Monday, December 22, 2008

Fundraising in Conjunction with Marathon des Sables

Over the years, I have had the loving support of friends and family as I have done marathons, triathlons, endurance swim races, and even a synchronized swimming class (well, to be fair, I didn't really have any support on that one...I crashed the class as I avoided my Ironman swim work-out and was subsequently asked to leave half-way through when they got to the more advanced moves and it was discovered that I didn't have nose plugs or the talent to go on...but that's another story!). I am so grateful for that has opened up a world to me that I love so much.

In April 2008, I will run the Marathon des Sables (MDS). It's a race in Africa - in the Sahara Desert. The race lasts a week, and each day you cover a different distance...for a total of about 150 miles. The heat will be scorching, the terrain will be challenging, and the backpack I carry with my supplies will weigh me down. But I am super amped for this challenge. I have saved up for a long time to do this and I am trying to put my head down and do the training that it requires.

So, doing MDS is a luxury for sure. I am so grateful for this chance and there's a part of me that considered leaving it at that. But I have had second thoughts and I realize I am ready to commit to this effort alongside a committment to fundraise. To fundraise for a charity that means a lot to me - the Religious Teachers Filippini.

Over the next few months, I want to tell you more and more about this organization. They do AMAZING things for women and children and 100% of the money you donate goes to women and children. By donating, you are supporting a group that selflessly toils each and every day to help women and children in need. And their help often comes in the form of education, something I am very passionate about supporting.

I will have a webpage to accept donations soon, and I hope you might visit the page and make a donation if you can.

Happy Holidays, everyone!!!

ps - Many of you supported me when I trained with the Leukemia & Lymphoma's Team in Training. I VERY much continue to believe in this organization and I pray for the day when a cure for cancer is found. In the meanwhile, keep on supporting the Society...they help support research, AND they help patients cope with the realities of cancer and the bold fight it takes to survive and thrive. TNT - thank you for everything you do!!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Lovin' the Outdoors in December!


I am craving a nap right now but just wanted to send out a quick note of thanks to my friends who I got out with this weekend.


Lisa - thanks for getting out on the bike path with me on Friday. And helping me recover...lesson learned, I can't cheat hydration. Water - and Nuun - will be with me on all my runs this winter.


Dusty- thanks for leading the way through the southern exposure and timing us for a mile, too. Hope the rest of your work-out went well on Saturday. You are going to do amazingly well at Rocky!

Laurie - Once again, you have shown me something new in Jackson. I love Game Creek and can't believe it is your backyard. So gorgeous! Can't wait to hear more about your prep for February. And how about this picture from Desert RATS...I like the way you are laughing as I look like I might cry! :-)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Streak with Me!

Rolling with the crowd I do, I have no shortage of opportunities to convene with individuals who accomplish incredible feats in athletics – people who climb mountains, run hundreds of miles, people who see the outdoors as their playground and who hit recess time with an appetite that is not easily satiated.

Lately, I have found myself consistently drawn to learning more about those in the group who have accomplished (and continue to accomplish) a feat that often goes unsung. That would be the group of people who consistently get out there and do it everyday.

Sure, this practice is not necessarily supported by physicians and athletic coaches. It doesn’t abide by some of the more basic laws that govern peak training. It doesn’t assure that an athlete is taking his recovery seriously. It doesn’t guard her against burn-out. It doesn’t even encourage the chi balance of moderation that we seem to be seeking in everything we do from career advancement to feng shui interior design. But it has caught my interest. And that is enough for me to know I won’t rest easy until I have explored it up close and personal. Which, I suspect, is how I landed in this group in the first place.

So, what gives? Have a look at this Wall Street Journal article: Life Lessons from a Father's 30-Year Running Streak This Harvard doctor runs 2-3 hours each morning!

And he is a card-carrying member of U.S. Running Streak Association, a group that boasts 31 members who have been running daily for 30 years or more, wherein running daily is defined as running “at least one continuous mile a day”. For more information, have a read: A 30-Year Running Streak, Still Going Strong (December 5, 2008)

So, I am accepting a challenge: to streak for one year. The challenge starts today and anything short of running the minimum one mile a day between now and December 7, 2009 will personally be considered a DNF by me. And those are three letters I am looking to avoid like the plague these days.

Why do I take on this challenge?
This is not really my year to ask why. So to answer this (admittedly, rhetorical) question, I steal the words attributed to Prefontaine’s coach Bill Bowerman to his Men of Oregon:

Gentlemen if you can find meaning in the kind of running you have to do to stay on this team...chances are you can find meaning in that other absurd pastime: Life.

And how do I feel about the challenge on day # 1?
In the immortal words of Kirby Kager in St. Elmo’s Fire, “I’m obsessed, thank you very much.”

Stay tuned..and let me know about your own streaking habits!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

How to DNF at an Ironman

Experience I gained at Ironman Arizona, November 2008:

Rule # 1: Don’t reach out to your friends before the race.
Sure, a number of my friends knew I was doing the race, but I found myself apologizing for toeing the start line. I didn’t really want to engage in any type of formal discussion about how I might execute the race and what different scenarios might look like on race day. I know I am ready for a race if I can talk about it with others with relative ease. This was not the case for IMAZ.

Rule # 2: Let your equipment take care of itself.
I got a new bike this summer…from Barb Lindquist. I was excited to have a bike with the ju-ju of Barb. She’s an incredible person and I admire her in so many ways. However, I have learned that just because an Olympian has ridden your bike, it doesn’t mean the bike will push to Olympic speeds without the right manpower and preparation. I didn’t equip the bike with aerobars, which is sheer idiocy on the IMAZ course. In fact, I only saw two other athletes among the field of 2,600+ people without aerobars.

Rule # 3: Leave visualization for another day.
Prior to the race, I failed to envision myself emerging from the lake, getting off the bike and ultimately wrapping myself in tinfoil to the tune of “You are an Ironman”. I am convinced I cannot finish another race until I can rehearse the race and finish in my head before the gun goes off.

Rule # 4: Homework? That was something I did in high school.
I have never been noticed as an adult athlete with a gift for speed or finesse, but on occasion I have been called out for my ability to study a race with fierce dedication. In fact, I have known my physical training to suffer because of this type of research. Sure, my research has been a way to avoid training, but it has also been extremely valuable. It has allowed me to understand a great deal about physiology and to glean important facts about particular races and training techniques. I didn’t do any research before this year’s race.

Rule # 5: Don’t train.
I can come clean here and share that I gained some encouragement from the knowledge of success attained by a group of athletes from my adopted hometown of Driggs that call themselves the ROTC (as in “Right Off the Couch”) group. They ripped it up at the Grand Teton Trail Marathon a few summers ago, claiming to have achieved their success without any training. I secretly wanted to emulate this example, but the truth is that while these guys don’t follow say, Hal Higdon’s marathon training plan, they live at altitude, work jobs that require physical stamina, and in my estimation they are plain, fierce athletes. It was sheer hubris to try to join this club. I will admire them from afar going forward!

Rule # 6: Eat like there’s no tomorrow.
This is a point that I really struggle with as I try to hold on to an identity as an endurance athlete. I recently read Olga’s Blog and saw her come clean about some numbers, including her weight. I am far too vain, and quite frankly embarrassed to own up to my weight at the moment, but I will share that I weighed 30 pounds more for this race versus IMAZ 2007. I recognize this type of weight gain is detrimental to my athletic goals, as well as my general health. Not to mention that it limits my wardrobe! During the race, I couldn’t help but think in terms of this race and the Marathon des Sables. I started to equate the extra weight I am carrying to the idea that I was carrying a pack through the Ironman. Not very motivating thoughts! I am determined to lose this extra weight and improve my health. Pray for me – I need it!

That’s it for my “rules”, but read on if you’re not asleep and are vaguely interested in my triathlon background…

In 2005, I trained for and completed my first Ironman, Ironman Lake Placid. I trained with a NYC based group called TriLife and had access to two incredible coaches, Ross Galitsky and Scott Willett. My official training for this race lasted ten months and was blessed with a number of friendships that endure to this day. I must admit that I experienced a great deal of anxiety during my training, including a persistent concern that I would not complete the biking portion of the race in the allotted time (Ironman race regulations state that all athletes needed to be off their bikes and on the running course no later than 5:30pm – ten and a half hours into the race – to avoid disqualification). Unlike many of my teammates, I did not face my demons out on the race course. Instead, the demons appeared early on and chased me through most of my training that season. Race day was joyous, a smile spreading across my face the minute I realized I would indeed make the bike cut-off time, as well as the run cut-off time – bar any unforeseen injury. My finishing time was 15 hours and 17 minutes and I couldn’t have been happier.

In 2007, I did my second Ironman. By this time, I had moved from Manhattan to Driggs, Idaho – a beautiful ski town in the shadow of the Teton Mountain range. I moved to Driggs to work for a company called Dreamchasers and had the good fortune to study under Lisa and Jay Batchen, both of whom have endurance racing résumés that run long and deep. Their patience and knowledge, as well as my growing commitment to training, made preparation for this second Ironman a wholly new experience. Despite the fact that Lisa has qualified and competed in the Hawaii Ironman numerous times and can claim a marathon personal record of 2 hours and 48 minutes, she patiently trained with me for hours. I was slowly progressing from a goal of completing an Ironman, to competing at an Ironman. I took advantage of the tools – and finally used my bike trainer, a piece of equipment that did little more than cause clutter in my 250 square foot apartment back when I lived in Manhattan. I finished Ironman Arizona in 13 hours and 30 minutes. I was so grateful for the improvement and was excited about attaining a new level of fitness.

But life – or should I say “I” – I somehow got in my own way. Instead of capitalizing on this achievement and gaining momentum, I found myself slacking. Taking it easy. Kicking back.

Trying to snap back into a regular training regimen, I have grasped at a number of ways to get back on the bus. I feel like the best restaurants in town are still making reservations for me…friends keep agreeing to do events with me and train with me…but I keep falling short of showing up to the meal with the attitude that will help me savour it.

Above, I shared with you a bit about a personal experience I recently had at the November 2008 Ironman in Tempe, Arizona. I didn’t finish the race and I am trying to gain insight from this DNF (Did Not Finish). I’m not sure I have the distance or perspective on it all just yet, but I hope some of my observations may help you when you prepare for your next race. I must thank Earl Walton for this idea, as he sent out an outrageously hilarious list following a triathlon where he earned a DNF. I don’t have Earl’s gift for humor, but I thought I’d give it a shot.

Have a great day!


Getting On The Bus

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Spending it in NY with my beautiful niece was so great.

So, this marks my first Blog entry...wasn't sure if blogging was for me and I'm still not, but why could be fun!

Thought I'd devote this space to an opportunity to share some photos and descriptions about my life and adventures. I keep raving about the beauty of I will post photos of the great outdoors and the incredible people I meet along the way.

I am doing a race called Marathon des Sables in late March 2009. I'll write more about it, but for today...I just want to express my gratitude for this opportunity to do a race in Morocco and an extra little wish that my training will grow consistent and strong. 2008 has not been a banner year for me in terms of training, but I am intent on changing that pattern in 2009. Maybe blogging will help!

Speak love to you & yours!


“`There are going to be times,’ says Kesey, `when we can’t wait for somebody. Now you’re either on the bus or off the bus. If you’re on the bus, and you get left behind, then you’ll find it again. If you’re off the bus in the first place–then it won’t make a damn.’ And nobody had to have it spelled out for them. Everything was becoming allegorical, understood by the group mind, and especially this: `You’re either on the bus…or off the bus.” (Wolfe: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test)

So great to see Victoria, Cath & Iwan last night...miss living close to you guys...but looking forward to our summer adventure!

Congrats to Anne Marie, Lisa & Will - you are IRONMEN!!! It was so great to share the weekend with you and watch you guys go the distance! Hope you had lots of turkey and are enjoying your recovery!

My niece trying on her first swim suit. She is very strong and I know she is going to be a little fish!!!