Monday, February 17, 2014


I am not fast.   Many people think that because I am an Ironman, that I am fast.  My fastest marathon was a 4:47 and change,   my fastest half 2:05:55, fastest 5k just a little over 27 minutes,  fastest IM 14:11:something.     I will probably never run the Boston Marathon or  qualify for the Kona Ironman unless I am still running in my 70's or I somehow qualify as a special interest story.   My "intervals" on the treadmill right now are slower than at least half of what my friends run at for an "ez" pace.       I don't know how many times I have. asked people to run/ride/swim with me, only to be told "you are an Ironman, there is no way I could keep up with you!"  

 My lack of speed  is something I have struggled with for a long time.    I was fast at one time in my life.    I think I was 6 or 7 years old.   I could outrun most of the boys in my class and all but one girl.    But that was only across the parking lot at recess.  Short sprints and I was a short, spry, little girl at that time.     As I got older and I grew taller, I seemed to become more awkward and I lost that speed.    By highschool I was mediocre at best, it seemed the taller I got, the slower I also got.     I struggled to keep up with almost all the girls during soccer practice, especially when we did the longer runs and conditioning.    The only person that was slower than me was the goalie and she outweighed me by a good 50-60 lbs and made it very obvious to everyone that she chose to be the goalie so she wouldn't have to run as much.

  Mostly it was my breathing that kept me from going faster,  I would get to the point that I would have to slow down because I just couldn't breath, and the only way to get over this was to go slower.   My coaches friends, etc  said I was out of shape and I just needed to try harder, train more, and I would get faster.    I, in turn got more frustrated with my lack of speed, despite training, and trying as hard as I could, and eventually I stopped playing soccer my senior year.    I was so disappointed with my performance the first week of conditioning that I quit and decided there were other things I could do instead.    I did go back to playing soccer but only intramurals while in college and then after college.     But that lack of speed still plagued me.    In my mid 20's more of my friends started running and training for 5k's, 10k's and even half marathons.    They would ask me to join and for awhile I refused.   In my mind I was slow, running was hard and I didn't want to do races just to remind me of this.  I could do short sprints across the soccer field, but not much beyond that.      I ran on my own to keep fit for the soccer leagues I was playing in, but I was very frustrated that I couldn't seem to get past the 2 mile mark without feeling like I was going to die.    So to do a 5K?   Nope, impossible, I couldn't do it.

  I did finally relent and did the Komen 5k with a group of friends and I had to walk at least half of it.    I tried to keep up with them for a bit, and as typical I faded and eventually had to stop and walk.    Eventually one of my friends asked if I had ever checked my heart rate when running.   Why would I do that?    I remember thinking.    And the concept of pace was born...up to that point I really had no concept of pace.   Whenever I ran, it really was all out and I would quite literally run until I really couldn't anymore.    When I finally checked my HR on one of those 2 mile runs, I was at my max heart rate most of the run.  D'oh!    And wouldn't you know it, when I slowed down and kept my heart rate lower I was able to run longer and it felt easier.    So when the boy I mentioned in a prior blog asked me to try another 5k, I decided this time I could.  My goal was to finish it without having to walk.    And I did it.     But it was still frustrating because I was so much slower than all of my friends at that time.     Fortunately though, I kept at it, tried new things and kept pushing forward.   I set goals for myself...for awhile it was just to beat 35 min for a 5k  then 30min, etc.  Little by little I was getting a smidge faster.   And this helped me to  build enough confidence to try out longer distances and other events.    
The first half marathon I did was bittersweet.   I did it is part of a Relay for the Columbus Marathon.    My friend and I signed up for it together,  I for the first half, she for the second.     She was an experienced runner but we lived in different parts of the city, so we didn't train together.    Instead I trained with my roommate at the time and another of our friends who also signed up for the Relay.    I could start out with them and hang for a mile or 2 but after that I would have to slow down.    It got very lonely for me pretty quickly and I didn't look forward to those runs.   But, knowing my friends would be waiting for me at the end of the run, kept me moving forward and helped me to continue the training each week.     A few weeks prior to the race, my friend got sick and ended up having to have surgery on one of her kidneys.    We both worried that we would have to drop from the race...her medically, me because she couldn't do it.   Fortunately the race directors let us pick a substitute and my friend's Dad was also a runner, so he came down and did the race with me in her place.     Up to this point that race was the hardest thing I had ever done and I gave it my all.    But it was somewhat disappointing because instead of crossing an actual finish-line and rejoicing in my training and all my efforts,  I ended in a chute where the relay team handed off the timing chip.     I walked over to the finish area and waited for my teammate to arrive.    And I was very jealous that I wasn't the one crossing that line.   But it was still a defining moment for me because I realized that no matter how many doubts I had about things, I could still do something if I put my mind to it.    And I knew I would do another because I wanted to be able to see what it would feel like to cross that finish line!

The next spring I did another half marathon and did get to experience that wonderful feeling of finally crossing that finish-line.    I continued to do more races and train for my first marathon.    But I struggled with getting faster and trying to "PR" my half marathon time.    My first was still my fastest.      Several half marathons in I  had another defining moment.   I really wanted a PR this race and so I had tried to pick up the pace again.   By mile 8 I was walking because I was wheezing.   Frustrated, I started crying because I knew this wasn't going to be my PR race.   The rest  of the run was a combo of run/walking.   I tried to pick up the pace again the last half mile.    I was so short of breath by the time I finished that I actually thought about stopping at the med tent to ask if they had any oxygen.   A fellow runner was chatting with me on the way out of the corrals and I couldn't do anything but nod because I was still very short of breath.   It took me quite awhile to calm down my breathing and I was also having difficulty holding onto stuff and I kept dropping things.    Fortunately I had come with my boyfriend at the time and he drove me home.   I kept telling him I was fine, but I knew deep down that it wasn't.    Shortly after this I went to the physician and unloaded about the race, my struggles with racing, speed, etc.    She finally suggested I get tested for asthma.    Asthma?   This had never crossed my mind.  Asthma is something that lands you in the hospital, can cause you to die.   I had several cousins with asthma and they had to do breathing treatments, etc and couldn't exercise because of the asthma.    But my physician suggested that it could be exercise induced and not full blown asthma and pushed me to get tested.    So I went to a physician that specializes in Allergies and Asthma and got tested.   He expected me to pass that regular testing and explained that when I did, they would send me on to do the additional testing to diagnose exercise induced asthma.     Only I didn't pass the regular test,  I was only functioning at about 80% and he had me do an albuterol treatment and retest.   Diagnosis:  Asthma.  I was stunned.   I went home with a script for two inhalers, a maintenance inhaler that was a steroid that I would do 2 puffs/2 x a day and a rescue inhaler, which my physician suggested I do prior to every aerobic workout.      And a weird thing happened,   my workouts started to feel a little easier, and I finally was able to do more without feeling so winded.   

Through the years, I have obviously been able to conquer alot more than just a half marathon.    I have now completed 4 IMs,   4 half IMs, 2 marathons,  >25 half marathons and countless other races.     I have also been able to successfully improve my asthma scores to the 99% range and am now down to 1 puff 2 x/day on my maintenance inhaler and I no longer need to do my rescue inhaler before every work out.    I only use it now prior to a really intense workout or if I actually need it during a workout.     My asthma doc has told me I am his favorite patient as  I am one of the few success stories.  He said what most don't realize is that by continuing to exercise, the asthma can actually get better, I am living proof of that.   But, he said, most of his patient's use it as an excuse not to workout instead.    I am hoping that one day he can use me to inspire more of his patient's but for now I am just happy that my lungs are improving and each time I go back we continue to monitor and change my medicines.    I am by no means cured,  and I hope that one day I can get off the meds entirely, but for now I will do what I can do.   

Through the years I have also done additional testing for V02 max and HR zones.    These tests have been very helpful in preparing me for the longer distance events.    I am still slow, but I realized that I can go on for a long time.   And I realized I am doing what is safe and what is right for my body.  I still struggle with that, but I have to accept that I can only do what my body is capable of doing and these tests have helped to guide me to a much safer approach with my training.   I am more accepting now of my body's speed limitations because I have been able to succeed in so many more events and races.    

   I am what I consider myself to be a middle or back of the packer.   But I also see it as an opportunity to get my money's worth.   We pay alot for these races...this way I get to spend ample time out on the course enjoying what I pay for these days!    I also love it because it allows me to meet other runners.   The newbies, especially hold a special spot in my heart.    And I love that I can help them,  motivate them, give advice, inspire.    I think because I am slower, it gives others hope that they can do amazing things too.   When I think about my heroes in the endurance world, it is not the leaders of the events but rather the common folk that inspire me.    Sure, Chrissie Wellington, Crowie,  Ryan Hall, Kara Goucher, etc are all amazing to watch.   But they don't inspire me.    To me they are gifted athletes that were born with a certain amount of talent, something I will never have.  I can't even begin to comprehend what their world is like and although they are amazing athletes, they have never inspired me to do more.     The ones that inspire me are the ones that have overcome huge obstacles to complete races:  Jon Blais,  Rudy Garcia Tolsen,  Sarah Reinersten, Team Holt to name a few.    Their stories are the ones that I love, that inspire, that bring me to tears, and make me want to do more myself.     Each have overcome obstacles in their lives and accomplished amazing things.    To me, these are the ones that inspire  me to reach out of my comfort zone and try things that I never thought were possible.     This past year especially, I have finally started to be at peace with my "slowness."     For most of my life my biggest dream has been to inspire people.     It wasn't until more recently that I realized that I don't need to be fast to inspire people( which is what I have always thought).    In fact, quite the opposite, by being "slow"  I think I have the means to inspire more people.     I hope that by telling my story, my struggles, my successes, and my failures, that I can help more people to dream bigger, reach further, and be at peace with their "speed demons."  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014



Such a simple phrase but one I feel like I have asked and been asked a thousand times.   What motivates you to sign up for an Ironman?   More important what motivates you to keep going back to more Ironman events?    How do you stay motivated to train when it is a frozen tundra outside and sunny skies and warm weather are a distant memory?    How do you motivate yourself for a 5 hour sufferfest on this thing they call a  bike trainer?   How do you motivate yourself to keep going on a really tough climb?    How did you stay motivated enough to finish the world's toughest Ironman event at Ironman Lake Tahoe?   How do you motivate yourself for a 3 hour long run, by yourself, in 90 degree weather?    How do you motivate yourself to get off the couch and go to the pool on a 5 degree weather day?     How do you motivate yourself to put on this skintight, non flattering piece of clothing they call a trisuit?     The list is endless and could be adapted to any situation.    Mental Toughness in my opinion, is an often overlooked aspect of training and is one of the most important things behind motivation.      

Everyone is motivated by different things.   It is what drives us day in and day out.   At work.  At home.   At play.    But especially in the world of healthy living and exercise.   There are lots of reasons that people stay fit, to lose weight, to gain a better body,  to fight depression, to be able to go to Northstar after a long run and not have to justify it,  to not  feel so guilty about the bottle of wine  that you consume each week, to race, to compete,  for a mental break,  to get outdoors,   to keep moving, to stay happy.     And often times it is a combination of many of these things.    Getting motivated to sign up for an Ironman was actually the easy part.   Just like signing up for a new exercise class, starting out fresh with new resolutions each year,  signing up for a 5k,  these things, although scary at first, are actually easier.   Initially, as with most new things, there is excitement, maybe a little fear, but it is normally a good thing.    You tell your friends, your spouse, your parents, your kids.    And although there maybe some doubt, most will support you and help you to start whatever this new event in your healthier lifestyle is.   The hard part is sticking with it.    When the excitement wears off.    When the weather sucks.   When the bike course becomes really challenging.   When you start to get tired.   When doubt or boredom kicks in.    That is when mental toughness comes into play.    That is when you really need to figure out how to motivate yourself.    

 A few years ago, I was on an 85 mile  bike tour out in the Granville/Utica area with a group of friends.    The majority of the group was much faster than me and I knew going into that ride that I wouldn't be able to keep up with the group.   I also knew it was going to be a long day in the saddle as it was a hilly ride and I am even slower on my bike with hills than I am on flat ground.  And as I expected the majority of the group got away from me, and although they waited for me at alot of the stops,  I rode the better part of the ride alone.  But, I knew I had to pace myself so I wouldn't blow up midway into the ride when the hills would be at their worst.   A little over half way into the ride we got to the most challenging part of the course.   It was a very steep section of hills that seemed to go on forever.   As I got near what I thought was the end of a hill and what I thought was the end of any leg power I had left,  I turned and realized the hill was still going on a bit longer.    I had misjudged it.    But, I was determined that day, I wasn't going to stop on any hills.   I dug deep and I kept going.    And I passed one of my friends who had pulled off the side of the road.   Crying.  Defeated.  Beaten down.   She had misjudged as well, but her brain said no more.    I meant to call out to her but it came out as more of a grunt.  Keep going.    I could tell by looking at her that she was physically fine, maybe not so mentally.    She did get back on her bike, and eventually she caught back up to me.    How do you do it?  She asked.   What?    I responded.    How do you keep going when it is so challenging.

     Crying ginger boy driving a tricycle with a square wheel

My friend was training for her first Ironman.   She was at the point in training where you are exhausted, mentally done,  and just ready to race.   She had done a century ride the weekend prior, was supposed to do another one the day of this ride, and then she would be ready for taper.    I could tell at this point that she had given up.   My motivation?   What keeps me moving forward?    My phrase.   Because I CAN.   During the toughest times of my training I focus on those who can't:     My father who has Parkinson's and gets fatigued just walking a few hundred yards.   My friends that have passed away from cancer.   My friends that are fighting cancer or another disease and are too sick to train.   My injured friends.   My friends and family that are too busy with the rest of their lives to be able to do what I do.   I am lucky to be able to do what I do.   And I remind myself of that as much as I can.   No matter how difficult the workout, no matter how slow I am,  I am very fortunate that I can do this training that I love (most days).    We did get to the end of the ride.  It was as tough as I imagined it was going to be.    And I knew my friend was going to stop at 85 miles with the rest of us and call it a day.   And I knew she couldn't.    So when we got back to the cars, I told her we were going back out.   Boy was she surprised.    And resistant.   But, mentally she needed to do this.   So I drug her back out, pretty much kicking and screaming, and we finished 100 miles.   I told her that as defeated as she felt by this ride,  finishing it would be more important for her mentally than any of her good days.   Why?   She asked.   Because an Ironman is not easy.   There will be a point where you doubt yourself, but you have to keep moving forward, your mind will give up before your body.   The tough days that you finish in training are ones that make you stronger on race day.    I am pretty sure she didn't believe me.   But she went on and did her Ironman a few weeks later.   And we talked after, and she told me I was right.

Mental toughness is something you have to practice as well.    My Coach Tim Barrett of  Power of One Coaching  recently wrote an excellent article about mental part of training.   It was published by USAT and can be found here.   I have used several of these techniques myself with training and when preparing for a big race.    As with most things though, I could probably utilize them more.

     Because of my work schedule I do the majority of my training alone.  I think about many different things during my workouts:  food, what I look like swimming, what the person in the next lane looks like,  am I faster than that said person,  how is my form, how is  my breathing,  how my body feels, my next workout, just to name a few.   But I also practice race scenarios in my head.     Some days I envision myself at a race and how I want to feel.   I will do it on the bike, the swim, the run.  I envision myself executing the perfect swim stroke, gait pattern when running or aero position on the bike, .  I practice my finishers pose in my head and  I will daydream about how awesome I will look when I come across that finish line.   Some days I feel so tired I am not sure I can workout.   With fatigue, I really have to evaluate this and I give myself some latitude.   Sleep is as important as training, especially when it comes to recovery.    There are definitely days that I have skipped a morning or evening workout to get more sleep instead.    Lacking in sleep can lead to injury, illness, and mental breakdown.   To me, it is worthwhile to get a few extra hours of sleep if I really need it to ward off long term problems that can arise from lack of sleep.   I would rather train healthy and make it to the start of a race, rather than get injured or ill and lose out on a race (which has happened all too much in the past).   So, I don't beat myself up if I miss a day of training here or there to sleep.   If it starts to become more of the norm, then an intervention might be needed.    There are some days that I really can't tell,  I am tired,  cranky, in general just blah.    On these days it can be especially hard to get motivated.   I have the 10 minute rule for these days.    I give myself 10 minutes to exercise.    Start whatever that activity is and give it 10 minutes.   If I still am not feeling it after 10 minutes, I give myself permission to stop.    Thus far, I have finished every workout I started.  

 I also use music a lot to help me train.  When I run, I look forward to listening to music.   I love it.   I use it as a reward, but I also use phrases in songs to help keep me moving.  On the bike or in the water I sing to myself.  Sometimes out loud, sometimes just in my head.     Each year seems to be a different song, but I normally will pick out a few phrases and sing them or say them when I am at a difficult part of a workout.   "Stronger."  "Lose Yourself."  "Defying Gravity."  "Pride."   Very different songs, but all have given me motivation over the years.     And I won't lie, sometimes I just sing whatever happens to pop into my head.   "Party in the USA", unfortunately,  has been with me on many rides.    During IMAZ 2009 "Just Keep Swimming"  was my theme.   I just changed the words to whatever activity I happened to be doing at the time and made up words as I went along because the more tired I got, the less I could remember the words to the song.    This year "Roar"  by Katy Perry was my song.   I will admit when I first heard it, I thought it was dumb.   But the more I heard it, I started listening to the lyrics and the song hit home.

"You held me down, but I got up
Already brushing off the dust
You hear that voice, You hear that sound
Like thunder gonna shake the ground
You held me down, but I got up
Get ready 'cause I've had enough
I see it all I see it now
I've got the eye of the tiger, the dancer, dancing through the fire
Cause I am a champion and you're gonna hear me roar!! "

Perfect for an Ironman.   And my IMLT group embraced it as well.   It became our anthem and anytime it was on the radio that week, we blasted it, and sang with it!!    And I sang it almost nonstop that day when I was out on the bike course. There was one segment on the bike course that I almost gave up.   I had calculated the time in my head and I was sure that I was going to miss the cut off.   But I didn't.   And at that time I had to make the decision to push myself as hard as I could to get to T2,  or slow down and be done with it,  I was close enough to the cutoff time that I knew a few minutes could make or break me.   And I thought of this song, this phrase.   And I knew I couldn't give up.   I wanted to be a champion and I wanted to have people hear me roar!   

    In training for Ironman Lake Tahoe, Coach Tim and I talked often about how I was going to prepare for this race mentally.    We both knew this would not be an easy race for me.   Lake Tahoe sits at 6,200 ft of elevation,  Dublin sits at about 800ft,  my schedule wouldn't allow for me to go out early to adapt or train at altitude.   The bike had 8,000k of climbing and this would be the first IM I would attempt without having ridden at least part of the course or seen in advance to know how to train for it.  In essence, I would be going into this race blindly. Add the fact that I have asthma to the mix and you have the biggest challenge I had ever signed up for in my life.  The physical training we could do, and we had a solid plan in place.   But, I knew I would need something even more to help me to dig deep, to keep going, to motivate me during this race.   Coach Tim kept asking who is your  "Power of One?"    I thought alot about my phrase "Because I Can" and I kept thinking about all the people in my life that had passed away,  especially two guys that had inspired me so much  in the past years with their stories, their battles with cancer.    I was not creative enough to come up with a jersey or anything, but I thought if I had something personal to take with me on that day to remind me of them, it would help.   And somehow I came up possibly wearing one of Jeff's running hats.   I knew that part of the race would be hardest for me.   So I contacted his widow, who fortunately still had some of his things, and she said absolutely, I could wear one of his hats.  And I did just that. I used that hat to honor all of those that can't do the type of thing I do, to honor the memory of both Jeff (who passed away in 2012)  and Cory (who had died earlier in the year), and  also to honor all of the others in my life that had passed away.  And it was a huge help.   Very few knew that I did that.   But I knew.   And I knew both Jeff and Cory were with me that day to help me get through that day.  I needed Cory on the bike to get over those hills and Jeff on the run to keep me moving forward.   And they didn't disappoint.    Although, I probably should give a little credit to Katy Perry as well, for her well spoken words that influenced me in "Roar".      My ability to finish that race had everything to do with the preparation and hard work I put into training...both physical and mental.   

   "Cause I am a Champion and You're  Gonna Hear me Roar!"

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Back at it Again

It has been awhile since I have posted and there are no good reasons why.   I got busy.   It got stressful to try to blog.   I didn't have any interest in blogging.   I wasn't sure anyone had any interest in reading my blog.   The reasons could go on and on.     So why blog again now?    I finally feel I have more to say, a bigger audience,   more people to inspire.     I think it is also more therapeutic for me as I struggle with life and training in general.   

The Biggest Loser controversy over the past few days really got me thinking more about things.    For those that don't know, the winner went from 250 lbs to 105 lbs over the course of the show and has caused quite a bit of commentary, including many fearing she now has an eating disorder.   It has really made me think about society and it's "ideals".    And I have realized that "ideals" can be very different depending on who is making up the definition.     In this case, the media, general population of people watching the show have dictated "ideal" weight.   250 is too "big" but  "105"  too tiny.    Yes, I agree 155 lb loss over a matter of months is a huge change and to many people maybe extreme.   But it was a contest and she stepped up her game to win, which she did.    Only time will tell what she chooses to do with this result.    But back to my original theory.    Media portrays 250lbs as too big in America.   To sumo wrestlers,  Strongman competitors and in some cultures, that would actually be very small.   On the flip side,  many people think 105lbs is too small.    If you put her next to many of the top triathlon pros, dancers, or gymnasts  she would actually look big.   It is all in the eye of the beholder.   And unfortunately, I think the eye of the American beholder has us looking at unrealistic expectations as to the perfect body type and have many of us constantly feeling like failures as we cannot achieve these "ideals."

 The first year I raced an Ironman event, my racing weight was 128lbs.   For a 5'8 frame,  that is downright skinny.   I didn't aim for that weight,  I didn't limit food, in fact, I remember eating all the time when I was training.   I couldn't get enough food to keep the weight on during that time.  I think that my body was not used to that much exercise and I dropped weight pretty quickly.    I have gained all of it back (and more) and each year I have lost less as I think my body has gotten used to all this exercise so it doesn't seem to affect my metabolism as much.    In the world of long course triathlon fluctuating weight is pretty common.   But that isn't anything you see portrayed in the media.   Wrestling does the same thing,  there are all kinds of extreme diets and practices for these wrestlers to be able to weigh in at a certain weight class.   But there isn't a lot in the media and people don't make a big fuss about it, but I am certain there are a ton of eating disorders and extreme practices at play.    The Biggest Loser is a contest and the people on this show are out to win it.   I am sure some are trying to make some life changes as well, but ultimately it is about the money and winning on national t.v.    The changes seen are extreme but very rarely do the participants keep the weight off.    Just like me through the years, as they go back to reality, they eventually start to regain some (or all of that weight back).    I suspect this year's winner will do the same.    If she doesn't, or if she continues to lose weight, then there may be a problem.   If that time comes, though, let her family and friends worry about it.  

And where does this leave the rest of us?   I think everyone struggles with that inner weight demon.   In the triathlon world it is common practice to try to achieve the perfect  race weight.   The theory being that the lighter you are, the faster you can race.    I will admit that my first Ironman was my fastest.    I have raced a little heavier each year and I seem to be slower each year.    But each race has a different story.   In 2010 I did IMKY it was a harder course and the weather was 20 degrees hotter than it had been at IMAZ.      In 2011 I went back to IMAZ hoping for redemption.    My swim was only 2 minutes different, my bike and transitions were my fastest to date, but my run fell apart.   Hard to say why, but I don't believe my weight played a factor.   Overcoming a stress fracture that left me without running for the better part of 4 months prior to the race probably played the biggest factor,  race day nutrition, another.    And 2013 was IMLT...what can I say about it but that it was an Epic race from start to finish.   Did my weight make or break me?   Absolutely not.   The 27 degree air temps at the start,  8,000k of climbing, 6,200ft elevation made this one of the most challenging races to date.   I was happy to finish it and knew going into the race that my time would not be a fast one. 

   So now we come to 2014.    I will be racing Ironman Mont Tremblant this year.    It will be another challenging bike and run  course, and while I am not ready to share my goals yet, I do have a pretty big goal in mind for this one, although I am not expecting or aiming for a time PR.       I have been worried about the weight gain I have had in the off season.    As I write this, I am at my heaviest weight ever.    To many I probably still look very thin.    But my pants aren't fitting well,  I don't like the way my belly and butt look in the mirror and for the first time ever, my pant legs are fitting tight around my thighs.   However, I have been focusing on more strength training this year.    And I can now do 85# squats with bar and 100# deadlifts.  I was actually giggling as I did this earlier this week.    A low number for most, but considering I felt just lifting the bar a few months ago was a big challenge, I am thrilled with these numbers!   And the same thing is happening for my core workouts and arms.    So I am pretty sure at least part of this weight gain is actually muscular.   But for a person that has raced triathlon for so long, it is hard to separate the muscular weight gain from the fat and to me, I just look big right now.   My hope is that in the next phase of training that this improvement in strength will carryover with improved endurance/strength on the bike and run.

    Is there an ideal weight for me to race?  Probably.   Will I achieve it?   Probably not.    I enjoy eating all kinds of foods, some healthy, some not.   I like going out to eat socially with friends after a long run, a long bike, or just to meet up and have fun.    Most of these meals are also likely adding to my weight gain.   I am sure if I stopped eating out, stopped drinking alcohol and went to a strict whole food diet, I could lose the weight and be at a better "racing weight."    But at what end?   I know that because of my genetics, asthma history, etc.  I will never be a competitive racer.    I am sure that I could have better times, but it will still put me at the mid or bottom of my age group.   I race because I enjoy the training.   I race because I enjoy the race itself.    Food of all type makes me happy.   As I struggle with negative body image thoughts, I have to be realistic about things too.     

So as I get depressed about how I (feel) look, I try to also remember everything I can do with this body and focus on the positive.     I am not sure I will ever be happy with how my body 40 years of age, I can never remember being happy with any phase of how my body has  looked.   But,  I can be happy about everything my body can do.    And right now,  I am pretty pleased with the fact that I can say I am a 4 time Ironman.    My body, no matter how much it has weighed, has gotten me the nickname IronAnn, a name I am incredibly proud to wear.