2015 came and went, and with one exception, I forgot to blog.
But despite my silence, a lot went on that I don’t want to forget, and I’ve enjoyed reading other’s year-in-review posts, so I thought I’d put together my own “Best and Worst” of 2015 by AirDropping a bunch of random iPhone pictures to give a little snapshot of what went on this year, mostly in my training and racing life. The ordering is random and flighty …but then, so am I.
Best Training Spot
Madison, Wisconsin. Always. The Wisconsin Love runs strong here. I spent almost as many weekends in Madison this summer as I did in Illinois. The memories are vivid – hill repeats in the rain with Nick. Getting dropped like a bad habit by Bob, and texting him from the gas station to “forget about me, I’m having a moment here.” Suffering through the hottest and most humid day I can remember in Madison with Machee, Liz and Chris. Stopping with Kristy for cheese curds that were desperately needed. Chatting with Erin and accidentally extending my ride to 7.5 hours because the conversation was so good. Sliding out on freshly-chipped roads. I put in many, many, many miles on my bike in this town. My Kona race was made in Madison.
|Many rides with Kristy, our bikes here at the Lion Water Fountain|
|Always (or, often) blue skies and puffy clouds in Madison|
Best New “Life” Development
In January, I was given the opportunity to start coaching runners and triathletes through Multisport Mastery. I’ve done some coaching in my past (track, cross country, swimming), so I knew this was an area I’d like to branch into, but I had no idea how much it would add to my own life. It’s been challenging, no doubt, but ultimately incredibly fulfilling. My athletes’ successes have, on many occasions, been more satisfying to me than my own, and going through the daily ups and downs with each individual has added all sorts of new dimensions to my life.
|Anne’s first race post-baby!|
|The very first athlete to take a shot with me, Rachel|
Sherpa-ing and spectating! Did you know being at an Ironman without actually participating in an Ironman is amazing fun? True story.
|Carrying triathlon bags is much like this|
I went to two Ironmans I didn’t race. First, Ironman Texas in May. Liz brought me to Texas as her sherpa. In the days before the race, I tried to do my best to help her out and keep her company, and also fit in some of my own training. I absolutely loved the Ironman Texas course and would do this one in a heart beat if it wasn’t always a million degrees.
|Got my swim mojo back in Conroe, TX, the best pool of 2015
I am not sure I ever fully understood how thrilling, but exhausting and nerve-wracking, it is to spectate and support someone with big goals in a big race. With a ground crew of multiple people, we tracked Liz’s position all day, I rode my bike all over the course cheering and providing updates and occasionally stopping in at a bar to chug a beer and visit with the rest of the spectating team, before getting back on my bike to find Liz again. Ultimately, she won her age group and punched her ticket to Kona.
|Sherpa-ing is even more satisfying when Sherpa‘d athlete kicks ass!
I think I was more exhausted than she was when the day was over, and had gained a serious appreciation for those who have served as sherpas and support crews for me in the past.
|Spectating on the run course, look closely, bike grease ALL OVER my legs. Because I am me.|
A couple months later, I spectated Racine 70.3 one week after injuring my leg at mile 2 of the Muncie 70.3. I was in a lot of pain (even walking really hurt, I accidentally jogged for two steps while cheering for Kristy and almost screamed in pain) and I was pretty sure my season was over, so selfishly, seeing others racing a race that is very meaningful to me was emotionally difficult. To cope, I sat under a tent and drank a lot of beers and that made it better.
And then, in September to my favorite race in the world, Ironman Wisconsin. I’ve missed spectating this race for the past 3 years- racing 70.3 Worlds in 2014 and 2013, and racing IMWI myself in 2012. I had several athletes and friends racing, and it was good to be back on the sidelines acting like an idiot.
|Taylor killing the swim|
|Chris, smiling through his first IM|
|Me and Scary Clown- Left, 2015, Right, 2012|
|WTF, who stole our spot?|
Flat tires! Before this year, I’d never had a flat tire in a race. This year, I had SIX- two simultaneously at a small race in Terre Haute (completely my fault, in the moment I looked down at my bike computer, I slammed into a massive pot hole at 28 miles per hour, immediately flatting both tires….badly); one in Kona; three in Cozumel (more on that later). This is not a trend I wish to continue into 2016.
This ride in May should have been my warning of things to come:
|Liz’s flat. “Did I hit something?”|
|And 90 miles later, my own flat, which ended with a ride home from a random stranger|
Best Race Result
In light of all the circumstances preceding, a third place at Kona was something I am tremendously proud of, but overall, I think the actual best race of my season was Ironman Texas 70.3 in Galveston in April.
|I am sorry, but Galveston is kind of a dump.|
I trained like an animal in January, February, and March– likely too much in light of things going on in my life at the time (I always need to throw in the disclaimer that I pushed myself well beyond what which was prescribed in my training schedule) — but I was super fit in April and had a race to show for it. 4:23, a 10-minute PR, an age group and overall amateur win, the fastest female bike split (period, across all divisions, but to be fair, the winds shifted during the race and were much more favorable by the time my wave hit the bike course than they’d been for earlier waves). Just a great success.
|Brother came from San Antonio|
Why didn’t I ever write about it? Frankly, I’d been teetering on the edge for some time going into that race, carefully walking the line between peak fitness and meltdown, and Galveston drained the tank and left me a little broken and not really in the mood for writing for quite some time. Lessons were learned:)
Most Meaningful Race
The Naperville Esprit de She Womens’ Triathlon. I swim Masters with one of the funniest and most energetic women I’ve ever met– Beth. Beth’s daughter, Clari, tragically passed away last year at the age of 19. Clari had previously been a part of a relay team that won this race. The day before the race, Beth and I were talking at Masters and decided to enter a relay team to race in Clari’s honor. It a matter of hours, we pulled together an “All-Star” team- Beth swimming, me cycling, and Amber, an Olympic Trials level runner — and we raced in memory of Clari. We won, by a lot (but shout out to local stud Jenny Garrison, who still had a faster time by herself than our relay), and the sentiment behind it made it all the more meaningful.
|Text messages I should have listened to….with PT|
Anyway. I traveled to Muncie with Liz the day before the race and it took us almost five hours to get there from Chicago. Turned out the only hotel we could get was another hour away, we were tired of the car, so when we heard about a church a mile from the start that, for $15 a person, was providing cots and Sunday school rooms in which athletes could sleep, we were in. A quick trip to WalMart to get blankets and pillows and we were settled into our chosen room- the Sunday School Snack Room.
|The room door had a sign reminding us to “Bee Your Best”|
The room was freezing, the cot was less than comfortable, and I slept approximately 20 minutes, kept awake by the cold, pain, and an impending sense of doom regarding the race the next day (I knew I shouldn’t be racing)…..but it was a memorable accommodation for sure!
Best Random Midwestern Town in Which to Race
Hard to tell. In May and June, I raced several short course races, mostly in somewhat less than glamorous locations. None of the races were super stellar and a couple were downright bad, but I saw some great places like….
Terre Haute, Indiana! (I double flatted)
|Apartments next to our hotel, someone hoarding vacuums
Hammond, Indiana! (It rained, the course was delayed and shortened to a Super Sprint, I just had a terrible race…but got to wait out the storm with friends!)
|Waiting out the pre-race storm with Megan, Jennifer, Karen, Jenny and Chris|
Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin! (Actually went pretty well, 2nd overall to speedy Pro Jackie H., and taking home some dough)
|A decent and free run picture!|
|With Chris. And Chris. And Chris|
|It’s fun when you’re friendly with your competitors. Carly and Jen F.|
|Better scenery than Hammond, Indiana, for sure.|
Runner- Up: The Well-Fit Beer Mile. This was more painful and uncomfortable than the TT for sure. I thought I’d sail through the beer mile because I like beer and I like running. In actuality, I kind of sucked. I broke 10 minutes, but barely, I almost DNF’d during Lap #2, and it was Beer #4 where I lost the race. Much more practice needed here.
|Podium pic- I’m in the skeleton suit|
|At the Illinois State Masters Swim Meet|
|OK, actually staged. We were pretending to be bored. We weren’t– the Bulls went to Quadruple OT|
Best Lucky Charm
It was New Years’ Eve and there was definitely alcohol involved when a tiny, plastic yellow hanger came into my life. It became my good luck charm and I named it Baby Baby Hanger.
So I searched the internet to find more Baby Baby Hangers.
Most Discouraging Months
July and August. I was out with an injury that was unpredictable and kept re-inventing itself.
I frantically texted my PT regularly to tell her where it hurt the most, today.
|“Can you see the swelling?? Help!”|
And then I bought a waterproof iPod, a water running belt, and got to work water running while I couldn’t run on land. It was boring, but I worked really hard, and was shocked when I returned to land running and actually found that my paces hadn’t fallen far off. I’m a huge fan of water running now.
|It sucked but it worked|
Best Moment Overall
This one is pretty close:
Best, or Maybe Worst, Decision….We Shall Find Out
|IM Coz practices swim with Maggie, Christine, and Cris|
|Selfs on bikes (with Maggie)|
|Showing off a kit from new 2016 sponsor, Coeur Sports!|
|Pre-race ride with Liz on the Queen K|
|Me and Mack in FermiLab|
Best End to 2015
Unseasonably warm temperatures and outdoor riding in December. While home for Christmas, I made Rathbone, Ohio, my new Morris, Illinois, so of course, there was a picture of a bait sign. Of course.
|They have bait but not sure if Live|