Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Season of Possibilities-Merry Christmas 2013

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season.  Whether you are traveling to meet family for Christmas, planning a big trip for New Years or spending quiet time for self reflection, I hope this holiday is full of joy…and hope…and great possibilities for 2014.

It has been a strange few weeks since Ironman.  It seems that Thanksgiving appeared without warning this year and a shortened Christmas holiday season followed just as quickly.  Maybe it was because my world revolved around November 2nd…and anything after that seemed so …well…distant.

But as the holidays tumbled in including the celebration of my delayed 50th birthday, so many thoughts and emotions hit me head on.  I have felt very disorganized in my life and my world in these weeks because the structure of my workout life has been discontinued.  I still workout at the gym twice a week like clockwork but the long rides and runs and open water swim schedules are gone and I feel lost.  Rewind a few months ago and I would have given ANYTHING to have a weekend where I could just travel and see friends and go shopping.  Getting my nails done or just spending time with family seemed so impossible to fit in and now I have that time.

After a few weeks of parties and fun, I miss my triathlon life.  Do I miss 7 hours on a bike? Not really but I do miss the structure.  I know that triathletes need a mental break from all that…but maybe…just maybe…Ive had enough.

And it is in these days that I usually start deciding how my next race year will look.  Gone are the days of 20-25 races in a year (Yes…I actually had a year where I raced every other weekend…mostly half marathons) but doing long distance triathlon racing takes planning…well at least it does for me.  I am humbled to know those amazing people who can just …DECIDE …to go do a Half Ironman…and complete it with little preparation.  That is definitely not me.

The first part of my 2014 is pretty set.  I am excited and honored that dear friends who have a group of runners on a Ragnar Team have included me…this slow as molasses runner in their 12 member posse headed to Key West from Miami in February.  I am also very thrilled to be running my 6th and final Disney Half Marathon in January.  Why is it my final? Because I think doing 6 of the same race is kinda nuts…especially when they are running it where you work week after week.

In late February, a wonderful group of running buddies will be headed to the Gasparilla Running Classic to do a variety of distances.  I have decided to run an 8k and a 15k during the weekend and cheer on my friends who will be doing all 4 distances including a 5k, 8k, 15k and half marathon.

As the weather warms, Triathlon and the Tri With Sway Team gears up for the St. Anthony's Triathlon in St. Petersburg in late April and the Ironman Raleigh 70.3  Half Ironman in June.

Beyond that…well…you'll just have to stay tuned…as my mind is not made up.  Ill keep you posted as I always do :)

Merry Christmas..and Happy 2014. May the blessings of the special season show you that all things are possible.  May your dreams and possibilities come to fruition in this beautiful new year :)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The things we learn on the Journey of our Life-The Space Coast Half Marathon

That piercing alarm rang at 300am and it brought me back to the months prior to November 2nd.  I didn't struggle getting out of bed.  Getting up early just seems natural just seems like normal.  And as I dressed for a half marathon that I had entered as an afterthought to my Ironman journey, I had to remind myself to respect this distance.  Yes, I have trained for longer...but to disrespect 13.1 miles is never a good idea.  Anything can happen in 13.1 miles...

And as I made the drive alone over to Cocoa, my heart was kinda heavy.  It's the first time Ive put on a race number since Ironman.  I am still struggling through the emotions of not completing a goal and today seemed so....I don't know....anti-climatic.

And that's crap...

There was a time in my life when 13.1 miles of running was a BIG deal...and honestly...  it still is.  As I stood in the sea of people and they sang the National Anthem, those familiar butterflies returned...and I was almost grateful.  It made me feel normal made things feel real again.  Instead of sitting at home and pretending that endurance racing isn't important to it emerged to the top of my list again...where it belongs.

I was alone for awhile before the start.  It gave me time to think...but soon a few friends walked by and we chatted and I found my friend Sandi in the crowd.  It was as if God was reminding me of races past...when Sandi and I would travel with friends all over the country to race half marathons and how much fun it was.  Sandi always says we are going to "slap that a$$ and call it Sally all the way to the finish line" and with that...the countdown began and we were off.

I have only done a few short walks since Ironman so imagine going into 13.1 miles...COLD.  That was me..that was today....but my mind grabbed the challenge as if I was back at Ironman Florida...but this time..with the energy I needed to pick up my feet....and for 9 miles...I ran...and I was focused...and I was consistent.  I didn't really talk to anyone on the course (except for my friend Mike and my fellow "tenacious turtle" training partner Bonnie).....I was lost in my the dream of Ironman...and I was feeling pretty sorry for myself.  And always...God snapped me back to reality of my situation...

As I made the turn around and headed back toward the Finish line at mile 6.5, you are able to see the people who are behind you...and one by one....I was inspired.  I call them "my people" because these are people who are fighting the same fight I am...and I saw them by the dozen.  Large people...some walking a good solid pace while others were struggling to take the next step...but here they were...DOING IT...making a difference in their health and in their life.  One by one, they went by and I slowed down just to learn from each of encourage them...and to remind myself...this was me when Ironman was totally out of reach.

And the tears fell.  How arrogant of me.  How could I act like I have when I have been able to accomplish so much.  NO...I didn't finish Ironman but the changes in my life have been so great. Im living a life I never dreamed I would.  I AM AN ATHLETE. Even with all the jokes of how slow I am, I still can do this....and more.

And then my friend, Vi showed up right next to me and we walked together for awhile.  She gave me a hug and encouragement.  This is a woman who did her first half marathon and full marathon in the same weekend...signing up for the Goofy Challenge as her first experience in the endurance running world.  She has completed 3 of those.  See..inspiration is all around us.

My body ached at mile 10...the lack of conditioning in a few short weeks was showing it's ugly head but I was able to push the discomfort aside and take in the beautiful views of the River in Rockledge..and then in Cocoa. The weather was overcast but it never rained on us...but out in the river it was pouring.  God wanted to make sure I had a clear view of what was important today...and he held the raindrops at bay.

And as I made the turn onto the boardwalk that lines the Riverfront Park, that finish line feeling struck me.  I did it...again.  I have completed dozens of half marathons...but this feeling doesn't get old.  The crowds are loud and crazy and having a blast waiting for their loved ones to finish.  I rounded the turn and someone screamed my name....I smiled.  I looked up to heaven and thanked God for the message...and the lesson of this day...and as I crossed the finish line...a beautiful 4 year old girl held out my medal....ahhh yes...that medal....and I was taken aback by the sweetness of the moment.

My friends Mike and Vi were waiting for me as they always do.  Photos and conversation followed and we went our separate ways and headed home.  As I drove home, the song displayed below came on the radio to recap my day.  It struck me so much, I had to share it.  I am learning so much on the journey of my life.....

More soon as the off season continues.....enjoy the music...and the Journey of YOUR Life...

***Check out: Jake Owen's "The Journey of Your Life" on YouTube.  I tried to embed the video here but can't seem to get it to work.