Tuesday, December 30, 2008

yoga tools

One of the many things I do is teach yoga. I am currently working towards my Level II Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Certification. It's a several year process and this is a career I take pretty seriously. As I work towards my masters in Nursing ... in 2 years I hope to blend all of the things I do into one. By the summer I will also be offering Yoga Therapy Classes at our studio.

I teach at a Baptiste Affiliate Studio called Breathe. Located right in downtown Pittsford NY it's not just a studio, but a boutique and a juice bar, and a spa. Everything good, organic and local under one roof. And that's before our upcoming expansion!!!!!

What attracted me to this style of yoga was that it is more of a "freestyle" yoga. It's all about flow and it's hot. Not Bikram which is 112 degrees, we keep our studio about 85-90 degrees. It's perfect for athletes and flexible people alike!

As many of you are beginning to embrace yoga, I thought I would pass along a few tips and recommendations for yoga gear. It's like triathlon, the good stuff might cost a little more, but it is worth it. And it's a one time purchase.

Here is what is in my yoga bag:

Maha Mat: I got this mat a few years ago and I will never go back. I never slip on it. To clean a mat use diluted Simple Green, there are yoga mat wipes available, or you can throw it in the washing machine without detergent. Mats typically come with a "film" on them, especially the ones you find at Target. So make sure you get rid of that. You mat will make or break your practice.

YogiToes Skidless Mat: These are great for those who slide off the mat in hot classes due to sweat. I have a few of these and I tend to use them less and less due to the acclimation I have from spending four years in a heated room. These are wonderful, wash before using and sprinkle some water on the hands and feet part to help with stick. One the link you will also see an Eco Dot, which is my next favorite.

Eco Dot: This funny little thing serves me a few purposes. If I use it in a pose like Balancing Half Moon, it allows me to stay moving and doesn't allow me to really rest my bottom hand on the floor. I like to use this for seated meditation also.

Lululemon: Worth it's weight in GOLD. Worth the price. I have an entire Armoire FULL of Lululemon. We carry this at our Studio, in fact we carry all of these products at our studio and you might want to check out the Breathe Tees that we sell. You might have spotted our ad in Yoga Journal too!

Just like in multisport your yoga gear can make or break your class. You might become so focused on slipping that you can't allow yourself to relax and fully enjoy the experience.

Monday, December 29, 2008

back to work

This is Luc next to his Lego creation..... he earned this kit selling popcorn for Cub Scouts, he and Curt built it together!

Today.... it was back to business.

Now don't get me wrong, I have been back in action for a while. I have lingered in my transition phase, did my 30 day running camp (all at E pace via the J.D. Vdot method) and I was very laid back for a bunch of weeks.

I have been asked what my new method is. I don't have a new method. I am using everything Coach T taught me and applying it again, except this time we won't be a miscarriage, sustaining a concussion, or crashing my bike. I have not scheduled those in for 2009.

Coach T's plan worked for me. I finished an Ironman with a PR of 10:58 feeling like I could have gone much faster. I had good training last year, improved my tests each time.

I just had a weird string of bad luck. But the good news is, I got it all out of the way.

If Coach T weren't busy in Grad school, amidst a career change, working full time and being a father to 3 adorable children and a husband to an equally adorable wife..... I'd be on his doorstep. But I need to take what he taught me and apply it.

This week I have a bike test and next week my first run test. This week the real work begins.

The back to work week began in the pool this morning with one terrific main set:

4 X ( 1 X 500 / 3 X 100)

While I did pull the 500's I made them all, and just a minute slower than college time. Glory days...... however on the 100s, I was dying on the 1:15. I should easily make a 1:15. Which alerted me to: you got endurance girl but ya got nothin for speed.

Good place to be.

That means the next phase is about to begin. Testing, work + adaptation = progress.

There are about 12 weeks until New Orleans. I'm on track for a good good day!

So HI-HO! HI-HO! It's back to work we go!

Bring it on!

Sunday, December 28, 2008


It was a wonderful Christmas redo. The only thing that was missing would be my Mom and my Dad. And Aunt Marilyn. No one puts on Christmas like Marcy Workman. That's for sure.

Curt and I cooked together, he's a fabulous cook and it felt good to be at home preparing a special meal as a family. My childhood babysitter sent me a great not: this is YOUR family now and you need to create YOUR traditions.

There's no place like home.

I can see how from the outside it might seem like I am angry at my family. I would have to respectfully disagree, if you know me at all then you know that's not my style. With my siblings I just have simply agreed to disagree. I think that can be a really good thing. Then we don't fake it, then we don't' force it, we can just live our lives and not feel obligated to one another.

This morning we had the most beautiful yoga practice. A room full of people, 100 degrees, and at the end our friend Rich played the piano while his daughter Dana, a sophomore in college sang the absolutely most stunning rendition of Imagine I have ever heard. Most of us cried it was so beautiful.

But on the mat this morning the lesson of the day was intentions. We pause as a universe on New Year's Eve, acknowledging the passage of time. We make a list of things we want to accomplish or change..... but don't forget that every day is a new year. every breath is a new breath. Every day is a new day. Every day we can set our intention for the day, for the moment and we can find a more authentic life that way. We are all a work in progress .... it's not like we reach the top of the mountain and then we are "set for life"..... there will be new journeys and new days and new opportunities.

If you think about it..... do you really want to climb to the top of the mountain? Away from your worries, away from the difficulties, away from someone who has hurt you? It's a lonely place up there.

I like to think as the mountain as upside down. We begin at the peak and we work our way toward warm and healing water at the bottom. It may mean we face discomfort, fear, disappointment. But with that will be all of the good things too, we can't have one without the other. But as we continue that journey towards and not away from we find ourselves joining arms and forming relationships and being able to feel every single moment.

It's nothing I have made up or created, it's Bodhichitta, something I use as my guide and my own personal teachings. Define it however you want..... but we can use this theory in all areas of our life.

So as we move forward towards 2009 I invite you to state your intentions rather than resolutions. Can you create your own daily intentions? How can we live a fuller life? How can we bring this into our sport, our careers, our family, into all the areas that matter and make our lives richer.

I learned that on a mat. In a room full of people and heat. Poses.... just the bonus. It's more than my religion, it's my life.

Here are some excellent books I highly recommend if you are interested in a more spiritual 2009:

Journey to the Heart by Melodie Beattie. I read a passage of this every day and I close my yoga classes with a reading.

The Four Noble Truths by the Dali Lama

Comfortable with Uncertainty; 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion, by Pema Chodron

Saturday, December 27, 2008

christmas relays

What better way to heal a heart than to spend time with family and friends. Yes.... today were the Christmas Relays..... and believe it or not..... this was my first time ever attending! Thanks to Dennis and Erik and all who organized, as it was truly spectacular and a truly wonderful way to spend Christmas Eve Morning!!!!

We swam of course, but we laughed so hard that my abs hurt. There was craziness and there was togetherness.

Here's to old friends, to new friends, to celebrating what is really important at Christmas!!!!
Here is Les, Kelly B and Karri!

Catch up Relays!

Dennis and Erik.... the BRAINS behind the operation!

Getting ready for action
Me and Mikey MO!

Friday, December 26, 2008

an eggers family christmas

As I sat last night with Luc, about to go to bed, I tried to explain people to him.

"I'm not going to Paris?" he asked, as his Aunt taunted him with on Christmas Day. "I'm not going to ride the Polar Express?"

"No Luc, she was just kidding." I told him.

"Why was she kidding?" He asked me. "Doesn't she want to take me there?"

"She probably would like to take you there." I told him. I won't tear apart a family member in front of Luc no matter what. No matter what. I tried to tell him she was telling him like it was a dream of hers.

"Is a dream the same thing as a lie?" He asked me. "Because if she wasn't going to take me, then she told a lie."

I could not disagree with it. I just simply had to say I didn't know. He wouldn't understand what egocentrism meant.

This afternoon we had the same conversation. He asked if he had done something wrong and was that why he wasn't going to ride the Polar Express to France. I assured him that wasn't the case.

"Does she think I am stupid?' he finally said. My blood boiled at the same time my heart cracked.

"No." I told him. "She does not think you are stupid." My eyes had tears in them. This is the very thing I worry about. This is the very feeling I want to shield him from. To have been caused to feel that from my own sister.

Unforgivable. Absolutely unforgivable.

As we sat together and he read me a book...... I thought about it.

"Luc." I said to him. "Would you like to redo Christmas?" One look and that smile was the answer I needed.

I thought about it some more. Curt thought the idea was great. So there you have it.

I am redoing Christmas 2008. Sunday. Sunday will be Christmas. Again. And this time we are going to get it right.

There are always rules when we attend a function at the Taj Mahal, so I have decided that our Christmas will have it's very own set of rules.

1. You can either kick your shoes off at the door, or hell, let's be wild, wear them in the house.

2. My dog will not be crated or left in a car. She may lick you and she may nip at your toes.

3. There will be music and it will likely be the Barenaked Ladies or Sarah M., Lifehouse..... and of course a little Adam Sandler.

4. You can spill your drink, we will just clean it up.

5. The only gifts allowed are homemade gifts. Nothing may be store bought except supplies. Your gift must have a meaning. I don't care if it is an ornament, a paper weight, or a thing. You must make it and it must come from your heart.

6. Dress warm our house is 62 degrees. We will warm it up with the fireplace.

7. The television will not be on. Entertainment is the form of an HO train, the puppy, or the next rule.

8. There will be outside adventure. You can sled in the back yard, you can snowshoe, but there will be an outdoor adventure.

9. You do not have to clean your plate to enjoy dessert.

10. We will be playing TWISTER.

I am busy planning the menu:

Brine Turkey Breast
Cranberry relish
Pomegranate Salad
Some kind of veggie.

For dessert..... I don't quite know that yet.

Christmas is a time of family, it is a time of home. Our home is here and I want Luc to have memories of his home and the quirky things his family did. I want him to remember playing TWISTER and determining how many people can fit onto the super sled and fly through the backyard. I want him to remember Cocoa with Antlers on. I want him to remember sitting around the tree and playing with the train.

I want his memories of Christmas at home to be filled with warmth as he's studying for finals in college someday. I want him to board that plane home with thoughts of happiness as he comes home to a house smelling of cookies and burnt turkey. I want him to remember Christmas as homemade gifts and by then he should have a good set of 10 at least!

This morning I stood outside of the house at 3:30am next to a car that wouldn't start crying. I just felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. Curt took me by the shoulders and said to me....

"Mary.... it's just a car." And he was right. (It started later in the day). It was just a car. What a statement right when I needed it.

I spent the morning at work in Peds ED where we were not surrounded by patients for once, but surrounded by Toys. Toys to last us through the year. When you come to Peds ED you get a bear or something to make your stay a little bit better and we prganized bears and dolls and games and trucks..... and I thought to myself THIS is Christmas.

People went out of their way to give to our Pediatric Emergency Dept. People went out of their way to buy a few things that were not for them. We stood there together, as a strange Peds ED family, a neat little team and we smiled. I thought to myself THIS is Christmas.

One of our nurses is battling Malignant Melanoma. She's one of my dearest friends. She stopped by with half her face cut off and I still thought she looked beautiful. She told me she'd rather look like Frankenstein than be dead. And she's fighting for her life.

As we hugged this morning, I thought.... THIS is Christmas.

When I came home and the boys were flying a remote control helicopter inside, and the dog was barking up a storm, the house felt warmer than it ever had. There was gift wrapping still on the floor. We all went for a walk. There was plenty to laugh about and plenty of hugging to go around. And I thought.... THIS is Christmas.

Can't think of the last time my brother or sister hugged one another (in laws..... always).

So Sunday we will have a Christmas redo. We will leave cookies and milk once again, I have placed a call to Mr. Claus and explained the situation. I explained that I only have one life and every Christmas counted. I told him that I F**** up Christmas and I declared a redo. I told him I'd never F*** it up again. I would just make better choices. Whatever the cost, whatever the price, I was declaring this redo and I needed his help.

He told me not to worry, that he would come through. But no presents, just homemade gifts, he'd eat the cookies and drink the milk and bless upon us what we missed......

Love and warmth and the connection that only a family can bring.

But first, there is Saturday and the Christmas Relays. There will be push ups and swimming and laughing. There will be friends and craziness all around. And I already know what thought will go through my head....

Now THIS is Christmas!

Thursday, December 25, 2008


In some ways this is the worst Christmas of my life. Then I think back to growing up and I realize.... hell no there were Christmas Days that sucked so much worse.

It's true that you can't pick your family, but you can always create your own. I suppose I have always been somewhat of a black sheep in this clan. Maybe it's because from age 10-20 I battled and battled and battled an eating disorder that almost took my life.... and in all honesty my brother and sister did just about everything they could to perpetuate that eating disorder..... while my parents did everything they could to stop it.

Perhaps because I am just different. If Christmas were my way we'd all be sledding down a hill right now or playing twister... but here at the Taj Mahal of my parents house Twister might mess something up and well sledding.... too cold.

There's nothing wrong with my siblings, they are much more cultured than I am. In fact it was a surprise when I showed up in my new winter coat.... it isn't black??? They couldn't believe it. Then..... oh my gawd I got bangs..... call the fashion press Mary has changed something.

In all fairness to them they believe that all I care about it the Ironman, and truthfully I have never done anything to straighten that out. I don't care about the Ironman (well, yes I do).... I love being active and I love to be outside.

They prefer to be drinking wine. Who is wrong? No one really.

My sister accidentally broke my nephew's drum. Sister 32 years old, nephew 2. As she sat and promised my 8 year old son (who has some pretty big developmental delays) a life of candy and fun in Paris.... where she lives.... and had him fully believing he'd be living a better life with her... beginning tomorrow...... (which I am going to have to pull a screaming 8 year old from the house tonight who doesn't understand she was kidding)..... forgive me for being a little snide and ratting her out to the 2 year old.

Enter World War Three.

You know how sisters can be. Especially ones who don't know what it is like to raise a child with some special needs. Who haven't had to battle for their life, who have pretty much lived the Princess life with the biggest obstacle being.... learning French.

And of course... this is me pissed and this is my side of the story.

But I have been in this position before and while I sit here being the one no one is speaking to at this moment.... while the living room is full of laughter and stories of Paris..... I finally feel some freedom.

I don't have to go back and try to make things right. I don't have to go back and try to patch things up and try to build relationships that have never existed. My brother and I have never had a good relationship and in the past 14 years years I guess we have tried to build one.... we are just different people.

I think about where I would rather be right now.... I can think of eight different places. Anywhere with Curt and Luc. With them on a beach in Hawaii drinking with Rachel. With them arriving at Marit's house because I know Luc would marvel at the biggest cat ever.

Driving through snow to Jen's or Liz's house where there would be laughter over.... I could think of a hundred things and no, they wouldn't necessarily have to do with triathlon.

I'd rather be running with Ashley in South Carolina listening to her Mom sing. I'd rather be hanging out with Leslie and listening to her husband and Curt connect. I can just see my sister and brother thinking I'd want to be out running with Ashley for running. What they don't' get is that it would be about spending time with friends, seeing the world differently than in museums and sightseeing tours. It's my way.

I'd rather be with the people I truly consider to be my family..... Amanda, Wendy, Mandy and the rest of my Breathe family.... hell my Peds Ed family.....

It's true that you can't pick your family. I have spent many years trying to build relationships with them... and they just don't' exist. So maybe this Christmas I can finally agree to disagree. To just realize that we are all different people who ended up under the same roof. I adore my mother and father but my siblings.... we just have nothing in common. And you know what? That's okay. I can't build something on nothing.

I look forward to class tomorrow to spend 75 minutes with people I consider to be amazing. I actually can't wait to get to work to hug my colleagues. I can't wait until Saturday morning swimming relays.

As I have encountered some frightening health scares this year. And who did I rely on? Wow..... not my sister, not my brother, not even my parents. The people who knew, the people who supported me, who sat with me while I was sick and enduring the worst of my life.....

Were the people I chose to surround myself with. Who understand that life is more than wrapped gifts and who got what. Life is bigger. Life is better. Life is far richer than all of that.

Life is about spending time with people. Life is about living. Not about faking it and not about fighting. So tonight when I leave all of this behind I will leave with a deeper understanding of family. A deeper understanding of love. And a deeper understanding of who I am.

Now that..... perhaps is the greatest gift I have ever gotten. Learned the hard way of course..... but that's the way I learn it best.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


From our family to yours...... the Merriest Christmas EVER!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

le dog mom.....

It's day four here of being the new dog mom, and my non parent friends keep grilling me on which is easier..... dog or baby? Well that's like comparing apples to oranges but there are a few things that are different so far that point out to me that dogs.... are a bit easier.

The one thing that would be easier about babies is that babies have diapers and it doesn't involve heading out into 18 degrees but feels like minus 3 weather to do their business. Mental note: don't get a puppy in the winter unless you enjoy freezing your ass off.

Here are the things I have noticed so far:

1. CRATES rule. Crate training the dog is the important thing we have been told. Can't Crate train a baby. Every so often you say to the dog "Crate time" and in they go, throw them a bone and she takes a nap.

2. CRATES are cheaper than the combination of crib + swing + rocker + all the other paraphernalia you get as a new parent only to learn that babies love boxes more than anything else.

3. Feeding: feeding a dog is much easier than feeding a baby. Here you go Fido! Throw it in a bowl and you are the instant best friend.

4. Maybe it is just me but no dog in the world barks or whines louder than my son did, and he did it for 6 weeks straight.

5. There are obedience classes for dogs.

6. I can leave the dog home a lone for a little while. No sitters involved.

And I am sure there will be more. So far: Dog easier than baby.

But then....... Cocoa will never have first words, first smiles, hang with me over hot cocoa..... (get it?) so comparing children to dogs is actually..... beyond wrong. :-)

However there is nothing quite like a boy and his dog. On day four Luc's interest continues to grow and grow. This is his dog and he will be the one who feeds it and takes it outside every two hours (except for the middle of the night I might want to add..... I am not sure why he has gotten out of that.... some crap about being 8 years old...). Watching a boy and his dog play makes me laugh so hard my abs hurt. Smile so big my mouth hurts. And wait in anticipation as this relationship grows.

This morning was our first actual Mom / Dog walk. She's still just 7 weeks old and she's freezing her little ass off too. There's something about the slow lane that I am finding appealing. People keep asking me if I will run with this dog. I have run alone my entire life, why would we start that now?

But walking.... now that's what I look forward to!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

the new arrival

While I was at work last evening the boys went to get her. Yes it is true, Cocoa is home! As I tiptoed through the door at midnight I found Cocoa in her crate in Luc's room, and both were sleeping soundly. This morning I officially got to meet her, but one thing was clear...... she and Luc had already begun to bond. He was up at 6:30 ready to fill her bowl and take her out.

Many warn me that his involvement as her dog owner will get old but trust me.... give this kid a job and he will follow through. In more ways than you can imagine Luc is not your typical 8 year old boy.

Thank God.

We have been so fortunate for the amount of advice we have been given from so many wonderful fellow dog owners. The messages we heard so clearly were that crate training is a must, obedience classes and be strict and consistent with commands and discipline. Except for the crate thing..... it's a lot like a baby. And cocoa's first day here is a lot like Luc's first day home.


That was the first day for Luc and he's been loud ever since. Must take after Curt.

So Coca has been looking around, hasn't barked yet, has been very good about crate time, and going outside. She is even starting to play with her main man.

So here is to a great new adventure with the littlest Eggers! Welcome home Cocoa!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

prayers please

I don't ever think you can underestimate the power of a prayer.
Or the spirit of a human being.
There is a young man who has been fighting one hell of a fight, who could use a few prayers this week. Many of us Rochesterians have known him for a few years.
He's an inspiration to all of us, and his friend Leah sums it up so beautifully here. Please check it out and if you don't mind while making that Christmas List..... take one item off, and add a prayer on.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

getting inked

After 12 years of thinking about it, I am getting a tattoo. I can hear my mother now. "Why would you do that to your body???"

I think tattoos are beautiful. I have always wanted one. For the past four years I have marveled at the tattoos of our Emergency Dept Pharmacy guy.... who has since moved to Arizona. Dan had just about every inch of his body tattooed and in true medical style even had DNR on his chest. His are art in my opinion and they were everywhere.

"But." My mother will shriek "What about when you are sixty?"

When I am sixty I can still be proud of this tattoo because it took me 12 years to assemble it, earn it, and it has so much meaning to me. I will not post the sketch.... it's over on FaceBook, because I am a horrible artist. But here is the breakdown:

M Dot: The M Dot? Seriously? Yes, seriously. Not because I want to join the trillion other M Dot tattooed people.... well then again, why not..... maybe I do. It's because what the M Dot has represented to me through my journey back to health. 12 years ago the idea of the Ironman was what saved me from a very bad period in my life. In a dark world it was a small ray of sunshine that was peeking through the clouds. The journey to the Ironman is really what it represents. A lot of hard work. A lot of soul searching. Finding myself again, and becoming who I am today.

The OM symbol. Yes, it's a yoga thing and if you don't know what the symbol means... that's why God created Google kids. The reason I use the Om symbol is of course for it's own meaning but the same way the Ironman brought me back to life.... the journey that I have taken on my mat both as a teacher and a student is what helped to give my life color again. I love that so many of you are giving yoga a try.... hang with it because soon if you are in the right class.... you will understand that while it is a physical practice..... it has so very very very little to do with poses.

The Sun: how this will work in will really require the help of the tattoo artist. I need the sun because it represents light. The sun is also the center of our small universe and in yoga when we salute the sun we are not only honoring the massive light which lights our own earth, we are also honoring the light that shines within us. It took me a long time to allow my own sun to rise. But I have found my light and you'd better believe I am gonna keep letting it shine.

As for colors.... a combination of reds, oranges yellows, I need the help of the artist on this.

The location? Oh no, oh yes. Right on the lower back. I hear this is called the Tramp Stamp.... and that makes me laugh. My husband too. As I scroll through body parts this is the place that feels the best to me. We each have our own place I think, and this one is mine.

Then.... if I have the balls to endure a little more pain I would like "Love this life" written along side my right foot. Beginning at my third toe and reading to the right. Just in case for some reason I ever forget.

I think a tattoo is a highly personal choice. They are for some, they are not for others. When I am sixty I know I will still be happy I did it. I will still be a triathlete and I will still be a yogi who is honoring the sun and loving this life.

Just like on the surface it might seem this tattoo will be about the Ironman and that strange symbol inside of it.... so our our lives. We are looked at and judged by what we put up here on blogs ... but it is in our hearts that matters. In our instincts, in our souls that makes the difference.

The appointment is Friday and of course...... there will be some pictures!

Monday, December 15, 2008

sad news

A runner died in the Dallas White Rock Marathon this weekend. A young woman, A newlywed. She was just 29 years old and she was an experienced runner. Here is the link to the story, I pose this here as yet another reminder to cherish each and every single day. I think most athletes would agree that if we have to choose our way to go, we can only hope it is doing what we love.

While I don't know this young woman, I imagine her family could always benefit from some extra prayers.

Friday, December 12, 2008

my Christmas wish

My Christmas wish is that we all hug one another a little closer and a little tighter this year. If nothing else I have learned just how important it is to hold one another close. If nothing else I have learned that there is no place form hidden meaning and innuendo, but every place for absolute truth. If nothing else I have learned that love is stronger than anything else. If nothing else I have learned just how much I love each and every single one of you.

I think that we are all a work in progress. I think that we all have the potential to live from a place of truth. And I know that living from a place of truth is actually easier than hiding behind a wall and running away. I know that I am not afraid that my intentions will be misinterpreted, I am not afraid of giving the feeling of love to anyone and I am not afraid of crossing boundaries. Boundaries are false lines we set up around ourselves to prevent us from pain. Pain is part of life.

I believe in the power of love. I believe that love ultimately heals. I believe that healing takes time and there are times healing is more painful than the painful event itself.

I believe that good will triumph over evil in the end. Be it in the war in the Middle East, or the wars that we battle here at home. In person, spirit and in society. Against illness, against evil..... good will be the winner in the end. We all won't get to that finish line intact but one thing is for sure.... if we go down fighting, if we go down with our head high and our heart in our sleeve ... the legacy will be a legacy of love, goodness and truth.... and that will eventually be the victor whether we are able to actually stand on that podium or not.

I know that in my heart I will win the battle that I continue to fight. I know that it has taken a bulldozer running over me more times than I want to admit to get me to stop and look around. I know that my finish line remains a moving target and I know that this experience is my own opportunity to move mountains in this world. I know that I have the choice to lie down and fight, or swim with sharks and feel every ounce of life as it presents itself. I might not choose the easiest road all of the time, but I always choose the richest.

I know that I do my best to practice what I preach and I appreciate the people in my life who take the time to call me on my hypocrisies. We know that our critics are those who love us the most. The worst place to be is in a place where no one cares to call you on yourself.

I will continue to put one foot in front of the other and I promise to let you know when I need to be carried as long as you promise that you will let me know when you need to be carried.

I will never run away from you..... even though you might run away from me.
I wish for all of us this year to live. To really live. Live at times without regard to time or place but live from that core place inside of us that guides us and teaches us and connects us together.

I promised you I would always be here no matter how high that wall was built. And I will keep that promise no matter what. NO MATTER WHAT.

My Christmas wish for all of us as I said before..... is to draw each other a little closer, hug one another a little tighter and live this life together, not separately. As I stood in the midst of chaos tonight, lives hanging in the balance including that of my dearest friend….. it was if nothing else a reminder.

A reminder that we are all human. A reminder that as humans we possess both the good and the bad. None of us are perfect. The worst place to be is in the position where no one tells you when you are screwing up. As I said before we know, we have learned that those who criticize you the most are the ones who love you the most. If nobody did….. it would mean nobody cared.

As I came home tonight I was lucky. First of all I was lucky to go home. Second I have a place to call a home, not just as a physical house but a family to come home to. Third….. right at this moment my family has the greatest gift we will all ever be given. Health. We have not always had that gift here, so you'd better believe we sink our feet into the sand and feel its warmth when we do.

This Christmas I say to every person that I know …. that I love you. Whether you are my friend or not, I still love you. Ultimately today is really all we have, and love is the most powerful gift in the world. If we have no love…… then we have nothing.

This Christmas I want us to hold one another a little bit tighter, feel a little bit deeper, meet ourselves where we are…… and continue to have hope…… that good will be the victor.

This Christmas I thank all of you...... every single one of you.... from the kindest to the most evil..... for the presence you have in my life. You will never understand that the lessons I learn, I learn from you. Thank you for that.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

heart rate monitor training revisited

Some thoughts on heart rate monitor training..... I wrote this last year and it is linked on the right. I'd love to hear some thoughts, opinions and disagreements if you'd like to begin a discussion!

Training by heart rate is a great way to train. There is a lot of information you can learn from a heart rate monitor. More often than not what I see happen with a heart rate monitor is that it slows people down. Which it should.

I met with an aspiring triathlete last week in fact, who is an extremely intelligent person. Try as I might I knew they were not buying the "slow down now, to go fast later." pitch. And I knew where the story would end. Not adhering to training zones, paces. Then burnout, injury and disgust would come next. We talked about base phases, but they believed they already had a base. We talked about the right intensity at the right time; they wanted it all of the time. They wanted to go hard, go fast and right now. Their goal race is in September. This is February.

So many athletes have a terrific work ethic, and the harder, better, faster, stronger theme applies well to them. The biggest challenge I have is slowing them down during training.I have been there myself. So we will cycle through tests. Swim tests, bike tests and running tests. We establish heart rate zones, T times, and V Dots.

More often than not I get this email;"I think my zone 2 is wrong. I am running with a cadence of 90, I am hitting my E pace, but I don't feel like I am working hard enough."

Bingo…. hold it right there. Don't change a thing.

I never have a question about a higher heart rate because no one has an issue with going harder.

Last week. I had the following question from one of my athletes:

If I open Joe Friel’s book, I can look up my LTHR and the table shows the heart rates for each of the zones. Zone 4 appears to be 96% of LTHR. My question really was is 96% accurate for all athletes, all ages. Zone 2 appears to be 85% - 91% of LTHR. Is it possible that for someone else it actually is 80% to 86%?

This was an excellent question. It brings up several good points. First point; Joel Friel's book. Joel Friel is the author of the Triathlete's Training Bible. As my coach says people believe it to be THE BIBLE. It's definitely a terrific resource, but the best coaches and athletes have plethora of resources they pull from. Now I am not arguing that Friel is wrong, his reputation speaks for itself. I am saying that there is more than one way to turn the wheel.

Friel has established a set of heart rate zones based on his theories, calculations, etc. Different people have different methods of calculating zones, and therefore different zones. Many coaches have developed their own zones, and these zones sometimes cross over, sometimes don't.

Below is an example from a very detailed spreadsheet my Coach, Trevor Syversen of TMS Mulstiport sent to me. I wish I knew who put all of this information in one place because it is a fabulous reference.

Take a look at the differences:


Athlete Data:

Age= 46 Max HR by either using the age predicted or age and gender formulas= 191
Resting heart rate = 58
Lactate Threshold= 170

Now according to Joel Friel the heart rate zones are:

1 65% - 81% 110.5 to 137.7 Recovery
2 82% - 88% 139.4 to 149.6 Aerobic
3 89% - 93% 151.3 to 158.1 Tempo

According to Andy Coggan the heart rate zones are:
1 <>2.5 Hr) road races
2 69% - 83% 110.4 to 132.8 Aerobic Capacity. Endurance paced training rides3 84% - 94% 134.4 to 152 Tempo rides, aerobic and anaerobic interval workouts (work & rest combined), longer (>2.5 Hr) road races

Cycle Coach Ric Stern bases his zones on Max Heart Rate
1 75% - 77.5% 143.25 to 148.025 Endurance Long Endurance 1.5 - 6 Hours
2 77.5% - 80% 148.025 to 152.8 Endurance Core Endurance
3 80% - 85% 152.8 to 162.35 Endurance Tempo Training

Sally Edwards uses Max Heart Rate Predictions
1 50% - 60% 95.5 to 114.6 Healthy Heart Zone
2 60% - 70% 114.6 to 133.7 Temperate Zone
3 70% - 80% 133.7 to 152.8 Aerobic Zone

The Karnoven Formula uses Max HR, Resting HR and Age
1 60% - 70% 137.8 to 151.1 Weight Management Zone
2 70% - 80% 151.1 to 164.4 Aerobic Zone
3 80% - 90% 164.4 to 177.7 Aerobic Threshold Zone

The American College of Sports Medicine uses Karvonen formula of Max HR and Resting HR
1 50% - 85% 124.5 to 171.05 20 - 60 Minutes continuous aerobic activity3 - 5 days per week, alternating days

So to make it even simpler, or perhaps more confusing, just look at zone 2. Again we are not looking for who is wrong or right, we are just looking that there are differences in how to attain, how to measure, and how to set. Just notice that differences exist.

Friel 139-149
Coggan 110-132
Stern 148-152
Edwards 114-133
Karvonen 151-164
ASCM 124-171

Has your head stopped spinning yet? Who is right? Doesn't that seem crazy? Which one to follow? How will you know if you are in the right place? The right zone?

Then begin to add in all of the variations that heart rate training can give you. 10 beats here for dehydration, - 5 beats there because it is cold.It's maddening.

Now…..My husband Curt is a 51 year old male. Triathlete for 20 years. At age 51 he's still kicking around the youngsters in our area. He's a four time National Champion after the age of 45. He's done Hawaii. He's been an All American a hundred years straight. In fact he's on this year's Inside Tri All American list. He's a Long Course Duathlon Silver Medalist.

Curt Eggers does not wear a heart rate monitor. He uses no computer on his bike; he likely doesn’t even know his resting heart rate. Power meter? No thanks. Garmin? Forget it.Tempo runs, sure he times and measures those but goes by the watch on his hand which does nothing more than start and stop.

His big training tools? A Timex Ironman watch and a big dose of Perceived Exertion.Would knowing his LT or his FTP make him any faster? Knowing Curt it'd drive him bananas.

Tell him to run at tempo pace? He finds it. It's in his heart. He knows it. He probably has the keenest ability of any person I know…. to know exactly where he is at all times.

His results speak for themselves.

With all the differences in zones and theories and the mix of perceived exertion, what are we to do?It's one of the reasons I love to train with Pace and Power ;-)

You have to use a combination of things, in my opinion. The largest priority should be given to Perceived Exertion, in my opinion. And there are even a bunch of Perceived Exertion charts out there.

I happen to like the one in Friel's book. For many of my athletes we have created our own simple version as well.

So the answer is not clear. There is no one correct answer, in my opinion. You have to weed though, understand the differences, and see what applies to you. Realize that HRM batteries will die, Power Meters will fail, Garmins won't locate.

HRM have their place. They are excellent tools to help you measure where you should and shouldn't be. They should be used as part of training. Not as the cornerstone.There comes a time when everything shuts off and you are just left with your breath, your own pace, the sound of your own feet crunching through a dirt trail. The sound of the wind and the chirping of the birds.

I can promise you that's what Curt notices every single time he runs.

You know when you are going too hard.

More important than the very most exact and correct zone….. is accepting that easy days are easy. Hard days are hard. And every single day is not hard.More important than which method is correct is understanding the principles of correctly building your season. You begin from the bottom up. You build a strong foundation with slow easy base work. Intensity has a place and a time, but without a foundation to support it, your house will fall down.

You wouldn't build the roof before you built the basement. And you wouldn't call it a house with only 1/2 inch of height on your basement.So start slow, start easy. Tune into yourself, and tune into what's around you. There is a place for heart rate monitoring. There is a place for measuring. Just don’t' get so caught up in the readings, zones, etc., that you forget to look around. Don't get so caught up in the math that you forget why you are out running in the first place.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

see this little light of mine?

All was going just fine in my dreams of racing in New Orleans this April. A nice… lake swim…. some sunshine….. then Kloner had to bump me back to reality.

Bull sharks.

Bull sharks? I thought. She's freaking crazy.

I saw this and nearly… okay I did crap myself. Wouldn't be the first time. It's pretty awesome that three of my four big races in 2009 involve shark infested water. It could be a cool way to die….. after the fact. Remember Mary….. she got eaten by that shark that one time…..

I began poking around on Amazon looking for some good book suggestions for my athletes. Ones on motivation, unlocking one's highest potential, training thy self to be positive….. and as I read through each book and or book review I kept coming back to one thing.

This is all….. bullshit.

All of these qualities…. motivation, believing in oneself, self trust….. every single one of those qualities are things that we were born with. Each and every single one of us. Some would say that we all have potential. Maybe even the same potential. I happen to agree.

When you were five years old you knew it. You were intuitive. You were motivated. You lived in the present moment without though or regard of what came before or what came next. Perhaps you pranced around the house with your Superman Cape on in your tightie (not a word.... made it up) whities (and same here). Maybe you pranced around with your tiara and princess dress on. You believed wholeheartedly that you could fly, that you could do bigger than life things, that you could save the world, that you were the fairy princess.

There was absolutely no doubt.

Then your pain in the ass older brother… or sister…. or someone…. came along and said "Take that thing off…. you look stupid."

Your big grand world came to a halt.

If you have ever seen Toy Story….. remember the scene where Buzz Lightyear realizes he is just a toy? Prior to that very moment he truly believed without any ounce of a doubt…. that he was the Buzz Lightyear. Until one moment on a television that crashed his entire world.

So what changed in that thirty seconds? Not one single thing except that there was a giant layer of doubt placed between his heart and his head. A big layer of uncertainty between his intuition and his brain.

Just like happened to you when you were told that red cape or that tiara….. was stupid.

If you just sit and reflect long enough….. you can probably come to that moment. The first person who caused you to feel doubt, or uncertainty…..reflect upon it long enough and you can probably feel that layer come between you and your dreams.

So you began to dream about it, but a little bit quieter this time. Maybe the only time you donned that red cape was when the brother wasn't around. But there was a clear disconnect and a distinct layer placed over your heart.

That right there is where this all began.

It's natural, it is part of life, it happens to all of us. As we travel this journey of life those layers keep getting piled on. Keep getting thicker. The gap, the disconnect between our head and our heart…. or rather our spirit grows bigger until they are possibly not even able to connect at all. They become two separate entities.

It manifests itself in so many different ways, and it's natural, not wrong. It happens to us all.

The first time you ran that 5K …. or whatever event you did…. there was a fracture in that layer. That inner spirit who loved to play superman…. a small ray of light came through that crack. You felt this amazing feeling…. I can't believe I did that…. you might have thought. You set a bigger goal but told no one about it, maybe because you were afraid that someone would cast the cloud of doubt over you again. And you accomplished the next big thing.

Maybe your thing isn't even athletic. Maybe it is working for NASA, or attaining your Bachelor's Degree, or learning to play the piano. Each and every one of us has it. We have always had it. It's just been hidden and then we find that one thing that fractures those layers just enough to let that beam of light shine through and light us up. It touches us enough to yearn to find out what else might be in there.

We all have everything we have ever needed right inside of us right this very minute. It doesn't need to be learned. It doesn't need to be found in a book, in an article, on a talk show. It is not something we want but don't have. It isn't like running or biking or swimming that can be developed.

It's right there. It has always been there. Remember that feeling while you wore that red cape? THAT IS IT RIGHT THERE. You see….. we have just spent years and years piling a bunch of shit on top of it.

Remember, the only thing that changed for Mr. Lightyear was the space between his ears. He never knew doubt before.

Well, now it is time to peel those layers back and get f****** rid of them. Enough already. Enough.

All you have to do to uncover those layers is pay attention to that ray of light that shines through. Really, that is all. You can read and listen to and make as many lists and notes that you want. But if you just give yourself the chance, let yourself dream the dream…. if you just begin to peel those layers back….. you will realize that everything you have ever needed was with you all this time.

It's been buried under doubt. It's been buried under I'm too slow, too thin… too fat…. too tall…. too short…. my bike isn't good enough….. I'm not fast enough…. I could never do that….. And I promise you this: no one, no therapist, no friend, no coach in the world can help you find that. Only you can. Only you have the power and ability to unlock all of it. You just have to believe.

In fact…. the more you let it shine…. the more people will try to attack you for it. Many people attack authenticity. Many people attack those things that they see in you…. happiness, self confidence, self worth….. they attack what they see but are afraid to find within them. It makes them feel good to try to push you down, as if by pushing you down they sail higher. That however is just their own unfortunate belief.

Because when you live directly from your heart you have this force field around you that will absolutely fend off that kind of stuff.

So the next time you begin to have the feeling of: I wish I had more self confidence, I wish I had a more positive attitude….. I wish someone could just tell me how to do it…… realize once again that these are never things that you need to develop, or even attain. You already have them, or else you wouldn't be standing here to begin with.

This season I invite you to peel those layers back. It's not easy and there is no direct way to do it except you must find a place to quiet your mind daily. Wherever that is for you. Pay attention to your own mirror. Each accomplishment you have that fractures those layers of doubt, bask in the warmth of that ray of light that shines through. Use that as your strength as you break apart those layers. Use each failure as an opportunity to come back to yourself, your heart and your spirit. Use those opportunities to not allow the doubt of others become another layer.

Find that feeling of standing at the top of the stairs with that red cape on and your hands on your hips. The feeling of quiet invincibility, unmistakable strength. Never worry that this will be mistaken for being conceited…. the only people who will ever think that are the same ones who attack you for being you… and remember it is your authenticity they fear because they have lost your own…. not because you are wrong.

As you stand at the next starting line with that shiny red cape on, feel that little light inside of you. Feel that light? Let it shine.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Sarah's Ironman Arizona Race Report

By Sarah Stanistreet.

Love. Patience. Belief. Honesty. Pain. Demons. Trust. Realization. Self-reflection. The ability to conquer anything.

Do you have those days when you wake up, so eager to conquer the world? Days where you're anxiously awaiting the moment when you can show yourself what you're all about? Have you ever had those days that put a smile on your face months and even years later?

I woke up this morning wishing for my day in Arizona all over again. The experience of a lifetime and a day that causes me to choke up even as I write about it. As I opened my eyes this morning I lay there, starring at my bike all squeaky clean mounted on my wall. What a beautiful and trusty Girlie I have. She knows me. She knows when I'm tired, when I'm frustrated and more importantly, she knows my desires and is willing to come along for the ride. I thought of two Sundays ago in amazement that its almost been two weeks. And yet the day is still with me. Branded on my hips with chaff scabs, seen on my toe with no nail and felt in my heart as it pounds with excitement and sheerlove. Sheer love. You may think I'm crazy, I often do. But there is something about going through hell to get to the other side that makes Ironman days the most amazing days of my life.

I arrived in Arizona alone. Alone and relaxed and ready to roll. You have to understand that this was my first big trip without someone beside me to hold my hand, pull the enormous but oh so amazing bike box (Kevtima you guys are GREAT!) behind me, flag down a taxi, and calm my nerves as I bumped into girls whom would I would be hunting down on Sunday. As I arrived at my hotel I open the door to find the most beautiful vase of flowers awaiting me. Hannah was with me:o) I unpacked, looking at all that I had brought and was proud. The hardest part was over and now it was time for some fun.

The few days leading up to the race I was as cool as a cucumber. I received my pretty silver wristband bought some swag and prided myself in how efficient I was at putting my bike together. If Handlebars Cycle Company wasn't so amazing to me, I would be my own mechanic:o)

I swam every morning in Tempe Town Lake with the thousands of other athletes and spectators and boy was it COLD! My legs went numb within the first minute of being in the water and I hoped that the race director's forecast for warmer temps on race morning held true. I met with Greg, a fellow athlete and new found friend from UB, a bit during our off time. This would be his first Ironman and I think I was more excited for his day of victory than I was about mine! :o) I spoke with Coach Mary several times before race day and I was at this point nervous that she was nervous that I wasn't nervous. And the truth was. I wasn't. Not one bit. I smiled as I talked with her and with family.

Mom and dad were hilarious. I would send pictures on my phone throughout the trip and mom would make sure that I wasn't talking to strangers and that I wasn't walking in places alone. Dad would send pictures of making beer in a friends basement, I would send pictures of measuring and preparing nutrition for race day:o) Ironman is family though, and here, you find love and guidance and 100% willingness to be your best friend, in everyone.

The day before race day I remember walking along the side of the lake thirsty for the water. I was ready to fly with the wind, be it at my back, my face or my side. I wanted to burn holes in my shoes and begin my brief parting with Ironman with a stamp that read, "You better watch out. I'll be back!" I was more ready than I knew.

The alarm clock rang at 4am race morning, and I will admit that I probably slept a total of 3 hours. I went about my routines, ate breakfast of 3 bottles of Boost, a cup of Kona Coffee, tried to eat toast with peanut butter (thankfully it didn't go to waste) and threw on my head phones and sat on the bathroom floor with the lights off for a few minutes. I knew I had a day ahead of me that would throw curve balls left and right and taking these moments the morning of race day allows me to gather myself before I plunge myself into pure pain for hours on end. I put on my new Handlebars jersey, tried to braid my hair as Hannah would and sent one last picture to my family and Adam letting them know that I loved them to cheer louder than ever and to wait for my call tonight.

Transition was insane, as always. This is the time when you come face to face with your competition. Literally. Girls were scampering all over the place putting nutrition on their bikes, trying to make small talk, sizing you up, trying to stay calm. It can get pretty overwhelming. I had bigger issues to worry about. My computer magnet was left on my training wheels at home so race morning, yes get ready for this, I was installing a computer onto my bike at 5:15am. At 5:45 it still wasn't picking up signal. I was chalking it up as, "oh well." At 6am I was given another computer, installed it by 6:20, caught a signal and racked the Girlie back up by 6:40 :o) Transition closed in ten minutes and I still needed to pump the tires, hit the bathroom, eat a banana and try to get in a few phone calls. Looking back I still have no idea how all of this happened :o)

I entered the water at 6:57 so excited! Ironman Arizona's swim course is one loop instead of two, and being that I have raced Ironman Lake Placid with two loops, I was a bit nervous about how long it would seem without the break up of loops in the middle. Bobbing in the water with 2200+ athletes knocks the worries out of you though, because you realize that you're all in this together. Mike Reilly shouted that everyone watching from above, on land and over the internet waves would be cheering with loads of love and to enjoy this day because it would be the boomed, I started my watch and with an enormous smile plunged my face into the water.

1:11 The swim went quick! Quick and rough. It was a fight fest out there with men and woman swimming over one another, tugging, pulling, fists and elbows knocking me in the head, gut, side. At one point I started to panic and had to recheck my mental voices. We're ok, just keeping swimming toward the sun. The turn around buoys were brutal to get around but as soon as I cleared them, it was smooth strokes and breathing that bought me home. Volunteers hoisted me out of the deep water, each grabbing one shoulder of my wetsuit. I have never been tossed around so much. One volunteer handed me off to another who threw me on the ground and three people whipped the westuit before I even knew what was happening. Dizzy and tying to get my bearings I sprinted to the transition tent, threw on my shoes, helmet, grabbed nutrition for the ride and was shouting enormous cries of thank you to every volunteer I passed :o) The goal was to be out of the water in 1:15. 1:11 put me ahead:o)

Starting the first loop of the three loop bike course was what I had expected. Windy, hot, windy and a test run to see what my legs wanted to produce that day. Within the first three minutes I noticed that my new bike computer was telling me I was going between 30-40 miles per hour. I had to laugh at this. After all of the trouble in transition this morning installing it, and in result, it wasn't calibrating properly. I began making goals based on time. Get to the turn around for the first loop by 1:15 and see where you go from there. There is always a Plan B in my head, and if that fails, you keep backing it up. The moment you let Ironman win, your day is done. Stay in control Sarah. The headwind on the way out to the turnaround was awful. And when I mean I awful, I mean I had to pray that I would at least make it through one loop of this course. I made it in 1:07 and was still ahead of schedule. Next goal was to make it back from my firstloop in under 2 hours. This would put me at a sub 6 hour ride. The beauty in all the efforts to get to the turnaround was that as soon as I make the turn, that wind pushed me and my Girlie home:o) And it did just that. I started the second loop at 1:55 with the biggest smile on my face. Things were working, when most people would think that everything was falling apart.

The second loop shifted the wind to my side. An awful bike crash on the Beeline Highway three mile climb brought many of us to a halt as we had to maneuver our way through the parts and people in the road. Kinda scary when you see bloody wounds laying on the side of the road. But no one said that this sport was easy. There were a few times I was sure that my Girlie and I were going to blow away in the wind. Try doing crunches with your inner thighs for four hours to stabilize yourself from falling over. As the afternoon went on I had to pull myself out of a few Ironman lows. I couldn't stay hydrated, I was literally going to the bathroom every five minutes, and for six hours, thats a lot of releiving:o) I was grabbing bananas at every aid station devouring them like brownies. And I HATE bananas. I was trying to keep my self steady and focused, and if they were doing the trick, you better believe I'm gonna take em. I started to get uncomfortablein the saddle around the start of the third loop and I it seemed that the moment I snatched water from a volunteer at the aid stations and dumped it over myself, I was dry a minute later. The sun was a scorcher and with the Arizona dirt surrounding me, there was not one moment of reprieve.

On the final turnaround of the bike course I was getting a bit nervous about this marathon. My IT Band was starting to flare up and causing me a lot of pain. Again, the Ironman low hit and it was a rough one to pull myself out of. I still had a marathon? Can I run a marathon? If I can't run, can I walk a marathon before midnight? You literally question every voice thats taunting you in your head. As I rolled back into town, I looked at my watch and saw a beautiful time of 5:58 on the watch:o) At that point, the low was no longer an option. I had just biked my fastest split EVER! I came here for a reason, and I wasn't about to let that reason slip away. Its the choices we make, and I made mine before I even arrived in Arizona. I raced off my bike, handed it off to a volunteer, flew into transition, slipped on my kicks, grabbed what I needed and started my hunt:o)

The first three miles of the run hurt...BAD. I was uncomfortable and tying to get into a groove. I had my Garmin on and made a choice as I started my run. I had just biked 112 miles with no idea of how fast I was going. I was going to run this run, and I was going to run it for me. And that meant not looking at the watch. You see, when you train every day, the way that you train for Ironman, you become your body's best friend. I know what different pains mean, what they will present in the upcoming miles, and more importantly, what I need to do to push through them. So e pace o no e pace, I made the decision to race this marathon with no regrets. And that meant allowing my heart to guide me. She'll tell me how I feel better than any watch can, and if this was going to be the last Ironman for a while, you better believe I wanted to tear it up.

The first thirteen miles I felt smooth and steady. I was eating and drinking water, gatorade, bananas and sucking on pretzels at every aid station. I chatted with a few people along the way, trying to keep other people's spirits up while keeping my mind off of what it was that I was doing. The sun was hot and there were a lot of people walking the first few miles. Similar to the bike course, the run was three loops and you better believe that I was scouting out every woman's calf as I ran by.
Mile sixteen I saw it. That wall you hear about during marathons when you start to slip, loose yourself, drift away into a fog and allow the trials and tribulations of the day take over. And this was not where I was expecting to hit it. I started to feel sleepy and you have no idea how badly I wanted to walk. And this is when I started to dig into my mental Ironman bank, that special place I store my "pick me ups" for this exact moment. I started thinking about all of you. Family, friends, strangers, who were anxiously watching my every step online. Every time I ran over a timing mat, I thought of the smiles and the excitement that it would bring my family. I could hear my mom screaming and see all of my grad friends confused as to what these stupid times meant:o) I started singing to myself, talking to myself, screaming at myself at points and it was around mile 20 when I started wheeling and dealing with the exhausted Sarah who just wanted togive up.

6 miles remained. I had no idea what my time was, what my pace was, where I ranked in my age group. I knew nothing but pain. I opted to chunk the miles up into smaller bits, eating piece by piece. "Two 5k's Sar! You can do this!" It's crazy writing this, because I know that I can't possibly convey how badly was I was falling apart.

My stomach was cramping, I started feeling nauseous, I was dizzy, my muscles were weakening and the pain was worse than I think I ever felt. Its almost like having the flu, with no energy and having to race 140.6 miles as fast and as hard as you can. Before I knew it, I was at mile 23, with 3.2 miles to go. And then 2.2 miles, and then 1.2 miles. I was ready to die. At this point I was eating whatever I could get my hands on, dousing myself with water at every moment I could, ice shoved down every open area of my tri top. The good news was that I knew I still running steady, and that whatever was happening in mybody was neutralized with what was happening in my heart and in my head.

Rounding the bend that led to the finish line of Ironman Arizona brought new meaning to my Ironman experience. As I crossed the finish line I began to well up with tears. Huge, enormous, gigantic tears. I had finished my third Ironman in 11:12:36!!! I was in pure amazement that I not only finished, but that I shaved off another 40 minutes. 40!!! Within a year I've taken over 2 hours off of my time by dedicating, believing and racing my heart out for my dreams, and they were coming true. With the jam packed swim, the windiest bike ride I've ever had, the hills and the dirt and gravel and ugliness that I was going through the last 10 miles, I was still able to it. My hopes of running a sub 4 hour marathon were smashed with a 3:54 and a well deserved third place age group finish.

As I stood at the finish, I became more emotional that I ever thought. I cried for my day, for my months of training while trying to get through my first semester of graduate school and an 18 credit work load. I cried for those not there with me with one that was there with me. I cried for my sacrifice and the joy that its benefits have brought me to. And I cried for me. How proud I was. How I never faltered when the computer broke, how I kept myself in check every moment of the day. How I trusted my heart and knew what I was there to do. I believed in myself, and thats all that mattered. I know, and only I know, what I have done to cross that line; racing on the brink of falling over the edge for 11:12:36. I cried because I know that this year will bring races that won't include Ironman. And that's not the easiest decision to make. This sport gives me something that I can't explain. It's not always about the beautiful scenery and feelinggood after workouts. Its about learning who I am. What I want in life. Who I want to be and how I can become that person. And doing things that are said to be impossible drive me to allow others to see and then believe that IT IS possible.

So as I left Arizona, I left with larger than life intentions. I don't know where this sport will bring me, but I do know that the waters and roads better watch out when I come back. Me and my Girlie are on a mission, and we've got some serious "secrets" that we've been keeping. For now, she is racked on the wall of my bedroom, resting up for a year of fun times! And as for me? I've got another plane to catch. A well deserved vacation to visit friends, family, gain some holiday face stuffing weight and enjoy every minute of down time, sleep and glasses of beer as I'd like:o)

Thank you to everyone for the emails, calls, support and love along the way. Nothing ever goes unnoticed:o) Until next time!
Loads and loads of love and kisses and hugs! SARAH!