Sunday, August 13, 2017

Trying to see the light

Four weeks into official marathon training.

Nine weeks until a half marathon and 17 weeks until my first marathon of the season. My first shot at a Boston Qualifying time.

It's sometimes so hard to see the possibility of doing that right now, in the worst part of summer. On the positive side, I am doing pretty well running in the summer. I never thought I'd be relatively comfortable doing 2 hour runs and 30+ mile weeks in the height of summer in Texas. But despite the whining I do in the last 30 minutes of our long runs, I really actually am doing just fine. My average heart rate is consistently staying under 140 and I'm running negative splits.

But it's just so slow. Intentionally slow, but slow nonetheless. It's right where I should be hitting my long runs when the dew point is well over 70 and the starting temp is pushing 80, but wrapping my head around that is still a bit of a problem for me.



I'm doing just fine with intervals, tempos, and hill repeat pacing. I can see all that improving, I can see my cardiovascular strength improving, and I know I'm making progress. But those 10+ minute long runs....ugh....I think realizing the benefit of long SLOW runs is a tough thing in general for marathoners to deal with. It's hard to see that when you run so much slower than goal pace, you're actually doing something good for yourself.

My goal race pace is 8:58 to hit a Boston Qualifying time. I need to aim for more like 8:52 to have any shot in actually making the cut off for entry into the 2019 race, however. My top goal is just hitting the BQ time of 3:55...making it into the race itself will be extra awesome, but is not my main goal. I know this is still such a lofty goal when I've been a relatively crappy marathoner until now, at least compared to shorter distances. Not many people make that big of an improvement in such a short amount of time.

I know that my biggest strength right now, besides my improvement in cardiovascular strength, is my attitude, and while I am struggling to push a few doubts away, I do really believe in myself. Most of the time, at least. But I'm also human and have anxiety and need to take a few deep breaths now and then to calm myself down. My attitude is a thousand times better than it's been in recent years and I'm trying so damn hard to hold onto that!

I've been using my new Garmin for about six weeks now and it's still totally stroking my ego. Its race predictor has me solidly at 3:31-3:36 for a marathon time, way way WAY under my goal. This goal is only truly attainable if one actually seriously trains and that race day weather is on target for a good finish time. I like the fact that my Garmin loves me so much. I think it's a liar about what it says about my ability, but it's still nice to be loved. I figure even if it's way off, that 3:55 goal sounds completely reasonable.

I signed up for a half marathon in October. It's on a notoriously tough course, but I'm not a stranger to tough courses. It's not any harder (I don't think) than the San Francisco (First) Half course, and I PR'd (at the time) in that race. I want to PR my October half, running under 1:51:36. I figure if I can do that with 900 feet of elevation gain, I can hit a 3:55 marathon on a flat course. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Running a 1:51 or faster on this course will be a bit insane for me. It will NOT be easy. I have nine more weeks to figure it out, to hope the weather is at least a little agreeable, and to try to strategize those hills to even come close to running under 8:30 pace. If I continue to work hard and chip away at my pace, to build my cardiovascular endurance so I can hold a faster pace for longer, and the weather cools, I should be able to do it regardless of the hills. I've been told people just don't PR on that course, but whatever. I haven't ever really been good at listening to people.

When we were on our long run this morning, my teammates and I talked about how it will feel when the weather cools and the humidity cuts us some slack. I have a feeling we are going to be pleasantly surprised at how much faster "easy" pace will be. I'm getting excited about that. I remember last year when I headed to California for a half marathon and the temp and humidity were perfect for race conditions and I felt fantastic. I was comfortable at a much faster pace than I had been running and it was wonderful. I want to feel that again!


Step one in getting better - Find great running partners!

Friday, August 4, 2017

8 years later

Began on Tuesday, August 1:

It's that time of year again. The first week of August. It snuck up on me this year. I had been doing okay lately, keeping my grief episodes from overwhelming me. But yesterday it snuck up on me. My day was not so good, but I can't pinpoint exactly why. I had a sadness and a lack of motivation that was very hard to shake, that I was feeling incredibly guilty about because I didn't get done all the things I wanted to get done. I think it was grief, which comes and goes still eight years later. I can hold it off a lot better than I used to, but because time doesn't really heal all wounds, it's always there in my subconscious.

I spent a bit of time thinking about what my life was on August 4, 2009, and then all the things that have happened since August 5, 2009.

On August 4 I had a sister who was very sick, but who we thought was getting better. I was worried but optimistic. My sister was in good spirits on the phone when we spoke that evening. I was looking forward to another phone call the next day.

I had a 4 year old daughter and a 7 year old son. She had a 9 year old daughter. She was a writer and worked in a law firm. I was a stay-at-home mom who had just started on an athletic journey, having run my first marathon a few months prior. We were young. I was 35 and she was 37, just one month prior to her 38th birthday.

Fast forward 8 years and life is very different. My kids are now 12 and 15, and her daughter is about to start her senior year of high school. Her widower and daughter still live in the Seattle area and we still live in the same house in Round Rock. I am now 43, 6 years older than she was when she passed. She would be turning 46 next month. I've now run 12 marathons and am training for 2 more.

The part that really blows my mind is how old our kids are now. I can't wrap my head around the fact that my daughter only has one memory of Aunt Trisha. We had just seen her two weeks prior while in California and my daughter remembers vividly the time she spent with her. But she's 12 now and so many years and so many changes have happened in that time, so many things that I couldn't talk to Trisha about.

Her daughter was going into 4th grade when she lost her mother and now she's one year from starting college. She went though all those years with mother figures surrounding her, but no mother who tucked her into bed each night. So many milestones and life experiences, but thankfully she could share those with her dad.

I've written many blog posts over the years about my grief. My loss doesn't define who I am, but it does guide me on how I want to live my life, on why I do some of the things that I do, on why I'm extra sensitive and introverted during certain times of year. Most of my friends and family understand this.

Ironically enough, I was becoming a bit of a grief expert back in college. Grief was a topic I spent a lot of time on, taking classes, completing my internship at Hospice, and even writing my thesis on the topic. Unknowingly, it was a precursor to more loss than most people experience in young adulthood. The next 12 years were not easy with several difficult losses. Recently, I found a copy of that thesis and decided to convert all 84 hard copy pages into a soft copy. It was a very important research project of mine and one I was quite proud to have written. Reading through the chapter on normal grief and complicated grief was even more meaningful now, 20 years after I wrote it. It made me realize two things: (1) I made it through the normal grief cycle long ago, and (2) it's okay to have grief relapses.

I see the bickering around me in the world, in my community, and among my friends and family and I want to shake them. I want them to stop and to appreciate what is around them. I want them to appreciate who is in their lives. "What if they are gone tomorrow?" I want to say. They always think there is a tomorrow. But we know better, don't we? Stubbornness, narrow-mindedness, anger...these things can be toxic and unfortunately for many, by the time you clear your head of the negativity, it's too late. I'm incredibly sad about this.

*unfinished*

Fast forward to today, August 4:

After I began this blog post earlier this week, a friend died. It was not an unexpected death, but are those really any easier to take? He was only 30 and had been married for six months.

I'm angry. I'm so tired of this. I'm so tired of the suffering and the loss that people are experiencing. the sadness has been all encompassing since I found out on Wednesday. The celebration of life is tomorrow, on the 8th anniversary of my sister's passing. Of course I will be there, but my heart feels like it's in a vice grip. It hurts.

Go give someone a hug, buy a coffee for a friend, pick up the phone and text or call a loved one, smile at a stranger. My late friend wrote on his Facebook page "Just trying to let my light shine as brightly as I can."

Be a light.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Why don't I run trails more often?

Last week the husband got up extra early and drove into Austin to do a few miles at Walnut Creek Regional Park, a pretty cool place with miles and miles of trail. It's popular with runners, mountain bikers, walkers, and dogs and we've been out there for hikes a few times. I've never run it, however, and I didn't go with the husband last week because I had run very hot hill repeats the previous night and just wanted to sleep in. After seeing his photos, though, I regretted staying in bed!

So this week I told him I'd suck it up and, even after running hills last night, I'd get up with him this morning and run a few miles there. I got home after our tough and REALLY FREAKING HOT hill run last night and rehydrated and refueled, foam rolled, and relaxed. When that alarm went off at 5:40, however, I had the thought to just say screw it and go back to sleep.

So glad I didn't! We only ran for about 40 minutes but it was worth the drive into Austin. Getting in some slow recovery miles off the asphalt was good for my legs. I paid no attention to pace and just kept my heart rate down (only averaged 129 and mostly stayed in zone 2). Running right after sunrise was peaceful and such a great way to start my day and since I don't get to see the husband a lot during the week, I was glad to get this extra time with him. He's a pretty good running partner.





I have lots of trails close to my house so I don't know why I don't get out there more often. It's a very peaceful and fun way to get in some recovery miles and to just get a change of scenery and some quiet time.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Intentional Training

Every year I learn a little more about myself, about marathons, and about effective training. For years I merely trained to finish the race, occasionally with a time goal or the goal of a new personal best, even if by only seconds. I knew in my heart that I had more talent than what is shown in my race results. Sometimes weather was the factor, sometimes illness (yes, I have plenty of bad luck on race day), sometimes I ran with friends, and sometimes it really was "for fun" or to finish happy. I was definitely better at coaching other runners than myself.

Last year, after a two year marathon hiatus and some health problems, I got back into the marathon game. Because I had lost speed and fitness, I was not in personal best shape when I set out on my journey to Louisiana. Through hard work and a tough training schedule I turned it around and knew that I could beat my 4:17:53 best time, but probably just barely. While race day weather didn't allow for that, and because I was still in the process of figuring out how best to handle my asthma in humid conditions, I couldn't push myself as hard as I wanted to without it being detrimental to my health. I am still happy with the race, although it was very far off my goal. It allowed me to come into this current training season with more mental strength than I've had in all previous marathons.

Back in April I made the choice that this was my year to be in my best shape ever. After feeling so miserable on our relay at the end of March, I knew it was time to make big changes. I got my medication problems figured out, I got my nutrition figured out, I lost weight and gained muscle, and because of all this work over the last three months, I am a much better runner. I've written about my progress a bit in previous blog posts. My training officially starts on Monday and I am ready for it. I have spent the last few months building my aerobic fitness in the warm summer conditions and slowly building speed through our interval and hill workouts. I got back on my bike and I got back into the gym on a more consistent basis. While our weather has decidedly taken a turn for the worse over the last month, my ability to handle it has increased positively. I am running just as well in the heat as I did in the cold and I'm still gaining speed. It's the first time this has ever happened to me in my decade of running in Texas. I no longer dread our workouts when it's 80 degrees out and the dew point is in the 70s. I know it will be uncomfortable, but I also know that my body can handle it....FINALLY.

You really have no idea how incredible this feeling is, not only physically, but MENTALLY. Knowing that I don't have to necessarily suffer through the summer is huge! Don't get me wrong...it is very uncomfortable running Thursday nights in triple digit heat (even though we do run in the shade), and I'd really prefer not having to try to beat the heat by running my long runs at 6am. But I am definitely more comfortable with the uncomfortable than I have ever been. Please let this feeling last!

I've also become much more intentional and focused with all aspects of my training. I'm better about wearing my heart rate monitor to be sure I'm not overdoing it in the heat, and to see if I'm adapting to the training. I'm analyzing my splits more than I probably ever have to look for improvement, even small improvement. I had to purchase a new multi-sport Garmin and finally upgraded to a Bluetooth capable model, the 920xt (thanks to my dear friend Doug!), and it's changed everything for me! My data analysis is now on a whole new level and I'm not sure why I suffered with the 910xt for as long as I did (okay, I didn't suffer. That watch was fantastic. I just sucked at syncing it to Garmin Connect). Being able to see how the watch can estimate my VO2 max (47!) and laugh at its race predictor (3:31 marathon my ass) is pretty darn cool. I've only worn it for a few runs so far, so I'm still assuming that marathon prediction will increase significantly with more run data, although it keeps getting faster so far. Strange watch.

Training like this has taken so much weight off my shoulders. I'm not stressing about my long run pace at all anymore, whereas I used to be so bummed if I didn't train at a certain pace all the time. By focusing more on my heartrate and cadence I'm able to steadily improve my aerobic fitness. Looking back on runs from years ago, my heart rate was ridiculous. I was burning myself out and not even realizing it. I'm consistently running on average with a heart rate probably 20 beats per minute less than I was back in those early marathon days. By being so specific with my easy/long run training, my body is efficiently feeding its muscles and burning fat as fuel. This is where the bulk of marathon training should fall. Because of the summer heat I can't always keep my heart rate quite this low (my target is keeping it below 140, or at least under that for the average), particularly running up hills, but that's okay. A heart rate a bit higher will help me build my cardiorespiratory capacity and improve my muscle strength and this is the zone I'll probably spend the most time in on race day. Several of my long runs down the road will include portions at race pace in order to simulate the feeling for race day. Then there are the tough runs...intervals and hill sprints. This is where I get into the anaerobic zone, and therefore improve my lactate threshold and performance. Proper recovery from the tougher workouts is vital (yay recovery runs!) to be able to continue to perform well during those particularly hard weeks. I'm just continuing to chant that mantra of "easy pace, easy pace, easy pace" (no matter how much my teammates laugh at how anal I've become). My long slow runs are paying dividends during hard workouts and will (hopefully, oh pretty please) pay off on race day.

Being okay with that pace and with that heat index is a long process

The crazy thing about analyzing the data is being able to quantify how I'm getting more efficient, while still getting faster. Tuesday's interval workout was a beast, but my heartrate never got into the red zone, not even once! My highest heart rate was 163 and the average stayed under 150. I was working very hard and practically threw up a couple times from the effort, but knowing that I technically was not overtaxing my system is a huge bonus (I'm going to chalk the pukey feeling to the Gatorade I drank after the previous night's bike ride....I have very little sugar in my diet but really needed the rehydration after the heat, so Gatorade it was....and it was so delicious). Being able to see this kind of data is helping me during each hard run. Even through the discomfort I know I can do it, even when my brain is trying to tell me I need to give up. I also realize that I can push myself even harder at our next interval workout.

Shit is getting serious starting on Monday. Every week my miles will increase. There are some weeks when I am running 6 days, and I'm not going to like it very much. But there's a Boston Qualifier inside of me and I need to find her and push her and make her do what's she's capable of doing.

Also, please be good to me on December 10, Mississippi weather. Pretty please.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Duathlon? Sounds great!

Every 4th of July, my triathlon team hosts an informal triathlon/duathlon for our members. Two years ago I did the triathlon and last year the duathlon. This year I again tackled the duathlon, and it would be only my second duathlon I've ever done.

I came into this year feeling much better about working hard in the heat, so I felt like I could do a decent job "racing." I wasn't so concerned with racing my teammates so much as racing my time from last year. I wanted to see that my fitness had improved and with the weather this year being so similar to last year, it would be a good gauge of improvement.

Armed with my lovely new multisport watch, I was ready to go race morning. We had a big turnout, way more than usual. Nineteen members total raced so it was going to be a very fun morning. Lake Georgetown looked beautiful at 7:30 in the morning and I was almost a bit envious at those who were doing the triathlon. The lake was calm and looked so refreshing. Perhaps it's time I got my butt back into the water?



The first run of the duathlon was about 1.1 miles just around the picnic area at the lake. We shortened the first run this year so it better coincided with when the swimmers would be coming out of the water and we'd all be on the bike course about the same time. For this first run, I wanted to be "comfortably uncomfortable" with my pace, so I figured right around 9 min or just under would be great and then hopefully I'd be able to push it harder on the second run. I was feeling pretty decent and got down to about 8:30 pace within the first few minutes. I kept that up and finished the that loop at 8:33 pace.

A quick transition and I was on my bike. The course for the bike is actually not all that easy. It's short...9.55 miles...but it starts out uphill. My heartrate spiked right away, hitting 160 within 3 minutes of ride time. But I stayed with it, knowing I'd get a good downhill in a couple miles. Every opportunity I got on a downhill I shifted into a tougher gear and tried to make up some time speed lost on the uphills. I want to be better with shifting, so this was good practice. By the time we got to about 7 miles I knew I was riding much better than last year. I felt a lot more comfortable and my heartrate was staying more in control overall. I ended up riding 1.1 mph faster than last year, coming in at 16.7 mph. A win in my book. It probably helped that at the turnaround on the dam at about 8 miles into the ride, I saw my friend Esther right on my butt, probably only about 30 seconds behind me. Although I didn't want to view this as competition, seeing her that close to me definitely got me moving my butt a little bit faster.

Another quick transition (where I thoroughly messed up the lapping on my watch and accidentally hit the button too many times. I had to look back on the data to estimate my transition time versus my actual run time, but I think I got it figured out based on the elapsed time of the workout. Both my transitions came in at about 40-45 seconds. Not bad for being so out of practice!

I knew I could get the second run done in under 15 minutes if I pushed myself and remembered it was a very short distance, only about 1.7 miles. I glanced at my watch to see that it was right at 44 minutes total for the workout. I remembered last year's time was 1:11:xx so even with a shortened Run 1, I was definitely doing better this year. I just felt so much stronger! I kept thinking Esther was going to blow by me right before the finish so I sped up to about 8 min pace for the last half mile. It got hard but I knew it was almost over. I ended up coming in at about 14:48 (if I estimated correctly from my watch mishap).

I finished in about 59:50 total for the 2.8 miles of running and 9.55 miles of cycling. Last year I ran 3.4 miles and cycled 9.45 miles in 1:11:33, so it was a definite improvement. I had so much fun! My entire team did a really great job out there, with speedy times for everyone. They're all very worthy competitors and they keep me on my toes day in and day out.

Informal team races like this are a great way to get into that competitive spirit, gauge where you're at in training and fitness, without the expense or nerves from an actual organized race. Teammate Amanda even made up medals for the fastest of us out there so that's a very fun keepsake.

Looking forward to the next one!

Team pre-race

The medal winners, although every single person out there killed it!



Monday, June 19, 2017

Summer has arrived

It's amazing what a difference a week can make in the weather around here. Last Saturday (the 10th), I finished my 10 mile long run as the temp hit 73. Not exactly comfortable with the sun out, but it didn't feel unbearable at all. I had a pretty good negative split on my out-and-back route and my heartrate averaged 138. I was pleased with the effort. This week when I finished my 10.4 mile run, it had hit 83 degrees, and yet still kept my heartrate at 137 average with a negative split. But it was decidedly warmer out, that's for sure. The summer arrived!

Yay for patient running partners and metal dinosaurs
Not sad about my run or the fact that I cool down in my pool.
Sad about the weather!

What's weird for me right now is throwing pace out the window on these long, slow runs. For so many years I was obsessed with my pace and felt that I needed to be hitting certain long run paces while marathon training to convince myself I could finish a marathon and not embarrass myself. With the exception of one training cycle back in 2012, I never had a lofty time goal in a marathon. That marathon didn't go as planned, but that had to do with the 80 degree temps and not my fitness. Had it been 40 degrees out I actually do think I would have broken 4 hours like I had trained to do. My other time goals over the years have been much more conservative. Basically I was in it more for fun (yes, I called marathons fun). There's not really anything wrong with that, and many people enjoy the journey and don't give a crap about the time on the clock. This attitude usually translated to running my long runs faster than my marathons. By the time I got to the start line, I was in great shape, but held back time and time again. In some cases I think I had trained too hard and just wasn't ready for the 26.2 mile distance. I could overanalyze it to death if I wanted.

I will say that I did get my half marathon training right way more often than my marathon training. I could toe the line at a half marathon and hit my goals and run very well, and usually faster than my long runs were ever ran (this is the way it's supposed to be done).

Well, I don't want that kind of crap anymore. It's time to run a marathon like I can run a half marathon.

So last week my long run was at 10:08 pace average. I used to rarely run my long runs over 10 minute pace (and yet only two of my marathons have been run at under 10 min pace). That was pretty dumb. There's absolutely nothing wrong with running this pace when your Boston-qualifying marathon pace goal is 8:58. It's actually perfectly fine, especially since I kept my heartrate exactly where I needed it to be. As I get closer to my goal race in December, and the weather cools off, my long runs will speed up naturally. I'll be fitter, the weather will be more conducive to what is comfortable to me, and I can inch closer to a 9:30 pace without overtaxing my body. Right now? I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

This week I ran 10:15 pace in 10.4 miles. It's not much slower than last week considering it was 10 degrees warmer. My heartrate tells the tale....I didn't push myself harder despite the heat, but I didn't lose too much pace. So just like with last week's long run, this week's makes me very pleased. But again, I can't lie when I say it's weird for me to be running over 10 minute pace on these long runs.

There's a time and place for race pace and faster runs. Long run weekend is not one of those, especially in this part of my training cycle and in the summer. I'm building up my base so my body is ready for more mileage. I added a fourth day to my running last week, and I have 4 weeks until the difficult training technically starts. As I get deep into training, some of my long runs will incorporate race pace miles, but usually no more than 30% of the run, and the rest of the miles will be at long run pace. Speed will happen during interval runs, tempo runs, races, track nights, and runs like those, but in order to properly prepare oneself for the rigors of the volume of marathon training, you have to allow yourself the luxury of recovery miles and long, slow miles. If I ran 8:58 pace day in and day out, at 40 or 50+ miles per week, I would be depleted on race day.

I have to be deliberate, I have to monitor my heart rate so I can track my effort and adjust as necessary, I have to respect the weather, and I have to take care of myself. I want this goal so badly and there's just no reason why I can't hit it (for the love of God, don't let it be hot on race day!).

I follow a lot of runners on Instagram (and check out a few popular ones) to see how they train. To be honest, so many of them make me CRINGE. Day in, day out they are running goal pace for every run, including long runs, and getting praised for being "so fast, so inspirational, so amazing." They complain about every run being "SO HARD." And then for many of them, they blow up on race day or (like me) their marathon times don't match up to their training. I know "slow" runs don't make you look as badass and that you want as many "likes" as you can get, but it's not worth it. If every run is done at race pace, and every run is hard, and there are no recovery miles in there, of course your body will blow up. Then I find the super fast runners who sometimes run their long runs at MY pace, yet hit super fast times in their marathons and I soak it all in. That's what I want. I want to be SMART about my training, I want to be done with my long runs and feel GREAT. I want to arrive at the start line in Pass Christian, Mississippi, and feel like I can fly because I threw down 50 mile running weeks exactly like I needed to to be successful.

That means that I'll see 10+ min pace on my watch and I can't bitch about it.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Progress

It's getting warmer out, folks. Summer in Texas is just around the corner. Oh, boy.

Tuesday morning interval workouts have been warm, but not unbearable. The humidity has been sky high (yesterday it was 98% at 5:30am), but I can't complain too much when the temp is hovering at 70 degrees instead of the usual summer 80 degree morning temp.

Can I just say the last two weeks' interval workouts have been FANTASTIC?! Neither have been easy...not at all in the least, no freaking way. But overall, I feel like I nailed the workouts and am seeing improvements.

Last week our workout was 6x5 minute intervals at mid-to-short progressive tempo pace with 1 minute recovery (oh that goes by so fast), with warm up and cool down of about 25 minutes total. With the exception of the uphill interval (I loathe that section of our trail), I ran each interval very strong and was faster than my goal pace. It got a bit warm but I never felt like my lungs were compromised during the intervals. My heartrate was getting pretty high, up to 169, and it didn't really go much below 150 during the short 1 minute recoveries, so it was an effort run for all 35 minutes of the intervals/rests.

This week we ran 3x9 minute intervals (progressive from long tempo to short tempo) with 3 minute recovery at easy pace, with about 25 minutes total of warm up and cool down. Again, I felt great during each interval and nailed my paces. Even the last interval didn't feel exceptionally difficult, and it was my fastest of the three.

Our coach Christine reminded us after the workout yesterday that if we are hitting our tempo/interval paces in these warmer, humid runs then we are definitely seeing fitness improvements. Normally we slow down a bit during the summer months, but I haven't slowed down yet. It's probably time for me to do another 5K time trial (although that's pretty painful during the summer).

I know this means that all the work I'm putting in with regards to my nutrition and consistency and effort is paying off. My head is telling me I can do it and my body is responding. Huge boost for my mental game, that's for sure. Knowing my body is stronger and my lungs are working better than usual tells me that no matter what crazy workout Christine gives us, I can do it. This also means she's probably getting wise to me and will make me run faster.

I'm going to need to add a fourth running day into my schedule soon. My marathon training technically starts mid-July and I want to build up more of a base. I'm only running about 20 miles per week right now and I need to increase that very soon. Before long I'll be running 45-50 miles per week and I need to be completely prepared for that nonsense!

I'm still the world's worst triathlete and haven't even given much thought to when I'll do another one, but I'm just having so much fun with this running thing and enjoying seeing my body transform into something I can truly be proud of.

Oh...and yes, I'm still doing an Ironman.