Thursday, October 30, 2008

Six Minutes Faster in the Swim

Ahhh...starting to feel better!!!  Got out in the Gatorade open water swim at 830am in my swim skin instead of my wetsuit.  The first 200 yards are pretty brutal as the water must be 10 degrees colder than it is beyond the shore and sandbar.  Once past that point, the water is comfortable in a skin.  Lets face it, I have my own insulation and buoyancy.  I really don't need the wetsuit!

The course is 5 buoys out..turn to one more buoy and then 5 buoys back.  The second turn buoy is DIRECTLY in the sun so we stopped and figured out which two buildings in the distance were right online with the turn and sighted from that.  Perfect!! Right on target for the turn. Very slight current coming across  the return course so a slight angle to the left as you head for shore keeps you on track to run onto the beach to make the timing mat and the second lap of the course.  

At the first turn I looked at my watch. Wow!! Im head of my pace by 7 minutes.  At the second turn, ahead of my pace by 8 minutes.  Getting over a sandbar just off the beach does slow you down a bit so when I stopped my watch on the beach, I was six minutes faster than when I did this last year with Rick during his Ironman.  Im still EXTREMELY slow but very pleased with my time!!

My friend Debbie is flying in this morning to go to the banquet and start helping us get prepared for the Beginner Party we are hosting at 4pm and then the banquet at 530PM!!  

I feel sooooo much better.  Holy moley...I might just do this thing!!!

Well..I didn't break the camera..

Yesterday afternoon, I had the honor and privilege of meeting Greg McFaddin-Film Producer for Ironworks Productions.  If you have ever watched any Ironman coverage shown on Versus, you have seen his work.  An incredibly humble and talented Canadian, he tried really hard to put me at ease as I spent two hours on the beach being interviewed and filmed for the Ford Everyday Hero.  

Did I mention I was so nervous that I forgot the name of my surgeon who did my gastric bypass.  That I stammered and stuttered through the interview.  How in the world do celebrities and politicians do this.  I looked at the camera and FREAKED!!!  

But Greg was so calm and so sweet.  He thought I did great but I felt like a klutz .  He asked me to walk down the beach at sunset and even that seemed so "not right".  

I guess I fell like i have no business doing this interview stuff.  I feel like I am standing in Fenway Park at the plate pointing at the right field wall and calling my shot in front of the biggest baddest pitcher in the world.  I feel like I should just be focused on the race.

We started talking about Christian and I couldn't help the tears coming to my eyes.  He is the reason I run these races and i wanted to make sure the world knew it.  I would much prefer the focus of this interview be on the Leukemia Society than on me.

Well..we will get to see the interview tonight.  Im so nervous I don't think I can even write anymore here.  I am doing another open water swim at 830am with some of the girls from Beginner Triathlete.  

More when I calm the heck down....

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Meet the "new pro" at Ironman Florida

Ok...if you want a good goes!!

I go to pick up my packet here at Ironman Florida and I ask the lady for packet number 2443.  According to the Ironman Florida website, that was SUPPOSE to be my number.  She searched...and then she searched again.

Im sorry ma'am, there is no 2443.

I gasped!!  What??  I begged her to look again, she did and no 2443.

I asked one of the volunteers and she directed me to the Registration Director.  She smiled and said "Hi Melissa...Welcome to Ironman."  I looked kinda perplexed.  "How did you know my name" I asked??  She said.."Well..I know that 2443 is our Ford Everyday Hero...but I changed your number this are now  pro number  55!  

ROFLMAO!!  Me!! A Pro!!  Now that's just too funny for words!!!  I did get the honor of checking in at the Professionals desk instead of waiting in line which was quite a blessing.  I was really overwhelmed by the nice words and comments from the Ironman Staff.  They have all been so incredibly kind! 

So if you're tracking me, Triathlete number 2443, don't panic!! I am going to start this number 55 with a professional colored swim cap!!!

Who would have ever thought!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My bags are packed...

....Oh my god....the day has arrived!!  We are headed to Panama City!!

To say Im nervous is the understatement of the century!  I have WAY OVERPACKED because I just don't know what the weather is going to be like.  Right now its highs in the 60's.  During the weekend they say it will warm up to the mid 70's but who knows.  I packed so much stuff its ridiculous!!

I took my bike in for its check up and "Blue" is doing beautifully.  I think she's ready for another round of 112 miles in Panama City!!  Lord knows she knows the course now!!!

I went to the doctor yesterday because I was having horrible headaches over the weekend. Come to find out, I have a mild sinus infection.  He gave me a ZPack (antibiotic) and some decongestant and said I should be feeling better by Friday.  Going to take it easy for the next day or two.

Im almost too excited to write.  Ill write more from Panama City :) every single person who has followed my blog or if you are just reading for the first time, thank you for your kind thoughts, prayers and comments.  I am so humbled that anyone would even take the time to read this.  For me...blogging is "cheap therapy"...for you...hopefully...its entertainment!!! hahahahaha

In 5 days...Im gonna be an Ironman :)

Friday, October 24, 2008

...Being called a "Hero"....

Hero: n. A person noted for special achievement in a particular field.

Hero is a pretty strong word.  There have been a lot of heroes in my life.  Some of them are alive today (my father, my husband, my brother in law, those who battle for their lives against cancer, those in harms way with the armed forces that secure our borders and our country) and some of them are gone (my 96 year old grandmother who was blind and lived most of her life as a widow, my Godson Christian Stafford who battle Leukemia to the bitter end, and Jessie Gay another cancer warrior who lost her life way too soon).

These people...they are heroes to me.  Every single day their lives were/are a shining example of how special life is and how lucky we are to have the honor of living in this country.

So ... with that said ... you might understand why I have a hard time telling people that, yesterday, I was called a HERO.  

I returned from my workout with Hector, sat down at my computer to work through emails from friends, clients and business associates.  There was this one email that didn't look familiar with the words: Congratulations.  Hmmm...Did I win the lottery in Kenya AGAIN...I thought to myself!!!!???!!!  Did my long lost third cousin twice removed leave me 11 million dollars in Spanish coins in Dubai!!??  Congratulations...??? For what???

And then...I opened the letter...and here is what it said:

Dear Melissa...

On behalf of Ford and North America Sports, we are pleased to announce that you have been selected as the Ford Everyday Hero for the 2008 Ford Ironman Florida.

We believe that you exemplify the Ironman competitor who not only takes on the challenge of training and competing in this arduous sport, but does so at the same time as they contribute in a positive way to a cause or community charity.  The Ford Everyday Hero Award salutes those who have a positive impact on others as part of their Ironman journey...

As the 2008 Ford Ironman Florida recipient of the Ford Everyday Hero Award you will receive a $1000 contribution from Ford and the North America Sports Community Fund to be donated to the non profit group of your choice.

We look forward to having you as a guest of Ford at the Welcome Dinner on Thursday October 30th.  During the Welcome Dinner you will be called to the stage to be presented with the Special Gift Package from Ford and North America Sports.  At this time a "Ford Everyday Hero" video created by Ironworks Productions will be shown to those attending the dinner.  This footage will also be featured in the Ford Ironman Broadcast.

Congratulations again, and welcome to a very special group of exceptional individuals in the Ironman Community.

Helen Manning 
Communications Director
NA Sports

GASP!!! I read the letter again.  The first thing to come to my mind this a joke?  Do they know that I am going to probably be one of the final finishers of the day??  Do they have ANY idea how horrible I look in spandex!!??  Holy moley.  This is incredible.

But the donation!!!  $1000.00!!!  My first call was to my husband.  My second call was to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Hey guys....more money for research...whhhoooo hoooooo!!! My next call was to Rick, Debbie,Beth and dearest friends...because I knew they would be supportive and give me a highfive.  They are truly the best!!

In the past 24 hours, I have been contacted by a Film Director with Ironworks Productions to schedule my "shoot" (oh my god .. they ARE going to shoot me...and take me out of my misery before the pain starts!!!) They wanted background info, photos, and  asked questions.  They will be filming me in Panama City before the race...and DURING the race. evidence of the pain!!!

Seriously, I am very overwhelmed and humbled by this honor.  Steve and I had talked about entering my story but we never dreamed they would pick me. Rick also thought it was a good idea to submit my story.  We put together the details and sent this email not thinking anything more would come from it.  This is a dream come true not only for me..but for my charity to get a little more money for the cause.

When I told my father, he reminded me of the 11th commandment..which I promised I would adhere to:


So if you watch the Ironman Florida coverage on Versus in December, remember, they may call me a hero...but I just work for the real heroes in this world who are fighting cancer and keeping us safe everyday!!  They really deserve the nameplate.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Final workout with Hector before Ironman

As I arrived at my last workout with my trainer, Hector, I was kinda sad.  This has been a journey and routine that I have followed since last December.  I got into his training studio and he put me on the swim table for 30 minutes.  He played some very relaxing music and it was hard to stay focused on a hard stroke with this soothing music playing in the background. After 30 minutes, he had me lay down on the exercise mat and do some visualization of the race.

We went through each phase...the start, the "washing machine", the second lap of the swim, the run up the beach, transition, onto the bike, special needs, transition 2, the run...and of course..the finish line.

The finish line..the promise land....that glorious place where dreams are realized.  Right now, it seems so difficult to reach.  Its alot closer than last year.  I stood on the beach and watched my friend start his first Ironman and cried.  I was suppose to be in that water starting with him.  It was so hard to watch him go...

Not this year.  This IS my year.  This IS my victory lap.  All the workout deposits to the bank get withdrawn on THIS day.  Please God, let me have saved my pennies well and have enough ability to make it through.

I got some interesting news today that I am too embarrassed to even announce on my blog.  Don't panic.  Im not pregnant.  Im not leaving my husband for Prince William and NO..I didn't win the lottery...but for me...its just as big. When I get the guts..Ill write about it...

Watch this space for more...soon....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Taper is Tough

I now have the cleanest house on the planet....

I have replaced outdoor lighting fixtures, had things repaired around the house, cleaned out dresser drawers and taken things to Goodwill, planted flowers in my backyard, replaced outdoor patio furniture and have washed and waxed my car.

This is what an Ironman Triathlete does with those extra hours she USE to spend training...

Im going nuts...

I never in a million years thought i would say this....I miss my training.  I woke up at 5am wondering why I wasn't getting ready for a long swim workout (my swim was only 1500 yards today...I can do that in my sleep) so I went back to bed and did the workout later in the day.  This is truly a weird feeling.

Meanwhile, I am checking the water temperature at Panama City and I keep checking the weather for updates.  I have been on ohhhh maybe 100 times in the last couple of days.  ANY information...ANY discussion about the race and I am all ears.  My poor husband is so tired of hearing about all this he left early for work ( he had to get a flat tire fixed on his car in St. Louis...but even so....).

Ok...Im ready...bring on the DAMN RACE!!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

And visions of the finish line danced in my head..

....You would think it was Christmas...

Its 1220AM and I can't sleep.  Not so horrible, right? WRONG!  I have to be up at 500am to work at Boot Camp at 600AM.  So much for getting a lot of rest prior to my Ironman.

Every time I close my eyes, I am on the course.  I can tell you every gas station on the bike course.  I can tell you where the crappy road paving is at around mile 80 to 95.  I can see transition in my head and ...DEAR GOD...I don't even want to think about the swim start.  That just makes me shiver inside.

Sleep!! I need sleep!!  But that finish line...thats ALL I think about.  Thats my Christmas gift EARLY!!  

Dear Santa...Ive been a very good triathlete this year....

Saturday, October 18, 2008

FINALLY .. 20 MILES COMPLETED .. And a big "Thank You"

Finally...I got my longest run in of my IM Training.  I am so relieved and happy!! Of the 20 miles, 18 of them were under the required time for Ironman.  My hope is that I will have the energy after 112 mile bike to push through and keep that pace.

Finally...taper sweet taper.  Time to rest, eat well....and rest some more.  My body is tired and I have been looking forward to this portion of the training.  It will be strange taking my training hours down by half but I am ready.

Hmmm....I am ready...Ready for some rest.  Ready for the race.  I'm ready to be an Ironman.

About mile 9 in today's workout, I started to cry.  I started thinking "Oh my God, I think I'm gonna really be able to do this!"  Am I kidding myself??  What keeps you motivated through 140.6 miles when your body hurts and your mind is screaming for rest?  I'm hoping that my friends that are joining me in Panama City will be a huge help.  They always are.  I have the most incredible support team that could ever be assembled for a race.  They get up at the crack of dawn, they cook, they haul ice, they meet me on training rides and runs and have put up with the insanity that is Ironman for almost a year.  So...before my life slips into travel mode for Ironman, I want to thank ALL the people who have helped me in the last year:

Beth Crepeau: my training partner, my "Coach Beth" who trained me to do my first marathon.  Beth was suppose to do this race with me but broke her shoulder during the Virginia Beach Half Marathon.  She is signing up for 2009 and I will be her crew chief at that race.  Thank you for all the great advice and the shoulder to cry on ( no pun intended there) when I was just too tired to train. Without you, I don't believe I would even have made it to this point!

Sandi Fuller: Our "Speed Racer" marathon runner who constantly offered to run with me during my training.  My fear was that she couldn't go slow enough to train with me..  She's also a great hairdresser.  Thanks for making me look Maaaaavaluous when I'm not sweating!!!

Joy Flack: Thank you for making my Ironman 70.3 Florida race one great party and making Beth's first Half Ironman a race to remember.  You are the t shirt queen and I want you to know I appreciate everything you have done at every race.  You're an amazing cheerleader.

Mike and Vi Auld: Some of my oldest friends who actually attended my first triathlon 9 years ago at Danskin.  Mike: if I'm too tired on the run course to acknowledge your advice, I hope you know it is appreciated.  Vi: Thank you for being such an inspiration to me.  Vi ran her first half marathon and full marathon in the same weekend by completing the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World.  She is incredible and I aspire!!

Debbie Lewis: Debbie is the finest bike training coordinator anyone could ever hope for.  On two occasions, she traveled to Panama City Beach and ran drinks and gels to us on the course during our 112 mile bike workouts.  She is a pro at finding free ice at hotels after races and generally gives everyone around her an upbeat feeling.  She is a great cheerleader and if you ever get the chance to meet her, ask her how her "bootilicious booty" is doing that she likes to display on Highway 20 in Panama City Beach :) (Trust me, the story is worth a giggle or two)

Laura Stiles:  The protector.  If you ever wanted someone to fight for your cause, this is the woman you want on your side.  Laura has always watched out for me and spoken up when I have been too afraid to say a word.  Thank you Laura for always having my back!!

Rick Stafford: My ORIGINAL triathlon trainer, my business partner and dearest friend.  Who would have ever thought that the 3 mile runs we use to do around Deltona for the Danskin would lead to an Ironman 9 years later.  Thank you for riding with me, for running with me, for taking my &*^%$ when I'm tired and pissed on a long workout.  Thank you for calming my fears about finishing and thank you for kicking my ass when I needed it!!!

Hector Torres: Ironman Trainer extraordinaire.  Thank you for riding along side me during the Tri America Triathlon and caring enough to lend a hand.  Thank you for constantly believing in my ability to complete an Ironman.  Thank you for holding my hand during the rough parts of training and not taking "no" for an answer when I tried to get out of a workout.  You are a blessing to so many people and an inspiration to me.  Words can not express what your time and talent has meant in my life.

And finally and most importantly: My husband, Steve who has put up with so much in the last year.  He has done so much that it is literally impossible for me to make a list.  After 23 years of marriage, he puts up with my crazy ideas and I adore and love him more today than I ever have before.  Thank you my darling for allowing me to follow my dream.

You will notice that my family isn't on this list.  My brothers and parents really do not understand this sport nor do they care to.  They will not be attending the race (its Georgia Florida football weekend) but I know that they will be proud of me *IF* I finish.  IF I don't, all Ill hear is :I told you so.  Well...I love them but I don't agree with them.  I believe that I will do this race.  I believe I will finish and I believe in the power of my dreams.  

To all my all those that have left me messages on my blog: my warmest and most heartfelt thank you.  You have made my year.  From your words I have gained alot of strength. Hopefully, I will draw on that strength on race day.

Hoping to complete the journey from Obesity to Ironman in 14 more days........

Friday, October 17, 2008

Meet Triathlete


......And now it is very very real....

Holy crap...Ive got a bib number for Ironman Florida.  This is no longer "a couple of months down the road".  This is NOW!! Right here...RIGHT NOW!!  Do I admit to you that this brought tears to my eyes.  Im going to be an Ironman.

Im still struggling on my run workouts but this is nothing new.  The third time should be the charm as I attempt to complete 20 miles.  I was doing well on Thursday when i got an urgent business call that made me stop at 10 miles.  **Heavy Sigh**  So Saturday is the day....REALLY THIS TIME.  Saturday is the day!!

NUMBER 2443!  Thats me!!  Look for me as we now have 14 days until Ironman!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Remember...its suppose to be fun...

Triathletes are very serious!! "A" type personalities driven to achieve a goal.  That doesn't make them bad...that just makes them...well..driven.

I have spent the last few weeks wringing my hands...worrying about cut off times, nutrition, bike parts, MY parts, what to wear, if Ill get kicked in the swim, if Ill make it at all....

...and then...I got this email .. from a Beginner member...

"I know that you're likely going to be flirting with some of the cutoffs on race day so one of the important things to set out now is to prepare your mind.  Remember what it was about the Ironman that made you want to do it.  Don't think about how you feel now, think about how you felt when you signed up.  Think about how you felt when you first got the idea to dip your toe into the Ironman pool.  Even go back to how you felt when you were finishing your first triathlon.  See the imagery? Remember that excitement? Remember the nervousness you felt the first time you stood on a beach before a race.  Those are the feelings that you want to stow away and bring out on race day.  Those are the mental pictures that will get you through 140.6 miles. They say "Never expose yourself to the race too early"  "Don't let your emotions overpower you before the race."  Emotions require energy and you'll need every ounce of energy you can muster on race day.

Melissa: Relax. Breathe. Be calm.  You've only got a few more weeks to go..and Ill see you in PCB.

WOW!!  Someone took the time to write that to me.  They took the time to calm my fears and remind me this is suppose to be FUN!! Remember?? Its a hobby.  Its not life or death.  They aren't going to take my house if I don't finish.  


As for my other update: I only made it 12 miles in my run.  All under cut off time (which makes me happy) but I will be attempting another 20 mile run on Thursday.  For now, my hubby is home from work (he is an airline pilot) so I am going to enjoy some much needed time with him until he leaves on Wednesday night!!

In with the good air...out with the nervous air!!!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

20 mile run with 20 days left to go...

20 days.  That's it! 480 hours until Ironman.  Sunday, I will be doing my final LONG workout prior to the race.  A 20 mile run with my friend Beth.  Can you believe this amazing person is going to help me do this run.  She was suppose to do Ironman but fell during the 1/2 marathon in Virginia Beach and sustained and hairline fracture in her shoulder.  NO Ironman this year..but she plans to do it in 2009.

Running is my nemesis! This run on Sunday has me scared.  I hope I can survive it.  We are suppose to be in the 90's tomorrow so we will be starting a little before sunrise!! 

Ill give you the update when I return!!

Putting your feet on the floor is the hardest part of the workout

435am...and the alarm is ringing......UGH! My poor alarm clock.  After a year of Ironman training, it has almost been beaten into submission.  This morning it went off with a new "tone" sounded garbled and tired...kinda like me.

I get up early so I can "enjoy" my morning routine of coffee and oatmeal but it has to be the hardest part of my workout day.  Just getting up and getting moving when your body is screaming for sleep is a challenge.  When I have a difficult time getting motivated, this is when I think of all those people who wish they were in my position.

I think of the men and women 10 years ago who embarked on a clinical trial for the gastric bypass and lost their lives on the operating table.  By God's grace, I survived.  I think about my Godson who told me it was hard having Cancer...but he was going to beat "Vader" (thats what he called Leukemia). And I think of myself when walking around the mall felt like a marathon.  I am so very blessed to be up at this unholy hour of the morning and getting prepared for a day in the saddle.

Time to hit the road...and go log some miles :)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A special run for a special little guy..

On Saturday morning, October 11th at 730am, several hundred runners, walkers, joggers and stumblers like myself will run in Lake Louisa State Park in the "Christian Stafford Feel the Force 5k" to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training and in memory of Christian Richard Stafford.  Christian was a very special little boy in so many ways and he continues to touch my heart and my life every day.

Christian was my Godson who was diagnoised with Leukemia at age 6.  At first, things looked pretty good for my favorite little Jedi who loved Star Wars with a passion.  He got his first round of chemo and immediately went into remission.  The good news, however, turned bad when he bounced out of remission and required a marrow transplant.  The transplant failed and on March 6th, 2005, we lost Christian to this cowardly disease.  

Prior to his death, Christian entered a clinical trial for a drug that is now helping children throughout the world stay in remission.  If it had not been for his bravery, many families could have suffered the same fate the Stafford family endured on that March day.  He was a fighter and I gained alot of knowledge and strength from his experience.  This little guy taught me how to be tough in the face of pain and adversity.  He taught me to see the positive side of a bad situation and showed me grace in the darkest hour.  My hope is that I can use some of the things that Christian taught me as I go through my Ironman experience.

If you are in the Central Florida area, we would love to have you join us.  Use the link below to become part of the "force" that will do good for those battling Leukemia!!

May the force be with you....always :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Facing the Numbers..and some serious fears...

I made a promise to myself when I started this blog a year ago that I would express my true feelings about my training and about my emotions as I entered this endurance event.  Right now, I won't lie: Im scared and worried.

For those that are reading this blog and can run a 10-12 hour Ironman, you will probably giggle at the numbers I set forth below but I hope you understand from where I came.  In May 2000, I ran my first Danskin triathlon at Walt Disney World.  That year, the race was less than a 1/4 mile swim, a 10 mile bike and a 2 mile run.  I finished the race (and not in dead last) in 2 hours and 20 minutes.  The first time someone timed my mile, I was walking and it took 21 minutes.  My fastest bike use to be in the 12 mile an hour range.  It is from this world that a unique Ironman athlete has emerged.  

I spend a bit of time at the computer with the triathlon calculator trying to figure out if I can really beat the 17 hour cut off.  I have told my friends who are going to be supporting me at Panama City that this isn't ONE Race...for me..its THREE RACES.  Each goal is such a huge step forward for me.

A year ago, I was at Ironman Florida supporting my business partner and dear friend, Rick Stafford.  We arrived early and we took advantage of the open water swims each morning.  The first two times, I was too scared to do the whole loop.  From the balcony of my condo, it looked like the course was halfway out to the shipping lanes (which it sorta IS) and it was overwhelming to me.  On Friday before the race, I got up the courage and got my swim skin on and did one lap.  It took me an hour an 10 minutes...that would BARELY make the cutoff time.  Fast forward 1 year and I now do that loop in around 55 minutes. I think Michael Phelps' gold medals are safe but if I can make it out of the swim in 2 hours, I will be very pleased.

Last year, I made my first attempt at completing the bike course.  I made it to mile 50 and began throwing up and couldn't stop.  My day was definitely done early.  This year,  I completed the full bike course in 7.5 hours.  Again...not setting any land/speed record but that would get me into transition under the cut off.  If I can get into transition in 8 hours, I will be very happy and another "race" completed.

Which leaves my weakest link: the marathon.  I have only run two marathons in my life.  One took me over 8 hours and the other took me 7 hours and 48 minutes.  With an 8 hour bike, this leaves just 7 hours to transition and complete the marathon.  This is where my fear lies.  My running is horrible but if I can give myself enough time to do an 8 hour marathon...I know I will be fine.  A 7 hour marathon I have not attempted...but its interesting what you can do when you are under the gun.  I have run ONE race in my life with negative splits.  It was Ironman Florida 70.3 where I almost missed the run cutoff for the last loop.  By running the negative split, I made it through the loop entrance with 45 seconds to spar and became one of the final official finishers.  If I can continue that mentality, I may run my 7 hour marathon.

As the big day approaches, nothing but math runs around in my head. As I did my 90 minute bike and 45 minute run this morning, I kept checking my GPS to make sure I was running faster than I needed to.  

The ticking of the clock is my enemy....I plan to beat the crap outta that enemy on November 1.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

These guys are not my friends...How to race with an allergic reaction..

This weekend was NOT what I had hope for prior to Ironman.

I had to DNF my first triathlon in my 8 year career of racing.  There have been alot of races where I finished DFL...or close...and I pushed as hard as I could before my body more.

I got up at 4am...had my coffee and oatmeal and followed my routine as I normally do prior to any race.  I was out the door at 5am and was at the race site by 520am.  Since I was in a new town that I didn't know well, I thought it best to leave early.

Got body marked, set my gear and talked to alot of triathlete and looked at alot of bikes.  I have found that if you walk through transition and look at people's setups, you can learn alot.  I asked about wheels, bottles, and other interesting things in people's transition areas.  I grabbed my wetsuit and have my friend Kathleen from the Central Florida Tri Club help me put it on.  In 8 years of triathlon, I have never done a wetsuit swim.  Today was going to be my day to test my new wetsuit in a race.

We found a mere 20 people in our wave with Kathleen and I being the only Athenas in the entire race.  We were excited.  If we finish, were going home with hardware.  Little did I know what was to come.

The gun went off and we ran into the water watching our step as we made it over the sandbars.  The water was a perfect temperature, calm and beautiful.  The sun was coming up and the buoys were easy to spot.  Going to be a great swim.

At the second buoy, it felt like a bee had nailed me under the arm.  Then again.  Then it felt like it was inside my wetsuit on my chest.  I came upright in the water and took a deep breath.  Let me tell ya, the ones on your arm can hurt, but a sting to the chest will get your undivided attention.  I couldn't breathe.  I know this was just my reaction to the situation but I made the decision then and there to remove my wetsuit.  A lifeguard saw me struggle and brought his kayak over to me.  I asked him to take my wetsuit.  He looked a little shocked that this woman was disrobing 1/2 mile from shore but I knew that I would feel better if I could just get the suit off my body.  I finished the swim 10 minutes slower than my normal 1.2 mile swim and hit the beach.

Being a diver, I KNOW for a fact that I am highly allergic to jellyfish.  I evaluated my condition after exiting the water.  The stings were painful but I felt ok overall.  Maybe I would be lucky this time.  I went to transition and I was the last one out.  This isn't the first time I have been the last on the road.  I got myself together and hit the road.

I started to feel bad as I made my way up the Amelia Island Causeway.  I felt a little dizzy, my head hurt a bit but I pushed forward.  It wasn't until Mile 40 that I started to feel the rash travel across my chest and I got itchy.  At mile 45, my stomach got upset and I had some serious shortness of breath.  This was a beautifully organized race but there were no medical tents on the bike course.  I decided to head into transition and hit the medical tent there.

I was assessed by the staff at the medical tent.  I took Benedryl and they applied vinegar to my stings.  I even slept for a bit  in the tent as the Benedryl took effect and made me drowsy but got myself together enough to grab my gear and head back to the hotel.  The nurses were so nice and professional.  They even helped me carry my stuff to the car.

Returning to the hotel, I slept for 3 hours.  The itching stopped about 7pm and my shortness of breath stopped about midnight.

I am very sad that I had to abandon this race.  The feelings of failure flooded me as I sat looking at the beach from my hotel balcony.  Saturday was to be a night to celebrate.  Instead, I felt like such a loser.

This morning, I got up and drove home.  All my friends called to check on me, which was very sweet.  Even the race director called to make sure I was ok.  As I was driving, I heard a song by Rascal Flatts that seem so appropriate.  I love the words:

'Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you're made of
You might bend, til you break
'Cause its all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you've had enough
You get mad
You get strong
Wipe your hands, shake it off
Then you stand...

Everytime you get up
And get back in the race
One more small piece of you
Starts to fall into place.....

I will live to fight another day.  My hope is that ALL the pieces fall into place for Ironman Florida.  One more long weekend of training and then its time to taper and rest.  Im having my pity party this afternoon but I am ready to shake it off and STAND UP TO BE AN IRONMAN!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

30 days left...The countdown begins

1 month from today and counting!!! After more than a year of working out and working towards this goal, I can not believe we are in the final stretch.  30 days! Alot can happen in 30 days but I am so excited and scared, I wish it were tomorrow!!  Approximately 743 hours.  Today, I am working at Disney but my mind will be on this race.  I still have to figure out what I will wear during the event.

My weekend challenge

After a discussion with Hector, we decided to throw in a Half Ironman race this weekend.  Doesn't that sound crazy.?  Lets do this Half Ironman as a workout and a warm up for Ironman Florida.  The course is flat (thank god) and the weather report shows light winds and sunshine for race day so I am hoping that I can get through this with much success!! Ill keep you posted!