Week 10-17. March 2-April 26, 201-Feeling a bit more fabulous

Week 10-17. March 2-April 26, 201-Feeling a bit more fabulous

Well the year started off a little slow but since my last post I have actually done some pretty cool stuff. First up my St. Jude Children’s Hospital fundraising. I am still over the moon over how that turned out. … Continue reading

Week 4-9. January 15-February 28, 2015 Not so Fabulous

It is already the first week in March and I have come to the realization that I am not being fabulous at all. Every Monday I say “this week is the week that I start practicing what I set out to do at the beginning of the year” and by the time Sunday rolls around I realize I did nothing. Well almost nothing.

I have definitely accomplished some stuff so far but I am not sticking to my resolution of incorporating the morning and evening routines. There is still paper everywhere, emails are not getting cleaned out, supplements are not going down, and I am not planning my day the night before. I am picking up my shoes every night though. That is definitely an accomplishment. I also have one to do list. Only problem is I never look at it. So that is working out just fine (well maybe not so fine). This is driving me crazy. Why can I not just get motivated?

I am thinking part of the problem is working from home. I was talking to a friend recently about working from home and the pros and cons of it. Like a pro is working in pajamas and a con is getting distracted. He asked me to detail my day and so I proceeded to tell him that I go to my office and go trough some emails.   I then decide I am hungry so I go to the fridge to get something to eat and realize I need to wipe down the counter, which requires me to go to laundry room to get a sponge. So then I think oh I should put a load of laundry in then before you know it I am dusting and sweeping and moping the house. After all that is done I go back to the office read through some emails and realize I never got anything to eat which starts the process all over again. He just laughed and told me that my HDAD had kicked in. I explained that that never happened when I worked in the office and immediately started laughing because it was not true. I told him that at my last job if I ever went into the supply room I had this overwhelming urge to organize the mess, which I did. He responded by just looking at me with a smirk on his face. Maybe there is some truth to that so I need to get a handle on this because I can not afford to rent office space right now and frankly never want to get to the point where I need office space. I need to be able to productive at home.

Another thing is I am not being is a better triathlete. I haven’t even ridden my bike on the road since the last cyclist was killed several weeks ago. I haven’t been to the pool because it’s either too early or too cold. The only thing I have been doing is running which I will say I have gotten better.   Two weeks ago I ran my fastest 10k to date and took about 15 minutes off of my half marathon. This past weekend I ran my fastest 5k and even got first in my age group and 70th overall. Now I just need to do that with the swim and bike.

So the only thing I am being fabulous at is the fundraising for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. I have gotten past 50% of my $15,000.00, which is awesome. I have $506.00 worth of checks to submit and I know of at least 1 person who will donate $500 in April. I also have several penny jars and I know my friends will continue to donate until race day.

I realize Rome was not built in 1 day and neither can I implement everything I want in 1 day but I was hoping for a miracle. Oh well got to keep trucking on right?

What I have learned is that if I am passionate about something I get it done. When I am not I get distracted. It is clear now why I do not clean up the papers or do my accounting I hate those things. Need a more consistent cleaning lady and a bookkeeper. On it.

Quote for the week:

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Week 1 to 3. January 1 -14, 2015-Resolutions finalized

50 and Fabulous

This year for me it is about doing everything better than last year. I will be 50 and fabulous.

I will be a better fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. I will live and breath St. Jude’s until race day. I will do everything to be the best fundraiser this year. I started with a fundraiser for my 50th birthday. I will have more great events and I will be fabulous.

I will also get rid of the chaos out of my house and office. I will do that by incorporating some daily routines that I found in an article that I read earlier this week. I will be fabulous.

They are as follows:

  • Plan each day the night before: I will check my calendar each night so I know what I am doing so I do not miss things like I am doing now.
  • Keep only one to-do list: Instead of lists all over the place I will keep all my to do’s on one list.
  • Spend at least 30 minutes going through and addressing emails: This includes erasing junk emails and unsubscribing from them.
  • Clear desk of paper piles: I am not sure how I will accomplish this but I have 50 weeks to make this a routine.
  • Create a morning routine and an evening ritual. This will include taking my supplements that I struggle to take everyday and start reading again.
  • Spend 10 minutes at the end of each day tidying up including putting my shoes away so that on Friday I do not have a pile of shoes by my couch.
  • Put clothing in the laundry bin: This should be a lot easier since I took the chair, that used house my clothes, out of my room.
  • Never leave dishes in the sink: Self-explanatory
  • Open up my mail: This one needs to be done. I cannot tell you how many times I paid stuff late in 2014. That has to stop.

I will be a better triathlete. I will do that by conquering my fear of going downhill fast. I will do that by heading to Clermont on a regular basis and start doing some bridge repeats. I will be fabulous.

I will be a better business owner. I will do that by actually working 40 hours a week. I will finalize my business plan and I will get all my minority certifications. I will also invoice on a regular basis instead of when I need money. I will also get my taxes done by April 15. I will be fabulous.

So now that I have a plan lets see how I do. This should be a very interesting year. Given that I have all these routines that I have to accomplish everyday I am not sure how I will continue my weekly blog so when I figure it out I will include it in my post.

This is the beginning of my third year of blogging and two things I have loved doing is writing about what I learned and the weekly quote so I will continue that this year. For me it is helpful to look at what went wrong and then follow it by some inspiration. I hope you all will enjoy my year of 50 and fabulous. I am so looking forward to it.

Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try. – Unknown

Love this quote because I today I made that decision. It is perfect to start 2015.

Week thirty-eight to week fifty-two September 15-December 31, 2014 You are an Ironman to Happy New Year

Wow I am so embarrassed that I stopped blogging. I have no idea what happened but I suspect it all comes down to this little statement, that I heard 14 hours and 24 minutes after I started swimming in Cambridge, Maryland, “Espe Kelly you are an Ironman”. I have to tell you that it was an incredible feeling. Much more than I ever expected. So here is what I remember from the lead up to it.


I got all packed up just like I had for CDA. I had my checklists and got everything ready. Then I took off to Maryland. I arrived in to Washington DC, got my rental car and then drove to Cambridge (well actually Easton) where I had rented a gorgeous house. On the way I stopped at the first grocery store I saw and stocked up on water, bananas, bacon (yes-I eat it on my ride) and food for breakfast so when my family showed up there would be food for them.

As soon as I got to the house I figured out where everyone was sleeping then unpacked and got my stuff organized. Then my friend Cathy McIntyre came for a visit. I met her my freshman year in college and I have not seen her since then. It was a 31year overdue visit. We hung out at the house until the agent came by to give me keys. Then we went to dinner, caught up and tried to piece together our freshman year. Just so you know we never pieced it together.

with cathy

Cathy and I at dinner

The most interesting thing I found out is that Cathy somehow developed a fear of going over the bay bridge. She actually has a service that meets her and drives her over the bridge. Yes it was a scary looking bridge but I had no idea people freak out. So I am very happy that Cathy was able to meet me for dinner. I later found out that my cousin John Michael doesn’t like it either. He told me the night of the ironman that he would never drive that bridge for me again. I love you John Michael for doing that to come watch my race.

Next day it was time to register and meet up with Ritchie, one of my Alien teammates. We got our gear and made plans to meet the next morning for a pre-race brick then check in our bikes.


That night I went out to dinner with my high school English teacher who also happened to be my track coach. It was great to catch up and hear the stories about how she went crazy trying to get me to run a mile in high school. She had told me before that she did not understand how I became so disciplined. Ceres Bainbridge, I had other priorities in high school. After dinner I went back to the house to wait for Steve to show up. He drove 8 hours to come watch me race.

Steve made it and was hungry so I got his dinner ready. I had ordered food from the restaurant and he was happy to have dinner ready for him. We then put my bike back together. Sometimes I wonder why I just don’t do these things on my own. Steve just does things without instruction (you know the engineer in him). Well of course it was not right and I flipped out. Luckily I have a great bike mechanic and he took my call late at night and he walked Steve through the putting the bike back together and everything turned out all right.

Next day we picked up Ritchie and headed to swim start. Ritchie and I went for a swim and followed it up a with a short bike ride. Then we dropped our bikes off. Once that is done then it becomes real.

having fun on the hill

The big hill

practice with ritchie

Swim Start Practice

ready with ritchie

Wetsuits on ready for pre-race brick

We then went to lunch, dropped Ritchie off then headed back to the house where we found my Mom and John Michael. We had a couple glasses of wine and the boys cooked up some steaks and baked potatoes.


John Michael and Steve prepare dinner


After dinner I checked all my bags and then proceeded to try to get some sleep.

Then it was race day. My Mom had told me the night before she was only going to the end (she had already done everything at CDA and it was too much for her). But she surprised me by being up and ready to go watch me swim. It was great. We took off to the start which included getting on a yellow school bus and then some walking. Her and Steve were so helpful and I was feeling good.

mom at swim swim satert with steve and mom swim start

As I was waiting to start I noticed very tall skinny young guys surrounded me. I should have known I was in the wrong place. But I was too excited to realize what I was about to experience. My strategy was to take off 10 minutes earlier than in CDA so that I had more time on the bike. I had done pretty good in CDA so I figured it would be ok. Oh boy was I wrong. During the first part of the swim I was getting run over by faster swimmers. This is everyone’s worst nightmare in the water. I kept trying to move over to the outside but I could not so finally I just said ok at some point they will stop coming since they will have all passed me. My main focus for about 500m was to not get kicked in the face. Then it all stopped and I was able to get in a groove and before I knew it was time for the second lap. By this point I was feeling good and finished just over 1:30:00, which was just a bit slower than CDA.

out of swim

When I got out of the water I saw Steve and my Mom. That was such a great feeling. I made it through transition quicker than CDA (I had learned a few things and well it wasn’t as cold so a few less things to put on). As I was leaving transition I saw my Mom, Steve and Ceres (my high school teacher). That just made me so happy and before I knew it I was on the bike.

The bike was great. It was flat and windy but less windy than I expected. So I was super excited. I had decided to wear one of my Australian jerseys and that turned out to be a great thing. So many people yelled out to me so that kept me distracted and feeling great.

It was a 2-loop ride and when I finished the first loop I was thrilled because I was on a good pace and feeling good. We then passed the special needs bags I decided I did not need to stop. There was nothing I needed and thought I would take advantage of that fact. There were a few people who I was riding with and we kept passing each other back and forth and we would yell at each other as motivation.

other riders

After the special needs I lost them, I guess they stopped. It all of a sudden became strange because no one was in front of me or behind me. After many miles I started wondering if I had taken a wrong turn. I had to remind myself that I could not make a wrong turn but never the less I thought I had. I kept riding and looking at the wonderful scenery and then I came across the flooded road.

water bike

We were warned about it but really I did not think it was possible but they were right. The road floods at high tide.

I knew at this point I was close to the next aid station and I wanted it so bad because I wanted a rest. My thoughts were playing games in my head and I wanted to see other riders. I wanted to make sure I was not the last one. When I finally made it to the aid station it was good to know I was not alone. I stopped stretched, ate some bacon and took off. Before I knew it I was at mile 92. The dreaded 92 are what went through my mind. I looked down at my computer and saw I had only been riding 6 hours. I screamed out of enjoyment. In CDA it took me 9 hours. I was so happy I wanted to throw my legs up but couldn’t since I was clipped in.

fun on bike fun on bike 2

The last 10 miles ended up being the windiest and I was not happy. I wanted to ride out of aero but when the wind is in your face in aero you must go. So aero it was. Then at 7 hours and 14 minutes I was done with the bike. I remember seeing Steve and I started yelling like a crazy person. I did it I did it.

I handed my bike off and somehow got through transition in no time. I was so excited that I could not figure how to get out of the tent. As I ran out I saw Steve and he was alone. I was like where is everyone he yelled out they are slackers I shook my head and took off.

I always knew if I made it to the run I could make it even if I had to walk.   Andy thought the same thing and apparently told Steve if I made it to mile 18 to go ahead and buy my finisher gear (which he did). I also found out later that all of Andy’s congratulation messages were sent after I got to mile 18.

best running pic

John Michael took this picture. My favorite as it shows how I felt throughout the run.

The run course turned out to be a great course although I had originally thought it would suck doing 3 loops. What ended up happening is that because of the 3 loops you saw the same people which after awhile started cheering you on, then you got to see people from Miami and the best part was hearing the announcer pretty much the entire time. The one surprising thing was how the volunteers started looking for you as you went by the aid stations. They really got to know you. That proved to be useful on the last lap since they knew it was your last lap they pushed you.

When I started the run I was running so fast and got through mile 1 in about 10 minutes. I was freaking because Andy had said to me if I was running faster than 10:30 it was going to be a bad race. I tried to slow down but my legs were just running so fast. After about 4 miles I stopped to go to the bathroom. That was a good move because it helped me get back to a realistic pace. I ran at a pretty good pace for most of the route with a few miles where it seemed I was running slower but really it was the bathroom stops that slowed me down. When I got to mile 18 my knee started hurting. I didn’t worry too much I knew I had Tylenol in my special needs bag. I do not normally mask the pain but I was tonight if I needed to. I did grab my bag got the Tylenol and kept going.   I could not get the package open so I decided I would give it to Steve when I saw him. He was nervous about doing that since it is against the rules. I insisted and well he did get it open for me and on the way back for my last loop I took the Tylenol (and I even had to have a volunteer help me open it. Those packages are brutal).

After about 1 mile I felt better and I decided it was time to get it done. Beside by this time they were handing out the chicken broth, which really does fuel you so I was picking up my pace. All of a sudden I was moving faster and faster and people started noticing and were cheering me on (the advantage of the 3 loops) I Just kept going and every time someone cheered for me especially the runners I just got faster and faster. Then before I knew it I was at the last turn around. It was at the brewery with lot s of people and they always went crazy if you turned left (that meant it was the last loop and you were almost done (I mean these people went crazy. It was just like adding speed to your blood stream so I took off.) I went past what was to be the last water stop and the volunteer who I had just cheered me on to go faster was going crazy about how fast I was going. Just at that moment my watch announced I had done a 9:30 minute mile and I screamed that out he flipped and yelled go you are so close to the end. He didn’t even let me get water. At that point everyone was yelling at me to go faster. I was like where is the finish and they said straight ahead. I saw one person in front and I had to make a choice to either slow down or pass her. I wanted to make sure I was alone in the chute. I chose to go faster and passed her and then all I saw was lights. I heard my sister Elena and then there was the finish line. It was so sudden I didn’t even do my happy dance as I had planned.

finish finish 2

The process after I finished seemed to have gone so fast that I do not even remember anything except getting my chocolate milk. That was the best chocolate milk I have ever had. Then all of a sudden there was Steve, my mom (crying), my cousin John Michael and my sister Elena.

mom crying

Best part of the night. I talked to them for a while but I needed food so I headed to the athlete tent had some food and then met them outside. They had a bottle of wine for me and then one for them. At this point I asked about Ritchie and all of a sudden he showed up.

with ritchie

We hung out for a while and then everyone wanted to eat so we went back to the house. As usual I took a to go cup well to go bottle and we headed to the car. Oh boy that was hard. I made a stupid mistake and changed shoes. Not a good idea because once I took the running shoes off my feet went crazy. Steve took off to get the car and I finally made it to the parking lot. Just writing this is making my feet throb.

We went back to the house, I took a shower and then wanted to hang out and chit chat but I was the only one that wanted to stay up. Really I was the only one not tired. Well I was tired I just didn’t know it. The next day they were supposed to cook breakfast but again I was up and they were sleeping so I started. I put the bacon on, beat the eggs and made the pancake mix. After awhile Steve took over and finished up and we had a great breakfast.

After breakfast we headed to Washington DC to see my Dad’s exhibit at the Newseum at the Smithsonian Museum. That was a great way to finish up my Ironman experience.


After I got home I went back through Facebook and noticed all of the messages everyone one had sent me. That brought me to tears. There were so many people cheering me on, updating my status through out the day and posting my progress. There are no words to describe the support that I got from not only my family but friends and friends of friends. I was amazed at how people who did not even know me were cheering me on just because I was a friend of one of their friends. That really is the magic of Facebook. ( I can not even begin to try to show those messages here).

I know I should conclude my ironman experience here but I find it very difficult because even today I find it hard to accept that I actually did it.

So what happened after week thirty-eight pretty much goes as follows:

  • Did the swim portion of a relay race
  • escape to miami
  • Jumped out of an airplane
  •  friends skydivefun skydiving
  • Got the dreaded Ironman cold
  • Tried our for The Amazing Race
  • amazing race
  • Went on a cruise
  • on a boat
  • Hung out with my cousin Jorge
  • dinner with Jorge
  • Ran in the Coconut Grove Bed Race (well we had fun anyway)
  • bed race

    Me, Mike Page, Paula (Nonya Binis) Mari Lovo and Kristin Dean

  • Moved out of my house to get my floors fixed
  • Hung out with Steve for 3 weeks
  • hung out with Steve
  • Did amazing at Key West Triathlon (6th in my age group and personnel best for an Olympic distance)
  • key west tri
  • After 6 weeks moved back in Christmas Eve and proceeded to unpack
  • Christmas at my cousin’s house
  • New years at another cousin’s
  • new years

And that pretty much sums up my year.

What I learned these past 14 weeks is:

  • Time sure does go by fast
  • Jumping out of an airplane is the most incredible thing ever but will not get rid of the fear of going down a hill fast
  • Feels great to not turn on an alarm clock
  • It is easy to over book events since you are not paying attention to alarms or schedules
  • I miss Ironman training
  • I can do ok even without training after an ironman (it hurt but I did ok).
  • It still hurts to eat wheat and it is easy to say who cares (and that is a bad thing)
  • I love where I live (not so much in Miami but the location of my house).
  • It is ok not to have followed all of your resolutions
  • Declaring 52 week to Greatness actually got me to Greatness (I am an Ironman and I reached my target for my business)
  • 2014 was a great year
  • I am sure there are other lessons that I can not recall right now

Quote for the year:

Dream, Believe, Achieve

I do not know who said this but it is what I chose to do this year. I dreamt, I believed and I achieved. I had failures but because I believed, I achieved. I loved 2014.

Week twenty-nine to thirty-seven. July 14-September 14, 2014 – I am ready for Maryland

It has been 8 weeks since my last blog post. Wow how time flies when you are having fun. So what have I been doing since my DNF you ask? Well I went to the Bahamas on a 14 day sailing trip (fun as hell),

photo 4photo 1-1photo 2-1DSC_0530

went to NYC for a triathlon (and it was a blast of a race),

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It’s all about the medal

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Leo and me

went back to the Bahamas for work, then I went to NJ for a wedding of my very good friend Shefalee (best time ever and even met a triathlete)

photome and shef

The beautiful bride Shefalee and me

and have been training for Ironman Maryland.   The training has been hard since I have been traveling and my CDA training buddies (Joe, Leo and Kristin) are on the “I do not want to wake up early” mode. Seriously I do not blame them but I will say that they have been really good about at least meeting me for part of my bike and run. In addition to them trying to meet me, Joe sent me a very frank pep talk email where he basically told me that I needed to get my shit together on the bike if I wanted to finish IM Maryland. I had been pretty much riding alone and wasn’t making any progress so the last few weeks I have been riding with some other Aliens and that has actually been great. David, Efrain, Joaquin, Ernesto and Otto have pushed the hell out of me and in 3 weeks I went from an average speed of 14.5mph to 16.89mph. That is some serious improvement. Also for some reason my running has been great. I even ran a 7:40 mile on test day. I have never done that. I have also been in regular contact with coach Andy. Here are some of his messages.

photo 3photo 2photo 1

Until today he has been more confident   about me finishing than me. It feels good to finally agree with him.

I have also been working on getting my business off the ground. I had not been too organized in my accounting so one day I sat down and caught up. The bad news is that I had a lot of money out there. The good news is that I am on target to meet my goal for my first year. My goal was to make a certain amount and then have enough money in the bank to cover 3 months of the company expenses. I have the 3 months covered so now I just have to generate enough revenue to meet the amount. I am more than half way there and things are picking up so I am very happy about that.

The other project I have been up to is getting ready for the floor replacement. Total pain in the butt and I am going to have to move out. So I have been avoiding that like the plague. I cannot wait until that is done. I have scheduled the work after IM Maryland for obvious reasons.

Between all that I have been getting to know some IM Maryland athletes through Facebook. It is nice to know you are not alone in the fears that come with taking on such a challenge. It is also nice to know that there are people out there who are just as crazy and to find people who are just plain funny. One of the girls made up some temporary tattoos and I can’t wait to see people out on the course with them. It is our special group.

Ironman Maryland will not be the same as CDA; I saw so many teammates on the course. There is only one other team member racing IMMD so it will feel very lonely on the course. I am going to have to dig deep to keep moving forward. I am going to have to remember all the words that my teammates have said to me the last 2 months. They want this for me as much as I want it so I am going to think of them when the course gets tough. I am also going to think about my family that will be there to watch me. It is a long day for them as well and I certainly do not want to come up short. My Mom said tonight “I am not coming to any more races so you better finish”. Ok that is some kind of motivation.

Quote for the week is exactly right on. It’s funny when I go look for my quotes I always end up on different web pages and no matter what the right one just shows up. It is the quickest part of my blog.

“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”Margaret Thatcher

Week 26-28. June 23-July 14, 2014 -The journey continues

I went to Coeure d’Alene (CDA) to become an Ironman and I had all the confidence in the world that I would have done that but it was not meant to be. I have avoided blogging about my experience because I wanted to get to the point where my post would be a positive one. It has taken 3 weeks to get there and the reason for my delayed post. But I am there now so here it goes…………

I did the training and the hard work. I showed up, got my package and was ready to go. We did a quick run that first day and it felt great. The weather was perfect for a fast run. That was also the day I met Bear. He is an old friend of Andy’s and let me tell you what a great addition to the team. His attitude and humor was refreshing. Seriously do not now how I did not pee in my pants from laughing so hard on that run.

The next morning we got up for a swim. I knew the water was going to be cold so we had additional gear (neoprene cap and socks) that we needed to try out.  Here we are looking all goofy with all that extra stuff.

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Kristin and me

Really in Miami we do not need that sort of stuff. We all got ready and it was time to go in. I screamed that water was so cold but after a few minutes it felt great. Coach Andy had us swim in the direction of the race so we could get a feel of the current. We did that a few times and then we just hung out in the water just to get used to it. After we got out we went for a run. On the way back I remember seeing people just floating around with rafts and floaties and I thought, OMG these people are just swimming for enjoyment. We came to the conclusion they must be from CDA. But regardless it was funny to see.

That night we had a team meeting. Andy gave us the low down on what we should expect and what we needed to do. Then he asked Stephanie and I to stand up. I was like ok but wasn’t sure why. He proceeded to tell us that as a group of 18 we had lost the weight of two people (Steph and I) in our journey to CDA. That was quite astonishing really. I knew people were loosing weight but to loose 258 pounds as a group was remarkable. Leo lost the most with a whopping 40 pounds then Alan, Andy’s twin lost 35. He went down the line then asked whom we all thought lost the most for the girls. Yeah it was me with a loss of 27 pounds.

The next morning it was time for our pre-race brick. Back to the water we went. Some people were trying to figure out weather or not to wear the neoprene caps and socks. I was already decided but everyone was trying out different things. The only thing I tried was one sock over the wetsuit and one under. In the end everyone concluded that they were definitely wearing the cap and socks and I decided on under the wetsuit so that when the wetsuit strippers pulled my wetsuit off I could still run in my socks. It was going to be cold and I needed that protection.

So on to the bike we went. We were doing the first loop of the ride. As usual I got left behind while maneuvering through the city streets but Elizabeth slowed down and waited for me so I wouldn’t get lost. Once we got through the city the climbing started. I was freaking out. I knew I was going to have to come back down. The group stopped and waited for me and when I pulled up Derek yells “what you were doing 10 mph on the downhill.” I was like no 16. It was a pretty funny moment. Andy then told us where the special needs bags were going to be and we headed back for a short run. After the ride Bear tells me “you know you should just not use the breaks, it really just slows you down”. That humor just never stopped.

Later we went drove the rest of the bike course and it really did not seem all that bad so I was feeling pretty good about the whole thing. After the ride it was time to drop off the bikes and gear bags. I later met my family for dinner and went back to the hotel so that I could try and get some sleep.

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My wonderful family

When we got back to the room Steve showed me cards his nieces and nephews had made for me.  It was so awesome to see that.  Here is a picture of some of them.

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Mitch, Andrew, Becky

Race day started early. Alarm was set for 3:30am so I could eat breakfast, try to go to the bathroom and get to transition to check my bike and drop off my special needs bags. Steve put on the weather channel and they said it was going to be a great day with no wind. A soon as we got outside I was like why are the trees moving so much. So much for no wind. Steve dropped me off as close as he could to transition. I dropped of my bags, filled my tires with air and headed out to look for my teammates. At this point I was pretty calm since there was nothing else I could do. The work was done, the bike was ready and all my gear was waiting for me. It was time to just go for it. Most of our team ended up meeting up and we were just what I thought hanging out but really we all individually were freaking out. But I was glad to be surrounded by my training buddies.


(Front) Eduardo, Joe, Me, Leo, Kristin, (Back) Ashley, Robert, Liz

The swim start was 6:45 and as time approached we all started getting ready. It was time to put the wetsuits on and drop off the morning clothes bag. I wanted to go to the bathroom and the lines were crazy so I went into transition thinking that would be better. It was not. So I just put on my wetsuit and headed out. I called Steve to find out where he was. He was nowhere near me and that is when I totally flipped out. I didn’t think he was going to find me and I had my phone that I needed to give to him. It all worked out in the end and we ran into each other on a very crowded sidewalk.


We said our good byes, he wished me luck and I headed to the swim start where I ran into some of my teammates. Andy had told us that when we got to this part of our journey we would look out and feel a calm. I never believed him but he was right. I was calm. It was seriously weird to feel that way after just freaking out but in reality there was nothing left to do but swim 2.4 miles, ride 112 miles and run 26.2 miles. I was ready.

We then got in the water for a warm up and to get used to the cold water and well to pee like a crazy person. So we hung out for a bit and then they started calling out for us to get in line. It was a self-seed start and I was going out at the back of the 1:15 group since I thought I would finish at 1:30. The time had come to start my race. Two minutes into the swim my goggles were filling up with water so I headed for the first kayak to get that sorted. I did not panic I just fixed the problem and I took off. The lake was clear but it was wavy. It was hard to sight but I just decided it wasn’t going to bother me. I finished the first loop and the cheering from the crowd was amazing. I took it all in and went in for the second loop. I did great on the swim. 1:34 just 4 minutes more than my goal. As I headed to my gear bag I saw my brother Robert so I went and got a hug and then headed to transition to change.

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As I got into the tent I saw Liz and it was so nice to see a teammate. The time went by so fast and before I knew it I was running out on the bike. That is when I saw my sister Elena, Steve and my Mom. Seeing them made all the training worthwhile.

I took off on the bike and managed that first loop without too much problem. Then I got to the big climbing portion and that is when I realized holy crap it is windy. I powered through it when all of a sudden I hear Elizabeth say great job on the swim. I was shocked that she was behind me but we pedaled along until we got to the top. I told her have fun on the way down and I’ll see you on the run. You see she loves the down hills and I hate them. But to my complete surprise the down hills were almost as tough as the climbs. The wind was so strong that I had to use my easiest gear to go down. I kept pedaling then my stomach started cramping. I was like let me stop and just finally go to the bathroom. I stopped 3 times and nothing. At this point I was like well let me make sure I just make the cut off times.

I got to mile 56 and was so happy I did not get stopped. Then the volunteers said you have 1 hour to get back so I went like a crazy woman and did manage to get back before the cut off. Then came the big climbs. I was tired and somewhere along the route I stopped just to get some bacon and take my salt tabs. The bike tech support guy stopped to see if I was ok. I said yep just needed some food. He then told me I had 30 minutes to get to the turn around. I had no idea how far that was so I asked him. He thought it was about 20 miles and told me just to keep moving. By this point the wind was stronger and then I started to do the math. There was no way I would make it but I decided that just maybe they would change the cutoff since on the way back it would be faster with the wind on our backs. I started passing people and I thought ok I could do this. I’m not sure at what point but Andy was on his way back and he yelled “Espe you got this just keep pedaling”. I already knew I wasn’t going to make it but I kept going and sure enough when I approached mile 92 (yes mile 92-20 miles short), the turn around, they stopped me and asked me for my timing chip. My smart ass self said “if you want it you need to get it. I am not giving it to you” so they did come take it from my leg. As we headed back to transition there were still plenty of people behind me and as I looked out of the truck I thought well at least I did not walk like they are.

When I got back I dropped my bike off and wondered how the hell am I going to find Steve? Well he and Robert found me thank god. I was so disappointed but they were great. They acted like I had actually finished. I cried but they told me don’t worry you are an ironman in our eyes. All I remember is saying, “ I am not doing the same thing I did with my Landscape architecture test. ” They laughed and said yeah you will”.   Here is what Robert posted–Check out that water.  Still as can be which means the wind finally let up a little too late:

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We then went to look for my mom, Elena, Miriam and Skip. We found them and they were all like its ok just sign up for another one. Seriously my family is crazier than me. Elena, as usual, had a bottle of champagne, which we proceeded to drink.

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At this point everyone was texting my family to find out where I was so I had to post that I had not finished. It was a hard post but the support I received was overwhelming. I was no way near ready to hear it but they just kept coming. I actually stopped going on Facebook because it was just way too hard.  Here are the messages and I just want all of you to know that even though I could not handle it at the time these messages helped me get to the point to sign up for another ironman.  Your support was amazing and I hope you know that.

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While we where on the streets we saw Andy run by and he came by to give me a hug. He had already heard I did not make the cutoff. After we saw him I was like I need to eat so we headed to a restaurant that was by the finish line ate and proceeded to drink myself silly. I stayed there until all my teammates passed by and then told Steve I need to get out of here. I cannot listen to Mike Reilly say “so and so you are an ironman” anymore. So we left.

Looking back at it now I cannot believe I actually was able to stay there that long but I am glad I did. Not only did I see all my teammates finish I was also able to see Leo propose to his wife. He had told us early on in the training that he wanted to do something special for his wife. They never really got engaged and they had just gone to the courthouse to get married and since she was so supportive of his training he wanted to do this. I loved the idea but didn’t think I would be there to see it. It was the high light of my DNF.

The next day proved to be much tougher. Everyone was posting on Facebook and it was hard to take. In addition, Leo, Joe Kristin and I have an ongoing text feed and they were texting like crazy. Since I was in no condition to deal with that I asked them to exclude me until I was ready to face the world. They did that for me. Now that is a true sign of great friends.

I had to take Steve to the airport and I pretty much cried the entire way especially when Katcat called me.  She thinks I am a hero but at that moment I was still a failure. Kat, I thank you for that call I just wasn’t ready for it.

I was headed to Seattle and I really didn’t want to go anymore but it was too late to change the plans. So after awhile I headed off with Liz. Before we left I saw Joe and Kristin and they were all dressed with their medals and I just couldn’t deal. I was pretty rude really but that is how I was feeling.  Sorry guys.

On the way to Seattle Steve called and said ‘hey Maryland is not sold out and its flat you should go for it. I laughed. My family the night before had told me why not sign up for another one. You are already in shape. My Mom’s only request was that it was closer to home. I never said anything but I wanted to yell “ really do you think its that easy” but I didn’t. Anyway I started texting Andy and as I was approaching Seattle I registered for Maryland.

That night there were a few teammates in town and they had decided to stay in the same hotel as me which was great because it had a nice roof top and you could see the sunset and for the first time since I got taken off the course I felt ok, not great but ok. I posted some pictures and then I got the best text ever from Joe. He basically said: Espe is celebrating on the rooftop which means she is feeling better and ready to face the world and with that I was included in the text feed once again. I loved the fact that they gave me the space to cry over my DNF.

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I ended up having a great time in Seattle and very happy that I did not go home. I even got to see an old high school friend who I haven’t seen in 30 years. I think I needed that time to reflect on the race and move on. I am still freaking out about my next ironman but I am not one to quit. Hell it took me 20 years to pass my Landscape Architecture license exam but I finally did it.

There is so much more that I felt and experienced but I have left it out because like I said before I wanted this to be a positive blog not only for you but also for me. Along with the negative things I experienced I also experienced a lot of positive things and that is what I want to focus on. Here are some of the few since I started my training:

  • I became a way better cyclist (at least 5 mph faster)
  • I rode 97 miles for the first time
  • I made it to mile 92 on a very grueling bike ride on race day
  • I had a great time-check out theses pictures

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  • I made it down Sugarloaf in Clermont on many occasions and way faster than 3 mph ok like 5.
  • I now only hate downhill not despise them
  • I have actually ridden 35 MPH (not exactly sure for how long but I hit it and that is huge for me)
  • I took 1.5-2 minutes off of my run pace
  • I transformed my body
  • I gained some terrific friends (you know who you are)
  • I inspired one of my cousins to get in shape
  • I inspired my brother in law to attempt a triathlon
  • I am going to jump out of an airplane to help me conquer my fears about going downhill fast
  • I had the guts to sign up for another Ironman thanks to all of my family and friends who sent me the most amazing words of encouragement.
  • I confirmed that I am insane, nuts, crazy, mad and every other word that describe who I am.

So I am not going to post my training stats but I will end it with a quote as usual.  This quote was posted on Facebook today by a dear friend who I met while at NC State,  Thank you Wendy for posting this today.  It is the perfect quote for my blog today and I love it because it comes from our coach when we where in college.  A man who was a terricfic coach but also a fun guy and a real motivator.  Thank you Jimmy Valvano.  And hell its perfect for my journey.

dont give up Jimmy V


Week twenty-four and twenty-five. June 9-22, 2014- Last big workout, taper and naps lots of naps

Week 24 was all about getting through the last big workout.  3 hour on the bike to be followed by an hour run.  Kristin and I wanted to do the CDA course on the computrainer so we scheduled it with Andreas and we were set for 11:00 time.  Since the session was fro 3 hours we met early to get the other 3 hours on the road.  We followed with the run and the worst was done.

The next day we followed up with a 2.5 hour run and a what was supposed to be 1 hour and 10 minute swim.  Liz joined us in the morning.  The run went great and we were all pretty happy with our results.  As we headed in the water we noticed tons of sea urchins and given how many of us have stepped on these and  some even having surgery to get them out we were a little slow getting in.  The current was also very strong which meant the way back was going to be tough.  We swam a couple of buoys and by this point I was over the whole thing. I put my foot down and said lets go back.  This is ridiculous.  Liz and Kristin caved in to me.  I was happy I did not have to use the I am old to be your mother and you need to listen to me strategy.

It felt so good to be done with the big workouts.

Week 25 started our tapering part of our training.  We have been waiting for this for quite some time so we were all very excited.  The workouts were short but we had something everyday.

It was really strange to be doing 30 minute workouts or 1 hour ones but thats what tapering is all about.  This week I also experienced extreme tiredness.  Every afternoon I felt like I couldn’t keep my eyes open so I would lay down for 5 minutes which really ended up being 3-4 hours and only because I forced my self to get up.  After about 3 days of this I was getting worried.  I texted Andy and he told me it was normal and that I was lucky that I could actually take the naps.  So I kept up with the naps.  I was sleeping like 12-13 hours a day.  Then all of a sudden on Saturday I woke up refreshed.  When I got to Key Biscayne for our workout it seemed everyone else was feeling the same.  Tapering was working.

Sunday was a 2.5 hour ride.  I decided to do it on my hybrid.  That  bike has not been used since I started training.  OMG the entire time I was riding I was wishing I had my road bike.  2.5 hours on the hybrid was like 4 on the road bike.  It was tough to run after that.  Again thank god it was just 30 minutes.

This week we all had to take our bikes in for transportation to Coeur d Alene.  This meant we needed to go use a spin bike for our training.  Monday morning I met Eduardo and University of Miami and took a spinning class that Liz was teaching.  It was fun and the first session without our bikes was done.

This week I also wanted to make sure I had everything I needed for the trip so I checked and rechecked my lists.  You would have thought I had gone mad.  I packed and repacked 3 times but I did manage to get everything I needed.  My race day gear bag was actually bigger than my clothes one.

Given that I am now about 3 days away from the race I had decided to add up all my stats just for shits and giggles.  And this is what I came up with:

planned  actual

What I learned these past 2 weeks is to trust the training process especially the tapering.  I never knew I could get that tired and actually listening to my body was the best thing I could have done.  I also learned that I could get used to the naps.  Hell I want one now.

Quote for the week:

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” -Lao Tau

I thought this was such an appropriate quote seeing that this journey has taken me on a lot of miles.  It is hard to believe that on January 1st I was just taking my first step on this incredible journey.  On June 29th I will be taking the last 140.6 miles.

Week twenty-two. May 26-June 1, 2014-Getting better

This week started with a 3-hour run that I did not manage to get in last week because of the tenting.  It was Memorial Day and it was not easy to get up but I did and managed 12 miles so the week started off great.  I proceeded to get all my workouts in but I was worried about the weekend.  We had a 6 hour ride and although I had done one already I was still freaking but also excited to see what I could do.

This week I also got my test results that were done to try to figure out what was going on with my stomach. It was confirmed that the abuse I am putting on my body is taking a toll on my intestines. It is not what I wanted to hear but it is what it is. My friend Karen came up with a plan to get me through the race before we start real treatment after I am done. I am confident with this plan and I know this issue will not interfere with the race.

On Saturday we had a 1 hour 10 minute swim scheduled to be followed by a 2 hour and 30 minute run.  Joe from the team suggested we start at 5am for the run and follow it by the swim so we could get finished early.  I agreed although I hate getting up so early.  I know my teammates that are married and have kids are at a point where they need to do everything to keep peace at home.  It has been a long 6 months and I can only imagine the flack they are getting from their spouses and kids.  I am lucky I do not have to contend with that so I go along to support and well I like training with them.  I figured I would just go back to sleep when I get done.

We (Leo, Joe, Liz and Eduardo) took off on the run.  Eduardo took off like a jack rabbit as usual but the rest of us hung tight as a group.  We really did have the best time.  I will not go into the details of our conversations but just know it was worth getting up that early for the conversation.  We followed up with the swim.  Let me tell you that I now know why the swim is first.  My legs and actually my feet were cramping up the entire time.  Seriously, I never knew the bottom of my feet could cramp up.  But the water was cool and felt great so I kept swimming and managed 1.7 miles.  Really the best part was being done by 9:30am.  I had the entire day ahead of me.

We had all decided that we would meet up on Sunday and leave Joe’s house at 5am for our 6-hour ride and then our 1-hour run.  It’s a great place to start and ride south which is a very safe place to ride and we have plenty of options to add mileage.

The day was great.  I got some errand done and before I knew it the time had come to get to bed for another early wake up call.  At around 8:30 pm I get a text message telling me to look on our Facebook page where we got these messages from our coach:

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Oh my, really.  First of all I was on my way to bed and second of all the nerve.  Well there was no way I was going to Shark Valley.  It is an hour drive and well you know how much I just love the alligators so off to Joe’s house I went.  We took it easy to Black Point Marina since it was dark and it had poured so the roads were wet.  I was a little freaked out that my brakes were not working but I powered through it.  After Black Point Joe slowed down to tell me about their route which was different than I what I usually take.  He mentioned that the last turn was not signed which worried me so we ended up deciding that they would go their way and Liz and I would go the way I knew and hook up at Starbucks to hit the bathroom and fill up on water. Before we took off Joe said to me, “just work on being in aero and do what you can do.  I know you can do this.”  I love him for his encouragement and how he makes sure I am ok.

I wanted to stay with the guys to see what I could do but I was scared of missing the turn so our decision was good.  I rode like a crazy person and basically rode in aero the entire time and to my surprise I got to Robert is Here 13 minutes faster than I have ever done before.  I was so excited.  I told Liz let’s just keep going and then head back since the guys would not be at Starbucks for another 30 minutes or so.  We ended up running into them, which was perfect.  At this point they decided we would head out to Everglades National park, which was 5 miles from Robert is Here.  I was like ok great we can add some mileage.  As we took the turn we ran into Derek and Elizabeth so they ended up joining us.  I was determined to draft behind them and keep up.  Well it only lasted for about 3 miles but I was happy because for those 3 miles I was riding in aero and at 20 MPH.   After that 10-mile loop we met up at Starbucks.  I knew I could not keep up so they went their way and Liz and I went my way and we met up at his house for the 1 hour run.

When I got back to his house I was like OMG I did an additional 17 miles since the last 6 hour ride just 3 weeks before.  I would say that is a huge improvement.  I was so happy that even though it was like a million degrees out and we were totally over heating on the run I was happy.  He are some of us after the run.  Eduardo is always out and back and misses the pictures.

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Yes we were hot and sweaty but Joe’s pool was the perfect way to cool off afterwards.  Joe you really are the best for letting us crash your house.

When I got home I posted this and the encouragement I got was priceless.

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This week I managed 90% of training time.  I am happy with this since Monday I was making up a workout from last week and is not included in this weeks stats.

▪   Planned workout duration:  15:40

▪   Actual workout duration: 14:10

What I learned this week is that sticking to the workouts is apparently working. I have been working super hard on the bike since it is my weakest sport and for the first time since January I do feel like I can actually do this.

What was reaffirmed this week is I have great teammates and friends. They have followed me through this journey and they are behind me 100%. I can’t thank them enough. I really do appreciate your patience and your encouragement. It has made this journey worthwhile.

What I have noticed this week is that I am missing some of my teammates that started the journey with me but have been missing the last few weeks.  Where are you Christy and Robert?  I miss you.

Quote for this week is mine and for the first time since I started I actually believe it.

I got this-Espe Suarez Kelly

Week twenty and twenty-one. May 12-25, 2014-From a relaxing vacation to a stress filled training week

Week twenty I was in Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic to celebrate my cousin John Michael’s 50th birthday.  He invited some of his family and his closest friends for a fun filled week on the beach.  I was one of the lucky ones that were invited.  The week came in the mist of some heavy training but there was no way I was going to miss it.  I planned my flights so I could get the major workouts in before I left and after I returned.  The workouts during the week were not too bad and I managed to get some of them in.  I know I could have done more but sleeping in always seemed like a better option.  As it turns out this trip, although not good for my training, was good for my body.  It was the first week in maybe 6-7 weeks that my stomach did not bother me.  I think I really needed to rest and relax and that I did.

I want to take a moment and say thank you to John Michael and Richard for inviting me.  I truly enjoyed spending time with my family and with your beautiful friends.  The food was incredible, the beach was beautiful, the drinks were plentiful and the company was amazing.  I feel completely blessed to be your cousin.  I went back home completely relaxed and re-energized. Here are some pictures from the week:


Birthday boy and me on the beach


View from my living room


The beach with sand so soft it felt like flour


The finest Rose


Table setting elegant each and every night


Lobster, ceviche and fish snack on the boat


John Michael with his favorite sister Ana Maria after the boat ride


Lobster dinner OMG so good


Drinks by the pool with the most beautiful moon

Week twenty-one is another story.  It started out with a 4.5-hour ride on the windiest day I have ever ridden in.  I had just gotten new Zipp wheels, which made my bike super light.  That made for a very unsteady ride and it was a bit scary for the first time out with the new wheels but I managed to hang on and finish 62 miles.  I will have to admit there was a time when we did not think we would make it back but we just kept at it and we finally made it home.  I was never so happy to see my house.


I survived

That was followed by an email from our coach that basically said that some of us were being complacent and we needed to get our butts in gear.  The email went to an undisclosed list of people and the way it was written it seemed like he was just talking to me.  I was most upset because I have been working really hard.  This really stressed me out and I started having nightmares about not finishing the race, which kept me from getting any sleep.  I was determined to get every workout in this week and I did all but one. Not only did I do them but I did really good. I attribute that to the week’s rest and the fact that I am feeling so much better.

This week also included tenting our house for termites. This was just one big pain in the butt.  We had to take all the food out and then move out for a few days.  We stayed at our friend’s house, which was fun but well you do not have all your stuff so it can be tricky.  For instance, we had to move out on Thursday and I was supposed to do a 3-hour run.  When I went to get ready for the run I realized I had no running shoes so I had to scrap that.  Not really an ideal situation but I knew I had a day off on Monday so I decided not to worry and just do it then. Then Friday I got ready to go to my computrainer class when I realized I had no flip-flops so I had to head out in my nice sandals. That was kind of funny. They went really good with my workout clothes.


Fancy Sandals with bike shorts. Classic


The house under tent

That night we decided to stop by Happy Hour since Steve hadn’t seen the happy hour crew in awhile. After a couple of drinks I announced to Steve “I need to go I am feeling like I am getting drunk.” He was shocked and responded by saying “I never though I would here you say that.” One of the guys followed up by saying “you must be taking this Ironman thing serious”. It was really funny because it’s true. I even shocked myself when I said that. So we left, grabbed some food at Whole Foods and had dinner with our friends at their house.   It was probably one of the earliest night I have had in a really long time.

Saturday morning we had a swim and bike workout. We had to swim for 1:hour and 15 minutes and then ride for 2.5 hours. The water felt good and I was swimming great. Ended up swimming 1.8 miles. I was pleased with the effort. When we got out of the water the guys told me they were doing Sunday’s 4.5 hour ride and then do the 2.5 on Sunday since it was a holiday weekend. I wasn’t prepared for that so I couldn’t go with them. Since no one was left I decided to head back and do the ride later in the day.  We finally got back into the house at 12:30 and I just started cleaning out the fridge and started washing dishes since I wanted to get my kitchen back in order. Before I knew it, it was 7:00pm and I was starving. So needless to say I missed the ride.

I had made plans with Liz for Sunday’s ride so she met us at my house and we took off at 7am as planned. The ride started out good. I took the lead and basically pulled until Black point Marina. Then Steve took the lead until Robert is Here (a great local fruit stand that has bathrooms and a good stopping point). We took a short break, refilled our water bottles and took off. Well I should have known the wind was going to be in our face on the way back since we rode so fast on the way out.   For some reason I always forget. Anyway on the way back I decided to get into my aero bars and see what I could do. Much to my surprise (and Steve and Liz’s surprise) I kicked butt. I was pulling at 19.5 MPH on a straightaway that was about 3 miles long. Now this may not sound fast but the head winds were strong and I usually do about 12 MPH on the way back so that is huge. Then when we turned and I thought let me really see what I can do in the aero bars so I sort of took off thinking Steve and Liz were right behind me. I later found out they couldn’t keep up. Steve told me he could not believe I was riding that fast. I pretty much took the lead all the way home. We ended up doing 68 miles in the same time we had done 62 miles the week before. I felt great. I was already thinking about the next long ride and how I could possibly keep up with the boys if I drafted. I really cannot wait to see how I do. During this ride not only was I going faster but I was also more confident generally so I was taking off quicker at lights and actually drinking while pedaling. Again this may sound like nothing but for me it’s huge because that is one of the reasons I always get dropped.


Steve and I after the ride.

After the ride Steve was telling me how him and Liz were talking about how confident I looked on the bike and how amazed they were at my riding. The bike has always been my weak sport and given that it is the longest portion of the Ironman it has been freaking me out. I am super excited at my progress. As Steve said, “you have come along way since you started. Thank God because it was so frustrating riding with you but today every time I looked back you were right on my tail”. That was awesome to hear.

So after the ride I stated seeing Facebook posts about our team mates racing Ironman Brazil. These guys were hauling ass and at the end of the day when everyone was finished I got really scared. They all did so well and some even placed in their age groups.

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Iron Alines Ironman Brazil group: Stephanie, Ralph, Hans (double fisting 🙂 ), Silvana, Ale, Angelo, Mike and Dario

I was thinking man I don’t know if I can do this. Then came another post from my infamous coach Andy.

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Andy’s post. He is killing me.

Gotta love this guy.

This week I managed 86% of training time.  Man I only missed one workout and the percentage was not as good as I had hoped.

▪   Planned workout duration:  18:15

▪   Actual workout duration: 15:45

What I learned this week is that I am stronger than I think. That is really a good thing. I think I needed to learn that. I am glad I was able to figure that out with Steve. His encouragement this week was exactly what I needed to get me across the finish line on June 29.

This week’s quote is really about what happened to me.  I finally set myself on fire. It only took 21 weeks but hey better late than never right?

Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire. ~Arnold H. Glasow