Bree Wee

Running Through First Grade

By August 8, 2016 life, triathlon

imageNow that retirement is 100% in full swing and I survived the first week of life as a First Grade Teacher, I should write.  It’s really different.  Really.  Going from peeing my pants anytime I want during 9hr days racing to holding my bladder and making up pee-pee dances at the board pretending its part of the lesson is so foreign to me.  And the shoes, I have no choice but to be barefoot as soon as the bell rings.  Run shoes will always be the best shoes…sorry Cinderella, that glass slipper isn’t comfy.  Lunches no longer include gels, bars, or sports drinks.  I wear real bras, not sporty kind.  And I have new friends, teacher ones, that I really like.  It’s fun.  I like it.  I really like being a teacher.

imageI’ve gotten notes from retired pro friends checking in on me the past couple months.  Has the depression hit you Bree?  So you getting fired up to crush the 35-39 age group?  You going to start training for Ultraman now?  Nope to the depression, not even close.  I feel happier inside than I think I ever did racing.  I loved the wins and everything that came along with sport (and plenty of it I miss),  but internally it just feels right having this change of direction for my life.  As for the age group smashings.  That was dumb.  If I wanted to be crushing anything I would have tried to keep racing at the top of my sport.  It is all for fun now.  And I mean fun.  I show up and blow up (because I don’t really train anymore), I get to wear whatever I want, (although I still manage to put on some of my favorite sponsored gear because those companies will always be family).  And I honestly don’t mind losing.  That part I wasn’t expecting to be so easy.  Part of me thought maybe I’d be sad getting passed by friends that couldn’t keep up in the past.  But I’m not at all.  Standing on top of podiums will always be special, in fact they kind of are more special now because they are earned while holding down a real life job and not just swim-bike-run.  As for Ultraman (I guess that seems to be the direction pros go after shorter, faster stuff winds down), ultra running, ultra swimming, cross country biking, and Ultraman…nah, not for me, at least not yet anyways.


How’s school?  It’s awesome.  I mean, I really like my class.  Wish I could show you all their cute faces, but…I can’t on my own social media.  I’m First Grade inclusion.  20 students of every single emotion and heartbeat under the sun.  It’s much different from Third Grade (the grade I left when I began triathlon life).  My first couple days were full of hurdles as I pretty much set the bar high for my kiddos and told them not to fear making mistakes and that they must try…no blanks…on anything.  Some of them were just not ready (they are 6 after all).  But by Friday, my entire class nailed the routine and found that little bit of courage to not fear what will happen in our class, ever.  And I found that children really will rise to the occasion, they will meet you where you tell them they belong, and they are capable of more than we sometimes give them credit for.image  And to celebrate…14 of my students got 100% on their first ever Spelling test.  They were so scared on Monday when I introduced the words and said YOU WILL ALL BE ABLE TO SPELL THEM.  Friday we also graphed Skittles…because I needed to make counting funner! It was Friday after all.  I could go on and on about school. The days get really long for me as I’m still learning the new grade level, in fact I was one of the nerdy teachers that stayed late after school every day to redo, revamp, and change up my lesson plans. It’ll be a lot of going back to the drawing board for me until I can find that balance between letting them be 6 and taking everything we are to teach & make it worth learning to them.  Not just another thing they have to do…

…And sports?  I said I’d quit counting my swims, bikes, and runs once I get to ten.  I have just recently made 10 of each sport.  Yes, I took that much time off, been that busy, and pursued other things.  But now I’m dabbling again.  90% of my runs are with Kainoa next to me on his bike.  The swims were going well but now once a week is all I can manage since I get to work so early and swim practice doesn’t start till 6:15.  The bike…been on the tri bike one time in 3 months and that was for a local Hilo race.  It hurt so, so, so bad.  I blew up.  I have spun around on the road bike a handful more times though, like to the market for veggies, with Sarah while she trained for her Ironman, and I rode up Mauna Kea in a race. image I was pretty sure I’d be walking up the hill.  I even asked my friends boyfriend for a ride (he was in the escort car) but he left me…made me ride.  It was a day full of talking to God and pleading to not let me fall over or off and to forgive me for signing up for 4hr races that I had about 40 minutes of training for.  It is a big fat lie when people tell you, “It’s like you’re tapered.” No, no it is not.  Not at all.  You are called out of shape after about 2 weeks.  This particular race was yesterday (3 months since I retired and 12 bike rides total in 3 months… I confess to crying, to cussing, and to wanting to sucker punch whoever had the bright idea I should just do it, for fun. Funny how it was fun after I quit hurting.

imageI also ran a half marathon. Won that because I think the other girls felt bad for me.  Signed up for the Volcano half (third half marathon of the season) just so I can get the triple.  What a weirdo I am.  Participated in the Greg Cameron Biathlon.  That was very cool.  He was a special man on our island who lost his battle with cancer a couple years ago.  My past couple triathlon seasons I wasn’t home or able to race it so this year I made sure to join.  The run was all in the sand, that hurt.  I puked.  Today was the most fun though, Kaloko 6.5 mile climb, straight up, the day after biking Mauna Kea Sea to Stars race, the “Dirty Double.”  I loved it so much because it was all mental.  Being out of “race shape” is no excuse to be out of good mental shape.  I never want to lose that part of me that believes in being strong in the face of adversity, I always want to be a fighter, a girl who just doesn’t give up.  Truthfully, my body isn’t built like an Elite athlete and I didn’t come from High School or college level sports, I just never quit and I think that’s what helped me make it where I landed in sport.  For now, I am thoroughly enjoying doing everything because it’s a God given passion in my heart and no other intention connected to it.

That pretty much sums up my first week of being a First Grade teacher and navigating life as a girl with a pair of run shoes. Ps… Ironman Dublin 70.3 still sends me emails, I think they are assuming ill be racing next weekend.  To any of my sporty friends that are racing it, please send me lots of pictures, its the race I was most looking forward to this year.  Funny how different life is now yet I love it just the same.


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A Change of Heart…

By June 17, 2016 life, love, Sunday, triathlon

How do I write this? Where does one even attempt beginning to write 8 years of her sporting life into a single blog post? It’s not a beginning or an end, just a change.  Life has shown me many times that change brings unforeseen opportunity, usually far greater than we imagine.  Of course change of any kind takes courage, so I’m doing my usual dance with change at the moment, embracing it while bracing myself…

imageI have officially traded in my days of temporary tattooing PRO on my calf for teaching First grade. Since word caught wind of my new path I’ve been called everything from a quitter to an inspiration.  I prefer just a girl who follows her heart, fearlessly, because that’s what I did when I left my Third grade classroom 8 years ago after earning my PRO card and that’s what I’m continuing to do with my return to the classroom.  And I’m happy.  Deep down, to the core of me, as strong as the fire that burns in everything I’m passionate about-happy.

imageI took the job, then I took my name off the Ironman Cairns start list, the Cebu 70.3 start list, and the Dublin 70.3 start list. Just like that I changed my whole life at the same speed and with the same courage as  I changed it stepping into the world of professional triathlon.  While I have no regrets, I will absolutely be missing Dublin!!! I’ve been to OZ and Philippines 5x each (I know! So fortunate!), but Dublin has been a bucket list country since watching Leap Year in 2010! That movie has me convinced I should visit, and so I shall…one day…just not as a professional triathlete.  That’s the beauty of it all, change doesn’t stop us from dreaming and doing, setting goals, or living life to the fullest, it’s just different.

imageI have one journal kept for each of my 8 years on the pro “tour”.  They all hold memories, moments too unbelievable if I told you, fears (like a race result determining if you pay your bills or not), goal times, ridiculous stories of training days gone all wrong, hilarious travel stories that would make for a good comedy flick, soggy pages from crying while homesick, worries about injuries and the mood that accompanies days sidelined, tremendous homestay letters that I hope never to forget, and words jumping off a page in celebration over a victory.  And yet I’m struggling just what to say…

imageSo why this change of life direction here and now? Mostly Kainoa.  He’s about to turn 10 and when I look at him I don’t see my baby anymore, he’s a boy and I know before long he will be a man.  Motherhood has always been my first job and I’m finding it harder to excel at both triathlon and single mom life without one of them paying a price.  And then there is this feeling deep within me that I should be doing something to make a difference in this world, for me crossing finish lines doesn’t fill that void the way it used to.  At first, when Kainoa was super young and I was racing so well it was encouraging.  I felt like I was part of the first generation of professional triathlete moms to show you can live a dream and keep children top of your priority list.  In some tiny way it felt like I was making a difference as moms would send in notes from all over the world that they have begun exercising, or will attempt a marathon, or go for Ironman.  They fueled me and I am so grateful for all those women who shared with me that somehow they were inspired.

imageThe past two seasons I’ve been working part time and trying to race full time, the classroom really helped me to keep going a while longer in sport at this level (both financially and emotionally), but the classroom also took away from the time and energy I needed to devote to training, resting, and racing.  To compete at such a high level you have to be all in.  Invest every drop of yourself, time, tears, sweat, money, and motivation. There are days nobody is cheering you on or at your side for the lonely mile, everything wants to say no more, but you say give me more.  It’s a really, really special moment to reach that level.  I admit, it gives you that feeling of truly making the most of your abilities, talents, and your mind.  Mostly your mind.  I think that’s why I hung on for so long, I fear ever growing complacent or losing my ability to dream.  But I finally reached a place where doing everything to my fullest potential was causing me to lose.  Not just races.

imageI kept having the reoccuring feeling that I have to give back and give more.  SO I helped some friends with their coaching gig.  That was truly amazing, as one of the guys they had me coach took over 30 minutes off his marathon time and qualified for Boston.  I got to coach a complete couch potato and be the annoying girl in her face to move and eat well, that was unreal!  She ran a marathon!  Slowly I found coaching was just not for me. And the more I was in the class the more I felt it call me home.  Not just for the steady income (which I am really excited to have a regular paycheck again after 8ys of living off race earnings and bonus checks…which is scary!), and it will be nice to be at Kainoa’s school during his last year of Elementary School.  But I feel so needed.  Completely, selflessly, entirely, needed.  You go home spent after a day in the class (I used to whine that it is more tiring than a 10 mile run), but you always leave knowing you made a difference in the life of a child (or class) even if you don’t see it.  Finish lines lost that feeling over time, for me.  Don’t take me wrong, or think I lost my belief in the beauty and power of a finish line, I BELIEVE!  Absolutely!  I am just ready to cross them differently now, not as my job, only as my passion.  That said, I have (of course!) already been plotting out races for fun with dear friends that I haven’t ever “raced” with.  Like run Boston with Sara.  And Escape from Alcatraz swim with Wendy.  Because First grade teachers can race, too!

imageThrough triathlon I have been given so, so much.  Strangers have become friends from all over the world, I have seen the world!  I accomplished more in those 8 years because I dared to leave my classroom than I would have if I stayed.  With tears of gratitude for my sport, I lived out a real life bucket list.  3 passports full of places I experienced outside of a book, a phone filled with photos of people of every religion, culture, language difference, who are now some of my best friends.  Perhaps that is the most special part for me, especially with the condition of our world now, the people from everywhere all coming together as athletes without judgement.  Love.   And the coaches!  I have been overwhelmed by those that took the time to help me, guide me, teach me, lead me.  Everyone needs someone to believe in them when everything is on the table and I call myself blessed for having more than one.  But I have one who changed it all for me.

imageNot Coach Bo from my Junior year of HS when I tried out for track and he said I was too slow because I couldn’t break a 6 minute mile, well buddy, I went on to break a 5 minute mile!  He was my second favorite because that day he put me on hurdles (as the shortest girl and only for 5 meets before I was kicked off the team for surfing too much).  The thing is, he introduced me to hurdles, the very real fact that the rest of my life I would be running hurdles and I had better go over every single one of them if I want to make anything of my life.  No going around, no going under them, over every single time, even if you are short.  Thank you Coach Bo, you are right, life is a series of hurdles…

imageCoach Steve.  He has a list of accolades longer than this LONG BLOG POST.  The swim coach for Kona Aquatics if you aren’t familiar.  I showed up to practice in a two piece Billabong bikini from the surf shop, ill never forget the day!  Lane 5.  The middle of the pool, not slow but not fast.  I used to watch Sheri Lehmer and Mike McCary underwater (Lane 1-ers) and dream of being over there.  Coach must have believed in me long before I ever believed in myself (or even thought about triathlon).  One day after practice he was helping me with my stroke and when I got out he told me I swim all heart.  That statement stayed with me every single start line.  I didn’t have the good stroke or the body of an Elite athlete, but I was all heart.  He has had his laughs over my technique, not sure he wants to claim that he’s my swim coach it’s that bad, but he did get me to lane 1.  And he sat me down the day before my first Ironman and told me, “Bree, put yourself in a cocoon.  You can see out at everything going on but nobody can see in”.  I had tears, because that’s exactly how I felt.  Intimidated, scared, and I didn’t want anyone to see me for fear of judgement.  But I wanted to race, with all my heart I wanted to race in my backyard.  The World Championships!  I had no experience at any big race, I was a big fish in a small pond.  But there we were.  He told me to line up on the very front right, nearest to the pier, my home spot, my ocean.  He told me I could swim a :57 for my first Ironman if I keep to myself.  And I did, 57! I got out 6th girl overall, even the pros, as a rookie surfer girl and went on to finish the race as 13th girl overall and fall into a pro card.  That’s how my story happened.  Nearly by accident, because one coach told me I am all heart…

imageAs for support and sponsorships, I was fortunate the first couple seasons to be on salary.  The salary from REV3 made it possible with having just gone through divorce and leaving my classroom to race as a professional.  Despite the rumors, I was never given a single penny of child support, I was not that mom living off her ex to fly around the world.  Me and Kainoa made it just fine those early years.  My first pro race (Ironman Japan) I was 2nd and the bonus money kept the dream going…it just kept going.  Then a string of bad races I lost all my sponsors but gained some new ones.

image  K*Swiss was a huge part of sport around that time and they took good care of me, my racing was going well, too. I admit to them being my favorite sporty clothing, I loved my run gear and the fun sporty dresses!  But another low and more loss.  That’s the reality of sport, you jump the hurdles as Coach Bo would say.  Me and Kainoa learned to live a very simple life and appreciate everything.  We also had great seasons where he was out of country with me!  In many ways I felt I was giving him a good life, he had more experiences than “things”. 2014 was my best season.  I raced 6 Ironmans that year (along with shorter races!)  One of them I won, the rest were all top 5’s, and I qualified and raced Kona, having a great day after having literally raced every month of my life and an Ironman every other.  I finished that year with my PR over in OZ…my 9:08 which I was happy with despite being on the side of the road for 8 minutes.  Thought for sure I’d break a 9hr mark. That season was made possible because of Kona community, yes I was winning good money, but it was more so the town backing me. Bike Works, The Club, Bioastin, my brother n’ law (now running Velofix Hawaii) taking care of my bike, my sister helping with Kainoa after school, and a few others giving me flight miles and some financial help so I could teach less.  It was pretty amazing, as they say, it takes a community!  That said, there is another huge reason I feel like my time has come to go back to the class, I want to give back to the community that has given so much to me.

imageI owe sincere “thank you” to so many people all over the world for being in my corner.  It would take a day to list all the help given to me and I want to post this before another person asks me “When’s your next race?”.  I’ll share my massive mahalos soon.  Till then, thank you…all over the world.  PS… Shared a few memories below…


The first training partners I ever had.  Kawika and Lopaka.  We were team “Oreo” and they took me on my first runs and rides all over the island.


My first Ironman win.  Louisville and Kainoa and my mom were at the finish line.


Jumping from a plane the morning after Ironman New Zealand, a break through race for me and Dan Halksworth signed us up for this! haha.

image Crossing the finish line with Kainoa after my first Ironman.  I was in shock and cameras and reporters were everywhere. They told me I broke the amateur course record and that I can go on to be the first professional female from Hawaii if I choose.  I didn’t believe it, I just wanted a cheese burger.  I also got a penalty that day.  4 minutes for passing a group of men on the right side (not the left like I should have) going up Scenic hill.  I clearly knew nothing about the rules and didn’t pay any attention in the prerace meeting.  In my 8yr career I passed every single drug test and never got a single drafting penalty on the bike.  To the girls coming into triathlon, this is a wonderful sport, keep it clean.  Protect it.


Cutting coco after Ironman Mexico.  One of my favorite races in the world!

imageIronman South Africa. Seriously, one of the best breaths ive ever taken!


The Hawaii Ironman moms.  Rachel Ross and Ingrid Rolls, they were the women in sport that I looked up to most when I first began triathlon.  They won every race and it always became Oahu VS Big Island, they made me so much better.

imageTim Marr, he was the men’s Hawaii pro.  For all my career it was him and I (but he lives on oahu) giving this triathlon a crack at putting athletes from the island on the map.  He recently retired and just raced Hawaii 70.3 as 35-39 age grouper…see ya there, Timmy boy! To the up and coming triathletes of Hawaii, yes we live in the middle of the Pacific away from the races we should be at, where its expensive to travel from, and where marketing us is harder making sponsorship difficult, but you can…we did.

image My first Ironman and my second favorite bike I ever had.  I love the Ceepo most, not just because I still ride for them, but the company is brilliant, too!  The Scott is second.  As for shoes, personally I think NB is best, and that’s after having run in A LOT of shoes over the years.


The race I went the hardest at.  Ironman Canada 2008.  I was punched in the face in the swim, flat tire on the bike, mechanical up a hill, then bees in my helmet.  I went from 2nd to 8th after the flat.  So I rode as hard as I could, throwing up every where to come back into 2nd where I couldn’t even move. I lost all my calories and blew up so bad that I fell over into an aid station and was taken away in the ambulance.  I went on to win Ironman Canada in 2014, more patient.  Came of the bike in 3rd, 8 minutes down, but ran smart and patient and won the race by 5 minutes.  I heard Coach Steve in my head, all heart…

imageWenders, she is the first person I told when I began to entertain my desire to go back to full time teaching, she understood.  She is probably the friend that has been most supportive outside of my family for all these years in sport.  She made me keep it fun, reminded me to not be a princess or B-word, never take it for granted, and that at the end of every day to be myself.  She has also willing saved me from a shark.

imageThese guys, the Nelsons! My sister and brother n law have been amazing throughout all of it, they feed me, let me shower at their house, and have done my laundry (when I purposely leave the stinky run outfit there).  Mostly helping with Kainoa, but always helping me.  Thank you for being my biggest help. Love you.

image Jill Savege! She was the very first female triathlete I ever met, the Canadian Olympian was on island racing our Lavaman and won the thing.  I have never been so inspired in my life and I promised I’d return the following year to race it as my first Olympic Distance.  She went on to become a mom, I went on to follow in her footsteps.  One of my best races was taking down her course record at Lavaman, it took all I had and felt like if anyone was going to take it from her I wanted it to be me.  It’s still standing over the years and feels like my thank you gift to her for winning the day I met her and encouraging the surfer girl that I could do the same.

imageThese moments. The feeling of everything you worked so hard for coming together.  Never a doubt in my mind that I gave the past 8 years all my heart.  To my future First graders, be ready, I’m coming for you whole heartedly and you will all be super readers and life learners and goal getters!

image Splish.  Like I said, I’ll do a more full length mahalo later, but Splish has to go now.  My first ever sponsor.  Recently I received my 100th suit from them, the most trusted and fun suits I’ve been fortunate to race in.  And each and every suit of mine were then handed down to the Kealakehe High School swim team. That’s how long they last!  I felt as if everything given to me should be given to the next girl in line, that was another special thing about all the free gear, giving it all away!

imageMy Kainoa.  He literally went across the finish line of my first race, was at the finish line of both my Ironman wins (along with my mom, thank you mom!), and was the reason I stayed in sport for this long, he was my courage.  I wanted to show him to believe in the beauty of a dream and to work through the roller coasters that they are.  We certainly shared this dream and through triathlon he also racked up passport stamps and good memories.

image With all my heart, thank You God, for all you showed me, gave me, taught me, and the ways you used me during my days as a professional triathlete.  I truly learned what it means to “count it all joy”…

Love Bree.

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Grass Rootsy Racing…

By April 26, 2016 Sunday, triathlon

I finally, finally, finally got to race the Captain Cook Challenge! But is it a race if I didn’t use my race wheels? Or a fancy helmet? And I wore the sports bra on the bike that wind tunnel testing clearly states is the least speedy? (If you have small boobies I disagree, mine didn’t fill with air in the cleavage area the way the wind tunnel test shows). I call it a race because the “effort” was there.  That’s my theory, sometimes it’s all about finding that effort, that feel, that emotion.  You can have on your fancy bike accessories and be in the kit of champions, but if you’re missing your race “effort” that just sort of sucks.  Excuse the word, I don’t even allow Kainoa to say that, but I couldn’t find one I like better to fill in the blank.  And I’ve been struggling to not suck at feeling my race “effort”…

Back to this Captain Cook Challenge. It’s a triathlon thats been gracing the Big Island since 1983! History! Similar to the way Ironman was founded, a bet of athleticism, a challenge, except down South at Kealakekua Bay. The way Ironman began is still the way the Captain Cook Challenge happens every year.  It’s grass rootsy, it’s special, it was almost extinct till Carl Koomoa took it over in 1994. And it’s one of those races that every year for the past 8 years I’ve said “I’m going to do that next year”, but haven’t till yesterday.  Truth is, it scared me.  I’ve got a fear of down hills since wiping out at Honolulu Tri years ago racing down a hill.  I still have piece of rock in my right butt cheek to remind me of that moment. So I make up excuses every year, similar to this year when I only decided to put myself on the start line the afternoon before.  My excuse this year was, “It’s 3wks before Ironman Texas, I shouldn’t be running up the trail and risk injury having two left feet”. But then my coach, God bless coaches, who often know what we need, step up for us.  I needed to race, to just get that “effort” happening.  I’ve been very lackluster, a bit of going through the motions, quiet frankly missing my game face to be honest, when it comes to racing.  Captain Cook Challenge became my personal quest for rediscovering the parts of me that feel the effort I maybe tucked away in all my busyness of who really knows what. Sucking at race effort?

imageOnce again, back to this race. It began so calm setting up our 3 transition areas, yes 3. Everybody was smiling, happy, appreciating how beautiful our surroundings were. We laughed, I sat on the ground talking story with 3 men volunteers till it was literally go time.  I got worried this was the absolute least possible way for me to rid my ability of sucking at finding race effort.  It was just so chill.  And got even more chill when I tried to convince one of the fast age group boys who was swimming a relay for his dad to pull me through the swim so I can save my energy to beat his dad up the hill! Seriously, Bree!?  Then Carl began his prerace order of business, reminding us of the history of the course, all those before us, and how the little town (despite roads being open to traffic) embracing the event every year. Really! It’s not everyday very small, old school towns, embrace chaos of triathlon or triathletes.  Once I heard that, I just sort of felt better about being on my bike down South, and then a single butterfly swept over me.  I was going to race…

We all dangled in the water not exactly sure when the horn would blow, only that it was coming.  I was licking my goggles and swiping spit in them when it sounded.  Whoops. And I took off.  The race is a mile swim across Kealakekua Bay, a 2 mile run straight up a trail (literally no flat section at all), then a 32 mile bike, finished with a 4 mile run on the hottest black top road on the West side of the island.  It’s truly egg cooking and bacon frying temperatures on this strip of road in the middle a lava field.  I had clear water and nobody touching my feet which concerned me that I must have false started or be taking a long line.  Except I swim the bay often enough to know the quickest route to the other side.  Turns out a bunch of swimmers swam near the coastline where it’s a little shallower and you can see the bottom.  Straight across (my route) is the deepest of waters, you see nothing and if not familiar can be freaky.  Since I was solo I made it my job to work hard as if I was chasing the lead pack of girls (which is my usual Ironman position, between packs, often solo). It worked wonders, I embraced it, didn’t allow myself to get lazy with the lead nor be cocky knowing the day had much more to go.

imageUp the hill, about 1500 ft elevation gain in 2 miles, my “effort” or not sucking plan was to obviously not trip, but also not let our islands currently fastest triathlete (Dave Wild) get by me so I could copy his lines on the bike down hills.  A black dog that came out of nowhere was at the start of the trail and ran all the way up with me! I’m most certain it was my guardian angel showing me where to step so I wouldn’t stumble and fall.  Adam passed me first, which was great for me as he’s a strong runner (and better trail runner than me) he became my rabbit to get further away from Dave. Brilliant! Except I almost fell on my face just as Wild ran by nearing the top of the hill! Passed Adam back, thanked him, and got out of transition just after Wild. Yes!! Yes!! Told Adam to hurry up, I wanted his bike company.  As soon as the first sketchy part of road came Wild was gone! Literally, gone! He swallowed my swim lead, chewed my head start on the trail run, and now was out of sight! He owns the South Loop hills as this is where he began his triathlon career.  I’m a tri n’ true Kona girl.  First bike ride ever was good old Ali’i Drive…flat.  Enough of that, I lost Adam and put the same effort into the bike that I did the swim.  “Don’t slack because you are alone, but don’t get cocky that you are up front”.  I just kept pushing.  I was scared of the down hills, seeing 47mph and knowing mongoose and chickens run out at any given time down South, I didn’t want hit one and get more rocks in my butt.image So I made a deal with myself, because I was obviously now facing my fears of Captain Cook Challenge and racing it after all these years, ride a little cautious down hill but go crazy up! Like throw-up effort pace.  And I did.  One of the volunteers helping with timing told me Wild put no time into me on the 4 mile climb up Napoopoo.  I thank Grant and the Thursday group ride guys for all those climb days! And one of the lady volunteers told me I look smiley and pretty on on my bike as I passed and Wild looked like a Wildman, I had no idea what that meant but I took it as another sign that I’m only loosing time to him on the downs, not flats or ups, and that amidst my hopes of finding my “effort” I was having so much fun out there, racing.

imageComing in from the bike I saw Wild, he’s also one of my favorite training partners so I wished him only success on the day.  I yelled to him as I passed, “Go for the record, you’re on it, keep strong”. I actually didn’t know he was going for the record, I only knew he could get it but it would be really hard being so far up front without anyone to push him to grab it.  Off my bike, I was all smiles, it felt as if everything I always loved about sport, including that effort and not sucking, was flooding my heart.  I just ran happy, that was my goal, and I high-fived Wild when we passed, knowing he knew what I had been going through and just maybe I’m digging out of it. And by sucking it doesnt have anything to do with where you place on a podium, first or last, but the effort you hold, keeping strong when it’s you against yourself.  The final 4 miles are extremely hot, no shade, no parade of crowds cheering you on, just a giant blue tent in the middle of barren lava fields where you turn around and thank volunteers for having water and energy enough in the draining sun to push us to the finish line.  My non sucking moment of the run was to not cruise once I saw Wild too far ahead.  I just let him bring me home, like a pull towards being better off having done the race than having skipped it, again.

imageThe Captain Cook Challenge now goes immediately in the books as one of my favorite races in the world.  In the entire world! It’s a very honest, brutally challenging course, but it’s probably the first race in a longtime that was able to let me race as free and happy as sport once was for me while still making me be stronger than I think I am.  A huge mahalo to Carl Kooma and his amazing team for executing a safe, challenging, and very fun race for all of us.  A job well done to Mr. Wild who just missed the course record, next year! Thanks to all the athletes that raced, I seriously enjoyed suffering in paradise with you!  Thanks to Bike Works Thursday crew for letting me tag along on those hills, it helped so much! To SOS Rehydrate & Purps for being the best hydration/energy fuel a girl could trust in the lava fields!  Beetperformer for helping flush that lactic acid (and turn my pee purple), I feel ready to do it again! Roka, for swim gear, like those fancy new goggles that made swimming across Kealakekua Bay so visible from every angle! Ceepo Bikes for the absolute most amazing Tri bike, it rides like a road bike up hills!  Fist bumps, baby! And Big Island Running Company for having all my favorite NB shoes and the knowledge of what would be best for my running style. Coach Paul, thanks for the gentle nudge to get in the race and to never give up on finding and owning my strengths.

Well then, mark your calendars for next Aprils Captain Cook Challenge.  It’s honestly one of the most fun days I’ve ever had in sport!  Being grass rootsy it will remind why you ever began riding bikes, running, or swimming in the first place. And guarantee you will not suck, you’ll find your effort and love it.

Bree xo


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Hapalua 2016, I forgot my gels.

By April 16, 2016 life, Sunday, triathlon

I like writing race recaps, even if my mom is the only one who reads them. But I don’t like how race reflections all over the world, from pros to rookies, from me to the next guy down the street, tend to hold one (or more) excuses, a few reasons things went wrong, and a complaint or two about something out of your control that messed you up.  I just can’t be that girl today…or ever if I can help it…but then what do I say?   I thought about just skipping over this race reflection. If I don’t write it that means it never happened, right? But I know what I’m trying to ignore by not writing the post, it’s still gutting me, so I decided I’ll share my side of someone’s depression…

imageDepression facts: Two thirds of Americans have it, it’s slowly becoming the 2nd highest medical cause of disability, most people don’t choose to be depressed but they choose how to deal with it, 30 minutes of exercise a day is so far the leading cure, depression causes thoughts of suicide which is now in the top 10 list of reported deaths each year…

Friday morning (a week ago), I got a call from a friend, a dear friend. And I know what you’re thinking, “Bree, stop right now before you give out another’s personal story!” I won’t, entirely. But I will.  Because I been there, too. In college I was treated for depression and got lackluster help and I’m all too familiar with it being laced in everyone’s life, somehow, through someone, and sometimes it’s too late.  I’m just trying to say it’s not like depression is a topic people don’t know about, sadly it’s just a topic people don’t talk about. Sometimes till it’s too late, hence the name, “silent killer”.  Back to my story, I got out of morning practice, thankfully had the day off work with plans to pack for the trip to Oahu, checked my voicemail. “Ah, hey Bree, sorry to bother you, but I’m really not good today.” These calls are familiar to me, I return them, we talk.  But this morning is different, I pray for my friend.  I can hear their tears and I know it’s different, they never let me pray.  We hang up and I take a shower. Get out, check my missed call, “Bree, so I’m ready now.  I have my rope and I’m ready, can you call me back.” I run to my truck, I throw up in my lap, I don’t know what to do. Honestly don’t know what to do. I’ve taken several child psychology classes at University, but I’m not trained for this, for adults.  I call my little sister, she did go to grad school for adult psychology, and was way more calm than me.  She just said I need to call 911 now. I was shaking uncontrollably, still in the truck as you can see I run when I’m afraid and instincts told me to move.  I decided to call my friend back just to make sure I really should call 911. As people tend to overuse negative words and don’t always act on them. At the same time I was beyond scared that an accident could be taken too far.

My friend answered the phone.  “Bree, the rope is ready, I’m on my lanai, I just want to be hanging when they get home.” I’m trying to listen and understand, I’m talking and trying to convince them a little vacation would be a good idea, finally have them convinced to join Kainoa and I on Oahu, as they said that idea is just what they need.  Now I’m breathing again. Then it begins again, “Bree, can you tell this person, that person, and this person I love them.  Please tell them I’m not a bad person, please don’t let people think I’m crazy, Bree, I love you too, I have to do this, I’m ready now, sorry when I didn’t like you years ago, I called you a bitch, but you’re such a good friend, I love you…” And the phone went silent. I heard just a murmur. At that I called 911 and they told me they got it from here.  I called my friend back, praying for an answer, praying I wasn’t too late, regretting I didn’t call 911 before returning their call.  I called back my sister.  She always makes me feel better under stress, as if she’s my personal counselor.  I go all day with no news other than messages, calls, and texts from others involved in their life.

That night I finally begin to sort through my Hapalua things and try to focus my attention on Oahu. It doesn’t help, but Kainoa does.  He loves Oahu trips more than anything! His excitement is the perfect escape from the chaos of depression happening in a friends life.  Then my phone rings, “Bree, so, um, I’m here, in suicide watch.  Thank you for being a friend, you’re the only one that helped me.” And I cry. That’s all the news I get until they are on the mainland where better help can be given. That’s all the news I wanted to hear. And I silence my phone from the dozens of calls and texts that begin to arrive right until Saturday night. I have to ignore it all and everyone.  Even the police I silenced,  no more questions, no more talking about it, perhaps my friend is hurting but it also begins to emotionally drain those involved.  Needless to say I did not sleep and I ran a downright horrible race.  I tried to be strong out there and tried to even use it as fuel.  I even tried to dedicate the race to my friend. But I just wanted to get over the finish line and go escape with Kainoa.  Him and I had the absolute best trip.  The kind you will never, ever forget. Hard laughter, good times with great people, and I tried to invest in him in such a way he never lives a day having to feel as if what he is going through is something to be ashamed of.  Because if I’ve learned anything, it’s not that people with depression don’t feel our love, or lack any hope at all, it’s just they don’t even know how to ask for help or realize they need help until it’s out of control.

imageI share this story because our world really can be hard to navigate and understand, it’s tricky and confusing and nobody is exempt from hard times and bad days.  I remember two things, my grandma always telling me, “This too shall pass” and the verse I got in counseling (remember my parents sent me to a Christian university so of course the depression help I was given was covered in the Bible)… Matthew 5:45 He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous.

imageAnd that is how my race unfolded.  I realized I had no gels packed, thankfully my friend Barbie came to my rescue, literally telling me anything Kainoa and I need she’s there.  Her kindness was priceless to me, as I was humbled even to ask for help, sat on the curb outside Waikiki in tears, knowing I wanted to run but didn’t even know how since my mind was some place else.  At the end of the day it was just a race followed up by motherhood at its finest and the reminder to love people even more so than they expect to be loved…

Bree xo


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Race Week For Rookies…

By April 7, 2016 triathlon

Remember in grade school when the teacher would give us a topic for an essay and then we write? I loved that. My mind has a million things going on at once that free writing was torture for me,  I’d spend half the time just deciding my topic. It was even worse if she’d say, “Bree, just pick something that interests you.” Because everything interests me.

Today is my lucky day in the land of writing, I was given a topic.  Having been asked to write about “Race week for beginners” is right up my alley! I’ve raced a lot, I still need the reminders, and I’ve experienced enough goofball mistakes on race week to write an entire book! Without further delay, the snippets of what I shared…

imageBe confident on the start line:  This is the place I’ve seen races (including my own) go South before they even begin.  Looking around at what others are wearing, what warm up they do, the last sip or gel they take, even their prerace face, will leave you questioning your own prerace moments.  This is the time to look within.  Remind yourself of how far you’ve come, how hard you’ve worked, and trust your plan.  Then own it, bravely…


Stick to your race week:  Let me repeat, your race week.  It’s very, very tempting to want to sneak in a final swim, bike, run, or mile.  If you plan a full day off on Thursday, take the day off without fear.  This is not the week any fitness is gained.  Bonus miles become bogus miles race week.  I know, your buddies are taking a shake out run, easy, it won’t hurt. Yes, it will.  Because it’s not yours. It’s okay this week to be ALL ABOUT YOU when it comes to resting or moving. And recovery swims, even more tempting if it’s in a new location with pretty fish, but don’t move if your plan doesn’t call for it.  Because you all know what happens, it becomes extra time on your feet, taking photos, waiting for someone to show up, or you soak up your buddies prerace anxiety that they won’t stop talking about!  After the race you can go wild with photos and friends. And believe me, it will be even better if you nailed your race, you’ll actually be pleasant company.


Show appreciation:  Be kind to the volunteers and spectators,  they aren’t paid to be out there.  Their day is just as long (sometimes longer).  Often times when the race becomes most challenging it helps to take focus off ourself and simply thank the person handing you water, high five your family or friends, or encourage another athlete.  Yes, it’s our race but in many ways we are all in it together, especially if your family or friends are out there cheering you on.  I’m sure they gave up a lot of time and energy to support you, thank them, and mean it. Note: Race week does not entitle you to be a butthead.


Be patient:  If you’re traveling to your race being prepared goes a long way.  Pack snacks, hydration, comfortable shoes, lists of numbers for your hotel, car, flight, and friends. Legs up as much as you can, compression is cool, and making smart choices when it comes to airport and on the road food matters more than you know.  Insert diarrhea, upset tummy, nausea, gas, bloating, hangover.  All that said, be flexible as flights are delayed, road work happens, and you forget something.  Patience pays off here big time.  Because eventually you will get to where you are going, luggage shows up, or you can find what you forgot when you arrive.  Always keep your cool, your attitude positive, take some deep breaths when the lines are long and the person in front of you is annoying.


Do the familiar:  I confess to being the biggest glutton for trying new things race week.  I’ve worn brand new shoes, tried fancy socks, ate the bars given in a race bag, had local food the night before in new lands, put drinks I’ve never used into my transition bags, and many things I should be embarrassed to admit (though I’m not). 99% of the time it may not effect you, but that 1% might be the time it costs you getting to the start line, injury, sickness, your qualifying time, or a DNF.  The above photo (sorry if it makes you sick) is the time I tried new wheels that I ended up flatting both the back and front in a single race. I know, I know, it was just bad luck, not the wheels fault.  It hurt my legs so much pushing flat tires that I was aching to the point I couldn’t run my normal run and the new gait and foot strike I made to deal with my leg pain after that ride had me landing all weird it tore up my feet! First time I’ve ever had blisters in a race.  So that was my lesson, even something simple can become large.  It’s better to go familiar over foreign as much as possible race week.


Expect the unexpected: Accidents happen.  Someone breaks an arm race week, family needs you, you (or them) get sick, your bike gets a mechanical, the list can get long.  Life happens.  If you’re still committing to the race-commit.  Be all in despite what’s happening around you.  I know, easier said than done, if it can wait till after the race let it wait. The body really is amazing and has been known to pull off brilliant moves under less than ideal circumstances.


The expo: This is personal.  If you are aiming for a time goal, a qualifying slot, or something you’ve never had before (like a breakthrough race) you may have to do something’s special…like ignore the expo.  Expos suck you in, persuade you to sample all new goodies, encourage you to lolly gag with your friends and be on your feet for hours! Just say no. Unless, the race is all about the experience.  If you’re in it for the fun of it, to soak up all of it, then by all means enjoy that parade of stuff and fluff.  It’s a great time to meet new people, see new things, and waist (I mean spend) money.


Race weeks are special. It’s the week that brings you face first with an opportunity.  What happens on race day is largely the make up of every hour you spent preparing.  The final week is the time to reflect on your journey that got you to where you are about to go, which has the potential to truly be special.  There is no shame in lessening your load, kicking the feet up, being a slave to what’s familiar, and dedicating some personal time to mentally prepare for your big day. That said, do spend quiet time thinking all about your race, what you’ll feel, what you want, and what you’ll do. You earned this moment…

Bree xo

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Subic Bay 70.3 reflections…

By March 9, 2016 triathlon

Race reflections are always a bit difficult for me to sum up, not for my loss of words, hardly ever.  I think it’s because the entire experience surrounding a race has me doing more listening and absorbing the moments I want to remember forever. Then the race itself is an accumulation of hundreds of hours all spent between two lines (a start and a finish). By the time I fly 20+ hours home everything under the sun has been thought about plenty and the words are usually waiting to be shared. And I never mind sharing my journey as I know I only have it thanks to those in my life that help make it possible, so it’s not mine to keep to myself…

imageFor the numbers people who don’t want to read a novel (my posts can get long) this briefly, is for you: 5th woman overall. A swim I’m very proud of, whenever I’m less 2 minutes behind Radka it’s a good swim. (I swam a 25 and change on a legit 1.2 course) coming out 1:25 down.   Two flats on the bike, it was exhausting but when I was up and riding I felt good so it was easy to fight to stay with it. The run, I ran like shit. My apologies for the cuss word, I’m just not going to sugar coat it and I’m a terrible liar. Felt like I lost my mental fight completely, not that quitting or DNF was an option but when I was drained from trying to hold it together on the bike for so long there was little fight left in me for a run that required it with the small, but mighty field we had. I learned the very real story of  it not mattering how many miles you train, if you can’t keep your head strong till the finish your body won’t go anywhere, fast.  And that’s how the first triathlon of my season went…

Okay, carry on, those that got the numbers.  For the rest of you wanting a bedtime story or something to read with your morning coffee, here you go…

imageOver the Pacific for my 5th trip to the Philppines for the Subic Bay 70.3 (pinching myself). Instantly off the plane everything smelt the same, like burnt rubbish. Felt the same, hot as what I imagine hell feels.  And welcoming, of the 14 countries I’ve been fortunate to visit the Philippines always tops my list of the most embracing place I’ve been.  My roomie for the week was Radka the 2012 Olympian. (I love saying that, though she humbly doesn’t flaunt it). Our living conditions are best described as a slumber party complete with oatmeal, farts, hard laughter, a broken toilet, no hairbrush, a lot of SOS consumption for the heat, cute run shoes, and game faces.  She’s equally as passionate about life and sport as me, so we got along great.  In fact, race morning we were both making a pile at 3:30 in the morning to donate to the homeless or whomever we saw needed it.  Then a lot of rice. And back to game faces.

image4:45am We were shuttled to the transition. It was smooth sailing as the butterflies and nerves usually don’t rear their ugly head in the Philippines like they do other races. There is truly something about the atmosphere in the Philippines that makes me feel close to home and the race directors have a way of bringing us pros and amateurs alike together in such a way that you focus on yourself all while being comfortable with your competitors. It’s unique to say the least and unlike any race I’ve been to. I was holding that quiet, calm, excitement that usually makes for a solid day.  A little run, set up my bike, and a swim.  Everything went so smooth as I was in my own little world amongst crowds of athletes. Perhaps knowing I did all the training left me with little to worry about and time to dwell in possibility.  Going into the race I had two goals: Control my emotions & make good descisions.  Both are my “works in progress” as I am learning to let go of things out of my control and have complete confidence in what I can control.  As for the making good choices, in any race of any distance, we have options in an instant and how we react has the potential to make or break us.
imageMy swim was one I’m very proud of, as it feels I am getting back my consistency of swimming near front pack.  Or maybe it was the new Roka speed suit, ill credit both the hard work happening and having good gear.  Anyways, the swim was me pulling myself and a couple guys I caught hanging on my feet.  The first 500 yards I was on the feet of Radka and Caroline until a sighting error had one of them go right, one stay straight on our original line, and me wishing I had committed to at least one of their feet as they sorted out the best line to swim and regrouped together, leaving me chasing. Out of the water 3rd and leaving transition I heard them call Hessner coming in, I didn’t want to wait for her so I tried to get away before she had a chance to see me up the road.

imageWhy wait? Well, in this race we are allowed to draft the first 10k ITU style. So it’s a toss up, have a buddy to work with or go alone trying to minimize the lead of the two women in front. I road comfortably hard knowing some of the guys I passed in the swim would be coming soon and just maybe I could use them in the 10k draft zone.  And one finally came just as we got to the start of the 3k climb. Except he told me my rear wheel was really low, I knew it! I tried to brush it off, that feeling of heavy legs when you “think” your tires are low but really it’s just your legs tired. Not this time. Needless to say I could not stay with him up the hill, he told me he’d tell mechanical once to the top that a girl with a flat was coming.  Here’s where my “Make good descisions”  now began for the day.  I decided to get to the top hoping it would hold just incase I needed help.  (No mechanics, bike support, aid, draft busters, or the like) were in this 10k zone as it was too crazy to fit them and riders safely, that’s why they announced in our meeting we can draft till the top of the hill and through the tunnel if we had the chance. I made it to the top, on clincher race wheels for the first time ever in a race, making for fixing a flat much like a training day-easy.

imageBack in business, it still didn’t feel right but I knew I had to keep on, especially since I had no co2’s. I put it aside and never felt sorry for myself which was a big win in the mental bank.  It was loosing air though and the legs felt heavy once again. Until about 2k to go, that is.  When I went down the final hill right into a pothole nearly flying off my bike, but instead blowing the front wheel.  I had no choice but to ride on into T2 that way hoping mechanics might come…they didn’t…and I racked my beautiful Ceepo and pretty new Profile Design wheels with two flat tires.  Then I did what any girl would do, put on her shoes and run.

I know with every triathlon you have to continue to let go all day.  Let go of the swim once you’re on shore, let go of the bike once you’re out of T2, and run like all you have to do is run.  I tried that, I honestly did.  My legs felt horrible so I gave the pep talk, “They always feel a little off till about 20 minutes in”,  I committed to work very hard for 20 minutes, when I just wanted it to all be over.  I wasn’t thinking about the bike anymore, I wasn’t thinking at all.  Mentally I was exhausted and trying to carry on with the pep talks I’d been having with myself all day were now annoying me.  I was annoying myself.  So I was honest with myself…”Bree, this sucks, you had bad luck with flats, your legs feel like you just did 500 squats, it’s hot, this hurts, this is hard,  you’re annoying yourself”. But even being blunt didn’t work.  I thought had this moment came, coming off the bike only 4 minutes behind 3rd, I’d have the guts and courage to try and chase her down.  But I didn’t. I just wanted to survive.  And that’s what it became, slowly losing my mental battle to push despite it all.  I guess in moments like these athletes are to use anger to push around mental barricades. Be angry about my bad luck with two flats and go run my arse off getting my position back.  But I’ve yet to learn to use anger as fuel. However I have learned to not cry, this is the first race I didn’t cry in the face of my adversity.  I just kept going.

imageWith 8k to go I ran into a guy that was physically in the hole after a hard ride but mentally good.  So we committed to working together till the finish. We even landed at our original goal pace for a bit and began to real in Hessner who finished in front of me by about a minute.  It was good team work, but I still wasn’t proud of that run.  I mean, I finished spent.  I was ready to fall over, having not left much in the physical department and certainly exhausted mentally.  But once you cross that finish line you know when you can go another mile or not. If I had to, I could, so that tells me I mentally could have dug deeper.

There are many positives to take away from the race and certainly I’m always thankful to cross a finish line.  Fortunately it’s just the first triathlon of the season and just a matter of getting my brain out of off season and back into shape as much as it is my body.  So what’s next for me, this weekend I’ll do a couple local races to continue with my getting mentally and physically stronger.  A 5k and a road bike race up 10 hills.  Both of them completely excite me and that’s how I know I’m where I belong in sport, it makes me happy and I want more opportunities to practice getting over mental hurdles…

imageI have to thank the race directors, Fred, Ching, Princess, and Emma for completely putting on another great race! It was a blast from the moment we all got off the plane, you threw us into a 3k in our undies, you let us spend time in questions with the locals, and you put on a very challenging race!  A big thank you for the bikes I’ve been given from Ceepo, Bike Works who help me take care of them, Profile Design for the parts and wheels to use them, and Scicon bags for making it easy for me to take my bike all over the world.  To Roka for a speed suit that feels as comfortable in the water as skin alone and Kona Aquatics for helping me find my swim daily.  To Purps for the hydration day in and day out that makes me feel as charged as Kelly imageSlater (he’s the Purps King), to SOS for the fancy travel packs of salty goodness that works in places like the Philippines better than anything I know. To Big Island Running Company for my pretty shoes, I’ll put them to faster use next race! To the crew at Biostin for the greens, I admit it’s very hard to find green veggies in Subic Bay, so traveling with spirulina from home and Beet Perfomer, helped me feel a bit healthier in a mostly rice fueled diet for the week.  And to Coach Paul, who through many miles helped me feel confident on a start line, a feeling I’d lacked for far too long.  So many people are truly to thank, the amount of support that comes in just because you decide to do something, anything, with your days always overwhelms me. If you’re reading this, I probably have you to thank as well…thank you!

Thanks for reading, keep those minds strong, they are what move us…

Bree xo

imagePs… I was asked if I recommend this race and why?  Yes.  Easily, yes.  It is very hot, an honest,  challenging course, but it hosts amazing volunteers who promise to get you through day and go above and beyond making their home, yours.  Everyone is included in a 3k run the day before the race, in your undies, where you can’t help but fall in love with sport as if it’s your first time!  And I have photos to prove how the saying, “It’s more fun in the Philippines”, is partly true. And finally, massages are basically unbeatable over here…I’m sure you’ve heard stories.  My roomie snapped this photo of mine while laughing during hers…

image Don’t ask.

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Great Aloha Run Reflection…

By February 17, 2016 triathlon

It’s kind of the norm to wait a little before wrapping up a race reflection.  You know, let the dust settle and emotions simmer so we can think straight and react (or write) clearly without the finish line outcome (good or not so good) dictating our words.  Well, I’m not always ideal at waiting, in fact, I’m lousy at it.

So let me ask you this…

Are you more afraid of missing an opportunity or making a mistake?

My extremely passionate approach to life has me far more afraid of missing an opportunity.  It’s my secret weapon to being one of the 1% of Americans who wake up happy.  Time has shown me opportunities have the potential to change our entire lives.  Think about it, meeting the right one, being in the right place at the right time, starting something new, making a move, to name a few life changers right there. I could end this post now, as that about sums up my race reflection.  In a moment of confidence I saw an opportunity and went for it.  It did not end pretty.  In fact it granted me my new slowest run time on this particular course.  BUT… It could have landed a really fast day. I suppose that’s the beauty in opportunity, risk vs reward. While not rewarded the desired outcome, I discovered I’m nearly back to the girl who first fell in love with sport. And I think local, non “A” races are the place to test out these risky moves.


Coach Paul flew out last week to help set my season in motion.  We did all the coach/athlete collaboration of goal setting, process planning, and just helping me find my rhythm in sport once again.  I tackled all the miles, he coached me through some workouts that will be valuable to my growth in sport this season.  But more than that, he helped me find my confidence and courage.  While they will continue to be a work in progress (as the mind needs exercising as much as the body) it feels refreshing to have back my sense of belonging within my own dreams.

…And that’s what happened Monday morning at the Great Aloha Run. I woke up calm, not fearful.  I was excited for an opportunity to have a fast day.  I was like a little kid in my race outfit, as Jason from Big Island Running Company gave me the same one his sister ran the Olympic Marathon trials in.  And being a very prestigious race it offered the Elite runners prize money, which is rare for Hawaii races. But beyond all that, I was ready to race because it’s a big part of what I do.  When you hold confidence in the things you do, whatever they may be, any and everything under the sun, you will do them better. I was ready to run better…

I began running up front of 17,000 other runners and took a deep breath of appreciation that I was running free of my fears, fears of having a dream one size too big for me, fear of the outcome, fears of  belonging or not, fears of stuff that doesn’t even matter.  I had zero.  And then Polina (our states fastest runner and 2:35 marathoner) set an invitation to join her as she was taking off.  In my moment of confidence, after having just watched Amy and Shalane working together to make the Olympics in their race, I seized the opportunity to run with her.  I mean it wasn’t a complete dumb move, I ran 5:52 pace over this course a few years ago.  In the quick breeze of Polina, I imagined today could be the day to do 5:45 pace.  Imagine if you will a kitten looking in a puddle and seeing a reflection of a lion.  That’s what my confidence had me running off to! Yes, I ran off with her, clung to her heels and hit my first mile 5:17 pace.  Then I let her go and tried to settle back to my original goal of just under 6 pace for 2 miles then get on my 5:52 and hold with a strong finish.  Oh that never happened though.  The next mile was 6:45 and my legs were lead, as if I just finished a mile at the track and had to repeat but without rest-7 more times.

I suppose if a girl needs pacing practice, I got that. If a girl needed to learn how to hold her mess together when the race is falling apart, I got that, too. And when quitting would be so easy, I got that invitation and absolutely responded with trying to run as hard as I still could manage despite the mistake I made in my race. After my mile and half of 6:45 I got back to business and ended with 6:13 average…so I pulled a few miles back nicely towards the end.

And there you have it, I made a mistake, no shame, grab my lesson. But I did not miss an opportunity that could have been so fast…

Being the learner I am, I asked Coach how do I know when I’m blowing a race up or taking an opportunity? As he was not impressed with my approach and saw an opportunity for me to have a different day out there (thank God for good coaches!).  He told me many situations that made sense in racing and after I thought them through it was best understood “I’ll know”. I’m still not racing well emotionally, as what goes on in my heart dictate my moves.  I’ve always been this way in life.  It’s just me.  Because as high as my highs are the lows are just as deeply touching to me and this year I can’t let them (highs or lows) call all my shots.  So my homework, the ongoing mind exercises I’m learning, are to take some emotion out of it and add a little of my head to it.

Now that my first race of the season has come and gone I already feel into my groove and ever so ready for the opportunities, whatever they may be in my travels, races, life…


Thank you GAR for having me part of your amazing event (they have given more than 10 million to people in need around the islands!), to Coach for spending time on the island to work with me and get me focused. To the Bioastin family and Big Island Running company for making my trip/run shoes all possible.  Amy and Dan for welcoming me into their home and making a great dinner to fuel my wild appetite while racing!  Congrats to everyone who finished the race and all those volunteers & spectators who cheered us on out there, it’s always special sharing miles with strangers who become friends just because you cross the same finish line.  And without a doubt, thanks to those men and women that serve our country! Running on Presidents Day alongside a huge cadence of Army troops was pretty unique.

Bree xo

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Gut Check…

By February 8, 2016 triathlon

Whether we take advantage of them or not, we all have our own unique set of talents, passions, and abilities. They are those little things within us that make our hearts go thump, thump, thump and get all excited.  As humans I think we need that sense of accomplishment and purpose to really be happy.  When we ignore the beats of our hearts or silence the ideas for fear of the unknown we grow bitter. Stale. Boring. Sad. And ultimately older with a pile of regrets on our hands. That said, after the 2015 race season I sat down and did a gut check.

Did I accomplish what I set out to do? Am I happy? What needs to be done?

I was happy, though humbled.  I was definitely down, but not ready to be done.  And at the end of the day I still fall asleep appreciating how big of a space triathlon takes up in my heart (insert many thump, thumps). My heart still beats loudly on start lines and dreams still parade within me, so I know I’m not done with this chapter of my life.  What needs to be done?, was the question left to entertain.  After each and every painfully true scenario crossed my mind: Financially difficult, loss of sponsors, getting older, a couple health issues that needed attention, the full time teaching job offer, is my life making a positive impact on Kainoa’s life, and a few others. Not a single one of them was loud enough to silence the beat of my passions and what I feel lead to pursue. Should I accept any other scenario I’d fall short of living a life of no regrets. A life spent hearing and living the thumps in our hearts doesn’t mean we are free of difficulties, in fact I think we step into many more, but the best days are always the ones where we felt we have purpose.


So what now? How do I land amongst and beyond my goals when I’ve already reached places farther than I imagined I’d ever go in triathlon. I called up Coach Paul. Remember him, mean Coach Paul of Lifesport Coaching over in Canada? (That’s him in the top photo, at a training camp in Australia, I probably frustrated him trying to go surf rather than swim or something). Well, he was the coach visiting the island that saw me racing in a local race and probably heard the thumps of my heart from the sidelines because he believed in me before I ever believed in anything triathlon had to offer. I was a third grade school teacher, Kainoa’s mom, and a wife.  I rode bike in t-shirts (yes, really. Even when riding with Chris Lieto, the fastest cyclist in Ironman at that time), swam in bikinis, and ran in Roxy board shorts from the surf shop. But he sat me down at Lava Java one day in April 2007 and asked me what I wanted to do with triathlon. I told him, “Go to the Olympics”. It was true, but very half heartedly real as my talents aren’t exactly equipped for that race. I guess that’s why it’s important not to shy away from voicing our dreams, the right people can help guide us. (Olympic vs Iron distance) Coach Paul did that for me. We disagreed on so much but I was always willing to work hard and he was always willing to invest the time into the thing we did agree on, making me the best I can be.


Coach Paul was far from eager to take me back, it was a couple weeks of sports psychology work I had to complete with him. I left Lifesport after about 3yrs with the team, not because I thought I knew better, but I began to quit on myself and then was too proud to ask for his coaching and to return. I spent a little over 5 years of my career after that move bouncing from coach to coach and had some incredible results, some ridiculous results, but never got quite where I was going. That said, I’m getting older and I don’t have another 5 years in sport to bounce around as a professional who has yet to believe she has fulfilled her potential. The past 5 weeks I have been back under Coach Paul’s guidance.  I haven’t put up any of my previous battles so far, I just get my work done. Already I am seeing myself grow back into the girl running down Ali’i Drive with thumps in her heart so big maybe they can be heard on the sidelines.


Before my first ever Ironman! Yes, Kona! I was so excited to race in my backyard.  I had a plan I trusted, did all my training, and the day unfolded beyond my wildest dreams. That day truly taught me that listening to the thumps will reward us a life far greater than avoiding what causes us to smile for fear of the unknown or how it will all work out.  I still remember each and every moment of that race from start to finish! I can tell you who I came out of the water with (Jamie), I can tell you I passed Fernanda Keller (Brazilian professional) at Mauna Lani on the bike, I got a 4 minute penalty around Scenic Point climbing the hill because I passed a man on the right side (I still call faul shot on that! The group of 4 men took up the entire road, I put myself at risk in the crosswind passing practically in the lava field), and then I ran myself into 13th woman overall that day. It was so wild! Think back to a time in your life you truly felt as if you were living a dream come true, that day was certainly one of mine.


And then this, my face in shock about to drop Kainoa at the finish line!  Coach Paul told me this day I’d  become one of the best in the world at this sport.  I grabbed my pro card but forgot to believe. Yes, I have gone on to win two Ironmans and a few other great events, but life got hard with my divorce, navigating single motherhood, trying to love again and failing, getting back into the classroom, amongst other things that I have allowed to be louder in my life than those thumps that actually cause me great joy. So this is my 2016 in motion, listening to the beats of my own heart and dancing to that, who knows exactly how the finish lines will all end up, but I’m certain living a live with purpose and hearing thumps again should be far greater than one of regrets.

All that said, I put my name on 6 start lists so far.  Usually I’d do an Ironman by March, this year not till May (that’s not my style, but here I am being coached again) and coaching always worked for a girl like me that needs someone to hold her back without stopping her entirely. Next weekend I’ll run a biggie over on Oahu, then March 6th Subic Bay 70.3, back to Oahu to race my favorite Hapalua with the Kenyans, then down to Ironman business! Ironman Texas in May, Ironman Cairns in June, and Cebu in August…so far. I Can hardly wait to get the races in motion and see so many of the people and places I love, doing what I love…ahhh.

Bree xo

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Confidence is beautiful…

By January 27, 2016 life
Dear @bikeworkskona can you start carrying these amazing bike shorts?! So cute! And we can minimize the insane tan lines on those rides to #hawi. Thanks! #bikeworks #bikeshorts #stripes #yesplease #islandstyle #fromwhereiride #girlygirl

So this post is to the girls. After posting a photo of some bike shorts I REALLY like on Instagram/FB yesterday, I was blown away. Literally moved at how many responses came in from women who could laugh with me at the hilarity of actually riding bike to Hawi (100 miles) in those things, most likely chuckling all the way there. To an extreme amount women gagging, nagging, and caughing at the very thought of them.  I understand not liking them, not seeing the function-ability of them, or fastness, or just down right having outgrown that style (they used to be cool in my moms & grandmas generation). But what I noticed was sad. And very real. It was mostly a dislike because of a dislike of their own self image, not even the goofy bike shorts.

Being a girl, with 6 sisters, having lived in a dorm room for 5 years of college with lots of different women from all over the world, I feel like I have some experience with the self-dislike issues that cause us girls to fear going somewhere, quit something we like, speak negatively over ourselves, ruin relationships, or even dislike something you like-such as ridiculous little bike shorts or a bikini.  Did you know 4 out of 5 women look in the mirror each day and pick apart their entire face and body? My thighs touch, I have ugly skin, my teeth are crooked, my boobs are too small, I have no butt, I’m fat, I’m ugly, I’m slow, I’m stupid, and more…many more.  But only 1 out of 5 women looks in the mirror when she wakes up for the day and says something good or positive about herself. And you know what’s sad? This girl is the girl that gets made fun of for being cocky, or wearing a bikini when maybe her thighs touch, or is picked on for being herself, for being confident.  And those girls that tear them selves apart (I learned this in a psychology class in 2001) think they are being humble or worse, hate themselves.  Yep, our thighs might touch, our boobs are probably small, our belly might not have a six pack, or might even hang over our shorts, but it’s absolutely no reason to hate yourself or forbid yourself from showing up, keep going after what you want, or not wearing something you like (granted it fits).

I think growing up a complete klutz I was given the easy way out of facing a mirror and picking myself apart.  I was always in constant appreciation of my body, just so thankful 99.9% of the time for what it’s capable of. Early on I broke a leg, an elbow, and had poor hearing in my left ear.  Finally by senior year I had surgery to have my hearing fixed, these things made me just so thankful.  Then I had titanium rods put in my wrist after an accident playing powderpuff, staples in my head after a surf accident, and a torn calf so I couldn’t walk during my student teaching senior year of college. And a bout of depression before college graduation that I went to counseling for. It always felt like I was broken then healed and it always, always made me love my body despite being called thunder thighs, deaf girl, crooked teeth, and in college for the moles and freckles on my back.  Then…2003 having a little piece of my left booby removed for cancer, then 2010 a skin cancer part taken out, to most recently some hard fought asthma attacks and last April finding the aeorta aneurism. Not that I ever liked any of these broken days, I always felt whole, and I’m thankful for them as they most always helped me love and appreciate my health and body (despite imperfections).  Now, sharing life with so many women, I’ve seen the reflection of what women see in the mirror rob their joy, steal their smiles, take away their dreams, and force them to mentally and physically fight themselves daily.  My little sister fought a hard battle with an eating disorder, that’s her story to share but being the sister I see the risks she won’t take,  I see her hide behind what she’s good at knowing she can fake joy with the best of them.  She’s been in the healing process for about 5 years now and seeing her laugh or smile or even place a goal for her life has recently landed her as one of my biggest inspirations, because you can fight and win even your ugliest self demons.  And even though I’ve been mostly confident in my skin most days (and not because I just don’t care what people think of me, I do care), I ultimately choose to live life as short or long as it shall be in appreciation, even laughing at myself for insane stripped bike shorts! This lesson was learned my freshman year of college.  One of my best friends hated her reflection so much she landed in the hospital running from herself. Other times she would drink ipecac to force vomiting and I was the girl holding her hair over the toilet and crying.  I didn’t understand the hate on ones body so much that they force damage.  Maybe having so many of my own minor damages or seeing others lose battles to major life damages I never could grasp inflicting one.  My junior year of college another of my roomies actually encouraged me to try throwing up, she loved the feel of ridding whatever it was she was dealing with out. She always felt free afterwards,  like a drug. And so I tried in the bathroom with her and couldn’t do it. So perhaps I’ll fail at understanding what many women battle daily, but one thing I did learn that day with our Oreos (that’s what she was trying to teach me to throw up), is they are being robbed of love.  Yep, love.  That feeling that they are worth it, beautiful, and have the right to be happy despite flaws and imperfections and bad hair days and ugly feet.

Gosh I just rambled, maybe nobody even reads this, but if some girl does find it and needs the reminder, “Its okay to be you.” You just as you are.  And if you need inspiration I’ll share a couple of my favorite women to follow.  These ladies on the daily have me encouraged. And finally, I dare you to look in the mirror and say something good about yourself, anything at all…

image            image image           image      image

There they are, my top 5. We all have our own, these are mine for they each hold what I need when temptation to dislike something of myself does start to creep in.  Stephanie for example, is one of America’s fastest marathoners and shares her journey as a fast mom, the after belly included.  That’s gorgeous to me as I see women hiding the aftermath of motherhood. She shares, embraces what her body does for her, then runs a marathon in 2:31! My sister-Brooke, who sucker punched her eating disorder in the face and is running miles for each year she let it steal her life. Eloise, because I admire people who do amazing things for a purpose bigger than themselves, no shame in what others may say or think. Her faith inspires my faith! And she’s running in the Olympics, too! And two of my favorite pro surfers.  No, I didn’t just pick these amazing women because of their talents.  I believe all women are amazing in our own right, talented hugely in small and big things, and each inspire someone in some way.  These few just happened to have punched self defeat in the face when it could have robbed their dreams and in areas that I struggle with…

Long post, I know.  But maybe even one girl who reads this will find a tiny glimmer of hope to enjoy the day just as they are…in their own skin.

Bree xo

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One by one, day by day…

By January 21, 2016 life, Sunday

So there’s this churchy chat station that Kainoa and I listen to on the way to school, I know, we are just so wild.  But whatever, he likes it, I like it, and it’s kind of a comedy at the same time because he’s just so real it hurts! I mean even 9 year old Kainoa likes it! Okay, I have to share one of the chats we were “jamming” to… When it comes to fulfilling your purpose on Earth, you know, doing all those things in life that cause your heart to stir and create an overwhelming passion, the things you “want to do” or have a strong desire to do, those things. Well, there are three kinds of people when it comes to actually “doing” them. 1. Those who dream them up and it ends there.  Picture it like this, “Ready. Stop”. 2. Those that dream them up and think about it, “Ready. Set…”. Some actually go, others just keep talking about it or planning and planning and planning but likely talk themselves out of it. 3. Those that dream then act. It looks like this, “Ready. Go!”  They don’t plan, or “set”, they just feel a stirring in their heart and move.  All three kinds of people risk something, you know how that goes, risk vs reward.

Anyways, why am I talking about this? Because I’m getting older!!! I had a birthday last month, as I sat and thought about the year of my life that just passed it hit me, I love my life. I have way more things to laugh about, be proud of, smile at, even shake my head at, than I do regrets. I’m not even sure if I have a “true” regret.  Because even my painful divorce and fragile heart after that landed me Kainoa!! So I don’t actually have any.  Oh, I’ve failed-but learned.  And so, I’m a number three.  I get these wild ideas or dreams in my head (been that way all my life according to my mom) and I just go, or do.  Oh it lands me in trouble sometimes, but most the time, I land so dang appreciative of something or someone!  So where now am I going with this? My little sister.  That’s where I’m going.  She has this dream to do the 100 run race!  But she’s a sincere number 2. She will totally plan it out, talk it out (till she nearly talks herself out of it), wait it out, make sure it will be okay and not effect her family too much, and question. Will it work? Can it work out with her work? Can she afford it? Blah, blah, blah.  Forgive me for he blahhh, blahs. But talking to her over the last couple weeks I’ve been a huge number 3 for her! I was all, “just sign up, get a jar and put money in it to start saving, I’ll help watch your son, ect…”. Then I sunk rock bottom in being a loving sister, “Brooke, being realistic is being negative!” Cause in my opinion, your counting ways it won’t work or future problems. Please take this with a grain of salt, I do believe some things need sincere patience, but you know the biggest council is that still small voice in your heart, follow that one. Because….what if. Just what if…it does work? If everything falls into place? And just what if it doesn’t, but it lands even better?! Because that often happens in life! As for the number 1, I don’t have many number 1 people in my life so I can’t really go there.  But my sister, a born and raised number 2 is slowly becoming a number 3 with this 100 mile run thing! I’ve learned from watching her, that the biggest fear people have when it comes to a dream or taking a leap is fear of what others will say. What they may think. Because we may fail or it may not happen…but what a shame to be ready and not go all because of another’s opinion of you.  That said, she finally has been taking about this run on IG and FB (because once it’s on social media its for real, you know). That was a giant leap for her.  And you know what I told her, “Brooke, dreams and goals fuel us and we become who we are born to be by LIVING our dreams and walking that journey”.  I guess as the older sister, I just want her to be 80 in her rocking chair and have no regrets.  We can talk about how she ran the 100 miles that one time (or more!), or something else fantastic that becomes because of taking that step towards it…

So that’s it.  Long, I know.  But I’ve been so moved since hearing this chat.  It inspired even my own already wild ride! I’m sure that’s why God gave me Kainoa, because now there is someone looking up to me to follow through on the stirrings in my heart…and to teach him to never fear a dream…


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