Monday, November 19, 2012

So what is the hardest part of Ironman?

Standing in the elevator at work, a person in my building noticed my IM Florida Finishers jacket. He asked me, "So, what was the hardest part?" while pointing to my jacket.

I turned to him, smiled, and replied "Signing up."

I never would have been wearing that jacket if I did not start.  And believe me when I say that it takes the most courage to sign that piece of paper and hand over your $625-$700+ non-refundable entry fee.

Do you know why there are so few Ironman finishers in the world?  At IM Florida, they celebrated the 500,000th individual finisher of the Ironman races.  That is a lot of people in general, but that is over multiple races world-wide in all 30 years of the branded event as it is held today.  The reason why it has taken 30 years to hit half a million Ironman finishers is simple.  The fear of the unknown.

This will be my last post on the Journey to IMFL for now.  When I register for another IMFL, which I will and tentatively aiming for 2015,  I will re-open this blog and catalog my journey that year much better than I did this one.

I am taking away from this experience the knowledge that I can take on anything.   And more importantly, I am taking with me a lesson in how to start.

Long before my dreams of Ironman would come to fruition, I had a dream to be able to look into a mirror and love myself.

I realized that dream on this journey.   I found happiness in my flaws.  I stopped seeing myself as a body and started seeing myself as a person. A whole person.

The next year is going to be a tight and tough one for us, but one we will survive and thrive in I am sure.  I am taking a year off from Ironman training to focus on performance and the next phase of my body transformation.

I am returning to Ironman in 2014 with Ironman Wisconsin.  I am going to be training much differently the next few years, and with that comes additional excitement.

So I leave you with this, the final post of this particular leg of my journey. The message is simple.

Never give up, but more importantly have the courage to START.

Who knows where you will end up... but isn't that the fun of it?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Moving at the pace of success.

All day long I was waiting for the inevitable.  I was told by many people that during the course of an Ironman there will be high points and low points. That is only natural when you are moving forward from 10-17 hours.  It is how you deal with the low points that will determine how your day goes.

While I never had a low point mentally, the first 4 miles of the marathon was a physical low.  100% humidity, 80* heat, total sunshine beating down on us.

Not Michigan.

As I took off, I realized that my HR was off the charts high.  Where was Bonnie?  I need to know what to do! What do I do?!?!  I have a marathon and all ready I am entering my 10K HR zones.  I would never last if this kept up.

I went from my race plan of run to the aid station then walk 1.5 - 2 minutes for recovery, to run walking 3 minutes on, 1 minute off  for the first half of the first loop.  I had implemented my survival run/walk plan at mile 0.4.  This was not good.

Looking around though I realized that this was great.  People were passing out, fainting, puking, sitting on chairs awaiting for ambulances.  Whoa.  People were not going to finish this race, and it hit me that I was going to.  While it would be slow, it would be on plan. 

Do I want to burn out my body and risk heat stroke and kidney issues ( there were a lot of both that day), of did I want to take what Bonnie had taught me in training and make the plan work?  Here is the test.  It was now up to me to fly or fall out of the nest.  So Jenn, what do you do? You throw ego out the door and you execute that plan.

You walk and recover and wait out the sun, running when the HR is low enough to allow some foot time. And so I did.  By the time I hit the turn around point in the park at about mile 6.5, I realized that my HR was dropping and that I could sustain a run period more than walking.  At this time I was really close to two other women who were also run/walking. so I asked if I could run with them.  They said yes and it was the best thing ever.

Darcie and Victoria were so awesome to run with.  Floridians from further south, they were great company and made the miles FLY BY! 

Before we knew it we were back at the special needs bags at mile 13 and I was just a half marathon away from completing this journey.  I am a half marathoner so 13.1 miles was nothing.  Just keep on running!

At this point, I saw Mike again and darn near knocked him over as I ran to him and jumped on him.  I needed to see him right then.  It was the perfect pick me up.  Also my sister in law Lorraine and her boyfriend Tony had flown up that morning, so they surprised me by being there to cheer me on.  Lorraine ran with us a for bit and I told her all about the run so far. About the carnage that was out there but how I was not a part of it.

Today was not about ego.  Today was about celebrating the woman I had become.  I had enough time off of the bike that I could have walked the entire marathon and still had time to spare on the clock.  I wasn't going to push myself for a time on the clock.  I was going to be an Ironman no matter how long it took, so I chose to be smart, keep cool, keep the HR in check and let the race plan dictate the pace.

Darcie had never ran past 14 miles before, so after that mile marker we would yell "Mile xx IN yo face!  We only have xx more to go!"  Darcie really saved the run for me, because of her company and her absolutely awesome personality we became quick friends and made the marathon just a little 26.2 mile jog in the city.  

I took a special moment at mile 23 and made sure to slap that mile marker extra hard.  Me and mile 23 have a thing.  Never quitting again.

We met up with Steve, who was a friend of my tri captain whom he met years prior at IMFL.  By this time my foot was hurting and I decided that I was just going to walk the rest of the way.  We were only 2 miles away from the finish line and I was soaking in the last little bit of my very first Ironman adventure.

Every time someone would ask  us "What is your pace?"  I would respond "Success".  

I did not want it to end, but I was ready for the finish line.   I was ready for the season to be over.  I was ready to be a wife.  I was ready to have some time to reflect and relax.  I was ready for the diploma.

We made the last turn and found ourselves at the start of the finish chute.  From here on out it is all a blurr... bight lights, all the cheering, the high 5's from every single person... and the smile that I just could not wipe off of my face if I had to.

This moment was ours.  All the years leading up to this one moment... all the lessons learned, the friendships and bonds made... it was all here.  It was time.  Time to graduate into Iron.

*beep beep* went the timing mat as we crossed under the finish line arch at 11:06:25 PM.

"Jennifer Kryvicky... YOU... ARE... AN IRONMAN!!!!!!!!!"

Yes.  Yes I am.

Myself and Darcie finishing strong and happy

I nailed the execution.  I soaked in every minute.  I even made a new friend who made the day extra special for me with her laughter and non-stop smiling as well. 

I had estimated a 6:30-7 hour marathon based on expected HR, and I finished the marathon in just over 7 hours. 

Final marathon time: 7:03:50. 

Total Ironman time: 16:06:25

The Fraser Women Ironman Virgins
Mike and I after the race
Enjoying my walk across the graduation stage

Riding along on my SpeedConcept... I don't even care that I am hot and wet...

My bike race plan was easy enough on paper. 

Miles 1-40 HR Zone 1.  Just ride along.  Spin spin spin.
Miles 41-80 HR Zone 2.  Ride the bike but keep in endurance zone.
Miles 81-110... more of the same.
Miles 110-112 back to Zone 1

Florida is flat, however with flatness often comes wind.  Saturday's winds were not nearly as bad as earlier in the week, but they were present.

I had no idea on pacing this race, I just wanted to execute the plan.  I made sure to keep in Z1 the first 40 miles and Z2 the rest of the ride.  With headwinds and the occasional overpass or slight slight slight roller, this meant a slow ride for me. I have no idea why but my HR on the bike is really high.

Honestly I didn't even care. This is my first Ironman, and I was not going to let ego ruin the day for me.  I only had one job all day and that was to stay in the box.  Of course my ego was a little bummed that I had to hang back and peddle along, but I knew that at the end of the ride I still had a little marathon to run so why not be conservative and just enjoy the day?

So I did.

It was a STUNNING day in north Florida.  Breezy, hot, sunny... heaven.  I saw some amazing plants and of course all the palm trees.  I got complimented on my calves a few times, I even got to pass some people who where having a rough go of the heat or the sun or the wind or all three.

All I knew was that I was in the right HR zone and I was not going to go over one beat if I could help it.  Stay in the box, Jenn.  Don't eat the paste.  Let them burn out and have a rough marathon.  Today is not the day for ego, today is the day to soak it all in.

I executed the nutrition just as I had in training.  I kept the HR conservatively low, even lower than my plan just to make sure that had plenty of stores left.  All in all there was not one issue on the bike and I was able to make the 112 mile journey out and back again with that silly grin on my face.

Every time I rode through an aid station, they would yell "Look at her smile!" 

I thanked every volunteer and police/fire/first responder than I saw.

I enjoyed every moment of the bike.  Tom Demerly's words stayed with me all ride... This was my graduation day, I earned it and I wanted to remember every single mile.  

Soak it up Jennifer... you earned this.

By the time I hit mile 90 I could not believe it.  I was having a great little ride, singing to myself both inside my head and aloud (this was especially funny to me as I would do it particularly when passing people) and realized that my ride was almost over.

Trish was so right... it was a long day that would go by fast.  I was almost unprepared for how quickly the day was passing, but I knew that the final leg of this journey was just in front of me.   Make it back to T2 and it would all be just a little jog then the finish line.

Holy cow... where did the time go? 

*beep beep* goes the mat as I cross the dismount line and hand off Lady to the volunteers. 

Official bike time:  7:05:58 

Based on lab tests and training rides, I had estimated that if I maintained a solid 145 BPM for the bulk of the ride, that I would average about 16 MPH on the bike.  I averaged just shy of that at ~ 15.78MPH, at ~ 140BPM for the ride.  I would say that I was pretty in tune with my body! 

Coach Bonnie said that we should finish and feel like we could have gone 15-20 minutes faster.  I felt like I could have done that easily, if not even more, so I was right on plan if not a little conservative.

As they say - if you execute a good bike leg, you have 26.2 miles to gain speed.  If you execute a bad bike leg you have 26.2 miles to feel the pain.

Heading in to T2, I took a moment to myself.  I just sat on the chair while the volunteers emptied out my run gear bag.   All I have left in the day is a marathon.  Heh.  ALL that I have left is a marathon.  It is amazing who you become when you train for a race of this distance.  You know that you have crossed a milestone when you think that a marathon is a short go of things. 

I took off the bike shorts, tore off my shoes and helmet and threw on my socks and running shoes/visor/sunglasses.   I thanked my volunteers and headed right out the door.

*beep beep* went the timing mat as I exit T2 and start on the run. 

In 6.5-7 hours I would be running through the chute... but for now I just need to focus on executing the plan.

Follow the plan and the rest will come! 


Just Keep Swimming

The massiveness of an Ironman swim is impressive.  I remember last year watching as the canon went off, seeing the glass-like Gulf of Mexico turn into a washing machine of flailing arms and legs.

An Ironman Swim - Wisconsin 2008

Crikey.  Do you see that? 

Fast forward 365 days later where I stood now as the athlete, I was getting ready to kill this one last fear. All I had to do was get into the water and swim. The rest of the day would take care of itself.

We corralled ourselves after the pro start, and then awaited the canon boom.  Due to the current in the water, and the fact that I had no desire to be caught up in all of that flailing business, I seeded myself far to the right.

The Ironman Florida swim course is a 2-loop show-box that takes you out into the ocean, then directly into the sun, then back to shore where you get to walk along the beach for a bit and hop back in to do it all over again.

The canon goes off, and we slowly enter the water.  The waves were a little rougher than the day prior, but not nearly as bad as what we swam in on Wednesday.  I was ready.

I get in, hug Annelise no less than 5 times, then get ready to start swimming.  Once we crossed the break, I dove in and went to business.  The current pushed me over towards the buoys as I swam further out.  I swan in a straight line into the ocean, and magically hit the turn buoy right when I needed to.  I was far enough to the right when I started that I was pretty much alone the entire swim.

I kept swimming too far to the right of the finish line on the way back into shore due to the current, but all in all I nailed a 46 minute first lap which is right on par to what I expected based on the 5' waves, the current, and a 2-3 minute delay on my part after the canon went off.

Once cleared of lap 1, I walked along the beach, taking in fresh water to get the salt out of my mouth.  I took my time getting back into the water and then once it was time, dove back in.  I was fearless for teh first time in the water.  I felt happy and was just swimming along!  Lap 2 was just as uneventful as the first, and considering the beach walk time and current swimming, I managed a very similar pace the second time around.

After reaching the shore a 2nd time, I got out of the water, was stripped of my wetsuit by the peelers, and made sure to hang out in the fresh water shower for a bit before making my way to T1.

I made it.  I swam in the ocean for not 1.2 miles, but for 2.4 miles and did not even think about it.  I swear that I was smiling the entire way, which in hindsight explains how I managed to drink so much ocean during the swim ;-).   I not only beat down my last fear, but I finished right in my estimated time frame of 1:30-1:40.

Final swim time (including the delay at the start to let people go ahead of me and the walk on the beach to start lap 2):  1:36:04

I saw tons of Fraser people on my way up to the transition area, then after getting my Bike Gear Bag, I saw Mike!  I gave him a hug and kiss and made my way into the changing area.  I wiped off, pulled on my bike shorts, put on my race number belt, my shoes, my helmet, and made sure to get sprayed down with sun screen before making my way to my bike. 

They called my number and I was greeted with Lady, all ready and waiting for me.   I can hardly believe it.  I was already done with the swim and now off for a little 112 mile bike ride.

*beep beep* went the mat as I crossed it and got on my bike.  I do not think that I could have had a larger smile on my face.   Time to sit back and enjoy the ride ahead of me!

T1 time (including walk to T1, shower, change, porta-potty break and getting to the mount line): 12:40

What The Heck Did I Sign Up For?

Standing in full wetsuit, goggles in hand, I looked out into a very angry Gulf of Mexico.  The breaking waves were rough and the sea beyond was not much better.

All that went through my head on this, the Wednesday afternoon before Ironman Florida 2012, was that I had made a horrible mistake.  A horrible horrible mistake.

I had signed up for an Ironman that I was too afraid to start. Not afraid due to doubt of myself.  No, this was different.  I am afraid of the ocean, so yes it is quite remarkable that I signed up for an ocean based Ironman.

The Gulf was choppy and I just knew that some creature lay in wait ready to strike out at me when I got in.  I kept saying to myself that if this was Wisconsin or Lake Placid that I would not even be worried, because I would not be, but something about the ocean scares me.  I new this before I signed up. The very last hurdle that I would have to pass was I had to conquer my fear of the ocean.  After all that I have done in preparation for this day, I refuse to let the ocean win. 

It was quite literally now or never. 

*takes a deep breath*

I get in with the rest of the Fraser crowd, and with total FAKE confidence I started walking out with them through the break.  One crashing wave after another, each one making me get tougher mentally and to prepare for the days ahead of me.  

Well Jenn, you signed up fully knowing that you had to swim in the ocean.  If you get eaten, stung or bitten you asked for it, but do not let this fear rule you.   Look around you.  No one has been eaten in IMFL, and you are not special enough to be the first. 

I started swimming with the group and was surprised by how murky the ocean was.  Typically in the Gulf the water is crystal clear.  The winds and chop really stirred up the sea bed and made it impossible to see below us.  That was both good and bad.

Good because I cannot scream about what I cannot see, but bad because I can imagine what is under the murk awaiting to eat me.  *insert Jaws theme*

I made it all of two strokes before a blue blob appeared directly in my face.  JELLY!  I screamed and tried to jump over it.  Yes, while swimming.   As soon as I was sure that I had passed over it without angering it too much, I looked up out of the water to make sure than no one saw the ridiculousness of my reaction to the jellyfish, and no one did.  Or at the very least no one admitted to me that they did. 

We swam out a bit however we only really swam maybe 5 minutes in total.  The rest was more of an up and down ondulating motion which made me feel a little sea sick.   This was going to be an epic race swim for sure.  If not a rollercoaster of waves ala Muncie Endurathon 2009, it would be one of me being on red alert for Sea life.  No matter which way it would go, come Saturday I was diving in with 2500 of my closest friends and I was going to be an Ironman.

I have become determined

We turned around and I swam over yet another jellyfish, this time I refrained from screaming and just kept on swimming like the song says to.

Jenn, this is totally just like Lake Erie.  Nothing is going to eat you here.  It is just a more briney Great Lake, with a random plastic bag that will not hurt you
Just a briney Lake Erie.  

After the swim, Annelise and I went out for a short hour bike plus a ~20 minute or so brick run.  The bike showed me that the winds would be in play in my ride on Saturday (assuming that I did in fact survive the swim without being eaten) and the run made me smile. 

Holy crap, am I really going to do an Ironman?  Yes!  Yes I am!  The day is coming near!  I am so ready and so excited for the day!!!  Nothing is going to stop me now. 

I have become limitless. 

The following morning before I left Florida for 'Bama to pick up my husband from the airport,  we went back out and swam again this time in better waters. Still murky, but not nearly as violent.  I remembered to bring my wetsuit right off the bat this time as well as remembered my sea bands to aid in sea sickness prevention, and after the uneventful swim (I only saw 1 jellyfish this time) I hung in the water for a good bit with Yvette and got over some of the fears that I had of sea creatures.   It was a huge moment for me to just chill in the ocean with my feet dangling like tempting carrots to passing sea creatures.  I did not freak out.  I did not even think of it.  I just let my body become comfortable with the motion of the water and the thought of being vulnerable actually made me relax a bit.

By Friday I was swimming with Trish in amazingly calm waters for a good 15 minutes doing a portion of the course so that we could get a feel for sighting in the sun-soaked water and was all but convinced that I looked like a baby seal in distress while swimming compared to he very fluid and efficient movements.  The major gain for me was that I was now certain that I would not be eaten.   Well, fairly certain.


As I sat on the dock of Pineapple Willy's later that afternoon, after having packed all of my special needs and gear bags and checking in Lady for race day fun times, I smiled as I spoke with Mike about my race day plans all while internally asking myself the question of "What the heck did I sign up for?"   I did not ask it in a doubtful way, I asked it in a more confident light.  I was no longer fearing what was ahead of me.  I was now looking forward to the day that I was blessed to be able to start.  I earned this day.  It was my victory lap. 

What was in store for me?  How was the day going to unfold?  I am so totally ready for this both mentally and physically, and I am going to beat down all of my fears tomorrow.  So yes, what did I sign up for?  

31 hours later that question would be answered.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hitting the Road...

Here we are, just 5 days out from Ironman Florida 2012.

If only you could see the smile on my face right now.....

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

More Than, Greater Than

Earlier this week I posted about how I have struggled most of my adult life with the fear of failure.  The ultimate point of the long-winded post was that I started out the journey always thinking how I was LESS THAN I wanted myself to be.   I am here today to say that I am ending this particular journey, the journey to Ironman Florida 2012, with the knowledge that I am MORE THAN that I am GREATER THAN those fears.

I used to say that running was my church but triathlon saved my life.  Now I need to amend that and say that while running is my church and triathlon saved my life, Ironman gave me back myself to enjoy it all.

This race-specific blog was started 2 years ago with the purpose of tracking my progress in training for Ironman Florida.  At the end, I decided that it was more important to capture the journey of re-discovering myself through the act of total dedication. 

The proof here is that I now realize that all that I have gained through the past year more than makes up for all that I have given up on over the past 10.  I quit believing in myself way back in college when a relationship went bad and I was left with a deeply broken ego.  I ended up a deeply broken person.  It has taken years of attempting to rebuild, only to get sidetracked and have to start all over again. 

Every time I got broken, I got back in the saddle and tried again.

At the end of it all I never quit rebuilding myself. I would dig deeper each time and try to heal my broken ego, with plenty of stumbling block along the way. 

I quit my first marathon at mile 23.  MILE 23.  I pulled out of races or switched to shorter distances because I just knew I would not make it.  Throw in the middle of all of that a diagnosis of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy in the form of petite mal and psychic seizures, and it pushed me over the edge.  I wasn't worthy of success or a good life. I wasn't good enough.  I was a dysfunctional wanna be.  I was so deeply broken physically and emotionally.

The feelings that started 10 years ago just never went away no matter what I did.  What more would I have to do to show myself that I was worthy of success?     

That is when I realized what I was doing and where the journey to Ironman FL 2012 was taking me.   It is so much MORE THAN 140.6 miles. It is about faith and dedication and healing my broken self. It is about knowing that failure is not an option anymore, and that I have earned the victory lap.  I am worthy. I am back! 

Anyone can do an Ironman.  Not everyone is willing to work for it.  I meant it when I said that I am the laziest person I know.  I really am. However I am also a very dedicated person when I find a cause that I believe in.   I finally believe in myself.  I am one of the few willing to and who is fortunate enough to be able to put aside and sacrifice for a year to make this goal, this dream,  a reality.

Ironman has already given back to me in so many ways, however the biggest gift is a healed ego. A healed sense of self. 

Every time that I increased some power on the bike, every mile that I ran a faster mile, every time that I dropped a clothing size, and every time that I swam longer and longer in open water culminating in a 5k (3.1 mile) open water swim through lakes and rivers I was putting energy into the universe and the universe was giving me 10-fold power to find myself again. I just needed to be open to receive it.

Thanks to my amazing friend Vickie and my coach Bonnie, I was able to see myself through their eyes and together they helped restore me.  And thanks to my friend Amy, who has always inspired me however now even more.  

Every mile and hour that I deposited in to the bank account of Ironman was a bandage on my broken self.  Every time that I would hop in the pool or lake, that I would go for a run or ride I would log my workouts and marvel that I was really doing this.  I did not half ass it.  I was DOING IT.  And yes sometimes it took Vickie and Bonnie to tell me that I was doing it before I believed it for myself, but I am forever grateful that they never gave up even when I was doubting myself. 

So, here I am just a few weeks away from the victory lap and I can firmly say that this race has been MORE THAN a test a physical endurance and strength, it was also about showing myself my true colors. It showed to me that I am MORE THAN I thought that I was.

Now that I have faced the fears behind me I am ready to look forward with a new sense of self.   I have accomplished all of my goals this year.  I have not quit one thing and I have not allowed myself to back out of anything that I have put my mind to do.

I am sitting here with a smile on my face because I know that November 3rd will be as my friend Tom Demerly has said, a long walk across the graduation stage.  I finally get it.

It is not the end of a journey,  but the beginning of my life without the shackles of doubt and fear. 

In the coming weeks I am going to start blogging more about what my plans for the day are.  I have decided to enjoy every mile of the day, no matter how tough it gets.  That means that I am going to put a focus on each segment of the race, breaking it up into 40 or so parts, taking it 1 mile at a time.  I am going to be taking some very special people with me in my heart during Ironman. 

I am an Ironman.  I can do this.  I have given my all for this moment, and I am ready to toe that line with 2,000+ of my crazy like-minded friends.

It is really here!  I am ready to walk across the graduation stage!  I am ready for my victory lap! 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Less Than

I am the laziest person I know.   So imagine my surprise when I have had people this year tell me how I have inspired them either with my Ironman aspirations or my lifestyle change to veganism and plant strong nutrition. 

I graciously accept the compliments and notes of encouragement and support, but always think in the back of my mind how I could possibly inspire them... I am just a lazy person with a pie-in-the sky dream of being an Ironman. Right?

There have been times in this journey that I have felt like a fake.  An imposter.  A wanna be.  There have even been times in this journey where I have laid awake at night or sat in my car on the way to a workout and cried.   

Yes, cried.  Just cried.  For hours. So many hours.  ALL of the hours.  

I am already a failure... why even start the race I am not possibly qualified to participate in?

Going out for any one of the hundreds of hours of training I was putting in I would witness the real athletes (those already forged in Iron) and upon seeing the work and dedication that they are putting in to training for this race it would make me wonder what on Earth I am doing. 

THESE are the inspiring people, not me. These are the Ironmen.  They are just so much better than I.  What if I fail?  What happens WHEN I fail?  Will they all realize that I am that lazy person and never have faith in me again?  Oh my goodness... will I loose faith in myself too?

I am not a real athlete, and only real athletes are Ironmen.  I am LESS THAN that.  I am a couch surfer who goes out and swims, bikes, and runs a lot. 

I am not dedicated enough.  I have not sacrificed enough.  I have not given it my all or executed the plan right.  I just am so much LESS THAN that. 

Time has slipped away, I am out of time, I am out of time, I am out of my mind. 

The sad truth of the matter is that all of these feelings have crossed my mind, my heart, and my lips over the long course of the past 11 months.

When I signed up for Ironman, I half felt in my heart that there was no way that I would finish this journey.  I would quit, I would get injured and give myself the easy out. I would figure out the exact excuse or reason later, but surely it would come.  It always does.   

But somewhere along the way I had an epiphany.

I was sitting in my hotel room in Mexico when it happened, and I recall looking at myself in the mirror as I was putting on my workout clothes.  The clock read 11:05pm and I was heading out for a 1.5 hour bike/run brick workout in the sub-par thrown together fitness center available to me.  I looked in the mirror and saw an overweight person about to go look a fool in the fitness center when everyone else was at the bar which was ironically positioned right outside the fitness center so they could all witness the silliness. 

"Check out that fat chick running in there!"

"What on earth is she doing?"

I saw the fear rise in my eyes as I started to tear up.

Yes, what am I doing?

I am doubting myself as being dedicated, as deserving the honor of working hard to meet my dreams, of really being an athlete - yet I am getting ready to do a workout in Mexico at 11:05pm while all my coworkers are at the bar.

Yes!  What the heck am I doing to myself?

I sat down on the edge of the hotel bed and wrote a note to myself, pinned it to the mirror, read it every night and morning, and then got in not only that workout but every workout on my plan that week including a half hour swim in an 11 yard pool. All the while people ate and drank around me.


You are the athlete that you want to be.  Every day you are shedding the doubt and moving closer to her, the girl you want to see in the mirror.  You are dedicated, you have sacrificed, you have laid the foundation and now just need to have faith in yourself, faith in the journey ahead of you.  No one is laughing at you.  How can they?  You have a dream and more importantly you have the desire to WORK for that dream. No one can take that away from you.  Remember, Ironman is not the destination... this is a journey of reclaiming your life.  You can do this.  You are MORE THAN you think. You are MORE THAN an Ironman.  You are Jenniferlyn, and you have got this.  Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  KEEP ON WORKING.  

Of course I have not been perfect in my training.  I have ebbed here and there, sort of floating in and out of the process.  But it lasts for short periods of time, mainly due to sickness or balancing the crazy jam-packed year that I have had between graduating with my MBA, getting married, training for this little race and oh yeah, switching my career completely.   I guess the fear of Ironman made sure that each time I would stray due to whatever, I would come back with a renewed vigor and excitement for the process.

Have I sacrificed?  Um, yes.  Have I put in work?  Oh yeah, 58 watts, 50# and 4 dress sizes worth.  Am I ready?  I know in my heart I have done my best and that best was SO MUCH MORE THAN I ever realized I had in me.

This post is me finally coming clean with myself that I need to stop knocking myself down and realize that I am more dedicated and capable than I have given myself credit for.  I am not lazy, in fact I have worked my butt off (quite literally).  I am also not anything more than a person who had a dream, made it public, dedicated and committed themselves to achieving it and put in the work to set themselves up to achieve it.

Take this one thing away from my journey to become an Ironman: there is no magic or luck in fulfilling your dreams.   If I (the laziest person that I know) can do it, so can you.

While it starts with faith and a dream, it ends only when you put those dreams into action and work. 

Do not be afraid of the time it will take to accomplish the work ahead. The truth is that time is going to pass by anyway, the only difference is if we are sitting idly watching it go by or if we are engaged and participating in it.

I chose to get off of the couch and participate in it.  

No matter what transpires over the course of the 17 allotted hours on November 3rd, 2012 I know that I have done so much more than I ever thought that I would in my life.  This is not the final destination, but another stop in the journey of my life.    

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I am back in the (blogging) saddle again!

After a few month hiatus I am back to regularly blogging. 

I am currently in Florida (Palm Beach) on my vacation/wedding/honeymoon trip.  Mike and I brought down our bikes and packed our car filled with wedding stuffs, training stuffs, and vacation stuffs. 

We have been here for three days already, and already I have been able to swim some, run long (8 miles!) and get in a strength ride on the A1A (25 MPH!)

The 8 mile run yesterday was so nice.  It felt great and easy and even with the heat and humidity at 7 am I managed a 10:41 minute per mile pace.  Some things that I did right were to eat before hand (3 egg whites) and to bring along ice cold water.  I went through 2 bottles on the run (standard store bought water bottles).

My shoes are about done though, so today I am heading into Wellington to buy some new Newtons.

We went for a ride on the A1A last night and I did half of my workout because the rain and lightening came faster than we could ride.  It was a great 40 minute workout though, kept 19mph on the warm up and recoveries, and 25-26mph on the straight aways when I was going my biggest gear for my 7 minute intervals.  That felt great! 

I am really embracing my cycling strength.  The next few months I need to focus on my nutrition in my long endeavors.  I need to find my nutrition plan and then stick to it. 

Today is a 2.5 hour ride weather permitting, and then a swim, weather permitting.  Oh top news around here?  A hurricane is heading its way straight for West Palm Beach with an expected Sunday land fall.  Our wedding is on Saturday... and we may be spending our honeymoon in a Hurricane. 

Transforming FEAR into FAITH. July Recap

I have realized that I need to just have faith. Ironman training is NOT marathon training.  It is not swim training.  It is not cycling training.  It is all around training.

I have had enough “death-walks” in my time that I am very fearful of the feeling of the marathon at the end of Ironman.  So I have been going longer in the other two disciplines so that I have a confidence level going into the next 2.5 months of training.  

In July I managed to nail the runs and got them done.  I rekindled my love of running and had a great time doing it.  I am excited for the chance to see how far I can go and grow in the next few months.  

I Swim Swam Swum to the Moon!

I am very confident in my swim now having completed multiple 1 to 2.1 mile open water swims in lakes and rivers, as well as my very first  5k open water swim this past weekend.  

Looking back over my swims, the long ones have all been pretty close to ~ 1:56/100y.  1 mile, 1.2, 2.1 or 3.1 miles with pretty similar pacing across the lot.  
That tells me that my swim is what is it and it is strong enough to do 3.1 miles of point-to-point swimming through 3 lakes without slowing down.  I am pretty sure that 2.4 miles in the ocean (two loops of 1.2 miles to be exact) are going to be just fine.

So, I just need to keep on plugging away at swimming and stay consistent.  

Take-Away: CONSITENCY IS KING! Just keep swimming.

A Centurion is born!

I completed my first 100 mile bike ride and was feeling horrible towards the end. Not cycling wise, but in general.  It felt akin to the marathon death-march that I am not fond of.     It was HOT and HUMID and I was struggling with nutrition because of the heat and humidity and the only available nutrition options were all sugars… as in cookies, treats, brownies, etc.  Not even a pretzel.  

I need to get in more time in the saddle to feel fully confident there, but on the good news front my saddle gave me no issues, so I was more than capable of staying in it for all of those 6.5 hours of riding.

So with that, for the bike, I know that I can complete 112 miles, and I know too that I need to get more comfortable with miles over 60.   The last four years of my life has been long-course, half iron distanced racing.  I am a whiz at the 56-60 mile distance.  A whiz.  Beyond that I am an in foreign territory. My focus then, here in the next few months, will be to execute the workouts and really treat every short ride as power and every long ride as race practice, full race practice with nutrition, clothing, etc.  

I need to feel like I am going to Ironman day in all sorts of circumstances.   This means getting back into the lab every week for some lab workouts, and then the weekend out on the roads with my gear and nutrition plan in hand.

TAKE-AWAY:  I need to nail down a solid 100 miler nutrition plan and execute it with a run off of the bike.  No wimping out.  I also need to bring salty and non-sweet food options to get me through.

A Do Run Run, A Do Run Run

Now to get back into the running swing of things and keep being consistent.  This is where having faith is important to me because I try to compare this Ironman training to that of marathon training.  I felt really good at Detroit Marathon last year.  I put in TONS of hours running though in order to feel that way.  My fear, which I need to turn into faith, is that the lack of complete running time will impact my day and I will be dead in the marathon at mile 6.  

Turning fear into faith… one workout at a time.  

So if my fear is that I am not strong enough, I need to have faith that my cross-training in cycling and swimming are making me strong enough to sustain 26.2 miles.

I have been thinking of having a back-up plan.  To implement a run/walk strategy for the 20 miles of the marathon, to conserve my energy, to keep my pace steady, to keep me strong.  Then, if I feel good and strong go to running more walking less if not running the last 10k solidly.  If not, then keep on with my run/walking strategy.  

This is my FIRST Ironman… not my ONLY Ironman.  I want to experience the process for this one, then in the next few years go for it again and improve based on what I learned.

I figure if I do it this way, I am keeping myself in a steady “with purpose” mode until the last few miles.  Conversely, if I go out running the first 20 miles I may get into my ‘give up’ mode and walk which would immediately make me think that I am weak and to question why I would want to start running again.

I know myself, and I know that I am stronger than that. I also know that I need a back up plan and a tertiary plan when the mental going gets tough.   I gave up at Welland and walked. I am still on the fence on this one.  I need to speak with coach on it.

I am pondering implementing a run/walk strategy for Rev3 in September.  If all goes well then I can pull another 30 minutes or so from my time and feel stronger for it.  

I think that I will try some brick runs off of my next longer rides and see how those go.  Run walking at Rev3 may be the answer I am looking for, and regardless, it will give me the final race test before IM FL to see if it will work or not.

Like they say… you have 26.2 miles to make up time if you take it too easy the first 114.4 miles… you have 26.2 miles to suffer if you paced it badly.

Take-Away: I want victory and strength, not a sufferfest.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

June Recap: The month of Motor City Sprint and Welland Half Ironman.

Motor City Sprint was the week before Welland.  I was excited for the race, and excited to see how racing without a watch showing my pace would feel like.  It makes you honest, that is for sure.

The swim was great – felt strong and loved it as always.  I like swimming in the Detroit River, probably just because it is the Detroit River.  It sounds Bad Assed. Totally.

The bike was amazing… just laid down the hammer and averaged 21+ MPH, PR for the course and PR in any race.  I was ON FIRE!

The run felt a little wonky to start, but then I settled into a zone and pace and just went along to the finish.  

That finish was a HUGE PR for me, and a sub-1:20 finish.  My goal in 2011 was to be around 1:30.  I finished 2012 in 1:18!  Good enough for 1st place Athena!  I was 8 minutes off of overall female winner.  Damn.  That was amazing!

Then I tapered (did nothing) until Welland.

Leading up to Welland, I was fearful that I was undertrained.  Not that the training had failed, but that I was not training FOR Welland, as I had in 2010, so due to this I was fearful of what race morning would bring.

Lucky for me, training has not failed me!  

The swim felt really good.  It was a mass-start, 500 people all treading in deep water. I have never been punched, slapped, swam over under around into as much as in this swim. Dang.
I felt good swimming, used my sleeveless suit.

Take-away:  Mass start swims are great for drafting… so draft!  Be prepared for hitting scratching etc in the swim.  

I finished 3 minutes faster in 2012 than I did in 2010 and set a 1.2 mile swim PR.  Good day!

I used the nutrition plan that I have been practicing – perpetuem strawberry flavor, 2 bottles, and 1 bottle of water to take with solid nutrition.

I start with perpetuem in my aero bottle and then take sips every 15 minutes starting 20 minutes in.  At about 1:15 I empty my water bottle into the aero bottle and consume a solid food every 15-20 minutes until my food and water is gone (~1 hour).  I then put back in my perpetuem and drink calories every 15 minutes until the last 20 minutes where I just drink some water and cruise along.

This has really worked well.  For IM think about training with Infinit or Ironman Perform since this is what is on the course.  

For pacing, I followed the plan from my coach, Took it super easy the first 11 miles, the upped to Z2 the 2nd 30k then upped to Z3 the last 30k and zipped past everyone 20-22 MPH while they were slowing down.  My God I felt great.

Finished the bike sub 3:00 which is another PR for me.  


I was so far ahead of plan that I pulled a Jenn.  I figured ‘wow I am so undertrained in the run I should just walk, and coach said that run/walking was fine.’  Ha ha ha… run walking with a plan is fine.. just giving up and walking was not.   Had my 3rd worst half marathon but felt great out there… really needed the nutrition and salty foods.  I need to remember this for IM.

Overall time was in the 6:30’s, an hour PR from 2010 with non-Welland specific training.  

I have many take-aways from this race to apply to my next one in September and then ironman in November.

The big thing for me will be the run.  I need to be consistent and get out there and nail these runs.  NO MORE QUITTING.

I have Rev3 to make up for my failure of a run at Welland.  I need a plan… be it run/walk or run… I just need to execute the plan.  

So July I am going to work on executing the training and focusing on running and not giving up on the run.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Training update - Week 1 (Race Specific)

I am not focusing on IM Florida as much as I am following the process of training.  The first step is to get to Welland Half Iron in June.  At 10 weeks out, my coach had me start race specific training and it is completely different than what I have been doing - a lot of long efforts in a steady zone.  A lot of LT raising workouts.  A lot of threshold work.  A lot of a lot and then some of nothing.

It is a process.

Week one had me scheduled for 15 hours of training. I completed 11 of those hours, as I missed every single swim and had to cut one run short.   :-( 

This week my goal is to hit training much better.  All bikes, all runs, and all swims.  All core work, all stretching all everything.  It can be done I just need to DO. IT.

My biggest issue for sure is the swim.  I seem to not be able to get into the pool often enough and I cannot keep accepting that.  I have had 3 months to find balance, and now I know that it is not my schedule that impacts this.. it is purely me! 

My goal for week 2 is NO MORE EXCUSES.

I will get in every single workout this week.  No more accepting mediocre work.

Last night at the pool, after I got out I saw a girl walk over and jump into a lane.  She had IM tatoos around her ankle and this intrigued me as she did not look like a "typical" Ironman.  Way more fit than me, but not what I am used to seeing in the IM tattoo arena. 

I was intrigued so I watched her swim.  She jumped in (literally) and just got right to swimming laps, flip turns and all.  Wow.  She was so fit and strong and.. and... just everything that I want to be.  I CAN be like her, I just need to do it.

My goal for this week is to focus on not wimping out on the swim, but to get it done.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Back in the saddle... Again! This time with 20% fewer excuses and 30% more productivity!

The past two weeks have been rough for me as I am not a "rest" type of person.  Resting = lazy to me, so I had to fight many a mental demon this month.

I would say that my fear of inactivity resides with the daily struggle I face to get out of the door.  For as active as I am, it is not like I am so without my lazy tendencies.  It was lazy Jenn who got to be overweight.  It was active Jenn who lost a net 45# (with about another 40 to go).  It was lazy Jenn that made poor food choices.  It was active Jenn that changed her lifestyle.

I guess my fear of inactivity is based on the fear that while I have changed who I am on the outside, the fat lazy girl with control issues still very much lives within me.  I feel that when these setbacks happen, it is a chance for Lazy Jenn to get stronger while active Jenn lies in a weakened state.  This leads me to wonder and fear, "when I recover - which Jenn will emerge?"  This causes stress for me.  I feel guilt when I am sick.  I should do more, I am not contributing, I am failing. I am not the athlete I strive to be.  I am lazy.

I feel like the outside of me does not match the inside of me and this has made it hard for me to comprehend that people will not laugh at me for saying that I am not only a triathlete, but an endurance triathlete in training for Ironman Florida.  I assume people's perception of me is completely out of whack to who I really am, because I am guilty of the same thing.  Judging a heavy set person for their lack of inactivity - and then they pass me on the trails or in a race and I think.. dang.  Inside I feel like an athlete, but outside I look like a lazy person.


Well enough.

I am finally at about 90% recovered from my illness and by next week should be at 100% hopefully.  Taking the time off allowed me a mental break and to reassess my goals.  I made some pretty big decisions while in recovery mode, ones that are going to assure that lazy Jenn stays gone for a very long time.

So last week I did nothing.  Nada,  Zip.  And it was nice. I needed a guilt free time off from training to get my poop in a group and get excited about the journey ahead of me again.

Monday I walked.  Tuesday I walked.  last night I swam in the morning (yes, me!) and then did my bike workout in the lab.  That was not easy, and it showed me just how much I have fallen behind.  I need to get serious and put in work.

I woke up at 3:30am this morning, was aiming for 5am, but then started to cough non-stop for over an hour.  I was so exhausted from the lack of oxygen and the annoyance of dry coughing that I decided to sleep and then go swim after work.

My new plan for success is to get in a workout first thing in the morning and if that does not happen then I am not allowed back into my house until I get the workout done.  :-)  Since I missed my workout this morning, I will do it after work even if this means waiting for a lane for an hour.  I will get it done!

I will check back in Sunday to report on my progress on this journey to consistency. 

I am also working on some posts on the topics of how Ironman is changing the way I view things.  Not how I view myself, but more so how putting in long hours towards one singular goal alters ones view of normality.  I, as of today, finally agreed with someone that I am crazy.  Yes, I can no longer say that what I do is normal.  Most people do not train in the winter and spring for 3+ hours a day for a race in November.  Most people do not get up at 5am to workout, only to not come back home until 8pm after the 2nd or sometimes even 3rd workout of the day.

That is not normal; that my friends is Ironman. And I love this crazy, because it keeps me sane!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Operation Detox and Recover

As I mention over at The Journey, I was in Urgent Care today, and found out that I have both bronchitis and laryngitis.  I have zero voice and a horrible cough, runny nose and am just plain out fatigued.  My body is fighting this virus, and I need to respect the fight.

So with that I am start Operation Detox and Recover.

Step 1 - Detox diet

Vegan/vegetarian/anti-inflammatory/no sugar

Step 2 - Rest

Stop training for the week (technically for the 2nd week, now) and allow my body to fight off the virus and to heal heal heal.

Step 3 - Recover

Once it is OK to do so, I will ease back into my training.

This is going to mean tracking my foods and making sure to eat clean, healthy and allow my body to spend the resources on fighting the illness rather than having to pull nutrients from poorly made food.

Hopefully I will be up for training mid-to late week.  However I feel that if I can be back in the saddle by next week I will be happy.  The doctor told me that it can take between 14 and 21 days to get over this illness, and I need to respect that.  My coach has my training plan reduced greatly this week to allow for rest and recovery, so if I need to take it off I know that it is OK.

I have a long road ahead of me to Ironman.  I need to make sure that I take every step with the intention of getting to the start line healthy, fit, and ready to accomplish something amazing.

Friday, March 2, 2012

*cough* *snif* *sigh*

I am sick! 



Training has taken a back seat this week to get healthy.  Small sacrifices today so that I can awake and fight again tomorrow, right?


I decided to be more diligent in this blog since I really want to capture the journey to Ironman on this space.  I am going to post up weekly (Sundays or Mondays) to see how things are going, accountability, as well as so that I have a record of the emotions as well as physical outputs that went into the making of IronJennikins.  Since I am so early in my training I guess this will show that I have been focusing on consistency.  This blog is to stand alone and once 11/3 comes and goes so will this blog. 

As of Monday this week I had trained for 10 days straight!  And then promptly fell ill. 

March is my no excuses month so this means outside of illness or death I must make every single workout work.  I am starting this on Monday since I want to allow myself the weekend to fully recover and not dig myself into a hole.

Let the fun begin!


For real!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I love Brick Repeats!

Dynamic Warmup for 10'

Then Perform multiple sets of 30:00 Bricks as time permits.
Swim Bench or Stretch Cords 5 X :30" pull w :30" rest @ TE effort
Then Bike for 15' [5' @ EN, 5' AR, 5' EN]
Then Run for 10' [5' EN, 5'AR]

This was such a great workout today!  Torched 1000 calories and got home only to realize that I did 30 minutes too long of a workout.  :-( Oh well!  More repeats for me and getting me ready for next weekend's 2:30 brick workout.  :-)

I am feeling better, the saddle is soooo wonderful. I am feeling good and getting excited to put this effort into training consistently.  COMMITMENT.

There are only something like 267 days left!  better make them count, right?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Training with power... time to get some!

I tested on the bike before I left for Germany and let me tell you... my functional power is 160.  OMG.. this is so sad.  :-(  I took too much time away from the bike!  plus I never did this before (training with power) and had no idea how to really go about testing. 

This week I am in the lab and back on the bike.  OUCH.  I am getting a new saddle as this one has caused some serious soft tissue damage.  I got my bike fit and the saddle pressure did not change, so we opted for a new saddle.  I have never been more happy!

Cobb V Flow Max
Oh what a difference!  The saddle supports you on the sides, not the sit bones, and is a real difference in feeling from the traditional saddles. 

So looking over my power outputs I realized that the thing that has changed, outside of just not having the time int he saddle I am used to, is that I am focused on RPM now - 90+ RPM all the time, at each power unless otherwise instructed.  This has put me into the lower chain ring, whereas I usually mash through on the big ring.  What I need to do is to get back into the big ring and get into a high cadence here... this is where my power comes from.  The big gears + efficiency  +cadence. 

I really want to improve my power this season and perform on the bike, nit just coast in my comfort zone.  This power training is putting me out of the comfort zone and into a performance zone and while I am not performing very well right now, I know that in time I will. 

My training for the week is pretty normal, but I have missed all swims much to my own promise to get back into the pool.  Ugh.  This winter has sapped my desire to swim, which is funny because usually I want to live in the pool.  I think it is because more people are at the gym and thus I have a harder time actually getting into the pool.

Mondays and Wednesdays I am riding in the Lab with the rest of the lab rats, and then Mondays I am at the HS pool with the team for some drill work.  Saturdays I am back in the lab for either an endurance ride (2.5 - 3 hours) or 2.5 - 3 hours of brick repeats, swim bike and run.

Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays are my swim days  Now I just need to swim.

My commitment, I will not say promise, to my self is that I will be back in the pool 100% next week. 

So next week my schedule is as such, and I am committing to hit 100% of it.

Monday: 1.5 hour bike, 1 hour swim drills
Tuesday - run
Wednesday - 1.5 hour bike ride, stretching/foam rollering
Thursday - swim and run
Friday - rest and stretch
Saturday 2.5 hours of brick repeats
Sunday - swim and run

I posted over in my day to day blog about how my weeks are going with planning and prepping.  You can find the post here.