Sunday, August 31, 2014

This is my heart

High needs.

That's not the label anyone would want to put on their child. But that's what I have to come to terms with. I have high needs children. And it has broken my heart as a mother.

Typing this is very difficult. I have many emotions and thoughts running through my head. My stress level is sky high. My kids and their dad and I are struggling every single day to figure this all out. The little girl still inside of me is feeling very, very lost. 

My son is a middle schooler who was recently diagnosed with ADHD, although we know this disorder has plagued him for years. This past week we added another official disorder to the mix. Anxiety disorder. What does this mean? It means treatment is beyond the scope of our family doctor and now we venture into the realm of specialists. We have choices on which route to take and we are weighing those choices. Just when you think you're making steps to help alleviate the symptoms of one disorder, something new pops up that completely overshadows the progress. The cry of my sweet pre-teen cuts through me and brings me to my knees in helplessness. 

My daughter is in fourth grade. For a very long time now we have known that her "issues" are not normal. People laugh and warn us "just wait until she's a teenager." Yes, she's a girl so she gets emotional and obstinate and difficult. I have blown off a lot of the misbehavior as merely being a product of her gender and age. But this year is different. I can't blow it off any longer. Something is seriously wrong and it's beyond my capabilities as a mother. She is defiant to an extreme level, she throws temper tantrums for hours, she cries at the smallest problem, she blames others for everything, she says very mean and hateful things to her parents and brother, she thinks life is unfair, she fails to listen to any kind of reasoning, and I believe these problems are now manifesting themselves in physical ailments like acid reflux and extreme insomnia. Just about every single day she displays these behaviors....for us. But rarely does she do any of this at school. On the flip side, she can be incredibly affectionate and loving and the majority of the time this is what she displays to the outside world. But home is different. This is where the rage comes in, and it's broken me as a mother. The worst part is that it's making my son's anxiety even worse. He can't deal with having a sister who treats him so poorly. 

I am in my own state of depression and anxiety and the stress with my children is preventing me from getting better. I want to be better, and I'm doing everything I can within my own power to improve my emotional problems. But I'm out of solutions and I need help. I am armed with the names of many different doctors and am lining up as much help as I can get.

Why am I writing all this out? Because I'm tired of hearing how wonderful my kids are and then feeling guilty for being so unhappy. Because I hate feeling like I have failed them and I need to know I'm not alone. Because I need a name for what is wrong with my daughter and I need to know how to fix it. Because I need people to understand why I had to quit my job and why I'm not sure if I'll be going back to work anytime soon. This has consumed my focus and it's unfair for others to depend on me right now. 

I created brilliant and wonderful children and I want to be a happy and content family unit. I love my children with every ounce of my being. But none of this is normal and it's not going to "pass" anytime soon. So if you think I seem distracted or distant or's because I am. 

Admitting all of this feels good in a way. I don't want to feel like I'm hiding anything from my loved ones. But admitting it has also been incredibly difficult...the feeling of failure is ever present and putting it all out there makes me feel naked and vulnerable. I am not a perfect person nor am I a perfect parent. I've been dealt some crappy cards. I'll take it one step at a time trying to find the light at the end of the tunnel.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Positives and Negatives

My training has kind of been all over the place this summer. After my April marathon I knew that I would be drastically cutting back on my running so I could focus on cycling and swimming more, in the hopes I'd get up the nerve to sign up for another triathlon. Last summer was very rough on me and I knew I needed to do something different.

It's been good and bad.

First....the positives....

I have really enjoyed my Saturday bike rides with my triathlon group. Sometimes I stick to the group, sometimes I branch off with one or two others, sometimes I end up solo. But it's been fun and challenging and a really nice break from the difficulty of running in the summer weather. I don't typically have too much trouble cycling for two or three hours in the heat. I've noticed that I've gained a lot of strength and comfort with my cycling over the course of the past few months.

As for swimming, I was very reluctant to get back in the pool. I just wasn't a great swimmer last year, although I improved dramatically over the summer. My first few swim workouts this year were pretty mediocre and it was a bit frustrating to me. But the last few weeks have been completely different. It's like something just clicked in the pool and I now feel like a real swimmer. I've gotten compliments on my form and ability, and that just makes me feel very good about my progress. I felt strong and comfortable during my first triathlon last week, and I'm feeling confident going into my next one at the end of September.

I loved competing in my first triathlon and can't wait to see how I do during a full triathlon season next year. I haven't picked my races yet, but I do plan to do several throughout the season. I want to be a real local competitor in the sport.

But there have been negatives....

My running. It kinda sucks. I'm battling plantar fasciitis and that is discouraging, but it has improved in the last couple weeks. I am struggling greatly in the heat and humidity, but I'm thankful this summer has been much better than the past few years. Except for August. August has been atrocious. Some workouts have gone very well, but my "long" runs have not gone well at all. The longest run I've had since April is 7 miles, which was my choice and I don't regret that choice at all, but I do think it's putting me at a disadvantage going into marathon training. I'm going to suck it up and keep increasing my mileage slowly, and know that with the cooler temps around the corner I'll be feeling much better.

I have two marathon in the coming season, Houston on January 18 and San Luis Obispo on April 26. These are the same marathons I ran this year and I'm looking forward to improving upon my times in 2015. Both are awesome races, but they're completely different from each other and involve very different racing strategies. Also, with them 3 months apart, I have a long training cycle...37 weeks. But I did it this year, and ran my two fastest marathons so far, so I'm confident I can hang in there and hopefully be just as successful. Most importantly, I want to enjoy the whole journey!

I'm trying to focus more on the positives. My marathon training group starts up on Saturday and for the fifth year I'll be coaching. It's always better for me to be surrounded by inspiring athletes every Saturday morning. One step at a time...I'll get my running mojo back!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Something for me

I've been throwing around the idea of turning my blog into a book for a long time. In my head I've come up with different categories my posts would fall into, and I think compiling it in an organized way can really help to lend a hand to my voice. It can paint a better picture of who I am, why I race, and how my training and goals have progressed over the past few years.

Today I started organizing my blog posts. Since January 2011, when I started my blog, I've published 97 blog posts. Something that really caught my eye is that only six of those posts were written in 2014. Only six.

It makes me sad that I've let my blogging fall away while I worked. I love writing, I love chronicling my training and racing, and especially working through my struggles by writing about them. But my free time over the last year has been very limited, and I've put aside blogging.

No more! I miss my blog. Now that I'm taking a hiatus from working, I'm putting more time into ME. Into my family. Into training. Into EXPERIENCING.

It's been so awesome going through old blog posts, seeing how I handled training in the nasty heat of 2011 and 2012, how I've dealt with my personal demons, and how my goals have progressed. Not all my posts are easy to read...I've laid a lot of heartache out in some of them....but I think it's important for me to see where I've been and where I am now, and how I can keep creating memories and experiences, particularly through my athletic endeavors.

I don't expect anyone else to necessarily read this "book" but I'm excited to create something like this.

A triathlon! It was about time

Over two years ago I started running with a local triathlon group. One of my closest running buddies was a member and convinced me to check out some of the workouts. I was convinced that no way would I actually ever do a triathlon. I was delusional.

Of course I would do a triathlon. 

After learning to swim, buying a bike, and slowing getting more comfortable with the idea, I did register for a triathlon last year. Unfortunately, it was canceled due to thunderstorms and my bucket list item was put on the back burner. 

All my confidence going into that race pretty much disappeared through the winter. I didn't even get into the pool for 4 months. And by the time I did, my swimming endurance had suffered considerably, although I thankfully hadn't completely lost my form. Several swim workouts later, I was gaining back some confidence. But I still didn't sign up for another triathlon. I spectated a local race with some teammates and that started to get me excited. I spent a lot of time on my bike, doing the Saturday group rides, and I felt my strength increasing in that discipline considerably. My run speed was mostly holding on through the heat of the summer. 

I sucked it up and signed up for the same Georgetown race that was canceled last year, scheduled for September 21. And then the next day, I signed up for the shorter Bucket List Triathlon in August in College Station. And when I say short, I mean short....a 200 meter pool swim, an 8 mile bike, and a 2 mile run. I was still a nervous wreck, but it seemed like the perfect first triathlon for me.

I felt like I had a swimming breakthrough three days before the race. I decided to time my 200 meter swims, and was pleasantly surprised by what I was seeing. I still had trouble completing the 8 lengths without a short break, but I was swimming them under 5 minutes. It's not fast, but it was good for me. I felt a million times better going into race day.


I arrived at the College Station Middle School well in advance of transition opening - I wanted a good spot for my bike! I set up transition, talked to several other racers, and found my teammate Joe. I scoped out the timing mats, and planned my strategy. I wanted to race well. I wanted to place in my age group. Even though it was my first triathlon I couldn't turn off my competitive side. Joe and I warmed up for 4 lengths in the pool and my nerves were calmed. Greg showed up with the kiddos about 45 minutes before the race started and everything was ready.

I was definitely nervous as we lined up around the pool, but I calmed quite a bit as I watched the faster swimmers in the pool. I was number 74, so it would be several minutes before I started the race. Watching the other swimmers made me feel a bit better. By the time I hit the water, my nerves were gone. I just swam! And I felt good during the swim. Whenever I felt like I was breathing poorly, I switched from bilateral breathing to unilateral and my form improved. I had sloppy lane changes but I knew that I could improve upon that for the next triathlon. Before I knew it I was on my last length of the pool and I just flew through the water to finish up. Running out of the natatorium towards transition was the best feeling I've had in awhile!

It was a very long run from the pool to my bike, but switching out my gear didn't take too long. After going over the timing mat out of transition, we couldn't mount our bikes right away, so it was a little frustrating to be running in my cycling shoes and not riding (probably my only complaint from the race). As soon as I could get on my bike, however, I just went all out.

The weather was pretty bad. Humidity in excess of 90% and the temp was over 80 degrees. I had taken a hit on my inhaler, but I was breathing heavy right away on the bike. I got up to about 20 miles per hour and tried to hold it for as long as I could. Although the course is a fast one, the downhills are too short to gain a considerable amount of speed. I think my speed topped out around 25 mph. But I tried to hold on as best as I could and did find myself passing several people. Going all out for 8 miles is a lot more difficult than I expected it to be, but I'm hoping the thick air had something to do with that. The most surprising part about my bike split was that I didn't get passed by anyone.

Seeing the middle school parking lot after my last turn put a huge smile on my face. I was almost done with the second discipline and about to start my run, which I assumed would be my best split. I switched out my shoes and head gear as quickly as I could in transition and sprinted out to start the 2 mile run.

As soon as I started the run, however, I realized that this measly 2 miles was going to be anything but easy for me. It was hot. It was humid. And it made my legs feel dead. I was breathing heavy and just couldn't build up a very good pace. I had hoped to be no slower than 8 minute pace on the run, but I was struggling to run faster than 9 minute pace. I just kept telling myself that I'd be done soon and to just hang in there and do my best.

Thankfully that 2 mile run went by quickly and I was soon heading onto the track at the middle school for the finish. I could hear my family cheering me on and I saw Joe and DeDe (my neighbor) by the finish. I tried to pick up my pace, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't moving any faster. As soon as I crossed that finish line, I just about threw up, and then decided laying down was the best remedy. But despite how horrible I felt, I was the happiest I've been in a very long time.


Although I definitely raced this triathlon and I wanted to be a true competitor, I still didn't think I could've won my age group. Masters women are a tough bunch to beat, and although I think I had done well, would it be enough?


However, I do have to note that 2 out of the 3 women in the top results were in my age group. Because of that, they were awarded overall medals, while I was able to claim the top spot in my age group. There's something to be said about Masters women - all three top spots were claimed by women over 40! It's pretty awesome!

And my teammate Joe claimed the top spot in his age group as well - not too shabby for a guy who broke his hip in March. Neighbor DeDe won her age group, too. Great day for my friends!

The final stats from my first triathlon - 119 women, 71 men, 190 overall finishers
Swim - 200 meters - 4:43 (2:21/100m)
T1 - 2:01 (fastest woman and 5th fastest overall)
Bike - 8 miles - 24:40 (19.4mph)
T2 - 24sec (SAY WHAT??)
Run - 2 miles - 17:09 (8:34/mi)
Total - 49:00 - 1/23 AG, 7/119 women, 17/190 overall

Yeah....this makes me happy.

Now, if I can maintain those paces for the Georgetown race next month (about twice the distance), I'll be REALLY happy! I don't expect to, but I'll do my best and try my hardest!