A Funny Thing Happened During My Run…

A Funny Thing Happened During My Run…

How I spent most of the holiday

As some of you may know, my Mom has been battling a severe respiratory disorder since last summer. In October I made plans for my son and me to travel to Virginia during the holidays to spend some time with her. On the day were flying up to Virginia, I received a call from my sister, Anna, that Mom had taken a turn for the worse and she was going to drive her up to the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville to be checked out.

No worries, I quickly did some mental gymnastics, rented a car, contacted my ex-husband to see if I could bring Josh to him from the airport, and planned to then make the 2-ish hour drive from the NRV to Charlottesville. Our sister, Jennifer, lives in C’ville and had offered up her home as basecamp for us for as long as we needed to stay. The flight from Orlando to Roanoke was on time, I dropped Josh off in Christiansburg, grabbed a venti Starbucks, and headed for Hoo-ville.

I stopped at the hospital and saw Mom first thing. She was better than I expected her to be, which put my mind at ease to some degree, although I knew things were not good. I left the hospital and made my way to Jen’s. It was great to get there and see that not only were Jen, Sabrina, and Anna there, but also my Dad and Step-Mom had stuck around as well! It had been a long day and the next few promised to be stressful while Mom underwent a lung biopsy and we waited for some definitive diagnosis of her condition, so we all called it a night shortly after I arrived.

You can see how thrilled I was about this run…

The next morning I woke up early and felt stressed out. I looked at my phone and saw that it was 30 degrees outside. I debated going outside for a run, but I didn’t have any running tights with me – only shorts. I had promised myself I would run at least 6 miles while I was there. I don’t like the cold… I didn’t want to go… But I got dressed anyhow. I put on my Cannondale thermal shirt, my long-sleeved Space Coast Marathon race shirt, and my prized Ironman Florida Name hoodie (this will be important later), my compression shorts, running shorts, and sneakers, hat, and gloves and headed downstairs.

My sisters were on the sofa talking and enjoying coffee. I wanted so badly just to grab a cup and sit, but no, I had WORK to do! Races don’t train for themselves and all that stuff. Jen told me about a great running path and out the door I went. I have played what happened next over and over in my mind, trying to make sense of it… Trying to figure out what exactly happened, and the truth is that I have no freaking clue, but I’ll relay as best as I can remember.

I turned on my running playlist, hit GO on my Garmin and started a slow jog down Jen’s street. I turned right, making my way to a traffic circle, feeling great even in the cold, and thought I should probably make my way to the sidewalk instead of running in the middle of the street. At that moment, my right ankle rolled outward and I was unable to recover my balance. What happened next probably only took 0.5 seconds, but it seemed to take 5 minutes. It was one of those moments like when Neo dodges the bullets in The Matrix. I felt myself falling, I knew I was going down and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

Years of martial arts training kicked in and I evaluated the possibility of doing a front fall, but I was falling sideways and couldn’t figure out how to straighten myself out. My next thought was literally “PROTECT THE GARMIN!!!” so I pulled my arms into my core and tried to throw myself into a forward roll. I landed in a tuck on my left shoulder and thought all was well until I heard a sickening “SNAP” inside my earbuds. I knew I had just broken my collarbone. I finished my fabulous forward roll and stood up (I should have gotten style points if nothing else). I surveyed my situation… I could walk… no blood… nothing hurt THAT bad… OH GOD, THE GARMIN… Whew, it wasn’t even scratched… Maybe I could just go 3 miles instead of 6… No, that’s stupid, clearly I had a broken bone. So, I turned around and walked back to my sister’s house. She was walking her dog and came up to me on the street. I told her I thought I had broken my collarbone. I went into the living room to sit down while Jen went to fetch Anna and they figured out what to do with me. I sat there with my eyes closed, going inside my mind, evaluating… analyzing… trying to figure out a way to make this not so… Then, I heard Anna say she would pull the car around and we would go to the ER. I stood up to walk to the front door, took one step and then everything went black.

When I opened my eyes, Jen was standing over me asking if I was okay. “Of course I’m okay, I’m just going to the front door.” Then I realized I was crumpled in a heap on the living room floor. I had passed out cold. I tried to get up again, but my legs just wouldn’t hold me and down I went again. I remember thinking that this must be what it feels like when people collapse during a race and just can’t get up and get moving again.

At that point, the idea of taking me to the ER was ditched and an ambulance was called. I was told that it looked like every ounce of blood in my body had vanished and that I was white and pasty and obviously in shock. While we were waiting, Jen got Deb on my phone and I just started bawling! I told her how badly I had effed up and that I had come to Virginia to help and all I was doing was making things more stressful for everyone, and how was I ever going to be able to start my Ironman 70.3 training program on time now… She assured me everything would be fine in a way that only Deb can.

After we hung up, I noticed that my shoulder was really starting to ping and so I closed my eyes and again went inside my own head and dealt with the pain – which is just what I do when I hurt. It’s quite effective. I didn’t open my eyes again until the EMTs arrived, who were, BTW, FANTASTIC!  Well done Albemarle County, well done! They evaluated me right there on the living room floor, asked me what happened, what hurt, etc. That was the first time I mentioned rolling my ankle. They carefully took my shoe and sock off and I saw the huge lump on the side of my foot for the first time. SUPER!

They got me out of the house and onto a stretcher and into the back of the ambulance where they started getting all the vitals and stuff. They said my vitals were quite impressive as was my pain tolerance. Then the most horrible part of the whole entire episode happened. They had to CUT my clothes down my left arm to assess my injury. Bye bye, Ironman hoodie and marathon race shirt (from my ONLY standalone marathon). I nearly started crying again. Once I got to the ER, it was kind of a blur. More vitals, the right sleeves of my beloved hoodie and race shirt cut out so a proper blood pressure could be taken, more assessments, x-rays, drugs, but hey, ZERO WAIT TIME!! #bonus My dad and step-mom showed up… Jen and her daughter came back… Anna had come in the ambulance with me – it was a freaking family reunion, but it was AWESOME, I’m not gonna lie. I have really missed my family!

We passed the time joking around until a doctor came back and delivered the news I already knew. I had broken my left clavicle and had an avulsion fracture of my right 5th metatarsal. Basically, when I rolled my ankle, my peroneal tendon stretched so far that it snapped the end of my 5th metatarsal off. Happily, it was not floating so no surgery would be required – just lots of time in a boot.

Can we just talk about how HUGE this foot is for a moment? 😮

I left the ER a couple of hours later with my arm in a sling (clavicle fractures like mine rarely require surgery and are not casted), a crutch, a plaster splint, and a way too small walking shoe. Thankfully, my step-mom had a zip-up hoodie in her car because they finished cutting off all my layers and I was left with my sports bra and shorts – and it was 28 degrees outside!

I spent the next few days in a pseudo-haze of hydrocodone, but all-in-all everything went great. Mom had her biopsy. We got some answers – not enough of them, but some. My dad, step-mom, sisters, and sweet niece couldn’t have been more amazing caretakers. Anna and I had hours of much needed (and longed for) conversation. We all made the very best of a truly suck-ass situation.

I flew home on Saturday and got picked up in Orlando by a wheelchair at the plane door – Deb made me promise – which was weird and surreal. Deb and Erin took great care of me during the holidays. It was frustrating to not be able to do all the Christmas cooking and things I normally do, but I was so grateful to be surrounded by people I love. It’s easy to focus on the things that are going wrong while losing sight of everything there is to be so incredibly grateful for. I was determined to be present for the holidays and enjoy them, regardless of the “perfection” of the circumstances, and our Christmas was terrific.

Today I head back to the orthopedist to get another round of x-rays and see how I’m healing and develop a plan to get me back to a point where I can start training again. My training plan for IM Gulf Coast 70.3 is supposed to begin on 1/21… I don’t know how realistic an “on-time start” will be, but maybe I can get clearance to ease back into swimming… or aqua jog… or run on the elliptical in my boot. We’ll see.

At the end of the day, I DO believe that everything happens for a reason, and I believe the reason for my unfortunate injury was threefold:

  1. It broke a pattern and allowed Anna and me a much needed shared experience to open the door to healing some old wounds. It was totally worth it and I’d have it happen again tomorrow if that is the ultimate outcome.
  2. It taught me a valuable lesson about letting go of control and allowing other people to take care of me for a change.
  3. It gave me a pause in my “training” (if that’s what you would call what I’ve been doing for the last year) that I desperately needed. It gave me time to think about what is really important to me regarding triathlon in 2018. Is it REALLY so important to do another Ironman RIGHT NOW? And it has me HUNGRY to get back in the pool, on the road, and on my bike!

Let’s do this, 2018! I’m predisastered and ready to go! 🙂

 

 

 

What’s Next!

What’s Next!

“What’s Next?”  It’s a question I’ve been asking myself for a couple of months now.  Trying to figure out what my “A” Race for 2017 should be was not nearly as simple as it has been in year’s past.  At the end of 2014 I knew I wanted to step up to a half-iron distance race (or two), so I easily chose Gulf Coast Triathlon 70.3 and Beach 2 Battleship 70.3.  At the end of 2015, I knew I wanted to fulfill my Ironman dreams, so (albeit with some angst and stress) I registered for Ironman Florida for 2016.

But this year is different – and difficult!  Signing up for another Ironman feels like the most normal and natural thing to do, but as I teased apart in my post on the Post-Ironman Blues, that’s not a good enough reason to put my body, my business, and my family through another Iron-year!  So, I was looking for a race that would be a challenge, but not require the ridiculous time commitment of a full iron-distance race.  I thought about just making 2017 the year of the sprint triathlon, but even though they are fun, I prefer long-course and I have a hard time getting myself motivated to train properly for them.  I know that I could embrace it if I focused on the right things, but I’m just not feeling it.  I thought about registering for one or two 70.3 races, but the ones I really WANT to race are not a good match with my calendar (IM Gulf Coast 70.3 is on the same day as our daughter’s college graduation, and IM Eagleman 70.3 and IM Augusta 70.3 are both on days when our non-profit holds races).

gft-logoI hemmed and hawed… I thought about not racing at all and just plowing into our business this year – afterall, I took so much time away from it this year, it seems only fair.  Then, I positively GRIEVED over the thought of not having a nice, juicy race goal on my schedule, so Deb told me I HAD to race SOMETHING!  Then, one day about a month ago, I got an email marketing piece from Sommer Sports advertising the Great Floridian Triathlon on October 21, 2017.  This race is marketed as the 2nd oldest full iron distance triathlon in the continental US.  But it’s not just a full iron race!  There are also 1/3 and 2/3 distance races on the same day.

Essentially, the GFT course in Clermont, FL is broken down into a 0.8 mile triangular swim in Lake Minneola, a 37.3 mile bike loop (described as a “hilly beast” in one review I read – yes, there ARE hills in Florida and apparently, they are ALL in Clermont!), and a 8.73 mile run course.  The 1/3 distance racers make 1 loop of each… the 2/3 racers, make 2 loops, and the ultra (full-iron) racers make 3 loops.

swim       bike     run

My training buddy, Megan, had done the bike and run legs of the 1/3 distance in October on a relay team as a lead up to Ironman Florida and she said it was a tough course – a lot like this year’s modified IM Augusta 70.3.  My iron-friends, Beth and Malachi, said it was very similar to the IMLOU course.  The more I thought about it, the more it resonated with me.  I liked the thought of the 2/3 distance!  It was longer than a 70.3 ( it’s 92.6 miles) so it would still require a stout training effort.  It had a very hilly bike course and I’ve never raced in hills before.  And, as a bonus, Clermont is only 90 minutes from my house, so I can train on the actual course and we don’t have to travel far for the race.  And let’s discuss that the registration fee was only $250 (as opposed to $380 for IM Augusta 70.3)…

I messaged Megan, who has been going through her own “What’s Next” battle, and asked “How do we feel about GFT 2/3?”  We bantered a bit and she liked the idea too.  So, yet another year of training together is set to commence.  I am terrific-ly excited about this!  I went ahead and pushed the “Register” button yesterday morning.  Here we go again!  T-minus 305 days to go!!!gft

Post Ironman Blues

eeyore_cloudI KNEW they were coming… I did everything I could think of to ward them off including taking a 7-day cruise to the Virgin Islands and officially hiring my life/business partner and coach, Deb Cheslow, to help me figure out what’s next – and they still arrived on my doorstep like an unwelcome house-guest… the Post-Ironman Blues.

In my business I see it all the time.  People who Deb and I work with are working towards a HUGE, scary goal – they are passionate and driven to achieve it – bordering on obsessed.  They work hard in a place that is WAY outside their comfort zone and then, one day, BOOM – goal achieved.  It is a time of exhilaration, elation, and joy.  They ride the high for a while – sometimes days, sometimes weeks or even months, but then all of a sudden they look around and wonder, “now what”?

That is exactly where I find myself now that Ironman Florida is over.  I had the race of my life.  I don’t even know how it could have been more awesome – from the week before race to my execution of the race itself – it exceeded every one of my hopes and expectations.  And I rode that high for a while – in some respects, I’m STILL riding the wave.

im-memeEvery time I look at my wristband (yes, I STILL have it on, don’t judge me!), I feel such pride and such a sense of accomplishment.  I am an Ironman – ME!!  OMG!  Never in my wildest dreams as that poor, overweight, alcoholic woman back in Virginia in 2010 would I have EVER believed such a thing possible.  Heck, I wasn’t sure I believed it was possible 5 minutes before the start horn blasted!

So, I accomplished something that, for me, was “unrealogical” (our made up word describing something that is, at once, unrealistic and illogical), and unfolded in a way that I would never have predicted and was so much better than I ever believed possible.

How do you top that?

20161117_075406-1I was fine for the first couple of weeks.  The first week back home was very busy playing catch-up on all the things that had been set aside (or, more to the point, fallen through the cracks) until the race was over.  I knew I needed to take time off from working out to let my body recover, even though I felt pretty terrific.   And then, we went on an amazing cruise to the Eastern Caribbean and we walked an average of 7-8 miles per day (even on the sea days) and went snorkeling in St. Thomas and St. Maarten, and I enjoyed actually sleeping until I woke up each morning unassisted by a puppy or an alarm clock, so not officially working out was not bothering me.

But as soon as we got back from the cruise and I started swimming, biking, and running again I started feeling… well, kind of lost.  I don’t have any solid racing plans for 2017.  I don’t know how to BE this person who wakes up at 7am and works out for 30-60 minutes.  I almost MISS the 3am wake up calls and the 4500 yard swims and 100 mile rides and 15 mile runs of peak training – they felt BADASS.  And while I AM moving forward, I guess I just feel directionless in the absence of any real racing goals.

I started working with Deb the Tuesday after the race on a structured coaching program to help me determine what my next goal would be.  On the first day she asked me what I wanted… cue CRICKETS…

What do I WANT?  I WANT it to be November 5th again.  I WANT the magic of that day again.  I WANT the movie Groundhog Day only November 5th was what I got to relive over and over again.  I don’t want it to be OVER!

And the urge to pull the trigger on Ironman Florida 2017 or ANY other Ironman 140.6 race is almost irresistible!  It seems absolutely natural in this moment.

But here’s what I KNOW – as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow…

I could race an Ironman every year from now until the day I die and I will NEVER be able to capture the perfection of November 5, 2016.  I will never be able to gin up the enthusiasm and the strength of will to train like I did for that race, because I now know that I could go the distance with A LOT LESS training.  Like so many other “firsts” in our lives, you just can’t re-create the magic.

It can still be good…

It can still be worth doing…

But unless some freaking miracle occurs and I qualify for Kona, I just don’t see how to make it better.

That’s because there are 3 levels of goals.

Level 1 Goals are things we already know how to do.  It’s like saying, “My goal is to go to LA Fitness and swim 1500 yards in the pool.”  I KNOW how to do that.  I have done it hundreds of times before.  I dare say I could be half asleep and pump out 1500 yards in a respectable amount of time.  In fact, racing Ironman Florida again would be a Level 1 Goal – different day, different conditions, but I know exactly how to race that course.  There is absolutely no growth in a Level 1 Goal.

Level 2 Goals are things that we THINK we can do.  We’ve never done them before, but we can see a way to plan our way to achieving them.  At this point, I could register for any other Ironman race on Planet Earth and it would be a Level 2 Goal.  I’ve only completed Ironman Florida, but if I registered for IM Chattanooga today – even though it’s a completely different course, it would be a Level 2 Goal.  I haven’t actually raced CHOO, but I have trained for an Ironman before.  I know what’s involved.  I know how to adjust my nutrition for a hilly course, and so on.  I can make a PLAN to achieve that goal.

Level 3 Goals are FANTASIES!  They are completely unrealogical.  You have no idea how the stars will align to make this ridiculously HUGE thing actually happen.  All you do know is that you WANT it – and want it BAD!  That’s what Ironman was for me this time last year.  It was a fantasy.  I knew that many of my friends had finished similar races, so I knew it COULD be done. I just didn’t know how I was going to do it.  Honestly, I still wasn’t quite sure how it was all supposed to come together the night before the race!  But I wanted to be an Ironman.  I wanted to hear those words as I crossed the finish line.  I wanted it with a white hot passion.

And that passion drove me all year long – to get up at 3am to get my swims and long rides in without taking too much time away from my work or my family… To stop drinking alcohol because it got in the way of my workouts… To eat the good stuff and step away from the pizza – even when all I wanted was to stop at Mellow Mushroom and stuff my face… To do the things I needed to do, even when I didn’t want to do them.

Deb was my coach during the entire process.  Not my triathlon coach, but my MINDSET coach.  She kept my mind right and called bullshit when I started justifying less than I was capable of.  She sympathized when I said I was exhausted and then kicked me out the door to run 20 miles anyhow.  SHE knew I was working on a Level 3 goal – and she supported me 100%, but she was tough as shit on me too – which is EXACTLY what I needed.

Level 3 Goals are where we want to play, people.  Because it’s in the achievement of Level 3 Goals that we grow as a person and find out what we’re made of.  They stretch us WAY outside our comfort zones and teach us if we deserve that star we are shooting for.

I’ll tell anyone who asks me about coaching – do you need a triathlon coach to complete an Ironman?  Maybe.  I guess people would say I was self-coached in the traditional sense for Ironman Florida.  I had a training plan and I followed it (Be Ironfit by Don Zink).  Do you need a mindset coach?  ABSOLUTELY!  Especially as training starts to ramp and your brain turns to mush for anything outside of swim/bike/run/eat/drink/sleep, I believe EVERYONE needs someone to keep them moving forward when everything inside them wants to quit – someone to give them a toolbox of mental hardware to use out on the course when the dark and twisties come.  That’s what Deb did for me and it worked beautifully!

So, I need to find myself a NEW Level 3 Goal – and I can’t imagine it will be in the racing world.  I mean seriously, what’s bigger than Ironman – unless we get into the TOTALLY cuckoo for cocoa-puffs world of Ultraman or Epic 5 – and I’m not THAT crazy.

Likely, my next goal will have something to do with my business.  I have some ideas, but nothing that’s ready for publication just yet.

As far as racing goes, 2017 will most likely be populated with local sprint and Olympic distance triathlons, some running races, and perhaps a 70.3 in the Fall (Augusta, NC, and Great Floridian are leading the list so far).  Stay tuned!

39388573 - woman's hand with red pen writing word "what's next"

Things I Wish I Had Known BEFORE I Signed Up For An Ironman…

ironmanlogoWell, here we are in mid-August and it’s been 3 full months since I posted on this blog.  Why?  IRONMAN

See, that’s my blanket response for everything that has gone wrong, everything I have forgotten, procrastinated, messed up, or otherwise needed to come up with an excuse for.

Seriously, it’s a joke in my family about now…
Deb: “Ang, did you get those mushrooms at the market?”
Me:  “Oh crap, I totally forgot!”
Deb:  “I know, I know… IRONMAN…”

Ugh!

As of today, there are 82 days before I get this particular monkey off my back and can hopefully rejoin the world of productive adults.  Until then?  Well, it is what it is!

I have learned a lot over the past 4 months and there are some things that I wish I had known BEFORE I ever registered for an Ironman.  I mean, some of them are kinda “duh” things, but I guess I never really teased it all apart in my brain beforehand.  So, for those of you who may be interested in climbing the Ironman mountain at some point, here’s my list:

  1. repeatIt’s a part-time job…  Only it’s harder than any job I’ve EVER had in my life!!  I just started the “peak” phase of my training plan this morning.  This week, I will work out for 18-1/2 HOURS. That doesn’t count the time involved in packing bags, filling bottles, commuting to/from the gym, doing laundry, showering (more on that later)…  and this is only Week #1 of Peak…  It just gets better (worse) from here… At the “peak” of “Peak” it’s 22 hours.  LAWD!  And before you say “Oh boo hoo, poor you…” I know, I totally signed up for this myself – no one was twisting my arm.  I own it all!  I’m just putting it out there – Ironman takes a TON of time.
  2. im-sorry-post-itYou will fuck up… A LOT!  I can’t tell you the number of times I have said “I’m sorry” to Deb or one of our kids or Freddie or my Mom or a client, because I have Ironman brain and can’t keep a thought in my head to save my life.  Case in point:  My son’s first day of 8th grade was today.  Yesterday Deb asked me if all was good to go with the morning bus schedule.  Wide-eyed, I just blinked at her… Bus schedule?  Was I supposed to do something there?  I quickly banged out a web address and sure enough, Josh was not assigned to a bus.  SHIT!  Fortunately, there are a lot of middle-schoolers in our neighborhood, so the bus did indeed stop this morning and he did make it to school… Whew!
  3. You will miss out on stuff…  Because training takes a lot of time, you’re going to miss some stuff – maybe even important stuff.  I’ve missed swim meets, kisses goodbye in the morning, meetings, travel opportunities, parties, dinners out, and more because I was either training or going to bed while the sun was still up so I could get up the next morning to train…  This morning was Josh’s first day of school… and I missed sending him off to the bus for the first time ever… Yeah, put me up for Mom of the Year, stat!
  4. tiredYou will be tired…  I think this kind of goes without saying, and of course I knew I would be tired, but I was ill-prepared for the type of bone-crushing exhaustion that I feel almost every day.  I do sleep in on my Rest Days, but OMG!  I’m TIRED!!  Most mornings I wake up at 3:15am so I can do my personal development (don’t ask, it’s just my jam) before I head to the pool at 5am or get on the trainer.  I try to get to my desk in the office by 9am, work until 5pm, pick up Josh from swim team, eat dinner, and go to bed by 8:00pm, so I can do it all again the next day.
  5. You will stink… Dear LORD, why didn’t anyone tell me about the SMELL?  So today, I had a brick workout that went from 5am-8am and then I had errands to run.  I skidded into my office at 9:03 and sat down to work.  Shower?  I had no time for a shower… And so, I minimized my contact with people and grabbed a shower at lunch time.  :/  Triathlon STINKS!
  6. hungryYou will be constantly hungry…  I thought I was hungry when I was pregnant with Josh.  Pregnancy hunger has NOTHING on Ironman hunger!  I feel like I eat all the time.  It is not uncommon to catch me with my head in the refrigerator with a rice cake in one hand and an open container of hummus in the other double dipping like a crazy person!
  7. You will be bi-polar…  While we’re on the subject of pregnancy, you know how emotional pregnant women are?  Yeah, THAT!  I find myself in a heap in my closet or in the shower WAY too often, just crying it out.  Trying to figure out how the hell I got myself into this mess.  Wondering if there is a way I can get OUT of this mess without eating crow.   Pretty sure that I am losing my ever-loving mind!  I guess it goes hand in hand with #4.  And I thought it was just me, but I got a text from my training partner this weekend who was packing for a century ride and was sitting on the floor of her garage sobbing.  I guess it’s not just me…  Then there are other days when I feel like the Queen of the World and NOTHING can bring me down.
  8. You will feel so guilty and selfish… I don’t know how you get around this one.  You’re going to take time away from your family – you just will, so make peace with it or feel guilty about it.  I feel guilty about this all the time – and I have the most supportive group of cheerleaders EVER (my family) in my corner.  And yet, every time I head out in the dark on a  Saturday morning and know that I’m not going to be home until late afternoon, I feel so guilty about it.  Triathlon is a very selfish sport.
  9. Malachi-MegIt takes a village…  There may be those people who can survive an Ironman training cycle on their own, but I am not one of them.  I am 51 years old, people, and I have a freaking TEAM of people who routinely put Humpty-Dumpty back together again!  My training partner, Megan, keeps me sane and motivated and tells me that I “can,” even when I’m pretty sure that I “can’t.”  My chiropractor, Malachi, keeps me rolling and running on feet that do not like this whole running/biking thing. And then there’s a whole legion of people in my Swim-Bike-Fuel community who keep me grounded and eating what I should rather than what I want in any given moment (pizza/ice cream/cake/donuts/froyo…).
  10. You will amaze yourself time after time…  I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have been dumbfounded at the end of a workout.  Maybe it was just because I lived through it… Maybe it was a new PR time in the pool… Maybe (like on my birthday) it was averaging 20 mph over 60 miles on the bike (thanks Malachi 🙂 )…  I have shocked the hell out of myself over and over again.  It truly is amazing what the human body is capable of if we just get out of our own way!

Look, I’m just a middle of the pack age-grouper.  I’m never going to win a long-course triathlon – EVER.  I’m never going to qualify for Kona.  And that’s okay.  Triathlon is HARD!  Ironman is HARDER!  But, as Tom Hanks said in A League of Their Own, the hard is what makes it GREAT!  I’m really looking forward to crossing the finish line on November 5th and joining a club to which only 0.01% of the people on Planet Earth can claim membership.  That will really put an exclamation point on the major transformation I’ve undergone over the past 6-1/2 years.  It may not be fast and it may not be pretty, but one way or another, I’ll get there.

So even though I’m stinky and scatter-brained and walk around like a starving zombie most of the time and cry at the drop of a hat and feel like a horrible Mom and partner sometimes, at the end of the day I am pretty damned proud of myself.

Oh, and if I can do it, ANYONE can do it!!

ironman florida 230x120

#82days #iCANdothis #IMFL2016

My Review: Swim Bike Fuel

SBFOne of my triathlon friends – and one of the handful of people who inspired me to begin my triathlon journey – is Meredith Atwood (MA).  You may know her better by the name “Swim Bike Mom.”  Meredith has done a tremendous job of building a following (The Army) and a brand since she entered the triathlon world and blogosphere on August 26, 2010 with 7 simple words… “I have decided to become a Triathlete.”

What resonated with me so strongly about her was that she was just a regular person… A wife, a mom, a career woman, busy, frazzled, searching… JUST LIKE ME!  She put it all out there – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  She became an advocate for the “every woman (and man) triathlete” – and people loved her for it.  Over the years, as The Army grew, so did the Swim Bike Mom brand… Tri kits, mantra t-shirts, cycling kits, swim caps, and so much more – oh, yeah, I own them ALL and they are awesome!

In April, 2015, Meredith was looking to make some changes.  She was strong as a bull and a fine triathlete in her own right with 2 full Ironman triathlons under her belt, but she was stuck weight wise, and she knew she was not reaching her racing potential.  Enter Meredith Vieceli… MV is a nutritionist, a triathlon and running coach, and a metabolic specialist – and an Ironman in her own right.  MV started coaching MA in April and the results were both immediate and drastic!  A 70.3 PR at Gulf Coast in May, followed by IM Lake Placid and her “best race ever” at IM Louisville.  The ever-shrinking Meredith Atwood was getting a lot of attention.  People wanted to know what she was doing?  What diet plan? What? Where? Who?  How?

I think ole Swim Bike Mom must follow the same philosophy as one of our business coaches:  Look at the things you say “No” to on a daily basis and find a way to say “Yes.”

And Swim Bike Fuel was born.  SBF is a one month program that reveals truths about nutrition that are not necessarily common knowledge – one lesson at a time, one day at a time.  It’s delivered in a way that is easy to digest and implement in your life.

I’ll be honest, when Swim Bike Fuel was rolled out late last year, I wasn’t really interested.  I thought it was a cool concept, but I had a really good base in sports nutrition and I couldn’t imagine what I could possibly learn from it (talk about arrogant thinking!).  Two cycles of SBF passed before I started looking at the changes in MA’s body and performance and took a long hard look at my own situation and realized that MV and MA must have some missing piece of the weight loss/performance puzzle that was eluding me.

I mean seriously, check out the difference in just ONE YEAR!!

Capture

So, I enrolled in the April, 2016 class.

Holy Cow! It was amazing!

The SBF folks set up a secret Facebook page for our SBF class.  I honestly don’t know exactly how many ladies were in the April group, but there were a lot, and yet the interaction was very smooth.  The lessons were delivered each day by email and the questions that were submitted for each lesson were compiled into an FAQ and posted.  There were 2 scheduled Q&A conference calls, although our group didn’t send in any questions for the first call, so we didn’t actually have that one.  The 2nd Q&A call went almost 2 hours and was jam packed with great information.

Meredith Vieceli was absolutely available to us when we needed her and Meredith Atwood chimed in daily with how the lesson du jour impacted her journey.  If we posted a question or asked for clarification on a lesson MV usually answered within an hour or so – and she lives in Utah, so the time zone thing was in play.

I found that most of the lessons focused on concepts I was already aware of, but that maybe I just wasn’t being consistent with or had forgotten or needed to tweak.  Over the month I had a number of “Ah-Ha” moments that really made a huge difference.  I loved that there was no prescribed “diet plan.” Never once was I told that I had to “eat this” or “workout like this” or “drink that.”  There were no pills, no powders, no restriction.  Just good old fashioned common sense, combined with the very best up-to-date nutritional information- a very holistic program.

I’m not quite ready to go posting my before/after pics yet, but after 1 month I dropped 4+ pounds, and shed 5-1/2 inches and I know more has come off since then.  But beyond that, I feel terrific!  I have so much more energy, I’m sleeping better, my skin is clearer, I’m healthy (all the old aches and pains are gone), I’m catching those old self-sabotage triggers that would normally send me running for the bag of chips or ice cream before any damage is done, I’m recovering faster between my workouts, and I had one of my best races ever at St. Anthony’s on 4/24.  It’s been really great!

So, if – like me – you’ve been diligently following your training program and have been eating what you consider to be a healthy diet (maybe with a few more treats than you planned, because hey, you just killed that brick workout), but you’re not seeing the results you expected manifesting on your body, I encourage you to give Swim Bike Fuel some serious consideration.

Sure, there’s an investment – that made me think twice too – but it was totally worth it – EVERY . PENNY!

And my main question was this:  Well, what happens after the month?  A month of hand-holding is great, but what happens when it’s all over?  The great news is that the Facebook page remains and each group can decide how they want to proceed.  In our case, we are going back through each lesson – day-by-day.  We post a thread each day discussing our victories and our struggles – we are each other’s cheerleaders and support system.  We hold each other accountable, and that’s what gives the program it’s staying power.

This is not a fad diet – it’s a lifestyle program – and it is awesome!  There’s a new class forming for July.  Check it out!

 

This is my unsolicited testimonial based on my experiences with the Swim Bike Fuel program.  Your mileage may vary.

Here We Grow!

13119690_mIt’s been a while since I last posted.  To say it’s been busy around here is the understatement of the century.  Deb and I spent the month of March on the road with a terrific group of folks from Ambit Energy, traveling around the country training their team.  It was great fun and we met some amazing people, but WOW, was it exhausting!  And the piles that we returned home to – OMG!  I am happy to say that I have just about caught up with everything… Finally… Mostly…

See me fly?

See me fly?

So, when we last met, I had just returned from our awesome (but unseasonably chilly and rainy) trip to Key West.  We had a really good time.  And for the most part, I achieved my goal of not eating my way across the island.  There was one slight mishap on the exercise front though.  On the first day of our trip I woke up bright and early to head our for a 1 hour run.  I had mapped out a beautiful route along the water before we left home and all was well until about 30 minutes in I found myself face down on the pavement out of nowhere.  My first thought – as I was falling – was that I had tripped on something, but no, that wasn’t quite right because I was flying through the air…  In actuality I had been plowed into from behind by a kid (maybe 12-13 years old) on a bike who was trying to avoid a puddle on the sidewalk on his way to school and he just didn’t see me.  I came down hard on my left hand and knee (one would think after doing all those front falls in karate over the years, that would have been my default, but notsomuch 😦 ).

After making sure we were both okay, the boy and I parted ways and I did what any sane, normal person would do.  I turned my bloody, sore self around and ran the other half of my workout back to our condo.  My knee was fine – just a nasty scrape.  My wrist was not so fine.  Any lateral or backward bending hurt – a lot.  We went to Walgreens and I bought a wrist support and then I texted my chiropractor friend, Malachi, and asked for his advice.  He recommended a trip to urgent care for an x-ray.  So, the next morning – on Deb’s birthday – we spent several hours at Advanced Urgent Care.  The x-ray did not show a break and I got another super-cool wrist splint and was told not to use it for a week).

Anyhow, that was my excitement.  To be honest, it’s just now (over 2 months later) that my wrist doesn’t hurt.  I’m not so sure the x-rays weren’t wrong, but it’s all good now.

Pics from the trip (yep, mostly food…):

KW-collage

Did more treats slip in than I would have liked?  Yes, of course (case in point, the frozen slice of key lime pie dipped in dark chocolate that I conveniently forgot to snap a picture of… 😉  If you haven’t tried this, you must – it was AH-MAZING!!!).  But all in all, I was pretty pleased with the decisions I made.

Then we launched into March with travel to Stockton, CA; Chicago, IL; Houston, TX; and Erie, PA.  Crazy busy, but so, so fun!

SBF        M-and-M

Fun and games came to a screeching halt on April 1st!  I signed up for “Swim-Bike-Fuel” – a one month nutritional training program for triathletes presented by USAT Triathlon Coach, Meredith Atwood (aka SwimBikeMom) and Sports Nutritionist, Meredith Vieceli.  We’re not even half way through the month and I have learned so much terrific information.  Some of it is new.  Most of it supports what I already knew, but had forgotten, or just wasn’t being consistent with.  I need to be very intentional, not just with my training, but also with my fueling to get me to the finish line at Ironman Florida in 205 days (but who’s counting… 😮 ) and I will do whatever I have to do to show up as my very best self on race day.

On April 11th, my 30 week Ironman training program started and next Sunday (4/24) I have my first triathlon of the season at St. Anthony’s in St. Pete Beach, FL.  It’s been a stout training week and I just finished a 9 mile run that my body just didn’t want to do.  I told my friends that it was like a toddler in Target who didn’t get the toy they wanted – every part of me was bitching and whining and crying to stop, but I just kept moving forward… slowly, but forward nonetheless, and soon enough it was over.  I kinda want to curl up into the fetal position when I think about having to do that run 2 more times after more than 100 miles on a bike and more than 2 miles of swimming.  It seems impossible in the present moment, but every worthy goal always does until you grow into the person who achieves those goals.  I have 205 days to grow baby, GROW!!

grow

The First Big Test…

No excuses conceptSo, I started off 2016 with this great post about it being the Year of #NoExcuses and, truth be told, January went pretty great.  I hit my workouts, I found an awesome new chiropractor (who is also an Ironman triathlete), I dug into work and made huge headway on a number of projects, my nutrition was on point…  Great month!   I dropped 8 pounds in January and I swam 11.6 miles, biked 132.5 miles, and ran 40.4 miles.  Plus, I did strength training and karate classes twice per week.

All and all a successful base building month in my book.

As we launch into February, I am a little bit nervous.  Actually, I’m a whole lot nervous.  You see, this coming weekend 5 friends and I were supposed to run Ragnar Florida Keys – a 196 mile relay from Miami to Key West.  Only the Ragnar folks were denied their event permit and had to cancel the whole race.  But, we were planning to go anyhow so Deb and I are seizing the opportunity and heading to Key West for 11 days of vacation with her Dad.  11 days… no computer (except for my phone)… no work… no routine… And that’s where I tend to get into trouble.  I think that’s where a whole lot of people get into trouble.  It’s one thing to stay on track when we’re at our home base – in a controllable environment, but it’s something else when we take away all of the systems and structure that we’re used to.  It’s all fun and games until you throw vacation in the mix – with all it’s conditioned responses… the siren song of an unset alarm… the excuse of being in a strange town and not knowing where to go to work out…

The old me would take the 11 days off and enjoy myself.  I’d sleep in, relax, drink lots of beer, eat plenty of good (aka fattening) food, and just “vacation!”  But taking 11 days off from my training and nutrition plan and coming home with an extra 10 pounds on my body will not serve me or my goals in any way, shape, or form.  So, I have decided to do what I have to do to keep my eye on the prize… Ironman Florida… in NINE MONTHS!

However, here’s what the next 11 days look like… Duval Street… Bar, bar, bar, restaurant, boat, bar……

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But lo, I see a road – that means I can run.  And although my bike isn’t accompanying me because we’re driving the convertible, I found a gym that has a weekly membership option… And a pool where I can swim at 5:30am (with a coach even) at the local Community College for only $5/day.

Mapped out the route between the condo and the pool and the gym... #noexcuses

I’ve already mapped out the route between the condo and the pool and the gym… #noexcuses

fail-to-planThere are #noexcuses for skipping my workouts – even if I may have to move things around and change things a bit – I have options to swim, bike, and run before anyone else in the condo is even awake – every single day.

And, of course, it’s Key West, so my wetsuit is coming along and I have every intention of getting in a few open water swims as well!

Food and drinking are a whole other issue, which scare me a bit, but I have the My Fitness Pal app on my phone, which keeps me pretty honest because I HATE having to log the bad stuff.  Drinking… My nemesis…  I’m going to allow myself 2 beers per day… period…  It IS vacation, afterall.  I will Instagram photos of my meals while I’m gone.  Not that anyone really gives a hoot what I’m eating, but I won’t want to post a picture of the fried conch platter, so I’ll be a hell of a lot more likely to order a bowl of soup and a salad.

I’m building in layer upon layer of accountability!  And, of course, at the end of the day, DEB will be there – the QUEEN OF ACCOUNTABILITY!  She will hold me to whatever I ask her to (so, I’d best be careful with what I commit to!)