Friday, December 30, 2011

Closing out 2011

It is definately true that times goes faster the older you get. Another year is just about over. I'm sad to see life move along so fast and yet, it's hard for me not to smile as I think back over the past year and what might be ahead for 2012. I refuse to think about my children's ages and what that means in terms of "years left" with them at home. I just can't go there. It makes me too sad.  I pull my hair out day after day but when push comes to shove, there is nothing on earth that makes me happier than time spent with my boys.  In the Triathlon/ racing world, 2011 might have been my best yet.  I feel so incredibly proud to say that. After all, I'm only 10 days away from turning 42.  I am on a mission to prove to myself that age doesn't matter. I know I know, eventually it does. And truthfully, I've been feeling a little creaky lately.  But..... 2011 was an awesome year for me in the world of racing and that's what I'll head into 2012 thinking about. 

Here are a few snapshots of different parts of our year.  Wouldn't it be cool to have a photo, just 1, from all 365 days? Maybe I'll do that some time.  Ha... not likely. But to somehow capture the Whole year...that would be cool.

 @ the Luau in Kona, Hawaii
 My race bib from the Charleston Marathon 1/15/11 - big PR day for me 3:10.  Now I can put the marathon up on a shelf for later...
 XC skiing with the kids. ( we Need some of this snow again!!)
 One of many fun ski days at Sunday River
 Lunch break on a ski day
 last day of school 2011 ( heading into 6th, 4th and 2nd)
 what is Up with my hair? it looks like I have a mullet
 We enjoyed  many sunset water ski runs at camp last summer
 The boys with my Dad at Wolf Neck on the 4th of July
 swimming at the Neck...
 Post- Mooseman Half Iron--
 Ange & Mary on the podium at Mooseman ( 1st and 3rd age group)

 post- long run cold water soak at wolf neck....the perfect recovery
 while the boys searched for sea creatures I enjoyed the view.. .heaven on earth

 Check out this sign-- Does it get any better? Not for me.  This was out on the Ironman Lake Placid run course. 
 Pre Ironman Lake Placid with Mary
 Deep into the day... reaching inward for whatever I needed to get to that finish
 my Hug
 skipping ahead! Post - Season night out with Mark and great friends!
 still digging in Lake Placid...up up up that hill one more time
 From my Neice Audrey :)
 Ahhhhhhhh..... I did it. Quite possibly the BEST finish line feeling of my entire life.  10:18 , 2nd overall. 

 Now I'm out of order... pre Jingle Bell 5K with the gang
 Island memories!!!


It's been a great year. Our family is all healthy and we're together most days.  I don't think  much else matters!!  I'm excited to head into 2012 for more fun and success for everyone. I hope!! That's my plan so I'll do my best to make it happen.
As I said, New Year's is not only the start of a new calendar year but a few days later I turn a new age. It always makes me stop and think about what I'm doing and if I am happy with how I am doing it.
Time for some goal setting and planning for what's next.
For now... I get a few more quiet unstructured days with my kids. Next week, I'm excited to be travelling south to Puerto Rico with my husband. A week alone with Mark? I honestly do not remember the last time we did this when a race wasn't involved.  It's not a full vacation. There's some business involved. However......  I think we're pretty lucky for this quiet getaway so we can step back and regroup for what's ahead. Life with 3 boys and 2 businesses is always hectic and always interesting. I'm going to use these days alone to take a deep breath and get ready to give them all I've got for the year ahead. 

Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I need some snow...or something

December 22nd....

I should be feeling all ho ho ho and jingle bells and searching for mistle toe. Instead, I'm feeling a bit wrathy. Is that a word? If not, I just made it my word. 

It's not really the typical everyone-feels-it Christmas stress. Though, I'm sure that is playing a roll. It's a culmination of things all piled into one and I thought surely I was going to crack this morning.  Let's see.....  one of my boys  is sick.  He's 10. That just makes me sad. It's Christmastime and there's fun to be had!!!  He missed the last day before vacation because of a high fever.  Poor baby. As a result, we cancelled a nice evening with our best friends ( a whole family) for fear of infecting them and overdoing it for Tommy. It was the right thing to do. But now, my table is covered in it's prettiest Christmas coverings, an 8 lb roast is waiting to be carved and wasted because it's far too big and my kids are all very sad.  Yesterday was my last day of the week to work and be productive.  I worked start to finish on Monday. Tuesday I had Christmas errands and a swim lesson. Wednesday was my day. I had a teeny tiny workout planned and oodles of time to get things Done before the kids have school vacation for 11 days and then I leave on a 6 day trip. Instead, at 10a.m. the texts from school started buzzing. Early dismissal. 11:30. Nooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!   ( possible ice storm...didn't really happen until around 4-5 p.m.... just sayin...but hey! They were in the school for 2.5 hours so that counts as a full day of learning! Huh? Really? and how is that best for our kids??  Don't get me started...remember, I'm wrathy.)
deep breath.
So....that was that.  All productivity and final Christmas shopping and secret planning and prepping ended as of 11:15 Wed morning. 
I try, but I am not a go with the flow kinda girl. So a mini panic attack ensued. 
You see, I plan. I have every hour planned out most weeks. This week, I had to toss it all away. and since it's Christmas week, and it's crunch time, this was not the week for losing 1.5 days you thought you had to be working!!!

You'd think as a mom of 3 I'd be better at spontaneity. Nope. It's just not me.

Perhaps it's my new role. I'm no longer a stay home mom. I"m a stay home mom that works from home. And, it's tough. Not only are my hours available to work completely unreliable ( read above paragraph) but many people seem to not count working from home as actually working.  Perhaps that's just my perception.

Early this morning, once the other two were off to school,  I was over it. I was enjoying my 1:1 time with Tommy even if the poor guy was sick. It's nice to be able to talk to my kids in peace once in a while. The Christmas trees are beautiful. We're all going to be together all weekend. I feel very lucky.

But more things keep surfacing around the perimeter that are ticking me off.  They are completely unrelated to Christmas. They are unrelated to family. They are situations that have been handled unprofessionally and with ulterior motives. And, it upsets me. I need to let it go. if I could, you know I would if I could I would, let it go.....

I love Christmas. I love everything about it. My children aren't greedy or asking for things that are too expensive or hard to find. They write nice letters to Santa and ask how the Reindeer are this year and if he's feeling good as he gets ready for the big night. We decorate the house with lights and wreaths and santas and nativity scenes. We sing songs and bake cookies.  But woah..............I Do feel the pressure to make sure I do all those things and continue to make nice memories for them! I have fear that I'll forget something that is a favorite of theirs or just run out of time.

I know I know....I put too much pressure on myself.
This shot of my guys goofing off in Hawaii......that's what it's all about. Those smiles. That's all I care about seeing for the next 3 days.  ( ok, longer that that but I'm going to focus on this holiday weekend right now.)

My mission is to LET GO all the other junk that's bothering me. Forget it all. Turn it all off.  By morning, Tommy will be ready to rock. Nobody else will be sick. We'll go caroling with the neighborhood parties, we'll wrap presents, eat that giant roast, make Santa's cookies, go to mass, and then welcome my awesome family here on Sunday! Truly, it is a wonderful sparkly time of year with great memories to be made. 

There....the thereapeutic write about it post let allows me to get all those abstracts problems off my chest, onto paper so I Can LET IT GO!

oh Hmm... here and there! I'm swimming a bit, running and biking too!! But it's still December and after a double Ironman season, I'm not overly stressed about any of that SBR stuff yet. But it's coming along and 2012 is going to be Fun!!!


Now....where IS that mistle toe???

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My quiet dark drive---

All of this started when I was eight. I joined a swim team. I loved it. I loved every single bit of it. So I lived it with all my soul until that final swim meet in college at the Unversity of Delaware. I still remember my last race. Then suddenly, it was over.

Years and years later, after college, after grad school, after I got married, and after I had 3 children, I wanted it back. I finally missed swimming. 

The only problem is I live in a town without a swimming pool. Not only is my town lacking a pool but all the surrounding towns are lacking a pool as well. I won't get started on that rant.  But, it is a sad and tragic ( maybe a strong word) fact for all the children in this region abundant with lakes that consistent swim lessons aren't available.

Moving on!

I made the decision to race Triathlons years ago ( another story) and that meant I needed to swim. How? How was I going to pull that one off?
My husband leaves for work at 7 a.m.
At that time, my boys were 2, 4, and 6. I was home with them all day long.
I thought and thought. I found a pool in a town 25 miles from here that opened at 5:20 a.m.
I can do it!
All I needed to do was set my alarm for 4:25, drive for 35 min, swim, leave there by 6:25 and I could make it home by 6:58!! perfect!

Did I say 4:25 a.m.?
Such a lovely hour. I hadn't seen that hour regularly since my babies were crying for me all night long.

Seven years have passed and I'm still doing it. Usually three times each week. 

Why? Because I want to swim. I want to swim fast. I want to swim faster than the people I'm racing. And, I love it.

The Worst part about the 4:25 alarm buzz, is the night before. When it's 9:45 p.m. and I just can't get myself to bed any earlier, it weighs on me. I pull my swim bag from the closet, throw in a towel, put my workout on the index card in a baggie and into the bag. I get out my water bottle, put the coffee cup on the counter and try not to think about it.
The alarm goes off and I think NO!!!!!!!!!!! Already????
Without thinking, I get up. My sweatshirt and sweatpants are at the foot of my bed.I put them on, kiss my husband goodbye and he always says, "be careful." And with that, I'm off.
After that first 60 seconds, the pain of it is gone.
I walk down the stairs, say Hi Kitties as they inevitably run by my feet, I go into the kitchen and turn on the lights. I pour the coffee that's hot and ready, grab my phone, swim bag and head down to the car. Sneakers on, coat on, coffee in hand and I'm outta there.
I turn the same station on the radio before I'm out of the driveway.
It no longer feels like 4:45 a.m. It feels like My quiet time!
I am alone on the roads.  The drive that is busy and slow during the daytime is 100% free and clear. The roads aren't lit except by my headlights. I hold my coffee, sip it slowly, listen to talk radio and think of nothing important.
It's a nice time of day to be honest. I'm ahead of everyone. I'm beating the rush.
By 5:22 I'm in my suit and on the deck. I admit, it takes me too too long to actually dive in. The 5 or 6 other ladies at the Y jump in Instantly. I don't know how they do it. I stand there. I stretch. I stretch more. I reread the workout. And finally, I tell myself, "you didn't get out of bed so early to Waste your time standing here!!" And I dive in. 
That's that.
As soon as I'm done I start rushing.  I rush to get dressed, to drive home, to say by to Mark, to say Hi to the kids, to make their lunchboxes, to clean the kitchen, brush their hair, make sure homework is in the bag, and so on....and it doesnt' stop until all 3 guys are tucked in their beds 13 hours later. 

And that's the silly little story of how I get myself to the pool all week!!!

that's me... back in the Cape pool as an 'old lady' at a Master's meet a few yrs ago.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Here comes Santa Claus

I have no idea how it happened. But guess what? Christmas is 3 weeks from Yesterday!??  It's true. Santa is coming very very soon and I quite sure, his elves aren't fully prepared.  It's time for them to get busy!!!!

So....where have I been? Hidden away behind my desk working like a little elf. 'Tis the season of preparation. I'm busy working away putting together thorough annual plans for the athletes I'm coaching right now. I love seeing the grand plan all laid out. However, moving through the calendar week by week just reinforces to me how fast time flies. Speaking of which, only 50 minutes until I pick up my 3 little boys. A few quick stories/ updates before I start the next part of my day...

Yesterday was a 1st for our family. All 5 of us ran a race together. The Jingle Bell 5K in Freeport, Maine and we had a blast! At least Mom and Dad did. We were super proud.  It was extra fun because my parents were there cheering us on along with my 8 yr old neice. My brother ran with one of his sons too. It was a great family day.  As I told a friend, my kids enjoyed it and did a great job but honestly, I think they mostly loved the free access to the post-race food for athletes. I can't tell you how many races I've crossed the line and been greated almost instantly with, "Mom! I'm hungry! Can I just get one of those cookies? " And so on... I admit. I sneak post-race food for my kids sometimes. I'm guilty. Not yesterday! They earned it!
Team Bancroft pre-race
Tommy (red shorts)& Cameron in black 10 steps back

ready to go...

post-race lunch at Grammie & Grampa's

Nick in the orange shorts w/Daddy in yellow...

The Small-Bancroft Team

I've decided my shirt is a bit too orange. I definately won't get shot by hunters on my training runs though!! 

awards--1st age group, 2nd overall
Jack finishing (in blue, bent forward in front of guy in white (my brother) with Nick and I cheering him on.

Tommy won 2nd age group with a 23:45

The race was a blast!  It was a beautiful day with sun and warmth.  I must say, I wasn't sure how I'd pull out a fast 5K. Since Kona, my training has been light and pretty easy. As it should be!! I have been 100% FINE with a relaxed frame of mind since that awesome October day. That said, I compete hard every time I race. Tommy,  Cameron and I lined up in front. Mark and Nick were back a few rows.  I told the kids to just do their thing and I'd see them at the end. They were nervous and excited.

Off we went!! 5Ks are just hard.  I went off Fast to start!!! My legs responded and turned over quickly! In fact, I have a one minute period that I was going sub5. Ha!! I got passed by a woman right off who was absolutely flying. I looked at my garmin, 5:28 pace.
Ok Momma...slooooooow down.  I guess I got a little excited.
Within the next minute, I could hear myself breathing. I was wheezing and sniffing and gasping and just .....running as hard as I could. I knew it would be over before too much could go wrong.
I made the lollipop turn and came back towards the other runners. I saw Mark and Nick and Nick and I High Fived! Then I slapped GO JACK to my little nephew! Cam and Tommy weren't far behind since I didn't see them on the turn around. I was 2nd woman and just decided to hold onto that.
Up a hill, HI To Mom and neice Audrey, Hey there's Dad, woah there goes a KID that looks younger than my son...up the hill....look at the watch 19:45.
I laughed out loud. I had asked coach Kurt whath to shoot for. I've only run 2 or 3  5Ks in my life and since this is Not what I'm out training for I had no real clue what to expect or hope for. He said, "how about mid 20?"
So...I crossed the line in 20:42. there.
good deal.
I turned around and ran back to see Tommy FLY over the hill for the finish. He was RIGHT there! He looked so fast.
Cam was right behind him in 24:15. He told he me he had to stop to fix his shoe at one point. So...little bro beat him. :)  No big deal. He handled it with a calm cool and collected attitude.
Nick and Mark were only minutes behind in sub 28!
Jack and Jeff were right there only minutes after!!!!
THe kids were all so proud but not as proud as their parents!

I know that running this distance at these ages isn't necessarily the best for the athletic future. There are better things to focus on with children at this age and I intend to do just that. ( Less focus on endurance and more focus on speed,agility, balance etc....). This isn't something I've focused over the years because it didn't cross my mind. Now, it's important. I'm being taught just how important and I'm grateful for that education.   However, this one day was a great family bonding time.  It was nice to have the kids wear the race numbers and be just as much a part of it as Mom and Dad. I'll keep teaching them to be active, eat well and to have fun moving around a lot. But long distance racing (which is what a 5K is to a small child like Nick for ex) won't be happening too much until they're older.


Thanksgiving was at my house this year. I had 30 family members and friends over and we had a blast. ( at least I did. )  I won't lie. It was a TON Of work leading up to it. Tons. But, I pulled it off. Except for the fact that the antique chair I was sitting in at dinner BROKE and left me in a heap on the floor. I'm pretty cool aren't I? Yes, other than that it was a lovely day.

yes, I am posting this hideous picture of myself. It's good for a laugh. right? I was chopping onions and my eyes were KILLING ME!!!!!! I have my goggles on. Yes, I really do. and, It helped!!!
Mark and his Dad carving the turkeys ( we ate 2 x 22lb birds in one sitting!)

Mark's parents with all their Grandkids

Mother Nature was awesome and gave us 15 beautiful inches of snow the day before --making a fun distraction for the kids

Cameron played his trumpet for the whole group!!

my guys

And that's that!!!! Time to go buy Christmas wreaths and get the kids!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is here. Time is flying by and life is busy.

It may be cliche but that's ok. I'm feeling thankful.

I can't list everything that I'm grateful for... but here's a short list of my favorites.

  • My husband- he's patient and kind. He's forgiving and understanding. He's always supportive.
  • All my boys- I have the coolest 3 kids. They are wonderful. Sure... I tear my hair out all the time trying to figure out how to handle situations, but they are good kids. I'm very proud and very lucky.
  • My health
  • Their health
  • My parents and their health
  • My brother
  • My neice Audrey
  • My Sister in laws--- all 5!
  • My nephews Jack & Griffin
  • Our warm comfortable home.
  • healthy food on the table day after day
  • True friends- you know who you are. :)
  • My peaceful runs on these quiet back roads
  • Mark's big family with oodles of sisters, and neices and nephews and fiances!!
  • All our fun times at the island all summer
  • Nick's laugh & snuggles
  • Tommy's smile & energy
  • Cam's sincerity & compassion

I can go on and on.. I have so much to be thankful for.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In Triathlon news.... there's not much. I've been running a little. I've biked a handful of times. I have been in the pool though it doesn't feel like swimming.  I've gained a few lbs and hand some really really fun nights out on the town, and at our friend's house, and at a concert.... it's been a nice relaxing off season so far. I'm ok with the down time....I know I need it. Especially this fall.

But soon... SOON I will  be back at it with ernest. I'm close.  I'm hosting 30 people for Thanksgiving this year so week! Next week I'll be ready to focus a bit more on the workouts.  This week is all about making pies, casseroles, big huge turkeys, setting tables, washing floors, finding enough plates, visiting with family who we rarely see and a few who have been off at college and growing up too fast and... saying THANK YOU for all we have. Because really, we have an awful lot.
I'm grateful and blessed and never want to take all that I have for granted.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you and yours!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A New Day, Because I did Let it Go...

If you read my post last night, you understand that title.

After an appropriate nudge from the person I trust and respect most in this world, I took down my last post. It didn't sit well with me either to be honest.So, down it came.

All I am going to say is: Please don't judge others. I think we all can learn from that.  Don't assume you know how people handle the personal details of their lives.  We all make assumptions, of course. It's human nature. But I will work even harder from this point on to refrain from making judgements. Because, nobody really knows. 

Moving on!  I have some fun things to share.
Yesterday I went to my boy's Elementary school to share my Ironman experiences. I was asked by their teachers to share with their classes what I had done in Hawaii and what I did to earn my spot on the starting line. Our district's mission is to teach our kids to Aspire Higher. The focus lately has been on goal setting and reaching beyond to a place you didn't know was possible.

I had to step out of my comfort zone. It's not easy for me to speak in front of groups. To make it more difficult, I had to talk about myself. To kids! Not just any kids, my kids and their peers.  I wanted to make them proud. I thought and thought about how to make my story interesting to children.  They are only in 2nd, 4th, and 6th grades. I worried about making my Ironman stories interesting to such young little people.

 But, most of all, I wanted to make my own kids proud of their Mom. Of course, they were in Lake Placid and they were in Kona. They have been with me every step of the way. They know most of the ins and outs of this sport. But this time, I was standing in front of their peers. I didn't want to mess up. I wanted to be cool.
I made a little outline and gathered some gear. I brought my fancy medal from Kona, my 1st place trophy from Lake Placid, some gels, an aero helmet, a race wheel, a torque swim suit, and a few pictures. I explained how far 112 miles was.... a drive from our town to ~Boston. I talked about setting goals and no matter how hard things got, continuing. I explained that my Ironman took lots and lots and lots of work to even cross the finish line. It didn't happen automatically because I signed up. I talked about the fact that I often wake up at 4:30 a.m. to swim, that some of my bike rides last the whole school day and that some days felt good and some days felt very bad. I changed some words depending on who's class I was speaking to. I answered questions about changing tires, about where we went to the bathroom ( true! ) and if I really ran the whole way. I had some kids raise their hands and tell me about races they had done. One boy ran a kid's race in Crocs after his Mother's triathlon and he was Very very proud. I loved that.

I think the day went well. When I picked the boys up after school they all quickly said, " I liked your talk Mommy!"and "it was really good. "  And other nice things like that. I was relieved and very happy to make them smile. Triathlon is such a part of their world that I think they had fun sitting back and being the ones in their classroom to know all about something.

But the most fun came today!!!!  Nicholas is in 2nd grade.  He's 7. His Whole class wrote me beautiful and sweet notes!  I will quote a few.... I only wish I could paste their adorable and in some cases impressively neat handwriting!!! .

Dear Mrs. Bancroft,  ( they all started this way.... )

"You taught me that reaching your aspiration is hard. I learned that you must work hard to reach your goal.  Now I can do the same.  I'll work hard to reach my aspiration. "

"Thank you for teaching us that in order to reach our goal we need to work hard.  Thank you for telling us about what you had to eat and drink to keep going. It was really great that you got 2nd place out of all those people. "

"That was very nice of you to show us what you do. We were glad for you to come to our classroom. I like you.  You are pretty. "

"Thank you for teaching me that if you work hard in football you can win the game.  That is my goal. "

"thank you for coming in and teaching us how hard you have to work. It sounds really fun.  My aspiration is to do a round off.  You must of trained really really hard. when I was in track when my legs and feet hurt I set a goal not to stop because I knew that I had to do the race.  "

"You taught us about exercising. You also taught us about swimming in a line. "

"You taught me that you have to eat and drink or you will be dehydrated. "

"You made me know how to get to my goal.  Now that you talked about how you do your exercise because I'm going to be a football player so thank you for teaching us about exercise you do.  Have a good night for you and Nick. "

my favorite:
"Dear Mommy,
Thank you for coming in the classroom. It was fun. Thank you for bringing me to Hawaii. 2 mile swim 112 mile bike and run 26 miles YOU ARE AN IRONMAN! love nick"

These made my day.  Now I feel sure that yesterday was a good thing to do. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What comes next???

I crossed the finish line....

It's now 5:26 p.m. Want to know what happens next? We spend so much time replaying all the pre-race routines, the morning of, the seconds before, and then of course a thorough blow by blow of the full 140.6 miles. 

While fighting through the final miles of the marathon in my Ironmans, I sometimes wonder what will happen when that beautiful black line (is there a line?) and huge timing clock finally appear. Will I collapse? Will I drop to my knees? Will I cry? I never really know. Of course, it's not something you plan.  I know I feel like I will likely just crumble to the ground and be unable to move my body ever again.

On October 8th, I crossed the line with my hands in the air, a huge smile, and I am quite sure a few tears.  Immediately, I looked for Mark and the kids. Where are they???  They weren't there. I knew they must be close. He caught me when I crossed the line in '09. We had our green tickets to get them back there. Mark??
Two smiling volunteers grabbed my arms instead.  A man and a woman. I don't know their names.  I felt my legs buckle a little, but I stayed upright. A thick black cotton towel was thrown over my back and a beautiful purple lei was placed around my neck. 
I wrestled to get that warm towel OFF my skin!!! " I need this off.... please..."
At first, they insisted I keep it on me. " You don't want to get chilled."
Seriously??? I just busted my tail for 10.5 hours through the Lava fields of Kona. I am not chilled now nor do I expect to be any time soon.
I can't remember where that thing went.
I looked and looked and must have said several times that I needed to find my family. They kept walking me down an aisle towards the back of the hotel where they said I'd find him.  I was asked 100 times what I needed. If I was ok. Do you want water? coke? Sports drink?
I know I said thank you. I really did appreciate their arms and smiling faces. But... if I drank any more coke or powerbar perform, well, it wouldn't be pretty.  Nothing... I don't need anything...thank you. I just need my family.
I remember saying multiple times that, 'yes, I am ok. I am happy. I feel ok. I'm tired." over and over.  God bless those volunteers. They were thorough with me!
After a few minutes we got to the place where they said goodbye and sent me on my own.

And there I stood. Alone. Looking out at a giant sea of other tired, sweaty and confused athletes mixing with 100s of family looking for their person. what.
Legs... go. Move. Please. Walk. I felt a bit, well, stiff...  Yup....I was done walking.

After what seemed like a strange amount of time to stand in the middle of a walkway, I started to shuffle.

Where was Mark??? I decided to make my way to the place we dropped our Morning Clothes bag 11 or so hours before and find my  phone.  If I could just remember where that was. And, how I was going to get there.

Before I knew it, Tom came along. No, not my 9 year old Tommy. This was post-race volunteer #3, handsome young Tom. 

"Are you ok?"
My answer wasn't  the firm Yes that it had been 20 min earlier. He grabbed my arm and walked with me. I love the volunteers. I was really really happy to have Tom with me.  I was starting to fade.  I felt somewhat nauseus. I started to notice that things felt a little off. My hands were very swollen. And they tingled!? It was strange. At first, I didn't talk about that. I just told Tom that I couldn't find my husband.

So, Tom grabbed his cell phone and dialed his number! How cool is that? Sadly, Mark didn't answer.

Meanwhile, I grew a tad dizzy. I needed to sit. Tom laid me on the ground and got me a drink. I can't remember what it was. I complained about my hands and face. Now my face was tingling. This made Tom uncomfortable I guess because he insisted  I go back to the med tent. Really? Ok, let's go.

It was a long long walk / shuffle to the tent. By now, I was barefoot and it felt so good. I had striipped my soaking wet shoes and socks off and discovered my water logged and blistered feet. Lovely. And, expected.  My feet were soaked the entire day.

Soon... Tom and Mark were chatting. Phew! We finally met at the med tent and yes, Mark was crying.  He's a guy that cries. Sorry hun. you've been outed. It's a good thing. He hugged me super hard and picked me up and told me he was so so proud of me. Tears and smiles.  My boys were sunburned but happy. They all had their Ironman hats on and free Ironman bags they got at the expo filled with snacks, shells, and water. Good job Dad. :) One of the first things Nick said, "Look at Daddy's foot!!!!!" What? Sure enough, Mark's foot was bleeding pretty badly.  I got hustled into the tent for a little TLC and somehow convinced them to help him out too.
( Turns out he tried to jump fences and run though gates to get to me at the finish....they wouldn't let him and he ended up angry and fell down.  ooops...) 

I found my way to a cot and they examined me. My hands were freaking me out and I felt lightheaded and like I could be sick. But, really, not that bad. No way near as bad as I felt after my first Ironman. I was in that med tent for a long long time and had a hard time. My heart rate was 110 which is pretty high an hour after a race. Maybe it wasn't that long. She tried to take my blood pressure but when the cuff was on me my hand became stiff in a deformed position and it freaked me out. I moved around and she yanked it off.  Failed. No blood pressure. As I sat there, trying to get myself together, I started to shake. I was freezing. Hmmm...joke's on me! Where was that towel? The nurses brought me a mylar blanket and the world was good again.

I looked at the people laying on cots around me. They needed help. I was on a mission to leave. I was ok. I felt horrible, but I could think straight, talk and even walk a bit.  Time to go. I grabbed Mark in all his bandages and we made our way out. 

From there we wandered back to the food / pick up bag area and got my stuff.
And then... The Medal!!
Ta da!!!!!!!!!!! Isn't it a beauty! It's a nice one. I think I'll hold onto this one.  (couldn't get rid of that glare)

We chatted with some other people, the boys got ice cream cups, and we took a few pictures. I never found Mary but I did see her husband and kids. I finally got my bike, was rerouted a LONG way around to get Back to my family and then we made our way to the Jeep.
My clothes were soaked, my legs were aching, and I was very anxious to get in a hot shower. Or was I...

I climbed in and ouuuuuuch!!!!!!!!!!!!

Imagine being in tight wet clothes from 6:40 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.  Those clothes are covered with salt water, sweat and who knows what else.  You are also moving your legs back and forth through 140.6 miles of swimming, biking and running. Friction.  Big time. And that = DIAPER RASH!!!!  Yes, it's sad but true.  It is very very unpleasant and painful. And unavoidable.

And, nasty chafing under my arms where my shirt rubbed, on the back of my neck, and blisters on the feet. PIck a spot and I likely had some impressive chafing there. I screamed in pain. One by one each kid came in, "Mommy??? Are you ok???
No..but I will be. I assured them.  Mark has seen it before. He just let me be. It was a painful, oh so painful, shower. 
Finally.. I put on soft dry sweats and a shirt. I cralwed onto the bed and decided I might never move again. 

Contrary to what you might think, I was not in the mood to eat.  I had been stuffing various forms of sugar into my system and fighting off the heat and winds all day so the appetite gets suppressed. Big time. In fact, that goes on for a good portion of the week. 
I would feel super hungry. I would decide it was time to chow. I would sit down with a tasty looking meal and realize I just could not get it all down.  Food just did not sit right for several days. Until suddenly, one day,  it was time. Time to Eat. I made up for those few lost days. Trust me.

And then there's the soreness. Waking the next day is never a good thing. hurts to roll over. I am not kidding. But honestly, the day After the day after is even worse. I would move from spot to spot around the room holding onto the walls as I went.
The last notable thing I remember was  the edema. My feet, ankles and calves swelled so immensely this time! I would feel them tighten as each day wore on so finally, I could barely get my shoes on. The skin on my legs felt like it was going to rip open.

By day 3 or 4, I felt pretty good. I was walking without much issue. I took the stairs to  our 3rd floor condo without looks of pity from my kids. My feet stopped swelling and I could eat pretty normally. 

I recovered quite well laying around on the white sands of Hawaii!! And now, I'm back in Maine during the most beautiful month of October and I feel great.  Energy is great and I'm excited to see what next year brings.

There it is! The 48-72 hours post- Ange's Ironman!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Kona 2011- The Race Report

And they're off!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ironman. It's not 1 day. It's a way of life for a long long time before that day.  This year, I did it twice. Two Ironman races in two + months. Needless to say, I'm tired. Despite that deep fatigue, I remain wired with satisfaction and happiness. 
Here's my story from Hawaii.
Ironman World Championships 2011

Leading up to the big day........
I worked and worked for weeks before we left to dot the i's and cross the t's at home.  I completed all my workouts with 100% effort. I discussed things and planned for weeks and weeks ahead of time with my athletes.  I organized the kid's schedules with school and of course, packed. That list sounds short but believe me, I was busier than a bee and eventually, it took it's toll. A regular old cold came and went. But then, 3 days before we flew away, the cough. And then, the fever. The day before we left, I was flat on my back for the day with a 101+ fever. Great. Determined to fight it off, I convinced my head I would be fine. Travel day was long. I started off feeling decent. The boys were awesome. However, by the time we took off from CA to HI, I was hot again. My temp was rising and I felt horrible. I coughed embarrassingly loud and hard on the tiny airplane. I was sweaty and scared.  How could all my hard work be derailed by a flu bug? Ignore it ignore it ignore it. I tried to sleep while the kids and Mark laughed at Cars2 on the plane. Finally, 7 p.m. Hawaii time and 1:00 a.m. Maine time, we landed. By 3 a.m. Maine time, I went to bed. Praying....praying I'd recover.
Fast forward......  Thanks to my personal nurse who supplied a race saving prescription of antibiotics, I only suffered through one more sick day.  The fear of having to DNS a race we travelled around the world for, faded. I rallied by grabbing my bike from Bike Works, completing a a short brick and listening to the kids exclaim in disbelief about the giant sea turtles they swam with out our front door. Things were looking up.
Time to get my head back on the race. Focus Ange, focus.

Friday-  The day before.  True to form, I was careful and serious about my pre-race routine. I got up early, completed a short little run, and then ate pancakes until I was sick. I was overlooking the Pacific while sitting on our Lanai with my whole family around me. I was feeling lucky. And, nervous. Very nervous. 
I had a breakthrough race in Lake Placid in July.  I crushed my old Ironman PR and I nearly won the amateur race.  Me? From Paris Maine? I just ride around this remote town by myself doing the best I can day after day? How did I do that? It was almost surreal. And yet, it was me. I did do that. And you know what? I wanted to do it again. I was not extra nervous because I was racing in the World Championships. I was not super anxious because I was competing in a race that is the most desired event for all triathletes or because I was going up against some of the best athletes in the world. No, I was ready for that. I didn't spend the week feeling intimidated by all the hot shots walking around. Their shiny bikes and svelte bodies didn't scare me.  I felt confident about myself. I knew how I got there.  I knew I earned my spot.

I was super nervous because I wanted to do it again. I wanted to show myself that July 24th wasn't just a day that came together.  It was a day that I earned. A day that I made happen. It wasn't luck or good fortune. It was hard work and determination. I needed to solidify my performance by doing it again.
That was my mission for Hawaii. Repeat. Make it mine.  One more time. Two for two.


Race day.

3:50 a.m. - wake up- choke down food, savor caffeinated coffee finally, don the tri kit, say thanks to my 4 boys for the support as they wake up at 4:15 too, and off we went. 

4:45- go through the motions.  Body mark, watch Chris Leito walk by, wonder if Julie Dibens is as nervous as I am, get weighed and growl because it's 5lbs more than just a few days ago, bottles on bike, pump tires, choke down some EFS, hug Mary, recheck tires, fill bento box, go to the bathroom, sit and stretch, go to the bathroom, walk around aimlessly, and then, it's time.
Cap on, goggles tight, Torque suit pulled up, stand for National anthem.
It's time. It's time.
Just like that....  it's show time.
And the fun begins---

I walked down the small stairway from the pier to the water. The waves are crashing in to the wall and the force of the water going out almost knocked me over. I found and chatted with my friend Marni, both of us focused and a bit distant.  It was time to swim out. The start is about 50 yards off shore. I swam off to the left in an attempt to avoid the insane mele of the mass start at this intense race. At the World Championships, we all want to be out front. We all know how to be out front.  The result is a swim start full of adrenaline, huge ego and anxiety. I am a swimmer at heart and yet, I grew up racing in my own lane. Just me vs the person in the lanes next to me. Separated by lane lines. The aggressive madness of the Kona swim is overwhelming to me.  So! I went far left. 
I floated and tried to save energy while treading water for 20 minutes. I found a few familiar friends ( Michelle and Nalani ) and talked about our swim plan. I held on a boat for a few seconds. With only minutes to go, the crowded slowly crept forward. The spaces closed in around me. Mike Reilly yelled to get back. You could feel the energy and anxiousness of everyone. 

Close your eyes. Try to hear this. Try to feel it. If you were there or if you've been there, I know it'll bring it back in a second. If you don't understand why or what we do, please try to feel this. It's a big moment.

The helicopters were right over our heads....the loud whir of them drowning out my own thoughts. The famed announcer was sending words out to the crowd. I have heard them before but not that day. All I heard was the sound of the water churning. I heard my own heart beating. And, the drums. Behind us on the sea wall that was lined with family and friends, the Hawaiian drummers were adding to the emotions. They beat their drums over and over and over and over. It mixed with the whir of the helicopter, the announcer's voice, the screams from excited spectators, my heart beat.
Suddenly, without warning- BLAST- the cannon was shot and smoke blew into the air.
There's no more time to think. It's time to DO it! Just swim!!!!!

I started the swim feeling smug and strong. I was OK! Unlike 2009 when I thought I truly might drown in the frantic crowds, this time the start was manageable. I was touched but I was not shoved under. I was swimming my own pace. I wasn't trapped at a pace that felt slow and useless. Things were good and my Ironman start was positive.  I tried not to stray towards the buoy line too soon. I wanted to swim straight and then get a bit closer after making the turn at the boat.  There was one person that continuously grabbed my feet for the entire first 1.2 miles. I was entirely agitated.  let GO of me! I tried to ignore and just keep swimming.............
I could see the orange buoys off to my right. I was in a good spot. Keep going. Eventually, the turn boat. As I made the corner, things grew tight. I could feel other swimmers closing in on me. And then, a HUGE dark mass moved below the water! I was startled and a bit stressed. It was only a few moments before I realized it was a scuba diver Not a great white shark. :)  Good thing.just keep swimming....

The 2nd half of the swim was as bad as the first half was good.  I found the other 1800 swimmers that I avoided at the beginning. Somehow, I wound up too close to the buoy line and in a mix of 100s of others.  The grabbing, pushing, shoving, and kicking began. The sea was alive and well all week and on race day, while the swells were smaller, they were there. I was up and down and up and down. I drank gulp after gulp of very salty ocean. I tried not to think about the upset stomach that could haunt me from that.  I talked relentlessly to myself about staying calm. And staying positive. However, it didn't work. I grew more and more annoyed. And discouraged. And tired. I felt sick. I had no energy. STOP GRABBING MY FEET! I was bugged.  I stopped and did a few breaststrokes. What? what are you DOING Ange? I got mad. All those 4:30 a.m. trips to the pool. All those repeat 500s and 200s and 700s... for what? to get stuck in the middle of all these men with lousy strokes?? Seriously, why were they all men? And why can't they swim?? I'm kidding about that part but honestly, I saw some pathetic strokes and I was trapped. I could not  get out of the way. Then, WHACK!!!!! My brain rattled. I stopped and ripped off my goggles. I was kicked SO hard in the eye that I nearly cried. I Did swear. And I Did stop. I was convinced I would either DNF or complete the remaining 138miles with a swollen black eye. I had a headache and was really in pain. 
just keep swimming.....
ok, fine. I'll keep swimming.
My psyche was in the hole. I gave up a few times. where is the pier??? I have been in the SAME spot forEVER!!!!!!!!!!
I convinced myself I was still sick or that my illness did in fact zap my energy.  I was done.

great way to start huh???

Alright, enough of that nonsense. I didn't travel to Hawaii to give up. To quit. To let one little set back get in my way. I remembered feeling pretty bad at the end of my LP swim too. I convinced myself it was ok and tried to rally. I pushed harder. I tried to surge and escape from my man trap. I broke free with only a bit to go. A woman! I found a pink cap! Ahh... don't get me wrong. I love men! :)  Nothing wrong with men. But I am not a fan of the men I seem to get stuck swimming with in these things.  Where are their manners? Haha..just kidding.

I could hear the announcer. The sound of the crowd filled my insides. I swam all the way in to avoid the dreaded sea urchins. YES! The Stairs!!!!

I was done. Thankgod. Time to move on.

I couldn't find the strap to my suit. I was sure it got pulled off. I stopped for a brief second under the fresh water hoses as I ran to T1.  I hollered for Help getting the suit off.... I took 3 yells but finally a volunteer helped me unzip.

Swim time: 1:04
1:04???  Ugh. That's way way slower than my norm. Way slower. I guess it was rough? Crowded? Off course? who knows.  But, I heard that many people had slow swims.  I will let it go. But next time ? I plan to be faster. Period.

Before I knew it I was out of that looooong transition area and heading up Palani Rd with many many other bikes.  It was crowded and within minutes I realized I was the slowest one out there.
stay in your own race Ange, just stay in your own race...

So so many men whizzed by me like I was standing still. It can be easy to get discouraged. I had to fight it. I had been instructed to push things a bit for the first 10 miles until we left town on the Queen K. I did just that. I rode strong and tried to ignore the fact that I didn't feel great. push it now, then get out on the long road and settle down....
I knew it might take a bit to warm up, to find my groove. We circled up and down a few roads close to the starting area. The streets are lined with spectators that we will soon miss. The Queen K is a long long lonely road and makes up 90% of the bike course. I heard Mark yell as I descended Palani the first time and when I climbed back up that road I saw him and the boys and we all yelled to each other.  Comfort...such comfort in seeing family.

Now, it was time to dig deep and focus.

The ride out on the Queen K was fine. I drank and drank and drank more to erase the salty taste and thirst I acquired during the swim.  Eventually, I realized I was overdrinking because my stomach and throat began to hurt. I felt full and nauseus. I had pain in my neck. Damn. Get on top of it Ange!  I did a quick assessment of things and decided I could afford to hold back and let my stomach settle. If I messed up the nutrition, the day would not go the way I wanted it to go. Swim, bike, run, nutrition. All 4 are key.
And, let's not forget the psychology piece. It's a 5-part sport.

I rode and rode. I growled at a few large packs that went by.  One included the winner of our age group last year. She went on to win this year too.  How can she do that with a straight face? Ride clean folks... we're all in this together. There were many refs on the motorcycles out and I witnessed many yellow cards being handed out, and yet, the report is that there was a lot of drafting going on.  It's a shame at an event of this caliber.

moving on....

My stomach settled and I was back on track with nutrition.
The sun was out in full force. I was hot. Very hot. I grabbed water every 7 miles and covered my body and head with it. I sipped it a few times then grabbed a bottle of Perform to carry on the bike.  Just like Lake Placid...don't mess with the plan that worked.

The climb to Hawi was upon me before I knew it. And the winds of the Big Island did not disappoint.  Eventually, I just had to laugh. I was slowed to a crawl and had to hold the bike for dear life. I attempted to ride in aero a few times just to be thrown around the road with the threat of landing in a bush.  I decided not to fight nature and just sat up and pedaled with purpose to the 60 mile mark-the turnaround.
I rode over the blue timing mats, heard it beep, and smiled thinking of my friends back home and their awesome support as they watched.
Thanks guys!!!!!!  I felt your love way out there!!

Back out of the wind tunnel... I was distracted by the beautiful ocean. The water was so blue and sparkly that day! focus ange focus.

The bike is the longest part of the day and yet I'm Happy to say, it went by the fastest that day!!!  I had a great bike I think. I was steady and felt strong. After calming down on my crazy fluid consumption, my stomach settled and I felt good. I was hot and sweaty and the sun was beating down on me, and yet I kept my head calm about the heat and it never attacked me mentally. I cooled myself and took in the calories. I relaxed through the winds and didn't panic or fight it.
 And that's that!!!
I hit the airport, rode by the Natural Energy Lab and had a moment of concern as I remembered ( ok, I never really forgot but things were getting close) that I still had to run 10 miles through town, and then another 8 out to the hot and hellish energy lab and then another 8 after that....
focus ange...just ride soon.....
3+ more hours of work and then you rest. it's vacation. the beach awaits....
focus. Keep your head on.

It was my mission that day. I was on a mission to stay in control of myself and finish what I set out to do.

I took my feet out of my shoes as I approached Palani. I did Not want to run that Long transition run in my bike shoes this time. I decided to be a big girl and act like the experienced triathlete that I am and get the feet out of the shoes! ( aren't you proud Kurt!? :) ) I handed my bike to a volunteer at the dismount line and without looking back, I was off for my run bag. (bike split 5:37. Exactly the Same as Lake Placid!!?? interesting. I hit my watt range Exactly too. VI 1.04. I guess I was where I needed to be. Let's see what's next.)

I was crouched over and in pain. My feet killed. I've been fighting a bad case of plantar fasciitis since Lake Placid and it reared it's ugly head on that transition run. Why do they make it SO long?? It was brutal. I felt horrible. Hot, tired, in pain, and ....thats' about it!
A marathon?

Into the run change tent. I had a great volunteer who was super helpful. Someone else came over and started gobbing sunscreen on my back and arms. I changed my shorts, dried my waterlogged feet and grabbed my run socks and shoes, I stuffed gels in my bra, put on my hat and....made a quick bathroom trip. It was conveniently right in front of my seat so that was handy.
I took an excederin to mask my headache ( that always happens) and grabbed a cup of water as I ran out.

This is it. This is where it either all comes together...
or not.

It's Make or break now Ange. What are you going to do? Are you going to give in to the pain? the fatigue? the desire to just slow down or...stop? Are you going to say, "It's ok, it's been a long season. You can't have your best race Every time...." 
or are you going to choose to win. Are you going to choose to fight all the demons that are creeping into your brain now? Are you going to fight harder than you've had to fight ever before. Sure.... you're worn out. You've worked so intensely for 12 months now without a break. You've won what you needed to win to get here. That's good enough. Isn't it?
I came to do it again! I ran down Ali'i Drive determined to finish the job. To get to the finish line with the success I wanted.  Let's go...

Around mile 5 I finally saw my family again.  I had been waiting and waiting to see them.
 Mark yelled and came close? "How are you???" 
I was good. I was right on pace. My legs felt strong. My foot didn't hurt. My stomach was cooperating. But, my head was faltering. I was looking for strength. All I said was, "I'm trying to keep my head in the game. I'm trying..." 
I turned around down the road and ran by them one more time. The next time I'd see them would be at the finish.  I smiled ( I think?) and waved goodbye. I couldn't wait to play in the water with the kids. I couldn't wait for that post-Ironman hug that Mark is so good at.
Time to dig deep. It was about to get tough.

Off I went. Back down Ali'i. I had 5 more miles in town before heading back into the Lava fields. I heard Mike Reilly annoucing the Pro men as the finished. I felt jealous. I yelled to spectators, "who won??"  Craig Alexander. Yes! I smiled and headed out on Hualalai road ( is that right? it starts with an H, I know that much)  and to the short stretch of Kuakini hwy before the climb up Palani to the queen K. I took short easy steps up the hill. Just like the lake placid your quads just like Kurt said... easy up the hilll...
I was hot. And I was struggling.  It was time to rally. 
I headed up the long gradual hill that led us towards the Natural energy lab on the Queen K.  I watched Chrissie Wellington FLY by me towards her 4th win. Amazing. The last time I had seen her was on the bike and she was way way behind. Minutes later, I watched Mirinda Carfrae run by me with a look of total grit and fight. She was pushing so incredibly hard. Rockstars.

I ran and ran. The more I ran, the better I felt. I felt strong and solid. I took in plenty of gels and perform at every aid station. I filled my clothes with ice, dumped water on my neck, and rubbed sponges on my face. I was increasingly excited. I was making it happen.  I was right on pace. I wasn't faltering and I became more and more sure of myself.

Women around me started talking with their supporters on the road and a few with each other. They were discussing their places. One talked about being 2nd in her age, another was trying to fight her way into 5th. Wait a minute.
If they are that far up in their age groups, what about me? Where was I? Did I have a shot? Could I make the podium here?? In 2009 I think I placed in the 30s for my age group. I was Not in contention. But wait....maybe this year was different?
I started noticing numbers on other people's arms.  I saw some that were close to mine. I ran them down. Knock them off... I want it.. I'm getting that spot... I ran harder and harder. ( or so I thought...)

Next thing I knew, I was climbing out of the energy lab.
It's hot. It's very very hot. I was taking shallow deliberate breaths. It was hard to get enough air. Where did the air go? Just keep moving.... keep moving... .do not walk do not walk. Keep breathing.  A few more steps and you can get water.

Thankfully, I did reach that aid station at the top of that road. I grabbed the table and held on. I tried not to stop long. I dumped water and filled my shirt with ice.
Just go.
7 miles Ange and then you rest.
The work is not done. A little more work and then it's time to celebrate.
It's all you now. It's all about your head.

Did I have it? Did I have what it would take?
The wheels were falling off. All of a sudden I was in a hole. I could feel myself glaze over. I had that look that people talk about. I was not on the same road as the others next to me. I was in my own space. I was still running and I was heading towards town but I was far far away in my head.
I had flashes of the season. Some from races, some from training. And some of my thoughts were just the kids or Mark or others that have given me strength along the way.
Why do I do this? If there's so much suffering and pain?
Because of what happens next....

I ran mile to mile. I was more focused than ever before. I was reaching inward to a place I didn't know I had. I wanted it. I wanted it so much. Not just the finish line-- I wanted it all. I wanted all that I had set out to do. It was mine to win or mine to loose.
Did I have it?
Damn straight. I didn't get this far to let it slip away.

I took a right onto Palani drive. This was it. I hollered out loud as my quads screamed with each downhill step.

I didn't expect it, but right at the bottom of the hill I heard Mark. And then I saw him and my kids. He snapped 20 photos in 2 minutes and they are nearly all blurry. But it's ok, because we were both blurry. Without any warning, I started to cry.  He hollered louder and louder and I threw my hands in the air in total joy. Only a mile or so to go... I was doing it. I was smashing those demons that tried to stop me that tried to slow me down.

 This is the bottom of the hill on Palani...I'm not even at the finish yet and already felt total happiness. 

 I ran down towards Ali'i Drive. I can't describe that finish line in a way that will do it justice. It's nearly 3/4 of a mile ( or more? maybe less) down a road that is a tunnel. The crowds fill the roads so there's only a small narrow aisle for the athletes to finish on. Everyone is screaming your name and slapping your hands. Your 140.6 mile race is almost complete. You made it and the emotions are totally and utterly overwhelming. At least, they are for me. I broke into a faster run and passed a few more people, including a girl in my age group. Still racing! 

I crossed the line with pride and a smile.  Two for two. I conquered both my Ironmans and validated that Lake Placid race and made it happen again. I'm so excited and can't wait for more.

Final time --  10:25
run 3:34
7th age group-- Almost a podium spot! Yes!
and one more thing.... I was 2nd amateur at Lake Placid. The woman who beat me Crushed that course and is an incredible athlete. However, I was pretty psyched to learn that I beat her in Kona. That, felt cool. 

HUGE Mahalos ( thank yous!) to Mark, Cameron, Tommy, and Nick (my super awesome supportive family), to my parents who are my biggest fans and have supported me my WHOLE life, Kurt- my amazing coach who successfully guided me through these two great Ironmans, my sponsor Norway Savings bank for the much needed financial support, my best friend Mary - what can I say? we are in this together girlfriend!, and all my incredible friends who have been such special cheerleaders and support all the time!

And that's that!!!! thanks for reading!
A few more photos of the day...
( I can't seem to move them to put them in order! )

 ( this is early on... I couldn't move this photo to save my life..)
The finish...

the boat I grabbed a few times before the start...