I did it! I am still in a bit of disbelief that I am writing a race recap for a half IronMan!
Half IronMan is 70.3 miles and broken down into 3 disciplines: swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles and run 13.1 miles.
I honestly had no idea what to expect on race day. I had no idea how long it would take me. I knew I was physically ready but ANYTHING can happen on race day.
The 1.2-mile swim is the first event. The level of nerves associated with the swim cannot even be expressed in words for me. I just really started open water swimming about a year ago and it's not my strongest discipline. This swim was in Lake Taupo, and while it was amazingly clear, I normally swim in warm salt water. Adjusting to a full wetsuit and freezing face, feet and lungs was a lot to overcome on race day! My goal was to survive the swim and make it under the 1 hour 10 min time cap. On the way out the sun was in my eyes and blurring out the yellow buoys that I needed to sight on. I picked a mountain in the distance and just kept it in my line of sight and stayed the course. When I hit the 6th buoy at the turn around point I had settled into a comfortable pace and felt a sense of calm rush over me and I knew I was going to make it.
The transition from the swim to bike was a bit longer than what I was expecting. Race organizers said it was a 400m distance (think, one lap around a track) but it FELT longer... I kept slow jog pace up the transition mat using that time to start getting out of my wetsuit. My feet and hands were frozen so I was hoping the jog would help warm me up. When I got to my bike I was happy to see that there were still bikes on my rack (we were racked by age group) so I was not the last one...not that I would have let that discourage me, but it was a bit of a boost!
The bike is normally my jam! A 56-mile ride is an easy Sunday in my world. I would consider it my strongest discipline of the sport but like I said before...anything can happen on race day. My legs were cold and my feet were numb, I could not even feel my toes! The bike course started with a climb, which felt harder than normal because I needed to warm up. After the first climb we had a gradual decline but since I was still cold I did not gain nearly as much speed as I wanted to. Riding stiff and cold caused my back to tighten up a bit, but it was manageable. At the halfway point I FINALLY felt like my legs were warmed up. However, at the halfway point the course turned and we had a gradual climb back in. This was a non - drafting race, meaning you have to stay 12 meters behind the bike in front of you. If someone passes you, you have to drop back the appropriate distance and if you are going to pass someone you have 25 seconds to complete the pass. They do have officials riding motorcycles on the course to monitor this. You get 3 warnings before you get a penalty card that costs you 3 minutes. I did get 1 warning for not passing quickly enough so after that I was super cautious with my passing times and distance. I was hoping to finish the bike in 3 hours or less but I came in at 3 hours and 13 minutes. While it was not as fast as I wanted I was still happy!
When I came into the transition from bike to run the first female pro was coming over the finish line! It made me laugh a little that I was JUST starting my run and she was done for the day, but it also motivated me. I quickly changed my shoes, threw on my hat and ate my banana as I took off running. About 1/2 mile in I realized that I still had my cycling gloves on and I literally laughed out loud! I almost threw them out but since they were new I just shoved them in my back pocket... this is a rather expensive hobby that I have and I would kick myself later for ditching them.
13.1 miles as a finisher, I must be crazy! It's important to pace yourself out of the gate. Your legs want to move fast because you have had them in a fast cadence for the last few hours. If you start out too fast though you will pay for it on the back half of your run. I could not believe how good I felt for my run! Normally I shoot for a 10:00-10:30 pace off the bike, but the cooler weather in New Zealand is a bit easier to run in than tropical Guam! I felt comfortable in the 9's so I kept it there. The run was a 3 lap course of rolling hills, with one at the end of the lap that was a little aggressive. When I started my 3rd lap I could not believe how good I felt, I remember thinking "that's it?" and I knew I was going to finish.
The emotion I felt coming down the finish shoot was overwhelming! Everyone is cheering for you and yelling your name, I felt like a rock star! I picked up my pace and pushed hard for a strong finish! 6 hours and 10 minutes after I started my swim I was done. It was an emotional finish for me filled with tears of joy and random hugs.
Something this big takes a team. While I physically ran the race, it took a tribe to get me there! Some days I would open up my training calendar and just stare at it in disbelief and was certain that my coach made a typo (he never did)... He told me from day 1 to "trust the process" and he was right! Thanks, Coach Cam, I could not have done this without your awesome programming and I can't wait for the next one!
I am also extremely grateful for my training partners, while there are a ton here (the entire Guam Tri/Cycling community) I had a few ride or die gals, Allyssa and Rachel. On days that I did not want to train, I knew that one of them would be there to suffer with me...not letting them down made me stronger. It's an individual sport but I was driven by their dedication, motivation and general badass-ness! Love you ladies and I appreciate you more than you will ever know!
Lastly, I could not have done this without the support of my husband! He believes in me more than I believe in myself. For the last few months my days started before the sun came up and if I was not in bed when it went down I was asleep on the couch... no matter how tired, sore or let's be honest, whiny I was he reminded me of my goals (and that I signed up for it, haha). Even when I do crazy things like sign up for races 3,000 miles away, he supports me. Nothing fills my heart more than seeing him cheering for me on the race course and hugging me at the finish line. I love you, babe!
When it comes to health and fitness the biggest road block in your path to success is YOU. The road to success is paved with good intentions but we tend to build barriers that send us off in every direction but forward. Part of living a full life is enjoying the zigs and zags in our path, but in order to have the fullest life we need to learn how to zig, zag and recover.
How do you break down barriers? You need to listen to your body and learn about yourself. Ok, I know you are thinking “no one knows me better than I know myself” and I get that…but my question is do you LISTEN to yourself?
For example, I am a morning person and I HAVE to take advantage of that fact. I know that if I don’t do my workout first thing in the morning then I will find approximately one million reasons why I can’t get it done later in the day and if by some chance I do manage to do it later, I do it with half the motivation or intensity that I should. I know myself and I listen to myself, by doing my workout first thing I have removed that barrier from my day. My husband on the other hand is the exact opposite from me. He is NOT a morning person and if he were to schedule his day around a morning workout it would probably not happen. Knowing he missed his workout would set a negative tone for the rest of the day. So, to remove that barrier, he schedules his workouts for the afternoon/evening time. Instead of using our schedules as an excuse to miss our workouts we schedule our day around our workouts.
What barriers have you put up that are keeping your from making optimal nutritional choices? The biggest barrier I see (and experience) most often is being prepared. Preparation come in many forms, the key is finding what works best for you! Meal planning? Meal prepping? Shopping weekly or bi-weekly? Look at your routine and see where you have created a barrier. For example, if you don’t get home from work till 7pm this week. You are tired and have no motivation to cook… how are you going to handle that? Did you prepare for this barrier by food prepping earlier in the week, or are you going to use this an excuse to order out?
When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle there is no “one size fits all” approach. Yet, there are general guidelines we can follow. At the end of the day you have to find what works best for you and stay true to that course of action. Look for the barriers in your life and instead of using them as an excuse, use them as a stepping stone to change. Zig, Zag and enjoy the process of finding the path forward!
Today I was sitting in my office working on my 30 day kick start program and I realized it was almost 10 years ago I that was diagnosed with PCOS. It really got me thinking about my journey with this diagnosis. How far I have come, how far I have to go...
The beginning of my journey was met with resentment, misunderstanding and denial. I lived that way for years, blaming my diagnosis for any issues rather than learning how to take control. Once I got pregnant I assumed that PCOS was not that serious and that as long as I took the pills they gave me I would be just fine. It took the loss of my son for me to realize that I HAD TO CHANGE.
For years I wondered "What if I had taken better care of my body, would the outcome for him been different?"... To have a question like that in the back of your mind is agonizing. I knew that if I ever wanted peace, I needed to figure out how to take back control of my body.
I have said many times before, the process for me has been a marathon not a sprint and I think that is why I have been successful. I experimented with different nutritional paths to see what works best for my body. Today it can STILL be a struggle for me to eat properly (hey, I'm human), but I can honestly say that 90% of my nutritional choices are right for me. Because of that, the 10% of the time I am "naughty", my body lets me know that it's not happy.... and I love that it does that! You know why? Because it means that it knows whats good and whats bad! The fact that I have programmed my body to reject toxins rather than crave them is AMAZING!
I also work out consistently - NOT JUST CARDIO. I have found a combination of cardio and strength training are most effective for me. I don't look at my workouts as punishments for "being fat" or "cheat meals". Rather, I look at is a reward and that I am lucky to be able to move like I do! Believe it or not, eventually you begin to appreciate how much a good workout can change you.. not just physically but mentally!
By changing my nutrition and fitness, and staying true to those changes, I have successfully combated the symptoms associated with this pain in the ass diagnosis. This has not been an easy journey, the process was slow for me. I often resisted the change because it was HARD, but dammit, it was worth it! My cycle operates like clock work, I have only had 2 cysts in 10 years, my skin is clear, my weight is under control and quite frankly I look the best I ever have! These were some of the biggest issues I was having with my diagnosis, and in the process of 10 years I have TAKEN BACK CONTROL!
My journey is not over and I am ok with that. I want to continue to improve my health and use my journey to help others. I don't want it to take 10 years for every woman battling this diagnosis. I think this is my purpose in life, and I will fulfill that purpose!
Life can be so frustrating in general...but even more frustrating when you are fighting the PCOS fight. This picture was so powerful to me! These six things feed into our day to day life and greatly affect our overall wellbeing.
Think about those words, Warriors! Think about each one individually and then think about how one affects the other... If you are anything like me, and if you are here I am sure you are, then when one is damaged the others follow suit.
2015 was the year of transitions for me - I got married, graduated college, launched pcosWARRIOR, and I moved to Japan!
I dove head first into 2016 with so much change and transition that I have to fight to keep these six things working in harmony. I have to remind myself on a daily basis that I am in control, I have the ability to either feed into my PCOS or starve it. The moment I lose sight of this my will power is weak. I find myself making poor nutritional decisions and lifestyle choices. This in turn will shatter my confidence - I don't like the person I am when I make poor decisions. My determination has fallen out of sight at this point, I will find myself feeling lost... out of balance...stressed.
What am I going to do about this?
I am going to take control, because I know I can! I am lucky to be part of a strong community of Warriors who will support me. I started by taking a "me" week - I stayed out of the gym and focused on yoga, stretching and meditation. Next I found a program I wanted to follow. I am a firm believer in -even a trainer needs a trainer- it's important to have someone who will push you outside of your comfort zone (Like I will do for you!). I have started a new 60 day program that will help me reach my goals and keep my mind clear. When I follow a structured training program helps me with my will power - when my will power is strong it leads to calmness and confidence!
By taking back control of my own personal wellness I am able to pour my hear and soul into the Warrior programming! Being my best allows me to give my best...and you my Warriors deserve nothing but the best!
The first of the year, a clean slate, day 1 out of 365… This time of year is the hardest for me – not because I am not grateful for my clean slate, but because I am flooded with memories from the past, I find myself lingering in the land of “what if’s”. January 2, 2008, two years after I was first diagnosed with PCOS, I gave birth to my son Trent Aaron. Four hours after meeting my son I had to say goodbye. Sadly this is not an unfamiliar story in the world of PCOS.
That was a hard year for me when the rest of the world around me was embracing their clean slate I was grieving for the loss of my son and ultimately what felt like the loss of myself.
This New Years Eve I was sitting next to my husband flying over the pacific ocean, headed to our new home in Japan. I had a lot of time to watch movies…play games…annoy my husband…. and to think. I thought a lot about what my life would be like if things had worked out differently. Would I have met my husband? Would Trent be sitting next to us on this next adventure? Would he be a good flier? Would I be a good mom? I started getting sad, and I realized I do this to myself every year I play these “what if” games… Don’t get me wrong; I know I am allowed to grieve… I always will. However, I feel like my “what if” game puts a dark shadow over me, sometimes to the point of making me physically ill and I don’t like it.
One thing I have learned in these last 9 years is that if I don’t like something – I change it! I decided I would make a list of 9 positive things that have happened since my darkest day:
Every year I will add to this list so that my darkest day knows it is responsible for my strength, growth, and light. While I will always grieve, I know I am not defined by this day, I have become defined because of it.
A few weeks ago I had the honor of attending the PCOS Awareness Symposium in Los Angeles, CA. First off let me tell you how amazing it was to be surrounded by not only specialist in the field, but hundreds of other women looking for answers and fighting this fight!
I have always believed that you can regulate the symptoms associated with PCOS with your nutrition and exercise. Sometimes I feel a bit defeated when all I read or hear about is the “next best pill” to make everything better…. Now don’t misconstrue my words, I do know that everyone have different circumstances – and sometimes options like clomid help with fertility. BUT at the end of the day I feel that you are either feeding your PCOS or starving it with your choices. Why introduce more chemicals into your system that is ALREADY imbalanced?
I listened to what all of the experts had to say, and it was all very interesting and I took a little bit away from each speaker. When I had first registered for this symposium there was one speaker and topic that I was particularly interested in:
PCOS and Your Pancreas – Controlling Insulin and Blood Sugar
Candice Rosen R.N., M.S.W., C.H.C
Candice spoke about Pancreatic abuse and how it affects your PCOS. It was so refreshing to hear someone who is considered an EXPERT in the field support what I have been preaching all along!
Our pancreas makes the hormone insulin. When you eat your food is broken down into glucose, which is a simple sugar. The glucose is then absorbed into your blood stream where the insulin helps the glucose enter cells of your body to be burned off as energy.
If you are not eating properly then you are going to overwork your pancreas – causing HIGH INSULIN levels.
What does it mean when we have high insulin levels?
Excess weight gain (your body is not burning, its storing)
You may notice dark thicker patches of skin (acanthosis nigricans)
Elevated androgen hormones (testosterone)… and what does elevated androgen hormone levels cause?
Drum Roll Please…..
Increased body hair
Type 2 Diabetes
Sound familiar....What do those symptoms remind you of?
By being aware of our nutrition WE CAN TAKE CONTROL of those symptoms! Regulate your insulin levels by maintaining a low glycemic index diet – ditch the processed foods –
When you eat carbohydrates stick to complex carbs (natural, unprocessed carbohydrates).
It’s also just as important to GET UP AND MOVE! Exercising regularly (notice I said regularly, not sporadically), teaching your body how to burn – which is responding to insulin. It’s all about balance – Be AWARE of how we are fueling our bodies – and MOVING to ignite the burn!
I have had more success with regulating my nutrition and exercise that I EVER had with taking a pill – It does not happen overnight – I have always said this process is a marathon, not a sprint.
If you want to learn more about nutrition and fitness – finding a plan that works for you and regulating your symptoms associated with PCOS feel free to contact me!
I know out of the 11 million other things you have on your list this week...why a meal plan? Yes, it can be time consuming and yes, sometimes it can be overwhelming....but hey, that's why you have me!
As a WARRIOR you need to look at your meal plan like it is one of your weapons in this battle! Your meal plan helps put you in control. Your meal plan can help you balance your hormone levels, increase your energy and even help combat depression!
Your first step in this process is becoming AWARE of what you are eating - so do me a favor this week and write down when and what you are eating. Be honest - you owe it to yourself! I am going to do the same...my diet has days where I am far from perfect. Knowing where you stand with your nutrition is the best place to start, we can make changes from there.
Keep your eyes out for a sample meal plan I will be posting this week - it will show you what a low glycemic index diet entails (and I promise its not even gross!).
I will be posting my food journal on Sunday.
If you have any questions or need a kick start please feel free to comment or leave me a message!
We are in this together WARRIORS!
Starting this website was a huge step for me, I feel excited, scared and venerable all at the same time.
Are women going to hear me? Will I be successful? Will THEY be successful?
These are my fears... The only way I am going to find the answers is to take that bold step forward, and try.
I am not going to claim to have all the answers (no one does!) But I do have a few things going for me:
1. I have the education and training background that helps me understand fitness and nutrition. I received my diploma from the National Personal Training Institute. Im not some "online" certificate holding preacher who is out to make a quick buck.
2. I suffer from PCOS, I 100% understand the struggle that comes with infertility, weight issues, carb craving, depression, excess hair... (I seriously HATE writing out those symptoms)... the list goes on...
3. I have tested and produced RESULTS with my diet and exercise programs - I KNOW that I can help someone control the symptoms that come with PCOS.
In my heart of hearts I know that I am on the path that was meant for me. I want to help others who still struggle with PCOS and want to get it under control. I want to see other women reach their goals and take control.
My fear is that I won't be successful....but it is only a fear...not my reality. Just like I won't let PCOS run my life - I will not let fear run my life.
I AM IN CONTROL.