life

on being mindful.

This post might come across as rambling thoughts… but I hope it helps you.

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If I could think of one potential drawback to being a long distance triathlete it would be, that I spend a lot of time in my own head. A lot of time.

Hours upon hours alone, with just me and my thoughts.  This can be both a blessing and a curse.  On the positive side, it allows me to work on mental toughness. On the negative side, if you are a worrier and have anxious tendencies like myself, it can be detrimental.

One thing you might know about me is I have a problem with worrying. I worry about the past, the present, the future – all the time. I worry about what’s next. I worry about what happened years ago. I make up stories in my head. I will spend my time in the pool swimming laps, going through negative spirals in my head, for example. I recognize this isn’t healthy nor is it fun, and I am committed to working on it. All this worrying and anxiety leads me into a tailspin and to be honest, it’s f*cking exhausting.

I realized I wasn’t being present. For example, in daily life it was all about “what’s next.” After work I have to do x, y, z and this and that.. and then it’s bed time aaaand then repeat the next day… and the next day… All of this worrying is not healthy and a lot of it as to do with not being able to “let it go” when it comes to a lot of things in my life. It was to the point where I got used to this way of living…. until I couldn’t take it anymore. Something had to be done.

So, why is it so freaking hard to just be PRESENT? To just let things go……….. to just breathe….

While I don’t have answer for you, as to why it’s so difficult to “live in the moment” … so cliche right? (I feel like so many people say this phrase but aren’t actually living it). I do know what has worked for me thus far, and it has made a difference in this little head of mine:

Mindful Meditation. 

I have committed to daily meditation and this has been a GAME CHANGER.

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At first I thought mediation was something only yogis did.  I thought it was kind of weird? I thought I didn’t have time for it, I was too busy.  Being an athlete, I have always been determined at everything I do.  I am in peak physical shape and proud of it. However, my mental health was starting to crumble and it wasn’t just affecting me, it was affecting those around me. I decided that in order to be happier, I had to work on my mental health too. I am now just as determined to work on my mental health as I am my physical health.

The thing with meditation is, you have to practice it, DAILY for it to actually work.  It’s can’t be a half ass thing that you do every once in a while. You have to work at it, you have to commit. The more you meditate, the better you get. It’s that simple. Or is it? Not so fast.

I meditate for 10 minutes a day. 

Funny how 10 minutes a day of meditation can seem like a lot of time. I used to think “I don’t have time for this” but it’s 10 minutes. That’s it.  If I can run for an hour AND swim after work, I can meditate for 10 minutes a day. What meditation teaches you is, to not shut out the thoughts in your head, but to let them come in, and then just go back to the breath. Anxiety is an emotion, it’s part of life, and shutting it out creates even more resistance. I am working on just letting my thoughts come in, and then letting them go……

What has helped me the most with my meditation practice is the headspace app.  It has been life changing. For anyone that is looking to get into meditation, I highly recommend it. It walks you through guided meditation and I have found it to be extremely helpful and the driving force in my mediation journey.

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Here’s a good example of how it’s helped with my racing:

At the Raleigh 70.3 a few weeks ago, my anxiety was at an all time low. Before the race start, I sat on a rock by myself, and just breathed. For the first time in a long time, I was not wheezing and having trouble with my asthma during a race… could it be? All of this time thinking it was my “asthma” that was the root of the problem, could it just be that I was really anxious? I think it’s a good possibility. I practically didn’t need my inhaler when i finished. Are you kidding me? This was awesome.

Recently, I have noticed a big shift.

all of a sudden the things that  used to bother me, bother me less

I process things differently in my mind

I have learned to just breathe.

The hardest part is “letting go” of certain stuff, but I am working on it. that’s all I can ask of myself. 

I used to care about what other people thought about me and place tons of value on it.

I used to care so much about what people thought about my decisions in life, especially those who are close to me, to the point where I wasn’t making decisions I should have been making.

I used to need reassurance for EVERYTHING.

I used to be anxious. all. the time. I’m getting better.

And I’ll leave you with this…


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race reports

Raleigh 70 point 3 {Recap}

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, or even a blog post for that matter.

Here we go…

Raleigh was kind of a beast, but I loved it.

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A few things about Raleigh 

  • It’s hot
  • It’s humid as f*ck
  • Point-to -point race
  • The people are really nice
  • The city is really clean
  • It’s SO GREEN everywhere, and so lush. Now I think I know why they call it the “city of oaks” ?
  • It’s a tough race
  • Rolling hills for dayssss..but not as bad as the course profile makes it out to be
  • No shade on the run – think Kona-like conditions
  • Pizza at the finish line!

Our adventure down to Raleigh started with a long road trip the Thursday before race day.  You know things are good with your significant other when you are still laughing after 11+ hours in the car… that’s all:)

Thursday night, after driving 7+ hours, we stayed in Fairfax VA . I got to see one of my best college gal pals in the AM on Friday, then we were on our way to Raleigh.  Four hours later, we made it to Raleigh, did all the check in stuff, registration, spent more than we needed to at the athlete expo. I talked to the head referee, who was way cool, and got my wrist brace officially approved. I had been emailing him to make sure it was OK to race with a wrist brace on my arm.

Thumbs up!

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Friday was all the typical pre-race stuff, including a carb load dinner , which I think we both got food poisoning from (awesome).  If it wasn’t the food, it was something we contracted during our travels, because we both spent all of Friday night and Saturday feel ill (I’ll spare the details). Grrrreat.  Because getting sick is great for staying hydrated before a hot race, not.

Saturday morning started with a pretty shake out bike ride on the Greenway and a short run… then is was off to carb load!  The only thing was, we didn’t feel like carb loading. In fact, we could barely eat our pancakes. I was so nauseous… way worse than my typical pre-race jitters nausea. The pancakes were a struggle, and to be honest, I wasn’t even that full for a carb load.  I spent the rest of the day hydrating like a champ and relaxing as much as I could. My carb loading faves are non-fiber and low fat foods such as: pretzels, fig newtons, sports drink, bread.. and more bread… basically nothing that’s healthy for you, but is great for loading up for race day.

Later that afternoon we drove out to Jordan Lake (40 min drive) to drop off our bikes at T1. We weren’t allowed to swim in the water at the lake, but I touched it with my hands and it was WARM. Kind of like sitting in a warm bath tub feels like… this mean’t no wet suit! A “small” detail I didn’t know about Raleigh until after I signed up: It’s a point-to-point race.  It makes for more details to tie up before the race and a little more confusion.  There were two transition areas, T1 at Jordan Lake and T2 in downtown Raleigh.

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The transition area in T1 was gorgeous! I got a money spot thanks to my AWA standings (thanks Ironman!)

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After sweating our butts off during transition set up, we drove on the bike course for about 30 miles (highly recommend this with any race) and it was cool to see what to expect the next day! Then is was back to the hotel for vegging out and trying not to be on our feet as much as possible.

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training posts

Training Lately

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Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve done a training post. I’m still actually training. Trust me. Well, minus the virus and respiratory infection I just got over, ugh! Luckily, it was good timing after a big training camp in Arizona and my muscles were probably grateful for the recovery time. Now, it’s full speed ahead to triathlon race season 2016! I also BEYOND pumped to be racing with Team Coeur for the second year in a row.

I have a few races on the horizon- cannot believe race season is almost here! Race #1 is just over one month away, crazy!

  • First race coming up is Ironman 70.3 Raleigh on June 5 (hoping to get a spot for Worlds in Australia!)
  • For fun I’ll be riding in the B2VT ride, A 140 Mile killer ride from Bedford, MA to Okemo Mountain, Vermont
  • If I don’t qualify for Worlds, I plan to race 70.3 Syracuse in late June. Sidenote: Brian is racing at IM 70.3 Worlds in Australia and I hope to race too! Even if I don’t race, I’ll still get a cool vacation out of it.
  • My “A” race is Ironman Vineman on July 30th, in Sonoma, CA.  This is the first year it’s an M Dot race, and I’m really looking forward to racing around beautiful wine country! This will be my 4th Ironman!2015-vineman-vineyards

So, how is training going?

swimming.

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This winter I made some big gains in the pool.  For the first time in five years, I have not been part of a Masters swim team. While I do really miss the social aspect of Masters, I have found that swimming alone allows me to focus more on my weaknesses and work on drills. I have spent hours in the pool with paddles, ankle lock, snorkel, etc. I feel like I have gotten faster and my times are looking quicker than last year.  A big breakthrough for me was timing my 200 yards all-out and finishing in 2:39.  I do not have a swimming background (i.e. did not grow up on swim teams) and I have had to work hard on getting fast in the water. Hopefully this all translates well into open water, which is always interesting to see!

biking. 

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Now this is where I’ve seen the biggest amount of change, cycling.  The decision not to run Boston this year was an easy one, especially after Kona. For the past three seasons, I’ve ran Boston , and for the last two, I’ve ran Boston and raced IMMT (and this year + Kona…oyy). Last year,  after doing Boston, IMMT and Kona, I was craving a break. I knew that if I focused on my bike fitness (my “weak spot”) this winter, it would potentially mean HUGE gains come race season. The focus of winter training became: build my POWER “atttic” on the bike, which meant working on lots of TOUGH (make you want to throw up) intervals on the trainer this winter.

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Instead of doing long training runs and breaking down my body like years past, all winter long, I did trainer rides and shorter runs.  And after all of this hard work, I feel stronger, leaner and more powerful than ever before on the bike.  According to my coach, I am three months ahead of my fitness from this time last year, when looking at data files, this is huge . With every pedal stroke I can tell I am stronger and things are just ‘clicking’ (no pun intended) .  I have also had the pleasure of traveling via plane for some training rides, including Florida and Arizona!  I will talk about my AZ trip in a separate post, but I did get down to Florida for a few weekends in a row in March and rode outside with Brian, which was a blast!

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running.

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The way I describe my running lately…. smart, in control and fast. I run frequently (4-5 days a week), mostly at endurance/steady pace i.e. not pushing it.  Once a week I do hill repeats and on weekends I add in a transition run on Saturday post bike ride and a long run on Sunday, typically no longer than 12 miles. I have kept injuries at bay with a focus on foam rolling , stretching, and dry needling. I feel like I am in a VERY good place with running and I look forward to ramping up my mileage and speed-work in the coming weeks. Running has felt super easy and pain free, often I feel like I’m flying.  This is a very good sign going into race season.  As mentioned before, i am so grateful I did not race Boston this year and I can go into the 2016 season with FRESH legs!

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I’m excited to see where my dreams take me this year… :)

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Kona

ONIPA’A: Finishing what I started in Kona

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In Hawaiian Onipa’a means “be steadfast, resilient and resolute.”

Each year they pick a theme word for the Ironman World Championships.  The theme word of Kona this year was: ONIPA’A. Given the day I had on the big island, this could not have been more fitting for my race.

And now I’m going to finish my story.  

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After the swim, I had a long day ahead of me.

The sun got hot, really, really hot.  I expected a tough day out on the Queen K , like everyone tells you about, but holy shit that was hard. The good news is, it’s hard for everyone. Everyone is struggling, everyone is hot, everyone is battling the wind… you aren’t alone.

I navigated the Queen K as best I could, while staying in Aero for the majority of the race. My biggest fear was the crazy ass crosswinds, rightfully so… I’d heard stories of athletes literally getting blown off their bikes, so needless to say, I was a little nervous.

I heard Andy Potts (Male Pro, Coach & 4th place at Kona) say after the race, the hardest thing about the bike course is that it’s mind numbing.  You literally look at the same scenery the ENTIRE time.  It’s lava fields, grass, and pavement.. that’s it.  Everyone thinks: “ohhh Hawaii , that must be a beautiful bike ride.”  Well, yes, I guess it is beautiful, but it’s like the freaking desert.  I saw the ocean in the distance, but could not look at it because of the strong winds. I had to keep my head down as much as possible.  To pass the time, the focus was on my watts and fueling. I stuck to my watts, but it was hard to get up to speed at times because of the wind. It was a constant fight out there.

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The course is an out and back and the turn around is at the top of the climb to Hawi, where it actually rained on me that day! For the majority of the ride, I had a GRUELING headwind. However, one positive to it being an out and back is, you get to see the pro men and women zipping by on the other side of the highway, helicopters watching up above, very cool!

The bike ride went by fast, despite how difficult it was.  I think I was so excited to be racing that course, I just tried to enjoy it.  I could tell I was getting a sunburn when I was a few hours in, and I knew it could be a bad situation later on. My quads were starting to get red, and I feared I did not  reapply enough sunscreen in transition.  Towards the end of the ride I was also getting very nauseous and I no longer wanted to eat or drink (bad news).  So, not only did I have a raging quad sunburn (that was now swollen), but I had a stomach ache… oh and 26.2 miles ahead of me..  The bad thing about the heat in Kona is, you actually can’t really tell you are sweating (well, at least for me personally).  I was really happy when the bike ride was over, but I knew that I had a long run ahead of me, and I wasn’t feeling well from the start. 
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Bike time: 6:32:14

( I had hoped to break 6… but I was ok with it)

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race reports

Kona part I: race morning + the swim

Not every race can be a good race. With the good races, there must be bad races every once in a while. The bad ones are what really tell us what we are made of.  These are the races that make us an athlete.  That test us, push us to the brink of exhaustion. These are the races where the term ‘blood, sweat and tears.’ comes from. The races where you want to quit with all of your might, but somehow you are able to dig from way deep inside you and somehow finish a race you never thought you would be capable of finishing… where every single muscle in your body just wanted to give up, but your mind did not. 

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that race was Kona

Kona caused a lot of joy…. but also a TON of hurt. It just hurt in so many ways.  It hurt emotionally, physically, mentally, it just f*cking hurt.

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I went into Kona with different expectations than IMMT.  I had to be honest with myself, knowing that I had just raced an Ironman in August and that my body may not respond in the way it normally would on race day.  Two Ironmans in seven weeks – NOT easy. Given my numbers leading up to Kona, Coach was confident that I could still race a competitive time at Kona, however, the training weeks leading up to Kona post IMMT were the toughest weeks of my life.  It was really, really hard to get my head in the game and focus.  I was going through some really hard personal things (divorce, selling the house, interviewing for new jobs…) all while training for Kona.  I worked as hard as I possibly could during this short period of time, like the little worker bee that I am, but my heart was losing the desire.  So, at a time when I should have been very happy and excited about getting ready for Kona, I was just kind of numb. But like time always does, it moves on, and with time things got better…

Before I knew it… race morning was upon me!

RACE MORNING KONA

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It was pitch black outside when I got to the transition that morning, but we were soon treated with a beautiful sunrise.  I made my way to the bag drop areas and the body marketing stations.  I ended up walking right behind Rinny that morning…“are kidding me?!” so freaking cool. I wished her good luck:)   The body marking stations are just like what they look like on TV. I keep having all of these ‘pinch me ‘ moments. Unlike most races, they use the body marking tattoos and they really make everyone feel special.  After getting marked/tattooed I made my way to my bike to make sure everything was good to go.   I had a moment to myself where I walked over to the water and just took a few deep breaths. I was about to race in the Ironman World Championships, wow, just wow.

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After the porta-potty madness, putting on sunscreen and braiding my hair, it was time to make my way to the swim start. I said goodbye to Brian and Coach Jorge and headed to the swim start.

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me and brian before I embarked on my journey:)

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