Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Is it time yet?

I'm really going nuts. This off-season is never ending. All I want to do is RACE!!!! I feel like it's been so long since I've had the go-ahead to just Go Faaaaaaaast!!!! I am beginning to feel a bit like a caged animal.
I have lived in Maine most of my life. Winter doesn't bother me at all. It's part of the drill here. Spring arrives and we all feel hope. We crave the warm air, the melting snow, the longer days and thoughts of summer. And eventually, we have summer..... a little bit. The grass turns green, the flowers blossom, the lakes are warm enough to swim sans wetsuit, we play at the beach, sleep at camp, wish for it to go on and on. But before we know it, the leaves turn vibrant amazing colors, the air is crisp and refreshing, and the kids go back to school.
Those days also mean the end of Tri season to many of us. My 2009 season ended with a Bang. I celebrated my Ironman year with a long long run down the Queen K to the spectacular and indescribable finish line on Ali'i Drive. Beautiful.
And that was it. Nada. Done. Over. YOU MUST STOP ANGE!
I tell go from double Ironman training in one summer to tough.
After sitting around for way too long feeling bad about the stress fractured foot, I am back. I'm fine. I can run. I can swim. And yes, I bike.
But I really want to race.
I want to go faster.
And yet, I can't. Not yet. It's not time. October to......May? That's too long for me. But it's what I've got.
I was swimming this morning. I was pushing some 250s so hard that my arms were aching. I was celebrating that feeling. I love the feeling of pain that I bring on myself. Pain that is making me stronger. Faster.
My extra long break in running is forcing me to sit back and be patient. I am allowing myself to fully regroup. To regain my fitness one step at a time.
It's hard to be patient. I'm not happy about this. But it is what's right.
And so I wait. And Train. And Plan.
So watch out. When this animal gets loose it's all over.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Does there need to be a Reason??

Earlier today, I read a passage. It was written by someone curious about Ironman. She is struggling to understand the why. What is the drive behind it? Why do we subject ourselves to countless hours of training, constant consideration of our food intake, extraordinary fatigue, fights with injuries, to have it all culminate in a 140.6 mile race that is sure to involve much suffering and pain. It can't be all about the temporary high at the finish line...or can it?
I haven't stopped thinking about this since I read it this morning.
Why do I do this?
And then I realized. I don't have to have a reason. Do I? Is it necessary for me to justify why I love something.
I have moved away from simply considering the Ironman journey to thinking about all triathlon races. Ironman is the Papa Bear of the endurance tests I will embark upon but this way of life involves all the races.
If all the athletes I knew wrote this same post...they would likely all have different responses. You see, we all have our own reasons. On paper, some are more inspiring than others. To each individual however, any reason is enough. It is all it takes. One reason.
I am an athlete. I am a competitor. I am a hard working and motivated woman who loves to push herself beyond where I once thought possible. I thrive on setting goals just above where they once were and fighting to reach them. And to me, those goals involve sport.
Triathlon keeps me healthy, fit and strong. I motivate my children. My boys call me strong. Here's a funny quote from my 5 y.o.. "Daddy, will you carry me upstairs?" M-"I don't know Nick...." N,"Am I too heavy? Ok, Mommy you can do it." Now of course, I am not as strong as my husband but in my little one's eyes, I am an Ironman and therefore I can do anything. He tells me this daily. Hard to beat that.
I am teaching my kids to set goals and do what it takes to reach them. Even if it hurts. Even if you suffer and want to quit. Keep going. And daily, I teach them to eat right and why that is important in their own lives. At their young ages, they get it. Of course,they love cookies just like their Mom but they also know why they need carbs And protein with their meals and what happens if they eat fast food too often. Among other things.

But you know what? Most of the time it's much simpler than that. My reasons don't involve anyone else. Just me.
I. just. love. it.
I love to sweat. ( you hear people say sometimes,'it's hard to exercise because I dont' like to sweat.') Come ON! Take a shower! I love to sweat. I love to run and run and run until I have forgotten how far I have gone or how far I have left to go. I love to pull in the driveway from a hard 50 mile ride, toss the bike to the side, pull on the run shoes and hammer up the hill for another hard 5 miles and feel amazing. It's empowering.
It feels good to work hard. That's it. You put all that together into a race with competition and what more can I ask for? It's what makes me happy. It makes me, me. period.
Is this selfish? I don't think so. I do believe that it is ok for mothers to have personal enjoyment in addition to being the caretaker of the family. Should I be thankful that my family supports me? Absolutely. And you know what, I support them too. We all have things we do that we love and when it's their turn, I am there for them. These are the things that make us who we are.

I rarely hear this question posed to people with other hobbies. Have you ever heard anyone say, "But why do you like to make quilts?" "Why do you enjoy golfing?" "What do you get out of snowmobiling?" It's FUN! Hopefully we all participate in our hobbies because they give us pleasure.
Why is Triathlon so questioned? Is it just my perception? Am I creating this in my head? Is it because one might have to suffer...or push past a level of comfort?
what do you think?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Making my way back

November 1st was the day I realized something was wrong with my foot. I stopped running. A few days later my orthopaedist confirmed that my pain couldn't be anything but a stress fracture. Bad news.

But the Good news was I had two other sports I could focus on. That's the cool thing about Triathlon. Of course I really wasn't too excited about my bike yet since I had just endured the Queen K oven ride a few weeks before.

So it was all about the pool. I have been focused on swimming swimming swimming. I have worked so hard to fit swims in the past few months. I wake up at 4:30 a.m. or I drive 1 hour in a snowstorm on a Saturday morning just so I can swim with some friends at a Masters practice. Worth it? Absolutely!!!! I'm even swimmming 5 days this week!!!! Since there is no pool in my town...that is very rare. I think back to when I first started triathlon. Finding a place and time to swim was the big hurdle. The pool I use opened later back then. Those first few years, I only had 30 minutes to swim twice a week!!! I think I did about 4-5000 yards/week! I can't believe it.

I dove in the pool yesterday (shhhh...not supposed to dive...but the guard wasn't looking and I knew I wouldn't hit the bottom. It makes it Much easier to get in the cold water that way..) and felt so good. I felt 'normal.' I felt like a swimmer. My arms were loose and I could grab the water. My stroke didn't wobble from side to side. Back in HS and College when I was practicing two times/day, 6 days/week.....I had special feel for the water. That is how I look at it. Occasionally, I get that feel back. I have it now and I am loving it. I'm not that much faster yet, but I know I will be. It's going to be a good year.

But the reality is...Triathlon is not all about swimming. Not even close. But it is my secret weapon. It is my strength. Sure, I can ride fairly well and run pretty well too...but I can swim even better. I constantly hear this, "Nobody wins a triathlon on the swim." I hear that, and I laugh a sinister laugh. I'll leave it at that.

Since swimming is Not the only's time to refocus on the other two. Running is coming along. Slowly slowly slowly but surely. And that is ok. It's not time for speed yet. We all love to feel the speed but it's not time. It's January. Patience. I will have patience.'s fine. I guess. I'm on my trainer like the rest of the athletes in the Northeast. I work hard when I need to work hard and I spin when I need to spin. I do the time. I'm a firm believer in Nike's words: Just Do It. When it comes to the bike these days..I JUST DO IT!

In the water, I put my head down and savor the soundless workout. The sloshing of the water in my ears and the sound of my own breathing. I watch my hand entry and pull and concentrate on efficiency and strength. I concentrate on power. I think about the middle 10 minutes of a Half Ironman swim and find that pace. I envision my competitors in the one pool race I get to enjoy each spring. I'm finding that old swimmer within me again. That's right. At age 40. Bring. It. On.

When I run I feel each step. I feel the muscles in my legs getting used. I enjoy the cold air making my eyes water. I hear myself breathing in a rhythmic manner and smile to the point of tears because I am OUT THERE again!! Injuries are tough..they hurt and they slow us down. But for those of us who truly find their souls through sport it can be disabling. It can eat away at your heart and your confidence and cause you to change. I started to loose sight of myself while I was injured. Sport is not my family is my true life. But I am part of that family and because of my sport, I can stay centered in myself. I run to race and to stay fit but running is also my time. It's therapeutic like nothing else to me. I have it back. And that feels great.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Forever young

I survived turning 40. Turns out, I was the same 'me' when I got up that day. The day itself was pretty good!! The first part of the day was pretty normal. I got up early and hopped on my bike. Jen had a 40 minute ride for me. (it was a 40-themed day.) I was just happy it wasn't 40 miles. Not long ago, that was a short ride. Now...not so much. Note the handy TV helps fight boredom. After that, I just got the kids ready for school. They all gave me birthday hugs and my 5 year old assured me that I wasn't old and shriveled up just yet. He crinkled his nose and said, " can Still do the Same Stuff!!!" Yes, Nick, I can. And I will.

The boys were at school all day so I filled my day with more training!!! Of course! I enjoyed a 40 minute run. While out there I heard "Forever young" by Rod Stewart. I do love that song. It seemed appropriate that day. Even if it is about your kids moving off..... After that, wouldn't you know, it was a 40 minute ride to the pool. Now comes the real fun! I hit the water for 40x100. To my surprise, it went by pretty fast. I felt strong. I worked hard and savored the fact that I can still crank out 4000+ yards in the pool without blinking an eye. Not bad.....for a 40 year old. See...I think that's the problem with 40. That's it. It's not that I am out of shape and old, it's that people think of 40 as "old." Those of us who are 35 and up do not...but those younger do. From now on, instead of just being young and in my 30s, I have to Prove that even though I'm 40, I can still rock.

Mark did me a favor and picked the boys up from school and took them to their haircut and then to shop...for dinner. I had 3 hours AlONE in the house after I got home. Strange. It was quiet and I enjoyed it but once 5 p.m. hit I wanted them Home!! Here's a photo (albeit blurry) of them playing in the snow with the cats looking on.They headed out after they got home so mark could bake a cake and steam the Lobsters!! It was a fun evening. They spoiled me. I don't have a picture...but they all made me very sweet little cards. That's my favorite part each year.

Here's my cake. If you look closely you can see the 4-0 in the candles.

Mid-dinner Nicholas decided way too much lobster juice was running down his arms. He was itchy. So he just left the table and took a shower! Cracked me up.

The next night we went out to dinner with the kids, my parents and Mark's parents. We had fun. For some reason, all the pictures were blurry this time. more birthday!! Mark's 40th is on Friday. Yes, we are only 7 days apart!! We'lll celebrate at home on Friday. But on SAturday---it's party hat time! We dragged our feet but decided to go out after all. We hollered at a bunch of friends and got a hotel room down in Portland. We'll spend a fun evening out with friends from High School, College, and from our current lives... we can't wait.
Now it's time to get on with Training!!
I took too long to upload those pictures. It's time for me to cook dinner. Sorry for the boring post.
more soon!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Birthday Week

Here it is. Age 40 hits me on Friday. I think I'm almost ready for it. Almost.

I decided to write out 40 little tidbits you may or may not know about me......
  1. I still call my Mom and Dad for advice....about anything. And I always listen carefully.
  2. When I was born, my Dad was in Vietnam. He first laid eyes on me when I was 6 months old.

  3. I love running in the pouring rain.

  4. I lived in Southern California when I was 22...alone.

  5. Home is my favorite place. After that, Wolf Neck (cottage on the ocean) is where I want to be.

  6. I went to UVM for my undergraduate degree.

  7. I went to Northeastern University to earn my Graduate degree.

  8. Two of my three children spent time in the Neonatal intensive care unit...

  9. I had surgery immediately following the birth of my first son & because it was successful, I was able to have more children.
  10. My 3rd son was born prematurely with an emergency C-section.

  11. I hate shopping unless there is something I specifically need. And then I make it quick.
  12. I rarely get manicures.
  13. I would rather go for a run.

  14. Unfriendly people drive me nuts.

  15. I am very loyal.

  16. I can't stand to empty the dishwasher but I don't mind vacuuming.

  17. I want to learn to play the drums & be in a rock band. Or, the play piano.

  18. I love singing and dancing......right boys?

  19. I have blonde hair for's never been colored.

  20. My best events in college swimming were the 200fly and 200IM but my favorite events were always the relays.

  21. I love to sweat and work to the point of total exhaustion. To me, that feels good.

  22. I had skin cancer.
  23. When I was 25, a guy got out of his car, ran ahead to mine, and asked me out on a date while we were stopped at a red light.
  24. I've had surgery 6 times. Two of those were injuries I incurred from biking and running.

  25. I'm afraid of heights. I sometimes have to close my eyes and pray while I'm on the chairlift with my kids.

  26. Don't ever tell me I can't do something unless you want me to prove you wrong.

  27. I have an eye for photography.

  28. I think I might be a bit stubborn.

  29. I'm very emotional but rarely cry in front of others.

  30. There are several people who are no longer in my life that I miss very much.

  31. I'm 100% ok with the fact that I don't have a daughter....and yet sometimes I feel overwhelmingly outnumbered!

  32. I was more worried about leaving my kids to travel half way around the world than I was to actually race in Kona.

  33. I'm very proud of myself for becoming an Ironman this year. Twice.

  34. Sometimes I regret not getting that Nutrition degree or sticking with Physical Therapy when I was in college.

  35. I could never live more than an hour from the ocean.

  36. I am obsessed with good nutrition and yet I'll rarely turn down a cookie.

  37. I love learning new things.
  38. I was lost in the Badlands, South Dakota when I was 22. I was with 3 people. We were truly lost and I was sure we'd end up as a Reader's Digest story about the 'lost hikers.'
  39. I worry every single day whether or not I'm beign a good Mom to my three boys.
  40. I'm about to be 40 and I'm just as fit and strong as I was at age 20. In fact, I just might be stronger and more fit. I'm ready for 40 more years. Make that 50.