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ironman

Iron-mama Blog – from Ironman to Pregnancy and Back

          

ironman

Iron(wo)man -> Pregnant at 41! WHOA!

What a roller coaster of emotion the last few months! The highest highs to some pretty low lows. After the high of completing a very challenging FIRST EVER IRONMAN 140.6 in Lake Placid, I had never felt better. I had never been in better shape, been happier with my return to endurance sports and taking them to the next level, my new coach and team, WOW what would 2019 bring!!! 

Then...wham...I'm pregnant!! what did you say, yep I'm pregnant!!

The weeks following Ironman were very confusing for me to say the least. First, I just thought that my post Ironman hangover/depression was just hanging around for an extra long time. I just couldn't find my mojo or get my energy back. Then I found myself spontaneously napping on my home office floor for 20-30 minutes at a time. wait a minute...I started putting 2 and 2 together. I remember this fatigue from 6 years ago. I remember this nausea from 6 years ago. But I can't actually be pregnant? I just finished one of the hardest events of my life! Yep sure enough, after two home tests and a visit to the doctor I was about 7.5 weeks pregnant! almost 41 years old with almost 5 year old twin boys and now another on the way. 

talk about life changing events! I've had to reset my brain a few times over the last several weeks...now months. selfishly I was starting to really like my life again, the boys were getting older, in school, I had been able to return to racing, my job was going well...then the "mom guilt" sets in and I feel horrible for even having these thoughts. Time to reset to understanding that this is truly a blessing and now my #1 goal in life is to raise a healthy baby and take care of myself! Pregnancy at this age can be challenging but I was determined to continue to do the things I love like running, biking, swimming!! the things that my life outside of work and kids is centered around. I wanted to be one of those people who could blog about the 100s of miles I ran while pregnant! Since times had changed since the twins were born, there aren't now heart rate restrictions to follow, its all about perceived exertion. Exercise is encouraged! Yahoo! In my first few months, I was able to place 3rd in my AG at Lobsterman Triathlon (12 weeks), 3rd in my AG in a local 10k and then I rode 60 miles in the King Challenge bike event...everything was going just awesome! 

well, my body had other ideas about how well things were going...enter the exercise restrictions...enter the scary prognosis that my cervix was thinning too early. enter the low lows again. enter the resetting the brain to the #1 goal of growing a healthy baby who stays in the oven until its safe to come out. I spent way too much time with the twins in the NICU, its not worth the trip back there with a preemie. enter coming to terms with weight gain and only walking as my exercise.

but also enter the joy of feeling my baby GIRL kicking and seeing her on the screen growing before my eyes. She is truly an amazing blessing for this family! I'm excited to continue to write about my journey and would love to hear feedback from all of the other badass mommas on this team! 

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

Meet Colleen Schaible! Follow along on her journey! First Ironman!

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!! ·

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