Monday, June 16, 2008

$1.3 million for the kids

My favorite weekend of the year has come and gone and once again it was a huge success. For the last 12 years I have been involved with the Easter Seals 24 Hour Relay for the kids. Originally as a runner and team captain and the last 8 years on the planning committee as the Volunteer Coordinator.

The event is a relay that goes along a 4km course for 24 hours. Teams register and hopefully have at least 15 - 20 runners that take turns running or walking the course while raising money to send kids with disabilities to camp at no cost to their families. I know how important this is as I have a nephew who used to go to these camps and it was the highlight of his summers. These kids are amazing and the camps are astounding allowing kids to rock climb, canoe, and a zillion other things while hanging out with their friends. It shows them that they can when often they are told they can't.

The weather was perfect and pretty much all of my close friends were involved in the event in some way by either volunteering time or running laps - it was awesome. Especially when we are able to run as much as we do - to be able to be involved in an event where running gives back to others is great and I know for me reminds me how truly blessed I am.

My soul is replenished and I am so inspired by the kids.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

June Bug and her great Edge to Edge adventure.

This past weekend I was in Tofino, on Vancouver Island to watch some friends - June (aka June Bug), Cory, and Carmen run the Edge to Edge marathon. June was going to try and qualify for Boston. Cory was recruited as her pacer and Carmen just wanted to run the course because she never had.

The Shaunettes did a costume change to become the June Bugs and entered in a 5 woman relay team so that they could run and cheer. I got to do my first official stint as a cheerleader. What a great time - it was so much fun to actually be the one cheering and I now know why the girls love to do it.

We headed over on Friday and after a few wrong turns (or lack of) we finally go to Tofino where we had rented a house for the weekend.

The actual marathon is from Tofino to Uculet along the Pacific Rim Highway. In the first 10 km they actually run along the beach for about a km and then back to the highway and the view from the beach is stunning.

Since my foot was still tender from the race the week before I made the uncharacteristic rational choice to become the June Bug relay team's official Sherpa and Kirsten stepped up to run my leg and hers. Which she did a blistering time in - I totally expect at 2:05 or less from her on her next half marathon.

When we got up in the morning I started to laugh - must be race day - it is raining but it was still warm and the incredible wind of the 2 days prior was no longer there. There was some anxiety about the start since there was no timing chips only gun time until we realized that with relay and full there were just over 200 people running and the start was across the whole street - they could pretty much all hold hands and cross together at the same time (LOL).

I can tell you now that that race will never be the same - we were in full costume with june bug attenaes and shirts, cheers and music the only thing missing was the megaphone. We yelled and screamed for everyone and drove down the highway honking and blasting the stereo. At each aid station and port-a-potty we would jump out yell June Bugs in the house and start dancing. The relay hand off was marco polo style - incoming runner JUNE outgoing runner BUG and away they would go. June, Cory and Carmen said they could hear us for about a km before they would see us and it made them run faster everytime. Eventually other people started asking us to cheer for friends - can you yell for my daughter - sure what is her name and so on and so on.

People had mentioned that this would be a tough course to qualify on but we were optimistic that June could do it. The first 35 km seemed pretty mild and June was in good spirits - everyone had mentioned that there were some hills near the end into Uculet. Around 35 km is where they start we knew that it would be the time for June to dig deep so we made sure to get out and really pump up the energy. She was still looking strong and the hill did not seem too bad. We thought that it was just one big hill but no as we started driving it it was like holey cr*p this is brutal - 7km of hills and not little ones either, not rollers, I mean hills. This is where I was truly glad that I was not running this marathon and I love hills but this was too much.

We raced to get the other car and to the finish line to make sure we were there for when they finished so they had their stuff to shower and change into. They looked utterly amazing and strong finishing the race which is a very steep downhill. We then waited for the final June Bug and Carmen who had fallen back because of cramping. Everyone finished and there were times were great.

June and Cory 4:23, June bugs around 4:33 and Carmen around 5 hours all great times on an extremely difficult course. So we will have to go to Portland in October now so that June can qualify there which she will definately do on that course.

For me that was my best marathon ever - really it is much easier and you have so much more energy when you are driving the vehicle.

Peace out

Shaun - aka June Bug Sherpa

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Best day ever!

Best Day Ever.... June 1, 2008 Oliver BC

I do not know where to even start - I guess with last year.

Iron Mountain Triathlon - Whonnock Lake, Maple Ridge June 24th 2007 11 113 Shaunene Neilson DNF (unofficial time 8 hour - 52 minutes and some change)

5th Annual Persona Oliver Half Iron Triathlon June 1 - 2008 200 200/317 F 37/55 W4044 769 Shaunene Neilson 6:46:31
Yeah baby!!! Okay details - oh the details.

It is best to start with the week and a half before the race - I have been riding with a group up Cypress on Wednesday nights.
The second to last Wednesday I was out for my final Cypress ride before the race when my chain started skipping. Any time I got out of the saddle
to accelerate the chain would jump and not to an easier gear! This was not good but I thought better now then on the race course. Took the bike into first shop and they replaced chain and cassette but it still was not fixed. Then the anxiety started to build - really hard to race without a bike. However I am blessed to have a father-in-law who is an accomplished rider with lots of friends who are accomplished riders and mechanics so I put the bike in their hands and prayed. However being me I did set a back-up plan and my guardian angel - Judith - from my riding group offered to lend me her "old" bike - we are the same size so it would be a good fit and it had been to Ironman so it had the aura. So while still anxious I put it to the back of my mind and continued following the training and taper plan - either way I would have a bike in Oliver.

Saturday morning I woke up and peaked out the hotel window to see that the first wave of "Shaunettes" had arrived safely. Then got a phone call and the second wave had all members picked up and were on their way to Oliver. This was going to be good. After some quick hello's and hugs - the girls went off for their winery tours and Joe - my husband and I got our gear together to do some warm ups in preparation for the next day. My bike had been pronounced ready on Wednesday and besides a couple of brief rides I had not really been on her - and during those rides while the chain did not jump it was hard to go from big to little in the front without a lot of grinding and I had 5 flats in 2 weeks, but I changed out the tire, new rim tape and then Joe found a rough patch on the inside and sanded it down so hopefully it would work. I worked on the gearing over and over till I was able to do it pretty smooth - not perfect but after the ride I decided I will use my bike - and hope it all works out, I would not use Plan B - Judith's bike.
The day was gorgeous and the warm up swim, ride and run were great. And yes I ate constantly - not like last year - constantly and a water bottle was in my hands at all times - there would be no nutrition issues this year. At the runners Expo I got to meet Michellie Jones - and she signed a poster for me - she is gorgeous and very gracious - I was so excited to meet her that I was beside myself. I said to Joe - wow this is a sign - tomorrow is going to be good.

Fast-forward to Sunday morning. After lying in bed awake from 4:15am I finally could not take it anymore and got up at 5:45. RACE DAY!!!!! Looked out the window and started to laugh - it was raining - not a little rain but a nice healthy rain - but after last year I was prepared - I had brought my running jacket and a cycle shirt with sleeves. Joe on the other hand had only planned for sun, but I told him it would be fine because unlike Vancouver it would still be warm - and it was. Across the way were signs in the Shaunettes windows - How bad can it be? Got Medic? (Joe is a paramedic), Pink Power - go Shaun and I could see lots of movement in the rooms. No time to chat but we beeped the horn to let them know we were on our way. Joe and I grabbed our race bags and I zipped back in and got the Claritin (no allergic reactions in the water this year) and off to transition we went.

Watching the elite swimmers was amazing. Then all too soon it was my turn - okay calm breathe slowly - shake it out. My plan was to start at the back but in the centre. Cindy who I ride with said don't go to the outside just hang at the back and do your thing. And that is what I did. Swim time 51 minutes and some change. I was very happy with that - not the 45 minutes my swim coach wanted but better than last year's 1:08. Transition 1 was a little slow because I stopped to use the port-a-pottie and then because of the age group I had like a km jog out of transition with the bike.

The bike ride was FANTASTIC - average time 27.2 km/hr!!! And I even made myself slow down because for one I was trying to get my heart rate down to 75 - it stayed in the 80 - 85 range pretty much the whole ride and I kept thinking easy girl - easy you got a run ahead of you. The course was great - total time on the bike 3:13:56. YES I had hoped for 4 hours. And my bike - well she was awesome - I knew as soon as I clipped in and hit the bike computer that rarely works and it was reading that we were going to be okay. Plus I smoked everyone on the hills - it was great - on the second tour up Black Sage hill there were some spectators hanging out and I was cruising up singing in my head to myself - "I feel good, dana dana dana da. Like I knew I would, dana dana dana da, I feel good...." And all the sudden this lady yells - way to own that hill girl. It was awesome. At this time I still had not seen the Shaunettes besides right after the swim and was thinking hmmm did they get lost? Ah well I am sure they are out there. And then coming off the highway for the last time I could hear them and what a sight they were - all dressed in pink skirts and a pink shirt for my father-in-law - signs, pom poms, megaphone it was just the pick me up I needed for the last push back to transition. Some other people asked if they would be on the run course because they really needed their energy and I was said oh yeah they'll be there.

The run started out great I was just humming along - a little warm so I kept grabbing 2 waters at each station one for my head and a couple of sips from the other on. The Shaunettes were out in full force on the run course - I still did not know where Joe was but then I saw our friends Jeff and Lynn and they were likely holey he is maybe 10 minutes ahead - right - now it is time to get down to business. So I was beatering along really enjoying the course and being energized by the Shaunettes, volunteers and other spectators when I thought shoot need to use the bathroom again so I stopped and had to wait for 5 min grrrrrrr - shoot Joe is gaining more time. Came out of the porta-pottie and picked it up on the run to make the time up and then it happened with about 6km left... my right ankle went out - shoot no biggy normally a couple of rotations and zip back in she goes but not today - darn it and then there was Joe- what is up? My ankle is out - now I don't know why I didn't but I should have just dropped then and he could have popped it back in but C'est la vie - I let him go on and continued to "Suck it up". However I also slowed down - run time 2:28:28 - prior to the ankle I was on for a 2:15 time - grrrrr.

Then there was the finish line and at this time I knew I was doing good - I knew that my time was better than last year but I really did not know. I came in with 2 goals - finish in reg time - hopefully 7 - 7.5 hours and beat my husbands time on the bike. To look at the clock and see 6:46 was almost too much - I kept going but I started to cry. I had done it and I had done it with an exclamation mark! I was going to Penticton this summer and I was registering for Ironman 2009!

I am still on cloud 9 - I can't believe that it went so well and to have my friends and family there to share made it so much more special. I am really blessed to have such a great support network - I love those girls with all my heart - they are amazing athletes and better friends. My father-in-law and his friends at Cloverdale Cycle - Noel and Tim who slaved over my bike to get her ready when everyone else said she was done for - thank you - again truly blessed. Having my mom at the finish line was extra special since she has never really seen me race before. She looked great in her Shaunettes shirt! And of course Joe waiting there - I did not catch him he finished in 6:30:54. And NO I did not get him on the bike either - grrrrr - his time 3:13:54 - ARGGGHHHHH 2 seconds are you kidding me????- next year.....

So there you go - I am an OFFICIAL Half Ironman!