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When I look back at the past week, I feel as though I need to sit down and hang on to something sturdy. One week ago today, my parents and I flew down to Colorado Springs to watch my brother, Ian, graduate from the Air Force Academy. To say we felt “proud” is an incredible understatement, especially when we thought of all the times we prayed for his success in the face of difficult tests and physical measures. Heck, if he wasn't flying them, he was jumping out of airplanes!

Over 1,000 graduates in this year's class. It was pretty
overwhelming to watch them all march out onto the
In the midst of all the pomp and circumstance that surrounded Ian’s graduation, I couldn’t help but feel slightly uncomfortable with leaving the predictable and structured life of Spokane I’ve come to adopt in the face of an impending Ironman that now stands less than 20 days away. Leaving for Colorado during the biggest weak of my training—my peak week—made me wonder if the “balance” people have encouraged me to incorporate in my life was really the best idea at this time. Yet being the pre-planner than I am, I managed to lie out a 20-hour training week that included daily runs with my dad and multiple trips to a nearby YMCA to use their pool and spin bikes.

A sampling of my mom's planning. Ever seen a
training plan like this?
Mom helped me by writing out an itinerary of the trip. She broke up each day into 1-hour increments, filling in the details with regard to when we needed to leave the hotel for certain activities on the base, when we’d likely be back, when we needed to meet family and friends for dinner, and (bless her) when holes in our schedule would allow for a quick hour of training.

Dad and I ran early in the mornings before most of the crew had even woken up; he drove me to the YMCA so I could fit in swims and time on the spin bike later in the afternoons. If trying to juggle family time with training wasn’t fatiguing enough, then training at 7400 feet of elevation certainly left me gasping for air! I didn’t notice it as much during our runs, but I soon realized more frequent breaks after shorter meter intervals in the pool would be necessary.

Least to say, finishing what I set out to accomplish down in Colorado felt incredibly rewarding. I did well balancing time with family and friends, celebrating Ian’s graduation, and maintaining a consistent training schedule with the help of my mom and dad. I may not have had enough time to reap the benefits of training at altitude, but judging by the way my long training days this past weekend went, I think mentally—if not physically—those four training days made me stronger.

I arrived home Thursday afternoon and, upon returning home, took my overly excited pup, Maci, for a much-appreciated run. We both enjoyed the cool, crisp evening air and warm sunshine as we ran through the woods of Riverside State Park. Friday morning, Bryan joined us for another run that instead, was laced with early morning bird chatter and the fresh smells of morning that only trees, flowering shrubs, and grass could create.

My greatest companion. She will go anywhere and do
anything with me. She may run 18 miles through the rain,
but she would much prefer to soak in the sunshine while
laying on my lap. 
To round out my longest training week to date, Bryan and me rode the Ironman CDA course on a mild, slightly overcast Saturday that left me incredibly happy with the way my body performed and responded to the nutrition plan I have come to adopt. Let’s just say I would be incredibly happy if race day could feel as good as Saturday felt. I rode my new Quintana Roo Cdo.1 Race bike; a fast, slick race horse that I’ve been getting to know for the past three weeks. Thanks to Bryan’s help adjusting the rear derailleur, it shifted and performed without a single hitch (as did I).

Finally, yesterday we drove out to run three loops of part of the 24-hour mountain bike course. I still tell Bryan: if we’d only started an hour earlier, we likely would have missed the extraordinary deluge that left all three of us—Bryan, Maci, and me—completely soaked to the skin. Out of the three of us, Maci looked the least bit happy. She couldn’t figure out why us idiots would go out for another loop when the car sat in the parking lot, offering refuge from the rain. Being the loyal pup that she is, though, she trailed behind and worked hard to “enjoy” yet another romp through the woods.

Eighteen miles, a load of soaking, dirty, smelly, running clothes later, we headed home to take warm showers (Maci included), eat a filling meal of steak and eggs, peppers and onions, and potatoes before heading out for one last training bout: four loops around Bear Lake.

We cajoled a fisherman to let us by his lines when he told us swimming wasn’t allowed on his side of the lake. We slipped into water that felt colder than last time. We busted out four loops around the lake even as dark clouds threatened us from the north. After just over an hour, my 20-hour week was finished.

When all is said and done, the “hay is in the barn.” I have nothing left to give. What is shall be. Now, to finish my internship this week, to graduate with my Doctorate degree the following week, and to feel fully recovered the week after that. So THIS is the life of an Ironman. Just give me a second...

…I need to catch my breath.

More pictures from an eventful time down in Colorado. Again, I couldn't be more proud of everything Ian has accomplished.
Ian is left-most in the front row.
Graduation day, marching out onto the field.
Ian and Jessica Bower, his beautiful girlfriend.

With Aunt Tamara and Uncle Bill.


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