Sunday, December 30, 2007

Happy 5th Birthday

I'm gonna finish the 2007 pictures but wanted to put this out there. Today my kids turn 5 years old. Man how time flies. Scott and I are taking the kids to the store and are letting them pick out 1 toy then taking them to dinner. Gracie loves to eat in restaurants. Here the conversation Zak and I had this morning.

me: Happy birthday big boy.
Zak: Thanks mom. big grin on his face.
me: So what toy are you gonna pick when we get to the store.
Zak: We have to go to Grandma's Target - only grandma's Target has dark vadors guest star.
me: What? What is it you want?
Zak: You know mom, it's on TV, dark vadors guest star.

Here's what he wants ....
Darth Vader / Death Star

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


January 2007
It's hard to recognize faces when we are all bundled up - in the baseball cap is Tom, then Doug, Scott (I think) and then I'm almost certain that's Ken. I'm officially old. I'm not sure who is in pictures anymore. :)

Here's me, Scott and the kids up at the Dells for Raiders week-end. You can't see my hands but I wacked the crap out of them running on the treadmill at the lodge health club. 2008 I'm bringing my Garmin and running in the cold.

Here's Tom F. and Tom R. I'm not sure if this was the time Tom F. got lost and Tom R. played rescue ranger by driving his SUV down the running path. One of the many benefits to joining a tri club. Can you tell, we had a very cold winter last year.

The kidlins sledding by the house. For some reason they never get cold -unless their gloves fall off :)

April 2007
Here's me and Deb's in Boston. We had brunch at a french bistro before heading off to mass. I made her walk back to the hotel in the rain. It was only about a mile and a half. We weren't in the nicest part of town and there wasn't a cab to be found. We managed just fine. :) :)

Here I am back in our nice warm hotel room after the marathon. That's Keri's red shirt I have on. Deb's and I stayed in and ordered room service for dinner and watched Everybody Loves Raymond reruns. I'm not sure if she was laughing at the show or me resting my legs up the back of the bedboard.

May 2008
Here's Gracie and Zak actually getting along at the park. For as cold as winter was, we had a very warm spring.

I found this picture from the FOS ridewhile putting the end of the year video together for the club.

Here's the group at the Joliet Sudden Century ride.
Wind - what wind?

Not sure what Doug is showing me at Bike the Drive, maybe it had something to do with changing Laura's tire.

Does life get any better than this?! :)

My incredibley shrinking husband back in June. I was so happy he decided to come to the Horribly Hilly Hundreds with me. Scott and the kids actually had energy and were happy after the long day and even longer car ride home.

The American Flag coming back from our ride to Monee on July 4th.

More pictures to come .....

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dolphins - Chicklets n Candy Canes - Snow

I stink at making football picks. Week after week I come in last. So, I recruited Grace to help me make my picks. Heck, we couldn't possibly do any worse than what I had been picking. Gracie is 4 so she picked all the animal teams except for the Raiders - her "dad's team". We picked the Dolphins, again, this week. And they won!!! I felt like I was watching the Super Bowl. Everytime a score would flash I would tell Scott, "we lost that game", I said this over and over until, the telecast of the overtime game with the Ravens and the Dolphins! Gracie and I were high fiving each other. YES! So far we have 6 right this week. :) All I can say is "GO BEARS". They play Monday night.

Ok, I know this stuff has nothing to do with training, running, swimming or biking but indirectly this kind of does. You see, I had my teeth worked on for several years after I flipped the handle bars on my bike. The first Christmas after the accident I had what is best described as chicklets for front teeth. I finally got my caps put on the following August, only to have shave off 2 pieces of them while eating spinich dip at a holiday party. It was back to the chicklet look for that Christmas too. The teeth held up for a good 10 years. Then the summer after the kids were born I was brushing my teeth before going to bed and I heard a crack. Well, I was brushing to hard I guess because I cracked the cap off. It was broken so bad that the little bit of tooth that the cap was attached to was even broken away. I had a choice of a denture plate (I'm not that old yet) or an implant. I picked the later. I had 3 teeth done. My front 2 and one in the back of my mouth that constantly gave me trouble. Fast forward to Friday, I'm eating a candy cane, biting pieces off, waiting, chewing and I realize that this piece is a little harder and crunchier than the others. You guessed it - I broke the back tooth in half. So instead of running Saturday morning I met with my dentist. Bright and earlier, trying to not lose my composure because I was told that dental implants last a "life time" and they aren't cheap. So now I wait, the tooth is being repaired. I was told "not to eat to much with the tooth missing back there". Which I guess is a good thing during the holiday season. :) At least it was the back tooth - so I don't have walk around with 2 pieces of gum for my front teeth.

Sunday woke up at 5:55 a.m. I could hear the wind hollowing. It was dark so I flipped the porch light and I could see the snow being blown around. Scott was downstairs already. He found a movie on TV. Grabbed my socks and hand warmers and went down to tell him I wasn't running this morning. I didn't hesitate with my descision. I was tired from all the holiday hoo hah and both kids have been fighting colds, so I've been up during the night giving them breathing treatments. As I curled up on the couch I put my hand warmers in my socks to keep my feet warm. I told Scott I would call Bubba at 6:30 and let him know I wasn't going. I knew he was probably the only one headed out there so he's the only one I would call. Started to watch the movie and the next thing I know my phone is ringing, it's 6:55, Bubba is calling me. I couldn't believe I got caught up in this really goofy movie. He wasn't going, then called back, he was going and so were 2 other trimates. Was asked if I was sure I didn't want to come. I just giggled and said, nope. Of course by 11 I was kicking myself for not getting out there. It was a beautiful morning. Got updates from the gang that it was a tough run but worth getting out there for. It was all fresh snow which meant they were clearing the path. Challenging. Next time.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Great Week-End

Saturday we met friends for a train ride with Santa. On the advice of the park district, who was hosting the event, we arrived by 8:15 a.m. It was cold! We were met by 4 young ladies bundled up in coats, scarfs and santa hats. We checked in and headed straight for the communter pavilion. I was surprised that there were already about 30 people waiting. Our friends arrived a little after 8:30.

We finally got on the train and found seats. Poor Debs lost all feeling in her legs because Zak had to sit on her lap. To be honest tho, I don't think she minded. :) Oh, her red nose is from the cold she's fighting. As soon as everyone was settled, one of the girls with a santa hat, that checked us in, read the Polar Express. Zak loves this book. He kept telling Debs that the boy gets a bell for Christmas. Once the book was finished we all started to sing. I know, it's kind of corny but hearing a bunch of children sing Christmas carols is enough to put even the Grinch in the holiday spirit. Gracie sure can carry a note. :) :) Cookies and milk were passed out. Then shortly after that Santa found his way to our car. Clapping, screaming, laughing and ho ho ho's were all you could hear. Heck, even I was excited. It was the quickest hour and a half I've ever spent. We were back at the train station by 10:30 filled with happy memories. Here's a pic of me and mom. I'm taking the pic, that why I look the way I do.

I met some tri buddies Sunday morning for a run at Swallow Cliff. Our usual parking area was locked so we parked at off the path at about the 4 mile mark. Thought Rick was coming out so I called him to tell him we were parked in a different spot. I think I woke him. Didn't sound like he was going to be joining us today. We kept a nice steady pace. Nothing fast. Snow covered everything. Thankfully it wasn't as icy as I thought it might be. Was glad I had the Yax Trax on. Noticed that a woman approaching us was a woman from spin class that I used to take. It was a nice surprise passing her, haven't seen her since last spring. Then saw a former tri club member, smiling, looking good off of his Florida Ironman finish. Chose to run thru one of the streams in stead of using one of the new bridges that has been put into place. It wasn't deep and figured it wouldn't hurt. If anything it would be a mind booster for later on when training starts to grind the mind. I enjoyed today. It was a little different from what we were used to. I got a couple of extra miles in after the group left and even climbed the stairs. May is fast approaching. 50 miles. Time to start looking at the training plan and putting things in place.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Jingle Bell Fun

Sunday was the Arthritis Foundation Jingle Bell 5k Run in Chicago. A group of trimates did it last year in the bitter, bitter cold. We had such a great time some of us decided to do it again.

Here we are at "LePeep" after the run. Nice shirts :)

Fortunately, this year the weather was ideal. 24 hours earlier we experienced a terrible ice storms and I don't think any of us would have guessed just how nice it was going to be for the start of the race. Cool and cloudy. I think it was just about 50 degrees with little wind. The worst part of the run was the puddles from the melted ice.

Scott I., Rick and I drove in together. Rick signed up early and had his packet picked up for him earlier in the week. All he needed was his chip. I signed up that morning which meant I didn't get a chip. Scott thought he signed up but when he went to pick up his packet, they didn't have him registered, so he signed up again. We met up with Laura and her hubby. Then found Doug and Sheila. We had checked our bags and still had a good 20 minutes so Scott and I did about a mile warm up. We talked about bikes, restaurants and how this was the race that made Scott famous. Last year he made the cover of Chicago Athlete magazine from doing this run. We joked about being prepared to smile in the spot that the photog took his picture last year. I took one of the kids santa hats to wear but couldn't keep it on my head. It kept slipping off or to the side. So I just held it while I ran. The warm up was over.

Found my way to the rest of my tri mates at the start line. It's funny the conversation that takes place. We all have the habit of looking down at our shoes. Doug was commenting on Rick's. I was noticing who had yanks and who still ties and who double ties like me. Then the gun sounded and we were off. Scott and I ran together. I was glad. I was still feeling like I was holding back after Grand Rapids. He kept me steady and paced me. Just before coming into the finish we slowed so I could put my Santa hat on for the photo op. We smiled again when we passed the news camera. Geeze, how corny. I don't think either one of us would be considered opportunists or publicity seekers but there we were saying "cheese". :) We stayed right around a 7:30 pace for the entire run. 23:26 and change was our final time.

While waiting to hear the results I was excited to see a woman I watched compete at the Florida Ironman. She did amazingly well. I wasn't sure if she knew me but I had to go and congratulate her. She was extremely humble describing her experience and it was great hearing her talk about it. She's headed to IM Canada next summer. I'm looking forward to following her journey.

The tri mates fared well. (We learned this morning that many of them had a podium finish!) We headed for brunch after the run. It was raining, so we did indeed dodge the weather demons this year. The conversation was as good as the food. I can't believe the year is coming to and end. It seems like we were just sitting in Wishbone laughing and talking about our plans for IMOO and the Chicago marathon and here we were talking about what a great time we had training and completing the races. And time moves on. :)

Saturday, December 1, 2007


We had lunch with Santa today. Went to download the pics and here are some shots that I didn't expect to find .....

Gracie taking a picture of Zak holding the class mascot.

Zak's self portrait.

Here's the one I took.
There's more that the kids took. Like 4 pics in a row of a whale on the kitchen floor or 3 pics of Gracies doodle bear sitting in the office chair. The things I don't see when I'm not looking. :)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Our tri-club group at this years local Turkey Trot. It was ccccccooooollllllldddddd!
Ya gotta love the reflective piping, it really works :)

Zak and Grace had a school project. They needed to cut out pictures of the things they were thankful for and then paste them to paper. The teachers would laminate the paper so they would have placemats for the holiday. Here's what they said .....

Gracie -

Right out of the gate - I get the #1 spot - "You mom, I'm thankful for you"

Our house

Warmed up milk in the morning





Oranges - "But Gracie we don't eat oranges." - "Oh yeah, ok, grapes."




Zak -

My transformer

Warmed up milk


Casey - his friend from school

Riley - Casey's sister


Cousins Matt, Nick and Sammy

"Ok mom, that's all I can think of, can I go play now?"

Ben 10

The difference between girls and boys - Scott and I didn't even rank on Zak's list. Not even a thought. :)

I've given this thankful thing a lot of thought. I know the obvious, I'm thankful for my family, friends, my home and faith in God, my health. Do I dig deeper than the obvious? Well, here are 10 things that would be on my placemat this year .....

  1. Finishing the Wisconsin Ironman safely and not feeling like I was going to die when Sammy joined me to cross the finish line.

  2. Running the Ridge Run in May and feeling like I wanted to keep running.

  3. Keri helping me after the Boston marathon

  4. Running on the lake front with Bubba while it is storming and windy and then getting the water and swimming, finally in the big waves!

  5. Watching my nephews Matt and Nick play football, side by side on the offensive line

  6. Standing in church, exhausted by the kids behaving badly that day and Scott grabbing my hand, knowing that he didn't have to say a word to make me feel better, just grabbing my hand was enough.

  7. Shopping in Jewel with Caroline. She was pushing Zak and he was grabbing the plastic produce bags and about to unroll them thru the fruits and vegi aisles. She laughed. Then told him no.

  8. Having Rick to ride the Horribly Hilly Hundreds with.
  9. Hearing my brother's voice on the phone, telling me he just won his golf tournament. We were both over come.

  10. Finding Gracie at the waterpark. We were separated for just a couple of minutes but it felt like an eternity. When I finally saw her from a distance she looked so scared but she did exactly what I told her to do. I ran up to her and she held on to me tighter than I ever felt her hold on before.

There's more. These are the ones I can think of now. I am truly blessed.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday to Sunday

What I saw and heard this week -

Sunday 11/11 a.m. - Was going to ride "Roll the Toll" but backed out because I was to chicken to bandit the ride. As usual I procrastinated to long and registration closed. So instead I ran with my tri buddies at one of my favorite places - Swallow Cliff. Was my first time running any decent distance since Grand Rapids. Perfect day. Cool - some sun. The scenery was amazing. The leaves were turning and still on the trees. Huge orange bouquets to run under. It was beautiful. Ken found some keys and about a 1/4 mile up the path we ran into the woman they belonged to. Ken got a hug from her and a huge thank you. Bubba and Tom couldn't let Ken be the only one receiving so they each got a hug - then they group hugged. Caroline and I couldn't stop laughing.

Monday 11/12 p.m. - The kids swam. Zak loves to look up and see me watching from the grand stand balcony. He always gives me a big thumbs up. Scott called to say he's not feeling well, he think he's got "it" - he's skipping the swimming and going to bed. Grace and Zak are the last out of the pool and the locker room. I make them dry their hair to avoid getting sick again. We "sneak" out the side door and all hold hands because we are now behind the school where it's dark. We sing on our way to the car.

Tuesday 11/13 afternoon - Finished folding the laundry and head to gram ma's. The kids play there while I attempt to start Christmas shopping. Scott Nextels me from work. "When is this weight going to be lifted off my chest?" he asks. "I'm going to the doc after work, don't call me, eat without me." Yup, he's got "it". Get a message on my answering machine from my friend in Minnesota - "Just read your blog, someone needs to yell at you for not going to the hospital in Grand Rapids. Hey, let's get together when we're in town for Thanksgiving! Call me!"

Wednesday 11/14 a.m. - Gracie doesn't want to walk to school. "It's to cold mom." Go to pick up the kids. Gracie's upset we aren't walking home. Go figure. We'll be sure to walk Friday. Realized I came in last again with my football picks. Ugh. My niece turned 20 today! 20! Time flies. Put up the Christmas tree. Am happy with my packing skills from last year. Nothing broke, everything comes right out of the boxes. Only have the lights working in the middle of the tree which is ok since that's the only part of the tree the kids put the ornaments on.

Thursday 11/15 afternoon - More Christmas shopping. Almost have the kids done. Review my lists. Remind myself that we don't want to make Christmas about "stuff" after seeing all the "Transformer action figures" that I think Zak would love. Scott's feeling better and wants meatloaf for dinner. Stop at Jewel, thank God I picked the hot dog piece that was stuck in my upper middle teeth cause I ran into my mom's girlfriend from high school. Later that night I try tracking down an old friend only to find out that she died of Lymphoma earlier this year. Cry while taking out the garbage later that night.

Friday 11/16 p.m. - My legs are burning. Screaming. Realize I haven't done any exercise since Monday morning when I did a half hour of yoga. Curse my time management skills. Set the alarm for Saturday 6:00 a.m.

Saturday 11/17 a.m. & p.m. - 6:15 a.m. - Crawl out of bed, get 35 minutes of yoga in. Time well spent. Run only 3 miles. It's cold and quiet outside. The run feels good. 10 a.m. - Finally find the photogs house who is taking our family picture (Patty please don't tell mom). 10:30 a.m. - I'm told I'm smiling to much. I need to just smile and not show my teeth. Huh? Hope the pics turn out. Go to 5 o'clock mass. We are still dressed in red shirts and khaki pants from taking the pictures earlier in the day. Start thinking we look pretty corny. See uncle Jeff on our way to the bathroom. Kids run to uncle after mass, they get so excited when they see him.

Sunday 11/18 a.m. - Meet up with my tri buddies at Swallow Cliff again. We have a bigger group this week! Even some new faces. The leaves are still on the trees but are now brown. What a difference a week makes.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


I enjoyed following last week's Florida Ironman. I knew several people doing it and they rocked the course. Since then I've been haunted by a story that came about from the race last week. A woman drown. A wife, a mother of 3 children 13, 11 and I believe 8. She raised money training and participating in the IMFL for an organization that helps grieving families who have unexpectedly lost a parent or child. ( God, now she is gone.

We all train so hard. We look forward to the day that we can challenge ourselves mentally and physically. And then the unexpected happens leaving all of us with the question - how could something like this happen?

I always try to make sense of something like this. I'm having trouble this time. I guess I'm thinking if I write it down and put it out there I will find some comfort. The man who was updating this woman's condition on a forum wrote the following - We honor best not with flowers and cards and well-used expressions of sympathy but by imitating and emulating the worthy life of another. You could do far worse than to follow the admonishment to go and try to be like Dorothy. Be "Dorothy-Strong!"

Live life to it's fullest. Respect and love one another. There is no guarantee that tomorrow will come so live with no regrets. I've been hugging and kissing my children and Scott a little tighter lately.

Monday, October 29, 2007


DNF - I got my first one yesterday. I signed up for the Grand Rapids Marathon with Caroline. She wanted to try to qualify for Boston after Chicago turned out to be such a disappointment. So 3 weeks ago we signed up.

When I woke up Saturday morning I felt like I had a cold. You know when your nose feels about 2 or 3 pounds heavier than normal. Scott had to work in the a.m. so we ended up getting on the road late Saturday afternoon. Made it up there by 4:45 p.m. Just in time to pick up our packets and get to the pasta dinner. Loaded up on the carbs. Didn't have a problem choking down the bread stick that was coated with an unidentifiable glisten. It was bread, that was all I needed to know. Caroline and Mary on the other hand didn't seem to care for it. Maybe my full head kept me from tasting what ever was covering it. On the way back to the hotel my throat was burning. Thought I may be having an allergic reaction to something I ate, so took my allergy medicine early. I also took an Advil before getting into bed. I was feeling spent and was in bed early. Everyone else was mulling around but I was asleep by 8:30 (which makes me laugh because that's 7:30 our time) I started to drool and it woke me up. I hadn't been sleeping for long, I don't think. Our room was empty, everyone left. The TV was on tho, "Rev DMC" I think that's his name. That's a pretty good show. Makes you laugh, makes you think. My throat was on fire now and I was having some trouble breathing. Puffed off my inhaler and took my Flovent (a preventative steroid) and got back into bed. Everyone was back before long and lights were out by 11.

Didn't sleep well. The throat, pre-race jitters, the weather. Was up at 5:30 and did 20 minutes of yoga. That always makes me feel good. Had some water, PBJ and a banana. Was to the race site by 7:30. Caroline waited for the pap and I checked our stuff. It was cold! Got to the start and literally began to run. With .25 miles behind us I was saying how good I felt. Our running strategy was simple - 1:55 halves. The throat was bothering me at 3 miles so I popped a cough drop. By mile 6 I was having trouble breathing - so pulled out the inhaler (woofer as Scott calls it) and took a puff. Very, very rarely do I ever need to use it. Sometimes I'll take it just before a race but hardly ever when I run. I did get some relief after I took it but about a half mile later my throat and chest were burning and my chest was tightening. I knew it was to soon to use the woofer again so I tried coughing a little and walked and drank at the next water stop. It helped. We didn't lose a lot of time so that was good. Off we went. I started to feel short of breath again tho. It was coming in waves. I would speed up and then slow it down. Soon I found myself taking another puff. Asthma is funny. Negative thoughts and panic feed it. The longer you can stay calm the better you are going to feel. So I did my best at trying to stay calm.

The course was beautiful. Lots of trees, changing colored leaves. Not a lot of runners. The occasional pack and then a string of strays. This was a nice race. We passed mile 10 and I started to think I wasn't going to make it. Stay calm, stay positive I told myself. Caroline was saying she had to stop and use the pap, she was worried about time. I was told her how important it was to stay in the moment we were in right now. Don't think about anything but the step you are taking. We stopped at the next pap. I took out the inhaler and used it and stretched. I was breathing heavy and fast. We only lost 3 minutes with the stop. I knew we could make it up. Caroline then got away from me. I tried running to catch her but couldn't. Things started to look fuzzy, like I was in a tunnel. Crap. CRAP. I called to her. I was gasping. I had my hands on my bent knees. I was hunched over and someone asked me if they could help. I was saying no, shaking my head. I was trying to cough, to get the air moving but nothing was happening. Caroline was right by me. Mary ran by but I told her to keep going. There was no need to ruin her race too. Ugh. Every time I tried to straighten up my head would get fuzzy. My chest was burning. We were close to a medical point. This totally, totally SUCKS! What the hell is going on I thought. I had my inhaler in my hand but really it was useless. I would walk and stop and try to catch my breath. We got to the medical area. They told me take another hit off the inhaler. That would be like my 4th in an hour and a half. It's not working I told them but used it anyway. I sat and tried to catch my breath. It was hard to talk. SHIT! Is this really happening? My throat and chest were tight. After about 10 minutes I started to feel better and stood up but felt dizzy and short of breath. Again the throat felt tight. It was so weird because with asthma, it's my chest that's tight, I couldn't figure out the burning and tightness in my throat. It had to be the cold I thought and the running was making it worse. Well, if it wasn't the asthma I told myself then we could go on but go slow. We wouldn't reach our goal but we could finish. I didn't want a DNF. And honestly, that was all I was thinking about. Ok, let's walk, I told Caroline. "Oh, we can't let you go" the volunteers said to me. SHIT, SHIT, SHIT!!! It was over. Damn it. I sat again. I really couldn't breath. Why wasn't the inhaler working. Why was my throat so sore and tight. I looked up and saw the mat for the 13.1 marker. I wanted to tell Caroline to go run across it. I told her to just go. Keep going but she wouldn't leave me. A short time later a car came by and 2 young men in orange jackets told me they would take me back to the finish line. The car was warm. We drove about 20 feet and it started to get really hard to breath. I heard a little wheeze coming out now. Now I started to panic. I need a steroid - I said it out loud. "What?" the man in the front passenger seat asked? I need a steroid I gasped. I know he said - we're gonna get it for you. Then I lost it. I started to cry. I know that was the worst thing I could have done but I couldn't keep it together. My chest and throat felt like the were being squeezed shut because I was crying. I grabbed Caroline's hand. I know I scared her. I told her I was panicking. She told me to yoga breath. I was trying but my nose was so stuffed up nothing was moving. I was afraid the crying was going to cause me to hyperventilate. Got to the finish line and to the medical tent. The cold air felt good. It was actually a little easier to breath. Paramedics were there and put a pulse ox meter on but could get it to work. They started a nebulizer treatment. They used albuterol and a steroid mixed together. After about 2 minutes of the treatment I was feeling better. I didn't feel like I was in a tunnel anymore. I wanted to ask them why the mixed the 2 meds - now the breathing treatment was going to take forever. Everyone was very nice, accept for this know it all in a white shirt and badge. He was bossing everyone around. I wanted to ask him to leave, his bad karma bringing everyone down. I obviously didn't. I had to sign a release that I refused to go to the hospital and assured them that I would call my doc on the way back home to get a steriod.

It was a long drive home. The last hour I got tired. I felt like a truck had hit me. I insisted on driving home. I talked with my doc and we both agreed the steriods weren't necessary but that if I felt like I needed them in the morning to call her and she would see me. Just before dropping Caroline off I told her I was going to stop at a doc in the box. My breathing felt fine but the throat was burning. I had to do something. She had her mom's b-day party to go to or I think she would have come with me. There was no one at the doc's office. I got right in. The nurse took a strep culture right away. Took my temp and it was normal which made me realize I was dehydrated because I felt like I was burning up. The doc came in and I told him about my day. He looked at me like I was making the whole thing up. I guess it does sound kind of crazy. I started to laugh, and shook my head. I told him I know this sounds crazy but my throat is killing me and I was worried about having something that needed attention. He checked the ears, nose, throat, glands. Yup, things were red, puffy, full of fluid but he said it looked viral and not bacterial. Then he started asking about the asthma and me running and how things felt. Then he said something that made so much sense I wanted to kiss. He said that he didn't think I had an asthma attack. He thought I had (still have) adult croupe. Gracie would get this when she was a baby and we would go back and forth, was it her asthma or croupe. He said by mile 6 my throat was so irritated by my breathing that it probably started to swell shut, the inhaler relieved it slightly, or I would slow down, then he started saying something about VO2 max blah blah blah, stopping blah, blah blah, the heat from the car, blah, blah, blah. And with each word I was feeling better. Cause while I was out there running, I kept thinking this doesn't feel like asthma but I can't breath so what else could it be. He gave me a sheet on adult croupe, told me to go home and rehydrate and eat then take some Advil for the pain and an antihistamine for the congestion. I smiled cause that's exactly what I had been doing. Then he told me that this could linger for a while to be patient and get a lot of rest. So, I left him feeling better not because the throat felt good but because I had an explanation of what happened that day. Something that made sense to me.

So, I now have a DNF. It stings a little saying it. Pain is temporary, quiting is forever. I had to. I really don't think it was smart to keep going. I'm reassuring my self here. I think I'm feeling this way because I let Caroline down. If I wasn't there she would have kept going. She's a good friend for staying behind. Especially when I panicked. So, today is already tomorrow and the race is now just another day in my past that I will have to learn from. Soon this "hit by a truck" feeling will leave my chest as will my "adult croupe". I have to ask myself if I will every run again when I have a cold. I know I will. I'll just have to tell myself to slow it down. Is that possible? :)

Monday, October 22, 2007

7 Cards, 10 Pins and a Whole Lot a Fun

Scott and I don't go out much and when we do it's just me and him. Usually a movie and maybe dinner. We are always back home to tuck the kids in bed by 9:30. We've never been party people. Which is starting to work against me. I had the club over to my house a week ago and was freaking out because I literally didn't know what to do. I cleaned the bathrooms and swept the floors but I wasn't sure what to serve to eat or drink. Sounds unbelievable huh? Well, I thought I was doing a pretty good job winging it until a guest asked me for ice, and guess what, I didn't have any! Frozen water and I couldn't give it to her! Well, live and learn. My next party will have ice.

Last Friday we had plans to go out. Not just a movie but actually go out and talk to other people. It was card night to raise money for the football program my husband coaches for. I usually don't go to these things but I haven't seen much of Scott lately so I told him we should go. I warned him I didn't really know how to play cards but he assured me that wasn't a problem and we would have fun. So, I dropped the kids off at my moms. On my way home I practiced my poker face and thought about everything I had seen on ESPN's World Poker Tour. We got to the party and my heart was beating as if I had just finished some speed work. After we signed in Scott got a deck of cards and reviewed the rules. His boss was there so he helped with a couple of practice games. It was 8 o'clock and time to start. Fortunately there were only 10 of us playing and it didn't seem like anyone was going to take it to seriously. I got a bag of chips and cheat sheet indicating how much each chip was worth. We drew cards to see where we sat and then the games began. Well, I felt like I just finished my second set of speed drills. Practicing my poker face was a waste of time because nervous was the only face I was able to show. I messed up with betting, when to check, call or fold. My shuffling needs work as does my poker face. Like I said, I was glad no one was taking this seriously.


Before long things fell into place. I think I started to get the hang of it. I won a couple of hands. There was one point where I was holding the king and 8 of clubs, the ace, queen and 10 of clubs where on the table. I was to nervous to show the excitement. Yes, I did win that one. Before long the 2 tables were merged into one. I was feeling a little crowded and the mood of the game changed. Some of the guys were in it to win it. I had a 3 and a 4, the 5 and 7 were showing. I went all in. Another guy did the same, with pretty much the same hand. He end up winning cause he had a high card or something like that. I watched for the next hour. It was fun. Scott took 6th. His boss took 4th. We were home by midnight. My mom had the kids and we were able to enjoy a good night sleep that lasted until 8 a.m.!
Saturday night was spent trying to stay awake until 9:30. That's when Candle Light Bowl started. My girlfriend invited us about a month earlier to join her and a group of her friends. I was excited to see her. We usually meet for breakfast a couple of times a year so to see her away from the eggs and coffee would be a nice change. When Scott and I were dating, heck even before me and Scott, me and my girlfriend, Cin, would go to this bowling ally. I was afraid I was going to walk in and see the same smokey place, same tile floors and same bowling shoes. Well, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the owners did some nice updates to the place. There was a big sign when we walked in that stated smoking was no longer permitted - whoo hoo!!! And everything looked clean and new. Maybe not as new as I'm remembering, I'm usually sleeping by 9:30-but I have to say it was nice. The only thing that was the same was the music. They were playing 80's stuff and showing the video's. Every time they showed Micheal Jackson, Scott would ask - "Who's that?" Of course Scott's corny jokes always make me laugh.
I'm not going to kid myself or anyone reading this, when it comes to bowling I stink. Luckily Scott does too and fortunately that didn't interfere with us having fun. Cin and her husband and his family and their friends and neighbors made us feel like one of the group. Cin ended up winning 2 raffles and a couple of door prizes. I won tickets to a planetarium program at Harper College. Something different for me and the kids to do. We ate and drank and caught up on all the stuff going on and then talked about being there 20 years earlier. Time went by quickly. Scott and I were going for the perfect game #3. By the 5th frame we still hadn't knocked anything down. For those who have never been to candle light bowl, the 3rd game you have to do goofy stuff like throw the ball with your opposite hand or stand with your back to the pins and roll the ball between your legs. Well, our hand eye coordination needs some work because we were BAD. But it was all good. We made it home by 1:30 and I think Scott was sleeping by the time I got into bed.
Gotta say this. GO BEARS! What a game they gave us Sunday afternoon. Holy smokes that was a great ending.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The 50 Mile Question

While I was making dinner Sunday night I asked Scott -

Me - What would you say if I said I wanted to run a 50 mile race?

Scott - What, like one of those Ultramarathons?

Me - Yeah.

Scott - Well, I was worried about you passing out during the Ironman or messing all over yourself and then crawling across the finish line, like that woman we watched 20 years ago, but since that didn't happen I guess you can do what ever you put your mind to.

Me - So you wouldn't mind if I did one, say next spring?

Scott - Nope, knock your socks off.

Silence. Then in typical competative Scott mode

Scott - How long do think it would take you? Probably 10 hours huh!? Figure your worst marathon time and then double it ....

Monday, October 8, 2007

Marathon Madness

I was so excited to help with the Chicago marathon this year. I've wanted to pass out water since 1994 when I saw that the volunteers got cool looking jackets. Ok, that sounds a little self serving, I really did want to help and not just get a free jacket.

We got into the city by 5:45 a.m. Caroline was running so we dropped her off at the Hilton. She was nervous/excited the usual gambit of emotions just before starting a race. She kept teetering on her finish time. She was well prepared and had her nutrition and hydration plan in place (she wasn't running with water just Accelerade, she planned to get water on the course) but the heat was causing her to question her plans for a final time. That would be decided when she crossed the finish line. We agreed on a meeting place after the run, hugged each other good bye and Keri and I headed towards mile 10.5.

Had some trouble getting to the right EL train. The first station we went to didn't have the train arrive until 7:20 - an hour after we needed to be to our water station. So we walked a couple blocks to the subway and got on a train that took us about 3 blocks away from where we needed to be. I got us lost coming out of the train station but managed to get us to the aide captain just before 7. Keri and I signed the waiver, picked up our jackets and caps (bonus, a cap too!) and found a table to hang out at. Met a mother and daughter from the West side. Turned out the daughter went to school with Keri's boss's son (the world is so small). Realized for some reason our table was placed on the sidewalk and not the street so we recruited a bunch of high school boys to help us pick up the table, which was stacked 4 cups high with water and put it where it belonged. Keri and I walked down to Starbucks to get a caffeine pick me up before all the mayhem began. We could see the helicopters to the east of us following the lead runners. It was exciting. Then a man with a bull horn came by asking us to step away from the street. The wheel chair participants were coming thru. The pulse of their race was truly palpable. These men were flying! It was very inspiring to watch. For the next several minutes they would fly by in packs of 3 or 4. It was obvious they were in an unshakable zone that not even the heat could interrupt. Then the helicopters were over us. We knew the lead runners were coming. They came. They went. It's unbelievable how quickly they move. In the blink of an eye they were gone and now our race began. It started like a slow drip. Runners came in small groups. Occasionally the cup would leave my fingers. Then it became a steady stream. Keri and I started to keep track of who had more cups taken, I think I was winning. Then the stream turned into a rushing river. The runners just kept coming. Grabbing 2 cups of water at a time. Before we knew it the table was empty. Keri was putting cups out. I was pouring. Then I was putting cups out. Chaos was an understatement. Runners were grabbing empty cups from the table or they had their own bottles and we filled them. The next hour passed quickly. I was trying to fill cups and felt someone hugging me. I turned around and it was Caroline. I hugged her back and I could see she was fighting the tears. I heard her say she couldn't go on. My heart sank, it actually hurt for her. I took her by the shoulders and told her she could. She has run in weather like this so many times and today was no different than being out on the lakefront with me and the guys. She started shaking her head yes. I hugged her again. You can do this I told her. I know you can. She kept shaking her head yes but was saying this was the hardest thing she has ever done. Keri came up to her and hugged her and then I gave her one more. Just before leaving us I told her she was going to be ok. She gave me a glimpse of a smile and took off. I wanted to go with her. I didn't want to leave her alone out there. Not if the rest of the race was going to be as chaotic as mile 10.5. I prayed she would be ok.

The water station was now completely out of water. I walked down to the palates that were once full of cases of water and they were empty. Keri and I said this would happen but seeing it happen left me feeling desperate. I grabbed a stack of cups from an empty table. I didn't want anyone putting empty cups out and frustrating the runners. Another volunteer was walking by talking to himself saying he couldn't believe there was no water left. A runner yelled to me that the gatorade station was out of cups so I ran down there. They were actually out of gatorade, they had plenty of cups and thirsty, sweaty runners. I couldn't just stand there. There had to be something I could do. I thought of running down to Walgreens, about a block away and buying what ever water I could. Then I saw 2 volunteers coming out of O'Briens. They were carrying water pitcher. I grabbed an empty gallon gatorade bottle from a table and ran into the restaurant. I don't know if it was the owner or the manager directing his staff and some volunteers but he was getting us water. He filled my bottle and a pitcher for me. I was back to the street filling cups and runners bottles. Within 30 seconds I was back in the restaurant. He was now filling buckets and 10 gallon gatorade dispensors. While waiting for my containers my phone rang. It was Keri, I told her I was in O'Brien's getting water to come down here and by the time I got back outside she was there with the young girl from the West side that we had met earlier in the morning. An older woman who could barely speak english was asking me something. She was a runner and I thought she wanted water. After several attempts she got the word GATORADE out. I couldn't even answer her. I couldn't tell her we didn't have any. I shook my head no and gave her water. She slowly walked away from me. UGH!!! This SUCKS I thought. Runners were thanking us. They were all walking now. No one was running. No one was smiling. Most of them were very quiet. This was the back of the pack. I kept going into O'Briens and refilling. I came out to Dennis and his buddy Hector. This was Hector's first marathon. Dennis told us that this was the 1st aide station that had water. Thanks to O'Briens that is. I high fived Hector and hugged Dennis. Told them to be careful and have fun. They were off. The sun was shining in full force now. It was hot. Volunteers were raking up cups into piles. I was looking around and it didn't look anything like it did at 7:00 a.m. when we got there. It looked like 35,000 hot, desperate, thirsty runners made there way thru a very narrow space in the matter of 120 minutes . I gave the last of the water I had in my gatorade container and Keri and I walked away. I was emotionally spent. I felt for every person on that street. The volunteers, the runners, the business owners, the spectators. Most of us were quiet. All you could really hear was the rake mashing the cups and concrete. Keri and I were talking softly, like if we talked loud we would disrupt the chaotic mess that surrounded us. As we walked we saw runners sitting on the curb. Some were laying on the side walk. We actually saw one guy lying on the side walk and it looked like 2 police officers were attempting to start and IV on him. I have never seen anything like it. This was supposed to be a fun experience. It wasn't fun.
Caroline finished!!! Unfortunately we didn't see her come up Michigan avenue. It may have been the police cars cruising up and down the streets telling the runners to walk that caused us not to see her. Or maybe it was the firetruck parking its engine right next to us and then turning its hose on the runners. Or it could have been the countless ambulances screaming to the north and south of us taking away yet another distressed runner. I wished I could have seen her. Been there for her. She described her finish to us on the way home. She said that she saw the sign for Roosevelt road and she said to cry. Not the gasping, choke just tears. Keri asked if it was because she did it, and Caroline said no it was because it was finally over.
Congratulations to everyone who participated. You proved that the human spirit is alive and well. When the going gets tough, we do take care of each other. Life is as good as we make it for each other.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Me and the Blue Squid

We got out the door with time to spare. When the weather is nice we love to walk to school and it was beautiful on Wednesday morning. We usually play games on our way pretending we are dinosaurs and have to run from the cars so they don't catch us. Other days we play red light green light. This is usually played on the way home because it can take a long time, especially when you are 4.

Wednesday, Zak kept stopping and then catching up to us and then stopping again. Finally I asked what he was doing. "I keep dropping the blue squid mom" he said. Ugh I thought. You see it's against the school rules to take toys into class which meant the squid would stay with me. I was planning on running 6 miles Wednesday. Alone. Me and my music. Now it would be me, my music and the blue plastic toy. We got to school and Zak showed his classmates the new toy and then reluctantly handed him over to me. I promised him he would be waiting for him as soon as he got out of class. He kissed both of us good bye and joined his schoolmates.

Running with the blue toy wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. It could have been worse. I could have but stuck with a "Optimus Prime" the transformer or "Heatblast" the guy from Ben Ten. These guys are big. I was laughing at the thought of me running up the street with one of these dolls clenched in my hand. Swinging back and forth. Luckily this little thing was small and I actually got used to running with him. By the time I finished I almost forgot I had him with me.

I did some yoga. Showered and even folded some laundry before I headed back to pick up the kids. Forgot to take the little blue guy with. Was worried about explaining to Zak that he's at home waiting and not with me but Zak could have cared less. After 2 hours of class time his attention was focused on something else now and the squid was just another toy. I'm gonna have to keep an eye on him when leaving the house. Like I said, I don't want to be running down the street with Spiderman or some other action figure!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

So What's Next?

Well the past couple of weeks have been filled with trying to get the Erickson household back to normal. Our normal anyway.:) I cleaned out the refrigerator. I could have produced enough penicillin to keep Zak and Gracie's preschool class ear infection free for a year. I then tackled the piles of laundry that built up, even though I thought I stayed on top of it. On Thursday I found myself scrubbing the bathrooms. Stop making a face, I cleaned them but not every corner. This week I will scour the front room and kitchen floors and maybe even get to the windows.

What next? I keep asking myself. Friends and family have been asking the same. I'm a little disappointed that I didn't sign up for the Chicago marathon. I've been feeling really good and think I could definitely qualify for Boston again. But then what? Would I go to Boston in the spring? Yes, I mean no, I mean .... well, what, what do I mean. I have had the good fortune of being able to live out 2 of the goals that I set for myself. Both in the same year, within 6 months of one another. How do I top that? By trying to put a happy ending on the one that I didn't like the ending to? In retrospect it would almost spoil the experience I had there. As bad as I felt initially, looking back, I learned a lot about myself and moving forward. The months following Boston I was able to rediscover the love I have for just doing what I love to do and not making it anymore than that.

I think right now I need to sit back and relax. It's time to slow it down for a little while anyway. Hey, the Cubbies might make it into the playoffs and the Bears might actually prove themselves as a team to be reckoned with. Dennis is talking about Ultra marathons and adventure races and Gil, Scott and Mike are talking about 1/2 IM's in June. The club is in need of some serious attention and my family needs, well actually, I need some serious family time. So for right now I'm doing NOTHING. Well, I'm doing some things but not trying to achiev any life long goals, not for a while anyway.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Race With Your Heart

"Race with your heart not your watch" - Doug Johnston May 2007

That's what I did. It was a perfect week-end. The weather, the friends and family, the atmosphere. All of it. It was one of the most magical experiences of my life. A feeling that has come probably 5 times - getting married, finding out I was pregnant and having the twins, qualifying for Boston, and then Sunday completing the Ironman Wisconsin. There are no words that can express the love and support I felt during the entire Ironman journey. My life truly is good.

Tom, me, Mike, Dennis, Gil and Doug after Friday night's pasta dinner

"Hey Pam, nice rack" - Thanks Gil, be quiet Doug

Room with a view. Lake Monona from my hotel window, Saturday morning.

Crew and family having coffee Saturday afternoon. You can see Scott (white cap with blue stripe) telling Doug to think positive.

That's Brian in the blue shirt holding his coffee and his lovely wife. Yes, any one familar with "Run Bubba Run" - that's Bubba - we're lucky to have him on the HumanRacer team :)

The 07 Moo Crew
Gil, Doug, Brian, Tom, Mike, Dennis, me, Herb and Scott

Holy crap - why didn't anyone tell me how short my shorts were?!

My family after the finish -

Matt, my mom, my sister Patty, me, Keri, Nick and the incredible Sam - The hubby took Zak and Grace upstairs - they were literally falling asleep on the sidewalk :)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Run - The Final Chapter

I made my way, the best I could, into T2. I was hobbling, trying to get my legs to form some kind of stride. Heck, I would have settled for a trot but the legs just weren't working that way. I almost found myself in mens transition but a volunteer with a pink mohawk guided me in the right direction. The room was empty with the exception of some pretty tired looking women. It was very quiet. First thing I did was take off my shoes and socks. Then I found a power bar and started eating. I was changing and eating. I took everything off, I didn't want anything wet on me. The sun was setting and it was already cool. The last thing I needed was to spend energy trying to stay warm. Put baby powder on my feet and laced up my shoes. I felt like I was moving in slow motion. Finished the power bar and grabbed a cup of water from a table near the out door. A volunteer met me there and took my bike to run bag while I fumbled to take a Tylenol. Once outside I saw my mom, Keri and Patty still cheering as I balked at going in the 1st p.a.p., the next one was usable so in I went. They were right in front of me when I came out. Well in front and above me. We talked as I tucked my gel away and found a spot for my inhaler. I said my good byes with a big smile and I was off.

Ok I told myself. You have 2 ways to do this. Mile by mile or hour by hour. I know I have said all along to "race with your heart not your watch" but I wasn't going to race. I just wanted to finish and at that moment, in my mind, counting the hours down sounded like a lot less than miles. Then I remembered what last years IMOO 3rd place women's finisher (25-29 a/g) told me. "Walk or slowly jog your first 2 or 3 miles. Don't run. You'll catch everyone who passes you and many more if you just start out slow." They were hard words to live by but I did. I was able to trot now, I wanted to run. But I didn't I jogged and was passed by more than a few people. Take it in I told myself. Look around you. Madison is a great city. It's a lot like Chicago's Lincoln Park. With the tree lined streets, restaurants and bars, shops and small offices. It's very clean. I was able to watch the female winner run towards the finish. "You rock" I yelled to her. She was smiling and looked so strong. Before I knew it my runners legs took over. I think I jogged about 2 miles but now my legs told my mind that the warm up was over. Keep your turn over short I was telling myself. Keri told me this several years back and it's been very helpful in keeping me focused when I run long distances. I could feel the wind in my face. I was smiling. It felt so good. Everything felt right. This was what I wanted to feel in Boston. But didn't until the very end. Today was the Ironman and after swimming 2.4 miles and riding 112, I embraced this wonderful feeling with open arms. Slow and steady I was telling myself, it's still early. I kept hearing my name called out. You look good Pam, Nice smile Pam - keep smiling. I would see the mile markers and fight the urge to look at my watch. I was wondering were the Moo crew was. Would I see anyone? The crowds were great but I really wanted to see a familiar face.

I felt my pace picking up. I was passing people now. Thankfully the queasy stomach I had on the bike was gone. Started to feel a stitch and did the breathing exercise where you push the stomach out when you breath in and then pull it in when you breath out (I think that's the order) and within a couple of breaths it was gone. Ran thru the U W football stadium. It seemed so small. On TV it looks larger than life and appears to just go on and on but running down the sidelines, everything looked miniature. The seats, the end zone, all of it was just .... tiny. As I was making my way onto the school campus I saw Scott. I let out a squeal or maybe it was a scream. I was so happy to see him. I called out to him. "You look great Scott". He smiled and waved. Not less than 200 yards later I see Dennis. His head was down and he was in a zone that I have never seen him in before. He was moving quick and steady. "Hey, Dennnnniiiisss. " I said low and loud. He gave a wave of acknowledgement but never took his eyes off the path. I have to say this, for a second, maybe it was 2 seconds I thought about chasing him. But was reminded by what he told me "stay with your plan". My plan wasn't to chase anyone. My plan was slow and steady. Shortly after seeing Dennis, probably 500 yards shortly, I saw a pack of runners. 3 or 4 people just running together. Laughing. Talking. This isn't something you see while running in the Ironman. Who was right in the thick of that conversation, GIL! It was just like Gil. GILLLLLL! , I yelled. He kind of turned as if he recognized that someone just shouted his name but kept running at his pace. And just like that, I saw Mike. He was looking a little tired but moving. "You look strong Mike", I yelled and pointed to him. He just shook his head. "Oh no", I said, "you rock, you look GREAT!" And then my moo crew mates were gone. I felt very alone at this point. An unwelcome feeling for sure. One I wanted to shake. I turned the corner and was met by a hill. What?! Who put this here I thought. People were walking up it. There was no way I could walk. If I started to walk I wouldn't start running again. Ok, head down, hills build character I told myself. Half way up I saw a sign, something about blood staining the pavement. UGH! Don't look at anymore signs. Just keep going. I kept thinking about heart break hill in Boston. I read so much about it and when I got there, well, it didn't seem like much. Why hadn't I heard about this hill. Then I did remembered Michelle saying something about 2 hills and it dawned on me this must be it. I finally reached the top and started to feel the miles that I had just completed. You're ok I told myself. Keep going. An aid station is coming soon, just keep going. I saw the 6th mile marker. I was surprised to see it because I don't remember seeing mile 5. I was so happy I said out loud to an older couple sitting next to it, "I can't believe it's mile 6, there it is." They found my comments pretty funny. And now I could check my watch. "Don't be disappointed I told myself, and if things are slower than what you want, DON'T SPEED UP. You're feeling to good right now. I looked, an hour 4 minutes had passed. I was thrilled! It was exactly what I wanted to see. The tiredness I had felt earlier was now just a bad memory. I was feeling good again. I reached the aide station and grabbed water 1st and then saw the cookies. Wonderful, store bought, hard and crumbly cookies. They were a sight for my sore eyes. Keep in mind, in the past 10 hours I had eaten a ham sandwich, pretzels, 2 1/2 power bars and more power gel than any one person should have to endure. But now I had a chance to eat a cookie. And I had my choice. Chocolate chip, sugar, oatmeal and some other unidentifiable kind. Normally I would know that they all tasted the same, hard and no taste at all but in this moment they looked warm and homemade. I grabbed the oatmeal looking one. It was hard and crunchy but tasted sweet and delicious. It was small but I was able to make it last 3 or 4 bites. I washed it down with gatorade and a sip of water. Uh, I don't think I'll ever forget that cookie. It was ssssoooo good. I heard my name on a loud speaker which made me think this was an important turning point. Probably the 10k marker. I then looked up and saw Michelle, Laura and Sheila yelling and cheering. "You guys are the best." I yelled at them. A couple of blocks before passing the capitol I heard Craig yelling. He had a choir of what I think were frat boys yelling with him. I looked up and saw him but as soon as I heard the chorus of voices my head immediately dropped down. I was laughing as I made my way by all the hollering. As I approached the turn around, 13.1 mile mark, some of the runners were actually completing their Ironman journey. I thought this would be tough for me to see the finish, but it wasn't. I felt good and was ready to tackle then next 2 hours + and become an Ironman.

Just after the turn around was runners special needs. I got my bag and dropped off the gel I was carrying and my sharkies. I felt good with the nutrition I was getting on the course and didn't want to carry any extras. I grabbed my long sleeved t-shirt and thanked the volunteer. I was off. How was I feeling so good? It had to be all the water and gel I took on the bike. I couldn't stop smiling now. I got a taste of the finish and knew I was going to make it. Saw Brian as I headed back to the campus. He was finishing up mile 10. He gave me a wave. Got to U W stadium again and the only thing hurting was my face. I tried to stop smiling but I couldn't. I was truly enjoying every step of this run. Don't get cocky I was telling myself, it's not over but with each step that I took I knew I was that much closer to my dream. Just after mile 16 my phone rang. It was Deb's. I missed picking up her call but called her right back. "Hey - I'm at mile 16 and can't stop smiling, my mouth hurts" I told her breathlessly. "You're at mile 16? Really! I was thinking you needed me, you don't need me." She said with excitement. "Call me in the morning. I'm watching on line - Love you." I said "I love you too best friend". Put the phone away. On my way back onto campus I saw Mike walking at an aid station. "I'm right behind you Mike. I don't want to startle you" I said. He told me his stomach was bothering him. We walked together thru the station. He took in some pretzels. I took water and gatorade. No cookies here. Bummer. Saw Doug on our way out. He was heading in the other direction. "Are you guys on lap one or two?" he yelled. Mike yelled 2 while I held up 2 fingers. It was good seeing Doug. The only members I had not seen were Herb and Tom. I saw Dennis 1st on the 2nd loop, then Scott but no Gil. Mike was behind me now, but not far behind. I ran the hill and said my goodbyes. The second time didn't get any easier. Got to the aid station and told the cookie lady I would pick one up on the way back. Made the turn around and saw Michelle, Laura and Sheila. They were still there. I was moving quickly now. Michelle was screaming "You're gonna be an Ironman"! I was shaking my head yes! I high fived all of them. I think I started floating at that point. I picked up a cookie, gatorade and water after leaving the girls. The cookies were still tasting good. It was dark now. I was running next to water and was pretty much by myself. I was passing the occasional runner who was now walking. I'm glad I could run at this point. It was dark and the lights they set up cast eary shadows along the path. I stopped to use the pap. And skipped walking the next aid station because of that stop. I was still smiling. I reached mile 24. I drank and ate and then called Scott. No answer. Called Keri. "I'm at mile 24" I said. "I'm keeping about a 10 minute pace. I'm coming in!" "Ok, we're right where we said we would be." Keri said. "Please tell Scott, I called him but he didn't answer." I said. "I will just go!" And I did.

I just went. Every step felt effortless. I could no longer feel my mouth, I think the smile was frozen on my face. I could hear the announcer and the cheers at the finish. I'm doing this I thought. I can't believe this is happening. I was told to take this part slow. I was going as slow as I could but was running. I could feel myself moving quickly but I could see the crowd and the capitol and park so clearly, like when you are riding in a car. I saw my sister and heard her tell Sam it was time to run. Sammy grabbed my arm and said "you're doing it aunt Pam, you're gonna be an ironman, no an ironwoman!" he said with a huge smile. I said come on Sam, let's cross together. We ran and as we turned the corner I saw my tri-mates for the last time. I saw each of their faces smiling, they were screaming GO!!! I let out a joyful scream and high fived all of them. I could hear all the people cheering. And then, in an instant it was quiet. And I heard the words I had wondered if I would ever hear, the words that Dennis, Gil, Doug and Scott I. typed to me just one year earlier to get me to do the race. "First time Ironman participant Pam Erickson from Frankfort, IL. Pam YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Bike - Final Chapter

One mile at a time. One mile at a time I kept telling myself. The weather was perfect for a long ride. The sun was shining with some clouds in the sky. It was cool. What a contrast from last year, rain, wind just yuck. And then the year before that, heat, humidity, no clouds just sun. We hit the weather jackpot. Just take your time I told myself. I was being passed constantly. Some were flying by others were slow and steady. Don't let that get in your head I told myself. It was probably mile 3 when I saw this bee coming right for me. THUMP. Put my fingers in the vent of my helmet to swish it out and was stung. AWE! I screamed. "AWE, AWE, HEY, AWE". I kept repeating it. I looked and the little sh!t got me on the inside of my middle finger, left hand. Crap it hurt. #81 rode by me, "Hey are you ok?" "Yeah, I just got stung by a bee" I said. "Are you allergic" he asked. "No just pissed" I answered. 2 miles went by and I was still feeling the burn and throb from the sting and saw something out of the corner of my left eye. It was a red and black flash. Then I saw an arm waving low. It was Dennis. He was riding smooth and fast. I started to wonder if I would see anyone else. Got to Firemans Park and took a gel and water. Was happy with how my nutrition was going. The next 10 mile felt great. I was passing the occasional rider who slowed down to eat or had trouble on a hill. Was getting ready to pass a girl when a ride Marshall came behind me and told me, "Pam you have 20 seconds to get by her." I was shocked. Couldn't he see I was passing her and that I was OBVIOUSLY obeying all the rules. And how did he know my name? It's funny, how you become defensive when you're concentrating and are suddenly interrupted. I was shaking my head yes at him and he watched as I passed and got a good distance in front of her. He then gave me the thumbs up and a big smile. I reminded myself that I wasn't on my typical Sunday ride, this was the Ironman and I needed to be aware of my entire surroundings not just me, my bike, my nutrition, but everyone and everything. Then I remembered I had my number with my first name on it on my back. Daaa, that's how he knew my name!

I began to ride with O'Callahan. A very thin, tall man. He would jockey ahead of me and then vice versa. We got to the climb in Mt. Horeb and I told him I had to get by and get up that hill. He yelled for me to "Go get it"! And that's exactly what I did. I grabbed water at the aid station by Mt. Horeb High School (while still on my bike, with a firm hand!) And he rode past me - "Hey, nice climb Pam!" We stuck together for a while. Commenting back and forth, encouraging each other with each hill that came. I lost him just after the rollers. Then right before the dreaded twisting climb, he passed me. "You look great Pam - way to tackle it!" I was taking in some gel at that point and wanted to conserve for what was about to come. So I let him go. That was the last time I saw him. The ride was going so smooth. It made me a little nervous it was so good. I knew I still had a couple of challenging hills left and then, I had to do it all over again. The trees were starting to cover the street now and I began to see more people. I could hear someone thumping a drum. A monotone, Tum, Tum, Tum, Tum. A perfect rhythm. And the twisting climb began. Seat back, toes forward, stay in the moment, I repeated these things. Tum, tum. I heared a spectator yelling - "Let's go people, ride those bikes like you just stole them!" I cracked a smile, that was funny because I always think no one would steel my bike, except for maybe me. Tum, tum, tum. The beat continued. People were cheering. "Go Met Life." Tum, Tum, Tum. I saw the woman who was beating the drum now. I was looking for the devil but never saw him. I was glad cause he freaked me out. I started moving my head to the beat of the drum. Tum, tum, tum, tum. The ride Marshall rode by, it was my ride Marshall, the one who called me by name. He was smiling. It was pretty comforting seeing that. Kind of like seeing your mom when you're a little kid. Knowing she's out there looking out for you. Tum, tum, tum and then my legs felt relief. The climb was over. Ahhh. I was shocked at how many people were at this point. Lots of cheering and yelling. It lasted over the next several miles, to the point of the next hard climb. I actually liked this part of the ride. I knew that after this point the only hard part left was "Possium hill" and shortly after that I would start the entire 40 mile ride over again.

Just before entering Verona I choked up. I'm doing this I thought. The emotion came from the fact that I don't consider myself a very strong cyclist. I'm a runner. Not a rider. But today I'm proving to myself that I am a cyclist. That I can do this. Kickstand and all. I saw a huge group of trimates cheering at the school in Verona. Michelle, Laura, Sheila, Kath and her family. I think there were more. They were screaming and cheering, I had to hold my mouth for a second to keep my emotions in check. It was a great feeling and so good to see them. I was looking for my family. Where were they? Oh, there's a port-a-potty. Stop, stop now. A young boy came to grab my bike. "No need" I said, "I have a kickstand". "Oh", he said with disappointment, "can I hold it anyway?" "Sure" I told him with a smile and handed him my bike. It was a quick stop, time well spent :) Got on the bike and took off. Hey, where are they. Did I miss them. I was heading back to Fireman's Park now. The second loop was starting but I never saw my family. Yikes, did something happen. I saw an ambulance leaving the cheering section by the school. Did Zak run out and get hit by a bike. My mind was racing and my legs were almost to a stand still. I decided before anymore tragic thoughts came to mind I had to call Scott. Got off the bike. Was asked by some spectators if everything was ok and I told them yes that I had to call my family and make sure they were ok because I didn't see them. Most of you may be rolling your eyes right now but my mind wasn't clearing, I kept thinking the worst, in order to stop the negative thoughts I had to call. Scott answered his phone.

"Hey, you better be riding and calling" he said.

"Where are you? Did I miss you?" I asked.

"No he said, we're on our way right now, see you on the second loop. You're riding right? I hope you didn't stop."

"I gotta go" I said. "See you in a couple of hours."

I was angry. Why weren't they there? Then the mother in me kicked in. The kids are 4, when at home it takes me forever to get them out the door, throw in new surroundings and a pool. Then add gramma and the cousins and there was my answer. This wasn't just a long day for me, this was a long day for everyone. With that I took a sip of water. Well, tried to. There was no water left in my cup. Grabbed my bottle. Empty. I started to panic. How could I let this happen? Stay calm I thought. But I wasn't, I was panicking. The panic caused my heart to race and soon my legs were feeling fatigued. I passed special needs. I knew water was about 5 miles away. I would stop and fill up. Literally stop. I would fill the cup and the bottle and then every water/aid station I would take a bottle and fill the cup, no matter how much water was in there, I would top it off. My thoughts were completely focused on how thirsty I was. I would occasionally try to suck the very last of any water that was left in the cup. I sounded like the annoying 8 year old at the movie theater making sure he got every last bit of soda from his cup. Finally, I got to the water stop. Filled up and was irritated by the teenage volunteer who was handing me the water. After I thanked her for her time she said "Hope you make it to the finish - I'll look for you". I almost slapped her. Instead I said - "Oh you'll see me, if I have to crawl you'll see me." And then I thought, now get the F away from me because your negative energy is bringing me down! I rode off fast. THE NERVE! What's the matter with her. Stop the negative thoughts. My legs were tired. I knew this would happen. I knew the first loop was to good to be true. The weather started to get cooler and the clouds were covering the sun. "Great I thought, I knew it would rain." I have to shake this negativeness. I reached for a gel. There was only one left in my bra. I checked the back pocket, one left. UGH! What was I thinking. How could I miss calculate. I had a good 45 miles + left. It's ok I thought. The aid stations have gel. Stay calm. You're about 8 miles from Mt. Horeb. Stay focused. My ride Marshall drove by. I smiled and waved, trying to hide the panic I was feeling. This can't be falling apart now. What if there are no gels left at the aid station, then what. I'm out here pretty late. It's possible. What will I do? Ok, get positive. Stop this negative thinking. Just keep moving. At this point I prayed. I said the Lords prayer over and over. Before I knew it I made it to the Mt. Horeb aid station and was yelling, WATER and it was perfectly passed to me, I then started yelling - GEL, I NEED GEL. I focused on a woman who had one in her hand along with a power bar, she handed me both as I balanced the water bottle in my mouth. I was able to get the water in the cup and throw the empty bottle while still holding on to the bar and gel. I then sucked the bar right out of the wrapper. I could taste the salt in the bar I was sucking so hard. I stuffed the wrapper in my cup and did the gel. Yuck it was the new Espresso flavor, but I felt the caffeine immediately. It was a strange comfort. Within 2 miles I started feeling good again. My mind was making its way thru the negative haze. I was worried about where I was on the course tho. I thought I lost time and that I was going to be close to the bike cut off time of 5:30. I couldn't even tell you what time it was at this point but the negative energy was still with me. And then I asked myself, "What made me think I wasn't exactly where I needed to be at this on the ride?" How could such a clear thought make its way thru such a cluttered mind still boggles me. But it did. Shortly after that I passed a mile marker and checked my watch. I did the math. I was happy with what I figured. I should be getting to T2 around 4:30. That was good. The negativity was slipping away. It felt like the caffeine and sodium from the gels that I was getting in large quantities from each aide station and taking every half hour was washing it away. Saw my ride Marshall for the last time with only about 22 miles left. He smiled and waved as if to wave good bye and good luck. I was wanted to yell thank you but just waved.

Headed into Verona and was excited because I knew I would see the family. There weren't many riders left at this point. Anabel was in front of me. A good distance in front. And a Marshall came by me and held up her hands, indicating that I was to close. This did annoy me. I was a good 3 1/2 bikes back, if not 4. I hit my brakes. The motorcycle pulled away. But the Marshall kept watching me. I was wondering if she thought I was going to flip her my bee sting. :) I didn't. At this point I just wanted to see Grace and Zak, Scott and Keri, my mom, Patty and everyone else. As soon as I turned towards the school I saw Scott and Sammy. And then a little further down I saw Gracie jumping up and down, screaming at the top of her lungs. Someone was holding Zak and he was waving, nonchalantly, just the way Zak does. Everyone was full of energy. I screamed back at them. And then they were gone. Ok, You're in the home stretch. I wanted to check my watch, instead I grabbed some cold water and used the pap again. "I'm back" I told the young kid who took my bike earlier. Getting out of the pap, my stomach felt queasy from all the gel. I told an older woman that my stomach was doing the wave and she suggested I take it easy riding in. She reminded me I still had a run ahead of me. "That was my plan, to take it easy." I told her. Those last 17 miles went by quickly. I told myself I was riding to Monee. Just and easy afternoon ride. And that's just what it felt like. Coming up the bike path, into Madison I could see the convention center. I choked up a little then. I had a fear of not being able to make it up the helix. I had no trouble. Keri, Patty and my mom were there waiting for me. I got off the bike and checked my watch. almost 4:00 p.m. Now I was smiling. I did it, in less time that I thought I would. I handed off my bike and did my best to quickly move to T2 for a change. It was time to change these biking legs back into runners legs.