Thursday, July 16, 2015

The #Road2Rio; it's a family affair.

As I fly back from a week of some good training at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, I figure this is a good time to write about training and racing...and all that jazz.

This past month has been wonderful. Since our honeymoon, (and other than this camp) we have only traveled to see family and other than that, I have been home! It's been amazing. Getting into a routine with Dallas, with training and with everything else has been good for both the mind and body.

After the honeymoon race in Japan, I knew it would be a few months before the next big race and a good block of time for training. As you may know from previous posts, the Road2Rio is very much a road and the process to making it to the games next year is somewhat complicated. It combines a points system, world rankings and key races that can potentially earn you a slot on the team. But only if you have already earned a country slot. It's confusing to say the least. But basically, starting now through next June, if I am ranked in the top 6 in the World AND 1st or 2nd in the US, AND do well at these key races (that I need current points to get into) AND if we've earned a country slot for our classification, then I get on the team for Rio. Get it? Me either.
What I do know, is that there are 2 key races coming up still this year that I need to well in. A race in Rio on Aug 1st that is a test event for the Paralympics and a preview for the course. It doesn't give us more points than any other race, but seeing the actual race course for next year is invaluable. This is a race that not everyone gets into, and I'm thrilled that I am on the start list.
Perhaps the biggest race of the year is World Championships this Sep in Chicago. It's the biggest becasue you can earn you the most points, which can help determine your world ranking and set you up nicely for next year. The more points you have, the higher world ranking you have.

I set off for two solid months of training after our honeymoon and I'm happy to say they have gone pretty well. My quad issue from March seems to have gone away as long as I maintain my recovery and give it some extra love. The older I get, the more recovery I need. Each discipline has been steadily improving and although I'm still not where I want to be, I am happy with my progress.

I really think that having Dallas has given me some added patience in both life and this Road2Rio. Before I had him, I dreamed of all my fitness coming back overnight and my speed faster than ever. While I do think I have the potential to be my fastest ever, I realized many months ago that it wasn't going to happen overnight; but I was OK with it. Knowing that if I truck along day by day, week by week, I would eventually get there. And seeing the progress and the times continue to drop, I am confident that that will be the case. I keep telling myself that Rome wasn't built in a day, and my fitness can't be built back in a day either. This is a huge year for all of us vying for Rio next year and as the races come and go, I need to be fast and work my way towards (and up) the podium. Over the past few months I've learned that I need to focus on my times, and my workouts and be happy with how far I've come. It's so easy to compare yourself to everyone else and question your abilities, when I can just look at myself and be happy. So while this is a make and break year on the Road to Rio, I'm taking it day by day. Slow and steady. With the goal this year to make the team for Rio and then take it from there.
Perhaps most importantly, I believe. In myself, in my training and that any sacrifices made along the way will be worth it in the end. And thankfully I've got a pretty great family behind me every step of the way.

Speaking of family, we have a crawler! It's pretty cool to get home and see him look up, smile and then crawl towards you. He also loves the water, had his first boat ride, loves bananas, eats sand and likes to chew on his brothers toys. His brother, who may (gasp) be taking on the big brother role a little bit more...
He's a happy boy most of the time and we just love him so very much. Still a growing boy, tall and lean, like his dad, but the cutest baby ever. I know I'm biased, but seriously, he is. We've brought him to a few of the triathlons we've done and it's fun to see him hanging out in transition with the athletes. I know Brian is hoping for a hockey player, but maybe if he hangs around triathlons, I can sway him that way. Plus the doctor said he was impressed he was sitting up in his crib a few months back, so he basically said he's going to be a pro athlete.
Brian and I really are so lucky.

We went out to South Carolina to see my parents and my sister's family. Always a great time and some serious cousin love. I so wish we lived closer. 

It's somehow been over 2 months since we got married and we've settled into the married life. Not that it's much different than before, everyone asks us that. I truly am a lucky girl to have Brian's support, always doing whatever he can to make sure I get in my workout. Watching Dallas on the weekends I'm away for training, or a race and just being my biggest cheerleader. It's not just the #road2rio, it's the #mommyroad2rio AND the #familyroad2rio. I'm a lucky girl.

Peace Out!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Honey (swim, bike, run) moon.

Somehow it's been almost a month since we've gotten home from our glorious 12 day honeymoon,
but as usual, better late than never right?

The trip started (after a long goodbye to Dallas) in luxury as we boarded our plane and made our way into first class for the long trip to Tokyo. Turns out there was a benefit to racking up some serious United miles over the years and using them all for this one flight. This made for a happy 6 '4' husband, a happy me, and a pretty great way to start the big trip.

We landed in Tokyo somewhat rested and eventually made our way to our hotel. Working our way through the masses of people and the Tokyo subway system with our luggage and my bike box, was not the highlight of our trip. But we got there and started our short 2 day stint in Tokyo early the next morning.
We had a list of the top 10 things to do in Tokyo and had a solid 5 that we were hoping to knock out in 1 day. One of them was the Tsukiji fish market where everyday the public can line up at 430am, and they let the first 120 people into this tuna auction which is apparently a pretty cool sight to see. Jetlag was on our side as we were up already at 330am the next morning so we jumped in a cab, only to get to the fish market and find that it was closed. Apparently it closes on some random Wednesdays, and that was the random one. The cab driver still dropped us off and we found ourselves wandering in a random Tokyo neighborhood at 430am trying to figure out what to do. Naturally, we found an open convenience store, got some coffee and candy and sat on a bench at 445am eating our Japanese candy. Pretty amusing at the time. And still now.
We made our way back to the hotel and got the day started...again. We went on this awesome run through this park to this temple that was incredibly peaceful. We got back to the hotel just in time for a for real earthquake. Like, for real. Where the hangers in the closet shake and everything. A unnerving, yet slightly cool experience but one I'd be happy about not re-living anytime soon.
We continued the day with the Tokyo tower, some tasty Ramen noodles, seeing some Sumo wrestling which is just what you would imagine it to be. These huge guys wearing small pieces of 'cloth' trying to push eachother out of the sumo ring. A really cool thing to see and learn about. Plus, it made Brian feel better about all the pizza he ate the night after the wedding... That night we tried one of the local restaaurants. All which seat a whopping 12-15 people, filled with smoke (they still smoke inside, blah) and a pretty tough language barrier. I still don't really know what we ordered, something about a shrimp ball, but everyone was friendly enough, we got to try some sake and the food was decent.
The next morning we got back to the fish market, missed the tuna auction again but had some pretty fresh and delicious sushi for breakfast at 6am.
All in all, Tokyo was a cool place but nowhere I would run back to. A tough language barrier, commerce and people everywhere (think 10 Manhattans) and just a much different culture. Glad to have gone but no rush to go back.

From Tokyo we made our way to Yokohama where I was to race ITU Yokohama with some other Team USA athletes. This race was built into the trip long ago and the reason Japan was added to the trip. Everyone kept commenting on how great it was that our honeymoon included a triathlon but really, it was only fitting. And Brian was such a trooper and supporter to agree to making this a dual purpose trip. A little honeymoon, a little race. No biggie right!  And this was another chance for me to get my precious points I needed on my Road2Rio.
The race went pretty well, even with the downpour that accompanied it. I was hoping to take first (aren't we all) but ended up with second. I improved from the previous race and as long as I continue to do that at each race, I can't complain. Plus I got the points i needed to keep myself where I needed to be in the world rankings for the next big race. And of course, any time spent with Team USA is a good time by me.

From Japan we flew to Hawaii, crossed the International Date Line and the world turned twice and went backwards. That didn't actually happen but the time change was brutal. Leaving Japan at midnight, getting to Hawaii at noon and all turned around.
We got off the plane a little dazed, woke up a bit from the breeze in our convertible and made our way directly to Pearl Harbor. Where even in our sleepy state were amazed at the history and the meaning behind the memorial. A sight to see and a way to remember how lucky we all are. Just like so many other days, a day to never forget.
After we got some sleep, the next 5 days were pretty dang amazing. Hiking up Diamonds Head crater, a Luau, where I learned to hula, Brian learned to spear throw and we got to show off our dance moves up on stage.
A luxurious stay at Turtle Bay resort on the North shore where we spent the days relaxing by the pool with a drink in hand but also taking advantage of all the island had to offer. Think horseback riding on the beach, snorkeling, helicopter tours, picnics on the beach, morning coffee on our balcony, surfing (yes, I got up!), drinking coconut water directly from the coconut, sunrises, sunsets..this was a honeymoon!
Not to mention that we had a brief run in with Dog the Bounty Hunter. If you don't know who that is (don't worry I didn't either) Brian can tell you all about him.
We got to facetime with Dallas often and knew that the grandmas were taking great care of him. Thank you Grandma Deb and Nana! It wasn't until the second to last night when the majority of the conversation revolved around Dallas and we realized we were probably ready to get back home and see our little man.

We left Hawaii as a sun- kissed happily married couple ready to get back home and see our boys. 12 amazing days and a trip that we will never, ever forget. The craziness of Tokyo, some swim bike and run action and the relaxing days of Hawaii.

Like I said, it's somehow been a whole month since we've been back and we've gotten back into our routine. Brian is back at work after his shoulder surgery. Back to playing golf and as of this Friday, hockey. We did a local triathlon last weekend and I'm back training and getting ready for my next big race at a test event in Rio on Aug 1st.
Dare2tri has had a busy few weeks with our life changing 3 day camp, an inaugural military camp and getting ready for some upcoming races. Our motto 'one inspires many' is as accurate as it gets.

Dallas continues to be as cute as can be. Seriously. I know I am biased, but he really is like, the cutest most handsome, sweetest boy ever. And already 6.5 months old! We've started swim lessons, he eats bananas, he laughs, he smiles all day long and he'll be crawling in the next few weeks. He stares at Jake and just giggles. Jake however, does not feel the same, and still has not returned the giggles. Once Dallas starts crawling he's not going to have much of a choice. Dallas has already chosen Jake as his bff with 4 legs. Benji, Keri's son, is his chosen 2 legged bff.

So, life continues. A wedding, a honeymoon and now back to it.
I'll get into more of the training and the racing and all that jazz next time, this is long enough.

But there you are. A honey (swim, bike, run) moon.
Until next time,


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Announcing Mrs. Melissa Stockwell Tolsma; a race (I mean wedding) recap.

That's me, that's me!!! I'm officially a Tolsma and officially have a husband. And it couldn't of been
better. It truly was, the best night of my life.

Things started to get real a few days before the wedding when family and friends stated to get into town. By Thursday, and the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, the euphoria of what was happening really set in as I looked around on Thursday night to my very best friends and family all together to celebrate us. A feeling I can't even explain.

I said goodnight to Brian on Thursday knowing that the next time I would see him would be at our first look the next day. I went back to the hotel room with a few of my bridesmaids and we stayed up chatting and laughing as they had written some 'words of wisdom' down for me as a soon to
be married lady.  I know I say it often, but I have some of the very best friends. With me through thick and thin and always there with a hug, a smile, an ear and always up for anything. The older we get, the closer we get and absolutely, friends for life.

Friday morning was an early one as we woke up for a wedding day run around beautiful Lincoln Park and a beautiful morning. My good friend from my ROTC and Army days, Missy, joined in and we ran around singing cadences like we did
back in the day. I'm sure anyone we passed thought we were crazy but we were loving it.
A coffee and a shower later and all the bridesmaids and my mom started with hair and makeup in the hotel bridal suite. The stylists and make up artists were fabulous and everyone looked stunning.
I was feeling pretty calm the whole day except for a few moments of stress when we had to decide if the ceremony was inside or outside. We had originally planned an outdoor ceremony (although a beautiful inside venue as well) but chances of rain were not good and the radar was showing a huge green patch coming our way. It was a tough decision when we finally decided inside, becasue I had images of an outdoor ceremony in beautiful, 60 degree, low humidity weather. But alas, that was not meant to be.

The weather held for pictures and I saw Brian for the first time on this bridge with the city in the background. He was standing there and I walked up unable to contain my excitement and my smiles. I tapped him on the shoulder, he turned and it was a moment to forever remember. A few tears, many hugs, many was I lucky enough to marry this handsome man? Dallas looked equally as handsome in his own 3 piece gray suit, I mean seriously people, my heart about stopped when I saw him. He's already breaking the hearts of women around the world with all his cuteness. Many pictures were taken and in a stroke of luck, an ice cream truck came by as we were finishing up and we got to get some pictures with the truck and the ice cream. It was

We made our way back to the hotel for a few minutes before boarding a trolley to head back over to the ceremony. My dad and I had our own trolley and it was a special moment as we chatted about life and about love and saying everything that should be said before walking down the aisle. My dad has been there with me through it all, always steady like a rock and it was a special moment for the two of us.
By this time the rain had started and I felt better about my decision to have things indoors.

The ceremony was perfect. Seeing all my family and friends as I walked down the aisle towards Brian, seeing Dallas ride his way down in a wagon, Jake as the ring bearer, hugging our parents, a great sermon by friend and officiant Gary,
honoring America with the bagpipes playing Amazing Grace and a flag folding ceremony with the help from fellow veterans Dan and Jen, our own personal vows, some thunder from the storm outside,  and finally becoming Brian's wife as we were announced for the first time. A ceremony full of laughs and some tears and a love that could be felt from everyone in the room. A permanent smile as it was one of the happiest moments of my life. Marrying my best friend and entering into a family that had welcomed me into theirs from day one. Have I mentioned yet that I'm a lucky girl?

The ceremony turned into a reception and a party that I will never forget. Dancing the night away
with my new husband, with family and friends and so much love. Hearing the MSU fight song, our song, Hold On by Wilson Philips and the memorable God Bless the USA, in a tribute to America that was one of my wedding highlights. The Hoffman family even got Brian down on the floor for a Gator dance and initiation into our family.
And becasue a night of dancing just wasn't enough, 40 of us boarded a trolley from 12-2am to continue the party around Chicago. It's a night you just don't want to end.
When we got back to the hotel a little after 2am we went to bed so happy, so exhausted and just so very thankful. Memories made that will last a lifetime.

The next day was spent with family and a tasty brunch and then writing instructions for our moms who were watching the house, the dog and
Dallas while we are gone for 11 whole days on our honeymoon.

Then on Monday, we packed up our things, said a tough goodbye to Dallas and Jake and headed off to the airport in our post wedding, newly married bliss.

A honeymoon recap will be for another blog along with a race recap of a race I just did in Yokohama, Japan. Mixing pleasure with a little business as we spend part of our honeymoon with Team USA. It only seems fitting.

So there you go, a newly married Mrs. Melissa Stockwell Tolsma. To answer your question on if I'm changing my name (I get it a lot), I think I
eventually will. At least on the personal side. But while I may be a Tolsma now, don't worry dad, I'll always be your little girl.

Coming next is a honeymoon/race recap blog. Until then, love to you all, we're off to Hawaii!


Saturday, May 2, 2015

CAMTRI Paratriathlon Championships; a race recap.

Another plane, another blog.
As I head home from Monterrey and the race yesterday I couldn't be happier. A 2nd place finish and happy tears as I crossed that finish line yesterday. Happy tears because I had given it my all, happy tears because I was back out on the race course and happy tears because I had raced a good race and was on my way back home to marry Brian and to see Dallas. It was a good day indeed.
The race venue was beautiful. Our hotel was as close to the venue as it could get and it was in this park that was surrounded by mountains, clean and a flat, fast race course that ran through it.
Most of Team USA got there on Wed and I can't go any further before saying how much I love my teammates. Teammates that I've raced with since 2009 and many new, fresh and fast racers that make up our awesome group. It's always a fun time when we are together and this race was no exception. We had 10 Dare2tri elite team members at this race so a great showing of our #oneinspiresmany group!
We got to preview the course on Thursday and we all knew it would be a fast one. The swim was in this lazy river looking thing that had a few curves but was chlorinated and as close to a pool swim as you could get. The bike was 6 laps around the park in a windy 'S' pattern and completely flat and the run a similar path along the swim course. The female PT2's had seven in our class this race, which is a decent amount. There were 4 Americans; one included a newcomer and a teammate of ours that could add a new dynamic to our class as she is competitive and a great athlete. It was her (Alyssa), Hailey, Sarah R and myself. Then there were 2 athletes from South America and Kim from Canada who we have raced with many times. Remember that this race was only for Canada, US and South American athletes. As I went to bed on Thursday night I had 2 main goals. One was to podium and the other was to Run happy, something I don’t often do. And with the quad issues I had been having I knew that could be more of a challenge than usual. I got to room with my good friend Patty and we gave each other some good words of encouragement the night before the race and promised each other that we would just do our best and remember that when things got tough, that we deserved to be there.

The PT2’s went off at 9am. I had a decent swim and I always work to get out of the water as quick as possible to have the greatest possible lead on the field. The swim felt good, I got out, struggled a bit with my wetsuit but made my way to T1 and was out on the bike pretty quickly. Now, in the past I have had a mental block on the bike where I sit there and pedal, just waiting for someone in my class to pass because in my mind, it’s only a matter of time. I tell myself to go, go, go but usually it’s not until someone passes that a fire is lit and I start going as hard as I can. I talked about this to Coach Chris before the race and she said that every minute I needed to check in with myself to make sure I was giving it my all. So that I did. And I had the best bike ever. I felt so strong and refused to let myself worry about any pain in my leg and how it would affect my run. I went hard from the beginning and wouldn’t let myself give in. At the end of the 4th lap Hailey caught up and I told myself to just keep her in my sight and to keep and was thrilled when I got to T2 just behind Hailey and was in second place. Hailey beat me out of transition and was off. I know she is a fast runner and she was out of sight pretty quick. I wasn’t sure who was in 3rd but my new goal was to not let them catch me. I ran my race, my quad felt remarkably well and I even managed to blurt out a ‘Run Happy’ to Patty when I saw her. My pace was the best it’s been all year and as I got to the finish chute I was overwhelmed with happiness. A second place finish, my first race sub 1:30 (although the course was a little short) and I had truly met my goals and given it my all. Not to mention that this was the last triathlon before I would become a Mrs.

There were happy tears as I hugged Coach Stacee and I was thrilled. Alyssa came in not to far after me and to make the day even sweeter, it was a USA sweep. As we stood on that podium hearing the national anthem with 3 American flags raised high, I stood there with this smile, just thinking about how far I had come and was just really proud of myself. A year ago when I found out I was pregnant, my goal was to have Dallas and to be back on the race course. And there I was a new mom, putting in the training hours to be back out there, on the podium, wearing the USA uniform and just so very happy.

My next race is in 2 short weeks in Yokohama as part of our honeymoon. I earned a good amount of points yesterday at the race and if I do well enough in Japan I could be set up pretty well and move my way many places up in the world rankings. The goal for now is to have enough points to qualify for a race in Rio on Aug 1 that is a test event for the Paralympics next year. That will be a key race that could possibly determine if I make it to the Paralympics next year.
And then in 6 days, I get to wear my wedding 
dress and marry my best friend. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my wedding week.

 But now, I’m on the plane back to Chicago where my whole family will be meeting me at the airport and I can’t wait to squeeze them all. Being away certainly isn’t easy and I can’t wait to hug Brian and hold Dallas’ little head.

And the next time I write, I will be Mrs. Brian Tolsma and a married woman!

Until then,


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Swim, Bike Run, GET MARRIED!

Apparently planes are meant for writing blogs because here I am on another flight and finally finding
a moment for an updated blog. The last time I wrote, I was on a plane coming home from Australia pumped about 6 good weeks of training before my next race in Mexico. And here I am on that plane to Mexico (with a quick stop in Mississippi) for my next race. Oh, how time flies.

Things did slow down a bit over the past few weeks, which has been nice. More time spent at home with my boys and getting the details set for our wedding which is, gasp, next Friday! Brian had his shoulder surgery a few weeks ago and has been at home unable to work again until after the wedding. All things considered, the timing has worked out well, as he’s been a huge help working on some of the wedding details and helping with all the planning. I’ve gotten spoiled having him home during the day and taken advantage of some extra time to get things done. It’s going to be tough on both of us when he goes back to work!

The big event of this past month was Little Leg’s 11th birthday on April 13. How she is 11 already, I have no idea. This weekend was especially fun because it was in conjunction with my bachelorette party. So 8 of my best friends traveled in from around the country to meet up with my friends in Chicago for a weekend that won’t soon be forgotten. My sister and soon to be sister in law made the trip as well making it extra special. Think a weekend chalked full of food, drinks, dancing, karaoke and laughing and singing so much that I lost my voice that next week. Not to mention that Little Leg’s birthday was a huge success and as usual, a night full of 'Little Leg's Ladies' dancing on the bar. Bringing people together to celebrate life and to remember how lucky we are to be alive. This year’s slogan was Little Leg, Big Year and that it will be. A new brother, a soon to be Mrs. Little Leg and a journey on the Road2Rio, a big year for sure! 

An amazing moment when 3 of my fellow female wounded warriors came to the bash and brought their kids with them. After all of us became some of the first females to lose limbs in combat, we all had kids within 10 months of each other years later. We call our selves the #bandofmothers and this was the first time our kids had all met. The #bandofbabies as they will be known. A special moment for sure.
The weekend ended with me feeling like the luckiest girl alive and realizing that some things in life come and go, but your best friends are there for life. A good weekend indeed.

After Australia, training was going good for a week or two and then I had this dumb ‘quad issue’ as I like to call it. Dumb because it got to the point where I couldn’t bike or run for 10 whole days while I rested it. Something that is really difficult to do when you know you should be out there training. Basically, after I gave birth to Dallas, I think I got into things a little too quick and now, a few months later, I’m paying for it. I’ve developed bad habits in my running by compensating for areas that aren’t as strong as they used to be. And at the moment, my quad and calf are paying for it big time. I did what I needed to do. Rest, massage, dry needling where they actually stick needled in your muscle to increase blood flow (see picture) and lots of time spent at the pool trying to get some exercise in. I’ve been slowly getting back into the running over the past week and about half the workouts have been good, the other half, not so much. It wasn’t ideal timing but it was something that had to be dealt with and hopefully it’s on its way up and I won’t have any other issues with it.
This race in Mexico is the CAMTRI Paratriathlon Championships and it’s a big one. It’s only athletes from Mexico, Canada and the US but we get double the points at this race, which could really help to move me up in the world rankings. I had high hopes for this race and even with the quad, I’m going to remain positive and still keep my hopes up. We start at 0830 on Friday, exactly a week before I’m getting married. Wearing a triathlon kit with USA on it one Friday and a white wedding dress the next Friday. (triathlon tan lines are sexy right?) It will be my last race before I become Mrs. Brian Tolsma so I might as well give it my all and that I will do. As always, I’m just thrilled to be out there on the course again representing the USA. Even more so as this is another step on this #road2rio that many of us are on.

So yeah, swim, bike, run, get married. Never a dull moment is there. And what a wedding it will be. It is coming together so well and I seriously can’t wait. I am done worrying about all the details, what happens that day will happen. It was a compliment when my hair lady told me that I was one of the simplest brides they ever worked with because that’s just what I was going for. It’s really a day to love and to be loved and to celebrate the fact that I get to marry my best friend and all our families and friends there to celebrate with us. It’s going to be the Best. Day. Ever. And with so many other good days along the way, that says a lot. And the fun doesn’t stop after the wedding as we head off on our honeymoon that Monday. First to Tokyo for some sightseeing and another triathlon in Yokohama Japan, and then off to Hawaii for
some serious relaxation. It’s a trip mixed with both business and pleasure, trying to do well at the race and get a few more points but then celebrating our new life as a Mr. and Mrs.

Dallas is pretty pumped about the wedding as well. He’s got his outfit all set aside and promised to be on his best behavior. So did Jake, our ring bearer who will add a new level or crazy to our ceremony. And who is rapidly trying to shed the 8 pounds of baby weight he’s put on since Dallas arrived to fit in his own wedding outfit. But like his mamma, he has no willpower when it comes to any sort of treats. Like mother, like dog.

Somehow Dallas is already a whole 5 months old. He has started eating some solid foods, is
getting some teeth, and manages to get his legs caught in the crib slats at night because he rolls around like an acrobat as he sleeps. He continues to grow and is on the upper end of the length growth chart, already needing some 9mo clothes. Like father, like son. He is a happy baby for the most part (except for these teeth) and we love him so very much. I often think of his little face and smile in the middle of a workout and it keeps me going. Wanting him to grow up proud of his mom and have big dreams for himself. Sometimes I look at him and have to pinch myself that he is mine and I really am a mom. Such a handsome and sweet boy that I get to call my son. Oh, and as you can see, he is already mastering the art of a selfie. Obviously a genius in the making.

So yeah, the excitement of life continues. And I know I say it often but I truly live a charmed life and am so very thankful for it. Sometimes you really just have to sit back and be thankful that you are alive.
I’ll do my best to write a race update after Friday but if not, I’ll be writing to you next no longer a Ms. but a Mrs. Ahhhhhh!

Until then



Saturday, March 14, 2015

From a mountain top to a race report down under.

This morning I woke up to a kangaroo outside my room. In Australia. Last week in Vail, Brian skied
off a ‘jump’ and chipped a bone off his shoulder joint. The week before, at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center in CA, I spent an hour riding my bike at 6.9mph up a mountain called Honey Springs Road. On the days in between there were trips to Indiana, Texas and 2 awesome days spent at our Dare2tri one day clinic and our Dare2tri elite team camp.

You could say the past 3 weeks have been a bit busy… And as I’m sitting here on the plane back from Australia, I am doing my best to stay calm, as it’s been 6 days too long since I’ve held sweet Dallas and I miss my boys. Go plane go.

And now a recap:

In early February, Dallas took his first flight to my parents place in South Carolina. It’s funny traveling with an infant because they are so strict about everything on the plane, but they let your child just lay cross your lap. In SC, he finally got to meet his cousins for the first time and was showered with constant attention. Now more than ever, I wish we lived closer so cousins could grow up together and do what cousins do.

The next week was out to San Diego for a week at the Olympic Training Center and a cycling specific Paratriathlon camp. I was hesitant to go because it was 4 nights away from home and that seemed like a lifetime. 
Not to mention that I wasn’t in top shape and I didn’t want to hold the group back with my slow cycling times. I talked with Brian and he both encouraged me and reminded me that he and Dallas were behind me on the dreams of Rio and that we were all in this together. So, I boarded the plane with a few tears off for a few days away from my family for some good training. I hope that as Dallas gets older he sees me with these big dreams and makes some of his own. When the time comes, I'll be his biggest cheerleader. But for now I'm lucky to have Brian and Dallas behind me as I pursue mine.

The camp turned out to be amazing and I got to ride
outside for the first time since last June. There
were tough rides, time trials, amazing coaching and I got to spend some quality time with some of my Team USA teammates that I missed last year. I came back home confident that I was one step closer to where I needed to be with my training and that eventually, I would get there.

The next week was a second flight for Dallas, this
time out to Vail, CO for the amazing week with the Vail Veterans Program a yearly highlight for Brian and I. If you are a frequent blog reader of mine, you’ll remember that last year in Vail we got the call that our house was on fire and most of our belongings were gone. Like it did then, the program put things in perspective and reminded us how much we have to be thankful for. It’s
remarkable to see newly injured veterans all out on the bunny hill the first day and then seeing them at the top of the mountain by the end of the week. I never cease to be inspired.

There was some extra excitement this year when Brian went off a jump he probably shouldn’t have jumped off of.  I mean, Brian has skills and all, but this ‘jump’ was more like a small cliff. I saw him in the air, I saw his skis cross and saw the aftermath of him, his skis and poles, as he tumbled down the hill. Not a pretty sight and even less pretty when we got the xray and saw
that he had chipped part of his glenoid bone. The jury is still out if there is any muscle damage and we are hoping there is no need for surgery. On an equally exciting note, while waiting for Brian’s xrays in the ER, Dallas rolled over for the first time. Apparently he knew we needed a pick me up and the exam table just felt right…

My friend and fellow wounded vet, Dawn, brought her 11 month old out to Vail and he and Dallas got to hang out. Here Dawn and I were, having met 10 years ago in the halls of Walter Reed, and we were back in Vail, with our kids, skiing down the mountain together. In a few years we’ll be out on the slopes with our sons, teaching them to ski too. We also got to hang with Boston marathon bombing survivors Patrick and Jessica and their service
dog Rescue, who Jake did his best to un- train. And the always great Cheryl Jensen, Dan Riley and Dave Rozelle. It is always was a week to remember.

And that brings me to now, my flight home from Australia where I just competed in my first triathlon in 9 months and another step back on the road to Rio. As a quick reminder, making the Paralympic team takes a few things. First, you have to earn points by getting into specific ITU races and doing well. The better you do, the more points you get. But in order to get into these specific races, you have to have a certain amount of points and a world ranking that will get you on the start list. Yes, it’s confusing.
One of the first races of the season was ITU Sunshine Coast right outside of Brisbane and I needed to race well and earn some points so I
could get into other races this year. It was going to be a ‘quick’ trip to Australia, and the thought of being away from home for 6 whole nights was not ideal. There were 7 Team USA athletes that were racing and 4 of us were from Dare2tri. My good friend and fellow Tri2 athlete, Hailey, was among the group along with Levi and Tom from Dare2tri.
We got to Australia with a few days to spare before the race. Along with getting adjusted to the weather, the time and getting some workouts in, we made a trip to the Australian zoo and got to check a few things off the bucket list. Hold a koala, check! Take the #worldsbestselfie with a kangaroo, check! Act like a complete tourist, check!
We also found the worlds best coffee shop and spent many hours there with our flat whites and long blacks chatting with the locals. If you are ever in Sunshine Coast go to the Bean there done that espresso bar. You won’t be disappointed.

The race brought competitors from around the world and our Tri2 division had 5 women in it. Myself, Hailey, Kim from Canada and a girl from Japan and Spain. We had never raced against the girls from Japan and Spain and were anxious to see what they could do.
As the race neared, I started to get a little nervous. It had been 9 months since my last triathlon,
I only had 9 weeks of training since
having Dallas and I wanted to prove to myself that I was still in the game. I went into the race with the goal of being on the podium and a reach goal of being within 5% of the first place finisher. By doing both of those, I would earn points and be one step closer to being on the national team and additional funding for my races. But most of all, I was excited to get back out on the race course, to wear the USA uniform and to race for the love of the sport.

 A quick race report:

The horn went off at 9:10 and our group was off. I finished the swim in 2nd behind Japan and headed out to 5 laps on the bike course. Spain passed me on the last lap and I went into 3 laps of the run in 3rd place.  Hailey finished the bike and came back from behind running down all 3 of us to take first. It was a hot day, both my quad and calf were on fire an on the last lap I was still
behind Japan and Spain. A half mile from the finish I caught Japan. I was honing in on Spain and ended up finishing only 18 seconds behind her. I like to think I would have had her with another lap but I was spent. To the point that I couldn’t even sprint to the finish. I crossed the finish completely exhausted and unable to take another step forward.
I was helped into a chair, given some water and relished in the moment of being back. I. was. Back. And I was completely thrilled with my 3rd place finish, which is not something you’ll often hear me say. But after missing most of last year, having a 3.5 month old and training for 9 short weeks, I was pretty dang proud of myself. A 3rd place finish AND within 5% of Hailey’s time,
both my goals had been met and I was thrilled. Hailey and I gave each other high fives and hugs, both being equally proud of each other and our race. We will be great competitors for each other this season, but off the race course, we are great friends and that friendship always comes first.
It was the closest the Tri2 women had ever been
with Japan, Spain and I finishing within a minute of each other. Other Tri2 women that weren’t there, will just add to the great competition. The road to Rio is going to be an exciting one and I’m happy to say I’m back in the mix. I learned a lot from my first race back and what I need to work on and I can only get faster from here. It’s gonna be a challenging, fun year, proudly wearing the USA uniform with hopes of Rio. As my good friend Patty put it, it’s the #mommyroad2rio and it’s a good road to be on. Oh, and I got bit by a bull ant sitting in the grass after the race. That hurt.

When I get home tomorrow (or today? I have no clue what day it is) things get to slow down. I have some travel
 planned but nothing like it’s been. Brian has his bachelor party next weekend,because if I forgot to mention with all this other stuff, WE ARE GETTING MARRIED IN MAY! So wedding plans are in full swing.

My next race is in May in Monterrey, Mexico the 
weekend before the wedding and I’m happy to have 6 solid weeks of training before then. My days will be comprised of just that, swimming, biking and running, and spending time with my boys. 

Speaking of my boys, Dallas is more and more handsome everyday. For real. I think even when he naps, he gets cuter as he sleeps. He’s grown out of his 3 month clothes and with his long legs, he’s in the 6 month clothes. He sleeps through the night in his crib, he rolls over, he loves sucking his middle fingers and is on the verge of a giggle. I think I’ll melt when that happens. Like, actually melt.
Jake is still learning to love his little brother but we like to think he’s warming up to him. Well, maybe. And I am so fortunate that Brian is such an amazing dad and that I have them both to go home to after being away. Not only that, but that they believe in me enough to let me go chase my dreams.
As I often say, I am a lucky girl.

So there you are. The life of a girl on the #mommyroad2rio. Until next time,