my craziest endeavor yet, 70.3 miles part 2

I know, it really wasn’t fair of me to leave y’all hanging yesterday. But, the post was really long and I didn’t want any of you to be bored and stop reading. So, here you go….the good stuff!

my finisher’s medal

After a fitful night of sleep, I finally got up around 5:15. I needed to eat and get ready for the day. I got dressed, grab the last of my stuff to take and made a PB sandwich to take with me. Unfortunately, race nerves had gotten the best of me. I was completely unable to eat. As I drove to the race venue, I tried to choke down the PB sandwich as best I could. I think I managed to eat about half of it. I had a couple of other items with me to eat before the race started but couldn’t stomach the thought of any of them either. Luckily, I was able to drink and did manage to get plenty of liquid into my body.

I arrived at the race venue, parked my car (worried that I wouldn’t find it after the race) and headed over to catch the shuttle.

I can truly say I felt very alone at this moment. This isn’t meant to make anybody feel bad, but I just wanted someone I knew to be there with me. For various reasons, none of my friends or family were able to be there with me on race day. From the moment I woke up I had to mentally convince myself that even if they weren’t with me physically, I had lots of family & friends cheering me on from afar. I just wanted someone to talk to, someone who understood how I panic before a race, someone to calm me down & make me laugh & tell me I could do this. But, I knew I’d have to count on myself to make that happen.

After the short ride to the lake, the shuttle dropped us off at the swim venue. As I stepped off the bus it was the moment of no return for me. Once I was off that bus, this race was going to happen. I went and got body marked (they put your number on your upper arm & age on your calf to help identify each athlete) and headed into the transition area. I needed to check my bike, make any final adjustments and inflate my tires (yes, I had to inflate my own tires–something I rarely do!)

And now, the waiting game began. Transition was scheduled to close at 7:15, the first wave (all the pros) was set to go off at 7:30 and I wasn’t scheduled to start until 8:35. That is a very long time to wait around with nothing to do. Again, I was really wishing I had someone there with me, but I didn’t. I knew I’d have to get through this alone. I decided I should probably try eating again. And again, no luck. I got a few bites of a health bar down but just couldn’t manage to eat more than that. I hoped it wouldn’t effect me later in the race, but there was nothing I could do about my inability to eat.

A little before 8 the pros began exiting the water. I didn’t have much else to do so decided I’d watch these amazing athletes head out of the water. It was the best decision I’d made all morning. For whatever reason, I found this to be very relaxing. Maybe it was the fact that I was focused on something other than myself. Either way I was finally starting to calm down and get focused on the race.

Before I knew it, they were calling my wave to the start. Soon thereafter, we entered the water. The water felt great. I’d started eyeing the markers of the swim course and it didn’t seem so bad. I reminded myself how much I’d swum over the past several months and I was ready for this swim.

The air horn sounded and we were off! As always, I stayed back a bit to avoid the melee at the front of the swim. Within just a few minutes I was getting into a rhythm. The worst part of the swim, for me at least, is making it to the first turn. Once I hit that first turn I knew I was a third of the way through the swim and nothing could stop me. I can honestly say I felt great on my swim. It was one of the best open water swims I’ve ever had! All through the swim I resisted the urge to look at my watch. I didn’t want to worry about my time (or my heart rate), but just focus on having a strong swim. When I finally reached the shore I decided I’d peek at my watch. “Anything under 1 hour and you’ve had a great swim,” I told myself. You can’t begin to imagine the thrill of looking at my watch and seeing “45 minutes.” That put an immediate smile on my face. I knew then it was going to be a good race day!

Once out of the water, I headed up the shore and into the transition area. I was shocked at the number of bikes still in transition near my bike. (Typically, you’re bikes are racked based on your race number & the age group you’re racing in.) This made me smile again; I was in a much better position than I expected to be out of the swim. I took off my wetsuit and began to get ready for the bike. As I glanced up, there was a man who had apparently decided he didn’t need to wear anything under his wet suit and was now changing to get on his bike—yep, right there in the open, with nothing on. I was a bit shocked, but also thought “oh, those crazy triathletes!” And then, I did something I never do in transition–I ate! Usually I’m worried about how quickly I get out of transition, the time does count against your overall time. But today, I decided that I wasn’t worried about my transition times. I took my first (of many) GUs and choked it down with some water. I double checked to ensure my helmet was strapped on, my sunglasses secure and my shoes buckled (with their velcro of course). I stuffed my wetsuit and other swim gear into the bag and was on my way.

The bike has always been the hardest (maybe worst is a better word) part of the triathlon for me. I can ride just fine; I’m just not a very strong nor fast cyclist. It’s the area I always wish I was better at and know, with more work, I could definitely be faster. Well, today I knew I had the secret weapon—a sweet set of Reynolds wheels. Joe, my bike boy at SBR, hooked me up with this great set of Reynolds sixty-six tubular wheels. I knew I couldn’t let those wheels or Joe down. I had to work hard on the bike.

I hadn’t seen the bike course until I started riding it. I didn’t do any recon work the day before and had only glanced at in on map my ride. However, it was turning out to be exactly what I expected. There were some “climbs” but nothing with a serious grade. There were some downhills, but nothing seriously steep. It was a bike course designed with me in mind!

One of the things I’d struggled with in my training was my nutrition. I knew I had to manage my nutrition or pay the price later in the day. I had salt tablets, GUs, cytomax mixed with CarboPro and some EatDutchWaffles on board. I also knew that every 12 miles along the course were aid stations with water and other items. I only planned to pick up water along the course. I did my first bottle exchange at mile 24….and it went off without a hitch (I was very concerned about grabbing water bottles out of the hands of volunteers on the fly, but no need to worry, I was a pro!) It was about this time that I started to panic. My bike was going great. However, it appeared that I had one less GU than I originally thought. This meant I now had to start rationing, not a good position to be in. I was glad I had initially started with 2 (instead of my usual 1) water bottles of cytomax mixed with CarboPro (about 300 calories in each bottle). After the first bottle exchange, I still had a full bottle of this mixture. I was feeling great and knew that I could get by on just those calories for a few more miles. Luckily, this small glitch had no effect on my nutritional needs. I continued to feel great throughout the bike.

I was watching my bike computer to see how many miles I had left. As I was approaching the 30 mile mark I came to a realization–once I hit 34 miles on the bike I was at the half way point to my goal (1.2 miles on the swim plus the 34 on the bike was 35.2–yes, sometimes I can do math). At this point there was no way I was stopping. I was going to finish all 70.3 miles!

It was also around this point that the wind picked up. Have I mentioned how much I hate the wind? No, well let me mention it now. I hate the wind! Especially on the bike. Especially when riding a deep wheel set (I don’t like being moved sideways across the road). Every time I’d start to gain speed, that wind had a different idea. I’d be riding along at 18 mph and suddenly, my speed would drop to 12 mph. I was still working as hard, just not going as fast. This continued for most of the second half of the bike course. My legs felt great, I just needed that wind to stop!

As great as my legs felt, there were other areas of my body that weren’t so happy with me. I have never wanted to be off of a bike as much as I did at mile 40. I no longer wanted to sit in the saddle. I just wanted to be done with the bike and off on the run. But, they only way that would happen was to ride faster. As much as I wanted to ride faster the wind just wouldn’t let me. I checked my watch and realized that I was on pace (even with the wind slowing me down) to finish the bike portion in under 4 hours. I’d told myself before race day that the bike would likely take me 4 hours and I’d be happy with that. Once again, I surprised myself! My final bike split: 3 hours 37 minutes.

I came into the final transition feeling great. I’d had one of the best bikes in any race and was feeling great. My legs weren’t tired and I was well on my way to finishing this thing. I got on my shoes and socks, stuffed the last 4 of my 8 GUs to be consumed that day into the pockets of my tri-kit and grabbed my visor. I only had a half marathon (13.1 miles) to run and my goal was accomplished. As I exited transition I checked the time–if I ran the half marathon in a couple of minutes under 2 and a half hours, I’d finish the entire race in under 7 hours. It was a crazy thought, but one I allowed myself to think, but only briefly.

As I started out on my first of three loops on the run course I began to realize that my legs just didn’t want to cooperate. No worries, it always takes me some time to get into the run. The entire first loop (just over 4 miles) was not pretty. It was hot, I was tired and I really wanted my day to be finished. My legs continued to rebel against what I was asking of them. At every aid station I poured water & ice into my sports bra to help keep me cool. I began to think that I’d never start my second loop on this course. Again, I really wished that there was someone there just for me; someone cheering me on by name. I knew I’d have to fight through these miles and finish this on my own.

As I finally came around to begin my second loop, the announcer called my name. For the next few feet spectators that I didn’t know were cheering me on by name. I don’t know what it is about having people cheer for you by name, but it is a definite motivator. I was finally able to run at a steady pace. It was slow, but I was making progress and wasn’t feeling as bad as I did on that first loop. I thought I’d finally found my groove! Sadly, this freedom only lasted for about 1.5 miles. But, it was enough. I began to give up on my hope of finishing in under 7 hours, but knew there was no way I wouldn’t finish this thing. I no longer calculated a goal time, I just wanted to finish. I met other people along the way who were struggling through the run just like me. We’d chat for a few minutes until one of us felt the need to start running again. They’d leave me or I’d leave them only to come across the next weary soul. Finally, I was at the turn around for the final lap.

I was relieved! I only had to run this loop one more time before heading into the finish chute. I headed back out with a plan. I told myself I could walk all the uphill portions of the course as long as I ran the downhill portions. I also started drinking Coke at the aid stations…..not just Coke, but warm Coke. Drinking that Coke made me think of my Dad–he’s a lover of the stuff and I can’t stand it, but man during that race I loved it. I wondered if my dad were at the race would he challenge me to a “leg race” once I crossed the finish line. (another story for another time, but yes, he would have challenged me!) I also reminded myself of all the amazing supporters I had in Utah, Texas, Australia and Peru. (I literally had fans around the world–I bet not many other racers could say that!) I couldn’t let any of them down! And, I even mentally dedicated the toughest miles along that run to Wendy–I kept telling myself, “if she can fight cancer, I can easily finish this race!”

As I approached the last half mile I saw a guy who I hadn’t spoken to, but who I’d been playing leap frog with throughout that final lap. As he came up to me, he stopped and started walking alongside me. I told him that he couldn’t walk, he’d been my motivator all afternoon. He told me I’d been the same for him. (It’s always amazing to me the bond that is forged between complete strangers during an endurance event) We walked another 50 yards and then agreed to start running again. He took off and left me, which I was fine with. I wanted to have the finish line all to myself when I got there. With about 200 meters to go, I totally started to tear up–I couldn’t believe I was actually doing this. I made myself stop (as I likely would not have been able to finish had I started to cry). Once I rounded the corner to enter the arena and the finishing chute, it hit me. I was about to finish my first Ironman 70.3. I had a new surge of energy. I ran faster than I had all day toward that finish line and I had the hugest smile on my face!

When I woke up that morning I didn’t know if I’d be able to complete an Ironman 70.3. I finished the race and left everything I had out there on the course; I know I couldn’t ask more of my body than I did that day. That night when I went to bed, I felt like a champion!

my craziest endeavor yet, 70.3 miles part 1

I decided several months ago that I wanted to complete an Ironman 70.3. At first I considered doing the race in Boulder, CO. It was close to home, would be easy to get to and seemed like a great course. As the race date neared, there was no way I was prepared to complete that distance. I decided that a fall race would be my best bet. So, as I began to look I determined that the race in Austin, TX definitely suited me. It was a fairly easy bike course–no real climbing and being at sea level couldn’t hurt.

After weeks of debate, I finally bit the bullet and registered. If you know anything about the Ironman brand and their series of races, you know how pricey they are. You can register for a half Ironman (or Ironman 70.3) for the low cost of $250. As soon as I hit that “complete registration” button, I wanted to throw up just a little. You’d think because of the race entry fee, but no it was because what I was about to do became real. No only was I going to ask my body to complete 70.3 miles (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike & 13.1 run) I was also asking my body to train for such an endeavor.

Little did I know just how much work and preparation this race would take. Lucky for me, my dear friend Rhielle agreed to do all my long rides with me. I don’t know what I would have done without her by my side pushing me through all those rides. We rode through construction zones (and even risked our lives one day); we rode canyons; we rode in hot and freezing cold temps. Never once did she let me quit. She was even there for my last brick workout and pushed me harder on the run than I thought I could go.

Soon after I signed up for the race I booked my hotel, airfare and rental car. I didn’t want any little detail to keep me from the race. I even called Mandy, who lives in Keller, to see if she could come down for the weekend. I needed as much support as I could get around me.

After months of training and preparation. Race week was finally here. I didn’t know if I was ready but there was no turning back. A couple of days before the race I had a major meltdown. I sent harried emails, text messages and phone calls to my favorite bike boy, Joe at SBR. Fortunately, he was able to talk me down and convince me that I’d be ok come race day.

My bike had been shipped the week prior and had arrived at the bike shop. I called to let them know when I’d be by to claim it so they’d have it built for me. Joe stayed up late on Thursday to finish my wheel-set so I’d have “fast wheels” to race on. I spent hours packing and double checking to ensure I had all my bike gear. Rhielle even wrote a beautiful post & tribute and got many people to post encouraging messages on her blog just for me. So, on Friday October 21st I boarded my flight for Austin, TX.

Friday afternoon was great! Mandy, Matt, Maddy & Landry came all the way to Austin to spend 24 hours with me. We ate dinner at Chipotle, tried to swim in the pool (it was FREEZING) and just had a fun time together. It was so great to see those cute kiddies and I don’t think they realize just how much I appreciate them making the trek to spend so little time with me.

Saturday they all kept me company as I headed over to pick-up my race packet and drop off all my gear. Matt even helped me figure out how to change out my brakes and wheel-set so my bike was ready to go for Sunday morning. The lines were crazy–both for packet pick-up & to get official Ironman gear. (I wasn’t leaving this race without some memorabilia that I’d been there.) We decided to divide and conquer. Mandy waited in line at the store and Matt & Landry kept my company. As I was waiting in line to get my packet, I felt completely out of my league. Who did I think I was? No way could I be doing the same thing all these fit, muscular athletes were doing! And so the panic began.

Finally, we got through the lines. First, I had to sign a waiver–basically stating that if I died on the course it wasn’t their fault and I wouldn’t hold them liable. Then I got my official packet–t-shirt, swim cap, gear bags, drawstring bag and some fliers. We had the goods for the race and we were on our way. Next stop was the car so I could sort all my race gear into the various bags—bike, run, etc. Then we were off to T2 (transition 2) to unload my running gear. I wanted to get everything dropped off on Saturday so I didn’t have to stress about gear come Sunday morning. To get to T2 we walked through the open arena. I had no idea that the finish was inside the building. We watched them set-up the finish area and were on our way. Well, at least I was. Maddy decided she wanted to stay inside where it was cool and wait in the chairs. That was just fine with me as it allowed me to take my time. I wandered through T2, found my spot and figured out where bike in and run out were located. At this point, the nerves were definitely starting to kick in!

Next it was time to drop off the bike. Whether I wanted to or not, bike drop off was mandatory the day before the race. Matt drove me over and dropped me off as close to the transition area as he could. Again, I easily found my spot in transition, set-up my bike and my gear and headed out. I resisted the urge to look at the swim course. Viewing the swim course always makes me nervous and I always think it is longer than it should be.

It was now late in the afternoon on Saturday and we were all starving. At Maddy’s request we were off to Chipotle again. That girl loves her rice and beans! We ate our meal and headed back to the hotel.

Sadly, it was now time for Mandy & Matt to pack everything up and head back to Keller. So, Maddy and I enjoyed a little Blue Bell while Matt & Mandy got everything together. I was certainly sad to see them go. We hauled everything down and got them situated in the car. They were off and I was left all alone.

Come back tomorrow as I document the details of race day.

separate, but…..separate?!?

Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for equality. Yes, women should be paid the same as men for the same job. Women should have the same rights as men to vote, own property and complete higher education. But what’s happening right now with the IAAF is just ridiculous!

Here’s the full article on what constitutes a woman’s world record in a marathon. Basically, the current world record of 2 hours 15 minutes and change held by Paula Radcliffe no longer counts as she earned that record at the London marathon—a mixed sex race. She had an unfair advantage because she was racing with men and they pushed her to run faster and harder. They are now claiming that only records set at women only races should count for women.

In my opinion, I see several problems with this new “rule.” All the major marathons are co-ed endeavors. Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York all have a mixed field. These are the marathons that people know about, have heard of and are possibly hoping to qualify for or be chosen in the lottery to run these races. Now, the most important races in the sport can’t have a world record set at them? Where does that leave the elite women runners? Competing for cash but not time? (Trust me these majors pay out significantly more than the smaller races)

This is a major step back in the history of women’s running. The first woman to enter and try to run the Boston Marathon was Katherine Switzer in 1967. Race officials tried to pull her from the course for the mere fact that she was a woman. It wasn’t until 1984 that the Olympics allowed the women’s marathon to be an official event. ( I still remember watching that race and being so proud that the American Joan Benoit Samuelson won on home turf!) Before that it was believed that “women just couldn’t run that far.” (even though they’d been doing it for several years at other marathons).

The major complaint for women setting record in co-ed events is the fact that the men push the women to be faster. Who’s to say the women don’t push the men? Let’s be honest, I don’t know any man that likes to get beat by a woman. Yes, it happens to many of them in co-ed races but I guarantee the sight of a woman coming up on a man only encourages him to run a little faster so he doesn’t get beat by a chick!

My final issue with this potential rule change is the atmosphere of all women races. I’m not opposed to all women’s events; I’m running the pink half marathon next month is Park City. You can even read my friend Rhielle’s thoughts on all women’s races. In my experience, all women’s races are more about the swag bag, making friends and wearing pink not about the competition. Most all women’s races are designed to help women feel comfortable and confident racing. They provide a safe haven for women who don’t want to compete with men.

I think if we’re really going for a separate but equal playing field when it comes to road racing, we need to let women set women’s records at co-ed or same sex events. There will always be separate records for both men and women; I just hope we don’t see an asterisk denoting a record set at a co-ed event.

the kindness of co-workers

I work in outside sales. I love that I don’t go into an office everyday. On occasion, I miss the Monday morning catch-up or the water-cooler conversation. For the most part I don’t miss that day-to-day interaction with co-workers. It’s just never been that important to me. I much prefer the randomness of my days and getting to converse with a variety of people. The downside to all of this is you never quite develop great relationships with your co-workers. Sure I see them on occasion; we work together on a semi-regular basis. But, it’s rare that I have the feeling that a co-worker’s “got my back.” Recently this all changed.

Earlier this year I was working with a potential client. Things were going along as expected–there were a few bumps and set-backs but everything was progressing smoothly. Then, without notice, they seemed to fall of the face of the earth. I couldn’t get a response via phone or email, my co-worker experienced the exact same thing. I just chalked it up to a lost client. Not something I like, but something that happens in sales.

Then just as suddenly this client was back calling and emailing. However, this time they were irate. Why wasn’t anybody calling them back? Where was their contract? What had happened? I started the process again and thought things were moving along. Until the day I received that awful email! I have never been spoken to via email or in person the way this client spoke to me. There was nasty language (stuff that would make a sailor blush!), inaccurate accusations and phrases that weren’t meant to be nothing more than hurtful and rude. I was shocked and decided then I was through with this customer. Fortunately, my co-worker felt the same way and so we were through.

Boy was I wrong! Here we are 3 months later. That client has now signed a contract (for which I will get all the benefit) and has started using my product. The thing is, I haven’t spoken to this customer since June when that nasty email was sent. As it turns out, this client contacted my co-worker a few weeks ago. This kind gentleman took over the contract negotiations and closing of the deal (knowing he wouldn’t make a penny off of it) so I wouldn’t have to work with this client again. His actions almost brought me to tears when I heard. Not only did he negotiate the contract. I also learned that upon visiting this client again he informed them their actions and word were inappropriate, they had no right to speak to me that way and if they ever felt the need to use that kind of language they could speak to him directly. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a pretty tough girl who can take care of herself. But to have someone defend me that way was unexpected and truly appreciated.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a co-worker (even ones that I’ve had a great relationship with and saw everyday) treat me so well. This guy is a gem! If he treats me this way, I can only imagine how he treats his wife. How do you express gratitude for such kind actions? I did send him & his wife a gift certificate to one of my favorite restaurants with a kind note. But, it just doesn’t seem like enough. To be honest, I’m not sure I could ever repay this small act of kindness. I only hope that some day I’m able to pass along this same type of kindness to someone else.

sisters, sisters……

Every year around Christmas time, my sisters and I watch “White Christmas.” It’s one of my favorite holiday movies. The performance of “Sisters, Sisters….” is one of our favorite. We’re often heard singing it to each other throughout the year. I really love my sisters and feel very blessed to have them as sisters.

The other day when I attended the Jingle Jam with Wendy, I became a bit envious. All of Wendy’s kids and her sisters kids attend the same elementary school. And, they all live within about a half mile of each other. As if that weren’t enough, they all meet at Wendy’s house each morning with their kids to finish getting ready and take the kids to school. There was definitely a pang of jealousy in me when I learned that.

I adore my sisters and wish that I got to see them everyday. My closest sister lives about 250 miles away in Hurricane, UT. I see CJ a handful of times throughout the year. I stay with her twice a year when I do the St. George tri and the Kokopelli tri. If I ever decide to do the St. George marathon again, she’ll provide me with lodging for that as well. She also comes to Provo a few times a year–usually involving the Hurricane State Football championship game or some other sports related event. Sadly, when I see CJ it is only briefly and it is rare that her kids (and sometimes even her husband) are around. I wish they were closer so I knew those nieces and nephews better. I will take what little time I get with CJ as she is a busy mom of 4 teenagers.

My next closest sister lives about 280 miles away, at least for 10 more days. When Meggie got married, Jonathan took her away! Yes, he still had school to finish and his school was BYU-Idaho. But, still, we once lived within 5 miles of each other and spent a good deal of time together. I did go visit them in Rexburg over the summer (and ran a half marathon while I was there). Jonathan has been great and brought Meggie down to visit several times. Each of their visits are so fantastic and I’ve grown to love Jonathan more and more with each visit. Now, not only has Meggie left Utah, she will soon be leaving the country. She and her cute husband and heading to China for several months. It’s an exciting adventure for them, but Meggie will be dearly missed. The best part, I have an excuse to visit China now! I can’t wait for that.

And then, there’s Mandy. Mandy lives 1200 miles away in Texas. I go visit her every year and she is good about coming to Utah. But, gone are the days of diet coke and a crossword puzzle in the history department. And, now that Mandy has 2 adorable kids, it will be even harder for her to make the trek to Utah for some sister time. I went to visit Mandy for Thanksgiving this year and boy was that trip not what we had planned. We were both looking forward to some good sister time; Mandy’s last hurrah before baby number 2 came along in January. Well, Lucky’s brother had other ideas and he just didn’t want to wait until January. That cutie-pie decided November was a better time to arrive. I had a fantastic time with Lucky, but Mandy and I missed out on some good sister time. We did the best to cram a week’s worth of playing into 24 hours, but it just wasn’t enough.

As Wendy told me about the fun with her sisters, it really did make me a bit jealous. I thought how fun it would be to live within a mile of all my sisters, to see each other everyday, to have our kids (well, not that all of us have kids or any school aged kids for that matter) attend the same school, to enjoy play dates at the park. I miss having my sister’s around to watch a good (bad?) made for TV movie with me. I’d love to see CJ and more of her kids’ sporting events. I wish I was around to help Mandy right now and spend time with Maddy watching Monsters, Inc and playing outside. I wish Meggie was around to help me feel hip and cool and do fun crafting projects. Hopefully one day we will all live closer to each other. Until then, I will just have to enjoy what little time I do get with them. And, at least we can talk all we want thanks to mobile-to-mobile minutes.

jingle jam

The original plan for today called for me to meet Wendy at Pizzeria 712 in Orem. When we talked last night she told me, “I know there’s something going on but I can’t for the life of me remember what it is. It must not be that important otherwise I’d totally remember it.” She completely forgot it was the Jingle Jam at her kid’s elementary school. Oops! Just blame it on chemo brain.

So, instead of an uneventful lunch at Pizzeria 712. We grabbed lunch from Flour Girls & Dough Boys and headed over to her kid’s elementary school. We met up with her sisters, who also have kids attending the same elementary school and prepared ourselves for some mind blowing entertainment.

Here are the highlights (er, low lights) of the event:

  • I was accosted! OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. However, the woman sitting behind me had about 15 different cameras and recording devices. Once her child had completed their performance, she decided it was time for her to leave. She loaded up her camera bag that weighed about  37 pounds, turned to leave and bonked me in the head with it. Who knew a kids concert would be such a dangerous place.
  • It was interesting to note the different ways parents recorded the performance. One parent on the video camera, one on their phone, snapping still shots with a phone, DSLR, point & shoot or anything else they could get their hands on. There were even people with tripods set up. I had no idea that a kids concert elicited such professional documentation.
  • I was sitting with the cool kids. Seriously, Wendy & her gang are pretty rad! We laughed, we joked, we had a great time. We were completely entertained by their kids and the antics of all the other kids in the school.
  • I ran into a former neighbor who I hadn’t seen in about 6 or 7 years. It was so nice to chat and catch-up. And to learn that her oldest son has turned in his mission papers. I’m always amazed at how these youngsters grow up—especially since I don’t seem to age a day.

I forgot how much fun a kids Christmas program could be. I’m so glad that our lunch turned into “lunch and a show.” I always have a great time with Wendy, but this event definitely took the cake! Even if (very briefly) I did feel like I was being held hostage.

i choose to believe

I have a 9 year old niece who still believes in the wonder of Santa Claus. Not having children, I don’t know at what age they quit believing and start to question. However, I think there is something special about this child. She is the most logical and rational kid you’ll ever meet. Seriously! She once convinced her mom to let her have cookies for breakfast (true story!) She was 6 at the time and she wanted cookies for breakfast. Her mom informed her that cookies were not a breakfast food, but rather a dessert. She immediately shot back that they have donuts for breakfast sometimes and they also have donuts for dessert sometimes. How were cookies any different than donuts? She got cookies for breakfast that day. So, it is shocking that this brilliant, rational child still believes that a fat man in a red suit travels the world on Christmas Eve and delivers presents to all the children of the world. On some level, I think she knows it isn’t possible. But ultimately, I think she wants to believe; because there is something magical about believing.

Believing isn’t always easy. There is lots in this world that makes me not want to believe. There is so much hurt, pain, heartache and sadness in this world. I’ve definitely seen my share. It sometimes seems that there are only those awful events and experiences to be had in life. Life can be hard! Some days it just seems easier to give up, to quit believing and just accept a miserable rotten life. I’ve definitely felt this way in my life and certainly over the past few weeks. But even amongst all the sadness and heartache I still believe!

I realize as a grown woman it my be corny to still believe, but trust me I do. I believe in the goodness of people. I believe that I can make the US Olympic team (even though I’m not an expert at any sport). I believe that someday I will grow 2 more inches (because I’ve always dreamed of being 5’10”). I believe that someday I will make perfect cupcakes (because I already make perfect cookies!) I believe that someday I will find my soul-mate, my perfect match,
my dream guy and I’ll marry him. I believe (even as a woman of my
age) that I will be blessed with a child of my own. I believe in magic and fairy tales and pixie dust and unicorns and the happy ending.

While the notion defies all logic and rationale, much like my niece, I believe in Santa Claus. Maybe not the literal being, but all that he represents. You see, I’d rather believe in happiness, hope, kindness, love and even a little magic. And so, everyday I choose to believe!

my first published work

I know, I’ve been terrible about posting to this blog, but I have a good reason; I swear! About a month ago I was approached by a friend who is working with an online triathlete resource. They post articles, product reviews, race reviews–everything a triathlete needs to race better & faster in one location. They asked if I’d be willing to write an article about my experience with trail running.

Well, that article got published! I know that technically, I am already “published” every time I post to this here blog. However, to have someone else ask me to write and then to actually use what I wrote is the best. I’m so thrilled and hope to do more writing for them in the future (do you hear that @triathletesedge?)

Here you go: read all about how I take it to the trails!

my 3 days as a chip checker

Trust me, the job wasn’t as glamorous as you’re thinking. I know–chip checker, you’re thinking I got to taste test chips and see if they were edible for human consupmtion and determine their quality. This job was so far removed from that. I did however, get all the free Frito Lays products I could consume in my 10 minute break.
This story is going to take a while to develop, but stick with me, I promise it will be worth it. The whole reason I even thought of my days as a chip checker are actually related to my current job. As part of my training, I have to spend an evening sorting mail at the facility–not really what I was expecting. Because, in reality, it’s not “part of my training.” This is their way of making all employees feel like equals. I’m not exactly sure how my spending 3 hours in the warehouse makes me “part of the team.” You see, tomorrow morning, I’ll put my college education to good use, get dressed in cute clothes and continue to call on customers. I have no problem doing manual labor. I have no problem spending some time in the operations side of things. I just don’t like the reasons why I’ve been told by management. I don’t like that I have to do it so that those working in the warehouse think I “feel their pain” and “understand their job” and other such nonsense. Because, let’s be honest, it’s not like I’m going to spend a day with the executives of the company learning their jobs! So, because of my attitude toward spening 3 hours sorting mail, I was called “entitled.” I actually think “elitest” would be a better term, but I’m not here to make qualifications on my entitled elitism.
Well, I was actually quite bothered about being called entitled; and not because I disagree, I can totally admit to feeling entitled. I have a college education and because of that education doors have been opened to me in the realm of employment. So, yes, I do feel entitled to the jobs I apply for, the jobs I am offered, the jobs I work. I paid my dues in the form of 4 years at a university. And, even with all that, if I needed to work to support my family and the only job available was in a warehouse, I guarantee I’d work every day (without complaint) to care for my family. That’s just who I am. What I realized is this: many people don’t know my background, the jobs I’ve had in the past and the things I’ve done (no, nothing illegal, or unethical or immoral) to pay the bills.

This all brings up back to the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college. I was back in Texas (oh, how I love Texas!) I’d applied for several jobs, talk to temp agencies about summer work and even applied for a paid internship at GTE (General Telephone Exchange—which I’m pretty sure no longer exists!) Well, I hadn’t heard back from GTE (my first choice of a summer job) or from any of the other places I’d applied. So, there I was with Jessica (my dear and funny friend) and Justin (my brother) sitting in the office of an employment agency after being home for almost 2 weeks. The woman across from us had a job to offer. It was only temporary and certainly wasn’t a job we were looking for (we did want to build our resumes and skills for post-college employment) but it was a paying job. So, all three of us agreed that together it wouldn’t be so bad and we’d take the work!

Thus began my 3 days as a chip checker for Frito Lay. (I don’t know that “chip checker” was our official title, but its the title we gave ourselves.) The next morning we awoke at the unearthly hour of 3am (ok, it was probably closer to 5am, but I was a college student it felt like 3am). My brother and I left our house to pick up Jessica and then headed on out to the Frito Lay plant in Plano, Texas. We arrived at 7am with our brown sack lunches and bleary eyed from the early hour. (In fact, I’m pretty sure that Jessica and I made my brother drive and slept in the back seat) It was then that we met Carlos (I remember because he had a gold chain necklace with his name in beautiful gold cursive that he wore each day) and “supervisor guy” (I really wish I could remember his name, but I can’t) It was also here that we learned exactly what our duties would be as “chip checkers.” You see, they’d shipped a batch of original Lay’s potato chips over the rockies and back. Apparently, this is not how transports are to take place. Because when bags of chips go over and back the air pressure does something to the bags (some get over full of air, some bags explode, some have no air left in them and others are still intact and acceptable to be displayed on the grocery store shelves). So, the 4 of us were tasked with checking the air volume of each bag of chips and sorting them–garbage or back into a box for shipment to a retailer.

As you can imagine, after about 20 minutes, this job became quite tedious. The clock moved very slowly until it was time for our break. At the deisgnated time, a whistle would blow (ok it was really more of a signal sounding) indicating that everyone on the warehouse flor could take a break. Everyone’s work day started at the same time, breaks were at the same time, lunch was at the same time and we all ended our day together. So, when the whistle blew, we took our break. The best part of the break—because we were in a Frito Lay plant, there were all sorts of Frito Lay treats free for the taking. Suddenly this job was looking up!

And so it continued for 3 days. Wakig up early, heading to the plant, taking our breaks and lunches at the designated hour. “Supervisor guy” was very funny and entertaining. He gave us all nicknames–I was “senator” because I was majoring in Political Science. He drove his fork lift over to check on us; brought us new palets of chips to sort though and in general looked out for us crazy college students doing this job.

Needless to say, with all the boredome, we had to come up with some way to entertain ourselves! So, by 10am on day 2 found the solution. When a bag of chips is so full of air it’s about to explode, it’s very easy to pop the bag and spary chips all over the person at who it’s aimed. Well, that’s excatly what began. And by the end of the day the three of us were covered in chip crumbs and the stentch of deep fried potatoes. We made a complete mess of the corner of the warehouse where they had stashed us, but had so much fun working those 3 days.

So, I worked my 3 hours at the facility the other day. I learned mail is dirty! I learned the process of how things arrive, are checked in, scanned and sent on their way. I even spent 3 hours scanning, sorting and tagging a bin of mail. I learned the process that they wanted me to learn to help me with my job. However, this second go round of working in a warehouse I learned so much more. Back in college, I was far to young, naive and entitled to learn the lessons that I learned this past week.

First, I was put to shame by the women I was working with. They were far faster and more efficient than I was at the task at hand.

Second, these women are hard workers! There was no chit-chat, no goofing off, nothing but hard work. They got to work immediately and didn’t quit unti lthe job was done.

Third, and most important in my opinion, I learned why many of these women were there working from 5pm to midnight. Yes, this is not an educated group of people, but this is a good job that pays well. But, the real reason they work this shift–it allows them to be home with their kids. These women are dedicated to creating a better life for their families and are willing to do what they must to make that happen.

I’m sure back in college when I worked in a plant/factory/warehouse many of the people working at Frito Lay were in the same situation. But, at the time I was too entitled to realize that. But now, I’m not the same person. I recongize and appreciate the work others do; work that I am grateful I don’t have to do. I am grateful for the doors that are opened to me because I had the opportunity to continue my education post high school. But, more than anything I’m grateful that I was given a second opportunity to learn the lessons that I should have learned back when I was a chip checker.

it’s been a while my friend…..

I swear I’m back. Back from my vacation; back from my illness; back from the blahs of not wanting to post. I promise you at least one real post this week (maybe even 2 if I’m feeling crazy!) In fact I’m working on a good one right now—all about my funniest summer job (and yes, it was a real, live, paying job!) I only hope its worth the wait…..