Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Wet and Wild Ride

This weekend saw me compete in my second Sprint Triathlon, the Caveman Triathlon in Flower Mound, TX.  The distances were similar to my first and I was looking forward to improving my performance, particularly in the transitions.

On Saturday I had to pick up my packet at a Triathlon store in Plano.  I got there early and they were still setting up packet pickup, so I browsed the store…In particular, I was interested in learning more about how to dress for the race.  In my first Tri, I noticed - rather, Angie noticed and commented on the fact that I was the only participant in a regular cargo short type bathing suit.  During that race, I wore compression shorts under my bathing suit and changed out of my suit into my bike shorts during the first transition.  During the second transition I changed out of my bike shorts and into running shorts.  Because of these wardrobe changes, my transition times were what I thought quite long.

At the store, I inquired about what clothing options there were.  The employee brought me over the the tri clothes section.  They have special tri shorts that you swim, bike and run in.  Unfortunately, there were none in my size (it’s hard to find tri stuff that fits a larger than normal triathlete).  So, I purchased a pair of padded bike shorts and decided that I was going to swim and run in them.

Come Sunday morning, the weather forecast was not good, and the blustery winds and ominous clouds portended a wet race.  As we waited in the staging area to begin the race, the wind picked up even more and the deluge came.  Fortunately, the staging area and swim were indoors.

I loaded with my group and slowly approached the start.  I was called forward, stepped on the timing mat, waited for the beep, and jumped in.  I felt very strong during the swim.  Since we only went in one direction in each lane, there were passing opportunities.  I swam without any stops and passed several other swimmers.  I felt very strong and knew that I had a pretty quick swim.  Although the distance was 25 yards shorter than the first race, my time was just about 1:45 faster.  I got out of the pool and ran to my bike and the first transition.

It had started drizzling again by them, so there was no point in drying off.  I put my socks and bike shoes on and put my jersey on.  I finished with my helmet and then my gloves and was off the the mount area.  I mounted my bike and was off.  My transition time was 5:02, about 1:15 faster than the first race.

The bike was a very fun ride.  Because we had to do two loops, there were all ability types on the course at the same time.  I passed a good number of riders and was passed by an equally good number.  The uphills in the wind made it feel like I was going to have to quit, or dismount to make it up the hill.  Although, in the lowest gear I was always able to make it.  The downhills were amazing and I would typically accelerate in a high gear and coast if necessary.  The wind on my face stung a little, but other than for having to take turns carefully, I didn’t let the wet affect me.

During my first race, I noticed that I could not stand and pedal.  Each time I tried, my pedals would fly away from me.  This race I wanted to really get some standing time in, particularly on the uphills.  I figured I would keep my bike in a higher gear and try again.  No matter what I did, I was unable to stand.  I am going to have to work on that.  I did try to keep my chain on the outer (larger) sprocket for the race and for the most part did, except after failing to stand on the uphills.

I completed the two loops (14 miles) in 57:17, which was 3 minutes longer than the previous race.  However, since the bike course was a mile longer, my pace was faster - over 14 MPH.  I dismounted and jogged to my transition spot.

My legs were really hurting after the ride.  I sat to change into my running shoes.  Since I didn’t have any clothing to change, my transition time was a bit quicker, over a minute and a half faster for a 3:20 T2 time.

I jogged out of the transition area.  There was a pretty good crowd lined up at the beginning of the route, and they energized me to keep jogging.  Once I got onto the trail and was alone, I started walking.  I really couldn’t feel my legs and found running difficult.  I ran for about a minute then walked for a minute.  Probably about a half mile in, I started getting some feeling in my legs and finally caught my breath.  At that point, I started running for longer and longer intervals, and walking for shorter ones.  The course felt like it had very long downhills, which I ran - knowing in the back of my mind I would have to come back on the uphill.  However, the uphills never felt so big or too long.  I jogged most of the rest of the course and finished with a little slower than normal 5k time of 39:53.  Although this course was a tenth of a mile shorter than the first, my time was a full five minutes faster.

I crossed the finish in 1:53:18.  I wanted to come in under two hours and I did.  Better yet, my pace on every part of the race was faster AND I took about 2 minutes and 45 seconds off from my transition times.

Although I am pleased with my progress, and these triathlons are so much fun (not like running half marathons - those aren’t a lot of fun for me), the real reason I am out there is to raise money for clean water in Africa through Team World Vision.  I remember my friends at World Vision when I run.  I remember my friends in Africa.  I remember our sponsor children when I don’t want to train.  I remember each and every supporter who makes a donation when I want to quit.  Yes, I look forward to getting stronger and lighter and pushing myself even harder (I will do a full Triathlon some day), but I really look forward to going back to Katito, Kenya and seeing the smiles on my “other family” and seeing the results of the good work going on over there…

…good work that is being funded by your donations.

Thanks for your support,


Monday, April 07, 2014

A PR-fect 10

I sprinted to the finish line and as I crossed I completed my 10th half marathon since I started raising money with Team World Vision in 2011.

And, even though this race wasn’t the fastest 13.1 I have run, my time of 2:51:52 was over 3 minutes faster than the same event a year ago.  That’s called a PR, or Personal Record, and I will take it every time.  I am one of those runners who judges his performance by his time.  If I am not getting faster, than I feel like I am not getting better.

Going faster isn’t just a personal goal for every race.  I am fully aware if I don’t speed up, I will be very much in danger of not being able to finish the Half Triathlon I am signed up for in August.  Not only does my running have to get much faster, but my swimming and biking, as well.  It’s one of the reasons why I am training so hard, to be able to finish that 70.3 miles that I will be attacking in four short months.

Ultimately, however, it isn’t as much about my progress in these races as it is about providing clean, healthy water to those in Africa that do not have easy access or close access (or even ANY access) to water.  Over the last 3+ years, through YOUR generous donations, I’ve helped raise over $16,000.00.  This provides an amazing amount of life giving water (and protection for children)!  This is why I run.  This is why I train.  This is why I beg you every year and every race for another donation.

This point really struck home as I was getting ready for this Saturday’s race.  It was early morning and I was alone in the house.  I made coffee by going to the fridge and filling the coffee maker with filtered water.  I took a bottled water out of the fridge to hydrate.  I ran water to make my oatmeal.  As I ran the water to brush my teeth, all of this easy and convenient access to water struck me.  Unless you’ve seen the lack of water access in person, you cannot really understand it. We have cheap, safe water in overabundance.  We have so much of it we often waste it and don’t even think about it.  I don’t think we should feel guilty about having water, we at least need to be aware that not everyone does.  And, with a little giving, we can change that.

When I was in Kenya, we learned that they have a saying, “Take what you need and share the rest.”  Not only is that a saying, but we witnessed that it really is a way of life for many.  It is a way of life for the group of widow farmers we met who raised crops and donated much of their produce to a group of orphans.  We witnessed it with a group who formed a banking cooperative to help fund community projects with micro loans.  We benefited from it when a group of older women we met with gave us these beautiful weaved baskets as gifts when we were all prepared to buy them.

I witness it every time one of you wonderful people donate to this cause.  It is because of your LIFE GIVING donations that I run…

Hopefully each run will be faster, but my speed isn’t what is the most important thing…

Thank you for your support,


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I Gave It My Best Tri

There is a lot of fear in the unknown.  I felt that fear before my first half marathon several years ago.  I felt that fear again (magnified) before the NYC Marathon last November.  On Sunday, I felt that fear yet again before my first Triathlon.  I wasn’t afraid of the distances (300 yard swim, 13 mile bike, and 3.2 mile run), but I was afraid of the unknown.  What was the swim going to be like?  Was I going to slow down faster swimmers behind me?  What were the transitions going to be like?  Would my bicycle handle the fact that I exceed the manufacture’s max weight?  Were my legs going to be able to handle it?  Was I going to be able to run after biking?  These fears were intensified as I was on line to start the swim.  A man walked up to me and introduced himself as “Iron Dave”, the area president of the United States Triathlon Association (USTA).  We talked about how I got involved in the sport and my fundraising with Team World Vision.  We talked about the swim.  I asked him about the pool length, as the pool seemed to be a little smaller than the pool at the gym where I train.  I’ve been told that the pool at the gym is 50 meters long.  However, this school pool (which looked only a little shorter) was 25 yards.  I came to learn that the pool at the gym is 25 meters long, not 50.  So, I’ve basically been doubling the distances during my training from the actual…now I was really scared that I was going to have a tough swim.

Ultimately, all of these questions were answered during the 2 hours I raced, and the truth is, I had an amazing time.

I actually slept well the night before (which doesn’t usually occur before a race).  I woke up at 3:30am and had my breakfast, got ready and stretched.  I arrived at the race about 6:30 and set up my transition area, laying out my bike gear for the first transition (T1) and my running gear for the second (T2).  I also got marked (bib number 117 was magic markered onto my left arm and calf, as was my age on my right calf.)  I went into the pool area not really knowing what to do and sat with other racers and spectators until about 7:15.  Angie arrived at the pool a little bit afterwards and we chatted until the race started.  Since I was talking with her and I didn’t want to slow down any other swimmers, I decided to get at the end of the line to start in the pool.  They were staggering the start about 10 seconds and when it was my turn I put on my goggles and jumped in.  

I immediately lost my breath, probably due to the adrenalin rush and began to swim.   I swam slowly, but steadily and completed the first length of twelve.  Angie was waiting for me and she gave me shouts of encouragement.  Within the first couple of lengths, I passed my first swimmer.  Each lap I completed was met with another cheer from Angie.  At the end of the eleventh length I said to her I was going to pass the swimmer that was about a third of the way ahead of me.  I beat him to the ladder and pulled myself out of the pool and ran to the transition area.  My swim time was 9:30.

It was COLD that morning, and here I am outside, with nothing but a wet bathing suit on and began to dress for the bike.  Thankfully, I brought extra clothes in case it was cold, so I had a long sleeve shirt and my jersey.  I took of my bathing suit and put on my bike shorts.  Finally, I tried to put on my socks and bike shoes, but my hands were so cold that they were already numb and it took a lot longer than I would have hoped. My T1 time was 6:15.

I ran with my bike to the mount area and got on the bike.  The first thing I noticed was that I was already breathing very hard.  The second was that I was very cold.  I just started pedaling without really thinking about what I was doing.  The beginning of the course was uphill and it was very windy, so my legs started burning right away.  Other bikers were coming in the opposite direction (finishing their bike portion) and this got me motivated so I just started “riding the circle”, pushing and pulling my legs to get moving.  I had so much fun on the bike, even though on several windy uphills I thought I might quit.  My legs were spent, but each uphill was followed by a downhill on which I could accelerate and rest.  I thought about all the people that donated and all of the people whom the donations would help and set my mind that no matter what, I would finish.  I passed seven other riders during that run, so I knew that my bike portion wasn’t the slowest.  In fact, relative to the rest of the race, it was my best performance, completing the 13 miles in 55:41 which is a 14.0 MPH average.

As I dismounted and entered the transition area, I saw Angie and waved to her.  It really helped having her there to cheer me on.  I racked my bike, changed my shoes and replaced by bike shorts for running shorts.  I first started leaving the transition area in the wrong direction until another competitor told me to turn around - that I was going the wrong way.  My T2 time was 4:53.

At first, I couldn’t feel my legs or do anything more than just a slow jog.  Even doing that, I caught up to someone on the course, ultimately passing them.  Another runner passed me (I had passed her about 2/3’s into the bike course) so I knew I was going to slow.  By about the first half mile, I started getting some feeling back into my legs and started picking up the pace.  The course was somewhat hilly, and I ended up walking the uphills and running the downhills and flats.  I walked more than a typical 5K for me, and ended up taking about ten minutes longer than I would have normally.  As I entered the parking lot to the finish, I saw Angie.  She was taking pictures and started running towards the finish line to get me finishing.  That motivated me to pick up the pace and beat her to the end.

I crossed the finish line with a time of 44:55 on the run and a total time of 2:01:16.

It was so much fun, but I learned that these short distances are much more demanding than I expected.  Given that I have another Triathlon in two months that is 4 times each of the distances, I have a long way to go.

But, with hard training and your support and prayers, I will do my best.


Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Marathon Man

It's been a couple of days since the marathon, and I am recovering nicely.  I am still sore, and my feet hurt, but otherwise I am in much better shape that I expected.  In fact, the entire weekend was just so amazing, I couldn't have imagined it better than what occurred.

The morning of the marathon started early for me, as I slept fitfully the night before.  I had my alarm set for 3:45, but was awake a little before it went off.  After getting ready and stretching, my sister and I left for Manhattan.  We dropped one car off near the finish line and used hers to get me to the buses at the midtown library.  I boarded one of the many buses around 7:15 and was off to Staten Island.  I sat with a group who were all doing their first marathon.  One of the group was from NY, the others from Montreal and Los Angeles.  A couple of others near us included a pair of brothers from NY who were doing their 9th NYC Marathon together.  They gave us some pointers as we approached the start village.

I met up with several from Team World Vision and we sat and chatted, waiting for our turn to load into the corrals to start.  After watching the first couple of waves start, we took a picture of the group with the Verrazano Bridge behind us, prayed, and did the Team World Vision rally clap.  We then split up to go to our start locations.  I was in the way back, loading in the last corral.

We walked toward the bridge and finally on to the bridge.  The cannon fired for our wave to start and after a few minutes of walking, I crossed the start line and started my GPS tracker.  The race clock was already an hour and a half in, as I started at just about 11:00AM.

We jogged slowly up the bridge and I looked to my left and enjoyed the unbelievable view of lower Manhattan.  It looked so far away and I was awed by the fact that I would be running 26 miles and through all of the boroughs.  The downhill of the bridge was awesome and we entered into the crowds of Brooklyn.  Miles 2 through 14 are now a hazy memory.  The crowds were awesome cheering for us and waving at us, but they weren't who I was waiting to see - I knew my family would be waiting for me a little after the halfway point when we entered Queens.

After crossing the Pulaski Bridge into Queens, I started to look for them.  As I approached mile 14, I saw a group with orange shirts on the left side of the course.  First I saw my sister Michele, then Angie, Cassie, my cousin Joe, and my Aunt Carole Anne.  The instant I saw them I started bawling.  I was so overcome with emotion that all I could do when I got to them was hug them while I cried. I hugged each and thanked them for coming, but I knew my break was over and it was time to get going again.  I challenged my aunt to run with me, and I think she tried to get her walker moving, but I ran off while they were still whooping it up for me.  When I thought they couldn't see me anymore, I stopped running, cleared my eyes and thought of them some more.  It was time to get a move on.  We ran through Long Island City and up onto the Queensborough Bridge.  It seemed to last forever, and even when we passed mile marker 15, I didn't get the pick me up that most mile markers have on me.  The down slope of the bridge was a nice respite, as was the large crowd of people that were at the end of the bridge's hard left turn.  With another left turn we were on the long 1st Ave run north towards the Bronx.

I don't know if the "wall" is physical or mental, and if it is physical, I don't know if it is muscular or cardio related, but I do know that I hit them all on the 1st Ave run, somewhere between mile 18 and 19.  I started to labor and began walking more than running.  It's here where I first started thinking about quitting.  I prayed for strength.  I prayed for the will to continue.  I prayed for the children that we were helping and I prayed for everyone who supported me this year.  I also thought about my running buddies, Robert and Kristin.  I thought about them telling me to "suck it up, princess".  I also thought about Team World Vision and how it's all about the kids...I continued to put one foot in front of the other.

As I came of the bridge, I noticed the police cars with their lights on were pretty close to me.  I thought, at the time, that this was the time cutoff and that the sag wagon would be with them.  I didn't want my race ended, so I worked hard to stay in front of them.  I was angered by them being so close to me, as I knew I was still on my pace target of about 9 minutes per kilometer.  This anger fueled my a little.  As I entered the Bronx, they got closer and closer...when I was crossing the bridge back into Manhattan, they passed me.  There were a lot of people behind me still running, so I realized that this wasn't the sag wagon, just several emergency vehicles, so I was relieved.  Unfortunately, I also lost my motivation to keep going as quick as I could.  As we came down 5th Avenue, we crossed the 35K marker and then the 22 mile marker.  By then, I started to think I might finish.  I still wanted to quit, but I figured I was so close by this point, that I would just keep going.  Then, my phone died and with it the GPS tracking, stats and my music.  I took my headphones off and just started to watch the remaining spectators.  There weren't too many left by this point, but they were all saying the same thing..."You are almost there!  Keep going!"  So I did.

Eventually, I entered Central Park.  Just a couple of more miles to go.  There were some hills which really hurt, but I could still jog the down slopes.  My feet hurt as I was starting to blister on my toes on my left foot.  My left knee hurt, too.  But, my calves were fine (they usually cramp when I race).  Unfortunately, my back was starting to really hurt.  I ultimately passed 40K and 25 miles.  You think it would be in the bag by then, but you'd be wrong...I wanted to quit more than at any point in the race.  I hit Central Park South and then Central Park West and the 26 mile marker.  I then saw my family for the second time.  I had the same emotional reaction, but didn't stop to hug...I knew if I stopped I wouldn't start moving again.  They "ran" with me.  I then left them and entered the park for the last 800 meters or so.  800 meters is far longer than I ever expected.  Finally, I hit the 400 meter sign.  I screamed, "DOES THIS COURSE EVER END?"  200 meters.  I'm dying here!  100 meters.  The finish line was in sight.  Although the stands were all lit up, there was no one in them.  I passed a line of photographers.  I heard the announcer say something, I think he might have even said my name or something about World Vision, I don't remember. I raised my hands above my head and crossed the finish line.  Surprisingly, I did not get emotional at the finish.  I might have been too tired.  I received my medal and my foil blanket.  I sat on a bench for about a minute.  I didn't want to stiffen up, but I had to give my legs a short break.  I got up, had my finisher picture taken and headed for the exit.

The race was done, and so was I.  But the fundraising continues.  My page will be up for the rest of the year.  I'd be grateful for any last donations...I'm still $300 short of my revised goal of $7,500 and our team is a little short of an amazing $210,000 for child protection.  Make a difference by making a donation.  Click here to go to my fundraising page.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Misplaced Anxiety

We leave for NYC tomorrow.  I've trained hard, maybe too hard, and am nursing some knee and hip pain on my left side.  That is adding the the incredible amount of anxiety I am feeling towards the race on Sunday.  I think some of that is also being fed by the unknown around what I am to experience Sunday morning.

Someone sent me a wonderful note saying that all I have to do is get myself to the start line, and God will take care of the rest.  Someone else asked me, "what's the worst that can happen?"  Pretty smart support from two friends.  At the end of the day, this is just a long race...not a life-threatening or life-saving event.

But what the team and I are fundraising for IS about life and death.  Child Protection is about keeping the most heinous evils away from the most vulnerable of children AND from restoring them when it does happen to occur.  This is important...my knee pain during Sunday's race ultimately is not...

So, we have a couple of more days to raise money, and reach my increased goal of $7500.  Additionally, the team is less than $20,000 away from our increased goal of $200,000.  Please consider making a very generous donation and help make a decision for life.

Click here to donate

Thanks, and God Bless you.


Monday, September 09, 2013

Strong Legs, Broken Heart

I haven't blogged in a while.  I've had an interesting summer and frankly, I'm just glad it's over.

I took a new role at work, and although I am enjoying the challenge it has been a lot of work.  While I was transitioning into this role we bought and moved into a new house.  Then, I was diagnosed with a serious and very rare autoimmune disease.  Then, the woman who took me in as a teen passed away.  Needless to say, it's been a tough several months where many things took a back seat, including fundraising for World Vision's Child Protection Services and training for the New York City Marathon.

A while back, the doctor gave me a thumbs up regarding my treatment and cleared my to continue my training.  I lost a couple of months of training during this process, but I concluded that I was going to try and run the marathon anyway.  I started training again.

Although I am not where I hoped to me, I had a very strong 10k run this morning.  I am in NYC, and the temperature difference from North Texas really seemed to help.  I am going to put that to the test again on Saturday when I plan on running 21k, or a half marathon training run.

As I continue to train, I also realize that I need to step up my fundraising.  I planned on doing a couple of events this summer and will try to squeeze them in before the race in November.  I am more dedicated to this project, now more than ever.  Tonight we had a Team World Vision call, and we had a guest (an employee of World Vision) who had recently been to Mozambique to see the work and need there for child protection services.  He read from his personal journal about kids that were exploited, abused, and in the most horrible need for help.  I cannot clear from my mind the eighteen month old girl that he mentioned that had been a victim of rape...18 MONTHS old for crying out loud.  How can that not break your heart?  How can that not cause you to action - any action that could help these most vulnerable of people.

I know that story and the others he shared will motivate me to go to the gym tomorrow and the next day and the next to continue my training for the marathon.  I hope it also motivates you to click the link below to make a donation to help.  We cannot allow these horror stories to continue.  We MUST act.  I've met some of the people that Child Protection is meant to help during my trip to Kenya.  They are real people, who laugh and cry just like us.  We can make a difference together.  We MUST try!

Please click here to make a generous donation to help fund the vital work being done by World Vision.

Thank you.  I pray that you and your children never have to suffer anything like the people in Mozambique and elsewhere.


Monday, July 15, 2013

One In A Million

For most of you, my lack of workout posts and requests for money for my fundraising for Team World Vision's Child Protection has been a welcome respite.  For me, it's been an interesting couple of months, to say the least.

Several weeks ago I started exhibiting symptoms that made working out very difficult.  I was in a great deal of pain and a lot of motion just made it worse. I went to my general practitioner and he was able to rule out a couple of things, but could not give me a diagnosis, so he referred me to a specialist.  This specialist performed a biopsy and a couple of weeks later I had my diagnosis - a very rare autoimmune disease where my body attacks a normal antibody in healthy cells.  The disease is serious and can lead to significant issues, including blindness and death.  I am fortunate in that my doctor believes he can control the disease with a very conservative steroid therapy and will not have to move to a more aggressive therapy where the side effects from the steroids are almost as bad as the disease.  Either way, my doctor assures me that we will become "best friends" over the next several years as I will have to visit him often.

I have to be honest...if I was going to be associated with something that had 1 in a million odds, I would have preferred winning the lottery.

At this point, I am just glad to have a diagnosis, particularly one in which the doctor has instructed me to return to normal activity as I can tolerate.  So, today, after a week of treatment, I ran.  I didn't run long and I didn't run particularly far, but I ran.  My legs hurt, my head hurt and my breathing hurt, but I ran.  It's amazing how quickly we lose some of our conditioning, but all I know is that I ran.

I don't know if I will be able to run tomorrow, and I know I couldn't run yesterday, but today I ran.  I ran for Child Protection and all of the kids that will benefit from our fundraising.  I ran for all of the people that donated to my run and those who will donate.  I ran to get ready for the New York City Marathon.

Today, in addition to all of the above, I ran for ME!

It's clear that there are no promises for tomorrow.  Go kiss your spouse, hug your kids, and make a donation by clicking here.  Don't wait for tomorrow, do it now.