Everyone Needs a Coach – I Sure Do

Everyone Needs a Coach – I Sure Do

Last Tuesday was the final day of my 10-week coaching program with Deb (Cheslow) and, honestly, all I can say is “WOW”! When I had the bright idea in the pool last October to ask Deb to coach me for real again after Ironman Florida, I was really just grasping at straws – trying to ward off the post-Ironman crash what would inevitably consume me without some sort of intervention.

I didn’t know if working with Deb again would/could do that or not.  I didn’t know if we had grown too close to be able to separate all of our different life roles for the sessions to be productive (we have always been very good at compartmentalizing “roles” because Deb was my coach first, then my karate instructor, then my business partner, and THEN my life partner, but it’s been a long time since there was intensive one-on-one coaching between us).  I wasn’t sure that I wasn’t too close to the material to make the process anything more than a rhetorical exercise, and whether I would get as much out of it as someone with less “experience”.  We started the program on Tuesday, November 8th.  I was still riding the high after the IMFL race only 3 days before and I was excited about figuring out my next big obsession.

But then I felt like all my fears were coming to fruition when, just days before Thanksgiving, the Ironman high wore off and I was left wondering what on earth I could ever do to top that day?  The cascade came and even as I felt it coming and was very aware of what was happening, I was powerless to stop it.  It was as if I had leaped off a cliff and gravity was pulling me to the ground regardless of how hard I flapped my arms and tried to fly.

I won’t kid you… I was scared… and worried… What if I couldn’t get my mojo back – for work, for triathlon, for my family, for ME?  My coaching sessions took a more somber turn.  I remember saying, “I just don’t know who to BE…” more than once.  But Deb never wavered.  She shook the program up and did unexpected things to catch me (and my logic) off guard – and there was no small measure of tough love thrown in there too.  There was plenty of her telling me what I NEEDED to hear, rather than what I might have WANTED to hear.  It took several weeks, but suddenly just before Christmas, I had a fire lit under my ass that suddenly had me doing at 90 mph!

Our company had decided it was time to put out a new book in the Spring of 2017.  The way we create new book manuscripts is for me to take Deb’s outline and create a rough draft of content from it. Then Deb takes my draft and completely decimates it – changing almost everything about it in the process.  In the end, the finished product looks NOTHING like my draft, but without that draft the book would never get written.  It’s a process and it works for us.  Anyhow, I was completely unenthusiastic about  starting the manuscript draft of the content sections, and yet it HAD to be written – and SOON!

As November turned into December, and our coaching program continued, I was still trying to identify my “what’s next”.  What was I going to focus on in 2017?  Business? Triathlon? I still felt so lost, and I didn’t want to do much of anything – business, triathlon, or even life in general. Then, during my session on 12/20, Deb said something to me that turned everything around.  I was once again saying that I didn’t know what I wanted and that I was so lost after Ironman, and blah, blah, blah… when she got up in my face and said, “Angie!  You are living in the past trying to train for a race that’s already been run!  You HAVE to redefine the race you’re training for NOW!”

16730679_1259150464168736_8567247102317113881_nSomething about that resonated so strongly with me. And she was right!  It was time to let Ironman go and move forward.  I snipped off my Ironman wristband later that day and asked Deb for a meeting on the new book so I could get very clear on what and how I was supposed to be writing.  I woke up the next morning at 3am and started writing.  I took the week off between Christmas and New Years like I always do, and jumped back into  the book on January 2nd. In only 12 DAYS I created the draft manuscript for the new book’s content – it became an obsession.  I was back! Now we’re finishing up the final edits and the book goes to the publisher early next month.

I had no clue how this coaching program with Deb would go when I initially got the idea in the pool.  But I was desperate!  Not as desperate as I was back in 2009, but still I knew I could not afford a prolonged crash after Ironman was over.  Now that the initial coaching program is over and I look back, I am thrilled with the results!  Was there a crash?  Yes – of course – they can’t be prevented, only mitigated, but I think I did a great job – with Deb’s help – of shortening the refractory period and pulling out of the nosedive in a very short span of time.  I know people who have the Ironman Blues for YEARS, and mine lasted for less than a month.  I’ll take it! It wasn’t a pleasant month, but now I am refocused on things that are important.  I have a great “A” race for 2017 that I’ll begin training for next month and I’m happier and more productive than I’ve been in a VERY long time.

I’ve decided to retain Deb as my “official” coach indefinitely.  And I know there are people who are reading this post right now who are saying, “Yeah Ang, nice for you to have your partner as your coach… everyone else has to PAY for it!” To that I say this… Free coaching never works because there is no skin in the game and when the going gets tough – and it always gets tough somewhere along the way – sometimes it is only the fact that there is money on the line that keeps you moving.  I cut Deb a check every month out of my own bank account to keep me accountable to myself for this process.

I know I will always have a coach – someone to push me further than I believe I can go on my own.  It’s worked pretty darned well for me so far – I think I’ll just keep going!

Lighten Up (And Other Thoughts Brought To You By The Taper)…

be-greatTAPER TIME!!!  Thank you Sweet Baby Jesus for allowing me to arrive at this point in my Ironman training alive and relatively in tact!

I’m in a very weird place right now – a place I have never been in before a race…  It’s a place where I am kind of numb…

I’m not freaking out over the fact that in exactly 2 weeks, I will be halfway to Panama City Beach en route to my first (and likely only) full-distance Ironman race…

I am not allowing the doubt over race day conditions to swirl through my head like a tornado – even though the past several year at IMFL have been pretty extreme…

I am not flipping shit because I missed a workout (or three) due to Hurricane Matthew…

I feel okay…  Actually, I feel better than okay – I feel pretty darned great!

hardI’m not delusional – I KNOW it’s going to be a hard day…  I KNOW it’s going to hurt…

But you know what?  I also KNOW I can do it!

Am I going to Kona qualify?  Hardly…  But can I finish this race in 17 hours?  Yes, I believe I can.

Someone posted a very nice perspective piece on one of the Facebook pages I follow:

All I need to do to become an Ironman and meet all the cutoffs at Ironman Florida is swim 2.4 miles < 3:19/100 yards, T1 < 15 min., Bike > 13.58 mph avg., T2 < 15 min, run < 13.33 min/mile

I can do all of that… I know I can…

I have chosen to lighten up on myself…  Of course I have time goals that I would like to meet, but you know, at the end of the day when you’re a middle of the pack age-grouper, does it really matter if you finish in 14 hours or 16 hours? Isn’t it just the FINISH that matters?  If I finish in 16 hours, I am still as much of an “Ironman” as the person who finishes in 13 hours.  I suppose there are those people out there who would disagree with me – that a 16+ hour finisher is not a REAL Ironman. They are entitled to their opinion, but I would suggest they lighten up.

de15d21ae07ac866ab5c1cf91c9a5030Because here’s the cold hard truth… I know a lot of triathletes – like A LOT!  And there is only ONE of them who can ever even hope to earn a paycheck from triathlon (Hi Malachi!!! 😉 ).  The rest of us are out here to have fun… to challenge ourselves… to do our best… and to finish what we start.

I have learned that there is a whole population of triathletes out there who take themselves WAY too eff-ing seriously.  LIGHTEN UP, people!

For the first time in my life as a triathlete I understand the comment I have heard so many times before a race:  “Enjoy the day.  It is your victory lap.  Your reward.”  I believe that now – the training for this race has been harder than anything I have ever done.  My family and I have had to sacrifice A LOT over the past year for me to get to this point.  The past year has been a journey of getting to “belief.”  Belief in myself… Belief that I can finish what I start… Belief that I truly am stronger than I EVER dreamed possible…  Belief that my body is capable of incredible feats… Belief that I AM good enough.

And it has all been worth it!

17 days until race day… And now, back to my taper!  😉13434941_10207022398979376_2030666058340802037_n

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

The Year of #NoExcuses

be_nice_to_yourselfYou know, I talk a pretty good game.  I own half of a peak performance company and we help people bust through self-imposed limitations every single day.  And it’s awesome, it really, really is!  And I’ve busted through my fair share of self-imposed bullshit in the past 6 years too.  I’ve taken out the mental garbage more times than I can count.  The process DOES work.

However, 6 years is not enough time to overcome the other 44 years of negative self-talk during my lifetime.  You know, all those nasty things we whisper (and sometimes scream) to ourselves when we’re laying in bed at night trying to fall asleep…

  • Why are you so damned fat?
  • Why didn’t you push harder on that interval set?
  • You know, your swim times really suck!
  • Why did you eat THAT today?
  • You should be a better swimmer, mom, partner, friend…
  • OMG, your thighs are ponderous!
  • You should be smarter, thinner, faster, stronger, more resilient, more productive, more, more, more…
  • And on and on…

good-enoughThe voice in my head doesn’t yell at me as often as she once did, but she’s most definitely still there.  And when she start shouting at me and telling me that I’m not good enough, I tend to have one of two reactions:  I either say, “F@%K YOU, watch me!” or I start making excuses and justifying why it’s okay or why what I’m doing is “good enough.”

“Good enough” is not living.  “Good enough” is living in “the Matrix” being content with whatever is left over in life.

I was meant for more than “good enough.”

We are ALL meant for more than “good enough!”

But of course, WE are the only ones who can do anything about that, aren’t we?

Personal development is a never-ending journey.  Once we think we’ve got it, we’re screwed.  Our logic waits for those moments of over-confidence to swoop in and knock us off our pedestal and attempt to steal our dreams.

I have decided that 2016 shall be a Year of #NoExcuses.  No justifications.  No settling for “good enough.”

I have ONE SHOT at Ironman.  TEN MONTHS to do whatever it takes to get to the finish line of Ironman Florida satisfied that I gave my very best and can walk away with pride in my accomplishment.  I get no do-overs.  If IMFL goes down in flames on November 5th, I don’t get to try again next year.  This is it.  So I have to make the most of it.

Excuses and settling for “good enough” will not serve me in this journey.

“F@%K YOU, watch me!”

liar

P.S. If you’re looking for a great piece that breaks down the anatomy of an excuse, check out this post from Swim Bike Mom.

Okay 2016, Let’s Do This!

20151224_211738Well, it happened again… I blinked, and here we are launching another year.  It is really insane how quickly time seems to be passing these days.

We had a wonderful holiday!  December is usually a dead month in our business, but this year we were ridiculously busy (I am not complaining one little bit), so the contrast of transitioning from going Mach 5 with our hair on fire to vacation was AH-MAZING!!!!   All 3 kiddos were home, my Mom and her little Yorkie Jax were here too, AND we welcomed a new member of our family.  Meet Kona! She is a 9 week old Miniature Schnauzer who has completely stolen our hearts.  She came home on Christmas Eve and was the best Christmas present ever!20160101_094443

As usual, I took Christmas Eve through the first day back at work of the New Year completely off from all things structured – no structured schedule, no structured eating, no structured training.  It was glorious!  There are those who would disagree with me on the value of a “reset” at the end of each year, but it works for me!  Yes, I feel like a sloth… Yes, I usually gain a couple of pounds…  BUT, by the time the New Year rolls around, I am CRAVING healthy foods and a good stout workout, and that’s the whole point.  I’ll be honest, by Christmas Eve I was so sick of piles of lentils and rice, and the thought of getting on the bike – even my new fancy Chrissie – or heading to the pool or out for a run made me want to cry.  The break was good for me.

Last week I spent some of my off-time, compiling training schedules and spreadsheets through St. Anthony’s at the end of April.  I was excited to go swim and run yesterday (even if my suit fit like a sausage casing).  I am looking forward to my Iron Year.  I know it will be a challenge unlike any I have ever attempted.  I know there will be days when I want to quit.  There will be suffering and sacrifice.  That’s what it’s all about, right?  I will come out of 2016 a different person than I entered it – not just because I finish a long race on the first Saturday of November, but because of what I will have to do between now and then to reach that finish line.  It really IS all about the journey, isn’t it.

As the self-proclaimed QUEEN of self-sabotage, I have adopted a mantra for 2016.  In any given moment, I ask myself, “Is what I am doing (or about to do) moving me toward my goals or farther away from them?”  Is piddling around on Facebook helping me reach my goals or not?  Is eating that __________ taking me closer to my Ironman goals or not?  Am I working out in a way that is making me better or am I phoning it in to check a box?  If the answer is “No” then I stop.  I know those of you highly disciplined people may read that and say, “Duh…,” but for some reason the obvious tends to elude me.  :/

So, here’s to an awesome 2016!  It’s going to be a huge year all the way around.1-HNY