Friday, June 27, 2014

Song for the Week

I've heard this song a lot on the radio.  I remember thinking it was a catchy tune and if asked, I would have said "yes!  I like that song!"  But honestly, I don't think I really heard it until today.

One day, about four or so years ago, I woke up. I woke up from a surreal world, a life that I don't think was ever really mine.  It was a life that someone else wanted me to live. It was like I was in one of those dreams where you know you're sleeping but you just can't wake yourself up.  Where you know something isn't right but you're too scared to open your eyes. I'm not proud that I allowed it to happen, but it is what it is.  Thankfully one day I did wake up; and even though it's a little scary, I'm not scared anymore.  I'm ready to start living the life I was meant to.

Now...I can't say that I'm ready to strip off all my clothes and run in the forest....
but all I want to do now are the things the old sleepy me wouldn't dare to do; and I want to always laugh and sing, to see the stars and dream, to have choices and happiness, to love without fear, for however long it lasts.  I just want to be.

Scare away the Dark
Passenger, Whispers (2014)
lyrics found below

well sing
sing at the top of your voice
and love without fear in your heart
feel, feel like you still have a choice
if we all light up we can scare away the dark

we wish our weekdays away
spend our weekends in bed
we drink ourselves stupid
and work ourselves dead
and all just because
that's what mum and dad said we should do
but we should run through the forests
we should swim in the streams
we should laugh we should cry
we should love we should dream
we should stare at the stars
and not just at screens
you should hear what i'm saying
and know what it means to sing

sing at the top of your voice
and love without fear in your heart
feel, feel like you still have a choice
if we all light up we can scare away the dark

well we wish we were happier, thinner and fitter
we wish we weren't losers and liars and quitters
we want something more not just nasty and bitter
we want something real not just hashtags and twitter
it's the meaning of life and it's streamed live on youtube
but i bet gangnam style would still get more views
and we're scared of drowning and flyers and shooters
but we're all slowly dying in front of computers so sing

sing at the top of your voice now
oh and love without fear in your heart
can you feel, feel like you still have a choice
if we all light up we can scare away the dark

oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh

well sing
sing at the top of your voice
and love without fear in your heart
feel, feel like you still have a choice
if we all light up we can scare away the dark

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Words for Wednesday

Everything is hard before it is easy.

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
German literary figure

Except when you're running in 200% humidity at 5am in the morning, then everything easy is hard....

- Me

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Adventures with Thelma: Ironman 70.3 Eagleman 2014

I don't even know what to recap.  The race?  The weekend?  The experience?  The journey?  Because for those that know me, this was way more than just a race; way more than just an endurance event.  Last weekend, I experienced the most amazing thing of my entire life and was able to do so with some of my closest friends and family; the same people that watched me claw my way to where I am now.

I guess I will just start writing and we'll see where it all goes. It'll be like our own little literary adventure.  Kinda like The Hobbit, but not really.

The Drive:
Long.  Holy crap was it long.  Mr. van Voo and I hopped in the Silver Bullet for a 7.5 hour trip that turned into 10 freaking hours. #I95blows  There may or may not have been goofy pictures and dance videos made, but we will neither confirm nor deny.  There was a whole lotta crazy, whole lotta laughs and even some serious convos.  A trip like this will either make or break a friendship.  I have to say that I think we made it and did some serious bonding over Diet Cokes, Snickers bites and Combos. #lunchofchampions #dontjudge

Pre-Race Day Activities:
Friday night was basically a let's-just-find-something-to-eat-and-pass-out night after that car ride.
Thelma was so sad I had
to leave her and had to spend
the night outside...
Saturday was to be a busy day and found Mr. V, Mr. and Mrs. Honey Badger (Ashley & Lori  aka Coach Lolo!) and me up early as each of us had a small workout to get done to shake out the cobwebs from the car ride the day before. Then, it was off to Athlete Check-in and the "mandatory" meeting (that only I went to, and yes, I was the dork in the corner taking notes) to pick up our numbers, chips and all the Ironman gear we could, in good conscience (no finisher gear...don't want to jinx it!), buy.  Then it was off to the race site to check our steeds into transition and do some recon.

Parts of my two families!
One day may they all meet...
This brings us to early afternoon when the rest of our tri-crew, Jo and Marc, made their way to town as well as my brother and his family that made the trip down from Upstate NY to cheer us on (how freaking awesome is that????!!!!!).  We all needed a couple hours of down time to relax and start getting ready for race day.  It was quite a sight, really....Three triathletes in one room with all gear and every piece of nutrition laid out on two beds and the floor.  What's a little unbelievable?  I forgot to take a picture.....

I met Mr. V, Marc and Jo in the lobby to head into town to have our early pre-race dinner with the fam.  We had a lot of laughs, lots of "commentary" and good pasta!  With full bellies, we gave our last hugs and said our goodbyes and good luck wishes as my fam wouldn't see us again before the start.

Race Day:
Both my roomies and I were all sleeping FABULOUSLY until some ninny erroneously (or thought it would be hysterical) scheduled a 3:45am wake up call.  DARN YOU MAN.  YOU SHORTED ME 15 MINUTES OF BLISS!  But I'm not bitter.  Really.
We headed down for a quick bite before all the other athletes in the hotel descended upon the continental spread of English muffins, oatmeal and all the peanut butter in the state of Maryland.  Time to get dressed and head to the start.
HOPE!  Wake up!
You can't get that 15 minutes back!
Days leading up to the event, everyone including the race directors, believed that there was no doubt this would be a wetsuit legal swim (temp 76.1 and lower).  Just goes to show you anything can happen on race day.  Upon our arrival, Mr V and I heard the water temperature announcement.  76.5.  Well dammit.  I handled the news quite well, surprisingly.  You see, I tend to worry.  A lot.  I don't know who I was that day, but I never felt calmer.  I took everything in, processed it and moved on without incident.  Goal = met.

Since we had about an hour before our swim wave started, Lori and I had LOTS of time to take silly pictures; there is a fantastic one of Coach Lolo, but I don't think the world is quite ready for that one yet....

No jelly fish!!!
I'm not a fast swimmer.  I'm not a strong swimmer.  If you're a regular reader, you know I'm prone to panic attacks. I kept it together, kept my head down and just found my rhythm.  I probably had the most fun on that swim than I have ever had in the open water.  I've been working really hard on my open water swimming, hopping in the lake at each opportunity and taking classes when I could, and I believe it paid off.  (Thank you Upgrade Lifestyle and Richard Allen Fitness!)
time 47:23 (goal 45:00) 

T1: calm, quick and efficient.  Sunscreen was a MUST!
time 3:12  (goal 5:00)

Instant Bad Ass
Thanks James!!

SO MUCH FUN.  That course was flat, fast and beautiful.  And seeing a line of 40+ cyclists making a amazing sight and I'm amazed that I was part of it.  I built into a good sustainable effort, even pulling out a 20 mph mile here and there!  Having my nutrition plan drilled into my brain, and my watch alert set for every 15 minutes, took the nutrition guessing game out of the ride and really allowed me to focus on my effort level and pay close attention to how my body was feeling.  One thing I wasn't really aware of and wasn't able to practice before was taking water at aid stations while in motion on two wheels.  I'm proud to report that I picked up water at 2 stations in motion like a CHAMP!
time  3:19:26 - 16.85mph (goal  3:23:38 - 16.5mph)

Coming into T2 I (heard first!) saw my family and what else could I do but run down the chute giving high 5s to all!  As soon as I hit transition, I took off my shoes and ran to my area.  After a quick pat down with my towel and quick reapplication of sunscreen, I put on running shoes, grabbed my watch face, gel flask and race number and I was off and running...literally!  *note to self.  Do not leave gel flasks in direct sunlight.  Hot gel tastes nasty.  Also, heat melts Body Glide and it is very messy stuff when it turns to liquid....
time  3:07  (goal 5:00)

No biggie...just thought
I'd wake up and do
70.3 today
a HOT out and back route with NO shade and NO breeze.   So, we just baked.  It was an ugly course too, so you really had to block it all out and just go.  I have been hitting overall 8:45s in my interval training sessions quite comfortably and quite consistently, so I thought 9 minute miles were not out of the realm of possibility.  9s would still bring me under a 2hr half marathon, not a PR but still under 2 where I like to keep it.  It was pretty evident after the first two miles that it wasn't going to happen that day.  So, I had to make a new plan and fast.  Given the heat and the sun, I promised myself that I could walk, but ONLY through the aid stations to take water, electrolytes and sponges to cool down. It worked like a charm.  When I ran, I ran well.  I cooled off as best I could at the aid stations and then quickly got back to work.  Not my best run by far, but it was the best run I could have had on that day.  I also loved seeing all my people on the course.  I saw the Honey Badger coming in to finish as I was just starting my run, then Coach Lolo, Mr. van Voo and Marc and Jo.  I got so excited I shrieked their names, cheering them on as they flew by!  I can't say we all looked happy, because, well, we were running in direct sun for 2 hours with no shade and we really all just wanted to be done and eat fried pickles (wait...that might have just been me) but I can say we all looked strong!  I somehow ended up with a very consistent run, 1:03:06 at the halfway point, 1:03:30 to the finish.

After the turn-around point, I think the magnitude of what I was doing finally hit me when a voice of a friend, the one in the orange hat that I said was mean, entered into my head:  "There is no way you're not going to finish this." He was right. Then, the eerie calm that enveloped me the week before the race and even during that day disappeared and was replaced by a rush of thoughts and a wave of emotion.  

time  2:06:36  (goal 1:58:48)

Coming through that finish chute.  Wow.  Then I saw my big brother and Mr. van Voo... Well folks, this is where I get girly.  I almost lost it right then.  I choked backed some tears, composed myself to cross the
finish line and savored every second.  I kept it together pretty well until my sis-in-law, niece and nephew got me at the finish area.  Well, you can see what happened....

I've heard time and time again that in these types of events, your nutrition can make or break you and ultimately it all comes down to the run.
I am now a true believer, and if anyone tries tell you different, YES, the swim DOES matter!  :)
time  6:19:44  (1st goal 6:17:26  man-it-would-be-awesome-if goal  6:10:00)

I can't say it enough
And as I write, I'm starting to get that same rush of thoughts and wave of emotion.  Five years ago, I was at least 180 pounds and I couldn't walk a mile let alone run one.  Two years ago I ran my first half and full marathon.  Last year I did my first triathlon and ran my second marathon, while at the same time I was moving back out on my own, living alone and finding my own way.  Last weekend I finished a Half Ironman.  Who would have thunk it??

The physical transformation has been amazing, yes.  But what this journey has done for me emotionally, mentally and spiritually is so much more.  I reclaimed my happiness, my strength and confidence; things that I somehow allowed myself to lose along the way.  I was lucky to find an unbelievably fantastic circle of close friends.  I found something that I absolutely love to do.
not to mention the freaking awesome tan I have right now....

I know this is long, and I'm sorry 'bout that...but there was a lot to say about this one; and there is still so much I want to say if you can believe it.  So I will just say this:  I wouldn't have had the most amazing day that I did without my family and these people right here.

Best Buds!
Me and one of the most amazing
women I know rocking out our
first HIM

Triple Threat!

Feel free.  Be strong.
Be your own kind of awesome.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Words for Wednesday

I chose a path and embarked upon a journey that only I could take; 
and I've never been more proud of myself than I am at this moment.  

What a ride.

- Me

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Well, it's back to reality.....

....but what you did was real.

My brother said that to me last night when talked, after we all made it back to our homes safe and sound from an epic few days.  Nothing more appropriate could have been said to me than that.

There is SO much to say, so much to show!  A recap will happen but the thoughts and pictures need to be sorted through first.

I just wanted to jot a fast post to say it was a fantastic weekend, give a quick shout out to my family and to tell you all just how awesome they are, and to once more marvel at how lucky I am to have the circle friends that I do.

I would not have made it without them.  No doubt.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Adventures with Thelma: Episode 6

I was just reminded of what a lucky girl I am to be surrounded by such amazing, kind-hearted and wonderful people.  I've been so focused on keeping things calm and relaxed that I haven't been able to get excited about what's about to happen.  Until now.

I have received many "good luck" wishes and gestures but I don't think they all quite registered until just this moment; and I truly am overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement!

Tomorrow I will hop in a car to travel with one of my closest friends and training partner, meet up with 4 more of my closest friends and some of my family that are able to make the trip, to an unknown land of wind, heat and maybe jellyfish to complete the final leg of this 70.3 adventure.

It took a village to get me here, no doubt!  And though I know I will have to take the final steps on my own, everyone will be there to finish with me.

Coach Sarah, "Coach Lolo" and I have come up with some reasonable times to shoot for, but because I perform better without getting all caught up in the pressure of time goals, so I will keep those to myself if that's alright.

Right now, I want to focus on these goals I have made for myself:

- Relax and get as much rest/sleep as possible.
- Eat clean and hydrate well.
- Enjoy the atmosphere, allow myself to feel the excitement...after all, you only experience your first Ironman    event once!

- Stay calm and swim on (I know, I overdone right now, but dammit if it's not perfectly applicable).
- Don't get into the chaos of the massive swim start.
- Go off easy and find my rhythm.
- Site often.
- Things (or people) will touch me, people (or things) will swim over me.  Ignore all of it and keep my head down and keep moving forward.
- I may be slow, but get me into an easy consistent stroke and I can swim all day.  Use this to my advantage and come out of the Choptank primed for a great bike segment.

- Stay relaxed, keep heart rate down.
- Don't rush, but be efficient.

- Ease into it.
- Get into a good, comfortable and sustainable effort. Work it, but don't push it.  Blow out the bike and you blow up on the run.
- Remember to EAT and DRINK!  I have a good fuel plan in place, I want to be sure to follow it.
- All this will set me up nicely for the 3rd segment.

- Get heart rate down.
- Grab watch head off the bike!

- Start out EASY. Starting off too quickly will break me.
- Take the first 3 miles easy, settle into a good comfortable pace miles 4-9, then try to pick it up for the final 3.
- Again, fueling and hydration is key to a good run.
- Give it all I got.
- Finish this journey with no regrets.

I guess that just about covers it.  From now until then I will be packing and prepping.  So, this is me.
Signing off until after Sunday.

Feel free. Be strong.
Be your own kind of awesome.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Words for Wednesday: BOGO

We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.

- Kenji Miyazawa
Japanese poet and author 
of children's literature

If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.

- Lenny Krayzelburg
swimmer and 4-time 
Olympic gold medalist

It's game time.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

I like hugs....

And when I got out of the lake this past Saturday, I got a HUGE hug when I found this waiting for me on my car...

from one of the sweetest most thoughtful
human beings I know.

Jack.  How did you know I needed that???

Thank you for one of the best surprises ever!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

T - Minus 7

Here I am.
10:45pm and I'm at the computer.  Thinking.
Reflecting on my last training weekend before my 1st attempt at a 70.3.

I had some successes.  I had some set backs.

A lot can happen in a weekend.  Hell.  A lot can happen in a blink of an eye.

But, in summary, this is what I learned from this weekend of training that can apply to almost every aspect of your life.

Boom.  That just happened.
I just got all philosophical on your ass.

  • make sure you eat.  food is fuel.
  • water is your friend, whether drinking it or swimming in it.
  • in high school, my friends always said that they knew that when I got quiet was when folks needed to watch out.  I have a fuse that burns pretty long, but when it burns out to watch out.  Just like my daddy.  Well folks, I'm starting to get quiet...
  • Life is too damn short.  Do what makes you feel good.  If you want to run, run.  If you want to laugh, laugh.  If you want to kiss someone, than do it.  you never know what tomorrow will bring.
  • falling hurts, so stop doing it.  (especially when in the road and cars are coming.)
  • just breath, keep your head down and keep moving forward.
  • nothing is worth doing unless you're enjoying it and having fun.
  • If something or someone makes you feel bad.  Stop doing/interacting.  2nd hand toxicity is a common symptom of self destruction.  (Yes, I completely just made that up but it sounds pretty accurate)
  • The lifestyle you lead is the attitude you embrace.


7 days.

I won't be the fastest
I won't be coolest

What I will be is my own kind of awesome.

Feel Free.  Be Strong.   Be Me.
and that my friends, is all I can really do.

Now go, and be your own awesome.