Friday, February 28, 2014

169 days... 14 hours... 21 minutes... 52 seconds

This about sums up my life for the next 169 days... 14 hours... 21 minutes... 52 seconds...

Ironman training season kicks off tomorrow.  But instead of doing a nice easy swim/run with my team on Saturday and a nice 50 mile bike ride on Sunday... I will be participating once again in the National Multiple Sclerosis Bike Ride to Key Largo.

100 miles from Miami to Key Largo on Saturday and 75 miles back to Miami on Sunday.

I asked our team captain what time we're meeting tomorrow... he said 5am.  YAY!!!! (insert sarcasm here)

Yep - I am all sorts of crazy... errr... LOCO!!!!

Sunday, February 23, 2014


I have two hours to kill before my flight home from Phoenix to Miami.  I could watch "House of Cards", which I am totally obsessed with, but then I had a better idea... It is time to pick up my blog again.  What better place to do it than in the city that broke my heart and crushed me a little over a year ago (see November 26, 2012 post in archive for the details).

A lot has happened since November 18, 2012.

Just in the last year, my 7 year relationship ended, which meant selling my house and moving back in to my bedroom at my parents' house until I made the final arrangements for my new place.  On top of that, I turned 40.  So here I was during the summer of 2013 - not really sure where my path would take me but it was kinda looking pretty crappy.

A lot of factors came into play pertaining to the end of my relationship, but I know that training for and competing in IRONMAN Arizona 2012 played an enormous part in it.  Aside from the death of my grandfathers, missing the run cut off was the worst feeling ever in my life.  This may sound callous, but knowing that I had unfinished business and that I still had to check off the box next to  "Competing an IRONMAN" on my bucket list, made it that much easier to put an end to that chapter in my life.

Fast forward to a random email over the summer that invited me to participate as a member of the Ragnar Relay SWAT team for the race in Tennessee (I had worked "SWAT" at two previous Ragnar events in South Florida).  I, of course, jumped on the opportunity.  I would be flown to Tennessee and would be rooming with a perfect stranger and working with a crew of people most of whom I had never met, except for a handful of people I had only shared emails with.   "OKAY!!!!  What have I got to lose?"

Now working the Tennessee event required me to fly to Nashville on October 23rd... the DAY of my 40th birthday.  I was going to spend my birthday with random strangers.  

I met some amazing people in Tennessee.  Because of these friendships forged in the confines of cargo vans, trailers and random rental cars, along with being sweaty wet and tired (this is what SWAT stands for), I am here now at Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix.

I have spent the most amazing 10 days in the desert... the first few days were spent road-tripping through the Mojave to Vegas, the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon.  That in and of itself deserves its own blog entry.  The last three days had me participating on a relay team for Ragnar Del Sol.  

When I had the opportunity to join this team, I knew instantly that it was was something I HAD to do.  When I looked at the race course and saw that the finish line for Del Sol was at the same location as the IRONMAN Arizona finish line, I knew that I had to be runner 12 on the team.  This meant that I would be the one to run the last 5.8 miles of the 202 mile course into the finish line. 

So, yesterday afternoon, with my BREAKING BAD #253 team members, some of the best and craziest group of random strangers - with whom I am now forever bonded, I crossed that finish line and I have closure on that chapter in my life.

The timing could not be more perfect.  Next weekend, March 1st & 2nd, is the Tri Loco Miami training kick-off for IRONMAN MONT TREMBLANT.  I feel as if a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders and I can go into the next 6 months of training with an open heart and open mind. Not worrying about what coulda, shoulda, woulda... But focusing on what WILL BE.

So, I invite you to follow along with me, through the ups and downs, as I now embark on this new adventure.

Who knows what the future brings, but I can't wait to find out.


Monday, November 26, 2012

IMAZ... not exactly what I had hoped for...

Ironman Arizona was a million emotions all rolled into a 17 hour day.  But in one word…disappointing.  I made it through the 2.4 mile swim in 60-something degree waters… many who started did not finish this part of the race.  Many had panic attacks, many had to be pulled from the swim and some just couldn't make it to the finish.

This alone was a major accomplishment and I was ecstatic.  However those same waters that challenged my morning, I fear, ruined the rest of my day.  I started suffering a migraine (suspected to be an effect of the cold water dilating the blood vessels) around noon during the bike portion of the race which slowed me down significantly. 

While I made it through the cut-off for the bike to the run which was 5:30pm, my run was so slow because of my pounding head.  I stopped in to the Medical Tents along the course at two different aid stations during the race to get checked out, my vitals were OK as was my blood sugar so they let me decide if I wanted to continue.  I pulled myself together, took some more medication and decided to keep going.  Unfortunately, the cut-off to begin the third and final loop of the 26.2 mile run route was 10:15pm.  I made it to the beginning of the third loop at 10:45pm.   I begged the race organizers to let me continue.  They did so… begrudgingly… alerting me that I would be 100% on my own out there and that my race was officially over.  They took the timing chip off my ankle, and tearfully, I continued onto the route.  Beginning the last 8 mile stretch of the race… in the dark, all alone.

The first three miles were very lonely.  I was having a serious “pity party for one”.  I had 5 miles left to go, but those last 5 miles were to be the toughest as I had already traversed the terrain twice.   I would have been running by myself in the dark on gravel roads (with steep drops on either side), under bridge overpasses and up a mountain side, without a cell phone or any way to stay in contact.  My concern at this point turned to my safety and the sanity of my friends and family who would be waiting for me to finish… not knowing where I was on the course or how much longer I would be.  I knew I could have been able to finish those last 5 miles... albeit slowly and WAY past the midnight deadline, but I made the decision to end my journey.  I made it through 135 miles of the 140.6 mile race.  

I have learned a great deal about myself over the past year and that is the best thing that could have come out of Ironman Arizona 2012.  Most importantly, I am stronger than I think I am .  Others would have been devastated by this series of events and would have sworn off racing ever again.  I allowed myself time to grieve and I know that this is not the end of the world.  I have the support of the most amazing teammates, family and friends and that is what matters the most.

I am going to take 2013 to refocus and address physical challenges that I did not allow myself to address in 2012 and I will try again in 2014.

Yes, I still believe that I CAN DO THAT!!!!

Thank you for all your support!  I'll be back soon!


Monday, October 1, 2012

I am not Super Woman, but I will be an Ironman

I can't believe today is October 1st.  My last blog was on August 31st.  The month of September was a complete blur!  Trying to find a balance between work, business travel, training/racing and my personal life is exhausting and possibly another full-time job.

I have just over 47 days until Ironman Arizona and although I have not blogged in a month, there have been plenty of opportunities where I have come up with content for my blog and things to discuss and share with you.

I finally decided to make time to blog today (I am forcing myself to "step away" for lunch today) and say to you, openly and publicly, "I am not Super Woman."

I am just a normal person (OK, so "normal" is a relative term) who enjoys pushing her physical and mental limits.  This is not an original concept, many before me have done this and many after me will continue to do this. 

Yesterday, was supposed to be my first 100 mile bike ride.  Seriously... look at this route... we started in Ft. Lauderdale and ended up in Palm Beach.  If you've never driven up A1A, I highly recommend it.  It's a beautiful route.  I got to see many billion dollar homes and experience a new bike route in South Florida.

But seriously... LOOK AT THIS MAP!  Anyone who knows Florida geography knows that Lake Okeechobee is a LONG WAY from anywhere.  I can literally FLY from Miami International Airport to the West Palm Beach airport via a commuter route.  If you have flight service from the point where you started your day (in Kendall) to just before you turned around on your 100 mile bike route... it's intense.

So, I digress...  yesterday felt like it was 100+ degrees with the sun beating off the ocean and the "sparkly" granite-flecked roads on Flagler Drive up in Palm Beach... wow - these 1%ers - even their streets have to twinkle and have flair.  Their streets sucked!  It felt like riding your bike on a road-sized emery board that just had a gazillion suction cups grabbing on to your tires. 

Sorry, I digress yet again, it was hot, the conditions were windy, humid, lacking in shade and mentally and physically challenging.  For the majority of the first 50 miles, I was able to ride with my teammate JoJo and two guys who had never ridden more than 40 miles.  We held a great pace and stuck together as best as possible although on the final bridge at around mile 46 (and there were plenty of bridges on this route) of the first 50 miles, I twisted my knee on the climb.  We dropped Ralph and Chad at mile 49 when Chad got a flat, ironically 1 mile before the 50 mile refuel station / rest stop.

On the way back (coming back over said bridge where I tweaked my knee at mile 46), we were sent in the wrong direction by the volunteers holding the arrow signs.  I guess they didn't realize that if they faced South and the arrow pointed East, that when they turned around to face East that their arrows on their signs needed to be flipped to face South.  So we went NORTH as their arrows indicated.  Adding extra mileage to a ride that is already long enough was just mean.

Once we corrected ourselves and were heading in the right direction (South back to the start line), the way back was grueling.  We had a horrible head wind that just made the ride even that much more difficult.  Eventually, our little pack ended up riding the rest of the day solo.

There was no rest stop / refuel station at mile 60.  This played a major role in what transpired over the next 20 miles.  Luckily I had filled all of my bottles at the 50 mile mark, but no amount of ice was able to hold up to the heat.  Drinking hot water and fuel is just nasty - but you do it because you need to.  You just drink it faster because you can't get relief.  So you run out faster.

I contemplated several times stopping to buy water / sports drink / soda... anything that would quench my thirst.  But I kept on going, I knew that I could make it to the rest stop at mile 70. 

When I got to mile 70 - they were closing shop and I was told that all of the other rest stops on the remainder of the route had prematurely shut down.  I knew this is where I had to get everything I needed to get me through the last 30 miles.  If you ever wondered why cycling jerseys have so many pockets... it's to hold not only your phone, fuel and other items but up to 3 more water bottles in addition to the 3 that are already on your bike!!!!

I was mentally prepared to make my way back to Ft. Lauderdale on my own.  For all I knew, JoJo was ahead of me and Ralph and Chad were behind me.  I didn't get JoJo's text message advising me that she had stopped around mile 65 at an ice cream shop to refuel and cool down.

Fast forward to mile 75... it seriously felt like a hallucination.  Next thing I know, JoJo is riding up next to me telling me that she feels horrible and that we need to stop at mile 80.  I said to her, "if you feel that bad, let's stop now."  She replied, "no, we need to at least do 80." (like any stubborn Ironman would).  It was the best thing we did.

Mile 80 happened to be the Ocean Rescue / Coast Guard Auxiliary Station in Boca Raton.  JoJo got checked out at it was determined that she was starting to experience heat stroke.  While she was cleared to go home, she was not cleared to continue the ride.  While I could have continued on the ride (slowly back to Ft. Lauderdale) I stayed with her until we were able to get a ride back from another teammate (Mario) who had his own route challenges and stories to tell. 

Needless to say, 100 miles, even on a ride that is supposed to be "supported" is tough for even the most experienced riders.  Things learned... 1) stay within your limits; 2) you can never be over-prepared or carry too much hydration/fuel; 3) eat breakfast - 2 breakfasts if you have to; 4) ride/run with a friend and always let others know your route and estimated time of arrival; 5) wear your Road ID or carry identification and emergency contact info; 6) probably the most important thing... listen to your body.

So we were bested by the South Florida heat and conditions, but this will not stop me from completing the 100 mile training ride that is a pre-requisite to Ironman Arizona.  The next time we try will be in 2 weeks.  We'll be on our flat "home turf" and we'll know what to do and when we need to do it.

Nothing is more important that your health and nothing is smarter than knowing your limits.  Remember if you can't/won't identify when it's time to stop, your body is going to do it for you whether you like it or not, and it probably won't be pretty or graceful.

Today is a Coach-Tim imposed rest day, and while I crazily enough feel pretty damn good after having completed a 2 mile swim on Friday, a 15 mile run on Saturday and an 80 mile bike on Sunday, I am going to REST today.  We often forget that another important component of training is RESTING!

So on the umpteenth day... she rests!

Friday, August 31, 2012

It's been 11 days since my last confession...

OK, well maybe it's been more like 25 years, but I know that title got your attention. 

It has been 11 days since my last blog though.

It's been a little hectic, but that's no excuse. 

"Life it what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."  Isn't that what John Lennon said?

So here we are... 78 days until IMAZ and this weekend, I will complete my first ride over 75 miles in a single day.  Ideally, I'd be doing this with the rest of my team, but unfortunately, I wasn't able to leave Miami this weekend to head up to Sebring with the gang for the planned Century ride up there.

My goal is to head out to a park in the Everglades that has a protected 15 mile paved loop and do the mileage/saddle time out there.  It will be hot, it will be windy, a lot of mosquito repellent and sunblock will be employed that day, but if you want to be an Ironman, it's all in a day's work.

With it being a holiday weekend (in Miami, sadly it just makes for even worse drivers because they've been drinking earlier or never actually stopped drinking from the night before) it's too risky for me to go out on a ride of this distance on the regular roads ~ as previously mentioned most of the other people that are crazy enough to do this distance in a single fell swoop are going out of town. 

So, I'm OK with going out to the Everglades... and I can be my own personal SAG... spare tubes - check; CO2 cartridges - check; iPod since I'll be on a closed course - check; cooler in car with more cold bottles and snacks to help keep me going - check.

Plus, I have friends that will join me, at least for a few loops or as many loops as they can suffer through, so the entire distance won't be solo.

Regardless of the crap week that I've had, I know that this weekend will make it all better.

Oh, and did I mention that there will be running involved as well????  :)

Have a great Labor Day Weekend my friends...

Run for your lives!

Monday, August 20, 2012

89 Days and Counting

This was a great weekend.

It started by being able to catch the cold that was lurking and stop it in its tracks.  Hooray for Emergen-C! 

On Saturday, we got in a good solid pre-race workout.  Funny how what you think is going to be one of those "why am I even bothering getting out of bed for this workout?" workouts, really helped to solidify my mental game throughout all of this training for IMAZ.  20 min bike and 20 min run = piece of cake.

Yesterday, I was able to participate in the third of Mack Cycle Trilogy Sprint triathlon series.  I felt great in the water (very relaxed), my legs felt good off the bike (I need to get in more bridge repeats), and my run felt really good.  I know I could have pushed more, but I purposely held back.  I finished a solid 8th in my division and I'm good with that.  I have go to keep my eye on the prize and that is finishing IMAZ.

I recall how I felt on October 9, 2011 when I finished 1st in a similar race produced by Multirace in Miami - the Miami Sprint Triathlon.  That was the race that put me over the edge.  I pushed so hard and so far and was in so much pain, but I finished at the top of the podium in my division that day.  Yet, the feeling of elation was overshadowed by the unbearable pain in my knee.  I finally realized that I had gone too far - I had ignored the pain for too long and now it was time to deal with the consequences.

I had my first appointment with the Orthopaedic Surgeon, Dr. James Voglino, on October 14th, my MRI on October 15th and on October 17th I had all of my results.  I needed surgery.  I remember asking Dr. V. if I could still race on October 30th in the Rohto Ironman Miami 70.3 (half-Ironman distance race - 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run).  He looked at me and said it was up to me. 

I actually left his office thinking that I would race on 10/30 and schedule my surgery for the following week.  After all, that was my "A" race - the race I had been training so many months for.

As I drove home, I got my head out of my ass and thought, "If I am in this much pain after a Sprint - there is NO WAY that I will be able to finish Miami 70.3 and be able to do everything else that I am already registered for."  So I called Dr. V's office, made my appointment for my surgery. On October 27th, I had a meniscectomy - lateral and medial tear removal including the drainage of a cyst that had formed on the outer part of my knee.

I knew it was the only way that I would be able to be ready for IMAZ.  So three weeks after my surgery, when the day came to register for IMAZ 2012, I did it.  I was one of the lucky triathletes that was able to get a spot in IMAZ - it sold out in 10 minutes!  I knew that I had made the right decision by having my surgery and by this point, the stitches had just come out and I had been cleared to swim. 

I was on the bike 5 weeks after surgery and running intervals 7 weeks after surgery.  13 weeks after surgery, I finished the ING Miami Half-Marathon and 3 months after surgery, I finished Ironman San Juan 70.3.

So here I was, yesterday morning, almost 10 months after my surgery and exactly 90 days to IMAZ.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I don't do anything but my best and yesterday was no different, I did my best.  I did the best that I should do in order to be able to give my best on November 18th.

I was able to race alongside of some of my best friends and awesome teammates.  I was able to race alongside people who continue to inspire me and so many others - most notably, my friend, Hector Picard, who did a solo bike ride from Ft. Lauderdale to New York City in May/June 2012.  Then just last week, was the first double-arm amputee to ever finish an Ironman race.   He finished Ironman New York, I repeat JUST LAST WEEK, and came back to Miami to race in this sprint.  Is there nothing he can't do???  You should definitely read more about him:

So, yeah, this was a great weekend.  It's great to do what I do and it's great that I can continue on doing this knowing that I've given my best.

This week, we'll be ramping up training again.  So today,  I will enjoy a recovery day and head out for a nice swim later.  Until then, it is Monday.  Just another day that we must get through until the next weekend - that's when the fun happens!

Run for your lives!

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Grass Is Not Always Greener - It's Just Different Grass

So, a regular week's training consists of several swims throughout the week.  As a member of a nationwide gym chain, I had been going to a number of the chain's local gym facilities with indoor pools, but the problem I found at those locations was that if you were not out of the pool by 8:55am (although the AquaFit class started at 9am) you were given the major stink eye. 

Man, those AquaFit participants are MEAN and crotchety.   The pool is big enough for us to swim in a far lap and not interrupt their jogging, but NOOOO... you had better get the f*** out or else!

So, I recently started going to swim at the pool of one of their newly acquired locations that merged into this chain from another large fitness chain.  It's very convenient and even closer to my house than the other locations.

It's a great outdoor pool - no chlorine fume toxicity - no need to worry about swimming within a dark windowless cavern and because you can't predict South Florida's weather, NO SCHEDULED AquaFit class.

Now, as with everything that happens in my life - there always has to be something to make it interesting.

1)  Is it really necessary to have include a statement within a sign on the wall that the pool shouldn't be used if you're "ill with diarrhea"?  Seriously people????  If you can't figure that out between the toilet and putting on your swim suit, there's a big problem.

2) Beware of the "Buena Vista Social Club"-esque gathering that happens DAILY on the stairs of the pool. 

Picture this, 7-10 men (50+) chillin' in the shallow end of the pool, some using the lane-marking ropes as their own personal "noodle" flotation device.  They've completely overtaken the main stairway in/out of the pool, which also includes about 1/5 of the actual lane - so you can't use that lane. 

As to what they're discussing - you can liken this to what you see/hear at the walk-up window of Versailles (famous Cuban restaurant in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami - all tried and true Republican politicos make this a mandatory stop on their campaigns through Miami) except, no cafecito, no cigars and they're all in swim trunks instead.  Their wives/families, the weather, Castro & Chavez (of course), more American politics, religion, etc.

Honestly, it's actually quite funny.

Now here's what's kind of creepy.  Sometimes, you'll get a straggler or someone who just decided to come early before the rest of the clan.  They sit and lurk.  This was the case on Tuesday morning.  I was in the far lane (where the stairs are) doing my muscle endurance swim workout (essentially a workout meant to fatigue your arms and shoulders and this guy (chewing a toothpick) was just chillin' at the end of my lane. 

Seriously, what a pain.  But then again, what was I to do?  Go inside and tell the gym management that he was just chillin' in the swim lane?  May refer you back to the photo of the sign posted on the wall?  I don't think that it would have made a difference.

So, all in all, I just had to vent.  Not sure if this happens anywhere else.  But I guess I'll take the BVSC over the AquaFit Witches any day.  At least the BVSC guys don't mind if you're doing your thing while they're doing theirs. 

I was feeling a little tickle in the back of my throat last night.  Emergen-C will be m new best friend for the rest of the weekend, especially since I have a race on Sunday.  I don't know if I'll be able to get in another post before then, but look for a post-race recap after the Mack Cycle Trilogy Race # 3 that I will be participating in.  Watch out for the "Crazy 8".

Until next time - run for you lives!