Monday, December 8, 2014

Race Report-Alternate Chili 10 Miler

I had been looking for a race that would be an adventure. My husband Joel treats his training as an adventure, when he heads out on his bike he goes exploring and takes neat pictures, and excitedly tells me about his adventure when he gets back home. Inspired and encouraged by him I wanted to step outside my comfort zone and go on my own adventure. I found the Alternate Chili 10 miler in Kansas City, a trail race on a hilly and technical bridal trail, was just the adventure I was looking for. 

The drive to the race site went by quick, the speed limit here in Kansas is 75 so the long rides on the highway don't seem as monotonous. Joel was accompanying me to the race. An almost two hour drive and we were there at the state park. The race didn't start until 9 a.m. so we didn't have to wake up as ridiculously early. Temperature was in the low 30, but it didn't seem too bad, I must be getting used to the cold. After running in single digit and teen temperatures, 30s is manageable. Picked up my race packet and was given a Sweatvac cold weather cap, and a coffee mug with the race production company's logo on it, great swag!

It had rained all day prior to the race, so rumor had it the course was to be very muddy. I was concerned about this only because I am a total klutz and I was worried I might seriously hurt myself falling down, or rip my clothes, this cold weather running gear isn't cheap. From doing my research I knew how challenging this course was and I knew it would most likely take me over 2 hours to finish. On the road I can run 10 miles in around 1:18, but today it wasn't about going fast or PRs, today was about going on an adventure.

Lined up for the start of the race a few minutes before 9 a.m. and had no idea what to expect. Air horn sounds and we were off.

Only part of the course not covered in mud
Time for the adventure to start
Less than a mile in and already we hit some deep mud. Everyone was sliding all over the place, this mud was slick! Not even a mile in and my shoes we already caked in mud and heavy. I can confess that at this moment I thought about turning around and taking a DNF, I was having that tough of a time in the mud and we were barely 10 minutes in to the race. I was getting frustrated already. The course approached a steep climb that was un-runable for me because of the mud so I has a moment to walk up it and collect my thoughts. I told myself to be patient and give it time, the race just started, and I wasn't the only one having a tough time in the mud, that everyone at this race had to the same course and everyone else was probably struggling in the same way I was.

Somewhere in the first mile
At the top of this climb it was flat so I was able to pick it up to a run again. Because of the mud and my short legs I was running with high knees, this allowed me to stay upright. A brief stream crossing I wasn't careful enough on completely submerged my right foot, but since I was wearing my trail shoes, my Newton BOCO ATs, my foot didn't get that wet. Around mile 2.5 we got a break, a section of the course where the mud wasn't as thick. It was still muddy, but it was packed mud and not as gunky. This section of the course was very technical, a mile of twists and turns, and lots of downed trees to jump or climb over. On this section I was having a lot of fun. Without the thick slippery mud, for the first time all day I got a chance to look around and take in the beauty of being in the woods, so far this was turning in to more of an adventure than I expected.

At the aid station at mile 3.3, I drank some full strength Gatorade for electrolytes and calories. I was wearing my 2 liter Nathan Hydration vest filled up so I was covered water wise. I stepped aside before taking back off to send Joel a text. At this point I was 45 minutes in to the race. In the text I wrote "3.3 miles in, the s**t is hard".

Heading back on to the course, I was once again in the thick slippery mud. Joel responded to my text "You got this babe, I love you". Going downhill was scary, so many times I almost fell, it was a real balancing act. Some of the downhills I didn't even run or walk, I just honed my skateboarding and surfing skills from my youth and slid down them. Going up the hills was difficult and required some problem solving skills. On some hills I would start to go up, only to slide backwards back down them. At times all I could do was laugh. I slipped and fell somewhere around mile 4.4. Not even halfway through and I knew I was going to have lots of good stories to tell later.

Made it to the mile 5 aid station, and since I wasn't concerned about my time, I took a porta potty break so I could be comfortable the second half of the race. A few more cups of Gatorade and I headed back out on the course. I was already at the over an hour mark, my body felt tired, my feet and legs were heavy from being covered in mud, but I had the motivational spark I get from being halfway done with a race. The night before, I had received my purple Swim Bike Mom shirt with the mantra "Just Keep Moving Forward" across the chest. So many times during the race I looked down and took those words to heart. Sure the conditions were miserable and I was hurting, but I wanted an adventure, I was committed, and I was already halfway through, so all I could do was just keep moving forward.

Another muddy climb
Roughly around mile 5.7 we got another break on the course, more of the mud like the mud at mile 2.5. I was picking up a good rhythm and getting some time back on the course. I was mostly alone at this point, I saw an occasional fellow competitor, but for the most part I was alone and had time to think. I did the race music free, so it was just my breathing and the sounds of nature. The climbs in this section were un-runable for me so I hikes up those. Walking in the mud, I got flashbacks of being in Iraq in 2003-2004, walking around during the rainy season, deep sticky mud wearing an armored vest and carrying a machine gun, my boots and uniform pants getting covered in mud. This was much needed alone time in the woods to think, to think of my time in the Army, think about my family, my friends, the challenges that await me in the next year.

At this point, as rough of a time as I was having on this course, I was grateful I signed up for this race, not only did it give me alone time in a beautiful place to think, I was also having fun going up and down the hills. Two of the hills were so steep there were rope assists to help us get up them. This was like nothing I have ever ran on before. Around mile 7.2 I heard a loud, proud squawk and realized it was coming from an American Bald Eagle. The state of Kansas is full of Bald Eagles, especially around the lakes (for obvious reasons) and this was a one loop course around a lake. I slowed my paced so I could look up and see if I could spot the magnificent bird. I couldn't see it, but it was squawking continuously. I made a mental note to tell Joel about it.

Joel had asked me to text him once I reached mile 8 so he could be ready. I made it to mile 8 feeling great since I just went through 2 miles in manageable mud, but shortly after that, we were back to the thick, deep, slippery mud. I waited until I got to another hill and texted Joel to let him know where I was on the course. Another long, winding muddy climb and I got the excitement that the end was in sight. Mile 9, almost there. I had been at a 13-14 minute pace thus far the entire race, so where I typically tell myself in the last mile of say, a half marathon, that I just have to hang on for 8 more minutes, I had to tell myself to just keep moving forward instead of putting a time stamp on it.

The last difficult climb
Just keep moving forward
Around mile 9.3 there was one last climb, at the top of the climb I could hear the music coming from the finish line. That was the last hill and my Garmin read 1739 feet of climbing for the whole 10 miles. Down the hill I emerged from the woods and crossed the finish line.

The finish arch right out of the woods was neat
Finishing time was 2:15:20

Got my finisher's medal and oval sticker, I have to say, this is now one of my favorite finisher's medals

Sweet bling
What an adventure!
Joel was right there and I got my congratulations hug and kiss. Then we looked down at my legs and feet, it was quite a sight.

Took a lot of scrubbing to get these clean again

I am writing this 2 days later. My shoes came clean and none of my winter running clothes were ripped. I smiled several times typing this because the memories I have from this race are great. Joel and I have been together almost 10 years, and have been in this lifestyle together the past 4 years. Listening to his perspectives of training and how he picks races he wants to do inspired me to try something new. My heart is still in triathlon and I will continue working hard to meet my goals of getting faster, but it was fun to step outside my comfort zone and do a race "Joel style". I have an even greater understanding and appreciation of what he gets out of this lifestyle.

Official Stats:
Finishing time: 2:15:20
Overall place 98/165
Gender place 13/46
Age Group 3/15

Garmin file

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Race Report- Longview Half Marathon Kansas City

Saturday I ran my first half marathon in over a year. Literally, my last half marathon was the Savannah Rock 'n' Roll in November 2013. September I did the Konquer the Konza 25k, but I definatly don't count that as one in the same as a road half marathon, KtK25 was all trail with nearly 1200 feet of elevation gain, I mostly did it as a fun challenge and to see what running on the Konza prairie would be like. This was my 12th half marathon, first one since moving to Kansas.

The Longview half was advertised as hilly, but not ridiculously hilly, so roughly a little over 500 feet of elevation gain. Since we move to Northeast Kansas at the beginning of September, I had a solid two months of training on the hills to prepare for this race. All my 10 mile runs in training had roughly 500 feet of elevation gain so I felt confident going in to the race. I knew it would hurt, but I knew I could do it. Most notably was at mile 2 of the race there was to be a 1 mile climb. On all my 10 milers, I started them with a 2 mile climb so once again, nothing I couldn't handle, but I knew it would hurt.

Joel came with me for support, since the race didn't start until 8 we drove in on race morning, a nice 2.5 hour drive alone just the two of us.

Winter started early here in Northeast Kansas, and on race day the air temperature was 25 with a windchill of 18. Fortunately a few days prior all the remaining cold weather gear I ordered came and I would be all set for the freezing temperatures. I nailed it, I dressed perfectly and was comfortable the whole race. Even though it was cloudy, I wore my glasses. I switched out the smoky lenses for the amber ones so I could see. I learned from my training runs in the cold, you eyes will water nonstop if their not covered.

Ninja style

Cuddling for warmth before the race
My goal for the race was sub 2 hours, maybe sub 1:55 if I was having a good day. I felt I didn't have the fitness for a sub 1:50, and I knew I didn't have the fitness for a new PR (current PR 1:44). My emergency surgery in January really set me back endurance wise so on this day all I could do was run my race and see how I felt along the way.

Among good company, despite the cold everyone was happy to be there
About 1500 people were running the race so when the gun went of it was fairly easy to find some space. My first mile ended up being my slowest at 8:40. I wanted to start slow because I couldn't feel my feet, and I knew that monster hill was at the start of mile 2.

At the mile 2 hill, there was a timing mat at the bottom and the top of the hill. The were doing a race within the race for King/Queen of the mountain for this hill. Top 15 times on this hill for males and females got a special award. Tempting, but I decided to run my race pace normal for the hill so I wouldn't risk burning all my matches. This hill was an out and back and then the race continued on the main road. The mile up the hill I ran an 8:23. There was a U-turn at the top of the hill where we headed back down the same hill. The only advantage I have ever found in running with having short legs is downhill running. I was holding back a lot on the downhill trying not to trip and I still made it the mile down in 7:57

Mile 5 I took my gloves off and stuck them in my tights. Then I noticed it, having my gloves in there, it looked like I had a bulge. Not wanting any race pictures I might regret later, I took them out of my tights and held on to them. I knew Joel was going to be at mile 7 so I would just carry them until I could hand them off to him. A small gradual climb to mile 7 and there he was, literally, standing next to the mile 7 marker. Cheering and shouting, I knew he had to be freezing, I was so happy he was out here. I handed him my gloves. He told me I looked great, I wondered if he noticed all the snot dripping down my face.

Love you, can you take my gloves?
A quick glace to my Garmin and I noticed I was a few minutes under a hour at the 7 mile mark. The was the first moment in the race I felt I had a realistic shot at sub 1:50. The worst climb was over and done with. I knew there was one more steeper climb at mile 11, but it was only about 50 feet or so. The next 3 miles I stayed at an 8:17 pace, steady enough for me that I knew I would have something left for the hill at mile 11. 

Professional photographer at mile 11
Mile 11 came and I knew the hill was coming. I leaned forward, looked at the ground, and got it done. I made a point not to look at my watch going up the hill, I didn't want it to mentally mess me up. At this point I was determined to get my sub 1:50. Everything that has happened since my last half marathon, getting a sub 1:50 would prove to myself that I have made a full recovery from my ordeal in January, as 1:47-1:51 was my average half marathon finishing time before that. Mile 12 my Garmin read 1:40, I had 9 minutes to run 1.1 miles to reach my new goal that seemed so far fetched on this day I had shoved the thought out of my mind originally. I turned the last corner to head to the finish line, I was going to make it. It hurt, I ran the last mile with my heart. I crossed the finish line and heard the MC announce my name. Official finishing time was 1:48:30

Even after all that running, the cold air still hurts
In the finishing chute I received the nicest (and heaviest) finisher's medal I have ever been given.

Awesome medal
Joel was right there at the finish line, I actually went to him first and got a hug and kiss before getting my medal. I was on the verge of tears. I have never had such an overwhelming emotional feeling after a half marathon, not even after my first half marathon. 

So trilled over what just happened
About 15 minutes after I finished it started snowing, my first time seeing snow in years. Joel and I stopped in town and had lunch at Jack in the Box, we had been planning that for weeks, us both being kids from California. We hadn't been to Jack in the Box since 2007.

It was a great race, and a great reminded of why the half marathon has always been my favorite running race distance.

Thanks for reading!

I gave it everything I had to give that day

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Third Time's a Charm?

Last week I registered for Ironman Louisville. My third Ironman, third time at Louisville.

The chance came up to do this race a third time, and I took it. I vowed after the second time I finished this race that I would do another Ironman before coming back to this one. My second Ironman Louisville left me a broken woman weeping in the shoulder of my best friend. 

After finishing in 2013, in so much pain
The first time I did Ironman Louisville in 2011, I had that beginner's naivety. I had finished my first sprint triathlon only 11 months prior, and Ironman Louisville was my 8th triathlon ever. No tears at that first Ironman, I was in complete shock I finished, I crossed the finish line in 14:17.

On the bike in 2011

On the run in 2011
crossing the finish line in 2011, in total shock
2011, wondering if this really just happened
When I returned for a second time in 2013, I had a different kind of naivety. I thought my fitness I had built up since my first Ironman would bring me to the 13 hour mark I was aiming for. Still living in the vast flat-ness of Coastal Georgia as my training ground, I trained hard but was still missing a vital part of what is necessary for a good training cycle for Ironman Louisville, hills.

At 2013's Ironman Louisville, I burnt all my matches on the bike. I still didn't know gearing for hills and I did too many tough climbs in the big ring. I wasn't patient and I took too many risks. I did the bike portion 30 minutes faster than in 2011, but I payed for it on the run, oh, did I ever pay for it on the run. My legs were done, toasted. The run was a complete suffer fest. Indescribable pain. My heart and will to finish go me through it. I crossed the finish line in 14:16, feeling completely broken, I couldn't even crack a smile for the finish line camera, I tried but it looked more like a grimace.

on the bike in 2013
On the run in 2013, feeling like death
Finish line in 2013, I really did attempt to smile, but the pain.......

2013, happy it was over
After that race I told Joel and Loraine (my best friend) that I would not do that race again until I lived somewhere where I could realistically train on hills. Well out of the blue in June, we found out we would be moving back to Northeast Kansas ,which is the hilly part of Kansas. Shortly after that Ironman made the announcement that Ironman Louisville would take place in October instead of August. I was really starting to consider the race.

We arrived to Kansas in early September. After realizing that a 25 mile bike ride gives me about 1400 feet of elevation gain, I realized that training for Ironman Louisville here would be very realistic. The 50 meter pool at the natatorium on post just adds to that.

I feel like I have everything I need to achieve my goal for this race. Everything fell in to place. Mentally I feel like I need to conquer Ironman Louisville before I can move on to another Ironman. Joel is behind me, he wanted me to go for Ironman #3 next year. My new doctor here gave me her blessing, and all my lab work I had to do for being five years post op gastirc bypass came back normal with no deficiencies. Several of my teammates from the Swim Bike Mom 2015 Ambassador Team are doing the race as well. Its going to be epic.

Sub 14 is the goal

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Changing Winter Focus

Bike lean at our new home
We have been in Kansas a little over a month now. I recovered from Konquer the Konza 25k fairly quickly. Which was a surprise to me since it was unlike anything I have ever done. Since I felt so good after the race I briefly considered signing up for a marathon. I have not done a marathon since December 2011, aside from Ironman, which I don't really count since you run a stand-alone marathon completely different from the way you do the run in an Ironman. The only thing I have done close to a marathon since then was the 50k I did in January. 

I really did want a big exciting winter race. The 50k was that race for me last winter, and it got me out the door every day for four months in preparation for it.

The month I have been riding my bike here has been a reality check. I'm not as good of a cyclist as I thought I was. This is not in a negative way whatsoever, I am just getting real and admitting to myself I have a lot of work to do. For four years I rode on flat roads and learned how to ride on such terrain, in the aero hammering away. I learned on my first ride here I can't ride like that on hills. It feels like I am starting over, but I am up to the challenge.

This climb was never ending
I was thinking things over and going over my goals for the winter. I decided that, with living in a new area of the country, as well as being selected for a triathlon team for 2015's triathlon season and wanting to be the best athlete I can be for my team, that I will focus on cycling this winter. No running races longer than a half marathon all winter, since the half marathon is a very manageable distance and the training will keep me from getting completely burned out on cycling.

I have all the gear, so the only time I will be on the fluid trainer is when there is snow on the ground. If there is no snow on the ground, I'll be on the road, going up and down the hills. My climbing and descending (going down steep downhills still scares me) needs work, and there is no shortage of hills here. My last ride with Joel, we rode 26 miles and got 1200 feet of elevation gain on our Garmin 910xts.

I do realize I need to swim too, I have access to a 50 meter pool at the aquatic center.

The off season is long here. The last races of the season are mid September, and it starts up again early May, so I have enough time to become a decent cyclist on this terrain. I am doing a road half marathon on November 15, described as a challenging, hilly course. Looking forward to it so I can see how my time compares to my flat course half marathon time.

Already looking forward to seeing what next year's triathlon season has in store!

Thanks for reading!

Been riding with hubby a lot, feels like a date!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Race Report- Konquer the Konza 25k

Back in June when we found out we were moving to Kansas in early September, I was still registered for Augusta 70.3. I tried to make it work, and went through several scenarios in my head on how to make it work. In the end I came to the conclusion that moving halfway across the country three weeks before race day was just too big of an obstacle to overcome. After I gave myself some time to be bummed out about it, I began looking for another race around the same time frame in my new home. At first I decided on the Kansas City Marathon in mid October, but four weeks into marathon training, I knew my heart just wasn't in it. The search continued. I wanted to do something big, epic, something that symbolized living in my new home. Browsing the races on the local running store's website, I found the prefect race, Konquer the Konza 25k. A trail 25k taking runners up and down the tallgrass prairie across part of the Flint Hills. The description was a challenging course u and down hills with beer and pizza at the finish line, I found my race. Race day was exactly two weeks after our arrival to Kansas.

Fast forward to race day, which was yesterday. My training had been lackluster leading up the this race. I did what I could while we still lived in Southeast Georgia, even though it is completely flat. My longest run was a 10 miler. The two weeks leading up to the race I had been running hills in Kansas, but I really had no choice. There are hills everywhere here, there is no way to avoid them. Even when I do a "less hilly" running route, it is still hilly compared to what I had been accustomed to the past four years. This wasn't the first time I had gone into a race completely undertrained, so I knew it would hurt, but that I'd be ok. This was, however, my first long running race since my emergency gastrointestinal surgery back in January, when I perforated an ulcer after my 50k.

Race morning Joel and I didn't have to wake up ridiculously early since the race site was only 25 minutes away from our house. I had my usual pre race fuel: a Monster Java Light, a Honey Stinger Waffle, and half a sleeve of Cliff Shot Bloks. My friend Mary was also doing the race. Mary has been one of my virtual running buddies for three years now, she lives in the next town over from me. So surreal to be in the presence of people you have only known through a computer, and then to be standing with them and talking and exchanging hugs in person. Met up with Mary before the race and chatted with her and Joel before the start of the race.

My biggest fan, love him so much

Start of the race
The weather was cool, in the mid 50s, when the starting gun went off. The first mile was a long, flattish, crushed limestone path. About 200 people started the race, most of us being in a large herd for that first mile on the narrow path. After that first mile, when the hills started, the crowd broke up. The hills came one after another, they were tough but I was happy to be out there, with the ability to even attempt this race. At the 3.5 mile mark I saw Joel at the top of a hill, I gave him a smile to let him know I was feeling good.

Top of a smaller climb

Happy to be back
I was really settling into a rhythm on the trail, my pace was good. I wasn't exerting too much energy on the hills, but 5.5 miles in, when I saw this, my jaw dropped.

Up and up
I climbed this like stairs, knowing that since this was a two loop course, I would have to climb it again, and I didn't want to burn all my matches when I still had 10 miles to go. Made it to the top and suddenly I was rewarded with the most beautiful, spectacular view of the Flint Hills. It was truly breathtaking. A few more small climbs and I realized we were running across the highest hilltop. As much as my legs were aching from going up the hills I was happy for the privilege to be running in such a beautiful place. Stopped at the aid station at mile 6.7 and filled up my handheld with water and ate a half sleeve of Shot Bloks. I had been running at a little over a 9 minute pace so I was on target for my sub 2:30 goal. Left the aid station, a few more small climbed and suddenly and almost mile-long downhill, it was a nice break.

Started the second lap still feeling good. Saw Joel again around mile 9

Woohoo, downhill!
Right before mile 11, I climbed the stairs up the hill again, happy that it was the last time I would have to climb it today, after that I knew the rest of the hills were manageable. Got to see the spectacular view again, in my mind trying to think of how I would describe all this to Joel, thinking how much he would love to see this. I stopped at the aid station at mile 12, filled up my handheld and ate another half sleeve of Shot Bloks, and before I left I thanked the volunteers for taking the time out of their weekend to be here for us. Up the few short climbs before the nice long downhill. Made the turn to the finish, a little over a mile to go on that same flattish, crushed limestone path. The path was empty now, me and a few onsies and twosies pushing our tired bodies to the finish line. As always, this last mile felt like the longest. Finally saw the orange finishing arch and crossed the finish line in 2:23:11.

Trilled to be finish
Was given this awesome looking finisher's medal, with a bison on it since the Konza Prairie is full of them

By far one of my coolest running race medals
Got my post race hug and kiss from Joel, then my legs got a little shaky. Sat down with my beer and pizza and told him about the race: the hills, the stairs, the spectacular views, everything. My Garmin 910xt read an elevation gain of 1155 feet for the 15.59 mile course.

Free beer!
About an hour later I walked half a mile down the course so I'd be able to run Mary in. This was a tough course, I was so happy to see her come into view knowing she would finish this race. I ran alongside her until right before the finish line arch.

This was the toughest, most challenging, most epic, and the most beautiful running race I have ever done. This race makes up for not being able to do Augusta 70.3. It was exactly the race I was looking for when I began searching back in June. It was Kansas's way of welcoming me to my new home.

StatsFinish time 2:23:11
Overall 53 out of 186
Female 16 out of 98
Age Group (F30-34) 4 out of 25

Thanks for reading!

The beautiful Konza Prairie 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Made it to Kansas, and Some Big News

Its been a month since my last blog post, and lots has happened since then. On September 6th we locked the front door of our house in Georgia for the last time and headed for the Midwest. We made it to Kansas on the evening of September 7th, and moved into our new home the next day. We have been here roughly two weeks, and everyone is settling in nicely. I did a race last Saturday, was supposed to be a triathlon, but since it was in the 30s, the swim was cancelled. For once I didn't mind that the swim was cancelled, all my winter gear was packed up in boxes that hadn't arrived yet.

I had a good time at the race and place 5th in my age group

On the run at the Olathe Women's Triathlon

Finisher's medal and age group award
The girls already started school, their new school is literally right across the street from our house, and they are enjoying the new routine of walking to and from school everyday. They have already starting making new friends as well. Their resiliency throughout this has amazed me. Our stuff got here on Wednesday, so we are in the process of unpacking everything and setting it up in the new house. This could take awhile.......

Here's my big new. I was selected to be on the 2015 Swim Bike Mom Ambassador Team! This is a huge honor. I am flattered and humbled I made the team. The team is an awesome group of women and we are all dedicated to being ambassadors for the sport we love so much. Next year's tri season is going to be fantastic, I just know it. Looking forward to representing Swim Bike Mom next year on the Ambassador Team and getting more people involved in the sport of triathlon.

Sunday I am doing a trail 25k in the Flint Hills, my first long running race since the 50k in January (that almost killed me). I have learned so much since that race and am

 anxious to do a long running race again. Will have a race report up sometime next week.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Almost Midwest Bound

As I mentioned in my previous post, we are moving from Coastal Georgia to Northeast Kansas in roughly two weeks. When we found out in June I immediately panicked and probably overreacted a bit, but twelve weeks was pretty short notice. I needed some time to "be mad" about having to withdraw from this year's Augusta 70.3, but after that I was able to see all the positives of this sudden move.

Joel is active duty Army. Six years ago we moved from Northeast Kansas to here in Coastal Georgia. Yes, we are going back to exactly where we came from. We already know our way around and where everything is. We were married there and had our oldest daughter there. I met my best friend Loraine there. "I" was there before we were "we". I joined the Army about two years before Joel did, and was stationed in Kansas in early 2002, he got his assignment to Kansas in late 2004 and we met in early 2005. So, we have quite a history with the wheat state.

Ever since 2010 and 2011, when Joel and I started our active lifestyle, we have often talked about all the great activities we could have done in Kansas had we had an active lifestyle when we lived there, and how we wished we did. Now we get that second chance. Northeast Kansas houses one of the last natural tall grass prairies in the country. Its endless and stretches for miles and miles. In our research we have found countless running races and cycling events on the prairie. I even went ahead and registered for a trail 25k running race on the prairie on September 21st, plus, its my first 25k.

Moving there also opens a brand new world for Joel, gravel rides and races. These gravel rides are anywhere from 20 miles to 200 miles, done on a cyclocross bike on bone jarring gravel roads out in the middle of nowhere. Well, only one is 200 miles, the Dirty Kanza 200, which is pretty much the Ironman of gravel racing. Its tough, soul-stealing, breaks off its competitors with no remorse, and Joel is doing it next year. The interesting thing is, he was going to do it next year regardless of where we lived. We were planning to make the trip from Coastal Georgia for him to do it, but now, coincidentally, it will be in our backyard.

Triathlon season in the Midwest is not nearly as long as it is here in the South. Here in the South we enjoy a nice long triathlon season, starting in March and ending in November. In the Midwest it only lasts from roughly May to September. To give myself variety and to stay motivated, I'm taking up trail running and Cyclocross. Kansas, especially where we are moving to with the tall grass prairies and the Flint Hills, is full of trails. Joel bought me some Newton BOCO ATs for the trails. I have ran on the dirt oval in them and they are great, I can't wait to hit the Kansas trails with them.

Our girls have been great throughout this. They are excited about moving. They are excited about seeing snow in the winter and not having to wear uniforms to school. Their resiliency is truly wonderful. Through their eyes this is a fun adventure. We aren't being naive about this though, we know there will be a few adjustments once we get there, and we may be drying a few tears.

When we are going, Fort Riley, is located right next to Manhattan, KS, home of Kansas State University. Ever since I was a soldier stationed at Fort Riley, I wanted to go to K State. Between two deployments to Iraq, as well as not being able to use active duty tuition assistance because of my weight, it never happened for me. The day we were married, Joel had bought a K State pint glass and put it in our hotel room we would be returning to later that day, as a promise I would one day get to attend my dream school. Life, and kids got in the way of that dream, plus the fact that we had to eventually move to Coastal Georgia. Now I get a second chance. The school I earned my Associates from accepts transfers to K State. Just the thought of this makes me teary eyed as I type this, gives my butterflies and makes me shake a bit. A degree from K State, one of my life's goals and dreams.

I'm going to miss the wonderful friends I have made in the South, and going to miss the nice long triathlon season, but looking forward to this new chapter and writing about my Midwest adventures.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Back in Blog World

So, I'm back.

I deleted my previous blog "Fatty to Ironmom" and took a hiatus from social networking. I kept my Facebook page as I know almost every one of my Facebook friends in person. It may have seemed as if I disappeared off the face of the planet, but I was still around, on the road and in the pool training. Racing often as I love racing.

In January I had a health setback, while running a 50k an ulcer I had perforated, but my body didn't let me know until five days later. For five days all sorts of junk was spewing into my body from the hole in my intestines. The resulting sepsis almost killed me. I had emergency surgery to repair the hole and started the road to recovery. In my recovery process I realized there has been so much more to my journey than being a former morbidly obese woman, which was the premise of "Fatty to Ironmom" and at the time of my emergency surgery, I had finished two Ironmans.

I decided to start blogging again because I truly enjoy writing about my races and race experiences. Now, I am writing under the premise of just being Jillian. The weird, nerdy, eccentric person I am, the person I am because of all my life experiences thus far.

Let my give a brief recap of my race year so far:

In March, 10 weeks after my emergency gastro-intestinal surgery, I did the first triathlon of the year at Fort Gordon, GA. I ended up placing 3rd female overall

In April, we took a trip to the historic and famed University of Georgia for the Early Bird Sprint Triathlon in Athens, GA. I ended up placing 1st in age group

In May I raced every weekend. The first weekend I did a 10k and got my PR (47:52). The second weekend I did the Ride on Ryan Sprint Triathlon in Savannah,GA with my hubby, and I ended up placing 1st in age group.

The third weekend we took the trip to beautiful Jekyll Island, GA for the Turtle Crawl Sprint Triathlon. The rough seas made for a rough swim for all participants. I ended placing 1st in age group.

The fourth weekend Joel and I ran the Savannah all-out mile. It was fun to see how fast we could run a mile. This is the only race Joel has ever beat me at. I ran a 6:35, Joel ran a 6:22.

June brought the annual Trybee Island Sprint Triathlon on Tybee Island, GA. Mentally the race was tough for me. Joel was away at a service school and had told me two days before the race that we were moving to Kansas in early September. I was already registered for this year's Augusta 70.3 so I immediately panicked. Having to race with moving on my mind was tough. I ended up placing 1st in age group. Shortly after that, I decided to withdraw from Augusta 70.3, as having to move halfway across the country three weeks before race day is too big of an obstacle to overcome.

July I made the trip to Columbus, GA for the Chattahoochee Challenge Sprint Triathlon. Bad weather made for an interesting race. I ended up placing 2nd in age group.

This month started off with Joel and I racing the Skidaway Island Sprint Triathlon in Savannah, GA. Was a fun day racing with my hubby. I ended up placing 1st in age group.

Last weekend I race the Jacksonville Triathlon Series Race #3 at Fernandina Beach, FL. I did the olympic this time, I had raced the sprint four times previously. Olympic is my least favorite distance, but I raced hard and placed 4th in my age. PR for me (2:41). The podium was 5 deep so I got to take home a sweet medal.

Now that we are all caught up. Yes, I'm moving from Coastal Georgia to Northeast Kansas within the next few weeks. We came here from Kansas, so in a way it feels like we are going back home. I'm already registered for races up there and looking forward to new Midwest adventures.

Looking forward to once again sharing my racing and training adventures, thanks for reading!