Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I Did It!

Hello, friends! Well, after a long, hot 5-months of training...the journey is over.  Saturday I crossed the finish line of my first half Ironman triathlon!

I can't believe it's over! I feel kind of lost.  I gave myself 2 days of rest but had to go on a short bike ride today.  So let's talk about the race!

I woke up around 4:30am.  I drank Gatorade and then a cup of coffee.  I ate an egg, an egg white, and Stinger waffle (full of carbs and sugar).  I met up with TNT friends at a parking lot to walk together to the race.

The Swim

Buoys created drama with the swim.  I guess the water levels rose enough the night before to impact the course.  As a result, the old, bright orange buoys were left in the water and we had to swim around big white buoys.  This was very challenging to spot in a sea of neon orange buoys. 

We walked down a long red carpet to the lake with our wave.  I kind of felt like I was on a death march with bag pipes playing.  

I got kicked a few times in the arm and had a few people touch my feet (drafting) but after 10 minutes, I got into the groove.  Featured songs in my head included "Rolling in the Deep" by Adele, "SuperWoman" by Alecia Keys, "You and I" by Lady Gaga, and shamefully, "Ho" by Ludacris.  I think I laughed in the water when that song popped in my head.

When I ran out of the water the announcer thanked the "weather lady" for the beautiful weather.  The weather was gorgeous all race day.  The morning was not too cool and the winds were light.  It did get a bit hot in the afternoon...

I was a bit out of it during transition but used my sprint tri experience to help me quickly take MJ out of the transition zone.  I hopped on the bike and started round 2!

The Bike

I didn't want to push it but decided to go on the faster side after all.  I think I averaged around 17 to 19 mph on the bike.  I paid special attention to my nutrition and hydration.  I made sure to eat 2 Stinger organic energy chews every half hour and a few swigs of water or Gatorade every 10 minutes.  I think this helped me get through the run.  

It was fun riding on Waterloo road where we first road west to Cimarron and then looped back.  I got to cheer on TNT teammates and makes sure my "Team Jo & Em" partner, Joleen, made it through the swim okay.  She did and rocked it on the bike!

The ride was long but I did not expect to have to go to the bathroom but sometimes you gotta go!  So I stopped at mile 50 in anticipation of a line at the transition port-a-potties.  I also hit up some Chamois Butt'r because my tri shorts were chaffing! Youch!  I came into transition at a quick clip, quickly took off the helmet, and cycle shoes and exchanged for running shoes, headsweats visor, and race belt!

The Run

The first part of the run felt great. And by first part I mean the first three miles or so.  After that, I began to realize the challenge ahead.  Thankfully, there was a stop every mile that provided everything! I'm talking about pretzels, salted potatoes, pickles, pb&j, salt pills, water, Gatorade, and my favorite, gummy bears!  On the second loop (each loop was about 6.5 miles) I made sure to treat myself to 2 red gummy bears.  It was kind of a motivation.  I also thoroughly took advantage of the cold wet sponges since it started getting hot around 1pm.
In pain! Still smiling!

I've heard former Ironman triathletes tell me about how you ride a roller coaster of emotion in your mind during the run.  They were right!  For the most part, I stayed positive.  I thought of "One Moment in Time" by Whitney Houston to inspire me.  I also got a lot of energy out of seeing my TNT friends and random spectators clapping as I ran by.  But there were moments when I wanted to stop and walk like several people were doing around me.  My TNT friend, Taylor, was about a loop ahead of me and was so elated on the run that I asked him, "did you smoke crack at a water stop?"  This was obviously a down moment on my run. Haha.

The best water stop was one mile from the finish line.  The Oklahoma City LandRunners hosted the stop and is notorious for fun themes, drinks, etc.  This year they had a Hawaiian theme.  On my second loop they informed me I was only a mile or so from the finish.  I wanted to speed up to beat another girl in my age group but unlike a sprint distance tri, my body just couldn't do it.  I felt a bit defeated.  

Icing knees. Learned I have
flat feet & need new shoes!
I am happy that I managed to muster a sprint through the finish line as my friends, boyfriend, and boyfriend's family cheered from the sidelines.  What happened next took me by surprise.  I drank some water and suddenly felt flooded with emotion.  I started crying.  I guess the "emotional roller coaster" took its toll.  5 months of hard training and sacrifice all amounted to this one moment.  My "One Moment in Time"...crossing the finish line.  Crossing the finish line for the race against all blood cancers.  Oh, what joy!  I want to do something like this all over again just to get that feeling again.  What an accomplishment!

Place (Females): 72 
Age Group: 25-29 
From: OKC OK 
Swim: 40:22 
Transition 1: 3:22 
Bike: 3:15:02 
Transition 2: 1:32 
Run: 2:24:32 
Total Time: 6:24:47 

A Word of Gratitude

With that being said, I couldn't have done this without support.  Thank you to Team in Training for providing this opportunity and helping me make the world a better place and taking me to a mental and physical state I never know I could reach.  Thank you to my new Team in Training friends for giving me the encouragement to train in 110° heat and get up at 6am on a Saturday.
Thanks for the "baby" wines, Marika! MIZ!
Joleen, Janna, and me

Thank you to Joleen Chaney for helping create KFOR's very own "Team Jo&Em" where we successfully passed our fundraising goal of $5,000.  Thank you to all of my friends, family, and viewers for the generous donations both big and small.  They all added up to support a great cause. 
2 out of 3 TNT coaches (the other was doing the full!)

Thank you to my friends and co-workers in Oklahoma City for coming to our fundraisers and putting up for my lack of social life due to early trainings.  Thank you to my boyfriend and parents for putting up with me complaining about training, the cost of my bike, getting up early, lack of social life, etc.  Thank you to Astronaut John at Pro Bike and Steve Schlegel for helping me out with my many bike problems, namely flat tires.  And finally, thank you, reader, for staying with me on this journey.

Thanks to my best friend, Shauna, back home in Chicago!
Now what?
Sun + temporary tattoo = sweet sunburn

I don't really know, but I plan on continuing this blog and the random musings of Emily Rose Sutton.  I hope to an Olympic distance triathlon next!

Friday, September 23, 2011

True Inspiration

Thank you for all of your donations so far!  Please donate to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society...every dollar counts! Just click here!

Hello, everyone!  So this whole time I've written in the blog, I've never truly talked about my true inspiration for this journey.
I never had the pleasure of meeting her in person but little Emily Holum's story continues to inspire me.  Emily is the daughter of a friend's family from my hometown suburb of Arlington Heights, Illinois.  From what I've heard, she was a happy, active girl who loved her mom, dad, and 2 sisters.  At the age of 4, she was diagnosed with hemophagocytic blood disorder, which quickly progressed into acute myeloid leukemia.  One of her sisters gave a bone marrow transplant.  Emily endured two rounds of chemotherapy before undergoing a bone marrow transplant from her younger sister, Caroline, in February 2006.  After a short remission, the cancer returned and Emily passed at the age of only 6.  

Since I started training for this race in May, several similar stories have jumped out of the wood work from friends and complete strangers.  I found out that one of our KFOR photographer's mother died of Leukemia when he was only 12 years old.  One of my close high school friend's little brother was diagnosed with a blood cancer a little over a year ago.  Thankfully, treatment worked and currently there is no trace of the cancer.

These stories keep me motivated and will ultimately help me cross the finish line tomorrow afternoon.  All the money raised from my training will go towards families impacted by Leukemia & Lymphoma and towards research.  I'd like to think that all of this work may one day allow for a little girl like Emily to survive and live a long, healthy life.  Click here for another survivor's inspiring story.  She is training for the Walt Disney half marathon through Team in Training!

Redman Eve

The race is only one day away! I can't believe it! I am so excited, anxious, and bit nervous all at the same time.  I will tell you I've enjoyed tapering and carb loading.

Joleen and I went to Trattoria El Centro yesterday in downtown OKC.  I had a groupon to use and thought this would be a perfect place to carb load! I told our waitress but I think she thought we were crazy.  Maybe because we ordered an eggplant parm appetizer, alfredo pasta, and pizza.  Yes, we ate all but 3 slices of the pizza.  Oh, and don't forget the 2 pieces of focaccia bread at the start!  It was delish but FILLING...and I loved it! Boom!
Last night I went to the Matt Nathanson/Train/Maroon 5 concert for a friend's birthday. I was good! I did not drink and stuck with water!  Hydrating is key! What a great concert! It was also a great way to get my mind off things for a bit.
This morning we tested out the swim course...sort of.  The buoys aren't up yet but it was my first time swimming in Lake Hefner.  First of all, due to recent rain, the walk to the lake is very muddy.  I mean cover-your-whole-foot kind of muddy.  I will have to keep an extra water bottle handy to clean my feet for transition tomorrow.
It's going to be a chilly start tomorrow morning!  But with the wetsuit on, the water felt good.  It was a bit choppy...I hope the winds actually stay down.  Always seems like Lake Hefner has a breeze even when the winds are "calm."  Notice how I'm rocking the Mizzou sweatpants?  The Mizzou v. OU game is tomorrow! I will have to watch while recovering and cheering on my friends doing the FULL Ironman!  I can't imagine doing that!

Thanks to my parents, brother, and family dog for sending "good luck" flowers! What a great surprise!  If you are free, please come and cheer on all the triathletes at Lake Hefner on Saturday! We've worked really really hard for this! Let's show the out of staters why Oklahomans are such great people!

Thank you for all of your donations so far!  Please donate to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society...every dollar counts! Just click here!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Forecast Update!

Still looks great...few degrees warmer.  Stay tuned for more updates!

Just a quick note...we got our wetsuits yesterday!  Joleen and I struggled for a good 15 minutes trying to put these suckers on! 

But man, my TNT coaches were right, these babies are awesome!  After I got over the initial choking feeling aroud my neck, I felt like I was a seal flying through the water!

Have a great week everyone! More updates to come!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Thank you for all of your donations so far!  Please donate to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society...every dollar counts! Just click here!

Hello, friends! For those of you traveling from out of state, Oklahoma weather is notorious for extremes.  I came here to work as a meteorologist at KFOR-TV for this reason.  I'm pretty sure plenty of people have been praying for nice weather and CALM WINDS, including me and my Grandma and Papa.  It must have worked because the forecast looks fantastic!  However, I will give the standard disclaimer that this will be updated.  Winds will be the most challenging to forecast this far out.  However, right now they seem to be rather light. 

Without further adieu...drum roll please...HERE IS YOUR REDMAN FORECAST

Please check in periodically for new updates and of course, you can check out the latest radar imagery, temperatures, and videocasts at!

Okay, for those of you new to the site, here is a brief overview.  I am a TRI newbie, introduced to the sport through Team In Training.  I've been a swimmer my whole life so I thought I'd have a small advantage over other newbies.  I also have a few friends that have participated in endurance events through Team in Training and I thought it sounded like a great cause.  It's been a long 5 months of training but I wouldn't trade this experience for the world.  I've met so many great people, joined several new communities, and have made new friends along the way.  I've especially been touched by the families impacted by Leukemia or Lymphoma and use those stories as fuel to cross the finish line on Saturday.  This blog is about the entire journey and several new milestones along the way.  Please feel free to skim over old entries and check in from time to time!

Moving on...

So as I was writing "6 days" earlier...I had a mini freak out.  6 DAYS! AHHHHH! I can't believe race day is almost here!  I am excited and nervous all at the same time.  I am also very excited to carb load.  I've mentioned "eating baguettes" so many times to my TNT teammates this past week that they could have made a drinking game out of it.  I may purchase my first baguette tonight.  We will see.

Cold & Rain? What Is This?

Nerd Alert! Don't even's cold!

After the hottest summer on record, highs in the 50's came as a shock to many Oklahomans this past Thursday and Friday.  That probably explains why I was one of the only people venturing out to Lake Hefner Thursday afternoon.  I thought, "I am a Chicagoan, the cold will feel great!"  All I can say is one loop around the Lake was enough for me.  I was cold, wet, and had a runny nose.  I think this summer made me thin blooded!  Brr!

Last Saturday Morning Training

Wah wahhhhh
It's bittersweet thinking Saturday was our last TNT early morning training.  Joleen says the 40 mile training rides will not be missed (hence the picture above).  As much as I dislike getting up at 6 or 7am on Saturdays, I do enjoy meeting up with friends and getting a big work out in before I go to work. 
We started at the Braums on Memorial and MacArthur at 7:15 am and rode about 40 miles.  It went well until we had to ride back South straight into 15-20 mph winds.  My speed dropped to about 10 mph.  It was pretty sad!  Like I said, WIND is my main concern for race day.  So far it looks good...but I do not want to jinx anything!

Looking at the week ahead, we have our last team swim practice Monday where we will test out the wetsuits.  I'm sure I will have an entry telling you all about it!  Thanks for checking in and thanks for the support!  Have a great week!
Thank you for all of your donations so far!  Please donate to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society...every dollar counts! Just click here!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Longest RUN ever & OBS Streak

Hello, friends! I can't believe race day is less than 2 weeks away! HOLY COW!

First of all, I'd like to say CONGRATS to all of my Team in Training team mates that just finished the Nation's Triathlon benefitting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  The event is an Olympic-distance triathlon held in Washington D.C.  This year the event coincided with the 10th anniversary of the September 11th tragedy.  Rumor has it that the swim portion was cancelled at the last minute due to a strong current in the Potomac River from several recent rounds of heavy rainfall.  I suppose this was good news to many triathletes...however, I know a few of our team members have been spending lots of training in the pool or lake in prep for the swim portion.  I would be bummed!  I will be excited to hear about how it went!

Run, Emily, Run!

Last Sunday I achieved a new milestone in my least favorite of the three: running.  I ran about 17 miles around Lake Hefner.  It took a little over 3 hours.  I was doing the "grandma shuffle" for the last 2 miles.  I met an old man named Dick and he helped me get through the rest of the run.  After talking for a bit, he told me how he did a full Ironman at the Redman 4 years ago.  He said he did all of his training at the YMCA and tried open water swimming only 2 days before the race!  He finished though, in 19 hours!  I don't know if this is inspiring or insulting?  He was a nice guy, regardless.

So why did I run 17 miles?  It was more of a mental thing than anything else.  I still can't comprehend how I'm going to run a half marathon after all the swimming and I decided to tack on an extra 4 miles.  This will help me mentally during the half Ironman knowing I can push myself to new limits.  This also let me know that I have no desire to run a marathon.  I thought my knees were going to fall off!

Apparently Falling Isn't Just For 70 Year Olds

Okay, I'll keep this short and sweet.  Last Tuesday I walked briskly towards the news studio on straight up bit-it.  I mean, I just wiped out and before I knew it I was on the floor. Embarrassing! Unfortunately, I landed right on my already sore knees from the long run mentioned earlier. I hobbled away and a few co-workers helped me out by bringing me ice.  No matter what, the show must go on!  As much as it hurt, I got through the noon newscast and then headed to Urgent Care. 

I could walk so I knew it wasn't terribly serious but it was hard to walk up and down stairs.  I was quite upset.  Not so much about the pain but about the potential for this freak fall to mess up 4 months of training during the hottest summer on record!  Thank God the X-Rays came out okay and I just had to ice my knees for the rest of the day, take anti-inflammatory medicine, and not run for a week.  Whew!  So I had several swims and a few short bike rides since then...

OBS Streak!

As you may have read in past posts, I am a huge fan of the Oklahoma Bicycle Society, or OBS.  They basically took me under their wing and taught me how to work my bike and about group ride etiquette.  So I thought it would be nice to support the group by participating in my first sponsored group ride!  My TNT buddy, Janna, is a huge fan of the sponsored rides, so I thought I'd give it a spin! (Pun intended).  You could choose between several distances.  I chose 40 miles. The main downside, like most rides/races, I had to get up at 6am! Yuck!  It was actually chilly in the morning with lows in the mid-upper 50s!

I met up with Janna and we stayed together through most of the ride.  We took this opportunity to practice race day nutrition.  I tried a new protein bar before the race by Luna.  It was tasty except for the fake minty taste.  I like the texture though so I will just try another flavor next time.  Janna gave me another type of gummies.  I did not have tape to place it on my bike so we creatively used a rubber band to hold it.  During the race I ripped it open with my teeth and stored the rest in my sports bra.  Not the most conventional method, but it stayed put!

I started out unnecessarily fast.  Competitive Emily comes out during group events.  I will have to be aware of this on race day so I don't  burn out early.  I was passing people left and right at the beginning of the ride, going about 22-25 mph!  Then the hills kicked in.  That slowed me down a bit.  I had to stop when my chain suddenly came off.  In typical OBS politeness, several people asked if I needed help and I was quickly fixed and back on the course.

Janna and I decided to stop at the second rest stop around mile 25 or 30.  They had homemade cookies!  Yum! I may or MAY have stashed a few in my bike bag for later.

My right knee started hurting in the last 5 miles or so.  I think this just verifies the previous thought that I need to take it down a few notches when starting out.

After crossing the finish line, Janna and I ran for 5 miles.  She has a sweet sweat visor.  I really want one for running.  It's very functional because sunglasses are annoying while running and the visors keep the sun out of your eyes and sweat off of your face!  Thankfully she wore a fuel belt, so we had drinks along the way.  I tried GU but I did not like it again.  It's kind of how I feel about eating shrimp.  I can have a bite but I don't prefer it and would never order it.  It's a lot easier to tack on miles with a training buddy.  I still am not sure how I will be able to do 13.1 miles.  I was ready to stop at 5 miles.  I guess I am just banking on adrenaline, familiar faces in the crowd cheering me on, and the drive to cross the finish line.

ONLY 12 MORE DAYS! Stay tuned....and have a great week!