Monday, December 27, 2010

I have Crohn's Disease and I don't like it

So I was talking to a good friend of mine about a month ago and he asked me why I hadn't blogged in a long time. I told him I had nothing to say. He said " Bull@#$%. You have a lot to say." He told me I needed to get writing again. My counselor told me I needed to get writing again. Everyone has told me to get writing again, but I wasn't ready. I had retreated into my turtle shell. I didn't want to talk to anyone. I didn't want to face anyone. I didn't want to face the fact that I had Crohn's, but the fact is, I have Crohn's and it is not going away, so I can avoid doing research, avoid getting support, avoid people close to me that care and get nowhere or I can start facing this and get on with my life.

One reason I haven't really wanted to talk about it or write about it is because I did not want people to think I was feeling sorry for myself or having a pity party. As it was when I did try and open up to some people they said to me, "It could be worse." As much as I agree with that, it made me feel like because I didn't have cancer I shouldn't be complaining, so as people said that to me I started shutting down.

So here it goes. I am mad. I am really mad that I have Crohn's Disease. I was over 300 pounds, morbidly obese. I was told that I needed to lose weight or I could die, so I worked my butt off literally and lost 106 pounds. Now, I'm 106 pounds down and the sickest I have ever been. It's so ironic cause I'm the healthiest I've ever been in some respects and the sickest in other respects.

I'm mad because, due to steroids I have been on, I have gained 30 of those 106 pounds back. I know everyone tells me that it's not a real gain, but to tell you the truth I have started using my restricted diet and my steroids as an excuse to eat bad. I know the steroids are messing with my eating, my sleeping, and my mind, but it has become an easy excuse to do what I want. The steroids along with the restricted diet have been a major downfall for me and I"m mad that I have let it become so easy to overeat. I have started back with the excuses that I used to have at the beginning of my journey. I don't like it and don't like how it is making me feel. That is why TODAY I decided to write about how I'm feeling to start getting back to where I need to be to do an 1/2 Ironman and eventually my Ironman. I need to get refocused on my goals.

My coach has given me several leads for Crohn's support, friends have told me about people that are willing to support me, I have had many links sent to me, books for me to read etc. I haven't taken advantage of any of this cause that would mean I would have to admit to having Crohn's. I don't like having a disease that I cannot control. I could do something about my weight. I can't do anything about my Crohn's. Crohn's is not curable, just manageable. This is something I have to manage the rest of my life. I don't want to have something I have to manage the rest of my life, but it's not going anywhere, so it's time to get off my butt and do something about it.

Since being sick, which I have been since the end of August, I have noticed I am not the same athlete I was. I used to be able to work out for hours on end. Now there are times after 30 minutes I have to call it quits. There are times in the middle of my workout I need to stop and go to the bathroom and am in there for at least 20 minutes. I tell you after stopping workout for a 20 minute bathroom break it is very hard to get re-motivated to get out there and going again. There have been several times that I have cried in the stall of the YMCA bathroom. I know I will get back to where I was, but it is a long journey and I don't like the set back, but what am I going to do just not workout, give up on my Ironman dream? No way.

I have a friend, Andy, who in the past has told me to SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP. I have other friends tell me to FAKE IT UNTIL I MAKE IT. It's time for me to do this. I need to acknowledge my feelings, but not let them bring me down and so far I have let them bring me down and if I'm not careful I will let it spiral out of control and I have come too far to let that happen.

So I have Crohn's. There are a lot of other people that do and are living productive, active lives. I don't have to like the fact that I have Crohn's. However, I do need to embrace it, learn all I can, and learn how to live with it while being active and training to become an Ironman. My goal is to still do Ironman Wisconsin in 2012. I hope that will happen, but if I have to change the date that's ok and if my health doesn't permit me to do that distance I'm going to be ok with that. I'm not ok with that now, but I will be if that is the case.

I talked to my counselor recently about how I felt really anxious about the possibility of not being able to do an Ironman because of my health. Ironman is what I have talked about now, for the last 5 years. It has been a goal of mine since then and is so close to becoming a reality. What if it is taken away from me? What if I can only handle the half Ironman distance? He then made me realize, through some lengthy conversations, that what I liked about doing an IRONMAN is not necessairly the Ironman per-say, but I liked the idea of the person I am becoming on my way to Ironman, and who I will be when I step up to the starting line. Yes, I want to do the distance, yes, I want to hear them say, "Melissa, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN," but when it really comes down to it, I really want to become the person that can do those things. Whether or not I will ever be able to do the Ironman distance is still yet to be determined, whether or not I can become the type of person to step up to the start line is already determined, I can and will become that person. (It was hard to put this last paragraph into words so I hope you understood what I was trying to say.)

A little update on where I am with my Crohn's care. I am currently getting weaned off my steroids and will be completely off them by the second week of January. I am on a Crohn's medication that I am hoping I will respond well too after being off the steroids. I am seeing Dr. Cohen who is out of University of Chicago and is one of the best Crohn's doctors out there and the center I am going is ranked nationally for it's research and treatment of Crohn's, so I am in good hands. I will keep you not only posted on where I am mentally with all of this, but also how my treatment is going.

So this is just the start of my blogging again. Here are some goals for this week:

1. Blog at least 2-3 more times.
2. Start logging my workouts again for my coach and my eating.
3. Get all the junk,that snuck it's way into my house during the holidays, out of my house.
4. Get back to the gym regularly and not give myself a hard time if I cannot work out as hard as I used to. I'll get back where I need to be.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Please Don't Wait Anymore!!

I am sitting in a hospital room waiting to see if I can get released today. I’m thinking about all that has gone on since the end of August.

• August 19, left for a trip to Massachusetts with my family.

• August 21, got sick all night in the hotel room throwing up.

• August 22, sick all day

• August 23 sick on the plane ride home. Spent just as much time in the airplane bathroom as I did in the 1st class seat that Keith had gotten for me.

• August 24, Ended up going to an urgent care and admitted to the hospital. My heartrate had dropped to 33 beats per minute and I was dehydrated. I got rehydrated and a cardiologist cleared my heart.

• August 26, I was discharged from the hospital. Got sick that night.

• August 27, Was readmitted to the hospital. They figured out my gall bladder was sick.

• August 30, got my gall bladder removed.

• September 1st, got discharged from the hospital.

• September 3rd, got a call that my Grandma had called 911 and had no heartrate when they got there. They resisitated her even though she had a DNR. That night she was removed from life support. My brother and I spent that first night by her side. She hung on for 9 days.

• September 12, my Grammy passed away.

• September 15, my Grammy’s visitation

• September 16, my Grammy’s funeral

• September 17, drove Parker to Chicago to stay at a friends house to spend the night so he could go to his play rehearsal. Spent the night.

• September 18, starting at 6am threw up every hour on the hour and ended up in the ER. I was dehydrated, so they rehydrated me and sent me home. Was resting all day.

• September 20, Threw up in the morning. Called my GI Doc and met with him. He is in the same building as an emergency care center. He sent me down to get a CT Scan cause he wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on. I threw up as soon I drank the CT drink. He admitted me to the emergency care center. They were able to help me keep down the drink and get the CT. This time it showed an unhealthy colon and intestine. I was admitted to the hospital AGAIN.

• September 22, Had a colonoscopy and a stomach scope. My stomach was fine, but there were some things wrong in my colon. There were ulcerations and inflammation. Biopsies were taken of everything and I have to wait to see if it is mild Croh’s disease or a bad infection. After the procedure I was told I could eat a restricted diet, so I did. Keith came to visit me and I ended up throwing up the whole time. I was told I had to stay in the hospital longer.

• September 23, back on a liquid diet and the waiting game.

• September 25, finally on soft foods and doing well keeping it down. Still waiting on the biopsies, but probably won’t get them cause it’s the weekend, but I’m keeping down my food and now off my IV. Will probably go home tonight or tomorrow. Wahoooo!!

I looked up at the white eraser board in my room and saw that today’s date is September 25th. Wow. This health issue has taken over a month of my life. How could I have prevented this? What could I have possible done different?

I could have done a lot different. For years I have ignored my stomach issues. Pretty much any time I went out to eat I would have a stomachache. It became a joke (not a haha kind of joke) early on in my marriage with Keith. He always said, “Every time I take you out to a nice restaurant you are in the bathroom before we even leave.” It was true, but I never went to the doctor.

My mom died at the age of 53, obese. She made me promise, on her deathbed, that I would get healthy. She did not want me to go through what she went through. This coming December she will be gone 14 years. It is just 2 years ago in November that I finally got serious about getting healthy.

I started going to the doctor, but not like I should and still ignoring my stomach issues. As most people who are obese you don’t want to go to the doctor and hear about your weight. My mom went to the doctor with some pain and was told it was because she was overweight. The pain was not because of her weight; it was because of her colon being sick. I didn’t want that to happen to me, so as I approached 300 pounds and over I decided not to go to the doctor.

That was the biggest mistake I could have made. Because of putting this issue off for years I have just lost over a month of my life. I have a sick colon and intestine and had to have my gall bladder out. What I was trying to avoid was there in my face? Did I have cancer? Was I going to die young? The good news is there is no cancer and it ends up I am going to be ok, but what if I would have taken care of this sooner? I would have my month back.

I beg you if you have been putting off getting medical attention because of you weight please don’t. What if there would have been cancer in my colon? What if it were worse? I am a mom and a wife. What if me being embarrassed about my weight would have caused my family to lose me? I can’t play the “what if” game, but I can be thankful that the news was not worse.

Please do something about your weight. I can help you. Please do not put off going to the doctor. If you live by me, I can go with you. Don’t wait until it is too late. My mom waited and didn’t get a second opinion and she died at 53. Please learn from my mom and from me and please don’t wait anymore.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ironman thoughts through a volunteers eyes

Ironman: 140.6 miles of determination, dedication, and inspiration. Athletes age 18 to 74, pros, age-groupers, blind, disabled, all shapes and sizes, all walks of life, all with one thing on their mind, the finish line. Each athlete dedicated hours to training, sacrificing time with family and friends. Each athlete full of determination as they approach the swim start, waiting for the canon to go off. Each athlete was inspired in some way to even think of doing an Ironman and now they get to be an inspiration to those spectating on the sideline and to those volunteering. I am one of those volunteers that was inspired.

September 2008 is the first time I ever volunteered at Ironman Wisconsin. I was 300 pounds and already knew that I wanted to do an Ironman in 2013, but really never thought, at that point, that it would ever really happen. The day before the race I worked in Gear Check in. This is where the athletes bring bags with everything they will need for their transition. A transition is the time between each leg. Transition 1 is between the swim and the bike and transition 2 is between the bike and the run.

I got to meet so many athletes that day, hear their stories, and help them get set up for race day. It was amazing. I had two friends doing the race. We had met online, but not in person, so that day I got to meet them both when they brought their gear bags in. It was amazing to finally meet them and be part of their first Ironman experience.

The day of the race I started the morning off body marking the athletes. Body marking is when you mark an athletes arms and legs with their racing number. Here I was 300 pounds marking some of the most fit bodies I had ever seen. I even got to mark a couple pros that day. I was self-conscience, but getting inspired every second, getting more excited about the possibility of being an Ironman someday.

I also volunteered at the finish line and that is what changed my life. I was giving out the medals. As the athlete approaches the finish line they get to hear this,
“Larry Schultz, You Are An Ironman.” I cannot even begin to imagine what that feels like to hear, but I know that hearing that, the first time live, at the finish line, made me so inspired to hear it for myself one day. I got to give medals out to every type of athlete out there. I got to give a medal to my friend Chris on completion of his first Ironman. At that moment I forgot that I was a morbidly obese person, I forgot that I got out of breath walking down a street, and I forgot that I could barely bend over to tie my shoes.

At that moment I pictured myself as an Ironman. I knew that this would be me. It would be a lot of hard work. Instead of thinking that this was impossible, I started believing that I’m possible. That night I worked the finish line until midnight. That is the cutoff for the race. If you are not done by midnight, you get a DNF (did not finish). There was about 30 seconds left and the announcer was saying there was one lady very close and we needed to all cheer her in. It is amazing at the finish line towards the end of the race, so we were all cheering, holding our breath, hoping she would make it. Guess what? She did with 4 seconds to spare. I had the privilege of putting her medal around her neck. I had someone take a picture of me medaling her. That is a moment I will never forget. She crossed the finish line and just laid down. She had spent 17 hours dedicated to, and determined to becoming an Ironman and she did it.

I contacted her after the race, so I could email her the medal picture and we talked a long time. She is a mom and had been on her own weight loss journey and doing and Ironman was what she wanted to do after she hit her goals. She encouraged me so much in my own journey. I knew after talking to her that I was meant to do this. Before it had been that I was going to do an Ironman in 2013. I really meant it, but deep down, I would start self-doubting myself and then start putting myself down.

Now I knew that this dream would become my reality. I knew I had to start getting serious about my workout regime and my eating was a joke. It was time to do something about it. I hired a coach, got back to Weight Watchers and started seeing the results. November 8, 2008 I met with my coach, Matt Petersen of The Fitness Pursuit. Those were some hard sessions. He would knock down my excuses one after another. It was tough. I didn’t like him very much at the time, but I credit him with my turn around. While having Matt as my coach I lost 40 pounds.

In one of our first conversations Matt had asked me what my goals were and at that point I still wanted to do my Ironman in 2013. He asked me why I had it so far off. I remember wanting to laugh when he asked me this. At this point I was 297 pounds. I had lost weight before going to meet with my new coach. (Kind of like when you clean before the cleaning lady comes.) I remember thinking, “Um, yeah, can’t you tell why I’m putting it off so far.” I just never thought I could do it sooner. So, after talking, we moved it up to 2012. I could probably do it sooner, but I really wanted to be the most fit I could be and work up to the distance. I was doing sprint tris at that point (1/2 mile swim, 15 mile bike, 5k run).

Now it is 2010. I just spent this past Sunday, September 12, volunteering for my third time at Ironman Wisconsin. I am 97 ½ pounds lighter and could just tell the difference in my volunteering experience. I was not self- conscience at all, and I could get around town a lot easier.

Once again I was cheering on friends. My first coach Matt Petersen that I mentioned above was competing, doing his 5th Ironman. My friend Chris who did his first Ironman in 2008 was back again to do his second race. I also had 7 other people I knew doing the race all with amazing stories. It was so amazing and inspiring to see each and every one of them on the course.

Again I worked the finish line. I got to medal a lot of the friends I knew doing the race. I got to medal a blind athlete. I medaled old athletes, young athletes, and everything in between. Everyone out there has a story, everyone out there has a reason they need to do an Ironman, me included.

I was 306.2 pounds. I was a doormat that everyone just wiped their feet on. I guess, based on my past results, I was ok with those things because I was not willing to change. Now I am the most confident (but not in a cocky way) I have ever been. I am ok with saying no to people. I am pushing myself a lot harder than I ever have. I love having my picture taken now. I help others in their journeys and am just a very happy person and it feels great.

I am on my Ironman journey. Just like working to get the weight off I am working my way up to the Ironman distance. I have several sprints under my belt, did my first Olympic distance tri under my belt, and will do my first ½ Ironman in 2011. I am very proud of what I have accomplished, but my journey will not be complete without finishing an Ironman.

I have had to dig deep in my life to get through a lot, but during Ironman Wisconsin I will have to dig deeper than ever before. I will go to places I have never gone before mentally and I will have to dig deep to get through. With each step I will become a stronger person physically, mentally, and spiritually. I want to do an Ironman to show myself just how far I have come and just how far I will be able to go. Yes, I cannot wait to become an Ironman, but it is far more than that. When I cross that finish line this is what I will hear, “Melissa Black, you are an Ironman,” but this is what I will know as I cross that finish line. Not only will I have become an Ironman, I will have become a better person, wife, mom, and friend along the way. I will be a different person because of everything I had to overcome to cross that finish line.

All the volunteers at Ironman events have the opportunity to sign up for the race on Monday morning for the following year. Next year, next year (wow, I had to repeat that because it’s finally getting here) when I volunteer I will be in line on Monday morning to sign up for Ironman Wisconsin 2012. I can hardly wait, but know that I have a lot of work still left to do to get there. I respect every single mile of the 140.6 distance and will do everything I need to between now and the starting line to get ready.

Ironman: 140.6 miles of determination, dedication, and inspiration. I will be determined to do whatever my coach (Bob Mitera of Kokua Multisports) tells me to do and will be determined for the next two years to get to that start and finish line. I am dedicated to my training and whatever sacrifices I have to make to get that start and finish line. I have been inspired by so many who have gone before me on their own journeys of weight loss, illnesses to overcome, triathlons, and Ironman and I hope to inspire people to do whatever it is they want to do. I am living proof that there is hope and that you can change.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

This is gonna get really ugly!!

I wrote this blog post on my Massachusetts trip, but never posted it because of getting sick and ending up in the hospital, so this was written around August 19th. Here it goes:

Some people have noticed that I haven't blogged for almost a month. Others have commented that my facebook statuses aren't what they used to be. Some people in my life have told me that they know I would eventually crash and burn, that I would hit a wall. It was as if they wanted me to. That if I crashed and burned it would somehow make them feel better about themselves, but this post is not about the naysayers in my life. This post is a post about me and where I've been for the last month, what's been going on in this noggin' of mine, and where I see myself going from this day forward. I've been told my readers love how honest I am with the good, the bad, and the ugly on my journey. Well, get ready cause this is gonna get real ugly.

July 11th, 2010 is where my downward spiral started. My first, Olympic Distance triathlon was that day. You can read my race report in the previous entry. I went into the race sick and just coming off vacation and it was hot out. As you can read in my report I overcame everything and finished that race. I had the best support crew anyone could have, my friends, family, and coach greeted me at the finish line. I learned a lot about myself out there. I am very proud of everything I did out there that day and it will be something I will never forget.

However, once I got home and the cheering stopped, I had no support crew, and I had time to think, things got bad mentally and to top it off I was diagnosed with sever bronchitis and by doctor's orders I was not allowed to work out for 2 weeks. When I get down and stressed what do I do? I hit the gym and work through it. This time I couldn't and I let it get to me big time. I let my negative thoughts take over.

I decided I wasn't going to do anymore triathlons for this season. I didn't like how I performed at the one in July, so decided that was it. My wonderful coach has told me multiple times that I shouldn't base anything on that race because I was sick, but mentally it did me in. Instead of focusing on how much I had accomplished that day or how much I had accomplished so far on my journey. My mind quickly turned to the dark side. I'm talking Darth Vadar Dark.

My thoughts turned back to my fat girl thoughts. Instead of focusing on the 90+ pounds I have lost and kept off I was and still am a little (since I'm being honest here) focused on how fat I am, how fat I was race day, how much I hate my flabby arms and my huge thighs. I actually started questioning whether or not I should even follow my dream of becoming an Ironman and racing in Kona someday.

These were my thoughts during my two weeks off from working out. I finally got the ok to workout and the same week got news that would change my life drastically (I will let you know what that news is in due time). It was more than I could handle mentally. I retreated into my turtle shell.

I started ignoring and avoiding the very people that are my biggest supporters. My coach, didn't call or email him, quit going to Weight Watchers for a couple weeks (Don't worry I am going this week), barely went to the gym, wasn't blogging or really facebooking. The people I was talking to I really wasn't telling what was really going on. I slowly started turning to food again and was putting some weight back on. I had given up. I was shutting down. I didn't know climb out of the pit I had let myself fall into. I had lost sight of my goals. I had lost my motivation. I needed and still need help.

One person that knew I was having a hard time was my chiropractor, Dr. Kevin O'hara. After a couple weeks of avoiding him I finally went. He looked me in th eye and asked me what was going on. I told him what I was going through, everyone I was avoiding, and why I was avoiding them. I told him I was depressed, not eating right, not working out, and gaing some weight back.

There was no way he was going to put up with this. He's not only my awesome chiropractor, he's also my friend, and one of my biggest cheerleaders. He did a little thing called tough love on me. Dr. Kevin told me he wouldn't let me mess everything I've worked so hard for. He told me to get back to WW, contact my coach, and start working out again.

He really made me think about what road I wanted to go down. The road that continues to my better health or the road back to the unfit, fat me. He said if I didn't get a grip soon or as my friend Andy says, "Suck it up buttercup" that I would end up where I started. That scared me really bad. At this point I had already gained about 6 pounds back (which currently I have lost 5 of. Yay me!) and I had slipped into old, very old eating habits. I knew Dr. Kevin was right. I was already sliding down that slippery slope to the old me and it was going to take all I had to climb back up the slope.

I called my best friend, Dar, and told her everything. I emailed my coach and talked to him. That was very hard because I felt like such a failure. He told me what I needed to hear and challenged all the excuses I had let creep back into my vocabulary. I called my WW leader and told him what was going on and that I had been avoiding meetings. The last time I avoided a few meetings I ended up being gone a long time and gaining all my weight back, so I told him to hold me accountable and make sure I came back to our meetings. He promised me to help me get back. Since our talk I went to a WW meeting. It was in Massachusetts, while out of town, but it was a meeting and I'm glad I went.

These are all things that I needed to do. I feel so much better. Writing this blog post has been therapeutic. I have put myself out there. I have been honest. I am back. I am starting to get back to where I need to be. Please ask me how I am doing, eating, working out, and please help hold me accountable. I never want to go back to where I was and to be honest I got very close. I'm so glad for the love and support I have from so many. Please keep it coming.

So like I said above this was written around August 19, during my Massachusetts trip. I got very sick, came home and ended up in the hospital getting my gall bladder out. I am now recovering, but keeping my spirits up and not allowing myself to go where I was for the last month. Like I said before I refuse to go back to where I was. I am back to losing weight, thinking positive, and will be able to work out in a few weeks. Life is good.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My Olympic Distance Triathlon Race Report

July 11th, 2010 I would be attempting something that I had never tried before. I would be attempting an Olympic Distance Triathlon. That means I would be swimming .9 miles, biking 24.2 miles and running a 10k (6.2 miles). This was another rung I needed to climb on my ladder to the Ironman Distance.

I had some challenges leading up to this race. I had taken a family vacation from July 19th-July 5th. We got home around midnight July 5th, so as you can tell I only had 6 days until my triathlon. On my trip I did what I could. I ran almost everyday and once I was in Southern California I went swimming at the local YMCA. I did what I could, but I was still on vacation. I was not on my regular sleeping schedule and wasn't able to eat like I really wanted to. On top of all that I had gotten sick early on in my vacation and was still feeling the affects of that after getting home. Wednesday, July 7th, I was hit bad with a cough and wheezing. I knew going into this race it would be tough, but I had trained. I had done all the distances, so I knew that I could do it and finish. I just wasn't sure at this point how well I could do it.

The good thing about doing this distance for the first time is that I had no time to try and beat, so that took pressure off of me. If you are an athlete of any kind, you know that once you have a time, you want to beat it the next time around. I was glad that wasn't the case for me this time. A few people asked me, "what was my time goal for the whole race" and honestly I hadn't set one. I was thinking in the back of my head that I would like to finish it in 4 hours, but really I just wanted to finish.

Since starting to get sick on Wednesday I really rested and did whatever I could to feel better before race day. I was feeling pretty good the day before the race, so I decided to go ahead and do it. I got plenty of sleep and woke up on schedule. I ate my pre-race breakfast of Oatmeal and some fruit. Packed up my gear in the car and headed out. I thought I would feel nervous, but wasn't yet. My coach had told me when I felt nervous to think of it as excitement rather than nerves, so that is what I was doing. I cranked up Black Eyed Peas "Imma B." I have changed some of the words to make it a triathlon song, so I was cranking that and singing my new lyrics (and no I will not post that here), then came "Ive Got a Feeling." That was cranked when I pulled into the parking lot. Instead of singing, "I've got a feeling that tonight's gonna be a good night" I was singing, "I've got a feeling that today's gonna be a good day." I was in the zone of positive thinking, smiling at everyone I met as I approached transition and was feeling great as I approached transition to get set up.

I got all set up and ready to go. This is the first race where I was signed up as an Athena. That is a division where all the women athletes weigh 150 pounds or more. When I got the the rack to set up it was obvious that I was well over 150 pounds. That started to play games with me mentally, but then I stopped my negative talk and knew that I earned my spot on that rack like the rest of them. I had trained, I had lost weight, I had every right to be there as the thinnest athlete. I was not going to let those negative thoughts get the better of me and I didn't. I finished setting up and it was time to get my timing chip and body marked.

I knew my Masters Swim Coach, Marsha, was volunteering so I went and found her before getting my timing chip and body marked. I found her. She was so supportive and encouraging before the race. It was so great to have her out there. She reminded me that I had swam the distance before, that I could do it and said some other stuff that I don't remember. Marsha has really been there for me through really learning how to swim. In my first Masters Swim class I couldn't swim 25 yards without stopping and even had a panic attack that class. Marsha talked me through it all and here I was about to swim a mile in a triathlon with her there. It was great!! I got my timing chip and by that time Darlene was there and setting up her transition area. When she was done we got body marked together. It's always great when we can do a race together. We may not see each other on the course, but knowing she is out there is a great feeling of support.

Next up, the waiting game. We were in wave 5 of 9 waves. The race started around 7am and we were in the water at 717 I believe. I got to see my family before the race. It was so great to have them there for me. Parker was upset because he was at summer camp. When he got home one of the first things he said was, "Mom, I need to see your triathlon pictures." That meant a lot to me. Here is Dar and I before the race waiting by the lake for our wave to start.

We headed to the beach after this to line up and wait for our wave to go when I heard my name. Four of my friends from Weight Watchers had come to watch me race. The nice thing about this race was it was in Lake Zurich, IL. That is literally 10 minutes from my house and the same town where I go to Weight Watchers and workout at the YMCA, so quite a few people came to cheer me on. It was an amazing feeling to see so many people out there for me. I said hi to them and then went and lined up. That's when the nerves hit me. I hadn't done to much lake swimming in preparation and now that I could see the buoys and how far it looked I started doubting myself and wondering why the heck I thought I could do this. Next up wave 5. I pushed any negative thoughts out, hugged Dar, told her to have fun, told myself that, and then BOOM, we were off.

I started off in a good rhythm, but it was hard to sight because of swimming right into the sun, but I was able to make it to the first buoy without anything too exciting happening. I had to stop a few times to get my bearings, but then would get on my way again. My breathing was off and it was hard, but I knew I could do it. I turned around the first buoy and was going and then BAM, I had major cramping in my right foot. Had stopped to stretch it out and continued to swim, only using my arms. I was thankful for all the swim practice with the pull buoys. However, it was at this point that I was trying to hack up a lung. I mean, really, who needs both lungs while swimming. Seriously, at this point when I was swimming along, stroke, stroke, hack, hack, breathing, repeat. I knew it was going to be a long day, but then there I was in the water, at this point not sure if I was the last swimmer, but knew I was close, I heard someone yelling, "You've got this Melissa, keep going." It was a fellow Master Swimmer. He was one of the support crew in a kayak. For the rest of the swim, every time I breathed to my right I could see him along side of me. It was great and I was very thankful for his support and encouragement at this point. It is just what I needed right at that moment. I also could see the many boats at this point, so figured I was the last person out there. Here is a picture of all the boats that were following me. You can see my little head in there somewhere.

The shore was getting closer and closer and I couldn't have been happier. Here I am getting out of the water. I had lots of friends and my family there waiting for me. I saw someone from the YMCA, my swim coach, my family, and my weight watcher friends. It was amazing. It took me an hour to finish the swim.

Once I was out of the water I headed into transition. As I was running to transition, which was about 1/4 of a mile swim, I started wheezing, almost hyperventilating, and crying a little. Marsha was running along side me, encouraging me, telling me what a great job I did, telling me I could do it, reminding me I was just on vacation, and not feeling well. SHe also told me to slow down and that i could walk to transition, but I didn't want to walk and am proud to say I jogged the whole way to tranistion.

I could see Tricia out of the corner of my eye running besides me and I made sure to tell her that I was ok. I knew I was, but I just needed to regroup. Later I found out that my friend Sharon, from the YMCA, was also running next to me. She and I have become fast friends and it was great to see her while I was in transition about to head out on my bike. I headed into transition and really was trying to catch my breath and calm down. I was told heading into transition that I was not the last swimmer, but once I hit transition I knew that was a lie as I was the last bike in the whole area. I was able to transition more quickly than I thought and got my bike and headed out of there. Here I am heading out on my bike.

My breathing was now under control and I was on my way. I started biking and knew that it was going to be a challenge pretty much out of the gate. What was nice was even though I was last out of the water there were still people out on the bike for the second loop. It was nice to be back by other athletes.

I was getting a good pace going and then all of the sudden it was like my legs had been set in cement and the cement was starting to set. I was approximately at mile 10 when this happened. I tried to get up out of the saddle to stretch my legs out and my arms were like jelly. I guess all the swimming I did without my legs took its toll on my arms. I have never had arm fatigue on a bike ride before. This route was more hilly than I had anticipated and there was no way for me to be out of the saddle on the hills due to the fatigue in my arms and legs. I had never had this happen before and it was at this point I knew the reat of the bike was going to be tough. All of this was happening between mile 10-12 on the bike.

I was approaching a group of volunteers that were yelling. There job was to tell people whether or not they needed to do another loop or head into transition. There was a little miscommunication and I was sent towards transition. I realized it very quickly, vented my frustration out loud, turned around and headed back for my second loop.

I headed out on my second loop, all by myself, and that’s when the mind games started. What was I thinking doing this? You think you can do an Ironman? Did you see how big you were compared to the other athletes? Right away I squished those thoughts because I realized how amazing I was. I knew I could do this. I know that I will be able to do an Ironman, and I yelled at myself, out loud, to shut up. I hadn’t thought of quitting up to this point and wasn’t going to start. I knew that this second loop would be a battle, but I just kept telling myself to keep peddling and stay positive.

Right after I had this conversation with myself I realized I wasn’t alone anymore. I had my very own police escort. At first this pissed me off and on one of the first, very tiny hills I came to I hear this voice coming from the motorcycle, “Come on just push it. Push harder.” At this point I must admit I really didn’t want the cop coaching me. I was pushing it as hard as I could and I didn’t need him making me feel worse than I was already feeling.

I decided if he kept it up I would tell him kindly, to shut up, but what ended up happening is that he was so encouraging the rest of the bike. He asked me my name. He cheered me on. He kept me going on those hills. Not only did I not tell him to shut up, but when he got quiet I asked him to keep cheering. Marty, my police guardian angel, is a HUGE part of why I finished. We made it through the bike and he sat at the edge of transition while I got ready to run. I came in off the bike. I could hardly walk at this point, almost fell over in transition. People were there, collecting their gear and rooting for me. I didn’t see my family at this point, but saw a friend from Weight Watchers cheering me on. Later she told me, “When I saw you getting off the bike and getting ready to run I knew there was no way I would have ever done that. I would have laid down at that point and cried.” It was great to have here there cheering me on. I did the bike in 2 hours.

I headed out on the run. My legs wobbling and feeling like they were ready to give out at any moment. It was going to be the biggest challenge, mentally, that I had ever faced in my life. Marty was right there cheering me on. At one point he had to go get gas so someone named, Bob, was there on a bike riding along with me, encouraging me. I told Bob as he was about to bike away, “Please keep the finish line open for me. I need to cross that finish line.” He told me he would see what he could do.

The run was hot, it was hard, and honestly looking back on it, I don’t remember much about it. I was doing the walk, kind of jog, shuffle, walk, routine. Marty came back and was again cheering me on. At one point we were talking while I was walking and it turns out that Marty does Marathons as a charity runner, so was determined to see me to the finish line.

There was a nice lady somewhere along the route that came out and greeted me and said just around the corner they had a sprinkler set up and that she would be there cheering me on. She also told me she was one of the Kayak people out in the water and that she was cheering for me all day. Sure enough when I got around the corner, there she was with a cowbell I believe and a sprinkler. It was so refreshing and just what I needed at that moment. God really knows what we need, when we need it, even when we don’t know what we need or what to ask for. Pretty cool.

Around mile 4 Bob came back on his bike and told me he didn’t think he could keep the finish line open for me. I only had 2.2 miles left and that is not what I needed to hear at that moment. I burst into tears and told him, “I needed a finish line.” He biked ahead, I plugged along, but at this point I was just hysterically sobbing. I think it was just from the whole day and knowing how hard I fought. At that point I didn’t even need to have an official time. I just needed a chute and a finish line. I just mentally could not come back into that park to no finish line. At that point though I knew there was nothing left to do, but keep plugging along and get to the park and see my friends and family.

I knew it would be harder if I kept crying so I remembered what a couple of my triathlete friends had told me in the past, “Suck it up Buttercup.” So, that is what I did. I sucked it up, stopped crying like a girl, and dug in to get this race finished. Whether or not there would be a finish line I knew I was finishing what I had started almost 5 hours earlier.

Bob came back up on his bike and told me they would have a finish line for me. I was so happy. Marty was still there cheering me along and then at some point before mile 5 a lady volunteer asked if I minded her running with me. I told her I didn’t mind, but didn’t know how much I would be able to talk. She said that was fine. At one point she asked me something so funny I almost burst out laughing, but really didn’t have the energy to do so. She asked me, “So what pace are you running at? I don’t want to slow you down or mess up your pace?” How sweet is that? I just smiled and said, “I’m on pace to finish.”

We turned a corner and it was home stretch to head back into the park and finish. I have people honking from their cars, Marty on my right and look up and who is coming towards me, but my husband, daughter, a friend, and my coach. Coach was on his bike asked me how I was doing. I answered, “Coach it was tough out there today.” He said he would meet me back at the finish line.

My daughter, Keith, and friend Siren were there to see me to the finish line. The next thing I know there is another cop pulling up and she handed me Body Glide and said, “This is from your friend, Darlene, in case you need it.” At that point I did need it. Keith got this great picture of me and Marty as I was coming into the finish line.

I was heading into the park, very emotional, and ready to finish strong. From what I hear it was quite the fanfare I had with the police escorts and all. I look up and there are about 20 people holding flags, so I would have a chute to run through. These were family members, my coach, weight watcher friends, Darlene was there, Darlene's family, and people I didn't even know that waited for me to finish. It was amazing and something I will soon not forget. They were all there for me, cheering me on, encouraging me on in my journey.

The run took me a total of 2 hours to complete. Every step I was in pain, but every step I knew I could do it and finish. I learned a lot out there about myself. I learned that no matter what I will finish something I started. In my wildest dreams I would have never put myself at the starting line of an Olympic Distance Triathlon. I would have never dreamed even a few years ago that I would have accomplished what I did out there. It was the biggest mental challenge of my life. It was the biggest physical challenge of my life so far. I had easy childbirths, so yes, this was harder then having kids. I overcame the mental battle and completed the physical battle. For someone who was once 306.2 pounds this was a huge accomplishment for me. I never once thought of quitting and that, too, is huge. I had every reason too, everyone would have understood, but it never even crossed my mind.

Another aspect that came out during this race is all the people that care about me on my journey. ALl the people that are there cheering me on. Before race day I had all kinds of wishes on my phone, emails, facebook. I had people at the start line, that probably had better things to do that day then to get up on a weekend at 7am to see me off. The finish line is something I will never forget. I had people from all walks of my life out to cheer me on. Here is a couple pictures of everyone that was there for me at the end. This doesn't count all the people there for me throughout the day. It was this support that really showed me how much my life and what I am doing is touching other people's lives and for that I am truly grateful. I hope that through my determination and courage and I can inspire someone else to get off the coach and do great things with their lives.

One thing that I love that my coach often says is, "this is an opportunity for greatness. Are you going to accept this opportunity?" July 11, 2010 was a tough day for me. I had everything working against me from the swim to the finish line, but I accepted the opportunity of greatness and had a great day out there. People worried that this would make me feel negative about triathlons. The opposite happened. It has made me even more on fire to hit my weight loss goals as soon as I can, get as fit as I can, and kick some booty out there next year. Next year, is the year I am slated to do a Half Ironman and a marathon. I'm very excited and say, "BRING IT ON." This triathlon showed me how mentally strong I am and I cannot wait to catch up physically.

Three days after the Triathlon I was diagnosed as having severe bronchitis and a bad sinus infection. I was told I probably shouldn't have done the triathlon by my doctor. Obviously, he doesn't know triathletes very well. :-) I am not able to workout for two weeks now. I just finished my 1 week working out and am still wheezing and coughing, so it is one more week of rest then I am back at the gym and get the next chapter in my journey started.

Here are my official times for the day. In my mind these times really don't matter. I finished a hard race and learned a lot about myself in the process. That's official enough for me, but I know all my tri friends like the numbers, so here you go.

Swim 1:01:48 T1 6:00 Bike 2:03:35 T2 2:30 Run 1:53:49 - Total Time 5:07:4

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hardest Tri Ever!!

First of all, let me say THIS IS NOT MY RACE REPORT. I am missing a camera cord and cannot do a race report without pictures. Ok, I can, but it's not my style.

I just got home from helping a friend of mine and cannot sleep and was reliving some of my day yesterday. Yesterday was my first Olympic Distance Triathlon. It was the HARDEST TRI EVER for me (I'm sure I will look back on this day and laugh someday, but as of right now not laughing so much). I will go into details in my race report, but I knew half way through the swim it would be a battle and boy was it ever.

I learned so much about myself out there and I just couldn't wait to share a few thoughts with you. I learned no matter what I am up against I can fight with determination to make it through. I had many opportunities where I could have just called it quits and everyone would have understood, but the exciting thing is, the new and improved Melissa never even let that thought cross her mind. Every swim stroke, every bike stroke, and every time my foot hit the pavement I knew I was closer to that finish line and it was worth the fight.

There were a few points, as I was the last athlete on the course, that I would let my mind wander and the little devil Melissa would crawl on my shoulder and start whispering things like, "You shouldn't have tried this. Did you see how big you were compared to the other athletes? What were you thinking? Your gonna do an Ironman? Ha." Then I would literally say out loud, "Would you shut up. I deserve to be out here as much as the first place finisher. I've trained, I'm doing this." I had a few of these moments, but I shut them down really quickly and proceeded on my way.

Yesterday was hard, but it has remotivated me. It has shown me what I am made up. I never knew just how much courage and determination I really do have. My coach has told me before that he can't wait until I start believing all that I am capable of. He has also told me that "most athletes who race do not have the courage you display. You will be a very strong (physically) athlete in time. Keep working hard. Keep trying hard. You are doing it- one buoy at a time." He posted that on my facebook today.

After my race yesterday I actually believe that someday I will be a strong athlete both physically and mentally. I am getting there mentally and soon the physical will follow. I will be able to do WHATEVER it is I set my mind to. I have courage. I have strength. I have determination.

A lot of people were rooting for me. It took me a little over 5 hours to do it in. I had to fight the whole way. Someone who was in charge of the race came to check on me when I was done. After asking me how I was feeling he told me that he had one more question for me. He asked, "I just want to know what is next for you?" I told him probably a sprint triathlon end of August. He was very happy with that answer because I did not let yesterday, and all the struggles, get me down.

Yesterday was hard. One of the hardest things I have had to do to date, but yet I never quit, never thought of quitting and I finished. Wow, that's pretty amazing. Shoot, I'm pretty amazing. Maybe I needed my HARDEST TRI EVER to realize this.

I cannot wait to get to the gym tomorrow and get this next chapter started.

Next up for me. Hitting 100 pounds lost, doing another triathlon end of August and then who knows what else, but I can't wait to find out.

My favorite quote that took on so much more meaning to me yesterday is this:

"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I even had the courage to start." -John J. Bingham. I've started and I won't quit EVER until I cross the Ironman Finish line. . . . . . . . . . . in Kona. :-)

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Love unconditionally without expectations

Today was a very interesting counseling session.
It was a hard one.
My counselor asked me what sounded like a simple question. Let's talk about our goals and where we want to go from here with our counseling sessions.
So, I pondered that and said I don't want to keep having expectations that are not met, and when they are not met it negatively affects my life and this mainly revolves around relationships in my life.

We began to discuss this and then he said something that stuck out. He said, "Melissa, Love unconditionally with no expectations and good things will begin to happen." I may not be quoting him directly.

If I just love people the way they come, have no conditions, have no expectations, just love 'em things beyond what I can even imagine will begin to happen. Sounds easy and at first I didn't think I really had conditions I was putting on people, but come to find out after a hard session I realized it was basically like I was saying, "I'll love you if A,B, and C happens." Now most of you that know me would probably think that last statement can't be true. I'm Melissa. I love and accept everyone. I do, but there are certain relationships where I felt like I had rights to these relationships, that I was owed certain things, that I deserved it.

My counselor said something else that stuck. He said not to let go of my longings. We all long to be loved. We all long great relationships and there is nothing wrong with that, but I need to make sure"I understand the longing, don't squish it, but realize where it is coming from and why I am longing for it."

I want to love unconditionally and not have unmet expectations side line me and hurt me anymore. Tonight I let go of all my expectations and will start loving everyone in my life unconditionally.

I also am going to work on being "crazy grateful" as James says. Sometimes I find myself only focusing on the negative and I need to start being "crazy grateful." When you are "crazy grateful, it will open your heart and warm your heart." My heart needed warming today and James helped me see how easy it really is.

So my advice for today. . . . .

"Love unconditionally without expectations because if you want something from someone you are not loving them unconditionally."

Start being "crazy grateful." You will see changes in your life.

James, even though I'm doodling in my notebook and not making eye contact during our sessions, I am listening. :-) Thanks.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Thoughts on a plane

This blog post was written on a plane while flying from Chicago to Reno to start our family vacation. Here it is:

I am frustrated because I didn't get to weigh-in at Weight Watchers today. I was all set to go before leaving for my trip, but something happend beyond my control and I couldn't go!! :-(

I haven't missed a meeting in 19 months and I do not like that I missed today. I really wanted to know how much I weighed before leaving, so I weighed my self on 'ol unreliable and it says 213.

My goal for the next three weeks on vacation is to be active, eat right, have fun, and lose 8 pounds. That will put me at 101 pounds lost. I can do it!!

Another frustrating thing regarding Weight Watchers is that I forgot my official Weight Watchers folder and member card. Those are the items I need to attend meetings anywhere in the country. I looked up meetings where I would be and was planning on going, so now not only have I missed my first meeting in 19 months, but I'll be missing three. UGH! :( I'm going to call Weith Watchers and see if they can help, but if not that's ok.

Now, I know some of you are thinking, "Sheesh, Melissa, You're on vacation, give yourself a break!" I've had enough breaks in life. I've lived that way too long. "It's the weekend. I'm taking Weight Watchers off." It's my birthday and I'll eat what I want to." " I'm on vacation. I have to eat at all those resatraunts we don't have in Illinois." You get the idea.

There is always a vacation, birthday, weekend, or some celebration. Take those holidays off from eating right and what do you get? An unhealthy, fat, depressed 300 pound woman. I refuse to do that anymore and that is why the whole Weight Watcher thing is bugging me.

On a positive note I was looking over the agenda for our trip and talking it over with the family and some friends. We are White Water rafting, hiking 2 days in Yosemite, possible kayaking, Ocean swimming, hotel swimming, walking @ Disneyland, and a possible 5k or spin class with Bob Harper from Biggest Loser (The last two are just for me.)

Tricia was listening to all this and said, "Mom, when will we rest?" I answered, "When we get home." :-)

I realized this is the first vacation where I will be able to do everything and want to do everything. There is a weight limit for white water rafting. Guess what? I'm 47 pounds below it. Hiking in Yosemite, bring it on. In years past I would have hiked, but would have had to stop and possibly not even finish.

Summer of 2008 was our last big family vacation and the last vacation where I was BIG. I was 300 pounds. We did an East Coast Trip. New York, Colonial WIlliamsburg, and DC. I was out o fshape, tired, feet and back hurting , and constantly maing my family wait for me. This year I have a feeling I'll be waiting for them.

One more exciting thing. Last trip when I sat in the aisle seat on the plane I had to lift the middle armrest and ask for a seat belt extender, then put the arm rest down after seat belting. My hips always hurt after the flight from being squished in the seat. This trip, sat down, didn't even think about the arm rest, pulled my seat belt tight, and had room to spare. I started smiling so big, told Tricia to take in the moment with me and then had her take this picture, so I could always remember this moment. The picture is of me with the seat belt extended all the way. Look how much space there is. That is how much I had to have it extended and it still wouldn't fit. Wahooooo!! Sorry about my hair, that was after a nap on the plane.

All I have to say about this trip is:

California-Bring it On!! Are you ready for me?

Just a side note to my thoughts on if I took off holidays and such. I made a list of every month and all the holidays. If I took them off and ate whatever I wanted I would never lose weight. Take a look:

Jan. New Year's Day.
Feb. Super Bowl and Velentine's Day.
March- St. Patrick's Day
May-Mother's Day and Memorial Day
June-Father's Day, Graduation, Best Friend's Birthday, and our anniversary
July-Parker's Bday, July 4th, family vacation
August-Back to School and Family BBQ's
September-Labor Day
October-my bday, Tricia's bday, halloween
November-Thanksgiving and Keith's Bday
December-Christmas all month

Don't take Holidays and celebrations off. You can do it even through all the celebrations.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Daily Herald Article goes online

I heard from the reporter about my Daily Herald article. It was not supposed to be online, but some readers contacted the reporter because they wanted it online. She asked her editor and today it was online by this after noon. Enjoy.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Naperville Triathon Race Report

Sunday, June 13, 2010 was the U.S. Women's Triathlon Series in Naperville, Illinois. It is a sprint triathlon. We swam 1/2 mile, biked 14.2 miles and ran a 5k, which is 3.1 miles. I woke up a little late and felt a little rushed in the morning, but was off and running and felt fine once I got to Dars. We arrived in tranistion with about 45 minutes to get set up.

Here I am in Transition getting my bike on the rack. It was little chilly when we first got there, but I was warm by the time I set up my tranistion area, so I was able to take off the sweat shirt and just head down to the water in my tri suit.

Here I am by my bike in tranistion after I was all ready to go. Check out my new tri suit. Wahoooo!! Looking good.

Here I am with Darlene. She is the one who got me into triathlons back in 2006. In 2005 I was at a fitness camp and they challenged us to do a race of some sort in 2006 to keep us motivated through the year. I called Dar and told her about that, she called me back and told me that she read about triathlons, I thought she was nuts, but said, "why not?" We did our first Sprint Tri in Naperville in 2006. This triathlon marks #5 for both of us.

Here I am with my great friend Michelle. We met through our blogs years ago. We both were into Triathlons. She has done this tri before, but couldn't this year, but she volunteered and was there for me all day, cheering me on. She loaned me her wetsuit, but I didn't have to use it because the water was warm enough. Michelle, thanks for all the hugs and smiles along the way. They kept me going.

Here is the swim start. Darlene and I were in wave 15. It didn't start until 7:56 even though the race started at 7am. It was a cloudy day, warm, but not hot, perfect conditions for a triathlon. We were a little worried about rain or as forcasted earlier in the week, low 80's and humid. It had rained the night before cooling off the temps. We couldn't have asked for better weather.

Once we get to the swim start and wait for our wave Dar and I have a little fun posing for pictures and creating our own body markings. Here I am posing by a tree showing off the new me in my new tri suit.

Dar and I always write fun things on our legs to encourage others. This year we wrote how much weight we have lost. Darlene has lost 50 pounds and I have lost almost 100 pounds. I could really tell the difference in my performance without the extra weight. It was amazing.

I really like this picture. Words cannot begin to describe how proud I am of myself. We got in line with our wave and kept moving up in the water. I was able to talk to the guy on the Mic and he had annouced how much weight Darlene and I had lost and wish Darlene a Happy Birthday. I was not nervous at all this time. The swim is the hardest part for me and usually I am a nervous wreck. I really was at peace when he told us to go. The swim start was a little rough, got hit a couple times, hit a couple people,but the time had come for me to get this done and finish strong. My swim was great. I felt strong. I did freestyle the whole time. My first triathlon ever in 2006, I freestyled, back stroked, doggy paddled, had a panick attack, and side stroked my way to the swim finish. This time I free styled the whole way and never panicked once. I almost cried getting out of the water it was so great. I have done this race 3 times before. My best swim time ever before today was 21:27. This year I did the swim in 18:25. Yay me!!!! I guess all those flip turns paid off.

After the swim I headed into Tranistion 1 to change for the bike. My friend Michelle was working the first aid station and snapped this picture of me heading into Tranistion. Since I had a tri suit on that I would wear the whole race all I had to do was get socks and shoes on and my helmet, then get out of there. From the end of the swim to the tranisition area is about 1/4 of a mile long. In previous years I walked that, this year, I ran. Booyah. Best tranistion 1 time in the past was 7:30, this year 5:56.

This picture is of me after the bike heading in to transition to the run. I felt really strong on the bike and even had fun cheering on my fellow bikers, telling them how sexy they all looked in spandex. It was fun and it was nice to see that I made people smile. My best bike from years past was 57:47, this year I did it in 54:07. I need to get stronger on my bike, but am very proud of the improvement.

This is me with the kids right before heading into tranistion. I didn't get to see them before the race, so this was my first time seeing them. They are the reason I started this healthy journey and I love that they can come out and see me race. I love them soooo much.

Here I am runnning my bike into the transition area. You are not allowed to ride your bike in the transition area, so there is an area where you have to dismount your bike. Keith caught this picture of me on my way in.

Normally I would not like to have a butt shot of me, but I am so excited by this picture because of just how good my butt looks and in spandex to boot.

After biking I headed into my second tranistion and headed out on the run. I felt very strong on the run. I was determined not to walk any of it and I didn't. I pushed hard to the point, when people would tell me good job I couldn't even answer. I would have to do a head nod or a wave, so they knew I acknowledged them. My mantra became, "You can rest at the finish line." I would repeat that to the beat of my running. As I was running I would start to think of how far I had come and would start to tear up, so I would stop thinking about it. I started hunting half way through the run. I would zero in on my prey and hunt them down until I passed them. It was great. This was the best I have ever felt on a run and my time showed it. My best time from previous years was 55:53 and this year, DRUM ROLL PLEASE, I did the run in 38:39. This is just AMAZING because I have NEVER done a 5k in under 45 minutes. NOW THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!! This picture is of me almost done with my run heading into the finish line.

The path was lined with spectators cheering us on and here I am just around the corner from the finish line.

Parker met me at the finisher's chute and ran in with me. This was a great moment for me to run with him. He and Tricia are why I am doing this and to have him running at my side was great.

When I crossed the finish line I was greeted by Darlene giving me my medal. It was very emotional as we both have overcome so much to get where we are today. I am so happy that Keith kept snapping away. These are pictures I will cherish for a long time. Dar and I both cried at our HUGE accomplishments and it will be a moment I never forget.

I was in tears at this point. I knew at this point I had shaved about 30 minutes off my PR. In reality it was 27 minutes. Isn't that amazing? Oh yeah it is. :-)

I love this shot of the finish line. Can you find me and Darlene?

And here is the reason we race, THE BLING!!

After the race with the kids. I loved Tricia's hat and let me tell you, that made it so much easier to find them in the crowd.

Tricia and Parker I love you so much. Thanks for coming out to the race and cheering me on. I could not do this without your smiling faces in the crowd and your cheers. I love you both so much and you mean the world to me.

The sweet, sweet, family shot.

Me and my honey. Thanks for everything. I love you so much and apprecite your support and encouragement on my journey. Thanks for all the hours I am able to work out and go the gym and thank for accepting the fact that I am part of this crazy thing we call Triathlon. Even when you don't get it, you accept it, and love me through it all and that's all someone can ask for.

My cool babe!!

Check out Tricia's glasses. Who do you see?

This is me after the race calling a few of my friends to let them know how bananas my triathlon was. Don't you think my phone is quite appealing?

This is a lady named Melinda, but her friends call her Millie. We met on the bike. I slowed down and talked to her for a few seconds. She is on an amazing journey herself and has lost 65 pounds already. This is a picture of her crossing the finish line. This was her first triathlon and I am so proud of her. Millie, way to go and way to kick my butt on the swim. She did the swim in 16 minutes.

Here we are after the race showing off our bling.

This race was an amazing race for me. I could tell how much stronger I have become and I really look forward to future races as I continue to lose more weight and become more and more stronger. I really want to take a minute to thank my coach, Bob Mitera, of Kokua Multisports. Bob, I know I do all the work, but if I didn't have you coaching me along I wouldn't be where I am today. I appreicate all you do for me. I appreciate all the time you spend creating my workouts, talking to me on the phone, meeting me at the park to workout and you know what means a lot to me, when you do the workouts with me. You are a great person, a great coach, and a great friend. Thanks.

Another cool thing about this race is that my number was 150 and that is my goal weight. I'm on my way.

Here are my official times for the U.S. Women's Triathlon Series 2010:

Swim: 18:25
Bike: 54:07
T2: 3:06
Run: 38:39
Total time: 2:00:11