No Matter What it Takes- A Very Long Tahoe Ironman Recap

“You may not remember the time you let me go first.
Or the time you dropped back to tell me it wasn’t that far to go.
Or the time you waited at the crossroads for me to catch up.
You may not remember any of those, but I do and this is what I have to say to you:
Today, no matter what it takes,
we ride home together.”
― Brian Andreas

Ironman Lake Tahoe recap begins 15 months ago, mid July 2012.  Patrick and I had become Ironmen at Wisconsin and Arizona in 2011 &  I was signed up and training for 2 more, in Oklahoma and Arizona that fall.  The day the announcement was made that Lake Tahoe was to be the location for an Ironman, an immediate text and phone flurry commenced among our IronFamily triathlete friends.  Raynee Toles also became an Ironman that year in Texas, and would be supporting her husband Chance in his first full at Redman that fall.  Shelley Coleman was going to finish her first Full at Redman that fall and her husband Tommy was about to sign up for his first full with the rest of us, supported by Shelley, in the already iconic just in pictures alone, Lake Tahoe Ironman.  3 Families, 5 adults racing, 6 kids who are all triathletes on the same youth tri team ages 7-11, an Iron Nana sherpa, an IronMom sherpa, and the Toles’ sis and bro in law.   One giant dream house booked in Squaw valley, a mile from the finish line would hold all 15 of us for the dream vacation and supreme athletic event.   We commenced calling ourselves the Tahoe Dream Team, and kept each other inspired and laughing on our FB group page.

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Tahoe Dream Team, May 2013
Patrick, Chance, Raynee, Corie, Shelley, Tommy

I won’t go into details of the training, but pretty much 6 days a week at the start of the year, we were doing something to get us closer to the finish line.  A little racing, some casual bricks, and bike rides together, lots of swimming together at the Y, and monthly family bbq to discuss “the plans”… the altitude, the mountains, etc etc.

Spring Break in Bend, OR, I ruptured a ligament in my thumb doing something I am not good at, skiing.  Surgery and cast pretty much derailed much of the swimming progress I had made, and took me out of some spring races, though I did manage one sprint in a cast, a great weekend the Tahoe Dream team traveled to together, so our kids could race one day and us the next.

Summer was spent training in Oklahoma heat, though it was a welcome break from past years, more rain and cooler.  Patrick and I had our only test late June at a 72.3 in Bend, the climbs at some altitude foreshadowed how hard Tahoe was going to be for sure!   My family also traveled to Colorado and got to ride at altitude and some climbing, not enough to call it training, but good for the experience and to know it could be done.  During this time, our dear yellow lab Donut was hit by a car, and our family devastated, with a huge hole of sadness and loss, miss her sweet face.

The days move on and Everyone of us was ready for the peak of our long training, ready for August, biggie month.  Ready for the challenge of it but also to be on the other side of it.  I remember doing a LONG swim next to Chance August 9, comforted to be swimming and swimming for an hour plus beside a friend who was facing the exact same training and race I was.

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The Team at Spin Your Wheels, August 2013
Chance, Raynee, Corie, Patrick, (friend Janna), Shelley and Tommy

August 10, changed the plan.  We all entered a charity 100 mile bike ride, Spin Your Wheels, it was great timing to have a supported training day with the Team together.  During the first 50 miles we were together in pieces on and off, Chance and Raynee ahead of us at the turn around, but they waited.  There we all managed to hook up – facing a strong headwind home, we took turns pulling the line.  We all most benefited when Chance, as strong cyclist was in front, letting us grab his wheel, As we approached the final 10 miles, the group splintered and Raynee and I got ahead a few miles, assuming all would be ok behind us (but always in the back of your mind it may not be)  We finished at noon, heard the noon sirens and got a call from Shelley, to please call back NOW.  Instantly you know it is not good, they were all still riding behind us and should not be calling.  The next 2 hours, were the hours we lost Chance.  He had been hit by a truck and boat trailer in the final 2 miles of the ride, just ahead of Tommy and Shelley, and then Patrick.  They and first responders tried to save him, and he made it to the hospital with Raynee by his side.  Truly no words can express what had just happened, what we saw and felt and heard.  He was without pain and free of this world within the hour.   Our strong 36 yr old friend and partner was gone in an instant, and we had our other friend left with her world upside down.

No bike ride was the same, in fact, worry and fear that it could happen to us is probably forever in our minds.  Another good friend was also hit in a training ride with us the year before, and was beyond lucky to survive a 65mph impact from behind. So we all have had it in our minds, a reason to be cautious and aware, and start more actively promoting awareness to drivers and cyclists alike.

No run was the same.  It is easy for me to cry on a run.  I cry for Raynee, her pain is something we cannot fix, and there is never going to be the right thing to say.  Her strength is beyond comprehension, as through her grief, she encouraged and cheered us on – wanting us to continue our Tahoe training.  We all muddled through, at times felt great, we are doing the right thing, Chance would want us to, and at times just wanting to not try, to feel the overwhelming loss completely.

We launched a fundraiser to fund Pasley’s education, and were just amazed at the generosity of the community and strangers.  The messages were so heartfelt and really helpful to all of us.  We started a foundation in memory of Chance, based on Chance’s easy willing way to help anyone he knew without question or thanks needed. It is called The Grab My Wheel Foundation.  We want to promote awareness, safety, help families affected by accidents on the road, and share the mantra of Grab My Wheel, help those who need it to get through a rough patch, as he did for us.

Focusing on this new mission gave us some excitement and eagerness to get to Tahoe, and share the story, but also to go ahead and finish the job we started.  We knew we would need Chance along the 140.6 miles, and we also had Raynee in our corner every second from afar, our champion, our pillar of beauty and Ironmom, a friend for all time.

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Chance makes every bike with us.

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The Colemans finished most of their training rides on trainers inside their house, we continued on our relatively safe roads, but tried to stick together, not venturing out alone.  Every time saying goodbye to the kids wondered, did I say it enough?  My running was sidelined, perhaps to give me time to focus on the Grab My Wheel foundation more in the final weeks.  I had 18 days of no running in September, some strange tendonitis type injury outside calf.  Focus was on getting my entire right side healthy, and a week before the race, I could run again, no pain.  With the way this summer had gone, while I always want to have a good enough race to qualify for the elusive Kona slot, I could honestly say, the chances of it this race, this time were dropping, not impossible, but not the primary purpose at all anymore.

We rallied and friends new and old were wearing Chance’s bib number that Ironman assigned, in tattoos on our faces arms and hands.  We shared tears with strangers we told the story to in Ironman village and cried with Ironman Athlete services as we collected the gear for Chance and Raynee.  But it was not like we were all sad, the sad deep emotion part will always be part of us, but the happy living part was just made so much more important.  We wanted to live and experience and love and try, and hurt and suffer and enjoy and celebrate.  That realization we have all started to come to the week of Tahoe. Surrounded by perfect air, perfect mountains and enormous trees and a lake that defies description, Chance wasn’t missing anything, he was THERE. everywhere.

So I know you are wanting some race info soon, I just felt I had to give some back story.  I know everyone has one, that’s what is so great about coming together at a pinnacle event Iike Ironman, every face you see has a story, some that will break your heart, some that are hysterical, some that are awe inspiring but all unique and the same, no journey was simple or easy.  It seems cliche to say the victory in Ironman is getting to the start, but it really is true.  Finishing an Ironman is icing.

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Twas the day before Ironman….

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Martis Camp, gorgeous, before we REALLY climbed.

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Waves, huge rolling swells day before race

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Cold little race bags tucked in for the night

The day before the race was cold.  Like really cold. and Rainy, and really rainy.  and WINDY. Big waves on the water. We stalled taking the bikes and bags to the Swim start, knowing it would all be in the rain for awhile.  Still, as we dropped everything with the crowds, there was an amazing energy.  So much unknown to come, More

Really believing…

“Get away from what is realistic and consider the seemingly impossible possiblities.  Stop asking what a good goal would be and start asking God what your most magnificent goal should and could be.”

Tommy Newberry

Do I think God believes my most magnificent goal should be qualifying for Kona?  No, but I do think it is one of the goals I should accomplish on the way to seeing the bigger goals He has in store for me that I have yet to be totally clear on.  I don’t think we have just ONE ultimate goal. More

Losing Track

What day is it?”
It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
My favorite day,” said Pooh.” 
A.A. Milne

Summer is a great time to lose track, to live in the moment, to be happy with the day, no picking favorites…

Today I was reminded of this as I got lost in my projects for the day, it just flew by.  The joy of working and completing and creating was not tarnished by a ticking clock or a wishing it was a better day or a Friday.

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Dad’s Day

“My father died many years ago, and yet when something special happens to me, I talk to him secretly not really knowing whether he hears, but it makes me feel better to half believe it.” — Natasha Josefowitz

Funny how on Father’s Day I immediately go about planning for my husband, for my kids’ Dad.  It always hits me later, every year, oh yeah, I have a dad, My dad is gone.  And has been for a long time.  It makes me really want my kids to understand how precious and wonderful it is to have a Dad around who not only provides for, but tickles, wrestles, scolds, mentors, snuggles, advises, shares all the special moments in time…

I didn’t lose my Dad as many do, later in adult life. More

The Forty Project.

The best years of a woman’s life – the ten years between 39 and 40. ~ Unknown Author

That quote seems true, sort of, if I look at all I crammed into the 39-40 year. It DOES seem like 10 years worth!  But I think surely it wasn’t THE best.  It was just the beginning of a momentum,  first swirling wide then twisting tighter and condensing into a specific purpose for each day.  There is something magical about turning 40. Defiant. Curious. Relaxed.  Hopeful and Relieved:-)

I’m creating my own Forty Project. More

The Triple T- aka Hardest Most Bestest Race weekend ever..


Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1:2-4

No posts for so long,  training and travel and new exciting learning opportunities have taken over the past few months.  Since last post, I got to run my first Boston Marathon. On one of their hottest ever race days, I embraced the experience as a fun, never know if I’ll be back, and who cares about the heat when you have done Ironman day. More

Feeling Lucky?!

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RunLucky for Leukemia!

Last Sunday I took my family to the 2nd Annual RunLucky 5K and MissionMile, in OKC.  My friends who work tirelessly for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society have truly created an amazing platinum style event that already feels legendary!  It was a great chance to dress up with the kids and husband and spend a Sunday afternoon with a few thousand fellow greenies:-)  It is going to be a Young Family Irish tradition More

That is the Question….

A new friend of mine, and fellow triathlete asked a question on one of our group pages and I thought I share it, as well as my answer to her and encourage any comments you have that she might also learn from for her new blog coming soon (which I will share when it is ready)

She wanted to know how different endurance athletes view their experience (why they do it, what they get out of it, etc). from Lindsay- after a heated debate with her significant other:-), “I’m definitely on the side of “enjoying the journey” while he’s solidly on the side of “the only goal is to win.” I’d love to hear from any endurance athletes on the topic: Is the journey the fundamental point, or is the end result the main reason you train so hard – and why?”

My Response- (edited a touch for clarity)

The journey is part of the daily fix I need to feel healthy and motivated and strong and on the path to a better me. More

Slow Dance- by David Weatherford

Have you ever watched kids
On a merry-go-round
 
Or listened to the rain
Slapping on the ground?
 
Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into
the fading night?
 
You better slow down
Don’t dance so fast.
 
Time is short.
The music won’t last.
 
Do you run through each day
On the fly?
 
When you ask: how are you?
Do you hear the reply?
 
When the day is done
do you lie in your bed
 
With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?
 
You better slow down
Don’t dance so fast.
 
Time is short.
The music won’t last.
 
Ever told your child,
We’ll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste,
Not see his sorrow?
 
Ever lost touch,
let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time
To call and say, “Hi”?
 
You better slow down
Don’t dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won’t last.
 
When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
 
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift thrown away.
 
Life is not a race.
Do take it slower.
 
Hear the music
Before the song is over.
 
Poignant poem, meant for me?  Love to race, and train for races, and now LOVING learning how to relish and savor the moments in between, be responsible and effective with my time to eliminate the blurry vision, rushing and randomness, finding the freedom to embrace my life!  YEEHAW:-)
 
 

Closing the Gap

THE GAP- the distance between where we are and where we want to be in our life.- Keith Kochner

I have GAPS in my life, most likely you do too.  One gap is wanting to have more blogging complete than I have. Not because my blogging is so useful to anyone really, or me, but I think it is one way I use to close the gap on fulfilling or clarifying a big purpose that I want to develop completely.  I have been stalling with my first blog of the year because More

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