Week 3

Those of you that have been on the triathlon journey with me for a while, know that week 3 of a new training plan is often a sign of how the rest of the training plan is going to go.

It’s that point where things start to break down and I miss training. Often blamed on my work schedule. While the traveling road show that is my professional life does make it hard to swim, bike, run – I am a planner by profession and when I focus I can do a damn good job planning in my personal life. So, this time around I have decided not to let the traveling be an excuse. I purposefully set aside time in week 3 to focus on the training plan and keep my goals in check.

Then a gem showed up in my inbox, Thank You Hannah Brencher!

“You are not going to punk out at mile 3 and write yourself an ending to this story that isn’t true. You’re going to finish.”

Mile 3 is a reference to a New Year’s run that I’ve done in Central Park for the last few years. It starts at midnight. You run the loop of the park at the stroke of the New Year. There are fireworks. It’s a 4-mile race.

If you are not a seasoned runner then you start to get tired at mile 3. Mile 3 is where you begin huffing and puffing. My friends and I who have run this race before and we know that mile 3 is actually the best mile mark because it’s where the sparkling apple cider in little Dixie cups is waiting for you.

You stop. You cheers one another. You say Happy New Year to the people passing out the Dixie Cups and you keep going because you know the real truth: you are going to make it. You are going to finish. You are capable.

Cheers friends! To whatever your mile 3 looks like. There’s a fire inside and a place you need to be, don’t give up.

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The Opener

Hello Friends!

I hope 2017 finds you well. Life has been full of a lot of change. Some of it intentional and some of it is just holding on for roller coaster we call life. I went silent on this space purposefully. I wasn’t ready to put my goals and potential failures “out there” but I found a new perspective along the way.

I started the 2017 Tri season with the St. Anthony’s Olympic Distance at the end of April. It came and went and I don’t want to dwell. The swim was a washing machine but I nailed it for me, the bike was windy and scary and I couldn’t get out of my own way, the run was an amazing accomplishment for me. I’ll take 2 outta 3 and happily move on.

The Crew at St. Anthony’sIMG_6155.JPG

The Huzz decided working out with me is fun again. So since January we have been hitting up the pavement running and riding together during the week and on the weekends. It has changed our relationship for the better and I it was wonderful to see him on the race course in St. Petersburg. It has also caused us to re-evaluate our professional lives. So, I took the 2 months after St. A’s off from structured tri training to work on the rest of my life. I know, I know, not the way you want to start your season but I knew something had to give. During May and June, after many months of too much screen time, I got intentional and so did the Huzz. We embraced the mantra “aimee the unicorn” and began to shed the things we didn’t need. (See this amazing Ted Talk for the backstory).

Trip to the KeysIMG_6271.JPG

Exploring The Real Florida

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With a better balance – and more support to keep it that way! – I can happily say I’ve returned to more structured training. Coach and I working toward a solid Miami Man in November and after much talking, debating, and closing my eyes and jumping, I am taking on another 70.3 in May of 2018! Cheers Friends!

The first 70.3 Finish – Yes, there were tears!

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Movement

After 6 weeks of minimal activity, lots of iron supplements, and more steak than I consumed before going veggie I am finally getting energy back.

This week was about moving and in the process I tested my limits. While I know there is a long road ahead to get back to swimming, biking, running and strength training twice a day six days a week, it felt good to move again.

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First Run Back

My goal is to move a little more each week without causing my progress to go backward. I survived this week with a 1/2 mile swim, a 3 mile run/walk and 4 two mile walks with the pup. The swim and run pushed me to the edge so I am planning to drop the swim next week. But! That won’t stop me from being ecstatic about no more “couch arrest!!”

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The other German joined us for our nightly walk 

Around the Sun

Today you are you! That is Truer than True! There is no one alive who is you-er than you! ~ Dr. Seuss

This past weekend I began my 33rd Revolution Around the Sun. It was celebrated just the way I like it, with immediate family, the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, and Pancakes for breakfast. The Huzz did an amazing job on my present, my mom forgave me for cancelling her birthday celebration (long story, don’t ask), and my dad…well we drank wine and coffee and laughed uncontrollably.

The rents

As I sat down to catch up this Monday, still recovering from the weekend, I came across the latest Hannah Brencher post and I realized I was guilty. Sooooo, guilty. Not of breaking the Chemex, thankfully. Dad would murder me in my sleep (I kid folks!) But of not putting it all out there. I realized the last time I had posted was my last long workout – three weeks ago.

What you haven’t seen lying under the surface and at the edges was my health. A few weeks ago, I felt off. Given the nasty germs roaming around the office, I assumed I was coming down with a cold. Two weeks later “off” was still hanging around and I was sleeping like a newborn (i.e. constantly) I fought the bad thoughts for a few days but I just knew something wasn’t right. I would come home from work and collapse on the couch, wake up, walk to the bedroom, and sleep again. Only to wake up and feel like I could continue to sleep for hours.

Bella cat napWe catch zzz’s together.

I pulled the trigger and called the Doc for an appointment where I begged for a blood test. Clinic squeezed me in and two days later – “significant” Iron Deficiency. What does that even mean in medical terms, significant??! I took bio, o-chem, A&P, worked in more than one doc’s office, and I don’t ever remember that being in the Merck’s Manual!

I digress…Apparently an Iron Deficiency is different than being anemic and common in athletes – especially women. I’m not going to pretend that I understand all the moving pieces. What I do know is that my body is running on empty. They tell me my red blood cells are too small, there isn’t enough oxygen in my blood, and my heart is working overtime to keep up.

So my dreams of 70.3 have been put on hold. I am only allowed to work out when I have the energy – which I definately do not right now. And I’m learning to pick myself up and dust myself off. This part, isn’t pretty. I look healthy on the outside and even those closest to me forget. It has become comical actually, “why aren’t you….oh, right.” Cue downward gaze. But you know what? Sometime life isn’t pretty. Sometimes getting to the start line takes more than one try. Sometimes you have to fall down to get back up again. And sometimes we need to cut the crap and stop pretending.

So here is me, not pretending. My birthday was damn awesome considering where my health is. I am paying for it – with an early bed time and beet & spinach smoothies. But I’m not sure that I would trade it. That girl that had her war paint on in the last post? She’s still here. And she will rise from the ashes just like the phoenix that inspires her to take on another start line on another day. In the meantime, here’s to keeping it real…

Here you can be anything. I think that scares you.” ~ Jimmy Eat World

M and IThis guy! I wouldn’t make it through this without him.

Tiffany'sBrownie Points for Life!

EspressoReliving our Trip to Italy

Epcot

 

Rising from the Ashes

I’m well into training for my first 70.3 and it has brought with it a lot of firsts, a lot of surprises, and many moments were I grit my teeth and grind it out.

The weather in the Sunshine State has been miserable. I know many of my Northern friends will tell me to shut my mouth but, the constant deluge has been a little rough. Last week I rode the trainer the 3 hours watching the rain streak down the windows and I couldn’t help but think “how do my Ironman distance friends in snow states do it?”

When I think about the journey triathlon has taken me on I can’t help but hear my rallying song:

“Put on your war paint…strike a match and I’ll burn you to the ground…setting fire to the sky…then I’ll raise you like a phoenix”

There have been many work outs the past few weeks where I put on my war paint and ended stronger and better than when I left the house. There a muscles forming I didn’t know I had. Hello, Calves!  Along with a mental grit I never thought I would find. I’m not sure why I’m just now finding this side of me but, I really don’t mind. I like this person that’s shining through the sunburn, sand and salt.

The best part about her? She’s with me all the time.

OWSOWS – There were actually waves!

dolphin swim

We got to swim with the dolphins

run shoes 2Ran through another pair

Sanibel bridge repeatsBridge Repeats on the Monster

Trainer Ride 3I now understand how people can binge watch NetFlix

Making it Official

It has been far too long since I posted. I promise I haven’t been a couch potato.

Half way through 2015, I’m looking back and thinking “Wow, that went fast!” The economy in Southwest Florida is turning around, which means the office is busier and I’m working way more than I should to stay afloat. But I won’t cry and whine about it because its time something positive happened in our region – and no one would listen anyway!

Connect Takes MiamiConnect Florida Takes Miami

NassauWeekend in Nassau, Bahamas

I have been training while I have been silent. I didn’t train through the entire winter like I had planned but I did refocus in February with a run, cycle, lift program to get myself back in gear and be sure I was building slooooooowly and listening to my body. I didn’t register for a race, just took each day at a time and really focused on my hamstring, knee and getting things where I wanted. The months have flown by, little by little my run splits are getting faster, my bike times are still hovering in the same range but I am able to ride longer and longer each week. And my balancing act on the Bosu ball has become so routine I’ve started adding weights and mixing up the leg work out. In short I felt good and saw progress – which means there is a stupidly large grin on my face.

Trainer RidesMy Christmas present to myself has come in handy

As I look at the calendar with only a few months left of triathlon “season” in Florida its time to share my racing goals on the interwebs and make them official.

As my tri-sistas wound down their training with the Naples Triathlon earlier this month, many of them started looking at their next race. We’ve been strength training, gossiping, cocktailing, laughing, and trying to decide what our next challenge will be. As July 4th quickly approaches, we’ve made the commitment as a team to race the Challenge Family Venice Beach (Florida)race in November. At the peer pressure of my Tri Sistas and in support of my own goals and dreams, I threw myself into a 20 week training program for the 70.3 course. Most of the training I’ve been doing since February was geared toward this goal anyway. Since my body is telling me in can handle it, again I find myself thinking What the Hell!

Running in Ponte VedraRunning in Ponte Vedra during a work conference

Its been 4 weeks since the training program started and I’m in the middle of week 5. My running on some days feels like there are concrete blocks attached to my feet and I’m tired but I’m keeping up and seeing small amounts of progress so I’m determined to keep going. I know that this will be my greatest triathlon challenge. I also know that with my Tri Sistas by my side I will do more than just finish. I am anxious and excited at what the rest of the summer and fall hold. I am also extremely thankful that I have gotten to the point where I am seeing uninjured progress again!

Tri SistasLOVE! my TriSistas

A look back to move forward

It’s that time of year again. The one where we all take a look around and make a list what we like and what we want to change and smile to ourselves about the great adventures we’ve had.

I started my reflection early this year. You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been a bit more absent in my triathlon/endurance posts lately. It’s for a good reason, I promise. I don’t talk about my personal/professional life much beyond its link to my triathlon/endurance adventures but I’m going to change paces for this post.

2014 was a life changing year for me. As of January 1, 2014, I became not just the Planning Director but a Partner in my firm. I am one of the few women in my profession that have accomplished this at such a young age and it took a lot of guts for me to jump off that cliff. I should probably use the word confidence but I’m actually still working on myself in that department. The decision to do this did not come easy, there were a lot of factors to consider – including the fact that my husband works for a competing firm. But in the end, we decided together it was the best option, for both of us.

In February, I traveled to Tallahassee to participate in Connect Florida’s Day at the Capital. I was nervous, attending the event by myself and unsure of what the weekend would hold. I threw myself into the experience, meeting as many people as I could and talking to them about their experiences with Connect Florida. After 2 days, I was hooked. I remember that evening pacing around the Capital talking to M on the phone, excited, animated, spilling my words out so they ran together. It had been a long time since I had that feeling. Those of you that know me professionally now how passionate I am about “homegrown” economic development and urban planning, the belief that communities can change their situations by focusing on their strengths. Well, I finally found an organization that believes the same thing in its young population. It’s not the older more experienced generation that will change the great Sunshine State but the younger (and sometimes just as established) professionals with the different ideas that will. I was infected after that weekend and set to work on my application right away. In the summer, I learned I had been accepted to the 2014-2015 class! We had our first session in Jacksonville in October. It was intense, we would start at noon on Friday and not stop till noon on Sunday.Connect Florida

Our second session in December was in Tampa. I continued to get to know my classmates as well as the issues affecting the state and the region. This time there was also a deliberate focus on involvement and giving back in the local community – something clicked. I had been working over the past year to adjust the organizations I volunteer with but it became more urgent after my weekend in Tampa. I got to work. Rather than wait for 2015 to begin, I finalized my plans. My focus has shifted from supporting my professional goals to supporting my community. In 2015, I will be part of the ULI Young Professionals Organization – which close ties to my alma mater, the Gulf Coast Humane Society – our local no kill shelter, and the FGCU alumni association. I am excited to get to work, meet new people, and take on new challenges.

In the spring, I reconnected with my high school best friend. After finishing my coursework in college way back when, I took off to Australia for a semester, just for kicks. During that time Dwyer’s mom was having serious health problems and the two of us fell out of touch. I had tried a few times over they years to track her down again but wasn’t successful until this year. I remember that first e-mail and phone call, it was like time hadn’t passed at all. We still enjoyed the same things, still finished each other sentences, and still laughed till our sides hurt. Somewhere along the way I mentioned that I wanted to run a half marathon and she  wanted to tackle her second. Over the next few months, we kept each other updated on training through social media, texts, and phone calls. Finally on November 16, 2014 I made it. After three previous unsuccessful attempts, I finally made it to the start line of a half marathon, ran the entire way with my bestie, and we crossed the finish line together.

Finished St. A

group pic

Just three days after finishing the half marathon, I finally got to take my honeymoon, we were only 5 years late! M and I spent 10 days, without work phone calls or emails, in Italy over Thanksgiving. Fabulous doesn’t even begin to describe our journey. I have wanted to travel to Italy since 2004 and for one reason or another just hadn’t been able to make it happen. We walked an average of 10 miles a day, with a few days over 13. We were exhausted every night and never really adjusted to the time change but it was phenomenal!

miami

madonna

florence

We spent the last year saving time off to take this trip and decided we wanted to take more advantage of 3 or 4 days weekends to travel and explore. We are starting 2015 with a trip to Destin, FL for the 30A Song Writers Festival. The line-up has been announced and I am so excited! February will bring us to Nashville to celebrate a dear friends birthday and kick our heels up to more great music. Then in March we are traveling for a week with my family to Utah to see M’s family. His brother recently had a baby boy that we haven’t had a chance to meet yet and of course, I can’t go that close to the mountains without hitting the slopes. Winter will be a whirlwind and makes me more excited to see what spring and summer hold.

The only New Years “Resolution” I haven’t already been able to reach and resolve is the one where I balance work and life better. Each year, multiple times a year, I hit the restart button and adjust the balance of work, home, and play. I do really well for a couple of weeks/months and then inevitably something happens at the office and I spiral downward. M and I have spent a lot of time thinking/talking about this, as he suffers the same affliction. We don’t have a perfect plan in place but we are working on it together. Moving furniture around, making a home office with space for both us and purchasing additional workout equipment so we can reach our varying goals together. Will we slip and fall with this one?? Maybe, but we’ll be together

St Augustine Half Marathon

Well faithful readers, I swear I haven’t forgotten you. I’ve just been enjoying life.

You’ve heard that I raced a half marathon in November. Here’s how I made it!

The Short Version: My bestie and I were at the start line of the St Augustine Half Marathon on November 16th. We ran the entire race together and crossed the finish line arm in arm a few hours later. I admit there were tears but they were from overwhelming joy and it was fantastic.

St Augustine

The Less Short Version: Dwyer and I lined up at the start line of the St Augustine Half Marathon. It was tense for me. We literally found our places at the at start line as the gun went off. It took me a little while to work out the jitters but a few strides in, I found the 11min/mile pacer and focused on staying with her. It was slower than I wanted to run and slower than my training sessions but it helped me calm my nerves and settle in. Dwyer and I ran like this for over half the race. I felt great and was kept thinking, “Holy Crap! I am actually doing this!”

The halfway point of the race was at the bottom of a bridge. I was hoping to take a short walk break, suck down some water and a gel. However as we came down the bridge, past the race dj, and around the water stop I heard it. Dwyer lives in Tally and St. Augustine isn’t that far of a drive. So, her compadres drove in to cheer us on. Complete with a portable stereo playing Eye of the Tiger on repeat. Did you know, Eye of the Tiger will fit on a regular CD 11 times in row? I couldn’t help but laugh and smile from ear to ear as I heard the sounds of Survivor and then a bunch of adults having a scream-a-long. It was even better when they got in the car and followed us as we climbed back up the bridge.

We continued on an average 11 pace until mile 10. At that point I tried to convince Dwyer to talk a few walk breaks at the end of each mile simply for the mental break. She was not having it. I love her dearly but by mile 12 I needed to take a minute and shake the demons. So I did. I didn’t let her get too far ahead of me, the visions of the two of us crossing the finish line together still dancing in my head. Then we hit the last bridge. Dwyer is fantastic at climbing and I was great at racing down the bridges so we kept each other on track even though we would split up a little bit ascending, until the last bridge. She hauled up that thing and down the other side before I could even think.

Finished St. A

Unfortunately, she over did it and I found her sitting on the sidewalk on the other side. After a little pep talk and a few test steps she decided she wasn’t going to walk it in. So we slowed down and ran it in together. Finishing just the way I had envisioned – arm and arm, smiling ear to ear and laughing to another scream-a-long to Eye of the Tiger. OK, so maybe I hadn’t envisioned it in exactly that way but I wouldn’t change it either. Dwyer is good, no long-term injuries or damage and is considered another half soon.

Me and Dwyer

I seriously considered signing up for another half marathon immediately after. There’s a local half in the Fort in March. But sitting where I am right now, I am glad I didn’t. I needed a break and I took it. The huzz and I have been working on the house, traveling, actually spending time together – you know stuff married people do. It took awhile but I think my battery is finally recharged and I’m looking toward new goals and new adventures.

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Paradise Coast International

Well race day came and went. I am happy to report I finished! And thanks to the very small race and age group I got some hardware! It has been almost a week since the race and I’ve had some time to settle in from the day and receive a lot of feedback about the result. So on to my recap.

Paradise Coast

Sunday at 4:00 am my alarm started blaring. I was very happy when I realized it had jolted me awake since I had been counting bicycle spokes since around 1am when I just. could. not. get back to sleep! By 4:50 I was packed up, fueled up and on the road to Naples for packet pick up and transition set up. I realized upon arrival that this would be a very small race as there were only 8 bike racks and I was instantly OK with that. Every race I have completed since starting this crazy sport of triathlon has been what I would consider to be large with the smallest being 800 people. I had been looking forward to this smaller and local race. Hoping, it would give me a chance to meet people, connect with some new training partners, and have a good time. At 6:30, I realized the race was going to be even smaller than I thought. None of the bike racks were full and only a handful of triathletes were standing by the water’s edge. The remaining bikes belonged to the duathletes and that made me even more excited.

At this point, I had made some friends and as we stood at the water’s edge we were all wondering, where exactly was the swim course? The race was held at Sudgen Park which has a large lake in the middle. From the race website, we were supposed to do one loop around the edge of the lake for 1600 meters. But the sun was up and there were no buoys to be seen. Turns out there was some kind of problem anchoring them so we were just going to swim from one side of the lake and back. Twice. Under the permanent swim zone buoys. WTF was the only phrase that ran through my head. Planning things is my day job – that part of my personality is obsessive compulsive and doesn’t deal well with change. Upon hearing the news about the swim, my planner side took over and immediately threw a fit. Thankfully, one of my acquaintances, Michael Krisher saw I was having a mental freak out and started asking me random questions to distract me. Looking back it was quite comical and ridiculous on my part. The swim is my most comfortable event and I’m capable of swimming across a 25yd pool and back in one breath, surely I could swim under the buoys that marked the swim zone. The gun went off shortly after and I took off. I hung with the initial group of guys for quite awhile. It wasn’t until I had trouble siting that I started to lag behind – zig zagging really doesn’t help keep your time down. Thankfully it was the last lap of the swim so I just muscled through it. I was in and out of transition relatively quickly and off on the bike.

The bike course had only been posted for a week before the race. Once I noticed it had 4 u turns in it I got so focused on my sub-par handling skills I didn’t notice the roads we would be traveling on. Sudgen Park is in an area of Naples/Collier County that is under development, there are lot of Master Planned Communities witnessing a second construction boom. The race director had worked it out so that we would be riding through many of these communities. When I realized this I got excited as two of the projects we went through had landscape designs by my husband. Then I got grumpy – it also meant we were riding through active constructions zones. Guess who has two thumbs and got a flat? This girl! Immediately a number of explicates ran through my head, but I got off the bike and got to work changing it. Looking back I am very glad Coach Pat spent an entire Summer drilling tire changing into our heads. I didn’t complete the task quickly but I got it done and was off again. I rode my heart out in the hopes that I would catch somebody but it was tough. I felt like someone was standing over me with a leaf blower in my face. Oh. My. God. The wind! I hated every moment of it but I kept saying Jodi’s mantra over and over again: The wind makes me strong, the wind is my friend. Finally the course exited Lely and made it back to US 41 where the course crossed 41 – to finish the ride on the grass and sidewalk adjacent to 41 back toward the park. Another WTF moment. I have no idea what anybody was thinking there…another group of explicatives ran through my mind. But it was out of my control so I tried to let it go. I headed off through transition as fast as my legs would carry me and I was off on the run.

roofing nailTire change practice from last year

As you know from my last post, I had been dreading the run. I spent the entire run remembering a comment I received on my last post (Thank you Erin!) and I made a deal with myself – to believe that I could do this and to keep moving forward. It was slow and MF’ing hot but I did it. The run course was two loops so the first loop went by rather quick, I recognized a lot people so there were high fives, smiles, etc to keep me moving. The second loop was just lonely and MF’ing hot – have I mentioned that? So in addition to repeating my mantras outloud I decided to see how much wildlife I could spot. A squirrel, a German shepherd mix, and a Belgian malinois later I needed a new plan. So I just starting signing out loud. The guys at the water station probably thought I needed a Med tent but I didn’t care. It got me through.

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Thank you body for carrying me through this journey

Three and a half hours later I was finally finished. I was happy and frustrated at the same time. I had completed the race and I was uninjured! I wasn’t even limping slightly from the run! But I had gotten a flat and my finishing time wasn’t where I wanted it to be. Krisher was already at the finish line cheering and with a supportive word, which almost brought me to tears since this was my first race completely on my own. After seeing the time on the clock, I just went to transition to pack up. I figured even with such a small race there was no way I would get an award. I would just go to the award ceremony after to congratulate everyone. Then I heard my name over the loudspeaker. My immediate thought was Holy Sh!t and then the confusion set in. I ran over to pick up my award, turned around and saw a lot of familiar faces. Other triathletes I had met at club events, group trainings, etc came out to support the race and many of us in it. It was from their support and responses that I realize, while everything may not have gone as I planned, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t celebrate my accomplishments.

Paradise win

Beer Steins for the win!

I felt a lot of emotions at once but mostly I was excited, this was just the boost I needed. Like most athletes, I sent messages after the race, posted to social media, and called the family after the race. This race was extremely difficult for me, not just because of the training and conditions but also because my entire support team was some place else. My Tri Sistas were racing on Captiva Island, my parents were in Orlando with family, and my husband was in Colorado. When I contacted all of them, they were overly supportive and excited for me. Then the word got around others, people that I would describe as friends and some fellow triathletes. That’s where the doubt crept in. It seems that there are some people out there that don’t think awards should be given if the finishing time isn’t competitive. Basically, my time wasn’t good enough for an award despite the size of the race. Admittedly, this hurt. A lot. I’m blonde, not stupid kids. I am fully aware that in a larger race I would not have a received an award. I am also aware that I can’t change a flat fast enough and my bike skills need work if I want an award in a large race. But what happened to supporting each other? What happened to celebrating accomplishments? I looked back at my training logs for the last year and half, I have come a long damn way since last year. Regardless of my time I have spent the past week celebrating this award, it was just the boost I needed to keep going and getting stronger everyday. So, to my naysayers out there – stay out of my way and watch me go, I am only just beginning.

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