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Meet Stephanie  by Tara

June29

IMG_2135Meet Stephanie. You may not recognize her pretty little face, but if you were to hear her voice, you’d be like, “I KNOW HER!” Stephanie has helped our members over the phone for 2 years. Last week she received a call from a member on a family getaway in Florida. A rental car company had placed a monster hold on her card and tied up all her vacation funds. Talk about a destination disaster! As you can imagine, this member was slightly upset. Stephanie was able to help sort everything out so that this family could enjoy the rest of their vacation. In fact, Stephanie is a Florida native and actually gave some recommendations of things to do in the area.

Not only did the member call in on Saturday to express her appreciation, but her daughter came in today in the hopes of thanking Stephanie in person. Pretty darned impressive.

Thanks, Stephanie, for all that you do for our members! That 1% extra makes all the difference – and can even take someone’s vacation from horror story to a feel good comedy!

 

Meet Deb  by Tara

June12

Deb has been with us for over 26 years. Today is her 29th birthday *wink wink* and the sweetest thing ever just happened: a member called in simply to sing HER happy birthday! ? Happy birthday, Deb! You’re the best – we love ya and so do our members!

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Meet Joe  by Tara

June3

Meet Joe. He’s been with our family for 3 years and is currently making the jump into a financial counselor role at our Mt. Vernon location. On his first day in his new position, Joe impressed a member so much that she actually brought him these delicious cupcakes the following day. Written on the box: You done good, kiddo, you done good.

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{Way to go, Joe! And thanks for sharing with us! YUM!}

Pie Meets Face  by Tara

May7

Wanna see someone get a pie (or 4) in the face?? Today’s your lucky day. Director of Card Services, Chris, made the mistake of challenging our crew to make some certain goals. Challenge accepted (and dominated)!

Thanks, Chris, for being such a great sport! You da best!

VIDEO: Happy Holidays 2014  by Tara

December12

Fresh, fun, financial & FESTIVE! That’s what we’re all about at Linn Area Credit Union. If you’re a member here already, you know that we are anything but ordinary. In true Linn Area fashion, here is our way to say HAPPY HOLIDAYS! {Be sure to wait for the bloopers at the end!}

Women Build Project 2013  by Tara

October22

For the second year, Linn Area Credit Union helped support Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build Project. This program challenges women to devote at least one day to the effort to eliminate poverty housing. Eleven of our LACU family members were a part of this day and we also provided lunch for the whole crew. Laura from our Mt. Vernon Road office was kind enough to share her experience with all of you guys! Take it away, Laura!

photo Women Build 2013It was a beautiful day to build a house. On Saturday, September 14th a group of Linn Area women gathered to participate in the Women Build Day for Habitat for Humanity.  

I was lucky enough to have the privilege to work side by side with not only these ladies but with Kyle, the soon to be homeowner, and many others from Habitat for Humanity. Kyle is a single mom with two children who has worked on multiple Habitat homes and when the time was right she decided to apply for her own Habitat for Humanity home. Once an applicant is approved for the home, the work begins right away for the new homeowner. Homeowners are required to put “sweat equity” (build time) into their house and today was one of those days.  

While Kyle has a lot of experience building, this was my first time working on a Habitat home. I was feeling a bit photo 123anervous about what I would be doing especially when I heard that our group would be siding the outside of the house and rough framing inside. When I arrived, the buzz of saws and pounding of hammers filled the air. I wasn’t sure where to start or what to do but quickly found a spot to help. My first task was to hold boards while Kelsi, one of my fellow Linn Area teammates, sawed them for the staircase. I was good with holding the boards. Quite frankly the large circular saw scared me a bit and I wasn’t feeling the need to visit an Urgent Care that day.  

photo 109After we got the boards ready my teammates Jeni and Bobbie placed them on the stringers for the staircase. As I watched them, I knew that the stairs had to be just right. The carpet would need to lay smoothly over each one. Details that I had never really thought about, but now realized the importance of because one day soon a family would make many trips up and down those stairs.  

I then made my way outside to join the large group of ladies who were starting to putphoto 124 siding up. Let me tell you, you can’t just throw that stuff up there and – boom – it’s done. There’s measuring, cutting, “where are the studs”, how do we get around the utility meter, and that’s all before we even put one piece up! One of the Habitat team members came over and asked Bonnie and I to cut a piece of siding to go under the window at the back of the house. Yes, we could do this! We measured twice and cut once, crossed our fingers and started to put it up.  

Did I mention that this was a split level house and the window we were doing this for was not on the lower level?  

Needless to say, we did a heck of a job and got it up there on the first try.  

As the day came to a close there was a sense of accomplishment, empowerment, and joy. Laughter was shared and deeper friendships were developed through this experience. This wasn’t just about building a house. It was bringing the dream of home ownership to reality for a family, and in the process a special place for the Habitat for Humanity project was built in my heart too.photo 100

See Jenny Run  by Tara

January25

The time has come, friends! We’ve reached the last leg of our Ironman journey with Jenny Lorenz. After being kicked by swimmers and fighting insane wind on a bike, it’s now time to close out this challenge with a marathon. That’s just 26.2 miles. No biggie… Take a shot of Coca Cola and down an energy bar – let’s cross this finish line together:

Despite the long, windy, hot bike my legs felt pretty good running. I focused on keeping my pace under control and keeping good form.  At about mile 1 or so of the run my “fan club” was out in force to cheer me on which was a nice pick me up. The first 10 miles of the run in town on Alii is hot; really hot.

So I once again focused on using the aid stations to keep cool – ice in my hat, down my shirt, up my arm coolers – it helped immensely. Again, I was very proud at executing a good plan in this regard as I never felt overheated.  I did my best to stay steady. I ran between the aid stations and then walked through them to take care of myself. I saw my family and friends again at mile 9 or so before heading  up “Hot Corner” and out toward the Queen K.  They asked me how I was feeling and my honest response was “Pretty good!”

Once you get out onto the Queen K it starts to get lonely. Other than the athletes (who aren’t overly chatty at this point) there are very few fans. I found myself playing mental games to make it from aid station to aid station without letting myself walk. There’s a lot of time to think out there, be it good or bad, and with little distraction it gets tough at times. I tried my best to stay focused on the task and stay positive. I hit the Energy Lab in good shape, grabbed my spare fuel belt bottles at special needs and headed back into town.

The hardest part of any marathon are the last miles. And I find it particularly cruel there is a steady climb for a few miles before you hit the last mile or so (which is largely downhill) on this course.  That steady climb was where it got tough for me. My pace had slowed considerably, my feet were sore and I could already tell I was destined to lose several toenails, and it was dark; really dark out there.

A couple women who I know were in my age group passed me in this stretch but I just couldn’t keep pace with them.  But I managed to keep running, well, maybe it was much more of a jog at this point, but I wasn’t walking; keeping up with my goal of only walking the aid stations. And for the first time in 5 Ironman races I wasn’t suffering from cramping in the latter part of the marathon – a new accomplishment for me.

Finally, I made it to the top of the hill near Palani. That’s when you know you’re going to make it. The crowds are back cheering you on and you get to go downhill. Halleluiah!  I made the turn down toward Hot Corner and headed up Alii. Like the swim and bike I took away some very positive things from the run yet definitely have much room to improve. I had hoped to run around a 4 hour marathon and with a time of 4:27 and change, didn’t accomplish that goal.   I did, however improve upon my 2009 Kona marathon time by over 21 minutes so I was happy about that.  And I also accomplished my goal of not walking on the course except through the aid stations. So I had a lot to feel good about despite being somewhat disappointed I didn’t make my time goal. Perhaps my arm coolers covering up my “Just Go Faster” mantra written on my arm was a limiter since I couldn’t see it as a reminder :)

Once you make that turn onto Alii you can see the lights, the crowds, and hear the music thumping at the finish line.  There’s nothing like the finish in Kona. The stage, the lights, the jumbotron, the music, and so many people there cheering you on. It’s at this point you forget any dark patches, any regrets, all the “If only I would haves” and just celebrate the accomplishment. And I did just that. I was grinning ear to ear, high five-ing every single hand that I could reach down that chute.  My family and friends were there right before the finish line so I got to give them a high five, as well. I can’t image that experience ever getting old.

I crossed the finish line in 12 hours, 24 minutes and 16 seconds. I had hoped to break 12 hours so I missed my mark.  But the good news was I did manage to improve upon my 2009 time by over 32 minutes; in tougher conditions on the bike for sure.  Let’s see… At that rate I should go around 11:52 and change next time, right?  Yes, call me crazy but I have already decided there needs to be a next time. I definitely want another shot at this beast – I’ve got some unfinished business out there on that course.

After a short visit to the med tent to get my bearings (was feeling extremely dizzy after the finish), collecting my pre race bag, my finisher bag and medal, and getting my legs rubbed out I was reunited with my fan club. They were all still there patiently waiting after a long day of providing support. You’ve got to give them credit. It’s a long day out there for them too.  And they finished with flying colors.  After meeting up and seizing a photo op, we headed to Tom and Lois’ condo so I could take a desperately needed shower.

My day wasn’t over, however. I make it a ritual to watch the last finishers come in and love every second of it. Dick was a great sport and joined me for what I find are the most inspiring moments of this race. In the last hour you see finishers in their 60’s, 70’s and even 80’s crossing that line. It’s so amazing to see these people out there on this brutally tough course accomplishing the dream.  I’m in awe of their drive to endure and hope I can continue to race with the same passion long into the future.

As with any race I’ve done there are always things I look back on and hope to improve next time.  One thing I know for sure, however, I have no regrets about how I prepared for this race.  With the help of a fabulous coach, amazing training partners, and a supportive family at home and at work, I was able to achieve my dream of running down Alii Drive and finishing this race once again.  I can’t imagine it ever getting old.

And one other thing I’m particularly proud I accomplished this year was raising in excess of $5,771.40 for Children’s Miracle Network.  With the help of countless generous friends, we will be able to make a positive difference in many children’s lives.  Being blessed with the ability to compete at this level is such a gift and I’m thrilled I could do my small part to give a gift back through a sport I truly love.

Thank you to Jenny for letting us experience all the highs and lows of an Ironman without the years of prep and pain. ;o) Congratulations on conquering the Ironman World Championship yet again! We are so proud of you.

See Jenny Bike  by Tara

January18

Back for more??? Woohoo! We are spotlighting Jenny Lorenz’s Ironman experience in a three parter. (If you haven’t read the first one yet, jump over here.) Ready for the next leg of Jenny’s journey? Take a deep breath, maybe grab a power bar, and get ready to See Jenny Bike:

I headed out on the bike up Palani and made the hard left a few blocks up the hill.  When you make that turn, there are tons of people cheering, cowbells ringing, and music pumping from the announcer stand right at that corner. It’s a fabulous send off.  People are going nuts.

The only bad thing about that is you can’t hear a thing, especially something… say… like your bike computer flying off and hitting the pavement. So when you run over it with your back wheel you think you’re running over one of a gazillion reflector things that are in the roads over there. (Due to their opposition to having street lights.)  Yep, in the very first mile I’m without my Joule which tells me my speed, power output, heart rate, etc.  Not ideal.

I notice it’s gone a bit later when I look down to check it.  I tried not to panic and calmly pulled off the course. I then looked back down the road to try to assess where it might have fallen. In doing that I realized I had no idea and also realized that it would be incredibly difficult for me to go against the grain of bikers coming toward me or fight the crowds on the sides of the road to get back there. So I chose to mount up and ride on.

The course intersected again at the spot where we took the hard left before we left town, maybe 8 or 9 miles into the ride.  So when I got to that spot I stopped again to ask a volunteer if anyone had seen it fly off and turned it in to them.   I waited as he ran down a few blocks inquiring, but no such luck.  So before I headed out onto the Queen K I was struck with the realization that I was going to have to bike this course completely by feel. I tried to think positive and have faith in something Marilyn tells me – that I have a good sense of feel and perceived exertion on the bike – and resolved to stay positive and do the best I could.  I did have a watch on so I at least had the time which is extremely important to me for timing my nutrition.

The first part of the bike was relatively uneventful. I was hydrated well my stomach felt good, and I was doing a good job of taking care of myself and keeping cool by dumping water on myself. I made that a high priority and didn’t miss one opportunity to do so at the aid stations.  I ate my Luna bar after settling in and then just churned away. Hydration and nutrition (enough Gu to choke a horse) went like clockwork and I was enjoying the ride.  That is until the turn up to Hawi. Holy cow!  I thought that section of the ride last time was tough. Well that seemed like a recovery spin compared to this year.

At one point in that climb with the headwind gusting so hard I was afraid to be blown off the road and I remember thinking “It’s probably a good thing I don’t have my computer because I know I’d be super mad at how slow I’m going!” It was awful. When I made the turnaround in Hawi I actually yelled “Yippee!!” to the crowd. I was so happy not to be fighting that wind anymore.

I decided to stop at special needs and grab my Coke and a banana. I felt like I needed a shot of caffeine and sugar after that effort on the bike. The ride out of Hawi was with the wind so I was flying and loving it. Unfortunately it was short lived. Once I made the turn back onto the Queen K it was headwind for what seemed an eternity. The winds never make sense to me there. It seems like they are against us WAY more than with us. So I tried to stay small and aero and did my best to bike strong without blowing myself up for the run.  I continued to be diligent with my hydration, nutrition and kept myself cool and was proud of my efforts here as I didn’t feel overheated and my stomach was in a good place for the whole ride.

In assessing my bike after the fact, a time of 6:28:18, one of my absolute slowest IM bike times, I probably rode too conservatively.  Not having my computer, I really wasn’t sure.  Interestingly, my time was 39 seconds faster than my Kona 2009 bike time, however, in tougher conditions. Within a minute of the same time!  As it turns out, I have mixed emotions about the bike, I had hoped to ride much faster and felt I was fit enough to do so.  It was slow, yes, but I took away some positives from the bike, as well.  And even though I’d been battling headwinds for a while, I felt good (relatively speaking) coming into transition.

When you come to the dismount line in Kona a volunteer is right there to take your bike for you. No running around searching for your spot in transition. You just have to manage to get off your bike and it’s magically taken care of for you. So nice!  Once I got off my bike I headed to my T-2 bag; same efficient drill as T-1 with a volunteer having it ready for me before I reached them.  Back to the changing tent which was much less crowded this time.  A 6 hour + bike will help spread things out for a girl. Argh!  My wonderful volunteer, after putting an ice cold towel on my shoulders, (which feels better than almost anything in the world at that time)  help me put on my race belt and fuel belt as I slipped my shoes on.  Another quick layer of sunscreen and a shot of Coke and I headed out to the run.

Join us next week as we live vicariously through her as Jenny finishes the last leg of this Ironman challenge – with a MARATHON!

See Jenny Swim  by Tara

January7

When you are proud of someone you love, you want to shout their successes out to the world! This is exactly how we feel about our very own Jenny Lorenz. Not only is she the amazing Executive Vice President of Linn Area Credit Union, but she is an extremely accomplished triathlete. When you look up the word “dynamic” in the dictionary, I’m pretty sure Jenny’s picture is riiiiiight there. She does more by 7:00 am than many of us do all day! (Or maybe it’s just me…?!)

Jenny qualified for and then participated in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii in 2012. When she returned, she wrote (beautifully) all about her experience. And, seriously, if you’ve ever wondered what someone who participates in an event like this is thinking, you’re going to LOVE her following her story over the next three weeks (see Jenny, Swim, See Jenny Bike, See Jenny Run).

Get ready to feel inspired! Enjoy the first installment of this three part series, See Jenny Swim:

In my opinion, the Ironman World Championship race in Kona is an awe inspiring event. The magic of the island, the history behind the event, the fittest and fastest athletes in the sport, from all around the world racing beside you…(Well WAY ahead of me, but in the same race, nonetheless)… It is truly a special experience and is difficult for me to articulate just how amazing it is.   The fact that I’ve been given the opportunity to compete in this event twice makes me feel so unbelievably blessed.

Coming into the race this year I felt healthy and strong.  Throughout this race season I’d been able to get a few minor, yet nagging, injuries under control.  For the first time in about 3 years I could run virtually pain free; a very nice change.  This time I decided to head to Kona 8 days early in order to give myself time to decompress from the chaos at home/work, acclimate to the heat and get used to the time change.  In the days leading up to the race I did my best to relax and not get too caught up in the pre-race mania.  I had confidence in my fitness level and confidence in my race strategy. I had outlined my race plan for both the day before the race and race day to the hour. No details were left unchecked. So on race morning I was relaxed and excited to get out on the course.

My day started at 3:30 a.m. when my alarm went off.  I got up and got ready while starting to eat my breakfast.  It takes me a while to get food down that early so I always need to allow some extra time.  So while I got my race gear on and gathered my things, I ate a very unspectacular breakfast of peanut butter toast, Gatorade, plain scrambled eggs, and apple bananas. (Yum!!  My favorite fruit from the island.)  Once I finished eating I gathered my special needs bags and my swim gear and headed down to Alii Drive to catch the shuttle to the pier at 4:30.

You can see the pier from practically anywhere on the western coast of the island on race morning. It’s all lit up and is buzzing with activity. The energy and excitement created by the 1,800+ athletes and countless volunteers is palpable. My first stop was to body marking where I had the nicest two ladies take care of me there.  The pride they took in making sure my number looked absolutely perfect was so great.  Their infectious enthusiasm was such a perfect start to my day; they made me feel like I was the most important person in their world at the time.  After I got body marked I headed to transition to put my fluids in the bottles on my bike, check my gearing and computer setup, put my fuel belt bottles in my T-2 bag (I wear a fuel belt so I can take my super high sodium electrolyte mix along to prevent cramping.) and pump my tires. Now it was just sit and wait for the directive to get in the water. I passed the time chatting with others while waiting, trying not to annoy anyone who seemed nervous or unwilling to visit.

The pro men’s race cannon went off at 6:30 and the pro women at 6:35. I chose to get in the water just as the pro women started as I was just anxious to be out there. So I waded in and made my way to the start line, somewhere in the middle, where the people on surf boards were positioned.  As I bobbed around in the water I looked back at the sea wall to see if I could spot my support crew all clad in their Hawkeye yellow “Jenny Lorenz Fan Club” t-shirts and watched the sea of athletes all entering the water.  It is quite a sight to behold being out in the water and looking back at the crowds.

Due to some cannon malfunction we had no big boom send off this time. Just the announcer screaming “Go! Go! Go!” at us. So with that our race began and we were off – 1,800 or so of us all trying to swim in what seems like the width of Washington High School’s pool where we swim our Master’ s practices. I was happy that I didn’t have anyone intentionally push my head under or grab my ankles this year; people seemed much more courteous than last time I raced here.  But I didn’t exactly come out of the swim unscathed either. I ended up with a bruise on my right thigh, a bruise on the left side of my chest and was bleeding in two spots on my leg when I got out of the water. That being the case, I felt like I had a nice steady swim. I held my own when things got really bottled up, I tried to stay strong and focus on good form, and I never felt panicky or remotely close to blowing up. I even noticed the fish and divers we were swimming over.  (I LOVE swimming in the ocean where you can see!)  Perhaps I wasn’t going fast enough if I had time to notice all that? The second half of the swim seemed to take less time than the first and I had less traffic, which was welcomed. I exited the water at 1:18 and change. I had hoped to be in the 1:15 neighborhood but was satisfied with my result which was over 7 minutes faster than my time from this race in 2009.

I ran up the steps to the makeshift showers and took good care to get as much of the salt water off me as possible. I didn’t need that burning me all day for sure. As I ran through transition I marveled at how efficient the volunteers are at getting our gear to us. I didn’t have to miss a step as a volunteer had my bag ready for me before I got to them.  The changing tent, however, was an absolute zoo. In my last IM in Madison I was immediately met by a volunteer that tended to me.  Here there were so many more people in there all at the same time there was barely anywhere to dump my gear. I scurried around and finally found an open spot and eventually a volunteer was freed up and came to assist me. I made the decision to wear arm coolers after getting completely scorched the last time (My coach, Marilyn McDonald’s advice to wear them was extremely wise and greatly appreciated.) so I put those on while my volunteer put another layer of sunscreen on my back for me. I grabbed my bike shoes, sunglasses and the Luna Bar I had in my transition bag and headed out to my bike.

What will the open road hold for Jenny as she heads out on her bike – and loses her most important piece of race gear! Join us next Monday for the next part of her story, See Jenny Bike.

Carve-O-Rama 2012 Winner!  by Tara

November5

Thank you to all of you who took the time to vote in our friendly competition! The winning department of our 2012 Carve-O-Rama is…

COLLECTIONS!

Congratulations, Collections! It is clear that your carving skills aren’t to be messed with. This department will enjoy a full year of bragging rights. Woohoo!

And, just in case you are curious, second place went to our SE Branch and the MSR/SW Drive Up Branch took third.

Thanks again to all of you who put in your two cents to help us determine our winner!

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