Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Clean Slate

What is about that new calendar that you hang on the wall...or the new pages in your Franklin Covey planner that give such a sense of hope....of possibilities....of dreams that are just waiting to be realized. Those pages inspire me; they motivate me; they are fuel for a raging fire that is just waiting to be ignited at the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31st.

A new year. I could use a New Year. Now, Im not saying that I didn't learn a lot from 2009....Lord knows I did...but there is something about turning that page and learning to write a new year number on your checks or type it in your emails that just makes me feel refreshed...

A clean slate...

If I could pick up that slate, there are just a few words I would write on it to describe me in 2010....




Devoted Wife

and the one I have been yearning for for almost 5 years now...


What are you writing on your clean slate??

Happy 2010 everyone!!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The land of resolutions

Christmas is over and we are in that strange week between holidays where its hard to get a lot of work done. Some offices close during this week entirely. For is always the week to reflect on the year.

This year had its moments of triumph and pain. I overcame some fears and demons...and came up short in some endeavors. My heart is full with the great blessings I have been given...but I still am passionate about achieving those last two goals that have eluded me: achieving my goal weight....and an Ironman Finish.

So as I went out on my walk/run/stumble this morning in the cool Florida winter air, it gave me tons of time to think and ponder 2009. A smile crossed my lips as I remembered finishing the Amelia Island Half Ironman. No jellyfish, no DNF here...and a P.R. to go with a medal around my neck.

As I remember Ironman Florida, there are so many mixed emotions. I am proud that I actually made it to the start line healthy and up for the challenge of the day. There are many that don't make it that far. I am happy when I think about all the people who were cheering for me, praying for me and hoping that I would cross the finish line. I am blessed that people cared that much to track me on race day and for my friends to come and support me in my quest. I do still feel sadness that, once again, the Ironman Finish Line eluded me....and the moment I took my chip off for the official plays over and over in my mind.

If we didn't have the disappointments in our life, we would not be able to enjoy the victories to the fullest. I remember waking up the morning after Amelia Island and feeling that victory! I remember feeling strong and happy! As I head into a new year, I want to remember those victories...and those disappointments and have them fuel me through the months to come.

There are many people that don't believe in the Resolutions of a New Year. I am one of the people that does. I believe that setting the bar high and shooting for the stars will only enhance the richness of life. It would be easy to turn around and walk away from Ironman saying that I gave it my best and it is just beyond me...

But that's crap...

NOTHING is impossible. EVERYTHING is possible if you believe hard enough, work hard enough and give it 110% of your effort. I could name the people I have watched in past years that proved that to me just in the Ironman community: Team Hoyt, Sara Reinertsen, Brian Boyle and John Blais are just the first few that come to my mind and prove my point. This is possible.

2010 holds the promise of dreams realized. I can not just walk away from the bar that I have set and just live life in mediocrity. I will keep believing. I will keep dreaming. I will achieve two things this year: my weight loss goal...and my Ironman Finish.

Now do me a favor....when it gets really hard around ooohhh lets say, June, remind me of this post!!

Happy 2010 to everyone...

Friday, December 25, 2009

The blessings and joy of Christmas

Christmas routine for the last 5 years has been the same...I go to evening carols with my parents at at 5p and then to my brother's home with his family for Christmas Eve dinner. I would always come out of church and look up in the sky ... for thats where my husband would the pilot's seat getting people to their families but not being with his.

This year, we got lucky. Steve bid his December schedule and what to our wondering eyes should appear...Christmas Eve, Christmas Day AND New Years Eve...OFF. I could hardly catch my breath. My husband...home for the holidays.

We started this marriage 24 years ago as a military family. At that point, I knew that holidays with my husband would be rare...then he became a civilian and we enjoyed a number of years as a "normal family" with the holidays off. As he entered the aviation industry, the mindset returned to having holidays when we could..on the airline's schedule.

But tonight...and heart is so full. I picked my husband up at the airport and I cried. Its been so long. We missed church...but I think God will understand...I opened my Christmas present the moment my husband opened the car door.

My wish is that you too are getting to enjoy being with your family at Christmas and drinking in the happiness that comes with the season.

Merry Christmas everyone

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Watching a Dream Unfold...or slip from your fingers...

Amongst the hustle and bustle of a crazy holiday weekend, I set my watch alarm and my DVR to watch the epic event of my favorite sport...the Ironman World Championship in Kona Hawaii.

Like the Super Bowl is to Football and the World Series is to baseball, "running Kona" is the pinnacle of Ironman Triathlon. To make it to "the show" is an honor. To finish it is something truly worth celebration. To miss the cut off in this competition is a heartache like no other in the sport of triathlon.

As I watched this drama unfold, I felt the exhilaration of the start. The pros talked about the 30 minutes before the gun goes off as the most frustrating time in the race. You just want to get started. I knew that feeling so well; that uneasiness in the pit of your stomach and the lump in your throat.

As I watched the gun go off and the mass move forward, I closed my eyes and I was in the water getting pushed and shoved and even moved forward by the mass of people. I was so relieved to be started towards my dream. The excitement in the show was so moving. Is it any wonder that this telecast spawns so many new triathletes. You want that feeling. You want that drive and vision. You want that victory.

But as I watched the end of the swim segment and the bike segment, I felt the heartache of two athletes: Kyle Garrett and Rudy Garcia-Tolson.

Kyle Garrett, cancer survivor and heart transplant patient misses the swim cut off by 7 seconds. As I watched this unfold, the tears rolled down my face and they just wouldn't stop.

But it wasn't until they showed Rudy Garcia-Tolson that the emotion of their day came to a climax. Rudy is a double amputee that can only handle a bike using his prosthetic legs and his glute muscles. As they stopped him at bike transition because he missed the bike cut off, Rudy was quite composed. He said he had given it everything he had and there was nothing more he could have done. His reaction reminded me of mine at mile 110 of the bike as I was stopped by the officials and my chip was removed. There were no tears....I knew I had done everything I could do on that need for emotion.

But on this December day, I realized that I had not fully worked through the emotion of letting that dream slip away. Watching someone else experience the same thing brought it all to a head and I finally DID cry...and I cried a lot. When you can feel the emotion and see it unfold in front of you instead of being in the midst of it, it is so powerful. I felt for Rudy...I felt for me.

I am happy to report that Rudy is now an Ironman. He completed Ironman Arizona a few weeks later.

My day is coming...My hurdles are different than Rudy's or Kyle's but we share that common win our own race in our own way. My hurdles seem so simple to others while to me they are a constant battle that I face every day.

No more tears. Im so ready for the new year, the new season, the new me, and the newest chapter of the journey. Im ready to surround myself with positive people and keep a coach with true vision. I am eager to be the person I know I can be: she is just hiding and being beaten down by addiction and lack of self esteem. If I can slay those demons...she will take charge.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A new name that I hope I live up to...

For years, I have studied this sport we call triathlon. Yes! Studied! I feel like this is an endevour that requires persistance and knowledge. Last week, I gain a little more knowledge after I got the chance of a lifetime.

Rewind back to Labor Day weekend and a drive to Panama City to train on the Ironman Bike Course. It was my birthday weekend and I made the decision to train instead of do something fun. I needed to fit everything in: a swim, long bike and a long run so I got a jumpstart on my journey to North Florida.

This,however, meant that I would not be sitting at my computer in anticipation of the class for USAT Level 1 Coaching Certification to open. In the past, I have sat at the computer and tried desperately to get one of the 40 seats offered for this training but could never get online in time to get a slot. As a favor to me, my business partner, Rick and his girlfriend Lisa, poised at their computer and watched as the seconds clicked by. 9am arrived and they began to type feveriously. The idea was to get me in first then get Rick's application submitted. As I drove, the phone was on speaker as I listened to Rick type as quickly as he could.

And appeared. Confirmation that I was registered. He then set to work on his application...

I was incredibly excited until I heard him say "You're in..but I'm not...its sold out."

DAMN IT!! Now I feel like a heel. My dear friend had done me a favor and he sacrificed his chance to get into the class to help me. Now thats a true friend. In the end, it worked out that Rick did not get into the class. Lisa got her vacation week and they traveled to Las Vegas for several days of fun while I went to class.

For 3 days, I sat in a conferenced a learned so much, I thought my head would explode. By day, I was taking notes and asking questions and by night, I was headed out for dinner and shows and the sights of the Las Vegas strip.

I was quite intimidated when I entered this class....but after introductions, I learned that people take this course for a variety of reasons. Some will use it just for their own knowledge. Some will use the information to coach privately while others are starting teams and working with existing Tri clubs. As for me, I want to put together a program of beginner triathletes with the boot camp.

It was fun, informative and exhausting. I have a take home exam to complete and then I will be certified as a Level 1 Coach. I got on the plane home with the sense of accomplishment. This life is full of exciting adventures to come.

I came home to a mound of mail and an office that looks like a bomb went off. Between decorating, presents, parties, training and hiring new people for our boot camp, I have hardly had a moment to write. I hope this blog entry finds you well in this crazy season!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Award....

Last night I attended a holiday social for Team in Training for the Nation's Triathlon Team for 2009 and 2008. I was incredibly excited to see all my friends who had run the race in the last two years. Fun stuff!!

As I arrived at one of our favorite BBQ restaurants and watering hole, I noticed that my parents were sitting at one of the tables. My parents?? Here?? That's odd. Then my middle brother arrived. Hmmmm....something is up!!! Then my business partner, Rick and his girlfriend Lisa walked in. Now I KNOW something is up.

So we talked and caught up with all our triathlon addicts. We talked about the 2009 season and what was in store for 2010. People tip toed a bit around Ironman but finally started to ask about it and discuss it when they realized that I wasn't laid to waste by the DNF. Sure, I would love to be walking around with an M-dot necklace around my neck (I promised Mom I wouldn't get a tattoo), but...there are more adventures to be had on the way to this Ironman goal.

We ordered dinner and I was still perplexed...and all became clear.

My very first Team in Training coach, Coach Clint Carbonneau, got up and proposed a toast to the entire team and wished us all a great holiday. He then asked me to come up to the front of the room where he pulled out a two page "speech". Yikes...what is this about??

And here some of the speech went:

"We gathered here because all of us feel you deserve to be noticed as someone with a huge heart and lots of Iron Effort. I think we were all online, or texting each other on Nov. 7th when you were off on your Ironman adventure. I believe all of our hearts dropped when we heard you were pulled at mile 110 on the bike. I know I received 3 text messages from 3 different people telling me of your DNF.

I believe I am speaking for all of us here when I say that we could care less if you received that IRonman medal or not. In our hearts and minds, you received that Ironman medal a long time ago. The Ironman medal is not large enough and does not encompass what you should receive. The efforts you put forth in training and more importantly helping others, is what all of us here see in you.

Melissa, there is nothing you can not do as we have all seen, if only half the people in the world had the heart and gave the efforts you do day in and day out, we would all be better off.

So we came up with this award we all wanted to share with you and the title really tells it all: The Iron Heart Award.

Thank you for sharing so much of your heart, your experiences and your friendship with all of us."

Inside a beautiful Purple Bag (of course it was purple..its Team in Training right??)...was a glass trophy...with a swimmer, biker and runner. It reads: Lifetime Iron Heart Award Presented to Melissa Daly 2009

To say I was stunned doesn't really cover it. I got that feeling in the pit of my stomach like I do right before the gun goes off in a race. My husband squeezed my hand. My father hugged me. My mother smiled and wiped away a tear. My brother gave me a highfive. My team stood and applauded.

And that 380lb woman who still lives in my head took a backseat for just a moment in time....and the triathlete, the volunteer, the fundraiser, the cancer fighter, the Ironman dreamer walked forward....just for a moment. So many emotions and so much positive energy: Wow. How do you describe the feeling of true caring? I am sitting here crying just writing it all down. What amazing people I have gotten to know in this journey of mine. How blessed could I be???

So the question was asked: Will you try a 3rd time? As my parents stared at me, my brother grabbed my shoulder. He knew. He knew I can't let a dream die. He told me a few days ago that, if Ironman was my heart's desire, then I better go get it done before its too late. "Don't let your shot pass you by."

So I explained to all of them that my top priority was to lose 40 pounds. If I could do that before May 8th, 2010, Hector and I would sit down and consider an Ironman run in 2010...but NO Ironman would be attempted again at this weight! They were all thrilled!! Some of them told me they were considering an Ironman in 2011..something they had never even dreamed of before Team in Training!! Isn't that a wonderful thing!!

As I set the trophy in my workout room, I gave it a cherished, special spot so I could see it from my treadmill. As I was walking out, I noticed the empty spot left on the wall. My walls are filled with photos, jerseys and medals from the last 10 years of this journey but there is one spot on one wall that remains blank...

It won't be blank forever...just for now...just a few more hurdles to overcome....

Monday, November 30, 2009

The dreaded scale and the week after Thanksgiving

Soooo...I followed my plan this week..considering the avalanche of food that was placed in front of me. From Thanksgiving at Disney, cooking for events and a multitude of food choices at the end of a half marathon on Sunday, I made some smart choices

Or so I thought...

With a long work day on Thanksgiving AND a completed Half Marathon, I gained 1.8 pounds.

Total Utter Frustration.

But I have not lost hope. I have not thrown up my hands and said "Oh well...I guess I can't make it to my goal." That is what I have done in many years past. After two weigh ins at Weight Watchers, I usually disappear into a sea of excuses because I just can't stand the damn scale...

Not this time...

My dream is attached to this goal now. My dream of becoming an Ironman rides on getting this weight off. Many people told me that I should have waited until AFTER the holidays to start this weight loss journey...but then I would have run the risk of gaining 5 or 7 pounds during Thanksgiving instead of my 1.8 pounds.

No excuses. No compromise. It sucks that I didn't lose this week but I am determined.

Stay the course....

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Space Coast Half Marathon

For several years, I had a group of girlfriends who loved to run half and full marathons. We planned birthdays and holidays around traveling to a destination, celebrating and running the race. When I started to train for Ironman, my ability to make those planned events disappeared and I truly missed traveling with my buddies. We rekindled that fun this weekend at the Space Coast Half Marathon.

Just an hour away from Orlando, my friends Beth, Sandi and Terri traveled over to the coast to enjoy the pre event pasta party and hearing Jeff Galloway speak!! The man is truly an inspiration and it was such an honor to shake his hand and get a picture with him. If you think about it, I probably would never have attempted a half marathon without hearing about the Galloway method. His theory of walking and running an endurance event made it seem very possible for me.

My friends and I grabbed a room at the Country Inn and Suites for the night so that we didn't have to get up at 300am to make the 600am start time of the race. We all spread out in the suite, setting our clothes and shoes and laughing about the race to come. It was like a slumber party of days past.

The 400am alarm went off way too early and I started my race routine as always. Coffee and oatmeal to start my day while the girls stumbled around at this pre dawn hour. We got on the road at 5am and found a parking spot near the finish line (much to my surprise.)

After one trip in the portapotty line, we headed to the start and met some other friends from Team in Training. Before I could even be nervous, the gun went off and we were on our way. Over 2500 people were signed up for the event unlike years past when we only had about 600.

Running in the soon as I got in my hit me. This is what I was suppose to be doing a few weeks ago...running in the dark. My parents were shocked at the Ironman that people ran in the dark and into the night. If they had seen me this early morning they might have been amazed. It was a perfect morning for a race: temps in the 50's, no wind and an absolutely beautiful sunrise as we ran along the river.

Hector and I had discussed this race a few days earlier. "Melissa...this is NOT your "A" race. I do NOT want you pushing yourself too hard. Run in a zone where you are comfortable. If you start to feel some serious pain...WALK."

Pain? Pain is just a state of mind right? At least that's what the back of my running shirt said this morning. Its the only shirt I own that has an Ironman logo on it and does designate 70.3. It is that mindset that I believe gets you through. Endurance racing is MENTAL. You gotta wrap your head and your body around the miles.

Mile 1 to 7 were beautiful. I reached the turn around in 1:29. Ok..I know..for you hardcore running folks, this is slow. For me, its a miracle. My P.R. in the half marathon is 3:09. I was ahead of my best and feeling great. Mile 7 to 10 were a bit more of a challenge but I was still feeling fantastic. I was eating on my normal schedule, drinking at every water stop and REALLY having fun!! Isn't that what this is about.

At mile 10.5, it suddenly hit my hamstrings that I had not really trained in 3 weeks. A few short runs here and a few swims there didn't really prepare me to run a PR. I toyed with the idea of pushing hard...and then I remembered what Hector said....this is not your A race. This is a fun race. As hard as it was not to push forward, I dropped to a walk.

The Space Coast race route is a beautiful one. Winding along the Indian River, I started to really appreciate the sites of this course. You could see the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Space Center and the homes along the course were already decorated with lights for Christmas. The water stops were all space themed and the volunteers were delightful. Sometimes we get so caught up in P.R.'s, cut off times and race strategy that we forget the fun that is in endurance racing.

I wear an Ipod when I do marathons and I have a playlist of songs that inspire. Everything from hard pounding rock to songs with words that motivate. At mile 12, the song "Bring It On Home" by Little Big Town rung in my ears. My husband talked about this song as the perfect song to describe him waiting at the finish line. It brought tears to my eyes. My world has been focused on the finish line for a year. This wasn't the line I was hoping for but, for now, it was a finish that I needed to boost me up a bit. My iphone buzzed at that moment. It was my husband, cheering me on as he made his way back to Orlando. What interesting timing.

I rounded the corner into the park and there are my Team in Training crew...waiting as always for me to make it in. They were screaming and their cheers brought a smile to my face. How blessed I am to be a part of a great group of people who run for more than the joy of exercise and accomplishment. We run to raise awareness, money and hope for those battling cancer. Today was a fun day but we dedicated the race to a Team in Training teammate who has relapsed and is once again battling for his life. Doug Oxedine has done several seasons with Team in Training and is a fighter...he was on my mind as I ran across that finish line and looked at my watch.

3:23. Ok...for the world...this looks like I stopped for lunch along the way. For me, its the second fastest half marathon I have ever done. I was so caught up in the course and the people, I stopped looking at my watch after mile 10.5. I am so blessed to be able to do these kind of races now...just for fun. Who would have ever thought that would be possible just 10 years ago.

So for those battling cancer, specifically Doug, this race was for you. My prayer is that we won't have to raise money and run in honor or memory of cancer patients. I pray that soon, we will have the cure.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Amateur Night is upon us...


Ok...ok...the joke is old...but it is the honest truth. To those of us with compulsive overeating issues, Thanksgiving is Amateur night!! In years past, I have watched perfectly normal weighted, normal minded family members stuff themselves like the Thanksgiving bird on this holiday. My eyes widen with wonderment as they groan that they will "never eat like that again."

Really?? Never??


And Im Santa Claus...just wait for Mom's Prime Rib on Christmas Day.

All kidding aside, Thanksgiving is a challenge for those of us battling overeating and weight. Its tough. As we approach Turkey Day, it becomes more difficult to walk into a grocery store without getting blasted with the smell of cakes, pies and bread being made in the bakery or the multiple samples of food throughout the store. Believe it or not, those tastes along the route around the store add up...and not in a good way.

As I have said in a previous post, I am working on Thanksgiving but it comes with its own set of pitfalls. Last night, I was asked to bring a side dish and dessert for the day. The side dish was easy...Im making a spinach casserole that is fairly healthy but the dessert?? These folks are not the "fruit for dessert" type.

So I decided to make cookies. I always have my secret weapon at hand when making baked goods: chewing gum. If you are chomping away on gum, it makes it a little more difficult to taste or eat the cookies. When they are done, I am putting them over at a friend's house until I leave for work. That way: no temptations.

I am also running the Turkey Trot before I go to work. A nice 5k will help burn off some calories. Today was suppose to be my first outdoor running workout since Ironman, but it is pouring rain. Looks like the treadmill for now.

There is so much to be thankful for during this very special season. I love Thanksgiving because it makes you stop and think of all your blessings. I am thankful for a crazy but solid family, an amazing husband of 24 years, caring and real friends, a beautiful home and most of all...I am thankful for my life..and that I got a second chance to live it fully.

But my biggest blessing this year is one you might not see as a blessing at all. I am thankful for the opportunity to take another shot at Ironman and the challenge of losing the rest of this weight. Most would say I was cursed on Nov 7th. I say it was God's way of getting me on the right track to make a better me. What a wonderful journey this will be.

I hope you are counting your blessings and enjoying time with your family. Remember...its about the people..not the food ( can be a little bit about the food!!) Enjoy!!! Happy Thanksgiving...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The first weigh in...

One of my new friends at Weight Watchers said to me, "You're gonna BLOG your weight loss or gain??" I told her, "Yes...see then Ill be accountable to more than just my family.." She then told me she didn't know how she would feel about being accountable to "the world".

It's ok...I like that blogging world. This is me. This is my cheap therapy. And, from what I can tell, the people that read my blog are some of the nicest people in the world.

So I decided I needed the support of a group and the accountability that Weight Watchers provides. My doctor was ok with it as long as I keep a log of my food and I followed some of her requirements for my thyroid there I my first meeting. I had weighed in on my doctor's scale two weeks ago and knew the number I needed to beat. Heck, I went so far as to wear the same dress I wore to the doctor's office just to compare the two weighs. Hey...its like don't try anything new before the "big race"...go with what you know! :)

I get on the scale and closed my eyes. Just tell me when its over. She hands me a small book with a sticker in it with my weight on it and welcomes me back (Ive been here before in years past). I sat down and waited for the meeting to start. I wanted to look at the sticker to see what the outcome was....but you's that feeling in your gut when the teacher is passing out the graded final exams. Did I pass??

I did I pass :) To my absolute shock, I lost 6.5 pounds in two weeks. I closed the book then opened it again 4 more times. Is this possible?? Really??

The meeting began and the people were excited, positive and wonderful. The instructor was not the person I was hoping for but she was an absolute delight. Most of the discussion was about getting around Thanksgiving Day and not getting stuffed like the turkey. This year, I have to work at The Living Seas on Thanksgiving Day so the only obstacle I need to avoid during the day is the SPREAD during lunch. If I can make that hurdle, I should be fine.

Yesterday also marked my return to workouts with Hector. Strength training and a 3 mile walk/run woke the resting muscles back up and Im a little sore but it gave me a positive outlook.....

I know every week is not going to show a six pound loss, but its a great start....6.5 pounds down...39.5 pounds to go to my goal...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

First weigh in tomorrow

I think I would rather do a 100 mile bike/10 mile run brick than a weigh in. Seriously. That 4 seconds on the scale is a terrifying place for me. Absolutely terrifying.

It brings back some painful memories. The first time a doctor told my family I was obese...I was 6. My first serious diet of liquids only was at age 12. And of course..the big one...when they couldn't read my weigh at the doctor's office at age 23. I was over 320lbs and their scale simply didn't go that high. A lot of my memories revolve around that number on the scale.

I have had so many people "congratulate" me on my attempt at Ironman. "See how far you went", they would say. " I wouldn't even consider doing that" they would tell me. I appreciate these words so much and their kind positive comments are heartfelt and real. It has helped me get through the last few days...but the bottom line is simple..

I didn't finish...

I didn't finish two things. I didn't get to the finish line and I haven't gotten to my goal weight. My Gastric Bypass Doctor, Dr. Normal Samuels told me to be happy that I was still alive and well. I should be happy that I got to see another birthday...another year of life...and I am...losing roughly 200 pounds is an amazing thing...

But I didn't finish...

The one thing I don't want to make a pattern in my life is to NOT finish what I started. I started this weight loss journey on Dec. 1, 1998. I wrote a will, I gave permission to my husband to cut life support if necessary and I gave letters to each of my family members to read if I didn't make it. I MADE IT. The guy ahead me...DIDN'T. The woman that had the procedure the next day DIDN'T. I owe it to them. I owe it to finish damn it....I need to finish it ALL!!!

My husband says that I let the number on the scale DEFINE me..that I let it determine if I am going to have a good day or a bad day. There is truth to that statement but the bottom line remains...I have left this business undone...I have left two tasks unfinished. It is time to stop living in the past and focus on the positives of the future.

There is so much ahead of me. There is so much that I can give to others in this struggle if I can just get over this last hurdle. Come got it in ya. This is the thin girl inside screaming to get out.... You are almost there....just like the last two miles of the marathon. You have come so far. The last two miles are painful...but doable.

Lets see what the number says tomorrow....

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Race List...after Hector did A LOT of trimming

:) Ok folks...lots of people read my dream race list and sent me emails and comments saying everything from "are you nuts" to..."wow..that's a helluva season"!! I know I know...I went a little overboard but there are so many great races out there with so many cool destinations and SO MUCH can you NOT put together a huge list...and then cut it down to what's the list...AFTER Hector looked at it and thought I had completely lost my mind...and then cut it down to size!!

2009 Races
Nov 26, 2009 Turkey Trot
Nov 29, 2009 Space Coast Half Marathon

2010 Races
Jan 31, 2010 ING Half Marathon

Feb 28, 2010 Gasparilla Half Marathon

Mar 14, 2010 MIT Miami Triathlon-Olympic-B race

May 8th, 2010 Gulf Coast Triathlon-my A Race

June 7th, 2010 World's Most Beautiful Century Ride-Lake Tahoe

July 17th, 2010 Moss Park Triathlon-Sprint or Olympic

Sept 12, 2010 The Nation's Triathlon-Washington DC-B race

Oct. 4, 2010 Atlantic Coast Triathlon (my other A race) OR Ironman Miami 70.3 still up in the air

Nov. 2010... ..............

You'll notice that there is a big blank at the end of the year...there is a reason for that. I will be at Ironman Arizona and Ironman Florida. What happens at those races is still very up in the air. I guarantee I will be in line at one of them to register for 2011. Just not sure which one!!

So there is my year according to Hector!! what do you think???

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Dream Race List

Each year, I put together the "dream race list" which Hector, my trainer, proceeds to tear apart
and give me what he thinks I should and can do. So far, this is THE dream list!!

November 2009
26 Nov 2009 Turkey Trot 5k
29 Nov 2009 Space Coast Half Marathon

December 2009
12 Dec 2009 Reindeer Run 5k

January 2010
09 Jan 2010 Disney Half Marathon
10 Jan 2010 Disney Marathon
Yes...for some reason...I signed up for the Goofy Challenge...AGAIN
31 Jan 2010 ING Miami Half Marathon

February 2010
19 Feb 2010 Sara McLarty's Swim Camp-NTC-Clermont
28 Feb 2010 Gasparilla Half Marathon-Tampa

March 2010
05 March 2010 Princess Half Marathon-Disney
14 March 2010 MIT International Distance Triathlon
27 March 2010 Great Clermont Triathlon-Olympic or Sprint

April 2010
10 April 2010 Escape from Fort Desoto Tri-Tampa Bay Area Sprint Distance
11 April 2010 SuperFrog-US Navy Seal-Olympic Tri-Coronado CA
17 April 2010 Swim Miami-Open Water 5k or 10k swim-Miami FL
18 April 2010 Breakaway to Sugarloaf Bike-Clermont

May 2010
23 May 2010 Baldwin Park Triathlon

June 2010
June 7 2010 The World's Most Beautiful Ride-Lake Tahoe-Century Bike
June 26, 2010 Rock n Roll Marathon-Seattle WA

July 2010
17 July 2010 Moss Park Triathlon

August 2010
29 August 2010 Alcatraz Triathlon-San Francisco CA

Sept 2010
05 Sept 2010 Rock n Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon
12 Sept 2010 The Nation's Triathlon Wash. DC

October 2010
01 Oct 2010 Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon
17 Oct 2010 Ameliaman Olympic Distance Triathlon or Half Ironman Triathlon
30 Oct 2010 Ironman 70.3 Miami-Run as a Relay or run individually...still not sure..

November 2010
Volunteer at Ironman Florida
Volunteer at Ironman Arizona

This year will be focused on weight loss and the Half Ironman Distance until May and the Gulf Coast Triathlon. After that race, depending on how I do and how much weight I have lost at that point, I will make a determination about the way the rest of the year will go :) Please feel free to give me other ideas about races not listed or comment on the races listed here :)

A Card and a letter from people I don't know...

Blogging is pretty amazing!! I have had the honor and privilege of exchanging emails with people I have never met. Some ask me about triathlon, others ask me about what it was like to have a gastric bypass before it was approved and how I feel now while others ask me about my eating issues. I love these emails. So many people out in the cyber world who connect with some of the things I guys are amazing folks!!

But what I DIDN'T expect was snail mail...from people I have never met. I have lived in the same place for almost 17 years so its not shocking that someone found my address. I opened my mail today to find a beautiful card from a woman in read:


No matter what they matter what they do....BE YOU! You have inspired me so much in 2 years. I have gone from 300lbs to 125 thanks to a gastric bypass. Last weekend, I ran my first 5k..and I was exhausted. I thought to myself "How in the world can you do what you do...." Even the Half Ironman distance astonishes me. Please don't quit. You have a world of people cheering you on for your success...

Much love from Idaho....Amanda

And in the same mail...a letter...beautifully written on gorgeous paper from a woman in Texas...


You do not know me, my family or my life but you have made a huge impact in the way I think about goals. I read
your blog and I just had to send you something more than email. To me, the written word is so personal and I wanted
to share my thoughts somewhat "in person" with you.

3 years ago, I had a heart attack at 35. Doctors didn't give me any hope. They told me at 35 and 295lbs, things looked bad.
I decided to take a chance and get a gastric band. I followed my doctor's orders to the letter. I watched what I ate and
I started to exercise. I stumbled upon your blog when I searched for information about eating disorders and gastric banding
or bypass and there you were: going through a lot of the things I was experiencing.

I spent the last few weeks watching your blog and praying for your success. I cried when I read you did not achieve this goal that was so important to you but then I was inspired by your determination. You need to write a book.

I hope this letter finds you well and you will continue forward toward your dreams, whatever they may be. Keep writing, keep the positive thoughts and encouragement in your life and I know, without a doubt, that you will achieve all you hope for in your life.

I am now 38, 170lbs and in fairly good shape for the shape I am in. Thank you for helping me through the rough spots of my weight loss and my eating problems. You are an amazing lady.


And this is a rare moment folks...I am without words....I am speechless. For those that know me personally, they can tell you I always have a I do not. All I have are tears. Thank you Susan. Thank you Amanda. To anyone else that reads this...thank you. I am overwhelmed.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Journey...The Climb...The Addiction...The Line...

"You're an addict! " I heard one girl say to me in my meeting tonight. "You're addicted to food and exercise..." she said to me as if she were the 12 year old bully on the playground that I didn't give the time of day to as a child.

Ahhh the judgemental portion of our human race is so quick to become judge, jury and executioner. I just smiled and said "And you are entitled to your opinion...but I don't have to react to it, believe it or let it effect who I am." The leader of the group saw this person getting a little out of control. Later I was to learn she had a shot at being a collegiate runner...and her addiction destroyed her chances. Eating disorders are tough...they can rob you of your dreams.

You're an addict Melissa. Yup! No kidding. Took me a long time to admit I had a problem with food. The lines like "Oh I just like to eat" or "Its just stress...Ill lose the weight gain when my life calms down" came way to easy to explain my issues...but yeah..she's right. I gotta problem.

Ive had a problem since I was 12. I am now considered a recovering compulsive overeater. I walk the line and sometimes I stumble. As long as you get back up and get back to the good eating habits, its ok. You won't be perfect....but you can be consistent.

So today I started on a very long road of consistent behavior. This is the first honest sincere attempt I have made to get the last 30 to 40 lbs off my frame in several years. I have half heartedly started program to provide some "damage control" to my "stumbling problem" but never before has so much rested on my consistency in eating and weight loss. My husband was right. Just tell Melissa its impossible and watch her do all she can to prove you wrong. Just dangle that goal in front of her and she is like a horse to the carrot. God I want that carrot known as Ironman...I really really do.

I looked at the pictures from Ironman and I cringed. It still hurts a bit to know that that damn line escaped me again. I do feel a difference in me now as compared to last year. Last year the experience almost lead me to giving up the sport all together. This year, my DNF made me more determined.

For some, this goal is easy. Train, race, cross the line. For me, its been a journey like no other....and damn it...Im gonna finish it somehow.

Watching my footing as I climb...and stumble to that weight loss always..Ill keep you posted.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What we will do for a dream...

It feels insanely weird to be home...and to wake up at a normal hour and not be headed off to go swim, bike or run. My trainer told me to take about 10 days off and let my mind, emotions and body have a rest. My hubby and I were suppose to go to Paris a few days ago (gosh its fun to be married to an airline just go to the airport and see what flight you can get on) but the weather there has been horrible. We decided, instead for a few days in South Florida and a short cruise.

We went shopping yesterday for a few clothes and as I walked in to our favorite mall, I realized that it had been ages since I spent a day to go shopping. Wow, how wonderful it was to have lunch, look around, try on clothes and buy a new outfit. "Welcome back to the real world honey" my husband told me.

The real world is really nice...but I ache a little inside for that soreness in the legs from a long workout or the feeling of that afternoon nap after a long workout on a Saturday morning. As the off season comes on and the holidays arrive, in the back of my mind sits the vision of that finish line. More unfinished business.

I went to my doctor early yesterday and I told him I had had enough. I have GOT to get a grip on my weight and somehow make it through the holidays without putting on 20lbs. He referred me IMMEDIATELY to physician who specializes in obesity weight loss and nutrition. She actually took me that morning (guess its a slow time before "new year's resolutions) and I told her that I have done everything I could to lose weight and about my thyroid issues. I also told her that I was losing hope that I would ever be smaller than this. I don't want to give up on my dream....but losing more weight seems almost as difficult than making the cut offs at Ironman.

She was EXTREMELY kind. She spent 45 minutes with me discussing options. I told her I was suppose to be on vacation now but I am ready to get to work next Monday. I want that sense of hope to return to me. I want that feeling that all is possible. She told me that she would do all she could to help me, monitor me and keep me on track. She did a full panel of bloodwork, gave me an eating program to follow, changed my thyroid medication (again) and made another appointment 7 days after I start and she will see me weekly. She also recommended that I return to OA (Overeater's Annoymous) meetings on a weekly basis and go back to seeing my therapist.

She equated it to racing. She told me that if I spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars on a bike, shoes, clothes and other gear to get to the Ironman finish line, why wouldn't I do the same to make me well, healthy and happy. She told me I had come this far, that it was time to complete the job.

One more diet. I get so motivated for one more diet and I usually fall on my face and fail. How do I NOT do that this time? My husband thinks that dangling that Ironman medal before me just might be the thing that finally gets me to my goal weight.

Can I really do this??

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The third time is the charm...

We learn wisdom from failure more than from success; we often discover what will do by finding out what will not do.
- Samuel Smiles

I think one of the hardest things for a person to do is to admit when they have reached a roadblock that they can not cross unless some things are changed. Today, I met that roadblock head on when I did not complete my Ironman.

Some will view me as a failure. Some will tell me I am simply too old to be doing this (Im 46). My parents told me tonight that this was "utterly ridiculous" and a "man's sport" and I had no business doing it. Others saw my attempt as brave and powerful and a move to celebrate being a lighter, healthier person than I was 11 years ago.

I won't lie. It hurt more to have my parents tell me those things than it did for them to remove my chip when I did not make the biking time cut off. When you ride 112 miles, you have plenty of time to think. As I turned into a blustery windy course here in Panama City, i knew the bike course would be a challenge. I did my best. It was not enough.

When failure comes, you must sit back and analyse why. In my belief, you also have to sit back and figure out what you have learned from this and what is my higher power's plan for me?

I learned so much this year. I pushed my body to places I never dreamed possible. I believe I became a more mentally strong individual. So many positives came from this even though I am not an Ironman.

The one thing I know for an absolute fact is that I MUST lose some more weight if I am to attempt Ironman again. People are kinda shocked when i talk about being lighter and my obesity but its kinda like my favorite author, Randy Pausch talking about his cancer before he past away. He would always say "Let me introduce you to the "elephant" in the room" You know everyone is whispering about my cancer, so lets talk about it so you understand where the cancer patient is coming from.

So the compulsive overeating gastric bypass patient KNOWS that most people look at me and go "there is no way that will happen"...and today they were right. Today was not my day. I know now what my limits are and I know what needs to be accomplished to achieve them. I have some work to do and I head into that work unafraid.

Let them talk if they want. Let them laugh if they will. Lots of people laugh at those who put it out there and fail but i refuse to be swayed. The one thing my parents DID raise is a fighter. I plan to get some more work done and come back one more time to attempt this race....but not until 2011. This will give me time to complete those intermediate goals.

The third time is the charm....

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Race Day..

Good morning....its 407am and its time to get it done!! Windy but pretty....I will keep you posted!!! My prayer is in 19 hours I will be logging on and saying that I am an Ironman!!! As always...Ill keep you posted!!! Pray for me its time to just perform!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Like my Daddy says...

Its time to put up....or shut up...

Lots of talk. Lots of blood, sweat and tears in the last 24 months. Two DNF's and two P.R.'s. Lots and lots of ups and downs...but now it comes down to the simple truth....its time to DO...

That "bank account" Ive been filling with hours and hours of swims, bikes and runs is waiting for one withdrawal on Nov. 7th. I honestly believe with all my heart that I have done everything that this body could do to get prepared for this race. I take comfort in that knowledge. I no longer sit up at night worrying about the race. Its very simple. I either believe in myself and leave ALL OF IT on the course...or I don't.

The pendulum is swinging back to the positive for me. More and more I see myself crossing that finish line with time to spare. I have had a few dreams now of that moment...and the negative thoughts have started to depart my head.

I sat outside on my pool deck the other night and had a long talk with the guy upstairs. I got this calmness over me that felt like I should know that it would all be ok. I guess I have truly put this race into his hands now. Im just going to go out there and put my heart and soul and body into it.

Bags are packed. I just have to load the car in the morning, finish morning boot camp classes and then myself and my training partner, Rick, will be on the road at 930am. Let the adventure begin!! As always, Ill keep you posted!!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

My Love...My Rock...My Husband

This month, on Nov. 16th, my husband and I will celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary. It is hard for me to believe that we have been married that long. It feels like it was yesterday that we met, and the years have flown by.

Im sure, however, my husband would agree that this has been a challenging year. I don't think people take into account how much support an Ironman athlete needs from their family to accomplish this goal. I guess for some, it isn't that difficult but I can tell you that I don't believe I would be where I am right now if it weren't for the support of my husband.

There were times this year where I was too tired to cook or grocery shop ( I don't cook well...but I can make a mean sandwich!!) and he took care of those things. There were times he would ask me to do something and I would simply forget from fatigue. I have missed a lot of fun time with him over these months..and remember...he has done this for TWO years...not just one. We went through the training for Ironman in 2008 and he agreed to help me do this again when I DNF'ed. This has truly been a journey.

I made the promise that, no matter what happens this year, you would not find me in line for registration for 2010. Next year is our 25th anniversary and we plan to spend it doing what we love the most: flying and traveling. For 20 years, I was a travel agent and my love of seeing the world was sparked by parents who have traveled extensively..and have been around the world. Its very important that I reconnect with the the things that my husband and I enjoy together.

He has been the most amazing support crew anyone could hope for. When I feel in love with the Cervelo, he got it for me. When I wanted to go to Panama City on my birthday to train instead of going somewhere exotic, he agreed. He has given up a a lot during these months and it makes me wonder...

Shouldn't they give medals to the supportive family too??

I think he deserves that...and a lot more...

Thank you honey...I wouldn't be headed to this start line..and finish line without you...

The tale of 3 coaches

As I approach Ironman Florida 2009, it is a time I look back and see how I got to this moment in my life. I didn't get to the point of being able to do 140.6 miles on my own. It took guidance, experience, knowledge, passion, caring and, sometime A LOT of patience to put up with an athlete who didn't come from a talented athletic background. These three guys I credit with where I came from...and where I am headed.

In 2000, I told my friend, Rick Stafford, that I was considering a Danskin triathlon. At that time, I really didn't think it was possible. A 400 yard swim, a 10 mile bike and a 3 mile run seemed simply impossible for someone at 250lbs. Rick saw the triathlon as a great possibility in my life and agreed to train me. After 5 months, I crossed the line of my first triathlon and gained a friend, a training partner and a wonderful caring coach.

Fast forward to 2003 when I had 10 sprint distance triathlons under my belt and I had decided to move up in the world. I found the organization known as Team in Training who helped people train for their first marathon, triathlon or century ride. I decided to go from sprint distance to olympic but knew I couldn't do it by myself. Meanwhile, my godson had been diagnosed with Leukemia and Team in Training was the perfect avenue. My first Olympic Distance Coach was Clint Carbonneau who was incredibly patient and knowledgeable. He believed in the team concept and that no participant was left behind. I was often last in all our training but he was persistent and consistent and helped me complete my first St. Anthony's and Memphis in May Olympic Distance Triathlons.

There were many that believed that anything beyond an Olympic Distance triathlon was simply not an option for a plus size athlete to acheive. I actually had a trainer at one point agree to train me to do a Half Ironman and then turn around a week later and told me it was impossible. I thanked her for her time and moved on but still had the burning desire to complete a Half Ironman. I trained with an online coach for awhile but it just wasn't the same as having someone face to face.

I entered a difficult race in Clermont called Tri America and met my 3rd coach. I was on the course in a HAIL STORM (yes you read that right) and was struggling with some hills. I had already crashed my bike once at this point when I heard this person encouraging me to my left . "Keep your front wheel straight...keep your feet can do this...its just a little farther." And so was my first meeting with Hector Torres. He believed that I could do anything I put my mind to ...and helped me complete not one but 4 half Ironmans.

Hector was there when I DNF'ed my Ironman last year with compassion and an Iron fist. He was NOT going to give me an out. He let me lick my wounds for awhile and then helped me realize my potential. As we sat down this week to discuss the race, he reminded me of how far I have come and that I am stronger now than I have ever been. He told me that this is my race, my day, my dream to realize.

That is all true...but one point remains. If it were not for the belief of these three men and their expertise in the sport, I would have never made it to this point. I thank each of them for what they have done for me and for their experience in this sport. Without them, I would not be where I am. I am blessed beyond measure.

Rick and Hector will be racing Ironman Florida this week. It gives me great comfort knowing that they will be there to cheer me on. Coach Clint will be home watching on the computer as I attempt to make this Ironman dream come true. Thank you are very very special people and you all mean the world to me!!

1 week from today...

Its 430am and I can't sleep. I don't start my swim workout this morning until 745am and it was the perfect opportunity to get some extra rest but here I am WIDE AWAKE. I guess my head is a week ahead. One week from right now I will be eating breakfast, getting dressed and getting ready. I know that I will get out of bed and head outside to see the conditions. Praying for calm seas, no wind, no rain and cool temps.

What a long strange trip it has been. I have had well wishes from around the world including people from Canada, Thailand, the UAE and Germany. A friend of mine posted my Youtube video from last year on her blog and told my story and now I have an international cheering squad. I was overwhelmed and humbled. To everyone who has written me via email and Facebook, thank you. You have no idea how much your kind words mean to me.

I have spent my taper looking back at my training and reliving moments. I remember my first 60 mile bike. I came home and thought "If I feel like this after can I accomplish 112". I remember those run workouts at 430 and 500am because it was just too hot to do them later. I recall the endless laps in the pool...the morning swims at Lucky's Lake and the strength training sessions with Hector. I was almost sad the other morning when I realized that I was attending my final bike trainer session before Ironman. I will miss the Downtown Y gym and the multitudes of bikes, trainers, and people working hard to get to their goal.

Did I just say I would miss that training?? I remember when all I wanted was for it just to taper so I could rest. Ahhh rest...yes...sleep is something I really need. For now, I think I will head back to bed for another hour of much needed sleep.
As always, I will keep you posted!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Vision of things to come...

I have the joy of being on several triathlon websites that provide great information and a sense of community in all things that relate to the sport and specifically Ironman. A person who reads my blog sent me this narrative about my race. He has raced dozens of Ironman triathlons and knew that I am a bit nervous about my race in 8 days. I believe he captures the emotions, pain, joy and passion that is Ironman. Enjoy...
Right now you've all entered the taper. Perhaps you've been at this a few months, perhaps you've been at this a few years. For some of you this is your first IM, for others, a long-overdue welcome back to a race that few can match.

You've been following your schedule to the letter. You've been piling on the mileage, piling up the laundry, and getting a set of tan lines that will take until next year to erase. Long rides were followed by long runs, which both were preceded by long swims, all of which were followed by recovery naps that were longer than you slept for any given night during college.

You ran in the dark.
You rode in the rain.
You ran in the heat.
You ran in the cold.

You went out when others stayed home.
You rode the trainer when others pulled the covers over their heads.

You have survived the Darwinian progression that is an Ironman summer, and now the hardest days are behind you. Like a climber in the Tour de France coming over the summit of the penultimate climb on an alpine stage, you've already covered so much ground...there's just one more climb to go. You shift up, you take a drink, you zip up the jersey; the descent lies before you...and it will be a fast one.

Time that used to be filled with never-ending work will now be filling with silent muscles, taking their final, well-earned rest. While this taper is something your body desperately needs, your mind cast off to the background for so very long, will start to speak to you.

It won't be pretty.

It will bring up thoughts of doubt, pain, hunger, thirst, failure, and loss. It will give you reasons why you aren't ready. It will try and make one last stand to stop you, because your brain doesn't know what the body already does. Your body knows the truth:

You are ready.

Your brain won't believe it. It will use the taper to convince you that this is foolish - that there is too much that can go wrong.

You are ready.

Finishing an Ironman is never an accident. It's the result of dedication, focus, hard work, and belief that all the long runs in January, long rides in March, and long swims every damn weekend will be worth it. It comes from getting on the bike, day in, day out. It comes from long, solo runs. From that first long run where you wondered, "How will I ever be ready?" to the last long run where you smiled to yourself with one mile to go...knowing that you'd found the answer.

It is worth it. Now that you're at the taper, you know it will be worth it. The workload becomes less. The body winds up and prepares, and you just need to quiet your worried mind. Not easy, but you can do it.

You are ready.

You will walk into the water with 2500 other wide-open sets of eyes. You will look upon the sea of humanity, and know that you belong. You'll feel the chill of the water crawl into your wetsuit, and shiver like everyone else, but smile because the day you have waited for so VERY long is finally here.

You will tear up in your goggles. Everyone does.

The helicopters will roar overhead.
The splashing will surround you.

You'll stop thinking about Ironman, because you're now racing one.

The swim will be long - it's long for everyone, but you'll make it. You'll watch as the shoreline grows and grows, and soon you'll hear the end. You'll come up the beach and head for the wetsuit strippers. Three people will get that sucker off before you know what happening, then you’ll head for the bike.

The voices, the cowbells, and the curb-to-curb chalk giving you a hero's sendoff can't wipe the smile off your face.

You'll settle down to your race. The crowds will spread out on the road. You'll soon be on your bike, eating your food on your schedule, controlling your Ironman.

You'll start to feel that morning sun turn to afternoon sun. It's warmer now. Maybe it's hot. Maybe you're not feeling so good now. You'll keep riding. You'll keep drinking. You'll keep moving. After all, this is just a long training day with valet parking and catering, right?

You'll put on your game face, fighting the urge to feel down as you ride for what seems like hours. You reach special needs, fuel up, and head out.

By now it'll be hot. You'll be tired. Doubts will fight for your focus. Everyone struggles here. You've been on that bike for a few hours, and stopping would be nice, but you won't - not here. Not today.

You'll grind the false flats to the climb. You'll know you're almost there. You'll fight for every inch of road. The crowd will come back to you here. Let their energy push you. Let them see your eyes. Smile when they cheer for you - your body will get just that little bit lighter.


You'll plunge down the road, swooping from corner to corner, chaining together the turns, tucking on the straights, letting your legs recover for the run to come - soon! You'll roll back - you'll see people running out. You'll think to yourself, "Wasn't I just here?" The noise
will grow. The chalk dust will hang in the air - you're back, with only 26.2 miles to go. You'll relax a little bit, knowing that even if you get a flat tire or something breaks here, you can run the damn bike into T2.

You'll roll into transition. 100 volunteers will fight for your bike. You'll give it up and not look back. You'll have your bag handed to you, and into the tent you'll go. You'll change. You'll load up your pockets, and open the door to the last long run of your Ironman summer - the one that counts.

You'll take that first step of a thousand...and you'll smile. You'll know that the bike won't let you down now - the race is down to your own two feet. The same crowd that cheered for you in the shadows of the morning will cheer for you in the brilliant sunshine of a summer Sunday. High-five people on the way out. Smile. Enjoy it. This is what you've worked for all year long.

That first mile will feel great. So will the second. By mile 3, you probably won't feel so good.

That's okay. You knew it couldn't all be that easy. You'll settle down just like you did on the bike, and get down to your pace. You'll see the leaders coming back the other way. Some will look great - some won't. You might feel great, you might not. No matter how you feel, don't panic - this is the part of the day where whatever you're feeling, you can be sure it won't last.

You'll keep moving. You'll keep drinking. You'll keep eating. Maybe you'll be right on plan - maybe you won't. If you're ahead of schedule, don't worry - believe. If you're behind, don't panic - roll with it. Everyone comes up with a brilliant race plan for Ironman, and then everyone has to deal with the reality that planning for something like Ironman is like trying to land a man on the moon. By remote control. Blindfolded.

How you react to the changes in your plan will dictate your day. Don't waste energy worrying about things - just do what you have to when you have to, and keep moving. Keep eating. Keep drinking. Just don't sit down - don't EVER sit down.

You'll make it to the halfway point. You'll load up on special needs. Some of what you packed will look good, some won't. Eat what looks good, toss the rest. Keep moving. Start looking for people you know. Cheer for people you don't. You're headed in - they're not. They want to be
where you are, just like you wanted to be when you saw all those fast people headed into town. Share some energy - you'll get it right back.

Run if you can.
Walk if you have to.
Just keep moving.

The miles will drag on. The brilliant sunshine will yawn. You'll be coming up to those aid stations fully alive with people, music, and chicken soup. TAKE THE SOUP. Keep moving.

You'll soon only have a few miles to go. You'll start to believe that you're going to make it. You'll start to imagine how good it's going to feel when you get there. Let those feelings drive you on. When your legs just don't want to move anymore, think about what it's going to be like when someone catches you…and puts a medal over your head... all you have to do is get there.

You'll start to hear the people in town. People you can't see in the twilight will cheer for you. They'll call out your name. Smile and thank them. They were there when you left on the bike, and when you came back, and when you left on the run, and now when you've come back.

You'll enter town. You'll start to realize that the day is almost over. You'll be exhausted, wiped out, barely able to run a 10-minute mile (if you're lucky), but you'll ask yourself, "Where did the whole day go?" You'll be standing on the edge of two feelings - the desire to finally stop, and the desire to take these last moments and make them last as long as possible.

You'll hit mile 25. Your Ironman will have 1.2 miles - just 2KM left in it.

You'll run. You'll find your legs. You'll fly. You won't know how, but you will run. The lights will grow brighter, brighter, and brighter. Soon you'll be able to hear the music again. This time, it'll be for keeps.

Soon they'll see you. Soon, everyone will see you. You'll run towards the lights, between the fences, and into the night sun made just for you.

They'll say your name.
You'll keep running.
Nothing will hurt.

The moment will be yours - for one moment, the entire world will be looking at you and only you.

You'll break the tape at the finish line, 140.6 miles after starting your journey. The flash will go off.

You'll stop. You'll finally stop. Your legs will wobble their last, and capable of nothing more.

Someone will catch you.
You'll lean into them.

It will suddenly hit you.


You are ready.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"You can choose differently"

Being someone that has battled morbid obesity, it should not surprise you that I watch the Biggest Loser religiously. I find the people, the stories and the competition inspiring and fascinating. These people come from a world that I understand. It is a place where food can take over as the ruler of all. It is where food is not for nourishment but for comfort, companionship and a way to fill a void.

The person who was voted off tonight was named Abby. She had a story prior to coming to the show that would break your heart. She lost her ENTIRE family: husband, toddler and newborn to a man traveling at over 100 mph. Her world was stolen from her in the blink of an eye and she decided to use food for comfort. Who could blame her. What a horrible and painful loss. I don't think anyone who hasn't been in those shoes could comprehend the pain. She, however, decided to make a change...she decided to live life .... she decided to "choose differently".

Several years ago, I also made that choice. Instead of using food as a drug, I decided to use it as a tool and a partner in reaching a goal. I decided to make peace with the demons that pushed me to the compulsion to eat. I decided to face them all head on and say "no more."

That does not mean that I am perfect. That does not mean that there have not been times that the whispers of my past life have not haunted me and had me return to old behaviors...but living and surviving and recovering from that compulsion is not about being perfect...its about being consistent.

And so is the life and pursuit of a dream known as Ironman. Its not about being perfect. Its about being consistent. Its about seeing the dream that lies before you and going forward in pursuit of that dream. Its not going to be won't even be pretty...but it will be the purest form of belief in the world. It will be someone setting aside fear and going for what they think is a worthwhile goal. My husband tells me that simply standing on the start line is a victory in itself.....and in part I agree....but I have made the choice to "choose differently"...I have chosen to think, believe and race with the vision, the passion and the goal to be an Ironman. This is my race. This is my dream. This is my day...

Meet Racer number 94....a future Ironman in 11 days!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Racing in the crosswalk

I had a mini brick workout to do today...a 90 min. bike followed by a 90 min. run. A few years ago, this would have been an EPIC workout for me. Now, after months of 5 hour bike rides and 16 mile runs, this seemed basic. My husband was headed off to work today after being home for several days and I wanted to rearrange my workout so it would fall AFTER he left at 11am. We awoke to a coolish and less humid morning so my hubby and I drank coffee, had breakfast and enjoyed the morning.

Since the bike was shorter than usual, I decided to ride a few loops in my neighborhood. I live just 5 minutes from downtown Orlando in an area known as College Park which is known for its beautiful tree lined streets in the heart of an urban landscape. My loop is 8 miles including a street that runs next to our HUGE Florida Hospital complex. As I enjoyed the safety of bike lanes for half the ride loop, the other half along this complex is in traffic. Sunday afternoon traffic volume was low so it made it easy to keep a good speed.

As I made my way down Orange Ave, I saw the crosswalk countdown clock and I couldn't help myself. As the numbers came up, I sprinted for the crosswalk before the red hand would appear. Sometimes the countdown clock would start at 10..others at 14...but each time, I made a point to go fast enough to make that line...that cut off...that moment.

Maybe in my head, I am racing to make the bike cut off or even make the finish line , or the wonderful metaphor for life that that countdown clock represents. We are all racing that countdown clock in some way or another. Everyday is a gift but when I saw those crosswalks over and over again as I did those loops, it kept driving home the fact that you gotta live each day...each hour...each minute.

12 days left until Ironman...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ive Decided...

Just two weeks and a few hours away from Ironman...and Ive made a few decisions...

** To be EXCITED instead of afraid

**To be MOTIVATED instead of intimidated

**To CELEBRATE the ability to walk/run miles...unlike years ago where walking blocks was a challenge

**To CELEBRATE that I have raised more than $12,000.00 for cancer research. Of all the excitement surrounding Ironman, this is the part that tickles me the most!

** Above all...Have Fun!! Im not going to be standing on ANY podium or be packing my bags for Kona. I am racing against ME and my watch :)

I could worry about the wind, and the cold water or the cold temperatures but I can't control these things. I can prepare for them. I can show up with the items that will make me comfortable in light of those things but in the end, I will wake up Nov. 7th 2009 and look out the window and, as the legal world says it :govern myself accordingly.

I plan to thank LOTS of volunteers!! I plan to put a grin on my face like Chrissie Wellington. I will try very hard to remember that there will be low spots...but they will pass and things will improve if you give them a little time and a bit of effort.

Just like the analogy from weeks before...Im not trying to be Babe Ruth standing on home plate and calling my shot..but I have decided to Love the game and enjoy every second!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Carpe Diem

... Sieze the Day...

I know. This phrase has been used until it's worn and tattered. The motivational speaker set has beaten it's powerful meaning into submission. If, however, you look at the TRUE definition of the might be more inspired...

Used as an admonition to seize the pleasures of the moment without concern for the future.

Such an admonition.

[Latin : carpe, seize + diem, day.]

Now that's what my day should be at Ironman. Seizing the PLEASURES OF THE MOMENT. After the months of training and the races I have completed, I understand that you can not look at the ENTIRE race as a whole. It WILL make you nuts. But to live in the moment and enjoy every live the dream in each mile that is accomplished...that is truly a day that is seized.

I have a magnet on my refrigerator that says it all:

What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail??

I am still not completely sure why Ironman became so powerful and important in my life except that I often look at that quote and know that this race should be approached with respect for the course...but the fear must be squelched. Fear is negative. Fear has its purpose but it can swallow you up and leave you empty handed.

I was working at the Living Seas at Epcot yesterday and one my fellow Divemasters asked me...."Don't you get afraid swimming out that far in the ocean?" I then asked him "Don't you get afraid diving 100 feet or more in the ocean with a limited air supply?" It's all the way you approach it in your mind. Yes, 140.6 miles is a daunting task. Yes, 17 hours of perpetual motion is hard to fathom. A swim in the ocean, a bike around rural North Florida and a run in a State Park...reasonable...doable.

Needless to say, the run of the Ironman is my scary place. Im not built like a runner...but in my mind...Im Kenyan!! In my head, I am going to speed through two laps and enjoy the view of a beautiful state park at sunset. I can't think about the pain or watch the clock. I gotta take each mile and make it my focus. If I can do that 26 times...I think I can get that .2.

With about 2 weeks to Ironman, I am running around like a crazy person trying to get things packed and prepared but in my head, I am getting ready to Seize my day. This is my day. Between myself and the guy upstairs, we decide how it will turn out...I have made the decision to be an Ironman

I hope you Seize Your matter what your goal may be...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Entering Taper Phase...

This is the time I have been looking forward to for weeks!! Finally!! After a 2:30 hour run tomorrow, I will be in taper...

What is taper you might ask?? It's when your workouts are reduced down to what looks like normal levels. Instead of doing 25 hours of workout a'll be doing 13 to 15. I have been wishing for the phase for months but it does come with some things that can trip you up:

1. OVERDOING IT EVERYWHERE ELSE: The idea of taper is to let the body rest a little bit and recover from the big mileage that it has done over the last couple of weeks. If you take on the task of .. lets say .. cleaning out your attic like I did last year, you probably won't get the recovery that you need. I went nuts last year cleaning my house and getting things ready for a garage sale I planned for after Ironman. This year I really plan to USE TAPER to do just and get ready for one of the longest days of my life.

2. OVEREATING: your body has been use to burning all these calories and now you are reduce the number of calories you are burning by reducing your workouts. What happens? Well, for a triathlete with an eating disorder, it can be a recipe for disaster. Last year, I put on 5 pounds before my Ironman simply from nervous eating. I am conscious of that this year and will be reducing my calories and not stress eating (or at least keeping the stress eating under some control).

3. THINKING TOO MUCH ABOUT WHAT IS TO COME: Oh heck, I already do this..but in taper, its worse. My outlet for race jitters has always been a long bike or a long swim (running is just not fun for me) but with the reduction of hours, the mind starts to play games. I have read a couple of books about the mental game of Endurance racing and I am hoping that it will help me.

4. THE TEMPTATIONS TO TRY SOMETHING NEW FOR THE RACE: I think everyone-from sprint triathletes to marathon runners alike might think the new socks, the new seat on a bike or the new bike shoes might be a better choice and help on race day but you gotta go with what works.

Why am I writing all these things down if I already know them?? To remind myself of the mistakes in my past. I need to learn from them and use them to make this race THE RACE of my life!!

This morning was my final longish bike ride. I awoke to cool temperatures which was a welcomed entrance of fall after 95 degree heat the weekends before. The wind was pretty strong but I almost welcomed being a little chilly as I headed out on the trail today. I was happy and sad in the same moment. This is it. We are so close now.

After my ride, I headed into one of my favorite triathlon stores in Winter Garden called "Tri n Run" ( If you live in this area and have not experienced Tammy and Jerry's fine expertise and service, I highly recommend it!! As I entered, I saw several friends who gave me big hugs and one of my favorite Ironman triathlete, Jane, who works at the store. My friend, Leny, introduced me to her friends as an Ironman. I shook my head but Jane nodded yes. Just a few more days Melissa, and you will hear Mike Reilly say " Melissa Daly...You are an Ironman!"

"Oh Jane...I said...from your mouth to God's ears!!"

Friday, October 16, 2009

21 days

21 days...3 weeks until we take all that I have done in the past 12 months and hit the road in Panama City Beach.

21 days....thats

504 hours


30, 240 minutes


1, 815, 104 seconds

Why the specific breakdown? Because now time is critical. How I spend these next 3 weeks makes a lot of difference. I am exhausted. I think my body is just saying enough already. I am so ready for taper you have no idea!! My trainer gave me two days off this week because I told him the only thing I wanted to do is sleep.

This weekend should be the final long ride and long run before the race. There are alot of things I need to fine tune this weekend like...making the final decision on what I am going to wear, the final determination of nutrition for the run etc. My mental training is also very important now. I have been having dreams that I am late for the finish line and I don't know how to change what I dream. I am trying very hard to be positive but we all know this is going to be an uphill battle.

When I left Amelia Island, I was in the car with my husband after the race and I started to cry. It was the very FIRST time in my life that DEEP DOWN I felt I could complete Ironman. I walked off that course feeling like I had more gas in the tank if I had to continue (but honestly...I was glad as hell I was headed to an ice bath and a glass of wine). It was a moment I wish I could reach out and capture again.

Taper madness I guess is starting early with me. I remember how I was last year. I went crazy cleaning the house and such but this year it is different. I am really focused on this race. Maybe too focused but I am trying to remind myself that this is a hobby and its suppose to be fun.

The one thing that does bring me a sense of peace is just putting the race in God's hands. I am not outwardly religious...I believe you could call me deeply spiritual. I believe that, in the end, he will decide as long as I put out 110% of me and my effort. I just gotta go out there and put it all on the course. As my husband told me "Go out there honey and give it everything you got...we will be there to sponge up what's left of you". Kind of a gross metaphor...but it works :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

And who are you racing for??

The power of a memory is a strong force. Christian, my godson, shown above was a huge Star Wars fan. He was only 6 when he was diagnosed with Leukemia. What a hard thing to explain to a six year old but his parents did a good job of letting him know what he was up against. He decided to view cancer as Darth Vader or "the dark side"...and he was the Jedi Knight who would battle and win the fight. He believed in "the force".

This time...the Rebel Legion didn't win...but his bravery to this day inspires me. He died at age 8 with his last words being "I wanna live forever."

And he does. In every person who races for Team in Training. For anyone who works for a cause to eradicate cancer from this world, Christian lives in you. He lives in me and on Nov. 7th-thats the guy for which I am racing.

Christian loved legos. In his hospital room, he would pass the time building Star Wars characters and ships from Legos. They were incredible masterpieces. On Nov. 7th, in my emergency bike kit, Ill carry one more piece of equipment-a green lego with his name on it. This isn't so much a good luck charm as it is a symbol of someone who fought a valiant fight.

I race to celebrate those that live on. My father beat Prostate Cancer and Lung Cancer in the same year. Its been almost 7 years now and he is cancer free. My father in law was another Prostate Cancer survivor-yet another fighter in the fight.

If there is anything that will get me to the line on Nov. 7th, its that face and the faces of my loved ones who have battled and won!!


Comparing Notes..

On Tuesday mornings at 5am, I have participated in a bike training session with the Central Florida Tri Club at the Downtown Orlando Y. My trainer, Hector, leads this 60 to 80 minute workout that leaves the team of 40 to 60 triathletes sweaty and breathless. Getting up at 4am is a struggle sometimes, especially on a day I don't have to be at my fitness business. Its an amazing work week workout.

Today was unique, however, as I actually got to chat with some of the other people in the group that are doing Ironman Florida. This team is pretty experienced and we even have members of Team USA in our ranks so for someone like me to be working out with these can be a little intimidating.

What I found out is...most of them have gone through a lot of the same things I have experienced. I spoke to my friend Kim, who had been out for a week ill. That happened to me early in the season. I spoke to my friend Shannon who's husband is just very tired of all the training-and mine is just ready for all this to be over. I heard about mental meltdowns during the bike, bike trails that were so mentally challenging that some would prefer to sit on a bike trainer for 6 hours instead of doing that trail and suddenly it hit me..

What I have been going through is not unique. Even some of these experienced, talented FAST athletes are in the same boat.

I walked away from this morning's session feeling pretty good about my Ironman journey when I realized that its a struggle for ANYONE who attempts this race. It's good to know that it's not just me in the fight!!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Feeling the Fear and doing it anyway

28 days. I remember when it was 200+ days to Ironman and now we are down to less than a month. Just thinking about the race brings the butterflies to my stomach and makes my heart beat a little faster. The swim start, the rush to make the cut offs are all very real to me now. The fear is very real as well.

But I have learned in the past couple of years that you feel the fear and move forward anyway. I have stood at the start line of many a race with this overwhelming fear to walk away but have pressed forward and achieved my goals.

Ironman presents a lot of time hurdles for me. Instead of looking at the all as one big race, I have sliced them down into section. Each section that is achieved will be a victory for me. Making the swim cut off last year was huge and I have even saved the pictures from the moment I came out of the swim with the biggest smile. I looked at the photographer (who is a friend of mine) and put up the 1 finger...and said "1 down..2 to go".

Next will be making all the bike cut offs. At Ironman Florida, there are some additional cut offs beyond the 515pm deadline so to make each of those will be a victory. Ultimately, I want to be in way before the 515pm cutoff.

And finally...the magical number is 16:59:59. That how long I have before I turn into a pumpkin and would no longer be consider an Ironman. I saw a t shirt recently that said "16:59:59-The time it takes to reach the promise land".

I wish I could calm this fear but right now its huge. I am doing a century ride Saturday and a half marathon Sunday. This should be some of the final major training before Nov. 7th. Never in my life have I wanted to overcome fear and completing a journey more than this!!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The most beautiful words in the English Language: Personal Record

"One part at a time, one day at a time, we can accomplish any goal we set for ourselves."
Karen Casey, from Achievement of a Life Goal

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009-The day I met my husband 28 years ago ended up being the day I had been waiting and hoping for. Today was my breakthrough day.

I awoke from a great night's sleep. I stretched and took inventory of the aches and pains that training for an Ironman can leave. I felt very few. A smile crossed my lips. See, that is already a good sign.

My hubby slumbered as I prepared my oatmeal, 1/2 of banana and coffee. I retrieved the body glide out of my cosmetic bag (and it was at this moment I realized that I am truly a triathlon junkie if I carry body glide in my cosmetic case), and started hitting the important body parts. With those important tasks completed, I was up, dressed and on my way out the door with Rick in tow. It was 525am

We grabbed the car and headed to the venue. I was concerned that parking would be a problem but i dropped Rick off with the tri bags as close as I could then found a spot just 2 blocks away. I walked back to transition and my brain was in overdrive. Over and over in my head I was saying "Today is your're strong, you're trained, you're ready, it's YOUR race". Over and over.

I set my transition area, talked to my "bike rack neighbor" who's last name was the same as mine and then jumped into the short port a potty line. Had a wonderful conversation with the nicest triathletes as we discussed the great conditions.

The water was warm AND wetsuit legal but as before, I wore my Blue Seventy Swim Skin. I am the most comfortable in this suit and don't feel as constricted.

I was a little nervous as my wave was the LAST to leave the beach at 727am. I kept telling myself not to feel guilty that you may be the last out on the bike course. I paid for the priviledge to be here so if I need every hour the course is open, so be it.

The gun went off...and I hit the water. It felt like home. I felt like I was in the Living Seas at Epcot about to go for a scuba dive. It was warm, welcoming and from what I could see-jelly fish free. After last year's fun with jelly fish stings, I was absolutely THRILLED to see their departure.

My stroke was steady and strong but I didn't think it was too fast. Part of my race plan was to swim slightly right of the course as I knew from last year that the current would push to the left. As we made our way towards the first buoy, I knew I had made the right decision. By the time I made the turn, I was dead on course.

I also switched to photochromatic lenses in my swim goggles. This was a great choice.They were perfect into the sun as I swam the long side of the course . As I made the final turn buoy and headed towards the beach, I looked at my watch. Two minutes ahead of my best ocean time...hmmmm...this is proceeding well!!

I exited the water with my best ocean swim time taking 3 minutes off my previous ocean swim. I headed up the beach and to the chip mat, around the corner to find my NEIGHBOR was the photographer at the swim exit!! What a nice surprise!!

I made it into transition but was fumbling with my swim skin. Somehow I got my lease tangled and had to ask an official for help. After untangling the mess, I made a fast 2:30 T1..and off I went on the bike.

The course was flat and fast..except for one LARGE causeway and one small bridge. I realized that I was the last out of the water but remember, Im not racing against others, Im racing against that watch on my wrist. Before I could think twice, I heard the sound of the sheriff's motorcycle behind me. My goal was to pass i didn't have him behind me.

After about 7 miles, the Causeway that connects Amelia Island stood ahead of me like a school kid on the playground egging me on. "Come on Melissa...ya got the guts??" had the guts. I dropped a couple of gears and made my way up the bridge. I was AMAZED at how easy it felt compared to a year ago. At the top, I overtook another cyclist and hit 32 mph on the other side. After my burst of mass plus inertia heading downhill, she caught me and past me again.

It wasn't until about mile 20 that I made a pass that would stick and dropped the escorting police motorcycle. I could feel my speed increasing as I made my way on towards mile 40..then 45...then 50. I checked my watch. I was going to beat my best bike time by 5 minutes if I could just keep consistent. The final miles were into the wind but I dismounted and crossed the chip mate with that new bike P.R.

Back into transition, I checked to make sure Rick's bike was in and his running gear was gone. Everything looked good as I put on my running shoes and headed out for an afternoon stroll. My goal during this race was to see if I could be fast enough to walk the half marathon and still beat my time. This experiment was very valuable because I learned that I will still need to run a bit to keep the timing consistent.

The first 3.5 miles of this half marathon were in the direct sun and it was HOT! You gotta love the volunteers at the aid stations however, as they had cold wet towels for our necks and cold water. They stayed out on the course even until I came by.

By mile 8, I was feeling fantastic. A little tired but no pains I couldn't handle. The course was a twisty curvy route through a beautifully shaded state park (after mile 3.5) but we left the park before mile 9 and were given the lovely gift of a bridge to cross. For some reason, mentally this was hard because you could not SEE the 9 mile sign until after you crossed the bridge and headed into a turnaround. It was one of the low moments of my race.

At this point I had two runners behind me and I knew that I would not finish last. As I approached the exit of the park with less than one mile to go, my beloved husband stood and screamed "'re doing awesome...almost there cutie...almost there!!" The tears welled up in my eyes as I looked down one more time at my watch. A P.R. by 11 minutes. Could this really be possible ? I know Im one of the final finishers but I don't care. Today my race was against myself and the clock...and today...I won.

I crossed a finish line that was almost deserted to a bit of fanfare and the loving arms of my husband. I was so thrilled that i was overwhelmed with joy. The race that had haunted me for a year was now in the "win" column and will always be remembered as a PR.

I returned back to the hotel with my husband's help. My training partner, Rick, had also set a P.R. on this course. His girlfriend, Lisa, took great care of us giving us a rub down and helping with ice baths.

I sat on the balcony that night and stared out at the ocean that I had faced with a bit of fear a few hours early. I thanked God for his grace and the ability he gave me during those 8 hours on the course. You did it girl...I told myself. You finished this. You CAN DO THIS....Ironman is within reach.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The power of a dream...and the bumble bee

If it were not for dreams...what would we have?? Honestly!! I have absolutely no desire to float through life with no vision, no passion and no GOAL. Ive gone a little nuts over Ironman. I freely admit that I am totally obsessed with this goal but I also believe that Ironman would be impossible even for the finest of athletes without that burn in your gut...that desire to achieve that matter if it's breaking the women's record like Chrissie Wellington or crossing the line before the clock strikes midnight.

But before this Ironman dream, there is the Half Ironman that looms just 2 1/2 days away. I felt differently than last year as I step on the treadmill for my running workout with Hector today. We went through each part of the race. We went over nutrition. We went through step by step the goals I am looking to accomplish. "You're more ready for this race than any other race you have faced" Hector told me. Half me REALLY wants to believe him. The other half of me recognizes that he is one helluva cheerleader.

Belief is key. Belief is what sustains you when the times get tough. When the legs burn and one more step just doesn't seem possible, that's the moment that all you have left is hope and belief!! I really have to knock the negative out of my head and just keep the good!!

I have gained a new nickname lately from my best friend, Rick. He calls me Bumble Bee. Wanna know why?

According to 20th century folklore, the laws of aerodynamics prove that the bumblebee should be incapable of flight, as it does not have the capacity (in terms of wing size or beats per second) to achieve flight with the degree of wing loading necessary. Not being aware of scientists 'proving' it cannot fly, the bumblebee succeeds under "the power of its own ignorance"

The general triathlon population might look at me and think "no way!" but I have other plans. I have two planned flights: Atlantic Coast Triathlon ... and Ironman Florida.