Monday, October 17, 2016

My lesson in humility

It's election season. For some reason elections bring out nastiness in people. Everyone thinks they are right, that they are the experts, and that anyone that disagrees with them is wrong.

News flash: we are all wrong. There is no right answer. The best we can do is vote who we think is best for the country. We all have different opinions and shouldn't shame someone because they don't agree with it. We shouldn't stereotype groups of people. Ignorant republicans. Foolish liberals. Crazy third party voters. I am not saying I don't do this - I am guilty of it too. I have been holding back a lot this election cycle though. However, things just seem to be getting worse. I get tired of hearing "it's your fault if so and so wins." No it's not. That completely falls on the candidate. If you don't win someone's vote, then that is on you. "Well they have no chance of winning, so why would you be stupid and vote for them?" Since when did we have to vote for the person who will win? Wasn't our country built on our right to choose? Shouldn't we be able to choose who we feel would be best for president without being shamed? Let the politicians do the insulting and let us respect other people for their opinions.

We all need a lesson in compassion and humility. I personally need to remember to be a nicer human being.

Election cycles always remind me of my time in the hospital for bipolar disorder. In 2008 I was in the hospital for the election. I lost a lot of choice that week, but we got to vote in the hospital. It was the one choice I made for myself during that time. We all gathered in the common room to watch the results and *GASP* had civil discussions about points we agreed and disagreed on. It was nice to be around people that were willing and able to talk about issues without insulting each other. Maybe it was because we were such a diverse group of people thrown into this situation in the lowest point in our lives. We had been stripped bare of basic choices like when we slept (curfew hours and woken up randomly for blood tests), when we took meds. We were carefully watched when we had access to razors for showering, needles for crafts, paintbrushes, things with something we think of as everyday choices - it was watched. Even our food was typically handheld or eaten with a spoon. We discussed things like why we wanted to die, why we had harmed ourselves, and other things that making talking about mental illness uncomfortable. I may be very open about my disease, but some things I do keep to myself. It is an ugly enough disease. It's hard to fight people when you have no fight left. You learn not to judge the person who is wrapped up in bandages from cutting because you are there for the same reasons or the girl that is rail thin and withdrawing from heroin and turned to stripping to fund her drug habit. She was my room mate. You feel for the person who is on the phone in tears because none of her family members want to "deal with her problems" anymore. Regardless, that little hallway became our safe-haven from the ugliness of the outside world. You have spent time with the "outcasts" of our society and you realize you too, are an outcast. And you come to terms with it. It's what makes you unique and you are never the same after you come out of this experience.
I didn't keep in touch with anyone after my stay, but I remember their faces. I remember their stories. I wish I had.

While in the psych ward I developed a compassion and understanding of my fellow human beings that I didn't have before. I was humbled. When I went in, I tended to be judgemental and looked down on those that didn't agree with me. This isn't to say I still don't have those moments, but I am reminding myself this election season to remember that in a country of 300 million people we won't all agree. Don't call people stupid because they don't agree with you. It hurtful. Don't be hateful. Does it honestly help anything? Does it make you feel better to put someone down like that? I know things get heated, but take a step back and realize that these are your family and friends. You know you don't agree with them on everything, but you still love them. So why does their different vote bring out insults and hate?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Norseman 2016 - it was all for a tshirt. Worth it.

Before I even get into the nitty gritty of this race, I feel like I need to preface the lead-up to my departure for Norseman. One week before I left, Pabu passed away suddenly. It left me pretty heart broken and emotionally drained. At one point, I even wanted to just stay home. It affected me deeply and I think it's because we had to euthanize him and he died in my arms. It was intense to say the least and will stick with me forever. I mean, I mastered the ugly cry that night. It was raw and guttural (did not even know I had that in me), and my cheeks were chafed from the rubbing for a few days. I'm sorry little Pabu and I miss you so much.

While I was not feeling to up to my trip, I trudged on. Norseman was a dream I couldn't give up. So on Saturday, I loaded up the Jetta and began making my way to Denver (it was WAY cheaper to fly out of Denver). I was heading up the pass out of NM when EVERY WARNING LIGHT CAME ON IN MY CAR. Uh oh. Oh crap. CRAP. I turned around and limped my car into Raton, NM. It just so happens there were no mechanics open on a Saturday. Go figure. WELL THEN. My options were pretty slim. The first was to tow back to Santa Fe for a couple grand (worth more than the car) or to get it repaired (no mechanics and it would cost more than the car was worth). Logan and I were planning on waiting at least a little while longer to buy a car, but I guess this just got moved up. So I manage to ease my car over to Ford. Luckily, I had been eyeballing the Escapes for awhile now and we are now owners of a brand new 2017 Ford Escape. Sweet. I have not even gotten to Norway yet and have already spent 30K. PERFECT.  I said goodbye to the little Jetta and loaded my crap up and finished my journey to Denver.

At this point I was starting to panic a bit and get superstitious BECAUSE bad things come in threes guys!

ALSO, before I go any further - my support crew was fantastic. My mom and Jessica were my rocks through everything that went wrong during the day and LITERALLY held me up through the finish. I had the easier job of just having to swim, bike, and run. They had to follow me the whole day providing me food, drinks, and moral support. They were amazing and seeing them every few miles kept giving me that extra push to keep going.


First, I will say that anyone that starts this race or wants to do this race has some guts. I met some fantastic and insanely tough athletes here and I learned that in the end it didn't really matter if someone got the white or black tshirt. Everyone that finishes Norseman has accomplished something very special and it is something to be proud of. I highly recommend people put this race on their bucket list. It is beautiful, rugged, and one of the hardest things you will ever do, BUT every minute of it is worth it.  I will be putting my name in again because I feel I have unfinished business and I can only hope I am lucky enough that my name is drawn again.

We arrived in Oslo on Monday before the race and stayed there for a few days before heading 5 hours west to Eidfjord, the town where the race starts. Oslo was awesome! We got to do some sight-seeing while we were there which included seeing the ski jump from the Oslo Olympics, a viking museum, the royal palace, running through sculpture gardens, precarious driving through the city center, LOT'S OF ROUNDABOUTS, and swimming in an awesome outdoor pool next to the sculpture gardens. I wish we had more time there and someday I plan on going back to be a normal tourist. We left for Eidfjord on Wednesday and took the long route to preview both the run and bike courses. I cannot tell you enough how beautiful this course was. It literally took my breath away. Of course, that could have been from seeing Zombie Hill for the first time, but we will attribute it to the beauty of the region. We ate lunch at the hotel near the finish of the race and then headed to Eidfjord by driving the bike route. The bike route has some nasty climbs, but the descents are worse. Some are very technical (HAIRPIN) and the roads are not in the greatest condition. Especially Immingfjell. Immingfjell turned out to be my nemesis for this race.

I'm coming back for you Gaustastoppen

We arrived in Eidfjord later that evening and our first glimpses of it were spectacular. The town is situated in one of the most famous fjords in Norway and it looks like something out of a storybook (we loved this word during the week). I felt like I could pretend I was on an epic journey in Lord of the Rings. 
Lord of the Rings guys

The weather was chilly, which was a nice change from the weather at home. It was nice to bust out some cold weather riding and running gear. Also, it took some getting used to the long hours of daylight. Anyway, I got all checked in on Thursday and as soon as that wristband was on, things started feeling real! I had some fantastic last workouts around the area, including an awesome race sponsored group swim - complete with coffee (my support team loved that part!) and cookies. The swim ended with us eating breakfast in our wetsuits so we could eat before it closed. That was a life goal I never knew I had. The prerace meeting was pretty fun too and a reminder of WTF DID I GET MYSELF INTO. One thing they did say and has stayed with me, is that Norseman isn't so much a race as it is an experience. Completely true - I am hoping that this wasn't a once in a lifetime opportunity - I really want the lottery gods to pick me again!

On race eve, the nerves really started hitting me. We had an early night since we had a 2:00 am wakeup for a 5:00 am race start.  I think I maybe got 3 hours of sleep, simply because I couldn't get to sleep with the nerves. I felt like I had just fallen asleep when all the alarms started going off. It was finally race day. FINALLY. I had most all my gear ready from the night before, so I ate breakfast and headed down to transition to check everything in. Transition was nice and small since this race only takes 250 people. It definitely made for a more intimate race atmosphere. Around 330 I got into my wetsuit for a 4 am boarding onto the ferry. The atmosphere on the ferry was pretty intense. Personally, I was totally geeking out that I was finally going to make the iconic Norseman ferry jump! I was also getting nervous, but the ferry jump trumped the nerves at this point. One great thing they do on the ferry is pump up the seawater so you can acclimate to the cold temperature prior to the jump, WHICH REALLY HELPS. I stood under the hose for a bit and then the ferry stopped. SQUEEEEEEE!! They opened up the hatch (is that the right word?) and I had restrain myself from jumping up and down, but we all cheered! 
 I'm somewhere jumping in

I made my way to the front and got ready to jump. Around 445ish is when they started letting us jump in and swim to the start, which was marked by a line of kayaks. I should mention that it was still darkish out and I was mad at my goggle choice of tinted goggles. Not that it mattered anyway since there were no bouys on this swim - just follow the shoreline back to the dock. This was the most beautiful swim ever. It was actually a little rough because race day weather decided to not be nice like the day before so we had some chop and wind. Also, the swim is longer than the normal 2.4 miles, but that isn't surprising since we don't follow a bouy line. Anyway, the swim was calm and I swam by myself the entire time. Not surprising since there were less than 300 competitors. I had a kayaker following me for company for a lot of it, but otherwise it was the ultimate in solitude. As I got into shore, I was informed that I was second female out - only behind the woman who would go on to win the women's race, Kari. I have to give a shout out to her because she and her husband helped us so much on route planning and helping me feel comfortable with what was to come. I was so excited to see that she had won! Fun thing about this race - there are no change tents, so deck change time! I also managed to flash people on accident pulling my wetsuit off. I should have just ridden in my wetsuit because weren't going to be dry for long. After pulling on all my gear it was off to what would be one of the more adventurous bikes I have ever had.

Pretty much everything started going wrong within 10 km on the bike and into the first big climb. My rear breaks were rubbing on my wheels. No big deal, I'll just pull off a washer and then be on my way. Right, well, I did this, but then my brake pad would not tighten back into place, so brake pad was hanging there the entire race, and yeah, rubbing was still happening. That wasn't the only thing going on. I was skipping gears a hard time shifting, so I stopped to fix that too. Welp, after that fix, I was still wondering why the hell it was still so hard to pedal and why I was cranking so hard, and I would later check my drive train to see that things were slightly bent. PERFECT. Did I mention I had them check out my bike the day before the race (I wonder if they even did)? This all happened within the first half of the bike and I lost a lot of time (and energy) and was pretty heartbroken realizing just how much it made me fall back. OH and as all of this was going on, we had the worst weather they have ever had since starting this race. 40 degrees, freezing, rain, and hail! I mean I was cold, but I think my mind was so piseed off at how my bike was going and effing hard it was to pedal that it helped me not think about the cold (small wins right)? Anyway, I knew I was out of black tshirt contention somewhere nearing the last climb of the bike and was trying to pump myself up that it would be ok and getting to the finish was the goal now. There was nothing I could do to fix what happened; shit happens. 

And so I began my ascent to Immingfjell. Maybe a quarter to halfway up Immingfjell, I felt a pop and a whole crap ton of pain in my right knee. OH CRAP. WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED?! HOLY EFFING BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP THAT HURTS! I couldn't peddle well on that side because of the pain and it kept cracking. I basically favored my left side up the climb, while trying to "spin" my right leg. Eventually I made it to the top, going so slow my mom and Jessica thought I was going to fall over. I took a potty break at the top and told them my knee popped and it really hurts, but I had decided I wanted to keep going. Luckily, that was the last of the climbing and I could spend the last part of the bike spinning out trying to get things to loosen up. Somewhere on the plataeu, while I was trying to spin things out, I felt another pop and the pain dissipated a bit. SWEET RELIEF. Well for the time being. Finally, I made it to the final descent, which just happens to be the most technical, and I seriously prayed the entire way down that my rear brake pad wouldn't fall off. My bike and I made it to T2 in one piece over 2 hours hours slower than expected.

My biggest memory of T2 was telling myself don't sit down and don't cry because I would have quite. Go through the motions and keep going. I know the knee hurts, but it's only a few miles (26.2) to go. I was pulling out every mental stop in the books. I changed out of my wet clothes, went through the motions, and got out of there. I could feel the pressure building in my knee. I knew it didn't have much left in it, so I ran as far as I could before it really started to swell and I switched into "guts" mode. People kept passing me and my moral was getting low at this point. I have never been in that situation before - worried over cutoffs, finishing at night, being last - I was embarrased. I kept thinking people would think less of me if I finished last or would laugh at how slow I was going. NO. I had to stop thinking like that. No one is going to be let down by where you finish, they will only be let down if you don't finish (even then I think they wouldn't care - like I said, it takes balls to start this race). What I needed to remember was in that moment I was doing something I love, no matter the outcome. I would never forgive myself if I quit, busted knee or not. The beauty of doing these races, is that it gives me control of my mind. I don't have the daily racing thoughts or difficulty focusing, I actually have complete control of my mind. They are my zen even though it is very painful and challenging. Unless I pass out (been there), I won't give up. So I trudged on. 

Eventually I got to zombie hill, which totally lives up to its name. I think my mom and Jessica knew how bad I was hurting at this point because mom let me know she was coming up zombie hill with me. I actually had to tell her to slow down going up. My knee was too swollen to bend at that point, so it was an insanely slow, starting to limp, up a 10% grade for 4.7 miles. We got to the medical checkpoint at the top and they let me move on knee and all. There was a slight downhill right after the turnoff heading to the finsh (still 5 miles to go at this point) and I actually screamed in pain because that downhill took my by surprise. My mom said I was cutting off the circulation to her hand as we slowly made our way down lol! Downhill was MUCH worse than up. I told my mom at this point I was reminded of Derek Redmond in the 1992 Olympics where he was injured during the 400m dash and his father ran out on the track and finished with him. That is one of my favorite Olympic stories and that moment I could relate to it. I was starting to get emotional at that point, but I knew I was going to make it.

Jessica had gone ahead and parked the car at the finish and came back to meet us as we were closing in on the finish area where you get to do 10 loops around the perimeter. 10 loops was just torture, but Jessica was so awesome in helping me take my mind off the pain and we were playing the things that come in ones, twos, threes for each loop. With two loops to go I was leaning heavily on her and any weight I was putting on my leg was too much to take on. It was at that point I started to cry. I tried not to, but the pain, the emotion of the day, and the fact that it was nearly 19 hours out there was just too much. I got to cross the finish line with her and the Norseman volunteers, which made for one of the most special moments in my athletic career even though I was last. I never thought I would be the one finishing last and my initial Norseman dreams were crushed, but I finished, injured, on one of the hardest courses in the world, 6.5 hours slower than my SLOWEST full distance time (12 hours).

Post-race knee - it got even bigger

In the two weeks since the race I have had nothing but support and congratulations about my race. So many people I didn't know would follow me, tracked my race - including my coworkers! I was right, no one would care where I finished, everyone just said how excited they were for me and asked where the tshirt was. The tshirt is safe at home and my most precious finisher swag yet. Norseman taught me a lot about myself. I never thought I would be a person who could tough it through like that, but in the moment nothing mattered but that finish. I can look back on this race and be proud of what I did. Although, hopefully I can come back one day to have the race I wanted and finish the unfinished business. I will be putting my name in every year until I get that email again!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ironman Texas 2016: Ironpocalypse

I have been waiting a long to time to write this blog. I have been pretty much silent on the blog front for a few months now because I have been wanting the next one I write to be a positive one and I wanted it to be for IM Texas. Without further ado, this is my very crazy day at Ironman Texas.

I guess I will start with some background on the goings on before the race. A lot of people say that this race was cursed from the get go. I say it was cursed because I was doing it. They say bad things come in 3's. So for me, 1. IM MD was canceled, 2. IM MD was resceduled but I ended up in the ER and didn't finish, 3. IM TX had a whole host of problems. About 3 months out of the race, the normal bike course was a no go because of construction and a county commissioner saying we could not use the roads in that particular county. Race organizers scrambled to get a course together and 3 weeks before the race we had a 112 course. Cue mother nature. Some of you might have heard about the flooding happening in the Houston area in late April. Turns out part of that course was washed out and due to time constraints the course was shortened to 95 miles. This caused an uproar in the IM community. People were very negative about it, saying that IM doesn't care about them, that they want their money back, that course had too many turns, blah blah blah. I thought we were ironmans, not a bunch of whiners? It is just one of those things you have to accept and move on. I refused to get caught up in the negativity and focus on my race. Sure I was disappointed, but people lost everything in those floods, who am I to complain? I get to race - I was just grateful to still have a race.

Onward. I flew out last Wednesday for the "cursed" Ironman Texas and met my parents there (they flew in at the same time at the gate across from me!). To say I was excited was an understatement. I was a bundle of energy - taper does these things to me! For this race, I didn't actually get nervous until the night before. Normally my anxiety is through the roof, but my approach to this race was that I can't change what is going to happen, what will be will be, and it is all about how I respond mentally. This time around, I knew all the goings on of check-in and pre race things, so I got everything done early in the morning and spent the afternoons leading up to the race resting and getting ready. To add to the "cursed" vibe - the bacteria levels were too high in the canal where we normally exit for transition. So T1 and T2 were split and the swim course changed. Whatever, no one ever wins in the swim (unfortunately for us swimmers :) ). Also, I ran into a girl I swam with in high school who was doing her first IM at Texas. Small friggin world!

Race morning. WOW it was already muggy and hot before the sun even came up. Challenge accepted Texas. Water temperature prior to race start at 6 am was 81! BATHTUB water and definitely not wetsuit legal. YES. I hate wetsuits. Age groupers started the swim at 640. I am still undecided how I feel about IM changing to a rolling start. I actually really like mass starts because it is an adrenaline rush to be battling 3000 other people. When the cannon goes off now, it is a slow shuffle to get everyone in the water and anticlimactic. But I doubt IM cares what a former swimmer has to say since most people like the rolling start because it makes them more comfortable because it is based on expected times. MEH I say. Regardless, I had a pretty sub par swim. I have been feeling like crap in swimming lately and times have been off. I was 3rd in my AG for the swim, so yikes. It wasn't horrible, it just wasn't good and I never really got going even though I was able to get clean water and hug the bouy line. Also, I had that the swim was 4000m which is 200m longer than the normal distance and I was right on the bouys. I am not the only one who had their gps give a longer swim course. But whatever, like I said, nothing is ever won in the swim. I kinda expected a slow swim time (57 min) just based on the way I was feeling. The nice thing about swimming my entire life, is that I am very good at gauging my time and pace based on how I am feeling. Anyway, I exited the swim feeling ok and I was ok with the slow time. Nothing I can change about it, but move forward and adjust.

I got through T1 quickly and headed out for a nice, hot bike ride. The start of the bike was nice because a fog had rolled in and things stayed cooler the first 10 miles or so. I was basing my effort on my HR because my power meter was all over the place. My coach had told me to expect my HR to be about 10 bpm higher than normal training rides, so I kept my HR under 150. I was having a fantastic bike. I averaged 19.5 mph over the whole ride (about 0.6 mph faster avg than my first IM) and was getting consistent split after split. However, there were some FAST girls here. I am not a bad cyclist, but there were a crap ton of girls just flying, some splitting faster than the pros! Kinda just one of those things you have to accept and focus on your own race. For all the bitching about the bike course, I actually really liked this course. Yes, there were a lot of turns, but the course was fast and the turns let you get up out of aero and stretch a bit. AND with how hot it was towards the end, it shut people up about the missing 17 miles and I am pretty sure no one cared at that point. Also, men (dude-bros) bike like assholes. I know drafting is an issue at Texas, but it was worse than usual on this course. I can't tell you how many times I almost got taken out when they passed me through turns or when they passed in giant groups. SO ridiculous. I was pretty stoked to have the bike split I did, because had it been the full 112, it would have put me right around my goal time of 5:45.

Remember how I said it was hot? Well I guess I wasn't really thinking when I got off my bike. IM transitions are long and I took my bike shoes off to run to my run gear. Turns out, that concrete WAS HOT. I totally blistered the bottom of my left foot from the hot concrete (I don't wear socks on the bike). FANTASTIC. I grabbed my gear and ran into the run tent to run into a familiar face, Heather - a friend from SB Tri. Surprise! What a random way to meet after 3.5 years and kudos to her for volunteering in that tent, it was hotter than it was outside in there! Seeing her lifted my spirits and I realized the random person that yelled my name coming out of the bike was her! Such an awesome surprise!! Anyway after frantically getting gear on and finding a potty, I finally made it to the run course. The first loop was ok - I was steady and holding steady, but man it hurt. That's ok though, it's a friggin marathon after a bike and swim, it's going to hurt. I started having a pity party early in my second loop and it shows in my splits. I saw my parents and they could see I was hurting and then my mom pulled the Kari card. "Do it for Kari, think of Kari." DAMMIT MOM. I knew if I gave up and continued my pity party I would regret it. I trained too hard to give up and I knew I could get a PR. I went through the half marathon mark faster than I have ever been in a race (half or full distance) and continued. My splits were starting to come down and I was finally going to have that last 10k I have worked so hard for. I believe it was around mile 17 ish when the storm hit. IT WAS EPIC. The canal looked like it was about to flood over, we were running through rivers of water, and being pelted by hail (that hurts by the way). DID I MENTION THE LIGHTENING WAS STRIKING THE BUILDINGS ON WATERWAY? The winds were strong enough to blow away the finish line and they ended up pausing the race. I was stopped somewhere around mile 20, along with hundreds of other runners. It was frustrating, but again it is out of your control. We stood around for awhile until they started us again. Unfortunately that meant I got cold and my muscles cramped up. I was freaking out because I didn't want people to think something was wrong (like in MD)! To top things off, when they started us again, it was a slow jog since there was no where to go. The paths we were on were too narrow to move through. Also, if you wanted anything at an aid station it was basically impossible because there were too many people. While I was frustrated that my pace was slow and my PR was out the window, I kept myself in check because everyone else was in the same boat. Things really didn't open up until I was back on the waterway and only had two miles left. I was able to get under sub ten pace the last part of the run, but I tried not to think of what could have been - that would just frustrate me more. I had told myself that I would embrace the challenges presented to me and worry about the things I could control, and that was my mindset.

THE FINISH. I didn't think I would get emotional finishing this, but I did. Everything just hit me at once. The disappointment from Maryland, struggles with my illness, the struggle getting my metabolism back in order, THIS EPIC DAY. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong, but I finished. I could let go of the fear of not being able to finish, the fear that there was something more seriously wrong with my health than we though, the fear that I wasn't good enough. I once again proved to myself that I could do it. I doubted myself after Maryland and I was scared that I would have issues again, but I finished. It didn't go as planned and I feel like I should have been faster, but things were out of my control and I finished. That, my friends, is what ironman is about - the challenges you face and the way you deal with them. Also, huge thanks to my catcher who held me up after I burst in to tears - happy tears, and listened to me blubber about how this was my vindication. I made total sense with my crazy ramblings.

Saturday wasn't about being the fastest and it wasn't about PRs. It was about conquering myself and the mental demons that have been suffering with the last few years. It was about celebrating my health and the ability to even race (my health was questionable after MD). There are so many of you that believed in me even when I didn't believe in myself anymore. I can't thank all of you enough - I wouldn't be here without you. 9 months ago I was in a very dark place and I didn't think there was a way out, but you guys helped pull me out and I am here, living and breathing, because of you. I have a starting point again and I can only go up from here.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Leave a light on

"In the darkness before the dawn
In the swirling of the storm
When I'm rolling with the punches, and hope is gone
Leave a light, a light on"

I have to admit - 6 months ago life seemed pretty hopeless. Most of what I was going through has been documented on this blog so I won't go into it again, but shit sucked and I was in a pretty bad place. Excuse my language. AND what a difference 6 months makes.

To be completely honest, I am a different person than I was 6 months ago both mentally and physically. The two years prior had just been one thing after another and I was tired. At that time, I think I was refusing to believe how bad off I was, but now I with the weight lifted, I can look back and think "I might have been acting not so normal." I think anyone that was in the situation I was in would not have been acting normal, but I am pretty sure I handled it poorly than most. I was angry. Very angry. I was sad. Actually, I was depressed. I couldn't focus on work. There were days I pretty much just spent in a fog and really couldn't remember anything I did that day when I got home at night. I think the best way to put it is that I was a walking husk of a person. I was physically going through the motions, but things seemed so pointless that I was mentally checked out. I tried to make myself feel, but I think the only emotion I felt for awhile there was anger - I hated everything. My first 3 years in New Mexico have been bipolar (SEE WHAT I DID THERE). There was a lot of bad, but I have met and made some great friends, got married, and got more involved in triathlon. In the end, the bad had started to outweigh the good. I was pissed I made the decision to move here, pissed that I chose the job I did, and pissed that I wasted my time with grad school.

But then things started to happen. Little sparks that started giving me hope again. Each spark was a life line. I grabbed on to those lights and held on tight. And then, I started living again. And not in the literal sense, but in the sense that it was ok to look forward to things, to hope for something. I started to enjoy my life journey again. I came back from a few weeks off from training more refreshed mentally. For once, I have been letting myself enjoy the "now". While I am looking forward to all the the races and other stuff planned for this year, they are not my sole focus anymore. I am learning to enjoy the journey to get there (be proud Liz - I know my countdowns drive you nuts!). I don't wake up dreading the day anymore. 2+ hour runs have suddenly become much easier (well not physically) and going to work is not the worst thing ever anymore. I smile now. I actually genuinely effing smile and that is something that I haven't done in a long time.