Sunday, December 21, 2014

Big Island's Jingle Bell Run...

So... This morning I raced a Christmas tree.  Also a giant present, a man with a holiday wrapped box around his package, two snowballs, and 614 other runners.  In it's 10th year, Penn and Rani Henderson's Jingle Bell 5k and mile have taken over Ali'i Drive.  If you're not running, you're out watching or volunteering.  If that's not your cup of coffee, you're at least drinking coffee at Huggo's or Humpy's watching the action.  Other than Ironman, this is the rare opportunity to run Ali'i without traffic!

It's also the perfect excuse to wear green and red.  The outfits were truly amazing this morning. It was like a parade of elves and Santa, jingle bells, and cool socks. This morning was 2 weeks post Ironman Western Australia and the half way point of my off season.  That means I've surfed more than swam, ridden bike all of two miles to buy bananas, and ran maybe a 5k to prepare for the 5k.  My wake up jog was literally from home to the start line.  And then I was ready.

As with most all athletes, I still have my goals, perhaps as simple as "just have fun".  That was mine, and break an 18.  I missed the 18 by 10 seconds and wanted a redo.  For me, that means I'm perfectly situated in my off season.  Hungry but out of shape.  Motivated but mentally recharging. Having fun without pressure.  Able to lose and not focused on the missed time goal.  

This race is so special to me, as it's put on by the woman who was my main source of inspiration and competition when I started running.  Rani was always (and still is) the girl to beat most every time she puts foot on a start line.  I remember chasing her till I'd land walking from going out too hard.  She has always been so giving of her talents and now her time by hosting this event for Kona town.  

If you have ever been to Kona you know him.  He is a legend in his own way and the host of our monthly biathlon series.  His swim/run events are still my favorite today and were the start to all of this life I now know.  I did one, fell in love with swimming and lacing my shoes, and the rest is history.  He makes sure to attend nearly every single event ever put on, so of course I had to have my moment with him this morning, knowing full well the only reason I was in Australia just two weeks prior, doing what I do now, is because of the launching pad his biathlons were for me.

Top 3 ladies...

And the youth...

Today was so cool in the way that one of the young boys who began the Peaman biathlons about the same time as me is now in high school and ultimately one of the best runners on the island.  Today was the first time in years and years of running against him that he beat me.  He was close to breaking a 17 this morning and its clearly only the start for him.  That's good stuff if you ask me...

Happy holidays and happy running!!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Occupy your territory...

I'll be honest, I was extremely distracted in church this morning.  The waves were loud and it sounded like they were saying my name, also I had my phone with me.  The phone sits in the truck Sunday mornings, except this one. My little sister was running Honolulu Marathon and I was tracking her the way she tracks me every race.  That said, I really haven't a clue what was happening in church except one tiny, tiny, thing that hit me big.  "Occupy your territory". Pretty much, between mile splits and loud waves, I think he was saying we better make good use of what we've been given, where we are, and whom we are with.  We can't be cowards of our lives and their purpose, even when it looks scary and we aren't sure how things will work out.  And sometimes it requires us to be humbled, ask for help, and also to keep on keepin' on because you never know how you're life is impacting another.  Insert: live your dreams, they are our gifts not to waist.

That said, I turned to Kainoa, obviously losing my focus yet again, and asked him what he wants to do today if he could do anything on the island.  We were going to occupy the dreams and desires in his little heart today.  If you're a parent I invite you to try it-tell them, anything!  

He said, "Green Sands Beach, stopping along the way at all the fruit markets, animal spots, and lunch after at a special place". Literally, it was teaching him, for less than half a tank of gas, that truly we can get up, get after it, and make it happen. He had me stopping, backing up, and waiting on the side of the road while he snapped photos of every single animal, tree with signs painted on them, and fruit stand we passed. It was, after all, his day so I worked on my patience while just maybe fertilizing his future as a photographer? A fruit stand owner? Who knows...but we were occupying his territory in this life. 

And then we had enough carrot cake to make my belly hurt and his grin to grow even bigger. Speaking of growing, this week of absolutely no miles swim, bike, or run, I think I grew into my offseason weight before off season is even halfway over!  But no fear, I've got a plan for tomorrow-fill ya in later! 

As for my own occupying of my territory, I am proud to say this is the first off season of my pro career that I am not going to entertain the thought of returning to full time teaching for 2015, but rather be even more of a full time professional triathlete. Kainoa and I have moved into our little, tiny, but super affordable spot in Kona.  We have completely given away, shared, or left behind much of our belongings to start 2015, different...

A few friends have given us so much time, by helping us move, giving us a place to stay the last two months, and even their dishes since we left ours behind. It's been so special to start again and see how much love we have and let ourselves be humbled. And it's been perhaps the best holiday gift ever to see Kainoa so happy and in love with his life beyond anything materialistic. So just maybe I'm a tiny bit uncertain how 2015 will all unfold, maybe I gain some incredible race results or sponsorships to add to the direction my life is going. Maybe part time teaching will remain enough, either way, I'm not going to fear it, we simplified life greatly and will "occupy our territory".

Good night, 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

No swims. Bikes. Or runs...

Welcome to some possibly needed, much appreciated, and perfect timing..."time off". This week will be exactly NO swims, bikes, or runs. Not even a little recovery spin, a floaty swim, or a cruise jog at snails pace. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Think...nontriathlete. But...will make for a better triathlete.  A little mental & physical time off from my grind, my threesome, a passion.  In my 10 years of being a triathlete, well I called myself one before I really was one, just because I did 3 sports, I've never taken a full week off all three. Maybe just the run off, or the bike because I'm too lazy to build it back up after my last race of the season, or maybe the swim off because I got a tattoo that one time,  but this is new territory and I'm loving it...because it's gonna make me better.

I've been surfing, a return to my first love.  It's like riding a bike, it comes right back to you.  But it's not like riding bike, you have to put a little time in to get back in the groove.  That said, moments of laughter were happening out there that had me so thankful I needed a wetsuit top, 'cause I was all underwater like a hurricane.  Thankfully, it was just water...not like a bike crash. 

Hiding beneath the waves, always a nice place to be and one place that truly has me thinking absolutely nothing about triathlon. It's refreshing, rejuvenating, and kind of exciting to be popped out of the back of a wave.  Especially since Hawaii is having a nice Winter swell at the feel alive. Truth is, triathlon makes me feel alive too, so I'm counting on this little time off to make the old goofy saying that I've never liked to hold true, "absence makes the heart grow fonder". So maybe me and triathlon will like each other even more in 2015...

Home in the sunshine. Also working on ridding myself of those hard earned bike short tan lines, then I can earn fresh ones in 2015!! Haha.  This ocean playground truly is making time off triathlon fly by.  I think next week I'll get to add in some yoga, swims to the King's buoy, hikes, and maybe a little spin or jog at snails pace. And ah, our Jingle Bell run is next weekend too, hmm, have to figure out a way to make that a potential snail paced run, er jog.  Because how can anyone resist dressing up in holiday clothes and running a 5k!? 

In other good news, my body has finally stopped being so hungry.  You know how the first couple days after an ironman all you want to do is eat? I did that.  A fruitcake was calling me by first name yesterday, ate that too. It's my time to just listen and refuel without much thought.  This morning though, life resumed to a more clean eating me.  A green smoothie for breakfast. Phew.  It was delicious and I'm already thinking about getting back on the wagon, but no rush, coach has insisted I pack on a few pounds to let my body truly heal up. I'll stop with the fruitcake, soon...

Alright, that's all I have to report on around here. Hope everyone is having a really good start to the season. Bree xo

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Ironman Western Australia Wrap Up

Looking out the airplane window, I'm reminded of how big this world is.  It's 23 hours of travel from Australia to home and that's just a teeny, tiny, glimpse of another spot in the world I've been fortunate to race. Now that my season has wrapped up, it's reflection time on my 2014 journey through triathlon.  But first, how was Ironman Australia?

It was exceptional, the way one can hope to end a good season.  My mirror hung my goals where every day I could focus on them, soak them up, and see them growing into reality.  It's pretty surreal to see, "what you put in, you get out", come into motion.  But it's the truth.  So while it may have looked entirely like swims with dolphins and barefoot beach runs in bikinis, that was just the pretty part. Something Coach Cotter taught me this year, is that you have every right to feel confident and brave on the start line if you have done the work.  It's like our duty to feel that good, we earned that peace. We make these goals, I hang them up, then work for them.  If we land amongst them in training and control everything within our control on race day there is a great chance of them happening.  With all my heart, I went into Ironman OZ believing a 9 hour Ironman was mine for the taking.  That was my race day goal. Of course an athlete always wants to win, but I'm learning that winning happens only sometimes.  Other times girls are just faster, but we can still win against ourselves.  So that was my mission, win my personal race of 9 hrs and see where that would land me. Quick spoiler, I landed 6th with a 9:08. Race day went like this...

The mirror that held my goals...

:53 Swim.  I goofed up around the end of the jetty, admittedly a lack of focus, loosing my draft looking at what I think was a shark.  My focus in long swims is my weakness, coach usually has me count to 3 over and over just to hold my brain in place. The ocean serves up plenty distractions for a girl like me.  I've come a very long way, but once again need to add that to my 2015 list of improvements worth making. Nonetheless, I was thrilled with my swim, coming out near the front of the race. 4:57 Bike. Nailed that one.  We worked hard on the bike and part of me throughout the ride was tempted to go harder, faster, and take a chance.  But the day was going so well, figuring I'd grab my run goal too, if I stayed smooth out there on two wheels. So I hung easy-ish, smart-ish, and patient, focusing on drinks and eats for 112 miles.  3:14 Run.  I must admit it felt awesome jumping off the bike after a ride of holding back, but I missed my goal by 8 minutes.  Humbly, bummed, as I truly worked so dilligently for it in training, was calm on the bike to save for it, and then it just didn't happen.  I've yet to chat with Coach about it since I lack cell service until I land in the States, maybe he has something better to say than me just being slow.  I can't chalk it up to nutrition, poor pacing, or blisters as none of that happened. In fact, I raced in my Zoot teeny, tiny, neon green racing flats and have the best post Ironman feet I've ever had!!  Maybe my body was just not firing off race day magic from a long season, it was my 6th Ironman in 12 and a half months, but I can't even formulate an excuse. I don't feel tired, but I'm first to admit I'm human, and I wanted my 3:06 like a chubby kid wants cookies.

Yay, another strong result this season. 6th place male (Simon Cochran) and female 

That was my beautiful 140.6 miles in OZ, a 9:08 Ironman PR for me and 6th place female. When I raced here in 2012 a 9:08 won the thing and my 9:26 earned me 4th, clearly the competition is getting faster and I'm happy to see I'm growing too.  It truly is an exciting time to be a professional female in triathlon right now and I am so grateful to be part of the rise, hopefully motivating the next generation of girls to, "Dream a little bigger darling...".
"Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside of them was superior to circumstance." Bruce Barton.   

That was my motivating quote heading into the race, as circumstances in my own life needed me to rise above them and dare believe, not allowing heart break and change to derail my dreams. Undoubtedly, one of the best races of my career did result.  Without messy details, it was doors closing and windows opening prerace. The pillars of love and life I had known and rested on over the last 3 years fell down and I knew it was time to let go or fall with them.  When I needed to cry, I let myself cry, when I felt like laughing I did it in abundance, and when hope would happen, I took note knowing, "this too shall pass".  In some little way, Ironman was my new pillar of strength.  It brought out good friends, miles of training to chip away at emotions I would rather not rest on, and it gave me confidence that perhaps, I was lacking without notice. I believe all over again...

Changing my runners for some holiday shoes, woohoo!

2014 triathlon season quickly sums up to this: 
Ironman Cozumel 5th (Nov. of 2013, but counted as my 2014 qualifying year)
Ironman New Zealand 4th
Ironman Texas 4th
Hawaii 70.3 2nd
Ironman Whistler 1st
Ironman Hawaii 16th
Ironman Western Australia 6th
And now, per Coach Cotter, a month off. 

Post race highlights...
Meat pies, purple flower picking, beaches, Fat Duck coffee shop, Taj Burrows house.

More beach after the race, swimming without a wetsuit! Hanging with Bryte, my new Aussie brother at my homestay. Seriously, thank you Townsend family for such a wonderful experience!!

Oh yes, triathlon has opened doors, marveled me in mysteries ways, and shapes so much of who I am.  It has also taken me to places on Earth most will only see in books.  And while all the travel and rich cultural experiences I've come to know are true gems in my life, it is not the extraordinary that makes me smile and ignites me to believe my life is such a blessing, it's the ordinary, little things, that I am most enriched to have in my life.  Like notes from my little sister before I fly.  Hugs from my son.  Being on the other side of the world but texting to a friend back home and laughing as if we are sitting side by side. Kind people, like the Townsends. My beautiful families unconditional support in just being me.  Strangers I meet and call friends all because we shared a bike ride. And green tea wherever I am.  The list goes on, and on, little things...

Last but not least, I have an enormous list of people to thank, for without you I would not have had the season in sport (or life) that I am so grateful to have experienced.  My list includes many, many strangers that have in some way helped me out too, so thank you wherever you are in this big, big world tonight, I'm thinking of you!! My family, you always let me go and do, thanks for never clipping my wings as a kid and encouraging me to have childlike faith as an adult. Coach Cotter, holy cow you put up with a girl who does not use power, analyze or crunch numbers, and is nowhere near the Tri-nerd I should be with my data, yet we make it work out because of trusting what you say, I just do.  Thank you for working with me, you're a genius in helping me jump over hurdles in both training and racing! Bike Works Hawaii, I love you tremendously for being there since day one and allowing me to have you as family beyond sport. Zoot Sports, always advancing what you do with shoes, wetsuits, and sporty clothes, makes it that much easier to make gains where it matters.  Thank you for giving me all I need to train and race from head to toe.  Ceepo Bikes, my dream machine on two wheels, it helps being confident and comfortable for 112 miles, thank you for providing me with my trusted bike and your constant encouragement. Splish swim suits, thank you from the bottom of my heart for making pool swims easier to manage,  I admit to liking practice some days only so I can wear something fun and funky from you! Rolf Prima Wheels, mahalos for my light and strong training and race day wheels, both of which I have grown to depend on over the last two seasons. Cheers to you coach Steve of Kona Aquatics, truly a legend and I'm lucky to learn from you in and out of the pool. Bioastin Hawaii, I am so thankful for all the green you add to myl life, for without you id struggle to wake up and go again, and again.  Brooke and Nick, thank you!  You took Kainoa and me in the last couple weeks and have been the best part of our days, love you guys and the yoga! To the home stays this season, the Townsends, Greyhound in Texas, Liz, Listel, truely you became family away from home! It was a blast sharing meals, sharing laughter, and having a sense of belonging far from Hawaii. I love each of you and know my races were better for what you made possible for me.  Tammy, Marianne, and Katie, I think of you has my three angels, the ones that are always there, yet I'm the only one who knows how you're blessing my life.  Thank you beyond words for the massive roll you play in my life.  Kawika, you crazy fool, thank you for moving me out of my house during Ironman Hawaii and literally picking me up when my world fell down, putting my stuff in storage, and making me focus on my sport, you were right, it got better! My training partners, what a blast, truly life is better shared and I'm better for you!! Dea, Mog, Sal, Keish, I will always think of this special year as our year!! Kona Aquatics and anyone else I shared miles with around the world, thank you, xo. Odin Wilmont, Junko Sheilds, Denice Murphy, you are the best back cracker, joint fixer, ART person, massager, actupunturer team in the universe!! Unbelievable we made it through such an incredible season injury free! Thank you for taking such amazing care of my body. Wendy and Stacy, you are truly my sisters and I adore you for helping with Kainoa and my life outside of sport. Thank you for girl talks and prayers. My Kainoa, thank you for keeping me humble, balanced, and passionate all because of your smile. Jim, for helping with Kainoa when I travel, makes it easier for me to be away knowing he has a great father! Mike, you have been a huge part of my sport and life, thank you for being on the sidelines for me and in the game for the time we shared over the years leading up to this tremendous season. And though our relationship came to an end this year, I still appreciate the help you gave me and even cheering for me on my last race of the season.  I bet you miss my stinky shoes, though.  Crossfit Kona, I'll be back! My season began with you and I know it helped build up strength to last throughout the season, thank you so much for my muscles!! Okay, I hope I mentioned all the support I've been given, my apologies if I forgot anyone, truly no help has went unnoticed this year, like amazing flight attendants, great servers, and volunteers in each and every race!! Oh....and you, my friends that actually take the time to read this!! Thank you so much for being a part of this journey.  And God, thank you too... But you already knew that. 

Driving on the left side of the road was much easier this year than previous visits to Australia, but I confess to knocking over a rubbish bin, driving on the right side, and not waiting my turn at the round abouts.  Laughter indeed filled every inch of me to the point we pulled over a few times to resist peeing our pants.  I already want to return to OZ.  But no thoughts of sport are supposed to entertain me till after a good mental and physical recharging of my batteries. My battery recharge began with plenty of meat pies today! I feel like chubby wee at the moment and am enjoying it until coach gives me the green light to become fit again. Okay, let the holidays begin!  Of course sport will always be within reach, I'll just be giving other parts of life more attention.  So much love, Bree

And the final awards podium of the season, we all look so sad for a bunch of fast women Sunday. I need to work on that podium face and not hiking up one side of my dress, hahaha! Thank you Ironman Western Australia for another great event! Volunteers, you outdid yourselves for us and I appreciate it tremendously!  Little town of Busso, see ya again, of that I'm sure...

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

G' Day Mates...

The difficult part has been survived yet again, as it always is. Never gets easier saying goodbye to Kainoa, but once the plane lands breathing comes more natural.  It's always a blessing, I remind myself, having this pro triathlete dream a reality, as it involves opportunities many will only imagine in their lifetimes.  But it's unglamourous to me not having the ones I love most to experience it with me. Perhaps that's why I'm indulging in Instagram and blogs, to share in some tiny capacity.  

Looking through all the airplane windows it took to land in Australia, I was gently reminded that we are truly a sum of all our experiences.  The broken hearts, the sharing of perfect moments, hard laughter, silent tears, love, fears, and everything in between.  They are the reason we are strong and weak, the reason for how we succeed when we should possibly fail, and the purpose for things we can't explain. I can feel my sister Brooke with me so deeply on this trip, maybe because I've been taking her yoga classes more frequently and she has this passion to love herself like no other woman I know.  It's teaching me to do this journey for myself, for once.  That's been a struggle all my life, always wanting to do for my son, or a loved one, or supporters, but through her I'm finding you are only better for all those you love, and the world, if you are first better to yourself.  She would know, she nearly lost her life torturing herself with self hate.  A recovered eating disordered victim that survived only because in some moment she decided to like herself...more...

So this being my first travel across the seas, without the pillar of love I once stood on, and my newly mended broken heart, I am happy.  Happy to be here, soak it all up for myself, and race for me.  Because I love this.  So much, and now is a time to rewrite some pages...

Back in beautiful Busso, I'm comforted by a little town I loved so much a couple years ago.  So many great memories came flooding back, including breaking my foot at at mile 15 of the marathon.  What a brilliant memory to run through a relive...that brokenness heals and you can still go on I even in pain.  That said,  I am so excited to race again, yet so calm and patient for Sunday to arrive.

I'm staying with a little family that perhaps serves as the perfect reflection of Aussie people. Truly giving, outgoing, and fun. The home reminds me of pinterest in real life, in fact I've been snapping pictures of project ideas I want to create once I'm back home! Including this giant dream catcher hung above my borrowed bed for race week.  I slept more peaceful than I have in a while, making me a new believer in the dream catchers!!  And of course, the sunsets remind me I am never really that far from home and just across the ocean is where I'll soon return, but until then...enjoy the moments...

Bree xo