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,