Ironman Arizona Race Week: Raffle Winners

As I pack up all my gear to head to Arizona tomorrow, I want to pause for a moment and acknowledge all of my Smile Train Team Empower supporters and fundraising raffle winners.

As of now, we have raised $9,070.00 for Smile Train, which will provide 36 (and 1/4 more) kiddos with new smiles and new leases on life.

This is so freaking amazing, people! You helped me nearly double my original goal.

You have no idea how much this fills my heart. We are changing 36 lives FOREVER. These kids will now be able to eat, drink, and speak properly, and they’ll be able to go to school and go on to live happy and productive lives. You are making what would have been very difficult lives much brighter.

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Small gestures really can make big difference, especially when we join forces. This is proof.

Now….without further ado…drum roll please…

The winner of the raffle for the $50 Jane restaurant gift certificate and bottle of wine is….LORI ONISHUK.

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The winner of the $25 Amazon gift card for those who donated between $100-$249 is…ERNESTO PAREDES

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The winners of the $100 Amazon gift card for those who donated $250 or more are…JOE & MARIA FAZIO.

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Thank you to EVERYBODY who contributed to my fundraising efforts so far. I will be carrying all your good wishes and awesomeness with me on race day…

“A friend,” Merrill & Geraldine Aaronson, Lucas Meisel & Family, Roosevelt Running Club Spring 2106 team, Roosevelt Running Club Fall 2016 team, The Gaitan Family, Joe & Maria Fazio, The Malina Family, Heidi Jensen, Anonymous, Hensley & James Peterson, The Whelan Family, Cisco Matching Gift, Ana Martinez, DDS, Ernesto Paredes, The Tuckman Family, The Cowgill-Pichla Family, Artaz Heating-Plumbing, John Ellis & Tami Snow, Tim Green & Jo Haemer, Griffin & Chloe Miller & Family, Laura & Chad Bergerson, White & Grube Orthodontics, Betsy Sweda, Kim Shlens, Janet Cook, Tom & Lindy Melberg, Martha & Don Jefferson, Geoff, Jen & Mia Brown, Lori Onishuk, Elda Rudd, Jessica Risko, Whitney Bruice, Ruth Weber, Stella Pynn, Drea Schettler & Tim Strand, Greg Hall, The Rybnicek Family, The Clyne Girls, Kids Corner Coyotes, Claudia Drynan, The Battles Family, Stephanie Trager, McNees Family, Margo Rose, Tammy Gerenser, Jessical Mireles, Leo Schumaker, Chrissy Leonard, Justine Hamilton, The Park Family, Monica DeVreese, Mark & Gina Fennell, Heine-Twins, Erica Storm, Liz Mikkelson, Maude Williamson, Mark & LeAnn Green, Kromann Family, Jill Deering, PhysioPhyx, Christina Jaramillo, Kimberly, Anonymous, The Bartholomew Family, The Voigt Family, Randy Glick & Laura Jensen, The Mansbach Family, Jim Sloan, Namita Patel, Anonymous, Krista Kieding, Stephanie Christoff, Rena Heinrich, Cheryl Hutton, Teri Malinowski, Anonymous, Bruce & Regina Davis, John Herzog, Scott Kadous, Nash Jimenez, Curly Guillen, Carlos Gomez, Anonymous, Anonymous.

If for some reason, you haven’t been able to contribute yet, but would still like to, IT’S NOT TOO LATE! Here’s the link to click to donate: BECKY’S SMILE TRAIN PAGE.

Okay, awesome peeps, it’s back to packing for me. I head out early tomorrow (woohooo!!!) and will be posting on Facebook and Twitter when I can. I’ll be blogging (if the stars are aligned), but no promises…at least until I’m across the finish line. My main focus will be to be in the moment and soak it all up while I’m there.

Until next time…
With love, hugs, and heaps of gratitude,
xo Your Soon-To-Be Iron(Wo)man Becky

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Week 39 of Ironman Training: Why I Tri and Try

Endurance athletes are often asked, “Why?” … as in “Why in the world would you possibly want to do this?” Or “Why would you spend so many of your precious waking hours training?” Or “Why would you put your body through this?”

Everybody’s answers are different, or course, for pursuing an Ironman, an ultra or any other endurance event, and many reasons are complicated, but almost all involve the joy of a challenge and the pursuit of health and fitness while pushing personal boundaries.

My reason for tri’ing involves all of those things, but on a more basic level, it all comes down to one simple reason: I do it because I can.

At 50, I still have the outrageous gift of health, which I never EVER take for granted– especially having a father who only lived to 51 and mother who only lived to 70. Many people take this gift for granted and quickly discover their lives become more and more limited.

Being healthy, trying new things and pushing well beyond my comfort zone makes me feel alive like nothing else. As does being scared poopless and figuring out ways to keep moving forward, despite it. That’s why this Ironman journey is so meaningful to me.

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The other “Why” I get is, “Why would you add fundraising and philanthropy to your plate when you’re already performing a juggling act trying to find enough hours in the day to train while writing and managing all of life’s other joys and responsibilities?”

The simple answer is “Because I can.”

Being able to do something for somebody else, and help make a difference in the world, even if it’s a tiny difference, is really what it’s all about. People helping people–plain and simple.

The bigger question is why wouldn’t you help if you could? Why wouldn’t you help a little cutie pie who had the misfortune of being born with a cleft lip or palate? Why wouldn’t you try to piece together $250 for a 45-minute surgery that would completely change the trajectory of his or her life?

SmileTrainPicWhen I joined Smile Train’s Team Empower, my goal was to meet the team minimum of raising $5,000, which would provide new smiles for 20 kids. Anybody who knows me though, knows that doing the minimum isn’t my style. Like all of you, when I’m in, I’m in 100%. In this case, I’ve decided I’d like to be in 140.6%, in honor of the 140.6 miles I’ll be tackling on November 20th in Tempe. If I meet that goal, that means 28 kids will receive life-changing surgery. How cool is that?

Once again, it comes down to, “If I can do more, why wouldn’t I?”

With just 49 days to go (!!!), I’m reaching out to all of you to ask for your support. If 10 people donate just $25, another child will be able to face his or her future with a bright, confident smile instead of being kept out of school and hidden away in shame. That, my friends, is big stuff. You don’t have to be wealthy to help make a big change in someone’s life. You just have to be willing to say yes when small opportunities arise. This is one of them.

I hope you will consider contributing. Together, we truly can make a difference.

Here’s the link to my fundraising page: BECKY’S SMILE TRAIN. It only takes a minute to donate. And don’t forget, anybody who donates $250 will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card. Those who donate $125-249 will be entered into a drawing for a $25 gift card.

•  •  •

Now that I’ve shared the reasons I tri and try, I thought I’d let you in on a bit of fun news. This email arrived from USA Triathlon on Wednesday. It seems I’ve qualified for the 2017 National Championships in Omaha, Nebraska. Talk about a surprise! I’ve heard Omaha is one of our country’s garden spots, so perhaps it might be time to venture to Nebraska. 🙂 Who else is going to Omaha in August?

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The other exciting thing that happened this week is that my tinted goggles finally arrived! After two races of swimming into the sun completely blind, this totally made my week. It’s the little things, I tell you. You may remember when I first started training, it took me months, and at least 6 pairs of goggles, to find ones that fit my face. These are slightly bigger than my clear ones, which are women’s, but it seems they don’t make tinted ones for women (really?). The dork factor is high with these, but fortunately, they work. Hallelujah!

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As I keep on keepin’ on with my training and fundraising, here’s what last week’s schedule looked like:

Monday: Rest/recovery day
Tuesday: Swim 40 minutes
Wednesday: Run 2 hr 20 min (14 miles)
Thursday: Swim 45 minutes, Bike 1 hour on the trainer
Friday: Run 30 minutes, Swim 30 minutes
Saturday:
Bike 5 hours (80 miles)
Sunday:
Rest/Recovery

Here are a few snaps from the week…

Wednesday’s long run was a hot one, as I intentionally ran in the heat of the day again to get my body accustomed to the challenge. It also gave me the opportunity to dial in my hydration, nutrition, and salt intake–all crucial things when you’re going to be in motion for hours (and hours…and hours).
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It said 79 degrees, but it felt more like 89 to me.
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Besides running in the heat of the day, the other thing I did was run the entire 14 miles on concrete and asphalt to simulate the pounding my body will take on race day. Up until now, I’ve mostly been running on grass and trails to try to avoid injuries, with a few miles of asphalt mixed in along the way. The IMAZ run course is similar to our bike path along Cabrillo Blvd–lots of concrete. After doing this run, I remembered why I hardly ever run on this unforgiving surface anymore. From here on out, I’ll have to be extra smart with recovery. Ice may become my best friend. 🙂
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Luckily the next day was a pool day…
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And a bike trainer day…

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It was nice to be able to spin and crack open this new book, which I’m enjoying.

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Friday was another swim and run day. Sometimes I feel like I live out of my car as I’m always headed somewhere with a swim bag or a bike and always a plethora of water bottles.

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Before my swim, I did a quick shake out run from the Y in Montecito down to the Biltmore and back.

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It was another beautiful, warm fall day.

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Sometimes I missing having real seasons in California, but it’s hard to complain when you get to train on days like this.
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Yesterday morning I set out early on my 5 hour ride. It was a spectacular day and another great opportunity to practice everything I’ll be doing on race day, especially my nutrition, which is the crucial fourth element of triathlon. I’m learning it’s all about timing and focus, ingesting calories and carbs before you’re hungry (not always easy) and staying ahead of dehydration and salt depletion. You can’t just space out and let your mind wander or you’ll pay the price at the end of the bike and/or on the marathon run.

Breakfast was the first order of the day. To properly fuel and avoid gut issues, most people have to get up and eat at least a couple hours before working out so everything has a chance to digest. For me, this meant 4:45. Even two hours early wasn’t quite enough time for my stomach, so it looks like it will be a 3:00 am wake-up call for me on race day.

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I began my ride at East Beach and pedaled down to the Rincon area, 20 miles away, then looped back around and did it all again. The IMAZ bike course is a series of three 37-38 mile loops, so I thought it would be a good idea to simulate the course and also keep working on my mental game. Yesterday’s ride had a few more hills than Tempe, but it’s the flattest course I can find around here. Doing loops also helped with logistics as I could replenish my hydration after the first loop. I apologize for the TMI here, but the biggest challenge with drinking 128 ounces in 5 hours is that you have to pee A LOT. I’m told that athletes just go on their bikes during the race (eeew), but I wasn’t quite ready to practice that just yet, so having a bathroom at East Beach was also appreciated. 🙂
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It was a gorgeous morning, and although a few parts of my body were being cranky, I was still smiling, knowing I’m one step closer to crossing the finish line in Arizona.
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As we head into Week 40 of training, I’m staying focused on the process — one day, one workout at a time, and doubling down on nutrition and all things recovery-related. By focusing on the process, or journey, rather than the outcome on November 20th,  I will stay in the moment and enjoy what I’m doing while I’m doing it–even if it is a sufferfest at times.

I’m also going to focus on raising funds for 8 more kids so they receive life-changing surgery from Smile Train. I can think of no better fuel to keep me going! If you feel so inclined, your contribution would mean A LOT. Once again, here’s the link if you’d like to help make a difference: BECKY’S SMILE TRAIN.

Thanks for your support and generosity and thanks for continually being there for me! Sharing this journey with you has been one of my greatest joys.

Until next time…
xo Becky

Smile Train Ironman Arizona

PS: As always, if you missed any of my previous posts about Ironman training, you can click on the links below:

Kicking off My Journey to Ironman Arizona
Week One of Ironman Training: Believe
Week Two of Ironman Training: The Power of Friends
Week Three of Ironman Training: I Think I Can
Week Four of Ironman Training: Progress
Week Five of Ironman Training: Wind at my Back (and Front) and Peeps by My Side
Week Six of Ironman Training: Baking a Cake
Week Seven of Ironman Training: Courage
Week Eight of Ironman Training: It’s All About the Base
OMG, You did WHAT?! (AKA Sleep Deprivation + Training = Embarrassing Moments)
Week Nine of Ironman Training: Growing Pains
Week Ten of Ironman Training: Trust
Week 11 of Ironman Training: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs
Week 12 of Ironman Training: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken
Week 13 of Ironman Training: Spring!

Week 14 of Ironman Training: Rollercoaster
Week 15 and 16 of Ironman Training: Staying Happy and Healthy

Week 17 and 18 Ironman Training: Inspiration and Purple Rain
Weeks 19 through 21 of Ironman Training: Transitions

Week 22 and 23 of Ironman Training: Holy Epicness…Julie Moss
Week 24 of Ironman Training: Consistency is the Key
Week 25 of Ironman Training: Embracing New Challenges
Week 26 of Ironman Training: Hills, They’re What’s for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Week 27 of Ironman Training: Taking This Show on the Road (Tri-cation!)
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Tri-cation
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Fun Continues
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Rocky Mountain High
Week 28 of Ironman Training: Finishing Aspen Strong
Week 29 and 30 of Ironman Training: Rollercoasters, Crazies, and Comebacks
Week 31 of Ironman Training: New Heights
Week 32 of Ironman Training: 100 Days to Go
Week 33 of Ironman Training: The Art of Recovery and Balance
Week 34 of Ironman Training: The Magic of Firsts
Week 35 of Ironman Training:Chasing the M-Dot with Toughness Training
Week 36 of Ironman Training: Miles of Opportunities
Week 37 of Ironman Training: IMAZ Training Camp and Tempe Tri Race Report
Week 38 of Ironman Training: Much to Celebrate and Carpinteria Race Report

The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step…Kicking off My Journey to Ironman Arizona

It is with a blaze of excitement that I share my next big adventure with you. It’s something I’ve been dreaming of doing since I was a teenager, and after more than three decades, I’ve finally decided to go for it…my first IRONMAN TRIATHLON!

For those of you who may only be vaguely familiar with IRONMAN, it’s considered one of the more challenging multi-sport endurance events in the world, comprising a total of 140.6 miles:  2.4 mile swim, 112 bike ride, and 26.2 mile run. Competitors must finish the race in under 17 hours. The event I’m participating in will take place in Tempe, AZ on November 20, 2016.

One of many long rides I'll be enjoying during the year ahead as I train for my first Ironman.

One of many long rides I’ll be enjoying during the year ahead as I train for Ironman Arizona.

To be quite honest, I’m still pinching myself that I finally hit the registration button after thinking about doing this for 34 years (when I first watched Julie Moss crawl across the finish line on Wide World of Sports in 1982), and I’m slightly terrified that I’ll fail , but I’m far more excited about the epic journey ahead! Woot! Woot! This is a whopper of a birthday present to myself on the 21st anniversary of my 29th year…a gift of time and resources to chase after my dream.

My mantra is one day and one workout at at time. Train smart. Have fun. Enjoy the journey.

On another note, most of you know philanthropy is an important part of my life–on my very “regular person, non-Rockefeller or Bill Gates” level. Like you, I try to do what I can, when I can, and hope it makes a small difference in the world. While I normally raise funds for cancer research, for this race I’ve branched out and joined TEAM EMPOWER, which is affiliated with the race, raising funds for a very inspiring organization called SMILE TRAIN.

Smile Train is an international children’s charity providing free surgery for children suffering from cleft lip and cleft palate. Children born with cleft cannot eat or speak properly, aren’t allowed to attend school or hold a job and face very difficult lives of shame and isolation, pain and heartache. Some children are even abandoned or killed—all because of the way they look. Their clefts usually go untreated because they can’t afford the simple repair surgery that takes as little as 45 minutes and costs as little as $250 dollars.

My goal is to raise $5,000 during IM AZ, which will change the lives of 20 kiddos. This completely tangible goal makes me smile just thinking about it!

I would be honored and grateful if you would consider contributing to my Smile Train fund as I take on one of the toughest athletic challenges of my life. And because I love celebrating your support and generosity…

The first 15 people to contribute $250 will be entered into a raffle for a $100 Amazon gift card. That’s a 1 in 15 chance, and the best part is that you will personally be changing the life of one child and his or her entire family! How cool is that?!?

The first 15 people to contribute $100 will be entered into a raffle for a $25 Amazon gift card. And of course, any amount you are able to donate is appreciated–even if it’s equivalent to a cup of coffee. It all adds up!

HERE IS THE LINK TO MY SMILE TRAIN FUNDRAISING PAGE: http://support.smiletrain.org/goto/beckyaaronson. All donations are 100% tax deductible.

Thanks for considering, and thanks for being part of this epic year ahead!! Your good thoughts will make all the difference in getting me to the starting line!!!

Let the adventure begin!

xo Becky

Popsicles for Nepal Challenge

The news from Nepal is devastating. More than 7,000 people have been killed in the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck on April 25th, and thousands are still missing. Having been to Nepal and spent time reveling in the warmth and beauty of this special country, it’s particularly heartbreaking to see what has happened. That’s why I wanted to do something to help.

Photo of monks in the Thamel area of Kathmandu

The friendly faces of Nepal…monks having tea in the Thamel area of Kathmandu. This was taken during my visit there, long before the earthquake.

Since I’m not related to the Rockefellers or the Bill Gates Family, I had to focus on a more homespun approach. That’s when the “Popsicles for Nepal Challenge” popped into my head.

It started with our Roosevelt Elementary School Running Club. I simply brought four boxes of healthy’ish Popsicles to practice last week, emailed the kids’ parents in advance, then “sold” the Popsicles after practice on a donation basis. I told them that ANY amount was welcome, and if some kids didn’t bring money, I donated for them. This little running club (and their parents) knocked my socks off with their compassion, generosity, and their desire to help the people of Nepal. In less than 10 minutes, we raised nearly $200 for Direct Relief (www.directrelief.org), a humanitarian aid organization based here in Santa Barbara, ranked #1 on the Top 10 List of charities.

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After starting the Popsicles for Nepal Challenge, our Roosevelt Running Club then challenged the Kids Corner Coyotes, another team I help coach on Saturdays. I have goosebumps as I type this….drumroll please…the Coyotes raised a whopping $420 for Direct Relief, thanks to one parent who doubled the kids’ efforts through his company’s matching contributions program. Thank you Kevin! And the topper? He also just matched our Roosevelt Running Club (and then some), so our combined efforts come to over $900–all in 10 minutes time–seriously. The best part of this whole process is showing the kids that small acts of kindness, when combined with others’ small acts of kindness, can turn into something much bigger.

Kids Corner CoyotesPhoto of Kids Corner Coyotes

The Coyotes have now challenged the Santa Barbara Track Club via Facebook and I’ve also challenged the Moms in Motion Running Team, as well as several friend’s and family’s hiking/running/workout groups here, and in different parts of the country. The ball is rolling!

Two hundred dollars (or even $20) here or there may not seem like a lot, but when sending resources to a country that had little to begin with, please know this money will go a long, long way. And Nepal needs A LOT right now.

This challenge takes very little effort. Simply bring some popsicles to your next practice or gathering and see how much people will donate in exchange for a cool, tasty treat. Popsicles are especially refreshing after a good workout! I hope whoever is reading my blog right now will take this challenge, then challenge another group (Girls Scouts, Boy Scouts, book groups, cycling or triathlon groups, theater or dance groups, church groups, people in your office…the list goes on and on). Tweet it, post it on Facebook, and share this simple idea. Together let’s take a small idea and make a big difference in helping get the fabulous people of Nepal back on their feet again.

Photo of prayer flags in Kathmandu, NepalPhoto of the Monkey Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal

Nepal3MonkeyTempleNepal4PedicabPhoto of refridgerators being delivered in Kathmandu. Nepal

#PopsiclesForNepalChallenge #HomespunPhilanthropy #RunnersMakingADifference #PeopleHelpingPeople #KidsRock

Thanks for considering! Please let me know if you take the challenge. I’d love to celebrate your effort! xo

PS: Some of you may know that my husband, Jeffrey, is a professional photographer. He is also raising money for Direct Relief by selling one of his photographs of Nepal on his Facebook page. Here’s the link if you’re interested: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jeffrey-Aaronson/108650762509168

UPDATE: This fabulous 3-person team in Hood River, OR took the Popsicles for Nepal Challenge and raised $124 for Direct Relief, taking us over the $1K mark. Way to go Tate, Abby and Anna!

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