Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I'm going to be an Ironman.

About a week ago, I did the unthinkable. I signed up for an Ironman. Not only did I sign up for it, but I paid for it. A lot of money, to get the chance to complete 140.6 miles in a single day. a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike and a 26.2 (yes a marathon) all in a row and all to be completed in under 17 hours. I'm sure you're first question is why. So here goes:

We all have a bucket list. Some things stay on that list and never get crossed off. Others are put on there and easily completed, just for the satisfaction of crossing them off. An Ironman has been on my list for years. Since I've been in the world of triathlon, I've learned and experienced the coveted Ironman club. An exculsive club reserved for people who choose to subject themselves to a lot of training, some pain, but the ultimate goal of crossing that Ironman finish line. It's a badge of honor to wear the Ironman (IM) logo whether it's on a jacket, a visor, or the commonly seen tattoo, an M-dot some call it as it's an M with a dot at the top. If you're in the club you're automatically one of the cool kids and there's this silent pact with all the other finisher out there. A sly head nod like an all knowing secret that only the finishers have. Now, let me continue by saying I did not sign up for this feat to be a cool kid, I mean let's face it, I've been out of that club for years. I simply signed up knowing that was the first step, and wanting to prove to myself that I was capable of such a feat. That and because I told my friend Keri, and wrote it on a chalkboard painted wall on New Years Eve last year at someone's house I didn't know that I would in fact to an Ironman in 2013. And I just can't let myself down like that. If you say you're gonna do it, do it right?

Another piece of info: Paratriathlon will debut in the Rio Paralympics in 2016. Every year up until then there is nationals and World Championships, which are all sprint distance. Many coaches will tell you that training for a sprint distance race and an Ironman at the same time it tough. Either your speed suffers or your endurance suffers. As long as I continue to love the sport, and my body holds up, my plan is to compete in Rio in 2016. But as we all know, life continues after the sport of triathlon, and in my head, 2016 will perhaps be the end of my triathlon career at the elite level, knowing full well that it will always be a lifestyle, just of a different kind. So I wanted to do an Ironman prior to 2016 and this next year 2013, was the year to do it. I will train for an Ironman and if my sprint distance races suffer, so be it, I've made my choice. And after I race and become an Ironman, I can go back to the short races and still have a few years to get my speed back up before qualifying for Rio in 2016.

Many of you have probably heard of the Kona Ironman. It's the Ironman of all Ironman, the World Championship that has an emotional, heart wrenching 2 hour special after the event. I used to think that was the only one I would want to do. But. It's not. Each Ironman is the same distance and you need the same iron will to finish the thing. So when I got a call from my friend Jean Draper, a fellow amputee, that she was signing up for Ironman Arizona for Nov 17, 2013 I thought for a few minutes and thought, sure, why not? I consulted Brian, my coach Stacee, and a few others as I can't seem to make any big decision on my own. I got their support and I went for it. What's even crazier is that this crazy race sold out in 40 seconds. Yes, 40 SECONDS! I didn't get the initial spot, but when other spots, twice as expensive, became available for a short time, I was able to snag one of those. Now I have the pleasure of paying $10 for every mile I will complete, figure out the math, it's not cheap! But on Nov 17, 2013 in Tempe, AZ I will have the chance to become an IM!

And so begins my journey. As in all IM races, each segment will have a time cutoff and I'll have to make the swim and bike cutoff time to be allowed on the run. If you don't make the cutoff, they pull you off the course and you get the not so great DNF (did not finish) next to your name. My goal? To finish of course, and become part of the coveted club.If you've read my past entries, you know that I've completed a few 1/2 IM. Now the challenge of doubling that effort and having what it takes to get through it!

My coach suggested I write a blog about my journey so I'll be doing that here. I completed my first step, signing up. Now the training will begin all towards the journey of 140.6 miles and hearing the words, 'Melissa Stockwell, you are an Ironman!'

Monday, October 29, 2012

A World Championship, a threepeat and kiwis.

It's only a month and here I am again. Yes, be impressed. The last month has been an exciting one so I wanted to get it all down before I forget.
Last night I got back from 2 adventure filled weeks in New Zealand and the Paratriathlon World Championship. So this is what some may call my race report, with some vacation thrown in there.

We had a great group that traveled the distance to
New Zealand from Chicago. 4 dare2tri athletes, myself, Hailey, Diana, MaryKate and coaches and support staff Stacee, Keri and Brian. My Brian. After a not so bad 13 hour flight, we all got to New Zealand 5 days before the race. The US team of 31 all stayed a the same hotel in Auckland and we were within walking distance of the wharf and the race start where most of the activities took place. The days leading up to the race were spent training with the team, getting to watch the pros and elite athletes race, hoping the rain was going to hold of for our race and going over our races in our head. We got to see and explore Auckland a bit but stayed close by for training purposes and not wanting to exert ourselves too much. There was a total of 130 Paratriathletes from around the World which was the most any championship had ever seen.

As the race got closer we learned that they were going to shorten the swim due to cold water temperatures. Typically our swim is 750m but there is a rule that if the water temp is under 60 degrees, that it's shortened to a 300m swim. I was not too fond of this ruling as the swim is my strongest part and I get a good mental advantage by getting out on the bike ahead of my competitors. But it was was it was, and it was set to 300m. Let me say here that swimming in sub 60 degree water temperatures is COLD. Think ice cream headache cold.

Race morning came and I was pumped. I woke up ready to race with a smile, not too stressed, just happy to be there with my teammates representing the USA. The race started at 3pm which is hours after a typical race would start so the hours leading up are always a wonder of what you should be doing, going over the transition bag again and again,, etc. But the hours passed and at 3pm we all found ourselves on the dock, waving as they called our names out ready to go.
We are lined up on the dock next to our class so my competitors, one being my good friend Hailey also from dare2tri and Jen, the other USA Tri2 were to my right. The horn sounded and we were off. Since this was only a 300m swim I moved my arms as fast as possible to try and get that advantage out of the water. At the swim exit I was given an aide to help me hop (not fun) to my running leg and then run to T1. T1 is always a welcoming place as not only is my trusting handler and best friend Keri there but there was Brian and all the other dare2tri supporters and coaches cheering me on. A few minutes, a switched leg and a bike, and I was off for my 12.4 miles of bike.

Typically the bike is my weakest of the 3. But thanks to TREK bikes, I got this custom USA painted TREK Madone bike days before I left for NZ and I was feeling freaky fast on it. My other bike was 6 years old, which is ancient for a road bike, so this one was lighter with better components, a different shifting system and it was red, white and blue so of course it had to be fast. Whether it was the bike, the hours spent training on my other one, or maybe a combo of both and just having a good day, I had my best bike splits ever. There was a crazy wind so on the way out there was a tailwind, then a headwind for our 3 laps. I kept looking down at my new bike with the words 'USA, Inspire' as I headed into the wind and pushed myself. I had a goal time on the bike and as I went into T2 below my goal time and still leading the pack I was pretty pumped. I'm not one to smile much in races as I get in the moment and way too serious, but I knew I had it, and I gave a big smile to Brian and told Keri how great I felt. T2 was over in a minute and I was out on the run.

Over the past few months I have developed a love for running and have never felt faster or more confident with it. As I started out on my 3.1 mile run, I was expecting to feel light and fast as I had the past months. I had a goal time I was very capable of and as I started out I was overcome with a heavy on my feet feeling which is not something you want during the race. But 4 laps it was, I could see my competition, and I knew all I had to do was stay ahead. As I rounded each lap I could hear Keri's loud USA and even though the goal time didn't happen, I came across the last lap first and there she was there to hand my a big American flag to run across the finish with.

And that I did. Running down the finishing chute, holding that
flag high over my head. I crossed, I did a little dance and held that flag high realizing that I had defended my title as World Champions. A three peat, a hat trick or whatever else you call it. And as I came across I saw Brian, my coach Stacee and there were hugs all around. A feeling that never gets old. A few minutes later Hailey crossed and I couldn't have been more proud. Here's a girl with a similar injury who got into triathlon only 1.5 years ago and she was competing on the Worlds stage. To have her as a teammate, as a competitor, as a friend and to see how far she'd come led me to a few tears. These are the moments that really make this all worth it. And to have Jen cross 3rd it was, like last year, a USA SWEEP! And we were the Tri2 ladies of the day. And it was awesome.

We got to see 3 flags raised, hear our national
anthem and not even the cold rain could curb our
enthusiasm. A gold medal, a World Championship, a USA sweep, New Zealand and all that comes with it. Diana had a fantastic race, winning the US portion and coming in 4th. MaryKate, our youngest elite athlete, had unfortunate mechanical issues on the bike. But she hung in there longer that most of us would have showing her drive and determination and we were so proud. A great day all around for dare2tri and the USA!

So what do we do after all this, we celebrate of course! There was wine, there was dancing and there was quality time spent with all our teammates celebrating our accomplishments.

The following day, 12 of us flew down to Queenstown on the south island to start our week of adventure, and over indulging in coffee, wine and cookies. If you haven't been to NZ, the south island is so beautiful it takes your breath away. As we flew in it was truly the most remarkable place I have ever seen.

To avoid making this post much longer I'll give a brief overview of our time there.
We jumped off a cliff, well I back flipped of a cliff, into this canyon swing, we jet boated through a canyon doing 360's on a dime, we took a gondola up to the top of Queenstown, we took a helicopter through the mountains to the spectacular Milford Sound where we took a cruise and saw dolphins, and penguins and got to land on a snow capped mountain on the way back. Standing on top of the world, literally. Brian and I then rented a car where he quickly learned to drive on the wrong side of the road, we drove to Lake Wanaka, drank too much wine, then drove 5 hours through the majestic mountains of NZ (we saw hobbit shadows), stopping at a Salmon farm and eating salmon caught only 3 hours prior. Then we drove into Christchurch, which is still devastated by the earthquake last year and quite sad to see. That of course didn't stop us from finding tasty wine and food and a beach to be content with. We finished off our south island adventure the following day at a wildlife farm where we saw an actual Kiwi! Who, if you didn't know, are nocturnal.
As we flew back to Auckland that afternoon we couldn't pick our favorite moment as they were all just as good as the next. We did fly back north satisfied that we had seen the south island and had experienced much that it had to offer.
We took advantage of our last day in Auckland by taking a ferry over to a close island, renting mopeds and going to some wineries. Yes, more wine. I have to say that I was initially terrified or the mopeds. With Hailey on my back and both of us missing our left legs it was crucial that we only stop leaning right. Pair that with driving on the wrong side of the road and it was a little scary. But persevere we did and we got to those wineries, we drank that wine and enjoyed our last day in the beauty of New Zealand.

 And after the much too long flight back, I found myself home, full of love and full of life and full
of way too much wine and cookies. All that with Jake by my side once again. A Jake that somehow managed to gain 5 pounds while we were gone.

 So there you have it. Another few weeks well lived and another World Championship in the books. Now there's the joy of some time off before it all starts over again. So as usual, until then, hug your loved ones and PEACE OUT!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Summer Well Spent.

3.5 months, right on track.  It’s been a busy three months, perhaps some of the busiest, if that’s possible. Here I’ll attempt to keep this as short as possible and highlight the exciting, never dull summer months that have somehow passed us by.

Many of my summer days were filled with racing. Whether a triathlon, a running race, a race to get to work on time…it was a record year. I think the grand triathlon total is 10 and running races could be up that high as well. Aside from nationals, the biggest one was the Door County ½ Ironman in July. This one was extra special because Brian and I raced together and he became an official ½ Ironman. The race ended up much better than expected, with much of if due to the fact that Brian and I ended up coming into T2 together (I started 20 min ahead of him on the swim) and were able to run the whole ½ marathon together. He probably could have gotten in many minutes faster but at that point it was about finishing it together. We ran, we talked, we complained about the heat, the hills..and at the end we were THAT couple that crossed the finish line hand in hand and even had enough energy to do a little Fred Flinstone type jump. Cheesy, perhaps. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. And it lead to an hour + PR for me and my studly boyfriend as an official finisher. How studly you may ask? Studly enough to drive the 4 hours back to Chicago and go skate in his hockey game.  But perhaps that’s just crazy. And it seems fitting to throw in that we’ve now been dating 15 months. Woot! I love him, there I said it.

Another exciting race was the NYC Olympic distance triathlon, my 3rd time at the race. Exciting because I was extremely happy with my time of a 3:06. I’m gunning for that sub- 3 hour next year.

Dare2tri Elite Team!
There have been many races that have been in conjunction with dare2tri, the ever flourishing Paratriathlon club. Our second year has grown just as much as the first and we have the best athletes and volunteers around. The 4 of us that competed at Nationals this past May qualified for Paratriathlon World Championships that take place in less than a month from now in New Zealand! As the dare2tri elite team we’ve raised enough money to send all of us athletes and coaches down under. (Yes, I know that’s Australian) Training has been going well and as I write this I’m on a plane to Colorado Springs for a triathlon camp at the OTC for all of us going to Worlds. This year there will again be 3 athletes in my division and a record number of US athletes in all divisions. It will be the first World Championship for the other 2 ladies in my group and I am so excited to be competing with them, working on my 3rd Championship There really is nothing more exciting that wearing the USA uniform, on an international athletic stage with others you can call your teammates and friends. Race day is Oct 22, so the countdown has begun!

I was once again honored to be nominated for an ESPY for female athlete with a disability and Brian and I got to take the coveted trip to LA and walk the red carpet. No, I didn’t win, but the experience was just as thrilling as the last. Think celebrities, parties, gift bags, first class accommodations and a handsome man by my side. Good times.

I had the opportunity to go to London for the Paralympics. No, not to compete, although everyone I saw asked what I was competing in. It’s quite different being on the other side as a spectator instead of an athlete. I got to go over as an ambassador with the US Olympic Committee and we got prime seats to the opening ceremonies and the sports venues. To say it was inspiring is an understatement. I was only there 4 days but the electric atmosphere and the athlete drive made a lasting impression on me. I got to see a friend win silver in the velodrome, I got to see many of my old swimming teammates, the Olympic Village, the passion behind the sports. It was incredible and I left with a renewed quest to return to the Paralympics as an athlete. Paratriathlon debuts as a Paralympic sport in Rio in 2016 and even though it’s 4 long and short years away, it’s on the radar. But year-by-year we’ll go. It is after all, all about the love of the sport.

From London I got to see my family for a long Labor Day weekend. My parents, my sisters family, it’s always a good time. For those that know my sister, she is due with #5! in a month. I’m tired just thinking about it and she should be nominated for mom of the year. Every year. Along with my mom of course!

In between the racing and the training, there’s been some motivational speaking and yes, I still work. I get that question often. But Scheck and Siress continues to be supportive, allowing me to continue what I’m passionate about. I couldn’t be more thankful.

In ultra importance, Jake turned 5 last week. For his birthday we celebrated by leaving the door open to the treats and he got 30 milkbones, the cardboard box they came in and a packet of hot chocolate for his birthday. It was his best birthday ever. Until the next day. But he, of course, continues to be the best, most loving, spoiled service dog that ever lived. Too bad I can’t add his frequent flier miles to mine. And yes, he can still bring me my crutches!

The next big event is Paratriathlon Worlds and I’ll try (don’t hold your breath) to write about the race and the results soon after. Most of us are staying for a week after to travel and I can’t wait to see the beauty of New Zealand and find the Shire of course!

So there we are, the adventures I feel lucky enough to call life. And a summer well spent.

Until next time, stay cool (or warm), keep loving America, and PEACE OUT!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A President, a First Lady, a new roommate and a National Championship.

How the heck do I start this one? I should start by saying, go grab some coffee, this is gonna be long, but I’m going to do my best to make it short, touching on the highlights of the past few INCREDIBLE months. But this time it’s official; I’ve waited way too long.
 1. The W100

Back in April, I was one of the lucky 19 veterans that got to go on a mountain biking trip in Amarillo, TX with President Bush. I was a bit hesitant at first, as I had never mountain biked, even with 2 legs, and 60 miles seemed a bit daunting. But never one to turn down a challenge and a great experience, I borrowed a friend’s bike, grabbed my friend Keri to come along as my +1 (and to push me up the hills) and headed to Palo Duro Canyon in the wonderful city of Amarillo, TX to take part in the 2nd annual W100.
Here’s how it worked: Every morning the 19 veterans and their guests were bused to the canyon. We’d get all set up with our bikes, President Bush would show up, we’d start riding with the mileage depending on the day, finish, change and have a wonderful dinner alongside our former commander in chief. The rides were far from easy and what even experienced riders would call technical, as we rode up large inclines with rocks and roots, over rocks that acted as cliffs, over bridges spanning canyons at the end of a descent. Scary, yes, especially for myself as the one- legged, inexperienced mountain biker that I was. But. I had this team. This incredible team we called Team Melissa made up of many bikers that biked with the President weekly and they helped me through. We had this great leapfrog system and they would ride ahead until a technical spot, jump off their bikes, push me up, jump back on and repeat. It was teamwork at it’s finest and if it weren’t for them and Keri’s constant encouragement behind me, I think I’d still be out there. The last day the President rode along with Team Melissa and there he was himself, on my back wheel shouting ‘Thatta girl Meliss’ and ‘That’s what I’m talking about’ as loud as he could. Pair that, all the teamwork and mountain bike adventures with being out there with fellow wounded vets, the President (who is a stud of a mountain biker) and I was left with such a high that kept me up for weeks after the event, feeling like the luckiest girl alive. And the President, wow. Politics aside, he is one of the most wonderful people I have met. Truly affected and emotional about the choices he made and how they’ve affected all of us, a witty man, a great athlete, quite the fine dancer and a true American. I left with a few bruises, some cactus in my behind and such memories of the ride, the people I met that I truly hope to see again and even more pride for America and all that it offers. And pictures, I have 100’s, but these are my favorite.

2. The First Lady 

I left the W100, had 1 night at home and headed off
to Colorado Springs for the Warrior Games which is a week long event where wounded veterans in all branches of the military compete against each other, trying to prove that they are the ‘best’ branch of service out there. Go Army! I was unable to stay and compete, but I was named as the honorary torchbearer and was lucky enough to be able to attend opening ceremonies. A few days prior to the event, it was announced that Michelle Obama was going to be a special guest and as the torchbearer, I was going to escort her off stage and stand with her while the torch made it’s way to us, where I would then walk it up and light the flame that is typically only lit during the Olympic and Paralympic games. So days after my time with President Bush, I got to escort the First Lady off the stage, exchange a few words and light the torch in front of these men and women in uniform. It was a quick trip but again, one that I will remember often in hopes that I can one day compete alongside these fine Americans at the Warrior Games.

3. A new roommate

Ah yes, you’ve guessed it, Brian and I moved in together! Quite the big step I know, but after dating for almost a year, it is a very exciting one. So among all the above excitement and what you’ll read about next, I was busy packing up my place on Wood Street while we busily painted our new place together. I’ve always wanted to paint my own place and I got my wish. Two weeks of painting, 12 gallons of paint, too many paintbrushes and rolls of tape, but now we live on the first floor of a 3 floor building in a place that truly feels like home. I didn’t go far from my old place, only about ¼ mile, so I still see the same restaurants and shops that Bucktown has to offer and am really really happy. We’ve been traveling so much, we haven’t been able to enjoy the new digs too much quite yet, but to walk in and have him there, the dog and all our stuff in one place together is a great feeling. And did I mention I’m happy?

4. A National Championship

A day after the big move, we took off to Austin, TX with the rest of our first ever dare2tri elite team, where 9 of us would compete among the other 62 athletes in the Paratriathlon National Championship. In the past years, this race was the NYC tri but it was changed this year to the CapTex Tri that was taking place in Austin on Memorial Day.
We left Chicago on Friday to have a few days to prepare before the race on Monday which given the heat, the time was needed. We had the typical race meetings, the fun of seeing all the Paratriathletes that come from around the nation, a reunion that should happen more, time to ride and bike the race course, time to have some tasty dinners and prepare for the race. But the most exciting part of the pre- race days is that Brian and Jake did their very first doggie duathlon! Imagine 4 divisions based on weight category, the Scooby, snoopy, underdog and Marmaduke divisions. A total of 100 dogs that would compete in each division with a 200m swim and a mile run. Jake was a proud member of the Marmaduke division and as they jumped off the dock, while other dogs were scrambling to get back on it and unsure what to do, Jake swam his big heart out, thinking it was play time and try to jump up on Brian leaving Brian with many scratch marks as he exited the water. But onto the run they went, doing so well that they crossed fast enough to be in 2nd place. Milo, the dog that won, came in a mere 60 seconds faster but as he was obviously a doggie duathlon veteran, with the shirt to prove it, and a potential doggie doper and/or cheater (Brian swears he skipped the buoy) we’ll just go ahead and say they won. But a great time by all and it’s safe to assume there will be more doggie du’s in their future.

The real race on Monday had a start time of 7am to beat the TX sun. The typical sprint distance, a 750m swim, 13 mile bike and 5K run, my goal was, well, to do my best. And to hopefully defend my title as national champion.
The gun went off promptly and off we went. The swim turned out to be one of my best, the bike was better than expected and my run, although not my best effort, put me through the finish line at 1:33, a 6 minute PR, and 1st! It was a thrilling finish, as I happened to find an American Flag along the course, so I sprinted through the line, flag held high, into the arms of both Keri and Brian who were at the finish with my favorite hugs ever, the finish line ones. My competitor and great friend from dare2tri, Hailey, crossed next, and this being her first national race and only her 5th triathlon ever, I couldn’t have been prouder. More hugs. Next was another friend and competitor, Jennifer, who crossed with a huge smile and there you had it, the Tri2 ladies of the day! Mary Kate and Diana, two other dare2tri athletes fought it in for the 2nd and 3rd place finish and the rest of the team all finished quickly and proud to represent the sport and our team. I may be a bit bias, but I am truly proud to be a part of the dare2tri team, both on the elite level and back here at home. I feel we pave the way for many athletes, showing them what is possible. We couldn’t do it without the help from many, with organizations like the Challenged Athletes Foundation and DSUSA to name a few, and all that continue to support us.
So I left Austin as a 2x national Champion, a great boyfriend by my side, in the company of a phenomenal group of athletes that I am proud to call my team. We will all compete again throughout the summer at races around Chicago and then many of us will make the trip to New Zealand for Worlds in October. It’s gonna be a good year.

So. There you are. To say the past few months have been busy, is a little bit of an understatement. And things don’t slow down too much for the rest of the summer. More races (a ½ IM in there that will be Brian’s 1st), an elite level Paratriathlon camp in CO, dare2tri events, a few fun trips scheduled, family time, plus more. And oh yeah, work. Which if you’re wondering about it, I still do work at Scheck and Siress and it is their flexibility and support that allows me to keep going. Yes, I am a lucky lucky girl. And not a day goes by that I don’t realize how fortunate I am.

Until the next adventures, Peace Out!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

What a year.

Well, hello there. Typically I would now comment on the lack of updates in the past month, but since it’s been much longer than that, I’ll refrain and just say hello. I am feeling especially reflective today as today marks the one year mark of my divorce. And while it could be a sad day if I chose for it to be, I look back at the past year and think about how awesome it’s been, how I’ve changed, what I’ve gained, and really surprising myself the difference a year can make.
A few highlights from the past year before I get to the last few months… (this may be a repeat if you got my Xmas card) But here goes: Watching dare2tri become a thriving Paratriathlon club, an ESPY nominee, new friends, a 2x World Champion, an incredible new boyfriend, Paratriathlete of the year, toughing out some hard times, a Hartford commercial, the best 4- legged companion, good travels, good laughs and realizing how much life has to offer. So, as you can see, if I looked back at the past year and thought of any word other than incredible, you might have to call me crazy. And through it all, I realize that the opportunities to be gained from tough situations are often underestimated. I’ve found out about myself, learned that I will always choose to love and be loved, even with the risks that come along with it, and that life just plain rocks. So there.

The last few months haven’t been too shabby either. There’s been the usual hours at work, where I continue to have the support of Scheck and Siress as they allow me to take time off to do the other things I love. There’s been some travel for speeches, family and continued work with WWPs board of directors. The holidays were spent in both Michigan with Brian’s family and in SC with mine. My favorite times of year are when my whole family gets to be together and having Brian there this year was a great addition to the fun. All 4 of my nieces and nephews, my sister, brother in- law and my parents can always find a good time. This year was especially good since it was my parents 40th wedding anniversary on Dec 29. We started the day off with a family trip to do some zip lining, then think candles, a harmonica player and bus boy (Brian), a chef (Amanda), a wait staff (yours truly), the newlywed game and re- creating their first dance from 40 years ago. I’m lucky to have such wonderful parents that are still so active in our lives and it was extra special to celebrate the big 4-0 with them. Love you mom and dad! New years was a night filled with many libations and the excitement of what the new year could bring. If anyone could tell me how it’s already the end of Feb, please clue me in.

In early Jan there was a ski trip to Steamboat with Adaptive Adventures. We had a group of 6 girls from Chicago go and it was about as fun as you could get. Skiing, hot tubs, 4pm dance parties, birthday celebrations, trampoline jumping, and on and on.. I head to Vail for the Vail Veterans Program in a week and know it will be just as fun.

I gracefully aged into he 32nd year of my life. What it means to gracefully age into it, I have no idea, but it sounds good. Life in my early 30’s continues to be the best years of my life.

With the winter in Chicago (as mild as it may be) it’s been more training than racing. There was the ½ marathon in early Dec at Kiawah Island, SC. It was my sister and Brian’s first one and they both beat me by a long shot. I was extremely proud of them and they both proudly display the 13.1 magnets on the back of their cars, as they should. I think Amanda is planning another one in the next year and Brian (or maybe me) courageously signed up for a ½ IRONMAN (go big or go home, right?) We will do the ½ Ironman together in Door County on July 22 with a few other friends. But first I am concentrating on the Paratriathlon Nationals, which are on May 28 in Austin, TX. Many hours of my weeks are spent swimming, biking and running and I have the hope that this year will be just as good as last year. And speaking of last year, I was just named the 2011 Paratriathlete of the year for the second year in a row. An honor I am humbled by as I feel many others could be awarded this award. Here I have to give thanks to those that continue to believe in me and cheer me on along the way. CAF, dare2tri, WWP, my parents, Brian, good friends and my coach Stacee Seay. I’m a lucky girl. My full race schedule is on my website but the big events are nationals in May and Worlds in Oct in New Zealand, woot woot! Door County 70.3 will be my longest race, no marathons this year. But next year I may actually train correctly for another one in hopes I crush my NYC marathon time.

So, there you are. I would say I’d write more frequently but that’s obviously a promise I can’t keep. So for now hope for more flight delays as I sit and wait for my flight and perhaps more days of reflection.
Life is good people, life is good. Never forget that.

Peace Out!