Saturday, September 29, 2012

CMT Awareness Month

I haven't been doing much lately. I squeezed in one short easy jog and a swim last week, then my body went into full protest mode and caught a cold that is just sticking around. I have been itching to get back into the swing of things, but after a long heart to heart with Sonja, I decided that instead of trying to add on another race this year and dig myself into a deeper hole healthy-wise, I will officially declare the off-season here. I am looking forward to running some trails without my HR monitor, getting my zen on with some yoga, seeing how sore Crossfit actually makes me feel, and whatever else floats my boat.

You might be wondering why I'm talking about my own training (or lack thereof) with a title like CMT Awareness Month, right? Well, Charcot Marie Tooth disease is a nerve disease that impacts 1 in 2500 people. People with CMT have difficulty transmitting signals to their muscles that results in muscle atrophy which keeps them from functioning as easily as the rest of us. While I am itching to get back to my usual training schedule, many people with CMT have little hope of regaining the muscle loss they have experienced. My friend, Donna D., lives every day with challenges that many of us will never face, yet she lives, truly lives, a life that pushes her past her limits. You can learn more about Donna at her website, Beating Limitations

The Charcot Marie Tooth Association is currently funding over 50 different research initiatives that cover all aspects of CMT, including trying to find a drug that can halt the progression of this disease.  So when Donna put out the challenge to Team Rev3 to help build CMT awareness during the month of September, it was a no-brainer for me. Donna is generously donating $10 to the Ulman Cancer Fund (Rev3's chosen charity) for every team member who blogs about CMT. If that isn't a win-win, I'm not sure what is.

What can you do to help? Visit the Donna's page at the CMTA website. Learn about ways you can support people with this disease. I am a firm believer in the notion that every dollar counts. 

And live your life with gratitude for what you are able to do each and every day.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rev3Tri Cedar Point: The Run

A quick change in the transition tent and I was off on the run!! I have to tell you I was so happy and excited during probably 95% of this race. I could not stop smiling and almost every single picture taken of me during the race, I am literally beaming from ear to ear. I think that is something that sticks out to me the most. I really remember feeling so much gratitude all day long that I was even able to do such a thing.

Getting some high fives from Noah heading out on the run.

Unlike the bike, where I had a pretty concrete plan, I knew the run was going to be a bit more unpredictable, only because this was the first time I had ever put all of it together. The thing about going long is that you really have to trust the training because race day is pretty much the only day you are going to get a chance to really see how it all pans out. My plan was to gradually build up to my desired heart rate and then hold it steady, stick with my nutrition plan, and see what happened.

The first 4-5 miles felt so amazing. I reached my goal HR around the end of the first mile and was able to tick off 6 pretty even miles at a pace that was a bit faster than I had expected. Since I was still right in my HR zone, I went with it knowing that I would most likely just slow down from there. I got a huge boost around mile 2 when I saw Team Rev3 Mama Bear, Carole Sharpless, and got to give her a huge sweaty hug. After the first easy miles, I felt like I really needed to use the bathroom. I wasn't in any sort of GI distress, I just had to go. I made a quick stop in a port-o-potty (or potty rockets, as Noah once called them) with no success. For the next few miles, I slowed just a bit while I sort of obsessed about every single bathroom I passed - should I go in this one? no. okay the next one? the next one? here it comes, am I going to go in it? It was actually kind of funny how much the decision weighed on my mind. Finally I just decided that I was going to go in and not come out until I had taken care of business. That was my slowest mile of the race (13:09)  right around mile 10, but it was a great decision. I felt so much better afterward.

The rest of the first loop was uneventful. My feet and legs were definitely hurting, but I wasn't even noticing my knee that had had me worried on the bike. I was like a woman with a mission at each aid station - "WATER. SALT. COKE." I started switching back and forth between coke and a nip of gel from my flask at each station and that was working great. My pace was holding steady, and I was looking forward to seeing the boys at the turnaround. Also during the first loop there were some great spectators including Tim and Greg, who really gave me some great motivation. I kept seeing this older couple on every corner, and they started giving me big cheers and some cowbell each time they saw me.

As I swung into the turn-around and special needs, I got to see Ryan and Noah for some high fives and sweaty hugs. Every time I saw my family, my mom, dad and sister, Kel and the boys, I would get kind of emotional. It was just so amazing to be out there and having such great support. It really means a lot to me.

At special needs I grabbed my Pringles which, as it turns out, I had absolutely no desire for, my 2nd gel flask, and some more salt. Then I got to pass by everyone again and Kel gave me a big kiss. The perfect way to start the 2nd loop!

Once out of the park, I really got a second wind and was able to run a little harder with my HR just a bit higher. I felt so good. The one thing that didn't feel good were my lips. They were so chapped and I was dreaming about some chapstick. I decided at the 2nd aid station to just ask if any of the volunteers had any. Everyone was saying no (can you blame them, really?) and then, like an angel of light, Mama Bear Carole says to me, "Just keep running. I'll catch up and you can use mine." It was the best chapstick EVER!! I saw her a few more times through the 2nd loop and every time she let me have a hit of that chapstick. I owe you one, Carole!!

I started really focusing on nutrition at this point, and every time I crossed a mat I would think of all the people at home following me online. I would actually say, "Hi, guys. I'm doing great! Thanks " Throughout the run, I would run with other people here and there, but for the most part I was on my own, doing my own thing. I did have another mild obsession with the bathrooms on the second loop, but I'm not sure why - still haven't figured that one out yet. I was still surprised to see my pace, albeit slow for compared to some, was staying extremely steady, and as I hit mile 20, my goal was to just keep on keeping on. I started counting down the aid stations. I started thinking about my kids and my family waiting for me at the finish line. And I just kept on running.

The last mile was a wave of emotion for me. I turned in the park and knew I was almost at the end of the day. There was a blue path through the parking lot and I remember thinking, "I'm really doing this. I'm really going to do this!" I started to get choked up and then I saw Kel and the boys waiting to run me across the finish line. Ryan grabbed my hand, Noah took off and jumped over like 3 cones and Kel was running beside me. I heard Stu yell my name and hold his hand up for a high five, and I crossed the line and yelled, "I did it!! I did it!!" My family was screaming and I was laughing and my kids were laughing and Kel was laughing. I had no idea what my time was. I had no idea if I had won my division. At that moment all that mattered was I was with my family on a day that I will remember forever. An epic lifetime moment.

"I DID IT!!"

Special thanks to Rev3Tri for providing FREE (yes, free) finisher's photos for all athletes on race day. I think the look on my face on the last one says it all.

Final Time: 12:45:09, 1st place Athena, 22/92 women, 154/359 overall

A day like this doesn't happen without a lot of work and a lot of support from a lot of people. I cannot say enough about my wonderful husband who picked up a lot of slack while I was out riding 100s of miles each week, who never complained about me being gone on another run, who encouraged me and supported me through each and every mile of this year. I love you so much, Kel. Also my family, Ryan and Noah, you are both my heart. Ryan, you gave me the courage to begin this crazy journey and Noah, your hugs have powered me more than you will ever know. To my mom, dad and sister, thank you for coming out to cheer me on, thank you for taking care of the boys so I didn't have to worry about them at all during the race, and thank you for loving me just as I am.

Thank you to all of my peeps who were cheering me on. Team Trimommy ROCKS!!! Here are a few pics, but I know there were so many more of you. I felt you pulling me to the finish line all day, and I thank you for all the notes, emails, facebook messages, tweets and texts that kept rolling in throughout the weekend. After the race I spent more than an hour reading everything.

Mary and Erin in Kentucky.

Kristin getting her sweat on in Albany.

Debbie prayed for me at church!!
Annie raced her 1st sprint in her Team Trimommy shirt!!
Check out that smile!!
Also a huge thank you to my coach, Sonja, who believed in me and supported me and taught me during this whole process.

And, of course, my amazing sponsors, Rev3Tri - I have no words. Seriously. Thank you. PowerBar fueled me. Pearl Izumi, Swiftwick, Normatec, Blue Seventy, TriSwim, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Rev3Tri Cedar Point: The Bike

With lots of cheers from Kel, I was off on the second leg of my day's journey. The morning was actually a bit chilly, but since the sun was out I decided against arm warmers. My arms were totally fine, but my toes were a little numb for the first hour or so. I wasn't too worried about that since I knew I would have plenty of time to get warmed up.

My plan was to go pretty easy for the first two hours, take it up a tiny bit for the second 2 hours, and then for the final 2+ hours take it up one more notch. The hardest part about a plan like this is accepting the fact that you will be getting passed...a lot. In the first 22 miles I got passed by 82 people. In the next 26 miles I got passed by 19 more people. I was totally prepared for all the passing. Really. I was doing great. I did speed up to pass a herky-jerky guy during the first 10 miles or so. He was just making me nervous. I was so worried he was just going to fall over. After that, I was content to stick in my HR zone and watch everyone go by. That is until a very large man with a very large belly passed me while we were going up a hill. At that point, I have to admit, my ego took a bit of a blow. I sped up (outside of my HR zone) and passed him handily. "Ah. Now I'm good, " I thought, until he passed me again about 2 minutes later. I just had to let it go.  I didn't see him again until special needs where I noticed him standing next to his bike on the ground eating a hamburger. True story.

Speaking of special needs, the funniest story of the day happened here. My volunteer was a teen-aged boy, probably about 14 or 15. You could tell he was not one of the cool kids, so I immediately bonded with him in my heart. He was holding my bag as I was digging through. I grabbed my waffle, my extra bottle, sprayed some sunscreen and then grabbed the most desired thing in the bag - my lube. Then I realized what I was about to do in front of this innocent child. I said, "I'm so sorry for what I'm about to do in front of you." He graciously turned his head and turned bright red while I stuck my hand down my shorts! There was a woman witnessing the whole thing and she was cracking up. I asked her if she was his mom, and she said no, but that she would let his mom know what a gentleman he was!! Hysterical!

I was also able to ride a bit (legally, of course) with my teammate, Jamie, who was also doing her first full. She was cracking me up because I passed her at an aid station with some concern because she was stopped. After she caught up to me, she said she was just turning on her phone so she would have some tunes!! We had a nice laugh about that and were able to leap frog each other until special needs. A lot of my thoughts during this first part of the ride were centered around how excited I was to be doing this. I was all smiles and having a blast.

Just before special needs, I had started to pick it up a bit and this was a bit of a hard patch. I was keeping within a very tiny HR zone, and it was a challenge to stay right inside of it. There was also quite a bit of wind at this point as well. I don't think I was able to execute this portion quite like I wanted to and ended up riding a bit easier than I had planned, although it was at this point that I started to pass people, which was a big boost. I passed a church with a sign that said "Are you ready?" And I yelled, "I am so ready!!" There was also quite a bit of wildlife to keep us entertained. I remember passing an alpaca farm, what I think was a llama, some clydesdales (horses - not men), some miniature horses (so tiny and strange), a candy corn family, and a lady dressed like a cow.

Right before the beginning of the second loop, Chris McDonald flew by me on his way towards the run and that gave me some energy to forge ahead to the second loop. Around mile 80, I took it up another notch and really started flying by people, mostly men, but also a few women. I was getting a bit fatigued and noticed that if I sat up my right knee was feeling very tight. That had me a bit worried, but I just focused on staying in aero position as much as possible, because that didn't bother me at all. At this point, I really felt like I was working. I had been staying right on top of my nutrition (thanks, PowerBar!!) and was still feeling good, but when I passed the "Are you ready?" sign, I answered with a "Yes! I am ready to be off this bike!" It's amazing how your perspective changes after 5 hours. :) I stayed steady with my nutrition, kept pushing, and worked really hard to keep pushing ahead. As I rode the last 5 miles towards transition, I kept thinking that I was very proud of my effort and my pacing. Just for a bit of perspective, I started the bike as the 12th overall woman. In the first half 10 women passed me. In the second half, I passed 9 of them back. Bam!

I was so happy to see the roller coasters of the park in the distance. I readied my mind and my body. Feet out of the shoes, smile on my face, slow down and off the bike, and it's time to run!!

to be continued...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Rev3Tri Cedar Point: The Swim

I had very few thoughts before the race began. I knew that I was going for the Athena win (or the goddess division, as I like to call it.) The week before the race I was hovering right around 152 and after a talk with Sonja we decided I should race Athena (women weighing over 150) because that would drive my competitiveness a bit more. But, really, I wasn't even thinking about that. I just kept thinking, "I am doing this. I am really doing this!!!" Before I knew it, we were all walking into the water to the starting line and then the horn went off and my race began.

I had planned on starting out nice and easy since, well, it is kind of a long day, so I lined up in the middle and walked the first few shallow yards of the swim. I started swimming and all of a sudden I found myself caught up in a group of very large men that were swimming all crazy. It got quite physical for a while and I might have thrown a few good kicks in there to get a couple of those guys off my back. I worked really hard to not let it get to me, and a couple of times I just stopped to let them go. I think the problem was I was actually swimming a bit faster than they were and as I came up behind I was just struggling to get through. Once I got to the first turn I swam a bit wide and things calmed down considerably and I was really able to get into a nice steady rhythm.

Before I knew it I was back at the start buoy to begin the second loop. I waved at the cheering crowd like I was a rock star and then dove back into the water. I made the mistake of taking off my goggles while I was walking and when I started swimming again they filled up with water, so I had to stop to fix them. Once that was fixed, I was good to go, and I really started digging into my stroke a bit more and swimming a little harder. After the first turn I felt totally alone for the rest of the swim. I'm not sure if it was that I was swimming a bit wide or what, but at one point I seriously thought I had made a wrong turn. But then I spotted the swim finish way in the distance and knew I was on track.

After the initial rough start, this swim felt fluid and easy. I never once got tired or had the thoughts that this was a long way. I really enjoyed it and as I got to the end I was looking forward to seeing Kel and getting on the bike. Long before the swim was done, I could hear the crowd screaming and that was really awesome and motivating. When my hand touched bottom, I got up and ran up the beach into transition. I saw Kel right before I went into transition, and I remember him yelling, "Great swim, Kel!!"

Swim time: 1:16:18, 1/6 Athena, 13/92 Women, 72/355 Overall

I grabbed my bag, ran into the tent, and the most awesome volunteer became my brain for the few minutes I was in there. She stripped my wetsuit, sprayed me with sunscreen, helped me put my shoes on as I threw on my jersey (I had decided to race in my jersey so I wouldn't get too much sun and also have more pocket space), and then packed everything else away as I left. (Just a note that there was just one other person in the tent when I was there and it just happened to be one of my Rev3 teammies, Kimberly. It was awesome to have a friend in there!!)

I grabbed my bike and all of a sudden I was off on the longest bike ride of my entire life!!

to be continued...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Rev3Tri Cedar Point Race Report: Pre-Race

I have been thinking about writing this race report for months. On every long ride I would imagine how the words would just flow about such an epic day, and now that the day has passed I'm finding the writing much more difficult than I expected. I'm positive that there is no way I can put together words that can accurately describe my emotions and feelings of the day, but yet, I will try because I want to remember as many moments as I can.

The week of the race began with an ominous start. A tickle in my throat progressed to a full on cold by Monday and I started to get nervous. Tuesday and Wednesday I woke with symptoms that were worse and headed to the doctor.  Armed with antibiotics and an array of home remedies I went to bed, but by Thursday I made the decision to cancel everything on my calendar and spend the day in bed. Finally on Friday, I was feeling a little better but not 100%, but my time in bed and not doing anything had another effect. I was feeling very achy and creaky in my left lower back with pain radiating down to my left knee. I get this periodically when I am not doing as much, and I think it is nerve related. The pain doesn't bother me at all while I am working out, but if I am sitting still or trying to sleep it is unrelenting. Needless to say, the car ride on Friday was a challenge and I got very little sleep on Friday and Saturday evening.

Add into all of this that Ryan was sick and threw up about an hour after we got to Ohio, I was pretty freaked out. I just kept thinking that I couldn't believe all of this was happening so close to my race. Then I felt terribly selfish for thinking that when my child was sick. Then I went back to freaking out again. Fortunately, it seemed to be a quick passing thing and Ryan was fine in the morning.

On Saturday, I tried to stay in bed but was awake by 7 and downstairs by 7:15. I was excited to see my family who had gotten in late Friday night. I spent most of Saturday morning chilling out at the house we rented eating carbs and catching up with my sister. I was surprisingly calm about the race and seemed to be more obsessed with making sure that everyone was going to be okay while I was racing. Finally my mom just said to me, "Kelly, we are going to be fine. The boys are going to be fine. We'll be able to figure everything out." I think one of the hardest things about this weekend was just letting this stuff go and trusting other people to make sure everything was okay while I was racing.

Around 12:30 I headed over to the expo to check in and listen to the athlete meeting. As soon as I got out of the car, my stomach did a flip-flop and the race nerves definitely set in. It became so real at that moment!! I got all of my stuff done, checked in the bike, got lots of hugs from my awesome Rev3 teammates, and then headed back home where I laid in the bed in my Normatec Recovery boots and checked in with coach for some last words of encouragement.

While Kel and my mom cooked up dinner I began organizing my transition and special needs bags. It was pretty easy since I had made up lists before hand, but still stressful because I was just worried that I had forgotten something. Sonja had already talked me out of having extra contacts in every single bag, but the first time is tricky.

Once the dinner was in my tummy and all the bags were packed and lined up like soldiers ready for battle, there was nothing I could do but head off to bed. I got in some good snuggles with the boys, read a little in bed and was asleep by 9 or so, aided by a couple of advil to take the edge off the pain in my knee.

I actually slept pretty good and woke up around 2:55 a.m. and never really went back to sleep. My alarm was set for 4, and I ended up getting up around 3:45 for good. I was surprisingly calm and excited at the same time and just ready to get going!

Kel and I headed down to transition, and I turned in all my bags, pumped up the wheels, loaded the nutrition, and all the other little things you have to do race morning (I had made a list so I wouldn't forget anything.) I was done way early, so we went back to the car to hang out where it was a bit warmer until it was time to walk down to the swim start. I was really glad to have Kel there with me, and we just sat together in the warmth of the car in comforting silence.

Before I knew it, it was time to get the wetsuit on and head down to the swim start which was about a half mile walk down the beach. I ran into Tim and Jaime before we headed down, and it was so nice to have some of my Rev3 teammates with me.

As we walked to the water, the sun was rising and the sky was so beautiful I could hardly believe it. Today was my day and it was about to begin.

to be continued...

Monday, September 10, 2012

It is 5:38 a.m. the morning after I finished my first full distance (140.6) triathlon. I am sitting in the dark with ice on my knee listening to my family sleep all around me, but sleep will not come to me. I am tired and sore and proud and happy and overwhelmed with the amount of support, cheers, words of encouragement, heartfelt messages, and more all of you have sent, tweeted, facebooked, and texted.

I will write up a race report with the nitty gritty, but I just wanted to write a few things that I've been thinking about.

Yesterday was a day of magic and joy and gratitude for me. It was about trust and determination and believing in myself. I thought of so many people to help get me through. I smiled and I laughed and there were a few tears of joy in there as well. More than my finish time or place, which I am overjoyed with, I am the most proud that I stayed positive and had fun the whole day. That's not to say there weren't challenging moments (there were a few!), but I wanted to live yesterday like my last breath was a breath away, and I absolutely did that.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Follow Me on Sunday!!

You know that feeling of the click-click-clicking up the first hill of a roller coaster after you have waited in line for like an hour? The feeling that says, "Why, why, why are you doing this? What have you done?"

I'm not feeling that at all about race day. I'm ready. I'm rested. I have put in the work, and now it's time to go out there and do it! There will be no free-falling on Sunday. (And, for the record, I get that feeling every single time I go on a scary ride...which I will be doing none of this weekend.)

Am I nervous? Sure I am, but am I regretting my decision to do this. No way. I cannot WAIT!!

I have been fighting off a cold this week (which has probably freaked me out more than the thought of 140.6 miles on Sunday), and today I'm pulling out all the stops. I cancelled everything on my calendar and am spending the entire day in my bed. I might get up this afternoon to wash my bike and pack a little, but that is it until the boys get home from school.

We are heading out to Sandusky tomorrow morning, so I probably won't be posting any blog updates until after the race. I have been getting lots of messages, tweets, emails, phone calls and more from so many people wishing me good luck on Sunday. It is so wonderful to know I have friends behind me in this craziness. My friend, Molly, stopped by yesterday and gave me this beautiful necklace.

It is a little moon and came with a card that said, "Wear this necklace and go for your dreams. They are within your reach." Thank you so much, Molly.

I'm going to get my dream on Sunday. If you would like to follow along with me, you can check out on Sunday. There will be a live finish line feed and you can also track me using my last name, Covert. I think the best way to track is to go to this page and then click on the results tab. Be sure to click on Full Rev for the race and then type my name in. It should have live splits as I go through my day. Kel will also be posting updates to my Twitter and Facebook feed, so you can follow there as well!!

Thank you so much for all the support you have given me this year as I have headed towards this day. It really means a lot to me. Have a great weekend...I know I will!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

One Week!!

In seven days, just a short week, I will be racing at Rev3Tri Cedar Point!! YAY!!

I am so darn excited. I feel like every part of my mind has been consumed with the training, planning, expecting, wondering, and more, of this day. There has definitely been a lot of other stuff going on in my life that has caused a lot of stress over the past 2 months, and sometimes I think that this race, this goal, has kept me focused and helped me to not totally freak out about everything else going on in my life. Also, I have been praying a lot! :)

Anywho, I have been enjoying my taper and have been busy making lots of lists - some written down, some in my head. It's amazing how much organization it takes to make a race like this happen. There is just a lot of stuff to remember!!

I have also been thinking a lot about the training itself. Now that the hard stuff is over I can actually let myself analyze a bit of it. First of all, let me say that I have really loved training for a long race. This comes as no surprise to me because I have always looked forward to going long more than I have looked forward to going hard. I have never been one to get excited about tempo workouts or mile repeats. When I see the word HARD in my Training Peaks, my stomach does a little flip-flop. What I found was that, for the most part, a super long bike ride is just an amazing way to spend a day. A long run can clear the head better than any therapist. I can sink into a long swim and just listen to the water swishing past me and it's done before I realize it. I did have some very tough, mentally challenging sessions in the past few weeks, but I tried to relish them as great mental training that will come to play at some point during the race.

One of the hardest things about the training has been logistics. For real. I kind of wished I had tracked how much time I spent this season packing bags, checking Training Peaks, filling water bottles, driving to the pool, showering multiple times a day, pumping tires, washing bike shorts and sports bras, organizing nutrition...the list could go on forever. For example, to get an hour swim in, I have to pack my bag (5 minutes), load the kids into the car (5 minutes - at least!!), drive to the gym (20 minutes), check Noah into childcare (5 minutes), get to the locker room and changed for swim (5 minutes), swim (1 hr), shower and change (10 min.), get the boys back to the car (5 minutes), and drive home (20 minutes). So for an hour's worth of training I clocked 2 hours and 15 minutes of actual time spent. I tried as much as I could to do workouts from home so I limited the driving time, but when you add kids and summer into the mix, sometimes you have to go to the gym to get your run done! (Actually, I think training for a full with kids is a whole other post that I will get to at some point.)

Also, just the sheer energy of thought that goes into figuring all of this out is unbelievable. I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful coach. Sometime people ask me why I have a coach if I am a coach myself. Well, this is why. It is one less thing to think about. One less thing to worry about. I can put all of the weight and responsibility of the training into my coach's hands and let her do all of that for me. A good coach, especially for a busy mommy, is worth every single penny!!

Another thing that I have thought about a lot is how much easier all the training has been because I have the amazing support of my wonderful husband. As the weekend would approach, I would let him know what my training looked like and he would say go for it! There was no guilt, no "you-owe-me" kind of feelings, no "looks" (you know the kind I am talking about),  just support. If he wanted to get a workout in, he would just let me know what time he wanted to leave by and then I would make sure I got going early enough to make that happen. I am so thankful for this low-stress approach to my training. I stress to athletes over and over that if you are thinking about doing a full triathlon, the support of your spouse/partner is ESSENTIAL. They are the ones taking care of the kids, cleaning up the messes, fixing lunches, and making sure you are able to be successful while you are out on your bike! Sonja told me at the beginning of all of this that I needed to make priorities during the hardest training and those should be family, work, and training. All else is secondary and you can't feel guilty about that. I have really tried to embrace that and let go of all the unnecessary guilt. Kel really helped me with this!

So this is where my head is right now. So grateful for what I have been able to do and so grateful for what will happen in one week. ONE WEEK!!!