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Monthly Archives: January 2011

Making the Milestone – Brenda

This is the first post in a series called “Making the Milestone”. I asked my friend Brenda if she would be my first featured coaster client and share why she chose to send me this particular bib for her set of coasters. She is truly an inspiration to me and is one of my heroes. I’m so proud of everything she’s accomplished and I hope to follow at least some of the way in her footsteps. And strokes and tire rotations.

#79. A number I will never forget.

After my daughter was born in 2008, I wanted to get into shape…not even BACK into shape because I was never really there to begin with. I knew running could change my body but I didn’t know where to start.

I found a group at my gym called “Women On the Run” and signed up for their program that was basically a Couch Potato to 5K plan for 10 weeks during the fall. In the beginning you run for one minute then walk for one minute. As you progress, you walk less and run more. The finale of course is running a 3.1 mile event without walking or stopping.

The Great Swamp Devil Run in November 2008 was that big moment for me. The tear up at the end because I thought I just ran so far without stopping kinda thing. And I did it in a respectable 33:43. Since then, I have run numerous events including a half marathon and fell in love with triathlons along the way (swim, bike & run). My current goal is to complete the IronMan 70.3 Pocono Mountains (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run) in October.

When I heard about Mile Stones through Facebook, I quickly became a fan of the page. I was the lucky winner of a drawing for a set of coasters and was asked to send in a race bib. As I flipped through my stash of numbers I realized how far I’ve come from that cold race day in 2008 and knew exactly which one to choose.

I proudly display my coasters and bought some other great Mile Stone items as gifts for family members who are entering their first event in a few weeks. As I told my future half marathoner mom, it’s never too late to have a #79 of your own.

– Brenda

Thank you Brenda and good luck to your mom!!

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Do, or do not…

If you’ve been following, you know my “thing” is mostly half-marathons. It’s a long, yet civilized distance. Geminis don’t have the best attention spans, so 13.1 scratches the itch but doesn’t rip the skin off. I’ve walked them and run-walked them. I’ve gone from taking 4 hours and 20 minutes to finish to 3 hours flat. I’ve pounded the pavement for 10 years, mostly on weekends, one foot in front of the other, getting from start to finish. You start, you finish. In between, there’s a whole thought process that takes place, but that’s for another post. One foot in front of the other, over and over and over.

Similar to most of the other crazy thoughts that enter my brain, one morning I had a new idea and went with it. A triathlon! I would do a triathlon. One, because I knew Team in Training would ensure that I was properly trained, and two, because, well, why the hell not? I don’t mind being a source of entertainment for my friends and family, and if I was successful, maybe I could inspire someone else to take the plunge. Literally.

I told four people that day and only one thought I was nuts, and it was only because I was still fund-raising for the Walt Disney World Half Marathon, and would have to fund-raise for this also. I filled in my registration forms, faxed them in and wondered how long it would take me to learn how to swim.

That’s right, I didn’t know how to swim 10 weeks ago. I could do the tread water thing for a few minutes at the hotel pool and doggy paddle across, but stroke? Hell no. Four tenths of a mile?? Hahahahaha – noway.

I was sick the entire day leading up to our first team training session. Like sick, couldn’t eat breakfast or lunch sick. I envisioned the rest of the team swimming laps and me at the shallow end of the pool blowing bubbles out of my nose with the 5 year-olds. Where do you go, what do you do, will I bring everything I need, are the showers stalls, or wide open like in the movies, what if I don’t know what to do, all these thoughts making. me. sick.

I went and thankfully, didn’t throw up. I also didn’t make a fool out of myself, although I couldn’t make it to the end of the pool without inhaling water up my nose and down my throat, and stopping to put my feet down once I could touch the bottom. I got to the end of the pool, (25 yards) and my breathing sounded as though I had just outrun a train. I learned that I needed to get earplugs and that if I ate before swim training, the food would feel like it was stuck high in my throat.

I’m proud to say that about 10 weeks later, I can swim! My arms go into the water a little too flat, apparently, but I can swim! I got the “roll” down, great body position, I can breathe out of my nose under water, and I actually have a rhythm. If a little wave hits me from the other lane and I inhale water, I recover without stopping. I can get about two lengths, or 50 yards without stopping for a breather on the wall, and it’s only for a few seconds. I have 3 more months to get better at swimming four tenths of a mile. I’m not so worried about the 20 mile bike or the 4 mile run (or walk). I just NEED to get through the swim.

A few months ago I was looking for a motivational quote above the windows in my little home gym and my trainer recommended this:

It is the most perfect quote ever, not just because it fit in the space perfectly, but because the husband is a Star Wars fan so he agreed to let me put it up.

“Do or do not, there is no try.” Well there’s a tri, but no “try.”

As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized I really only have two acceptable choices. I can do, or I can do not. If you set your sights on just trying, you have an out. You go into something having already set up your out. If you say you’ll try to eat better but you end up stuffing yourself with brownies, it’s easy to say, “Oh, but I did try.” Pointless. If you know me, you know that I say to most things, “either do it or don’t.” Black or white, yes or no. Do a triathlon, or don’t. I’m doing it.

I’m not trying, I’m tri-ing. If you’ve been thinking about it, just do it. Tri it.

Heroes

On Saturday, January 8, my husband and I completed the Walt Disney World Half Marathon in Orlando, FL. It truly was a magical experience at the most magical place on earth.

While walking through the parks throughout the weekend, I saw children everywhere lined up to take pictures with characters. Tarzan, Woody, Snow White, Peter Pan. They stared with their little eyes wide with wonder and amazement at the fact that they were close enough to touch these characters they idolized. My childhood was filled with heroes who could fly, scale buildings, become invisible and always get the Prince. Untouchable, celebrity-like, larger than life. I was quite certain that I would never in a million years meet Wonder Woman. I couldn’t be more wrong.

Over the years, I’ve had the honor of meeting so many heroic individuals. Cancer survivors, teachers, police officers, military personnel, family members, anyone who’s ever taken a chance and made a difference in someone else’s life.

My real-life heroes are confident. They’re unwaveringly loyal and are the rocks I trust leaning on. Anytime. Without even being aware, they inspire me to be a better person. They risk following their hearts when their brains seem the more logical and safer choice. They combine their talents and strengths to do something positive, in a world full of rejection and negativity. They selflessly dedicate their lives to things bigger than themselves.

True heroism is made up of real-life super-powers. It’s what made a little girl with blood cancer, on her tricycle, lead a group of Team in Training cyclists on a training ride that began at her house. It’s how a friend knows exactly what situations call for sitting in silence rather than sitting talking. It’s what makes someone open their families and homes to children who have neither. My world is full of heroes. Everyday, ordinary heroes.

Risk vs. Payoff

I love to gamble. Super Bowl pools, scratch-off lottery tickets, craps, 3 card poker and even an occasional stop at a slot machine. For me, it’s all about the excitement of the bells, the triple-checking of the half-time score, a roll of ten “the hard way” right after I pressed it another ten dollars. When you succeed, those gambles are addicting.

“Risk – the hazard or chance of loss.”

For me, risk is about playing with what you’re willing to lose. At the casino, and in life and love. To me, it’s not about being reckless with no regard to consequences. If I walk away with more than I showed up with, fantastic. I only play with what I’m willing to lose in the first place, so if it goes, so be it. For me, the hardest part is establishing and sticking to your limit.

I’m a risk-taker. I enjoy the uneasiness of putting my raw self out there. A few months before I met my husband I almost picked up and moved clear across the country to the opposite coast just to be uncomfortable and do something crazy. My limit, however, didn’t consist of not having a job before I got there, so when I didn’t receive any job offers, I didn’t end up leaving NJ.

I got “the card” in the mail about Team in Training and assumed it was a scam. Train for a marathon, raise money and travel free for a weekend? No way. Well I took a chance and signed up to walk a half marathon (13.1 miles) in New Orleans. Still involved 10 years later, I’ve made life-long friends, physical achievements and have been inspired by more people than I can count. The risk, minimal. The payoff, priceless and truly life-changing.

I asked for a promotion once, and risked looking like an over-confident 20-something year old. I got the promotion. I’ve asked people for money risking hearing “No” over and over throughout the years. I’ve raised tens of thousands of dollars to cure blood cancers. I recently registered for a triathlon without knowing how to swim, risking the embarrassment of having to man-up if I wussed out.  I’m positive I’m not going to be the last one across the finish line, and there is no way I’m wussing out. The satisfaction once completed is unimaginable to me today.

Do the risks I take always end with a happy ending? Not a chance. I once left a job for another, (open and honestly) decided it wasn’t for me, went back to job #1 and was promptly laid off. I’ve driven in snow and had accidents. I’ve chosen to focus on the “wrong” priorities and let the “right” ones suffer.

But here’s the secret I’ve learned. If the risk you take results in loss within your “limit”, you still have the opportunity to gain even more in the long run by the lesson learned. I needed to take that job because it taught me that the grass isn’t always greener. I needed to have that fender bender and the crap scared out of me so that I know when it’s too dangerous to drive. I may never learn to prioritize because there are just too many and that’s ok. Because I expect to learn until the day I die, and the people who surround me get that.

Our limits differ from person to person and that’s ok.

You know those people. Heck, you might even be one. The ones who do the same things day in, day out. I was one. Same schedule, same meals, same activities, same old, same old, same old. ZZzzzzzz… The investment is always the same. If something great happens to them, it’s usually just because… it happened. Now if they shook things up a bit and succeeded at something they’ve always been too afraid to try, could you imagine the resulting enthusiasm?

So when was the last time you put yourself out there? Really said what was on your mind because you felt it was right, or did something crazy with the confidence that the outcome would be a positive one? When was the last time you took a chance and honestly risked something important because you were confident you knew what you were doing?

Tell her how you feel. Speak up in your next staff-meeting. Ride that roller-coaster you think might give you a panic attack. Take more chances and experience the addiction and elation that comes from winning after putting something valuable on the line. I’m not talking about dropping your life savings on black the next time you walk past a roulette table. But if you have an extra chip or two, why not bet a little more?

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