Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Facing my fears and getting back out there


Fear.  What an extremely powerful emotion. It can be mentally crippling and can overcome you, if you allow it. It’s so very easy to suggest that a person “get over it and do it anyway”, but that is much easier said than done.  Some people deny that fear is real. I can attest that is it. It’s REALLY real. I have allowed fear to totally sidetrack me and consume me. I have allowed fear to prevent me from doing the things that I absolutely love to do. While I did need to take time to recover after my bicycle crash and I had some family issues that were demanding of my time, I have allowed fear to keep me on the sidelines for far too long. But, not anymore! I felt the fear, I fought it and I won.

Columbia Triathlon (0.93 mile swim, 25 mile bike, 6.2 mile run): I must have cried 5 times before I got in the water. I’m not 100% certain why. I was just extremely emotional about getting back out there to do a triathlon again. I knew that I could handle the distances.  I never doubted my ability. I believe it was the thought of getting on the bike that had me in tears. I was afraid to get on the bike, as I had only purchased it a week prior and I wasn’t that familiar with it. It’s super light weight compared to my last bike and I wasn’t comfortable in the aero bars. I wasn’t comfortable with how light it was going down hills. I wasn’t comfortable with the electronic shifters. Most notably, I wasn’t comfortable with the thought of riding it in the rain, as the roads would be slippery, making it more likely for a fall again. I was a COMPLETE rack of nerves.  I was afraid I was going to fall. As soon as I started the swim, I swam to the wall and told the cop that I didn’t want to do the race today. He told me to get my mind in the game and to get to swimming. Maybe I just needed some tough love? As I swam, I felt the raindrops and worked myself up into a complete frenzy. I prayed that Lisa had a bad swim (sorry Lisa!) and that her bronchitis was too bad for her to continue the race. I had decided that if this were the case, I would end my race and not go out on the bike.  I started the swim a while before Lisa did, so I knew I would have to wait. I noticed numbers on top of the buoys and assumed there would be 15 of them. After the 10th one, it was time to exit the swim, however I was mentally prepared to swim further. I must have been in the transition area for 20 minutes crying and texting my cycling coach, Tania and boyfriend about how I couldn’t go out on the bike. They all encouraged me to just go and reminded me that it was just a practice day. When Lisa came into transition, she saw me waiting for her by her bike. The look on her face was of pure disgust from her swim. She looked at me and asked what the hell I was doing standing by her bike. I burst into tears. She said, “Oh no! Get your shit together, grab your bike and let’s go! We’ll do this together”. Tough love again. No one would let me give in to the fear. I got it together and headed out to ride. I hung behind Lisa for a long time, as I was afraid to go down hills, afraid let go of the handle bars to get water or to take in nutrition, afraid that I would mess my gears up going up hills, afraid of the slick roads. I was just completely overcome with fear. I tried to strike up a conversation with Lisa. She just ignored me or grunted at me. Finally, I got the courage to just GO.  I made it up all the hills and just took my time practicing on my new bike. Before long, I made it to the finish line and was able to smile back at Leslie’s cheering face. I think I mean mugged her as I was heading out. The run was uneventful. I knew that I had to make some changes in order to make it to the finish line before the race cutoff. I finished the race with Lisa by my side with her amazing family support and Kevin at the finish line. I did it! Tri Becca: 1 Fear: 0

Washington’s Crossing (1.2 mile swim across the Potomac River):  I thought it would be a good idea to practice jumping off a boat before the Escape the Cape Triathlon. Plus, I thought it would be completely BADASS to swim 1.3 miles across the Potomac River from Virginia to Maryland. Tania and Von were both racing, so I signed up. Now, I did not stop to think about how nervous I am to jump into the water at the weekday swims or at other triathlons. Yeah, that never crossed my mind. As we were lining up to get on the boat, I got really quiet. Tania kept asking if I was okay. I wasn’t tearful, but I had the nervous pee thing going on. Oh BOY! When it was time to jump, Tania and Von jumped in with no issue and I just stood there. I screamed to Dennis (who was running the event) if I could sit down then jump in. He screamed back, “REBECCA, JUMP OR JUST STAY ON THE BOAT!!. I screamed FUGGGGGGG!..... and jumped in. My goggles immediately fogged up. Thank goodness, Tania was there. I started to panic saying “my goggle are foggy, my goggles are foggy, I CANT SEE! I CAN’T SEE!!” She let me hold on to her while I cleared and adjusted my goggles.  She’s such a good friend! I started to swim when the horn blew and kept reminding myself that my heat rate would soon slow down, that my body was just trying to acclimate. Before long, I got into a groove until something changed. It seemed like I was swimming sideways and not getting any closer to the ferris wheel at the National Harbor that we were swimming back to. The current had changed, as a tide came through. It was pushing us under the bridge to the left when we were supposed to go straight. Tarus was working safety and in a kayak. I asked if I was swimming in the right direction and he affirmed. That ferris wheel looked like I was swimming while standing still. It was NOT getting any closer! At one point, I took a breaststroke to look where I was going and my feet touched the muddy bottom of the yucky Potomac River! I SCREAMED! Tarus asked if I was okay and then laughed when I told him that I got Potomac mud between my toes. At last the ferris wheel and buoys finally came into closer view and it was time to exit. Whew! I swam more than the 1.2 miles and it took me FOREVER, but I did it. I must have looked a mess, as Von kept asking if I was okay. Tania took me home, as I needed to eat and take a rest before my run. That night my throat started to hurt, Tania couldn’t stop sneezing and Von had a scratchy throat. That Potomac River water gave us the coodies, but we are CERTIFIED BADASSES for swimming from state to state across a river! At least in my mind, we are! Even though I freaked out in the beginning, I still did it and to me, that's winning. Tri Becca: 1 Fear: 0

Escape the Cape Triathlon (1 mile swim, 25 mile bike, 5 mile run) Cape May, NJ: When I saw the advertisement for this race, I just HAD to sign up! I wanted to be on that boat! Lisa signed up for it too, so I was IN.  When she shared with me that it was a 15-foot drop when we jumped off the boat, I almost messed my pants. Uh OH! I vowed to practice diving at the pool. Yeah, that never happened. Whenever I went to the pool, I could never work up the nerve to dive in. I am such a punk! It started to STORM on race morning. Lightening, thunder, you name it. I prayed that the swim would get canceled. My prayers were not answered. Before long, we were being herded onto the boat and were stuck there until it was time to jump off. I felt nervous, but kept telling myself that it was just excitement that I felt. The energy was on TEN, the music was loud and the race director was pumping up the crowd. The Olympic triathletes all donned their yellow caps and before you knew it, it was time to jump in and swim the 1 mile back to shore. Lisa and I decided to jump together. When it was our turn, Lisa jumped and I looked at the guy standing there. He directed me to move to the side to speak with the Sports Psychologists. They shared with me that it was just adrenaline that had my heart racing, that it only took 4 seconds to hit the water,  to not look down and just step out, instructed me to take some belly breaths, etc. I just couldn’t do it. I turned away from the water and the lady told me to not give up. I looked at her and said, “oh NO, I am NOT a QUITTER!”. She played on that and affirmed. I said that over and over, “I AM NOT A QUITTER! I AM NOT A QUITTER!...”. I asked if I could sit down and jump in. They gave me permission to do so, I then asked them to push me in and I was off… The swim was my fastest swim yet, due to the current. The bike ride was uneventful minus the newbies that were riding on the left, guys speeding by on the right, many fellow triathletes on the side of the road with flats and a couple of falls after  people took the curves too fast. I tried getting into the aero bars a few times, but I couldn’t get over the fear of swerving and crashing or hitting a pot hole (I realized that I didn’t have any CO2 cartridges to fix a flat). I felt strong on the bike but was likely not fast enough yet. The run was HOT and running on sand sucks. Since I was one of the last Olympic triathletes to jump off the boat, I was one of the last few athletes on the course. Nevertheless, I crossed the finish line and earned my medal and T-shirt. Lesson learned: Jumping off boats is NOT my thing! Although I was overcome with fear, I still got off the boat and swam back to shore. So to me, that’s a WIN. Tri Becca: 1 Fear: 0

Fear. It’s a powerful emotion, but  one that you can fight off and win. I feel like I can call myself a triathlete again. My fitness level, speed and endurance are not where I’d like them to be, but I am determined to remain consistent, give every workout my very best and make sure that my nutrition plan is OnPoint.

Ironman Louisville training starts on Sunday. The next 16 weeks will be interesting. At least I don’t have to battle with fear any longer.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The journey continues....

As I sit here on Thanksgiving-eve and reflect upon everything that has happened in the last year, I truly have a lot to be thankful for. Most of all, I am thankful for my health.

About 6 weeks after my last post, I was involved in a bicycle accident while training for Ironman Chattanooga. I ended up with 12 staples in my scalp, a sprained shoulder, a hip contusion (bad bruise), some abrasions, but worst of all a traumatic brain injury (concussion). I was misdiagnosed and did some things in the next few days that actually made my concussion worse. Surprisingly, there isn't a lot of information out there on concussion diagnosis and treatment. For the next 10 weeks, I was under the care of a neurologist and physical therapist for concussion therapy. As soon as I was cleared, I signed up for another Ironman triathlon, Ironman Louisville, which will be on October 11, 2015. The greatest difference between where I am mentally about this race versus the one I originally signed up for in Chattanooga, is that I no longer wonder if it's possible to become an Ironman. I know that it's possible. I am more committed and want to accomplish this goal more than ever before. God willing, I will.

I have made the decision to raise funds for brain trauma research on my journey to Ironman. This will give me even more of a cause to train and race. I hope you'll support me. I'm excited! My possibilities are endless!! Thank God for my health! What are you thankful for?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Check in: IM Chattanooga training

This week starts the 3rd week of training for Ironman Chattanooga. Life has been too busy to document everything thus far. I have been slowly building my base over the last few months and the IM training plan started over Memorial Day weekend.

I want to share the highs and lows of training. I don't want folks to see that I crossed the finish line and not know the challenging moments that I had in preparation for this event. Below is an email interchange that I had with my Coach on Saturday. Since this post, I ran 9.75 (I got lost due to being a wanderer, ran out of time and made my way back 5.25 miles short) and I have cycled nearly 3 hours. I'm committed to doing my best to get the trainings in. Stay tuned....

Hey Coach,
Congrats on finishing Comrades last weekend!! I hope that you're able to run the Ethiopia marathon this weekend.
My first two weeks of Ironman training have been tough. With the move of my Mom and Sister to the area and getting them settled in, work obligations, personal stuff and being completely exhausted, it's been really tough to get my training in. I had a little breakdown yesterday morning, because I overslept but I wanted to get a bike ride in. I just started to wonder:  Can I even do this? Did I bite off more than I can chew? Do I have enough time to properly prepare??  Do I have a solid enough base? .... I have a little note on my mirror that reads "How bad do you want it?" I asked and  answered that question with: "I want it. I want it bad". This is something that I want to do for ME . I don't want to continue giving all of my time and energy to my job and to my family and have nothing left for me. This IM is for me.
So, I brushed away tears, looked at the calendar and I counted the weeks. I have 16 weeks to get ready for Ironman Chattanooga. I'm going to jump in where I need to be. Today I'm going to run the 15 miles. I know that I can do that. I'm headed to California now. I rented a bike and I will ride my two hours tomorrow. I also packed my swim gear. I plan to run twice, swim twice & cycle twice while here. I just plan on getting on board.
I just wanted to share with you the mental challenges that I've faced this week. I know it won't be the last time that I have some sort of breakdown while training for this Ironman. I'm in. I'm committed. I will do this. I know you help me. I can do this.



I'm glad you shared. You'll have a few more moments like this and the answer will  always be, "YES,  I want this!"  In the end, Tri training should be a stress reliever, not a stress inducer. The workouts are an opportunity for you to dump all of the frustrations of the day.
Just keep doing what you can on the schedule. I've yet to get everything done on my training schedule and I've completed 12 Ironman competitions. Just keep moving towards the mark. We will always keep an eye on the big picture to make sure we are within reach of the final goal.
Family and work are important. But like you said, you've got to take care of yourself first. This race is all about you. Don't let anyone distract you, including yourself.
Get some rest and hit it again tomorrow.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

It Takes a Village: Rock and Roll DC Marathon

I completed my second marathon today. My training wasn't where it needed to be, so I called on the help of friends to get me through. My Coach laid out a great training plan, but I didn't follow it as I should have. Heather and I completed some of our long runs together, but my long runs were never as long as they should have been, so I was worried. I called up Tracy and Angie and asked them to run with me and they didn't hesitate for one second. I got through the first 16 miles alone, but with lots of doubt about going the full distance. It wasn't until I saw Ieesha and she told me, "You're going to finish" that I knew that I would not bow out at the half. It was mental, as nothing really hurt besides my Achilles in the first mile. I was just tired and not up for the challenge, since I didn't get conditioned as well as I should have. This was an emotional race for me. I cried when I saw Ieesha, I cried when I saw Gladys and I cried a couple of other times. I realized that quitting was not an option and that I need to have mind control over Deebo (the devil that sits on my shoulder sometimes). I thought about my upcoming Ironman Chattanooga triathlon and asked myself, "How are you going to become an Ironman if you start quitting now?".

I pushed past the those crazy thoughts and started to count down the miles before I saw Tracy. I hesitated at the point where I could go left to the 1/2 marathon finish or right to stay on the marathon course. Tracy was exactly where she said she would be at mile 16 and we got to stepping. I started to fade in mile 18 because I needed salt, so she bummed some pretzels from a spectator. Francy was out there and gave me a hug. Angie was right before the 20 mile mark, as promised, so Tracy handed me off to her. I had no pain, but was just getting tired. Angie decided that we would start running 3:1 intervals, but we quickly had to change it to 2:1 intervals. She was relentless with sticking to the intervals, even on the hills of that wicked Minnesota Avenue. Before long, we saw Gladys and she had my Coke and Peanut M&M's as promised. Angie made me some salt water and we brought it in to the finish line.

This was truly a group effort. I know that the last 10 miles would have been even more of a challenge without those ladies. I will eternally be grateful to them and vow to follow my training plan moving forward. My Coach and Heather were waiting for me at the finish line. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!

Me and Heather
Shayla: Chance meeting at the start line!
Running Angels: Tracy and Angie!

Me and Gladys: The Coke and M&M's got me to the finish line!!
Mission Complete!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Mind control over Deebo

There is always going to be something: cold weather, hot weather, family issues, busy days at the job, injuries, illness, etc. We can't escape it. We can either use the issue as an excuse or find a way to work towards our goals, despite the current issue(s). Lately, I have been having a difficult time working towards my goals despite the issues. I wish there was a playbook to tell me what's really just an excuse versus what I can push and train through. Sometimes I tell myself to "just listen to your body", but often times, I can't tell if it's my mind or my body giving me the answer.

The weather has made it tough to get outside to run on days when there's ice and below freezing wind chills. Well, I went to Miami to run a 1/2 marathon and the heat and humidity (along with a personal physical challenge) made it hard to run there too. It's true that if we always waited for the perfect conditions, we would rarely do anything, especially train for an Ironman. So, I just have to find a way to push through and work around the challenges that I'm facing and make it happen. My body and mind have to equally get tougher in order for me to overcome and win on this journey to Ironman Chattanooga. Game ON!

Since I last wrote a post, I have started a Spin90 class one day per week, started a Total Immersion Stroke Development class twice per week, tried to remain consistent with running 3 days per week to train for a mid-March marathon and have inconsistently done weights and core work. I may have to drop down to the 1/2 marathon or nix the whole race depending on my surgery schedule and recovery. I'm very glad that I got a head start on building a stronger base and still have plenty of time to prepare for Ironman Chattanooga. This surgery will just be a little bump in the road. I will do my best to work on my mind game and be more consistent once I am all better.

I WILL give every workout my very best! I WILL be more consistent! I WILL be an Ironman!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

One month down...

I am in the building phase of training for Ironman Chattanooga. The actual 16 week Ironman training doesn't start until June. The plan is to focus on running alone in Nov/Dec then add swimming (re-tuning my stroke) in Jan/Feb and start cycling in March. I can do anything that I like to build strength and agility in addition to that between now and March 1st. So, if I am going to do anything to trim down, now is the time. As I prepare to head out for a long run today, I decided to take stock of where I am/how I'm doing. If I had to give myself a grade at this point, it would be a D.

The month of November was a challenge due to mental demons. I think I've discovered the source of the mental demons coming out. It was my plan to take the month of November off to just do whatever I wanted to do fitness wise. I didn't want to be committed to a plan that brings on the mental stress of having to do something. However, my dream of having a coach to get me ready for Ironman Chattanooga came true and his plan was to start base building in November, so I rolled with it. Perhaps I should have pushed back and shared what I needed mentally. Another thing is that I have come to the realization that I am more race focused/motivated and not as committed to fitness as I should be. When I have something on the calendar and the goal is to cross the finish line, I have no problem doing what it takes to get there. However, if there isn't something to get ready for or if I feel like have time to prepare, I am lazy. If I was more committed to fitness, despite what events are on the calendar, I would be in better physical shape. I must change this way of thinking/being.

I have stepped on the scale monthly to check out my weight, muscle mass, body fat and water %, etc. since January 2012, but fell off in September 2013. Consequently, the numbers on the scale are worse than they have ever been since I started this. I have had some events (job change, dealing with my Mother's illness/aging, etc) this year that have really worn me down. I feel like I have gotten a hold on things and feel optimistic about handling everything moving forward. I have identified the true source of the things and behavior that are not serving me and have a plan in place to combat that.

So, one month down and 10 to go until race day (September 28th). I hope to be able to give myself a better grade on January 1. Let's GOOOOOOO!

Monday, November 4, 2013

My 1st Marathon!

Mile 0.5: His IT band is hurting. “This is going to be a long… day!”

Mile 2: Bertha!!

Mile 4 (Rock Creek Park): Mahasin and a drunk girl. I was standing on the side of the road waiting for my friend to use the bathroom and she stopped and asked if I was peeing (yes, you read that correctly). She then asked if I needed some vodka to get me going again and then said, "WAIT, do I have vodka or tequila today?". She explained that she can only run marathons with vodka or tequila and that she went out drinking last night and only spent $42. Her eyes were glazed over, her speech was slurred, she told me bye and ran along... Yes. That happened.

Mile 8 (Rock Creek Park): “Oops, I waited too long to eat my Bonk Breaker. I hope this doesn’t ruin my day! Where is Teresa with those peanut M&M’s??!!” For some reason, if I eat something by an hour and a half of running, I am good for the rest of the race, if not I bonk.
Mile 9( Rock Creek Park): “I needed that hug from Teresa and those peanut M&M’s and coke were life-saving! Thank God for great friends!”
Mile 9.5 (Kennedy Center): “Oh yeah! I’m feeling good again!” I saw Sissy and Erin and took this photo like I was having way too much fun for this to be a marathon!

Mile 12 (Hains Point): “This is stupid and boring. Who thought of this?! I prefer the mix of triathlons. This continuous running is for the birds! Wait, is he stopping for so many pee breaks because he is hurting and/or tired?”. The pictures of the fallen soldiers and the people holding the American flags brought me to tears and a major attitude adjustment.
Mile 14 (Hains Point): “Okay, I have to focus. I’m not even 1/2way there. I’m not tired… I’m NOT tired”
Mile 15(leaving Hains Point): "Okay, my plan to run 2 miles and walk the water station is working. Pick up the pace. Run to the third tree and then just a short walk break. Angie is supposed to be at mile 16 by Lincoln. Just run to Angie!"
Mile 16 (Lincoln): No Angie, but I saw Ericka!! She was walking and complaining that her uterus felt like it was about to fall out. I gave her a hug and some Aleeve then kept it moving. He was really hurting and needed to walk. We stopped to use the bathroom and after stepping off the curb, he was in major pain.  Done. “Uh oh, this may not have been a good idea!”. I didn’t want to leave him, as he is only out here to support me. "What’s a girl to do???” I know... I am too kind.
Mile 17 (14th and Madison): Erin and Sissy were there and the entire Moshiman cheer crew with signs too! They were SO loud and all gave me high fives. I was feeling the love!!.... and then, I was so surprised to see Edwidge and Gladys there that I think I was feeling the love a little too much. I came to a screeching halt, put my hands over my face and started to cry. I just felt overwhelmed by the love and support. They pretty much told me to just suck it up and keep it moving… and I did. Ha!

Mile 18 (National Mall): Terri and Cass!!
Mile 19.5 (The turn to Beat the Bridge): Megan, Edwige, Gladys, Sissy and Erin!!
Mile 20(14th St bridge): Lisa!! We chatted for a few and I kept it moving. My feet were hurting when I walked and his IT band and calf hurt to run. “What’s a girl to do? I’m ready to finish this thing. I would hate to leave him!”
Mile 22 (Crystal City): Ieesha!!! She tried to run with us, but he couldn’t run and my bladder felt like it was about to fall out. We found a porta potty and walked a bit more. She took off and by mile 22.5, I could no longer walk and he could no longer run, so I took off and left him.
Mile 24: My watch died and I missed him singing cadence songs to me, so I made up my own…out LOUD . I tried to keep it moving to try to get my mind off my dang feet hurting so bad! I had never had my feet to hurt like that! I walked, ran, skipped, made up songs, danced, made friends and finally... I heard the announcers at the finish line!
Mile 26.1: Gladys, Edwidge, Sissy and Erin again!! These ladies were making their way around the course like professional spectathletes!  Gladys ran out and gave me a big ‘ol hug and I ran to the finish line!
Finish line fiasco: I DID IT!! I never had any doubt that I would, but I was SO very proud! I snapped a photo and headed off to have a Marine place a medal around my neck… only to be told that they ran out of medals. Big, hot, crocodile tears immediately started to roll down my face. I never knew that getting a medal meant so much to me, but I was so very disappointed. I had dreamed of running up to the Iwo Jima and having a Marine say, “Good job, Ma’am” while donning me with my well-deserved medal… but that dream was shattered. I had questions, I refused a 10k medal, I called bullshit on the two stories that they told me and pretty much made a big scene. I was so hurt. A staff member walked up to me and gave me a medal. That simmered me down. I stayed there for an hour to let other finishers take an official finisher photo with my medal.

Post-race: I took an ice bath and walked the stairs a few times that evening. Other than some quad pain and being sleepy all week, I felt fine. My ankle never bothered me. In the week after I sprained it, I had acupuncture twice, electrical stimulation 3 times and plenty of RICE. On race day, a popped a prescribed pain pill and slapped a lidocaine patch on it, so the ankle was in lala land.  I will run another marathon during training for Ironman Chattanooga. My greatest lesson is to not accept the offer from someone to run with me for support again. It was an extremely kind thing for him to do, but he was untrained and injured and should have realized that he could jeopardize my race. My predicted finish time was 5-5.5 hours, but it took me an hour longer. I never hit a wall or had any pain. Looking on the bright side, my marathon in March will be a PR of over an hour!!
Special thanks to James for running with me and trying to hang in there through the pain, Brook for doing Physical Therapy on the ankle, all of the FB folks and friends who gave me 1st timer tips and suggestions on how to get the ankle race ready. I am eternally grateful for all those who cheered me on virtually and in person. Please know that without you, my accomplishment would have been tougher. I am extremely proud to add a marathon to my list of accomplishments!
Next up: March marathon and whatever else my Coach tells me to do in preparation for Ironman Chattanooga! I will be an Ironman on September 28, 2014. I'm writing it down and will make it happen. I hope you come along for the journey...
Tri Becca