Wednesday, May 27, 2009

164 Days...and counting

My Google Main Page is pretty amazing. You can track anything and everything from that one central, weather, sports...and for me....a counter to count the days until Ironman.

164 to be exact.

For some reason, I logged on this morning, saw that number and I could feel the panic starting to rise. 164 days. Now Im not one of those numbers people who would break it down to hours until the start of Ironman Florida but this realization of time flying by has gotten to me a little.

For the most part, I have focused on each day. Each day has a specific workout that must be accomplished. I can make it through any 24 hour period. So I look at my Training Peaks, where my trainer puts my workouts and tell myself: you just have to finish today's work.

Wednesdays are tough. Boot Camp from 5am to 9am, breakfast, time with my husband then I leave for Disney at 1030a. I work from 1130a to 830pm. Its kinda hard to fit a workout in there without sacrificing time with my husband. As we increase hours and miles in the coming months, my husband understands that I will have to use that time for a workout. For now, however, I have to find some balance.

My run has improved slightly. After yesterday, I felt a noticeable improvement in my endurance. I think my speed still sucks but that will not really improve until my weight decreases.

Speaking of weight, down another 2 pounds. This is painfully slow..but at least it is going in the right direction.

So today's 1.5 hour run will probably get moved to another day. I can't be up at the crack of dawn, work underwater for several hours and still do this run without feeling like someone ran over me with a bus!!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

This just doesn't get any easier...but man is it worth it


My eyes are wide awake. My body? That's a totally different story. I have been up and down all night. My hubby is home..and Im so glad he is here..but he snores. For some reason, I am sensitive to it tonight/this morning.

The routine for the 5am bike trainer class is basically the same. Up at 4am. Vitamins, make endurance drink for the session and load the car. A bowl of oatmeal ingested then its off to fulfill my coffee addiction. Just a few ounces of 7-11 coffee to get my body awake enough to function....then the short drive to the Downtown Y.

It does amazing me how many people consistently attend this early morning session. We look like worker ants as we all grab our bikes and trainers and bags and head into the gym and set up. Hector sets ups a loud CD player and we are off...pedaling for all its worth....and going least not mileage wise!

I like routine. It is a safe place...but it is also very boring. The sessions are always different but getting to and from can be quite mundane. Aero bars have a dual purpose at this times during the warm up, I can feel myself drifting a little bit. That pillow would feel so good right now.

But as I make it to the end of the session, I am energized. I go out for my recovery run and I am amazed at the energy I feel. Im awake. Im alive. I am so very blessed. I have the most incredible husband Im not battling cancer. I am not losing my house. I have a solid family. I have kind and caring friends. I am still alive at 46-six years longer than the doctor told me I had. Life is...well...its GREAT!!

The last couple of days have been hard for me. My parents would rather see me give up this dream and every time I see them, they make one more negative comment. I wish they would understand that training is so much better than being morbidly obese! Bon Bons...or Bike Trainer? Ill take the latter..

My brother and his wife are on a low carb diet and seeing a doctor that gives them a range of medication (B-12 and such) and an appetite suppressant. They have lost 30lbs. My parents are thrilled....giddy with excitement that they are losing weight. Then they turn to me and basically give me the "look"....

I am happy for them...and they look AMAZING...but that's not the path I want to be on...I want to have a balanced diet and do this right. Its not the easy way...but ITS MY WAY.

Time for that coffee.....

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Proud of the Graduates

Ok ok ok...I blog is suppose to be about my journey to Ironman...but please allow the "old crazy aunt" to have her moment of pride!! Today, my niece and nephew graduated from High School with distinction!! Palmer Yergey received the James Higgenbotham Award given to the graduating senior that best displays and lives the principles taught by their Christian based school. Interesting tidbit...i won this award on my graduation day from the same school oh so many years ago!!

My niece, Louise Yergey, graduated with National Society Honors!! thats a GPA of 3.7 or higher but trust me, her grades were near perfect.

Both are headed to college (Louise to the University of Florida..Palmer Jr. to Auburn University) and both have amazing aspirations for the future. I definitely played the role of proud crazy aunt today!! Good Job Guys!!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Meet Sterling...

Meet a new "member" of my family!! Considering how much time I am going to spend with this piece of machinery, I hope she will become a very good and faithful friend indeed. Meet Sterling. Yes, Im weird (but if you have been reading my blogs and are JUST figuring out that I am a little have issues yourself). I name my bikes..and yes, they are always girl names. The thought of riding a "boy" bike for 7 hours is a little obscene..don't you think!! she is now a Cervelo P3 with Dura Ace components and carbon EVERYTHING. My beloved husband went all out when we found this bike at the St. Anthony's Triathlon. See...I am only 4'11" to find my size bike IN STOCK is something that doesn't happen often. Outspokin Bike Shop in Clearwater was a vendor at the triathlon and just happen to have this top of the line bike-in my size-available for sale. Usually, I have to have a bicycle ordered in my size and it has taken up to 6 weeks for a bike to come in. Not this time...she is mine all mine.

I drove 2 hours over to Clearwater to have my bike fitted using the Retul system. This is a computer imaging system that take measurements on your on the bike using connection similar to those you would find when having an EKG. The connectors are place on strategic hip, knee, shoulder etc. to see their movement and placement on the bike and the aero bars. Pretty neat stuff huh!!!

The fitting took two hours and the recabling of the bike too another two hours. Meanwhile, I had the bike fitted with a new bike computer, cages and emergency kit. She is ready to roll..

Only one problem....its suppose to rain BUCKETS tomorrow!! Oh well...guess she will get her first ride on a trainer :)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

10lb hand weights, 20 flights of stairs and resistance bands...OH MY!!

Ok...You gotta either give Hector (my Ironman trainer) credit for his creativity, or wonder if he got some of his training techniques from working at Gitmo with our detainees!! Today was a workout I definitely didn't expect!!

I got to Hector's gym in his building downtown and got on the treadmill for a 20 minute warm up! Hector was running a little late so he rushed in with his tri bike and gear, set it down and pulled out some resistance bands. "Oooooohhh Noooo.." I thought to myself. Today is gonna hurt.

He came over to the treadmill and jammed the elevations from 3.0 to 9.0 and had me jog there for about 3 minutes. I watched my heart rate teeter on the high end of Zone 2...but it was as if he knew right where to set it to keep me in the zone.

He ushered me off the treadmill and handed me two 10lb weights and showed me the door to the stairwell. He sent me 20 flights up. By flight 5 I was starting to feel it, by flight 10 I was breathing hard, by flight 16, I was glad as hell whoever built this structure was superstitious and didn't put in a flight 13...and by the time I got to the top..I was whipped.

Hector took the elevator...of course.

He took one of my hand weights and sent me back down..the hard way of course to do this again.

When the stairs were done, we were not! He proceeded to take me through a series of drills using the resistance bands. One of these drills included wrapping the band around my waist and running across the length of the gym with Hector pulling on the other end. At the one hour mark, I was absolutely drenched in sweat and totally exhausted. I could speak and my heart rate was up there but he had kept an eye on things to make sure i was in the right zone.

Hector looked me and told me: "You are the strongest I have ever seen you in the months I have been training you. You are going to break 8 hours at Augusta. Stay focused on the training...not on the math. Believe in your training and this will all come together. Trust me."

There are alot of emotions I had for Hector today. (Especially climbing the stairs...I was planning his death with every step)..but one thing must be for certain...I definitely trust this coach to get me where I need to go.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wonderful Advice from a guy who has BEEN THERE

During my treadmill workouts, I like to pop in Ironman videos of past races and get inspired. Lets face it, running on the treadmill is a boring endeavour so anything that can make it more interesting works for me.

Ive watched the 2007 Ironman World Championships before. This is the race where the heavy favorites fall from the race. Natashia Badmann crashes, Norman Stadler is so ill on the bike he can hardly hold a line (I KNOW all about that feeling) and drops out and Faris Al Sultan is a no show for the race. Its a pretty amazing event...but even with all of that there was just one story that grabbed my attention and that was the story of Murray Frank.

Murray Frank use to be 350lbs. When he did this Ironman, he was still a rather large guy and was featured at the swim exit of the race. The announcer said "There are all shapes and sizes of Ironman triathletes, but some just make you say "No Way!". This comment just pissed me off. Of course, he's a Clydesdale...he couldn't possibly finish this race...right??

Wrong! Murray Frank completed the Ironman World Championships in 16 hours 44 minutes. Hmmm??!!! Well now, this was someone I just had to talk to if possible.

I went on the Internet and found his email address and sent him a note. I told him what I was trying to accomplish and asked if there was any advice he could bestow upon me. To my surprise, I got a response within an hour...and here was his reply:

Hey Melissa;

A 200lb weight loss makes you an Ironman of itself. I have been 350 and I know the struggle it is to overcome the challenges that got me there in the first place.

3 Half Ironman races to your credit is just outstanding. It is obvious that you have found the conversation with yourself that pushes you forward. One 1/2 Iron is a trophy. 3 is a lifestyle choice.

I am reluctant to take praise for my race in Kona in 2007. I was there by lottery and tried to avoid the attention of the camera’s. I was there as part of our lifestyle change that began in 2001 and has seen me finish 8 or 10 half’s, 3 marathons, Ironman Canada 3 times and then IMH in ‘07. My wife has fought her weight as well as cancer and she to has raced Ironman Canada 4 times since 2004 (and is going again this August).

The advice I have for anyone doing an Ironman is pretty vanilla. You have proven that you deserve to be there by all of your accomplishments and I would suggest you at least consider these 3 things:

Trust your training, the day is long and it will at times seem overwhelming. Make good choices as each challenge presents itself, and it sounds like you made a good choice last year when your body refused you. The Ironman is just many, many small accomplishments strung together over a very long day.

Do not allow the challenge of being forced to stop short last year, to change your mental attitude about your race this November. If you visualize the finish, recall that you have been visualizing it long before this year. You did not quit this race, your body asked you to defer until this year.

Race past the finish. Get some advice on how to train past the Ironman for at least 6 weeks. Change the routine to something that is unstructured and something you love, but keep moving. If you work towards a major goal and do not set goals beyond that point, it is easy to slide all the way back to where you once were. Find balance and do something for Melissa every day. Trust me on this one.

Think of me training along side you as I prepare for Kona again this October (yes – I got a lottery slot again). I will be leaner. I will be even better prepared. I will have even more fun than last time, and I will not slide backwards after finishing this time – it made the past 2 months of training very uncomfortable.

Keep me posted!


Now that's some great advice!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Running in the rain

Well..if you live in Florida at the moment, it appears that all our prayers for our drought ridden state have been answered at once. Its raining cats and dogs here..and it will be for the next few days. We oh so need the precipitation, but it does make for some uncomfortable training conditions.

Actually...I found I like running in the rain.

I awoke this morning at 4am...then proceeded to turn off my alarm. I woke up again at 450am and almost screamed!! DARN IT...Im gonna be late to my bike trainer season at the Y. My poor husband (who really deserves to sleep in on his days off) got to listen to me scurry around like a crazy woman gathering my stuff, jumping into cycling clothes and retrieving my bike from the workout room.

I got everything in and on the car and broke a few traffic laws to get to the Y at 5:05am. I set up and only missed about 4 minutes of the workout. I am noticing some improvement during these sessions. My cadence is getting just a little easier to maintain and one legged drills are not nearly as difficult (don't laugh..I can actually get all the way around now without dead spots). We finished up an hour on the trainers and Hector said he wasn't going to make people run their 20 minute recovery run in the rain .. that the group would do an obstacle course in the gym.

I went to Hector and asked if I could go run anyway. I think he was surprised. He gave me a 40 minute run and off I went.

I realized the rain is pretty nice as long as there is no lightening or thunder. The first 10 minutes of a run are always so uncomfortable off the bike. You would think by now, my transition muscles would get the clue that we are going from bike to run...but it takes a few minutes for this "machine" to get in gear. The rest of the time, I ran my Galloway method of 5 and 1's ..and felt really good.

Im trying hard not to focus on the time I need to make up in these races to finish at Florida in 17 hours. Im just looking at the workouts each day and putting in my 110%. Aside from losing weight, there really isn't anything else I can do but give my best.

Bring on the rain...

Monday, May 18, 2009

The formula...

Your Half Ironman Time X 2 + 1 hour = Your Ironman Time

Oh no...

This isn't good. I was standing at the wrap up party for our last season of Team in Training discussing the Ironman with an athlete. She told me this formula and my heart sank. If you go by this formula, my hopes of finishing the Ironman in 17 hours are lost. By this formula, I will be 40 minutes late to the finish line.

Meanwhile, my goal was to finish Augusta in 8 1/2 hours. Looks like I need to finish in 8 hours to even come close to the 17 hour mark.

I have 172 days to get strong and fast enough to make the cut off. I need to get rid of 40 minutes. Is this possible or am I setting myself up for the biggest humiliation of my life??

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Full of hope...

"I don't measure a man's success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom.”
~ General George S. Patton

I was on Facebook this morning (yes...I am a FB junkie) and found this quote listed under one of my friends. How profound.

If you read my last post, you might be wondering what my plans are for the next 5 months. Some of you even commented (I love comments...I really really do!!!) In the last 24 hours, I put the goals and plans on paper and took action.

1. I had a chat with my parents and explained to them that Ironman is an important goal for me. Whether they supported me or not, my plan is to continue to train and complete the event. My parents brought up the fact that I have EIA (Exercise Induced Asthma)...and I countered with a list of Olympic and Professional athletes with the very same thing. They brought up that I use to have stress fractures in my feet. I informed them I had an MRI and a bone density scan less than a year ago that showed I had some arthritis but that was fractures. They kept coming up with all these excuses...and I kept explaining that I was tired of excuses....I wanted action. With or without their support, I plan to move forward.

2. I got a new nutrition program and informed the nutritionist that she needed to PUSH ME. She needs to hound me on a regular basis to keep me on track. I don't know about you, but one of the hardest things to admit about yourself is your shortcomings. One of mine is consistancy. I need help in this area and hopefully this woman will help me and keep me on the right path. I KNOW its not going to be perfect...I have to keep reminding myself that if I stumble, I can't keep stumbling...that I have to correct it and get back on the right path of good nutrition.

3. Hector and I agreed to 2 workouts a week with one of the workouts being 2 hours. I explained, again, that I needed accountability. I have a hard time doing ALL the workouts alone. I need help!! He agreed and we have a plan.

The next months are going to be hard ones but Im ready. One of the hardest things to do is love yourself along with loving the others in your life. It took me this long to figure out that I haven't been loving and taking care of myself...its time to start.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A crossroads...

Now that Gulf Coast is done, I feel like I am at an intersection on the road towards Ironman. I have several choices. Go straight and continue on the path I have been on where there is no improvement in my times. Turn left, and bump up my workouts and probably make the 17 hour cut off...or make the right turn...continue to drop weight, gain speed, gain lean muscle mass and hopefully see a PR at Augusta 70.3.

It sounds like a simple choice doesn't it!! Go right....right!! Believe it or not...its not that simple in the real world of jobs, family and life in general.

My parents are not supportive of my racing. Matter of fact, my father sat down with my husband over lunch yesterday and asked him if there was any way "we" could convince Melissa to stop doing this "triathlon thing". "She's going to hurt herself" my father told my husband. Yeah...and I wasn't hurting myself 11 years ago as I sat on the couch stuffing my face at 380lbs. They use to be very upset with me that I wasn't active then. Now that I am active, they are still upset...guess I can't win there.

My eating has been under control but I have once again plateaued. It is as if I know just how much excess food I can consume before I start to gain weight. The objective in January was to lose 40 to 50 pounds by race day. At Structure House, I took off 13.5 lbs. and I have maintained that weight loss since then. The goal, however, it to lose the rest prior to November. Thats at least 26.5 pounds left. I gotta get serious about my eating.

My workouts have been completed but I know I can put a bit more heart and soul into them to make them more effective. If you race at all, you understand exactly what I mean. Some workouts, you just go through the motions. Other workouts are full of intensity and focus. I want ALL my workouts to have that intensity. Like I tell some of my clients: better to do 5 reps with perfect form than 15 reps with sloppy form.

So here I am at the crossroads. I have completed my 3rd Half Ironman. I can either stay in this safe place where I know I can achieve the distance....OOOORRR...I can move forward. Or as I told one of my training buddies: I can boldly go where most fat women have never gone before!!!

Left, Right or Straight??? Which path do you think I will choose?? :)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Exocising the demons..The Gulf Coast Half Ironman Distance Triathlon

The Gulf Coast Triathlon was so important to me for one simple reason: I needed a positive experience in Panama City before Ironman in November. The "demons" that haunted me after Ironman Florida are still in the back of my memory but they have been replaced by the memory of stepping across a finish line in the same spot as the Ironman Florida finish line. I know its kinda weird and crazy to think like this but, if you have been following my blog for awhile, this mindset and behavior should not surprize you. Ask my friends, fellow racing fanatics and co workers and they will tell you the same thing: when Melissa gets a goal, either help her or get out of her way. It becomes a passion.

And so was this race. We awoke at 4am to a shining full moon and a relatively clear sky. The waves were breaking on the beach and from what I could tell, it was going to be an interesting swim. Last year, the swim was SCARY rough. This year, the best way I could describe the condition would be : Messy!! The sea just couldn't decided what to do so the waves were going in all directions (or so it felt). I was up, out the door and the first in the transition area to set my gear. We then returned to our condo (right on the race site) and tried to relax. This was difficult for me...I was ready to go!! I was ready to accomplish this goal.

My wave left at 6:35am...which gave me PLENTY of time to complete this race by the cut off. As we enter the water, I saw several women get pushed back by the breakers. I used a couple of dolphin entries (thank you Sara McLarty) and got past the sandbars and really rough surf and began to swim. I set myself up to start far right of the buoys since I know I am slower than most people and it also gave me a clear swimming area to the outer marker.

I was nervous. I tried to slow my breathing down but I didn't really get into the groove of my swim stroke until the first turn. To add disguisting insult to the rough water, a woman got seasick right in front of my swim path. I made a hard right to avoid the contents of her stomach (GROSS!) and continued forward. As much as I wanted to stop and help her, I knew that today wasn't my day to do that.

As I made my way towards the beach, I finally checked my watch and realized I was going to match last year's swim time. Thats ok, I thought, it beats going slower. I came out of the water and worked my way up the sand to the showers and peeled my skin suit. As some of you may know, I don't swim with a wetsuit because, honestly, I have never found a suit that truly fit me...until this weekend. The rep from Blue Seventy fitted me very well with a WLA which is a women's ATHENA Reaction wetsuit ...but more on that later.

Into transition I went with memories of Ironman in my head. I rounded the corner to my rack which was directly across from the pros. I looked for my things..and couldn't find them. What?? It appeared that someone moved my gear after I left transition but I regrouped and got myself together. Helmet, glasses, socks, cycling shoes and I was off!!

Out on the road, I spotted my devoted husband waiting with camera to take lots of pictures. The cool thing about this bike course is that it loops back around after 2.5 miles so I got to see him twice. On the way back I got a highfive and I was on my way out to the rural world of Bay County.

The course was windy in parts with a tail wind in the early part of the course. The course includes one bridge that use to kill me when I would climb it in practice runs but after racing Tri Miami, this thing seemed like a bridge across the creek. I shifted into the lower gear and just made my way up!! We then made a turn for a 12 mile out and back near the new Panama City airport. Half the pavement is wonderful. The other half is a nightmare of potholes and broken asphalt. Thank god for my good bike seat.
After the turn around, I was dead into the wind and did well for about 6 miles until I felt myself starting to slow down. I have been training alot for Olympic distance racing and I can tell that I need to spend more time in the saddle. After mile 26, I was starting to lose steam but I pushed forward.

Back to the beachfront and a tailwind and I was renewed. I headed into transition about 3 minutes slower than last year. This is definitely an area for improvement. I racked my bike, grabbed my running gear and was out in a fast 2:51. I got the T2 thing down.

The run was exceedingly hot and offered little or no shade. The GREAT thing about this race is that they had a water station at every mile!! This was wonderful for Ice, Water and Gatorade. At each station, I filled my hat with ice and grabbed some Gatorade. After mile 4, I was down to a walk and my pace stayed there for the remainder of the race. This is DEFINITELY the place I need improvement and I plan to get some additional help with my running.

I met some unique people along the way. A man training for Ironman that had gotten kicked in the swim and was having a tough day .At mile 5, I saw my training partner, Rick, coming the other direction about to finish his first half Ironman after knee surgery 4 months ago. A couple in their 70's running the half together (made me want to heartfelt is that). A girl who agreed to be part of a relay team 24 hours before the race. So many stories!! I continued to walk but I was determined to finish this 70.3. At mile 6.5, you enter the State Park and make your way around a long circular road. I tried to run but I just couldn't get enough speed to make it worth it so I continued my pace to the end.

At mile 12, I saw my husband-camera in hand taking pictures and cheering me on. He walked the with me up to the chute. It reminded me of my first days running triathlon. I would do Sprint distance races out at Clermont, FL and I would usually be one of the final finishers. He would run with me and help me keep going when I thought I could not continue. Here he was again..helping his wife achieve this crazy goal that several trainers said was simply impossible.

As I entered the chute towards the finish line, my training partner for 9 years awaited my arrival. Rick was decked out in his compression socks, knee brace and finisher's medal with hands on his hips screaming for me to finish. Both Rick and Steve knew that this finish was significant to me. I needed to finish this race mentally to be able to move forward in my training. The finish line area was kinda deserted but this is no surprise. I finished 45 minutes before the close of the course. As I crossed the line, the feeling of relief came over me. No tears, no emotion but just if this huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

My times this day were not the best. Walking 9 miles made my run time almost 10 minutes slower than my previous half ironman but Im really ok with that. I would have loved to PR this event but I think in my heart it was more about crossing the line.

In the coming months, I will HAVE to get faster and strong if I plan to make the 17 hour cut off. This I know. I think the finish time of this race will give me the sense of urgency I need to keep training hard for November 7th. I don't care if I am the final finisher that long as the finish time is under 16:59:59.

Mission Accomplished. On to Ironman....

Saturday, May 9, 2009

No PR..but the Gulf Coast Triathlon is alllll mine!!! I didn't set a PR but I did finish. The time wasn't pretty but after a conversation with several SEASONED Ironmen that completed this race,t hey told me point blank...this was a challenging day!! The ocean was rough, the wind was high and heat was intense...but I pushed through and got to the finish line.

A 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run...70.3 miles and my 3rd completed half ironman! More when Im not so tired!!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

10 hours to race start

Well...Baby Blue (thats what I call my bike) is rack and waiting. My Tri bag is packed, my clothes are laid out and my nutrition bottles and gels are ready to go. There is no more left to do except put my mind to this, put the history of races past in the past and get this Half Ironman accomplished.

My stomach is in knots but I was comforted a bit by a few things. First, I have gotten so many well wishes on Facebook and online here that it has truly helped me get calmed down. Secondly, my husband arrived today after a hard couple of days of work to support my efforts tomorrow. What a wonderful hubby. I am so blessed. Finally, I got a phone call from Hector that put me at ease. He told me to trust my training and I will get it done.

I am so ready for a victory. I am so ready for a breakthrough. The weather tomorrow is to be very warm, very windy and very sunny. Im going to do all I can to focus on my nutrition, hydration and those goals I have set forth. I want a PR. Im Hector said...its time to perform.

Time for sleep...more tomorrow when I have a medal around my neck and those goals accomplished!! **BREATH MELISSA BREATH!!!**

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

T Minus 4 days and counting

Ok...Im nervous! REALLY NERVOUS!! Gulf Coast is Saturday. Its Tuesday and the butterflies have arrived and taken up residence in my gut! My last workout with Hector today consisted of a 60 minute bike trainer workout and a 20 minute run/walk. I also met with him for a stretch session and a chat about how I see this race coming together.

Ive told several Ironman Florida finishers that I NEED to finish this race for my own piece of mind. This will be my first trip back to Panama City since Ironman Florida 2008. I know that I need to put that race behind me and focus on what is ahead but I can't help thinking about the emotions that surrounded that day. It was tough to watch others achieve this one goal that had been the focus of my training and basically of my life for 12 months.

So on Saturday, I will stand on that beach again and I plan on FINISHING the job this time even though this is a half and not a full. I have removed the letters D, N and F from the alphabet. I gotta go get packed....

Monday, May 4, 2009

Tri'ing in Miami with Team in Training

Well...they did it!! Each and every one of my teammates with the Central Florida Chapter of Team in Training completed the Tri Miami Olympic or Sprint Distance Triathlon on Sunday, May 3rd. I couldn't be more excited or proud of everyone as they battled their own obstacles to get to the start line! But wait..more on that later..Im getting ahead of myself.

This race was a fun race for me since my Half Ironman is less than a week away but for most of these athletes, this was their mountain to climb!! There were lots of smiles and lots of nerves as we gathered in the lobby at 4am ( read that right...) to get our bikes, gear and cars to the Crandon Park on Key Biscayne. It was an absolutely beautiful day (or should I say night) by the time we arrived at the venue...we even got there before transition opened. The parking lot was filled with music thanks to Coach Keith and I felt like I was in high school again hanging out in the parking lot!!

Once transition was open for set up, the team entered and carefully set their gear. There were jokes flying as the tension was a bit high. As I have always written here, no matter what race you are attempting, you have to respect the course. Even though today's race was short compared to the Half Ironman adventure of next weekend, I was a little nervous. You never know what might happen out on the road so you really have to be prepared mentally and physically.

After setting gear and taking some photos, it was off to the beach where we found our trusty staff from the Team in Training office ready to cheer us on throughout our day. I gotta tell ya. If you haven't done an event through Team in Training, you haven't experienced something very special. Not only are you helping to find a cure for blood cancers, you get the incredible support of people who work extremely hard. Our staff people-Chrissy and Meredith were at the ready to help in any way they could. They produced a beautiful weekend and I tip my hat to their efforts. Its hard to make a lot of people happy at once but they gave it their all and it really showed.

On the beach, we watched the sunrise. What a glorious sight. It really brought tears to my eyes as I looked around me to this team that had worked so hard for this day. Some of these guys were terrified of swimming, but each and every one made it through the swim with flying colors. Others were afraid of falling off their bikes or crashing, but the entire team tackled a difficult course complete with at least 2 trips up and over the Rickenbacker Causeway, that involved technical turns, direct headwinds and some steep little climbs. The run was the Nemesis for others where the temperatures climbed and hydration might have been an issues (like it is for me alot). All of them made it through the run and to the line with a smile!! I was in absolute awe!!

There were two people that really inspired me on this race day. The first was Doug. Doug is a blood cancer patient currently in remission and had never done a triathlon. On Sunday, he completed his second triathlon with this one including an open water ocean swim (a bit more difficult than swimming in a lake). Doug is one of those people who just doesn't like the water, but you wouldn't have known it as he made his way around the course and out on the beach....

The second would be Geni Wright who...beat me. Yup! She kicked me all over the asphalt and I couldn't be more excited. This was the first time Geni has ever placed in her age group and, needless to say, it was a special day for her. She raced flawlessly and deserved every bit of her 3rd place age group victory!! :) Highfives to ya my friend!!!

Let me make sure to thank some other very special people that made this triathlon season with Team in Training so special. Coach Bill Wenner assisted this team with becoming triathletes especially with the swim. He was invaluable and I can't thank him enough. Coach Beth Crepeau did a fantastic job in making sure all her "tri kids" made it to the finish!! You were absolutely a god send. Thank you thank you!!!

My race was a fun one!! I loved it!! No pressure...just a time to go out and enjoy the ocean, marvel at the views from atop the Causeway on my bike and to take in the sites of the beach during the run. A sharp contrast to next weekend's events!!

To all my Team in Training teammates, all I can say is WOW!! You had the most fundraising of all the chapters in attendance and you had 4 people receive awards in their age group. Not bad for what some people would call a bunch of newbies...

They can't say that now!! Most of you are now Olympic Distance Triathletes...congrats to all..

Oh...and PS...I got 4th in my age group....behind Geni :) Wow!! **big grin** What an awesome weekend!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Yes...I listen to my coach

Ok...before you think I am doing this race WITHOUT my Coach's permission...relax. Hector agreed to let me do the Tri Miami Triathlon this weekend...but just the sprint instead of the olympic.

A few days ago, we had the great debate. Since I did so poorly in St. Anthony's then perhaps I should cut this race and rest for Gulf Coast. My problem with that theory was that this is a race I have been training for since February with my Team in Training buddies. I want to be there for them, for the Mission of the Leukemia Society and for the fun and joy of the sport.

Unlike Gulf Coast, this will be a fun race. Im going to go out there an enjoy the time on the course. Im going to soak up the sun, love the swim and relish the run. Sometimes we get so pressured up about racing that we forget that this is our hobby and its suppose to be enjoyable :)

The main reason I do this is for the Mission of the Leukemia Society. Im out there to find a cure for cancer and I have raised money since January for that very cause. (and I still am for future Team in Training Seasons) This is also my chance to race for my honored patient A.J. (see previous post for pictures and more info).

After looking at my race times and considering that it was truly difficult to get motivated for the race that wasn't the race at St. Anthony's, Hector agreed I was ready to do both of these.

So this weekend is about cheering on my teammates, honoring those that are still fighting Leukemia and remembering those who have lost the fight, like my 8 year old Godson, Christian. As always, Christian photo will be on me during the bike and the run as a tribute to his courage and fight. He is forever the reason why I do what I do.

More to come from sunny Miami :)