Tag Archives: Ironman

Ironman vs. The Bulge (spoiler alert: Ironman wins)

How Ironman got me to move beyond some of my body image issues and start to see the bigger picture…

I don’t know how we got on the topic of body image but toward the end of a typical Monday night dinner at home, Brett and I started getting into a fairly emotional conversation about positive versus negative body image and having a healthy approach to fitness versus an unhealthy, shame-driven approach. I can’t blame him at all for not seeing my perspective from the beginning — I had not fully explained myself, nor had I provided any hard wired examples. Add to that the fact that Brett is a man who deals with completely different issues pertaining to physical appearance.

I had initially given him the example of a student in my class who expressed to me she hates the way her thighs look in downward dog – a story that was all too familiar both from my own experience and from those who have shared similar sentiments with me! I told Brett how it broke my heart to hear that because ultimately my goal as a yoga teacher is to help people see their bodies in a more positive light. I felt like I was not doing my job.

It wasn’t until he asked me in earnest “what’s wrong with not liking your thighs and doing something to change them?” I knew full well what he meant, and that he meant well. But I could no longer keep my cool, nor could I contain myself.

And out it came…

I launched into a small section of my own story, a fairly recent incident that occurred during the last months of training for Ironman Lake Placid. On several occasions while preparing to head out for long runs I would stop and stare at myself in the mirror, I would lift up my shirt to uncover “the bulge” and force myself to see this imperfection and then take myself into a downward spiral of self-hatred. No longer did I feel motivated to run. What was the point if I looked like this? All I could focus on was the bulge that my run shorts created around my hips and that I had no way of covering this up, and how on earth will I cover this up on race day when I will be wearing tiny tri shorts and a tiny tri singlet that barely covers my belly button?

As I was telling Brett this story my chin started to quiver and my eyes welled up with tears. Not only was I providing a concrete example of negative body image and body dismorphia, but I was reliving the experience and all the emotions that came with it.

Brett was at the same time shocked that I could see myself in this way but, more importantly, appreciative that I could share this with him as it gave him a deeper understanding of who I am. And I in turn didn’t feel like I was harboring a deep dark secret.

Eventually I was able to move beyond the thought process and  my attention shifted away from obsessing over what was wrong with me. I was able to throw on my run clothes and just get out there because I had a much larger goal, something far more important to focus on; that goal was Ironman.

It surprises me that I am able to unveil this story as I rarely talk about my own issues with body image, much less such isolated, specific incidents like this one. I normally keep these stories to myself because they make me feel shameful and embarrassed. At the moment I am working on putting all of this together into one big Maggie Story and this is really just a small snippet. But it’s an important one.

This one incident shed light on what Ironman and endurance means to me. In the end, none of it matters. When I crossed the finish line at Ironman Lake Placid I loved my body and my spirit for all that it was capable of. I had forgotten about how I looked in my tri kit – “the bulge” was but a memory by this point. My body morphed into this superwoman creature that carried me 140.6 miles – and that rocked my world.

I guess sometimes you have to transport yourself to another superhuman-like planet to start to see yourself in a new light.

 

 

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Meditation Confession…

In attempting to Walk the Talk a bit more as a health coach and yoga instructor, I signed up for the Oprah & Deepak 21-Day Meditation Challenge.

I have got to be totally honest with you: these things always seemed super corny and contrived to me. Why would I sign up for something like that when I’ve already got all the tools I need? I know damn well how to set myself up for meditation.

Well, I realized that I needed a little help. A little kick in the butt if you will. The 21-Day Challenge has been just the kick I needed. While I have missed 2 days thus far (I make them up by doing 2 a days) I can honestly say that this is a commitment I needed to make. Strange as it may sound, it has been more difficult to build a regular meditation practice than it was to train for Ironman. Maybe it’s because meditation encourages you to be silent, still, and totally unplug from your computer, phone, music, TV for a mere 20 minutes. And sometimes, the bad stuff comes up.

But it is always, ALWAYS worth it. As I said, I’m only about 10 days into this daily meditation thing but I have to say that when I wrap up I feel more focused and ready to take on my day.

If you are interested in building a daily meditation or yoga practice, post your comments below or contact me directly. I am more than happy to help you find an online program and share more information with you on a very exciting project my friend Sophie and I are launching in time for the new year!

Meditation is the only time when bossy-pants Milo will ever calm down enough to sit in my lap which is an added perk.

Meditation is the only time when bossy-pants Milo will ever calm down enough to sit in my lap which is an added perk.

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Ironman Lake Placid Race Re-cap

And so it begins…

3AM on Sunday July 28 my alarm goes off. Ok, to be totally honest, I didn’t sleep at all the night before my Ironman. I tossed and turned, switched beds, meditated, went through a roller-coaster of emotions until that alarm went off and I could jump out of bed and get this momentous day started. I guess on the upside, not falling asleep meant not fighting with waking up at an ungodly hour. I took a shower, put on my Sherpa kit which I would wear for the swim, braided my hair, and started prepping my 1000+ calorie breakfast. I walked outside my room to find 3 gorgeous signs that my hero Clara and her family had made and affixed to my door, offering their final words of confidence.

Team CTF arrived at transition to get body-marked, set up water bottles and nutrition on our bikes, and drop off our special needs bags. I found Brett and walked with him to the swim start where he helped me get into my wetsuit and then we said our final goodbye for the day which was far more emotional than I had anticipated. Suddenly tears welled up in my eyes, and I’m pretty sure I caught a glance of tears in Brett’s eyes too – but we can pretend this didn’t happen :) I then managed to find my sister Grace, a great surprise, and said a final goodbye to her as well. It’s a funny thing these long course races. You say goodbye and you are on your own for the rest of the day, there’s no one there to hold your hand after a certain point.

Coach Bob led the team in a final pep talk. I think we were all in awe that the day had finally arrived and we were standing there about to do this. Bob sent us off to find our places in the swim start. I found myself alone. Well, technically I wasn’t alone because I was one swimmer squished among thousands. But I kept scanning the crowd of wetsuit clad triathletes to find a familiar face. As if by some miracle out of the crowd I saw Reamonn, Laura, and Andrew all heading toward me. I don’t think they know how THRILLED I was to be able to stand with them as we awaited our turn to head into the water.

Final CTF and SSTC Team Pic

Final CTF and SSTC Team Pic

SWIM

I have always compared the swim portion of a triathlon to walking the plank. Once you enter that water, there’s no turning back. Your day has started. But for some odd reason, despite all the bulls (i.e. people who swim into and over you), I felt so calm and at ease during my 2.4 mile swim. Anytime sometime pulled on my ankle or hit me in the rib, I laughed to myself and imagined it was Coach Bob doing this during one of our open water swim practices. Yes I swallowed some water, got pushed off “the line” a few times, and peed in my wetsuit but the swim felt like a breathing meditation – it calmed me down in preparation for what was to come…

Sherpa Kit!

Sherpa Kit!

BIKE

I exited the swim, excitedly ran up to Bob to help strip my wetsuit and then off I ran to the bike transition. I grabbed my transition bag and headed to the changing tent where I was immediately greeted by a volunteer ready to help me get my swim clothes off, bike clothes on, and prepare for the bike. I wish I knew her name because she was so patient and helpful even getting my arm warmers on for me. I started putting items BACK in my transition bag and she insisted I just leave it, that she would take care of it. This was just a sampling of what was to come with the amazing volunteers all along the course that day.

The bike was challenging but felt better than when I rode the course back at training camp in June. When I was out on the course (and not in town) I felt like I was on a long training ride and, the best part was that all my fears about mechanical issues just melted away. I told myself “you are going to do this, even if you get a flat, you are going to be ok, you are going to do this.” As the ride started to hurt at about mile 90, I tried a little experiment of focusing on gratitude. Instead of thinking about how many hills remained to climb or how my right quad felt like it was going to snap, I focused on how grateful I was to finally be experiencing this day that had been years in the making. As I climbed back into town after the final lap, I saw my family cheering me on and I knew I was ready to run.

Thumbs up for cycling

Thumbs up for cycling

RUN

Again with the helpful and ever patient volunteers helping me change in transition 2. I took my sweet time getting changed, figuring out exactly what I needed to bring, and then headed out to start my (first ever) marathon. As I exited transition, immediately people started cheering “Yeah Maggie! Go Maggie!” and I thought to myself “Wow, I guess a lot of these people must know who I am but I am having Ironman brain so I must not recognize them…” And then I realized my bib clearly says my name and it’s kind of a thing with Ironman that you cheer people on — it provides the utmost in support and motivation as you approach the end of a long day.

I am barely half a mile in and I hear Meghan Newcomer, who raced Hawaii 70.3 for Children’s Tumor Foundation and is kind of a triathlon mentor for me as she’s got her pro card but also has a full time job. Oh and she’s also one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Meghan yells out to me “Maggie! You look great! You look so strong!” And I was like “yeah man, I’m really doing this!” Well, I round the corner to the steep downhill (which would later be a steep uphill) and who do I see but CTF family (Sarah and Alissa) and my hero Clara and HER whole family including her two sisters Isabella and Nora. Clara’s mom was beyond excited to see me, in fact I believe she was jumping up and down and screaming my name at the top of her lungs. That provided a good laugh and I got to high-five Clara, giving me the boost I needed as I headed further out into the quiet that is most of the run course.

High-fives all around

High-fives all around

You see, about 10 miles of each loop of the run course is an out and back referred to as River Road. Technically you’re not alone on River Road – you have volunteers and other runners and you make friends and talk to each other – but boy does it get QUIET. The first loop I remember being almost too easy, I had to remind myself to SLOW DOWN. As I made my way back into town and rounded the last corner before IGA hill (the super crazy ridiculously steep and long climb) I felt a rush of energy and powered up that hill. Dude, I don’t think I’ve ever run up a hill with such tenacity in my life. And of course, there was miss Clara and her family cheering me on again! I ran through town and literally felt like a rock star. It’s as if everyone I have made a connection with from when I signed up for my  first triathlon in 2010 until now was out there either running or spectating and everyone was rooting for me. As I was making my way out of town again for my 2nd loop I ran into my teammate Laura who was about to FINISH her 2nd loop, about to become a 3rd time Ironman.

It was pretty emotional knowing everything she has gone through in her life, living with NF, and also in this training season with a bad hip injury. I was so happy to see her just before she crossed the finish, looking strong as can be, and she left me with some serious words of encouragement that helped push me through MY 2nd loop.

Powering up IGA Hill

Powering up IGA Hill

As expected, that 2nd loop was harder than the first. I had the occasional bout of nausea and started feeling an unfamiliar pain in my lower back, but I maintained a steady pace and focused on gratitude. Just before I started to head back into town with the cheering, music, and noise I took some time to reflect on what was happening. I only had a few miles to go and it finally dawned on me that I was going to be an Ironman. All the hard work had worked. All the support from family and friends along the way had worked and had helped me reach this point. I was about to accomplish one of my biggest dreams and I also was doing it with the knowledge that I was making a difference in a family’s life. I thought about the letter Clara’s mother had given me the day before, the letter that really hit home as to how much of an impact I had made on their lives. I had no idea and felt grateful for this gift, this new connection, that they had given to me.

THE FINISH

The finish chute and finish line of Ironman was more than I could have ever imagined. I got choked up even before entering the Olympic Oval. See, what happens is, the run spits you back into town and you can hear Mike Reilly calling people Ironman as they cross the finish, but you still have 2.2 miles left to run out and back. You finally start to approach the Olympic Oval and when you enter it people are lined up against both sides. You make that final turn and then BAM – bright white light, blaring music, people are screaming your name! I spotted my mom and dad, my sister Grace, I spotted Clara, I spotted Brett. They were all bunched together waving and screaming for me. I ran by them then quickly realized there was no need to rush now. I turned around and gave them all (ok almost all of them) hugs and kisses. I knew the day wouldn’t have been the same without all of them there. I then made my way to the bright light, to the finish line. Before crossing I heard my name … I heard … YOU ARE AN IRONMAN. I crossed the finish, gave Dave a high five, and there was my coach Bob who placed my medal around my neck. What a perfect end to a perfect day. We hug, I cry even more. He asks if I am ok and I just say, over and over, yes and that I can’t believe it. I can’t believe I did it.

And that my friends, is the story of my first Ironman. And if you’ve made it this far and read my whole race re-cap, well then you deserve a medal too. Or at the very least an ice cream cone or a quinoa cookie. Don’t you worry, there is still more to come from this journey, the lessons learned and the people that have come into my life. And the biggest secret of all: what’s next?

My Mom kind of caught the finish on video: http://youtu.be/kZtjRNfzjco

Bright Lights Big Finish

Bright Lights Big Finish

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Words of Encouragement

I have received some pretty incredible emails and notes of encouragement from family and friends throughout training. So I decided today that I’m going to start collecting these notes to print out and put in my special needs bag for Ironman Lake Placid when I need that extra push.

I received the following message from a dear family friend last week:

It served as a clear reminder of how much courage we need to live an examined life which is, after all, the only kind of life worth living and yet so few people take the time.

See? Every little bit counts. You guys have no idea how much everything means to me and helps me keep on trucking! Or riding. Or running. And yes, I’m a total cornball and am not afraid to admit that I love this stuff.

Click here to donate to help me raise funds for research for NF.

PS. Do you know what else will be going in my special needs bag? CROISSANTS.

Thank you to Steph Miller for sharing this quote!

Thank you to Steph Miller for sharing this quote!

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So THIS is why I needed to do the Quassy Half!

I went into my Quassy Half race weekend after an outpouring of donations. Oh boy did I ever need (and appreciate!!) all that love and uplifting for quite the challenging course. And this is why I needed to finish the Rev3 Quassy Half…

You'd never know it, but I'm actually terrified.

You’d never know it, but I’m actually terrified.

Ever since I registered for Ironman Lake Placid back in October, anyone who has ever done Ironman strongly advised that I first complete the Rev3 Quassy Half triathlon. Why? Well everybody claimed the course, while half the distance of a full Ironman, was technically harder than IMLP with hills, hills, and MORE HILLS. Admittedly I thought at first that this was just a way to throw down a humble brag. But as race day for the Quassy Half drew closer, I started to wonder: what if everyone is right? 

To make a long story short: everyone was right. To give you an idea just how right everyone was:

The Swim – 1.2 Miles

The swim was all downhill. Get it??!! Triathlete joke, sorry, had to slip it in. But really, for the first time in Maggie’s Triathlon History I LOVED THE SWIM! I came out with a big smile on my face, saw Brett waiting for me when he shouted “Almost less than 40 minutes! Great job Maggie!” Little did he know I would return to that positive encouragement throughout my day when the hills got HARD…

The Bike – 56 Miles

As I made my way out of transition and onto the bike course feeling pretty good about myself. And then it went like this: climbclimbclimbclimbclimb … DESCEND! YAY! RECOVER! Immediately proceeded by climbclimbclimbclimbclimb … DESCEND! YAY! RECOVER! Yeah, it was a lot of that. At mile 50 the amazing Brett found me (he was on his bike) and secretly coached me through the final miles. I kept telling him the bike course was hilarious, that they kept putting in all these long hills!

The Run – 13.1 Miles

Brett said that I looked peppy when I transitioned from the bike to the run. Why is that? Because it meant I had NO MORE HILLS TO CLIMB. Or so I thought … the first few miles of the run were hot and in direct sun but pretty flat, if anything downhill. And then the hills, ohhhhh the hills. They came back AGAIN. This time with a vengeance because I had to run up them and as I approached each hill I saw groups of people just walking. If you’ve ever done a running race or triathlon you know that this does NOT help morale and only makes you think “they are walking, it’s ok for me to walk too!” I really had to fight this (I ended up walking up 1 hill for 1 minute) – and I started singing little mantras to myself like “I love hills! I love hills!” The last 5 miles were a gift, mostly flat and downhill. I passed Coach Bob around mile 9 and he asked how I was feeling, I smiled and yelled “Better now!”

The Finish 

Me and my bling

Me and my bling

What’s to say? It’s always an amazing feeling to see the finish shoot and cross the finish line. Immediately after finishing, I had a few moments alone where I put my head in my hands and had a moment of happy tears and laughter. I was SO damn happy to be done and knew I was that much closer to Ironman Lake Placid on July 28.The race was humbling to say the least. But I had an amazing support crew there. Brett gave up his entire day to drive me up and cheer me on at every single spectator spot. My Mom and Dad made it just in time to see me finish – my Dad’s second time to see my do a 70.3 race and my Mom’s first. And then Coach Bob called me the day before as a surprise that he too would be there! I even met my first official Twitter friend – miss Kara – who is also doing Ironman for the first time this year in Lake Placid. I was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude that I had these people there as well as other members of my new triathlon family. Not only that but throughout the whole race I knew everyone had my back. Every friend or family member that I’ve talked to about this, every blast from the past who has surfaced and made a donation on my fundraising page, and even every spectator or volunteer out on the course. I couldn’t have felt more support and it makes me even more excited to see what Ironman Lake Placid holds.

I am currently $810 away from reaching my fundraising goal of $5,000. I am constantly moved by the support everyone has shown not only for me but for Children’s Tumor Foundation. These kids and their families are beyond appreciative of the help you can provide and every dollar counts. Really it does. I work there. I would know. :) I’ve got about 40 days to reach my goal and of course I’d love to get beyond! To make a donation you can simply click here. There is no amount too large or too small!  Thank you guys for your continuing kindness and especially your patience when I insist on talking about how my training is going.

THANKS COACH!

Thanks Coach!

Brett's colorful outfit kept me going through the day.

Brett’s colorful outfit kept me going through the day.

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8:18, croissants, 90 miles, and 2 months

Or what I learned from my weekend of training:

  • Maintaining an average pace of 8:18 for 3.1 miles of running is possible!
  • 50 miles into a ride, coffee and a chocolate croissant is heaven and will render me speechless
  • I have decided that I would really like to have croissants in my special needs bag for Ironman Lake Placid
  • I am quite chipper after 90 miles on the bike and once I reach 90 miles, I might shed a tear of joy/disbelief/shock and awe
  • Quassy Rev3 70.3 is in 5 days and Ironman Lake Placid is 2 months away and it’s starting to feel real. This weekend’s long ride got me really really excited for the first time — and I couldn’t have done it without everyone’s donations and support! You can support my fundraising campaign for CTF by clicking here.

 

Coffee. Croissant. Can't talk.

Coffee. Croissant. Can’t talk.

Weston Memorial Day 5K - running in the rain!

Weston Memorial Day 5K – running in the rain!

90 MILES!

90 MILES!

 

 

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I’m doing an Ironman, and here’s why…

This note went out to many friends and family, but I wanted to share it here as well…

Here’s My Story … 

I’m doing an Ironman this year and it’s going to be in Lake Placid, NY and it’s on July 28. The distances are a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run. If you’re one of my friends who live in New York, it’s quite likely that I’ve turned down a dinner (or two) because of a late swim or an early run the next morning. And I can only hope that one day you will forgive me for this. But maybe you can relate.

Have you ever wanted something so bad it gave you chills any time you thought about it? Have you ever set a goal or made a promise to yourself that you would accomplish something? An item on your bucket list if you will. Ironman is one of those things to me. In 2010, after a summer of getting my first taste of triathlons, I was a spectator at my first Ironman in Louisville, KY. I remember just watching Ironman was exhausting, I couldn’t possibly imagine how the participants felt. But something about that day and the way people just kept going forward moved me and I made a promise to myself that I would complete Ironman Lake Placid before turning 30 (at the time I was 26 so 30 felt like it was eons away). Well, in case you didn’t know, I’m turning 30 this year and to CELEBRATE I will be doing Ironman Lake Placid.

If you’d prefer to watch a video, click here and you can skip the rest of my story. Otherwise, read on!

Triathlons have taught me a lot about what I’m physically and mentally capable of. I’ve come a long way from the days in middle school where I absolutely dreaded running the mile, to the point where I would fake sick. Not only that but I’ve met some pretty great people along the way and formed friendships that began when we were literally at our worst and sweatiest.

I draw strength to get through workouts and races from the people in my life who have shown me how to accomplish their impossible – these people are YOU – whether it’s having the guts to submit a work of art to a prestigious museum, taking several years to live and work in a foreign country, running Boston Marathon, fighting a terminal illness, or watching and supporting a loved one as they fight an illness – all of these things are meaningful and seemingly impossible but we get through them some how, we dig down deep.

After going through one of those typical “really bad break-ups” last winter, I gave up on triathlons for a while. It was in April 2012 that my friend Sarah asked if I wanted to do NYC Triathlon again with a non-profit called Children’s Tumor Foundation. They raised money for research for Neurofibromatosis, also known as NF – a genetic disease in children that causes the growth of tumors for which there is no cure. I was reminded that there were people out there fighting a tough fight, and these were not not just any people but they were children. If these kids and their parents could deal with all the complications associated with NF, I could certainly pick myself up and get through a triathlon.

So I did just that and to make a really long story a little less long, I knew then that I would be racing Ironman Lake Placid in 2013 with CTF. All of the pieces came together and here I am on the road to my first Ironman. This is one of my IMPOSSIBLES that I can only get through with your support. Just being able to talk to you about my fears, my excitement, my anticipations makes me feel that much closer to getting there. And so for that I thank you. (And for bearing with me when I bow out of social plans so that I can stick to my training schedule.)

And I of course have a huge thank you to my hero, Clara, who you can learn more about on my page and in my video but she’s 4 years old and fights NF like a true champ. Clara also rides her bike, wants to be a teacher, a mermaid, and an eye doctor when she grows up and I can only hope to one day be as strong as she is.

My Road to Ironman Video
My CTF Endurance fundraising page

With many thanks and much love,
Maggie

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What’s your “impossible”?

Is there something that you’ve always really wanted to do but never thought it would be possible?

This may come as no surprise, but here is one of mine that I’m hoping to add to my possible list on July 28!

Ironman Lake Placid transition area

Ironman Lake Placid transition area

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My Road to Ironman

There are many reasons I am doing Ironman Lake Placid this year, this is one of them:


Click here to learn more about my fundraising efforts for Children’s Tumor Foundation.

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What makes for a successful fundraiser?

What makes for a successful fundraiser? My original goal was to raise my first $1,000 and I had my sights set on that.  However, I quickly realized on Friday that there is something else that makes for a successful fundraiser.  I know this is going to sound majorly cheesy but … it’s good people. I found myself surrounded by incredible people on Friday night who made the trek to Williamsburg (or down the street for the local folks) on a cold February night to support me. I’m sure the talented DJs, free PBR, and incredible raffle prizes were also a major draw – ahem, you can’t say no to a signed copy of “Sexy Librarian”!

I have to give some major thank you’s to…

  • Passenger Bar for letting me host the event there
  • DJ AnjO – or Angelica Olstad, creator of PopUp Yoga NYC
  • DJ Pumpkin Patch – or Michael Saltsman
  • PBR for their generous donation for our open bar
  • My friends who were so kind to donate items and services for the raffle
  • Sarah Coulam and Suzanne Canon of CTF’s NF Endurance team, without whom I would not be doing an Ironman nor would I have sold as many raffle tickets

Thank you everyone! I have said this before but … So. Much. Gratitude.

fundraisermagsarah

Thanks Sarah for encouraging the crazy

Winner of Maggie's one on one yoga

Winner of Maggie’s one on one yoga

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