Thursday, August 18, 2016

Video! Quarter-Million-Plus Views! Crazy!!!

-- First blog entry - 2012
-- First 5K - 2012
-- First Inside Triathlon - 2013
-- First Outdoor Triathlon - 2013
-- World Tri Championship (and Team USA) Qualification - 2015
-- Face of God - 2015  

Video!  Quarter Million Plus Views!  Crazy!!!

As we were driving home from the USA National Championship in Omaha, I checked emails on my phone and saw one from the reporter who interviewed me prior to the race (see blog entry).  The subject link simply said "Wow!"

He said:

"National outlets are starting to pickup on your story ... here's a video they made:"

When I opened the link, I was blown away.  An online TV station called VUZ took took the KETV story and made a 39-second video out of it - with music in the background, and my words  printed as I talked.  They posted it on Facebook.  Wild!  TOTALLY dumbfounded. 

Several people posted comments and I was thrilled that some said they were inspired to start their own journey.  That just made my day.  Happy, happy!

Then, I noted that there had been 128,000 views!  WHAT?!!!  Could that be right?

I started hitting refresh every 5 minutes or so, and each time I did there were 100's of additional views.  As my husband and I drove along I-80, we kept saying to each other, "This is crazy!" as we watched the number of views climb.  When we went to bed, there were 183,000 views.

Yesterday, the number of views continued to grow to our utter amazement and passed 250,000 - more than a quarter of a million views.  Unreal.

As of this moment, there are 287,210 views and 608 shares.  Crazy!

I have always hoped that my journey would help at least one person begin a journey of their own.  Hopefully, at least one of those 250,000 people will start a journey.  That would be SO cool! 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

KETV - TV Interview!

KETV - TV Interview!!!

Last weekend, I was on my way to the open-water swim practice at the USA Triathlon National Championship in Omaha when my cell phone rang.  The gentleman identified himself as a reporter for a local TV station (KETV), said he would like to interview me, and asked if I were in Omaha.  When I said yes, he was so excited.  :-)

With my swim workout and planned rest, I didn't think I should add anything to my schedule, but he said he'd come to me.  As it ended up, he was already at the lake where I was headed so it all worked out well.

Not knowing that I was going to be filmed when I left the hotel, I had no make-up, my hair was back in a pony tail, and I was wearing skin-tight running capris.  Oh well . . .

I've never been interviewed on film.  It was surreal.  As I approached Davonte, I noticed another gentleman operating a BIG camera.  As soon as he saw me, he started filming.  Crazy.  The reporter was Davonte Mckennith.  Super nice, genuine guy with a smile that could light up New York City.  He put me immediately at ease.  

After a few hellos, Davonte started asking me questions.  All the time I talked, the camera was about 8 inches from my face.  Crazy.  At one point as I was talking, I could see the camera panning over my entire body - toes to head.  What a hoot!  I could also see people slowing as they walked to see who was being interviewed.  I felt like an Olympian.  Ha!

It's hard to put a four-year journey that has physical, mental and spiritual components into a five minute interview.  Davonte did a nice job with his questions to help me stay focused.  As we were driving to the lake, I sent him a "before" photo of me with my phone.  He asked me what I saw when I looked at that picture.  That was an interesting question.  I think an incorrect perception of obese people is that they are unhappy about something, so they eat.  When I look at my "before" picture, I do not see an unhappy person.  I just see someone who didn't have proper boundaries with food.  I also see a person who couldn't do a lot of things - like walk, fit in restaurant booths, tie my shoes, etc - and that's what I talked about.

After the interview concluded, Davonte and the camera guy (also extremely nice) chatted with my husband and me for a bit.  I was in kind of a silly mood and for some reason, I flexed my muscles.  Immediately, Davonte said, "Do that again!" and they filmed me flexing!  I never, ever thought I'd be flexing my muscles on TV at age 62!  What a hoot!

At the end, they wanted to get some film of me swimming.  In recent years, I wouldn't let anyone get near me in a bathing suit with any kind of camera.  I was in my tri suit, but still - that's a lot like a bathing suit.  I quickly conjured up the words I've used throughout this journey, "Pride, go away!" and took off the clothes that were over my try suit.

The next challenge was jumping off the dock into the lake in a manner that looked somewhat graceful.  LOL.  I usually just plop in - but I was afraid that would  make a huge splash.  In my silly mood, what I really wanted to do was a cannonball!  I ended up jumping away from the dock and forgot to put on my goggles.  I tried to swim with good form.  Ha!  With the camera rolling, I think I did the first 100 meters of my swim workout WAY too fast!

Later, Brian and I watched the interview in our hotel room.  Crazy to see myself on TV!


To be continued . . .

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Lost in the Finish Chute!!! USAT Regional Championship

My coach said USAT Mideast Regional in Muncie, Indiana was my best race yet.  I won my age group, but I've been looking more at where I place overall lately.  Overall for the females, I was 1st on bike, 3rd in swim, and in the middle of the pack for the run (big improvement).  I did a new PR on the bike for a tri in both speed (21.0 on my Garmin) and watts (179).  So it was a good day.

Lost in the finish chute!
My race plan for this triathlon called for me to push myself harder in the run than I ever have in the past.  My heart rate was in high z4 for the entire 5k.  The run was total rolling hills with a 6% climb at the end.  For the last half mile, I was in z5.  I was just exhausted. 

The finish chute was long and ran through a park.  It was outlined by yellow tape on both sides.  At one of the corners, there was an opening in the tape and I ran through that opening without knowing it.  I was following the yellow tape on my right, not realizing it should be on my left and that I was no longer between the two yellow tapes.

Somehow, I did not see the big finish arch to my right and I ran right past it.  All of a sudden, I was running in the middle of a playground with nothing around me that even remotely looked like anything to do with a race.  It was like twilight zone!  

I knew there should be a finish line somewhere but I couldn't find it.  There were also no spectators.  I was totally disoriented.  I was utterly exhausted and had been willing my body to please just make it to the finish line.  I was SO ready to collapse over that line, but I couldn't find it!  It was a total nightmare.  

In the video that Brian took, you can hear people yelling at me but I was oblivious to it all.  You can also hear me crying out as I was running.  I sound pitiful (embarrassing).  I have never hurt so bad.  I was so ready for the race to be over.  But I had no idea where I was.  Nightmare.
Finally, I heard a man scream, "YOU'RE OFF COURSE."  I turned around and looked back to my right and saw the arch and then started running toward it.  Then everyone started yelling, "No! No! No!" and I was confused again and was just running without knowing what direction I should be running in.  I was ready to collapse but my legs knew I needed to get to that finish line first.

A man grabbed my arm to guide me, but I was afraid that would be considered assistance and so I said, "You can't touch me!" and shrugged him off.  Then he said, "Follow me," turned around, and started running back the way I had just come from!  I had no idea where he was going.  I was afraid that they might say he was pacing me but I had no choice but to follow him because I had no idea what was happening.
Finally, after running back up the route for quite a while, he pulled up the yellow ribbon and I ducked under and saw the timing mat.  I ran down the finish chute with everything I had.  I literally started collapsing on the last few steps but I made it over and two nice men caught me by the armpits.  The medical van was still at the swim so there was no medical support.  I was totally out of it.  I do remember the men arguing about whether or not they should make me sit down.  They finally decided they should walk me and did so for a long time.  I recovered, of course.

So close to podiuming!
According to the video that Brian took and my Garmin, it took me 40 seconds to get back on course.  I missed OVERALL third female by 23 seconds.  I can't begin to tell you how bad that feels.  This was not a large race but with it being USAT Regionals, there were some very good athletes there.  I'm really proud that I had the speed to be third overall woman - even if I didn't podium.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

First TT Bike Race! - Indiana State Games - Qualified for the 2017 National Senior Games!

Indiana State Games (aka Indiana Senior Games)
University of Southern Indiana
Evansville, Indiana
May 22, 2016
First TT Bike Race!

Today was just plain fun!
It is 7 hours post-race and I am still as high as a kite!


I knew nothing about the Indiana Senior Games until last year when I met a member of the Senior Games staff (Holly Schneider) at the Carmel Sprint Triathlon which doubles as the triathlon for the Senior Games.  If I understand this right, they have Indiana Senior Games in the even years.  During the Indiana games, you qualify for the National Senior Games which are held in the odd years.  People from six states entered the Indiana Senior Games cycling events trying to qualify for the 2017 Nationals which will be held in Birmingham, Alabama.

You must be at least 50 years old to enter the events including things like corn hole, shuffleboard, but also swimming, cycling and running.  My Carmel triathlon qualified me for the sprint triathlon at the National Senior Games in 2017.  

Holly suggested that I also enter one or more of the cycling events that were being held during the week-long senior games in Evansville, Indiana in June.  That sounded like fun and my coach agreed that I could do the 10k Time Trial (TT) bike race.  He wanted me to go all out and planned to use the race to see where my watts were when I did have a swim first and and wasn't hold back for the run.


I was so nervous before the race, probably just because I had never seen a TT race and didn't really know what it would be like.  I think I was most nervous about the start.  I would start all by myself with a man holding my motionless bike upright with my feet clipped in.  I was terrified that he wouldn't be able to hold me up and I'd come crashing down and break a hip!   I keep forgetting that I only weigh 135 now and am much easier to hold up than when I weighted 335.  Ha!

I was also terribly nervous that I wouldn't be able to hit the watts that my coach told me I should be able to hit.  

Pre-Race Warm-Up

Before my warm-up, I watched the first 15 or so people in the 5k TT race start.  That was really helpful.  After the last one left, I talked the “holder-guy” into letting me practice with him one time prior to the start.  He was really nice, showed me how he was going to hold the wheel and the seat post, and then let me practice.  The bike felt totally solid under me.  He didn't let it wobble at all.  That calmed my nerves a LOT.  I was surprised that I stood up as I took off.  I had not planned to do that, but it just happened.  I think I stood when practicing starting a few times with my coach, but I wasn't sure.

While I was watching the 5k race, I met a Level 1 Cycling Coach.  We chatted at bit and after telling him that I had a wonderful coach with whom I was happy, I explained that my FTP was 177 and that I had been trying to do 190 in races but always ended up being 165–175-ish.  I asked if he thought I was being a little wimpy and to my surprise, he said yes!  Ha!  He also said that if my FTP was 177, then 190 was very reasonable for me in a 10k TT.  Now I had two coaches telling me I could hit 190.  Pressure!

Warm Up                                                                    

I did the warm-up my coach prescribed.  In the 15 minutes of z1/2 at the beginning, I really focused on getting to 92 rpms in a really easy gear and told myself to remember what 92 rpm’s felt like.  In the intervals, I was surprised at how fast I was and that kind of pumped me up.  I felt like I was toasting my legs a bit.  At one point, my left groin muscle was hurting.  I jumped off my bike and stretched in the middle of the warm-up.


I was the fourth rider to start.  Number 2 was a no-show, but they didn’t move people up.  So, #1 started, then two minutes later #3 started, and a minute after that, I started. 

I was SOOOOO nervous!  My HR was 112 before I even got on the bike (normally 70 while standing).  

On the other hand, it was SOOOOO cool!  The holder-guy remembered me and held me really steady.  The Level 1 Cycling Coach was there too.  He told me not to get on the bike until the 30 second warning. When I got on the bike, it was the coolest feeling.  This will sound silly, but I felt like I was an astronaut on a rocket about to launch with the crew all standing around.  The holder-guy had me a little crooked.  I remembered what my coach said to do if that happened, and I asked the holder to move me a little to the left.  He moved me too far to the left and I quickly said in a panic, “Not that far!” as I imagined myself tipping over at the start.  Everyone started laughing - including me.  And then the starter said “10 seconds,” and it was like the entire world stopped.  I looked down, took some deep breathes.  I was suddenly extremely calm.  And then the starter said, "5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 – GO!"  Several people started cheering.  I could hear them all yelling, "Go!  Go!  Go!"  It was SO cool.


I started working through the gears as instructed by my coach.  Everything was going well and I was feeling pleased with myself.  Then I could hear the Cycling Coach yelling in a loud, booming voice, “AREO!!  GET AREO!!!”  Oops!

First Leg

The first leg was about a mile long and had a 6 mph tail wind.  Cycling Coach told me where to expect the winds – which was nice to know ahead of time.  I knew I had the tailwind and wanted to make the best of it.  I was so pumped at the start that two minutes into race, my HR was 144 and my watts were over 200.  I wasn’t sure what to do.  I was afraid that I was toasting my legs, so I tried to pull back a little to get to 190.  I figured if my heart could beat at 155 in the run, it could do 155 in a TT bike race so I didn’t worry about my HR. 

Second Leg

The second leg was also about a mile long with some fun little S-curves which I made into as much of a straight as I could get.  It was also the only little downhill.  I wanted to make the most out of that downhill and really pushed it.  My watts for that mile were 202.  At the end of that leg there was a little climb – not big but enough to down shift.  For the first two legs, I was averaging 24-25 mph.  That was cool.

The turn from leg two to leg three was a little tricky.  The road on the third leg was about four feet higher than the second leg and you had to turn and go up a short and relatively steep incline at the same time.  The day prior to the race, I walked that turn and noted that it was also gravelly.  I had planned to be very conservative on that turn, but of course, I ended up being very aggressive.  :-)  Caution and bike racing don't go together for me.  I hope that doesn't get me in trouble some day.  ;-)

Third Leg

The third leg was about two miles long.  It wasn't really hills, but it was enough up and down that I needed to change gears often.  I was also starting to wonder if I could maintain the watts I was holding for the entire ride.  For that leg, we were in the 6 mph headwind – and I could see my average speed drop.  I knew that the first place woman last year was over 21 mph and I hated seeing my average drop below 21. But then, it occurred to me that this was just like doing intervals in training when I work through pain to maintain whatever watts my coach assigns.  So I told myself to gut it out.

One part of the road went into a woods and I was glad that I had driven the course the day before the race.  I was totally blind going from the sunshine into the shadows but I already knew where the big potholes were in the middle so I stayed to the side.

I was really breathing heavily – I wasn’t out of control, but close.  My throat started really hurting and I was glad to have a little water for sipping.  A kind gentleman who I met prior to the race had advised me to not carry water (extra weight) since the race was so short.  I'm so glad I had water.  On several occasions, I took in about a teaspoon of water.  Just enough to make my throat not hurt.

Fourth Leg

The fourth leg was a mile long.  I knew I had enough gas in the tank to just hammer it home.  While my cadence went down on all the other corners, it did not go on the corner into the fourth leg.  I pedaled all the way through.  I had been catching the rider who started third and it looked like I would catch her soon.  As I got closer to her, it appeared that we were going to reach the corner at the same time.  I decided to hammer it and yell "left" at the top of my lungs.   I hoped that she would back off a little and I could pass her before the corner.  I did 225 watts and screamed "LEFT!!!  LEFT!!!!"  She did not back off.  There was nothing I could do but put on the brakes and fall in behind her.  But then, she swung really wide at the corner - into the oncoming traffic.  I thought it would be dangerous to pass her on the right, so I started yelling "LEFT!!!  LEFT!!!" again and swung even further to the left (and into oncoming traffic)  so I could get around her.  Finally, she pulled to the right and I passed!  She was kind enough to shout, "Good job!" as I passed.  People can be so nice!

As I passed, I wondered if she maybe thought I was a crazy person.  I was so winded!  I was still in control of my breathing but oh-so-close to being out-of-control.  The volume of my gasps for air seemed like a million decibels to my ears.  She must have thought I was a crazed woman.  Maybe I was, a little.  There's just something about racing with a bike under me!  :-)

Fifth Leg

The fifth and final leg was one mile long.  I just gave it everything I had.  The 6 mph wind was at my back and I was averaged 203 watts for that segment.  Somewhere in the middle, I wondered, “Did I misjudge this distance?  Am I going to make it to the finish line before collapsing?”  I told myself that I was one little mile from the finish line.  I noted that my average mph had climbed back above 21 mph and I was determined to keep it there.  I remember switching to the next highest gear, one that I don't normally use, and just doing everything I could do to hammer it.  I also noted that I was drooling!  LOL!  I just made my legs work.  As I approached the finish line, I was going 27 mph on a road that was virtually flat.  Before I started, a nice man from Kentucky (not the coach) told me to yell my number at the finish line so I did.


After the finish line, I had 172 feet (I measured it the day before the race) to get stopped before going into an intersection where there were no volunteers stopping traffic.  I think I was brain dead for the first 100 feet.   Seriously, I could not think or move.  Luckily, there were no cars coming so the intersection was not a problem.

After the finish, I circled back around to the finish line and hung around for a while.  I overheard some people talking about how fast the second woman who crossed the finish line second was going.  One said, “She was flying!"  Ha!


PLACE:                    First overall woman
                                 2017 National Senior Games qualifier

FINISH TIME:          16:16

Award Ceremony

After all the cycling races, we all went back to Southern Indiana University for the awards ceremony.  It was a lot of fun.  I think some people do the senior games every year.  Many of them seemed to know each other.  There was lots of clapping, congratulations and laughing.  

When I went up to get my medal, the presenter shared that I had lost 200 pounds and had qualified for the Sprint Triathlon World Championship in Cozumel.  People started clapping and saying really nice things.  One man got up out of his chair to come over and give me a high five.  Everyone was so kind.  Just a nice, nice, nice group of people.

After the awards, several people came up to tell me about relatives who were extremely overweight and asked how I started, what I did, etc.  That gave me an opportunity to share that 1) you can lose of lot of weight without surgery and drugs, 2) you don't have to be skinny to exercise, and 3) you can transform your life at any age.  Those were important concepts for me to understanding before I started my journey.  I gave them my blog address and hoped that my story might help their friends and relatives know that losing a lot of weight is possible without surgery and drugs.

Also, a pastor came up to chat with me.  That was an AMAZING conversation.  I told him that my weight-loss  journey had also been a spiritual  journey.  He came right back with, "How so?"  I'm still trying to figure out how to talk about this so his question kind of shook me.  I told him that at some point, I felt my weight loss was being done to me rather than by me.  I felt like God was courting me and that I was being called, but I didn't really know what I was being called to do.  He assured me that if I were being called, God would make that clear.  I am so shy about this part of my journey and it was both scary and wonderful to talk about it.  When we left, he said he would pray for me.  Before I knew what was coming out of my mouth, I told him that I would pray for him too.  And I did!


As I think back on the race, there were SO many things that were wonderful at that race.  Here are things for which I am grateful.

1.  Grateful to have my health and to live in a country where we have the freedom to enjoy leisurely activities!

2.  Grateful for all the kind competitors who helped and encouraged me during the race:
  • The man from Lexington, Kentucky who parked next to us and gave me lots of good advice about how to do a TT race.
  • Peter Wimberg, the Level I Cycling Coach who helped me build my confidence at the start.  There are so few Level 1 coaches in the country and even fewer who are Power Based Training certified.  It was wonderful to have his help and to hear him shout "AREO!  GET AREO!" at the start.  I'm not sure why, but that was really, really cool.
  • The pastor from Cleveland (I think) who talked to me at the awards ceremony.
  • The man who jumped out of his seat to give me a high five during the awards ceremony.
  • Everyone who cheered for everyone else!
3. Extremely grateful for all the kind and helpful people who put on the race - both the staff but also the volunteers.
  • Holly Schneider not only told me about the race to begin with, she also answered all of my emails.  I was so touched when she noticed my husband (who has bum knee) walking the mile between the race finish and the parking lot.  She jumped in her car and drove him to the parking lot.
  • Steve Gerbig was fantastic!  I think he just loves cycling and is just helpful at heart.  In the beginning, I was so confused about road races vs time trial races.  I wrote lots of emails with quesions and he was incredibly helpful.  One of my questions was about whether or not I could wear my Bontranger bike jersey since it had advertising for Bontranger on it.  Steve said yes, but explained that 1) we could not wear anything with words that, in the eyes of the official were in bad taste.  Then he explained that he was the official, and he deemed that "Indiana University" was in bad taste.
  • Volunteers:  I am always amazed that people volunteer their time at races.  They are giving up their personal time to help the event organizer and to help me have fun.  Their time is a gift, plain and simple.  I am always so appreciative.  In this case almost all of the volunteers came from the Southwestern Indiana Regional Council on Aging.  They were there to support the 500 senior athletes who came from all over the state to compete and to promote a healthy lifestyle.  How cool is that?  And . . . they were knowledgeable and fun - at registration, at the race start and finish, and at the awards ceremony.  Just a GREAT group.
4.  Grateful for my coach, Brant Bahler, from Dream Big Triathlon Coaching.  I've written about his kindness a
million times.  He says he was born to coach and I sincerely believe that to be true.  He has more kindness for more people than most anyone I've ever met.  He took me from 335 pounds to a nationally competitive sprint triathlete.  He took a transplant survivor and helped him become a multipe half-Ironman completer.  He is coaching a deaf woman on her way to her first Ironman, and he helped a woman who wanted to honor the loss of her child through the completion of a triathlon.  He also coaches elite athletes including Boston Marathon qualifiers and Kona Ironman qualifiers.
5.  Of course, I grateful for my family.  My two sons and daughter-in-law continuously encourage me to be the best me that I can be.  My husband is my rock and the love of my life.  For 37 years, he has treated me like a princess and has supported me in everything I've chosen to do.  I am SO blessed!
    As I write about these people, I am struck once again by how many kind people have been in my life at just right time to help me along in this incredible journey.  People are so kind.  I've come to know these people as the Face of God.  I am truly so very blessed.