Monthly Archives: April 2005

4/30/2005 Letting out the Little Voice (192)

Saturday. Rainy Saturday. Had a GTS this morning but I didn’t work out as I was organizing a picnic for the participants. I think I’ll take it to the treadmill for a light jog this afternoon or maybe just do my Pilates tape. Played tennis last night — we lost. Yuck. My serve was pretty bad in the second set. Guess it needs more work…. My game was good otherwise we just couldn’t close the big points. We gave them a good run for their money — tie breaker in the first set and then lost the second set 6-3.

So here is an argument for muscle vs. fat. Last night I pulled out an old pair of shorts. I knew they would fit because I last wore them in 2000 when I had lost weight. I was actually 5 pounds lighter then than now but I figured that wouldn’t matter that much. When I put the shorts on, however, I was shocked to see how loose they were. They weren’t too loose, but they were definitely baggier than they were in 2000. So that just goes to show that a lot of my size reduction is due to increased muscle. Even though I’m still a few pounds heavier, I’m definitely smaller. That’s a good thing. Of course I realize it is pretty sad that I’ve been holding onto shorts for 5 years that didn’t fit!!! (Or is that optimistic? I’m not sure.) I think it is time for another closet purge.

A lot more comments about my weight loss last night at tennis and this morning at practice. It is going to get worse before it gets better because I’m not done losing weight yet. I have a ways to go. I am just going to have to deal with it whether I like it or not. I can’t let these comments get in the way of my goals. It’s hard. I don’t feel comfortable with the attention or the comments. I notice I’m very excited to talk about my St. Anthony’s results and will blabber away to anyone who will listen about that. Eventually they start to walk away muttering “gee sorry I asked” as I’m running after them “wait, hey, I didn’t even get to the run part yet.” “Yeah, later, see ya,” they say. And yet, the mere mention of “gee you look great, you’ve lost weight” my responses become a monosyllabic grunt and I look down at my feet. Conversation over. Not particularly gracious. I’ll work on that.

I was watching my tivo of Oprah yesterday and she was talking about losing weight. She said something that really struck a chord in me. Mind you, I have heard her say this before, but isn’t all of this about being reminded over and over again? Paraphrasing, she said, ‘you have to value yourself enough to lose weight. You have to believe you are worth losing weight.’ I really started thinking about it. Do I care enough about myself to put myself first and to really think about food in a way as a nurturing agent? I think I do. I like myself. I think I deserve it. I guess I have to work on adjusting my head to accept the outer image of me and keep in touch with the fact that I am worth getting fitter, stronger, faster and healthier. Whatever comments people make, good or bad do not define me. I have to listen to that little voice that is quietly whispering — “I am here, I am worth it.” Sometimes life gets a little noisy and that voice gets drowned out.

Definitely the cat is out of the bag on the journey to Ironman 2007. Someone I barely know and have only seen a handful of times came up to me today and said “You look great! I hear you are on the track to the Ironman?” I almost choked on the non-core bagel I ate this morning at the picnic. “How did you hear that?” I asked. “Oh I don’t remember, someone mentioned it.” She said. I got really nervous. “For 2007” I stuttered, “2007.” I didn’t want anyone to think that I was so delusional that I thought I could do it even next year. I had a momentary panic that the coaches would hear my plans and be rolling their eyes thinking “an Ironman? She thinks she is going to do an Ironman?” I know that is silly because they are not like that. That is my own projection of my own insecurities. Nonetheless, I don’t want anyone to think that I presume to be ready for that undertaking.

There is something scary about putting your dream out there for everyone to see. Part of me asks all the time, am I just a delusional idiot? Is this a realistic goal? Are people snickering behind my back saying “she thinks SHE can do that? Who does she think she is?” But, deep, deep, down inside is that little voice again and she is also saying “you ARE an Ironman.” I want to let that little voice out and give my body a chance at being a real athlete. I know I have so much to learn, so much to improve. My running is ridiculously slow. My swim is slow. But I am improving. I am getting stronger. I am getting fitter and I can see movement along the road towards Lake Placid or Kona or where ever. (I’ve been thinking lately that Kona sounds really cool.) I know it is a long way away. I know I have a lot of work to do, but I also know that this is something I am meant to do. I’m not going anywhere. I’m in for the long haul.

So I got my package for New York City Marathon training. Are you ready for this? Training starts in two weeks!! “Get out!” you say. “No, really. It’s true” I say. I haven’t even finished Memphis yet and we start Marathon training in two weeks. I’m not too worried about it. We will be running 3-4 miles a day, 4 days a week with two days for cross-training. That will fit in fine with my triathlon training through the summer. I will focus on my running 4 days and two days a week on cycling. I’ll throw in two swims a week on top of either a run or a bike. It looks like that is our schedule for May and June. On Saturdays we will do our long runs but I don’t think those start getting long until July. They look like 5-6 miles runs at the beginning.

I’m really nervous and excited about the marathon. This is a big step towards my ultimate goal. If I can do the marathon confidently I will have a great base for starting my half ironman training in December/January. I will want to make sure to get 3-4 weeks of rest after the marathon so I can start renewed in 2006. I can’t believe it is already here. Two weeks and I’m on my way to train for my first Marathon. Marathon. Marathon. Marathon……

I think I better go do some pushups. I’m getting nervous.


I read this line the other day and I can’t stop thinking about it:

“All gains, whether material, spiritual, moral or mystical, are in answer to one’s own character.”

Hazrat Inayat Khan

Here are some more St. Anthony’s pictures:

(Melissa and Connie on beach before race start.)

(Connie transitioning from swim to bike)

(Connie coming into the finish line. Am I catching up to him? Or has he just passed me? hmmmm…. lol)

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4/29/2005 The Double Edged Sword (193)

Friday Feelings. Just came back from another animated WW meeting — what a group of introverts we have down there — NOT!! Hard to get a word in edge-wise. Everyone wanted to know how my trip went. I told them everything went well and I made it through all the stressful situations without any permanent scarring.

I was down .4 pounds which I guess is good because I was really off plan for 5 days. It makes me wonder what I could have been down if I had stuck to plan, but oh well — that’s over. I really thought I was going to be up, but I’m guessing I lost weight the week before (when I didn’t get to check in at WW) and probably gained some of it back this week. Okay, fresh start.

We got on an interesting topic at the meeting about how we receive comments from people about our weight. I was saying I feel uncomfortable with the number of comments I get from everyone. I get multiple comments a day and it starting to wear on me a little. I get comments at practice, I got comments down in FL, I got comments on the tennis court, I get comments at the gym, I get comments in the elevator, and I get comments walking down the street. For some reason people think that this is a topic open for general discussion. People who I don’t even know their name will come up and comment on my weight loss. This blows my mind. Most of the comments I seem to take in stride as long as they are not overboard. One woman was calling me “skinny” down in Florida. That bothered me. I’m far from “skinny” and I’m not stupid so I took that as a patronizing comment. It bugged me.

Everyone at the meeting chimed in on their similar experiences with comments. First we heard from the guys. They couldn’t understand the problem. They love getting comments — never too many. Then a woman spoke up and said — “but you probably never got the negative comments when you were heavier, did you?” They all acknowledged that was true. When the guys were heavier — nobody really said anything to them. But when they lost the weight — people made a lot of comments and they felt good.

Our leader said she felt a fear of gaining the weight back when people made too many comments about her weight. I identified with that. I do feel a little insecure about the possibility of gaining the weight back. When I get too many comments about my weight loss a little voice in the back of my head says “so, I’m good because I lost this weight, what will I be if I gain it back?” I realize now how much that was weighing on my mind while I was in Florida drinking and eating.

But, when people say NOTHING, that feels bad too. “Can’t they tell? Why aren’t they saying anything?” We don’t want the criticism, we don’t want the compliment and we don’t want the silence. LOL — this is a no win situation!

Another member chimed in that she felt it was strange when people made such a big deal about her weight loss and said things like “you look great!” She wonders what they thought before. Did she look hideous? I don’t think skinnier is necessarily prettier, but I do think it looks healthier. I like it when people say I look healthier. That sits better with me than “you look skinny.” First of all, as I said, I’m nowhere near skinny and that’s just stupid. I’m also not trying to get skinny. I don’t think skinny is a compliment. I am trying to get fit. I am trying to get stronger and faster. I don’t want to end up skinny. Where’s the compliment in that? Who says that’s better?

I was thrilled this past weekend when everyone complimented me on my race results. Those comments I took to heart. All the comments about my appearance I tossed aside — it means nothing — my appearance is changing and there is no measurement of success. But the race is a measurement of accomplishment. There you did it. In black and white you met your goal and improved your time. Will I ever get to that point with weight loss or fitness? Will I ever wake up and say “there — you’ve done it — you are fit”?

I think for me — talking about how thin or fat I am conjures up all kinds of feelings of invalidation that I have lived with my entire life. I’ve weighed A LOT less than this in my life and was still called fat. I’ve been at what weight watchers calls my goal weight and was still called overweight. I’ll never in my lifetime be skinny. Not because I can’t get skinny — because I don’t want to be skinny. I don’t want skinny as the goal. I know lots of skinny, miserable people. They can’t do a triathlon. They can’t even run 6 miles. Keep your skinny — I want to be fit. I want to be fast.

Our leader went on a little rampage at the end of the meeting which gave us all a chuckle. She wants to know what gives people the liberty to comment on our appearance good or bad without our invitation? But I guess we do it all the time don’t we? I love that blouse. (What was wrong with the one I was wearing yesterday?) Your hair looks great. (Was it a rat’s nest last week?) I guess there are some topics that are just accepted. We get to comment on how we all look. We all want to be complimented — we just don’t want the implied insult.

I guess the bottom line is we can’t control what other people are going to say. They are going to make comments. The only think we can change is how much stock we place in their opinion. The woman who calls me skinny tells me more about her value system then about my own appearance. She thinks she is giving me a compliment because I am getting closer to her ideal. I think she needs glasses and has a warped perception of reality. Neither one of us is totally wrong or totally right. It’s just a perception. I can’t let her perception influence me one way or another. They put something up on the board at the meeting today that was a good reminder. They wrote “people will come and go out of my life; I am with me for life.” My compliments to myself are the only ones that count.


One of the women at WW said something today that touched me. She said she cried the day she had to ask for a seatbelt extender on the airplane. She said she also cried the day she didn’t need one anymore.

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4/28/2005 Anchors Away (194)

Thursday, thanksgiving. I have continued to feel the abundance of good fortune in my life and will take today to focus on the graces and not the fears. I am thankful for the opportunity to grow spiritually and shrink physically. I am grateful for my new found strength — both in the gym and in the kitchen. I am grateful for the courage to face my fears of failure and grateful for the determination to conquer my own addictions.

I feel better this morning now that I have had a good night’s sleep, the sun is shining and I made a run to the grocery store. Having my tried and true breakfast foods has calmed me a little bit. Knowing that I have several options for lunch and dinner is a great relief and I have exhaled knowing that I will be able to eat on Core today and any deviation is not because I am not prepared.

I suffer from food anxiety. I suffer from the fear of not having any or enough. When I travel I am afraid that suddenly all food sources will be closed down to me. Fast Food chains cater to people with food anxiety. “Don’t worry” they advertise “we’ll have you fed in minutes.” I know I have pulled into McDonalds on more than one occasion while traveling because I was worried that there would be nothing else around. (Of course, there probably was a grocery store within ten feet but in my anxiety I never saw it.)

My food anxiety has grown now to include anxiety over finding Core foods. This is ridiculous because core foods have been around a lot longer than McDonalds. But I fear that all I will have at my disposal is a bunch of apples and carrots and that I will starve. (The irony is it would take me weeks to starve off of my own fat!) Nonetheless, I get panicked fearing that I won’t have enough food. If I carry food with me — I usually eat it early on because I am suddenly starving thinking about the possibility of there being no food after I eat the food I brought to fend off my fears of having no food. Warped, heh?

I’m sure there is some medical or scientific explanation for the false transmission in our neurological receptors, but let’s just suffice to say that I think anxiety is often rooted in the fear of survival. I fear lack of food. You might fear lack of a significant relationship. He fears lack of income. She fears intimacy. Name the fear or anxiety and I’m pretty sure at the root is a threat to your survival — hunger, destitution or pain. Once you push back through all the b.s. you find some pretty basic human fears.

I was swimming with a friend the other day who has a fear of the open water. We were swimming in the bay — calm, clear water, perfect conditions. Yet she was afraid of not being able to touch the bottom. She was afraid of slimy, creepy things swimming under her. I couldn’t see any slimy, creepy things and it didn’t bother me that I couldn’t touch the bottom because I knew I could float. She knew she could float too — she’s actually a good swimmer. But since when is logic a remedy for anxiety and fear? Bottom line, she had a basic fear of her survival. I fear lack of spaghetti — she fears sharks. Same thing really.

So what can we do about anxiety and fear? I realized this morning while I was eating my breakfast of oatmeal, berries, skim milk, vita-j and two Morningstar breakfast links, I felt calmed. I felt assured that everything would be okay. Things were back to normal. I think I felt that way because I have come to associate those food items with a good day on Core. I have come to associate those items with feeling full and nourished and taken care of. Not having those items over the last five days made me feel unbalanced, nervous and ready to eat anything in sight. Those food associations are called anchors. A lot of our fears and anxieties can be eased with the help of anchoring. Little reminders that we are on course, we are safe and we are cared for.

I’ve been searching my brain for ideas on how to help my friend with her fears of open water. I certainly don’t want to play Dr. Phil here and throw out lame pop psychology and I don’t want to minimize the depth of anyone’s fears (the Lord knows how deep my fears are) but we came up with a couple of ideas that could both distract and comfort my friend as anchors in the water. I think practicing these techniques in the pool can later become anchors for her in open water (lol, no pun intended!) It is as simple as ABC — Aim, Breath and Count. (Hey I’m trade marking that!!)

First thing I think it was important for my friend to have a goal — something to aim for. This would allow her to concentrate on her target, not what was going on under her. There are only so many things we can juggle in our mind at once. If you are thinking about where you are going, it is hard to think about what is going on underneath you. I suggested she switch her focus to the destination. That visualization becomes both a distraction and a beneficial skill for efficient swimming.

Even more important than the aim is the breathing. Even before entering the water, it is important to get that deep rhythmic breathing happening on land. Starting with deep yoga breaths will help relax the diaphragm and start to prepare the swimmer for a rythmic and relaxing swim. (Okay, perhaps in my personal case a little too relaxing, but we’ll discuss that later!) If you remember this past winter when I received advice from a wind instrument musician — she told me she practices her deep breathing BEFORE she even begins warming up. I tried that on my running and it really does help get you to that second exhale sooner.

Once in the water and on your way there are several things to be counting. The first technique I use is counting the length of exhale. I like to exhale to a count of 3 and inhale to a count of 2. I concentrate on the exhale and just let the inhale happen naturally. For me the 3/2 count works. Interestingly, the same count helps me find a rhythm when running. If I find I am winded and breathing in my upper lungs only, I concentrate on the exhale and then the inhale takes care of itself. After a few exaggerated breaths (say five or six) my breathing becomes more natural and I am breathing all the way down into my stomach.

I also count strokes in the water. I start my sighting with every ten strokes just to make sure I am on course. If there is a lot of current, I may have to keep with the every ten strokes to stay on course. If I find I am swimming very straight, I increase that to twelve and if I find I am in a lake or very calm water I even go up to twenty. That has to be a personal number for each swimmer, but I think most good swimmers are doing some kind of counting. (Or maybe that is just something I made up to make myself feel better — who knows.)

Another way counting helps is in the form of a mantra. Scott our coach will often say “count like a drunk.” Ooooonnneee, twwwwoooooo. Each stroke should be long and relaxed. Any repetitive phrase would work. “One, two, three, light and easy and free.”

So all of these techniques are anchors. When we get nervous in situations the first step is to acknowledge this as a natural survival instinct and not berate ourselves. Our mind and body is doing what they are supposed to do — sending out alarms that we are in a possibly dangerous situation. Just as I have been nervous the last couple of days with my eating, that is a natural response as well. (“Danger, Danger, Will Robinson — enemy Cheesecake approaching.”) I have to acknowledge that my subconscious is trying to protect me — trying to warn me that I’m heading into dangerous water. So now is the time for me to use my anchoring techniques which include buying foods that I know are on core, writing in my blog and making plans for my next meals in advance. I feel much better when I know what my lunch and dinner are going to be than when I have to “wing” it.

Pretty much any situation where you feel threatened or insecure can be helped with the technique of anchoring. Finding a few phrases or actions or foods that help you from drifting out to sea. “one, two, three, no highly-processed, refined sugars for me.”


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4/27/2005 Curfew (195)

Wednesday. Wisdom. Why do I always feel so dumb when I’m trying to think of some pearl of wisdom or something I have learned over the last several months? When I try to think of some wise epiphany, that’s when all of my slip ups slap me in the face. When one part of my journey of fitness is going strong, I seem to get weaker in another. Right now my physical journey is going well but my nutritional journey is not. I really slipped off the core wagon while I was away (I know, I know it was only five days, but it feels like it was a lot longer). Today at the airport my plane was delayed and I found myself getting a sandwich — totally not core — and I somehow justified it by saying “I’m still traveling.” I had to reach over the salads to get to the sandwich. Geesh. I’m frightened to think of what Friday’s weigh-in at weight watchers is going to be, but I’m going to take my lumps.

Tomorrow I have to get back to basics. I need my oatmeal and fruit morning. I need a lot of veggies and beans for lunch. I need a nice brown rice, veggie and shrimp dinner. I need to get back to my plan. Right now I feel on the slippery slope back to the center of fatville and I wasn’t even all the way out of town yet.

It’s funny how you get little messages from the universe. I’m noticing a lot of stories the last couple of days about people who lost weight only to put it back on. I can clearly see how it can happen. You start to feel “cured.” Hah! I’m not “cured,” I’m still sick. One slip here, another slip there and next thing you know you are on the water slide at Great Adventure landing in a Pizza Hut.

Last night I had to take my Mom and a friend out for a birthday dinner. I couldn’t believe how hard it was for me to resist eating the bread. I don’t even think about eating bread and now after just one weekend of indulgence I was actually trying to justify it in my mind. “Well, you’ve blown your diet this weekend anyway, go ahead and have some bread. Butter too, if you want.” I managed to resist, but the temptation was so great it was alarming. I think I need to detox. Didn’t someone say this would be easy? Oh, that was me, guess I was wrong.

I see how much cravings are caused by the foods that I eat. Sugar begets the need for more sugar. On the airplane today I ate the stupid little package of pretzels. Why? I wasn’t hungry. I just wanted them. What is the nutritional value of pretzels? Zero. I felt like I had stepped over the line so what the hell. It’s really warped logic if you think about it. Gee I just went over my credit limit by $1,000 so what’s another $100? It’s another $100 that’s what it is. Another analogy would be — hey I’m out past curfew anyway, what’s another hour? Warped logic. Logic blurred by the sugar beast. Didn’t Pandora have a box or something like that?

I feel nervous that I’m going out of control and I have to get back on plan. First step is to stock up. Tonight I’ll stop in the grocery store and make sure I’m ready for tomorrow. (I think I’ve already eaten enough today …..) Fresh fruits and veggies. I figure if I have the right foods on hand I won’t be tempted by the not-so-healthy stuff. This is the time to pull in the reins — before I get too out of control. Exercise will help too. Sunday seems far away already. Even though I swam a little on Monday and I played an hour of tennis yesterday, I think I need a good run to make me feel better.

Tonight I have to play some tennis so I won’t get a run in, but I think I’m okay. My bike won’t be back until later tomorrow so I’ll get up early and run. I’ll do a good ride on Friday with a swim. On Saturday I’d like to do another good run.

This is no time to let down my guard. I have a long way to go. Plenty of flab. Plenty of opportunity to get more fit.

If you see me wandering suspiciously close to the Little Pie Company — call the Core Police and report my curfew violation.


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4/26/2005 Muscle Memory (196)

Tuesday. I’m in Longboat Key visiting my parents and recovering from my weekend. Not the triathlon, the eating!!! Yikes. I went a little overboard on the drinking and eating on the weekend, ending with a huge plate of fried clams and French fries!!! It was all you can eat fried clams at the Shrimp Store in St. Petersburg. If I didn’t wow the city with my triathletic abilities, I certainly left a legacy of eating abilities!

I went to Publix and bought a few items so I could try to ease myself back into some healthful eating. It came back pretty quickly and I’m feeling a little degreased!

This morning I played some tennis in an attempt to get up to speed quickly. It appears I will have to play a match on Friday night for my team and let’s just say tennis has not been my focus for awhile. I had hoped to not have to play until after Memphis, but I am short a player so here I go. I hit for a half hour with the pro here who is very good. He just ran me through my strokes and then was kind enough to lend me a basket of balls and I practiced my serve for 45 minutes. It was just what I had needed to do for a long, long, time!!

At first my serves were just awful – hit or miss and I was getting very frustrated. Every tenth ball I would send a good serve in but the rest were all over the place. My tossing arm was stiff and I just couldn’t get it loose so the ball was going behind me, to the left – anywhere but up and to the right. Arghhh!! It was so frustrating! I tried everything, every little trick I could think of. Toss the ball towards the net post, bounce the ball to loosen up your arm. Toss to one o’clock, hit at five o’clock. NOTHING was working. Oh great, I thought, can’t wait to go teach some tennis.

Then after about 30 balls, I started to feel my shoulders loosen up and my wrists starting to snap and I was starting to get some consecutive serves in. I just kept tossing and hitting, tossing and hitting. Then finally after about ½ hour of just hitting serve after serve after serve, there she was. She was standing right in front of me, like an old friend who had been missing for years. My serve came back. I found I had to turn my left shoulder just a bit more to the right and there, the toss was perfect – I reached up and felt the snap as the serve went sailing in. There! I pumped my arms! That’s it! That’s my serve. Andre the pro was on the next court giving a lesson and he was totally cracking up at me.

Then for the next fifteen minutes I just served and served and served. I played a little serving game where I serve like it is a match and I keep score. If I get the serve in, a point for me. If I double fault a point for them. I kept switching sides, just like a match. When I got to 6 games I stopped. I had served 6 games and only two double faults, and only 4 second serves. Not bad, not bad at all. I found it, I was happy. That was what I should have done a long time ago. Now I am going to try to do that twice a week. Just take a bucket of balls and keep my serve in her groove. Once it was there I knew I could have kept serving all afternoon and would have missed only a few serves. I felt good. Unfortunately we don’t usually get 45 minutes to warm up our serve before a match! LOL!

Muscle memory. It is a fascinating thing. We can train our muscles to repeat certain actions over and over again until they become second nature. That’s why doing drills is so important in swimming – you are developing muscle memory. Keep practicing the fingertip drag drill enough and it becomes engrained in your muscle memory. Cycling and running cadence uses muscle memory too. Keep counting out the 1 and 2 and 3 and….. eventually your muscles remember what 90 rpms feels like. Keep engaging your core – eventually one day you’ll look down and say “wow, I held my stomach in through that entire ride!!”

Muscle memory is nothing more than habit. What we practice we do. The same thing with food. We have muscle memory there too. Grab a slice of pizza on your way home every night after practice and that becomes an instinctive reaction. Open a bottle of wine every time you are tired or depressed – that becomes a muscle memory. Fill your water bottle the first thing every morning – muscle memory.

So I guess the trick is to realize that whatever we want to be we will be if we just keep practicing. Just keep stroking, pedaling, running, tossing, spinning until one day we look up and we say “I did that?” “I am that?” “How did that happen?” Eventually it gets easier. Eventually one day we say “oh, I really have quit smoking and it has been six years!!!”

This weekend actually made me aware of my body and how very far I have to go to get to where I want to be. I swear I have more flab than I did before. Or maybe just things are loosening up and I’m just more aware of it. But more important than losing weight or even losing inches, I want to build more muscle. I enjoyed the feeling of being stronger on Sunday during the race. Lighter will be great too, don’t get me wrong, but what I enjoyed the most this weekend was feeling strong enough to endure the event. Even just hitting balls this morning I enjoyed my endurance. I hit more balls in ½ hour than most people hit in 2 hours. I didn’t miss one ball. I was light on my feet and executed good form. That is what I want. Yes, I want to be lighter, I want to weigh less, I want a lot fewer bumps and bulges and rolls. But most of all I want to have strength. I want to be injury free. This feels great to have my knees working again. This is who I want to be.


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4/25/2005 Week 16 Check In — Results Are In (197)

Monday. Week 16 Check in. Sorry there was no blog yesterday – no time due to race day. No weigh in either because I’m in Florida.

Well I’m not sure my results could have been much better. 3:39 was my race finish which is nothing short of miraculous. I’m still not sure how I did it and if it wasn’t on my watch and it wasn’t posted on the St. Anthony’s website I would never believe it. I’ve been getting a lot of pats on the back since yesterday. Prior to this my best time had been a 4:07. My time at St. Anthony’s last year was a 4:13. That’s a 32 minute performance increase in this race since last year. People don’t do 32 minute performance increases in triathlons – at least I didn’t think they did! Most people hope to shave 2 minutes off their time here or there and maybe try for a 10 minute overall increase or if they are pushing say a 15 minutes increase after a lot of training. But I have not heard of a 32 minute increase. Who does that? So let’s just say it was a 28 minute increase over Westchester and not sound so bizarre.

(Cheesy pose before race start.)

So how? Well I guess going to the numbers is the only way to tell. Last year St. Anthony’s my swim was 48 and this year was 43. That’s a decrease of 5 minutes. Part of that came from my entry into the water. They time you from the beginning of the wave start all the way until you are out of the water and entering the transition area. In past triathlons I was very cautious about entering the water. I still stand at the back of the pack, but I don’t walk in anymore, now I run in. When I first started the triathlons my heart rate would be so high that I had to walk in – otherwise I would have had a heart attack. Now I’m fairly calm so that’s not such an issue. And I push through.

My swim was great although I need to improve speed. I’m far too relaxed out there – still having an afternoon swim instead of racing. The most apparent improvement was my shoulder strength. I felt incredibly strong in my shoulders and that is what made me realize that I really could push harder. It also gave me incredible confidence. Although I’ve always been comfortable in the water, I usually look up and say – that’s far. Yesterday I KNEW I would have no problem swimming that distance and could have done it twice without blinking. I didn’t think that the triathlon was the place to practice my speed work. So that is my next goal – get in the pool and start some serious speed work. Endurance and strength is definitely there. I would like to see that swim number get down much more.

Next came my T1 (that is the first transition from swim to bike). I had decided to not wear a wetsuit which helped take some time off. I used to have a lot of difficulty in transition because I would keep thinking there was something I was missing. But one of the things that the coaches tell us to do is rehearse your transition in your mind during the last moments of your swim. So I was already rehearsing “lube, lube, lube.” My underarms were chaffing from the swim and I knew if I didn’t lube they would be raw by the run. Apparently this is a common malady early in the season – as we run more in sleeveless tops our arm skin becomes tougher. Remember they have been under a lot of garments all winter. So my T1 last year was 8:19 (that’s ridiculously long – nobody takes that long!) This year my T1 was a very respectable 3:32. So there’s another 5 minutes.

Well the big shocker came on my bike. This is the part I just can’t understand. I took 15 minutes off my bike! That’s huge. A couple of reasons that is huge. First, I can’t really give credit to the cooler temps because I don’t really feel the heat when riding my bike like I do when running. I couldn’t believe it. So I rode 25 miles in 85 minutes which comes out to around a 17.54 minute mile average. Riding 17 mph is not such a great feat – I do that and faster a lot. But riding it for 25 miles is pretty good for me and I felt good about that time. The big advantage of this course is that it is pretty flat. There was a lot of head wind, however, so that slowed people down a lot. I wonder how I would have done without the head wind? I kept pretending I was in spin class and hunkered down to cut through the wind. My legs felt really, really strong. I think I had a good cadence going, unfortunately I FORGOT to put my computer on my bike so who knows if I could have done better with that reminder.

The huge improvement on my bike was my core. HUGE improvement. I was able get down into the proper bike position with flat back and support myself for the whole ride instead of rounding my shoulders and putting pressure on my lower back. That was really significant, particularly for a flat ride. So again my strength felt greatly improved. I think I can get even faster on my bike. If I can get that up to an 18 minute mph avg. That would take another 13 minutes off my total time – that would be huge and something to work toward for next year. I’m thinking a 1:15 on a flat bike course would be a great goal. I was passing a lot of people on the bike, but all the gals with the serious tri outfits and serious tri bikes were passing me.

I took 1 minute off of my T2 (transition from bike to run) which actually should have been even less. A 3:14 is kind of long. A 2 minute transition is ideal there. I believe that’s what I did in Westchester. Transition time counts from the moment you enter the transition area til the time you exit.

On the run I dropped 8 minutes. I’m attributed that to the incredible weather. I didn’t feel much faster on the run. I took my splits and I started with a 12 minute mile and kept getting slower and slower until the end. Total time was 83:37 (91:51). I really want to get to a solid 66 minutes or better on the run. That may take another year to do. I felt slow but I had no lower back pain and not so much as a snap, crackle or pop from either of my knees. That in itself is the huge news about the race. That in itself is a miracle. It makes up for all of the disappointment about not being able to do the MORE and it makes up for the airport and the bike being missing. The fact that my legs not only held up pain free, but they knocked all of that time off of my race, makes me so happy.

My friend Melissa was a champ. She was there every minute cheering for me along the route. When I got to the run she kept running ahead (she runs VERY fast) and waited for me. She would cheer for me and then disappear. A mile or two later there she was again (still don’t know how she did that) but it helped a lot. It was great having someone there for support. I don’t know how much I would want to do this alone.

A lot of people were here from last year that were great and they were all congratulating me too. Scott Willet, head coach of TNT, saw me coming and shouted “way to go Connie” and took my hand for a few feet to run with me. I said “Scott, I can’t believe it, I’m going to break 4 hours.” He said “well, of course you are!! Now fast feet are happy feet, start pumping your arms and go, go, go.” I started pumping my arms and thought “dang, why didn’t I remember that before?!?!?!”

(This is me coming round the bend into the finish. Don’t know who the girl is in front of me, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t over take her.)

Melissa was there when I crossed the finish line. She looked all teary. She knows how much I wanted to break 4 hours. At the 4 mile marker I saw her and said, “Melissa, I’m at 3:07! 3:07!” I didn’t want to believe my watch though. I was thinking I have 53 minutes to do 2 miles to break 4 hours? I just can’t believe it. How did this happen? When did it happen? Who am I? What’s going on.

A handful of my friends who are really fast caught up to me on the run which is not unusual. The good part was I kept the average athletes at bay. There were a few key people that I wanted to make sure did not pass me and I was successful.

I feel good, I feel proud that I’ve worked hard and have seen some results. But, like the diet I feel like I have a long way to go. People were noticing how much weight I have lost, but when I look at the pictures I see how far I have to go. (I didn’t have to courage to post some of the hideous pictures.) Let’s just say I see LOTS of room for improvement. But losing 28 pounds and dropping 28 minutes over my results from Westchester leads to me wonder how far can I take this? If I lose another 30 pounds can I take another 30 minutes off? Is it possible that someday I might be able to break the 3 hour mark? Not this year and probably not next year either, but 2007, why not? Who knows, maybe I’ll be 50 years old and going to Kona, wouldn’t that be cool?!?!?!

For right now I have a couple of immediate goals. I am going to Memphis on May 22nd. This is the race I have been training for. I am not anticipating getting this same great result because 1) the course is not flat and 2) it is going to be HOT!!! Connie + Heat = slow….. But I am going to shoot for a 3:50 or better. I am not going to kid myself that I will get these ideal conditions again. Then I’ll have two months to prepare for New York City and I want to see a 3:45 or better there.

I am happy to bid good riddance to my 28 pounds and 28 minutes forever, but I realize they are both looking for a way back in. My job is to make sure they stay far, far away. I know I have a lot of work ahead of me. It’s great to have everyone acknowledge my weight loss, but really I have a lot more to lose. Only now that I am getting stronger and seeing my results to I realize the potential I have to get stronger, fitter and faster.

I would like to send a big shout of of thanks to my WW group, My trainer Rhonda, my p.t. Cynthia, and all my friends who give me ongoing support and encouragement. This result was not just a personal result — it was a result of a larger group effort. I seriously could not have done it alone and I am very appreciative.

Food has been a disaster this weekend. Lots of celebratory drinks and lots of extra points here and there. I have made a strong attempt order healthy foods as much as possible and I’m sure it is not as bad as I think, but we’ll see on Friday when I return to Weight Watchers and the “Real World.” But for right now I feel optimistic, empowered, grateful and inspired to kick butt this summer.

Can you believe it? I can’t believe it. I think I did good.


T-Shirt worn by a lot of triathletes at St. Anthony’s: “If you don’t want to run with the big dogs, sit on the porch and don’t bark”


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4/24/2005 St. Anthony’s Race Day (198)

No entry for today — too busy racing. Great, great weather……

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