Happy Thanksgiving

Here we are at that time of year already.  Time to stuff our bellies and reflect on all the wonderful things in our lives.  I have so much to be thankful for, I won’t bore you with the list.  Let’s just say I am feeling blessed this Thanksgiving.  I wish each of you a wonderful weekend of celebration.  Take some time for yourself to count your blessings.

Thanksgiving quotes

 

I’m In – 2014 Ironman Arizona

I had a great time in Arizona this past weekend spectating and volunteering at the Arizona Ironman.  Having run 9 marathons, some half marathons, and 2 triathlons the past few years, it was fun to go to a race and simply watch, cheer and volunteer.  And, YES, I did end up registering to do this race next year!

Ironman Arizona swim start

Ironman Arizona swim start

Sunday morning we got up early to watch the start of the race.  I spectated at my hubby’s Ironman in June, but this start was a little different as thousands of athletes were in the water and started at the same time.  It looked quite chaotic when the cannon went off signaling the start of the race.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little intimidated by imagining having to be in that craziness next year.

After watching the swim for a bit, we took a walk, got some coffee and went back to watch the swimmers come out of the water.  What a fun sight to see them climb out of the lake and then hit the ground while volunteers helped to pull their wetsuits off.  These volunteers were amazing!

wet suit strippersWe decided to hang out and watch as the swim finished up.  In Ironman races you are given 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete the swim portion of the race.  If you do not finish the 2.4 mile swim by then, you are pulled from the race and not allowed to continue.  I knew about this time limit, but never realized how many people it potentially affects.  The most depressing part of my day was seeing the swimmers that did not make the cut off time get pulled from the race.  Some racers were only seconds from completing their swim in time and got their timing chips pulled off their legs as they stepped out of the water and told their race was finished.  It still hurts me to think of how many hours of training over months and months these athletes put in to have their Ironman finished before they even get on their bike.  I understand why the race has to have cut off times throughout the day, but it was heartbreaking to watch it happen.

Next up, we watched some of the bike course and then had to grab lunch and get ready for our volunteer shift.

BikeMy husband and kids and I were signed up to volunteer at the first aid station on the run course.  The marathon was a 2 loop course, so our aid station was at miles 1 and 14.  Each aid station had a different theme, which really made it fun for the volunteers and the racers.  Our theme was super heroes.  We decided to go as a family of Batman (Batmen?!).

photoWe all had a great time at the aid station.  It was fun to get the inside look at an Ironman aid station.  It is so different than a marathon aid station.  I’m used to water and Gatorade on a marathon course, and maybe a GU station, but in Ironman, it’s like a buffet.  Water, ice, coke, Perform, oranges, bananas, GU, pretzels, chicken soup, potato chips.  Wow!  With all these options, I know that figuring out what fueling will agree with my stomach during such a long race is something I’ll have to work on this upcoming year.

My daughter handing off a drink.  Check out Wonder Woman in the background!

My daughter handing off a drink. Check out Wonder Woman in the background!

My kids loved helping out and my daughter thought it was really cool to hand off drinks to the professional triathletes that came through.  In what other sport do you get to race on the same course as a professional athlete and hand them drinks?!

After our 4 hour shift at the run station, we grabbed some dinner and went to the finish line to watch as the evening went on.  We spent a couple of hours at the finish line, and if you have never been to an Ironman race before, I would highly recommend hanging out at the finish line.  Mike Reilly (the voice of Ironman), calls out each racer’s name as they come through the finish chute and tells them “You are an Ironman!”.  It is an incredibly exciting and emotional thing to experience, even if you don’t know any of the athletes personally.

finish lineJust 360-some days until (God-willing) Mike Reilly calls out my name as I cross my first Ironman finish line.  Time to get to work…

Have you ever done an Ironman or spectated at a race?

Did anyone watch the Kona Ironman on TV this past weekend?

 

 

Ironman Arizona and Klean Athlete Ambassador Team Info

This weekend the family and I are headed to Arizona for this little race…

Ironman Arizona - Tempe, AZ

No, I’m not doing the Arizona Ironman, at least not this year!  My husband mentioned to me a few months ago that he wanted to do this race in 2014.  After completing the Coeur d’Alene Ironman in June, he was hooked and wants to do another.  So we made plans to go volunteer at the race this year.  The race sells out every year and is difficult to get into, but if you volunteer you are able to sign up prior to the registration opening up online.

Around the time my hubby mentioned wanting to race next year’s Arizona Ironman I was selected as the winner of the Klean Athlete Oath Contest Klean Athlete is graciously sponsoring me this coming year with many wonderful things from their amazing products to racing gear to race entry.  You might see where this is going…I am thinking about registering for the 2014 Arizona Ironman!  Sure I mostly talk about running and how much I LOVE to run, but I also have enjoyed learning to bike the past few years while training for the two MS 150 mile bike rides that I have done.  Yes, there is swimming involved in a triathlon as well, and that is one area I will need the most help with.  I know how to swim a bit, but certainly am not great at it.  This will all take much work and effort, but if there is something I know about myself, it’s that I’m not afraid of hard work, in fact I rather enjoy it and feel blessed to have the ability to train when many people living with MS and other ailments are not able to.

Speaking of this wonderful company, Klean Athlete, they are currently looking for endurance athletes to join their first team of ambassadors who embody the Klean values.  You do not have to be a professional athlete (although that’s great if you are!), you just have to believe in living a healthy lifestyle, enjoy training and competing clean, and want to help spread the word about the importance of nutrition for athletes.  Click here if you would like to find out more about the Klean Ambassador Team and how to apply.  Join me on the Klean Team in 2014!

Klean Athlete

Tell me in the comments what exciting plans do you have this weekend?

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NYC Whirlwind Weekend Part 2

I wrote about the first part of our amazing weekend in New York here.  After watching the elite runners through Central Park, I worked my way to the finish line in hopes of getting to see Rick complete his race.  I was able to get within 300 yards of the finish line (any closer and I needed to have a VIP pass).  It is always exciting and inspirational to spectate near the end of a marathon and the NYC marathon was no exception.  Fortunately I did manage to see Rick and got to cheer him on those last few hundred yards.

Rick is behind the guy in red, wearing blue shorts and dark shirt

Rick is behind the guy in red, wearing blue shorts and dark shirt

As I mentioned in Part 1, Rick had been battling a bad cold the week leading up to New York, so he was not in great condition to be running 26.2 miles.  However, I’m incredibly proud of him for getting through the race despite being sick (and getting sick at mile 18)!  Rick was greeted at the finish line by John McEnroe for some pictures for the Dove campaign (I’m still hoping to see some of these shots!), then we were able to meet up on the walk out of the park with thousands of other runners.

Doesn't he look great for having just run 26.2 miles?!

Doesn’t he look great for having just run 26.2 miles?!

While other runners had to walk miles to catch a taxi or get on the subway to get back to their hotels, we were whisked into the Trump Tower just a block from the finish line where the Dove team had the most amazing suite on the 15th floor overlooking Central Park.  They provided us with pizza and beer, and we hung out there the rest of the afternoon while the other Dove marathoners finished their race.

View of Central Park

View of Central Park

View of Columbus Circle and part of the marathon course

View of Columbus Circle and part of the marathon course

 

As if the entire day was not wonderful already, the highlight was getting to hang out with John McEnroe for the afternoon.  He came up to the suite and spent time congratulating all the men that had run.  He stayed in the suite with us for about 2 hours and we got a bunch of pictures with him and I even had my own conversation with him for a bit.  My mom loved watching tennis as I was growing up, and McEnroe was a familiar face in my household for many years, so it was quite an experience getting to meet him.

James, John, and Rick

James, John, and Rick

 

Dove Men's team and John McEnroe (waiting for 2 more team members to finish)

Dove Men’s team and John McEnroe (waiting for 2 more team members to finish)

Rick, John, and me!

Rick, John, and me!

On Monday we had all day before our evening flight, so we spent it by going to Central Park (can you tell I LOVE the park?!), going to the 9/11 Memorial, and eating and shopping in Grand Central Station.

Selfie in Central Park

Selfie in Central Park

One of the 2 reflecting pools at the 9/11 Memorial

One of the 2 reflecting pools at the 9/11 Memorial

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station

It’s been a week since our trip and Rick and I are both still in disbelief that we got to have such an amazing experience.  Thank you to Dove Men+ Care for selecting Rick as one of the winners of the NYC Marathon Contest.  We feel incredibly blessed to have had this trip of a lifetime and we will never forget it.

 

 

 

 

NYC Whirlwind Weekend

We made it back from our whirlwind of a weekend in New York City.  My husband and I both got sick before leaving to NY and have not been able to get completely over this cold since being back home this week, so I have been delayed in posting about our incredible weekend.

We arrived in NYC at 5:30am Saturday morning.  I’ve never taken a red-eye flight before, so it was a new experience to try to sleep enough on the plane to hit the ground running and be able to function all day once we arrived!  But hit the ground running is exactly what we did.  We were taken from the airport directly to Central Park where we met up with the rest of the Dove Men+ Care Marathon Team.  You can read more about my hubby winning this awesome contest that sent him to New York to run the marathon here.  I joined the team and their New York Road Runners Coach for a short shake out run near the marathon finish line in Central Park.  The Park was already hopping and energetic at 7am with other runners and people gathering around the finish line.

IMG_5469

4 of the 6 Dove Marathon team members with their NYRR Coach John Honerkamp in the middle

As part of winning the Dove contest, Rick received a training plan and coaching from the New York Road Runners, along with getting advice from John McEnroe throughout the training.  NYRR Coach John Honerkamp ran this year’s marathon along side Olympian Summer Sanders and helped her achieve a 3:24 marathon!

After our run in Central Park we were treated to a great breakfast and then hit up the expo.  The expo was so crowded that we had to wait in line 20 minutes just to enter the building.

Entering the expo

Entering the expo

After Rick picked up his race packet, we did a little shopping, bumped into a fellow Albuquerque runner, and then decided to head back to the hotel for some much needed rest.  Dove gave us the red carpet treatment all weekend and put us up at the beautiful W Hotel.  After a little nap we got ready to meet up with the rest of the team.  The team had a conference call with John McEnroe, who gave them some last minute race day advice.  He has obviously had a lifetime full of stressful competitive situations and it was fun to hear how he handled his pre-tennis match nerves and anxiety.   After the call, Dove took all of us out to a great pre-race dinner.

Early the next morning Rick met the team and they headed to Staten Island and Marathon Village to await the start of the race.  They had a few hours to wait and were fortunately able to pass the time in their private bus and stay warm.  While I was envious of everyone getting to race, I was also content to stay in my warm bed a little longer that morning!  I enjoyed watching the live TV coverage of all the racers gathering at Fort Wadsworth and seeing the start of the elite races.  Then I headed out into the city for some marathon spectating.

I found a great spot near the southeast corner of Central Park where I watched the elite runners come by.  This was around mile 25.5 of the race.  It was exciting to see all the runners, but I was especially thrilled to get a picture of the eventual men’s champion, and favorite US runners Meb Keflezighi, Ryan Vail and Amy Hastings.

IMG_5489

Geoffrey Mutai, NYC winner

Meb Keflefezghi

Meb Keflezighi

Ryan Vail

Ryan Vail

Amy Hastings

Amy Hastings

After the excitement of all the elite runners flying by, I had a little time before getting ready to see my husband at the finish, so I wandered through Central Park for a bit.  The Park is so enormous that even though the largest marathon in the world was taking place through the Park, there were areas of complete peace and quiet.  I love this place!  I found myself near mile 25 and stopped to watch for a while.  The sub 3 hour runners were just hitting this point.  As I was randomly cheering people on, I saw Joan Benoit Samuelson come cruising by.  I wish I had my camera ready to get a shot of her.  I had heard her speak 2 weeks ago at the Nike Women’s Marathon Expo in San Francisco and she mentioned running the NYC Marathon.  It was so cool to see her run by and win her age group with an astounding 2:57:13!

I admit, I’m a bit of a running geek, I get so excited to see these amazing athletes.  For those of you not so into all this running stuff, I’ve probably lost your attention, but next I get back to cheering my hubby on, whom I’m super proud of for getting through a tough race sick.  For now, I’m off to bed to attempt to get over this nasty cold.

Did any of you watch the marathon race coverage on TV?