Friday, January 31, 2014

Is it supposed to fit like this?!

Today I stopped by the bike store to try on the kit for the tri club. This sounds simple enough until you're staring at a hundred pieces of "stuff" trying to figure out what you might want/need!

I decided to keep it simple! I want to have a tri kit to wear for my triathlon this year, and I want a cycling jersey for the rides/races the group does.

So I tried on the tri kit first in a size that seemed reasonable (realizing that tri clothing seems to run so small). The bottoms fit surprisingly OK, except they just don't come up high enough. I've had 3 children. Frankly, I want the spandex to come up to my belly button. It just keeps things in place better! Then I went to put the top on. It was interesting, to say the least. It was fairly tight, but around the midsection only. The part around my chest and shoulders actually seemed a bit loose.

I tried the next size up, and both pieces fit more loosely - but the top was really loose at the top and when I bent over in a swim/bike position, I could see water going down the top and dragging a lot. Blah.

So I tried the first size back on again. Eh.

Decided to try the cycling jerseys. We have two styles to choose from. The first style was a little loose, except around the arms. The other style was tighter around the arms and the length was shorter. I tried both sizes in the other style and was unimpressed. I went back out to see if there was a smaller size to try in the first style, and saw the guy from our tri club (I'm going to call him Mr. T, because he's Trouble LOL).

He and a friend were stopping by on their bike ride - so I got a chance to ask him about the tri kits and how they are supposed to fit. "Tight," he said.  "Really right?" I ask. "Yes, really tight." Okie dokie.

Then he asked if I had tried on any cycle shorts yet (since I was wearing the cycle jersey and the tri shorts). I explained that I am not planning to buy any of the cycle shorts and will just wear my own black cycle shorts (our kits are blue with white and red accents). He said that was a good idea - he wears them with black, except when he does the organized group races, then he wears the full bike kit. Well, shoot.

I grabbed a pair of cycle shorts to try on. See what I mean? Trouble. (Also tried on a pair of arm warmers because he said they are good to have and inexpensive - that was interesting).

So now I have my sizes pulled together, and I have a few days left before the deadline to order. I am trying to sell some of my old running gear to raise money for the kits! Hopefully I can get them all! :)

Mr. T told me that he should have our running shirts tomorrow at the group run! I may have to wear it for my half in a couple of weeks. Of course, now I need a skirt to go with it! Ugh! LOL

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Half a century!

Today the weather was lovely, and I joined the tri club for a group ride. We had a new leader today, and he was dressed out to the nines, like he should be riding at the Tour de France! I was a little nervous, but he was awesome and patient and didn't make any of us in the group feel bad for being slower. He did push our pace a little bit and I was able to keep up just fine. Our overall pace was higher than the last two weeks, but I think it was even higher than my Garmin shows because I forgot to pause my watch during "the incident".

What was "the incident"? Well, I was a dork and decided that going up a massive hill would be a good time to shift chain rings. My bike thought otherwise and the chain came off and got stuck. My pedals simply stopped moving. I don't know how, but I managed to clip out in time -so I didn't fall over. It was a miracle! I was a bit panicked because I was already at the back of the group, and I yelled out that my chain had dropped. One of my new friends who has run and ridden with me several times now stopped and waited, but it was on a hill so I don't blame anyone for keeping on. It didn't take too terribly long and I managed to get it back on. I rode down hill to try to see if it worked, and it did! I felt pretty Tough, I have to admit! I had read a story by Swim Bike Mom about her stopping to help a lady whose chain had dropped in a race and I remembered thinking that I really needed to practice that (as well as fixing a flat). So I had a chance to work on it today.

Our group leader came back just as I was heading up the hill to see what had happened. He talked to me about shifting, and also gave me some tips to help me with the problem of everyone passing me on the downhills only to have me pass them on the up hills. It seems like I'm actually supposed to use that big chain ring - #3 as I like to call it (or, "the one I never use because it's too hard"). But I'm having a harder time keeping up with the group and I really don't think I should be, especially if I'm able to keep up/pass going up hills. So I suppose I need to practice using the big chain ring. Yikes.

We did a little longer route today and it was fun! I am ready to tackle some much longer distances on the roads, but I guess that will have to wait until the time changes and the sun stays out later. Also, the ladies I rode with today talked about doing some massively long distances at the Silver Comet Trail! YAY!! I asked them to please invite me when they do it this summer!

I came home and did the rest of the mileage on the trainer - for a grand total of FIFTY MILES on the bike today! WOW! And I was so surprised at how strong I still felt after the group ride. My cadence was right where I wanted it to be, and even higher since I kept it in the easy gear for this first time doing 50. (And my cadence was pretty good on the group ride as well!)

So now it's time for a Cut-Back Week. This is my first time doing one after only 2 weeks instead of 3, and I think it's a good thing. My body isn't exceedingly tired, but I am mentally tired. It's been hard to get the longer workouts in around school and the family's schedule, especially since the sun isn't up for very long due to the winter. This week will give me a chance to rest my tired muscles, and hopefully not feel like I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off! Remember that resting is a very important part of your training!

Have fun and be safe on your workouts!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Baby, it's cold outside!

Today was supposed to be my first 12 miler of this base-building period! Today was supposed to be the day where I skipped out on my tri club and the flat trail they train on and hit the hills of Stone Mountain.

Mother Nature had other plans.

Earlier in the week, the forecast called for lows in the upper teens and highs in the mid 40s. That's do-able, I thought. I'll just go for my run in the afternoon! I worked it out with the family and all was right in the world.

Mother Nature had other plans.

Somewhere around Thursday, the forecast changed. It was still going to be in the mid 40s in the afternoon, but now there was a Wind Advisory with 20-30 mph sustained winds and 35-40 mph gusts. Now, there are 2 things I do not run outside in: thunderstorms, and wind advisories.

But I WANT to run outside. And I NEED to get some hill training in! (Can you hear me whining??)

So I could go in the morning before the winds started - it would be 17 degrees with a "feels like" of 12. Ugh. 12 miles is a really long time to be outside in those temperatures. And to be outside sweating in those temperatures.

My husband requested that I take my run to the treadmill. And, in the end (as in 6:30 this morning), I took his suggestion. I packed up all my stuff and headed to the gym. Dreading it the whole way.

I arrived shortly after 8 (they open at 8 AM on Saturdays) and it was pretty empty. I took up residency on a treadmill on the 2nd row, closest to the windows. These are rarely used as you can't see the TVs from them. I didn't care. I wasn't there to watch TV! I started a warm-up walk for 5 minutes, and then began to run.

Since I feel so awkward on the treadmill, I always start out slower (around 5.7 mph for run, 3.8 mph for walk) and work my way up (to 6.0 mph for the run, 4.0 mph for the walk). Since this was my long run and the first time for this distance, I decided in advance to stay with the 6/4 mph to force myself to keep a slower pace. That is one huge benefit of the treadmill!

The treadmills at the gym start over at 60 minutes, so I stopped my first set at 5 miles, and then restarted for another 5 miles. Then I started over again for the last 2 miles and a 10 minute cool down. All together (with the walking warm up and cool down) I did 12.94 miles on the treadmill. Another 0.16 miles and I would have done a full half marathon. On the treadmill. And yes I was tempted to keep walking! But I didn't. I was a good, base-building triathlon girl! :)

Surprisingly, the time passed by quickly! I think all of the time I'm spending on the trainer has strengthened me mentally! I felt good the entire time, and best of all - I don't have to spend all afternoon trying to warm up again! That is another huge benefit of the treadmill!

Tomorrow is my long bike ride, and the weather is supposed to be pleasant and non-windy! My plan is to ride with the tri club and then come home and finish out my miles on the trainer. We'll see if Mother Nature cooperates this time! ;)

Enjoy your workouts, and if you're in the 70% of the country that is freezing right now - stay warm!! 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Group ride, again!

So I decided to do the group ride, and then come home and do the rest of my miles on the trainer. It was a beautifully sunny day today, but the wind was pretty intense. But the more I thought about it, the more I decided that I probably need to get out there and ride in the wind. After all, I rode in the rain to practice for those conditions. And someone in the group said something about the bike course in Augusta being windy sometimes.

So off I went!

I rode with a different group of folks because the folks I rode with last week weren't there. But these folks were very nice. One of the ladies is in my running group, so I knew already. These folks were a little bit faster and I think if the wind hadn't been so terribly bad, we could have broken 14mph overall. We were almost to 15 mph average for the first 4-5 miles! This is a "no drop" ride which means we regroup at the intersections so nobody gets left behind. It was fantastic and I'm so glad I went. Everyone is so nice in this group!

Since this is my long ride day, and I don't want to lose my endurance, I went home and did some additional miles on the trainer. I was planning to do 50 total, since I did 45 two weeks ago. But then I started thinking about my cycling miles recently and realized that I added a that 3rd ride last week, and this week bumped it up to 10 miles. And I also added another mile to my brick ride. So that's 3.5 miles already added to my mileage (and really 11 miles added since the last time I did 45). That's way over 10%, so I bumped it down to 45 miles, which is right in line with a 10% increase. Gotta be smart! And I can do 50 miles next weekend! :)

The miles went by remarkably fast, but it did take up the entire afternoon and into the early evening. At least Sundays after church are very laid back in our house so nobody really misses me. But I wonder what I am going to do when I have to add another 20-25 miles to this distance? I guess Sunday will be a long, long day for me! LOL

One more week of build-up this coming week before the next cut-back!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Indian Sprints are evil (but maybe a little fun)

The group run went pretty well this morning. Of course, that's Runner's Amnesia speaking, because immediately after the group run I was telling everyone who would listen that I was going to drop down to one of the lower groups. This is exactly how runners get into trouble. We too quickly forget that "I'm gonna throw up" feeling!

Today, at the group run, we did a 1 mile warm-up run, and then 2 sets of Indian Sprints for a mile each. I had never done Indian Sprints before - you line up and start running, then the person in the back sprints to the front of the group, and when he/she gets there, the person who is now at the back takes off and does the same. You do this over and over and over again.

The problem today (well, one of the problems LOL) was that they combined Group 1 and Group 2. That means the 6-7 minute/mile people, and the 7-8 minute/mile people (me?!) were together. Each time the Group 1 people got to the front, they didn't slow down the pace from their sprint, so it just kept getting faster and faster. Now, you may remember that I don't really do speed training. Especially right now while I'm building my base. So this experience was surreal. I was way out of my league! I missed 2 of my sprints in the first mile, but I only missed the last one in the second mile. Still, at the end of each mile, I felt absolutely horrible. Like I was going to throw up. I do not like that feeling. At all.

After the official run, some of the people did another mile to cool down and I went to my car to get my water bottles to prepare for my 8 extra miles.  I wasn't sure how it was going to go, especially since my legs were pretty dead. But it went OK! I did my 4/1 intervals and except for the horrible, cold wind in places, it wasn't very bad. Even running a 1 mile loop over and over didn't drive me nuts.

So now that I've had time to think about it, I'm wondering if I ought to hang with the fast kids the next time I go? I guess I have to see how I feel over the next couple of days. I really don't want to sacrifice my base building in the name of speed. I wish there was a way to do my long run on another day so I could do the speed drills with the group and then call it a day.

Frozen Niffer! 24 degrees with a 16 degree wind chill at the start! Brrr
Still haven't decided what to do about tomorrow's long ride! I suspect it will be a last-minute call!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Base-building update

This week's training has gone very, very well! Since I am pretty far ahead of the game with my distances, I didn't increase anything that much this week during my regular weekday workouts.

  •  I took the swim up to 2400 meters, and it went smoothly and felt good!
  •  I increased the bike ride on my Brick by 1 mile to 21 miles and I rode 10 miles on the new recovery ride that I started on Thursday afternoon. 
  •  I kept my Monday run and Brick run the same at 6 and 2 miles respectively.
  • I continued my strength training at the same number of sets and reps with the same weight. I think I'm almost ready to go up in the weight! I did change the core routine up and am really loving it. I did add the IT Band Rehab Routine back in which affected my legs a little more than I expected. 
  • I was supposed to resume tap class this week but we didn't do any actual dancing. We tried on our recital costumes (Boy, did THAT make it feel real!) and we spent the remaining time catching up after break. So next week I will have the added leg workout from tap class thrown in the mix. 
This weekend I am still doing 11 miles on my run. I am planning to go to my tri club's group run, and then add in the rest of the miles I need to make it to 11. We'll see how it goes on a 1 mile loop. I may go insane! LOL

I haven't decided yet what I'm doing for my long ride on Sunday. If it's warm enough, I may go on the group ride with the tri club. If it's not warm enough, I will probably do 45 miles on the trainer again. Or if I feel good after tomorrow's long run, I can bump it up to 50 miles. I'm going to plan that one by ear. I learned this week that the Silver Comet Trail is closed until April in the places nearest to me while they do construction and repaving. I don't want to lose the endurance I've built up for distances so I will have to find another place to get some nice, flat distance in. It won't be as convenient, but I will persevere! And surely it can't be as boring as the trainer, right?

I will try to post updates on my longer weekend workouts each evening! Enjoy your workouts, friends!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Facing my fears!

Today was my planned long ride. Since it was going to be a beautiful day - sunny and in the 50s - I wanted to get out of the garage, off the trainer, and out on the roads!! My plan was to go to Stone Mountain and get some hill training in!

But then I saw a post on the Witness Through Fitness Facebook page that they were going to do their group ride in a little more than an hour. Could I get there in time? And if I could, did I want to? I've only ridden in a group one time before that - during the One Can Ride back in November! There were actually lots of folks from this group at that ride! But the difference with that day is that I didn't have to walk up alone. My friend, Jill, was there with me! Could I walk up by myself and join them? I decided to give it a try, but I told my hubby that I would text him if I chickened out and went to Stone Mountain instead! LOL

I pulled up to the parking lot where everyone was meeting, and my heart dropped! It was ALL men, with very fancy bikes, wearing very fancy gear. I was considering pulling right back out of the parking lot when I saw a familiar face - the guy who put the bug in my ear about Augusta! (I do know his name now! LOL) I parked and walked up to him and said, "Before I take my bike off the rack, will there be ANYONE that will be going slow enough for me to keep up?" He assured me that there would be, and in fact introduced me to two sets of groups. My pacing was between them, so I decided to stick with the slower group since I was so nervous (aka scared absolutely to DEATH!).

I'm so glad I decided to be a Tough Chik (I wore my jersey to remind me!) and ride with the club today! My group was a husband and wife couple, and a man on a mountain bike, and me! The husband of the couple kept riding back and forth to make sure that we knew where we were going and that we were all OK! We regrouped periodically at the stop signs, and we saw folks from the other paces occasionally! It was so much fun and the time passed so quickly!

Our ride ended up being almost 24 miles according to my Garmin (which I sometimes forgot to turn off and on and the stops) but 25 miles according to their bike computers. I would have done less than 20 miles if I had gone to Stone Mountain! And this route had some really good hills! The time went by so quickly and I had fun talking to the different folks!

The longest route they do is 34ish miles, but that was the fast group. So I think I will plan to do my long distance ride at the Silver Comet Trail still, so I don't lose my base. And then I will ride with this group on the alternate weeks when I am supposed to do hills, instead of going to Stone Mountain all the time! This group will also add a Stone Mountain ride during the week, but it's in the evening and it's not always sure I can get away in the evenings. I'll just have to play it by ear and make the ones that fit into my schedule!

As a side note, I wore my new Smart Wool socks and my feet were nice and toasty warm on the ride! I hope they work as well in even colder weather! :D

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Part of the club!

Today was the first group run for Tri-ing With God from the Witness Through Fitness club. You may remember that I first got the notion in my head to do the Half Ironman from a comment made at the informational meeting for this club! So before I even went to the first real activity, this club has changed my life! :)

I arrived a little behind schedule because I didn't remember how to get to the park. This is the same park where my daughter played Special Needs Baseball a few years ago, but it's been awhile since I've been there and a major road project has closed/moved the main road I used to get there. So I arrived just about the time they were starting with the devotion and prayer!

Then we took a group picture, which I stole off their Facebook page:

I'm on the right side... I'm wearing a bright blue Sparkle Skirt over black capris!
 Then it was time for a warm-up run on the track around the football field. We were supposed to do this twice, but after the first lap, they stopped us because the bad storms were coming in quickly! Those of us who are newbies had to sign a waiver, and I talked to the guy who mentioned the Half Ironman and told him that I had a bone to pick with him for putting that crazy idea into my head! Then he introduced me to another lady who is also doing her first HIM at Augusta this year, and she hasn't yet done an Olympic distance, either! It seems there are at least 6 folks from this group doing the Half Ironman in Augusta this year!

The purpose of today's run was to put us in pace groups for the future group runs. So we all had to do a one mile run at whatever pace we wanted to do. I didn't want to go too terribly fast because Saturdays are my long run days. I ended up doing my 4/1 intervals, and ended up finishing in 9:45. I hope that will be a good pace. I've never been in a pace group before and I'm a bit nervous. I wonder if anyone else will be doing intervals?!

I had planned on staying at the park to finish the rest of my miles for the day, but the wind was kicking up and the clouds were getting dark, so I knew that I needed to get to the gym and run on the treadmill. I said goodbye and started my trek over to the gym. About 5 minutes after I left, the sky opened up and it stormed like I haven't seen since in awhile! I was so glad that I didn't get stuck running in that. While I was on the treadmill, the lightning and thunder were all over the place! Got the rest of my miles in and headed home! :)

I'm really looking forward to the next group run! I'm a little unsure how it's going to work with my extra miles each week. This park has a one-mile trail, and the idea of doing 11 loops on it is not thrilling! But since there are lots of other folks doing longer distances, surely I won't be the only person with this issue. I'll just have to wait and see how it goes!

It's not too late to join, either! You can send an email to them with your typical one-mile run time, and then join us at Bay Creek Park in Loganville at 8 AM on Saturday!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I want to ride my bicycle...

This is Cut-Back Week, and though that's not usually a time for me to add to my routine, I decided to do exactly that this week! Since I've committed to the Half Ironman distance in September, I really need to amp up my cycling. And from what I've been reading, the best way to do that is to spend more time on the bike. I mean, that's a no-brainer, right?

So yesterday was my regular brick workout (Bike/Run) - but cut down by 75%. Today I did my early morning swim workout, and this this afternoon, I hopped onto the trainer for a short ride. I decided that 7.5 miles would be a good distance to start out with (and next week I'll bump it up by 10% or so). Since I had just ridden yesterday, and also did a lower body workout, I decided to make today's bike ride very easy and gentle. I put it into a nice easy gear and just spun at around 90 RPMs.

The ride felt good and I'm excited to add to my base mileage for the next couple of months!

This weekend is my first run with the triathlon club - and there is a 100% chance of rain! My weather mojo is at work once again! I probably should have told them that I tend to do this to the weather! LOL

In other news, this week is Marathon Week at Walt Disney World! The first ever "Dopey Challenge" is going on right now. It's a 5K today, 10K tomorrow, Half Marathon on Saturday, and Full Marathon on Sunday! You get SIX medals: each individual event, PLUS Goofy, PLUS Dopey.

Yeah, you know I want it! LOL One of these days, I'm sure I'll go down there and get it, too! Maybe it'll be my graduation present in 2016 (since Austin graduates in 2015! LOL).

Friday, January 3, 2014

Winter running and plans

Today was my last long run before the Cut-Back Week. And it was a special run because it was going to be another milestone run for me - 11 miles! The winter weather decided that it wanted to hit Georgia hard today (and in the week to come) so I had a choice to make: run outside in the cold and bundle up, or take it to the treadmill and endure 11 miles of boredom and feeling funky (as I always do on the treadmill). I decided to tough it out, buy a balaclava, and hit the park near my house.

Since it wasn't going to be much warmer as the day went on, and I have a good bit of prep work to do for school (that I've been procrastinating about), I decided to go ahead and get it over with.

I had to take a screen shot because that was just not believable. Now I have proof. And Garmin actually registered the temp at 19 degrees! 

I purchased an inexpensive balaclava at Kohl's yesterday, since I probably (hopefully??) won't be wearing it very often. It is an interesting look, to say the least.

Runner girl or the Unibomber? It's hard to tell!
The sunglasses didn't even last one step on the run. Every time I exhaled, they would fog up! LOL So I put them aside and started. Every time I inhaled, the material around my house and mouth would suck to my face. That was a freaky feeling - like I was suffocating. So I put it down under my nose, which was better... but then the air going into my lungs made me start to feel like I was hyperventilating and/or having a heart attack. It was quite scary! I made the quick decision to switch to 4/1 intervals. When running, I would pull the mask down under my chin, and when I was walking, I would pull it back up again. That seemed to work, and by 3-4 miles in, I was feeling much better.

I forgot to turn my watch back on after a break for some fuel, so I actually ended up going about 4/10 of a mile or so beyond 11 miles. But I shall stick with the Garmin "official" mileage and call it 11 miles total! LOL

I'm not exactly in love with the balaclava, but I think it did its job. I took it down off my head for the last mile and realized quickly how much it had blocked the wind and the cold! I made it less than 2/10 of a mile before I pulled it back up!

So, all in all, it was a great long run - and I'm always excited to add a new mileage milestone! My average pacing was 10:09/mile, which is amazing considering all of the walk breaks. I am going to see how my legs feel today and tomorrow, and if there is a marked difference, then I may go ahead and do walk breaks on all of my runs. I know that sounds funny since I had this "thing" for so long about running a half with no walk breaks to prove that I am "back" - but I'm not so sure I'm hung up on that anymore. Hmmm, I'll have to keep thinking about that.

On that note, I worked on my training plan for January-March. My base building has gone very well, and I'm pleased with that. As I already mentioned, this coming week is a Cut Back Week. I do have one long bike ride left to do on Sunday, but then it's Cut Back time. My next event is the half marathon on my birthday in April. Since I am already up to a long run distance that will get me through the half (and still plan to add another mile or so to that), I do not feel like I need to do any specific training for that. What I do need to work on for the Half Ironman, however, is my cycling endurance and speed. So I am going to add another short ride in the week, on Thursday afternoon/evening. I will start off with 30-45 minutes and build it up, and we'll see how it goes. I'm hoping 3 rides per week will help me out.

Due to adding that in that extra day of cycling, as well as adding to my long ride distance, I have decided to take a Cut Back Week every 3 weeks instead of every 4 weeks. I think my body will appreciate the extra rest during this base building time. And since I am well ahead of my goals for this base period, I think I can safely take the extra rest! Of course, any time I feel like my body needs the rest, I will certainly do it. That approach has worked for the last 3 months, and I see no reason why it won't continue!

Stay warm and train safely, everyone! And remember to have FUN! :)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Goals/Resolutions for 2014!

Welcome to 2014! Can you believe 2013 is over already? I wish I was able to tabulate my total mileage for the year like so many of my friends are doing, but the loss of the Garmin in the summer messed that up. I probably should have estimated so I wouldn't be left with this big blank space where there should be numbers! I guess I could add up all the other numbers and just put an asterisk next to it! LOL Yeah, I'll do that after I finish this blog post! So check back later!

Love this from a 4x Ironman champion!

If you saw my post yesterday, then you know what my BIG goal is for 2014:  Ironman 70.3 Augusta! Yep, I decided to go for it! It was actually my husband who summed it all up for me and helped me make that final decision. Here is what he said, via Instant Message on 12/30:

"You do want to do it.. If you don't, you'll regret it, feel like a failure, blah blah blah... However, if you do it and its not what you thought at least you committed, achieved the goal, and can strike it off the list."

Yep, he pretty much nailed it. I talked to the kids, and got their blessing for the extra training June-September. Well, I got Austin's blessing, anyway. Riley is just looking forward to me being gone more (and out of her hair) and Reece was too busy playing Zelda to really care what I was talking about (though she did say it was fine). I was concerned because in 2011 when I was marathon training and traveling for that, the kids got very upset with me being gone. But, as Riley (almost 15) pointed out: that was 3 years ago and they are much older and different now. I gave everyone until noon yesterday to object, and then I registered at 12:01! :D

My other two goals for 2014 are to complete the Olympic/International distance triathlon (yeah, I signed up for a HIM without having done the distance between that and the sprint. Oops? LOL But does it really surprise you? Not if you've been reading this blog for very long!) and to complete my 10th Half Marathon (which will happen to fall ON my birthday! FUN!).

That's going to be about it for 2014. Ironman is expensive and in order to do it, I will need to save up my race/training budget to pay for the hotel and other associated expenses. My husband gave up his last two days of vacation (cashed out) to cover the very high (Disney high) entry fee. I had already registered for the Half Marathon in April, and I sold running skirts back in the fall to pay for the Olympic distance triathlon(s) I am going to do before Augusta. Other than that, I don't think I'll be racing much this year - definitely not all of the 5Ks that I did this year. Those add up really quickly! But that's OK. I have my eye on the prize - and that's Augusta!

You may be wondering how I'm feeling about pulling the trigger for Augusta since I agonized over the decision so much? Well, the answer is: I feel great! I'm really excited! I'm going to train and prepare the best I can, and on the race day, I will give it all that I can. If I get injured and have to rework my training, so be it. If I get injured and cannot start, that will be disappointing. If something happens and I can't finish, that will also be disappointing. But that's life as a triathlete, and I've come to accept that. I can control the factors I can control - training hard while doing my best not to over train, get enough rest, eat fairly well, learn to take care of the emergency things that may come up on the bike like a dropped chain and a flat tire. But there is much that I cannot control like the weather on race day, an injury that pops up no matter how careful I am, an accident on the bike or run or really anywhere. And if I've learned nothing else in the last 2+ years since my ITB injury it's that I will live through it. The world will not come to an end if I try for Augusta and fail. Maybe I'll try again another time, or maybe I'll decide that it's not a goal I want to shoot for at all. Or maybe I'll surprise myself and surpass my wildest expectations! Either way, I am grateful for the opportunity to attempt it! I'm planning to enjoy the training, even when it gets exhausting and tedious, because it is a privilege to be able to push my body to extremes and I won't take it for granted like I did before!

Before I close out this post, I want to share something interesting that I realized as I was writing my Word of the Year blog post on my family/homeschooling blog. While on the trainer on Christmas Eve, I was inspired to make my Word of the Year for 2014 "Joy". I want to do my best this coming year to be more joy-filled and thankful and to handle the disappointments and challenges in life with more grace. I want my kids to think of their Mom as a person who tried to see the joy in the little things, even when things around are going badly instead of a grumpy, cranky, tired, and frustrated person who gets overwhelmed easily. Yeah, that describes me pretty well - and I don't like it. And I don't have to let it stay that way. God has shown me so well in the last few years that He loves me and that He can change the way I approach life if I trust Him and have Courage and Hope! No, that doesn't mean that life is going to be easy peasy and that I have to love everything that happens to me, good or bad. There is sorrow and sadness in this world for myself and people that I love. But I can still live a life filled with the kid of joy that is not related to the circumstances of life that surround me.

So what makes that so interesting? Well, as I was writing that post - I realized that I had chosen "Joy" and the same representative verse from James during 2011. Yeah, that 2011. The one where I was training for the marathons and got injured and was unable to complete my goal of becoming a Marathon Maniac. Was I joy-filled in 2011? Especially the last 4 months? That would be a resounding NO! My first thought when I realized that was, "Oh, that's a bad omen. I have a big personal goal in this year, too, and the Word of the Year is the same?? Does that mean that I'm going to fail this year, like I did in 2011?" That lasted for a few minutes, I will admit. But then, it started to dawn on me... I'm not the same person that I was in 2011. I have said over and over how much God used my injury to change me into a new, better version of the Niffercoo I was before! I am stronger - spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally. I went through what I thought was the WORST thing that could ever happen to me as an athlete, the failure to reach a goal I had set for myself. But what I learned through that experience has marked me and changed me. So even if the same situation happens again - I do not reach my goal of completing Ironman 70.3 Augusta - it won't BE the same. It will all be fine. I know that the finish line is only part of the story. And as long as I do my best, as I mentioned above, it's going to be a great story! Hopefully, I won't be too tired to tell it! :)

Happy New Year! Thanks for letting me share my story with you!