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#27 Buy a Condo/House

19 Jan

Yeah, that’s right…I think this officially makes me a grown-up. On March 23, 2017, we bought a house!

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Now, when I first put this on the list I figured I’d be buying a house in LA on my own, hence the “condo/” addition. But, like I said, I’ve been working on #39, so now I have a partner in all these important life moments.

When we made the big move from Santa Monica to San Francisco in March 2015, we looked to rent an apartment/condo similarly sized to our place in LA. We had an amazing thing going in Santa Monica – 3 bedroom, 2 bath, walking distance to the beach – so we knew it wouldn’t be quite the same, but we had no idea what we were in for up in the Bay Area. We ended up finding a 2 bedroom, 1 bath in the outskirts of the city for 150% what we were paying in LA.

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We were optimistic and we were still walking/riding distance to the beach, but we had to trade in our bathing suits for sweatshirts. We quickly came to learn though that the city wasn’t the place for us. The weather was just such a downer.

In spring 2016, we came to the realization that for the amount we were paying to rent a condo in the city, we could buy a house in the East Bay. So in July we started casually looking. We weren’t really ready to buy, but we wanted to see what was out there and what we could realistically afford.

We looked at houses in “up-and-coming” areas of Oakland, but it didn’t exactly feel safe and some of the spaces were…creative.

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We looked at a “fixer-upper” in Piedmont and after that decided to add walls and floors to our checklist.

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We worked our way further and further from San Francisco and finally stumbled on a cute city called Concord. Concord is up-and-coming in a much less scary way than Oakland. It’s older and some houses could use some work, but you don’t need to get a concealed carry permit to walk alone at night. 😉

We kept casually looking for a couple of months and then had one lucky weekend where we found not one, but two houses we loved! That was a Saturday. By Tuesday we had a real estate agent, a mortgage broker, we were pre-approved for a loan and we put in an offer. Everything happened SO fast!

After a little bit of negotiation (while I was in NY for work) and beating out 11 other offers, we got the place! It was the most exhilarating and, at the same time, scary experience of my life. But now we’re proud homeowners and, added bonus, turns out Mychael is quite the handy-man. 😃

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We’re almost ready to have people over, so get ready for the housewarming/1-year anniversary party, coming soon!

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#39 Find my Soul Mate, Fall in Love and Get Married–Part 1

16 Jan

Well obviously I can’t completely check this one off the list yet, but I’ve made a ton of progress. This is actually a really lofty, three-part goal, of which I’m two thirds of the way done, so I figured it was worth a shout out. As probably the most important item on the list (or perhaps tied with #40, but I’ll let you know about that when I get there), needless to say it has taken a lot of time. This is perhaps the reason I took a four-year hiatus from this whole blogging thing.

You may remember the cute trainer that was introduced while I was checking #4 off the list (run a 10K). Well, I bought a Groupon for bootcamp classes, set out to get in shape and run a fun little race, but ended up joining a triathlon team, finding my soul mate and switching some things up that would completely change the trajectory of my life.

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(Best triathlon coach award…yeah, I ordered that trophy)

Mind you, I didn’t know how to swim and only owned a beach cruiser, but that didn’t stop me. Workout all the time? Sure, trainer Mychael. Join a triathlon team and nearly drown on the first day of swim practice? No biggie, Mychael. Dedicate all my free time to a sport I’d never really heard of before? Whatever you say, Mychael. Love is weird like that…it makes you do crazy things and at the time they make total sense.

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I knew instantly that he was the one. My roommate at the time, Beatrice Guapo, can attest to that. We watched a video of Mychael online the day before my first bootcamp class and I told her I was going to date him (I obviously couldn’t have done this blog post back then…crazy girl alert!!).

Now on his end, it wasn’t so quick. It took a long, painful year for me to wear him down and convince him it was ok to date a client. That people wouldn’t think he was a sleazy trainer because well, everyone already thought we were dating anyway!

Separate from the love element though, meeting Mychael really was the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I started really enjoying working out and built a strong professional interest in sports and fitness that has shaped both my career and personal life.

Fast forward five years and here we are. I’m happier than I ever dreamed I could be. It’s something that’s incredibly difficult to put into words, but Mychael makes every day a little bit better. He’s the only one that can make me smile in any situation…and he does.

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I’ve always aspired to have a relationship like my parents…married over 40 years and still madly in love…grab a quick kiss in the kitchen sort of love (something I thought was so gross when I was a kid). My mom always told me that their love grew over the years and I shouldn’t expect to be that close to someone right away. Well, after a year as Mychael’s client and best friend, 5 years as his girlfriend and a few months as his fiancĂ©, I have a good idea what she was talking about. I can’t wait to become Mrs. Shannon.

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To be continued…

#8 Keep a Plant Alive for Three Months

4 Aug

After a bit of a hiatus, I’m happy to report that I’m back to blogging! I haven’t been completely slacking…I’ve been working on a couple of these more long-term goals, but nothing to cross of the list just yet (stay tuned). In the meantime though I’m going to give one of the most difficult things on here a try – keep a plant alive for 3 months (insert scary theme music here).

I’ve never had much of a green thumb, which is not entirely my fault as I’m pretty sure this is hereditary (I’m looking at you, mom :-)), so this one is going to be tough.

After an impromptu trip to The Home Depot yesterday (yes, my life is very exciting)…

 

I am the proud owner of a Fuchsia plant.

Fuchsia PlantIt has really pretty hot pink and purple flowers that hang down off the branches. There are a bunch of unopened pods, so hopefully soon I’ll have some really beautiful photos to share.

Wish me luck!

Me & Fuchsia Plant

#19 Go to the Magic Castle

31 Dec

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Ever since I heard of the Magic Castle I wanted to go check it out. Yes, I’m intrigued by magic, but I also just hate that there’s an exclusive place I’m not allowed to go.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Magic Castle, it is the private clubhouse for the Academy of Magical Arts. Beginning with a charter membership of 150, it now boasts approximately 5,000 members. And not just anyone can go. You have to be specifically invited by one of the members to be allowed in.

Built as a private home in 1909, when the owner moved out, the mansion was divided into a multi-family home, then became a home for the elderly, and was finally transformed into a maze of small apartments. In September of 1961, Milt Larsen began renovations to turn the building into an elegant private club for magicians and on January 2, 1963, the Magic Castle opened its doors.

Back to the story…Somehow I got subscribed to the email list for a club called Things to Do LA and one day when going through the clutter in my inbox I came across an email from them that had “Magic Castle” in the subject line. I opened it up to find that the group was planning a trip to the illustrious club that would include a private show followed by the opportunity to roam the halls of the castle and take in other shows. I immediately bought two tickets (for me and new boyfriend Mychael).

As the day drew closer and the anticipation was building, I started to get really excited for what this evening of magic and mystery might hold. And when the night finally came, I could hardly wait. The dress code was fancy, including a dress or nice pants suit for ladies (sexy!) and a coat/tie for men (Mychael, being a t-shirt and shorts kind of guy, wasn’t too excited about that part). After changing in the office bathroom, Mychael picked me up and we were on our way to Hollywood.

After navigating through the craziness of rush hour Hollywood traffic and quickly grabbing a bite to eat, we pulled up to the Castle. Interestingly, it is located right behind the Hollywood & Highland complex. Who would have thought that right behind the cheesiness of Hollywood Blvd. there would be this cool building?

We turned over our car to the valet, were inspected by the doorman and let into the building. (They really weren’t joking about the dress code. A guy in front of us didn’t have a coat and they made him rent one for the evening.)

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Upon checking in with the hostess we were told to whisper “open sesame” to a little owl statue on the bookcase next to us and in a scene straight out of a Sherlock Holmes movie, the bookcase opened and a waiting area/bar was revealed!

We grabbed a drink and went to the private show. It was a pretty small group so it was cool to see all the tricks up close. From there we set out on our own to check out the other shows. At any given time, there are at least four different performances going on. We saw a few on smaller stages and the big show on the main stage. Personally, I really liked the smaller ones. They were a little less cheesy and I liked seeing everything up close. For some reason in nearly every show we went to they used Mychael to pick a card or somehow be involved. Must be that adorable smile. 🙂

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We took in three performances and were just looking around on our way out the door when a random guy asked if we wanted to watch one more. He told us to sit at a table and we were joined by about 10 other people. This was by far the coolest part of the night. This magician practiced his tricks in an intimate performance just for us. And somehow I STILL couldn’t figure out any of his tricks!

I guess that’s part of the appeal of the club…world-famous magicians are walking the hallways taking in shows and looking for opportunities to practice their craft.

It was the perfect ending to a really cool night. And the most exciting news of all…since we purchased a photo, we got a pass to return with 8 of our friends! We’ll definitely be going back. And I’ll figure out some of their tricks!

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#16 See a Broadway Show

31 Dec

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Once again, I’m a little bit behind…this past July my mom and I took an epic trip to New York. It was an action-packed six days of Big Apple fun. We went to the Empire State Building…

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the 9/11 Memorial

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rode bikes in Central Park…

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bought tons of bags on Canal Street…

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had an amazing 4-hour dinner on the Upper East Side at Philippe’s

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got massages at Bliss (they frown on you taking pics at the spa)…

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had lunch with the East Coast cousins (there are a couple who snuck away before the photo opp, but it was a big group)…

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shopped on Broadway…

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took a boat tour by the Statue of Liberty (thanks to cousin Zach)…

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navigated the subway system without getting lost…

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walked through the world’s largest store (Macy’s Herald Square)…

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went to the locals restaurant at Eataly (Birreria)…

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and most importantly we saw a Broadway (Book of Mormon) and Off-Broadway play (Avenue Q).

My mom and I had talked about going on a girls trip to New York for a while, but with most things that take a lot of planning, it was still just more of an idea. That was until I got an interesting email from Virgin America. The email said I had entered a contest and won two round trip tickets to anywhere they fly. I was suspicious because it sounded like a scam, but after some research I found that it was indeed true. So with that, we started the planning and before you know it, the trip was on the books.

My mom is very familiar with my 40’s list and wanted to help me check something off, so she asked me pick a Broadway show to see while we were in town. After some online research and consulting with friends, everyone said Book of Mormon was the one to see, so we bought tickets and added it to the itinerary (which was quickly filling up).

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We took off to New York from LA on Thursday, July 12, and quickly got started with our sight-seeing.

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Saturday, July 14 (day 3), was the big day. The evening started with cocktails at our hotel’s rooftop bar.

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We were a little early for the club-like set up of the place…at 6:30 p.m. we were the only ones there….but we didn’t care. The view was amazing, the drinks were great and we were off for an amazing night at the theater. We were in for a big night, not only because it was my first time seeing a play on Broadway, but also because earlier in the day my awesome cousin (Paul) and his girlfriend (Anna) had arranged for us to go backstage after the show. Talk about a great introduction to Broadway!

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At 8 p.m. the theater was full and we were ready to go. I was actually really surprised by how small the theater was. I expected something like the Pantages in LA, but it was actually pretty small and intimate. All that time we had spent figuring out where the best seats were was sort of a waste. There are really no bad seats at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre.

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The show was amazing! From start to finish, we were entertained, laughing out loud and tapping our feet along to the songs. Afterwards, we tried to take a picture of the set and were stopped by an usher. Haha…little did she know that we were about to go backstage and take photos of every costume and set we wanted (we showed her!).

We went outside to meet my cousin and his girlfriend, and the four of us were escorted through the side entrance and led backstage. We felt like such VIPs. 🙂 Once inside we stepped on the stage for a photo opp and some background on the show.

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I know I should have been paying closer attention and taking very copious notes for this blog post, but I was distracted. We were on the exact same stage the amazing show we had just seen was performed on. Maybe it was ADD, maybe I was reliving my days as a drama “star”…

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…but unfortunately all I have in my notes to share is “550 shows, 25 bts.” I’m not exactly sure what that means, so feel free to interpret as you wish. 🙂

From there, our guide took us off the other side of the stage, back into the dressing rooms to see all the costumes, and downstairs to see all the controls and set pulleys.

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What stood out most to me about the tour was how small the backstage area was. This play had a pretty decent sized cast with multiple costume changes, so to imagine them all back there trying to make all their cues just seemed crazy. Very impressive!

After the tour was over, the four of us finished the evening with a nightcap….of Junior’s Most Fabulous Cheesecake and Desserts! And let me tell you…it was amazing!

It was an unforgettable night. The play was fantastic; the VIP experience, incredible; and the company, unbeatable. (We had so much fun that we bought tickets to Avenue Q the next day!)

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**Note: This is just a single piece of one of the most fun vacations I have ever been on. Having the opportunity to spend that week with my mom filled with girly experiences and touristy outings created memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I am so lucky to have found a best friend in my mom. Love you mom.

#4 Run a 10K/Do a Triathlon – Part 3 (The Big Day)

13 Jun

I DID IT!!!!!

After nearly four months of training, and nearly four hours of pushing myself harder physically than I probably ever have before, I can proudly call myself a triathlete.

I had been preparing for this day for so long and then it snuck up on me so quickly I could hardly believe it. It was Saturday, June 9…the Saturday before the race…a Saturday I had been thinking about for months. My parents came into town to meet me for lunch and help with any last-minute preparations. (sidenote: I probably have the best parents EVER! They drove all the way down on Saturday, just to watch me compete on Sunday and then drive all the way back. Pretty awesome!) After helping me make decorate my team color themed cupcakes (orange cupcakes with blue dots and a blueberry cream cheese frosting…forgot to take a pic), my parents went on their way up to their hotel in San Dimas. They were meeting even more members of my family – Uncle Nick, Aunt Colleen, Uncle Rick, Papa and Step-grandma Alice – who had driven from Arizona and Orange County to support me as well.

We had a final team dinner at Coach Mychael’s house and then it was off to bed around 9 p.m.

Fortunately, I was able to fall asleep and in the blink of an eye it was race day. My alarm went off at 4 a.m. and I popped out of bed and started getting ready. I had already packed most of my stuff in my car the night before because I definitely cannot be counted on to be 100% on top of things at an hour of the morning I’ve seen more frequently from staying up rather than waking up.  I loaded mine and my friend Jamie’s bikes onto my car and was on my way by 4:45 a.m.

I picked Jamie up at the hotel (the same hotel where my family was still sound asleep in their beds) where we also met Kristin and we headed off the the start line. We all arrived pretty early – at the instruction of our coach – so we would have plenty of time to get a good spot on the bike racks and get settled before the race (and take silly photos of course).

Up until this point I hadn’t been very nervous. I guess the type-A planner in me was just concerned with gathering all my stuff and arriving on time. But once we arrived and started unloading the nerves set in…I had butterflies in my stomach and had to pee every two minutes! There was no turning back at this point though.

I have to say, I wasn’t that enthused originally when I heard we would be wearing orange and blue as our team colors, but we looked damn good when we were all together as a team. We, by far, had the strongest showing….or at least the brightest!

When we arrived just before 6 a.m. I thought we had so much time before the start of the race, but man, was that the fastest two hours of my life! Before I knew it, we were standing down by the water in our wetsuits getting ready to go. It went by so fast that Jamie, Kristin and I almost missed the start. At the urging of our coach we ran down to the water with just about 30 seconds before the start of our heat. In retrospect I think that was probably a good thing because it didn’t give me much time to freak out.

A few words of encouragement between the three of us and it was time to go! We positioned ourselves on the outside to try and avoid getting kicked in the face or pushed under water. I mean, I am a little bit sportier now, but I’m still the prissy girl I always was. The swim was 1.5K, or for the people reading this from the U.S., nearly a mile. 

The water in this lake is really murky, so you really can’t see anything at all…not until it is one foot in front of your face, that is. Between that and all the people around, I freaked out a little bit at first. It wasn’t a conscious freak out, but I just lost my breath a little bit. I was able to get it together though and keep going. One of the hardest parts of the swim is going straight since you can’t see anything. And now with people zig-zagging back and forth it was like a regular obstacle course. I kept going though and  before you know it, I was heading toward the finish.

I ran out of the water and heard the recognizable cheers of my family. I looked up to the left and there they were, sitting on the embankment cheering with their orange shirts and orange and blue bells. That definitely put a smile on my face.

I ran over to the transition area tearing off my wetsuit on the way, changed into my cycling gear and headed out for part 2 of the race. The bike ride consisted of 3 laps totalling 39.5 K (nearly 25 miles). We had practiced the course the week before, so I knew what to expect and felt pretty confident. After all, it wasn’t nearly as difficult as the torturous hills our coach had been making us climb for training a couple of weeks prior.

That was until about half-way into the first lap (20 minutes) when I noticed my bike felt kind of weird. I looked down to see what was going on and saw I had a flat tire. OH NO!!! My very first flat tire! How could this be happening now? I had been on how many training rides and everything had been fine, and now on this big, important day I had been training for, I get a flat.

I hopped off my bike and took off the back tire (the more difficult of the two to change of course). And as I was sitting on the ground, messing with the tire and contemplating whether or not I would be able to do this, a man in a U-Haul truck stopped and asked if I needed help. Turns out, Chip actually worked with the race and had been the one to put it on for a number of years. He fixed my flat for me and I was once again on my way.

I have to say though, that whole ordeal was pretty discouraging. I’m not the fastest to begin with and now I had lost about 20 minutes (which felt like 2 hours) to a flat tire. I kept going though. And my family was right there cheering me on. Even when they were the last ones left out on the road they were still the most enthusiastic cheerleaders ever…ringing their bells, waving their hands in the air, yelling my name…it was definitely encouraging.

After the three laps I rode back to the transition area, switched into my running shoes and started on the 10K (6.2 mile) run. Now, this is my strongest area of the three, so I figured I’d be able to make up some of that time I lost. The really hard part was that for the first half mile, I didn’t even see anyone in front of me. I kept at it though and found some people. One by one I set goals to pass each person in front of me. It was good to feel like I was really competing again.

And in no time, the finish was in my sights. Not only did I see the finish arch, but I saw TONS of orange! It was a sea of orange t-shirt wearing family members and orange spandex wearing teammates. Even the announcer said, “sounds like you’ve got a lot of support here.” And that I did.

Crossing that finish line was such a sense of accomplishment. And it was so great to have my family right there waiting for me.

Everything I had been training for and all the work I had been putting in led to that moment. And let me tell you, it was all worth it.

Our friends and family shared in a celebration BBQ with us after the race, which was a great way to end the day and take in all we had accomplished.

Quick shout-out to Coach Mychael for coming in first in his age group and first-time triathlete Jamie for coming in third in hers!

I think I can safely check “run a 10K” off my list now because, not only did I run it, but that was after a nearly 1 mile swim and 25 mile bike ride!

Congratulations to the entire Cycle Project team! – Adriana Bekeris Jamet, Bridget Gonzales, Elisa Valdez, Jamie Thibault, Joe Oliveira, Karen Eiler, Kristi Gehring, Kristin Finkle, Micah Michalski, Mychael Shannon, Nicole Okoneski, Rob Jones, Rob Sneckenberg, Silvana Perolini and Tracy Yen.

I can definitely say that I will do another triathlon…not only because I need to beat the flat tire jinx, but also because I enjoyed it so much. From the training, to the friends I made along the way, to the feeling of achieving a goal, to knowing how proud my family is, this was such an amazing experience.

Get ready Malibu Tri…here I come! Want to join our team? Check it out here.

#4 Run a 10K/Do a Triathlon – Part 2 (Training)

9 Jun

With the decision to do the triathlon to support The Cycle Project behind me, it was time to start training. Training for me started with swimming. As I mentioned, I hadn’t swam since I was a little kid. I mean, I could swim from point A to point B and not drown, but there was definitely no form involved.

Our coach hooked us up with Mikey Flaherty who runs a program called Swim with Heart. Mikey was starting a Masters team and needed some people to help get it going. Now contrary to how that sounds, you don’t have to be a “master” at swimming to participate.

On the first day of practice Jamie Thibault, Kristin Finkle, her neighbor Heather and I showed up nervous, but ready to go. The only problem was that we were an hour late. Thankfully, another group let us join in on their practice though. This was however, one of the most challenging workouts of my life. Not only did I have no form at all…I couldn’t breathe! And let me tell you, it’s pretty difficult to work on your form when it feels like you’re going to drown from lack of oxygen. I specifically remember calling my parents after that practice and telling them, “wow! I really suck at swimming!”

I was determined to do it though, so I started going to practice four times a week and eventually I got the hang of it. Now, I’m still no Michael Phelps, or Mychael Shannon, or Mikey Flaherty (why are all the good simmers named Michael???), but I can do it.

Simultaneously, I had a second sport to pick up
cycling. I have handled the PR for a couple of big cycling races over the past six years and always thought it was an amazing and interesting sport, but it wasn’t until this new goal that I decided to take it up.

Fortunately, through my friends at Specialized I was able to get some advice on which bike to get. For the first couple of months I kept on the platform pedals (for the non-cyclists out there, those are the standard pedals that are on your beach cruiser), but after I started feeling comfortable I decided to step it up and clip in (this is what the pros do; essentially your feet are attached to the pedals).

The running part wasn’t as much of a concern for me because it’s the only one I had actually done before and I’m not half-bad at it.

Needless to say, my social life was starting to go out the window at this point. With swim practice four times a week, two runs, two bike rides and bootcamp three days a week, I was starting to feel like a real athlete. And after a while I didn’t mind that my bar nights were being replaced with early morning workouts. As a matter of fact, I was actually starting to really enjoy it.

As the official registration date began approaching we would have to make a decision – would we do the sprint distance or the Olympic? When I started training, my goal was very clearly the sprint, but over time I built more confidence, so now I was on the fence about which one to do. After a few weeks of consideration, a little push from our coach, and many, many conversations with Kristin and Jamie, we decided to all do the Olympic.

Man, was I crazy? A couple months ago I couldn’t even swim and now I’m going to do an Olympic distance triathlon?!?! So, now you can understand why I’m able to check the “run a 10K” off my list with this triathlon. Not only will I be running a 10K, but that will be after nearly a mile swim and a 25 mile bike ride!

The trainings started out with 30 minute runs and 10 mile bike rides, but they began to increase as we got closer to the race. We were doing brick workouts (two sports back-to-back; so biking and then immediately going for a run) almost every weekend. The awesome part though was that I felt myself getting stronger and as the trainings grew more difficult and longer, I was able to keep up.

I even got the opportunity to do a training ride with my dad during the Amgen Tour of California. It was pretty cool to be able to share that experience with him (especially considering I’ve never been very sporty).

Toward the end we did some pretty gnarly hill repeats. Yes, repeats. We went up and down the same hill multiple times on our bikes and running. I know
it sounds crazy!

For our final group training last weekend, we went out to San Dimas and tested out the actual course.

I felt really confident on the bike and with the run, but swimming in the lake brought a new challenge of not being able to see clearly. We practiced though and got ourselves ready for the big day.

Through it all, I think everyone on our team would say that we’ve grown stronger, more confident in ourselves and found something that we all really love to do. And one of the best parts of all is the new friends we’ve picked up along the way (I can be cheesy for a moment!).

It’s now the night before the triathlon. We just had our last team dinner, packed up all our tri gear, laid out the awesome outfits we’ll be wearing tomorrow and are heading to bed. Wish me luck!

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