Friday, September 30, 2011

What a long strange year its been

Hi didn't forget about this blog...and no, I didn't fall off the face of the earth. What I have been doing for the last few months has been an eye opener and hopefully will be life changing.

This was to be my Ironman year but shortly after my Gulf Coast Triathlon Half Ironman distance finish in May 2011, I started suffering from some hardcore fatigue. My muscles ached....all I wanted to do was sleep and my workouts were only getting part done.

On Memorial Day, I fell off a jetski with my friend at Lake Gaston NC. It wasn't a major fall, we just tipped the watercraft over but the next day, my right leg was dark black from a serious bruise. I knew then and there I needed to get my iron checked.

My iron levels were so low, I got an iron infusion just a few days later. This is when you get iron injections in your rump and they run an IV with iron direct into the veins. This brought my levels up...but they were still pretty low. I was healthy enough to start diving again....but training for an Ironman was once again on hold.

My doctors up at Duke made it simple: I had to stop my training at the Ironman distance. My knees were a mess, I was anemic and once again, they were battling the same issues with my thyroid. I have heard all this in the past with the same suggest: "Melissa, you have to lose weight".

My addictive side doesn't want to hear that you are going to take away all that food that brings me comfort. My competitive side just wants to push through it...and push forward...and attempt to complete my dream.

My doctor finally got through this time...and I mean he really did. He told me I was trying to "Race a Limo"...instead of a normal size vehicle. If I really wanted this dream, I HAD TO STOP...stop racing...and focus on weight loss. I cried for a few days. My coach was sympathetic without babying me...the perfect combination. I was allowed to train for Ironman 70.3 Augusta but it had to be using an elliptical and not running on the road and my other workouts were reduced. Suddenly...the drop in workout hours helped my body return to a normal iron level and let my joints rest. I finally felt like me again.

I competed in and completed Ironman Augusta 70.3 (that race report will be under a different blog entry) even though I was removed from the course in sight of the finish line due to a tornado watch and a lightning strike that started a building fire just 2 blocks from the finish line. I proud to inform you that I was not last...but I was definitely at the very back of the pack. If I had been allowed to finish, I would have beat the cut off by 25 minutes and I would have set a personal record.

This, however, is where my journey to Ironman must detour. I PROMISED my more Ironman until I lose 40lbs. He is ok with the shorter distance races but my body, with a gastric bypass, can not properly fuel itself when attempting the long distance course. This is why my iron drops, my joints ache (more than the typical athlete) and I put my health at risk. I took the plunge in doing the gastric bypass to MAKE myself healthy and, although the Ironman is my dream, I have to put the safety of my body first.

So...2 half ironmans, 3 half marathons, 3 olympic distance triathlon and one sprint distance triathlon year has been a full one....and a satisfying one. I have met incredible people on the Tri With Sway team that have really been a great support and I have learned a lot about my limits and abilities. I am proud of my work this year...and I refuse to step away from a life goal even if it means 2011 is not my Ironman year.

So..for can watch my blog as I return to Structure House in Durham NC to get a jumpstart on my weight loss, undergo knee surgery (we will see what the MRI says Monday), survive dental surgery and get 40 pounds I I can hear them say "Melissa are an Ironman".

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Checking in for a check up

What would you do if you KNEW you could not fail.....

Well...its been a few weeks if not months since I wrote here. I think the emergence of Facebook in my life has taken me away from this blog. Call me crazy...but I love keeping up with my friends, posting pictures and such....but...when I need to really work some things out on paper (or computer screen)...I always find my way back to my blog.

Its been hard for me to write these last few weeks. I have been focused on many different things including family, training, work, home and life in general. It's been a hectic life the last few weeks.

In husband lost his dearest Uncle...Monsignor Tom Daly. Not only was the Monsignor a significant role model in my husband's life, but he held a soft spot in my heart. He was an incredibly intelligent man with a passion for life and his faith. It was a blow to our family and he is missed. The weeks leading up to his departure from this earth were stressful...but it showed me how very fleeting life is and how we must do the things that are important to us ....

While in Boston with my husband's family, I had to adapt my training. Im not really use to running in the snow...or swimming with 2 feet of snow piled up next to the windows of the pool deck...but there I was...riding a indoor trainer, running on the treadmill...and adapting. Two weeks of my training was spent in a hotel pool and fitness center...the best I could do given the circumstances.

On the heels of our Uncles death came the Gulf Coast Triathlon. I usually write a whole race report on the major races in my year...and maybe I will for this one...but the long and short of it...I took 21 minutes off my time. A huge victory for me...but my times are still slower than what I need to complete the Ironman in 17 hours.

I still continue to struggle with weight but I am happy to report that I have been successful in maintaining my weight within 7 pounds since my major 30 pound loss last summer. Sure, I would love to be lighter....I would love to be leaner....but I consider the maintenance of a weight loss a success and I wish to continue the weight loss THIS summer.

In a few weeks, I will return to Structure House...a weight loss facilities that treats people with eating disorders in Durham NC. Ill be going back for 2 to 3 weeks. While I am there, I will continue to train...and hopefully continue this weight loss that I started last year.

As I write, I see so many positive things that have happened to me this year...this Ironman year...but after this last week of makes me wonder....will I ever be fast enough. Will I ever beat that cut off....will I make it to that "promise land" before the clock strikes midnight. I was walking by my fridge trying not to think about the snack I really don't need, I saw a magnet that I have had on their for years with the quote that started this blog entry....

What WOULD you do if you knew you would not fail?? Its simple. I would do what I am doing right now....I would be working on becoming and Ironman and being at the lowest weight I can to accomplish that goal.

So throw fear aside even this is eating me up inside...and go for your dreams. Somebody please tell me Im not crazy for having this dream. Five years ago, I had a trainer tell me I would never complete a half date I have completed why not this?? Why not the Ironman?? Why not now???

Sunday, March 20, 2011

You gotta own it...

It's the moments when no one is looking that makes you who you are. I am a firm believer in that. Everyone remembers the moment of crossing the finish line at Ironman...many are there to cheer and scream...but what A LOT of people don't understand is that, it isn't that moment that makes you an Ironman...its the times that people don't see that does.

I had a moment like that today...fighting the wind...cursing the air moving about me as I made it through my first LONG bike ride (50 miles) of this Ironman season. And when I say I CURSED...Im not lying. If you had pasted me on the road, you would have had me committed. The first 20 sweat. The next 10...well...I felt it...the last miles to the goal...they were Hell. My quads and hamstrings hurt and then it hit me...its been awhile since I went this far. Ive been enjoying those 20 to 25 mile bike workouts throughout 2010 that got me through Olympic Distance races. You lose fitness over time...and I have lost that endurance that I had in 2009...

But it doesn't mean I can't get it back..

So you got to own your gotta believe you can be better....and you gotta have the guts to reach down and continue when it hurts....and when no one is cheering you on..

Train Hard...Race Easy....and keep the vision of that Ironman finish in the forefront of your mind

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Princess Half Marathon and creating the new ME

Well...its been awhile...a little over two months...but Im happy to say that I haven't written here because Ive been busy...on the the water...and on my feet...

Ive been building ME...this is the Me that has doubted my ability to do Ironman. This is the ME that doubts herself A LOT. This is the ME that stands on a start line and thinks..."Do I listen to my head...or my heart."

I now listen to my heart a lot more.

I did the Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World with some of my dearest a breast cancer survivor doing her first half marathon..and others who have completed multiple half marathons...and my brother in law who has a talent to complete 13 miles in 90 minutes. I stood on that start line and thought...."just go with it Melissa...just have fun." As fate would have it, my GPS would not function and I could not focus on my pace. I had to run by feel...and it forces me to focus on something other than...the numbers.

By mile 10...I realized that if I pushed, I could have a PR...but my main goal is to do well at the Gulf Coast Triathlon in May. This race was about being able to enjoy the moment. So I took it easy. For the first time in all my Disney races, I took pictures with the characters and enjoyed the sights and sounds that are Disney. I know a lot of runners don't like Disney races but since I am a cast member, I am proud of my place of employment. As we entered mile 12 and Epcot, we entered the gate where I work at the Living Seas...and it hit me. My life is so different then 13 years ago. I am doing things and experiencing things that would never have been possible without comforting my eating disorder and making a change for the good.

As I crossed the finish line, I did the same thing I do every time...I pointed to heaven and reminded the world that I was in this place and this moment because God has a plan...and I may not understand it (especially when I miss the cut off at Ironman) but Im trying to follow along and learn what I need to learn. I waited in the finish area for my friend and new running fanatic, Martha Centeno, to finish. She crossed the line with lots of emotion...but can you blame her...look at what she has accomplished...fighting and beating cancer, losing 30 pounds and finishing her first half marathon. A big congrats to her.

So consider this my check in...Im doing great...Im staying focused...I determined to finish the Ironman in just a few months...but more importantly...Ill be the best ME as I stand on the beach in Panama City for one more crack at the beast!!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Mental Battle of Returning to Training

Please tell me I am not the only one that goes through this feeling.

4am...the alarm goes off...on my day off..


Do I really need to do this?? Can't I just go back to sleep?? I could do my training this afternoon couldn't I?? If I wait, I may not do it at all.

Sit up in bed. Lay back down. Then Im back up again. If I can just get my feet on the floor...then I know Ill be on my way.

On this day...I did get my feet on the floor but this is month 1 of 11 towards Ironman. I know its going to get harder. Right now, we are talking about base building workouts....these are simple compared to June and July and 5 hours on the bike.

Feet on the floor....and out the door. Damn it...Im gonna be an Ironman. I just need to battle that little voice in my head telling me I can't. I can. I will. This is my dream.

Tell me...does any one else go through this???

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The New Hope..The New Opportunity..The promise of a New Year

January 1, 2011...

For many, today is a day of resolutions that will go in one year and out the other. This isn't my first year full of hope and dreams of an Ironman finish but this IS the year that it will be done.

As I ran my first workout of my Ironman year, I was full of hope and happiness. A fresh slate gives you perspective and a feeling of endless possibilities. It gives you the feeling that you CAN write down those impossible goals .. and achieve them. It is an amazing emotion.

I want this year to be like no other. I want to be focused...consistant...NOT PERFECT. No one's training is perfect, not even the professionals...but I have this feeling about this year that I haven't had in the past. Call it a hunger. Call it passion. Call it what you wish....Ill just chalk it up to hope and belief in my Ironman dream.

I start my year with a new coach. This might come as a shock to some because, if you know me well, you know I am a very loyal individual. Switching coaches came with much thought and a lot of heartache but I knew it had to be done. My former coach, Hector Torres, has become an incredible Elite coach and his clients are out there taking podiums and going to Kona. I felt a little overwhelmed by the people training with Hector and this was affecting my ability to train. Please don't misunderstand....every single person on the Central Florida Tri Club was kind and supportive of my efforts. These feelings of not belonging in the group came from me and I knew it was time to move to a different coach. Hector will forever be known as the coach that got me through my Half Ironmans and improved my biking time by more than 40 minutes. Hector took me from being afraid of being aggressive on the bike to loving the speed and the handling. I am so honored to have been a part of his program.

I start 2011 with Consuela "Sway" Lively and her "Tri with Sway" coaching program in hopes she will bring me to my first Ironman finish. She has an incredible resume including participating in the ITU World Championships, finishing in the top 6% of her Ironman races and completing an Ultraman (wanna really be overwhelmed...go look up what an Ultraman includes!!). She is a kind, sweet spirit with lots of experience to share. I am looking forward to 2011 and working with those involved with her group.

So here we are...its put up or shut up time. Ive talked a lot about Ironman its time to put in the work.

Ill see you on the road....

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My 12 days of Christmas...

All I want for Christmas is..

12 months of swimming, biking and running

11 months of injury free training before my Ironman

10 .. a Perfect 10 scoring Ironman

9 .. The number of 20 mile runs I would like to accomplish this training season

8 .. That I stop worrying about what I "ate"..

7 .. The number of kids with Leukemia or who have lost their battle that I will be racing for this season

6 .. The number of adults with Leukemia or who have lost their battle that I will be racing for this season

5 .. The number of major races I will complete in 2011

4 .. Always remember what I am racing "for" ... a cure for cancer...the realization of a dream

3 .. The number disciplines that must be mastered to complete the Ironman ( there are really 5 if you count nutrition and transitions...but work with me here)

2 .. To have the guts, physical stamina, mental toughness and training TO get TO the finish line

1 .. To achieve this ONE goal...this ONE dream....

Dear Santa..

Ive been a really good triathlete this year. I have lost 30 pounds and kept it off. I have been a polite and sportsman like triathlete on the road and in my racing. I listened to my surgeon and didn't race to much on my bum knee. I went home with hardware in 4 of my 5 short races this season ( I may not have had a lot of people in my classification...but its still cool to go home with a 1st place in 3 of the 5 races).

All and all a damn good year full of family time, a wee bit of racing, fun, happiness, disappointment and joy. What more could you ask for??

What more could you ask for?? is my hope that your year in 2011 is full of joy, happiness, safe training, be free of injury, weight maintenance or weight loss (if that applies to you) but most importantly...that you achieve whatever goal you have set.

As for me...Ironman baby...

See you on the road...

Merry Christmas