No What ifs, ands, or buts

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

ohwell

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!    

Fairfield Half Take 3, Recap Take 2

“I would say I’m a kinda fly by the seat of my pants gal.”

Vivian, Pretty Woman

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Here is the deal, I have spent the past three days (no joke) putting together a recap of my glorious return to running only to have WordPress and my Mac completely destroy it.  I suspect a conspiracy… However it may also be possible that it was too much awesomeness in one post and the system was overwhelmed… or my computer is just fried from it being so darn hot in my living room.    Anyway, instead of trying to recreate my original post (you’re just can’t recreate magic) I am going to give you a quick run down.  Ready?

Here we go!

Sunday I made a triumphant return to running and celebrated being 3 weeks out from surgery by running the Fairfield Half Marathon for my third time.  It was pretty awesome, but here are the highlights.

My race number was a palindrome!  I realize this makes me a total nerd, but I considered it good luck.  I mean, what are the odds? 

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I also scored this nifty magnet for my car.   Two thumbs up to the race organizers on this one!  I was extra excited because I had to relinquish all my old race stickers when I traded in my car.  This definitely helped my new collection.

 

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Did I mention it even matches my new orange crosstrek?

I have to admit that I was a little nervous about doing this race because of my recent surgery and not feeling terribly great the night before… not to mention working a 14+ hour shift the day prior.  However, I woke up before my alarm feeling good and reminded myself that I could always walk or drop out if I needed to.  

Besides, I just didn’t want to miss Fairfield after having done it the past two years.  As much as I HATE their half, I also love it.  It’s primarily the heat and humidity I can’t stand… well, that and the hills.  Luckily, the weather this year was only in the 60s and several of the hills from the initial course were replaced by coastal views last year.

It is pretty amazing how much flatter that course felt not running in 90 degree weather with near 100% humidity!  I kept waiting for all the ridiculous inclines to start, only to find they were not as numerous or steep as I remembered.  The coastal views, meanwhile, were far more enjoyable because I was not distracted by being baked by the sun.  The other thing that I’m sure made I huge difference is that I had already decided going into the run to not push hard and just do it for fun.  Instead of killing myself to get a good time, I slowed down to high five all the kiddos and run through sprinklers.  It was a completely different experience, and I definitely appreciated the change in pace.

The other major perk this year was the gorgeous weather seemed to draw bigger crowds of spectators than the past years I’ve run.  There were TONS of people cheering, playing in bands, handing out water and ice cubes, and spraying runners with hoses.  There were even lots of elderly folks in lawn chairs waving.  It was so much more fun to run with the support of the crowd!  (Not to mention all the AMAZING volunteers!!!! Thank you all!!!!)  

One thing I love about the Fairfield Half is that it is a big event.  There are just hordes of runners the whole way through the course.  Not in a claustrophobic kind of way, but rather a thank God I’m not a straggler running by myself kind of way.  Plus, the finish is at a GIANT BEACH PARTY? What is better than that? You get a good run in and then celebrate on the beach with a couple thousand of your new runner buddies.  RUNNER BEACH PARTY!  It’s the stuff dreams are made of…  and totally worth sweating it out in the heat for 13.1… I swear!  Besides cool ocean water beats an ice bath after a run any day in my book.

In case you are wondering, I finished the whole 13.1 without any issue.  My go slow and enjoy the scenery game plan paid off.  In fact, my biggest source of discomfort pain was actually the chafing on my inner thighs. (Bodyglide, you FAILED me!)  My finish time was 2:06 which I think is actually faster than my previous times for that course.  I am pretty sure it had entirely to do with the more comfortable weather, but I’ll still take it.  Really, it’s not to bad for 3 weeks post op and a whole month without running… or being allowed to do much of anything.  

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Half Marathon for very first run post-op? Sure, why not?  Go big or go home, right?

 

 

One cool thing about this race is that it was the first that I logged as an OutRUNNER for OutRUN38.  If you have never heard of this organization or Liz Shuman you should definitely check them out!  I have even added the recent clip from the Today Show for your viewing pleasure. (You’re welcome!)

 

You know I am all about supporting a good cause, and this is a great one!  It’s all about positivity and inspiration! Liz is such a tremendously vibrant and inspiring lady, and the community that has risen up around her is beyond amazing.  If you are interested in helping individuals with cystic fibrosis or just getting involved in a great cause then consider joining the OutRunner community.  Wouldn’t you like to put all those miles you log to good use?

Making Use of Downtime

“I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself.

For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness

is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.”
Martha Washington

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Hi All!

I am pleased to report that as some of my activity restrictions are being lifting, life is starting to return to normal around here… which is a good thing because I was starting to go a little bonkers not being allowed to exercise (We’ll just say it didn’t agree with the PTSD and that I’m happy to be sleeping through the night again).  

Currently, I have returned to work and survived my first full week back including one hellish weekend shift.  I have also resumed swimming!  In fact, at the two week mark from surgery some super cool peeps from the tri club and I went to the lake to celebrate my first day off swimming restriction.  The only downside was that it was windy out and the water was choppy which definitely did not agree with my motion sickness.  The good news is, it definitely encouraged me to kick harder and swim faster!

Speaking of which, I also am thrilled to inform you that I have started an Open Water Swim Training Program through the Lake Quassapaug Sailing Center.  Now I get to swim on my Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings off with a bunch of swimmers who are far superior to me.  On the bright side, they give me a head start.  Plus, they are all really fun people… hilarious actaully…  I have gone out with them twice already, and I feel like it has helped a lot with getting used to the wetsuit.  In fact, I have to be honest that open water swimming has really grown on me.  *gasp*  I think I may even prefer it to the pool at this point.  The lake water is cool (ok COLD) and refreshing, and you can’t beat the scenery.  Today I swam in the pool for the first time since surgery and the water just felt really warm and gross in comparison (at least upon first getting in anyway…)

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My newest home for swimming… you can go ahead and be jealous now…

Aside from starting to swim again I also spent a little time on the bike trainer.  Then yesterday I went for my first post op run (more on that to come… I decided to just go big.  After all it was my three weeks out from surgery marker!)

For all of you wondering what I did with the rest of my free time (riiiight… you’re thinking What free time?!, but trust me, I had lots of it….)  So to keep from climbing the walls, I decided to finally order my wedding photos and redecorate the living room.  It all started because I found a great piece of furniture to hide all of Adam’s cycling gear… which has been slowly taking over the house, especially the dining room table.  Then I decided that instead of trying to hide of his stuff (because I’m realizing it’s futile… he’s never going to be the kind of guy who puts things away…ever… it’s just not who he is) I would try to camouflage it instead.  I know! Genius, right?

Here are my efforts:

ImageOur beachy wedding photos and newly wed pillows 🙂

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The hubby’s new bike gear storage with new bike themed decor…

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And our nifty new clock

I think the hubs was both touched and impressed by my efforts to incorporate his love of cycling into our living space.  Of course, he was not quite impressed enough to actually use his new storage area, but at least I have a place to put all his stuff when I clean up after him.  I also believe he was happy to see our wedding photos finally hanging… although I bet he was secretly sad to see all the photos of the dogs go.  

So apart from my run yesterday which we will discuss in a separate post, that is all the shenanigans I have to update you on for now.  I have surprisingly been doing a good job of laying low and keeping out of trouble… with the exception of yesterday’s run.  In my defense, though, I was told that my activity level should be dependent on my pain, and I really don’t have any.  Plus, it’s not like I have been lifting anything which is the really important restriction.  After all, as much as I love and adore The Bloggess, I don’t want a Who trying to escape from my belly button. 😉  

Stay tuned!

We Should All Be Pro-Women *Trigger Warning*

“Oh, if I could but live another century and see the fruition of all the work for women!

There is so much yet to be done.”

Susan B. Anthony

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I am going to do my very best not to fly into a feminist rant, but it’s very difficult not be offended as a woman, survivor of abuse, and human being when a “respectable” (see George Will, I can use snarky quotations too) publication like The Washington Post publishes this kind of anti-female garbage.

In his “opinion” article Pulitzer Prize–winner Mr. George F. Will claims:

“Colleges and universities are being educated by Washington and are finding the experience excruciating. They are learning that when they say campus victimizations are ubiquitous (“micro-aggressions,” often not discernible to the untutored eye, are everywhere), and that when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate.”

He goes on to attack the “supposed campus epidemic of rape, a.k.a. ‘sexual assault’” by providing an example of a college student who was forcibly held down and raped by someone she had been previously “hooking up” with.  Despite the fact that this woman clearly reported she had said no, Mr. Will apparently believes this doesn’t count as a sexual assault because she didn’t physically try to stop him?  Or because she waited six weeks to report the incident?  Or maybe because she had previously had sexual relations with him, so that meant she was fair game?  Or was it because she was asking for it since she was lying in bed with him?

I’m not really sure exactly what Mr. Will is asserting as justification to how this isn’t sexual assault.  Perhaps he would like to clarify.  In fact, maybe he would like to do so to the parents of the girl he just publicly ridiculed for reporting a rape (because obviously she was doing it for the coveted victimhood privilege… gosh I wish that existed when I was in college… I would totally have made up a story about being assaulted)

Then, not having dug a deep enough hole for himself, Mr. Will then goes on to criticize the utilized definitions of sexual assault referring to them as:

capacious definitions of sexual assault that can include not only forcible sexual penetration but also nonconsensual touching. Then add the doctrine that the consent of a female who has been drinking might not protect a male from being found guilty of rape.”

Capacious indeed.  I could see where it is a real stretch to consider “nonconsensual touching” and having sex with a woman too drunk to give consent under the umbrella term of sexual assault.

In truth, I don’t find it surprising at all that conservative white man with an ivy league education would find it difficult to understand let alone empathize with the amount of unwanted sexual advances that the young women of this country experience on a regular basis. Of course he would find it offensive that women wish to pursue higher education without fear of being groped or raped by their coeds.  It is a totally unreasonable request.  Why should we as women expect to have access to education without having to fear for our virtue when we clearly belong barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen?  If we all just accepted our place in society, we would be safe at home under the protection of our husbands.  We clearly have brought all of this on ourselves.  Right George?

What I do find surprising and downright offensive is that The Washington Post would publish this kind of damaging misinformation.

In a single, narrow minded and uninformed article, this man has undermined the issue of rape on college campuses, claimed that the prevalence of rape is grossly overestimated without any actual data to back his claim (beyond statistics from a single university which did not include any surveys of women on campus, but solely reported cases), and openly shamed victims of sexual assault by claiming that victim privilege encourages false reporting.

I think my head may just explode from the total lack of sense this article makes.  PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE someone take this man and put him in a room of survivors of rape.  Make him listen to their stories and hear first hand what it is like to be re-victimized by society.  Let him get an idea of just how traumatic it is to be betrayed and violated sexually by someone you know and trust.  Maybe then he will understand that trigger warnings are not a measure for “students whose tender sensibilities would be lacerated by unexpected encounters with racism, sexism, violence (dammit, Hamlet, put down that sword!) or any other facet of reality that might violate a student’s entitlement to serenity.” 

Better yet, have him watch The Invisible War or read When Women Refuse, just someone please educate him.  Then while you are at it, please educate society.  This type of propaganda is not okay.  It only serves to set women back; and when you set back women, you set back society as a whole.  We make up half the population.  Women’s issues are Society’s issues.  It’s time for society to start caring about violence against women.

There are good reasons why only a small fraction of assaulted women come forward.  The first is that due to lack of education and awareness, many women don’t realize they have been assaulted immediately.  This does not make what happened to them less of a crime.  The second is the overwhelming and pervasive victim shaming and blaming that goes on in our culture of which Mr. Will has so eloquently and graciously provided an example.  The reality for survivors is a far cry from any coveted privilege.  Rather it is an anxiety ridden time filled with despair and self loathing which is only coupled by prevalent public shaming and ridicule.

The only privilege I have ever seen associated with being a survivor of violence against women is SURVIVING because there are many women who don’t.  But then, they were probably all asking for it too, right Mr. Will?

There is a reason the #YesAllWomen campaign exists.

I’d just like to ask Mr. Will when the last time was that he felt he needed to carry mace?  A rape whistle?  How about have an escort walk him to his car (for protection, not as a paid service)? Watch his drink to avoid getting roofied?  Or watch his alcohol intake in general? … the list goes on and on.

My point is, George Will, that you have a lot to learn about the other half of the population before you start accusing us of lying to seek out a privileged victimhood.  Walk a few miles in our shoes and then come back and tell us how coveted it is to be a survivor of sexual assault or violence against women in general.

PS.  Just in case you think this backward thinking is an isolated incident, check out this other gem from the Washington Post.  They have concluded that the answer to ending violence against women is to marry… which someone should have told my ex husband because I’m pretty sure he became physically violent after we were married.  He must not have read their article.

Taking It Easy is Not So Easy

“Strange, what being forced to slow down could do to a person.”
― Nicholas Sparks, The Last Song

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Hello My Loves!

I am on day 11 of Purgatory, and it’s going about as well as you would expect.  The first week was not so bad because I had been planning to take it easy after the REV3 anyway.  Plus, I was sore and tired from surgery the first few days, so I didn’t feel up to doing a whole lot.  I took advantage of my extra free time and caught up on writing, cleaning, spending time with my family, and even doing some gardening.  Then week #2 started…

The funny thing I have learned about myself in all of this is that aside from work and working out (and my family), I don’t really socialize.  Now that I haven’t been allowed to do either, I’ve had no one to talk to other than the hubs and my mom… which is kind of a bummer (possibly even more so for them…).   I guess I could take this as a newsflash that maybe I should make some new friends outside of the gym and tri club, but then what would we talk about?  

On the bright side, my yard looks great!  Before my surgery I had decided it was time for a change, so I painted my front door BRIGHT (think FIRE ENGINE) red.  Then I repainted my front steps because they looked kind of drab in comparison, and they were due for a facelift.  

 

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With all my recent free time, I figured the gardens could use an overhaul too… Which was totally allowed because it involved no heavy lifting.  So I finally divided some of my plants that were going bonkers and moved them to other parts of the yard that were bare.  Then I went to Lowes with my mom and we found a CONCRETE BULLDOG!!!!  My mom decided Adam and I needed to have him, so she bought him for us for our anniversary.  (Isn’t she the best?)

 

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Our new guard dog… I still need to name him.  I was thinking Uga… he sort of looks like one.  Isn’t he cute !?! I know it’s not a metal chicken, but I still think he’s pretty awesome.

Anyway on Sunday the hubs left me all alone for the entire day while he did a century ride for the Tour De Cure… so being left to my own devices, I got into all kinds of trouble (obviously).  First, I went to yoga, but it was all good because I warned the instructor that I just had surgery.  I totally did not do any poses that would compromise my healing… and I NEEDED IT.  It was SO RELAXING!   It completely got all my jitters out… temporarily.  

Then I figured I would just stop at Home Depot on my way home and see if they had mulch on sale because we really needed some for the gardens (with all the hot weather we’d been having my transplanted flowers were not happy… they needed something to cover their roots and hold onto moisture).  It turned out they did have mulch on sale, and the bags were really light…. so I bought 12.  In my defense, if the universe did not want me lifting those bags (which I reiterate were really light, and I only used my arms… no core… I swear) then they wouldn’t have been on sale.  Plus, some nice guy loaded them in my car for me because apparently I look helpless being all feminine and such.

After my new friend and I got all the much in the car, I went back and bought a bunch more stuff… including a lot of stuff I probably didn’t need.  The thing is, putting me in the garden department is like putting me in a running store.  I can’t be trusted on my own.  So, like I said, my yard looks great.  Also just for the record I did ask my family for help with the mulch when I got home… and then took care of it myself when they didn’t come.  I assure you that it was rather uneventful.  I only had one small turf war with the wasps/bees (who have dug holes all over my garden and yard), but I am pretty sure I won.  I have the hose to thank for that… that and my crazy ninja skills sneaking during the night.  They looked pretty irate the next morning when they found their homes covered in a layer of wet newspaper and a few inches of mulch.  I’m sure my neighbors thought I was nuts, but what else is new?  

Aside from my antics with the yard, I have managed to stay pretty low key.  Interestingly, with my all my spare time for reading and stalking the internet, I learned that my idol The Bloggess is suffering the same fate.  She also recently had surgery because she had a Who trying to escape from her belly button.  Clearly we live parallel lives because we are both so awesome.  My friends have warned me that I too will have a hernia if I continue to push my luck post-op, but I have assured them that getting a hernia through a laparoscopic incision is actually incredibly difficult to do.  In fact, I have actually only seen it happen twice in my whole career.  I guess that just makes the Bloggess extra special… and talented.

Oh and speaking of my career, I got two separate packages from my coworkers yesterday to wish me a speedy recovery.  I would like to remind you that these are surgical PAs and Nurse Practicioners… Look what they sent:

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The cards said “get well soon,” but this is what I think it probably should have said…

Clearly, these are my people.  They said they even waited a week to send all these treats, so I could actually enjoy them without getting sick… although I am pretty sure if I eat all of it, I will be in a sugar induced coma anyway.  These are the same people, by the way, who think the amount of exercise I do is bad for me.  Really guys?  

In case you were wondering, I did bust open that candy and eat it.  No, I did not even make a dent in it, however I did enjoy some peanut butter cups.  MMmmmm Peanut Butter….  I also did not get sick or have pain after, which is pretty epic in my opinion.

That is all I have to update you on for now.  Sorry for the long post, but I did add lots of pictures to make it more interesting!  I hope you all have a fantastic day!!!! 

#thriveon

 

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.

The Detour

“I used to have all these plans and think ‘Ah, I have my whole life figured out’,

but then I realized no matter how much I plan: life happens!

So I find myself living day to day trying to do my best, 

embracing every moment as a learning opportunity

and chance to get to know myself a little more.”
– Q’orianka Kilcher

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I’m guessing that after reading the title of this post, most of you have figured out the direction this is going.  No, I’m not pregnant.  Yes, I am temporarily out of commission.  It’s kind of a bummer, but I was really ready for a break anyway.  Besides, another week and change and I’ll be back to running, swimming, and cycling (on the trainer at least…)

Let me start by saying that I DID NOT over do it at the REV3.  I one hundred percent went easy that day and did not push myself.  I may be a glutton for punishment, but I’m not stupid (ok, not most of the time… at least when it comes to injury prevention anyway).  I knew I was in new territory, so I raced according to my goal- which was simply to finish.  I went slow and enjoyed the experience.  When I crossed the finish, I still had plenty of juice left in my legs.  I felt strong and knew I could have covered more mileage if I had to.  This was not particularly surprising considering I had actually trained for a half.

It was a nice feeling to cross a finish not completely spent for a change.  I didn’t want to end up sick or dehydrated so I was careful to get plenty of calories and liquid out on the course.  In all honestly, it was probably the best I had ever felt at the completion of a race.  

The hubs and our friend (who both biked out to meet me) made it home well ahead of me due to the post race traffic and had already ordered lunch when I arrived.  I still felt great after eating and showering.  It wasn’t until a few hours later after dinner that I started to feel really crummy.  At first, I thought I was simply getting a migraine from being out in the sun all day.  I tried taking a nap, but woke up overwhelming nausea and epigastic pain.  All I could think was “This is not going to be good”.  I sent the hubs to get some zofran hoping I could avoid a trip to the emergency room, but taste of the tabs almost sent me running back to the bathroom all over again.  I decided that if this is what morning sickness is like then there’s probably a good reason I’m not pregnant yet.

When the pain and nausea had not improved an hour later I finally broke down and had the hubs bring me to the hospital.  I gave the surgical team a heads up that I was headed in and pretty sure my gallbladder would need to come out.  I did have luck on my side in that the surgeon oncall that night was one the best that I work with. (Thank God for small favors!) 

As it turned out, I was right.  My gallbladder was the culprit and needed to go.  This was no great shock to me.  However, I was struck by whatImage a coincidence it was that my gallbladder attack happened only hours after completing my first tri.  Here I had worked my butt off over 10 months and managed to make it through the whole race feeling strong before my symptoms started.  That was an epic #WIN in my book! What’s more, had I not downgraded to the Olympic course, I would have raced on Sunday instead and would have missed out all together!  

Obviously I considered this the universe at work in my favor as repayment for every ounce of good karma in my life.  Can you even imagine how devastated I would have been to have invested all that time and energy only to miss out on my big chance?  It’s just too depressing to even think about.  I am so beyond grateful for whatever triathlon guardian angel hooked me up on this one.  I am forever in your debt!  

As far as the surgery itself, it may strike you as funny, but I was less nervous in pre-op than I was gearing up for the race!  With the timing of how I got sick and who the surgeon was on call, I just felt like the universe was looking out for me and it was going to be okay.  I can’t even describe the sensation, but I was completely at ease.  There was not even a little part of me that was worried going in.  In fact, I felt incredibly lucky to not only know exactly what was going to happen, but all the staff taking care of me as well. 

It’s hard to be scared when you are surrounded by people who know you and care about your well being.  Every person (ok almost every, but the Emergency Room was legitimately getting slammed so I have to cut them some slack) was so kind and caring throughout my stay.  I really feel blessed to receive the care I did.

The only part I was disappointed about was that I missed volunteering at the REV3 half and my niece’s first birthday.  I guess life happens though.  All I can do at this point is be grateful for everything that went right and just roll with it.  Luckily, my sister was ok with throwing another party for my niece with just immediate family this weekend.  Plus, now that I won’t be able to race in the Griskus Olympic, I should be able to volunteer that course instead.  In terms of taking time off from training, I feel like I have been handling it pretty well.  For one thing, it’s given me a chance to catch up on other things I’ve been neglecting… like writing. 😉  It’s also given me an excuse to slow down for a change.

So that is my story about my slight detour on the path to 70.3… and eventually 140.6.  Luckily I still have my whole life to get there!

#KeepDreaming #ThriveOn

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.

 

What Will You Stand For?

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Hmmm, so yesterday was a pretty heated day for me.  How about all of you?  I think what actually bothered me more than all the hate, ignorance, and degrading comments on that page, is how many other people must have seen it and not said or done anything about it.  While I understand that sometimes standing up for what is right can be a rather sticky and unpleasant business, doesn’t it leave you feeling lighter than just standing by and witnessing a gross act of injustice?

Now I am by no means claiming to be perfect.  Anyone who reads this blog know better!  However, I am never going to be the type of person to not speak up (ever again!)  I spent far too long being too polite to stick up for myself, let alone other people.  It was something I needed to change to grow as a person, and it’s something our culture needs to change as well.

Unfortunately, I feel like the individuals of this society have been so conditioned to mind their own business and not get involved that even when something completely damaging and malicious is occurring right in front of them, they still don’t act.  

The misconception is that unless someone is degrading us personally, that it is really none of our business.  Well, I for one, would like to call bull$h*t on that point.  IT IS EVERYONE’S BUSINESS.  Let me explain why.  

Those people who were ganging up and publicly ridiculing a young girl were doing so in front of a lot of other people.  When there is no negative feedback, they just go on to assume that they aren’t doing anything wrong.  By doing nothing, you are essentially condoning their behavior- behavior that can only exist in a setting where it is condoned.  In other words, if someone had spoken up when the page first started, maybe it wouldn’t have ever gotten so far.  Better still, if someone had spoken up at the first derogatory comment uttered by any of the page organizers, maybe it never would have gotten to the point of being created.  

We currently live in a culture where people think it is totally okay to publicly degrade and sexualize women.  It’s in the media, music, all over the internet, and in everyday conversation.  We are so flooded with it, that no one seems to find it offensive anymore.  At what point does it become not okay?  At what point do you stand up and say something?  

It’s not a problem exclusive to women either.  It is a problem with society in general.  When did it become acceptable to insult and mistreat a person simply for not agreeing with them?  Why are we as a culture so callous toward one another?  How can we all want the world to be a better place, yet say nothing when someone makes a derogatory, racist, insensitive, or offensive comment?  We have lost our feedback loop.  

We have produced a society where individuals feel they can say and do whatever they please without fear of repercussion… and then we wonder why there is so much violence, hate, and lack of compassion.  It starts with the everyday conversations.  It starts with holding each other accountable.  It starts with getting comfortable with (politely) telling the people around you when they behave in a way that offends you.  It starts with you and me.     

The best way to make an impact in this world is to start with the small things and the people around you.  For example, I have a coworker who had a regular habit of referring to every person and situation that irritated him as a derogatory term for a woman or part of her anatomy.  After spending an entire 13 hour shift of pointing this out to him every time he did it (and equating it to me using a insulting term for male anatomy every time I was annoyed), he finally got the message.  He’s not a bad guy.  He just honestly had never thought about it.  Now he makes an effort not to use that kind of language (at the very least when he’s around me).  If each of us said something when we heard degrading comments (not just against women, but in general), then maybe just maybe we could make an impact.  I, for one, could live very happily if I made it through the rest of my days not ever again hearing the “N” word, “C” word, any other racial slur (for that matter) or another woman referred to as a b*t@h or hoe.  

I know it seems like a small thing, but that is how the ripple effect works.  Change the conversation and soon you’re changing the culture. 

I am not sure how many of you have seen the recent commencement speech given by Admiral McRaven, but I think he has some pretty sound advice that is applicable not only to the graduating class he was addressing.  Rather, I believe we all can use a reminder every now and then of how much power we have to change and shape the world we live in.  

In addition to all the eloquently stated tips he offers, I’d also like to add some of my own:

Be kind. Treat those around you with compassion. You never know when yours may be the only compassion another individual sees in a day or a lifetime.  You would be surprised what a long way a little caring and understanding can go in this world.  

Do what you can.  Don’t worry about it not being good enough.  It’s about the effort and intent.  So do what you can with what you have right now; and when you can do more, do more.

Lead by example.  There is a lot to be said for a life well lived, so live your life well and show others how to do the same.  Sometimes people just need an example.  You never know who you might be inspiring.

Use your voice.  So many people forget they even have a voice.  Speak up!  Don’t ever voluntarily give up your power.  Your voice can make a difference.  Use it wisely.

At the end of the day when your life is over, is it really going to matter how much is in your bank account or how impressive your resume was?  To me, it seems like the most important thing would be to have made a positive impact during my time here.  I’m not going to be the person to find a cure for cancer or win a Nobel Peace Prize, but at least I will know that I was kind to those I met along the way, did what I could to make the world a better place, tried my absolute best to lead a good life, and spoke up.  If in the process I manage to change the way even a few people think or act then that is just an #EPIC bonus.