How’s the Sugar Addiction?

20181020_215934Let’s just start with this so it is very clear: My 3 day fast, my sugar detox, every “diet” I am attempting… has nothing to do with weight loss. It is simply to get healthy again. To kick an addiction that is literally affecting my liver, my skin, my mind and my overall health.

I have a sugar addiction. I believe many of us do. Actually, I KNOW many of us do based on the dozens of you that have come to me since I shared my addiction publicly. I went to a nutritionist I respect and admire deeply who told me that if I do not stop my high sugar/high starch diet it will only get worse.

Based on tests she said my body was in an “autoimmune cascade” with adrenal & serotonin levels very low, joint & liver issues and also positive for Lyme disease.  She also thinks I have a wheat allergy, and if my current high sugar diet doesn’t stop it could lead to other autoimmune diseases like lupus.

That’s when I decided to do my 3 day fast. I wanted to “reset”. Try to give my body some time to heal and possibly my mind some time to rid the addiction.

The Fast:  72 hours of only water and lemon.

This actually was not as bad as you may think. You definitely have lows, but in a way having NO food made it easier to not choose the WRONG food.

I had some low energy moments, but for the most part I felt pretty good. My mind was clearer than usual and I felt more present and focused. The final day (Wednesday) I woke up a little woozy and I had a 6am-730pm day ahead, teaching 5 classes and training 4 clients.

The day ahead was daunting and with a feeling of wooziness to start the day I got a little anxiety and told myself if I can’t push through today I cannot risk missing 9 hours of training. At that moment I gave myself permission to eat something if that’s what it took to make it through the day.

However, after battling anxiety attacks in the past (many years ago I got stomach bug during class and proceeded to get the bug 2 more times that winter,  causing years of anxiety pre class when I feared I would get sick with a class of 20 depending on me. Side note – that sickness, 6 years ago was due to Candida Infection = sugar = common theme in my health)

Anyway, I was able to recognize that a large part of my wooziness was anxiety & I was able to breath through it and proceed with class. One key moment happened after this 6am class,  which I wasn’t even sure I could complete. One of our trainers, Kim, took this class and came up to me after and said, “I don’t know how you’re doing this, but that class was the most on point I have seen you in ages. That was phenomenal and you killed it.”

That comment has stayed with me to this day.

After the 3 day fast I eased back into eating with a salad. I was extremely hopeful at this point that my diet was fixed. Taking away food left me so much more time to work on other parts of me. I read, I meditated, I journaled, I stretched- I felt great.

It was amazing when one sensory was taken (taste) how I seemed to crave the others. I sat in bed at night with my salt lamp on, my essential oils burning, my Into the Mystic Radio playing, my hot water and lemon (heaven..who knew?) and my journal. I felt complete and so happy. Why would I ever go back to this horrible addiction that seemed to shadow all of these other amazing sensories?

Why?  WHY?? Well, I guess because it is an addiction, and addictions pull you back in.  I started with making “fat bombs”. Healthy craving fixes. Coconut oil, cacao powder, Stevia, peanut butter. Something to “take care of my craving if it came on.”  Well, I would eat 10 fat bombs in a day, atleast. To me it felt like an alcoholic being told they could just have one beer. It didn’t work.

**side note: with every detox I get one big takeaway. After this fast I switched mostly to Decaf coffee since my headaches had gone away.  For someone with anxiety, this has been big.**

I don’t know what’s worse about this addiction. Is it the feeling of being OUT OF CONTROL at night, telling yourself to not get up and just make tea, but you end up in a fat bomb comma? Or is it the fact that YOU KNOW that no sugar = clear headed and sugar = brain fog and you STILL DO IT? That feeling of having NO control is what drives me insane. I am so disciplined in every other area of my life, why can’t I get this under control?

Maybe because it’s a real addiction. Maybe because when rats were made addicted to sugar and cocaine then given both as an option they chose sugar. It’s real. It sucks. But, I know I can kick this and I know you can too.

So, what’s next? After doing a bunch of research on different diets it seems as though The Whole30 is the best bet for me.  I need specifics.  Shopping lists, recipes, community, etc.

From the whole30:

“Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it. Are your energy levels inconsistent or non-existent? Do you have aches and pains that can’t be explained by over-use or injury? Are you having a hard time losing weight no matter how hard you try? Do you have some sort of condition, like skin issues, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies, or chronic pain, that medication hasn’t helped? These symptoms are often directly related to the foods you eat—even the “healthy” stuff. So how do you know if (and how) these foods are affecting you?

Strip them from your diet completely. Eliminate the most common craving-inducing, blood sugar disrupting, gut-damaging, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the reset button with your health, habits, and relationship with food, and the downstream physical and psychological effects of the food choices you’ve been making. Learn how the foods you’ve been eating are actually affecting your day-to-day life, long term health, body composition, and feelings around food.”

I am also a fan of the keto diet and will implimant parts of that into my 30 days.  However, I am a little concerned with both these diets as they are largely dependant on meat and I do not eat meat.

This has been a battle in my mind and a conversation my husband and I have had a few times.  I am open to going back to meat, but I would stay very true to my beliefs and continue preaching passionately about the animal cruelty side of meat eating as well as the factory farms and the processed meat causing cancer.

Erik and I are contacting local farms, (some of them are good friends) and find out not only how the animals are treated while they are alive, but more importantly, how they are slaughtered. This is very important to me.

If I do feel like I am not getting enough nutritients without the meat and my body is craving it, I will strongly consider adding very small amounts of meats back into my diet. It has been 6 years now since I have had meat, so this is how serious I am about fixing my health.

I plan to start the Whole30 on Monday and I also have my first doctors appointment in years on Thursday (Collaborative Natural Health…yay!!)

I will keep you posted how this next “reset” goes and I hope you continue to share your obstacles with me as well.  Together, we can do this!!!

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I Have an Addiction

I battled with writing this blog, but after a couple conversations last week with my clients, I thought I had to.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that social media is a bit of smoke and mirrors. That you do a good job of highlighting everything you do that is good, but very rarely does it show the bad. The ugly.

So maybe that is why when I explain to my clients that I have a VERY bad addiction to sugar they respond, “no way. Not you. I would have never of guessed that.”

My thought is, “really, you wouldn’t have guessed that?” I guess it’s because it’s just been something I’ve dealt with my whole life.

I seem to have many other areas dialed in. I’ve learned and try to practice transcendental meditation regularly. I spend countless hours listening to motivational videos & podcasts. I’ve read so many books about finding your purpose, the law of attraction and becoming your best self.  I train hard and have had a pretty successful running and racing career.  I’ve eliminated most toxins in my life switching from candles to essential oils & have eliminated all toxic chemicals in my cleaning products, beauty care etc.

I’ve spent the last 6 years vegetarian and eating as clean as possible. However, there is one thing I can’t seem to kick no matter how hard I try….SUGAR!!

It’s not like I’m eating Oreos, Snickers or Captain Crunch. It’s organic cookies, dark chocolate, Lara Bars, Halo Top Ice Cream, etc. However, I feel like my cravings are out of control, especially at night. I feel I have no control of my actions, and that drives me insane.

On top of that, I know it is causing me to feel like shit. It’s hard to explain, and I won’t go too deep into it, I just KNOW that the way I feel is not the real me. Not even close to the best me.  The anxiety. The highs and lows. The pain all over my body – always. The brain fog.

These things aren’t new, they’ve been ongoing symptoms forever. I’ve always known that sugar was likely the culprit, but it’s an addiction…it’s not so easy to JUST. STOP. EATING. IT!!! Which is what I tell myself constantly.

I think sugar is an addiction that so many of us suffer from, and I think many of us have no idea how bad it is affecting us.  It was recently when I started to get really bad eczema that I said “enough is enough!”

This was the physical ‘red flag’ I needed to make a big change. However, soon after mentally I started to make the shift as well.  I started to ask myself, “are you willing to let this one thing get in the way from Optimal Health?”

So, I took the first step. I went and saw my mom’s best friend who is so passionate about nutrition and using food to heal the body. She has been studying & practicing nutrition longer than I’ve probably been alive and after doing biofeedback on me, she looked at me with compassion and said, “we have to kick this sugar my dear.”

She then went into the long list of issues my body is experiencing which are all direct affects from my high sugar/starch diet.

So, I need to make some drastic changes which includes a 30 day sugar detox. I will jumpstart this with a 3 day fast (water only) starting tomorrow.

I won’t go into too many details of my diet because I don’t want anyone to think that what I’m doing is right for them. Every person is unique and you shouldn’t do anything until you see a professional. While my plan may seem drastic to you, it’s personal and it’s being done with professional guidance and lots of my own research and education.

The point of this blog isn’t to tell you to do the same thing I’m doing. It’s for a couple reasons. 1. To hold me accountable: this is an insanely hard task for me. While many were surprised when I told them of my addiction, it’s real and it sucks. It’s a step that needs to be addressed to reach my optimal health and full potential in life.  2. To share my journey with others who also may be suffering from sugar addiction or a poor diet.  I want others to understand how much your diet affects how you feel and your health.  I hope to be a guinea pig for some other people who may be ready to make some changes and start to feel better too.

Wish me luck freinds!!!

Become Uncommon Among The Uncommon

We just went through another major heat wave in Connecticut.  Several days in a row in the mid to upper 90’s with the humidity levels near 100%.  Many who know me, know that this is when I thrive.  On the hottest day of the heat wave I ran for an hour, biked for an hour and did (2) one hour workouts. While many just label me “crazy” for this, a couple of people this week actually asked me what makes me do it.  So, while I ran down Hebron Avenue with the real heat feeling more like 110-120, I thought hard about why I do it.trail 2

Here’s what I came up with.  I truly think that we currently live in a world where people have become soft.  People want quick fixes, they want to be comfortable, and they want things handed to them.  I think many people have become  weak minded and don’t spend enough time “callusing the mind” as David Goggins would say.

*I have to pause here and say this: If you do not workout in the heat I am not automatically calling you weak minded.  That may not be the way you push yourself.  Maybe you do other things that take you out of your “comfort zone”.  Maybe you wake up at 4am to workout or do something else to challenge yourself.  Maybe you go for a run in negative temps in the winter, etc  The key is doing what YOU DON’T WANT TO DO*

trail 1David Goggins talks about the sentence that changed his life and the story hit me hard. He was watching a special on Navy SEALS and the Commanding Officer referred to the SEALS and said, “we live in a life where mediocrity is awarded.  These men detest mediocrity.”   In the same interview Goggins says, “I want to be uncommon among the uncommon.” Those words all hit me hard.  He says, “most people quit at 40%.”

Listening to Goggins speak, many would get defensive.  They would call him crazy because that makes them feel better.  It’s hard to get real with yourself and ask, “am I pushing myself to my limits?  Am I stretching my limits or just meeting my self-imposed limits?”  Mental toughness is a lifestyle.  It’s day-in and day-out hard work to constantly do what you don’t WANT to do…to do what is not COMFORTABLE.  However, the lessons and the growth that happens when you commit to this lifestyle is like nothing else

These are the sentences that make me do what I do.  Running in the heat when 98% of the people would never do it…that’s the way that I try to separate myself from the others. That’s the way I try to become “uncommon among the uncommon”.  When I do 50 mile races I am among uncommon people.  Not too many will do more than a marathon.  However, if I want to stand out among those uncommon people, I have to do what others won’t.  That means finding the hardest hill I can find and not leaving until I do 10 hill repeats.  It means going for a run when 98% of others won’t.

I am not crazy for working out in the hot temps.  I make sure I am safe, because heat exhaustion is real, but I do it because it is what makes me feel good.  I’ve said it so many times before, but I’ll say it again.  I don’t want to be average.  I know I was not put on this earth to be average. So, that’s why I do what I do…I hope it makes just a little sense.

My Sister – The Silent Inspiration

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Couch to 5K Workout done!!!

Some of you may not even know that Matt and I have a sister.  Actually, that’s why I am writing this post, because you need to know about her.  Kristie is the oldest of all of us, and she lives in Windsor Locks. You may have seen her at mission FITNESS taking an occasional class, attending a seminar, or cheering Matt and I on at a race or fundraising event.

Kristie has been open with her journey, so I am sure she doesn’t mind me sharing. Her weight has been an ongoing battle, she has seen highs and lows and has fought weight loss for many years.  Currently, she is on a great track and has recently loss 42 lbs, dropping 5lbs last week.

When she posted that she was doing the C25K (Couch to 5K) app and had a tough time with her last workout, I replied saying to let me know if I can do anything. She wrote back and said, “maybe you can run with me tomorrow” I cannot tell you how happy this made me.  For her to allow me to share this journey with her and to trust me enough to run by her as she tackled a tough run challenge really made me feel good.

I can’t imagine what it must be like for my sister. While she is struggling to lose weight she has a brother and sister who are doing IRONMANS, ultra marathons etc.  However, here’s the thing about my sister, even if she had the desire to do events like these, she probably wouldn’t.

Why?  Because doing endurance events like those above takes a ton of time, and a little bit of selfishness.  Well, maybe a lot of selfishness.  And Kristie is the most unselfish person you will ever meet.  I hope for one second Kristie does not think that me doing an IRONMAN makes me any better than her.  While I was out biking 100 miles on a Sunday morning, she was volunteering at her local church, and teaching CCD classes.  While I spent hours upon hours in the woods alone bettering myself, she is busy being the Girl Scout Leader for her daughter and taking a group of girls into the woods to make THEM better.  While I spend the summer hours in the lake swimming, she is out tutoring those who are having a tough time in school.  While my job as a personal trainer allows me to workout while I get paid, her job is working with children with autism, a job that not many would be able to do with so much love and passion like she does.

So, as I ran the trails Sunday morning right before I was going to meet her, I couldn’t help but think that some may think I am inspiring for what I do.   (Don’t get me wrong, that is a big reason why I do what I do) but, it must be said that my sister – and so many out there just like her – are just as inspiring, if not more.

I saw Kristie pushing herself as she ran up the hill during her C25K app and thought it was no different than me pushing myself at the 5k the day before.  We were both out of breath, nearly puking, wanting to stop…. and neither of us did.  So whether you are doing a 6 minute mile or a 15 minute mile…it doesn’t matter.  If you are giving it all you have and you DO NOT QUIT and keep showing up, YOU ARE INSPIRING.

So Kristie, you will probably never do an IRONMAN because you would never take that much time for yourself… and man, do I honor that.  However, what I hope you continue to realize is 30 minutes to an hour a day you MUST take for yourself and keep doing what you’re doing.  It is the most unselfish thing you can do…because a HEALTHY you is so important for your future and your daughters future.

I am so proud of you and I know that you will keep progressing.  Not only is our family here for you, but I KNOW that the mission FITNESS family is here for you too!!

Keep pushing, keep inspiring.

The Comeback

The Comeback

Two months ago I couldn’t run a 5k at my Marine Corp Marathon pace. I would get on the treadmill and 3 miles felt like hell.  You may remember a blog post I published around this time.

One month ago I ran the loop I’ve done hundreds of times at Case Mountain. I was beyond frustrated when I had to walk two times during a one mile climb on this loop. In the past, I would never need to walk this hill.

I was starting at, what felt like, square one, and it wasn’t easy.  I’ve pushed hard to come back this last month or so. Treadmill runs have been beyond uncomfortable, pushing PAST exhaustion each workout. When I want to quit,  I push harder. I step off the treadmill every time feeling like I may puke.

Will Smith says in one of our motivational videos, “the only thing that is distinctly different about me is I’m not afraid to die on the treadmill. If we get on the treadmill together, either you’re getting off first, or I’m going to die.”  That lines always gets me.

I say this a lot, but people think I’m a natural runner. That they will never run as fast as me because they are not a runner. This makes me crazy. People have no idea what kind of limits they are putting on themselves. Maybe because they truly don’t know what they are capable of.  Or maybe because they are too scared to find out.

But here’s the thing….I’m probably not naturally better than you. Here’s why I’m a good runner. Because throughout my basketball career I was always one of/the best on the team. Not bragging, just telling it how it is. My team and coach depended on me for every win. So when I played in college and we went into TRIPLE overtime in the Conference Championship and I felt like I had NOTHING left….I had to keep pushing. I couldn’t raise my hand to be taken out, because that wasn’t  an option.

During my childhood and young adulthood I developed mental calluses. I became mental strong. I was tough and I brought that into my adulthood.  However, from 20-28 years old I got a little soft. And in these last few months I did as well. Why? Because I stopped practicing and training my mind to be tough.

That’s why I love endurance racing. You develop a mental toughness and discover things about yourself that you NEVER would find out living comfortably. I truly believe that through suffering we find out who we are and what we are made of. Bottom line.

So these last couple of months I’ve worked to get my mental strength back. Tough treadmill workouts and getting back into the trails. I’ve also saturated myself with motivational videos and AMAZING conversations with my brother, the owner of mission FITNESS.

He has recently become a HUGE fan of David Goggins and during our runs and workouts we have spent a lot of time talking about how many of us barely touch what we are capable of. We run from pain and suffering, when it really is what we should be running to.

If you think this is crazy then you are fooling yourself. We ALL have so much inside of us that we need to work out. A lot of us have deep issues that we are running from. We take the easy route because it’s comfortable. Like I said in my last blog, I’ve fully realized that for me, there is no true happiness in that route.

So, today I made a decision to push myself further and harder than I have in awhile.  That 6 mile loop with that tough hill….today I did it three times for a total of 18 miles. I didn’t walk once in all three loops. Partly because I am in better physical shape than I was a month ago…but, more importantly because I have started to build my mental calluses back up.

I killed that run today. It wasn’t easy. My feet killed, my legs hurt, and the last 2 miles I was deep in the hurt locker….and it was the most alive I have felt in 6 months.

Stop running from the pain. Stop running from the suffering. You have NO IDEA what you will learn about and do for yourself by pushing past the barriers you have created for yourself.

 

 

What’s Next?

What’s Next?

You may have remembered me saying on Facebook or on this blog that I was ready to be “normal” for a while.  Sleep past 6am every once in a while.  Workout once a day for an hour.  Skip a day of working out if it didn’t fit into the schedule.  Play lots of golf.

Why? Well, for the last 3 years I have had “key” races on my calendar that I worked hard for.

2015 the 50 Mile Championships at Cayuga.

2016 Vermont 50 where I trained for the win.

2017 IRONMAN Lake Placid.

This meant lots of early morning wake ups.  It meant saying no to a lot of social events and dialing in nutrition and sleep for maximum performance.  It was lonely and it was tough.  It brought blood, and LOTS of sweat and tears.  It made me question what the hell I was doing and broke me down physically, mentally and spiritually.

So, why did I do it?  Why?  Because when I look up at those three races listed and I think about those days….June 1, 2015….September 25, 2016 and July 24, 2017…..I can’t stop the tears from streaming down my face.  Those three days…and the thousands of hours that got me to those finish lines…taught me more about myself then ANYTHING ever will.  The amount of joy I felt in those 29 total hours of racing cannot be described.  The pride I felt at the end of each of those races were worth every ounce of pain I endured.

blog5However, after IRONMAN I thought that maybe it was time to take a year off.  For the first few weeks it worked well.  “So, this is what it feels like to be a regular person?”  However, it quickly became old.  I kept trying to convince myself that this is what I needed to do.  I needed to give my body a rest.  I needed to not have the stress of training for something.  I listened to those around me, “take some time off…stop doing this to yourself.”  Yes…this is what I needed.

One thing…I was lying to myself and I knew it.  What I need to do is keep pushing myself EVERY DAY and EVERY YEAR to be a better me.  And waking up late(r), doing casual workouts, etc IS NOT WORKING!

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I don’t regret these last few months.  I learned a lot during them and also gained a perspective that will serve me in my career as a coach and personal trainer.  I learned that mental toughness is a habit.  It is a muscle that needs to be trained the same way any other muscle group has to be trained.  It becomes so EASY to give up during a workout when giving up is an option.  It becomes so easy to start eating shitty food when it won’t affect your performance.  It becomes easy to become MENTALLY WEAK and start to convince yourself that this life is okay.

When you aren’t stretching, growing, and training for something bigger than you, you lose a certain “something”.  I KNOW THAT NOW.  These last few months have taught me that.  The only way you know what I am talking about is if you have been through it.  I have realized long ago that you can NEVER explain to people why you would want to “run for 50 miles” or “do these crazy things”.  It is hard to understand until you have done it.

blog3Being on the other side of it right now, when 3 miles on a treadmill feels like an eternity….I can understand why people think it is impossible.  I can understand why people think it is stupid and crazy.  I am there now.  I understand.  But I don’t like it.

However, what I have going for me is I’ve seen the other side.  I know I have it in me to push through this funk that I am in and get back to the other side.  I know I am capable of 50, 100, 200 mile races even though 3 miles feels SO. DAMN. HARD. right now.  I KNOW I need to get back to spending time with those who are stretching their limits and living a life of passion.  Those that are literally CHANGING PEOPLES LIVES by what they are doing on a day to day basis.  I realize that by distancing myself from them it made it easier to think, “this life is okay.  It’s okay to just live this life that may not challenge you.”

blog4Ha!  Nope, that’s not me.  It physically hurts me to not be that person right now.  I know deep in my soul I was born to be the person I am when I am training for these events that I once thought were impossible.  I know I am a better wife, daughter, sister, friend and person when I am that person.

It has been something I have known for awhile, but it has been easy to bury it down because I’ve been so busy and not able to spend much time with those who inspire me.  Then last week happened.

blogIt started with a mission FITNESS meeting.  A sat there and looked around at my coworkers who are so freaking inspiring.  Each one of them makes me want to be better in one area of my life.  The are all working every day to be the best version of themselves, and it is so special to be a part of.  Toward the end of our meeting, Matt took time to thank Kim as we celebrated her 4 year anniversary at mission.  Anyone who knows Kim knows what she has done for mission.  It is incredible.

To think of the lives she changes each and every day brought tears to my eyes.  Isn’t that what life is about? I am so passionate about the fact that it is our DUTY to make this world a better place by being in it.  My TEAM at MF does that, certainty Kim.  He then said, “I don’t know how you do it.  I wake up at 430am and you already have an inspiring post on MFers on a mission Facebook Group.  You work full time, your a single Mom and in July you are going to do an IRONMAN.  I don’t know how the hell you are going to do this, but I know you will.”

Kim then said with so much certainty, “I WILL”  That’s when I lost it.  See, it isn’t about the IRONMAN.  It is more than that.  Kim will do this IRONMAN and know that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.  More importantly, she will now take away so many peoples excuse that they “don’t have time”.  By her doing this IRONMAN she knows she is affecting hundreds of peoples lives.  That’s powerful.

Fast forward a week.  I have a new fire under me.  I woke up again and realized it is my duty to inspire others through my actions.  It’s what I chose to do in my career and I know it’s what I was put on this earth to do.  So, my workouts picked up a notch after that.  Wednesday I was on the treadmill, finishing my last half mile at a 7:02 pace.  I was dying.  Then…Kim walks in.

She walks over the treadmill and asks how much longer I have.  I say 1/4 mile.  She says, “well pick it up then.”  Suddenly, my 7:02 became 6:45.  I felt her energy, “that’s it!” 6:20.  “Hell Yeah” as I finished at a 6:02 and I felt amazing.  3 minutes ago I had nothing left.  What changed?

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What changed was who I was surrounded by.  I jumped on the bike and talked to Kim for the next 30 minutes.  She listened as I poured my heart out to her after she asked, “what are you training for?”  She didn’t need me to explain why I needed something on the schedule.  She gets it.  And I realized in that moment that this is what I need…this is why I feel my life is so broken right now.

Surround yourself with those who get it and that will push you to your greatness.  I couldn’t be happier to have so many of those people around me…it’s time to start spending more time with them and time to get something on the calendar.

YOU are an IRONMAN

YOU are an IRONMAN

I was told it would be life changing. That it would be one of the best days of my life. With each day that passes post race, I can honestly say they may have been right.

This race holds so many memories, thoughts, emotions, and lessons for me. Warning: this is a long one.

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PRERACE:
About 10 years ago a sat on the couch with my husband watching the IRONMAN Kona championship on TV.  I knew of traithlons, but was unfamiliar with an IRONMAN. I will never forget him explaining it to me, “They swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles then run 26.2”

We then had a ligit argument, me telling him he had it wrong. There’s no way possible a human can do all of that continuously. At the time I was working as a banker, getting into hiking and just starting to get into 5ks. (My goal at the time was a 5k under 24 minutes)  I was a collegiate athlete, but after college got a little lost in life, struggling to find my place when my whole life (basketball) was done.

Fast forward a few years. I find myself in Lake Placid watching my first IRONMAN. As I said in my last blog entry, I was overwhelmed with emotion and awe of the event. I cried most of the day, as I watched THOUSANDS of athletes complete 140.6 miles. They seemed no different than me, some even 70+ years old.

This was when we had just started mission FITNESS and I was starting to get my fire back as an athlete. I had left the banking world, luckily snapping out of it & realizing this was not me, this was not my destiny. I would not be a 9-5 corporate zombie I was becoming, comfortable with being comfortable…I was meant to be more than that.

So, I sat at that finish line 7 years ago and vowed to myself I would do this event.

However, as the years passed I realized my extreme love for the woods and the mountains and I ended up doing a few ultra marathons (50k/50 mile trail runs) all while never missing but one year of IRONMAN Lake Placid.

While in Placid I would bike the course (one loop) but get into the Adirondacks as much as possible. While the excitement of the triathlon buzzed around town, I found my true bliss deep in the mountains away from the craziness.

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Then race day came. An energy no one can hide from. At 630am you are all-in, fully vested in every athlete in that race. Mike Reilly begins to get the crowd into it from the jump, and from that point forward the day is forever a part of you. Whether you are 8 or 80 years old, a triathlete or out of shape, this event makes it hard to walk away from without part of you wanting to one day be on that course.

So, 10 years after I passionately argued that 140.6 miles was not humanly possible, I began my journey to prove myself wrong. To up the anti even more, at our MF goal setting party I wrote down a lofty “stretch goal”…to complete it under 12 hours.

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As the reality of life, 2 jobs, and training for this race set in, I slowly started to shift my goal. I opted to not buy a new TRI bike, and use my old road bike instead. I refused to put THOUSANDS of dollars into this sport, just to be faster.

This was hard for me, being so competitive,  but it was truly against everything Erik and I are trying to do in our lives. Buy less, live more. Minimize, minimize. This proved to be very difficult in the triathlon world. I will say one of the hardest things for me in this process was all of the “stuff”. I hate it.  I hate that the person next to me can buy a more expensive bike & $2000 wheels and beat me by an hour because of it. I missed running in the trails when the ONLY way to beat someone was to outwork them. End of rant. Sorry.

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So, as my training ramped up and my decision was made to not buy speed, I decided the 12 hour goal was going to be very tough and developed a plan B:

1.) Enjoy the race and LOOK like you’re enjoying it.

2.) Finish happy and healthy & able to watch the midnight finish.

RACE DAY:

As the race approached my level of stress and anxiety dissipated a little. I think I kind of let go of the uncontrollables & knew what would happen, would happen.

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However, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t  worried. The thought of the swim would immediately break me down, to the point just a few days prior I had a ligit emotional breakdown thinking of the swim….Full blown sobbing, my brother and Erik reassuring me I would be fine.

*I had to add this because I think for some odd reason people think I’m unlike them. I have the same fears, nerves,  etc. This was truly a race I was 100% uncomfortable with.  (I should add here that I went into this race with only 4 total triathlons under my belt in 7 years. All sprint tris. Nothing more. This was truly unchartered territory for me. I felt lost, confused, nervous, and truly scared.)

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SWIM START:

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I was very fortunate I had 4 amazing peeps doing this race with me. As I made my way to the water I not only had Erik and Matt with me, but I was joined by my childhood friend, Kyle, and her friend Jolene. We then met up with Drew and Mike, Kyle’s boyfriend and friend. The four of us were able to spend the next 15 minutes together, before the race start.  This was huge. I cannot thank these 4 enough for their support during the race.

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As I started to file into the water I looked to the side and saw Amy (an amazing friend who happens to be a Tri coach)  She looked at me with so much confidence and said, “you’ve got this.”  I believed her. Then I saw Patti, so excited for me all week and all day.  Lastly, my husband Erik was right there on the other side of the fence as I marched forward into that water. I will NEVER forget seeing him with tears in his eyes, as he could only nod at me. He was literally there every step of the way as I approached the scariest race I’ve ever done. As always he knew what it took to get there more than anyone. As always, he was my biggest fan.

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I won’t go into too much detail, but I managed to complete the swim without having a full blown anxiety attack  (my biggest fear) If you saw an aerial I’m pretty sure I zig zagged the whole race.

“Why is no one around me?” – OMG, I’m almost on shore.

“Why am I being attacked by 5 men?” OMG, I’m almost at the boueys.

And so on…

Finally, 1:18 later, I was on my feet and running down the chute. SO. HAPPY!!!!!

BIKE:

I cannot say enough how amazing the volunteers were. As I transitioned to bike they basically did everything for me. Unreal.

I have to say the first 10 miles or so on the bike my hamstrings hurt SO BAD. I began to think, “how the hell will I do this for 112 miles?” Luckily,  that went away at some point 🙂

Soon we would hit the downhill. I was super nervous about this, and I held on for dear life for 8 miles while I got passed by huge men literally doing 50 mph.  By the time I got the bottom my arms were so tired from the stress and hanging on so tight. I passed a couple people on the side of the road who crashed on this downhill. Urgh.

The next stretch was flats where I was told several times prior to the race to hydrate and EAT like crazy. I did, in fact I followed my nutrition plan almost to a T.

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Amy told me to make sure my first loop on the bike I go easy. Super easy.  Take in the scenery, and if you aren’t then slow down. I did this and the few times I did catch myself trying to attack I slowed.

I read the day earlier that the elevation gain in those 112 miles was 13,800 ft. which scared the shit out of me, but I have to say the bike was fine. East Haddam and Glastonbury Hills were amazing training.

The two things I wish I changed on the bike was:

1.) Slowing at each aid station to get water/Gatorade. It was chilly and I wasn’t  sweating which leads to…

2.) I had to stop 4 times on bike to pee. This added a bunch of time to my bike.

If I only stopped at every other aid I would have saved a ton of time plus less peeing.  Oh well.

Final bike time: 6:36

RUN:

This was the moment I envisioned so many times leading up to the race.  Being done with the with the disciplines that I was really worried about (bike fears= flat tire/crash) and on my own 2 feet!!

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As I started the run route I saw all of my family and friends, hugged them, and I couldn’t have been more happy to be feeling good. I thought I consciously SLOWED DOWN because I knew I could go too hard here, but apparently that didn’t work; my first 3 miles were a 7:20 pace. Whoops.

I have to say, at this point I knew I had to do a 3:50 marathon  (based on my fuzzy calculating) to do sub 12 hr race. This was a constant battle in my head to go for it and to forget about it to ensure a healthy finish.

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I felt good, but Bill told me time and time again, “go slow on that first 13 miles. You can easily blow up in the 2nd 13 if you don’t”

I was passing people like crazy, literally hundreds of people on the run. People were cheering for me like I was a rockstar (your bib says your name so everyone calls you by name=awesome) While I occasionally doubted  being able to sustain this pace as I saw others puking, cramping, etc. I truly was confident in myself.

Why???  Because I trained hard. Very hard. I knew I was different than most of them. When my plan said 90 mile ride, I did 90. Not 89. When I saw my car on a run and I still had 15 minutes,  I circled my car for 15 minutes. Thirsty, hurting and just wanting to get in that car….I kept running. Why? BECAUSE OF THIS MOMENT. If I stopped I would be the one puking and cramping. To be elite you have to go the extra mile. You have to do what others won’t. I learned that as a child playing basketball and I NEVER want to lose that quality.

So, I kept running. I ran the hills that I was told to walk. I ran, and I continued to feel good. Spectators told me I looked amazing, and I felt amazing….until about mile 16. Things started to shift a little then. I kept running, but my stomach started to turn a little and I could only stomach water.

At this point I was trying to calculate and I knew I could hold a 10 minute mile and still do sub 12.  However, I kept pushing and I was soon out of River Rd and climbing back into town. 3 miles of climbing,  an easy 2 mile out and bike and I was in that oval.

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(At this point I saw Kyle who ran to me with open arms saying, “YOU did it. I’m so proud of you, you’re amazing.” I can’t say enough about this girl. She is just absolutely amazing and to do this race with her was such an unforgettable experience. Her, Drew, Jolene, and Mike are just amazing people and I can’t wait for many more adventures with them!)

I had just passed one of the many amazing signs Matt had made for me, this one saying “you haven’t come this far to only come this far. Finish it.” It had one of my fav pics of me high fiving my Dad as I approached my first overall race win.

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So, that’s what I did. I finished it. I entered that oval the way I spent so much time envisioning. Feeling strong,  with my family and friends on the sideline, with enough time to hug them all and still finish sub 12 hours!

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And to hear those famous words by my dude Mike Reilly,  “Darcy Lucas you are an IRONMAN”

Run time: 3:40

Final Time: 11:50

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