2018 Year Recap & What I learned

This year had a lot of ups and downs. I had a lot of big goals going into the season and they changed as the season progressed. One of my biggest goals was to master the sprint distance. I think a lot of people skip the short distances and jump straight to Ironman because that’s where all the hype is. I didn’t want to make this mistake (really I should say my COACH didn’t want me to make this mistake and reminded me I have a long journey ahead) he wanted to make sure I learned each distance and built up to the Ironman. I’m very thankful for that now.

As the season progressed, I started to get a bit drained from the intensity of the sprint training. I started enjoying the longer training. The discipline. What it required from me. I liked the challenge, but it was a different challenge. It was more of a mind challenge then a burning zone 5 intensity challenge – that’s kind of more of what I was used to coming from a sprinters background. So I embraced that. It was a bit tough to keep focused on sprint training when everyone around me was doing Ironman branded races and I began to lack motivation for a lot of my races.

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I learned a lot about my body and mind focusing on the sprints and I’m thankful I stuck to it because going into the 70.3s I felt like I had a lot more speed, power, and mental toughness from all that zone 5 pain training.

Ironically, or not ironically, every time I tried to race the 70.3 distance, something rather traumatic happened. It was as if the universe was telling me I needed to wait to focus on that distance until next year. A good lesson there to trust the signs.

My first 70.3 was okay, I placed 4th age with a 4:54, which was a huge PR after my first attempt of just trying out the distance and not really racing, and I had the second fastest female bike split of the race (Which totally doesn’t matter if you can’t back it up on the run). I had a pretty bad nutrition fail coming off the bike and my run was not even close to what I wanted or knew I was capable of running.

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My second 70.3 I ran off course and got disqualified, but was running down second or 3rd overall – that one was a heartbreaker.

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Saddest red carpet EVER.

My 3rd attempt the race got cancelled.

My 4th attempt I had a random IT band flare up and got hit with a stomach virus the week of leaving me 8 pounds underweight and injured going in. That race — I cannot believe I finished… it was my slowest half ever, and arguably my most impressive.

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My 5th attempt I had to drop down to the sprint distance because my IT band was so bad I wasn’t sure I’d finish and if I did finish I knew the damage to my IT band could possibly put me out for the off season. So I made the smart decision.

I ran my fastest 5k off the bike all season in my last race, at Challenge Daytona, off of 16 days of no running and excruciating IT band knee pain, and I won the race. That one was  quite a lesson in itself.

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Some of the highlights of my season were: placing 4th at Haines City 70.3 my first time racing the 70.3 with a 4:54, Winning my age group at St. Anthony’s Olympic (by over 10 minutes) with a 2:15, First overall at South Beach Triathlon Classic Distance, First overall Clermont Sprint Series #2, Second overall at NYC Olympic Triathlon (and winning $750 cash!), Qualifying Worlds at Sprint Nationals (not an outstanding race for me, but I did still place in the top 5), finishing Miami Man 70.3 under circumstances and taking 2nd in age and qualifying long distance worlds, winning Challenge Daytona and finally getting back to a sub 20 5k off the bike.

So, what did I learn this season? I believe if you can walk away from a race or season having learned valuable lessons and growing as a person and athlete – it’s never a fail. No, I didn’t have the season I “planned” or “wanted” but do we ever? I’m humbled and excited going into 2019 and I have adjusted a lot of expectations. Most importantly I am stronger, tougher, and a lot smarter now. 

So here’s some of the big take aways I wish I had known going into 2018 and could have told my 1 year younger self:

  • First and foremost, as my coach and boyfriend reminded me constantly: it’s about the JOURNEY and it’s a LONG journey. This year is not going to be the big year for me, considering I’m still fairly new to this sport and I have a LOT of work to do. When I finally got that concept through my somewhat thick skull and stopped focusing on every single minuscule aspect of my performance and race; it allowed me to let go and race/train a bit more freely. A bit more forgivingly. Which in turn meant I trained BETTER and raced BETTER. We hold ourselves to these standards – that can be completely unreasonable at times, and when we don’t meet our expectations – in every single workout – we get down on ourselves. When I focused on the journey – and my long term goals; it seemed silly to care about every single little workout or race. For an athlete like me, (who is arguably a bit psychotic and overly critical) that was huge. This wouldn’t work for a World Championship or my “make or break it” race, but I didn’t have any of those this year and majority of the time we can benefit from letting go a bit more.

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  • Mindset. If there is one thing I can say about this sport, it’s that you have to figure out what works for you specifically and how to control your mind. Arguably 80-90% mental when it comes down to it. If you line up with the elites, they all have the training, they are all fit, they are all ready to race… but it comes down to who has “it” and whatever that “it” is will ONLY come with the proper mindset and figuring out how to get your mind to work for you. I learned a lot of the things this season that hold me back and although we are all different, one of the biggest hold backs for me was simply – I cared too much. I put too much pressure on myself, I focused on the wrong things which brought more tension in my body. This lead to the inability to allow my body to relax and a heightened sense of awareness which drastically increased my perception of effort during a race. My energy would drain QUICKLY and in endurance racing that is NOT good.  Thankfully my coach reminded me of some techniques and it wasn’t a matter of training more or racing harder, it was a matter of training and racing SMARTERSo, it’s not really about having more to give, it’s just about learning to give more of what you have.

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  • Sometimes less is more. Triathletes are usually a bit of a nutty breed of human, and I’m no exception to this. I am guilty of the “I HAVE TO RUN EVERY DAY AND ALL THE TIME AND RUN FAST AND DO EVERYTHING SUPER HARD TO BE BETTER” mindset. When I got injured at the end of the season I was forced to take time off of running going into my last race. (Another lesson from the Universe I’m quite sure of now). I had the choice to become a head case and let it sabotage my race or trust my coach, trust my training, trust my body, and trust that I could maintain my fitness through cross training and proper strength. I chose the latter. I know enough about the body to know how to keep my muscles firing in a pattern similar to running without actually running; and biking and running keeps your heart strong. I decided I would take 16 days off of running going into my last race of the season hoping my IT band would heal (it did not – but that’s a whole other story) and attempt to still run one of my best 5ks off the bike. After 16 days of no running and some lackluster, inconsistent training due to injury and sickness, made this pretty tough for me mentally, but I was determined to prove it to myself. I did run my best run all season and I felt the best I had in any of the sprints I’d done all season. Why? Because I applied all the other things I learned to this race and trusted. So, that showed me trusting the training, a little more recovery, and the right mindset can do wonders for your body. Also, I’m a bit convinced enough caffeine and listening to a David Goggins podcast can pretty much give you the motivation to do ANYTHING!

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  • Lastly and most importantly one of the biggest lessons I learned was to do it with love. When it comes down to it, if you can’t LOVE the sport and love the training and love the day to day (for the most part) you’re in for a rude awakening. I started to let my nerves take over and ruin my racing and when I took my attention back to the simple fact that I love this sport, I love EVERYTHING about it, I could smile and just have fun (fun being a relative term). I didn’t care so much about the outcome because I was just thankful to be out racing doing what I love. Thankful to be healthy enough to toe the line. And now I’m just thankful to be healthy enough to be running again & training in general.

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Shit happens, especially in triathlon – and LORD did some SHIT happen to me this season. But I can’t tell you how many races I actually stopped and laughed to myself and thought, “You’ve GOT to be f****** KIDDING me???!??!?!?!” thank gosh I love what I do! So if I could sum it all up, I would say do the work – but don’t leave it at the physical, do the mental work too, and have fun & let go a bit – because if you aren’t having fun, it’s most likely going to go downhill at some point.

Hopefully this can help you going into the 2019 race season and give you a little more perspective 🙂

 

 

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Motivation & the “Off Season”

Approaching the months of October, November, and December and the months known as the triathlon “off season” a lot of us tend to lose motivation, drive and a sense of purpose after we finish our big races of the season.

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On the other hand, we may continue to train throughout the off season not allowing our bodies to get the proper break, recovery and mental reset we need in order to rebuild and go back into the season stronger.

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So what’s the proper balance?

It all depends on your specific goals, race plan, focus and where you are currently. I have personally been on both sides of the spectrum.

One season I stubbornly didn’t want to take off, I didn’t want to lose my fitness I worked so hard for (rookie mistake) and I continued to do interval training, hard sets, pushed my body through the months of October, November and heading into December after a long season of training I dealt with my first “burnout”.

It was so bad I told my current coach, at the time, I just couldn’t do it. I was exhausted, unmotivated, I dreaded all my workouts… the thought of setting foot on the track made my whole body want to cringe. I was done.

The outcome? I ended up being forced to take the necessary time to recover, rebuild, and mentally reset – cutting into precious time I needed to be training for the next season.

I just wasn’t there mentally. I knew if I started training, I would never make it through the long season with how I felt.

I ended up losing focus, drive, motivation, getting really sick, (I never get sick – but I got hit with the flu for the first time ever – coincidence…?? I think not!!!) and I was forced to start from what felt like ZERO!

The come back to racing was a bit of a rocky road. I spent a good portion of that season in medical tents.

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Had I just taken the adequate time “off” and let my body recover and rebuild, continuing to train and maintain fitness at a lower intensity – I could have come back stronger, but because I was stubborn  I was forced to learn the hard way.

I tell my bootcamp clients to maintain a “lifestyle” with their nutrition and exercise, something they can sustain – something that doesn’t feel like it’s only going to work for 1, 2, 3, 4… 6 months of their life, something that will be sustainable for the rest of their life.

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Otherwise you may see great results, but it will be short lived.

I approach triathlon in a similar respect. Don’t allow your body to get to the point of complete burnout or injury – pull back and allow yourself to recover, and most of all make it ENJOYABLE.

When you go into the off season – be ready to change your focus. Not to a completely drastic sedentary lifestyle, but one consisting of lower intensity and recovery.

Off season training, in my opinion, should have a focus of building strength you wouldn’t normally have the time and ability to do during in season training.

It should also focus on putting in some easy longer zone 2 training, feeling good, recovering mentally, sleeping in, training when it feels good and taking a break from the organization and monotony of triathlon training that is ultimately what burns us out the most.

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I personally believe one of the biggest “burnouts” we get in this sport is the mental burnout, so it’s really important to make it FUN and ENJOYABLE.

How will you spend your off season? Road racing? Bike racing? Strength training? Sitting on the couch? A combination? Comment and let me know 😉

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What I fear

Yesterday my coach asked me “What are you afraid of?”

I really had to think about that. I’m going into my focused race of the season this Sunday, USAT Age Group Sprint Nationals and the biggest problem I face racing is my own head.

My biggest fear is not the competition as many would think.

My biggest fear is not living up to my potential. Not competing or performing the best I know I am capable on that day. Simply put, my biggest fear is choking. And quite ironically choking stems from being NERVOUS and having an outcome based goal. So it’s a bit of a viscous cycle.

I fear not racing to the best of my ability on that given day. I fear not giving my best. I fear not being the best Kerry I can be. I fear getting so nervous that I psyche myself out, drain all my energy and don’t compete at the level I know I am capable.

It’s not about winning for me, and deep down I think it’s more than that for most people, it’s about giving EVERYTHING I HAVE to give on that day. It’s always been about competing with ME and only me. The other girls are just pawns out there to draw the best from me, they are there to push and challenge my own limits – but that’s all it is. Yes, I love winning and I love being the best, but it’s much deeper than that. We get into these sports because it forces us to dig deep and find something bigger than ourselves. It forces us to challenge our limits, challenge ourselves. Winning is a great end result, but there’s so much more gratification in beating the voice in your head.

I don’t fear the pain. Racing hurts. Change hurts. Challenging your limits hurts. But do you know what hurts more? NOT doing that. Playing it safe. Giving less than your capable of on that day. Regret.

When you ask someone on their death bed what their biggest regrets are, among spending more time with family and friends – they will almost always say they regret not taking more chances. No one regrets taking too many chances and failing, they regret NOT taking the chances.

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That has always been one of my favorite sayings, and quite accurately sums up what I fear most.

We hold onto that which feels safe, because it’s just that – it’s safe. It’s “easy” it doesn’t scare us. It’s scary to push outside of your comfort zone, to step out into the unknown, to challenge your limits even just slightly. It’s scary to have big goals, to go against the norm, to challenge our beliefs.

We don’t chase our dreams that we hold so deeply because most of us are afraid of failing. We sell ourselves short because it’s easier to achieve our “realistic” goals then it is to disappoint ourselves. But is that really easier?

My clients tell me they want to lose 20 pounds, when I know deep down they want to lose 50. They say things like, “I’ll never have abs… that’s unrealistic for me.” Is it? I always challenge them to dig a little deeper. Ask yourself what it is you’re really afraid of, because most of the time THAT is what you want to go after.

If you give it your best, will you ever really be disappointed?

I’m less proud of some of my wins and more proud of some of 2nd, 3rd or 4th place finishes because when I give it everything I have, I know I didn’t sell myself short, I didn’t give up, I didn’t quit. I did the BEST I could on that day. Sometimes that looks like first, and sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s not the placement that matters, it’s the effort. The same goes for my clients. They know when they are not doing all they can to be their best self and that wears on you day in and day out. It’s much more gratifying to give it everything you have then to half ass it and avoid “disappointing” yourself. It’s a disappointment to get to the finish line knowing you had a lot left in you. I’m not saying we should all collapse at a finish line the way I have in the past, but I do think you should always challenge your threshold and your efforts a little more each time so you know you didn’t leave anything on the table.

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This picture was from Haines City 70.3, my second ever half ironman distance. I didn’t have the race I wanted. I placed 4th in my age group and my run completely fell apart. But I gave that day everything I had. I feared I wouldn’t finish the run because I thought I might pass out from dehydration. I didn’t race to my best ability – but I left it ALL out there. I’m most proud of this race out of maybe all my races this season. I made a lot of errors but I gave it everything I had & it wasn’t my own self imposed limits or fears that got in the way, it was just things that happened, which is inevitable in this sport but I did everything I could to keep fighting.

I love endurance racing because it applies to all areas of life. Shit happens. There’s no way around that, and in a triathlon, inevitably something will happen but it’s a matter of how you deal with it and how you adapt. It’s not always going to be about the time or the “best race” on paper – but how YOU are able to deal and adapt to that situation.

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In 2016 I raced the Olympic distance National Championships. I wanted to place in the top 16 to qualify for Team USA at Worlds. I came out of the water in 85th place. I had the worst race of my triathlon career. I finished in 33rd but I got a 2 minute penalty pushing me back into the 50s somewhere.

I know I could have placed in the top 16 that day – but I choked. I was so nervous and coming out of the water in 85th place messed with my head so much that I destroyed my race. But in all honesty, my race was over before it started.

After that race, I cried. I cried myself to sleep that night in my hotel bed. I cried for a week straight. I hurt so deeply, not because of how I placed – I hurt because I knew I was so much better than what I gave that day. I didn’t race up to my potential. I didn’t give it all I had that day, I fell apart emotionally and then physically.

So when my coach asked me what I feared… it was that. That feeling of knowing I didn’t give it what I was capable of giving. Had I gotten a flat or something out of my control, that would have been a different story. But that wasn’t the case. I simply choked and it was all self induced.

But I needed that race, I needed that experience to fuel me. It didn’t really matter that I failed at that attempt because I refused to ever stop fighting. All it did was fuel me, as badly as it hurt, it fuels me to this day to work harder.

The following year, I came back and I raced this same race. I came out of the water in 23rd place. I finished in second place in my age. I qualified for what I had set out to do and desired so deeply for a year straight. As I ran through the shoot I heard the announcer say my name, “Kerry Girona…. 2nd spot.” In that moment I knew, I knew I had done it. I knew why I worked so hard and I had flashbacks of the painful year before and how far I had come in just one year.  I had tears in my eyes as I crossed through that finish line shoot. The pain, the blood, the sweat, the tears… all of it was washed away with the feeling of complete joy.

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I knew the pain of defeat and how hard that was and how badly that felt, conquering that a year later was one of the happiest moments of my life.

That previous race hurt me so bad, there was no pain that I endured in any workouts or any races that compared to the emotional pain it had caused me of not giving my best.

Going back to my question, “What am I afraid of?”

Simply put, I’m afraid of not really living.

When I compete and when I train, I feel more alive than ever. Racing makes me feel alive. But when I put too much pressure on myself and my outcome instead of the process, I can easily sabotage that. Life is about the journey, not the destination. So often we focus on the destination and forget to enjoy the journey, the process. Yes, winning is great, achieving your goals is great… but if it were all just handed to us, what gratification is that? The ups and downs, the process, the journey – that’s what makes it special.

When it comes down to it, it’s the process that builds our character and makes us who we are. The blood, the sweat, the tears, the ups, the downs… all the things that got us to the final destination.

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Don’t get me wrong, I have outcome goals in my races – and this one specifically I have a goal. That goal has driven me day in and day out. It drives my training, it pushes me that extra step, it helps me to dig a little deeper every day, every workout, it keeps me hungry and motivates me. But the second I let the outcome take over the journey, that is when I start to take away from my performance and my ability. That is when I take the joy out of racing and the process, and I become a total head case and I’m no longer racing from a place of love, I’m racing from a place of sheer terror, pressure and nerves. That’s when I feel like I’m paralyzed, and in a sense I just feel dead and lifeless.

One of my biggest goals this season has been to conquer the mental aspect of racing, which for me quite specifically, is just caring a little less. Caring a little less about the outcome & allowing myself to just enjoy the process of doing what I love most.

A lot of the time the more competitive and the higher the goals you set for yourself the more detached you become from why you started. So often I see athletes forget the love, the joy and all the things that initially got them into the sport. You begin to focus solely on the outcome and the pressure builds and before you know it, you’re dreading all of it and it becomes work. I believe to be truly successful you first must let all that go,  and remember to be thankful that you got to that line and embrace whatever that day holds for you. Every day won’t be your best and some days – shit happens, but if you can give your very best in that day given the circumstances in that moment, to me that is true success.

Sunday when I go to race, if I leave it all out there with a smile and do what’s in my control to be the best I possibly can on that given day, I will be happy with whatever outcome that gives me.

 

 

 

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Against All Odds

I’ve always had great body awareness, even from a young age, I’ve been very in tune with energies – especially my own. However, I’ve also been pretty scatterbrained, spontaneous, distracted, and quite incapable of remembering the dates or timelines for pretty much ANYTHING. My monthly period was absolutely no exception. I have always the WORST of anyone I knew. I’d call up my friends and ask them when I’m suppose to get my period, because most of them tracked it for me or knew better than I did. My boyfriend would have a better gauge of my period and I just didn’t really care, or seem to think it mattered much, up until recently.

When I started really getting competitive in the sport of triathlon, I quickly became forced to have some awareness because of how drastically it was affecting my performance, and for me, it was drastic. For the first year with my coach, we didn’t quite know why one week I would simply just kind of suck. Sometimes not as apparent as it’d be an easier week without key workouts, but some times the worst days fell on a race, key workout, tough day… it never failed that my body performed badly on the week prior to getting my period. ALWAYS.

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As much as I tried to write it off that, it’s “in my head” or ” it’s just mental” which I believe most things are – this was not. The more I researched the more I realized your body is actually at a very BIG disadvantage during this time; but I also found a lot of elite female athletes performance NOT being affected. This gave me a lot of hope and as I continued to research I realized that the reason I think I’m so drastically affected and some are not is because something is off balanced. I assumed it must be something slight because I’m super healthy and normal every other week of the month – just not this one.

It’s pretty common for women to become “estrogen dominant” which is what causes your body to go kind of haywire. It looked as though all the super crazy and dramatic changes, feelings, and performance issues were all due to a very slight imbalance. I think a good sign of this is your somewhat psychotic moods associated and ups and downs. During the week prior to your period your body runs at a hotter temp, you need more sodium because you’re losing more, and you need more carbohydrates – a lot of other things happen – but for purposes of performance, I found those to be the most important.

I think it’s also important to note that birth control doesn’t make you “off the hook” as a I know that’s the answer to most women for dealing with PMS. I want to preface this with  no I’m not against birth control but I choose a holistic approach to everything & that is how I run my business and everything I do so I will never have a solution to something that requires taking drugs. I personally don’t take any drugs, antibiotics, NSAIDs, I haven’t even had IBUprofen or Aspirin in over 4 years, which is pretty tough for a competitive athlete. I opt for natural anti inflammatories, essential oils, herbs, and when all else fails coconut oil can usually solve basically any other problem I have.

Altering and manipulating my hormones was ABSOLUTELY out of the question for me. I have taken birth control in the past, as that was recommended from the doctors when I was competing in college because I’ve struggled with my periods from a young age, and the experience was horrific to say the least.

Regardless, I did the research on birth control and PMS and it actually increases your estrogen to an unnaturally high level, so high that it tricks your body into constantly thinking it’s pregnant. This would explain why when I took birth control, I felt like a total PSYCHO at all times. Again, not bashing birth control, but for purposes of the research I was doing, it seemed as though the problem was stemming from an “estrogen dominance” and birth control puts your body into a constant state of excessive estrogen – so that did quite the opposite of solve what I was personally going for in my performance.

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Progesterone cream also came highly recommended but I opted against that as I didn’t want to manipulate any hormones.

So here’s what I did try!

I take a lot of vitamins as is, but specifically the week prior I increased these vitamins, B12, Magnesium, Iron, Omega 3 Fatty acid, Tumeric (just because turmeric is good and I always take that) – those are ones I take regularly but here’s what I added – Iodine, Myomin (natural chinese herb), and night time Primrose oil. I was super diligent with taking these the week prior.

During workouts/races I increased my salt intake, quite drastically the night before a tough workout, I’d consume salt during (I live in Florida and it’s hot as balls right now so this was even more important), I would consume a bit more carbohydrates during and before and bring awareness to how much I’d eaten during tough training & try to make sure everything I consumed during workouts also had electrolytes.

That’s literally ALL I have done up to this point and I have become a completely normal human being again (during all times of the month).

My boyfriend (and coach) can attest to how somewhat unstable I become the week prior, I would cry over workouts, cry during workouts because the felt so painful and I couldn’t figure out why, struggle to hit times, feel like I was on fire, feel emotional over nothing – one night I slept on the couch crying for no apparent reason. I truly cannot even come up with a reason, my boyfriend came out and was so confused and I didn’t even know why I was upset or if I was upset at him. There was generally at least ONE day a month (if not more) where I sort of just acted like a crazy person.

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I think I spent a good portion of my life in denial that this affected me so much. hah.

Combatting the crazy is awesome, but let’s face it – I don’t care so much about that. What’s more important is my ability to perform. I tested all of this out the week before Raleigh 70.3 in June, as this race fell the day before my period on a very hot day and I was the last wave to go giving me the biggest disadvantage. My coach and I both knew this race was solely about survival so I wanted to see if I could do this, against all odds, because I’d never been able to perform on this day. The race ended in complete disaster as I went off course in the last 4 miles of the race disqualifying me, however, had I finished the race – I was in the running for top 2 overall female amateurs on a day I didn’t think I could compete.

Once I got past the heart break of what that day was and losing what I had worked so hard for, I realized what a win it was for so many other reasons and what I could take away from this race, and mostly all that I could share with other women.

First off, as I stated you need MORE calories, more carbs, more quick sugar, more salt – all of that when performing. I took all of this into account and planned on almost doubling my calorie intake during this race (I had no intentions of truly “racing” I just wanted to survive and see what I could do in the last 6 miles of the run).  Andreas always  gets our bottles ready for the bike, and he puts the nutrition in. He knew exactly how much I needed for this race, but somehow FORGOT to put ANY nutrition in either of our bottles. I had no idea. I had one bottle with nutrition and the rest were water with salt. Thankfully I was getting salt, but I was VERY deprived of calories on the bike. I took a gel thinking I was overdosing on calories to get me ready for the run, but I was barely scraping by at this point on a day I needed more. I conservatively biked a somewhat decent bike split and felt pretty okay throughout, even given the circumstances.

I got onto the run and immediately felt like SHIT (no better description except maybe very HOT shit) but snapped out pretty quick and started consuming some calories again (which I thought I was doing all along). I kept my run super conservative too, and because it was so hot I was still making up a good bit of ground. One of the keys here was that I took ICE every aid station because I knew my body temp was running hotter than everyone else on an already super hot day. So I took whatever carbs I could stomach at this point and ICE no matter how much time it cost me. I took coke for fast sugar, I took 2 gels, I took Gatorade, I took anything I could because I just wanted whatever calories I could inject and to stay as cool as I possibly could.

I think what’s probably the craziest thing about this race is that afterwords I told my coach, “Man that felt pretty easy… nothing like the shorter stuff. I really want to race more 70.3s”

Never in a million years did I think I could perform on this day and PERFORM WELL and not be in excruciating pain!!! I thought this race would be one of the most challenging races I would ever do. I thought I would get that burning sensation I always get, my mind would go crazy, I would have to fight every stroke of the swim, pedal in the bike, step on the run… I thought it would be COMPLETE HELL… but to my surprise, it almost felt like a cake walk compared to other races.

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A year ago I raced the day before my period, not knowing what day it was, and the night before I was running a fever and I ended up finishing the race in a medical tent, blacking out at the finish.

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Clearly, these 2 pictures tell a very different story.

After Raleigh I continued with the vitamins I was taking and the nutrition and in the past 2 months I have had some of my best workouts the week prior, and I recently had my strongest swim workout I’ve ever had the day before getting my period.

I think a lot of this comes from not only balancing out some minor imbalances that had pretty HUGE impacts on my body and emotional state, but also just simply bringing awareness to the fact that this can really affect you. I was never aware before – now I track it on an app and I’m very aware the week prior to my period, and when it hits I’m easier on myself, I expect a little less from myself, I eat with a little more intention, I drink more water, I sleep a little more, I simply try to give myself a little more love during this time and it’s tremendously changed my world… and the world of those around me!

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This has worked great for me, but from my years in coaching and nutrition I know everyones body is different. What works for me may or may not work for you. We all have a little different imbalances and hormone levels, but I think this could be a great start for most. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m constantly pushing new limits and trying new things and I’ll share all that I learn along the way. Hopefully this can help YOU too though and I’d love your feedback 🙂 Feel free to comment or ask questions : )

Love Kerry

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Embrace your femininity

Easier said than done, especially coming from this girl who grew up believing toughness and masculinity were of the utmost important qualities in a woman. I’ve always been ready to defend my strength as a woman to go head to head against any man I came across, I never really got into the whole, “embracing being a woman” thing. It honestly just never really seemed important to me. What seemed important was empowering women to find their inner lion, their toughness, their ability to stand on their own two feet, to be STRONG. That’s what I’ve always been all about.

You can ask any of my female friends, (the few I have as most are men), I don’t do “girls nights” (never ask me), I’m not interested in painting my nails, I barely brush my hair, if I ever wear make up it’s stuck to my face for at least a week, and I would rather a man tell me I have a good personality then I’m “hot”. Being a woman has always been about being strong, intelligent, successful, and tough, as I believe it should.

I am, however, starting to realize (wether I’d like to or not) we need to embrace all of what being a woman entails. No, this does not mean I’m going to start going to girls nights, painting my nails or wearing make up… it means I think it’s time women start embracing what makes us women instead of hiding and pretending these things don’t exist. I’m the most guilty of this.

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Through my journey in competitive triathlon, my eyes have been opened a lot & I’ve been very rudely reminded that I am, in fact, a woman on a monthly basis. I think my symptoms were a bigger slap in the face to me because I am so guilty of ignoring all of them and not allowing myself to make excuses. It’s like taboo in todays world to say, “I’m going to get my period, watch out world… I’m going to be a raging psycho for the next week!!!” When in reality, that would probably help the rest of the world out a good bit.

Every month we just deal with it, our boyfriends, husbands, spouses, coworkers, children, people that get into our way when we are walking down the street, are all forced to deal with our raging hormones and somewhat psychotic behavior. Don’t get me wrong, some suffer more than others… and I actually think I don’t suffer from this NEARLY as much as a lot of other women (which is somewhat discerning), but what really got me was when I realized my  performance was suffering. Being a raging psycho didn’t bother me so much, my boyfriend maybe, but I got very interested, and motivated, when I found out how much my actual ability to perform was impacted.

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Through tracking my training, my coach and I realized pretty early on… that one week out of every month my performance suffers – and it suffers greatly. As I began paying closer attention, I realized it was the week leading up to my period… EVERY month. Like clockwork, my body went completely haywire. I sometimes ran fevers the day or couple days leading up, my body temperate was elevated and all my workouts felt like, “I was on fire”, I struggled to hit my splits in workouts, pain felt SIGNIFICANTLY more painful, I almost always ended my workouts in tears because of the emotional chaos going on and the pain that my body would be in. In other words, I was in complete hell once a month.  

I started researching and I could barely find anything. My mom told me, “If this happened to men, there’d be a cure”, I couldn’t agree with her more. But as women, we are taught to be strong and we are taught to just deal with these things. Men laugh at us and say, “oh women… hormones.” So we write it off to be nothing and suck it up and don’t talk about it. I am possibly the most guilty of never wanting to show any signs of weakness, or “femininity” as being tough has always been the most important thing to me, so I never admitted to myself or anyone else that this could be affecting me.

 

As I started looking into it more, I started realizing CEOs, Business owners, women with very successful lifestyles – find themselves flying off the handle one or several days a month, to the point where some are contemplating suicide. I found 75% of women are affected by this and 20% of those women are so severe they need medical treatment!!! MEDICAL TREATMENT! Elite athletes are struggling in performance, some women schedule their races around their cycles, some women drop out of races when it falls on the week prior, some just suck it up and have a lack luster performance (me)… the more I’m researching the more I’m DISGUSTED that there’s not better answers, better research, better solutions for women other than taking a pill and throwing our bodies into some unnatural state of thinking it’s pregnant all the time.

One of the things I read said, “Embrace your womanhood” Honestly my response to that was what the FUCK?… I don’t want to embrace SUCKING and acting like a psycho once a month.

Sorry… that’s not what being a woman means to me.

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Why are women just expected to suck it up and figure it out or power through? I guess a small part of me feels that we got the shit end of the stick, and I’m not willing to accept that my athletic performance, and overall sanity as a human being is going to be compromised on a monthly basis.

So I’m going to share my journey, research, personal successes and failures with you along the way in order to empower, inspire, and EDUCATE as many women (and men… because you guys benefit from this too) as I possibly can. That means, brutal honesty (apologies in advance), a lot of triathlon talk as that is what I do and how I track my progress, and probably a lot of ridiculously inappropriate stories.

I hope I can educate and also encourage you to fight for your goals in life and sport regardless of what time of month that falls. I do truly believe that our bodies are meant to perform and be at their best during ALL phases of their cycle. Questions, comments, and your own stories all welcome as I am learning too! Thanks for reading, more to come! 🙂

❤ Kerry

 

 

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You’re worth it

You’re worth it – and I don’t think we always truly believe that.

We all have that inner ​​voice that holds us back in life. Sometimes it’s louder than other times and sometimes it can stop us dead in our tracks. For some of us it’s more present and for some it’s less – but rest assured that voice will come out if we let it and it will take over and reek havoc on our goals and dreams.

We all have different things we struggle with, and I know personally, I have always struggled with my self worth.

I struggled with not feeling worthy of success.

Not feeling good enough for the relationships I wanted.

Not feeling worthy of the body I wanted.

Not feeling good enough to run the times I wanted.

Not feeling like I was worthy of helping and making the change I wanted to make in the world.

But then one day I had to stop. I had to stop and ask myself what was more important. This stupid voice in my head or the REAL voice that has these dreams and visions and wants to change the world. I realized that the “voice in my head” is just my ego trying to sabotage everything and IT’S NOT REAL. That’s right, it’s NOT real. Once I realized that, I decided to let it go every time I would hear it.

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I have a quote above my desk on a poster that says, “We dream a particular dream, see a particular vision because we have the special talent, ability, to bring that dream, that vision into reality.” Then below it I have written “Angels fly because they take themselves lightly” – both of these quotes come from one of my all time favorite books “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyways” by Susan Jeffers.

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We all get caught up in our self limiting beliefs, but I want to remind you – the voices that tell you “you’re not worth it” or “you don’t deserve this” or “you’re not good enough” – those voices ARE not true. The ONLY person that can make you feel inferior is YOU and you have the power to do and be absolutely anything you want. There will always be voices in the back of your head telling you that you “can’t” – but remember it’s not that the strongest, most successful people don’t have those voices – they just don’t listen. And eventually, the voices telling you that you “CAN” will be the only ones you really hear. But like everything else, it takes practice and continuous effort.

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Remember, you can do anything you believe you can do – and if the dream is there, it’s your dream – so go after it! For more help or coaching, feel free to reach out to me ❤

Live Free,
Kerry
SoulLibre.Com
SoulLibre@gmail.com

 

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Strength isn’t always being strong

I have always considered myself to be a very strong person. I’ve always looked at what the “norm” or standards are and held myself to a higher level of expectation. Usually this is in regards to fitness, but really in all areas of life. As a business owner, coach, and athlete I believe I should be able to conquer the world and sometimes I expect myself to never fall.

Well, it gets exhausting always being “strong”. As a person of influence on my bootcampers and my coaching clients, I feel that I have to be perfect sometimes and always be a good example, but sometimes I fall apart. In the past, I would really get down on myself and look at myself as a failure for the times I fall apart. I would think, “it’s okay for everyone else but not for me. I have to be perfect, I have to be stronger, I have to be tougher, I can’t cry in public, I can’t let anyone see me when I’m weak”… but I’ve realized, being strong isn’t always being strong.

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Sometimes true strength is allowing yourself to be vulnerable, it’s allowing yourself to ask for help, it’s allowing yourself to cry in public and to admit your failures in order to grow. That’s what true growth is. Sometimes everything has to fall apart in order for it to come together. 

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I have been going through a lot of big transitions in my life, and change is scary, and it’s hard, and as humans – we resent change. No matter how “strong” you are – big changes can scare the shit out of you.

I have made mistakes, there are things I could have done better, but I’m realizing that I am exactly where I need to be and I am allowing the people in my life to support me and be there for me. In the past, I would never ask for help, I would never want anyone to see me struggle or suffer. I have always been strong. The girl who never cries, the girl who is like a rock and can’t be broken. Well, sometimes I fall apart too.. but what’s important is that it’s TEMPORARY. It doesn’t last forever. It’s okay to fall apart, it’s okay to have days where you feel like you can’t get out of bed, it’s okay to not be the happiest brightest spirit in the room sometimes, but what’s most important is that you go through that and then pick up the  pieces and come back a stronger and better version of yourself.

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These situations that wear us down, they are there to help us step into who we are as a person. They are there to strengthen our character and build up our soul. You can either fall apart and let them ruin you or you can decide to rise above them and let them teach you lessons and allow you to be THAT much stronger.

True strength doesn’t mean you’re unbreakable, it means you’re willing to take the risks and pick up the pieces when you fall and keep going. That’s the key to strength, the one who never gives up is the strongest.

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Allow yourself to feel, allow yourself to cry, allow yourself to go through the days that are difficult and know – they will only last temporarily and you will come out a stronger you on the other side 😉

Live Free,
Kerry
SoulLibre.com Kerryandmouse

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