Gratitude

Gratitude_Symbol_In_ChineseOn this day before Thanksgiving, I find myself pondering all the incredible things in my life that I have to be profoundly grateful for this year.  There are so many things!!!

I try very hard to remember to thank God or the universe or whatever power makes things happen in life each and every day, but there is something about this time of year that makes me really focus on my life and just how wonderful it is!

At the top of the list, of course, is my family.  I have the most incredible partner in life that I could ever have dared dream.  She supports me in all my crazy, hair-brained schemes and cheers me on every step of the way.  There is no way I could do the things I do without her.

I have the 3 coolest kids in the world.  Our 2 oldest are not mine by biology, but they are mine by heart and soul, and I am so proud of the strong, independent, young women they are proving to be.  My son is just amazing!  He proves to me every day that life is to be enjoyed and that nothing is worth staying upset about.

I am grateful for my health.  I really do believe that health is wealth.  I am blessed to have found a lifestyle that allows me to just get better and better each and every day.

I am so grateful for my profession.  I LOVE what I get to do for a living.  There is no higher purpose than helping other people live happier, healthier, more fulfilled lives!

gratitudeI am grateful that I had the courage to register for my first triathlon this past spring.  I never dreamed where that simple act of faith would take me in such a short time.  I am proud that I can do things that most people think impossible – things that most people half my age wouldn’t even attempt.

I am so grateful for my coach, who pushes me out of my comfort zone in an effort to make me a better athlete and a better version of myself.  Thank you, Pam!!

I am grateful to still have my parents with me.  Many of my friends are beginning to lose one or both of their parents.  I may not see them as often as I would like to, but I love my Mom and Dad so much and I don’t know what I’d do if suddenly they weren’t there.

There are so many other things I could list – my sisters, my nieces and nephew, my friends – so, so many things to be down on my knees grateful for – I could write all day long and then some.

For now though I will just wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving and hope that you will take a moment to remember all the wonderful things in your own life for which you are grateful.

Race Recap: Ponce Inlet Operation Changing Lives 5K

PI5KNothing like a fun 5K morning race that starts not 2 full miles from your house!

The Ponce Inlet 5K to benefit Operation Changing Lives (a nonprofit organization that funds reconstructive surgery for kids with cleft lip/palate) started and ended at the historic Ponce Inlet Lighthouse.Operation Change

There were at least 3 other races in the immediate vicinity on Saturday morning, so it was cool that this event drew 285 runners in only its 4th year!

We all gathered at Lighthouse Park and picked up our race packets and got ready to go.  This race was in lieu of my scheduled bike/run brick, but Pam said that she was cool with me subbing in a 5K or a 10K for my “optional” (for her, not me) Saturday workout.  She suggested that it would be “okay with her” if I wanted to ride my bike to the race and back.  Since it was only a 4 mile round trip, that seemed like a fine idea to me.

I packed my sneakers and my toys for the toy drive in a back pack and off I went.  I discovered right away that I DO NOT like biking with a backpack.  I like to stay aero (it’s more comfortable for my back) and getting down on the aerobars while wearing a hoodie and a backpack is just – well, STUPID!!

The race itself was a straight shot up Peninsula Drive with a turn around at about the 1.5 mile mark, then a detour onto a gravel road to add a little distance and then back to the finish line.

PI-5K1The start horn sounded and was able to start running within about 10 seconds.  I felt really good – no pain in my ankles, shins, or knees.  I had my favorite spin playlist on and I just ran.  I would tuck behind someone who I thought was going about the right pace, but soon got impatient and passed – I did that over and over again.

At the turnaround, I settled into my intervals – 2 minutes of running/30 seconds of brisk walking.  It was great.  The 30 seconds gave me just enough time to breathe for a second and then I would run the 2 minutes hard.

PI-5K3Before I knew it, it was over.  My goal was to run it in under 26 minutes.  I crossed under the finish line at 26:00, so I was just a little bit bummed for a moment.  However, when they posted the results, my GUN time was 26:00, but my chip time was 25:46!!! I met my goal by 14 seconds!! 8:19 average per mile! YAY ME!!PI-5K4

When all was said and done, I placed 4th out of 26 women in my 45-49 year age group, #12 out of 191 women total, and #39 out of 285 total participants, male and female.  Not so shabby for a first non-triathlon 5K.

I even got an award!

I biked home feeling very satisfied with my morning and excited to run that race again next year – with my son!

Me? An Ironman?

imIt all started so innocently!!

You know, one of those silly Facebook things where you like a post and someone gives you a number and you have to list that many things that most people don’t know about you.

Okay, fine – My number was 10…

#8 was “I secretly want to race an ironman triathlon (such a scary goal).”

I really didn’t think anything more about it – it’s true, finishing an Ironman Triathlon would be my holy grail of endurance athletics, and it’s totally on my bucket list.

And then, my coach sees my post…

And I get THIS reply…

Since your triathlon and running coach now is aware, not only is #8 no longer a secret, we will be signing up and hitting SEND together way sooner than you might think… IM FL here you come 2015 is the magic year!!

IMFLHeaderHOLY CRAP!!!  IM FL is the first weekend of November.  I have committed to a half marathon in February and then to all karate all the time until black belt testing in July.  Then I really want to do a solo olympic tri in the Fall.

And then…GULP… Ironman training?

REALLY??

Am I really up for that?

ironman2.4 mile swim + a 112 mi bike + a 26.2 mi run???

ME???

I suppose it’s a worthy goal, because I honestly do NOT see the path.

But then, why not me?  And why not 2015?  What better way to celebrate my 50th birthday?

Do I dare put up the countdown widget?

LOL… Why the heck not!!!

IM-FL-goal

I made a page for my goal book so it must be real…

My Homage To Oatmeal

oatmeal-2I devote this post as a homage to oatmeal.

I LOVE oatmeal!  I love oatmeal A LOT!  It is versatile and healthy and clean (old-fashioned or steel cut – not a fan of instant oatmeal) and paired with a couple of scrambled eggs makes for just about the most perfect breakfast ever.

We eat eggs and oatmeal, on average, 3 times per week – especially during the cooler months – and it just never gets old.

Here are 10 great reasons to eat oatmeal (compliments of Mr. Breakfast Blog)

  1. Over 40 studies show that eating oatmeal may help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. According to Quaker, all it takes is 3/4 cup of oatmeal each day to help lower cholesterol. The soluble fiber in oats helps remove LDL or “bad” cholesterol, while maintaining the good cholesterol that your body needs. In January 1997, the Food and Drug Administration announced that oatmeal could carry a label claiming it may reduce the risk of heart disease when combined with a low-fat diet.
  2. The soluble fiber in oatmeal absorbs a considerable amount of water which significantly slows down your digestive process. This result is that you’ll feel full longer, i.e. oatmeal can help you control your weight.
  3. quaker oatsYou probably already have oats in your kitchen. It’s estimated that eighty percent of U.S. households currently have oats in their cupboards.
  4. New research suggests that eating oatmeal may reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes. In fact, the American Diabetes Association already recommends that people with diabetes eat grains like oats. The soluble fiber in these foods help to control blood glucose levels.
  5. With the exception of certain flavored varieties, the oats found in your grocery store are 100% natural. If you look at the ingredients on a canister of rolled oats, you will usually see only one ingredient… rolled oats.
  6. According to recent studies, a diet that includes oatmeal may help reduce high blood pressure. The reduction is linked to the increase in soluble fiber provided by oatmeal. Oats contain more soluble fiber than whole wheat, rice or corn.
  7. Oatmeal contains a wide array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and is a good source of protein, complex carbohydrates and iron.
  8. The fiber and other nutrients found in oatmeal may actually reduce the risk for certain cancers.
  9. Oatmeal is quick and convenient. Every type of oatmeal can be prepared in a microwave oven. Even when cooked on the stovetop, both old-fashioned and quick oats can usually be made in less than 10 minutes. And what about instant oatmeal… a hot breakfast in under a minute… incredible!
  10. Oatmeal can be absolutely delicious! Whether instant, cooked on the stove or baked in the oven, the combination of flavors you can fit into a serving of oatmeal is limited only by the imagination. Visit Mr Breakfast’s Oatmeal Collection to see just 60 of the ways you can start to enjoy oatmeal today!
oatmeal
10 WAYS TO MAKE OATMEAL INSTANTLY MORE EXCITING
  1. Add fresh or frozen fruit. Sliced bananas are particularly good. A little fistful of frozen blueberries not only add flavor to oatmeal, but your mouth will marvel over the inviting temperature / texture differential when you bite into each little berry.
  2. Add dried fruit such as raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, dates or sweetened shredded coconut.
  3. Add chopped nuts like walnuts or almonds. Finely chopped nuts can create a tasty crumbled topping.
  4. Add a tablespoon or two of your favorite granola. Mushy boring oatmeal is yesterday’s business. Today you can easily add a delightful crunch to any bowl of oatmeal.
  5. Add a dribble of pure delicious maple syrup.
  6. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Never be afraid of more flavor.
  7. grain-free-cinnamon-raisin-oatmeal-final-2Add a little dollop of yogurt. Flavored yogurts add taste and all yogurts add a smooth creamy texture.
  8. Crush a little handful of your favorite dry breakfast cereal onto your oatmeal. Cap’n Crunch oatmeal anyone?
  9. Stir in a couple teaspoons of your jam or fruit preserves and turn your oatmeal into a fruity fiesta bowl.
  10. Add a single tablespoon of ice cream to your oatmeal. Your mouth will go crazy with pleasure as the cool ice cream mingles with the warm oats.

My favorite way to eat oatmeal is  with about a tablespoon of brown sugar, a sprinkle of cinnamon, a few raisins and just a splash of skim milk.  Mmmmmm…

I think I’ll go make a bowl right now!!

slow cooker oatmeal

Race Recap: Beat the Heat Triathlon

2013-11-10 001 2013-11-10 001I wanted to post a race recap of the 2013 Beat the Heat Triathlon for those who have an interest in such things.  The event itself was really amazing – especially for a 1st annual event!  The race organizers and volunteers really made sure it was a first-class event from start to finish.  There were some curveballs thrown by Mother Nature for sure, but the human element was top notch!!

Let me backtrack for a moment because we did have some interesting stuff in the last couple of weeks of training.  We found out the race would be wetsuit legal – and in November, the ocean is starting to get a bit chilly, so we were fortunate to be able to borrow a couple of wetsuits from a triathlete friend for Deb to wear.  She went out with a training group the week before the race for an ocean swim and LOVED the wetsuit.  It also helped protect her from the swarms of jellyfish that were in the water with her.  She said she palmed a jellyfish with each stroke and that her training buddies were kicking them up in their wake ahead of her!  CRAZY!!

Cathy crashed her bike the week before the race.  Someone turned a corner right in front of her and she went down hard.  But man, what a trooper – nothing was going to keep her from this race!

BTH2013 2013-11-09 001My ankle is finally better it seems!  I was able to resume cautious training runs 2 weeks ago and it felt good with each run.  My pace is solidly around 9:00-9:30/mile.  My goal for the half marathon in February is to finish in under 2 hours, which is an average 9:06 min/mile, so I  have some work to do.

Okay, RACE RECAP… Race morning was gorgeous – around 65 degrees with a north to south wind of about 12 mph.  We arrived at the Daytona Beach Bandshell at 5:30am – it was nice being just the swimmer and the runner – so much less gear to lug around!  Cathy met up with us at 5:45 and we got our body markings and our timing chip and figured out the transition area and where we were supposed to pass the chip and such.

BTH2013 2013-11-09 008The sunrise was glorious – you just know it’s going to be a good day with a sunrise like this!  Deb ate her breakfast of peanut butter and banana on homemade whole wheat bread and a bottle of Performance and we met up with my coach who was all smiles and excitement at such an early hour – love her!  Deb tugged on her wetsuit and we took everything down to the corral for safe keeping.  After a beautiful rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” and a fourship flyover (so cool), it was onto the beach for the swim.BTH2013 2013-11-09 016

The ocean didn’t look too crazy from the boardwalk, but from the beach it was a different story – it was really rough!  The sprint wave men lined up and the horn blew and into the water they went.  I didn’t take any time to see this was going to be a TOUGH swim.  The guys were getting nowhere fast.  Many of them gave it a good effort and then gave up.  The rescue jetski was pulling people out of the pounding surf.  The horn blew and in went the ladies.  Same scenario only it happened quicker.  After maybe 5 minutes, the race director and rescue officials called the swim.  Anyone who had made it to the first buoy could continue, but everyone else (most people) were brought back to the beach.  One of our friends – a strong swimmer – was 30 feet from the buoy and was ordered to grab the sled on the jetski, rather than continue.  Sadly, the folks who did not make the turn DNF’d.  But the awesome thing about triathletes is that even though you get a DNF, you keep going – I think everyone got on their bikes and pressed on.BTH2013 2013-11-09 021

For the Olympic Distance racers, the swim was replaced with a run.  The race director said it was a 2 mile run, but there’s no way – maybe 1 mile.  Since Deb doesn’t run due to a medical condition, I was up.  Unprepared, unfueled – I thought I had another 2 hours to eat – I put on my race belt and lined up at the start.  There weren’t that many female racers and most were half my age.  But that’s one of the things I love – doing things most people my age would consider insane or unthinkable.

I ran the mile and crossed the pad, entered transition and Deb ripped off the timing chip, put it on Cathy and away she went for the 25 mile bike.  While she was gone we hung out and talked and listened to people in the corral talking about the swim.  The sprint wave came in and headed off on the run.  Then the olympic men started coming back.  Then some of the collegiate women,  We figure 90 minutes for Cathy on the bike, but she finished quicker than that I think. All of a sudden there she was.  I ran through the corral and met her, got the timing chip and headed out.  WOW!  What a difference in just running versus swimming and biking first.

It was hot!  I ran down the boardwalk, and hit the sand, under the pier and then south.  I just ran the first 11-ish minutes, but I could hear Pam’s voice in my head – run your race, stick to your intervals, there’s a lot of work to do, mind your ankle…. So, I calmed down and started running my intervals and it felt much better,  2 minutes running, 30 seconds walking, over and over again.

BTH2013 2013-11-09 026-2As I type, the official results are not posted, so I don’t know exactly what the times were.  The unofficial time for our team was 2:39:43, which sounds not so bad for a 1st time olympic distance triathlon until you account for the fact that the 1 mile swim (which likely would have taken Deb 35-50 minutes to complete) was replaced with a 1 mile run, which took me 9 minutes.  But it matters not, it was FUN!!

Our team placed 1st in the Female Relay Division (for all I know we were the ONLY female relay team), so that was a cool bonus.

I will definitely race this triathlon again next year – solo next time!

I Am A Runner

becauseWOW!  Something amazing occurred to me this morning!  Somewhere along the way, during the past 6 months, I became a runner.  I know this, not just because I run 3-4 times per week, but because I really, really love it!

I find myself a bit sad as I turn onto our street as I am finishing a run.

I find myself feeling a bit envious when I pass someone on the road who is out for a run when I am on my way to a meeting.

I miss running when I can’t.

I want to run even when I shouldn’t.

Some days I feel like running even when I’ve already had my run that day.i-am-a-runner

I am a runner.

That is not something I ever thought I would hear myself say – EVER!!

I am so grateful that I decided to give triathlon a go back in April.

I am so grateful that I sucked up my conditioning that running was bad for me and did it anyhow.

I really enjoy the bike and I tolerate the swim, but I love the run – there is so much room for improvement.

I am excited to see what I can do!!

A New Chapter

got-coachI am so excited to announce that I am entering a new chapter in my health and fitness journey – I hired a coach!!

Now, Deb and I talk about needing a coach to get you past all your own mental junk all the time – you need a coach in lots of different areas of your life – a business coach, a personal coach, a financial coach, a fitness coach, and on and on.

Up to now, Deb has been my coach in all of those areas.  She has gotten me past so many blocks that I never thought I would be able to move beyond.

Physically, she has coached me to the absolute best physical condition of my life and when it comes to mindset, martial arts, strength training and weightlifting, there is no one I trust more to help me progress in a safe manner, so she will always be my coach in those areas.

And then I found triathlon…

It’s an entirely different animal – 3 different sports, thrown together back to back.  The training is hard and constant, but I love it!

I followed online training programs to get me ready for my first sprint distance triathlon and then to start training for my first olympic distance tri…

…And then I got hurt.

Deb and I had a long talk about my goals.  I told her that I wanted to pursue triathlon.  I told her why.  She told ME that I needed to find a coach – someone who knew what they were doing and could assess ME and MY needs and customize a program to help me achieve my goals.

Deb has never competed in triathlon.  It’s not her goal.

And so, I ventured into an unknown and scary place for the first time since I began this journey 4 years ago – trust someone with my goals and my physical health who was not Deb.

The serendipity of the universe never ceases to amaze me.

Ironman Triathlete Pam Giese

Ironman Triathlete Pam Giese

The morning after Deb and I had this conversation, I was invited to a nutrition seminar.  The person leading the seminar is an accomplished triathlete and just happens to live here in Port Orange.  I looked at her website.  I read the testimonials from the people she has trained.  I understand her approach to fitness and nutrition – it makes sense to me.

I contacted her, we met and talked and I hired her.

You gotta have a coach!!  Someone who sees past all your own mental bullcrap and pushes you beyond what you could ever do on your own.  I am so fortunate to have TWO awesome coaches in my life now!