Off to Ironman Lake Placid - time to reflect

It was only four years ago when Karel and I made the trip up to Lake Placid for the 2013 Ironman. Not only was this an amazing opportunity to make memories together in a new location but this was Karel's very first Ironman! Although I never take an Ironman start for granted, I couldn't believe that I would be sharing a 140.6 mile race course with Karel for my 6th Ironman. I was so use to seeing Karel on the sidelines that it was a little strange, exciting and special to see Karel on the race course. 

When we arrived to Lake Placid, we were in awe of the mountain views. The scenery was breathtaking and we felt so lucky that we could race in such a beautiful venue while soaking in all of the nature around us. Lake Placid was the last place that we both visited before we decided to move to Greenville, SC. After returning home from IM Lake Placid in 2013, it was only 6 months later that we decided to make the scary but exciting decision to leave the beach scene and familiarity of Jacksonville, FL and move to the mountains as we craved a bike friendly playground to maintain our active lifestyle and a fresh start to grow the Trimarni business. 

Crossing an Ironman finish line is always an emotional and exhilarating feeling, but knowing that I was sharing the entire race experience with Karel was extremely special. For the first time, I was able to share my race stories with Karel and he could share his experiences with me. It was so fun to talk about those inside details with each other - and walk a little funny together after the race. 

Although I went into the race with limited running due to another setback with my hips/back and we both had our challenges during the race, it was a great race experience to share together and it made me realize how much I love racing the Ironman distance. 

After the awards ceremony, I received a roll down slot to my 3rd Ironman World Championship just 12 weeks later. Although Karel was not able to come to Kona with me due to work (GM of the Jacksonville Trek Store), I was able to share the special experience with my dear friend Dr. G

Although I was celebrating my 7th Ironman without Karel, I was extremely proud of my body for racing so well (IM PR) just 3 months after Ironman Lake Placid. Somehow, Lake Placid taught me a lot about myself and since then, I have not been seriously injured and have experienced huge improvements in my fitness and racing performances.

Although our 2013 Ironman Lake Placid experience left us with happy memories, inside, Karel and I were both dealing with the news that my dad had stage IV cancer. A few weeks before our trip, my dad was in the hospital due to having major surgery on his spine. He was given little chance of walking again and a poor prognosis of making a full recovery from his cancer. 

My training was severely affected because mentally, it was hard for me to be in the zone during a workout. I couldn't clear my head and I wanted to be with my dad, in the hospital, as much as possible. It was extremely hard to wake up each morning, questioning how much longer my dad would be with us. But my dad's strength was contagious. I've always admired his positive attitude and his ability to live life to the fullest every day of his life and even during his cancer diagnosis, he still stayed positive. He was so excited for Karel to tackle his first Ironman and he was so proud of us to both for being able to do amazing things with our body, while celebrating our good health. After cancer took my dad's life after a hard 10-month fight, I learned that good health is a gift and we should never ever take it for granted. When an opportunity arises to do something amazing with your body, take it! 

It was then 2 years later, in 2015, when we returned back to Ironman Lake Placid with a few of our Trimarni athletes (Joe, Mike, Adam and Heidi). This was an extremely special experience to share Lake Placid with our athletes and to give Karel another opportunity to race on one of his favorite race courses. 

Sadly, things didn't go as planned leading up to the race. Near the end of May, Karel tore his plantar fascia after two super strong performances that gave him a lot of confidence with his fitness. He didn't get the diagnosis of the severity of the injury until he had a MRI just 24 hours before we left for IM Lake Placid. With this being Karel's first injury, he had a really hard time accepting that he would not be able to do the run at Ironman Lake Placid. This left Karel with a ton of emotions going into the race, including a lot of frustration. But knowing that he had his first Ironman World Championship just 12 weeks later, he made the hard but smart decision of pulling out of the race after the bike. 

After his race was over and he turned in his chip, he joined me out on the course to cheer for the rest of our Trimarni athletes. Although Karel was disappointed with how his second Ironman Lake Placid experience went down, it was a special experience to see our athletes cross the finish line. Although Karel's injury was very slow to heal (11 months), not running on it ensured that he wouldn't do any further damage.  

Karel's foot injury was tough to handle but we noticed that Campy was experiencing seizures more frequently while in Lake Placid. This was very scary. As soon as we returned home, we had to attend to Campy's health with several vet appointments to figure out what was going on with Campy's brain. Finally, we were able to control his seizures with medication and since then, he hasn't had a seizure. 

Admittedly, my head was not in a good place in the summer of 2015 with so much going on in our life over the past year. Despite Karel and I sharing our first Ironman World Championship experience together (and my 4th IMKona), I couldn't get my mind off Karel's foot, wondering what would happen to him on race day and still grieving over the loss of my dad. 

We both finished the race but I was very disappointed with my performance as my body and mind were not in a good place on race day. After IM Kona 2015, I decided that I would take a break from IMKona and just focus on training and racing without putting any pressure on myself to re-qualify. Since then, I have experienced huge improvements with my fitness and have maintained great health. I've also noticed an improved joy with training and racing. 

Thankfully, Karel's foot was ok for the run (picture from IM Kona 2016) and although he had a few niggles for the next few months, his foot finally healed about 11-months after the tear and he went on to achieve great results in 2016 - which happened to be his best season of triathlon racing at the age of 40! Karel completed 3 Ironmans within 4 months and ran all three marathons off the bike under 3:10! 

As we gear up for our 3rd trip up to Lake Placid today, it was important to reflect on all of the lessons that we have learned since our first IM in Lake Placid. Through the highs and lows of training and racing, we have learned a lot. 

-You can never predict the future. No matter how good or bad your training goes before a race, you never know what race day will bring you. Don't waste your energy trying to make assumptions or plan for what is out of your control. Be in the now. 

-Never wait for the right time to start or do something with your body. Life is too short to wait for the perfect moment. If you wait too long, your moment may never come.

-Make time out of your busy life to slow down and make memories.

-You deserve to be happy - in life, with your career and in your relationships. Don't let people steal your energy or make you feel less of yourself. 

-Work to live, don't live to work.

-When you think that things can't be any worse, there's something better coming your way.

-Slow down. Life rushes by fast. Always take note of the special/happy moments in your life.

-Tell the people in your life that you care about, that you love them.

-Some things in life will just not make sense. Accept that there is not always a reason for everything that happens to you in life.

-Money doesn't buy happiness. Use your money to provide you with life changing experiences.

-There's something special about being in nature. It just feels right.