Sunday, August 26, 2012

I want it NOW

My better half, Matty, decided to guest blog for me! He has such an AMAZING heart for God and is constantly looking for ways to encourage me daily, so here is a little bit about what's been on his heart.......

 In our instant gratification and self-entitlement culture, it is easy to get caught up with wanting things “now”.  More pay, better job, nicer car, faster race times, you name it.  We see that other people have it, so we think we also deserve it.  What is easy to overlook is that “they” didn’t start where they are now, and they probably put in a lot of hard work and made many sacrifices to get where they are. 
 The important thing to remember is that it is never too late to start, “now”, putting in the effort to get to where you want to be.  I’m fortunate to be a Director in Marketing at a Fortune 500 company, and while I haven’t really accomplished a whole lot yet in the big scheme of things, and certainly have made plenty of mistakes along the way, there are a number of specific things that helped me get “here” as I reflect back a few years in my professional progression.
 Faithfulness – You can’t let any job or task be “beneath you”.  Spend your energy on doing the job in front of you to the best of your ability, no matter how insignificant it might seem.  If you don’t do that well, how will someone trust you with greater responsibility?  But once you are proven to be reliable where you are, you can be confident in going after more.  (Luke 16:10)
Patience – It is almost a guarantee that progress won’t happen overnight.  For endurance athletes, the necessary physiological changes to get better occur over many years.  In the corporate setting, it can take years to get that promotion you thought you earned 2 performance reviews ago.  I’ve been guilty of being impatient on both fronts.  What has helped me is to set my mind on a goal and going after it hard, but not be fixated on reaching it in a certain timetable.  You only qualify for the prize if you persevere until the end!  (Hebrews 10:32-36, 12:1)
Attitude – A great quote from Chuck Swindoll: “life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it”.  Face it, we all have good and bad circumstances, but our character is shaped by how we come through the circumstances.  You are going to find many more “allies” to help you through if you approach life with an upbeat, overcoming attitude.  It is just important to seek to help out others to lift them as well!  (Philippians 2:3-5)
Learn – If you aren’t honing your skills you are probably falling behind.  A big part of this is continual development, whatever form that takes for you.  This has got to be deliberate and usually self-directed.  I ask God almost daily for wisdom, to help me figure out what I need to learn, and how to apply it to my every day circumstances.  Over time this has worked wonders for me!  You should try it!  (James 1:5-6)
Hard Work – Last but not least, success takes hard work.  Long hours.  Sacrifices.  Discipline.  It isn’t always fun in the moment.  The faster or higher you want to progress, the harder you will have to work.  Go the “extra mile” to make your work stand out…it will be noticed and will give you confidence to push towards your goals.  Repeat.  (Proverbs 14:23)

 It is hopefully evident that my success is borne out of God’s gifts, grace, and direction in my life.  I wouldn’t have achieved anything without God’s help – putting me in favorable situations, giving me opportunities, helping me through struggles, and directing my steps.  God’s word applies to every day situations and with it we can be victorious in life!
 Even as I read through these words before they are posted, I am resolving to make this coming week, and hopefully each after it, an example of these principles at work.  Today is a great day to change perspective and commit to putting in the time and effort to reach your goals!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A first for everything!

This past week I was looking forward to my long Saturday bike ride with my hubby! It’s not often that we ride together being that he is a bit faster on the bike, so when he asked me to come along with him I was super pumped! He typically shows me new routes and he pushes me to go at a faster speed as well.
Usually the night before a long ride, I always get everything ready to go: bottles of nutrition made, clothes laid out, etc. that way I don’t have to fuss with the “prep” work and can focus on getting out of bed and getting my bike ready to ride.

Saturday my alarm went off at 6:15am, planned on starting around 7am from our house. Matt was going to show me a new route, heading to Ohio and back. Looking to get in between 70-80 miles, I was ready to roll! I like starting early for a few reasons: so I can still have the rest of the day to get stuff done, relax, etc.; there is less traffic out on the roads when you start early in the a.m., and it’s a heck of a lot cooler!

We headed out onto route 910 and then cut over to 65 and followed that for a while. We eventually had to make a turn and cross through a small town heading towards Rochester. We were about 20 miles into our ride, entered a round-a-bout and then all the sudden a construction zone appeared out of nowhere. Now Matt is good with hand signaling about road conditions, traffic signs, etc. He is very safe out on the roads and I must say he takes good care of me when we ride together.  Well, all of the sudden I dropped a level on the road and found that I was on an uneven, unpaved, stripped section. Matt was trying to signal for me to get up and out of that “area” and onto the paved road, but I failed to see him signal and when I tried to get out, apparently there was a 3-4 inch difference in the roads and I didn’t see this (so obviously I didn’t get my front tire up and over this) and I hit and went flying off my bike. Ouch! It all happened so fast. All I know was my bike was on top of me and I went down hard and fell directly on my entire left side of my body. I laid there for a few seconds, which seemed like minutes. I couldn’t get myself up and Matt came running over to get me. I was most definitely in pain and tried so hard to pull myself together and fight the tears. My garmin watch was in pieces and the screen smashed (good thing I don’t wear my wedding rings!) and poor “feltsie” had a nice little chunk taken out of the left handle bar. I was sad (and it takes a lot for me to be down). 

Next thing I knew, Matt’s parents arrived and drove me to the ER to get checked out.  All I have to say is: it pays to pray every time I head out on my bike.  Even if I’m going out for one hour or 6 hours, I always ask God to place a hedge of protection around me and my bike.  IF there would have been a car directly behind me I would have been hit instantly.   Fortunately after a nice trip to the ER, no broken bones, just some nice gashes in my left arm and leg, lots of road rash and a bruised shoulder and wrist.  Lesson learned, I must pay attention to all my surroundings at all times and maybe slow down a bit when heading into a construction zone.  My first real crash done and out of the way! Luckily, no races this month, BUT it is my sister’s wedding in Bar Harbor, Maine this weekend. I pray I don’t look too “beat” up in my dress! Oh well it gives some character, right?
Here’s to many more days spent in the saddle, still determined to make it the strongest of the three disciplines AND for not letting this little set-back bring me down!

In other news, Matt and I leave for Bar Harbor Maine on Friday for a week! My little sister Laura (last one in the fam to get hitched) is FINALLY getting married to her first love of 10 years!!  Doug, aka Bubba, who’s my second little brother, is such an awesome guy! I am super pumped that he will officially be a part of our family.  If you have never been to Bar Harbor, ME you should put this on your bucket list! My family has been vacationing up there for years now. We rent a nice big cottage and typically stay for two weeks. There is A LOT to do (esp in Acadia National Park), hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming, fishing, whale watching, star gazing on top of Cadillac Mountain, not to mention lots of feasting on lobster, seafood, tea and popovers, blueberry pancakes, and the best ice cream in the world! It’s phenomenal!! AND I am super duper pumped that Matt and I are bringing our bikes! Already packed and shipped! Looking forward to lots of good mountain climbing!
Here are a few pics of my sis and Bar Harbor

Stay tuned for lots of pics!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Pgh Tri race report!

Sunday July 29th, Pgh triathlon race! I enjoy this race because a. its right in our backyard, b. this was my very first Olympic distance last year!  I was itching to race again, being that my last race in Muncie, IN turned into a shortened distance due to the heat.  Unfortunately, the weather was crappy this weekend. Rain, rain and more rain! Boooo! Matt was signed up to race the sprint distance on Saturday but opted out due to excessive raw sewage in the water from all the rain, I don’t blame him! Sunday wasn’t so bad and I decided to take the plunge into the good ol river water. I didn’t carry any nerves going into this race! My strategy was to race hard; in fact, for the first time, I didn’t bother keeping track of my heart rate.
Sunday we arrived to transition area, picked up timing chip, set up bike/gear and was ready to roll. No rain in the forecast, in fact the sun was coming up! Yipeee!! It was a strange feeling though having Matty watch me race for the first time. Either we are both racing together or it’s me watching him, but never this way around. AND I was excited that my dad, sister and fiancĂ© also came out to support me! They hardly make any races, mostly because of them being so far away and would need to take off work, soooooooo this was such a treat! I was heading to get in line for the bathroom, when suddenly they announced that apparently the water temp was 78 degrees!!!!! It had cooled off from the rain sooooo it was wetsuit legal!! CRAZY! If this was any other race, I would have brought it, but I thought nahh, it will be in the low 80’s. Lesson learned, bring your wetsuit to EVERY race regardless of whether or not you think it’s needed. Matt even volunteered to run back to the house to grab it, but I didn’t think he would have had enough time. So I just stuck with wearing my speedsuit instead.  Darn it! It would have saved me an extra 2-3 mins easily, especially since I am not a strong swimmer.

Swim: I prayed against any bacteria, infections, diseases before I entered that water, LOL! It was so gross. All the females started at once so it seemed crowded to me. I was stuck right smack dab in the middle too, so I ended up getting slapped, kicked, and punched, more than any race so far starting out. My goal was to try and get out of that mess asap! I swam so hard and eventually got away and was able to get in a rhythm. I hit lots of debris and tried so hard not to take in any water, but failed. There was a nice current on the last half of the swim in which I took advantage of. I was so happy to have exited that water! My time was 25:56 with a 6 min improvement from LY’s swim.

T1: Transition was a muddy mess and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to clip my shoes into my pedals from all the mud. It felt like a slow transition, 1:42 mins.  I still need to work on this! It’s basically FREE TIME!!! Next goal is to try and get under 1:15 min. I can do it!!
Bike: It was sooo sooo nice not having the mix of both the sprint and int’l distances together. There was so much more room to bike and I didn’t feel so overly crowded.  I recommend doing this again next year!  The course takes you through the HOV lane right in Pgh, it was a double loop so we had to climb the hill twice, but it’s always nice flying on the way back down.  Not much to report here; finished the bike in 1:11:26, another 7 min improvement from LY’s bike!

T2: I managed to make it out of transition in 1:26. I still think I can be faster!! Again, more practice=free time! Poor “Feltsie” was a muddy mess!! Oh well! Onto the run!!
Run: I could hear my family cheering sooo loudly! It was awesome! Matty was taking so many pics and it was so much fun to have them there to support me! I took off and immediately felt my legs. My first mile clocked in at 7:10, and felt effortless. I picked up a few seconds with mile 2 at 6:57, and then 7:03, 7:05, 7:08 and finally 7:06! I felt great and was pretty sure I could have pushed it even more on the run. I’m finding that with becoming a better cyclist has helped improve my running BIG time! I managed to finish the run with a time of 44:07, 7:05 avg pace. I improved my run time by 2 mins and 30 seconds! I was happy tri-athlete!!  Final time was 2:24:39, good for 2nd in AG and 9th female OA. I was excited to have improved in all 3 events AND my family was there to experience it with me. 

It’s such a great feeling to keep improving at each race! My confidence from LY has grown leaps and bounds and I truly never thought I would enjoy racing this sport as much as I do now. I have ALWAYS loved running for years and never thought I would get into the “triathlon” world until I met my husband. He turned my world upside down when he introduced this new “sport” to me last year.  He believed that with practice, time and patience, I could get good at this sport. He purchased two bikes for me, all of my gear, a coach, taught me how everything he knew about the sport and encouraged me to go and race my heart out. My 3rd triathlon race EVER was a full Ironman, IMFlorida. My very 1st tri race was the Edinboro sprint LY, and 2nd was Eagleman. If you would have asked me a year and a half ago if I would be racing this kind of distance, I would have laughed. I truly believe that you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to!  All it takes is willingness to step out, time, patience, dedication, practice and confidence to go after whatever you want to do in life! I also believe that it’s even easier with God at the center of it all! HE gives us the desires of our hearts and we can do ALL things, when we give HIM all the glory!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Muncie Race Report

Soooo ready to RACE!!! Matt and I left for Muncie, Indiana on Thursday morning. We decided to wake up and leave early, take our time driving in, with plans to check into the hotel around 4pm. Once we arrived and unloaded the car, we figured we might as well go scope things out. There was no early athlete check-in so we chose to kill some time and drive both the bike and run course. Bike course was pretty pancake flat, maybe a few rollers near the end and the run course was rollers throughout the course, no BIG hills to conquer so wasn’t too worried. We also knew signing up for this race that it was going to be HOT but that wasn’t a huge concern. With training in the heat the past month and a half, I was ready to RACE!! Bring on the hot weather!!!
Friday we woke up, ate a quick breakfast compliments of the hotel, and got a quick bike ride in to loosen up the legs. The temp was around 94 degrees at 9:45am.  Bike check-in wasn’t until 2pm, which I thought was kind of late, so we tried to get things done before then. We drove over to the transition site to check things out and to attempt to get in a quick swim, but unfortunately a no-go. The swim was in the Prairie Creek Reservoir, very similar to Maraine State Park. There were “designated swim areas” with lifeguards on duty so we were unable to swim unless we either A. paid or B. had our athlete wrist bands on. We hadn’t checked in yet so no wrist band; I was not about to pay money to go swim but I also wasn’t too concerned about not swimming before this race, so off to the “check-in” we went!
The first “athlete meeting” was not until 2pm (again I thought this was late). After check-in, we grabbed a bite to eat at Subway and then headed over to the “meeting.” I think these “briefings” are all the same, but for some reason I felt this was going to be different. The first thing the race director said and I quote, “Hey, sorry guys, I hate to break it to ya but there is nothing else we can do but shorten the race course tomorrow due to the extreme temps.” Just like that. I seriously thought he was kidding! I guess the weather forecasted temps in the 100’s with a heat warning, and a 115 degree heat index. My first thought was okay I understand this, but didn’t we all sign medical form waivers?? There has got to be a better way to handle this, maybe have those who do not want to race, defer? Isn’t Kona hotter than this? Seriously I traveled this far to race an Olympic distance?????? I was NOT a happy camper. But it was what it was and there was nothing I could about it.
We drove back to transition to drop off our bikes and then headed back to the hotel to meet up with Joe V (who drove in Friday) then off to shower, relax, get our bottles of nutrition ready and meet Matt’s parents for dinner.  It was nice of Marty and Bill to come out and support us, we felt badly it was such a short race and yet they still decided to come out to watch us! We enjoyed a quick meal at the Olive Garden, and were back to the hotel and fast asleep by 8:45pm.

Race morning/Swim: The first swim wave started at 6:30am, we had to get up and moving by 3:50am to get to transition and warm-up. Since this was a shortened race: 1 mile swim, 30 mile bike and 6.2 mile run, I had to mentally prepare myself for this distance. The only other “Olympic” like distance I have done was the Pgh Tri last July, eek! Breakfast included one cliff bar for breakfast and a Gatorade, didn’t need to pack in the calories for this distance. My swim wave started at 7:10am and Matty’s at 7:40am. Matt usually has to wait for me to cross the finish-line, but today it was going to be the other way around! The water temp was a nice warm 88 degrees, disgusting! Blech! I quickly threw on my speed suit and away I went. The swim actually seemed a lot longer to me, and the last half I was swimming directly into the sun. I had no idea what my time would be, all I know is my face felt like it was a ball of fire! I did what I could and finished the swim at 31:33, 1:57/100m. 

Bike: I knew this part of the race was going to be over in a blink! It felt like I was riding 10 miles. Not much to say here except the course was pretty flat and fast with a few rolling hills (2-3). At this point I must have accidently hit the stop button or something on my Garmin instead of lap, so I was all messed up. I tried to clear and start over but it wasn’t working out (drat!), so I figured I already had my trusty computer on my bike so I could at least see my speed, cadence, etc.  I had two bottles of infinite with me but only drank one and ¼ bottles. I have been having stomach issues lately on the bike for some reason so I didn’t want to over-do it being it was a shorter distance. It worked out well. I finished the bike with a time of 1:18:34, 22.91 mph and wanted to keep going!!

Run: At this point I was feeling great, legs felt strong, no sick-to-my stomach feeling this time! I was a happy camper! Only downfall was I still couldn’t get to the right screen on my Garmin, so instead of slowing down to try and fix it, I decided to run by “feel.”  I didn’t start drinking any water until the second aid station. There were stations set up every ½ mile.  I grabbed cold sponges and ice water and dumped them on my head, other than that there was no stopping.  I was trying to aim for 7:15-7:30 pace and I was fairly close. I finished the run with a time of 46:35, 7:30/mi.  It was starting to get harder to breathe towards the end of my run, but all-in-all not too terribly bad for not knowing my pace or heart-rate.  I finished the race with an overall time of 2:42:03, ranked 12th in my division. I will get top 5 one of these days!!! ANNNNND I don’t think I will ever be back to Muncie to race anytime soon (not to mention, there is NOTHING to do there, you sneeze and you’re thru the town), but at least I got another great “training day” under my belt. 

Special congrats to Joe V. who qualified for Vegas and placed 2nd in his division!!! You rock!!

AND just some random great things about traveling in the car to the races are:

1.       I get to spend some quality time with my hubby, chatting about everything

2.       Extra sleep!

3.       Our tradition of stopping at a yummy restaurant on the way home, I must say though I LOVE Chipotle after a race…it might be the salt!

4.       Singing

5.       Listening to a good message-Keith Moore

6.       Any kind of “road” games!

7.       Taking pictures of “state” signs when passing thru each state

I can’t read or do anything constructive, due to getting car sick easily so that’s basically the extent of my car trips!

Next race up, the Pgh Tri!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Eagleman race report!

Finally! My first race of the year! I was scheduled to race Knoxville, TN half IM (in May) however; I ended up taking a back seat due to an infection in my root canal. A few days prior to the race, the oral surgeon had to go in and cut off my dead root to stop the infection heading to my tooth. Yes it was painful and sooo glad it’s over and done with. Eagleman was my very first half IM last year so I was going into the race familiar with the course and the unbearable heat but ready to shed some major time off. This year’s training has been different in the fact that I have been using Mark Allen online since January 1st! I could already tell huge improvements in my overall training from last year and I felt a lot stronger going into this racing season. I was ready to push myself a little harder this race. Ready or not, here I come!!!
Matt and I packed and left on Friday. We hit up our usual Quizno’s subs on the way in for dinner and eventually made it to our hotel to unpack, get settled in.  A nice 91 degrees!

Saturday we woke up, made our way down to the hotel breakfast buffet to fuel up and then off to get our bike and run in early, near the transition area. The course is pancake flat so it was nice to feel so fast riding around on the run course. By 9am it was already 85 degrees and humid! I had been doing some training the past month or so in the heat of the day to prepare myself so I knew how to handle my nutrition as well. After our quick spin and 2 mile run, Matt and I headed to check-in. Super crowded as usual, we grabbed our “goodie bags,” changed, met up with Joe V. and were off to swim in the lovely Choptank River. It was 74.6 degrees that morning, perfect for me! I had a chance to try out my new blue seventy speed suit! I felt super-fast for once! I think I may like it even better than my wetsuit. I feel like that thing is so restricting. I could barely tell I had my speedsuit on! Sweet! I felt ready! After the quick swim, we headed back to the car to get our bikes ready to check in. We ran into Ben Erdeljac on his run. He was looking strong and ready to have a great race as well!
The rest of the afternoon was spent indoors, napping and watching soccer! Matt and I met up with Joe and Fay for dinner at Olive Garden fairly early, then it was back to the hotel to get the bottles ready, clothes laid out and off to bed! I was excited and ready to roll!

RACE DAY has arrived! Up and ready to head out the door by 5am. I had my usual breakfast that consisted of two mojo cliff bars and a Gatorade. Matt and I managed to get a nice spot along the side streets so we didn’t need to take the shuttle. We got our #’s, set up transition area, hit the port-a-potty’s and were out of transition in a flash to wait for our swim wave.

Swim: Wetsuit legal!  I managed to get to an outside spot near the front so I could stay away from the crowd. It turned out to be the best decision yet! The first half of the swim was still a little rough, as always, but I managed to keep the goggles on my head, clear of fog, without a kick or a slap in the face and I passed people on the second half! I had no idea how much I would improve on the swim, however I knew I was swimming A LOT this year, and when I finished I couldn’t believe it was already over! The swim felt incredibly fast! I ended up crossing the line at 35:04! And with a heart rate at 135bpm, Whew! A mere 13 min improvement from last year! I probably could have pushed it harder after glancing at my heart rate. The swim actually felt easy to me! Another learning experience in the making! Oh well, I was a happy camper though!
Bike: This is where I wanted to improve the most! I had been incorporating a lot more speed and tempo work along with longer rides this year, so again I was ready to improve, and I was hoping to by at least 12 minutes. I pushed it on the bike, but still left a little fuel in the tank for the run. I still find it hard to find the line where I push it or leave a little juice left. I guess it will come with more racing and more years of practice. I managed to keep my heart rate at about 139bpm average for the bike. Again still finding if I should push harder than this; just like the swim the bike felt so short to me! I carried 3 bottles of infinite on good ol “Feltsie” and drank 1 bottle of Gatorade I grabbed at one of the aid stations. I also took in 1 packet of cliff bar shots. I felt a little bloated but knew that I would need the fluids/nutrition if I wanted to have a strong run. I finished my ride with a 2:47:52/20.03avg/139bpm. A 24 minute improvement from LY, I’ll take it!! Oh, and I managed to pee on my bike! Matt always laughs at me! But hey, when you gotta go, you gotta go!

Run: Last but not least! Going into the run, I found my legs and was feeling good. I didn’t need to drink anything the first 4 miles since I was pretty well hydrated. The first 2 miles I managed to keep a 7:30 pace, for the next 2 miles 7:45-7:55pace and then that’s where I slowed down. Note: I never get nauseous on my training brick workouts, but it always seems to appear at my races! Argh! I am trying to figure it out. It could be the infinite making my stomach upset? I dunno. But the inevitable happened again, at mile 8 I managed to get so nauseous and sick to my stomach. I was praying to God to try and hold it in and couldn’t. Yes, I threw up. Not good. Although, I felt much better afterwards, but trying to catch up and get the fluids back in me was another problem of itself. I pretty much wanted to shut down but kept telling myself that I have come this far, no walking. So I let myself walk when I got to the “aid” stations and then kept running. I grabbed ice and water at every station and just doused my head with it. I crossed the line at 1:54:28/8:44/mi/151bpm. (The only non-improvement of the race). As soon as I crossed the finish, Matt was there to greet me and I completely blacked out. I didn’t remember anything except for waking up in the medical tent hooked up to IV’s. Matt said he and another guy had to carry me to the tent and I was out. I guess the heat did me in. I immediately felt better within the hour and came back to life. Still with the awful run I managed to get a huge PR for the day! 5:22:03!! Matt also managed to have a great day finishing up at a 4:45:38!!! I was so excited!  I shaved a mere 29:50 minutes off my LY’s time at Eagleman and placed 17th in my age group! I know I have A LOT more training and racing to do to get to where I want to be, but practice makes ALMOST perfect right? Next race is Muncie, IN anther HIM July 7th!
(Sorry, not too many pictures to show this time, Marty and Bill Crummy couldn’t make it). They are the picture phines!! We missed you guys this time around! :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Matty's Race Report-Knoxville, TN!!

My wife has been asking for several months for me to start writing blog posts for her site.  There are a lot of topics that I’ll hopefully get to write about at some point – what I’ve learned and experienced about faith in God, leadership, and family life to name a few.  For now though, Christy wanted me to write a race report for a recent half ironman I completed in Knoxville, TN (Rev3 Knoxville).  Some free advice for you men out there – do whatever your wife tells you to do and life will be great.  So, here goes my first guest blog post on her site and first race report – hope you enjoy!

Pre Race

 We arrived in TN on Friday night and checked in to our hotel.  On Saturday, covered the expo, light workout bike/run, checked out the transition area, etc…standard pre-race prep work.  It was humid and temps into the 80s – not ideal but good prep for the hotter summer races.  One interesting thing was that the water on the run course was going to be delivered in sealed 8oz bags…possibly a more eco-friendly approach?  All I know is that no one practicing opening these bags on Saturday did it without soaking themselves, and the water tasted pretty bad (like plastic, weird huh).  Didn’t seem like the best decision to me.  We went to drive the bike course after dinner - after leaving town, we must’ve made a wrong turn and ended up in the ALPS!  I am talking climb after climb, it was almost comical.  The course begins near a river so I am not sure how they couldn’t find a flatter bike course; but, it was a good test if nothing else.  Christy was literally laughing at how hilly it was and was almost relieved to not be racing (had to have emergency dental surgery the week before – doing great now thank God!).  I had that hilly ride and a steamy half marathon to look forward to afterwards the next morning.

Race Day

 Awoke early and fueled up, then got rolling to the race.  The transition area was in the bottom floor of a covered parking garage, which was awesome for two reasons.  First, everything was protected from possible rain/etc, and second, we parked like 100 yards from my bike.  Quickly got things set up and started the walk to the swim start.


 First lesson learned (again, unfortunately) – make sure you account for proper time to get in the water and warm up.  By the time I was ready to roll and wetsuit zipped up, I had probably <2 minutes until I had to get in the water.  Not the best swim warmup when you get the 30 second warning as you are jumping off the dock and into the chilly river. 

Swim was a “J” where 1/3 was upstream and 2/3 downstream, with very little current.  Water temp was cold but not uncomfortable, in the high 60s.  I am a middle of pack swimmer in most bigger races; got out at my average pace and swam in a somewhat straight line to the turn, and through to the end.  Not thrilled with my time but that is a function of lack of consistency through the previous few weeks of training and the resulting lack of fitness for the swim, and that I didn’t push particularly hard but focused on trying to be efficient in this leg of the race.  And I am not the fastest swimmer out there.  Oh well, pulled myself out of the water and began the couple hundred meter jog to the transition. 

 SWIM GRADE: (am I supposed to grade myself in these reports?)  B-

Transition and Bike

Rolled through T1 and onto the bike and got my feet into my shoes for a pretty quick transition.  Within a few miles was into climbing mode J.  I made it a point to try and push myself on the bike while trying to moderate HR.  In hindsight I probably overextended myself slightly on the first half of the course.  Wasn’t hammering up the hills, but was holding HR probably about 10bpm over where I should have been.  I have been riding quite a bit more this year though so again, wanted to test myself.  Made it a point to ease off slightly in the back half of the ride, to save some juice for the run.  Speaking of juice, I drank too much on the ride…lesson learned #2 for the race – make sure you do your nutrition homework to a high level of precision.  I drank between 4.5-5 bottles of 285cal Infinit on the ride when 4 would have been about right.  I should have known better based on experience, but now I will remember for next race.  It is important to pay attention to all the details to set yourself up for success.  Finished off the bike with some TIRED legs due to the challenging, hilly course, and a knotted up stomach.  Christy yelled “how was the bike” and I replied “I guess we will see soon”; still had the sense of humor anyway!  Got out of my shoes before dismount and flew through T2.  I think I passed three people in transition that got in just before me, which is always nice…free speed!





 Running off the bike is a strange sensation if you have never done it before.  You need to manage your pace and turnover on your “tired” legs or you will go way too fast out of the gate.  Well, within the first 10 steps of the run I knew it was gonna be rough run…I wasn’t running on “tired” legs, I was running on TIRED legs...not a whole lot extra to give.  And, I was running on a full/upset stomach, which is about as fun as it sounds.  Clipped off the first 3 miles at ~7:00/mi pace, close to where I wanted to be, and from that point had to take what my legs/body would give me.  Pace slowed ~45sec/mi depending on the terrain (some long rollers during the middle 6mi of the run) and focused on staying relaxed and regulating body temperature.  The one good thing about those plastic water bags is that I grabbed 2-3 at every aid station and doused my head, top, and arms.  The arm coolers I was wearing stayed wet and helped to keep me cool – whether placebo or not, I was getting a benefit.  Finally was able to take in some fluid ~11mi into the run, though at that point I probably didn’t even need it.  I started to run out of steam at mile 12 and was unfortunately passed by a couple people over the last 2 miles as I slowed a little, but really I was pretty happy that I kept a fairly steady pace for the last 10mi given the heat, my unhappy legs, and the stomach situation.  Coming up to the finishing chute is always exhilarating and finished off the run in 1:41ish for an overall time of 5:02+, good for 27th place. 



I came out of the race pretty happy with my fitness for early May.  I had a few clear areas to work on and since then, training has gone really well.  Both Christy and I are pumped for our races this summer so look to hear more about them in the coming weeks! 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Matt's big day!

Happy 31st Birthday Matty!!

Matt’s turning 31 on Saturday May 19th! I always tell him that I like to celebrate him every day, not just the day of his birth, he just laughs. Sooo in lieu of his big day I wanted to share a few things about why I love this man!

                      31 things you should know about my AWESOME hubby:

1.      AMAZING heart for God and unconditional love for me!!!

2.      Left handed

3.      Comes across quiet and laid back, until you get to know himJ

4.      Brainiac, nerd…enough said there!

5.      Attended Carnegie Mellon University for undergrad and grad school, was named among the top 20 soccer players in CMU’s history, and was the assistant men’s soccer coach!

6.      Can whip up a mean spicy chili (layers of goodness), chocolate chip waffles, breakfast sandwich and yummy chicken tetrazzini!

7.      Tells it like it is; only black and white here folks.

8.      Is both a night and morning person.

9.      Extremely dislikes making the bed, but willing does so on many occasionsJ

10.  Two favorite beverages: 2% milk and Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi, aaaaand maybe some Mt. Dew Supernova!

11.  Favorite food is PIZZA and peanut butter English muffins!

12.  Hates surprises.

13.   Thinks watching movies in theater’s is a waste of time.

14.   Played ice hockey, soccer, and hurdled (track) in high school at Pine Richland and has won every award known.

15.   Biggest pet-peeves: any loud chewing/eating sounds, lazy/unmotivated people.

16.   The last person to leave work every day, overachiever!

17.   Knows the exact miles on each pair of shoes he owns, which is A LOT.

18.   Biggest chip monster EVER-it’s got to be Tostitos’ with cheese dip! He will even eat chips in soups, as a side dish, mashed up with meat, you name it!

19.   Carnegie Mellon runs in the family: Matt’s only brother, both my brother and sister AND dad are alumni!

20.   Allergic to cats

21.   Not a fan of coffee at all, even hates the smell….CRAZZY!

22.   Director of Marketing Analytics at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

23.   Likes to use his white t-shirts as napkins and to blow his nose, gross!

24.   Built his own bike (Quintana Roo) and taught himself to swim!

25.   Writes the best notes, words of encouragement, and cards, EVER.

26.   Prays God’s word over me and encourages me to seek God daily.

27.   Some favorite movies/shows: Shawshank Redemption, Batman series, The Office, The Godfather, Indiana Jones, 24, Braveheart, Gladiator, Tour de France, Modern Family.

28.   LOVES kids!!!! Sooo excited, he’s going to make the BEST dad!

29.   Extremely detail-oriented and driven in every area.

30.   Sept. 2008-Pgh Great Race: the day Matt found me and the rest is history.

31.   The most selfless, humble, giving, hardworking, encouraging, supportive, honest, loveable, genuine, Godly (and the list goes on) man I know.

There is no truer and greater gift than God’s gift of salvation and HIS gift of bringing Matt into my life. I shine because of him. I absolutely love my life and going this journey together. Matt brings out the best in me and every day I fall more and more in love with him. Here’s to another year full of memories and growing closer together!

I love my better half!

Happy Happy Birthday Matty!

Saturday, May 12, 2012



8 years. Can’t believe that it’s been this long since my Mom has passed away. Her time on earth was all too short but her impact on my life remains unmatched. I often wonder to myself if she could look at my life, what would she tell me? Would she be proud of the woman I’ve become?  Would she recognize the path I’ve traveled and the vision I have to be the same path and vision I had when she was here with me? Would she see the fruit of the investment she willingly and lovingly made in my life?  Would she see the result of the teaching, training, love, and prayer she made on my behalf?  What would she notice about the woman I’ve become?  
My mother was an extremely passionate person. She taught me to be passionate about God, family, and passionate about using what God gave us in the form of talent and ability to make a difference in the lives of others for the sake of the kingdom. I learned so much from her about passion! Passion is what fueled her vision. She was passionate about things that fit her vision and what she was called to do with her life. My Mom was passionate about things that would make a difference in the lives of others and not just things that produced pleasure with no eternal significance.  She taught me that I must have Godly passion in my life and find a way to continue to ignite that passion to fuel my vision!  I still think about this all the time.
My mother was a selfless leader. My Mom gave up a career to be a stay at home Mom and wife. My Mom could be found cheering on the sidelines at many soccer games, cross country and track meets; she taught vacation Bible school at church; volunteered as PTA Mom and served on many different committees; volunteered as a youth leader for junior and senior high students, hosted high school Bible studies, women’s small groups and home groups at our house; she volunteered at our youth swim team as a timer; she taught MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), spoke in dozens of high schools on abstinence, sex and dating; she volunteered at the Wexford Crisis Pregnancy Center; she worked two part time jobs! My Mom was ALWAYS present, in my life, and working in the lives of and for so many others. She truly made impacting the lives of others a full time job.  My Mom didn’t have any extraordinary talents; she was a woman of great passion, vision and a willingness to let God use her in everyday life!
My Mom taught me so much about sacrifice as well. She was by no means flashy or showy. My Mom was a jeans, sweatshirt and t-shirt kind of Mom! I love this story that my dad always shares with me, my brother and sister: “Her first job after college was at the Rankin Christian Center in Rankin/Braddock where she drove a huge bomber of a car - a tan 1968 Chevy Impala that was stolen twice!  Her office was a closet with no windows in a rundown building that had been a church at one time.  Her job was to create after school tutoring and child care programs for street gang kids where the word ‘home’ didn’t mean much.  I remember the first time I went with her to deliver turkeys and canned goods to the families who were in desperate need in Rankin at Thanksgiving.  While I was pretty nervous to be in such gang infested neighborhoods, Mom cheerfully and fearlessly walked right into some of the most run down houses I’ve ever been in and with that huge smile, delivered turkeys and canned goods and hugs.  Oh, how the families cried when they saw us coming into their houses with the food.  The kids loved her as they grabbed her and squeezed her so hard out of sheer gut wrenching gratitude and embarrassment for the desperate conditions they were living in. She gave them hope and helped them believe that with God’s help, better times were just around the bend.” Sacrificing herself and serving others was Mom at her best.
My Mom led a life of unwavering faith and courage.  I watched first hand at what it was to walk thru the most difficult situation: cancer. She NEVER worried, fell apart, nor was she ever angry at God. In fact, she journaled everyday about the healing power of God at work in her body. She sang praises in the midst of the most life threatening disease, never once wavering, standing on God’s promises.  She kept her faith in God and stood her ground unafraid. That takes HUGE courage! That is real faith.
Now my Mom is rejoicing with the Lord in Heaven, that is a huge reward! I cannot wait to see her again. I miss her more than words than describe. There are days when all I want to do is hug her, talk to her, spend wee hours of the night hanging out watching movies and eating junk food! I miss our runs together and shopping trips and doing the fun mother-daughter things. OH I know it will be so hard not to have her around when the kids start to come. BUT you know what, God has used this loss to call me to a higher level, a deeper walk with HIM. I want to live my life in a way that honors Mom and glorifies God.  So I honor my Mom today by continuing to passionately pursue God with my whole heart. I can still hear her say to me today, “Christy, you’re a world changer! It’s in you!”
Love and miss you Mom more than you know!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom's out there! 

Here is a short video on the legacy of my mom that our church put together. Check it out!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Are you growing?

Where have these past few weeks gone?? It feels as if February never existed!! I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun OR have a BUSY schedule! Whew!!!
For those of you who know me, I ALWAYS look at the glass half full. I look for the good in everyone and everything, count my blessings, and try to enjoy every day to the fullest! This past month and a half, have been EVEN MORE challenging (in good ways).  I have buckled down, put my nose to the grindstone and focused on completing all of my workouts (not that I haven’t before but it is a lot different from last year’s training regime). Let’s just say I am soo happy it’s starting to feel like spring outside! Long bike rides spent on the trainer along with long runs on the treadmill can drive one insane after a while! I’m sure ready for a change of scenery! This weekend was glorious, weather-wise! I was thrilled to be able to enjoy it! I’ve also seen huge results already with my new training and I’m quite excited! I can tell an overall improvement from last training season and I’m pumped!! First race is in May!!  

I have really been seeking God on the next phase of my life as well,(spending more time in the Word and listening to some awesome teaching) that has changed my way of thinking! Matty and I continue to grow more together, not only thru our love and passion for working out and enjoying similar hobbies, but by listening to these life-changing messages together. IF you have the opportunity, check out Keith Moore, Steven Furtick and Joyce Meyers (some of my fav’s), they will seriously rock your world and challenge the heck out of you! Matt and I just finished listening to “Great Grace” by Keith Moore, 10 part listening series and boy I thought I knew everything there was to know about grace! Haha.  There’s a lot more to it than you think!  I encourage you to plug something in when you can find the time! If you have a nice little commute to work, that would be a great time to listen to a teaching, OR maybe when you’re working out, download a message! I make it a habit and have noticed much fruit produced from this!
I’ve enjoyed really “living out” my walk with God on a daily basis (not that I wasn’t before). Every day (before my feet hit the ground) I ask God to give me opportunities to be a blessing to someone, ANYONE and HE has! God has given me numerous opportunities to witness that I can’t even count them on my hand. After all, isn’t that why we are here on this earth in the first place, to be a witness and reach out to those lost and in need?? I only wish I had more to give, not only in a monetary sense but with my time as well. Everyone could use a shoulder to lean on and a person to talk to! Everyone wants a true and honest friend who will challenge and pray with them. I challenge you not to save “church” for once a week, but to really live out your “walk with God” on a daily basis. HE wants to USE you in ways you’ve never known, HE wants to lead and guide your next steps in life, but you have to learn to listen to HIS voice daily and not only once a week church time, or you’ll never know what steps to take that are Godly instead of just good.

I can honestly say I truly love my life and couldn’t be happier right now. I always say, if you’re not stretching, growing or working outside your comfort zone, then you’re not really living your life to the fullest! God has called us to make a difference! So start with where you are now. HE will take you places you’ve never dreamed before! I can’t wait for this next new season in my life! All the glory to God!

Saturday, February 18, 2012


When Christy as me to be a guest writer on her blog, I was simultaneously excited and terrified.  Excited by the opportunity to share my testimony with others but terrified at the thought of putting my testimony into words…and conveying all I wanted to say in a few short paragraphs nonetheless.  My testimony is one to which many women my age can relate; but I had no idea how to put it into words.  I spent weeks brainstorming about this post but hadn’t written a single word.  My story was still just random thoughts floating in my head, waiting for a spark of inspiration that allowed me to piece them all together.

Then, I heard Britt Nicole’s new song “All this Time.”  Christy, myself, and another of our friends had a blast on a recent road trip to West Virginia to see Britt Nicole and Brandon Heath in concert!  So, I was pumped to hear Britt’s latest single!  As I listened to the following verse for the first time, tears rolled down my cheeks:

Ever since that day
it’s been clear to me
that no matter what comes
You will never leave
I know You’re for me
And You’re restoring

Every heartache and failure
every broken dream
You’re the God who sees
The God who rescued me
This is my story
This is my story

I feel no truer words have ever been spoken.  And so…this is my story.

Until 8 months ago, I never openly admitted that I suffered from a debilitating depression.  I was 27 years old, I had a great job, I was physically healthy, my family was close-by, well, and loving beyond words, I had great friends who cared about me, I was well-educated, and I had dreams of one day being married and having a family.  What on earth did I have to be depressed about?  But there it was…this constant, empty feeling that kept scratching at my soul telling me that something wasn’t quite right, something was missing. 

I often felt like I was born without a particular gene, or that something went wrong when I was developing and that I was just hard-wired to be an unhappy person.  Despite the many blessings in my life, I was never happy.  Ever.  Sadly, I couldn’t recall a time in my life when I felt like things were going my way, according to my plan.  Most days, I was miserable.  If something didn’t go my way, I felt cheated and like life had let me down yet again.  I snapped at people and changed moods at the drop of a hat.  I’m surprised I even had friends because I was not fun to be around!  My cynicism was my defense mechanism, and I had a pessimistic view toward literally everything. 

But most people in my life never knew about any of this.  I plastered a smile on my face and played the part of happy, successful, energetic, 20-something that everyone expected me to play.  However, inside I was slowly dying.  At one point, my depression was so bad that I started skipping work, I began abusing alcohol, often drinking alone, and I often found myself curled up in the fetal position, crying.  Sure, medication and therapy helped a little bit.  But neither of those things really filled the void inside me. 

Because of the stigma surrounding a mental illness, I never wanted to admit that I was suffering from depression.  I convinced myself that I just hadn’t found the right things in life that would make me happy.  To me, being happy equated to being in a loving relationship with a man.  So I spent years trying to find that “perfect guy.”  I was tortured by failed relationship after failed relationship.  Each time, I feel deeper and deeper into that black hole when a man didn’t live up to my expectations. 

It was after the last break-up that I reached out to Christy.  I was upset, lonely, and desperately looking for answers about why my relationship ended.  Christy and the guy who had just broken up with me were friends and I thought, in a very 7th grade kind of way, that she might be able to provide some answers.  Instead, she advised me to look to God, seek Him out, give my heart to Him, let Him heal me and restore me, and let Him take me where He will. 

For someone who wasn’t religious, this was certainly not that answer I was looking for.  I expected sympathy but instead was encouraged to stop feeling sorry for myself.  Christy shared Jeremiah 29:11 with me: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

God was not a part of my life back then, but for some reason this verse stayed with me during the following weeks after talking with Christy.  I knew something had to change.  I knew I could no longer keep living life the way that I was.  If I continued down that abyss, it would surely swallow me up eventually.  I had dreams of a happy marriage, children, and a good life.  Those things would surely never become a reality if I continued to live in a depressed state.  I had to live differently.  I had to change. 

Christy advised me to seek God, but I admittedly had no idea how to do that.  Where did one start?  I assumed it started by finding the right church, so at a friend’s suggestion, I started going to North Way Christian Community, in Oakland.  I really didn’t know what to expect but I was a little culture-shocked by the worshipping, praising, and clapping.  Despite feeling a little uncomfortable, I was impressed by the amount of people my age, the unity among the worshippers, the smiles on everyone’s faces, and how welcome I felt by complete strangers.  I went back the next week…and the week after that…and the week after that. 

Little by little, God’s grace softened my hardened heart.  The words of the songs resonated with me all week, and I began to see God in everything…the sunshine, little things that made me happy, spending time with people I loved.  I started talking to God more, praying, expressing thanks for things.  I finally recognized that I had been living completely wrong.  I had wanted everything exactly when I wanted it and on my terms; it didn’t work like that.  God had plans for me, better plans than I could ever have for myself, and He knew the exact perfect moment to unveil them.  Only God would heal my spirit, only He could fill the void, only He could give me everything I had always been looking for.  I was never going to find it elsewhere; that’s why I had always been disappointed.  But after realizing God’s immense love for me, I knew I didn’t need anything else.  I was complete and fulfilled simply by accepting His grace and by knowing that I was given the most perfect gift of absolute, unconditional love by Him. 

Even though I was completely broken and so imperfect, the Lord embraced me and rescued me, which is why Britt Nicole’s lyrics touched my heart.  I once felt like I had no one on my side and that I was a failure because I had so many unfilled dreams.  But I feel differently know.  I know I have the Lord on my side and he will never leave me or forsake me.  He will never disappoint me.  He will never lead me astray.  Once I stopped trying to control life and instead I threw my hands up to the Lord and said, “Take me.  Do what you wish with me.  Lead me where You want me.  You know best,” I experienced true freedom.  I am a child of God!  I can do absolutely anything!  The Lord has promised great things to me, and I look forward to each day as I see His will unfold more and more. 

After accepting Christ into my life, it was like a switch was flipped.  My view on absolutely everything has changed.  I literally had a change of heart; I’m no longer cynical or pessimistic.  A few months ago, I was baptized.  I was to make a vow and publically declare that my old life was over, my old ways of thinking were dead.  Christy even came to support me!  I see each day as a blessing and another chance to give God glory for his infinite wonder.  I am happy, fulfilled, positive, hopeful, and oh-so-ever-grateful.  To Christy, and to “the God who rescued me.”