Monday, March 21, 2016

Checking out The Oprah & Deepak 21 Day Meditation Experience

My first time doing Yoga 2011 with Cynthia 

There are a few things I've been saying to myself I need to do for years and kind of never achieve for one reason or another. As annoying as it is to keep trying and failing at some of these things, I'm a big believer in never giving up.

The "I should will do list" includes:

1. Strength train more.
2. Consistently drink 8 glasses of water a day.
3. Take daily vitamin.
4. Yoga
5. Meditation

Just writing this list out has just made me refill my glass of water and pop a vitamin so there's that - so far so good!

The one thing I've never actually have given a good try to though is meditation. I've read in many a self-help book how powerful and transformative meditating can be but just never knew where to start.

About a week ago, my friend Cynthia sent me this link. (Cynthia is also the first person to teach me some yoga moves.) The link is for "The Oprah & Deepak 21-Day Meditation Experience." I didn't even think twice about it at first. I knew I should try meditation but, really, who has time? And like yoga and strength training, I would probably not really follow through on it anyway. But still, something about it made me click the link and I signed up. (It's free, so why not?)

Today was day one. Today's centering thought was: "My struggle has ended. I am in harmony with myself" and the mantra was: Om Laghu Bhavam. Of course half way through, my mind wandered for all of 5 seconds and I couldn't quite remember the mantra or the centering thought but I did my best. By the way,"Om Laghu Bhavam" means "I am lightness itself" which I forgot as soon as Deepak said it and just had to re-look it up for this blog post. Oy. I mean, Om. 

The centering thought really resonated with me. "My struggle has ended. I am in harmony with myself." I've been struggling with the scale. Ironically, I feel strong, healthy and a recent physical has proven that my healthy eating and consistent running has me in optimal health. But. I'm still up about 13 pounds from my goal weight and the A student in me is on fire about it. And I've been frustrated because I've been following the Weight Watchers Program to the "T." Dutifully weighing and measuring my food and logging it. I actually enjoy the process of all of that. I adore the women in my meeting and my leader, and I personally do much better when I'm following a regiment vs just "winging it." Yet the scale barely budges. If the scale didn't matter I'd be very happy, but the scale does matter in a way, and I've allowed it to get the best of me lately.

The centering thought has me rethinking the scale though. I am happy. I am in harmony with myself. I am strong and healthy, I have so much to be grateful for and everyday I want to wake up and thank the universe for my strong healthy body. It's such a blessing to be able to run! To move! To not be on medication to not face disease because of poor habits. So I'm ending my struggle with the scale. My body might want to be healthy at this weight or something will kick in at some point but either way, I am going to believe that I am in harmony with myself.  I will continue to go to WW because I love the friendship and it provides me the tools and balance I need to keep moving forward but I'm truly going to work at letting go of the numbers. 

This 21 day meditation journey is literally about "shedding weight" in every sense of the word. Most importantly the heavy stuff weighing on your heart, soul and mind. Who can't use a little lightening up? 

By the way, shortly after my first time meditating this morning, as if to confirm that I am on the right path, I saw this NY Times Article, Meditation Plus Running as a Treatment for Depression pop up on my FB newsfeed. Running has definitely helped to ease my depression so this was a particularly interesting read for me. 

I'm pretty sure you can still sign up for The Oprah & Deepak 21-Day Meditation Experience if you want to give it a shot. If you do, let me know what you think!

Have you ever meditated before? What are your thoughts? 

XO 
Jen

PS: I'm still raising money for Autism by running the NYC Marathon this November. I have a goal of $3000 and it's going to take a lot of help to get there! If you are so moved, please consider supporting the cause - You can donate here: https://www.crowdrise.com/OrgforAutismResearchNYC2016/fundraiser/jenniferroe2

PSS: If you want to check out the cool, FREE From Fat to Finish Line Running App click here to sign up to get on the list! I promise it's not going to be your average running app :) 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Start Spreading the News I'm running the NYC Marathon again!

Pre-run selfie with my pink NYC marathon hat

It was that day of the year again. The day of refreshing email, calling the credit card for "latest activity" and stalking the New York Road Runners page for any and all updates regarding the TCS New York City Marathon lottery. Honestly, I wasn't quite as obsessed this year. I was actually OK with the idea of not getting in. There is sooooo much going on with the From Fat to Finish Line film release coming this year, and building the From Fat to Finish Line app and business - I figured time to train for a marathon would be ridiculous, so if I don't get in, all is fine. Right?

Er. Well.

Then this email came through:

Whadda ya mean I didn't get selected!?
And somehow, despite being "totally OK with not getting in" and actually "totally OK with never running another marathon ever again," I got bummed. 

So I had some wine. Not a lot. But enough. And after finding out Angela was going to run it (my BFF and biz partner) AND finding out that Ann my training and running buddy from last year got in. Well...

Let's just put it this way. Some people drunk text, some drunk Facebook. Me? I drunk sign up to run 26.2 miles for charity. 

I began researching my different options for all of the different charities. I knew I wanted to raise money for autism and after careful consideration, I confidently chose "Run For Autism" For OAR (Organization for Autism Research). I looked them up on Charity Navigator and not only did they have a good rating but after reading about their missions and work, I had a deep desire to run for them. As you might know, I have an autistic son and while we've had our challenges I'm very, very lucky. I have amazing resources and services available for him. Not all families are so lucky. I have been feeling this need to give back and I'm proud to be able to do so for OAR. 

It's exciting to be on another running journey. I never really wanted to fundraise. I hate asking people for money and I have to raise a lot - $3000. But this is different. I want to fundraise for these folks. They are a smaller organization making big differences for people like my son and my family. So the only thing that stands between me and this finish line is 26.2 miles and $3000 - piece of cake! ;) 


Have you ever raised money for a charity through running? 

XO
Jen

PS: Hey! By the way, if you want to sign up early for our FREE From Fat to Finish Line App - CLICK HERE to get on the list! 




Wednesday, February 24, 2016

From Fat to Finish Line the Continually Amazing Journey

Hello all -

It's been a few months since my last big race The New York City Marathon and I haven't really blogged since.

I thought I would just check in and let ya all know what's been going down.

Week after NYC marathon ran the Vegas Rock N Roll Half.  Cool Race
(left to right - Carly, Angela, Michele and me - all wearing cool team FFTFL shirts!)


ON THE PERSONAL FRONT:

I am still running! I'm at a nice little place in my running - getting in runs of between 2 and 4 miles most days of the week. I'm going to start training for my next race pretty soon (The NJ Half Marathon) but it's been nice not worrying about really long runs. (Though I did throw my name back into the pool for the NYC marathon so we'll see what happens.)

I am back at Weight Watchers.

I have managed to keep most of my weight off but about 20 pounds have crept back on over the course of the last few years (particularly post marathon where I continued to eat like I was training). And decided to go back because my twin was going. I figured I could support her and she could support me. Plus it's a nice way to make sure we see each other at least once a week.. I am enjoying the new program and being back in a meeting. I am an old lady at heart and look forward to 'shooting the shit' with others about healthy recipes and the highs and lows of weight loss.

I've lost a little weight and am about 12 pounds from goal.

ON THE BUSINESS FRONT:

Very exciting news. For those who don't know, I produced a documentary also called "From Fat to Finish Line" (not about me or this blog - you can read about it and see the trailer if you click the film tab above) and things are going great. The film looks so good and we landed a major distribution deal! We are wrapping up details but it seems that we'll be releasing it someplace between mid-May and mid-June 2016! I will keep you posted.



We are in the process of developing a From Fat to Finish Line app that will be geared towards runners who really like to connect with a community as they run and train. More to come on that too. Drop me an email if you want to be added to the list to try the app for free when we're testing it. If you email via the "contact me" button here, please make sure to include your email address in the body of the message or I won't be able to get back in touch with you or add you to the list.



We are also going to be doing team "From Fat to Finish Line" Races. We are working with our friends at Road Runner Sports and will be at their inaugural races which are scheduled for San Diego on July 17, Atlanta on September 10th and Phoenix on October 16th.  We are securing lots of goodies for our "FFTFL" friends and team including discount codes and special swag. You can learn more about the race series itself here. We will also have a team race at Rock N Roll Virginia Beach on Sept. 4th. If you want to be counted as a team From Fat to Finish Line person you can check out our race events here: From Fat to Finish Line Facebook group


So there's some of the scoop. I feel so blessed that my decisions to lose weight and start running took me on this path. I'm so lucky that my business partner and BFF, Angela was also a runner and saw a vision in all this. Never in my wildest dreams could I have envisioned where this journey would lead me! A movie! An app! Team races.

How are things with you? What unexpected gifts and moments has running given you?

xo
Jen


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

2015 TCS New York City Marathon Race Report: Victory


I have tried to write this post since Monday but the enormity of it all has left me at a loss to where to start.

I'm overwhelmed with gratitude that I was able to do this race.



The night before the race my friends Linda and Charlie came to stay with me (read Linda's report here). This was pretty great. Linda and I have been friends for a long time and we've dreamed of doing the TCS New York marathon together for quite a few years now. A few years ago we got to run in Central Park together for a fun run and then 2 years ago we ran the "Dash to The Finish Line" 5K that takes place the day before the marathon and ends at the same finish line. During both those runs we wondered, "what would it be like to do the big one?" And lucky for us, this year we'd find out.

I woke up at 3:45 AM excited. My running hypnotherapy worked, I felt ready for this race! I got dressed, checked the weather (yes! good weather!) and we got under way. By 5AM Linda, Charlie and I hopped the buses from the Meadowlands to head out to Staten Island. I kissed my husband and son goodbye and told them that the next time I'd see them, I would be a marathoner. 

Arriving at Athlete's village at 6AM!
We arrived at the athlete's village and the buzz in the air was awesome. Channel 7 news was set up in our village and people from around the globe were getting ready to get their "New York" on. Interestingly, I saw plenty of people catching some sleep. SLEEP!? I know we had hours to kill but I couldn't have slept if I was placed on a cloud of pillows and angels were singing lullabies in my ear! I marveled at these people who could catch a doze so close to running this epic race.

My running buddies and training partners this whole time finally arrived too! Ann, Jen and I have spent hours together doing long runs. They both were in the "Orange" village and Ann could've started earlier but we decided we wanted to run this thing together. I was excited about that. I wanted to run together too. :)

Running buddies Jen, Ann and new friend Megan chilling pre-race

So finally it was our time to head to the corral. We head on up and wait, excitement growing by the minutes and then finally... The cannon booms and we hear Sinatra crooning his iconic, "New York, New York." I choke back tears and we get going. 

The bridge was a blur and then we were in Brooklyn. Brooklyn was phenomenal and I enjoyed every minute of high-fiving kids and thanking strangers who called my name. I ran many miles trying to play "pace police" to my two running buddies, Ann and Jen who were starting off pretty fast for what our training was. I was afraid that the speed so early would burn us out. I struggled to keep up so I just did the best I could. They were having fun and I didn't want to be too much of a drag.

I think this is at the start line :) 
Around 8 miles in I spot my friend Joe Pryor! And how could I miss him - check out the sign he had for me!! This was soooooo beyond awesome I can't even tell you. I never really have spectators at races and I can't remember ever really having a sign like this. It meant the world to me that Joe and his girl Jess were out there waiting for me. It was great. I hugged him and Jess and it was just joyous. They wished me well, updated my Facebook friends and I was back on my way. 




We just kept running. Queens was fun but short and soon we were going over the Queensboro bridge into Manhattan. Manhattan was great. We ran for miles. Again, I was trailing my friends for a lot of this run but managed to keep them in sight. We'd usually catch up through aide stations and then I'd fall behind again. It was a little discouraging but we had all agreed to run our own races if we wanted to so I couldn't blame them for doing their thing. 

Jen wound up seeing a few friends along the course and her family came out for her as well! Her husband and parents looked so proud. It was really nice seeing them all :) 

Some where along the way, I've seriously lost track of miles. I have no idea how many we were in but somewhere out there things started to get tough. I'm pretty sure it was somewhere between Harlem, the Bronx and back into NYC, the legs started to feel tight. Which is fine. It's a friggen marathon - things should be hurting after running for hour upon hour. Jen began to struggle a bit too. I think the fast pace earlier was catching up. Ann was strong and powered on we soon lost sight of her and she went to finish strong on her own.

Me and Ann chugging along earlier in the race
Jen and I did a lot of walking the last miles of the race as we were running/jogging/walking/crawling up first avenue, we started to hear the police announce, "The New York City Marathon is now concluded" please move to the sidewalk - I was like, "No it's not! I'm still running!". It was now pitch dark. We were out there a long time but we kept on chugging. Jen was feeling a little bit dejected.  A jerk of a guy (liar/ahole) told us that they ran out of medals. We wondered if we would still get one. We had goals of finishing between 5:30 and 5:45 and now we were way past that. We were hurting and it was tough. I kept reminding Jen that this was a great day even though we were towards the "back of the pack", that we were doing something amazing. Personally, I wasn't concerned with time. She fretted what people who were "tracking her" might think of this time, I reminded her that if they were tracking, they weren't moving their bodies 26.2 miles like we were!! ;) I get it though. I used to worry about time too. I finally let go of that. I run because I love it. I will never win. I will never be all that fast and that's OK. I'm grateful I can move this body and celebrate running. 

With the last half mile or so we turned down the final stretch - despite night-fall, people were still out there cheering (not many but some) and I felt overwhelmed with joy and emotion. I ran proudly to the finish line. We had done it. We had set a goal, put in the training, believed in the journey and moved ourselves from Staten Island to Central Park. Our Jersey Women Strong friends had volunteered for the race and were there at the finish line. They gave us our medals, heat sheets and hugs, they wiped away my 'ugly cry' tears of joy and it was spectacular to see them there. 


the ugly cry/smile is happening, people


Crossing the finish line
It took me 6:55:59 seconds to do it. (that included 3 potty stops, lots of high-fives, one hug, a chat with Joe and a bunch of walking through water stations). It was a long day - almost 7 hours on our feet! That time was an hour more than I had anticipated but you know what - who cares? I loved this day. I fully embrace my "back of the pack" status. I'm so proud of the effort. I make no apologies for being slow. It's who I am. I could've gone faster, could've high-fived a few less kids, spent a few extra seconds not talking to Joe, skipped the potty, ran a little faster but for what? I enjoyed my time out there and took on the city the way I wanted to.  To quote another Sinatra song, "I did it My Way."

Victory with Kim from Jersey Women Strong xo


My heart is bursting with gratitude for having this day. It was so special. It was so hard. It was such a challenge and a mountain to climb. It's a finish line that has forever changed me and I'm a lucky girl to have experienced it. 

XO
Jen

Friday, October 30, 2015

NYC Marathon 2015 Getting Mentally Ready

It's two days before NYC Marathon Sunday. After years of dreaming of taking a bite out of the big apple the day is nearly here. 

At the expo

I am excited and joyous. 


Earlier this week I was nervous, freaking out and scared to death. I was seriously second guessing myself and doubt in my ability was everywhere. Every negative thing that ever happened to me during a race including this incident at the Hollywood Half and this not-so-fun time during my first marathon at the San Diego Rock N Roll flooded my brain. I was becoming a complete wreck. 

This week almost was one filled with dread and fear but I got my mind on right. 


With a little help. 



A friend Noah sent me well wishes for the race. I expressed my panic and he simply said "don't ruin this week with worry or you're gonna miss this great moment in your life."  He was 100% right. All these years of dreaming. How could I let fear steal this joy from me?



So I did something a little unconventional. I decided to see a hypnotherapist. The idea kind of came to me because I knew I needed a mental adjustment and it was an emergency, I'm not sure why I never thought of it before! I know the power of thoughts and my thoughts were threatening to make my dream race a nightmare. I've tried to get into this race for FOUR YEARS. It's my bucket list race and now I was dreading it. 



This is just too big of a deal for me to let that happen. 


Years ago, hypnotherapy helped me with quitting smoking - and somehow it popped into my head, "I wonder if it could help me with my running?" 

So I did a google search and I found a certified Hypnosis Practitioner, Mary Battaglia.  I read how she had helped a woman conquer her fears on a mountain bike. It rang very relevant to me. Maybe Mary could help me! 



So I contacted her on Monday and by Tuesday morning I was in her office. 



She helped me undo some of the mental trauma I kept playing out from the other two races and then we created a mental script for me to listen to all week. We also created affirmations for me to say several times a day. She hypnotized me and she helped to plant all these positive thoughts and feelings about the race in my head. 



It worked! It's like a miracle!! What a gift this woman gave me. I have not felt a moment of worry, fear or dread since. I've been nothing but excited, embracing and ready. And you have no idea how huge that is for me. HUGE. 




Joyfully holding my bib! See you at the finish line! :) 



If you're the type of person who worries, doubts yourself or has debilitating race day anxiety and fear - this might be something for you to consider. 



I don't know what is going to happen on Marathon Sunday but I'm ready for it. I'm excited, joyous, and ready for whatever comes my way. 



I'm no more trained than I was a week ago but my mental outlook has done a complete 180. Worrying, self-doubt, beating yourself up and playing the "what if a bad thing happens" mind game has never helped anyone. Hypnosis or not, fear and dread is nothing but a thief to your happiness. Trust me. 



I can't control what happens at this point just my reactions and attitude.



Bring on NYC. I love you New York Marathon, I love that I get to be a part of it. Dreams do come true. 



The next post I make will be one as a marathoner. 



XO

Jen

Monday, October 5, 2015

Secrets to my Running and Weight Loss Success

I feel really fortunate that I've been able to take this running journey. I started my weight loss journey in 2007, stalled and then found running in 2010. Along the way I've lost (and have mostly kept off!) a hundred pounds while logging thousands of miles.

I get many emails from friends, family and strangers who read this blog for the "secrets sauce" to my success so I figured I'd lay it out here. Most of these are not secrets per se but I've found through my own experience, in talking to others, and in research that this is a few ingredients in the recipe:

I'm in the middle of my two running buddies who keep me
on track and accountable as we train for 26.2!


1. Accountability. By far the number one thing that helped to keep me motivated was accountability. Whether I was connecting with others in a weight loss group or chatting with other runners through this blog, accountability kept me going. Athleta's Chi Blog nicely discusses this issue in their "importance of accountability" article.

2.  Running Buddies. This plays hand and hand with accountability but when you have a friend with you it makes the time go by so much faster! As I train for the NYC marathon, those long miles seem to fly by with a friend by my side. The Active Times goes more in depth on this issue in this interesting article about the benefits of working out with a friend. By the way, I must give a shout out to my running group Jersey Women Strong - I love these ladies and Dana our leader and the founder of the group has really brought us all together! Before meeting them, I ran alone but it's made all the difference finding this group. 

3.  Keeping Track. Keeping track of both my weight loss and my fitness progress kept me highly motivated and on track! If the scale was stalling I had other successes like being able to run faster or further than the week before. I'm not alone with thinking according to this NPR.Org article, tracking helps us regulate our behavior, by keeping us mindful and vigilant.

4. Having a goal. I started this blog because I took the incredulous leap of faith in signing up for a half marathon before I had even ever had run for even a minute. Having a goal forced me to make "someday" today. And because I made myself accountable by putting it in a public blog and by telling all of my friends, I felt a certain (good) pressure to keep going forward even when I wanted to quit. To this day I almost always have some kind of "outside my comfort zone" race on the calendar. It really motivates me to keep on running and training when I might otherwise use that time to sleep, shop or do anything else but workout! They say a goal is a dream with a deadline. I'm a big fan of Jack Canfield. He wrote a book called, The Success Principles. I learned about goal setting and its importance in that book and took the leap of that one big goal because of that book. I can say that putting that goal on my calendar is one of the biggest reasons for my overall success.

What are some of the factors that help you succeed?

XO
Jen

Monday, August 17, 2015

Challenge Pocono Mountain Race Review: Olympic Triathlon OMG

Hello all --


Sorry it's been a while since I've last posted. So much has been going on. 


I've started training for the NYC marathon, competed in a local sprint triathlon a few weeks ago and have been going through the summer training for the Challenge America Pocono Mountain OLY triathlon. Which was yesterday. And boy what a shit show. 


This gets slightly ugly so go get comfortable and something to drink because this is going to be a helluva read. 



day before the storm
First of all, I've been struggling with biking and getting used to the damn "clip-less" pedals - (clip-less pedals means your bike shoes actually clips into the pedal and you and the bike are one. Don't ask me why they are called "clip-less") Anyhow, so I keep falling over in them and am having trouble getting used to them. So on Saturday, during a practice ride, I literally broke down and started crying over these damn shoes because I feel so awkward and klutzy in them. I felt paralyzed to even 'kick off' and get going. I was seriously freaking out. It took me 20 minutes just to start. The most terrifying part of them is stopping and getting out. that's when the falls happen. But I figured for the race I would just have to unclip once - at the end, so essentially once I got going I would only have to maybe fall once. This is relevant information for later in this blog. I considered switching the pedals out to the old fashioned flat kind but that's really not a great idea on the kinds of "hills" we were going to be doing on the course. 


Let's get on to the race.



In spite of the nervous breakdown about the pedals (and fears about feet and leg cramps in the water - which I'm prone to get) I'm feeling pretty excited about the day. All I have to do is not drown or crash and I think I'll be OK.  I spring from bed at 4:15 AM and prepare to 'be great' as my friend Travis would say. 

THE SWIM - .9 miles



The swim start got delayed because of fog. They told us at the pre-race meeting that they might have to cut the swim short because of logistics of closing the roads to traffic if a foggy morning delayed the race. They also told us that the swim cut-off was 1hour.



Well, we finally get in the water and this swim was HARD but I was determined. Like trout we had to swim against the current but unlike trout, I'm not a very strong swimmer and made the stupid error of not wearing a full wetsuit because I feared being too warm. I wore a "shorty" instead that was sleeveless and cut off above the knee. Once at the race, I realized that 99% of the field had traditional long wetsuits on and I had learned that a 'shorty' was less buoyant and effective. Terrific. 



The water felt good and was clean and clear - I could see straight to the bottom. Which made me realize how hard the swim was. At one point I was looking down at the same rock for what seemed like ten minutes. I was "swimming" but the current had me essentially standing still! No bueno!



For time perspective, last year I did an OLY Triathlon, untrained, stopping every 10 strokes to rest and having 0 swim technique and I was able to finish the swim in 53 minutes. This year I've actually trained AND had some solid swim lessons with great triathlon coaches. I am still far from fast and still have a lot to learn but theoretically, I should be MUCH stronger than a year ago. 

This swim was crazy (for me). It took me 45 minutes to get to the turn around point but once we make the turn the current would be on our side but we still had issues. 

First of all, I had to go around this little yellow-minion looking buoy. Apparently that buoy became "unhooked" and started floating away in the current so the more I tried to get around it, the more I was "literally" getting run over by it and it kept getting further away. It was nuts. Then I got around that thing and I was in shallow water that was filled with what seemed like a "field of grass." So I'm trying to swim thru this field of grass and literally these strands of grass is grabbing me and smacking me in the face. holy crap. a volunteer told me if I wanted to get away from the field of grass that I should move towards the center of the river - the only problem with that was the buoy was straight ahead so I would have to add more time onto my swim to swim out to the middle of the river only to swim back to that buoy.

Anyway, at about 55 minutes in and with the swim finish in sight, I was informed that I had two options: Jump on a boat and get brought back into shore - and be able to continue the day - or finish the swim but not be allowed to bike and run. THIS WAS A HUGE BUMMER!!  I wanted to finish that swim but myself, along with 8 other women, decided that the boat in and getting to do the bike and run was better than ending the day with the swim so we did that. Two women (ironically both friends of mine) both decided to finish the swim. 

Now to be fair - strong swimmers didn't seem to have too much trouble but as still a newer swimmer this was challenging for me. I had done more than a mile in under an hour a few times so I believed I could make this cut off. Apparently I was wrong. On the other hand, there was a woman on the boat who said she had done 2 half IM and that this was tougher than those swims. Who knows... All I know is it sucked. :/

OK, so I get on the boat. I'm scared shitless about the bike and am still pretty new to this triathlon thing. We get off the boat and there's an announcement "You have One minute and 30 seconds to get out of transition or you can't go out!" Whhhhhhhhhhat!! I'm a shitty triathlete. I'm scared on the bike, I need to eat a banana, get this stupid wetsuit off, put on socks, GET MY SHIT TOGETHER after swimming for almost an hour... All this is going through my head and then I hear, "ONE MINUTE!" So choice words are flying out of my mouth at record speed and I skip eating, skip my sunscreen, skip drying my feet, slap my socks on, crookedly put on my helmet and I'm shaking as I'm trying to get out of transition, "TWENTY SECONDS!" And I run out of transition to the mount line. I'm out. But I'm a f--king mess. 

So I stick the shoes on and gobble down a nutrition packet and sit there paralyzed as I try to get the strength to start biking. I'm now thinking, maybe I should've just finished the swim. I'm last one out and feeling scared to death. This is not an easy course. The bike is challenging. It's in the freakin' mountains for the love of God. What an idiot I am to be doing this race....

Anyway. The Bike: 24 miles of hell 

While I'm stalling my start I see an athletic girl on a bike next to me, also seemingly stalling - was she on the boat? I didn't know. She had a fancy Quitana Roo bike. I was wondering why she was still just procrastinating too but didn't give it much thought because I was out of sorts and scared to death.

I'm a way worse biker than swimmer and we know how the swim went...

Finally, I push off. I start going. And this QR bike girl starts riding behind me. And then she just starts chatting. "How are you feeling?" "How was your swim?" I don't even know what she's saying. Or why she's chatting with me but I'm OK with a friend on the journey. Why not? But then it hits me. The Challenge America team kit, the real tri bike, her sick triathlete body... Wait a second!?  Are you out here just for me? The last person out?

She smiled and said something to the effect of "Yes, I love being out here with the last person..." I'm not quite sure of the exact words but it was something like that. 

BUT SHIIIIT! Don't get me wrong I was happy for the company - but the f'ing race people sent a chaperone for me!! I'm trying to do a triathlon and now I have a nanny in tow!! Kill me now. Who gets a babysitter during a race?? I know I'm not fast but it feels, I don't know. But I push aside my pride. I suck at the bike and truthfully I'm far more happy for the company than insulted at this point.

AND thank God she was there. The first four miles of this course is CRAZY. Warning. If you haven't trained on hills and don't feel like you're a great biker, you probably want to reconsider signing up for a race with the word "mountains" in it. Just sayin'

I'm maybe a mile into the ride when we get to our first insane climb. And I can't. get. up. the. hill. I wind up almost falling off the bike but manage instead to unclip and get a foot down. On a hill. Well shit. No way I'm getting back in the clips now. So I have to clop, clop, clop, walk, walk, walk up this dumb hill. Talk about feeling defeated. We've got 23 miles to go. How the hell am I going to do this when I'm already failing at this bike thing? UGH. Shit. Now I'm starting to doubt that I have it in me to do this. I really was panicked and overwhelmed. I never wanted to quit something so bad in my life.

But those race people knew what they were doing when they sent Carmel (the name of my triathlon Nanny) out to stick with me. I think I would've quit if she wasn't there. She unclipped and walked her bike with me - chatting, smiling, encouraging me to not give up. I apologized, I worried, I told her I wanted to quit. She reminded me of what's written on the back of my shirt which said, "The greatest pleasure is doing what people say you cannot do." I had no idea that was on the back of my shirt. HA.  Carmel was great. 

So we got up that hill and rode some smaller hills and technical turns and bumpy roads - all pretty tough for me. We just kept going. And then we hit another killer hill. I tried to climb it again and again I nearly fell but managed to unclip in time to not fall. And clop, clop, clop, walked up a freaking hill again!! This was not going well.  22 miles to go. This is going to be a long day. Ugh. All the while I'm still having a heart attack about the shoes. So we keep going and going and then around mile 5 or 6 we get onto a regular road - this road was good. Some 'rolling' inclines but nothing crazy. 

So I was starting to feel a little bit better and then mile 10 hits. Almost half way there! Carmel rolls up next to me and says, "Listen, you're doing well. I'm going to remember your number and look you up and expect to see you got to the end of this thing. You go finish now." And my babysitter left. I was sad to see her go. It was me, the road, and all the bad ass triathletes coming back from their HALF distance races. So at least I wasn't alone, even if I was one of the last OLYs out there. There was one OLY girl still out there too. She had to walk up the hills too. At this point she was behind me. 

As I'm riding back on the regular road, somehow I managed to run over an already dead possum. That wasn't pleasant. 

And then I had to go back to those shitty hills. Tons of work, around mile 20 I hit the hill that about killed me. I couldn't get up this one either and tried to unclip to stop but fell over on my left instead. With the bike on top of me I just curled up in a heap on the ground. I felt like that poor possum. Dead and then ran over again. I grabbed my water bottle, and hydrated. I was so, so, so tired and drained. I didn't want to go back on that bike again. I didn't even want to stand up. I wanted to sell my dumb bike on Craigslist at that very moment and uber my sorry bike-riding ass to the nearest diner. But USAT rules disallows cell phones on the course so no uber. I was very, very done. I sat there between wanting to cry, nap and quit for a full 20 minutes. 70.3'ers passing by and offering help, aid, whatever I needed (thank you triathletes!) but I just wanted to lay there and have death come and take me away. Death never came. If I had my running shoes with me I would've just walked my bike back. I had ZERO desire to get back on. 

Finally I stand up and I know that only four miles is between me and ending this shit show. So I go to get on my bike and my chain has dropped. Under normal circumstances I can get this thing remedied, but with no where to balance my bike and drained from five hundred hours of climbing and 200 hours of swimming and 90 degrees of heat, I have no idea what to do. 

And then, as if on cue, a truck (the only vehicle I've seen on the course all day) pulls up. It's the bike mechanic. He asks me if I need help and he fixed my chain in 5 seconds. 

Ok then. No excuses. I hop back on the bike. It's still tough but the super hard stuff is behind me. I do the best I can to use the downhills and flats to gain the speed to get momentum to go up the hills and manage to get thru a few tough hills without having to get off the bike. 

FINALLY, I turn into the final little part to get off this bike! That bike ride was probably the very hardest thing I've ever done in my entire life. hands down. I was spent. 

Screaming at my best friend Angela that this ride was Bullsh!t

But I was super relieved! I didn't die and now I get to run! (or walk or crawl but I was pretty sure I wouldn't die.) 

Still giving Angela the stink eye in T2 over that ride
And off on the run I go... Just 6.2 miles keeping me from the finish line!

Out to run!
So I'm happy to be running but it's hard and hot. It's fine. I'm slow, I have to walk, I have to douse myself in ice but I just have to keep moving.

And moving, and moving.

It's on a gorgeous trail but that was really challenging too! Nothing easy about this race. there were a few very steep declines and inclines. I was cramping in my quads but still able to keep moving. So I just kept moving. 

Finally the end was near! 

And I turn the corner to see my son and husband! They were so excited to see me. My son chanted "Momma, Momma, Momma!" and it was awesome. 

hubby and son running to get to finish line as I turned corner
pictures are all courteous of bff Angela Lee 
My son decided to race me down the shoot (instead of crossing with me) - he won and proudly told me, "I won and you lost!" and crossing that finish line was the best losing I did all day. 

First smile all day! Ha! He might've won but I got the medal
Another proud picture:


After all that I looked up the results - out of the 8 in my (Athena) division a bunch quit the bike ride, or decided not to run at all. I actually "kind of" wound up placing 3rd. (I say kind of because next to my name, sadly, I have a DNF - which I assume is because I had to be pulled from the water.  And except for the last part of that swim I DID FINISH. I finished when I wanted to quit that first mile of the bike. It's a BUMMER. But I know I gave it all my heart so I am going to have to be OK with that little DNF next to my name.)  I also later learned that a bunch of even seasoned athletes had very tough time on the hills, a few also had to walk the hills and there were a few crashes and curses besides mine. 

I know this is very long but a few last words. The race people were great. Carmel was awesome. The race itself was well-run. I loved being there even though this was very, very hard for me. I may have reached too big for where my training was at. Although there was lots of cursing and tears, a sore day later I'm happy I did it. I'm proud I didn't quit. I was clearly not trained correctly for this. I think if the race was in the lake (like it was last year) and the bike was relatively flat I would've been OK'ish. Who knows?

My friends Angela and Michelle were great. My parents and family too. 

Yesterday I was quitting triathlon forever.

But today, I'm just more fired up than ever to get better, train harder, not have to have a babysitter on the bike... and figure out those damn bike shoes!

XO
Jen