Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Different Perspective On Life..

I returned from Coronado CA today and to say it was an odysseey was an understatement. We woke up at 345am…out the door of the Hotel Del Coronado by 415am…filled a rental car with gas, returned the car and checked in for our 635am departure to Phoenix where we were SUPPOSE to connect to Orlando. We boarded the flight, they closed the door…and we didn’t move. For 45 minutes, we sat at the gate as they analysed a mechanical problem. After almost an hour, they determined that we were not flying on this aircraft and they had to reschedule EVERYONE for their connections.

To make a very long and frustrating story short, we spent 5 hours in the San Diego Airport waiting for a flight to Philadelphia that connected to Orlando getting us in at 1130pm instead of our 400pm arrival.

I was NOT HAPPY. I won’t lie. I was mad! This aircraft had sat in San Diego all night but they didn’t determine the problem until they had everyone aboard. Being the wife of a pilot makes me a little armed and dangerous with information. I KNOW that the Captain was suppose to do a post flight check of the aircraft before shutting it down for the night. This one person affected the lives of so many people by just not doing his/her job.

As I grumbled and got on my Philly flight, a female Naval Officer was boarding with me. She had her full dress Navy uniform in a clear hanging bag. I could see the rows upon rows of medals and commendations that graced its jacket . “Wow!!” I said. “That’s a lot of fruit salad on your uniform chest there”. In case you aren’t up on the military lingo, “fruit salad” refers to LOTS of medals on a uniform. She smiled but I could tell she wasn’t happy. At first I thought thats she was being deployed and leaving her family, but I would find out I was wrong.

“Im going to perform a function that I have never had to do in my 21 years in the Navy” she said to me looking at the floor and holding back the tears as we made our move forward towards the aircraft door. "I have to go pick up a fallen hero in Dover DE tonight. “ she said with a shaking voice. “I hope I don’t keep his family waiting”.

We made two more steps forward and I couldn’t help it. I reached out and patted her on the back. “You are a credit to your country…what's your name?” I asked. She told me her name was Wendy and she was escorting her best friend since high school home to his family in San Diego. She told me they had dated in High School but ended up being better friends than anything romantic. His family had requested she be the official escort. You could see in her eyes the pain and anguish of losing this very special person in her life…. All in the call to duty to his country. Now she was doing her part to serve her country as well as she brought home this fallen hero. He was coming home to San Diego.

I told Wendy I would pray for her…and for the family of this special man. As I sat on the plane, it made me realize that, if it were not for this man’s sacrifice, I wouldn’t have the freedom to go from coast to coast in this country. I wouldn’t have the peace of falling asleep every night knowing that I am safe. He was on watch for all of us…and he made the ultimate sacrifice so we could be one free nation.

So even though I was very unhappy about this long drawn out day, God puts things in the path of our lives for a reason. Wendy and her dear friend were put in my life to make me appreciate the liberties that God has given to all of us.

You get a different view of the world when you are in a military town and we are at war. The rest of the nation is talking about the economy while the families of military men are talking about bringing their sons and daughters home alive and well. Attending the Super Frog and Super Seal Triathlon this weekend (see my next entry for information about the race) gave me a whole new view of what our nation is facing .

If you see a military person in your travels…thank them. They are giving up time with their families to keep watch over yours.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A new place to ride...

One of the happiest places in the world for me to be is on my bike. What makes it even better? A new trail to explore and enjoy! That was my Sunday as I did a 38 mile ride around Lake Okeechobee. Ok, this trail is not exactly CLOSE to Orlando (its a 2 hour drive) but..wow...it made for a great morning of riding and viewing some amazing wildlife.

I was escorted on my ride by a gentleman from Okeechobee City who is an environmental scientist AND a cyclist. I learned so much about the lake and the everglades AND had a great ride to boot!!

I also met a woman who will be doing Ironman Florida so we had a wonderful conversation along with several other locals who use this trail each week to make their dreams of fitness and goals of completing running or cycling events come true. Although the Lake has been seriously effected by the current drought AND by pollutants from various sources in the past years, it is holding it own. We observed a Bald Eagle on the trail and then in flight, several LARGE gators getting their afternoon sun and a wide range of wildlife.

After a cycling workout of 25 miles and a 4 mile run on Saturday, this ride (although very slow) left my legs feeling fatigued. I came home that afternoon and CRASHED...but this windy trail sticks in my mind. This would be the PERFECT place to train for IM Florida.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

WARNING: Do not allow your Ironman Coach access to the "remote"

I am an observer of life. I am a voyeur of how the little things in life dictate the grand scheme. Nothing illustrated this more than my first workout with Hector and my new Endless Pool.

For those that read this blog and have not a CLUE what an Endless Pool is, it is an incredible machine that creates a current that you swim against making for hours of great low impact, high calorie burning fun. Did I say this was fun? Well it can be until Hector shows up.

Like a boy on Christmas morning, Hector found that the remote control to my Endless Pool was an item of endless possibilities. Ohh look- a whole new way to torture my favorite client!! (Ok..so maybe Im not his favorite..but in my world I am!!)

I started with a warm up of 15 minutes of steady, slow swimming prior to Hector's arrival. Then, we started speed drills just like you would do on a treadmill for running. Two minutes at one pace, two minutes recovery. Then 4 minutes, then 6 minutes. Since my legs are large, it is sometimes difficult for me to keep my body position sleek in the water so he had me don running shoes. Yes, you read that right, regular running shoes in the pool swimming freestyle. I was quite a sight to behold.

We worked on form and speed. At times, I felt like a Gerbil in the large wheel of my cage but with no control over the speed of the wheel. Hector made each set faster until I simply couldn't keep up. I grumbled under my breathe...and he giggled. Glad he was happy!!!

The great thing about today's workout is that it brought focus back to my Ironman dream. Hector just completed Ironman New Zealand and took 45 minutes off his previous Ironman time. He absolutely SMOKED the run. A beautiful accomplishment for a great man.

"Hold on to my hope Melissa...you can do this!!" Hector told me. If you see me with two thumbs up in my pictures, you will know I gave it 100%. It made me cry to see those two thumbs up at his finish!!!

When I ran the Princess Half Marathon, all I could think of were those words...Hold on to the Hope Melissa...hold on. If you give it your best...give me two thumbs up!! And in my Princess Half Marathon pictures..you have just that...two thumbs up!!

Hector doesn't read this blog but if you guys ever see him, you can tell him that his client is still holding on to his hope...my Ironman dream is still alive and well!!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wildman Triathlon-Moss Park


What an amazing morning! Im literally jumping up and down with excitement. Its not for me .. its for the Team. Team in Training's Central Florida Triathlon Team ROCKED THE HOUSE at Moss Park!!!

Now I can't say that I started my morning with such a positive attitude. I awoke at 5am feeling like....UGH...!!! I got up, made coffee and still felt terrible. Im tired and sore and I don't wanna go....

But Im so glad I did!!!

I was running late but made it to the transition where Coach Beth was waiting with arms folded!! "Where have you been?" she asks!! "TRAFFIC" I said with a grind of my teeth. Still, even with coffee, Im still crabby!!

I set my gear and look around and watch some of the team setting theirs. I see their nerves and I remember what it was like. I remember my first race 9 years ago. I didn't sleep. I set my gear 6 times and came back and checked it each time. I worried about a flat tire. I worried about being last. I worried I would not finish the swim. Worry worry worry. I saw it on some of their faces....and I remembered.

I cracked some jokes to ease the tension...and as always at the water's edge, I exclaimed that we could JUST GO GET PANCAKES instead of doing THIS...and as always..I had no takers...so...the gun went off..and we were on our way.

The sun was directly in my face and it was within moments I knew, I had the wrong goggles. I couldn't see anything!! Couple that with the fact that the Lake at Moss Park is the color of McDonald's Sweet Tea and you have a combo that is not too
appealing. My swim was dreadfully slow as I finally made it to the first buoy and around I went.

As I made my way to the second buoy, I couldnt help but stop for a male swimmer clutching swim noodles. He looked terrified. I joked a little bit and made sure he found a lifeguard and then continued.

Around the second buoy and I headed towards the beach. I can hear the crowd and I see a few females still in the water. Ok..so today, I won't be last!!

Out of the water and the race director says my name to the crowd!! Why I still don't know but I made my way up the beach. Next to me is Geni Wright..one of the members of the team. She and I are kindred spirits. We swim about the same...we bike about the same and she runs faster than me. We get to transition and leave with our bikes at the same time. We can't help it...we are both competitive. We mount up..and the race started right there.

Geni doesn't know it..but she pushed me!! Knowing that she was behind me pushed my pace harder than I have done in a long time. I really know in my heart if she had not been back there, I would not have been on my game. Suddenly, my attitude changed. I was LOVING being on the bike and in the aerobars. I focused on my form and power. I made each pedal stroke count. I rounded the last neighborhood and headed back to transition with the fastest 12 miles in a long long time.

From my strength to my weakness, I grabbed my shoes and went out on the run. The 2.75 mile course was nothing compared to the half marathons of the last few weeks, but my legs felt the transition. Ohhh transition muscles don't fail me now.

I love my teammates. I rounded the corner and headed for the Finish Line and they started to scream!! What an incredible feeling to know that there are people there waiting for you!! Coach Beth and the crew made it very welcoming as I finished my first triathlon of the 2009 season on my way to Ironman.

As I made my way out of the finish line area, I joined my team and cheered on the rest of our crew as the finished. Doug, who is battling Leukemia and a member of our tri group finished with great style!! My "brother from another mother" is my hero. Doug...you are one of the many reasons I do this.

So...yeah..it was "just a sprint" but it was more. Today, many of my team got to add a new title to their life list. Today, they became triathletes! Highfives to you all!!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Sprint Triathlon is still a RACE..and Im NERVOUS

I heard it from my family today: Oh Missey..this race is no big deal..its just a sprint..you can do those for practice now.

If there is one thing I have learned over the years of training and running races..no matter what the race


Its when people get cocky and think its "no big deal" is when you run into trouble!! I learned this lesson all too well during the Amelia Island Half Ironman last year. I figured I was running an Ironman in a few weeks so I had this race sewn up!! A few hours later...im in the medical tent with a reaction to jellyfish stings and a DNF.

You never know what will happen when you put on a race number..but there are a few things I know for sure...Im gonna go give it my best shot and run against my watch and nothing else..

As always..Ill keep you posted!!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Disney Princess Half Marathon

430am...Daylight Savings Time...UGH...5 more minutes?? I hit the snooze and rolled over!!

Wait?? I sat up straight in bed and realized...Im at Disney and I need to get moving. The princesses and all their friendly Disney characters awaited my arrival (along with about ohhh roughly 10,000 other crazy runners). I jumped outta bed and got moving. Dress and ready, I grabbed a coffee and some Cheerios and made my way to the Monorail. We stayed at the Contemporary over the weekend to make the race morning a little easier.

My partner in crime today was my business partner: Rick Stafford. After having knee surgery in January and being unable to run the Disney Marathon, this was his first race since having his meniscus fixed. Out of thousands of women runners, we found out he was one of only 217 male runners in the race. He didn't care!! All he wanted to do was test the knee prior to some future Half Ironman distance races and qualify for the Coast to Coast Medal (more on that later).

After making sure his 13 year old daughter was still tucked in safe and sound in their room, we headed off to Epcot. The Monorails were running very slow so we ended up arriving at the race site at 620am. We really had to hustle since the race start line was over 1.7 miles away from the Epcot parking lot (a 25 minute walk). We grabbed one of the photographers, got a quick "before" race shot and then headed towards the start.

I somehow ended up in the front corral! Go figure. This body and race speed didn't deserve the forward placement, but I took it!! Disney is a scary place to race for those of us in the back of the pack. They close off the course and pick up participants at anytime if they feel you are not maintaining a proper pace. The gun went off, the group moved forward and we were on our way.

Hector had asked me not to race with any "gadgets" as he calls them for this Half Marathon. This meant, no GPS. I convinced him that i really needed an Ipod to make the time go by faster so he allowed it. I finally broke down and wore my watch. I don't know how I would do interval walk and run without a watch. He wanted me to start focusing on my level of effort and exertion and not on the gadgets.

When I first started doing these races, I would run for 1 minute and walk for a minute. Then I move to 2 and 1 then 3 and 1. I am now at 5 and 1 and very proud of this. It has taken alot of work because this body just isn't a running body!! I started off my morning with two sets of 2 - 1 and then went right into 5 -1's. Out on the highway, I was feeling strong and comfortable and in the zone. Rick came by me at mile 3 and was looking great. The knee was functioning well.

From the start to mile 5, I felt amazing. Good turnover of my feet and some ok speed (for me that is). I got up to the Contemporary Hotel where Mike and Vi Auld were waiting to cheer me on. They were quite a welcomed site!! A couple of hugs and I was on my way to the Magic Kingdom.

Running down Main Street always brings back memories of my first half marathon which was at Disney in 2003. At this point of the race, on Main Street in 2003, I was lightheaded and sick to my stomach. Today was different, I was feeling fantastic. I went past the store where just yesterday, I had gotten my father a Mickey Watch for his birthday. I ran next to Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger ride-my godson Christian's favorite ride and onto the Carousel...my favorite ride as a kid. So many amazing memories.

Through the castle and a smile for the professional photographers and we were on our way out the back gates of the Magic Kingdom. It was at this moment my hamstrings started to tighten. Rut row!! This could get ugly fast. I started thinking ..."I went out too fast...too too fast" but I kept moving and thats what a long distance race is about.

My Ipod playlist for the Disney Half Marathon is set up with some strategic music for certain spots of the course. As we past the Grand Floridian and headed back to the highway, "Life is a Highway" was playing in my ears. As we approached mile 9 where I seem to always have issued, the Olympic Anthem played. At mile 10, Van Halen's "Jump" kept me moving forward but my run pace was seriously lacking at this point.

By the time I made it to mile 11, I was hurting and not for the reason you think. My running buddies know that my body seems to feel the need to play weird tricks on my during events and just "start" things several days before they should occur in the month. My body decided it was time at mile 11!! Holy Moley!! Now what do I do??

I work at the Living Seas at Epcot, which is where the course enters the park. I decided to make a quick detour up to my locker at work and take care of this matter and return to the course. It definitely destroyed my chance of having a good finishing time but I KNOW this was a good decision. As I headed out of the building, a couple of my co workers were a little bewildered at my presence at work during the race...but I smiles, waved and told them I would explain later. And off I went.

Down to the World Showcase and we were headed to the finish line!! At this point, I decided to walk and enjoy the crowd and this journey I had begun 3 hours before. At the finish line, I met Sally Edwards who interviewed me. I told her if it had not been for her 9 years ago and the Danskin Triathlon, I wouldn't be where I am today..running races and preparing for my Ironman. She cried and I smiled. If she only knew. I am just happy to be alive no matter what the time on the run clock says. 12 years ago, I was told I wouldn't see 40. Today, Im 45 and running Half Marathons for fun. Who would have ever thought.

My plan along with Rick is to run the Disneyland Half Marathon in September. By completing the Princess Half and the Disneyland Half, we will qualify for the Coast to Coast Challenge and get a third medal for our efforts. You know..its all about the medals!!!

I met up with Coach Beth, Sandi,Geni and her hubby and great support crew, Neil and took a girl's photo. Rick had headed back to the hotel to check on Jessica and to pack up. A wonderful day, great friends, a beautiful race...and its a great day to be alive!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Two weeks home: Goals Setting and Focus

I have had a range of emotions since I have returned home...mostly good, some very negative and some that we're easily recognized as a part of my eating disorder. I am a firm believer in failing yourself to success and I have used that thinking to get through the low points..and the high points of this week.

The Economy has been a definite challenge as I continue to run my Boot Camp with my business partner, Rick Stafford but I am happy to report that business is not bad. We arn't breaking records, but its not the worst I have seen either. My trainers are hanging in there and providing a great service. They are indeed the reason we are still here and celebrating our 7th anniversary of business.

When my husband left on Friday, it was the first time I was alone and home to deal with my eating. I followed what my instructors and therapists had prescribed: have a plan and stick to it when you can. If you can't, do the best you can and make the best choices possible. It was easy to recognize triggers for eating and sometimes I was able to head them off at the pass but I can't say that I had perfect eating during the weekend. I have tried to relinquish that "black and white" thinking about nutrition and eating and tried to understand WHY I overate when I did. It seems to be helping.

I had my first workout with Team in Training on Saturday morning. I do love working out with a group of people that are just starting to learn about Triathlon. I am a little intimidated by alot of the people on the Central Florida Tri Club because they are all so GOOD and FAST. There is a wider range of abilities on the Team in Training crew and there I feel like I fit in. Coach Beth is doing a great job at rallying the troops and keeping folks motivated.

I will run another half marathon this weekend. The Princess Half Marathon is an inaugural event at Disney that replaces the 15K women's race they have done for the past few years. This time, I won't be running the race alone (like in Myrtle Beach). So far my business partner Rick, Coach Beth, Sandi Fuller, Geni Wright and myself are running the race. We have reserved a suite at the Contemporary to be the base of fun for the weekend :) Steve was suppose to be able to share this weekend with me but his schedule was changed and he has been called to work. He leaves today to start a 5 day trip.

My goal this weekend is to run a half marathon that is 10 minutes faster than Myrtle Beach. It is suppose to be a bit warm on Sunday so I am still hanging on to hope that I can improve my time. Keep me in your thoughts and prayers and cross whatever you can :)

I need to get more focused on my workouts and keep in mind that I have 248 days until Ironman Florida. This year's top goals are:

1. 30 pounds lighter by Ironman Florida
2. Complete two Half Ironmans (Gulf Coast and Augusta 70.3)
3. Complete Ironman Florida in under 17 hours (16:59:59 would work for me) and become an Ironman

As always...I will keep you posted!!!