Driven for Success

Successful people are not gifted; they just work hard, then succeed on purpose.

– G.K. Nielson

One of my favorite authors is Malcolm Gladwell.  He is a unique man with an afro that wrote several great books, including Outliers, an intriguing look into success and how some of the most famous humans have achieved greatness.  Surprisingly through, he does not speak about the accomplishments of the individual outliers such as The Beatles and Bill Gates, but rather to HOW they became successful.  Their accomplisments we not solely due to talent or genetic gifts, but opportunity, environment, resources, and sheer time spent engaged in their craft. I often think about the power of opportunity and resources in my own life. I am a working mother of three kids, two of which are foster kids. (This adds a whole other aspect to the responsibilities of parenting that I never imagined).  We have limited financial resources and often struggle to keep afloat.  My wife and I both have hobbies that are not cheap, but they bring us great joy and help us be healthy models for our children.  I have a wonderful life!

But one thing that stands out about Gladwell’s stories is that the individuals in the book have an unyielding amount of drive and passion.  One does not spend 10,000 practicing the piano, programming computers, or writing stories because they want to get better.  It is because they do not feel alive without that one thing.  Now, I’m not saying I have one thing in my life that I live for….but I do have passion for triathlon…otherwise 4 am would not seem so exciting. I also understand that I do not have the time to train like a professional nor do I have the resources.  I support a family of 5 and that will always take priority.  But that does not mean that I do not continue to set reachable goals and work towards my own successes, as small or great as they may be.  When I do accomplish goals, it is because I have set my mind and worked hard.  I am not gifted, I am driven.

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TRI FAST for Stroke and Returning to NYC

Each year, I like to designate a race for fundraising and charity. Last year, I participated in the NYC Triathlon as a member of the Autism Speaks Team.  I raised over $2,300 and as a whole, the 11 member team raised over $26,000!  I documented the race journey in a video, you can watch here:  https://vimeo.com/102575538 .  The experience was phenomenal and something I hoped to repeat in the near future.

With that hope in mind, I began searching for a new fundraising opportunity.  I began to brainstorm on organizations that impacted my life and those around me the most.  I ran through a laundry list of diseases and problems in the world. None seemed personal enough.

Until…

A bike ride (all good ideas come during a bike session…something about the cyclic motion of the legs that my mind seems to mimic like a hamster on a wheel) I came up with a brilliant idea.

There are people in the world that work to make a difference, not just in their own lives, but for the greater good of the human race.  They give so much of their lives that we often forget about their sacrifice and hardships.  For me, this person is one of my closest friends, Victoria.  The label “friend” is not an accurate descriptor, she is family or as she calls it, “framily”  Last year, she and her wife, Christy, took on the state of Virginia in a class action lawsuit, fighting for equal rights of same-sex couples and the right to marry. Nearly a year of their lives were dedicated to this effort.  Press conferences, phone calls, interviews, more press conferences, court date after court date after court date.   Not to exclude lovely bouts of hate mail. All their efforts and sacrifices resulted in a victory that changed the lives of so many couples in many states….their fight changed my life.  Because of them, I am legally married in my home state and with that, I am equal to my neighbors.  I cannot thank them enough.

So during this bike ride, I decided to dedicate my charity race this year to Victoria, who in the past couple years, suffered a near fatal stroke.  Had this disaster resulted in an unimaginable fatality, I’m not sure where the state of same-sex marriage would be for the state of Virginia and West Virginia.  Furthermore, I’m not sure my life would be as interesting, nor would I be so inspired be a positive impact on this world.

So I’m proud to announce that this year, I will be teaming up with my inspirational friend, Victoria, to raise funds for the National Stoke Association. And as luck my have it, I will return to NYC on July 19th to participate in the NYC Triathlon once again, but this time, racing for the National Stroke Association team and spreading knowledge about stoke, symptoms, and prevention!

national-stroke-awareness

Breaking Free from Pain and Prescriptions

About 8 months ago I began to have some significant GI distress.  The pain presented in the mid/upper section of my abdomen and initially, occurred a couple times a week at night after eating certain foods.  I visited a doctor and was prescribed antacid, which I took.  The pain only intensified and became more frequent.  Within a month it was occurring 2-3 times a day, every day, and so painful that I was throwing up after hours of being hunched over in the bathroom. One afternoon, I couldn’t take it any more.  I had my wife drive me to the ER….where they recommended I see a GI doctor (which I had already scheduled two weeks prior).  I left the ER with more medication – one to coat my stomach before I ate and another to relieve pain.  I took both as prescribed.  All along I had been keeping a food journal which produced no significant trends in food sensitivities or times of day that pain occurred.   For a couple weeks, the symptoms seemed to subside, mainly because of the medications.

It was about mid August when I hopped in my car to head to North Carolina to meet up with the rest of my family, who had taken a week long vacation.  About two hours into the drive I stopped off in at a pit stop to give my dog Kona a water/potty break.  I bent over to pick up her water bowl and immediately after standing up right, I had a blurry spot in one eye and the left side of me body was heavy and difficult to control.  I shuffled back to my car and began to text my wife that something strange was happening.  Within minutes the fingers on my left hand were numb and the numbness began to travel up my arm to my head, down to my abdomen, to my legs and toes.  The numbness never stayed in one stop, it continuously moved, crawling all over the left side of my body.  Then I began to have trouble texting and speaking.  I could read just fine, but trying to convey what I wanted to say was impossible.  I tried texting my family and friends, some texts being successful, others not so much. And amongst all the terror, I developed a very intense headache.

It took me 45 minutes to call 911.  And even then, I couldn’t tell them where I was.

It was by far the scariest moment of my life.  My mom, brother, and friend Victoria drove long distances to sit with me in the ER, get my car from the rest stop, and rescue poor Kona from animal control.  All the while, my wife was stuck in NC without a car of her own and very poor cell reception.  And in the end…it was a migraine….a migraine!

But why?  I had never had a migraine before. Ever!  Turns out,migraines are one of the side effects of the medications I was taking.  I was beyond frustrated.  Pain brought on more pain which brought on more meds.  Pain meds for the stomach, pain meds for migraines, anti nausea meds because pain meds caused me severe nausea.  I was over it.  I had become some pill popping manic and I hated every second of it.  I was paralyzed by pain and prescriptions.

Eventually, I was able to stop taking the medications.  All my GI symptoms disappeared before my appointment with the GI doctor.  She said to come back if the symptoms reappear.  And guess what?

They’re back…

About a month and a half ago, the same pain began to present in the same way.  As you may guess from my previous experience, I did not immediately scramble to make a doctors appointment.  I did, however, scramble for my computer.  I began to search my symptoms and natural cures.  The one thing that continued to pop up: The Autoimmune Paleo Diet.  Now, I have been trained to have a fair amount of skepticism in what I read, but the more I delved into this diet….rather lifestyle, the more I wanted to give it a shot.

In a nutshell:

“The autoimmune protocol was derived from the recent research indicating that autoimmune disease stems from a problem with intestinal permeability (or “leaky gut”), instead of the commonly assumed infection that resulted in autoimmunity. Simply put, when a person has leaky gut, irritation in the gut lining causes the tight junctions in the intestinal barrier to let unwanted molecules (food, toxins, bacteria) into the bloodstream. All the foods avoided on the autoimmune protocol are those that have been shown to irritate the gut or cause increased permeability in the gut. If you want to dig in to the science behind the autoimmune protocol, check out Sarah Ballantyne’s book – The Paleo Approach.” Mickey Trescott from http://autoimmune-paleo.com

Now, I don’t know if I have an autoimmune disorder…I don’t know what I have. But I do know my stomach and GI System as a whole is not healthy; evident by multiple a week stomach aches.  And I don’t know if this will cure my symptoms, but I do know that doctors prescribed me medications without running any test or having a definitive diagnosis.  And putting healthier foods into my body sounds like a much better idea than shoveling some pills down my throat.

So, pretty much, I have to cut out a ton of foods including

-eggs
-nuts
-seeds (including cocoa, coffee, and seed-based spices)
-nighshades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, and the spices derived from them)
-alcohol
-NSAIDs
-excess fructose (more than 20g/day)
-potential gluten cross-reactive foods
-non nutritive sweeteners (including stevia)
-emulsifiers, thickeners, and other food additives

Wait…NO COFFEE….NO CHOCOLATE!  Wouldn’t it be easier to just take a pill…..you would think but after this summer…I’ll try this first.

Sarah Ballantyne from thepaleomom.com outlines these food to eat:

  • organ meat and offal (aim for 5 times per week, the more the better)–read more here.
  • fish and shellfish (wild is best, but farmed is fine) (aim for at least 3 times per week, the more the better)–read more here and here.
  • vegetables of all kinds, as much variety as possible and the whole rainbow, aim for 8-14 cups per day
    • Green vegetables
    • Colorful vegetables and fruit (red, purple, blue, yellow, orange, white)
    • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, kale, turnips, arugula, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, watercress, mustard greens, etc.)
    • Sea vegetables (excluding algae like chlorella and spirulina which are immune stimulators)
  • quality meats (grass-fed, pasture-raised, wild as much as possible) (poultry in moderation due to high omega-6 content unless you are eating a ton of fish)
  • quality fats (pasture-raised/grass-fed animal fats [rendered or as part of your meat], fatty fish, olive, avocado, coconut, palm [not palm kernel])
  • fruit (keeping fructose intake between 10g and 20 g daily)
  • probiotic foods (fermented vegetables or fruit, kombucha, water kefir, coconut milk kefir, coconut milk yogurt, supplements)–read about them here and here.
  • glycine-rich foods (anything with connective tissue, joints or skin, organ meat, and bone broth)

Anyway, this diet is only supposed to last for 30-60 days…maybe 90.  Then you begin to reintroduce foods as you are able to tolerate.  Sometimes it takes months and years to reintroduce all the foods, some foods I may never be able to eat again.   I’m still preparing the begin the diet, as this is not something you can start on a whim.  It is either all or nothing.  If the diet is not followed 100%, then the potential benefits cannot be reached.

I know there will be critics of my choice, but it is my intention to demonstrate how healing can come from controlling what we put in our bodies, not simply adding pill after pill to cover up symptom after symptom.    For those of you with similar stories, I wanted to chronicle this journey of healing and restoration.

A Photo Training Update

I can’t believe it has been more than three weeks since my last update.  Illness and the holidays can really take a toll on your body and well being.  So instead of writing a lot of hullabaloo, here is the past few weeks in pictures 🙂

IMG_8752Spent nearly a week on the road for work.  This little hotel gym really made me miss home.

IMG_8806For Thanksgiving, we traveled to Holden Beach, NC.  Came down with a vicious chest cold and lost my voice, but it seemed less bothersome when I could look out a window and see this.

IMG_8845A little trot on Turkey day with the family.IMG_8853Followed by an overindulgence of whipped cream.

IMG_8864Tried to go for a swim in the cold ocean still with a hint of a chest cold = FAIL

IMG_8873Road my bike instead and stopped at the grocery store for some laundry soap.  The brought on some odd looks as my shoes click clacked through the store.IMG_8863 Post ride meal –> awful stomach ache –> I will not eat avocado again. 😦

IMG_8889Got plenty of rest

IMG_8799And enjoyed some much needed time with the little man.IMG_8917Had a running analysis completed and discovered there are tons of problems with my form stemming from underlying weaknesses. I now run with a metronome. IMG_8937Enjoyed a 90 minute ride and am finally feeling back to 100%.  Woot Woot!

Achieving a Goal

When I was 25 years old and was bitten by the tri bug, I set a goal to complete a Half Ironman before I turned 30 years old.  Three months ago I turned 29.  Therefore, it is crunch time!

My uncle lives in St. Croix and my wife has been dying to visit.  I’ve also been dying to conquer The Beast.  It all fell into place! So in May, my wife and I will be traveling to St. Croix to visit family, celebrating our 5 year wedding anniversary, and she will watch me defeat The Beast (while she drinks on the beach) and support me in accomplishing the goal she witnessed me make 5 years ago.

w97315 So every climb in training  from here until May, becomes The Beast in my mind. I can hardly contain my excitement.

Week 2 Summary

Week 2 started off strong.
It panned out like this:

Monday: 1 hour Bike session (spin class) focusing on strength

Tuesday:  1 hour strength swim session (see earlier post for actual workout)- This was awesome and I could have kept going, but work beckoned!

Wednesday: Strength Training and Bike session (Spin class) focusing on endurance

Thursday: 40 minute run focusing on endurance.  It was cold and dark…I loved every second.  I started the run listening to music and it quickly became irritating.  I ripped the headphones out and enjoyed the simplicity of my feet hitting the ground and my breathe in the cold night air.

IMG_8727

Friday: Sinus Pressure and Congestion….Nooooooooooo

Saturday: More Sinus Pressure and Congestion….so I head to the gym and tried to work it out with a 1 hour bike/run brick workout.  For the bike I used a Sufferfest video (which held true to it’s name) followed by a quick 15 minute treadmill run. The plan was to run 30 minutes, but I quickly lost energy and still wasn’t feeling well.  So in an effort to listen to my body, I opted for some strength work.

Sunday: Down for the count….working through the cold did not help.  Its time to rest!

Honey Stinger Sponsorship…Hopefully

Slider-Gels

I just sent in my application to be sponsored by Honey Stinger for 2015.  This is by far my favorite company and product to use when racing.  The natural ingredients burn clean and leave me feeling great during a rough ride or run. If you haven’t tried their products….give it a try.  The waffles are incredible!

 

Hopefully they are willing to sponsor a relatively new age grouper!

“It’s time to see what I can do”

“It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through”

Yes I just quoted Let It Go. It happened….moving forward…

 

This day marks the beginning to a long road to new accomplishments and personal acheivement.   It is the first training day in the 4 week preparation period.   After a 2 am feeding with the little monster, the alarm rang at 4:50.  One snooze (out of habit) and I was out of bed to spin class.  My body was cursing me for the falling off the grid for a couple months to “recover”, but mentally I was amped…ready to push towards 70.3.  Day one down….many more to come….

Bring.It.On!

Just Run

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Now I don’t take selfies, but this picture is true for a lot of athletes these day.  We often get dragged down by technology.  Sometimes just running without all the technological necessities is liberating.  Give it a try!