Thriver

What I’ve Learned From Triathlon

 “One can acquire everything in solitude except character.”

-Stendhal

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Today I applied to be an ambassador for the 2015 Swim Bike Mom Team.  I think my heart may have actually skipped a beat when I saw this post on my Facebook feed:

Screen shot 2014-08-08 at 8.43.27 PMSince it is a goal of mine in life to be just like Swim Bike Mom when I grow up (ie. a badass triathlete and author inspiring woman to “keep moving forward” and chase their dreams), I jumped at the chance to join.  Plus, I figured I would be perfect for her team since I already tell everyone how awesome she and her book (and blog) are every chance I get…  Oh and I’m into that triathlon stuff too 😉

As part of the application they asked how triathlon has changed my life.  I spent a lot of time putting together my response because the truth is, it has dramatically changed my life.  Given that this was a topic I have been wanting to write about anyway, I figured I would share my answer:

I have never considered myself an athlete. Even when I became an avid runner, I still never identified myself as athletic. I’m about as uncoordinated as they come… downright clumsy actually. I have been plagued with all sorts of knee and joint issues, and even when I ran, I wasn’t able to really excel at it because I was limited by pain.

After extricating myself from an abusive relationship, I found myself again through my love for running. I discovered the minimalist movement and built my way up to running ultras. That is when I first felt the pings of desire to enter the world of triathlon.

From day 1, the goal was never to do A triathlon, it was to do THE triathlon– an IRONMAN. At the time I didn’t know how to swim or bike, so I would say the first way triathlon changed my life is by making me a swimmer and cyclist.

Unlike people who learn to swim or bike simply for the sake of triathlon, I have learned to LOVE both swimming and cycling. I now have two more forms of retreat from the everyday stresses of life. I have two more sports that help me feel connected and centered. Everyday I am grateful for that simple gift for triathlon has given me.

Beyond that, learning to swim and bike have taught me some lessons in humility and perseverance. I was kicked out of my first swim class because I couldn’t rotary breath, but I didn’t quit. I had anxiety every time I went to the pool, every time I had to put my face in the water. I was THE WORST SWIMMER EVER, but I still wanted to be an Ironman. I practiced everyday until I was invited back to class. Then I graduated up a lane. Now I swim at an open water swim group.

It was the same story with the bike. I was TERRIFIED. I rode with white knuckles and braked down every hill. Then I discovered group riding. I felt so much safer. Instead of worrying about going too fast, I was engaged in conversation. I enjoyed the company and almost immediately the fear dissipated.

Through those first attempts at swimming and cycling I LEARNED THE VALUE OF COMMUNITY IN SPORTS.

Running is an individual sport. You train and compete alone. Yes, there are running groups and the whole running community- and don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my running community– but you don’t NEED other people to run. Triathlon is different. There is SO MUCH technical skill involved in swimming and cycling, let alone the rules and logistics of racing.  It’s near impossible to pick it all up on your own.

In triathlon you need other people to help you navigate the sport. You need people to talk you down when you are hyperventilating on your first open water swim and teach you how to grab your water bottle while riding in a straight line. Plus, there’s a ton to learn not just about swim and bike technique, but about all the bike maintenance and the gear. It’s a whole foreign world which is much easier to understand when you have other people to guide you through it.

They say “it takes a village” when it comes to raising a child, but I think the same applies to entering triathlon as well. One of the best things I did getting into the sport, was join our local YMCA tri club. Those people have changed my life. What they have done for me is on par with teaching me to walk. They have stood by through every struggle, crash, fear, doubt, and meltdown. Their support has been unwavering and unconditional. They truly are some of the most inspiring people I have ever met and not just based on their athletic achievements (which are both impressive and endless). Everyone is so willing to share what they’ve learned. They are humble, kind, and without judgement. Above all, they genuinely love the sport.  It’d be hard not to enjoy training in their company.

So by far, one the best ways triathlon has changed my life is by giving me an amazing community to both support and inspire my dreams… Not only the amazing people I have met and trained with in person, but also the online communities like the Swim Bike Mom Army, Team Tough Chik, blogs, and Facebook pages.

Finally, triathlon has forced me to realize that I am, in fact, an athlete. I am a clumsy chicken of an athlete, but an athlete none the less. I swim, I bike, and I run; and that makes me a pretty tough lady… and yes, a triATHLETE.

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Just about one week from today, I will be taking on my first half ironman.  There have been plenty of setbacks along the way, including a recent knee injury, but I am determined both to finish and have fun.  Above all else, I know I’ll be appreciating the journey, the places it’s taken me, and the people I’ve met along the way.

My heroes are the ordinary people in lycra chasing their dreams.  The everyday people who step outside their comfort zones and take on great challenges.  I am beyond fortunate to have met so many new ordinary heroes in the past year.  Hopefully someday I can be as inspiring as they are.

No What ifs, ands, or buts

 “The only limits in life are those you impose on yourself.”

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It’s official! I’ve taken the plunge and signed up for the Ironman 70.3 Timberman!

There was a time after my surgery when I thought (and feared!) I would miss out on my dream of taking on a half ironman this season.  With the setback in training, I just didn’t think I would get where I needed to be with the bike in time.  However, after spending some quality time cycling with my hubby on our vacation (ie. chasing after him…), I started making some serious progress. We even did my first half century ride together!  

The real turning point, though, came when we got back from our trip, and I was invited on a road trip to the Timberman course.  One of our fellow tri club buddies was signed up and looking for company on his preview ride.  I thought it would be a good opportunity to get another long ride in and see what the course was like for possible future reference.  Plus, I figured any time I could spend on the bike will bring me that much closer to really getting the hang of it.  

As it turned out the ride went really well. Better than I had expected, in fact. Doing all that cycling with the hubs helped tremendously in building my skill level, even if I never had a chance to notice while I was working so hard to keep up with him! This was my first opportunity to actually see all my hard work pay off.

Going into it I was worried about keeping up because I have historically been slow on my bike… and clumsy…  My nerves were somewhat alleviated by the fact that my riding companion for the day was the mild mannered minister I had ridden with (behind) on the Daffodil Ride a few months back.  I knew that he wouldn’t mind waiting up or stopping for me, which was a good thing given I am not coordinated enough to drink/eat and ride at the same time.  

To both of our surprise, however, it ended up that I was the one slowing down and waiting on him!   He said he couldn’t believe how much I had improved since we last road together.  The truth is, neither could I!   I was especially pumped because he had done the course last year and whole heartedly encouraged me to do it with him this year.  Given that this is a man who knows what it takes to finish the Timberman, who I am to argue with his faith in me?  

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I’m not going to lie, it felt really good to get a nod from a more experienced rider, but it was even more amazing that I did the whole course loop and still felt great at the end.  It was the longest ride I had ever done, and I finished it feeling better than I did on the half century just a week prior.   Better still, despite all the stopping and waiting, we still finished in under 4 hours.  It felt pretty darn awesome to know that even if I road at a comfortable, easy pace that I could finish well within the time cut off, not to mention have an opportunity to go into the run feeling strong instead of drained.  It was honestly the first time since before my surgery and the dreaded 6 weeks of restriction that this dream I’ve been carrying around for over a year seemed possible again.  

That little nudge was all I needed.  I texted the hubs to let him know I was in on the way home.

To celebrate, he took me for a particularly brutal ride the following day.  (Side note: He and I have slightly different ideas about what a “fun” ride entails… mostly because he’s a sadist on the bike.) While I take fullphoto 1 responsibility for suggesting we take on the REV3 again together, I never expected him to pick the day after my 56 mile ride AND that he would add an extra 16 miles of hills!  As much as I hated him for most of it, I was happy to finally conquer the course that had defeated me a few months back.  I may have had to stop 56 miles in at a gas station to get food and ibuprofen, but I finished; and, more importantly, I finished strong.  We covered over 72 miles and 5500 ft of elevation gain in just over 5 hours.  It was absolutely brutal, but it was also the first time I’ve ever felt like an actual cyclist.  

It only took conquering TWO half ironman courses in one weekend (plus some extra)! 

It’s actually kind of amazing when you consider that less than a year ago I didn’t even own a road bike or know how to ride one.  

Can you believe I also didn’t know how to swim yet a year ago?  Now I am signed up for my first half ironman!  It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you simply refuse to give up.  

Little by little, this dream is becoming a reality, and what seemed impossible is suddenly more than just possible- it’s within reach!

So that is my big news.  I’ll have to save the rest, including our awesome Michigan road trip, for another post.  I hope you all are having a terrific week full of adventures!    

What I’ve Learned About Failure From Diana Nyad

“I wanted to teach myself some life lessons at the age of 60,

and one of them was that you don’t give up.”

-Diana Nyad

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I think you are all aware by now that I have a rather substantial lady crush on Diana Nyad.  In fact, I am pretty sure I wrote a whole post about it at one point.  This post, however, is not simply about how much I am in total awe and inspired by her (which I totally still am), but rather what I have learned from her about life and specifically failure.

When Diana made her #EPIC journey from Cuba to Florida, I was glued to the CNN app on my phone (I’m talking Boston Marathon levels of stalking).  For me, it was the equivalent of Man’s First Steps on the Moon.  Here was this woman in her sixties taking on the ocean, Gulf Stream, dehydration, hypothermia, sharks, jelly fish, and exhaustion in the hopes of finally chasing down her dream.  She wasn’t deterred by her age, all her failed previous attempts, or even the fact that her most recent attempt had nearly killed her, TWICE!  She was all in, Cuba or Bust.

It happened at a time in my life when I was struggling to learn to swim.  I couldn’t even wrap my mind around swimming the amount of time or distance she was attempting, forget all the other hazards… or the currents… or salt water… or restrictive gear (because we all know how much I love my wetsuit… NOT!)  To me, she was the epitome of the indomitable human spirit.  I would think about her during my swims just in awe on so many levels.

The more I learned about her, the deeper my admiration grew.  This is not a woman who has had an easy life.  In fact, she’s had very much the opposite.  She was abused by her father and assaulted by her swim coach for years in silence.  Being abused by my ex husband as an adult almost broke me.  I can’t even imagine what kind of strength it took to survive and endure being injured in that way by the men she was supposed to be able to trust at such a young age without ever reaching out to someone for support.  Beyond that, that fact that she has the courage to speak about it openly (especially in a culture with such prevalent victim shaming) speaks volumes to her personal fortitude and character.

I don’t know whether it was inherent strength that got her through or developed out of necessity, but I doubt it is a coincidence that a woman who was able to endure and thrive after that kind of childhood abuse is the same one who was able to shut down her critics and swim from Cuba to Florida.  Coming from a place of having survived and overcome the betrayal of physical and emotional abuse, I can speak first hand to the type of perspective it can give on life and specifically on pain.

Everyone has a scale for pain.  When something hurts, your brain is programmed to compare it to past hurt.  There is NOTHING in this life that I have ever encountered in the way of physical pain that even comes close to the psychological pain associated with abuse.  No sport, race, or distance to date, and I doubt any ever will.  It may be a reach, but somehow I think swimming 50+ hours across the ocean probably doesn’t compare for Diana either.

However, the reason I admire Diana is not the fact that she is an open survivor of abuse, so much as who she is as a person.  She had a crummy past, but it doesn’t define her.  Instead, it has made her tough as nails.  She is utterly unwilling to accept defeat, and that is my kind of lady.  If Diana has taught me anything in life, it’s that there is no such thing as failure unless you quit.  You may have failed attempts, but until you throw in the towel and give up- it’s not over.

Prior to hearing about Diana and learning about her, I used to worry about the big D-N-F.  I was afraid of failing.  However, now I realize it’s not a failure unless I give up on my goal.  As long as my desire and dream are still alive, I’m not defeated; and the story isn’t over.

When you look at her journey from Cuba to Florida, Diana didn’t fail on those previous attempts.  They were all important steps on her journey to get there.  In the end, I’m sure the fact that she had to fight so hard for so long made it that much more meaningful and rewarding.  So now, every time I have a goal (like 70.3) that I just can’t seem to get to, that is what I think of.  It’s not a failure, it’s just going to take a little longer than planned.  Eventually I will get there, and the victory that much sweeter.

PS. If you haven’t seen Ms. Nyad’s documentary The Other Shore yet, you should probably watch it. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t a swimmer or even remotely interested in swimming. You should still watch it. Because the truth is, it’s not about swimming. It’s about living.

Feeling Tri-Umphant

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

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You know how I’m always saying that “I will succeed because I am crazy enough to think I can”… Well this past weekend, I was crazy enough!   

That’s right! It’s the post you’ve all been waiting for: My REV3 Olympic Recap

It would be wrong for me to tell you that it started Friday night with the race expo because the truth is, it started loooooonnnnng before that.  It started as a little, tiny, glint-of-hope, pipe dream.  It was one of those crazy goals that I wanted to do someday.  It was so far out of my comfort zone, I never actually believed I would do it.  Yes I hoped and I dreamed, but I couldn’t wrap my mind around ever getting there.

Through countless hours of training (and regular public humiliation) I learned to swim and bike… from scratch.  Ten months later, I found myself at a safety briefing for my first real triathlon.  It would have been far too sensible to start with a sprint distance.  Instead, I had set my sights on a half and downgraded to the Olympic.  I was clearly smoking crack out of my mind.

ImageI am reasonably sure that the actual job of the race director who gave our briefing was to scare the bejesus out of all the newbie triathletes.  I found this both cruel and sadistic. I had visions of him knocking over the ice cream cones of small children for fun while he spoke.  After stressing how hilly and difficult the course was, he actually made it a point to say that the race officials would be focusing their attention on all the newbies who didn’t know what they were doing.  Well thank you so much Mr. Sunshine, because I wasn’t terrified enough already.

After his glorious pep talk, I went home and couldn’t sleep.  In fact, I called the hubs almost in tears on my way home.  He assured me I would be fine.  I made him promise that he would have told me if he thought I couldn’t do it.  I tried my best to calm my nerves, but it was no use.  I applied my race number tattoos (while second guessing where I was supposed to put them, convinced that it would invariably be wrong) and headed to bed.

By 3 am I was wide awake and still utterly terrified.  There was no peaceful calm, no get it done attitude- just sheer terror.  I forced down some water and sweet potato and headed back to the park and bike transition.  I hadn’t racked my bike ahead of time because it was raining when I left.  I did heed the advice of the director and arrived well ahead of check in only to find it completely empty.  This dramatically dropped his credibility in my book.  I tried to catch some sleep in between trying to cram last minute calories and frequent trips to the bathroom for that wonderful pre-race nervous pee ritual we all know and love (hate).  Thankfully, I was forward thinking enough the evening before to have asked one of the transition volunteers about the set up, so I was at least fairly confident arranging my transition area.

Before I knew it, it was time to head to the shore.  On my way, I saw my personal kayak escort from my open water swim!  It was like the heavens themselves opened up and smiled down on me I was so relieved to see her!  She told me I would be fine, and I actually believed her… for like 30 seconds before I hit the water.  I did take the advice of the director and do a warm up swim.  It definitely helped with calming my nerves.  Once I was confident that I could swim without having an all out panic attack, I headed over to watch the other waves start.

I distracted myself by making friendly conversation with some other first time triathletes which, thankfully, gave me a sense of ease.  In fact, I entered the water feeling relatively calm.  I knew my task for the swim would be to remain calm and conquer my nerves.  It is something I have had to do countless times being terrified of swimming from the beginning (who knew that’d turn out to be such a plus?).  I just kept repeating “I love to swim” over and over in my head and focused on my stroke.  The course went by fairly quickly, and I learned my first newbie lesson- wear tinted goggles when open water swimming.  For approximately one third (the backstretch) of the course, I could not see anything above water due to the sun.  Instead, I tried to follow the trail of bubbles in front of me and hoped that the people ahead of me knew where they were going.  Once we were back on the final stretch, it was smooth sailing.   I was complimented on my way out of the water for being the first to exit smiling- which is amusing when you consider I started in the 4th wave and got passed by a good part of the 5th (the last)… who literally swam over me.  Did I mention that was the Athena wave (ie. Amazonian sized women)?  Yea, that was not intimidating at all…

I took my time in transition because I knew I could.  I didn’t want to rush and forget something.  My goal for this race was simply to finish, and I knew I had enough people behind me in the water that I wouldn’t get pulled.  I had no idea what my swim time was when I headed out for the bike. (It turned out to be 38:59) I was so relieved that the hubs and I had done the course earlier in the week as a test ride.  I felt so much more confident knowing every turn and hill on the course.  More than that, I had enjoyed the ride, and looked forwarded to repeating it.  It was beautiful with rolling hills and picturesque scenery.  There were two steep sections and a couple sucky hills, but there were also some AWESOME downhills with nice wide roads.  The best part was that the bad uphills were in the middle of the course while the fun downhills were all in the second half.  In my mind, they were my reward for all the hard work I had put in up to that point.  I slid back on my seat, tucked in, and FLEW down those stretches (On the preview I clocked just shy of 40 mph!).  I barreled past other riders- despite the fact that I managed to drop my chain on the way down.  I had to stop twice to fix it at the bottom and toppled once unclipping, but none of that even remotely dampened my spirits.  Even with dropping my chain and the stops, my bike took 1:54:39.

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My free finisher photo. Thanks REV3!

My transition time between my bike and run was shorter than my first primarily because I ate while running out.  The run course was hilly but completely manageable; and the miles went by quickly.  Because I knew I was in no danger of getting pulled, I ran smart instead of fast.  I picked a comfortable pace.  When the hills got steep and I thought I could walk faster than run, I did.  If ultra running has taught me anything it’s that there’s no point or glory in running when all you are going to accomplish is burning out your legs.  It’s better to spare the energy and kill it on the downs and flats.

So that is what I did, and it worked for me.  I finished the run strong- blasting through the finish (It’s amazing how much faster I can move when the end is in sight!) with a total time of 3:43.  The hubs was there waiting with one of our friends.  They had actually ridden out to meet me on the bike course and cheer, though, in truth, they met me going up while I was headed down and were completely out of breath.  I was still happy to see their faces, nonetheless! I also was fortunate to have AMAZING support from the the Waterbury Tri Club peeps volunteering throughout the course.  It was definitely a HUGE boost every time I saw any of them- and especially when I hit the aid station at mile 5 of the run and they all erupted into cheers.  I would have stopped to hug each of them had I not been so ready to be finished!!!

I can’t even begin to explain what it feels like to work SO HARD for something and then FINALLY achieve it.  Even though I still have not reached my dream of a half or full ironman, I did accomplish my goal of becoming a triathlete- and that is HUGE!  I am now officially a woman who is too badass for just one sport.  I swim, bike, and run.  I will continue to swim, bike, and run until the day when I no longer can.  There may even be an Ironman Full REV at Cedar Point 2015 on the agenda.  Who knows what the future holds.

You can bet no matter where life takes me that I will keep pushing and challenging myself.  To me, that’s what really living is.  It’s taking risks, getting out of my comfort zone, and redefining myself everyday. #thriveon

Are you a triathlete?  Thinking of becoming one?  You may be interested in checking out the ladies below for some laughs and inspiration:

Brook’s Tri Sprint Recap: The raw, [uncensored] TRUTH about my race day mistakes. – Make sure you aren’t drinking anything when you read Brook’s blog or it may come out your nose.  You’ve been warned!  Also consider joining her Sole Sisterhood while you’re there! It’s completely free.

Swim Bike Mom’s  Journey to 140.6: Week 3 of 24– Really you should just read her WHOLE BLOG and her book.  In case you hadn’t noticed yet, I’m kind of a big fan.  She speaks my language, and by that I mean snarky… oh and she refers to her lady parts as “the queen”… This may make us soulmates, but I don’t think she’s realized that yet so we’ll keep it on the DL (That’s “down low” btw)

Norma Bastidas’ Record Triathlon Brings Awareness– I first heard of Norma in reference to her ultra running, which is pretty darn amazing in its own right.  I am not going to give you all the deets of what makes her such an awe inspiring individual because I really want you to read it yourself, but I will say that this women has truly persevered beyond just learning to swim for her Mega Triathlon (woman after my own heart…).

That is all for now my loves!!!! I hope you are having a wonderful week!

Go chase your dreams!!!!

Trust In Yourself and Your Training

“Never give up.

And most importantly, be true to yourself.

Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in.”

-Louise Brown

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Hello My Lovelies!

I meant to update you all sooner, but I had an unexpected detour.  Before I get into the details of my recent #EPIC adventures, let me update you on the preceding events.

The weekend prior to my BIG RACE, I decided to go for a ride with my tri club peeps.  I had originally hoped to do the Rev3 Olympic course for practice, but instead we did the local Griskus Olympic course.  I wasn’t terribly disappointed because I figured any time on the bike would be good for me.  Plus, I typically enjoy riding in groups more than riding on my own, so I thought it might be a good confidence boost.  Turns out, it was not my greatest ride.  In fact, it was my most disastrous in some time.  I think this was partly due my nerves about the upcoming race and partly because I was super intimated by the group of individuals who came out.

Normally when I meet up with people from the club, there tend to be one or two people at my skill level.   However, these people were all far more experienced than me not only with cycling, but triathlon in general.  A few of them seemed surprised that I had signed up for the Rev3 Olympic as my first tri, especially given my obvious lack of confidence (and skill) with the bike.  I did not even bother to mention to them that I had actually downgraded to Olympic and had originally planned on the half.  Given that they were already questioning my sanity, I didn’t want to go ahead and confirm their suspicions for them.

Needless to say, before we even started our ride I was feeling out of my league.  It only went downhill from there (cycling pun).  Despite my best efforts to relax and have fun, I just couldn’t find my groove.  I was fumbling with my pedals and even tipped over upclipping at the top of a hill.  Then, because I had dirt in my cleat (I HATE you Speedplays), I couldn’t get back in my pedals to get down the hill.  Everyone else was light-years ahead of me.  And just because that wasn’t bad enough, I managed to get my chain completely stuck between two gears during a steep climb.  For those of you unfamiliar with cycling, that means I had to dismount and fix it (not such a big deal)… and then try to get started again… uphill… on a steep incline… yea not so fun…

I can’t actually remember if I did anything else to embarrass myself on that ride.  The whole experience was rather mortifying.  I was frustrated because it was the mechanical stuff I was struggling with, not the actual riding.  I knew I could do better, but everyone assumed I was just struggling because I was new.  I did manage to run a few miles as part of a brick, but I still couldn’t relax.  I felt like I was being silently judged (and unfavorably judged at that!)…  I am sure that most of this angst was just my nerves and in my head; however, it was the little comments here and there I had trouble tuning out.  Things like how the Olympic Rev3 bike course was very similar to the half, how hard open water swimming is, and how I should be doing my bricks in order (instead of swimming last which I still stand by as more efficient in terms of showering and making me a stronger swimmer… I mean if I am statistically most likely to die on the swim then doesn’t it make sense to make sure I am comfortable swimming tired?  just saying…) kept working their way up into conversation.

So here’s the thing, I am just not a subscriber of the cookie cutter training method.  I truly fail to believe that one training noeasyregimen can work for everyone.  For example, what if I don’t feel up to a 10 mile run on the day it’s scheduled?  Am I supposed to just push through and do it anyway?  Where is the allowance for listening to your body?  Plus, I find a lot of those plans require significantly more mileage than I would do on my own.  Now that is not to say that they don’t work great for some people, but I just would rather do my own thing.  I feel like I have trained for enough endurance events to know what I need to do to be prepared.  Apparently, that makes other people a little nervous… especially Type A people.

The thing is, those people aren’t with me when I’m at the YMCA every Saturday morning doing 24-30 miles of spin, followed by a 7+ mile incline run, and a 1 to 2 mile swim.  They aren’t there for the other countless miles I swim, bike and run.  They aren’t with me when I’m running half marathons or ultras, and they have no idea that I’ve been cross training with a personal trainer twice a week.  Beyond that they aren’t aware of what kind of background or mental conditioning I have had up to this point in my life, and they don’t know me.

All that being said, it’d be silly of me to take it personally.  It’s not that I’m incapable in their eyes; it’s that they don’t understand where I’m coming from.  There are some people who would just never sign up for a race they weren’t sure they would do well at, let alone finish.  The way I train and challenge myself is scary to them, and that’s ok.  I don’t need them to believe in me.  I believe in myself.

Perhaps when those same people see me crossing those finish lines and chasing my dreams it might inspire them to break out of their comfort zones and do the same.

 

The Word Hypocrite Springs To Mind

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If you arrived at this page through a shared link, I have to inform you that the post you were looking for is no longer published.

I am a woman of my word, and I did state that I would take it down if anyone involved regretted their actions and/or apologized.

If you are interested in the subject of bullying I would like to refer to this post instead to understand why I was offended enough to post in the first place.

Those of you who wish to help support Laura in her fundraising can find her GoFundMe site here.  You can also leave her some love in the comments below.

Anyone wishing to learn more about her can find her personal blog here.

To Laura (and everyone else dealing with haters today)

You keep being YOU!  Live your dreams, never apologize for being yourself,

And keep kicking ass.

We at The Running Thriver support you!

Haters say what?

“That’s my gift. I let that negativity roll off me like water off a duck’s back.

If it’s not positive, I didn’t hear it.

If you can overcome that, fights are easy.”

-George Foreman

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You know those super perky, obnoxious people who just seem to be happy about everything all the time for no reason?  Does it make you just want to hate them?  Well, I happen to be one of them.  Okay, well not all the time.  Certainly not when I’m at work anyway.  However, I am when it comes to any kind of exercise.  I truly LOVE and enjoy working out.  I am an absolute endorphin junkie.

I remember back when my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer, they prophylactically put her on prozac to avoid situational depression.  She loved that stuff.  She would always comment about how it was making her “fat” but she didn’t care because she felt so great on it.  She said she would rather gain weight than give it up.  That is how I feel about exercise.  Sure I appreciate that is good for me, but mostly I do it for the endorphins.  It is literally the only thing that helps my anxiety; so even if I gained a hundred pounds doing it and found out it wasn’t good for me… I think I’d still do it.  I’m an addict.

Perhaps that is why I can’t seem to grasp how other people can workout and not enjoy it even a little bit… like not even when it’s over.   Do they have endorphin resistance?  Are they so determined to be grouchy that even a good workout doesn’t help?

What’s more, I can’t fathom why anyone who doesn’t enjoy exercise or racing would sign up for an endurance event.

Last weekend, the hubs and I had a fantastic time at the Waterbury Duathlon.  However, there was a gentleman near me for much of the course who was ABSOLUTELY hating life.  He was moaning and screaming up all the hills on the bike section, and I (being a friendly and supportive runner at heart) would yell encouragement to him each time I passed. (SIDE NOTE: This was primary because I have a compact crank that makes my bike better suited for climbing… and I’m tiny which also works to my advantage on the way up).  While watching him struggle, I thought of suggesting he invest in having his bike properly fitted, but figured the timing would not have been good.  Besides, what do I know?… well, at least a little more than this guy.

Anyway, apparently I annoyed the bejeezus out of him because when we were about halfway though our second 5K, he grumbled something to the effect of “Congratulations, you are the person I HATE this race.”  At the time, I assured him that I was not trying to pass him and simply trying to run at a comfortable pace.  He growled he would prefer if I just passed him already.  Then, after making a rude comment about one of the finishers coming back through the course to cheer the other athletes on, he admitted to being an “angry runner” (two terms I didn’t think could ever be used together).  So, I asked if he preferred cycling instead.

In retrospect, it was probably a really stupid question… just based on the amount he was screaming and carrying on during the bike leg.  Which begs the question, if he hated the running and the cycling then what on God’s Green Earth was he doing there?  It just sort of boggles my mind.  I didn’t think people who ran and biked that far were capable of being so cranky.  Perhaps he didn’t train enough, but still… what a tremendous waste of energy.

Here is was a beautiful day with a well organized event, and this dude was hating everything and everyone- me most of all, smilingapparently.  Well excuse me Mr. Grumpy Pants, but you’ll just have to pardon my enthusiasm.  If you are truly in the habit of picking a person to hate every race; then maybe you, dear sir, need to find a new hobby.

The day that I stop loving and enjoying running and working out is the day I will stop altogether.  What is the point of going out there and doing these things if not to enrich our lives?  Sure, there are times when I hate the training and the discomfort during an especially long run or tough workout, but mostly I am grateful.  I am grateful because there are so many people who give anything to be able to walk let alone run.  I can do amazing things with my body, and that is a privilege.  It’s also something that can change in an instant- a thought I try to remind myself regularly.

Above all things, trail running is pure bliss for me.  Even in the midst of running a full ultra, I still love it.  I smile the whole way through.  I consider myself lucky to be able to take a whole day to myself to do something I love.  I am not torturing my body when I’m out there running a 50K, I am challenging it.  Yes, sometimes it can be painful, but that is what the training is for.  More than anything, though, it’s empowering and rewarding.  The reality is, there will come a day when I can’t run, bike, or swim anymore.  Until that day comes, I am going enthusiasmto appreciate each opportunity I have.  I will be chasing dreams until the day I die.  That is what makes me feel most alive.

I just don’t understand how Mr. Grumpy Pants missed the boat on what a gift it is to be able to bike and run at all, let alone compete. Maybe I offended him because I made it look easy.  Perhaps it was because I smiled and cheered on everyone around me.  More likely it was my sheer joy and enthusiasm which resonated exactly the opposite of how he was feeling.

Regardless, it wasn’t my issue.  I’m not going to dial down my enthusiasm and friendliness to avoid offending some cranky dude I’ve never met.  Frankly, there is no pleasing people like that.  The struggle they’re facing has nothing to do with you or me.  It’s entirely with themselves.  No one should ever feel obligated to apologize for simply being happy, genuine, and loving life.

Go out there and love life to your heart’s content.  The world needs more passionate people.  Be like George Foreman and let all the negativity around you just roll off your back.  You know I’ll be in your corner. 😉