Archive for November, 2012

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The rules of disengagement

November 29, 2012

The easiest thing for me to do… as a triathlon coach… cycling instructor and even a yoga teacher…. would be to get people to commit physical suicide. I don’t….. but it would be the easiest thing to do. I can count on one hand how many times…. in 8 years of coaching…. that I have had to tell an athlete to go harder. 95% of what I do is hold people back, and save them from themselves.

It’s human nature, athlete nature to work as hard as possible. I fall victim to it myself. Through experience … you learn. Then when you think you know…. you learn a little more.

Working with Jesse and QT2 Systems both as an athlete and a coach taught me more about recovery than i ever thought was possible. Last week Jesse reminded me that athletes should aim to spend half of their training volume engaging in recovery tools. HALF. That means if you train 20 hours a week, 10 of those hours should be spent on: juicing, stretching, resting, sitting in your Normatec Boots (I can’t afford them either). TEN HOURS. For us age groupers and for professionals who work… that’s pretty near impossible.

What are recovery modalities? How can those of us who don’t have the luxury of ten hours a week to spend on recovery maximize our recovery time….. maximize our recovery time? Where there is a will there is a way. While we might not hit ten hours, it doesn’t mean that we can’t squeeze something out of nothing.

1. Nutrition: By far nutrition is the easiest way to assist in recovery. Nutrition is also a choice, remember that. Here are some ways nutrition can help recovery:

  • Juice once a day using veggies you don’t normally eat, and ones that have anti inflammatory properties. Kale, ginger, and beets are excellent for juicing and excellent for recovery.
  • Follow every workout with a recovery drink such as Endurox, or Chocolate milk to replace carbohydrate and protein stores. Every single workout. Other good post workout foods are raisins, grape juice and egg whites.
  • Fish Oil. Long term use of DPA/EHA 1000 mg fish oil (more for some athletes!) has been shown to be beneficial in assisting with inflammation. Long term use is the key.

2. Body work: We have a bucket in our living room filled with foam rollers, tennis balls, straps, sticks and the like. While it may raise a few eye brows when people walk in and see these contraptions…. if you are an athlete you get it. Taking 15-20 minutes a day on the living room floor to self message, stretch and roll is cheap, and easy to do. If I have time to do it, then so do you. Here is a good site to help you learn foam rolling techniques.

3. Recovery efforts in training: You know my rule on the bike: HR and Watts under 100. When I do recovery rides at the gym on the spin bike I wear a sweatshirt. If I sweat I am going too hard. When running prepare, when doing a true recovery effort to be running 10-11-12 minute miles. Some of our best runners here at QT2 (3 hour marathoners off the bike) run 12 minute miles on recovery days. Don’t tell us it isn’t possible. Slow down. Recovery efforts like these enhance recovery by increasing blood flow ever so slightly to help carry the waste product of our harder efforts away. That’s real layman…. but you get my drift.

4. Normatec Recovery Boots: I have used these, and I believe in their effectiveness. I can not afford them either. When we have things like camp and special QT2 gatherings where they are available… I use them. If you can afford them they are invaluable in the recovery process. Click here to check them out.

5. Compression gear: While this is all the rage in triathlon…. we have been using compression stockings in hospitals for years. Compression stockings are used for patients post operatively who are bedridden and inactive. They have been found to decrease the likelihood of blood clot development along with sequential compression devices….. or SCD’s. Similar to the boots mentioned above.People who had to stand or sit long time frames also found them useful because it prevents the pooling of blood in the legs.

According to this site, which is a great resource…..  “In terms of improving performance during a race, the idea is that if increased venous blood flow can occur, more by-products that are transported by the blood can be flushed out and cleared better. If these products that can cause fatigue are gotten rid of quicker, then performance improves. In terms of recovery after a race, the idea is similar. If we can increase venous blood return, you’re going to get back to homeostasis much quicker.”

I like the way compression socks feel when out of training. I like the compression sleeves because I don’t like socks or the feet of socks. Check out Zensah’s awesome selection right here.
There are many more additional ways you can promote and enhance recovery in your training. I could go on for pages. The bottom line…. it’s important. it’s what allows to higher performances and bigger efforts to be reached. The hard work is important, but as we say here at QT2….. hard days hard … easy days easy. Take the time to reward your body and your body will reward you back.

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For the love of it

November 24, 2012

I wrote a few words down on my forearms. I do that sometimes to remind myself of something when I race. When I am in aero position on my bike it’s where my eyes naturally land. I wasn’t racing….. but I was executing a pretty tough set. This time of the season I don’t normally do hard sets like this unless I am racing, testing, or product testing. Throughout the course of nine days I am product testing for local cycling legend and friend Todd Sheske.

I will tell you about what…. another day.

The set was relatively simple. After a 30 minute warm up 3 X 5:00 all out / 5:00 recovery. I execute this three days in a row, do three days of recovery rides and then I do it again. Today was day two. Day one went well but came back with instructions to go harder. I knew it would. I was over 300 watts on the last one and not near it on the first. The goal here is failure….. and what I am testing will help to measure recovery. I will say that I am pretty pleased with my bike fitness right now….. but this set was not all that fun on day two.

That third effort is a lot harder than the first! In a training sense, that’s good. But this product testing thing is measuring recovery and not my execution!

I wrote two phrases……. “Love it.” and “Don’t quit”.

I am not a big thinker during hard efforts and I have tried to be. I have read all the books and taken all of the quizzes on how to be mentally strong, focused and clear. Then last month it all came together with one man, one Ironman win, one victory speech with a very powerful (powerful for me) theme.

LOVE.

Love? Love. Pete Jacobs said it in Kona during his Ironman Hawaii speech and it was one of those moments where the universe turned up the volume again at the exact moment I needed to stand up and listen. LOVE. So I wrote that on my right forearm in the hopes that it would elicit that feeling in my heart that loves this sport so much.

On the left forearm I wrote “Don’t quit”. It’s what Steve will say during our strength sessions and that fires me up a bit. Mary Eggers is not a quitter. She might fail and she might fall but she ain’t no quitter.

Day two was a lot harder than day one.

I am used to building into the effort so that the final minute I am balls to the wall. What we want is balls to the wall during the first minute and hang the hell on throughout. Go for failure Todd said (knowing that it was mutually understood that is not what we normally tell our athletes!).

30 minutes of warm up and then BAM….. balls to the wall. I selected two songs to use during each effort to motivate me. To strike that emotion because I wanted to ride on emotion and not thoughts. I used to be really good at doing that and somehow I got separated from that.

The first minute I felt like a rock star. Then that feeling rose up where it’s almost like you are boiling. Not in body temperature but in sensation. I looked down and the words LOVE IT caught my eye. My heart jumped and I felt it. I was smiling as the effort got harder. I tested blood in the back of my throat. I saw my watts go over 300…. I felt high because of it.

I didn’t think…. I felt. If I had to label my feelings with words however I would say that I loved the way it made me feel to dig deep, to reach, to be able to do this again in the first place. I loved the opportunity, I loved the pain, I loved that I get to be an athlete. I loved that the music was firing me up, I loved that the watts were high, I loved that towards the end I began to slide a bit and I loved the fact that despite that slide I was hanging on no matter what.

When it was over I loved the absolute rush of fatigue flow right over me for the first five seconds of that recovery effort. Like a wave rushes over you when you are surfing. You give it a few seconds and allow the dust to settle. You look back at it and say Whoa. That was awesome.

Better. Hard from the get-go. remember: testing situation!

I loved the fact that there were two more chances to do it again.

When it was all said and done I looked at the words “Don’t quit”. In this situation I didn’t even need them (in others I do). But I had the reminder there if I needed it.

After the ride was finished I dismounted the bike and my legs wobbled a bit. I can feel things beginning to come around. My bike and swim always respond the quickest, the run will take much longer but it is coming. The strength work I have been focusing on is adding a benefit I was not expecting, both physical and mental.

I am over the river and through thew woods in many respects and I love that I have been given the chance to find it all again. And trust me…… I am well aware that this is a gift and not my right. So I will continue to make all of it count. I have read all the books the past few seasons. I have read all of the studies. I have taken every quiz and visualized every positive thought and scenario on this earth. What I neglected to realize, and what I was reminded in Kona…. is that what I needed…. I already have. I have had it right here the whole time.

There is just nothing as powerful as love.

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Exhale

November 21, 2012

You know that little situation I keep being elusive about and I keep saying it’s not a big deal at all? It’s still not a big deal. Equivalent to a hang nail and a drama queen (me). But it’s done. Over. Finished. It actually was weeks ago but I got the final confirmation, the call that said “You can go confidently in the direction of your dreams girl.”. The pat on the back, the see ya later alligator and most importantly it’s time to stop really looking behind you and look ahead of you.

Later last evening Jennie, Jessie and I had a call mapping out 2013 and some of the long term things for Jennie. I love our long term process here at QT2 Systems. I love that we take each season and we tweak things slowly yet surely so that over time we see little improvements that stick rather than the big ones that tend to land our athletes in the hole I have crawled out of once or twice in my career.

We build health and then we build our athletes one yard, one watt and one mile at a time. You give us a chance, a few seasons…. like 4-5…. we will change your game. There is a ten year plan for Jennie (she’s only 28) and trust me every season I get to be a part of it I feel so freaking lucky.

That I get to move forward right now is the biggest stroke of luck. And determination. And a whole bunch of universe intervention. I know… I am sorry. Worry not about what is going on ….. think more about the fact that it’s up from here. The experiences of the past few years have given me an undeniable will and unbelievable patience.

I can now look ahead at my own next five years in this sport. FIVE YEARS AHEAD. How sweet that sounds. What are the dials that I can turn…. what are the buckets I can fill…… so much detail goes into our process here at QT2 and it’s never about what’s ahead in the next 8 months but like I said…… in the next few years. Right now fully believing that what is ahead of me is no match for what is behind me.

I have always been a positive girl, I have always been hopeful and happy. Even in my dark moments. It’s never me hiding something but living the small moments. Look to my parents, they raised me this way.

I think about Ironman and my heart skips a beat. As you know this race and I have had a rocky relationship. I would like to think that Ironman and I have settled our differences… I have had my way with it…. it has had its way with me…. and now we have a new agreement and a new understanding and I am coming into this race as humbled as ever.

I look at this picture and I want to be there.

I found this one someone’s blog, and I can’t remember whose! I AM SORRY!

I have even signed up for my 2013 races. They have a purpose and they have a reason for being on the schedule other than…. go away with friends and enjoy the sunshine.

I have purpose again.

The other day I was doing lunges on a foam balance beam (working with Steve) and I fell off (it’s maybe an inch off the floor). I laughed. There was no reason for me to fall, it just happened. I laughed because sometimes I lose my balance, sometimes I lose my footing. That is going to happen several more times in this journey. Like I always teach my yoga students it’s not the falling that matters, it’s what you do with that fall that makes the difference.

Get back on.

That’s what I am doing right now. I am getting back on and I am trusting that the ground beneath me is solid again. It is. It’s not going to crumble. But then again if it does then I have the parachute. I have what I need.

Truth of the matter is….. I have had it all along. I just needed to believe it.

Today I am raising my glass. Not just for me but for those who travel this path. We will always continue to travel it together. You are not ever alone, even if we are strangers. That’s the beauty of being human. We are family in our very core.

I am raising my glass to my past present and future. To life. To health. To family. To friends. To my coaches and mentors… who allow me to lean on them and who help me dream again.

Here is to being back in the core, putting my HR monitor on, and moving forward with the best guidance a girl can have.

2013 Schedule:

The A races: (I will have several local fillers beginning in December!)

May: Gulf Coast 1/2 Ironman

July: Musselman 1/2 Ironman

August: Ironman Mont-Tremblant

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Over here

November 17, 2012

Last  night I was running. It was one of those nights where the air was crisp and the smell of wood burning stoves were prominent. I turned onto the trail…. which at night I normally don’t do. It wasn’t smart but it was just one of those times that I turned because I longed to run for a bit on that stone chipped surface with leaves beneath me and a canopy of leaves above me. It was dark but the light of my headlamp illuminated the path.

A deer ran across my path, stood and looked at me for a moment and then took off.

More rustling in the leaves. The sound of just my feet as the sound of the cars disappeared behind me.

Sometimes I run with music, but not this time. I have craved the sound of silence while running these days. Sometimes I run on the treadmill when my hamstring needs a break, but I prefer to be out here. Come sun, wind, rain, snow I love to be right here. Out here I feel like I get to stand in the eye of the storm. In a hurricane they say that the eye is where it’s calm and beautiful amidst the deadly wind and rain that surrounds it.

My life is not like a hurricane. It is full and busy because I choose it to be. In truth it’s less busier than it sounds, or else I wouldn’t have time to sit by our own wood burning stove and relax. I let people think I am 55 miles an hour 24 hours a day because that’s what they want to think. People tend to assume rather than ask, and who am I to thwart their expectations that one day I will drop from exhaustion.

I have only done that once in my life.

As I have said before I am navigating some new waters in a way (health is fine, Curt and Luc are fine, don’t read into what I am making a bigger deal than is…. remember the tiara!).  Things are settling and I feel like I am standing on this fresh new grass. Looking behind me is the aftermath but I am past it. It’s like for a while I was crossing that bridge, the one they show in movies. The one that sways, falls apart as you walk across it, shakes. No one can cross it but you. Things fall off of it into a canyon below and you just have to keep looking forward.

When you get to the other side you kiss the ground because it is solid. Then you question whether or not it is solid because it’s been a while since anything has been. You see the forest through the trees before you and you don’t look at it in quite the same way.

Before when you were in the forest you saw what was in front of you. You saw the trees that were in your way. Somehow now you have this aerial big picture view of this magnificent place and you wonder how you ever were so short-sighted in the first place. What you  have been through teaches you to see everything not through rose-colored glasses but through a whole new lens.

Steve Jobs once said that in life we can connect the dots going backwards but never going forwards. I know the steps I am taking now will make sense down the road but I trust right now that they are part of the plan and part of what the last set of dots has led to.

While I have always been a girl of spontaneity I am a little but more off the cuff these days. My instinct is stronger than ever. My trust in those around me has grown but at the same time is totally random. There are some things I am doing…. people I am connecting with that if you asked me why I would say… I don’t know…….it just feels right.

And it’s awesome.

As I was running down the trail last night part of me knew I shouldn’t be out here running alone in the dark (as a female). Part of me felt anger against that because of the reality of it. And part of me thought….. I will never turn down an experience that I feel that I need to have due to fear……. ever again. I won’t go jumping off Niagara Falls…. and I won’t go running down a dark alley…… but this trail is a metaphor for many things.

I am still stumbling over my own feet on this side of the canyon. The bridge is still there yet there is no way I can go back. I see what is in front of me… and it’s no match for what is behind me. I have stabilized my walk with trust. I have the love of many with me. As I look ahead I feel like I can dream again without the fear or uncertainty that has been the dark cloud that’s followed me for a while here.

As my run came to an end I walked down the hill. I could see the view of the lights of Rochester and the smell of the neighborhood wood burning stoves was strong. I stopped and stood there for a moment. I took it all in. I promised myself it would all be smooth for a while. I can drop the body armor, I can come out of the fight stance. I can walk with my arms at my sides and my chin up and my heart forward.

And I can trust that it’s behind me. For good.

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Our world

November 16, 2012

Our son is on ……”The spectrum” …….as we say these days. What does that mean?

That’s the million dollar question.

It’s the phrase used for this whole Autism Spectrum thing. That’s the only way I can explain it. We began the process of attaining an official diagnosis years ago and we never finished. Why? He could have Aspergers…… but he’s too social. He could have X…. but he’s too Y. He never fit neatly into one perfect diagnosis. And it was killing him.

The diagnosis didn’t change the support plan. So we quit the process, a  diagnosis doesn’t change anything. So we stopped torturing him and us.

In the school system he’s classified as “Other health impairment”

Welcome to the real 50 shades of grey. No diagnosis that fits. No classification that fits. Just a whole lot of “educated” people trying to tell me what’s best for our son. And me raging against the machine.

When you have a baby you are sent home with one sheet of paper and a good luck! When you buy a television you have a book so big you wonder if you get a degree if you actually read it.

The truth of the matter about all of this is that there is no playbook. There is no instruction manual. The world of special education…. regardless of what classification or diagnosis you have….. is one hell of a bitch of a place to live.

In this world you make it all up as you go along. You deal with teachers and “specialists” in the education system who are doing the same, but with a masters degree behind their names. They tell you that your child is this…. needs that……. they try to squeeze a square peg into a round hole.

As you remember we had an emergent placement into BOCES in May of 2009, after our son ended up in psychiatric emergency. That’s how effective our home school district was in helping us navigate this. He went to BOCES with a behavior plan and a 1-1 aide. In three years he outgrew both and made the most progress his teachers had ever seen.

In February as you may recall I took a big leap of faith. I applied for him to attend the Norman Howard School, a school for kids just like Luc. If you have ever met him you don’t think Autism spectrum (or whatever we want to call it). You think….. this kid is just a bit different. His social skills are amazing. He is a great kid. I knew in my heart that the Norman Howard School would be a good fit.

We got in. Then the real fight began. I paid my entire life savings to an attorney, the best one around. Joyce Berkowitz. The school district wanted him to come back to the district. They did not want to pay the $26,000 tuition for the NH school.

Sounds expensive doesn’t it? BOCES was $46,000. Special Education is expensive, and a huge money-maker as well. I was able to prove that the district was not able to meet his needs. It took absolutely every ounce of my being to do that. It was the hardest battle I have ever fought. THE HARDEST battle I have EVER fought. EVER.

My mom and dad always taught me that I have to fight for what I believe in. I believe in this kid and he is better than what they can give him. I took an all of my savings and the biggest leap of faith I have ever taken. I had no guarantee that this would work.

It did.

He’s doing well. He’s making forward progress. He’s happy. He’s making friends for the first time in his life. He’s participating in after school activities.

He’s in mainstream activities too. A gold belt in Taekwondo, working with the Score-This family.

I am worried about his future. If there was an instruction manual for how this is all supposed to go I’d sure as hell love to have it right now. For the past 12 years I have been literally leading this charge and making it all up as I go along. I only know a few rules….. never get emotional at a CSE meeting, never scream at them, be nothing but nice. Believe in him with all of your heart and believe in the direction you are traveling even though you don’t know where you are going.

What will he do in his life?

Will he be independent?

Will he find someone to love?

Will he be alone in this world? If I could have had more children I would have. I would have loved nothing more than to surround him with 6 brothers and sisters who could have looked out for him and taken care of him. I don’t know…. if anything happened to us…. how he would navigate this world alone.

I never knew that it was even possible to love someone as much as I love this child. I never knew it was possible to feel pain this deeply or feel the worry and fear that I feel about what his life will be. But I promise you I am the master of never showing it in front of him. They say your kids can read you…. he can’t. For him I am ten feet tall and bulletproof (And when I say I….. I mean Curt as well).

I am scared. There. I said it. I am scared.

This is his handwriting. Can you make it out? He’s in grade 6. I can make it out perfectly to be honest.

He mostly uses a keyboard. In school they use technology like ipads and devices to help him. At home I have used wedges, weighted pencils, slant boards….. you name it I have it.

I am his special education advocate, advisor, teacher….. and I have no education in this field. As I said we make it up as we go along. He receives OT, Speech, counseling. PT. Name the service for him and we have it. We are blessed by the love of a community who has been championing him for years now.

We are blessed. We do not have it hard. But at the same time it is hard.

There is no instruction for how this all goes. I follow my heart and I hope it is right. Special education parents know exactly what I mean. We live in a world that doesn’t really have a goal or a target because it’s always moving and it’s different every single day. In district school I fielded phone calls from the principal on a daily basis because he was “such a bad kid”.

He’s a young man right now and a fine young man at that. Yesterday I was invited into the cooking club after school and I watched as these kids…. together….. made a full Thanksgiving feast. They made turkey, stuffing from scratch. Apple crisp…. smashed potatoes.

They sat together at a table and one kid raised a glass of chocolate milk…… “To us being NORMAN HOWARD!” He said so proudly. They all raised their glasses and cheered. Luc looked as if he finally belonged somewhere. My eyes filled with tears.

This was a slice of heaven for us in this world of special ed. Where the kids are not segregated because they are different they are part of a community that is the same. The population of this school is…. a bunch of Luc’s. It’s where left of center is spot on normal.

It’s not all perfect…. life is not perfect. I knew how these kids felt too.

I shed the tears because I don’t know what the hell I am doing. I seem to have done all right so far. I have leaned on many, many people. I have stumbled into advice and into mentors that I have never met. For that I am grateful beyond words.

It’s not an easy world. Trust me this is not me complaining. This is me exhaling. This is me sharing. If you live in this world know that you are not alone. I have to remember that I am not alone.Even though there are times that it feels like  it.

Sometimes…… I cry. Just to let it out. The sadness I feel for Luc for having to be the one who is different. Why could it not have been me. The fear I feel for what he faces as I look at his handwriting and wonder if he will ever be confident in the ideas and the words he has in his head? He’s got so much to share. He’s got so much to give. The trick is unlocking that door and allowing it all to come flowing out.

I just want him to have the same chance as all the other kids. I hate that his life has had to be such a fight. At the same time he knows that life is hard and life is not fair and he knows that he has to believe in himself more than anyone else.

I have no guarantee that I am doing any of this right. That’s where the tears come from. If I could just…. just once….. have someone let me put my head on their shoulder for a rest and assure me….. you have done it all right thus far Eggers. Stay the path…… that would feel like an incredible relief.

See…… even I can have a moment. This is my moment. Know that I am human. Know that this is just how it all rolls. We do the best we can for our kids. We do the best we know how.

Curt and I just keep taking deep breaths…… taking aim….. lobbing the ball…… and hoping.

Every night I go into Luc’s room and I watch him sleep. I do that because I have those moments where I feel like I might break. I look at his face and I remind myself…… that there is no room for breaking. I have one shot at raising a good man. I might live in a world that is nothing but grey when it comes to parenting and spcial ed….. but the mission is black and white.

Anything for this kid. Anything.

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Those moments…

November 13, 2012

You know those moments….. the ones where you just click with another athlete….. just click…. those are the moments I live for. When you push-off the wall and you notice that you are the same pace as the swimmer next to you… and they are a swimmer. They are not racing against you but pacing with you. You snuggle up to the lane line and share the draft. If you miss a turn they hang back and vice versa. You wonder how long you will swim like this, stroke by stroke. Until a 300 becomes a 500 then becomes a 1000. Then you push-off the wall and they are gone.

I love those experiences.

Or how about as you approach the end of the first long ride of the season. It’s only three hours but you are so grateful to be riding three hours because you are feeling good and healthy and motivated and ….. so happy to be able. You wonder when or if you ever took the ability to pop off three hours before 8am for granted.

You know what I mean though….. the last 30 minutes of the 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 hour ride. When so much is behind you and so little in front of you. You’ve hit the nutrition and you’ve hit the plan and you feel empowered and strong all over again.

You don’t go to hard because it’s not time to do that yet but you do give yourself some leeway as you approach the end. Because you love the way it feels to be turned a bit inside out.

You remember back to the day that three hours felt long, because at this stage of your career it’s actually short. And the kid who rides next to you at hour 2 asks how long you are riding for and you tell him and he can’t believe you are that crazy.

You relish in knowing that you are. You are totally crazy.  Today…. crazy feels good. You can’t explain the feeling that comes along with it but it is almost like a drug to you. You crave it. It doesn’t come after an hour. It comes after hour two at the earliest. That feeling. I can’t even articulate it but it’s that feeling.

I have even found it in the ….gasp…. weight room. Holding the bottom of a push up until you can’t. Hitting that point of muscular failure is absolutely exhilarating, and that’s new to me. That challenge rises up and you almost hit it or you don’t. Or you do and get taken further. Then you drop because you have given everything you could. Failure happens not because you didn’t try…. but because you DID. And someone believes in you enough to push you to that edge and maybe even over it.

You stand in the shower and love the way you feel fatigued yet energized. And you can’t believe how it’s even possible that you can do this after a life time of live through this.

It’s just a bike. I know. It’s just a sport. I know. Right now it just means so much to me. Right now it just is the thing I need and the thing I love and the thing I crave. To me….. it’s representative of so much.

I love the way that sport can make me feel alive. I love the way that sport can heal. I love the way that sport gives me the chance to connect with people on a level deeper than I am otherwise capable. I feel that my sport allows me to be better in the other areas of my life.

I hold onto it tight because I know what it was like to feel disconnected from this feeling. So pardon me for loving this just a little bit more. I hold onto it tight because I know this can all be taken away from me in one breath. I appreciate this. I cherish this. I know this is a gift. And I just can’t help being in love with it.

If that’s a crime then call me guilty.

I am not a professional athlete. I don’t make a living from my sport. (I do make a living in this sport). I am just a 38-year-old has been who is trying to find her way back. I have some scars, but I am full of heart. That’s all. Nothing exciting.  I love the chance I have been given because I am sure I don’t deserve it.

I love that I get to be an athlete. I love my parents for throwing me into the pool. So many of the experiences and the people I have gotten to experience have been through sport. I met my husband on a 50 mile ride one day.

Athletes understand one another on a different level. Whatever the sport we connect somewhere other than here. We get each other and it’s deep yet not deep and it just helps us as people come together. Anytime that happens I just feel so lucky to be a part of it.

There will be many finish lines (god willing) between today and the finish of my 8th Ironman in August. Those finish lines represent so much, not just the  journey from start to finish … but everything that has gone before it.

I love it. That’s why I am here.

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Just have a little faith in me

November 11, 2012

Saturday morning I was teaching my yoga class. Translated….. I was walking around in my yoga class looking at my students flowing through asanas and studying their alignment and physiology (I am a very visual rather than spiritual teacher). I had some Michael Franti on and a line from a song that I have played three hundred times…. caught my ear.

“Have a little faith in me……. I’ll have  a little faith in you.”

I forgot what I was teaching for a moment. I think I stood there and just listened. Things grab me like that, completely randomly out of the blue from places I don’t expect. It might be while waiting in line at Starbucks that I hear a barista say something to me. It might be in a commercial. But those nuggets get me….. at the exact time I need them. Like someone in the universe turns up the volume at the exact time I need to stand up and listen.

It’s been a strange two weeks to cap off an even stranger 3 years.

I am through the situation I keep being very elusive about. I apologize for being elusive….. I will tell the story in August. It’s just so much of not a big deal that I don’t like to talk about it…. because when you talk about it…. it becomes a big deal. Everyone is fine, family is good, health is great….. it was just a thing. When I do tell the story you will roll your eyes. Trust me it’s nothing. Just a thing. Curt rolls his eyes and points out that I am being dramatic. Trust me…. he’s right. I do have a tiara. I really do. And I know it’s just a sport, but it’s something I am so head over heels in love with that I get emotional and dramatic and I get sensitive. But it’s important to me. Like real important. Isn’t there anything in your life that you love this much (second to your family of course)? I hope so. I hope you have something that you live for.

I have stumbled in this aftermath to get my feet underneath me and I wasn’t expecting to stumble. It’s been about two weeks and I feel like I am sailing a boat in a brand new ocean and I don’t have the map to where I am going. Where I am going is up in the air as well because I am not sure if I start back three years ago or if I begin now…. or have I missed that magical “you peak as an endurance athlete between 35 and 38 years old”…. how concrete is that? Is it possible I never touched it or is it possible that it is still in front of me. I am black and white. I am not good with grey. I am not good with stumbling because in every situation I am in I have to be ten feet tall and bulletproof. I am so used to being the fighter and the crusader I don’t know how NOT to be.

It’s a common habit of mine when I am seeking an answer to start trolling through Pub Med, looking for research studies for certain situations. I like to have an answer. Are there any studies of female endurance athletes who have done X, Y and Z. It was no surprise that there weren’t. I try to settle that battle between my heart and my head. My head wants a timeline and a protocol. My heart wants reassurance that I won’t get torn up again.

Is there really this window of endurance peaking for female athletes? I am 38. I have been an athlete since I was 3. Is there a real timeline on all of this? If I start down this road again with certain expectations am I setting myself up for failure or am I in uncharted waters.

Or am I thinking about it too much again?

I shot off a text to a friend whose guidance I completely trust. Part of the answer I got back was like someone turned up the volume in the universe and everything else got quiet…..

Your true unknown potential is often unknown, until you give every ounce of your heart you have to your goal. There isn’t a study around that can give you that answer.”

Damn. That’s brilliant.

I often feel like I can connect with the athletes that I coach so well and so deeply and when I am on the coach side I can bring them to an entirely new place mentally and physically. When I turn the tables to myself….. I still look for that guidance. I still want that answer.

And that answer was just plan brilliant. I must have read it a hundred times.

So I am in uncharted waters. I don’t know exactly how this is supposed to go. But what do I know? I know I am in the right hands. Our QT2 Systems training and nutrition…. it proven. I have been through it and I am going through it again. That’s a certain. I know that working with Steve on my strength is another certain. I know that the support I have in terms of family and friends is certain. I have to remember that these are all the pillars I can rely on and it’s okay to rely on them.

The uncertainty……. is something that I reach to control but I can’t. Not for myself or for anyone. I am going to have to do what I was good at before all of this, what I am good at helping my athletes do…..

Have faith.

There is no study for that.

If I do the work and the recovery (which is actually the most important thing) then I will know that as my toes touch the water next August then I have done everything within my power to be 100% prepared. No one can write the end of the story because in truth no one knows the end of the story.

If I do the work and recovery and stick with the plan that has been created…… if I leave no stone unturned and I put myself 100% out there……. then we have the best shot at hitting the goal. We know when we take that aim that we might not hit it but when it comes to Ironman nothing is certain and the journey…… is what we treasure no matter what.

I have to be willing to fail if I wish to succeed. I have to put all of my heart into this. Which I can. I know how to do that. I don’t have an answer but I do have a dream, and I do have the passion and the motivation and the desire and the drive.

My team has incredible faith in me. I have incredible faith in them. That they do is humbling and amazing to me. I am not anyone special at all. Not these days. I don’t need to be anyone special. I am just a girl with a dream that I dream so much about that my heart PHYSICALLY aches for it.

It’s been a long time since I have felt that way about the Ironman.

The Ironman is representative of something for all of us. With that being said what each of us drives towards…. be it a 5K, a marathon, it represents something to all of us. The Ironman is a race where you are revealed to your core. I love that feeling. The Ironman is a mirror of life and the things you face in it, so for some it’s almost easier than life.

When it comes down to it I love to hit that finish line totally revealed to my core, as metaphysically naked as I can possibly be, because at that moment…. is my moment of truth.

And there ain’t no study in the world that can pinpoint how that will happen.

“Why stand on the edge when you can jump off?” It’s time for me to jump. I have everyone I need right here with me. The mountain is high, the road is long……  with the concrete plan and a good dose of faith…… I can sail this damn ship anywhere.