Monday, January 4, 2021

2021 and what I learned from 2020

Welcome to the first Monday of 2021. Normally, this would be the time of year when gyms are busting at the seams with #newyearrevolutionaries and those returning to fitness after a short or long break. Not this time. We are still in a Covid-19 world and fitness centers across the country are either at limited capacity or shut down completely. In 2020, we had to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. Some of us learned new technologies to reach current and new participants.

For me, with races being cancelled, training was not. I rode a lot of miles on the trainer. I ran a lot of miles. I did a lot of dryland strength training (no pools/no open water swimming). 

2020 Totals:

1. 1151.5 miles of running (the run streak continues)

2. 2881.3 miles of cycling 

3. 181,146 yard or 102 miles of swimming

I was interviewed on 3 different Podcasts. I faced my fear of biking outdoors and started to actively bike commute once our facility reopened. I may have been doored (5 times), cussed out by motorists, had bottles thrown at me (twice), flipped over the handlebars of a Divvy Bike (in slow motion) and rode like I was in the Tour de France (more than a handful of times). My bike handling skills greatly improved. My anxiety of riding in traffic eased up. I rode in oppressive heat, unrelenting winds, pouring rain, snow, 19 degrees (not fun), early morning and late at night. I learned that I’m a better biker than I thought. It was years of others telling me that I was not good enough that got in my head. Not anymore, albeit there is still some anxiety, doubt and fear in the back of my head.

So that brings us to 2021.

• I'm a brand ambassador for @TrainingPeaks, @nuunhydration,  @fuerzacoffee, @blueseventy,  @honeystinger,  @coeursports

● I am approaching 250 days of running in a row. I’m continuing with 5 Zoom Pilates Classes until in person classes return. Although I think I will continue to keep 3 classes going.

● I will be presenting at a conference (virtually).Hopefully, this will lead to more opportunities.

● #TeaserTuesday and #WundaChairWednesday posts will continue. Some other things are in the pipeline which will be announced later on.

● Race wise, I only have technically 3 races in 2021: Rev3 Williamsburg Sprint and 70.3 distance in June, ITU World Championships in Aquathlon in September and the Chicago Marathon (it’s really a work day) in October.

So, that is it for now. Here’s to a great start to 2021!

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

200 DAYS...of running

This morning marked a milestone for me. I have made it 200 straight days of running. Some days were just a mile and other days were 13.1. Total runs actually are 236 and counting. When I set out on my #runstreak back on May 1st, I was looking to only go through the #chimarathon.

When that became clear it was not going to happen, nor would any of my races or events, I decided to keep going because as my hashtag has been since the world stopped due to Covid-19, #trainingisnotcancelled.

So why do a #runstreak? It was something to keep myself accountable. It is something that kept my stress and anxiety levels down. It is something that helps me clear my mind and either just zone out or think of ideas/solutions.

Since I have hit the 200 day mark, I have run a total of 924.2 miles. Last year, my #runstreak started a month later (June 1st) and at the end (October 13th), I ended with 525.14 miles. That’s a huge increase but remember, I started a month early and I was doing some (okay, a LOT) of virtual challenges. But, another item I realized is that today also marks my #ironversary, the day I crossed #IMAZ 7 years ago. 

Some people have been wondering will I return to the full Iron distance and the answer is yes. Not in 2021 unless something magically happens, but definitely in 2022.

Now when will my #runstreak end? You just have to find out.

Monday, June 1, 2020 the world turns topsy turvy

Today is June 1st. A new day, a new Monday and a new month. For the past 77 days, I have been SIP (shelter in place and "unemployed"). 2020 has been interesting and stressful to say the least. The year started really well. Training for Rev3 Williamsburg Sprint and Half Iron distance race in June and also my A race which was the ITU World Championships in Almere-Amsterdam for Aquathlon in September. But then Covid-19 reared its ugly head. Rev3 Williamsburg has been postponed to August of this year, although I have decided that I will defer until 2021 due to the lack of swimming since March 15th. And just last week, the ITU World Championships in Almere-Amsterdam has been cancelled and will reconvene in 2021 but I still have my spot. Hey, at least I purchased my TEAM USA uniform!

But let's get to the heart of everything that is happening NOW! As a Black Woman... in America...I'm tired. I am mentally exhausted. I am so happy that I do not have a television but the live feeds from the protests of the death of George Floyd; or let's add the death of Amaud Aubrey while he was running; or  Breonna Taylor who was shot in her home is too much for any one to take. What do I have to worry about? I have to worry about being followed by the police when I am running in my neighborhood. I have to make sure that I am wearing something that is non-threatening (a running skirt and a brightly colored top). I have to make sure that I have my ID on me at all times. Look, I'm just trying to workout for my sanity since gyms are closed and I do not have the space (or the money) for a treadmill.

Everyday is a struggle. I wake up, throw on my running clothes and running shoes to hit the pavement. I run to escape try and soothe my soul. I run for my mental and my physical health. I run because I need to be free. I have learned, while we are SIP that there are some streets here on the Northside of Chicago, where I live, I really have no business running down. Learned that the hard way. I have dealt with my share and will continue to deal with racism throughout my daily encounters. I have dealt with it in racing, in training (I'm a Pilates Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor) and Coaching.

I'm tired, but I keep going because I shouldn't have to cower in the corner.

I'm tired, but training is not cancelled.

I'm tired, but race day will return.

I'm tired, but I have an obligation not only to myself to remain healthy, but to my clients and athletes.

I'm tired, but I hope to one day see a world where I am not judged based on my skin color or my sex.

That is all.


Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 is almost done and 2020 has just gotten very interesting

I know, it's been a while but now I'm back. For real, for real, I'm back! So, what have I been up to?

1. In February, I went to Austin, TX to do the Austin Half Marathon with my good friend Sally.

Yes, that is my medal with a bowl of ice cream. I deserved it.

2. I did Chattanooga 70.3 in May for a second time with the swim being being cut short AGAIN!!!! 

3. At the end of September, I did the Chicago Half Marathon in the pouring rain. I actually did 17 miles of it as opposed to 13.1 as I was on coach duty and also running back and forth running my athletes in.

4. I did the Girls on the Run 5k to help out one of my athletes to be a running buddy to a young girl. Although it was my slowest 5k, it was so much fun except the girl I was paired with face planted towards the end. Don't worry, she got up and finished like a Champ!

5. In the early part of November, I flew down to Miami for the MiamiMan Multisport Festival. I competed in the Aquathlon (1000m swim and 5k run). It was literally a fly in/fly out race. The only goal I had was to get 18th place in my age group which would mean I would qualify for the ITU World Championships in Almere-Amsterdam in 2020. Guess what? I qualified! Yes, I am going to Amsterdam by any means necessary to race. I can't pass up this opportunity.

6. Last, but not least, the Turkey Trot 8k on Thanksgiving morning with my T2 #ganginred

So, as I prepare to swim 100 x 100 yards after I finish training clients (yes, 10,000 YARDS) on this NYE, 2020 is the year of Joy.

I am going to actually put myself first. I normally don't race a lot due to my commitment as a trainer and a coach. Not gonna happen in 2020. If all goes well, this is my race schedule for 2020:

March 28:         Rock n' Roll DC Marathon
April 26:           Challenge Cancun
May 23:            Soldier Field 10 Miler
June 27-28:       Rev3 Sprint and Half Iron
September 10:   ITU World Championships - Aquathlon
September 27:   Chicago Half Marathon
October 11:       Chicago Marathon (I am actually starting and may/may not finish - coach duties)
November 22:   Ironman Cozumel 

Whew! That's a lot but we'll see how it goes! Happy training and Happy New Year!
#afrocoach #milesandsmiles #swimmer #blackmermaid #blackgirlsswim #cyclist #runner #coach #athlete #marathoner #triathlete #multisportathlete #coffeelover 

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Run streak: I made it to 100 days of running today

I'm back! Did you miss me? I'm really back now.

I never set out to do 100 days of running. My original intention was to run 30 days from June 1st to June 30th. I had just came off of training and finishing Chattanooga 70.3 and was looking for a new challenge. Marathon coaching/training was starting soon, so why not start on June 1st, a mere 9 days before the start of training. I have never ran 30 days in a row. PERIODT!!!!!! My rules were simple. If it was on the training plan, then either I did the mileage or time. If it was not on the training plan, then I had to run a minimum of 1 mile. Easy, right? Not necessarily. There were some days that my legs were like "f*** you" and other days where I felt strong. Days where my migraine tried to get the best of me and days where I question my sanity. Days where I found clarity and days where I just needed to run.

June 30th came and went. I logged 71.3 miles.

Hmmm, let's keep going until my birthday. Well, my birthday fell on a Wednesday (#temporunwednesday) and there was a track workout on Thursday.
Well, let's keep going to the end of the month. July gave me 104.8 miles.  Okay, let's just go into August up until day 75.

On  a side note: during the first 7 days of July,  I also did a swim streak. I ended up swimming over 33,000 yards in 7 days.

So, what had happened was? Day 75 came and went.

I was so far into no man's territory, I just started having the thought of:
1. Do I go to day 100 and so be it?
2. Do I go to day 135 (#chimarathon)?
3. Do I go to day 150?

That was going through my head. My August bank account gave me 146 miles. Oh boy! 

September shows up and now it's like I need to grab that carrot! It was the countdown to today. 100 days of running totaling, as of today: 351.7 miles or a Hell of a lot of my family members. 
So now, I'm continuing on until at least the Chicago Marathon (remember, I do not cross the finish line but I run a whole lot). 

But what I have learned in this journey, so far is that I can run every day and be okay. I can run a variety of paces, depending on duration. I prefer to run in the morning but sometimes my schedule dictates when I run. I have been able to inspire friends to try their own streak. So, here's to the next 35 days or more.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do something: IMAZ 2017 Race Report

So, I've been very quiet about this race: leading up to it and afterwards. IMAZ did not go the way I wanted but that's how the journey of Ironman goes. There is not a straight path from Point A to Point B. There are obstacles, detours, etc.  This on the that journey. My training was not your traditional training only because my training happens either before or after training/coaching/teaching or sometimes, training could not happen due to work. I am going to keep this short and sweet. Just remember, do not let anyone tell you that you can't do something.

There were 2 factors that I was worried about going into this race: triggering a migraine and the cold swim. Well, the water temperature was 67-68 degrees and I was in a full wetsuit. I was extremely cold coming out of the swim. Something that I was expecting but didn't actually think would happen-I raced with a motherf&cking migraine. Yes, I just said it. My migraine triggered the day before shortly after the practice swim. This was not going to be a good one because this was the type that caused me to throw up. This means hydration and nutrition is all off, especially in dry, hot conditions.

The swim was a rolling start so you seeded yourself accordingly. I finally jumped in the water, did a few bobs and started to s
wim. I had a nice rhythm going out. The water was okay temperature wise, murky as expected and I experienced a few collisions, but nothing that I couldn't handle. Now, let's talk about the back half. There was a chop and the buoys were not in a straight line and I may have inhaled some diesel flavored water (gross). Around this same time, my calves decided that they were going to take turns cramping/seizing up on me. My motto: just keep swimming. I ignored the pain in my legs, the pain in my head and how cold I was getting. I finally saw the finish and I was so happy. That swim took entirely to damn long. Later, I would realize that I swam 4600 yards vs. 4200 yards.

Wetsuit off, glasses taken out of my sports bra and I am running for the changing tent. Once I got to the change tent, I still could not warm up but I was determined to get the hell out of that tent in under 10 minutes. Mission accomplished. All I had to do was put on my socks, shoes, sunglasses, helmet, sunscreen,  drink some water, stuff a larabar in my face and get my bike.

Once I finally mounted my bike, it was go time. I have worked damn hard this year on the bike. We get on Rio Salado and I here/see Angel, Terri, Chris, Von and Shannon cheering me on. Where did this wind come from? You are not suppose to show up until Bee Line Highway. I just thought of the bike as a long as CompuTrainer session with better scenery. Roughly near the 2nd aid station, I was in trouble. Not my bike because I put Beeker back together like a boss, but my migraine was telling me I needed to throw up. F&CK!!!!!! Pulled over, went into the porta potty, threw up, rinsed my mouth out, continued on. I tried to stay on my nutrition and hydration plan but this was not going to be the case. I threw up 3 more times on the bike. No nutrition, no electroytes, no hydration and my throat felt like sandpaper mixed with me gargling with acid. I was not going to give up because I am hard headed and stubborn (I'm a Leo). On the final loop, I was literally racing on fumes. I probably lost about 5+ pounds at this point but I was doing Ironman math in my head and I started smiling because I knew I would make that cut off.  Made the damn bike cutoff and now it was time to attempt to run.

Once I made it to the changing tent, I took off my tri shorts to change into my running skirt and tutu (yes, I finally brought it out to a triathlon), visor, fresh socks and running shoes. Oh, and don't forget the lipstick. I tried to do a 4:1 run/walk but that went out the door because my calf was saying hell to the Naw! I ended up walking. I tried to take in nutrition but it was not going to happen. Ice was my friend/enemy. It felt good but it was hurting my throat. Doing the math in my head, I knew that I was not going to make the first run cutoff but I was going to fight until the end.  I felt like sh$t and mentally, I was not trying to go into that dark place. That place is very scary and no one should open the door their unless it is absolutely necessary. When I was pulled at mile 13, I was not upset. I was actually at peace with everything. I tried my best and my best was not enough for that day. I should have not raced with a migraine, but I never know what will happen or how everything will work out. I am proud of what I did this year especially with dismantling my bike and putting it back together I think 3 times within a week with everything working, tackling a "hilly" course (Chatt 70.3) and just trying to be a better version of me. You do what you can do and then you move on. I am not going to say what will happen in 2018. I am going to be very quiet about it right now. I have a lot of contemplating to do before then. I am moving better except I am still having difficulty walking down stairs and I have a lovely cough/upper respiratory infection going on (pass the cough drops).

So that is it, but I need to thank the following groups/places/thangs:
  • FFC (my place of employment, my home away from home)
  • The #SharkSquad (because Sharks get shit done)
  • #TriMonster and all of the #IronMonsters
  • #BTA
  • #FastChix
  • Howard Logan
  • L & A
  • Southwest Airlines
And everyone else who helped me on this journey.

Peace, Love and AFROS!

Monday, September 25, 2017

A HOT Ass 13.1: The Chicago Half Marathon

I normally post on my Instagram (@fitness724) the number of things that corresponds to the number of miles that we run. Well, I had to finally dust off my blog for this one. Yesterday was the 21st edition of the Chicago Half Marathon ran by the awesome folks at Lifetime Athletic Events. The main mission was to stay in the back and pace my normal posse of  T2 athletes-keep them on pace, make sure they hydrate, eat, watch their breathing and count shirtless men. More about the last one later. Here is how everything went.

This Half-Marathon was brought to you by:
1. A total of 317 Shirtless men! #109 was hot, chocolate yumminess. Trust me on this. Why count shirtless guys? It keeps you from thinking of how hot and humid it was.
2. Heat and Humidity!
3. The T2 quest for Diet Coke!
4. The rainbow at the misting station before the turnaround.
5. Sunscreen, hydration, nutrition and salt.
We were looking good! Photo credit: John Gress
6. Listen to your footsteps. It should sound like a bunny fart. Huh? Ever heard a bunny fart? EXACTLY!!!!
7. The ladies who wanted to hang out with us because we were so cool.
8. Is that a chicken? Is that a Chic-Fil-A Chicken? Ohhhhh, it's a turkey reminding us of the Turkey Trot. I think we should all sign up. We get to turn around now!
9. Creating the rough draft of the new romance novel, "Manathon". One woman's quest for love while running the Chicago Half Marathon. Coming soon to iTunes, Kindle and the next T2EA fundraiser.
10. Running backwards. No, literally running backwards for the last 1.5 miles to keep Janine focused on the finish line. I may have pushed Janine towards the finish line.

 photo credit: Bernard Lyle
11. My fellow Purplehead, Kevin Oldenstedt.
Image may contain: 1 person, beard, sky, sunglasses, outdoor and closeup
photo credit: Kevin Oldenstedt
12. Having a popsicle at the finish line. ABSOLUTELY NEEDED!!!!
13. This BIG ASS MEDAL! Best bling in Chicago!!!!

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.1: Having the pleasure to see all of my returning and brand new athletes to the Half Marathon distance complete the Chicago Half Marathon in less than ideal conditions with smiles (and beers, not me! I had to go into work). In addition, I did give the shuttle bus drive directions back to the Belmont Red Line Station. 

T-minus 12 days for  the Chicago Marathon.