Tuesday, June 23, 2015

That hurt.

If I could sum up the Grand Rapids Triathlon in one word, it would be... "humbling." 

After my (positively) shocking result from Leon's last weekend, I had confidence that my body was half Ironman race ready (I naturally do better when the distances get longer since I'm more of an "endurance" athlete), and set a few goals. 

Yeah, that weekend kind rocked.

One goal I always set is to have the fastest run as this forces me to push hard the entire time: regardless of what place I'm in, if this is a "key race," I should push hard until I cross that finish line. Advice to anyone coming back from injury: don't set big goals for your first race back unless you have a positive support system to help you handle your emotions after crossing the finish line.

When I came back from my knee injury last year and raced Muncie 70.3, I was in a similar situation in terms of fitness, so used those swim/bike/run times as my goals.  At Muncie last year, I swam 37ish minutes, biked 2:37ish, and ran 1:25:55. 

Keeping in mind that I did not start triathlon training with Coach Bill until May 3rd, I reminded myself that my swim and bike might not be quite where I would hope. The goal for Grand Rapids was to be under 40 for the swim (again, a slow swimmer with only 5 weeks of practice... not a good combo), under 2:40 for the bike, and 1:25 for the run. I figured the run would for sure happen, and the other two would just be icing on the cake.

Good thing I didn't bet Ryan on it, because I would have lost money.

A few weeks before Leon's Triathlon, one of our EGO p/b Sammy's Teammates, Alex, had mentioned the Grand Rapids Triathlon. It offers a Sprint, Olympic and Half distance, so Ryan and I were sold, but I just had to decide if doing a Half would be a smart idea. After running 10 miles on Memorial Day with no pre/during/post-run pain, we figured my body was back to normal and I could register for the Half. EEK.

Alex was awesome enough to host Ryan, me, and our teammates Chris and Katie. His mom, aunt and awesome wife Dani treated us to a delicious pre-race meal of bison/sweet potato tacos and spinach salad. I can't believe I didn't take a picture, but boy was it delicious. 

This would be Alex's first Half, so we planned around his schedule in terms of race day arrival (note to first-timers: it's always important to arrive earlier than you would expect to kind of ease your mind/body of any nerves). Alex's lake house was about an hour away, so we were up at 3:30 (2:30 Chicago time) to head out by 4am. It was again down-pouring and I was starting to get nervous for what this could mean for our race. I mean, we didn't drive all this way just to eat brunch (though, that was an added perk of doing this race).

Luckily, the only lightning we saw was on the car ride to Grand Rapids. When we arrived (maybe the 8th car to do so!), we figured we would grab our race packets then come back to the car and get race ready. Ryan, Alex and I walked the quarter mile to grab our packets, and realized we should have just brought our bikes. Instead, we walked back to the cars to get race ready. In the midst of rushing, I left my Garmin 920 on the passenger seat. Fortunately, I had my bike Garmin...which really is all that matters since that's the area that I need to improve in the most (though I secretly like knowing my run splits!).

The Swim:
Fastest 1.2mile swim to date!!
Ryan and Alex started before my teammate Katie and I did, so we had a good 10 minutes to hang around. This proved to be a good thing as getting on wet wetsuits is actually much more challenging than you'd think. 

I also had time to find someone with a dry shirt (a challenging task on this rainy day!) and asked this cute older man to borrow a dry portion of his shirt to wipe my goggles. Thanks goodness he let me!

I positioned myself in the middle of the group of women and listened to the countdown. We had been told that the turn buoys were the "candy corn" looking ones, so while other girls were going around the circular and non-candy-corn-colored buoys, I was making a straight path the the candy-corn colored one to swim less yardage! I do wish I would have had my Garmin 920 on so that I could have seen the path I took as it definitely felt as though I took the most direct route in comparison to the other girls who followed the sight buoys. I used my "50 strokes HARD/25 strokes easier" technique and was actually passing a lot of people, which naturally shocked me. I glanced at the time-of-day clock as i came out of the water--7:45:xx. This got me thinking, If they really sent us off at 7:10 like they said, that means I swam a 35:xx, whaaaat?! I would have to wait until the results were posted to find this out, but I still felt pretty good coming out of the water.

Transition 1:

Un/Fortunately my bike was racked with Ryan and our teammate Chris, so there was only my bike and one other left when I got to the rack. My only thought was Please tell me there's a porta-potty in transition...no luck. After thinking that I was having a good swim and that this could mean a good day for me, I tried to focus my mind on other things and quickly left transition.

1 bathroom break

I wasn't able to focus my mind for long. For those who maybe don't do the longer triathlon distances, I'll let you in on a little secret: triathletes pee on their bikes. Think about it: you have to slow down to pull up to a porta-potty, then you actually have to go to the bathroom in the porta-potty, then you have to start back up again on your bike from a dead stop....even if you're only in the bathroom for 1 minute, the time it takes to stop and restart is probably close to that so you essentially waste 2-3 minutes!

For me, it was something I had to do. This cost me at Muncie last year, and I knew it could potentially cost me my hopeful top-3 finish today, BUT I also knew that my watts were SUPER low since I couldn't push my legs like normal. 

The volunteers were so cute and held my bike as I flew in and out of the porta-potty. I checked to make sure I wouldn't be violating a USAT rule that could potentially DQ me by mounting my bike when no other riders were coming. Almost immediately, I was riding less than 10 watts under what I was hoping for (prior to my break, I might as well have been on a spin bike in terms of my low watts!). Unbelievable what one little bathroom break can do!

The nice part about the Grand Rapids Tri was that it was a simple out and back bike course, so I was able to not only see Ryan, Alex and Chris crushing it, but I was also able to count how many girls were ahead of me.

The tricky part was that the Athena and Relay ladies started 10 minutes ahead of us; I decided just to count every girl I saw as I would rather count too high than too low. At the turnaround, there were 12 girls ahead of me. I had hoped to have less than 10 to catch, so was a bit bummed, but that turned into motivation on my ride back.

I hopped off of the bike with only 8 girls to catch on the run, knowing I had my work cut out for me if I wanted to reach my goal of a top 3 finish.

Transition 2:

All the bikes except for mine back on the rack, I had to find an open spot to throw my bike (two riders placed their bike where mine should have been...oh well). I grabbed my Fastwtich and socks out of the garbage bag, and was surprised that they weren't completely drenched. I threw them on, grabbed my bib belt and 2 PowerGels and headed off to the run.

Fastest female run. 8th overall fastest run.

Finally! I honestly had not even looked at the course as I didn't care to psych myself out for any portion of my first tri back. I quickly learned it would be a double-loop course, which could potentially work in my favor in terms of seeing what girls were ahead of me.

I saw one female almost right away, thinking there is NO way this girl is NOT on a relay...she is SO far ahead! Turns out she would be the winner by almost 10 minutes. What? Yeah, she out-biked all but 17 guys out of the 438 finishers, so I'd say that's probably how she won the race. 

I saw two other girls relatively far ahead, and figured a top 5 is still a respectable first-race-back kind of finish. It felt like it took forever to reach the girls who were ahead of me, but each time I did, I felt a tiny boost of energy.... similarly to the boost I'd feel after taking my two vanilla PowerGels! I know it seems crazy, but I swear those things get my legs pumped back up and reenergized! 

I was not a fan of the run course to be honest, despite many factors working in my favor. The run course is a 2-loop course. Instead of just being a loop or an out-and-back, there were two times where you'd turn onto a street, run to the end, run around something to turnaround, and run back out... while it was great in terms of seeing people in front of you, mentally it kind of sucked. Plus, these parts also had hills so it definitely challenged everyone both physically and mentally.

By the time I started my second loop, I had calculated that the best place I could do was 4th, which was what my teammate Katie was currently in. She had done major work on the bike so was pretty far ahead of me, but I knew if I was to dig deep and really HURT, I could potentially catch her just before the finish line.

Sure enough, at mile 11.5 I could see her in front of me, within striking distance. I was lucky that the last 1.25miles were either flat or downhill, and used that to my advantage. Katie was hilarious at the end: "And then just before mile 12, Jacqui comes flying by me, and I'm pretty sure I actually saw dust come off of her feet as she smoked past me." I do kind of wish I had my watch with me for the last 2-miles since I really feel like I had one of my best finishes of a triathlon during these last 2 miles. 

Home stretch!!

4th place female
Fastest female run split

LOVE this team<3 p="">
One of the most important things that I learned from this race was to be realistic. Yes, it is awesome to set high goals for yourself and get pumped up about a race....but when coming back from an injury that kept you out of training for 5 weeks, having high goals might set you up for disappointment. 

If I'm being honest (which, let's be real, I'm honest to a fault), I pictured myself running into Ryan's arms and breaking down crying about how awful this experience was for me multiple times on the run and the bike. All I kept wanting to do was finish the race so I could have my cry sesh with Ryan... yet, when I finished the race, Katie's comment really just made me feel so much better about my day, despite having no clue what any of my splits were. 

A big takeaway from my "comeback race" is that it's important to have those "test" races prior to a big race when coming back from any sort of injury. Use this "test" race as a learning experience and as a way to get your feet wet again in terms of competition. Not only will your body be able to physically adjust and remember what the race feels like, but your mind will be able to adjust as well. Having a "test" race is almost like a pre-test in school: you then get to correct your mistakes, learn from them, and perform better on the big test when things actually count. And this, I plan to do in a few short weeks. Stay tuned!

Reasons why I keep coming back for more.

As always, thanks to EGO p/b Sammy's Bikes for the sweet uniforms, team camaraderie, and best bike/equipment and bike tune-up in Chicagoland. Thanks to PowerBar for the nutrition that keeps me energized. Thanks to Saucony for the amazing shoes that help me chase down as many people as the race allows. And thanks to my incredible friends and family who believe in me and encourage me when I need it the most.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Exceeding Expectations

I promised in my last post that I would give it everything I had this weekend. And I did just that.

I had been very unexcited for Leon's Triathlon as the Olympic distance triathlons really just don't suit me well with my slow swim/mediocre bike/good run combination. I just kept reminding myself that it would be nice to get back onto the triathlon scene without any real expectations, and really just see how my knee would hold up with a swim and bike before my run.

All week Ryan, last year's champ, had been watching the weather. Crazy thunderstorms and 30+ mph winds were predicted for Sunday ever since he started looking at the 10-day forecast. Yeah, tell this to the girl who still gets scared of crashing on her bike. Ryan has incredible good bike-handling skills, so he wasn't worried, but I was kind of terrified that it could be down-pouring during our race.

If I'm being honest, I was pretty exhausted going into this race. Coach Bill had been increasing distances and intensities over the past few weeks after my knee was responding so well, so my body was feeling that fatigue. PLUS, the last week of school had just concluded. Let's just say that the energy levels of the kids during this week are through.the.roof. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love that these few days are a little more laid back and really cherished the time with my students, but boy did I crash HARD on Friday night.

Race morning came and we were up at 4:45 to make the drive from Ryan's parents house to Hammond, IN. The real nice part about this race being two days after school got out for summer was that 4:45 felt like sleeping in to me! After a quick stop at Dunkin Donuts for some coffee, we were on our way....to get there early and then just sit around for a few hours before our wave would begin.

As we were getting our transition area ready, Ryan was interviewed just like last year. We were about ready to leave transition when the reporters came back to interview me too, which was pretty cool (also super awkward since I wasn't really in the "runnings" to be a top finisher!). The only question I had a hard time answering was, "What is the best part of the race?" because I honestly wanted to say "the second I get out of the water"....but went with "the moment you cross the finish line and celebrate" instead. Hey, some people like swimming, so my actual answer seemed like a better response at the time.

Bikes in transition.
 Pretty much a celebrity.

Leon's Triathlon would be focusing mostly on the Military Race as it was the Military Triathlon National Championship race. The Military Race began at 7:30 and our Elite wave was set to take off at 8:45am.

And then the severe weather showed up. Ryan's dad made the trip to Hammond, IN, with us for the triathlon and told us that Ryan's youngest brother informed him that his baseball games were canceled due to the fields being under water. That storm was heading our direction.

Will they change it to a duathlon? Will they just do a bike/run race? Will they just do a running race? Will they cancel the race altogether?

My EGO p/b Sammy's teammates and I were huddled under the Sammy's team tent discussing those options. I told them I didn't really care what decision was made.... as long as we could all go out for breakfast after. I mean, that's part of why I get up for these early morning races/training days after all.

 "But we will get brunch after no matter what, right??"
All smiles when the new distances are announced!

At about 9:50am, over an hour after we were supposed to start our race, we were informed that we would be doing a modified sprint triathlon not only for safety reasons (in the water) but also due to flooding (on both the bike and run courses).

400m swim, 10mile bike, 5k run.

I quickly did the math in my head and realized that this actually bettered my chances of doing well in this pretty stacked female field. Local studs Jen Garrison, Jen Harrison, and Amanda Wendorff plus 2014 champ Megan James were all toeing the line, and I was honestly just hoping to not get smoked by this talented group.

Being that running is my strongest discipline, I knew that I would actually have a shot at being competitive with the change in distances of this race. I tried not to let myself get too excited by this realization, as anything can happen in a triathlon, no matter the distance.

THE SWIM--7:52, almost last place
There was mass confusion regarding the actual swim course, but most people seemed to get it figured out just before we took off. I hadn't worn a wetsuit probably since August (oops), but I was glad to have had it on since the water was cold (for me, who hadn't been in anything but ocean or pool water since August).

I like to pride myself in always finding the most direct route for the swim (mainly because I want to get out of the water as soon as possible), and Strava data showed I could claim that distinction with my swim from this race. I was able to sight pretty well despite the buoys being on the left (I breathe only to my right...something I need to work on) and kept noticing people drifting off course. This was likely the only reason I was not the last one out of the water from the "Elite" wave ;)

Transition 1--1:34
I quickly tore off my wetsuit as I ran toward transition, trying not to fall on the wet sidewalk and grass. I almost missed my bike as I was SO used to my old P5 and not my very distinct new red P5. I quickly threw on my helmet and rushed out of transition. As I hopped on my bike, I noticed big puddles of water in my right shoe and couldn't get my foot in right away. Ugh. Ryan's dad found a friend while spectating, who yelled out, "Not exactly a flying mount!" regarding my slow start on the bike. At least I can provide some laughs.

THE BIKE--28:01, 22ish mph
My bike Garmin wouldn't start, so I am glad I had my 920 on my wrist to at least gather some sort of data for me since I knew I would be pushing myself hard. The modified course was now just three loops with two hairpin turns down Calumet Avenue. At the first turnaround, I noted where my teammate Katie was and made it a goal to keep our gap the same each time as I know she's a good rider, so if I could maintain our gap, that would mean I was riding well.

With a sprint tri, there's really no point in even looking at your power since you just have to GO the whole time. 10ish miles isn't enough time to slack at any point. Ryan had warned me prior to the race distance change that the bike would be tough for me since I'm not very good at hairpin turns, so I tried to take them harder than usual while also being cautious of other riders.

Each loop got more challenging as more riders entered the course. Since I didn't have any data from my Garmin to look at anyway, I made it a goal to simply not crash with all of the mobs of people entering the course as the race went on.

I was only passed once... by my teammate Katie at the very end. I was beginning to pass a guy who was also nearing the end of our third (final) loop, and he freaked out and started pushing saying that we were close to the end... so I started to get my feet out of my shoes, only to realize I was doing it all too soon. Katie flew by me, so I told myself to make a quick transition out of my mistake.

Transition 2--
I quickly racked my bike, removed my helmet, took my shoes out of my garbage bag, decided not to use socks, slipped my shoes on, grabbed my race belt/bib, and was off.

THE RUN!!! 17:35 "5k"
FINALLY! I knew I had my work cut out for me as I thought I was sitting in 6th place. My top 5 goal would be pretty doable as I could see 5th place right in front of me. My teammate Alicia was biking in as I was running out and yelled to me, "The leader is only 400 yards ahead," which shocked me. I knew Jen Garrison was leading since she was right behind Ryan/Alex on the bike every time I saw her, which also told me she would be uncatchable. She is a threat in all three disciplines, so to even be close to her is considered a huge accomplishment!

I didn't know the run course, so was excited when I saw Ryan running my way (with Hootie leading him on the bike!). Ryan yelled to me that I could catch all of the girls, which made me literally laugh out loud as I was running. I was almost at the mile mark, so only had two miles to make up the time I lost on the bike and swim. Lucky for me, the run course had somewhat of an out-and-back so I was able to see how far down I was from the other girls.

I passed Jen Harrison just before the turnaround and her encouragement really ignited a spark in me. I split the first mile in 5:45, completely shocked since I felt like I wasn't moving very fast.

As we turned around, we were running into a wicked wind of 15-20mph. I told myself I needed to use this wind to my advantage and really power through it. Everyone I know who didn't start off as a runner prior to triathlon tells me that mentally running is the hardest, so I knew if I could stay tough that I would have a shot at catching up to most of the other girls ahead of me. I went past Amanda at about halfway and she looked strong, so I ran scared the rest of the way in.

When I saw my second mile split was a 5:47 with those crazy winds, I was a little scared that I was in for a whole lot of pain on the third mile.

I love running in the rain.

I thought at this point that I was in 2nd place, but didn't see last year's winner, Megan James, yet as she was pretty far ahead. It wasn't until we were closing in on the 3mile mark that I realized there was another girl ahead of me. The crowd at this point (near the swim exit) was going crazy, and Megan saw me coming.

I split that final mile in 5:56, but knew I had to dig real deep if I was going to get that second place finish.

We both full out sprinted, and I had my mind set on collapsing at the finish line if that's what it was going to take. I made a promise to myself, to anyone who reads my blog, and to my teammates that I was going to give it everything I had, and I honestly did not save anything.

I crossed the line in second place, shocking the heck out of Ryan. To see the shock and excitement on his face made me light up. I was so happy to have given it everything I had, especially after not even wanting to compete in this race at the beginning. The best part was that my knee didn't feel ANY sort of pain after the race, which means I am finally over this patella tendinitis!!!

Right after the race. Huddled under the pavilion for warmth.
1st place Coed Team division!!!

I can't even begin to describe how amazing everyone was before, during and after the race today.

My EGO p/b Sammy's Bikes teammates had the confidence in me that helped me stay tough and push hard the entire 56 minutes;) Really though, knowing that this was a team competition made me stay in this mentally because I wanted to help the team reclaim the Team trophy. Sammy does an incredible job of making sure we are all using top-of-the-line equipment and that we look good while racing;)

We ate as if we raced an Ironman or something....

Life Time Athletic Events and Dave K.: thank you for your excitement for me to be racing, and for your encouragement post-race as well. This crew knows how to have FUN at races and I can't wait to see you all this summer!!

HUGE thanks to all of our friends that were spectating and racing and cheering like crazy. Your excitement and encouragement gave me chills (it wasn't just the rain!) and I am so lucky to have such amazing friends that are as passionate about this sport as I am.

And lastly, thanks to everyone who has sent good vibes my way. Anyone who has gone through any sort of injury knows how hard it is to come back. The moments of doubt were seriously all erased as soon as they came because of all of the support I have had during this comeback :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Changes and Updates

Well, today was the third to last day of school. I had multiple students mention how I haven't blogged since April.... which is so cool to me that they think I'm interesting/crazy enough to read my blog, but, uh, YIKES, I can't believe it's been so long since I've written here.

You'd think since I was injured and out of running for 5 weeks that I would have had time to blog, but the funny thing about injuries is that they actually make you MORE busy. Physical therapycross training, and trying to get in that extra sleep (healing time!) really just add up, and here it is already June 3rd. Well, I'm happy to report that things have finally been going well, so here are some quick updates!


People use this phrase all the time (or maybe it's just a junior high thing...either way, I hear it all the time). I think one of the hardest parts about any injury is seeing someone close to you have the success that YOU were hoping to have. Ryan has just been DOMINATING the running and triathlon scene this year; because my big race was geared toward an OTQ at a marathon, it was really hard to see Ryan PR'ing left and right in running races. Obviously I am beyond proud of him, but at the same time it definitely made things harder since I wanted to be the one having that running success.

I think what helps in this situation (as I know a few others going through it) is to look back at times when you were successful as well. And, talk to someone about it. Talking to Ryan about how crappy I felt about myself when he would go and crush races helped me get my frustrations out.

I think something else that was really helpful was recognizing that since I couldn't run, it was just a sign that I needed to focus on my weaknesses (swimming and biking). I had so many people reach out to me during this hard time and tell me their struggle/comeback story and am incredibly appreciative of all of the support. It helped me stay positive and confident in my comeback and I hope I can do the same for someone else going through an injury as well.

Finally, a big thing that helped was focusing on what was positive in my life at the time. I am so lucky to have students who thing my running/triathlon journey is cool and some of them dressed up as me for "D: Dress Like a Teacher Day" for our ABC's End of School Year countdown. Seeing that they think my hobby is cool made me know that I need to take the healing process seriously so that I can come back and make them proud!

 Saucony clothes and shoes... I'd say they pegged me pretty accurately.
 My "School ID"
 I mean, how awesome are my students?
Ironman birthday card!! :)

The timing of my patella tendinitis was unfortunate as it happened right when track season began. Track practices were generally from 3-4:45pm Monday through Thursday, so getting in my physical therapy 2-3 times per week really exhausted me as I felt like my routine was just wakeup-workout-teach-coach-PT-workout-grade-bed and I could never catch up.

But, even with an overuse injury like patella tendinitis it is important to see a physical therapist as it really does speed up the recovery process. Plus, I revamped my strength training program with Earl at RMS Physical Therapy and have been feeling so much stronger lately. Even though they are just junior high students, I am absolutely going to be a stickler next year about incorporating a good strength program so that my athletes not only make it through the season without injury, but also develop good habits for whatever sport they may continue to participate in once they get to high school.

I have been coaching track ever since college and have been fortunate enough to coach at the high school and middle/junior high levels (two VERY different types of coaching!). Ever since I began teaching at my current school, I have been coaching the track team.

This year I seriously debated coaching or not because I knew I'd be into heavy training, but the excitement that I got from my students and last year's track athletes really convinced me to stick with it. And, boy, am I glad I did.

Over Memorial Day weekend, I was honored to join 5 of my junior high track athletes at the IESA State Track Meet in East Peoria, IL. An 8th grade shot put boy qualified as did our 7th grade 4x100 team, of which two athletes also competed in individual events (the 200 and 400).

 You're right. I didn't teach him anything about shot...but I was darn good at cheering.
Oh. The 7th grade Boys 4x100 got THIRD in State! WHAT?! 

I had secretly told myself in my "comeback schedule" that I would race Soldier Field to see where I was at....and then my boys qualified for State. This past track season has been interesting to say the least, and there are a lot of changes I'll be making for next year, but I was not about to pass up an opportunity to see this group give it their all at the State meet (plus, they asked me daily throughout May to come with...I mean, how can you say no to something as cute as that?).

Not gonna lie...the social life? almost nonexistent when Ryan and I are hardcore Kona training. We love hanging out with friends and family, but as anyone training for an Ironman knows, it's no easy feat and is incredibly time consuming.

With being unable to run for 5 weeks, I was able to add more social events to my calendar: bridal showers, baby showers, family parties, and even a bachelorette party for a good friend. Shoot, I even went all fancy and got my nails done... yep, the not running thing definitely affected my head;).

Can't even wait for June 20th!!! :)
Is she not the most adorable bride-to-be ever?
I was also able to have a mid-week date night with this stud for my birthday :)

I've alluded to it in posts before, but I am happy to actually write it in my blog: I am back training with Coach Bill Bishop. He was my first true triathlon coach when Ryan and I first qualified for Kona back in 2013. I took a few times to train for an Olympic Trials Qualifier for the marathon, so now that  the goal is Kona again, it only seemed right to return to the training that I knew and loved.

I learned a TON from Coaches Jen and Dave during my time with them, but it was really hard to not be doing the same training/be on the same training schedule as Ryan. My job is much more structured (i.e., I have to be at school from at least 7-3 daily, often staying until 4 or 5), so it's nice to have the same workouts to plug into the computrainer and have a little "date night" on the bikes with Ryan sometimes.

So romantic.

One of Bill's biggest concerns that we talked about was how I spread myself thin. Between teaching, coaching, getting my Master's (done with that), being the Run Coordinator at Life Time and training, Bill understandably was concerned for my sanity. This summer will obviously release many of the above responsibilities, but once school starts again I do plan on only teaching and training (and coaching track).

Kona 2014 was a horrible race for me with my giant mental breakdown on the bike, and that breakdown was caused by simply spreading myself too thin. So many triathletes are Type-A personalities, and we often put too much on our plates. I am very lucky to have people in my life to tell me that I'm doing too much,

After testing the knee on a few different types of runs, Bill gave the go ahead to run in a 10k this past Sunday. I am SO excited to report that it went well. The goal was to run it at usual Olympic distance triathlon pace (about 37-38min for the 10k). I ran it in 38:20 with slowing down dramatically during the last half mile to play it safe (really, check out the Strava file).

First place! Course Records! #FindYourStrong

Since we know the knee is good, I'm ready to go for Leon's Triathlon this coming Sunday. Olympic distance do not suit me well at ALL since I'm a slow swimmer, mediocre biker, and strong runner. The distances (1500m swim, 24.9mile bike, 10k run) just don't make it a race that I can be good at with my current fitness levels, but honestly, I'm just doing the whole thing with a giant goofy grin on my face because I am so freaking happy to be able to race again. I'm going to give it my all, since I have learned to use my talents and race even above my potential since I never know when it could be taken away from me.

Look for another blog update post-Leon's Triathlon. Thanks to everyone who has supported me through these past few months of coming back. I am truly blessed to have such an incredible support system in my life and can't wait to show you how much I appreciate it through my racing!