What is this all about?

I started this blog to keep me accountable in my fitness and clean eating journey. My first post was in March of 2007 and I've been posting ever since. As you will see I've had many highs and lows...but this is all about the journey...not just the destination

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I am Special Olympics

No workout today because of an early 7am breakfast appointment in the city . I knew that since I would not workout this morning I needed to be super tight with my nutrition. And I was... I had coffee, broccoli with shrimp (sauteed no sauce) and 6 ounces of protein for dinner. I ended with no calorie deficit because of my snack of Gouda and crackers. My kids are addicted to flavored Gouda cheeses and crackers. No American for them -- sweet red pepper Gouda please. It is soo funny.

The highlight and most impactful time of my day was my breakfast appointment. I was invited by a friend to attend the Special Olympics Breakfast of Champions . It is their major fundraising event. For me, this event and this cause really resonated . Each person on stage would end their talk with "I am Special Olympics". The guest speaker was Dick Hoyt. Dick Hoyt's son Rick was born without the ability to speak or use his arms or legs. He was eventually able to communicate through a special computer. Through this computer he told his father that he wanted to participate in a 5 k race. His father was not a runner, but agreed to do it anyway. He pushed his son in a wheelchair for the entire distance of the race, and came in 2nd to last - but not last. When he was in these races, Rick felt like he didn't have a disability- like he was running like everyone else. As a result of the joy it gave his son, Dick continued on entering marathons and triathlons - pushing/pulling his son every step of the way. They even finished the very difficult Ironman triathlon.
Dick was on Oprah before and many people have heard this story and I'm sure it impacts many people. For me, this story and the cause of Special Olympics pulled at me in a very deep and profound way. First I understand how difficult it is to get my very abled body ready to do a Sprint distance triathlon. I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to do it while pulling along my child.

Second- for a short but very difficult time in my life, I had to picture my life with a child with severe disabilities. God decided that he needed him more than we did. But I carry in my heart my 2nd child Sydney - who had he lived would have probably been severely disabled. I think about Dick's heart and what it must feel like to be able to give your child the gift of feeling normal - even if for a short while. Being able to give that gift is what pushes Dick to go through the grueling training and physical pain of preparing for and competing in really tough races . If Sydney were here - I'm sure I would want to give the same type of gift.

I was also touched by all of the athletes that participate in the Special Olympics. Many have completed marathons, triathlons, bike rides etc. despite have serious intellectual or physical disabilities. Some of us able bodied people can't get our butts on the treadmill for a few minutes and yet these athletes are competing.

Finally - there but for the grace of God there go I. A few years ago, I was diagnosed as having probable Multiple Sclerosis. I went through testing for 7 months - numerous MRIs and other tests. Some tests were positive others were negative. MS is diagnosed based on the frequency/occurrence of the symptoms or episodes. I had 3 over the course of 6 months and nothing since. It has been 2 years with no episodes. I could have another one tomorrow , 10 years from now or never. I could wake up tomorrow and not be able to move my legs or arms. If /when that happens - I'm sure after the shock of it all, I will want to still be active and possibly complete a triathlon. I'm glad an organization like Special Olympics exists - just in case I ever need it.

I say all this to say that I have been doing a bunch of thinking over the last year about my legacy and how I want to use my life to impact others. Through sharing my faith and helping others know God, I am impacting others and through my public service organizaton but I am making a dent. I still wonder sometimes, is there more I can do? More that I can do beyond writing a check and annual fundraisers. I am glad that I went to this event because it certainly helped me answer that question and the answer is a resounding YES. I have decided to volunteer with the Special Olympics and in some way I will help others feel what I feel when I do something that I didn't think I could do. I want to be able to help other experience what Rick Hoyt and so many other like him experience.

Today was a great day.

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About Me

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West Coast, United States
I am a christian woman, wife, mom to 2 great kids, a member of Delta Sigma Theta, A Jack and Jill mom, sister, daughter . I am also incredibly fit but wasn't always. I am a recovering fat girl - who takes it one day at a time.

Alonda the Triathlete!

Alonda the Triathlete!

The backstory-----How did I become a triathlete...

In February 2006, I went on a ski trip with my new colleagues from work. On the way back, I sat next to a girl named Wendy - a really friendly woman who talked about her experience as a newcomer to Seattle. She told me how her main source of making friends was through her workout buddies. She also mentioned that many of her friends participate in triathlons and that (get this) I should consider doing one too. I thought she might have been delirious from all of the skiing. I assured her that I was not the one. She obviously had mistaken me for someone else. Perhap my heavy coat prevented her from seeing what was underneath (50 lbs of extra weight and lots of evidence of no exercise). She continued with this crazy talk, speaking of how fun it is and how supportive the Danskin Triathlon is. I wanted to be sure that she and I were thinking of the same thing... Triathlon (swim bike run -some huge number of miles -all on the same day right after each other). Yup this was it. I chuckled and told her to have fun.
A few weeks later at the office, she mentioned it again. Now at this time, I had been contemplating joining my company sponsored health club (PROCLUB) and in particular the weight loss program called 20/20. After all, I had really packed on the pounds. I arrived in WA 50lbs overweight and pretty unhappy with myself. I actually started to think that completing triathlon would be a good goal...impossible but a good goal. I decided to go for it. At the same time I also decided to join the weight loss program. My first meeting with my trainer ..Anthony Parker was on 3/14/06. I told him ..in all of my fatness, that I wanted to do a triathlon. He looked at me and said hmmm, ok.
I began this really intense workout and nutrition program and began building my endurance. My first meetings with Anthony consisted of walking on the treadmill for 20 minutes and then doing stairclimber or eliptical for 15 minutes. Followed by a bit of strength training. I did this 3x a week (between 6am and 7:30) and then worked out on my own 2 other days. I had absolutely no endurance and could not run for more than 1 minute. Over the months, my endurance grew ..slowly at first then more rapidly. I also figured that I needed to improve my swimming skills if I was going to swim for 1/2 a mile. I took a Total Immersion Class.. which teaches swimming efficiency. Let's set the record straight here... I could swim well enough to save myself if I was thrown off of a boat. I was a decent (not great) swimmer. At the start of the class, I could do 1 (that's right ONE) lap and then I started breathing heavy. At that point I new the triathlon was totally out of reach. After all 1/2 mile was equal to 20 laps. I left the 1st day of class feeling scared and dismayed that I was too aggressive. Maybe I should have set my goal for 2007.
The next week's class, I asked the teacher what I needed to do to build my endurance. He said just keep at it, it will come. You know what, it did. Each week I got better and better. 4 weeks later I was able to swim 9 laps. I then started swimming before my workouts with my trainer (a little crazy but hey). My trainer was pretty impressed. I also started biking on the weekends. In fact in May I did a 30 mile bike ride as a part of the Tour De Cure for Diabetes. I really love biking...:)
Ok so I still had not tackled the most difficult part, the running. Not only could I not run but I absolutely hated it. I started adding running to my treadmill work. Anthony suggested intervals. We started with 2min run 2 min walk . I did this for weeks extending the time and the speed. I was up to running at 5.5 and walking at 4.0. Then Anthony said ..let's see if you can run a mile. I thought he was kidding. I did not think I was ready for that. This was May 5th (a day after my birthday). Guess what I did it. And I didn't feel like I was going to die. I was on top of the world. All day I had a little extra spring in my step. I just kept replaying in my head the "goal attained" message on the treadmill. I just could not believe it.
I kept it up, continued working out 5x a week. I took another swim class "Triathlon Swim Training" to help even more. This class was filled with drills and specific swim workouts. I really saw progress. By the end of the class, I was able to swim 28 laps. Now the challenge was to swim in Open Water. That's right. The triathlon was going to be in Lake Washington.
I finally felt like I could really do it. I didn't have a specific time goal , my goal was to finish. The week before the race I was sooo nervous. I was doing mini triathlons with a few really good girls. I kept up with them during the swim but one bike ride was particularly hilly and....they left me in the dust. I felt so bad and really began to rethink whether or not I should do the race. I spoke to one of the girsl about my bike performance , and she said that my bike was holding me back. That day, I decided to retire my 35lb mountain bike for a 19 lb feather light road bike. Boy what a differnce. This was a risky thing to do so close to the race but it worked for me.
The other thing to mention is that I met up with a wonderful group of women called the Soul Sistas. They are a group of African American Women of all ages who participate in triathlons and bike races. They are so awesome.We (the soul sistas) took pictures the day before the race... I'll post when available.
So the day of the race..... Everybody in the house is excited and up. My kids and my nieces - who were visiting from NJ are all up and ready to root me on. I left early so that I could get ready.The goal was to meet me by the swim finish. This was alll pretty tricky because there were 40 waves of swimmers starting every 3 minutes. All I can say about the swim is that it felt much longer than 1/2 a mile. I kept focused and didn't get nervous. I focused on keeping my breathing relaxed. It worked ...and by the way I wasn't the last swimmer in my group YEAHHH. I don't know how it all worked out but as soon as I finished my swim, I saw them. Byron , Tyler, Paris, Ahlia and Ivy were all waiting there for me with the most beautiful handmade signs saying GO MOMMY, Go AUNTIE, I love you. It was so terrific. Once I saw them I was energized.... Now on to the bike.
The bike was the best part of the entire race. I love my bike and I love to fly down the road. The entire 14 miles of the race was closed to traffic. Our longest stretch was on the express lane of one of the largest highways. Imagine flying down a highway with nothing in your way (but other riders on your right). It was so amazing. I was going pretty fast but could have gone faster - but wanted to save my legs for the run.
Now the run... I hate running and I am really bad at it. I am slow and not terribly efficient. After biking hard for 40 minutes, your legs are really worked up. During the after bike run, your legs turn into "bricks". They are heavy and hard to move. If you push through , you can get over the feeling and get into a stride. Well I also felt pains in my knee. So instead of running the entire 3.2 miles I decided to walk run. In the end it was actually fine - but while doing it I was a little disappointed. Danskin is great because there are so many supporters on the way. Cheerleaders who are yelling "go for it" from their back porch. It was just what I needed. In fact I heard Destiny's Child Im a survivor , on my way and that was what I used in my head to keep me going.
So when I realize I am about 1/2 mile from the end, I start getting super excited and very emotional. It is all coming together now -- all the training, the visualization of actually crossing the finish line and my waiting family. I got on my cell phone to cal my husband, just to make sure he was at the finisth line. He cracked up that I called:)
When you come close to the finsih line, there are all these spectators lined up waiting for you. It is so great! I ran through a narrow entry to the wide finish line area. And there they were.. my family (My hubby, kids and neices) - with signs and smiles. When I crossed the finish line, my name was announced and the official put a medal around my neck. Well I just lost it and started crying. I could not believe that I had just completed a triathlon. I was officially a triathlete.