Tag Archives: grief

It Starts with Starting

It starts with feeling the need or urge to move, change…just do something.  It starts with putting on a pair of running shoes or a swimsuit.

It starts with running for as long as possible which most likely is not that long.  It starts with pushing to run an actual half mile or mile.  It starts with working out for 20 minutes a few days a week.  It starts with setting a goal of exercising consistently.  It starts with signing up for a 5K or finding a workout buddy.  It starts with reading nutrition articles or asking for cycling advice.

It starts with feeling good after a hard workout.  It starts with looking forward to that yoga session or kickboxing class.  It starts with feeling “off” when a workout is missed. It starts with missing the sweating or hard breathing.

It starts with picking a bigger, more challenging goal than before and then immediately breaking it down into smaller, manageable milestones.  It starts with celebrating swimming 10 laps more than a month ago.  It starts with passing another runner or crossing the finish line for the first time.

For me, it started way back in high school as a rower who barely made the team.  It started again when I joined a dragon boat team during the few years I lived in Hong Kong.  It started again about 11 years ago when I trained for  a marathon but couldn’t complete it because my left leg tightened up so much it couldn’t move.  It started again when I decided to try half marathons.  It started again when I signed up for my very first triathlon after failing (once again) to complete a marathon.  And it started one more time when I desperately needed some way to deal with the biggest blow to my life – losing Noah.  And this is my start or I should say starts.

We each have to start somewhere.  It starts with starting after all.

What was your start?  Or what will be your start?

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My Competitive Side(s) or From Finisher to Competitor?

As a triathlete I compete of course.  However I don’t compete with others; I compete with myself.  I always have.

When I started competing in triathlons I was just trying to get into the sport.  My goal was to earn that “Finisher’s” medal which is given to each athlete who crosses the finish line.  That’s it.  If I do this then I win.  And with every race so far, I’ve done this.  I have a successful track record of finishing sprint, olympic and half Ironman distance races.

After losing Noah another competitive side emerged.  I’m competing against my old self.  I’m competing against the confusion, emptiness and sadness I have from losing my son.  Yes I’m competing against the bitterness and anger I still have as well.  I’m competing against the mornings when I don’t want to get out of bed.  I’m competing against the pain and challenges Noah experienced during his way-too-short-of-a-life.  I’m competing against all of those cardiac arrests.  I’m competing against the screaming-in-your-face-reality that life is not fair.

And now I’m sensing a third competitive side developing.  As I’ve focused on improving speed during my training for Nationals, I’ve been thinking a lot about what this actually means to me.  How much more can I improve?  How much faster can I go?  How much deeper can I dig?  How much more can I take on?  

What is this?

I’ve been reviewing my past race results.  Hoping to PR is a great goal but it’s rather ambiguous.  Am I trying to shave 10 seconds, one minute or even more off my time?  Also, each race is different, even if the distance is the same.  The terrain is different.  The climate is different.  Even the logistics can be different.  Then what sort of PR should I aim for?

Before my last race, California Sprint Triathlon, (which I raced two weekends ago as a warm up for Nationals), I looked up the 2011 results.  Over the past month or so I’ve also been studying the top 10 age grouperssplits from last year’s National Championship.

I’m beginning to think the real questions to ask AND answer are along the lines of:  How can I improve my rankings with each race?  How much time do I need to shave off to finish in the top 10, 5 or even 3 within my age group?  Am I no longer competing with just myself?

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One Week to Go, One Week to Get Psyched!

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been increasingly anxious about Hawaii.  I keep thinking, “I hope I can finish!”  This race does have cut off times for each stage:  1 hour 15 minutes after the start for the swim, 5 hours 30 minutes after the start for the bike and 8 hours 30 minutes to finish.  I’ve also begun to worry about my nutrition.  While I’ve been able to figure out what I need to consume for each stage while training, I’ve yet to put it all together.  Then reading about Lance Armstrong‘s struggle with race day nutrition reinforced my own concerns.  (Yes, I know, comparing myself to him is a little absurd.  He and I are in very different categories – actually completely different worlds!  He’s a seven time Tour de France champion and cancer survivor who this year returned to triathlons and in fact came in first place last week at Ironman 70.3 Florida, and I’m just an age grouper and bereaved mother who is hoping to simply finish her first Half Ironman.)  Oh and my left knee is still giving me issues every now and then.

Nevertheless, one week from today surrounded by 1,600 fellow triathletes (including Lance, Chris Lieto and other amazing professional athletes), I’ll be at Hapuna Beach State Park on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island in my tri-suit with goggles and swim cap on and body marked.  One week from today I’ll swim 1.2 miles, ride 56 miles and run another 13.1.  One week from today I’ll find out what 19 weeks of the most serious, structured and hard core training I’ve every gone through will do.  One week from today I’ll have another opportunity to honor Noah.

So starting with this morning’s training session I made a point to shift gears and focus on getting myself psyched.  After all, I’ve followed Pete’s training program.  And while next Saturday’s race will be my first 70.3 distance, I do have seven successful triathlons under my belt already.  And I did qualify for USAT 2012 Age Group National Championships.

As I prepared for this morning’s workout I pushed all negative/anxious thoughts out of my mind.  This worked!  During my two-hour ride I actually found myself dancing (as much as one can while on a bike – yes I’m sure I looked pretty funny) to some of the songs on my iPod.  I had to do a 10 minute 80%+ endurance effort and boy it was hard.  But I kept embracing this challenge more and more; digging deeper and deeper.  Towards the end of my ride I even found myself smiling a bit.  Believe me I did work very hard for the entire time.  With the exception of my 10 minute drill (which as mentioned before was at the 80%+ level), I stayed at the high end of my endurance level throughout the ride.  And I finished my session with a strong 20 minute run afterwards.

To continue psyching myself up this week, I’ve decided to think of all of the positives such as:

  • I’m the fittest I’ve ever been.  I recently hit a milestone.  On the bike I noticed it’s now taking me an additional 20-30 minutes to get my heart rate up to my endurance level — a sign that my body is getting into better shape.  (Also a sign that I need to increase my effort level!)
  • I’m back in CA.
  • I’m racing in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
  • I have the support of wonderful friends.
  • According to my grief counselor I’ve been making good progress.
  • I have MLH.
  • And of course there’s Noah.
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Exercise Can Help You Cope with Grief

Exercise Can Help You Cope with Grief

I’m so excited to learn about Lora Erickson’s post/site and how she uses exercise to cope with loss.  The fact that she’s a triathlete is a bonus of course.  She’s an inspiration!

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A Helpful Book: When A Friend’s Baby Dies

This morning I came across this free ebook, When A Friend’s Baby Dies (Helping Your Friend After Babyloss) by  Kristine Brite McCormick who is the mother of Cora.  Cora was only five days old when she died.  (You can learn more about Cora and Kristine on Kristine’s blog, Cora’s Story.)

I agree with Kristine that “Every mother is different.  We all grieve differently.”  (Kristine also talks about fathers in her ebook.)

Unfortunately, 150,000 infants, children, teenagers and young adults will die each year in the United States (according to The Compassionate Friends 2011 Fact Sheet).  And more than 25,000 families will face a stillbirth and more than 900,000 an early pregnancy loss.  So at some point in your life you may need this book to help guide you as you support a friend or to share with your friends.  Perhaps you need this book now.

Thank you, Kristine, for creating such a helpful resource.  You are a beautiful mother.

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