Sunday, August 26, 2012

I want it NOW

My better half, Matty, decided to guest blog for me! He has such an AMAZING heart for God and is constantly looking for ways to encourage me daily, so here is a little bit about what's been on his heart.......

 In our instant gratification and self-entitlement culture, it is easy to get caught up with wanting things “now”.  More pay, better job, nicer car, faster race times, you name it.  We see that other people have it, so we think we also deserve it.  What is easy to overlook is that “they” didn’t start where they are now, and they probably put in a lot of hard work and made many sacrifices to get where they are. 
 The important thing to remember is that it is never too late to start, “now”, putting in the effort to get to where you want to be.  I’m fortunate to be a Director in Marketing at a Fortune 500 company, and while I haven’t really accomplished a whole lot yet in the big scheme of things, and certainly have made plenty of mistakes along the way, there are a number of specific things that helped me get “here” as I reflect back a few years in my professional progression.
 Faithfulness – You can’t let any job or task be “beneath you”.  Spend your energy on doing the job in front of you to the best of your ability, no matter how insignificant it might seem.  If you don’t do that well, how will someone trust you with greater responsibility?  But once you are proven to be reliable where you are, you can be confident in going after more.  (Luke 16:10)
Patience – It is almost a guarantee that progress won’t happen overnight.  For endurance athletes, the necessary physiological changes to get better occur over many years.  In the corporate setting, it can take years to get that promotion you thought you earned 2 performance reviews ago.  I’ve been guilty of being impatient on both fronts.  What has helped me is to set my mind on a goal and going after it hard, but not be fixated on reaching it in a certain timetable.  You only qualify for the prize if you persevere until the end!  (Hebrews 10:32-36, 12:1)
Attitude – A great quote from Chuck Swindoll: “life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it”.  Face it, we all have good and bad circumstances, but our character is shaped by how we come through the circumstances.  You are going to find many more “allies” to help you through if you approach life with an upbeat, overcoming attitude.  It is just important to seek to help out others to lift them as well!  (Philippians 2:3-5)
Learn – If you aren’t honing your skills you are probably falling behind.  A big part of this is continual development, whatever form that takes for you.  This has got to be deliberate and usually self-directed.  I ask God almost daily for wisdom, to help me figure out what I need to learn, and how to apply it to my every day circumstances.  Over time this has worked wonders for me!  You should try it!  (James 1:5-6)
Hard Work – Last but not least, success takes hard work.  Long hours.  Sacrifices.  Discipline.  It isn’t always fun in the moment.  The faster or higher you want to progress, the harder you will have to work.  Go the “extra mile” to make your work stand out…it will be noticed and will give you confidence to push towards your goals.  Repeat.  (Proverbs 14:23)

 It is hopefully evident that my success is borne out of God’s gifts, grace, and direction in my life.  I wouldn’t have achieved anything without God’s help – putting me in favorable situations, giving me opportunities, helping me through struggles, and directing my steps.  God’s word applies to every day situations and with it we can be victorious in life!
 Even as I read through these words before they are posted, I am resolving to make this coming week, and hopefully each after it, an example of these principles at work.  Today is a great day to change perspective and commit to putting in the time and effort to reach your goals!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A first for everything!

This past week I was looking forward to my long Saturday bike ride with my hubby! It’s not often that we ride together being that he is a bit faster on the bike, so when he asked me to come along with him I was super pumped! He typically shows me new routes and he pushes me to go at a faster speed as well.
Usually the night before a long ride, I always get everything ready to go: bottles of nutrition made, clothes laid out, etc. that way I don’t have to fuss with the “prep” work and can focus on getting out of bed and getting my bike ready to ride.

Saturday my alarm went off at 6:15am, planned on starting around 7am from our house. Matt was going to show me a new route, heading to Ohio and back. Looking to get in between 70-80 miles, I was ready to roll! I like starting early for a few reasons: so I can still have the rest of the day to get stuff done, relax, etc.; there is less traffic out on the roads when you start early in the a.m., and it’s a heck of a lot cooler!

We headed out onto route 910 and then cut over to 65 and followed that for a while. We eventually had to make a turn and cross through a small town heading towards Rochester. We were about 20 miles into our ride, entered a round-a-bout and then all the sudden a construction zone appeared out of nowhere. Now Matt is good with hand signaling about road conditions, traffic signs, etc. He is very safe out on the roads and I must say he takes good care of me when we ride together.  Well, all of the sudden I dropped a level on the road and found that I was on an uneven, unpaved, stripped section. Matt was trying to signal for me to get up and out of that “area” and onto the paved road, but I failed to see him signal and when I tried to get out, apparently there was a 3-4 inch difference in the roads and I didn’t see this (so obviously I didn’t get my front tire up and over this) and I hit and went flying off my bike. Ouch! It all happened so fast. All I know was my bike was on top of me and I went down hard and fell directly on my entire left side of my body. I laid there for a few seconds, which seemed like minutes. I couldn’t get myself up and Matt came running over to get me. I was most definitely in pain and tried so hard to pull myself together and fight the tears. My garmin watch was in pieces and the screen smashed (good thing I don’t wear my wedding rings!) and poor “feltsie” had a nice little chunk taken out of the left handle bar. I was sad (and it takes a lot for me to be down). 

Next thing I knew, Matt’s parents arrived and drove me to the ER to get checked out.  All I have to say is: it pays to pray every time I head out on my bike.  Even if I’m going out for one hour or 6 hours, I always ask God to place a hedge of protection around me and my bike.  IF there would have been a car directly behind me I would have been hit instantly.   Fortunately after a nice trip to the ER, no broken bones, just some nice gashes in my left arm and leg, lots of road rash and a bruised shoulder and wrist.  Lesson learned, I must pay attention to all my surroundings at all times and maybe slow down a bit when heading into a construction zone.  My first real crash done and out of the way! Luckily, no races this month, BUT it is my sister’s wedding in Bar Harbor, Maine this weekend. I pray I don’t look too “beat” up in my dress! Oh well it gives some character, right?
Here’s to many more days spent in the saddle, still determined to make it the strongest of the three disciplines AND for not letting this little set-back bring me down!

In other news, Matt and I leave for Bar Harbor Maine on Friday for a week! My little sister Laura (last one in the fam to get hitched) is FINALLY getting married to her first love of 10 years!!  Doug, aka Bubba, who’s my second little brother, is such an awesome guy! I am super pumped that he will officially be a part of our family.  If you have never been to Bar Harbor, ME you should put this on your bucket list! My family has been vacationing up there for years now. We rent a nice big cottage and typically stay for two weeks. There is A LOT to do (esp in Acadia National Park), hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming, fishing, whale watching, star gazing on top of Cadillac Mountain, not to mention lots of feasting on lobster, seafood, tea and popovers, blueberry pancakes, and the best ice cream in the world! It’s phenomenal!! AND I am super duper pumped that Matt and I are bringing our bikes! Already packed and shipped! Looking forward to lots of good mountain climbing!
Here are a few pics of my sis and Bar Harbor

Stay tuned for lots of pics!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Pgh Tri race report!

Sunday July 29th, Pgh triathlon race! I enjoy this race because a. its right in our backyard, b. this was my very first Olympic distance last year!  I was itching to race again, being that my last race in Muncie, IN turned into a shortened distance due to the heat.  Unfortunately, the weather was crappy this weekend. Rain, rain and more rain! Boooo! Matt was signed up to race the sprint distance on Saturday but opted out due to excessive raw sewage in the water from all the rain, I don’t blame him! Sunday wasn’t so bad and I decided to take the plunge into the good ol river water. I didn’t carry any nerves going into this race! My strategy was to race hard; in fact, for the first time, I didn’t bother keeping track of my heart rate.
Sunday we arrived to transition area, picked up timing chip, set up bike/gear and was ready to roll. No rain in the forecast, in fact the sun was coming up! Yipeee!! It was a strange feeling though having Matty watch me race for the first time. Either we are both racing together or it’s me watching him, but never this way around. AND I was excited that my dad, sister and fiancĂ© also came out to support me! They hardly make any races, mostly because of them being so far away and would need to take off work, soooooooo this was such a treat! I was heading to get in line for the bathroom, when suddenly they announced that apparently the water temp was 78 degrees!!!!! It had cooled off from the rain sooooo it was wetsuit legal!! CRAZY! If this was any other race, I would have brought it, but I thought nahh, it will be in the low 80’s. Lesson learned, bring your wetsuit to EVERY race regardless of whether or not you think it’s needed. Matt even volunteered to run back to the house to grab it, but I didn’t think he would have had enough time. So I just stuck with wearing my speedsuit instead.  Darn it! It would have saved me an extra 2-3 mins easily, especially since I am not a strong swimmer.

Swim: I prayed against any bacteria, infections, diseases before I entered that water, LOL! It was so gross. All the females started at once so it seemed crowded to me. I was stuck right smack dab in the middle too, so I ended up getting slapped, kicked, and punched, more than any race so far starting out. My goal was to try and get out of that mess asap! I swam so hard and eventually got away and was able to get in a rhythm. I hit lots of debris and tried so hard not to take in any water, but failed. There was a nice current on the last half of the swim in which I took advantage of. I was so happy to have exited that water! My time was 25:56 with a 6 min improvement from LY’s swim.

T1: Transition was a muddy mess and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to clip my shoes into my pedals from all the mud. It felt like a slow transition, 1:42 mins.  I still need to work on this! It’s basically FREE TIME!!! Next goal is to try and get under 1:15 min. I can do it!!
Bike: It was sooo sooo nice not having the mix of both the sprint and int’l distances together. There was so much more room to bike and I didn’t feel so overly crowded.  I recommend doing this again next year!  The course takes you through the HOV lane right in Pgh, it was a double loop so we had to climb the hill twice, but it’s always nice flying on the way back down.  Not much to report here; finished the bike in 1:11:26, another 7 min improvement from LY’s bike!

T2: I managed to make it out of transition in 1:26. I still think I can be faster!! Again, more practice=free time! Poor “Feltsie” was a muddy mess!! Oh well! Onto the run!!
Run: I could hear my family cheering sooo loudly! It was awesome! Matty was taking so many pics and it was so much fun to have them there to support me! I took off and immediately felt my legs. My first mile clocked in at 7:10, and felt effortless. I picked up a few seconds with mile 2 at 6:57, and then 7:03, 7:05, 7:08 and finally 7:06! I felt great and was pretty sure I could have pushed it even more on the run. I’m finding that with becoming a better cyclist has helped improve my running BIG time! I managed to finish the run with a time of 44:07, 7:05 avg pace. I improved my run time by 2 mins and 30 seconds! I was happy tri-athlete!!  Final time was 2:24:39, good for 2nd in AG and 9th female OA. I was excited to have improved in all 3 events AND my family was there to experience it with me. 

It’s such a great feeling to keep improving at each race! My confidence from LY has grown leaps and bounds and I truly never thought I would enjoy racing this sport as much as I do now. I have ALWAYS loved running for years and never thought I would get into the “triathlon” world until I met my husband. He turned my world upside down when he introduced this new “sport” to me last year.  He believed that with practice, time and patience, I could get good at this sport. He purchased two bikes for me, all of my gear, a coach, taught me how everything he knew about the sport and encouraged me to go and race my heart out. My 3rd triathlon race EVER was a full Ironman, IMFlorida. My very 1st tri race was the Edinboro sprint LY, and 2nd was Eagleman. If you would have asked me a year and a half ago if I would be racing this kind of distance, I would have laughed. I truly believe that you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to!  All it takes is willingness to step out, time, patience, dedication, practice and confidence to go after whatever you want to do in life! I also believe that it’s even easier with God at the center of it all! HE gives us the desires of our hearts and we can do ALL things, when we give HIM all the glory!