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.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks

This is such a wonderful time of year.  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  Its the time of year that we share our "gifts" with our family and friends.  We come together for a meal, each of us remembering the past year, telling what we are thankful for.  Sharing our time, our laughter, the non-material things that make our life so special.  This time of year makes me feel so peaceful and adored.  I love cooking, and having everyone gathered at our table.  I have times that I will just sit back and study the faces of those in my home.  Their smiles are all the thanks I need.

These are the things I give thanks for:

My relationship with God.  Without Him, my life would be an utter mess.
My husband.  He is my best friend, the 2nd beat of my heart.  He is a wonderful Dad to our kids.  The best.  I cannot say enough about this man.  Our souls are so connected, we would wither and die without one another.
Our kids.  Oh man our kids, Rock!!  They make me proud, and laugh like no one else can.  They challenge me, and adore me.  I love their individuality.  They bring so much happiness to this house and to this Mama.
Our extended family.  Grandparents, cousins, bothers, sister-in laws, uncles, aunts.  It is so good and so real with them all.  Blessed.
Our puppies. Golden Retriever hair aside, I could never imagine our home without dogs in it.
Sunshine and the beach.
To be able to travel.
Our friends.  We have such a great group of friends. And my girlfriends...you don't get any better than them.
The 1st cup of coffee every morning, that my husband brings to me in bed EVERY SINGLE DAY!!  (Yes, every single day)
The many books I love to devour.
Running....long runs.
The snow
The ocean
Our bed and soft fluffy comforter, and the mornings I get to sleep in and cuddle up under it.
A warm sauna
Our community and being able to live in Coeur d'Alene
Authentic people
The peacefulness of our house
My RM Mafia ;))
A hot shower
Dancing and music
Red wine
That my hubs rubs my back every night until I fall asleep
My freedom in this country
Giggling with Greg until the wee hours of the night
Snuggling on the couch watching movies
Memories.... the Good and the Bad

It feels great to have gratitude.  To think about how blessed this life is that I am in.
I wish you all a Very Happy Blessed day of Giving Thanks!!

~“If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.” — Rabbi Harold Kushner

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A little biking. A little running!

Watching the Kona IM bike is fast and furious!  We were lucky to see the pro's leave out of T1 and out onto the course.  We were also privileged to see our friends that were racing whizz by us so quickly we were barely able to yell out a cheer for them.  We had driven part of the course on our way to Hapuna Beach, but didn't catch the whole thing.  The climb to Hawi, we hear is hard, and windy.  I can only imagine the heat hitting you, and the wind that can literally whip you across the road.
Right smack dab in the middle of the afternoon we had our volunteer positions.  The "Hot Corner" they call it.  Bikes coming in, runners heading out to their 1st ten-mile turnaround, and back again heading out towards the Energy Lab.  This was amazing!  It was hot, alright!  Standing on that blazing pavement.  As we stood and controlled human traffic trying to cross the course, I could only imagine what these athletes were feeling.  I was only directing people.  They had just finished a HOT and WINDY 112 miles on the bike, only to hop off and take on a 26.2 mile run on this hot, sticky, windless day.

Palani Hill

We loved this volunteer spot.  We had timed it perfectly.  Knowing when our favorite pro's would be coming through off of their bikes, and right past us onto the run!  It was an exciting volunteer posistion.
After our shift, we were free to roam around, cheering on racers, meeting people, and waiting anxiously at the finish for the speedy's.  It seemed almost impossible that in such a short amount of time, the pro's were coming in finishing their run.  Their Ironman day was coming to an end.  We cheered loudly and got teary-eyed as they came in.  Craig Alexander.  Breaking records, and sobbing as he met his family at the finish.  And Chrissie Wellington.  The woman with the hugest smile!  Gracefully making her way to her Ironman World Championship win.  She was all smiles, of course.

Craig Alexander

Crazy Fans!

Crazy Volunteers!

Chrissie Wellington

Finishing up for the Win!!

As the day continued, we watched racers, wandered around, cheered, stood in awe of the people we saw finishing. It was a remarkable day.
Towards the midnight cutoff, the party downtown was incredible.  It was inspiring to see these athletes finish.  These men and women coming in after the hardest race of their lives.  This is the "meat" of Ironman.  Not to put off the pros and their hard work, but listening to the stories spill out about these late finishers was astounding.  Cancer survivors, current cancer patients, amputees, people who had overcome so many health issues, weigh loss, loss of spouses, children, parents,  people defying the odds.  The tears rolled from my eyes, seeing them literally battling everything within them, to cross that finish line.
And after the midnight clock ran out.  That 17 hour cutoff.  The ceremony that followed was incredible. Hula dancers, fire dancers, closing prayers, and the traditional blowing of the Hawaiian Pu horn.  We loved hearing them talk about the race, and bring to a close of the 2011 Ironman World Championships!!
Along the course ~beautiful!!


Mike Reilly pumping up the crowd!!

Our last day on the island was all for Greg and I.  We set off for a little adventure.  Just the two of us.  We spent the day exploring the lava flow in Volcanoes National Park.  We did some hiking through rain forests, went and walked through the stinky sulfur beds, walked through a lava tube (which was really cool) and stood to feel the steam from the huge steam vents or cracks in the Earth.  We visited the extraordinarily beautiful Painted Church.  The rest of the afternoon we spent laying in the Hawaiian sun on a black sand beach at Punalu'u.  That night, we met the besties for our "last supper" and had an amazing sunset dinner!  It was a great finish to our incredible Kona experience.

Punalu'u Beach

Volcanoes National Park

Steam Vents

Stinky sulfur

Greg heading through the forest to the lava tube

Heading into the tube

The Painted Church

Coming home was hard.  Hard to leave the warm sand, the beaches, the clear waters of the Pacific and the excitement of Ironman.  Hard to come back after being kissed by Kona, Hawaii.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Undies, and friends, and swimming OH MY!!

Doesn’t everyone run in his or her underwear?  Ok, maybe not.  This day was definitely a highlight for us in Kona.  The “famed” Underpants Run down Ali’I Drive.  Nothing like getting’ in your undies with your best friends, and…running.  This event didn’t disappoint.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect, as we gathered down at Pacific Vibrations on Thursday morning.  A few of us…..a few hundred.  All ages, sizes, shapes, nationalities.  One thing in common, the Undies.

Gotta love friends that race in Undies!!

Look who we found out on his bike during the Underpants Run....Macca!!

We ran a little loop around the downtown, stopping at the pier to do some calisthenics.  Flex our muscles.  Do some lunges, jumping jacks, flex our muscles again.  Check our heart rate.  All in fun.  I was surprised at the spectators that lined the streets of Kona to give all of us a “shout out!”  Cheering and clapping, with cameras ready.  It was hilarious!  

We spent the day before Ironman at Hapuna Beach, which is north of Kona.  A beautiful white sand beach.  I was relaxing, with gorgeous turquoise water.  We did some boogie boarding, but just really took it as a day to relax and catch some rays in the Hawaiian sun.
Hapuna Beach

There are so many activities during the week leading up to Ironman it is amazing.  Book signings, pictures and Q & A times with the athletes, the expo was 2nd to none, and the Swag was incredible.  I came home with more free stuff than I knew what to do with.  And of course, the Parade of Nations was amazing.  Each represented country, marching down Ali'i Drive, with their flags, and banners.  You could just feel the energy of the athletes.  The athlete banquet was top notch.  A Hawaiian Luau, with hula and fire dancers, and a huge buffet.  They really know how to pump up the racers. Painting the streets of Kona!

Race morning came, and we were so excited!  We went down early to get a good viewing spot on the sea wall for the swim.  Sitting there, thinking how surreal it was being there watching the Big Kahuna of triathlon racing brought tears to my eyes.  Watching the swimmers come out into the water for the start gave me butterflies.  And the cannon going off, made me gasp for air!  It is something I will never forget.

Ready for a 2.4 mile swim.

.......And they're OFF!!!


Friday, October 28, 2011

Running in the Dog Days of.....Fall

Man's best friend.

"Man's best friend" is a catchphrase for tame dogs, generally referring to the category as a whole. The popularization of the term is said to have occurred in a courtroom speech byGeorge Graham Vest in Warrensburg, Missouri in 1870 who said, "The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog."

 I love running with my dogs.  The way they look when they know I am heading for a run is priceless.  They really get "a look" on their faces.  Eager, excited, and  hopeful, with a smile.  Yes, both of my dogs smile.  With their teeth. True story!
It has been quite a while since I have taken either of them out on a run.  I have been running...they have not.  So this morning, in this gorgeous, crisp, fall weather, I decided to take them out.
I think even the mere "thinking" that I was going to take them, got them excited.  They were running around, and leaping in the air.  Tucker (our Golden) chatters his teeth when he gets excited.  Actually audibly chatters.  It is hilarious, and I wish I could get him on video doing it.  He does this when he is excited for anything.  If I buy him a new toy, and get home and tell him so, he sits with great anticipation, and chatters.  When our older kids come home to visit, he chatters, and when he knows he is going running, he chatters.  This morning...WOW!!  He was excited!
Being that it has been a while, I was unsure of Tuck's mileage and pace.  I decided that I needed to take each of the dogs on their own.  They get ridonk-ulous when I try and take them at the same time.  So Tucker was 1st, which meant that Greg was going to have to listen to our Yorkie, Ava, go holy-ape-$hit when I left.  She runs laps around the inside of the house, barking and carrying on until I get home.  (Not good on days when I am out running for 2-3 hours)  She also climbs onto the dining room table, and onto the windowsill to watch and wait.
So off I went with Tucker in tow.  I hook his leash through a race belt, or my Spibelt, so I can be hands free with him.  I decided that he could easily do three miles, at maybe a 9 minute pace.


His 1st mile, he did great!  Stayed right by my side.  Didn't worry about the other dogs running up to their fences. He is sometimes nervous when they run at him.  I kept telling him, that they were cheering for him, and to keep up his good pace.
Next 1/2 mile, he is starting to slow down.  Hmmm?  At 1.5 miles, we turn around.  I walk with him a little.  I try and get him to let go of the leash he is insistent on running and walking with in his mouth.  I tell him to drop it and breath a little bit.  No luck.  So we head back, he is doing pretty good, but his pace is falling.  His 9 minute miles, have now dropped to about 9:45.  Then we get to the last mile.  This is the hill we live on.  From the bottom, to my driveway is exactly one mile, and it is ALL uphill.  I stop with Tuck, and give him a pep-talk.  "This is it Buddy.  Last mile.  All hill.  This is your Rocky Balboa moment.  Now suck it up, and give it your all!!!"


He is really starting to drop his pace now...10 min mile, then 10:20.  His bungee is tight, and I am looking like a sled-dog climbing the hill with my dog behind me. *What is wrong with this picture?*
  I think to myself, Thank Goodness I have been doing all of this Insanity/Asylum.  This is feeling just like one of those workouts.  So up the hill we go.  One mile, bungee tight, running, with me PULLING my 70lb Golden Retriever.  Kick-Butt workout!!  The quads definitely got burnt today.
I get Tuck home, get him water, and congratulate him on his awesome run!!  He is a happy boy!

Tucker is ready to Run!

 I hook up Ava to the same bungee.
This dog.....bullets out of the door.  She is a Yorkie, but pretty sure she doesn't know it.  I think in her mind, she is ALL Greyhound!  She is my little Speedy girl.  And she just never stops.  So Ava is sprinting in front of me.  She is fast and compact, and muscular.  This dog is built for speed.  She is ALL about sprinting.  1/2 mile, 3:10 Not too bad for a little 8 pounder.  
We get home, and Greg looks at me like....well did you just got to the corner?  Not when I am running with Allyson Felix I tell him. 


**If this gives you any indication on these dogs' running styles...when I meet people, I often attach a theme song to them.  I know, sound a little kooky, but I do it.  I meet them, and the song pops into my mind.  I think it is because a lot of times I see my life as an animated feature.  Anyhow, I have also attached theme songs to our dogs.
Tucker's life theme some is:  Click Link
Ava's life theme song is:  Click Link
That may give you a little more of a clue as to how my running morning went!

I get back after my all out sprint with The Ava, and we take a little cool down (walking for me, and her running in circles and leaping into the air) before we come in to stretch.  This is another time, when for some reason, these dogs go crazy.  If they run with me or not, when I get home, I always say, "Ready to do some stretching."  That's their cue.  They looooove stretching.  They will both sit in front of me on the floor, and go into Downward Facing Dog immediately.  And then the rolling starts.  Over and over they roll, then onto their backs for tummy scratches, then stretching into what I call "the long body"  New Yoga term?  Only in the doggy world.  They growl, and smile, and roll and do Long Body over and over until they feel like they have had some successful stretching.  Then they always feel like they need a little kibble.  Recovery meal, right?
Grab water!
What a great way to recover from a run!

All ready "to do some stretching!"

And onto the back!

The Long Body

One very Happy & Tired Tucker after 3.35 miles!!

~I talk to him when I'm lonesome like; and I'm sure he understands.  When he looks at me so attentively, and gently licks my hands; then he rubs his nose on my tailored clothes, but I never say naught thereat.  For the good Lord knows I can buy more clothes, but never a friend like that.  ~W. Dayton Wedgefarth

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

YES!! We're going to Kona!! Part #1

 Just the mere mention of it, sends chills down my spine.  How many years have I sat dreaming about this place? 
For a triathlete, it is the Holy Grail of racing.  The Ironman World Championships!  The race that started out when I was a mere 8 years old.  I have watched it, countless times on TV.  Every year rooting for my favorite male/female athlete to cross the finish line on Ali’I Drive.  I have watched as they have talked about the heat, the humidity, the Queen K, the Energy Lab, Digme Beach at Kailua Pier, and the struggles these incredible athletes go through, to not only get to the starting line, but to finish this Ironman.
So this year…., many, many years after watching, and dreaming about this place, and 10 years after I started racing multi sport, I finally got go.
It’s funny, that even though, I have only been racing Triathlons/Duathlons for 10 years, I have kept up on the racing in Kona.  In my 20’s, I watched and thought, what an amazing event to be a part of, and ALWAYS knew I would race in Ironman.  When I met my husband, as a young 20-something girl, a runner, a non-swimmer, and mountain biker, I told him, I would race an Ironman!  And always dreamed of Kona.
Well, as the story goes, I was not in Kona to race, but to cheer on a couple of friends who were racing.  One who qualified, and one who got in through the lottery.  Both equally incredible!
Of course, when our friends called the morning that they found out he had been picked in the lottery, I was doing the Happy Dance in my bathroom.  I wasn’t quite sure what was going on at first, when she called, Greg answered my cell phone because I was brushing my teeth.  His face!  If I could’ve snapped a picture of his face…..he was standing there in amazement.  Saying things like, NO WAY!!  SERIOUSLY!!  OH MY GOSH!!  ARE YOU SERIOUS! THIS IS INCREDIBLE!  I am looking at him, toothbrush vibrating in my mouth, saying, WHAT???? Then…I hear it.  Kona!  Our friend has gotten into Kona.  Pause.  Butterflies!  Tingling! Eyes that feel as if, they might bubble over with tears.  I start to dance.  Wildly dance! Our friend got into Kona through the lottery!  I dance in my PJ’s in the bathroom, with Greg shouting, “WE’RE GOING TO KONA!!”  And thus starts the adventure.
Quickly, in a manner of days, us girls are on the phone, meeting for coffee, and figuring out our trip, our flights, our condos, cars.  Of course, we all need to fly together.  Our excitement was insane!  Kona was all we could talk about.  We had dinners together and talked about Kona.  Us girls shopped together, and talked about Kona.  We worked out together and talked about Kona.
Then, finally, we were going.
We flew over together with so much excitement.  Laughing, drinking Kona Long Board beers on the plane. 
When we arrived, it was hot, sticky, smelled of Plumeria.  We loved it, and were ready for an adventure!
We got to our beautiful condos.  They were gorgeous!  HUGE! And right up against the ocean.  The waves crashing, the salty air, the heat, was intoxicating!!

This tiny little town of Kona is amazing!  The energy that this place puts out is inconceivable.  The people are all outgoing and hospitable.  It seems the entire island comes alive from the enthusiasm of people landing daily for this race. 
Living in an Ironman city, like Coeur d’Alene, we are used to “everything” Ironman….but Kona, WOW!! It’s spectacular!!
Before race day, we took full advantage of what this tiny island has to offer.  Every day some sort of adventure was in store for us.  Of course, we had our mornings, rushing down to swim, and watch athletes swimming down on Digme Beach.  We HAD to get in a swim here.  The place where Ironman starts.  And even though, some of us weren’t racing, swimming here is like an out-of-body body experience. 

Digme Beach/Kailua Pier

Our 1st morning, we were up early to run a 10k.  This was also an amazing experience, since the run was along Ali’i Drive, part of the run course for Ironman.  The heat that morning was stifling.  The humidity came in and slapped you in the face when trying to take a breath.  My gosh, how does anyone run a marathon in this heat, I thought. AND…after swimming and biking??  At this point it was 8am.  I found myself a couple of times, getting chills, thinking about running along Ali’i Dr where so many amazing athletes had run before.  It was surreal.  I soaked up every single bit of the experience. 

The gang after the Path 10K

After the race that morning, we were off to the beach for the day.  Thank goodness. 
Most of the time, I feel like a fish out of water…living in Idaho, with no ocean, makes me feel like my gills dry up.  I adore the ocean.  And could, like a kid, stay in the waves, for hours on end.  It’s where I am most at peace.  I feel my most natural.  Serene.  And like when I am in the mountains, feel the closest to God.  So I could not wait, to get in!
We enjoying the sunshine, relaxing, snorkeling, and loving all the sea turtles swimming and beaching themselves next to us.  That night…a Luau!!

At Kahaluu Beach
Huge Hibiscus outside the condo!

Kahaluu Beach

Sunset from our Luau

Before we had even left on this trip, one of the points of interest for us, was to see the Green Sand Beach or Papakolea Beach.
  There are 2 of these in the World.  One in Guam, one on the Island of Hawaii.  This entire day, was unimaginable!!  From start to finish, I knew, this was going to be "quite the day"
We knew that to get to this beach, it was going to take, a 4x4, a good pair of walking shoes, water, resolve & determination.  We had heard about parking, and walking in.  Reviews I read, said it was a "hard" hike in.  Some said, "un-walkable, too far, too windy, don't wear flip-flops, DON"T drive yourself,  you name it.  We thought, "Huh?  We are ALL athletes, how freakin' hard can it be?"  This was laughable, once we saw what was in store.
We jumped into our Jeep....SIX of us, with the top down.  We thought, if there was the slightest chance at driving to this beach, we better take the Jeep.  We pile in, like a bunch of teenagers, going to a beach kegger.  Being that we were limited on space, Alicia and I decide we will take the back.  Like as in, the cargo area.  No seat.  We fix our beach towels into make-shift seats, and think....easy enough.  The drive to the beach took 90 minutes.  We should've thought better about this decision.  Her and I sat in the back, like we were the Labradors heading for a swim with the redneck in the back of his pick-up.  It was hilarious!!  Her and I laughed our butts off sitting back there.  It truly made me feel like a high-school kid.  Thank goodness neither of us got car sick.
We finally make it to the "parking lot" of the beach, climb out, and think we are going to start this walk to the beach.  Up pops David, this sweet, funny, sweaty little Hawaiian man.  He is ready to drive us.  We look around and think, we can walk.  "3 miles in" David tells us.  We are taking the ride!!  This proves to be a fantastic decision.  Even in our Jeep there is NO WAY we would've been able to drive. This road he takes us on is like Mr. Toads Wild Ride.  We are all crammed into (this time there are 7 of us, including David) into his old, extremely worn-in Expedition.  He is taking us over boulders, and dunes, and ruts like I have never seen.  I wish, I would've jumped out to snap a picture.  David, our driver, and in the front passenger seat, Dennis and Brenda....Bren sitting on his lap.  Backseat; Greg, Alicia & I, and our Ironman, Randy, crammed into the back cargo area.  All of us bouncing up and down, smacking our heads on the ceiling practically.  The wind is blowing so hard, sand is flying EVERYWHERE!  Some of the windows work.....either in the all the way down position, or the opposite...which is making us all sweat to death in this cramped little SUV.  We are sticky, sweaty and sandy and thankful to make it out of this car alive, by the time we reach the beach.  The wind in this area is incredible.  We all step out and look over the edge, where we need to climb down, and are utterly amazed at what we see.  This tiny, little cove, turquoise water lapping up onto this stunning, olivine beach. It truly is green.  I was taken aback.  I have seen all sorts of sand, but never green.  We make our way down, and all of us just stand in amazement of this place.  God, you really know how to create a masterpiece.

Looking down on Green Beach

Awesome blow hole that people were jumping into.

Water was amazing from 50 feet up.

Green Beach Facts:

If ever in Kona, this place is a must see.  It was like nothing I have ever seen.  We splashed and played, took pictures, and sat digging our hands into the sand.  It is just so unusual to see green sand.  We REALLY wanted to bring some home, which is not allowed.  
We climbed back out of this bowl, and back into the SUV ride from hell.  **Another note: If you do ever get to Kona, and decide to go to the Green Beach, park and look for David.  This man, was so sweet, full of the funniest stories, and made the experience that much amazing for us!  And although, I say it was the "ride from hell"  this has nothing to do with David's driving skills, which were top-notch.

We bid our driver, Aloha, climbed back into the sardine car (Jeep) and set off for Ka Lae or South Point.  The southern most point of the USA!!
The waves here were out of control!  Huge, crashing, and scary to stand up to.  We watched cliff divers, and divers jumping into a giant blow hole.  It was spectacular!!

Leaving there, we climbed back into the Jeep to make the journey back into Kona.  We drove past lava fields, coffee farms, rain forests, and tiny little towns.  In one town, we even spotted a silly looking animal, that Alicia and I laughed about for days.  We were unsure if he was a sheep, or goat.  It may have been the heat, the jostling around in the back of a Jeep, the humidity, or too many Mai Tai's, but we thought our (cleverly named) Hawaiian Geep, was something to write home about.  

Our Hawaiian Geep....just so you all know he wasn't fictional!

On our way back, with no tops for the Jeep (we left them in the condo) as we are driving through beautiful, tropical, coffee farms, we are hit by a torrential downpour.  A DOWNpour!!  We just had to laugh.  We were getting soaked!!  When in a rain forest....right?  At that moment, we knew, and proclaimed it...THE BEST DAY EVER!! (which we found out soon enough, we would say many more times over the next 9 days!!)
~To be con't