Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Getting Ready for that Breakthrough

“Hope is not a dream but a way of making dreams become reality.

This is it. I can feel it in my bones. This IS my breakthrough race.

There, I said it. Like Babe Ruth calling his shot at bat, I am throwing down the gauntlet. This is MY DAY!

See, it's my day because Im going to celebrate a lot of different things. A few days ago, I got word that an old friend of mine died of a pulmonary embolism. She was a Dean at a local school and was active in her church. She had so much going for her but life..and death are strange things. In the blink of an eye, she was gone. This person celebrated life every day she was here

I plan to celebrate the fact that I CAN race triathlon. 11 years ago I was resorting to sitting down every few feet when I walked. Today, 70.3 miles under my own power. THAT'S SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE!!

So no matter what they day brings: Wind, Rain, Jellyfish (last year I was stung at the race and had to withdraw), Current, Punctures, Cramping Muscles Etc....it's a day to celebrate!! With a few blessings from above...Ill finish this one!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

"You got all day...just don't make dinner reservations"

"You got all day...just don't make dinner plans...Im not..." -IronBob

And it is comments like this that remind me WHY I keep this blog!! I get so focused on the elements of this race that I sometimes forget ... IT'S SUPPOSE TO BE FUN DAMN IT!!!

You got all day. Thats right IronBob. I paid for 17 hours of catered fun and excitement and I plan to use all of it but one minute. Ahhh the food...the drink...the scenery...the pageantry that IS Ironman. It's all so....well....EPIC!! Love that word. It just seems to pair with Ironman like peas and carrots!

Pictured above is my bulletin board in my home office. In the past, if there was a goal or an item I wanted, I would put a picture of it on my bulletin board until I got that goal or item. As you can tell from the Ironman Florida sticker, this goal has been around a few years. People told me to envision the finish line...so there it is...from an ATHLETE'S PERSPECTIVE. That is what you see as you run down the chute. Gosh I hope I get to see that view for real!!

I remember the Disney Marathon this year. That race ends in the Epcot Parking Lot and ironically the finish line sits on my cast parking area. Where I park my car every week to go to work is where I would finish one of the most difficult challenges I had undertaken at that point. I remember walking out to the lot one night after work and standing in the chute. I closed my eyes and I could hear people cheering. I could see the clock illuminated. I could see myself running across that line. I could even see my friend, Eddie, who works for ASI Photo taking my picture. It was so real to me. Four days later, it was real. I crossed that line as a storm was looming overhead. I was one of the final finishers. I made the cut off by seconds. I ran in with some of my favorite Team in Training Coaches. To me...it was indeed...Epic.

You got all day Melissa. Can't you see it..?? The swim is smooth and beautiful. The bike is windless and fast (and in my world its all about the bike). The run is partially in the dark but it's cool and draped in 11 years of Ironman Florida history. The finish line is...well...its an Ironman finish...

Just 39 more days...

The Crab Pot Theory

I haven't written here for awhile. Several reasons contribute to this lack of words on my part. I had a person that I do not know come up to me during a workout at the local Y and tell me "your blog is a downer...you should consider some help." At first I thought she was kidding..then I realized she was serious...and...well...here I am.

We all know that negative thinking can eat you up inside. We also know that there are a lot of people who will bring you down because they are down themselves. I believe its called the "crab pot theory". If one crab is about to make it out of the pot,the rest of the crabs will pull him right back down. Two things are very clear to me: I do not wish to be the crab that is pulled back AND I don't want to do the pulling.

I have had a series of bad workouts. I have had technical difficulties, illness, no injuries (thank you God), GI issues (this weekend) and the like. I could sit here and write about all that but does it really help anymore to go over the WOES of triathlon training. Ironman is tough. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

So this "crab" is tired of being CRABBY. There is a breakthrough on the horizon. There are moments that I believe that the crabs of this world want to pull you back but I refused to be "boiled" and served up with drawn butter. My desire is to develop that focus, that drive, that inner spirit that will get me to everything I can to do in my life. How do you find that?? How do you develop it?? This applies to more than just Ironman...this applies to all the goals I have in my life.

Every time I get on the bike, I DO see that my focus is sharpening. I go to my happy place. I envision that my legs are powering the projector that shows me the amazing moments of my life. The faster I pedal, the more I get to see. Pedal slower, and I don't get to see the happy times in focus. Visualization is very powerful for me. The less I think that I am traveling 112 miles on a bike seat or running 26 miles on my feet, the better I perform.

Am I the only one that uses this to get through a long race? If I open the door to negative thinking (like: my foot hurts, my stomach is upset, etc), I have to shut down those thoughts and go to something else in my mind. Once those negative thoughts take over, my performance dies. I have even gone so far to envision a HUGE dry eraser that erases the bad thoughts from my brain. Welcome to the strange world of Melissa's head.

As we get closer to Ironman, I want to develop more and more ways to deal with adversity during the race. I want to perfect the skill of staying calm under pressure and addressing issues as they arise. If you have any suggestions, Im all ears.

Now...for some reason...I have a terrible craving for seafood.... :) :) :)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The inspiration of Blogland

Greetings from the land of blood, sweat, tears, triumph and tribulation. Blogland includes all these things and more. I consider my blog "cheap therapy" but it wasn't until I came down with the this terrible cold that has sidelined me for a few days that I have fully appreciated blogland.

The blogs I have tripped over in my journey through cyberspace have a range of emotion. I have giggled. I have cried. I have been inspired. I have been pumped up just by reading their words. To those that follow me...don't worry...Im following you...and all of you inspire me.

I have one friend who just can't remember her blogspot name and password...so when she reads mine..she sends me a message on beginnertriathlete.com. I got a slap on the wrist and a sweet but stern talking to for using a bike I hadn't ridden in three years. In one recent blog, I had a woman email me and tell me I was her inspiration. She was large and "in charge" but never thought she could do a triathlon. She completed her first sprint a few weeks ago and now she's a junkie. Wow!! Blogland is an amazing place.

In these days that have not included training, I have read and read and read. Books, blogs and emails. I had the pleasure during The Nation's Triathlon to meet Brian Boyle aka IronHeart (check out his story at : http://brianboyle.wordpress.com/) Even more inspiration from a man who met death head on and decided to use Ironman to celebrate life.

With just 49 days until Ironman, maybe this is God's way of getting my head on straight. You can learn so much from so many here in Blogland....so to TriMommy, Ryan who needs supervision, Coach Beth, IronMissy, IronBob (Uncle Bob), RBR, the Athena Diaries, NZ Tri Chick and dozens more...thank you for your wisdom.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A day to recharge

Sometimes you just need a day off...or a couple. After a chat with Hector, he gave me a day to recoup and relax a bit. Today I am doing some fun things : putting new plants in my yard, doing a little clothes shopping and getting my nails redone. I think mentally, I just needed the day.

Tomorrow, I am going to do my long run. I woke up this morning and felt just so tired and yucky. My legs continue to ache from the one workout Hector and I did and he determined I am just worn out from the traveling, working and training.

Im very excited about my day. I haven't had a Saturday like this in a long time!! Ill even upload some photos of my flowers when Im done...

Its the little things in life that can make you happy. Triathlon is a hobby and its not all suppose to be serious! Its suppose to be fun!! I think I just need a day to refocus on that fact.

Don't give up on me friends...I haven't fallen into a pity of despair!! Just a little tired...but getting ready for the challenges ahead!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

"Snap out of it"

One of my favorite movies is "Moonstruck" with Nicolas Cage and Cher. A favorite scene in the movie is Cher slapping Cage across the face and yelling "Snap out of it".

That's kinda what I needed this week.

I got a case of the blahs. This usually happens after the build up for a significant race. Once the race is over, you're bummed. This thing you have been looking forward to has past and you miss the building excitement prior to the event. I was VERY excited about doing The Nation's Triathlon because of the beautiful venue and the significance of racing in our Nation's Capital. Call me old fashioned, but I am very patriotic!

Now that I look back at the race, I had fun with my teammates even if I did not perform to the best of my ability. Even professionals have bad days but this race was beautiful and soul stirring. How many times in your life can you honestly say that you shut down the city of Washington and had the roads to yourself. Flying on a bike down a tree lined parkway with the capitol looming in the background is an unbelievable experience.

I believe the other reason I am struggling after my return from Washington is that I am battling off a cold. I lost my voice in D.C. and I thought it was because I screamed and yelled so much. Over the last few days, I have been feeling yucky. NO fever or stuff like that so I don't think its the flu...just a cold in my nose!!

I worked out with Hector yesterday. A 90 minute run that was epic for that simple reason...it was 90 minutes of running with only 3 break minutes. I know that sound so novice to most but for me its huge. Running is just not my strong suit but the longer I can run the marathon...the better chance I have at finishing in under 17 hours.

My legs ache a bit. This weekend includes a huge run of 18 miles so my workouts this week have been very short. I have slept a lot trying to battle off this cold. I just feel like I am in a weird place right now just a few weeks from my Half and Full Ironman.

I was driving back from the airport tonight as I dropped off my husband and the sky above the highway was illuminated with light filtering through the clouds. It was breathtaking and this is when I knew I really needed to just "snap out of it". Life is so good and this is small stuff. I am so blessed with ability. I need to go out and show the world that this is possible.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Nation's Triathlon

Finally! A Race!! There are quite a few triathletes who will train all year for one race. There are others, like me, who would race every weekend if time and finances would allow. It has been since May since I have been in a race and I really have looked forward to this one.

The Nation's Triathlon is one of the largest triathlons in the US. With 6000 participants signed up, I arrived in Washington to find a transition area that looked like the "south forty". Just to give you an idea, my bike was at the end of row 38...and there were at least 42 rows in transition. This transition area was in the West Potomac Park and stretched 3 city blocks.

I traveled to the race with the Central Florida Chapter of Team in Training. 11 athletes total on our team with many newbies doing their first ever triathlon. I was so proud of them. All finished. All did well. All followed the rules and were not like SOME triathletes that did stupid things like ride in the middle of the road three abreast, swim the wrong direction on the course (yes, I saw this over the weekend), and ask if they really needed nutrition on a 26 mile bike course. Our team was sharp and well trained. I tip my hat to Coach Clint Carbonneau-an Ironman triathlete who coached his athletes to act like this was their 50th triathlon instead of their first.

For me, it was my 49th outing on a tri course. I went to Washington with the visions of a PR dancing in my head. The weather was cool and perfect. Since I had to ship a bike, I decided to keep the Cervelo at home and ship my road bike. This was a major error on my part as my bike was almost 20 minutes slower than St. Anthony's. The course was also hillier than I expected.

As I approached a hairpin turn and proceeded to climb uphill back towards our nation's capitol, I made a stupid move. I came out of my clip on the left hand side. When I went to clip back in, I got the pedal caught behind my foot and pulled my shoe and sock almost completely off. In the process of untangling the mess, the pedal scraped most of the skin off the back of my heel. At first I didn't feel it but then...sweat got to the wound and OH MY...I definitely could feel it.

At transition, I assessed the damage. I didn't think it was a big deal so I continued. By mile 3 of the run, I couldn't get the stupid injury to stop bleeding. I ran into a rest room and stuffed toliet paper in my shoe. By mile 4, I had gone to a walk because I started to think I had really done something bad that might require stitches.

I finished the race and I as I approached the finish line, I saw my entire team waiting for me. Ever single one had not left to go to the comfort of their hotel but had waited for me. Tears welled up in my eyes. I was touched and embarassed. Here is the "future Ironman" limping to the finish in an Olympic race. They ran with me as far as they could and then I crossed.

I finished. I PR'ed the swim. I struggled through the bike and limped through the run. Is this REALLY an Ironman in training doing this??

I celebrated with my teammates but deep down, I started doubting my abilities. I shipped a bike to Washington I had not ridden in 3 years. I felt like a whole new set of muscle groups were at work during the bike and I had no power at all. I couldn't get into aero on this road bike because the geometry was so different than my Cervelo. I let one little injury play with my head as I was concerned that I might do damage if I pushed it.

So many excuses...so little time left to Ironman. I have had a little pity party since I have been home but now I need to SNAP OUT OF IT!! Not ever race is going to be perfect. Not ever attempt is going to go well. I really need to learn how to overcome issues on the course and push past them. I could have done so much better at this race.

To my team....congrats. You guys kicked some SERIOUS asphalt. Thank you for waiting for me...you guys are just amazing!!

Onward to the Atlantic Coast Triathlon at Amelia Island-a Half Ironman on October 3rd. I am going to right all the wrongs on that day!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Bucket List

Why Ironman has become an emotional journey for me is a mystery. For most, this is a physical challenge with which they possess great talent to complete and acheive. I am not blessed in that department, I am sad to admit. It seems I must work harder than most to gain the goals I set before myself.

Now don't think Im gonna sit here and whine about my lack of ability. Although it frustrates me at times, my lack of talent in the area of triathlon makes it more appealing. I know that work and time put in will pay off in the end. I know a few people that can just simply show up for the event and complete it. Others will train extremely hard and gain a magical Kona slot and be part of Ironman history while there are many like me who just wish to hear the six worded sentence once in their lives at the finish line...."Melissa Daly..you are an Ironman" would be my early Christmas present.

This is a desire that can not be purchased. This is a gift that can not be given to me by anyone but myself. The more I train and the more I ponder this journey, I realize that I have to make the decision if I am worthy of this gift. Too many times in my life, I have considered myself unworthy of an acheviement and have fallen short. The use of addiction to food is a perfect example of this. For years, I thought myself unworthy of a healthy body. It has taken almost 11 years now to realize, I am a good person that valid enough for this gift.

After a relaxing and glorious day off with my husband and friends here in Panama City, I made the realization it is one of the first rest days that I fully enjoyed without guilt. I found myself worthy of the rest. I have pushed hard this week and as we approach the 60 day mark prior to the race, I will want to take the last month and put in as much training as possible.

I was flipping through channels tonight and came upon the movie, The Bucket List. I have always wanted to watch this movie but never got around to it. I caught the pivital last few minutes of the movie that were overflowing with emotion. In the movie, two men meet in the hospital where they both find out they are battling terminal cancer. One gentleman makes a list of things he would like to acheive before he dies and they decide to band together to accomplish this list before they "kick the bucket".

I was overwhelmed with emotion as I watched the end of this movie. I don't believe it was simply watching someone at the end of their life that plucked my heart strings but the passion in which they wanted to acheive each goal on their list. The movie touched a cord. It touched on the passion that has become Ironman.

I walked outside the balcony of our condo and looked out over the water and then down on the hundreds of people still enjoying the sand and surf as the sun slipped into the sea. I cried...alot. I guess the emotion of the movie reminded me that Ironman is on the top of my bucket list and I am very scared of failure. What if I don't finish this AGAIN? Thank you God I am not battling cancer and I am healthy enough to regroup and try for it again...but oh God...mentally...could I possibly endure another year of training for this???

The power of positive thinking is a strong piece of armorment I am trying every day to put into my arsonal. I am trying every day to invision the complettion of this goal. In my mind, I go through each step of the race. I SEE myself accomplishing this goal and imprinting that "program" or that "movie" on my brain. This technique has worked for many professional athlete to the point some have said that once they reached a point in the race where they made their move, they had chills of "dejavu" from the feeling of having been to this place before. I see this as training that is just as important as the swim, bike, run or the nutrition of the race.

My Bucket List is a long one that includes everything from learning how to fly to seeing the Great Barrier Reef...but for now...the one item on top of that list that needs to be marked off in 61 days is Ironman....

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Training for the not so perfect day...

I woke up this morning and still no diagnosis on my father in law. As I drank my coffee before dawn, I tried to decide what the best course of action would be. Do I go out on this long bike workout and risk being far from the condo if I need to get packed and head north ... Or...do I got for a shorter workout and stay close in. When in doubt, consult your trainer.

Hector gave the word: a 2 hour bike and a 40 minute run. I finished my coffee, got my gear together, finished some email business and off I went at a late 830am. It actualy felt weird to leave so late from the beach.

I decided that two hours on the bike would take me about 15 to 18 miles out on the Ironman Florida bike course. This takes you along Front Beach Road (with beautiful views of the water) then up Highway 79 which is a 4 lane highway with a bike lane and to a small bridge. I figured I would get two good climbs (up and back) over this little causeway and head back for a nice two hour bike excursion. The air was a little warmer than the day before and pretty humid but all and all...a pretty good day for a bike workout.

The wind was in my face. No surprise. It is relentless here in Panama City. There might not be hills on this course but be prepared to crank your way against mother nature. People look at me funny as the see the not so fast girl putting on an aero helmet for a race like this. Yes, it supposedly gives you a little more speed but I like it because its quieter against the wind. I can actually hear myself sing and hum with my aero helmet on. Without it, all I hear is that stupid wind.

I made the turn on to Highway 79 and settled in for 6 miles of straight highway. About 3 miles down, my bike just didnt' feel right ...and then...like a shotgun in the early morning....BAM....my back tire blew.....

Ahhhhh man!! (Ok..thats not REALLY what I said...but you get the idea). I unclipped as I slowed to a halt. I was just at the bridge as I felt my bike wobble. I took a look at the tire and it was pretty easy to find the problem. A 2 inch roofing nail had found its way into my bike wheel just barely missing the rim.

This sucks. If you're a cyclist you know: Changing a tire on a major highway is uncomfortable and a little scary. Trucks and cars are racing by at top speed while you try to keep your composure. I pulled out the emergency kit and started the process of getting my beautiful machine back in running order.

As I pulled out the nail and pulled off the tire, I made a very problematic discovery. I didn't have the right tube for this wheel. I have race wheels on this bike which require a valve extension. I searched my emergency bag....no extention. Ok...now Im really pissed. I can't even change this here.

I resorted to the best piece of emergency equipment every cyclist should carry: a cell phone. Usuallly, I have friends staying with me that will come and pick me up. Not this time. Im in Panama City by myself until tomorrow...sooo...Yellow Cab was my next call.

In 20 minutes, I was safe in a cab headed back to the condo with my baby bike in the back seat (yes...I am that short...she acutally fits in the backseat of a cab). The cabbie laughed that I was not the first cyclist he had picked up along Highway 79 with a bad flat. Apparently, this road leads to the city dump where alot of the construction companies take debris. The nails and such fall off the trucks and end up on the side of the road...in perfect placement for the unsuspecting cyclist.

I took out my emergency $20.00 that was in my bike bag, paid the cabbie and went back up to my room. I was mad. This was a lesson learned but I was not going to let it finish my day.

I went to my tri bag and sure enough, there was the RIGHT tube WITH the valve extension. I pulled the rubber off the wheel and proceeded to fix the flat. I had just had my bike serviced so by the time I got the back wheel back on, I was covered in bike grease. Ok...so Im not the most proficent at changing tires but I did get it done.

After a good hand washing to remove the grease, back went on my bike shoes and I took her out to see if i actually had fixed the tire correctly. I road around the parking lot for a few laps then out on Thomas Drive. When it appeared that the flat was completely fixed, I headed out again to finish my workout.

As I rode, I had this sense of accomplishment. Alot of people might have called it a day at that point...but honestly..the problem could be fixed...I fixed it..move on. I think that this is the correct mind set for Ironman. You can't expect a perfect day...you have to take the problem...solve it..and move forward...

I finished my two hour bike (well..it was a few minutes shorter than it should have been) followed by a recovery run. To celebrate, I had a wonderful massage. '

My father in law was diagnosed with a severe kidney infection and is being treated with antibiotics. He will go home tomorrow. With that knowledge, I can feel comfortable heading out for 100 miles. It should be an awesome ride...but if its not...I am now armed with a little more knowledge....

The work you put in today....

Wednesday morning brought possibilities as I awoke without an alarm at 6am. It was just becoming light over the beach here in Panama City....what a beautiful morning.

As much as I wanted to do the long bike today, the need to stay close to the condo because of my father in law's condition requires a change in the workout schedule. Instead of the ride, Ill do one lap of the run course. This is actually good because I haven't done this course since the Gulf Coast Triathlon in May of this year.

I got suited up, a 5 bottle fuel belt filled, gels tucked away and off I went. As I left the condo, I went down to where I know the exit of transition for the run will be. I hit my watch and my gps and was on my way. The weather felt cool and overcast...a perfect day for running.

I wanted to run the exact course of the Ironman but there are alot of twists and turns to this course. I didn't want to carry a map because i would be fumbling with it in and out of my pocket. The only thing I could think of was to write the route on the palm of my hand. I listed all the streets and if it were a left or right turn. I swear, it looked like I was going to be cheating on an Algebra exam.

Mile 1 to 6 felt wonderful. The cool air, the lack of full sun was a welcomed change from the heat and humidity that has gripped Orlando for several months. It has been so warm that I have been running at 500am in the dark. Running in the dark is good practice for what is to come.

As I approached the State Park where the course does a loop and a turnaround, I paid at the gate ($2.00 for those walking in), the sun came out in full force. It was as if someone turn off my energy reserves. I swear I wilt in the sun when I run. I pushed a little harder...but by the time I reached mile 8, I was down to a walk.

Hector had told me that if I ran into difficult, to call him and we would talk. I pulled my phone from my fuel belt and dialed. I figured I would get his voicemail, but within seconds he picked up the phone.

"Where are you and are you ok??" He asked. No hello. I could hear the concern in his voice.

I explained my dilema. How do I deal with this?? Is this really physical or is it just my mind not wanting to continue? He told me to move my a$$. I told him I needed a little more advice than that.

And then..he gave me some great advice. "Melissa..you are creating your future right now. The work you do today is your reality 30 days from now. The work you put in today will show in 4 weeks and eventually in 9 weeks on race day. So how do you see yourself on that day...walking...running...finishing??? You decide. Its up to you!!"

I agreed...and through some tears, I picked it up. From mile 8 to 11, I was refocused and recharged. Its amazing how the brain plays with your physical abilities. Your mental ability is as important in an endurance event as your physical ability. Its getting over these barriers that will make all the difference.

I stopped at a convenience store at mile 11 to grab one more bottle of gatorade. I was going through fluids like crazy. The man behind the counter was so amusing. He asked me if I was training for that "really long race thing they do here in the winter time". I said "If you mean the Ironman...then yes I am.". He then informed me that he thought that the people that ran Ironman were all aliens because there is NO WAY ANY HUMAN could possibly do all that in one day. "Don't get me wrong " he said, "Ill be out there with my six pack of beer toasting all of you as you make your way through the dark...but ya'll are nuts and definitely not human."

I guess Im looking forward to becoming part of the Alien Community.....

I complete the 13.1 miles...and Im embarassed to tell you how long it took. Lets just say...it would get me to the finish line with about 5 minutes to spare...

Faster...faster...faster....I need to get faster....

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A new "view" in a familar place....

Welcome back to the land of Ironman....Welcome back to the sand, surf and beauty that is Panama City Beach.

I arrived at 2pm after surviving a dreadful two hour storm heading into town. As I drove in, a large flashing sign greeted my arrival with words I really didn't want to see:

S. Camp Flower Road Closed 9/2/09

DAMN IT! Of all the roads that would have construction TOMORROW...it has to be the road that I NEED TO RIDE ON!! Camp Flower Road is mile 60 of the bike course and it will be partial paved from what I could see. This is FANTASTIC news for November....TERRIBLE news for my workout tomorrow.

Not to be detered from my workout, I drove a different route around the construction and came up with a 102 mile route that was close to the Ironman course. Short by 10 miles, it would serve the purpose to get an idea of my time. We had to modify our route 2 weeks ago...but not THIS much!!

With that problem solved, I turned to checking in and unloading the car. Two bikes(I brought my hubby's...he wants to see the first few miles of the bike course), biking gear, running gear, swim gear and of course, some decent clothes for some fun hours with my hubby...all piled onto a rolling cart and brought to the condo. I got everything organized in our new home on the ocean when the phone rang and my husband's stressed voice rang through on the other end..

"CUTIE....Are you there??" he asked. "Yes sweetie...whats wrong?? I asked with concern.

"Dad is in the hospital. I don't have the particulars but be ready to pack up and get to the airport. Im not sure if this is really serious or not but don't get too comfortable.

I paused...took a breath...and grabbed my computer and started looking for flights...just in case. How do I store the bikes and the gear if I have to leave?? I would have to check out of the condo and go right to the airport. I figured out a flight...and then headed back to the car where I determined i could fold down seats, put the bikes inside and stack our stuff on top of them. Not the BEST solution...but it would work in this pinch of a situation.

I called Mrs. Daly...she told me my father in law had been coughing up blood and was unble to keep anything in his system for more than 2 days. He was in alot of pain and they were concerned his kidneys were shutting down. They didn't have any answers at the moment...all we could do is wait...so I did the only thing I could think to do...

I went down to the beach and I prayed.

This beach. Ive never really just SAT on this beach and enjoyed its beauty. Ive never sat there and talked to God. Never once have I entered the water on this beach without a wetsuit. God and I had a long chat. We talked about family and illness and blessings and fears. I thanked him for all the amazing things he has placed before me. I thanked him for the triumphs and the tears...and then I asked...please...right now nothing is more important than my family. Nothing is more important than my father in law being out of harm's way.

I don't know if you, the reader, believe in a higher power. I know in my heart that there is one. My belief is storng. Sometimes I believe that God grabs you when you are so focused on small things and shows you what is truly important. Yes, my goals are important to me, but nothing is more important than the loved ones that you have been blessed with in your life.

The stomy sky gave way to a beautiful peaceful sunset and just as the sun sank, my phone rang again. My father in law was stable. His kidneys are functioning but they are doing a "scope" of his stomach tomorrow and more tests. He is out of the woods but they are being cautious. I hung up the phone and cried with relief.

Family is what molds you into who and what you are. Without my parents and the family I joined upon my marriage, I know I would not be the person I am today. I know that Ironman would not even be a consideration if I was not given the value system that my parents and in laws showed me early on in my life. My father in law would tell me to stop crying and go show that course who's boss!!

"You're a Daly now, little miss...you better live up to that name" I can hear him say.