I am an adventure seeking wife and mother first! Travel, and endorphins are my best friends. I will try anything once, unless I know
I would be in danger. I have a crazy love of God, running, triathlon, the outdoors, dirt, wine, friends, good Vegan food, Yoga,
animals, happiness, and life! I truly believe the only limits in life are the ones set by ourselves. So get out there and expand the limits!!
~~Only she who attempts the absurd can achieve the impossible.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Remember your first time???

There truly is nothing like the first time you do something.  No matter what that something is.  The first time of anything is amazing, and monumental, and there is nothing like that feeling.
  The first time you walk (ok most of us don’t remember that) the first time you rode a bike without training wheels.  The first time you held hands with a boy, or girl.  Your first love. Your first kiss.  Wow, that was something to remember, right?  How about the first time behind the wheel of a car?
I have had so many firsts in my life it is crazy.  First broken heart.  First time to move away from home, and then REALLY leave home, as in leaving the state.  My first child to be born.  First time to have stitches. The first time I leapt out of an airplane, hoping to make it safely to the ground.  My first car, my first home to own. My first 5K, to my first marathon, my first Sprint Triathlon all the way to my first Ironman.

I am still coming off a great week, after placing 3rd  ag, in the Race the River Tri last weekend, and have been enjoying more of my summer.  Working on relaxing, but just really trying to find a sense of balance still.  Maybe it was doing another Tri that helped out.  Even though 2 weeks after Ironman, I had done a ½ marathon.  I went into Race the River thinking it would be a fun day with my girlfriends, to really racing it, and feeling good, even after being out WAY to late the night before. (Thank you friends, and Big Head Todd)
I think my summer training and summer fun is coming into focus now.  I have my training that I am still doing.  Running, biking and swimming with “the crew” and having some great beach days, some paddle boarding, some wine and boat days.

I had another tri this weekend that I decided to back out of.  The Hayden View Tri, put on by a wonderful friend of mine. I was excited to race this race for the first time……BUT, what made me decide to not race was the fact that this tri, is my husband’s first triathlon.  The more I thought about racing, the more I thought about him, and all the years he has invested in me.  Going to races, loading my bike, airing my tires, packing my crap up, mixing my bottles.  He has gotten up so early, to go and support me.  This past year was no different, but way more intense, and there was a lot more for him to deal with.  The very LEAST I could do, would be to go to this race on Saturday, supporting him, and being his Sherpa.  It is HIS first.  His first time to put a swim, bike and run together in a race. The first time for him to run through transition, pulling on socks, shoes, helmet, sunglasses all crazed and expeditious.  His first time to cross the finish line as a triathlete!  How could I not give that to him? 

I am so excited for him.  And nervous for him.  And nervous for his nervousness!  I cannot wait to be the one to talk to him Friday night when he is getting all anxious about his race in the morning.  Get up with him early Saturday to make sure he can get some food in his belly, go through the “nervous stomach” routine, walk with him and wait at transition while he sets up, racks his bike, warms up, and dives, for the first time, into the water for a ½ mile swim, then a bike and run.  I get giddy just thinking about it.
I am proud of him for making it this far. 
I am excited for him to drink the Kool-Aide that all of our friends have been drinking and dive into multi-sport.
I am excited for his first time.
I know the day before Ironman.  Pro athlete, and just all around sweetie, Michael Lovato told me when I asked him for a piece of advice before the race, said, “Enjoy every second of the day.  Because it will go by faster that you think…and then you will finish, and there is NOTHING like the feeling of the first time.”  You can never get that feeling back.  And right he is. 
But there is also something to be said for watching and being present at someone’s first race.  I cannot wait for that first!!!

~Greg, you are going to do an amazing job Saturday.  Most of all, love the moment, and have fun…you have this…and there is going to be nothing like it…. ALL of us cannot wait to see you cross that finish-line!

~And to another friend of ours, out of state racing her first tri on Sunday.  Go out there with your girls and kick some a$$. You are going to ROCK,  JH!!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Just Breathe

Summer is my favorite season of the year.  I am a four-season kind of girl.  Love living in Coeur d’Alene where we have a full four seasons, and adore each one for it’s own beauty.  Winter for its wonderful powder ski days, the lofty snow that we snow-shoe through, seeing the snow-capped mountains that surround us, wearing mittens and fun hats.  Fall for its sunny, crisp days, the gorgeous color of the leaves, and seeing my breath on early morning runs.  The Spring, when we start waking up from a long winter, baby wildlife out in our yard, flowers are poking though the ground, and everything is new again.  But summer is my favorite.  I love the heat, the smell of the lake, feeling sand in my feet, and the good sweat I work up out on workouts in the afternoon. 
Something is different with this summer though.  I feel like for the first time I am floundering.  I suspected this to happen.  Read about this happening, and talked to others about this, but it is weird experiencing this for myself.  That post race, post Ironman let down.  For months, and months, I had complete focus on one thing.  Every ounce of energy, physically and mentally was spent wrapped up in Ironman.  Now the race has come and gone, and although we are still riding that buzz of the race, I feel weary.  Apathetic.  Looking around thinking, “What should I be doing?”  This is normal, I have heard.  But a whole new feeling for me.  I guess I have been so consumed for the past year, juggling life as a mom, wife, homeschooler, athlete, etc, to now…nothing.  I have other races, and places I am going and doing, but not like Ironman.  Not the same intensity, not the distance.  I am still a wife and mother, but school is done for the summer (no homeschooling), and life is slowing down.  Normally, I look forward to this. I am trying to relax.  I am trying to enjoy the beauty of our summer.  Lying in my hammock on our patio, reading, I have this sense that I need to be jumping up to “do” something.  I usually love the laziness of summer.  The long days.  But what should I be “doing” is rambling around in my head this year. Training is still going on, but not the long 6-8 hours/day of training.  I miss it.
I know our summer will be over before we know it.  I want to embrace the glorious weather, sipping wine while eating al fresco downtown, lazing around on the beach or boat, early morning open water swims, Yoga on the beach, walks with my poochies, mountain hikes, reading a book that isn’t a training manual, paddle boarding, spending time with my family and friends, but how…how do I do that while constantly thinking I need to be doing something?  How do I slow it down a bit?  I am usually a “live in the moment” kind of girl, but am having a hard time seeing how awesome, and how needed this moment is right now.  Relax and breathe Paula.  This moment will be gone before you know it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fueled by Fine Wine ½ Marathon, Vixen, Diva, and Dominatrix style.

Just got back from a fun-filled weekend with the girls.  Racing, wine, good friends and the ocean.  All wrapped up in one little package. 
Brenda, Michelle, and I hopped into the car and headed out Friday afternoon towards Oregon, where we would be running the Fuel by Fine Wine ½ Marathon in Dundee Hills. We were excited and giddy as we took off.  The drive over was gorgeous as usual…well, once we got to the Columbia Basin, and onto the Hood River.  Our first stop was the Naked Winery in Hood River.  What a place.  We tasted some fabulous wines, and has some pretty good laughs when we started noticing the names; Vixen Syrah, Tease Riesling, Naughty Chardonnay, Penetration Cabernet, Diva Sangiovese, Dominatrix Pinot Noir to name a few.  We tasted, we loved, and we left…how’s that for a one night stand?

Onto Portland to our friends Angie, and Thomas’, who were so sweet to put us 3 crazy girls up for a few days.  They were the greatest hosts, and we loved hanging out with them, their friends, and dogs.  Angie was also running the ½ with us. 
Saturday started and we were anxious for packet pick up at the Dobbes Winery.  We got there and the 4 of us IMMEDIATELY noticed all the beautiful blue, Tiffany & Co boxes sitting on the tables, alongside, various bottles of wine, and gorgeous race medals. They handed us our race bags, cute little reusable bags by Wine by Joe, filled with all sorts of goodies.  Race stickers, LOTS of coupons for free tastings in the Dundee area, and a fabulous Columbia Titanium tech shirt.  We all sat and drooled over the medals, and were impressed with the schwag and the Land Rover, and Tiffany sponsors. 

Michelle, Angie, Myself & Brenda

Then we headed to the beach.  What a great day in Pacific City.  The sky was blue, and sun was out, and the waves were…cold.  We all put on our wetsuits to get in for a dip.  All of us were dipping in and out up to our knees.  COLD.  The before we knew it, we were all in.  Diving under waves, and splashing around like a bunch of kids.  We got out, had a quick lunch at the Pelican Pub.  Fueled up to hike the Dune.  The huge dune.  Again like a bunch of kids, getting to the top, climbing trees, and running back down so fast our ankles were surely flying over the backs of our heads.  We considered rolling, but sand…hmmm. 

We set back out for some more wine tasting.  What a day!! 
Sunday was race day, and we headed out early to get to the start.  None of us knew the course.  Hadn’t seen a map, but had heard it was hilly, and that is would probably not be a PR course.  The first few miles, about 5-6 were nice.  Gentle rolling hills through some low- lying vineyards in the valley.  What we didn’t know, that starting at about mile 7, we were climbing out of the valley.  The course went from rolling to some pretty significant climbs.  Hilly, at this point, was an understatement.  I was trying to take in all of the sites.  We were running on paved roads, then off to gravel, then into and through the vineyards and on Jory soil, which is what they plant the grapes in.  It was breathtaking.  No really…it was taking my breath away.  The hills.  HA.  It was some beautiful country, and once getting to the top, we could have not asked for a better view.  The valley below was stunning.  All you could see was vineyards for miles.  With the magnificent Mt. Hood, Mt. Saint Helens, and Mt. Bachelor in the background. Amazing.  The course was a challenge, which I loved. All of us ran a great race!!  We finished to a great post race party, where they handed us our medals, and a free wine glass and onto a huge tent full of vineyards for us to taste, and a lot of great post-race food, and even some chocolate!!  Did I mention wine tasting?
  Then off to the awards and raffle.  This was when was we were getting excited.  All of those little blue boxes perched on the table. They handed out age groupers, and over-all awards and we patiently waited for the raffles.  Calling off random bib numbers, was putting us girls into a frenzy.  They handed out caps, and socks, and wine….and then, the big boxes….”Closest number to 600????”  I was number 596.  WooHoo, we were all screaming as I ran up for my BIG blue Tiffany’s box to find inside a gorgeous wine decanter.  Unbelievable!  I was pretty darn happy with this day!!

We spent the rest of the afternoon, wine tasting at some various vineyards, visited a lavender farm and back to Thomas’ and Angie’s for a BBQ with their friends.  A send-off for a couple of them heading to race Ironman Lake Placid.  It was the perfect ending to our day.
This was a wonderful race!!  This was the first year, and it was so well run.  It was a great course, great location, great, post-race party!!  

We cannot wait to do it again, and have already made plans to make it an annual event. 

We also decided after coming back on Monday and stopping in Hood River again, to become wine club members at the Naked Winery, that we would like to run as Team Naked.  The Diva, The Vixen and The Dominatrix.  Our weekly training is going to consist of some good hill repeat training up to my house….1-mile uphill.  Followed by wine repeats, on the deck.  Cheers to good friends, great wine, and a challenging but spectacular race!!!  

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Paula Nilges...YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!!

I figured it was about time for me to sit down and get some Ironman thoughts down.  However, it’s not very likely that I will ever forget every single second of my Ironman day.
All of my hours, weeks, and months of training all came together in one day, Ironman Coeur d’ Alene, June 27, 2010. It was a spectacular race.  Very special to me, because it is held in my hometown. 
Since I was a young, even a teenager, I have had my eyes on Ironman.  I watched these “super-athletes” compete in the most grueling endurance sport ever, and for some CRAZY reason, I thought that it looked like something I wanted to tackle.
The week leading up to the race was just a frenetic buzz of energy around this city.  My friends and other racers met for short rides, runs, swims, and sometimes just for coffee, JUST to get our minds off of what was coming.  I have had the wonderful privilege of meeting some of the most awesome people through all of this.  From here in CdA, to out of town, and even out of the country.  The Tri community is like nothing else.
Things started heating up on Thursday when the IM Village opened up.  We all headed down to see what vendors were there, look at new bikes, wheels, gear, you name it.  Friday we had our athlete banquet/welcome dinner, we were able to sit with 2500 other racers, have dinner, and get PUMPED UP watching videos and hearing the one and only, Mike Reilly speak to us.  The energy was amazing.  Tears were flowing.  We were ready!

The voice of Ironman, Mike Reilly

Our Coeur d'Alene group.

My amazing, and gorgeous training partner, Natalie

Saturday was gear and bike check- in.  Going over my bags got me feeling a little unhinged.  Morning bag, bike bag, run bag, bike special needs bag, and run special needs bag.  WOW!  I was happy to be able to take them down, and drop them off, along with my bike and let them go from my mind.  In the transition area, you could see, and feel the nerves.  Everyone looking over their bikes, checking tires, mechanics, bento boxes etc.  This was when all of this really hit me. Reality hit me over the head.  I WAS ABOUT TO EMBARK ON THE GREATEST TRIATHLON ever.
Sunday morning, my friends and training partners met.  It was not just another day and we knew it.  Our bodies, shaking uncontrollably, only able to have small talk, and lean in for frenzied hugs.  All of our minds were elsewhere.  I got my body marking done, and my stomach was in knots.  My body was shaking, I was sick to my stomach.  I went into my bike, put all of my fuel onboard, and checked, over and over, counting my food for the day.  Checking to make sure calories were correct in my bottles.  2- 20 oz bottles of Heed in the lower cages, H2O in my Areo-bottle, 2- 31/2 hour bottles of Perpetuem on my seat mount.  In the Bento boxes, pretzels, baby red potatoes with sea salt, a few gels, Cliff blocks, Endurolytes, SportLegs, and Race Caps, and GasEx strips.  And a gel flask, mounted onto my top tube.  WAY more than enough fuel. 
We made our way down to the beach for the start.

Stretching into our wetsuits, getting more anxious by the second.  We had small talk, trying to get our minds off of the day.  We checked our goggles, made sure our neoprene caps were on straight, as well as out regular Ironman swim caps….and the cannon went off.  2500 athletes all diving into the water at the same time.  I have watched this from the shore, and it looks like a million piranhas fighting in the water. 

I got in, and was pretty quick to realize it might be a while before I could actually pull off a full swim stroke.  Bodies were everywhere.  Elbows, heads, knees, feet, some swimmers, riding right on the back of my legs and knees.  I was ridiculously calm, although fighting in this mess of sharks.  I kept thinking to myself, “Paula, you are doing this…stay relaxed, you have worked so hard and so long for this, no matter what happens, stay focused and in the game, this is your dream, Baby!!”  Heading into the first turn buoy, was CRAZY.   Every body in that water came screeching up on one another.  Frog kicking, treading water.  This was the only time I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  There was hardly any forward movement, but a lot of kicking, and drinking of water.  Passing the first buoy was fantastic.  Getting to that first turn- around at the beach was amazing, I felt so great!  Back into the water for the 2nd loop.  I felt so strong, and so relaxed.  When I came out of the water the 2nd time, I could not believe it.  After all, swimming is the worst of my disciplines, and what I looked forward to the least...and who swims 2.4 miles, anyways??  I could hear the crowd, hear the music, and I felt so alive, and courageous.  I ran up the beach, peeling my wetsuit down to my waist, and up to the wetsuit peelers.  Ok, these folks really have their act together.  Yelling out, waving their hands for you, and BOOM, you are on the ground, wetsuit ripped off in 1 second by two people, and a third to pull you back up standing.  Then you are running towards the bike bags, volunteers, yelling out your number.  I was handed my bag and pointed to the changing tent.  Inside were hundreds of women, peeling off wet clothes.  My volunteer, sat me down, asked how I was feeling, dumped out my bag and started changing me.  She handed me my gel and bagel, and put my socks, cycling shoes, helmet, sunglasses and jersey on me.  She then took out my sunscreen, and slathered me up, asked if I was ready, and pushed me out the door, towards my bike.  I didn’t get her name, but THANK YOU!!
I easily found my bike.  I had practiced this the day before.  Grabbed it, and headed out of transition, onto 112 miles on the bike.  It felt good to be heading out onto the course.  The sun was shining, the crowds were rowdy and loud, really pumping you up.  The first 90 miles I was way ahead of schedule on the bike.  I was gearing well, climbing excellently on this hilly course, and flying on the down hills.  I know this course like the back of my hand, and know exactly where I can and do make up time.  I felt great!  My fueling was going well, my body felt strong.  At a few points on the course Greg, Corey and Thomas were able to pull along side of me, in a Press Car.  That was such a treat.  Seeing them, made me smile, and kept me pumped.  This is NOT something that happens every day on the Ironman course.  No one is allowed on the course except staff, but thanks to some “special people” I was able to have some “special attention” They pulled up along me one time, as I was climbing in the baking sun, and started CRANKING the Black-eyed Peas.  YAAAAAAHHHYYYY!!  “Tonight’s gonna be a good night!”  I was smiling, and it gave me a great push!!

The sun was getting hotter, and the last 20 miles, was getting hard.  The wind picked up and my speed started to drop.  My stomach was started to hurt.  I didn’t understand why.  I pushed on, but was started to feel my body coming undone.  Heading back into town, which is on a flat, the headwind was ferocious.  I was really having a hard time keeping any speed.  My legs were burning, and I felt like I was barely moving.  I was happy to make the final turn that was going to bring me back in T2.  The crowds again were going crazy. 
Through the whole course, the crowds were amazing.  I have raced A LOT of races, and man…they make you feel like a super star.  The aid station workers are amazing as well.  VERY supportive.  I pulled in one time to use the biffy, and they grab your bike to hold, grab you H20, and ask how you are feeling.  VERY attentive.  Every volunteer in this race is top-notch.  There is NO way this race could exist without them.  I have heard CdA has the best.  I whole-heartedly agree.

Mom & Dad giving me a HUGE shout-out!!

Back into T2 and into the changing tent, where I saw a familiar face.  My friend Michelle.  I almost cried, in fact I did, and so did she.  She changed me, and said, “You are doing this Paula.  You are going to be an Ironman tonight!!!!” And out I went…
I ran out of T2 to see Greg and Mariah by the fence.  They were screaming and yelling, as I took off on my run. 26.2 miles...here we go!  I was feeling pretty good, and I was surprised, that my legs felt so great!  I headed out of town, passing people, watching my pace, checking my time, thinking, Dang….this is going to be the best part of my race.  I am a runner…this is what I do!!!  Then…. a couple of miles in….my stomach.  My stomach was cramping up so bad.  This cannot be happening.  It was so hot out, and I thought maybe I needed some electrolyte, and water.  I couldn’t even take a sip.  How about a gel?  No way.  I was sick.  The cramping got worse, and I finally had to stop and walk.  I was crying.  Who would have thought, the BEST part of my race was going to be the worst?  How humbling this was to me.  I came back through town, and even the crowds were not helping.  They were screaming, and I was hurting to the point of absurdity.  My gut was killing me.  I just kept moving forward.  I kept checking my time, and knew at this point there was NO way I was making my goal time.  Just keep moving I kept saying to myself.  I was trying to encourage others around me too.  We were hot, tired, and this was the part of Ironman, that I knew the mental tenacity needed to kick in.  I saw some friends along the course, and they knew I was in trouble, and hurting.  They hugged me, THANK YOU, JESACA, KIM, KIANDRA, FAITH, AND ALLI (your kiss Alli, made my day baby girl), you have no idea how much that helped me along, and kept me going.  And Jeff... seeing you and Ellie, having you running along side me down the sidewalk, shouting to me that I was looking strong, made me feel invincible.  Made me feel how proud you were of me!

I had so many thoughts in my mind it was ridiculous.  And even at one point, thought about stopping.  I knew I just couldn’t though.  “Give up”, is not in my vocabulary.  Not to mention it wasn’t just me I would be giving up on.  Greg, my kids, my family, my friends, friends Greg works with, my training partners…all who have supported me through this year came to mind.  My Running Mama’s came to mind.  What would they do? What would they be saying? I thought about every single person I knew.  Keep moving.  So what if I blew my time goal, keep moving.  I knew that at some point my body would be screaming at me to stop.  I knew it would play tricks on me, and it would beg me to give up.  I knew that I would face demons like never before that would tell me it’s ok to stop.  I knew I would be pushing myself to the limit, and past. Way past.  I knew my willpower was going to be my only strength.  I knew my God was on my side.  I knew that THIS was was makes you an Ironman.  And I knew how good that finish was going to taste.  As the sun faded and the day cooled, I kept moving forward.  I saw my friend Michelle out on the course on her ATV…”Keep moving girl, she shouted.”  She knows this feeling, being an Ironman herself.  She knew the words to keep me going.  Then finally I could HEAR the finish line.  We were still a mile or so out, and I could HEAR the roar of that crowd.  Like nothing I have ever heard.  As I turned onto Sherman Ave, which is the final stretch, I didn’t feel a thing.  My achy legs stopped aching, my stomach stopped hurting, my mind cleared from the toughness of the day, my body was on a cloud, when just prior it was pushed to the very limits.  I ran down Sherman with my hands in the air.  Saw my daughter Mariah and friends running down along side me, screaming, "Go Mama Nilges!" I knew a dream was coming true. The crowd was high-fiving me, and into the final stretch I pushed.  I could hear Mike Rielly, and tears came gushing out of my eyes.  On this day I knew the meaning of courage, endurance, stamina, humility, fortitude, agony, dedication, will power, pain, euphoria, and grace.  This was all wrapped up in a beautiful bow for me as I crossed the finish line, hands in the air and into Greg’s arms…(yes, he was my catcher, thanks to some special favors of friends.) 

I will never forget that moment.  EVER!  I learned a lot about myself that day.  I learned that dreams come true, and to go for what you want in life.  Don’t hold back, ever! I learned that determination and dedication will take you anywhere.  I learned pain is temporary. That being a little selfish can pay off, and then you get the privilege of paying it back, which feels beautiful. I learned I am a lot stronger than I ever thought I was.  That tears, of both pain and joy cleanse your soul.  That family, friends and complete strangers can make you feel like a rock star, and that with strong will power you can conquer anything.

I had family and friends all waiting for me behind the finish, and it was absolutely worth everything at that point. That feeling of achievement was incredible.
Having that medal put around my neck was unbelievable.  Hearing that long awaited voice saying, Paula Nilges, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN.
I am an Ironman!!!
I am an IRONMAN!!!

I had friends and family all over the USA watch me cross that finish line (thank you East-coasters for staying up late), and even called to say they saw me.  My sister in-law said I had a smile 140.6 miles wide, that I am sure will never leave my face, or my heart!!