Tag Archives: triathlon

370 miles by 37

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“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?” ~Satchel Paige

A couple weeks after doing Ironman 70.3 Florida (which I have yet to blog about) I got injured playing kickball. Kickball… Not one of the bagillion asinine other things that I do on a daily basis, I got hurt playing an elementary school sport. I went to the orthopedic clinic the next day and the diagnosis sucked just as bad as the pain in my foot. “It’s most likely a stress fracture but no way to tell for sure without an MRI.” This was quickly followed up with, “you’ll have to wear walking boot which means no swimming, cycling, or running for a while.”

Excuse me. No what?

To say the time in the boot sucked would be the understatement of the year… I had to pass my bike in the living room every day, multiple times a day, and it looked so sad just sitting there. I tried to follow the doctor’s plan as much as I could but I did throw in a ride, just to see if I could.

When I went back to the doctor, just shy of a month later, he cleared me to wean out of the boot, start riding/swimming again, and slowly start running again as well. ‘Wean out of the boot,’ to me, meant the boot was completely done. I went right back into riding with no issue but running was a different story…

When I finally started running again, I could tell that I had lost a lot of the run endurance that I had built up through my Ironman 70.3 training. Not only had I lost the endurance but my foot would burn while I ran making it that much harder to go faster and further. After several runs, I decided that this was probably going to be my ‘new normal.’ My age was catching up to me. I was starting to feel old. I felt like my body was starting to betray me. I hate getting old. When I turned 21, I was ready to stop counting. Unfortunately, that’s just not how life works.

Friends and family kept asking me what I was training for next, what races were on my calendar… I had no answer for that question because I had no clue. My body felt off and weak but I knew I needed something… I needed something to push towards. I needed something to make me believe again. I needed something to help me stop feeling broken.

Injuries steal something from you; not just endurance, muscle mass, or other physical stuff. Injuries emotionally rob you too. Injuries make you begin to doubt your body’s ability to be pushed to the brink because injuries are a stark reminder that there actually is a limit to what your body can take. They remind you that, even if you make it through training for crazy events injury-free, it is something small and unexpected that can sweep the rug from under your feet and knock you down.

On Thursday, June 16 I decided to go to a 4 mile group run with some friends that starts from a local beer/wine shop called Tipples Brews. It was the third Thursday so they bring out the race clock, which means I would inevitably be pushing harder than normal because I always want to ‘beat’ the clock. And pushing myself to the brink is exactly what I did… I took off near the front of the pack right behind a friend that I know likes to push her pace which makes me push right behind her. My foot started to burn around mile 2 but I wasn’t ready to back off so I kept pushing. Somewhere between mile 2 and 3 she got further and further away as she pushed her pace more but I kept steady to mine. Mile 3 was brutal but I dug deep and ended up finishing the 4 miles in 34:08 (8:32min/mile). I was on an emotional high from a great pace coupled with having had a couple ciders when I decided to give myself a seemingly impossible challenge to achieve…

I was going to ride 370 miles in 7 days.

Why 370 miles and why in 7 days? You see, a couple hours before the group run I realized that it was my last Thursday of being 36 years old. I knew the way the rest of the week was going to go already… Every day I was going to wake up and have the same conversation with myself, “Oh my God, it’s the last Friday… Saturday… Sunday… Monday… Tuesday… Wednesday…”

I didn’t want to do it; I needed to change the story in my mind. My M.O. tends to be that whenever I need to change the story in my mind, I dream up some outrageous thing to strive towards, something that will take up my time and distract me from whatever negativity needs to be avoided. I knew there was no way that I was going to run 37 miles on my birthday and riding 37 miles would be nothing big. I needed something bigger, something crazy. So that’s what I did… I gave myself a crazy challenge to pull my focus away from feeling weak, away from thinking about the upcoming change of my age number…

I had no plan and definitely no clue on how exactly I was going to achieve this goal but I knew that I needed to feel as if someone was going to hold me accountable towards completing it. I went to social media and shouted from the rooftops that this was my goal. I knew that, if I put it out into the universe, there was no room for failure. Then all I had to do was start riding…

And ride I did… Rolling into the weekend, I knew I had to ride big miles because I still had to work full time and take care of a pair of kids while trying to achieve this monstrous goal. I was reminded of a question someone once asked me while we were facing a seemingly impossible task at work, “Do you know the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” I didn’t think about the bigger goal, I broke it down and focused on smaller goals and each individual ride I was doing. I stayed in the present and quit worrying about everything on the peripheral.

The days went something like this:

Day 1: 100 miles total for the day. 6 rides: 33.5 miles, 10.06 miles, 10.55 miles, 26.23 miles, 4.17 miles, 16.11 miles

Day 2: 70 miles total for the day. 2 rides: 56.14 miles, 14.22 miles

Day 3: 72 miles total for the day. 2 rides: 52.18 miles, 20.18 miles

Day 4: 48 miles total for the day. 2 rides: 28.12 miles, 20.34 miles

Day 5: 43 miles total for the day. 2 rides: 23.26 miles, 20.20 miles

Day 6: Rest day, yay!

Day 7: MY BIRTHDAY!! 1 Ride, 37 miles in honor of turning 37!! Plus I threw in a brick run with my boys just because J

Total riding time: 23:00:34 at an average pace of 16.1mph


Deep down, I knew this goal was about more than just getting it done… It was about reflecting on the current state of my life and the past 37 years. I have consistently written about the peace that I feel when I am riding, even on the especially tough days. Riding is my happy place. Riding is the place where I hash out my life and these 370 miles were no different. I learned new lessons and was reminded of old lessons while out of the road over these 7 days.

  1. Anything is possible. Not only is this the motto for Ironman but it is the damn truth. Anything is possible as long as you put your mind to it and you work hard to get to where you want to be. Life really is mind over matter; as long as you believe, you can achieve. There are so many more clichés that I could throw in right here because they are all so very true. There were moments where I doubted myself but those were far outweighed by the moments where I knew I would not allow myself to fail. I don’t like failing and I certainly wasn’t going to fail at my own self-imposed birthday goal.
  1. This year had more gains than losses. This past year had been one of growth and learning, it brought with it a lot of losses but even more gains. I needed the time out there on the open road to put that into perspective. While the losses were significant, the gains were exponentially larger.Training for Ironman 70.3 brought with it an entire new foundation of friends; I gained a new support network. Whether my new friends were runners, cyclists, or triathletes, they accepted me with open arms. The amazing thing about these wonderful humans? Once you met one, you were instantly linked to 10 more. It was truly as if I had known them for years. They were ready to push and challenge me around every corner, never allowing me to give up. The time and effort that all these wonderful people put into themselves and everyone around them is a thing of beauty, everyone wants to help everyone and everyone is a family. Thank you to each and every one of them for entering into my life at the most opportune moment.

    A special thanks to Caroline, one of my newest pals, who came through to help me suffer on two of my fifteen rides on this journey. I won’t even begin to talk about all the texts she sent me pushing me to roll out of bed and keep moving towards my goal. Thank you. Thank you from the depths of my soul. You were my champion this week and will forever be a true friend. Things like this are what make people who were once strangers become friends and eventually even family.


    This past year also brought with it a change of employment. It was not a change that I was ready for but it was definitely a change that, in hindsight, was much needed. I had been at my previous job for 6 years and the stress levels were crazy high there. My new job is much more relaxed and is a semi-vaca from clinical work which is a very welcome change. I have great coworkers that constantly have me laughing and have brought another layer of wonderfulness to my already charmed life.
  1. Even a glorious failure can be an immense success. I won’t get deep into this because it will be delved into much deeper in a later post (hopefully). The gist of this is that sometimes what one person calls a failure is actually a success. And, sometimes you need some “failures” to propel you towards an even bigger success. I am so proud of everything I have accomplished this year, whether it be a glorious failure or a resounding success, I am proud of it all. I think this Robert Louis Stevenson quote about sums it up, “Our business in life is not to succeed, but to continue to fail in good spirits.”
  1. I am such a lucky girl. Anytime that I feel myself slip into sadness all I have to do is take a step back and look around me. I am surrounded by so much love, friendship, and family. I have so many friends in my life that have been there for years upon years. It has to say something about a person if they can rattle out the names of so many friends they have had for 10+ years, not to mention the two best friends that have been in my life for 29+ years each!! I may not have a “partner” to walk through life with yet but I have so many wonderful friends that are there precisely at the moments when I need them most, some before I even realize that I need them at all.I can honestly say that I don’t think I ever take my wonderful friends for granted but I do believe that, sometimes when we allow ourselves to wallow in whatever pain has overcome us, we forget the things/people we have directly in front of us. Sometimes we let the pain take over and steal our joy. I am trying to do a better job with moving myself through pain by reminding myself of all the goodness in my life. Sometimes this works and sometimes I fail at it but, like I said earlier, even failure at something can be a grand success in the long run. Sometimes we need to just feel the pain before we can move through. Continuing to focus on the positive of all the things I DO have is definitely a goal for my next year.
  1. Being single ain’t so bad. I love love. I love being in love. I love having a person. But, I have been loving being single and immersing myself in training. I have learned that I don’t need to have someone in my life; I don’t need to be in a relationship with anyone but myself. This has been an interesting lesson for me since I have been so used to being in relationships. I am such a social person that being alone in itself used to be painful. Through my few years of cycling, I learned how to be alone. I learned how to be alone and ok with my thoughts and myself. This year was different because I wasn’t only alone out on the road; I was alone when I came home too. These 370 miles were a reminder of what I already knew… Being alone is ok. Furthermore, being alone isn’t just ok, it’s wonderful. I get to do what I choose to do, train when I want to train, I get to dictate my own life (when my kids aren’t doing that, obviously). I get to be the master of my own peace, something which I didn’t even realize until this year. I am open to the idea of someone coming into my life but, until that happens, I am happy and ok being alone.
  1. I am NOT broken. Age is just a number. Everything happens for a reason. I am pretty sure this speaks for itself given the ridiculous goal I achieved. Getting injured wasn’t the end of the road for me, I got to heal and keep going. I may not understand the reason behind why I got hurt, no one ever wants to get hurt, but it happened for a reason. Maybe the reason was to propel me to set this goal and smash it so that I could see that getting old doesn’t mean that I will be worth any less than the younger person at the start line next to me. I have to push harder to fight the aging process but that’s a challenge that I am totally willing to accept. Bring it on life!

I believe there are probably tons of lessons that I am forgetting at this precise moment but these six were by far the most important of this experience. I am sure that they will come to me later on and then I will get to mold them into their very own blog post. For now, though, these are enough.

Life is going to keep coming and there is nothing that I or anybody else can do to slow it down. I might have to live life on life’s terms but you better believe that I will be trying to control those terms as much as is humanly possible. I truly can’t wait to see what the next 37 years brings with it! Who knows… maybe there will even be a RAAM ride in there somewhere (Ride Across America, check it out!)

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What is love?

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“You know you have found love when you can’t find your way back.” ~Robert Brault

Love is Specialized.

Love is rocket red.

Love is Dura-Ace.

Love is carbon everything; frame, fork, wheel set, ev-er-y-thing.’

Love is wind tunnel tested aerodynamics.

Love is a new saddle that my tush hasn’t gotten accustomed to yet so it’s always sore when I ride.

Love is so pretty that you don’t want to ever take your eyes off it.

Love whispers your name in your dreams and begs you to ride her.

Love is wanting to spend every waking moment riding the open road together.

Love is riding while watching the sunrise.

Love is riding into the sunset together.

Love is working in tandem to complete a goal.

Love makes you feel like you’re flying.

Love is freedom.

Love is adventure.

Love is fierce.

Love is peace.

Love is solitude.

Love is passion.

Love is cycling.

Love is life.

Love is a new bike.

I recently entered into a new relationship, not with a person but instead with my bike. We have an intense mutual understanding that cannot be found elsewhere. There is a give and take, but I cannot take more than I give. When my thoughts are at war with each other, my bike becomes my safe place. I get out on the open road and hash out just about anything with the hope and promise that peace will soon find me.

In November I decided that it was time to start bike shopping. I had an amount in mind that I was planning to spend but that got blown out of the water when I ‘fell in love at first ride.’ I toiled with the idea of spending the extra, considerable amount of money on the bike I fell in love with but I went back and forth with needing to be responsible and practical as well. I wanted so bad to close my eyes, throw shit to the wind, and dive in head first without thinking twice but I also had to act like a grown up…

Then in a stroke of odd luck, the stars aligned and for once the universe appeared to be on my side. By odd, I mean I was leaving the stability of the job that I had known for 6+ years but the change meant I would get some severance pay. Most would panic at this life change but I decided that panic had no place in my life and I would instead let life play itself out. I am a big believer in that ‘sometimes when good things fall apart, better things fall together’ (I probably killed that quote).

I made the decision to go forward and buy the bike I had fallen in love with, the beautiful fiery rocket red 2016 Specialized Venge Pro. I have not regretted this decision one bit since I brought her home.

We are still in the honeymoon phase, everything is bright and shiny and happy. I am working on learning her at the moment and trying to figure out exactly what she can do. She has a name, Princesa, which is perfect for her given her regal presence in her spot in the center of my house. She has already given me more than I could’ve hoped while helping me finish my most recent adventure, Ironman 70.3 Florida.

I am sure that we will have our differences and bad times, as most relationships do. But, I also know that with plenty of hard work and love, the relationship will grow and blossom into a thing of beauty. I look forward to countless more hours of being in her presence, to learning all her nuances, to many more adventures.

Life is an adventure and what is any adventure without true love to experience the adventure with?

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Life as a runner

“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” – George Sheehan

 

I’ve been struggling with finding the right words to use to write about completing my biggest running accomplishment thus far… a half marathon. This post was written over several sittings and even after having finished my SECOND half marathon.

I’m not sure I ever could’ve pictured myself  running 13.1 miles but I did. Thinking back, I’m not exactly sure how I even got to that point, to be honest.

I know that it began when I printed out a schedule for half marathon training and then just kinda started following it and running.

And then I ran some more and some more and some more…

And somewhere in there I stopped disliking running as much as I once had. I stopped dreading it… I stopped having to make bargains with myself to “just run a little further.”

It’s weird, looking back, how uneventful the process seems to have been yet how eventful it actually really was.

This year’s Miami Turkey Trot was my first 10k race and I was happy with how I did, 56:48. It was also the first race I got to do with my brother which made it that much better.


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After the 10k, I just kinda kept running… And then randomly decided one Wednesday, in the middle of the work day, that I should leave early and try running the half marathon distance for the first time.

So I did… And I ended up running 14 miles… And it sucked and it was absolutely glorious all at the same time. That day showed me that I had what it took to run that distance so all I had left to do was to get it done on race day.

I had planned it all out, I had chosen my first half marathon based on where it was being held… In Miami, my hometown, the city that still owns my heart. It seemed only right that the place that held my heart should be the city that watched me achieve a huge step towards my bigger goal of becoming an Ironman.

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Found my name on the “A” on the Miami Marathon sign

But Miami, in all its glorious unpredictability, had some tricks up its sleeve for my first half marathon. Race day was freezing, especially for a born and raised Floridian. I woke up at 230am on race day to find that the temperature was 50 degrees and dropping coupled with insane wind. I still thought I would be fine in a tank top and running shorts because I was sure that my body would warm up when I started running, boy was I mistaken.

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Pre-race metro ride
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Just a little cold…

The race start temperature was in the low 40s and I had turned into an ice cube. Nothing I did while running managed to warm me up, yet I still ran. My hands burned from the cold, my feet were numb, my nose was bright red and a complete running faucet… and yet I ran.

I ran and I kept running and I kept running.

My headphones started REPEATEDLY warning me that they were about to die around mile 6 and then finally did die around mile 8 or 9. Now I was faced with only having my thoughts as a distraction for the toughest part of the race. Everything hurt. The joy that was the beginning of the race had faded long before my headphones did.

I wanted to stop. To stop being cold. To stop the pain. To stop running. To stop the madness.

Who’s damn idea was this anyways??

Oh yeah, mine. (insert dramatic eye roll here)

I reminded myself… “You want to be an Ironman. Toughen up. This is nothing. This will be a walk in the park compared to THAT race day.”

And so I ran.

I ran up that last bridge, mile 10, pushing through pain and doubt (the only mile I dropped over 10 minutes at 10:08).

I ran those last few miles with a hip that felt like it was going to give out at any minute. Despite the pain, despite the cold, despite the overwhelming exhaustion, my last 2 miles were two of my three fastest miles.

I was able to overcome my most powerful enemy, my own mind.

I did what many didn’t think I could do, what I didn’t think I could do once upon a time…

I crossed that finish line with my arms raised high, I felt like I was on top of the world. Every inch of my being wanted to breakdown and cry tears of joy. But I didn’t. I maintained my composure (mostly because I wasn’t sure I could stop and also because the lady next to me was crying and, boy, was it not very cute).

Truth be told, I was a damn Popsicle when I finished even having to go as far as to ask a volunteer to open my water because my fingers were so frozen and numb that they couldn’t bend. It took me a good 3 hours to finally warm up, but it was still one of the greatest moments of my life to date.

I am so proud of my time and what I accomplished that day. I finished my first half marathon in 2:08:23, a PR for me.

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The half marathon crew

Since that day, I ran a 15k six days later in 1:22:49

and my second half marathon four weeks after my first finishing with a new PR of 2:04:09 (both in my current hometown of Gainesville). I can feel myself getting better and my time improvements mirror that feeling.

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There are so many things that led up to my decision to set out on this journey that I am on and, although they were painful experiences, I wouldn’t change a thing. Those experiences molded me and shaped me into this new fierce version of myself that won’t give up, that won’t back down…

I have a feeling that this new version of me is going to come in handy when I venture to that Ironman 70.3 start line on April 10, 2016 and even more so in that full Ironman I’m planning to do in 2017.

The story is just getting good so stay tuned for what’s coming…

 

Fear is a liar

“Fear is a liar.”

We hear this statement all the time.

I say this statement all the time.

I truly believe this statement to be true.

But… when fear sneaks in through the window that you forgot you left cracked open it has the ability to infiltrate every single corner of your mind.

I equate it to having a flea problem in your house… you can wash everything, spray your house, and treat your pets but somehow fleas always seem to appear here or there from time to time.

“The enemy is fear. We think it is hate, but it is fear.” – Gandhi

Fear can paralyze you, it can make you believe that you are incapable of doing something that you are certainly capable of doing. Fear can negate days, months, years, or even a lifetime of hard work.

So, when fear sneaks in, what do we do? Where do we go? How do we overcome?

I battle these questions EVERY TIME I enter the pool.

I have an intense fear of drowning but even bigger than that is the intense fear I have of not being good at something, of failing at something.

I want to be an Ironman probably more that I could ever adequately express in words. I can’t even tell you why I want it so bad, I just know that I do. One might think this desire would far outweigh any fear that might enter my mind… But, alas, it does not.

Whenever I am getting ready to go swim my anxiety levels begin to rise… My heart rate starts to increase, my breathing becomes irregular, and my thoughts start to race. I start to make bargains with myself about how much I am going to swim. When I get in the pool, all my symptoms become that much worse. When I go underwater, the panic becomes palpable. I start to feel as if I am going to run out of breath, like I have forgotten how to do what I have to do. I find myself stopping after every lap to catch my breath, to give myself a pep talk, to convince myself to keep going.

Swimming is my Achilles heel.

But, sometimes, there is this strange thing that happens while I am swimming… Sometimes when I am swimming there is a strange sense of peace that comes over me. The panic falls away, I feel calm, I do what I have to do without overthinking it… It actually feels natural.

So, when fear sneaks in, what do I do? Where do I go? How do I overcome?

I keep going. I keep pushing. I go to that place within my heart, within my soul, where my confidence and drive live. The place where I know that I can conquer the world and anything that comes between me achieving my dreams. I overcome by pushing past the fear and continuing to get in the pool until swimming becomes second nature to me because…

Fear IS a liar.

Fear WILL NOT win.

Fear WILL NOT conquer me.

Fear WILL NOT steal my dreams.

The Hunt For My New Whip

I am a woman on a mission… It’s time for a new bike, it’s actually been time for quite a while. Unfortunately, this process is turning out to be much harder than the one I engaged in to buy a new car.

Maybe it’s because you know you’re going to spend a lot when you buy a car so you’re most likely prepared with a large down payment. Maybe it’s because cars are much easier to understand. Maybe it’s because when you find the car you like, you simply tell them what color you want and what bells and whistles to include…

Whatever the case may be, for me, this process has turned into a quite laborious one.

I decided, pre-Thanksgiving, that I would leave Miami with a new bike. The universe, on the other hand, had a different idea for me (as it quite often does). In test riding bikes, I fell in love. Like actual love… The kind where the tiny hearts float away from your head and pop in the air, your eyes get all googly, your heart flutters, and you want to devote every last minute to your new love. You know… That kinda love.

The problem? The hefty price tag.

Unfortunately, my new love was no cheap hooker… She was a high class, high price, fancy, classy escort. Maybe the kind you find out on some ranch in Vegas. A siren of sorts that whispers sweet nothings into your ear convincing you that you aren’t about to sail over a cliff to your impending death.

Her name? Specialized Venge Pro.

She is a fantastically neon orange. A full carbon aerodynamic frame. Shimano Dura-Ace components. Carbon wheel set. Lighter than a feather. A click click sound as you ride that could lull a colicky baby to sleep. A glittery, rainbowy, flying unicorn of sorts if you will.

This is when the mental wheeling and dealing begins. This is the problem with buying a car versus a bike. When I bought my car, I went in with an idea in my head with how much I wanted to spend and I did not veer away from my plan. I did the same when I set out to buy a bike but that idea quickly crumbled when I fell in love…

Love has a way of breaking the boundaries that you set for yourself and causing you to WANT to push your limit. Love truly is blind sometimes… Even to price tags.

Cycling is my passion, my one true love… I want to ride this bike into the sunset (probably because it looks like a fiery skied sunset) over and over and over again…

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So what did I do? I gave myself a reality check and decided that the girl for me was the intermediate, working her way towards that big money ranch, showgirl… Specialized Venge Elite.

Don’t get me wrong… She is a beauty in her own right with her carbon frame and Shimano 105 components but she will NEVER be the Venge Pro.

**SPOILER ALERT** This is where the universe comes in and kicks the bottom out from under me…

I got measured for size, smiling the whole time from ear to ear knowing that soon I would be united with my noble steed.

Wrong!

The words still cycle through my head in my nightmares while I sleep… “The color you want is on back order until March but this other color is only on back order until early December.”

Defeat.

I was already “settling” and leaving my love in my rearview mirror, could I settle yet again?

No.

I began a mission to call EVERY SINGLE authorized Specialized dealer in the ENTIRE state of Florida in hopes that SOMEONE may have the charcoal Venge Elite in a size 52 in stock.

Fail.

Fail. Over. And. Over. And. Over. Again.

Not one store in the ENTIRE state had the color/size combination that I was looking for, NOT ONE.

Now what? Do I go back to the drawing board? Do I I surrender to the siren and let her lead me off the cliff into the beautiful, fiery orange colored sunset?

What. Do. I. Do.

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To be continued…

Leaving My Comfort Zone Behind in My Rearview Mirror

“A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there.”

I often talk to my clients about comfort being the enemy of change. I find myself reminding them that if they are comfortable in my office during therapy, they probably aren’t doing the hard work necessary to achieve the positive change they want.

It’s strange how the lessons we most often teach others are the ones we tend to forget when it comes to our own lives.

I wouldn’t say that I have been “comfortable” in my life by any means but I think it’s safe to say that I have found a place where the discomfort I feel has become routine and comfortable in its own right. I have definitely become complacent. I have found myself putting things off that I have dreamed of in order to keep living my “routine” life.

Life has a way of shaking things up, usually when you least expect it. I have found that when the universe decides to upend my life, I tend to make big decisions and big changes. Most people would probably steer clear of making big decisions during rough patches but I find that they bring me solace and a goal to work towards so that I don’t get swallowed up by whatever nonsense is going on.

Recently, I once again found myself at a crossroads in my life… Change or stay where it was “comfortable”

Most people that know me or have read my first couple blog posts know that my love of cycling was born from a disastrous break up and that the strength I had to persevere to the top of Mt. Mitchell came from the sudden death of someone very close to me. Now, at this tough juncture in my life, I have made yet another decision… To chase my Ironman dreams.

I found myself in bed for 24 hours on Labor Day, an emotional wreck. I could not even muster the strength to go ride which I knew was a very bad thing for me. The next day, I knew that I had to do something or the hole would just grow and end up swallowing me whole. I made a decision, a very scary decision for me…

I have dreamt of doing an Ironman from the first moment I learned of its existence. Back then I was not a cyclist, probably couldn’t have run around the block, and certainly wouldn’t be caught swimming with any type of “form” other than that which resembles how a dog would swim and, yet, I still vowed to one day cross that finish line and be announced as an Ironman. I made that promise to myself a long time ago when I had a much younger body…

I have since been living life while still holding that dream in the back of my head. Three years ago, I completed a sprint triathlon but came very close to drowning during it. I have an intense fear of drowning most of which I know is mental but is quite real to me nonetheless. My fear of drowning coupled with my complete disdain of running had made it very easy to avoid considering what it would take to be an Ironman finisher. Until September 8, 2015 that is…

I knew that I needed something big to move me, to motivate me, to lift me up…

I researched the Miami Half Ironman and reached out to a close friend who used to swim competitively as well as used to coach swimming. Every fiber in my body told me that it was time… I made the decision to actively begin training for the Miami Half Ironman in 2016.

Since I began actively training for this crazy big dream, I’ve become more comfortable swimming (I don’t panic as much) and I have become a better runner. I even registered myself for the Miami Half Marathon on January 24, 2016 to give me something to work towards in the meantime.

I can feel a change happening within me…

I can even honestly say that I have developed a love for running that I never would’ve thought would happen. I can’t say that I love swimming just yet but I do believe my biggest personal growth has come from becoming better at that discipline. It is quite an amazing thing to feel as if you are overcoming a fear, overcoming something that you never thought you would overcome, and actually feeling like you are kind of good at doing it.

My first love is and will always be cycling but I am learning that I have room in my life, and can make space for, other things too.

Even within my love of cycling there are areas of discomfort which I try to avoid such as riding in groups… I recently conquered this area of discomfort by stepping out of my comfort zone and venturing out to do a big ride without my coach. I finished my first century ride in which I didn’t have him (my friend, my lucky charm) by my side. I was terrified of not having him with me to coach me and lead me. I was able to conquer my fears and actually joined a few groups of strangers on the ride, I got dropped by the first group before ending up with the group that I stayed with to finish out the last 50 miles. I was even able to make a few friends on this journey and look forward to expanding my horizons even in the sport that I love so much.

Life really is full of twists and turns and sometimes you have no choice but to roll with the punches. But there are other times where change is necessary, you have to make yourself uncomfortable, and you have to punch life right back in the teeth.

Here’s to punching life in the teeth and becoming the Ironman that I know I am!!

And so it begins…

“This is the core of the human spirit… If we can find something to live for—if we can find some meaning to put at the center of our lives—even the worst kind of suffering becomes bearable.” Viktor Frankl

I believe that to understand my love and passion for cycling you must know the origin of its birth…

I have always been awestruck by the idea of being an Ironman (a feat that I am sure I will accomplish one day). After all, the title brings with it such a strength and dignity. However, I knew there would be no way to start there given my intense fear of drowning. In November 2011, I jokingly told a friend that I wanted to do a triathlon expecting her to tell me how crazy I was for wanting to do one. Instead, she offered to join me in my quest given that she had already trained for a triathlon and believed that she knew what we needed to do.538722_3437588653017_13867180_n

 

And so that quest began… We chose the Marineland Triathlon being held April 2012 and created a training plan that included lifting, swimming, running, and riding. I trained for it with a friend’s mountain bike which was actually pretty miserable and did not leave me with the desire of becoming a passionate cyclist. The thing is, I am a pretty stubborn person and, in my stubbornness, I refused to do the tri using a mountain bike. I, in turn, set out to find a road bike because it seemed like a superb idea and I didn’t have anything better to waste my money on at the time. After a few weeks of looking and a little help from some friends, I found my bike. I didn’t research it much and, had I done so, I may have spent a little more for a much better bike. Time was running out and, honestly, the bike I found was a shade of blue that spoke to me and I knew that it was meant to be mine. But, I digress… A couple weeks after I bought my bike, I did that triathlon and I loved every moment of every excruciating minute of that journey.

Most would assume that this is where my love for cycling began but, it is not. Following my triathlon, I hung up my bike for nearly a year because I was focused on work and on being madly in love. In July 2013, I went through a horrendous break up… The kind of break up that brings you to your knees and rakes your very being across hot coals. I was broken… My mind, body, heart, and my soul were all very, very broken. It was the kind of brokenness that you swear you will never heal from because you just can’t remember what it was like to NOT feel broken… My self-confidence had been stolen from me, or rather; I had chosen to give my self-confidence away (wrapped up like a present with a pretty bow on top too). I had alienated a lot of the people in my life that had meant the most to me because I thought that the love I felt could conquer all and that it was the place that I needed to be. I was wrong but as they say, “hindsight is 20/20.”  The loneliness and sadness that I felt on a daily basis was unmatched by any feelings that I had ever felt before. I felt as if I was trapped in a dark room 24 hours a day, I was essentially going through the motions of life.

The suggestion that would ultimately bring me to a place where I would begin to heal came from a very unlikely source… A source that, in his own right, had caused a lot of broken feelings of his own within me… My ex-husband. My brokenness at the time had the powerful side effect of bringing us closer as human beings sharing the Earth; one could say that it brought us together as friends. I am not sure that even he knows the power that his simple suggestion had on my life. He simply encouraged me to get up and start doing something physical, whatever it might be. He told me that it might be about time to use my bike and go for a ride.  I had no better solution so I rode… My first ride I went on was a 15 mile ride and the rest from that point on is history…

Something happened on that ride and on every subsequent ride thereafter. It was as if the time that I spent on my bike was free from the dark shadow that had begun clouding every facet of my life after my break up. I began to crave that light, that freedom, that happiness, that ability to breathe, that sense of accomplishment, that sense of self-confidence… I didn’t feel small while I was riding, I felt powerful beyond belief. I felt as if I could conquer anything. Riding fixed my brokenness, it awakened my soul… Riding made me feel whole again. Riding opened my mind to the idea of forgiveness, to the idea of letting go… There is something about being alone with my bike and the road that brings about a sense of togetherness. There is no crazy world invading my every thought, no phone to attend to, no work to do, no one pulling me in a multitude of directions, there is only me and my thoughts. I am quite ADHD in real life but while I am riding, my thoughts are focused and succinct. I have deep conversations with myself about issues I am facing, about my hopes, about my dreams, about God, about life, about the people I care about, and, often times, about nothing at all.

I have never been a solitary creature; I thrive in the company of others. I acknowledge that a lot of that was because I feared being alone and in silence. Riding changed that… I look forward to my alone time, sometimes hours on end of solitude. I have learned the power of silence and learned about the healing that can take place when one learns to be silent. There are many instances where I will be well into a ride and realize that I have thought about nothing at all and that I have spent all that time lost in the nature and the road around me. I am a firm believer in the saying that “there is nothing that a good bike ride can’t fix.” I am pretty certain, at times, that given the chance I could solve the world’s most difficult issues while out riding my bike. Unfortunately, my ADHD causes me to forget all those amazing solutions as soon as I step back into reality… We do, after all, all have an Achilles heel to contend with.

My bike may not be the best but it is mine. It is my 3rd baby and it understands me more than any human being ever will. It works just as hard as I do, it doesn’t push me when I can’t go, it gives me everything that I put into it, it is where I go when I need to feel free. I think that it would be fair and safe to say that my bike has saved my life and my sanity. Cycling has helped me heal, grow, challenge myself, dream bigger dreams, be a happier person, become a better mother, and become a better friend. It has given me a refuge when the world seemed to be crashing down, when nothing around me made sense. It gave me a safe place to cry, a safe place to “be.”

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I am a cyclist. I may not be the fastest, the strongest, or the best climber but I am a cyclist nonetheless. I continue to expand my cycling goals because when people tell me that I can’t, when I tell myself that I can’t, I have to prove that, in fact,  I can and I will.

“You can accomplish anything you wish that is not contradictory to the laws of God or man, providing you are willing to pay a price.”