Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Journey

I recently posted a picture on facebook and twitter of me in 07 and me now. I often forget where I came from to get me to where I am today. I figured I would write my story down for others to see. I realize I don't think I have ever really sat down to explain it all.

When I was a kid I started competitively swimming at age 6. I loved to swim. I was an active kid. I danced right through middle school too and was pretty good. When I was in middle school swimming and dancing were my thing until my dance teacher informed me I would need to decide between dancing and swimming since swimming was giving me a different body type than I needed for dancing. Well even at that age I had enough sense to realize I was a better swimmer so I joined a USA swim team and swimming became my life.

I went to a private high school where if you weren't on a sports team you weren't in the in crowd. I did some cheerleading and a season of cross country but I really loved swimming so that was my focus. I had a great coach on my USA team. He really motivated me. I would get up go to morning practice then drive to school come home do homework and go to afternoon practice. All along no one in my school had any idea so I was just the smart kid at school who didn't really hang out with anyone there because I was so busy swimming. I had friends on the team and I spent every weekend at meets and most of my free time was spent at practice. I missed nationals in the 50 free by .04 seconds my senior year. But this didn't ruin swimming for me.

Mind you with all this swimming I could pretty much eat WHATEVER I wanted. I was in practice for an hour or 2 in the morning then after school would have an hour of dry land and followed by 2 hours in the pool at night. When you are working out that much and you are a teenager you eat whatever you can!

In my senior year I decided I wanted to be a Chemical Engineer and I needed to go somewhere with a swim team. I knew I would be a bottom of the barrel Division 1 swimmer or a top Division 3 swimmer. I decided to do Division 3 also knowing I wanted to do engineering and Division 1 swimming wouldn't leave time for that. I decided to go to WPI. The WPI team turned out to be so much easier than my USA swimming years. We swam for 2 hours a day. There was no dry land practice. I kept eating whatever I wanted and not having the same work out routine meant I wasn't keeping the weight off.

I also found in college I liked to go out and drink with my friends, which lead to late night Chinese food and pizza. I kept eating like I was swimming all the time but I wasn't. My sophomore year we had a new coach come in. And my sophomore year was the hardest year of my Chemical Engineering classes. Swim season span 2 terms and the first term I failed a couple classes. I went to my coach and told her I would need time to study. She didn't understand why I couldn't figure out how to swim and pass my classes but reluctantly let me miss practices to get studying done. Well that lasted a week or 2 and when the season was over I had 3 classes I needed to make up. I went to the coach and told her I couldn't swim and fail classes. I had to quit. I knew I wasn't going to the Olympics and it was time to focus on school. School that would ultimately lead to a career.

Well with even more time I spent more time with my friends and went to parties since I didn't have any season commitment for swimming. By the time I graduated I was so out of shape! After college I spent most of my time with friends and going out and having a great time. I started dating a longtime friend and he moved in. After a year or so, while I was at work one day, he packed up everything of his, including the mattress from my condo and moved out. I never heard from him again. I was devastated.

In my horrible state I remember my father had a couple suggestions for what to do with myself. 1- go get an awesome new car 2- get yourself a personal trainer. Well I decided to get myself a personal trainer. Being 3 years removed from college I had put on plenty of weight and felt horrible about myself. I started to hit the gym for a couple weeks then got myself a trainer. I think at this point in 2008 I was 230 lbs.

My first session with my trainer kicked my ass. I actually spent the later part of it huddled over a trash can trying not to puke. For a year I worked out with my trainer and tracked my calories. I got down to 170lbs, counting calories, weight lifting, running and swimming again. In April 2009, I convinced my parents, both of whom jog, and my then best friend D to run a 5k with me. It turned out to be a horrifically hot day but I ran the whole thing. I think I was hooked. I started to look into triathlons. I knew how to swim, and I could run a 5k. How hard could it be to learn to ride a bike again.I signed up for an off road triathlon in Sept. I used the triathlete bible and started coming up with a training plan.  D helped me out with cycling skills and even lent me a mountain bike for the training and race. I finished my first triathlon and came in 2nd in my division. I think the ribbon I got cemented me in triathlon. Following the race I signed up to run my first half marathon in Atlanta in November. I flew down and ran with some friends.

Somewhere in the middle of training for my half marathon I ended up with some severe hip pain. After I finished I finally got an MRI and found I had torn my labrum and needed to have surgery. In April 2010 I had my labrum tendon repaired and my femoral head shaved. I spent months recovering and whining to D that I would never walk again never mind train. I thought it would end up like "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" and I'd have to be cut out of my condo. Obviously that didn't happen and at the end of the 2010 triathlon season I did a couple aquabikes, swim then bike.

With some apprehension, in the 2011 season I took on what I would say is the biggest challenge yet a half ironman. The whole season of racing and training was focused on the goal of August 18 2011 swimming 1.2mi, biking 56mi, and running a half marathon at Timberman 70.3. I finished just before they shut down the course due to weather. The flood of emotion of excitement, pride, and genuine shock when I crossed the finish line was amazing. When I hugged D it all came out in tears and "I DID IT! I DID IT!"

All through the training I wasn't too conscious of all my food choices and I put back on some of the initial weight I had lost. D warned me that crossing the finish line of a half ironman wasn't going to take away the weight loss demons. He was right. In 2012 I trained for and completed 2 half iron races including a second trip to Timberman where I took 30+minutes off my time. But I was still not happy with my weight. A friend offered for me to join her biggest loser competition in Jan 2013 and I have dropped another 10 lbs. I am not 100% happy with my weight but I am getting there. I don't have a specific weight number in mind but I just want my belly to go away!

This season I will be doing the same 2 half iron distances just 10lb lighter! My coach keeps telling me that I will see the difference. I hope she is right. I plan to keep up on the tracking my calories and be better about my weight management this season. I think this will lead to being a better place mentally and hey maybe it will shave some more time off to get me to that 6 hour half ironman!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Competitive Swimming Again

At states a week ago some of the other coaches asked me to be on a relay with them at a Master's Swim Meet. Sounded like fun but I wasn't sure how it would all pan out. Mid week I got the info and the time worked with my computrainer class so I was in. For 30 bucks you register swim as many events as you want. Okay I'm game! It has been a long time since I have done a meet. Well probably since my last one my Sophomore year of college! Wow that was a long time ago.

I decided to enter myself in the Medley Relay with my other coaches, 200 free because I hate it, 100 back, 50 free and 100 free since they used to be my events and we added the free relay for fun. I went to my computrainer class in the morning, which I had missed 3 weeks thanks to swim meets and the snow, to have a 2 hour ride of hills. OH NO this isn't good. Made sure to eat and rest up for swimming later.

Got to the meet warm ups were the usual craziness. Too many people in the 6 lanes but that's the life. The 200 Relay went well we came in 2nd. Then the 200 free was the next event. I climbed up on the block and my legs started shaking. I think part of it was nerves swimming a race all by myself again. And the other part was my legs were TOAST and standing on that slanted tall block was not helping! I managed to do pretty well with the screaming of my other coaches on the side of the pool deck. I won my age group. The 100 back was next and I was starting to get pretty tired from the back to back races. But managed to pull out a 2nd in my age group.

I got a nice break until my 50 free. 50 free used to be my specialty. But at this meet I was quickly realizing that I don't do short distance speed work anymore. I am focused on longer distance swimming now. My 50 free wasn't bad. I even manged to keep myself to only 4 breaths for the whole 50 even after everything else that day I was okay with it. I pulled out 1st in my age group.

The 100 free was the demise of my legs.  I stood around and talked with other swimmers. It was great to be in that environment again. I dove in on the 100 stayed right with everyone to the 50 then hit the wall to turn and my legs just seized right up. Gave me that uh no we are done. we gave you enough. Even so I pulled out a 1st place. The free relay was a nice little icing on the cake. And we even took 1st.

It was really fun to be around a meet again. I forgot the excitement of the short races. I'd love to do another. Maybe next time I can get D out of the bleachers and into the races! He has started calling me Mark Spitz thanks to my 6 medals hahaaha

Friday, February 22, 2013

Mission Slimpossible- GOAL achieved!

As you may remember I joined a group of friends to lose weight via a biggest loser competition on facebook. I thought it might be what would get me off my damn plateau that I have seemed to be stuck on for what seems like FOREVER! I started using myfitnesspal and tracking my calories again. This time being better about staying close to the needed calories for everyday and training. In the past when I have tracked calories I have tried to have a low number but D has really helped me make sure I am not falling into that trap again.

For a couple weeks the scale stalled at 166. My goal weight when I entered the Mission Slimpossible was 165. Oh man come on one more stinking LB! D had noticed I was doing my old tricks of cutting too many calories. I spent another week focusing on making sure I came close to my calorie counts for the day. Obviously I kept up the workouts, tri season is coming... eventually! And I am trying really hard to make sure those calories are good calories. I got on the scale this week and the hard work paid off.... it read 165! YAY!

I am hoping to keep this going. I am not sure how much more I want to lose... just want my little belly I have left to go away! So for now I will keep tracking my calories and keep up with the workouts. Hopefully the snow will melt soon tho we have had some pretty days that you can get out and actually run in short sleeves!

Since starting the Mission Slimpossible with my friends I lost 11lb. I really think this will help this coming tri season. Can't hurt right? If I keep going I won't be eligible for Athena anymore.... which may not be a bad thing!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Help me out with Goals for 2013- 3-0?!

I have been mulling over some goals for 2013. I am not a huge fan of resolutions- goals work better for me. This year is big for me.... I am going to be turning 30! YIKES! I really want to work on some things over the next year. Over the last couple month's I have been working on building my goals list for this year. It still needs a bit more beefing up- I could use some help and suggestions so please comment. What were some of the things you wanted to achieve before a big birthday?

 This is what I have so far....

1.       Eat Clean (mostly)

2.       Continue Workout Routine and Racing

3.       Figure out this weight management issue- Goal weight 165

4.       Continue Acupuncture

5.       Work to Achieving Personal Happiness

6.       Work on Self confidence

7.       Work on my relationships-i.e. w my parents,  with my brother. Spend more time with them.

8.       Try 1 thing new each month

9.       Over 2000 miles

10.   Goal 5k- 25 something

11.   Goal 10k- 56 something

12.   Goal Half Marathon- 2-2:15

13.   Goal  Half Iron- 6 hours

14.   Do 1day/week during season of yoga

15.   Do 1 day/week during season of strength

16.   Run a marathon

17.   Do Timberman and Quassy

18.   Travel somewhere warm

19.   Travel somewhere new- i.e. Lake Placid

20.   Visit Tara and  work on spending more time video chatting with her

21.   Cut Expenses and Save Money

22.   Pay down debt or pay off if possible

23.   Spend time with friends

24.   Have A Spa Day

25.   Organize bills and documents

26.   Get spare room under control

27.   Figure out finishing my Master’s

28.   New Car

29.   Condo

Monday, February 11, 2013

MIAA is ruining Swimming!

I started swimming at 6 competitively including a HS career in USA swimming and swimming in college. Now, I am a HS swim coach and with the coming blizzard last weekend the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) decided to cancel the Sectionals swim meet. After working all season I had to look swimmers in the face and tell them- sorry since you didn't make states and only made sectionals you are done. This is what we received from the MIAA:

Due to the impending snowstorm, all Boys’ and Girls’ Sectional
Swimming  and Diving Championships, scheduled for this weekend, have
been CANCELLED.   We regret that facility and time constraints
prohibit the re-scheduling of these events.

All State qualifiers will move forward to the State Championships on
the weekend of February 16 & 17.  Best of luck to all.

As coaches on Thursday afternoon, we sat around thinking of a million possible solutions. Some of the coaches even called the MIAA. Then word quickly spread that the West was going to host their own "unsanctioned" by the MIAA Sectionals. Since the MIAA told them they wouldn't support it, meaning any times that made the state cut would not count. MIAA offered a bit further explanation on their decision making process: 

Dear Select School Leaders,

The need, perhaps unprecedented, to cancel the MIAA Sectional Swim Tournaments deserves explanation. Consideration was given to many elements before such a difficult decision was made.

The bottom line to this decision is the safety of students, and there is no way we could ensure their safety on Thursday when this decision had to be made.  We are mindful that power outages could make it impossible to communicate with you this weekend if we needed to do so.  There still is (on Friday morning) no assurance that any event could be safely conducted this weekend, given the enormity of the storm predictions. 

While considering this challenge, the option of postponing the Sectional and State Meets by a week was explored. Problems presented as that avenue was pursued, included the unavailability of sites for the second weekend, and the recognition that high school teams without school pools would be at a disadvantage during that extended week because their contracted pool time would have ended, and they would not have access to practice.

Consideration was given to inviting all Sectional qualifiers to participate in the State Championships. As that option was considered, it was clear that the logistics presented could not be overcome.  During this winter season, more than 1,000 students already have achieved their State qualifying standard and will participate next weekend, making the addition of 100s of students impractical.

Thought was given to inviting seniors who only had qualified for the Regionals, but not the State Championships. Because qualifying times in the West and East are markedly different, this was not a fair option.

Consideration for allowing some state qualifying competition to occur at a school level, or other local activity was seen to be unfair to those student athletes who would not have such an additional opportunity.  On the other hand, the Association encourages such local competitions for students who did not have the opportunity to participate in the MIAA regional tournaments this weekend (with the above understanding that  these activities are not state championship qualifying events)

With regard to Springfield College and a possible Sunday event, there was no assurance that the lack of parking could be overcome, with the shuttle bus company reporting that they may not be allowed on the road Sunday, given the potential seriousness of the storm. We also are aware that some school districts have cancelled all activities through Sunday, making Sunday participation not an option for those students.

We of course regret that we could not provide your students additional competition through our planned regional events.  I do hope the above provides some understanding of the decisions that were made in the interest of student safety, equity, and the integrity of the sport.

Monday at 4pm State entries were due to the MIAA.  I made sure my entries were in with plenty of time. Then we receive this message: 

The concerns forwarded by some of our school leaders in response to the  cancellation of Sectional Swim Tournaments have caused further consideration of the conclusions of last Thursday and Friday. With the support of our Swim Committee/Tournament leadership, we will be entering all of your individual swimmers as they were listed on the psych sheets for this past weekend’s Sectional Tournaments. WMass divers have already qualified during the MIAA tournament last Thursday. North and Central-South divers who have achieved one (versus two) state qualifying scores (boys 190; girls 177) will also be entered into the State Tournament.

There will be some questions or concerns related to this decision, but we believe that it is the best manner of providing tournament access to the maximum number of students possible. During the week, we will need your cooperation in some areas;  e.g. we will need to limit attendance at the Springfield College site.
Additional information will be forwarded this week as it is developed by our swim leadership.

Immediately I notified my sectionals swimmers they would be swimming- but only those who qualified in individual events. The team in our pool that has a relay that qualified, that hasn't practiced for 5 days is still out as far as they know. The MIAA has made a mess of the swim tournaments- something that is supposed to be the highest competition for these HS swimmers. I am awaiting what the next step will be in this process. Not only do we not know what events our swimmers are swimming that qualified in multiple events but now we are told to limit the attendance to States?!  I am glad the kids get a chance to swim but come on MIAA?!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Race Plans for 2013

So my race plans so far I have posted on the Race Plans/Results tab of my blog. This is how its shaping up so far:
1 Jan- 1st Run 10k- Lowell, MA- 1:02:11
10 March- Celtic 5k- Worcester, MA-
7 April- Cherry Blossom 10 Miler- DC
28 April- Wallis Sands Half- Rye, NH
12 May- Season Opener Triathlon Sprint- MA
2 June- Half Rev Quassy
20 July- Nubble Light Challenge 2.4mi Swim- ME
21 July- Mill City Tri- Lowell, MA
28 July- Wild Cat- Lowell, MA
18 August- Timberman 70.3- NH
22 September- Buzzards Bay Sprint- MA
20 October- Army Ten Miler- DC
28 October- Marine Corps Marathon-DC
Still some room to add swimming races! I want a lot more this year! Also you may notice 2 70.3s again and yes I am going to attempt my first MARATHON! I have a big birthday coming in July and this is something I think I want to attempt in this birthday year! Speaking of... Next post will be my 2013 Goals. Goals for the year of this big birthday kinda like resolutions on steroids!