Friday, October 16, 2015

Traci Feezell, You Are An Ironman!

A couple years ago I was training for my first half Ironman.  I remember thinking there is NO WAY I could ever do a full.  I mean, who could swim for an hour and a half straight, bike for 8 hours and finish off the night with a full marathon!?  It was just so much bigger than me, and slightly out of my reach.  But I put it on a shelf in the waaaaay back of my brain.  Then I did that half Ironman.  And I knew I would NEVER attempt a full.  That was just way too hard, and miserable.  But I found myself doing a 2nd half, and again cussing it and knowing I would never do a full.  Until the drive home from the half when I started googling Full Ironmans.  Really, Traci?  Not even hours later?  I was dreaming of the infamous Ironman tattoo.  And that folks, is what made me consider a full.  A tattoo.  I'm not even the tattoo type of person, but there is something about seeing people with the M Dot on their bodies, proving what they had been through that made it appeal to me.  Shortly after that, Ironman Louisville announced they were going to move their Ironman from August to October.  What a lot of people don't know is how hard it is to register for one of these things.  Not only do people pay un-godly amounts to participate, but many have to volunteer a year before just to have a chance to register before it sells out!  Louisville was the exception.  Because it was in August.  90 degrees, 90% humidity.... shoot me now.  I knew I would never do that to my body.  But the second they moved it to October, I knew there was no escaping a 140.6 mile journey.  So the day after the 2014 Louisville Ironman, Jen, Cori, Maribeth and I all sat down and nervously registered for our first Ironman.  $800 later, we were all completely in shock of what we had just done.  Four months later, in January, we officially started training.  10 long months of putting our family second really started to wear on us... husband and kids especially.  But we just had to keep grinding, knowing we were only helping ourselves feel better on "the day."  Sick?  Doesn't matter, you have to train.  Tired?  Doesn't matter, you have to train.  6 days a week, 20 hours a week.  It was long, and it was hard, but I can tell you it paid off, and we were perfectly trained.

Ironman Morning:
My alarm went off at 3:45am, after not really sleeping hard the entire night, even after taking many sleep aids.  I was glad to finally get out of bed and start this day.  I couldn't even picture what it would look like, but I knew once I jumped in the water my nerves would disappear.  I met my buddies in the hotel lobby at 4:15, and Johnny drove us to transition.  It was about 4:40am and transition didn't open until 5:15, so we sat.  In line.  There is a line for everything at Ironman!  We numbly sat there, kinda cold, making small talk with people around us.  But we were all in positive moods - the first major step of the day.  We got into transition, put last minute things in order and air in our tires.  Then we started the 3/4 mile walk to the swim start.  Once we got there we go body marked and started our walk, probably another .5 mile to the end of the line.  And there we waited again.  Cold and numb.  And it was still pitch dark.  Jen Sieve and Sasha showed up and helped lighten the mood.  This was pretty much their role the entire time.  We had no idea they were coming to Louisville.  They surprised us the night before (and so did Jen's brother, Scott)!  It was exactly what we needed to lighten up and enjoy ourselves.  We heard the gun go off at 7:30 and then it seemed like a sprint to the start.  We were walking on a wet sidewalk, yet no one had been in the water yet and it hadn't rained.  Ohhhhhh, pee.  I could smell it and was disgusted, but hey, can't beat 'em, join 'em.  So I did.  At one point Cori looked at me and said, "Hey, you're pee is splashing me legs!"  No sooner than we could get our swim caps, goggles and ear plugs in, we were jumping off the docks!
4:15 am, ready to hit the road!

Swim line with our awesome support, Jen and Sasha!

Swim start.
The Swim:
We felt like we were pretty far back in the swim line, but apparently we were near the beginning because we were in the water at 7:40am.  It took until about 8:15am for everyone to get in the water.  There are two docks lined with people jumping into the water about every second.  Once you jump, you better start swimming or you will get jumped on.  The water temp was a perfect 69 degrees.  For the first 1500 meters or so, you swim up river in a small channel on the side of an island.  Then once you get past the island, you make the turn to complete the remaining 2700 meters down river.  I can tell you that I never really felt a current either direction.  I felt a tiny bit in one spot on the way up, and then again at the swim exit.  I was glad Louisville does a rolling start instead of a mass start so people are a little more spread out.  However, I thought this would decrease my chances of getting mauled.  It did not.  I had people dunking me, kicking me, hitting me, etc.  So I kicked and hit back.  It's what you do.  It seemed like we were in the river for quite a while, and I couldn't see our pace since my watch was in triathlon mode, but we finished in 1:21.  That is a little slow for us, but what we didn't know was the bigger picture.  You see, our friend Cori just taught herself how to swim, and had consistently been around 30 minutes behind Jen and I for this distance.  But not on October 11th.  Cori came to play, and we joke that God blew her down the river, because she finished in 1:32, only 11 minutes behind us!!!  Of course we didn't know this until we were on the bike, but I can't tell you how proud I am of her overcoming her biggest fear, and bringing her PR for race day!
Swim start - it was a little foggy.

You can see swimmers swimming up river on the right, and then down river on the other side of the island.
This is the swim finish.  You can't even see the swim start, but it's way up there!
The Bike:
After grabbing our T1 bag and heading into the changing tent, we spent a mindless 14 minutes changing clothes and getting ready to head out for the longest part of our day.  The volunteers are very helpful in the tent, basically doing all your thinking for you and getting you dressed.  We grabbed our bikes and hit the road.  The first 20 miles is flat, and we have read many articles and tips telling us to take it easy here, you have a loooong day ahead of you.  I could see how easy it would be to push it here, but Jen and I just kept saying to keep a nice easy pace, and we did.  We ran into Maribeth along this part of the course too, so it was nice to check on each other and give good luck wishes.  When we go to the out and back I was a little nervous.  This is where they say all the bad wrecks happen and where the 2 horrible hills are.  I purposely did not ride or drive the course beforehand, because I didn't want to know what was coming up and let my mind get off track.  The out and back was beautiful!  The trees were awesome and there were rocky cliffs going down to the river at the bottom.  The hills were not bad at all, and that gave me hope for the rest of the day.  Jen had some chain/derailer problems on the out and back and we had to stop multiple times to fix her bike.  Still not sure why it was acting all funky.  We saw a pretty nasty bike wreck and it looked like the guy may have broken his neck.  Still want to hear how he is.  An ambulance passed us on our way out.  And Jen said, "Hey, did you see Cori?!?!"  I didn't but it was an awesome feeling to know she was safely out of the water and not far behind us.  We continued on, stopping for a couple of minutes at a time to let Cori catch us.  But we didn't know if she ended up getting stuck behind that ambulance and how far that would set her back.  So we decided we would wait to see our families in LaGrange to see where she is.  LaGrange is an awesome spectator town that did not disappoint.  Loud music, crazy people, and most importantly, our family!  I was sooooo excited to see all their happy faces!  They yelled that Cori was right behind us.  Once we got out of the crowd and away from the bike marshals, Jen snuck a phone call to Johnny to see exactly how far she was behind us.  FOUR MINUTES!  So we pulled over at an intersection and waited for her.  She started screaming when she saw us, scared the guy next to her!  And then we were all a bit silent and choked up.  We get to do this thing together, exactly how it should be.  I knew we were going to finish.  I don't have a lot of details about the bike other than the hills weren't as bad as people made them out to be, we nailed our nutrition, we spent a ton of time at the special needs bike stop eating potato chips and waiting in line for a porta-potty, we got to see Maribeth quite a bit, and seeing our friends and family gave us new life just when we needed it.  We finished in 7:12, which was a fabulous time in our minds.
Lap 1 - LaGrange
Lap 2 - LaGrange with our friend!!!
Maribeth - kicking ass and taking names!
Finally off this bike, so happy to see family!
Smile says it all!
Giving love to our people!

The Run:
Once we got off our bikes, we all knew there was no way we wouldn't finish this race.  The bike is such an unknown.  You could crash, you could have flat tires, so much can go wrong that can end your day.  But now it was just our feet and the pavement.  Our friends and family saw us out.  Sasha was holding a sign that said, "You think this Ironman is hard?  Try growing out bangs!"  I swear, it's the little things like this that give you a boost.  Our kids were beyond excited to see us, and our husbands were proud.  Our goal was to run to each aid station, grab nutrition, and walk for about .1 of a mile.  We only had to do this 26 times and then we were done.  Our families were partying with a neighborhood around mile 6.  We were all in good spirits, and we even got a shout-out from the DJ at the party!  "Throw your hands up, Jen, Cori and Traci!"  Again, something small, but a huge boost for us.  We turned around and got to pass our families again.  Then they left to go grab our bikes and gear bags and load the cars.  They made it back to mile 13 to cheer us on again.  This was right after we ran right next to the finish line and had to turn for lap 2.  That mentally hurts, knowing you still have another 13.1 miles.  Bad course design in my mind, but it did give us a preview to how awesome it was going to be to finish.  Lap 2 was a little harder than lap 1.  It was dark now, just like when we started our day many hours earlier.  Our stomachs all took turns feeling nasty.  Our bodies were stiff.  Our feet were barely leaving the ground.  But we never stopped.  We never let our minds fill with negativity.  We each chose a person to pray for every mile.  It felt good, it took our minds off what we were doing, and it kept God close to us.  We were getting a little delirious, but not bad.  We were hitting our nutrition, even when we didn't want to.  Everything sounded nasty, even water.  But we kept eating, drinking and licking salt (to keep our electrolytes up).  After dark they hand out warm chicken broth.  It was actually pretty good.  At one aid station I was searching frantically for the bread bowl I heard a volunteer offer.  I was so excited to eat real food!  Turns out she was yelling Red Bull.  I could have cried!  One of my biggest fears going into this was the fact that I would be missing FULL MEALS!  I'm an eater, and I don't miss meals.  I did get hungry a few times, but just ate Clif bars and potato chips to take the edge off.  We were moving pretty slowly around mile 22, but we were still sticking to our run/eat/walk plan.  Most spectators cheered us along saying we had great smiles and a great pace!  When we got to mile 25 Jen's brother, Scott, was there.  He was the final push we needed.  He was telling us how awesome we were, how strong we looked, etc.  The best part was watching him sprint to the finish line to beat us there!  Once we turned onto 4th Street, we could see and hear the finish.  It was magical and surreal.  We ran down 4th Street, high-fiving everyone near us, smiling, and sprinting to the end.  We went single file so we could each hear our names being called out.  I missed mine though.  Couldn't hear it over my loud screams!  I was so excited.  We finished!  Alongside each other!  Our run time was 6:03, for a total time of 15:15.  This is about 45 minutes faster than I had planned for.  I am an Ironman.  And that is something no one can ever take from me.
Run start
Cutest fans out there!
Well, these ones are pretty darn cute too!
Mile 6 - so happy to see our families!
It's a long day for them too.  They were out there ALL.DAY.LONG.
Maribeth, doing her thang!  This was also her first full marathon and she killed it!

Still smiling - even though it's dark!
Jen Spellman, you are an Ironman!
Traci Feezell, you are an Ironman!
Cori Ingram, you are an Ironman!
My favorite people in the world.  I wouldn't have been able to do it without them.

My lower back, feet and quads were a little sore the next day, and my quads again the following day.  But I've been way worse off after a hard class at the Y.  I didn't catch up on my sleep until yesterday, 4 days post race. 

I owe this race to God and my support.  God was with us the entire process.  He knew all along that we would finish, and finish together.  The weather was perfect, and honestly our entire race was perfect.  Exactly what we had wished and prayed for.  My friends are my strength.  I couldn't and wouldn't have even tried this without them.  My family is ready to have me back.  They think clean clothes and hot meals are important.  I am so blessed that I got to do this race with my husband and kids watching me.  It truly meant the world to me that I could depend on them and get strength from their smiling faces.  Will I do it again?  No.  Am I glad I did?  Hell yeah!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

6 Weeks Until IM Louisville

This is my blog, so I can say what I want, hehe.  So sorry if this comes across very snotty.  First things first.  I have to start out by saying that it drives me bonkers when I tell someone I'm doing a full Ironman and their response is, "Oh, I signed up for that Wipeout race (or glowstick run, or bubble run OR WHATEVER)."  I'm pretty sure they can tell I've tuned out of the conversation after that.  It also amazes me at the few people that actually know what an Ironman is.  Many think it's a marathon and can be used interchangeably.  Let me clear the air.  An Ironman is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and then a 26.2 mile run.  Yes, all in the same day.  To be exact, we are starting at 7:30am and have to be finished by midnight or we get a big fat DNF - did not finish.  Ouch.  So basically, we have 16.5 hours to complete this race.  But it gets a little fuzzier than that.  The Louisville IM uses a rolling start instead of a mass start, so roughly 2 people start at a time.  So, depending on where you are in the starting line can determine how much time you actually have to finish that day.  They say they can get everyone in the water in 45 min.  So the last person to get in the water only has 15:45 to finish on time.  Needless to say, I will get my happy butt up as close to the front as I possibly can!  I need as close to 16.5 hours as I can get!

Training has been getting real lately.  We basically have 1 day off a week.  The hardest part was getting used to being completely fatigued from the workout the day before, and knowing you have to do a workout that day, and the next day, etc. no matter how you were feeling!  We know how important rest is, as well as nutrition.  We signed up for this IM a year ago in August.  We have basically been training since January.  It is a lot of work.  And there are summer vacations, and illnesses, and family matters, and wrecks (more on that later) that get in the way.
A typical month of training.  September will be our hardest month before tapering.

About a month ago Cori got in a wreck while crossing some wonky railroad tracks.  Poor girl got a concussion and was out of training for a week.  It was scary for us all.  Fast forward to last week.  5 of us head out for our first century ride (100 miles).  One of the girls started to go off the edge of the road and overcorrected into me and it was basically a domino effect.  I like how she says it best, "I ate shit and took down all my friends with me."  It was pretty horrible, and very scary.  But we were so lucky there wasn't any traffic going either direction or that crash site would have looked a whole lot worse.  When the wreck happened we were in a formation like the dots on the 5 side of a die.  Basically, girl #1 overcorrected into girl #2.  Then girl #3 ran straight into girl #1's bike and she crashed.  Then girl #4 actually ran over girl #1's body and then she crashed.  Girl #5 was lucky enough to avoid it all.  Poor girl #1 ended up with the most injuries.  She had some really nasty road rash, but worst of all she broke her collar bone in 2 places and fractured it in 3 places.  She had surgery this morning.  Cori hit her head again, but luckily it wasn't that bad this time.  Jen got a mild concussion and we all got nasty cuts and bruises.  It shook us all up.  A lot.  My hip got bruised pretty badly.  I was lucky on the road rash, barely had any.  But my ribs are still hurting me pretty badly.  I got them x-ray'd and nothing is broken, but OMG if I move wrong, breathe too deep, sneeze, blow my nose, laugh, hiccup, yell... IT HURTS!  Pretty sure I tore some of the muscle away from the rib bone and the nerves are getting pinched.
My hip a couple of days after the wreck.  It still has a huge knot on it but doesn't bother me anymore.
Bad news is there is a possibility it will still be hurting on race day.  I've had people ask me if I'm still going to do the Ironman.  Remember how much work I said this was?  And I didn't mention the cost, but the time and commitment alone are insane.  There is no way I would stop training.  Even if that means my ribs don't get to start healing until October 12th, those are just the cards I was dealt, and I will get through this.  Once a person truly commits themselves to something this big, it is just devastating to think they can't compete that day.  There is a chance I won't finish on time that day, but God willing, I will give it all I have.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Baseball 2015

This is Booker's first year of kid pitch baseball.  Last fall, he decided he wanted to be a pitcher.  Dusty and I were both a bit nervous for him to take on this position just because he can get so down on himself and let his mood ruin a game.  But, he truly showed interest, so we signed him up for some lessons with our good friend, Marc.  Marc has been so wonderful with him, and started him off with the best mechanics to build on.  So far, Booker has done very well on the pitcher's mound and it's so exciting to watch!  At bat, Booker started off at practice hitting quite a few balls.  Then, in the games he went into a slump.  He didn't hit a ball for 5 or 6 games in a row!  Then we just drilled it into him that we would never be mad at him for striking out, and he's striking out anyways just standing there, so SWING!  And since then, he's 9 for 9 at bat, only getting out once with a pop fly.  And he's had 2 infield home runs!  It's a lot of fun to watch and I love to see him get better with each game.

Bodey is in his 3rd year of machine pitch.  I really hope we can keep this little team of Cubs together because they are just so darn cute.  Not only that, but they are really starting to click and play some baseball!  They have matured so much in the last year.  Coach John was shocked at the first practice and said, "Holy cow, my team can catch and hit!"  Night and day from last year.  The last two years combined, Bodey probably only had 5 hits.  This year he is averaging 1 to 2 hits a game!  He has also pleasantly surprised us with a few fielding plays, getting kids out at 2nd, 3rd, and home!  I love watching this little team grow together.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

We Let Him Turn 9!

First we took Booker and 7 of his friends to play Laser Tag.

Jaegerz made him a cake.... the boys polished it in no time!

Pretty darn good group of kiddos!  Can you tell it was bright outside?  :)

Then we came home and shot some hoops, rode the go cart and ate pizza.

He got royally spoiled by all of his friends.
Time for some ice cream.
Of course he had to over-do the chocolate and sprinkles!

And, they all spent the night.  Supposedly, they stayed up til 3am.  And they were up playing air hockey at 6am.  For 8 boys, it could have been a lot worse.  They were all good kids.  Just loud.  But boys will be boys!  And all the parents relieved me by 10am, praise the Lord!  :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Winter - March 1st, 2015

This is all we got this winter.  Sad.  But we made the most of it!  Good thing we did this at 9am, because by 11am it was all gone!
Booker and his buddy, Sam.

Bobo the angel :)

February 2015

Monster Jam was in town!

Bodey had a bit of a tough season in wrestling this year.  I really hope he'll stick with it and try at least one more year though.  But now that his brother plays basketball, we'll see!

Finally made it tubing in Weston!

January 2015

We got to go to the Royals Fanfest and the boys got Jeremy Guthrie's autograph!