Tag Archives: Chrissie Wellington

A Bug, A Silver Lining and a Smile – What a Week!

When I woke up a week ago Sunday morning, I already felt a little off.  I figured it was from the previous night’s dinner when I succumbed to my pizza craving and dined at my local favorite pizza joint.  I should have known my workout wasn’t going to be a good one when I realized I forgot my Clif Shots as I was on my way to the running trail.  Luckily there’s a sporting goods store nearby so I ran over and picked up a couple of GU shots.  And then I was off and running…well I was sort of off and running.  I still wasn’t feeling great and by mile two I realized my upset stomach was determined to take over.  But my body should know by now that I only push myself harder when I begin to struggle.  And as rough and ugly as it was I managed to complete my entire run.  I kept telling myself just get through this and then I’ll decide if I can complete my assigned ride as well.  Well after the run my stomach felt even worse.  After taking a short break I felt somewhat better, so I told myself to just get on the bike and go for as long as I can.  It’s an easy ride; just shake out the legs.  Once on the bike I focused on keeping the legs moving.  I managed to complete my entire workout, albeit slowly and sloppily.  However afterwards I found myself with nausea on the couch where I pretty much stayed for the next two days.   By mid-day Monday, I realized that while I didn’t eat very well that Saturday night, I was dealing with something a little bit more serious; I picked up a bug from somewhere.

So, looking back, I admit I was guilty with doing exactly what Ilene and I discussed – ignoring my body’s signs.  I should have stopped at mile two.  I definitely should not have continued with the cycling session.  Shame on me!  However once I landed on my couch that Sunday I did start to listen to my body.  I guess I cheated a bit because Monday was an official recovery day so taking that day off was a no brainer.  But as upsetting as it was I did take all of Tuesday off as well.

Being sick stinks.  I really tried to maintain a positive attitude during this time.  I tried to not worry about how this will impact my training and ultimate race goals. I tried to distract myself by reading and watching videos on TED, PBS and Netflix.  But lying down for two days allows the mind to wander.  I found myself riding a very intense emotional roller coaster.  I missed Noah a lot.  I felt guilty, sad and at times even sorry for myself.  If I can’t train and be ready for my races then I’m a failure, right?  I was disappointed in myself for not training.  Noah dealt with major GI issues and much more pain and significantly more serious challenges than this and yet I can’t handle a little bug?  On the flip side I found myself thankful that it’s just a bug and nothing else.  Thank goodness I didn’t pass out on the trail or during my ride.  And I’m glad I experienced this earlier in my training and not right before a race.  I even managed to find a silver lining:  I ran eight miles and biked 15 while my stomach was wreaking havoc!   I’ve heard of athletes encountering major GI issues on race day.  Sometimes these issues force the athlete to slow down or even worse end up in the ER.  I now know what it feels like to endure such a problem.  I’d like to think I learned from this experience and I’ll handle it differently next time.

I felt a lot better by Wednesday.  Trying to find a balance between pushing myself and respecting my body, I opted to go on a very short, slow run (instead of my assigned swimming and speed work).  I felt even better on Thursday, so I completed my assigned workout.  I did maintain some discipline by holding back a bit though.  And by Friday I felt like I could resume my training in full force.

Being able to fully train again is wonderful!  During both of my long workouts this past Saturday and Sunday I felt reinvigorated.  During Saturday’s hilly 35 mile ride and two-mile run, I actually felt genuinely happy!  Chrissie Wellington is known for her big smiles during her races.  Well, I felt like her when I ran.  I was in a zone and found myself smiling to the very end.  Then on Sunday as I ran outside in 44 degree weather for nine miles I found myself in that same zone.

What a week!

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Words of Wisdom from Two Amazing Triathletes

Chrissie Wellington, four-time Ironman World Champion, just published an article for CNN: “Train your brain, then your body.”  It’s wonderful that this highly accomplished athlete is sharing some fantastic advice on mentally training for a race.

As I read this article, for some reason I was reminded of the book, “The Grace to Race: The Wisdom and Inspiration of the 80-Year-Old World Champion Triathlete known as the Iron Nun,” by Sister Madonna Buder.  A good friend sent it to me a few months after Noah passed away.  Sister Madonna is another amazing athlete.  At the age of 75 she became the oldest woman to compete in the Ironman World Championship.  Below is one of the many inspiring passages in the book.  (I hope it’s ok that I’m copying this excerpt here.)  In this chapter Sister Madonna writes about the deal she made with God and how four angels helped her during the 2006 Ironman Championship.

“Aside from the usual competitiveness involved in this famed annual event on the Big Island of Hawaii, I had my own special reason for wanting to finish. My nephew Dolph had died the previous month, quite unexpectedly. (It wasn’t until six months later that the coroner’s report said the cause was heart disease.) So I had been asking God for some kind of confirmation that he had died at peace and was in the right place. I made a kind of deal with God: If I could finish this race, I would know my nephew was at peace. That thought was in the back of my mind as I struggled through the ocean swim, and it was on my mind now, as I did my best to keep pedaling through the torrents of rain.”

“I got back on my feet and struggled onwards in the darkness, toward the turnaround. With about six miles to go, I was out there alone when these four angels appeared from the opposite side of the road, running in the dark. One had no shoes. One had only thongs. A husband-and-wife team were the only two with running shoes. Imagine my surprise when one of them asked, ‘May we accompany you in?’”

“[The wife said] ‘Do you see that stop sign ahead? Do you think you can start running when you get there and then stop at the next signal to walk again?’ They kept pushing me in this manner.”

“…I begged my angels, ‘Can’t I just walk until we get to Palani Hill, and then I’ll start running down it a mile and a half from the finish? Since we’ll be back in civilization it won’t matter if I collapse.’ They were firm. ‘No, you have to do a bit more running before you get there.’”

“When we got to the top of the final hill, I started extending my legs for a downhill run. They yelled a last admonition, ‘Oh, good, don’t stop! Keep going, even when you get to the bottom of the hill!’”

“How did they know I always stopped at the bottom to walk the next five miserable blocks on the flat until I hit Alii Drive and then gave it my all to the finishing chute? Even without a wristwatch, I sensed this was going to be a fight against time. It was then I realized this was the opportunity I had been looking for. If I could cross the finish line in time, I would know that my nephew was at peace and in the right place.”

“As soon as I made that bargain with God, I had the strangest feeling as if I were dangling between two realities, losing touch with my body and being conscious only of my momentum. I sensed a presence in the dark over my right shoulder, intimating that what I was doing was unreal. It was like make-believe.”

“Usually the Hawaiian Ironman marathon finishes under an arch, but now I saw that they had built a plank that required you to run uphill. How sadistic could it get? But I gave it my all in a last surge. ‘Oh God, please keep this body moving!’ When I topped the finish, the crowd was wild, as well as the announcer.”

“I was the last official finisher, the oldest woman on the course, and I had beat the cut-off time of 17 hours by a mere 57 seconds. ‘Thank you, Lord,” I breathed. ‘Now I know my nephew is in the right place.'”

Needless to say I highly recommend reading this book.  I think it’s got something for everyone.

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