This past weekend, with the kids in tow, I drove down an unfamiliar ladder of switch-backs that ended in a shooting range in Carson City, Nevada. I was meeting a man I hadn’t seen in 30 years… and I was terrified of him.

The year was 1981. After church, my mom took Jer and me to sign up for the St. Mary’s CYO basketball teams. Jer signed up for the 5th grade team. I looked around for a 3rd grade team. There was only one. The all boys team. I looked up at my mom and shook my head. She looked down at me, shrugged her shoulders and said, “Give it a shot, Wendy.” So I did. I was 9 years old and to be honest, I looked like a boy. At Macy’s, whenever I asked a sales person where the bathroom was, I always got directed to the boys bathroom. So quite honestly, I figured maybe no one would notice I was a girl and I would fit right in. That was until day one of practice. The coach’s name was Bill Picton. He was an ex-marine and we were his new recruits. If you’ve ever seen the movie Great Santini, Coach Picton was our Great Santini. I was terrified of him from that first practice. He had these steel blue eyes that pierced through you with intensity. He yelled and slapped his hands until they were red when we didn’t set the right screen. He made us run endless lines as punishment for not making free throws. Once, when I didn’t block out boldly enough, he blocked me out so hard I flew off my feet. I was a girl playing in a way too tough boys world.  But my parents wouldn’t let me quit.  Bill Picton coached with the same passion he lived his life. With 100 percent of his being, he believed in integrity, hard work, dedication and fundamentals. And if you practiced the way you wanted to live, then you would be successful no matter what. And successful we were. I don’t remember exactly how many wins and losses we had, because those aren’t the things that stick with you later in life. It’s the moral lessons that do. And without warning, Coach Picton instilled in all of us 3rd graders life lessons we still carry with us today. One went on to be a NBA great. Another formed his own company to recruit the best corporate leaders in America. Another had the strength to survive the passing of his beloved dad at a young age and grew up to be an amazing father to 2 beautiful daughters. Sometimes your hardest experiences in life are the ones that teach you the most. Those were our days together on the basketball court.

And last weekend, I was just moments away from seeing Coach Picton.

I pulled up to the shooting range and, even though he was wearing dark glasses, I could tell it was his same steel blue eyes looking back at me. I got out of the car and was enveloped by a warm hug from a man I rarely touched in the three years I played basketball for him. Age had done amazing things for him. Although he still wore a Marines hat, his tone had softened. He was still a coach, helping my son and daughter shoot everything from a A-R 15 to a 40 caliber handgun. But he was a softer, more patient coach. And I got to sit and watch and observe a man who taught me so many lessons at age 10, teach my 9-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son new lessons. It was a beautiful circle completed.

Coach Picton told me one of our other teammates had found him online and sent him a message years ago. It said something like, “I’ve just watched a special on John Wooden’s teams and how special they were.  It reminded me of our team.  Thanks coach for making us the people we are today.” Coach Picton told me this story as he quietly held back tears. They were tears of pride someone can only feel from knowing they truly helped others in this world. Bill Picton’s “others” was a group of 10 year old boys and one girl who had no idea of the treasure who was coaching them. In the words of John Wooden, “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” Thanks in part to Coach Bill Picton, we all became that… the best we were capable of becoming.  And that’s what defines the world’s best coaches.   














 I really must be trying to put this race behind me because I totally forgot in my bike leg race report to tell you how I screamed at a squirrel about to run right under my bike. I’m not sure who was more surprised. Me or the squirrel. Seriously, who screams at a rodent during a race?? Or how about the wild dog that decided to run out onto the bike course and nearly take out several racers going 40 miles an hour down a steep grade. Forgot about that too. Anyway, to get to the run leg, I’ll pick up at the very end of the bike course. My friend, Heidi, and I cruised down old Highway 40 and ended up back at the transition area to quickly put on our running shoes, hat and to see if my legs would actually hold me up. They did so I had to keep going.  Damn!  Keep in mind, I’ve now been racing for about 5 1/2 hours. As we left the transition, I told Heidi I had to pee, BADLY. She said, “Well, just go. That’s what triathletes do. We all do it. Just run and pee.” “WHAT?????????????” I replied. And then I started laughing, thinking how rediculous all us athletes truly are… and that was enough. I couldn’t hold it.  My giggles were like hammers pounding open the flood gates.  And so without actually making the decision to be a “true” triathlete and pee and run, I was forced into that elite crowd due to lack of bladder control. Problem was, I was still in the Donner Lake Park where lots of people where hanging around cheering us on!  Literally, dozens of people were clapping as we ran by.  I pulled my hat down low, praying no one would recognize me, and then prayed some more that my biking shorts would absorb the contents of my bladder.  And when I finally looked down… oh Lord!!  It was like a sprinkler was going off in my shorts!  Pee spraying every which way!  I was dying… both from embarrassement and from the fact it felt so good to be peeing! I now totally get why real triathletes do this!! It feels like stepping into a shower with clothes on… completely weird but exciting at the same time.   I’ve either totally lost it at this point, or this triathlon thing is definitely for me!  Fortunately, it was about 90 degrees so the entire mess dried before mile 3. The rest of the run leg was way less exciting. Literally, it was me talking to myself, forcing myself not to quit, playing mind games to keep one foot in front of the other and then at mile 12.5 I really wanted to give up. I had 5 minutes left in this 7 hour race and all I wanted to do was stop.  I tried to run faster, but literally I couldn’t.  And at mile 12.5, a 60 year old woman came up from behind me and said, “Come on!  Let’s finish this thing!”  And so she and I ran step for step the rest of the way into the finish line.  As I crossed, I was overcome with emotion.  I was about to break down sobbing when a friend of mine and her boyfriend came up and offered me a diet coke.  I choked down a few sips and was able to stop my flood of tears.  I didn’t know them well enough to sob in their arms so luckily I got control of my emotions.  Finally, I found Amy and Heidi.  We looked around at everyone at the finish line.  One guy was crawling on the ground moaning about how this race made him shit himself… twice.  Others were just shaking their head saying, “this is the hardest race they’ve ever done,”  and others were freaked out because they were doing this race as training for the Ironman Tahoe coming up on September 22.  It made me feel better that everyone else thought it was a tough race.  Because this race nearly broke me.  So Amy, after you read this, call me.   9 days later, and I’m just now able to laugh about it!!







In any triathlon I’ve done, the swim is always my strongest leg. I swam in college and have always maintained a pretty decent fitness level swimming. Well, you all know how my swim leg went… so that didn’t bode well for the rest of my race. After getting out of the lake at 38 minutes, I got on my bike and headed up old Highway 40. It’s 3 miles of straight up. It’s a grind, but I’ve done it before and so knew what to expect. At the top, I was preparing to just settle in and make sure I stayed on top of my nutrition. Nutrition was key for me in this race since I couldn’t really work out for 2 months leading up to it. I had to have good nutrition!! At the top of 40, I heard this weird “zip” followed by an odd “splat.” 2 minutes later, the same weird “zip” followed by an identical “splat.” WTH? So I look down and two of my Gus, which Lynn had painstakingly taped to my bike, had ripped off and splatted on the road. CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!! All I have in this race is nutrition!!! And now, of my 3 Gus taped to my bike, I’ve lost 2. I quickly grabbed the third one and stuffed it in my sports bra. That baby had to be safe. I also stuffed my bra with 2 of my homemade power bars (recipe for these nuggets of goodness to come as well… if I can convince my partner in the kitchen, Ken, to give up the recipe!). So now, instead of eating every 40 minutes, I was going to have to extend it to about every 1 hour and 10 minutes. Not ideal. After the big climb out of the lake, the ride went from Sugarbowl Ski Resort down to Cisco Grove, back up to Sugarbowl, back down to Cisco Grove and then back up to Sugarbowl and finally back down to the lake.  Total of 56 miles.  My first lap was actually pretty good. The downhills were super fun and the up hills were super challenging. But I was still in a good mood, so life was ok. The second loop,everything changed. The downhill seemed longer, the uphill seemed to never end. My mood went from jovial, talking to fellow racers, to pissed off asking myself why I would ever sign up for something like this, let alone pay good money to do it! Maybe it was because I had about 70% lung capacity, according to one of my doctors. Maybe it was because I hadn’t worked out in 60 days. Or maybe because it was simply a brutal course.  I don’t know why I hated this ride so much, but it doesn’t matter.  This ride was a bitch… and the last thing I wanted to do when I finally got off the bike after 3 hours and 50 minutes was go for a run… let alone a 13 mile run.  I’ll let you know how that half marathon went, tomorrow.



20130801-223624.jpgThe week leading up to my first ever complete half Ironman (I did one last year in Sunriver, OR but they shortened the bike course to just 25 miles due to snow on Mt. Bachelor) was extremely stressful. But the morning of the race was glorious! My friends Amy, Heidi and I stayed at my Little Friend Lynn’s cabin at Donner. We woke up at 4:45, had a fabulous breakfast of Paleo “oatmeal” (recipe to come after I get through this damn “race report” and can start talking about important things like food!!) and headed down to the lake shore by 6:15. This is the fun time of race day. Everyone mingles around, shares war stories and swaps advice on everything from Gu to compression socks to peeing during a race. It’s almost for this one hour that I compete. I love people watching. I love the electricity in the air. I love the anticipation of a race about to begin.  At 7:45, my race did begin. And it began well… for about 300 yards. The water temperature was perfect, the lake was calm and my wave was manageable… not too many swimmers to make me claustrophobic. The swim course was one loop. We would first head for an orange booey that was so far away it looked about the size of a pencil eraser. We would turn left at that booey and head for a white booey on the other side of the lake where we would again turn left and head for shore. 20130801-223609.jpg

When the horn sounded, we took off like a gaggle of geese trying to get enough speed to take flight. Only we would remain in the water for about 25 minutes… at least that was my goal time. I made it about 300 yards when it happened. My lungs went from feeling fine to feeling like they couldn’t get a deep breath. I first flipped on my back to get them under control but that didn’t help. I next looked for the orange booey and it was now the size of a small gumball… I still had a long way to go. And I freaked out. Was this what my doctor warned me of? Were my lungs going into a full asthmatic attack? I had no idea but I knew I had to get some help. I lifted my arm and headed straight for a safety kayak. I pulled up on her bow and started breathing deeply. This cute young girl said, “Are you ok?” I said I wasn’t sure. I just needed a minute to catch my breath. I then looked ahead and saw another safety kayak about 100 yards away. I decided to swim to that kayak and see how things were going. When I plunged back into the water, I was filled with fear that 6 months of hard core training had come to this; a 5 minute race I had to pull out of. I asked myself how disappointed I would be if I had to stop. I honestly answered “pretty damn disappointed” so I told myself to keep going to the next kayak and reevalute at that point. When I got there, surprisingly I felt a bit better. I decided to keep going to the booey, make the turn, and again reevaluate. When I got to the booey, a miracle happened. Someone called out my name! I lifted my head and saw Amy swimming toward me!! “What are you doing here? I thought you were way ahead of me.” “I can’t breathe,” she replied. “Oh good! Neither can I!! Let’s stick together and finish this thing.” And we did. We got to the white booey fairly easily, turned left, and headed back to the beach. Time? 38 minutes. I guess that’s what happens when you hang out on a kayak for 10 minutes! Next up? The bike. I’ll get to the leg tomorrow. 




Well hello land of the walking… and breathing… and drinking red wine. OK, let’s be real! I’ve never stopped drinking red wine! But I havn’t been walking or breathing all that well the last couple of days. MAN a half Ironman is tough!!! Kuddos to all you crazies who actually do a whole Ironman. Can’t imagine. For those of you who don’t know, people who race (I mean the real racers) always write up a race report following all of their races. This is for future reference so they can compete better. For me, my “race report” is called a “blog post” and it’s so I can remind myself to NEVER EVER EVEN IN A MILLION YEARS do another half Ironman triathlon.

So here ya go! Here’s how my race went. And you know me. There’s always a pre story so my “race report” starts the day before I even got into my wetsuit. We begin on Saturday.

My cell phone rings at 8am. Unfamiliar number so I hesitate to answer but I click accept at the last second. It’s my pulmonologist who just cleared me to race on Thursday. He says he’d been reading the newspaper about the Tour de Nez race (bike race) in downtown Reno and he’s now worried that I might be doing something as crazy as that. “Well are you??” he demanded?

“No,” I replied. “I”m doing freaking 70 of those!!”

“Oh my. We might have to reconsider you doing this race,” was his retort.

Retort this buddy! “Can I do permanent damage to my lungs? And what’s the worst thing that can happen to me?”

“No, no, no! There’s no worry about permanent damage! I just can’t believe you’re going to race for 7 hours!” says my doctor who walks 30 minutes a day after work. “Can people really do that?? Well if you must, OK fine. The worst thing that can happen will be your lungs go into a full asthmatic attack and it will feel like you can’t breathe.”

“Well FANTASTIC!!  So when I’m dying for air and it feels like I’m breathing through a straw, I guess I’ll know my lungs can’t handle the stress and I’ll pull out of the race. Thank you for your concern. I’m DOING THIS DAMN RACE!!!”

Keep in mind this converstation comes after an entire week of talking to doctors, some of who forbade me from competing. So my stress level going into the race was a tad high and this last minute phone call didn’t help my nerves.


And now, fast forward to Sunday Morning.  My friends, Amy and Heidi and I, take some fun pre race photos where we decide posed pictures are lame, but looking lame in pictures is totally cool.   We do some easy strokes in the water to acclimate to the temerature and to get our heart rates under control.  And then at 7:45, our wave takes off.  The first 300 yards are great.  I’m thinking, lung issue, what lung issue?  I’m feeling really good.  And then it happened.  My chest started tightening. My breathing became extremely shallow. It was all I could do to get to the safety kayak. This race started off terrifyingly, to say the least.  Full details tommorrow. 





In the last 3 weeks, I’ve worked out 3 days! Not very impressive for someone with a very long race coming up in 5 weeks. But whatever virus went through Reno 3 weeks ago, it found a cozy home in me and nestled in for a good solid 2 weeks. So last Monday I was finally able to get moving again. Here’s how my week played out:

Monday: Ran for 1 hour 15 minutes. I then rode my windtrainer for 50 minutes.

Tuesday: I mountain biked Galena with my Little Friend Lynn for 1 hour 30 minutes. This was supposed to be a 2 hour ride but I forgot my bike pump, my rear tire which I patched was of course flat, so had to drive all the way down the mountain to get my pump. Ever have days like that where you JUST CAN’T GET GOING???


Wednesday: No workout, says my coach. My ass! I replied. I rode in the Reno Rodeo Cattle Drive today. I was on horseback for 8 hours! My coach said if I wasn’t on my bike it didn’t count. I need a new coach!


Thursday: Rode my windtrainer for 1 hour 30 minutes. Swam 3000 yards. Then I did this new workout called Tabata.  It’s 45 minutes of cardio interval training.  I did it for a story for work, but I’m still counting it for my personal workouts.  


I had to cram a lot into Thursday, because  on Friday, I took my daughter to Denver to visit our friend Mackenzie. We did a food marathon there… but I’m sure my coach wouldn’t count that either!







I’ve done it!  I picked my race!  I’m officially registered.  And I want to throw up.  Who knew officially registering for a race was such an emotional step.  I feel like I’m in middle school and I’ve just agreed to “go” with the hot guy I’ve had a crush on all year.   Because now what??  What does “going” mean?  Will he pick me up at my locker?  Will he hold my hand on the way to 3rd period leadership class?  Will he call me tonight or should I call him first?  There’s so much pressure when you’re officially “going”with your 14 year old boyfriend.  And that’s EXACTLY how I feel about this race.  Will it be too hard for me to finish?  Will it abuse me and just toss me aside for a real triathlete?  Will it laugh at me as I struggle to keep pace with other racers who obviously are more competent?  I feel like there are so many unknowns now that I know which race I’m doing.  I’m committed to the Donner Lake Half.  This is my “guy.”  No more flirting with other races.  No more googlie eyes at different distances.  I’ve agreed to “go”with this ONE race.  I’m now in a committed relationship.  At least I will be until July 28th.  So about 2 months. Yeah, that’s about how long the relationship lasted in 8th grade as well.  And I survived that one so I guess I’ll survive this one as well. 

The Donner Lake Half is a half Ironman distance triathlon.  1 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and 13 mile run.  The swim will be in 65 degree water with wetsuits optional.  OPTIONAL??  WTF?  The only option is to wear a wetsuit in my book! 

The bike is 56 miles.  Not bad, except when you look at the elevation.  We ride up old highway 40 out of Donner Lake.  Here’s the elevation map… it sucks:

bike elevatin




The run is 13 miles.  THIS IS GOING TO REALLY SUCK.  It’s twice around Donner Lake.  Not bad, except the backside of Donner is extremely hilly.  Maybe not to your standards, but for this girl, the backside SUCKS.  And I get to do it twice.  The website doesn’t even give you an elevation map.  Need I say more??

Back in 8th grade, there were moments I wondered why I made this decision to “go” with said hunk.  And as of right now, I have those same regrets.  Aren’t there better guys (races) out there?  Aren’t other boys (races) more attractive?  Wouldn’t a less hot boy (race) be nicer to me?  STOP THINKING ABOUT IT WENDY!  You’ve made your up your mind, now go be a good girlfriend (athlete!).  I hope I chose wisely!

WENDY’S WORKOUTS 4-29 to 5-3


Monday: Ran 2 hours and 50 minutes which turned out to be about 15 miles. Yes this was a big whoops! If you follow me on Facebook you can move ahead to Tuesday because you know the story. Monday morning I dropped my car off to get an oil change. It takes an hour. Perfect, efficient me thinks, I’ll run while its getting done. Well after running about 50 minutes I get a call. My mechanic says I need new brakes and my car won’t be ready for several hours. Well shit! What do I do? At that exact moment Eye of the Tiger comes on my iPod and I think, “hell I’ll just run home!” It’s the thrill of the fight, right?? So I take off running. 2 hours and 50 minutes later I’m finally home. Note to self: never plan on running during an oil change again!

Tuesday: So now that you know what happened Monday, you know I have to pick up my car. So I head out on my bike thinking it will take my 20 minutes to get there. Well some bad approximating and a gnarly headwind the entire ride… And I finally arrive 45 minutes later. I can’t win with this car deal! I also swam 45 minutes… 2000 yards.

Wednesday: My plan was to ride my wind trainer for 1 1/2 hours. But after 60 minutes I called it quits. I had nothing in the tank. Think I’m still recovering from Monday!

Thursday: Had a huge work day. No workout.

Friday: Ran 50 minutes on a treadmill then swam an hour. Swam 1500 then pulled a 1500.

Can hardly wait to see what mishap next week brings!!



Monday: One hour on the windtrainer. I put it on the hardest gear and kept it there for the entire 60 minutes. I wanted a good leg workout… this was it! Ran 30 minutes after.


Tuesday: My Little Friend Lynn and I rode hills today. Not a great choice for me considering I did a huge leg workout yesterday, but Lynn doesn’t care. However, I got her back. It was cold this morning in Reno so I ususally ride in legs and arms. They are just that. Stockings that go from your ankle to your thigh, and arms that go from your wrist to your armpits. That way when you get hot, usually an hour into your ride, you can just pull them down or they are small enough to fit into your pockets. Well on this day, I dropped one of my legs between my closet and the car. I didn’t want both of my real legs to freeze so I wore just one leg. Lynn HATES not being cool…and boy was I a dork on this ride!


Wednesday: No workout

Thursday: Swam 3,300 yards. 2000 straight. 10X100 pulling on the 1:45. 300 warmdown.

Friday: Rode my windtrainer for 1 hour on a hard gear again.

Saturday-Sunday: 4-H ALL WEEKEND! I supposed I could have run to the sheep clinics… but I didn’t. So no workouts.

Monday: Rode with My Little Friend Lynn. All hills AGAIN. What is up with that woman??

Tuesday: Ran for an hour around Virginia Lake. If you don’t know Reno very well, this is a great place to go for a run. It’s one mile around the lake. Totally flat. But you do have to watch out for goose and dog poop. Come on people!!! Pick up after your dogs!


Wednesday: Swam 3600 yards. 1000 swim. 1000 kick. 1000 pull. 600 swim.

A pretty boring week and a half of workouts. But truth be told, I’m exhausted. The calving season is kicking my family’s ass and the kids have tons going on in their lives. I’m just happy to squeeze in a few workouts here and there.





Saturday:  Ran for one hour. Yay! I got a weekend workout in. Boo!! It was on a treadmill in Stockton, CA! 

Monday: Rode my windtrainer for 1 hour, again, in front of the TV with my boyfriend, Mr. Reese. And after admitting last week I had a crush on Mr. Reese, my husband asked me if he had something to worry about. Well, no, unless Jim Caviezel ends up in Reno, Nevada and doesn’t mind a middle aged broad with two crazy kids and a fluffy dog! Nope, nothing to worry about here!


Tuesday: Swam 3200 yards. 2000 straight (yuck!).   And then 6X150′s on the 2:30 pulling. This I did with a man I’ve befriended at my pool. He’s from the middle east somewhere and said to me, “Vendy, I see yous going to svim a pooool set. Vants me to join you?”  I answered,  ”No problem amigo! Let’s do this!”    ”Hokay, Vendy, vee svim!”   He then proceeded to kick my ass!  After that, I ran on the treadmill for 30 minutes… because he got out and went home.  Take that Mr. “Vendy Yous A Gooood Svimer!”










Wednesday: It was my hubby’s birthday so I snuck in a 1 hour wind trainer session with my boyfriend, Mr. Reese, before hitting the shooting range for a nice round of skeet and trap. No, I’m not counting the shooting as a workout!  Although it was truly an arm workout for me!  Darrin makes me point my gun at the sky first and then bring it down to shooting level.  That’s like doing 75 upside down push ups! 


Thursday: Rode with my Little Friend Lynn outside!  The weather was beautiful! We rode hills, of course everything with her is hills.  We went for about 1 hour 40 minutes.

Friday: No workout. I took today off. I’m exhausted. Every workout this week was a struggle for me.  My life was hectic this week and my workouts paid the price.  It’s a hard lesson to learn, but sometimes the best workout is no workout at all… we need to listen to our bodies!