Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My 12 days of Christmas...

All I want for Christmas is..

12 months of swimming, biking and running

11 months of injury free training before my Ironman

10 .. a Perfect 10 scoring Ironman

9 .. The number of 20 mile runs I would like to accomplish this training season

8 .. That I stop worrying about what I "ate"..

7 .. The number of kids with Leukemia or who have lost their battle that I will be racing for this season

6 .. The number of adults with Leukemia or who have lost their battle that I will be racing for this season

5 .. The number of major races I will complete in 2011

4 .. Always remember what I am racing "for" ... a cure for cancer...the realization of a dream

3 .. The number disciplines that must be mastered to complete the Ironman (ok...so there are really 5 if you count nutrition and transitions...but work with me here)

2 .. To have the guts, physical stamina, mental toughness and training TO get TO the finish line

1 .. To achieve this ONE goal...this ONE dream....

Dear Santa..

Ive been a really good triathlete this year. I have lost 30 pounds and kept it off. I have been a polite and sportsman like triathlete on the road and in my racing. I listened to my surgeon and didn't race to much on my bum knee. I went home with hardware in 4 of my 5 short races this season (Ok...so I may not have had a lot of people in my classification...but its still cool to go home with a 1st place in 3 of the 5 races).

All and all a damn good year full of family time, a wee bit of racing, fun, happiness, disappointment and joy. What more could you ask for??

What more could you ask for?? Well...it is my hope that your year in 2011 is full of joy, happiness, safe training, be free of injury, weight maintenance or weight loss (if that applies to you) but most importantly...that you achieve whatever goal you have set.

As for me...Ironman baby...

See you on the road...

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Journey begins again...I'm in for 2011

I have enjoyed my year off...really I have ...but deep down in my gut, I really couldn't wait for this day. I woke up at 400am and couldn't go back to sleep. Today was the day I would get another chance at achieving my dream...and there it is in my hot little hand.

This is the easy part you know...signing your name on a dotted line saying you're gonna compete in the Ironman is so simple...but its what I have been looking forward to for weeks. I told some friends that, although I enjoyed my time away from training, I sorta felt like I was in purgatory...sitting on the fringe of the sport...watching friends train hard...reading the forums on Beginner Triathlete but not being part of the action. I had this amazing year full of good things that needed attention: knee surgery, time with my husband, travel, weight loss and just plain rest...it was all wonderful...

But now...Im ALL in...

Long about July, I am sure I will write in this blog that I am DONE...that all I want is a day to sleep or a day to shop or a day to go to the spa...but right now, in this moment, I couldn't be more excited about attempting this goal one more time!!!

Let the games begin...T-361 days until Ironman!!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I must have a guardian angel...



It's hard to put into words when I stare at the photos you see above. And I keep staring..and I keep finding it amazing that I am sitting here with the ability to write this blog...

On Monday, November 1st, 2010 at 545am, I was traveling down Interstate 4 outside of Orlando headed to one of our boot camp sites to drop off equipment. It was a typical morning. I had stopped for coffee and I was talking to a friend on my hands free who works nights at hospital. We were talking and then.....silence

It all happened so fast that I truly can't tell you what happened. I was exiting the interstate going about 50-60 mph when I looked ...and there was the Mack Dump Truck..directly in front of me and no time to stop. I went to hit the brakes and my foot slide off the brake pedal. Then...the air bag...and silence...

My "Onstar" system in the car came on with a calm female voice asking if I was ok. Ok?? I got an airbag in my face...and I wasn't sure how that could be ok. My dashboard was dark and it was an errie feeling. I tried to see out the windshield but I couldn't...the hood of my car was crumpled in a mass blocking my sight. She told me she was sending help and to stay calm. Calm? I started to shake. I knew I must be going into shock.

Without warning, a tall woman and a man who ended up being the truck driver were at my driver's door and opened it. They pulled me from the car telling me it wasn't safe. I got pulled to the side of the highway where i got a view of what really happened. There was the Mack Truck...virtually unharmed....and my car...demolished from the windshield forward. The engine laid on the ground and there was fluids everywhere. I started shaking violently. I remember thinking "Oh my god...this isn't a dream...this is real.."

The sirens sounded so loud....the lights were everywhere...the traffic was backing up and I could only recall usually being the person IN the traffic cursing the backup. I looked up at the EMT and told her I was OK....she thought otherwise and helped me to the ambulance.

A fireman handed me my purse with my phone and I called my sweet hubby who was hard asleep at home. He had just gotten home after a grueling week of flying and he was groggy. I remember thinking I have to stay calm as I told him of the accident. I kept saying "Im fine...Im ok...but I am going to the hospital." I called my business partner, Rick and gave him the news. He felt helpless with 20 boot campers in front of him. He couldn't leave...all he could do was wait for word of how I was doing.

At the hospital, I had a CT scan as they were concerned I had ruptured my spline or liver. All checked out ok. Steve was there and my brothers soon followed. They were amazed at how good I looked considering what had happened.

So here I sit, a little less than 48 hours since the accident. I saw my dear orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Susan Ott who give me a clean bill of health...no broken bones...just some bruises and a very tender knee. It is amazing to me that I am not lying in ICU...

I believe in guardian angels...

My angel must have been with me Monday morning. He must have held back the impact. God must have made sure that I was still here for a purpose....for a reason. If there was ever a moment in my life that made me appreciate that I am on this planet...it was THAT moment.

I am so overwhelmed with emotion...but one thing is absolutely certain. Whatever God has planned for me, I plan to live this life to the fullest...and that includes becoming an Ironman. I won't be driving to Panama City now...Ill be flying....and I won't have my bicycle with me...but Ill be in line to get my slot for 2011...Thanks to my guardian angel...


Monday, October 25, 2010

And now..It's a family affair

The Women's Triathlon at Moss Park on Saturday was a special day for me in a number of ways. First, and most importantly, it was my sister in law, Barbara Yergey's return to the sport of triathlon after getting married and having 3 amazing kids with my brother David. Barbara has always kept herself fit but left triathlon behind to focus on being the incredible mother that she is!! I arrived at Moss Park to find her excited and nervous all wrapped up in the same emotion. Barb had been very focused in her training and I knew she would do well...

For me, it was special because it was the first time in 11 years that I had a family member (let alone TWO family members) besides my sweet husband attending one of my races. My parents came to my very first Danskin Triathlon at Walt Disney World in 2000 and have never attended another race. My mother exclaimed at the finish line that she never wanted to see me that "Dirty, Sweaty or Tired ever again in her life." They came to Panama City for the Ironman in 2009 but refused to come to the start line or transition area to see me race. They were simply there to "take me home if I needed to be hospitalized" and nothing more.

So this sprint triathlon took on a whole new meaning to me. My brother would be in the crowd cheering. I had not trained for this race so I was concerned. How would I do??? My swim has suffered since losing weight believe it or not. Im not as buoyant as I use to be with 30 pounds off my body (hey...fat floats...what can I tell you).....so as the gun went off, I knew my swim would be slow...but I was consistent, focused and did well on my sighting. I came out of the water with the same time I had several months ago.

Into transition and there is my brother screaming for me. Don't get me wrong, I have been so incredibly blessed with amazing friends who get up at the crack of dawn and come to my races to cheer me on. Several have traveled to Ironman and made an extraordinary weekend of it including cooking, making signs for the bike course and just being supportive...but my brother. Wow!! I know he was there for his wife...but I just felt..different. I mounted up and headed out with a special type of determination. I wanted to do well .....

It became a game to see how many people I could pass. Let's face it. Im not going to pass people on the run...but on a bike...Im a monster. I love the feel of the gears, the wind, and even the pain in my quads. I love seeing the police officers on the course and thanking them for their time. I enjoy cheering on others as I pass and reminding them that Ill see them again as they pass me on the run. I returned from the bike 2 minutes faster than my last race and bounded into transition feeling pretty strong.

Its on the run that the lack of training always catches up with me. I ran/walked the 3 mile course...but knew this run time would not be stellar. As I made the turn for the finish, I could hear my brother and Barb cheering and this wave of emotion came over me. I didn't show it on the outside but inside I was just....so happy. Finally...my family was supportive ...

I was so excited for Barb and her finish. Folks...you wanna talk about someone with talent. In her first race, on a hybrid bike she took first place in her age group. I was thrilled!! My sister in law was taking home hardware.

At the awards ceremony, we took lots of pictures and exchanged lots of hugs. They had to head off to meet up with their daughters and enjoy the rest of their day so I didn't want to keep them. I got second in Athena...I probably would have done better if I had a little training under my belt. My brother David was walking to his car when heard my name called and came rushing back to the ceremony...

"Why didn't you tell me you got second" he asked...

"Because today its all about Barb and a new triathlete in the making " I told him...

He took some pictures and gave me a hug....and said the one thing I haven't heard from my family about my racing...."Im proud of you"

These things are really small...but to me...they are huge. I don't NEED my family's approval to pursue this dream...but I gotta tell ya...it sure does make me feel good inside knowing that at least one of my family understands along with my sweet hubby that this is my passion...even if I don't possess the talent my sister in law does. Can you imagine if we put her on a road or tri bike?? Oh my!!!

It was a great day...one I will remember for a long, long time.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Where in the world is Melissa Daly


It's been more than 3 months since my last blog entry which is so not like me.
Blogging is cheap therapy and gets all those crazy thoughts that float around my
head down on digital paper. For me, it is a record of the journey I still face
and the beautiful, rewarding, painful and disappointment moments in this quest
for Ironman.

My life in the last months has been somewhat removed from the world of triathlon
and a bit more focused on things near and dear to me. Go back a few entries in
my blog and you will note the 10 weeks of my summer focused on treating my
eating disorder. In that time I lost 30 pounds. I am approaching two months at
home away from treatment and have kept the weight off. It has been a struggle
as old habits will often creep back into your life when you have worked to
create new ones....but I have been consistent... Definitely not perfect but
very consistent.

I also had the opportunity to travel to Europe for 10 glorious days with 4 of my
dearest friends and with my sweet hubby. We visited 5 countries in 9 days (
Spain, Italy,France, Vatican City and Monaco) and celebrated our 25th wedding
anniversary. This year my husband and I also attended (or are about to attend)
our 25th college class reunions...another special milestone in our lives.

In this non Ironman year I have also had the honor of helping my parents plan
their 5th trip around the world. As they enter into their 80's, it is heart
warming and exciting to watch them continue to enjoy the one passion they have
pasted on to me...exploring the world. I use to tell people I spent 20 years as
a travel agent to keep track of my constantly moving parents... And this year, I
got to revisit that feeling.

2010 also brought on my first major injury in over 10 years of triathlon. A torn
meniscus and a floating piece of cartilage in my left knee took me out of racing
in April but I didn't stay out for long. 2 weeks after surgery, I did the swim
leg of the Gulf Coast Triathlon in a 3 person relay and slowly worked my way
back into racing with the completion of The Nations Triathlon with a personal
record. Thanks to Dr. Susan Ott for fixing my knee and getting back in the game.


Life without Ironman felt foreign for awhile. Let's face it.. It has been the
focus of a good part of my world for 3 years now but the break has help me to
recharge, refocus, renew and resurrect this life goal. At the end of 2009 and
the ever so close missed bike cut off at Ironman Florida, I was emotionally
burned out. There were several friends and family ( including my dear parents)
who pleaded with me to let this dream die. My mother to this day states that
Ironman is a "man's sport" and a lady has no business attempting such as this...
But ....if you're a triathlete, you understand..... The call of the finish line
is simply too great..

As I sit on this 9 hour flight home from Barcelona, my sabbatical is now over. I
have spent my year focused on husband, family and getting myself into a better
physical and emotional place. I have achieved many of my goals for this year and
it's only October but as the first week of November approaches, a new year dawns
for me...Ironman Florida 2011 is a little more than 1 year away.

Some people suggested that a new venue for my first completed Ironman might be
in order but there is no way that would be an option for me. I have a dragon to
slay in Panama City .... A few personal demons to lay to rest on that flat windy
bike course... And lord knows.. I just want to get to the run...

So.. If you are racing Ironman Florida, look for me on the course as I plan to
volunteer anywhere and everywhere so I can to cheer on those that are about to
attain the dream that I hold so dear. Each of you are heroes to me because I
truly understand what you have sacrificed to make this dream a reality. You
will also find me in line to sign up for that shot at my own dream in 2011....

See you soon in Panama City.....

Monday, July 26, 2010

Follow your Heart...Follow the Passion

Why in the world do you do what you do Melissa?

I hear this a lot. As I continue my journey in the treatment of an eating disorder, there are many women here at Structure House who can't understand why a 46 (almost 47) year old woman would want to swim, bike and run in the races that I choose. Many of them throw their hands up and say I'm crazy...but I am very happy in my insanity.

I knew I had a passion for triathlon the moment I crossed my first finish line in 2000. The elation of accomplishing what most people said was impossible thrilled me to no end. I found it easier to keep in shape if i had an end goal in mind instead of just constant trips to the gym with no goal in sight. The Sprint Distance race turned to an Olympic and then to a Half Ironman ...and then to the one goal that has fallen from my grasp twice....the Ironman.

But you must love your sport if you spend your afternoon running in 100 degree temperatures or bundle up for a below freezing bike ride in the middle of January. You must adore this pastime if you will endure the pain of blisters, missing toenails, sore muscles and fatigue. You have to have a passion for this thing they call triathlon if you will continue to pursue something that many say is impossible.

Damn, it is possible. Its not a matter of is it possible..its a matter of How bad do you want it?

I have given up my home for what will be 10 weeks to address the one obstacle that stood directly in the way of Ironman. After two attempts at the distance, it was clear. I had to lose some more weight and get my eating under control if I was to complete this challenge. So here I am, ounce by ounce removing that obstacle that has daunted me for decades.

I got an email today from an triathlete asking if I had given up on Ironman...

Just because I took a year off doesn't mean the dream has died. That dream is alive and well. If you have trained for this distance, you understand that the time commitment to this goal is enormous. It means hours away from your family, your friends and the rest of your life. Setting up an Ironman year for most is not a decision made lightly. It will consume a good chunk of your life.

So for those who asked and for those who wondered and for those that could care less...here's the answer. I will run Ironman Florida for the 3rd attempt in November 2011. Mark your calendar...Ill be there...and I guarantee a party at the finish line!!! 3 times is the charm.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Halfway through my program

Its been 5 weeks...19 pounds...8% points of body fat loss...and I feel like a different person.

But Im not going to sit here and tell you its been easy. it hasn't. I have had some wonderful "ah-ha" moments here..but I have also had some dark times when "ED" (my name for my eating disorder) rears his ugly head.

Weekends are hard here at Structure House. I occupied my time today by shopping at the local mall for clothes for our trip to the Mediterranean and our September trip to Paris. It is very motivating to go into the stores and be two sizes smaller in most of the clothes i was trying. Even my shoe size has changed (if you can believe that).

But even in the back of my mind, the desire to go and overeat is alive and well. Its learning the tools to deal with that feeling that is vital in this environment. These are the nights where the things you learn in class are applied. When its bad like this...its one hour at a time...even a few minutes at a time.

We are taught to distract and delay and to make a list of things that will keep us from stuffing our face. It can be anything from knitting to calling a friend. For me ... at the moment...its sharing the moment with you...and writing in my blog.

Its also reminding yourself that you are worth more than stuffing your face full of food that is going to taste great for about 5 seconds...and feel horrible on your body for weeks to come. I keep telling myself that the clothes that I bought today will not fit if I continue to abuse my body with food that will not build it up and keep it healthy.

Stress always plays a factor in my eating and being away from my "real life" does remove that stress so while I am here, I am trying to find ways to deal with that trigger. One way has been focusing on my run. Going for a few miles, and you can get into a zone and really relax the mind. I think it can be better than any anti-depressant ever put on the market.

So in the midst of my desire to get a Five Guys burger or piece of fried chicken or any dessert...here I am ...chronicling that moment of....should I or shouldn't I? Admitting to the world that you have a problem is so not attractive...but maybe this will help someone else who is struggling with the same issues.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The fear of change...The pull of addiction

Routine is so comfortable....that same part of the couch...that favorite restaurant where the food is just to your liking....that soft shirt that you wear over and over again. Routine....is so easy....it means you remain in your comfort zone.

Welcome to living outside your comfort zone and the emotions attached to it. For two weeks now, I have lived in a very comfortable environment with familar elements: strength training, swimming, biking and running....but and this is a BIG but...they have stripped away the things that made my life manageable and comfortable:

Food...and Diet Coke.

I know it sounds crazy but I had a serious addiction to the bubbly sweet stuff in that red and white can. I drank 10 a day easy ...sometimes an entire 12 pack. I had enough sodium and caffeine running in my system to power a small town. This habit, however, has been years in the making and one that had to be shut down.

So, along with changing my eating habits, I had my last Diet Coke two weeks ago. It sounds like it should be no big deal: WRONG. My head was pounding. I felt like someone had laid an ax right in the middle of my skull. Long about the 4th day, I had to crawl into my dark bedroom and just sleep...the pounding in my head was just too much.

Once the headaches finally subsided, I got this feeling of true "health". My body felt significantly better from the inside out. I can not tell you how long it has taken me and how many times I have tried giving up this stuff...but finally...I think I got a handle on it.

As much as I enjoy that feeling, I knew that my desire for food would eventually rear its ugly head and tonight...it did. I went to see my friends who work over at the UNC Hospital on their coffee break. As I made the turn out of the parking lot, it was like this little evil devil was sitting on my shoulder telling me to go to a drive thru and have a night full of junk food.

I can now tell you every single fast food joint between Chapel Hill and Durham. There are 19...yes...count them if you like...that I could have stopped at and loaded up on those foods that got me to this place...

But for some reason I didn't...

I made it the few miles back to my apartment....picked up my phone and called a friend who had told me "if you have a problem..call me"

She is an alcoholic so she understands. Addiction is tough stuff. One day at a time sometimes turns into one hour or one minute at a time. And here I sit. Laptop in high gear helping me get through that feeling of utter helplessness. For some reason I have equated food with comfort and safety. The more the better.

Tonight I decided....NO MORE.

I won this battle...I let you know if I win enough of those battles to win the war...

As always...ill keep you posted on the good, the bad, and ...moments like this that are not my prettiest side!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Remembering a Hero


My heart is very heavy today. Yesterday, a dear friend, teammate and cancer warrior lost his battle with Leukemia and I am sad...and I am soooo incredible angry.

Doug Oxendine was a devoted husband, a father of two and a warrior against CML Leukemia. He participated and earned a Triple Crown with Team in Training (doing 3 events: a marathon, triathlon and 100 mile bike ride). He was an amazing speaker, a supportive teammate...and above all he was a helluva man and a wonderful friend. Yesterday, he earned another title: he became an angel.

Cancer is coward. It picks on little kids. It kicks adults when they are down. It hides away and attacks those that have fought the fight and won only to return and terrorise someones life and family. Cancer sucks and it still is my life mission to find a cure.

Many people have asked me why I stay and continue doing fundraising events with Team in Training. The answer is simple. No family should have a birth and a death certificate in the same envelope for their child. No wife should be left behind to raise two children on her own. No Husband should stand at a bedside and pray to switch places with their loving spouse who is fighting a disease that has no conscience. That's why....because Cancer is a Bastard.

Yesterday, I heard that Doug had passed and I was heartbroken. Today Im angry. Tomorrow I will be determined....Determined to continue to raise money and find a cure....

If you have never done a 5k for breast cancer or donated to a Team in Training participant who is raising money for a cure, or thought about becoming part of the bone marrow registry, I highly encourage you to consider it.

Your donation could keep the next family from this awful life changing fate.

Thanks for listening...Ill jump off my soapbox now...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Week One = 8 pounds

Soooo....this is a great start. My first 7 days at Structure House and I have lost 8 pounds. Now, I know its going to slow down (actually...I have been the same weight since Friday as we are required to weigh in every day) but thats ok...its the feeling of being on the right track that gives me a bit more peace.

I have slept more in the last week than I have in probably a month. I am trying very hard to listen to my body, learn from my classes, get all my workouts in and be consistent with my therapy sessions. To most people, this sounds like a vacation...but for me...I am on a mission. Come hell...come high water...i am determined to get myself into a good space about food, get the weight off and get back on track towards Ironman.

I never thought I would ever say this...but I miss my long run workouts. I miss hours on the bike. As i look back at the middle of Ironman training last year, all I wanted was a few days off. My body was pleading for rest. Now, my mind is pleading for challenge.

That challenge is coming...this time in the form of the Miami Half Ironman where the cut off is fairly strict.

Always chasing that clock....

As always...Ill keep you posted... :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bike Trails in Durham NC



We are so blessed in Orlando and the surrounding areas with beautiful long bike trails with facilities and little towns along the way. I am just starting to explore this town that I have enjoyed a few times in the past but what it is lacking is LONG bike trails that are paved. As we are in a more mountainous area, mountain biking is a little more popular than road cycling so finding a bike trail is a bit of a challenge...but I found one...and its perfect for shorter distance workouts..

The American Tobacco Trail sits right off the Durham Bulls Baseball stadium in Downtown Durham. Just 6.5 miles one way, it has many bridges and a few street crossings but for a urban trail, it is lovely. I got up early to try to beat the heat but by the time my workout was done at 9am, it was already 90 degress.

The trail is a bit hilly for a Florida girl but that should help to make my legs a little stronger. A short 1 hour workout with a bit of a nearby road added for mileage and my knee was reminding me that it needs work!! I know if I do a bit more research, I can find some beautiful roads to workout on as I enjoy North Carolina...

As always...ill keep you posted...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

No...I didn't fall off the face of the earth

Well....Im back to blogland. As I have said in previous blogs, if I am not writing, things are probably not well in well-ville. Things are not horrible but to say I was in a good place with my eating would be a bold face lie.

A week long family cruise shortly after the Gulf Coast Triathlon put the eating machine in motion. Who in the world thought that unlimited soft serve ice cream machines onboard a ship were a good idea. It sounds great...but for a compulsive overeater like me, it was almost too much to handle. By the 3rd day, I was making 2 or 3 trips to that troth. Add in the gourmet evening meals that started at 830 and breakfast being delivered to your room and it was just overload. I walked away from that cruise gaining 6 pounds.

With very little or no exercise from my knee surgery forward, it was time to ramp it up and get my life back in order. As I mentioned in my MUCH earlier posts, I had made a decision to return to Structure House in Durham, NC to get my weight down and my eating under control. I arrived here on June 13 and to date, I have lost 8 or the 16 I put on since knee surgery.

Being in a closed environment is a comforting experience but it can be very lonely. My dear husband, who has always been supportive of the things that I do, has cheered me on as I entered this program even though it leaves him alone and without his partner in crime for his adventures on his days off. Just yesterday, he flew to see my parents in the Bahamas and brought my father his Father's Day gift. He stood on my parent's deck overlooking the water and told me "it just doesn't feel right here without you."

Having an addiction means you miss a lot. I miss working out with my team in Training participants in Orlando. I miss training my Team Tri Hard athletes as they continue on towards bigger and better triathlons. I miss working with my trainer, Hector and attending bike trainer sessions. To get this demon under control, it means i must miss out on life...and that is a sad state of affairs.

Don't think Im sitting here crying in my beer (ohhhh a beer sounds good right now)...I am determined. I have 7 more weeks to get my act in gear and get this weight off my body. While I am doing that, lets see if I can get my body back up to speed for a half ironman in October...

And as always...now that Im back...I will keep you posted...

Monday, May 10, 2010

It was the best of times & worst of times-The Gulf Coast Tri




May 8th, 2010 had had a huge red circle around it since January...and here it was...the day I had a lot of hopes riding on. At the beginning of the year, it was the weight loss goal date for Ironman. When we realized a scheduling conflict with my husband's 25th college reunion would keep me from racing Ironman in 2010, May 8th became my A race date. When knee surgery kept me from completing the entire half ironman race, it became the date that two friends would come to my aid to help me at least participate in one of my favorite races.

Along with the incredible support of Mike and Vi Auld, Rebecca Babb and Sandi Fuller got up early Saturday morning and headed down to the transition area to set gear and get body marked. As we awoke, I made a beeline to the balcony and, to my shock, the weather had changed dramatically overnight. Even in the dark, I could see the whitecaps beyond the surfline and felt a very strong wind. It was gonna be a challenge today.

We returned to the room after setting gear, ate some breakfast and waited. I hate the waiting. It puts my stomach in knots. Since we were a relay team, that put us in the last wave leaving the beach at 715am. It also meant a rougher sea. I watched from the balcony to see how the other swimmers were handling the conditions. As I watched the professionals getting pushed off course and crossing the timing mat 5 to 9 minutes slower than usual, I knew...I was in for a difficult task.

Finally... I am on the beach, gun goes off and I hit the water. The temperature is perfect but you could feel that the sea was disorganized and messy. There was no rhyme or reason to the wave cycle and it made breathing and being consistent in my stroke nearly impossible.

Getting to the first turn buoy at the end of the first leg of the counter clockwise course took FOREVER. The support teams seemed to be having a hard time staying upright in their kayaks let alone being able to help swimmers. I was all over the place and I don't usually have a problem siteing but the buoys going out on the course were GREEN...and so was the water. Oh Lord, I thought, I gotta make this cut off.

I finally made it around the first turn buoy and didn't dare look at my watch. Working against the current, I made it to the other side of the course and the second turn. It was only then that I looked at my watch in absolute horror. 40 minutes ! WHAT!? A wave slapped me in the face and I ingested enough seawater to make me a little ill. For a single second I thought I was going to need some help. I composed myself with a few breast strokes and got back to the task of swimming.

The current pushed me so far off course that I ended up siteing the condo building instead of the buoys. I decided it would be
easier just to go to shore and run up the beach than to try to go against the current and get back to the buoys. I would later find out that I was not alone in this issue. Over 3 dozen swimmers ended up running up the beach to get to the swim exit.

I got nervous and started looking at my watch too much and the negative thoughts came pouring in. Finally I screamed underwater, DON'T GIVE UP!! It became my mantra as I headed into shore....Don't give up..don't give up...don't give up.

As I finally made it to land, I broke into a run up the beach. Three steps in, my knee reminded me that I was 3 weeks post op from surgery and I was in agony. Walking on pavement had become easy. Running on sand was brutal.

I looked at my watch....I was 2:30 minutes from the cut off as I headed towards the timing mats. I looked like a woman possessed as I struggled to the timing mat. I looked at the official and said "Im on time...I made it..." She must have thought I was insane because I was determined to get by her without her stopping me. Apparently, I WAS on time...they had allotted an extra 5 minutes to the swim cut off due to the conditions. I stepped on the mat at a time that I thought was past the cut off, but I had 4 minutes and 45 seconds to spar. I turned around and looked behind me and saw swimmers still coming in!! Oh my god, Im not last!!!

Up the sand I went, knee screaming at this point to stop. I was focused on getting to the relay tent and handing off the chip to Rebecca to get her on the road. The skies were dark and I was afraid that the rain was coming. The sooner she was out there, the sooner I would know she was back and ok.

As I made it through the tunnel, Rebecca screamed with joy!!! I am sure she thought that I was NOT going to make the cut off. I told her I had made a date with her and I don't stand up my dates!! I took the chip off and collapsed on the ground . She wanted to help me and I just said GO GIRL...and off she went for 56 miles of wind on the bike course.

Volunteers are angels with wings. Two came to my aid and helped me to a bench where I could put my knee up. They got ice to try to get the swelling down on my knee so I could make it back to the condo. I got out of transition and hobbled to the side of the road with Mike's help. Vi and Sandi were already there waited for Rebecca to make the small loop that circled back in front of us before the longer section of the bike course. She pasted us with good speed and a smile and we headed up to the room to wait for her return.

My knee was not happy with the sandy run but after a bit of a nap, it felt dramatically better. A hot shower, a little to eat and I was golden. I grabbed Mike's cane that he let me borrow as a fail safe and after 2.5 hours of waiting, we headed back to transition.

We waited..and worried. There was word of a crash with a number close to our 1149 team number. We waited some more..and worried. Rebecca arrived exhausted but smiling after a windy 56 miles with a touch of rain to make it interesting. She tagged up with an impatient Sandi who couldn't wait to get to the run. So began the worry for Sandi as she started her run close to the middle of the day.

As fates would have it, the sun came blazing out as Sandi started her run earning this 13.1 miles the Gulf Roast..instead of the Gulf Coast. We got Rebecca back up to the room where she took a cool bath and relaxed. She shook her head at me as we headed upstairs saying "Melissa..I don't know how you do this....all three events at once...its seriously tough!!!"

I once again closed my eyes for a quickie nap but before I knew it, it was time to run across the finish line with Sandi. Mike had headed out on the course to let us know when she was a mile out. It was a good thing too. It seems some of the volunteers had left their posts early and she didn't have much encouragement in those last two miles...but you gotta love Mike...he is always there with a smile and a cheer.

Rebecca, Vi and I waited impatiently at the finish line for Sandi's arrival. In the distance, we finally saw her...with incredibly perfect form considering the conditions running down Thomas Drive. She was hot but she gave us a wave and a smile (and some other gestures that are very hard to describe...Ill show you sometime!!) and we all three headed towards the finish line!!! All smiles for the camera and a cold beer for Sandi (we promised after 13 miles we would have a beer waiting) and it was time to celebrate.

Did we win any awards?? Nope! Just a finishers medal that we would learn later is actually a bottle opener (Im not really sure how I feel about that...)..but no prizes for us. Our times were horrible but I guarantee you...we had the MOST FUN of any team on the course. When returning to the room and our view of the ocean, I cried. How blessed am I to have friends who would step up and take on this challenge with me. How even more lucky am I to have friends who will travel 6 hours to support our efforts. I swear...this race brought me back to center again and reminded me...this sport is suppose to be fun and not all pressure. On this day...it was about teamwork...and joy...and celebration...and laughter...but above all...for me...it reminded me of why I got into this sport. Its a medal I will cherish the most because me friends helped me when I couldn't do it alone.

Another amazing life experience for the books...I am so incredibly lucky.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Back to the scene of the crime

You would think I would hate this place...but, Lord help me I love it here...

Greetings from Panama City Beach...my own personal crucible. I have had some great moments here. I have had others that broke my heart. There were moments on this beach where I thought about giving up my dream of become an Ironman but its just not in my nature to walk away for a goal such as this. I may be taking the year to get my body in order, but this place...this goal...this dream is alive and well in me.

The sun is rising over the beach. I am perched out on the balcony of my condo at the Boardwalk Beach Resort overlooking the swim course of the Gulf Coast Triathlon that starts tomorrow. It will be a unique race for me as I participate in a relay team. I will only be doing the 1.2 mile swim because of my knee surgery. Its hard to walk around and watch the race preparation unfold but I am excited for my friends who have stepped up to be on the Team Tri Hard Half Ironman Relay Team.

Once I exit the water, Ill be tagging up with my friend Rebecca Babb. She is a 20's something up and coming triathlete with a positive attitude and a lot of talent. She has had her share of bumps in the road but she is strong and eager to do well in this race. She and I raced at the Nation's Triathlon last year for Team in Training and she blistered the course with her speed on the bike and run. She is famous in Orlando for wearing her purple tutu to 5k races or stashing her superhero cape in transition to compliment her outfit on the run of a triathlon. This is JUST the type of person I need on my team...determined...but doesn't tae it all too seriously.

As Rebecca completes her 56 mile bike, she will tag up with one of my dearest friends, Sandi Fuller. Sandi has been doing marathons and half marathons with me for over 5 years. We have enjoyed a beer standing in the surf at Virginia Beach after numerous half marathons and braved the race elements in cities like Nashville, Tampa, and Cocoa . Sandi is fast and naturally talented so when we suggested this relay she was thrilled. It will be her first time participating in a triathlon and her first triathlon medal.

So with a little help from my friends, I will complete this race. My only fear is getting up the sand on the beach to the transition area....and...of course, I have the fear of not making the cut off. The relay wave is the final wave of the day at 715am...I have until 825am to complete. My average time in the swim is from 55 minutes to 1 hour...so I should be ok...but i always worry...ALWAYS!!

As I sip my coffee and look out of this beautiful water (which right now has not been touch by the oil spill near Louisiana), my mind can't help thinking about that day in 18 months when I will be crossing a finish line and achieving a dream...

Ill keep you posted on the race tomorrow...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Believe..and you will achieve

Its the quote I tell my Team Tri Hard athletes over and over again. On Saturday morning, over 200 swimmers, triathletes and general fitness enthusiasts decended on Lucky's Lake to complete the 1K open water swim. Swimming at Dr. Meishenheimer's home on LIttle Lake Cane in Orlando has become the stuff of national radio and T.V. spots and famous the world over as the place for triathletes to get a good open water workout in.

My athletes were a little hesitant but over the last few weeks, they all have completed the Open Water Swim. Once you complete the 1K...you get the honor of putting your signature on the wall (or ceiling) of Dr. Lucky's Pool area. He also gives you a patch and a bumper sticker to celebrate your accomplishment.

All my athletes had jumped this hurdle (some of them on their own the day after my knee surgery) except for one. Ethan..or as we call her "Ethee" has become a solid cyclist and runner over the last few weeks...but the water just isn't her strong event. She struggles with breathing and sometmes gets nervous just doing her workouts in the pool. Lucky's Lake was the ultimate challenge.

She had entered the lake on the weekend when I was not there but did not do the crossing. She made it to the first or second buoy and returned to the dock to cheer on her teammates. Today, it was my goal to help Ethee see that she could accomplish this goal....See it...Believe it...Achieve it!!

With over 200 people enter the water, my group hung back to give way to the super fast swimmers. We stepped onto the small beach and past the plaster alligators that Lucky has placed on next to his dock. A few of my athletes were a little unnerved by the reminder that...this is a Florida lake..you never know!!

Ethee and I enter the water together. She was wearing a SwimSafe belt (an floatation device that can be inflated if an emergency arises) provided by one of my more experience athletes and I promised her I would be with her the whole way. As we swam, she got into a rhythm of freestyle, breast stroke and floating on her back. My goal was simple for Ethee...to get her there and back.

We got to the same buoy she had turned at on her first attempt and she thought about returning to the dock. I told her that was simply not an option. Today was her day to complete this and we were going to do it..one stroke...one breath...one kick at a time. She made it to the third buoy and finally to the other side of the lake where we celebrated. She had completed half the distance and got a breather on the beach.

As we stared back to the other side, you could tell what she was thinking in this moment. "Can I make it?" "Do I try?" "Will I drown??" "Im 50..this is crazy!!" she told me. I should be swimming with a noodle (a foam flotation that some of the swimmers were using). I told her the only noodles she would be enjoying that day were over lunch and NOT in this lake. You can't use a noodle during the race..why would you use it here!

We started off back across the lake and she had moments of doubt and accomplishment cross her face. She was scared...and she was elated. It was absolutely amazing to watch this determined woman make this crossing. Each stroke got her closer to her goal.

As we approached the dock...you could her our team screaming her name. She looked at me and said "Now they are embarrassing me!!" I told her to be proud...its not everyday you face your fear and complete a goal!!! She came up on the beach and highfived me and another swimmer, Lynne who had been swimming with her coach Jane!! She had completed what she thought was impossible.

We took pictures of her signing the ceiling in Lucky's Pool area...and also with her new swimming buddy, Lynne!! I got in my car and I was very proud of Ethee...and her team of triathletes.

As I drove home, I contemplated the morning's events and realized that is was for moments like this that God has brought me to coaching. I certainly don't look like the typical Triathlon Coach but I understand what its like to be slow. I know what its like to finish last..but the point today was...Ethee had the guts to start...and finish!

In this downtime that my body requires from surgery and as I enter a new phase of self improvement, I am honored and humbled to have wonderful men and woman that call me coach and bless me with experiences like I had today. I have no aspirations of coaching elite athletes...but I do have aspirations of coaching those with more heart and drive than any olympian!

As I walked back to my car, I past a vehicle with three stickers on the back window: one was an Ironman logo, one was the word TRI and the final one was a famous quote in the world of endurance sports

The miracle isn't that I finished the race. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.--John Bingham


And that, my friends, is what my world is all about!!

As always...Ill keep you posted

Friday, April 30, 2010

This is what I do...

At 130am..im still awake..lying in bed...KNOWING that I have to be at boot camp to work with a new client at 5am. After finally getting 3 hours sleep, I was up...coffee in hand and out the door..

The 5am class of Boot Camp was happy to see me after a 2 week absence from doing fitness assessments . I don't teach a specific class of boot camp, but work with the people that are entering the program. We do a three part fitness evaluation, sign some paperwork and talk about their goals.

One of our boot campers came up to me and asked, "So .. I guess this is the end of the road with your triathlon career. No more Ironman dreams, huh." I smiled...and then I laughed...."Are you kidding." I said

I made one simple statement: No...this is what I do.

Triathlon is what I do. Its hard for me to envision going to the gym and working out just for my health. I need a GOAL...and racing is just that. By the way .. there are approximately 180 days until Ironman Miami 70.3. Without a goal to reach towards, I find it hard to motivate myself.

Right now..my short term goal is simple....GET WELL. I know that, as my surgeon Dr. Ott told me, I need to pick my battles. I know my race seasons that include 18 races are probably over but to give up triathlon all together...NO WAY!!

Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal. The ultimate goal is that date I have with Mike Rielly at the finish line of Ironman Florida. I have done poor Mr. Rielly a disservice by standing him up twice, I don't plan on not making it the third time!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

First Physical Therapy Session

Let me tell you how much fun Physical Therapy is...

I think I would rather ride my bike for 6 hours....seriously!!

YIKES...that hurts like hell....but I know that I am in the capable hands of the Florida Hospital Therapy Team at the RDV Sports Complex. For now, I am working with a general therapist but next week , I am hoping work with a woman by the name of Laura. She came highly recommended by not one but two friends who are marathon runners. I think she will understand my need to get back on the road and back to being me again.

Its been 12 days since my surgery. I am walking without crutches or a cane. I can ALMOST bend my knee as normal but there is the tightness in it that still smarts!! Every once in awhile, it wants to give out on me...but those times are rare. I am now capable of climbing stairs without taking them one at a time.

I did my first swim workout on Monday and covered just 1000 yards. Yesterdays was 2000 and I am hoping today will be 2500. I will swim the 1.2 mile swim portion of a relay team at the Gulf Coast Triathlon on May 8th so I want to make sure I can cover the distance under time!!

It's slowly coming together...but as usual...Im not very patient!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

You don't put regular gas in your Ferrari

I love cars. I am addicted to new car smell. The color of a car (mostly reds, greens, blues, or a special glossy black) can increase my blood pressure. If you slide into the leather seats and go "hmmmm..." it melts my butter. I got this addiction from my father...he changes cars like most people change socks.

I recently bought a new Lexus SUV...just the small one...but it's red...its new... its shiny and it carries all my triathlon gear. I use to drive a large expensive SUV that I bought from the above mentioned car addict of a father...but it was too expensive to maintain and it was gray in color ... and it wasn't me.

So...it may not surprise you that the above quote that titles this blog struck a cord with me. If I owned a Ferrari...I would NEVER put regular gas in it...But when this quote was made, it had nothing to do with a car..but everything do to with a talented triathlete.

I was speaking to Chris,a talented triathlete and the lifeguard that helps at the pool where my Team Tri Hard triathlete work out every Thursday night. It was getting late in the evening and his boss came out to make sure he had gotten dinner. He told them that he would eat when he got home because..."he doesn't put regular gas in the Ferrari.."

How profound. I have thought about this comment for days. Isn't it interesting how some athletes view food as fuel. For someone with an eating disorder, we view food as recreation or as comfort...but rarely do we view it as fuel.

It is interesting, however, that when I get on the bike and do multiple hours, those workouts will require additional nutrition. I often use Fig Newtons on these rides because they work with my system. It is only in those moments that I don't view the Fig Newtons as cookies...but as fuel.

If I could just starting viewing food as fuel instead of using it as a numbing mechanism, I could seriously have this weight problem licked but, as we all know, it is never that easy. People who do not have an eating disorder will say that simple phrase "Well..just stop eating so much." For those of you with any sort of addiction..you know..if it were that easy, we would have done it a long time ago.

I got a picture off the web of a Ferrari and stuck it to my refrigerator...to remind me...that just as my love of cars exists...so should my love of me. My body is worthy of being treated like that fine italian racing machine. I deserve the "good fuel" instead of the junk.

Doesn't it amaze you where you can find inspiration for your life???

My 25th College Reunion




A few months ago, I headed to the mailbox and found that invitation. Its the one that reminds you just how old you really are. My 25th college reunion. REALLY?? I don't FEEL that old. As I stared at the date, my mind immediately compared it to the triathlon calendar and...I realized...it was the same weekend as St. Anthony's.

I got it figured out that I would fly back to St. Pete and compete in the race on Sunday and enjoy part of the festivities of my reunion on Friday and Saturday. That was BEFORE my knee surgery occurred and took me out of racing for awhile. I guess God has a plan as it required me to slow down, enjoy this special moment and share with women I had not seen in ages.

I attended a small women's college in Spartanburg SC known as Converse College. After a year of looking at large colleges around the south and even being accepted to some prestigious northern schools, Converse offered a scholarship and touched my heart. It was small, friendly, beautiful and the faculty really seemed to care about the education they were providing. I had already sent my acceptance to Auburn Univetsity by the time I went to Converse...but with just weeks prior to the deadline, I switched...and forever became a Converse "Connie"...as they use to call us.

A Florida girl at a Southern Belle college took some getting use to and there were times I simply didn't fit in ...but there were several people that became lifelong friends including my roommate of 2 of my 4 years, Tammy Foster. We all converged on the Converse campus for two days of reliving old memories and seeing the campus.

I made it around campus, limping along, but I am so glad that I attended this event. I keep in touch with many of these women on Facebook but others were a sight for sore eyes. They remember me as the partying slacker that barely graduated..hard to believe how much I have changed since my days of showing up to class half awake and hung over. My husband attended some of the events with me because, well, he is one of the things that HASN'T changed since college...we met 3 weeks into my freshman year..and married 6 months after graduation.

My husband and I also visited the spot on campus where we had our first kiss. So many wonderful memories. It was worth missing St. Anthony's .....

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Why do I do some of the things I do...really...


Ugh!! Frustration!! It's hard working for a charity in the midst of a recession. Times are tough are the words I hear over and over again every time I ask for a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society or ask for a silent auction item.

Yep! Times are Tough....but I got another fact you might wanna consider...

Cancer doesn't really care if times are tough. It's still out there and we still don't have a clue how to beat it.

There are moments I sit back, like I did today, and wonder..."why in the hell do I put myself through working for a charity!!??" Im not getting paid for my time. I'm doing this when I could be doing something else...like shopping or having lunch with friends. Instead of sleeping in on a Saturday morning, I choose to go work out with a group of people helping to raise awareness about blood cancers.

And today....I got my answer in plain form. All it took was some copy paper, some Team in Training Purple Jerseys...and a few willing souls.

An entry a few days ago discussed my friend Doug who is battling CML and is undergoing a bone marrow transplant. He is in the process of receiving chemo that is killing off his immune system so his body is ready for the new bone marrow. He is in isolation because of this...no visitors.

But we found a way. A group of Team in Training participants and some coaches gathered on the sidewalk outside Doug's hospital room. Dressed in our Purple Team in Training Jerseys, we held up letters to spell a simple message to Doug that he could see from his window. We called the nurse's station near his room and had one of the nurses go and ask Doug to look out the window....

When he did, we held up our letters that spelled out: We Love You. We then wrote letters on the back of the cards that spelled out Doug's nickname : Billygoat!

I could barely hold back the tears. The thought of being in isolation for so long, the fear of losing your life to cancer and the knowledge that you have little children that might be left without a father just all seemed overwhelming. So much is weighing on my friend's mind...but we hoped this small little sign would help lift his spirits and know he is not alone in his quest for survival.

I believe in the power of prayer. I believe in the power of the human spirit to rise up against illness and injury and heal the body. I believe God has a hand in all of this.

It made my day to know that maybe we made his day.

Why do I do what I do?? Why do I dress in purple, raise money for cancer research and swim, bike and run hundreds of miles with a team of people that have mostly never done events like this before??

Its simple: because Cancer Sucks...and my heartfelt goal is to make cancer disappear in our lifetime.

I hope you will join me in whatever way you chose to help find a cure for the disease. Whether you support the Leukemia Society, Livestrong, the American Cancer Society, St. Judes or others...I hope you will join me in the army of people who will not let this disease continue to take lives....they are too precious...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

On the mend....

Just like any sports game...my Friday had its highs..its lows...its base hits...its outs and its grand slams as I headed in for my knee surgery. Just like at the beginning of any major race...I had butterflies fluttering in my stomach...

To GET to my surgery was a bit of a challenge. Dr. Ott performs surgeries on Fridays in Brandon...about 75 minutes from my house. My surgery was at 700am so I decided to go over the night before. My parents were out of town, my brothers busy with work, my husband flying and not getting off work until the late afternoon and Rick was teaching boot camp. The only way I could figure out to get over there in time was to rent a car, spend the night in a hotel near the surgery center, drop the car at the rental car place then take a cab to the surgery center. My plan was a bit complicated but it all went without a hitch and I arrived at the Surgery Center at 550am.

They handed me a piece of paper to tell them who would be taking me home and they were all a bit shocked when I wrote "Dr. Susan Ott". "The DOCTOR is taking you home" the nurse asked. "Yes..until my business partner or husband can make their way here and pick me up." With a bit of a stunned look on her face, she made some notes, I signed some consent papers then it was off to the pre op area...

I got changed into a gown and put my hair back in a surgical "shower cap" and laid back on the gurney. That when I realized I was truly doing this alone. Was I crazy?? No one to hold my hand...no one to calm my fears. And then my phone buzzed and I knew I wasn't alone. My husband started sending text messages...and then so did my friend, Rick ... and before I knew it...it was time to turn off the phone, talk to the anesthesiologist and Dr. Ott and get wheeled into the operating room.

If you have ever been awake staring at the ceiling of an operating room, it can be a bit unnerving. For me, it brought back serious memories. As they wheeled me in, I remembered that moment on Dec. 1, 1998 when my life changed forever. On that day, I endured 6 hours of a full open gastric bypass and those memories came flooding back. I felt my body stiffen as they put my arms out to the side. The anesthesiologist placed the mask near my face and, for a moment I almost jumped off the table. He looked at me and said "Where is your favorite place to vacation??" I was just about to answer and then....

The next thing I remember...Im in recovery. The nurse is waking me up telling me it was over and I had done well. Groggy and in a bit of pain, I reach for my knee (like somehow it would be missing). It had a huge bandage on it...and bending it was not an option. The nurse brought me a Diet Coke which has to be the second best Diet Coke I have ever tasted (I think the first was at the end of my first half ironman). I asked the nurse for my phone...and made the first phone call I knew I needed to make.

While this was going on, my parents were in the Bahamas sitting by the phone...and worrying...like most parents do when their child is under the knife. I dialed the number, the phone rang and my father picked it up on the first ring. I went to speak..and realized...they just removed a tube from my throat and I was unable to make a sound. I could hear the fear in my Dad's voice as I tried to make a sound. Finally..the words "Im ok..." came out of my mouth and my mother got on the other phone.

Missey...honey..what is it...talk to me. I was trying but nothing was happening. I was so worried about them being worried about me that I didn't think I wouldn't be able to talk right away. After a few more sips of Diet Coke, I was able to talk to them and let them know all was well.

I must have been feeling pretty good on the drugs they had given me because I proceeded to text several of my friends and ask them if they wanted to go for a run. I then got on facebook and misspelled my status update but got my message across that I was alive and well. As I became more and more awake, the messages got a little clearer...

Dr. Ott came in and showed me my pictures. The cartilage chip that she removed was 12mm x 4mm. She also cleaned up a small tear in my meniscus. The chip had been floating around causing some considerable pain and I can tell you now, I already feel better.

Dr. Ott returned to the rest of her case load for the day as I slept in the recovery room. About two hours later, she was ready to go home. Just as I was getting in her car, Steve texted me that he had arrived in Orlando and was on his way to pick me up. Pretty good timing.

Dr. Ott was amazing. She helped me to the couch in her living room and made me comfortable. She brought me another Diet Coke and even offered to make me some food. I was almost embarassed that someone would be so gracious to someone who was taking up their time and their home.

About two hours later, Steve arrived and helped me to the car. I was trying very hard to hide it but it was clear, I was in A LOT of pain. The meds that I had received at the surgery center had worn off and we had not yet filled my prescription of pain meds for home. We had to make a choice ....do we stop and get the meds filled or do we just head home. I decided to stop, get some Motrin and head on home.

The ride was a long one. It was very difficult to get comfortable and I even cried by the time we got to the outskirts of Orlando. Upon our arrival at the house, I had some pain medication that I had left over from a previous surgery. I took one of the pills and finally relaxed...and slept...

It's now a little more than 24 hours from my surgery and I can already put weight on my leg and walk without the crutches. I already feel better and I know it will only get better from here. It will be several weeks before I start running again but I feel so very positive about the future. The knee is fixed...now we need to focus again on the weight loss....

My thanks to the amazing staff in Dr. Ott's office, Dr. Ott herself and the incredibly talented and professional staff of the Brandon Ambulatory Surgery Center. Each and every one of these people are a blessing to me...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Viewing the big picture...


So...tomorrow is the day. I have been rushing around trying to get those things done (like the ever dreaded grocery shopping) that I know I will not be able to accomplish with a bum knee. Even with the running around, I did stop to take in the beautiful day...and go for one last bike and walk before tomorrow.

Sometimes we take the beautiful days and views for granted. Today I did not. Not because I face a 20 to 40 minute procedure tomorrow but because a friend of mine faces a bigger challenge today.

His name is Doug and he has been battling CML (Chronic Myeloid Leukemia) for several years. He has fought and gained remission for a period of time but now the drugs that have kept him in remission are no longer working and he will require a bone marrow transplant. He starts his 100 days in isolation today as he fights for his life.

And this is why I raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It is my hope..my dream...my life goal...to do what I can to help find a cure for all cancer...especially blood cancer.

Cancer is a coward. It picks on little kids. It picks on people that it believes are not going to fight. Cancer screwed up when it decided to pick on Doug. He is a warrior with a wife and children and he isn't going down. This is a serious battle.

So my little knee surgery is small potatoes. I am so very lucky to have had the opportunity to do Tri MIami 2009 with Doug. I know that we will both be racing again before you know it!!

If you have a moment, say a prayer for my friend. He is a helluva man!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ironman Athlete to the Rescue

You might understand the feeling I am about to describe. It's the feeling of needing more information than you have but no way to really get to it. It's the feeling of desperation that you MUST make the right decision for fear of screwing up your future plans. These were my feelings as I sat on my couch yesterday afternoon contemplating my next move to get me well. What do I do next?

I had called the doctor that operated on my business partner-Rick Stafford but he does not accept my insurance...so that lead was quickly out the window.

I contacted a referral from a good friend who has had this problem in both knees. Her physician's first appointment was almost a month away. I don't mind waiting but there is a serious scheduling issue with a family cruise that is coming at the end of May. If I wait too long to have this procedure done, I won't be able to walk well while on the cruise...and honestly that just sounded miserable to me.

And then, my phone rang. I had asked an Ironman friend named Susan Ott to call me. She is an Orthopedic Surgeon in Plant City (a little more than an hour from Orlando) and I knew she could help me with perspective about my injury AND my racing. She was wonderful...taking time out of her evening to answer the rambling questions of a freaked out triathlete. If you have read my blog for any amount of time, you might remember me writing about Susan last year during my training (see July 12, 2009 ). She came out to a local trail and rode with me giving me advice that I needed at the time.

And then she offered something I didn't expect. "you know Melissa...I could take care of this surgery on Friday for you." WHAT?? Friday...as in THIS Friday?? She offered to see me in her office the next day, look at my xrays, MRI's and reports and
give me an honest assessment and, if surgery was needed, schedule me for Friday.

I was speechless. I was so lost with the idea of picking a surgeon that I trusted...and I swear....the big guy upstairs helped make the decision for me.

So at 215PM today, I met with Susan. She did a couple extra X-rays and determined I did need surgery. She made time for me on Friday and I will have this procedure over and done by the end of this week. I know my full recovery where I will be back to running will probably take two to three months but ... for now...I feel so calm and relaxed. I have to tell you, I cried tears of relief all the way home today.

Don't you find it amazing that in this world there are still people who work in the business of healing others that REALLY WANT TO HEAL. These people love what they do and want so much to see people get better. To me, they are angels with wings. I have seen these types of physicians in several forms from those who treat pediatric cancer to , now, orthopedic surgery. What a blessing they are to the world.

My problem is a minor one...but when it's your skin they are cutting...any surgery becomes a big deal. I am just so glad that I have a friend in Dr. Susan Ott....

As always...Ill keep you posted....

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Be careful what you wish for...

Find the problem, I kept saying. Tell me what the heck is wrong with me!! WELL, I got my wish today...but it wasn't what I wanted to hear.

My dear P.A. from the Ortho clinic called to let me know the results of my MRI (hows that for service..less than 1 day after the test) and he had a laundry list

1. I have a "joint mouse"! This is a bone or cartilage fragment floating around the joint causing symptomatic pain.

2. I have abnormalities in the joint bone itself from years of morbid obesity and the constant pressure on the bone has worn them to a "peak" instead of being smooth and rounded. The P.A. recommended that these be smoothed out for less pressure and pain using surgery via arthroscope.

3. A minor tear of the meniscus that, if left alone, would probably heal, but since they are going in to do this other work, will repair this tear.

I think I had the typical thoughts most athletes or competitors have when the word "surgery" is used in a sentence. How long will it take for me to recover? Will I be able to race again?? Will I ever be able to go long distance for an Ironman?? Will this change me from an athlete to a person standing on the sidelines and cheer others on.

So many questions...not many answers...but I will learn more soon. The appointment with my doctor is for Friday at 215PM. The funny part....I went to high school with the surgeon. Maybe that will help me...maybe it won't!!

As always...Ill keep you posted!! Your comments are always appreciated!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Motivation



There are events in your life that we sometimes turn to and remember as the pivotal moment that a decision was made, a turn towards a new path or a goal was firmly set in our lives.

I had that kinda moment this morning.

The saga continues with my left knee so this morning, my MRI was scheduled at the Ortho Clinic just a few minutes from my house. I arrived on time. The staff was wonderfully friendly and I didn't have to wait long at all to get the appointment started. They had me remove my watch, lock my belongings in a locker and then step into the room with the machine I show above.
Cool looking isn't it?? I mean...it's not that frightening looking monster MRI machine that we all envision in our mind. It's small and you just stick you leg in it. It still bangs and makes LOTS of noise...but its small....its not as scary...

Did I mention it was small....yeah... really small....

Too small...well at least for my leg. The tech was so incredibly nice. She tried the first leg support for my knee and went to slide my leg in only to find that it would not go all the way up. Not a problem, the nice lady told me. She switch sleeves and my leg fit in the sleeve fine. My leg, however, would not fit all the way in the machine

The tech told me she could probably get the shots she needed...but it just wouldn't work. She was embarrassed and so was I. Not since my inability to fit in an airline seat did I feel the embarrassment I felt this morning. The Tech called the other MRI office and they were able to get me into a normal size machine that took pics of my knee with no trouble...but man was I mortified!!

After 200lbs lost, the only part of my body where I haven't had skin removed is my thigh area. They are BIG. Not only are we dealing with skin...I still carry a lot of weight there that needs to be lost. I got in my car with tears streaming. If there was ever a moment of motivation, this was it. I have got to get to my goal weight. I can NOT have these things happening to me anymore. I have come too far to not reach that finish line. This is a race I refuse to quit....

F-ing Body Parts

Ok...consider this my Monday morning to VENT..and I mean VENT A LOT!! If you are not ready for a blog full of twisted humor and full of expletives, you may wish to move on....oh heck stay...this is going to be good.

Sunday...4am...Walt Disney World. While the happiest place on earth sleeps, my happy behind is up, and out the door to make sure I get home and get my gear together to do a bike workout with my Team Tri Hard Triathletes. I also like a little morning quiet time with my coffee...and to do some writing.

730AM arrives...and so do my athletes...on time!! They are quite awesome. Have I mentioned that...ohh probably a million times in the last couple of weeks. I do a short nutritional seminar with them then its off to cover 15 miles on the bike. I send them down the trail and jump on my bike.

As I clip in and bend my left knee, it felt like someone hit me with a 2 x 4. Yikes...that hurts like hell!!! Another push and it still hurts but its not as bad...and I head on down the trail.

15 miles later...all my athletes are in and I am off my bike and trying desperately not to show that walking at this point HURTS. I rack the bike and head back to Disney where my husband and friends are waiting to go horseback riding. I get the "grease" working in my joints enough to hoist myself aboard my sweet horse named Trace and off we went on a 1 hour trail ride. When we finish, I dismount...and once again....I look like Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies making my way down the sidewalk limping as I go.

Stupid Body Parts. My left knee is really becoming an issue. My MRI is scheduled for this morning but I have decided that the world should come up with an easier way to replace the parts.

If you can slap new rubber on your car or rip out the transmission in your Chevy in a matter of hours...why not do that in people!!!

REALLY!! We have the technology!!! There is gotta be a faster way to fix BODY PARTS!!! (insert frustrated snort here)

Im a triathlete...not a hobbling old woman (ok...maybe I am an old woman...comfortably in denial ) ...I got races to do, medals to grab and podiums to stand on (ok...Im still back in my dream world...work with me here).

Just frustrated!!! UTTERLY FRUSTRATED!! Find the problem and fix it Doc before I pull out my toolbox and do it myself!!

GRRRRRRRRRRR!!!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Giving up....to get back up...

Risk a change, overcome fear and win.....Unknown


What can I tell you...Im a planner. My Franklin Covey old style written planner is my compass. I know if I need information,
there is a good chance it is there. My races, plane reservations, phone numbers, birthdays, events...everything is right there.

I own several computers. I have a beautiful MONSTER SIZE Mac on which I write this blog. I have a highly functional laptop that goes on the road with me. All these computers have planning software (Outlook, ICal...etc).

I still am addicted to my paper planner....but SLOWLY...Im starting to move things to this century and my computer.

But just like that paper planner, there are times when you have to look at your old habits and ways and decide to make a change. I think that is the theme of my life this year: it's full of change. For years, my world revolved around my race goals and focused very little on other parts of my life. I have a wonderful husband who would smile and nod as I waxed poetic about the next triathlon. He understands. He is that way about flying. Now that he owns a fully restored Cessna 172, he is so happy!!

So as I deal with injury, scheduling conflicts and intermediate goals that will lead to that big goal of completing my first Ironman, there are things that had to take center stage and some things that just had to fall away...

Last December, I was lucky enough to get into the USAT Level 1 Triathlon Coaching Certification program. After my certification, I put together a Sprint Distance Triathlon Program with my Boot Camp called "Team Tri Hard". My team of 12 triathletes has been working since the beginning of May to complete, for most of them, their first sprint distance race. I couldn't be more proud. They are conquering their fears, learning about nutrition and equipment and pushing themselves beyond the limits they had set in their heads before they began this journey.

I remember that feeling. I remember not sleeping the night before my first race. I remember thinking that 3 miles of running would simply be impossible. Although the distances have changed dramatically, those same mental barriers exist. Instead of worrying about 3 miles..I worry about 26.2.

I might have postpone my Ironman goal for a year, but in exchange, I have gotten the most gratifying feeling...seeing others move forward in their fitness goals...I think I am more excited about their race than they are.

I have also had to evaluate what is more important in my life than just racing. I had the opportunity to be the assistant coach of the Central Florida Chapter of Team in Training's Triathlon Team going to the Nation's Triathlon in September. I was so excited when I found this out earlier in the year that I have been counting the days until that season started, however, my goals and desires for myself and my wellness have changed...and this coaching opportunity does not fit into that new schedule of goals..

So I had to let it go..I had to call Team in Training and let them know I would be a participant in the Nation's Tri and NOT a coach.

It was painful. I love helping people but there are times when you KNOW that you must get yourself WELL so that you can be more useful down the road. As I battle my compulsive overeating and try desperately to get down to my goal weight, some things have had to wait. Like Ironman, coaching for me has been the process of baby steps. I pray there will be other opportunities in the years ahead, but for now, the focus has to be on my body, my mind, my health...

What I give up now will hopefully pay off in the end.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Life minus the 3 hour run and the 100 mile bike ride

My recent conversation with an Ironman Friend:

Friend: Melissa...this is your year off...remember!! You're not training for an Ironman

Melissa: Yeah, I know...I know..

Friend: That means you can train for a sprint or an olympic and have fun ...

Melissa: I had fun training for Ironman

Friend: Yeah...but you get that part of your life back...you don't have to spend 7 hours on your bike...or 3 hours on the run.

Melissa: WHAT?? YOU DON'T!!

So this is where I tell you....I don't remember what its like to train for a race that did not require the above. What's it like to train for an Olympic or a Sprint. It's been years since I did this. Three years of my life has been dedicated to a goal still unattained. The thought of training an hour and jumping out of the pool and being done for the day seems so....ODD!

I don't know what to do with myself!!

This weekend I did my longest workouts to date: an hour long swim then my 56 mile bike. Im trying to decide if I am really well enough to even attempt the Gulf Coast Triathlon but even the training for a Half Ironman seems so short to me. I am use to leaving my house on the weekend and being gone almost the entire day on the road racking up the miles.

Saturday afternoon, I went shopping. YES...Me...shopping. Talk about a unusual event. Saturdays are for sweating, getting used to aerobars and figuring out if can tolerate THAT MUCH gatorade in a 7 hour period.

Last year long about August, I would have killed someone for an Saturday afternoon at the mall. Saturday I feltl strangely lost as I went from store to store. Believe me, I come from a mother who would be on the Olympic Shopping Team if it existed...I KNOW how to shop.

The shift in priorities feels odd. It feels like I an old friend has moved out of town.

This weekend I am traveling with my husband to the Keys to celebrate his birthday. It will be another weekend where I don't get up at 4am to do a workout. I am looking forward to sleeping in but there is the athlete in me that wants to run.

It's all a part of the journey....

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Watching the makings of triathletes

For several years now, I consider being a triathlon coach. I discarded the idea because of my size because I didn't think people would take me seriously. Most people have a tendency to read the cover instead of the book inside ....so to tell people I coach triathlon sometimes brings a shocked look to their face.

This morning, 6 of my 9 triathletes got up early and did a large brick to prepare them for their upcoming Sprint Distance Triathlon. I held a transition seminar where I taught each of them how to set their gear in the transition area and not make the mistakes I made or the mistakes I see at every race. If you're a triathlete, you know what I'm talking about. You gotta love the newbies that just don't know any different. They rack their bike wrong, they set their gear ALL OVER THE PLACE, they forget stuff or worse yet, they don't know how to pass or be pasted on a bicycle.

We set out on our 10 mile bike and our 2.5 mile run (and I stayed on the bike since I currently can not run) and I was filled with such joy. They were learning...and learning fast...and becoming fast. Their bike handling was more sure, and their transition were quicker. They asked all the right questions about proper nutrition, what to wear and what to do with their race number.

Ive got 9 people that are going to be a positive part of the triathlon community. How blessed I am.

I really shouldn't be surprised at their amazing progress. They are all incredible people in their work and families. What has surprised me is the positive effect they have had on my life in the last few weeks. Sure, they complain about cold water, and uncomfortable bike seats...but I swear...its like watching a beautiful Magnolia burst into bloom. I couldn't be more proud.

I know I sound like a dork...but Im so excited for them. Some of them will do this race and check it off their life list as a task completed. Others, I feel, will cross that finish line and feel the same as I did....WHEN'S THE NEXT ONE!!

Gotta love the newbies!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

One Link at a Time...

It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link of the chain of destiny can be handled at a time." Winston Churchill


I want to thank "The Running Girl" for posting this quote on her blog. Her words constantly inspire me. There are so many bloggers on this world we call the internet that keep me moving in the right direction. One I even call my "Uncle Bob" (but note he is not that old) but his advice is what you would expect from that cool uncle that always understood your point of view as a kid. To these and so many others who have helped me in this journey...thank you.

The quote above is very profound. It reminds me not to get to far ahead of myself. Lately, that has been a problem. I want the weight gone YESTERDAY ..and as I'm sure most of you know...weight loss just doesn't work that way.

There are times I feel I should hide the difficulties that made me a 380 pound woman 11 years ago but even in this 200 pound smaller body, those difficulties continue to surface. When times get tough, I turn to food for comfort. Each day is a battle against the snack, the chocolate and the eating in my car. Each night is a war against eating in my sleep. I have resorted to setting up a "booby trap" in my kitchen to wake me before I eat. In the last few months, it has worked to perfection and I now no longer find the remnants of food on my counters. Some things are going well since January 1....others...are not.

By now, I wanted to be a lot smaller than 17 pounds down. My goal was 40 pounds by May 8th but that goal does not seem possible now. I hope to get over this hump but there are behaviors that are holding me back from my goal. It's so hard to admit that you have a problem with food.

When I went to celebrate my father's 80th birthday in the Bahamas, I was overwhelmed when I walked into my parent's home. Cookies, cake, chips and every kind of junk food imaginable graced the kitchen. It was like telling an addict they would have to stay in a crack house and not get high. The first night, I did well eating my normal meal and snacking on veggies. By the time we went home, the chocolate and cookies had made it to my face.

So once again, I am faced with some choices. Do I continue to try to battle this beast of an addiction with normal therapy at home or do I face it with help? With the prospects of an Ironman gone from my year, I had to switch gears and determine that weight loss IS my Ironman goal this year and I just don't think I can do it alone.....so....

I'm headed back to rehab!! (Insert Amy Winehouse song here)

I wonder if anyone understands how I struggled to admit this to the world. This will be my SIXTH trip to a closed environment where I can get my "&$%^&*" together. It makes me feel weak and stupid. I'm a smart person. This isn't rocket science. Too many calories in and not enough calories out equals weight gain. Its a simple equation. The bottom line, however, is this has more to do with what I am trying to shove down with food instead of with the food itself.

I have friends who are alcoholics who have told me that having a food addiction would be the absolute WORST. With help, you walk away from alcohol and don't have to touch it. With food, you have to deal with it several times a day for the rest of your life. Ok, so you can't get a DUI for being under the influence of McDonald's French Fries but you get my point. Using food for nourishment is the key....Using food as a comfort will eventually kill you.... and honestly ... I don't want to die like that.

I have several obligations that I must complete before I can focus totally on this quest. I have 9 incredible triathletes that call me Coach who will be participating in their first triathlon at the end of May. I continue to be a Fundraising Mentor to the Marathon Team with Team in Training even though I am unable to run the San Diego Marathon as I planned the first week of June. My family and I are traveling to the Caribbean the first week of June for our yearly family trip and I promised my business partner I would run Expedition Everest as his partner. Once those obligations are fulfilled, I will take two months to focus on me, on therapy and once again, getting my eating under control.

So, before I can dream again of that famous six word sentence from Michael Reilly, I have to address this link in the chain that leads to my dream....get healthy .. get lighter....get stronger...and then....the dream becomes reality

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Towel...

You have a choice. You can throw in the towel, or you can use it to wipe the sweat off of your face.


I was on my favorite obsession known as Facebook where I saw the quote above and..it hit me...this is what i need to write about and put on paper.

The last couple days have been a challenge. I have been consistent with my workouts even though they no longer include running on the road. My life revolves around the pool and the bike and trying to keep my calories where they need to be.

With just a two weeks rest, my IT band feels 100% better. I would love to KILL the people that do my Physical Therapy, but their hard work has paid off. I still have a little soreness in my knee but nothing like it was.

My foot continues to be an issue. A slight stress fracture in my right foot is keeping me from doing that running I love to hate so I don my water shoes and hit the pool for a soggy jog. I never in my wildest dreams believed that I would miss the miles on the road but I really really do!!!

With all that said, my weight loss is stalled at 17 pounds. I considered bringing a loaded .45 to my last weigh in to give that damn scale what it deserved but good judgement got the best of me. My body has found a happy place and it doesn't want to budge. My eating has been solid but not perfect....but honestly...who's really is?? There are going to be days where you have a bite of birthday cake or lick the spoon when your Mom is making something delicious. I am NOT eating at night, I am not snacking in the afternoon but I do have a meal every once in awhile that exceeds my calorie limit for the day. I call this living the healthy lifestyle and maintaining what i have lost but I still have 25 to 30 pounds I would like to see disappear.

So...where do I go from here??? I could just give up. Throwing in the towel would be the easiest thing to do. I could just be happy at this weight and give up on all those dreams that are just out of reach..

But that's not me...

In the next few weeks, I will be making some plans to help with my weight. I refuse to accept my weight at this level. I am still considered obese and I want to live a long happy life. If Ironman can't be the goal this year, getting closer to my goal weight is...

Stay tuned...exciting and positive things are on the horizon!!!