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 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. 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 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

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 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!!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

You adapt...You adjust...You overcome

A rather handsome Citadel cadet turned Marine told me that when I was just in my 20's. I guess the statement made such an impression on me, I married that cadet...and to this day he reminds me of those words when the situation requires.

I got back in the groove today but not in the typical workout fashion. Today, I did my run workout in the pool. With my special water running shoes, I looked forward to this workout with great anticipation. It seemed like it would be easy and fun...

I am here to inform was fun...but easy?? Nope..not so much..

Running in the water is a challenge and for those of us that are vertically challenged, it is definitely MORE of a challenge because you can't cheat in the shallows. It definitely gave me a workout and I felt like I had accomplished some serious work when i exited the water.

After over 10 days of knee and foot pain and two doctor's visit, this is now my workout world. They believe that my IT band syndrome will heal with simple rest, physical therapy and NO running on pavement. My right foot, however, is a tricky issue. I have known for years that I had a hairline fracture in one of the bones on the top of my right foot. After Gasparilla, that right foot started to swell and I definitely had some pain. Normal xray showed nothing so an MRI has been ordered. Until the result return, I am logging the miles in the water.

At 46 years old, Im starting to feel like I am falling apart. First my stomach, now my leg and foot. Come on body, we got work to do!! I feel like I have had more obstacles in the last few weeks than i have ever had in the past...

Ahhh...but we adapt...we adjust...we overcome...yup....and its off to the pool i go tomorrow!!!

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

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Celebrating my Father's 80th Birthday

This year has been my year to learn about priorities. On this certain Sunday, my plan was to blog about the Miami International Distance Triathlon. My mother, however, had other plans. She put together a huge 80th birthday celebration in the Abaco Islands and scheduled it this weekend. I had to make a choice. Once again, my family took priority and we headed to the Islands much to the joy and happiness of my Dad.

When I tell people I am going to the Abaco Islands of the Bahamas, they usually get a little jealous. To them, it is a tropical paradise. To is definitely that but I also consider it my second home. I made my first trip to the Bahamas in the playpen on the back of a 38 foot boat. For over 40 years, my father spent every single summer and more in the Bahama islands. When he got a little too old to handle his larger boat, my father and mother decided to buy a second home in the Abacos and now they spend some of the year in the tropics.

There were no formal gowns or big time ballrooms set for this 80th birthday. This was a laided back affair that captured the spirit of my father's life. Surrounded by the children that he raised and videos from his grandchildren, our gift to him was a video presentation of the highlights of his life. I had seen a lot of the footage but I still cried. This man has accomplished so much. Judge, attorney, businessman, father, devoted husband, philanthropist, community leader and church elder, he really has climbed many mountains, helped many people, and succeeded in so many areas of life.

I guess that is why, sometimes, its hard being his only daughter. My parents had high expectations for me as I was growing up. I don't really think that I took the path they expected. I don't think they ever dreamed their daughter would do half the things that I do today and one thing is for certain: they are proud of me but they do NOT approve of my triathlon interests. After my last attempt at Ironman, they told me it was foolish to ever attempt anything of this sort ever again. This is when I stopped telling them about my training or about my desire to complete this goal. They just don't understand and at their age, it is truly unfair of me to expect them to change.

So, I never told them I cancelled a race to be in the Bahamas this weekend. It was not important. This celebration WAS. I am so glad that I shared this milestone with my Dad. It was a weekend I will remember forever.

Like my husband's 25th college reunion, this was a once in a lifetime weekend. There will be other Miami International Triathlons...but only one 80th birthday.

Priorities...I am learning to determine what is important and what can be attempted later. I believe God is teaching me patience: one thing I have very little of!!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Scheduling Conflict...

Have you ever had weeks or even months where EVERYTHING that you wanted to do is all scheduling on the same week or weekend?? Your friend is having a party but you have to work! Your Boss wants to send you on a great seminar trip, but your brother's wedding is the same weekend.

2010 is the year of the scheduling conflict...

I was slated to do the Miami International Distance Triathlon in March. My mother decided to plan my father's 80th birthday on the same weekend. NEEDLESS to say, I am going to attend my father's birthday party-family comes first.

I am slated to do the St. Anthony's Triathlon in April (one of my FAVORITE RACES) and my 25th College Reunion is the same weekend in South Carolina (Yes..Im that old..ever run past me in a race, you know how old I am anyway!!!). I have figured out a way to go for part of the reunion and still get to St. Anthony's in time to rack my bike and make the race but will it be a relaxing race weekend?? I think not...

So as my husband and I were planning our upcoming 25th wedding anniversary trip and other traveling adventures (because that is our FAVORITE thing to do...we love to travel), we decided to look up my husband's 25th Class Reunion at The Citadel-The Military College of South Carolina.

Nov. 6th, 2010......He looked at me in horror. Oh no....that's....that's....

Yes honey, I said...That would be Ironman Florida.

I decided to head outside to the mailbox to grab our mail for the day where I received a note from one of my college friends. She and her husband have decided to renew their vows for their 25th wedding anniversary...on Nov. 7th, Charleston...the day AFTER Homecoming at the Citadel. This is the day I would need to be in Panama City to sign up for Ironman Florida 2011.

My heart skipped a beat. You are kidding me right???

It is in the life that we make choices. When I realized that The Citadel's Class Reunion was the same weekend as Ironman Florida 2010, the choice was easy...but painful. This is the place where I fell in love with my husband. For four years of my life, my world revolved around the hallowed grounds of this Southern Fortress that took boys and made them men. My husband was changed by this place and to NOT go and celebrate that time in our lives would be absolutely wrong.

There will be other races...there will only be ONE 25th class reunion.

When you work for months for a goal, sometimes its hard to shift gears, but this is what makes life so incredibly interesting. The question now is: what do I do?? One of the reasons I have been so successful in my consistent workout routine is that I have always had a goal race to work towards. The intermediate goal, at the moment, is the Gulf Coast Half Ironman in 65 days. I am focused on that but my ultimate goal was to lose 40 pounds by May 8th and consider doing Ironman Florida 2010. That is no longer an option.

There is Ironman Cozumel...but I hesitate to consider an international Ironman for my first race. I could use this year to just lose weight and focus on Half Ironmans and then go for the full Ironman in 2011. I could consider a non branded Ironman distance race...Honestly...I just don't know what to do.

What would YOU do??? Please...your imput is greatly appreciated!!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

It's a Beautiful Day-The Gasparilla Half Marathon

Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn't have it in the beginning.”
Mahatma Gandhi

It's the Thursday before a race weekend. Hector and I complete a moderately easy workout on the treadmill and I am gathering my things to leave. As I am about to walk out of his office, I ask him the same thing I do before every race:

What's the plan??

Hector looked at me and said "You're gonna do something you have never done in a race before. You're gonna run 1/1's for 13.1 miles."

HUH?? Ok...Im a pretty crummy runner but even I can do better than 1 minute running and 1 minute walking. That's how I started this journey 10 years ago and how I made it through my first half marathon. I questioned this logic.

Hector's theory was this: Your cadence in your run is going to be short FAST STRIDES. Your walk will be long strides. Neither one will elevate your heart rate to the point of utter fatigue.

Hmmm..One and one's.

I left the office feeling like such a failure. Is this REALLY what my running has come to. Am I this old and this slow that THIS is my only options. This is REALLY it???

I left Saturday afternoon for Tampa hoping for the best, wishing for the utmost success but expecting much longer times than I would ever want in a Half Marathon. We got to the expo right before they closed, did a little shopping and settled in to our hotel just 3 blocks from the start line and had dinner. We hit the hay early but a party in the bar of the hotel was rocking until 330am. We didn't get the best sleep and I awoke to a terrible attitude.

This is going to suck, I thought to myself. But my friend, Sandi, is always upbeat and was excited about the race. It was contagious. My friend, Rick, made me coffee (nice guy..don't you think) and as we made our way to the start, I was positive that today would be a good day.

As I made my way across the start line, I hit my watch and my GPS and I envision a P.R. Today is your day, Missey, I kept saying. It's a Beautiful Day!!

I turned on my Ipod if on cue...the song that began the run "It's a Beautiful Day" by U2 was filling my ears.

The start was crowded and the first mile included a small causeway. The runners were all reduced to a walk as we made our way up the small narrow bridge but the timing fell perfectly. The miles rolled on and I felt amazingly strong as my 1/1's seemed effortless. The air was cool and the sun rose with a gleaming shade of red and yellow.

Mile 9 came and I braced for what is usually the pain in my legs and a general fatigue. There was none. Mile 10 arrived and still no fatigue. It wasn't until 11 that I started to feel some fatigue but I chalked that up to the mental game. Its almost done, I told my body, lets keep moving.

In the first half of the race, I was shocked that I was on pace for a P.R. but the middle portion of the race seemed slower but steady. My last three miles were much quicker and I crossed the line, smiled for the camera, and looked at my GPS.

7 minutes faster than the MIami Half Marathon
3 minutes faster than the Space Coast Half Marathon
9 minutes off my P.R. of the Philadelphia Distance Run 3 years ago.

I was stunned. Could this really be??? My second fastest Half Marathon time ever....and I did it on 1/1's.

I was elated. I grabbed my phone before I even grabbed my medal and texted Hector my time. He was almost as excited as I was...

Finally...some Progress. Sometimes you just have to trust your coach.

I started walking back to the hotel and noticed my knees were a little sore but not to the point of agony. This felt NOTHING like Miami where I could hardly walk a block. This was good fatigue. This I could work with.

We grabbed a shower and returned home. My husband was waiting for me with open arms. He came home just as I had to leave for Tampa so all we got to do was give each other a hug and kiss as I headed out. It was nice to have him here to celebrate.

Im still very slow..and today my left knee is very stiff and sore but...its progress...sweet satisfying progress. I sat on my porch last night, staring at the moon and cried with relief. What a Beautiful Day indeed....