Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Club Scrap Botanicals Blog Hop


Welcome to the April edition of Club Scrap's Blog Hop.  If you found your way from Annette's Blog you are in the right spot.  If you stumbled upon me, I am glad you are here.   This month we are featuring the Botanicals collection from Club Scrap.  

I got to this one late due to a family emergency calling me out of town, and almost bowed out, but I missed last months because of an eye issue, and I thought well if anything I can show how fast and easy something fun can come together.

Basically I decided to play.  I grabbed my collection of all sorts of water color type mediums (twinkles, sparkling H20 and my Reeves water colors).   I grabbed a cup of water and a brush and some water color paper.

I trimmed my water color paper to 4 x 5.25 then I grabbed my colors and my brush and I played with combinations of complimentary colors and washed the paper and splattered it.    I used extra water so when I stood my papers up to dry the water would drip creating a neat effect.

When dry I used a variety of stamps from the Botanicals collections to decorate in coordinating colors.

I use the pink and brown card stock from the collection as the card base.


Some pinks, purples and corals. 


Some blues, greens and yellows.

Tied up with a cord to give as a gift

Something so simple, fun came together so beautifully.

Hope you enjoyed.

If you have not enjoyed the entire hop start at the beginning at Club Scrap's Blog. 

Hope to se you next month.




Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Life is an Adventure Shadow Box Frame

Welcome Welcome to my entry into the Club Scrap London Calling Blog Hop.  If you found your way from Kay's blog you are in the right place and I am so excited you are here. If you stumbled upon my accidentally do yourself a favor and start at the beginning by visiting www.clubscrap.com/blog.

Sort of kinda unintentionally our house has been filling  up with bicycle decor.  I do not suppose it has anything to do with the fact that 3 out 4 in our family are triathletes, and the only exercise the other one enjoys of the three triathlete disciplines is cycling.  We have gravitated towards the vintage looking cycles EXACTLY like the one found on the London calling Art Nouveau unmounted stamp collection.   Our house has a long bay of square window  box windows int he living room that that sets itself up for a large display of just stuff, photos, inspirational plaques, a large vintage bicycle clock and a shadowbox frame.  

This really was quite simple to make.

I grabbed the following items:
  • Two pieces of some sort of cad board.  I sued the inserts that come in calendars, they are a little bit thicker than cereal boxes but not nearly as thick as book board. 
  • Coordinating paper/card stock from Club Scrap's London Calling Collection
  • A handful of baubles and embellishments
  • London Calling Art Nouveau unmounted stamp collection
  • Some sprays
  • Washi tape
  • Foam Tape
  • Pop dots
  • Club Scrap Bookbinding glue
  • Club Scrap Grid Ruler
  • Craft Knife


  1. The dimensions of my frame are 5"x6.25".  I used my Fiskars guillotine trimmer to trim both pieces of cardboard down to these dimensions. 
  2. I chose the paper I wanted on the frame and went ahead and glued that on one of th3 5" X 6.25" pieces of  cardboard using Bookbinding Glue so I would only have to cut once.
  3. this piece and measured out the frame opening.   I knew I was going to use an inside image of approximately 3" x 4" so I  marked out a 3.5" x 4.5" opening using my grid ruler and a pen.  
  4. I used my grid ruler and a sharp craft knife to trim out the frame opening. 
  5. Next I chose my background paper to cover the inside background of the shadow box frame which was just the light green card stock.  I trimmed this to 5"x6.25: and adhered to the background piece of cardboard.   
  6. I knew I wanted the saying "Life is an Adventure, Enjoy the Ride" as part of  my shadowbox frame.   My  initial thought was to have it form a frame along a 3" x 4" and stamp the circle inside.   However I have very limited digital capabilities and was  unable to make that happen but was able to use the saying to form a circle in the Iscrapbook program using the curved text feature.   I also used the Collection Font Chancery Cursive for the saying (found in the scrap rap posts always posted the first of the month).  I printed my circle out this out on cream card stock and trimmed the paper to 3"x 4" with the circle in the center.  
  7. I sprayed my printed image with green memories mist and blue glimmer mist
  8. By nothing more than some serendipity that circle text image was jsut the right size for me to punch a circle out using the only circle punch I own.  The circle punch was the perfect size to stamp the cute little bicycle image on. I adhered my punched cirlce inside of the "Life is an Adventure" image with pop dots. 
  9. Using foam tape, I placed a double layer on the outer frame to give it extra dimension (notice the washi tape, because I am a horrible craft knife cutter, I used the washi tape to hide the uneven trim job). 
  10. I turned this over and adehered it onto my background
  11. Once the frame was in place, I put some adhesive on the back of my 3"x4" image and centered it within the frame.   
  12. Now that the frame was together, I played around with the baubles until it looked blanaced to me. 
  13. And here it is on my window box with Ragnar the cat keeping watch (he has a thing for Club Scrap apparently).







 Now go visit Julie Here at Cape Cod Scrapper and see what she came up with.

Don't forget to join us next month for another blog hop!

Have a great day!














Friday, February 20, 2015

A Fun{stache}tical time playing with the Mustache

The Club Scrap London Calling kit had some really awesome images on the unmounted stamp plates. this month.    There are Tea Cups, Bicycles, Mustaches, Hats, Cars, Buses, and so much more.   I fell in love immediately with the bicycle.  However, today I had to sit down to make a birthday card for my brother and the mustache was the image I knew I was going to use.  OH my, I fell in love with this simple little image.   And I started playing.   Its amazing the variety of cards you can get out of this little image.

The first one I made was my brothers card,  I will say I was inspired by a card I saw on Pinterest found here.   

It just so happened that Club Scrap London Calling unmounted Borders and Backgrounds unmounted stamps had a cute little hat on it.  The collection unmounted stamps found on the Club Stamp kit had the cutest mustache.   I grabbed some Club Scrap paper I had in my stash and a Club Scrap India Ink Ink Pad  and got to creating and here is what I came up with, my own little Monocled mustached gentleman.:


 Then, inspired by Tiare Smith who uses each months collection to create Christmas Cards every month, I set out to create a Christmas Card with my little mustache.  Here is what ensued:



The card base and the cream paper is paper from my Club Scrap stash.  The red patterned paper is from my Christmas themed paper.  The Mustache is from London Calling Kit and the Ho Ho Ho is from a "Vintage" Club Scrap Christmas Collection who's collection name escapes me.  The inks I used were Club Scrap Ruby and Moss hybrid ink pads.


Last year when Club Scrap was moving I ordered one of those large mystery boxes.  I received lots of greeting to go component kits without the tags and cut outs.  I grabbed one of those and decided to make a masculine card for my pops.    It came together really, really well.  The "father" stamp is from Stampin up and the script background stamp on the background banner is from Club Scrap's London Calling Greetings art nouveau stamps.  I used Club Scrap indigo Ink, earth and ash hybrid ink pads:



Be sure to join us on February 25th for a London Calling Blog hop.

Hope you enjoyed,  Thanks for Looking.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Club Scrap Constellations Paper Mosaic


I was so excited to try my hand at a paper mosaic with he Club Scrap Constellations kit.  I knew immediately when I saw it I wanted to use the black print and silver beads.    I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.  I basically just cut along the concentric circles of the print.  You can see my original post utilizing this technique with  with the Club Scrap Reunion Kit and the steps I took to create it  here






Here is a close up of the micro beads:


These are really a lot of fun to make, and I am hoping to make one for each Club Scrap Monthly kit.   


Thanks for looking!   

Shona

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Club Scrap Constellations Blog Hop.


Welcome to the monthly Club Scrap Blog Hop.  This month we are featuring the kit Constellations.   I love this kit, the colors, the sentiments, just everything.  I loved it so much so, I had a real hard time wanting to cut the paper for a project,  so I utilized the digital kit.

First thing first,   if you stumbled upon me and have not visited the rest of the hop you can start from the very beginning by going here:


 and then proceed to hop on through.   There are some amazing artists that participate every month.  I am always blown away by their creativity!

No onto my project.   If you know me, you know I am a runner an a triathlete.  There are all sorts of smart phone apps to track my runs and my bike rides etc, but I like things all in one place and handy at a glimpse.  I also think I am a little "too connected" sometimes and I love the feel of paper in my hands and I love to write,  so I decided to make a workout log.   Well actually a friend of mine posted a picture on her Facebook page asking one of her friends to make her one, and the light bulb went off

Here is what originally inspired me:





Here is my finished version, with a little about the insides afterwards:




Since I swim Bike and Run I modified the pages a little bit.  The pages were created in a word processing document.   I added a page for races I compete in along with a page to record time trials so I can see my improvements (or lack thereof) on a glance:



When I open the book and lay it flat, an entire 7 days is visible on a two page spread.






The cover art is created from the Constellations digital page.  I love that quote and thought it was fitting.     I added my favorite photo of me running...dunno, just really like that one.   The inside pages are simply an 8.5 x 11 sheet folded in half which makes for a 8.5x5.5 book.    The "open" end is where I binded the pages.    Here is a sample of the Word document for one page:



I had some card board laying around.  I trimmed two pieces to 8.5 to 5.75 inches for the cover.  I wrapped the front cover int he Constellations red, and adhered my cover art.   I left the back cover naked.





I  used my handy dandy, rusty old Zutter Binder tool to put it all together.

Now for a treat click here to visit Julie Heyer at Cape Cod Scrapper.

See you next month!

Shona










Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Club Scrap Reunion Blog Hop

Welcome to the December edition of Club Scrap's Blog Hop.

If you happened upon me, please do yourself a huge favor and start at the beginning at Club Scraps Blog and explore all the talented Artists who are participating in this months blog.  You can find the Club Scrap blog here:


It's been a while since I have been able to participate in one of these.   I am so glad I had a chance to this month.  I have been playing, playing, playing in my craft room.


I did two projects this month.   First I want to show you how easy Club Scraps coordinated kits can make throwing together a tribute album.





 I have been wanting to make a tribute Album for my mom for a little over a year now, and life kept getting int he way.   I had taken Big Picture Classes Tribute Album Class while back and the one thing those folks are so good at is the coordinated look.   I have about zero capability of throwing together colors and and patterns and other elements to pull a theme together.   That's where Club Scrap comes in.

To get the content of the album I invited all our family (aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters etc) to contribute memories about my mom, or their favorite things.  I also invited a few of mine and my brothers friends who she "took in" (sometimes literally) in their teenage or college years to contribute.    The images and colors and sentiments that came with the Club Scrap's Reunion kit were a perfect fit for the feelings and sentiments I wanted to convey to my mom.  I kept it very simple, no major embellishments on the pages, just a background page, a photo matte and a coordinated strip between the photo and the memory.  Here are just a few of the pages.

In Hindsight a gnome would have been a perfect addition to this page



Finally I put together a cover and a dedication page using Reunion Elements:



It is just so easy to put together something that looks so amazing using the coordinated items Club Scrap puts together for  us.  I love that they are so talented so I do not have to be, but it looks like I am.

My next project was inspired by a project I saw in the magazine Cloth, Paper Scissors Nov/Dec issue by an artist named Geri deGruy.   You can check out her page here:

 http://geridegruy.com/dataviewer.asp?keyvalue=21770&page=Blog&Topic=mosaics

The project was a mixed media mosaic using paper.  I thought it would be fun to create a grouping of these  and hang in my craft room.

I used the following:

  • Grafix double  tack mounting film
  • Several different sheets of paper from the Reunion collection
  • The sand that came in the Club Scrap by the sea shore kit a long long long time ago  
  • Gold Micro Beads
  • 6x6 wrapped canvas
For my first creation I basically copied the artists sunburst design she demonstrated in the magazine.   I cut a 3" circle out if reunion red and cut it into wedges.  From the remaining papers I cut long thing triangles of varying lengths.

Before placing on the tack paper, I played around with a design on a 6"x6" piece paper, when I was happy with it I cut a sheet of double tack film to 6"x6".   I peeled off  the protective paper from one side of the double tack film and then laid out my design on the sticky side.

 When I was finished laying out all my paper pieces, I poured the sand in the empty spaces, this created the mosaic effect.


I then trimmed off thepeices hanging off the 6" x 6" paper.


Here is the close up of the sand "grout"

I spray painted the edges of my wrapped canvas gold and then tore off the remaining film and adhered my creation to my canvas





I created a second piece after running to the store to purchase gold microbeads (since I did not have any) thinking I might like that  look better.    I also switched up the "sun" part but stuck with the sun burst design for fluidity.  Here is the second piece (sorry about photos, it was dark outside so I had to shoot indoors)




This was a fun fun project.  I encourage you to try using your paper for projects like these every once in a while.

You have reached the end of this month's blog hop.

If you missed  a few artists you can star back at Club Scrap's page and hop through.



Join us next month when we will be featuring the Kit Constellations.  

Happy Crafting.   


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Austin 70.3 Race Report

This is my second year of Triathlon.  I rarely jump into anything with any forethought or care.  I usually just jump in.  That is how I started Triathlon last year and that is how I ended up participating in a late season 70.3 race this year.

I would be lying if I say my only goal was to finish Austin 70.3, of course I wanted to finish.  But I really, really wanted to finish around 8 hours.   Really!   Then after some advice from a more seasoned athlete than me (thanks Lawrence) I decided maybe I better make a few goals and be a little more realistic.  Bad days happen all the time.  Things out of your control happen all the time.   SO based on his advice I set the following goals with corresponding plans:
  • I am having a really really, really good day goal
  • A I am having a mediocre day goal,
  • Oh crap all hell has broken loose goal.
Not  really knowing what to expect running a half marathon after riding 56 miles I was not sure how to transfer my typical half marathon time (around 2:20)  to a half ironman run time so I kind of just guessed.   And, knowing my limitations on the swim and my weakness on the bike, I decided that realistically my good day goal would look like this:

Swim:    55 min
T1:    5 Min
Bike:    3:45
T2:    5 Min
Run:    2:40
Total:     7:30

A mediocre day I thought would look like this:
Swim:    60 min
T1:    7 Min
Bike:    4:15hr
T2:    7 Min
Run:    3 Hr
Total:     8:30

And I thought a really bad day would look like this:

Swim:    65 min
T1:    10 Min
Bike:    4.5 hr
T2:    10  Min
Run:    3:15  Hr
Total:      9:10

As race day approached I watched with horror (ok there is some exaggeration there) the predicted high temperature creep up and up.   I watched the wind speeds creep up and up.  For me almost the worse possible weather conditions were coming to fruition.  But, again, something I cannot control.  Good thing is, I trained through hot Texas summer, so the heat would not be totally new.  But, the wind would be brutal for me.

We drove up Friday morning.   I checked in shopped scoped out the run course. I figured I could scope out the bike course Saturday.  I thought the check in went extremely smoothly and was well organized.  No complaints there.



Saturday My goal as to get to the park (T1 and race start location)  at 8 am so I could get a swim a bike and a run in before the athlete meeting.   Well, with 2 kids and 3 adults in one hotel room that did not happen.  I was able to get a 20 min swim in at the park before the athlete meeting.  I took off on my bike only to be chased down by my husband to tell me I had one minute to get to the athlete meeting.  We raced over and I sat through that.  After the meeting we headed back to the T1 area where I took off for a 20 minute run.   After all that we checked the bike in.  Headed back over to T2 area and checked my run gear in.  I had all my nutrition in the bags.  And not knowing what would sit I packed a smorgasbord of things I knew worked, Gus, Paydays, Honey Stinger Chews, PB and J sandwiches, sour patch kids, all the good stuff. After settling everything in T2,     it was already time to go get ready for dinner.   Seriously, the days seemed to be 3 hours long and notice I did not get to preview the bike course. 

At the last minute, in order to ensure I had enough water on me, I decided to ditch my on frame bicycle pump (two water bottles won’t fit on my small frame with the pump)  , with the intention of going to buy CO2 cartridges.  That purchase never happened.  I was a panicked mess, but trusty Kirsten Coddish had a spare cartridge and valve in her mountain bike bag and let me borrow it for race day (unlike scores and scores of people, I did not need it)  

We left the kids at the hotel room and went to dinner with the team.  Before we left, my 10 yo son was complaining of a headache.   During dinner we got a panicked text message saying his head hurt so bad when he stood up and he could not stand up for more than a few seconds before the pain was so excruciating he would have to lay down, and then the pain would go away.  When we got back to the room, I have to admit I was a little panicked.  I had really never seen my son suffer from pain like that, and the way he described it scared me.  It was 9 pm.  I was ready to call the race off and pack him off to the emergency room. However, my level headed husband got to thinking and surmised it was probably a sinus headache (his first) based on all the sniffling etc .  He went off to the drug store to get a pain killer and some decongestant to help the little guy.  I have to say, I was still questioning my status as a mom, was I being a horrible mom by not taking him to the ER, what if it was a tumor or aneurism etc.  Was that worth a stupid little race.   I am happy to say 20 minutes after the Tylenol dose his headache was gone, and we have not had any headaches since the race. However, I went to bed way later than anticipated.   But I did sleep pretty well

Sunday dawned and we did arrive early, but man, I think I needed another half hour.  I really had no time to chill and relax before the race like I planned.  I was nervous and a little panicked.   I was trying to remember everything every seasoned athlete and coach told me (trust the training), but there is something daunting about thought of putting those three little distances  together into one race.   I never did it in training, how do I really know I can do it?  And to top it off the “Big D” hit me the instant I set foot on the race site.   So I visited the port-a-potties several times before the race.   My biggest fear was being in a wetsuit in the middle of the lake when a bout of “Big D”   would hit me. 

Swim
I made it over to the swim start, got a pic with Kristin, joined my other friends in the 40-44 age group and then all of a sudden it was time to get in the water.   Then the gun went off.  Here is how I swim, find my pace and rhythm, stick with it for hours at a time.  As such, I have no speed, but I can swim and swim once I find that pace.  I had goggle issues the first few hundred yards.  Luckily I had practiced drills to adjust goggle while still moving forward (thanks Liz).  I had a hard time seeing the buoys, but I had done tons of siting drills so I was able to work through that (thanks Liz).  I was ran over a couple of times, but I kept moving forward.  I was calm, relaxed, and surprisingly peaceful.  The discipline I hated (and feared)  the most turned out to be my favorite segment of the event. 





Swim Time 1:01 and 38 second.





T1
I made my way to T1 and  I stopped in the port-a-pottie on my way to the my bike to relieve my bladder.      I had no plain water to rinse my feet off so after a moment of thought I ended up using my Nuun infused water to rinse the sand and dirt off my feet.   Nothing other than that stood out as other time sucks, except having to carry my bike out of transition to avoid the stickers (note to self, probably a good idea to drill this maneuver during training). 

My T1 time was 7:15

Bike
Remember I never got to preview the Bike course.  I am going to go ahead and say right now, that was probably a good thing.  I was already nervous about the bike in general, and I think without the opportunity to drive down to ride it a few weeks ahead of time, driving it would have added additional stress on me.

About 5 miles into the bike, the “Big D”  hit me AGAIN.  I had no idea where the first rest stop was, so I was all consumed with this from mile 5 until the first stop with facilities (mile 15 ish).  The first 15 miles were not bad, some rollers, but if I remember correctly a general downhill grade.  I even averaged a nice 17-18 MPH on this stretch. I arrived at the first aid station,  I set a split when I entered the port a potty and when I came out so I knew how much time I spent there.  Thirteen minutes people.  But I had a nice conversation with the gal in the port a potty next to me having similar issues (nice to know I was not alone).  I probably could have reduced this time by not layering TP on the seat and sitting my wet bum down on it because I am sure that 5 minutes of this 13 minutes was spent scraping toilet paper off my wet legs, yeah, TP sticks to wet skin (TMI I know, but maybe someone will learn from my folly).

I grabbed a fresh water bottle and some Gus and off I went. Nothing sticks out for the next 15 miles except roller after roller. I do not recall any steep climbs.  I sipped my Nuun Water, ate my nutrition (Alternated Gus and Honey Stinger Chews).  Then Mile 32 hit.  And all I can say for me, mile 32 on was pure hell. I turned the corner into the wind.  The climbs were tougher and more frequent and longer.  I could not seem to get out of 12 MPH speed.  I would approach hills and see men and women walking their bikes up them.  Then the back to back beasts hit around mile 44.  Seriously, one long steady climb up, with another one looming in the back ground, with a little very steep one in between for good measure.  My belly was churning, and I was done.  I would not even consider getting off the bike to walk up the hills, because I would have quit right there if I did.  As I would pass people and they would pass me they would ask, “are the ever going to end, do you think there will be a down hill”?    I was also at the “I am mad” point.  As I approached T2 I was mad, and although I think I realized 2:45 on the run was probably not likely, I was definitely going for sub 3 if it killed me.  

Bike time 4:18 43



T2
Remember my belly was churning on the bike, well we had to alleviate that in the port a potties in T2.  I am ever so grateful they actually had facilities in transition. I actually had to use them twice in here for a total of about 9 minutes.  
T 2 was a “clean: transition, meaning all our run gear had to be in the bag, ted to the bar, nothing on the ground.   This was a  first for me.   I was a little clutzy with having to untie the bag from the bar and getting my run gear from the bag.  But I managed.  I worried less about nutrition because they made it clear in the meeting they would have plenty at the stations.  Clean transition conditions is something I definitely something I should practice for future races.

T2 Time 14:10

Run
Run glorious run.  I was never so happy to run before in my life. Yes it was hot, yes it was windy, yes it was hilly. But how lucky was I, I had a the best cheerleaders ever.  My family,  My Triple Threat Tough Friends and KMF performance friends.  There was not a place along the spectator line that there was not someone screaming like a maniac for me.  I decided right away I was doing 6 minute runs 1 minute walk intervals.  If it was not so hot I could have conquered a full on run.  But I wanted to make sure I was still running at mile 10, even if it was intervals.  The loops were awesome because I saw so many friends along the way.  I made it to loop two before I had to make a stop in the facilities, but it was shorter.   When I explained to Kirsten going out on the first loop that I was having GI issues, she suggested the Coke.  OMG, can I say nothing tastes as good as cold flat coke.  I stopped at every station for cold flat coke.   I’m pretty sure this saved me, and if it did not, I am pretending it did.  I was motoring along for the first two loops following my plan. Then around mile 10 my right calf decided enough was enough.  It seized up all the way down into my foot.  I had never experienced this before.  I was able to keep jogging along but I was getting a little worried.  Kristin came around to check on me and when I mentioned it to her she guessed it was probably my Achilles from all the hills.  And as it so happens, that Achilles tendon was the one that I slice through in high school, so it totally made sense.  I made it to mile 11 where my friend Nikki was waiting for me and I finally had to go to 1 minute runs 1 minute walks.  Kristen came around and said I may be able to hit sub 3 at that but it would be close.   So   Nikki and I started out on 1 min runs 1 minute walks.  Nikki was having some back issues, so I Ieft her behind and motored on up.  Then that  (darn) Kristen came up and asked if I had 3 min runs 1 minute walks in me.  I figured why the heck not, only after I walk to the cones.    I walked to the cones (this is where we turn to basically run along the spectator line and head into the arena). There is probably about ¾ to a mile left after you turn the cones.   I was able to run the rest of the way through the finisher chute, half crying half laughing.  I was so disoriented after coming through the finish chute I turned right and ended up in the medical tent, where I totally took advantage of an ice bath.







 Run time 2:58 38
Swim:    1:01 53 min
T1:    7:15 Min
Bike:    4:18hr
T2:    14:10 Min
Run:    2:58:37 Hr
Total:     8:40 38

So I was 10 minutes over time for a mediocre day and well short of an all hell has broke loose day.  

Other notes:

I followed my race nutrition plan to a tee.  It worked for me this time.  I did not need to fall back on something else because my body rejected something.  
I utilized several techniques during the race I learned in Coach Tommy Johnson’s competitive edge clinic (with Triple Threat Tough), most notably:
  • I concentrated on the next point, never the swim bike or run finish.  The next point.  In the swim it was the next Buoy.   On the run it was always the next aid station.  On the bike, well I was too mad to care. This really, really helped mentally.
  • When I found myself losing focus I would bring myself back and use his “photocopier technique” I would start at my feet and come on up.  On the swim I would adjust technique and body position, on the run, same thing, was I landing on my forefoot, were my knees facing forward, was my core tight, were my hips  positioned correctly, what about my arms etc.  On the bike, well again I was too mad.
  • One thing I repeated over and over on the bike “ the wind is my mountain. The wind is my mountain”.  I guess there was that.
The volunteers were AMAZING.  I cannot say enough about them.

Being my first long distance race, I have nothing to compare it too.  Overall I had a great experience from the moment I checked in until the moment I left.

I had someone apologize to me for not making it below 8 hrs.  I was like, really?   I am a Happy Athlete.  For a relatively novice triathlete, and my first Half Ironman, and with the belly issues, I was ecstatic.   And, combine that with where I was health and weight wise  just a short 2.5 years ago, take ecstatic and raise it to the hundredth power.  Not only am I blessed to live in a triathlon rich community, blessed with the resources to participate in this sport, blessed with a family that supports the sport, but I am blessed to be physically capable and healthy enough to do it.   I will never take that for granted and I will wear my 8:40 38 with tremendous pride.