Monday, May 15, 2017

All in a year

Today officially marks my one year anniversary of being retired from triathlon.  I decided to write (bring the blog that only my mom reads) back into bloom...

There we are, Liz, Jen, and I after Ironman Texas 2016. Ironman Texas 2017 just wrapped up (I felt it my duty to stay awake till the midnight finisher).  So now it's super official that I made a year as a normal girl, with a normal job, and a normal life.  Just kidding...I'm still completely wild at heart, I just spend more time grading papers than picking out sports bras.

All in a year I became a First Grade teacher, got a boyfriend, stopped riding my bike and swimming all together, started riding my bike and swimming again (1-2x a week), ran a 50k and won the thing! Spent more time playing Legos with Kainoa, decided to go for my masters, and the biggie-begun training for a 100 mile race.  The 100 mile race is actually the reason I am bringing the blog back-to collect moments wrapped up in words that serve as my reminders of where I've been.  I kept my blog for triathlon all 8 years and it has been one heck of a beautiful trip down memory lane to go back and read.

Here's how this whole super long run thing started... My little sister was training for a 100 mile run. (I thought she was insane-kinder choice of words than what I feel like writing!).  But then her and the hubby got pregnant with baby #2 about the time I was handing in the pro-card and facing a life many retired athletes face, "What next?"  I knew post career depression is a very real thing and I wanted to avoid it at all costs.  So I quit triathlon all together, even tried to sell my beloved bikes and threw myself into my classroom.  Until my friend Stover asked me to go for a run. A few runs later we landed at a 10k I'd always wanted to race but couldn't with my triathlon/travel schedule...Pu'uWa'awa'a, my favorite little slice of paradise. It was brutal.  Straight up the hill and then down the hill.  My true to form style of racing came back to me-out too fast, hold on, survive to the finish line.  I had missed racing so very much.  But I didn't cry. Instead we made a goal.
We were going to sign up for the Hilo to Volcano 50k!  I'd never run that far, my little sister was once the defending champ who wouldn't be making it back to defend her title with the new baby, so I decided I'd run it for her.  Little did I know I'd land absolutely loving the journey it would take to run up hill that far.  Many night runs after work, 4am runs before work, and long weekend runs that took us all day began to change my life in ways I didn't see unfolding.  I was falling in love with running, my friends, and Mikey (more on that later).  But most of all I was loving sport in a way I haven't loved it in a 

very long time. It was no longer a place I went to escape my life. It was no longer a place I went because it was my job and I had to.  It was no longer the way I made ends meet. And it was no longer defining me.  I was not my result-winner, loser.  I was just a First Grade teacher that liked (loved) to run. Sure, I miss the traveling, all the countries I was so fortunate to experience, and the many wonderful people who became friends over the years.  But I needed to lose something that took up a big space in my heart to remember how I first came to care about it.  Mikey, Stover, and I just kept running.  A lot.  And I decided I did not want to stop.  In fact I wanted more.  Something and someone soon began to take up space in my heart where I only let triathlon dwell.  It was me-I was going to set this HURT100 goal into motion because I felt the passion to do so strongly it certainly must have been placed there as my gift from God (I always believed the things we love most in this world are gifts from above).  And it was him-Mikey.  I took a full year off dating to make sure I was clinging to God while figuring out what exactly to do with my life and to put all my attention on Kainoa. When I least expected it there he was.  I mean, it's not like he was new to my life, we met almost 8 years ago and have been friends ever since. But he was a triathlete!  You know I don't date them, they shave their legs, count calories, get fixated on Strava and other gadgets that tell them how far they ride bikes, and they rarely have time for anything other than swim, bike, run. I didn't want to be close to anything or anyone that resembled my former life.  Except he just kept running with Stover and I.  And then he started to get all supportive of my 100 mile dreams and patient with my transition away from triathlon (almost like I was redifining myself).  
The thing he did though, was set me free.  He was helping me realize that who I was and who I am is the exact same girl.  My heart still beats the same and these passions that move me will never, ever, go away. I'll always be wild at heart.  And then he showed me how to swim and bike again without letting it consume me.  Which lead me to doing my first triathlon in nearly a year (3 wks ago!).  I'm not going to lie, I was super nervous to toe a start line again.  Not because of what people would say or to put myself back on a bike.  But I was afraid I'd be sad if I was slower.  That I'd compare my old times to who I am now.  Or that maybe I'd regret my decision and wish to go back to being a triathlete. None of that happened.  I played a two piece bikini. I was much slower. And winning felt different.  You know what changed that day?  It was the way I felt about myself.  As if I was doing exactly what I'm meant to do with my life and enjoying it.  All the changes, the new dreams, they are helping me thrive (you know I'm scared to become complacent-ever!). And even more special, I'm sharing it with someone that I feel is with me for the very beat of my heart and not any accolades or titles that once defined me.

What's next?  Stover has me convinced to run Kona Marathon in June with him, (he's the Hilo Marathon champ and wants to have a crack at both titles this year).  Of course I agreed, I have yet to run it and always wanted to.  In fact it was the first ever race I began training for way back in 2003-but I ended up doing the half.  Now I get my turn.  Like the weirdo long distance runners we've become, we decided next weekend we will just go run the entire course-for fun!  It's been a blast having my entire focus on HURT100 yet jumping into these local run races on a whim. Like Mac-a-Thon 10k a week after Hapalua Half Marathon, which was a week after Lavaman. I know!  3 races in 3 weeks, but that's my style-dive in head & heart first!
Hapalua was not was once one of my more glamorous races.  Attending is always an honor that I hold with massive gratitude, being able to represent Big Island, so I ran as best as I could on the day and settled for a belly flop.  The highlight though, was being on Oahu!  Home of the HURT100 course.  It was pretty special to finally set my feet on the course.  HURT100 will happen January 13-14, 2018.  I don't even know if I'm in yet!  The entire experience is so new to me.  I'm used to working my butt off and qualifying for races.  You get in or you don't based on your results.  HURT100 is totally different.  It's a lottery system.  I mean you have to actually complete some Ultramarathons to even be considered (which I've done 1 and have 2 more on my map coming this year).  You don't get in just because you win anything or have a bunch of experience.
You enter...wait...but keep training as if you are in because should you get in you can't fake 100 miles.  I've truly been enjoying the journey, should I get in it would make it all that much sweeter.  I've gotten up to a 41 mile run so far and feel better than I have ever felt about running down a dream of mine.  It's just so exciting to be part of something bigger than my shoes have ever attempted.  And to even go after something so extreme that the finisher rate is less than half the starters. I know it's one of the most difficult races in the world and that's why I want to run it, I have never been one to shy away from adversity or difficult experiences.  In fact I thrive when life holds just a touch of chaos.  In the wise words of Bethany Hamilton, "I don't need easy, I just need possible".  I guess that's about it. I'm still finding time to swim with dolphins, (though it's not on week day mornings like it once was). Summer is roughly 5 weeks away, not that I'm counting, maybe I am just a little.  I can hear the trails calling me and runs further than I drive in a day teasing me to come play.  I'll keep you posted on the journey to 100 miles as honestly as I can, like all the poops and pees you take in bushes.  Thanks for reading (if you made it this far).