Ewoks & a Manger: Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! from IronMakeover & family

L- Our son plays a wise man in our at-home Nativity Play.

center - My cabbage patch show pony acts as a horse in the stable. And our one baby doll plays Jesus.

R- Our son's craft ornament - the manger. Great craft idea!

L - Our toddler runs the circle that completes our family room, kitchen and hallway.

R- Our oldest helped set up some of the Christmas decorations this year. He took my (Sara) Ewoks & had them corner the reindeer. :-)

Merry Christmas!

Questions for You:
- Did your house have a "circle" for you to run laps as a child?
- Do you love Ewoks? Did you see the Ewok clip on Halloween? Total scene stealers!!

photos by me

Meet an Athlete Escort & √ Out the Bike Count @ Ford Ironman World Championships

Thanks Jessi Stensland for your updates from the Ford Ironman World Championships! Stensland is a professional endurance athlete, movement specialist and active.com expert. Tune in this Saturday for NBC's broadcast of the 2009 Ford Ironman World Championships 4:30-6 EST. 96-second teaser preview here.

As triathletes we LOVE numbers! So of course it makes perfect sense to find The Bike Count at the Ford Ironman World Championships! Triathlete Magazine sponsors the count and many industry volunteers make the annual event possible.

#1 - Cervelo crushed the count again (462 up from 415 in 2008). My hubby's bike made top 4, mine top 12. In the Kona Count you'll also find tallies on wheels, helmets, saddles, aerobars, components, power meters, compression socks, footwear, speedsuits, apparel shorts, apparel tops and apparel suits. Find the list of top bike brands here.

The Bike Count takes place at bike check-in the day before raceday. I'd love to be a counter! And my hubby's CPA skills are top-notch! But until we land on the Big Island I'll follow active.com reporter Jessi Stensland and Alice, an athlete escort, as they take us through the check-in process here in this short video.

link here

On Topic:
Turn to p.146 of the Jan 2010 issue of Triathlete Magazine for the Kona Count.

In this series:
Getting the Story @ Ford Ironman World Championships
On Site @ Ford Ironman World Championships with Jessi Stensland
Rudy! @ Ford Ironman World Championships with Jessi Stensland

Learn more about Stensland's day-long MovementU workshops here. Read @TriBoomer's MovementU report! He calls MovementU the "best day-long triathlon training clinic evah!" My hubby Ken and I are super excited for MovementU's Madison area class in 2010, dates to be announced soon!

Questions for You:
- How do you feel about numbers?
- Where does your bike brand fall in the count?

photo credit by me: I saw many sea turtles when I was on the Big Island. But I met this turtle in the Grand Cayman Islands.

Say My Name! @ Ford Ironman World Championships with Jessi Stensland (#3 in Series)

Thanks Jessi Stensland for your updates from the Ford Ironman World Championships! Stensland is a professional endurance athlete, movement specialist and active.com expert. In anticipation of the Dec. 19th airing of the NBC Ford Ironman World Championships broadcast, I'll feature several of Stensland's active.com features with bonus info from Stensland. This is #3 in a series.

The Voice of Ironman Mike Reilly

As a Cinderella Ironman Finisher I (Sara) heard The Voice of Ironman Mike Reilly call out my name welcoming me to "the club." Two years earlier my hubby Ken didn't hear The Voice when Ken crossed at Ironman Wisconsin. Reilly was there, and speaking, but my husband Ken was so focused that he tuned out his surroundings.

Ken's not alone. For many Ironman triathletes Reilly's famous words "YOU are an Ironman," obsessively call out to them during their long months of training. The words echo in and out during race day, waiting. So what happens when Reilly doesn't say "it"?

Find out by watching Active.com reporter Jessi Stensland's detailed interview with Mike Reilly from this year's Ford Ironman World Championships. You'll also learn:

- Something about race day Reilly will never grow tired of.

- Where's the hot corner for Ironspectators?

- What it's like up in the tower in Race Central.

- What's Reilly's biggest fear?

Stensland says Reilly's never called her name and she doesn't hear that happening in the future. "I've never had the desire to do an Ironman," says Stensland. "I like to train and race short, hard, often and now ... off-road."

I admire Stensland's confidence. She knows as an athlete what she's passionate about. Without passion, training and racing at any distance comes up empty. For me the most-moving post-finishline moments have more to do with what I gave to get there than simply the distance covered.
Link here

On Topic:

Find out how Reilly coined his famous phrase in this excellent profile of Reilly from ironman.com.

In this series:
Getting the Story @ Ford Ironman World Championships
On Site @ Ford Ironman World Championships with Jessi Stensland
Rudy! @ Ford Ironman World Championships with Jessi Stensland

Questions for You:
- What distance/sport are you passionate about?
- What makes the finish line magic?

photo credit by me: I saw many sea turtles when I was on the Big Island. But I met this turtle in the Grand Cayman Islands.

♥ Rudy! @ Ford Ironman World Championships with Jessi Stensland

Thanks Jessi Stensland for your updates from the Ford Ironman World Championships! Stensland is a professional endurance athlete, movement specialist and active.com expert.

In anticipation of the Dec. 19th airing of the NBC Ford Ironman World Championships broadcast, I'll feature several of Stensland's active.com video features from Kona with bonus info from Stensland.
She'll answer what it's like to be on site covering THE IRONMAN, what stories touched her most, what race day is like and more!

Rudy Garcia-Tolson
Two weeks before competing in the 2009 Ford Ironman World Championships double-above-the-knee amputee Rudy Garcia-Tolson got an infection in one of his stumps. He took the prescribed antibiotics and stayed off his feet--no running until race day for this 21-year-old triathlete. So Garcia-Tolson absorbed his latest challenge and continued prepping for 140.6 miles of Big Island decisions.

On the Thursday before race day Active.com reporter Jessi Stensland caught up with Garcia-Tolson to chat about his Kona experience and the BIG race! "I've always been a Rudy fan," says Stensland.

Click on Jessi's active.com Ironblog interview with Garcia-Tolson below:

video link

And watch NBC's Ford Ironman World Championships feature Dec. 19th from 4:30-6 EST. Preview here!

Questions for You:
- What's your top logistical challenge as a triathlete?
- Rudy calls swimming his passion, what is your favorite tri discipline?

On Topic:
Challenged Athletes Foundation: Rudy's story
Athlete: Lee Gruenfeld profiles the amazing Rudy Garcia-Tolson "the Torpedo."
Ossur: make Rudy's prosthetics
Scott Rigsby: first double below-the-knee amputee to finish the Ironman on prosthetic legs. Read more about Rigsby here.
Sarah Reinertsen: first single above-the-knee amputee to finish the Ironman (DNF in 2004, came back to finish strong and to win hearts in 2005).
Cheers also go to: Bob Babbit, Cherie Gruenfeld, Paul Huddle, PowerBar, David Bailey and Terry Martin for supporting Garcia-Tolson!

In this series:

Getting the Story @ Ford Ironman World Championships
On Site @ Ford Ironman World Championships with Jessi Stensland

Learn more about Stensland's day-long MovementU workshops here. Read @TriBoomer 's report from MovementU! He calls MovementU the "best day-long triathlon training clinic, evah!" My hubby & I are super excited for MovementU's Madison-area class in 2010! Details to come!

photo credit by me: I saw many sea turtles when I was on the Big Island. But I met this turtle in the Grand Cayman islands.

Getting the Story @ Ford Ironman World Championships with Jessi Stensland

Thanks Jessi Stensland, for your updates from the Ford Ironman World Championships! Stensland is a professional endurance athlete, movement specialist and active.com expert.
In anticipation of the Dec. 19th airing of the NBC Ford Ironman World Championships broadcast, I'll feature several of Stenland's video features from Kona with bonus info from Stensland. She'll answer what it's like to be on site covering THE IRONMAN, what stories touched her most, what race day is like and more!

Jessi Stensland is a storyteller.
"I like to capture life and stories," she says. "Those that are simply fun, that spread joy to the world and/or are inspirational and/or educational."

As part of her role at active.com Stensland has the pleasure of reporting from the Ford Ironman World Championships. "This year Kona was a lot of work but also a blast," she says. "Over the years I've realized how much more intricate of a process it is to really do it well, more efficiently and easily."

To produce each video feature Stensland needs: a vision for her topic, excellent supporting footage and the ability to engage her subject and to put him or her at ease. Stensland loves bringing out her subject's natural self while getting the story. She stays flexible too, giving the interviewee freedom to tell his or her story and letting the interview go where it needs to.

"I enjoy having a hand in all aspects of production: being on-camera, filming and editing," she says. "It's very helpful to know all three. While I'm on camera I'm also thinking ahead as to how useful the time I'm spending is, in relation to how I'll have to edit it later."

Creating a simple two-minute video from start to finish can take 90 minutes to produce. In addition to the actual interview time, Stensland must digitalize the video from tape to computer, make cuts and adjustments to the footage and audio, and insert pre-roll and title screens. Then the final piece is compressed, outputted and uploaded to the web site. More integrated features combining interviews, quotes, footage and music, can take 3-4 hours start to finish.

It's all a perfect fit for Stensland who loves sharing stories with the world. Video production takes her to new places where new faces wait to share their adventures with her. Keep up the good work Jessi!

Stay tuned for Stensland's features on: bike check-in, the Voice of Ironman Mike Reilly, Dig Me beach, Rudy Garcia-Tolson and race day!

Learn more about Stensland's day-long MovementU workshops here. Read @TriBoomer 's report from MovementU! He calls MovementU the "best day-long triathlon training clinic, evah!" My hubby & I are super excited for MovementU's Madison-area class in 2010!

Question for You:
- What's your dream job?

Also Read:
On Site @ Ford Ironman World Championships with Jessi Stensland

photo credit by me: I saw many sea turtles when I was on the Big Island. But I met this turtle in the Grand Cayman Islands.

Vote for Chrissie & Craig! USSA Athletes of the Year!

Evidence that triathlon's no longer a niche sport - two triathletes (Chrissie Wellington & Craig Alexander) have been nominated for the U.S. Sports Academy Athlete of the Year!

Fill out your ballot and vote here. Votes will be taken until Dec. 24th.
Other athletes nominated include:
- Usain Bolt, Drew Brees, Kobe Bryant, Angel Cabrera, Roger Federer, Santonio Holmes, LeBron James, Jimmie Johnson, Manny Pacquiao, Albert Pujols and Tiger Woods.
- Yelena Isinbaeva, Carmelita Jeter, Courtney Kupets, Linet Masai, Lorena Ochoa, Courtney Paris, Sanya Richarts, Jiyai Shin, Diana Taurasi, Lindsey Vonn and Serena Williams.

Learn all about 3x Ford Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington here . Also check out GOTRIbal, an organization Wellington supports, that's aimed at empowering women and promoting triathlon around the world.

Meet Craig Alexander 2x Ford Ironman World Champion and married father of two.

Watch NBC's coverage of the 2009 Ford Ironman World Championships Dec. 19th at 4:30 EST and follow bonus coverage here with active.com expert and movement specialist Jessi Stensland's video features.

Follow USSportsAcademy on twitter. Follow IronMakeover (me!) on twitter.

Question for You:
- Who's your top vote?

On Site @ Ford Ironman World Championships with Jessi Stensland

Ten years ago I flew to the Big Island to report on the conference my employer was holding. I stayed at The Hilton Waikola Village. My favorite part was snorkeling daily in the 4-acre ocean fed lagoon - sea turtles!

Of course as a triathlete Kona means something more than an incredible vacation. My husband wants to enter the Ford Ironman World Championships lottery--I'd like to report from it! Until then, I'm happy to soak up Kona's splendid warmth via active.com's on site updates.

Thanks to Jessi Stensland, professional endurance athlete, movement specialist and active.com expert, we can get a taste of the fascinating lives, traditions and radiant energy abundant at the Ford Ironman World Championships.

In anticipation of NBC's coverage of the 2009 Ford Ironman World Championships, I'll feature several of Jessi's Kona video features with bonus material Jessi has graciously added in response to my questions! Thanks Jessi! First topic coming soon!
For now catch the 96-second video preview here and tune in Dec. 19th at 4:30-6 EST for NBC's feature!

Questions for you:
- Have you been to Kona as an athlete, spectator or lucky person on vacation?
- Have you or would you apply for a lottery spot?
- Does the TV coverage make you tear up?
- Aren't turtles the cutest?
photo credit: picture by me, but of a turtle in the Grand Cayman islands, not the Big Island!

My Incredible Tri Shorts: SUGOI

This summer I received an amazing pair of SUGOI Velocity tri shorts. It was my first piece of SUGOI clothing and my first official tri shorts, even though I've been a triathlete for 14 years! Over the years I've worn a swimsuit, bike shorts or plain spandex for triathlons of all distances. Not any more!

WOW - tri shorts are incredible!
And these slinky shorts soon became my "Mrs. Incredible shorts" AKA Elastigirl from The Incredibles. The Hydro-Shifter fabric is amazing -- it's made to cut through water and air and it feels awesome against my skin. (Picture: right, me goofing around in May with my new shorts. Left, below, free download from The Incredibles site.)

Recently I applied to become a SUGOI Brand Champion. It made sense. I loved my shorts and Brand Champion athletes receive discounts on special training and racing gear. Hmmm... More tri shorts!! Brand Champions also receive support at major running and triathlon events in North America. I was happy to find out this week that I'm on board with SUGOI Brand Champions -- thanks SUGOI!

SUGOI's roots: SUGOI is a Japanese word that means incredible. !!!
SUGOI's mission: to Fuel Personal Bests
SUGOI Brand Champions program: "is geared toward supporting athletes who choose to wear SUGOI and inspire others on a daily basis."

Other SUGOI Brand Champion Athletes:
This Runner's World
Checkout the complete blogroll for SUGOI Brand Champion runners and triathletes @ the SUGOI Brand Champion site. Or add your link below in the comments! Meet SUGOI's own Incredible Jane and apply to be a SUGOI Brand Champion here.

Questions for You:
- Did it take you 14 years to discover tri shorts? :-)
- What is your favorite piece of tri gear?

Photo credits: Free download from The Incredibles official site.

The Pomegranate Experiment!

Cut, scoop, soak & strain! Cutting a pomegranate is easy when you know how to do it!

I should have done my research first--this morning I guessed wrong. I sliced my pomegranate in half and then bit into the membrane - YUCK!

Since that bitter mistake, I've learned a bit about pomegranates including:

- How to correctly open one. A chef demonstrates here.
- You eat the little seed-type things inside (arils.) You don't eat the white stuff around the arils...
- At the store, choose a pomegranate by weighing it, not by its color. Pick the heaviest one, it has more juice inside.
- Whole pomegranates can last "up to month on the counter or two months in the fridge." And frozen arils can last for months. I'd been worried that my pomegranate was going to rot. I'd only had it a week!

Recipes from the POM Wonderful web site:
On my list to try:
Grilled Portobello with POM Mustard Vinaigrette & Garden Greens
Crimson POM Jelly & Cream Cheese Sandwiches
POM Banana Freeze
Pan Toasted Brie with a POM Reduction Sauce

I should note, I was motivated to try an actual pomegranate after tasting juice samples from POM Wonderful this fall. They sent me a case of 100% Pomegranate Juice (Thanks!). The bottles are adorable! I tried my first taste after finishing a local tri.

Questions for You:
-What's something new you've recently tried?
- Do you like pomegranates?
- Have you tasted a sample from POM Wonderful? If so, give me the link to your review.

Other POM Reviews:

40,000 lbs of Snow & Ice Cream Cones

Tonight the boys & I headed down to the Memorial Union Terrace for Hoofer's 1st Terrace Rail Jam. Fun!!

The club brought in a bunch of snow, setup a steep scaffolding stage & let things get a little crazy. The UW men's crew team parked alongside the Memorial Union Terrace waiting for the first run. I rowed for UW-Madison in college, so it was fun seeing some eights out on Lake Mendota.

We stopped inside for ice cream cones & settled into a cozy spot within the Rathskeller where I'd made sandwiches & served beer as a working college kid.
Questions for You:
-What winter sports do you love?
- Did you work during college?
- What flavor ice cream cone?
photos by me: the Memorial Union is gorgeous! What a great night with my boys!

GRATEFUL: Gastric Bypass, 5Ks & A Dash of Magic

Triathlete Patricia Miller lost 230 pounds before training for her first triathlon. She had Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass--Roux-en-Y (RGB) surgery May 21, 2007 and reached her goal weight in March 2009. Learn more about Patricia in the first post "From 405 to Finish Line." I met Patricia in active.com's triathlon community where I volunteer as a moderator.

It's easy to describe triathlete Patricia Miller as highly motivated. On the evening of her gastric bypass surgery, this determined school superintendent was up and doing laps around the surgical floor.

"I knew the sooner I got up and about, the better I would feel," she says. She had surgery on a Monday afternoon after a busy high school graduation weekend. She was back from recovery and in her room about 5:30 p.m.

"It was pretty funny when I went to see the surgeon," says Miller. "I asked how long the recovery would be following the surgery. He said I would probably be in the hospital for a day and that I would be out of work for three weeks. I pressed on and said, 'What about highly motivated patients, how long are they out of work?' He responded, 'Three weeks.' I said, 'No, how about those who are REALLY motivated?' The surgeon responded, 'College students are usually back to classes in a week, and you are not a college student.'"

Miller stayed the course. Each time she woke up for pain meds Miller got up and did one or more laps around the surgical floor. She was out of the hospital and on her way home before lunch on Tuesday and went back to work a week later. She lost over 30 pounds in the first month.
While she laughs about her conversation with the surgeon, she takes the surgery and its related consequences seriously.

"I've talked several people OUT of gastric bypass," says Miller. You have to be committed to making serious life-style changes that will last forever, she says. Because the surgery is maladaptive and malabsorptive Miller takes regular vitamins and supplements twice daily and is blood tested twice a year for deficiencies.

"If I eat incorrectly I risk dumping syndrome," says Miller. "This happens when the contents of my stomach leave the stomach too rapidly and then dash through the small intestine. It can cause nausea, weakness, sweating, faintness and sometimes diarrhea after eating." She's generally successful at managing her diet.

Miller's post-surgery diet consisted of liquid or blended food six times a day for three weeks (serving portions of about 1/4 cup.) Protein was, and remains, the first food consumed at a meal. The amount of protein is determined by your surgeon based on height and gender. Miller must have at least 85 grams of protein a day.

"After the initial three weeks, I graduated to soft foods (limited veggies, no carbohydrates), but proteins were always consumed," she says. "At about six months I could add limited complex carbohydrates, but protein remained the first and most important item at each of the six meal times."

Miller's lifetime eating plan excludes:
  • Simple sugars
  • Simple carbohydrates
  • Or items with more than 20% of calories coming from fat, some exceptions are peanut butter and nuts on occasion.
  • Carbonated beverages could cause her smaller stomach to swell and stretch, which over time could cause Miller to overeat.

"Now I eat about 8 ounces at a meal time and fit more veggies, some fruits and whole grains into that meal opportunity," she says. "I still eat six times a day." She says having dumping syndrome is a great reminder that she must eat and drink appropriately every single day of her life.

Miller reached her goal weight in March and has maintained a healthy weight range for the last eight months.

"Overall I've lost 81% of my excess weight and I believe my high level of physical activity is part of the reason I've been able to exceed expectations," Miller says. Most RNY patients lose 50-75% of excess body weight post surgery.

"One of the huge benefits of doing triathlon training is it reminds me every day how far I've come," she says. "Even just a year ago a bike was just something I wanted because it sounded like fun. If you'd told me I would have done five triathlons before Thanksgiving of the next year, and have a sixth coming up in December, I would have been stunned."

"I don't think anyone could have told me I'd be in a place where I could run 2.25 miles without stopping or slowing to walk either, and yet I'm in a place where I think it's possible I may be able to run the full 5K on Thanksgiving Day this year," she says.

"Since I've NEVER been able to run even a mile in my life, this feels like an incredible victory," says Miller. "I realize much of what I'm celebrating isn't anything magical to others who've been athletes, but I've never been able to do this sort of stuff and it's ALL magic and worthy of celebration to me."

Patricia, thanks for letting us celebrate with you! Here's a pre-Thanksgiving Day toast to you! Cheers! I can't wait to hear about your Turkey Day 5K and December triathlon. Enjoy!!

Meet Patricia Miller: From 405 to Finish Line

Questions for You:
- Do you eat correctly 100%?
- How will you celebrate Thanksgiving this year?

photos by: me. I bought beautiful wooden food for our toddler's 2nd birthday. I had to take it away. The little stinker likes to chuck all the food ... it hurts getting nailed by a flying wooden banana.

TRIATHLETE: Meet Patricia Miller - from 405 to Finish Line

I connected with Patricia Miller via active.com where I volunteer as a moderator in the triathlon community. Please join me in congratulating Patricia & in sharing her story.

Many first-time triathletes hope to shed a few pounds while training for their first event. Instead Patricia Miller lost weight first (230 pounds!) and then celebrated that powerful transformation by training for and finishing her first triathlon. In a similar fashion, Miller chose a reverse triathlon (run-bike-swim) rather than a traditional triathlon (swim-bike-run) for her first event.

Even at her peak weight in 2001 (405 pounds) Miller was active, hitting the gym 3-4 times a week and walking 2-3 hours once a week. Walking was slow and steady work. Her first treadmill mile took 55 minutes. But even a slow step is a step towards a healthier lifestyle and Miller was determined to get there.

She asked for a referral to a dietitian and saw limited success with exercise and diet choices over the next four years. In 2007 Miller researched Gastric Bypass surgeons. And with her doctor’s advice, Miller dropped more weight, getting down to a safer 350 pounds by the morning of her surgery (Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass—Roux-en-Y (RGB).

“The risk of death due to complications from any surgery is significant when you are morbidly obese and rise dramatically when you are ‘super obese,’” says Miller. As far as super powers go, Miller jokes that super obese would not be her first choice.

Instead, she wanted to become a super triathlete. She saw marathons and triathlons as high-level athletic events and knew one day she’d like to do a triathlon. “I wanted to be fit and doing a triathlon seemed like the best well-rounded way to demonstrate I was now a fit person,” says Miller.

In February 2009, with her goal weight (175) in sight, she began training. Miller would have about three months to train for the Jay Benson Triathlon May 10 in Albuquerque, N.M.

Training was fun! She loved the varied training mix of swimming, biking and running. But like many new and experienced triathletes, Miller struggled to reserve training time. As a school district superintendent she works 12-14-hour days so weekdays were tight.

As a result Miller stacked most of her workouts on the weekends with some weight training and cardio during the week. She built up her bike stamina from six miles to a peak of 18 miles, averaging about 12 miles an hour. But, with no technical background in swimming, biking or running, Miller felt a bit lost.

“I had no clue how to train, what to focus on, or how to get better,” says Miller. “Basically, I ordered a book from Amazon based on the title, The Slow, Fat Triathlete, and figured anyone with that kind of self-deprecating humor could be a good role-model for me.”

Miller booked help in the pool and tested brick sessions combining the bike and run. An online search for training plans brought her to active.com where she later registered for her first triathlon and then several more triathlons.

Race day arrived and Miller’s can-do attitude carried her through the run, bike and swim (reverse triathlon). As fellow triathletes know, the finish line is an experience. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first sprint distance triathlon or your first iron-distance race. What matters is what you gave to get to that finish line—what it took to get there.

Many first-time triathletes cry or at least tear up post-race, and Miller let tears of gratefulness fall. She was thankful she was physically able to do a triathlon. “It was an amazing feeling,” she says.

“After I did my first one I went home and told my husband, ‘I’m going on the circuit,’” she says. Miller’s family was supportive, but also surprised she kept going back for more triathlons!
“My husband bought me a new road bike for my 50th birthday and bought me all of the triathlon, swimming and biking books I had on my Amazon wish list,” she says.

In addition to her family Miller had a school district full of support. “I’m the superintendent of a small county-wide school system in New Mexico. Our students are outstanding athletes,” says Miller. “Last year they won four of the five possible state championships for 1A schools: football, volleyball, boys’ basketball, and boys’ and girls’ track. They were such fantastic supporters of my effort. They wanted to pack me some snacks and beverages, but I told them I require specific foods due to weight-loss surgery and that their moral support was sufficient.”

While Miller trains alone she’s spread encouragement across the state. Thanks to Miller’s support, two friends also became triathletes. One friend lives in Las Cruces (350 miles away) and another friend lives in Albuquerque (160 miles away). Miller’s new triathlete trio enjoys getting together at triathlons around the state. And, she hopes her story and example will encourage future “thinking-about-it” triathletes to take the plunge.

“I hope other folks may find this encouraging,” says Miller. “Anyone can do a triathlon. The only thing that limits us is our fear of failing. And right now I would rather try and fail than sit around wishing I had the gumption to give it a shot.”

Nobody will make fun of you for being last, she says. And nobody will make fun of your bike or your swimsuit. Take pictures, she suggests, and remember you don’t have to be first to be a winner.

Currently Miller is working to reduce her 5K time (45 minutes mostly walking). “Recently I went to Active.com to find out how to progress from walking my 5Ks to running them,” she says. “I got some training tips and hints and now I can run for 35 minutes without stopping. I am so jazzed that I’ve signed up for a 5K in Florida when I’m visiting my daughter and son-in-law for Thanksgiving. THEY are so jazzed by my excitement that they have signed up too.” Her new 5K goal time is 30 minutes. “I don’t know how realistic that is,” she says, “but I’m trying like crazy.”

And if she finishes last in future triathlons she has great perspective thanks to her husband’s comics.com purchase. When Miller finished last in three of her first four triathlons, her clever husband bought her a Frazz t-shirt. In the cartoon a little boy is running beside the main character (a triathlete) and asks, “What do they call the last person to finish a triathlon?” to which the triathlon character responds, “A triathlete.” Buy Jeff Mallet's new Frazz book Trizophrenia: Inside the Minds of a Triathlete.

“I love that shirt,” says Miller. And in her last tri, Miller bumped up three spots to 347/350. She keeps a record of all her race times and improves consistently. “That keeps me trying,” she says.

Resources Miller Loves:
My blog (Cool!) & more “I really appreciate the effort you make to keep your blog current and to have nifty and encouraging stories on the site,” says Miller. “I don’t have a coach or a team to train with, so I get lots of encouragement from web sites, magazines, and the books I’ve collected since I decided to do this 10 months ago.” Thanks Patricia!

Other Good Stuff:
- Triathlete Magazine’s Essential Week-by-Week Training Guide: Plans, Scheduling Tips, and Workout Goals for Triathletes of All Levels by Matt Fitzgerald
- Total Immersion: The Revolutionary Way To Swim Better, Faster, and Easier by Terry Laughlin & John Delves
- Cycling Past 50 (Ageless Athlete Series), by Joe Friel
- Triathlon 101 - 2nd Edition (Outdoor Adventures), by John Mora
- Going Long: Training for Triathlon's Ultimate Challenge (Ultrafit Multisport Training Series), by Joe Friel & Gordon Byrn
- The Essential Triathlete, by Steven Jonas M.D.
- The Complete Book of Long-Distance Cycling: Build the Strength, Skills, and Confidence to Ride as Far as You Want, by Edmund Burke, Ed Pavelka & Bicycling Magazine.
- Triathlon Workout Planner, by John Mora

Gear Miller Loves
I love my Shimano clip-on bike shoes and pedals. They make me feel like a machine when I’m on the bike. I also love my bikes. I have a Giant hybrid I use for “dirty tris” and mountain biking and a Specialized WSD road bike.
photo by hotel clerk: Patricia Miller had the hotel clerk take her picture to commemorate her first triathlon. I connected with Patricia Miller via active.com where I volunteer as a moderator in the triathlon community. Please join me in congratulating Patricia & in sharing her story with current and future triathletes.

Animal Frights!! Alligators, Turtles, Snakes & More

My parents were recently in Naples, Fla., enjoying the hot sub-tropical sun. Their condo has a lazy river swimming loop that our family adores when we have the opportunity.

The condo development is on the edge of town, and backs up to a water channel, so we've seen many types of wild animals: gators, boar, armadillos, snakes, fox and more. My parents' lanai looks onto a series of ponds, so we're always on the lookout for "Al." Once, when my Dad was grilling, Al planted himself directly behind their unit!

I've always wondered if animals get into the lazy river swimming pool. It's gated, but some could crawl over and others could slither under the chain fence. When I'd swim alone in the early morning or right before it closed, I'd imagine swimming around a corner and bumping into something scary...

Well, Mom and Dad said this time someone had to remove a 4-ft alligator from the lazy river. It'd snuck under the fence & was enjoying its lazy laps. Sure, it's a little one, but no thank you! They'd also removed a snake from the filter trap & a turtle who was swimming around. And, over by the water channel they had to trap and remove a bear. I love seeing wild animals. But as a mom of three, I don't want to go all "mama bear" in order to protect my cubs.

On Topic:
- p. 120 Fall 2009 USA Triathlon Life's The Big Question column topic is "What is the most interesting thing you've found while training?"

- Swim survivors of Lucky's Lake swim receive a special "I survived" patch after signing the wall. Athletes could see gators while swimming in Lucky's Lake.

- Seven months ago I asked active.com triathletes what they've run into while training. What were athletes' tales from the trails? Read those responses here.

Question for You:
What animal encounter would scare you most while training?

photo by Dad: This isn't Al. My parents saw this sunny gator while on a roadtrip.

Triathlon + Family: LegoTown

This is LegoTown. This miniature world changes daily.

As we build and rebuild these creative scenes, we build up our family. LegoTown helps our family connect. In busier work or triathlon training seasons, we need the moments and interaction worlds like LegoTown provide.

We think triathlon + family = a good thing. But, it's easy to lose perspective and start chipping away at your family's foundation. Stop now and start repairing your own LegoTown.

Questions for You:
- How do you connect as a family?
- Do you love Legos?

More on Triathlon + Family
- Turn to p.90 of the November issue of Triathlete Magazine for "Walking the Tightrope: How to Balance Training and Family."

Hubby and I have finished triathlons of all distances. We have three kids and this year drove 4,000 miles roundtrip as a family to support Ken's second IM event. Read his race reports and meet Team BAMF here:
Ken & family supported my trip this summer to take USAT's Level 1 Coaching course.

photo by me: One section of LegoTown action!

Word Cloud: Triathlete Training

I love words! I write. I read. I learn.

As a writer I read and follow Nathan Bransford's blog. He's currently running the 3rd Sort-of-Annual Stupendously Ultimate First Paragraph Challenge. He pasted 247,000 words from the 2,651 challenge entries into a Wordle. I love it!

I copied my partial into a Wordle (first three chapters of my manuscript). The result:
Wordle: Sara - partial

Bike is BIG! I'm glad.

Questions for you:
- Do you follow Nathan?
- Do you love words & Wordles?
- What words would represent your current triathlon training experience? What would your big word be?

Image credit: http://www.wordle.net/show/wrdl/1234215/Sara_-_partial

Congrats Local Finishers @ Ford Ironman World Championships!

I was surprised how many times I heard "from Madison, Wisconsin..." while watching athletes finishing this year's Ford Ironman World Championships. (Search 2009 results.)

Looking closer now at the results, I'm also impressed how many local athletes placed in their agegroups. Congratulations!

Athletes/finish time/placement include:
- Thomas Brunold - 9:27:09 3/248
- Mike Lavery - 9:36:35 5/35
- Michael Meteyer - 9:48:52 3/104
- Mike Gotzler - 9:59:35 56/206
- Joe Kurian - 10:02:03 56/143
- Jackie Arendt -10:17:58 4/51
- Jim Brusketwitz -10:52:05 5/57
- Cindi Bannick -11:11:37 27/67
- Tom Shepard -11:25:38 25/35
- Scott Johnson -11:26:30 102/183
- John Birkelo -11:37:29 109/183
- Colleen Capper -11:42:47 10/54
- Kristin Korevec -11:44:04 31/51
- Jeff Boldt -11:46:10 62/104
- Justin Hart -13:44:22 85/92

I hope I've included everyone. Again, congratulations!

Question for you:
Was your state/city represented at this year's Ford Ironman World Championships?

More Kona Coverage:
Wellington Sets a New Standard
Women's press conference
An incredible day in Kona

photo credit: Chrissie Wellington Wins! http://ironman.com/mediacenter/downloads

A Hat Trick for Chrissie! 3x Ford Ironman World Champion

It's a hat trick for Great Britain's Chrissie Wellington! The superstar triathlete defended her title at yesterday's Ford Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, while also breaking the course record!

Wellington's overall time of 8:54:02 broke the course record set in 1992 by Ironman icon and eight-time Ironman World Champion Paula Newby-Fraser.

Wellington's never lost an Ironman event. At a shorter triathlon, Wellington took second to pro Julie Dibens at the 5430 longcourse triathlon in Boulder, Colo. At the women's press conference Wellington referred to that loss and quoted her former coach's advice, "Brett used to tell me that “some sessions are stones and some are stars, but they're all rocks that we build on.” I say, rock on Chrissie!
In Kailua-Kona Wellington held the lead by approximately 15 minutes throughout the 140.6-mile course, ranking 22nd among the entire field of male and female professional athletes.
The top five professional women’s results:
1. Chrissie Wellington, GBR 8:54:02
2. Mirinda Carfrae, AUS 9:13:59
3. Virginia Berasategui, SPA 9:15:28
4. Tereza Macel CZH 9:23:43
5. Samantha McGlone, CAN 9:30:28
With Ironman, "Anything is Possible" and everyone has a story. In addition to Wellington, two inspiring athletes included:
- Kyle Garlett, a 4-time cancer survivor who missed the swim cutoff by seconds. Race day marked the third anniversary of his heart transplant.
- Rudy Garcia-Tolson, the amazing double above-knee amputee, finished the swim in 1:14 and nearly made the bike cutoff. This 21-year-old athlete has no quads or hamstrings, for him riding a bike is like cycling on stilts!
For more inspiration catch the Emmy Award-winning Ford Ironman World Championship broadcast Dec. 19, 2009, from 4:30 – 6 p.m. EST.

More articles:

My 1st Place Husband: Race Report

Ken and I began the spring outdoor season with a challenging, bitter cold & wet ride up in Minnesota in April. Read the full story "Wet, Windy & COLD - the MN Ironman Bike Ride."

Last weekend, it appeared we'd finish our outdoor season with another WET and freezing event participating in our village's triathlon. And while it was chilly, the rain held, only misting us briefly. The cooler temps worked for both of us. Ken ran his fastest sprint triathlon at 1:16:40 (top overall male finisher). I ran my best sprint too finishing in 1:37:37 (3rd AG).
Also racing were several Village Bootcampers: Jennie, Nancy & Jessie! Well done ladies! It was also fun seeing Stephanie & Melissa along the run course! Thanks for your encouragement!

We tried new things:
- Ken biked and ran sockless. Biking was fine, the run was OK for a sprint, but not longer.
- I wore one of my SkirtSports bike skirts. Over the last year I've purchased several types. I loved racing in it, the underskirt grippers stayed put. It was cute, comfortable and feminine.
- Post race I tried my first sample of POM Wonderful 100% juice. I learned there are dozens of different pomegranate varieties and their juices are not all the same, similar to grape juices. I love the name, logo & bottle design.

Photos by my sister. L- me. LC- Ken. RC- me. R- Me, Ken & my brother-in-law Doug.

The Triathlon is intentionally kept small: no bike racks, no timing chips, no signage.
- Athletes pick a bike spot along the service path, lean it against a fence or on the ground.
- Stopwatches are set as each wave begins the swim. Race director Katie Heisier encourages athletes to also time themselves.
- Sharks swim team parents and athletes stand along the bike and run course helping athletes know when and where to turn. And local police/highway patrol helped man major intersections.

The event awarded overall male, female and relay. And gave medals to first place in each category. They also held a raffle with at least 50 prizes (fitness classes, baseball hats, goggles, and certificates to local vendors). Both my husband and my brother-in-law won raffle prizes (Spartan hat and free yoga/pilates class).

Ken volunteered Friday afternoon at the youth triathlon. It was a bitter day for kids under 12. Fortunately the rain held until the last finisher came in. Youth triathlons are the best!

Photos by me. Bikes at the Youth Triathlon. I love the helmet in the basket.

Questions for you:
In what weather conditions have you PRd?
- What size event (running, tri, other) do you prefer?
- What triathlon event do you see growing quickest: youth, women's, sprint general.

Happy 13th!

Happy 13th anniversary Hubby!

Germ-X + Eye = :-(

There's a suspected case of H1N1 at our son's preschool. With young kids germs are everywhere. So, without going overboard, we're washing our hands more and trying to avoid obvious germ hideouts.

Yesterday I cleaned the boys' bathroom again and then washed my hands with soap afterwards. To be extra germ-resistant I then squirted some Germ-X onto my hands. I felt something hit my face and then my eye was burning and I was yelling. The Germ-X squirted directly into my right eyeball!

I was steps from the bathroom sink and was able to flush my eye within seconds. I ran it in cold water for two five-minute segments and called Ken and my health clinic. The clinic was booked, so I went to urgent care once Ken drove home from work.

Urgent care this time of year is GERM central! When I checked in the wait time was over 2 hours, and the waiting room was packed. Oh no! A freak squirt of Germ-X has forced me to bathe in a waiting room of germs!!

Fortunately if you have "a chemical in your eye" urgent care moves you near the top of the list. And I had effective, yet ouchy, treatments:
- I had my pH taken twice. A nurse sticks a little strip of paper under your lower eyeball for a few seconds. Mine was 7, normal, so I'd done well flushing.
- I had numbing treatment squirted onto my eye. Before it numbs, the medication first stings as it goes in.
- The doctor painted my eye with a yellow dye and then looked at my eye with some sort of black-light goggles. Fortunately no scratches visible on my eye.
- More flushing, irrigating of my eye.

I was almost done. Then Poison Control suggested more flushing of my eye. Up next, the Morgan Lens. Here's how it's used: http://www.morganlens.com/use.html. None of the nurses had used one before, and the doctor said it'd been a few years since she'd put one in... It took a few tries. My eyelids were too slippery from all the irrigating.

I don't wear contacts. And the Morgan Lens is more than a contact. It's thick, like a suction cup you'd hang a suncatcher with. I'd like two healthy eyes, so I did my best. I was terrified the lens would pop out again. I did not want that thing inserted under my eyelids again!

Of course I'm thanking God I have both eyes! And I think it's amazing what tools and procedures medical teams have to help people in accidents. But each time I squirt my hands with Germ-X this winter, I'll do my best not to cringe.

Questions for You:
- What are you doing to stay germ-free this winter?
- What's the strangest injury you've had?

photo credit: An image of H1N1 influenza virus. Taken in the CDC Influenza Laboratory.

Race Report: Devil's Challenge Triathlon

Fourteen years ago my hubby and I got engaged before racing my first triathlon -- The Devil's Challenge, Baraboo, Wis. Ken and I raced together (he waited for my swim wave to catch his.). After crossing my first finish line, I knew I was in love - with Ken (of course) and with triathlon.
photo: Ken & I 14 years ago on our mountain bikes at Devil's Challenge. It was also my birthday.
Devil's Lake State Park provides a challenging but beautiful venue for a late season Wisconsin race! The triathlon is part of the Wisconsin Triathlon Series.

photos: Left- Ken took this while playing with the kids during my race. center- end of the swim. right- starting the bike.

Over the years, we've come back several times and have brought friends and family with us. Last weekend, we drove over for another, but I'd be the only one racing this year. Lucky me! It was a bizarre event this time:
- The water was shallow this year, so I picked up all sorts of weedy trailers during my swim.
- Right before the bike mount line, I saw my visor. It was riding along on my clipless pedal...
- I started my bike at 23+ mph, and slammed right into the long steep hills. Ouch. The hills hurt. One of the race directors told me a CAT 1 cyclist did the bike in ~43 minutes. It's challenging. I hope to improve next year.
- I got pinched twice by cars. Once by a RR track and once coming down a hill into the park.
- I felt best about the run. I've been working on my lean and turnover and felt the run went well.
- For the first time, I won an award. I got third in Athena. And while we were still on site, I missed the awards ceremony because I had no clue I'd placed. The race director let me pick up my award post-race -- yippee!

photos: left: me on the run wearing my SUGOI Velocity tri shorts. I wear these shorts everywhere! I was so fast Ken blurred the photo. center - Dad & I post race. right- my 3rd place award.
It was a great day for racing! Thanks again Wisconsin Triathlon Series!
Question for you:
Have you celebrated a birthday, anniversary or special occasion with a race?