Running and Powerwalking!

Running and Powerwalking!
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Friday, July 31, 2015

My Lake Placid IRONMAN experience!

It is now Day 5 after the Lake Placid IRONMAN. I’m starting to feel a little less emotional so I thought I would take this time to share my experience. But first, I want to express my sincere gratitude to MMRF for their unbelievable support the days leading up to the event and especially on race day.  They went way above and beyond the call of duty with their attention to every little detail an athlete and supporter needed for a very long day. This included cheering zones that were located on the most crucial areas of the course as well as placing MMRF volunteers everywhere!  The cheering zones were well supplied with food, beverages, chairs and coverage from the hot sun for MMRF patients, more MMRF volunteers and family members.  These amazing supporters, who all wore orange MMRF t-shirts were a constant reminder for me of my “why”.  I could not have chosen to work with a better organization that is working so hard to find a cure for cancer.

This event became more than an IRONMAN to me. It became less about putting in the long hours of training and the sacrifices that came along with it.  It became less about overcoming fatigue, discouragement, injuries, pain and sometimes lack of motivation. It also became less about trying to reach “time” goals for each segment and it even became less about crossing the finish line. Instead, this IRONMAN became an entity bigger than myself. An entity bigger than I could have ever expected or dreamed of.  It became more and more about the patients and the families impacted by Myeloma and other forms of cancer. But it also developed another entity. When I posted my “Prayer List” idea, (to receive names of individuals to pray for while I trained for the IM and then on Race day) I was not sure what kind of response I would receive. I was pleasantly surprised and touched by the emails and the texts that came in daily. My prayer list started to grow and each training session took on a new meaning. I had a mission and that mission was to pray for each person’s name that was given to me! Including more Myeloma patients.

As I carried out my mission, I discovered that my training sessions became less daunting and more fun! No longer did I look at biking 4-6 hours followed by a 30 minute run, or running 3-4 hours or swimming 1 hour as a chore or a very long training day. Instead, I saw it as an opportunity to use my passion and love for training, being active and fit for a higher and more meaningful purpose.  On race day, I had a copy of my prayer list at each transition (swim, bike and run) just in case I became delirious and couldn’t remember any names! But I didn’t need the list. The names were already in my head and heart and I sent prayers all throughout the race.  

So, what about the race itself?  My biggest challenge was the swim and not because I am not a good swimmer! I did have a wet suit malfunction but the challenge was that it was absolutely chaotic!  With over 2700 people all trying to swim in the same direction for 2.4 miles (2 loops around Mirror Lake) it is no wonder there was chaos.  But I found people to be extremely aggressive and it seemed like no one knew how to “sight” properly!  They were swimming all over the lake even though they had lines, buoys, and volunteers to guide us. I was head locked a few times and swam over quite often.  I think I spent more time trying to protect myself and dodge the kicks, pulls and head butts than actually swim! But I made it and I finished strong. No bruises (well, except for the scars on my neck from my wetsuit’s velcroe)

Next came the 112 mile bike. (2 loops through the Adirondacks)  After the wetsuit strippers (yes, they have volunteers who actually help take off wetsuits from the athletes! Interested in volunteering now?)  I ran to the transition tent. Everything went pretty smoothly here. My only challenge was that the weather started to really heat up and the bike tent felt like a sauna. So much so that when I put on my sunglasses, they fogged up immediately and stayed that way for almost an hour. But the transition was not the only area that was hot. The temperature started to rise and the forecasted rain and clouds disappeared.  

Lake Placid is known for its hilly terrain and with the first 6 miles a steady ascent, 30 miles of steady rolling hills and the last 12 miles all uphill, bike incidents were to be expected.  I saw several athletes with flat tires, blown wheels and witnessed a few accidents.  Luckily, I made it through with no incidents just fatigue. The first loop I felt great but the second loop I had to dig deep. But what kept me going during my lowest moments were Craig and Angela. Two Myeloma patients who gave a testimony at the MMRF reception dinner the night before the race. Craig, who I am very blessed to now call my friend, has had Myeloma for 8.5 years (life expectancy is 2.5 years) and has undergone 74 rounds of Chemotherapy. 74 ROUNDS OF CHEMO! How could I even think of complaining when he has suffered so much and I so little? Angela has had Myeloma for over 2 years and hearing her tell her story of how she, a single mom, had to tell her two teenage boys she had an incurable disease with a short life expectancy, you better believe my two little legs kept on pedaling while I counted my blessings!  It’s quite amazing when you stop thinking of yourself and think about other people who are going through struggles of some sort or who are facing illness and sometimes death, how your own situation doesn’t seem so bad.

Next came the 26.2 mile run.  In the transition tent, I changed into another pair of bike shorts, put on my trainers, threw on my baseball cap and fuel belt, guzzled lots of water and then I was off! Was I ever glad that I chose to wear my fuel belt. I would never have made it to each aid station if I did carry my own fuel. The heat was beyond brutal at this point. I saw so many athletes bonking from dehydration and other issues which encouraged me to stay properly fueled and hydrated. I was successful but my knees took a beating on the hills on the second loop around. So I chose to be safe, ran easy or powerwalked, enjoyed the beautiful scenery, chatted with other athletes, and cheered on my fellow teammates as we passed each other.  But the best part of the run was the last mile. As I made it up the final hill (yes, there was a nice long steep ascent before the last 2 miles) and turned toward the last leg of the race, I was overwhelmed by the cheers from the crowds that were lined up along the run course. I felt like a rock star! Suddenly my knees didn’t hurt so much and my pace picked up even faster. Then I saw my husband and best friend. When I saw my husband, I felt a huge need and desire to stop and show my appreciation for all of his support and love throughout my journey to the Lake Placid Ironman. So I stopped to hug him. If I had the ability to stop time for just a little bit, that would have been the moment. I didn't want it to end!  But I had a race to finish and other supporters to thank.

As I continued toward the last turn around point, two wonderful events happened. First, I met Christine. She and I were beyond fatigued. Our legs were exhausted and the turnaround seemed like another marathon away! So we chatted to keep our minds off the pain. This was Christine’s first IM and she was blown away by how challenging the course was.  She didn’t think she had it in her to run the last .2 miles. After hearing that, the Personal Trainer came out in me. I encouraged her to pick up her pace to powerwalk and then as we came to the last turn I said to her “Now we run!” She was hesitate at first but she did and just as we went around the final bend, we saw the finish line. Then the second wonderful event happened. I saw Natalie walking. Natalie was from my home town (Montreal) and she and I biked together on the course sharing training stories and encouraging each other.  I was so happy to see her! I reached out for her arm and said “Let’s go! We are all going to cross the finish line together!” As the finish line approached, I felt an overwhelming feeling of peacefulness, love and gratitude. I worked so hard to get to the finish line and now I was about to cross it!  But then something strange happened. Something that I would not have expected from my extremely competitive self. I started to slow down and told Christine to keep going. This was her moment and I wanted her to cross the finish line alone and hear Mike Reilly call her name. As I watched her cross the finish line, I turned to Natalie.  She was right behind me so I knew if I crossed the finish line, she would have her moment too. So I crossed over and heard the words “Donna Foster-Larocque, you are now an IRONMAN!”

I don’t remember much after crossing the finish line. I was delirious with excitement, happiness and amazement. But my wonderful husband, my super amazing mom and my best friend were right at the finish line to congratulate me and to confirm that I DID IT!  But I wasn’t alone in my journey and I didn’t feel like I crossed the finish line on my own. I crossed with my family, friends, the MMRF team, my new friends through MMRF, the people I met along the way through my training, the Volunteers, the names of the individuals on my prayer list and my Dad, whose passing inspired me to get involved with MMRF.  

So now the question is, what’s next? Stay tuned. J

Stay active and anything is possible! 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

My Mantra

It will hurt 
It will take time
It will require dedication
It will require willpower
You will need to make healthy decisions
It requires sacrifice
You will need to push your body to the max
There will be temptation
But I promise you, 
When you reach your goal, it's
(I came across this on Pinterest and have incorporated it as my mantra for my 2016 Lake Placid Ironman training!)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Are you a Potato, Egg or Coffee?

What a great story to start off a Monday morning!  I came across this on Yuri Elkaim's blog and just had to share.  Next week I will share with which one I think I am!

Once upon a time a daughter complained to her father that her
life was miserable and that she didn’t know how she was going to
make it. 
She was tired of fighting and struggling all the time. 
It seemed just as one problem was solved, another one soon
Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen... 
He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high
Once the three pots began to boil, he placed potatoes in one
pot, eggs in the second pot, and ground coffee beans in the
third pot.
He then let them sit and boil, without saying a word to his
daughter. The daughter, moaned and impatiently waited, wondering
what he was doing.
After twenty minutes he turned off the burners. He took the
potatoes out of the pot and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the
eggs out and placed them in a bowl.
He then ladled the coffee out and placed it in a cup. Turning to
her he asked. “Daughter, what do you see?”
“Potatoes, eggs, and coffee,” she hastily replied.
“Look closer,” he said, “and touch the potatoes.” 
She did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take
an egg and break it. 
After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. 
Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. Its rich aroma brought
a smile to her face.
“Father, what does this mean?” she asked.
He then explained that the potatoes, the eggs and coffee beans
had each faced the same adversity– the boiling water.
However, each one reacted differently.
The potato went in strong, hard, and unrelenting, but in boiling
water, it became soft and weak.
The egg was fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its
liquid interior until it was put in the boiling water. Then the
inside of the egg became hard.
However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were
exposed to the boiling water, they changed the water and created
something new.
“Which are you,” he asked his daughter. “When adversity knocks
on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a
coffee bean? “
The moral of the story is this…
In life, things happen around us, things happen to us, but the
only thing that truly matters is what happens within us.
Which one are you?
It’s often been said that he who faces big problems will grow
even bigger as a result of those problems.
Like with working out, your muscles change in response to the
stimulus you provide them. The heavier the weight you use, the
stronger they will become. 
In life, the more change you’re willing to experience, the more
growth that will occur.
Remember, change is neither good or bad – but it’s who you are
at the outset and who you become in the process that matters most.
Don’t fear change. Embrace it. 
What can you learn and how can you grow from this experience. 
Sure it might be daunting at first but you can get through this. 
You will get through this. And you will be a bigger, better
version of yourself on the other side.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Losing Weight: 4 Things that work and 4 Things that don't work

I love to come across articles that really send a powerful message! But what I love most is when an article displays a great sense of humor. I laughed out loud as I read #2 of the 4 things that work when losing weight. I am definitely going to test that one out with my husband!

On a more serious note, I am sure we have all experienced 1 or maybe all 4 of the points noted as to what does not work when trying to lose weight. In fact, I am sure we have all done #3. The challenge is to not give up living but to try to live more healthy.

I hope you enjoy this article from the "Psychology of Eating" website as much as I did.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Is sugar really that bad for you?

Finally! There is hope that Spring is around the corner! I don't know about you, but I was starting to go stir crazy from such a long winter. I also noticed that with the cold weather I started to crave more of my old comfort foods which meant more SUGAR! But I stayed strong and managed my sweet tooth. How? By choosing healthier foods when my craving hit. ie. fresh fruit, dates, kefir with organic maple syrup and nuts and opting for chocolate bars with 70% cocoa or higher.  

Coincidentally, I came across this article today regarding sugar, "11 Weird Things Sugar is Doing to Your Body." Not only does it give facts and studies regarding the effects of sugar, it offers suggestions as to how to prevent possible diseases and symptoms from having too much sugar. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Encourage self love

Encourage self love. What an amazing concept! But is it possible in this day and age to encourage self love when we struggle to love ourselves AND our bodies?  We are constantly bombarded by images of what social media considers beautiful (which usually means wearing size 0, sporting bright white teeth, having flawless skin and shiny hair).  Unfortunately, we tend to compare ourselves to these images and as a result, we often begin to develop negative feelings about ourselves. So how do we overcome these negative feelings and start loving ourselves, inside and out?

Below is an article about one woman's journey toward self love. It's called, "Seriously, let's end the war with our bodies."  I loved her story for a few reasons. One, I could totally relate! As a personal trainer, I am constantly aware of my own body image because of the industry I am in. Two, I am training for my second Ironman so I am even more aware of my body because I need to fuel it properly for energy. I also need to train "smart" (this includes rest, recovery, interval training, cardio training and strength training) to ensure I develop stronger leaner muscles while preventing injury.  Third, I loved her strategy of how to encourage self love!

1. Start by loving yourself just the way you are.  This means loving everything about you and your body! i.e.  Your wrinkles, your graying hair, your love handles, your thighs, your arms, your feet, your hips, your chest (no matter what size it is!), your freckles, your nose, your chin.......

2. Engage in positive and uplifting conversations about yourself.  In other words, STOP the negative and depleting self -talk.  Try this little experiment.  Say something negative about yourself and exam how you feel. (You can either be in a conversation with yourself or with someone)  Now say something positive about yourself and exam how you feel.  Do you feel a difference? You may discover that you have more energy, you feel good, and you feel more alive. So why not continue to have those feelings and talk positive about you?

3. If you hear someone else talking negatively about themselves, turn it around.  Tell them something positive about themselves instead or get them to say something positive about themselves.

4.  If you are giving a compliment to someone and they deflect it, let them know that your compliment is genuine!

I challenge you to give at least one of these steps a try.  It just might make a difference in how you see yourself and how you can help encourage self love.

Stay active and anything is possible!

PS. Here's the link!

Monday, January 12, 2015

New Year, New Goals!

It truly is amazing how fast time goes by. I am now in Week 7 of my Ironman training and already we are 12 days into the new year. I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays and were able to spend quality time with family, friends and yourself!

As we head into a new year, I am sure you have been overloaded by social media on topics such as  detoxing, cleanses, weight loss, and goal setting. I know I have and I felt myself beginning to stress out thinking about what my goals were going to be for 2015!  Then my husband forwarded an article to me called "Happy New Year! 12 Steps to Thriving in 2015. " It was written by Arianna Huffington, President and Editor-in-Chief at the Huffington Post and was posted on LinkedIn.  I was blown away by her article.  It was the first one that I read this year that made me stop and re-evaluate what I wanted to accomplish in 2015.   Her article made me reflect not on my financial or fitness goals, but rather on my personal goals.  Her 12 steps were so simple and basic that I ended up changing mine to incorporate not one, but all of hers! Here is an overview of what I took out of her 12 steps.

1. Sleep more
2. Move your body
3. Meditate every day for at least 5 minutes
4. Let go of what does not serve you
5. Start a gratitude list
6. Turn off your devices at a specific time each day
7. Focus on your breath for 10 seconds
8. Pick an image that ignites the joy in you. (aka; Think of your happy place!)
9. Don't judge yourself or others and be more forgiving of yourself and others
10. Be kind and giving
11. Take the time to make a connection with others. (aka: Make eye contact)
12. Share your talents/skills within the community

It has been 10 days since I've read this article and already I have incorporated not one, but all of these 12 steps. Of course there are a few that I still need to work on such as #9, but I know with time I will get better as I continue to practice this every day.

As for the other 11 steps, they are simple and they really are simple! I mean, how hard can it be to go to bed earlier at night, even if it's just 15 minutes earlier? How lazy am I to not take the stairs instead of the elevator to move my body more? How busy am I that I can't afford to take 5 minutes to meditate or focus on my breath for 10 seconds? How selfish can I be to not write at least one thing that I am grateful for at the end of the day? How addicted am I to my devices that I can't shut them off or keep them in another room when I go to bed? How great do I feel when I think of my happy place, especially when I am stressed? How absorbed can I be to not be able to smile, or say hello to someone I pass by or make eye contact as I place my coffee order or open the door for someone? These are the questions I asked myself as I read her article and thanks to Arianne Huffington, I feel I am off to a great start for 2015 and I hope that you are too!

Stay active and anything is possible!

If you would like to read her article, I have listed the link below.

Happy reading and happy New Year!