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Red Bull Ironman Journey's: Evelyn and Colleen race Ironman in 2018

          

Plagued by Injury

We all hate injuries. We mostly try to work through them because if we don't then it ends up putting a dent in our training plan (and life). 

I've been injured for months and it all started with trying to deadlift. Now, don't get me wrong. I wasn't trying to go all hulk mode and lift a bunch of weight. I was actually trying to work on proper form and was only using the barbell. I searched for a YouTube video on proper form so I could practice 3 sets of 8. Sounds smart, right? WRONG!!!!!!!! I still had improper form which set off a chain of reactions.

A day after the deadlift I knew something was wrong. There was a weird twinge in my back and something just didn't feel quite right. I ignored it and tried to rememdy the pain by cracking my back. Seemed to get me through the day so I wrote off the pain. The next day it started feeling a little bit worse. Tried the same rememdy and felt slightly better but at that point I knew something was pretty wrong. The following day things deteriorated. At one point in the day my leg sort of gave out and I realized I needed to do something that same day.

During the past few days I received a chiropractor's name so I called them the same day and was able to get an appointment that afternoon. When they assessed me and adjusted me - my life got a whole lot better. However, that relief was only temporary. After a couple of weeks of aggressive treatment I knew that seeing a chiropractor wasn't the answer so I tried accupuncture. 

At first accupuncture was great. I felt tingly and relieved, but everything was just temporary. During this whole time I kept up with my training session. I rode bike and ran and even continued on with my Orange Theory classes. Then... the shooting pain down my leg started to happen. That's when I knew something still wasn't right and after a couple of weeks I knew it was time to get serious. See, at some point during my injuries, I usually ask myself whether or not this injury will cause permanent damage. If my answer is yes or maybe, then I decide to get help - ASAP. 

I called the local hospital which has a ton of speciality doctors ( which my insurance covers) and tried to make an appointment for an orthopedic (see - I was thinking it was bone related). However, when I tried to make the appointment, because of the location of the injury they referred me to a neurologist. After seeing the neurologist, and after a series of xrays, he determined that I had a muscle injury due to a weak core and referred me to a physical therapist. 

So, now I am seeing a physical therapist. The first session was pretty enlightening. After a thorough assessment, my PT suspected a herniated disc and weak pelvic/hip abductors. In order to help with my deficiencies (I know- I'm so HR), she put my on an extension program and told me that she is hoping to get me up and running in 6 weeks. Now, her biggest fear isn't my half ironman - it's towing, pulling and pushing a disabled athlete two weeks prior to the half. Yes, sounds a bit insane; however, I knew my training would get me prepared for this huge task and my goal wasn't time but to be the "wheels" for someone who couldn't do the race. There aren't many opportunities where I can work with special athletes, so I wasn't going to miss it. 

I am two weeks into my PT and feel a bit better. I've laid off running which has royally sucked BUT I no longer have the shooting pain. I ran this past weekend for a half a mile and only felt pain when I tried to increase my speed and cadence. I am trying to run a full mile today by walking/running (1:1) and am hoping to do so pain-free. Since I haven't run, I've increased my cycling on Zwift (total game changer program by the way - if you don't know what it is - look it up) and have become a cycling junkie. My next race is July 1 so I want to at least do well on the cycling portion. Until then I will continue to chug along and work on my PT exercises. I'll keep you all updated on my progress. So keep calm and train on!!!!

Wings for Life

Part of my training plan includes setting races for myself to prepare for my A race. These races help me to gauge my progress and identify any deficiencies (and I have a lot of those LOL).

Now, races are stressful no matter what their purpose is. For example, even when I use races as part of my training I still want to be aggressive and kick butt. However, the Wings for Life race was something a little bit different and it helped me get my long run in... with a much faster pace than I would typically run. 

So you may ask yourself what makes Wings for Life different - easy. Wings for Life has no "finish line." There is a chaser car that starts chasing down runners 30 minutes after the start of the race. Every X amount of time the car speeds up a certain amount until the last runner/wheelchair athlete is caught. This race is run all over the world at the exact same time which is so amazing because you can see all of the other athletes all around the country running. It is so fun to watch the night time runners ... now that is dedication. Red Bull is the biggest sponsor of this event. The coolest part of this race isn't the concept, but the fact that the funds for this race 100% benefits individuals with spinal injury. Some of these athletes are at this event and it's incredible to see them... 

I've done this race a couple of times in the past, and last year I had gotten in almost a half marathon. This year I had set the same goal for myself. Now, the catch car seems to have gotten a bit faster because I only got in a little over 8 miles, but I really didn't care. I got in my long run PLUS it was fun. See, I forget to have fun a long the way sometimes. We are so busy training and following a schedule that at times it can become overwhelming... almost dreadful. When we have a strict mindset it is easy to get in to a training rut. I definitely don't want to do that. 

Now my next race is a sprint on July 1 and I am hoping to crush that race and have my best time for the season but we shall see... I hate setting up big goals for myself because I get EXTREMELY disappointed in myself if I don't hit them. However, regardless I am working hard and can't wait to see what I can do. I'm also debating signing up for a pretty big race in September (a month before the half ironman).... This race would be a little bit different. See, I might not be doing the race alone.... but helping someone else finish this race who can't. Now, I won't post details until it's finalized but I threw my name in the hat to be considered. I find out this week if I'm in or not and what my role might be.....

The point is - this race might be epic. Plus, it'll be something completely new and different. Stay tuned.... I'm hoping to post more about this in the next two weeks :) 

How to move forward? How to feel? How I know I can depend on this community, this sisterhood, to be a catalyst for healing…

Simply put, this past week has been complete hell for me and for my family. I believe the only way to start the healing process is to share my experience and thoughts and what a better place to do so than with this amazing group of women.

What started out last Thursday as a trip to Los Angeles for some sun and much needed catching up with good friends turned in to a nightmare. After a series of text messages and phone calls from LA to MD, we made the discovery that my sister had suddenly passed away at her home in Columbia. The following morning after receiving the news that my sister had suddenly passed I did the only thing I knew how, I went for a run. The grief and sadness I was feeling were so overwhelming, I was running through tears but running cause it was something I could control.

I flew over 6000 miles in less than 48 hours to get back to Boston, see my twins, change over my suitcase and then fly down to Baltimore to be with my brother, parents and my sister’s family. She has three children, her two daughters and a son whom I love like they are my own. All I can think about is them not growing up and experiencing their milestones with their mom by their side. Being down there, I immediately go in to stoic/take care of them mode while inside I’m struggling with the dark places your mind will take you.

It’s hard to comprehend that while all of this is happening, the real world continues to go on. While you feel at times you just want to hide, the rest of the world continues. One voice inside says stay in bed, the other voice inside says you need to get up, go to work, hit your workouts. I am a wife, a mother of amazing 4.5 year old twin boys, a Senior Level Manager at my company running 7 states with 7 employees, a friend, a sister to 2 older brothers, an aunt to 3 beautiful nieces and a handsome nephew …. OH and I am training for an Ironman.

How do I find the strength to do all of this while feeling the incredible emptiness, guilt and grief of losing my only sister. The person who was with me every step of the way in life. The person who allowed me to live with her while I was in college, rent free; the only one who visited me when I lived 3000 miles away from everything I knew after college in San Diego; the person who took me to my first concert and many others after that; the person who was my matron of honor; the person who threw me a wedding and baby shower…my only sister was a huge part of my life.

As I’ve been deep in my thoughts and memories the last several days, I have made a few realizations. This is where I link back to this support system I am so fortunate to have. Not only with this amazing IRLAG community, but with my entire network of incredible women (and men) whom I call friends. The last several years of her life, my sister struggled with her health, physical pain, anxiety and depression.

We all have our moments of ups and downs, sometimes the downs feel so low but we many of us have the outlet to raise ourselves up and move on…but for my sister the moving on part wasn’t easy.  

For me, I wasn’t the fastest runner in high school. I wasn’t the fastest swimmer at our community pool. I was middle of the pack always, maybe back of the pack. I struggled with my own depression in college, the feeling of not knowing my identity, who I wanted to be. I moved to San Diego after graduation to do just that…find myself. It was there I started to build this network I now count on; however, I feel it wasn’t until I moved back east and met my husband that I truly began to get a glimpse of who I was to become. He gave me a bike on my 30th birthday and I never looked back. The mediocre runner/swimmer from my childhood was now riding Century rides, sometimes 3 per year and raising money for various charities. I made connections with people who will be lifelong friends through endurance sports. Centuries led to bike racing led to Aqua Bikes led to Triathlons. All along the way more and more amazing people became an important part of my “family”. I had found a community of people who supported each other in ways I had never seen before. I felt connected to something.

And NOW, now I am so fortunate to be a part of the most amazing group of inspiring women! Lifting each other up, sharing our struggles not only racing but in life. Talking about balance and how to get through the day. This community and the sense of belonging and striving to be the best we can be…this is the most amazing thing I could ask for. This makes me a stronger mother and example to my children. To show my children and others that you can push yourself, achieve anything you put your mind to, that you can be the best you can be. All it takes is putting one foot in front of the other even when it feels impossible to do so.

I hope that I can be an example to my sister’s children as they move forward out of the darkness. That’s its ok to ask for help when you need it. That its ok to fail and pick yourself up again. My sister would have wanted this, she asked me not too long ago to take care of them if she was ever unable and I pledge to her that I will.

What I can ask of all of you … if you know someone struggling, tell them it’s ok, tell them you love them that you are there for them. Lift them up. Take them for a run, a swim, a bike, let them talk it out. Be that shoulder. So they too can come out of the darkness and see the light.

We have set up a donation link in my sister’s honor with an incredible charity The Boot Campaign. Not only does this charity donate more than $0.80 on the dollar directly back to those in the most need, but it was founded by 5 incredibly strong women. We feel this is an amazing way to honor my sister’s legacy and provide help to others like her.

https://donate.bootcampaign.org/campaign/in-loving-memory-of-karen-christen-mccoy/c180794

**The Boot Campaign, proudly serves the country by providing life-improving programs for veterans and military families nationwide to bridge the divide between military life and civilian life.

@iracelikeagirl #iracelikeagirl @redbull #givesyouwings @myproteinbiktes #myproteinbites @topoathletic #topoathletic @sciconbags @rideshimano #rideshimano @headsweats @refreshinQ #NeverQuit @zealiosskincare @playtri @vitalproteins #stayvital @commonrootsbrewery #commonrootsbwery #gearsandbeers

Torch Run!

One of the biggest perks of my job (besides having an awesome gym) is being able to be a part of cool philantropic events. One of my favorite events is the Torch Run. The Florida Law Enforcement Torch Run is the largest annual public relations and fund-raising event for Special Olympics Florida. Our agency is one of the biggest participants in this event and does so many things to help raise money for them! Not only do we supply runners to carry the torch, but our SWAT vehicle leads the way and ensures that there is water and Krispy Kreme (yeah, don't ask) for those runners who need it!

Pretty early on in the year I had decided that I wanted to finish the entire course by running/riding in the SWAT vehicle. I knew I wouldn't be able to run the whole course because it was just shy of 30 miles. I wasn't comfortable hopping in and out of the SWAT vehicle so I tried to find a friend to run with! Luckily the friend I found is one of the main guys on the SWAT team and reassured me that I would be good to go the day of the run. Our strategy was to get in about 10-13 miles max. I haven't really put in long miles on my training days so I figured I would take it easy. The pace for the run is about 11 minutes and I figured it wouldn't be too bad. 

I skipped my "long" run on Sunday and opted to get in about 4 miles on the treadmill since it was raining and lightning. However, I still decided to go to Orange Theory in the morning the day before and push myself just a tad. Wednesday morning finally rolled around and I was SO excited. Right before the run I spritz my thighs and other areas with some crotchguard so I wouldn't chaffe. The guys made fun of my but man were they begging for crotchguard by the end of the run LOLOLOL. 

As we get ready to start I spot one of the Hallandale Beach police officers I know who happens to be an avid runner. We get to hug and small talk and that small exchange starts to hype me up.The start sound goes off and the Special Olympic's athletes take off. It is SO SO SO cool to see. They're just so happy to be a part of it and no matter what is going on in the world, at that moment, it doesn't matter.

One of the athletes holds the torch for a little while and then passes it over to one of the other runners I know. Since she was sick, she passed it off to one of the SWAT members. The SWAT team would end up carrying it a majority of the way. As the miles passed by I decided I would get up to 7 miles and then start jumping off and on of the vehicle. See, if you wait too long to rest, then once you hit the wall you are unable to start back up again. I wanted to stop somewhat early and have the ability to still run afterwards. It definitely worked.

After exchanging a lot of banter, I ended up running a littler over 15.5 miles. The other guy I was running with completed 19 miles. I can't wait to see what I can accomplish next year HAHAHA.

Although my heels hurt and my body aches, I am really proud of myself. It's really easy for self-doubt to rear it'sugly head and tell you that you're just not good enough. Well guess what self-doubt, I just crushed 15.5 miles like a boss! HAHA. Since I still am going through acidin my muscle build-up, I got in a 15 minute spin followeed by a .25 mile run. Not too bad, huh?!! Keep the training coming...

Next Stop: Wings for Life!!! 

Recovering from Injuries

Yesterday I had my second race of the season and it was SO MUCH FUN! I raced in the same event last year but had a bit more training under my belt back then. I'm still recovering from injuries and don't feel 100% better but I'm getting there. 

Let's start with my injuries first. A couple of months ago I noticed a pretty persistent pain in the back of my heels. I've had plantar fasciitis before but it felt different this time around. I started with my usual stubbornness and decided to avoid hard impact workouts and instead opted for more cycling workouts or strength training. About two weeks later I tried running again but my heels still hurt pretty badly. I decided that my shoes needed to change and bought some pretty and bright colored new ones. After a couple of days (and a lot more pain) I decided to take a week off from running completely. I am always reluctant to take some time off of training but I was pretty desperate at this point. It really really hurt guys.

After my week long sabbatical from running I laced up my shoelaces only to experience more pain. I cried. Threw a fit. And finally, I admitted to myself I needed to see my podiatrist. I saw him last year but this time around I feared I might be getting stress fractures. I made my appointment and was able to get in a few days later. In his office they x-rated my feet and heard my complaints. The X-rays confirmed what he already thought - heel spurs in both my heels. His remedy - lots of stretching and high heels. My lack of stretching finally came back to bite me in the butt. Since then I've tried to stretch as much as I can (especially throughout the day) but I'm failing miserably and need to do A LOT better. The pain has been subsiding but I have a ways to go until I feel pain free. Luckily I can keep training until then.

My next injury stems from strength training. Specifically, improper dead lift form. See, I had started incorporating strength training into my workouts because I figured it would help improve my overall fitness. Kettlebells and dumbbells were typically my go-to weights but this Christmas I had asked for a barbell for benchpressing, squats and deadlifts. My first stab at trying to deadlift just the bar was pretty painful. I knew I was doing something wrong so I watched videos on how to properly execute a deadlift. Well within my last set I still felt pain and thought to myself I needed much more practice and knowledge before trying to deadlift again. Well, I was wrong. Two days later I felt pain when I was walking and at one point my legs almost gave out. One of my coworkers recommended a chiropractor and so I made my appointment right away.

After explaining to my chiropractor about my issues they took an X-ray of my back. The X-ray showed that my lower vertebrae had turned and it was most likely due to the deadlifting. I was pretty bummed. He was able to adjust me right away though and it definitely made me feel better. He thought it would take 6-8 adjustments to fix me and he was pretty spot on. I still feel some residual pain but I feel so much better than I did a couple of weeks ago.

Now, I still feel some sort of pain from my nerves but I am trying acupuncture to see if that helps. It's been pretty frustrating dealing with all of these issues the last two months; however, all in all I've still been able to train and even race. I am hoping that by my next triathlon I am able to train free but who knows. Until then I am going to commit myself to the following:

  1. Stretching more (this includes throughout the day) - let's try a goal of two times a day. I figure start small and build from there.     
  2. Trying to wear high heels/sneakers instead of being barefoot or wearing flats. Who knew?!?!
  3. Drink more water!!!!!! This helps with muscles and joints. This should be a no-brainer but I'm impressed when I can drink one cup of water a day. Yes, you heard right... One.... Cup.

​So as I start my long recovery back, I am hoping to train smarter and stretch more. This last race I performed well but I am hoping for me. My running is slowly coming back but I would like to break 8 minute/miles by the end of the year. I am a little disappointed in my swim but that's entirely my fault because I don't train in the swim.... at all. I would love to train more but I honestly don't have the time. This week I enter back into my building phase. I am hoping to feel less pain during my workouts and better results. I'll keep you all updated of my progress :D

A Race Director and a Triathlete

The last couple of months I've been working on putting together my first ever 5K as a race director. It's been an insane amount of work from coordinating everything with the race venue to advertising for the race by visiting run clubs every other week. I can't complain though because I've enjoyed getting back out there and meeting new people. However, the day finally arrived and as stressful as it was, it was also one of the most rewarding days I've ever had. All of the work had paid off and the event was a success. We ended up having 197 participants and raised over $700 for The Max Cure Foundation (the charity we were working with). Overall, I was extremely pleased with our end result. Not only pleased but humbled as well as my friends and community came together to help support me.

The following day was my first race back into the triathlon season. I didn't tell too many people I was racing the next day because I wasn't too sure on how I would do. The 5K had taken more time away from training than I would like to admit and I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to have a good race. Not only was I physically tired the day before but I knew mentally I wasn't very prepared either. I had suffered an injury to my lower back two weeks prior to the race and was seeing a chiropractor three times a week. 

Now, there was a girl from work, Ana, who was racing for the very first time that day and it helped me to focus on her and trying to help her get ready for her first ever triathlon event. Once I got to the race site I settled into my race day groove by unloading all of my gear and walking around to clear my head. It was my very first time wearing the tri suit from Alex's Bicycle Pro Shop and I got compliments from my suit right away. My teammates spotted me easily and it was pretty nice hearing them simply say hi to me and yell encouraging words while they were warming up. Being part of a team feels nice, and you don't realize how nice it feels until that moment where they cheer you on. 

Ana and I finally got to the swim start line and it was a little intimidating. The water looked pretty rough and she was already talking about skipping the swim. The race officials ended up cutting the international distance swim course to the sprint distance due to the rough water conditions. As we watched the swimmers go out there we saw a couple of people getting rescued which didn't calm down my anxiety. Then they called my wave; it was do or die - quite literally lol. Once the race started I focused on cutting to the right. I quickly got into my groove and actually felt extremely comfortable in the water, which is funny because I never train for the swim. My last swim was the day of Miami 70.3 in October. Crazy? Yes. I actually enjoyed the swim until I had to get out of the water and the waves continually crashed on my back pushing me back into the water making me swallow in the water and panic a little. I ended up getting out (obviously or I wouldn't be writing you today) with a time of 11:35 - 2 minutes less than the previous year. 

I ran from the water all of the way to my bike and man does that short distance hurt. I remember thinking to myself keep going, keep going, keep going. It's funny how your mental mantras really do work. I found my bike - trusty old Shelly and put on my gear. As I left the transition area and mounted my bike - I told myself out loud to rock and roll. I quickly found my cadence and sank right into my pace. The ride was fun andI hit some areas of pretty strong wind but I managed to maintain a 20 mph pace for over 10 miles. I knew I had done well even though I didn't realize at the time what my actual speed had been on the bike. I went 0.7 mph/average faster than last year.... 

As I came back into the transition area I knew I had been doing well but this was the area I was most nervous about - the run. I had been experiencing a lot of issues running ever since hurting my back. I could feel my hip, back and legs each time I managed to feel good enough to run. The chiro told me I would be fine after I left his office on Friday but now we were about to put my body to the test. I told myself to just hold under a 9 min/mile if I could. As I sunk into a comfortable pace I felt good. I told myself I could do it. I felt fine until halfway through my run. At the halfway point it felt as though my body was starting to shut down. I was feeling pain throughout my legs and my body kept yelling at me to stop. I knew I could keep running though - so I did. As I neared the last mile I knew I could hold strong; I just needed to see the finish line. As I jogged I was passed by someone in my age group. She started pulling ahead and I just let her go. I would learn later I should have pushed myself just a teeny bit more. AS I crossed the finish line I was excited. I ran the entire thing.

I saw one of my teammates and we talked for a bit. I cheered him and a couple of other people on along the way and it was so much fun to see a support crew out there on the course (and holy crap are they good)! We went to go check on our results. I saw the 30-34 year old age group and my heart sank for a second. I didn't see my name and figured I was no where on the top, and then I realized my name was on the previous screen where I had placed 3rd in my age group. I smiled. I worked hard. As I checked out #2's results my smile disappeared. I lost by 2 freaking seconds. I know, I know - you were in pain and worked hard you're thinking AND you're right. However, if I had pushed myself just a little bit more I could have made it. You look back at some of the parts of the race where you may have cruised and thought to yourself "if only". Well, lesson learned. Honestly, I was proud as hell of myself to finish strong AND also to beat my time from last year by about a 1:30 minutes which is pretty good.

Overall I learned some key things during this race. 1 - Your swim start is extremely important. It can set the whole tone of your race. It's good to find your pace and focus in on your swim mechanics/breathing. 2 - Race hard, but know your limits. You're pushing your body to the max so be weary of uncomfortable versus pain; 3 - lean on your team. Being a part of a team is important. It definitely gives you the motivation and encouragement you need for the race. I'm so honored to be part of not only my Iracelikeagirl team but also Alex's Bike Pro Shop team.

 

When a Community Hurts

Last week something tragic happened in our community: Stoneman Douglas High School experienced a mass shooting. There were 17 people who died. The agency I worked for: The Broward Sheriff's Office responded. I couldn't help but cry. 

See, someone knew someone who was affected by this tragedy. Friends called to see if I was okay. They knew the Broward Sheriff's Office responded and some of the people Iknew might be in that building. They were right. I frantcially texted people on my cell phone to make sure they were okay. I knew they wouldn't respond but I didn't care. I just needed to go through the motions. As the news unfolded I was glued to the television just watching what the rest of the world was watching. I felt helpless. I felt vunerable and shaken. The reality sank in. My child would grow up in a world where a school is no longer considered to be safe. A school, a safe zone, was attacked and the lives of these children shattered. The world mourned. Seventeen families were affected. Their loved ones never coming back. It was just too much emotion. It felt like nothing else that I was doing at the moment really mattered. I hugged my daughter so tight that night thinking that in a couple of years I would have to teach her about this ugly world. I fell asleep that night praying.

The next day I woke up to go to work. I knew it was going to be a strange day. News trucks would most likely be outside and people would be coming and out as they were heading/leaving from the active crime scene. I was right. One of the deputies' wives who responded to the scene was still shaken from the day before. He was there, in a classroom, protecting those children. I can't imagine having that much fear that my husband won't come home because of his line of work. It's absolutely heartbreaking. I just hugged her and listened. I didn't know what to do. I just told her to thank her husband for me. Hell, we should thank law enforcement officers and first responders more than we actually do. As I went through my day I felt more and more prouder of my agency and the fact that I worked for them. Barely anyone was in the building that day. Most of them were out on the crime scene or doing something related to the shooting. Still I continued to check up on the people I knew because that's all I knew I could do. 

The next day was a little better. I think what had occurred two days ago had finally sunk in. Everyone had gotten over their shock and numbness and were either angry, mourning or passionate that something needed to change. I returned back to my "happy go lucky" personality and figured I would do what I do best - just try to make the world a little better by being nice, happy and supportive to everyone around me. 

The weekend arrived and there was so much happening in our community: from demonstrations to discussion about issues that should have been discussed a long time ago - it seemed as though everyone in the entire community was talking to one another. Organized events started popping up on social media in memory of some of the people who lost their lives. It was a chance for the community to come together to mourn and remember. It was beautiful. I think as a society we have veered off from being a "community" and instead operate as a single unit/"family" isolating ourselves from the rest of the world. Now a days most people don't know their neighbors. They're so caught up in their day to day that it's hard to make those connections. When out and about it's rare for people to look at one another and say hello or smile, we're so busy looking at our phones instead, completely oblivious to our surroundings. It has to stop. We need to stop and smell the roses. We need to realize that life is way too short to not be in the present. And most importantly, we need to live. 

Although this event will go down in the history books as one of the most tragic events this world has experienced something beautiful has emerged: a community that is stronger than it has ever been before. There are young children who were deeply affected by this that will change this world for the better. They will do more. I just know it. I stand behind them hoping that somehow I will be able to help them.

This past week I actually had a chance to visit the memorial. It was probably one of the most emotional experiences of my life. I had gone to the Run Club less than 2 miles away from the school to talk about my upcoming 5K. Their route passes the highschool and I knew I would finally have a chance to see it for myself. As I made my way towards the school you could see the lights and news crews all around. I could feel my anxiety rising as I ran past it. I felt my feet move faster and faster because that's how I cope with things - I run and I had to run faster at that moment. I turned the corner away from the school and I felt myself slow down for a minute. It was dark and I was unsure of the path so I just let myself get caught up in my own thoughts. I thought things like - how scared must have those kids been? What are they doing right now? As I was lost in my thoughts I saw a sign that read: MAke school safe no guns for kids with flowers surrounding it. I hit the 1.5 mile mark and turned around. As I made my way back towards the school I decided to cross the street to visit the memorial. As I made my way towards the gate I started crying hard. I couldn't comprehend it all. I have never felt my heart hurt so much. At the same time however I felt at peace. I felt as though visiting the memorial is what I needed to start healing. I tried controlling my cries as I made my way back to the route. Once I hit the sidewalk I sprinted so fast. I needed to get it all out and I was trying so hard just by moving my feet as fast as I could. My breathing was heavy and I just cried again. I finally came to a stop light where I had to slow down. I made it a point to calm down and slowly began processing what had just happened. I ran all of the way back just lost in my own thoughts again. 

When I got back to the store I thanked the manager and told him I was really happy I was able to make it out to them. They're holding a memorial run Sunday night I am hoping I might be able to make it. I really want to see the huge turnout they're expecting and I'm hoping my daughter is well enough to participate. Because that's what I do as a runner - I run. I run when I'm happy. I run when I'm sad. I run when I need to figure something out. It's how I live my life and what a beautiful life it has been. 

I know that this blog is supposed to be about my journey to Wilmington 70.3 and this event was just too powerful to not share. Because as much as we talk about the physical part of training we fail to mention a lot of the mental part of training. 

My Story

First and foremost, I would love to thank Red Bull for providing my group, Iracelikeagirl, with this opportunity – a paid entry to an Ironman Event + Red Bull shipments leading up to the event!!!! I just can’t believe I was chosen for this incredible prize!!!! I have to say I was shocked when I was notified because a part of me didn't believe that I would win (I mean I never win prizes haha). But, I'm glad I did - because I think I'm ready to conquer this racing distance again.
So, you might be thinking to yourself, well, what is this girl's story? Here, let me tell you......
I guess you could simply describe me as a mom, wife, employee and athlete.

Becoming a mom has been one of the most important parts of life and has taught me a lot of things about life in general and even about myself as a person. It’s a hard job and you don’t realize how hard it is until you’ve been up with a sick baby all night long only to head into work the next day without really sleeping. My two-year-old daughter is basically a mini-version of myself which means that she NEVER STOPS MOVING, AND as much as I complain, I wouldn’t have it any other way – she’s perfect. And, she’s the reason I’m still participating in triathlons. She watches me train, compete and occasionally become overwhelmed. Through this sport I’m teaching her about hard work, choosing an active lifestyle and that sometimes life can just be hard. I teach her how hard work leads to great results; however, it can also lead you to occasional disappoints – but that’s okay – you just keep working. And more importantly, I teach her that just because you’re a “girl” - it doesn’t mean that you can’t be tough and strong, because you can be.

As a wife, this balancing act is hard. Finding a way to truly appreciate your significant other while being a mom, working and training can sometimes become forgotten. Have I had those moments? Absolutely. However, there are certain moments when I realize how supportive my husband truly is and I can’t help but to appreciate the hell out of him and make a conscious effort to do something nice for him “just because”. Because of him (and my mom), I can train without worrying about my daughter. He’s one of my biggest cheerleaders and knows how important being an athlete is to me. Nothing is truly better than watching him and my daughter on the course. It pushes me harder even when I think I have nothing left.

Being a working mom is something that I’ve come to enjoy. It gives me the adult conversations I crave and helps me to focus on something that ultimately helps the community. I love my job and the people there. They’re basically all my free therapists and have become my second family. I can truly say I enjoy going to work and doing my job.

Lastly, being an athlete has always been an important part of my life. A part of my life that I never wanted to lose once I became a parent. See, it’s easy to have “MOM GUILT” and sacrifice pieces of your life that were important to you because you’re technically away from your child. I struggled with this concept, especially when I first became a mom, but again, my family encouraged me to keep this part of my life – and I’m so glad I did. It helps me become a better mom and let’s me focus on just “me”. What a concept – focusing “on just me.”

So, there you have it folks. A brief summary of my life. I’ll continue to tell you bits and pieces of my life as I blog about my training. As a side note, I’m no stranger to half ironmans. Heck, I thought I was done with them after my last 70.3 this past October. I told myself it was “too hard” to train and compete after being disappointed on my bike time for the race.  But, I recognize I was being a brat and have thought about what race I can aim for next. I even planned my racing schedule for most of the year – leaving the last half of the year open “just in case” I won this challenge. And, I’m so glad I did. So – Wilmington 70.3 – I’m coming for you!

Courage, Confidence and Consistency

Courage, Consistency and Confidence … my mantras for 2018.

cour·age

noun

1.     the ability to do something that frightens one. the choice and willingness to confront pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation

synonyms:

bravery, courageousness, pluck, pluckiness, valor, fearlessness, intrepidity, nerve, daring, audacity, boldness, grit, true grit, hardihood, heroism, gallantry; 

con·fi·dence

noun

1.     the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust.

synonyms:

trust, belief, faith, credence, conviction"

2018 brings with it the CHOICE and WILLINGNESS to confront 140.6 miles at Ironman Lake Placid. Not just about the event but confronting the 6 months of training ahead of me. Being confident I can do it. Being consistent in my training/effort to get me across the finish line. Choice and willingness…no one is holding me to this challenge, this is entirely personal; and, it scares the bejesus out of me!

I’ve been training for a few months now building strength that will get me through this incredible event. When you are in the thick of it you begin to realize that you aren’t just training your body but also training your mind to BELIEVE you can accomplish anything you put your mind/body to! I find this is the place that I get stuck at times, the connection between body and mind. The doubt that enters your brain when you enter in to the 2nd or attempting a 3rd hour on a trainer ride. The 2nd or 3rd workout of the day. The hours spent before the sun comes up and those after the sun is well set and the kids are in bed. In all of these moments of doubt, I remember, on July 22nd, I will hear the words “Colleen Schaible, you are an Ironman”.

I feel very conflicted at times. Who am I? Mom? Director of Sales? Friend? Wife? Athlete? Teammate? Can I truly be all of these? How do you balance it all and be everything to everyone…slightly impossible! For all of the moms out there, the MOM GUILT can sometimes be the biggest deterrent to getting an extra workout in, an extra hour here and there on the weekend. I trust that I'm setting a good example for my boys that hard work and perseverance pay off.  I just have to take it one day at time. Create the schedule, recreate it, and try to nail it all as best as you can knowing that you are giving it your all! And trust in the process, be patient with the progress and thank everyone who is supporting you immensely all along the way. I have to remember I'm blessed to be doing these things, blessed to have this amazing family and network of friends at my side.

One of the biggest additions to my circle of trust and support is my team, coach and mentor. Being a part of I Race Like a Girl has been incredible so far. Triathlon is such an individual pursuit. It’s a very competitive and somewhat intimidating sport, everyone sizing you up when you enter transition to set up your area, pre-checking the participant list and past times, looking at the body marking and fellow age groupers. Being a part of this team for me has shown that Triathlon is so much more than that. I am so in awe on this team that includes women from all walks of life, backgrounds, nationalities, ages, shapes and sizes. Women new to the sport and those who are multi event veterans. This entire community of kick ass women is there to learn from, to lean on for advice, to ask for sanity checks. Our community is incredibly supportive and uplifting! I can't wait until IRLAG takes over the world of triathlon this year! 

COURAGE, CONFIDENCE, CONSITENCY … Ironman Lake Placid I’m coming for you!

Race Report:

January 1st – Winner’s Circle Running Club Hangover Classic 10k

What an incredibly FREEZING race! It was 11 degrees with a windchill of -15! What a way to start the year off right!

Was one of the fastest 10ks I’ve run. 52:49! 9th place in my division – still can’t believe how fast these 40+ year old women are!!

January 20th – Latitude Sports Indoor Triathlon to Benefit Hurricane Relief

So super fun, did the race with several of my friends, some of whom have never been on a spin bike or swam a competitive lap.

Design of the event was to swim as many laps as possible in 15 minutes, bike as many miles on the spin bike as possible in 25 minutes and run as many laps on the indoor track as possible in 20 minutes.

I pushed myself which was a great feeling after so much base building over last few months.
I placed 4th out of 48 participants and won 1st in the 40-49 age group

12/04/2017 04 December 2017 49 Monday Traditions, travel, turkeys ... oh and TRAINING! Colleen SchaibleColleen Schaible Winner of our free Ironman entry from Red Bull! Follow along for her big dance in Lake Placid 2018! 0 5 4 1266679892 /modules/blogs/posts/post1266679868.jpg It's the most wonderful time of the year! In more ways than one you can figure out how much you can truly juggle! 0 triathlon 0 training 0 triathlon training 0 swimbikerun 10/17/2017 17 October 2017 42 Tuesday The Big 4-0…the best is yet to come! Colleen SchaibleColleen Schaible Winner of our free Ironman entry from Red Bull! Follow along for her big dance in Lake Placid 2018! 0 5 4 1266679892 This past few weeks have been quite the emotional roller coaster for many reasons...really for one reason, hitting the big 4-0! I always have celebrated birthdays as a chance to turn the page, reflect on the last year, think on things I would change, do better, do different. This year was especially important as I enter in to a new decade, the one I will say is going to be the best yet! 40 is the new 30 after all. 09/13/2017 13 September 2017 37 Wednesday Pumpkinman Olympic! Angela NaethAngela Naeth 0 7 4 1266679843 Ok, so here’s the skinny on Pumpkinman Olympic 2017, South Berwick, ME… 09/07/2017 07 September 2017 36 Thursday Race Week Jitters Angela NaethAngela Naeth 0 7 4 1266679843 /modules/blogs/posts/post1266679840.jpg Today marks just under a week until a 7:36 a.m. swim start at the 11th Annual Pumpkinman Triathlon Festival in South Berwick, ME. And the RACE WEEK JITTERS have set in. I can hear the voice in my head starting to question…”did I train enough, what about those workouts I missed” “did I train too much, what about the soreness in my quads”, “what about the weather, oh crap, Hurricane Irma!!”, “what if it’s cold, what if it’s windy, what if it’s hot”, “what should I eat, not eat, drink” and of course I start to obsess over my weather channel app on my phone, start to read too far in to things people are posting on group chat pages… 08/15/2017 15 August 2017 33 Tuesday I get to do an Ironman! Angela NaethAngela Naeth 0 7 4 1266679843

Update from Winner Colleen Schaible of our 2017 iracelikeagirl Red Bull Sponsored Ironman Entry - 

It has been quite an exciting July and August! My first season back to participating in Triathlon and it has certainly been an exciting one. Little did I know that when I was introduced to I Race Like a Girl and Angela Naeth that the next few weeks following would be life changing! So, you want to hear the words “You are an Ironman”! well now I have the chance thanks to Angela and our wonderful sponsor in Red Bull! So begins my journey to Lake Placid  2018.


And then there is the “O Shit” moment when you realize, you are on the journey to 140.6 miles in just over 11 months while juggling your full-time job as a Director of Sales for 7 states and more importantly your family life with 3.5 year old twins! How the heck am I going to do this? I barely have time to brush my teeth some mornings, where am I going to find an extra 15 – 20 hours a week to train? Take it one day at a time, plan ahead, work the plan, find some inspiration…that’s easy, my #twinpower… dig deep and then dig deeper. But we’ll get to that…  But first, let’s finish the 2017 season strong!

Next up, the Pumpkinman Olympic Triathlon in South Berwick, ME. This race is in just over four weeks, it takes place in a beautiful setting with a fresh water swim, rolling bike and run. I haven’t had any formal coaching yet this year, just following some online training plans but given the challenge on the horizon, I thought better to start now with some real training plans! So, enter Angela, training peaks, heart rate, nutrition and a week one plan that included over 100 miles on the bike! Giddy Up!
I feel pretty good about my performance on week one. I did miss one swim, life just got in the way, and lost some daylight on my last ride of the week, but legs and lungs felt strong throughout the week.

My biggest realization is my nutrition practices are pretty basic/terrible and that I need to slow my roll on my training runs! This is where the discipline and planning are really going to be important over the next several months. Train like you race, is the new mantra, so will be working on these nutrition practices over the next few weeks leading in to my last two races.

-More to come @iracelikeagirl @redbull #givesyouwings #twinpower

Race Report
Amesbury Dam Sprint Tri 7.8.17

Beautiful day for a Sprint Tri in my hometown! Overcast morning, lake temp of 72, light winds. It is my first official race this season after taking 4 years off following the birth of our twins, Colton Chase. Overall nerves were pretty calm as I had a group of amazing women who had trained together for the event there with me! In to the water we went! I found a fast, clear path to swim and given it is the lake I train in, I felt very comfortable in the water. One of my best ½ mile swims in just over 13 minutes and 2nd out of the water in my wave. Transition felt a little frantic, always my worst Tri leg! The bike felt harder than it should given I know the roads like the back of my hand, averaged just over 17mph on a rolling course. Finally, on to the run, this transition never feels easy no matter the distance. My friends were out on course and that made for an awesome last 2 miles. I averaged a 7:20 which is super fast for me! My boys were there to watch me, which made the race really special! I came in 2nd in my age group for the race! What was more fun is I was able to watch 3 of my friends finish who were first timers! We were all together to enjoy a cold brew on the beach afterwards!

0 triathlon 0 coach
08/01/2017 01 August 2017 31 Tuesday Meet Colleen Schaible! Follow along on her journey! First Ironman! Angela NaethAngela Naeth 0 7 4 1266679843 /modules/blogs/posts/post1266679836.jpg

Meet Colleen Schaible! Our Re Bull Ironman Entry winner! Follow along as she builds toward her first ever ironman! 

First up! A few questions on why Colleen ventured into triathlon, what motivates her, her goals, and advice to share to those reading! 

COLLEEN'S STORY! 

Ok so here’s my story and I’m sticking to it!!!

So my triathlon journey actually began back in 2011-2012 in Upstate NY. I had been an avid cyclist for many years before moving up to Rochester with my husband for work. Cycling in the Finger Lakes is just heaven on earth. Beautiful country roads, pristine glacial lakes, challenging climbs, routes through farms and vineyards…I could go on for days talking about it! I had completed multiple century rides at that point cycling around Lake Tahoe 3x, participating in 2 Livestrong Philly Challenges as well as the NYC Gran Fondo among others! 

In UNY, we connected with a group of cyclists who were on another level, many of whom were seasoned triathletes who had completed multiple Ironman events all around the country. I was in awe of their abilities, their dedication, their support. Not only were these folks insane cyclists but they were incredible people who belonged to an amazing community of athletes! So of course, I wanted in, I wanted to stretch myself to see if I could truly hang with this group! So I started working with a coach.

At the time I wasn’t running so my first two events were Aqua Bike events…I didn’t start small of course, participating in the MusselMan ½ Iron Aqua Bike and then the Ironman Eagleman MD doing the swim/bike portion of a relay. It was an unreal experience! I had the bug. My first full triathlon was the Skinny Man sprint in Skaneateles NY where I was 2nd in my age group!!

That weekend I participated in the “I’m all that” race where I did a Sprint Tri Saturday, a Mile Open Water Swim Sunday morning followed by a midday Hill Climb Time Trial and ending the day with a 4 mile run. It was a very fun summer and I was feeling super energized about racing and pushing myself. I also participated that year in two cycling road races and a few time trials!

So of course like any triathlete who has the bug, I needed to do more, to push harder!! So what would you do, but sign up for an Ironman! Lake Placid Ironman J One of the most scenic and challenging races out there. I went with my team the summer before to a training camp up in Lake Placid and fell in love! 2013 was the year I was going to be an Ironman! But the man upstairs had different plans and instead of becoming an Ironman,

I became a TWIN MOM! Colton and Chase came in to our lives December 13, 2013 and things will never be the same for the better!! I had a challenging pregnancy during which I was not allowed to do much exercise beyond walking, so I ate and rested and ate some more gaining over 75 pounds!

The boys were born 2 months early and the challenges continued as our little man Chase was born with a severe heart defect that was undetected during pregnancy. He underwent two open heart surgeries at 1 month of age and just 4lbs. We owe his life to the incredible doctors and nurses at Boston Children’s Hospital. He finally came home 3 months later and we were a united family.

During Chase’s recovery, I was introduced to a group of women in our area who are all ages and abilities but united by our weekly training runs! Again, the community aspect of sport is what I truly fall in love with time and time again. It was cathartic to meet these ladies at 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. every Sunday and do our long runs together! We vented and laughed and cried even! They have become my best friends.

At that point I had to give something back (and I had to lose 75+ lbs!!). So I began running slowly but surely! Some days the only times the boys slept were when I pushed them in the double stroller for miles and miles!! I completed the NYC Marathon in the fall of 2014 while raising important money for Boston Children’s! It was my first marathon and all dedicated to our little men! Of course, participating in such an incredible event, I started to get the competition bug again J

Being a twin mom and working full time, there isn’t much time left for personal goals but I kept running and inn 2015 ran both the Boston and Chicago marathons. I shaved over 45 minutes off my first marathon time and ran Chicago in 4:20. I started cycling again here and there and realized how much I truly missed it! But there was that “time” issue that after taking a new senior level position at my company in 2016, time was not on my side to even think about much other than running to just keep fitness and stay sane.

Then another major setback for the family occurred in August of last year. My son Chase collapsed in front of me at our home. He stopped breathing and required CPR and needed emergency surgery to replace his pacemaker. Again, our faith was placed back in the hands of the surgeons and nurses at Children’s. I can’t thank them enough for saving our son’s life again!

I set my eyes on paying it forward by participating in the 2017 Boston Marathon and so far have raised over $7500 for them. I was sidelined by injury late 2016 which put my marathon training on hold and I have deferred to running in the 2018 event.

What better way to recover from tendonitis is rest, biking and swimming!

I think my motivation has changed since having children… They are truly my inspiration to continue to push myself, to challenge, to be healthy for them! They always want to see mommy’s medal rack and tell me they want to “run fast like mommy”! I want them to grow up in an environment where they know they can do anything they put their minds to! No matter how difficult or scary the challenge may be.

My son has overcome so many challenges already at just 3.5 years so any pain I put myself through is only a piece of what he has been through. So fast forward to today and I just completed my first full triathlon (sprint distance) and earned a 2nd place age group finish! My twins were there to cheer mommy on!!

I’m also motivated by my age J I turn 40 this year and I want to show people out there that 40 looks darn good!!

I want to continue to work to raise money for BCH and plan to run the 2018 Boston Marathon.

My goals for 2017 include completing 2 Olympic Distance triathlons and a Century Ride event (at least this is what I’m signed up for! Looking for a race in August!!)

My forward looking goals are to finally become an Ironman!! Likely a 70.3 in the near future but hopefully down the line when the boys are older I can go back to that dream of a full at Lake Placid!!

I guess my one piece of advice for anyone who is trying to get in to the sport or who has thought about it is DO IT! The experience is like no other even in a short distance event. The challenge of training and pure joy of the accomplishment of completing a race is bar none. The community of people whom you will meet, the support out there with these groups is amazing! The camaraderie and fun you have training with a group makes getting up at the crack of dawn to jump in a lake or on a bike so worth it! And it doesn’t matter the experience level, the type of gear or the age of the person…just set your mind and goal and you can achieve it! I know so many people who have extra gear, a spare bike, an extra cap or goggles, a spare wetsuit…and they are always willing to share the wealth to see others successful at such a fun and challenging sport.

So I hope that I can make this team proud and I hope that 70.3 dream can come true with an entry from Red Bull and I Race Like a Girl!! ·

0 ironman

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