Sunday, November 11, 2007

What happens at H2H stays at H2H...

H2H - Haney to Harrison - 100 km road race - solo or 8 person relay.

I had done this a couple of years ago with some friends and had fun so while we were all still on the high of Stormy I suggested we should do H2H.

The response was overwhelming! In the end we had enough for 4 teams and what a blast we had.

My team - Team Focawee did a pirate theme that I am sure everyone noticed us especially with our mascot Ratly the pirate rat and the Silver tooth with pirate flag and Firdie Focawee our Parrot attached. There was also The Sweat bandits and The ambulance Chasers and I never did catch our 4 team's name. I have to say though the Ambulance Chasers had the most impressive finish with their final runner - my husband running his leg in a hospital gown as it is worn in a hospital.... It was quite a sight to see.

The party afterwards held by BC Athletics was too much fun with lots of dancing among other things. Suffice it to say - alcohol, sleep-deprived runners and cameras are always an entertaining and slightly frightening combination.

We all made it back to our cabins safely and while a little rough around the edges the next morning we finished off the weekend with a rousing round of Koombaya (spelling?).

I am sure Harrison will not soon forget the likes of us.

We will definately be back next year bigger and better.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Never Underestimate the power of a Princess.

Some events have happened over the last few days in my family that made me reflect on how we all have inner strength and how we can choose to harness it and use it to accomplish things, to fight even when it seems so incredibly hard or unfair or we can choose to - for whatever the reason - not, sometimes with devastating results. This time it was okay...

So in the aftermath I thought about all the women I know and how far we have all come and evolved over the last few years as people and athletes. How at one point or another we have all reached deep within our selves to find strength whether to finish a race, a class, face a medical issue, a sudden family loss, break up or the end of a freindship.

It seemed like the right time to talk about Stormy and a friend who's inner strength and determination truly amaze me. Cynthia - aka Princess - is a lady that I met while training for my 2nd marathon. We run, train and co-coach half marathons together and co-founded the How Bad Can it be club.

For those that know Cynthia - she is a princess - she will be the first to admit it. She must color coordinate (but only in shades of black or grey), hates getting her shoes dirty, does not like dirt, will run for 4 hours but refuses to walk more than a block for her breakfast, only stays in Boutique hotels, and will run into the middle of a busy road rather than straight through a mud puddle. I have been known often to yell at her - Suck it up princess! But don't ever underestimate her - she is a fierce competitor, loyal friend and is incredibly giving. She was the one that tagged the phrase: " It is all a big whatever. Really, how bad can it be?" I always tell everyone if Miss C says that phrase just turn around and jog home - unless you are prepared for one heck of an adventure.

How bad can it be? - started getting tossed around a year ago when Miss C started talking about the "Double". The double is an award that you win if you ride the "Test of Metal, Yeah" 65km Mountian Bike race and then run "Stormy Ultramarathon" along the same route a few months . There has only been one woman to successfully complete both - a friend of ours, Rachel. Cynthia heard about this and went I can do that - really how bad can it be? Cynthia is a mother of 2 in her 40's with a full-time executive job. She started canvassing and working on us to do the Ultra with her. Vicki - our local mountain woman and 20 something friend took the bait right away - the rest of us sat back and nodded but none committed. I even went so far as to register in a Half-ironman as a way to get out of it - a fat load of good that did me...

Her first task was the mountain bike race, Cynthia needed to actually successfully register as the race sells out in a matter of hours. So there was a good chance that we would all be off the hook. But nope Cynthia stayed up the night before registration, logged on at midnight and got one of the coveted spots. That was it Cynthia and Vic were doing Stormy, but wait it would not be 65km they lengthened the route to 80km . The race was changing so they couuld have a 50 miler and a 100 miler. No way in hell was I running 80km - Cynthia's response - Really How bad can it be? But Istood strong - no! You and Vic have a great time.

Cynthia completed Test of Metal and her and Vic started training for Stormy in earnest. I happily continued training for my little race thinking I had dodged a bullet. But wait there is a relay option - you could put in a relay team. Again I laughed and said we will see fully intending NOT to put in a team. I heard about Stormy it was a brutal trail race - brutal trails, no bathrooms, aid stations few & far apart, people collapsing in the middle of nowhere because they did not have enough nutrition, and OMG bears - I DON'T LIKE BEARS-but darn it I must be honest my curiosity was tweaked and I hate being left out. NO - definately not.

So I gathered the troops and was able to convince 6 other ladies into forming Team Focawee. We would each run a portion of the race beside the girls for moral support and ensure they finished and Cynthia won the double. As usual I naively thought that 7 legs -80 km - 10"ish" km each right - WRONG. After looking at all the legs and distances and knowing how far the other ladies usually ran I ended up taking 9 mile hill - 23 km of fun. Besides 9 mile hill it was also the cutoff leg - the girls had to be through there by 3:30 or they would be pulled of the course and unlike my race they would not be allowed to say whatever and keep going - it was a safety issue. Yep I would be picking them up around 47 km- 6 or so hours in to their race - good times. Really How Bad could it be?

We had a team - now to train. I went with the girls to run my portion as a training run. 9 mile hill was definately a hill but this is not so bad. We got to the top, and onto flatter trails yes I just needed to watch out for rocks, roots and such. It was quite nice and then we hit the plunge- "Power House Plunge" or what I refer to as 40 minutes of pure hell - double black-diamond trails switchback on a steep downhill. This is where the term I run like a girl came out - I was awful - worse than awful but what was amazing was how the girls flew down the trail. I was in awe - still am. That day took us 5 hours to complete the 23 km plus the hike in and out (about 10km). It was good though because it made me realize the enormity of the task my 2 friends were going to do and how they really would need us plus Cynthia had ridden this course and at times had to carry the bike on it -shoot this woman was strong. It also made me realize that we all needed to invest in trail shoes, more hills and we had all better go and learn our portions. So without scaring the girls so they would drop out I made some suggestions.

The day of the race was epic! The girls had 12 hours to finish 80km in the backwoods. The relay team had their marching orders - stay with them on your leg, try to keep them on pace but in the end let them set it, make sure they eat and drink and last but not least keep them moving forward - NO STOPPING they must always move forward. I need them by 11:00am - 11:30 the latest, I need 4 hours. I was not there for the start of the first 3 legs but by all reports besides a minor fall by Cynthia they were going strong - almost too strong. They were ahead of schedule. Leg 4 seemed to go a lot slower - this was the one leg they had not run before and apparently it was nasty. We were there at the exchange to wait for them. When they got there they looked strong but you could tell they were tiring. We gave the girls hugs and we yelled we love you and watched them go. Then we zipped off to my exchange point to wait.

Cynthia's husband and the rest of our friends - the Shaunettes and others showed up. Everyone knew this was the do or die leg. They all kept asking me how are they doing - I was like great but they need to be here soon. Rick - Cynthia's husband pulled me aside and said really how is it? I was like Cynthia has gone down once, small cut on her knee. He was like no - time wise I was like they are making it interesting I wanted 4 hours now I have less. Then all of the sudden they were there and it was time - get their socks on- grab some potatoes - restock thier water and other fluids - grab more gels and such okay we really have to go. 3hours and 40 minutes - shoot this was going to be tight.

Off we went and it was the most amazing time I have spent with them. Those girls never stopped - Vicki suggested a quick "sit-down" at one point but I grabbed her arm and quietly talk to her till the moment passed. I kept a brisk pace and made sure I had one in front and one in back at all times. Keeping an eye on my watch and both of them. I quickly realized that I was not going to use the word run - they were not happy with that word right now. I would use the word shuffle alot - the rules was flat was downhill and we run all downhills but at this point the girls were having none of it so we ran when they wanted to run and briskly walked the other times. Ten and ones were used now as a way for me to monitor what they were eating and drinking. The race organizer said no matter what make sure they eat. If they get sick does not matter make sure they eat again as soon as possible. Thankfully they did not get sick - but I had to coax them a lot to eat.

My favourite moment was when Vicki says to me probably 5km into 9 mile hills - 'This is Stupid" - I was like a little late for that now hon. Cynthia just smirked and kept moving forward. During this whole time CYnthia just had this look of pure determination - she never stopped moving and did not even try to negotiate for a quick "sit" down. She just kept moving forward. Finally at the top we started to run the pace was actually not too bad considering the girls had been out there for over 7 hours and again Cynthia led the group for the most part. She was just consistent and I let her set the pace my goal get us to the Plunge as fast as possible so the girls could do their thing. I figured if we got there with 30 minutes they would be okay. As the trail got more technical I fell back but not as far back as usual.

I came around the corner as they were going into the plunge the girls took off but then I came around the next corner and I could see them ahead stopped. WHAT ARE YOU DOING - RUN!!! You have 30 Minutes GO!!! Vic called back we want to make sure you are okay - god I love them - I yelled back I will be fine - 30 minutes to cut-off GO!!!! So off they took and I quickly lost sight of them. I also knew that I had to move it now to because I did not want them to stop at the bottom. Adrenaline is wonderful - I booked it - at least for me - down the trail and just chanted the whole way down - do NOT fall - not today. I came out at the base of the trail and looked at my watch 7 minutes to cutoff - the girls were no where to be seen so I knew they had made it but I also knew they would probably all be standing their waiting for me to finish so the pressure was still on. Just over a 1km uphill to the exchange point - so I started running as hard as I could and came around the corner screaming go!!!! Three minutes to cut-off go!!! But cripes Cynthia and Vic are so darn stubborn they stood there and refused to leave till I got there and then Cynthia grabbed my hand and said come with. You have to do the last leg but I was spent and told her honey June will get you there go - I will be at the finish line - see you in a couple of hours - you are amazing - you did it you won the double!!! I quickly grabbed June and said they are tired but spirits are good - don't let them stop we will see you at the finish!

I watched them leave and then exactly 2 minutes later regretted not going. Everyone else was like they will be okay June is with them you got them here. Still I was like please please keep them safe and get them to the finish. I knew how tired those girls were - cripes I had only done 23 km and was exhausted I could not fathom how they kept going- it was amazing. So we loaded up all the crew and headed for the finish line to wait. As soon as I got there I grabbed my chair and went and sat at the entrance to the last 100 metres and just stared. I was willing them to get here and get here safely. As the clock got closer to the mark I started walking along the path towards the trail head and all the other girls on the team joined me. Then we started calling out their names - I was hoping maybe they would hear us calling them and know they were almost done.

To see the three of them come out of the trail was amazing - it took everything I had not to cry. They had done it! The team surrounded them and we all ran to the finish line - I am sure it was a spectacle to see. The picture on the blog is all of us at the finish line. We then opened champagne and got our medals. The best was watching the awards and hearing that Cynthia had wonthe double for 2007! She had done it - she was not the fastest or the youngest but she had finished the race and won the double!

Afterwards I talked to June about her leg - and asked her what it was like. - She looked at me and said that darn Cynthia - remember she said it was a nice easy switchback - how bad could it be? I was like yes- well at one point I am going down this trail and I turn to the side and see a guy rappelling beside me! INSANE - I am so glad I did not go on the last leg but really June got through How bad can it be?

Cynthia may be our princess but as the title says NEVER underestimate the power of a Princess. Her strength amazes me and I count myself lucky to be her friend.

Stay strong.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Oh my aching quads!

Well I can actually walk and run again with minimal pain, my quads are starting to feel better. Last Sunday instead of going for a run Vicki called and invited me out for a hike. At first I said no but changed my mind.

The hike was to be the Lions which is in my backyard and I have never been up there. The Lions are two side by side mountains on the Sea to Sky Highway. It was going to be one of the last clear days this year and well my border collie - Bishop- would absolutely love it! Plus it was a little shamefull that I had never been to the top and I lived at the base of the trail head.

So after thinking about it some more I decided that me and the dog would head up with Vicki and the girls (Cynthia and Tanis). How bad could it be? It is only a mountain!

We got up bright and early on Sunday, packed our bags with water, lunch, gels, extra jackets, gloves, camera and such. The hike was to take about 7 hours there and back. Now let me preface this by saying I was born in the Prairies, flat land, some minor hills... I am not sure what I was thinking. I know I am going up a mountain, there will be an uphill and there will be a downhill but as usual my brain blocked out these facts so that I could happily trundle along to the point where reality kicks me in the ass and I now MUST face the fact that I am climbing a bloody mountain which means I must come down same said mountain.

This is all significant because I suck at technical descents on steep terrain. In the words of Vicki and Cynth - "I run like a girl". Seriously I do not have the mountain goat gene, so as we continued up the trail and then did a detour to go to Harvey instead of the Lions I grew concerned. As the trail became steeper and kept going up the dread continued to build.

The top was amazingly beautiful - I took lots of pics. The view breathtaking so much so that for a while I forgot about the trip down.

The trip down was my own personal battle with fear. Thank gosh for Vicki - she stayed with me the whole time as did my dog - even he could sense my anxiety. Cynthia and Tanis ran all the way down - bloody mountain goats! I worked my way down, slipped a few times, had a mini-panic attack that Vicki talke me through. We finally got to the main trail head and I was so relieved - I felt horrible for the girls that I was so frightened to the point at times I wanted to sit down and cry.

With Vicki's help and encouragement I got down to the bottom. So now being me I am going to have to go get some hiking boots and go up again next year because I am determined to improve. It is just like when I started running, started swimming and started cycling - back of the pack, but that is okay I know me with some practice and my incredible stubborn streak I will improve. I believe Vicki when she says that is all about practice and technique, it will take a while but you can count on it one-day I will run down that darn mountain!

Right now I am just thankful my quads have loosened enough so I can go up and down my driveway with minimal pain. One more thing checked off the list of How bad can it be?


Friday, October 12, 2007

Victoria with my pal Victoria!

Last weekend I went to Victoria and ran my 3rd full Marathon and I have to say that this one was the most fun!

I had not planned on doing a fall marathon and only decided – actually that is not quite true to decide means I had a choice in the matter – to do this race in August. Why was I doing Victoria? Because two of my gal pals had decided that this was to be their first full.

Actually for my friend Victoria (aka “Vic the awesome running machine”) it was technically her second full but that is a whole other post I will do in the near future. Kirsten one of my clinic grads and now close buddies decided after some minor teasing that she was going to do a full. OMG was all I said when she told me she had registered. I tried to explain that we were teasing her but well she is young, spunky and apparently overly impressionable. So the dye was cast the gang was going to Victoria to do the full.

The morning of, my roommate for the weekend, June, and I headed down to the start line 3 different times. The first time we headed down to see Kirsten off for the early start for the full marathoners, second time was to see off all our friends in the ½ marathon off, and third time we went down with Vic for our start.

The three of us started out together running a nice easy pace myself I had no time goals what-so-ever I would finish when I finished. I was here to run with and support Vic in her first “official” full marathon and to make sure I got one of the free beers that were rumoured to be offered on course! June was shooting for a Boston qualifier and quickly left us to go after her dream.

Vic had been suffering from a foot injury/issue the last couple of weeks and had to stop on a couple of long runs so there was a concern as to whether her foot would hold out. She had been having treatment and said it felt 100% better and on a few short runs felt great. I was worried, but kept my concerns to myself. We agreed that we would start out slow and pick up the pace as we went the goal was to get her in for 4:30 but in the end we would take it as it came. Neither us needed to prove anything today.

Things went great for the first 28km or so we were laughing and having a great time pace was strong, sun was shining, and the km were slipping by easily. At 28 Vic decided to pick it up I told her go for it and I would see her at the finish I was in no hurry and was enjoying my conversation with Teresa from Leduc who was struggling a bit but still in good spirits.

About 3 to 3.5 km later I came upon Vic and she was walking, it was not a scheduled walk break and thought to myself oh no her foot. When I caught up to her I said hey lady you missed me so much you had to slow down? But one look at Vic’s face told it all she was hurting and she probably did not miss me.

If you ever have run a marathon you all know that things ALWAYS get tough or go wrong around 32km. There is a saying out there – (I know this is not exact) but it goes something like – 20 miles of running 6 miles of hope. That last 6 miles is always the toughest and for Vic it was definitely hers but she did me so proud and was so inspirational.

It turns out it was not her foot but her lower back/hip. Probably just a carry on from the foot. If you ever have run with pain in your lower back you will know it can be unbearable. Desire and determination were written all over her face it was not about time it was about finishing.

Vic never stopped moving forward it was so inspiring. It had changed from a nice clear sunny day to a deluge or rain on us and then the wind came. This marathon was throwing everything it had at Vic but she was not to be bested, she was going to finish it and she did – 4:57 and some change. I was so proud and honoured to cross the line with her.

I did not get to see Kirsten or June finish but Chris our friend who had ran the ½ was there and let us know that Kirsten had finished strong at 5 and a half hours! And while June did not get her Boston qualifier she did a personal best. Oh and about the beer well it truly was a fairytale weekend for all! I got the very last free beer on the course and it was just as good as I thought it would be.

Peace out


Monday, October 1, 2007

Ugh - the pool

Well as part of my quest for Ironman 2009 I have registered along with my hubby for Oliver Half Iron next June. (Gulp) To say I am a little anxious is the understatement if you read the first post you would know that my last attempt at a Half Ironman was less than spectacular. The whole thing did not go as I planned but the swim was the start of the unravel.

As a kid I loved swimming and thought I was pretty good at it. I took lessons, I was a volunteer lifeguard at the local pool and I swam all the time. Okay so I did not swim in races or with a club but I was in the pool or a lake constantly.

When I started doing triathlons I was not that concerned about the swim except to make sure I could swim the distance constantly without stopping and that was how I trained. Go to the pool get in the water and do lengths constantly equaling the distance for the race 3 times a week makes sense right – apparently not so much. I came to realize this when I entered a woman’s only triathlon and came out the pool I believe 102 out of 104. I recovered on the bike and run but this is where I discovered that there is more to swimming and that I needed help. I can swim forever I am just slow which I have now learned is because my form SUCKS. I am not very good so the big thing is going to be work on my technique so that I can finish before cut-off. Ironman is not going to let me say that is okay I am just going to keep going if I don't make cut-off so I need to get this sorted out.

Last fall I joined a Master’s and as expected I was at the back of the group. My goal at that time was to try and stay with the group but most importantly get to a point where I could swim 2km in under an hour. In a pool I can finish 2 km around 55 minutes open water still up in the air because the small allergy/asthma attack I came out at 1:07 – gosh it looks awful in print – so who knows if I can do it in regulation time or not but I now know I must always carry my inhaler and use it before swims. (Apparently they are not just to fill the bottom of my purse.)

I have been swimming once since the Iron Mountain Tri, preferring to ignore the sport for now and hope for a miracle but now that I have registered for Oliver I am forced back to the pool. I am optimistic that I will improve - we have a new coach and she actually interacts and provides advice and I do not seem to have lost too much fitness as I was able to stay with the group most of the time.

I am considering registering for private lessons but after talking with others I am not sure it is the best use of $ now I think a Stroke analysis clinic might be the way to go. It is all very ambiguous and confusing I did however renew my inhalers and promise I will start to use them – honestly- I did put them in my swim bag yesterday.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The original running pal- Joycie

In the last post I mentioned that I ran/trained with friends. Back when I first started running , I thought it would be a one-off half marathon and I would go back to my carefree days of beer-league softball, golf and couch potato channel surfing.

If you had told me in 2002 that I would not only have run that half but gone on to run a couple of fulls, start coaching others to run, and planning an Ironman I would have told you, you were insane. Well to be honest I still say the Ironman thing is insane but that is no reason not to do something anymore.

Along the way I have had the distinct honour and pleasure of running with lots of truly inspirational people and have formed some fabulous friendships. One friend is Joyce - my first true and oldest running pal. She was the only person I think that noticed I was even in that first half marathon clinic.

In my first half marathon clinic I was the slowest person in the clinic for a number of reasons but mostly due to some plantar fascietis issues. The clinic group would head out for the workouts on clinic night and the long runs on Sundays and I would watch them quickly disappear off in the distance and then settle in for a run where I would beat myself up for being so slow and would almost always turn the wrong way and get lost leading to me having to run longer than planned distances because I was trying to find my way back to the store. The one good thing about this was I got to learn downtown Vancouver and got over my fear of asking for directions.

Then one Sunday as I was settling in for another long lonely run one of the ladies turned around, saw me and started to jog back to me. When she got to me she introduced herself and said she would run with me. I told her that it was okay if she wanted to go with them since I was quite slow and did not want to hold her back. Joyce said oh no I am relieved that you are here they are way too fast for me. Was she just being kind - I will never know but I was truly grateful for the companionship and conversation.

We had a lot of fun getting lost together in the trails during the training for that first race and I cannot think of a better person to have run my very first half marathon than with Joyce. This is the same lady who I like to say "tricked" me into running my first full as well. As I was working through my foot issues she continued to progress to running full marathons, being a group leader for clinics and eventually even changed careers to become the assistant manager at the Running Room.

Without "Joycie" I know I would have never finished that first race, definately never would have done a full marathon, been invited to run with the gals when I came back from injury and I most certainly would not be where I am now - starting to implement a 2-year plan for Ironman. So I guess you could say it kind of is all her fault...

Thanks for turning around that day Joycie you showed me that running is not just about finishing but it is about supporting each other and can even be fun!

Peace out


Friday, September 28, 2007

How it all all started...

How it all started? How did I get from a Softball team (an excuse to drink- team name Thirsty Camels...) camping weekend to planning to do Ironman in 2009? It is a pretty convuluted story but suffice it to say it can always be explained by the tagline - How Bad can it Be?

My name is Shaunene - I am known by most as Shaun. I set this blog up to share a little about my journey to Ironman but mostly to introduce you to some truly fabulous women I run and train with and possibly inspire a few of you to get off the couch and do something. My friends and I come from all spectrum's of life and all age groups some of us are faster than others, some of us are beginners, some are in their 20's, some in their 50's, some only run 10km, some do Ultra's (50km and over) but the one thing we all have in common is that we like an adventure, a challenge, to push the envelope, and to have a whole lot of fun while we do it. Oh and we never, EVER unless it is physically impossible quit! It is not about the time or where we placed it is about finishing what we started, supporting each other and inspiring each other to be all we can be, looking at task and saying How Bad can it Be? and then learning that it was pretty bad but we survived and then finding the next event or adventure and doing it all over again.

So you have heard that there is more than me here there are a group that is constantly growing and I hope to convince them to either allow me to introduce you to each of them through this blog and get them to share some of their stories and accomplishments by posting them themselves or me writing about them.

So to give you just a little taste of what I hope the spirit and tone of the sight will take I am sharing my story from my First Half Ironman - what I now fondly refer to as the "9 hour incident"

Maple Ridge Half Iron Mountain - the report.

So this is going to long winded but I need to put it down just because it has been a very emotional 24 hours and maybe this will cleanse my spirit.

If you go to the website and look up my name (Shaunene Neilson) it will read DNF (sniff) and officially I did not finish in the allotted 8 hours. I however, being the stubborn .... that I am did finish in 8hr and 50 minutes and got a medal to boot.

I woke up yesterday morning filled with anticipation today was the day after almost a year of training this was it.

The swim - the distance had been corrected from last year to properly reflect the 2km - but no problem I had been swimming 2km in the pool at least once a week for months now and I had recently been doing open water swims in my new wetsuit of the same distance so it was going to be okay. Within 5 minutes into the swim I was in trouble - I could not catch my breath - I thought okay I am freaking just calm down and you will be okay but nope it was not that I just could not catch my breath. I sounded like a 60 yr old 200+lb asthmatic man walking up a flight of stairs. So I thought okay calm down think! Flip on your back do the back stroke so that is what I did - good plan right - well sort of - I forgot to spot from behind so after I did an extra 600 metres I did eventually finish.... well behind the rest of the group but I was like it is okay you finished it, put it behind you and get on your bike. (turns out today I have a great hacking cough and some chest congestion)

I was not worried about the bike except for the weather component - did I forget to mention it was raining - not a fine mist - but a nice steady down pour - but no biggy I have ridden this course every Saturday for weeks (excluding the last week) and owned it. I know this course and had completed it in 3.5 hours previously in 37 degree weather so I thought bring it on. Well as I got to the first hill it was like lead in my legs - I had nothing, zilch, nada, zero and I thought ***** this is going to be a very long bike ride. Now why did I have nothing? Well you see instead of doing what I had done through out training and practicing I changed it up based on a friend's advice. This friend has done IRonman and a whole bunch of half Iron's and said oh know the day before the race just have a good breakfast and then soup and a bun for dinner. So that is what I did against my better judgement and knowing I was hungry all day the day before I the instructions to a tee and now here we are with dead legs starting out on a 90km hilly ride. Well no time to whinge just get it done. So I am going through the ride and thinking cripes could it rain more and then it did - it rained so hard it was bouncing of the pavement and then it rained harder, so hard I could not see out of my glasses (clear) and the wind - did I mention the wind - but this was good because I was so cold that everything was numb and therefore I could not feel it. Lots of fun careening down a hill at 40km thinking I should slow down and my hands refusing to work (LOL). So eventually I finished the bike ride and I am proud to say that not once did I stop or get off that bike - not once. At times I am sure I could have walked faster than I was pedaling but I stayed on that darn bike till the bitter end.

So I am thinking bike finished and now for a "quick" 21 km when the race organizer, comes up to me and says it is 6 hours in and I don't think you can finish the run in 2 hours so I am giving you a DNF and we are not going to let you go out on the course. My first thought - 5 hours on the bike - holy cr*p I new I was slow today but that is pretty bad. Then I looked at the organizer and looked at my husband and apologized quietly in my head to my husband for what I was about to do and said okay so I will show an official DNF and he said yes. I said well I am still going to do the run - I need to do this to prove to myself that I can. He was like but my volunteers will be leaving the course in 8 hours - you understand that- there will be no-one out there - that is okay I have a map in pocket I HAD to do this to prove that I could. He was like I can't stop you but you won't get a medal. Whatever it would just go in the bottom of a drawer with the others - no biggy - this is personal I don't need the medal. I turned to my husband and said I am going out, I am getting a DNF but I have to finish this - he being who he is said - okay and a few other things that did not register finishing with a get going.

It was at this time I noticed a bunch of friend from my past clinic I coached along with my friend I coach with standing there. Even more reason not to quit now - they had all driven out to cheer me on so off I went and my legs felt pretty good. So I am running down the road and 2 things happened I hear foot steps behind me and I am thinking cripes it is the organizer he has changed his mind. But nope it is my friends Cynthia and Vic and there are like hey girl we thought we would come out and see what running in the Ridge was like mind if we join you? At this time I shared my conversation with them about the DNF and told them that I would understand if they wanted to turn back to which they were like look we came out here to run and we need to do the mileage anyways so lets go (they are getting ready to do an 80km in 7 weeks) so off we went. Aren't they the best? Then it gets even more amazing at corner I can see a bunch of people yelling and sceaming with pom poms, pink hair and pink shirts - Pink is my fav color. It is more friends and past clinic grads and their shirts say (LOL) the Shaunettes - I just about lost it! Absolultely freaking amazing - god I love these ladies! And at every corner and volunteer station there were the Shaunettes - inspiring.

So we are running and I am getting pretty tired but my spirits are up from all my friends they know the score and are still out supporting me. On our way back I am fully expecting to see most of the volunteers gone and the aid stations packed up and gone but no worries with the traveling Shaunettes and their buffet of assorted sports food and bevs it is all good. But wait the volunteers are there with the Shaunettes - apparently they were calling ahead to each station saying you have to see these supporters they are out for the last girl on the course and so they A - wanted to see the Shaunettes (a few even stayed and rode in the car with them) and B) apparently refused to leave until they saw the crazy lady who refused to quit. I told the Shaunettes to tell the rest of the volunteers that I wanted them to get out of the rain and go home -I know the score and they have had a long day, we had lots of nutrition and a map and well the Shaunettes what else did I need. So then - too sweet - at each station there was 3 little glasses of gatorade and 3 little glasses of water on the side of the road.

Finally we are turning the last corner and heading back to where the transition would have been and am I just relieved that it will be finished when I notice that besides my husband, friends and the Shaunettes there are a bunch of other people - the volunteers and the race organizer. CRAZY! Joe, my husband, said they had just finished packing the truck when the Shaunettes had called and told him I was less than a km a way so they had all decided to stay! AMAZING.

I was so tired that I just sat on a log and started to cry when the organizer walks over and hands me a medal and says congratulations - Ridiculous! Joe says that apparently when the volunteers heard I was not going to get a medal they rallied and talked to him. One of the volunteers said congrats what is next? I was like this is it - I was thinking Ironman but after today - I don't know and then he did the sweetest thing. He came up to me and kneeled in front of me and said listen this is one of the most challenging hilly routes and the conditions were as bad as it gets (did I mention the thunderstorm during the run) and you finished it you HAVE to do Ironman. I said I will think about it but right now if I could have one of those ciders the Shaunettes are holding and asome of those potato chips I would be in heaven.

SO that's my report - it was not pretty and I know there are those of you who will say but you did not finish it in regulation time so you really did not do it and you are of course right. However for me and my friends and family I did it! I did it for me and that was all it was ever about - to prove to myself that I was not a quitter and that I could do it and I am okay with that. Will I do Ironman? I really don't know - this was incredibly hard but surprising physically I am feeling pretty good - better than I did after my first marathon. Mentally well I am working through the gamut of emotions - so I think another half iron needs to be done - this time I will hire a coach and not change anything the day before the race and we will see you - never say never - really How Bad can it Be? Lastly you never realize how special your friend, family and volunteers are and I am just thankful and grateful for mine - they truly are amazing people.

Thanks for reading.

Shaun - unofficial Half Ironman.