I said “no” to coffee

Hi, I am Allison and I am a coffee addict.

There I said it.

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Prior to 4 weeks ago if you saw me before 12pm and after 3pm, I most likely was holding a cup of coffee or it wasn’t more than an arms reach away. This crazy coffee drinking started more than 6 years ago when I worked disaster relief and days started hours before the sun rose and long after the sun set. It was simply the culture of  disaster relief to drink coffee in the morning. Most workers drank coffee with cream and sugar, but I always preferred to drink my coffee black.

This trend of drinking coffee continued long after I left disaster relief work, and till one month ago I preferred to drink coffee over any other beverage. Coffee and water are what I drank.

After a hard 20 weeks of half-ironman training and a crazy busy summer I was left utterly exhausted, facing many sheet-tossed nights, and the urge to crawl under my desk every day at 2pm for an hour nap. I knew all along that I should drink less coffee, but the fact that I still managed to drink 80-120 oz of water each day I did not make any effort to change my ways. It wasn’t till I was not sleeping through the night that I knew I had to make a change. I had hit rock bottom of being a coffee addict.

31 days ago today I stopped drinking coffee cold-turkey. Day 1 was awful! I was physically ill and in bed by 6pm with caffeine withdraw symptoms. Day 2 and 3 I lived in a fog with a migraine that would not go away. Day 4-9 a faint headache was always present, but I was sleeping soundly at night and waking up before my alarm clock. Day 9-31 head ache free, rested, and energized!


If I did not feel as good as I do the last 31 days would have been even more of a struggle. I have enjoyed one class of hot herbal tea in the mornings, and no need to drink coffee to wake up. I miss the smell and ritual of coffee, but I don’t miss the side effects that I had. I am not sure what clicked all those days ago that made me cut caffeine cold-turkey, but I am glad I made the decision.

Low and behold I made my first French Press decaffeinated cup of coffee on Friday morning, and to my surprise, I didn’t enjoy the cup as much as I had anticipated. I envisioned a glories reunited experience. Instead it felt normal and unappealing to sit down with a cup of coffee and eat breakfast. Nothing special. I haven’t had a cup since, and don’t know when I will.

So long coffee, sleepless nights, afternoon naps.

Hello, herbal teas, sound nights, and waking up before the alarm clock.

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There goes another month (or so)…

What happened to August and now half of September?! I swear it was just the beginning of July. Now it is the middle of September. Days are getting shorter, temps are dropping, and the summer craziness is slowing down.

Yet I am not ready to let go of the last bit of what this Michigan summer has to offer. Late night dinners on the deck, weekends spent camping and beaching and early morning runs watching the sunrise are being cherished.

The last month and half have been filled with fun and checking things off the Summer Bucket List.

Picnic Pops was a blast. A beautiful 70 degree temperature and blissful summer themed music filled the evening air. This was also the first time in months that I didn’t wear spandex for at least 6 hours.

Every weekend in August was a weekend away. Which means Monday/Tuesdays were recovery days and Fridays were packing days. It was been a memorable month and one that I would not have changed.

Weekend 1: Girls Weekend at the Cottage

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Weekend 2: USAT Age Group National Championships in Milwaukee

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Weekend 3: Hosting my mom’s surprise 50th Birthday

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Week 3/4: Annual Girls Week Camping

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Weekend 4: Ludington Triathlon

Fun. Memorable. Exciting. Joyful.

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Summer Bucket List- Update

Summer is flying by. Literally. It is already the end of July.

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After the brutal winter of 2014, a mild summer is glorious. I am being greedy and would like a few more months of this kind of weather.

As Amy-Lynn and I talked this past weekend about how we want more beach days, and summer time we decided that we need to take more advantage of every spare minute. So we did what we do best and planned a spontaneous mini 20 hour escape for this week to a dear friends house on the beach for one night.

I need more spontaneity in my life and I always welcome more beach days.

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Camping and beaching for a week with a 20 month old looks something like this.

How is the summer going so far? Pretty awesome.

Here’s the low down.

Harbor Duck Rides in Saugatuck (tourist in my own town)- need to do

Picnic on the beach (never gets old)- need to do

Go camping (have 2 weekends of camping already booked)- I have the pleasure of camping twice. Both times I had to be ripped away from the beach and enjoyed all the fun camping traditions (S’mores for breakfast and no showering).

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2 bikes, cooler, tent, 3 sleeping bags, lanterns, and 3 beach chairs crammed into the Outback = winning

Bike commute at least 1 time per week- major fail. no good excuse.

Go to an outdoor concert- need to do

Picnic Pops concert- happening this week

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0530 bike rides is where it is at.

See sunrises- Oh yeah. Many times a week. Nothing is better than seeing the sunrise.

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0600 runs make the heart still and mind clear

How is your summer going? 

What has been the most fun thus far?

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Grand Haven Tri Turned Duathalon

Over the weekend I completed my first duathalon on accident.

I showed up at packet pickup race morning, got body marked and then found out that the swim was cancelled due to unsafe swim conditions in Lake Michigan.

I was sad. I never expected to be disappointed by a cancelled swim.

After about 2 minutes of disappointment, I quickly realized I had no idea what an Olympic Distance Duathalon even consisted of. Truly, no idea what I was about to do.

I searched out the answers and discovered that I would be running 5k, biking 40k, running 10k. The last time I have run more than 6 miles was on June 8, at the Grand Rapids Triathlon Long Distance race. Now I was going to be running 9.3 miles at a race pace speed!

All of a sudden my no expectations triathlon went to a no expectations duathalon. No specific training went into racing the duathalon. No race strategy or plan. I had no idea what I was doing.

So I toed the start line and ran like hell for 5k, then pedaled like a bear was chasing me for 40k, and then ran as fast as I could for 10k. With no watch, I had no idea what my pace was. I would have obsessed over time, had I had a GPS watch on my wrist.

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The whole time my legs burned and my heart rate was through the roof , while some how  my mind remained clam.

It was a racing experience unlike any other. It was a race of unknowns, and of more mental toughness than ever before. A race that left me questioning just how fast I could run at USAT Nationals in just 4 weeks if I run with the same mental toughness.

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The cheers, screams to go faster and push harder, the ringing of the cow bells and sights of familiar faces continued to put more fire in my legs and lungs. Kept me focused and moving closer to the finish line.

R1: 0:25:08 (5k PR)

T1: 0:00:42

B: 1:15:45

T2: 0:00:45

R2: 0:54:16 (10k PR)

Total 2:36:42

1st in AG, 63rd OA

photo 2Till next time…

Check out some cool Michigan Awesome gear!#MichiganAwesomeTriTeam

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New Perspective

I am always excited to make plans. The Type A personality that I happen to possess loves plans. But what I have realized is that if my heart is not 100% in it, I do not make the plans a priority, thus they never actually happen. While on the other side of the spectrum, if my heart is in it, I am 100% committed and there is no shortcuts, or stopping. There is no happy middle.

Since finishing a very successful 20 weeks of Half-iron training my workouts have been all over the place. I am back to strength training more each week than I run, and biking and swimming without workouts written down. If I feel like doing 2000 yards in the pool with only a pull buoy and kick-board, I do. If I am out on the road riding and want to go fast till the next stop sign, I do.

I am learning the happy middle.

In the last 4 weeks my down right LOVE of being active, and enjoying the outdoors is back full force. And with the simply enjoyment of moving I feel like a young child again taking in everything for what it is. Trying new things. Revisiting movement that I once did regularly. And enjoying every moment as a gift.

This does not mean I did not enjoy my Half-Iron training. It simply means, that 20 weeks of perscribed workouts is mentally and physically exhausting. The last few weeks of training, I felt I had to do a workout, more than I wanted to do a workout.

Now there are- No plans. No workout schedules. No “skipping” workouts.

There is- Pure joy. Pure happiness. Movement. Outdoors. Fun.

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Grand Rapids Tri- USAT Long Course Nationals Recap

Folks, race day as come and gone.

It has been 5 days since the race and I am still processing the race experience. Writing the race recap, has been good closure to the race.

Race day looked something like this…

When I woke up at 3:50am on Sunday to torrential down pour my heart sank. I was not very happy. This was not the race day I had imagined.

I drank coffee, and forced a bagel and banana down my throat.

It rained through transition set up, and swim corral placement and my swim wave start.

The gun went off and I no longer cared that it was raining and all nervousness left my body. I was finally able to completely and utterly trust my training and started to enjoy the race day experience.

I easily fell into a nice swim groove. Comfortable, rhythmic and smooth. To my own surprise I even swam in some what of a straight line. I distinctly remember swimming back to shore, and realizing I was smiling so big that I was swallowing lake water. I was so happy.

Swim: 0:44:14

Upon getting out of the water, being stripped of my wetsuit (thank you awesome volunteer), I ran to transition, and managed to gear up for the bike. The rain had stopped, and clouds remained.

T1: 0:02:03

I quickly ran out of transition and  got comfy on the bike. It was going to be at least 2:45:00 spent on the bike. Hydrating, and eating were a priority. Stuffing my face with GU Chomps, Skittles and Nuun kept my mind off the effort and soon the chaffing of a super wet bike seat and race kit kept my mind off the effort. The course was continuous rolling hills and sections of flat farm land. It is safe to say that even with the open course, only about 6 cars passed me in the 56 mile out and back route. As I approached the last 6 miles on the bike course, I stopped eating and drinking. Having a really full stomach going into the run, was not something that I wanted to experience. With 1 mile to go on the bike, I attempted to take off my cycling shoes and failed miserable. Another thing to work on in the coming weeks before the next tri.


Bike: 02:50:07

Running in to transition I hear “ALLISON”, “HERE SHE IS” being screamed from what I would like to call Allison’s Support Crew. There to my right were at least 10 of my closest family and friends ringing cow bells and screaming for me to keep moving fast! As I took of my cycling shoes and reached for my socks I realized that my socks and shoes were already sopping wet from the morning rain. I decided to put the socks on any way and hope for the best. Grabbing my hat, race belt and water bottle, I was out of the transition area.

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Why yes, I am starting to cry when I see familiar faces.

T2: 00:01:38

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I sprinted out of the transition area not sure where all my leg energy was coming from. I was inflated by seeing familiar faces and knew that I had approximately 02:23:00 to run the half marathon and still finish in under 6 hours.

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My crew cheering, taking my water bottle for me and believing in me.

With in the first 1/2 mile, my quads and shins started cramping. I tried my darndest to push through without walking, but it was becoming impossible. I knew it was going to be a long 13.1 miles if I did not get a grip and compose myself soon. At mile 2 I stopped running completely, stood in a driveway stretched, drank some Nuun and began running again. I felt recharged and ready to go. My new game plan was to run to every aid station (about 1.5 miles apart), walk through the aid stations and then run again. This plan worked…till the hills came. There were a few larger hills on the course, that I was not in the mood to run up, so I walked and smiled. Even with the cramping and unplanned walking I knew I was going to finish all 70.3 miles and the excitement I felt was not going to leave me any time soon. I soon was approaching my second loop of the run course and saw my family and friends once more. Seeing them always re-energizes me for a few miles, and reminds me just how blessed I am. At mile 12 my stomach would not stop growling. I had been eating ice chips, drinking water and eating GU, but my body was hungry for real food! I decided to start eating another GU at mile 12.5, just too keep busy. As I approached the finish line I could hear the screaming. Then I saw the race clock- 06:13:00.

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Racing with my Green Fellow Flower was a great reminder and encouragement.

Run: 02:20:39

Race Time: 05:58:43

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70.3 miles completed! I LOVED every minute of this race!

I unfortunately lost all the time I had gained on the bike, in the run but a 02:20:00 13.1 is not too shabby. I could not believe I did it! After hugging family and friends and talking a mile a minute, I processed to the finish line food and ate three cookies at a record rate.

My goals for Grand Rapids Tri;

1) Finish- Check

2)Have fun! – Check

3)Sub 6 hour finish time Check

The race overall was well-organized, had amazing volunteers and fun! I would do the Grand Rapids Tri again in a heart beat!

Thank you to Michigan Awesome for allowing me to represent your company, your mission and Michigan!

Back to training I go, as USAT Olympic Nationals is only 9 weeks away!

Green Fellow Flower- Courage. To persevere with humility. To breakthrough. To take the leap; to chase the dream. The burning desire to grow. Falling in love-with who you were meant to be. I was born to do this.

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It’s race week…

The last week of training is here! As much as I want my legs to feel fresh and ready for Sunday’s 70.3 I do not want training to end.

To be perfectly honest, I am already feeling the effects of built up energy. The extra time on my hands is unusual. With only one class, very little training and a 40 hour work week I am finding the extra time of no structure to be un-welcomed. My brain is foggy with race day visions and final exam preparation. While alone on the road or the pool is when I clear my head the best, and when a clear head is needed the most I am tapering for the big race I have been preparing for.

All that being said…race prep as began.

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Race kit, nutrition, wetsuit, glide all accounted for.

This journey would not have been possible without my support crew. Friends and family have been by my side the last 20 weeks cheering me on, listening to my training stories and all my reasons as to why I can’t go to happy hour every week, understanding that completing the 70.3 is what I want and believing in me that I can do it. Words can’t ever express how thankful I am to have such amazing people in my life.

When I started running almost 5 years ago, and a run around the block (that was 1/2 mile long) was too much for me, I never imagined I would race a half-ironman. Honestly I did not even know what a half-ironman was! Never did I imagine I would learn how to swim and be comfortable enough to swim 1.2 miles in open water with hundreds of other swimmers next to me. Never did I imagine I would pick a lofty goal of a sub 6 hour half-ironman and confidently know that I can achieve it. Never did I imagine that I could have an oppotunity to make it to the USAT World Championship (I didn’t even know what the USAT was 2 years ago).

Now I look back on the 20 weeks of training and see how far I have come. I didn’t come this far without some lessons though…

I learned that I am only as strong as I think I am.

I simply can’t do it all and I don’t have to do it all.

Sleep is important. 5 hours of sleep a night for 4 + weeks is not good.

Triathlon is a hobby, not a career.

Hell does not freeze over when a workout is skipped.

Triathletes eat a LOT.

Triathlon training is fun, even when the workout of the day is 3,500 yard swim followed by a 2 hour run.

Now I resist using up all this energy and store it deep inside for race day.

I’ll see you on Sunday on the other side of the finish line of the Grand Rapids Triathlon!

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