Wednesday, December 12, 2012

No Excuses!

I think I've had a breakthrough this week. I realized that it doesn't matter how many "good" excuses I have, they are still excuses. There will always be something that hurts, there will always be a day I am sad, there will always be a schedule that is hectic. Those things are pretty much guaranteed. What is not guaranteed is how I will respond to those things. It's so easy to justify missing a workout. I know that there will be times that I will make a conscious choice to miss training. I am a strong believer in mental health days, in preventing further injury, and in making choices that help to "keep the balance". I am, however, going to think long and hard about those choices and whether they are truly valid or just convenient.

This week I had a malady of psychosomatic issues. A migraine almost kept me from my first 10k of this training season, but luckily I managed to recover enough to complete it. I've been dealing with plantar fasciitis in both feet and it keeps me from wanting to run, but I've managed to follow the directions of my therapist and still continue my training. I've had a bout of holiday blues that kept me from a training session this week, but after I identified my problem I was able to pull it together to finish my training later in the day... and in doing so I was able to focus enough to nail my workout. I'm on a learning curve, but I am learning.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Think Confident. Be Confident.

*Display of Extreme Vulnerability. Proceed with Caution.*

I have got to stop beating myself up, minimizing my efforts and outcomes, and comparing myself to others or to my perceived view of what I think I should be able to do.

I hate numbers, times, paces, units of measurement, and tests...because in my mind I never make the grade. If I walk when I'm supposed to run... I fail. If I'm slower than I "think" I should be... I fail. If my times don't improve each time I test or train... I fail. I don't feel like I deserve to give myself credit for anything I do as my mind tells me it is always a mediocre performance. I down-play even the rare success I allow myself so I won't appear a braggart or egotistical, because being an imposter is almost as bad as being a failure. I get so confused by the numbers that measure my "worth" that unless I receive external affirmation that I "did well" I immediately tell myself that I failed with whatever I think the goal of my workout was. If I feel I've disappointed others around me by being too slow, having to stop to walk, not keeping up with the group, not getting faster, then I become disappointed with my performance. If I don't please someone and get positive feedback then whatever I've done must not be worth noticing, and if I do get positive feedback I either don't believe it or I minimize it. If I do pay attention long enough to accept the complement and let it "feel" good I shut it down in my mind once I start to experience the sensation of pleasure and external validation.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Different Perspective

This weekend I volunteered as swim support for River Roux, a 70.3 triathlon in New Roades. I have to admit, the irony did not pass me by. To think that I was now an official safety person in open water was kinda hysterical to me...considering my history with open water anxiety and not knowing how to swim.  Things have changed in the past four years. I have to admit I truly enjoyed being on the water in a kayak and watching the swim portion of the race unfold close up. I had a whole new perspective on what I must have, and what I currently must look like swimming. I was able to observe what a strong swimmer looks like, and what a weak swimmer looks like. I saw some people swimming, but literally not moving... or moving backwards due to an inefficient kick. I saw breast-strokers and bobbers. I saw the fast swimmers move effortlessly with a strong stroke and kick. I saw the weaker swimmers fight the water and struggle to progress forward. I watched what happens when you don't sight ~  the waste of valuable time and energy trying to get back on course over and over again.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Turning Blubber to Iron...Step One: Get Fit

I have signed on the dotted line. I am now an official registrant for Ironman Florida 2013! 

I'll admit, I waivered a bit this weekend after watching the efforts of 2700 athletes battle their way to the finish line of this year's event. The final questions of "why do I want to do this?" and "can I really do this?" went through my mind once more as I saw the faces of many athletes as I volunteered in the T2 women's changing tent and later as I cheered along the run course. But in the end, the positives outweighed the negatives, and the smiles in the finish chute washed away the agonized expressions from my memory, and motivated me that yes I can do this and yes I want to do this!. Seeing people's hard training finally come to fruition seemed to lessen the negative observations and make it all seem worthwhile. 

And so it shall be. November 2, 2013 I shall be a different person ~ mentally, physically, and spiritually. And the process starts today.

Rinny and The Coug
Watching the race process from start to finish, observing my friends preparations and performance, and studying how the athletes made their way along the route - how they transitioned - how they dressed - how they raced - were all a huge part of my race weekend. There were a few highlights however that made it extra special. These included meeting Miranda Carfrae (even though I acted like a complete idiot), watching my friends cross the finish line (some for the first time), and my volunteer experience in the changing tent.

I made many mental notes along the way and learned ways to perform faster and more efficiently:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Understanding Intention

Although my "training" doesn't officially begin until November 1, 2012 I am starting to have my initial baseline testing creep onto my schedule. I participated in the Holiday Hustle 5K this weekend for my first run test in a long, long time. Considering my heart rate was through the roof, I was pleased I kept a decent pace and didn't throw up on anyone at the finish. I think I am going to start a side column with my testing stats just for my own jollies as I progress through training - hopefully to reinforce the progress I will make!

I am finding my behaviors this week interesting - I am in a "nesting" mood. I have been attacking the house with a vengeance, power washing the outside and deep cleaning the inside as if to prepare it to stand alone for the next year when none of those things will get done. I also think I am trying to earn bonus points with my husband with hopes that my efforts will numb the reality of what is about to come.

I'm getting excited to take on this challenge and to live this journey to the fullest. In two weeks I will go to Florida to volunteer at the race, cheer on my friends who are participating in 2012, and take the plunge and register myself for IMFL 2013 the following morning.

I've been thinking a lot about the "principle of intention". Intention is the framework for the creation of reality. Before you can have a plan, you've got to have an intention, the thought of what you want to see happen or where you want to go, or what your ultimate goal is. It is important to have a clear understanding of your intention and what motivates it. The moment you create thought, you create potential action. By sharing that thought out loud, you are enlisting support and the aid of others, whether you mean to or not, by simply sharing it. When you write your intention down, you have the opportunity to clarify your thoughts. I didn't realize it at first, but the past few months have been a time for me to gather my thoughts, clarify my intention, and determine the motivation and reason for my intention. Once that process was finished I was ready to declare my intention, and sit with my Coach to make my plan. My decision to put it in writing via this blog was my way of putting my intention out into the universe and start the domino effect of energy that will ultimately turn it into a reality.

"Whether or not you realize it, your intentions set up an energy field around themselves. You strenghten that field by what you think and what you envision. You strengthen it by what you write and what you say and by enrolling people through collaborative processes. The more explicit you make your intentions and the more time and energy you give to implementing them, the more you realize the likelihood of seeing your intentions actually manifest in reality. Intention is not only a principle: it is a power, a force. When your intentions are aligned with the higher aspects of yourself, you set the conditions for the Universe to support you in bringing your intentions into physical reality."

I plan to embrace this journey and see it through to a successful completion. I am going to put a lot of my mental energy into creating a positive experience that builds confidence and self-esteem along the way to becoming an Ironman. That is my intention.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A New Journey Begins....

It is funny to me how this blog started off in 2009 as a journal of the training and experiences that would lead me to my first 70.3 distance triathlon, and four years later it is about to change to a journal of the training and experiences that will lead me to my first, and likely only, full Ironman distance race.

I have questioned whether to journal this journey or leave it to play out in the memories of my aging mind, but I decided that as it likely will be a life changing experience however it turns out, it is worthwhile to record it as already my memory is foggy at best. Who knows? Maybe this will develop into the best-selling book I have always wanted to write. Or maybe it will just be another piece to the puzzle in discovering just who I am and what makes me tick. Or maybe it will just end up a training diary that someday my children may enjoy reading. However it turns out my experiences and feelings, fears, and weaknesses are going to be out there exposed to the public for better or for worse. This has been one of my biggest deliberations. To blog or not to blog.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Le Tour De Canada....Partie Quatre...Le Chapitre Final

See? Even my French is getting better! I failed to mention two other momentous moments of the previous days in my Canadian Journey...

1) Solange, Anne's maman, was instructed to speak to me only in french while I was there because I requested the total immersion tour of Canada. That lasted just through the beginning of lunch on day one... and then abruptly ended because all I could say in response was "oui, oui" and then drink heavily. Conversation was limited. I will practice more for our next meeting.

2) Big John gave me a motorcycle ride through the hills of Muskoka on Saturday. This was actually one of the highlights of my trip (although I think he thought I was kidding when I told him that). There is nothing more freeing than riding a motorcycle with a big good-looking burly guy through a foreign country. Ok, that sounds weird, but owning a motorcycle was always on my bucket list until I had kids, then I gave it up. This was my replacement. Thanks Big John. Thanks FreeBird for loaning him to me.

Ok, so on to Sunday ~ race morning. I hate to say that I am such an experienced triathlete now that there is not much more I can write about my pre-race ritual than has been written in the past, but it is true. But there were a few differences this time. I actually got a good night's sleep the night before the race, likely due to my emotions of the day wearing me out. In addition, I had been trying not to snore all week long so I wouldn't disturb my roommate. Finally my body gave in to exhaustion. Sorry Crowe. Apparently my return to snoring interferred with her sleep that night.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Le Tour De Canada - Part Trois - Have You Ever Seen The Rain?


I have a problem sometimes with being overly open about my personal feelings, and I am not afraid to be honest about things that probably should be kept private. In blogging about my trip, initially I thought I would omit many of my personal experiences and focus only on my race report, keeping the writing light and funny. It may be the wrong decision, but initially this blog was created as a personal journal that I opened up for the world to see. In keeping with that, I have decided to acknowledge some of the more personal moments of this trip in order for me to one day reflect on my journey.  Having said that, if you prefer light and funny, you may want to skip ahead to the next posting!

Friday morning we awoke to another breakfast feast, this time consisting of green eggs and ham, and of course more bacon. We all took our time getting up, but once awake we organized ourselves for our pre-race ride. I scrambled to find water bottles and re-attach the bags that belonged on my bike that had been removed for travel. Once everyone's bikes were ready, we headed out to Deerhurst Resort for a short 12 mile ride.

I'll admit it. I was a bit anxious. I hadn't been on my bike in weeks, and the last time I rode it my ride was cut short from a planned 56 miles to about 30 miles...and that was the longest I had ridden since Gulf Coast Triathlon back in May. My neck issues had never resolved and I just didn't have the drive to push hard through the pain anymore. I had plenty of new excuses too ~ I was adjusting to a new diagnosis of insulin resistance and the combination of drastic dietary changes and medication just made me want to sleep all the time. And let's be real - needless to say - I was badly out of shape.

Even with the obstacle of a tough bike leg looming ahead in Sunday's race, I felt optimistic. I had decided to give it a go and was convinced that I had enough inner toughness to push through. I was better in tune with my body, and realized that it was my mind that limited me most of the time, not my body. In addition, I had recently received some external motivation in the form of a betting pool that challenged me to beat the odds. I always respond better to external motivation than internal, and when people bet money it motivates me to try just a little harder.

Le Tour De Canada - Part Deux - Living Large

We awoke early Thursday morning to the smell of bacon. It didn't take long for all of us to crawl out of bed and track the smell to the table where we were served fried eggs, bacon, fruit, and juice by Coach. We inhaled the breakfast and went back for seconds. Soon after breakfast, Maman and Papa showed up with multiple cups of Tim Horton's coffee to jump start everyone with caffeine. We re-packed our bags, cleaned up, and helped Coach re-load our bikes onto the back of her vehicle.

Today was going to be a big day for me - unbeknownst to most (including my family), I booked a sky-diving trip in Toronto before I left Louisiana. I was excited and eager to experience the rush. I didn't want anyone to worry so I left it on a need-to-know basis. It's always easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.

Coach wanted to get to the cottage in Muskoka early to prepare for our afternoon arrival, so she agreed to drop me off at Sky-Dive Toronto on the way. Once I settled in to watch my "Don't Even Think About Sueing Us If You Die" video, she excused herself and left me to check off my Bucket List item alone. I sent the necessary "I Love You" text to my husband in case I crashed into the ground with my face, and then took the obligatory thumb's up picture of myself to leave time-stamped on my iPhone to prove I was not coerced by anyone.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Le Tour De Canada - Part One

It's been an interesting summer. Training took a bad hit after the Gulf Coast 70.3 as I tried to fix my neck issues, re-introduce myself to my children and husband, open a new business, continue to grieve the loss of my father, and on and on and on. My impending trip to Canada loomed ahead and panicked me as the closer it came the less I seemed to be doing to prepare for it. I struggled with the idea of pulling out of the trip all-together, or going with the sole intent to vacation and not race, or just winging it and seeing what happened. I decided on the latter. The trip was mostly paid for and if nothing else I would enjoy the scenery and the company.

Crowe, Jay, Thunderbird
I've always wanted to travel internationally but have never had many opportunities, so I was excited to make the most of it and enjoy the experience of something new. The Fabulous Four (Jay, Crowe, Thunderbird, and myself) set out on Tuesday morning from the New Orleans airport and embarked on a long day of flight delays, layovers, and laughs until we finally made our arrival in Buffalo, NY where we picked up a rental GMC Acadia. It was the first lucky turn of events as Jay got a free upgrade on the reserved van and turned it into a sweet and loaded SUV.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

2012 Gulf Coast 70.3 Race Report: The Perfect Storm

I wasn't sure if I was going to write a race report after this 70.3, for one main reason... it's the first time I Did Not Finish (DNF). But I am so proud of myself for what I Did Finish that I decided to journal it. You see for me there were so many variables leading up to this race, I really didn't know what to expect. I wanted this race to be special. I had trained over the past five months during the most emotional time of my life. My training wasn't good, but it was the best I could do with what I had to give it. I had hoped that it would be enough to get me through, but I knew it might not be pretty. I wanted to complete it for me, to represent that I had persevered over the past year and was still able to maintain a hobby that has come to mean so much to me.

I made a choice to pull out after the bike leg. No excuses, I just had to make a decision and I did. I didn't get my medal or the glory of finishing with my friends, but I am more proud of my performance in this race than in others for one main reason: I did persevere.

If you have been a reader of my blog, it is no secret that I have not had a good history over the past few years with swimming. I spent the past two years just trying to learn how to not panic, and gradually I was able to increase my distance and endurance. Last year I accomplished a huge goal of completing a 70.3 "officially" and I felt I conquered the swim portion. Or so I thought. Until I was faced with the swim portion of this race.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Running On Empty

COOg taking a leg from Polly in Rouge Orleans
I am trying to re-engage with my inner runner. You know, the one that was supposed to be there naturally from birth? Somewhere between last Spring and Now my love for running got lost in the deep woods of life and has been having difficulty finding it's way back towards the light of day.

Never having considered myself a runner, there was a time not too long ago when I truly enjoyed getting out for a long run to clear my mind. Once I had trained my body past the wheezing and leg aches of the first few miles I learned to find the zen and to anticipate the endorphins that always came along farther down the road. I went from heavy pounding elephant steps to light gazelle footwork  (at least in my mind) and I could run a moderate pace, keep a conversation with a friend, and maintain a heart rate that didn't warrant a trip to the ER. And then life reared its ugly head and detoured me for a bit and my run bit the dust. I'm trying to get it back.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Mighty Transformation

There is a genuine talent, a form of art-science, that very few people have mastered. It takes precision, patience, and an eye for detail. It takes an understanding of angles, physics, and aerodynamics ~ as well as an understanding of the goals and needs of an individual cyclist. To do this well one must be a problem solver and have a good understanding of anatomy and kinesiology. So what am I writing about? I am writing about the art of a professional bike fitting.

I have had my road bike for about three years. I obtained it new, but purchased it from a store that specialized in mountain bikes. At the time I didn't think that mattered. Looking back, I wish I had done more research. I love my bike, but what I haven't loved is the way it has fit me for the past three years. Upon purchase I was given a "fitting", but really what that entailed was a 5-10 minute seat and handle bar adjustment and a quick session on how to change the gears. I didn't know better, and I really didn't know what I wanted when I bought my first bike. My only desire was to have a pretty bike to ride that I wouldn't want to replace in six months. I decided upon a full carbon bike mostly because it sounded cool and I felt that if I spent good money on a frame I could always upgrade the components later on. I chose a road bike because I didn't know at the time how much I would love triathlon, and I thought it would be more versatile. I'm not sure what I would do if I could do it over, or if I was asked to give a newbie advice on purchasing a bike. No one starting out has any idea how addictive the sport is... or how expensive it is. Looking back, I think it was still a good idea to get a road bike (even though my next bike will definitely be a tri bike). I didn't go wrong in the bike I chose. Where I went wrong was never having it professionally fit to me.

Since the early days of riding I have been plagued with shoulder pain, neck pain, one-sided crotch pain, and the occasional back issue. Initially I passed it off as the normal aches and pains of getting used to riding, being out of shape, and poor technique. I'm not saying that all of that didn't contribute to my problem, but I knew that my bike just didn't feel right under me. Short on cash and with so many "things" I felt I needed to purchase just to function in the sport, I didn't feel I was ready to spend the money on something that to me at the time seemed like having a pair of slacks altered. One of those chances to spend money on something that was more frivolous than necessary. So instead I improvised. I added my own aerobars and I replaced my saddle. I made some adjustments to my seat height. I called upon friends and mentors to give me recommendations, and through all of this I did manage to get some improvement in my comfort.

This season I have taken a new approach to training. It's my third year doing triathlons. I'm still relatively new, but experienced enough to start using my brain. I'm trying to be smarter about things. I'm trying to listen to my body. After I injured my shoulder a few months ago (in a completely non-sports-related activity) I am more aware of my body position and technique in all three disciplines. When I feel my shoulder twinge, I think hard about what I'm doing and how I'm doing it. I have plans for some long races over the next two years and I really want to avoid injury. This past week after having just gotten a cortisone shot in my shoulder and starting to feel better, I found that again I irritated my shoulder with a light two hour ride. I decided it was time to do something about it. I got some recommendations from my coach and teammates and picked up the phone to call Mark Miller (337.981.7686) at Precision Bikes in Lafayette, LA for a fitting.

In about an hour he was able to assess my position, modify my bike, correct the cleats on my shoes, and make me not only more comfortable but more aerodynamic. I immediately felt an improvement in my position and less stress on my shoulder, neck, and back. I am still waiting to try out my bike on a long ride, but if my initial reaction is accurate, I think I am on the way to riding with much less discomfort. I also feel like my new position will maximize my efficiency on the bike and make me faster.


This picture was taken before the fitting began. Notice how far forward I am on the bike, how my shoulders almost touch my ears, my neck is missing, and all my weight is being pushed back into my shoulder joints from my elbows. I'm upright with a big curve in my back, and my legs are in a poor position to give me much power. What did this position do for me? It gave me awful cramping spasms in my right shoulder and neck and throughout my shoulder blades. After long rides my low back would be miserable and my nether-regions would be chaffed on one side.

Now look at my position post-fitting. My elbows are almost at 90 degrees to my shoulders. I actually have a neck now and my shoulders aren't going up to my ears. The angle of my back is flatter and lower. My knee is in a position to give me power unlike in the first picture. So what adjustments did Mark have to make to do this? Well for one, he replaced my seat post with one that brought me more forward (now I will be selling my full carbon 31.5 diameter post if anyone is interested). He also made adjustments to the front bars and added a few components to adjust their height and position. A few minor changes to my cleats, aerobars, and forearm pads and his work was done. For now. I will return in about 200 miles to see if we can make me a little lower to make me more aerodynamic.

I am so eager to get out and ride to feel the difference. I know I will have new aches and pains for a while as I adjust to this new position, but I think it will be a positive change. Just looking at the before and after pictures I feel like strain will be reduced on my body and I will be a more effective cyclist.

Why am I posting all of this? Well, I have been training with many of you for the past three years, and most of us started from the same place. I figure if this makes a big difference for me, then the rest of you may want to consider it at some point too.

See you at the split. But watch out. I just may be passing you soon.