen in quite some time.  My friend, John, and I noticed that he, his son, and myself had sequential bib numbers on, so we were dorks and had to take a picture!  Some of these friends also participated in the same research study.

The race started a little late.  It was still cool when we went off.  It started off on a downhill, and then about 0.7 miles into the run, we started the vertical climbing.  It was hard for me to breathe, probably due to multiple factors, so my uphill climb was pretty slow.  But, because I was moving like  a snail I(and of course because I'm on a gorgeous trail and not competing for podium) stopped to take pictures along the way! I finally was able to somewhat relax my breathing after about 2 miles (which is usually what it takes for my body to warm up and get into a rhythm).

I was pretty much the caboose on the short course, but then people started to come behind me.  It made me nervous that maybe we had to do two loops!  I then ran into a few runners, including fellow Run4Fun friends (Robin and Tehra) who said they got a little off course.  I at least didn't feel too alone at that point, and I knew I wasn't lost (whew)!

We got up to one of the upper trails before we had to had back down.

Finally there was a reprieve!  Thank goodness for the downhill!  I say... the uphill makes the downhill totally worth it!  I even pulled a "Joshua" and captured a video (probably not the smartest idea, but it was fun) on the downhill.

When we got back to the single track trails, there was a little over 1.5 miles left.  I was so grateful!  My speed picked up a little, and I'm glad I didn't eat it on the downs (I came close a couple of times on the single tracks).

The last 0.7 was back up the downhill we came down!  It was a little like a cruel joke, but those finishing around the same time powered our way back up the hill.  There was one guy who passed me on the uphill, who was a little slower on the downhills (he had never run downhill before).  He had sprained his ankle about a half mile back, and was killing it on the uphill!  He was training for his first Spartan Race!  I don't know your name, guy, but kudos to you, man!  You rock!

There was a girl a little ahead of me, who just felt like she didn't have anything left in her to push/run up to the finish.  I gave her a little encouragement, and told her that we could run together at the bottom of the last little uphill before the finish.  We did it together, and we finished together!  And that's what it's all about!  I probably will never make the podium, but I love being able to give people that last little bit of hope and push to the end... it's those moments that have meant the most to me in races where I wanted to give up, so it's my way of giving back. 

I did lose my dinosaur, Xena, on my way down, so I went back up a little ways to look for her (that's where the last short course runner said she saw it, when I asked if she had seen a green dino).  I wasn't able to find her (which made my heart sad, but I'm hoping she was found and she's able to go on new adventures elsewhere)! 

I headed back to the finish line area, and waited for my friend, Heather, who was still out on the half marathon course.  She came in not too much longer after I had gotten back... and she placed third in her category!  Congrats Heather!

What a fun race!  I definitely miss hitting the trails!  Thanks Wasatch Trail Series!  I'm definitely going to do be doing that one again!