Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Life in the slow lane....

I am not sure what it is with planes and blogs. But here I am back on a plane! Traveling again for the first time since my trip to South Africa in August and I finally have nothing to do but put my thoughts onto paper! 

Not sure why I have not blogged in so long! I thought of it a few times but that's as far as it went! Perhaps uninspired by my not racing…perhaps feeling the disappointment of ending my season! But whatever the reason I was inspired to write a blog today as I ran into a friend who told me how much her 11 year old daughters enjoy reading my blog  and I felt like I was letting them down by my absence of recording my life happenings…exciting or not! 
So thank you Anna and Alexis for inspiring this latest blog!

I need to fill you all in with a quick summation of where I ended up my season back in August! I had headed to Mont Tremblant Canada for a last minute decision to race an Ironman a short 3 weeks after IMLP in honor of my dad who had just been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer! 

My race had no purpose but to finish and smile and celebrate the wonderful gift of being fit and being mentally strong! 
The race was tough and my body was tired, mentally and physically, but I was so glad I made the trip to that beautiful part of the world. I finished strong and celebrated the fabulous results of many friends racing that day!  

The morning after the race I made the 10 hour drive back to NJ and then woke the next morning to head to South Africa with my daughter!  Knowing the serious condition my dad is in and not knowing how his treatments would go Coach Jesse and I had decided it was best to end the season right there and take some much needed time to rest and be with  my family in a time of need without any pressure to maintain my fitness! 

Sydney and I heading to Germany

Sydney taking a moment to say a prayer for her pop pop!
Sydney and I on the Bridge of Locks standing over the Rhine river Germany

My travel buddy

Touring Frankfurt!

Onto SA and I was reminded of just how much the sport of triathlon has given me. The tools for enduring an Ironman go hand in hand without the tools you need for fighting just about anything that life throws your way! How you react to the things that might go wrong in an Ironman is how you may react when you have to deal with adversity!  

I had many a conversation with my Dad on how to stay positive through these dark times! 

 It is something that is so difficult to do when you are fighting a terrible disease like cancer but you have no choice but to take it one treatment at a time, one day at a time, one week at a time!  Just as in an Ironman keeping positive goes a long way in how your body responds.  In an Ironman you don't look ahead, you stay in the moment, you pray, you appreciate when you are feeling good and you stay clam and control what you can control! 

I am so thankful for being able to be thereI to support my mom and Dad through this difficult time and I continue to do so from a distance. He is fighting the battle like a champ and his tumor is responding well! I also loved the time I got to hang with my brother and his family!
Sydney hanging with her cousins

Sydney bought this beautiful handmade heart for me! Love her!

Sydney so comfortable in the wild!!!

My mom and her beautiful sister Aunty Barbs!
I will miss those beautiful South African sunrises!

Sydney and I overlooking Durban beachfront

 Our time passed quick and before we knew it Syd and I were headed back to the states. After a flight delay we got to spend a day in Switzerland which was both beautiful and exhausting!

On lake Zurich

Our trip around stunning Lake Zurich with the Alps in the background

On returning to the states I accepted the fact that my season was over but  I will admit it was hard watching all these late season Ironman races going on with no races on my schedule for months. By the time I race again I will have taken 8 months off of racing which is CRAZY long considering my hefty schedule over the last few years! 

This time has been nice though and I have really enjoyed the slower pace of not always rushing trying to fit everything in. I got to sleep in and eat whatever I want and stay up late and watch TV. But you know what I realized… I like to wake up and train early, I really don't enjoy watching TV, I like my busy schedule and I like my daily structure and my healthy eating of four fruits and veggies a day, smoothies and lean proteins!! 
 I just end up taking more stuff on like more time to practice soccer with Sydney and more time to coach the girls out running. Instead of my own blogging I created a Facebook site for their team with all their sponsors! I too got out on the mountain bike before anyone else this year enjoying the warm weather riding in the woods! We have made several trips to NYC to see shows. 

Mountain biking for fun with my good friend Mercedes

Ran a few 5kms with the kids!

But the biggest change to my life has been the addition of this cute puppy whom we call Mowgli to our family! 

This is Mowgli at 6 weeks! His first name was Brayden but he looked more like a Mowgli to us!

Everyone warned me puppies are like babies…but I did not believe until I was holding this fluffy little thing in my arms.  I also did not realize how much time is involved with taking care of a puppy! So much for sleeping in!  Early morning, lunch and evening walks,  puppy baths and feeding and of course plenty of time goes to hugging, puppy belly rubs, puppy games, training…it is never ending! 

Enjoying the fall evenings at my house!

Sydney playing soccer

So now that I am getting back to training and my hours are creeping up over the 20 hour mark I can officially say I am back to being overwhelmingly busy between my training, kids activities , puppy and life itself!!! Just the way I like it!

I will be updating my blog a little more when I can find some quiet time…right now there is none!

What I can tell you is I look forward to my 4th year being coached by Jesse Kropelnicki and racing for QT2 Systems.  I also have made up a tentative early season plan which involves a Feb training camp in Claremont Florida,  a few running races and a April/May Ironman combo!  

and you may want to know where I was headed…..Out to San Francisco to be an Officiant at my cousins wedding and of course I couldn't resist the urge to find a race while out there! Because what better way to see a new place than by running a half marathon through the streets of Berkeley! I was happy to finish second in my age group! 

Love these beautiful ladies!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Dad This one is for you!!

Today I will race Ironman Mont Tremblant! This race was not on my list! I really want to target IM Wisconsin 6 weeks from now. But the week before IMLP my Dad went into hospital with respiratory issues. While I was racing IMLP I too was having my own issues and thought of my Dad alot. The day after Placid my mom told me my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer! Cancer, the horrid disease that  you cringe every time you hear someone has it. A few years ago I lost a dear friend to lung cancer and now I was getting the dreaded news that my dad was about to go through the same fight.
I quickly arranged for a flight to South Africa to visit with them. I will arrive on my dads birthday! Its been 2 years since I have seen them so it will be wonderful to see them again, even under these circumstances. We got the news last week that his cancer is an aggressive cancer that has spread rapidly in the last 6 months and on Monday he will start chemo and radiation.

The last 2 weeks I moped around. Coach Jesse had suggested me doing Mont Tremblant! I had no interest in training or racing! I know there a lot of amazing girls racing and they are all trying to get valuable Kona points. So I went back and forth with Coach Jesse that perhaps it would be a good option as I have hopefully sorted out my breathing issues and it would be good to see if I could still race with my fitness from Lake Placid.
The days ticked by and by Thursday I still had decided that I just had no energy to race. It was going to be a long 9 hour drive to race and then an IM no easy task and then another 9 hour drive back to Jersey followed by a 20 hour plane trip to SA. Not sure I could handle it and everyone was telling me I was crazy to attempt it!

But somewhere along the lines I got to thinking about the Ironman journey and what it represents. To me it parallels life. I was frustrated by my moping! I was telling my Dad to be positive yet I was back here in the states distraught.

There is no better fight than an Ironman. It is a lot to comprehend. The distance of the day can be overwhelming. There are a lot of things that can go wrong but its all in how you to choose to handle them!
Today I will race for my DAD! I will race to show him the mind is an amazing thing. If you perceive that something is too big to handle it probably is...but if you take one day at a time, or in Ironman's case keep moving forward with a positive mind set the impossible can be achieved.  Its about fearing the unknown but trusting that it will all work out!! Its about controlling what you can and being rational about the things you can't control!!!

I race for HOPE and I race for strength! I will appreciate each moment and I will cheer as many of you on as I know we all have our own reasons for doing a race like this!  Never before have I wanted to just finish a race as much as this one!!! So for you Dad  I race! I will pray for you while I race and I will feed off the energy of all my friends out there!!! This race is not about time or place...its just about having fun..enduring...surrounding myself by like minded people. Its about stepping up to the challenge!
All the best to all of you racing today!
I found this snow globe that I got for  my daughter...but it will be a good reminder to appreciate life...what you have and live in the moment!!
Even as I am about to post this I fear failure  but I need to trust and believe I can do this no matter what!!! Number 26 I am ready!!!

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  ~Eleanor Roosevelt
Live in the moment!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Why do I race so much? IMLP 2013 Race Report

People ask? How and why do you race so much?
My Response: Because right now I can!!! Right now through a good coaching plan, I have been able bounce back and race in 3-4 weeks again if I choose as long as my body feels strong and I have no lingering pains that reside shortly after Ironman or during the race for that matter!
Now I am fully aware that this streak of racing I am on is not the norm! Lets face it...life gets in the way...injuries or crashes happen, or you burn out and need to take a mental break from it all! But while my body is strong I get to go and see and race in these beautiful places!

After my crash at the end of 2011 I was so disappointed by being taken out of the game that I rushed back as soon as I could to racing. I have raced non stop from Jan 2012 to now racing every 4-6 weeks because I could!!!
Since my comeback in Jan I raced IMSA 2012, IMLP Placing 3rd in 2012, IM NYC 2012 9th place 2012 IM COZ,IM Cabo 2103, IM BRAZIL 2013 11th, IMLP 8th place 2013! Add a whole string of 70.3's to that too!
Once again! Why not!
I have been healthy and Coach Jesse has got me to each start line feeling ready to race.

An Ironman is such a long race and so many things can happen along the way.
And those things have happened...I can list so may different things. But what I have learned is that I am strong and mentally I don't give up! I have only DNF'd one IM, actually only one race in my life. That was Ironman CDA and it felt awful. I remember lying on the ground crying in disbelief that I had been told that I was putting myself in harms way by running the last 10 miles!
I have always believed that it is so easy to quit. It's so easy when things get tough to just say NO I just can't do it today...but once you commit and refuse to give up you can do anything!
I go through those thoughts almost every Ironman. It might be in the water before I even started or even the night before when I am tossing and turning and get no sleep. Or on the bike when I have got a penalty or I am just feeling flat. Most common on the run when I might have stomach issues or am further behind than where I might like to be! But just like in life Ironman teaches you to persevere, to be a winner no matter what, to survive, to dig deep, to suffer, to appreciate what you have, to fight, to not take things to seriously when they not going your way. To cheer for others when its not your day, to love something, to work hard..to have faith, to trust in others!
What I get out of racing is a chance to test myself, my mental strength every time I step up to the plate!!!

Back to IMLP!
Beautiful Mirror Lake....Great energy the day before the race!

IMLP 2013 ended up being a tough day for me. But I had entered it just like I enter every other Ironman I have ever done thinking today might be the perfect race...a day when all the hard work in training comes together!
I arrived at the start line race morning a little apprehensive as I had not slept well the nights leading up to  the race and I got no sleep at all the night before the race. I desperately wanted to go into this race feeling fresh but it was not going to happen.  I try expect to not feel great race morning and I always put it behind me once I leave the house and head to the start. I had a quick prerace chat with Coach Jesse and was feeling good and ready! I was not nervous at all and headed into the water feeling calm. Once in the water I started my usual warmup only to find on the first sprint I did, I felt a wheeze to my chest. I could not believe I had heard it so I did a second sprint only to hear the rattle again. My chest was constricted and I could not believe or understood why? I was not feeling stressed or I did not feel like I was coming down with a cold so it was weird.

I put it behind me and actually forgot about it completely once the gun went off! I enjoyed the swim start! Having all the girls separate from the pro guys made for a fair swim. We all swam alongside each other and I managed to stay with the fast girls until the 4th buoy! I was hoping they would let up but they did not so I had to as the pace was too fast and I could not stay with them any longer. I managed to latch onto the feet of another girl who swam by me in an attempt to catch them. I stayed with her until 3/4 of the way through the first lap. That's when the faster age groupers caught up. It wasn't too heavy at first and as I came through the first loop I was at 30  minutes. A little slow I thought but then I realized that we were 3 min behind the men so this was actually a really fast split! 27 minutes?

The second loop got a little ugly as alot of age groupers were passing and we started catching the slower swimmers and it became a weaving game. I was also feeling very warm in my wetsuit! So much so that my second loop was 33 minutes....a full 5-6 minutes slower than the first loop! This set up is not suited for the female pro mid pack swimmer and I wish they could just start us pros well ahead of the age groupers to keep things clean! I would gladly start at 6.30 am and keep the age groupers at 7 if we could. That half an hour cushion would make all the difference in providing a fair race. My swim one hour flat!

Onto the bike and it was drizzling. I had hoped the rain would hold off until the bottom of the downhill bit it did not. I settled in quickly and was amazed at all the people around me. The first loop of Placid is usually quite lonely but there were many age groupers around. It was easy to go to hard but I stuck to my plan and hit the power perfectly! I was well aware though that I was working for my power. A few days earlier I had had one of the best rides in a long time where my legs felt fresh and fast and the heart rates were low and power great! But now it was taking huge concentration to be where I needed to be.
Over the course of the bike I worked harder to stay where I needed but was frustrated by the way I was feeling. I glanced at my heart rates a few times and was amazed that I was riding way to high of a heart rate for the effort I was putting in.

I can tell by my face here that I was not happy!
At the halfway point I was still on target. But the second loop my watts fell drastically and my heart rate continued to creep up. After the big downhill and onto the flats I was amazed once again by the shameless drafting going on. I really believe they should just make Ironman draft legal as athletes don't seem to have a conscience anymore about doing the right thing. After getting a penalty in Ironman Brasil I felt like I gave up time in Placid because when a big train of guys would pass me I just sat up, soft peddled and told them to all just go by. I spent much of the second loop riding in the middle of the lane to let the groups go by. By the last climb into town I felt like I had no energy. I had been prepared to attack these last 15 miles and instead I just had to ride them in. Bike was still solid at 5hr 31 minutes.

The moment I started running I was not feeling good at all. My breaths were shallow and I actually stopped by coach Jesse to tell him I was not feeling so good. He yelled at me that I was 9 min back from 3rd and in a great place and to get going. So off I went! But my breathing got shallower to the point that I started coughing and then hyperventilating as I was having an asthma attack! I could not take a deep breath. This was the third time this has happened in the last few weeks. It actually happened now that I think about it in IM Los Cabos too where I had a panic attack and could not catch my breath as I was so dehydrated. A race official stopped to see if I needed help but I said no and I was going to continue. So with tears running down my face and breathing like a freight train as I could not get any air in I just started running again. I was so upset that this was happening. I ran because my legs were not failing me...it was my lungs but if I really focused I could keep my breath shallow and just keep the pace steady.
I could not push at all but went through a few times over the marathon where I got the fire in my belly but was quickly reminded that while my legs felt ok my lungs were only going to give me so much!

To have a winning performance you need to be focused! I definitely lost my focus in the marathon. Or more so redirected my focus from wanting to have my best race in Lake Placid to just wanting to finish no matter what!  I thought of my dad alot who had gone into hospital a few days earlier who too was battling with lung issues.  I raced because I know how strong he has always been with dealing with emphasema and for him I wanted to finish!

I raced for the young girl I saw on the Mirror Lake beach the day before who looked like she had recently had her leg amputated. I admired her strength, her courage and her ability to stand on the beach smiling with her husband. Whatever she was dealt with she was up there supporting him and standing tall! I dont know her but I raced for her!
I raced for my kids! My daughter the night before had told me that I must remember that no matter where I finish she is just so proud of me for always being able to finish and she loves me no matter what place I end up with!
I finished because although my lungs were burning my legs were fit and strong!
Big thanks to Charlie Abraham for the lovely pictures!
My beautiful QR CD01 that fits and rides perfectly!
Big thanks to Joan and Sabrina my thoughtful homestay girls!

Thanks to Powerbar! This quote I read the day before kept me going on the run too!

Lake Placid was my first Ironman I ever did. 11 hours flat and my first Kona qualifier as an age grouper. I have had a 3rd, 3x5th place, a 6th place and now an 8th place finish here. My journey's have all been different and I have loved them all! Its a race I strongly recommend everyone do at least once!
Thank you Coach Jesse from Qt2 Systems, PowerBar, Quntana Roo, Normatec Recovery Boots, Zone diet, Blue Seventy, Rudy Project!

I kept going as I knew when I headed back into town I would get to see so many friends and hear so many cheers on the course that it would energize me and get me through the tough times.  For all those who cheered I am thankful for your support out there!