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.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Moving Forward. Your Only Option (Ironman Canada Run)

One of these days I am going to get this right!  The marathon of the Ironman.  Running is my passion.  I have been a runner since I was a young girl.  I have always loved it.  In 2010, I couldn’t WAIT to get to the marathon of Ironman Coeur d’Alene.  That’s where my magic would happen.  We won’t go back and talk about how not magical that day was was.
Canada…my time to redeem what had happened in 2010.
My run training was kicking butt!  Aside from the fact that… I trained only 9 weeks for Canada.  I almost didn’t race, and literally at the 11th hour, called a friend and coach of mine, to see if we could salvage this Ironman in any way.  We had 9 weeks, start to finish.  7 training weeks, and 2 weeks of taper.  **Now (disclaimer) I do not, and would not suggest this training plan to anyone.  AND, I am not coming from a seat on my couch into this training.  I had an incredibly strong base to start with.  So, I went into this race thinking “just finish” and  ”what can I push my body to do?”
So back to the story~ Off of the bike into T2, I was feeling great!  My bike had been awesome, and I had tons of gas in the tank, my body feeling awesome!  In T2, I talked to myself…..talked through the fact that even though my training had not been as it should, I was feeling GREAT!  I felt strong, had hit my long runs, but was a little concerned that my longest run had been 17-miles.  HOW.  WAS.  I.  GOING.  TO.  PULL.  OUT.  ANOTHER.  NINE.  MILES?  But I trusted my training.
This time in transition, I did have a “personal attendant”  She was sweet, and we talked about Ironman Lake Stevens 70.3.  She was wearing the visor from this years race.  I commented and let her know that I would be racing there next year. (My first 70.3)  Yes, I do things backward!  As I changed, she told me her story about her race….that’s all I remember.  Not the story…but that she told me about it….and wanted to keep telling me about it, as I was trying to leave transition.  HAHA!  Three things were going through my mind at this point; 1. I felt GREAT!  2. Don’t forget to hit the water station on the way out to fill my Napalm flask, and 3. Ummm….the friend I caught on the bike was probably out of transition (BOYS!  They are so much faster) and there needed to be a little chase down!
Right out of T2, I saw my friend who was volunteering.  I ran towards her, screaming and fist pumping until I got to her embrace.  We hugged and jumped up and down, screaming!  What a great moment!  It’s moments like that during these races that are unforgettable.  It’s something you carry with you.  Something, you dig out of your heart pocket later on when you need a pep-talk, and a reason to keep moving forward.
I rounded the corner back down the Lake Drive.  This part of the course at the beginning of the run is so fantastic.  Lined with spectators, cow bells, horns, kids running all over, people waving their signs, and one of the best places to see family and friends. It’s lined with restaurants full of cheering “fans.”  This part is also one of the hardest parts (for me) because when you are finishing, you run RIGHT past the finishers chute, and have this one-mile loop heading away from the finish, back out, then turn around to head back to the finish.  It’s bittersweet.
Along the first part as I was heading into this little loop, I saw so many friends.  People who had made the drive up to Canada, JUST to cheer us on.  Again, seeing people you know, means the World.  I came up to the turn around, and the first timing mat, and saw my family.  Screaming, and jumping up and down!  I stopped for photo ops, sweaty hugs, and to chit chat for a brief second.  I told them, I was feeling SO great.  Running on dead legs (that is to be expected and I know that goes away) but over-all I was feeling like a million bucks!  They then let me know….that our friend, was right ahead of me.  They told me, “you have to go catch him!”  **I love living in this town.  There are a lot of triathletes.  All of them our friends (even if you don’t know one another, there is that bond).  It is so nice to have healthy competition!  So….with a little wave, I was off.  I caught up to my friend, and chatted for a minute.  We laughed because I think he knew, I was coming to chase him down.  Then, I was off!
I knew that people had said this run course was “challenging”  I had driven in a few weeks prior when my friends and I came up to ride the bike course.  It was challenging.  Some really good hills!  But I like that type of run course.    It was also beautiful, with sections along the lake, that I knew would take my mind off of any issues that would plague me.
My first 3-4 miles, I felt so good!!  I was keeping a great pace.  Smiling, waving and talking to spectators and people on the course.  That is another wonderful thing about racing.  The people you meet along the way.  I cannot say this enough!  I was, at this point thinking to myself, that this race was going to be amazing, with the way I felt.  I tried to keep on my target pace, per my coaching and training, but a few times was having a hard time keeping my pace under control.  I felt THAT good!  Then, out of nowhere…pain!  Pain, in my ribs, pain in my lower abdomen.  Not sickness, but stabbing. I blew it off for a few minutes, until it hit again, so hard that it stopped me in my tracks, and doubled me over.
I stood back up, and walked a few steps.  I felt alright, so I started to run again.  WHAM!  Hit again.  Doubled over. I really could not figure out what was going on.  I stood up again, and walked.  Feeling better, I started a slow jog, and again, one after another after another, these stabbing pains in my ribs and lower belly.  I could tell that they weren’t necessarily from GI distress.  I have been down THAT road before.  This was different.
I decided I just needed to walk a while.  I had a young girl (maybe early 20s) walk up to me…we talked.  This was her first triathlon.  The 2nd woman I had met on this course, that this was their first, ever triathlon.  WOW!  She was struggling a bit also with some leg pain.  It’s nice to have someone to commiserate with.  We decided we would try running a bit, but it ended for both of us quickly.  We tried to stay positive and encourage one another.  Again, we ran, and stopped.  This continued for probably another mile.  A very long, excruciating mile! Then…like magic, her leg cramps disappeared.  She was sweet, and said, she felt bad to leave me.  ”Are you kidding me?  GO!!”  ”Rock the rest of this race!”  My words to her.  I hope, she had a fantastic finish.  I never saw her again.  I dropped her story, pain and gratitude into my heart pocket.
I started to become really down, somewhere around 10 miles.  This was a disaster, and I just could not figure out what was going on.  I kept stopping at aide stations, port-potties (thinking maybe….that was the problem) but noting was helping.  Just before mile 11ish, I just couldn’t take it.  I sat down.  I had literally just passed a man, laying in the dirt, curled up into a tiny ball, writhing around.  I stopped and asked if he was alright, and did I need to flag down medical.  He moaned, and said no.  This is the thing about Ironman, these althletes are some of the toughest people I have met.  That utter will to finish at all cost.  That determination, fortitude, courageousness, bravery, and resolve is like none other.  I could tell this man, in pain and in the dirt, was going to pull it together and finish!  As I sat on the road, everyone that passed me asked about my well-being.  Kind, good-natured, merciful people..all concerned about their fellow racers.  My heart was sinking at this point.  I really was uncertain that I would be able to finish.  Tears pricked my eyes.  I had COMPLETELY blew my time!  I was sad, angry and unforgiving to myself.  Medical came up to me, and asked how I was and if I was done with my race.  ”Paula, are you done with your race?”  Am I?  I shook my head, no, and he asked if I could please stand up and walk with him a few steps.  I did, and when we reached his bike, I didn’t stop.  He yelled to me, to have a great rest of my race.  I just kept walking with my head down.
Another aide station…I stopped and went into the Porta-potty, and just sat there.  It was steaming hot in there, and I just sat.  Then….all of a sudden, I hear it…my husbands Scooter!!  NO WAY!  He’s out on the course, driving and looking for me.  I came bursting out of the potty to see him disappearing around the corner.  I was about to lose it from sadness.  I just needed to see him.  My heart broke!  I walked through the rest of the aide station in a fog.  I heard a few people ask if I was ok…I ignored them.  I was in misery.  Still in pain, still unable to run, and now…my biggest fan just missed me.  I took a tiny sip of water at this aide station.  The 1st one in a while.
It seemed like forever before I saw my husband.  He had driven out to the turn around, Run Special Needs, and was a little concerned he said, when he didn’t see me.  Thank goodness he had to come back.  This run is a out and back.  He stopped and I told him, I just wasn’t sure I was going to be able to continue on.  I walked and he rode in the road next to me.  I wanted to just hop on the back of his scooter, and be done with this whole thing.  He told me, our friend who I had passed at the start of our run was not doing well either.  Same issue as me, and was not far behind me, but was struggling as well, and was considering stopping.  I continued walking. Hubs said he was going to ride up to special needs and wait for me.  He left.  I wasn’t sure, truthfully, if I would make it to special needs.
I plodded along, meeting another woman walking who told me this was her 2nd Ironman.  After the first one she said she would never do it again.  Then….her best friend developed cancer, and it was her goal to overcome cancer, and complete an Ironman.  She told me with tears in her eyes of the journey of her friend.  Her surgery, radiation and chemo.  About her incredible braveness to be undergoing chemo, but making the decision to sign up, train and race IM Canada.  More and more of their friends jumped on board, and there were a whole group of them racing, honoring their friend’s fight to make it to the start, and ultimately to her first Ironman finish.  As we walked, she told me how sore she was, and that every part of her wanted to give up, but she just couldn’t.  ”Look what my friend has gone through…if she is still out here, we are still out here!”
Again…another story I tucked into my heart pocket, and continued forward.
As I came down the hill towards special needs, I had that familiar pang of wanting to stop, but then thinking, there are only 13.1 more miles to go.  I had come 127.5 miles….was I really going to stop, or was I going to will myself on, remembering the stories, not beat myself up for blowing my run time, for allowing myself to show some grace to my body and soul for being a “runner” who was not running on this day?
I got into special needs, and almost to the timing mat and turn around, when from out of nowhere my friends BOUNDED in front of me over the mat, and said, “I’m gonna beat you!”  And over that timing mat he went! It made me laugh so hard!  And I felt happy, that he must be feeling better.  I saw my hubs and sat down with him with my SN bag.  I took my shoes off and noticed the huge blisters covering the entire bottom of my right foot, a blister along the right edge of my foot, and wrapped up around my pinky toe.  My  last two toes on the right foot were also red and bleeding at the cuticle.  No wonder my feet had started to hurt.  I changed my socks, and put some BioFreeze on my feet.  That stung, but cooled them down, and it felt incredible.  I got up, took a sip of water and told my hubs that I was going to try to make it one more mile to the next aid station.  I handed him my 2nd gel flask, because I knew I wasn’t going to use it.  I wasn’t taking in any nutrition at the time, and just couldn’t.  I had managed in the first 13 miles to down my Napalm, but barely.  He said, “are you sure you want me to take it?”  Knowing he could not give it back to me if I needed it on the course.  On course help during an Ironman (besides the aid they provide) will get you DQ’ed.  I had him take it, and off he went to meet me at mile 14.  BIG Mistake!
As I watched him ride back up the hill out of special needs, I wanted to bawl!!  People cheering me on were not helping.  I was so miserable!  I hated ever step I took.  I hated everything about Ironman.  I was mad at myself, mad at my body, mad at my mind, mad that I hadn’t trained harder, mad that I had decided to race at the last minute, and just irritated about the whole RIDICULOUSNESS of an Ironman race!  And I was sad, for all of the above reasons.  Such an overwhelming stream of emotions.
And then something dawned on me….I had barely had any water!

The Beginning of the Run.  Feeling great!

Stopping for a photo Op with my friends and family. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Bike (Ironman Canada)

Coming out of the water, I was elated!  My swim had been strong and my best time to date.  What a way to start my race!
Coming into T1, I was quickly stripped of my wetsuit (this is the greatest thing ever, and those wetsuit strippers are incredible and efficient) I grabbed my bag and headed into the changing tent.  It was busy, and this year, I had no “personal attendant” like in 2010.  I took my bag in and sat on a chair.  Again, since I pared my nutrition down so much, I didn’t have the bag of food rolling around like I did in 2010.  I grabbed the only things in my T1 bag.  Helmet, glasses, arm warmers, gloves, race belt, bike shoes.  I had decided this year, I was not changing any clothes.  What I had on in the swim was staying on me all day.  Pearl Izumi Tri shorts, and an Ironman Canada pink tri top.  Easy, swimmable, breathable, wicking.  My T1 was 5:46.  WAY faster than my first IM, where I honestly think I had ordered up a Mani Pedi and a pizza delivery.  Wow!  (I’m getting better and better at this)
I left the tent, and found a “sun-screener,” slathered up, and ran towards my bike.  There she was, looking all shiny and ready to be rode hard all day on this tough Canadian bike course.
Leaving through town is like being in a parade.  The streets are lined with hundreds of spectators, cheering, yelling, waving signs, ringing cowbells, horns, clappers.  It is such a confidence boost, and is something you need to hold onto as you get out on to more remote parts of an IM course.  Ironman, can be a lonely sport, and if you don’t have the mental toughness or the ability to store up the cheering and good thoughts from friends, family, and spectators, it can get pretty desolate, and isolated feeling.
The first part of the course after heading out of town heads along Skaha Lake, its relatively flat, and I think a very pretty part of the course.  I had been told from MANY veterans of this race, to keep in control of my speed from the start until Osoyoos.  It is easy to go out too hard.  This part of the course is flat, with some little rollers.  But I knew I needed to keep my legs fresh for what would be hitting me once I got to Osoyoos and beyond.  I really tried to watch my speed.  It was hard!!  I just felt so great, and wanted to make up as much time as I could.  I kept hearing the voices of friends who have raced here, telling me to keep it in check.  The later part of this course can be brutal.  I had to slow myself down more than a few times!
I was happy that I had made the trip up to ride the course a few weeks before.  I knew what was coming in the passes, and even though we didn’t ride the entire course, riding the passes a few weeks before was a great confidence builder in me.  I knew where I needed to conserve energy, and where I could go for it!
Making the turn in Osoyoos, I knew this meant Richter Pass lay right ahead of me.  I still felt strong and really relaxed.  I made sure that I was right on with my nutrition.  One bottle an hour.  I had my Garmin set to vibe at me every 15 minutes, but for some reason, it never did, or I was too anxious to feel/hear it.  No matter, I was still checking and making sure I was taking in exactly what I had planned for.  (A big mistake I had made in 2010)  I stopped at an aide station right before the Richter Pass climb, and filled up one more bottle with my Infinit.  I had planned 6 bottles total, but had extra powder, and filled one extra, knowing that special needs on this course was not at the half way mark (more like around 70 miles)
I started my climb up Richter Pass.  This is the first major climb and about 11K long.  Richter is about 2300 feet high.  I knew to stay relaxed and steady.  Not to push this one too hard, because this isn’t even the halfway point yet!  I stayed in the saddle, and just enjoyed the climb up, staying very consistent. There were a lot of people along the way cheering/with music and that made it a lot of fun!  I steadied it up and felt a tiny bit of rest at the false summit, then made the rest of the climb (the last 1.5K) to the rockin’ party at the summit!  I felt great!  Strong!
The next part of the course was where I knew I needed to pull some inner strength. The rollers, or as they are referred to, the seven sisters, or the seven b*tches, are a series of big rollers right after you descend Richter Pass (there are actually 10 total)  They SUCK!!  I’m not going to lie.  They really put me to the test.  The wind picked up a little along this part, which made me nervous because I had heard that the wind can get brutal towards the out and back and towards the Yellow Lake climb.  I wondered if it was windy on these rollers, how would the wind be later?
I took the rollers one at a time, and just busted them out.  I was happy to see that we were coming up to the out and back.  I knew I was done with the b*tches, and could carry on to the out and back and Special Needs.
The out and back.  I really have nothing good to say about the out and back.  It was quite possibly the most brutal part of the course.  The pavement in this part of the ride is horrible.  Like old chip seal.  It’s bumpy.  It is around 20K total with a slight grade.  Enough that you can feel it.  It was HOT.  It goes through a section of orchards, bee farms and grasslands.  This is where I started to feel some fatigue.  I tried to keep my mind positive.  I knew that this would be the ONLY place on the course that I might see someone I knew, since this is all a one loop course.  I tried to look for my friends that were racing to keep my mind off the demons that were trying to sneak in.  I honestly felt like I was going to burst into tears during this part.  I finally made it to Special Needs, and was refilling bottles, when FINALLY…I hear someone call my name.  One of my friends was rolling into special needs.  It was a nice boost.  He came up and stopped as I was filling bottles, and asked how I was feeling.  It was a quick chat, and off he went.  Seeing him for that split second, cheered me up a bit, and gave me a little motivation having him in front of me to chase down.
Out of the out and back, I knew I had one more climb up Yellow Lake.  This comes at around 90-miles, and things were starting to hurt.  My butt, my feet, my neck from being in the aero position for so long.  As far as energy, I felt pretty good, I was just SO ready to get off the bike.  I don’t care who you are and how much time you spend on your bike, after 112 miles you are ready to get out of that saddle.  Yellow Lake is a 20K climb.  It feels like it may never end.  I prayed a lot going up this climb.  I was thankful the wind was calm (which is rare) which made it hot as Hades.  I was starting to get really tired and my legs were feeling some fatigue.  I kept looking for my family.  I hadn’t seen them all day since I left for the swim at the start of my race.  I knew they were going to try and see me come through town (they didn’t) and they said they would be up on Yellow Lake.  I climbed and climbed looking for them, and could feel myself feeling a little sad. (Again, those demons try to creep in to mess with your state of mind)  There were TONS of spectators lining the road.  They say it gets like the Tour de France on this part, and it really was.  Towards the top, the crowds grew.  They had music playing, people were running along side me…this was such a nice pump!!  I actually was laughing through part of this because the spectators were crazy and just off the chains!  Had this crowd not been there, it would’ve drained me emotionally.  It was a sweet boost, and I needed one badly.  I passed another friend on the final part of the climb, and we chatted for a brief second.  (Sometimes just a few seconds of a friendly face/voice makes a HUGE impact)  I finally made it to the top, and knew I had to cut my nutrition at this point.  Keep on water only, so the protein would digest in my stomach before the run.
I still hadn’t seen my family.
At the top, I took my last chug of Infinit.  This nutrition is the BOMB!!  After what happened in 2010, I was nervous about GI distress.  My Infinit formula was right on!  Dialed in just specifically for me and race day.  I love this stuff, and cannot say enough about it!!  My energy was great all day, and my stomach never suffered on the bike!  And not having to take any other supplements (electrolytes, salt, calories, protein, carbs, amios etc) takes the guessing out of the day.  Especially in long endurance days, when your body and mind play tricks on you.  One bottle an hour...thats all I had to remember.
I knew the rest of the ride was going to be pretty fast.  It’s a long downhill with one little hill, then a 20k decent into Penticton.  I was back feeling pretty optimistic after the Yellow climb.  I was cooling down a bit, and knew I had a lot of downhill to rest my legs for the marathon.
FINALLY….As I am making the last little climb, I see my friends and family!  They were like an oasis in a desolate desert.  Cheering for me!  Screaming and yelling!  I was so happy to have finally caught up to them!!  I rode by, giving fist pumps and high fives.  They yelled to me and told me our friend who had caught and passed me through Special Needs wasn’t that far ahead of me…..motivation like a cheetah!!  I took off!  Screaming downhill into town at 40+mph speeds.  My family caught me in the car as I was almost into town, and I felt the last little pump I needed from their cheers to get me back into town!  ****And yes, I did catch our friend!!

My friends and family! Like an oasis to my soul!

Almost There!

SO Happy to see my Family!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fearlessness/Abhaya (Ironman Canada Swim)

If you know me, the furthest thing you would ever hear come out of my mouth is, “Hey, I want to go swim 2.4 miles!”

When I did my very first triathlon about 8 years ago, I was petrified.  I remember wondering if there was any way I was going to make it out of the water.  At the turn around, I honestly felt like I was going to have to stop and have them pull me out.  This was a ¼ mile swim.  It took me almost 11 minutes.

Fast-forward a few years to 2010.  My first Ironman.  Same thing.  Even though I had put in the training for the swim, I was terrified!  I knew I had the endurance to make the swim, but competitive, open water swimming has been a source of constant fear for me.  Well…in lake water!  (I am MUCH more at ease, and feel in my element in the ocean)  I just couldn’t get over the murky-ness, the evil looking weeds that promise to grab me by the ankle and pull me under, the pollen, the darkness of the very deep and the fact that it was WAY over my head.  I know this is completely laughable to some, but its how I felt.  Even in the lakes here in Coeur d’Alene, which are clean, gorgeous and crystal clear, I could still feel myself getting anxious during every swim.  My first real open water lake swim in 2010 happened in a tiny man-made lake.  I could stand the whole way, but I was scared out of my mind.


No more fear.  My swimming this year has come a log way, and I have grown to LOVE the lake swims.  Meeting my friends at the beach in the early morning, as the sun is rising, is one of my favorite things to do now.  I adore starting my day off this way.  It’s relaxing.  It calms me.  Brings me so much peace.

Ironman Canada!

Coming down and looking at the lake the morning of the race brought tears to my eyes.  Not out of fear.  Not out of dread.  Out of the sheer fact that for some reason, I knew..this swim was going to be incredible!  The lake on the morning of August 26,2012 was glass!  Temperature was 72 degrees.  A tad warm, but very comfortable.  There was not an ounce of wind blowing.  It was truly the perfect morning.

In transition, I went to my bike, filling bottles, and combing over things with a fine-toothed comb.  My bike seemed light, and that gave me a little nervous feeling in my stomach.  Light because of the fact that 2 years ago, my bike was weighted down with all sorts of gels, chomps, chews, pills, water, liquid nutrition, gas-ex, Tums, and some snacks.  I looked like I was going on a years expedition.  This year….3 bottles on the bike and powder in my Bento.  Badda-Bing!  Traveling light.  Which appeals to me so much better.  In all of my life, really.

I did a quick potty stop, and walked over to the dry bag area, pulling on my wetsuit.  Fumbling with goggles, I hadn’t quite made the decision on wearing one pair or two.  I ultimately decided on two. One on my face, under my cap, and one pair inside my wetsuit.
With my cap on we wandered down to the water.  I was so calm.
The plan was to wade in and to the right of the beach.  Plan diverted…
As soon as my feet hit the water, I went straight in.  And not towards the back!!

“I am your strength and your shield” (Prov 28:7)
“See My face and feel my strength” (Prov 105:4)
“Do not fear, I am with you” (Isaiah 41:10)
“Feel My peace” (Prov 29:11)
“You’ve got this Paula, and I’ve got you” ~Love God.

No fear!  This is what I felt.  None!

I stood with my friend, and saw her anxious face.  She was breathing heavy with tears threatening to spill over as they welled up in her eyes.  I grabbed her face with my hands, and said, “Look at me!!  You have done this swim.  This distance.  You are ready, and will do great!  Find your own path in the water and go for it, and I will see you at the finish!” (I wonder now, if she remembers that moment)  10 seconds after saying that, the horn blew, and I dove in.

My swim was amazing.  The water in Canada is so clear.  Much like Coeur d’Alene.  I swam hard, but at a pace I felt very comfortable with.  A pace that I could’ve swam for miles.  I was not worried about being kicked, punched, swam over.  The thought crossed my mind, but I swam fearlessly!  I stayed in a tight pack the whole way.  Elbow to elbow on both sides of me, head to feet, feet to head, yet I still, had no fear.  Heading around the first buoy, I looked down, and there were divers underneath us.  That was cool to see.  I SMILED AND WAVED as I thought, we are at the first buoy ALREADY!

It’s a one-loop swim, in a sort of triangle!  I was elated!  A few hundred yards, and we would pass the last buoy for the home stretch.  Bam!
The last buoy was far in the distance, and I was starting to hear the announcer.  I am sure I had a stupid smile on my face.  Even in the water.
I kept thinking and reminding myself to NOT stand up in that water towards the beach.  This lake….you can literally wade out for probably 100 yards.  I have watched this race for the past 2 years, and see people wading as soon as they can touch.  Then they try running through the water at chest/waist deep.  I figured as soon as my feet could touch, I would want to do the same.  After all, my foot on land makes me feel secure.  Don’t do it, Paula!!

I could see people ahead of me starting to stand up.  I touched my feet to the bottom, and stood….ish!  And dove right back under.  No way was I going to use up energy running through the water.  And truly, I almost had the feeling of not wanting to exit the water.  My swim felt so good.  I kept swimming until my fingers almost touched the sand, and up I stood.  Running in with a group of athletes, peeling my wetsuit off, the goggles I had inside my suit fell out and into the water.  BRAND new pair of Blue Seventy’s.  Never worn.  I turned for a split second to see them start to sink….the guy behind me was running and closing in on me….that cannot happen!

I could hear them announcing times as athletes crossed over the timing mat.  The beeps were growing louder as water was draining out of my ears.  I hear a 1:25-something.  My mouth turned up into the biggest smile.  (I know for speedy swimmers this seems like a time not to be celebrated, but for a slow swimming mermaid like myself this was extraordinary)

Yanking off my cap and goggles I reached the timing mat, heard my name called and flew into transition feeling on top of the World!  This day….I knew was going to be magical.

Swim time: 1:26:15

***A few years ago, the Hubs bought me this amazing necklace.  It speaks to my true nature and is how I conduct my life, my family, my past and my future and I wear it every day.  I know I am not in control.  I know there is no “putting my life at risk” My days are numbered, as are the hairs on my head.  My life is in the hands of my Creator. 

~Being FEARLESS isn’t being 100% Not FEARFUL, it’s being terrified but you jump anyway…

My necklace: Me and Row

And we're off!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Magical Beach (Ironman Canada)

The calm continued for me as the days led up to Ironman.  The complete sense of well being I was feeling was something I have never experienced before a race.  I am not sure where this feeling was coming from.  Maybe my new vitamin “cocktail” that I have been on, maybe because this wasn’t my first Ironman or maybe just the fact that everyday, as I wake up and prayed about this race, I had the over whelming feeling of God saying, “Paula…do not fear.  I have you.”

Race morning as I sat in the quiet of a 4am kitchen eating my Elvis bagel (I have to have this before every race) I felt some nerves creeping in.  It’s a big day out there.  Was I ready?  What was I doing?  Hubs turned to me as we sat in utter silence and said, “you doing alright babe?” And as small tears leaked from the corner of my eyes, I shook my head.  No.

I went down stairs and started gathering my bags to leave the house.  Body marking started at 5am.  I wanted to leave our friends house on the West Bench at 5:30am sharp.  I was in no rush to get down there and stand around.  It only makes me more nervous.
We left on time, and I was again feeling at ease.  The morning was stunning!! The day before the race with its wind and clouds had made me wonder how our race day would be.  It’s always unpredictable, and those passes are known for their weather changes.  I guess that’s what happens when you climb into the mountains…different weather patterns.  But Sunday, race day, it was phenomenal!  I couldn’t have ordered up a better day.
I went through body marking in the sea of athletes making small talk, but mostly walking in the quiet of anxiousness.
I met up with some of my friends also racing that day.  We chitchatted quietly.  Talked about what a fabulous day it was looking like, gave hugs, had some small moments of tears, held hands and gave one another a lot of encouragement. 
Ironman and triathlon is such an amazing sport.  I love that it is such an individual sport and not so much a competition between athletes.  It is of course, at the pro level, but us AG’ers are generally out there to beat our own clock.  We are racing ourselves, our past IM times, outrunning injuries, sickness, aging, past mistakes, bad habits.  We only have the weight of our old self, our pre-IM, pre training self on our backs chasing us down.  The encouragement you receive from others is true.  Oftentimes competitors are not looking at you like apiece of meat.  So the well wishes are honest and from the heart.  I truly want all of my friends and other athletes to have the race of their lives.  You make some great friends when training this long for a race.  And the friends you have that are other athletes…that bond just thickens.  You see and know what one another is going through out there, and you appreciate their struggles, and hold them up on their bad days, as they will hold you up on yours.

There is something so magical standing on the beach with 2600 other athletes ready to dive into the water, which is really diving into what, may become a 17-hour day for some.  It’s quite.  Calm.  Muscles are being warmed up, but not a lot of words are being spoken.  Only, “good luck,” “have a great day out there,” “be safe,” “have a great race,” and “see you at the finish” You congratulate others around you that you don’t even know, or give them that nod that says, “you rock! you’ve come this far, you are going to conquer this beast!”
When you are standing on that beach, knowing you have prepared for this entire day, you feel a sense of accomplishment, as well as a sense of trepidation.  No one can honestly predict how his or her day will go.  You can only have faith in your training, and faith that God will hold you up out there, bringing you home to the finish.  And if not…this wasn’t your day, not your race, but you have to keep moving forward and not give in or give up.

Bike/Gear checkin.

#2505 Ready to Rock!

A little excited.  A little nervous.  VERY grateful for friends!

Race Morning.  Can you see me among the 2600 athletes?  I am the one in the black wetsuit and pink cap!