Tag Archives: gratitude

Thankful for This Intense Training Day

This past Saturday I had a very intense training day.  OK, it was actually my first triathlon of the 2013 season, the Silicon Valley Long Course.  A couple of weeks ago, three-time Olympian (two-time medalist) & 2013 New Zealand Ironman champion, Bevan Docherty, said something during a talk he gave that resonated with me:  B [aka warm up] races are just intense training days.  (This race is definitely a B race for me.)  I’ve heard this before but for some reason it really sunk in this time.  So for the past couple of weeks I truly thought of this race as “just an intense training day.”  Because of this I wasn’t nearly as nervous as I usually am during the week leading up to race day.  I definitely continued preparing in terms of tapering and packing my gear.  Mentally, spiritually and emotionally I think I spent more attention on the events that took place last week.

The race was hard especially given the intense heat.  And while I felt  pain and exhaustion, at the same time I felt strong and awesome.  There were times when I dedicated the next mile to somebody.  Heck there were even moments when every single step had a name and purpose associated with it.  And there were times when I felt really tired and simply had to focus on form and technique: reach out, push, pull, straighten back, firm up the core, keep shoulders back, bend elbows, light feet, powerful legs, arms at my side, check my breathing, grab water, switch to Cytomax

My results:

  • Swim (1.2 miles): 0:42:30
  • Bike (56 miles): 3:33:25
  • Run (13.1 miles): 2:06:39
  • Total (70.3 miles): 6:30:55

Morgan Hill, the race location, is gorgeous.  Except for the heat, the day was perfect.  The sky was blue.  It was so nice swimming and looking up as I took each breath to see a powerfully bright, huge sun shining in such a clear sky.  I was surrounded by lots of green.  The bike route was nice as well but a bit quiet as this race didn’t have a lot of participants.  Rolling hills, trees and a huge reservoir created a wonderful setting.  I’m finding that whenever I take in my natural surroundings I thank Noah.  I thank him for all of this.  I thank him for helping me with my training and racing.  I thank him for opening my eyes to such beauty.  I thank him for helping me appreciate mother nature more and more and being present with the peace she brings.  I thank him for giving me strength to do this.

We had a good intense training day.  For this I am thankful.

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Support System

Since Noah passed away, I continue to get advice on self-care.  One aspect of self-care is having and actually utilizing a support system.   Most people have support systems.  One isn’t required to be a member of the sad, unfortunate bereaved parents club to have one.  For me, though, since losing my son, I’ve become much more open to this concept and much more appreciative of having one.

I’m so grateful for my friends and family members far and near who are there for me.  I am grateful for their love, compassion and efforts to walk by my side on my journey.

I’m also fortunate to have a few bereaved parent support groups.  MLH and I had one while living on the east coast.  We were sad to leave this group.  We miss its members and think of their children often.  When we moved I searched for a local group and recently found one.  Additionally I have a virtual group that consists of parents who also have lost Heterotaxy children.  I am so grateful for having these groups in my life.  They’re an important part of my support system.

Within my support system I have “a triathlete section.”   Here I have my friends and family members who tolerate my training schedule, inquire about my progress and cheer me on.

Members of my tri clubs are also part of my support system.  The interesting thing about this group is they don’t even know it!  They don’t know that by showing up, focusing on the workout, talking about a race, discussing technique, and doing pretty much anything related to training they’re providing a tremendous amount of support.  Not asking if I have children but asking about PRs, favorite segments, bikes, races and training schedules is the best support I can get at that time.

What does your support system look like?  Are you utilizing it when you need to?  Are you part of somebody else’s support system?

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Raced First Tri of the Season

This past Saturday I competed in my first race of the 2012 season: an Olympic Distance triathlon called Rumpus in Bumpass.  It’s not that big of a deal because it’s my “warm up” race – also known as a “B” race.  (Hawaii 70.3 and National’s are my A races.)  My main goal was to remind myself of everything I need to do before, during and after a race; focus on going through the motions.  I was not looking to PR.  Therefore I wouldn’t go all out.

On our way over MLH asked if I was nervous about this race.  I thought about it and I wasn’t at all.  I felt a little odd about this because I believe at the very least a few butterflies should be in my stomach for every race.  After all there’s always the big element of the unknown such as:   Will I finish? Will I have a flat? Will I cramp?  Did I fuel my body with the right nutrients?  What will be my splits?  Will I PR?  How well will I perform?  Did I forget to pack something?  And so on, and so on.  But I wasn’t worried about any of this.  Obviously the main reason is Rumpus is a warm up for me.

I think there’s another reason though – my confidence and state of mind and heart.  After Noah passed away, I tried to return to triathlons.  During the 2011 season, I wasn’t sure if I would be successful with training for and actually completing them, especially given how fresh my grief was.  With my relatively strong performance at Nation’s which is an olympic distance, I decided I have successfully returned to triathlons.  And with the season, already my training has my weekly mileage well above that of an olympic distance (which usually consists of a 1.5 km swim, 40 km bike and 10 km run).  Barring any major accidents, I knew I would finish Rumpus.

Mentally I was more than ready as well.  Before heading out to Bumpass I visualized this race.  From previous experience I knew exactly when I’d need to fuel and how much I’d need to hydrate.  I knew how I’d keep myself in check so I don’t push too hard – keep the heart rate within a certain low range the entire time.  Also I was very comfortable staying focused on racing MY race and nobody else’s – not the 45-year-old who passes me on his much nicer, more sophisticated Felt bike, not the young 24-year-old woman who leaves me in the dust on the run.

And my heart for this race was ready because I knew Noah was with me, and I found tremendous comfort from this.  I very strongly felt his presence during different times on the course.  I thought of him as I looked up from the 63 degree water during the swim and saw a beautiful blue sky.  I felt a sense of peace as I swam by each buoy.  I kept thinking of him and his time in the hospital as I began cramping on the bike and yearning to stop for the bathroom. (With the race starting at 10 am, much later than usual, I think I over hydrated in the morning.)  I smiled big time as I thought of him during the run.  I felt really strong and genuinely happy again.  Perhaps he was running right next to me!

As I passed one gentlemen in particular, he yelled out, “good job,” and I responded, “just livin’ the dream.”  Yes, I fully admit that’s a cheesy thing to say but it’s true, isn’t it?  I mean life isn’t fair, and tragedies knock us down hard.  I’ve yet to feel like I can fully stand back up after losing Noah.  But I’m very grateful that I can connect with him through my triathlons and honor him by training and racing.  I think I’m beginning to realize, as twisted as it is, how blessed I am to be able to compete in such races and dedicate all of this to Noah.

My times and rankings for Rumpus are very average.  The competitive side of me is actually ok with this except for the swim.  I admit I wanted to see a little improvement in the water given how much I’ve focused on my stroke this year already but I barely shaved off a minute.  Oh well.

I did identify some areas I can improve on in terms of logistics and transitions, and I want to experiment with some of my gear and nutrition between now and Hawaii.  With that, I’ll consider this B race a success.

Thank you, Noah, for racing with me on Saturday.

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Thinking of Noah’s Fellow Angels for 7 Miles

On the weekends MLH and I usually workout first thing in the morning.  Yesterday morning when the alarm on my iPhone went off I grabbed the phone to turn it off.  Then without thinking I immediately  switched applications to check email and BAM!  Even before I got out of bed I encountered a trigger.  I came across a message that presented an in-your-face reminder that my son, my only child, is no longer alive.  What a crappy start to the day.  After getting through the initial reaction of being overcome with sadness and shedding some tears, MLH and I agreed that there’s really nothing else to do but go to the gym as planned.  I was scheduled to run seven miles yesterday, and man, I was so looking forward this.

As we drove to the gym and during my warmup I tried to get to the other side of this trigger by thinking about what I could focus on during my run.  I’ll think of Noah as I always do, and l’ll focus on my heart rate and breathing which is one of the ways I deepen my connection to Noah.  But this morning I also thought about dedicating the bulk of my run to other children who have passed away.  From my bereaved parent support group and learning about other parents who lost their Heterotaxy children, I know of quite a few children who left this world way too soon.

As I began to run I thought of beautiful Ava first.  Ava just might be familiar with my running because at one point during the 22 hours she lived, I went for a run and thought of her.  On that run I felt a great deal of love and hope for her and her family.  Like Noah, she passed away from Heterotaxy-related issues.  I’ve been blessed because about a month and a half after Ava passed away I connected with her mother who has become a wonderful friend.

Then I thought of another Heterotaxy Angel, Chloe.  I thought about how beautiful she is; I’ve had the opportunity to see a few pictures of her.  I’ve gotten to know Chloe’s mommy too.  Like Ava’s mommy, she’s a beautiful soul.  I thought of the love she has for her sweet Chloe.

There are other Heterotaxy children who have also passed away.  Although I don’t personally know about each of them, I did think about how there’s quite a few children who are now with Noah, Ava & Chloe.  I thought about how much their parents and families miss them.

Then I thought about the children of my bereaved parent support group.  They’re all significantly older than Noah.  I thought about each one by name, the lives they lived and how much love their parents have for them.  I feel this love every time MLH and I meet with our group.

I gently moved on to Ben Breedlove.  I thought about him meeting Noah in heaven.  I thought about how he was so kind to share his experiences of cheating death before he finally passed away.  I also thanked him again for the comfort he provided me.  I thought about his family and friends and how they too are trying to heal now.

And I can’t forget about those children in Norway.  Last July as the world learned of this horrendous act I cried for them and their parents.  I thought of them around mile 5.  Then I thought of all of the young military soldiers who died; and I thought of their parents, spouses and children.  Since Noah’s death I think of war very differently.  Before last year, I thought of war in more of an intellectual way.  Now I actually feel pain and love for the lives lost and the families they left behind.

As I continued my run I spent some time thinking about just Noah.  I prayed he’ll meet all of the angels who joined him over the past year.

Then my mind shifted to gratitude.  (A few friends last December helped me create intentions.  Gratitude was the first one I focused on.  I returned to it on this run.)  I thought about how grateful I am for Noah & MLH.  I’m grateful for those around me who provide comfort and support.  I’m also grateful that I’ve been able to meet other bereaved parents.

My last mile was pretty challenging.  Seven miles is the longest distance I’ve run in a while.  Like I’ve done in the past when I start to feel tired, some pain or even complacency, I thought about Noah and how much he went through while he was alive; how much his tiny, fragile body dealt with; all of the poking, prodding, discomfort and medications he had to put up with; and all of those cardiac arrests.  Once again I reminded myself that my discomfort is absolutely nothing compared to what Noah went through and he didn’t have a choice.  I chose to go on this run.  With Noah’s help once again, I ran my seven miles successfully.  Because of Noah, I felt strong right to the end.

I did come back to the trigger every now and then while I ran.  And I wasn’t completely over it after my run but at least for most of the seven miles, my mind and heart focused on something else.  Thank you, Noah, Ava, Chloe, the rest of the children who are with Noah and all of their parents for helping me on my run.

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