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Evelyn Darbut

Iron-mama Blog – from Ironman to Pregnancy and Back

          

Evelyn DarbutEvelyn Darbut

Dear Hurricane Florence

I am four weeks from my fourth half ironman. I have to say when I first started this journey I was pretty excited, but as I get closer to race day, I have to say I just want to get this whole thing over. Now, for the kicker - my race venue is being hit by a hurricane at the moment. There is a possibility my race can get cancelled; I'm just waiting and seeing. 

If my race gets cancelled I'm not too sure of what I'm going to do. My body is worn and I am tired. I have a lot of aches and pains I'm ignoring that I really need to focus on. After my race I was planning on taking two full weeks off from at least running and probably do something like a Jillian Michael's DVD workout. Heck, I might even take 3 weeks off and do the Shred DVD. 

So far I've been trying to follow my training plan to a tee, but it's been really hard. Between Greg being in busy season and getting promoted, to my child just being a crazy little toddler who still doesn't sleep well - it leaves me drained. Now, I'm really proud of myself for how hard I've been working so don't think I'm all doom and gloom over here. I know I'm a beast and mentally it helps me cope with all the stresses of my life. It's also been a nice break from the work day when I train during lunch. 

So, in a couple of days I'll know the verdict - am I racing or not..... If I'm not, do I make up a race course and just race?! OR do I switch it to another race next year? I guess in a couple of days I'll find out....Let's wait and see.....

Not So Glamorous

The truth is training for a half ironman is hard. You sacrifice a lot. Sometimes you sacrifice weekend plans; sometimes you sacrifice sleep. I mean if it was easy, wouldn't everyone do it?

I'll be the first to tell you that during the training season, I get tired of it all. I get tired of the schedules, the work and the sacrifices. I have a lot on my plate and sometimes the thing that gets sacrificed first is my sleep. There are only so many hours in the day and that is the one thing that has to give. Now, don't get me wrong - once I get on that bike or on the treadmill, I feel alive. Suddenly, everything fades away and I find my inner peace; I absolutely love it.

For the most part I try to train in the morning. I've found a routine that works for me and I'm going to stick to it until the race. However, there are definitly times when my body is just tired and/or I just don't feel like swimming and that's okay. We all go through it. We just go out there and get it done and put those miles in our training log.

Now, it's easy to quit. It's easy to just say I'm not going to do this today. But, let me ask you something.... have you ever gone in to a race unprepared? Because I have and it royally sucks. Half way through the race you literally feel like dying. You either pray for a car to hit you or consider stopping and receiving the notorious DNF next to your name. Let's be honest you're to proud for either so you continue to feel miserable until you collapse past the finish line. You make it but all of that fun you were supposed to have along the way just doesn't happen.

Now, when you train like you're supposed to, racing is fun. You're body is ready for it and welcomes the challenge. It thinks to itself - I've got this - let's see how fast we can go this time. You are placed in an environment where other crazy individuals like yourself are at the exact place at the exact time. It's incredibe. You smile along the way. When you finish - you're damn proud of yourself because you know how much time, effort and drive it took to get to that finish line. And that my friends, is what it is all about. I've got almost one month left until this is all over and a part of me is glad. I'm tired. But, once it's all over I know I'll probably want to do it all over again.  

Birthday Race!

Today was such a fun day! Not only is it my birthday, but it's a day where I got to race with my teammates and assess where I am in my training and rehab.

It's been a couple of weeks since I graduated PT. I had been working with my PT for about two months and had a pretty aggressive treatment plan. Because of my activity level and competitiveness, they were worried I would quickly reinjure myself. The plan was to maintain my current home therapy exercises and focus on centralizing the pain with the Kenzie method. Physical therapy definitely taught me a lot. Not only did it make me realize that I am deficient in certain areas of my body (hips/glutes), it also made me realize how important strength training/core exercises are to our bodies and backs. 

Although I'm not nearly as good as I should be in completing my strength training, I've definitely incorporated a lot of strengthening exercises to my workouts. I've been training hard and even decided to hire a coach (yay Angela) to help get me through my Olympic triathlon as a guide to an athlete that is disabled as well as my half ironman two weeks. Hiring a coach has definitely been a game changer for me. Not only has it forced me to get into the pool a lot more, it's been nice to follow the workouts someone else has scheduled for me. Now, I haven't been able to follow every workout to the tee, but I've tried my best. 

We are now about 2 months away from my half ironman and I really wanted to see how I could perform in an Olympic triathlon. I had my eye on this race for a while because my team: Alex's bike shop would have a huge turnout AND because it was my birthday. I always wanted to do a race on my birthday. 

Two days before the race I brought up the race to my husband again. Because of our schedules I knew it would be hard to figure out the logistics for race day. Our whole house has been sick too so I wasn't sure if health wise we could pull it off. Right before putting my daughter to bed he popped in his head to ask me which distance I wanted to do. I was ecstatic. He would pull it off for me.... and this is why I love him. Yesterday (the day before the race) I spent most of the day freaking out about the bridges I would need to cross and dealing with all the pre-race jitters. 

Getting to the race was pretty easy and surprisingly enough parking was ridiculously easy as well. I love races where I don't have to sweat the small stuff like parking. I set-up all of my equipment in the transition and went to go look for the team. Once I found them all of the jitters came on in full effect. I started pacing back and forth until the start. Right before the start we gave each other pep talks; I was ready. 

The water was PERFECT: calm and warm. I had my typical slow start but was able to get comfortable and actually find a rhythm. Swimming is not my strongest sport and I swear no matter how many time I train, I never get any better. I was able to comfortably get to the finish and carefully out of the water. I ran hard into the transition area and headed off to the bike. 

The bike scared the bejesus out of me. I had to go over one of the biggest bridges in South Florida - FOUR TIMES. I swore I was just going to topple over because of how slow I would be climbing that bridge. As I started my bike I felt extremely confident and told myself the bridge wouldn't be so bad. I slowly climbed it - but hey- I didn't topple over.... It was all good, until I found out I was ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE COURSE!!! I was able to cut across but I definitely had to slow down and cut in. The rest of the course was uneventful but it made me realize how weak I was in climbing hills LOL. I mean I knew I was, but now, I really know I am. Since I will be on the same course in a couple of weeks for the Olympic tri as a guide, I know I have A LOT of work to do in the climbing and strength training department. I finished the bike with a smile on my face and quickly transitioned to my run. 

The run is what made me the most nervous. This is the point where my back starts giving out. I have been training a lot on HR zones and not so much distance and speed. I was curious on how much my legs and back could take. I knew I had to start off slow and steady because if I went out too fast I would quickly crumble and probably injure myself in the process. As I set out, I was able to hit under 10 minute miles. My true goal was to finish the 10K in under an hour. About halfway through I knew I could keep it up and just focused on breathing and putting one foot in front of the other. At around mile 5 my body started to feel the full effects of the run. I was starting to tingle and felt really fatigued. I kept telling myself to keep running and not to stop. I'm so glad I listened. I couldn't sprint at the finish and that meant I knew I had given it my all. I worked really hard and I was proud of myself. I beat my original goal of 2:30 with a 2:22. Although I placed last in my age group, I knew those girls in front of me trained harder and longer. Begrudgingly I accepted that LOL. 

Overall I'm happy with myself. I know what I need to work on and will talk to my coach about a plan of action. I will also strength train more and stretch better. I'm also happy to get 20 more miles in for our 250 mile bike challenge HAHAHA. Next race up: Escape to Miami. Can't wait to tell you all about my training along the way <3

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 :) 

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!

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