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Gonna Give it a Try

This morning, I decided. I have been going back and forth all week, so I haven't posted since I had no idea what I'd be doing tomorrow. I still haven't completely eradicated my cold. I went for a run on Monday, and when I couldn't even make it 3 miles without coughing out both of my lungs, I decided to decide on Thurs. Thursday came and went, and I still hadn't decided. When I woke up this morning, I decided that I wouldn't do it. I went down to the expo just in case and decided that I'm gonna give it a go. It likely won't be pretty.

I don't even know if I will finish, but I've never skipped a start line. I just can't bring myself to miss this one. I am feeling a little better. The antibiotics have started to kick in. I'm not going for time, and for the first time since my first marathon, I just want to finish. I know that if I can pull this off, it will be a blast. It is their anniversary celebration, and there will be tons of excitement to keep me occupied for 4+ hours.

I'll give you a report, good or bad, but for now, number 1855 will be towing the line at 8 am!
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Pity Party

So I just finished up with my first weekend day of work. Just a little after 12:30 doesn't seem like a long day on the surface, until you realize that I had to get here at 4 AM. Have I mentioned that I'm not a morning person? For the next 9 months, I will work 12 days on, 2 days off, and for the next 3 months, my hours will be 4 AM until whenever I get all of my work done. Yesterday I looked down at the 2 pagers I have to carry on weekends. Wow. I must be REALLY important, I thought. I felt pretty cool. It lasted about 2 seconds. When I went for my swim last night, I realized halfway through that I had left my pagers at home. I panicked for the rest of the swim and hoped that there weren't any emergencies. Then I realized that the 10 mile run I was hoping to do tomorrow won't be possible as I have to be near a phone the whole time, and I REFUSE to be on a treadmill for the 90+ minutes. Maybe just 7 or 8 on Monday?

I just finished my 3rd box of Kleenex in one week. That nasty cold just won't let up. I'm starting to look like Rudolph, and it's not even December yet. My cough is thick and juicy, and as far as I know, steaks are the only thing that are supposed to have that description. I wouldn't be so annoyed if I didn't have a Marathon to run in 8 short days. Mental note: must clear up lungs by next Sunday... Arrg!

Ahhhh, deep breath. OK. Sorry. I think that's all out of my system. Now, for a 3 hour nap.
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IM Moo Recap, Part 5 - The Future

So... Here it goes. After today, I will be officially signed up for IM Moo again next year. You may have noticed that I was a little reluctant to come right out and say it. I'll tell you the reason. I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I had told Steve that the two of us could do this together. One more thing to do before we finally settle down (for the record, I don't know if we'll ever fully settle down). Well, the night of IM, Steve had to go back so he could teach his morning class. The plan was that I would sign up on-site the next morning, and he would sign up online. Well, he had some computer problems, and in 45 minutes, the race was sold out. My heart sank when he called my cell on my drive back to tell me he didn't make it in. I felt so guilty. Since I had signed up with the intention of us doing it together, I thought about backing out. I didn't think it would be fair for me to get to do it again with him sitting on the sidelines. Good news! He officially got into the community fund yesterday. Let the journey begin. We will be at the start line together next year:)

Two weeks. The Twin Cities Marathon is in two weeks. I have run 5 miles since the Ironman. I'm not really worried. I ran a full marathon just over a week ago. The plan is to get in some cross training and maybe a decent bike ride this Sunday now that my buns are healing. I'm not out to PR this year. I just signed up to give me something to look forward to and to be part of their 25th anniversary.

On the immediate agenda - get rid of this nasty cold!!! They say that after a big event like a marathon (or Ironman), wedding, finals, etc, you are more likely to get sick. I guess I'm their poster child right now. I started to get a sore throat Sunday. I went to work yesterday but blew my nose the whole time despite some pretty strong cold medications. I came home last night and realized that I was running a fever of 101. This is normally pretty high, but considering my body temp is normally lower than the average, this is "I shouldn't have gone to work today" high. I called in today. My fever is coming down, and my body aches are subsiding, but I still don't feel up to par, and I don't need to be spreading this nastiness to my coworkers. I'm such a wimp when it comes to being sick. It's pretty pathetic. I'm just so used to being healthy. Being knocked down every once in a while is probably good for me. It helps me to appreciate my health instead of taking it for granted.
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IM Moo Recap, Part 4 - The Aftermath

When I got back to my hotel room Sunday night, I couldn't wait to hop in the jacuzzi tub. Sorry folks, I wasn't going for an ice bath. My body already felt like it had soaked in an ice bath for the entire day. I was chilly, and a hot bath was the only way I was going to get rid of it. I know, I know. It's only going to encourage inflammation if you soak in a hot tub, but I went from teeth chattering to cozy warm in about 5 minutes. Did I mention that I loved that room? When I went to peel off my soaked clothes, I was surprised to see my feet. You see, folks, I am normally quite proud of my feet. I rarely get blisters, I haven't lost a toenail in 7 marathons, and for how much abuse I give them, they still look relatively presentable. Tonight, though, they looked like death. They were soaked at the end of the bike. I put fresh dry shoes and socks on at the start of the run and had managed to keep them dry for most of it, but after it got dark, I couldn't see the puddles and stepped in a couple of big ones. My feet were squishy and soaked by the end of the run. When I went to peel off my shoes and socks, this is what I found. (Wil, if you're reading this, look away.)

My feet looked like death. Shriveled doesn't even begin to describe them. Remember that blister I thought I had? Yeah, you can see that mother on my baby toe. It had popped a long time ago.

I finished my bath, put on some warm pajamas, and Steph and Steve helped me into bed. I kissed them both goodbye, and they drove home (Steve had to teach an 8:30 class, and Steph had to work).

The next morning, I could barely make my way across the king-sized bed to shut off the alarm clock. My whole body felt like one painful arthritic joint. I managed to pack up my stuff and bend down just far enough to get everything off of the floor. My friends Maddy and Jess met me at the hotel, and we walked back to the Terrace one last time. We picked up the race results, walked around for a bit, and headed home. I may have signed up for next year's race. I'll talk about that later. Jess has an amazing back seat. I snuggled up with my pillow and a blanket and slept the entire 4 hours home.

I was stiff all day Monday, but by Tuesday, I was walking just fine. I even made it up and down steps with relative ease. I started to feel as if I really hadn't worked hard enough. I actually hurt for longer after my half IM.

One pain stayed with me all week, though. It was the pain in my ass. Seriously. I have biked 100 miles several times before. I have biked in the rain before. Unfortunately, I had never biked 100+ miles entirely in the rain before. I have never had to use body glide or Chamois Butter with my bike shorts, but apparently I should have on Sunday. I debated on whether I should even tell you about this, much less show you a picture, but since Steve posted a back pic of me heading up the helix in my swim suit at the race, there's really nothing you haven't seen already. So, here it goes...

Yes, these are large oozing scabs. I didn't feel them too much on the run, but I sure felt them in the bath tub that night. I am still feeling them. They only hurt when I sit, stand, or walk. Today, a full week later, I am able to sit down without extreme pain. I had to wear Steve's boxers for a full 4 days before finally being able to wear my own underwear again. Sorry. I know that this is beyond TMI, but it's part of my experience, and I will sure learn from it.
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IM Moo Recap, Part 3 - An Addendum

Hooray! My home internet is again working! I finished my post in a hurry Friday (um, it still took over 2 hours), and when I got home, I realized that there were some pretty key parts that I failed to mention.

I had a smile on may face nearly the whole day. It kind of reminded me of my wedding day. I was smiling the whole time, not just when there was a camera pointed at me. The cameras I didn't see still managed to catch a smile. This was mostly due to all of the energy on the course, my cheering section, and all of the other bloggers that I knew were out there with me.

Steve and I the morning of the race. He was out in the rain the whole day to cheer me on.

Steph, Matt, and me before the race. Steph was there the whole day, too, and Matt was there for as long as he could be.

My friends Jess and Maddy were great! They seemed to be at every corner, and they had enthusiasm all day. Even when I wasn't around, they were cheering for all of the other athletes out on the course. They walked to the expo with me Monday, and they drove me home later that day. Um, yeah. I slept the ENTIRE 4 hours home. They carried my bags into my house, and they were off. More angels.

Stu! He was great. I needed him so much at the top of that hill, and he was there with the enthusiasm of a 6 year old at a birthday party. I can't wait to see him cross the finish line again next year.

OMG! Robby B - you and Kris were definitely my other angels of the day! I can't even count how many times I saw you throughout the day: before the start of the swim, at the end of the swim, at the top of the hills on the bike, on the run, and then at the finish. You were there the whole day. I feel so bad that I didn't give you a hug at the finish. You certainly deserved one! I somehow managed to black out most of the finish line. It's the one thing I would have changed about the day. I would have savored the finish more.

All of the other bloggers, Chris, Xt4, TriTeacher, TriSara Tops, Wil, and Tri Al. The one good thing about being a turtle is that you know that most everybody is in front of you. I got a glimpse of Xt4 on the run but didn't get to shout at him. I saw Al, too. He looked great, and those thighs are just as impressive in person. Wil, wow. I don't know what to say girl. I was thinking about you the whole time out there. You are such a strong person. Your strength is more visible than ever right now as you prepare for next year. Sara, I didn't get to see you the whole day, but your smiling face at the end was priceless. Chris. You are a rockstar man. Here's to another PR next year!
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IM Moo Recap, Part 2

OK folks, sorry to keep you waiting. My initial plan was to talk about the pre-race stuff then every day give you an update on at least one component of the race. My plan has already failed. I have been getting up at 4:30 AM for my current rotation, and it's really leaving me exhausted. As I've told you before, I'm not a morning person. Also, my internet at home seems to have crapped out, so I am seriously behind on everyone's posts. Sorry everybody! I'll try to catch up soon. For now, I have put on my finisher shirt and have decided to lock myself in my local coffee shop (free wireless!) until it closes. I'll see how far I get.

So... Where was I? Oh yeah. The alarm clock went off. I hopped out of bed and brought my clothes into the bathroom to change. I wanted to let Steve, Steph, and Matt sleep a few more minutes if possible. I then heated up some water using the room's coffee pot and made my traditional apple cinnamon oatmeal, two packets. I eat it before every race, no matter how big or small. Soon the rest of the room was up too, and we were on our way. On the five block walk, I reiterated how glad I was that we weren't driving. It stressed me out just looking at all of the cars trying to figure out where to go! First, we headed to the body marking area. It wasn't too long before I was covered with the number 2126.

Next I dropped my special needs bags, and we headed into the terrace. I went back into the T1 area and put 2 extra shirts into my bag. I had no idea how much I would need those later. Then the 4 of us just hid in a corner and talked and rested. I shimmied into my wetsuit (I'm getting pretty good at it!), and after a few minutes, we left the Terrace. I kissed everybody goodbye and started walking down the helix with the masses. It was then that I noticed that it was sprinkling. Heh, I thought. Well, it will just sprinkle for the swim, and the rest of the day will be dry and overcast. After all, the recent weather predictions have said cloudy with a 30% chance of rain, and this morning, the forecast predicted no rain.

It took about a full 15 minutes to actually get into the water. I wasn't in yet when they sang the National Anthem. There were lots more people behind me, though, so I wasn't really worried. I just kept pushing on, and soon I was swimming out to the pack. My plan was to start toward the back. I knew I would be getting lapped before I was even out of the water. I remember the guy on the loudspeaker shouting over the loudspeaker, "Who's going to be an Ironman today?" We all roared. Then, the cannon. It was started. I learned from my half IM that I needed to stay really calm here and not lose it. I’ve been practicing calm, smooth strokes, and it worked. There were no moments of panic. I worked my way in toward the buoys. I had to slow up a couple of times because if mini traffic jams, but for the most part, we kept moving. I think the whole mass of us was one big draft, because when we rounded the first big buoy, I was 5 minutes ahead of schedule.

There was the usual washing machine, and this was one of the worst ones I’ve ever been in. I tried to keep my cool, and I mostly succeeded. I managed to avoid most major catastrophes. I did get kicked in the jaw and shoulder once and in the nose another time. Those were the worst ones. It also really hurt when someone stabbed me between the toes with a fingernail. I just kept reminding myself that I was doing it to others too and that none of it was malicious. My friend TriSara Tops, though was actually shoved. That one was not an accident. I guess the “record number of participants” and the crazy waves just got to some people out there. That brings me to the waves. Wow, am I glad I did that half IM in July. These waves were just like those. They were huge swells. I actually swallowed less water this time around, though, and the buoys were easier to sight. My goal to get out of the water was 1:50. I came out in 1:55:34. I was only worried a couple of times that I wouldn’t make it out in 2:20. Turns out I was fine.

Good thing I had watched the video at Stu’s or I would have had no idea what I was supposed to do next. I started to peel off my wetsuit, and the strippers shouted that I should head down to the end of the line. I laid on my back, held on my bikini bottom, and a very nice lady had my wetsuit off in 1 second flat. I started to jog up to the helix and heard my brother Matt shouting my name. I looked up to see Steph and Steve, too. They cheered me all the way into T1, and Steve called Maddy and Jess, who met me at the top.

When I got into the Terrace, the volunteers shouted 2126, and in no time I had my bag of warm, dry gear. Another very nice lady helped me get all of my stuff on. Since it was still raining when I got into the building, I decided to put my black cotton shirt on underneath my jersey. I put the IM Arizona shirt I’d bought the day before on as my top layer. The plan was to shed it after a few miles, famous last words. I couldn’t help but think how much technical apparel I had sitting at home in my drawer, and here I was wearing two cotton shirts with my bike jersey. Oh well. I refused to let it get to me. In 9:37, I was out of T1. RobbyB had told us that it was a long way between the changing area and the bike pickup and that it would be prudent not to put on our shoes until we actually got to our bike, so that’s what I did. My feet got a little wet, but at least I didn’t slip. 2126! Someone shouted. The bike volunteers kept shouting 2126! until I reached Louise. She looked ready. I strapped my shoes, and the two of us ran side by side to the mounting area. We were off in no time. It was still drizzling. I looked down on my bike to see a note in my Bento Box. It was from TriAl. He had written little notes of good luck to all of us bloggers. What a guy!

I watched out for the bottle launchers that Stu, Robby B, and Thomps warned us about at WIBA. Mine stayed in just fine, but the guy ahead of me was having a heck of a time trying to keep his in place. I kept with my plan and stayed in my small chain ring all the way out to Verona. I knew that I could be pushing harder, but I refused to let myself. There was plenty of room for that later. The wind was on my back, and I felt great. People kept telling me that I looked great all through the first loop, and I believed them. I felt great. Two potty breaks. I guess I was keeping myself plenty hydrated.

That Arizona shirt? I didn’t take it off until about mile 38. I knew that Jess and Maddy would be on the course at about mile 40, and I wanted to see if I would be able to go without it. It was soaked at that point anyway. Sure enough, Maddy and Jess were there at 42 to cheer me on. They are such amazing cheerers! I didn’t want to get in trouble for accepting “outside help,” so I told them that if I just happened to throw down my shirt, and they just happened to pick it up, we shouldn’t get in any trouble:) At mile 55 or so, lots of people were already heading back to finish. I had been passed by the pros long before that point, and it just made me realize how very far I had to go.

I hit my demons at mile 80. My legs were getting a little tired. The weather was miserable. I still had 32 bike miles plus a marathon to go. I got a little choked up at that point; I was feeling very, very sorry for myself. That’s when I started to pray. I mentioned on my last post that I now think Ironman has changed me. For me, it seems to have been a spiritual journey of sorts. I’ve always gone to church, but lately, I’ve been searching for more. I started to pray out loud. I prayed for God to give me strength. I asked Him to give me comfort, and asked Him to help me get to that finish line. I then started talking to my Grandma Aggie. I never told you this, but I have always thought that I would do this race for her. She died of a heart attack 5 years ago. She was only 64 years old. She was my hero in every sense of the word. My bike jersey was to honor her. It was red (the red dress campaign is to raise awareness for women’s heart disease), and it had a big white flower on the front, one of her passions. I told her that I knew she was with me and asked her to give me comfort and to stay with me. Call it what you will, but in about 2 seconds, I was filled with strength, and I knew I could do it.

Maddy and Jess were there again about mile 84, and they later told me that I didn’t look quite as good as the first time around. After the first loop, I was 30 minutes ahead of the cutoff, and I knew that I would need that time in case I had a bike malfunction. The second loop was much slower. I still made it up the nasty hills OK, but I didn’t feel nearly as good, and I knew I was losing time. Also, I knew I was in for a 20 mph headwind on the 15 miles back to Madison. Six or 7 miles from town, I saw a familiar biker. I had given this guy 1 of my 2 spare tubes about 15 miles back. He was on his 5th flat at that point. I had told him that hopefully Karma would come back to me. Now he was on his sixth flat, and he told me that he was just going to ride it in. There was one slow nasty hill left, and when I finally got to the top of it, Stu was there. What energy that guy has! I needed him then, and he really pulled through. My fingers were numb. I was having trouble shifting, and I knew that if I got a flat, there was no way I would be able to change it. Luckily, that Karma did come back to me. I stayed flat-free, and when I saw Stu again about 2 miles from the bike finish, I shouted, “Stu, I’m gonna make it!” I just hoped that Wil and TriSara Tops were going to make it too. I had passed Wil at Special needs, and I had seen a bike that kind of looked like Sara’s with a flat a couple of miles back (I later found out that it wasn’t her). I got back to the Terrace, and I immediately saw Steph’s red fleece. I waved. The guy at the top of the helix said that he was surprised that I was still smiling. I told him that the bike was finally over, 8:07:39.

T2: I was so cold and shaking, and there were half-naked people all over trying to warm up. All I could think about at the end of the bike was how I was going to be able to button up the last resort bra and where I was going to find a garbage bag. The clothes I packed in my T2 bag weren’t going to cut it. It was still raining. Again, my prayers were answered. I peeled off all of my wet clothes. Man did that feel good! My fears were confirmed. I had no dexterity left in my fingers. The LRB is great for preventing bra burn, but its 11 front hooks were impossible for my fingercicles. Can you believe that the volunteer lady did it for me?!? Now that’s what I call above and beyond the call of duty. Just as I was finishing putting on my gloriously dry clothes, another volunteer came in with garbage bags. She told us that there were lots of people being treated for hypothermia and that we needed to take one and wear it for a few miles to warm up. Miracle number 3 of the day. I took 2 glasses of warm water, chugged them, and ran out the door. I was out of T2 in 10:17.

It was a little hard to start the run right next to the finish chute seeing people running in and knowing that I had an entire marathon to run yet. The bag was working. It didn’t take me long to warm up, and I started on a Cliff Bar. It wasn’t very appetizing, but I knew that I needed more fuel. I got into a very slow steady rhythm and started talking with some of the other runners. Now, I know that some of you out there don’t appreciate the talkers, but I wasn’t out to win the thing, and I was done being lonely. I hooked up with a couple of runners for a mile here and there, but we went our separate ways when they stopped to walk. I stopped for my 3rd (7th if you count the water, sorry guys) potty break of the day at around mile 5. At mile 6, I felt great. Around mile 9, I found Lisa. She was my 4th miracle of the day. We ran the last 17 miles together. We weren’t fast, but we only walked during water stops and up 2 hills. I can’t even tell you how many people we passed. The numbers from the race report indicate that it was over 300. We had never met before, but we were running the same pace. This was here first IM too, but her husband had already done 2. We talked off and on. Sometimes it was about life; sometimes it was just small talk. Mostly, though, we just ran; silently supporting each other. I could have run this thing by myself. Mentally, I was tough enough to do it, and my early AM training runs taught me to run even though my body felt like crap. It was nice not to have to, though. Running with Lisa kept me from feeling sorry for myself and kept me from thinking about the fact that my right little toe had transformed into one gigantic blister.

The nutrition was a little hard to choke down. I consumed 3 Cliff Bars on the run, and the last one didn’t go down easy. It was only mile 16, though, and I knew that I would still need a lot of calories to get through the last 10.2 miles. I took cola here and there, and the broth was amazing. Somehow, the giant conglomeration of weird food settled my stomach, and slowly the nausea went away. At mile 22, we passed a girl that had collapsed, and they were bringing in the ambulance. I hope she was OK. I knew that even though I only had 4 more miles to go, this race was far from over. I remember writing that I wouldn’t KNOW that I would be Ironman until I was 50 feet from the finish line. This was mostly true. It was actually about 2 blocks.

I really don’t have much to say about the run. It went by really fast, and it was the first time all day that I never worried about cutoffs. I felt strong for most of it. Two blocks from the finish, a guy next to us started to pick it up. Lisa commented that she didn’t have that much left. When I told her that I did, she instructed me to go for it. I replied that I just didn’t feel right about finishing without her, but she encouraged me to go, so I did.

I picked it up and felt like a million bucks when I crossed the finish line. I remember raising my hands up when I hit the tape, but the rest was a blur. Total run time: 5:30:13. Total finish time: 15:53:18. Lisa was right behind me. I gave her a hug, thanked her one more time, and never saw her again. A catcher grabbed on to me, but I didn’t need her. I felt the strongest I had all day. I was made of iron.
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IM MOO Recap, Part 1

Wow. Where do I start telling this story? My head is still spinning from this weekend, and I've been really anxious to start getting all of it down. Please bear with me. I think it's going to take several days. Today, I think I'll just talk about the moments leading up to Sunday.

Steve and I finished packing late Thursday evening. I still had to work Thurs, but my brain seemed to be focused on much different things than dialysis patients. It was probably one of the most nonproductive days I have ever put in as a pharmacist. We woke up early Friday morning. Steve packed up the car, and I made sure that everything was ready for us to leave (our usual responsibilities). We were out the door by about 8:15 and four hours later, we were there. I got to sleep for a couple of hours on the way out, and then I repaid the favor by taking the wheel for the rest of the way. We headed straight for the Terrace. I had read Xt4's blog the night before, and as usual, it was very helpful. We found a parking meter that was close and headed in the general direction of Ironman Central. An hour and a half later, I had my numbers, my instructions, and excitement brewing in my stomach. I hadn't really thought much about Ironman earlier that week. I think it's a coping mechanism I've developed. I just push it out of my mind and choose to ignore it. Sometimes I ignore it until the morning before the race. Friday, I let myself believe that it was getting close. Steve made the mistake of telling me early while we were standing in line that he had been thinking for the last month or so that he might like to sign up for this next year. Well, anyone who knows me knows that it takes very little to get me excited about others doing triathlons or any race or athletic event for that matter. I instantly started planning how we could do it together next year and encouraged him that he could do it. As crazy as it sounds, the last couple of weeks during taper, the thoughts of doing IM again soon had started to creep into my mind. There were so many things that I would do differently "next time." More on this later.

The only downside of the exhibit: I had my body fat tested at a free stand. The last time I had it tested, it was 16.1%. That was 4 years ago. Let's just say that it isn't that anymore. I was a little disheartened for a couple of seconds knowing this is the most I've ever worked out in my life, and somehow, I've actually put on a little chub. Wait. Step back. Reassess. It is normal for you body to change composition at this time in your life. You have not lifted weights in months. Last time was underwater weighing, and that is the most exact method. You are ready to do this race. I pushed all negative thoughts out of my head. There is no need for them now. There was never a need for them.

We checked into our hotel and headed out to Stu's. He had made a feast for us perfect for embarking on the journey that we were about to undertake. He has a beautiful house and an even more beautiful family. It was great to see some of the WIBA bloggers again and meet some new ones too. Thomps, Stu, Wil, Siren, TriSara Tops, Xt4, Robby B, Chris from Chivalry, and a few others were there. We laughed, talked, ate, and watched last year's IM Moo on TV. We stopped to take a photo before xt4 and I headed to the athlete's meeting.

On our way into town, x and I had a great talk. It's funny how we had just met face to face for the first time, but I feel like I've known him for years. We talked about life and about Ironman. I told him that I was a little concerned, that I didn't feel like IM training had changed me that much. He and Wil seem to have experienced life-changing transformations through their training. I told him that I didn't know if it was good because I had found myself beforehand or if it was bad because I was somehow missing something from this whole experience. I think now, though, that it did change me. I'll explain later.

Saturday, Steve and I checked into our "close" hotel room. It was a little more expensive per night, but it was walking distance to the course, and on race morning, I hate dealing with traffic. It's the number one stressor for me. I don't like trying to find parking. I don't like worrying about time. I don't like dealing with stop lights. You get the picture. Well, as it turned out, the Hotel Ruby Marie was perfect. It had a glorious king-sized bed with amazing blankets. It didn't take me long to fall in love with it.

Soon the rest of the gang arrived. My AWESOME friends Jess and Maddy brought my sister Steph along. We went to church and then headed out for supper. Now I normally drink a lot of water when I'm out to eat, but the night before IM, I was on a mission. The waiter quickly realized that I'd be a "chronic refiller" and adapted to the situation.

The food was amazing, and once we were stuffed, we headed our separate ways for the night. Steve and I walked down to shore and looked at the swim course one more time. We strolled beside the water hand in hand for a while thinking and talking about the next day's race. It was a moment forever etched into my memory. Back at the hotel, Steph crashed on our floor, and an hour or so later, my brother Matt rolled into town.

I slept like a rock that night, and when the alarm went off the next morning, I was ready.
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Today, I woke up an Ironman. I finished last night in 15:53:18.
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For Those of You Wondering...

My race number will be 2126 on Sunday. You can get updates at by punching my number in. Hopefully some stellar times will be popping up on your screen when you do.
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Support Crew

Ironman is not a task you take on alone. Although it can sometimes seem very lonely out there on long swims/bike rides/runs, I couldn't be here right now if it weren't for a whole lot of people.

I first have to mention Steve. I can't even believe how supportive he's been through all of this training. Heck, he even came on a 100 mile ride with me on hills! I think he tells more people than I do that I'll be on the Ironman course Sept. 10. The best part is, I can tell how proud he is when he tells them.

I next have to thank my families. Steve and I haven't made as many trips home this summer as usual, and I know that it has been a little hard for both of our parents (especially the moms). My weekends have just been too full to fit in the weekend jaunts. My sister Steph has had to put up with my constant IM banter for the past few months, and now that she's living with us, that has been amplified ten times over. She and my brother Matt are probably coming out this weekend, and I can't even tell you how much that means to me. My sister Anne has also been very supportive. I know she would come out to watch if she could. She has been there to cheer at so many of my other races. My dad is the most surprising to me. He's usually the strong silent type, but every time we see each other or talk on the phone lately, he asks how my training is going. I know that's his way of saying he's proud of me.

My pharmacy school friends have been so patient. They've put up with seeing me a whole lot less lately, and they've even scheduled some of our get-togethers around my workout schedule so I could still get to see them.

My undergrad friends have been the best. They are the ones who encouraged me to sign up for this race when I told them I was thinking about it. A couple of them are even coming out to watch me. They are taking off work and paying for a hotel just to watch me. When I was talking with my friend Maddy a couple of weeks ago, I told her that I was a little nervous. What if they come all the way out to watch, and for some reason I don't finish? I would feel terrible. She gave me the best response. She told me that they wanted to come out to cheer me on, that they were excited to be out there, and that if I don't finish, I'll need my friends more than ever. These are the same friends that have come to newly all of my marathons and have even run a couple with me. They're just plain amazing people.

My job has been really great, too. Although it hasn't been easy to try and balance work and training, my preceptors have been really understanding that my job is not the only thing on my mind lately.

Finally, I want to thank everybody I've met out in the blogosphere. This journey has been so much more rewarding because of all of the people I've met out here. Whether you are a fellow IM in training, fellow athlete, or just someone who stops by to read my blog now and then, you have helped me to get through so many workouts this year.
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Name Change

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

(Reinhold Neibuhr, 1926)

It's an old prayer. I can't remember the first time I saw or heard it, but I’m pretty sure it's on the walls in houses of half the grandmas I know. I thought of it on one of my last long rides a couple of weeks ago. Seven + hours by yourself offers plenty of time for thinking. I think these words have really hit home for me lately. The truth is, I haven't had "the wisdom to know the difference" in the last couple of weeks/months. I keep thinking of all of the things that could happen to prohibit me from finishing this race. I could crash my bike between now and then and break something. I could catch a nasty case of gastroenteritis from one of my patients. I could swim completely off course during the swim and miss the cutoff. There could be a 40 mph headwind during the bike, leading me to miss the bike cutoff. I could get hit by a car during the bike. I could (you fill in the blank; of thought of EVERYTHING). Most of these things, of course, are out of my control.

I know that there are a few things I could have done differently this year. I could have eaten healthier. I could have made another trip to ride the course. I could have started my training earlier. Overall, though, I think I've pretty much done my part. I've trained on hills. I've trained in the wind. I've trained in the heat. I've trained in the rain. I've trained on the course. I've practiced swimming in the greenest lake I could find. I've practiced my nutrition. I've practiced with my race clothing. I've tried to get enough sleep. I've (for the most part) followed the plan. I'm ready.

I've been wanting to change my name since Stu named me in early July. That was the first time I actually felt confident that I will finish what I've started here. I've just been waiting to do it until I felt more certain. I have been waiting for just one more bike ride; just one more swim to let me know that this deal is sealed. Although I'm feeling better and better about it with each day, I still don't feel sure that the title of Ironman will be mine. I just don't know it yet. The truth is, I'm not the type of person who just "knows" things. There will probably be a little part of me that won't know that I'm going to finish the race until I'm 10 feet from the finish line. It's just the way that I am.

So today, I am mustering up the courage to change one more thing. After today, I will be Pharmie, and I will be ready.
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An Apology

It has come to my attention that my arms are not happy with the way they were portrayed on my last post. They informed me that they have been working very hard the last few months. They help to propel me when I am swimming. They steer my bike and help to keep me in aero, and where would I be without arms to pump when I am running up hills?

My arms reminded me that just because they have gotten smaller does not mean that they are flabby lunch lady arms. they still have definition. they are still srong. so, to do them justice, here is a picture...