Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Challenge of a Lifetime

Hello friends!
Here I am signing up for the Arizona Ironman 2014!

You may have heard of my crazy endeavor for 2014.  I am going to do my first full Ironman to help raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in the fight against all blood and bone cancers. 

Short story: Nearly a dozen Oklahomans will train and cross the finish line of the Arizona Ironman 2014 in an effort to raise $200,000 for the GO MITCH GO Foundation, an Oklahoma-based non profit to fight against Leukemia and Lymphoma. 
The "Go Mitch Go Foundation" was created in honor of Mitchell Whitaker, a Bethany, Oklahoma native that died of Leukemia at age 10. His last words were "keep fighting." 
After my first half Ironman in 2011


Long (personal) story: In spring of 2011 I decided to challenge myself for a great cause by doing my first half Ironman triathlon at the Oklahoma Redman through Team in Training, benefiting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Up until that point I had only done a 10k but wanted to increase my work outs and loved the idea of a triathlon since I am swimmer. Not only was it the hottest summer on record, but 2011 proved to be a summer of milestones and breakthroughs. I crossed the finish line and ended up with new friends and higher confidence. 

Although I did not have a direct connection to Leukemia and Lymphoma, I thought it was a good cause and with a co-worker, raised $6,000.  A few months later I found out that my Aunt Liz (maternal Aunt) was diagnosed with Leukemia.  I instantly knew that my journey couldn't have been a coincidence and that God had a plan.
Me & my Aunt Liz

I continued to do triathlons, hooked on the community and the sense of accomplishment.  Throughout training I felt a tugging on my heart to do more.  Something was telling me to do a full Ironman. I have never done a full marathon and I frequently get knee issues so this seemed unrealistic.  I asked around for some of the "easier" Ironman courses (oxymoron?) and Arizona came up.  Then it all clicked...my Aunt is from Phoenix and I wanted to do the race in her honor!  Why wait until it's too late? Time isn't slowing down and I need to do something now.  However, I couldn't find anyone to do this adventure with me until Scott Hines went in my corner!

My co-worker Scott Hines is an investigative reporter at KFOR-TV.  He is very athletic but never tried a triathlon.  He ran up to me one day and said he wanted to do a full Ironman.  That's when I knew I had God's stamp of approval and we hit the ground running.


Scott and I feel blessed to live in such a philanthropic state and have a platform to get other involved in the fight against cancer.  In November 2014, Oklahoma will be represented in Arizona to cross the finish line in one of the most grueling endurance events. Join us. Join Team Oklahoma. Donate and spread the word!


Come to our launch party this Sunday to find out more! Click HERE to buy your tickets ahead of time for $20. Tickets are $25 at the door. All the $ will go to The GoMitchGo Foundation. 

Or click HERE anytime to donate! 


OKLAHOMA STRONG. IRONMAN STRONG.
KEEP FIGHTING.

Please stay tuned to this blog for the latest on our journey to the Arizona Ironman! 


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Peace Out 2013

2013: A year of ups and downs, joy and tragedy.
Photo from www.fema.gov

Naturally, I did not have high hopes for 2013 as the number 13 is iffy. Did you know that Apollo 13 flew on Friday the 13th of April at 13:13? Obviously it proved unlucky...but they survived! I digress.  Anyway, 2013 turned out to be one of my most blessed years to date professionally and personally.

But let's start out with the nerd facts, recapping the crazy weather events in 2013.  Big moments include:
* Drought-busting rain for OKC as we closed out the year the 2nd wettest on record.
* On the flip side, the highest level of drought (exceptional) continues for Southwestern Oklahoma.
* MAY. 

I looked up last year's tornado count (NWS) and we didn't have any violent (EF-4, EF-5) tornadoes and 63 tornadoes total. This year, we had 3 violent tornadoes and 72 tornadoes total.  Did you know that in 2005 we had ZERO tornadoes in the month of May? It's true and remains a record.
Here's my handy dandy graphic overview. Thanks to the National Weather Service for compiling this data.  Since this is weather, I did not include earthquakes. Apparently, Oklahoma comes in second, behind California, for number of quakes. WHAT?!  

Personally: 
* Accomplished my first Century ride and my longest workout ever, a FULL aquabike.
* Bought a house! Big girl step!
* Fell in love with a firefighter. :)
* Rescued my sweet baby boy, Okie.
* Spent both Thanksgiving and Christmas at home with family. In the TV business, this is a true blessing.

Professionally:
Way to go, Kent!

* Promoted to weekday mornings.
* Tracked the largest tornadoes of my life including storm chasing the May 19 Lake
Photography by Bill McCullough for The New York Times
Thunderbird/Shawnee EF-4 tornado, May 20 Newcastle/Moore Tornado and May 31 El Reno Tornado (widest on record).  In 2 weeks I witnessed more than most meteorologists see in a lifetime.
Photography by Bill McCullough for The New York Times

* Featured in The New York Times Magazine as well as profiled for The 6th Floor, a blog for the New York Times. Shout out to Sam Anderson, you are an amazing writer!

Downside:
* Witnessed and experienced my first big tragedy in the aftermath of the May tornadoes. My heart still aches for the Oklahomans impacted.

* We lost a pioneer in the science community, storm chaser Tim Samaras. 

Hello, 2014!

This year I hope we learn from the tragedies and continue to take initiatives to make sure every school has a storm shelter or safe room. In an ideal world, I would make sure every Oklahoman has a storm shelter.

What's Next?
TEAM OKLAHOMA for Go Mitch Go

On a personal note, I am taking on a HUGE endeavor this year...my first full Ironman. If training and crossing the finish line isn't challenging enough, my co-worker Scott Hines and I plan on raising $200,000 for The Go Mitch Go Foundation in the fight against all blood and bone cancers.  I will explain the inspiration for this adventure in the next blog entry.

If you'd like to donate in the fight against Leukemia and Lymphoma, please click here! Any dollar amount helps! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Longest Workout Ever & My First Crash!

Hello friends!

Let's face it. I've slacked on this blog but it's time to catch up and prepare for a new year of adventures.

Redman 2013: Full Aquabike

On September 21, 2013 I crossed the finish line of my first full aquabike.

No, the aquabike is not a bike that rides on water.  It's a full Ironman minus the worst part - the run.  So it's a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike. I wanted to try it for a new challenge and to help me mentally wrap my head around a full Ironman and see if I stood a chance.


Once again I had the honor of singing the National Anthem before the race. This time I made sure not to run to the start after singing and fog up my goggles.  You couldn't ask for better weather. The winds were calm we had sunny skies and the temps were in the 50's.
My support crew: Michael & Scott Hines

The Start:
A beautiful day to race!


Unlike previous years, I didn't have any pressure. This race was about just about finishing a new, monster distance and not about getting a certain time.  Since we had a wet spring, the water levels were actually high for the first time since I've been in Oklahoma.  This allowed for the "normal" swim of paralleling the shore instead of a pyramid swim out in the middle of Lake Hefner.  I prefer the out and back swim over a parallel swim.  It makes it easier to sight.

I felt comfortable on the swim. I hadn't worn my wet suit all summer long and forgot how much they help you float. Bonus!  After the first quarter of a mile, I got my rhythm.  This year I didn't get kicked in the face! Down and back around the buoys is 1.2 miles. I had to do 2 loops. After the first turn I thought, "wow, this is going to be a LONG swim!" I'd been training with 1 hour swims and knew the swim would take about an hour and a half but DANG that swim felt like forever! I just kept playing new songs in my head and focusing on reaching and gliding with my strokes.  Before I knew it, coach Ryan was helping me climb out of the water!  It's a bit dizzying climbing out of the water after you've been swimming horizontally for an hour and a half!  I jokingly told coach, "just call me the Diana Nyad of Lake Hefner!"

Transition #1:

After being stripped of my wetsuit, I dropped it off at transition and ran to the changing tent.  For a full Ironman, you have the option of changing into bike shorts and dry clothes for the run. For 112 miles on the bike, I opted YES to change into bike shorts. Bike shorts have more padding than tri shorts and helped save me from enormous pain in the derriere!

Bike...bike...bike...bike...bike...ALL DAY


I started out the bike making sure not to get caught up in the race energy and ride fast early on.  I tried to set a pace around 16-18 mph and made sure to always take in water, gatorade and gummies.  The day before the race, coach Ryan told me to pack a PB&J in my "special needs bag." The special needs bag is also an option for full aquabike and full ironman participants.  About half way through the bike, there is a special stop where you can access your bag full of whatever goodies you'd like to pack (your fave nutrition bars, gatorade, chamois butt'r, etc.).

I felt pretty good on the bike and had a different mentality than when I did my half Ironman distances.  For the half Ironman, I could break the bike up into miles/segments to get through the ride.  For the full aquabike, I just accepted the fact that my rear would be parked on a bike all dang day and that's that.  I knew my biggest issues would be shoulder pain from being in the aero position (hands on the aerobars and flat back) and my hoo-ha (can I say that? Just did.) hurting from the bike seat.  Coach Ryan gave me the great advice to keep my head down but lift my eyes up to look ahead. I think this spared me shoulder pain until mile 60 instead of mile 30 like previous training rides.

I rode without stopping for the 65 miles or so. I stopped at the special needs bag station, stretched and ate my coveted PB&J. Who knew that a dang sandwich could be such a motivator? That's all I wanted from mile 40 on.  A wonderful volunteer at the aid stop agreed to give me a shoulder rub. GOD BLESS YOU!  I slapped on more chamois butt'r, put nuun in my water and headed on my way for the second lap.

Laps suck.  Laps make you realize just HOW MUCH further you have to go. Then again, I had already mentally surrendered to the fact that I would be out there all day. During the first lap you are surrounded by cyclists as half Ironman racers are still around.  During the second lap, they are out running so it's just the "fullers" left...and it gets lonely. I would see another cyclist every 30 minutes or so.  I didn't mentally hit a wall like in past long rides but I did have ups and downs. During the downs I slowed my pace and focused on my pain. On the ups I sped up and had positive thoughts.  By the time I reached mile 80, I felt deserted and delirious.  I started singing songs out loud by mile 90.

The CRASH:

I hurt.
Around mile 100 I actually saw a few other cyclists! I struck up a conversation with 2 other female cyclists.  In triathlon, it is illegal to ride near another cyclist. You are supposed to leave 3 bike lengths between you and the person in front of you, otherwise you get a penalty.  This is to prevent "drafting" since triathlon is an individual sport.  Well, at mile 100 I didn't give a crap. I was in pain, bored and needed a distraction, so I spoke to the other ladies. They were both doing the full ironman. It was a first for one and a 10th or 11th for the other one.  The newbie looked down to get something from her nutrition bag and hit a cone blocking off the lane for cyclists on Council road.  This started a chain reaction and her fall knocked me down.  It all happened so fast.  Her front wheel hit my wheel and I fell to my right hitting my right shoulder on the curb and my head hit the grass.  Thank GOD I was wearing a helmet!  In shock, I unclipped out of my pedals and sat up.  Yeah, it's girly but I started crying. Not because I hurt but because I worked to hard all day for THIS to happen at mile 104. Seriously.  I was so exhausted I wanted to quit right there. But the other girls were going to finish so I would too.  I knew something was wrong with my right arm.  It couldn't have broken but I couldn't turn my wrist.  It hurt so much that I couldn't change gears with my right hand.  I rode and cried all the way to the finish. I stopped crying before I finished because I didn't want my boyfriend to see I hurt myself.

Results:

Swim: 1:25:56, Pace: 2:30/100 yd
Transition #1: 7:37
Bike: 7:32:07, average bike: 14.9 mph
Total Time: 9:05:39

All in all, I was happy with my time considering I slacked with my training. I was happy that I made it through the entire race...including a crash!

The Finish:



I gave Michael a big hug. He brought my baby boy OKIE with him!  I didn't tell him about the crash because I knew he would be concerned and that would make me cry again and I didn't want to be crying for my final photo.  So I racked my bike, put on my shoes and wobbly made my way to the finish line for a final photo.  After receiving my finisher's medal, I took a few pictures with Michael and then told him about the crash.  After visiting the medical tent, the doctors concluded I did not break anything but likely had a sprain.
My buddy Janna Pratt finished 3rd overall!!!

Recovery:

Oh wow the next day I was stiff!  I could not lift my right arm past my shoulder for 3 days. Michael had to put my hair in a pony tail for me. I had a huge bruise and scrape on my right shoulder and elbow and had a terrible burn on my lower back due to my shirt coming up on the ride. This is called a "fishtail" burn in the cycle world.  Surprisingly, my legs weren't terribly sore a few days later.  Although I did not break my arm, that injury was ANNOYING. I couldn't turn unlock a door or start the ignition without immense pain. I went to a sports medicine doctor and found out I had a bad sprain.  He said it could have been WAY worse and if I used my hand to stop the fall I likely would have shattered my elbow.  I couldn't ride a bike or swim for months so I ran for exercise. Thankfully, everything is fine now. Yes, I am a wuss and get very dramatic when it comes to injury.

I think that's a lot of writing for now...stay tuned for more on the HUGE endeavor I'm taking on with 11 other Oklahomans next year. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Best Race Weather Ever


Hey friends! Well, it's that time of year again...Redman! I've done the half the past 2 years where the water has been low and the temperatures have been HOT. Triathletes LUCKED out this year!

A front rolled through our state resulting in cool temps, sunny skies and light winds. In other words...PERFECT! BOOM.
Oklahoma City had above normal rain this summer. Our annual rain total is at 45.79" which ranks as the 5th wettest year on record!  For this reason, Lake Hefner is FULL! WOO HOO!

Here's a pic from last year. We had to walk out to the water because levels were so low!
This year, I am honored once again to be singing the National Anthem.  I will also be trying out a full aquabike. An aquabike is a triathlon minus the run (woo hoo!). I will be doing a 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike - basically 2/3 of a full Ironman.  Quite honestly, I am not as well trained as the past 2 years but Coach Ryan says I should be fine since I did a century about a month ago.  Thank goodness the weather will be beautiful! I hope I don't lose my butt on the course. If you see a girl with a pink helmet riding slow and singing to herself, say hi to me!


Good luck to the athletes and thank you to the race staff and volunteers for all of your hard work!  If you don't have any plans Saturday morning, you should go to Lake Hefner and see what it's all about.  I 100% guarantee you will be inspired.  See you tomorrow morning!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Catch Up

Hi friends!
It's time to catch up!

Sorry it's been awhile but I've had a lot of things going on in my personal life. They have all been blessings including this guy...


I rescued "Okie" from the Tulsa Animal Shelter a few weeks ago.  I have been looking for an English Springer Spaniel rescue for a year now (I grew up with the breed) and English Springer Spaniel Rescue alerted me to this little guy.  It was love at first sight!

Okay, so let's go back to the El Reno Triathlon.

El Reno Triathlon

The original date for the El Reno triathlon was June 1.  The El Reno tornado happened on May 31st so the triathlon was most definitely canceled on the original date. Apparently the run course was flooded and emergency personnel that usually help assist the race were needed to help tornado victims, clean up, etc.  So the race directors did a great job of moving the event to July.  Although it was going to be hot, at least the race was not canceled completely.

Saturday, July 13 - Sprint Distance


Saturday morning was beautiful. The winds were light and we had sunny, dry conditions. It was forecast to be hot, but not unbearable since we were racing early in the morning.

I ran late to the event and forgot my goggles so "thank you" to Jane for lending me a pair!

The race went well.  I got kicked in the mouth during the swim and for a hot minute, wondered if I had a loose tooth.  The bike went well except I felt like my legs weren't too strong.  The run was a challenge but I worked my best to push and keep the pace high.  I tried to keep the tornado victims in mind during the run to give me strength. If they could continue their lives after losing everything, I could handle pushing myself for a 5k!


I ended up placing second in my age group with a time of 1:19. All in all I think the race went well!

Sunday, July 14 - Olympic Distance
Pre-race meeting and weather briefing.

I knew that storms were likely in the morning.  I woke up, checked the radar and realized that storms were inevitably headed towards El Reno yet I wanted to show up to help race officials make calls based on the weather.  When I arrived the skies were dark and ominous to the North.  The race officials already made the call to decrease the race distance from Olympic to a sprint, upsetting a few athletes.  I knew based on radar we would likely not even be able to finish a sprint distance with thunderstorms dropping south towards our location.
Storms moved in right at race time.
The rain was chilly so I wore this sweet garbage bag.
Fashion statement!


We started the race at 7:30am.  As I waited in the water for the swim start, I saw lightning. The lifeguard in me wanted to do a long whistle blow and get everyone out of the water!  I asked the race director if he saw it and he did.  We started the swim any way and apparently half way through the race was cancelled. I didn't know until I was running out of the water.  By this time the rain was at a complete downpour.  I was a bit miffed because I knew I had a strong swim!  So I kept running strong through the timing chip check in so that I could get my swim time.  I don't think it recorded.
Triathletes brave the elements.

So all the athletes scrambled to get their gear in the heavy downpour.  I was drenched!  My car smelled like gross mildew for the rest of the week until I could get it washed.  I guess the El Reno triathlon was not meant to be this year.  But please, don't let it discourage you from coming out next year! We just had some freak weather events this year...but I guess that's not uncommon in Oklahoma!
Scott Hines showed up to watch his first triathlon.
Too bad it got rained out! Thanks for coming!
No race. Not happy.


My First Century!

I decided to do Spin Your Wheels again this year. It is a wonderful bike tour (not a race) that raises money for the Children's Center in Bethany! I had a great time and achieved a new bike milestone last year so thought I would go for a century this year!

So on Saturday, August 10, Clark Kent (my triathlon bike - thanks PRO BIKE!) and I prepared for a long, intimate ride together.  Thank goodness my training buddy and friend April Davidson decided to do the century as well! I couldn't have done it without her!

Temperatures were unseasonably cool in the 60's/70's under overcast skies for the ride.  The winds were forecast to be light but definitely picked up out of the North as the race progressed.  The first 20-30 miles felt like the flipping Tour De France. People were flying and it was very crowded.  When you ride in a pack, you save energy by "drafting." In order to draft you have to get up the butt of the other cyclist in front of you.  It can be quite dangerous because one little wobble or false move could result in a huge crash.  I was involved in a crash last year (see previous post on Spin Your Wheels) and so I was very cautious this year. We were flying with speed averaging 20-25 mph.

Once we hit some hills near Mustang, I started to drop back. I am not very good with hills. Next year I need to force myself to do hill repeats. It's the only way to really get better.  April has grown as a cyclist after joining the Bike One team so she stayed ahead of me.  She was always kind enough to wait for this granny, so THANK YOU April!  

I felt fine until about mile 50.  April and I didn't have a group to draft off of and were riding uphill and into the wind. I hit a wall and wanted to quit but we kept pushing on.  Eventually the sun started to peek through and that actually lifted my spirits a bit.  My butt was numb by mile 70 and I felt like I had daggers stabbing my shoulders.  I'd say my shoulders hurt the most on long rides.  Mentally, I tried to just think of the ride in 10 mile increments.

At one point, April and I started singing 90's songs for entertainment.  That was fun. We started singing the Spice Girls' "If You Wanna Be My Lover."  We even made our own parody "If You Wanna Be A Cyclist."  That was about 8 miles of entertainment!
The last 15 miles were grueling because I knew we were so close! Thankfully we latched on to a couple of other cyclists and drafted. The wind was at our backs at this point as well. We were going pretty strong around 18 mph.  


As we approached the end of Lake Overholser, we were directed a different way. April and I thought that was odd and wondered if there was a big crash.  I found out the next day that a cyclist died.  Click here for more info.  My condolences to friends and family of Chance Toles.  He was only 36 years old and left a wife and daughter behind. Very tragic.  I hope that we can take away a lesson from this and continue to remind drivers that it's the law to have 3 feet between you and a cyclist.  

All in all I thought the ride went well!  Afterwards I had my first ice bath in an effort to recover for the next challenge...

Sunday, August 11 - Arcadia Sprint Triathlon


It's a beautiful day for a triathlon!
That's me in front!

Yes, I'm nuts. I signed up for a sprint triathlon the day after my first century bike ride. What can I say, I like to challenge myself!  So I had no idea how bad I would feel the day of the race but I knew I wasn't going to PR this one!  

Janet from KJ103! She's a rockstar!

As soon as I started the swim I could tell my legs were fatigued.  Due to heavy rain the week before, random debris floated in the water. Occasionally I'd hit a log while swimming!  The bike (obviously) kicked my butt. I could definitely tell how fatigued my legs were on the steep uphill climbs.  On the plus side, I went the fastest I've ever ridden on one of the downhills at 38 mph!!!


The run went surprisingly well! I did the 5k in 26 minutes which is great for me, let alone after a century ride the day before!  It was a loop run which is always challenging mentally.  Once again, I felt like I was going to have a heart attack after sprinting through the finish line.  That's standard...but at least I know I am pushing myself!

I had a great time and afterwards treated myself to a long, hot shower and a burger and fries! BOOM!

That's all for now, folks! Next entry I will include more about my first solo fundraiser, "Paint for a Purpose" and talk about how the Tie Dye Tri in Norman (this Sunday) and the OK Redman (Sept 21) went! This year I will be doing an aquabike which is just the swim and bike (no running! WOO HOO!). Have a great week!