Monday, October 28, 2013

Perspective....

Well...here we are...race week.  It's been a year since I stood on the beach in Panama City and dreamed of being an Ironman instead of a spectator.....I cried at the start...cheered like crazy during...and cried at the finish as the clock hit 17 hours.  Today, I packed my bags with all I will need for the race....and stood back and looked at my workout room.

This has been quite a journey.

As I looked around my workout room, I looked at the poster that started it all:  The Danskin Triathlon in 2000.  I looked at the picture of me crossing the finish line...and it was in the moment I was hooked on endurance sports.  Lots of 5k's, 10k's, sprint triathlons, olympic distance triathlons,  half marathons,  marathons, and 6 half ironmans later...I'm here...about to grab that goal I have wanted so much.

But I called this entry "Perspective" because today I learned of two friends battling for their lives.  One is now headed to hospice care...another with the diagnosis of advanced prostate cancer....one is only 17 ... the other an older father with grandchildren.  Two totally different scenarios but each with the same lesson:

Never take life for granted...

As much as Ironman is my life goal, I have to also focus on how far I have come in this journey and how blessed I am to be healthy and strong.  Coach Sway would often tell us that it's a gift to be able to DO THIS...and it never hit home harder than it did today.  It IS a gift...it is a blessing....I never want to take those gifts for granted.  I know what it's like to be in a hospital bed, unable to dress yourself with tubes and wires coming out of so many places...yet here we are...on the edge of a dream.

You better believe that as I go through each moment of Saturday's events, that so many people will be on my mind and in my heart.  The kids at Edgewood Children's Ranch, the children at Nemours fighting childhood cancers (we would ride past that hospital on workouts on many weekends)  For the children with parents in hospice care or those with Alzheimer's who don't even know their families.

And when I hit that finish line, you better believe that the one thank you that will go up will be to our Almighty Father...who let me still be here...who gave me a second chance...another life...a "rebirth day" on Dec 1, 1998...the day of my gastric bypass when my life changed forever...

Just 5 days until Ironman Florida

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The things I learned from my brother...


So it's early morning on Friday and I get this text from my middle brother David....

"Are you in town...would you like to watch me in a boxing match tonight."

For a moment, I thought this was a joke...but I knew that David had taken up boxing as a form of fitness...so...as a smile crossed my face, I accepted the invitation.

Heck...it's only fair...I was his original punching bag as kids...being the youngest and the only girl. But that's a totally different story (just kidding bro :)

Most of my Friday nights in the last few months have been pretty boring.  I eat early, I watch a little hockey and off to bed early so I can get up at 4am and get on my bike for a very long day in the saddle.  The thought of a Friday night out sounded great...and different...and fun....and it was!!

There were 4 matches with my brother's being the last and "main event" of the evening.  As I watched each set of boxers take the ring, I was intrigued...and then I was amazed...and then I was nervous.

My brother could really get hurt doing this...

After an intermission before his bout, he was finally introduced and with a huge group of his friends and family, we cheered him on.  He took the ring...the bell sounded...and the fight began.

His form looked great.  He looked strong and tough considering we aren't kids anymore.  A few good punches to his opponent and then...bam...his opponent landed a monster that sent my brother reeling.

I held my breath.

The referee gave him a standing 8 count and I thought for a moment, that this main event was not going to go well.  David collected himself and was strong through the rest of the first round.  At the break, he
got some great advice from his coach and a friend who use to box....and he came out swinging.  He connected...and connected and connected again until his opponent was on the ropes and got his own standing 8 count.  By the time the 3rd round came around, his opponent threw in the towel...and David walked away the winner.

No one would ever dream that Boxing and Triathlon have anything in common, but I learned so much from watching my brother attack this challenge.....so much that I can apply to this huge life goal of mine in a matter of days.

He entered the ring...was on the ropes and was even knocked for a loop but he never gave up and he ended up victorious.  I can see me at the low moments of my Ironman looking back at this sliver of time and feeding off that courage and being reminded that you can come back from a down moment if you don't let it consume you mentally.  You can gather up all your strength and hit it hard...and keep hitting it until your goal is achieved.  Boxing is nothing like Ironman ... but the guts to simply get in the ring or just get to the start line is the same....

My starting bell rings in 7 days....

Congrats to David Yergey...you inspire me.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

They worry like parents do...Meet Art and Louise


These are two people from an amazing generation.  To have seen what they have seen and lived what they have lived is an adventure too large and too vast to include in one blog entry.  They have lived through a war and been stationed in Germany, survived my father's law school experience, watched Disney being built and dedicated their lives to bettering this community and helping kids in need.

Oh yeah...and they raised 3 crazy children :) (No offense to my brothers Palmer and David...but you know we are a little crazy)

They come from a generation that never did such things as triathlon so when the suggestion was made that I would attempt an Ironman, they were not to thrilled with the idea.  When I didn't complete the first two times...they worried...just like parents do.  

And with all the "Missey, you don't need to do that" to now being supportive of this crazy idea of mine, they have continued to be the incredible role models I have looked up to and wish to emulate in most of the areas of my life.  There have been times that I  wanted to pull my hair out because my parents just didn't want to get onboard with this idea...but now I understand...

They worry.....A LOT!

As I made my way around the course at Ironman Augusta, my friends kept my parents informed of my progress...even leaving church to answer the phone for an update.  As much as they didn't like the idea of me doing this before, they have been great cheerleaders in recent weeks as the watched the transformation in me.  

Mom loves the idea that I can wear smaller clothes :)  Trust me...there is no better authority on clothes than my mom...:)

So I would be remiss and not taking a moment and thanking my parents for raising me....loving me.. showing me what true strength and leadership is.. .and being the best parents they could be from the greatest generation this nation has ever seen.

And please...stop worrying...Im gonna be ok....

8 Days to Ironman

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"Your Blog is "Wierd"..."

First and foremost...please allow me to explain...I know how to spell weird ... my 5th grade teacher Mrs. Holtzclaw would be so proud.  (BTW She's one of my facebook friends...is that cool or what?)

The reason it is misspelled is because this was the message I was sent on Facebook from an old acquaintance . Her comments continued with "Why in the WORLD would anyone want to go that far on a bike or run a marathon with all that.....STUFF?? Especially if they have a weight problem.

Hmmm??? Well....let's see... I had to take a moment to collect myself.  How do I respond to this? I could call her several words that would require a fine from my Coach and my mouth being washed out by my mother....or...

I could take this route...and be honest...

Why do I want to do an Ironman.  Im not your typical athlete...Im not a young puppy who is fast on the bike or run a 7:00 minute mile.  Im not a former AAU swimmer or super fast in the water....

But one thing I DO want to do....is give that girl sitting on the couch hope.

You know the one...she's depressed about how she looks.  She hates herself and thinks that one more bag of chips is going to make it all better.  She believe that black is slimming and that if she buys the clothes one size larger she can hide in them.  She wears her hair long because it she curls it and makes it big, it makes her look smaller.  She's the one that has the big personality...the great sense of humor...and can't stand to look at herself in the mirror. She's the one that can count the number of dates she had in high school on one hand but had a lot of friends who were boys.  She's been told she'll never acheive anything unless she gets "skinny".

That's crap.

I'm gonna do this for her because...that girl is me.  She's still here even though I have moved forward with most of my life and think differently now.  My race isn't about qualifying for Kona or making the podium (but damn...for those that can do that...I applaud you with all the strength I have)...it's about the push...the effort...the work...the sweat and the heartache.  It's about all the people that told me this would never happen. It's for that moment in the emergency room when my husband saved my life by getting me there just in time before my heart stopped. It's for the doctors that gave me a second chance .. Dr. Samuels and Dr. Ache...they gave me the tools to get my weight under control and to become the person I am today.

So...to my acquaintance who thinks my blog is Wierd... I have never been normal...don't want to be...and never will be because...I'm me...and I'm gonna be an Ironman.

Any more questions???

9 days until Ironman

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The final long workout weekend...

Ive been praying for this moment for months.  That moment when I got in my car and realized that the 7 hour bike rides, the swims across an entire lake and back and the run workouts that required multiple bottles of nutrition, energy gels and water were done.

And here we are.

It feels strange knowing that there is little more I can do now to prepare for this life goal that has eluded me for years.  All I can do now is do the shorter workouts, eat healthy, stay healthy, rest and sleep.

This phase of training is known as Taper.  It is when you let the body rest and recover for the big day ahead.  It is also known as "Taper Madness" because after months of trying to fit your workouts in around your life, you suddenly have all this free time.  For me, it will be a challenge not to try to fill that extra time with too much...and stay focused on the weeks ahead.  It means adjusting my eating...and not going overboard with food...because...for me....the more time on my hands, the more likely I am to stuff my face.

My bike workout on Saturday was solid but not record breaking.  We had an impromptu tire changing clinic at mile 55 of my bike workout and I realized that changing the back tire of my bike will take some serious brut strength.  My wheels are smaller than average and new tires on those wheels make removing the rubber a challenge.  I plan on practicing this a bit more over the next couple of days.

I was the last to finish the long swim on Sunday but I swam the best time I have all year.  I had to turn off those nasty voices in my head telling me "You're last AGAIN"...and focus on MY RACE and not be racing others around me.  Im racing the clock...and only the clock.  This Cinderella really NEEDS to find that finish line before midnight.

You can drive yourself crazy analyzing data...and trying to predict your finish time.  You can make yourself nuts looking at extended weather forecasts that call for wind gusts of 25 mph and cooler than Im use to temperatures.  One of the best pieces of advice I have gotten from several Ironman triathletes is "Stop worrying about the things you can't control".  You are presented with a day...and a set of conditions...and to quote Tim Gunn from Project Runway you gotta "Make it work people!!!"

Whether I cross that finish line before midnight or get beyond where I missed the bike cut off a few years ago, I have won either way.  The changes in me and my life  in this year are huge.  I wish I had the words to fully describe the person I have found in me in the last few months....sometimes there were moments that I couldn't believe that this was ME doing some of these things and achieving certain milestones.  There were times when I was presented with a difficult situation and I handled it with more grace than usual...including not stuffing my face.  I believe I am a stronger and  a better person because of this journey so whether they hang a medal around my neck...or take my timing chip at mile 19 and call it a day, I am so much better for this journey...with so many new friends, new skills, fond fun memories and more belief in me....

We're not racing for money people.....so we better be having fun!!!

12 days until Ironman




Monday, October 21, 2013

Oh Lord...Give me Strength...Meet Ben Graves


When I started this Ironman Journey more than a year ago, I knew that I would need help in the area of strength training.  I have a lot of fitness certifications, but even the pros will tell you, it's really hard to coach yourself.

I researched many options...the Y is a great environment, but none of their trainers hit the mark with me.  There are MANY options in my neighborhood of College Park for personal training but nothing seemed to be the right fit for what I was looking for.

An then, a new gym was opening up literally down the street from my house.  It was different.  Personal Training tailored to your goals and abilities...and I met Ben Graves.

Ben is like your local bartender...but what he serves up is a little stronger than you standard scotch.  We agreed on meeting two days a week to build up my strength, gain some muscle mass, work on core strength..and ... of course...help me lose weight.  He has listened to me whine, helped me through tough moments when I really didn't think I could complete one more sit up, one more rep on the leg press or one more minute on the rower (NOT my favorite piece of exercise equipment).  He has been flexible with my schedule and even served as a "water stop" on my long run workouts in College Park.  Ben is a constant professional....and aside from the evil kettle bell swings and walking lunges, he's a pretty nice guy.

The swimming, biking and running workouts are the heart of triathlon, but without the muscle to make it happen, approaching an Ironman is even more difficult.  I am very blessed to have found such an outstanding personal trainer with a gym environment that is challenging but not intimidating.  Without Ben's guidance, I would not be where I am today.

So thanks Ben and to all the great people at My House Fitness in College Park.  You guys have made such a difference in my Ironman Journey and are a huge part of my success in the completion of Ironman Augusta 70.3 and my future 2013 success at Ironman Florida.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Hard Part

It's not what you think...

Actually...it IS what you think...

On Saturday, I faced my biggest workout of the entire year.  A Triple Brick...consisting of 3-36 mile bike segments and 3- 1 hour run/walk segments.  A difficult day indeed...physically and emotionally.

I went into this workout tired and a little burned out.  Let's be honest...THIS has been a long triathlon season for me starting back in January.  I'm kinda tired of the weekend routine.  While the world is saying...."It's almost the weekend...YEAH!!!".... I'm saying "It's almost the weekend....YIKES!!"

I know...I know...would I like a little CHEESE with my whining???

The great workouts show you what you've got...and the bad ones show you who you are.  Sometimes, you don't like what you see in that mirror.  On Saturday, I wasn't too thrilled with the view I got after 72 miles on the bike.

I have a slight injury on my left foot...a cut or break in the skin that just won't heal.  It started to bleed..and I found the PERFECT reason not to continue.  By the second round of cycling and run/walking (ok more walking), my foot was just swollen enough to make my bike shoe very uncomfortable...

So why not just call it a day...

Not in Coach Trung and Coach Sway's world.

I am very blessed with great coaches that just don't take no for an answer.  I cried.  In front of everyone...I complained...I whined...but Trung gently pushed me along.  I got back on the bike and did 20 more miles.

I came back to the start.  I figured that 92 was a good place to stop.  Coach Sway didn't agree.

"You're gonna thank me on race day...now go out 8 miles and come back...16 total...that will complete your workout."

More tears...Why at this moment did 16 miles sound like 1600?  Why am I happy this happened?? Because it shows me what needs attention.  It's like tinkering with an old car and finding the ONE thing that is making it rattle...stopping it...and then it runs like a top.

I did those 16 miles.  I came in to hugs from Coach Sway and from some of my teammates who were not nearly as shocked by my tears as I was. I cried all the way home and even as I write this, I am emotional at the breakdown in my mental game as it relates to the mileage in this race.

If people ever tell you that Ironman or Endurance racing in general is all about the physical side, they have not dealt with the demons that give you every VALID reason not to continue.  Don't get me wrong, there are moments that physically, it is only smart to call it a day...but when you are pushing beyond your comfort zones, you sometimes have to tell those voices in your head to KNOCK IT OFF and just go forward.

I know it is now my race to finish or not.  There is no more endurance work I can do that will change my physical ability at this point.  As my friend, Rajesh told me, it's 80% mental ... 20% physical.  He might know a thing or two about running these races with physical limitations...check out

 http://www.ironman.com/triathlon-news/articles/2010/10/ironmanlife-rajesh-durbal.aspx#axzz2hhTDV18c

No more whining....plus the wine and the cheese arn't on my eating plan :)

19 days until Ironman

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My rock..my support...and the love of my life....Meet Steve Daly


I promise you...it will never be boring..!!
-Steve Daly...on the altar...after our vows 
on our wedding day...

After almost 28 years of marriage, I can tell you...he was right...but I can assure...I don't think he ever dreamed his wife would have the desire to be an Ironman.

If you think for a moment being the spouse of an Ironman triathlete is easy...you are indeed mistaken.  It's tough.  You wake up most mornings to an empty bed...because your spouse is probably at an early morning workout.  Traveling on the weekends, vacations and even birthday celebrations are postponed to make way for the Ironman "big event"... all the while asking your spouse to be patient with you as you go through this process.

I have asked my husband to go through this process three times.

And each and every time, he has been wonderful.  Don't get me wrong, we have had our moments of utter frustration where he said ENOUGH ALREADY...but we talked....we worked through it..and we survived it.

I wouldn't be where I am today without this amazing man who has been patient, supportive and downright funny at the moments I needed it most.

When I missed the bike cut off at my last Ironman, Steve met me in transition.  The ref was taking my chip and explaining that I would not be allowed to continue.  I shook the ref's hand..I was cordial.  He was doing his job.  How in the world could I be angry at a man who was just following the rules of the event? My husband appeared and said the one thing he could to make me laugh..

"Hey honey....you PR'ed"!!  (PR= Personal Record)

He was right in a way.  It was the farthest I had ever gone nonstop under my own power.  It WAS an accomplishment...but definitely didn't have the ending I was hoping for.  He was my shoulder to cry on, my pilot who brought me home and took care of me when I was so tired I could hardly walk and my biggest cheerleader when I decided to try this again.

To this day, he still encourages me...each and every day listening to what hurts, what workout I have and why I can't go somewhere with him over the weekend.  He has been so amazing, I find it difficult to put into words how very blessed I am to have a husband like this.  

So if you see Captain Daly cheering at Ironman Florida (and believe me..you will see him)...pat him on the back...he deserves it.  

I love you my Captain....words fail me.

Friday, October 4, 2013

It takes a Team...Meet the amazing people who "Sway"




Yeah I know...it's a small pictures...but then again...I'm blessed with a lot of people who are as crazy as me who like to "Sway".

What is this "swaying" you ask?? Well...it all began when two athletes were doing a swim workout and one asked the other if he "Swayed"...and the Tri with Sway Triathlon Team suddenly had a slogan....and a good one indeed.

I would be remiss in these weeks prior to Ironman to not thank each and every one of the people in this photo above (and some who aren't pictured) for their support and teamwork through this Ironman Journey. This is truly a team full of good feelings and kind support.  Don't get me wrong...we all have our moments when the f-bombs fly (my mother would wash our my mouth if she knew my language at times), tears will flow from sheer frustration and fatigue and absolute fear will grip an entire group (like the moment you see a teammate hit the pavement on her bike).  If we didn't experience the bad times, the moments of success and accomplishment would not be as sweet.

I have an interesting perspective in the back of the pack.  I get to enjoy watching those with a bit more talent, speed, youth and overall ability morph into incredible athletes.  It's been pretty amazing watching this transformation.  The members of this team signed up for a race and a life goal like Ironman with such unique and individual reasons...but came together and bonded to achieve that goal.

No matter what happens to me on November 2nd...whether I become and Ironman or not (and right now...I give myself a 50/50 chance)... I have learned so much from each of these individuals just by watching THEIR journey through the process of swimming, biking and running distances that we all never thought were possible.  Each of them are champions in my book...and I am so blessed to know them all.

So whether you ride so fast that I only get to talk to you BEFORE the workout....or you ride my speed and we share flat tires and broken chains....whether you lap me at track practice (ok...everyone laps me at track practice) or you are my running partner when we do interval training....you have made an impact on my Ironman experience and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.  Thanks for the highfives, the kind words, the kicks in the butt and for just being there.

29 Days until Ironman


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Slaying the Dragon...Ironman Augusta 70.3



“But it is one thing to read about dragons and another to meet them.” 
― Ursula K. Le GuinA Wizard of Earthsea


The dragons in this world are more than those in fairytales.  The dragons in my world appear in the fear that I am doing what so many people have said is impossible.  Slaying the dragon....that's indeed the goal.

A few weeks ago, I slayed a dragon that has haunted me for years...and that dragon is pictured above.  I hated the hills outside of Orlando...and the picture above is a map that visits ALL of those hills in one 78 mile bike workout.

Dragon #1...conquered and slayed.


And then there is Dragon #2...

Two years ago, I didn't finish Ironman Augusta.  Call me slow...call it a thunderstorm that shut down the course while I had about 1.2 miles to go to the finish line...I didn't step across the line...I didn't officially get a medal...and I had no finish time.  To me...that's a DNF...and it haunted me...

Until this weekend.

Two years and lots of sweat later, I awoke on Ironman Augusta 70.3 race day...terrified.  I won't lie.  Facing a race you know you have failed before is difficult but I learned long ago that if you fall off a horse, you better get off the ground and get back on...as soon as possible...or your nerve, your fear and your pride may not allow you to ride again.

I was NOT going to let that happen.

So, as I made my way to the race start, I fought to not THINK about the past and focus on the task at hand.  I had a lot of help and a lot of support.

My friends, Rene and Martha were there to be my support crew.  Armed with a boatload of positive affirmations, we made our way to the start and  they did a great job of keeping me calm.  My brother in law, Tom Daly, was racing in his second Half Ironman. Captain Daly is blessed with lots of talent and a mental game that would get him through without a problem and served as a calm example.  My team of 40, their support crew and cheering squads along with Coach Sway kept the start happy and upbeat.

I made my way to the water and sat down on the metal dock floating in the Savannah River.  The water was 69 degrees and I had only brought my skinsuit (a thin wetsuit instead of a normal warm thick wetsuit). Today would have probably been the day I would have broken down and worn a wetsuit but it was too late for that.  I splashed my face to get myself adjusted to the chilly water...and before I knew it....the gun went off and we were on our way.

In the Savannah River...you swim WITH the current so my swim time was VERY fast...at 33 minutes, I exited the water and was pretty happy with that time.  I was saving energy for what was to come.

If anyone ever tells you that Augusta is flat, THEY LIE.  Rolling hills were the description on the Ironman website, but I gotta tell ya...there were a few hills that felt like they would never end in those 56 miles....but....aside from those few, it was the first time in 13 years of racing that I ever felt as if the hills were easy.  Sure, I struggled up a few, but I kept my speed consistent...and made it back to the transition area in record time.

Off the bike, and into running shoes, I reminded myself that this was a "training day" for Ironman Florida so I made sure I had extra sunscreen, proper nutrition, and hydration.  I ran out of transition, and my goal of a Personal Record for this distance was in reach.  I began to run/walk and felt pretty strong.

Until mile 3...

Suddenly..my left foot was in agony...and the right was starting to throb.  I realized that my idea of getting a wide width shoe to compensate for swollen feet may not have been the best idea.  I was starting to develop some pretty major blisters...so I decided to walk....fast.  I looked at my watch and calculated each mile hoping that I could make my goal .....through mile 6 then 7 then 8 then 9....I am strong and consistent and focused.

Through that run, I saw our cheering section 4 times and each time they energized me to keep moving forward.  One of my friends even wore here LadyBug costume...because you know...ladybugs are good luck.  It made me smile and giggle.  My friends, Rene and Martha cheered and screamed.  They highfived me ...and it was like water to a thirsty soul...I got faster....and the miles clicked away.

By mile 12....It was my final pass by our cheering section and I saw our Coach....she looked at me and cheered....and thats when I knew...I was going to make it this time.  The tears came from nowhere. Really....I was really going to make it.  I was going to slay this dragon.  I was going to replace this bad memory with a good one. I was going to add another Half Ironman to the 5 I have completed on my own.  I kept moving.

As I approached the finishing chute, my team formed an arch for me to run through.  Can I tell you the feeling of that??  Can I express to you how special a moment that is to know that those people didn't just leave and go back to the hotel for a beer.?? They waited for me and for others that started the race later than me for our finishing moment...and there is nothing that can compare to that special sentiment.

I could see the finish line and hear the music.  My brother in law was running on one side...and friends Rene and Martha on the other.  My brother in law screamed "You're a DALY...RUN!!" My friend Rene screamed "You decide if the Boston Bruins are going to win the Stanley Cup...you gotta run"....and so...

For that final stretch, I ran, blisters and all....and crossed the line with a Personal Best Time.  By ANYONE'S standards, it was a slow finish time...but to me...it was MY FAST...MY GOAL and I had achieved it.  On this day, I was only racing ONE competitor...and his name was TIMEX.

As I crossed the line, I broke into tears.  Finally...at age 50...I completed another Half Ironman...and I was so happy.  I sobbed and hugged my friends....tears of sheer joy.

That night, I celebrated with a few shots of tequila and a medal around my neck.....but as sweet a day as this was.....it is not the BIG DRAGON that has to be slain.  That battle comes in 30 days......

30 days until Ironman Florida