Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I Gotta Plan...

For 20 years, I was a travel agent...a "travel professional" in every since of the word. I LOVED planning things...especially unique and once in a lifetime events like honeymoons, retirement trips, bachelor parties to fun places and Spring Break for crazy college students. I have had the privilege of sending multi millionaires around the world for 3 to 5 months and the special task of honoring a man's final die at sea aboard the QE2. (Sounds morbid..but it was what he wanted...and that meant that's what I wanted for him). I AM a planner...

So with that in mind, it shouldn't be much of a stretch that I PLAN my races on paper. I take previous times, race conditions, course elevations and the like and try to put together a plan. Usually, the plan is simple: to finish before they remove the finish line and stop giving out medals. Other plans involve not getting "swept" at marathons and half marathons (this means being picked up by a bus and brought to the finish line because you were going too slow). I am proud to say that I have never been swept at a Marathon or Half Marathon. In EVERY case where I did not finish a race, it was medically related: a jellyfish sting, the stomach flu three days before a marathon...and stomach problems during an Ironman.

To the intermediate or advanced athlete, these goals may seem kinda simple or silly...but to me they are important and special. A year ago, I had a lady at a triathlon tell me I gave her hope. I gave her the hope that someday she could do this...that she could be this physically active and accomplish an endurance event. That one statement;that one woman made such a huge impact on me.

So for the last 24 hours, I have been planning. I have been making the plan that will get me across the finish line at Gulf Coast before Shelly Bramblett (the most amazing and down to earth Race Director I have ever met) kicks me off the course.
I don't usually tell people what I am hoping for or what I am shooting for...but my thoughts here are simple: tell the world and now you GOTTA follow your plan!!! Keep it to yourself and no one will ever know if you did or did not achieve what you wanted to accomplish.

So, for fear of sounding like the slowest and worst Half Ironman triathlete in the world, the following are my goals for Gulf Coast:

Goal A...To finish the total race in 8.5 hours
Goal B...If I do not finish in the above time, my goal is to beat my other two half ironman finish times (please don't laugh when you read these) 2007 Ironman Florida 70.3 8:53:34/2008 Ironman Florida 70.3 9:02:12.
Goal C...Simply finish before the following cut offs of each event:
Finish the swim by 835A
Finish the bike by 12:50P
Finish the race by 4:30PM needs are simple. Soooooo...does anyone out there that reads my blog have a fast pair of legs I could use for a few hours on May 9th?? Ohh...and Shelly Bramblett...if you happen to read this blog, do you accept bribes?? :)

Then, of course, there is always the other option that I love the most: Just go out there and kick some asphalt and give it 110%.

More to come....stay tuned!!

If Today Was Your Last Day..

Im driving this morning and Nickelback came on my XM. This song was so profound that I felt the need to post the lyrics here. It is my hope that I am living my life this way and not wasting a additional hope is that YOU are too...

Read the words and tell me what you think...

If Today Was Your Last Day Lyrics:

My best friend gave me the best advice
He said each days a gift and not a given right
Leave no stone unturned
Leave your fears behind
And try to take the path less traveled by
That first step you take is the longest stride

If today was your last day
If tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday
Would you live each moment like your last
Leave old pictures in the past
Donate every dime you have
If today was your last day

Going against the grain should be a way of life
What's worth the price is always worth the fight
Every second counts cause there's no second try
So live it like you're never living twice
Don't take the free ride in your whole life

If today was your last day
If tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday
Would you live each moment like your last
Leave old pictures in the past
Donate every dime you have
And would you call old friends you never see
Reminisce old memories
Would you forgive your enemies
And would you find that one your dreaming of
Swear up and down to god above
That you'll finally fall in love
If today was your last day

If today was your last day
Would you make your mark
On ending a broken heart
You know it's never too late
To shoot for the stars
Regardless of who you are
So do whatever it takes
Cause you can't rewind
A moment in this life
Let nothing stand in your way
Cause the hands of time
Are never on your side

If today was your last day
If tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday
Would you live each moment like your last
Leave old pictures in the past
Donate every dime you have
And would you call old friends you never see
Reminisce old memories
Would you forgive your enemies
And would you find that one your dreaming of
Swear up and down to god above
That you'll finally fall in love
If today was your last day

Im still shooting for the stars...

Monday, April 27, 2009

The St. Anthony's Triathlon that wasn't really a triathlon..

They say when you race you have to be prepared for all conditions. This race was a classic example of that. What a crazy weekend. To say it wasn't full of panic, adventure, fun and disappointment would be an understatement.

My husband and I returned from the Bahamas on Friday afternoon (that's another story in itself right there) after visiting my parents at the house in Marsh Harbor. I love going over there and I hope that now we have gotten our plane back from refurbishment (we have a small Cessna 172 that we bought at auction), this will become easier. I had packed my triathlon gear but not my clothes for the weekend so it was a mad dash to get everything ready and head over to St. Pete before the expo closed for the day. Steve grabbed my bike along with my business partner, Rick's, bicycle and racked them on the back of the car. One quick shower and a few minutes to load the car, and I was on my way. Steve came over as well but he followed me several hours later in his car since he needed to get his gear together so he could leave from St. Pete for work on Sunday.

It's about a 90 minutes drive to St. Pete and I notice it was extremely windy as I made my way to the Gulf side. I looked through my rear view mirror and saw that the bikes were moving around quite a bit because of the wind. Just as I was about to pull over to tighten them down, I saw Rick's bike swing up and off the back of the car and smash into the Interstate 4 pavement behind me. My heart raced as I pulled over to the side of the road.

There are several GOOD things in this scenario. First, that the bike didn't end up in some one's windshield and hurt or kill the occupants of the vehicle and, second, that the bike on the road did not cause a chain reaction pile up on I-4 . As I exited my car, an off duty sheriff's office pull his truck behind the bike and started directing traffic as I went to retrieve what was left of this very expensive piece of equipment.

To say this carbon race bike was a mess would be like calling Hurricane Katrina a "little storm". One Zipp wheel was cracked in 3 parts. The top tube was cracked in half. The seat was opened up in several places while the shifters were completely ripped off of the handlebars. There were cables sticking out everywhere and, once I got to a safe position on the side of the road, all I could do was look at the bike in horror. This isn't even MY BIKE. What am I going to say to Rick?? I couldn't help but cry...but tears don't solve problems. I had to come up with a solution on how I was going to replace this bike in 48 hours for a race.

I called my hubby and he was totally upset. He's the one that racked the bike and figured he must of strapped it down incorrectly. I explained to him that no one got hurt..and we had to look at this from a positive prospective. What I needed was a way to get wheels under Rick in a hurry. Steve suggested calling Hector....and that was my next call.

Hector graciously offered his backup bike for Rick to ride (is this guy amazing or what!!). His partner, Don, was coming to St. Pete on Saturday and would bring the bike and Hector would fit it to Rick. I was able to breath as I called Rick with the bad news and the plan of attack. Needless to say, Rick was upset but amazingly calm. ( least for a little while)

I got to St. Pete, pulled up to the Race Expo site and Rick met me to see the bike. He took it to Outspoken to look it over and see what could be done. The verdict? The only salvageable part on the bike was the rear Zipp Wheel. Everything else was looking pretty bad.

Val, the owner of the shop, could not have been nicer. She offered to store the bike while we decided if we wanted to go ahead and buy a bike or wait for Hector's backup bike. She wasn't pushy..just kind and helpful. She could tell that I was extremely upset and seemed to really take an interest in our plight!! No high pressure..just lots of good info.

We ended up negotiating with Val for a fabulous price on a Cervelo to replace Rick's bike. We both took responsibility for the bike by the end of the weekend so we split the cost. Val and her staff went to work to get the bike ready and by Saturday, Rick was on his new ride!

I was a mess!! After Friday and part of Saturday solving the bike problem, I had hardly thought about my own race. I got up early Saturday to watch Beth's girls-Kelsey and Hannah and Rick's daughter- Jessica run in the Meek and Mighty Triathlon. They all finished strong and got shiny bling to boot!! It was great to watch such a fine group of talented kids give their all!!

We racked our bikes on Saturday and suddenly it hit. Im doing an Olympic Distance Tri tomorrow but I was still fairly calm. We went to dinner at an Italian Restaurant nearby and I hit the hay early...I was truly exhausted.

I awoke at 4am and I was ready to race. Coffee and Oatmeal made and consumed and dressed for the day, we headed out of the hotel at 5am. Geni's husband, Neal, was incredibly kind and drove us down to the transition area. I felt like a pro getting the star treatment.

I made my way into transition and started to get organized. I kept hearing the announcer say "Stay in the transition for a special announcement". At about 530am, the Race Director cancelled the swim portion of the race. Only the Pros would be swimming today. The age groupers would only be biking and swim.

WHAT?? EXCUSE ME?? Did I just hear him right, I thought to myself. No swim?? I looked out at the Bay and I felt the wind and I realized....Ok...this guy made the right decision. As the wind blew harder and the water looked like my laundry on spin, I stopped being upset and realized that, people could get hurt out there. Im a strong swimmer...but just as I struggle to run, other struggle to swim.

Many others were not as understanding. One girl near our bikes was trying to qualify for Alcatraz while another had travelled all the way from North Dakota to do this race. My heart broke for them. I was just 2 hours from home.

So I tried to get organized. The plan was to time trial start across the swim finish mat and enter transition and do the bike and run. The Race Director told age groupers that you could have your bike helmet on and your shoes if you wanted. I wanted to experience as much of the race as I could so I left my gear in transition.

Beth, Geni, Rick and myself stood around for quite a bit. Rick started at approximately 740a while our wave did not start until 845am. All I could think was...that's going to be one hot run!!

Into transition and onto the bike, I was pumped but that feeling was short lived. It was just so hard to get focused when the race wasn't really a race anymore. I did push on the bike but I think if I had been able to swim, I would have been able to really get excited about the bike!! The first 10 miles were great and I love the technical aspect of the course because I'm good in the turns..but the wind continued to kick up making the last half of the race a bit challenging.

As I exited my bike, I looked at my watch and realized that I was 1 minute and 30 seconds slower than last year. I tried not to think about it as I made a solid transition out to the run. The first 3 miles were pretty good. I ran my plan and stayed focused. The last half was brutal. Four blisters opened up and both heels began to bleed. By the time I got to mile 4, I was down to running 3 and 1's...and my time was shot. I got to mile 5 to find Hector waiting. I actually looked up and groaned. Oh God...this is going to be a tough mile.

Hector pushed me...and at this point, I needed the push. I freely admit that I'm nasty at this time in a race. I'm hot, I'm tired, I'm frustrated and I'm fighting all those negative thoughts in my head....but God love Hector, he never stopped...he kept pushing...and encouraging..and pushing. As I approached the end of mile 5, I saw a sea of Red and Black uniforms and realized that it was the Central Florida Tri Club. They were all there..under the tent drinking beer and having fun...but they all stopped and they cheered...LOUD. At first I was embarrassed. " I know."..I thought..".I'm last....again."...but they were wonderful and I can't thank them enough for their screams and applause. And then there were the chapters of Team in Training that I had talked to before the race....they saw me and a roar went up. I was so overwhelmed...I started to cry.

I made the turn into the finishing chute and saw all my friends....Beth, Neal, Lisa and the girls. I was down to a walk/run but determined to run across the line. Lisa took pictures that I just can't wait to see. I must have just looked terrible.

My run was 12 seconds slower per mile average than last year and my bike was a 1 minute 30 seconds slower than last year. My transitions were about the same. It was so hard to get focused about this race....the race that wasn't

We celebrated our finish at The Moon under the Water Restaurant in the hear of downtown St. Pete! I love that feeling of being with friends after you have accomplished a task. Although I am very disappointed with my bike and run times, I know I can do better.

Next week was suppose to be a sprint distance race at Tri Miami but I have switched to an Olympic Distance since I didn't get to do a real "race" this weekend. Hopefully, I will see good result there :)

I had a wonderful friend and former coach send me these "thoughts" to consider after reading my blog from several weeks ago.

You cannot have a goal of a fit body, and also have a belief that exercise is hard work.

You cannot make wise food choices to enhance your health if you also tell yourself that healthy foods are not tasty.

So, in short, pause for a moment and assess. Do you have any conflicting beliefs or values which hold you back? If you find they exist, get to the root of the negative belief and learn why the conflict exists. Once you do, you will quickly find yourself moving towards your goals with a smile on your face.

Hmmm...wise words...after a tough emotional weekend. Note the smile on my face :)

And as always..more to come soon....

Monday, April 20, 2009

Thanks Sara... St. Anthony's..just 6 days away

Now this was the way to spend a Sunday afternoon! Last week, my training partner Beth had informed me of a Swim Clinic at the National Training Center in Clermont. The coach? The one...the only..Sara McLarty..NCAA All American, and World Cup ITU Pro Triathlete. In this two hour swim clinic, I learned so much!! It was absolutely amazing!! Thanks Sara for the great info!!

Got St. Anthony's on the brain. In the next few days, it is my goal to eat well, hydrate, taper and rest. My goal is to PR this race. Hector set the bar pretty high for this high that I am not even going to put the finish time he wants me to shoot for here. Lets just say its a big jump from last year.

Positive thoughts...positive thoughts...positive thoughts!!!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Please meet of the reason I do what I do...

So tonight, I enjoyed the company of several of my friends and teammates at a spaghetti dinner to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. There was great food, a silent auction, some interesting entertainment and a great time was had by all as we raised a little more money to find a cure.

The star of the show in my eyes, however, was A.J. This 2 1/2 year old bundle of energy touched my heart and reminded me of why I do what I do. At 13 months, A.J. was a very sick little boy as his parents were informed that he had Leukemia. Hope (who is part of my triathlon team and will be running Tri Miami in 2 weeks) and Blake were devistated but they have fought along with their son to get him well. I am happy to report that A.J. is currently in remission and was running around the event like a little 2 1/2 year old should!! My heart filled with joy watching this little guy just be a little boy!!

I came to this event absolutely exhausted (as you can tell from the photo). After three long workouts within the last 48 hours which included 20 flights of stair running (thank you Hector), I was pretty whipped. I MADE myself go ... because I know how important finding a cure is to so many families across the world.

So for those like A.J. who are winning the battle with Leukemia...and for those like my 8 year old godson Christian...who lost the battle , please help me in my quest to raise $25,000.00 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by November 1st. Any donation of any denomination would be greatly appreciated!! The link is below to my fundraising website and, in advance, I want to thank you for helping me help them!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

You know its a tough bike trainer workout when.....

....The incredibly fit women in the room with Ironman Arizona, Kentucky etc on their jersey are huffing and puffing!! I am...5am and back at the Y after a long work day at The Living Seas (just 90 minutes in the water yesterday...a nice light day for a change). This is a challenge for me...working a 15 hour day on Wednesday then getting up at 4am to be ready for Hector's Bike Trainer workout at 5am.

Now most spin classes are an hour in length. Hector's trainer class goes for almost 1 hour and 20 minutes. As we began the class, Hector decided to give it a name: Big Chain Ring Extravaganza! Oh God...I groaned. We are climbing hills today!!

Did I mention how much I love hills!!?? "Florida is FLAT HECTOR...why do we need this hill workout!!??" I thought to myself. But deep down, I know why!! It will make you stronger on the up those hamstrings and really get your rear in gear!!

As I followed along with this workout, I looked around the room. Im not the only one struggling ... but some of these participants in Hector's idea of a fun morning were BOOKIN' IT!! I mean...they were really making those pedals move. Ohhh I do aspire to that speed...those people really motivate me :)

So, after this 80 minute workout, its out the door and on the run. Hector screams at me to remember the speed bumps (which I did...this time) and off on my trot I went. I truly dream of the day that I can keep up with the group but for now, the solitude of this run is really amazing.

St. Anthony's is a week away...and I desperately want to pull a PR (Personal Record) at this race. My other huge goal is to FINISH the Gulf Coast Half Ironman under the cut off time. There will be something very emotional about coming across the finish line in Panama City on the site of the Ironman. I really need that mental boost to get me through the next months of training.

I want to also mention here a thank you to those who read my blog. In recent days, I have found out that alot of people follow my ups and downs. Your advice and encouragement means so much. There was a point last week where I seriously considered ending this journey. It is because of alot of YOUR comments, that I got through that rough patch. Thank you. To those Ironman triathletes that gave are each my hero. To those that aspire to being called an Ironman...your words ring so true because we are in the same boat...we are working towards a goal that a lot of people just dream about. You are amazing individuals.

As I ate lunch yesterday, my friend Beth sent me this quote:

"You only live once but if you work it right once is enough!"
Joe Lewis

I plan to get it right once...don't you???

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Size of your Attitude...

You CAN do it - it is all in the size of the attitude, not the size of you! -Kathy New Zealand

As I walked in this morning from teaching a 6am Boot Camp class, this was the comment on my blog. What a fitting quote for my morning.

I have been struggling with the way I look and how people perceive me. I was especially nervous this morning because I had to sub for one of my boot camp instructors who is on vacation. This is a class I do not know except for introducing myself on their first day and then introducing their instructor. In my head I wondered how they saw this 5 foot tall woman in front of them telling them how to work out. Do they take me seriously? Do they just wish their instructor was back? Do they think how could a plus size woman possibly be in good enough shape to make it through class? As I greeted each of them for the session, these things were running around me head...but I smiled...stayed positive...stayed focused and followed the workout.

At the end of the workout, I had a bunch of smiling women....sweaty...but smiling who told me it was tough but it was a fantastic hour. I wonder if they realize how good that made me feel just knowing I had given them a good workout.

I have spent the last few days really beating myself up about my lack of speed on the run and how I look in a tri suit. Today, donned in camo pants, combat boots and an instructor shirt, I felt like a strong instructor with a goal. Why can't I translate that feeling into triathlon?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Ham...on the move..

I gotta admit...every ride seems to get more interesting..and this morning was no exception. I usually head towards Clermont for my cycling workouts to include the hills and the trails that run through Lake County. This morning, I decided to head the other direction and enjoy the bike routes that run around the Orlando International Airport. Called simply "the airport ride" by my cycling purist friends, I understand why they love these roads early in the morning. These wide, well paved roads include a bike lane and little traffic...

Well except for this morning's encounter with what most people will be enjoying for Easter Lunch...Ham on the hoof!!

As I was coming through some fog at about mile 12 of what turned out to be a 35 mile bike, I saw this quick moving black "blob". It was moving too fast to be a cow...too large to be a dog...and too hairy to be a person. I kept my eye on it as it made its way across the open green space and up to the highway. To my shock...this was a wild pig...crossing the highway. I pulled out my phone as quick as I could and got the best shot possible and kept the bike upright!!

Why did the wild boar cross the road?? To get away from the crazy triathlete on her early morning ride!!

I could also say it was one of my cousins you know. Us large life forms need to stick together and encourage each other in our endeavors. His goal was not to become lunch...mine was to work off yesterday's lunch...and dinner...and any other calories that might have crossed my lips in the last 24 hours.

The ride was wonderful...light wind, good temperature, little traffic and plenty of time to get an attitude adjustment. Sometimes training can really get to your brain...other times it recharges you.

As the sun came up, I started to appreciate the gifts that have been bestowed upon me. Good health, a life free of a wheelchair, cane or walker and the ability to walk into a store and buy clothes off the rack. I am able to keep up with my nieces and nephews...raise money for amazing charities and have the blessing of training for the most grueling endurance event outside of Badwater. Realizing these things as the sun rose over my handlebars brought tears to my eyes...this is when you KNOW there is a Higher Power...for me....God is not only found in a sanctuary...he is found here..every morning.

Life is pretty good...for me...and for my big pig friend who found safety beyond the highway!!!

Happy Easter Everyone!!

Its 500am on Easter you know where your triathlete is?

No, not at church. (I bad)
No, not hiding easter eggs (Murphy just finds them and then buries them in the backyard)
No, not snuggled down in bed (No workout yesterday sleep in today)
Not crying in my beer like I was yesterday..(Thank GOD..arn't you tired of reading about my whining!!!)

My happy self is up...packing up and heading to the airport to do the "airport ride" with Beth at 700am!! Its time to stop feeling sorry for myself and get some work done. Gonna ride 45 miles today!! Update will be added here soon!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Do you ever just wonder....

...why you are doing this??

I guess everyone has bad days and this is one of mine. I saw a picture of me from a race and I wanted to cry. I look so horrible I am starting to wonder if someone my size really should be out there doing this....

I try very hard to stay positive but for some reason, right now, I feel like I can't be. With weight coming off this slowly, do I really have a chance at Ironman??

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Who thought a bike trainer and gymnasium could make a morning so much fun

So I get this email from Hector that the team is doing their first "bike trainer" workout at the Y at 5am Thursday morning. Im intrigued and since Tuesdays and Thursdays I don't have to work with Boot Camp, I set my alarm and rolled out of bed at 4am to attend this workout extravaganza!!

I arrived at the Y and found that I wasn't the only crazy one. About 27 others joined me in this 75 minute spin/bike training workout from hell. Now if you don't know the Central Florida Tri me...these people are SERIOUS. Most of them are cut, strong, lean and FAST. They have a passion for this sport and I have a tremendous amount of respect for each and every one of them. It is a little intimidating, however, when you know you are the slowest and heaviest in the room.

After a series of speed drill, Hector got to the part I absolutely hate: one legged drills. I am sure this is a drill that I will grow to love and appreciate but right now...I loathe it!! It is proof positive that I need more work on my hamstrings, quads and core but I gave it all I had. I know...Im whining...I don't like it when I whine... it's so unbecoming!!!

After the bike workout, Hector sent us out for a 20 minute recovery run. I jumped off the bike, slipped into my shoes and was the first out the door. From the bright lights of the gym to the darkness of the early morning, my vision wasn't the greatest. As I made a right to head out to the street, I forgot about the speed bumps in the parking lot...and...BAM..before I knew it, I was on my face on the asphalt. I scrambled to my feet with some road rash on my hands, elbow and knee...but most of all...a slightly bruised ego.

As usually, the pack past me on the run but I kept moving. It's at these times I have to remind myself that its amazing that I can run at all. Yes Im slow. Yes, Im getting better. Yes, Im getting lighter .. but Im definitely no where near the speed of these athletes. So I ran in the darkness alone...but it does give you time to think..and time to reflect.

That speed bump in the parking's was very symbolic of my triathlon experience in the last year. I hit that speed bump at Ironman Florida...I got banged up a bit...I let it bother me for awhile and then I moved on. I went out on that run feeling pretty good about my workout but knowing that there is SO MUCH to do prior to November. I just need to stay focused, listen to the experts, remember that food is not the answer to everything and get this job done.

There are 211 days until Ironman...I have one Olympic and two Half Ironmans between now and then and 26 pounds left to lose. Ive got some serious work to do....and as always...ill keep you posted!!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Returning to my Alma Mater for my swim workout

I am proud to say that I am a graduate of Lake Highland Prep School. I graduated in 1981 ... and I believe dinosaurs were still roaming the earth at that time as our class of 58 students left to face the world. At that time, Lake Highland was just 11 years old and was still working with old facilities left over from the bankrupt College of Orlando. We used old dorm rooms for elementary school classrooms and housing for some of the college faculty was turned into a Home Ec "house".

The pool we used back then was falling apart. I remember snagging more than one swimsuit on the sides as I exited our swim workouts and the water was always a clear but strange color. Things have changed at my old school.

The Highlander Aquatics Center is a state of the art swim venue that is very kind to allow Team in Training to use their facilities. It is the first time I have worked out here since being on the team but it brought back good memories of swimming at Lake Highland. Back then, we had a rag tag little team that did the races for fun. Now, the Highlanders are a powerhouse in the pool sending many swimmers on to college scholarships and possible olympic spots. This multi millon dollar pool was once the temporary pool for the Water Polo Event at the Atlanta Olympic Games. It was permanently reassembled at my school and serves as quite an outstanding facility.

I slipped into the coolish water tonight and wonder how that young Melissa would have felt knowing this old Highlander would return. The workout was just 1500 yards tonight..about a 9/10 of a mile swim...and I struggled. For some reason, I had a hard time breathing and keeping my stroke smooth. Coach Bill could not have been more helpful as he gave me tips on breathing, arm position, stroke and body rotation. I am so blessed to have an additional resource aside from Hector's eyes to tell me what can be done to improve my times in the water.

Bottom line...I think I need a lot more weight training and..of course...losing the weight will definitely help!!

As I left the pool tonight, I was disappointed but I know that I can improve over the next few weeks. My swim may not be the best at Gulf Coast, but by Augusta 70.3, I should be up to speed.

Oh yeah...Go Highlanders!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Great Clermont Sprint Triathlon


Let me lay that out there right now....because Clermont has always been a challenge for me. It is where I do about half my cycling workouts and it was where I did my first triathlon outside of Danskin 10 years ago. Today's race was short and it was hilly and it definitely got my attention.

Ok..for those of you from the northernlands and from hill country who read my blog, cut me some slack here. I AM the quintessential FLATLANDER. I love my bike and run courses flat and fast. This Athena athlete has alot to haul up those hills and today was no exception.

I can blame my exciting morning on my friend Beth (check out her blog at : ). She is the coach for the Central Florida Chapter of Team in Training's Triathlon Team. Although she has an extensive background in running (over 30 marathons and god only knows how many half marathons), triathlon is something that has quickly become her passion over the last year. She is running her first St. Anthony's Tri at the end of the month and wanted a tune up race done prior to our St. Pete's Olympic Distance. "Come on Melissa, do this race with me" she exclaimed on the phone and via messenger. "Come will be fun!!!"

I did my Saturday workout with the team. A 25 mile bike followed by a 3 mile stumble/walk/recovery run and I still wasn't sure if I would do the race. Beth grabbed me at the end of practice and said "Come on..let's go get our packets" and off we went.

If you have read my blog before, you know that I have an addiction to finisher medals. I like'em...ALOT. Beth likes them even more than me I think...heck..she has a sticker on the back of her car that says "Medal Ho" you get the picture. We showed up at Lake Minneola to register and grab our numbers and goodie bag and as we walked out of the registration area...what do I see....?? Hmmmmm Shiny..pretty...ribbon accented MEDALS. I inquired with the staff if EVERYONE got medals tomorrow...she said yes. I decided I was definitely doing the race.

Now during practice, Coach Beth took a tumble on her bike and ended up with a bruised leg, bleeding knee and a bruised posterior. I was really wondering if she should do this race..but she was determined. See...she saw those shiny pretty things too!!!

At 5am, I was up and my race routine had begun. Bike racked, car loaded and I was off to 7-11 for my extremely SMALL coffee and some cheerios. I returned and waited for Beth to meet me at my house so we could ride together. I called her and she didn't sound good. She was not feeling the greatest but she really believed that she needed this race to "tune up" for St. Anthony's. We discussed it as she drove to my house and decided upon her arrival that she was going to do it even if she had to walk the run.

We made it to Waterfront Park for a perfect, beautiful sunny day and a dynamite start to a great race. The water was cold (wetsuit legal but I left mine at home..I hate those things) and my swim was slow. I really have to work on my upper body strength.

As I made my fastest transition to date from the swim to the bike, my mind wandered back in time to the early years of triathlon and the sprints I did in Clermont. Oh those damn hills!!!! As I left transition, I approached the first of many, downshifted and made my way up.

I hit a max speed of 32mph on the downhill during the 12 mile bike, dropped a chain on one climb and had to dismount and fix the problem but overall, I had a good ride. Im just so heavy that the hills destroy my overall time on the bike but, as you all know, I am really trying to lose the tonnage.

Back to transition where I caught up with Beth. She was doing ok but you could tell she was in pain. We exited transition together and walked for a bit. She broke into a run and after 1.5 miles, she was feeling like she could run. As for my run, I was feeling the effects of the workout the day before and decided to take it easy. I walk/ran the entire 3.2 miles and had a ball doing it saying hello to other racers, spectators and the like. I thought it better of me to take it easy..this is not my "A race". I want to be strong, healthy, fast and READY for St. Anthony's. Beth finished 5 minutes ahead of me and met me at the finish line!! As expected...the bling appeared after the finish...ahhh one more medal for the collection

We checked the results to find that Beth had gotten 2nd in our Athena age group and I had gotten 3rd. I can't think of a better person to have ahead of me considering all the things Beth has done to help me with my running. We waited for the awards ceremony (something totally new to me) and got our "unusual awards"...a small thermos with the logo of the race and our age group division place on the back. I know its not what I expected but it was nice to receive something for the division finish.

I learned today that its tough to race on tired legs but Im glad that I participated. I was incredibly proud of Beth for pushing through the bumps and bruises and accomplishing her goal. She is going to do great at St. Anthony's!!!

In a few weeks, I have two major races: St Anthony's and the Gulf Coast Triathlon. I feel like I am ready for the Olympic Distance...but Im not sure if I am ready for the Half always...i will keep you posted!!!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Become Part of THE ARMY

I was poking around Facebook and came across this video. Although I am no longer part of the LiveStrong Challenge, most of my friends know that this is where my heart is...I am a warrior against Cancer. Cancer is a cowardly disease that took my grandfather, threatened the life of my father and ended the life of my 8 year old Godson.

I use to be embarrassed to ask people for money for this cause, but Cancer has just destroyed too many lives. We HAVE to find a cure. Right now, I am part of the Janus Charity Challenge through Ironman North America. This Challenge is for Ironman Triathletes who want to raise money for their charity while training for the most difficult endurance event of their lives. I have made a huge goal of raising 25,000.00 before November to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Every donor at my site will be listed on the jersey I wear at Ironman Florida 2009: 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking and 26.2 miles of running: all for two goals...two end this disease...and to be called an Ironman.

I am asking anyone who reads my blog to follow the link below and donate anything you can for Cancer Research. I believe that if we find a cure for blood cancers, we WILL find a cure for ALL CANCER. Whatever you can donate, I thank you from the bottom of my heart!! Let's all join the fight...Let's all help save the lives of our friends, neighbors and families. 2