Why an Ironman?

Ironman represents the pinnacle of endurance sports for me. Ever since I became a triathlete I knew an Ironman was in my future. It was just a matter of time. And time is just one of the many things training for an Ironman requires.

I did my very first triathlon back in 2004 right before graduating high school. Even then, I didn’t consider myself a triathlete until March 2007 as a Junior in college. Since then, I’ve competed in a little over 60 races and even took a trip to China for one of them but I have yet to muster the courage to take on 140.6 miles.

After college, I moved around the country, explored various careers, went back to school, and moved a few more times. Recently I made the decision to apply to medical school which means I may not have the opportunity to fulfill this goal. So now is the time. I have a stable job and a great group of friends training for the same race.

I’m nervous. I’m scared. I’m excited. And more than anything I’m determined to leave everything on the race course so I don’t need to come back. 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run. No big deal. Right?

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

“Quarterly” Update

Hello again. Three months have passed since my last post. Several things brewing in my life recently I wanted to share with my online friends. Mostly my life has been steady busy but enjoyable. On with the updates!

  • Dancing has become a bigger part of my life than I anticipated. Salsa and Bachata are quite addicting. Dancing challenges me in completely different ways from triathlon. I’m in no way a natural, which has been difficult but rewarding over the past several months. Besides the challenge, I’ve made several friends and have SO much fun going out “dancing the night away”.
  • Training is semi-consistent. I’m keeping a decent base and starting to incorporate speed now that tri season is officially here. My first triathlon of the season was moved from May 4th to September 29th…which means I need to start signing up for races for motivation. I have a love-hate relationship with my night shift schedule and training. While not impossible, training is just more complicated. Throw in a new found dancing addiction that keeps you up to the wee hours of the morning and my beloved early am workouts become unreasonable. Balance, strive for balance.
  • Visited the lovely town of Savannah, GA with coworkers on a girls trip in January. Such a great city and I had an incredible time.

132146 155

  • Met up with some of my best friends from college in Charleston, SC. Couldn’t have asked for a better time with some great women and I fell in love with another city. To be visited again!

120

 

111

  • Took a mountain trip with my triathlon friends to Blue Ridge, GA. Relaxing weekend in a cabin with awesome friends with s’mores, hiking, and charades.

262

  • Followed by spending “spring break” in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico with one of my favorite friends from high school. We mostly stuck to the beautiful beaches but ventured out to see Las Cataratas waterfalls and horseback riding along trails. Of course, with my love of all things Latin, Puerto Rico made an impression on me and I will be back to explore. Mofongo is now my new favorite way to eat plantains.

IMG_3506 IMG_3521 IMG_3571 IMG_3614 IMG_3627

  • Lastly, on the trips (my goodness I’m already exhausted sharing this), I went to Augusta, GA a week ago for MedWAR (Medical Wilderness Adventure Race). This was AWESOME. Already added to my annual race calendar. Basically, MedWAR is an adventure race involving running, mountain biking, kayaking, wading through a swamp, orienteering, and medical challenges for 6-8 hours. I joined UCF College of Medicine students and had a blast. My body was wrecked. My shins were torn up from thorns. I got muddy and can’t wait for next year. The medical scenarios involved our team of 4 being split up into patients and health care providers. We could only use the equipment, such as suture kits, airway kits, medicines, etc., that we had on our bodies. We also had to carry water and nutrition for 8 hours. The race organizers were AMAZING. Such a well run event that involved a ton of planning, creativity, and hard work.

IMG_3667 med

IMG_3028

  • I’m starting to volunteer with hospice. I’m drawn to this area of health care and am looking forward to the opportunity to help people and their families during a difficult process. Find something that is truly meaningful to you and figure out how to get involved. To me, this is the best way to add purpose to your life. Give love in a special way to others.
  • So my biggest update…medical school! Originally, I wasn’t planning on sharing with many people but studying for the MCAT, the entrance exam for medical schools, requires a lot of dedication. By saying my intention out loud, I am helping hold myself more accountable. For the time being, I’m just applying. My prerequisites are already done and hopefully I’ll get my application and a kick butt MCAT score in this summer/fall. Planned start, if I get accepted, will be August 2014. This decision was extremely difficult because I really do love nursing and I love my unit. Medicine, however, keeps popping up in my heart and I ultimately need to pay attention to that because I don’t want to regret not trying 10 years down the road.

Phew! So any updates from you? As always, I hope life is treating you well.

Posted in Life | 2 Comments

Just poppin’ in to say ‘ello

I haven’t forgotten about the blogging world. This has been (and will continue) to be a blogging hiatus. Life has been exciting and challenging the past year since graduating nursing school. Next month marks my official 1 year anniversary…as an ICU nurse! My mind feels saturated with the new information and experiences I’ve encountered at work and outside of work. It would be nice to have blogged throughout to share with my friends and family but there was a much needed period of reflection and personal growth. Who knows when I’ll be “officially” back but it will happen eventually.

Just a few updates of things I’ve done and places I’ve visited since my last post –

  • Finished orientation and became a baby nurse all on my own!
  • Visited Georgia for another celebration of my brother getting married
  • Flew out to San Diego to reconnect with old friends and visited Palm Springs for the first time
  • Vacationed with my family in the Keys for some lobstering and spear fishing
  • Road tripped up to Vermont for Age Group Nationals with a few fabulous friends
  • Participated in my first Ragnar in Napa and enjoyed wine country so much I contemplated giving up nursing to learn how to make wine
  • Got a gorgeous Giant time trial bike…my new love
  • Took a break from traveling to enjoy gardening, raising chickens, light training and reading
  • Witnessed my roommate and dear friend get married on their new farm
  • Took up salsa lessons
  • Witnessed two dear friends marry each other and celebrated yet another friend’s wedding only a week later
  • Contemplating another marathon finally and starting to take the next step in my career

I hope everybody has been great…until next time!

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

On Being Coached…

It’s been over 8 years since I’ve truly been coached. There was a brief period where I hired a friend to help me with workouts to prepare for my first season of triathlon in 2007 but I had no clue what I was doing then and wanted to learn the principles of training. Now I have opinions…plenty of them. My coach has even more opinions along with the experience and knowledge to back them up. The game plan is to trust him and see how my body and motivation responds.

When I swam, I never lacked motivation and dedication. Triathlon has proved an interesting experiment of turning the obsessed perfectionist into somebody who enjoys training and competition. Sometimes this borderlines being lazy if left to my own devices and don’t set up enough training dates. Reflecting on the past few years, my schedule and life has been in a constant flux, which also presents difficulties with training consistently. I’ve moved a total of 8 times in 3 different states since 2008. I’ve been a high school science teacher, swim instructor, administrative assistant to a chiropractor and a medical school, nursing student and finally a night shift ICU nurse all since 2008. I wouldn’t change any of that for the world. I discovered so much about myself as a person and finally found direction in my life and career. Now is a time to relax, grow spiritually, relax, focus on training and my job and find some type of stability.

So far with coaching, my body and spirit feel broken. The Dunedin Sprint Triathlon was embarrassing because my body wouldn’t race, and I love that feeling of racing. And this was only two weeks after starting training! Now, in the middle of the fourth week training under a coach, I still feel like crap but am starting to gain a more positive perspective. The rest of this season will probably feel like a failure in terms of performance but will be full of lessons about my body, natural ability, and will to persevere. Age Group Nationals in August might be miserable but it that’s still two months away which means I will be two months stronger, so who knows.

This post sounds negative but underneath the fatigue and feelings of failure, I am excited. I am excited to see what my body is capable of in triathlon. I’m excited to finally be consistent with training and follow a true training plan. It’s a wonder I pulled a 5:24 last year in my half-Ironman because there was no rhyme or reason to my training.

Besides reaching out to a triathlon coach, I recently contacted an registered dietitian for a consultation about weight issues. I’ve shared with a few friends my frustrations with steadily increasing weight and finally decided to make real changes to my nutrition. Living in San Diego made it incredibly easy to eat right and find a healthy balance with my love of food and training. Moving back to Florida brought challenges that threw that balance off and then we throw working night shift into the mix. I still love healthy food but I also love baking and cooking not-so-healthy food.

Just a few examples…

003   015  005 012  252  010

Basically, I want to learn how to continue to enjoy food but in a way that lends itself to a healthy weight. My biggest challenge is overeating and indulgences. So I’m looking for somebody to help me with mindful eating so I can be happy with my weight in a bathing suit or while running.  Nobody should feel self-conscious about their weight while running! By mentioning this, it’s important to state that all people have a different weight that makes them comfortable. My point isn’t to offend anybody that has been battling significant weight struggles for the past few years. Weight has always been difficult to discuss among my friends because we all have different histories, weaknesses and metabolisms. It’s a topic I usually avoid for that very reason but here I go writing about it on the internet for all to read.

This should be a difficult and interesting next couple of months as I continue this road of trusting somebody else with my training and learn how to develop a new and healthier “relationship” with food while balancing full-time night shift position and other aspects of life. Does anybody else have recent or recurring struggles they are taking real steps at changing?

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Mother’s Day Traditions

Let’s ignore the fact it’s more than a month after Mother’s Day.  My excuse…I don’t have internet and I have been reading and training nonstop. I still want to share something my mom and I have done for the past few years. Danskin Triathlon is a women’s only triathlon geared towards first time athletes and seasoned triathletes alike.

Danskin holds a special place in my heart since it was my first triathlon back after I graduated high school in 2004. I need to scan some old pictures and talk about that experience sometime. Basically, I was first out of the water by a minute or two and then was dominated on my mom’s mountain bike before jogging to the finish. My love affair with tris didn’t start until 3 years later when I was a junior in college. To say I hated the bike was an understatement. Now I tolerate that sport…sort of.

In 2007, my mom stepped up and said she’d like to give triathlons a try. She’s a runner at heart and has kept really fit playing tennis over the past few years. I always brag that she kept running through her pregnancies (before it was cool) and managed to run up to 10 miles a day with 2 young kids and a full-time job. Yeah, that’s my mom.

066_2

My fit mom and me in the Keys for 4th of July. Notice the hand painted scuba divers for the tire cover. Dorky parents.

The fun thing about the Orlando Danskin Triathlon is it always falls on Mother’s Day. With the exception of a few races, my mom and I have raced every year since 2007. We’ve seen the race move from Disney’s Magic Kingdom to Disney’s Ft. Wilderness and finally to Clermont this year. Disney is no longer accepting third party vendors to put on races so Danskin moved to a different location. At first I was nervous how the logistics would go with a new venue but Sommer Sports put on a fabulous race this year. I’ve raced several times at Sommer Sports triathlons and respect them a lot as a company. This year Danskin and Sommer Sports listened to concerns and suggestions participants made about the race and actually made changes. Thank you for listening!

Here are a few pictures from previous years…

Danskin Tri 2009

Danskin Tri 2009.1

Danskin Tri 2011

This year my parents came to Tampa for a Mother’s Day Tea at my church. My dad visited with his mother while my mom and I enjoyed a fun tea with my aunt and cousin and a hundred other ladies. We listened to a touching story about how God worked in one woman’s life while eating cucumber sandwiches and pastries and sipping tea.

Mother's Day

Danskin Tri 2012

That night we drove to Clermont and prepared to race the next morning. The race itself was well run and went off without a hitch. It was my first race of the season, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. My dad and I watched my mom’s wave go off and then talked until my wave was up.

The swim felt sluggish but gave me a good lead on my wave that I managed to hold onto the rest of the race. My bike was decent with the exception of a few steep hills thrown into the middle of the route. Finally the run felt good. I gradually got faster with every mile. One girl shot off in the first half mile and I remember thinking there was no way she could hold that pace with that form (because I’m such an expert about good running form). Sure enough, I passed her within the next half mile and kept gaining speed. I was surprised to find out I was 2nd overall and more excited to see how proud that made my mom. To me, placing is partially about how fast you are and partially about who shows up. This race was one to share with my mom, so I wasn’t paying too much attention to competition.

Danskin 2012

Swim (800 meter or 1/2 mile) : 10:50

Bike (12 miles) : 40:32 (18 mph) <— really? really?

Run (5K or 3.1 miles) : 24:02 (8:02 min/mile)

Total Time: 1:18:58 (1st Age Group, 2nd Overall)

My mom and I will be back next year because this is a sweet tradition to share with her and not many people can say they’ve done races with their parents.  I’m grateful she instilled a love for exercise from an early age. Hopefully, my dad will join for a triathlon one day. For now, he and I share a love for books and food.

Up next, I want to share how training under a coach has been. I had a lackluster performance at the Dunedin Sprint and my body and spirit have felt broken down a lot lately. It’s been a rough ride but you don’t get better without hard work. I’ve had to readjust my goals for the season, especially Age Group Nationals. More on the topic later.

I’m off to clean, bike and swim. Our group is getting together for beer and pizza after practice…yessss. Is anybody else excited about Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter coming to theaters on Friday? I read it a year or so ago and couldn’t put the book down. It’s a historical fiction that portrays Abraham Lincoln as an obsessed slayer of vampires. Vampires were a huge driving factor behind him becoming president and the Civil War in this book. The best part is the author does a great job intertwining true facts with fiction and there were times where I had to remind myself Lincoln was NOT a vampire hunter.

Abraham lincoln

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Race Report: Crystal River Sprint Triathlon

Have I ever talked about how much I love racing?  Digging deep to challenge your physical and mental threshold is the ultimate thrill. This past weekend’s race was exactly that…a challenge. I pushed every step of the way.

Backtracking a little to the start, it was an early wake up since I drove about 1.5 hours to Crystal River. Arriving with about an hour until start time, I was ready to set up, warm up, and mentally prepare to race.  Sometime around this point, it dawned on me my race belt was sitting at home on the counter.  Apparently nobody brings spare race belts so I had to get creative by pinning and tucking my number into my tri shorts. So much for successfully utilizing my checklist.

That hour flew by and I was near the start waiting for my wave with Jess, Steph, and Meghann. This was actually my second tri of the season, so I wasn’t quite as nervous about getting back into the swing of racing. I competed at the Danskin Triathlon on Mother’s Day as a tradition my mom…report to come later. While waiting for our wave chatting about the course or how we felt, I reflected on how incredible it was to have a group of women I could train and race beside without the competiveness that can sometimes interferes with friendships. Swimming in high school brought out the cattiness in my group of female friends. Not proud but it was high school right?

My main goal for this race was to race. That and get a feel for where I stood with my training before officially starting to be coached. Oh by the way, I just had my first week of training under Felipe, the coach for XP Multisport. Felipe and I have known each other since a Crystal River Sprint I did my first triathlon season back in 2007. He’s a great triathlete and knows his stuff. For a long time I’ve resisted being coached because I’m stingy with my money and triathlon is already an expensive sport. With such a wonky schedule working nights and 12 hour shifts, I decided it was time.

Crystal River

Crystal River, May 2007

Swim

The swim felt great for the short 400 meters. I’m finally getting more consistent in the water and have enjoyed pushing my body during practice. Steph has been a great lane buddy in the pool because of her swimming background so I was excited to be racing along side of her. She had a better start with dolphin dives and pulled a few yards ahead at the beginning. Before the first buoy I pulled up next to her. We swam stroke for stroke for maybe 25-50 meters and I pulled ahead. Knowing Steph would be really close I didn’t let up pace the rest of the swim and caught up to a few other waves. I popped out first for women with Steph 5-10 seconds behind me. Mary and her husband came to cheer all of us on so it was motivating to hear my name cheered throughout the course. She also captured some great shots along the way.

Crystal River swimming

Swim Time: 6:09 (400 meters) 9th/ 275 Overall

Bike

As usual, I need to work on the bike. This is one of the main reasons I’m excited about being coached. Somebody to force my sometimes lazy butt to actually put time in the saddle to get the bike speed I always talk about needing.

Since the bike was 15 miles I knew it was a matter of time before I lost my lead. Here’s to having confidence on my bike Smile. Currently my bike odometer is with another friend so I hoped the mile markers along the course were accurate and I shot for 3:00 min/mile using a stopwatch which translates to 20 mph on the bike. On a sprint I should be going faster but this is where my bike fitness is currently. I averaged around 2:50-2:55 min/mile and was passed by the first female maybe 5 miles into the race. There was that inevitable middle aged man that  I played yo-yo with on the bike. We went back and forth the entire race and I was annoyed and afraid of getting a penalty. I kept having to drop back when he passed me and then speed ahead when I felt his pace was slower than mine. Argh.

At mile 9, Jess zoomed past me and I was excited she was close to placing overall. By the way, it’s her first tri season and she is kicking major butt, mine included. Couldn’t be more happier to have another female to push each other in training. My legs were burning by this point and mile 15 couldn’t come fast enough.

Crystal River biking

Bike Time: 43:27, 20.7 mph (15 miles) 94th/275 Overall

Run

Crystal River transition

The 5K felt long with the Florida heat and no shade. Coming off the bike I was still first in my age group but I didn’t know where second place was. Of course I should be “racing my own race” but I’m competitive and other people always provide that extra push when I’m tired. Out and back runs are always fun because you can see people you know and spot competition. Mary incorporated taking pictures of us into her training run…that’s multitasking for you. At the turnaround I saw second place in my age group 1-2 minutes behind me but couldn’t determine if her pace was slower/faster. I refuse to look behind me in a race so I just assumed she was faster and braced myself every time I heard footsteps coming up.

Crystal River running

With half a mile to go I developed one of those annoying and terribly painful side cramp. One of those that digs into your diaphragm and makes you question the fun of racing. Since I was sure the next girl in my age group was right on my heels I refused to stop and cursed my diaphragm instead. Is anybody else motivated by talking to different body parts? Is that just me? Grateful for the finish line in sight I sprinted in and finally felt relief from the cramp. Mission accomplished…I raced the whole time.

Run Time: 22:28 (5K/3.1 miles), 7:29 min/mile, 66th/275 Overall

Total Time: 1:13:09 1st in Age Group, 10th Female

DRC Sports puts on a solidly run race. I highly recommend any of their races if you are looking for a competitive local race.  This race in particular promoted the youth triathletes and had several international racers. Kaitlin Shiver, a pro triathlete originally from Melbourne, Florida, raced as a way of supporting the junior triathlete talent identification program since that’s where she got started. One of the swimmers from the team I grew  up swimming for and then coaching was there and actually won for his age group. He has really blown me away by how far he’s come in the sport.

A side note, there was a little mix up with my registration/check-in that morning. One of the volunteers didn’t see my name on the online registration list. So they had me “re-register” as a day-of racer. No big deal. Turns out my name was really on the list which meant I had two race numbers. DRC Sports called my name to the registration table 10 minutes prior to race start to clear everything up. Again no big deal, I just kept my day-of registration number since body marking already done and race numbers already set up. Well, when I checked the results after the race my time was a few minutes slower and I was second in my age group rather than first. Bummer, I must have gotten a time penalty. I found a DRC employee and asked to see the penalty list so I could find out what I did or if there was a mistake with my time. She was really helpful and took me to the tech guy to figure things out. Within minutes they determined my number was placed in the wrong wave which was why my time was 3 minutes slower. Problem solved. Thank you DRC Sports for being helpful and putting on a fun race.

After waiting around for awards our training group took a trip to Rainbow River for some relaxation and tubing down a beautiful spring fed river. Felipe and I did this with fellow Tri-Knights and TriGators (the triathlon clubs for UCF and UF) back in 2007 so we thought it was worth repeating. Even though I had to be at work that night I was really excited for the afternoon. The fun time was totally worth a little sleep deprivation; I got a short nap in before my shift started at 7 pm but I crashed hard Sunday morning. Check out Meghann’s recap of tubing Rainbow River.

Rainbow River

Rope swing on Rainbow River

Well off to make today productive…errr read, train, and clean. I’m looking forward to British Trivia tonight at a local pub with my cousin and her husband. She’s working on her PhD in British history and one of my strange passions in life is King Henry VIII and all things Tudor (this was well before he was made cool by “The Other Boleyn Girl” and “The Tudors”). We are going to rock Trivia night.

What are some of your quirky passions? Have you ever done anything cool because of them? I studied at Cambridge one summer taking a class on King Henry VIII…one of the best summers ever.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Updates and Upcoming Events

Hello hello! Since my last post I have made the switch over the night walkers. This switch to working 7:00 pm – 7:30 am had me nervous. People told horror stories of getting nauseous at 4:00 am or falling asleep while driving. For somebody that is perfectly content falling asleep at 10:00 pm on a Friday night and getting 8-10 hours of sleep, I was apprehensive but determined to give it a try.

Night shift

 

Well it’s been a few weeks now and I am loving night shift. Two main reasons: I have more time to workout since I’m sleeping less (mostly 6-7 hours during the days I work) and more importantly, there’s more time for quality care for my patients. Day shift is hectic! Phones ring off the hook, doctors write new orders, families visit, and you basically never seem to have a minute to breathe. Seasoned nurses have their routine down pat and work more efficiently but as a new nurse I like having the time to do a thorough assessment, plan my shift, and really dig into the patient’s chart.  Surprisingly, my body has adapted beyond expectations. It sleeps when I go to bed. No black out curtains, ear plugs, or sleep aids needed. I’m still playing with just how much sleep is healthy for my body and I’ll post about it once I establish a true routine.

There are times when my body is physically exhausted. I’ve been affectionately been referring to it as “the fog” because that’s the best description. Nothing a good nap can’t cure. One downside is my workouts, when I have back-to-back shifts, are limited to 8:30 am – 5:30 pm which means Florida heat and humidity are unavoidable. No real complaints here, however, because it beats not working out altogether. I’m excited regardless and realize that no schedule is perfect for training. We all do what we can do.

Here’s a quick update on my race calendar:

5-26/12 – Crystal River Sprint (1/4 mile swim, 15 mile bike, 5K run) <—tomorrow!

6/10/12 – Dunedin Sprint,  (1/4 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 5K run)

7/28/12 – Top Gun Sprint (1/4 mile swim, 10 mile bike, 5K run)

8/18/12 – Age Group Nationals Olympic Distance (1500 meter swim, 40K bike, 10K run)

9/15-9/16/12 – Napa Ragnar Relay

10/28/12 – Marine Corps Marathon

11/3/12 – Volunteering as nurse in Medic Tent at Florida IM – registering for my first full IM for 2013. It’s time to commit to true triathlon endurance!

It should be an interesting race season. I’m sure there will be one or two other races thrown in as they come up but this is what I’m currently signed up for and that keeps me busy once every month. 2013 is shaping up to be an endurance year since I’ll start officially training for an Ironman. This has been a few years coming but ultimately I didn’t want to race that distance on immature or lackluster training. When did you first commit to an Ironman and what ultimately pushed you to sign up? If you’ve never raced that distance, are you curious or think it’s just plain crazy?

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments