Category: Team Challenge

Why did I sign up for another half marathon?


What one word would I use to describe myself? These days, it’s definitely lazy. All my motivation has flown the coup – found a better, more productive home.

So why on earth did I sign up to run my 9th half marathon?

Team Challenge Denver group runMostly because it’s through Team Challenge and it’s a new and exciting location. My desire to travel usually wins out. But more importantly, I need a lot of extra motivation and Team Challenge usually delivers in spades.

This season is no exception, so far. At the end of this week I will have 14 days of not being lazy under my belt. It’s been humbling to start running again. The pain. The extra fatigue. Knowing that you’ve ran 13.1 miles in the past and now you can barely run one. Yep, humbling is the right word.

Yet, I’m lacing up the sneakers to my shiny new kicks and I’m getting it done. Despite the pain. Despite being SO TIRED. Despite the Crohn’s.

Maybe at the end of all of this, I’ll be a runner again. And maybe, just maybe, I won’t die before I cross the finish line in Saratoga.

Las Vegas Half Marathon Race Recap

Last weekend I completed my sixth half marathon. It was brutal. There were some accomplishments but it took me a while to see the positive through all the pain. But, let me start at the beginning of the weekend.

Las Vegas Pasta PartyThis was my 6th half with Team Challenge and even though I’ve been to event weekend with this Denver chapter six times before, I still had that exciting butterfly feeling. It doesn’t matter how many pasta parties you sit through, the weekend still generates electricity. It’s not just a time to reflect on my own accomplishments as a Crohn’s patient, but I get to reflect on all the new people I’ve met on their journey.

Some of them are patients. Some are caregivers. Some have no connection to the disease, at first. Those that join the team without a connection find they have at least twenty connections to friends with the disease once the season is finished.

Some are experienced half marathoners. Some have even ran a full! Some have never walked more than a mile. Most don’t think they can accomplish such feats.

All are champions and athletes. Everyone ran the same 13.1 miles. Everyone crossed the same finish line. That’s what Team Challenge is all about. 

We had our traditional pasta party the night before the race. This was probably one of my favorite pasta parties so far! Holly and her daughter were our honored speakers. It was so amazing to hear about IBD from both perspectives – as a young child with IBD and as a mother of an IBD patient. Her daughter was brilliant, but Holly stole the show. She was an amazing speaker and told a beautiful story. Her family is such an inspiration and I loved their moto – the power of one. It’s something that I’ve used in the past and I couldn’t agree more!

Meeting Meb in Las VegasOur guest speaker blew my mind! None other than Meb Keflexighi told us his inspiring story, starting from his early days as a child. He used the term perseverance so many times. I love the power that word exudes. IBD patients are the epitome of perseverance. Many of us have struggled and triumphed through so many hardships, for many years. We are warriors!

The next day turned into a windy, cold Vegas evening for the race. I left Denver when it was 20 degrees so I was really looking forward to some dry Vegas heat! The weather was a let down. At the start we were huddled in small clumps trying to block the wind and use each other for body heat. I think such a cold start drained all of us a little bit.

I hadn’t trained well for this run and knew my chances of a PR were pretty slim so I decided to try for another accomplishment – run the entire distance. I had always used the run/walk method and had never ran through water stations or while eating my snacks. So I started out at a very comfortable pace. I decided to keep it slow through mile 8 or 9, crank it up through mile 12 and then just haul butt to the finish through that last mile. It would also be the first time I had negative splits in a race. If I could accomplish it.

Waiting to start the Las Vegas Half Marathon Everything was going really well through about mile 6. The lights of Vegas were mesmerizing and I was enjoying people watching in the crowds and all the runners. With 42,000 fellow runners, the people watching is nothing short of epic. Around mile 6 I started to feel pain in my right IT band. This had happened on the 9 mile and 11 mile training runs so I knew I wasn’t in for a treat.

At mile 9 I wanted to quit. I really wanted to quit. I had never wanted to give up during a race. Well, not really. I’ve questioned myself A LOT, but never have I wanted to give up. I was in the random neighborhoods in Vegas so I decided that if I quit, there was a good chance something bad would happen back there in the dark so I moved on. At mile 10 I found a Team Challenge coach and asked her to run with me. The chat with her was great and it kept my mind off the pain that was searing through my leg. At this point, I was overcompensating for my right side so my left sciatic nerve was starting to ache.

I was ready to walk. I really, really wanted to walk. But I was so close to the finish and so very close to accomplishing my goal. So I did what I had to do. I started asking random strangers if they would chat with me. It made such a difference when i was able to stop thinking about my legs. At mile 11.5 or so I found another Team Challenge coach and asked if she would just ask me questions. I told her I was hurting so bad so of course her first question was, do you need to walk? AHHHHH! Wrong Question! I was so close and I basically screamed at her that I needed to keep going.

She left me around mile 12 and I turned on the heat. SOOO MUCH PAIN! I was cranking out 10 minute miles because I just wanted to be done. For me, that is lightening fast. At mile 13 I see my coach and needless to say, pleasantries aren’t exchanged. He chats with me for a few seconds, refocuses me on form and tells me to just keep moving but be careful.

The race bling from Las Vegas Half MarathonI crossed the finish line with arms high and the relief! Such wonderful relief! People had to be worried about me because of the way I was gimping along the finish chute. I accepted my medal and that’s when I realized I did it. For the first time ever I ran an entire half marathon. PERSEVERANCE. I did what I needed to do to accomplish my goals. I grabbed a chocolate milk and let it all sink in. I had exceeded my own limits. I now had no excuses for not running entire distances. I had no excuses for giving up.

I didn’t beat my best time. I was 2:03 off my PR set earlier this year in Napa. I consider that amazing. The next day I checked my official time and my splits. I even had negative splits, just as I was hoping. It’s taken me years but I’m finally getting the hang up pacing myself.

Because I was in so much pain after the race, it was really hard to see the sunshine through the clouds. When people asked how my race went, I said okay. It was way better than okay! I’m incredibly proud of myself and I have even more fire to do better on the next one. And who knows, maybe there will be 26.2 miles in my future.

Stay tuned and I’ll share how we spent the rest of our time in Vegas. Hint – it involved a lot of stretching.

Bass Lake Triathlon Race Recap

Bass Lake Triathlon has made it’s way onto my top races list. The course was beautiful but challenging. Everywhere you turned there was an amazing backdrop.

There is a LOT of stuff needed when traveling for a triathlon
There is a LOT of stuff needed when traveling for a triathlon

Transition opened the day before the race so all Team Challenge folks made their way to the little “town” of Bass Lake to set up our bikes and get in a practice swim. I just received my wet suit and my triathlon kit the day before so I was anxious to get in the water and see how they felt. The transition was set up by bib number which I appreciated since I only needed to remember the vicinity of my bike. After getting the bike racked we headed to the lake for a short swim just to test the waters.

The lake was beautiful! The entrance was murky but at 50 yards or so from shore the waters turned clear and calm. It was warm too, which I wasn’t expecting. The wetsuit fit perfectly and felt great during the swim. It wasn’t until I got out that I realized everyone around me was feeling the effects of altitude. Coming from Denver, I had dropped about 3000 feet in elevation which made the swim feel easy for me. Thankfully that feeling would carry over for the race too.

That night was the Team Challenge pasta party. There were only 50 or so participants, mostly from California and the race was very small with only 400 or so participants total. First off, the food was delicious! Probably the best food at any pasta party I’ve been to. The guest speaker was beyond inspirational. Her battle with IBD has left many scars, both physical and emotional, but she is a warrior! A true inspiration to all of us living with one of these diseases. Sometimes it’s really easy to throw your hands up in frustration or pure exhaustion, but my fellow patients are constant reminders of why we need to fight. I also made Top Fundraiser! Pretty excited  that I was able to make such a positive impact on our mission. ONE TEAM. ONE MISSION!

Bass Lake Top Fundraiser

The wake up call came early the next morning and we made our way to the transition. Everything was set up beautifully at my bike and I was lucky that my rack only had 4 bikes so there was plenty of room to make sure everything was where it needed to be. On the beach the buoys were set up but there was some confusion about which buoys we needed to follow for the sprint. I was the third wave so I figured there wouldn’t be an issues with following the pack. At the start of the swim I decided to take it easy and make sure I didn’t get kicked. I managed to find a nice spot with lots of room and maintained that to the first buoy. At the second turn I was still feeing great and passing people, to boot! It wasn’t until I got to the final turn that the men’s olympic competitors had caught up to me. That led to a few kicks and punches for the last 50 meters or so but I left the water feeling pretty good. T1 was all uphill and I took our coaches advice and walked T1 so I would still have legs at the start of the bike.

Having some fun at the end of the bike before entering T2
Having some fun at the end of the bike before entering T2

The bike started with a 15 feet window to make sure you were geared correctly because it was straight up hill out of the transition. People were getting off their bike to walk the hill so I took my time and rode the entire way. It then turned into a long downhill and so began the long rolling hills that would be my entire ride. I loved it! I was feeling great at the turnaround which led to the longest uphill of the course. I managed the ride almost the entire course at the middle or highest gear and got a great second wind when I realized I was passing people on the bike. During my first tri, the bike had been the toughest part for me so clearly all the training with the Team Challenge coaches paid off!

T2 was relatively easy and I was feeling pretty confident with the run. After all, that’s what this half marathoner does well, right? It was going great until I hit the first hill and realized this run was going to be a doozy! The hills, in contrast, were much more steep than the bike and my legs were starting to tire. I decided on a run/walk strategy that would keep me moving through to the finish.

I finished the course in 2:05 which is one minute behind my first triathlon. That folks is a HUGE success. This course was much more challenging that my first so I’m very proud of the progress I made. The coaching plan I had also worked wonders. I can’t wait to do it again!

Bass Lake Triathlon Finisher

Because we didn’t have a triathlon team in Denver, I was part of the national team. It was a different experience than other events I’ve had in the past but still so much fun. I was there with two other amazing ladies from New York and I’m so thrilled that I got to know them. They each have such an amazing story and I hope to see them at future events! I also had a national coach who I couldn’t appreciate more. This man gives his all for a lot of events and I’m incredibly thankful he was dedicated to us as well. I loved seeing his smiling face on the course, along with the rest of the coaches. I’m sure our paths will cross again in the very near future.

Bass Lake National Team

Graffiti Fun Run

This past weekend was beautiful, until Sunday rolled through. I woke up early Saturday morning and headed to practice at the Highline Canal for Team Challenge. It was a five mile run which should have been easy but for some reason, Mr. C (Crohn’s Disease) had other plans. I made it through a mile and a half before having to walk from sheer exhaustion. I made it to the turn around point and I had nothing left to give. At this point I’m tired, my stomach is cramping and the nearest bathroom is over two miles away. You would think this would make me run faster but I just. couldn’t. do. it.

Kona and Napa Team Challenge DenverWe had a potluck breakfast for the team and I did my best to negate everyone’s early morning efforts by bringing donuts. People couldn’t resist. It was “Tyler Day” in recognition of one of our amazing honored heroes who also has Crohn’s Disease. I made a cape and had a T on my shirt and everyone dressed in purple and black, because Tyler is a true super hero (and he loves the Rockies!). It was Kona recommitment to celebrate the team mates that have made half way through the program. That called for a group photo on a very shaky picnic table. I’m so proud of this Denver team!

20140427_100429Sunday I woke up to not sunshine, but cloudy skies and rain. I was very tempted to keep my lazy butt in bed and not head to Sloan’s Lake for the Graffiti Run. The Graffiti Run is one of those fun color runs that are sweeping the country. We grabbed our whitest whites and made out way to the park. Thankfully the rain stopped just in time to start the first wave at 9 am.

Graffiti Run DenverI was amazed at the number of people at this run! Sloan’s Lake was packed and it was so exciting to see so many families. I love to see parent’s teaching their kids that activities like this can be fun, rewarding and very healthy. We started around 9:10 and made our way through the crowds. My husband directed me to the left or right depending on how the wind was blowing to make sure I got the maximum amount of color. He was peppered right in the face with a handful of blue and a guy tried to knock the wind from me by pelting me in the stomach with a fistful of green. There were four color stations around the lake and the total run was about 2.5 miles. We waited at the finish and listened to the DJ which was good…if you like that thing.

We were introduced to this new-fangled dance called the Wobble. Apparently it’s been around for a while according to my hip friends but I have to say that I prefer good ole fashioned country line dancing. The dance wasn’t that bad but I can do without the music. In case you’re like me and have never heard of this, here’s an instruction video. Enjoy…

The rest of the day was cold, windy and rainy so we finished the weekend just hanging out at home. I took a nap. It was fantastic. Then Monday came…and it’s been so cold! I’m ready for spring to make it’s way to Colorado so I can go back to enjoying outdoor activities.

A Beautiful Weekend

Cherry Creek Park Trail Run with Team ChallengeWow, this weekend’s weather was all over the place but it was beautiful for the most part. I joined the Team Challenge Denver crew on Saturday morning for a four mile run at Cherry Creek Reservoir. When we started the run at 8:30 I was comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt. We started the trail at the corner of Parker Rd. and Quebec and followed what I think was the wetlands trail through the wetlands area and then through a forested area. At one point I stopped and just listened. Not a peep, not even a bird in the distance. Such a peaceful and beautiful run. I never think of running that trail because it seems so far from my house but I realized it’s only a 30 minute drive which is definitely doable. I hope to get over there more often.

Cherry Creek Park Trail Run with Team ChallengeAt the end of the run we were hanging out having some breakfast and cashing in our Easter eggs. Yes, we totally had an Easter egg hunt on our run! Each egg had a number that corresponded to a number and I ended up with four eggs in my sports bra before being told I’m only allowed to have one. I got lucky and kept the egg with a $10 donation in it! Another $10 toward my fundraising efforts for Vegas. It was also our coaches birthday so we celebrated with cupcakes and I even enjoyed the gluten-free chocolate ones our manager brought. I’m slowly starting to buy into this gluten-free and paleo thing. I’ll have more of an update on that one later.

Our afternoon was spent at the Rapids game. There was some drizzle but thankfully our seats were pretty well protected from the train. The game ended in a draw which is a huge bummer, especially since the Rapids had won their last two road games. Both teams played terribly so we’ll blame it on the rain. The evening was finished with baking a chocolate cake for Brian’s birthday and watching 12 Years a Slave. I might be in the minority here but I was expecting more from that movie. Of all the best film nominees I’ve watched so far, it was been my least favorite. I definitely put Dallas Buyers Club over it.

Sunday turned into a beautiful day. It was sunny and just over 70 degrees so we accomplished a lot in our yard. We have big plans for the back yard so we spent some time prepping it. We redid all the mulch in our front yard flower bed and down the side. We had these old mulch down the side of the driveway that I hated – it looked like shredded trees which is fine, but not for my front yard – so all of that is updated with new edging.

We also got super handy and figured out how to install an automatic timer to the sprinkler system. We were quoted about $800 to complete this project and we did it in less than a hour and it cost us $50. Holy savings! I’m glad we decided to take a chance and figure it out ourselves. That’s more money we can put into something else for the yard or house.

I’m finishing up tonight working on a presentation for work which would usually suck but I’m working in the sun room listening to the rain. Maybe we’ll get lucky and hear a thunderstorm.