Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Iron Man Update

Friday night our family stayed the night in the Woodlands so we could watch our friend, John start his Iron Man early Saturday morning! What an honor to be his friend! I wanted to share with you his post-race report. Words escape me...

Iron Man Texas – May 21, 2011
If IronMan had not decided to have an inaugural race in The Woodlands, located just about an hour north of Houston, I am not sure if I would be writing this race report. The timing was somewhat eerie. But after completing two IronMan 70.3 races in 2010, what would be the difference? So I signed up. I can assure you that two halves do not equal a whole.

Since January 2011, my life has revolved around getting ready for IronMan Texas. I was told that the time commitment was enormous, and boy were they right. I had help from Coach Trent in getting my training on the right track, however, I couldn’t have executed it without my accountability training partner, Robin. Many mornings when the alarm clock went off, I would surely have turned it off and went back to bed if it weren’t for her. In addition, I met some amazing new friends during this journey. Trying to name them all here would take half a page. But I would like to point out just a few. Philip and all the folks at that work and ride for Shama Cycles are simply fabulous people. I learned a lot about cycling from them and they kept my bike tuned up and working efficiently. Trent, Andrew and Muddy organized a terrific IronMan training camp, where I learned a lot about strategy, nutrition and trying to educate me on a race that was simply hard for me to comprehend. And finally, Cindy and Ronnie who introduced me to a great team called Tri4Him. God was working when He called for our paths to cross and my perspective on triathlon in my life and why I train and race and participate in this awesome sport have been transformed forever.
When the week of the big race came, it seemed like the past 6 months just flew by. My mind raced with doubt…am I ready? We (Robin and I) got our packets on Wednesday and then came home to do some final packing before heading up to the Woodlands on Thursday. Got some dinner at PF Changs Thursday night and over to the athlete meeting. Thursday flew by so fast! Friday morning, there was a practice swim in Lake Woodlands. The water temperature was 79 degrees and at that point, wetsuits were not going to be legal. However, I could wear one, but just not be eligible for slots to the IronMan World Championships if I posted a fast time. I knew there was NOO way…so wearing a wetsuit entered my mind. However, I thought I would be too hot, so I made a decision to not wear one.

Friday afternoon was spent checking in my bike and transition bags and then heading back to the hotel and relaxing. Friday Evening I had dinner with Robin, her husband, mom, step-dad, Christy and her kids, Luke, Carleigh and Cora. Aimee was bringing the girls up that evening after the athletics banquet at Sydney’s school. Kelvin, Christy’s husband, arrived in The Woodlands, later that afternoon. Kelvin and Christy are Emma’s parents. Recall, that Emma’s Hugs, is the organization that I wanted to bring attention to and help raise money for as they help families in need when they have loved one’s in the hospital in the Texas Medical Center. It meant the world to me that they made the trip up to see the race.

I finally fell asleep around 9:30 that evening. I guess I was sleeping pretty hard as I didn’t even hear Aimee arrive at the hotel room. My wakeup call rang at 3:45. After a bagel and peanut butter, some orange juice and a Starbucks Double shot, Mike drove Robin and I to transition for one final check of tire pressure and put some final things in our transition bags. Then…off to the swim start. It was about 1 mile from transition, so Mike drove us there, too. At the swim start, I saw my friend John, who convinced me about 4 years ago that I should train for a marathon. Who knew that it would evolve into this? Met up with my family, Kelvin and Christy, Robin and her family who were all wearing their Emma’s Hugs/Team Mohr t-shirts. We had a prayer devotional with Tri4Him, I put on my skin suit, swim cap and goggles and headed for the water.



It was crowded and right as I got ankle deep in the water, the gun sounded to start the race. I was trapped by all the people behind me trying to fight to get into the water, the people in front of me trying to wait for people in front of them to start swimming and a boat dock on my right. I swam under the boat dock and was free of the chaos. I got into a steady swim pace and then started getting poked and prodded from all direction by folks who wanted to make the 2 hour 20 minute swim cut off and become an IronMan just as much as I. I found my way out of the chaos, held onto a kayak for a minute, caught my breath and then resumed. The rest of the swim was uneventful until we hit the canal heading up towards Discovery Green Park. The canal was about 75 meters wide with concrete walls on each side. When you put a bunch of swimmers in there, the water was like swimming in the ocean. The swim down the canal was about 2/3 of a mile but I made it, and exited the swim, total distance swam was 2.4 miles in 1 hour and 30 minutes.


Now was time to get ready for the bike. The transition tent was like a sauna!! I wanted to get out of there as fast as possible. I got to my bike, loaded up my pockets with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cans of starbucks double shots and granola bars. Aimee and the girls were right next to where my bike was racked, so I got to hear them cheer for me before I headed out on the long bike ride.



As I was about to mount my bike, someone tapped me on my shoulder and asked if I had white sunglasses. I said yes…and when I looked down at my bike, they were gone. She said they fell off back in transition. So, with bike in hand, I headed back up stream to go look for my sunglasses. And they were no where to be found. I started asking people in the crowd for a pair of sunglasses and to no avail. I finally came to the realization that I was going to ride this 6 hour bike ride with no sunglasses. UNTIL…I saw Triny and Wendy on the side. In a state of panic, I told them, “I lost my sunglasses!!”. Wendy handed me her sunglasses and I was off. (THANK YOU WENDY!!) The first quarter of the bike ride was uneventful. I saw David on the road and my mother and father in law. Crossing mile 25 or so, I saw Robin’s pink bike ahead. She said a police man stopped a group of about 100 riders at a stop light to let traffic move through. I couldn’t believe it!! We chatted for a minute, I gave her some of my peanut butter and jelly sandwich and I peddled on. The ride to the north was beautiful as we entered Sam Houston State Park and Forest. The part off Osbourne road was my favorite part of the ride. Through the trees, down hill and FAST! Once we turned and began heading south again, the head wind emerged. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but I was 65 miles into the ride. At about mile 70, my chain dropped off my gears as I was shifting to get up a steep hill. So, I had to stop and get that fixed. At mile 92, I had a flat tire and had to change that. Coming back into the transition area after 112 miles of biking, I felt pretty good. I saw Aimee and the girls as I headed into transition to get changed to go run a marathon. I finished the bike in 6 hours and 19 minutes.
So far, my race was going entirely as I had planned it. All I had left was 3 loops of a 8.5 mile run course left between me and my IronMan. My plan called for taking it easy on the run, keeping my heart rate in the 130’s for the first 10K and see how I felt. This put me at about a 10:30 min/mile pace and at that time I knew it was going to be a long day. I am used to running 8:45 min/mile to keep that same heart rate. However, in hindsight, that is what I should have expected for the hot temperature and the high humidity. So I stayed true to my plan to run based on my HR and ignored my pace. The nutrition I packed in my fuel belt got messed up by sitting in the sun for 8 hours or something happened to my sense of taste. But none the less, it made me sick to drink it. I ditched my fuel belt during the first loop of the run and changed my nutrition plan. I started drinking the nutrition at the aid stations and continued taking my salt tablets. Running by the Tri4Him cheer zone in from of Landry’s at mile 7 or so, where Aimee and the girls were camped out, too, was a refreshing relief. They were the best cheer zone on the run course! I knew I’d see them again at Mile 15 and 24 and that kept me motivated to just get back to that spot 2 more times. The sun came out during the second loop. I saw so many runners on the side of the road hunched over, throwing up. All I could do was offer them a squirt of cold water on the drape of their neck from my water bottle and pray for them as I went down the road. Many I am sure had to be taken off the course. My heart rate rose to the 150’s just walking. At that point I went into defensive mode. I filled my water bottle up with ice water at every aid station and pushed through the second loop taking my salt tablets, drinking my water and pouring the rest over my head. At the beginning of the third loop I saw Philip and John who I mentioned earlier. I tried to stay close to them, but I just couldn’t go any further. I wanted to stop so bad, but I was determined to finish. As the sun went down, I got some strength to begin running again, but it was more of a moderate shuffle than a run. Running a marathon is challenging. Running a marathon after riding 112 miles is exceptionally hard! Running a marathon starting at 3:00pm after riding 112 miles when the temperature is 90 degrees with 60% humidity is darn near impossible. I saw my friend Robin when I hit the 25 mile marker as we turned the corner. The thought of her being there at the beginning when we signed up and right there at the end of my journey carried me that last 1.2 miles to the finish. I hit mile 26, stopped and kissed Aimee, Sydney and Ashley before making that final, memorable trip towards the finish line. My friend Wayne came to watch me finish, too. As I ran towards the finish line, I heard those famous words from Mike Reiley…”John Mohr…YOU ARE AN IRON MAN!!”. My friend Triny caught me at the finish line and made sure that I was OK. I glanced back at the clock…13 hours and 51 minutes. But the time was irrelevant at that point. I am an IronMan and the journey changed me forever.



There are things throughout life that we are told that add meaning and sense of accomplishment to our lives: “Job well done!!”, “Congratulations!”, “You did it!”. “You are an IronMan” is one that I will never forget. It has added meaning, but most of all it has added purpose through efforts with Emma’s Hugs. If we can take things that add meaning to our lives and augment them to add purpose, what a different world we would live in.

While “You are an IronMan” will be added to the list of phrases that describe what I have done, it will not define me. “You may kiss the bride” and “It’s a girl!” are the phrases that form foundation of my life as it exists today. Because of those phrases and the people behind them, I am who I am today. I could not have completed this IronMan journey without my family’s support. I have missed soccer games, volley ball games, campouts, making breakfasts after sleepovers and many others during this journey. And I hold deep regrets for those losses. But tomorrow is another day and I look forward to a 20 mile bike ride. And when I roll out of the driveway, I look forward to heading down the road and seeing where God takes me with a new perspective on life.

...I found myself in tears as I read John's account. All the work and training! Inspiring!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Meet John

I am SO embarrassed! I started this post last year and really thought I finished and posted it. I seriously need some exercises to do for my memory. It's bad...really bad. So, this will be a continuation of the post I started last year in June...

For a while now I've needed to share some really great stuff and haven't had made the time (for shame) to tell you about all the wonderful things going on with Emma's Hugs. We have had several, tons really, donations come through our website. Many came because of the work of our friend, John Mohr. He. is. AWESOME!! He just got back from Hawaii where he did the 1/2 Iron Man! The guy is incredible, I tell you. His training for the Iron Man included many marathons, 1/2 marathons, triathalons, and the like, all at which he promoted Emma's Hugs with his gear. If you're a runner, biker, workout enthusiast, or just like cool workout gear, we can hook you up! He also designed a fabulous jersey for his Iron Man. You can have one too if you would like to join Team Emma's Hugs or get a team of your own together. So with all of his training, and then finally going to Hawaii, he sent out a challenge for his friends and family to donate $73.03 to Emma's Hugs, the amount of miles he would go for the Iron Man. Over $2100 came in! (Scream and jump up and down!)


So now, for the post I was going to do today...

John has continued to share the vision for Emma's Hugs, and sent out the beautiful message below to his friends and family the other day. I thought I would share it with you too...

I set a goal about 1 year ago after finishing my first half-IronMan triathlon to complete a full IronMan before I turned 40. Just about 10 months before my 40th birthday and 1 week before the race, I have come to the realization that I am crazy! What would ever motivate someone to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and then run a full 26.2 mile marathon, and do it all in less than 17 hours? Two words…Emma’s Hugs. Emma’s Hugs is an organization that was started in September 2009 by our friends Kelvin and Christy Dunnam. It is named after their daughter Emma, who died February 1, 2010, 1 month shy of her 4 year old birthday, from Batten Disease. The mission of Emma’s Hugs is to offer random acts of kindness, as simple as paying for parking, for families with children or adults hospitalized in the Texas Medical Center. A very simple act that goes a long way for families who just want to park their car so they can be with their family member and not have to worry about the financial burden this can place on them. To date, Emma’s Hugs has provided over 16 1/2 years (that is right…6,029days!!!) of parking. But the impact is much greater than the value of the parking. To offer a non-selfish act of kindness offers a glimmer of hope to families who may be in financial crisis, or health, family or spiritual crisis. 1 John 3:17 says, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Last year we raised just over $3000 for Emma’s Hugs. But most importantly, we were able to make people aware of this awesome organization. During the Houston Triathlon last September, I spent 5 minutes of the run talking with another athlete about Emm a’s Hugs because he asked about my triathlon jersey (which has the Emma’s Hugs logo). When arriving at the bike to run transition in Hawaii 70.3, I was greeted by a HUGE Emma’s Hugs banner draping over our balcony at the hotel for everyone to see that my kids made with crayons and a sheet that they took from the bed in our room. Tri 4 Him, a Christian triathlon team, has chosen Emma’s Hugs as their “race for a reason” for the year. There have been groups who have run 5K’s to ½ marathons to marathons wearing Emma’s Hugs race gear to help raise money and awareness. Getting on board with this organization is contagious when one learns of what they are doing for others. Please consider supporting me this year in my IronMan quest with a charitable, tax deductible donation to Emma’s Hugs. These donations will allow them to continue to bless people through the legacy of Emma Dunnam. A $100 donation can provide a week of parking for a mom and dad that just want to be with their sick child or a wife or husband supporting a spouse in cancer treatment. In reality, some families have children or loved ones in the hospital for months. (That is $400/month…just to park their car!) The more money we can raise, the more people we can bless. If you can donate more, THANK YOU!! If you can only give a little, THANK YOU!! You can donate online at the Emma’s Hugs website by clicking the “DONATE” tab on the home page. Please put my name and Tri 4 Him in the Special Instructions box. You can also find Emma’s Hugs on Facebook (and you can follow Kelvin and Christy on their blog at, http://www.emmadunnam.blogspot.com/.
Thank You,

John Mohr

Monday, May 16, 2011

Inspiration

We had a packed weekend. It was all good though. Kelvin completed the course work at Lee College for his Associate of Science in December. The college only does one graduation ceremony a year, so he had to wait until this spring to participate in the ceremony. He went back to school to earn his degree the summer Emma was diagnosed with Batten Disease. She is his inspiration. I remember him telling me he felt like he needed to go to school to earn his degree for Emma since she never would be able to. He is such an inspiration himself. There are days when I truly don't know where his energy comes from...working full-time, continuing to be a wonderful husband and father, and carrying slightly under a full load at school is enough to make an average man collapse...Kelvin is anything but average. So, Friday night, Kelvin walked across that stage, and his mom, children and his proud wife were all there beeming. He transferred to the University of Houston Downtown's College of Business in January and will complete his studies for a Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in Supply Chain and Logistics.


After the ceremony Friday night we had some wine and cheese and a deee-licious triple layer chocolate mousse cake which we shared with his mom, grandmother, aunt and our good friends who live down the street. Kelvin brought down his degree and a pencil sketch that hangs above the desk in our study and proposed a toast. He is so eleoquent. He said something to the effect that without inspiration, it is hard for someone to complete a task. Emma is his inspiration, and for her, he {and all of us} is grateful. Tears stung my eyes (and his) as we cheered.





Saturday afternoon we headed to Beaumont to help my mother-in-law get ready for a graduation party for our nephew, Andrew. He graduates from high school on Saturday the 21st. I can't believe it. I was there the day he was born. He has also worked hard to receive his Eagle Scout, an accomplishment which we honored at the party as well...

My friend did a fabulous job on the cake, don't you think?


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Slumber

I'm on the couch with my laptop on my lap and my littlest by my side. She is snoozing, paci halfway hanging out of her mouth, and I hear a tiny little snore as her belly goes up and down with her breath. She woke too soon this moring, telling me she was sleeping in her bed but wanted to sleep in mine. Her big brother and sister were up and getting ready for the school day, and she heard them and wanted to be with them. So now, she is completing her night's sleep. I hate to wake her and get her ready for her preschool day, so I might just sit here and watch her a little while longer.

I'm a little bit sore this morning. Yes, I'm still exercising some, but that's not why I'm sore. As I was getting up from the couch yesterday evening, and making my way outside, my foot slid right out from under me, and I landed smack on my side. My hip/thigh area hurts, and my neck is a little sore as well. How in the world that all happened, I don't know, I'm just kinda glad there wasn't anyone in the house to witness it, for I'm certain it looked pretty funny.

The big kids only have a half day of school today. I'm not sure why exactly, but it is true nonetheless. They have next Friday, May 20th off for a bad weather day. Why didn't the school calendar people ask me when planning that day off? Wouldn't it make more sense to have put that on the Memorial Day weekend holiday? Then we would have a four-day weekend. Oh well, they didn't, and life will go on.

The littlest is starting to stir, so I think I will get off the couch now and make her lunch. They are having a campout style lunch today. The teachers sent home a sack decorated with her name on it and asked that I pack her lunch in it for the campout. How cute is that?!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day to Christy

(author warning- kelvin)

Do you have a favorite magazine? Do you subscribe to it, look forward to getting it in the mail, and get a little sad when you've read the last page? Christy likes Coastal Living and Southern Living. For me, it is Newsweek (I like to read what the "other side" has to say!). Do the lives of people in your magazines seem perfect? Is every child smiling? Is every room decorated to the hilt? Are the waves the perfect blue with white caps that appear to be painted on with a brush? Do the pictures of every plate of food contain 5 colors from 4 food groups? And how about the articles??? Obviously if you write a magazine article you must be a leader in your field and you must know everything, right? Even the authors who share their short-comings do so for our benefit as they share with us how they cured their mortal temptations or traveled the globe on a dime. Never do we see citations in magazine articles, so these folks are obviously field-experts.

Living with Christy and watching her manage our home and tend to our children is sometimes like living in a magazine- the pictures are always perfect and the articles are inspiring. Each meal does have 5 colors from 4 food groups (last night was grilled rib eye steaks smothered in homemade crawfish etouffe, steamed mixed vegetables, Mediterranean salad with homemade dressing, French bread, peach tea, and chocolate dipped strawberries along side some to-die-for chocolate cheesecake desserts...and I must mention it was all set on the back porch with candles on the table and overhead which accented the beautiful table setting- with an occassional smell of burning oak coming from the firepit). Her children always leave for the school bus with a full "love tank" and nutritous lunches that the teachers take note of. Christy always answers the phone at the editor's desk with an energy that lifts the spirits of the lucky caller. To write an expose' highlighting her volunteer hours with Emma's Hugs and Blue Bird Circle Clinic after taking wonderful care of her church, husband and children would convince readers she wears a big "S" on her chest. She could write an editorial piece about the challenges of reviving a defunked HOA and the fun times that involves (sarcasm intended)...and explain her desire for her children to grow up in a better neighborhood. Yes, in "Dunnam Living" each picture is perfectly framed and the articles are always uplifting.

H-o-w-e-v-e-r, you should see the work she puts into each edition. The pressroom is hot and loud. Her arms and hands stay covered in ink. For each "perfect" picture or life-story that we see she has trashed 20 others. The 5 AM Edition is never finished before 3 AM. Her fingers bleed. She tries to work quietly so as to not bother anyone else. It is only the extreme demands of life that give her any rest from mourning her little angel in heaven. Tears wash away the salty sweat from her eyes. If there is anyone who doubts the glossy pages of her "Life Magazine" it is her. But, only her. For those of us who read her life-works on a daily basis, we are lifted by her energy; we fill loved; we can work harder; we are inspired to climb higher; we see more in life than we did before; she adds salt to our lives.

Christy,
You are an awesome example to our children and especially me. You are admired from several continents (literally) and even by those you have never met, but most importantly within our home. Your children love to draw your picture. Your work is dirty, but the product is perfect. You are a Mom.

As always, I will also remind the blog followers that you are an absolute hottie and I will continue to chase you as hard as I did when you were 18! (sorry folks...just can't help myself...that girls drives me crazy...can't think straight when she walks in the room!)

Happy Mother's Day!

k

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Yummy Dinner Idea


Tonight was yummy dinner night. I made a recipe I saw on the Yahoo scrolly thingy on our home page. Evidently there is something called Shine from Yahoo. Who knew? Now I do. Anyway, there were a week's worth of delicioso recipes the other day, and I cooked one of them for dinner tonight. You've gotta try the Lemon Garlic Shrimp and Vegetables...to die for! Even the kids liked most of it. Carleigh wasn't too keen on the red bell peppers, and Luke didn't care for them either, but they gobbled down the squash, asparagus and shrimp with the wild rice-orzo! As long as I hid her asparagus in each rice bite, Cora ate it too. She didn't much care for the squash and bell pepper though and spit out one bite on Carleigh's plate. What a great big sister! The recipe didn't call for squash, but my friend brought me two beautiful yellow squash from her garden, and I couldn't resist using it. It gave the dish another gorgeous color and us another yummy veggie! I just seeded and cubed it and added it in with the other veggies. I would also suggest decreasing the amount of chicken broth to about 1/2 to 3/4 cup instead of a full cup. I'm not sure I was supposed to have quite as much liquid as I did, but it was still gooood! The recipe says to serve it with quinoa, whole-wheat couscous or linguine. I had a little bit of wild rice and a little bit of orzo (I think that's what it was), so I combined them, and it was perfect!

So, what did you have for dinner? Do share.




Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I'm on a roll

Or maybe I should say I have a roll (or two.) But what I meant is that I went for a walk/little itty bit of a run with my good friend, Jessica and her sweet little one yesterday morning. The weather was gorgeous. It wasn't much of a workout for my friend, but I felt like I had been put through the wringer! But this morning, instead of pushing snooze and going back to my happy sleepy place, I got up and put on my workout clothes, and did my Core Secrets Workout dvd. :) So, I'm on a roll! Just hoping I can keep it up. I really need to take better care of myself. I take good care of my family (most of the time), and I'm pretty good at taking care of other people and organizations, but I don't make the time to take care of myself...follow up with doctors appointments, take my vitamins, exercise, eat what I should. But today's a new day, right? I'm still breathing, as Sarah Mae shared yesterday. I can keep going. I can make a change. I need to lose about 15 or 20 pounds, or at the very least, tone up and stay active. I can do this. My 20 year reunion is in the fall. I have some movtivation, don't you think?

How about you? What do you want (or need) to do for yourself?

You (we) can do it!
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