2018 Book Review


It was my goal to read at least 10 books in 2018. I’m happy that I closed out the year finishing 15 different books. To some this number may be pathetic, but to me it was challenging. The temptation to sit on my phone and scroll aimlessly before bed was hard to break by pulling out a book instead. However it was always rewarding and reading proved much better use of my time than looking at my phone or binging Netflix. I hope to keep this habit in 2019.

I also really want to focus on writing more and I know that as an inspiring writer I should always be reading something!

So here’s my quick book review of all 15 books! I tried not to give away too much 😉

Book #1
The Iron Cowboy: Redefine Impossible
By: James Lawrence
As a fellow Ironman, I was drawn to this book. Redefine Impossible is a memoir from James Lawrence, the Iron Cowboy. He completed 50 Ironman distance triathlons in 50 days in 50 states. This book is a detailed look back on the good, the bad and the ugly of that summer. I actually saw James in state #39 in Ohio, so I was particularly interested in reading his story. It brought me back to the days of training for my first Ironman! I was really impressed with learning about his support crew, but often times I felt bad for his wife and family. I know from personal experience that Ironman is a selfish sport, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around what he asked his family to do. I also found it interesting to learn more about how he set up the races — from getting state ambassadors, to hounding companies to be sponsors. If I’m being honest this book altered my view on the whole 50 triathlons journey. He talked about burning bridges with friends, fighting with his wife and he lashed out often because of his irritability and general exhaustion (I mean I can’t really blame him!) Overall I do feel like this book tainted my view of the Iron Cowboy, which I found slightly disappointing, but I am glad I read this book and got a sneak peek into his mind and journey. I would recommend this book to any endurance athlete.

Book #2
By: Tina Fey
I purchased this book and tried to read it a few different times, but I just couldn’t get into it. The problem is, this book is written like standup comedy and it didn’t “read” as funny to me. It read as annoying and in long, run-on sentences. Determined to read it because I love Tina Fey, I picked up the audio book and decided that listening to it might be easier. And it was!! The audio book (read by Tina) was so much better and more entertaining. I found myself laughing out loud and reciting some of the stories to my husband later on. It felt like I was listening to her comedy act. But I don’t think I ever would have gotten through it without the audio book.

Book #3
The Outward Mindset
By: The Arbinger Institute
Our whole marketing department at work read this book.  We had a month to read it and then attended a facilitated book discussion regarding it. For being forced to read it as part of “work” it wasn’t terrible. Basically the entire book boiled down to this — Think about others and treat others as you would like to be treated. The whole principle is that organizations flourish under the thought leaderships of “outward” mindsets. AKA taking other people’s needs, feelings, etc. into consideration. When we stop focusing on our own wants and needs and start to think outward towards other’s wants and needs, everything else will fall into place. It seems a little bit too rainbows and butterflies, but I get the general message behind it.

Book #4
Heaven is for Real
By: Todd Burpo
This is the “true” story of a 4-year-old boy named Colton who had a near death experience. Supposedly Colton went to visit Jesus in heaven for a little bit. It was a really cool concept and well written, since Colton’s dad tells the story from his perspective. I am not sure how I feel about the actual thing happening though. In my heart I want to believe it’s real. The dad is a pastor at a church so you can’t help but think…well maybe the dad just wanted the fame and income from a story like this? But then you feel like an A-hole for thinking like that and the idea that it might actually have happened is really cool. My favorite parts of the book include Colton explaining that he met his unborn sister in heaven (who he later finds out “died in mommy’s tummy”) and when he explains meeting his Great Grandpa (who he never met when he was alive). This book is a quick read and left me wondering — could that have actually happened???

Book #5
The Wife Between Us
By: Sarah Pekkanen & Greer Hendricks
I had to wait a few weeks to get this audio book on OverDrive, but it was well worth the wait. The story concept kept me intrigued for the first half of the book, and by the second half it developed into a page turner. The main character is mysterious at first and there are bits and pieces of odd information and clues laced throughout the book. The ending loops everything together and the story comes full circle. It was a deep story line and covered the topics of mental illness, abuse, death and the development of two people in a toxic relationship. This is one of my highest recommended books!

Book #6
Irish Eyes
By: Mary Kay Andrews
I have read and loved several books by this author, but I almost stopped reading Irish Eyes multiple times. The story line was slow and I found some of the characters super annoying. Also the audio reader made some of the character’s voices almost unbearable to listen to. It took me almost two months to finish this book, but I was determined because I had already invested so much time. Only around chapter 14 did the book get vaguely interesting. The story line covers a string of robberies and a murder in Atlanta. After a series of weird clues, we find out that it seems like the Atlanta Police Department is strangely linked to everything happening. The main character, who annoyed me because she was just so stupidly stubborn, helps to solve the crime. I will say the ending is pretty disappointing and wasn’t very uplifting. The book ended and I seriously said out loud, “Wait really?? That’s it?

Book #7
Any Dream Will Do
By: Debbie Macomber
This book was a cool concept because it switched points of view between the two main characters — who wind up falling in love with each other. It was neat to have insight into each character as their relationship progresses throughout the story. I also like that one of the main characters is a pastor and you get to peek into his world of leading a church. There was a nice little God link that I appreciated and a good message that tied it all together at the end. It was a light and uplifting read!


Book #8
Primates of Park Avenue
By: Wednesday Martin
This book looked interesting to me because I love New York City. It was a little different because I typically don’t like memoirs.I found the book funny and slightly tacky — but still good, does that make sense?! LOL. It tells the stories of the author’s experience living in and raising children in New York City. Parts of it are written like a field guide describing animal behavior, which I thought was an interesting and funny concept.


Book #9
Leaving Time
By: Jodi Picoult
I’ve read a few books by this author and as soon as I started reading this one I remembered why I like her books so much. She writers so beautifully and her story lines are always thought provoking and deep. This story instantly hooked me and actually scared me a few times! It was really intriguing and it’s written with just enough suspense that it wasn’t cheesy since it kinnnnndddaaaa deals with ghosts. (I promise it’s not cheesy like Casper.) But that’s all I’ll give away! It also ends with a weird plot twist that I didn’t see coming.

Book #10
Paris For One & Other Stories
By: Jojo Moyes
I loved this book! The first of the short stories is the longest and about Paris — hence the name. Since we had just come back from Paris I found it very interesting because I knew most of the places they were referencing. I’ve never read a book with multiple short stories before and it really kept my attention. There were so many cute characters introduced and I loved that they were all based in London. Many of the stories had a deeper and intriguing theme. One of the shorter stories I really liked was called “Crocodile Shoes” which follows a women who accidentally switches shoes with someone and they transform her life. Funny, cute little stories with deeper meaning — it made for a quick read.

Book #11
Luckiest Girl Alive
By: Jessica Knoll
This book came recommended to me on the Overdrive App, and without even reading the summary I decided I was just going to go with it. I realized I’d never not known what a book is going to be about, which really intrigued me as I continued. Jessica Knoll may be my new favorite author. She wrote this book so hilariously, yet it’s so dark and twisty. I cannot get over it! The main character goes through so much pain and growth before the reader’s eyes. It switches between past memories and present day and as the story unfolds you see where exactly the pieces add up. It’s incredible and so well thought out. And as the story comes to a turning point you find out what exactly happened in the past. I legit gasped out loud! Then I couldn’t sleep that night because I was thinking about what had happened in the story. You guys — THIS IS A MUST READ. It’s Sex and the City mixed with a murdery action/love movie. Your heart goes out to the main character and there’s so many themes that any one who has ever survived middle school will relate to. It’s a really, really incredible book.

Book #12
Sisters Like Us
By: Susan Mallery
This was a cute little story! Anyone looking for a lighthearted read would love this book. It has some good themes, but isn’t over the top and is easy to follow. You see the characters evolve and the ending is very sweet and leaves you feeling good. I was slightly annoyed by one of the main characters, Harper, who I basically wanted to scream at to get a backbone — but she ended up redeeming herself in the end. It was also vaguely predictable, but again it was a cute and light read.


Book #13
Girl, Wash Your Face
By: Rachel Hollis
I had to give this book a try since everyone was talking about it. I think this book was good, however it wasn’t the life changing life manuscript that many made it out to be. Also I really don’t know why she named the book like she did. I think she made one comment about washing your face in it?? But I still picked up a few knowledge nuggets and was inspired to keep trying to write more. I also liked the chapter about the lie you tell yourself “I’ll do it tomorrow.” — as I was reading this chapter I looked up to see two big baskets of laundry that I was procrastinating putting away. You better believe I put those clothes away after I finished the chapter!

Book #14
Because of Bethlehem
By: Max Lucado
I read this book three years ago and really liked it. I think I may have started reading it last Christmas too, but never finished it. This holiday season I was determined to read it all again and I’m glad I did. Obviously this is a christian book, so it was chalked full with pieces of advice and wisdom about preparing your heart to celebrate the birth of Christ. It was very  “Jesus is the reason for the season”, but you know what? Sometimes we need the reminder in the hustle and bustle of Christmas! I am a big fan of Max Lucado.

Book #15
Angels at the Table
By: Debbie Macomber
I don’t think I’ve read any other “fantasy” book besides Harry Potter. So when I read the summary of this book and learned it was about a couple of angels, I decided to give it a try. It was pretty cute, yet very predictable. I would relate it to a traditional Hallmark Christmas movie. I wanted to read something cute and festive and that’s just what this book was.

London, Paris & Greece 2018 Review


We made it! We traveled to London, Paris, Greece and back. It only took 5,000 miles, 7 flights, 1 train and 1 unplanned bus ride later.

{Also it has been over four months since our trip if I am being completely transparent!!}

The funny thing about traveling though is that it makes you feel like the world is so big, yet so small at the exact same time. You know that your work, your friends and your life are all still going on back home, yet you are suddenly mesmerized with the glimpse of other people’s “normal”. It’s a weird feeling.

Traveling opens your heart and soul to possibilities. Every time I think of our trip I think of a F. Scott Fitzgerald quote from The Great Gatsby (one of my all-time favorite books and movies)…

There is this big, giant world out there. How sad it would be to never see it or experience it. There are so many facets of life. Cities, people, careers and paths. I was enchanted and yet repelled (by how lucky I am) about how much variety there is in life. It’s incredible and daunting to think about! You can literally do anything, be anyone or live anywhere.

But enough about soul searching. I think it happens to everyone when you travel for 2+ weeks! (And I image it’s even crazier when you actually live overseas for a period of time.) Here’s a first hand look at our journey to London, Paris, Greece and then back to little ‘ole Cleveland, Ohio…

Tuesday, July 31 — Journey to London 
We flew out from Cleveland on Icelandic Air. It was six hours to Iceland with a 2 hour layover and then another three hours to land at Heathrow in London (the busiest airport in the world). My husband and I flew out with my parents and my brother was meeting us in London. Our flight was basically our “overnight” so we tried to sleep as much as possible because when we landed it would be Wednesday morning in London. Our layover in Iceland was short and uneventful — which is a good type of layover to have!

I thought both of these pictures over Iceland were particularly cool, especially because the first one has the full moon. It blew my mind to think it was the same moon that I had run under during the Burning River Relay just two nights before — and now the same moon was over Iceland where we were about to land. Not long after the moon picture the sun was up. (I guess the sun is up full time in Iceland during that time of year!)

Wednesday, August 1 — London, England
Once we landed in London and met up with my brother we took the “tube” into the city. We rode the subway the majority of time while in London. This saved us a great deal of time because we were only there for about 28 hours. However when we left I kind of felt like we didn’t really “see” a great deal of London just because we weren’t driving around. The tube was probably the most time efficient though. “Mind the Gap” became a typical expression in our little traveling clan.

My brother greeting us in London.

Once we checked into our hotel we quickly showered, changed and were back out the door. We stayed at this little hotel/apartment within a mile or so of Buckingham Palace. The place was questionable, but it fit all five of us and it was close to most of the things we wanted to see. Plus we were there only to sleep so it would do!

This was the street our hotel/apartment was on. Cute and quiet yet super close to most of the big attractions.

We started out toward Buckingham Palace. We walked past a few cute tea shops and saw The Royal Mews, also know as the royal stables where all of the royal horses live. I couldn’t believe we were there! Then suddenly we were in front of Buckingham Palace and it was surreal! I couldn’t believe all of the history and that Harry and Meghan’s wedding had filled these streets only a few months before. I tried to imagine what it was like at the exact same spot during the weddings of Charles and Diana and William and Kate. (I may or may not have been freaking out.)

We continued walking around and strolled through St. James Park. We didn’t really know where we were walking to, but we were a little tired and hungry so our main goal was to find a “pub”. We ended up walking past Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and The London Eye. Almost everything was in full scaffolding though and we laughed at our timing and luck. Of course!

After walking a little off the beaten path we finally found a pub that we liked. By then it was after 5PM and it was cool to see people meeting for happy hour after work. I kept wondering if any of the people were marketing professionals! For dinner everyone (besides me) had the traditional fish and chips while I got a veggie burger. (I just can’t get down with fried fish!) The group was fading a little bit from jet lag but we were determined to tough it out since our time in London was so limited.

We walked around for the next several hours and grabbed drinks on the street (since there aren’t open container laws there!!) It was really neat to leisurely walk along the water and people watch.

We strolled on the true “London Bridge” which isn’t very exciting FYI, plus it wasn’t falling down 🙂 We walked across Tower Bridge and then walked the outside of The Tower of London. (Note: it took me a couple tries to understand the difference between all three of these sites!) Tower Bridge was built in 1066!! We enjoyed reading all the plaques along the outer side and I wish we would have had time to go inside. London has a deep (and kind of dark) history. I couldn’t believe all of the events that had taken place right where we were standing.

Once it was dark out we made our way back to our hotel and as soon as we were there everyone started crashing. I laid down and closed my eyes briefly, only to be woken up by my brother demanding I wake up. We discussed going to Piccadilly Circus, but the jet lag was too much for everyone. I guess Piccadilly Circus is like the Time’s Square of London. I’ve been to Time’s Square before and it was a bit overwhelming, so I wasn’t too upset we missed it in London.

Thursday, August 2 — Rest of London & Traveling to Paris
We woke up on Thursday knowing we had until about 5PM to see the rest of London. We were out the door by 9AM and stopped at a cute little cafe for breakfast. Our Buckingham Palace Tour was at 10:30AM.

Outside of an adorable cafe in London.

After chasing down our tour (that we still somehow managed to be late for), we saw the changing of the guards. That ceremony was long and hot, but still interesting. Then we walked the gardens of Buckingham Palace and heard about the rich history of the Royal Family (who have lived at BP since 1837!!).

Next it was our turn to officially enter the BP. Tours are only held when the Queen is away and she happened to be away on summer holiday when we were there. BP flies a specific flag when she is home so people know. I was like a giddy school girl as we waited in line and walked through security. It was a self guided audio tour, so we just walked around silently with headphones listening to the audio clips.

Last picture I got before I was asked to put my phone away. Royal family pictures in the hall!!

THE TOUR WAS SO COOL!!! But pictures weren’t allowed 😦

I kept reacting to the audio tour only to realize I was screaming I was so excited. My husband kept “shhhh-ing” me. I was pretty excited to say the least. We got to go into 16 rooms. The Palace is immaculate with crown modeling and renaissance paintings and decor. Everything was gold and red and OLD…but beautiful. We exited the tour into more royal gardens and of course had to go to the gift shop. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted a souvenir more than I did at BP. Unfortunately I thought everything was too overpriced or too tacky. I found the royal wedding souvenirs to be super entertaining!

After we were done with Buckingham Palace we walked around some more. I knew Cleveland Clinic London was close by so we swung by and visited the site. Then finally I convinced our group to have lunch at this adorable little tea room. We had tea (even though it was 90 degrees out), prosecco, sandwiches, scones and dessert. It might have been my favorite meal of our entire trip just because it was so very London.

After lunch we headed out towards St. Paul’s Cathedral, where Prince Charles and Princess Diana got married.

Finally we made our way back to the hotel where we stored our bags for the day. After we picked up our bags we got back on the tube and arrived at the train station to take the chunnel (aka Euro Star) to Paris. This train goes 186 miles per hour and is super smooth. It was a two hour ride with stunning views of the french country side as we bolted towards Paris.

When we arrived in Paris is was after midnight and we were very tired. Little did we know we would soon encounter an unfortunate event…

The husband and I told our group we were heading to the bathroom and asked if they could watch our bags. We went to the bathroom (after laughing because you had to pay a euro to use it) and walked back over to where our bags were when we were done. Within seconds we realized that my husband’s book bag was gone!! THANKFULLY his wallet, passport and cell phone were all in his pocket, but that was just a consolation prize in feeling very violated and being taken for granted 😦

It was a miscommunication between our group trying to coordinate additional train tickets to get to our hotel. But it was still very frustrating. It couldn’t have been more than a few seconds for the bag to disappear, which makes us think that someone had been following us or watching us. The scary thing was it was an international train station so anyone could walk in and walk out without security or even having a ticket. It was probably someone looking for the right moment — and we sure gave it to them. Afterwards we tried to report it stolen with the police, but it was very late and the language barrier was tough.

The last picture of my husband’s book bag! This was leaving London.

With heavy hearts we got on another train and made our way deeper into Paris. When we got off that train we walked another few blocks to our hotel. But I couldn’t shake the feeling of being taken advantage of because we were tourists. We went to bed upset that night and hoped to wake up with a lighter attitude.

Friday, August 3 — Paris Day 1
We woke up on Friday morning determined to give Paris another chance. The sun was shining and it was going to be 90 that day. We had our first Parisian breakfast with ALL THE CARBS (baguette, bread, croissant!) After that we made our way over to the bus tours and purchased the hop-on-hop off 2-day pass. We planned to see the Eiffel Tower first. We sat up on top of the double decker bus and I loved cruising the streets of Paris in the warm sun. The first glimpse I saw of the Eiffel Tower made me tear up — I couldn’t believe we were finally there and I felt so lucky!!

We stood in line waiting for tickets for about five minutes — until we realized the tickets for taking the stairs oppose to the elevator was a fraction of the wait time. So up we climbed! 1,710 steps! In 90 degree heat. In the sun. Me in a dress.

But it was a glorious day and the tower was everything I imagined it to be.

After spending several hot hours at the ET, we rode the bus back to where our hotel was, which was super close to Notre Dome. We realized the line to get in was going super fast so we jumped in and were inside in less than five minutes!

Besides being very dark inside, I thought the church looked similar to many of the Italian churches we had visited in Florence. Of course the child in me kept thinking about Disney’s Hunch Back of Notre Dome.

On the walk back to our hotel we stopped in a few cafes and stopped to get wine and snacks. We spent the next few hours sitting out on the hotel balcony relaxing. Later that night my husband, brother and I went out to dinner around 11PM. Because when in Paris why not?? We randomly just walked until we found a place we wanted to stop at. It was so fun being out late in the middle of Paris. We drank wine and tried escargot!

Saturday, August  4 — Second Day in Paris
After another Parisian, carb-filled breakfast we headed off to explore Montmarte. It was another hot sunny day and we were glad to take the bus instead of walking.

The climb up to Montmarte includes 300 steps, so when we made our way to the top, we were sweating just like when we climbed the Eiffel Tower. It was such a cute and neat little place though. We walked through the church at the top (The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris) and then proceeded to walk through the little streets of the town. We stopped to shop and eat. I even tried a true Parisian crepe!

We got back to our hotel in the late afternoon and had time to shower and then get re-ready to go back out. We wanted to go to a nice dinner and see the Eiffel Tower at night. We rode the bus out again and strolled along The Avenue des Champs-Elysees. (One of the most famous and rich streets in the world!) We walked a bit to get away from the super touristy area and settled on a nice little restaurant on a corner street. It happened to be right next to the tunnel where Princess Diana was killed (the Pont de I’Alma.) Afterwards we visited the site of the crash and it was very strange and sad. I love the royal family, especially stories of Princess Diana.

We made our way over to a bridge with a picturesque view of the Eiffel Tower. We bought a bottle of champagne from a street vendor and waited until the ET was lit up. It was a magical and incredible night!

Sunday, August 5 — Final Day in Paris & Traveling to Greece
On our last day in Paris, we knew we had to go to The Louvre. But not before we had more carbs for breakfast!

We were able to walk to the famous museum and it was only in the 80s that day. We checked out of our hotel and left our bags with the front desk.

After a 20-minute wait we were inside the museum, which I didn’t think was overly crowded like I expected it to be — probably because it’s so massive inside!

When we were done at the museum we got our bags from the hotel and took the train to Charles de Gaulle Airport. I was a little sad to be leaving Paris as it had grown on me despite our first night, but I was also excited to explore Greece. After five days of going non-stop it would be nice to relax a little on a beach, but not before we saw Athens.

We boarded our plane in Paris and landed in Athens around 11:30PM. We had to split up taking a taxi so my husband and I went in one car and my parents and brother in another. We learned a valuable lesson that night — to make sure you negotiate the cost of the drive before getting in a cab! Because a $60 ride was suddenly upped to $75 after a shady cab driver explained he charged for bags and that he took the freeway which was extra! (Seriously?!)

We stayed at Hotel Apollo, which seemed to be in a sketchy area in Athens, but the service and people working were excellent and more than made up for it.

Monday, August 6 — Athens Part 1
We woke up early on our first morning in Greece knowing it was going to be a long, hot day of sightseeing. We were able to see the Acropolis, which housed the Parthenon and the temple of Athena. The Acropolis area is HUGE and a pretty vigorous hike. Mix this with 90 degree heat, no shade and lots of crowds and you’re gonna need to take it nice and slow. After the Acropolis our traveling clan found a nice little restaurant and had authentic gyros — which were pretty incredible. The rest of the group wanted to stay and walk around this cute little downtown area, so the husband and I opted to walk another 3 miles and visited Hadrian’s Arch.

After we exhausted ourselves walking around Athens all day, it was time to make our way back to Hotel Apollo where we stored our suitcases for the day. We were concerned with getting ripped off on a cab ride again so we asked the front desk for assistance. They were THE nicest people! They called around and got us a great deal on a van to the airport and negotiated the price for us (without a weird mysterious up charge for bags and freeway driving!!) The hotel may not be in the best area of Athens, but they were incredibly friendly and helpful. I’m happy to support an honest business like that.

From the Athens airport, we took a 40-minute plane ride to Santorini — a beautiful Greek island known for honeymoons. Another van was waiting to pick us up (since the other half of our large group was already there) and it drove us to our AirBnB. We were staying in a traditional Greek hillside vila — which was legit carved out of the rocky hillside. The villa had no glass windows or AC, but was still very cool inside since it was made out of rock. The villa was set off quite a bit from the road and it was very dark out when we arrived. We had to walk a long cobblestone path and even through a wine field (not even kidding), but we finally made it! We were diffidently not in a super touristy area and were surrounded by locals — except for the group of Australians vacationing in the villa next to us!

Entrance to our villa!

A few people from our larger group came over to greet us that night when we got settled, but since it was pretty late no one stayed long and we all quickly turned in for the night.

Tuesday, August 7
We slept in a little this morning, which felt SO nice because we had been going non-stop before we got to Santorini. The AirBnB stocked our fridge so we made coffee and eggs and sat out on our patio for breakfast.

After breakfast we walked a little over a mile to our group’s other AirBnB. Their view was incredible, overlooking the bright blue waters of the Aegean Sea. We had a pretty low key day — day drinking in the sun and jumping in and out of the “cooling” tub on the back patio. Everyone along the coast had these tubs because it was 95 degrees out!

We walked to lunch, took a few naps and ended up going out for drinks in downtown Santorini (also called Oia) later that night. My brother and his partner went out separately for dinner and around 10PM I got a text that they had gotten engaged at dinner! What an awesome proposal! We met up with them and drank champagne as we walked back to the AirBnB. The night was warm and it was an amazing first day in Santorini.

Wednesday, August 8
Another morning of sleeping in felt good and once again we made breakfast at our AirBnB. (This was actually such a fantastic idea and it saved us a lot of money!)

We rented ATVs with the group and spent the day cruising around the island. We stopped for lunch at a random little gyro place, which was delicious. We drove to the beach and got in the water. We stopped at the oldest winery in Santorini and took a tour and did a tasting.

After the ATV tour we showered and went back to our group’s other AirBnB. We then had THE MOST incredible meal I think I’v ever had. Six courses prepared by a private chef on the patio overlooking the sea. It was such a fun dinner. We drank a lot and laughed even more. After dinner we convinced the chef to meet us out in downtown Oia to show us the nightlife of the island. We met him out and had the best time dancing the night away at a tiny (but packed) dance club in Santorini. It was my favorite day/night of the entire trip. We met so many great people and I remember dancing with and hugging an awesome couple from London. What an amazing experience.

Thursday, August 9
I was really looking forward to this day because we had planned a private boat and snorkeling cruise. This was also my husband and I’s last day before we started heading back early to attend a friend’s wedding. (The rest of the group would be continuing on to Mykonos.)

We spent the day sailing, tanning, napping, snorkeling, drinking and having an all around great time! We were also served a traditional Greek dinner while we watched the sunset. It as an amazing last day on our Greek island.

Friday, August 10
My husband and I got picked up around 5AM from our AirBnB in Santorini. Our flight back to Athens was super bright and early. We arrived in Athens around 8AM and took a cab to our hotel. We stayed at the Athens Holiday Inn and the staff was very friendly and accommodating. We were obviously way early for our 3PM check-in, but they worked hard to get us in our room by 10AM! We were very tired and relieved, so we took a two hour nap. When we woke up we were refreshed and ready to explore for a few more hours before making the trek back home. The wonderful front desk staff explained that we could catch the public bus right outside our hotel. We were a little intimidated since this was our first time trying to go somewhere by ourselves in a foreign country, but we laughed our way through it.

We rode the bus to Syntagma Square and spent a few hours walking around, eating and drinking. We stopped and strolled through the national gardens and saw the Panathenaic Stadium, which was built in the 6th century!! (Our minds were blown.) After our day we rode the bus back to our hotel and packed up everything in preparation for another early flight the next morning.

Saturday, August 11
Early that morning we arrived at the Athens airport and everything appeared to be going as planned. We were flying on Turkish Airlines and had a layover in Istanbul. It was only once we were in Turkey, trying to navigate a completely foreign airport, did we realize our flight to Chicago was delayed by over three hours — making us miss our connection from Chicago to Cleveland 😦

Now we had a terrible experience flying back from Italy two summers ago that involved the Chicago O’Hare airport. So this was just not ironic that we’d have issues around that airport again. In fact, we had joked about this happening a few times on our trip, so when it did actually happen we lost it laughing. But our laughter didn’t last long because Turkey Airlines did NOTHING to help us. We sat at the service counter for two hours trying to explain that we would miss our connecting flight and that we needed to get booked on something else. Finally they claimed their printer was broken and they couldn’t print us any boarding passes and we’d have to deal with it in O’Hare. I think they just couldn’t understand our issue, which was so frustrating and honestly kind of scary. We felt like no one really cared about us not being able to get home…

Finally we boarded the plane in Turkey. (After having to pass through the typical airport security and then again in the terminal. It was actually pretty nerve wracking thinking they were doing all this to protect us, but only because the threat was there.)

We needed alcohol ASAP once we finally boarded the plane in Turkey.

Once we landed in Chicago, we had to relive another nightmare of going through customs and running through the airport — only to be told we missed our flight!! The people working customs were ZERO help. We knew there was a plane leaving Chicago for Cleveland in 35 minutes when we landed, yet the airport workers would not move us to the front of the line. Instead we waited almost two hours and missed the last connecting flight to Cleveland for the day!

Fast forward to us trying to sprint to find an open front desk halfway across the airport, only to have to turn around and go back to customs where the only desk open was closing in 20 minutes. We were then told we would have to stay overnight and they could put us on the next flight — at 8PM the next night. Meaning we would have missed the entire wedding that we had left our trip early for. At one point I cried at the front desk (it still didn’t help our case though). The workers were rude, mean and did little to even sympathize with us. I don’t think one person even apologized! We ended up staying the night in Chicago and bought bus tickets to leave the next morning. (So we went from a 40 minute flight to a six hour bus ride that we had to spend extra money on.) We missed our friend’s wedding ceremony, but made it back for the reception, thankfully.

Having a solid and humorous marriage was crucial to those 36 hours we fought to get home! When I was down and crying, my husband would be the positive one saying it was going to be OK and vice versa when he was the one upset. We look back on the whole situation and just laugh at this point!

Who wants to bet us that the next time we travel to Europe, the third time will be the charm and we won’t have issues getting home? 🙂

Still our traveling troubles didn’t spoil the trip! It was an incredible two week adventure. We were lucky to visit three different countries with our family and make awesome memories. We are blessed!

Finally made it home to our friend’s wedding!

Race Review: Relay #7 – Burning River 100 Miler 2018

Miscellaneous, Running

On Saturday I ran as part of a relay for the Burning River 100 mile endurance run.  Believe it or not there are souls that run the whole damn thing by themselves! (I am a crazy triathlete, but DO NOT sign me up to run 100 solo miles, ever.)

There are 8 relays and I ran #7…or also known as the PARTY RELAY!! (I think I just made that up, but #7 is known for its epicness, usually because most people run it at night.)

I would be running 16.1 miles through the trails of Cuyahoga Valley National Park…but here’s the kicker…I would start around midnight. Teams have 28 hours to cover the 100 mile distance. The teams are also responsible for figuring out the logistics of getting their runners to each of the starting and ending lines. (Some people run this as a FOUR person relay oppose to eight!!)

The first relay started early and I was in a group text all day getting updates from all the runners — even the ones running! It was SO MUCH FUN!! The team was so positive and I couldn’t wait for my turn and to experience it. I had never even met my teammates in person either until race day (and never even met a few in person due to timing.) Yet another reason why I love the running and endurance community!

So much positivity and good vibes!

I didn’t end up starting my relay until 1:10AM and I finished slightly before 5AM.


Waiting to start my relay at Pine Hollows. They had a big screen playing a movie for the spectators and relay runners — so fun!! I was shocked by how many people were sitting at the relay zones/aid stations.

In a nutshell basically this race/relay was kind of my own personal nightmare, but it was also incredible. Running alone in the woods in the pitch black at night. (Think: Blair Witch Project.) I mean I saw numerous runners out there at different points, but it was not like your typical race where you are always surrounded. I would go 10 or 15 minutes without seeing ANYONE. Sometimes this freaked me out to the point where I was desperately praying to see a headlamp of another runner in front of me.

Meeting up with my teammate who ran Relay #6, Kristin.

Since I knew my relay was going to be in the middle of the night I opted for a headlamp and one of my teammates had suggested Christmas lights on my camel back. The lights were such a hit and people were wishing me a Merry Christmas and calling me a Christmas tree LOL. I’m glad I added these because at the last minute I was debating it. It not only helped runner moral, but it helped me to see!!

Let’s just talk about the darkness for a minute… Pitch black. Like to the point where my headlamp battery died (thankfully I had another with me) and when I changed it, my Christmas lights weren’t even providing me sight coverage in front of me. It was wild. We were in the middle of the freaking woods in the middle of the freaking night. I kept laughing out loud as I ran like how did I get here and what on earth am I doing?? It felt like a dream because I had tunnel vision from my headlamp illuminating the path directly ahead of me. Why would I sign up to run 16.1 of trails in the middle of the night?? But I had THE TIME OF MY LIFE YOU GUYS. So much fun!

We climbed up hillsides and rocks. Jumped over mud pits, rivers and trees. We dodged pricker bushes and rooted trails. I saw and heard people falling, but some how I managed to only trip violently, always catching myself before hitting the ground.

I met so many hilarious people who were so incredible — many who were between miles 70 and 80 of a 100 mile solo race. Some were in good spirits, some wanted to chat, some didn’t say anything and I could tell they were fighting dark mental places of despair. I tried offering encouraging words and prayed for everyone I saw. Going into this relay I had no idea just how ridiculous, amazing and CRAZY this entire race was.

This might have been crazier than even my full Ironman — we’re talking that epic. One of my friends who had run relay #7 before even went so far as to call it “spiritual” . You see the world and yourself in a whole new way. Even with the Ironman I wasn’t running in the pitch black alone, in the woods, at 3AM.

Around mile 14 I had been running alone for quite some time and was starting to climb up a giant hill. Suddenly I heard what sounded like sirens…until I heard the other “dogs” start chiming in with these “sirens” AKA howling…it was a pack of wild coyotes. And judging by how loud they were they must have been close by and it sounded like A LOT of them. I felt panic and fear in my chest and I started sprinting — looking for any sight of headlamps around me. I just wanted to be near someone else because I was so scared. I saw a faint light somewhere a head of me and ran as fast as I could to a girl slowly running the trail. (I felt like I wanted to puke from sprinting the hill), but when she saw me she looked just as scared “DID YOU HEAR THAT?” She asked me. And I explained how scared I was too. We continued on together for the next mile or so, but were were very skid-ish and jumpy. I even took out my mace! We eventually split off, but not first without making the “we’re not out of the woods yet” joke as we promised not to get eaten by coyotes. (Girl was running the 50-miler! Bad ass!)

A few times the wooded trail would open up into a field and the full moon was brilliant, casting an eerie but beautiful glow all around me. Moments like that took my breathe away as I realized just how incredible this entire experience was. I crossed over fields with fog rising and the stars were so clear and vivid. I was speechless at the beauty around me. I knew that not many people got to experience moments like that and I felt so grateful to be one of the lucky few.

Somehow I managed to make it to mile 16.1 and I met my relay exchange teammate, Cohen. She was bringing it home running the last 10 miles to the finish.

I tried to eat something before making the hour drive home, but I had no appetite. I pulled into our driveway at 6AM and felt like I was drunk, but really I was just exhausted and in awe of the entire experience.

What an epic adventure with incredible people. I love being a part of something much bigger than myself.


Race Review: Lighthouse Triathlon (Fairport Harbor) 2018


I signed up for the Lighthouse Triathlon in Fairport Harbor about a week before it. I’ve been wanting to do this race for a few years now, but I always seem to have something else the same day. This year I was able to swing it, plus it was one of the club races for Cleveland Triathlon Club.

Fairport Harbor earlier in the summer on a clear morning.

We ended up going out the night before on Saturday and I was actively watching the weather for race morning. It looked very likely to be raining when I woke up on Sunday. I figured since it was only $40 and since it was only a sprint, that if it was raining when I woke up then I would cut my loses and just skip the race. We were out until 1AM on Saturday night and when I fell asleep I figured I was more than likely skipping the race…

When I woke up at 5AM on Sunday it was 70 degrees and dry. I was a bit groggy, but I knew I would feel guilty if it wasn’t raining and I didn’t go. I had nothing packed, but got myself together enough to arrive at the beach around 6:45AM. The race was scheduled to start at 8AM. I hadn’t planned to wear my wet suit, but at the last second I grabbed it in case the water was cold due to the rain.

This is what your car looks like when you DON’T pack for a triathlon the night before and you throw everything together and hope for the best.

When I got to the beach it instantly started raining. Of course.

I tried to plaster a smile to my face and gave myself a pep talk. I was already there, no turning back now, so I made my way to packet pickup. This is such a low key triathlon that there was no body marking, nor were there numbers attached to your transition spot — it was basically first come first serve. The ankle timing chips were made out of plastic and I think I spotted only two porta-potties. It was fine though since registration was so cheap.

It started raining pretty heavily and my gear was instantly soaked in transition. I had a few plastic bags with me, which offered some assistance but not much. I was silently thanking myself for grabbing my wet suit because the wind and rain made the water quite choppy. I watched the waves nervously from shore during the pre-race briefing.

It was an age group start and my wave was at 8:15AM. We started in the water, which was pretty cold. I was racing with one of my triathlon friends, Kara, who had done this race numerous times before. She told me that because this race is really newbie friendly — which is great let me add — it just tends to make it a little more difficult for people who know what they are doing. (I.E. slow swimmers who don’t seed correctly, blocking and drafting on the bike, not getting over on the run, not setting up transition correctly, etc.) Kara told me to expect stuff like this all day, which I was thankful for because throughout the race I tried to have more patience for the athletes I saw committing these “crimes”. (This race also has a kayak option for newbies or people who want to compete but don’t want to swim.)

Got to race with my friend Kara for the first time this season!

The Swim: 12:56
The gun went off for the swim and right away I found myself in the middle of combat. In the five years I have been doing triathlon this was one of the most panic inducing swims! Newbie athletes thrashed about, hitting, kicking and pulling. No one was sighting correctly and zigged and zagged all over. Numerous swimmers were just treading water in the way. At one point I even heard a scream! It was a down and back course and when swimmers ahead of me made the turn around a buoy, they started swimming into the direction they just were and head on into other swimmers. It was mayhem. At one point I felt panic rising in my own chest as I was getting pulled down and swam over. I fought with myself  to get it under control because it was only going to be 10 minutes. I swam a little off course to be more by myself and things seemed to calm down a bit. Finally I could see the swim finish and I was relieved to hit the sand, even though it was still raining when I got out of the water.

The Bike: 45:02
I couldn’t believe that a sprint triathlon bike was only 12 miles. (I hadn’t raced a sprint distance since 2015!) It felt like nothing. By the time I got warmed up it was over. It rained off and on during the bike, but it was a flat and fast course that I had ridden before. A couple times I found myself shouting (nicely) at bikers who were riding side by side or down the very middle of the road — making it difficult or impossible to pass. There is one big hill at the very beginning and end of both the bike and run and it was very slippery because of the rain. On the way back in from the bike I could see and feel my tires slipping on the road. It was nerve wrecking!

A picture of me biking NOT in the rain.

The Run: 28:45 
By the time I reached the run I was pretty cold and I didn’t feel like running. I told myself to suck it up because it was only 3.1 miles. We ran another familiar route that I had run before. I saw a bunch of other members of Cleveland Triathlon Club and we all cheered for each other, which added some excitement. The finish line was small and uneventful but I expected it. It has been well over a year since I haven’t raced an Ironman or bigger event and I was used to pretty epic finishes. I almost forgot what these smaller races were like!

Overall: 1 hour 26 minutes
In general I feel like I would have enjoyed this race a lot more had it not been cold and raining. I also wish I had gotten a little more sleep the night before to push harder. I was happy to see teammates from Cleveland Tri Club, but happier to go home and take a warm shower. This race is an excellent newbie friendly triathlon and I will be recommending it to those looking to get into the sport!

Race Review 2018 Ironman 70.3 Muncie


Muncie, Indiana is about 4.5 hours away from Cleveland. The hubs and I left on Thursday night after work because the race was Saturday and mandatory athlete check-in was on Friday. (PS I am a big fan of Saturday races.)

The drive was pretty uneventful and we ended up checking into our hotel around midnight. The Courtyard Marriott was the main hotel for the race (about 15 minutes from the race venue) and it was buzzing with athletes even that late at night when we arrived. I felt like I was among friends seeing so many Ironman shirts and apparel!

The area around the hotel was really cute with older charming buildings, but we were a little surprised to see how round down the area was once you got outside this little part.

We slept in on Friday morning and then got up and walked around as we tried to find a coffee place. It was going to be brutally hot all weekend and by 9AM it was already nearing 80 degrees. I had gathered most of my stuff the night before so we headed to athlete check-in and optional bike check-in — which I opted for because why wouldn’t you? One less thing to remember on race day! Muncie was my third Half Ironman distance, but the only race so far to have one transition, which made things A LOT easier and quicker in terms of packing and check-in.

We attended the athlete briefing and they said that wet suits were probably going to be banned during the race because of high water temps. Sounds good to me, I thought. I was SO calm and chill about everything. We were in and out within an hour of entering athlete village and bike drop off. (Flash back to my first Half Ironman distance where I practically lost my damn mind because wet suits were going to be illegal and I was so stressed I couldn’t sleep and probably packed and repacked like 87 times.) Big difference once you get used to a distance!

We left athlete village around noon and had the entire day to spare. My husband’s college fraternity’s national headquarters were located about an hour away in Indianapolis, so we drove there for a mini day trip. It was SUPER hot and we were sweating walking around the city, but we had such a fun time exploring together. We both had never been to Indianapolis before!

Discovered a cute little park in downtown Indianapolis.

We got back to the hotel around 6PM that night and things starting setting in for me. I wasn’t really nervous so to say…maybe a little anxious I guess. The distance just started to get real as the starting line got closer. I laid everything out for the morning and we went down to the restaurant at our hotel for dinner. I had a big old salad with water, while the hubs enjoyed wings and beer. That night I fell asleep easily around 10PM and woke up a little before my alarm at 3:30AM. It was race day!!

The hotel was buzzing as we walked out to our car that morning. We were not staying that night so it was a little difficult to pack up the hotel room and be out the door by 4:30AM! We had heard that traffic could get pretty backed up heading into the race venue (there is one main road leading in), but we had no issue and parked pretty close. It was now 5:15AM and we had a lot of time to spare until the 7AM start time.

I set up my transition and there was excitement in the air. I made small talk with a few of the girls around me and I felt happy and grateful to be there in that moment. Slowly the hubs and I made our way down to the beach (sans wet suit, although a few people opted to be in the “party wave” at the back and wear one.)

The real MVP of the entire weekend and race. My husband is a great sherpa! Here he waits for me to use the bathroom for like the 5th time before the swim LOLLL

I warmed up a little in the water and the announcers started calling for people to line up for the swim start. I guess this was the first year that Muncie opted for a rolling start — meaning swimmers seed themselves with their estimated finish times. It was really packed when I started to get in line and I pushed through the crowds to try to get to the 40-45 minute coral, but I wasn’t really successful. Somehow I was back at the 60 minute time and I seriously could not make my way any further in without looking like a real A-hole and pushing people.

A beautiful morning for a Half Ironman!

So Lake Placid 2017 was also a self seeded start (I feel like most larger races are starting to go this route), and there were probably 3,000 racers there and I was in the water 7 or 8 minutes after the gun went off. No BS and no messing around. I loved it. However with Muncie…the gun went off at 7AM and I didn’t hit the water until 7:38. I was pretty annoyed by the time I got up to the start. They had gated the start off to only allow 5 swimmers to enter the water every 10 seconds. It took FOREVER and all the swimmers were sandwiched into this this tiny fenced in area. Everyone was practically naked, wet and hot…it was not good you guys.

FINALLY I started my race. The past couple bigger races I’ve done I’ve LOVED the swim and Muncie was the same! This is just a strange concept for me because I hate swimming LOL, but when I hit the open water, everything is great. I always feel so lucky and blessed to be out there. I feel like I always spend the majority of my swim talking to God because it’s just me and my thoughts and it’s vaguely quiet.

[Swim Time: 47:22]
I was thinking I’d finish around 43-44 minutes and felt like I was really pushing for a faster time, but I guess not! Overall I was fine with this time.

[Transition 1: 6:21]
Believe it or not this was one of my faster T1’s haha!

I was still slightly concerned over getting a flat tire when I started the bike, but that’s because I had a bad experience the week before during my last training ride. The bike was exciting for the first 10 miles or so, but when I settled in on the two loop main course I started to get a little bored. I have one word to describe the bike course — corn fields. It was HOT and there was no shade (which was expected, but still). I saw quite a few people with mechanical issues, but saw 5 or 6 different SAGs and felt rest assured. I also saw a few wheel chair athletes and at one point a tandem with a blind athlete, which was really awesome and I cheered.

I thought I was pushing it pretty good with my pace, but was disappointed with my bike time. I was glad it was over though. It’s funny how I loved the bike at Lake Placid, but couldn’t wait to be done with the bike at Muncie.

[Bike Time: 3:09]
I was REALLY hoping to be around 3 hours or even below, but that just wasn’t happening with the heat.

[Transition 2: 4:23]

I saw the husband when I got off the bike and when I started the run. I felt bad knowing he was walking around by himself for 6+ hours in 95 degrees (and he HATES the heat). He is incredible and I know how lucky I am to have him.

Happy to be off the bike.

The first few miles of the run started off good. The elites were just finishing up as I was starting and I cheered them in. The first two miles of any brick are always my fastest and at mile 3 I stopped to get water and fuel. I slightly had to pee, but my strategy was to make up good time on the run and finish around 2 hours… WRONG lol. It ended up being my worst Half Ironman run. It.was.so.damn.hot!!

The run had no shade, was basically in the middle of corn fields, had very little crowd support and was all on black concrete where I could see the heat waves rising up before me. People were pouring water on their heads and running with cold towels and sponges tucked into their shirts. I knew it was crucial to get liquids at every aid station if I wanted to finish strong. I didn’t even end up peeing during the run which tells me just how dehydrated I already was going in. I took my typical walk/run strategy. I picked out a landmark and told myself to run to it and then sometimes I’d pick another point to walk until or I’d count down from 5 to start running again. I was really missing music during this portion of the race because I was bored and honestly kept asking myself “Why am I doing this again??” But Ironman has a funny way of making you forget all about the pain when you reach that last mile…

The last part of the run before you hit the finish line area is a big ‘ole hill. It was lined with screaming people when I approached it and I knew that I was going to run it, but I also knew it was going to hurt. The crowd was going wild, which took my mind off my burning quads and tired body. People were on both sides yelling and high-fiving the runners. Different groups blasted music as the runners danced by. I could hear the finish line announcer and I felt that old familiar flame of PURE JOY set in.

The finish line of any long course race is always bitter sweet. You body is aching…your heart is exploding as for just a minute you are a rock star…you are scanning the crowd for your loved ones and your heart is swelling by the sheer fact that you are lucky enough to be there in this moment…you are blessed and able when some can’t and you feel so grateful to experience this…and then you hear your name and a medal is placed around your neck and you are whisked away and suddenly it’s all over. A searing moment burned into your memory more potent than the pain that you felt all day…

And THAT’S how Ironman hooks ya to keep coming back for more…

[Run Time: 2:22]
[Total Finishing Time: 6:30]

After the finish line I found my trooper husband and we got some post-race food (read: I got the food, but he ate it because I had ZERO appetite.) Then we decided to take a dip in the lake since we had both been sweating and in the sun all day. After our swim we showered and changed in the beach bathrooms and slowly made our way out of athlete village. We packed up and by 3PM we were on our way back to Cleveland. I thought I was going to nap a little in the car, but I never did. We arrived home around 8PM and stopped to get food because I was STARVING. But I could only manage a few bites and half a beer. Basically I needed to sleep ASAP. We got home and I fell into bed and slept for 12 hours 🙂 What a fun little weekend!


Overall I had a blast traveling to a new race in a different state. The swim was a blast. The bike was decent but pretty boring. And the run was not tough in terms of the course, but tough in terms of the heat and how boring it was. It wasn’t the time I had hoped for, but every day is different and I was happy to have pushed through for a finish.I probably wouldn’t recommend this race because multiple times I thought the race kind of felt like a local tri instead of an Ironman 70.3 experience. I am happy to have experienced it, but also kind of happy it’s over!


Training Recap & The Taper


T-minus four days until Ironman 70.3 Muncie! I am finally getting that pre-race feel and I can’t wait to be at an Ironman venue and feel the excitement of athlete village.

This was my third time training for the Half Ironman distance and I feel decent about my training. There was definitely more that I could have done, but I still feel like I had a life these past 16 weeks.

Here’s how I feel training went compared to past races:

  • Ironman 70.3 Ohio, 2016 – 95%
  • 70.3 Great Western Reserve, 2017 – 100% (because it was encompassed with Lake Placid training)
  • Ironman Lake Placid, 2017 – 120%
  • Ironman 70.3 Muncie, 2018 – 80%

This summer I was able to do trail runs, play in a volleyball league, take weekend trips, take more casual long rides, go camping, drink with friends, enjoy Memorial Day and 4th of July and in general enjoy life more than just being consumed with training and afraid of injury. So as I come out on the other side of  these past 16 weeks, I am feeling good about my training volume and still happy about how summer 2018 has gone so far! The true test will now be on race day 🙂

Week 13
Total Mileage: 83 miles
Total Time: 8:21
Calories Burned: 4,984

I ran the Hill Yeah Half Marathon in Week 13. I ran this race back in 2014, but I think I blacked out how tough the course was. A good chunk of the run is on trails and oh ya — it’s VERY hilly!

Week 14
Total Mileage: 59 miles
Total Time: 6:05
Calories Burned:3,589

I trained for 26 weeks for Ironman Lake Placid, biking well over 2,500 miles. Finally in Week 14 of training for my third Half Ironman…it finally happened. I finally got a flat tire.

I could feel something wrong with my back tire right after I had gone down a hill on my long ride that week. I pulled off to the side and discovered my entire back tire was flat. A small part of me was actually thinking “OK this is fine. I feel up to it and I can totally do this by myself. This will be great practice.” 45 minutes later my fingers were cramping and sore from trying to get the tire back on the rim, sweat was dripping down my back because it was 95 degrees out and I was covered in grease and grass. I thought I would be done and back on my ride in about 20 minutes, so it was much longer than anticipated. As the minutes ticked by I could feel myself getting more agitated. After I finally got the tire back on the rim, I attempted to inflate the tire with two CO2 cartridges, but to my horror, one malfunctioned and the second wouldn’t allow the air to go into the tire for some reason. (I later figured it was probably a pinched flat.)

Panic slowly began to seep in thinking about what would happen if this happened at Ironman 70.3 Muncie. At one point I felt tears starting to well up in my eyes. Finally after dropping the F-bomb quite a few times and tossing my bike in anger and it cutting my shin (oops) …I broke down and called my husband to come get me. 25 minutes later I sat in the passenger seat stewing in my anger. THANK GOODNESS for my God-sent husband who dropped everything he was doing to come pick me up and then let me lash out at anything and everything for the 15-minute drive back home. To put it lightly — I was PISSED. I was mad at my bike, mad at the CO2 cartridges, mad at the pinched flat tire, mad at myself, mad at how dirty and sweaty I was, mad at the wasted time, mad that I had only gotten in 16 miles in what should have been my last long ride…mad at the universe basically.

The next day I dropped my bike off at the shop for them to deal with the tire and for a tune up that I desperately needed. I re-bought cartridges and a new tube and will hope for the best this weekend! My plan for the race is basically to not get a flat tire *shrugs*

Week 15
Total Mileage: 62 miles
Total Time: 6:13
Calories Burned: 3,422

Last weekend we were able to do a quick camping trip and I still got in decent workouts both Saturday and Sunday. That’s the beauty of Half Ironman training and taper!

My last long ride was just 25 miles and I was happy to report no flat! My bike actually ran great because of the tune up. I think I’ll be just fine 🙂

It has been another great journey to 70.3. I am looking forward to spending the weekend with my husband, traveling to a new state, meeting new and old friends and having a great race and experience. These are the memories that last a lifetime and I am grateful and lucky to get to do this. I LOVE everything about Ironman!

Ironman 70.3 Training Update


Life is GOOD!

Training is good. Work is good. The house is good. My family is good. The weather…has been decent. Some rainy spouts here and there, but enough that I’m outside the majority of the time. I pretty much never want to get back on my bike trainer ever again.

Summer is here — like it’s happening right now! It makes me so, so, SO happy!! Every chance to see the sunrise is a beautiful thing and I’ve been feeling really lucky and grateful to be able to wake up and train.

Week 10
Miles: 95.6
Time: 9:52 hours
Calories Burned: 4,902

Week 11
Miles: 77.5
Time: 9:11 hours
Calories Burned: 4,441

Week 12
Miles: 103.6
Time: 9:27 hours
Calories Burned: 5,093

I’ve gotten in some solid long rides on the weekend, ranging from 40 to 56 miles. My “long runs” each week are typically between 8-10 miles. I do have a Half Marathon this weekend that I’m really looking forward to because the last time I truly raced a half was in 2016!

I love the balance I have right now. Sure it might still seem crazy to other people, but to me it’s perfection. I get to train and work hard and also find time to enjoy life and take it easy from time to time.

I even counted one of my weekly long runs as a slower trail run — and I had the best time ever!! Last summer I would have been too worried about training quality, pace, mileage and injury to even consider doing a trail run.

I also did my first Open Water Swim (OWS) since Lake Placid a few weeks back! Just being in my wet suit was getting me pumped up to race again. I stayed cool, calm and collected and was able to get in just over a mile. I still hate swimming — but an OWS beats staring at the black line any day.

Muncie 70.3 bib numbers were released (I’m #429) and I’m getting so excited for the race! Can’t wait to get back out there and just feel the excitement of being in athlete village again. T-minus 23 days! CHEERS!

Training & Yardwork


Weeks 8 and 9 snuck up quick, but I was glad to see them. For some reason I really wanted to be in the second phase of training (weeks 10-16).

It feels like my husband and I have been working like dogs every weekend and most weeknights on our house and yard. We moved in mid-summer last year and it was pretty much too late to do anything before the fall, so we knew we were going to have to work hard this spring. Thankfully, we are jussssst about done and can now enjoy the fruits of our labor the rest of summer! But dang April and May were filled to the brim with landscaping, seeding, cleaning, gardening, digging, pulling out bushes, planting trees, 87 trips to Lowe’s and so much more.

I am most relieved that we got our deck stained because it needed it BAD. We watched the weather like hawks since we needed 3 solid days of no rain before and after. We had a big Memorial Day party so the pressure was on to get the deck and yard ready. We ended up staining the deck in one full night after work, but we were out there until 11:15PM! I couldn’t help but wonder how people maintain bigger houses and yards and still train for a full Ironman…like how would that possibly work?? I got up the next day at 5AM and thankfully only had an hour ride, but it was still brutal. It was a blessing in disguise that we still lived in the apartment when I was training for Lake Placid! All of the housework and yard work has left me pretty tired, but I’ve still managed to be pretty good about training. I’m struggling a bit on my log rides and runs. I don’t find it necessary to ride for 4 hours while training for a Half Ironman and I’ve already run 13+ miles as my long run. And the crazy thing is — I’m following the intermediate plan, not even the competitive. The good thing here is that I know my body and I know the distance. I know the training volumes I need to be able to compete well, which is just a few key weekends between now and July 14. Nothing to worry about except having fun! (And then relaxing on our awesome deck and see our beautiful yard!)

My old hand-me-down and tiny (read: crappy) treadmill broke at the end of week 7. (I can’t complain because it was free, but damn it I really hated that thing.) I was able to replace it fairly quick thanks to my husband who found a decently priced one on the app, Let Go.

It feels great to finally have a good treadmill!! It’s something I’ve dreamed about for seriously the past 10 years — not even joking.

My home gym in the basement is finally complete!

Week 8
Total Mileage: 94.4
Total Time: 10:19
Total Time Spent on Yard Work / House Work: 3643634634

Week 9
Total Mileage: 78.9
Total Time: 8:20

CHEERS to phase 2 of training!

Ironman Muncie 70.3 Training (Weeks 4, 5, 6, 7)


Weeks 4, 5, 6 and 7 are done and dusted and I feel good in terms of where I’m at training wise. I am back to the familiar feeling of racing the clock every morning and on most weekends. Hurry up and train and then hurry up and get ready while you’re exhausted, then try to make it on time to the next event!

I do admit that there’s been a few times where I’ve thought “Why did I sign up for this again?” But I can spot the difference between this time last year and training right now. I have such a better training / life balance and I don’t feel 100% consumed like last year. (Only like 75% consumed LOL)

Week 4
Total Distance: 72 miles
Total Time: 8:20

So I’m kind of in disagreement with the long rides and runs in this training plan so far. I understand and completely trust the Be Iron Fit program, but personally I feel the time commitment is jumping way too drastically for a Half Ironman.

I’ve been cutting my long rides short by about 15 or 20 minutes each week. I do speed intervals (long and short) every time I’m on the trainer, so I don’t think I need to ride long just to ride long at this point. BUT this is the beauty of self coaching and only training for a Half Ironman! I know I’m in good shape and I know the distance, so I can trust my body and train accordingly.

All pink everything.

Week 5
Total Distance: 75 miles
Total Time: 8:10

Week 6
Total Distance: 81 miles
Total Time: 9:13

The long ride called for 3:15 in week 6…ya don’t put me down for that. My ride was 2:30 (35 miles) and I felt like a million bucks running afterwards. I didn’t find it necessary to ride for that long in only week 6!! This was also the first week I opted for doing my long ride during the week instead of Saturday morning. I had lots of weekend plans and I needed to do a shorter Saturday workout, so I moved stuff around accordingly. *Que my old Ironman familiar friend — the 4AM workout.

My bike set up for long rides — lots of Netflix to keep me occupied!

Week 7
Total Distance: 94 miles
Total Time: 9:13

My long ride in week 7 was 42 miles followed by a 2 mile run. My long run was 12 miles, which included tripping and launching myself forward and catching myself with my index finger! (The sidewalks around our house are TERRIBLE.) Regardless I felt good after both long workouts.

Only one week left in this first phase! CHEERS!

Ironman 70.3 Muncie Training (Weeks 1, 2, 3)


Week 1 of training went off without a hitch. Nothing crazy, nothing really to report — I guess that’s a good sign, right?

Even my first time back in the pool in almost 9 months went pretty smooth! (If you don’t already know, I really dislike swimming!)

One think I’ll point out though, is that I would like to better incorporate cross training (i.e. circuits, conditioning) and strength training into my plan. I really struggled with this during training for Lake Placid. There’s so much swimming, biking and running to do that it’s hard to carve out extra time for lifting and circuit work. But I feel like I made so much progress in the off-season that I don’t want to lose muscle and waste all my hard work! I will try harder with this.

Week 1
Total Distance: 60 miles
Total Time: 6:24
Training Plan Time Goal: 6 hours [Goal Met!]

Week 2
Total Distance: 63 miles
Total Time: 7:27
Training Plan Time Goal: 6:45 [Goal Met!]

I was back to my old pool stomping grounds in week 2. I ended up just buying a membership to the local YMCA that I used for the majority of Lake Placid training. It was odd being back in the locker room and back in the pool. I remember my very last swim before Lake Placid in the very same pool. It was a weird feeling being back (as an Ironman!!) and as training for a new race!

You know it’s strange not being totally and completely obsessed with training this year. Not every single thing I do anymore revolves around training, which makes me feel both sad and relieved. The weight of Ironman training is HUGE and part of me misses it and part of me feels thankful to have a life outside of training. 70.3 is a much better distance for training/life balance, but I really did love the fire of training for 140.6. Does that make any sense?!

I think as the weather warms up and training hits around 8 hours a week, I will feel a little more connected to it. Right now I’m still enjoying being able to eat whatever, drink whatever, still go out and still get all my training in! With Ironman training I didn’t touch a drop of alcohol for almost 7 months straight. Eeeek!! (I also think my husband is relieved by this new training/life balance thing I’ve found! LOL)

My long ride in Week 2 was for 1 hour and 45 minutes and after going out the night before, I set my expectations low. It wasn’t terrible, just slower than normal, which I was ok with…THAT is the balance I so craved in 2017, but it was also the passion that fueled one of the greatest years of my life… *sigh* It may always be a battle with moderation for me, but I’m alright with that considering I could be fighting a worse battle.

Week 3
Total Distance: 70 miles
Total Time: 7:42
Training Plan Time Goal: 7:30 [Goal Met!]

FinalSurge Training Overview of Week 3

I was really disappointed to find out that my favorite training app, Addaero, will no longer exist as of May 1! They recommended a new app, Final Surge, as the replacement. I tested it out in Week 3 and I guess it will work, but I really liked Addaero, plus it’s what I used to track Ironman 70.3 Ohio and Ironman Lake Placid training.

Week 3 had a long run on the schedule that was 1 hour 30 minutes. I am trying my best to complete all my training Monday-Saturday so that I have Sunday free to do whatever. I woke up at 4:45AM on Friday to get my long run in before an 8:30AM meeting. I don’t know what happened, but somehow everything during my run just…clicked.  It was vaguely warm out (about 50 — but hey that’s good for April in Northeast Ohio!) My music was on point. There was super light traffic. I even saw a skunk AND an opossum and didn’t get startled/shook up! The run itself felt easy and I felt strong. I looked down to see most of my miles between 9:20 and 9:30. Then the more I ran the faster I got! When I had about 30 minutes left I started averaging 9:15 miles. My very last mile was 9:08 and I felt like a million bucks!! [Ended the run with a 9:22 average]

Those are the runs that make you stop and really appreciate this sport. It gives me hope for a sub 6-hour half Ironman! All those winter sprints on the treadmill paid off!

CHEERS to a great first three weeks of training!