Monday, October 29, 2012

Hitting the Road...

Here we are, just 5 days out from Ironman Florida 2012.

If only you could see the smile on my face right now.....

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

More Than, Greater Than

Earlier this week I posted about how I have struggled most of my adult life with the fear of failure.  The ultimate point of the long-winded post was that I started out the journey always thinking how I was LESS THAN I wanted myself to be.   I am here today to say that I am ending this particular journey, the journey to Ironman Florida 2012, with the knowledge that I am MORE THAN that I am GREATER THAN those fears.

I used to say that running was my church but triathlon saved my life.  Now I need to amend that and say that while running is my church and triathlon saved my life, Ironman gave me back myself to enjoy it all.

This race-specific blog was started 2 years ago with the purpose of tracking my progress in training for Ironman Florida.  At the end, I decided that it was more important to capture the journey of re-discovering myself through the act of total dedication. 

The proof here is that I now realize that all that I have gained through the past year more than makes up for all that I have given up on over the past 10.  I quit believing in myself way back in college when a relationship went bad and I was left with a deeply broken ego.  I ended up a deeply broken person.  It has taken years of attempting to rebuild, only to get sidetracked and have to start all over again. 

Every time I got broken, I got back in the saddle and tried again.

At the end of it all I never quit rebuilding myself. I would dig deeper each time and try to heal my broken ego, with plenty of stumbling block along the way. 

I quit my first marathon at mile 23.  MILE 23.  I pulled out of races or switched to shorter distances because I just knew I would not make it.  Throw in the middle of all of that a diagnosis of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy in the form of petite mal and psychic seizures, and it pushed me over the edge.  I wasn't worthy of success or a good life. I wasn't good enough.  I was a dysfunctional wanna be.  I was so deeply broken physically and emotionally.

The feelings that started 10 years ago just never went away no matter what I did.  What more would I have to do to show myself that I was worthy of success?     

That is when I realized what I was doing and where the journey to Ironman FL 2012 was taking me.   It is so much MORE THAN 140.6 miles. It is about faith and dedication and healing my broken self. It is about knowing that failure is not an option anymore, and that I have earned the victory lap.  I am worthy. I am back! 

Anyone can do an Ironman.  Not everyone is willing to work for it.  I meant it when I said that I am the laziest person I know.  I really am. However I am also a very dedicated person when I find a cause that I believe in.   I finally believe in myself.  I am one of the few willing to and who is fortunate enough to be able to put aside and sacrifice for a year to make this goal, this dream,  a reality.

Ironman has already given back to me in so many ways, however the biggest gift is a healed ego. A healed sense of self. 

Every time that I increased some power on the bike, every mile that I ran a faster mile, every time that I dropped a clothing size, and every time that I swam longer and longer in open water culminating in a 5k (3.1 mile) open water swim through lakes and rivers I was putting energy into the universe and the universe was giving me 10-fold power to find myself again. I just needed to be open to receive it.

Thanks to my amazing friend Vickie and my coach Bonnie, I was able to see myself through their eyes and together they helped restore me.  And thanks to my friend Amy, who has always inspired me however now even more.  

Every mile and hour that I deposited in to the bank account of Ironman was a bandage on my broken self.  Every time that I would hop in the pool or lake, that I would go for a run or ride I would log my workouts and marvel that I was really doing this.  I did not half ass it.  I was DOING IT.  And yes sometimes it took Vickie and Bonnie to tell me that I was doing it before I believed it for myself, but I am forever grateful that they never gave up even when I was doubting myself. 

So, here I am just a few weeks away from the victory lap and I can firmly say that this race has been MORE THAN a test a physical endurance and strength, it was also about showing myself my true colors. It showed to me that I am MORE THAN I thought that I was.

Now that I have faced the fears behind me I am ready to look forward with a new sense of self.   I have accomplished all of my goals this year.  I have not quit one thing and I have not allowed myself to back out of anything that I have put my mind to do.

I am sitting here with a smile on my face because I know that November 3rd will be as my friend Tom Demerly has said, a long walk across the graduation stage.  I finally get it.

It is not the end of a journey,  but the beginning of my life without the shackles of doubt and fear. 

In the coming weeks I am going to start blogging more about what my plans for the day are.  I have decided to enjoy every mile of the day, no matter how tough it gets.  That means that I am going to put a focus on each segment of the race, breaking it up into 40 or so parts, taking it 1 mile at a time.  I am going to be taking some very special people with me in my heart during Ironman. 

I am an Ironman.  I can do this.  I have given my all for this moment, and I am ready to toe that line with 2,000+ of my crazy like-minded friends.

It is really here!  I am ready to walk across the graduation stage!  I am ready for my victory lap! 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Less Than

I am the laziest person I know.   So imagine my surprise when I have had people this year tell me how I have inspired them either with my Ironman aspirations or my lifestyle change to veganism and plant strong nutrition. 

I graciously accept the compliments and notes of encouragement and support, but always think in the back of my mind how I could possibly inspire them... I am just a lazy person with a pie-in-the sky dream of being an Ironman. Right?

There have been times in this journey that I have felt like a fake.  An imposter.  A wanna be.  There have even been times in this journey where I have laid awake at night or sat in my car on the way to a workout and cried.   

Yes, cried.  Just cried.  For hours. So many hours.  ALL of the hours.  

I am already a failure... why even start the race I am not possibly qualified to participate in?

Going out for any one of the hundreds of hours of training I was putting in I would witness the real athletes (those already forged in Iron) and upon seeing the work and dedication that they are putting in to training for this race it would make me wonder what on Earth I am doing. 

THESE are the inspiring people, not me. These are the Ironmen.  They are just so much better than I.  What if I fail?  What happens WHEN I fail?  Will they all realize that I am that lazy person and never have faith in me again?  Oh my goodness... will I loose faith in myself too?

I am not a real athlete, and only real athletes are Ironmen.  I am LESS THAN that.  I am a couch surfer who goes out and swims, bikes, and runs a lot. 

I am not dedicated enough.  I have not sacrificed enough.  I have not given it my all or executed the plan right.  I just am so much LESS THAN that. 

Time has slipped away, I am out of time, I am out of time, I am out of my mind. 

The sad truth of the matter is that all of these feelings have crossed my mind, my heart, and my lips over the long course of the past 11 months.

When I signed up for Ironman, I half felt in my heart that there was no way that I would finish this journey.  I would quit, I would get injured and give myself the easy out. I would figure out the exact excuse or reason later, but surely it would come.  It always does.   

But somewhere along the way I had an epiphany.

I was sitting in my hotel room in Mexico when it happened, and I recall looking at myself in the mirror as I was putting on my workout clothes.  The clock read 11:05pm and I was heading out for a 1.5 hour bike/run brick workout in the sub-par thrown together fitness center available to me.  I looked in the mirror and saw an overweight person about to go look a fool in the fitness center when everyone else was at the bar which was ironically positioned right outside the fitness center so they could all witness the silliness. 

"Check out that fat chick running in there!"

"What on earth is she doing?"

I saw the fear rise in my eyes as I started to tear up.

Yes, what am I doing?

I am doubting myself as being dedicated, as deserving the honor of working hard to meet my dreams, of really being an athlete - yet I am getting ready to do a workout in Mexico at 11:05pm while all my coworkers are at the bar.

Yes!  What the heck am I doing to myself?

I sat down on the edge of the hotel bed and wrote a note to myself, pinned it to the mirror, read it every night and morning, and then got in not only that workout but every workout on my plan that week including a half hour swim in an 11 yard pool. All the while people ate and drank around me.


You are the athlete that you want to be.  Every day you are shedding the doubt and moving closer to her, the girl you want to see in the mirror.  You are dedicated, you have sacrificed, you have laid the foundation and now just need to have faith in yourself, faith in the journey ahead of you.  No one is laughing at you.  How can they?  You have a dream and more importantly you have the desire to WORK for that dream. No one can take that away from you.  Remember, Ironman is not the destination... this is a journey of reclaiming your life.  You can do this.  You are MORE THAN you think. You are MORE THAN an Ironman.  You are Jenniferlyn, and you have got this.  Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  KEEP ON WORKING.  

Of course I have not been perfect in my training.  I have ebbed here and there, sort of floating in and out of the process.  But it lasts for short periods of time, mainly due to sickness or balancing the crazy jam-packed year that I have had between graduating with my MBA, getting married, training for this little race and oh yeah, switching my career completely.   I guess the fear of Ironman made sure that each time I would stray due to whatever, I would come back with a renewed vigor and excitement for the process.

Have I sacrificed?  Um, yes.  Have I put in work?  Oh yeah, 58 watts, 50# and 4 dress sizes worth.  Am I ready?  I know in my heart I have done my best and that best was SO MUCH MORE THAN I ever realized I had in me.

This post is me finally coming clean with myself that I need to stop knocking myself down and realize that I am more dedicated and capable than I have given myself credit for.  I am not lazy, in fact I have worked my butt off (quite literally).  I am also not anything more than a person who had a dream, made it public, dedicated and committed themselves to achieving it and put in the work to set themselves up to achieve it.

Take this one thing away from my journey to become an Ironman: there is no magic or luck in fulfilling your dreams.   If I (the laziest person that I know) can do it, so can you.

While it starts with faith and a dream, it ends only when you put those dreams into action and work. 

Do not be afraid of the time it will take to accomplish the work ahead. The truth is that time is going to pass by anyway, the only difference is if we are sitting idly watching it go by or if we are engaged and participating in it.

I chose to get off of the couch and participate in it.  

No matter what transpires over the course of the 17 allotted hours on November 3rd, 2012 I know that I have done so much more than I ever thought that I would in my life.  This is not the final destination, but another stop in the journey of my life.