Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Aloha from Oahu!

Aloha from Oahu! We arrived safely on Christmas around 4:00pm local time. We were quite surprised to find out that Waikki Beach is quite the tourist area. Very busy and very Japanese. Most menus are in English and Japanese and there are very few Americans here. Tokyo is not a far flight from Oahu. We have also noticed quite a few people from Australia and France.

It is absolutely gorgeous. I am not sure that I have ever seen such beauty! We are trying to pace ourselves, but being the energetic outdoorsy types that we are, we cannot seem to sit still. We went to Diamond Head, a gigantic crater that was a "45-minute strenuous hike each way". This turned out to be a 12 min 45 second jog for me that felt like a crossfit workout. An Aussie challenged me up 1,000 stairs at the end, and with my HR nearing 180 BPM, I beat him to the top and took off. Just when I thought that I was going to puke and pass out simultaneously I saw this:

Jason and Kellie will start Epicman tomorrow at 7:00 am local time, 12:00 pm EST. The race will consist of a 7.2 mile swim, 336 mile bike, and 78.6 mile run. The race format has changed a couple of times in an effort to get the racers and crew together for the night portions.

The swim will be a 1.4 ish mile loop that they will do 5 times and then go back out for the last section to make it 7.2 miles. It takes place at Ala Moana Beach Park, which is a fantastic venue for the swim. Kayaking is not allowed, so I will be on a stand up paddle board for the majority of the swim, providing nutrition as needed and making sure Jason stays on course as he heads back in (half the loops he will be swimming as the sun rises )

Jason will then leave the park and take off on a very scenic, quite challenging 105-mile ride around the island. We are driving it now and it's breathtaking. I will be driving the loop with the RD Jason Lester to make sure Jason stays on course (roads here are pretty tricky, they all have at least 5 vowels, only 2 consonants and seem to be spelled the same).

Once the 105 mile loop is done, Jason will do a 2.8 mile loop 80 times. This will should start Thursday evening and take us overnight. By now the crews will be together and I will be able to get some sleep.

The final portion of the bike will be a short 7 mile trek back to Ala Moana Beach Park for transition.

The run consists of a 9.2 mile run out of the park. Then 7 9.2 mile loops. The run finishes with a 5 mile run to Kapiolani Park.

I am tired just typing the course out!

I will be doing my best to keep everyone updated on Jason and Kellie via FB and twitter, however, keep in mind that there is a 5-hour time difference and that I will be on a paddleboard for 3 hours at the beginning, and then pacing him for a large chunk of the run.

The amount of courage and preparation required to get to the start line of something like this is so impressive to me. All of these athletes are incredibly talented, tough, and dedicated. I am so excited to be able to participate in something of this magnitude.

There is still time to place you bets for Jason's finish time. All proceeds will go to Humble Heroes. Humble Heroes is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to assisting Police Officers and Firefighters that have been injured in the line of duty or fallen ill. Most people don't realize that many police officers work extra jobs to make ends meet. If they are injured while working, they don't get any extra compensation. Police Officers, Fire Fighters (and teachers!) are some of the most under-paid, under-appreciated people in our communities (APD hasn't given pay raises in over 8 years!!) These are the people that we depend on for safety and protection in times of need. Please try and do your part to help them in their time of need. More information on how you can donate can be found here.

Mahalo nui loa in advance for your makana! (Thank you in advance for your gift!)

Jason, Kellie, Chet the Jet:


May you have a wikiwiki race, enjoy the journey and don't forget to SMILE!

Security is mostly a superstition.
It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.
Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.
Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
- Helen Keller

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Relentless Forward Progress....

When I woke up the morning of my ride I thought that I heard rain. I opened the hotel room door to find palm trees flapping in the wind. Wind is not uncommon in Florida, particularly the beach. I checked the weather to see that there were 15-20 mph winds coming ENE. We loaded up and drove to the bridge that was the Florida/Alabama state line and the starting point of my adventure. It was drizzling and around 65 degrees. I felt oddly calm despite the wind and knowing that I had at least 419 miles of riding ahead of me. I took off and immediately realized that the wind was not a tail wind, but a mixture of a cross and headwind. I also realized that it was humid, and I was overdressed, so after a quick pit stop to lose a layer, I continued. Within the first few miles I was already on the radio asking "when do we turn again?" I was thinking "we are going to keep turning, and then I will get a TAILWIND!"

Thanks Mr. Dolphin, but I've got 20 hours left
It is an on-going joke that mother nature doesn't like me, and sure enough, she was pretty pissed. When I turned onto Hwy 98 I was holding on for dear life. My right lat was already fatigued from leaning into the wind. I radioed in asking how much longer I had before my next turn and Jason replied "about 50 miles" It was totally demoralizing. I was barely able to maintain 15 mph with a HR that was no where close to where I wanted it to be. My mind was thinking nothing but negative thoughts and I was beating myself up every time that I looked down at my bike computer and saw my speed. I was thinking about all the hard work and training I had put into the ride and now it was all a waste. Then I realized that a negative attitude wouldn't help me get anywhere any faster, so I might as well just suck it up and accept the situation for what it was.

I got really tired (like sleepy tired) around mile 110. I wanted caffeine of some sort. Jason said no, that it was too early. I was glad that I listened to him, because the feeling passed rather quickly. That was honestly the only time during the ride that I felt like I needed a nap.

The wind started to steadily die down, and around mile 120 I finally felt like mother nature was happy again. I was surprised how many people were so kind and offered words of support. It was nice to hear people yell out the window "GO DANI GO!" My crew was doing a wonderful job of bringing me bottles and sandwiches. I felt like I was taking in plenty of GU Brew and peanut butter and nutella sandwiches. The gels were not tasting as great as they normally do, so I opted to eat more solid food and drink the GU Brew instead.

Around mile 160 I felt an excruciating pain in my left knee. I had to pull over almost right away. We lasered it with our cold laser, and we also kinesiotaped it (but that didn't last very long because my skin wasn't dry) but the pain was still there. It was swollen, but I felt like I could continue. I am a big believer that things of this nature are about 1/4 physical and 3/4 psychological that you can control how you feel by your thoughts. I tried really hard to focus all my attention on something other than the throbbing pain in my knee. I thought about the people at the retirement facility where I work. How they lived through the great depression, war, so many things that our generation has never really experienced. I thought about how incredibly tough and resilient I think they are. I found strength and comfort thinking about how excited they were for me and this venture.

As night approached I felt energized. I really like riding at night, mostly because I feel like it's the hardest mentally. You have to not only be alert enough to stay awake, but you also have keep yourself entertained because you can't see more than two feet ahead of you.

Knowing that I was approaching Tallahassee was a great feeling, this was the halfway point! I like breaking all my long rides down into segments, and this ride was no different. It wasn't a 420 mile ride, it was 4 105-mile rides! Sounds MUCH easier that way doesn't it?

If anyone tells you that Florida is pancake flat, they have never attempted to ride from the West Coast to the East Coast. It is NOT flat. There are a lot of false flats, and Tallahassee is just down right hilly. Every hill appeared to be at the bottom of a light, which was of course red. The process of unclipping, stopping and re-clipping in to climb a hill was both hard on my knee and a little frustrating. Needless to say, I was happy to see Tallahassee city limits and move on.

Night riding found me having to stop quite a bit. 14+ hours of riding and drinking all day had caught up with me. I felt like I had to go to the bathroom NON STOP. I was still taking in fluids and food quite well and I had starting drinking Red Bull and Coke. My knee pain was pretty persistent and I was trying to stop and ice it once an hour while I used the bathroom.

I must have looked kinda funny, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00am running into random gas stations in full bike gear with an ice pack. One guy even came outside and took pictures. I just kept telling myself, and my crew over and over "RELENTLESS FORWARD PROGRESSION".

Not sure why he was taking pictures of me!
The miles ticked by and Jason and Chuck took turns alternating handing me bottles out the window. I asked Jason to just "talk to me" because it was helping to take my mind off the pain in my knee. He started to read all the facebook comments, and twitter messages, e-mails, and texts. At one point he even added a verse to Bethaney's rap! I was totally overwhelmed at the amount of support that I was receiving. Here I was riding all alone in the middle of the night, through tiny little towns in the middle of no where, yet I never felt alone. At one point Jason was texting our friend Alex and he said that Jill was getting up at 4am to do a "virtual" ride with me. I started crying. The more Jason talked to me, the better I started to feel. I was more than 300 miles into this thing, and was feeling better than I felt at mile 150.

I thought a lot about the journey, and what I had gone through to get to this point. I thought about what an incredible gift it is, to be able to have a body that is willing to endure such pain and keep moving. I thought about how I used to feel when I was 70 pounds overweight and would get winded walking up a flight of stairs. I thought about people who have chronic illnesses and diseases that prevent them from being healthy enough to even walk. Rather than feeling discomfort and pain I couldn't help but to feel like I was pretty lucky to have this opportunity.

120 miles left turned into 100 left, which turned into 75 left, then 50, then 25. Honestly, the last 100 or so miles almost seemed like they were unreal. Had I really been riding this long? Was I really about to be done?

Caution: Bridges become mountains after 400 miles of riding
It started to get really warm, and I began to climb bridges, which meant that I was getting closer to the beach. I needed to stop to pee, but I was SO close, I didn't dare stop. Bridges felt like gap climbs. I was giving it everything I had, but I was still barely moving. When I got into Jacksonville I was SO close I could taste it. My pace started to pick up. I could smell the beach. Jason kept telling me that I was close, but all I saw was stop signs. Millions and millions of stop signs. Then the worst part of the ride happened. We hit a detour, which just happened to be the road that I needed to turn on. I will be totally honest with you, after making a block and ended up back where we started, I totally flipped out. I wasn't very nice. I may have said a lot of bad words. Something along the lines of being a $#%&& rat in a $#&& cornmaze. I could SEE the beach, and I knew that I had to turn right on Atlantic Blvd and unclip, foot touch the sand. But I just couldn't get there. FINALLY, we found it, I was riding as hard as I could, I unclipped and ran to the sand. I was DONE. I thought that I would be really emotional and cry, but really, I just wanted to sit in the ocean and pee. So I did. Then being the show-off that I am, I attempted the longest brick workout ever, and tried to run on the beach. Horrible calf cramp stopped me about 20 feet in.

The home stretch! Such a beautiful area!
Official Elapsed time: 27:54, actual ride time 26:04. I would be lying if I told you that I wasn't disappointed. I wanted to go faster, much faster. But you cannot control the circumstances, you can just make the best with what you've got.

As I am writing this, 10 days after finishing I still don't think that it has quite sunk in. Physically, my body felt really good, almost too good. I went to the doctor to have my knee checked out, it was a pinched hoffa pad most likely caused by lowering my seat too much (lesson, leave bike maintenance to All3 Pros!) That has since subsided and I am able to ride and run without pain. The only thing that is still bothering me is my wrist. I developed De Quervain Syndrome . Yes, I am the only person in the entire world that could ride a bike for 26 hours and have their wrist in a brace. Honestly, it was probably partly due to the wind forcing me to hold on much tighter to my aerobars than normal.

There are few words to truly express how grateful I am to those of you that reached out to me before, during and after my ride. I had over 200 e-mails. Women that I have never met before sent me messages telling how inspirational they thought my performance was to them. I really had no idea that word would spread like it did, and that it would be such a big deal. Really, I am just a girl that rode her bike across a state with an official and timed it! Anyone can do this! It's all mental!

First and foremost, I have to thank my crew, Jason and Chuck, and my official Keith. I appreciate you taking times out of your busy lives and dedicating an entire weekend to helping me achieve my goal. Your support was invaluable and I wouldn't have made it one foot without you! Chuck gave up SEC championship tickets to crew for me, a true friend.

Scootise: I would still be a gym rat taking spin class if it wasn't for you. You have made more of an impact on the Atlanta Triathlon community than any other person I know. Thank you for continuing to encourage people to get involved in this wonderful sport

To my "psychological" crew back home: Slayer, Poonstar and company, Team Ryals, Tat, my All3 Sports Teammates, EC Crew, Dynamo friends, Jill's Rev3 Teammates and everyone else that offered me words of support, THANK YOU! It meant so much to me to know that there were so many people out there that cared so much about me.

My dad: Thanks for making me tough. As a child I hated the discipline, as an adult I am so thankful that you made me follow through with everything I committed to and never let me quit.


Coach Shanks: You came on board late in the game, and never once doubted whether or not I could do this. You are one goofy speedo wearing guy, but you are one of the smartest, most compassionate, and caring coaches I have ever met. I am excited to see where we can take this!

Jason: None of this would be possible without you. You have redefined what is humanly possible through your own athletic achievements. You're the most incredible athlete that I know. You may not always win, but you always finish, and always have a smile on your face. I love this journey that we are on, but even more importantly, I love you!

"Really great people make you feel that you, too, can be great." -Mark Twain

Dreams start off a minor thought in your head. Spoken out loud they receive fuel to grow. The more you nurture it, the brighter the flame gets. You share your dream with people who believe in you, and it spreads like wildfire. Suddenly it's not just your dream. People believe in you, and they want you to succeed, and when you do they are as happy for you as if they achieved it themselves. This is how I feel. I am honored to make so many people so proud of me. Thank you for your support and encouragement.

"How often in life we complete a task that was beyond the capability of the person we were when we started it. ~Robert Braul "

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Where a bike can take you....

These were posted all over work! Love my peeps!

I had a specific reason why I didn't tell my mother about my ride. She found out about it anyways the Friday before we left. She told me that it was a horrible idea, that I was a loser, Jason was a loser, and that we would never amount to anything. One thing that she said really stood out. It was "You've never gotten anywhere or anything from riding that bike and you never will."

I thought a lot about that comment in the middle of the night while I was riding my bike. And I realized that my mother was dead wrong. Here are just a few of the things that I realized:

Without riding a bike I wouldn't have done a triathlon. Triathlon has changed my life, the way I view my body, treat my body, and the earth.

Without riding my bike I never would have been hit by a drunk driver and broken my leg. Although at the time that accident was the most horrific thing that had ever happened to me, it taught me patience and kindness to people who are not able bodied. It made me appreciate life. It also required me to make a total comeback. That was humbling. I am grateful now for everything that experience taught me.

Without riding a bike I wouldn't have some of the most amazing people I have ever known in my life. The people I have encountered through this sport are some of the most talented, generous, funny, gifted people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. My life in better because of you all!

Without riding a bike I never would have done a triathlon, which means I never would have been on the All3 Sports Team. Without being on their team I never would have met Jason. I have never met anyone so perfect for me! It's fate I tell ya!

The more I rode, the more I realized that bike riding is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Instead of being angry over my mothers words, I actually felt sorry for her. Obviously, she needs a bike.

Everyday I work with people who have about 2-10 years left to live. It's sad, but it's the truth. One thing this has taught me is to live the life that YOU want to live. Don't be the person you think someone else wants you to be. I listen to these people talk about regrets, but I never hear them say "I regret doing things that made me happy." My bike makes me happy. No, it will never make me rich. I will never be famous. Yes, I am sure that I miss a lot of things because I am out riding. But bottom line: My bike makes me happy.

"Far better it is to do mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failures, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." -Theodore Roosevelt

Pedal away my friends!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Some final pre-ride thoughts.....

How awesome is this? We will trim it down to go on the back window of the support van!

This Sunday I will begin my 419 mile ride across the state of Florida. I am really excited, not really that nervous yet, but REALLY looking forward to getting to Florida and RIDING FOREVER!

I've chosen not to wear music. My best training has been done with just me thinking to myself. Plus I will have an earpiece in to listen to my crew for directions, so I don't want to miss anything. Lately I have been thinking a lot about the fact that I don't know anyone who has ever tried to ride 419 miles without stopping. I wish I knew someone, anyone, really because I have so many questions. Since I don't know anyone, I have already been thinking about all the things that will run through my head. I have said it before and I will say it again. ANYONE can go slow for a long period of time. It's all mental! And I have been training my brain!

"419 Miles is a long way to go"

Nothing easy is worth having. - my BF Scootsie has been telling me this repeatedly for the last 6 years

"My XYZ hurts"


EAT THAT PAIN! -Clyde Watts

"It's cold."

There is no such thing as bad weather. Only wimpy people.

" I'm tired. Maybe I should stop and rest."

No quit in this body. No quit in this mind. -Jill Poon

"I've got THAT many miles left?"

Suck it up buttercup- Jason Overbaugh

"This sucks."

You can't fake miles. You've got to earn them. -Coach Shanks

As long as I keep my mind right, plenty of food in my belly, and my stops to a minimum I am going to finish in a respectable amount of time. I will be obeying all traffic laws, which will slow me down some.

Thanks for all the well wishes and positive messages I have received already. You guys are awesome! I will be thinking about all of you and the ways that you inspire and encourage me! Jason will be updating you on my progress via my facebook page.

I want to leave you with the following conversation that I had with my peeps yesterday. They were chalk full of new questions and concerns about my ride. I explained to them that I would be back to work Wednesday.

Me: "Don't expect a lot out of me Wednesday. I might be walking with a limp. And I am probably taking the elevators. Don't laugh"

90 year old: "So you are basically saying that you are going to be like we are everyday?"