Why We Missed That Event For A Race

We had to miss TWO big family events this summer for races. Our second was this weekend for Donnie’s Ironman. As I thought of our family all gathered one state away for a wedding, I hoped they all understood the importance of this race of ours. It’s hard to tell sometimes with non-racers, if they get it. In our town there’s a 5K – quite literally – every weekend. And our town is small! I know from experience when people ask us questions about races that a lot of people don’t really separate a 5K from an Ironman, not if they have no experience with either. It’s all something about running or racing or swimming or something and I worry – do they think all races are the same?

We wouldn’t miss a wedding for a 5K, that much I assure you.

But I thought I’d write something about what goes into these type of endurance events, so that maybe others could understand why runners and triathletes miss important events for what might seem to be insignificant obligations.

  • Race registration is early and expensive. Donnie registered for his Ironman exactly 1 year ago and it cost about $700 with registration fees and USAT membership. So, one year ago we made our initial $700 commitment to this event and at that time, there was nothing else on the schedule. More often than not, our races are on the schedule before the event we’re missing, that’s how early registrations open up. And let me tell you, just signing up for a race is a brave thing to do, so that step right there – many months before training even begins – is a huge one.
  • Training costs money. Our other event that we missed this summer was a couples wedding shower for Donnie’s sister. I was very upset about missing it but I had my first Olympic Distance Triathlon that weekend and I had paid the $100 registration fee months earlier as well as paid $350 to join a 16-week coaching program. I had been training for almost 3 months before I learned there would be a conflict. That’s a huge investment of time, and another investment of money. Donnie hired a coach for both of his Ironmans and let’s just say – it was a little bit more than my training class. All of those dollars are worth it, but another part of the investment into these races that we choose over other events. If you don’t pay for coaching plans you pay for gear. Even just running events can cost hundreds of dollars in shoes and gear, but triathlons? Can cost thousands. Donnie had a lot of bike repairs this year. And Donnie’s set up is relatively inexpensive compared to most.
  • Training costs time. Hundreds of hours have been logged to train for some of these events. I was looking at 10 hours per week at least for my Olympic. Donnie did that JUST ON THE WEEKEND training for his Ironman. And for every hour of training we’re missing an hour of something else the rest of the world enjoys. Maybe it’s sleep. Maybe it’s family time. Maybe it’s another event that wasn’t that important but MAN, it would have been nice to attend. We make so many sacrifices for these races that to not do them means all of that was done in vain. And that would be a tough burden to carry.
  • The perfect event is only once a year. While 5Ks are every weekend, these endurance events we choose to do are only once a year. There may be a few similar events nearby but we chose the one we chose because it was perfect. There was another Olympic Distance triathlon 6 weeks after the one I chose, but it was a different kind of swim I didn’t feel confident about. And the one I chose went through my college town. I chose that one for a reason so another race of the same distance wouldn’t really work. There are other Ironmans but none within such an easy driving distance to a city we adore. We choose all of our races based on a series of conditions so – even if you know there’s one of a similar distance close on the calendar to the one we chose – there are bound to be other factors. I chose the 100K I chose because it’s on a greenway type course, and there are none other like that within driving distance of where I live. I chose my 12-hour run for the same reason, it’s local and there’s nothing else like it within a drive from our home. So, for all practical purposes? The races we choose are only once a year, so it’s not easily to switch up training halfway through for a different event. We’d have to stop and start over a year later.
  • A lot can happen in a year. “But this event you’re missing is only once in your LIFETIME.” And yes, it will. Luckily, for really important events (like Donnie’s sister’s wedding), we’re part of the decision process so we know PLENTY far enough in advance to avoid catastrophic scheduling issues. Because something of that level we’d obviously skip the race. But for cousin’s weddings and bridal showers, we’re not part of the process so we only find out a short time out and when we’ve already invested time and money and sacrificed hours of sleep and family time. And we could write off the investment and those sacrifices and just try again next year. But we have learned in our 6 years as a family doing these events, that a lot can happen in a year. Children are born, jobs are changes, families are relocated, injuries occur…many things could pop up to keep us from being able to do it next year. Our kid could join a club soccer team. Or maybe a different event will pop up on the calendar that day for next year, in advance. We many not have the time or the money next year, so throwing out all of the time and money spent this year is not a decision we could make lightly.

But it sucks. We really do hate it when it happens. It always dampers our race a bit to know the rest of our family is gathered elsewhere celebrating something we’d love to celebrate. Our immediate family has been on this journey enough with us long enough to understand, so we are confident they don’t pass judgement, but you never know about people a little further out from the loop. Are we the ones who “always miss stuff for races” at this point? Do people imagine us missing large gatherings for 5Ks? Do they understand the investment of time and money and the sacrifices we make in our lives to do these races?

I don’t know. I hope so. But if they don’t, maybe some day down the road they’ll make a decision to train for a marathon, or a triathlon, and maybe then they’ll remember how we missed that thing that time. And maybe then they’ll think, “Oh. Okay. Now I get it.”



Power of Prayer

I’ve said before that I believe in the power of Prayer in a very abstract way. I believe that even one person thinking about a positive hope/wish for another person creates positive energy in their life and that can have a positive effect on the other person’s life. Therefore…prayer has a very positive power and I never dismiss it, even as a non-believer.

However, even in my more Catholic days, I had a hard time with the belief that there might be a God in the universe that answers specific prayer requests like…that a person get a specific job, or that a person be cured of a disease, or that a contract gets selected. I never really bought that type of prayer, mainly because I had a hard time willingly believing in a God that would give my sister that job she wants, but not give clean water to people in impoverished villages.


I mean, in the grand scheme of things? My life is great. No complaints. No big issues that need to be addressed. But I do feel like the Universe has been taking tiny poops on my head for awhile now. Nothing too messy or hard to clean up, but just tiny poops keep dropping into my life for the last several weeks and I WOULD LIKE A BREAK RIGHT NOW.

Let’s discuss our challenges of late, shall we?

  • Wes got the mystery-but-severe virus that had him with a fever of 104 at one point. Knocked him out of all activity for a solid 2 days.
  • Both kids ended up in the ER – one with orbital fracture and the other with a concussion – from a slide incident.
  • E got a severe ankle sprain at a trampoline place in Birmingham. He thought it was broken, made a late trip to the ER just in case.
  • Donnie had an elbow injury that created what they call a septic bursa which had to be drained and is being treated with antibiotics.
  • Nikki is have some quite severe issues at school already that have us currently hunting for a counselor for her. These are problems beyond anything she’s ever had before and worrying about them is basically keeping me up every night.

And last night? LAST NIGHT? Lice. Lice in Wesley’s hair.

So you know? Maybe we could use some prayers in the form of some positive energy being sent our way because I have had enough. Seriously. I’d maybe like some good news. We’ve had no major bad news…these are all solvable problems…but DAMN. I WOULD LIKE TO GO A FEW DAYS WITHOUT PROBLEMS.

Our house is still on the market. We’re priced a million dollars below market and still…no one wants to come see it. Because the universe is just having fun pooping tiny poops on my head right now. At least if it was giant diarrhea poops I’d feel comfortable just breaking down and begging for mercy, but the tiny poops are kinda not a big deal individually and they’re relatively easy to clean up BUT I’D LIKE A BREAK FROM THE TINY POOPS.

So let’s maybe cross our fingers that the house sells. That would be the good news we could really use right now. Or maybe that the lice doesn’t show up beyond Wesley’s hair. We shaved his head – it was something we were discussing anyway – BUT NIKKI AND I WERE NOT DISCUSSING THIS. So if they show up in our heads? We’re screwed.


So we’d welcome any positive thoughts and prayers right now. We’d like a break from the tiny poops on our heads.

2015 HSV Sprint Tri (1573 of 1640)-L

Huntsville Sprint Tri: A Family Affair

One of these years I’m going to convince E to join us at this race and then it will be the Best. Race. Day. Ever. Until then? This past Saturday will suffice.

Our plan was to have Donnie do the race alongside Nikki like I did last year, and Wes and I were going to do the relay with Wes as the swimmer. But – since he’s little and not 100% confident, I was going to do the swim alongside him. That plan was almost perfectly executed until Donnie got an infection in his elbow that was going to keep him from swimming. SO! Nikki would do the swim alone and then he would jump on his bike to do the rest with her. I knew I would finish the swim with Wes, so quite a bit behind her, so I hoped I’d be able to catch up and do the rest of the race with Nikki and Donnie.

We left the house with 3 bikes, 3 swim bags, and 2 nervous kiddos around 5:10am on Saturday. I woke Wes up right before we walked out the door so he could get as much sleep as possible. I had breakfast for him to eat at the race. We parked where we were instructed and walked the half-mile or so to the race area and headed over to transition to find our bike spots and got our transition areas kinda set up.

2015 HSV Sprint Tri (47 of 1640)-L

Donnie and Nikki set up their stuff together because they reported the same swim times so got consecutive numbers. This was my first time being part of a relay team which meant we got our own bike racks! (The relay teams, not just us.) We set up our spot and headed to body marking!


After that the kids got some breakfast, we got our timing chips (they go on your LEFT ankle so as not to get tangled with your bike gears) and jumped in the pool for a warm-up swim.

That’s when Wes started to freak out.

He has swam 400m at our YMCA pool before, but it’s a 25yd pool so it’s not as long, visually, as the 50m natatorium pool. I’ve never really seen him too nervous about anything. He’s just…well…chill. Sometimes he acts nervous about stuff when he sees Nikki is so he can get attention, but he’s never really anxious. But Saturday? He was more nervous than I had ever seen him.

2015 HSV Sprint Tri (617 of 1640)-L

2015 HSV Sprint Tri (614 of 1640)-L

The great thing about this race is it’s full of first-timers so the back of the pack is just a big ball of nervous people which actually can make you feel better, believe it or not. Because those are the people you’re entering the water with, so it suddenly feels less like you’re in a race, and more like you’re in a group therapy session. I reassured Wes that he could do the whole thing on his back if he got really anxious. He jumped in the water and started to freestyle. He’s pretty good and fast with the freestyle, but he’s not perfected breathing yet so he gets worn out so it wasn’t long before he flipped on his back, I caught up with him (we go in separately) and started my roll as “cheerleader” for the race.

He did the swim about 60% on his back and about 40% freestyle but he made it! He took a 10-second break at the end of every lap (we had planned that in advance) and just did his thing, and I think he kinda had fun! Once we got out of the water he stayed with Donnie’s parents and I jumped on the bike to try to catch Nikki and Donnie. I caught them about 2 miles into the 7 mile ride and they were doing great. Nikki was getting REALLY anxious around cars (for good reason) and turns so I took the lead and Donnie brought up the caboose of our train and then she settled in better being able to see exactly where to go by following me but still having Donnie in the back coaching her. She did GREAT.

2015 HSV Sprint Tri R (1681 of 1735)-L

2015 HSV Sprint Tri R (1684 of 1735)-L

2015 HSV Sprint Tri R (1685 of 1735)-L

2015 HSV Sprint Tri R (1675 of 1735)-L

We headed back to transition to start our 2 loops around the lake. She stayed in much better spirits this year, I think partly because it wasn’t as hot and partly because we weren’t in dead last position off the bike. As much as I tried to make that funny last year (Look! We have a police escort!) it was discouraging for her and while we ended up passing some people on the run, she still was disheartened. This year we never even saw the sweeper cop so she started the run in a much better headspace.

Donnie gave her a challenges to meet (catching up with certain walkers) to earn short walk breaks and I would just pour water on her head whenever she asked for it. It was great, she did fantastic. We had Wes meet us before crossing the finish line so he and I could cross as a team and then it was all done!

2015 HSV Sprint Tri (1568 of 1640)-L

2015 HSV Sprint Tri (1574 of 1640)-L

Nikki was the only one in her age group again this year so she scored First Place but I told her that ALSO meant she was the bravest 9yo triathlete in town that day because she took a challenge no one else did!


She also improved last year’s time by 13 minutes and she didn’t even train as often as she did last year because I wasn’t working from home this summer so I wasn’t able to get her out as much as I would have liked.




All in all? HUGE improvement. She moves up to a more challenging age group next year so she’ll have to really work at her speed if she wants to place – but I’m hoping she’ll become more confident and maybe do it alone! That would be awesome.

Either way it was a great day and – as always – a great race. I just can’t recommend this event enough. It’s got a great mix of elites and first-timers so it makes it a super-fun race mood. It’s also got one of the best Race Directors in the business and she stays with all of the swimmers as they go in the water. If you’ll recall she helped calm me down MY first year and she does that for all of the swimmers which is SUCH a great gesture.

Can’t wait to do it again next year!!


Hello To The Next Decade Of Awesome.

I’m 40 today. I’ve been looking forward to 40 since, about 37 probably. My 30s were 1 million times better than my 20s so I’m banking on the same trend for my next decade in this body, on this earth. This body and this earth better not disappoint me in that regard.

There are a lot of things with me that are exactly the same was me in my 30s, but a lot of things are dramatically different as well. I still drink too much Diet Coke but I’m mostly an herbivore in my diet. I still love Harry Potter and reading Young Adult Fiction, but I also read adult fiction and even non-fiction which I hated when I turned 30. I still sleep with a stuffed animal my Dad gave me for my 10th birthday, but I finally stopped wearing his watch. I still have my favorite TV shows that I won’t miss but we no longer have cable. I still don’t really care about makeup or manicures or hairstyles, but I have started dressing up for work every day…and liking it. I still am terrified of large social gatherings with strangers, but I very much look forward to small gatherings of friends. I’m still married to the love of my life, but we have two more kids now. I’m a Mom to three now, instead of one, but one of those children is now a legal adult. I’m still a Daddy’s girl, even after he’s been gone for 6 years. I still am a lover of animals, but we’re down two from when I turned 30 and I still miss them terribly. I’m still blogging here, although less about infertility and pregnancy and more about running and bullet journals.

The one area that is drastically different is the area of fitness. When I turned 30 I hadn’t even run my first 5K. When I eventually did run a few, I had one that took me 39 minutes and I now have a sub 25-minute PR. I am currently signed up for my first 100K while I didn’t even know such a thing existed at 30. I didn’t swim or ride bikes and now I’m a triathlete. I had never uttered the word “burpee” or “plank” and no I got to boot camps for fun where burpees and planks are usually on the menu. My level of fitness at 40 is a million times higher than my level of fitness was at 30 and because of that, I can’t wait to see where I’m at when I turn 50.

The most fascinating thing to me about aging is looking back – not only on achievements I’ve made – but on how many of those I wasn’t even dreaming about a decade ago. I didn’t know about triathlons or ultra marathons when I turned 30. But I had also never heard the words “bullet journal” or “zendoodle” – two words I use daily now. I’m definitely looking forward to pursuing the challenges currently in my scope, but I also hope to discover new challenges that I don’t know to set my sights on yet.

I’m going to spend some time this morning with my new bullet journal (I’m switching to Leuchtturm1917 because their dotted notebooks come in HARDCOVER, I’ll report back after I’ve been using it a bit.) and then I’m going to go for a ride and a run before drifting into work a little later than usual. Then I’m going to eat dinner at my favorite restaurant and be sad my oldest child can’t celebrate with me.

But mostly today I’ll just be happy to be 40. I surround myself with people who prove age is no boundary for adventure, so another year is just another opportunity to be awesome. Another day to set fire to the world with my enthusiasm and spread joy in my community with my endless love for my friends and family. I’ve been beyond blessed these 40 years and I look forward to next decade of achievements.



We took our first vacation in 6 years in May. Part of the reason why it wasn’t a priority before was that the two week-long beach trips we took years ago nearly killed me. Having to care for small children away from home is a giant pain in the ass. Home is where all of the things are they are used to. Getting them used to naptime and bedtime and meal time in a strange place makes no vacation relaxing.

But I noticed in May that even with older children, if you’re the primary caregiver, vacations are still exhausting. I still had to do laundry halfway through our trip, I still monitored meal time and food needs for 3 of the 5 people. I packed snacks everywhere we went and tried to organize schedules so everyone got to do what they wanted. I got up stupid early to take advantage of early park hours just so I didn’t make everyone else suffer through my need to photograph every inch of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade and so I could practice my spells without people being bored.

My vacation was still very much about caring for the family. I did all of the packing for Nikki and Wes, I loaded up the car for the trip and drove halfway. On the day we left I packed everything into the van myself and then when we got home I did all of the laundry from the trip.

Vacations are damn exhausting.

But today? I leave for a real vacation. I leave tonight and come back late Monday night. 5 days of worrying about ONLY myself. No one else will be depending on me for clean clothes or meals. I won’t have to clean the kitty litter twice a day or wash dishes. I won’t have to pack lunches or cook dinners. I won’t have to worry about bed times or leg cramps or nightmares. It’s me and only me for FIVE DAYS. I can wake up and run and not worry about whether or not Donnie has a workout first.

My brother and his wife are flying me to Denver as a birthday gift. They’re flying my Mom out too and we’re all spending the weekend in Breckenridge. I get to see my one nephew that I haven’t seen in over a year (I think? I’m pretty sure it’s been since they came for my 50-miler.) and I haven’t seen my SECOND nephew yet! He was born in January so I haven’t met him yet. I AM SO EXCITED.

Of course there’s still the Primary Caregiver stuff I have to do before I leave. Make sure all the laundry is done. Make sure the house is clean enough that it can be picked up for a showing. Make sure there’s groceries and pet food and kitty litter. Make sure Donnie knows schedules and obligations while I’m gone.

But once I’m on that plane? It’s all him. And all I have to do is make my nephews love me in 5 days. (The baby should be easy to win over, I’ll have to bribe my older nephew with ice cream and candy when his parents aren’t looking.) (Just kidding, Guys!)

I might blog from there, but I’m not sure how the internet availability will be. I’ll definitely be posting pictures of mountains on Instagram. I’m actually doing a 10K on the Fourth in Breckenridge which should be interesting. I ran in Denver when I visited several years ago and it was terrible because they have this weird situation where THERE IS NOT ENOUGH OXYGEN TO RUN. Luckily the ONLY time limit is that I have like an hour and a half to get to the aid station at mile 2.8. Even with no oxygen, I think I can swing that.

See you in the mountains!