Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Aloha from Oahu!

Aloha from Oahu! We arrived safely on Christmas around 4:00pm local time. We were quite surprised to find out that Waikki Beach is quite the tourist area. Very busy and very Japanese. Most menus are in English and Japanese and there are very few Americans here. Tokyo is not a far flight from Oahu. We have also noticed quite a few people from Australia and France.

It is absolutely gorgeous. I am not sure that I have ever seen such beauty! We are trying to pace ourselves, but being the energetic outdoorsy types that we are, we cannot seem to sit still. We went to Diamond Head, a gigantic crater that was a "45-minute strenuous hike each way". This turned out to be a 12 min 45 second jog for me that felt like a crossfit workout. An Aussie challenged me up 1,000 stairs at the end, and with my HR nearing 180 BPM, I beat him to the top and took off. Just when I thought that I was going to puke and pass out simultaneously I saw this:

Jason and Kellie will start Epicman tomorrow at 7:00 am local time, 12:00 pm EST. The race will consist of a 7.2 mile swim, 336 mile bike, and 78.6 mile run. The race format has changed a couple of times in an effort to get the racers and crew together for the night portions.

The swim will be a 1.4 ish mile loop that they will do 5 times and then go back out for the last section to make it 7.2 miles. It takes place at Ala Moana Beach Park, which is a fantastic venue for the swim. Kayaking is not allowed, so I will be on a stand up paddle board for the majority of the swim, providing nutrition as needed and making sure Jason stays on course as he heads back in (half the loops he will be swimming as the sun rises )

Jason will then leave the park and take off on a very scenic, quite challenging 105-mile ride around the island. We are driving it now and it's breathtaking. I will be driving the loop with the RD Jason Lester to make sure Jason stays on course (roads here are pretty tricky, they all have at least 5 vowels, only 2 consonants and seem to be spelled the same).

Once the 105 mile loop is done, Jason will do a 2.8 mile loop 80 times. This will should start Thursday evening and take us overnight. By now the crews will be together and I will be able to get some sleep.

The final portion of the bike will be a short 7 mile trek back to Ala Moana Beach Park for transition.

The run consists of a 9.2 mile run out of the park. Then 7 9.2 mile loops. The run finishes with a 5 mile run to Kapiolani Park.

I am tired just typing the course out!

I will be doing my best to keep everyone updated on Jason and Kellie via FB and twitter, however, keep in mind that there is a 5-hour time difference and that I will be on a paddleboard for 3 hours at the beginning, and then pacing him for a large chunk of the run.

The amount of courage and preparation required to get to the start line of something like this is so impressive to me. All of these athletes are incredibly talented, tough, and dedicated. I am so excited to be able to participate in something of this magnitude.

There is still time to place you bets for Jason's finish time. All proceeds will go to Humble Heroes. Humble Heroes is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to assisting Police Officers and Firefighters that have been injured in the line of duty or fallen ill. Most people don't realize that many police officers work extra jobs to make ends meet. If they are injured while working, they don't get any extra compensation. Police Officers, Fire Fighters (and teachers!) are some of the most under-paid, under-appreciated people in our communities (APD hasn't given pay raises in over 8 years!!) These are the people that we depend on for safety and protection in times of need. Please try and do your part to help them in their time of need. More information on how you can donate can be found here.

Mahalo nui loa in advance for your makana! (Thank you in advance for your gift!)

Jason, Kellie, Chet the Jet:


May you have a wikiwiki race, enjoy the journey and don't forget to SMILE!

Security is mostly a superstition.
It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.
Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.
Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
- Helen Keller

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Relentless Forward Progress....

When I woke up the morning of my ride I thought that I heard rain. I opened the hotel room door to find palm trees flapping in the wind. Wind is not uncommon in Florida, particularly the beach. I checked the weather to see that there were 15-20 mph winds coming ENE. We loaded up and drove to the bridge that was the Florida/Alabama state line and the starting point of my adventure. It was drizzling and around 65 degrees. I felt oddly calm despite the wind and knowing that I had at least 419 miles of riding ahead of me. I took off and immediately realized that the wind was not a tail wind, but a mixture of a cross and headwind. I also realized that it was humid, and I was overdressed, so after a quick pit stop to lose a layer, I continued. Within the first few miles I was already on the radio asking "when do we turn again?" I was thinking "we are going to keep turning, and then I will get a TAILWIND!"

Thanks Mr. Dolphin, but I've got 20 hours left
It is an on-going joke that mother nature doesn't like me, and sure enough, she was pretty pissed. When I turned onto Hwy 98 I was holding on for dear life. My right lat was already fatigued from leaning into the wind. I radioed in asking how much longer I had before my next turn and Jason replied "about 50 miles" It was totally demoralizing. I was barely able to maintain 15 mph with a HR that was no where close to where I wanted it to be. My mind was thinking nothing but negative thoughts and I was beating myself up every time that I looked down at my bike computer and saw my speed. I was thinking about all the hard work and training I had put into the ride and now it was all a waste. Then I realized that a negative attitude wouldn't help me get anywhere any faster, so I might as well just suck it up and accept the situation for what it was.

I got really tired (like sleepy tired) around mile 110. I wanted caffeine of some sort. Jason said no, that it was too early. I was glad that I listened to him, because the feeling passed rather quickly. That was honestly the only time during the ride that I felt like I needed a nap.

The wind started to steadily die down, and around mile 120 I finally felt like mother nature was happy again. I was surprised how many people were so kind and offered words of support. It was nice to hear people yell out the window "GO DANI GO!" My crew was doing a wonderful job of bringing me bottles and sandwiches. I felt like I was taking in plenty of GU Brew and peanut butter and nutella sandwiches. The gels were not tasting as great as they normally do, so I opted to eat more solid food and drink the GU Brew instead.

Around mile 160 I felt an excruciating pain in my left knee. I had to pull over almost right away. We lasered it with our cold laser, and we also kinesiotaped it (but that didn't last very long because my skin wasn't dry) but the pain was still there. It was swollen, but I felt like I could continue. I am a big believer that things of this nature are about 1/4 physical and 3/4 psychological that you can control how you feel by your thoughts. I tried really hard to focus all my attention on something other than the throbbing pain in my knee. I thought about the people at the retirement facility where I work. How they lived through the great depression, war, so many things that our generation has never really experienced. I thought about how incredibly tough and resilient I think they are. I found strength and comfort thinking about how excited they were for me and this venture.

As night approached I felt energized. I really like riding at night, mostly because I feel like it's the hardest mentally. You have to not only be alert enough to stay awake, but you also have keep yourself entertained because you can't see more than two feet ahead of you.

Knowing that I was approaching Tallahassee was a great feeling, this was the halfway point! I like breaking all my long rides down into segments, and this ride was no different. It wasn't a 420 mile ride, it was 4 105-mile rides! Sounds MUCH easier that way doesn't it?

If anyone tells you that Florida is pancake flat, they have never attempted to ride from the West Coast to the East Coast. It is NOT flat. There are a lot of false flats, and Tallahassee is just down right hilly. Every hill appeared to be at the bottom of a light, which was of course red. The process of unclipping, stopping and re-clipping in to climb a hill was both hard on my knee and a little frustrating. Needless to say, I was happy to see Tallahassee city limits and move on.

Night riding found me having to stop quite a bit. 14+ hours of riding and drinking all day had caught up with me. I felt like I had to go to the bathroom NON STOP. I was still taking in fluids and food quite well and I had starting drinking Red Bull and Coke. My knee pain was pretty persistent and I was trying to stop and ice it once an hour while I used the bathroom.

I must have looked kinda funny, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00am running into random gas stations in full bike gear with an ice pack. One guy even came outside and took pictures. I just kept telling myself, and my crew over and over "RELENTLESS FORWARD PROGRESSION".

Not sure why he was taking pictures of me!
The miles ticked by and Jason and Chuck took turns alternating handing me bottles out the window. I asked Jason to just "talk to me" because it was helping to take my mind off the pain in my knee. He started to read all the facebook comments, and twitter messages, e-mails, and texts. At one point he even added a verse to Bethaney's rap! I was totally overwhelmed at the amount of support that I was receiving. Here I was riding all alone in the middle of the night, through tiny little towns in the middle of no where, yet I never felt alone. At one point Jason was texting our friend Alex and he said that Jill was getting up at 4am to do a "virtual" ride with me. I started crying. The more Jason talked to me, the better I started to feel. I was more than 300 miles into this thing, and was feeling better than I felt at mile 150.

I thought a lot about the journey, and what I had gone through to get to this point. I thought about what an incredible gift it is, to be able to have a body that is willing to endure such pain and keep moving. I thought about how I used to feel when I was 70 pounds overweight and would get winded walking up a flight of stairs. I thought about people who have chronic illnesses and diseases that prevent them from being healthy enough to even walk. Rather than feeling discomfort and pain I couldn't help but to feel like I was pretty lucky to have this opportunity.

120 miles left turned into 100 left, which turned into 75 left, then 50, then 25. Honestly, the last 100 or so miles almost seemed like they were unreal. Had I really been riding this long? Was I really about to be done?

Caution: Bridges become mountains after 400 miles of riding
It started to get really warm, and I began to climb bridges, which meant that I was getting closer to the beach. I needed to stop to pee, but I was SO close, I didn't dare stop. Bridges felt like gap climbs. I was giving it everything I had, but I was still barely moving. When I got into Jacksonville I was SO close I could taste it. My pace started to pick up. I could smell the beach. Jason kept telling me that I was close, but all I saw was stop signs. Millions and millions of stop signs. Then the worst part of the ride happened. We hit a detour, which just happened to be the road that I needed to turn on. I will be totally honest with you, after making a block and ended up back where we started, I totally flipped out. I wasn't very nice. I may have said a lot of bad words. Something along the lines of being a $#%&& rat in a $#&& cornmaze. I could SEE the beach, and I knew that I had to turn right on Atlantic Blvd and unclip, foot touch the sand. But I just couldn't get there. FINALLY, we found it, I was riding as hard as I could, I unclipped and ran to the sand. I was DONE. I thought that I would be really emotional and cry, but really, I just wanted to sit in the ocean and pee. So I did. Then being the show-off that I am, I attempted the longest brick workout ever, and tried to run on the beach. Horrible calf cramp stopped me about 20 feet in.

The home stretch! Such a beautiful area!
Official Elapsed time: 27:54, actual ride time 26:04. I would be lying if I told you that I wasn't disappointed. I wanted to go faster, much faster. But you cannot control the circumstances, you can just make the best with what you've got.

As I am writing this, 10 days after finishing I still don't think that it has quite sunk in. Physically, my body felt really good, almost too good. I went to the doctor to have my knee checked out, it was a pinched hoffa pad most likely caused by lowering my seat too much (lesson, leave bike maintenance to All3 Pros!) That has since subsided and I am able to ride and run without pain. The only thing that is still bothering me is my wrist. I developed De Quervain Syndrome . Yes, I am the only person in the entire world that could ride a bike for 26 hours and have their wrist in a brace. Honestly, it was probably partly due to the wind forcing me to hold on much tighter to my aerobars than normal.

There are few words to truly express how grateful I am to those of you that reached out to me before, during and after my ride. I had over 200 e-mails. Women that I have never met before sent me messages telling how inspirational they thought my performance was to them. I really had no idea that word would spread like it did, and that it would be such a big deal. Really, I am just a girl that rode her bike across a state with an official and timed it! Anyone can do this! It's all mental!

First and foremost, I have to thank my crew, Jason and Chuck, and my official Keith. I appreciate you taking times out of your busy lives and dedicating an entire weekend to helping me achieve my goal. Your support was invaluable and I wouldn't have made it one foot without you! Chuck gave up SEC championship tickets to crew for me, a true friend.

Scootise: I would still be a gym rat taking spin class if it wasn't for you. You have made more of an impact on the Atlanta Triathlon community than any other person I know. Thank you for continuing to encourage people to get involved in this wonderful sport

To my "psychological" crew back home: Slayer, Poonstar and company, Team Ryals, Tat, my All3 Sports Teammates, EC Crew, Dynamo friends, Jill's Rev3 Teammates and everyone else that offered me words of support, THANK YOU! It meant so much to me to know that there were so many people out there that cared so much about me.

My dad: Thanks for making me tough. As a child I hated the discipline, as an adult I am so thankful that you made me follow through with everything I committed to and never let me quit.


Coach Shanks: You came on board late in the game, and never once doubted whether or not I could do this. You are one goofy speedo wearing guy, but you are one of the smartest, most compassionate, and caring coaches I have ever met. I am excited to see where we can take this!

Jason: None of this would be possible without you. You have redefined what is humanly possible through your own athletic achievements. You're the most incredible athlete that I know. You may not always win, but you always finish, and always have a smile on your face. I love this journey that we are on, but even more importantly, I love you!

"Really great people make you feel that you, too, can be great." -Mark Twain

Dreams start off a minor thought in your head. Spoken out loud they receive fuel to grow. The more you nurture it, the brighter the flame gets. You share your dream with people who believe in you, and it spreads like wildfire. Suddenly it's not just your dream. People believe in you, and they want you to succeed, and when you do they are as happy for you as if they achieved it themselves. This is how I feel. I am honored to make so many people so proud of me. Thank you for your support and encouragement.

"How often in life we complete a task that was beyond the capability of the person we were when we started it. ~Robert Braul "

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Where a bike can take you....

These were posted all over work! Love my peeps!

I had a specific reason why I didn't tell my mother about my ride. She found out about it anyways the Friday before we left. She told me that it was a horrible idea, that I was a loser, Jason was a loser, and that we would never amount to anything. One thing that she said really stood out. It was "You've never gotten anywhere or anything from riding that bike and you never will."

I thought a lot about that comment in the middle of the night while I was riding my bike. And I realized that my mother was dead wrong. Here are just a few of the things that I realized:

Without riding a bike I wouldn't have done a triathlon. Triathlon has changed my life, the way I view my body, treat my body, and the earth.

Without riding my bike I never would have been hit by a drunk driver and broken my leg. Although at the time that accident was the most horrific thing that had ever happened to me, it taught me patience and kindness to people who are not able bodied. It made me appreciate life. It also required me to make a total comeback. That was humbling. I am grateful now for everything that experience taught me.

Without riding a bike I wouldn't have some of the most amazing people I have ever known in my life. The people I have encountered through this sport are some of the most talented, generous, funny, gifted people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. My life in better because of you all!

Without riding a bike I never would have done a triathlon, which means I never would have been on the All3 Sports Team. Without being on their team I never would have met Jason. I have never met anyone so perfect for me! It's fate I tell ya!

The more I rode, the more I realized that bike riding is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Instead of being angry over my mothers words, I actually felt sorry for her. Obviously, she needs a bike.

Everyday I work with people who have about 2-10 years left to live. It's sad, but it's the truth. One thing this has taught me is to live the life that YOU want to live. Don't be the person you think someone else wants you to be. I listen to these people talk about regrets, but I never hear them say "I regret doing things that made me happy." My bike makes me happy. No, it will never make me rich. I will never be famous. Yes, I am sure that I miss a lot of things because I am out riding. But bottom line: My bike makes me happy.

"Far better it is to do mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failures, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." -Theodore Roosevelt

Pedal away my friends!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Some final pre-ride thoughts.....

How awesome is this? We will trim it down to go on the back window of the support van!

This Sunday I will begin my 419 mile ride across the state of Florida. I am really excited, not really that nervous yet, but REALLY looking forward to getting to Florida and RIDING FOREVER!

I've chosen not to wear music. My best training has been done with just me thinking to myself. Plus I will have an earpiece in to listen to my crew for directions, so I don't want to miss anything. Lately I have been thinking a lot about the fact that I don't know anyone who has ever tried to ride 419 miles without stopping. I wish I knew someone, anyone, really because I have so many questions. Since I don't know anyone, I have already been thinking about all the things that will run through my head. I have said it before and I will say it again. ANYONE can go slow for a long period of time. It's all mental! And I have been training my brain!

"419 Miles is a long way to go"

Nothing easy is worth having. - my BF Scootsie has been telling me this repeatedly for the last 6 years

"My XYZ hurts"


EAT THAT PAIN! -Clyde Watts

"It's cold."

There is no such thing as bad weather. Only wimpy people.

" I'm tired. Maybe I should stop and rest."

No quit in this body. No quit in this mind. -Jill Poon

"I've got THAT many miles left?"

Suck it up buttercup- Jason Overbaugh

"This sucks."

You can't fake miles. You've got to earn them. -Coach Shanks

As long as I keep my mind right, plenty of food in my belly, and my stops to a minimum I am going to finish in a respectable amount of time. I will be obeying all traffic laws, which will slow me down some.

Thanks for all the well wishes and positive messages I have received already. You guys are awesome! I will be thinking about all of you and the ways that you inspire and encourage me! Jason will be updating you on my progress via my facebook page.

I want to leave you with the following conversation that I had with my peeps yesterday. They were chalk full of new questions and concerns about my ride. I explained to them that I would be back to work Wednesday.

Me: "Don't expect a lot out of me Wednesday. I might be walking with a limp. And I am probably taking the elevators. Don't laugh"

90 year old: "So you are basically saying that you are going to be like we are everyday?"

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Explanation Impossible!

Have you ever told someone something that you are planning on doing, and then realized that they REALLY don't understand at all? That would be me with my bike ride across Florida!

I contemplated whether or not I was going to tell my dad about it. I didn't want him to be upset with me. But we talk EVERY day at 5:00 pm and if he cannot get in touch with me he blows my phone up, so I figured it was best to tell him I would be unavailable to talk. I did my best to explain, but he only halfway listens. Here are a few of our following conversations:

Dad: "I was thinking about your marathon. It won't take that long right? If you are averaging 30 mph...."
Me:"It's a bike ride. And I won't be averaging 30 mph it will be A LOT slower."
Dad: "So more like 10 mph? Hum.....yeah.....that's gonna take a while."

Dad: "What did you do today?"
Me: "Rode 150 miles."
Dad: "Wow! You are really getting ready for that marathon!"
Me: "It's a bike ride Dad."

Dad:"Are you going to workout today?"
Me: "Yep. Swam this morning, now I am going to run and lift weights."
Dad: "Dang! That's a lot of working out. I bet you are going to win your age group in your marathon!"
Me: "There are no age groups. It's a solo record break attempt"
Dad: "Well then you sure sound like you are going to kick Jason's ass!"

Dad: "Hey, how did that thing go last night where you stayed up all night? Was Jason with you?"
Me:"Yes, it went really well. I rode about 211 miles."
Dad: "111 miles? That's great honey!"

Even better than explaining things to dad is telling the people at work. As you know, I work in a retirement community. I LOVE my "old peeps". They live vicariously through my training and adventures. They really and truly love hearing about my races. Everything I do is a "half-marathon" Most of these people are in their 80's and 90's and cannot conceptualize this amount of physical activity. They are very active, but organized racing, especially done by a woman, was totally unheard of when they were young. They ask the funniest questions and think of things that you and I never would. When I told them about Jason's first 100 miler, done in the rain and mud the first thing they said was "How did you keep the mud from getting in the car?"

So every Monday they wait in anticipation for me to tell them what I did. If I "raced a half marathon" and won my age group, by the end of the day I am an Olympic speed skater. Information gets very skewed very quickly around here.

I told them about the bike ride mostly because I am not sure what type of shape I will be in after it. Last year after Cedar Point 140.6 they offered me their walkers. I didn't want anyone to be upset if I am limping around for a few days. It's taken about 2 months of me telling them about my training for it to FINALLY sink in. They get it. I am going to ride all day and all night. And NO, I will not be stopping to brush my teeth.

When I arrived Monday a man said "Dani! What did you do this weekend! Ride 100 miles!?" After I explained the overnight 211 miler the sweetest 94 year old lady looked me dead in the eyes and said "I will be praying for you."

Not sure if she meant my physical well being or for my sanity, but whatever. I'll take it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

4.8 Mile Swim, 224 Mile Bike, 52.4 Mile Run....I'm in!

My favorite refrigerator magnet!

"The risk of injury from the activities involved in the Florida Double IRON Triathlon is significant and includes, but is not limited to, the following: drowning, near-drowning, sprains, strains,fractures,heat and cold injuries, over-use syndrome, injuries involving vehicles, animal bites and stings, contact with poisonous plants, accidents involving but not limited to; swimming, biking, running or other convenience, and the potential for permanent paralysis and death. While particular rules, equipment, and personal discipline may reduce this risk, the risk of serious injury does exist"


Originally, the thought was that I would do the double Iron in Virginia in October. It's a lake swim, with a hillier bike course, which would suit me better. Then Jason reminded me that I don't like long runs in the heat (like I've ever REALLY run long in the heat!) but he is right...if I am going to run a gazillion miles I would prefer for it to be cold. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get myself in shape quick enough for a February 24, 2012 double, since my focus is a 419 mile bike ride December 4th. A friend convinced me that my bike fitness was going to be SO great, that I could do a serious run focus and I would be okay. He told me he would train with me and do the race. Uh huh. He isn't. But I am.

I think it's quite fitting that I sent my race application and money in on the 5-year anniversary of my accident. My 5 year gift to myself I suppose! The website for the race is full of people that have done tons of really cool stuff. I am excited to be around so many nuts in such a small place. I am thinking about looking into a vaccine for my crew members so that don't catch whatever everyone else has. Seriously, check out these resumes. Don't you love how mine just lists Ironman Lousiville? I've done other stuff too, I promise! Does 50 sprints = an ultra? No? Dang.

So I am not "officially" in yet, my application is sent off and waiting the race director's approval. He asked for a recent picture and I attached a pic of monkey in a karate outfit. On the "for" line of the check I wrote "281.2 miles of AWESOME!" Hope he gets my sense of humor. In the meantime the website tells me that there is 113 days, 15 hours and 46 minutes until the start of the race. WOW. That seems really close! Guess I better get to training!

More to come on this adventure!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My fun size secret.....

As with most fine things, chocolate has its season. There is a simple memory aid that you can use to determine whether it is the correct time to order chocolate dishes: any month whose name contains the letter A, E, or U is the proper time for chocolate. ~Sandra Boynton

I keep candy in my office for my residents (I work in a retirement home). Normally I have the most self-control of almost anyone I know when it comes to eating healthy and I never TOUCH the stuff. It's tucked away in my closet, far from reach. I am the go-to person when people seek nutrition advice. I love that people look at my eating habits and think they "I want to eat like her". But sadly, things have changed.

It all started when a piece of "fun-size" candy fell from the bag. One piece, no harm in eating that right? It was an almond joy. It was heaven. The next day another piece fell. This must be a sign that I am getting too skinny. I'll go ahead and eat that one too. Then later a Reeses PB cup fell. Wow. I didn't realize those were SO good! I ate it up with delight. I realized that the bag was slowly tipping over, but I didn't care. These little pieces of falling candy were coming straight from heaven and I was a happy girl.

Then one day I came to work and the entire bag had finally fallen. I thought "Great. It's gonna take me ALL DAY to eat this candy." And that is when I realized.... I had a serious problem. No, I didn't eat ALL the candy, but the "fun size" pieces were all adding up. And 300-500 calories a day from candy is really not what my body needs right now.

Most people who eat junk gain weight because they eat it in addition to their normal meals. Not me. I was eating candy, and my fruit and veggies were going bad. I don't like wasting food. And I DO NOT like eating junk. It's not my style. So I decided to give up sugar. Done. Adios. Get out of my life!!!!

I am getting my bodyfat testing next week. I am really excited. It hasn't been tested in several years. The last time I was tested I was 16.2%. I am 3 pounds lighter and much leaner now, so I am looking forward to the results.

I've realized the worse part of giving up sugar is the insane abundance of energy that I have. It's really abnormal. You really are what you eat, and when you eat healthy wholesome foods, your body will adapt and give you more and more energy. I don't have sugar crashes anymore. I've got WAY more than the normal amount of energy required to get through the day plus training. Personally, I think it's the absence of high intensity training. I asked Coach and he said "normally people are tired from the volume" Um yeah. I am NOT the norm!

So no one has perfect eating habits. We all do things that are less than optimal for our health. But keep in mind that little things ADD up. Yeah, the creamer isn't horrible for your coffee, but the creamer everyday is. One glass of sweet tea? It won't make you gain 5 pounds a week but think about how much sugar that adds up to on a monthly basis.

Take baby steps to clean up your eating habits. Reduce things one piece at a time instead of making drastic changes. It will pay off in the end! Trust me!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What people don't tell you....

Last Saturday I had the distinct pleasure of doing a 162 mile ride. 8 hours and 42 minutes of almost complete solitude left me with plenty of time to think about things that no one mentions to you when you are thinking about signing up for a race that will take 24+ hours to complete. Here is what you need to know:

Hire a Coach: You might be smart. You might have lots of books with tons of useful information. But this volume of training is stressful enough without having to figure out a training schedule on your own. When you start to think about the endless possibilities of things that could go wrong, you will want a coach to help you work through those situations and keep your goals in line.

You did not just get accepted into Fat Kid University: You might think that just because you've added a lot more volume to your training that you can eat anything and everything in sight. This is not the case. Food is the fuel for your body. Your engine is running a lot more than it's accustomed to. Fuel it properly and it will function better!

You're not the coolest person around: So your recovery week now looks like what a typical Ironman training week looks like. That's cool but don't rub it in. Your old training partners don't need to feel bad that they are riding 1/10th of what you're doing. Remember, these are your future crew members! Do you want them laughing at you when your vomiting or sleep running? Exactly! Don't be that guy.

You are not crazy: Prolonged training, particularly in isolation may produce the following: hallucinations, delusions of grandeur, bouts of paranoia. These should subside shortly. If they don't call Dr. Slayer.

Leave your ego at the door: Yes, that woman with the babystroller did just pass you. And people who you would drop on a normal basis are suddenly able to keep up with you on the bike. You are not slow! I repeat: YOU ARE NOT SLOW. You're just GOING slow. Big difference. Don't freak out.

Get your life in order: Now is probably not the best time to plan a wedding, move across the country, start a new job, etc. Unless you really have to. Your training and work will probably be consuming every ounce of your time and energy. Keeping your social obligations and stress levels low are a really good idea.

Trim the fat: The last thing your life needs is added drama. People who are unsupportive or generally negative need to be eliminated. Yes, I realize that sounds harsh. But you cannot afford to defend your decisions (nor should you have to). Telling white lies about your training or not telling particular people what your plans are is okay.

Get some good friends: You are going to need some really awesome people in your life if you don't already have them. You need support and encouragement. Make sure these people know how wonderful they are and how much you appreciate their support.

Some really weird things are gonna happen: There are going to be times where your body will resemble a 7th grade science experiment gone bad. This is normal. What is NOT normal is to tell everyone about it. Not everyone needs to know all the strange ways your body reacts to training. If you feel the need to tell anyone, call me. I love hearing about it.

Dani hasn't actually raced an event lasting 24 hours, she is merely training for it. Check back in a couple of months for "what no one told me about racing for 24+ hours.."

Friday, October 7, 2011

Confession: I have NO IDEA what I am doing!

Expectations: Always Aim High!

As most of you already know, I am a self-coached athlete. This has been my choice since I started this sport in 2006. I've had a pretty interesting progression that looked something like this:

2006 Season: New to the sport, jumped in with my training buddies on whatever they were doing

2007 Season: Recovering from being hit by a car and breaking my leg. Mostly rehab.

2008: Let's do an Ironman! Brilliant! Used a book by Matt Fitzgerald with training plans.

2009 Season: Totally self-coached, did whatever I wanted. Gains made. Got faster. I attribute most of this to recovering from injuries from my accident

2010 Season: Jason halfway coaches me. I adopt his training principles. Even more gains are made, and I PR in every distance race I competed in.

2011 Season: Jason doesn't really have the time/energy to coach me. With no races or events longer than an Olympic triathlon I lack the real motivation for triathlon training. Spent a while recovering from a ruptured bursa sac. Performances declined for my repeat races from last season. Felt like I was just going through the motions. No speedwork completed in anything other than biking.

So there you have it. My career in a nutshell. What everything boils down to is this: I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I AM DOING! Yes, I can totally train/coach myself for shorter distance races. But a 420 mile ride? I've never even MET someone that has ridden that far, let alone know how to train for it. A double Ironman in February? Eh, that's a whole other story. So.......I think I NEED a coach. BUT......I don't really want one. Here is why:

I have always thought that this sport is "for fun" I don't win money. I pay money to do this. My approach to training is actually very laid back( contrary to popular belief). Yes, I train a lot. But it's super laid back. I change my plans all the time. I do what I want, when I want. This makes training fun for me and I ALWAYS want to workout.

BUT.....I, like most athletes that I know, tend to spend unequal amounts of time dedicated to the 3 disciplines. No doubt, cycling is my one and only real gift in this sport. Because I am good at it and love it, I will choose that over anything else. Sadly, swimming and running take a backseat. Actually running has taken more than a backseat. It's been boxed up and in the trunk. My "long" run career is so pathetic that I can actually count every long run I have ever done. 1 18 miler before my 2 IM's, 3-4 15 milers, 1 50k race, 25 miles pacing Jason at Umstead, and about 25-30 walk/run miles at Key West. That. Is. It. Told you I don't run!

My deepest darkest triathlon secret when it comes to why I haven't hired a coach? I don't trust 'em. I have no idea why. In my mind many coaches have one way that works for them, and a majority of their athletes and they want you to train that way. Regardless of whether it works for you. I call it "cookie cutter coaching" and it really bothers me. That and I don't like being told what to do. And if I don't trust you or respect you then I am definitely NOT doing what you say. (The irony of this is that I will listen to a plan in a book written by someone who doesn't know I exist)

I know that the way I do things isn't the best way. It's the way that creates the most fun, not the most speed. I have a degree in Exercise Science and Kinesology for pete's sake and I STILL do things my way. Plain and simple......I am stubborn. So stubborn that it has been detrimental to my athletic endeavors.

I trust Jason. And I trust Shanks. Both are logical and level-headed. They will have disagreements with you without telling you that you are wrong. They understand that there is no such thing as a wrong opinion, and if given factual data, I do believe that they will both change their minds. Shanks has kinda been my advisor of sorts. I send him an occasional text asking if something is a bad idea or not. Sometimes I listen and sometimes I don't. But I respect both of their opinions immensely. In a perfect world, there would be a hybrid of Jason and Shanks. They would have Jason's tough love attitude and "I-know-when-you-are-full-of-shit" detection system and Shanks ability to write plans and periodize.

I have looked and looked for a coach. Ok, I made like 2 phone calls and sent 3 e-mails. Jason has been somewhat quiet about the whole thing (he personally thinks it's a waste of $) I have come up with reasons why I need a coach:

-I need to run more, and I need someone to MAKE this happen

-I am tired of getting to the taper period before a big race and wondering whether or not I have done enough

-I need to focus my energy and efforts on the actual TRAINING itself.

-I want to reach my full potential, and I really do believe it's much greater than what my results have shown thus far

Things my Coach HAS to be:

-Open-minded and understanding

-Firm without being bossy

-Allow me to do my core workouts three times a week and lift weights twice a week. I can get a doctor's prescription if I need to. I have to lift weights. Seriously.

-Creative, funny, and NOT sensitive

Who's up for the challenge?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Living a balanced life in an unbalanced world....

I look balanced but trust me it's an illusion!

With Jason training for Epicman (a triple Ironman) and me training for a 420 mile bike ride across Florida, life has changed a bit. We spend our weekends training, preparing to train, traveling to train, or recovering from training. As the weeks drag on to months I have began to feel like I am living, eating, and breathing training and my life doesn't feel very balanced.

The struggle to find balance in life is something that almost everyone I know struggles with. People ask me all the time how I fit in all my training. Personally, I think that I have it a lot easier than most. I don't make half the sacrifices that some of my friends make. One friend I know runs from 4:00-7:00 am before her husband goes to work. She once told me "I want my training to impact my family as little as possible". That is one of the most selfless comments that I have ever heard when it comes to training for an endurance event!

I consider myself quite fortunate that I am in a relationship with someone who will never complain about my training. He will also never complain about me being tired from training (mostly because that rarely happens!). But his support is great, and at the same time a challenge because he can handle volumes of training that would put most people into the ground within days. So he is naturally pretty unsympathetic about having to train for long periods of time.

So what exactly is it about my life that's not balanced? Well, I've never been one to require a lot of social interaction, so the isolation of large volume training weekends doesn't bother me much. It's the leaving the house in the dark, riding all day, and coming home after dark that I have struggled with. There is very little balance when your day consists of doing NOTHING other than riding a bike and eating. It's not the volume of training that has gotten me frustrated. My body has adapted quite well. I am training about 8-10 hours more per week than I would for an Ironman, but feel way more energetic. Less intensity definitely makes the training easier on my body. The flip side is that this training is BORING. I figured it was going to be and I was right! Last week I rode 8 hours solo in the Gaps (north Ga mountains). The extended period of isolation wasn't the issue (I barely saw anyone else) it was the total and complete lack of speed or effort that was driving me nuts. If you know me, you know that I like to ride fast. 8 hour rides call for little or no intensity, especially when you are going to do 5+ hours the following day. It never occurred to me how much I enjoy intensity until it was taken away. Training for ultras is mostly psychological in nature in my opinion. Any fool can ride a bike at a really low heartrate. But can you do it from sunup to sundown? When the wind is howling at you and knocks you over? What about when your feet are frozen and you're hungry? That type of training requires something that a high VO2 max and lactate threshold cannot help you with.

I've thought a lot the past several days about my "imbalanced" life. I've thought about my need to spend more quality time with Jason, play with my dogs more, try and actually relax instead of constantly ripping and running from one place to the next. Then I came across this quote that I really like: "The word happiness would lose it's meaning if not balanced by sadness." -Carl Jung. This could also be interpreted as "how would I know what a balanced life felt like if I didn't occasionally let it get off kilter?" Training like this won't last forever. Our races will come and go and we will regain what very little bit of normalcy that we had in our lives. Nothing worth having is easy, and sacrifices made now are part of achieving huge goals later!

In the meantime I only put in two hours of training yesterday. Why? It was date- night OB/Dani style: post gym, still in workout clothes, eating really healthy. It was quality time that was very much needed in our hectic lives.

I want to leave you with one of my favorite authors of ALL TIME! Dr. Seuss. This is from the book :"Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?"
When you think things are bad,
when you feel sour and blue,
when you start to get mad....
you should do what I do!

Just tell yourself, Duckie,
you're really quite lucky!
Some people are much more...
oh, ever so much more...
oh, muchly much-much more
unlucky than you!

Dr. Seuss is right. I AM lucky! I've got a mind and body that are able to withstand some really crazy stuff and I need to appreciate how many people out there could not do what I am doing. So I am going to be unbalanced, and just hope that I stay upright for the next 4 months!

Friday, September 9, 2011

You can't fix crazy.....

"We are all a little weird. And life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love." -Dr. Seuss

Several months ago Jason told me that his friend Kellie had signed up for the Epicman triathlon. When I asked what it was he said "A 7.2 mile swim, 336 mile bike, and a 78.6 mile run." It's a triple Ironman that takes place in Oahu, Hawaii. My first reaction was WOW! That is awesome! You should apply for it! It's limited to 20 participants and it's invite only. I knew Jason's race resume was great and he would get in if he really wanted it.

I know what you are thinking. That a triple Ironman is totally nuts. You are probably thinking that anyone who wants to do something like that is totally crazy. Well, I might be a little off my knocker too, because I thought it was a wonderful idea.

Why support something so insane? Well, let's face it. If the person you love has the courage and guts to apply for a race that has a SIXTY HOUR cutoff then you really have no choice but to support them. Because they obviously have a mental disorder and need help.

I learned a long time ago that you can't change people and you definitely cannot fix crazy. Jason is stubborn and hard-headed, and has more ambition and drive than most people I know combined. He refuses to quit. He has an incredible work ethic and NEVER skips workouts or cuts anything short. Personally he's my multi-sport hero and I try my hardest to support him in every way possible because he does the same for me. I think that ultra distance racing is mostly psychological, and you cannot be successful without a support network. It's not an easy lifestyle and having a partner that totally understands and supports you makes reaching your goals that much more achievable.

Some of you reading this may be the spouse or partner of someone who is "crazy". You might be widowed by the sport and not a happy camper. I get that. My advice? Do something crazy yourself. I decided to ride my bike across Florida.

If dates on a bike aren't your thing here are some other suggestions for how to go crazy:

- start yelling "stranger danger" when people you don't know talk to you

- take up "reverse crosstitching" make a stitch, reverse it, repeat.

-become a skittle separator. Refuse to allow anyone to eat colors out of your specific order preference

-before you meet new people, pop an alka seltzer in your mouth. Proceed.

-play tag in Wal-Mart. Fitting room lady is base.

-Attach signs to water fountains that say "Free water today!"

-visit your local animal shelter. Lay down and say "pick me! pick me!"


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The wheels on the bike go round and round....

‎"Struggling and suffering are the essence of a life worth living. If you're not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you're not demanding more from yourself-expanding and learning as you go-you're choosing a numb existence. You're denying yourself an extraordinary trip." -Dean Karazes

This is the first bike I ever owned. I LOVED this bike. When it came time to take the trainer wheels off I totally flipped out. I only let my dad take one wheel off. Then I proceeded to ride the bike lopsided for an entire year. It made it really easy to go in circles in my driveway. Finally my brother that is 2 years younger than me took his training wheels off. Since I obviously couldn't have him do something I couldn't do, I insisted I was no longer afraid and made my dad remove my one remaining training wheel. I was so excited to be riding like a big girl that a few days later I went flying down a hill as fast as possible. I turned around to make sure my mom could see me, hit a curb, fell and broke my arm.

25 years later I am going over the route for my ride across the state of Florida. This is going to be a solo record breaking attempt. Jason spent countless hours planning the route. The only requirement is that you start and stop at the exact same location as the current record holder. You plan your own route. You have to have a support vehicle and an ultra-cycling association official. The ride is currently around 416 miles. The record holder rode 405.3 miles in 27 hours and 58 minutes. That's a LONG time in the saddle. This is how our conversation went last night:

Jason "You are sure you want to do this right? Because we are getting ready to spend money now. You have to buy lights, radio, get signs made..."

Me: " Signs? Awesome! I want a sign with purple writing and two big yellow stars on it"

Jason: "No. The sign says "Caution: Rider ahead" in black on an orange background"

Me: "Do you think it can say Caution: Extremely awesome rider ahead?"

Jason: "Do YOU think we have a 10-foot car to put this sign on? Why do you care about things that don't matter at all?"

Me: "I don't know. But I want a bag full of food to feed me in case of emergency. Honey buns, moonpies, just a bag full of junk. And don't let Chuck eat it all."

Jason (shaking head) "Ok babe."

And there ya have it folks! I WILL be riding my bike across the state of Florida. It WILL be awesome and you will be hearing a lot more about it soon, including the fundraising I am committed to!

In the meantime if you need me I will be on my bike.....

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Strong IS the new Skinny!

"Men are taught to apologize for their weaknesses, women for their strengths." -- Lois Wyse

For as long as I can remember I have been a big (er) person. I was always one of the tallest kids in class. I used to DESPISE being so tall! I thought that I would never find a boyfriend because I was at least a foot taller than every boy I knew. Finally around the 8th or 9th grade the boys caught up with me in height. I was no longer the tallest kid in class, but one thing that set me apart was that I was strong. I struggled with being a tall, tough girl for the longest time!

In triathlon being "big" is considered such a disadvantage that they give you your own category to compete in! If I choose to I am able to compete with other women who weigh more than the average female competitor. Personally I choose to stick with competing against the 30-34 females. Yes, my size may be a disadvantage while I run and in the heat, but for the most part, I don't think it slows me down too much.

I get criticized for doing things that do not relate to swimming, biking, or running. I am often told that my weight lifting won't make me faster. True. But what it makes me is STRONG. And strong? Well in case you haven't heard, it's kind of the new skinny!

Thanks to my girl Bethaney for the awesome shirt!

Being strong has it's advantages. I don't worry about being attacked. I mean really, you aren't going to go after the chick who weighs as much as you do. I'm able to carry my 50 pound bag of dog food with no worries. I can re-rack the weights at the gym with little effort. Can't get your jar of peanut butter open? I can probably help you with that too.

Over the past couple of months I have been getting congratulated while working out. It is mostly after I do push ups or pull ups. I realize that it might not be a normal sight to see, but please do not give me a thumbs up, atta girl, or way to go after you witness me working out. I hope that one day it's the norm to see a woman working out like that and not a rarity! In the meantime ladies, don't be afraid of throwing around some weights and getting strong. It's in!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

When you get where you are going, remember where you came from....

July 2004

July 2004 found me in the worst shape of my life. I drank, smoked, and could barely walk up a flight of stairs without having to stop and catch my breath. While at the doctor for a routine physical I was given an ultimatum: lose weight or risk becoming diabetic, developing high blood pressure, or worse. I realized that my weight was more than an issue of looks. I was on a path of self-destruction. I joined the gym. Hired a personal trainer. Quit smoking. Did a complete overhaul on my diet.

By May 2005 my hard work had paid off. I was 70 pounds lighter and felt healthier than I had in years. By Spring of 2006 I had met a group of triathletes and my passion for triathlon was born. I immediately fell in LOVE with racing!

On November 1st, 2006 I was in Panama City Beach Florida to support my friends racing Ironman Florida. I was struck by a drunk driver while riding my bike.

November 2006

I hit the windshield of the car, flew about 20 feet and landed in a GRAVEL parking lot. The driver kept going and ran over my bike. It punctured his tires and he had no choice but to stop.

I knew right away my left leg was broken. It was mangled and deformed. I had gone from being in the best shape of my life to unable to walk without assistance in a matter of seconds.
I spent 6 days in the hospital and had surgery. The doctor was not very optimistic about my return to triathlon. He basically said "Your leg is crushed. I can't guarantee that I will be able to get it all back together. You will probably have a limp. I doubt if you will be able to run again" I was absolutely devastated.

The road to recovery was long. Physically I was in horrible pain everyday. Emotionally I was a wreck. I would be thankful I was alive one minute, then bitter and jealous the next. I cried more during that recovery than I have in my whole life.

This Saturday I am competing in the Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon. It was one of the first races that I did during my "comeback season" in 2008. I was looking at my results recently and realized that I have come a LONG way since the days of being unable to run because I was so overweight. I have come an even longer way since the days of being unable to run because my leg was broken.

I learned some amazing lessons the past few years, the most important of those being "don't forget where you came from". After my accident I was given a book that was about strength and never giving up. I read it every single day. My favorite quote from the book:

"Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own;sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction."

I made a choice to not give up. The result?

Rev 3 140.6, September 2010

I am doing things the doctors told me I wouldn't do. I am challenging myself in ways that never seemed possible. The journey has been long, the path hasn't always been a straight one, but it's been worth it in the end.

"Success is never a destination-it's a journey."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

It's Smoothie Time!!

For some time I have talked about starting a blog dedicated to sharing my training, racing, and nutrition advice. So here it goes!

I have been hooked on smoothies for a couple of years. They are what I eat for breakfast 360 days out of the year, so I have become a pro at different variations. Here are a few of my favorite recipes.

Beet & Pineapple Smoothie
Don't let the name fool ya! This is delicious!
1 Beet (I buy the ones from Trader Joe's that are pre-cooked and peeled)
3/4 cup chopped Pineapple
1 small Banana
1/2 Cup Frozen Blueberries
1 Cup Spinach
1/2 Avocado
1 Scoop Vanilla Flavored Whey Protein Powder
1 scoop Chia Seeds
1 teaspoon Macca Powder
8 oz Coconut Water
4 oz Spring Water
Blend and ENJOY!

Benefits of smoothies:
-Excellent source of vitamins and minerals
-Easy and Quick; if you are crunched for time you can make them and store them in the freezer. Put one in your refrigerator overnight to thaw out
-Awesome way to "hide" the taste of veggies
-Very filling!

Tips for making smoothies:
-Use a variety of fruits and veggies, but note that not everything blends up the same. Play with it until you find the right consistency
-Raspberries and blueberries will leave stuff in your teeth!
-Your smoothie will keep you fuller longer if you have carbohydrate, protein AND fat! I always use avocados or almond butter as my fat sources