QC Triathlon Recap – Conquering Fear {GiveitaTRI}

Nausea overwhelmed me during my morning workout. The banana I had just consumed was fighting for space among the butterflies that had taken up residence over a week ago when I questioned whether I should even race this year. It was only Wednesday, my race was days way and still the anxiety and apprehension were holding me prisoner.


It’s no secret that this year’s training has been fraught with obstacles. Fear among the top contender, with lack of self-confidence a close second. My training had been inconsistent and at times non-existent. After a bout of self-doubt and battling a heaping dose of PTSD from last year’s training backlash on the family front, I was reluctant to push myself and compete.


When I voiced these fears on the internet and to my family I was met with reassurance and encouragement. However, the fear had already taken hold and it wasn’t letting go, which left me with a shaky heart, a butterfly-filled tummy and TRIbrain.


All I wanted was for it to be over, so I could do something other than swim, bike and run.


On the Friday before race-day my boss, sensing my lack of motivation and focus, allowed me to escape work and head to my race destination early.


I drove the hour south to pick up my packet and scope out the already familiar race course. I’ve been doing this race for five years, there were no surprises, nothing had changed and yet everything was different, my hands where still shaking as the race volunteer handed me my packet.


Eventually, once I started chatting with “my people” the race nerves began to subside {a bit}. I was even more relieved when I noticed my race number didn’t have a 13 and it wasn’t 666 – whew crisis averted. After I was tatted, I headed over to transition and scoped out my spot. Ironically, it’s in approximately the same place every single year. It must be fate. I took a couple of deep breaths hopped in my truck and headed to the Sherpa’s house {aka my mom’s}



Each year, since she moved to the Quad Cities my mom hosts me the evening before my race. She makes me pasta and a salad, we talk about mundane things to abate my nerves and then she wakes up with me at the crack of dawn to cheer me on.


It’s THE Best.


That evening I was more restless than usual, and after a fitful night’s sleep I woke up at 4 am on race day grumpy and groggy. Oh, and freaking cold.


It was the middle of June, but it was freezing {according to me}. A balmy 50-ish degrees outside. Luckily I had my Team Pink Betty sweatshirt, but I had to borrow my step-dad’s sweat pants. Not the most attractive, but they did keep my shivers from being too overwhelming.


Oh, yeah. Did I forget to mention that when I’m super nervous my entire body starts shaking and my teeth start chattering. I look like I’m suffering from hypothermia. Cold temps only exacerbate the issue, which made race morning pretty interesting.



With shaky hands I applied my race number stickers to my bike and helmet, swung my bag over my shoulder and told my mom I’d see her in the park.


Due to the fact that it’s a closed race course {meaning no cars allowed} we opt to park outside the park, otherwise it would be hours before I’d get my post-race pancakes and trust me you don’t want me to wait hours.


Biking into the park also gives me some time to warm up, focus and settle those rambunctious butterflies.


I arrived at transition and again with shaky hands, began the task of unpacking and setting up my area. Hydrating came next. I learned my lesson about hydrating early and often after last year’s cramping issues during the swim. Calf cramps suck, and they also make it impossible to swim.



This year instead of visiting with my mom, I stuck close to transition. Visiting with other triathletes and just chilling. I ran into a few fellow Bettys, and some other folks from SBM and triathlon FB groups. It was nice seeing some familiar faces in person.


About this time my shaking and chattering were driving me nuts so I opted to put my wetsuit on early in an effort to warm myself up. It worked well until I headed to the water. I have to tell you there is nothing worse than that first moment when your nice warm wetsuit fills to the brim with ice cold water. It makes you want to drop a few thousand f-bombs. Although it’s quickly alleviated by peeing in your wetsuit…oh wait was that TMI…just ignore that part.



When I lined myself up for the swim, I mistakenly placed myself in the 9 – 10 minute slot usually I place myself in the 13 – 15 slot. Oops. I ended up getting a bit battered, but it wasn’t too bad.


Prior to my race I was easily swimming 300 – 500 straight, which is a big deal for a girl who just re-learned how to swim only a year ago. However, the moment I was a quarter of the way in the water, old habits returned and I couldn’t put my face in the water. I spent half the swim doing the breaststroke and the other half doing the bear crawl. I was pissed! Obviously I need more OWS practice.


About three quarters of the way through the swim I started to get REALLY tired {remember restless night of sleep} and I almost said, “Screw it. I’m going to just climb in one of the boats and go for pancakes.” I quickly fought through that mind bender and plowed forward.


Usually the bike portion is where I’m footloose and fancy-free. However, as I mentioned this year was different.


After my should I or shouldn’t I race meltdown, I decided that if I’m going to race I’m going need a race bike. So, on a whim two weeks before race day over my lunch hour I bought a road bike. We had only two weeks to get to know each other and I wasn’t feeling confident about our new relationship. Hill climbs were tougher than I thought they should be and I was paranoid I’d throw my chain with each gear shift. {note to self watch a YouTube video on fixing a thrown chain}




I shouldn’t have worried for my girl and I got along just fine and even with a headwind we still made good time.


By the time I hit the running trail I was in full happy endorphin mode. Then I realized they changed the running course, and I had to run on gravel or what felt to my feet as large boulders. Paranoia struck and my pace slowed as I fretted about rolling an ankle. Thankful it didn’t last long and I was off running into the glorious day. Along the way I heard a few “Go Betty!” which is so funny because people probably thought my name was Betty. The moment I slapped the tire of the John Deere tractor I knew I was almost there, ready to cross the finish line.


There is a point in this race where I ALWAYS sprint. Even if I feel like my lungs are going to explode and my legs will fall off I sprint. It’s the best piece of advice I can give to anyone racing – ALWAYS SPRINT TO THE FINISH. Every time I pass at least two people, which considering my run is as slow as a snail, makes me feel pretty awesome, it makes for great photos and best of all you FINISH STRONG.



“It’s not how you start, but how you finish.” The best quote I’ve ever heard and I always remember it.


“And crossing the finish line is Brook Easton from Iowa City,” with that I was done.


Another triathlon was in the books. I had conquered my fear and won.


Then I remembered our race director, Eric Sarno’s email the day before….


“What stands between you and your race goals on Saturday?

For some it may be nothing, maybe for others it is fear, stress, anxiety, uncertainty, a nagging injury, lack of training, in-experience… Let\\’s just refer to all of it as “stuff”.

When your feet touch the ground for the first time on Saturday morning, I believe that this Stuff will say, “OH NO! THEY ARE-UP!” I believe that this stuff, will say, “They are up! Even though I did my best to get in their way… they are up! And they are coming to the starting line!” As you stand on the beach ready to start, that stuff will have been kicked in the face, and when you cross the finish line, that “stuff” will have been destroyed!




Thanks Eric I totally kicked all that “stuff” in the face and destroyed it!


I appreciate all the love, support, Facebook messages, voice messages and encouragement during my race and in the weeks prior. You – my friends, my husband and kiddos, the Sherpa {aka mom}, the GoTRIbal team, Team Pink Betty and the SBM family all crossed that finish line with me without all of you there wouldn’t have been a race day – THANK YOU.


My mom, who captured THE BEST photo ever {see above}, greeted me at the finish line with a hug and as always she read my race time, because I just can’t bear to do it.


The time 1:51


I was content.


As I headed to transition I listened to my messages. Tears welled in my eyes as I heard my husband and the boys wishing me luck on my race, and Little Red yelling “you’re going to win mama.”


Oh, buddy I already have.

Scenes: Will They Appreciate it?

July 4th isn’t huge on my list of holidays. There aren’t presents or costumes, and it’s always hot, but we do have some Independence Day traditions that I look forward to. Unfortunately this year my kids didn’t share my same enthusiasm.


On the morning of July 4th we packed our candy bags for the parade and loaded ourselves into the car. I was dressed the part, blue tank top to match my red, white and blue plaid shorts, plastic star necklaces from Oriental Trading draped around my neck.


The kids however did not share my excitement, a Chima shirt and sweat pants {it was 80 degrees} somehow just don’t say America to me. I was disappointed, but let it go because it wasn’t a battle worth fighting.


At the parade Big E turned into a moody clam, not opening his mouth to even say “hi” to longtime friends. Meanwhile Little Red cried each time a piece of candy was swiped from his grasp. As I watched their craziness, all I could do was shake my head. I wanted so badly for them to just enjoy themselves, and the moment. To snap out of their funk and just have some freaking fun already.



As we made our way back to the car, each child a moody grumpy mess, I questioned myself. “Why go to all the trouble if they don’t even appreciate it,” I grumbled to my husband later that day.


“Well, don’t take them if they are going to act like that,” he stated matter-of-factly.


Darn men with their rational problem-solving brains.


Seems easy enough right, but I can’t.


I can’t let them miss out on life and experiences, even if it makes them uncomfortable or they may not be too thrilled about it at the time.


No matter how bad it is, something in me just keeps trying.


So, later that evening after naps, afternoon shows and partying with friends we headed to the fireworks.


Dressed in PJs, the boys climbed out of the truck into a grassy field over looking the city, and began chasing lightning bugs and rolling in the bug laiden-grass. I cringed each time one of them fell to the ground nervous they would stand up covered in chiggers or ticks. “Please stop rolling on the ground,” I pleaded a gazillion times. After a gazillion and one times the hubs lost it and ordered both boys back into the bed of the truck. Tears ensued and both my husband and I sighed heavy sighs looking at each other and without saying a word thought the same thing “Why are we doing this again?”


It was hours past their bedtime by the time the first firework lit the sky. By then the tears had somewhat subsided, and grumpy moods were replaced by a few ooh, and ahhs. Although Little Red spent much the show nuzzled in his daddy’s neck, wanting to sleep.


Once the show was over, both boys and us were so tired we collapsed in a heap. I asked Big E what he thought of the fireworks and he mumbled “they were ok” and I was little hurt by his lack of excitement.


It wasn’t until last week when we were randomly talking in the car that he mentioned “you know mom those fireworks were awesome, can see some again sometime?”


“Of course buddy,” I replied with a huge smile on my face.


This year’s fireworks aren’t the first time this delayed appreciation has happened.


There was that camping trip in which the kids refused to hike trails, complained about the bugs and just wanted to cuddle up with the iPad. Then a month or so later both boys commented on how fun it was camping and begged to do it again.


And so goes the delayed rewards of parenting.


Often you wonder if the kids will ever appreciate everything you do for them., the family trips, the gazillion lunches packed, the glasses of water at 1 in the morning or the multitude of hugs, kisses and nose doinks.


The appreciation comes later, it could be hours, days, weeks, months, years or even decades, but if you are patient it will come and that’s when you know it was all worth it.

Scenes: A Trip to Clearwater Beach {#Redhitsthebeach}

This is long, but if you are looking for a great getaway you will want to read it, and no it’s not a sponsored post.


Our bags were {over}packed, and as storm clouds threatened I stood in the driveway shifting from foot to foot looking like I was about to pee my pants waiting for our friends to arrive so we could catch our plane to Florida.


This is only the second time we’ve taken an extended trip without the boys.


I can’t deny the fact that I was glad we were going solo. The boys are great {most of the time}, but sometimes it’s nice to relax without worrying about naps, feeding pouty mouths, hearing “mom, mom” fifty thousand times a day, defusing temper tantrums, dispensing meds, stepping on LEGOS … the list goes on and on.


Can you tell we needed a break?


Clearwater 2014


Once we reached the airport bar I was ready for vacation. Luckily I didn’t moon anyone at the airport this time, but our Clearwater adventure did have a small hiccup. Remember the storm clouds I mentioned at the beginning, well it turned into a pretty wicked storm. We ended up sitting on the plane for two hours waiting it out, which meant my bladder sat for two hours with booze percolating inside it, which also meant I had to break my long-standing rule about using the bathroom on an airplane.


I have a very large phobia about this, because I once read that a woman’s guts were sucked out by an airplane toilet. I’m sure Myth Busters proved it was truly a myth, but I can’t deny that as I sat on the little, teeny, tiny toilet the thought popped into my head and I didn’t linger too long in there. The jury is still out on which is worse an airplane bathroom, or the porto pottys at the triathlon.


As a friend kindly pointed out at least I can just pee in my tri-shorts, on a plane not so much. There you have it.


Once my bladder had expunged the alcohol I consumed earlier, I was able to settle in with the hubs and watch a movie while we jetsetted to our destination.


What felt like a gazillion hours later we were finally in Clearwater.


Ahhh, paradise.


We checked into the Hyatt Clearwater, which is gorgeous, and didn’t have the accoutrement of home. Like toys strewn across the floor, dirty dishes in the sink or laundry in baskets waiting to be folded.


Clearwater 2014


Instead it was immaculate, with a view of the ocean, and a kitchen with no dirty dishes and a HUGE bed for just us. I could have stayed in there forever, but my stomach was demanding food so we set off with our friends to find a place for dinner.


It was 10 pm on Sunday night.


There weren’t many choices, but we were lucky that Crabby’s Bar & Grill was open. It was at that point after eating fresh crab cakes I decided was going to eat my way through Clearwater.


Here’s the highlights…



Hyatt hotel, yummy eggs and ask specifically for cranberry pecan toast, it is awesome. I could have eaten a whole loaf.

The Café Beach Shanty was a cheap, yummy breakfast. I had French toast, eggs and bacon both days.





Because we were so laid back, sometimes lunch was only a snack, but I couldn’t let the trip go by without eating the famous Super Grouper Sandwich from Frenchy’s I’ve never had Grouper before and it was pretty tasty, and the sandwich was BIG!


Clearwater 2014



Ok, so don’t judge, but we went to Hooters. Yes, the girls wore hot pants that made me nervous about hygiene and some of them gave me boob envy, but the chicken was good, so there. Plus you probably didn’t know this {or maybe you did} but Clearwater houses the ORIGINAL Hooters which was also founded by a couple Iowa natives. I guess Iowans like boobs and chicken go figure.

Hands down go to Crabby Bill’s and get the Crab legs. I wish I would have taken a photo. They were HUGE, yummy and messy. I even tweeted that a Silkwood shower was in order after eating those. We ate at Crabby Bill’s twice and the second time I ordered shrimp, Mahi Mahi and there were a few Conch fritters on the side. It was my first time for Conch fritters too and they resembled a much tastier version of the hush puppy.


Clearwater 2014


Dining can get pretty expensive pretty fast, especially when you add alcohol to the bill. Luckily all the rooms at the Hyatt have kitchens with microwaves, stove tops and full size refrigerators, so we bought some groceries at Surf Style, a grocery store / souvenir shop. I couldn’t resist picking up a t-shirt or two along with our munchies.


Next up, what to do?


Well, I have to say that sleeping in was high on my list, but it was so stinkin’ gorgeous along the beach it was hard to linger in bed. A ritual transpired each and every time we left the hotel.


Swim Suit – check

Cover up – check

Slather self and husband head to toe in 50 SPF sunscreen – check


It’s a good thing we did too, because for some reason there were small bits that I forgot to cover, like my thighs or under my swimsuit strap, and my head. I ended up with a weird tan / burn thing going on.


Clearwater 2014


My husband and I thoroughly loved the beach. We were obsessively collecting shells for the boys, and trying our best to find a full sand dollar, even downloading an app that would tell high tide and low tide. My favorite part was just walking the beach with him during the early morning trying to find the perfect shell.


There are some rules about the beach that you should know.


Unless you want to recreate the scene from The Birds, don’t take food to the beach. The seagulls are relentless and bold. They will snatch food from a table, chair or hand. We watched as they terrorized a poor five year old boy who was running down the beach with a chip in his hand.


Sand gets EVERYWHERE. Sitting on the beach is relaxing, and you don’t realize you have a sand castle in your bottoms until you get up and head to your room. Ouch!


You have to pay for the cabanas unless you are like us and sneak off to the ocean every time you catch a glimpse of “clipboard guy”. Don’t judge we were only at the beach for an hour or two and spending $25 for that seemed ridiculous.


Clearwater 2014


Swimming is hard in the ocean. I tried to swim some laps, but due to the fact that my goggles were capturing salt water and I was also drinking it. My “swim” didn’t last long.


Sometimes you might see some marine life. We were lucky enough to see a dolphin while we were out on Pier 60. It was pretty close to shore and it was magnificent watching something that I’ve only really seen in an aquarium or on TV. My first thought was “the boys would love this.”


Clearwater 2014


Also, during high tide small clams {like the size of a finger nail} wash up on shore, and you can watch them quickly bury themselves in the sand. I tried to get a video of it, but they were just too quick.


The fun continued off the beach too.


We wanted to tour the island via water, so a boat cruise was on the itinerary. Of course it couldn’t be any old boat cruise; it had to be Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise. We had a good time enjoying drinks on the deck and watching the water roll by. The crew is great and they have activities for little buccaneers, so parents can have a relaxing boat ride. This was the second time I said “The boys would love this.”


Clearwater 2014


Before we left for our trip, we had talked about parasailing. It has been on my bucket list FOREVER and I really wanted to do it. However, is it really wise to do it {parasailing} with your husband? What if both of you plummet to your death and your children are left as orphans? Yes, those are the thoughts that run through my head.


Clearwater 2014


But once on the boat and ready to fly there was no one else I would have rather been with. Other than the fact that he tried to swing his legs {crazy man}, it was nice flying high with the hubs. Supposedly a manta ray jumped out of the water right under us, but I was too busy watching the boat to notice, bummer.


It was a once in a lifetime experience.


Just like the sunset.


Clearwater 2014


Seriously at the end of the day when you can stare at this, it’s perfection.


We returned home four days later, on an uneventful flight, to two boys who were so excited to see us I almost fell over when they rushed me at the front door. That’s perfect too even without the beach and with the LEGOS and laundry.


For more photos of our trip search #Redhitsthebeach on Instagram

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