Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Where has the summer gone?

I’m sitting in my reading room, drinking coffee from a Keurig and sitting on a futon. Both the Keurig and futon are going with Sam as she leaves for DePaul in a few short weeks. As I sit here looking at out the corn field behind my house, I wonder, “Where has the summer gone?”

Sam & I ready for graduation

The summer started with the startling revelation that my oldest daughter, despite my greatest efforts, actually was going to graduate from high school. I find it so hard to believe that she is graduating when I feel like I just graduated myself, what, was it just yesterday? Ugh. No.

Some of our awesome girls softball team
The beginning of our summer was spent at the softball field watching Abby play ball playing center field and sometimes pitching. Some of my best summer moments were spent at the ball field sitting in bleachers with parents that I love spending time with. Parents who make me laugh and cheer my daughter as much as their own.

Jeff & I at the Firecracker 5000

I spent the summer teaching classes, running, a little swimming and even less biking. My race calendar has been light this summer as I focus on the #$(#$)# Chicago Marathon. A half marathon in May.  A sprint triathlon in June. A 5k in July. Oh and then there was my GRIT training. With GRIT, you’ve got to love the pain.

My 3 girls at Navy Pier
And now summer is winding down. My two youngest start school on Thursday at a school district I’m very proud to send my kids to. My oldest….she leaves in a few short weeks to become a college freshman.

The summer may be coming to an end, but it is the start of everything new and fresh. New school year, new friendships, new schedules and most importantly, new opportunities. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Life (Extra)Ordinary

As a young girl, I dreamed of becoming an Olympic gymnast. I wanted to be the next Nadia Comaneci. I wanted to be world famous.

And then came the balance beam. It was my nemesis, the destroyer of my dreams. That and the thousands of dollars my parents would NOT spend to send me to live with Bela Karolyi.

Instead, reality set in. I was not going to be world famous and inspire a nation. I was going to lead an ordinary life: marriage, children, mortgage and all, and most days I am good with that. Day to day I think I lead an average life. I am loved by my husband, kids, sisters, nieces and nephews. That's is all that REALLY matters, right? Everyone wants to lead a fulfilling happy life, don't they?

Five years ago I began training for triathlon. Almost three years ago I became a group fitness instructor. In one month, I will be able to claim the title of Ironman for a year now.

After completing my Ironman last August 26th, I received so many incredible messages from people who tracked my race all day long. People who said "It's not if she can do it, I can do it. It's because you did it I can do it." I took that as a mighty fine compliment. But it's been a year since my Ironman. To me, the glory never wears off. I can look at my Ironman pictures and remember every second, every detail of that day.

Then the monotony of life takes over and again I think I lead an ordinary life....UNTIL....I get those random, out of the blue emails from someone from my past, or someone who has been in my classes, someone who has found themselves eating healthier, moving more and eventually getting more fit.

I woke up this morning with a horrible sinus headache which concerned me since I'm supposed to go to GRIT(r) training this weekend in St. Louis. Ugh, every movement made me hurt. While I made my breakfast, I checked my Facebook news feed and noticed I had a message from a friend from high school. Her message brought tears to my eyes.

Just over a year ago she contacted me regarding her struggles with exercise and emotional eating.  Her loved ones did not support her, but mocked her attempts to get in shape. Today? She's lost 30 pounds since the beginning of this summer. She's eliminated some bad habits and kept the negative people out of her life. She emailed me to thank me for my words of encouragement and for all of my "fit posts" on Facebook. (Yes, I can be a little overbearing with getting my message out there.)

It's days like today where I do not feel like I lead an ordinary life. I lead an (Extra)Ordinary life. I am blessed to do something that I love every day. While I motivate others, they inspire me. I am incredibly blessed.

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Trip to the Windy City

Even under the best of circumstances, it is hard to let go of your baby girl....even when she is no longer a baby. Next fall Samantha will be attending DePaul University in Chicago, IL and I think daddy is struggling with the idea of his first born growing up and moving away. 

While I lived in Chicago 20+ years ago, my dear husband has never quite embraced Chicago and its hustle and bustle. We decided to have a summer hiatus in the Windy City with the entire family. When I asked the girls what they wanted to do, this is what we came up with:  

#1 *** A visit to the art museum ****
Annelise wanted to go to the art museum. Unfortunately, me being me and not being an artsy fartsy mom, I picked the wrong one. We toured the Contemporary Art Museum. Apparently, my family is not a fan of contemporary art. I mean strings of Christmas lights become an art display? A series of beer bottles stuck on the wall? Paper dots tossed into the air?  I found great amusement with the bottom left picture. Old style photo development. With today's digital format, photographs have almost disappeared. Anyway...I digress. Annelise was not happy with my choice of art museums. Maybe next time she will research it herself and make sure we are going to the right one. 

MCA - not the place we thought

Here is our contemplation of contemporary art. Annelise is laughing at my choice of museums. Samantha is wondering what the heck we are looking at...and me? I'm trying to make the best of the situation and pretending like I am getting something out of the experience. Believe me...I got nothing from it except my wallet was made a little bit lighter.

#2 *** Visit Navy Pier ****
Cold & Foggy at Navy Pier
This wasn't really on their wish list, but after our exhilarating experience at the Contemporary Art Museum we were all hungry AND Jimmy Buffet was in town! We tried to get into Margaritaville, but the wait was well over an hour. Instead, we ate at Harry Caray's.
Margaritaville Bus
After lunch, we went over to the Navy Pier lawn where a band was playing Jimmy Buffet and beach tunes. Abby wanted a shark fin hat. Yes, I am proud to say my 11 year old is a Land Shark. (Mom of the Year award for me!) 

A Pitcher of Margaritas
 #3 *** Blue Man Group ****
We've been talking about taking the kids to see Blue Man group for almost a year, but with schedules crazy as usual, it's been tough to find a weekend when we could get to Chicago to see them.

Blue Man Group
This was the only picture I was able to take at the show. As soon as I snapped the picture, I got yelled at because there is no photography inside of the studio. What? Not even of my precious kids before the show? Apparently not! We all agreed the show was fantastic.

#4 *** Cheesecake Factory ****
It was a late night dinner at the Cheesecake Factory which kind of turned out to be a disaster. No one was really hungry. Everyone was just exhausted, but I needed to eat something so I wouldn't be starving half way through the night. The Cheesecake Factory is not my favorite place to eat. There are too many items on the menu which to me says they specialize in NOTHING! Yes, I am a food snob. 

#5 *** Run along Lake Shore Drive ****

OK I was the only person with this on my list. While the kids slept, Jeff & I got up and ran along Lake Shore Drive. On Saturday, the swells were 5-7 feet high. I was so happy I was not swimming in the water. It was slightly calmer for our run Sunday morning. We did come across what I suppose was the Chicago Triathlon Club swimming in Lake Michigan later in our run. My run was fantastic. There were so many people walking, running, and riding their bikes. It made me laugh to think when I lived in Chicago I rode up and down Lake Shore Drive with my then boyfriend and his mom. The ride was probably around 20 miles and it seemed so incredibly long! Now? 20 miles is nothing. 

#6 *** Shop on Michigan Avenue ****
No pictures required. Actually, we don't want any evidence to show how much we spent. Jeff was the designated bag boy. He carried our bags and not once did I hear him complain.

Miraculously, at the end of the trip, Jeff was astounded we didn't visit Chicago more often over the years. I think he feels a little bit better about his baby girl moving to the big terrifying city.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The best dinner conversation

Sometimes the best dinner conversations happen over chips and salsa and a 32 ounce margarita. Jeff's look of shock when I ordered margarita special of the night was calmed when the waiter delivered my margarita....and it wasn't 32 ounces. Whew....it could have been a loooong morning after.
Maybe not 32 ounces, but it was enough!
Jeff and I went to dinner and, as usual, the conversation turned to work and working out....or as in this case: BOTH! I explained to Jeff that I am interested in going to GRIT(r) training. Recently, we had one instructor go to training and he lost 10 pounds in two weeks. Another husband/wife instructor team went to training and the wife lost 35 pounds! Hmmmm, very intriguing.

Typically, Les Mills instructors have to be sponsored by a licensed club. Now that I work full time as a Les Mills Club Coach, I have the opportunity to attend any training I would like. A few weeks ago my manager asked when I was going to go to GRIT(r) training. GRIT stands for Group Resistance Interval Training. It's a HIIT workout: 30 minutes of high intensity interval training and there a 3 different formats: GRIT Strength, GRIT Cardio and GRIT Plyo.

Here is a sample of the GRIT Plyo class....45 seconds of the full 30 minute class!

I am a little terrified. I mean just because I am an IRONMAN does not mean that I am ready for HIIT training! Yes, I can endure....not sure I am ready to push my body to the point of puking however.

BUT...I'm a sucker. I'm registered for training on July 20th. I'll be heading to St. Louis for the weekend to take my first steps toward becoming a LES MILLS GRIT Coach. In my job working as a club coach, I've had GFM (group fitness managers) tell me they get better results from GRIT than clients do working with a personal trainer on a regular basis. So why not?

The only problem is finding a local gym where I can coach people through GRIT. During our great dinner conversation (and maybe it was the margarita going to his head), he tried to convince me to purchase the GRIT license and offer the group personal training format here in Tremont.

WHOA! Say what? The license for GRIT(r) is not cheap. I would have to have at least 6 paying clients just to break even every single month. Jeff's rational is that there are a large number of people who look to me for health & fitness advice, or attend my classes. As my friend, Jen, says, she's "A Carla Groupie". She follows me from class to class because she likes my teaching style and knows that I am knowledgeable. I walk the walk. I talk the talk.

I still pause. For once, I am being the rational one, throwing up arguments on why this won't work or why I shouldn't do it and Jeff is playing the role of the dreamer, the risk taker. He still firmly believes that I should do it. His belief in me and my abilities are so humbling. How did I become fortunate enough to marry someone who believes in me 110%?

As our conversation evolves, I discover the real root of his reasoning. He wants to become my first client. He wants me to kick his ass and get him back in shape. I have to say the idea is definitely appealing, but I've decide to wait and see how my training goes. My training DVDs should arrive in the mail this week. I will be mixing up my workouts between marathon and HIIT training. I see lots of burpees in my future.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Gift for my hubby

My husband sent me this picture earlier this week saying he needed this shirt.
I think I'm going to buy it for him.....
And then make him wear it to the Tremont Education Foundation meeting, softball practices and church trustee meetings. Maybe even when he works the A/V booth at church. 

Then maybe he will slow his schedule down since he will be kicked off of every administrative group he's a part of.

So, yes, dear heart, buy the shirt. Let's how that works for you.  😈

Monday, June 24, 2013

Let's Dream

Forget LOU, MOO, LP or CO...... 

IRONMAN NEW ZEALAND is now at the top of my list. 

One can dream about what might be, right? 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Tremont Triathlon 2013

Yesterday was the 6th year of the re-incarnated Tremont Triathlon. The 5th time I've completed it. As of yesterday morning, it was also going to be the ONLY triathlon on my schedule for the year. 2013 is the year of the run. Or so I thought.

Jeff & I at Body Marking
Jeff & I arrived at the pavilion about 5:15 am to do some body marking. I had visions of my artistic detailing on all of the triathletes, but Jeff felt that was inappropriate and I should stick to bib number and age. Bummer.

We finally decided it was time to get my bike set up in transition. I prepared my transition area but suddenly came to a dead stop. I couldn't remember how to secure my aero bottle on my bike. I haven't used the dang thing since August of last year. I even asked Ed, a fellow IMLOU triathlete. Yah, he was no help. Along came my hero, Jeff, to the rescue. It's a good thing I married a man who 1) is mechanically inclined and can put things together for me, 2) has a good memory. After setting up my transition, I walked up to the pool deck to field some questions from triathlon newbies and suddenly heard the race start. I had absolutely no idea it was 7 am and time for the race to start!

Transition area all set up

I went to change into my tri suit and waited with friends while the first few waves of swimmers went off. For the first time ever, I decided to warm up for the swim. Spooky, huh. Kind of like a Twilight Zone. Two laps in the 3 foot pool and before I knew it, my number was being called to enter the pool. 

The swim for the Tremont Triathlon is 8 laps on one side of the pool so you don't have to change lanes. I jumped into the water...and had two thoughts simultaneously. ONE: I forgot to start my Garmin watch. TWO: My left google started to leak. Ugh. After my first 25 yards, I had to stop and drain my goggles. Off I went again...still slowly leaking. After 200 yards, I emptied again. I wasn't too stressed though. I mean how much time does it take to drain a goggle, right? 

My transition to the bike went smoothly. Dried legs. Feet in socks and off on the bike. After the first mile, I looked at my Garmin and realized I hadn't hit my Multi-sport option correctly. Damn it! So I slowed to change the settings on my Garmin to BIKE so I could watch my cadence. 15.45 of relatively good, flat road with wind at my back on the way out. I felt like a rock star! As I neared the turn around, I spied my rabbit. It was a blonde chic in a T3 uniform. I had no idea who she was, but I was going to chase her down. The turn around at Allentown surprised me though. I miscalculated my speed going into the turn around and almost bit it much to Kinsey's laughter. Oh brother...now that would have been a story to tell. Luckily, I was able to stay on my bike and get back on the road. 

After the turn around, someone finally passed me...like I was standing still. Man, if that doesn't annoy me. I've never claimed to be a speedster. The only comforting thought was seeing the IM Tattoo on his calf as he passed me. OK, I'll let another Ironman pass me. Before turning back into town, I caught my rabbit. With a little smile of glee, I cheered her on and kept on moving. Time to find a new rabbit. I passed a woman walking her bike and checked on her. Unfortunately, she had a flat. Bummer. 

I made it back into town and my legs were feeling pretty good. My inner thighs were saying HELLO, but other than that I felt ready for the run. I debated taping my knee quickly before taking off, but decided to go without since my knee had been behaving fairly well lately. 

Out on the run, I felt comfortable. NOTE: Comfortable. UGH. I got Gatorade at the first aid station since I was still paranoid about cramps. Yes, I have to walk with Gatorade because otherwise I'd end up a sloppy, sticky mess. I made it to the turn around where Nick Kinsey gave me encouragement. (Gosh, this is why I love triathlons. Everyone is always so supportive.) On the way back, I hit the aid station again and chose to walk for 15 seconds while I took in water. 

A glance at my Garmin told me my pace was OK, not great, but again I felt comfortable. I had a little nagging thought of "Don't let up. You don't want to regret it." And picked up my pace slightly, but I tend to drift. As my thoughts change, so does my pace. 

I crossed the line with a little kick and felt pretty happy crossing the finish line. No cramps. I felt like my triathlon, at least for me, was fairly solid considering I haven't made triathlon training a priority. As soon as I grabbed my water, I ran back to the transition area wondering if I would be able to catch Jeff. Because of the way the swim is formatted, he had to wait about another hour after I started. In transition, I found that Jeff was already out on the bike, but my friend, Cindy, was just leaving the pool. She was excited for her first triathlon and heading out on the bike course on her MOUNTAIN BIKE!!!! Oh my. We've got to get that girl a new bike.

I waited at transition for about 20 minutes chatting it up with my buddy, Mike Dillard, while waiting for Jeff to come back in. He made it in and in typical Leber fashion chatted his whole way through transition before heading out on the run. Once I saw him out on the run, I grabbed my gear and took a quick shower in the pool house. It felt great to get the sweat off of my body.

As I waited for Jeff to finish his race, James decided to insert the knife and twist. Apparently, a local triathlon newbie beat me by 20 SECONDS. As if that wasn't enough, I didn't realize it until they announced the awards that she beat me by 20 seconds and took me out of the medals for my age group. I wound up in G.D. 4th place!!!! No, I'm not bitter. OK, maybe I am a little. Here is what I posted on Cheryl's Facebook wall:

GRRRGRRRGRRRR Whatever James tells you it's fine. I'm not mad. I'm not hitting hyper-competitive mode. 20 seconds. What's 20 seconds out of 3rd place??? Well....it's the 2 times I had to drain my goggles. Or the time I slowed on the bike to reset my Garmin because I couldn't remember to set it right for multisport. Or it could be walking at the aid station for Gatorade to avoid cramps. GRRRRR. yes, 20 seconds!

My bitterness is over. It's now motivation. I spent all evening looking at more races to do this year, planning my calendar like a drill sergeant.

4th place....by 20 seconds....Motha' ...............

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Rides with Wolves

Back in the 80s they probably called me "Girl with no fashion sense".

Today you can call me "Rides with Wolves". I went for a quick bike ride on the morning of Father's Day since I'm supposed to be training for the Tremont Triathlon which is this weekend. I was squeezing in a ride before heading to Bloomington to watch my nephew's baseball game and see my father-in-law. 

A fast 12 mile ride over the hills south of town made for interesting lesson in agriculture. As I rode down one road I heard a horn blast three times and suddenly the herd of cows shifted in the pasture. (Note: ask my favorite ag girl, Kelsey, about this.) Further into my ride I came across a small critter trotting along the side of the road. I say it was a small wolf. My dear husband says it was probably a coyote because we don't have wolves in the area. I say I don't care what you call it it was wildlife that one doesn't normally see. 

The triathlon is 2 days away....and I just realized last night that I haven't done a single brick workout. Oops. Guess it isn't going to happen now.

Signing off "Rides with Wolves"

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Running in the rain

I think the conversation went something like this.
Me: I'm going for a run.
Jeff: That's stupid. 

It may have been stupid but my shoes were laced and I was determined to get out on the road and leave my worries behind.

After not running since the Indy half on May 4th, I needed to stretch my legs, to test my knee and just enjoy the pounding of my feet on the pavement. In the month of April, I ran a whole whopping 16 miles because I started experiencing runners knee more and more. I almost walked the Indy half but instead I visited my dear doctor friend and his PT department taped my knee. As a result, I finished the half with a personal best! Not bad for a lazy slough who barely trained for the event. 

After the half, I tried to go for a short recovery run but my calves were so tight from all of the cramping I could barely run 2 miles. I started a new job as a Les Mills Club Coach and work began to take over my available time. I wake up at 5:45 and shower, work, teach a class, work some more, teach another class, chase my kids around Central Illinois and then come home and work some more. 

Finally after a long boring weekend of rained out softball games, I decided to get back on the road again on monday. I wanted to build my base slowly and only ran 3 miles. Since my knee was taped, the run felt good, rejuvenating. A nice release from the weekend's stalled plans. 

Tonight after teaching my 2nd BodyFlow class of the day, I decided it was time for another short run. I could see the storm clouds rolling in but it didn't matter.  Nothing was going to stop me. I stepped out on the road, heard the thunder and I smiled. Nothing soothes the soul more than a thunderstorm and I loved the idea of running through one. The rain poured down on me and in a matter of seconds I was soaked all the way through. At a little over a mile, I saw this van slowly approaching me. Alarm bells went off. 

Jeff rolled down the can window: "Are you doing ok?" I may be stupid, but he still loves me. He came out to see if I changed my mind and wanted a ride back home. Nope. I just wanted to get two short miles in and I was already soaked. I figured I might as well go with it. 

My clothes were completely soaked as well as my shoes but the job was done. The clouds may have been gray, but my spirit was lifted. 
And I came home and found this on Facebook. It seemed to fit my mood and my reasons to run to a tee.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A New Perspective

During day 1 of traveling home, 14 hours of pure joy let me tell you, I decided to go through my “Notes” app on my phone and clean up old notes I’ve left for myself. It’s amazing what you can find when you look through a couple of years of memories.

I found old messages with data about treadmill runs, notes from podcasts, body measurements and most interesting of all was my “ARC” card from when I read Dr. Judith Beck’s “Beck Diet Solution”. Dr. Beck is a cognitive behavioral therapist who has a number of suggestions or steps to follow to change your cognitive responses to food and your food behaviors. I found her book interesting and decided to implement some of her suggestions.

One suggestion was to create a “Advantages Response Card” (ARC) in order to help you stay motivated  and stick to your diet. I created my first ARC after my mom passed away in 2004. I was determined not to follow in her footsteps and find my way to an early grave due to complications of diabetes, which I didn’t think I had to worry about until my 60s or so. Yes, let’s laugh now. In the fall of 2011, I was planning my 2012 race season. I knew in order to be at my best I needed to lose a few more pounds so I went back to Dr. Beck’s Diet Solution and updated my ARC.  While I had 14 reasons why I wanted to lose weight and get in shape, the one that struck me the most this weekend was #10:

I may not do it, but I would like to feel as if I could wear a bikini.

When I wrote that in October of 2011, I never thought it would become a reality. In January 2012, I registered for IMLOU and began the long months of training. In June 2012, we went to Vero Beach, FL with Jeff’s entire family.  My suitcase was packed with 2 new tankini bathing suits I had purchased from Athleta. When we got home from vacation, my darling husband said, “You know you really could have worn a bikini.” I thought how sweet of you, dear, but no. These abs are never going to see the light of day again.

By the time IMLOU rolled around, I was down to my college weight, the weight when I thought I was in the best shape of my life and I still could not imagine wearing a bikini.

When I was in high school, I owned a bikini - one. I wore it rarely, and only at a friend’s private pool. Seriously. At the age of 17? 18? What did I have to be self-conscious about? Absolutely nothing. I had a serious lack of understanding of my own body as well as self esteem issues which most teenage girls go through, only at the time I did not realize that every teenage girl felt the same way that I did. Even though I was young and in good shape, I still did not feel I could compare myself to the models we all see in magazines. You know…the 108 pound waif of a woman-child who could be blown away in the wind.

In comparison, I was about 130 pounds with shoulders like a linebacker and calves the size of Mt. Everest, at least in my mind. In my youth, my strength and athleticism was something I had to learn to control. My strong body was something I needed to hide.

Fast forward through the years of marriage and giving birth to three children via c-section and suddenly now I had a reason to say I’d never wear a bikini again. When I was pregnant with our 2nd child, I had a dear friend come over and ask if her teenage daughter could feel my belly. I believe the quote was “The skin is tight. It’s like a balloon and if you touch it, it will pop.” Yes, giving birth to a 10 pound 9 ounce baby will definitely stretch the skin as it’s never been stretched before. Between the road map of stretch marks and c-section scars which create a fold in the abdominal skin, I was convinced you would never see me in a bikini again.

And then as vacation approached, I started to consider it. I mean why not? I am 44 years, in relatively good shape and I really do feel good in my skin. So, why not? Remember that road map of stretch marks? The skin which was stretched to the max and will never return to a flat state? Those were still two good reasons why I should not wear a bikini.

In good humor, I went bikini shopping. The first few I tried on were quite laughable, actually quite horrifying. Note to self, you are not 17 anymore.  The top needs to be the size of the Bermuda triangle to hide all that you’ve got going on up there, you know what I mean? I started to think it was not going to happen. Shopping for a bikini in the junior department does not work for a 44-year old mother of three; however, low and behold, I found a bikini which provided coverage for the major problem areas and still allowed me to feel like I was not trying to relive my teenage years.

Now to find the nerves of steel to wear it on the beach.

But again, why not? For the first time since 2007, we were going on a beach vacation completely by ourselves. No one else had to see my flaws with the exception of my family and you know what? They can just deal with it. I called a family meeting and announced to everyone that there would be no published photos of this momma in her bikini without permission first. I reserved the right to review and delete any and all pictures which may reveal parts of my body I was not quite comfortable with.
Day 1 on the beach, you know what? No one laughed. No one said, “Look at that old hag wearing a bikini. What was she thinking?” OK, so maybe they thought it, but by that time I didn’t really care. My linebacker shoulders? They are defined and sleek. A symbol of my strength and the result of years of tumbling. My Mt. Everest Calves? They are strong muscles which helped push me through 140.6 miles on a hot, humid day in Louisville. My stretch marks? Those are the ones I am most proud of. I have given birth to three wonderful and yet extremely different daughters. They are the road map to the story of my children and their start in life.

You don’t want to see my stretched out skin? Don’t look. I don’t care. Get over it. It’s taken 44 years to get to this point. To realize all of flaws I see in myself are just that. I am not perfect and neither is my body. Those “flaws”, they are just that. Flaws, but they also tell the story of my life, the things that make me ME.

So will you see me flouncing around the Tremont pool in my new bikini? Probably not. But will you see me stand a little taller? Will you see me embrace my “Flaws”? Yes. They are now the things that I am most proud of. All of these things add up to me and I like me. What’s not to like? 

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Meaning of Being Fit

On the way to Florida, I spent some of the incredibly, awesome 22 hours reading ACSM's Resources for the Personal Trainer.

Yes, I know. Snoozeville at times, but I found a couple of topics which really made me think.

Tell me about a time when you felt you were the fittest
That used to be an easy question to answer. I used to say I was in the best shape of my life when I played volleyball at Western Illinois University. That's when my coach, Julie Kartel, emphasized good nutrition and introduced me to weight lifting for athletes. In college, I dated a P.E. major who did triathlons and enjoyed running races, but no, not me. I was not a runner. I didn't want to "train". I just wanted to play volleyball. I ran when Coach Kartel required it of me. I didn't enjoy it. Are you kidding me? Running is painful. I just wanted to play volleyball.

I graduated from college, got a job, got married and had kids. During that time, I struggled through my 30s with my parents' failing health and eventual demise. I swore after my mom died that I was going to get in shape and not follow in her footsteps.

Before I turned 40, I decided I wanted to be Fit, Fabulous & 40. How was I going to achieve that? I decided I wanted to try and do a triathlon. Yah, I know, Mr. P.E. Major. "I'm not a runner. I don't want to do triathlons. I don't want to train." Blah, blah, blah. But I also don't believe in failing. So to prove that I could do it, I had to train. I had to put in the sweat and the hours of work. And, suddenly, before you know it, I'm at the finish line of IMLOU screaming to my family, "I am an Ironman!" Running has not only become a requirement for my training plan, but it's become my therapy time. My time to think about life...or forget about it. My time to solve the world's problems. My time. MY TIME.

So naturally, the answer to my question has changed. I would now say that I am in the best shape of my life. I can swim 2.4 miles, bike 112, and run 26.2 all in less than a single day. I weigh just a few pounds more than I did in college. Of course, some of the body parts look a little different than they did when I was in college, but Hey! I've given birth to three babies. Leave me alone!

Jeff & I at Wyndham Palm-Aire
AND...for the first time truly ever that I can recall I am wearing a bikini. Yes, at the age of 44, I purchased a bikini and I've worn it on vacation ALL WEEK. Mainly, because I will never see these people again, but I am wearing it.

I feel fabulous. I know I am the fittest I have ever been in my life and probably in the best shape I ever will be again. I love the way I feel in my own skin and want everyone around me to feel the same way. So, what is the meaning of FIT to me? The feeling which comes from inside, the feeling which says I am happy with who I am, and where I am in my life. I am FIT, FABULOUS and in my 40s.


They're back

Right before leaving on vacation I found myself waking up several times a night. Itching. No, not that kind of itch. My belly. My back. Scratch, scratch, scratch. After applying lotion, I was able to go back to sleep. I just assumed it was dry skin from winter.

The Back of my Leg
Yes, 22 hours in a car is a LONG time
On the way to Florida, I discovered a small patch of hives on the back of my knee. Grrr. I started applying cortisone cream like a mad woman.

Once in Florida, my elbows and forearms started to break out. I'm taking Allegra but I wish I had also brought the Zantac 150 for an extra dose of antihistamines. Cortisone cream is not helping.

I guess I should be thankful that it has not moved to my eyes yet. Guess who will be going to see a dermatologist next week?


Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Break: Day 1

Every once in a while you get a blessing in life that you don't fully understand until you in the midst of it. We left Friday night to start our vacation and made it to Paducah, KY for our first  night's stay. We were smart. We reserved a room ahead of time and even though Country Inn and Suites' website told us we were getting a 2 bedroom with a pull out coach, we wound up sleeping 3 in a bedroom Friday night because we "that's all we have left". Ahh-huh. Yah. Thanks. 

Because we got the 5 hour jump on our drive, I decided to be nice and not force my family to get up at 5 am. Instead, I woke up at 6 and started showering so we could get moving at a decent time. However, have you ever traveled with 3 daughters, 2 of which are NOT morning people? With the hot breakfast starting at 7 am, getting gas and (ahem) me chasing down a Starbucks but having to be satisfied with Panera, we didn't get on the road until 8 am. OUCH. Oh well. No worries. We're still ahead of the game, right? 

Most of the drive went well. We made one pit stop and I really expected banjos to start playing. The sign for the restroom was scrawled in a Winnie-The-Pooh like handwriting and with the 3 deer head on the walls I knew immediately we were in TN. Having to explain to my 11 year old daughter why your butthole would be bigger if you had to go to prison for shoplifting? PRICELESS. Yes, Tennessee, you still have class. 

The only traffic glitch was an extremely LONG area around Chatanooga for some unknown reason. I think that was during my 2nd nap of the day. When I woke up, I tried to find ways to amuse myself. I rolled down the window to enjoy the balmy 50 degree air. I watched two teenagers walking along the highway make more progress than we were. I took pictures of the back of my knee to show my Facebook friends that my hives have not gone completely away. Annelise let us know she needed a restroom soon to which I responded "Run up that hill and go! We'll still be here when you get done." Apparently, she did not appreciate my sense of humor. 

We started looking for a room around 9 pm. At our first stop, we were told there were no rooms from Belleview all the way to Orlando, FL. Say what? How many hotels does Orland have and there are no rooms? We were convinced someone was lying to us. 

Stop. No vacancy.
Stop. No vacancy. 

I started visualizing us sleeping in the van at a rest stop. Hmmm. If we drove straight through, we'd arrive at Fort Lauderdale about 4 am. Not unreasonable, right? Well, maybe for me who got about 4 naps in during the day, but the idea did not thrill Jeff. 

$10 glass of chardonnay
First drinks of vacation: $17 Ouch

We called Wyndham Bonnet Creek in Orlando and explained that we were owners and looking for a room for the night. Hey, what do you know? They are all booked up! However, they did help us find a room at the Marriott World Center for $244 a night. Price is not an issue when you want a place to put your head for the night. We didn't even quabble when we had to sleep 3 in a bed again. Samantha and Annelise are so lucky they didn't have to participate in the "everyone lay on your left side....ok...roll over...1.2.3." routine for the 2nd night in a row. 

The good news? We only had 3 hours left to drive on Sunday...which means we all agreed to sleep in....if you can. I was awake at 7 am, showered and had my first Skinny Hazelnut Macchiato by 8 am. Of course, my girls didn't move quite as quick and because I was already happy with my caffeine high, I didn't gripe. We'll get to the beach today. That was all that mattered. 

Watermelon Mojito
We arrived at the Wyndham Palm-Aire about 2 pm Eastern. While Jeff checked us in, I decided to investigate the amenities that the Palm-Aire had to offer and look what I found?  The open air lounge right next to the pool! What better way to celebrate arriving in Fort Lauderdale than borrow $10 from your teenage daughter to purchase  a Watermelon Mojito!

After unloading the car, I gave the girls 10 minutes to change into their swim suits. No lolly-gagging! The sun was waiting. Unpacking suitcases can wait until the sun goes down. While at the pool, I check my Facebook to see everyone back home complaining about their "Illinois Spring Break" which was being blanketed by several inches of snow. Samantha, who keeps showing more frequently that she does come from my gene pool, posted this on Facebook: 
Everyone needs to stop complaining about the snow, I have some real issues right now! This palm tree's shade is interrupting my tanning!
I'm pretty sure my comment about everyone hating us resulted in this post on my wall from my friend, Nate, the local law enforcement officer who also happens to plow snow as a side job: 
You have had a lot of posts about the weather....I would hate for you not to get to see snow with the rest of us and I happen to know a guy with a plow that could put enough snow in your drive way that it would still be there for you to enjoy when you return. That is all...enjoy your trip!!
So far about 25 people have liked Nate's post. I'm sure the number will continue to rise....especially after I posted the picture of my new Billabong sandals on the dash of our van with a beautiful blue sky in the background. 

Abby & Annelise enjoying sand between their toes
Around 5, we decided to wrap up our poolside adventure and go check out the beach before dinner. Have I mentioned that it was a high of 93 here today? Wait, everyone back home does not want to hear that? Ohh...I didn't realize. I thought you would actually be happy for me. Mawhahahahaha.

Jeff facebooking about his evil wife
While at the beach, instead of fully engaging with the beautiful gift of glorious sun and sand around us, Jeff decided he needed to clarify his position on the snow on our driveway: 
To all my friends back in the snow reading Carla Ironman Lebers obnoxious Facebook posts and thinking of retaliating, please keep in mind that I have not been rubbing it in from the pool all day!
What? Just because he does the snow shoveling he thinks he can throw me to the wolves? I will remember this! 

After a day of eating licorice, peanuts and Swedish fish, we were ready for a decent dinner; however, our youngest children are fairly picky eaters. We decided to go casual and eat at the Aruba Beach Cafe on a recommendation from the front desk staff at the Palm-Aire. A 30 minute wait for a table for 5 didn't seem unreasonable especially considering the restaurant is right on the ocean. The hostess handed me a Blue balloon with OCEAN scrawled on it while she explained that this is how they find us so DO NOT LOSE THE BALLOON.

Who thought it would be a good idea to give kids a balloon on a windy oceanfront? Do you realize how many people hate my 11-year old right now? The 30 minute wait turned in almost 60 minutes. I was almost ready to tell Jeff we should just go order a pizza and eat in the room when they came to find us. 

Blackened Seafood Trio
Unfortunately, we did not get to sit outside and enjoy the fresh ocean breeze, but sat inside. OK....no problem. Annelise asked if she could order the $30 filet mignon even though Jeff suggested she wait until we ate a steak house instead of a seafood cafe/bar. I ordered the Blackened Seafood trio. Samantha ordered the seafood stir-fry, Jeff the Aruba burger and Abby the chicken strips. I think it's fairly sad to say that the best food of the night looked like it was Abby's chicken strips. I think you can find my review on Trip Advisor later for the Aruba Beach Cafe at 2 stars. 

Day 1 is complete. We are getting ready to go to the beach now. Let's just see if I have the nerve to wear my new bikini.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Runner's Knee

Everyone faces injuries, right? I am just being tested and will come out on top, right?

Two weeks ago my half marathon training plan called for a 13 mile run. Since I hadn't run more than 8 miles since the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon last November, I knew 13 miles was not a smart idea. So instead I backed it off and ran 10 - 10 long miles on the treadmill. And while it felt good to get the miles done it was not without concern. Every time I tried to push my speed I wound up with a quick sharp pain in my knee. Hoping it was just a temporary issue I slowed down to finish my miles. (Have I mentioned that I'm goal oriented and I tend to follow a training plan quite well?)

For the next week, my knee didn't bother me. On Friday I went out for a 7 mile run around a local park. The fresh air felt great. I was trying to get my run done before my first class of the day. I started to charge up a hill and BOOM! Sharp pain. I did a little skip step & the pain went away. I continued on my run; however, every time I pushed up a hill my knee screamed at me. Sharp, quick and it was over. After my run, which got shortened to five miles by the way, I didn't have any pain at all. I shared my concern with runner friends and RICE was suggested. My doctor posted on my Facebook that if the pain continued I should come in for an MRI because I am so paranoid about an MCL or ACL tear bringing me down.

Rest seemed to be the order of the week. I continued to teach my classes without incident but stayed away from running. On Wednesday I took a full day of rest. No classes. No running. Just walking around the malls and stores to prepare for vacation. I even decided it was time to get new kicks.

New Kicks
On Thursday armed with my new running shoes I decided to just run 3 easy miles on the treadmill. I made sure to properly warm up with walking as well as dynamic stretches. I felt good....until about a half mile in. CLINK. I could almost feel my knee cap hitting against my thigh bone. Argh. Damn it!

I took a deep breath. Runner's knee? Really? Now? You've got to be kidding me.

I quickly added up my race entry fees: $75 for Indy half, $55 for Tremont Tri, $165 for Muncie 70.3, and $185 for the Chicago Marathon. A small fortune which could be thrown into the wind! Stop it! No negative thinking.

If required, I could just focus on my classes. I mean races are great but I'm not out to win. I recognize my limited abilities.

Then reality hit in my Zumba class Friday. Two separate times my knee cap shifted. It took my breath away and scared my class participants. They could see it in my eyes and hear it in my gasp of breath.

I am beside myself. I'm reading every article I can on runners knee. We left on vacation Friday and I iced my knee for te first hour. I'm hoping a couple of days of pure rest and my knee brace will help. We will see how my run goes on Monday. No running on the beach for me. No long runs. Just a lot of R&R and some short, easy runs paired up with a supportive knee brace.

Say a prayer for my sanity. Say a prayer for my knee. Say a prayer for everyone around me because if I don't get exercise soon, it will not be pretty.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Smell of Nostalgia

Because my family is even more impatient than I am about starting a vacation (if you can believe that), and no one liked my idea of hitting the road at 5 am, we decided to start our family vacation today.

Changing our plans required the coordination of a logistics manager of a Fortune 500 company. My day was completely full between teaching Pump and Flow, running to Wal-Mart to purchase Les Mis for the 20 hour car ride and attending the middle school talent show where my rock star sang her little heart out.

Note: The talent show was well worth my highly unproductive afternoon. So many talented and brave kids who got up on that stage to showcase their blessings in performance. While waiting for my baby girl to perform, the school superintendent came through. Now keep in mind the super & his family are our normal travel companions. Unfortunately, they cannot vacation at spring break this year because their freshman daughter is playing high school softball. Needless to say, The super did not want to talk to me, to hear me gloat about putting my toes in the sand. Sadness... But I'm sure we'll soon have another vacation planned which will include them.

This year Jeff and I decided to take a different approach to spending money for the kids on vacation. We gave them each $100 and told them they could spend it as they wished but it needed to cover any tanning, pedicures, books, magazines, music or souvenirs for vacation. If they chose not to spend the money, it was theirs to keep and spend as they wished post-vacation. So far it's been an interesting experiment. Samantha decided she didn't need a pedicure. Abby decided she only needed one book but definitely wanted a pedicure before leaving. Annelise went to Barnes and Noble and SURPRISE spent nearly $60 there. Guess who is going to be very picky about any souvenirs?

So after school while I took Abby to get her pedicure, Samantha and Annelise ran Mozzy down to the kennel. Once home, I was on a mission to make sure everyone was packed and suitcases ready for Jeff to load up while I was teaching my final class, Zumba.

Thanks to all of our organization we were actually ready to hit the road by 6:30. Probably more because I threatened to not leave tonight and get up at 4 am if they didn't get their butts in gear.

We hit the road but of course no one had dinner prior to leaving. As we discussed places we could stop in Springfield, I mentioned Jolly Tamale. Man, you could have heard a pin drop for about 5 seconds. The girls all swore I told them Jolly Tamale had closed long ago which to them explained why we hadn't gone there in a couple of years. I, personally, think they just misunderstood me. JT closes every year during the state fair and I'm pretty sure they thought I meant permanently. Oops

After stopping to pick up carry out from Jolly Tamale, we got back in the car and Annelise said, "Do you smell that? That's the smell of nostalgia." Nostalgia for her? It's ancient history for me. I had lunch at Jolly Tamale just about every weekday from 1986-1988 while I attended Lincoln Land Community College.

And, yes, I still get the same thing every time. Sancho, no lettuce, medium sauce. Occasionally when I have someone to share with I'll also get an order of nachos. Yes, that is nostalgia. The sweet taste of cheap Mexican food which filled the belly of a poor college student.

So lets hear it for the smell - and taste - of nostalgia.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Indy Half Prep

My first "major" race of the summer is now 9 weeks away. May seems so far away and yet time will just fly by and suddenly I'll find myself in Indianapolis running a half marathon!

According to my "Run Less, Run Faster" training plan, my long run needed to be 13 miles. UGH. What a daunting task. Trying to squeeze two back to back hours of running in between teaching classes, catching my daughter at her pitching lessons, the middle school Sock Hop, swimming, and shopping for spring break seemed unlikely. Add in rainy weather and it just complicated things. I mean who wants to run 13 miles in the cold rain - or better yet - 13 miles on the treadmill?

Before the Miles
My longest run since last year's Wine & Dine Half Marathon has been 8 miles. Yep, I'm a slacker. Knowing I had less than two hours between pitching lessons and getting ready to chaperone at the middle school Sock Hop, I decided to hop on the treadmill and get as many miles done as possible. I mean what's a training plan if it can't be modified, right? 

And God bless modern technology. When I do long runs on the treadmill, I have to watch an action film. No romance. No comedy. No "Princess Bride". Only an action film will do. Luckily, Samantha went to the library earlier in the day and checked out 4 movies, one of which included "Man on the Ledge" starring Sam Worthington. Yep, bodda bing bodda boom. Nothing wrong with staring at Sam for an hour and 45 minutes. 

Proof that I got it done!
As the miles rolled off, it became apparent 13 miles was not going to happen. I had to be off the treadmill by 5 pm to get ready for the Sock Hop. I made it through 10 miles at my half marathon pace + 30 seconds per miles. Nice, easy, relaxed....long and boring run. 

After the miles, cheeks are flushed by headband still in place. 
Oh sweet momma! It felt great to get the 10 miles done even though it was on the treadmill. In the end it was all worth it. My new Iron Goddess Bondi Band stayed in place. It absorbed all of my lovely sweat. Mmmm, there's a fine thought. And my legs felt pretty good.

Time to get ready for the Sock Hop.

Now I don't know what I was thinking, but I guess I thought I was actually going to do the "Mom" thing and sit on the sidelines and watch all of the kids dance their little hearts out. Within 2 minutes of getting there, one of the little girls pulled me out on the dance floor. Unfortunately, this did not sit well with Abby who wanted nothing to do with her momma shaking her thing. HEY! I am a Zumba instructor, you know? I can still dance.

Good Slow Dance Choice
At the end of the sock hop, the DJ finally gave into the request for a slow dance song. I held my breath. Oh please don't let these 5th & 6th graders pair up boy/girl.....and luckily, they did not. The girls dance with girls and (I wish I had a picture for future blackmail) the boys danced with boys. Oh my yes! Wouldn't that be a sweet thing to have when some young stud comes around asking my daughter to the high school prom?

After 10 miles on the treadmll and two hours dancing at the sock hop, this lady was tired...and hungry! I wrapped up a long, busy, endorphin filled day at my favorite establishment, Perdue's,  having my favorite meal, the Cajun turkey burger 86 the bun with sweet potato fries. Now THAT was a great way to end a fabulous day.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Love Languages

I talk about two books constantly: "Outliers" by Malcom Gladwell and "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman. "Outliers" is a book about the factors which contribute to one's success in school and sports. Don't get me started on that one! The other is a book about understanding human nature and how we relate to each other. I highly recommend both books.

I read "The Five Love Languages" about 10 years ago. I've known this for years about myself, but my primary love language is TIME. Time spent with someone is a great way to connect and stay a part of their life, but other strong love languages for me include Words of Encouragement and Physical Touch.  My lowest love languages are Acts of Service and rock bottom of them all is Gifts. If you want to take a short quiz, you can find your Love Language by completing these questions.

I've said for years that I do not want to buy a gift just because I feel obligated. I want to buy a gift because when I see it in the store I look at it and know I just have to buy it for you. The same goes for gifts that I receive. I do not want chotchkies. I do not deal well with clutter. I do not want to be a part of a bunco group because I don't want to bring home a bunch of junk I will never use. Most of the said chotchkids will continue to sit in my basement in storage collecting dust. No matter how cute they are.

But if you do hit upon something special. Something which you know will melt my heart. Why, yes, I will joyously accept your generous and thoughful gift.

And that is what happened yesterday.
My IRON Goddess Bondi Band

My dear friend and ZUMBA class participant recently won five headbands from Bondi Band....and she picked one out just for me!!!

The fact that she thought of me when she was placing her order did, in fact, melt my heart. Of course, it also relates to the most significant day of my life as well. Have I mentioned that I am an Ironman? Yes, yes, I know, you have heard the story. As a sign of my appreciation for Jodi's generous gift, I proudly put my Iron Goddess Bondi Band on and pumped up the music for an awesome ZUMBA class.

So, thank you, dear friend. Thank you for thinking of me. Thank for you the gift which means something to me. I will think of you every time I wear it and proudly call myself an Iron Goddess.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Like sand in an hour glass

So are the days of our lives.

After I wrote my post about Samantha growing up, she posted this picture on her Facebook wall: "From the beginning to the end" with the two pictures from pre-school to her senior year.

I guess we are both feeling her age today.

Sand through my fingers

It's like sand sifting through my fingers. 

Wasn't it just yesterday that I was in college? Wasn't it just yesterday that I moved to the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago? Wasn't it just yesterday that she was born? 

1996 - Milwaukee, WI
I find myself trapped in some type of strange, psychedelic time warp. I look at these pictures and I remember these moments so clearly. They WERE just yesterday. We found our first house in Tremont on Samantha's 1st birthday.

I think about the day we brought our first family dog, Cocoa, home. A rambunctious little puppy who knocked Samantha over in the driveway and skinned up her cute little nose, knees and the palms of her hands.


I mean look at those cute curls. I've always said God laughed when He gave me three daughters. I am not a girly mom and my dear Samantha she is a girly girl with beautiful banana rings in her hair. I don't know what to do with that gorgeous hair?!? Yes, He laughs and mocks me daily.

Mother's Day 2003
I think back to Samantha walking into her first grade classroom and telling her teacher, Mrs. Tyra, that her mommy was going to have her baby today in that loud booming voice which came from such a tiny little body.  Always so enthusiastic about life. Always so positive. That is my baby girl.

Senior Night 
But unfortunately, she is no longer my baby. She will be graduating in just a few short months. Next fall, she is setting her sails in a new direction as she moves to Chicago to attend DePaul University. People ask me all of the time if I am worried about her moving away. Well, yes, I am her mother. I will worry, but at the same time she is excited about the new opportunities she will be given in Chicago. I am excited about watching  her move on, grow up, and enter this next phase of her life.

I am blessed. I am blessed to have Samantha as my daughter. I love you, my little baby girl with the beautiful curly hair and the loud voice (which thankfully you have FINALLY grown into). You have grown up to be a beautiful young lady and now I can't wait to watch the rest of your life unfold. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

8 Miles of Therapy

What's the best way to end a long week? Need you ask? Yes, end it with exercise.

For some reason, sleep eluded me thursday night. I had a busy weekend of touring DePaul University with Samantha and Jeff on Friday and the Les Mills Quarterly in Rosemont on Saturday....all of which added up to me being one tired puppy today.

At the Les Mills Quarterly, I did Body Pump. I tried to do Step; however, I didn't want to wind up with sore glutes and calves on Sunday when I needed to do a 8-mile run. I decided to sit out and watch GRIT Strength.

Finally, it was time for Flow. Can I just tell you how much I love this new release? Two balance tracks including Bird In Flight and a back bend in the Lower Back track. Wow!

However, when we got to meditation, I couldn't focus. My mind wanted to wander. Being in the middle of a very active gym does not make for a great meditation.

After a few more attempts to drink the Les Miils Kool-aid, I realized it just wasn't going to happen. I drove home that night reflecting on the day and all that happened. Why did I feel so unfocused?

By the time I got home, my mind was filled with all sorts of thoughts. What am I doing with my life? What is direction I want it all to go in the next year? What's going to happen when a position I know about comes open? Will I be able to continue my current training level? And what's going to happen during the next school year? Samantha will be going to college and Abby will be in the 6th grade and in all likelihood able to play junior high sports. How will all of that affect my time?

Exhausted as I was, sleep came in fits Saturday night. I kept waking up with all of these thoughts / dilemmas swirling through my head. When the alarm went off to get ready for swimming, the last thing I wanted to do was a couple thousand yards in the pool. I pushed off the wall for my timed 800 yard swim to start my workout.

And then stopped.

Lack of sleep and swirling thoughts made any attempt at swimming very difficult. I kept looking at the clock waiting for the session to end.

By early afternoon, I wasn't sure the 8 mile planned run was going to happen. Maybe a nice nap instead?

But the swirling thoughts wouldn't stop. I finally got dressed for my run. I made myself promise I would get at least 5 miles finished before giving up. I started the first mile at a slow warmup pace, got slightly slower for the 2nd mile and then the endorphins kicked in. All of the worries, questions that swirled through my head seemed to be lifted away with the fog. I started negative splitting the next 4 miles and FINALLY felt like I was doing EXACTLY what was I was suppose to be doing.

It is amazing to me how good a few miles on the open road can make you feel. I think every person who is mentally or emotionally stressed needs to take their issues out on the open road. While the solutions to your problems may not be found there, one can definitely find temporary relief from the worry.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I am not perfect. I strive to be perfect. I pretend to be perfect but I am not.

I am human. I make mistakes. I've made numerous impulse decisions which I have later regretted, but it's all a process, this thing called life. Every decision. Every action. It all has consequences. I strive to do my best. I workout consistently. I try to make good, healthy meals for my family.

But perfection I am not.

Occasionally, I will run into people I know at the grocery store. Do you know how many times people turn their carts away from me and ask me not to look in their carts? I am not the food Nazi. I am a simple woman who likes to lead a healthy, but normal lifestyle.

So when I post something on Facebook, for instance, talking about how I am craving a bowl of Captain Crunch or a batch of white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, please know I have an ulterior motive behind it. Do I want the bowl of Captain Crunch? Sure, yes, Captain Crunch was the cereal of my childhood and every once in a while I get a giant whiff of that sugary crap and my senses go wild. Do I want it? Yes, but will I give into that craving? Probably not. I have self control. It comes with maturity.

So then why would I post it on Facebook? Because I want everyone to realize that I am just like them. Just because I am an Ironman or an endorphin addict does not mean I don't also have food issues. I struggle just like 90% of the American population. I have to face down demons and win the battle in order to become victorious.

We are all a work in progress. We are all living with the consequences of our actions. Sometimes it's easy to beat ourselves up and berate ourselves over a mistake in the past, but it's in the past. It's time to move on. It's time to stand up, take ownership of our decisions and move steadily forward.

March on, soldier, march on!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Water Water Water

This week I am really focusing on my water intake. I don't know about you, but I have a harder time drinking water in the winter. Why? Because I like my water cold - like bone chilling cold - and I'm already freezing in winter. So this week I am trying to drink a large glass of water before I begin making my breakfast. I figure if I can get 12-16 oz in early I am off to a great start!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Ironman Decision

Throughout most of early 2012, I repeatedly told everyone and anyone who would listen that I would do one Ironman and only one. "One and done", I would say.

By about mid-August, I changed my tune as I began to actually believe I could cross the IMLOU finish line in under 17 hours. I started to wonder where my next Ironman would be. Members of T3 threw out Lake Placid, Wisconsin and even the beautiful location of Cozumel.

But as is my way I procrastinated thinking about it. I mean we are talking July of 2014 at the earliest. I have plenty of time. However, one of the best ways to get a spot in a fast selling Ironman race is to volunteer at the race the year prior to when you want to race. But still....I had plenty of time.

Cheryl would send me texts asking if I had looked at the race venue. I'll look later. I was in complete denial. When asking Cheryl about Cozumel, she was a pretty solid NO. Why? Sharks, salt water, no access to the race course before race day, expense. So it seemed the decision was between Lake Placid, NY and Madison, WI.

Then Chris, the Intimidator, posted the link saying the volunteer registration for Lake Placid was open. Umm, holy crap. I posted a quick poll on the T3 Facebook page asking anyone considering a 2014 Ironman which destination they were choosing. It was fairly even split between Lake Placid, WI and Cozumel.

I wanted to know who was going where for a few reasons. First, part of the reason I enjoyed IMLOU was because of the number of T3 members who were participating in the race. I was constantly looking for a T3 jersey to cheer them on. It helped to pass the time by distracting my mind away from any discomfort I felt.

So, who is going where?
Lake Placid: Chris, James, Pat, Eric, Gene
WI: Joe, Kelly, Tony, Todd, Kim
Cozumel: Christy, Mike, Preston, Jennifer

Strong presence of T3 at IMLOU
The choice of destination seemed fairly well split. A few people were still deciding between 1 of 2 destinations. Obvisously, we were not going to have 21 members participating in one race again. That was a once in a lifetime chance. What will Cheryl & I do?

Hmmm, let's consider the options.

Ironman Lake Placid
Ironman Lake Placid is the longest running American Ironman event beside Kona. Lake Placid was the host city for the 1980 Winter Olympics. The transition and finish line for IMLP are located in the Olympic Speed Skating Oval. Now that is cool!

  1. Kona qualifier. Bahahahah. I know, I know. Have a good laugh. I had to put it out there. 
  2. Two lap mass swim in Mirror Lake with water temperatures in the 60-70s. 
  3. The swim course is lined by a cable about 5 feet below the surface of the water. 
  4. Scenic run course past Olympic ski jumps, along scenic River Road and then along the shore of Mirror Lake. 

Can you say: Mercy? 

  1. Mass swim start.
  2. Two lap swim - must exit water after 1st loop and run on beach for about 10 meters before starting the second loop. Oh my word. One blogger advises spending time learning how to Dolphin Dive. Yah, you think?
  3. When the Ironman site says the bike course is demanding, alarm bells should ring in your head. A two lap course through the Adirondacks with each lap culminating in a 11-mile climb up the "notch" from Wilmington.
  4. AGAIN: Ironman Lake Placid says the run course will "challenge" the athletes. Oh great. More awesome elevation changes.  
  5. July 26, 2014 - A date I don't like. July. Heat. Summer. Blech. 

Ironman Wisconsin
Hosted in Madison, Wisconsin the capitol building is a great backdrop for the incredible finish down State Street. Again, IMWI (otherwise known as IMMOO) qualifies 50 athletes for Kona.


  1. One lap mass swim start in Lake Monona. 
  2. Awesome spectator view from the Monona Terrace. 
  3. Incredible crowd support during the bike course in Verona. 
  4. Two loop run course through downtown Madison makes for a great spectator venue. 
  5. The closest race location...easy access to preview the race course throughout the year and best location for family to accompany us. 
Which is worse: A few big hills or many smaller climbs? 

  1. Extremely hilly bike course with many tough climbs and turns on each lap. 
  2. Challenging run course with multiple hills throughout. 

Ironman Cozumel

Cozumel: One of the top 5 Ironman Swims

  1. Beautiful swim location: 1 lap mass swim start with the first portion of the swim against the current, but ending with current. Water is 84 degrees and will not be wet suit legal. 
  2. Three laps on a flat, paved bike course. 
  3. Three laps on a flat, paved run course past signature Cozumel sites. (I laugh that they point out the course is PAVED.)
  4. Beautiful location to spend a week's vacation after the race. I'm hoping lots of family will want to spend the week after Thanksgiving in Cozumel. November in Mexico...Ole'.
  5. Margaritas. There. Had to say it. You know I will imbibe if I am not in the hospital. 
  6. I've been to Chankanaab National Park twice. It's a beautiful location with clear water to see all of the ocean life. 
  1. Salt water: Do you realize how much water I drink when I swim???? I need to learn to swim like a fish if I'm going to do Cozumel.
  2. In some years the current has been quite an issue for swimmers. 
  3. Not wet suit legal. 
  4. Strong cross winds on bike course. 
  5. Can I really drink the water provided on the course? I do not want to have tummy issues ruin my 2nd Ironman attempt. 
  6. On top of the astronomical registration fee for an Ironman, I am looking at approximately $400 to ship my bike internationally. 
After reading all of the different aspects of each Ironman event, I am still in a quandry. I think IMWI will hold for another year. The big question comes down to: IMLP in July or IMCoz in November. Because I could not decide, I went ahead and volunteered for IMLP at a run station from 5-10 pm which will allow me to see the swim start and still be at the finish line for the late night finishers. I am so excited. I almost can't stand myself. 

So I've bought myself a little more time to decide between LP & Cozumel. I love the idea of Cozumel; however, it would take a major financial commitment as well as dedication to working on my swim for the next two years. 

Someone, please? Help. Take this decision out my hands. Tell me what to do. Coin flip? I can't decide which event I want to do.