Monday, January 27, 2014

You never forget your first triathlon

- “You must first find your limits, before you can exceed them..”

On a cold, windy Sunday afternoon in Raleigh NC, I got to be a part of something very special…and the emotions, excitement, fear and anticipation has been bouncing around in my head so much, I just had to write it down.

For years now, I have had the privilege of hanging out with some pretty amazing athletes who belong on our Triathlon Team "Tri with Sway". Our team has done a lot of different distances but for the most part, we focus on the longer distance stuff : Half Ironman and Ironman and a few Olympic distances thrown in.  I am honored and humbled that I can achieve some of these distances and that I have a coach who has taken my hand and helped me through to achieve these goals.

But on Sunday, I met about 50 women who have NEVER done a triathlon before.  They all have decided to join an amazing organization called "Tri it for Life".  This group focuses on women only and empowers them to move: move forward, move often and eventually..move towards completing their first sprint distance tri.  

I met ever type of woman you can imagine: young, old, thin, not so thin. There were runners who were terrified of the water and wanted to master the swim and there were cyclists who had never run a mile.  There were women who were looking to just move off the couch and make a difference in their lives and in their health….and they all inspired me…

And they made me remember…

14 years ago this month…that was me…terrified…but with this goal of just getting to the end of a Danskin triathlon.  I worked really hard for those 12 weeks…and I made it…and I remember the feeling of stepping across that finish line.  I was elated…I was proud…but most importantly…

I was hooked!!

Enjoying the company of these woman at their kick off event made me revisit what it was like back then…and then made me realize just how far of a journey I have made.  They were amazed when I told them I had done 7 half ironmans …and I guess I had forgotten…that is pretty amazing.

So as we set out to begin another triathlon season with new goals…new dreams…and new visions of those future finish lines, let's not forget what it was like…back then…when it all seemed so impossible because we all wouldn't be where we are in WHATEVER we wish to achieve if we had not first decided to find our limits.  

If you believe…you CAN achieve it….looking forward to the 2014 Triathlon season :)

Ill keep you posted!!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Be like the Turtle…or maybe not…The Zooma Half Marathon

Try to be like the Turtle…at ease in your own shell!
-Bill Copeland

Yup!! Were definitely NOT at Disney.  After suffering for 3 weeks with a head and chest cold, I decided the Disney Half Marathon was not in the cards for me.  By time the Disney race day arrived, I was feeling better but still didn't think I was ready for 13.1 miles.  I spent the Disney Marathon weekend cheering on my friends and feeding a lot of people (thanks to some very helpful and talented friends who worked magic in our Disney Vacation Club Villa kitchen).

But as the week after Disney moved forward, that desire for a challenge…and for the bling was in the forefront of my mind.  Since I started doing these races 14 years ago, there are weeks where I just get this need to go push myself to finish a challenge…and hang a big piece of medal around my neck.  Most people would be happy just hanging out by the pool…for me…I just need to see if I can do it.

Most runners are going for that PR…that super fast time…and don't get me wrong…I always want to improve on my time but this race was more about finishing.  After a DNF at Ironman, my psyche (and my ego) kinda needed to cross another finish line so it was off to one of my favorite places in the world: Amelia Island and the Ritz Carlton.

A 36 degree start would prove to be my 3rd coldest half marathon in 14 years.  Wind chill: 28 degrees.  All I could think of was that bed I just left sure was warm.  A small field of just 500 runners meant I would probably be one of the final finishers…but I didn't let that bother me.  I just kept one thing in mind:

Whatever I do…don't let there be a police car following me on the road.

If the police car is on you six, you are LAST…I just didn't want to be last!!

The race ran through historic downtown Fernandina Beach/Amelia Island, some nice quiet neighborhoods and then beautiful Fort Clinch State Park.  These miles were stunning and 
relaxing…it hardly felt like a race.

Then it was onto Fletcher Avenue…the main drag into Fernandina Beach…and it was highway for miles….a highway next to the ocean…but high traffic two lane road none the less. Not my favorite part but the part that makes you focus on your abilities to complete miles.  As mile 9 and 10 passed, the run slowed..the effort got more difficult.  Believe it or not, I turned off my headphones and tuned into me.  What makes this hard? Why do I always struggle here? My legs don't breathing isn't labored…so what's the story??

And then…the sign that made my race "Try to be like the ease in your own shell""  Hmmm…this lead me to think…and think and think as this long highway and LOTS of cones laid in front of me.

As much as I like my "shell"…even animals with a shell will shed it and move to another.  Can you imagine how uncomfortable that must be? I believe that is what the last few months have been for me…moving from a comfortable "shell" to being exposed to the world without the comfort of protection.  For years, I think my weight was my shell and as that weight has come off I have pushed forward to challenge myself…to change myself and to mold myself into something better…something honorable…and a person that is good, hardworking and straightforward.  I want the days gone where I would hide behind that shell….and I want to be strong….I want to be the best me…and somewhere…somehow…no matter what others think…someday…I want to be an Ironman.

With all these thoughts in my head, I saw the sign that took us from that long boring road and opened up to the beautiful ocean and the beach.  The finish was less than a 1/2 a mile away and I smiled.  See…there is always good after the bad…and this race was no exception.  I wasn't last..and as I crossed the finish line and looked back at the beauty that was that Florida coastline, I realize there is good that is coming from the disappointment of the last few months…

I got that bling around my neck…but most importantly…that 13.1 miles helped me realize that I have to go for the dreams I think are important in my life no matter how impossible others may seem to think they are.

Stay tuned…exciting things are on the horizon!! 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Merry Christmas "Mom"

**I delayed posting this entry because it is very personal.  After careful thought, I decided to put it out into the world…Happy New Year 2014."

As many of you know, my husband and I have no children.  It was a decision made by God.  I was super morbidly obese in my child bearing years and as many people know, obesity affects fertility.  Steve and I consider many options but we decided to leave the possibility of getting pregnant in God's hands instead of attempting in vitro. It is a decision we never regretted  because we have faith in his path and we love to heap love on all of our nieces and nephews and on our friend's kids :)

My favorite charity is the Edgewood Children's Ranch in Orlando.  The Ranch helps children who exhibit negative social behavior due to family circumstances and their involvement with negative forces in their living environment.  It is a residential facility that houses, feeds, and educates both spiritually and scholastically up to 70 children from elementary to high school age.

About a year ago, myself and about 15 of our closest friends decided to cook Thanksgiving dinner for the 100 total people at Edgewood.  My husband ,who is the most amazing turkey fryer on the planet, coordinated frying 12 turkeys while my friends, including one professionally trained chef, put together the sides and dessert.  It was quite a feat but I have never felt so honored to get to know these special children and the incredible people that help steer their lives onto the right path.

I sat down with one of the girls and she asked if I had children.  I told her "No..but you guys are like my kids….I care about you very much."  If you think for a moment that children don't remember what you say or the actions you take, consider this…

Fast forward to Christmas 2013.  I am on the Board of Directors of the Ranch and our December board meeting is very casual and fun.  We enjoy chatting with the people that help put the ranch together in the 60's (including my father and mother) and we get to enjoy the children singing Christmas Carols.  The kids and staff also makes each of the board members a plate of cookies…and let me tell you…they are amazing cookies made with so much thought and love.  I don't eat them for awhile…I enjoy having them on my counter and appreciating the hard work that went into them before they end up in my face (really…you don't think I wouldn't eat those…)

That same little girl came up to me and presented me with my cookies.  I gave her a big hug and asked how she was doing.  She told me she was doing well and she loved her ranch life.  More importantly she told me this…

"I wanted to be the one that brought you your cookies…because I think you really care about us.  I also wanted to tell you "Merry Christmas Mom"…because…you love us like a Mom.

I couldn't catch my breath.  I gave her the biggest hug.  I had the most amazing Christmas with my family and with my friends.  I enjoyed sharing New Years with my husband in Boston and even loved working at Disney on Christmas Day…but this moment in time embodied my Christmas…defined what was important about the season….and it will be a moment that will move me forward in helping this charity achieve it's goals.  This  IS  what Christmas is about…

Here is hoping your holidays were blessed and joyful and that your new year is full of the promise and happiness you seek...