Paths

We all have different paths we’d like to take during our lifetime. Some are chosen with intent, others are forced upon us. Whatever the case, most, if not all, will be bumpy on occasion. That’s life. The Bradbury path just made a major detour as Scott and I decided to take separate ones so he moved out a few months ago. It was certainly not an easy decision, especially with kids in the mix, but it was the right one for us. As we told the girls, we’ll always be a family, our structure will just be different. Going forward, our priority will continue to be the health and well-being of our kids. It’ll be a long tough road with many adjustments, but we are committed to setting good examples for our girls and ensuring they have every opportunity to get through this as best they can. We are fortunate to have much support from both families and many friends.

With a heavy heart,
Mary

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Weight

Weight. It can be such a tough issue to discuss, especially with our daughters. I vowed a long time ago never to even use the word around them. I know my girls will hear about it away from home, they already have. (Lord knows we adults hear plenty about it too). A classmate shamed Court a couple years ago (yes, in 2nd grade) about eating bread. She didn’t touch any for two weeks afterwards. Last year some stranger at the grocery store told me I shouldn’t be buying yogurt as it so bad for me. Both girls have called their thighs fat. It’s so sad and frustrating as they are very fit girls. All we talk about in our home is health, never weight or how anyones bodies look. Our focus is on kindness, hard work, love, and laughter. Body shaming, whether it’s directed at ourselves or others, is a waste of time and only kills confidence. Enjoy what your body allows you to do.

It’s rare I write anything pertaining to this subject, but I found a great article which explains much of what I feel/how I think. (I also posted it on FB yesterday). Anyway, here it is:

How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one: Don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works.

Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight.

If you think your daughter’s body looks amazing, don’t say that. Here are some things you can say instead:

“You look so healthy!” is a great one.

Or how about, “You’re looking so strong.”

“I can see how happy you are — you’re glowing.”

Better yet, compliment her on something that has nothing to do with her body.

Don’t comment on other women’s bodies either. Nope. Not a single comment, not a nice one or a mean one.

Teach her about kindness towards others, but also kindness towards yourself.

Don’t you dare talk about how much you hate your body in front of your daughter, or talk about your new diet. In fact, don’t go on a diet in front of your daughter. Buy healthy food. Cook healthy meals. But don’t say, “I’m not eating carbs right now.” Your daughter should never think that carbs are evil, because shame over what you eat only leads to shame about yourself.

Encourage your daughter to run because it makes her feel less stressed. Encourage your daughter to climb mountains because there is nowhere better to explore your spirituality than the peak of the universe. Encourage your daughter to surf, or rock climb, or mountain bike because it scares her and that’s a good thing sometimes.

Help your daughter love soccer or rowing or hockey because sports make her a better leader and a more confident woman. Explain that no matter how old you get, you’ll never stop needing good teamwork. Never make her play a sport she isn’t absolutely in love with.

Prove to your daughter that women don’t need men to move their furniture.

Teach your daughter how to cook kale.

Teach your daughter how to bake chocolate cake made with six sticks of butter.

Pass on your own mom’s recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Pass on your love of being outside.

Maybe you and your daughter both have thick thighs or wide ribcages. It’s easy to hate these non-size zero body parts. Don’t. Tell your daughter that with her legs she can run a marathon if she wants to, and her ribcage is nothing but a carrying case for strong lungs. She can scream and she can sing and she can lift up the world, if she wants.

Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to mobilize her beautiful soul.
~ Sarah Koppelkam

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Baby steps

Baby steps…they can be a painfully slow process, but they are positive nonetheless. Fortunately, I have taken many this year. In March, I was allowed (per my dynamics coach, Janet Smith-Leet) to run 15 seconds at a time with 1:45 rest…10 times. Since then, I’ve slowly increased the duration and decreased the rest. I slowly grew to a whopping 1:15 on and: 45 rest, 14 times, then about 6 min on, 3 off, and then a straight run of 17 minutes!!! I did that a handful of times without any pain so now I’m up to 6:42 on/2:18 rest!!! Woohoo!!!  (With two years out of running, this feels like a really long time)!  The initial durations sound silly, I know, but I’m thankful for them, as I’ve had to take some steps back as well. Since March, I’ve had a few sporadic flare-ups in my back, which deterred me from running for several days at a time. So in my eyes, Janet was very smart in her approach to getting me back on my feet. Keep in mind; I worked with her doing various exercise for several months before I was even allowed to run, so it’s been an incredibly long road. Most recover from surgeries much more quickly.   I am grateful and thankful to have Janet in my corner. She is patient, kind, funny, and incredibly supportive. She knows how to be a proactive coach rather than a reactive one, which is very unique in this day and age. So many coaches encourage and praise those who push through pain rather than having athletes take time off, let them completely heal, and come back stronger. You see it at every age, even with those who do take time off. They dive right back in and within a short time,  are injured again and don’t understand why. Typically they didn’t allow ample time to fully heal (there is a big difference between feeling good and being fully healed), they ramped up the training to quickly, and/or they didn’t fix the mechanical issue, which was the impetus of the injury. The road back from an injury can be a difficult one, but if done correctly, the longevity in sport will be much greater. For me, although I would give so much to compete again, my goal is simply to be healthy and enjoy doing the things which my body allows sans pain.  If that means working out here and there without a goal, so be it.  If I ever can race again in triathlons, it’ll just be icing on the cake.

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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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