31 December 2008

Goodbye 2008

Since today is the last day of the year, I thought I would look back on some of the highlights. This year was definitely not my best year and had its share of struggles. In fact, I'm kind of glad to see it go. However, there were some positives that I want to remind myself of, so here no particular order.

- Most of my family enjoyed a 10 day vacation to Hawaii. I'm planning another one for next year, in between Christmas and New Years.

- I completed my first 1/2 ironman.

- I ran the St. George marathon in the rain and I HATE running in the rain.

- I found out I'm going to be an auntie again in May.

- I started getting used to being called Dr. Hansen.

- I PR'd in one of my races.

- I won 1st in my AG twice.

- I learned that I've made a difference in some of my students' lives.

There are probably more, but I think I'll stick with those for now. Good bye 2008 and hopefully 2009 will be even better.

27 December 2008


I looked up the definition of excellence and came across several meanings, including: the fact of state of excelling; superiority; or eminence; or an excellent quality or feature. I think that everyone should be in a state of excelling. I'm not so sure that anyone should be in a state of superiority or eminence, but I truly believe that every person should be trying daily to become a better person.

In "Force of Nature," Laird Hamilton discusses the essentials of being the best. He actually made a list that I thought was pretty good and I thought I would share it, so here goes...

- "You've got certain basic strengths." - He says that there are some things that you can train and some things that you can't. I think that's what separates average from above average from excellent. Some people have innate strengths that allow them to push harder and longer than others.

- "Distractions don't phase you." - He encourages the reader to use distractions to your own benefit. I think the example he gave was that if you can't surf because of the weather, than you can find some other way to train that will enhance your surfing.

- "You're tough." - He discusses mental and physical toughness. My parents and I watched the IM World Championships (mostly because I bugged them to watch it with me) and my dad said that he thinks (and I happen to agree) that endurance sports require much more (like 90%) mental toughness than physical toughness.

- "You're sensitive to everything around you." - I loved it when he said, "Ignorance can be bliss, but it doesn't add up to greatness." In fact, I think that I'm going to use that one in class for my students. He talks about being aware of what's going on around you and taking that information in so that you can be prepared to make the necessary changes in order to be successful.

- "You sweat the details." - I'm so not a details person. I'm more of a see how it goes sort of person. However, when I stop to think about it, I'm pretty good with details when I want to be. Perhaps, I need to be more focused on the details during my training and racing this year.

- "You don't indulge the voice of doubt." - In the book, he said, "You decide what you want to believe." I love that. I think it's another quote that I'm going to use in my teaching. I already blogged about negative self-talk, so I won't get into that, but I do believe that statement. There is power in self-confidence.

- "You can operate hurt." - This is a weird concept for me to embrace because as an athletic trainer, it's in my nature to take care of injuries. However, he says that "when the subconscious part of your brain kicks in, you're in a more efficient and more powerful frame of mind." I'm not sure I get that, but I do think that our mind is very powerful and that we can overcome our natural inclination to stop doing something when it hurts.

- "You're solid." - In this section, he talks about integrity, which is so important to me. In fact, I'll have to write a blog entry about it sometime. Anyways, he asks the question, "who are you?" and suggests that we should all be able to answer that question. Being solid implies that you know who you are, what you stand for and where you're going.

Anyways, I certainly wouldn't describe myself as an excellent person. I do try to strive for excellence. I'm not the best at what I do in my job or in my racing or whatever, but I do try my hardest to be the best that I can be, which I think is really all that we can do.

I actually just had a thought...perhaps, I could use some of these points in my goals for the year. Hmmm... Actually, I probably just need to start writing down my plan and then making the necessary adjustments as I go.

Goal Setting

It's that time of year again...that wonderful time when we decide to make our New Year's Resolutions. I always do this and have done for a really long time, like since before high school. Each year in January, I write out my goals and keep them in the front of my journal. Throughout the year, I revisit my goals and check in to see how they're coming along. This year, I sort of forgot about my goals and when I looked back over my list, the only one I accomplished was completing a 1/2 Ironman distance triathlon and that goal didn't actually go as planned.

It was a tough year for me and I really didn't do well at all with focusing on my goals, which is out of my character. Over the past few weeks, I've been thinking alot about my goals for next year and I have a few that I know I'm going to do. However, I've discovered that I have a commitment problem. I'm struggling with committing myself to my goals, partly because I did so not good last year. Anyways, I will come up with some goals and I will post them on my blog and I'll use that for some accountability. In the meantime, I would like to share some tips on goal setting from "Force of Nature."

1. Visualize - "Imagine your goal in every detail. Use your imagination and let it run wild."
2. Make it challenging - "Don't underestimate yourself. A goal that's a stretch, but maybe you could do if you approached it right - that's the one to go for."
3. Improvise along the way - " Sometimes you have to go backwards to get a goal, or sideways, or around an impediment. Adapt the plan to avoid frustration."
4. Accept that there will be obstacles - "The nature of aiming high is that the road will not always be easy. No one enjoys a struggle, but it's a necessary process. Face reality. Avoiding something difficult now just means that you're going to meet it again later."
5. Allow satisfaction (but keep your edge) - "It's worth making an effort to savor what you've done. Let yourself enjoy a moment of satisfaction."

Perhaps while you're setting your goals for 2009, these tips may come in handy.

2009 Race Schedule

January 9 ~ Animal Kingdom 5K ~ Orlando, FL
January 10 ~ Walt Disney World 1/2 Marathon ~ Orlando, FL
January 11 ~ Walt Disney World Marathon ~ Orlando, FL
January 24 ~ Chilly Chili Run ~ Lake Bloomington, IL
March 8 ~ Princess 1/2 Marathon ~ Orlando, FL
April 4 ~ Lincoln Memorial 1/2 Marathon ~ Springfield, IL
April 18 ~ Race with Your Heart 4 Mile Run ~ Eureka, IL
May 2 ~ Indy Mini Marathon ~ Indianapolis, IN
May 16 ~ Women of Steel Triathlon ~ American Fork, UT
May 30 ~ Rigby Lake Triathlon ~ Rigby, ID
June 13 ~ Ironman 70.3 Boise ~ Boise, ID
June 20 ~ Cache Valley Classic Triathlon ~ Hyrum, UT
June 26-27 ~ MS 150 ~ Logan, UT
July 4 ~ Patriot Run ~ Lewiston, UT
July 11 ~ Echo Triathlon ~ Echo, UT
July 18 ~ Twin Falls Triathlon ~ Twin Falls, ID
July 25 ~ Spudman Triathlon ~ Burley, ID
August 1 ~ Pocatello Reverse Triathlon ~ Pocatello, ID
August 15 ~ Railsplitter Triathlon ~ Petersburg, IL
September 5 ~ Great Illini Challenge 1/2 IM ~ Mattoon, IL
October 3 ~ Run the Woods 5K ~Mahomet, IL
October 17 ~ ISU Town and Gown 5K ~ Normal, IL
October 31 ~ Race the Dead 5k ~ Towanda, IL
November 1 ~ Marshall University Marathon ~ Huntington, WV
November 26 ~ Miller Park Turkey Trot ~ Bloomington, IL

23 December 2008

Merry Christmas!

I hope that you all have a very Merry Christmas and enjoy this wonderful time of year. I hope that you are able to feel the spirit of Christmas and I hope that you are able to spread peace and joy to all of those around you.

My family has a few traditions that we do each Christmas. While we were all growing up, my parents focused on the service aspect of Christmas and encouraged us all to take part in the many opportunities for serving our fellowmen. This year was no different. I won't discuss all of our projects, but I would like to share an experience.

This year, my little nephew John is 4 (almost 5) years old. We decided to include him in a service project and I wondered if he would actually understand. After some discussion on the best approach, my mom and I decided that we would help him pick an angel from the angel tree and then take him shopping. He was so excited and thoughtful in his purchase. He seemed to understand that he was buying a gift for someone less fortunate and he was totally okay with it.

I also decided to take him shopping for his parents and sister. He picked his sister's gift out right away and also his dad's. We had to go into Bath and Body Works to pick up another gift and he asked if we could buy his mom's gift there. He was so particular and thoughtful about picking out stuff for his mom. He wanted to choose things that she used and liked and it was so cute to see how much he loves his mom.

By taking my nephew shopping, I was reminded of the wonderful opportunity to share and give. I was also inspired by the generous spirit of my little nephew. I'm so grateful that my parents gave us the opportunity to learn to serve others and to enjoy the giving part of Christmas more than the receiving.

So, like I said earlier, I hope that you all enjoy the spirit of giving and feel the spirit that surrounds Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

17 December 2008

Lessons from the Ironman World Championship 2008

Last weekend, the Ironman World Championship in Kona was televised on NBC. For most people, watching this documentary may be their only exposure to triathlon. However, for me, it is definitely one of the highlights of my year. I have watched it twice already and will watch it a couple of more times for sure. There are so many lessons to be learned from watching this, not only about triathlons, but also about life. Here are a few things that stuck out to me.

1. Class - Over and over again, I noticed several athletes exhibiting some serious class. In my world, being described as classy is a very high compliment, and is something I aspire to. The major example of this was when Rebekah Keat gave Chrissie Wellington (the overall female winner) at CO2 cartridge. She tossed a cartridge to her with no thought and was one of the greatest examples of sportsmanship I've seen in a long time. Another example was the guy (I have no idea who he was) who allowed Chrissie Wellington to enjoy her finish. He slowed up and let her bask in the glory of her second world championship. I was definitely impressed by his willingness to let the clock run and allow her a moment. The final example that I'll share occurred when Normann Stadler finished the race, in spite of dealing with some pretty serious cramping issues. I probably shouldn't be impressed by this, but in the past 2 years, he has had a total meltdown on the bike and then was ill, so I was inspired by the class he showed in finishing the race in spite of some significant adversity.

2. Karma - I believe in the principle of karma and that your actions will definitely have an impact. Last year, Rutger Beke (a professional triathlete) walked the marathon. He said that he wasn't going to disrespect the age groupers by having a DNF. That was one of my favorite lessons from last years race. This year, I think karma paid off because he came in third place. I think that he showed Madame Pele respect last year and that definitely had an impact on this year's race. Of course, Rebekah Keat is another example of karma. I'm so interested to see the impact that her very small action has on the world of triathlon.

3. Inspiration - Each year, NBC features one of the challenged athletes during the broadcast. This year, they followed Ricky James, a 20 year old paraplegic, who was injured in a motorcross accident. He's only 20 years old. He finished the Ironman. The Ironman is a tough event...period. The Ironman for a challenged athlete is that much tougher. The smile on Ricky's face when he crossed the finish line was awesome and will definitely have an inspirational impact on everyone who watched the show.

4. Adversity - You may have heard of the Kona winds. I haven't been to Kona yet, but apparently these winds provide a great headwind all the time. I have two friends who raced in Kona this year and they talked about the winds. I definitely believed them, but there was some serious reinforcement when I was watching the pros riding up on their hoods instead of down in the aerobars. I'm not sure exactly why this stuck with me, but maybe it was a reminder that even when things don't go as planned, life still goes on. We have to maintain our composure and make the changes in our plan to get where we want to go.

So, those were some of my takeaways from this year's world championship. I've decided that I absolutely have to go to Kona to both watch this race and to race this race. I'm not sure when it will happen, perhaps when I'm 72, like Harriet Anderson the oldest finisher this year, but it will definitely happen. In the meantime, I'll keep working my plan and living my dreams!

Cultivating Instincts

Yep...this is another post about Force of Nature. It really is a great book!

In the book, Laird Hamilton talks alot about cultivating instincts and about how to tune in to our instincts and use them to our advantage. I've been thinking about this and wondering how to go about doing this. Of course, he has some advice. He says, "Start by turning your senses on. The more you play with your senses, the more you're aware of them, the more you're in them. And the more you use them, the better you get." Apparently, I need to spend some time cultivating my instincts, but I'm not sure if I have any or if they ever get any use.

Because the Ironman World Championships were on tv last weekend (more on that later), I've been thinking about how attuned to their bodies professional athletes are. They know how and when to push themselves. They know how and when to make adjustments to their race plan if necessary. They are aware of their limitations and find ways to overcome them. They truly are aware of being in the moment and getting the most out of that moment. I'm guessing that's why they are so good.

As you can probably tell, I'm thinking about my goals and plans for 2009. I'm working on my playbook and I'm putting my plan on paper. I'm sure that I'll throw parts of my plan up on this blog and I'm thinking that maybe one of my goals will be to work on finding and cultivating my instincts. I think that's kind of a vague goal, so I'll have to spend some thought on how to approach it, especially where racing is concerned. I'm hoping that maybe I'll be able to figure out that whole tuning in completely during a moment and getting my very best out of that moment. I'm sure that you'll get to read more about that in the coming months.

14 December 2008

Dealing with Fear and Negativity

**I wrote this on the plane while I was flying to UT for the holidays, but didn't find time to put it up until this morning.**

Can you tell that this book really resonated with me? I love that its given me so much to think about and consider. If you know me well, you might say that I am a driven person and that I am very hard on myself. It's true. I do hold myself to a high standard which means that I often get to fail. I don't consider myself to be a negative person, but I can be and usually am pretty good at blasting myself and its definitely something that I'm working on.

In the book, there is a section that deals with how to deal with fear and negativity, which definitely gave me some food for thought. The author starts off by saying, "Make sure your own worst enemy doesn't live between your own two ears." I think we've all heard that or something similarly to that, but do we listen. I know that I struggle with negative self talk, so I'm guessing that's why this section hit home for me.

Before he gets into the negativity, he talks about fear. Over the past year or so, I've thought alot about fear. I've wondered why people fear certain things and why for some, that fear becomes paralyzing and for others that fear becomes a drive. Mr. Hamilton says that we should use our fears as an energy source to increase our performance and that fear can give us power if we learn to tap into it and use it constructively. So, how do we learn to use our fear. He says that you don't fight it and you don't overanalyze it. (I'm not sure if its possible for me to not overanalyze anything.)

The statement that resonated most with me in this section was "The flip side of fear is commitment." I can think of many situations as examples of this, but I'll share only share one. If you've followed my blog you know that I struggled with open water swimming, which is kind of a big deal if you're a triathlete. During my first triathlon, which included my first open water swim, I totally freaked out. I started hyperventilating and I remember flipping over on my back and seeing the shore and thinking, "I should swim back and be done. What was I thinking?!?" However, I am not a quitter. I do not give up on things when I have committed to them. So, I flipped back over and finished the swim. It certainly wasn't pretty, but it was an incredible feeling to know that I did it. It's very true, at least in my head, that fear is the flip side of commitment.

So, on to negative thoughts... The author says and I agree that negativity is part of being human. It is so easy for me to beat myself up inside of my head when I fail. In fact, I'm awfully good at it. I say things in my head that I would never ever say to anyone else. You probably notice this to some degree in my race reports. So, how do I change this? I'm not sure that its possible to completely get rid of negative self talk, but I do agree with the author's suggestion. He says that if we're feeling negative, we need to get out there and "Do something."

One last thought from this section that I want to share. The author says that quitting is easy, but daring to try is hard. This reminds me of something Jens Voigt said during the Tour de France. He said, "If in doubt, just go" and "If you try to win, you might lose but if you don't try to win, you lose for sure." It's very easy to be mediocre and I think that society does a great job of rewarding and encouraging mediocrity. It's very easy to walk away from things when they're difficult or scary. It is hard to set lofty goals and then to put yourself on a path to achieve them. However, I've learned that only when we challenge ourselves, do we see who we truly are and who we truly can become.

Risk and Its Reward

**I wrote this on the plane while I was flying to UT for the holidays, but didn't find time to put it up until this morning.**

Laird Hamilton suggests that we all need to take risks in our lives. In his book, he suggests that risks don't necessarily have to be dangerous or scary, but he believes that taking risks is what keeps us young and mentally alert. He says that our risks don't have to be life-threatening. A risk can be as simple as putting ourselves into unfamiliar situations.

After reading through this section of the book, I've been thinking about the risks that I take in my life. I think, depending on who you ask, I can be a completely stay in my comfort zone kind of person or a risk taker. I'm pretty sure that no one would classify me as an extreme risk taker and I think I'm okay with that. I also believe that risk taking is very relative, depending on your perspective. For example, I may be a risk taker to someone who refuses to leave their comfort zone, but I may be in a rut to someone who takes extremes risks regularly. Like I said, I think that there is some relativity when looking at risk.

So, I've tried to come up with the least risk that I've taken in my life and I'm really struggling to come up with an example. In fact, I don't remember the last time I took a risk, unless you count me sharing my magazines with the guy sitting next to me on the plane. I'm pretty sure that action wasn't a risk, just a polite gesture, although I really do avoid talking to strangers on a plane. Oh, and I was only a little uncomfortable in that situation. So, yeah, I guess I haven't been much of a risk taker lately (if I am a risk taker at all, which is still debatable). I guess that perhaps I need to start considering taking some risks...

Writing Our Own Playbook

**I wrote this on the plane while I was flying to UT for the holidays, but didn't find time to put it up until this morning.**

One of the first ideas that I noticed in "Force of Nature" was the idea of writing our own playbook. I have been thinking about this for a few days and while I'm quite certain that I definitely do not have the answer or insight into this idea, I do believe that it is definitely something worth considering.

Sometimes, I wonder about how much of our lives are "planned" for us and how much choice we have in determining how we spend our lives. I truly believe that we actually have quite a bit of choice, but I think that perhaps we don't take advantage of our choices. For example, I think that we allow our lives to just roll along without consciously making choices or decisions regarding our actions and attitudes. I also believe that it might be easier to let life happen than to take control over making life happen.

There is something to be said about rolling with the punches of life. I'm thinking of the proverb that says something about the trees that are flexible and bend with the wind, don't break during the storm. I absolutely believe that philosophy and agree that a necessary attitude of life is to be flexible and adaptable. However, I think there is a chance we can take this to far. For example, if we always take the easy route, like the trees that don't have to develop a deep root system blow over easy in a storm (apparently, I'm thinking about trees today), we can never truly develop and test our own personal strength and toughness.

I believe that we have an incredible opportunity to consciously decide to take control of our lives and develop them into what we want to become. We can set goals and make plans to achieve our dreams. We can make conscious, purposeful choices to be whatever we want to become. We can choose to be happy. We can choose to be successful. We can allow our passion to lead our lives and direct us to that feeling of satisfaction.

Perhaps writing a playbook for our lives seems a little silly, but to me it makes perfect sense. I was meeting with a student earlier this week who does a really great job of hearing what you say, but does an awful job at putting your advice into practice. She said that when she doesn't write things down she forgets about them in the daily grind. I think we're all like this to some extent, but in her case it's affecting her ability to pursue who careers. I kept thinking how sad this was because I think many people choose to live their lives in a similar fashion.

I know that we still have a few weeks before January 1 rolls around, but if you are considering making resolutions or setting goals, perhaps you might want to think about a bigger perspective. Perhaps, you might think about writing your life's playbook and consider how these goals will help you achieve your dreams.

Now that I've thrown this challenge out there, I guess I'll have to work on my playbook and I'm guessing some form of it will show up on this blog.

10 December 2008

Force of Nature

Recently, while flipping through one of my magazines, I came across an ad for a book by Laird Hamilton, who happens to be one of my favorite athletes. Of course, I was intrigued, so the next time I was at Borders, I checked it out and decided it was definitely worth buying. When I arrived home, I started flipping through it (because it's that kind of book) and was completely captivated. I ended up reading the entire book that evening and loved it!

While I'm giving final exams, I usually bring magazines to flip through to help pass the time, but this week I decided to re-read "Force of Nature" because I wanted to **NERD ALERT** take notes and do some pondering on the thoughts and topics that the author shares. As I've been doing this, I've come up with all sorts of new ideas for my blog, my teaching, my training and my life.

So, here's your warning...there are going to be lots of posts related to this book and how Mr. Laird Hamilton's life philosophies work for me! In the meantime, if you're interested in reading it, definitely check it out! I really enjoyed it and would highly recommend it!

08 December 2008

Highlights of the Fall 2008 Semester

While I was working on my last post, I started to think about all of the cool things that happened during the semester. I feel like I need to write them down because some of them are pretty good memories. I also want to share them in an effort to elaborate on why I love my job so much. So, in no particular order, here are some of the highlights of the 2008 fall semester.

Diversity in LinC

One of the activity/discussions that occurred in my LinC class was focused on diversity and our own biases, as well as tolerance for differences. Basically, the students were placed in small groups and were told they were going to create a society from their group, as well as choosing some participants from a list of people who came from diverse groups with some issues. One of the people on the list was a 60 year old male who was a retired mechanic and a nudist. He was also very promiscuous because of his religious beliefs and was considered to be very religious.

Anyways, in a class discussion, we were deciding whether or not to keep this man to develop our new society. One of my more vocal students said, "No, he's probably Mormon." Well, if you don't know and this student didn't know, I am a Mormon. I smiled and asked him why he thought this man was a Mormon and said something like, "Well, that's what Mormons believe." I smiled and said, "I'm a Mormon and that's not at all what I believe." Of course, the student was embarrassed and it was a little awkward, but because of this, as a class, we were able to have an amazing discussion on diversity, differences, and assumptions. We had a perfect example of what happens when we make assumptions and when we are ignorant regarding the beliefs of groups and individuals.

This was one of those light bulb or teaching moments that I hope my students will remember. We were able to see the principle we were discussing in action. I'm not sure that I could have created a better example of the situation in class, so I was pretty excited.

Muscle Contraction Presentations
In my A&P course, one of the assignments is to have the students creatively present parts of the muscle contraction. I've been doing this assignment for a few years and its always an enjoyable day in class for me, as well as a good learning experience for my students. I'm always so impressed at the creativity of some of the groups. This semester, I had a group of students who sat in the back of the class and who seemed less engaged during class. They were assigned to present the "action potential". I wasn't sure how this presentation would go, but this group far exceeded my expectations.

The group consisted of about 8 guys who showed up for class in football jerseys and with a football. They created a football play that mimicked the steps of the action potential. This play included all of the steps in a very visual and memorable way. The students impressed me and taught their fellow students very effectively about the action potential. It was definitely memorable for me and I was so impressed by their ability to apply the principles we learned in class to a situation that made sense for them.

Early Exams
A few weeks ago, one of my students came to see me about taking his exams early. Usually the answer to this question is a "No," but this student had a pretty compelling reason. His story bears repeating, so I'll share it here.

Apparently, his girlfriend has been completing her student teaching or internship out in Colorado. My student wanted to propose to her, so he sold his boat, bought a ring, and started planning. Apparently, he wanted to fly out to Colorado, surprise her and propose on the last day of her student teaching. After making arrangements to take his exams early (how could I say no to that story?), he finalized his plans. Anyways, he took his exam last week and he proposed last Friday night and I'm fairly certain he's engaged. Before he left, he sent me a very nice e-mail thanking me for being flexible and understanding. He also thanked me for being a good professor, which was nice to hear.

Poster Presentation Acceptance
This highlight is really not such a big deal and I'll actually write more about it in February, but it does bear mentioning. During the spring, I submitted a proposal to present my dissertation at the NATA Educators Conference in February 2009. At some point this semester, I received a letter saying that my proposal had been accepted for a poster presentation, so I will be presenting my dissertation in Washington, DC in February.

Stem Cell Debate
Another one of the assignments and discussions I give my A&P course is a short paper on the stem cell research and use, followed by an in class discussion and debate on the topic. The assignment allows the student to gain some background information on the topic. Before class, the students are assigned to a "perspective" regarding stem cell research, meaning they need to look at the topic from a variety of perspectives that are usually controversial and generally don't line up with their personal views.

The discussion and debate is always interesting and a vast majority of the students participate and share their views. Towards the end of class, I always ask my students why they think I give them this assignment. I explain to them that I want them to learn how to develop their own views on controversial topics and that I want them to learn that there are always different perspectives and views from their own. I want them to be respectful of others' views and to have reasons for believing why they do. I always end the class by asking the students if they learned anything and if their views on the topic have changed or become more informed. I'm always pleased by the number of hands that are raised.

I always enjoy this activity, but this semester there were a few things that happened to make it especially rewarding. During class, a student expressed his views and brought up religion. He made several comments that helped to drive the discussion. Towards the end of class, he expressed his appreciation to his peers for being respectful of his views and for allowing him to express his views very candidly. I also had several students come up to me after class and thank me for giving them this assignment, for allowing them to discover more about the topic, and for having a civil discussion during class. I was so impressed with my students and their insight, respect, and willingness to look at their views critically. It was also cool to hear my students acknowledge that the assignment was a good one and that they enjoyed it.

Bowling with LinC
Because my LinC class finished back in October, we decided as a class to do an out of class activity towards the end of the semester. The students wanted to go bowling and since we have a bowling activity here on campus, we decided to get together on a Sunday evening in November. I was pleasantly surprised when about half of the class showed up to bowl and eat Oreo cake. The event was very kicked back and I was surprised that my students were happy to see me. I was able to spend some time with each of them and heard about their experiences during the second half of the season. They talked about their sports (they were all athletes) and other stuff that was happening in their lives. It turned out to be a fun evening and I think the students enjoyed it as well. Although, I really dislike bowling, I would definitely do this event again.

Thank You Note
Except for my course evaluations, I rarely know how my students feel about me as a professor. I kind of figure that they must like me okay since they do show up for class. I don't worry too much about it because I also figure that I would be hearing about it if I weren't doing a good job. Anyways, over Thanksgiving break, I received a very nice e-mail from one of my students. He said,

"I want to take this opportunity to thank you for being a really great professor. It is really evident in the way that you conduct yourself that you actually care about your students and the material you present. That means a lot to me, and I am sure I'm not the only person that takes notice. Have a great Holiday season, and thanks once again for everything!"

I was so surprised and touched. Apparently, someone thinks I'm doing okay.

Red Tassel Mortarboard Reception
One of my least favorite things to do is to attend award receptions or banquets. I've hated going to them since high school, so its nothing new. In spite of my dislike for these types of events, when my students invite me to attend, I say yes. Earlier this semester, one of my students invited me to the Red Tassel Mortarboard Faculty Appreciation Reception. I have known the student since she was a freshman and have had her in several courses. She was also involved with Team in Training and we have actually done races together.

Anyways, I was invited to this reception, along with other athletic training faculty members. The student who invited me was ill, so she wasn't able to attend. There was good food and a surprisingly good speaker on the history of mentors. Finally, the students had written a short paragraph about their invited faculty members, which was read to the group.

If you know me at all, you know that I really don't like being in front of people (in spite of the fact that I stand in front of a classroom every day) being praised or whatever. So, when it was my turn to stand up and listen to my paragraph, I was just hoping that the time would go by quickly and I could sit down. When my paragraph was being read, I was incredibly touched and I actually got goosebumps because it felt like someone had completely nailed my teaching philosophy. Because it was so cool, I asked the student for a copy of what she wrote. Here it is for your reading enjoyment...

"The first time I had Dr. Hansen as my professor freshman year for anatomy lecture, I had no idea of the impact she was about to make on the rest of my time here at Illinois State. Dr Hansen's passion and dedication to our education and success through the Athletic Training program and beyond is exposed both inside and outside the classroom. In addition, she encourages and helps others become more involved with the campus and the community. As she has watched us grow throughout the years, we in return, have had the opportunity to witness her evolvement from a driven doctoral student to a well-respected professor and a well-liked person. I know to Dr. Hansen it probably seems like I have been around forever after these past four years, but I am very thankful for the time, effort, and encouragement she has provided to help me excel and become a better person in all that I do."

I'm not really sure what to say after that, except that this was definitely one of the highlights of my teaching career.

Spring Race
When I raced in the ISU Homecoming 5k, I saw several of my students and was surprised that they were runners. While I was running, I remember thinking to myself that it would be fun to race with more of my students. A couple of weeks later, I raced with Katie and Carolyn on Halloween and had the same thought. So, in class and at the AT Club meeting, I through out the idea that maybe we should all do a spring race together. My students were surprisingly receptive and interested. So, we've decided to do a 5k that is walker-friendly. I'm sure I'll have more to write about this later, but I'm pretty excited about it and hope that we can pull it off.

So, those are a few of the highlights of this past semester. It was a pretty good semester and as I said earlier, I feel like I'm finally settling into a positive teaching experience. I'm hopeful that I'll continue to have more semesters like this and that I can keep improving my teaching and maybe even impacting my students' lives.

Ramblings About My Teaching

Finals week is here and while I feel like I have a million things to get done, I am doing the happy dance in my head. I have been walking around with a silly grin on my face because I have a four week vacation coming up in 3 days. Things are definitely stressful and hectic, but in general life is good.

For the past 25+ years (I sound like a really old lady), my life has revolved around a school schedule, meaning I have two semesters, a Christmas vacation, a Thanksgiving break, a spring break, and my summers are off. For the past year and a half, since I finished my doctoral degree, I have been able to focus only on my role as a professor, instead of balancing my role as a student. While I believe that being a student for so long has definitely informed my teaching, I would like to think that my teaching has improved tremendously. I'm fairly certain that it's not because I became "Dr. Hansen," but I do believe that by focusing solely on my teaching, I've made some gains or improvements.

One of the tasks I complete each year is a self- assessment or reflection of my performance over the past year. I will do this formally in January, but I have already begun to think about it, mostly because of a few experiences that occurred this semester. I'll write more about those in a different post, but I did want to mention that the formal reflection will probably look alot like this post and that maybe, by articulating some of my thoughts now, the formal paper might be a bit better. Anyways, on to why I enjoy my job.

Each semester, my students are required to complete course evaluations. My students have the opportunity to make comments about my course and my teaching and these comments tend to be the most valuable component of the evaluation. Sometimes I receive negative criticism, which I will admit is difficult to read and definitely affects my mood and ego. However, after I take a step back, I usually find these comments to have some value.

Sometimes, I receive very bizarre comments that provide laughs or head shaking moments. For example, I received a comment that said, "You look good in red." It was a nice compliment, but not very useful in my teaching and course development. I also received a comment once that said, "I wish you were my mom." Once again, not so helpful and really quite weird and creepy. I was actually glad that I didn't know who wrote this.

Generally, the student comments tend to reaffirm and provide some evidence that my abilities as an instructor are improving and that my teaching philosophy is shining through in my teaching. Usually my students say that I am hard but fair, that I make an effort to make difficult subjects practical and understandable, and that I make class entertaining and/or fun. Sometimes the students even say that my classes help them learn something new or lets them view the world from a new or different perspective. The positive comments remind me of why I love my job and sometimes I feel like I might be making a tiny difference in the world.

My favorite class that i teach is Human Anatomy and Physiology (A&P) and I'm lucky enough to be able to teach the class twice each semester, at least for now. Students in this course are usually majors from the School of Kinesiology and Recreation or from Health Sciences, and sometimes I'll have other students who are majoring in dance, marketing, business, or even criminal justice. Most of the students are required to take the course. I know this up front and I make a very concerted effort to help my students understand how the stuff we talk about and learn in class is useful for their professions. I even get to tell them stories about sports injuries or weird diseases or even funny stories about people slipping and falling on ice.

Each time I teach the class, I'm so amazed at the miracle of the human body and how incredible it is. I'm also very excited when I see my students start to nod their heads as they start to put the pieces of the muscle contraction together. I love watching the light bulbs come on and I'm so happy and excited when my students as the questions that show me that they are thinking about whatever I'm teaching them.

By the end of the semester, the majority of my students tell me that they've enjoyed my course and that they even learned something. Every once in awhile, I'll even have a student stop by and say thank you or even that they're changing their major because of my class. I always take that as a compliment because to me, that means that I have helped my students stop and think about what they want to do as a career. It's definitely rewarding and I look forward to teaching this class each semester.

I also have the opportunity to teach a couple of athletic training courses in the fall semester. I get to teach the introductory course that discusses the athletic training profession. I have the opportunity to watch my students visit their clinical sites and to see them navigate through the decision making process regarding their careers. I also get to introduce them to the exciting world for sports medicine and to share really great video clips of sports injuries.

The other athletic training course I teach is a senior level course on diseases and drugs. This is the last course I have with our senior athletic training students, so it is a chance to spend some time with them, while sharing some pretty cool (I know, I'm a nerd) information. This class had an extra component this year because we were able to spend some time discussing politics and health care, as well as have some pretty informative discussions on their decisions regarding careers, graduate school and how to take the next stop in their lives following graduation.

These students also have the opportunity (or assignment) to do a presentation on a disease of their choice. The students work in pairs and usually pick a disease that has impacted their lives. They share their experiences with family members or friends who have suffered from the disease. Those of us who are in the audience are able to learn about the diseases from a personal perspective which is much more valuable. I've taught this course for the past 6 years and I feel like this class finally came together for me this semester, which is definitely a good feeling.

The final course I taught this semester was a Learning in Communities (LinC) course that is for freshmen. The purpose of the course is to introduce new students to the culture of ISU, to spend some time discussing diversity and to encourage both civic and political engagement. I had 24 students in the course and we spent 16 sessions discussing those topics. We had several meaningful discussions about the historical 2008 election. We spoke about diversity awareness and appreciation, as well as the role diversity plays in our lives. We were also able to talk about friendship, how we make friends, opportunities for involvement in the university and community, and the issues that surround college students.

This was the first time that I taught this course and I really learned alot from my students. I learned about their perspectives on a variety of issues, and I had the opportunity to share my perspectives as well. Finally, I learned about myself and about my opportunities to help my students develop into concerned, active members of society. I hope to get to teach the course again next year because I have some ideas that I want to implement and hopefully improve the course.

So, the semester is ending and once again I have learned from my students and will hopefully be able to use what I've learned to improve and inform my teaching. I have a break coming up that is definitely much needed, but I'll be ready to come back to school in January feeling refreshed. The longer that I teach, the more I enjoy my job.

Being a professor is an amazing job. I am so glad that I have a job that allows me to share my passion for and love of learning with others. I love that I get to watch my students learn, grow, and develop into thinking and informed professionals. I love that I get to teach my students about the amazing human body and I get so excited to talk about how our bodies are designed and work. I also love that I get vacations for 4 months in the summer and 4 weeks at Christmas and 1 week at Thanksgiving and a spring break.

I'm pretty sure that I might have the best job in the world and I'm so happy that I get to wake up and go to a job that allows me to teach students and to share my passion. Oh and I'm really glad that my vacation starts in 3 days.

03 December 2008

Ironman Boise 70.3

Well, it's official. I just finished signing up for the Ironman 70.3 in Boise, Idaho. The race takes place on June 13 and actually starts at 2pm, which is unique. If you're interested in more details, you can check out the website at Training will start on January 26, 2008, so stay tuned...

11 November 2008

Veteran's Day

I want to take the opportunity today to express my appreciation for the soldiers who are currently serving our country, for the men and women who have served our country, and especially for those who have given their lives serving our country.

I don't come from a military family. In fact, I think I only have a couple of great uncles who have any military experience. However, I have several friends and students who are currently serving or who have served in the military and I'm so grateful for their willingness to go to war and to protect our freedoms. All of them are incredible people and I want them to know that I appreciate their service!

I've had the opportunity to visit several war memorials and each time I go, I am so touched by the names of the men and women who have died in wars. I'm impressed by their stories and inspired by their courage. War is never a good thing, but the soldiers who serve are examples of grace and class and I hope that I live in such a way that expresses my acknowledgment for the sacrifice they've made that provide the freedoms I enjoy today.

So, thank you for serving!

03 November 2008

Race the Dead 5K Race Report

About a week ago, I came across a race scheduled for Halloween evening. I decided that running a 5k would be a fantastic way to spend the evening, so I registered. The next day, a couple of my students (Carolyn and Katie) stopped by my office to chat and the topic of racing came up. Both of these students did the Indy Mini in May, so I asked them if they were interested in racing on Halloween. They said sure.

So, on Friday afternoon, the weather was fantastic and I was looking forward to running. I got home from work, changed into my capris, a short sleeved dri fit tee, and my Nike pullover. I was dressed up as a runner. I picked Katie and Carolyn up and we headed off to Kick's Bar and Grill in Towanda, IL. We arrived, checked in, picked up our black, glow-in-the dark "Raise the Dead" t-shirts, and then stood around chatting and checking out all of the costumes. There was a deck of cards, a volcano, a skeleton, a 50s girl, a cat, a cheerleader, Elvis, a witch, a hippy, a can of Spam, a devil, Zorro, a flapper...probably lots more that I don't remember. The beef jerky man was there (not dressed up) and Katie and Carolyn were amused and horrified by him.

At around 6pm, we walked across the street to the start, and learned that we would be running on Old Route 66. There were luminaries along the course, as well as a short trot past the cemetery. There were even fireworks at the start. The race director was very amusing and had Katie and Carolyn a little freaked out. The fireworks went up in the sky and we were off.

I should mention that I had no time goals going into this race and I really just wanted to do something fun on Halloween, so I had no expectations. Oh, and I wanted the t-shirt. Anyways, I just wanted to run well and feel good and go home. I didn't even wear my heart rate monitor.

I started running and struggled for about 10 minutes and actually wondered why I thought running would be fun. Katie and Carolyn were ahead of me and I was running next to a couple of people who were incredibly chatty...chatty enough that I was annoyed, so I picked up the pace. I started gradually speeding up and started picking people off one by one. I got to the cemetery and finally left the annoying chatty runners. I know that my pace wasn't super fast, but I felt like I was running well or easier than usual. Anyways, I picked off 5 or 6 people on my way back to the finish line and never hit puke pace, which was actually nice. I crossed through the coffin in 31:26, picked up my coroner's toe tag, discovered I came in 37th place, and bumped into my students, who came in 35th and 36th. I was surprised that I caught up to them.

We walked across the street to check in with our places. I think I came in 5th in my age group, but I could be wrong. I haven't been able to find any posted results. We considered sticking around for prizes, but ended up leaving because we were starting to get cold. We drove back home, chatted about school, and then it was off to finish celebrating Halloween.

It felt good to run on Friday evening. My form felt good. My feet were landing quietly and I was working on landing on my forefoot, which seemed to be working. Perhaps I could have run faster, but it did feel good to run easy. So, apparently, it was a good idea to race on Halloween. I may have to do it again next year!

29 October 2008

Living Your Dreams

When I was a little kid, my parents told me that I could do anything or be anything that I wanted to. I'm pretty sure that most parents tell their kids this, but my parents took it a step further. My parents encouraged me to write down my dreams and here's the key... Then, they helped me write down a list of goals that would help me achieve my dreams.

As I grew up, my parents continued to encourage and foster this behavior. They even helped me out when I needed experience or support or even money. Sometimes, I wasn't able to achieve my dreams, but because I worked on goals and "lived" my dreams, I was able to accept the disappointment, maybe because the journey to the goal is more important and valuable than the actual dream.

Because of this experience, along with some reflection, I've learned that one of my core values is this idea of living your dreams. It is a part of who I am and is also something I feel very passionate about. In fact, I get very frustrated when I'm around people who either have no dreams or who dream big, but never take any steps to achieve their dreams.

As a professor, I have the opportunity to impact my students' lives. While the content of the courses I teach is important, there are many other lessons I hope that my students take away. I want my students to know that they should live their dreams. I want them to know that the pathway to those dreams requires hard work. I want them to know that it's not the actual dream that really matters, but that the decision to dream and then start taking steps toward achieving that dream will completely and totally change their lives.

One of my triathlon mentors said something to me that seems to fit along with this theme and idea of living your dreams
. He said, "You will learn that it's the journey, not the race that transforms you as a person, the race confirms it all. And when you have a great race, that confirmation runs deeper." This was in a discussion about Ironman triathlons, but I think the statement applies to so much more. The journey to your dreams will absolutely change your life, and the achievement of that dream will confirm those changes.

I'm very grateful to my parents for teaching me to dream big, for teaching me how to go about achieving and living my dreams, and for always believing in and supporting me. I hope to instill this idea in my students and that they will go after their dreams. Personally, I have some pretty lofty dreams floating out there, but while I know they'll be very difficult to achieve, I believe that it may be the journey to those dreams that becomes most valuable.

28 October 2008

Getting the Ending Right

Over the past several months, I've been following a blog written by a man named Elden Nelson, aka "Fatty". He's an avid cyclist and has shared lots of his cycling insight and knowledge. More importantly, he has shared his wife Susan's battle with breast cancer. This morning I opened his blog to see the following entry:

His story has brought tears to my eyes and sorrow to my heart. I have been thinking alot about the idea of getting the ending right and while I'm not sure I have any particular insight to share, I will say that when we live our lives to the fullest, when we are surrounded by those who love and support us, and when we strive to win, we will definitely get the ending right.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Nelson family at this difficult time. I know that they will absolutely get the ending right.

27 October 2008

Me and Oscar

I've been hoping to find a picture somewhere that might show how much I enjoyed riding Oscar this summer and I finally came across one. Apparently, there were pictures from The Great Illini 1/2 IM and I found this one.

More 2008 Races

As of today, I've got 3 more races left in 2008. After the St. George Marathon, I was planning on a couple of 5ks, but I keep adding the races, because...well, because I love to race. So, I thought I'd throw them out there on my schedule.

October 31 - Race the Dead 5k
November 27 - Miller Park Turkey Trot 5k
November 29 - Alton Great River Road Run (10 miler)

I think this will be all of my races for the year, but you never know...perhaps I'll find some sort of a Christmas race.

20 October 2008

Illinois State Homecoming Town & Gown 5k Race Report

Last year, I signed up for this race and it was the first 5k that I had ever run. I ended up coming in 2nd place in my age group. It's a good race and the timing is nice, so I decided to sign up again. I was looking forward to this race because it would be my first "short" race since March (I think). So, on Saturday morning, while I was struggling to wake up, I remembered that I was racing and was able to bounce out of bed with a smile on my face.

I knew that it was supposed to be chilly, so I wore my running capris, a long-sleeve dri-fit shirt, and a midlayer pullover, as well as some gloves. I left my house at 6:42am and drove over to the university. I checked in, picked up my packet, and then bumped into my friend Robyn from tri-camp. We chatted for a few minutes and then it was time to start. It seemed like there were more people running it this year. Mitch, the race director, was giving us directions, which was an exercise in futility since no one could hear him. The gun went off, and the race began.

The first mile was fairly uneventful and a good warm-up. I picked out a few people that I wanted to beat and watched my heart rate. My time goal for this race was 30 minutes, so when I saw that my first split was 9:46, I was very happy. The next mile was also sort of boring, although I did pick up the pace. I'm not sure how that happened although it was alot of downhill and flat. My split for mile 2 was 9:28, which was a pleasant surpirse. At some point, my heart rate started going up and I was starting to notice that I was getting close to puke pace, which is kind of sad since I certainly wasn't running very fast. The last mile was on the uphill stretch and there were alot of people walking. I had passed the people I wanted to beat, and I was watching my heart rate, which was right around 184. When I turned the corner, I picked up the pace and still got passed by a couple of people, but I also passed a couple as well. My last mile and then tenth was 10:43, so I guess I slowed down, but my final time, according to my watch, was 29:59:88, so I barely made my time goal.

At the finish line, I turned in my bib, and headed back into the building to grab my race packet and then walked back to my car, since I had 45 minutes to get ready for the parade. I arrived back home at 7:42am, so I was back home in an hour which was awesome!

I didn't really have time to celebrate the race since it was a busy morning, but I'm fine with that. My pace was 9:40 min/mile which definitely makes me happy, especially since I've really been struggling with my running lately. I actually was able to run the race at the pace I wanted to and I was able to stay focused, which was quite a small victory for me. I was also able to run painfree which was nice. As a sidenote, I saw several of my students out running which was cool to see. So, I have one more race this year (I think) and it's another 5k. Perhaps, I'll be able to increase my speed and run a little faster, but we'll see how it goes.

09 October 2008

Scuba Sam

I mentioned in my race report that a very strange and exciting thing happened at my parents home while they were away and because it's such a great story, I feel like I really need to share it. My parents asked my brothers if they would house sit and watch the dogs while they were in St. George. This is not an unusual occurrence and was really no big deal.

On Saturday, after the race, my dad got a phone call from Travis asking him if he had asked anyone else to stay at the house and my dad said, "No, why?" Apparently, there was someone in the shower and Travis thought it might be Karen (his sister-in-law). So, he called Eric and Karen to see if they were there, but they were at home. I should also mention that when Travis came in the house, the lights and radio were on, the microwave was open, the washer and dryer were running and the french doors were open. Travis decided to call the police and here is where the story starts to get good.

When Eric and Karen arrived, Karen marched into the bathroom, noticed the big huge jetted tub was running, the lights were off, and there was a man in the shower. She told him to get out of the shower and that he wasn't supposed to be in the house. He said something like, "You get out. This is my house." Karen got all of his laundry out of the washer and dryer and told him that he needed to get dressed and get out.

At this point, the police arrived. They came inside, told the guy to get out of the shower or they were going to taze (sp?) him, and that he needed to get on the floor. Did I mention that when he got out of the shower he had a headlamp on? Yes...he actually had a headlamp on in the shower. Go ahead and laugh. I am... They had a difficult time getting him handcuffed because he followed their instructions too well. For example, they told him to get on his stomach and he said he couldn't because they told him not to move.

Well, they finally got him dressed and started talking to him. They asked him why he was wearing a headlamp in the shower and he told them it was because he was scuba diving. Yes...apparently, he was scuba diving in my parents bathroom, which is so awesome! Who knew?!? He spent the night in their house. He told the police that he was training the dogs. He ate their food and left the honey in the fridge. He used their washer and dryer. He ran the big huge jetted tub and drenched the entire bathroom, including the remote for the bathroom tv. (Yes, my parents have a tv in the bathroom...which gives a whole new meaning to spending time on the throne.) H used their computer to print off coupons and recipes. He ate a cantaloupe like an apple, including the peel and left the core (do cantaloupes have cores?) in the sink. He also left a fingerprint in the butter.

The good news is that there was no damage. He left all of the guns alone, even though the gun safe was wide open. (Nice one Eric!) He didn't steal anything; although, there is a headlamp missing. The dogs were a little weirded out, but survived and proved that they are certainly not very good guard dogs.

So, the story behind this man is something like this... Apparently, his name is Sam and he has schizophrenia and is also bipolar. He was off his meds and had "escaped" from his parents' home. He has done this before and so he gets to spend some time in the psych ward, as well as three months in the state mental hospital. My mom was totally freaked out. My dad and I thought the whole thing was hysterical and couldn't wait to tell the story. In fact, we got to tell the story a couple of times that day. Nothing was hurt and mostly we all just feel very sad for this poor man who is struggling in his battle with mental illness. is incredibly funny to think of a man showering with a headlamp on who thought he was scuba diving. In fact, I'm totally giggling about it right now as I type this. I guess this means that Scuba Sam has just become a family legend.

07 October 2008

St. George Marathon Race Report

I am having a hard time writing this race report and I'm not really sure why. This was definitely the hardest marathon I've ever run and since it was #7, I feel like I can say that. I guess I should star at the beginning, which kind of makes sense. After I ran my first marathon, my grandma started asking me when I was going to do the St. George marathon. I finally agreed to sign up for it this year, along with my my mom and my friend, Sherry. I knew the race would be in October and I knew it wasn't an "A" race, but I didn't count on the training issues I had, so I was actually dreading the race.

On Friday afternoon, I flew out of Peoria on a direct flight to Las Vegas. I ended up eating my pre-race meal on the plane, which consisted of three slices of a turkey wrap, pringles, a Snickers bar and 3 bottles of water. I picked up my rental car and made the drive to St. George in time to pick up my race packet. This did involve some speeding, which I'm pretty sure was the only time I was doing any sort of fast movement. Actually, I didn't think I would make it in time to pick up my packet, but I did arrive at 8:53pm and rushed into the convention center. Of course, they didn't have my packet, so I walked over to the information booth. Apparently, I had registered as a Clydesdale (I don't remember doing this) and so I had to pick up my packet at a different place. After packet pickup, I headed up to the Sports Village to see my parents. We talked for a few minutes and then headed to bed. I should mention that the condo we stayed in smelled alot like really old people.

My bed had the old lady smell, so I struggled to fall asleep and stay asleep. I think I fell asleep around 12am and woke up bright and early at 4am. I got up and got ready to go and actually wasn't feeling nervous at all. I grabbed my Poptart and my mom and we were off. We picked up Sherry and headed to the race start and noticed that it was sprinkling. I wasn't too worried because it's St. George and it's the desert and it never rains there.
We parked the car and hopped on the bus and noticed that it had actually started to rain. Of course the bus was full of very chipper happy runners, which was kind of obnoxious. I prefer the quiet bus and if I were in charge, I would definitely have a quiet bus for racers like me. I ate my Poptart and kept thinking, "Please please let it stop raining." In case you didn't know, I HATE running in the rain.

Once we arrived at the start, it was off to the porta-potty lines. It was pouring down rain and I had my mylar blanket wrapped around me in an effort to stay dry and warm, which wasn't effective. Soon it was time to turn in the gear check bags and get ready for the start. My mom and I found the pace group we were looking for, stood around a burning fire that smelled glorious (really, it did!) and waited for the race to start.

I never heard the race gun start, but just followed the crowd as we started moving forward. I couldn't believe that it was still raining. Have I mentioned yet that I HATE running in the rain. Anyways, I kept my mylar blanket around me for a mile or two, but the rattling noise was driving me nuts, so I took it off and just ran. My mom and I were running along and complaining about the rain when the stomach issues began. It must have been around mile 3 and I had to find a pitstop. Little did I know this would become the pattern for the race. We got to mile 6 and looked off and saw the HUGE hill that is between mile 7-8. I stopped again at a porta-potty and managed to struggle up the hill. I think it may have been the toughest hill that I've ever run and I love running hills. Anyways, it was still raining and I was miserable. My body was holding up surprisingly well (Did I mention my longest training run was a 10 mile run 6 weeks before the race and that I thought I might have a stress fracture?) , except for the porta-potty stops at every mile. I actually ran back to a porta-potty at one point. My stomach felt awful!

At mile 19, it stopped raining for a bit, which was nice, but the wind was still blowing and it was cold. I did have a huge blister on the ball of my left foot and my shoes were completely squishy. Stopping at the porta-potties was frustrating because it is really hard to pull up wet spandex when your body is soaking wet. At mile 23, I sprinted to the porta-potty and barely made it before bad things started happening. My mom left me at this point and went on to beat me. For the rest of the race, I ended up doing 2 minute run/1 minute walk intervals and I was really worrying about making it to the finish line under the 6 hour limit. I was in pain and everytime I saw a shuttle go by (through the entire race), I really wanted to get in and be done. However, there was a part of me (actually a big part of me) that wanted to say that I ran a marathon in the rain.

Anyways, I finally crossed the finish line, heard my grandma and aunt cheering, went to the first aid tent and asked for an IV. The nurses told me no, they didn't have anymore and gave me some anti-nausea medicine. I wanted to say "Wrong end..." but I didn't. I took my shoes off because my feet were ANGRY and found my dad. I couldn't wait to get to gear check to get some dry clothes. I didn't find any food at the finish line and actually all I really wanted to do was get warm. I hugged my grandma and aunt and then it was off to the car to head home to the warm shower.

Nutrition for this race was Clif Shot Blocks, which apparently only work for me on the bike during a triathlon. I did eat sushi after the race which tasted awesome and sat well. Oh, and the Coke my dad picked up at the store tasted glorious. We had several friends over for lunch and my dad cooked his yummy cheesesteaks, which totally hit the spot. There was another event that occurred during all of this which provided some great conversation, but I'll have to save that for another post.

So, I finished a marathon in the rain. It sucked and I never ever want to do it again. What did I learn from this race? Well, I learned that I can actually suffer through quite a bit and continue to keep making forward progress. I think that I already knew this about myself to some degree, but this was a whole other level. I learned that sometimes it's worth doing things for other people. Oh, and I learned not to eat turkey wraps on a plane for a pre-race meal.

29 September 2008

Changing Gears

I've been struggling with finding my workout mojo for the past couple of months, which has led to some weight gain and frustration. I've tried a few different strategies to get over this funk, but none of them have really worked. So, after much thought, I realized that I needed to completely shake up my training program, which led to the decision to purchase the P90X system from I've learned that my body responds really well to strength training, which is one of the reasons that I picked P90X. Plus, I feel like I could use some good hard sweaty intense workouts that don't take place on a bike, in a pool or on a run.

Along with the workouts, I've decided to follow the nutrition plan. I've spent the weekend reading through the nutrition guide, working on a menu, cleaning the junk food out of the kitchen (surprisingly there wasn't that much), and grocery shopping for my food for the week. I feel like a I have a plan in place (for this week at least) and I just need to follow it.

I spent some time thinking about how much of this process I want to share online. I am planning on taking the before and after pictures, but we'll see if I decide to post them. I will post some of my stats, but I think I'll mostly just keep a workout log and mention my nutrition as well.

So, those are my big plans for the next three months. I'm kind of excited about the timing of this and how well it fits into the off season for triathlon. I'm excited to see what happens to my body and I'm excited to get back into shape. I'm also interested to see how this nutrition plan works. I'll keep you all up to date on how everything is going and I'm sure I'll be mentioning the challenges that will come with this switch.

23 September 2008

A Happy Ass

I have fallen in love with Pearl Izumi's new campaign regarding a happy ass and thought I might share some of the images because they make me GRIN.

22 September 2008

Changing Plans ~ IM Wisconsin 2009

Earlier this year, I had great, glorious, and grand intentions of signing up for Ironman Wisconsin 2009. My friend Sherry was planning on signing up and I told her I would as well, especially since the IM is why I decided to start doing triathlons. I had plans to volunteer at Madison this year and then to wait in line to get a slot for next year's event. Towards the end of the summer, when I was struggling with motivation and not doing very well with my training, I started to think long and hard about training for an IM next year. I know that doing IM distance triathlons is what I want to do, but I also know that I need to have the fitness and mental strength to be able to carry out the training.

This year, I learned and realized that training for a 1/2IM is hard and time demanding. Training for an event that is twice the distance has to be at least twice as hard and knowing this contributed to alot of thought regarding the decision to commit to IM Wisconsin. As the season went on and the date for making the decision got cloers, I really started to weigh the pros and cons.

During all of this thinking, several things crossed my mind. I discovered that it is really difficult to commit to an even like the IM, especially if you have an idea of what the training involves, a year before the race. I realized that I wasn't 100% sure about the race and that I didn't feel good about spending $525 (yes, that's how much it costs to register) on a race that I may not be 100% committed to. I also wasn't sure I was ready to be completely exhausted all summer. There were many other things I thought about and I was even losing sleep over the decision.

After the Railsplitter Triathlon in August, I was wiped out and spent most of the next day sleeping which was kind of a surprise. This made me think about how tired I would be after a 1/2IM, and then, extrapolate that to a race twice as long. Was I going to be able to do the Great Illini 1/2 and then spend the day volunteering in Madison? I just wasn't sure if I was physically, emotionally, or mentally prepared. So, I was still debating what to do...

At some point, I started asking for advice. I mentioned my dilemma to my friend Sherry and she reminded me that I still have lots of time left to do an IM and that there is no reason to rush. I asked my mom what she thought and shared some of my thoughts about trying to make the decision. She gave me a very good piece of advice. She said that maybe I should focus on enjoying my races and progress and not pushing myself through the events so fast that I forget to have fun in the process. One of the things I struggle with in life is that I push myself very hard to achieve my goals and that I forget to enjoy the process.

After a couple more days of doing some thinking, I decided to not sign up for an IM in 2009 and I have to say it was a big relief. I want to spend the winter working on my base fitness and I want to do a couple of 1/2 IM tris this summer. I want to nail down my run and keep tweaking my bike, swim, and nutrition. So, those are my reasons for not signing up for IM Wisconsin. I'm not sure if they're valid or good reasons, but they work for me and I'm pretty sure that's all that really matters.

18 September 2008

The 2008 Triathlon Season

This is going to be an interesting entry for me to write because I think I'm still processing my races and I'm also kinda sad that the season is over. One year ago, I had completed one sprint distance triathlon. I fell in love with the sport and decided that I wanted to be a triathlete. I had some things happen last fall that derailed my training, but in January, I decided to sign up for a 1/2 Ironman. I started doing some training and decided to attend the C&C Triathlete Factory camp in April. That was the beginning of my tri season and I feel like I need to take some time to reflect back over the past year, remember the highlights and celebrate how far I've come.

Last June, I started swimming in a pool. I could only swim one length freestyle and alternate it with breast stroking. Eventually, over the next few weeks, I built up my endurance and I felt like I was ready for a triathlon. In July, I bought a road bike, as well as cycling shoes and clipless pedals. I road it a few times (maybe 5) and wrecked a few times before my race. Last year was a great running year, so I wasn't concerned about that part of triathlon at all.

My first race was an interesting experience in many ways. I was completely freaked out during the swim because it was my first open water swim EVER. I actually got out in the water and seriously considered turning around. I barely made it to the first buoy before I finally calmed down. The bike ride was painful to say the least. My seat was too low. I dropped my chain. I couldn't drink and ride at the same time. My saddle was really uncomfortable. The run was fine except for the the first wobbly legged mile. The race was definitely a learning experience and hooked me to the sport, but it also made me realize that I had a very, very long way to go.

Over the winter, I worked on my swimming and bought a trainer so I could ride my bike indoors. I tried out some Spinervals dvds, ran some races, and just tried to maintain some level of overall fitness. In February, I got an e-mail that a couple of guys from my tri-club (both of whom are going to race in Kona this year) were putting on a tri-camp here in IL for a very reasonable price, so I decided to register and go.

Tri-camp was an incredible experience. I wrote about it earlier, so I won't go into too much detail; however, there were a few things that happened there that made a difference in my season. First, I learned that I can actually swim very well. My stroke is fundamentally sound and while I'm not super fast, I swim pretty well. Second, I learned alot about nutrition and how to use nutrition to have successful events and training. I discovered the benefits of Pop Tarts for breakfast and how many calories to take in during events. Finally, I put my big girl pedals back on my bike, got my bike fitted to me, and learned that I have a very long way to go on my cycling.

I also had some mental confidence building while I was there. When I arrived at the camp, I almost didn't go in. I felt like I had no business being at a triathlon camp. However, over the course of the weekend, I realized that I can be a triathlete. I learned that I have the skills and determination to be a triathlete. At the end of the camp, I received an award from Chris S. and Chris D. They gave me the award for "Most Potential" which added to my confidence and helped me through many workouts and races. When I left the camp, I felt ready and excited for tri season to begin.

My race season had its ups and downs. I won first place in my age group in my first race of the season, fell apart during the run of my second race, and watched a man die in my third race. I lost some motivation during the last two months of training. I missed the 1/2 IM signed up for back in January. I spent some time riding around Cache Valley with my dad and practiced some open water swimming in Hawaii. I raced in hot, humid, nasty weather on poorly marked courses and I completed a 1/2 IM. It's been an eventful season and I've learned alot.

I learned that when I consistently train, I race well. I was frustrated with my performance in my last two races and the hard part for me was knowing that it was my own fault. I blew off alot of my training and my race performance suffered because of that. While I didn't enjoy learning this lesson, it was definitely an important one to learn and I think it will make a difference next season.

Also related to training in general is that I realized that I need to find a training program that suits me, or build up my fitness so that I can complete my workouts without feeling completely wiped out. I struggled a bit with burnout this season and I want to find a way to avoid that in the future. I haven't figured out a way to handle this one yet, but I do have all winter to think about it.

I finally bonded with my bike this season. It took me almost a year and there were some mighty big bumps to get over. I also finally came up with a name for my bike (Oscar) and I've learned to love riding. I graduated from my toe strap pedals to my big girl pedals. I learned to gear properly to make it up hills and I've learned that I love riding hills. In one year, I went from hating my bike to looking forward to the bike portion of the race. That's probably one of the best parts of the past year. I do think switching my saddle had alot to do with this.

Over the winter, I had the opportunity to work on my swimming endurance. Tri camp helped me realize that my swimming is fine and that I need to focus on speed. I knew going in to the season that swimming in open water would be an issue. I made plans to practice in the open water, but that turned into a fiasco. My second open water swim ever didn't go well. My first race in open water was really really cold (56 degrees) and I had some serious freak out moments. My next race was the following week and I finally had an okay open water swim, but coming out of the water, I saw a man getting CPR, who ended up dying. So, at the end of June, I was still feeling very nervous and uneasy about the whole open water swimming thing.

In Hawaii, after about a week of looking at the ocean, I finally got in and had several positive swims in the ocean. I learned not to freak out when I saw fish and I realized again that I'm a good swimmer, so I don't need to freak out. When I got back to IL, I had the opportunity to go to WOWS (Wednesday Open Water Swims) with my tri club. The first time I was totally nervous and freaked out. I had my heart rate monitor on and as soon as I drove into the parking lot, my heart rate jumped way up. With the help of a friend, I approached the lake and decided to just relax and swim. (Also, it's easier to be brave when there's lots of people watching and you don't want to look like an idiot.) The water was disgusting and I couldn't see my hands, but I was able to swim 1200 yards in the nasty Miller Park Lake with no freaking out. I continued to go and it REALLY paid off in my level of confidence in the open water. I even watched Jaws the night before a race and was able to swim in the lake with no freak outs. I believe that the open water swim practice was incredibly helpful because I was able to swim in my last two races well, with no worries about drowning or fish attacks or anything.

Running this year didn't go well at all. I started the year off with the Goofy Challenge, a really intense sinus infection that required 6 weeks of antibiotics, and a little bit of burnout. Also, the winter was long, cold, wet, and icy, so getting outside to run wasn't high on the list of fun things to do. My first 1/2 marathon didn't go well (or went surprisingly well, depending on how you look at it). My second and third 1/2 marathons didn't go well. I skipped alot of run training because I didn't feel like running. I gained some weight. My hamstring and IT band were bothering me. I had all sorts of excuses for not running. I also felt like I've been running for awhile and I need to focus on my cycling and swimming, which I did and which helped tremendously in those areas. In spite of being disappointed about my running, I learned a very important lesson. I learned and remembered that training is vital for success and when you skip your training, you can slide by a bit, but it will catch up to you in the the day of a 1/2 IM triathlon.

I finally nailed down a nutrition foundation that I'm pleased with. I feel like I've found a pre-race dinner (grilled meat, baked potato or chicken burrito with lots of guac), as well as my breakfast of champions (2 not frosted strawberry pop tarts). I'm very pleased with my Heed and Clif ShotBlocks on the bike. I still need to tinker with my run nutrition, but I feel much better prepared nutritionally than I ever have. I'm sure that I'll keep tweaking it, but it was very nice to have a solid nutritional foundation.

This season I had the opportunity to win my age group twice and to come in very close to bottom. I completed 6 triathlons; 3 sprint distances, 2 Olympic type distances and 1 half ironman. I learned to love my swimming workouts and the relaxation that goes along with being in the water. I developed a love for riding Oscar. Riding with my dad this summer was awesome and I can't wait to do a couple of century rides with him next summer. I'm not sure there are many things better than flying down a canyon road, down in the aerobars, going super fast. I learned to appreciate the feeling of jumping off the bike and heading out of transition on wobbly legs. I remembered how fun it is to cross the finish line and learned that crossing the finish line after a triathlon is much more fun than after a running race.

I have to say that this was a fun, rewarding season. I learned so much, not only about the sport of triathlon, but also about myself and others. I'm sad that I don't have any more triathlons this year. I am looking forward to next year and have already started making plans for races and goals. I also want to thank all of the people who helped make this season fabulous. (I feel like I'm making an acceptance speech at the Academy Awards.)

Chris S. and Chris D. - Tri camp was awesome and definitely set the tone for my season. Thanks SO SO much for taking time out of your busy schedules to put that on with such class! I hope we can do it again next year!

Sherry - Thank you for helping me to start on the path to living my dreams. Thank you for your listening ear and for helping me take away some very valuable experiences from my races. Thanks for all of the training runs and rides and for helping me to "show up" when it would have been easier to stay home.

Eric - Thanks for taking your boat out to the lake and letting me swim and for not laughing when I was freaking out.

- Thank you for being such an awesome cheerleader at my races this summer. Someday you'll be doing a triathlon and I'll be cheering!

Brooke - Thanks for going swimming in the ocean with me an for making sure that I didn't drown.

Mom - Thanks for going to races with me, for waking up super early, and for sitting out in the cold. Thanks for believing in me and for bringing Simon along to make me smile.

Dad - Thanks for all of the long rides, especially the hilly ones. Thank you for telling me to get over my fears and to just swim, even when the water is really really cold.

So, there's the story of my triathlon season. I'm hoping to do more races next year and to continue to add to my knowledge and experience. Someday, all of this will lead me down Ali'i Drive!

12 September 2008

2009 Races (Tentative)

As most of you know, I'm a planner when it comes to races and I always like to have a race on the calendar to look forward to. I've learned that it buffers the let down that occurs at the finish line. (I'm probably the only person who's sad at the finish line because the race is over...) So, I thought I would post my somewhat tentative race schedule now, to remind myself that there are lots more races coming in 2009!

January 8 ~ Circle of Life 5K - Orlando,FL
January 9 ~ Walt Disney World 1/2 Marathon - Orlando, FL
January 10 ~ Walt Disney World Marathon - Orlando, FL
March 8 ~ Walt Disney World Inaugural Princess 1/2 Marathon - Orlando, FL
April 4 ~ Lincoln's 1/2 Marathon - Springfield, IL
May 2 ~ Indy Mini Marathon - Indianapolis, IN
May 16 ~ Women of Steel Triathlon - American Fork, UT
May 30 ~ Shark Attack Triathlon - Honeyville, UT
June 13 ~ Ironman Boise 70.3 - Boise, ID
June 20 ~ Cache Valley Classic Triathlon - Hyrum, UT
June 27-28 ~ MS 150 - Cache Valley, UT
July 11 ~ Echo Triathlon - Echo, UT
July 18 ~ Scofield Triathlon - Scofield, UT
August 8 ~ Railsplitter Triathlon - Petersburg, IL
September 6 ~ The Great Illini 1/2 IM - Neoga, IL

08 September 2008

The Great Illini 1/2 IM Race Report

Results -
Swim - 44:14
T1 - 1:47
Bike - 3:23:25
T2 - 2:28
Run - 2:54:55
Total - 7:06:50
Average HR - 157
Calories Burned - 7157

I am a 1/2 Ironman! It has been and long, hard journey, but it is finally done and I can say that I'm glad that I did it. I will say that I thought I would feel differently than I am feeling about this race. I think I thought I would have a feeling of elation, but mostly I'm disappointed and a bit sad. I'm still working on processing the race, so maybe my attitude will change and I will feel differently. Here's the story of this race and how I became a 1/2 Ironman.

On Friday afternoon, I met my friends Melissa, Erin, and Jessica and we headed down to Neoga, IL to pick up our packets and to check out the race site. We found it okay, grabbed our packets, and listened to the pre-race talk. I also made a quick, much needed trip to the porta potty. The race t-shirt was cool and is definitely one that I will happily wear. After we picked up our stuff, we headed to Mattoon to our hotel and to grab some dinner. We ended up eating at a place called "Cody's." I worked on drinking enough water and also had a diet Coke that tasted wonderful. I ordered the Cherokee grilled chicken, loaded mashed potatoes and sauteed veggies. My chicken was way overcooked and reminded me of chicken jerky. After dinner we unloaded our stuff and started winding down for the evening. I worked on my mental list of what to do in the morning and was hoping to sleep really well. I filled up my water bottles, stuck them in the fridge, and made myself a note to not forget them. I set out my stuff for the morning so that it wouldn't require much thought. After a few minutes of reading, I was out for the night.

I slept really well until 3am, and then kind of dozed until 4:20am. I heard Erin get up and we talked for a few minutes and then started getting ready for the day. I put on my tri-clothes, wished I looked better in spandex, and then worked on eating my 2 Poptarts. We loaded up the car and headed down to the race. On the way, Melissa handed Erin and I some cards from Sherry. My card was awesome and reminded me to smile during the rough times. I was feeling fairly calm and was ready for the porta potty we we arrived.

Once we arrived, we unloaded our stuff and headed over to transition. When I got to my age group's rack, I noticed that everyone had racked their bikes in the same direction, so there wasn't much room. I ended up on the other side of the rack, with my brakes holding my bike up because the rack was too low for my seat. I set up my stuff, went to get body marked, put on sunscreen, grabbed my wetsuit and headed down to the lake. I ran in Tamara, Heather, and Chris from Tri-Sharks and we chatted a bit. I gave Melissa and Erin a hug, talked to Jessica for a minute and then walked into the lake.

The swim start was right on time and was a little chaotic but I handled it really well. I started swimming and was able to stretch out and swim the way I like to. The swim was clockwise so the buoys were on my right. I breath on my left so that was a little adjustment. The water temperature was great and the water even tasted good. (I know...I'm not supposed to drink it, but hey, it happens.) I made my first turn and was feeling good. I couldn't really tell if I was passing people or getting passed so I just kept swimming. I did get elbowed in the head once, which hurt and kind freaked me out and made me a little mad. When I made my final turn, I could see the blow up thing at the swim finish which really helped with my sighting. (Thanks for the tip, CD!) At one point, I forgot to sight and ended up on the wrong side of a buoy, but I straighted out and kept swimming. I swam until I could feel the bottom with my hand. Then, I stood up, staggered around for a second, and started working on getting the wetsuit off. While I was running up to transition, I took my goggles and swim cap off and didn't even notice the gravel under the carpet that I had worried a little about on my way down to the lake. The run to transition was slightly uphill, but I got into transition feeling good and smiling. I felt really good about how I swam straight and stayed on course. My goal time for the swim was 45 minutes, so when I looked at my watch when I was exiting the water and saw 43, I was pretty excited. By the time I got to transition, the time was 44:14.

T1 was actually pretty dull. I ran in, got my wetsuit off with no problems, got my shoes on easily, put on my sunglasses and helmet, grabbed my bike and was off. My T1 time was actually quite a bit faster than I expected. I was in and out in 1:50.
I headed out on the bike feeling good. I was right where I wanted to be timewise. I knew the first segment of the bike course was the hilly part so I watched my heart rate so that I wasn't pushing myself too hard. I struggled for awhile and felt kinda rotten, but managed to keep a 17 mph pace for the first hour. Once I got past the hilly part, I started pushing myself a little more. I hit some headwind that slowed me down quite a bit, but I still managed around 16.5 mph. The third hour was tough. I hit a serious headwind. I was working hard, my heart rate was around 170 and I was only going maybe 14 mph. I kept wondering when the wind would be at my back. I guess around mile 46 or so I finally felt a tailwind and was cruising along. I was actually really enjoying the bike course.

The course was four different out and backs so I got to see alot of people lots of times. My nutrition went well. I took in 2 bottles of Heed, 1 bottle of water, and 3 packages of Clif Shot Blocks (~800 calories). During my second hour on the bike, I really had to pee. I never thought about stopping and decided to try to talk myself into just peeing on the bike. It is really really hard to pee your pants! I couldn't relax. Finally, I felt like I was maybe ready, so I moved my water bottle so I wouldn't pee on it, shifted to my left side and let loose. It was a very weird experience and learning to pee on the bike apparently requires practice. At one point I was a little distracted and went off the road into the gravel. I really thought I was going down, but somehow managed to correct and not tip over. I'm actually really proud of that moment because it made me realize how far I've come on the bike in the past year. The last 30 minutes of the ride went really well. I really pushed myself and passed two people who were ahead of me for most of the ride. I was grinning going into transition because I was truly having alot of fun.

My goal for the bike was 3:15, but I didn't account for any headwind...mostly because I can't remember ever riding into a headwind on any of my training rides. My time on the bike was 3:23:25, so I was longer than I planned on, but it was also my longest ride ever, so I can't complain. I was actually smiling going in to transition because I had a good ride. I have learned that I really enjoy my time on the bike. So, while I was on the bike 8 minutes longer than I planned on, I was actually quite happy with my ride. Oh, and I feel like I could have kept riding and I didn't hate Oscar at all at the end, which was a very nice feeling.

This T2 was a little different than my usual T2. When I got off the bike, I had to walk about 15 steps before I got my legs under me. I ran to my spot, racked my bike, took off my shoes, started putting on my socks (for the first time ever in a triathlon) which was kind of a hassle, took off my helmet, put on my visor and shoes, grabbed my race bib, downed a Hammer Gel and then headed out of transition. I was in and out in 2:27, which was longer than I planned on. I'm sure it was because of the blasted socks. Did you notice that I forgot to grab my gels and endurolytes?

I headed out on the run feeling pretty good. I decided to run 8 minutes and walk 1 minute, mostly to make sure I was feeling good and to watch my heart rate. I got about half a mile down the road and realized I had forgotten all of my fuel. I knew that there would be gel and endurolytes at the aid stations, but I was a little frustrated with myself for being a dork and forgetting to grab them. Anyways, I was doing well and got to the turn around feeling okay. I stopped to pee and was surprised that I still needed to pee. On my way back to transition my feet were pretty sore and I felt like I was getting blisters on the balls of my feet.

I was still doing intervals and felt okay, but I was starting to get tired. I got back to the turnaround and headed out for my second and last loop. I made it about a half mile before my low back started cramping. I walked a little bit and the cramping moved all the way up my back and into my neck...not a good feeling. I really wanted to cry...mostly from frustration, but also because of pain. I was trying to figure out how to tough this out, when I passed the water station and heard my friend Melissa's voice. I stopped and waited for her. We ended up walking and running very slowly the rest of the race. I wasn't thinking very clearly and was having a very difficult time figuring out distances or anything. I was also STARVING. I remember telling Melissa, "I'm so hungry" multiple times. At some point, probably around miles 9-10 I took another gel which helped with the thinking. I think I ended up taking 3 gels on the run and about 10-12 endurolytes. We ended up walking to a barricade and then running to the next barricade. My feet were incredibly angry. My back was so tight. My brain wasn't working at all. We finally saw the finish line and ran in. We crossed together and met Erin (she finished an hour before us and placed 3rd in her age group) and Jessica.

The run ended up taking me 2:54:55, which is my slowest 1/2 marathon EVER, and was alot longer than I was planning on. It was also much more painful than I expected. My feet were killing me. My third and fourth toes still have a little bit of tingling. My back was in spasms. I was thirsty. I was starving. My finishing time ended up being 7:06:50, which I'm pretty disappointed in.

The finish line was pretty dull. I got my timing chip removed, hugged Melissa, Erin, and Jessica and headed to pick up my finisher's plaque. The only food was pizza from Casey's General Store, which I skipped, in spite of being STARVING. I ran into Chris, Andy, Heather, and Tamara and chatted with them for a minute. I grabbed a Cherry Coke, which may have been the best cherry coke EVER. We waited around for awards since Erin got 3rd in her age group. Chris Sweet won first overall, Tamara won her age group, and Andy placed 3rd in his age group, so the Tri-Sharks were well represented. After the trophy's, it was off to transition to pack up our stuff. I was incredibly slow, but eventually got everything together. We loaded up and headed over to the campground for showers, which consisted of a very cold trickle, but felt pretty good. Then it was a quick stop at Subway and we were on the way home.

So, there's my race report. I finished my first 1/2 ironman distance triathlon, and while it wasn't at all pretty, it's in the books and it's done. I can swim 1.2 miles without stopping or freaking out, even when people are bumping into me and elbowing me in the head. I can ride 56 miles on Oscar the bike and still feel like riding more. I can struggle through a 13.1 mile run, even when it's incredibly painful, with the help and encouragement of friends. So, yeah, I'm a 1/2 Ironman.