Truth

Most triathletes are planning their seasons for next year.  With that, it’s a good time to take a good look in the mirror, which can be a difficult task as it requires absolute truth. Unfortunately, many athletes fail to do this. What’s ultimately possible may differ from the work and/or time some athletes can, or be willing to, put in. Oftentimes goals are lofty compared to the actions required to meet them. Think of a training plan; if it isn’t followed a vast majority of the time, then it can’t be blamed for not meeting expectations/goals. I like to take stock by thinking of everything as a class.  To get an A, to have a fair shot at accomplishing my goals, I would need to do my homework and study hard.  This doesn’t just include doing the workouts, it includes how well I followed them; if I cut them short, added to them, did them too hard or too easy, etc.  To obtain the best grade in class, homework would also include eating well, sleeping enough, getting proper rest and recovering seriously, as well as doing anything prescribed by doctors or pt’s. And to top it off, I’d have to have a great mental attitude with training and racing too. Like in a class, I can’t expect an A, or even a B, if I miss quizzes, blow off some homework, skip class, etc.  That being said, its pretty rare to nail all of these things, which is why it’s crucial to set realistic goals. Far-reaching goals are good to have, but don’t let them be the only ones you set or you may never be satisfied with race performances. Most triathletes are hard enough on themselves even when they perform great, so don’t set yourself up for disappointment by setting unrealistic goals. Start with a high-reaching goal, then set something slightly out of reach. Also set up monthly, weekly, daily goals. Breaking down a plan into steps helps with motivation as there are always goals to chase and having set many, you are sure to reach several of them. This is a great confidence booster and helps keep your head in the game, especially when it’s a long season.

Keep in mind, you’re the only one who really cares about your goals so if you want a C, so what?  Yes, you may be physically capable of more, but if you don’t have the time, discipline, nor work ethic, then your goals should be different. I know several people who could race much faster. They just aren’t willing to put in the work, have too many life demands, they won’t follow a plan, and/or they simply don’t care. Whatever the case, ensure you use absolute truth in planning whatever your goals may be.

 

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Year

Another year is coming to a close. My how it goes so quickly. Our kids are 8 and in 3rd grade. What a joy it is to witness their growth. I’m so fortunate I’m able to be a stay-at-home mom. I wouldn’t have it any other way, as I hate missing out on anything they do or say. Since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to be a mom. I believe my mom had much to do with that as she was simply wonderful; always at home, but never smothering, always there, but never ‘in my way,’ stern when necessary, but never ever mean. I pale in comparison to her, but I do my best and I love every messy, loving, playful, tear-jerking, fighting, and happy moment with our girls. It certainly isn’t perfect, but its not supposed to be and I tell them that often. I relay it’s ok, and normal, to sometimes be bored, upset, frustrated, angry, happy, etc, but how they react to things matters most. I tell them we’ll find a way to work things out no matter what and we’ll love them no matter what. They hear that at least weekly. And the I love you’s, well I can’t help but say them several times a day. Yikes, I’ve really gotten off track here as I was just going to give an update on our year.   #verygratefulmother

Courtney and Sarah continue with swimming, but now that soccer season is over, they are swimming twice per week rather than once. Their new sport this winter is basketball. We’re surprised they didn’t start sooner as they are often playing at our neighbors house and love it. Anyway, it’s fun to watch them run around the court. Sarah made a ‘nothing but net’ basket in her first game and Courtney had some great passes. Fun too is that many of their friends and soccer teammates are playing so every game is somewhat of a social event for the kids and parents alike.

I’m still running my triathlon coaching biz and loving it. Winters are different though as many clients take a break. It’s great for some extra time to get other projects done, but it puts quite a dent in my income. It’s all good though as I’m still coaching swimming (S&C ‘s team as well as a masters team). Come January, indoor soccer will start and I’ll be one of their coaches. No practices will be held, but they’ll play games every Sunday.

Scott has been happily back on his feet (running) for a few months now and did his first race in about 1.5 yrs. (He had surgery on some really bad plantar fasciitis Oct. 31st, 2014.). A great start too as he placed 17th out of 400+ in his age group!!!

Running is not yet in my repertoire as I’m still working through some back issues. I’m on the fine line between being realistic and optimistic on whether or not I’ll be able to. With that, aquabikes (swim/bike races) are something I may do this summer though. Honestly, I don’t know how I was ever able to fit in 10-14 hours of training weekly; I probably wouldn’t try with aquabike training though. I have the same schedule otherwise, yet I seem busier. Swimming and biking twice per week seem to be all I can get in now. Perhaps it’s just all I want to get in for now as other things seem more important. My daily stretching, weekly massage, and biomechanics work takes up a chunk of time though and I’m not cutting those things as they are helping with my back. Health is the first and foremost thing for us. (As you get older, you realize how important it is to always take care of your body and not allow things to linger). It’s about the big picture now, 10-30 years down the road rather than just next season. I want to be active as I can as long as I can and if that means not doing certain activities for now, or at all, so be it. I want to travel when I’m older, play with my possible grandkids, hike, bike, and swim, and not be stuck in a wheelchair or have something which may prohibit me from doing things I love. That means taking care of things/myself now, not later. Later could be too late.

We’re working on health with Payton too. He’s become a great little (actually 50 pounds now) pup! Unfortunately, he spends a bit of time chewing on his own legs as he has some sort of allergy. We’ve tried switching foods, but our vet is having us wait a bit to see if the cold weather will put some of the itching at bay. Avoiding expensive allergy testing is ideal, but if we have to do it down the road, we very well may.

No, life certainly isn’t perfect, but it can be good when the focus is on the positive and controllable things! I’ve had to work on this for a while, and still do. It’s so easy to be negative, complain about every little negative thing (there are plenty), and stress about things that can’t be controlled, but really, what’s the point? All it does is make us more unhappy and those around us too. (I know all too well from experience). Anyway…

That’s our little update! We hope you are all safe, healthy, and happy!

 

 

 

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Roller Coaster

This entry  below was written per request of my good friend Hanna Koenig and she posted it on her blog:

Mary is driven in quiet ways. She has a mental and physical toughness that shows up in triathlons and in coaching triathletes, but when it comes to relationships that toughness shows up as kindness and love. She’s patient and thoughtful…. and also has a soft spot for puppies and babies:).  A few months ago I asked some smart women to respond to a question to post on my blog. Mary wrote about her journey with injury forcing her to take time off from racing in triathlons. (Oh! And if you happen to be an athlete, at any level, and need a good coach: I STRONGLY recommend Mary. She’s good.) Enjoy reading about Mary’s journey below.

They say life is a roller coaster and it’s no different with me. I was an avid triathlete for a number of years. Representing the USA for a few World Championship races (in Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, and Florida) in Olympic and ½ Ironman distances was the icing on the cake. I love this sport, from the training, to the races, the culture, and most of all, the people. So last year when I was told to stop running due to multiple injuries in my back and knee, I thought ok, it’ll be short-term and I can still race later in the year. A long story short, it’s been almost a year and a half and I still can’t run.

It’s been a tough year dealing with this loss, even though I was never a huge fan of running. My relationship with running was always a tumultuous one, but when someone says I can’t do something, I often want to do it even more. So yes, I can still swim, and I’ve been biking some, but what most don’t understand is that not competing in triathlons has created a bit of an identity crisis for me. If I’m not a triathlete, what am I? It sounds silly, I know. I realize I’m blessed with a wonderful family and friends, but unfortunately, I’ve often felt lost without my athletic endeavors. To shed a little light on this, I competed in my first swim meet when I was just 4. I loved it so much, and worked so hard, that it ended up paying for my 4 years at the University of Illinois. So, this is not my first identity crisis. It took a couple years for me to get over not being ‘Mary the swimmer’, or as some called me, ‘Fish’ after college. I thought coaching a swim team soon upon graduation would help. It did, a little. I swam some laps on occasion, but that experience was nowhere near that of swimming with a high school or collegiate team. Luckily I found my way through this…via triathlon. It was a new challenge and I still was able to stick with my passion of swimming.

So here I am, trying to find my way again. Logically, yes, I am more than a competitor. I am a mom, wife, friend, and coach, but this is a lifestyle change and that is HUGE. Flipping that along with my mindset and body changes is not something which can dealt with in a short period time. It’s a loooong process full of ups and downs. In the end, it’s just life. It’s not supposed to run smoothly or as expected/planned all the time, but at 43, I never thought my body would not allow me to function/not function like this. I am too young right? Ha!

Training smart was always a theme with me too. I took more time off every season than most triathletes (usually 2-3 months, completely off all disciplines)! I was very good to my body and never over-trained. Also, being a triathlete was great cross training so where did I go wrong? Well, suspicion is that possibly my pregnancy with my twins may have been the impetus as that puts much pressure on the spine. (I was on bed rest my last 8 weeks and keep in mind, S&C were a week late)! Certainly my bike accident a few years ago was the main culprit, but the newsflash is I found my body is awesome at compensating for injuries as my initial pain was in my back, the next year it was in my hip, and last year in my knee. Logically, my doctors just figured I was injuring different things from year to year so we’d try to treat those things. Last spring though, my running biomechanics coach, Janet Smith-Leet, made the suggestion that perhaps my back injury from a few years ago may be the culprit for the hip and knee pain experienced. Shortly after, a doctor confirmed her theory. (And no, I didn’t tell this guy her theory). So although the pains I had were very real, it’s because my body was compensating for the issues in my back. Wow. Bad luck, just bad luck. Nothing can be done about that so it’s just onward and upward. And although I have my occasional self-pity party, I am not unhappy with my life at all. I’m super healthy, my life is wonderful in most ways and I have, and always will, take time for the little things in life as I appreciate them greatly. I’m just a little lost with my identity, but I will continue to fight my way through lifes unending roller coasters and mazes. Thankfully I enjoy change, I just wish my body and it’s ailments weren’t the things changing as they prohibit me from enjoying some of what I love. Fortunately, family comes first so they, and my friends & jobs, keep me happy. Oddly, I have no idea how I used to train 10-14/hours per week anyway! Off to make more lemonade and set some new goals!!!

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It’s like this and like that and like this and uh…

Sorry, I just wanted a fun title. (Mom, it’s lyrics to a song).  ;)

As you can tell, a huge hiatus was taken from my blogging scene. Several blogs were actually written since I posted my last one in August.  I just didn’t like any so they were pitched. I apologize if you missed hearing me babble.😉

Hmmm, what to write about; more complaining about not having been able to run in nearly a year now?  Na.  About Scott not having been able to run since last fall due to surgery for plantar fasciitis?  Na.  About our wonderful daughters?  Always, but you see and hear about them often on FB.  (We are quite the proud parents though…in case you didn’t know).  About how cold it’s been?  Na.  It’s winter. It’s supposed to be cold!  About our dog?  Na. We had to put him down a few months ago and we remain heartbroken. About my trip to the ER a few weeks ago with chest pain?  Na. My ticker turned out to be just fine.  (Whew)! About our incredible cruise to the Caribbean last week?  Na. No one in this cold weather wants to hear us boast about that.  But I do need to say a HUGE thank you to Sandy for watching the girls all week! Ok, so I’m running out of ideas, not!  However, I am done writing for today, but I will write more soon.

Until then, stay warm and seek the positive things in your life. There are more than you think.

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Bittersweet

As most of you know, it’s been quite the tumultuous summer for Scott and me with injuries here and there, emotions here and there, no racing, etc.  Regardless, I’ve had a wonderful summer. We didn’t have the girls in camp the last couple months and their only commitments this summer were a music lesson (Court plays violin and Sarah piano) once a week and Jiu Jitsu 1-2x per week, so I’ve happily had oodles and oodles of quality time with them.

We even took them up to the USAT National Championships up in Milwaukee a couple weeks ago.  I was really excited to see and cheer on my clients and friends, especially since I had long ago swallowed the pill that I would not be able to participate.

After a fun dinner with clients Friday night, we got to bed fairly early in anticipation for the early wake-up call (not as early as the athletes were getting up though).  The Bradbury crew arrived at the race start with cameras in hand, a printed out chart of who was racing at what times, and loud cheering voices. After seeing a few clients swim, we were standing on a pedestrian bridge over the swim course which is a few hundred yards from the race start.  For some reason, time seemed to suddenly stop. All was quiet and then a gun went off.  It was for the start of my age group wave, the one I was signed up to be in, the one where I was to win the swim and have a great race in order to qualify for the World Championships next year.  Tears flowed. Sarah noticed then her tears flowed as well.  Wow, I had no idea it would be so tough to watch my age group swim on by.  I wallowed for a few minutes then let it go. I was there to see and cheer on my clients this time.

And lots of cheering we did!  Our clients did some great racing via times, strategies, and placing.  Woo hoo!  But it wasn’t over, more clients, and some of the same, were racing Sunday too, this time in the sprint distance.

Up early again, but it’s an entirely different experience as spectator.  Time goes so quickly! It’s because we were so busy trying to locate different clients and friends at certain parts in their races.  Although the transition area is easy to get around, it’s huge so it’s not easy to see anyone on the bike or run other than coming into and out of transition. And even that was difficult with the various timing of the athletes starting times. It didn’t help that I couldn’t run and I had two precious girls in tow. Regardless, we managed to see everyone at least once so that was good. I was hoping for more, but there was only so much time. Anyway, another great day of racing!  Special shout outs to Tim Glinski and Bruce Noxon who qualified for the World Championships and to Rob Garren who dropped 3.5 min from last years time, a PR!  All in all, it was a great weekend of racing, spectating, coaching, cheering, bonding, and loving this sport. Yes, it was bittersweet, but much more sweet than bitter, I’ll take it!

IMG_1249 IMG_1242 IMG_1236 IMG_1227 IMG_1226 IMG_1219 IMG_1217  IMG_1212   IMG_1167 IMG_1156 IMG_1151 IMG_1142 IMG_1136  IMG_1112 IMG_1095 IMG_1266 TimNats.14

sprint nats14

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Couch Potatoes

It’s been about 4 months since the onset of my knee pain .   Three runs have been attempted since, 2 of which were in April and felt fine, the last of which in May lasted 8 minutes. I was in oodles of pain for 3 days afterwards. I biked easily and sporadically through May, but since things weren’t improving, I stopped that too. So swimming is the only thing I’ve done consistently since. Unfortunately, the last several times in the water, my back has not felt so good. (It’s been sporadic with some major aching and a little pain for a couple months). Grrr! Thankfully swimming is not doing any damage, per my doctor, so as long as I listen to my body, I can continue. Whew!

The knee has felt much better the last several weeks, but my back has not. An MRI a couple weeks ago revealed why. The results didn’t show anything major per se, but I have a plethora of issues. Some of you may recall I was in a bike accident a few years ago and herniated a disc. Thankfully, that hasn’t gotten worse, but now I also have lots of tears in the ligaments surrounding my back, as well as bone spurs, some degeneration, and a major lack of mobility in my lower spine. As a result, the nerve canal has greatly diminished which is causing pain to present in my knee and in my back too.

A nerve test was endured today as well just so we can pinpoint a more precise diagnosis. (This entailed lots of needle prodding in my lower back, legs, and the bottom of my foot). As suspected, some nerves aren’t firing well and/or incorrectly and some are damaged. What does this mean? Well, I just need more time to heal. Nothing can fix the issues other than time so no training for at least 4-8 months. I can swim some, do the elliptical up to 30 minutes a couple times per week, and walk for now. I’ll also be getting various types of therapy from my doctor including stretching, core exercises, neurological exercises, and maybe a couple of adjustments here and there as we need to deter all the scar tissue and muscles from getting tight.

There are a few other options to consider along the way, surgery is the last one, which I’m hoping to, and probably will, avoid. So I just need to continue on this path of inactivity in order to heal, something with which I am completely unfamiliar and uncomfortable. It’s not like I’ve only been told to not to run, not to bike, or not to do most activities. I’ve been told to totally change my lifestyle; no training, little working out, both of which mean a lot less eating too, all of which is very difficult for me. It messes with my head, my body, and my hormones. Feeling & being lethargic is foreign and no fun at all. Although I’ve pretty much swallowed this pill, it’s not always easy to be patient and optimistic. In the end, I know what I have to do and I will do it. There is no pushing through this. Tick tock tick tock…

Ironically, Scott is in a similar boat as he’s been struggling with plantar fasciitis for, well, years. He pushed through this year though, with the help of a cortisone shot, in order to run the Boston marathon. Luckily, he did awesome there, but now he’s paying the expected price.   He was put in a boot for a couple weeks and will see his doctor for a check-up in a couple days. It’s not feeling much better yet, but we’ll find out his options soon.

So there you have it, we’re both couch potatoes this summer! At least we’re making the most of it with more travel, more summer nights on the patio, and more time with family and friends.

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Plan E: Part II

Back to the ‘knee’ thing and why I’m not competing. The knee is not really the issue, it’s just where the pain is presenting due to a former back injury,  a foot issue, and lack of balance. The latter stems from issues with an ear canal.  All of theses can be rectified and I’m working with a doctor who does all of his own treatments which include a multitude of things from stem, massage, functional exercises, stretching, balance work, etc.  I’m also working with Janet Smith-Leet, a bio-mechanics coach, who has helped me tremendously in the past with other issues too.

I think what’s hard about all this too as I’ve always listened to my body and I’ve always taken time off between seasons as a big picture goal is longevity in this sport.  Last year I took 2 months off, the year before I took 4 months completely off. And, my running history really isn’t that long in the scheme of things.  I’ve only done so consistently for about 12 years.  Although I started competing in ’97, I was a summer-only athlete for my first several years. I  only swam year round, I biked and ran maybe 4-5 months of the year.

I’m swimming in thoughts as to what I can do this summer.  Hmmm, speaking of swimming, perhaps I’ll pimp myself out for doing the swimming leg on triathlon relays.  Let me know if you’re interested!

 

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