Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Intention: Be Relentless

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas

And so, here we are.

Over 440 hours of training complete this year alone, over $12,000 raised to help end family homelessness since we started this initiative, and one more race to go.

My intention is to be relentless - on Saturday and in what comes after.

Relentless about seeing the race as a celebration.

Relentless about staying in the moment and following my race plan.

Relentless in my form, my breath, my focus, and my effort.

Relentless about constant forward motion.

Relentless about remembering my reasons.

Relentless about knowing that the finish line will really just be my next transition area.

Relentless about taking the lessons I've learned over the last two years and continuing to cultivate them.

Relentless about living my very best life -- and making that life matter.

See you on the other side!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Nitty Gritty: Part 2

On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock.” - Thomas Jefferson

On to the next pre-race step: What to wear?

The weather here in beautiful North Carolina seems to be following the stock market. Temperatures have been constantly up and down. Over the last few days, I've worn various combinations of the following:

- tank top
- flip flops
- rain coat
- wool socks
- turtleneck sweater
- gloves
-running shorts
- running capris
- biking tights
- arm warmers

During this morning's run, the air temperature was in the 30s -- but by this time on Saturday morning, things are supposed to warm up significantly at the race site.

Soooo....what clothing will I be bringing with me? In short, pretty much every piece of training clothing I own.

On Friday, I will check-in my bike, along with my swim-to-bike and bike-to-run gear bags. What I ultimately wear will be a game-day decision, but here's what I'm thinking:

Wear to swim and put in gear back at swim start:
- fleece
- warm hat
- socks
- old running shoes

During swim:
- tri suit top and bottom
- sports bra
- sleeveless long john wetsuit (Cold arms = motivation to swim fast!)
And if it's cold....
- silicon cap under my race-issued cap if it's cold

Pack in swim-to-bike bag:
- bike shoes with toe covers attached
- aero helmet
- biking bolero
- sunglasses
- socks
And if it's cold.....
- beanie to wear under helmet
- gloves
- tights (I'll just pull running tights up over my damp tri shorts)
- dry jersey (I'll change in transition if it's really cold)

Pack in bike-to-run bag:
- running shoes
- race belt
- running hat
- run nutrition
And if it's cold...
- keep bolero and gloves on

Put in family's car:
- dry clothes to change into at finish line!

Shoo!! Am I forgetting anything? By the time I actually get to the start line, I'll be so ready to just turn my brain off and GO!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Nitty Gritty: Part 1

It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” - John Wooden

Three short workouts done, two more to go.
Pre-race pedicure? Check!
Pre-race yoga and meditation? Check, check!
Pre-race massage? Taking place tonight!

The days are counting down and I'm getting into the nitty gritty details of race prep. As you can see from the above notes, I'm also trying to REALLY ENJOY MYSELF this week.

Next up? Making sure I have all race day nutrition elements ready to go. Given the 6-ish hours it will take me to finish, I am not leaving fuel to chance. I'll use what I've been practicing with for every long ride and long run this year.

Here's my plan:

- PB&J waffle sandwich on 2 Kashi Go-Lean waffles
- 1-2 cups of coffee with skim milk

- Rest of sandwich if not yet finished
- Water (just a bit)

- 1 Hammer Gel
- Sips of Water
- 1 Endurolyte

- Start nutrition after I get settled in. 15- 20 min.
- 24 oz. Water + 4 scoops of Sustained Energy (~420 calories), aiming to get 1/3 of bottle finished per hour
- 48 oz. Plain Water (2 tall bottles)
- 1 Endurolyte per hour, carried in a plastic container in bento box.
- Also carry in bento box: 2 Hammer Gels and 1 baggie w/ 4 scoops of Sustained Energy just in case I drop my pre-made bottle.

- Hammer Gel at start and every 40-45 minutes after w/ water. Planning to carry 4 gels in my pocket and take with water at aid stations. Not going to wear my fuel belt.
- Carry 1 packet of pre-packed endurolytes in my pocket (not in the plastic container, because the sound of them jumping around irritates the you-know-what out of me!). Take 1 each hour or at the hint of a cramp.

- Whatever I can get down. It usually takes a while for my stomach to come around. I'll start with some HEED, but I most often crave fat and sugar ....french fries, a coke, and a milkshake might actually go down first!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Taking the Long Way

Well, I never seem to do it like anybody else
Maybe someday, someday I'm gonna settle down
If you ever want to find me I can still be found
Taking the long way
Taking the long way around
Taking the long way
Taking the long way around - The Dixie Chicks

My last long training run of this season was on Friday morning. After finishing the quick 6 miles around my longtime favorite course, I took the long way home and this song was playing.

I passed Duke's East Campus, home of the loop around which I'm sure I've gone hundreds of times this year. I drove up the hill on which I hammered out several weeks worth of hill repeats during the middle of the season. I drove through downtown and past the pool with the rising sunlight just beginning to reflect against the glass. I pulled into my driveway full of gratitude - for this experience, whatever the result is on Saturday.

Thank you to my husband - for emotionally, nutritionally, and financially supporting my crazy fun habit throughout the last two years of training; for putting up with 5 a.m. alarms, the 4 hours gone on Saturdays, and a perpetually tired wife; for keeping me balanced and focused on what's really important.

Thank to my sister Rachel - for teaching me how to swim and bike; for joining me on long runs and bike rides even when she wasn't training for anything in particular; for never ceasing humor; for being there for the first 25 yards, throughout first few hundred miles, and at the finish line -- this one and the many more to come in sport and life.

Thank you to my coach and yoga teacher Sage - for cultivating my inner athlete; for believing in me when I doubted myself; for teaching me to be flexible inside and out; for helping me connect it all.

Thank you to my Mom, Dad, sister Holly, Sage Endurance and Team Stayput teammates, other family members, coworkers, friends, - for joining me on the trail, on the road and in the pool; for asking about my training and for talking with me about things other than triathlon; for cheering me on over the phone, through email, and at my races; for generously supporting Genesis Home.

Thank you Genesis Home families - for keeping me real; for giving my training a larger purpose; for all of the lessons.

It's been a long season and an even longer two years of training since we started this Tri to End Homelessness campaign in January 2007. But, it's been a journey of self-discovery for which I will forever be grateful -- and if this is what it takes to live my very best life, I'll always choose the long way.

Five more days to go...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Genesis Home Sees 89% Increase in Need for Shelter

"Everywhere I go, I hear there is an increase in the need for housing aid, especially for families." - Philip Mangano, Executive Director, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness

On Tuesday, USA Today reported that the number of homeless families seeking shelter is on the rise in cities across the country.

Sadly, that's certainly true here in Durham.

According to Genesis Home Executive Director Ryan Fehrman, year-to-date Genesis Home has provided 9,877 nights of shelter to families with children. That's an 89 % increase - up from 5,215 shelter nights provided during the same period last year.

Over the last quarter, Genesis Home served a total of 18 families in the Family Matters program and two youth clients in the Independent Living Program. Totaling 61 individuals, those families include 21 parents, 38 children, and 2 young adults. That's more than double the number of folks served during the third quarter of 2007.

Every day for the last weeks, we've ridden the stock market roller coaster, read the bad news, and felt rather helpless. But, helping our neighbors living at Genesis Home is one thing we can do right now.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fundraising PR

"Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose." - Helen Keller

As of this week, Tri to End Homelessness 2008 has officially raised more to support the homeless families living at Genesis Home that we did in 2007! To date, generous friends, family members, neighbors, blog readers, and strangers have contributed $6,341. Thank you!

Like the many racing personal records I've attained this season, this PR feels amazing. And, like I generally feel after I cross the finish line, I know that we can do more. Simply finishing my race on November 1 will be a PR for me. Simply put, I've never done it before -- but that's not stopping me from thinking bigger. Here are the three goals I have:

(1) THE GOAL - Since this will be my first attempt at the half-iron distance, I want to finish! Simply crossing that finish line will be a huge accomplishment and one that, only three years ago, I never dreamed of. I will celebrate finishing regardless of how long it takes.

(2) THE BIG TIME GOAL - On a good day with decent weather, I can finish in just over six hours. Here's how I'm thinking about it:

Swim: 0:40 (2:00/ 100m)
Bike: 3:05 (just under 18 mph)
Run: 2:05 (9:30 / mi)
Transitions/incidentals / potty breaks!: 0:15
TOTAL: 6:05

Finishing in this amount of time will NOT be easy. It will require all of my mental skills, especially on the run, especially at the end. But, I know that it is within me and I will have lived up to my potential if I finish in around this time.

(3) THE SUPER SECRET (at least until now) RADICAL TIME GOAL - Sub-6 hours. By any (legal) means possible. It will be a breakthrough day if I cross that line in 5:59:59. The stars will have aligned, the weather will be perfect, and I will have laid it all out there.

Simply raising more money to advance Genesis Home's programs is a huge accomplishment. But now, with 10 days to go, we're only $959 away from achieving the radical goal of $7,300. It's mile 10 of the run and the last 5K feels so, so long - but crossing that line will be worth it. Can we all dig a little deeper and make this race a breakthrough performance?

You can donate HERE -- and list Tri to End Homelessness in the "Payment For" section.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Feeling Nervous

"You must do the thing you think you cannot do." - Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday evening, I started to feel nervous.

Up until now, I've felt quite confidant about my physical training and my mental preparation. One never knows what race day will bring, but I've been fairly certain that I will cross that finish line. Then, Sunday evening, a friend who is also doing the race mentioned that she was "freaking out" about finishing and the weather and what clothes to wear and..and...and...

...and then MY mind started to spin and my stomach started to churn.

Monday morning, I headed to the pool for one of my last peak swims and tried to get reacquainted with the gal who knows she can do this.

Geez, girlfriend, chill. The race is still a week and a half away and you're ready. Focus on getting over this yucky cold. Enjoy your taper and breathe. You're ready. You have done the work and YOU ARE READY.

During each of my 400 repeats at race pace, I thought of my friends who, over the weekend, conquered their own nervous butterflies: Joyce ran 10 miles for first time ever; Libby rode 167 miles on a bike she'd never ridden before to raise awareness about cerebral palsy; and Sandra successfully crossed the finish line in her first triathlon as her kids and husband cheered her on.

In talking with each of them over the last few months, I've expressed zero doubt in their abilities. I've confidently extolled my you-can-do-anything mantra. And this weekend, they did.

So, I closed my eyes, thought about their accomplishments, pushed off the wall, and visualized a strong, prepared, relentless self on November 1.

Thanks for the reminder, gals.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thank You Capstrat

Capstrat, a strategic communications firm based in Raleigh, has just become the latest Tri to End Homelessness sponsor!

Having worked with this company for the last six months as part of my professional job, I can honestly say that this is a group that lives it values - one of which is giving back to and being a part of our community . Through their Boomerang Society, Capstrat annually donates more than $10,000 a year to organizations like Genesis Home, in addition to the hundreds of pro bono service hours they provide.

Thanks, Capstrat for tri-ing to end homelessness AND for being model corporate citizens!

Want to know who the most generous national corporations are? Read HERE.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Blog Action Day: Why I Care

Do more than belong: participate. Do more than care: help. Do more than believe: practice. Do more than be fair: be kind. Do more than forgive: forget. Do more than dream: work.” - William Arthur Ward

Yesterday was Blog Action Day 2008: Thousands of bloggers uniting to discuss one issue - poverty. Instead of putting up my planned post, I was home nursing what seems to be my ususal post-build cold. I tried an easy run and ended up walking home early to rest and visualize my race.

During that quiet time, I thought a lot about why I care -- about this race, about raising awareness about homelessness, about the larger issue of poverty.

What came up is that, for me, I care because it's all connected - to who I am, to the life I want to live, and to the world in which I want to live it.

My triathlon training and my passion to end poverty are linked. Both are rooted in three of the core beliefs I've written so much about over the last two years:

Nothing changes unless we do.
After running for more than 4 years - even training for 2 marathons - my times didn't change, until my training did. When I decided to change - my training system, my effort, my planning, my perspective, everything else did too.

Some say that poverty will always be with us. Unless, we - both those in power and those in poverty - change, I believe that will be true. But I also know that it doesn't have to be so. Both personal responsiblity and justice-centered systems change have a role to play. Yes, I want folks to pull themselves up by their bootstraps -- but you first have to have access to a boot.

Tiny steps, made faithfully, make a big difference.
Day to day I most often don't see the big improvement I wish I did. My training is very much 2 steps forward, 1 step back, 5 steps forward, 4 steps back, 1 giant leap forward, PLATEAU....2 steps back.....1 step forward.

But, year to year the difference is so, so clear. Reading my training journal from 2005 reminded me of that. Some things were the same: I still hate workout on Friday afternoons. My attitude has a huge affect on my workout for the day. But my confidence, my weight, my times, and the size of my goals were completely different.

I see Genesis Home's work to end homelessness in my hometown through the same lense. Some days Ryan comes home and is absolutely convinced that his work is NOT making a a difference. A child living at the shelter doesn't pass his end of grade tests, a parent gets arrested, a young adult loses her job...AGAIN.

But, then a family moves into a home of their own. A mom goes to college and a Dad opens his own business. A donor comes through with the right gift at the right time. Legislation passes to make more affordable housing available. Change happens.

It's all within us.
If I've learned anything from endurance sports, it's that everything I need, I already have. The ability is within me and I can. There is enough. I am enough.

The interval instantly becomes easier, the moment I remind myself that the air is there. The mile becomes shorter, as a soon as I remember that I've been here before and I've put in the work.

That abundance mentality is a powerful tool for ending poverty, too. Continuing to ask ourselves how much is enough helps free us from the fear-based notion that because I have to get mine, I can't help you get yours. And, knowing that the ability to make change is within us motivates to give, to volunteer, to protest, to write, to vote, to act.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Getting Specific

All my life, I always wanted to be somebody. Now I see that I should have been more specific.” - Lily Tomlin

It's been a while, I know.

The last month has been filled, completely. Lots of swimming, lots of biking, lots of running, lots of working, lots of traveling, lots of fundraising.

Not a whole lot of blogging.

But, now the last big build of the year is behind me. It included my longest swims ever (3,000 yards!), my longest bike rides to date (4 hours!!), some hilly long runs, and my first swim/bike/run 4+ hour brick of the year this past Saturday.

And now, here we are, with less than three weeks until the big day.

Between now and then, my training is all about specificity. As much as I can control it, my focus will be on race pace, conditions, and nutrition. My coach has also included several very detailed visualization exercises on the training plan.

By the time race day arrives, I will know that I have done everything possible to achieve my goals. Just thinking about crossing the finish line, after all of this, gives me goosebumps and forms a lump in my throat.

Like the Genesis Home families who near graduation from the Family Matters program, I've done the work, my plan is set, I have the tools I need, I know that it's ALL IN ME.

Three more weeks to dial-in to the - mostly mental, at this point - specifics.

I can't wait to get started.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

More Voices

Former Genesis Home Development Director and Tri to End Homelessnes supporter Shannon Moriarty is now writing about ending homelessness on's new blog. Check out her writing and feature on Genesis Home HERE.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Family Matters

"You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them." ~Desmond Tutu

After an incredibly full week at work (read: no blog posts!) last week, my husband and I headed west on Friday afternoon for the 2nd Annual Family Camping Trip! My parents and middle sister. Her husband. His parents, brother, and brother's girlfriend. My in-laws. We even had my little sister on speakerphone at several points throughout the weekend.

On Saturday I had a three and a half hour bike ride on the training schedule. But, family matters and I didn't want to leave mine for half of the day. So instead of hitting the roads around the campground and exploring new territory, I set up my trainer beside the campfire and rode.

On the trainer.

For a very long time.

....And, it was worth it. I got my training in and spent lots of quality time with folks I don't see often enough.

Family is what makes Genesis Home 's Family Matters Program so special too. Unlike many homeless shelters, Genesis Home is designed to allow families to live together --not as individuals separated by sex or age. As a family, the folks living at Genesis Home build loving habits and bonds that hopefully will get them through the tough times that will inevitably come once they leave the shelter.

Building loving habits and bonds that see us through is certainly what this annual family camping tradition does for us.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Event Report: Sage Endurance Yoga & Running Retreat

"The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” - Anna Quindlen

While I will never be perfect, last weekend pretty much was: perfect people, perfect setting, perfect opportunity to become more who I truly am.

Take 14 inspiring athletes of all levels, add the gorgeous scenery of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a tucked-away retreat center on over 65 acres, hours of trail running in a light mist, even more hours of yoga, guided meditation, intellectually stimulating book discussions, delicious food cooked by someone else, a hot tub, chocolate chip cookies every day and what do you get?

The 2008 Sage Endurance Yoga and Running Retreat.

Our carpool arrived on Friday evening just in time for an amazing salmon dinner with our fellow retreat-ers and the professional runners who live and train at ZAP Fitness.

Following dinner and introductions, Sage led us through a practice of yoga nidra to release our mind, bodies, and spirits from the fuss and muss of the day to day.

In full retreat mode, I headed to bed early and slept soundly.

The morning brought a dynamic warm-up and long, misty 1:50 run in Moses Cone Memorial Park. I continue to be amazed at how complete strangers become intimates through shared miles.

After a much needed hot shower and lunch, we regrouped for more than 3 hours of yoga practice. Hips, hamstrings, headstands - you name it, we did it. The time passed quickly and we closed with a long meditation.

Free time, dinner, and another hour of yoga - this time in the yin style - while we discussed our reading for the weekend.

Wine, hot tub, endless chat about life and training: the perfect end to a long, full day.

We slept in, met outside for a recovery run with "yoga intervals", and spent some time working on our cores before lunch and goodbyes.

A couple of days to simply focus on physical and mental training, to focus on who I am, and who I am becoming. What a treat.