Friday, December 26, 2008

So Many Blessings....

This has been a unique Christmas for me. Its not the first Christmas that I have been without my husband as he flies other families to their Christmas celebrations BUT it is the first Christmas that I have worked on Christmas Day. I decided to volunteer for a shift at Disney so some other Divemaster who had family in town could enjoy their holiday. My family and I spent the morning together, had lunch then it was off to work.

I grumbled a little. I grumbled about traffic around the park. I grumbled about how stupid I thought it was that Disney is actually OPEN on Christmas Day (it wasn't until the reign of Michael Eisner as CEO that we opened the park on Christmas). I grumbled about not being able to put my feet up and watch some sports it football or basketball or golf while I digested a huge Christmas meal....grumble grumble grumble.

How stupid and selfish am I?? I got into work and everyone was so upbeat. Sure, they all wanted to get the job done and get home but not a single person was truly negative. Our dive groups were fun, happy people that REALLY appreciated the fact that we worked on Christmas. We wore Santa hats. We wished people in the observation deck Happy Holidays. We worked our butts off but we had a ball.

Its amazing how things can be so different if you just address them with a positive attitude.

So goes it with the rest of my life. Business is a little slower than last year (not surprising with the economy) but we are still blessed with some regular clients who continue to attend. I am not an Ironman but I have been blessed with the experience of being the Ford Everyday Hero and knowing what the start, swim, T1 and some of the bike is like for an Ironman. Christmas was a little lighter all the way around but my friends and I had a ball with a Chinese Christmas exchange...probably more fun than if we had spent alot of gifts for everyone. And my amazing husband ... that incredible man of mine kept me guessing and surprised for the holiday even when he wasn't here.

We are sooooo blessed...and its all a matter of perspective.

As we enter 2009, my goal and my dream is to keep it all in perspective. The beginning of a new year brings such hope...such excitement. I want that hope and excitement and belief to carry on throughout the year. I want to keep in mind that each day is a gift so precious that it should never be wasted.

This is my year...and I know it will be yours too!! To all my friends, to the people that I have never met face to face that pay me the ultimate compliment by reading my words and to all those who I hope to meet and learn from in 2009...

Sunday, December 21, 2008


"Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway...."
-John Wayne

I was walking out of a store today (finishing the last of my Christmas Shopping) and had my mind on the upcoming races of the year. I am terrified about doing the Half Marathon at Disney in January (I haven't been training but I just wanna give this a shot) and as I walked out the door...there was that quote..on the back of a guy's pickup truck. It struck me so that I just stood there and read it over three times.

Have you ever thought that the big guy upstairs was trying to get your attention? Today, I felt like I got a good slap in the tush to remind me that anything is possible if you believe. Just gotta keep believing, keep dreaming and keep training!!

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas came early and I am SOOOO EXCITED!!

OH MY GOODNESS!!! I can hardly contain myself!!! I LOVE SANTA!! SANTA...YOU'RE THE MAN!! SANTA...You're the man who is going to make my swim a whole lot faster in 2009!!!

Im getting a Fastlane Swim Machine installed in my pool!! I don't know how I truly explain what exactly this is if you have never seen one. If you're a serious triathlete, you have probably seen the ads for this product. If you have been to an Ironman race, you have actually SEEN one demonstrated onsite. The machine creates a current that you swim against to give you one great swim workout without having to do laps upon laps in a pool. I can literally jump out of bed, throw on a suit and hit the pool in the morning for my workout!! YEEEEEEAAAHHH!!

I had seen this demonstrated at the St. Anthony's Triathlon and my husband put a deposit on one for my anniversary gift. With the economy the way it has been, we haven't been able to pay for the rest of the unit. My husband has been stashing money away since April so that he could do this for Christmas. Wow!! Is he amazing or what??? I am so blessed!!

Isn't it weird?? I use to get excited about clothes, makeup and jewelry (ok..I still get excited about jewelry) for all I want is workout equipment!! :) **giggle** I can hardly wait for its installation!!!

HO HO HO!!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Another installment of "As the Stomach Shrinks"

Did Melissa survive dinner with her friends and their Chinese Gift Exchange (My husband ended up with a "yodeling pickle" as a kidding)??????

Has Melissa logged in her food as her beloved nutritionist has asked her to??

Has Melissa survived the Christmas rush with a weight LOSS ???

Actually...the answer to all these questions is...shockingly...YES!!

My weigh in this morning revealed another pound lost!! we are at 4.5 pounds lost. Definitely not moving fast but my workouts have decreased DRAMATICALLY (almost non- existant) and...well...ITS THE HOLIDAYS!! Ill take a small loss over ANY gain anytime!!

I have enlisted the help of my sports nutritionist as I try to lose weight so I go to Weight Watchers for the support (and let them weigh me) but also see my nutritionist who is helping me with some of my eating ISSUES!!

...and the story continue....tune in next week for the next installment of this Saga :)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ironman Burnout

Sometimes its hard to admit that your body and mind are screaming for a break. Now six weeks post Ironman, I have been having a difficult time focusing on my workouts. I have been skipping out on my workout plan and when I do get out there to get it done, my heart doesn't seem to be in it.

Hector and I discussed my issues and determined that after 11 months of training, Im a bit burned out. So on Tuesday morning we decided to give me a few weeks off. When I walked out of his workout studio, I felt...well...lost. I cried and wondered "Holy what??" Training has been such a big part of my life...what will I do??

I thought my mind and body were screaming for rest. On Wednesday night after working at Disney, I slept for 12 hours. On Saturday, I had another 12 hour night sleep. I NEVER sleep this much. I usually get 4 to 5 hours a night at the max and move on with my day. I still wake up at 430am thinking I have to be up for a long run or ride...but I pushing myself back to sleep.

Its Sunday...just 5 days since Hector and I decided to give me a rest and you know what Im thinking...WORKOUTS!!! Im starting to WANT to be on the road or in the pool. We thought I would take a break until Feb 1. Now I think it might be just January 1. I crazy?? Feel free to comment it you dare...hahahahahahahah!!!

Ironman vs. Triathlete...BIG DIFFERENCE

Last night was my brother's 50th birthday party (man, are we getting old) and I saw people at this party I haven't seen in years. My parents, not knowing any better, went around telling everyone I was an "ironman"...which I immediately corrected "Im a triathlete...Im not an Ironman....yet." I would say. They would ask "What's the difference?"


When you tell people you do triathlon, they immediately think the HAWAII Ironman..especially today since the coverage was on NBC. When you tell them that there are Ironman races all over the world, the typically response is :" long was YOURS?

The other responses I would get are: "I can't walk around the block without getting tired" or "How do you DO THAT??" "Why do you do that??" "How in the world did you ever get involved in such insanity??" "My idea of a marathon is drinking all the beer brands at the bar?? "Isn't that exhausting?"

Shall I go on?? Nahhh you get the picture.

I left the party last night and realized something for the first time in a very very very long time. What we do as triathletes and athletes in general is so foreign to the rest of the world. It is so much easier to just float through life sitting on the couch with the remote in your hand! It is CERTAINLY much easier to sit in front of the tube and WATCH the Ironman than make the commitment to BE one. I am so lucky to have the opportunity to achieve this goal.

Life is too damn short to sit on the couch....

Friday, December 12, 2008

That one little line...


In a sea of other entries, there is my name. I am entered for Ironman Florida 2009.

Its true!! I got up at 400am on November 2nd, 2008 and waited in line with my friends to sign up for Ironman Florida. Upon entering the registration tent, the kind people from North America Sports told me I didn't have to wait in line. I had an automatic entry into the race of my choice for next year since I was the Ford Everyday Hero. Im glad I got up and waited in line with Beth, Hector and Rick and enjoyed that special moment with them...and I left the tent without registering.

The participant list came out a few weeks later..and my name was not on the list!! GASP!! Should I have signed up?? Did I screw up and they gave me the wrong information.? I wrote to North American Sports and asked. They sent me a registration form which I immediately filled out and sent back. That was Monday. Today, my name is on the list!!! WHEW!! Its good to be in the group!!

Ahhhh now the fun begins!!! Bring on the 6 hour bike rides, open water Lucky's Lake Swims and 15 mile runs!! Well...not yet...maybe on January 1???

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Introducing a new special part of my life...

It never ceases to amazing me how the big guy upstairs can show you how blessed you are. Since November and my DNF at Ironman, Ive been a bit disappointed in myself. Sometimes its difficult when we focus all our thought and energy on our failures and stop looking at the possibilities that exist in our lives. God changed that around for me three weeks after Ironman.

In 1966, I was just 3 years old. My father, Judge D. Arthur Yergey was serving his community in Orlando's Orange County Juvenile Court. He had a vision. He saw a need for a residentail facility for young boys who had exhibited negative social behavior due to their family circumstances but had not turned that behavior into a life of crime. The goal was simple: give these boys a safe environment where you could rehabilitate them and show them a positive path in the world.

That was 42 years ago. What started as Edgewood Boy's Ranch is now operating as Edgewood Children's Ranch and it continues to do the work that my father invisioned. On Tuesday afternoon, under beautiful skies, my father and all of my family gathered at the Ranch along with 75 current resident children and staff to dedicate the new onsite school. The schoolhouse, which use to be known as the Jefferson Learning Center is now double the size, upgraded with brand new classrooms, desks, computers and restrooms and is called the Judge Yergey Learning Center. It was awesome to stand there in a place that is so incredibly special to my see his picture on the wall and watch these children come up and give him a hug. Many told him and my family how they now have their own desk and that they don't have to share supplies. Several told me how thrilled they were that the water fountains that worked and that each classroom had its own restroom. One little boy told me that he liked the smell of new carpet and that he now loved coming to school just to be in a "new clean place".

The things we take for granted are so special to so many. This Ranch is a very special place where they have over a 90% rehab rate with many "ranchers" returning to the facility in their 20's and 30's to be cottage parents or teachers on the site. My father has built quite a legacy...which I intend to help continue.

On Wednesday, I was recommended to be part of the Board of Directors of the Ranch. I couldn't be more humbled and honored. One of the board members was so excited because she heard I was an Ironman. I immediately corrected her but told her I was working on that. She KNEW I could help her organize a 5k run to raise funds for the now I REALLY have my hands full....

Fundraising for the Leukemia Society, Board participation with the Edgewood Ranch, running a fitness business, working for Walt Disney World, taking care of my amazing husband...and Ironman training. I really need sleep to survive???

As I receive the pictures from the event, Ill post them here :)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Janus Charity Challenge

This is what I call putting my money where my mouth is!!

The Janus Charity Challenge is for athletes participating in Ironman events throughout the world that want to raise money for their favorite charity. After 12 months of training and not doing any work for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, I was excited to find this avenue where I can train for the most grueling race AND help to find a cure for cancer.

I have some high expectations. I have set my fundraising goal at 25,000.00 before November 2009. I am planning on having a gala event, a BBQ, several garage sales and car washes and quite a number of Ebay Auctions with items donated by some dear friends.

The most exciting part? If I am the top fundraiser at Ironman Florida, Janus will donate an extra $10,000.00 to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society!!! Can you imagine!!?? That would be $35,000.00 towards research!! AWESOME!!!

Please visit my fundraising page at:

Whatever you can donate...from $1.00 and beyond is so appreciated!! Thank you for checking it out!!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

We got Mom home..and then my own fun began ....

And almost back to normal. She told me she needed to go get her hair done today...and I informed her she was staying in bed and sleeping. My mother and I are the same genetics..she doesn't like being told to stay still!!!

With my mom's experience and some of the issues that were a little overwhelming, I called Hector today and asked for a couple of days off. I really need a break. He was incredibly kind. He KNOWS how bad I want to run the OUC Half Marathon this weekend but family obligations (my Mom and the fact my husband comes home for the first time in 8 days) makes it difficult to see the race as a priority.

I also think its important for women to make sure they take care of themselves. Cancer runs in my family so I am very vigilant about check ups such as OB/GYN and Mammograms. I had my mammogram about 10 days ago. You go in, they squeeze two private parts until they look like something at a Sunday Morning Pancake Fundraiser and you go big deal..

Until you get the letter that says YOURS was abnormal and they want to take another look.

Last night, as I returned home from taking care of my Dad, I opened the mail to find this letter. I didn't panic. This has happened before. Im a big girl and I have AMPLE bust line. The density of this bust line sometimes makes it difficult to read my scan.

I called the Radiology Group that did my scan so I could reschedule. I told the scheduler the issues with my Mom and she made it her crusade to get me scheduled as soon as possible. As it turned out, it was TODAY at 3pm.

My doctor is awesome. She knows I worry about this stuff because alot of people in my family have lost their lives to cancer including this type. They had someone review the scan but he was not sure so he called in another doctor. That physician called me at 545pm and told me...I was abnormalities..BUT he wants me back in 90 days for a follow up scan.

These are the moments that you sigh with relief and you thank the man upstairs for his grace. These are the moments I understand why you don't waste a single day of the great life you are given!! Thats why my push to raise money for Cancer Research is so strong. I guess the Manifesto of the Lance Armstrong Foundation kinda sums up what drives me in the fight against this disease:

We believe in life.
Your life.
We believe in living every minute of it
With every ounce of your being
And that you must not let Cancer take control of it
We believe in energy:
Channeled and Fierce
We believe in focus:
Getting smart and living strong
Unity is Stength
Knowledge is Power
Attitude is Everything.
This is the credo of the Lance Armstrong Foundation

....and this is the way I live my life.....


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

You know you have been to the ER too much when...

**The doctors and nurses know you by name
**Its Wednesday-that means they have GOOD vegetable soup in the Cafeteria...and you know this by heart.
**The Valet Parking Guy at the front of the hospital doesn't charge you for parking

and the greatest indicator that you spend too much time at the ER..

When several of the nurses say you should get a job here...

Hmmmm An interesting day. I did a few organizational things for my boot camp this morning but I didn't sleep well so I headed back to bed at 7am to get 1 or 2 more hours of sleep. I got up at 9am, worked around the house and then headed out for some errands.

I was about 5 minutes from my house when my phone rang. My brother, the attorney, had that very scary calmness in his voice " don't be upset...but...Mom is in the Emergency Room" Don't be upset?? What?? Trying and succeeding to be the calm big brother, David explained to me that my mother had had an allergic reaction to some blood pressure medication and was in serious condition. They were taking her by ambulance to the hospital just a few minutes from me and could I meet my Dad at the ER.

I made the most illegal U Turn of my life and headed for the hospital. Jumped out of my car...and the valet (who has gotten to know me over the last few months)...threw me my ticket and I was in the door of the ER. I walked up to the desk and before you knew it, I was at my Mom's side.

...and to say she was serious was an understatement. Her heart had stopped during the ride over (I found that out at 630pm tonight) she was having trouble breathing to the point they had strapped a O2 demand mask to her face and her resting heart rate when I walked in was 137. She couldn't speak, she couldn't move and for the first time in my life, I saw serious fear in my father's face. The last time he said he was that scared was when my mother almost bled to death when she lost my baby sister at delivery.

I am thrilled to report that she is stable now. She will probably go home on Friday.

They are in the process of flushing her system of this blood pressure medication that made her so ill. As for me...I am making my dad dinner...and then I am headed to bed so I can get up early for a visit in the morning!!

Thanks for listening..and your always..are appreciated!!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Weekly Weigh In Report

Well I survived the holiday....I didn't lose any weight but I didn't gain any either!! I am still at a 3.5 lb loss. Not particularly thrilled with that but it is difficult to lose weight during the holidays!!

I am suppose to run the OUC Half Marathon this weekend but I am not sure if I will be able to. My husband has been gone for almost a week and he arrives back in town on Saturday morning..the same time the race starts. I just can't have him grab a cab and come home after a week of being gone!!! Im gonna talk to Hector and possibly run the exact same route of the OUC on Friday instead of the race on Saturday. I won't get a medal (major bummer) but at least Ill get the distance in!!

My life has currently been filled with Christmas shopping for my parents (my mother is not well and I have been trying to help out), decorating the house for Christmas and getting ready for the Boot Camp Christmas Party on Sunday!! Along with the celebration, we are having each boot camper bring a non perishable food item to give to the Second Harvest Food Bank!! Just another way to give back to the community!!

Well..I gotta fit in a 1 hour run today along with the running around town!!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Orlando's Turkey Trot

I am so excited!!!  The Orlando Turkey Trot was a HUGE success as we had about 35 boot campers come out and burn off some calories before their Turkey Dinners!!1  All five of my trainers turned out in their camo and boots to run the race.  Even my handsome male trainers attracted a few ladies who wanted their pictures taken with then and then offered a phone number or two!! Oh my!!

I had a great run.  I took 2 minutes off my best 5k time and felt great.  I know I can go faster with some more weight loss.  Its just going to take some time!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

...The OTHER Woman...

Well...after 23 years of was bound to happen.  She's fast.  She's lighter than air.  She gives him wings.... She is an older "woman" but she gets my husband all hot and bothered...

And her name is 5302K...well at least that's her tail number.  

Meet the other woman. Christmas came early to our household as we added "aircraft owner" to our list of crazy pursuits.  This Cessna 172 fulfills a dream for my husband that has been years in the making.  The plane originally belonged to the flight school where my hubby got all his ratings and was the aircraft in which he did his Instrument Rating Check Ride.  Although the airframe is older (and needs a new paint job), the engine is brand new and the avionics are less than 3 years old.  

We signed the papers and picked her up the day before giving thanks for all our blessings.  We flew from Sanford to Orlando and tied her down in her new home at Showalter Field at the Orlando Executive Airport!!  

Oh, and by the way.  A triathlon bike with the front wheel removed fits beautifully in the back seat :)

Cleared for take off!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Its about giving thanks...

This Thursday is all about giving thanks but in a lot of households...its become all about the food.

Don't get me wrong. I love Thanksgiving.  I love Turkey and dressing and all the trimmings.  I have to remind myself at times that gravy is NOT a beverage and that the food is just the accessory to the family gathering and sharing what is so and togetherness.

For someone who struggles with her relationship with food and keeping her weight within a certain range, Thanksgiving can sometimes be torturous.  My sister in law is having us over on Thanksgiving afternoon and it will be a feast.  I have actually planned out in my head what will be on my plate.  I can see it in my mind's eye and my hope is that I don't deviate from that vision.  For the person who sees food as fuel, this is no big deal.  To someone who sees food as comfort, Thanksgiving is the Super Bowl.

Along with the family tradition of sharing on Thanksgiving, I am happy to report that I have created one of my own: The Turkey Trot.  Each Thanksgiving, Track Shack helps sponsor a 5k run/walk at 7am to help burn off a few calories and keep a healthy lifestyle component in focus on a day where that focus can be lost.  Whether you walk it, jog it or go for a P.R., its all good stuff!!! (and not good stuffing) Over 30 members of my fitness business: Operation Fitness Boot Camp will be participating so look for us if you happen to be running that morning.  As for me, look for me in the back of the pack bringing up the rear with a smile on my face and hoping I can run home another 4 miles to make the day a nice long workout!!!

From the Ironman Dreamer...Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I didn't make it to Arizona..

But like thousands of other Ironman junkies, I watched the fun via internet video!! My hat is off to the over 2100 starters and especially to my Coach, Hector Torres for completing his 3rd Ironman in 13:38 and to Kathleen Steil, one of my buddies from the Central Florida Tri Club who finished her race in 16:00:14.  Great job guys!! Sorry I didn't make it out there to cheer you on in person..but I was hooping and hollering from here!!!  :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Attempt to Attend Ironman Arizona

Ahhh the joys of flying space available.

My beloved husband is wonderful.  Because he works for the airlines, I get the chance to fly space available anywhere US Airways goes.  Since my coach, Hector, is running Ironman Arizona AND I have a weekend where ALL of my friends seem to be busy, I thought I would head out to Phoenix and watch the race.  I am a firm believer that you can learn so much from observing a race and it would be a blast to take some great shots of the Central Florida Tri Club members who are running this Ironman.

On Tuesday, things were looking good.  25 seats left on the flight with 8 people listed for space available.  Last  night, I checked again.  Only 3 seats left with 8 people listed.  YIKES!!  I need to decided if I am going to get up at the crack of dawn on Saturday and make the attempt to get this flight or just stay in Orlando.  Ill keep you posted, and if I make it, Ill post a few photos from Tempe AZ!! 


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Can A Fat Girl Run Ironman?

Hmmmm....I LOVE it when people are bold.  I love it when people open their mouth and say things that their mothers would slap them for.  I adore people that just can't help expressing their negative opinion because it makes them feel better.

But .. ya know... it makes GREAT BLOG MATERIAL!!

So Im in the grocery trying to pick up some HEALTHY food to put in my fridge when I guy stops and asks about my Ironman Florida Tshirt.  "So, did you watch the race this year?"  I smiled and said "Well...I watched the run...but I was kinda busy during the swim and some of the bike!" He said, "Oh...were you volunteering?"  No, I was racing.  He looked shocked.  "So, how did you do?" he asked.  I told him I didn't finish and he told me that its tough for someone of "my build" to do endurance events.

NO SHIT..REALLY??(Don't worry..I didn't say that to him)  I smiled and said I do what I can!  (pardon my language..I will let my mother wash my mouth out later).

Now..I use to get VERY upset by these comments. I mean, I would be upset for days.  I would cry and be sad and it was so silly.  I know Im unique.  I know that there arn't alot of plus size athletes in this world but it beats the hell out of sitting on the couch.  I am determined NOT to be 380lbs EVER again and if it takes scheduling races to give me a goal to work towards, so be it.  I hope Im in my 80's still walking, running or stumbling 5k's just to keep me moving!!  

Its either Ironman or the Bon Bons...Ill take Ironman!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The newest installment of "As the Stomach Shrinks"

Welcome to the newest cyber drama on the web: As The Stomach Shrinks!!!

Since my recent discussion was about about this...

I'm going to start listing my weight loss each week in my blog...

You know? That makes me scared just writing it...but I think it might keep me from stuffing my face knowing that YOU (the collective YOU that are kind enough to take time to read my words) will be seeing the results each are the numbers for the last few weeks:

Weight loss in week one   3.0 lbs
Weight loss in week two   0.5 lbs

Total of 3.5 pounds since Ironman. about a little confessional time:

1. Last night was my 23rd wedding anniversary dinner out.  We went to Victoria and Albert's in the Disney Grand Floridian Hotel.  Its one of the best restaurants in Orlando and serves a 6 course meal!! Oh my!! It was amazing and we were had champagne...a whole bottle between us!! I look at it this way-23 years deserves some champagne and a killer dinner!

2. When I am upset or nervous or stressed...what's the first thing I do.???..I EAT!!  I was really stressed over the garage sale and other family stuff so out of my 7 days of eating this week, I had healthy eating habits for about 4 of them.

Considering these facts...Ill take a .5 lb loss over a weight gain!! 

Tune in next week and find out....

Does Melissa make the bold move of NOT eating in her car??
Can Melissa cease the endless drinking of Diet Coke?
Can Melissa hit the 5lb loss mark and STILL travel over the weekend? 
Can Melissa keep up her workout schedule without overeating!?

The answers to these questions and more in the next installment of "As the Stomach Shrinks!!"

Monday, November 17, 2008

Staying Focused

Ask any Ironman triathlete and they will tell you that one thing that you MUST master in your training and in your racing is focus.  A wandering mind can be one of the most detrimental things that you can do to your race and to your preparation for a season.  Sometimes its difficult to step outside yourself and evaluate your problem areas and faults but I gotta tell ya..this is my downfall.

My friends will tell you I am EASILY distracted (actually..that is the understatement of the century).  We can be having a discussion and my mind can wander or I switch subjects without warning.  Its a HORRIBLE trait.  I'm sure if Attention Deficit Disorder or A.D.D. were well known when I was a kid, I would have been their poster child.  

When I returned from Ironman, Hector and I sat down and discussed the next season.  He also told me he would now only meet with me once a week for trainings and that I had to do the rest on my own.  I tried to explain to him that I really need the "routine" and the "focus" of meeting twice a week.  He would not agree.  He told me he was trying to "teach me to focus on my own training."  I understand his thought process, but for me, this could be a recipe for disaster.  I need that accountability.  That's why having a long distance trainer (I use to train with Carmichael Training Systems in Colorado) did not work for me.  No accountability.  No "in your face" training.  Its just not my personality.

I struggled with Hector's proposal for several days.  I considered hiring another coach.  I considered doing the training on my own (that DEFINITELY wouldn't work for me).  I got pissed...I got sad...and then I realized these emotions were counterproductive.  I am having to confront my DNF...AND changing my routine.  I am scared that my lack of focus will be the death of my dream.

So I picked up the phone and I called Hector.  I explained my concerns.  I made him a deal.  If I am consistent with my workout on HIS schedule for the next 90 days and PROVE to him that I am not screwing around with this Ironman goal, that he will switch my program back to face to face twice a week training from February to November.  He agreed.  

So...lets see if I can get my mind right...along with my body!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Garage Sale for a Cause..

After a year of training, I PROMISED that I would get back to a little fundraising in the off season.  So, this week, I cleaned out that storage space where so much of my garage sale treasures have been tucked away and got it organized for the Sale of the Century with great help from my friends Rick and Debbie.  Beth and Vi will be here tomorrow to help with the Saturday crowd. (Once again many thanks to my incredible friends). 

It amazes me what some people will do for a deal.  It also amazes me that when you tell someone the proceeds are going to find a cure for Leukemia, they dig a little deeper and give a dollar or two more...even in the hardest of times.

So, if you are one of those that just can't pass up a good deal and you happen to be in the Orlando area, come on by, grab a bargain, and drop a quarter in the "Christian Stafford Jar" Friday or Saturday from 8am to 1pm.  Every time I hear the coins hit the glass, it makes me think that angels are smiling and one particular angel is watching over all we do in Team in Training/Leukemia Society Purple and Green :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

And suddenly..Im posted on a website Ive never heard of..

Don't panic.  Its not one of "THOSE" sites that my father would be furious and my mother would faint from the sheer shock of it all! I was searching for an old story about Christian that had been published online shortly after his death and found that MY story is now on this website.  Apparently, this site is a positive media site in California!!  Check it out! It includes the Ironman Florida Ford Everyday Hero Video!!

WOW!!! Slow news day :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The final race list..

Well, as expected, Hector took a hacksaw to the "Dream List" and cut it down to size.  Below are the races that will be included in my race list:

November 2008
Turkey Trot

December 2008
OUC Half Marathon
Reindeer 5k

January 2009
The Disney Marathon (no Goofy)
The Miami Half Marathon

March 2009
Disney Princess Half Marathon

April 2009
St. Anthony's Triathlon

May 2009
Gulf Coast Triathlon

June 2009
The World's Most Beautiful Ride-Lake Tahoe

July 2009
Rock n Roll Seattle Marathon

August 2009
Training Weekend-Panama City Beach

September 2009
Training Weekend-Panama City Beach

October 2009
Amelia Island Half Ironman

November 7th, 2009
Ironman Florida

Hope to see some of you there :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Race Wish List

Ok...the wierdness of triathletes and endurance athletes alike comes at the end of the season and shows itself proudly in the off season as they look back and determined what worked...and what didn't.

Needless to say, I look back at my season and say:..hmmmm...alot of things didn't work along with a few bright patches.  I guess the good side of that is that I will learn from those things.  I wouldn't have known if I could complete an Ironman if I didn't first give it a shot.  Now I know what I need to fix and get right.

I sit down with Hector Tuesday to discuss the 2009 season.  I always make a dream list of races and Hector just laughs.  " can't do 2 half ironmans a week apart!!" Why not??  Ok..I KNOW I can't do that..or better yet that I shouldn't but I like to keep my options's the dream wish list.

November 2008
Turkey Trot (gotta run off some calories on Thanksgiving Day)
Space Coast Half Marathon

December 2008
OUC Half Marathon or 5k (depending on if I do the Space Coast)
Reindeer 5k

January 2009
The Goofy Challenge at Disney-Orlando
-The Disney Marathon
-The Disney Half Marathon
All in the same weekend

Miami Half Marathon-Miami FL

February 2009
Florida Great Escape Triathlon-Clermont FL (Qualifier for Escape from Alcatraz)
Chilly Whilly Duathlon-St. Pete FL
26.2 Run with Donna Marathon-Jacksonville FL
5th Annual CAN Century Ride (100 mile bike)-Naples FL
Ft. Lauderdale A1A Marathon and Half Marathon

March 2009
Disney's Princess Half Marathon-Orlando
Miami Olympic Distance Triathlon-Miami FL (TNT event)
Wildman Moss Park Triathlon-Orlando
Super Seal (Olympic Triathlon with US Navy Seals!!) Triathlon-Coronado CA

April 2009
Ironman 70.3 New Orleans
St. Anthony's Olympic Distance Triathlon-St. Petersburg FL

May 2009
Gulf Coast Triathlon-Panama City Beach FL (similar course to Ironman FL)
Ironman Florida 70.3-Disney-Orlando
(Half Ironmans are 1 week apart..need to pick one)

June 2009
Baldwin Park Triathlon-Orlando
The World's Most Beautiful Ride-100 mile bike-Lake Tahoe(TNT event)

July 2009
Moss Park Triathlon Festival-Orlando
Rock n Roll Seattle Marathon (a little change in climate in the middle of the HEAT!!)

August 2009
Trip to Panama City Beach to do training at least one weekend
No races here (Ill go nuts!!!)

September 2009
Ironman 70.3 Augusta GA
Disneyland Half Marathon
Philadelphia Distance Run-Half Marathon(where I set my PR)

October 2009
Amelia Island Half Ironman

NOVEMBER 07, 2009
Ironman Florida

:) Ahhh the dream list...lets see what it looks like after Hector slices it down to size!!! :)

Hurricane Holiday and Back to Reality

Were back in one piece after 4 days of  what I'm calling a "Hurricane Holiday".  Hurricane Paloma didn't hit Jamaica but the spectacle that she left in her wake was pretty destructive.  12 to 15 foot seas outside our beachfront room, damage to the beach, two obliterated piers, one broken up wedding gazebo plus a shoreline littered with debris made for a vacation like no other..

Steve and I played in the puddles...spent some time getting massages and watching the waves from our patio just a few feet from shore.  I believe vacation is what YOU make of it.  No, it wasn't perfect.  I would have much preferred to come home with a suntan but the most important thing is that I got to spend time with my husband.  

Its kinda like my race experience..

I would have much preferred to come home with a medal and the "glory" of being called an Ironman.  I won't lie.  I sat on the beach and cried.  I am disappointed.  But the most important thing of it is: What did I learn?  What did I get from this experience? Who did I meet? Who enriched my life? Who's life did I TOUCH (if anyone's)?  What will I do differently? How will this make me stronger?  What POSITIVE things can I take away from Ironman Florida 2008?

I meet the most amazing people.  Approximately 40 people from ran Ironman Florida and I got to meet most of them.  What an incredibly inspiring group of people. I meet Ironman veterans who gave me loads of advice.  I survived the swim start, the nerves at the sound of the cannon (which believe me, if you have never seen an Ironman start, its terrifying).  I had a woman who I have never met with a sign at Transition as I left for the bike course "'re my hero".  Oh my god, how unbelievable is that. And at mile 12 and 23, small lonely signs that read "Melissa...#55...we love you" .  My friends got up in the middle of the night and put out those signs.  I'm so lucky.  I have learned so much.

Its more than a medal and tears are normal (or so I'm told).  For some people, the road to Ironman is shorter.  For others, the road is longer.  For Sarah Reinertsen (the first female above knee amputee to run the Ironman World Championships), the quest for Ironman took 2 attempts.  For Scott Johnson, a double lung transplant patient, it took 3 attempts.  For a good friend of mine, Jennifer, who suffered from an infection just 5 days before the race and got out of the hospital a few days before the event,  her first "official" finish took 2 attempts (she completed Ironman Florida 2008--you go girl).  I look around and there are so many people from which I can learn.  There are so many people who's journey is so inspiring.  I need to embrace the fact that I am going to be an Ironman ... its just going to take a little longer.

While I was away, my business partner took a call from a local news station that wants to do a story on me.  My first reaction was: why?  I didn't finish.  The reporter said the fact that I wanted to try AGAIN was a story in itself.  Most people would walk away.  Most people would just admit that its too hard.

Its not too hard. Anything is possible if you believe.  It just requires more work on my part.  Bottom line: I gotta get to work!!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Don't hate me ... but I got 4 days in a great place coming

When the going gets tough, jump on a plane and go to Jamaica!!

Ok...I didn't just PLAN to go to Jamaica, my husband and I had planned our vacation to fall after Ironman almost a year ago.  Although I am kinda chomping at the bit to get back to training, I know that I need a mental break.  Soooooo...we are headed to this beautiful beach for a few days of rest and sun.

Well...I was hoping for sun..turns out its raining in Jamaica for the next 4 days.  It doesn't matter, we are going to have fun anyway!!!

Back to the Ironman Journey after I return....

Monday, November 3, 2008

Laying out the plans for the future....

It is not the critic who counts;
Not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,
or where the doer of deeds could have done better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
Whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood,
Who strives valiantly;
Who errs and comes up short again and again;
Because there is not effort without error and shortcomings;
But who does actually strive to do the deed;
Who knows the great enthusiasm,
The great devotion,
Who spends himself in a worthy cause,
Who at the best knows in the end the triumph
And who at the worst, if he fails, 
At least he fails while daring greatly.
So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls
Who shall never know neither victory nor defeat.
-Teddy Roosevelt

As we drove home from Panama City, my good friend Rick read me this quote from a Triathlon book he was reading.  "Missey-thats YOU" That entire quote is about you.  You know what its like to success...and you know what its like to fail.  I didn't really want to hear this quote today. I want to stay positive and focused on my goal without the focus being on those letters I hate so much .... DNF.

But I forced myself to look at the results on  I made myself see my name and those letters.  I think its important to understand and feel that disappointment.  Now its time to fix what's broken.

You should see my email box.  I am so very blessed and honored that so many people found my story inspiring.  I have two organizations that work with Gastric Bypass patients that want me to come speak to their members.  I have several triathletes offering their advice on nutrition.  I have had so many people sending "virtual hugs".  I am honored beyond words.  So many people that don't know me at all that care so much.

So..since my story is now public record (over 4000 people have viewed it on youtube and more on Ironmanlive), I figured Id put out there my plan for the next few months.

I need to drop some more tonnage.

You would think that losing 200lbs would be enough...but Im still 180.  I need to drop 60 pounds to be in my goal weight range.  In the next six months as I am doing my off season training, my focus will be on getting close to that weight loss goal of 120lbs.  Don't you think Mike Reilley would be shocked to see me next year as a size 4 or 6 instead of a size 14/16!!!

Don't worry. I plan to do this the smart way.  For now, I am joining Weight Watchers.  After the first of the year, I will switch to a sports nutritionist as my training will get more intense.  

Consider this my "Biggest Loser to Ironman Challenge".

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Melissa Daly..You are NOT an Ironman...YET tears are allowed here but to say Im not disappointed would be a lie.  It was a beautiful day for a beautiful race..however, it wasn't MY day...

I woke up at 345am..had my breakfast and had multiple text messages from so many well wishers.  I grabbed my gear and headed to transition.  Got body marked and dropped off my Special Needs Bags, got my tires pumped up by the tech guys in transition (and this will be significant later) and headed back upstairs to our condo to stay warm.

We took some awesome pictures with my support crew as I got into my wetsuit/skin and headed down to the beach.  I was very nervous as Hector took me aside and gave me some last minute instructions. "Today is your have prepared and you are its just a victory lap".

The gun went off and my eyes got wide as I watched 2000 people enter the water.  I hit the water with determination.  THIS IS  going to be my day.

I did my first lap in 52 minutes,  just like I had done the day before.  I know this sounds slow to the rest of the world but for me, it was awesome.  I ran up the sand to make the lap back in the water, stumbled a little but I was pumped.  Back into the water for the second lap feeling FANTASTIC!!

Out of the water at 2:05:00.  Ok...were not setting any speed records here but you must understand, my goal was to make the cut off..and I did by 15 minutes.  

Out of the water and up the sand, Mike Rielly was announcing my name (holey moley..Mike Reilly knows who I am). I made it through the showers and into the changing tent.  My first Ironman transition took me about 10 minutes (I can do better here).

Off to my bike where my coach, Hector, had it waiting for me in transition.  All smiles and excited he sends me on my way.  Little did I know that he had found a flat front tire while I was in the changing tent and had the bike tech support in transition change it before my arrival.  I just jumped on and went.

On the bike, i got organized.  Bottles were full, Bento box accessible and into the aero bars I went.  Off Thomas Drive on to Front Beach Road and I was on my way.

I took two sips of endurance drink and felt a little funny.  Hmmm...maybe Im just a little amped up from the swim.  I switched to water for the next few miles.  At mile 4 I tried some more endurance drink.  It hit my stomach like a lead weight.  Wow!!  I tried a gel..and some water. Now Im queasy but ok.  A few yards down on the road, another sip of endurance drink and....oh no....Im not just REALLY SICK!!

I proceeded to upchuck every 3 to 4 minutes for the next 50 miles.  At the special needs stop, I decided to consult medical assistance. In my special needs bag, I had packed TUMS and Gas X (thanks to my friend's advice on I downed 4 tums.  They made the trip back up.  I looked up at one of the Ironman Staff and two paramedics and I knew, I was probably done.

They brought an ambulance.  I refused.  All I need is a ride to the medical tent and something to settle my stomach.  I got that and enter the medical tent where they found me running a slight fever and a high heart rate.  There is a chance I got some food poisoning OR my formula from Infinit was not the right mixture..but whatever it ended my first attempt at Ironman.

After a bag of IV fluid and several bottles of water, I was released to my husband's arms.  It was only in this moment that I cried.  In the grand scheme of life, this is small potatoes.  Im not losing my house.  I haven't been diagnosed with cancer.  My life is amazing.  On the 10th anniversary of my gastric bypass, I did more in a day than I would have ever dreamed of.  Im still living and my quality of life is so incredible, how in the world could I be sad.  We sat and talked on the beach and, with his loving and sweet support, we agreed, I would try this again.

I tell ya what I DID get to do yesterday.  After getting my stomach right and a quickie nap, my dear support crew got some dinner in me and we returned to the finish line.  I got to witness some amazing people accomplishing something very wonderful.  To every single finisher, I am in awe and I applaud you.  Congrats to all.  

So, you might wonder..whats next??  Well...I don't believe in failure.  I believe in making mistakes until you succeed.  So, even though I have an automatic entry into any 2009 Ironman North America race, I got up at 400am and cheered on 4 of my friends who signed up for Florida 2009.  I WILL DO THIS AGAIN AT FLORIDA IN 2009!!  

No tears.  No fear. No excuses.  No BS.  It wasn't yesterday but I decided what my future holds.  
I will be an Ironman!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Six Minutes Faster in the Swim

Ahhh...starting to feel better!!!  Got out in the Gatorade open water swim at 830am in my swim skin instead of my wetsuit.  The first 200 yards are pretty brutal as the water must be 10 degrees colder than it is beyond the shore and sandbar.  Once past that point, the water is comfortable in a skin.  Lets face it, I have my own insulation and buoyancy.  I really don't need the wetsuit!

The course is 5 buoys out..turn to one more buoy and then 5 buoys back.  The second turn buoy is DIRECTLY in the sun so we stopped and figured out which two buildings in the distance were right online with the turn and sighted from that.  Perfect!! Right on target for the turn. Very slight current coming across  the return course so a slight angle to the left as you head for shore keeps you on track to run onto the beach to make the timing mat and the second lap of the course.  

At the first turn I looked at my watch. Wow!! Im head of my pace by 7 minutes.  At the second turn, ahead of my pace by 8 minutes.  Getting over a sandbar just off the beach does slow you down a bit so when I stopped my watch on the beach, I was six minutes faster than when I did this last year with Rick during his Ironman.  Im still EXTREMELY slow but very pleased with my time!!

My friend Debbie is flying in this morning to go to the banquet and start helping us get prepared for the Beginner Party we are hosting at 4pm and then the banquet at 530PM!!  

I feel sooooo much better.  Holy moley...I might just do this thing!!!

Well..I didn't break the camera..

Yesterday afternoon, I had the honor and privilege of meeting Greg McFaddin-Film Producer for Ironworks Productions.  If you have ever watched any Ironman coverage shown on Versus, you have seen his work.  An incredibly humble and talented Canadian, he tried really hard to put me at ease as I spent two hours on the beach being interviewed and filmed for the Ford Everyday Hero.  

Did I mention I was so nervous that I forgot the name of my surgeon who did my gastric bypass.  That I stammered and stuttered through the interview.  How in the world do celebrities and politicians do this.  I looked at the camera and FREAKED!!!  

But Greg was so calm and so sweet.  He thought I did great but I felt like a klutz .  He asked me to walk down the beach at sunset and even that seemed so "not right".  

I guess I fell like i have no business doing this interview stuff.  I feel like I am standing in Fenway Park at the plate pointing at the right field wall and calling my shot in front of the biggest baddest pitcher in the world.  I feel like I should just be focused on the race.

We started talking about Christian and I couldn't help the tears coming to my eyes.  He is the reason I run these races and i wanted to make sure the world knew it.  I would much prefer the focus of this interview be on the Leukemia Society than on me.

Well..we will get to see the interview tonight.  Im so nervous I don't think I can even write anymore here.  I am doing another open water swim at 830am with some of the girls from Beginner Triathlete.  

More when I calm the heck down....

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Meet the "new pro" at Ironman Florida

Ok...if you want a good goes!!

I go to pick up my packet here at Ironman Florida and I ask the lady for packet number 2443.  According to the Ironman Florida website, that was SUPPOSE to be my number.  She searched...and then she searched again.

Im sorry ma'am, there is no 2443.

I gasped!!  What??  I begged her to look again, she did and no 2443.

I asked one of the volunteers and she directed me to the Registration Director.  She smiled and said "Hi Melissa...Welcome to Ironman."  I looked kinda perplexed.  "How did you know my name" I asked??  She said.."Well..I know that 2443 is our Ford Everyday Hero...but I changed your number this are now  pro number  55!  

ROFLMAO!!  Me!! A Pro!!  Now that's just too funny for words!!!  I did get the honor of checking in at the Professionals desk instead of waiting in line which was quite a blessing.  I was really overwhelmed by the nice words and comments from the Ironman Staff.  They have all been so incredibly kind! 

So if you're tracking me, Triathlete number 2443, don't panic!! I am going to start this number 55 with a professional colored swim cap!!!

Who would have ever thought!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My bags are packed...

....Oh my god....the day has arrived!!  We are headed to Panama City!!

To say Im nervous is the understatement of the century!  I have WAY OVERPACKED because I just don't know what the weather is going to be like.  Right now its highs in the 60's.  During the weekend they say it will warm up to the mid 70's but who knows.  I packed so much stuff its ridiculous!!

I took my bike in for its check up and "Blue" is doing beautifully.  I think she's ready for another round of 112 miles in Panama City!!  Lord knows she knows the course now!!!

I went to the doctor yesterday because I was having horrible headaches over the weekend. Come to find out, I have a mild sinus infection.  He gave me a ZPack (antibiotic) and some decongestant and said I should be feeling better by Friday.  Going to take it easy for the next day or two.

Im almost too excited to write.  Ill write more from Panama City :) every single person who has followed my blog or if you are just reading for the first time, thank you for your kind thoughts, prayers and comments.  I am so humbled that anyone would even take the time to read this.  For me...blogging is "cheap therapy"...for you...hopefully...its entertainment!!! hahahahaha

In 5 days...Im gonna be an Ironman :)

Friday, October 24, 2008

...Being called a "Hero"....

Hero: n. A person noted for special achievement in a particular field.

Hero is a pretty strong word.  There have been a lot of heroes in my life.  Some of them are alive today (my father, my husband, my brother in law, those who battle for their lives against cancer, those in harms way with the armed forces that secure our borders and our country) and some of them are gone (my 96 year old grandmother who was blind and lived most of her life as a widow, my Godson Christian Stafford who battle Leukemia to the bitter end, and Jessie Gay another cancer warrior who lost her life way too soon).

These people...they are heroes to me.  Every single day their lives were/are a shining example of how special life is and how lucky we are to have the honor of living in this country.

So ... with that said ... you might understand why I have a hard time telling people that, yesterday, I was called a HERO.  

I returned from my workout with Hector, sat down at my computer to work through emails from friends, clients and business associates.  There was this one email that didn't look familiar with the words: Congratulations.  Hmmm...Did I win the lottery in Kenya AGAIN...I thought to myself!!!!???!!!  Did my long lost third cousin twice removed leave me 11 million dollars in Spanish coins in Dubai!!??  Congratulations...??? For what???

And then...I opened the letter...and here is what it said:

Dear Melissa...

On behalf of Ford and North America Sports, we are pleased to announce that you have been selected as the Ford Everyday Hero for the 2008 Ford Ironman Florida.

We believe that you exemplify the Ironman competitor who not only takes on the challenge of training and competing in this arduous sport, but does so at the same time as they contribute in a positive way to a cause or community charity.  The Ford Everyday Hero Award salutes those who have a positive impact on others as part of their Ironman journey...

As the 2008 Ford Ironman Florida recipient of the Ford Everyday Hero Award you will receive a $1000 contribution from Ford and the North America Sports Community Fund to be donated to the non profit group of your choice.

We look forward to having you as a guest of Ford at the Welcome Dinner on Thursday October 30th.  During the Welcome Dinner you will be called to the stage to be presented with the Special Gift Package from Ford and North America Sports.  At this time a "Ford Everyday Hero" video created by Ironworks Productions will be shown to those attending the dinner.  This footage will also be featured in the Ford Ironman Broadcast.

Congratulations again, and welcome to a very special group of exceptional individuals in the Ironman Community.

Helen Manning 
Communications Director
NA Sports

GASP!!! I read the letter again.  The first thing to come to my mind this a joke?  Do they know that I am going to probably be one of the final finishers of the day??  Do they have ANY idea how horrible I look in spandex!!??  Holy moley.  This is incredible.

But the donation!!!  $1000.00!!!  My first call was to my husband.  My second call was to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Hey guys....more money for research...whhhoooo hoooooo!!! My next call was to Rick, Debbie,Beth and dearest friends...because I knew they would be supportive and give me a highfive.  They are truly the best!!

In the past 24 hours, I have been contacted by a Film Director with Ironworks Productions to schedule my "shoot" (oh my god .. they ARE going to shoot me...and take me out of my misery before the pain starts!!!) They wanted background info, photos, and  asked questions.  They will be filming me in Panama City before the race...and DURING the race. evidence of the pain!!!

Seriously, I am very overwhelmed and humbled by this honor.  Steve and I had talked about entering my story but we never dreamed they would pick me. Rick also thought it was a good idea to submit my story.  We put together the details and sent this email not thinking anything more would come from it.  This is a dream come true not only for me..but for my charity to get a little more money for the cause.

When I told my father, he reminded me of the 11th commandment..which I promised I would adhere to:


So if you watch the Ironman Florida coverage on Versus in December, remember, they may call me a hero...but I just work for the real heroes in this world who are fighting cancer and keeping us safe everyday!!  They really deserve the nameplate.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Final workout with Hector before Ironman

As I arrived at my last workout with my trainer, Hector, I was kinda sad.  This has been a journey and routine that I have followed since last December.  I got into his training studio and he put me on the swim table for 30 minutes.  He played some very relaxing music and it was hard to stay focused on a hard stroke with this soothing music playing in the background. After 30 minutes, he had me lay down on the exercise mat and do some visualization of the race.

We went through each phase...the start, the "washing machine", the second lap of the swim, the run up the beach, transition, onto the bike, special needs, transition 2, the run...and of course..the finish line.

The finish line..the promise land....that glorious place where dreams are realized.  Right now, it seems so difficult to reach.  Its alot closer than last year.  I stood on the beach and watched my friend start his first Ironman and cried.  I was suppose to be in that water starting with him.  It was so hard to watch him go...

Not this year.  This IS my year.  This IS my victory lap.  All the workout deposits to the bank get withdrawn on THIS day.  Please God, let me have saved my pennies well and have enough ability to make it through.

I got some interesting news today that I am too embarrassed to even announce on my blog.  Don't panic.  Im not pregnant.  Im not leaving my husband for Prince William and NO..I didn't win the lottery...but for me...its just as big. When I get the guts..Ill write about it...

Watch this space for more...soon....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Taper is Tough

I now have the cleanest house on the planet....

I have replaced outdoor lighting fixtures, had things repaired around the house, cleaned out dresser drawers and taken things to Goodwill, planted flowers in my backyard, replaced outdoor patio furniture and have washed and waxed my car.

This is what an Ironman Triathlete does with those extra hours she USE to spend training...

Im going nuts...

I never in a million years thought i would say this....I miss my training.  I woke up at 5am wondering why I wasn't getting ready for a long swim workout (my swim was only 1500 yards today...I can do that in my sleep) so I went back to bed and did the workout later in the day.  This is truly a weird feeling.

Meanwhile, I am checking the water temperature at Panama City and I keep checking the weather for updates.  I have been on ohhhh maybe 100 times in the last couple of days.  ANY information...ANY discussion about the race and I am all ears.  My poor husband is so tired of hearing about all this he left early for work ( he had to get a flat tire fixed on his car in St. Louis...but even so....).

Ok...Im ready...bring on the DAMN RACE!!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

And visions of the finish line danced in my head..

....You would think it was Christmas...

Its 1220AM and I can't sleep.  Not so horrible, right? WRONG!  I have to be up at 500am to work at Boot Camp at 600AM.  So much for getting a lot of rest prior to my Ironman.

Every time I close my eyes, I am on the course.  I can tell you every gas station on the bike course.  I can tell you where the crappy road paving is at around mile 80 to 95.  I can see transition in my head and ...DEAR GOD...I don't even want to think about the swim start.  That just makes me shiver inside.

Sleep!! I need sleep!!  But that finish line...thats ALL I think about.  Thats my Christmas gift EARLY!!  

Dear Santa...Ive been a very good triathlete this year....

Saturday, October 18, 2008

FINALLY .. 20 MILES COMPLETED .. And a big "Thank You"

Finally...I got my longest run in of my IM Training.  I am so relieved and happy!! Of the 20 miles, 18 of them were under the required time for Ironman.  My hope is that I will have the energy after 112 mile bike to push through and keep that pace.

Finally...taper sweet taper.  Time to rest, eat well....and rest some more.  My body is tired and I have been looking forward to this portion of the training.  It will be strange taking my training hours down by half but I am ready.

Hmmm....I am ready...Ready for some rest.  Ready for the race.  I'm ready to be an Ironman.

About mile 9 in today's workout, I started to cry.  I started thinking "Oh my God, I think I'm gonna really be able to do this!"  Am I kidding myself??  What keeps you motivated through 140.6 miles when your body hurts and your mind is screaming for rest?  I'm hoping that my friends that are joining me in Panama City will be a huge help.  They always are.  I have the most incredible support team that could ever be assembled for a race.  They get up at the crack of dawn, they cook, they haul ice, they meet me on training rides and runs and have put up with the insanity that is Ironman for almost a year.  So...before my life slips into travel mode for Ironman, I want to thank ALL the people who have helped me in the last year:

Beth Crepeau: my training partner, my "Coach Beth" who trained me to do my first marathon.  Beth was suppose to do this race with me but broke her shoulder during the Virginia Beach Half Marathon.  She is signing up for 2009 and I will be her crew chief at that race.  Thank you for all the great advice and the shoulder to cry on ( no pun intended there) when I was just too tired to train. Without you, I don't believe I would even have made it to this point!

Sandi Fuller: Our "Speed Racer" marathon runner who constantly offered to run with me during my training.  My fear was that she couldn't go slow enough to train with me..  She's also a great hairdresser.  Thanks for making me look Maaaaavaluous when I'm not sweating!!!

Joy Flack: Thank you for making my Ironman 70.3 Florida race one great party and making Beth's first Half Ironman a race to remember.  You are the t shirt queen and I want you to know I appreciate everything you have done at every race.  You're an amazing cheerleader.

Mike and Vi Auld: Some of my oldest friends who actually attended my first triathlon 9 years ago at Danskin.  Mike: if I'm too tired on the run course to acknowledge your advice, I hope you know it is appreciated.  Vi: Thank you for being such an inspiration to me.  Vi ran her first half marathon and full marathon in the same weekend by completing the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World.  She is incredible and I aspire!!

Debbie Lewis: Debbie is the finest bike training coordinator anyone could ever hope for.  On two occasions, she traveled to Panama City Beach and ran drinks and gels to us on the course during our 112 mile bike workouts.  She is a pro at finding free ice at hotels after races and generally gives everyone around her an upbeat feeling.  She is a great cheerleader and if you ever get the chance to meet her, ask her how her "bootilicious booty" is doing that she likes to display on Highway 20 in Panama City Beach :) (Trust me, the story is worth a giggle or two)

Laura Stiles:  The protector.  If you ever wanted someone to fight for your cause, this is the woman you want on your side.  Laura has always watched out for me and spoken up when I have been too afraid to say a word.  Thank you Laura for always having my back!!

Rick Stafford: My ORIGINAL triathlon trainer, my business partner and dearest friend.  Who would have ever thought that the 3 mile runs we use to do around Deltona for the Danskin would lead to an Ironman 9 years later.  Thank you for riding with me, for running with me, for taking my &*^%$ when I'm tired and pissed on a long workout.  Thank you for calming my fears about finishing and thank you for kicking my ass when I needed it!!!

Hector Torres: Ironman Trainer extraordinaire.  Thank you for riding along side me during the Tri America Triathlon and caring enough to lend a hand.  Thank you for constantly believing in my ability to complete an Ironman.  Thank you for holding my hand during the rough parts of training and not taking "no" for an answer when I tried to get out of a workout.  You are a blessing to so many people and an inspiration to me.  Words can not express what your time and talent has meant in my life.

And finally and most importantly: My husband, Steve who has put up with so much in the last year.  He has done so much that it is literally impossible for me to make a list.  After 23 years of marriage, he puts up with my crazy ideas and I adore and love him more today than I ever have before.  Thank you my darling for allowing me to follow my dream.

You will notice that my family isn't on this list.  My brothers and parents really do not understand this sport nor do they care to.  They will not be attending the race (its Georgia Florida football weekend) but I know that they will be proud of me *IF* I finish.  IF I don't, all Ill hear is :I told you so.  Well...I love them but I don't agree with them.  I believe that I will do this race.  I believe I will finish and I believe in the power of my dreams.  

To all my all those that have left me messages on my blog: my warmest and most heartfelt thank you.  You have made my year.  From your words I have gained alot of strength. Hopefully, I will draw on that strength on race day.

Hoping to complete the journey from Obesity to Ironman in 14 more days........

Friday, October 17, 2008

Meet Triathlete


......And now it is very very real....

Holy crap...Ive got a bib number for Ironman Florida.  This is no longer "a couple of months down the road".  This is NOW!! Right here...RIGHT NOW!!  Do I admit to you that this brought tears to my eyes.  Im going to be an Ironman.

Im still struggling on my run workouts but this is nothing new.  The third time should be the charm as I attempt to complete 20 miles.  I was doing well on Thursday when i got an urgent business call that made me stop at 10 miles.  **Heavy Sigh**  So Saturday is the day....REALLY THIS TIME.  Saturday is the day!!

NUMBER 2443!  Thats me!!  Look for me as we now have 14 days until Ironman!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Remember...its suppose to be fun...

Triathletes are very serious!! "A" type personalities driven to achieve a goal.  That doesn't make them bad...that just makes them...well..driven.

I have spent the last few weeks wringing my hands...worrying about cut off times, nutrition, bike parts, MY parts, what to wear, if Ill get kicked in the swim, if Ill make it at all....

...and then...I got this email .. from a Beginner member...

"I know that you're likely going to be flirting with some of the cutoffs on race day so one of the important things to set out now is to prepare your mind.  Remember what it was about the Ironman that made you want to do it.  Don't think about how you feel now, think about how you felt when you signed up.  Think about how you felt when you first got the idea to dip your toe into the Ironman pool.  Even go back to how you felt when you were finishing your first triathlon.  See the imagery? Remember that excitement? Remember the nervousness you felt the first time you stood on a beach before a race.  Those are the feelings that you want to stow away and bring out on race day.  Those are the mental pictures that will get you through 140.6 miles. They say "Never expose yourself to the race too early"  "Don't let your emotions overpower you before the race."  Emotions require energy and you'll need every ounce of energy you can muster on race day.

Melissa: Relax. Breathe. Be calm.  You've only got a few more weeks to go..and Ill see you in PCB.

WOW!!  Someone took the time to write that to me.  They took the time to calm my fears and remind me this is suppose to be FUN!! Remember?? Its a hobby.  Its not life or death.  They aren't going to take my house if I don't finish.  


As for my other update: I only made it 12 miles in my run.  All under cut off time (which makes me happy) but I will be attempting another 20 mile run on Thursday.  For now, my hubby is home from work (he is an airline pilot) so I am going to enjoy some much needed time with him until he leaves on Wednesday night!!

In with the good air...out with the nervous air!!!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

20 mile run with 20 days left to go...

20 days.  That's it! 480 hours until Ironman.  Sunday, I will be doing my final LONG workout prior to the race.  A 20 mile run with my friend Beth.  Can you believe this amazing person is going to help me do this run.  She was suppose to do Ironman but fell during the 1/2 marathon in Virginia Beach and sustained and hairline fracture in her shoulder.  NO Ironman this year..but she plans to do it in 2009.

Running is my nemesis! This run on Sunday has me scared.  I hope I can survive it.  We are suppose to be in the 90's tomorrow so we will be starting a little before sunrise!! 

Ill give you the update when I return!!

Putting your feet on the floor is the hardest part of the workout

435am...and the alarm is ringing......UGH! My poor alarm clock.  After a year of Ironman training, it has almost been beaten into submission.  This morning it went off with a new "tone" sounded garbled and tired...kinda like me.

I get up early so I can "enjoy" my morning routine of coffee and oatmeal but it has to be the hardest part of my workout day.  Just getting up and getting moving when your body is screaming for sleep is a challenge.  When I have a difficult time getting motivated, this is when I think of all those people who wish they were in my position.

I think of the men and women 10 years ago who embarked on a clinical trial for the gastric bypass and lost their lives on the operating table.  By God's grace, I survived.  I think about my Godson who told me it was hard having Cancer...but he was going to beat "Vader" (thats what he called Leukemia). And I think of myself when walking around the mall felt like a marathon.  I am so very blessed to be up at this unholy hour of the morning and getting prepared for a day in the saddle.

Time to hit the road...and go log some miles :)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A special run for a special little guy..

On Saturday morning, October 11th at 730am, several hundred runners, walkers, joggers and stumblers like myself will run in Lake Louisa State Park in the "Christian Stafford Feel the Force 5k" to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training and in memory of Christian Richard Stafford.  Christian was a very special little boy in so many ways and he continues to touch my heart and my life every day.

Christian was my Godson who was diagnoised with Leukemia at age 6.  At first, things looked pretty good for my favorite little Jedi who loved Star Wars with a passion.  He got his first round of chemo and immediately went into remission.  The good news, however, turned bad when he bounced out of remission and required a marrow transplant.  The transplant failed and on March 6th, 2005, we lost Christian to this cowardly disease.  

Prior to his death, Christian entered a clinical trial for a drug that is now helping children throughout the world stay in remission.  If it had not been for his bravery, many families could have suffered the same fate the Stafford family endured on that March day.  He was a fighter and I gained alot of knowledge and strength from his experience.  This little guy taught me how to be tough in the face of pain and adversity.  He taught me to see the positive side of a bad situation and showed me grace in the darkest hour.  My hope is that I can use some of the things that Christian taught me as I go through my Ironman experience.

If you are in the Central Florida area, we would love to have you join us.  Use the link below to become part of the "force" that will do good for those battling Leukemia!!

May the force be with you....always :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Facing the Numbers..and some serious fears...

I made a promise to myself when I started this blog a year ago that I would express my true feelings about my training and about my emotions as I entered this endurance event.  Right now, I won't lie: Im scared and worried.

For those that are reading this blog and can run a 10-12 hour Ironman, you will probably giggle at the numbers I set forth below but I hope you understand from where I came.  In May 2000, I ran my first Danskin triathlon at Walt Disney World.  That year, the race was less than a 1/4 mile swim, a 10 mile bike and a 2 mile run.  I finished the race (and not in dead last) in 2 hours and 20 minutes.  The first time someone timed my mile, I was walking and it took 21 minutes.  My fastest bike use to be in the 12 mile an hour range.  It is from this world that a unique Ironman athlete has emerged.  

I spend a bit of time at the computer with the triathlon calculator trying to figure out if I can really beat the 17 hour cut off.  I have told my friends who are going to be supporting me at Panama City that this isn't ONE Race...for me..its THREE RACES.  Each goal is such a huge step forward for me.

A year ago, I was at Ironman Florida supporting my business partner and dear friend, Rick Stafford.  We arrived early and we took advantage of the open water swims each morning.  The first two times, I was too scared to do the whole loop.  From the balcony of my condo, it looked like the course was halfway out to the shipping lanes (which it sorta IS) and it was overwhelming to me.  On Friday before the race, I got up the courage and got my swim skin on and did one lap.  It took me an hour an 10 minutes...that would BARELY make the cutoff time.  Fast forward 1 year and I now do that loop in around 55 minutes. I think Michael Phelps' gold medals are safe but if I can make it out of the swim in 2 hours, I will be very pleased.

Last year, I made my first attempt at completing the bike course.  I made it to mile 50 and began throwing up and couldn't stop.  My day was definitely done early.  This year,  I completed the full bike course in 7.5 hours.  Again...not setting any land/speed record but that would get me into transition under the cut off.  If I can get into transition in 8 hours, I will be very happy and another "race" completed.

Which leaves my weakest link: the marathon.  I have only run two marathons in my life.  One took me over 8 hours and the other took me 7 hours and 48 minutes.  With an 8 hour bike, this leaves just 7 hours to transition and complete the marathon.  This is where my fear lies.  My running is horrible but if I can give myself enough time to do an 8 hour marathon...I know I will be fine.  A 7 hour marathon I have not attempted...but its interesting what you can do when you are under the gun.  I have run ONE race in my life with negative splits.  It was Ironman Florida 70.3 where I almost missed the run cutoff for the last loop.  By running the negative split, I made it through the loop entrance with 45 seconds to spar and became one of the final official finishers.  If I can continue that mentality, I may run my 7 hour marathon.

As the big day approaches, nothing but math runs around in my head. As I did my 90 minute bike and 45 minute run this morning, I kept checking my GPS to make sure I was running faster than I needed to.  

The ticking of the clock is my enemy....I plan to beat the crap outta that enemy on November 1.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

These guys are not my friends...How to race with an allergic reaction..

This weekend was NOT what I had hope for prior to Ironman.

I had to DNF my first triathlon in my 8 year career of racing.  There have been alot of races where I finished DFL...or close...and I pushed as hard as I could before my body more.

I got up at 4am...had my coffee and oatmeal and followed my routine as I normally do prior to any race.  I was out the door at 5am and was at the race site by 520am.  Since I was in a new town that I didn't know well, I thought it best to leave early.

Got body marked, set my gear and talked to alot of triathlete and looked at alot of bikes.  I have found that if you walk through transition and look at people's setups, you can learn alot.  I asked about wheels, bottles, and other interesting things in people's transition areas.  I grabbed my wetsuit and have my friend Kathleen from the Central Florida Tri Club help me put it on.  In 8 years of triathlon, I have never done a wetsuit swim.  Today was going to be my day to test my new wetsuit in a race.

We found a mere 20 people in our wave with Kathleen and I being the only Athenas in the entire race.  We were excited.  If we finish, were going home with hardware.  Little did I know what was to come.

The gun went off and we ran into the water watching our step as we made it over the sandbars.  The water was a perfect temperature, calm and beautiful.  The sun was coming up and the buoys were easy to spot.  Going to be a great swim.

At the second buoy, it felt like a bee had nailed me under the arm.  Then again.  Then it felt like it was inside my wetsuit on my chest.  I came upright in the water and took a deep breath.  Let me tell ya, the ones on your arm can hurt, but a sting to the chest will get your undivided attention.  I couldn't breathe.  I know this was just my reaction to the situation but I made the decision then and there to remove my wetsuit.  A lifeguard saw me struggle and brought his kayak over to me.  I asked him to take my wetsuit.  He looked a little shocked that this woman was disrobing 1/2 mile from shore but I knew that I would feel better if I could just get the suit off my body.  I finished the swim 10 minutes slower than my normal 1.2 mile swim and hit the beach.

Being a diver, I KNOW for a fact that I am highly allergic to jellyfish.  I evaluated my condition after exiting the water.  The stings were painful but I felt ok overall.  Maybe I would be lucky this time.  I went to transition and I was the last one out.  This isn't the first time I have been the last on the road.  I got myself together and hit the road.

I started to feel bad as I made my way up the Amelia Island Causeway.  I felt a little dizzy, my head hurt a bit but I pushed forward.  It wasn't until Mile 40 that I started to feel the rash travel across my chest and I got itchy.  At mile 45, my stomach got upset and I had some serious shortness of breath.  This was a beautifully organized race but there were no medical tents on the bike course.  I decided to head into transition and hit the medical tent there.

I was assessed by the staff at the medical tent.  I took Benedryl and they applied vinegar to my stings.  I even slept for a bit  in the tent as the Benedryl took effect and made me drowsy but got myself together enough to grab my gear and head back to the hotel.  The nurses were so nice and professional.  They even helped me carry my stuff to the car.

Returning to the hotel, I slept for 3 hours.  The itching stopped about 7pm and my shortness of breath stopped about midnight.

I am very sad that I had to abandon this race.  The feelings of failure flooded me as I sat looking at the beach from my hotel balcony.  Saturday was to be a night to celebrate.  Instead, I felt like such a loser.

This morning, I got up and drove home.  All my friends called to check on me, which was very sweet.  Even the race director called to make sure I was ok.  As I was driving, I heard a song by Rascal Flatts that seem so appropriate.  I love the words:

'Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you're made of
You might bend, til you break
'Cause its all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you've had enough
You get mad
You get strong
Wipe your hands, shake it off
Then you stand...

Everytime you get up
And get back in the race
One more small piece of you
Starts to fall into place.....

I will live to fight another day.  My hope is that ALL the pieces fall into place for Ironman Florida.  One more long weekend of training and then its time to taper and rest.  Im having my pity party this afternoon but I am ready to shake it off and STAND UP TO BE AN IRONMAN!!