Happy Ironmanniversary! One Month! Thank you and goodnight.

That's right!  It's August 27.  And if you are reading this anytime between 6:30 am and 8:45 pm (eastern) today, exactly at this moment just one month ago today, I was racing Ironman Lake Placid.  It's my Ironmanniversary!  I promise you that I will not post monthly Ironmanniversary posts going forward.  In fact, I promise this will be the last Ironman post for a little while (brace yourself friends: I'm marathon training!). I also promise to stop saying Ironmanniversary.  Even though it is a really great word.  

But back to Ironman, because all things come back to Ironman.  It's taken me this long to really process the day, and I think I am still processing it.  I'm still riding the high from the finish and the whole experience.  I recapped the race, and I recapped my advice and tips.  Now for a round up of training and a big ol' thank you.  A "thank you and goodnight" farewell to my first (but certainly not last!) Ironman. (ironmanniversary sorry)

Training Round-Up by the Numbers

I hate numbers.  I hate math.  I hate addition, subtraction, multiplication, division.  I hate fractions. I hate numbers.  I hope my math teachers are not reading this blog.  But hey, I'm doing a little round up of Ironman training by the numbers and what went down in that long stretch of training.

* 252 -- days of training [November 18 2013 - July 27, 2014)
* 6 -- number of lakes I swam in (Mirror Lake, Lake Wallenpaupack, Black Bear Tri lake, Devilman lake, Laurel Lake (NJ), Camp Ockanixon (NJ))
* 67.4 -- inches of snow that fell last Winter (second snowiest Winter in history in Philadelphia. awesome)
* 160 -- number of egg wraps, egg bagels and/or egg sandwiches I ate for second breakfast in 252 days (approximate)
* 9 -- number of ABBA songs on my playlist
* 5 -- number of SOAS tri kits I bought in the year of training
* 4,390 -- number of calories I burned at Ironman Lake Placid on race day (that's 20.4 Hop Devils)
* 154,277 -- number of yards I swam (that's 87.66 miles)
* 56:18:46 -- number of hours I swam
1,809.77 -- number of miles I biked (outside)
* 172:37:48 -- number of hours I biked
* 657.79 -- number of miles I ran
* 128:46:21 -- number of hours I ran
* 4 -- approximate number of times I cursed out a dog on a bike ride (they deserved it)
* 1 -- number of times I thought I might not be able to race [when my PT told me it wasn't happening]
* 0 -- number of times I thought I couldn't do it.  

Training Round-Up by the Photos

Numbers are fine, but pictures are more my speed.  And with over 8 months of training, which included all 4 seasons, these pictures are worth a thousand words.  And like the Chinese proverb, but obviously adapted to Ironman, the journey of 140.6 miles begins with a single step.  My first official training workout, and my first official step toward Ironman, was a 20 minute walk the day after the Philadelphia Marathon.

We slogged through the cold

and the snow

and the ice

and the effing Polar Vortex

and the snow again in April in Lake Placid

We got mad about the snow.  Even in a Wonder Woman headband.  #wheresmyinvisiblejet

We were twinsies!

More than once!

We swam a lot.  We looked fantastic in wetsuits.

Some One of us aqua jogged

We biked a lot.  We biked in the heat.

We biked in the cold.

We biked in the rain on race day

We biked in beautiful places

We changed our tires

We got shiny age group medals at races!

We ran a lot

We ran in the rain

We ran in the sunshine

We ran in the dark

We rain in the Fall

in the Winter

in the Spring

and the Summer

Sometimes we ran like gazelles who had wings!

And sometimes our runs were a struggle

We did bricks.  A lot of bricks.  Some were great! Even if they don't look like they were great!

Some ... were hard and hot and miserable.

We were cheered on by our friends and family

We met Mike Reilly - the voice of Ironman!

We got hurt :(

We threw our hands up in the air sometimes ... saying AYO gotta let go

We ate a lot. We ate a whole lot.  We miss eating an Ironman-whole lot.

We drank beer.  We drank a whole lot of beer.  That's still happening, actually.

And we had the time of our lives.

In one year, we went from Ironman hopefuls (July 2013)

to Ironmen (July 27, 2014)!

A Round Up of Thank Yous

I would be remiss if I didn't do a very public shout-out to a bunch of people who made the last year, and ultimately race day, possible.

My Mom and Dad -- I think they thought I was crazy when I told them what I was doing.  But anytime I asked for help with the kids or said what I was doing or how I was training, they were quick to offer encouragement and love and support.  They came up to Lake Placid because I invited them, and I know they were excited, but they are full on Ironman junkies after the race!  They have been effusive with how proud they are and how amazing the experience of race day was.  I will never, ever, EVER, forget seeing their faces on the course and at the finish.  It is one thing for your parents to tell you that they are proud (and they have).  It is quite another to see that pride all over their faces.

My sister -- she, too, came up to Lake Placid and was there every step of the way.  Add to that, she gave massages to Amy, Bill and me [she is a massage therapist] pre and post race.  She gave me lots of advice on how to care for my muscles through training and especially when I hurt my foot.  I swear her castor oil wrap was a miracle worker.  She supported me in a very public way on Facebook, which made my heart sing.  She is one cool chick, and I'm lucky that she's my sister.

Jane and Doug (Bill's parents) -- I worried that I might have come on a tad bit strong when I first met them a few months ago ... but thankfully they seem OK with crazy (and my somewhat drunken sailor mouth), so it was a non-issue.  They watched my kids during the many, many long bike rides and swims up at Lake Wallenpaupack and they fed me pre and post-workout.  I know Bill and Amy warned them about my appetite, but I don't think they appreciated it until they saw me actually take food off of Bill's plate and finish it off.  They are kind, caring, wonderful people who made it clear that my kids and I were welcome and that we should feel free to make ourselves at home and be ourselves.  I've made two new friends and I count myself lucky.

My friends (high school, college, wedding friends, law school friends, work friends) -- I am pretty sure that my friends heard it all and might explode if they hear the word "Ironman" one more time.  I am so fortunate to have really, truly amazing friends.  They'd ask about workouts, they'd build me up when I was down, they'd cheer me when I felt good.  They blew up my phone - almost literally (I still have an iPhone 4) - with texts and emails and calls before, after and during the race.  My college friends  Julia, Missy and Melissa sent a bottle of champagne to the house in Lake Placid.  My wedding friend Rachel sent flowers after the race.  My high school friend Angie sent a personalized glass dish that says swim-bike-run-EAT and has the m-dot symbol and my name.  I have an absolute army of kickass, amazing women in my corner.

Patti, Ava, and Heather -- they're a subset of the friends above, but I need to do a special shout out to these three incredible women and athletes who took time from their own busy lives to come up to Lake Placid and cheer me on.  They rallied our families and kept them updated on what to do on race day and were exuberant cheerleaders the entire day (yes, Patti, yes you were exuberant).  I cannot wait to cheer on these women as they each follow their dreams by running marathons and breaking into triathlon.   

Sandy  -- my boss not only funded my "second breakfast" habit for 8 months (he is responsible for the many egg-related products above), but he showed up on race day to cheer us on.  And ... because I am horrible at math and with numbers (see above), I miscalculated and he didn't have a bed and he had to sleep on the floor of the house in Placid.  Big warned that that might not be a good outcome for me, but Sandy seemed to take it in stride.  I'm sure I will hear about it forever, but his presence on race day was incredibly touching.  I think he also bought my friends beer.  I know they were touched by that.  

My bloggie friends:  Brian ("Bri Tri") Schwind, Jillian O'Malley, and Maria Simone -- Brian and Maria are fellow bloggers (and Maria is a fellow Jersey girl) who I met a couple years ago by searching for blogs about races I was doing, while Jillian is a mutual friend of a high school friend of mine who hooked us up on Facebook.  They are all Ironman veterans and they were supportive, effusive, encouraging and very kind through this whole process.  Being able to chat with a "been there done that" person is immensely valuable when training for an Ironman.  But more than that, they are just good people with great senses of humor.  I'm thrilled to have met such cool, inspiring people.  

My coach, Jason Kilderry -- don't underestimate Jason, even if he looks younger than I do.  My biggest concern with taking on an Ironman was getting myself to the start in good physical shape and emotional shape.  Jason took care of both.  I don't know what he did or how he did it, but his workout plan worked.  Yes, I did the hard work. But he put together the plan and listened to me and somehow made those 140.6 miles not only doable but absolutely incredible.  I felt great after the race.  And within a week, I was running again.  He claims he is a legit beer drinker, but I've not yet seen that ...

Amy and Bill -- I'm not sure where to start.  I wish I could remember when we moved from joking about doing an Ironman to seriously discussing doing an Ironman.  In the Fall and Winter, we were largely on our own for workouts and were all doing similar things but at totally different times.  Once the Spring rolled around, we were able to run and ride together, which was great.  We made it through the highs and lows of training together.  We laughed at the absurdity of what we were doing.  We built each other up when things went wrong or when we weren't feeling the workouts.  When I hurt my foot and was in that 24 hour period when the race wasn't looking possible, Amy said that while they weren't giving up yet, if it came down to it, one of them would register for and do Ironman Cambridge with me; Bill offered to tow and push me around IMLP like Team Hoyt.  We had a lot of laughs and a lot of fun and I can't imagine having done this crazy journey with anyone else but them.  

My kids -- My kids are my biggest, and yet littlest, supporters.  They would ask everyday, "what's the Ironman workout today, Mommy?" and when the answer was something nuts like "Oh, an 85 mile bike ride" they'd say "OK!".  Quitting or giving up was not an option.  At one point in the Winter when snow was on the ground, I remember complaining that I didn't feel like going to the YMCA to swim.  Little gave me a sympathetic look and simply said, "too bad."  Ha!  That became the mantra any time I complained or balked about doing a workout.  As the race got closer, they had more and more questions about it and how I felt and how it was going to be.  They told everyone they knew that Mommy was doing an Ironman.   They know all the triathlon lingo: brick, power, time trial, T1, T2, aero.  As the race got closer, Little busied herself making posters for race day, while Big would watch the 2013 Ironman World Championship at Kona in the morning when he woke up ("Mommy, did you know that Sebastian Kienle is a very feared cyclist?" "Mom, do you think Caroline Steffen will ever win at Kona?").  They never once complained about the experience or made me feel guilty or bad about all of the time that it took away from them.  Instead, they excitedly and joyously supported me and grounded me.  Knowing that they were waiting for me at the finish line inspired me to keep going.  As much as I didn't want that moment in the Oval to end, as soon as it did, I couldn't wait to find my little minions and give them a tearful hug and kiss.

So there it is!  The end of the road - the goodnight and farewell to my 2014 Ironman experience.  I'll be ready for another one in a few years, but I know that nothing can, or ever will, compare to this one.  The question I often get after people ask about this race is "so, what's next? how do you possibly follow and Ironman?" Ha. I'm done with triathlons for 2014 (I couldn't imagine going out on a higher note than IMLP so I don't want to try) and am training for the Steamtown marathon in mid-October where I am hoping to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  That means I have to run a 3:45 marathon, which is an aggressive goal.  I'm up for the challenge!  

See you swoon,

What I Wore {post 48}

It's been awhile since I did one of these suckers!  Mostly because I've been wearing sneakers to work and tri kits.  Here are a few [somewhat] recent Summer looks - on a Tuesday, no less!

* Colorblock tank & Pencil Skirt *

You know this is an older pic - I'm thinking June (?) - because I am still wearing heels in it.  I bought this shirt at Banana Republic awhile back on clearance. I liked the coral a lot.  And the cut at the shoulder.  Pencil skirt, taupe heels with bow on the toe ... done!

* Turquoise Top & Bootcut Jeans *

I'm pretty sure this was a casual Friday outfit - I'm not sure it even counts as stylish since it's just a top and jeans.  Oh and flats.  Please ignore the stuffed animal menagerie at my feet in the photo. 

* Navy & White Striped Dress and Yellow Flats *

I officially love this dress. I bought it last year (or maybe the year before) at Anthropologie and I wear it a bunch each Summer.  I wore my yellow flats with it because I am still off heels.  But this is an easy, sweet Summer look.

I'll be better about taking these pictures going forward.  Fall is in the air ... I can hear it, I can see it, I can feel it. I am so not ready for it! 

See you swoon,