Monday, August 31, 2009

Life is a Highway

Well..actually...for me yesterday, it was a brand new, smooth, paved CLOSED 5 mile section of highway that was perfect for 10 mile loops!! Welcome to what I have now called "The Power Loop"...a section of highway not yet connected near the Stanton Power Plant in Avalon Park in Orlando. I had a shorter ride to do yesterday (just 30 miles) but some of it was a time trail test. This section of highway was PERFECT for this ride!!

And, for a change, I didn't have to workout alone. Along for the ride were Ryan, Kate, Coach Beth, and Carolyn-all Team in Training participants or alumni who are training for various events. Carolyn is doing a century ride in October. Kate and Ryan are doing Augusta 70.3 and Beth is doing the 70.3 and Ironman Florida. (you will find the blogs noted on my blog page).

It was so nice to have someone to chat with and, in some cases, CHASE during this ride. No traffic, no congestion...just open road and the sunrise. Some people don't realize how inspiring they can be with a kind word or just riding with you through the miles. It was a short but wonderful experience

I am preparing to leave tomorrow (Tuesday) for Panama City but this was a fun workout and watch out world, these athletes are WELL prepared for their challenges ahead!!

More from Panama City when I arrive tomorrow....and Oh yeah..GO TEAM!!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

70 days to Ironman..and 6 days to focus

I know a lot of people that freak out about birthdays. Women worry about getting older. Some women get enough plastic surgery to try to look like a teenager while others age with grace and beauty. My mother is one of those who is aging with grace and beauty on the outside...and fighting the aging process kicking and screaming on the inside. She is always a lady and always so poised and elegant.

Me, on the other hand. I am unique. When a doctor says you won't see 40, being 46 is a celebration of 6 years you didn't think you would have. From that moment, I have vowed to live like I was dying. Every day is a special gift with so many possibilities. Don't get me wrong. Like everyone, I have my share of crummy days that make you wanna scream and pull your hair out but even then, you can see the good in another day.

So, as the clock ticks down to Ironman, and I start to getting VERY nervous, I am looking forward to spending my birthday in a place where I will be writing my own little bit of history. Im going back to Panama City for almost a week.

For 3 of those days, I will be alone. I will be there to train and just clear my head. On Wednesday I will do another long ride. On Thursday a long run and then Friday some swimming. Then the weekend will be full of short early morning workouts before the sunrise and before my friends and my husband even wake up.

I want to sit out on that beach and invision this race in my head. I want to see myself exiting the water strong and determined and UNDER the cut off. I want to walk the stairs and go into the parking lot where transition will be. I want to see in my mind's eye a transition to the run and a mini celebration of accomplishing that cut off...and finally..seeing the finish line and finally attaining one of the most difficult goals in my life. I know this is all just a mind **ck but .. hey...I got the condo for free (I have a friend who owns a unit at the Boardwalk and gave it to me for that time) so why not use it. I asked for vacation a long time ago during my birthday so I have the time why not take some time for me to get my head straight...all on my 46th birthday,

So if you are up that way and see the short stocky chick pedaling or running the Ironman course, say hi. I might be starving for some company until my friends and hubby arrive on Friday!!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Swimming in the dark

Its YOU know where your aspiring Ironman Triathlete might be??

AWAKE!! Very awake!! UGH!! The two men of my household "sing" perfect harmony about this time...which keeps me awake. My 100lb golden retriever named Murphy snores almost as loud as my husband. As my eyes opened at 3am, I had to giggle as the dog would snore...and then my husband...and then the dog...and get the idea!!

I take comfort in knowing that they are sleeping like rocks. Me...when I sleep...Im usually out..but this week has been a light week of workout so my eyes are open after 5 hours sleep. I decided to get up, make coffee and see what I could accomplish at this hour of the morning.

I am blessed with the fact that I have several places to workout around town. I belong to a fitness club just 3 minutes from my house, I have access to my old high school's aquatic center, I have an endless pool in my backyard pool AND I belong to the YMCA. I know..that's ridiculous but its called having your bases covered.

At 4am, I decided to find out who opened the earliest of all the venues. The YMCA Aquatic Center is open at 530am. The High School Pool at 6am. My endless pool is always an option but it would wake up my husband if I fired it up at this hour. Ahhh..but to my surprise, the fitness center near my house is open at 500am. The only drawback-the pool is outdoors.

I grab my gear and head out the door at 445am. My dog looks at me like I must be on crack. I swear he gave me that look of "You BETTER not be planning to take me for a walk at this hour"

I signed in at 501am and wrote "pool" next to my name. The attendant looked at me and said "You know..there is only one light in that'll be swimming in the dark." I told him that was ok and headed out to the pool deck. He looked at me like I had two heads.

There is something very peaceful about a pool that you have all to yourself. No fighting for lanes. No trying to figure out which lane is the slowest so you don't hold people up in their workout. I slipped into the water to find the temperature quite nice. This was an awesome idea.

I pulled out my workout sheet and laughed. No light to read it. I jumped out, ran over to the outdoor building light and read through Hector's idea of a aquatic good time and jumped back in.

An into the dark i went. You could see the wall but it was a very strange environment to swim in. I felt like I was back in blackwater scuba class with a partially blacked out mask. Heck, if I can scuba dive in zero visability, I can swim in this.

An hour and 30 minutes later, I jumped out of the pool quite satisfied that I had accomplished one of my two workouts for the day....all before 640am.

Thanks guys...I never thought i would be happy with your snoring :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

7 hours and 1 minute of reflection

When they say that Ironman is a Journey and not a destination, I couldn't agree more. I have sat down to write this post probably a half dozen times. I changed the title four times. Im not really this "specific" about what I put here but this workout was very important to me. I really needed to see progress.

I slept well but was up at 4am. I went and got coffee for everyone and enjoyed the quiet stillness of the early morning. I swear that most of my life is planned out in these quiet hours of the morning while the rest of the world slumbers. I ride, I run, I swim, I blog and I just get my life together in the peacefulness that is the early morning.

With breakfast eaten and bike suited up, I found myself waiting for my riding partner who was just not organized. I have to tell you, this is unusual for Rick. He is usually ready to rock and roll for any workout or race but today I think he was just a little distracted. It's hard to leave your beautiful girlfriend alone on a gorgeous beach on a perfect day to go ride for 7 hours. Wouldn't you rather just be kicked back on the sand??

And believe me, as we rode down the elevator with our bikes and everyone else with coolers, towels and sunscreen, I thought about how crazy my life has become. THIS is what normal people do, I told Rick. Rick looked right at me and said "Your average "NORMAL" person isn't an Ironman! How could I argue with this logic??

We mounted up and with Rick's girlfriend, Lisa, taking photos, we rolled out of the Boardwalk Beach Condos at 7am. I hit my watch and set my goal in my mind. I wanna be back here in 7 to 7 1/2 hours.

We got on to Front Beach Road and you could feel the breeze starting to pick up. I would rather the wind be in my face at the BEGINNING of the ride and not at the end so this was ok with me. As we turned onto the first major Highway (Hwy. 79), the wind hit us head on. This is like an endless mountain climb as you work against the elements. I got my head into a place where I was totally focused and for the first 25 miles, we battled the wind.

Up and over the bridge at mile 12 and I am amazed at my rate of climb. This ability has definitely improved much to my shock. Meanwhile, Rick is climbing like a rider in the tour and blows by me with no effort. All I can do is admire his ability.

Going downhill, however, I have no fear. I get as much speed and gearing going to extend the downhill run as long as possible. As we approach our first stop at mile 25, I am shocked to see that our favorite little country convenience store is closed. The only thing at the corner of Highway 79 and Highway 20 was a Boiled Peanut Stand. We stopped and discussed this first section and then continued on. We have now named the intersection "Peanut Turn".

Out of the wind on Highway 20, we are flying. Some minor rollers in the terrain actually make this section of the course fun. Rick stayed behind me for most of the ride but on this section he wanted to test his ability and gearing so he went ahead as I kept my cadence just where Hector had told me.

Mile 35 and a super quick stop at a BP station that is still open and we are off. Thank goodness for the facilities as I had to really go 10 miles earlier.

The next 15 miles are challenging in spots and fun in others. I race from landmark to landmark so from the BP station, I am looking for the beautiful little river that we cross over. As I went over the bridge and looked down, there were people rafted together on intertubes floating down the waterway. Hmmm...everytime I do this ride, I promise myself I am going to do that someday.

At mile 45, I have my first mental struggle. The one major hill before the Special Needs stop has got me frustrated as I grind my way up. I am talking to myself the whole way. I swear, if you heard me talking to myself like I was, you would have me locked up. They are always positive words but it just sounds funny out in the middle of nowhere.

Finally, I see the major intersection at mile 50 and I feel fantastic. Much to my shock, I pull into the truck stop to find that Lisa, Mike and Vi have set up one of the picnic tables in the parking lot with a huge umbrella and a full array of food and COLD water!! Im telling ya...I have NEVER had a support stop like this on a bike ride before. We had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a rest stop, and topped off our gels and gatorade. If the race stopped right here, I would be feeling amaizng. It is interesting how your body sets barriers. I have been training for half Ironman races for almost 3 years now so my body has gotten accustom to a max of 56 miles. Today, we were gong to rework some physical barriers.

We waved goodbye to our support crew and headed on our way. Onward to mile 60 and the turn from the Highway to Campflower Road. Due to construction, we had to stop and walk our bikes across some serious gravel, mud and debris.

This is where, for me, the struggle really begins. This 10 mile section of road is rough due to expansion joints they have cut into the road to battle the hot/cold temps. Every 10 seconds on this section of the ride you feel like someone is nailing you in the privates with a nail gun. Its very frustrating and it can actually rattle your teeth. We make it to mile 70 and I am in tears.

Why the tears? I wasn't cramping. I am not sick to my stomach. My speed could be better but the biggest problem is my mental game. I am struggling mentally to grasp that I have 42 miles left to go. I have found my mental barrier and it appears right at mile 70. Rick and I talk about this as we ride and I am determined to overcome this feeling of just wanting to call and get a ride home. "I HAVE to do this"

Now its interesting to note here that I have done 7 century rides in my life and several 100+ mile workouts. If I let myself for one moment thinking about the total miles ahead of me, I get totally discouraged and want to quit. If I race from landmark to landmark, I seem to be fine. I just can't THINK about the mileage. As crazy as that sounds, that is the only way mentally I seem to be able to accomplish this distance.

At mile 80, I start to actually experience some discomfort and in, of all places, my neck. I am blessed with a new bike that has been fitted so well I can now stay in aero a whole lot longer than I ever thought possible. The drawback of that is that I don't believe I have trained my back and neck to be in the position for that long. At mile 80, all i want to do is look DOWN instead of AHEAD.

At mile 88, another mental barrier stands before me, and it almost trips me up. My feet are hurting but I am not thinking straight. If I had just loosen the straps on my shoes, I would have probably avoided that pain. I finally talk my way out of this with Rick's help and we continue on.

We return back to the bridge at mile 100 and it was as if someone had opened a door and let the sunshine in. I felt better and I was excited about finishing. I picked up my pace, I enjoyed the views from the top of the bridge. I focused on creating a little more speed (but at this point, my legs are a little fatigued) and getting back the condo. We finally have the wind to our back and we are making great time down next to the beach.

We make the turn onto Thomas Drive and a smile crosses my face. In my mind, I can see the transition area. I can see the finish line and all the people. I can hear the crowd. I even went so far as to follow the chute into what would be T2 and stop my watch.

I practiced dismounting my bike. I couldn't help but smile, and then cry. Never in my life have I wanted to accomplish something as much as I want to complete this race. Today, I felt like I took one more step forward toward that very precious goal.

Hector and I spoke after the workout. I explained to him my struggles and that I felt like I was the only one who must have these mental battlegrounds. He told me I was silly....that ALL athletes at one time or another face fear and deal with the desire to just go home. Today, he told me, I took a sledgehammer to the concrete barriers that are holding me back from attaining my dream. We just need to keep breaking away that concrete because, underneath lies an Ironman!!

105 miles = 7 hours 1 minute = 14.97 mph

Friday, August 21, 2009

Greetings from the Finish Line-Friday Aug 21 2009 read that just right...Im at the Finish Line.

Greetings from Panama City Beach Florida

This weekend is an important one as I plan to ride the Ironman Florida Bike Course..the full 112 mile bike on Saturday and then run half of the Ironman run course..a mere 13.1 miles on Sunday. No big deal.

Well...not exactly.

This is a VERY big deal to me because this place is a venue of triumph and tears. I have had my heart broken here on two different occasions...and celebrated in victory on another occasion. For me, this is a proving ground..and tomorrow...I plan to show that all the work is paying off...Im ready to cover these 112 miles and do it in the best time of my life.

I have been extremely blessed with an incredible group of close friends have come to support me and my business partner Rick. First off, Rick is riding with me tomorrow. He is already an Ironman Florida Finisher from 2007. He decided when I signed up to give this another go in 2009 that he would do one more Ironman...just one. So here he is, getting a little riding of his own in.

My oldest and dearest friends, Mike and Vi are here to help. They are going to meet us at the half way point of the bike to supply extra fluids, nutrition and a cheer or two.

And finally, Lisa, Rick's amazing girlfriend is getting her second taste of triathlon and training for an Ironman. She attended the St. Anthony's Triathlon with us this year but is learning alot about gu, gatorade, ice baths and body glide (maybe...too much information?? :)

Im nervous...Hell...let me be blunt...Im scared. It is so important to me to cover this bike ride in 7 to 7 1/2 hours. If I can do that, I know I will have enough time for the run.

Im almost too tired to type. It was a 7 hour ride to Panama City...a dinner out and some time setting up the equipment. The test begins tomorrow at 7am...

As always..Ill keep you posted...

Monday, August 17, 2009

You can't control the weather..

Ok...before you start reading, I am asking for 1 minute of bitch time via my blog. Pull out your stopwatches and time me if you like. After that, I am not going to mention this silliness again....READY??? GO!!!

For weeks, Florida and the Caribbean have enjoyed one of the quietest Hurricane Season on record. Just when you start to get comfortable....WHAM!! Here they come!! Being a native Floridian, I can tell you, we DON'T takes these things lightly. There are a lot of storms that are no big deal...some water, some wind, a few hours without power and you are back to reality and cleaning up the sticks and leaves in your yard. Then there are other storms that put electrical transformers in your pool, crack the pool foundation, destroy your pool enclosure and rip your entire electrical panel off your house and leave you without power for 6 weeks. Sounds like Im talking from experience? Well....yes I am.

I am frustrated. For weeks, I have been planning to go to Panama City to train. I have changed the date twice because my training partner, Rick, had some scheduling conflicts. What weekend did we choose??? THIS WEEKEND!! The remnants of Tropical Storm Ana are forcasted to find their way right over Panama City for the weekend making a training ride one serious mess.

Cross your fingers!! As storms can die out, change direction or loop around and bite you in the butt (like Hurricane Charley did 5 years ago and caused the damage described above)..I am hoping that this storm falls apart and heads to Texas where they REALLY need the rain.

Come on weather gods, cut the girl some slack so she can get prepared for the race of her life!!!

Bitching concluded.....did I make it under one minute???

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A life defined...

I learn so much from other people. I think that is why I enjoy reading the words of others. I think you can learn a lot by reading people's thoughts and words. I truly enjoy spending time early in the morning looking at other blogs and seeing the lives that people lead.

Recently, I had a friend decide that doing a Half Ironman was not what would make her happy. She realized that a family was her heart's desire. She made a difficult decision to switch paths to achieve the happiness that she desired so much. As I read her blog, I swear I almost stood up and applauded!! Isn't this what life is about.?

Words, blogs and lives. I have a terrible habit of having a big mouth so A LOT of the time I don't LISTEN when I should. That is why I adore reading blogs about people's lives. It gets around my faulty wiring and gets to the heart and soul of people. If they really open up in their blog, wow!! The things you can learn about life, about yourself and about the special people that God has put into your world.

Lately I have felt like such a failure. I have felt very inferior in a lot of the things that I do. This isn't anything new. I have often felt this way but it has increased recently because, let's face it, being a plus size woman who wants to achieve a goal like Ironman can give you ego a kick in the pants. Ive made a lot of mistakes over the last few months but I have had good friends who have forgiven my mistakes and have been wonderful to me. Like I have said many times before, I am blessed.

Spend 5.5 hours on a bike and you have tons of time to think and contemplate your life. I use to think that I was doing my part for the world around me but I realize there is so much more I can do.

The Ironman helps close a chapter in my life. It is the perfect metaphor for the struggle that I have undergone in the last 11 years to claw my way back to life. The person that walked the face of the earth in 1998 no longer exists. She was sad and depressed and used food to try to make things better. This person in 2009 sees that there is so much to life. This person sees that she will make serious mistakes and errors in judgement and still have friends who care about her. Training has taught me more than I ever dreamed possible. Life is full of endless possibilities!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

111 Laps...

Nope it wasn't in a pool

Not in a lake either...

No..not the local outdoor track

Nice try but the Daytona 500 is..well..not 111 laps

Last week I had some trouble with motivation and the desire to sleep. Sunday morning included the destruction of one alarm clock and the rearrangement of my workout. (See the previous post) "Ill do it Monday morning" I told myself Well...even the best plans of Ironman Triathletes can get the monkey wrench treatment even on the best day.

Monday morning came and it required me to get some boot camp work done (don't you hate how making a living gets in the way of training). Between delivering equipment to a location, doing a fitness assessment and getting the new computer and accountant up to speed in our office, my business took up all of Monday morning and some of Monday afternoon. By 3pm, I finally had the opportunity to do my long run.

One problem: the heat index outside was right at 100 degrees. Hmmm...considering the workouts I had coming this week, running for 13 miles in that kind of heat MAY not be the best choice.

The first option to come to mind was the treadmill...or as I like to refer to them as DREADMILLS. I have one at home and access to several at various YMCA's around Orlando. I hate them. I despise them. I only use them when no other option is available. As I felt the broiler like conditions outside, I thought..."well...this might be the only option."

But then I remembered...

The Crosby YMCA near the Winter Park Hospital has an indoor track. Air Conditioning and a padded surface. This would be fine and much better than the treadmill. Or was it??

I got to this YMCA that I haven't gone to in almost a year and checked in at the front desk. I remembered that they loan out hand "clickers" for those using the track so you could keep track of your laps. As I made my way up the stairs to the track, I was proud of myself for another set of problem solving until I saw the sign:

11 laps = 1 mile

Yikes!! Are you kidding me?? Suddenly the treadmill looked pretty good. I looked around and I basically had the place to myself so.... I stopped whining, put my headphones on and hit the track with clicker in hand. Starting out with a jog, I varied my run workout with a little speedwork and some general pacing.

At one point, I simply STOPPED looking at the counter. It depressed me. I felt ok but the thought of multiple laps got me down. I just listened to my music and tried not to think about the number of laps left.

And then it hit me....this really is some pretty good Ironman training. You can't look at the 111 laps (I did the last 3 miles on a treadmill) as a whole. You have to take it apart and set smaller goals...smaller milestones...and celebrate those. For me , it was a sip of gatorade, or a switch to my favorite song on the Ipod. Milestone after milestone, I made it through 10 miles on this tiny little track.

And as I look back at my journey to this experience known as Ironman, I tried very hard not to look at the fact that I had over 250lbs to lose (and Im still in the process of making it to that goal), but I looked at every 5lb loss or every 10 lb milestone. I didn't run a marathon to start. I started with a 1 mile walk, then a 5k, then a 10 k, then a half marathon and so on.

The mental game of Ironman is to break it apart. Make it into manageable pieces and milestones. Not only are my workouts to train the body to endure but to teach the mind how to conquer the distance.

Pardon the pun...but I think I lapped this workout up!! :)

As always, I will continue to keep you posted (and hopefully find some better jokes!! )

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Is your dream worth it...

I find the interaction between body and mind very interesting...more so now that I am pushing my physical abilities above and beyond anything I thought I would ever do in my life. It is amazing how the mind can take control when the body is just fine moving and performing a task.

And so goes the situation with food and nourishing the body for Ironman. For someone with an eating disorder, food is used for comfort in times of stress, discomfort, frustration, anger, fear, doubt, pain, sadness or any other emotion you could possibly imagine. Its also normal for a person who does, lets say, a 5 hour bike workout, to be VERY hungry when the workout is done.
Combine the two and you have a recipe for alot of negative behavior.

Im fighting an uphill battle with weight but I am determined. The one thing I DON'T like seeing recently is using food as a reward system. Finish your long swim, get a big breakfast. Cover 80 miles on your bike then you can afford a brownie. That's not how this is suppose to work but in my mind, those thoughts and actions have started to creep in. Dangerous dangerous ground here.

I have been maintaining my weight (I lost 11 pounds early on in my training but the scale has only fluctuated up and down about 5 pounds since). With all that I have been doing, you would think that I would be dropping weight like crazy but between thyroid issues and not ALWAYS making the best food choices, my weight has been stable.

If you only knew how hard it is to write this stuff but I think it is better to put it out there and get it out of my mind and heart so that it can be faced and addressed. Don't get me wrong, Im not a a binge. Im not eating to the point of being overstuffed. Im not sitting down alone and shoveling in food (but I use to do that). I just know these signs and I know, with just 88 days to Ironman, now is the time to make some changes.

I truly believe I am not the only person to battle this and train for an Ironman. Im sure there are others in this triathlon community that have to watch what goes in their mouth. I also see a vicious cycle of healthy eating for 3 days and eating junk for one or two. Thats not binging but its not healthy either.

So...I have been trying to keep this thought in the forefront of my mind in relation to everything that goes in my mouth: Is your dream worth it?? Will whatever you are putting in right now help to attain that goal?? If it's not, is it really worth it?? It sounds so basic, I know, but for someone with emotional eating, you have to take it one meal, one bite and one day at a time.

For some this is so simple...for is the battle ground that may make the difference between 16:59:59 or a DNF.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Ironman Problem Solving

I went to bed early last night...trying to get rest for my big day ahead. I had decided to do a 13 mile run on Sunday so I was hydrated, rested, and fortified for the challenge. My eyes closed immediately and I was off to sleep before my head hit the pillow. At 1am, my husband arrived home from a 4 day flight cycle. He is an airline pilot who ended up with a delayed flight then a delayed flight home. It had been a long day for him.

I woke up for just a moment to greet him, give him a hug and go back to sleep. 5am would arrive very quickly.

As the alarm went off at 5am, I finally did what I joked about doing. I broke my alarm clock! I hit it three times with my fist apparently and went back to sleep. It wasn't until 9am that I awoke to a lightly sore hand and alarm clock that was in pieces. You think my body was trying to tell me something??? My husband giggled as we stared at the broken time sentinel that had served me well for the last two years of Ironman training. I am sad to report...the sentinel is DEAD...very dead!

As I laid in bed and enjoyed something I haven't had in a long time, I felt guilty. I should be DONE with a run by now, I thought. My husband hugged me as he brought me coffee. "Enjoy this rest, Missey." he said. You have earned this. Your body is begging for rest if you go so far as to destroy the alarm clock in your sleep.

"Ill run tonight" I thought to myself...but I know that running in the evening is something I hate. I am a morning person (most of the time) so evening workouts are not my thing!! I like being on my bike at sunrise or hearing the shuffle of my feet on the trail as I hear the birds coming to life. The world is an interesting place at 530am. It is quiet..and serene...and tranquil..and if you are on the right road or all belongs to you.

So I went to breakfast with my husband and a good friend. I had dreamt of being able to do this for several weeks but I couldn't enjoy it. My head kept saying "You gotta get this training in...90 days til Ironman". My friend, Lisa, could tell that I was quite distressed by my lack of workout so she came up with a great idea.

"Don't you have a swim workout tomorrow??" she asked. "I do, I replied . She suggested that I join her with her boyfriend and my business partner, Rick, as they headed to the large pool at a local high school where my goddaughter, Jessica, was learning how to scuba dive. They were keeping an eye on her and I could get my workout in.

Now this was brilliant!! I hate working out alone and it would be nice to hang out with friends as I got a workout accomplished.

So goes the Ironman Problem Solving ... if you screw up there are ways to fix it ....thanks Lisa for helping me out and helping me stay on track. My 2400 yard workout was done...and I am more relaxed.

Don't mind me...I'm headed to the store to buy a new alarm clock!!!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Whining will NOT make you an Ironman..

I woke up this morning and it was one of those moment where you knew your workout would be a struggle. After a long run on Friday, today's double brick looked like the Ironman itself. Coffee didn't make it better but the company did. I got to work out with my Team in Training Triathlon Team as they prepare for the Nation's Triathlon.

Whine whine whine!! This seems to be the order of the day. Im exhausted and I returned home after a 4 mile run, 22 mile hilly bike workout in Clermont and 1 mile recovery run and SLEPT for almost 3 hours. Knees hurt, body hurts...I think my hair hurts. I think its time to order a cheese platter to go with all this WHINE!!

And in my mind I know: Recovery is as important as the workout. Sometimes you have to step back and know that overtraining just makes you tired...and it makes you stupid. It does NOT accomplish your goals. Rest to the muscles WILL!

So today's workout, although difficult, was not long distance. I took today to take care of me with a quiet afternoon of sleep, reading and enjoying the company of my 100lb golden retriever named Murphy. I had a nice quiet dinner with a triathlete friend and my husband will be home tonight late from 4 days of flying.

Whining will not make you an Ironman...but taking care of your body will. Tomorrow Ill get up and Ill do my long run for the weekend but then its back to some rest. I have been going a little harder than usual with charity functions, boot camp responsibilities and diving at Disney. Gotta take some time just to enjoy this journey and understand the body needs to recovery to perform.

Friday, August 7, 2009

3 months..and a heart to heart with the folks

90 days...3 months...Wow!! As I type that, my stomach ties in knots.

129,600 minutes until the gun goes off!!

Now doesn't that get your attention!! ??

There is something about the 90 day mark. So much can happen in 90 days but can ENOUGH happen in 90 days to make a difference towards an Ironman. Hmmm...makes ya think.

I had my workout with Hector yesterday and I asked for my weekly dose of "cheap therapy". All he told me is that I am 10 times stronger than I was a year ago. Now you gotta understand, Hector doesn't throw out casual compliments. When he says something like that-he means it. I left the session with head held high (and sweat rolling down my usual).

The one thing that Hector suggested is that I have a heart to heart with my parents. He agreed with all of the comments that were made in my earlier post (Family and Ironman) that the parents should NOT attend. He sighted several reasons, most of which were made in YOUR comments to my blog!! See how smart you guys are!!! Im so lucky to have made a connection with so many smart people online!!

So, off to my parent's house I went. My folks are adorable at times. Approaching their 59th wedding anniversary, they remind me of two newlyweds who love to travel. They don't stay still for long. Coming in from some time in the Bahamas, they are off to North Carolina with only a day at home. Grass does not grow under their feet so I had to grab them before they were gone until September.

As I sat down in their living room, my mother looked at me and said: "You're gonna tell me you're hurt right??" "Something has happened in this Ironman training that has you injured right??" No...thank god...I am doing ok Mom!!

As I explained to them that I would worry about them worrying about me if they attended...they laughed. They told me that it wouldn't matter where they were, they would worry about me regardless. Last year, they did not come to the race. They didn't understand it. They didn't agree with it and they certainly didn't want any part of it but when they called and got my husband on the phone and found out I was in the medical tent, they were half way to the airport to come to Panama City.

They understand my reasons for them not attending the race and have agreed to track me as they watch the Florida vs Vanderbuilt game in Gainesville. "Gainesville is not that far away guys" I told them. "If I need you, you are just a few hours away".

So the DRAMA of the family attending is now a non issue!! I got bigger fish to fry this weekend. Before me is a 13 mile run and a 100 mile bike!!

As always, Ill keep you posted :)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

How two flat tires can prepare you for Ironman

...and NO...Im not talking about the kind on your bike...

Its Thursday! Thursdays are a pivotal day in my training week. It usually is a day that I am battling serious fatigue and have to really focus to get my body out of bed for a workout. This morning the alarm went off..and I was up...ready for a swim at Lucky's Lake. No struggle today...but my body had other ideas.

I was running a little behind (I just have to have a small cup of coffee before I hit the water) so I arrived at Lucky's greeted by a full house and a full parking area. I parked my car on the street and headed into Dr. Meisenheimer's yard. As I approached the dock, I noticed it was a busy day with about 40 or 50 people ready to swim.

I entered the water and after about 2 strokes I knew today was going to be rough. My body needs a rest day but I continued forward determined to get the laps in.

I exited the water, grabbed my gear and headed for my car. Tossing the gear into the backseat as I always do, I turn the vehicle on and headed home.

As I got out of my car at home, I heard this horrible hissing sound...coming out of not ONE but TWO tires on my SUV!! Crap!! This is just not what I need today as I inspected the tires for leaks. Two perfect slices in each sidewall look pretty suspicious but my concern was getting the vehicle to the shop and getting it back up to speed. My friend Rick called AAA and I called the Tire Store. I shopped 3 companies and found the best price and by the time the tow truck arrived, I had the proper address for the driver. The shop got my car and had the tires being brought in and the work will be completed in a couple of hours.

As I drove my friend Rick's extra car to my workout with Hector, I started to think of how I could learn from this situation. How could I apply a double flat on my car to Ironman and it came to me....I never got upset about it. Sure, I was surprised to find my SUV listing to the left from the flats but I didn't go to pieces. If this had been a year or two years ago..I probably would have been a mess or in tears.

Ironman is not only about strength and speed and determination but also about problem solving. If you watched last year's world championship, you saw the women's leader Chrissie Wellington on the side of the road with a blown tire and no Co2 canister to fill the flat. She problem solved. She asked for a pump. She asked other racers for assistance (which is legal). Finally, word got back to a friend on the course who offered up her Co2 canister to fill her tire. I watched as Chrissie stayed calm and then, at a blistering pace, took back the lead of the bike course after the tire was fixed. She didn't panic. She problem solved her way to a second world championship title.

The mental game of this race is one of the things I think I can control and wish to focus on in the coming weeks. There have been quite a number of people who have crossed the finish line while others watching have said : NO WAY. I want to be one of those people who beat the odds. I KNOW I can be one of those people. I just got to get my head in the game!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Recognizing the signs....

I guess you could say that I am frustrated with thyroid and doctor visits. I guess I could blame stress with work or family or whatever. It all sounds so silly when the fact of the matter is: sometimes EVERYONE has a bad day with food! For someone with major emotional eating challenges, however, it can turn into more than just one day...

When workouts get more difficult or more intense, I find myself thinking of food as a reward instead of nourishment. This is a very dangerous and slippery slope for me. This is how things get out of control and before you know it, you are 10 pounds heavier.

I have to pat myself on the back in one way: I saw this coming. Instead of letting it envelope me, I am confronting those feelings and emotions head on and not losing hope. I know that this will take a bit of refocus and determination.

Just as my workouts have started to fall into place, I know that my nutrition can improve as well. Although this has been my stumbling block for decades, I have not lost hope that I can conquer even the mildest of detours off the road to healthy eating. I have learned not to beat myself up about it, but to recognize the signs that lead to this behavior.

I always joke that this blog is "cheap therapy" but it is one of those ways I grab ahold of my behavior and make the positive change. Tonight, I have been asking myself "Which is more important...the food...or being an Ironman?" Boil it all down, and that is the bottom line.

So instead of saying : tomorrow Ill be better, I have made the choice to grab this moment and focus. Im worth it. My dream it worth it. I will NOT let the hard work I have put into this journey be for nothing.

Inspiration and Dedication from a true Ironman Hero..

From Cancer to Kona
Christina Gandolfo profiles amazing Kona qualifier Andrew Johnston

Published Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Despite living with leukemia, Andrew Johnston has qualified for Hawaii and is racing on a mission to raise money, awareness and hope for those living with cancer.

It was mile 112 of the 2004 Ford Ironman USA Lake Placid bike leg, and Drew Johnston was tearing through the best triathlon of his life. In just his second-ever Ironman, the 32-year-old age grouper from Decatur, Georgia, was riding near the front of the field on a notoriously brutal course. He ended the bike in 20th place overall, looking primed to break the 10-hour mark.
But when he exited T2 and tried to run, Johnston’s stride was halted. Initially, he dismissed the bone and joint pain he felt as the ordinary “torment” anyone might experience during an Ironman. But with each step the severity of the aches worsened.

By mile 15 the pain was so severe forward motion was no longer an option. “With every step I took I felt like someone was hitting my legs with a baseball bat,” he remembers.

After coming so far - 129.4 miles to be exact - Johnston did the only thing possible: He stopped, stumbled off the two-lap run course, and called it a day. It was at that moment that his world came crashing down.

Not that he knew it then.

It would be weeks before Johnston understood the full impact of what happened in Lake Placid. When he learned the pains he suffered were triggered by his vascular system going terribly awry, a new reality became apparent -- his life had changed forever.

A hematologist/oncologist told Johnston that he had chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). He also explained that if Johnston was lucky enough to survive the disease, odds were he’d live with it the rest of his life.

Two years later Johnston, now 34, is living with CML, a bone marrow cancer in which white blood cells begin growing normally but fail to mature and die as intended, thereby accumulating to dangerous levels which inhibit normal bone marrow cell growth. This puts the body at risk of life-threatening complications and infections.

Aside from a bone marrow transplant -- an invasive procedure with many potential risks and complications -- there is no cure for CML. Those afflicted live with symptomatic treatments that have their own host of side effects.

For Johnston, a successful personal trainer and coach in Decatur, this means taking Gleevec daily, monthly blood testing at the Atlanta Cancer Care Center, and enduring excruciating bone marrow biopsies every six months at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Clinic in Houston, Texas, to monitor his cancer status.

While he is officially in molecular remission thanks to the “wonder drug” Gleevec, Johnston has been forever changed since his diagnosis.

The drug leaves him in a chronic state of anemia with resultant fatigue, a below normal white blood cell count, and uncontrollable muscle cramping that can strike at any time. It's happened while simply brushing his teeth or during long-distance triathlon racing, which Johnston returned to last year with impressive results that many healthy age groupers only dream of.

This past June, while competing at Ford Ironman Couer d’ Alene in Idaho, Johnston qualified for the Ford Ironman World Championship, despite enduring bouts of abdominal pain and intense hamstring cramping. He finished in 10:06, good enough to secure a roll-down slot to Hawaii.

“I qualified by the skin of my teeth,” Johnston will say. But after remembering that just 11 months prior he thought he’d never cross another finish line again, he reluctantly admits he’s proud of the effort.

For Johnston, being a successful endurance athlete comes down to mental fortitude and the belief that he’s one of the lucky ones.

“When I go for treatment and see people with no hair, in a wheelchair and with a mask covering their face I remember I’m blessed,” he says. “I wake up in the morning and tell myself I choose to be healthy, happy, confident and strong.”

However, Johnston admits there are times when he can’t help but think, “What if?” What if I’d discovered triathlon earlier? What if I hadn’t gotten sick?

These are natural questions for someone who once trained with the cycling team at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., and raced as a pro cyclist. After graduating from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., in 1994 Johnston and his wife Diana set off for Europe where he raced as part of the Belgian Haverbeke GB team and later the Palafrugal and Homs squads in Spain.

But after enduring three separate concussions following peloton crashes -- the last of which left his speech slurred and short-term memory impaired for months -- Diana, by his side since they were high school sweethearts, told her husband that his cycling days were history. Arguing wasn’t an option.

A year later, after getting lost on the way to a mountain bike race he ended up finding his new athletic direction. On an impulse he called a friend who was doing a duathlon the following day.

“I said, 'Where’s the race? I’ll be there.'”

Johnston finished fourth overall in the run-bike-run event, and wondered if multisport was his calling. Knowing there were a greater number of opportunities to compete in triathlon, Johnston asked his wife -- a former competitive swimmer -- to teach him freestyle swimming.

“My strategy that first season (2001) was: ‘Don’t drown, kill ’em on the bike, and hang on for dear life on the run,’” Johnston says.

It worked. In his first season of triathlon racing Johnston placed in the top five overall in 10 out of 11 races; was named Georgia Olympic Distance Triathlon Champion; placed fifth at the National Iron-distance Championship (held at the Great Floridian); and the following year qualified for the World Long Course Triathon Championship. He was also named All American Triathlete three times by USA Triathlon.

After battling to regain his fitness despite his leukemia diagnosis, Johnston is primed to do the remarkable in completing the most revered triathlon in existence, the Ford Ironman World Championship.

He says a perfect race in Kona would mean breaking the 10-hour mark, but his only true objective is to finish amid the smiles, and no doubt a few tears, from the many supporters who have helped him fulfill a dream.

His massive support crew in Hawaii will include Diana (who will be more than halfway through her pregnancy with the couple’s first child), Johnston's mother, Bruce, who he calls his “biggest fan,” his sister, Heather and her family, one of his physicians, a handful of training partners, and if that weren’t enough, a film crew.

Johnston’s childhood friend, Jeff Keating, a screenwriter and filmmaker, is raising funds to produce a documentary about Johnston’s experience as a triathlete with CML. The film -- “Living is Winning: From Cancer to Kona” - will chronicle his journey to Hawaii.

And if he gets his way, Johnston says the film, along with his own personal efforts to raise $10,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, will not only raise awareness and money for CML, it will provide much-needed inspiration.

“My goal is to do some good and spread hope that cancer doesn’t have to mean stopping living,” he says. Spoken like a true champion.

To learn more about Johnston’s efforts to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, or to donate, go to:

To learn more about the documentary please go to or contact Jeff Keating at

You may contact Christina Gandolfo at

Monday, August 3, 2009

Im just so tired...

Its that time of year agin when the training finally catches up with you and you ask yourself every morning...

Why in the WORLD don't I just sleep in and forget about all this!!! tired as I am, I still get up and I still train. Don't get me wrong, there are A LOT of days where the battle rages on in my head about getting out there and getting the work done but usually, I will think of the finish line and all the other reasons I am doing this and it will get me there.

The hardest for me is when I miss time with my husband or my friends. This weekend, we were staying at Walt Disney World. My husband and friends went off to the parks while I went on a 2 hour run. Which would I have rather done?? Of course I would have loved to go ride some roller coasters but that dream is still in my head and my I give my husband a hug and a kiss and tell him Ill see him at the pool later.

I remember what taper madness felt like last year. I remember being in taper phase and going nuts so this also pushes me forward. These are the days that will decide if I will be an Ironman.

The heat here in Florida right now is just brutal making training that much more difficult. Its a darn good thing that I am a morning person because getting up early and getting on the road at or before sunrise makes a difference. My bike on Sunday in 93 degree heat was just rough but it would have been worse if I started at 8am instead of at 640am.

"Bleed in training so you won't bleed in battle..." I remember hearing a Navy Seal Instructor scream at his students in Coronado in May as they ran down the beach. made me think. Train hard. Race easy.

So as I battle fatigue, the vision of the finish line is like a movie playing in my head. That is where I am headed....under 17 hours!!!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Family and Ironman

***As you read the conversation, you must use your finest sweet southern accent when reading my mother's part***

Mom: Now, just how far do you swim in this thing, Missey?
Me: 2.4 miles Mom
Mom: Oh Heavens! You can't be serious?? and then??
Me: the bike Mom. You ride for 112 miles.
Mom: Missey, that's like going to Tampa (actually its farther..but please don't tell her that)
Me: Yes Mom...and then you run.
Mom: And how far is that?
Me: its a marathon Mom...26.2 miles.
Mom: This just can't be healthy! Missey, this is just crazy!!

And this is the conversation I have had with my mother about every other month since I decided to become an Ironman 2 1/2 years ago.

Now you can't blame her. She loves her daughter..and she's a worrier. She is scared that her only little girl is going to end up in the medical tent, the hospital or worse. I mean, give her a break. She has already had to sit through a conversation with my Doctor 11 years ago telling my family I didn't have a prayer of living past a year if I didn't consider the gastric bypass.

But what she doesn't understand is that Im in the best shape of my life. Im still overweight, but just like my doctor told me last week as I left his office still frustrated with weight issues and thyroid: " is better to be fit and fat...than thin and out of shape." "You have a strong heart, leaner muscles and a rock solid bone structure. You are in better shape than most of the women that walk through my door."

But Mom is going to worry. It's in her contract as a mother. I hate to see her like that so when she asks me about my weekend, I try to leave out details like : I ran 13 miles and did an 80 mile bike workout.

My concern now is that...Mom and Dad are considering attending Ironman Florida. Don't get me wrong. This is a HUGE STEP for relation to me. A year ago, they didn't want to hear about the race. They didn't think it was proper for a southern lady to be doing such a thing so for them to want to support me is an honor. I am humbled....BUT...

And like the one I sit on, this is a BIG BUT...I think I would be so nervous with them there. I would be a total mess. I would be worried about them worrying about me!! My fear is I will be nervous and snap at them...or say something wrong...or do something wrong that would offend them.

Last year, I was a bundle of nerves. This year, my goal is to take one day and just be a mess...and then let it go in the knowledge that I have done all I can for my Ironman day and what will be will be.

Has anyone else had to make the decision of having their family attend or not attend their first ironman??