Friday, December 07, 2012

Couch Time

So what happens when you burn the candle at both ends (rehab, training, make up for lost mom/wife time, off season fun)? Well I end up sick on the couch.  Not the make you unconscious sick, but the you are awake and feel every cell in your body ache kind of sick.  It happens and when it does it is a great time to do something that most of us wont do - chill out. 

Unlike an injury that tends to mess with my head, illness is just inconvenient.  I know it wont last long, especially if I take heed and shut things down early.  The kids still need forms filled out, rides to or from school or sports, dinner still needs to get to the table somehow, dogs still need to be looked after, projects still have deadlines and life still goes on.  So now is a great time to look at what is really important that I can do and not tax the body too much. 

This is the perfect time to practice that which we need in races and so often forget to practice, "roll with the punches". So what can I do?  I can catch up on blogs and some educational stuff that I usually fall asleep in the first paragraph when I am training.  It is a great time to get a bit ahead on holiday shopping that I usually save until the last minute.  It is a perfect opportunity to watch that chick flick in the middle of the day when no one is around (found a great documentary called Bigger than Elvis about a former Elvis co-star gone to be a nun).  Guilt free napping is a benefit as well. 

I have learned over the years that the body has a way of getting what it wants.  As an athlete, picking up subtle cues from the body is tricky (we let our mind get in the way too often).  I have also learned that if I don't wait for the proverbial 2"4 to hit me over the head, that the couch time is minimal.  While I don't love being sick, I can make the most of the time and still be an athlete.  No worries - I will be back at it with some good rest and all new ideas in no time.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Wildest Ride III

Morning of - This is it! The emotions are at an all time high and yet in a strange way I have a calm. It is another race and I know how to do this thing.  Love my new race kit.  A few weeks ago, I got the news that I was receiving this kit that is the same as my coach's without her sponsors. What an honor and so thrilled to represent her and her new endeavor with Michele Landry at Smashfest Queens.

Body Marking
How many times have I watched this on TV.  So surreal to be standing here.  The volunteers are incredible and yep - shed a few tears here.

While waiting to line up, I got to get a hug from the great Julie Moss and Heather Fuhr.  What an honor and certainly must be good mojo.  While in transition, I saw so many friend racing and was reminded of that while we are competitors, we all know that this only happens because we are all here, so there is an amazing camaraderie as well.  I have met so many great people in this sport and am proud to call them my friends.  I got to line up with my friend, Rachelle Jorgensen. This woman is a bad ass athlete and broke the record for our age group in Arizona when we competed together. 

Race Report - 
We all got in the water and had to tread water for what felt like eternity.  My friend Michele Simmons had told me to take a moment and listen to the drums beating, look around and take it all in.. I did but had to be careful to keep tears out of my goggles.  The energy was like none other.  The swells were big and I was concerned as to how the swim would go but this is Kona!  I'd like to say the gun went off, but seems there was a problem so we were sent off by the Voice of Ironman yelling "go, go, go".  We were off.  The mass start doesn't bother me, but this one is special.  It was a "washing machine" but everyone was on their best behavior.  The water was clear at times and the view under was awesome.  The water was rough and while I normally swim very straight, there were times that I was on one side of the buoys and then the next I would be on the other side.  When you swim with 2000 other people at the same time at roughly the same effort, you get sucked along. We were all - all over the place.  We made the turn around and I was tempted to look at my watch, but for fear of holding up the line I didn't.  I was pretty sure it had taken us a long time. Heading back in was great as a few times I got clear water and was able to stretch out.  Soon I was on the feet of "guy in green race kit". He provided awesome bubbles to chase and if I tried to get around him, he sped up so I just sat on the ride.  Before I knew it, I was hearing Mike Reilly's voice and knew we were almost back. My first World Championship swim all most done - Focus Dawn.  The view underwater as I swam up to the steps was just like on TV. How cool!!
Swim time 1:07 - not my slowest, but close.
Before the race started I noticed the flags. We had calm winds leading up to the race, but this morning I noticed the flags were quite busy.  We have a short loop in town before heading out to the Queen K highway.  Once out on the highway, we were all flying.  Yep, that means a head wind coming back.  Still I had no idea how hard the wind was pushing us as my heart rate had yet to settle down.  Let me say this: on the NBC coverage the course looks flat. It is NOT!  Not even a little bit.  I had been warned so it wasn't a big surprise - yet!  Once we get closer to Waikoloa, thinks get a bit more serious.  Earlier someone had reminded me that we want the hardest day and that this was shaping up to be that - ok I'm all in now.   I recall watching one year on TV where all the bikes were at a lean.  This is what we were getting.  I see coach on the side of the road and giver her the look of "Oh my!". Coach has an amazing way to get the message across - "winds are narly and you are doing great...". Sometimes I wonder what she sees.  
We make the turn to head up towards Hawi and then, well... like nothing I have experienced. If I loosened my grip on the handle bars - I was in the middle of the lane.  We were up hill (8 mile-ish climb) in to a headwind with cross gusts.  There were times where some cycling machines would blast right past me and I just thought how cool is that to be able to ride your bike like that.  I aspire to that one day.  My mantra at this point was to relax and avoid fighting the bike.  I admit that I failed on this more than a few times.  I was not positive happy thinker the whole time.  I did not appreciate the view the whole time.  I did cuss at the sky a few times (and some of you know I can do that with the best of them).  I did look around some of the time and marvel at the beauty.  I did remind myself that I was now in the lava fields just like I had seen so many times.  I did appreciate the fact that I was able to just be here and that so many still hold the dream.  Back on to the Queen K  - last 40 miles. This hurt.  There were times when I would push and my right knee was letting me know that now is a good time to be done.  At this point, I was using all my mental resources and figured all I could do was stay focused and get done as soon as possible.  That seemed to be a long time.  I did take the time to realize that more than half of my day was nearly finished and that what I have dreamed about and worked for for such a long time was on the back end.  Back into transition, and once again wonderful volunteers take care of me and help me get my run gear on and out the "door".  
Bike time: 6:00
It should be noted that my foot has been a bit of a problem for the past 4 weeks.  Once again I have been training using alternative measures for the run.  I wasn't sure how things would feel but I was certain that my mind would take over.  Right away, I felt the effects of the effort on the bike.  Get nutrition in and keep moving.  Our "home" here is at the 2 mile mark on the run and I was beyond thrilled to see my family there.  Something about being reminded that there is more to you than the current place you are experiencing makes it better.  Down to the turnaround at mile 5.  This is where I got to see so many of my friends competing.  That is just the best feeling and the shared energy is moving.  The foot was hurting but manageable.  This is my dream after all.  Back to the house and see the kids and Jesse again. Here is where things got special.  Two of my kids ran with me for a few miles.  Their words of encouragement are some that will stay with me forever.  I am a blessed woman.  Up Palani Hill - this hurt.  Out on the Queen K - hot.  Like crazy hot. Like not San Antonio hot, but like cooking from the inside hot.  I had heard about it, but experiencing it was something else.  And - this was my dream.  I wanted to see what I could do.  I wanted to be put to the test. I had made some mistakes on my race day preparation and so was low on my nutrition.  That was on me - next time read where the special needs bags are going to be.  The usual 13 - 14 mile mark is not the same at all races.  While I was prepared to get my extra nutrition at mile 13, it was actually at mile 18.  Again, this was on me and I dug a hole that I couldn't get out of.  The energy lab is all that it is cracked up to be and still it is another great time to make connections with those going through this with me. I made a point to do just that.  This is really such an amazing experience.  The bottom of the lab is mile 18 and there I got my supplies.  A bit too late, but we are in single digits now so I know I can gut it out.  I saw Coach and Cat at mile 22 and again that visual connection does wonders and gave me a bit of energy to keep the legs moving.  Once I hit Palani at mile 25 I knew it was done.  Snot bawling was almost happening.  By the way - it is really hard to snot bawl and run at the same time so I resorted to the "ugly cry". Where you try not to cry but can't help it so your face twists up. So I just smiled and snot bawled.  When I turned on to Ali'i, the crowds were amazing.  Then out of the crowds I saw my friend Michelle going crazy. Like not a little crazy but straight jacket crazy (having just read her blog I understand why) - more ugly cry.  Down the shoot - I took it all it.  I remember most of it. I saw my family. Then the ramp to the finish line - beyond words.  Take it all in.  Look up at the big screen.  Know that all your loved ones are watching and try to convey with a single look the gratitude and love that you have for them because you know that they ALL helped make this a reality.  
Run: 4:11 - not my slowest but close
Total 11:27 (same time as my first Ironman!)

It has just begun....

The Wildest Trip - Part II

I am officially a Kona Athlete!  Being here is surreal and wonderful.  There is a never ending list of things to do.

The Underpants Run: This is one tradition that I have looked forward to since - well since it started. I loved the idea of poking fun at one's self so much that I even helped start one in San Antonio.  Now I am doing it here!

Bike and gear Check in.
A sure sign that there is no turning back!
Lights, Camera, ...almost action time
So many amazing friends that I am blessed to have in this sport.  These are some of the coolest people around...

Go time....

The Wildest Trip - part 1

When I was a senior in high school, I discovered the Ironman.  I remember sitting in front of the TV and seeing these people run through lava fields and thinking wow that looks hard and kinda cool.  Keep in mind - at that time in my life I really wasn't up for anything that was "hard" but this touched me.  From that time on I rarely missed it and have many memories.  Here are a few - I remember watching when Lori Boden and her Mom race, I remember the "Ironwar" (although I am not sure if I remember it from live or from seeing it so many times since). I remember all of Peter Reid's hair colors (I dare say I have had some of the same).  I remember the orange Saucony shirts worn by Heather and Paula, I remember missing a Sunday that I was supposed to work at church because I was watching the Ironman when I had a 2 month old, I remember seeing lots of Lava fields and trying to understand what it was like to run in that kind of heat.  I remember Tim DeBoom winning the Ironman Title the year of 9/11.  The list really goes on.

In 2002, I married my soul mate. In that time where you stay up all night talking and telling those things you never tell anyone else, I told him "I want to do an Ironman before I am 40".  ( I didn't know that there were many Ironman races, that the Ironman in Hawaii was the World Championships and that to get here required qualifying).  I also told him that I wanted to qualify for the Boston Marathon - something that had eluded me at the time ( I have since done that twice).  Shortly there after I also set forth on my journey towards learning more about spinal disease and scoliosis that I thought I would ever know.  At the beginning of that "trip", I had a therapist tell me to stop running and get a bike that I rode outside to develop my core and balance.  I did and then told my husband that this was a sign that I was to embark on the whole Ironman thing ( I was 37 and no I didn't heed the stop running advice).  I went to the gym and hired this guy that I knew was about to go to the Hawaii Ironman to teach me how to ride a bike so I could go too! Yep he "schooled me" on all things Ironman as well as how to ride a bike - he was one of the top ranked cyclists in San Antonio.  Rather than being discouraged the fire got stronger and the goal was set.
During this adventure, I had to address the fact that my spine still needed attention and the more I pressed the more it required it.  One of the greatest things about this sport is how transparent the top professionals are to the amateurs.  I came across an article written by the great Simon Lessing and was soon introduced to the best Neurosurgeon in the country who happens to be an Ironman as well and the best Physical Therapist who also happens to be an Ironman.  After his handy work - I was back at it and in search of getting to Kona.

I have made myself a student of this sport.  I studied everything and everyone.  Shortly after my first Ironman (Florida in 2005), I came across Hillary Biscay and started to follow her career.  She was a lot like me - an English major, loved teaching, loved a challenge and started this thing with a "whatever it takes mentality".  After getting close to qualifying on more than one occasion, I decided to ask her to coach me. After 3 long days, the email came through that she would.  Two months later, I raced Ironman Arizona, had a fantastic day and reached the podium and got a slot to race in Kona the following year.

So here we are - 2012 and I sit here listening to the wave crash and I am in Kona.  While this is the condensed version ( my unbelievably supportive family will tell you the VERY condensed version), it is my journey.  So much has been learned and some of it is here on this blog.  The one thing I know now, is that it is far from the end.  The list of amazing people that have helped me get here is endless.  I am certain I would have to have an entire new post just to scratch the surface.  I have to say that without my family and their undying support, this would not have happened.
Jesse- I love you with all my heart.  You never doubted, never said no, never said wait, always said what ever we need to do.  Thank you.
Devin - You always said go for it Mom and were amazing at making the connection of what I hoped you kids would get from this.  You and your brother put up with me riding my trainer at your games.
Jonah - You reminded me "no plan B" and said go for it. You put up with me missing some of your games for training.
Paige - You just always looked at me with those "starry eyes" and said I want to be like you Mom.  You held me to the highest standard.
Mom and Dad - Even when you didn't get it - you got me. I love you for that
Keane and Ashley - You even met me along the way - discovering your "inner athlete" and let me be the big sister to feel like I showed you a way.
Diane and the Elders - I couldn't have a better family to have married in to.  Thank you for being there and supporting me. Di - you just have always made me feel so important. Thank you
The "sisters" - Thank you for keeping me grounded and reminding me that a girls night out is important.
Here we go....

Saturday, September 08, 2012

On the Ropes

On the Ropes

There are just days like this.  For whatever reason, everything seems to happen that can shake ones confidence.  The wind is in your face, the heat beats down on you, your stomach rebels, fatigue is never ending, the brain won’t cooperate or the legs burn. The list goes on but there are times that make you wonder why are you doing this.  How on earth did you ever have success or will you ever experience success again.  There are just days like that.  Today was my day like this.  I was like a boxer on the ropes. Nothing I did could avoid the punches coming my way.  It made me really think, in boxing there really is only one winner. There isn’t second place or fourth place, so what keeps one in the ring when you are on the ropes?  There isn’t anyone whispering in your ear, “ it’s going to get better” or “ you can do this” or “ you are the best”, so why stay in the ring? 
I decided that at some point this has to be an inside job.  It has to be more than winning to want to continue to try to win. It has to be about knowing that around the proverbial corner the lesson in learned.  The vantage point will shed light on the next lesson.  The effort has to be about more that everyone else getting it because there are times that I won’t even get it.

Experience has shown me though, that right around the next corner can be the opening.   In the next minute the winds may change or the body will come around – or it won’t.  In either case, I better be doing it because I love it. It has to have more meaning that just getting the ride in or doing the race done.  It has to remind me that I am stronger than I think I am.  It has to remind me that I don’t quit or give up.  It has to be an experience I can fall back on when I am on the ropes in other areas of my life.  So for now – I’m still in the ring.
 And yes this is me with blond hair, in my second degree black belt test.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Drop by Drop - Empty the Cup

Drop by Drop 

It has been almost a year since I poured out my cup! 
I started the sport of triathlon in 2004. Right away I knew this was my “path”.  It is more than a hobby – it is my religion, meditation and therapy.  Right away I knew that I needed a teacher so I hired my first coach. He told me to expect my “highest highs and lowest lows” when I signed up for my first Ironman. “I am all in” was my thought.  In the process of doing my first three Ironman races, I had just that experience.  I learned what it felt like to win and I learned what it was like to face great disappointment.  There were times when I had to decide that I would “be all in” and do things that some think are extreme. I traveled across the country to find a surgeon to fix my spine when others told me to retire.  I just kept asking questions because I knew there was more. I had a legend in the sport tell me that it was time for me to learn to listen to my body.  I withdrew from what others told me and did just that.  I had some good experiences and made some gains.  Yet again, while I came close – I came up short.  When going it alone- sometimes its hard to see the forest for the trees. 
About a year ago, in the span of two weeks I experienced all new “highest highs” and “lowest lows”. I went from running my fastest Ironman marathon and missing the goal by 2:30 min but realizing I did have yet another level to competing again and coming up with less than stellar results and really questioning what else I could do.  Right then and there, I made up my mind to go to the one person that I knew would get me there because she had shared her “highest highs and lowest lows”.  I figured she’d at least give me the truth about what I was really doing.  I sent the email knowing that regardless of the outcome this was the last stone unturned in my journey.  Now sending an email to the best of the best and asking for help is a little nerve wrecking and once “send” is pressed there is no getting it back.  I had about 1 week to decide that if the response came I had better know what I was willing to do.  Right in the middle of Ruths Chris steak house – the email came and I was ready.
I had asked Hillary Biscay to take me under her wing.  I had presented her with all the challenges of spinal disease, a mom of 3 and a lot of ideas based on experience of what I could and was pretty sure I couldn’t do.  She had one question for me – what are you willing to do?  Without a doubt – I would empty my cup.  Whatever I knew about myself, I trusted that she knew more. She had experienced more, learned more and did more that I would have ever imagined at that point.  I was just going to trust.  Either way, I would grow and learn. 
It has been a year. There have been times that I have to weekly, daily, hourly – empty my cup.  I have learned that I have developed some ideas on what I ‘think” I can do rather that what I really can do.  I am reminded that the bar is constantly being raised and that is what I came here for.  I have learned that my body is telling me a new story – “I can do more”.  There is an art to listening.  Too often we listen through filters.  I had listened to my body through the filters of the doctors that told me I couldn’t do this, through those that told me I didn’t have what it took, through those that didn’t understand the dream.  By emptying my cup and trusting my coach, I now listen through new filters.  I listen through her filter of “why not”.  As of yet, I haven’t been able to come up with an answer that is acceptable, so I just show up. 
Everyone should have someone in their life that sees more in them than they see in themselves.  They should have someone that requires that the only requirement is that we believe that they believe.  That challenges us to empty our cup and sometimes “smash the damn thing”! Thanks Hillary

The Japanese master Nan-in gave audience to a professor of philosophy. Serving tea, Nan-in filled his visitor's cup, and kept pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he could restrain himself no longer: "Stop! The cup is over full, no more will go in." Nan-in said: "Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup."

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dotting the “I’s” and Crossing the “T’s”

I love that the sport of triathlon holds up a mirror to who I am and have become as a human.  I remember being in college (not that long ago) and as an English major with a minor in “having a good time”, I got pretty good at finding some short cuts.  I am not proud to report that a friend once commented that I actually got my degree in Cliff Notes. At the time “good enough” was just that – good enough.  In fact, I got really good at “good enough” in most areas of my life.  The problem with that is “good enough” was all I got.  Deep down inside of me, I knew that there was much more to me and to life than “good enough”. I have to give credit to running to making me realize that there is a vast difference between “good enough” and acceptable.  That place in me that would not accept minimal standards and would not be satisfied with just finishing. It cried out that there are bigger standards to set my sights on.  The journey to crossing my “I’s” and dotting my “T’s” started then. As I got into the sport of triathlon and more specifically Ironman the desire to be more than “good enough” came through in my training.  See somewhere I realized that a marathon isn’t 26 miles but it is 26.2. Now 26 might be “good enough” but it is often in that .2 that the game can change and that is where the fun is.  Ironman is 112 miles on the bike. 100 might be significant but I won’t be an Ironman at 100 miles. Those last 2 miles are very important.  When I decided to invest in a coach, I realized that my coach was investing in me and my dreams or goals.  When the plan called for a 4 hour ride or an extra set after Masters, it wasn’t a Suggestion but a requirement.  Of course, if I still subscribed to the “good enough” plan, then maybe I would skip that last 30 minutes of the ride or that last set.  “Good Enough” doesn’t get to Boston or Kona.  Funny thing is that I am certain that most successful people don’t subscribe to “good enough”. Can you imagine Donald Trump or Oprah saying “that’s good enough” to anything?  I am pretty sure that the movers and shakers in the world are certain that all the “I’s” are dotted and “t’s” are crossed for what ever the plan is for that day.  Today I have decided that I am worth more than “good enough” and I am better than that.  My coaches deserve more than that. So sometimes that means passing the house at the end of a run when I want to stop but still have 5 minutes left or doing another loop on the bike.  I have learned that sometimes that is where the miracle might happen.  That is where my brain learns to pass the finish line to go out for that extra loop so that Mike Reilly can declare me an Ironman.  I am thankful that I have that benchmark in my life to know that I have moved on from the old belief system of my youth.  That is where I can pat myself on the back for not giving up on Me.  I have decided that I am worth much more than “good enough”, my coaches deserve more than “good enough” from me and hopefully my kids learn that they too are worth more than "good enough" after all I have an example to set.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

First day of Last year in the W40-44 age group!

Birthday Report!!
12 years ago when Jesse and I were just dating, he asked me what I wanted for my birthday.  I was training for my 2nd degree black belt at the time and I told him I wanted to do a workout until I could go any more (mind you he was my instructor :) ).  After 2 hours he gave me the medicine ball and told me to run around the building 10 times.  That is how I roll.

Morning run 1:30 descend effort by 30 min intervals

Well three friends showed up to run with me.  It is already 83 degrees and very humid but we are going to Kona so this is good.  As we head out with these kids I realize we are not going easy in fact going at the pace I was thinking I would finish at.  I kept trying to slow down, but I realized I just wasn't very much. (need to work on that) Hit the 45 min mark and time to turn around. I know I am pretty maxed out already as I was getting the "wiggly" feeling in the legs.  Took 2 breaks to get breathing under control.  On the last 30 min, friend Chris said stop looking at your Garmin every 30 sec. I took it off and gave it to him.  Had to concentrate on moving feet faster. Legs really started to rebel.  When I down loaded the elevation it is a steady climb ALL the way back. Not much, only about 200 feet, but it is all the way back. For the first time ever I could wring out a lot of sweat out of my cute lulu skirt. I mean like I had wet myself or ran through a sprinkler. I have never done that before!! Kinda cool.  
Total Smashfest and loved it!!

Nutrition: entire camelback and 2 gu's

Came home, ate and crawled in bed to try to go back to sleep. I was just too excited about the swim so never really dozed off.  Before I knew it , 11:30 was here and time to go.  I had sent out an email to see if anyone cared to join me.  Sent it to 10 people thinking I'd get 2 - I got 8!  Begged the Jewish community center to let all the non members in for my birthday party and made lots of bands for everyone.  Recruited the best hubster ever to come out and count laps. Problem is he isn't a swimmer so took a bit to explain that 2 laps equals a 100 and we would be doing lots of them.  
Time to do 100x100!!

Got everyone in the water with some doing 75's and most of us doing 100's.  

Before the Chaos - It looks so calm

I have amazing training friends.

The warm up of 15x100 is over.. Next it was 15x100 band only! Yes no legs allowed for this one.  I have been swimming with band only for awhile but this was new for some J.  Felt strong.  5x10 choice was to follow. For the "choice" , I chose to do Fly/Free. Jess took a video - I need to use the band when doing fly!

Then came the 30x100 on 1:40! I was a bit freaked out about this but this is what I showed up for right?!.  Well by the 20th one I hit that place where the space between the mind and the body gets very narrow. I was willing the turnover of the arms.  By 20 we/I were hitting 1:45's. Pleased to report that that is the extent of the damage.  I did realize that we started off with 5 in our lane and ended with 3 Just me an Apryl and Alyssa.   Thanks to Apryl for leading the lane and being my rabbit. 

I was very happy to get to the pbb's!  (that is buoy, paddles and band) Also realized that our big group taking 3 lanes was now down to 3 swimmers total and in 2 lanes. 2 were doing the kick set and 3 of us were doing the pulls. By the end of the pull set we were down to 2 still in the pool.  Time for the 6x100 of sprint/easy.  Jeff hung in there for most of this with me. Everyone else was done but a few were there to cheer. I felt bad because it must have been like watching golf because the easy were really easy! At some point Jeff was done as this was the longest he’d ever gone (as was for most there)
Kudos for Jeff for getting back in to do the final kick set. Yes to my Masters buddies I actually did a kick set with the kick board. Coach is in brazil to avoid my whinning JI

These were my cheerleaders for the end.  

So All in all I think it was good.  Loved it actually.  Tonight we are going to the Brazillian Steakhouse for dinner in honor of my birthday and Coach’s race!  Where else can I eat a $30.00 salad? It is actually the best with asparagus the size of my forearms!  The teenagers love the meat and we get plantains for dessert!

A very special thank you to my Coach - Hillary Biscay! I remember reading about her birthday swims before she was my coach and wondering if I would ever get to do one and now I have!! Thanks for everything my amazing friends Chris, Apryl, Orlando, Carlos, Herb, Alyssa, Jeff, Kris, Lorena, Alan and my wonderful husband Jesse. Thanks to GU Energy for providing lots of nutrition for this. First Birthday swim in the books and cant wait to see how well I do in my 10k postal swim next Sunday! 

Monday, April 23, 2012

I’m All In -
 A little over a year ago, I made the decision to revisit an old relationship. At the time I thought I had gone as far as I could in my current relationship and the staleness was creeping in. Like most failed love affairs, there was the question of “did we do everything” so I accepted a date. In the mean time, the spark was reignited in the love affair that I was already in but the date had already been set so I went through with it. Admittedly, I was torn and didn’t really put all my heart in it at first. As the date got closer I started to fantasize about the possibilities. I was cheating a bit but was justifying that I would at least know where I stood. My old love had grown so much maybe we could give it a go but every great relationship can’t be done half way and this one deserves total commitment. I knew better.

I thought there might be the slightest chance that the old spark would turn into a flame once again. I have always believed that you have to dance with the flame to feel the energy of life. I also knew that I was really enamored with the possibilities of the real spark of the lava of my relationship. I had spent so much time praying for us to take it to the ultimate level. This wasn’t unlike the prayers I’d had in the old flame but we just never got there all the way, yet this current love had made the shift and that was where my heart really was. Sometimes unanswered prayers are a good thing.

 So the time came for our dance, the old flame and me. Oh it was hot and it hurt. I was amazed at how bad it hurt. It was familiar. It is so easy to forget the bitter pain and the promise to myself of moving on. It was fast and furious at first and then got muddled pretty quick. How is this happening? There was so much excitement. So many were watching this dance and yet soon we were out of step. Now looking back, I am glad I didn’t know how bad this would hurt. I might not have had the chance to really be certain of where my heart lies. We gave it a go. There will be others happy here, but my heart has moved on to a different sunset.

 We have both grown and moved on with our paths. My path now is much longer with the passion of volcanoes and heat of lava. The excitement is there as is the unknown. I kiss Boston goodbye. We danced a few times and I will always be grateful that I learned so much about myself during our time together and that prepared me for so much more. I will always hold a special place in my heart for that affair as it really set me on the path for the passion I now experience. Like it’s been said, “ Life is like a windshield, not a review mirror. The only way to get where you are going is to find that next gear”. So I am all in and lets see where this love takes me.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I didn't go to summer camp very much growing up. My kids go every summer and I have seen all kinds of movies and t.v. shows about summer camp. Short of the ones about the crazed killer, it always looks or sounds like so much fun. When I grew up and became a triathlete I discovered training camps. I just finished another amazing training camp in Tucson with my coach Hillary Biscay. While there is a great training advantage to doing a sport specific camp, I have found that there isn't much difference from summer camp.

Summer camp offers the chance to make new friends from all over. It isn't unusual for those relationships to grow into life long friendships. At this years training camp, I was blessed with having athletes of all levels there to really push me. In our own little circles, it is easy to find those that we are comfortable training with and stay in that group. In training camp, everyone brings their own experiences and talents to the workouts. Perhaps it is ego or perhaps it is the need to fit in, but very quickly there was a "no man left behind" mentality with a "suck it up buttercup"expectation that makes everyone rise to the occasion. In that environment, strong bonds were formed and new friendships very soon became to feel like long lost buds. Something about smashfests shared that makes the heart grow stronger.

Me and Super speedy Damie Roberts

At summer camp, the food is always fun. So when we spend an entire week training and having all of life's distractions somewhat removed makes food the next priority. I have never trained this much at a training camp and the "smashfests" were enough for me to experience food in an all new way. I am glad that my fellow campers shared that sentiment as we all had stories of midnight snacks. Of course, coach did not let us down with the promise of an extra special goodie at the top of our Mt. Lemmon expedition. She assured us that the mountain would ask a lot out of us and that we would be rewarded at the top.

Maik Twelsiek tempting me.

The best part of camp is all the fun and games and special activities. Well camp did not let me down. Coach had such a special activity for us without even batting an eye. Her reputation for getting amazing swims out of athletes is true. We all got to experience the very famous 100-100's. Even more special for me was that I got to be in the same lane as Hillary and Maik and Michelle (super athlete straight in from Hawaii!) for the warm up of 30 100's as I was instructed to just make the interval. Just like the best camp, my leader saw more of me than I did.

No camp would be complete without care packages and smores at the camp fire.

When all is done at camp, the camper has played hard and made formed strong bonds through being challenged together. As usual, coach had a final challenge left for us as way to really cut our knees and elbows on. The best part was that giggles and tears were shared and we all succeeded in a spectacular bonding smashfest that gave each of us the ammunition to hold each other to a new standard of excellent play!

Super Ironman Michelle and I smashed after playtime on the trails

Most of all I was reminded that playing really really hard is fun. When I see kids play full out they don't "wonder if they can do it", they just go for it. They don't let fear stop them from jumping in the deep end or swinging as high as they can or riding their bikes as fast as they can - they just do it. Camp gives me an opportunity to remember that it is fun to not grow up and play full out. So the next weekend I didn't wear the heart monitor and worry about zones for my half marathon. I trusted the "play time" that I had done and decided to play "chase". I figured that if I caught each person in front of me I would "capture the flag"! I did and it had a giant PR on it. All that fitness settled in and I play all "not grown up". So love the fact that I still get to run fast, ride my bike and splash around in to pool.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Kick The Bucket
I hear it all the time – “ I just want to finish”. Some say it when contemplating their first Ironman, marathon or even 5k or sprint triathlon. These courageous souls decided at some point the take on a challenge that was out of their box of comfort and yet stipulations are put on this adventure. Funny thing about Bucket Lists, they are born out of the idea that we have to get things done before we “kick the bucket”, however the next thought is “I don’t want to die doing this”. Wouldn’t that be the very idea of a “bucket list”? Why not explore the limits of what one can do.
When I was swimming this morning, I got to thinking about how far I have come since starting on this journey. I also remembered the times in the beginning when I would get a workout that was out of my comfort zone and I would sometimes have the defeating idea that it wasn’t like I was going to be the next Dara Torres so I would hold back out of fear of how bad it might hurt. Maybe I won’t be racing Dara anytime soon, but I will never know what it feels like if I don’t plan to be at the top of my game. Success does not discriminate. We all start where we are and chose where we are going from there. I may not be the next Chrissie Wellington, but I won’t ever discover what I can do if I don’t play like it.
Who decides what is “good enough”? If I just train to be good enough, I will miss what all I can experience in striving to be great. Often times we can think that we aren’t good enough to play on that field or with those athletes. I have thought it - “I am not good enough to swim with Masters” or to ride with that group or to do that workout. Funny thing is that as long as I entertained that thought, I wouldn’t be “good enough”. It is only when I decided to get outside my thoughts of what I “was”, would I get out of my own way to see who I would become. I am much more interested in who I will be and what is in store for that individual than who I was or even who I am right now. For me, every length, hill or lap is an opportunity to experience and challenge limiting thoughts and ideas of what is really “good enough”. In the sport of endurance we use the word of “limiter” in terms of skill. What is my biggest “limiter”? The idea that “good enough” is just that. I prefer to know what great feels like until it becomes good enough and then great moves up the road just enough to keep things interesting. So I will stay on the road of Great until I kick the bucket!

“There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over.” Dr. Martin Luther King

Monday, January 30, 2012

Time to Re-Think the Whole Athlete Thing

I have read that people who lose mass amounts of weight often have a hard time thinking of themselves as thin. I always wondered why. When the pants fall off and a new size is on the label doesn’t that say something? Well now I find myself in that predicament.
No I haven’t lost a massive amount of weight and yes the label on my pants still says the same number. I am talking about seeing myself as a new kind of athlete, more specifically as a swimmer. I didn’t start swimming until I decided to follow a very old dream of becoming an Ironman at the age of 35. I knew how to swim albeit not very well. First dip in the pool consisted of some sidestroke, some long waits on the wall and some backstroke (if it could be called that). I spent copious amounts of time trying to decipher the best way to count a 400 swim. Does one count lengths or laps and how does one keep track? I read everything I could on getting comfortable in the swim. I hired a few different swim coaches and improved. I “got through” a few swims in some triathlons and signed up for Ironman. I continued to “get through” the swim workouts and learned how to time my sets. I even, with enormous amounts of patience from lane mates and coach, learned how to do the math on the clock for timed intervals. It wasn’t that hard on a 2:00 min. interval – just go at the top every time.
Somewhere along the way I started to love swimming. I think it was between swimming being the only workout I could do post spinal surgery and having some success in the pool. I still would only swim three days a week and only with my masters group. Just joining Masters took a great deal of courage as I thought only former collegiate swimmers were Masters swimmers. All credit goes to having the best Masters Coach in the country – Susan Ingram for that one. I started to entertain the idea of being good enough to swim in the “fast lane”. Being goal oriented, entertaining “impossible” ideas like that keeps me motivated, as I am very hard headed. Five years later, I decide to hire a Professional triathlete, Hillary Biscay to help me accomplish one of those other goals – qualifying for World Championship Ironman in Kona. At the time, I just knew I identified with her on training philosophy. I really didn’t take into account that she is one of the fastest female swimmers on the Ironman circuit or that she swam in the Olympic trials. Maybe I should have?
Our workouts began with a bang. Before I knew it, I was swimming 6 days a week (much to the dismay of my hairdresser). I was introduced to the “Band”. I was still swimming with my masters group only now I had an “extra” workout tagged on to the beginning or the end of it. I was also seeing new personal records in all my swimming endeavors including the infamous 10k postal swim and my Ironman swims. Still, I had a hard time accepting that my swims were actually better and faster. I still put myself in the same lane. I still wanted to go off the old interval (although a bit faster than that original 2:00). Finally, I was nowhere near ready to even entertain the thought of getting in the “fast” lane. I was pretty sure those faster times were a fluke. Really? Everyday there was a “fluke”? Maybe it is time to shift my awareness of myself.

How is it that we can recognize greatness in others, but it is so hard to accept within ourselves. I am quick to see the progress that others make yet struggle with the recognition of mine. Now the clock doesn’t lie and the pool didn’t get shorter. No, this isn’t a fluke. This is the result on consistent relentless determination in pursuit of personal improvement. So move over lane 4 people, I just might be ready to try on a new lane. I am ready to rethink the kind of athlete I have become.