Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Training Starts Tomorrow!

Woo hoo!  As of today I am officially a member of Club Fraser.

Fraser Bicycle and Fitness
It was time to move on from the RACING GREYHOUNDS.  The team was great but for what I want to do, I needed something different in terms of growth opportunities.  Fraser has everything that I need - coaching, the lab, the entire package.  I feel at home.  While at the shop today, I paid my club dues, bought my Holiday Party ticket, and paid for my first month of coaching by Coach Bonnie.  I logged into my Training Peaks account and already the first month is populated.  I love it!  I have a plan! And... it starts tomorrow!  Now I just need to buy some club kit and I am all set to rock the Green in 2012. 

Right now I am an the "Pre-Habilitation" phase of my training.  This is the phase getting my body used to volume again, as well as getting my muscles strong and ready for the work ahead. I feel relieved to have a plan, a coach, and an amazing team right by my side for this amazing journey.

I am feeling really, really good about this.  It just feels right!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Do you have any sensitivites to sea creatures?

Upon seeing that question on the entry form for the 2012 race I started to laugh.  I really REALLY had to hold back and not put my first inclination.

"Yes.  Sharks.  I tend to die when they eat me."

Good job, Jenn.  Way to exercise self control!  *pats self on back*

I have this fear of the ocean/open water/random fish tank that anyone who has ever swam with me outside of a pool can attest to.  A triathlete afraid of swimming with fish.  Awesome.  I literally scream underwater every time I see a fish.  I have gotten so used to this reaction that I can scream and swim at the same time, not missing a stroke.  Obviously... and I can tell that you see exactly where this is going... an Ocean Ironman was the most logical thing for me to undertake.  As if doing the whole "Ironman thing" wasn't difficult enough, I chose to do one centered around my all time favorite place in the world which ironically is home to the most scary thing in the world to me: the ocean.

Every single time I get into a body of water larger than 25m long without lane dividers and chlorine, I have a moment of  "what am I doing?!".  I really hope that it is unnoticeable to those around me as I do my best impression of a person wearing 'big girl" panties who loves to swim in lakes.  Honestly lakes freak me out 90% of the time.  No worries about me swimming alone!  I feel the best odd for survival is to swim in groups. so when the little fishies go to eat me bite by bite, there will be people around to help me fend for my life.

I know that this is irrational as I am quite a bit larger than your average run of the mill minnow, however even they freak me out.  I am getting better.  Four years of swimming in the lakes and funny how not one of my friends nor myself has had any issues with those pesky killer fish.   Maybe fish are not so killer afterall?  Or maybe they are playing the waiting game, trying to ease my nerves then attack when I find myself lulled into a state of acceptance.  Haha!  I will never be lulled into acceptance, so there killer fish!  Take THAT! 

I have worked really hard at getting the uncomfortableness under control and once in a race or group swim situation I am fine. With more people I feel safer, as if somehow our energies combine and we become a force to deal with, one that the fishes would rather not.  I have even tried forcing myself to search for fish while I swim in order to realize that they are not coming after me,  but rather to understand that what I am doing is akin to swimming through their living room.   I know the same will be true for next year, meaning that I will be absolutely fine in the water, however all the talk about the pink meanies and sharks seen at this years race sent my heart directly to the bottom of my stomach.  Time to get mentally prepared.


Pink Meanie  - the new species of Jellies which can be 3 foot wide with 70 feet of stinging tentacles

I did find something of value to ease my mind about the jellies in all of my reading. 
  1. Wear my sleeved wetsuit to help shield myself from stray jellies of all verities
  2. Slather myself with either vasoline or Sea Safe to protect exposed skin from the venom in said jellies
  3. Make sure to have venom neutralizers in my transition bags in case I am one of the people, and there were many this year, who are stung. 
I am actually feeling much much better about the jellyfish situation. Crisis averted.

SHARK BAIT Is that anything like jail bait?

Oh, but then there was the shark sighting. Not just in the area, but right below (15' or so) the swimmers.  It was a black-tipped shark.  I did some reaseach on this variety of creature and I have to say that while they account for 16% of Florida's shark attacks, they are relatively harmless to humans unless there is food nearby.  Note to self:  avoid chumming the waters prior to the swim.   I also read that sharks tend to go for the stragglers in a group should they pose an attack  Note to self:  work on speed and efficiency this year.

Nom nom nom.  I'm HUNGRY.... for you.

Putting this weakness into writing has forced me to face it directly.  I have come to realize that if 2,500 athletes brave the water each and every year for the past 13 years and not one has been killed by a shark a jelly or anything other than the unfortunate reality of a situational drowning (two people in Ironman and 1 in the Gulf Coast tri since 2006),  I would say that I am in as good a position for survival as every other swimmer out there.  I do not consider myself at special risk for an attack of anything or that I am the weakest swimmer as I know that I am not.  The reality is one that is frank and comforting:  we are all there in the same conditions, with the same day ahead of us.

I am coming to grips with what an ocean swim means, and knowing what is ahead of me has actually comforted me in a way.  The swim will be exciting, it will be nerve wracking, and when I come out of the brine after my  2.4 mile stretch with 2,499 of my closest friends I will have conquered the biggest of all of my fears.  I AM GOING TO CONQUER MY FEARSI felt the need to restate that with a more positive spin. ;-)

This whole process is making Trout Lake look like my bath tub, and I honestly cannot wait to go for a dip!

With that, I bid a wonderful weekend!  Make good things happen!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ironman: For the Über-Fit or the Über-Dedicated?

Ironman posted the volunteer and highlight videos last night up on YouTube.  I watched both videos and even though I was there in person as painfully captured in the volunteer video [side-note: yikes I looked rough that morning!], watching the two videos really captures the essence of what Ironman is about. 

Giving Back

Over 3,000 volunteers work at an event of this magnitude in order to make it happen.  They are everywhere handing out to every single athlete water, food, encouragement, hugs, handshakes, and high-5's.   I never realized how labor intensive a race of this magnitude is.  Logistically speaking, Ironman is huge.  Well beyond 140.6 miles of course, 2,500 athletes, and 3,000+ volunteers.   After volunteering in two slots this past weekend,  I now see not only the importance of volunteers but the importance in volunteering my time to give back to the sport that saved my life.  It really was something to be even just a small part of some people's day. 

To Win is to Finish

Ironman is not an exclusive sport for the über-fit person.  I have been shy of attempting an Ironman because I am overweight and fear that I would not have the ability to cross the finish line.  My dear friend Ranger told me two years ago when discussing Ironman Florida for the first time that it was not about where I was at the start of the journey, but where I was going to end up.  I told him that I could never do an Ironman because I was overweight to what I considered IM standards and I was just not that person.  He told me bluntly;  well don't you think you'll lose weight training?  Why discount yourself before you even try?  

Yeah, why? 

He called me out on my self-deprication, but I just did not see it that way.  Ranger has this uncanny ability to see through people's BS and realize their potential.  We call him the kool-aid man because we often think of him as crazy, but honestly, he is a truth seer.  He knows his potential and his ability and he is extremely driven in what he does.  So, Dave, if you are reading this - thank you for your support in everything. 

I realize now that I was playing into my insecurities and as I have a tendency of doing, I stopped myself before I even started.  I realize now that my ability was not the concern.   I know that I have the ability to swim 2.4 miles, to ride 112 and to run a marathon.  It goes beyond that though.  Determination.   Desire.  Perseverance.  This is the true meaning of Ironman.  As their motto say's "To win is to finish".  I need to not be afraid to start.  And after this weekend, I am no longer afraid. 

I have the determination, the passion, the excitement, and the knowledge.  I have a coach to guide me and help me align myself to the best possible position for success.  The 140.6 mile victory lap is going to be my reward for a year of hard training and training hard.  I finally have the faith in myself that is required to undertake such a feat. 

Enjoy the videos!  I know that I did! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Personal Truth

I think that everyone should experience the Ironman race at some point.  Not necessarily as an athlete, but as a spectator or better yet, a volunteer. 

I chose to volunteer at two positions one at the start, one at the finish.  I wanted to experience first hand the excitement from beginning to end of those special 17 hours.  Before the race, Annelise and I would meet or see people and get their stories.  Volunteers, past and current participants, locals, spectators, you name it we met them.

This was key as it allowed us to work off some nerves, to cheer on some athletes directly, and to really learn what the race is about to so many people.  And did we ever see people.  From the elite racers to those on a personal journey to health, and every single type in between.  There were those without limbs.  Those with extra pounds to lose.  Those with no pounds to spare. The common thread?  They were all, each and every one of them, athletes.  They put in the work.  This was the dream.  Be it to finish, to finish at a particular time, or to qualify for Kona, a dream was in front of 2500 people that morning.

I am posting up over on the journey blog individual stories throughout the week as motivation for my 60 day challenge, however here I want to go over the bigger picture.  What I have taken away from this experience.

Meeting people and seeing people finishing the race with tears streaming down their faces was amazing.  Out of all athletes this year, there were 1000 first time Ironman athletes, three disabled athletes, and o hand-cycle athletes, even though they are allowed to race.   Ages from 18 to 80 were in the field.  Ironman is not some unattainable thing.  Ironman is just something that you must work very very hard for.  So here are the knowns:

Ironman requires training and planning.  And a solid support system from family and friends.  No question.  Logistically speaking, there is a lot to the race due purely to the size of the field and the length of the race.

Ironman will hurt.  No matter if you finish in 8:55 (the top female finisher and new female course record time) or in 16:59:59.

Ironman will require a solid nutrition plan.  Not just in training but in lifestyle.

And here is the ultimate personal truth:   

I cannot continue to put in the hours of training required to accomplish my goals, only to counteract them by poor food choices and lack of proper recovery and rest.  

This must and will stop.  Seeing the race this year has solidified this in me.  Annelise and I talked about fueling the body at the micro-nutrient level through whole food choices.  Lean proteins, vegetables, nuts, oils, fats, appropriate carbohydrates.  I must also get in adequate sleep.  I cannot burn the candle on both ends and expect to see light for long.

I have committed to working with Coach Bonnie on addressing the nutrition and training aspects.  I see myself living in "the lab" this winter on my bike and running testing and seeing where I am as a baseline. I am not doing this for an time finish goal, I am doing this to align my self optimally with the best chances for succcess.  That means having a strong support system around me, being honest with myself and my coach as to my intentions, goals, and abilities, and then getting to work.

Mike has informed me that my priorities this year will be swimming, biking, and running and should he find me at home without a note from Bonnie saying that I should be there, he will promptly be kicking my butt outside to get on the bike or go for a swim or run.   I believe him.  And, I love him for that.

I have five weeks of school left in my Master's degree.  I have made it through 47 weeks of non-stop school thus far and am ready to be done with this degree.  I am ready to put myself first on a physical level.  I am very excited that my family and friends are behind me in this journey.  It is for real.  It is happening.   I am ready!

It is official!  We are IN TRAINING!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

It starts...

Registration Paperwork Completed!

Well we pulled the trigger.  I learned so much this trip. Many many new things to think about, but most of all, many fears removed.

364 days to go!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


The evolution of  Runnergirl.

2004 CRIM Finish
2002 - Lost 60 lbs and quit my unhealthy addictions. 
2003 - I started running and never looked back.  5k, 10k, hallf marathons were my thing.  Attempted and DNF my first marathon.
2004 attempted and finished my second marathon.  Swore them off for good. marathons are the devil.  My body will never be capable of taking me more than 13.1 miles.  EVER.
2005 - 2008 ran happy but never felt satisfied.  Decided to go for a triathlon to keep my mind occupied.
2008 First Triathlon Finish
2008 - attempted and finished my first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth triathlons.  Three of which were in a 7 day time-frame.  Hooked. Never ever want to do anything longer than a sprint! EVER! 
2009  - Attempted my first half Ironman (the sprint happy zone was very short lived), but bailed on it at the last moment and decided to do the long-course aquabike.  Finished 2nd in my AG.  But I can never do an Ironman, so the half Iron distance will be my thing, because I am not capable of dedicating myself to the training required for such a feat.  I am doing my very last first. 
2010 - Attempted and finished my second half Ironman.  Loved it. 
2001 Detroit Marathon Finish
2011 - Attempted and finished my third marathon (1:17:00 minute PR), set PRs in every distance from 5k to half marathon in between. Placed in nearly every triathlon I participated in.  Rocked the world while finishing up my MBA.

From the girl who was an obese smoker to the girl packing up to volunteer and sign up at Ironman Florida... the journey has been a long and confusing one, often discounting myself before I have had a chance to prove myself.

No more.  I will never say never again.  I will never stop myself before I even lace up.  I will stop telling myself that I am not worth it, that I am not deserving of it, or that I am not capable of doing this.


And, in one year I WILL.

The journey is not yet complete as there is no final destination.  Right now, I am on my way to a 140.6 mile victory lap.  One day out of thousands in my life.  But one day that has taken me the longest to arrive at.

I am ready.  I have evolved.