#wednesdaywordwisdom 10/11/16

Serenity... the exact opposite of what we usually try to create.

Serenity. 

Calm

Peaceful

Tranquil.

I teach exercise for a living. I coach 40+ kids. I live in a world that is ANYTHING but serene. 

Yet, I crave those moments. 

Serenity in the quiet moments before the world is awake… or after the world has gone to bed. Serenity on trail run through the woods in the autumn months. Serenity on the beach with some relaxing music, soaking in the sun. 

I believe it’s a necessary part of life

Serenity is a necessary part of our existence. We must have the calm to grow, to change, to be timeless. 

Without rest, muscles never fully grow. Without sleep, our bodies are not recharged and break down. Without serenity, our minds are a chaotic trap, unable to function at full capacity

And don’t we create chaos? 

We are plugged in. Engaged. Multitaskers. And shamed if we don’t live that way. 

But without that serene disconnect and quiet, we simply cannot function at full capacity.

Embrace moments of serenity.

Be restored.

 

How do you create chaos in your life? How about serenity? What can you do today to spend five minutes in a serene environment? 

Try, Try, TRI Again… Part 4

The true heart of strength and determination.

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Race morning started with a swim in Mirror Lake, probably the most scenic lake I have ever been in. I swam, without panic, for 2.4 miles in what can only be described as an underwater kickboxing match with 2500 of my closest friends. But I was ready, I had learned to be okay with the crazy water starts, the people, the fear.  And I was calm as could be, I knew I could do it. And I did, one of my most amazing memories is finishing that swim, 2.4 miles, 1 hour 40 minutes. 

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I ran from the swim to transition, Jim cheering, everyone cheering, I felt like a rock star.imlp-swim-exit-2016-copy
I got in and out of transition and was ready for the bike. The Lake Placid bike is a bit of a beast, you end up climbing between 6000 and 7000 feet over the course of the 112 miles, most of that between mile 40 – 56 and 96 – 112.

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I had an amazing first 40 miles, I was exactly where I wanted to be mph and cadence wise. I was feeling amazing, it was great. And then something unexpected happened, I dropped a FULL bottle of my liquid nutrition. I had a choice of stopping and picking it up or to keep going with a 12 mile climb ahead. I chose to keep going. I climbed and climbed and climbed and made it back to special needs, grabbed my two other bottles of nutrition and drank a mini bottle of Coke. I pulled my bike out of special needs and was just about to go when tunnel vision set in, I was dizzy and the world started to spin, I knew I was going go down. I yelled to the nearest volunteer that I was going to faint and she grabbed my bike, I dismounted and feel to the ground, the called a medic and four other volunteers surrounded me to give me shade. I never lot consciousness but sat there for 10 minutes until the spinning stopped. I felt better and jumped back on my bike. I saw Jim at mile 56 told him what happened and let him know it was going to be a long second half. 2 miles into the second loop my legs started cramping, I have never had cramps before in my life, one cramp was so bad it straighten my leg. 

 

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 I downed as much nutrition and electrolytes that I could, by mile 62 I was feeling better. My foot was numb with pain but I kept on going. At mile 80(ish) there is a hill you climb, and things went downhill health wise. My legs cramped more and more and I eventually had to get off my bike and walk so that I could keep them moving. I got back on the bike and kept on moving. Up and up and up I went, my legs cramping and my mind shut down. I don’t really remember much of what I was saying to myself other than, yes you hurt, but are you trying your hardest. At mile 110 I knew I was not going to make the time cut off. I rolled into the bike dismount area 5 minutes too late (you have until 5:30 pm to get your bike in). My dear friend who battled the last 30 miles with me had finished just ahead of me, at 5:31:30. The officials said sorry and removed my timing chip. My day was over, I officially received a DNF.  

I always thought that it would be the end of me if I got a DNF, Did Not Finish. Three little words that I thought would define me, but they didn’t, it wasn’t that I did not finish, it was that I did not fuel. There was a mistake, and if I could take it back I would. But I cannot dwell on that. On July 26th I posted the following on Facebook in a very public display of my incomplete Ironman; 

DNF…in race speak means did not finish. For me, DNF means Did Not Fail. The finish line is the end of an ironman journey, clearly after missing the bike cut off by five minutes, my journey was not supposed to end here in Placid. For anyone who cares I made it 114.4 miles total on Sunday, that is a long way, just saying. I would like to thank everyone for their kind words after my race ended, I needed them and appreciated everyone who took the time to message me. Onward to recovery!

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 I did not finish my Ironman, I did not make the time cut off, I did not finish my journey, but I tried my hardest, I put the best me out there, I left all of me on the course. This crazy journey I have been on is not one that ends with the glory, but it is one that ends knowing “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” And that is exactly what I plan to do, try again tomorrow. And with this new journey I will grow, I will learn, I will celebrate everything that makes me who I am, I will try again, I will work harder, I will love me. I tri to beat depression, and though it is still there somewhere I have learned the confidence and the skills I need to help me out of so many different situations, so many different hardships, so many different painful moments. I have learned that it is okay to be proud, it is okay to be sad, it is okay to be me. I am so happy with my time at Ironman and I am truly excited to go up and cheer for Amanda as she tackles that beast!

 

I want to personally thank Michelle for sharing her story!! I’m excited to have her as a supporter in my corner and as a fellow triathlete and a new member to my team of fitness inspirations and coaches. Thank you Michelle for being brave, for inspiring, and for being willing to share your story and tri, tri, tri again. 

Try, Try, TRI Again… Part 3

The journey to IRONMAN.

July of 2015 I registered for Ironman Lake Placid (IMLP), the race date was July 24th, 2016, and I was going be ready. I trained for 9 months for IMLP, and the journey was so much more than I bargained for. I did countless long rides on the trainer because of the weather, I did countless outdoor long solo rides, I got chased by dogs, I fell off my bike, I cried, I hurt, I ran, I walked, I swam until all I could smell everyday was the pool.  I learned about nutrition, I learned about self-reliance, I learned to suck it up, I learned to not worry about the next minute, I learned to be strong, I learned to be present, I learned that I love who I am . I grew confident in myself again, I still had a hole in me from Syracuse, but I was starting to learn that the race is the finish line of one of the most beautiful journeys for the soul, and sometimes the journey was more important than the finish line.  My husband and I did a self supported 70.3 during training (well a 72.4 actually), we named it the Pioman 70.3, we spent the entire day swimming, biking, and running together. It was a long journey, it was a great day, and I finally felt like I could do ANYTHING. I had never felt so strong, both emotionally and physically.  

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Two weeks after the Pioman I became injured, a groin strain that was preventing me from running. I spent two weeks doing nothing but strength, no swimming, no biking, no running. I was an emotional wreck. I went from the strongest I had ever felt to the worse I have felt in years in a matter of days. Day after day I got up, stretched and worked on strength. After two weeks of feeling like giving up (I even printed up the Ironman refund forms), I sent the following to a dear friend, “going to keep training as long as my knee stops hurting on the bike, I’m going out swinging”. I had pulled myself back from the deep abyss, I had to get up and try again, I had to motivate myself and become dedicated to my journey. I learned that things are not going to be pretty all the time, things are going to be harder than I ever thought they could be, and I had to keep on going. All of my years of training had payed off, not with physical strength but with the knowledge that I can overcome anything as long as I get up and try again. 

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I stretch for two weeks, every day, I didn’t run, I stretched. I did bike and swim, and those were good, but running was out of the question. My doctor told me if I wanted to do Ironman Lake Placid I had to walk the entire run at my practice race, the Syracuse 70.3 (yes I was going back for more). Approaching race day I was ready for whatever was in store, I knew I could swim and bike, and that the run was going to be what it was. The weather forecast was not predicting any thunderstorms for the race, they were predicting 90 degree weather. I spent three days hydrating for the race, literally I couldn’t stop peeing. Race day was upon us, I was so excited for the swim, I had done so much mental training and so much open water work I knew KNEW I would not panic. The gun went off for my wave at 7:54:00 AM, I dove in and started my un-panicked swim, and my goggles filled with water. I stopped, emptied them out and tried again. The filled again. I adjusted them dove in, they filled again. I stopped, grabbed a kayak and tightened them, again they filled. At this point I had gone 100 yards in four minutes, and I knew I needed to get moving. I dove back in, again they filled, again I fixed them. Another 100 yards, another 4 minutes. A participant only gets 1 hour and 10 minutes to complete the swim at an Ironman 70.3, at this rate I was going to DNF (did not finish, my biggest fear) out on the swim course. I fixed my goggles three more times, I was maybe 400 yards from the start before they stopped leaking. I swam my heart out to make it in time. I finished the swim in 54 minutes. There is a greater story here than just the fact that I finished the swim, I remained calm and collected. I knew what I needed to do and I did it. I kept telling myself to try again and see if it worked and if it didn’t I would figure something out (backstroke started to look appealing at one point), but I just kept trying, I didn’t quit, and I didn’t panic because I knew that would not help me. This was my race, this was my moment and I needed to rely on me, and I came through in the end. 

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They had changed the bike course for Syracuse, making it harder (than the previously hard course). There were many downhills followed by immediate sharp lefts, followed by an uphill. I struggled, I will not say I had a great day out there, I didn’t but in the end I finished the bike. I gave it my all, because I knew the run was going to take me a long time. Off the bike and onto the run I walked with a purpose, I didn’t dawdle, I had 3 hours and 12 minutes to walk 13.1 miles. I won’t go into how hilly the course is but I will say that a mountain goat would be winded by the end. I saw Jim on the course several times, at one point when I saw him I had 7 miles left to go and 1.5 hours left before I would receive a DNF. I was on the verge of tears and yelled to him that I didn’t know if I could make it. He told me to go, just go, and gave me a high five (which I may or may not have missed). At that point I stopped with the self pity, the bemoaning about how hard this was and how all I wanted to do was run, this was my race. MINE. In that moment I realized what mattered, finishing, not when I finished. This was my race and as long as I finished it trying my hardest with the cards that were dealt to me then I could hold my head high. All of the try again tomorrows, came down to I will try now, I will try in this moment, I will do what I need to in order to finish this race, because that is the only thing that matters. 

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8 hours and 28 minutes after my day began I crossed the finish line. I eeked in a finish 2 minutes before I would have received an official DNF for the race. I had beaten the beast within, and I was proud. And I moved forward, onward to IMLP, I had five weeks to race day and I was determined that I would conquer that course. I spent the remaining 5 weeks training and tapering, dreaming of my big day. I was never super nervous, I was excited and stressed. I had spent so long training for this day, I just wanted to finish, to hear “Michelle Jeitler you are an IRONMAN”. I dreamed about it, I thought about it, I willed it to be, I worked for it. So race week arrived EEEEK!

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We were scheduled to drive half way to Lake Placid the Wednesday before the race, I opened my eyes at 6:30 that morning and knew there was a problem. I ran RAN to the bathroom and looked in the mirror, both of my eyes were red, watery and puffy. My heart sank. I ran back into the bedroom and told Jim I had to go to urgent care, I had pink eye. My eyes hurt to blink, hurt to close, hurt to keep open, and don’t even get me started with the pain sunlight caused. At 8:20 that morning I was informed by a really nice doctor that I had allergy conjunctivitis, I received a steroid shot in the hip and a histamine for my eyes. She suggested I go to my eye doctor immediately, I scheduled a 10 AM appointment at the eye doctor and had Urgent Care call my prescription in. I went to the eye doctor and she confirmed a case of allergy conjunctivitis, gave me a steroid/antibiotic prescription and sent me on my way.  We knew we were not leaving Wednesday, I couldn’t be in the car with my eyes that way so we decided to leave the next morning. Thursday morning I woke up, looked at my eyes which looked 100 time better, but I had some really thick mucus crusty stuff all around them, we were leaving before the eye doctor opened so I decided I would go and call her from the road. We made it one hour outside of Marietta and I called, I was not expecting the response I got, to go immediately to a doctor. So I cried, we pulled over and found an urgent care facility near us and off I went to my third doctor. I ended up getting a prescription for a stronger antibiotic. We picked up the prescription and off I went, all three eye droppers in tow. 

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 We arrived in Lake Placid late Thursday, and I was ready. I had spent over 221 hours since January of 2016 training for this moment. That works out to a little over 31 hours a month training. I logged over 1500 miles, with over 203 activities in order to train for this race. I had ridden every hill I could find. I had overcome so much, and this was going to be my day, the day when the finish approaches and all of my work, my mental training days, all the time I spent away from my friends and family would pay off.  I was ready, I was strong, I was going to be an Ironman. 

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#wednesdaywordwisdom 9/28/16

The power of living without fear...

FEARLESS

The word in and of itself looks powerful. It’s the act of being without fear; it’s an act of total bravery, without hesitation

It’s the soldier charging across enemy lines. It’s the first jump out of an airplane. It’s the fireman running into a burning building when all others are running away from the fire. 

But, it’s so much more.

It’s the subtle, every day occurrences that happen that we forget require courage. It’s saying “I love you” for the first time… even after heartbreak. It’s standing up for your beliefs… even when all your friends don’t agree. It’s letting a child grow up… even in an age of evil on every corner. It’s walking in to an exercise class for the first time… even if you’ve never exercised before. It’s believing in your plan for health and wellness… even if that means stepping outside of the popular trends. 

Perfect love casts out fear.

It starts with us. We must love ourselves. We cannot love others if we don’t first love ourselves. We cannot live fearless if we do not love ourselves. I say this from first hand experience. I know what it is to hate myself- to hate my body, to hate the person I was, and to completely self loathe. I know what it is like to live a slave to fear- to be held captive by perfectionism. The desire to be so right that I limited my potential and success due to fear of failure, of others perception of me, and a fear of losing physical appeal. 

Then I learned to love…

It started with me. I learned to love me. My faith brought me to love whom I was created to be and how I was created, fearfully and wonderfully made. And then I learned to love others. And my love spread. It spread to strangers. To enemies. But it started with me. I learned to nourish and thrive. I stopped depriving and starving. I began to rest and practice self-care. I set healthy boundaries. 

Self-love enabled me to live fearless. 

We so often self-sabatoge. We are our own worst enemies. We limit ourselves. We live in fear. But there is freedom in living fearless. Imagine your life without fear- fear of failure or acceptance or a number on a scale. Imagine loving yourself so much, you fearlessly conquer any obstacle on your journey to become your best self. You, my friend, are worthy of this life. Be free from fear. It starts with you… 

Live Fearless.

 

Try, Try, TRI again… Part 2

The early triathlon stories...

Continued from last week, Michelle’s amazing journey…

September 2014, I completed the Portage lakes triathlon in 2 hours and 2 minutes. I would like to say that the whole day was flawless, no panic attacks, no bike mishaps, no walking. But I would be lying to you, I panicked on the swim, backstroked and breast stroked by way through the event, swearing up and down I would never do this again. By the time I made it out of the water and up the hill I had told myself that I would try again. I biked the hilly course, smiling the entire way, I just kept thinking oh my gosh you are doing this, you are doing a triathlon. portage-lakes-2014-bike-exit-my-first-triWe will skip over the ending of the bike where I forgot my feet were in pedal cages and I almost went down at the dismount line! The run course was wooded trail run, and at the end I popped out of the woods and headed toward the finish line, my husband ran the last 50 yards screaming his head off about how proud he was. Best.Moment.Ever. Not that I had made my husband proud, oh yes that gave me the warm fuzzies, but I had done something for me and on my own. I was so proud I finished, I cried. 

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And then it happened, I had gained so much confidence because I learned how to swim and I learned how to road bike that emotionally I began to tri to beat depression. Right then and there, leaving my first triathlon I knew I was destined to finish an Ironman! October 2014 I registered for Ironman Syracuse 70.3 (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run), which was taking place in June 2015. I trained diligently for 6 months, I became a better swimmer, I became a better biker and well I was still the same old runner. After all my training, all of my open water swims, all of my tip overs on my bike, all of the days I spent running in the heat, all of the times I had to say to myself to try again tomorrow, my moment was here. I remember standing on the beach the day before I looked out at the line of swim buoys and said well heck that is a long way to swim. I reeled myself back in, telling myself to be present in the moment and just tri. I had learned through training that I couldn’t worry about getting up the next hill before I finished the one I was on, I needed to be present, I needed to be in the mile I am in.  The day of the race we got to transition early, I was so nervous, I was so excited, I was so scared. I lined up with my age group and at 8:04:00 we were off, and I panicked. Oh boy did I panic. I backstroked the first five bouys and had to count every stroke after I put my head back in the water. 1, 2, 3, 4, breathe, 1,2, 3, 4, breathe. I was a mess, again I said why the heck am I doing this, but half way through I calmed down, and just relaxed, I stopped worrying about what was next and just swam. The swim ended, I got out of the water, and started running to the bike. 

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I transitioned and got on my bike, it was a hilly course but I was ready. I finished faster than I expected. Again, I will remind you I am consistent not speedy. My heart was exploding with pride. I hit the run course and realized things were not going to be easy (not that 13.1 miles is easy in any way shape or form) the course was  a two loop run with 900 feet of elevation gain. I walked the up hills, ran the downs and met some wonderful people. I was on course to finish in around 7 hours and 30 minutes. Three miles in the weather had turned bad, it was windy and the rain started coming down. At the first turn around the thunder started, I passed the turn around and started back toward the six mile turn around, then I started hearing the other participants talking about how they were shutting the run course down due to bad weather. My mind blocked all of that out and I kept moving forward, focused on the mile I was in. Then I saw Jim and I knew the reality of the situation. It was my first 70.3 and I was not going to finish all 70.3 miles. Ironman shut the course down, I was close enough to the finish line to have them divert me to the finish instead of the 6 mile turn around. I crossed the finish line, they gave me a medal and a finishers hat, I had completed 64.4 miles and 6 hours and 24 minutes.

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I was devastated, I had worked so hard, I felt like a failure. The voice came back, you are not good enough, you should have even tried, and you are just not meant to do these things. I know, I know, things were beyond my control and the race director did what they thought was best for safety, but boy did it suck. I cried, I allowed myself a week to mourn the loss of the big finish, and then I got up and tried again. 

 

To be continued next Monday….