Monday, June 28, 2010


Here is a picture of Buster coming home with us about a month ago.
Here is a picture of Buster now.

I think he's happy. His face says it all....we love him and he has fit right in with our family.

Looking forward

Ironman Canada is 9 weeks away. 9 weeks from yesterday. I will be honest. I am scared to death.

Yesterday was Ironman Coeur d'Alene. We had several friends racing this event and we tracked them on We were obsessed all day long - "are they out of the water?" "Have they passed the first bike checkpoint?" "Are they going to make the bike cut off time"? "what is their pace for the first mile"? "are they going to finish before midnight?"

It was nuts. I was so nervous and anxious, almost as if we were racing ourselves. My chest was tight during the day and I couldn't stop thinking about them. There were three we were tracking. One is a friend who was trying to qualify for Kona. He needed to finish top 5 in his age group. He was racing the clock. We had another friend who was making good progress and making his way towards the finish. We had yet another friend who was moving along nicely, having a blast, but really coming close to the cutoffs. She was fighting the clock in a different way.

The first, qualified for Kona, but finished 6th in his age group and didn't know until today that he made it. The next, finished in 15 hours and 30 minutes, right on track. The last, did not finish and was picked up at mile 134 at 10:30 pm - 15 hours and 30 minutes into her day.

I had so much emotion for all of these people and I couldn't help but think about how my day with be, how my race with be run. And it scared me. It scared me a lot. We started this journey more than a year ago and to believe that we will complete an Ironman is impossible to wrap my mind around. I realized that I better start wrapping my mind around it. I better start shifting my thoughts to the possible.

Last year, the idea of completing a half Ironman was just as impossible. And I did that. In fact, I did it again on Saturday. I have run 3 marathons in the last 12 weeks. I am in the best shape of my life right now. Ironman is just another step on the way.

I figured that I can either be afraid or I could train. I have been training all this time and it has worked pretty well for me, so I think I will just continue with that. I sat down today and finalized our training plan for the next 9 weeks. It feel good to put it down on paper, to look at it and know without a doubt that these are the things that will prepare me.

Saturday's Half Ironman was a very good gauge of my abilities and I realized that I am right on track. The swim always scares me, but I get through it because I train for the distance. Over the next 9 weeks, we'll train for the 2.4 mile swim. I feel confident on the bike, we just need to put in some long rides. I have 5 rides over 90 miles planned. That should help. The run? That's my strong point. I can run a marathon. I can finish a marathon and I can do it strong. We'll run three long runs in the next 9 weeks - 15, 18 and 26 miles.

Mentally, the time has come to really get to work. That is where my event will be won or lost. I will spend lots of time visualizing my success, my event and who I want to be that day no matter what happens.

As it gets closer I will work on the logistics for the day, times/splits, etc so I won't have to spend any energy doing math on how far I need to be by when. I found it difficult to do any math during the half on Saturday, I expect that will get more difficult as the miles wear on.

Ultimately, this event is something I chose to do. No one is making me do it. I have to remember that. I love how it feels to push my body further than I ever thought possible. I love how it feels to see Trevor do that same. We'll be out there together, along with it up. That should be exciting! Not scary. And so it will be.

2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run - what could be better than that? In 9 weeks, I will know. Its time to look forward and put in the work.

Pacific Crest Half Ironman Race Recap Part 2

The race didn't start until 9, so we didn't have to get up super early. We got out of bed around 5:30 (when did that become "not super early"?), we had our smoothies and coffee, got dressed, loaded our stuff into the car and headed to the bus pickup area.

This event starts and finishes at different places. So, we dropped our bikes off out at the lake on Friday. That was where we would start. We would then ride our bikes back into town to the next transition point. We set up our run gear in the morning and hopped on the bus out to the lake. We got out there with plenty of time to set up.

The hours before the event starts are the worst time for me. This is when I get anxious. I would be better off to just get there and go...waiting around is bad for me! We got all our gear set up and ready to go. I walked down to the lake - it looked very calm and clear. The air temperature had to be in the high 60s, it felt warm already.

I started to get into my wetsuit early because it takes me forever to get it on. We were there over an hour before we started and Trevor said "do you think that will give you enough time to get into your wetsuit". It was...just barely....

My heart rate got up to 117 while putting on my suit and then up to 125 while we were waiting for the start. I get SO nervous before the swim. Once we get in the water I usually settle down, but like I said...the waiting around is the worst.

Finally it was time to go. Trevor and I were in the same wave together, I liked that. I don't like to watch him go out ahead of me. Doug was in the wave behind me. The horn sounded and it had begun.

My plan was to do a few breast strokes, then put my head down and go. There was a guy out there in the previous wave who was breast stroking. I told Trevor I would sight off him! I followed my plan, put my head down and swam. I stayed to the outside, way outside. I probably swam an extra half mile because of my line, but I didn't care. I wanted to be comfortable.

I am a stronger swimmer than I give myself credit for. Really, I am. I have a history of getting seasick on boats and I read a race recap once of a girl who got seasick during a triathlon, so now this is something I worry about. Because of the others in the water, it was a little rough - I kept checking myself to see if I felt sick - instead of just swimming.

The swim is a HUGE mental battle for me. It takes me a while to calm down. Today was no different. I give myself positive self talk the entire swim, but its still tough. This is something I really need to work out for Ironman. I can do it. I can totally do it. And this day, I did it just fine. There was a few minutes after I made the last turn towards home where I hit a sweet spot and felt really strong. Then some guy swam into me and blew it. Now I know that feeling and I just need to find it in all my swims.

I got out of the water and heard them call my name "Tracy Bryant from Vancouver, Washington"

Swim time: 51.07 minutes
This was about 6 minutes slower than I had hoped and 2 minutes slower than Lake Stevens. However, Lake Stevens was an out and back, this had several turns and I did swim further than necessary. Either way, I was THRILLED to be out of the water.

T1: 6:25

Now, onto the bike. I saw Doug getting on his bike too. Trevor was already out of the water and off on his bike by then.

This bike route was billed as tough - there were three "challenging climbs". I feel pretty confident in my climbing ability. The sun was shining bright, no clouds in the sky. I knew the temperature was going to rise quickly. I followed my nutrition plan and stayed hydrated. The ride went fast. I knew that I needed to make it to mile 38 and then it was literally all downhill.

The climbs were tough, I was in my smallest gear for more time than I expected, but I didn't feel like I was mashing my pedals. I felt strong and steady and just kept riding. I got to mile 38 and only passed one person walking their bike. I didn't have any moments where I felt like I couldn't go on or like I wanted it to be over.

After mile 38, it was a long fast downhill. That was FUN! I sat back and enjoyed the ride. By this time, my stomach was feeling a little crampy and I didn't like that. I have been experiencing that in training and can't figure out what is causing it.

We neared the finish of the bike. I was hoping to finish up around 3 hours and 15 minutes, 3 hours and 30 at the latest. I did Lake Stevens last year in 3 hours and 38 minutes. I wanted to beat that. I didn't take into account this event is 2 miles longer on the bike. Add in the heat, which we have had no training in this year and that slowed things down a bit. Oh...and that last long climb where I went 5 miles an hour for at least one mile....that had something to do with it too.

Pulled into bike tranisition. done. Yay.
Bike time: 3:45:15

I got off the bike and my hip was locked up a bit. I walked over to my gear. Changed my shoes, too off my helmet, got my gels, nuun tabs, put on some sunscreen, my visor and off I went.

T2: 4:01

I knew the run would be a challenge. I tried not to think and just ran. My stomach was really cramping and it hurt to breath. All the other participants around me were walking. I refused to walk. I knew that if I started walking now, I would never run. So I ran. Super slow. At one point, a girl next to me was walking and I was running and we were at the same pace. I didn't care, I just kept running.

My skin was covered in salt. It was SO hot out there. I kept focusing on moving forward. I stopped at all the water stations and walked. I got ice and put it down my shirt. I put cold water into my water bottle. Then I put in my electrolyte tabs and that helped. I was having a tough time keeping my heart rate down and I was worried.

Now is when the doubt started to creep in. I thought about those people talking at the bike store and I started to feel like I was ridiculous to be out here doing this. Who did I think I was? The winners of this event were done in like 4 hours and they were home, showered and out to dinner by now. I was still out there, slogging away like a big loser. I fought these thoughts for a few miles. Really feeling sorry for myself.

There were less than 500 people in this event. I was alone for most of the bike and the run. That is a long time to be completely alone with your thoughts. I was hoping that if I just kept moving forward, kept trying to cool down with ice, my stomach would stop cramping.

Around mile 6, my stomach stopped cramping. I felt better. I think I even sped up. At this point, no one was passing me anymore. I was passing others and they were all walking. But not me, I was not going to walk. I just wasn't.

I rounded the corner and had about a mile left to go, maybe less and then I had the worst experience I have ever had during any event. The run went through the resort of Sunriver, all along the bike path. At intersections, they had flaggers. I came to a crosswalk and there was no flagger. I was right by the pool area for the Lodge there. A guy came out of the pool and was flagging down one of the shuttle buses for the resort. The shuttle bus stopped right in front of my in the crosswalk. I was going to have to go around him. After 7 hours and 15 minutes of forward movement, the idea of having to take any extra steps was too much for me. I said outloud "are you kidding me?". The bus saw me and tried to get out of my way. The guy who had flagged him down said to me "You are going like a mile an hour. Run faster and chill out" in a really rude voice. I was silent for a minute and then the New Jersey girl in me yelled back a profanity so loudly that I was pretty sure I was going to be disqualified!

I wanted to cry. I was less than a mile away from the finish. I wanted to say to him "I've just covered 71 miles in the water, on bike and now on foot. What have YOU done all day but sit around and drink beer by the pool. This hurt my feelings so badly and I started to cry. Again, I felt so ridiculous for even attempting this.

Then I came around the corner to the finish line. I saw Doug's family and Doug and the announcer said "here comes the beloved Tracy Bryant". I don't know why he said or really if he said that, but that is what I heard. And just like that, it was done.

Run: 2:44:19
I wanted to run in about 2:23, but the heat was just too much for me and so was the stomach cramp.

Overall time: 7:31:08

I wanted to finish in under 7 hours, but I had not taken into account the extra two miles on the bike or the heat. Trevor and Doug both took longer to finish than they expected, so I felt okay about my time.

Really, I was proud of myself. True to form, I started out slow and picked up speed - I came out of the swim in 373rd place, go off the bike in 366th place and finished overall in 347th place. I have come so far and I know I am worthy of being out there. I really do. I work hard, I fight hard, for every single inch that I cover.

Even though my times were a little longer that I wanted, I followed my plan. I swam steady, I rode with intent and I ran the run - I walked the water stations, but ran the rest of the time. That to me is a huge success. The day was fun, as much fun as something like that can be. I felt lucky to be alive, to be able to do these kinds of things with Trevor and Doug. The course was beautiful. And really, what would I have been doing otherwise....

Pacific Crest Half Ironman Race Recap Part 1

This was set to be our first triathlon of the season. We've done three marathons this year, but no organized races. Nothing like starting off with a Half Iron distance. I wasn't feeling too nervous about the event, mostly because we have really been training hard and I felt ready for the distance. Of course, I always stress, but deep down, I knew I was ready.

Earlier in the week, we were down at a bike shop, looking at bikes. Trevor was out on a test ride and I was waiting for him. I was listening to some of the conversations going on around me and I didn't like what I heard. There were two people who had done Ironman before. The girl was saying how she was going to Coeur D'Alene this weekend for the Ironman and volunteering at the finish line as a "catcher". These are the people who get you at the finish and make sure you are okay, take you to medical if needed, etc. Well, she was volunteering for an early shift, because she said that the people who finish later in the day aren't giving it their all and so it isn't as fun for her. Honestly, that hurt my feelings. For her to think that the people who take 13, 14, 15, 16...17 hours to finish aren't giving their all? That will be me out there in a few weeks and I know I will be giving my all, no matter how long it takes.

Then , the guy said something that bugged me even more....he said "anyone can do Ironman...its more impressive to race the shorter distances and place". WHAT? Well, these things swirled around in my head for the next few days and got to me. I am slow....most of the time I am okay with that....until I hear someone say something like these two were saying and then I feel almost ridiculous for even thinking I can do this kind of stuff. Don't you hate it when you let people get in your head when they don't deserve to be there?

Anyway, that is how I went into Pacific Crest, with a little bit of doubt....We'll come back to this point in my race recap part 2....

Trevor and I headed over to Sunriver, in Eastern Oregon, on Friday morning. We got over there, picked up our packets, took our bikes out to the transition and headed back to the house we were renting. We stayed with our friend Doug and his family in the most amazing house (score Doug!!!). We unpacked our stuff, headed to dinner, back to the race briefing and then to wind down and hit the sack.

It was a busy day, I felt like we were on the go the entire time. Pacific Crest is an entire weekend of events. They have a kids run, Half Iron Triathlon, long course duathlon, marathon, Half marathon, Olympic Triathlon, Spring Triathlon, and 5k. So much going on, every where you looked were athletes. We saw a lot of familiar faces. That was comforting!

We turned in early and had a great nights sleep, ready to take on the mileage again....

9 down, 9 to go...

This will be a quick recap of the total week, then I will post about our event on Saturday.

This week was our half Ironman at Pacific Crest. While we were tapering for this event, we knew it was also just another training day on the road to Ironman. So, we pushed things a bit during the week. The weather kept us from getting in a super long ride on Sunday, but that's okay....

Here's how the week went...
Sunday: 9 mile run. Planned an 85 mile bike ride, but it was raining, so we relaxed instead.
Monday: Spin for 60 minutes
Tuesday: 30 mile bike ride, 40 minute run
Wednesday: 45 minute swim
Thursday: rest
Friday: rest
Saturday: Pacific Crest Half Ironman - 50 minute swim, 3 hour and 45 minute bike ride, 2 hour and 45 minute run

Total for the week:
Swim: 1 hour and 35 minutes
Bike: 7 hours and 15 minutes
Run: 5 hours
Weights: rest week
Total: 13 hours and 50 minutes

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The last workout, well...not really....

This morning was our last workout before the half Ironman on Saturday. I always like the last workout before an event. It feels like the moment before the moment. Its a time to reflect upon all the workouts that lead up to it. This time, it was a time to reflect upon where we go from here.

It is still tough to wrap my mind around the idea that this half ironman on Saturday is just a step on the road to the full Ironman. Last year, the half was our final destination. This year, it is just part of the training. Just like all those marathons have been training runs, this will be a training day!

We swam this morning for 30 minutes. It was a good one. I am ready for two days off, that is for sure. We'll take tomorrow as a rest day, Friday will be our travel day and Saturday is THE day.
The weather is shaping up to be nice and sunny, that will be a change!!

I feel ready for the distance. We've swam the distance in open water three times in the last two weeks. We've bike more than the distance probably 4 or 5 times and we've run the distance about a thousand times! Two weeks ago, we had a long workout that was pretty close to the half iron distance. Its not as intimidating as before, but honestly, for me, every workout is intimidating.

I will spend some time in the next day or so doing some visualization, thinking about how I want Saturday to go, who I want to be that day. The thing I love most about these events is that it gives me the chance to really see what I am made of. I know its going to be great. I just know it.

Of course, our road to Ironman teammate, Doug, will be there too. Having Trevor and Doug out there with me makes the day much better. Its going to be so much FUN!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

8 down, 10 to go...

This week was back to a higher volume. We really did a lot of swimming this week - all open water. As I mentioned in previous posts, I get so anxious! These swims were good and I feel ready for our Half Ironman next weekend.

It is strange that the upcoming Half Ironman is our first triathlon of the season and part of training for Ironman Cananda. Last year, it was our big event for the year and we trained all summer long for it.

I have been looking back on my posts and my notes from last year's training and I noticed a common theme - I was ALWAYS tired. Exhausted. I think that had more to do with my mental state than anything else. I was working at the paper at the time and I was getting up at 4 am to get my training done. Then I would come home and do a second workout. Just thinking about that makes me tired. I remember days when I would lay my head on my desk at work because I couldn't hold it up any longer.

This year, we started with a much higher base of fitness and we have really pushed our training to the next level. So while I do feel tired, I don't feel completely exhausted every single minute of every single day. Progress...right?

Here's how the week went...
Sunday: 1.3 mile (45 minute) swim, 52 mile bike (3 hours 40 minutes), 6.5 (one hour and 10 minutes) mile run.
Monday: Spin for 60 minutes!
Tuesday: 45 min upper body weights, 40 minute run
Wednesday: 60 min spin classes, 30 minute swim
Thursday: 45 minutes upper body weights, 40 minute run
Friday: 40 minute swim
Saturday: 45 minute swim

Total for the week:
Swim: 2 hours and 40 minutes
Bike: 5 hours and 40 minutes
Run: 2 hour and 30 minutes
Weights: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Total: 11 hours and 20 minutes

Friday, June 18, 2010

Steady as she goes

We are now into the part of our training that requires and allows for open water swimming. I have serious issues with the open water. I worked on this last year and continue to work on it this year. I can get in the pool and swim for an hour. Put me in the open water and I panic. Not so much panic, but certainly feelings of anxiety. If we are going to swim at night, I worry all day long about it, I try to get out of it, I hope for pouring rain and lightning! Mornings aren't so bad, mostly because I don't have time to worry so much.

This week we have swam two times and will swim a third tomorrow. Once I get in the water, I calm down and seem to settle into a groove. My mind will play tricks on me every so often and I feel a bit of the panic creep in. Then I remind myself that I am capable of swimming and I calm back down.

I was telling my friend Doug about my anxiety issues. He said that I always seem so steady and he has never detected the anxiety. Then he went on to say that my ability to push myself out of my comfort zone in so many parts of my life is something he admires about me. I think that may be one of the best compliments I have ever received.

I realized that I wanted to be the way Doug sees me. I wanted to be steady. Since he made those comments, I have been focusing on being steady and enjoying my ability to push myself out of my comfort zone.

Every time I get in the water, I am pushing myself WAY outside my comfort zone. I have to fight back all kinds of negative thoughts running through my head. Every time I get out of the water, I feel proud. I remember that two years ago, I couldn't even swim one length of the pool. Now, I go swim a mile in the open water as an "easy" training day.

This morning when I was swimming, I thought of Doug saying that I was steady and I smiled...underwater, to myself....and I just kept going. Thanks Doug. I needed that.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

This is the life...

This past weekend we did not have our marathon group meeting on Sunday. Previously, we have been doing our group run, then going for our long bike ride. Our time is limited, so we have to squeeze it all in on one day. This was our first opportunity to do things in their correct order.

We headed to the pond with our friend Doug. We swam three laps, 1.3 miles. Then we got on our bikes and rode about 50 miles. Then we got off our bikes and ran about 6.5 miles. Whew. It felt good. The sun was out for the first time in months. It was just a good day.

I always have anxiety over the swim. I am totally capable of swimming, but I just get anxious. This day was no different. The water was calm and cool. The pond is gross, but I try not to think about it. It took a bit to settle in, but finally I did and the 45 minute swim went pretty fast. I need to work on mentally enjoying each stroke. I sometimes find myself wanting the swim to be over. I had success last year when I really just focused on the moment, on the now. This will come with practice. This was only our third time in the open water this season and I saw more than the Half Ironman distance, I felt really good about that.

Doug had run 21 miles the day before and was thinking we would ride about 25 miles. He should know better than that! We had 50 planned and Doug, being the trooper he is, came along for all of it. The first 25 was HILLY. It went fast. The next 25 we pretty much flat. There was a crazy headwind that seemed to blow both ways. It was so annoying. But I guess that is how you build strength?!

We got off the bike and ran for about 65 minutes. I felt really good. I could have kept going and was happy with my pace. We finished up and got back in the pond to cool our legs and feet. That felt so good.

This day really set my mind at ease. We have the half ironman at Pacific Crest on June 26th. We swam further than we will need to swim, we rode 8 miles less than we'll need to ride and we ran half the run. Distance that day will be 1.2 mile swim, 58 mile bike, 13.1 mile run. I feel more than ready for it. That is a good feeling.

I keep trying not to look past Pacific Crest. After that, we push full steam ahead to the Full Ironman on August 29th. That will be double all our distances and that seems overwhelming, so I don't want to focus on that right now. I want to focus on what I am ready for. Once we conquer that, I can turn my sights to Ironman. Our training is on track. We just need to continue on.

At one point during our ride, Trevor and Doug were up ahead of me. The sun was shining and I thought to myself "I am out here with my two favorite guys, doing things I never imagined I would be able to do....THIS is the life".

Friday, June 11, 2010

7 down, 11 to go

The week after the marathon, time for a little recovery! Last week was crazy, with over 16 hours of training, this week was really light, around 6 hours. Next week we will ramp things back up.

This week we completed our first open water swims of the season. We've been putting time in the pool over the past months, but we haven't been outdoors until now. The first swim of the season always has the ability to scare the crap out of me. I can swim non-stop for over an hour in the pool, but I get in the pond for the first time and I feel like I don't know how to swim at all. I panic. I feel anxious for the entire swim and never really fall into a groove. Then I worry about the events we have coming up and wonder how in the hell I am going to survive. That sets off a whole new panic...I'm in over my head, can I get out of it? its too soon, I haven't put in enough work. I think those things while I am in the water, then for the next two days until I get back into the water.

We swam on Tuesday - two laps around the pond. It was tough. I couldn't relax. The good thing is that last year, the first swim of the season was only one lap and I barely made it. I am much further along now. Which is good news because we have a Half Ironman Triathlon two weeks from tomorrow (gulp).

We swam again on Thursday and I'll be honest....I didn't want to. I was scared. I spent the entire day hoping that the rain wouldn't stop and we wouldn't have to go. It did stop and we did go. It was a GREAT swim. We did the same two laps and I fell into a comfortable rhythm after just a few strokes. That sure helped my confidence!

We'll swim four times next week and then at least once the following week. So I will get at least 5 more open water swims before our event. That will be enough to get the kinks worked out and be comfortable. I know I can do this. I did it last year and this year I am in much better condition and have spent much more time preparing.

Time to get excited and stop being scared.

Here's how the week went...
Sunday: rest, day after marathon - 90 minutes massage...ahhhhh.
Monday: Spin for 60 minutes - man my legs were sore!
Tuesday: 60 min upper body weights, 35 minute swim
Wednesday: 60 min spin classes - legs were feeling better
Thursday: 60 minutes upper body weights, 30 minute swim (same course, just faster!)
Friday: 10k run - ran and marked the course for the ARC in Motion event that I am race directing on Saturday
Saturday: rest

Total for the week:
Swim: 1 hour and 5 minutes
Bike: 2 hours
Run: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Weights: 2 hour
Total: 6 hours and 15 minutes

Here's the crazy was fun...all of it!

Monday, June 7, 2010

6 down, 12 to go

This has been a long week. We had two big workouts in the last 7 days. The longest bike ride ever and a marathon. The time we put in was over just 4 days, with three days of rest....

Here is how the week went.
Sunday: 1.75 hour run (10 miles), 68 miles bike ride (took 5.75 hours, lots of hills and some breaks), 10 minute transition run
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 40 min run, 60 min upper body weights
Wednesday: 1 hour and 10 minute swim and 60 min spin classes
Thursday: rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 26.2 mile run - 5 hours and 5 minutes

Total for the week:
Swim: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Bike: 6.75 hours
Run: 7 hours and 40 minutes
Weights: 1 hour
Total: 16 hours and 35 minutes

Here's the crazy was fun...all of it!

Newport Marathon Race Report

The Newport Marathon was on Saturday, June 5th. This would be our 3rd marathon in 8 weeks. Hard to believe, but true. The last two marathons we've done have been just me, Trevor and our Ironman friend, Doug. This time, many of our Vancouver Fit friends joined us. This is the event that we have all been training for all winter long together.

The rest of the group headed down early on Friday. Trevor and I got out of town around 4 and headed for the coast. We stopped at Outback Steakhouse and had our traditional pre-event dinner. Then we hit the road for the additional two hour drive. We arrived around 8:30. Our pals had already picked up our packets. We went through them, got all our gear layed out for the morning and hit the sack.

We got up around 4:45 on Saturday morning and were able to enjoy our smoothies and some coffee. We stayed in an amazing condo right on the bay. It was perfect. The weather looked like it was going to be awesome - sun was showing itself for the first time in weeks. We got our gear together and headed out to catch the bus to the start line.

Our condo was literally right across the street from the finish line and the start line was about a mile away. We took the bus to the start and met up with the others in our group. We milled around and before you know it, the gun went off - I wasn't really even aware it was start time! But off we went....

The first 4 miles of the route was through town, a little loop that took us along the ocean. So beautiful. I looked at the waves and thought to myself "this is the life". We are so fortunate to be here, doing this.

We had all our friends with us - Trish, Doug, Jo, Trish and Greg - Greg was our official photographer, he was injured and didn't run the marathon, Angel, Pete, Liz, Amanda, Dawn and Trevor. Robin was there cheering us on too! Quite a group. It felt good knowing they were out there.

Around mile 3, I saw Greg from the first of many times out on the route. Since he wasn't running, he decided to be the on-course support for all of us. He had his backpack full of things we might need and his camera. He took hundreds of pictures of us, cheered us on and was the highlight of the day. I would see him up ahead (in his Max Muscle shirt) and I would start to smile because I knew some sweaty love was coming my way. Every time he saw me he would yell out to me and then tell me how proud he was. I don't know if he can ever really know what that meant. I hope someday I can return that favor and give him the kind of support and emotional boost he gave me. I love that guy.

We went down a gravel hill, along a boardwalk and then past the finish line. Now we were on the long out and back. I settled into a pretty good pace and was feeling good. I was trying to stay in the middle of the road because I had some previous issues with my IT band. I didn't want to run with the slope of the road. This was a pretty good plan until the fast runners started coming back towards us.

About the time we started to cross paths with the runners on the "back" portion of the out and back, a slight wind picked up. I was unable to keep a straight line in the road because the "backers" all seemed to want to run down the middle of the road. For a bit I was feeling disoriented and not right. I just kept trying to focus on one foot in front of the other. I knew that once I hit the turn around near mile 16 or 17, I would have the middle of the road back.

Shortly before the turnaround, I started to see my friends. First Trevor, who looked awesome. Then, Trish and Doug. Then Pete and Amanda. Then Trish and Jo. I made the turn around and headed back. Headed home - sounded good to me. I then saw Angel and Liz and finally Dawn. All accounted for.

I forged my path down the middle of the road. I wasn't feel so disoriented anymore, now I was just feeling beat. It was getting hot out there. We haven't seen the sun in a while, so to have 70 degrees in sun might as well have been desert!

As usual, my quads and IT bands were doing all the work. My glutes and my hamstrings were enjoying a nice ride along the bay. They never engage. I need to work on that! After my legs had enough, the tension moved into my shoulders and then into my abs. I was trying to be a tight ball of forward movement.

I came up on Jo and she was walking, then running, having a tough time controling her heartrate. We stayed together for the rest of the run. I stayed at my one speed. She would pass me, then walk and I would pass her. We played leap frog from about 9 miles and that didn't bother me one bit. She is one of the strongest women I know, so I gather strength from having her near me.

Around mile 20, I said to her "6 more to go - just out to Wintler and back". This is our short Sunday run and it helps me in the last few miles to think of it in terms of something I have done a thousand times.

Soon we came upon Pete. Pete was having a tough time, but he just kept moving. That is what I love about these people...they all just keep moving.

I finally got to the point where I could see the Newport bridge and I knew we were close to the finish. I knew the next sign we saw would be mile 25, then it was just a bit until 26 and then we were done. They threw in a bit of a surprise, mile 25 to 26 was uphill. The route was almost all flat until then. Nice. We toughed it out uphill, then it was a fast downhilll to the finish.

I crossed the line just a bit behind Jo and I was SO relieved to be done. 5 hours and 4 minutes. 3 minutes faster than my last marathon - my best time ever! The idea that I could do three marathons in 8 weeks and have every one be faster than the one before really blew my mind!

This picture cracks me up - the look on my face says it all. That was right when I crossed the finish line. So glad to be done. Doesn't it look like it?

At the finish line I saw all my friends. It was fun to hear how everyone did. Some were happy, some were not, but we were all together and that made it okay.

Trevor, Doug and I are now official Marathon Maniacs. You become part of this group by doing 3 marathons in less than 90 days. Now we get the honor of paying to join the group and buying shirts that say "marathon maniac". Its a pretty cool thing, nothing I ever thought I would do and I owe that to Doug. He's the one that slipped in the Capitol City Marathon three weeks ago. Thanks Doug.

We ate, got massages and headed back to our rooms. Everyone was staying the night but Trevor and I needed to get home. We cleaned up and hit the road.

This was probably my favorite marathon so far. I loved seeing so many familiar faces. Like Trish says "smile when it feels good, smile when it hurts". Its easier to do that when you aren't alone. And really, with friends like these, we are never alone.

Good job everyone. I am proud of every single one of you and can't figure out how I got so lucky to know you all. Let's do it again soon!