Wednesday, April 30, 2008

So Far.... So Good

I made it through day one of the six crazy days. Today is day two. On tap we have a run, Masters where Heidi Grimm has flown into town and let me know she's coming for me.... (it isn't the first time I have swum in a Grimm snadwhich!) ....two yoga classes, a tempo bike, Luc to the dentist, a presentation as a final right into the Mexico NY yoga class at Breathe!

Most of our studio is on a retreat in Maya Tulum. For the life of me I can't remember suddenly why I didn't go. So those of us who are behind.... we are celebrating. We've got grass skirts, sombreros, Mexican Music..... it's Mexico NY night at Breathe!

Okay..... I will admit there is a bit of crossover confusion between Hawaii and Mexico, but as most Americans in Mexico will say "It seemed like a good idea at the time."

Today I shall only think about Wednesday. As I drive and see planes landing and taking off from the Rochester International airport I will ignore my heart leaping in anticipation of my departure in just one week. I will turn off dreams of the ocean by noon (right Marit) and giving Marit and Ashley great big hugs. I will not think of the sun on my back, the excitement of racking my bike and the thrill of the gun sounding.

Soon enough it shall come. Soon enough.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

One Day At A Time

I sat down and looked at my week yesterday and I almost threw up in my mouth. It's crazy. It's finals time, it's an insane work week, it's the last big week before Gulf Coast.... and admittedly I am feeling overwhelmed.

During our long run this morning Sarah was feeling the same way. It's crunch time for both of us.

The main reason I work as a Pediatric Emergency nurse is because I have the amazing benefit of free tuition at the University of Rochester. So working just 2 days a week gives me a free ... normally $1K per credit.... education. That's a huge benefit.

Plus I do love what I do. It would be easy to step out of this world and into the coaching world. Not until I finish my degree though.

To not use vacation time that I love to save (I have this thing with numbers I suppose...) I am working a four day stretch this weekend, preparing for 2 final presentations, writing programs, guiding my athletes and prepping for a 1/2 Ironman in Florida next weekend.


Life looks big when you look at it like that. So you can't. You have to turn off tomorrow and the day after. You can only look at today. Today, is Tuesday. Long run complete. I know my training is where it should be when I am a bit tired on the run. When the hills feel bigger. I'm almost cooked, almost well done.

Next up my spinning class, which I love. The kids are amazing.

The rest of the afternoon is devoted to a presentation I have to give on Wednesday. Wednesday itself is an exciting day but more on that tomorrow.

My favorite part of today will be at 8pm. One of my athletes, Rena is competing at Ironman Brazil in just a few weeks. We are nailing down the details of her day. Nutrition, gear bags, etc. She's worked so hard and I can't wait..... can't wait to follow her on race day.

Today is all we have. Right here and right now. It's easy to get caught up in the bigness of the next 7 days. Sarah and I promised each other we would not let that happen.

Come next Tuesday morning when we run along Main street, the big stuff will be finished and I will be 2 days away from running down a Jetway and hopping on an airplane.

And flying directly to the sun!!!

Monday, April 28, 2008


The picture on the left is the view of the sunset in Panama City Beach, from my hotel balcony. The picture on the right is of Luc in the world's greatest sandbox!!!!! And Panama City Beach is where I am headed!!!!!

I admit, I am an early bird. Especially these days with my 2 work days a week being during.... the day rather than the night! There's something to be said for a good night's sleep!

Someone asked what the hell I do up so early? How do I wake up? Well I go to bed by 9. And I naturally wake up between 3-3:30 and I swear to God my heart is fluttering. Why? Not because of nerves. Because of what I get to do each and every single day.

The way I see it every single day is an opportunity. I know that I have an ability, and a talent. I am no Chrissie Wellington but I can swim bike and run and more importantly than whether I do it well or not, I love it.

I love it.

I don't feel obsessed (that might be debatable). It's not the feeling of.... oh no I must get my workout in.... it's the feeling of.... holy camole today is an FTP ride, or today is long run Tuesday, this is the life! I feel lucky. I feel blessed. I feel so happy to be a part of this sport and a part of the entire family that comes with it.

This morning is the first Monday I am actually going to be able to make a Monday Masters practice! I know that 8 X 200's pull are on tap on the 2:40. I know that means touch the wall and go. And I can't wait for the challenge. Grimm and I will lock arms a few times, but I am ready for it!

Also this morning I get to practice yoga in the kitchen. Now my husband won't allow me to heat it up to my typical 110 degrees, that's for the studio..... but guess what? My side Bakasana is really coming along! Now the metaphysical benefits of my practice far outweigh the physical, but when you are putting in 20 hour training weeks it feels like a darn good way to begin my day.

I don't practice to anything but my iPOd, a playlist. No yoga music. Just music. Moby.... Snow Patrol.... maybe a little Krishna Das. As a teacher I know the sequences and a student I am still learning. I guess my yoga practice isn't something I talk a lot about. It really is unexplainable. It's something I love to do.

In Florida I will practice on my hotel balcony early in the morning with the ocean in my view. The waves rolling onto the beach and the sound of birds and just.... life. A moment to connect, to become present and just to open my eyes and see the beauty of the world aorund me.
Does it get any better than that?

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Looks like Jen had the right helmet and from the looks of these splits it looks like it was a very good race between Jen, Bri and Beth in the Elite Amateur Female division:
7 Beth Shutt 2:14:40: 25:01 / 1:05:56 / 40:40
8 Jennifer Harrison 2:14:50: 22:47 / 1:06:13 / 42:59
9 Brianne Gaal 2:15:48 22:57 / 1:07:27 / 42:47
That's smokin fast ladies! Speaking of smokin fast Bree Wee was 9th and check out who she's keeping company in the top ten there!
Brooke Meyers looked like she had a strong day.... 29th our of 105 in her age group! WOO HOO!
Congrats to all of you! We are so proud! What a great day!!!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008


This fall I have been offered an amazing opportunity. I have been offered the opportunity to travel to Haiti and work with an organization called Hope Haiti, which one of my yoga students and friends, Michael Shilds is a part of. What would I do? I'd be a nurse in a clinic there and see first hand exactly what they do not have in Haiti. I'd have the chance to do something really important and really meaningful.

The funny thing is, I have gotten nothing but resistance from my family. Those who would never do something like this send me daily warnings of travel from the State Department. There is so much however that is not known about the region. It's what groups like Hope Haiti and Climbing for Christ have discovered.

An opportunity to make a difference.

Is there anything better?

I have a talent. I am a really good nurse and I say that with confidence and not with arrogance. I can keep my wits about me when things are hitting the fan. When arms come off, when lives are hanging. I can get an IV into anything. I can take orders without taking them personally.

There are no many moments as a nurse that have change the very core of who I am. Moments that have shaken me and brought me to tears with families.

It's easy to get caught up in the other stuff. One of the big reasons I continue to work as a nurse (it would be so very easy for me to leave the field and coach full time...) is because it is my chance to give back, to remain in touch with reality, keep my feet on the ground.

So what better way to do something good and have a life changing experience than to go to somewhere where this talent of mine could be used?

Much more to come, I think this is so very exciting!

The Passion

Just a picture of my race suit for Gulf Coast, well really I was caught trying it on by a 7 year old and a camera.....
Less than 2 weeks to race day and I simply can not wait. I feel like a bear in a cage.... let me have at it!!!!

Coach T has warned me, simmer down cowgirl he said! Gulf Coast is the test, Lake Placid is the prize... and I know he will have me rocking up until race day. Still however, how I feel I am prepared right now as opposed to last year at this time, or the year before, or the year before..... is a massive step ahead.

It might very well be in my head ... but isn't that where it should be? I feel I can just lay it all down at Gulf Coast and race on passion. Yes there will be fatigue from not much of a taper, and the big weeks I am putting in, and all of that. But I don't care if I am 70% or 100% ready I am willing to see what happens.

I am just ready to feel the last 30 seconds before the gun shoots off and we all run into the ocean together. When the world stops and time stands still. And my heart pounds with pure excitement. Fingers on watches, track stances taken, bikes ready to go, sunshine ready to burn me to a crisp.....

I see now how the build has worked. Rather than sit me on the trainer for the typical 5 hour indoor rides we worked intensity early on the bike. We got my long runs up early ... I was told I'd be running 2 hours every weekend for the rest of my life ..... oh we just happened to change that to Tuesdays...... and my swim.... feeling good.

It doesn't matter what your fitness level is, what percentage. If you can race from your heart, from the deepest point of your passion..... if you can throw fear away and not be afraid to come apart..... that's the victory. While victory comes in times and placings... it also comes from that place deep within you that lets you know you are alive.

The passion.

For the first time in a long time I feel it swirling through me. And in 14 days when that gun goes off I will race according to plan.... with the addition of a lot of heart.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


This picture is from The 2006 Ford Ironman World Championships 70.3. I just like that it has a great big long name. It's me, Kelly B., and Pelee after the race at the banquet on the beach. We were right next to the ocean at a table in the sand.

Does it get any better than that?

I was thinking of comparisons the other day. Comparisons that we all make. Between one another in relationship to ourselves and our fitness. When Curt and I first met I used to go our on 50 mile rides with him and his buddies each weekend. I got my ass handed to me each time. I would get very angry because I was always getting dropped. I was working harder than all of them put together and their 50 miles rides were so easy for them. I would always wonder how much further, how much longer? Why was this taking forever?

A year later..... I completely fell in love with riding long.

The most magical things happened when I let go of comparing myself to Curt and the guys.The most amazing things happened to me when I let go of impatience, expectations, and all of that stuff that we carry in our bag of stuff. Or in yoga I like to call it our bag of shit.

Suddenly one day I was free. We were riding, my head was clear, my heart was into the ride. The hours passed so quickly and I swear to god when I finally looked around me.... I had dropped not only Curt but all of them. And they didn't know what hit them.

I wasn't sure what hit me exactly. I think that the moment we let go of things are the moments that we really take off.

And that's how it is with the Ironman and the 70.3 distance. We can choose how we spend this training and we can choose how we spend race day. We can spend it bitter that we are working harder than someone and not as fast..... or we can let go of that, we can drop our bag of shit and we can truly ride in the moment. Enjoy the experience of riding. Of being out there. Of being with people or being alone.

Comparing ourselves is a waste of time. I won't do it. I won't give energy to others who do it. It's a waste to be quite honest. The time you waste comparing yourself to other athletes could be better spent drinking a cup of HTFU and looking in the mirror.

Do you know what happened to me the exact moment I dropped my own bag of shit and I stopped trying to find the easy way and I stopped trying to dissect each and every piece. When I stepped back and took the whole picture as it was. When I stopped placing blame on power meters or numbers or this or that. Do you know what happened to me?

10:58.58 is what happened. I don't mean that as "I am amazing I broke 11 hours!" (it was IMFL, come on!) I mean that as... things sometimes happen when you take away the elements of control, fight and break down your own brick walls. That's what I mean.

With this sport there is no easy way. I like to think of the Ironman as a great big ball of energy that is right in front of me. You can't go over it. You can't go around it. You can't go under it. You have to go through it. You might run a 2:32 marathon but if you get on your bike in March for the first time, the Ironman has plans for you that no coach can correct.

You might be Lance Armstrong on the bike but if you don't put in the time or the miles the Ironman has different plans for you.

The Ironman doesn't care about you. It does not care how much money you make, or money you don't make. It doesn't care your marathon PR or your Olympic distance placing at FLT in 2007. The Ironman doesn't care how old, thin, fat or young you are.

The Ironman wants to make you cry. It wants to make you throw up. It wants to stir with your emotions and it wants to mess with your head. The Ironman loves the Type triple A person the most. It loves to mess with the people who believe they are most in control.

The Ironman is a great big giant mirror that you will stare into for upwards of 17 hours. There is no faking in the Ironman. There is no hiding. There is no running your way to anything. This race will rip you open and tear you up. No matter how fast you are.

And you'd better be comfortable with seeing the ugliest past of yourself. The weakest, whiniest and at the same time the strongest self you can be.

You have to walk through the fire to get to that finish line. Ironman finishing medals aren't for everyone. And there is no easy way.

Except to go right through it.

Many of you have met my friend the Ironman. He and I have gone a few rounds. Some right, some wrong. Some so-so. I would be telling the truth when I say that the Ironman is one of my greatest friends.

He keeps me honest. He makes me work for it. He makes me yearn for it. He ignites the passion I have for what I do. He makes me stay real.

HTFU! And enjoy that sunshine!

Friday, April 18, 2008

What would you be remembered for?

The last lecture made me think. About a lot of things. Especially my son. What if it was I who was standing on that podium? What if it were me who had to leave a legacy?
What would I want the memories of me to be like?

I thought of my son. It's he who I would care the most to make positive happy memories for. It is he who I would do everything within my power to change the world for.

If you had a short time to live….. what would be your legacy?

I would not have memories of me being on the couch and of him watching cartoons. I would want him to remember riding our tandem bikes. Today he was screaming at me to go faster and I was happy to oblige.

He told me I was the coolest Mom ever.

That filled my heart with so much.

I would want him to remember me as the coolest Mom ever. The Mom who was always a little muddy. I want him to remember his Mom as always having a sunburnt nose. I want him to remember screaming in the thrill of the wind whipping through his helmet.

I would want him to remember me as a Mom who was brave. I want him to remember me as a Mom who would rather hang at the beach than clean the house. I want him to know I could care less about dust and vacuums because I know he's more important.

I would want to be remembered as the funniest Mom on earth.

I would want to be remembered as the Mom who has more bikes than she should actually knows how to surf.

The Mom who knows how to throw a baseball and a football.

Who loves to wrestle in the pouring rain and roll around in the mud.

Who hates to wear shoes.

Who loves to ride and ride fast.

Who loves to jump into the ocean with sharks.

I want to be remembered as the Mom who is not afraid to be afraid.

I would want Luc to remember his Mom as a warrior. Someone who was not afraid of life. Someone who was not afraid of death. Someone who did the right thing. Someone who lived from her heart. Someone who helped make the world a better place.

I would want him to think of me with a laugh and not a tear.

If I get to have anything to do with how this ends that is what I wish my legacy to be. I'm the girl who isn't afraid to be muddy, confused, scared, or happy. Who lives without restraints. Who lives each and every single day as it is her last. Because at this very moment our days are numbered and what if I have to draw a straw and it is short one?

Because if I go….. and one day we will all go…. and if this were any of you then I would promise……

That I would be remembered with a smile and a big belly laugh. Such a big laugh it makes your stomach hurt.

That I would be remembered with more laughter than tears.

That I would be remembered with happiness and not sadness.

That I would be remembered as someone who never gave up.

That I would be remembered as a girl who loved to love. And who loved to be loved.

That I would be the story that begins with "remember that time that she…"

That you would watch over my son and tell him the stories he does not know. And let him know how he was my universe. That everything I did I did for him. That there was so much I wanted him to see in this world and no matter what he chooses or where he goes he will always have my love. Always. That I was not in pain. That I loved him so very very very much. With everything I am and ever was. And that I will always be with him. Always.

That you would throw my ashes into the ocean and tell him that whenever he needs me, to come to the water. It will be there that I hold him safe.

That you would come too and let me hold you safe.

That somewhere over the rainbow we will all meet again. And I would be standing with the pot of gold, which will be the greatest memory we have together. And I will wait for as long as I have to.

Because I would do the same for you.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tuesday Skirt Runs

We've decided to take a photo after each long run on Super Secret Hot Chicks in Skirts Long Run Tuesdays. The rule is that it must be silly. We strategically tried to place our hands so it looked like we were petting the alligator (because we truthfully were too tired to step up onto the garden next to it), and yes, this week it's Tim Horton's in the background. Special thanks to Adam who got dragged out of bed for this photo op.

Although in the afternoon we are in the 60's this morning we were at a balmy 35 degrees. Which is really cold when you are wearing a skirt. At one point I turned to Sarah and asked her if she saw my legs because I couldn't feel them.

We might as well have called it Confession Tuesday..... because Sarah made 2 confessions to make to me. And apparently I am the last one to know. This is not new news. This morning Sarah admitted to me that in T1 at IMLP last year she stopped to out detangler in her hair. Confession #2 was that at Around the Bay 3 weeks ago she wore mascara. So she wouldn't look albino in her race pictures.

I almost threw up in my mouth. Twice. No, I did actually throw up in my mouth. Twice. Somewhere Coach T just passed out.

The morning was cool but the sky was full of stars. We took to some more hills this week before we hit our Main Street Streak at the end of the run. It's interesting what happens when the pace gets faster. We start to strip. Fuel belts, shirts. We ether tie them to us or throw them into some one's yard. Know that if you wake up with a shirt tied to your mailbox we will be back to pick it up.

We are strippers not litterers.

Scary moment of the morning was running through a neighborhood. Little did we know it was our friend Alan's neighborhood. So when he emerged from the darkness to join us for a few steps (in jeans mind you) I thought Sarah was going to pass out. That's really me covering for admitting that I was also.

So here it was once again that the conversation diminished as the pace quickened. Our breath and our feet were the only sounds. It's what I have come to love about Tuesday mornings. Pace, breath and running. Who would have though I would love to run so much? (Coach T did....)

As we completed our Main Street Streak... we called out the minutes. Three, then Two, then run for your life. I swear we wore smiles as big as the earth. I swear we had visions of Ironman finish lines in our minds. I know that we were willing the other to stay with ourselves.

Does it get any better than this?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Leslie Curley is an Ironman!

Congrats to Leslie Curley who completed Ironman Arizona in absolute style on Sunday! Looks like Camp HTFU did her good! WOO HOO! Way to go Leslie!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

One to watch

If you have not watched this lecture, get a cup of coffee, sit down and listen. It took me weeks to "find the time" to watch it. This morning I did so while sitting on my bike. It's not about death, it is not about spirituality, it is about your life's purpose. And living the life of your dreams.

I sent it to my father. He said the fact that this thing is 76 minutes long, deterred him from viewing. But what if you were dying and you had 76 minutes to leave a legacy. To make a statement. To sum up your life.

After weeks of avoiding it, I found 76 minutes. In the grand scheme of things 76 minutes is not a long time at all.

One of the things that stood out to me from this lecture was the theory of the brick wall. We all face brick walls within our lives. Whether it be in sport, education, etc. The brick wall is there to keep those who don't really want something..... out. It is there to allow those who really do want something..... to show that they want it.

I think about this sport that we do. I think about my life as a swimmer. My father put me in a swimming pool for a reason bigger than being a superstar swimmer. There were lessons learned bouncing off walls and following the black line that were much bigger. Much more important. Lessons that for me could not be learned any other way.

1. Dealing with people. Put 8 girls in a lane together and soon you learn how to get along and get past the crap. Suddenly who says what doesn't matter. Bad hair days don't exist. When the second hand hits the top of the clock it is go time and we'd better be ready.

2. Teamwork. How many times did I walk along the side of the pool screaming for my teammates. How many times did they walk the 500, or the 1000 with me. How many times have you watched the Olympics, the ice skating. When the skater jumps you jump. When they land and nail it you exhale. How many times did I will my teammate to pull ahead of her competition? I learned to go beyond myself and give energy and love to other people. Swimming is a uniquely solo yet team sport. So much happens between your own ears but collectively you are a team. You are a part of the whole.

3. My critics really do love me. As I realized by watching the Last Lecture.... the people who are hardest on you, love you the most. I had a coach who harped and harped on me for breathing every stroke. But that showed he cared. The worst position to be in is to be screwing up and not having someone tell you that you are. Not telling you, shows they no longer care.

4. The importance of hard work. Nothing in life is worth having if it is easy to come by. Money, ability, marriage, and children. Hard work means putting aside the story, putting your nose to the grind, stepping into the middle of the fire and allowing yourself to hurt. I always say that the bigger the brick wall.... the higher I will climb. Nothing is worth achieving without blood sweat and tears. Breaking 5:30 for the 500 freestyle never came easy. When it happened I laid on the pool deck and cried. My teammates jumped on top of me. It was hard. Finishing the Ironman..... well enough said about that.

Those are just a few of the lessons. A glimpse. A scratching of the surface. I am always amazed at how our life shapes us. How experiences in childhood completely change who we are are who we will become.

Give yourself the gift of 76 minutes. Click above and sit back. You will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Run For Joy

This is a picture of my friend / training partner / athlete….. Sarah, and I. I sometimes call her my protégé. I always call her my sister. There are things that happen between miles, between friends. Words never spoken but so much just known.

Sunday I was not too far behind Sarah at the race. I could see her occasionally glance over her shoulder. I knew she was hoping I was near her. I could anticipate when she would look back and I would give her the thumbs up.

It's something shared between people. A common thread, a common passion. Whether It be running, swimming, cycling, walking, yoga, or even ice cream. Sometimes the most monumental moments are the moments of silence.

This morning Sarah and I began our super secret long tempo runs. It's actually the workout Coach T gives me and I have roped Sarah in. If anyone has developed an addiction to the Ironman it's Sarah. Two girls addicted to the Ironman running around town at 5am. Looking for the Wizard (thank you ELF for that!) and finding out who we really are. Filling our lives with color.

When I crossed the finish line at IMFL in November I found my phone, dialed Sarah and screamed. Just screamed into the phone. She screamed back. We just screamed like 2 school girls who just heard there were tickets for New Kids on the Block on sale.

In my entire life I have never had that. There's a lot in my life now that I have never had. My life is full of color and richness. It's why I hold these experiences so close to me.

Sunday morning the texts started flying between Sarah and I. Skirt or tights? Sportsbra or T shirt? Fuel Belt? Socks with sneakers? Which hat are you wearing??? These moments are the treasures.

People think we run away from our lives. I can't explain to them I run right at my life. Through sport my life has been enriched. Through these miles memories have been made.

Today we ran for joy. We ran because the morning came to us and asked us to. The sun rose slowly and the chill in the air was welcome. It reminded me summer was coming. It reminded me that the Lilac bush outside my kitchen would be in full bloom soon. The peanese along my driveway would be blossoming with big heavy flowers.

It's like there is an outline of me and it’s once again slowly getting colored in. This time the colors are brighter, carefully selected. Deeper and richer.

The first 75 minutes were E pace. We took to the hills of Victor. Up High Street, right on Lane, back to Main. Up High again, and all the way down to where it lets out at the Eastview Mall. It was here where Marathon Pace began. We ran down Main Street as the morning traffic drove past us. I imagine how strange we looked. 2 girls in skirts running away. At times laughing and most of the time holding our pace.

We turned right onto a street that took us through some neighborhoods. We knew Tempo pace was quickly coming. We knew the pace and we knew what we had to keep. I told Sarah we were entering to box of hurt and we were looking for the Wizard. I told Sarah that I wanted her to reach out and grab a piece of his robe and bring it back. She nervously said okay.

Go time. T pace. We began downhill, which sounds nice but when it was hour #2 downhill was worse than uphill. We allowed gravity to pull us along. I'd shout to her "Too Fast…. Too slow….. PERFECT" when we were on or off pace.

It took Sarah 5 minutes into T pace to shout PANCAKES. I couldn't believe it took her so long. I started to laugh.

We made a left on Main street. We raced just 2 days ago and I could feel it. I began reading signs on buildings. At the end of a long run…. it feels a lot like being drunk. I saw the name of one of my friends who is a lawyer on a building… and suddenly I couldn't’t' remember what town I was in. For an entire minute I thought I was downtown Rochester… did he have an office out here? What street is this? Why am I running downtown? How did I get here? Then I ran right into Sarah.

We hit the last 5 minutes. GO TIME. I shouted. Main street was buzzing, we were running fast. We decided to turn in front of Victor Advanced Chiropractic which was the most painful decision of the day.

Three minutes, I told Sarah. And we ran. At one minute I told her…. this is the Ironman finish line and you are about to hit your dream time. Run like you want it….. we ran shoulder to shoulder, holding onto a dream, a pace and a smile.

And then we were done. We slapped a high five and began our walk back to Pappa Jack's.

It was 7:15 am and we were done with the hardest workout of the day. We were smiling. We were laughing. The employees from the Town Of Victor were departing Pappa Jacks and cheered us out their windows. They asked us if the streets were clean enough for us, we told them they were!

The Ironman is made out of moments and memories like these. It is during the race that I look back and I laugh at how I see how long it takes Sarah to shout PANCAKES during a hard run. Or the time Pelee called me in Lake Placid as he was shitting himself on his bike. And I went to save him. Or the time Glenn ran towards Foster 1 during a training run and Mike ran the hell away.

Or the moment the phrase "Prairie Schooner" was coined.

These are the moments I live for. These are the moments I reach for. A lifetime of memories. A treasure chest full of good clean ridiculous fun.

Today we ran for joy.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Dropping My Bag Of S***

In 2005 -06 I partially tore my Achilles tendon. It was horrible. I had to wear a boot. For weeks I cycled with one leg and swam with my feet tied together. The road back from that was very slow and I was very cautious. I only ran three days a week and it took a long time to get my mental and my physical running strength back.

I was never a stellar runner but in 2004-05 I was beginning to make some progress. To be injured just blew me apart.

Last winter at a party I ran into coach T. Trevor Syversen is his real name and I suspect he might hate being called Coach T. But I also routinely gave my college swim coach the middle finger during sets which bought me nothing but harder sets. I have a mental T shirt that says "I hate Coach T" and I suspect the same happens to me.

But like any good coach I am told to HTFU, "cry me a river princess", etc. That's why I have the coach I have.

So over a year ago Coach T told me he would have me running every single day if he were my coach. I balked. EVERY DAY? Was he crazy? I'd be injured! I am not a runner. The little story I spun, that little story we all spin.... I call it our bag of shit.... started to develop.... I could never run every single day.... blah blah blah..... and I remember him repeating it. And repeating it..... I'd have you run every single day.

So after Ironman lake Placid I enlisted his help for Ironman Florida. You know what the first thing he did was? Launch me into a running camp. 14 days of straight running. I missed one day because I was in the hospital with my son... he had broken his leg... and you know what? I got slapped with a double run day to make it up.

Believe me as much as I sound like I am complaining I enjoy this type of coaching more than you know. Maybe I have a fascination with pain.

The thing is however, running is not painful... anymore. Running is awesome. Running is what I crave. What it took to get me to the point where I could run painlessly every single day... was running the correct paces on the correct days.

Coach T taught me about Jack Daniels and the V Dot system.

My old pace for every run would be about 8-8:30. That matched my proverbial "heart rate zone 2". 3 weeks after Ironman Lake Placid Coach T met me at the track (AAAAHHHH) and timed me in a 5K.... on the track....... which might have been as fun as having my eyeballs ripped out with a metal stick.

From that 5K time he established my V dot and my subsequent paces. For example my E pace was now 9:15-9:30. I crapped my pants. NINE FIFTEEN???? I emotionally balked as Mary there athlete protested...... how would this make me faster? Mary the coach smiled, I knew he was right.

So I started running my prescribed pace. Suddenly I had a much faster cadence. My foot landing was midfoot. I felt lighter. For fourteen days in a row I ran E pace, and I had runs of varying lengths. Form 30-45 minutes. Long run one hour.

At the end of that 2 weeks I felt very different. I felt GOOD!

From there Coach T broke up my runs. Easy days easy, hard days hard. Which meant I had exact paces to hit. Tempo runs and long runs all had a purpose and would be sandwiched by E paced runs. It came to the point where I could run E paced in my sleep.

Which is what we wanted in an Ironman.

During an Ironman you can expect to hold an E pace. For runners like me at least who haven't had that stellar marathon. Then you build from there and aim for those faster paces. I didn't have a great Ironman marathon so that's where we began. And I did just that in Ironman Florida. The entire marathon I felt awesome, in control, like a runner.


Fast forward to Sunday. Through the winter I have been running just about every single day. I ran in 10Ks and I didn't have spectacular times, but I wasn't looking for times. I was there looking to learn how to handle running pain, pushing pain through snow, wind.... all to allow me a little HTFU. I've been running tempo with exact paces to hold and we just began the long run work. The volume is there and Coach T is adding quality. I firmly believe these long run structures are what will make or break the deal.

At the Spring Forward I didn't hold some magical sub 6 minute pace. I am not there just yet. It was my fastest or near fastest time on the course. I do all of my long runs on this course and 2008 brought me something during this race I have never felt before.....

I felt strong. And I was passing people. Many commented "WOW MARY YOU LOOK STRONG." which if you are me is a compliment of the highest order. Mary and the word strong in the running arena have never really matched.

I was running in control, I was feeling powerful up the hills, and I was fearless, absent of fear, absent of self doubt and full of strength. Today would be about proving to myself I can in fact run. I can in fact finish strong, and I can in fact go for it.

I didn't win the race, but I won so much else. The feeling of not backing off hills. The feeling of meeting fatigue and not allowing it to overtake me. In fact in retrospect I don't remember fatigue at all. I just remember running happy. Running free.

That's something I have never had running. RUNNING!

At the end of a 17 hour training week I was more than thrilled. I was ecstatic.

I look back at that conversation I had with Coach T a year ago and how I laughed at running every day. Now I laugh at myself. It took me dropping that bag of shit. It took me taking a chance. And my Achilles? Healed. They never give me problems. It's because I am running the right pace for me.

Things are falling into place. I can see the fruits of this labor beginning to take shape. We'll be ready for Gulf Coast. Coach T says I won't be 100% at that race yet.... which leads me to believe I have some very hard work coming up. He must have seen how many times I have given him the middle finger during the FTP rides, or tempo runs..... because each time I did that in college the set got bigger, harder and crazier.

And that.... is exactly what I am hoping for!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Breaking Through

I had a breakthrough performance today in a running race. For me, it was the best I have felt in years in a road race. On the end of a heavy week of training I was able to run strong. THANKS COACH T!!!!

Much more to come, I feel so grateful that I got to share this with so many great people. This picture is of Travis Early, myself and Carl Johnston. Today was like giant reunion of friends!!!!!!

Saturday, April 5, 2008


The word I am wrapping my soul around right now is fearless. Right now I am and I need to be fearless. Without fear. Without doubt. Without anything but pure heart. March was a difficult month. I got all my training in but it was hard to keep myself at the surface of the water. So many things were going on that were beyond my control.

Then the calendar flipped and April 1st rolled around. Those hours and miles have started to show some effect. I am feeling light on my feet. I have dropped several pounds in a month (I know.... juts happened), and I have the fire within my heart.

I have a running race tomorrow. A 9.5 miler at the end of a 17 hour training week. I am feeling good, light, sparky, free. Excited.

Maybe this is what happens when you do a few Ironmans in a year. You start to feel the fitness boost. And maybe this is what happens when you find the right coach to work with. The one who tells you to HTFU when you complain that it is snowing. The one who makes you ride TWO FTP rides per week in your garage. The one who sees something in you that you don't always see. The one who is not afraid to get in your face.

I found a bracelet with the word Fearless on it. I wrote the word on my hand (thanks to Elizabeth for that trick....) and I wrote it on my yoga mat.

Because you know what? I will approach the starting line without fear. I will run towards that finish line without fear. And then Gulf Coast is just a few weeks away. The sun is waiting, the heat is building. I am looking forward to that and I am looking forward to Ashely and I am looking forward to Marit. (Will I see you there ELF???). I am looking forward to being free and running wildly and laughing in the sun.

The way it should be.

Today I am completely fearless. I leave the past behind. I drop my bag of shit and I am running towards the sun.