Friday, September 19, 2014

Ironman Sweden 2014 3 Ironman in 11 weeks...Not the result I was hoping for but still happy with my performance!

Ironman Sweden

For those that prefer the short version!

The things I really appreciated about Kalmar Sweden! 

1.Crowds of enthusiastic spectators. 75 0000 plus!

2.Safe,scenic  and enjoyable bike course.

3.Beautiful destination race.

4.Easy to navigate around around on a bike, cruiser or walking.

5.Most people speak English.
6.Wetsuit swim

7.Great finish line

8. HOT private showers at the end of the race and the biggest hot tubs you have ever seen.

9.Feeling clean while getting an unbelievable post race massage and not full of gel and sports drink.

10.Good post race food including Swedish candy.

11.Great post race awards including paying 8 deep. 

12.Spectacular fireworks at 10pm!

13.My wonderful homestay Asa! 

The longer version!

After a successful Challenge AC I took 2 solid weeks off and started planning the rest of the summer. 
My priority after my two Ironman in 2 months would be to head to South Africa to visit my family. 

But I could not resist looking at the Ironman schedule of races to see what races were within 4 or 5 weeks as my body was still feeling quite good.   I decided that a European race might work well. IM Sweden was the perfect race for me. 
It was flat and the weather looked ideal and I could race on my way to SA. I went into this race with very little training as I just really wanted to focus on my kids and making sure they were having the best summer ever.  So my training was definitely low and inconsistent and far from perfect but I have come to realize that sometimes you may be in the best shape ever going into a race and something out of your control happens. 

I headed over to Kalmar a few days before the race.   I would fly to Stockholm then onto Kalmar where I would meet up with my homestay.

Asa, a sweet Swedish cyclist greeted me at her apartment and graciously gave me the keys and maps and her cruiser to get around.   It was a sat race which only gave me 2 days to get situated and acclimated to the time change. 
This would prove to be my biggest struggle. I forgot my melatonin behind and somehow my body just did not want to make the 6 hour time change.  For the two nights before the race I would fall asleep at 3 in the morning (9pm) and then 
get woken 4 hours later to get on with the day. So by Friday I was feeling very run down with a slight fever.   
There is nothing I love more than exploring a new town and seeing how other people live. 

Kalmar is a quaint town of 65000 people. It was clean, with beautiful well kept houses, gardens filled with flowers , bike friendly, and gorgeous castles and lots of water everywhere. People are charming and most speak english.
 I managed to get one ride before the race on most of the run course.  I actually just used this ride 
to figure out where everything was. I later also rode my cruiser down to the swim start for the open water swim the day before the race.  I felt good about the race despite my lack of consistent training.

The day before the race I was getting a little nervous when I realized my fever was not letting up and I would go into the race with very little sleep, and not feeling well. 
I got out of bed race morning after zero sleep and went through the motions of getting ready to race. My fever seemed to have gone but my headache was still there and I had taken Advil every four hours leading up 
to the race.
 I wanted to just close my eyes and go to sleep but I knew I had come to race so I made myself a giant cup of coffee and took a mello ride down to the start. 
Race morning went smoothly and before I knew it I was waiting on that start line for them to call my name. I was so looking forward to racing and actually seeing the course but just wished I felt better.
I was not nervous at all. The perks of having done a few Ironman races.  29 to be exact!

They called me as first pro to get into the water and I treaded water waiting for the gun to go off.  I pushed hard at the start but my body felt tired trying to sprint.   But I just reminded myself that it was a long day and just to pace myself. 
At the first big turn the few girls I was swimming with spillt up. One managed to stay with the group and one dropped off behind me which meant a solo swim until 40 minutes in when the first age groupers started to catch up. This too 
was at the same time as we were going under the low bridges and crowds of spectators cheering us on. It felt like 100 age groupers passed me and by the time I swam into the finish chute for the swim I was surrounded by quite a 
few athletes.

Onto the bike and I regrouped. I was looking forward to seeing what lay over the 6 km bridge to Oland.  This was a 2 section bike course. One big loop on the island of Oland and a smaller loop in Kalmar.  Oland would be very windy but I
managed to keep a good speed going. I was not sure what position I was in but I knew I had passed a girl and that there was one ahead of me in the distance. A small pack passed me with two pro girls in it and I decided to ride off the 
back. Like 20 meters off the back. (to play it safe) By the second loop I was tired of some blatant drafting and lack of response from the officials so I pulled ahead and pushed way to hard for the next 30 min hoping to drop what was now just 4 of us.  But I expended energy I did not have and mentally drained myself and ended up coming into transition 30 seconds behind second and third place female.

As I ran out of transition I saw the 3rd female pro right in front of me but my stomach was not feeling good. So I found the first porto potty I could and despite a whole group of people telling me I was going the wrong way I made my first 
of many stops. The city was alive with thousands of people lining the cobblestone streets, cheering loudly.  I would run and feel ok and try work to catch the girls or to keep some distance from the girls behind but then my stomach would 
start to bother me again and I would have to slow until I could find another porto potty or a secluded spot in the woods.  This is my worst kind of racing as it just wears you down and depletes you. 

I however loved the run course and appreciated the kids cheering, the pouring rain that made things very humid,  the different music blasting from groups set up for the day. The city of Kalmer shuts down 
for the race and everyone comes out to support.  I loved seeing my homestead Asa out there and was very thankful to her for cheering hard for me. 

I was disappointed to let a few girls pass me in the last 5 miles without much of a fight but I was happy to hold things together and finish around 10 hours on the nose and I was really able to soak in the crowds and I enjoyed myself all the way to the finishline! 

Result : 7th Pro women. 

I then headed to South Africa to spend some good time with my mom, dad and brother and his family!
My dad is still fighting hard in his battle with cancer. It was great to spend his 74th birthday with him! 

The beautiful view from my parents house

Mom and Dad

Great to catch up with childhood friends Julie and Kerry

My amazing nephew Cole

 Gavin and his family!

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Challenge Atlantic City! 2nd Place Female!

Lead up to Challenge AC
From the day they announced that Challenge would be making its debut in the USA with the added bonus of coming to Atlantic City I knew I was going to race the full distance!

There is nothing more I love than a high pressure hometown race. I say high pressure as I always feel pressure to perform when I know I have so many friends and family and fellow athletes from the Jersey Shore following my performance.  It makes me want to push even harder sometimes to my detriment. We all know that a 140.6 mile race is a long day and anything can happen.

After Brasil I had a quick 5 weeks between races.  One week was spent on travel and recover. The following week I went back to training and actually felt pretty good. Having some great swims and bikes. The 3rd and 4th week I started to feel really tired as I had heavy training days and kids schedules were busy as they were both graduating 5th and 8th grade.   Burning the candle on both ends often leads to fatigue and poor performance.  My dad's cancer is also weighing heavily on me and this seems to zap my energy causing a lot of sleepless nights.
By the week before the race I was feeling so tired and chose to skip or make every workout a recovery workout as I had no power and energy. I was really concerned about my performance in AC and had expressed several times to Coach Jesse that I was feeling lousy.
Luckily I arrived in AC on Thursday to a room full of energy. I had been invited as the "Jersey Girl" to the press conference.  I saw Rob Vigo and know how hard he, Stephen and his team have worked to make this race a success.  Friday was busy with press conferences, Interviews with Bob Babbit and  Peter Henning from NBC and Comcast and a great photo shoot for Rudy Project thanks to Krista and Andres from Race Quest Travel. 

I was so busy during the day and it was so fun seeing so many friends in Atlantic City gearing up to race.  By the evening I was exhausted and I would be kept up the two nights before the race by people having a good time in the Showboat casino halls.  I thought of a great idea...They should consider putting all the athletes on the same floor away from those who are there to party.

On Saturday I checked in my bike and although feeling extremely fatigued,  Coach Jesse reminded me that my fitness is still there although I may be tired. I also know that unless I am injured I am mentally very tough and have a no quit attitude so I knew I would be ok!

Come race morning I put all concerns aside. I showed up ready to race know matter how I felt.  

Race Day Report

Big thanks to Coach Jesse Kropelnicki, ( QT2 Systems) who always has my best interest at heart and so wants me to race well!  He has such a calm approach to training and racing and just controlling the things you can control.
Race morning arrived and there was so much excitement and energy filling the air. Everything went so smooth!  It was great to see so many friends all getting ready for the long day and others getting ready for their segment of the relay! 
I was not nervous at all and stood watching the Navy seals jumping out of the plane with the American flag flying high and I was so happy to be there and a part of the inaugural event.

My Swim 
Big thanks to Blue Seventy for my speedy speed suit.
I did not mind that it was a non wetsuit swim as I have not done too many open water wetsuit swims this year and I am always very comfortable without a wetsuit especially in warm water.
I had not seen the course or even previewed it so I was a little concerned that the sun would make it hard to sight and there was a good possibility that I might be swimming alone.  Luckily one of the other pros swam pretty even with me and I chose to let her lead the way. I opted to go a little easier and rather have the company of someone else with me. I was suprised to see us catch and pass a large group of pro guys right around the same time as we hit the marsh land. I laughed at how crazy it was that we were walking but then decided it was just like a two loop course where you would have to do a beach run anyway. It also gave me a chance to site where the next buoys were. When I hit the bridge I got pushed by the current and really had to work hard to get back around the second bouy. This was the first time that I had worked hard on the swim and I did have a moment of panic where I realized  that I was not moving. I can see where alot of people ran into some trouble here.  Next year I will be sure to turn wide and push hard right from that buoy knowing the possible current.  The other pro girl managed to make a big gap ahead of me and I spent the next 10 minutes or so trying to catch back up to her. This allowed me to see where she was having issues navigating.  The rest of the swim went really quickly and before I knew it we were making the final turn into the finish.  I only found out at the end that I swam a 1.05 swim which is quite slow for me but considering the walking/currents/ extra yards and no wetsuit  I was ok with it.  

The BIKE! Big thanks to Quintana Roo, Rudy Project Bike 5.10 Fastest women's bike split!

Onto the bike I knew I was in second place! I was told that I was 6 minutes behind first place. That was a first for me to already be in second place so I was thrilled. I was riding totally solo except for the occasional pro guy that passed me.  I had been concerned with traffic heading out of AC but the bike course was so enjoyable. No traffic, quiet shady roads. I was loving it. I settled into a very comfortable bike pace. Once onto the expressway I happened to notice my family pass by and got a boost out of them yelling and screaming for me.  The expressway felt fast but the wind had not really picked up yet so we did not have that huge tailwind pushing us. Before I knew it I was in Hammonton. I knew what to expect here as I had done this in a training ride a few weeks prior.  I was told there that I was now 5 minutes back so I had made up a minute only in 30 miles. I started to push a little harder only to drop my bottle right before an aid station. I thought it was ok but when I checked with the official riding beside me  he told me to go back, so there went up all the time I had made up.

Second time through the town of Hammonton , the crowd of fans had grown and I was having such a good time. I was pushing a little harder on the bike while still staying very controlled. I told the media guys that my goal was to try be in the lead by transition but without putting burning too many matches.  I also knew that it would be alot easier for me to make up time here than on the expressway as there was meant to be a tailwind heading home. Sure enough that did not happen. There was a strong headwind on the way back which really made me have to work hard. I might have put out a little too much on this section even though I tried to be patient. I could see the lead bikes about a minute up but it took forever to catch them. Finally at mile 100 I made the pass.  I thought that would be it but Laurel decided she was not going to give up so easily. We went back a forth a few times but then a pro guy got into the mix of it and with the stagger rule it was getting tricky. I decide to sit back and avoid getting any kind of penalty.  We arrived 20 seconds apart into T2.

The RUN! Thank you Pearl Izumi for my awesome light weight race shoes!!!

I entered transition less than 30 seconds behind 1st place. I felt pretty comfortable running out of Bader Field but Laurel looked really great. My goal would be to try stay cool, try keep the pace up and try PR my run.  Once onto the boards I quickly realized how hot it was.  It was a lot hotter than expected. I heard later from someone that it hit upper 80's!
There were sections were the dunes blocked the breeze from hitting the boardwalk which made it super hot.  I loved the feel of running on the bouncy boards though and there were so many people out there cheering.   The first 20 miles went super fast! I love this kind of run. There was so much entertainment on the boardwalk. people watching. other racers, friends and family. Showers you could dunk under. The aid stations were unbelievable. They had everything there and plenty of it.  As hectic as it was with the crowds it was up there with one of my favorite most energetic runs for sure!! I knew I was not going to win as Laurel was just running so well so I just settled in to a pace that secured second.
Congrats to Natasha for her 3rd place finish too!  This race ended up being a lot more Challenging than it looked on paper. But thats what made it even more enjoyable! Wind, heat, currents, navigating the boards made Atlantic City memorable for sure! A second place finish, my 28th Ironman race and a nice pay check was the icing on the cake!

A big thanks goes out to Rob Vigorita and Stephen for putting such heart and soul into this race and to Felix for bringing Challenge to the USA! There are a few kinks to be worked out but I really believe this race could be very succesful. Atlantic City is a good venue as it has many choices of hotels to stay in with many good food options. There is plenty for families to do. Its a fun world class event close to home!

So awesome meeting Challenge Owner  Felix!

Awards ceremony

Post rides on the board walk.  
Hanging at Revel with my family!

I hope this race is even bigger and better in 2015!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Decisions...Ironman Brasil The good, bad and the ugly of racing!

Ironman Brasil 2014 

IM TEXAS or IM Brasil or just wait and race Challenge AC…This has been my last 4 weeks of decision making!  What started out as a set plan at the beginning of the season became a lack of commitment to a race...

Come May I was really starting to get the race bug but still felt with a family trip and the wish wash weather my training was still not where it needed to be. I have been racing long enough to know that if you are not hitting the markers in training you will not hit them in a race. 

My weeks of training going into Ironman would be a hodge podge of good and bad days. 
What works best for me is 6 weeks of consistency!!! 

I never the less planned on heading to Texas but with a week to go and the potential for Texas to be 90 degrees, and with still no days above 50/60 degree's in NJ I decided it would not be a good way for me to go. So I played it safe and made a Plan B which was to go back and race Ironman Brasil. A race I was familiar with as I raced it last year and with it being winter there the temperatures would be much more in my favor.

Brasil: The GOOD!…

I think this race has so much potential to be great! For many, especially the locals this race is fantastic.
The venue of Floripa is perfect!  A tourist destination with its stunning beaches and quaint coffee shops is undeniably beautiful. 

As its winter there, there is a quiet feel to the town that us Ironman athletes own it for the week. No distractions other than to race! There are plenty of hotels, houses , condos to rent . A few grocery stores and a mixture of restaurants to eat at.  
The bike course goes into the center of Floripa which makes it a really scenic ride.

One of the highlights of the bike is biking through these tunnels that go on for 1/2 a mile.

More of the good: Traveling with and sharing the experience for the second year in a row with team mate Jessie Donovan 

My week going into Brasil I felt great. I had no expectations for this race. I just wanted to have a solid race!  I felt no pressure and was excited. The day before I was calm, racked my bike and went for a swim in the afternoon. After a rainy cool week the sun was out and the ocean calm. I did some swim starts and felt ready and relaxed. This was going to be my 27th Ironman! I had not raced an Ironman in 10 months so that was the only thing I was unsure about. But I knew that no matter what I could cover the distance!

Things that make me happy! My new Brazilian bathing suit!

The Bad

I think this race is a really good race for every athlete besides the women pro's and those age groupers looking to qualify for Kona. 
The big problem with this race and the women pro field is the mass start. 
Their are alot of fast South Americans and with a mass start and a lot of swimmers under an hour we end up coming out of the water surrounded by hundreds of athletes.  
This race would be so much better if they let the women pro's start 10-15 minutes earlier than the age group men. Also splitting the age groupers into waves would help spread the race out a little.

I felt I had a good swim. I was knocked around a bit in the beginning and was happy I made the choice to put my goggles under my cap as sure enough they were knocked off within minutes of the start. I also got a little trapped for most of the first loop of the swim but I stayed wide the second loop and really managed to pick up my pace and catch up to some girls ahead of me. The currents were not as strong as the previous year which led to a slightly slower swim for me. But was still happy to go under an hour and see plenty of bikes on the rack.

Onto the bike, the first five miles of the bike is tight and a little bit dangerous.  If you want to pass you need to go into on coming traffic or avoid the large cones while trying to get past those who can swim fast but not bike. 

But once onto the highway the race is fast!  There are a few big climbs which you do 4 times as its a two loop course.  The bike course is really fun with hills and bridges, tunnels and wind. The wind always seems lighter on the first loop and then really picks up the second loop. This is the second year I have not  stuck to my plan. I go out way too fast as my legs feel great and there is not much wind and I always seem to suffer the last 28 miles when the wind picks up.  But I was still happy with my 5.04 bike split.

The run course also changed a little this year. I actually like the new run course. The course has one giant hill that gradually gets steeper and steeper until you are convinced that the only way you will make it up is too walk. But the moment you take one walking step, you realize that everyone waiting at the top can see you, so you muster up your energy to fake run at a snails pace up to the top. Once at the top you get to do an out and back where for the first time you can see where all your competition is on the run. Then you get to descend that monster hill. That always feels good on the thighs.  The new course has you doing three smaller loops that wrap through the high energy town and the more isolated sections of the course where their is another little hill to keep things challenging. All in all I like the run course. Although with that being said I did not have a good run. At mile 15 I was in 11th place and 10th was 5 plus minutes in front of me. My hips were hurting a little and I decided to save myself for Atlantic City in 4 weeks. I jogged the last 8 miles knowing that I would still go under 10 hours making for a solid day of racing! 9hr 53 min was my official time!

Now to the UGLY!

DRAFTING!!!! Its a very unfair race! If you race with integrity and "old school" no drafting values then this race is not for you!  I have always hated flat races like IMFL because of the drafting. It puts you in a tough position where you can get emotional when you see blatant drafting. You may question yourself and what to do. I read a few quotes on others blogs.
Quote 1)" I am not willing to give my race up by sitting up and letting a pack with other competitors pass."
 But you have to remember that if a pack catches you they are biking faster than you are on your own. Which means if you are racing with a conscience and doing the right thing then you need to sit up and let the group go. 10meters will do the trick. The group will eventually pull away from you as they are all working together to go fast and you wont beable to keep up.  Or pick the pace up and bike like crazy to pull away from them. THe latter never works to well though as the group tends to chase the fastest person.
There is also the case of just one , two  or three bikers riding together in a pace line.  If you are too close to someones wheel you are still drafting. Even though you are not in "the" pack!!! 
Quote 2)"All the others are doing it....Well why did you not go with them."
 Because they were all cheating it does not make it right. We rely on the marshals to make good calls and give justified penalty's to those who are not following the rules. All those riding in a pack of 50 should have received a penalty. Yes one by one pull them over. 
A whistle is not good enough.
Quote 3 " We are just here to have fun, this is your race! " as two bikers lead a group chatting and riding side by side. But if you are blocking the road YOU are affecting my race.

Another good quote I read translated from Portuguese, 

" Starts by waves, hilly courses, 10 minute penalties ... everything that helps to reduce the problem of illegal drafting should be done.. However, the real solution is in the conscience of the athlete. Everyone wants a better fair race, but who is willing to do their part? #playtrue"
Well said!!!

I do hope the race director finally takes into consideration the problems this race has and implements a plan to make it better but it really starts with the athletes and doing the right thing!!
Some photos that were taken off of Instagram!

I will remember Brasil for the good things though. The beautiful beaches, the friendly people, the fun prerace excitement, the challenging course, the shopping at the mall I did, the little coffee shops, the long beach walks, the fisherman and the funny massage experiences I had. No regrets going back!

Thanks as always to my family, Coach Jesse Kropelnicki, QT2 Systems, PowerBar, Rudy Project, Pearl Izumi, Quintana Roo, Normatec Recovery Boots, Blue Seventy for getting me to the start line!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Desperately seeking willpower!

It's 12.30 in the afternoon and I am sipping on a cup of coffee, ( a big no no) with a gazillion thoughts rolling through my head probably from the rush of caffeine and the brilliant article I have just read on the psychology of mental toughness.

I have concluded after reading the article that I am "Desperately seeking willpower..."
It seems I have emptied my willpower bucket .. Last year I was definitely running on empty but somehow I have not been able to replenish it over the course of the year. I have had moments where maybe a cup or two may have returned but every obstacle/stress I run into seems to diminish it again.

My problem: An empty bucket of willpower!

Lets first define willpower:  A:The strength of will to carry out ones decisions, wishes or plans.
B: The ability to control oneself and determines ones actions
C: Firmness of will.
D: Self control
Other words to describe Will Power : drive, resolution,determination,firmness of purpose, will.

Ok so there you have it! Even my lack of blogging has stemmed from this lack of desire or motivation. Over the last year it seems I have been a little lost on all of the above. Most of you know me as a motivator and generally positive happy person so it was easier to be quiet on socail media when I was not feeling in top form.
Lets back track: It started with turning "40" as much as I believed it was only a number it hit me hard.  I will be honest I am still waiting to embrace my 40's but accept it as I have no choice...

With 40 came exercise induced asthma.  A harsh reality for a professional athlete ! It had snuck up on me training in the heat and humidity, but it hit me full force at IMLP last year where I was brought to a complete stop trying to catch my breathe which certainly creates fear. That day, while I struggled through 22 miles of the marathon portion with limited air supply, willing my body through every step I believe I sapped up a huge supply of my willpower bucket.

The next day I found out my dad had lung cancer and the reality of the road ahead and his fight dipped again into my bucket.  I then did what I do...3 weeks after IMLP I decided 3 days before Ironman Mont Tremblant to drive the 10 hours up there and race for a cause...My DAD!  Emotions were high and I drove, raced as hard as I could,  drove the 10 hours back then the following day jumped on a plane that would take me over 36 hours to South Africa.  My objective of my trip to South Africa was to show 100% strength and support as my mom and dad faced this huge life monster of a disease.  For 2 weeks I barely slept and spent hours giving all I could mentally and emotionally to my family.  My bucket was emptied on that trip but it was a trip I am so thankful to have made.

So with a empty bucket I decided it was best to end the season! Now normally a mid season or a 4 week Christmas break would often leave me hungry to get back to training. But with the polar vortex hitting the nation I found my motivation to get back to training was not there and with no races scheduled for 8 months I was in unfamiliar territory.  The love of racing and competing have been my motivation my whole life.  I have always been self motivated and loved a good challenge. I set goals and meet them..the harder the better.   But at the beginning of winter I told Coach Jesse I had no desire to do long trainer rides or freezing cold rides either.
In order to race well and compete as a professional there are certain things you need to do and you need to do them daily and well. I was not willing to do them.  Nothing went perfectly...sleep, nutrition, workouts were all less than stellar. I found that when these things don't go perfectly I put a huge amount of mental stress on my lack of achieving my daily goals and there were a few months of mental torture.
As the months ticked by and as suspected I arrived at camp in what I felt was my worst shape of my life.  I did not beat myself up over it as it was Feb and my willpower as we all know was lacking therefore mentally I was struggling.
I managed to gain some motivation at camp surrounded by 30 amazing athletes and coaches all ready to get their seasons started. I secretly hoped it would rub off on me and it did. I came back with a new attitude and jumped back into training. But as the snow and cold temperatures remained and my attempts to find like minded people who were doing early season races failed I found myself struggling again. I had already decided that heading back to race an Ironman for the sake of racing was not going to happen and I called off my April Ironman. What if I couldn't will myself to finish...In 27 Ironman races it has only happened once due to severe back pain but never has my mind failed me. I have completed races in cold rainy conditions with hyperthermia and hot conditions with hypothermia. I have raced the windiest and hottest Kona conditions. The elements or physical tests have played a big part but my mind has always been the strongest tool I had.   But how can I ask my body to finish something that its not prepared mentally and physically to do and do well.
I set a small test for myself instead of racing IM South Africa I headed down to Florida for the 70.3.  It was a baby step in the right direction. My results were less than stellar and my fitness and speed were not there but it did leave me wanting more.

So here I sit pondering how I am going to fill my bucket of willpower.

Self realization is a beautiful thing. Sometimes you can't quite pin point what your problem is but working your way to find a solution can be empowering.  I have been waiting for the motivation to come...but sometimes you have to make it yourself.

 I have a few races scheduled that have lit my fire and together with seeing everybody get back out on the road as the nicer weather returns is helping.
I am 8 weeks out of my first BIG race and I am going to put my head down and work to get my fitness back up again to where I can comfortably race head high and give it all I am capable of without my fitness being a limiter and without having any excuses.  In order to achieve you need to have a goal and commit to it. So Challenge Atlantic City I am 100% committed to making you my comeback race!

So for any of you that might be suffering a little from an empty bucket of motivation/willpower/ enthusiasm just know you are not alone. It hits us all at some point its just finding your way back that can be the struggle.  Sometimes you might have to redirect yourself and that is where I am at right now.
I need to set NEW goals for myself that will make me happy!  I need to not compare what I am doing now to what I might have done 5 years ago! Life is always evolving and you have to roll with the punches. You need to keep challenging yourself in order to grow.  Sometimes a break from a routine in stressful times is just what you need!
I appreciate my life, my beautiful family and all that I have to be grateful for.  So I look forward to the new challenges that come my way!