Sunday, December 31, 2006


So I get released, start training, get my first 4 mile run in and then fate hits. I come down with Pneumonia. Full blown massive fever, chest pain, vomiting, coughing and dizziness. I lay in the clinic getting the bad news, antibiotic shot and a head full of "what now's". So I am couched, again! With nothing else to do to distract myself from the pain of a herd of elephants that have taken up residency on my chest, but watch movies I have had some interesting thoughts.

I have watched a plethora of movies like Rudy and St. Ralph that portray the message of "Dare to Dream". I began to think of what it means to "dare". Dreaming seems to be easy, but why are great things referred to as "dare to dream"? The definition of dare is "make bold: take upon oneself; act presumptuously, without permission". Now thing start to make sense. Big goals typically are bold and in order to even think it possible there must be some presumption and usually without evidence that would lead to success.

What strikes me as the real lesson is that the success is in the "daring'. It is in the willingness to see beyond what the evidence would insure. The lesson for me is in that the victory is in the dreaming, it is in taking the steps towards the dream. It is in staying committed to the process of the dream. That is the expressway to the soul; the toll is presumptuously staying on the path even without permission from evidence of the final destination. This is the road I choose...even while on the couch. Now I train the brain and the body will follow when it can.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

game on!

Game On

I am released to begin my training. I will be in pain. I will have new sensations. I will have lost fitness. I will be back in the saddle. Everyone on of us (triathlete or not) experiences pain, new sensations and loss of fitness (physical, mental, spiritual or emotional) at one time or another. I am not special. I am only me. Sometimes I will hurt more, sometimes it will come easily, sometimes I will be frustrated and sometimes I will be elated. Isn't that how it is. I remind myself that this is the road I chose. I am part of something bigger than myself. This is my fish bowl. This is my game. It is not about who else does it, how "they" do it - It is all about how I do it. this is my life, this will define me. Not by results, but by my integrity in the process. It is not the finish line that makes the champion. It is the process of getting there that makes the champion. It is what is learned, discovered, defined, embraced, heard, accepted in the process that makes the difference on any given day. I am ready. I know now that even when I could not train - the process never stops. I am an Ironman in my head. I am an Ironman in my heart. I am an Ironman in my soul. It is MY path. Life prepares me for triathlon and triathlon prepares me for Ironman!

Friday, December 08, 2006

The lecture!

I cant believe I got it again - The Lecture. It is the one that ALWAYS comes right after "they" become baffled with my spine, "I don't know how you have been able to do all that you have" and "I am not quite sure what to do next, maybe we will try ...". Then comes the lecture. It goes like this "You need to remember that you are also a mom, wife and friend. You are young and have a long life to live". ARRRGGG!!!! Who are you to tell me what kind of life I should live. Who are you to decide who I am. Who are you to even make decision about me just to make your life/job easier. Look I exist to make people like you question your limitations. I do what I have to do so that people like you MUST realize that there is more to life than doing what is safe. Swimming 2.4 miles with 2000 other people is NOT safe, Riding my bike for 112 miles with 2000 other people, cars, motorcycles and the elements is NOT safe and running a marathon after that is not freakin safe. If not for people like us that push the limits, how would people like you even know what is safe. You are right, I am a Mom, Friend, Wife, ex-Wife, PTA president and black belt. Most of all I am an IRONMAN. That allows me to be the best I can be at all the other "safe things" in my life. You do your job and get me to back to doing mine.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Who am I

Ok so I may sound like a broken record, I admit this. However, one thing I know is that every great lesson has several mutations before is owned. So I have had some time running from this kid activity to the next. Those things that I might have skipped when focused on Ironman, I can attend now. With three kids, there is a plethora of activities that previously would have been farmed out or just missed all together. I have found myself trying to make up for lost activism, mommy guilt, forgotten treats and late showings now that training is not my excuse. In fact, (I think to myself), I don't have any excuses so get to the school, field trip, soccer field or playdate. This has evolved into a need to do everything - extreme mom-a-thon. Making bread, decorating, getting everywhere on time, shopping for the family, home repair and scheduling, taking on part time projects and so much more. Unfortunately, there is no finish line with this kind of stuff. There is no measure of progress. There is no P.R. There is no medal at the end of the day, field trip, soccer drive. There are no signs to say good luck as I leave the house in the morning. There are no volunteers handing me coffee from one errand to the next. The other moms are too involved in there own list of "to do's" to work together. Oh how I miss Ironman. I miss my team mates. I miss my coach (even though he makes me feel things I hate to feel). I miss my frustration of how and when to take a shower between pool swims. I miss those long slow rides, I miss (cant believe I am saying this) those threshold workouts. So now I just take all those "miss-ing" times and use them to create a new level of certainty. Perhaps this is serving to make me even more sure of what I want. Perhaps this is serving to make me really decide what I want to do with the next Ironman. Who will I influence? How will I use it to make a difference. How will I own my next race. Perhaps when I decide this - I will ride, run and swim. Let the healing begin

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Oh my - physical therapy

So I go into physical therapy like some sort of bad ass. I mean come on, I am an Ironman. In comes this giant, bald, very serious man and says to me do this and that. Hmm apparently I don't even stand up right. He also tells me that I have taught my body to do a lot of things the wrong way out of compensation for my back. Now this is the man that has gotten professional basketball players back on the court, so he knows a thing or 2. So I am learning how to stand, walk, sit up and move all over again. I was very sad at first. It just seemed like my days of Ironman were so far off. Now I remember, I did this so that I could come back stronger. I would much rather take a little extra time off and come back with all new Personal Records than come back with the same ole story. This is a life lesson that is not fun. There are days when I throw major tempertantrums. But each day, I settle in to baby steps. Each day I realize that this is not that different that Ironman. While we look at swim splits, bike splits and run splits; it is easy to forget that each of those splits starts with one stroke, turn of the peddle and step. So this is my recovery split.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

2 weeks out

Post surgery
2 weeks out. Some have asked me to capture my thoughts. To be honest, the pain of surgery and the pain of dropping out of the end of the season was more than I could capture in the moment. The last weekend of the season has come and gone and now I feel as if I have some perspective. Funny thing about this mode of transportation called Ironman I have chosen to get through life – as much is revealed after as is during; a sort of hindsight magnified. As I watched them cross the finish line of the race that was to be mine, I was sad and angry and frustrated. Yet, somehow I know there is a method to this. In this process I have become hungry again. In fact I am freakin’ starving. The fear of having something that answers my questions of who I am taken away from me has made me fiercely protective of it. It occurred to me that my spine resembles all the twists and turns of my life – literally. The curves of my spine are like those of a life that has been taken and shaken. The cracks of forcing something not to be forced are the same as those caused by a young man driving too fast and the tree that seemed to magically appear. So while the surgery was minor to some, like any serious endeavor has caused a time of reflection. Forced slow down, has allowed, in fact screamed for evaluation. I noticed some things I never noticed before. I may only be able to walk on the same streets I have always ran on and now I notice the houses and trees. Afraid of losing the feeling of freedom as I run and ride, I notice the same butterflies, bunnies and deers are still out there watching me. “Now you are noticing us” they seem to say. While I would much rather “race” them, there is something to be gained from standing still with them. Appreciation is received from both. I realize I have rarely stood still. I realize that with any goal I have set, there has been not only the call to action, but also the call for reflection. Whether having babies, getting married (again), running marathons, getting my black belt and then the second; I have always been called to grow by the very thing I thought I was controlling. As such, Ironman has done the same thing in the largest way yet. Even when they said the vertebrae was crushed, they would not operate. Yet because of my hunger for the island and my never-ending frustration with being just below the line; the spine caved just enough for the soul to give. Enough to stop me, enough to force me to ask, “ Ok what is it I am to learn?” As has been my experience, Ironman not only holds up the mirror, but a giant magnifying glass as well. There are times that I dig my heel in and refuse to budge and Ironman graciously moves me to the place I must go. Now it is patience. Never one to be patient, I realize that perhaps this is my Achilles heel. Is this the way it will be? I would not wait for my heart rate to settle, so I pushed to over training. I would not wait for the recovery time, so I would get sick to force recovery. I would not trust the path, so I would tumble. And so on, until Ironman said sit down and own this. The watts faded and the pain grew and the docs all said it was time. So now I sit and watch Ironman and races and know it is not my time. If I don’t learn from this – Ironman will make me sit more. It will not be forced, controlled or manipulated. I chose this, I called upon Ironman to forge me and it was up for the challenge. So I will find out how to be patient- for now. I suspect I will continue to do life like the bulls of Spain. I will run over some, charge the roads and forge new paths until the time comes to be controlled long enough to learn and then prepare for the next step of the journey. I am corralled for now, in preparation for the next step as Ironman will take me by the hand and say it is now time. The cannon will sound again.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Beauty and strength

Beauty and Strength

I, for a long time have struggled with the “beauty” ideal. What red blooded American woman hasn’t? In fact, what global woman hasn’t? According; to recent studies, not many woman have avoided the “struggle”.

2005 Dove Global Study
_. A comprehensive 10-country research that surveyed 3,300 girls and women between the ages of 15 and 64 in Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America._
_. Commissioned by Dove to explore self-esteem and the impact of beauty ideals on both women’s and girls’ lives.

The findings speak for themselves...
_. 90% of all women 15-64 worldwide want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance (with body weight ranking the highest)._
_. 67% of all women 15 to 64 withdraw from life-engaging activities due to feeling badly about their looks (among them things like giving an opinion, going to school, going to the doctor)._
_. 61% of all women and 69% of girls (15 to 17) feel that their mother has had a positive influence on their feelings about themselves and their beauty.
You can help change this.
We encourage you to read the entire report and share its findings with other women and young girls in your life.
And yet, what I found through triathlon, marathon and ultimately Ironman, is that doing incredible things seems to temper that feeling of doubt and fear and hopelessness. It is replaced with strength and reassurance and hope. I recently watched the Ironman World championships. A self-professed professional triathlete groupie (I cant find another word to describe the respect and amazement I feel for the women who go before me on that path other than groupie), I was taken aback by one simple fact. These women looked more beautiful after crossing the finish line of this 141-mile race than they did at the start line. Ok so lets be clear, the start line is at 4 a.m. I am not sure even God looks good at 4 a.m. However, these women were glowing at the finish line some 9 hours later. Now having done a few of these and knowing how these women accomplish this race, I can speak from experience. They are not out there “do dahing” – they are balls to the wall racing. And yet, they come across the finish line looking as if they had just had facials and massages at the spa. They were glowing. In fact, watching one of my team mates come across some time after the professionals (and just viewing her pre-race pictures), she had the same look about her. Now I know that Hawaii is a pretty spectacular place. And I know that these women did not stop off at the nearest spa to get quick facials before finishing. And I know that finishing an Ironman is as close to Labor as anything I have found. I have done both several times over. So there must be something else going on here. Could it be the willingness to take on something greater than themselves or at least that greatness that has something to do with beauty? Could it be that moving at the very best of ones ability just for the fun of it has something to do with beauty? Could it be that looking at food as fuel and eating what one needs to do something great has something to do with beauty. Not one of the women had the “Hollywood” standard of beauty. Certainly, most were thin, but few had the overly enlarged lips and breast that we see on television, movies and magazines. Not all of them had incredibly long legs (except Michelle Jones who won). To be sure, all of them were incredibly beautiful and worthy of any catwalk and camera. Having crossed a few finish lines and walked a few catwalks; no catwalk compares to an Ironman Finish line!

So while I recover from back surgery, I have lots of time to remember how important it is to do things bigger than myself. How moving for the fun of it makes me more beautiful than any needle, scapula or diet. That when I get my hair done, look at the next fashion trend and get my nails done, it is not to make me more beautiful, it is to do one more thing for myself that I enjoy. It is to celebrate the beauty that exists because on the road and in the water, I have met that beautiful person. I have experienced my beauty, my strength and my hope.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Cop out

dawn's journey
I am so sick of people using the "don't you want to be around for your kids" theory when I am thinking of continuing to compete in Ironman. Like that is going to take me away from my kids some how. What if it did? Then wouldn't I be teaching them to live full out? Wouldn't it be better to show them that living life to the fullest is the best way to live. Do I want to show them that I lived life "safely"? Hmmm I can hear it now..."She lived life safely - unfulfilled, but safe and then she was with us for a long time while she wondered "what if" she had done it her way." I think that when people tell me to think about being around for my kids they are using that as a cop-out to do big things. I think it is then about fear. I would much rather demonstrate to them the value of living life to the fullest. To leave it all out "there and give it your all - all the time"! Anything less than that is a cop-out!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006



I was thinking about risk. The risk of losing, the risk of surgery, the risk of racing, the risk of winning, the risk of resting and just risk in general. I am convinced that most people don’t like the thought of risk. For most and for me sometimes risk really means something bad and scary. I am looking at a bit of risk at the moment. It is such a different type of risk that that I have faced in the past. For some reason, it is so easy to forget the rewards of facing risk and only remember the fear. In all the times I have faced my fears and taken the risk, I have learned so much about myself. When I faced the entry form of Ironman, there was tremendous risk involved. When I first put on my sparring gear, there was tremendous risk involved. When I decided to have children, there was tremendous risk involved. When I entered into each relationship there is tremendous risk involved.

I remember the risk; the fear of loss, the fear of failure. I remember the fear of not being able to finish. I remember the fear that I would be hurt. I remember the fear that I would be a horrible mother. I remember the fear of giving my heart and soul and losing them.

Yet, each time I have looked risk square in the face, shaking in my shoes; I have experienced great rewards. I have faced fear of loss and found love, I faced fear of failure and realized some success. I faced fear of motherhood and found a hug from little arms, I faced the fear of commitment and found strength. I faced the fear of the starting gun and found the finish line.

The interesting thing about the relationship of risk and reward is it pays interest. Each time I stood up to risk, the rewards allow me to face more risk, to dream bigger and expect more. Each time the dream is bigger, more is realized of who I am and who I will become. The more I become the more risk I am able to face. And the cycle goes on.

There will always be risks in life. There will always be the question of “what if”? There will always be the chance to play it safe and be conservative. There will always be the opportunity to miss out on meeting myself at the core and realizing that there is an amazing woman there. So for today, I chose risk. I chose to see beyond the speed bumps and dream big. I see that there is more to me than meets the eye. I see that I can step out there, lead with the chin, stand on the edge of reason and take all that comes at me and succeed. In that, I will be prepared for the next chance to stand in the spot and see more of me. Bring it on!

Friday, September 29, 2006

dawn's journey

So today I was wondering about the reason to do Ironman. I have a core belielf about doing things that lead others. I think about all the greats in history that have lead others to be great and the "ww_d". All have done amazing things that lead others to see and do more that what they believed in themselves. That is why I started Ironman. It was the biggest thing I could think of doing. I hope that I can be an example to others of what is possible. I fear; however that all people see is that woman is crazy. I guess when I think of the greats they were thought of as crazy as well.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ironman means even more - IM CDa

. Ok so here is the race report…it is going to be long.

We arrived in Spokane last Wednesday to cool temps and just the perfect training weather. Coming from Texas, there wasn’t anything better than cool temps and I was certain that my high heart rates would go away for the race. We had 8 members of our team here including the “coach”. Wednesday afternoon three of us put our bikes together and rode about 40 miles of the course. That is where I got a taste of one of the “hills”. Seemed like several before it, but this one is 2 miles long! Somehow we didn’t see the next one. Rode back to the house and did a quick run. Next morning, some of us ran on some trails that were just beautiful. Then we all met at the lake for a swim. By that time the wind had picked up and that was the hardest swim I have ever done. I just kept telling myself that was as bad as it could get and that the race would be different. After that my full on Ironman junkie and groupie personality came out and I pretty much camped out at the Ironman village. The energy is just amazing and I just sit there in awe of all the athletes. The panic had happened the week before so while everyone looked fitter and faster than me, I was able to still have a good time. Friday was a rest day and Saturday was all about bike check in and getting that last little brick to test out the race wheels and open up the systems.

Race morning was calm. Up early, made my sandwiches, got my team mate/ room mate up and we are off at 4:30 to get to check in by 5am. I really had wanted a good parking space and when I got it I knew it was going to be a good day. Body marking and then to transition to fill up my bags when I realize that I have left ALL my water bottles at the house 40 minutes away! I panic, run to my teammate at the same time she realizes she forgot her’s too! We call her husband and he is on it. We finish airing up tires and then start getting wetsuits on. Her husband gets there, all is better and now down to the swim. I find our other teammate that is an Ironman virgin and she tells me that she has been puking all night long. Seems the stomach bug that has had her family found her Saturday night. I am devastated for her. She is going to try so I go line up next to my coach, in the front (now I know I am losing it or at least going for it). I take a deep breath cannon goes off and now I am in the chaos. I only got kicked once and had to swim with my head up for what seemed like forever. I finish the first lap (everything is 2 loops) in 33 min. Now back in the water. I am wondering where the “fast feet” are but I am doing the best I can. Out of the water in 1:09 (swim pr by one min). off to the bike through transition. I didn’t go in the tent this time and that seemed to shave off some time. I could sit in the grass and pee while I am putting my shoes and helmet on… that is multi tasking.

On the bike, I get passed by one of the guys on my team (I beat him out of the water?) then another and go with them for all of about 5 min. Now I have to work it on my own. Up to the 2 miler, I can do this and I am just so happy to be in Ironman once again. I pass another teammate (he beat me out of the water?) and I am alone again. The second hill is brutal. This is where I see a rider on the side of the road with blood everywhere. They must have just gone down so I scream down the hill screaming for a medic. They know so back to the ride. Later I come to an out and back and I see the other 2 guys so I am holding my own, but getting tired. First loop done in 2:51.The second loop starts and I know that the head wants to stop. Just keep moving I tell myself.. I stop about 7 miles later, because my bladder and bike are not getting along and I straddle the bike to get things “moving” to realize that I have now peed all over one of my water bottles. EWWW gross, such is the sport of Ironman. At the next aid station I clean it off. First hill, second time, it is now hot and people are dropping like flies. I run into another teammate and we end up together for most of the second ride. Back to the 2-mile hill and it is way harder and all I know is there is another one and then the head winds, “ok Dawn, stay positive and get her done”. The second hill can’t even feel my legs. Before I know it I am done with it and now I count the miles backwards to get home. Second loop done in 3:05.

Now to run. The course is also a 2-loop course, which is cool because this is where I get to see the pros. They are starting their second loop and I am starting the first. So of course I run with each of them for like a nano second. I get to the first water station and have to walk it…hmmm not good usually don’t have to until after the half way mark. It is only a bazillion degrees now. So I thought if I go almost to Canada I would get away from the 90’s and above. Just keep running I tell myself. This was mentally very difficult because there were people puking and lying down all along the course. Coming back on the second loop I see my teammate with the stomach issues sitting with the support group (our families) and I know that she is a DNF and I start to cry. I have learned that Ironman may be an individual journey, but it is very much a team sport. It is the energy of everyone there that makes it possible and pulls individuals to see more of themselves. I don’t know of another time when I am surrounded by 2000 other people, most of whom I will never know their names, and yet we will work together to realize dreams all in one day. I only wish that would have been enough for my teammate, but Florida will be her day! So after I cry for 2 miles I decide to buck up and finish because it is not getting cooler. Second loop I have to really stay on top of my thoughts. Taking it one water station at a time I get to the finish. Finish time is 11:28 and one minute off of Florida and 10th in my AG. When I finish, I see that my sister is there and that was a tremendous surprise. She lives in Oregon and came over just to see me cross the finish line. I haven’t seen her in a year so that was incredible.

I am so thankful for my friends and family. Thank you to Alyson and all my team mates for dealing with my constant whining and always reminding me that I love this stuff when I forget. Thank you to my family for knowing how important this is to me and pushing me to see it through.

Ironman Florida

Race Report

We got to Panama City beach several days early. The Ironman Village was already set up, as were some buoys for the swim course. I was amazed at all the athletes milling around. We went to the village to register and of course do some shopping. I would not allow myself to purchase or wear anything “Ironman” until this race.

According to plan, I swam part of the course and went on a short ride and did an easy run. All systems were a go. The next day I was to take completely off. That night was the athlete meeting. I spent most of the time trying to settle myself while be amazed at all the people. They showed movies of Ironman, had incredible guest speakers and great stories. Over and over I had to choke back tears for looking like an emotional basket case. Then they talked about the logistics of the race and the rules. That is when I got nervous.

The next day I was to do another short swim, bike and run. I got up early and went down to swim. There were others there and again I realized how nervous I was. Then on to my bike. I had put on my race wheels and somehow had disrupted my computer and now it was not working. I went to one of the bike tents and had some adjustments done. All seemed to be working. We went to dinner at the condo of a friend that was also competing as well as Nemo's Dh who was volunteering for the race. That did wonders to settle my nerves, having lost them several times that day. Thanks – Allison for joining me into my oblivion!

Race morning, I woke up calm, made pancakes, got the family up, ate and headed for the start. Again, the amount of people was overwhelming and exciting. Nemo’s DH was body marking and I was thrilled to find him and have him do the honors (he even added some extra art of crossbones that now turned us all into pirates). Then a final check and make my way to the beach. I had been instructed to seed myself close to the front as my swims had gotten better and my coaches didn’t want me to get stuck if I could swim faster. The downside was if I miss judged I would be swum over. After seeing all the people, I decided it was all a gamble and I would be swam over anyway. The one-minute warning came and a calm settled over me. “ I know this stuff and I have done it before”. The cannon went off and we all waded for sometime to be able to start swimming. It was scary and crowded, I was swum over and I swam over (although I tried no to). Once I was hit in the bicep and that hurt really bad. I was kicked in the face, but because of martial arts training that was not a new experience. The swim was a 2 loop rectangular course. Rounding the second buoy, I got a nose and mouth full of water that made me really gag. We all had to swim with our heads up and I got words of encouragement from those around me that settled me a little. Then back towards the beach. I could finally shoot through holes find new groups to swim with. I felt like I had been in a washing machine so I started to tell myself to “embrace the washing machine”. Ahhh my sense of humor is back! At the beach I paused long enough to pee because I have yet to master the fine art of relieving oneself while swimming. Second loop was better but with still many people around me. Back in to the beach in 1:10!!! Way faster than expected!!! Transition was incredible with people helping everywhere! Off to the bike with a pit stop at the porta potty, thus a long transition time.

The bike was great. Computer was still acting up and I was grateful for my Garmin 301. Between the two I could still get heart rate, cadence and speed. I was having a blast and my speed, cadence and heart rate were right on. With so many people on the course, there are lots of opportunities to make friends while passing or being passed. At a feed station at mile 30 there was a bad crash right in front of me where on person ran into another – wow that was freaky. At mile 50 I was a little choked up thinking I had trained so long for this and it was going well. About this time I started to try eat my first peanut butter sandwich (my fuel choice all during training and had always worked even in my 1/2 IM’s) Houston we have a problem- I cant swallow it. I had to take a bite, put water in my mouth and try to swallow. Somehow I managed to get one sandwich down for the whole ride – way too few calories. At mile 85, we had to cross a highway and turn left. I was ready to pass the guy in front of me right after the turn. Unfortunately, we had to go very close to some road construction and he lost control and ran into a construction barrel. His front (or one of them) wheel came off his bike completely and flew up to hit my handlebars, push my brake handle sideways, flip up and hit me in the face and then drop down under my back wheel. I kept rolling and all seemed to still work. I pushed my brake handle forward and a group of us started yelling for medics to go back for him. I still feel really bad for him and hope he is ok. At that time we hit a really bad headwind. My speed dropped significantly and I started to just talk myself through the next part of the ride. By the time we got into town I realized that I was off of my goal time, but still with in my secondary goal. Into Transition 2, I felt really beat up from the wind and glad to able to run. Another potty stop and out on to the road. Note to self: pee on the course and not waste time in the john. The crowds were already big and cheering loudly.

The run is a double out and back. On the way out, I felt amazing. I was running slightly off pace, but still felt good and was determined to stay calm and in my heart rate zones. At mile 6 we ran through a state park. Being a coastal town, the roads are slanted more than normal and we had to run at an angle. While it is slight, it was just enough to irritate my ankles that had been giving my problems in training. (Ok coach- I know that I need to do more stability work I promise I wont complain about it anymore) Out of the park and on to flatter roads I felt a little better. The half turnaround is at the finish line with huge crowds. That was awesome. I got my special needs bag with a Red Bull in it – yahoo for caffeine) Ok here we go again. My speed was dropping and my heart rate was stable. I just couldn’t make the legs go any faster. I decided to walk only the last half of the aid stations. It was so cool to meet people along the way. Seeing the pros fly by was inspiring. I was really hurting by the last leg back, but I knew the pain was temporary so I just kept running even if it was slow. I knew coming off the bike that I was off of my 10:30 goal due to the headwind, but I was sure that I could meet my second goal of finishing under 12 hours. The last mile was exhilarating as the crowds were huge. I was laughing and crying and running as hard as I could. Coming around the finish line with my kids right behind me was amazing. As I crossed to hear “Dawn Elder from San Antonio, you are an Ironman”, I was amazed. There was Nemo’s DH to give me my medal and all my family. What a treat!

I am at a loss of words to describe the feeling. I worked so hard for this and it went almost exactly as planned. I have the greatest friends that supported me in ways I never imagined. I am so grateful for the experience, my wonderful husband that totally gets it, my kids that accept it, and my friends that encourage me all the way. I am so blessed and am determined to live this life to the fullest as a result. I can’t wait for the next one!!! Coeur D’Alene here I come!

My first 1/2 Ironman

Well I got to the resort where the race started at about 1 am Saturday. All day on Saturday there were Triathletes all over. I got quite intimidated. Got lots of food and rest and did a little swim and bike just to tap my heart rates.

This morning I was up and ready to go early (big surprise), I got to the transition and found I had a killer spot! We were then informed that the water was too warm, for wetsuits. Glad I had swam without it on Saturday. The swim was a giant wave with all the women starting together. It was a beach start (running into the water) - I kept asking myself why I was doing it. A minute later the gun went off and I knew. I love it. The swim was great and I felt so strong. About 400 meters into it I felt my ankle strap with my chip get lose. I grabbed it as it was coming off and held it the rest of the swim. 1.2 miles in 33 min! Oh my gosh was I excited fastest ever and I was so relaxed. Off to the bike and transition went well ( no wetsuit to worry about). Got on my bike and my computer fell off! Grabbed it and put it on and went.

The bike is always my most challenging part. I was with the girls that I went into the water with most of the way. The first part I was with them and had a good peddle stroke and felt strong. Gu every 30 min and water every 10. The pack cleared out at about 20 miles and I knew it was time to work. At about 35 miles I was by myself and felt like I was only getting passed. Keep the mind clear and do the plan... 85 cadence and 160 heart rate. The course was very hilly. I found out that rolling hills in another way of saying long hills. At about 45 miles my mind drifted as did the plan for about 5 or 6 miles. My butt and bike hurt so bad and I was ready to get off the bike. Got my mind straight and went to work as I had some time to make up. The bike course was long and we knew it 58 miles. I was happy to get to the last down hill and get the same speed I had the day before on fresh legs (31 mph)! That was motivating to get me done.

Off the bike and to the run. Good transition, but got emotional. Started to cry when I say my DH. Then decided not good to waste the energy and then started to wheeze as I stopped crying. WTF, get a hold of yourself. The legs were heavy and lots of people walking. I decided that no matter what I would not walk. I would let some people go and just stay with the plan..Hr at 160-170. The course was evil. 2 long loops of hills. I could never tell who was leading, who was on what loop, I felt as though I saw the same people coming and going 15 times. I saw one girl walking and also noticed her number was 69! I said lets get this done. Turns out she is an ultra marathoner and it was her first as well. We had a chuckle and then were on our way. Just as I was finishing my second loop and thought I was headed back I realized they had added another " dog-leg" to the course to get all 13.1. This was hard, but I would not walk. the last mile seemed to take forever. Came around the corner and saw the finish line and glanced at my watch and realized I was on goal!

Hesitant to make a prediction, I had said that I thought that 6.5 or 7 hours would be expected. I would be thrilled beyond words to do a 6. My watch time was 6:01:45 and I found out my official time was the same! My average bike was 18.8 and my swim was 33 minutes. Not sure about the run as we left before the split was added. I finished 11th in my age group and not sure of overall.


I have a martial arts instructor that believes in a specific method of teaching. This is method is useful because it enables the student to learn complicated and multiple moves very quickly. This method is called chunking. Chunking can take complicated forms or Katas and combinations and allow for rapid learning. It requires taking pieces of information and breaking them into small and manageable "chunks" to practice over and over and commit to memory then moving on to the next piece. This method has proved useful in allowing any student to accomplish true feats of memorization and mastery that make martial arts achievable to anyone - even me.

I realized as I went out on a ten mile training run that this method of learning; or if you will mastery, is relevant to every type of training. I run along and the conversation goes something like this. . . Just get to the gas station. now get to the light pole, now to the corner and so on. Soon the entire run has been "chunked". A ten mile run is a daunting task for just about everyone. Throw in some hills and that task takes on a new personality. I discovered that "chunking" can be used to "master" even that type of challenge. The brevity of tackling a hill or covering any real distance while running requires a commitment from deep within. I realized while going along that I had decided in advance which hills were involved in this run and how I was going to approach each one. An amazing discovery was made going along - each hill looked much bigger from the bottom and mastered from the top. Much like life, yes

The arm workout seemed an impossible task on the busiest of days. How could the multiple sets fit in to the limited time allowed. Perhaps cutting some short would yield the results for perceived time limitations. Perhaps doing each set a little quicker would provide an extra five minutes to run a last minute errand.
For certain, neither could give the desired strength results, or for that matter the mental and emotional results that come from a rigorous and honest effort. Once again chunking this workout seemed to be the answer. Taking each rep as it was the last and each set as though it was the beginning; the workout went as planned and enough time to ponder on what to do next session was the outcome.

As the week plays out before me, I begin to see a correlation. I realize that in any given day numerous requirements and appointments much be met. Like learning a complicated kata, if the entire day is to be handled at one time, to say that handling the day is a daunting task is an under statement. However, if the day is "chunked" and one task handled and addressed one step at a time, the day coasts through my life with little more than a wink of presence. The message is remembered, that is why we do this. Let each day in the gym be the playground for life. Let each step on the road provide the instructions as to how to do this thing called life. Let each punch or kick be the ground on which the decision to succeed be rooted. May the discovery be realized the the only limits that exist are the ones that are believed.

I run to remember that I am strong.
I strength train to demonstrate that strength
I am a martial artist to never be the victim of weakness again.

love that body

I often find myself comparing myself to the latest super model, 15 year old pre-maternal baby-sitter's body or the celebrity of the day that just got out of rehab or that the papers are commenting on "her weight". While I know the futility of this exercise, indulging in it seems sometimes beyond my control. The conversations that take place in my head are ridiculous and go something like the following. "They can't airbrush all of her she really must look like that. I am sure that my hips were never that small when I was 15 and that I would give anything for my breasts to be that perky again and my stomach that flat again. Maybe she did not really need to go to rehab and that maybe she just has great self control. Why cant I have that kind of self control."

So while working out I began to ponder this situation. I wondered why and how I have forgotten the truth. I may not have pre pubescent hips or breasts and at 36 that would be ridiculous. I do not need to have an "airbrushed body" and why do I revere that? How did I come to believe that the kind of "self control" that causes loved ones to seek medical help is attractive and a sign of beauty.

The truth is that I have an athlete's body. I have received my second degree Black Belt and have done countless martial arts classes replete with the pushups and drills required. I have finished seven marathons and run numerous other races. I have logged thousands of miles on my legs and hundreds of miles on my bike. I have discovered swimming and the many meters that were necessary to learn to love it. I have began a love affair with triathlons that will be with me for some time.

My arms show the strength in my biceps that come from the pushups in a martial arts class. My shoulders have the scars from falling off my bike. My back shows the muscles needed to move this body in all the ways I demand it to carry me. My thighs shows the muscles necessary to carry this body over the miles required for training and marital arts. They also show the scars from training. My feet have well nursed calluses that have long passed the point of looking good in a strappy pair of Jimmy Cho sandals.

The truth is my body is beautiful and strong. I have landed more punches and kicks than some and taken more than most. I have run more miles than most and much less than some. On my bike I have found wonderful country roads and chased cement trucks. I have swam with the fishes and came out strong enough to ride and then run. I have run with dogs, bunnies, butterflies, baby strollers, bikes and friends. I have seen the sun come up while running or riding and seen the sun set while doing countless martial arts combinations. What more is there that I need?

The truth is that no number on a scale will tell me the truth. No number on a pair of jeans will make me feel more of me. No compliment on my body will give me lasting love. The truth is that I do what I do to remember the truth. The truth is that every mile logged is the best of me. The truth is that every time the burning in my lungs from climbing a hill resides as I reach the crest I am more of me. The truth is every time I line up in martial arts class I am more of me. The truth is that every time I start the first and finish the last lap I am more of me.

The truth is I am strong in mind body and spirit. I am resilient. I am powerful. I am beautiful. I am determined. Every time I decide to tie my black belt, lace up my shoes, mount my bike, put on my goggles, cross a finish line, bow in and finish strong I have decided to remember the truth.

who I am

Well, I am finally on the blog world. I am a 38 year old mom, friend, triathlete, black belt, runner and so much more. I am a 2 time Ironman finisher. I am in pursuit of a Kona spot. I am crazy about the journey of life and how Ironman seems to be the very window into the soul that is clearest to me.