Category Archives: Ironman

Big Brick Weekend

When I woke up this morning, I didn’t think I had 18 in me. In fact, even when I was going to bed last night, I seriously doubted I would run this morning.

My long ride went really well yesterday. We biked the entire IMWI course (112 miles) and I felt great most of the day, despite getting off course 3 different times (might’ve had something to do with the 3 bottles of coke I drank during the ride).


The 112 mile bike course. 5600 ft of elevation gain.

With about 12 miles to go, I missed a turn that lead us 7 miles in the wrong direction. When I finally got back to town for dinner, my blood sugar started to drop fast. I took 2 fast bites of dinner and started to shake. I thought I was going down. I didn’t, thank God, but I wasn’t able to eat more than a banana before I went to bed.

In addition to all of that, I got less than 5 hours of sleep. I’m allergic to something in lake water, which means every time I swim outside, I end up super congested. I couldn’t breathe through my nose at all last night.

Needless to say, when I woke up, I was sure I wasn’t gonna run. Maybe I’d walk some, or jog a few miles. But no way could I go 18. I skipped my normal pre-long run meal, and opted for decaf coffee, a creme dream donut and beef jerky. I planned to hang out with my buddy Tye and support our other teammates most of the day.

But IRONMAN Wisconsin is 4 weeks away, and if I didn’t get this long run in today, with my teammates, I’m not sure if or when I would. So I went. And just kept going.

This is me at mile 13 running along the lakefront path in Madison. Feeling fine. Having a good run with great friends.

I made it 18 miles today. Makes no sense to me.

Glory to God. We are capable of SO MUCH MORE than we think.

Mary walks 18 miles A DAY to provide her family with water. You can read her story here.


What’s wrong with me

I know what’s wrong with you.

It’s a phrase that usually makes me cringe. Nobody likes it when someone points out their flaws. Or worse yet, when your doctor tells you that there’s someone wrong with you.

That’s what happened to me last week.

For the last year and a half, I’ve been struggling with increasing levels of fatigue. I just haven’t been myself.

Right out of the gate…
No. This is not because I run marathons or even because I’m training for an Ironman. Obviously, that was something we considered, but all my doctors LOVE my level of activity. One said “I wish all my patients did what you do.”

So first I corrected my diet. I almost bought some of those expensive health shakes from a friend, but instead, opted to just try eating real food for a change. Dan and I did the Whole30 back in February of last year, which eliminated all potential allergens and irritants – dairy, gluten, sugar, etc. People claim that this diet gives them a level of energy they’ve never felt before. “Tiger blood” they say.  Didn’t do it for me.

So I started chasing down other potential causes. I tried other cleanses. My doctors ran every test humanly possible. Everything came back better than normal. Basically I am the epitome of health ;), but I feel like garbage all the time.

Finally, this spring my doctor suggested I have a sleep study done.

“Maybe you have sleep apnea.”

That’s ridiculous, I thought. Sleep apnea is for people who snore and struggle with their weight.  Plus, sleep studies are expensive. I think I’ll look into some other things.

But after undergoing a series of additional tests and second opinions and still coming up with nothing to explain my malaise, I decided to try it. I had exhausted just about every other option, and was literally tired of it.


Turns out the doctor was right. I have sleep apnea, a condition in which people stop breathing while they sleep. According to my study, I stop breathing up to 16 times an hour while I’m asleep. It’s bad news and can cause a host of other serious issues. But it totally explains why I never wake up feeling refreshed or well rested. It explains my brain fog. It explains my lack of motivation or normal capacity to do the things I want to do.

As crazy as it sounds, I’m so happy about it. It’s so great to know what’s wrong with me! I’m so relieved. I’m relieved to finally have an answer and a way to fix it. I’ll have to start sleeping with a device called CPAP (Continuous Positive Air Pressure) that will keep my airways open and ensure I’m getting enough oxygen throughout the night. Definitely not the sexiest thing and it might not be super comfortable at first, but I’m ok with that. I just want to stop feeling this way and get back to living life to it’s fullest.

All that to say, God’s grace has been sufficient and in my opinion, it’s basically a miracle that I’ve been able to keep training at the level of intensity I do. It’s been a rough couple of weeks. Ironman Wisconsin is less than 5 weeks away, and my biggest training weekends are staring me straight in the face. This weekend, I head back out to Madison to tackle my first ever century ride (100 miles), a swim in Lake Monona, and an 18 mile run. This is getting REAL, folks.

Most days, I feel like doing ABSOLUTELY nothing. But kids in Africa need clean water. I care, and so I run. Relentless forward motion. We will end the water crisis in our lifetime. I’m not stopping, no matter how crappy I feel, until we do.

Please donate – especially this weekend.


RIP Timothy


On July 19, Daniel and I received the very hard news that one of our sponsor children in Bartabwa, Kenya passed away tragically in a flood. We are both heartbroken and without words. Please say a prayer for his family.

This is personal.

We are fortunate enough to have friends and colleagues in the area where our sponsor child Timothy lived and they have been able to help us piece together his story.

One of them was his teacher, Jan Kipsong, she too devastated by the loss of her favorite pupil. She told me that Timothy was a wonderful boy – he was joyful and had many friends. He used to look after his father’s livestock (cows, sheep and goats) and it was in the evening hours, as he was trying to cross a river to take the animals home from grazing, that he was caught up in the “hungry waters” of the flood. It is possible that their livestock did not make it across either, so on top of losing a child, they may have lost their financial security as well.

This is a recent news story from the area where he lives, very likely the same river.

Our kid’s job today was to take our pugs out to the yard and scoop food into their dishes.

Meanwhile, we live in a world where 10-year-olds walk alone for many miles and across dangerous waters to help their family’s survive. Ironically, Timothy lived in an area that lately has been ravaged by drought and famine – one far worse than what we witnessed in the 80’s – but when the rain finally came, it came too fast. A flash flood that should’ve produced hope and replenishment, instead wreaked havoc and stole an innocent life – from ALL of us.


In these situations, it is easy to wonder how a good and loving God could allow such suffering and tragedy.

I believe he doesn’t allow it. We do. People allow it.

Dan and I will be sending a financial gift to help the family and are working to shift the sponsorship to one of Timothy’s siblings. We want to walk as closely as we can with them in their grief, knowing that “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted” and we want to be close to Him.

You can help by sponsoring a child in Timothy’s community. There are currently 273 children in Bartabwa who are waiting to be sponsored. Child sponsorship is an opportunity for you to build a relationship with one special child and help their whole community have access to vital resources like clean water, nutritious food, healthcare, education, economic opportunities, and more. Let me know if you’re interested.

You can also make a one-time donation in honor of Timothy to provide clean, safe water his community. Development begins with clean water. Follow the link here to make a donation.…

We love you Timothy and we will continue to fight for you.


19512533_10155540584737835_1220521423_nOh yeah! 72 miles DONE!
  • 69.1 miles on the bike – not sure where or how I lost that .9. I did make one wrong turn, but I accidentally added a mile on at the beginning when I forgot my sunglasses/bug guards and had to return home. So who knows what happened, but for the first time EVER I did not feel compelled to ride around the block a few more times just to get to seventy even. 69.1 is GOOD for today. 🙂

  • 2101 ft of elevation gain. The Madison course will have more than this during the first 70 miles of Ironman, but this is good practice.
  • + a 30 minute brick run (right after the ride)
The wind was reckless – 18+ mph – which for whatever reason, I wasn’t expecting this morning. It seemed like it was hitting me from every direction, but those 10 miles through Lake Elmo were especially harrowing. I never got much of a break and it really slowed me down. Whatevs – One more epic bike ride closer to 2017 IRONMAN Wisconsin.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how good running feels after these long rides. At first, it’s weird – my legs feel all wobbly and my knees are stiff, but usually within the first mile everything falls back into place and I’m able to find a comfortable pace. It’s been awesome to have Dan join me for those few miles, after being alone on the bike for so long. It’s very welcomed company.
All in all, it was a GREAT day because a gift of $140 came in from a very generous friend around mile 20 and it was just the encouragement I needed. I’d ride long every day if I knew 3 kids would receive a life free from long, dangerous walks and sickness from dirty water.
For now… I’m at a 3,300 calorie deficit, and I’ve got a 15 mile run scheduled tomorrow. Time to eat everything.

Take me deeper

I suppose it’s time for an update. There’s no big news. Just subtleties in the story that might be worth noting.

First of all, my feet are fine. Thank you. That’s still the #1 question I get these days.

Training is… going.
After returning from my weekend in Madison… when I was finally done with my pity party… I came back resolved. I knew what I needed to do, so I did it. I had my hardest training week yet in front of me – 13 hours and 50 minutes of training required. I’m proud to say I completed 13:55. I gave myself an A.


Thankfully, this past week was a recovery week – only 10 hours required – though that got cut way short due to a stomach bug I woke with in the middle of the night on Tuesday. That forced me down to a complete rest for two days – which I don’t feel bad about. Not. One. Bit.


I really hate the red though.


This day was funny.

I did a couple more open water swims. I really love being outdoors  – I mean, look at this! This is 2 miles from my house. Just gorgeous. MN summers are the BEST.

I’m still terrified of the dark depths of the lake. I will acknowledge that it’s a bit of an irrational fear, but it’s real for me and I have to overcome it. I told a friend earlier this week that it’s like God took me at my word when I sang the song “Oceans”…

~ Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander ~

Now the question is, will I take God at his?

~ And my faith will be made stronger
in the presence of my Savior ~ 

I do know this. There is a massive work being done on my heart. So big that I can’t even wrap my head around it yet. I mean, there’s a faith vs. fear/testing/dependence element to this, for sure. I expected that. But this other stuff… Dang.

It sucks. It’s like I’m in a furnace, undergoing a refining process – a burning away of some pretty nasty impurities and junk that’s rising to the surface. I didn’t sign up for this part.

I’m struggling.

Good thing I have this live-in pastor who pointed me to Jesus. That was so smart of him.

The Parable of The Vineyard Workers
The Parable of The Lost Son

So I’ve got some soul searching ahead of me.

Maybe I’ll read up on the refining process – iron ore, in particular?

And Leviathan… I’m guessing there might be something there for me too. 😉

God is at work.
In me.
And in kids in Africa.

Will you let him work in you too?

Madison Training Weekend #1 in 10 Tweets

Here’s a recap of my weekend in 10 tweets.

  1. Traveling to Madison for two days of #Ironman training requires a full-sized suitcase to carry all your swim, bike and running gear.
  2. When facing into your toughest challenges, you NEED a friend like @JohnCrosland who sticks with you and can handle your dark side. #gofarthertogether
  3. The hills on Friday’s 22-mile course were unrelenting! I hate them. Thankful for @Kali & @Tye’s kindness & encouragement. #ironcouple

    The before pic. There is no after. 

  4. After the ride, I’m pretty beat up, mentally and physically. I’m drowning in doubt. I breakdown in my hotel room and want to give up. #whydidIsignupforthispost
  5. @JulieBierschenk & @LauraTalento show up at the hotel at 10:30 and by 11pm, we’re crying with laughter. SO glad they came when they did.  #smileyface17757089_10155292392173933_363619257264319610_n
  6. First time in a wetsuit. First open water swim. 40° temps. You can tell by the look on my face I am terrified. But I got in there & did it. #proud
  7. Saturday morning brought wind, rain, and bike problems on the #Ironman course and forced us to call it early. Feeling super #defeated.
  8. I LOVE my #family. They are my heart.

  9. Friends showed their love from afar and 7 more kids got clean water! #worthit
  10. My 3 biggest takeaways – relationship, humility, and resolve. “I’ll do better. I promise you, I’ll do better. I must do better.” @janekipsang  #teamworldvision


16 weeks to go.
Every child deserves clean water. That’s why I tri. Please give generously.


Drought: A prolonged absence of something. An extended shortage. Water related.

Last week was a recovery week for Ironman training – a prescribed period of reduced training intensity and volume to rest and replenish. Only 9 hours and 15 minutes of training was prescribed on the plan. Only 9 hours… I know, right?

I was thankful. It was going to be an extremely busy week at work. I hosted an event for 250 people on Thursday night to celebrate the beginning of the Twin Cities Marathon training season, and then flew out to Detroit on Friday morning to help with the Global 6K, where over 900 people were in attendance. So, with everything going on, I fully expected to miss some workouts and I was OK with that  – to this point, I’ve been super consistent, not missing a single workout for 3 weeks in a row.

What I didn’t factor into the equation was a) how exhausting event prep and execution is and b) how much even short trips wear me down. While my IM training was significantly reduced, I really didn’t rest much and sleep was at a minimum. My recovery week did not provide me with much replenishment.

So it’s Sunday night, and I’m staring down a new week of training, back to the full-on grind.


This is what I have to look forward to this week. 12 hours & 45 mins.

I feel
and alone.

It’s drought season.

I’m looking at the week ahead of me and questioning everything. To be honest, I don’t want to do it. The motivation is just not there. I haven’t received an ounce of financial support in 3 weeks, so what’s the point? I’m not doing this because I have a dream of finishing an Ironman. If people in Africa aren’t receiving clean water, why bother?

But I committed to doing this, and people have already given very generously. For that, I am so thankful. That is not lost on me. Not at all. But in these moments of radio-silence, when I’m not receiving those blessed emails or texts that scream “SOMEONE DONATED!!” … I feel alone. And the negative voices takeover. They say…

“Nobody cares anymore.”
“Nobody cares about your training anymore.”
“Nobody cares about YOU anymore.”
“Nobody cares about kids in Africa.”

“Give up.”
“It’s not worth it.”

Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?

So I look to Jesus.
Because apparently he knows something about abandonment.
In the midst of unimaginable physical pain, abandoned by all but a few of his friends and followers, and facing his imminent death, when it would be almost impossible for anyone to think clearly, he called out to God, “Why have you forsaken me?”

And yet, through all of this, he endured out of deep love and devotion for you and for me. Strangely, he had hope. He knew that God was going to do something amazing. That, although he couldn’t see it and he certainly wasn’t feeling it, there was joy coming. He knew that because of God’s promise, there was resurrection and LIFE on the other side – for him and for all of us.

Mother Teresa saw these lonely experiences as invitations to unite herself more closely with Jesus in his abandonment on the cross and with the poor, who also feel abandoned.

Drought in KenyaIMG_5638

Speaking of the poor, there’s a severe drought in Kenya currently and it is affecting the community where my sponsor child, Daniel, and his family live. In Baringo County, household distances to water is now three times longer than usual (the usual is 6 kilometers, or 3-4 miles). What does this mean for Daniel? Is he missing school because he has to walk farther? How is this affecting their food supply? Are they being forced to drink dirty water again? Have they been sick?


Does Daniel’s mama, Egla feel abandoned? To have seen so much progress in her community since 2007 when World Vision began their work there, wide-spread development and growth, clean water flowing and her children thriving, feeling blessed and hopeful, and then this happens? The water goes away. Is she wondering where God is now?

There’s a lot I don’t know, but I do know this – if my family didn’t have clean water, I would do whatever it takes to get it for them, and I would be on my knees everyday, praying that God would provide somehow.

This drought has been declared a national disaster in Kenya, and yet, we don’t hear about it in the news. It’s a silent killer that’s easy for the rest of the world to ignore. But it’s taking the lives of nearly 1,000 children under the age of 5 every day. That’s more than all the war and all the violence we see in the news today.

It remains the #1 preventable cause of death.
The #1 preventable cause of mothers and fathers suffering through the loss of a child.

Today, I’m writing to Daniel and Egla, and I’m praying this prayer from Psalm 63 with and for them.

O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.
I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory.
Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you!
I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy.

And our faith – their faith being far greater than my own – will remind us that God is good and there is a joy coming, so we must endure.

Oh God, pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; Pour out your Spirit on your offspring, and your blessing on your descendants.

$250 will provide clean water for a family of 5 in Africa.