coeur d'annee

Coeur d'Annee: showing the world 'ANNEEthingispossible'

0 notes

I did my first triathlon in 2008 because a close & long time friend told me I had to. It was 1 week after completing my 3,000+ cross country bicycle ride, needless to say my muscle fibers were aching & by aching I mean looking for yet another something to keep them busy!

During that first triathlon I vividly remember passing several women riding bikes in the $5,000-$10,000 range, whilst manning my 35lb Cannondale touring bike with the children’s pink rubber horn still attached.

Love at first race? Pretty much. And as life and fate would have it, that friend who made me race said first triathlon is now my fiancé. We have one of life’s most beautiful gifts in our relationship: the shared love for sport.

Love, obsession, sport, passion. Aren’t they all the same dynamic anyway? Two athletes driving one another to our goals, pushing one another to reach that next level of success, building our big dreams of elite level fitness, together. Simply put, its always so much easier to get up at 5:30am for your workout when the warm skin laying next to you is getting up too.

 He was a competitive collegiate swimmer, and now a swim coach of 15 years. I was a mildly committed childhood swimmer who used to get out of practice 15 minutes early so that I could get that one shower in the locker room that was really warm. In college I swam on and off, rarely early morning workouts, and mostly just to get the cool furry swimmers jacket with the college logo on it.

The love of my life, Mr. Anthony Madonna, goes to Crossfit at our rad gym (yeah CFCOA!) regularly for 4 workouts a week, sometimes 6. I attend 1 endurance based long Crossfit session per week, and 2 yoga classes. It’s a interesting dynamic to observe the differences in our training as we both seek the 140.6 distance, for different reasons and in such different ways.

His training is simple, regimented, without incident. My training is so far beyond complex and I could write for days about it (and that I have!) Conquering the difficulties of Fibromyalgia, the condition I live with daily, is far from so far from easy it may as well be 140.6 miles from it. Understanding my limits in the process of heavy endurance training has consumed me, and us, together, in a manner of exploration, creativity, and really good problem-solving. In a way this process has challenged us to think alternative, outside the box. It has brought us so incredibly close, and it has brought us to tears so many times, together.

Anthony never has the kind of mornings where his whole body says no and he has to skip the workouts he planned for the day in trade for ice baths & massages & stretching. I never have the kind of weeks he has where everything goes according to plan. And he’s jealous because he never has reason to get 6 hours of sports massage a week. And I’m always jealous because some weeks I wish I could do 6 days of Crossfit.His training plan is: next to flawless, my training plan: extremely flexible. :-)

Last year I said to him, I’m doing two effing Ironman’s in a 3.5 month period… next year, its your turn to do ONE. As a natural coach he embraced that special role with me all of last year through my training. The cheerleader, the dietician, the cook, the masseuse, the encouragement, the shoulder to cry on. It was so meaningful to share the process with him in all of those ways, even on the days when nothing in my body worked and compression gear & Ibuprofen was all I could muster.

And now I’m taking that role with him as he passes the 100 day mark leading up to his first Ironman in Coeur d’Alene Idaho. Its easy to coach him… in all reality that’s a actually a extra large understatement! Its amazing to watch what his body can do, without the throws of the things I contend with. His body just gets up and keeps on going, every day, before the sun rises, no matter what he throws at it. And the wonderful part is that his success in this process is our success. Just like my success in crossing that finish line in Kona last year was our success.

And isn’t that just the perfect outline for the simple beauty of life? Different ways of reaching to success? It doesn’t matter how one achieves their personal form of greatness. It doesn’t matter what steps one has to take to achieve their wildest dreams. For some those roads are that really smooth brand new black pavement, for others the potholes and cracks seem to come relentlessly. In the end the achievement is the dream come true. The struggles are the achievement. The process is where the strength and character and wisdom grow from.

Anthony and I have a little joke amongst ourselves Because if you can’t laugh at life, and all of its difficulties… well then its going to taste like something terrible for a really long time. We say that my training is so shitty sometimes, excuse the French, that I literally go into my races so prepared to battle endless amounts of shit, that nothing can stop me. When everything hits the fan during the last 4 hours of my race in Kona and my stomach looses circulation because I’m severely dehydrated, I just keep on keeping on, because I’m so used to the difficulties of pushing through anything. That’s my life story on a daily basis as a endurance athlete with Fibromyalgia. I know what to do when things go wrong, because their usually always going wrong! Him on the other hand, we like to say that he has all these really regimented training days, where he suffers and pushes and recovers and the does it again and again. It’s never easy for him, that’s not the gist here. Training for a Ironman is nothing even remotely close to easy. However when shit hits the fan for him, he isn’t quite as well equipped to push through incredible, all-consuming amounts of pain as I am. It is said that all men have a substantially lower pain threshold compared to women. We like to say that endurance athletes battling with issues such as what I have, they are a whole different breed.

Grit. That’s the one thing that gets a person past the last step of that marathon in a Ironman. It’s really not about the miles you put in to train. Or the flawless nutrition plan you spent months perfecting that goes out the door when the top of your water bottle isn’t screwed on tight enough. Long distance sports are about the mind. The mental control you have taught yourself to exercise, while exercising. Calming the thoughts, focusing the breathing, positively reinforcing every step of that 26.2 mile run and every pedal stroke of that 112 mile bike ride. Ironman is about listening to your body and yet in the same right & at the same exact time Ironman is about turning off those signals of fatigue and pain and ‘I can’t do another step’. And perhaps athletes such as myself, those working to conquer things that attempt to hold us back, perhaps we are a little too good at going when the going gets tough. As evidenced by my experience in Kona last October… oops, a little visit to the ICU!

On Wednesday before Kona Ironman, it was our two year anniversary. I had arranged with Argon 18 to bring a bicycle for Anthony to ride. We set out on the Queen K together, every triathlete power couples dream. It was crowded with world class Ironmen from every country you could imagine. When we got to the turn around point in our 1hour ride, and we stopped for a minute to take it all in. The sun was beautiful and spicy, lava fields crowded us on either side of the road. The air smelled like love and the ocean. I asked this boy to marry me on that day. I wanted to beat him to the punch and steal his thunder because I knew he was going to ask me very soon. There we were in Hawaii, living our dream, celebrating where we had brought each other. We were laughing together on that infamous road about remembering that exact moment 50 years from now.

And as lucky as I am to have this beautiful “Greek god” of a man, (as my best friend says in her sexy French accent). And as lucky as he is to have me. And as lucky as we both are to have our health, a beautiful set of Argon bikes worth more than our cars, and a love for cooking lots and lots of sweet potatoes. 

 

This boy and I, we are team ready to take it all on, the good, the bad, and often the really ugly and really sweaty. Give us a 100 mile bike ride we can’t do, laughing and pushing a flirtatious speed as we switch off pulling to break the wind. Give us a run in the miniature mountains of Griffith park and the trails behind the HOLLYWOOD sign, up and down, hundreds of vertical feet of climbing. Give us a descent down the steep roads in Malibu that we can’t speed down way too fast to feel the wind and the rush and the ocean air. Sharing the processes of challenge, grit, and the Iron will to overcome. As we conquer our individual dreams of athleticism, together. That is the true love in triathlon.

1 note

It’s been just over 4 months since my Ironman race in Kona.

I bring things up sometimes, things about the trip and colorful, quick memoires that come to me randomly

            And my sister has a sassy, loud way of saying (so everyone in close vicinity can hear,)  “Annee, IRONMAN IS OVER!”

            And we both break out laughing till one of us snorts.

 

In total honesty,

thus far my narrative of Kona has been mostly unspoken.

And by unspoken I mean generally, completely, totally unaddressed.

It all just happened…

 

            the summer full of incredibly intense training while working full time, the broken hand, doing the race despite the broken hand, so many wonderful friends coming to share the experience with me, the sponsors & companies & product I was given, the helicopters with cameras filming me, the motorcycles with cameras filming me, the dehydration and the beautiful moments during the race that made me cry the happiest of tears.

All those things happened.

And 12 of us wore neon underwear in the 2012 Kona undy run.

We brought BurningMAN to IronMAN!!!

And for that public display of amazing neon, we were exploited by every triathlon magazine and web blog under the sun with endless photo posts.

“No more photos!!!” our token gay friend shouted at the numerous cameras,

 as he fixed his double-decker two-story neon pink beehive to stand up straight.

 

And yet, even knowing those things happened doesn’t mean I’ve understood that they happened.

Being rushed off to the ICU just 2 hours after the race finished.

Representing the hundreds of women and men who have come to me to share their very own deeply personal stories of abuse.

Running those gut wrenching & extremely painful 26.2 miles of that effing marathon thinking of all the hurdles and roadblocks in my life I had overcome.

If I trained for this race with a broken hand, I could run this little marathon with some “stomach cramps”

as I kept trying to convince myself they were.

Racing down those wet roads in the rain clocking over 40mph

Riding the sexiest bicycle of my wildest dreams

Wet hot rain stinging against my skin as those crosswinds swept by

On that bike ride in Kona, I cried a handful of tears as my fancy full carbon wheels turned atop those black lava roads

And the realization that I wasn’t just at this race as another athlete, I was here as a representation of standing for something bigger than just sports.

I was racing these 140.6 miles as a symbol of triumph over tragedy

I was alive because of the sport of triathlon, to put it simply.

And boy was I alive for the entire 11hours and 54 minutes of that race.

 

For me that moment I crossed that finish line, those moments throughout that really long day were in fact quite a collection of epic & life changing realizations:

1)   I’m one of those type-A nutcases who lives, breathes, and eats everything ironman

2)   I’m riding a bicycle with a gold chain and its worth more than my car

3)   That was Macca I just saw on the opposite side of the road, racing on the same Ironman bike course I’m on

4)   The energy lab is the worst place I’ve ever been on the planet, aside from Las Vegas in the day time, and some slums I stayed in my first night in India.

5)   I’m pretty much living my wildest dream right now.

6)   I’m pretty much living my wildest dream right now.

7)   Doing the things we are the most afraid of in the whole world, will in fact, open up an entirely new world inside each and ever one of us.

8)   Pink afro… anyone???

 

It’s been just over 4 months since my Ironman race in Kona.

Life has found a way of taking over on my ability to sit down and process that crazy adventure called Kona.

In many ways I’ve made life this (very busy) way since that race day in October

In a small sneaky effort to… move on?

            Because when I even slightly allow myself to think about it

            I come to believe I’m the crazy lady in the nursing home, making up the wildest story she possibly could to tell her friends.

            Life couldn’t have possibly been more perfect then it was on that day.

In so many ways, more ways then any blog post could describe, that day was a pinnacle in my life

Reaching that place you’ve been looking for, for as many years as you can even remember, and now being at 29 years old, riding your heart out on a bike with a gold chain…

            Life fricking rocks.

            Oh, and it really is true that anything is possible.

 

#anneezingly yours

0 notes

I was asked to answer these questions for a media publication doing a story on me for Kona Ironman. After answering them, I thought it fitting to share not only with the world via said media publication, but also the friends, family, coworkers and strangers (all of you!) who have supported me in this long road to Hawaii. Thank you, I can’t say it enough.

What inspired you to start training for an Ironman?

When I was a young girl I saw the Hawaii Ironman on television. I told my mother and father, both of whom are also athletic and very adventurous, that I would race a Ironman before I was 30 years old. “Of course you will!,” they said to me as they often did with my very grandiose dreams, most of which only got bigger as I traded in childhood for adolescence and then for adulthood. I signed up for my first Ironman in Coeur d’Alene Idaho in the summer of 2011, and completed it this past June within 17 minutes of my goal time of 12 hours. I turn 30 next year, and not only did I complete my first Ironman already, I’m racing my second Ironman this year at the Hawaii Ironman World Championships on October 13th!

I found out five days before Ironman Coeur d’Alene that I would also be competing in the Hawaii Ironman. Imagine what it feels like to start your first 140.6 mile race knowing full well you’ve been selected to compete in the “Olympics of Ironman” in less than four months. The selection process for Hawaii Ironman race boils down to qualifying at a Ironman sanctioned event during 2011-2012 by winning or placing very high your age group, depending on various factors unique to each race event. Not just any athlete can compete, as is the case with any other Ironman. I was approximately 20 minutes away from the Hawaii qualification slot at Ironman in Coeur d’Alene, however, I’m on my way to Hawaii to race anyway. How so? Well, I opened up in publicly in March of this year to tell my very personal story of what brought me to triathlon. I entered the Ironman ‘Kona Inspired’ video competition wherein I submitted a 90 second video detailing my story as a survivor of sexual abuse as a child. (see video here: http://bit.ly/NX98A3) I received over 250,000 views on this video in the 2 week semifinalist round, and earned myself a race slot in Hawaii.

I was sexually abused by a family friend when I was in 3rd and 4th grade. He was a father and a well respected emergency room physician in our small town of Davis, Ca. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child, and let me add that it takes a gigantic village to raise a young girl fighting to understand the after effects of sexual abuse. My family, parents, and friends pulled together to get me a scholarship on the Davis swim team. My mom didn’t think just swimming for a hour and a half five days a week was enough, so she had me bicycle to and from school, and the swim team, everyday. My parents funneled me into all sorts of athletic pursuits in an effort to help me regain the strength and power every woman, and young child, feels is lost after living through abuse. I used these sports as my therapy as I came into adolescence. I lived through many dark and very difficult years, still hanging onto athletics as a small piece of my salvation. As I began to grow into a adult and moved off to college, I traded in my weekly psychologist visits for training for marathons. I stopped the antidepressant drugs that carried me through my teenage years, and instead started open water ocean swimming. My sport became my therapy and I moved to a place wherein I could begin to help others through my college studies in nursing. I continued to swim, bike and run during college. Between undergraduate and graduate school, I bicycled across America self-supported for three months in a journey of adventure seeking self-exploration. Upon my return I joined the triathlon team at UCLA while studying for my masters in nursing. Today I am 29, and a critical care nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at UCLA. I have competed over 40 triathlons since my first event in 2008, and now I’m on my way to race my second Ironman this year.

What has been the hardest aspect of your training?

As a survivor of sexual assault, I have battled throughout my life with the complicated effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I have a chronic pain condition associated with PTSD, called fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is defined as “syndrome in which a person has long-term body-wide pain and tenderness in the joints, muscles, tendons and other soft tissues.” It is also linked to fatigue, sleep problems, and headaches. To keep it simple, everything hurts when you wake up in the morning, and pain can be relieved by exercise to some extent. Managing training for a Ironman distance event with Fibromyalgia has required many lifestyle and diet adaptations, deep tissue massages every week, and countless hours of stretching and muscle work on my part, on top of the regular training required for swimming, biking and running. Over the course of the past week, I have had seven hours of deep tissue and focused trigger point massage, just to give an idea of what my life is like right now. This Ironman journey has been a learning process for me to explore the limits of my body, and incorporate those limits into the high-intensity and long hours of my training regimen.

I have had to adapt and fine tune my training with the help of my Coach, Gareth Thomas based out of Los Angeles. I do a majority of training (up to 20 hours a week) on the bike, and only run up to 15miles at a time because of the effects the impact of running has on my body. I use swimming as a stretching and loosening of my body before and after long 4-6 hour training sessions of bike to run. I also participate in Crossfit, and have learned in conjunction with my physical therapist who I see weekly, how to manage the demands of Crossfit training with the limits of my body. Some days I wake up and I can’t do any exercise at all, and my weekly training plan gets reworked. On other days the massage, physical therapy, stretching, yoga, meditation and breath work I do to manage my pain all come together and I can race through a 95 mile bike and run workout feeling like a rock star. Just like life, its all a crap shoot in the end. Endurance training has its difficulties for anyone, and mine simply happens to require a whole lot of other elements stacked on top of the usual routine.

The sense of accomplishment one feels when having completed an Ironman is, well, nothing short of incredible. For me what I do on race day is called meditation, swimming and cycling and running just become a 12 hour long blur and instead my focus is on breath, muscular control, calmness, and centeredness. Crossing the finish line in Coeur d’Alene this past June after 140.6 miles of meditation was a moment in my life I had dreamed of since I was a young child and saw the Ironman television broadcast. It represented so much more than a year of training and all the things I had given up to fit said training into my life as a full time nurse. It stood for the strength and spirit I had regained after surviving the events of my childhood. To me, that day in Idaho, and this upcoming day in Kona, Hawaii, these days represent all of the days that I lived through as a teenager when I didn’t know if I could live any more. Now, I have found my strength, I can control it, and I can harness it and use it to empower other women with similar stories to reach for their own dreams of impossible.

What tips can you share with women readers who are interested in doing an Ironman?

Swim, bike and run are just small pieces of Ironman distance training. They work together with overall wellness, diet, emotional health, and stretching to encompass training for a 140.6 mile race. I always tell all of my friends and coworkers, some of whom are training for their first 5k and others who are heading off to do a marathon, nutrition is the biggest part of any training plan. I eat a diet of zero refined sugars, gluten free, no processed foods, and no dairy, in my everyday life and while I’m racing. I shop the perimeter of the grocery store and only go down the isles when I need toothpaste. Diet is a huge part of developing your body to its fullest potential, and we all can learn about what nutrition our unique bodies work best with. After a long workout, I eat sweet potatoes for carbohydrates and fish for protein. I keep my body from producing lactic acid, the byproduct of muscle metabolism, by eating hoards of raw vegetables to keep my pH alkaline. I eat fruit and nuts and some meats, and thats about it. I recover faster from 100 mile bike rides, often with the ability to wake up the next day and do two or three other workouts because of my dietary choices. In planning your Ironman, read into the benefits of a “real foods only” diet. In the same right, don’t forget the things that you love, whether its barre method, yoga, volleyball or your moms home made pineapple upside-down cake. Make it a priority to keep those elements in your life while training for your first Ironman, because its going to be a long year of training if you’re not incorporating the things that keep you smiling.

0 notes

The Big Dance

One of the companies helping me put together my bike for Kona ended an email to me with the closing line, “looking forward to seeing you in ‘The Big Dance’ ”

I wonder if he knows how much I love to dance.

Maybe it was just a lucky guess?

To think of those 140 miles of swimming strokes, pedal circles, and running legs as a dance…its simply perfect.

I know I’ve never worn a dress to a dance that cost as much money as the crazy bicycle I’m riding for this said dance.

And I’ve definitely never danced for 12 hours & 140 miles, although I like to brag I may have come close.

This dance is about the mind over the legs

It’s about the ability to move past the physical and into the core of the very simple, basic, human elements of strength.

Although it may seem fairly complicated, it’s actually a easy dance of breath, once the concept is grasped.

It’s very elementary as long as the calmness conquers the nervousness.

This two-step is about the heart, more than any other dance I’ve ever done.

The strength inside of these delicate, orchestrated steps is unimaginable until that day comes.

It’s a dance of pace, rhythm and timing.

A dance that doesn’t begin until mile 17 of the run, as I have come to say often.

These words of wisdom were passed onto me from a fellow triathlete racing semi-pro times in numerous Ironman events.

He was clearly a pretty good dancer.

My feet will tiptoe on the fine line between just enough and pushing myself, all day long.

My fingers will grasp the salt water and then they will pull my fancy break levers, albeit slightly less of these movements will come from the 4 healing fingers of my left hand.

My toes will crush into the black pavement, who can guess how many toenails I’ll loose?

I’ll dig deep and smile and breathe, making sure to enjoy every tiny piece of one of the most meaningful dances of my lifetime.

0 notes

just another friday in the summer heat of Los Angeles: spending 7 hours of my day on the stationary bike trainer. dear lord, many say to me, what is that like and how in the world can you manage to do that for so long??? to be frank, it feels like taking oneself out of ones body, eliminating feeling and memory and monotony and the smell of boring mixed with sunscreen and sweat. it is the ultimate exercise in meditation. more difficult than any meditation practice or class i’ve ever done, for many reasons.

breath awareness melds my peddle strokes together, they becomes a rhythm unbreakable by anything other than the urge to urinate. then its time to excuse myself to the loo. i do have quite a transient audience of hummingbirds, bees and curious cats. although urination occurs in a much different way for me during my ironman races, when i’m on my bike trainer i actually do unclip my shoes and pretend to be a lady.

all sense of time is lost, with a little help from my headphones of course. electro, techno, disco, drum & bass, anything to transport me to a dance floor near you. i watch my heart rate on my fancy GPS watch to keep myself at “ironman pace” for the entire 7 hours of cycling. this is a heart race within a narrow range of 9 beats per minute for which i stay in for my entire 112 mile ironman bicycle course. remaining in this narrow range will keep my muscles from producing lactic acid, thereby preventing muscle fatigue, allowing me to enter the marathon portion of the race with fuel to kick serious ironwoman arse.

i don’t even have to look at the heart rate number anymore on said GPS watch to know if i’m in the correct “zone” during my biking. i feel it in my legs, in my blood, in the opening and closing of my chest. i can tell instantly when i’m 1-2 beats per minute outside of my specific range. that is what diligence in training will do to an athlete. hundreds and hundreds of hours have guided me to understand the pumping of my heart with a familiarity that feels the way it feels to be alive, and more. knowing the limits of every single muscle fiber in my body, harnessing the capacity of my lungs most efficiently to the smallest change in inhale:exhale ratio, using my breath to calm every tiny red blood cell. the exactness of those things is called really, really hard work.

understanding the power of my mind to control feelings, and categorize perception of those feelings into positive thoughts, that is what i do when i’m on my bike for 7 hours in the garden. i seek to bypass time. when i open my eyes, i can always tell how far i am into my ride because of the number of empty water bottles laying on the ground. one bottle per hour. filled with my all-liquid nutrition plan of custom designed electrolytes and short & long chain glucose polymers. this nutrition plan is no accident, as it may appear from the pile of multi colored plastic bottles strewn around my bicycle. in fact, i have very scientifically perfected my nutrition to suit my exact caloric needs throughout the last 15 months of my ironwoman preparation. a masters degree in science put to good use right here. i would go so far as to say proper nutrition is more important in the scheme of a 140.6 mile ironman than swim training. it is the heart of the race, in the very essence of each mile. a successful nutrition plan is the only way any human can successfully finish this kind of race while performing their best and having a blast while doing it. one bottle per hour. one bottle per hour. one bottle per hour. today, it was this mantra, times seven.

if i can escape the monotony of this training session, one that i do weekly now in place of my 120 mile bike rides (hurry up and heal, darn left hand), i believe i can similarly escape the difficulties presented by the heat and humidity of hawaii. here i come Kona. sans headphones blaring techno, sans colorful pile of water bottles, sans sitting in my garden baking in the heat all day like a piece of toast. bring it.

0 notes

Some training days I can’t tell the difference between my sweat and my tears. It feels like those are the days when I’m really training for an Ironman.

There are often those days now, of riding my bike trainer in my house for up to 6.5hours at a time with a broken left hand, when my sweat & my tears become one in the same. Wet, salty & a little bit hotter than my body temperature. They roll off my nose and land on the top tube of my bike. Let me also preface, we don’t own an air conditioner and it’s summertime in Los Angeles. The drops hang on my eyelashes, my forehead, the grooves of my stomach. They do their thing, dripping down onto the floor making a puddle on the blue yoga mat beneath my bike. The puddle starts extra small at hour 1 of indoor cycling, grows medium by about hour 2.5, then gets large and eventually takes XXL form by the 6.5 hour mark of my “112 mile bicycle ride” today.

Can’t stray from the training schedule for Kona just because I have no use of my left hand. I put the yoga mat under my bike trainer to catch this monster pool of sweat, goes without saying it does an equally good job of collecting all those mixed in tears. In the end, its the days like today that make me a endurance athlete, when pain and exhaustion and all the things I’ve given up to train at this level blur together beneath my bike.

               

Anthony says it’s good that we’re renting the apartment that way we don’t have to account for the sweat/tear damage on the old wood floors. That blue yoga mat doesn’t catch everything, after all. I’m not quite sure I’m a fan of this mat though, because blue doesn’t match perfectly with the team colors of my Argon bike. 
Pain is a funny thing when you’re training for a 140.6 mile triathlon. I’ve reached a point where I’ve trained my body to understand pain as an emotion rather than a physical sensation. When I feel the emotion of pain I take a Buddhist perspective, understanding via my breath, that this emotion is controllable. And grasping control over this emotion helps me understand the movable boundaries of my limits. To say that pain is physical allows the limits of that hurt to be placed upon ones activity.
Friends have asked me consistently if it hurts to train with my broken hand. I always have a hard time answering that question. The way my legs felt at mile 18 of the marathon in my Coeur d’Alene Ironman this past June, thats pain. And having experienced that, conquered it, and continued to find joy in my suffering during the last hour of that Ironman, brings me a new perspective on “this hurts”. These broken fingers on my left hand don’t feel incredible after 6.5 hours on my indoor bike trainer, but they are a contained, controlled pain that I know will dissipate with each day as they heal. 
I think people who have experienced suffering and wisdom inherent with true, deep, emotional pain are able to desensitize themselves to other kinds of pain. People also often ask me how much it hurt when I did my first Ironman. It was one of the most poignant and incredible feelings of self triumph, and the invisible emotional ability within myself to overcome. Very little on the day of the race was physical, because it was by that point I had achieved and fine tuned my ability to move past suffering, to perfectly focus my mind, allowing me to escape my physical.  
The overwhelming sense of emotion I felt throughout the day was a fuel I did not anticipate. My first Ironman brought together so many elements of challenges throughout my life, into a single 12 hour day where I could prove (to no one but myself) that I could reach my impossible.  And this “impossible” wasn’t about going 140.6 miles within my 12 hour goal, rather it was about all of the days throughout my life when my sweat and my tears were one in the same. Yes some of those days were riding my bike trainer on the ugly blue yoga mat, and some of those days were swimming in the blue ocean by myself thinking, ‘what’s swimming down there underneath me right now?’
But the majority of those days when the salt of my sweat and the warmth of my tears were the same, those where the days when suffering and emotional pain doesn’t come from training for a triathlon. Days when your heart hurts so bad you can’t get up off the couch, and days when depression keeps you in bed longer than you expected, and days when your trying to change the world but you realize you have to help yourself a little bit too, and days when you go to the pool and instead if swimming, you sit at the edge of the pool and all you can do is think. I’ve always told myself since I was a 4th grade girl on the Davis swim team, sometimes it’s the days when you don’t have it in you to swim, and you dip your feet in the pool water and you exercise just your toes that you learn the most about yourself. 
And, with no left hand to use for swimming for the next 4 weeks (at least), I’m going to be having a lot of those days leading up to Kona Ironman. And perhaps I’ll learn quite a bit from the calmness of wiggling my toes. 

0 notes

Send Me Race Kona Ironman World Championships! (click here to donate)

My Story:

Help send me to race the Hawaii Ironman World Championships this October! As many of you know, I was in a car accident on August 18th. Injuring my left hand via the airbag I broke multiple fingers, suffered several dislocations, and incurred extensive soft tissue injury. I have continued my full load of Kona training (with modified indoor cycling, crossfit, & running). I will be unable to swim until race day, and even then with braces on some of my finger(s). As a nurse, I’m unable work with just use of one hand, until at least October. Any help you can give to make this trip financially possible for me, I appreciate from the bottom of my heart. I can keep up my end with my countless hours of daily training, but I will need financial help to pay for travel, shipping of gear, housing, car, insurance, and race expenses. All of these things I have been saving for over many months, however with the financial impact of this injury I do not have enough funds to cover everything I need to make this race happen. 

My Platform:

I am traveling to Kona for my second 140.6 mile Ironman triathlon. I’m using my national media attention as an NBC ‘Kona Inspired” athlete as a platform to highlight the work of a Non-Profit Organization near and dear to my heart: “Girls On The Run” (www.girlsontherun.com).

I believe I can change every young womans participation in athletics as a source of overall health, awareness and self-empowerment. I’m working to increase media attention for GOTR’s amazing non-profit, promoting for them through newspaper, electronic media, and through many of the sports companies supporting my Kona journey. GOTR is providing me with a platform to continue to share my personal story of overcoming sexual abuse, inspiring young women around the United States to empower themselves through sports. 

My Work:

In September I will begin working with inner city elementary school children in Los Angeles to share my story, educate them on issues related to sexual abuse awareness, and recruit for participation GOTR’s programs. My speaking at these schools will inspire young children, opening their eyes to participation in runnning, aiding them to begin their own journeys to ‘do the impossible’.

0 notes

I like to call this one: ‘Mermaids can ride bicycles too.’ Sometimes I pretend I’m in a wind tunnel, when really I’m just in a photo studio. Perhaps one day I will peddle my Argon in a wind tunnel. Any offers? :-)

I like to call this one: ‘Mermaids can ride bicycles too.’ Sometimes I pretend I’m in a wind tunnel, when really I’m just in a photo studio. Perhaps one day I will peddle my Argon in a wind tunnel. Any offers? :-)

0 notes

heroes aren’t built in the final act, they are built in the struggle of the plot

In taking a step to speak in detail about my Ironman training via blogging, this quote sits as a collection of words very appropriate for illustrating my daily life as a multi sport athlete.

So, how exactly does one bear parts of their private self via public electronic media forums such as this blog? I guess I’ll cut the chase and get right to the meat. Earlier this year I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I was three months into the heaviest part of my training for Ironman Coeur d’Alene when the diagnosis was given, one of the most complicated and frightening diagnoses I could ever hear as both a athlete & a nurse. The words rolled off of my pain management MD’s tongue and felt as if they stuck to me like a permanent rubber stamp. And despite the shock of this label I knew I had one of the most challenging and physically difficult things I had ever set out to accomplish, my first Ironman, only several months away.

The air in my car on my drive home from that doctors appointment was heavy with introspective thought, many wet tears, and a new deeper level of drive more powerful than any set of diagnostic medical terms. In an abbreviated fashion for this first blog post, I will conclude in saying that I was beyond terrified when I learned of this medical explanation. The word “fibromyalgia” echoed in my thoughts, my continued tears days and weeks later, and even in my breath as I sought to meditate the shock away. The notion that this condition debilitates many people, many of whom are the patients I work with in the Intensive Care Unit day in and day out, left me scared and vulnerable. I have learned much from the deep emotions of vulnerability in my athletic pursuits, but fear has taught me nothing of any worth, so I decided the latter would be left behind at my doorstep.

Seeking to accept my diagnosis over several weeks following the initial shock was a challenge I set out to conquer with voracious drive. Like many of the hardships life has thrown my way, particularly writing to you now as a survivor of child sexual abuse, I knew this setback could serve to strengthen me in ways I beyond initial comprehension. I’ve taught myself how to mold the worst of life into the elements that build character, tenacity, and resilience.

This diagnosis was now a part of me, and I knew it would become perhaps one of the most important parts of me as I sought out to continue preparation for Ironman Coeur d’Alene on June 24th of this year. In so many ways, the word “fibromyalgia” brought together and validated the countless difficulties I have faced in my endurance training over the last 10 years. It gave a silent credit to the hardships I have fought to overcome in my path to define myself as “an athlete”.

For as long as I can remember I have struggled with daily widespread body pain, chronic myofascial tightness and stiffness, difficulty sleeping, consistent pain in the morning relieved by working out, focused trigger point tightness, difficulty digesting many types of processed foods, chronic migraine headaches, and often times also a debilitating depression surrounding all of these setbacks.

And I sit here now, typing words that less than 6 months ago I hadn’t even told my own mother and father, throwing them out for the whole world to read. Similar to my sense of release and freedom in speaking out as a survivor of abuse, I am writing this now to do the same with my battle against fibromyalgia.

Many of my coworkers, friends and relatives have asked me to blog about my triathlon training for a long time. And as this quote speaks so eloquently, the struggles within my thickened plot are many. Yet despite the fact that these struggles are mine and they are very real, they are also very painful. The spectrum of their pain reaches beyond just the physical, it encompasses also the bittersweet, in a manner for which the sweet is still (and always will be) more pungent than the bitter.

I am a woman who has sought out alternative methods of overcoming obstacles throughout my 29 years. I have tackled life’s challenges head on and wrestled them to the ground; I have swam for hours to escape from the world in the silence of underwater clarity, I have run marathons to the sound of my breath and the salt of my sweat because it reminds me I am alive, I have gotten on my bicycle and kept peddling until the paved highway turns into a lonely dirt road, and now I have decided to use these methods of my madness to inspire others via my words.

0 notes

ready, set: swim, bike, run

although i’m partial to the middle of the three sports, i can hang for a good swim and meditate through a long run.