Friday, May 24, 2013

Wildflower: Take 1



For years, the Wildflower Triathlon has been a race on my triathlon bucket list. In this year of transition, I finally had the opportunity to check it off the list since it is less than a 4 hour drive away from me. I’d heard the stories of how much fun this iconic race was, and looked forward to toeing the line at Wildflower, which was also my half ironman debut. Between the throngs of people and electric atmosphere to the challenging course, this race didn't disappoint.

The swim started out much more aggressive than I thought it would, and after a poor start where I got clobbered, I found myself having to go way to the outside and sprint to regain the position I wanted. A couple of girls had gapped me already, but I was able to settle in and work with 2 other girls throughout the rest of the swim. I exited with the girls in 4-6th place and was definitely psyched to have people cheering me on as I ran up the hill into transition.

One of the biggest surprises of the day came after I hopped on my bike and headed out of transition. Being a newbie, I had no idea the twists, turns, and hills that were awaiting me the first couple miles of the bike; it was the same feeling one might get reading a mystery novel and having no idea what was next. On one corner, there was a steep downhill with a sharp turn which I thought must be leading to more downhill, right? Wrong! Steep downhill quickly turned to steep uphill and me quickly figuring out the proper gearing. Ha whoops! Once I got out of the park and to the part that I’d driven the day before, I was able to settle into a groove. Since this was the longest race I’d competed in to date, I made to sure to be very conservative on the bike and not kill myself the first 30 miles. Once I hit mile 40 (Nasty grade hill) I was still feeling good, so I decided to kick it up a notch and really challenge myself on the hilly sections. I entered transition decently happy with my overly-conservative bike and how the race was going in general (despite being pretty far back in the pro field) and was excited for the run – always my favorite part of the tri. :)

Despite all of the challenging hills on the bike, my legs felt surprisingly good coming off the bike and I immediately tried to establish a high cadence in the first mile of the run. However, I also noticed that while my legs felt good, my body was starting to feel the effects of just how hot it was out there (mid 90's I believe by this point in the race). After a hilly mile 3 in which I thought I was still in good shape, I felt my gut start to cramp and I started to get chills. I slowed down quite a bit on miles 4 and 5, realizing my main goal here was just to finish this race and I was still less than halfway into the run. Mind over matter, I told myself. I’ve been in trouble in many other races and have been able to stick it out until the end. Only one other time in my 7-year long career have I had to DNF due to illness or injury. Unfortunately, this was a different situation. Right after mile 6, I began getting dizzy and weaving while I was walking. I started blacking out and apparently fainted. I’m not too sure what happened next, but I do know that an awesome group of guys from the aid station brought me a chair to rest and recover in along with lots of gatorade and water. I’d planned to keep going but wasn’t getting much better after 15 minutes so they called an ambulance for me and my day was done.

I was so so bummed not to get to finish this race after all the work I’d put in to get here and am still baffled as to why my body shut down on me after executing my nutrition plan perfectly. But, I know that I’ll be back racing here again. Despite the bad race, I can still say it was a fun weekend catching up with old friends and making new ones as well. Also,the hospitality of Tri California is second to none. If you’ve never done a TriCal race, I highly recommend it as the pros are treated like gold. There aren’t too many races I can think of where bottles of wine and chocolate chip cookies are raffled off to pros the day before the race.

I'm so thankful for all those who have helped me get to this point to be competing this year, especially my sponsor Sklar Exploration. I'm also grateful to my husband, Tony, for driving me to and from the race and taking good care of me throughout the weekend. Thanks to my readers for checking in on me-- next race is just around the corner in Dallas on June 1st. Here's hoping it's a little bit cooler than last year!!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

In Remembrance of Grandpa: An Everyday Hero



If you google Don Hahn, chances are, you will get search results for the famous Disney producer and not for my grandpa. Although, while he didn’t create any major motion pictures and probably wouldn’t be an overly googled figure, I considered him to be an everyday hero.

My grandpa was the type of person who made a point to really know everyone, learn their story, and find a way to connect with them and make them feel special. I can remember numerous occasions when I’d be out on grocery shopping trips with Grandpa, even only for a few items sometimes, and he would start chatting with a random stranger in the store, find a commonality (usually sports teams alliances), and before you knew it an hour had passed and the family back at the house wondered where we’d disappeared to. Grandpa taught me to really treat people well and be kind to them; this is something I try to do in my everyday life as well as sport. One thing that always excites me is to see people of all ages and backgrounds competing in triathlon, not knowing the obstacles or hardships they may have had to overcome to get to that race. I love hearing these stories and that is definitely one of the things I love about my profession: the way the human spirit is most always brought out in some way through triathlon.

Another love that Grandpa and I shared was the love of sport. Although he was a kind soul, he was a very competitive person when it came to golf, basketball, card games, you name it. He also created a family tournament for both the college bowl games and the basketball March Madness so he’d have more things to compete in (winner gets a plaque with their name on it!). From an outsider’s point of view, this tournament may have looked like a joke since even all the pets were allowed to have brackets, but those inside the family know just how competitive it can get :). Speaking of family, probably the greatest gift that Grandpa gave to my family was that he placed an importance on our family seeing each other multiple times a year, even if we lived thousands of miles away. I’ll always remember family vacations and holidays with my grandparents, parents, sister, aunts, uncles, and cousins as a magical time; something not all people can relate to.

In addition, Grandpa always supported me in whatever I did, from gymnastics when I was little to club swimming, and later triathlon. Good or bad race, he always let me know that he was proud of me. As he approached ninety, he wasn’t able to play golf as much as he wanted to, but still kept up a workout routine in the gym at his retirement home. To try and pique the interest in different sports of his fellow residents, he worked with the fitness coordinators at his retirement home to create the “Windsor Olympics.” He encouraged everyone to participate, and even created events such as the marshmallow toss to ensure the level of participation would be high. I recently learned that in his memory, his retirement community is naming those Olympics after him this year to honor his hard work in bringing this event into fruition. What a great way to honor such a special man.

When my grandpa passed on March 28th, I felt like I’d lost a grandpa, a fan, and most importantly, a friend. Although he hadn’t seen me race in person in about 5 years, Grandpa was always the first to check for results after my races and was eager to read my blog and see what I’d have to say. It’s been about a month since he’s been gone and when checking my website traffic the other day, I noticed I had a couple of visitors from an “unknown” location. I have no doubt that this means that while my grandpa is probably staying very busy in heaven, he is still finding time to check my blog as well… very sneaky Grandpa, I’m not surprised.

I can never repay my grandpa for the love and dedication he’s given to me, but as a small token of my appreciation, I’d like to dedicate my 2013 triathlon season to him. Good race or bad race, you can be sure I’ll be giving it my all. Praise be to God for giving me such an amazing grandpa and I can only hope that I’m able to share as much love with the world and have as much impact as he did.