Sunday, January 20, 2008

What? I don't have to mentor this weekend??

And how weird is that!? Friday night, I thought to myself "What time do I have to be at practice tomorrow??" Wait..there is not practice tomorrow.  Well, some of the die hards just couldn't resist, so we got together at the Lake Mary Panera Bread at 6am for a run (and for some of us..a ride and a run).  It was misty, rainy and humid but I did my 45 minute run at Hector's recommended heart rate of the day..and it felt great. 45 minutes?? Piece of cake!!!  I headed off to the Y later in the afternoon to do a weight workout then it was on to cleaning out my workout room at home.  Starting Monday, my workout room is being expanded and updated! It will mean about a month without my normal place for my bike trainer and treadmill (the trainer has been relocated to my bedroom and the treadmill is in storage) but once its should be awesome!

Beth and I ran together for a little while and I experienced some weezing that I haven't had in about 2 years.  I sometimes use a rescue inhaler but its been months since I needed that.  Beth concluded that it was due to the weather that I was having this problem but it was definitely a minor issue.

Hector has already posted next week's workout..looks like fun.  Next week's challenges include the ING Miami Half Marathon (had to have the medal).  If you're going to run this race, make sure you email me...we are all getting together Saturday night for pasta and fun!!!  

Ill post more soon!!

Monday, January 14, 2008

I survived 26.2 miles

And to say I survived is the best way I can describe the race...I started...I crossed the finish line and I have the pictures and medal to prove it.

Was it pretty?? Nope, can't say it was.  It was one of the most difficult things I have done but I can honestly say that I ran the 2008 Disney Marathon and completed the task.

I can sit here and type about the famous "wall" that marathon runners hit (mine was at mile 19) or I can tell you about the sweepers that pick people up when they are not running at 16:00 minute mile pace.  Half way through the race, I was 25 minutes ahead of the sweepers.  By mile 23, I was 1 minute 30 seconds ahead.  I could tell you about the fact that I lost so much sodium during the race that my black running tights were partially white.  I could tell you that I laughed at silly jokes told to me by my running partner Rick and that I cried when I heard one of my good friends was swept at mile 18.  I could go on and on about how the "me" that started the race was not the same "me" that finished the race.  I could fill this blog with all that stuff...but the bottom line here is this:

1. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society raise 6 million dollars from the fundraising done by over 1900 athletes that participated in this event.

2.That every one of my teammates from the Central Florida Chapter finished either the half or the full marathon (including one of my dearest friends-Debbie-who ran her first half marathon this weekend)

3. I got a BOATLOAD of work to do prior to Ironman Florida

I want to thank all the amazing people who helped me during the weekend including the Team in Training staff (Andrea, Kelly, Crissey, and Ruth), Coach Beth, Coach Bill and Coach Sean who made the last mile of the marathon the most enjoyable mile of my running career so far. To my new Ironman Coach-Hector Torres-for being on the course at Mile 24 after running his own marathon in 3:55 (holy moley thats fast). For my amazing friend Rahul who ran my pace for several miles before going on to complete the Goofy Challenge.  For my incredible friend, Vi, who at age 50 something went out and completed her 2nd Goofy Challenge and ran with me in the middle of "no man's land (miles 14 to 18). For my friend, Mike Auld who appeared at mile 13 with those encouraging words. To Joy for giving her all at this marathon, and at every race she enters.

 I can not express to you how much my husband did to help me during this race.  He broke several traffic laws and pissed off several Disney security officers while riding his motorcycle, along with my friend Debbie, to mile 19...just where I needed them most.  ( are so brave to ride that course on the back of the motorcycle..thank you thank you). And last but not least,a big thank you goes to Rick for helping me make each step (and held my hand part of the way..ok...several miles of the way) towards conquering my fear of the marathon distance.  You all were amazing and I could not have completed this race without all these people.

So, today was my rest day.  Tomorrow, my training focuses on ONE goal.  I have 10 months to prepare for the Ironman Challenge.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Inspiration comes from so many places...

Thursdays are my long days as I head to my job with Walt Disney World.  I am very blessed.  I get paid to do something I adore. I'm a Disney Diver.

You are probably scratching your head and saying "A What?" Well, Disney is the proud owner and developer of a 6 million gallon aquarium known as the Living Seas at Epcot.  In this environment, Disney operates two diving programs: one known as Aqua Tours, which is a scuba assisted snorkeling program and other is DiveQuest, which is a scuba program for guests who are certified divers.  I am one of 45 Divemasters (and only 1 of 5 women in these positions) that make sure the guests are safe in the water and conduct underwater tours of the environment. Yup! Im an underwater tour guide. I also get to make sure the boss (Mr. Mickey himself) is safe when he dives in the environment.  Did you know that Mickey was a certified diver?

As I geared up for another day of fun at the Mouse House, I met the most incredible woman. Mary arrived for our snorkeling program in a wheelchair and its my job to assess her mobility. At first, she told me she could walk up stairs and could move pretty well but after awhile it was very clear that she was going to have a tough go of it.  Although I never asked her, I believe she suffered from some form of scoliosis (sp?) as her body was very twisted and her left foot actually pointed left instead of forward.

Once we helped her into a wetsuit and got her wheelchair to the diving platform and into the water (Disney even has wheelchair access to our diving platform), I helped her on with her gear.  I asked her if she was fearful...we get alot of new snorkelers that are scared of the two 9 1/2 foot sharks in our environment or don't like the sting rays that inhabit the waters.  She looked me in the eye and said "Fear: False Evidence Appearing Real.  Thats what that is.  Why be afraid?  You gotta face your fears or you just arn't living." At first I was a bit taken aback...but her determination made me smile!  I showed her how to use our S.A.S.S. equipment (Scuba Assisted Snorkeling System) and, with the assistance of her husband, she was off.  She swam and explored for the full 30 minutes and never looked back.

And as I helped her back to the locker rooms, she told me about all the fish I see everyday.  She told me one of the turtles surfaced right next to her and how she really wanted to grab a fin and go for a ride.  Her excitement really got me going.

No Fear.  No fear of life. No fear of the challenge.  No fear of the unknown.  Wow!

You know, I believe God works in mysterious ways.  Yesterday, I had the marathon on my mind and started to let the fear of not completing this race again get to me.  I REALLY had a bad attitude going into the day and the big guy upstairs made it a point of showing me how very blessed I am in so many ways. I can walk. I can run.  I can do multiple endurance races in a year.  I can get around my world and my life with little assistance from others.  I am blessed beyond measure.

So as I make my way through 26.2 miles on Sunday, Im going to keep Mary in mind.  No fear.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Running for the cause...Remembering Christian

Its a strange week in my Ironman Training...Im  having to take it easy.  On Sunday, I am going to make a second attempt at completing the Disney Marathon.

Last year, I entered the Goofy Challenge.  This Challenge consists of doing the Disney Half Marathon and the Disney Full Marathon in the same weekend...a little over 39 miles of running. Several days before the race, I came down with the stomach flu but started to feel better on Friday night.  I got up Saturday morning and ran the half marathon with a bit of difficulty but I finished the race.  By Sunday, my body was feeling pretty horrible.  The dehydration from being ill and from the temperature on race day was just too much and I ended up in the medical tent with an IV in my arm.

That will not happen this year!

I am running my marathon with my good friend, business partner and new Ironman, Rick Stafford.  Rick and I own Operation Fitness Boot Camp together and he has helped me train for my first triathlon, my first half ironman and more.  When we go to races, I usually tell him to go on and run his own race as he is dramatically faster than me.  For this race, he will run at my pace and help me complete the 26.2 miles before the cutoff time of 7 hours.  

We run these races for a very specific cause.  For the Disney Marathon, I am a Mentor for Team in Training which raises money for research for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  3 years ago, I lost my 8 year old godson (Rick Stafford's son) to Leukemia and from that moment forward, it has been my life goal to help find a cure for cancer through my work with the Society.  During the training that has lead up to the Disney Marathon, our team of about 100 runners and walkers lost another young brave soul to this disease. Parker was a young boy suffering from Leukemia. After over a year of fighting, he left this world in November.  Our team was heartbroken but it also made us more focused on our purpose...we are running for a cause.  Leukemia is a cowardly disease.  It has a tendency to pick on little kids.  My goal is to never see another family go through the pain of losing a child to cancer.

So on Sunday, when the miles of the marathon start to get painful, I will remember my godson, Christian Richard Stafford, who was so brave and strong in fighting his battle with Leukemia...and I will remember Parker, who's smiling face would never have let on that he was terminally ill.  These kids are the strong ones...and I just wanna find a cure.

Monday, January 7, 2008

4:00AM comes dreadfully early...

4:00 am...and the alarm goes off!! UGH!!  Its time to get up, smile,  and give my great clients a hardy Good Morning in my 5:00am Boot Camp classes...

Yes, you read that right...I own half of a Fitness Boot Camp..

My day starts early and I tend to grumble alot until I see the faces of people who show up for their workout at Oh-Dark-Early in the morning and it reminds me of just how hard it is for all of us to roll out of bed and make this commitment to fitness.  Sleeping in is a luxury for me...which I now enjoy to the fullest when I get the chance but a more exciting benefit of owning a fitness business is to watch people get stronger, leaner, faster and better overall.  It really isn't about getting into the size 6 jeans (although thats a great goal)..its really about FEEEEELING BETTER...and living better.

So I salute my clients who  hit the snooze at 4:00am for just 5 more minutes of slumber before braving the elements and challenges of Boot Camp!!  Hooo Yahhh!!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Working out with friends...

Its rare that I have a weekend with nothing planned or scheduled...but this was one of those weekends.  Don't get me wrong, I had TRAINING scheduled including a 7 mile run with Team in Training (out last weekend workout prior to the Disney Marathon) and a spin class with my trainer, Hector, at the Downtown YMCA...

Ahhh but the best laid training plans are quickly changed....

I ended up getting called into work at Disney for a long night on Friday and by the time I got home, it was close to 11pm.  I was exhausted so I called Coach Beth and said I would be missing morning practice and sleeping in!

After the team finished their 7 miles, Beth called me and asked me to breakfast with Rahul, Debbie,  Ironman Rick and several others from TNT.  Rahul announced he was picking up his new bike from Orange Cycle...and of course...we all had to go and check out the new wheels. cant get new wheels without giving them a good workout, so we agreed to meet at the West Orange Trail for a bike workout.  My buddies did 20 miles..but I saw and opportunity to do my first brick of the triathlon I rode 10 miles and then ran 3 miles.  Ok, so it wasn't my 7 mile run workout that I was SUPPOSE to do...but it was great fun.

Working out with friends is what makes this sport so enjoyable to me.  Sometimes we get so worked up about training schedules and racing that we forget that this is suppose to be FUN!! was very fun..and I hope that we will continue to be able to do this.  One of the reasons I believe I had such a hard time training last year for the ironman is that I did so much of the training alone.  Maybe that will change this year....

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Transition muscles are a painful thing..

Ahhh...transition muscles.  For those that have run triathlon or know a little bit about it, you know EXACTLY what I am talking about.  For those of you new to triathlon or training for one, these two words might be foreign to you. transition muscles got a major workout!!

Transition muscles are the muscle groups that you use going from one discipline in triathlon to the next.  For today, Hector and I worked on going from the bike to the run.  In the gym, we set my bike on a trainer and I went from several minutes of 80 to 90 rpm cadence riding to jumping off the bike, putting on my running shoes and running on a treadmill for several minutes at various speeds.  After running, it was back to the bike for cadence riding and working gears.  I was sweating like crazy and almost begging Hector for mercy.

Hector has decided to focus my strength on the bike.  Since I am a plus size person, it would be to my advantage to focus my energy on a non weight bearing event like the bike as opposed to the run.  Hector explained that I have strong legs from years of carrying alot of weight and we will use this to our advantage.

At the end of the hour, I was pretty tired...but I had that feeling of a job well done.  Have you ever dreaded going to do a workout but once it was done, you feel absolutely incredible? That is how it was for me today.

Don't get me wrong.  I ended up taking a hot bath this afternoon and falling asleep in the tub before going to Disney to work my other job...but all in was a great workout.  This was a minor workout compared to what is to come.

After a night of work at Disney (Ill tell you about my two different professions at another time), I am exhausted and ready for so much earned sleep!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year we are!! That ball fell in Time Square as I downed my glass of champagne and I kissed my husband on the dance floor of the Royal Pacific Hotel at Universal Studios..and welcomed in 2008.  As I danced with my husband he whispered in my ear: "Its going to be an Ironman Year".

I gathered this holiday weekend with all my friends to have this amazing long weekend full of fun and celebration. We went and saw Blue Man Group, had massages at the Mandera Spa at the Portofino Bay Hotel, rode rollercoasters at Islands of Adventure and enjoyed a night of celebration at the Luau New Year's Eve Party at the Royal Pacific.  My friends know that this was my last big party night before 11 months of training for an we had a blast.  A beautiful dinner, an open bar (but I really don't drink) and fireworks at the end made for one amazing way to say goodbye to 2007.  

NOW...the fun starts...

Tomorrow morning..January 2nd, I weigh in, do my first workout of 2008 with Hector, my Ironman trainer, and get on the road to an Ironman finish.  As I raise my champagne glass for one last sip...I wish you much success and great happiness in 2008...