Saturday, November 28, 2009

What is it and where does it come from?

Everyday we make decisions. Some are unconscious decisions, habits. Decisions we make day in and day out. Decisions that take a split second. Other decisions can be big, life changing decisions. Decisions that take weeks or months to consider.

Lately I have been thinking about how some decisions come so easily for some and so difficult for others. For example, every morning I get up and eat breakfast. It’s not a hard decision for me, it’s either organic eggs and wheat toast or oatmeal. I rarely eat anything different. What about the person wants to eat oatmeal but ends up eating donuts instead? I exercise. Even though I love it, there are still days I want to turn off the alarm and roll over. There are days when I get home from work that I would rather crack open a beer and sit down on the couch. I don’t. I know I’m on the far end of the spectrum, but it’s still a choice I make daily. I listen to other people tell me how they want to exercise but they just don’t have the time, or they’re just too tired, etc. so they don’t.

What about the decisions that are life changing? What about the person who decides to quit smoking or has to conquer something as difficult as alcoholism or an eating disorder? What is it that enables us to do these things? Motivation? Will power? Determination? Why is is that some have it and some don’t? Why is it that one alcoholic can stop drinking and change their life and the other will die an early death?

Are we born this ability or is it learned? I’m not sure where mine came from but I’ve had it as long as I can remember. I’ve known people who always want to change or do more or do something different but they never do. Again, what is that? Is it fear? Is it lack of motivation? I don’t know but what I do know is that I’m thankful that I have what I have ... whatever you want to call it. I wish I could share it.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Being Thankful for your Friends

I’ve thought a lot about what I’m thankful for this year. I’ve had quite a year. A lot of ups and a lot of downs. As I run the list through my head, the one thing that jumps to the top is that I’m thankful my best friend is with me today. I almost lost my best friend this year. I watched him struggle for his life. It is an experience I will never forget. I will never know where he found the strength to be strong through an impossible time. I watched him fake it on the outside and I watched him fall apart on the inside. I will never know where I found the strength to be there for him. I remember the nights that I had to hold myself together while he fell apart. It drained all my energy. BUT, all that will not even come remotely close to what he had to endure. I have so much respect for him.

I can’t imagine my life today without him. Anytime something happens to me, good or bad, he is the first person I tell. My day isn’t complete unless I talk to him. He lets me talk a hundred miles an hour, forever, saying nothing when I’m nervous. He let’s me cry, and cry hard, when I need to or sometimes for no reason at all. He let’s me go crazy when I can’t cope with life. He lets me be me. He never judges me, but he does keep me honest. He always calls me on my bullshit. He always tells me when I’m wrong. He tells me when I look like hell. He tells me when I look good. Most importantly, when I really need a friend, he’s there.

Sometimes I look back and think about how we became friends. Our story is definitely a unique one ... it’s a funny one, it’s a serious one, it’s a happy one, it’s a sad one, it’s a great one. It’s our story.

This year, be thankful for your friends, tell them how much they mean to you. Don’t ever take them for granted.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I've been thinking about my swimming lately. My swimming ... that's a pretty funny story. So, I grew up in the water. I was a fish. I spent all day, every day, in the summer at the pool. Starting at like age 6, I swam all day all summer. I was a lifeguard by age 14 and continued to lifeguard and teach lessons until 19. I was on the swim team and dive team when I was younger. I have always been a strong swimmer; BUT, what I have learned is that being a strong swimmer does not mean you are a fast swimmer.

I didn't swim for many many years. Then, a running injury put me back in the pool and I couldn't swim 4 laps without feeling like I was going to have a cardiac arrest! I was like WTF? I can run a marathon but I can't swim? Like anything, it just took some time. Before long, I was cranking out 2000m at a time. Little did I know, I still wasn't "training." A friend of mine convinced me to toss my hat into the triathlon ring. So, I added swimming and biking to my regular schedule. The moment of truth came at my first tri. I thought I was a fast swimmer. Funny. Really funny. I came out of the water so far back it wasn't funny. That was the moment of truth when I realized I sucked!!!!

The next season, I was talked into swimming at the lake with a group of triathletes. I was so nervous and had no idea what to expect. But hey, it's me ... so there I went. I was the last one out to the point and the last one back to the dock. This would be my place for quite a long time ... last. I kept swimming. Triathlons starts never got any easier. The anxiety I had at the start of every race drained my energy. I hated it. It was constant battle through the swim to keep positive thoughts ... to keep telling myself just get out of the water and go. Just get out of the water. Keep moving forward and get out of the water.

In 2007, I decided to train with the Masters group in Portland. Best decision I have ever made. I had a blast. I swam more yardage than ever and started to actually get faster! I had confidence! Wow! I was training for my second half IM and really getting after it. I wanted some revenge after my first half IM. Anyway, I kept building endurance and getting faster, but I was still the last one to the point and the last one to the dock on our open water swims. My new nickname was Nemo. Yes, Nemo.

I'm not sure what happened, but one day I put it in my mind that I was going to stay with the pack no matter what it took. I swam hard, got in a rhythm, and kept going. All of a sudden I feel someone grab my ankle. Huh? I stopped and turned around and Erin was like dude! WTF? I hit the point in the front for the first time ever. I was stoked! Then, we headed back and again, I was the first one back to the dock. Erin was just looking at me and finally was like ... "what the hell did you put in your Wheaties this morning?" Ha. The ironic part, it never happened again. Ever. I went into my half with a lot of confidence and ended up swimming slower than my first by a whole minute. Ugh.

That put me into a mind set that I couldn't swim. I started saying "I can't" and "I will never" and etc etc. That has stuck with me for two years. One of my best friends said to me this year, "Stop saying I can't!" He was kind of angry when he said it, okay REALLY angry, but I got it. It hasn't come easily but I did have two good swims this season ... Rhode Island 70.3 and the Colby Sprint Tri.

I started analyzing my swim training and making changes. I deciced that I'm not stepping to the line of my first IM without some confidence. and the training to back it up.

There will be no Nemo next season!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Planning 2010

So after reading Mary’s post I realized it was time for me to look at 2010 too. I had some time on my flight from Portland to Houston so figured no better time than the present. What will my race schedule be? Which races will be my A races and which ones will I just be training through? What are my goals for the year? Is there a distance I want to PR? Is there one discipline that I want to really focus on? These questions would be easier to answer if I didn’t have an Ironman in the middle of my season. Ironman.

I don’t have a lot of time before my IM to participate in any other triathlons. The Mooseman is too close to my race which leaves me no choices unless I want to pick one that I have to travel to. I think this IM thing is expensive enough so I think I’ll pass on that option. And since I have no idea how I will feel after my IM, it’s tough to think about the rest of the season. I’m hoping that taking the month of July to recover will do the trick and I can enjoy the rest of the triathlon season in August and September. Those are the best months to race anyway! With all this in mind, this is what I‘m thinking about for 2010:

Mid Winter Classic 10-miler
New Bedford Half Marathon or the Hyannis Half Marathon
Polar Bear Tri
Ironman CDA
Kennebunk Tri
Lobsterman Tri
Colby Tri
Maine Marathon

Obviously, IM CDA is my A race, my main focus, my entire life basically from Jan to Jun. I would like to make a good showing at the Mid Winter Classic. I would also like to really throw down at the Maine Marathon. I love that race and I love the course. The last time I ran the Maine Marathon was in 2004 when I clocked my 3:31 PR. I would like to try to PR again and make a great showing at home! The other late season triathlons, well, I just want to have some fun. I know me and I will probably jump into some other road races here and there, but not many. My weekends will be taken up with lots and lots of biking and running. Wow, this IM thing certainly is going to be an adventure... and boy am I looking forward to it.

The other thing I do is start thinking about the things I’m going to need! Yes, more purchases of triathlon stuff. The list looks something like this: 1) A new pair of bike shoes. I have been wearing the same bike shoes for 5 years. They are beyond worn out. 2) An aero helmet. Yes, I have finally decided I need an aero helmet. I know they are more for the really fast folks, but I want one anyway. 3) Hammer. Not a hammer from the hardware store. Hammer products, a lot of hammer products. I need to stock up on gel and heed and sustained energy and recoverite and electrolytes. 4) New racing flats. This will probably also require a new pair of yanks. Matching my yanks to my flats is a necessity for me. Yes, another one of my quirks. 5) Two or three new pairs of running shoes. 6) Two new pairs of bike shorts. 7) A new racing outfit since my team is no longer. That should do it. Actually, that isn’t too bad. At least there are no big purchases this year like a new bike or a new wetsuit.

Here’s looking at a great 2010 season.