I’m Scared. But, Not Afraid.

June 17, 2010

It feels like just a blink-of-an-eye ago I started the 100 day countdown to Lubbock. Yeah, well, that was a solid three months ago and as I type we’re 10 days away. Yup, 10 days. Feels impossible, but it’s true.

At this point – I feel as ready as I’m going to be. The swim brace has been a major adjustment and I’ll fully admit I’m not feeling as confident about my swim as I’d like. I know I’m going to be okay, but I’ll feel better if I have a chance to swim in the lake a bit before race day. Otherwise, confidence levels are good and I’m at the point where I’m just ready to race. I can’t prepare any more than I already have, so let’s do this!

(Side note – I know I tell you all the time that I have the best, most amazing friends in the world (duh, cause I do) and once things with Kona are finalized they’ve come up with a plan to support me that is so incredibly f’ing cool I can’t wait to tell you about it. But, no deets until after next Sunday. Just trust me – most amazing people ever!)

Anyway…I’m actually in Miami for a few days, working our track & field national championships. It’s hot as balls, but going to be a great event. There’s going to be some super rad competition and I get to see lots of good friends. I’ve started my taper, so not overly freaked about not getting time on the bike or in the chair this week and I found a 24 Hour Fitness nearby so I’m able to get in some light UBE and swim workouts over the next few days. Most importantly, I have to keep my nutrition in check and make sure I’m getting enough sleep.

I know I’m a super overthinker, but coming up on Buffalo Springs has me thinking about everything that’s happened since last year’s race – where I was then, where I thought I’d be in a year and the reality of where I am now. Not surprisingly, my crystal ball worked as well as one you’d find in a Cracker Jack box.

No need to rehash, y’all have mostly lived through it all already here on the blog – or, god bless those of you who helped me survive it in real life – but what I realized a couple of days ago is that I haven’t done a very good job of really learning from past experiences/mistakes/successes and using what I *should* have learned as I move on to bigger and better things in life. So, one of my new goals is to work harder on the “learn” part of “live and learn.”

No chance I’m going to make these changes overnight, but I made some small progress this week. I found myself in a situation where I was once again making excuses for someone who was lying to me and treating me badly, condoning the bad behavior by doing nothing about it and all-around not really feeling like I deserved much better.

Quite frankly, it scared the shit out of me to realize that I hadn’t learned from my previous situation. I saw myself instantly diving back into behavior I swore I’d never do again. I was glad that I was recognizing these things early on, but the truth of the matter was that I had to grow a set and finally stand up for myself (metaphorically speaking, of course; no actual standing occurred).

Bottom line – I learned. It’s hard and it’s scary. But, I refuse to be afraid.

Peace out.


Summer, Summer, Summertime

June 8, 2010

Oh, blogosphere – how I’ve missed you!  Yes, it’s very much my own fault, but you know…yeah, I don’t even have a good excuse beyond the fact that I’m lazy!

It’s been an incredibly busy couple of months, actually.  Upon returning from the Games in Vancouver, we dove right into preparation for our big annual conference and followed that right up (one week later!) with the inaugural Warrior Games.  Both were big, fun, successful events and though I was a bit unsure of how things would unfold with Warrior Games, it turned out to be an absolutely incredible week!

Warrior Games was a competition we hosted here at the Olympic Training Center for wounded, ill and injured service men and women.  My three loyal readers know that working with the military population is where my heart is at, so you can imagine it was a pretty special week for me in particular.

These two events, combined with the Paralympic Games pretty much ate up the first half of my 2010.  Literally, one day I turned around and it was June!  I almost didn’t believe the calendar.  And then, I quickly went into panic mode.  June?! Uh, no, not possible.  June means race season is here and the arrival of June 1 meant I had only 26 days left until it was time, once again, to face the Buffalo.

Holy Buffalo.  26 days?  Not. Enough. Time.  Yeah, well, now we’re down to 19 days (gulp!) and while I was mostly concerned a week ago, I’m now mostly excited!

I’m quite pleased to report that I maintained some good training throughout the insanity of the past few months and while I was worried that I was just going through the motions in a lot of my workouts, I’ve really turned things around over the past week or so.

The confidence really kicked up over Memorial Day weekend when I had the opportunity (Thanks Boulder EXPAND!) to race in the Bolder Boulder 10k.  Bolder Boulder is the biggest 10k race in the country – nearly 55,000 runners! – and they do an amazing job of supporting the wheelchair division.  The organizers work closely with the local Paralympic sport program and offer the wheelchair racers top-notch treatment throughout race weekend.

Feeling good in that race chair is one of my biggest challenges with triathlon.  It’s an uncomfortable piece of equipment and I’ve really just been scared of it since I took that teeny little tumble last year in Lubbock.  So, doing a race like Bolder Boulder was a good challenge for me and an opportunity to get a little more experience and build off what I’ve been working on since last June.

The race really couldn’t have gone much better.  Sure, it wasn’t as fast as I wanted (is any race ever as fast as an athlete wants?) and I was very cautious out there, but I felt incredibly strong and quite confident out on the course.  Trust me, I’m not claiming victory over that thing yet, but good progress is being made and I think I’m going to feel pretty good come race day in Lubbock.

So, Boulder set the tone and the training sessions have been going really well since.  I did have a bit of a frustrating swim this morning, but I’m adjusting to the new leg brace I have to wear (new triathlon rules require my category of athletes to have their legs bound together on the swim).  I have no doubt it will help me be better in the water in the long term, but it’s definitely an adjustment.

Last weekend I had a great ride and was able to totally dial in my nutrition plan for the bike.  I’ve got my final long workout this Saturday (2 hr ride/1 hr run) and will test it again to make sure all is good on that front.  Coach Lisa always says that triathlon is really four sports – swimming, cycling, running and nutrition.  Considering I didn’t eat at all on the bike last year, surely I only have room for improvement!

Nutrition off the bike is still (always will be) a struggle.  I wrestle with it daily and have had a couple of good weeks, though have had a couple of really bad days both yesterday and today.  It will be tough for me to get to where I truly want to be for race day, but as long as I make progress in the right direction, I have to try to pleased with my efforts.  The long-term goal is to be at peak for Kona, so I have to manage my way through the tough days and keep my eye on the big picture.

It’s kinda weird that my first race of the season is such a big one.  Not only is this my chance to qualify for Hawaii Ironman, but the race in Texas has also been named the 70.3 national championships for handcyclists.  Given that I’m the only female racer entered in the handcycle division again this year, I’m not really all that concerned with earning the title of “national champion.” Honestly, does it really mean anything if you didn’t have to race anyone to earn it?  Not so much in my book.

The goal is Kona, and while it is nice not to have to worry about beating another athlete in my division, I still have to beat the clock.  We’ll talk goal time during race week, but if all goes well and I keep my wits about me, I think things look pretty good.

Buffalo Springs really is just the start.  Once I get home from Lubbock, I get two weeks to recover before I head to NYC on July 15 to race in the Paratriathlon National Championships – an Olympic distance race where I know I will have at least one other person to race against.  As well, it’s my understanding that if I finish in less than 4 hours I have a chance to qualify for world championships which will be in Budapest in September.  Oy – not sure how I feel about that or what I’ll do about it if I qualify, but something to consider.

Two days after I get home from New York, I head east again to DC with the fabulous Team Semper Fi folks to do a mentor visit to Walter Reed & Bethesda Naval Hospital (TOO COOL!) – and hopefully squeeze in my cousin/BFF’s wedding shower – then will go straight from there to another super cool work event.  I’m hesitant to reveal details on that one until it’s finalized, but trust me it’s pretty freaking rad.  And, if – no, since – I’ll be training for Ironman, it will be a big help in that area too!

I will get to spend the first few weeks of August at home, then will go to Chicago at the end of the month for the big Chicago Triathlon.  I think it’s one of the biggest tris in the country and they have a great PC division.  So cool to see yet another race doing so much to support para-athletes.  WTG Buffalo Springs, Chicago & NYC Tris!

So, that’s the summer in a fairly big nutshell.  September may include a trip to worlds in Budapest (though, really, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves) or just some fine tuning before going to Kona in October.

Considering I was really going through some crap the end of last year/beginning of this year and not feeling so great about life in general, it’s beyond wonderful to finally feel like I’ve climbed out of the hole and to have so much fun and amazing stuff to look forward to over the next few months.

It’s easy to keep looking toward the next big thing and, in the process, totally miss out on the experiences and opportunities you have in the present.  Well, at least it’s easy for me and a trap I fall into quite often.  So, in addition to the performance goals I’ve set I’m also trying my hardest to enjoy the journey and all the awesomeness that goes along with each and every part of it.

Peace out.

It’s How Far, Exactly?

May 18, 2010

Alright, alright…I have royally sucked at blogging so far in 2010 and it’s a big goal of mine to get back on the stick and get writing. We’re quickly coming up on race season and this is not only a great way for me to keep all three of my adoring fans up-to-date, but it really does help me sort out all the crap in my head.

It’s been a rough couple months since the last update.  Physically, I’m doing fine.  Mentally & emotionally – another story.  I think the three big losses I experienced dating back to last August, going through to January of this year were finally taking their toll.  I had tried to press on pretending like things were okay, but I really didn’t let myself feel the weight of the sadness and emptiness. When you do everything you can not to feel your feelings, they catch you eventually – and typically, they come down on you harder than they would have if you’d just let yourself deal with them upfront.  You’d think by now I would have learned that lesson.  What can I say?  Stubborn should be my middle name.

The worst part about being mired in the pit of despair is that no matter how much you want out or how hard you try to claw your way to a better place, it’s not really a matter of will power.  I certainly *wanted* to feel better.  But, no matter how much I willed it or tried to “look on the bright side” or put everything in perspective and take stock of all the good things and amazing people, the weight and the sadness won out.  It’s an extraordinarily frustrating place to be.

It’s taken quite a bit of soul searching, tough decision-making and loads of support from the most amazing friends anyone could ever ask for and I’m finally making my way back into the light.  Trust me, it’s not all suddenly sunshine and roses overnight.  But, on the whole, I’m getting there.

Today marks 40 days until I race in Lubbock.  Training has been going well – though, never as good as you want – and while I’m battling a small sickness right now that’s derailed me for a couple of days, I think I’m light years ahead of where I was just one year ago.  I have much, much work to do in the next 40 days, but I have absolutely no doubt that I’ll be completely prepared come June 27.  I’m coming for you Buffalo Springs, so watch the f*ck out.  See what happened there?  That was me psyching myself up.  Positive self-talk.  Uh huh.  Yeah, that’s it.

I got a chance to head East late last month and spent a little QT with the ‘rents.  That’s always good for a bit of cheering up and one night while I was hanging out with Babs, she started asking a bunch of questions about triathlon, Kona, Ironman, etc.  At one point she says,”So, this race in Kona, how far is it exactly?”  I told her all about the 2.4 mile ocean swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run and her immediate response was, “What the hell would make you want to do that to yourself?”  Well, actually, first she asked why I would do that to her (she’s a bit of a worrier), then she asked what motivated me to punish myself in such an extraordinary way.

I think a lot of people wonder what motivates people like me to do the things we do.   I told my mom that I knew exactly why I was doing it and no matter how I tried to explain it she couldn’t ever understand.  Likely not the answer she was looking for, but true.  The simplest answer I can give is that I want to do it precisely because you think I can’t.  Well, not *you* specifically, but that general *you* out there that make up the naysayers and doubters.  Listen, I’ve got more than enough doubt and naysaying going on my own head – I don’t need your help!  I guess that means I do this as much to prove it to myself as I do to prove anything to anyone else.

Peace out.

No mo’ Canada

March 28, 2010

Well, that’s all folks.  The 2010 Paralympic Winter Games are over.  The flame is out.  The medals have been awarded.  Everyone’s gone home and I no longer have to pretend that I don’t want to correct every sign that says “centre” to “center.”  Yeah, that’s right Canada, it’s “er” not “re”!  And, what’s with that annoyingly unnecessary “u” – it’s just plain “flavor,” not “flavour.”  Ah, well, to each his own, I guess.

All in all, I’d have to say things in Vancouver went well.  It really was a completely different universe from the summer Games.  The days were still long and there was plenty of work to be done, but a 12-hour day somehow doesn’t compare to working a 20-hour day. I saw way too much of the third floor Hampton Inn office and not nearly enough of Vancouver (a city I think I would like quite a lot had I had the chance to see more of it), but the fact of the matter is I was there to work, not be on vacation or be a tourist.

That notion is really hard for some people to understand, but that’s the way it really does go. People think it’s glamorous, so much fun and a non-stop party at the Games.  For some folks, I guess it is – as their job allows for that.  But, not for me. I promise I’m not complaining or being bitter when I say that working the Games isn’t fun.  It’s work.  And, my particular job doesn’t generally include the opportunity to get out and about (or, oot and aboot, as they say north of the border) very often or allow for much more activity outside of what you have to do to get your work done.  Again, not complaining, that’s just the way it is.

I do think my perspective on working the Games is very different since I’ve actually competed in them, as well.  Once you’ve had the experience as an athlete, I think it’s hard to enjoy the Games any other way.  This is no big declaration of a comeback or anything, but there’s no better way to really be at the Games than as an athlete.  Listen, lots of stress that comes along with that experience, too, not to mention everything it takes to get to that point, but the payoff is pretty awesome.

Babs sent me an email while I was in Vancouver saying how she and Dad wished they had come out to see the competition -they love the Paralympics!  She said they are definitely planning on going to London as fans in 2012 and since they were going to be there I might as well compete….hmmm…..is she on to something?  Hmmm…we’ll just have to see what happens I guess.

Anywho….I did manage to get three nights out to have some fun, and what fun it was!  The one thing I do enjoy the most about working the Games is having the chance to meet people I technically “work” with, but haven’t ever met.  There were a few folks from other areas of the USOC that I got to spend time with and get to know a bit better and that makes the whole trip worthwhile. It was also yet another reminder that I need to do a better job of crawling out of the little hole I live in to get out more.  I’m queen of finding excuses for not going out to spend time with people (training provides a very convenient one) and I most definitely need to work on that.  Do you think if I keep saying that every place I live that one of these days I’ll actually let my wall down and do it? 🙂

I’d like to say that my trip home was uneventful, but sadly, it wasn’t.  I don’t want to drag down the blog with all the nastiness I could spew about getting stuck in Denver during a freak Spring snowstorm, so I’ll just say that it took me way too long to get home, but what an awesome feeling it was to finally get here and sleep in my own bed again!  Though, I do miss the lady from the Hampton Inn who would come make my bed everyday.  Can I get her back?

As I mentioned in a previous blog, I think I did a good job maintaining my workouts while I was away.  Thing is, that’s all it was – just maintenance.  As of today, we are 88 days away from Buffalo Springs and qualifying for Kona.  I have much progress that needs to be made in that short amount of time.  While I know I’ll be ready, and I’m light years ahead of where I was this time last year, these next 88 days need to be a pure ass kicking.

A big part of my motivation is my awesome, rockstar friend Melissa who just finished her very first 70.3 yesterday.  I’m so unbelievably proud of you M!  She finished with just 2 minutes to spare before the final cutoff, despite the fact that her prosthetic leg slipped off during the bike and she got stung by a bee!  You’re my hero.

Peace out.

Canada is Uphill

March 19, 2010

One of the most wonderful things about being in a city is having the opportunity to get yourself places without having to rely on a car.  I’ve been able to get out everyday and push around – whether it’s to get food, go shopping, head to the pool, whatever.  The fresh air is great and it’s a fun way to see even this small part of Vancouver.  It really is awesome, with one small exception.

Canada is uphill.  Both directions.  In the rain (I’d say snow, but it doesn’t snow in Vancouver. It rains. A lot.).  I’m not exaggerating here – it feels like everywhere I go, no matter what direction I’m heading, I’m going uphill.  Sure, it’s good for me and all, but seriously annoying nonetheless.

So, besides constantly pushing uphill, things in Vancouver are going along just fine.  We’re in the home stretch and I’m feeling the burn.  I’ve had the chance to go to a few hockey games, including yesterday’s semifinal against Norway.  It was really fun and Team USA plays for gold on Saturday against Japan.  Oh yeah, I said Japan and that’s not an error.  Everybody has been hyping up a big US-Canada sled hockey final, and it certainly could have – maybe should have – happened, but one small problem.  Japan got in the way.  The Japanese upset Canada in the semis yesterday and I think a lot of people are still stunned.  A gold medal game is still a gold medal game, but I think USA-Japan just might not have the same atmosphere as USA-Canada would have.

Two days ago I made the trek to Whistler.  It’s beautiful up there and I got to see the sit-ski biathlon event.  It was so cool! Seriously, if it didn’t look like it was insanely hard and you didn’t have to train & compete outside in the snow, I’d be all over that! Definitely a rad sport – maybe someday I’ll just try XC skiing just for fun.

I spent a couple hours in the afternoon lunching with the Whistler PR staff and took a quick stroll through the little ski village of Whistler.  I often comment on how there’s always some lasting legacy of the Paralympic Games that really impacts the host country and its people.  In Greece, it was the fact that the Acropolis was finally made accessible to Greeks with disabilities.  In Beijing, not only did the Great Wall finally become accessible, but for the first time ever, the Chinese were exposed to positive images of people with disabilities.  Really incredible & impactful stuff, right?

Well, here in Canada, the Games are leaving a legacy of their own.  Never before had people with disabilities visiting Whistler been able to share in the glory that is lululemon.  Until now.  Thanks to the Paralympic Games, a new ramp has been added to the previously inaccessible Whistler location of lululemon and now all can partake of its greatness.  Thanks Paralympics!

I’ve been hanging in there with my training – still swimming and biking as much as I can.  The race chair hasn’t been quite as successful, but that’s okay as it’s much better to keep that as a strictly outdoor activity.  I definitely feel like I’m going home having maintained my fitness and not lost any ground in training.  If you ask me, that’s a major success.  I may have to quit eating food for a month to make-up for some of my eating habits, but training-wise, I’m solid.  Despite the fact that CO is getting a big ol’ snowstorm this weekend, temps will be back in the 60s when I get home next week and I’m looking forward to kicking things up and hitting the road hard to get ready for Buffalo Springs. We’re now less than 100 days away from the Kona qualifier!  That’s right – 99 days to go! I. Can’t. Wait.

Okay, this was supposed to be my early night and suddenly it’s 10:30p and I’m looking at a 6:30a wake-up to get in a two-hour ride before a VERY busy day tomorrow.  We’ve got the last alpine event of the Games, XC team relays, gold medal hockey game and curling semifinals & medal games all tomorrow.  GO USA – let’s bring home some hardware!

Thank you all for the great messages and support you’re sending my way.  Life here in Vancouver certainly isn’t as glamorous as it may sound, so keep sending the love.

Four days to go.

Peace out.

Let the Games begin!

March 13, 2010

We are finally underway here in Vancouver!  I was lucky enough to attend Opening Ceremonies last night and I give them a double thumbs up.  Really, great job Canada.  Aside from the flying Sumi mascot, I thought these were the best Opening Ceremonies I’d ever been to.

Watching my friend Heath, an Iraq war vet, carry in the U.S. flag was my favorite moment – by far.  But, overall, I thought the event was really entertaining and it’s always wonderful to see a Paralympic event in a sold-out 60,000 seat stadium.

So, today is the first day of competition.  The weather issues they had in Whistler for the Olympic Games continue here for us.  The downhill events were cancelled, so another day of waiting for the athletes.  Bummer.

Best news of the day – we won our first medal!  Andy Soule, an Afghanistan war veteran, won a bronze in the biathlon pursuit.  It’s the first-ever U.S. biathlon medal in either the Olympic OR Paralympic Games.  Rad! Way to go Andy!

Be sure to check www.universalsports.com to catch the daily highlight show.  And, of course, visit www.usparalympics.org early and often (I mean, really often – I know you all want me to stay employed) for all kinds of videos, photos and info.

Okay, so there’s your Games update.  Outside of the official events, things are going pretty well.  I’m still battling the food situation (thanks for the encouragement Coach Lisa!), but think I’m improving a little.  Baby steps.  Training is still going well.  I was able to get in a nice 1.5 hour ride this morning and have a swim planned for tomorrow.  Being able to maintain a workout schedule is my saving grace here.  Couldn’t be happier that I schlepped along the bike & race chair.

I’ve been shopping myself silly.  I can’t get enough of the lululemon (they are making “I ❤ Sledge Hockey” shirts!) and today Jamie and I stumbled upon the H&M.  H&M might not be special to some of you, but for those of us with the nearest store more than 1,000 miles away, it’s always a treat to spend some time in there.

Perhaps my biggest coup so far is that I scored a pair of the coveted red mittens!  We had heard that the mittens completely sold out during the Olympics and that no more were going to be made for the Paralympics.  We still believe it to be true that no more mittens will be sold, but…they have made a VERY limited number of the mittens with the Paralympic logo on the back (instead of the Olympic rings) for the torch relay and for use in Opening Ceremonies.

Turns out that our group of Paralympic Experience kids (a group of 14-19 year old aspiring Paralympians) each got a pair of mittens when they went to see the torch relay.  I ran into the group in the hotel lobby last night after ceremonies and asked if anybody possibly got an extra pair.  They said no, but then one of the kids said he didn’t want his and gave them to me!  SCORE!

For those that have requested a pair, I promise to keep my eyes peeled in case they do go on sale somewhere.  If not, well then, I’ll send you a picture of mine.  If you’re lucky, I’ll even send you a picture of me wearing them. 🙂

The weather here in the ciy has been rainy and gray, but not too terribly cold.  One of the girls that came down from Whistler yesterday said it’s like being in a different country.  It’s winter in Whistler and very much on the verge of spring in Vancouver. 

Many of the staff members are gearing up for a big Canadian St. Patrick’s Day celebration!  Word on the street is that they do have green beer here, so that’ keeping everyone happy.  Really, what more could you ask for?

I’m not sure if it’s possible to ever have too much Starbucks, but if you can, it’s possible I’m nearing the limit.  Wait, no, not possible.  I love my ‘bucks and think it’s glorious that I can push to four different stores within about five blocks.  I’ll miss that when I go home.

Yeah, in fact, I’ll miss a lot.  City living is the way to go!

I’m anxious to get out to an event.  I may try to hit the hockey game tomorrow night and will definitely try to get to Whistler at least once.  It is quite a different experience working out of the team office, as opposed to the Village or working with a specific sport and being oot and aboot at venues all day.

There are pros and cons to both, right now, I’m enjoying the situation but will look forward to the change of scenery and a look at the competition.

On a final and side note, on my morning excursion I met a beautiful little Boston Terrier named Roxy.  She was sweet, hyper and jumpy and she made me miss my little boy so much.  Thinking of you, Lou!

Peace out.

PS – Sorry for the lack of photos.  Dumbass here left her camera cable at home, so no photos until I return to the land of the free.

No. More. Snacks.

March 10, 2010

Training = Good.  Food = Bad.  Well, too much food at least.  Eating well and staying in a good nutritional routine are always tough when you’re on the road.  Add to that a table full of treats galore sitting right behind you in the office and it’s one pitfall after another.  Today was a food disaster.  Way too many snacks.  Not nearly enough fruits and veggies.

So, I’m vowing from today forward, there will be no more snacking for this girl.  You’re part in this is to check in every so often and make sure I’m sticking to it.  You know, maybe drop a note on my Facebook or Twitter and say, “Hey Fatty, put down the M&Ms.” Or, something like that.

Not working out today didn’t help the situation.  I hit it so hard the past three days and felt great.  Then, today, not so great – tired and a little sore.  I had to remind myself that prior to Sunday I hadn’t been able to train in more than a week.  Maybe I jumped back in a little too quickly.  Maybe.  I’ll be back at it in the morning with a swim and hoping to find time in the afternoon to finally get in the race chair.

Hmm, this isn’t really supposed to be a training blog.  I’m guessing you’re all on the edge of your seats waiting for the Vancouver dish.  Honestly, right now, things are super quiet.  I’m really anxious for competition to get underway and have some fun stuff to report. We did get a little exciting news today, but can’t share until tomorrow.  So, stay tuned for that. 🙂

Carlee, Jamie and I took a trip to the Chinatown area for dinner.  We didn’t go into Chinatown proper, but hit a Vietnamese place just a block outside and it was great!  The place definitely looked sketch from the outside and, really, the whole block was a little dicey.  But, since Carlee had researched the place and it came highly recommended by our awesome volunteers, we decided to give it a shot.  Delish! Very glad we decided to stick it out and give it a shot.

Sorry for the short entry, but I swear you’re not missing out on anything.  As of right now, life in Vancouver is pretty ho-hum and going along just great.  Except that I need to stop eating. And I miss my phone.  The shakes will be setting in any day now.

M arrives tomorrow!

Peace out.

Vancouver > Beijing

March 8, 2010

Wow!  What a difference 18 months and a few thousand miles makes.  I’ve only been here in Vancouver a little more than 24 hours and I can already tell you that this experience is going to be astronomically better than what I went through in Beijing (Can you say no cankles?!).  Aside from the fact that the language and culture are the same as being in the U.S., there are some other notable improvements from the 2008 situation.

Let’s start with the fact that I’m at a hotel and am super lucky enough to have my own room.  Here’s why this rules:

  • Privacy
  • Shower with handheld shower head
  • Privacy
  • Clean towels every day
  • Privacy
  • Clean sheets
  • Privacy
  • Access to normal food (Including about 5 Starbucks within 4 blocks & a grocery store)
  • Privacy
  • Handcycle set-up on the trainer in the room
  • Privacy
  • Wireless internet in the room
  • And, did I mention privacy?

Yes, major improvement and I know it’s all going to be so much more enjoyable.

Though I haven’t gotten out too much yet (we did walk over to the Yaletown restaurant/bar/club/shopping area for dinner last night – lots of delish and fun places to pick from), I can already tell that Vancouver is a great city. It’s very pretty and super clean here and being a city girl at heart, it’s beyond fabulous to experience a few weeks of real living.  One of the nicest things is being able to get places easily without the use of a car.  Y’all know my aversion to driving and it’s so nice to be able to push everywhere I need to go or even take a train or bus.  Hmm, Colorado, that whole concept of public transportation is fascinating isn’t it?

Our hotel is literally just a few steps from BC Place, where Opening Ceremonies will be held (same place Olympic Opening Ceremonies were, too).  The hockey venue is accessible by train, with a total commute time of about 45 minutes.  I haven’t heard how far to curling, but I do know it’ a bus ride for sure.  The few days before the Games start are always a little funky.  Some people are really busy with last minute prep and others, like me, are really just waiting for the competition to start.

Tonight is the US flag raising and welcome ceremony in the Vancouver Athletes Village.  I’m going to head over there to get some video of the event and get some quotes from athletes about the accommodations in the village and how they like the venues so far. It will be nice to be able to put something out for folks to see and share a little of the excitement!  Plus, it gives me something to do! Be sure to check USParalympics.org tonight or first thing tomorrow to see the vid.

My favorite part of the day today was Keri and I’s adventure to lululemon.  For the uninitiated, lululemon is a brand of yoga and workout clothes that are super awesome.  We, of course, don’t have a lulu in the Springs and the line originated here in Vancouver so it’s fun to shop lulu in her hometown!  We also stopped into the Roots store to check out their stuff and they have some very cute American flag items – M, it’s all waiting for you!

The one thing that we won’t be able to get are the famous red mittens.  Sorry to everyone who requested a pair (or two), but the mittens are sold out and we’ve been told they are no longer available.  I was really hoping they would make a Paralympic version, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the case.  Total bummer.

However, people here seem to be really excited about the Paralympic Games.  Canada’s entire culture and attitude toward disability is just light years ahead of the US.  People with disabilities are much more visible in mainstream media and Canadian Paralympic athletes receive just about as much attention as their abled-bodied counterparts.  I will say it’s nice to be in a country where people are so comfortable with disability, used to seeing people with disabilities and familiar with Paralympic sport.  Really makes you wonder why the US is so damn far behind.

CTV, the major network up here will be carrying 50+ hours of live coverage of the Games, which is just plain awesome.  There is going to be limited coverage in the US, between NBC and Universal Sports, but nothing near what they’re getting up here.  The official announcement on our broadcast *should* be coming out tomorrow and I’ll provide a link and info for you as soon as I can.

I don’t yet have the shakes, but the iPhone and texting withdrawal is pretty bad.  So, please FB, email or Skype me so I feel like I actually still have friends.  Well, at least the two of you out there.  Ok?  Thanks.

Peace out.

Well, hello 2010. When did you get here?

March 4, 2010

Holy bananas!  I knew it had been a long time since my last blog, but I had no idea I’d yet to welcome the new decade with my insightful and witty musings.  How could I have been so remiss? Please forgive me.

I won’t bore you with a detailed recap of the first two months of the year, but suffice it to say, 2010 has made it’s presence well known around here.  Having made peace with 2009, I feel like a lot of things have come together at the start of this year to put me on what I think will be quite an interesting path over the next 10 months.  I didn’t exactly resolve to blog more this coming year, but I think the events and adventures coming my way will necessitate more frequent updates.

Anywho…the first big adventure of the year is now upon us!  Tomorrow, I start my journey to Vancouver for the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games!  I’ve never been to a winter Games before and I can’t wait for this experience.  I’ll be staying in Vancouver for the next three weeks and responsible for all the online coverage you’ll see on USParalympics.org!  We’re planning a lot of exciting coverage, so be sure to check the site daily and if you want news, videos, results and all the Team USA goodness delivered right to your inbox, please sign up for our e-mail updates! *Note – This is a special sign-up list, you will need to register for these specifically even if you already get regular e-mails from U.S. Paralympics.*  Even if you don’t want all the goodness, could you just sign-up and help me out?  I’d appreciate it and I promise the e-mails won’t suck.  Rockin’.

I anticipate things in Vancouver will be just a smidge different than they were in Beijing (Dear God, if I have to refer to any part of my body as a “cankle” ever again, I might have a complete breakdown), but I’m sure plenty of hilarity and hijinx will ensue and create more than enough entertainment for your reading pleasure.

The goal is to deliver daily blog updates, but if a once-a-day dose of my endearing charm and scintillating insights just isn’t enough for you, please do follow me on Twitter – @TeamKatz – for running commentary.

On the training front…I’m dealing with a minor medical issue (don’t worry – I’m okay and healing fast!) at the moment and haven’t been able to workout since last Tuesday.  It sucks!  I’m in major need of an endorphin fix.  The plan is to take off the rest of this week and once I get settled in to Vancouver on Sunday to start back.  It’s a lot of shizz to schlep, but I am taking both my bike and race chair with me to the Games. I’ll have my bike trainer set-up in my room and there will be rollers (for the race chair) set-up in the hotel.  I have two co-workers who are training for the Boston Marathon on April 19, so they are going to need access to the rollers, as well.  Handy for me! Another co-worker has located an indoor 50m pool only 10 blocks from the hotel, so I’m psyched to know my training will stay on track while I’m away.  Besides, my biggest cheerleader will be in Vancouver with me, so I know I’ll have no choice but to kick ass.  No slacking allowed.

It’s crazy to me to think that I’ll get home from Vancouver and have 2.5 months until I race in Lubbock!  Insanity.  But, I’m ready for race season – Side note: I did my first race of the year at the Disney Marathon in Orlando in January…I was pleased to finish strong as it was my first marathon in 13 years…wanted to go under 3 hrs, but managed a 3:10….froze my ass off as it was under 30 degrees at start and didn’t warm up much throughout the morning…too effin’ cold.  I’ve had more than enough winter to last me a lifetime and I’m dying to be outside and enjoying some warm weather.  I’ll sum up the past four months in two words: Snow Blows.

Words just don’t do justice to how much I appreciate all the love, support and encouragement I get from all of you.  There are many exciting things in the works for Team Katz and I’m beyond thrilled to be able share it all with you as it unravels.

Y’all rock.

Peace out.

PS – I’d like to dedicate this first blog of 2010 to the loving memory of my sweet boy Louie.  At the too young age of 5 years old, Louie was diagnosed with bone cancer.  He fought valiantly for two and half months, but lost his battle in mid-January.  Lou was the light and joy of my life for the 4 years I was lucky enough to have him.  I miss him more than words can say.  I think of you every single day sweet boy and I know you’re always with me.  Mama misses you.

One last blog before 2009 kicks the bucket…

December 30, 2009

I’ve finally made peace with 2009.  Let go of the distractions & given myself the gift of closure.  Bring it, 2010!

So, I posted this on my Twitter page a few days ago and it seems to have resonated with quite a few peeps.  It really was just an honest expression of me feeling like I’d finally put the crap of the past year behind me and “accepted the things I cannot change.”

If you’re a regular reader of IDLFPILY (Yeah, I know, totally shit acronym, but everybody else does it – figured I’d try.  Epic fail.), you know that 2009 has been less than stellar for Team Katz.

I’ve most certainly had my fair share of ups this year – I finished a half-Ironman triathlon, I cycled across Alaska, had the privilege of participating in two amazing Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride events, took the Livestrong Challenge.  All super rad experiences, but only because I had fantastic support and great friends along the way.  The people are what made each and every one of these experiences so awesome.

I could definitely run through the downs for you, as well, but I’m over all that and there’s no need to dwell on the past or the things that have happened that I can’t change or wish had turned out differently.  I wish I could give you some kind of magic formula that got me to this place or pinpoint something that gave me the strength to move on, but it really just happened in its own time.

I’ve battled the sadness, disappointment, rejection, upset, etc. of many different things this year.  For some reason, this year’s challenges and heartbreak threw me for the biggest loop I’ve yet to be thrown.  I wallowed, got angry, got revenge and did various other things in response – none of which helped or really made me feel better.  I wanted not to care or just to get over it, but it simply doesn’t work that way.  Eventually, I was just able to accept that what’s done is done and I’d never get over all the crap if I didn’t learn what I could from all the past year’s experiences and then put them truly in the past.  Closure – it’s really one of the most fabulous gifts you can give yourself.  But, it can’t be half-assed or pretend.  It has to be the real deal.

So, now that we’re done with all the unpleasantness – here’s looking forward to 2010 and the great things to come in the new year.  My race schedule is nearly all set.  I’m still waiting on the announcement of the 2010 U.S. Handcycling Series so I can add a few cycling races to the docket, but right now things are shaping up nicely for the first part of the year. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Jan 10 – Disney Marathon, Orlando, FL
April 11 – Platte River Half-Marathon, Littleton, CO
May 16 – Colfax Marathon, Denver, CO
June 26 – Buffalo Springs Half-Ironman Triathlon (Kona Qualifier), Lubbock, TX
July 10 – New York City Triathlon (ParaTriathlon National Championships), New York, NY
October 9 – Hawaii Ironman World Championships (Pending qualification in June), Kona, HI

That’s all I’ve got for now.  I definitely want to get in a few cycling races before June and then depending on what happens at Buffalo Springs, I’ll probably throw in a couple small races between July and October.  And, also dependent on what happens with Kona, I will likely add a couple late-year races or maybe throw in some other Ironman distance triathlon if I inexplicably don’t qualify for Hawaii.  I would like to get in something in February, but March is out as I’ll be in Vancouver the whole month working the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.

I’m happy with what I have set-up so far.  A little nutty for me to decide last week that I want to do the Disney race, but I did a 16 mile push a week ago and will do a 20 miler this week to make sure I’m ready.  I have no doubt I have the cardiovascular fitness to finish the race, but I want to feel comfortable in the chair for that period of time and just feel a little more confident with the distance.  I would LOVE to finish around 2:30, which sounds fast to you runners, but is pretty freaking slow for a wheeler.  I don’t so much care about being the fastest out there.  I have two goals – finish and don’t crash.

I haven’t raced a marathon since 1996 (gulp!) and since my crash in Lubbock, I’ve been less than steady in the race chair.  This is a great experience to build up my confidence and put in the miles on a flat course and at sea level.  Bonus!

It feels so good to be mentally back on track and to have my priorities in order once again.  My training has been kick ass the past few weeks and I see it only getting better, especially with the motivation of Lubbock and Kona staring me in the face.

Outside of  training and racing, I think much of my lightened burden has to do with some decisions I’ve made about my personal life, too. Unfortunately, I can’t share details just yet, but I’m excited about the possibilities coming my way in 2010 and my arms, heart and mind are open to all opportunities that might come my way.

I’m also not really making resolutions, though I’m not much of a resolution-maker in general.  I know there are a few things I need to change and get some crap in order, so I’m going to work on small changes – keeping in mind that there are limits to what things I can control and those are the things on which I must focus.

So, with that – Good riddance 2009! Bring it on 2010!

Wishing you all much health, happiness and success in the coming year.  I am beyond grateful for your ongoing support, love and honesty.

Peace out.