What the hell is Ditch the Tiara?

Redefining the word beautiful...one dirty, sweaty, bruised up mile at a time, with a few downward dogs along the way...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

17 hours.

Ironman Texas is in 31 days. and I haven't run in 31 days. Thinking back, since December 1997, this is the longest period in my running career (16 years to be exact) in which I haven't run, not even a mile. When I stumbled over a rock on a pre-dawn run on the morning of March 3rd, I had no idea the damage that little stone would cause. I tried to hobble and tough it out for the two weeks that followed, but there came a moment when I had to scream *UNCLE* It wasn't like me to not be able to grit my way through the pain, but this was different. I knew something was seriously wrong and the MRI results confirmed that. My left hamstring had retracted 15mm. In laymen's terms, the muscle had torn away from the bone over 1/2". I also have severe tendinitis, as well as bursitis near my sits bone. Fortunately, my pity party was pretty short lived once I was told that I could still swim, bike and W A L K. if I wanted... Whuuuh?  If I wanted?  GAME. ON. The doctor may have said something like, "You can race in Texas but you will have to walk the marathon." But all I heard was, "Go all out and hammer away on the bike...pedal after your dream time-goal with no consequences!" I figure I'm walking anyways and god knows I can do THAT all day long (remember my 28 days of walking after rhinoplasty/septoplasty repair in 2011?!) The way I see it, I have no reason to leave any gas in the tank. I do it. all. the. time in my Jeep and still get from point A to point B, so what's the difference? I am still racing Ironman Texas and am so psyched!

I'm already at that place in training where I start to visualize that  day and get all choked up. 29 weeks of grueling sacrifice behind me...less than 5 to go. I'm. so. close! Daydreaming about getting to the 'run' gives me goosebumps, as I think about how much it won't hurt, you know, in the traditional Ironman sense of the word. I'll have more time to take *it* all in too, if that's even possible for me. The run is my favorite part of Ironman, as I have so much fun chatting with the volunteers, bantering with the spectators and encouraging my fellow athletes on, aka to HTFU! I've settled into the idea that I'm looking at a 7 hour marathon. Is it going to suck a little bit you ask? FUCK YEAH IT IS... It's 140.6 miles-in Texas-in May. DER. That's a long way to go in hot, humid and all around disgusting weather. But seriously...who cares?! I'll be doing an Ironman, dedicating every mile to my cousin Paul. He is marrying the love of his life right around the time when I'll be finishing up my ride - hopefully! How awesome is that? Of course I'm sad I'm missing their big day, BUT I'll be thinking about them, and all that love, the whole time.  (Hell, I'm going to be looking for my own husband the entire day...the odds will definitely be in my favor!)

All joking aside, I used to think that 17 hours was puhhhhhh-leeeeeeenty of time to finish an Ironman, but between Coeur d'Alene and this injury, I have been very humbled into realizing that 17 hours may not be enough, no matter how bad you want it. But believe me, I want it bad....  

Friday, March 28, 2014

things I love. the 2014 edition!

I am fairly certain that I skipped things I love in 2013 because quite frankly, the list would have been pretty damn short.  In a nutshell what I loved most about 2013 was that it came to end.  2014, however, has started off on a much higher note and continues to keep me grinning from ear to ear.  The sun doesn't always shine in my  world, I have plenty of rainy days.  But I'm beginning to see the new growth and life that comes from all the rain. So from the bottom of my sunny, warm heart, these are the things that spring me out of bed every morning, with a smile so big it hurts my cheeks...
my family.  Myrcenary IPA. my very pink tri bike.  horsing around with, and hugging my nieces. glittery nail polish. dangly earrings. 4 inch black stilettos. my roommates (Fletchie and Brownie too!) white chocolate chips. writing. kissing. haunted houses. my best girls (you know who you are!) fleece socks. Betty Designs. ponytails. messy faux hawks. 303triathlon. blue eyes. my aesthetician. sunday rides with my training partners. Earthquake Cabernet. late winter sunrises. emoticons. my co-workers. sushi. miniature chairs. open roads. flat rimmed trucker hats. my geisha tattoo. headbands. John Snow. Spotify. salted caramel mocha coffee creamer. Honeystinger lemon waffles. nicknames. corn tortilla chips. family vacations. buffalo ranch dressing. label makers. sunshine. mittens. fluffy pillows. my furry babies, from afar. aero. challenges. fresh air. window seats. compliments. serendipity. bursting bubbles. PIZZA! baby steps. first dates. VS Bombshell perfume. skinny jeans. my white Jeep. rainbow chard. Mod Market. leather seats. windy nights. sleeping. butt warmers. yoga pants. pink highlighters. slow motion video. my parent's decision to move here this year. photo editor. group texts with my family. determination. inspirational quotes. my boss. sarcasm. egg white omelettes.  Deer Creek canyon. too big for your face sunglasses. goat cheese. the thought of falling in love. my best guys (you know who you are too!) making fun of #hashtags. pedicures. cards against humanity. doomsday movies. cilantro. and pretty much everything else in my life.  

Friday, March 7, 2014

Don't quit your day dream.

For as long as I can remember, I have always been a *nerdy* little bookworm, enjoying my ability to get lost in a writer's alternative universe. There was a point in time that I was devouring a book a week, sometimes two, as I just couldn't get enough.  At times, I craved the escape from the chaos of my world, especially when life felt beyond bearable. Gifted with the ability to dream in high def and abundant color, it made reading effortless as I was able to form vivid depictions of the characters and their lives, often times beyond what the writer was wanting or willing to share with the reader.  Even now, I find myself relating to the character's emotions, most often feeling their pain and absorbing their immense joy, as if it were my own. It was only natural that at some point, I would want to jump (eyes closed, head first of course!) into the realm of writing for my own pleasure.  I would daydream about finding a way to translate my billowing thoughts into words, in that same high def and abundant color,  that would put the reader at ease and eager to travel with me on my "adventures."
When I began blogging in 2008, it began as a diary of my journey towards Ironman in the physical sense.  I shared my trials and tribulations of training and gradually began to incorporate my feelings and emotions associated with the ever increasing volume of swimming, biking and running.  At some point in 2011, Ditch the Tiara evolved as I developed an immense desire to share my successes and struggles in my personal life, and less of my triathlon life.  I felt established as an "Ironman" but was on rocky ground with who I was becoming and the loss of identity I began to encounter. Somewhere along the way, the day dream resurrected itself.  I wanted to be a writer...a *real* writer...more than ever. I even began writing a book.  I have it tucked away and maybe one day I'll explore it on a grander scale.  I have always found such deep satisfaction in blogging but recently the need for more appeared. And so on a whim, I contacted a former triathlon teammate who just happens to be the Partner and Editor of one of the most popular triathlon websites in the world (OK, maybe the US... alright, alright Colorado...for now!)  I told Dana that I was thinking about writing something different and wondered if she'd be interested in seeing it.  Before I knew it, we were talking about my own column and I am so proud and humbled to announce the birth of mywriting career.  My *real* writing career.

I invite you to visit 303triathlon and discover all things wonderful about triathlon and the 303's love and passion for this amazing sport.  I'd like to introduce you to my alter ego, the The Iron Tiara.  I hope you enjoy reading her high def and abundantly colorful thoughts about all things triathlon (and beyond) as much as she loves writing about them.  If there is one thing that I have learned in life is that you should never quit your day dream, ever. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

My 2014 race season is going to be amazing!

There are so, so, so many reasons I am so flipping excited for the 2014 race season.  I don't even know where to begin but I'll try (ok, that's a huge lie as it's not hard at all!)
...I am honored and humbled to announce that Kristin Mayer, Founder and elite designer of Betty Designs, has graciously chosen me to be a part of TEAM BETTY and is my 2014 *sponsor*
...hands-down the most wicked, insanely cool / functional apparel and gear company on the planet
...an amazing group of women that have been chosen to proudly represent said cool apparel
<<< check out Betty Designs >>> email me for a special $ treat $  so that you can order more, as you won't be able to get "just one thing!!" Go to the "About Me" section to shoot me a message 
...I am going to be rocking my sick Betty Designs racing kit
...is my first race of the season and is only 85 days away.  85!!!
...I am going to be racing with some incredibly amazing bad-ass friends: Dan, Mary, Colin, Steve,  Andree, Heidi, Kelly, Brittany, Kimberly Kae :) and I know I am forgetting someone (sorry!)  Do you have ANY idea how many sweaty high fives and hugs that will be on the run course?!?
...it is going to be HOT and HUMID and that's my favorite IM weather  
...one of my bestest friends just might, maybe, hopefully will be there to cheer me on!
...I am going to be rocking my sick Betty Designs racing kit
...is only 163 days away
...I am going to be racing with even more incredibly amazing athletes - and yes, I checked out the Participant list - and estimate that I will be out on the course with at least 36 people that I know personally...and then the amount of spectators that I will also know is pretty ridiculous (and hopefully my ENTIRE immediate family will be there // hint, hint Michelle and Bobby // )
... 303triathlon is going to be documenting my entire race day, including a photographer that will be following me throughout the race, for reasons to be later disclosed -- and if you haven't been to their website yet, CHECK IT OUT BECAUSE IT ROCKS!
...it is going to be HOT and that's my favorite IM weather
...I am going to be rocking my sick Betty Designs racing kit
4. REDMAN FULL (140.6)
...is only 194 days away
...I am going to be racing with 2 incredibly strong women who will be doing their first 140.6 and I am honored to bear witness to that as I race alongside them
...it is going to be HOT and HUMID and that's my favorite IM weather
...I am going to be rocking my sick Betty Designs racing kit

...and of course there are 1 million other reasons I am so excited but I won't bore you with those!  Yes indeed, my 2014 race season is going to be fucking amazing!!!!!!!!

((( the bubble )))

For the first time since I began my obsession with Ironman 6 years ago, I was finally able to do something  entirely out of character. I'm actually shocked that I not only recognized, but seized an opportunity to push myself so FAR out of my comfort zone.  It was the kind of shove I needed in order to take a long, healthy, overdue break from an overly-obsessive regimented way of living...also known as "my life."

The scenario: I'm knee deep in IMTX training...it feels like I never really stopped after Louisville, I mean it's not like I had anything else going on.  I wasn't sore or hurting (I already know what you all are thinking!) so why sit around and do nothing (aka REST.) Anyways, I'm an over-achiever by default and I suck at chillin' out. BUT by now you probably already know that. The thing is, I would normally never, ever, EVER even think about taking a trip or consider going on a vacation that would interrupt my (self-imposed) faux-Pro disciplined training schedule (seriously - who the hell do I think I am?!  It's not like I'm getting paid to do this shit!!!) And then about 3 weeks ago, I received an email from one of *the Aunts* - a Carnival Cruise Line employee. She was offered the chance to extend screaming cheap deals on cruises to her family. She let us know that she and UR were thinking about a 4 day Mexican Riviera trip. Hm. I started to entertain the thought, quickly deducing how many days my training schedule would be out of whack. Unlike a 'normal' person, I immediately went to the ship's website to research my work-out/training options onboard. I didn't think about cost or requesting vacation time or RELAXING. My co-worker/cubie-mate/friend was encouraging me to go. She's fully aware and overly immersed in my Ironman insanity and ridiculous trials and tribulations of my (non-existent) love and social life by default of proximity. (sorry LD -xo) I'm either highly entertaining or grossly annoying her at any given moment. But...she is sweet and patient and genuinely wants to see me happy... Sooooo, out of respect for her (I mean, she deserves it, right?) I emailed my Aunt back and said I was ... {GULP} ... interested in the four day cruise ... and immediately thought, "Holy crap- what have I done?"

You know what I did? -- the moment I hit "SEND" -- I took a blind leap of faith, fully armed with serious conviction and a giant safety pin, said a quick prayer and swung hard...my aim was dead on...and I finally burst ((( the bubble )))

((( the bubble ))) as defined by me:
/T͟Hē ˈbəbəl/ noun
the massive, protective force field built out of ignorance and fear,  that I have diligently constructed around my entire life, and more specifically my heart,  for the past 6 years, as a means to protect myself from being disappointed and deeply hurt by others, which has since isolated me from reality, fortunate situations and genuine happiness.
"I've been living in the bubble for way too long."

... and so 3 weeks later, my crazy-stubborn-self~disciplined-ignorant-overly-hard-working-creature-of-habit-stunted-social-life-ass went on not a four, but a SEVEN DAY cruise to the Mexican Riviera -- Puerto Vallarta and Cabo -- yes, please and thank you! It had been 9 years since I spent 10 consecutive days away from routines and responsibilities. Maybe it's time? You know, for genuine happiness to come from real life experiences and not IM accomplishments? (thank you A&C aka "the kids", C.D. and J.K. for relentlessly telling me that I deserve so much more from life, my life!) A little ocean time and a lot of sunshine goes a long way to a girl like me...bubbles be damned! Would I do this again though, go on a 7 day cruise?  Hm. How many bottles of wine can we bring onboard next time???  Let's just take it one bubble-bursting step at a time... 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Jack in the box

Where are my words???  they're here.  somewhere.  but all I can think to say is... "I should be writing...I want to be writing...why am I not writing?" I have thoughts, so many beautiful, colorful thoughts, swirling about my never quiet head... but they're not ready to leave the comfort of my mind I guess. I can articulate this though...2013 fucking sucked.  and 2014 is going to be better.  It HAS to be better.  It WILL be better.  I am going to make it better.  I have some pretty incredible people in my life now, I mean they're really, truly amazing.  They genuinely care for my well-being...they don't judge or criticize me...they make me think, they make me smile, they accept me for who I am - exactly AS I am! and they make me want to seek out the coveted "balance" in life that I so lack.  I don't have balance.  haven't had it in years... I work my ass off during the day. I train so hard before and after work - I am relentless and dedicated and disciplined.  Sadly, I say no to more happy hour invitations than I (deep down) want to.  I am, for a lack of a better word, afraid to date. I am just so sick of being hurt and disappointed - not in the person, but in the lack of compatibility.  I'm such a different person now and I am very "specific" in what I'm looking for and willing to compromise. A few people have peaked my interest but I SUCK at letting fate run its course! always have. So I won't take that chance.  I feel a little pathetic really. So for now, I keep a routine.  It helps me stay focused.  relaxed.  comforted.  I really want to get out of this box though. You know that expression, "think outside of the box."  Well, I can't think about it or I will self-sabotage myself.  I just need to jump the fuck out of the box. Like Jack.  I just need to wind myself up fast, listen to that psychotic music and just JUMP.  Who knows what will happen.  but I can tell you this, it will be a hell of a lot more exciting than life as I currently know it. Maybe it will be more fulfilling.  maybe I will let my guard down to let "someone" in. maybe I will get hurt.  BUT... maybe I will realize that my life is pretty amazing just as it is but that it's ok to slow down every now and again. oh yeah, that balance thing...just. maybe.........  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Ironman Louisville...the race and the city that mended a broken heart - twice.

August 26th, 2012...my first Ironman as Kristina Jensen.  The after-effects of the divorce were devastating... and this day was truly the first time that I felt like "myself" again...but new and so much more improved.  And then 10 months later, after my heart-breaking DNF in Coeur d'Alene, I was determined more than ever to return to Louisville to take care of unfinished business...and that I did. 

August 25th, 2013...after 62 days of mending both my physical and emotional state, I woke up after about 3 hours of sleep, feeling sluggish and somewhat less enthusiastic as I typically would be on the morning of Ironman.  There was something different about this day...perhaps it was the DNF lurking in the back of my mind, taunting me every chance it had.  My nerves were setting in...actually more like settling in and it wouldn't be until mile 114.4 that they would dissipate for good.

My lil' Pip dropped me off in the wee hours of the dark morning so I could check on my bike, drop off my special needs bags and somberly make my way to the swim start.  IMKY is a time trial start and so we have to line up, single file, and wait.  and wait.  and wait.  and I was cold.  teeth chattering cold.  Panic set in as the sun rose. regardless of my amazing support crew and their encouragement and kind words, I was getting sick to my stomach... DREADING getting into the Ohio River even though it was 83 degrees.  warm, downright hot by most triathlete's standards.  but not mine...I wished it was 93 degrees.  My body wasn't "right" after IMCdA.


Lil' Pip

I finally jumped into the Ohio River about 7:30am (30 minutes after the swim start) and off I went...I was struggling to get into a rhythm and got so far right that I was fighting the current from an angle.  I stopped a few times and eventually, I was swimming alone. literally.  I had gotten so far behind the masses that I could no longer see the age groupers. and all I could think about was what happened 62 days earlier. I had 2 hours and 20 minutes to finish this swim.  never in my triathlon career did I think that would matter, usually finishing long before that cut-off.  but not today.  today, every second counted.  and after what seemed like forever... a forever of fighting off negative self-talk and trying to stay warm (shivering in 83 degree waters)... I could see the end of the swim - the stairs and the volunteers waiting for the last of us to exit... I was getting so choked up at this point and not giving a shit about what my swim time would be.  All I cared about was getting on my bike.  My pretty, pristine, pink bike that was sitting all alone on the rack.  I was helped up the stairs and the biggest relief fell over me.  Holy fuck, I made it. and after 1 hour, 55 minutes and 21 seconds *my slowest IM swim EVER* I knew that I would get to ride Veruca! 

It took me 20 miles to catch up to the rest of the field...20 f'n miles of isolated riding... it was the strangest feeling.  and I was so depleted mentally and nutritionally from that swim, that I never really gained strength and power.  The weather was perfect, the crowd support was amazing yet I rode slower and slower.  I had no energy.  I was literally falling asleep in aero.  I would close my eyes for just a second and find myself crossed over the yellow line, on the other side of the road.  This went on for about 50 miles.  I have never experienced anything like this.  I drank all of my Infinit, ate all of my energy bars and took in additional nutrition at the aid stations and nada.  nothing.  the tank was empty.  Around mile 80, TEAM KJ was waiting for me...my heart beat out of my chest, as I was so relieved and excited to see them. and I did something I've never done before during Ironman... I stopped and dismounted my bike and hugged them all.  each and every one of them.  I told them that I left my PR at home today and that I was just going to have fun.  after saying my goodbyes, I took off.  and around mile 90 had a complete breakdown.  sobbing, talking out loud to myself, then screaming "FUCK" as loud as I could, not caring who heard me. why was I so tired?  what had I done wrong?  and after about 15 minutes, I collected myself, put my head down and fought off the demons.  homestretch... just get into those running shoes and it would all be better.  7 hours, 9 minutes and 16 seconds later I was back in transition. over an hour after my goal...but in the blink of an eye, all of my energy, pep and positive attitude was back.  and so were my legs.  I felt AMAZING. 
The Amazing "TEAM KJ"
Let's do this!

82 miles into my day, exhausted

I can't really put into words what that run was like...I haven't felt that much joy and pure love for this sport since my first Ironman in Wisconsin 5 years earlier...I didn't look at my watch, not once during the entire run.  I had no concept of time of day, apart from where the sun hung in the sky and had no idea what my pace was.  All I cared about was having fun. and shit, did I have FUN.  I walked through every single aid station, chatting it up and thanking all of the volunteers...I talked to the crowds and smiled.  a lot.  for an entire 26.2 miles. I ran.  while everyone seemed to start walking.  I wasn't tired or sore.  I was happy.  I WAS SO HAPPY!  I stopped and hugged and kissed my support crew every chance I had... I was continually asked by guys on the course, how can you still be smiling AND running?  Are you fucking kidding me?  I AM DOING AN IRONMAN TODAY!  thank you body.  thank you mind.  And as the sun set, I started to pick up my pace.  I had mantras for those final miles... "steady and light feet" ... "strong heart, strong mind, strong legs" ... and around mile 138, I had a guy come up from behind me and ask if it would be ok if he could "hang on and run with me for awhile" - um, sure I answered not really knowing until afterwards what "hanging on" was referring to (I was running and holding a 7:30 pace) ...  and with that final .6 miles to go, I started to cry.  huge crocodile tears... the kind that you can't hold back, that give you a huge lump in your throat and make your entire body go numb and shiver...I did it.  after 62 days of busting my ass and sacrificing so much of my free time and regaining my confidence...  I was going to finish my 6th Ironman...and with a final few dance steps, I threw my hands in the air and celebrated my love and passion for this sport...I am an Ironman once again...
Exiting T2, never happier

still feeling good

thumbs up at mile 131

so close...mile 135

triumph after 4 hours, 21 minutes and 35 seconds (2nd fastest IM marathon)

6x Ironman, having passed over 1100 people from the swim exit!!!

bling and beer...time to celebrate!