Life On The Home Front.

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Most people know that I am a dedicated athlete. They know that I spend countless hours each day swimming, biking, running, and sweating. They know I love to run. They know I’m married, I love my two sweet dogs, and I miss my family back on the East Coast. In fact, many of you know me quite well…but not many know the life of a military wife, a military officer, or a military family. The constant goodbye, the constant worry, and the constant readjustment that goes on behind the scenes. Yes…we live a wonderful life that I wouldnt take back for a millisecond. But living this life comes with times where I feel like we are walking on a thin sheet of ice covering a frozen pond. Stepping ever so lightly trying to make it to the other side safely.

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Days like today have reminded me of what is important. Days like today have reminded me why MY role might just be more important than I thought. I always hated the term “military wife”. I used to think “NO!I am a Teacher. A COACH. An athlete. A wife. NOT just a Military Wife!” But i’m learning that this really is a family in it’s own way when your biological family can’t be here in proximity.
I started looking at pictures the other day. Pictures from before I knew Adam. It made me realize that we tend to block out this part of our partners lives. Maybe because we can’t imagine our lives without them. But seeing these pictures made me realize he had these amazing friends that he spent so much time with. Who were going through the same things…and now we are older and are more in the depths of our careers. The odds of loosing people go up. And it reminds me how important it is to learn about this part of our partners lives, to love them not just who they are today, but for who they were. To look at those pictures of their childhood and adolescents. To learn about the people who are important in their lives, even if they live far away and have their own lives now.

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Today Adam got word while on a mission that a Tanker crashed in Manas (overseas). Immediately my heart sunk. Adam’s best friend is there flying that very plane. No names had been released yet and I could feel the hair on my arms stand up. I couldn’t imagine how Adam was feeling. Of course we were scared that he was flying that plane. My thoughts raced with sadness for the families of the crew, and young lives lost too soon. Last week one of the plane’s Adam used to fly crashed over sea’s as well. We had to just sit and wait for names to be released for two days…was it a friend? Did he know them? Did he fly with them? He flew that very jet 3 times. Pretty scary.
This is getting too close to home. After getting word that our friend is okay, I tell Adam I love him and wish him safe travels for his next flight to Japan. Just be safe ok? I tell him… I love you. Praying that God keeps him safe.

After we talked I began to think about everything that goes into keeping a plane in the air. Everything that goes into keeping a pilot flying. Everything that goes into pre flight and a pilot being ready to fly. And thats when I realized that I do have a role in this. It’s important that I make sure I don’t disrupt his sleep the night before his flights. It’s important that he has a clean flight suit, a healthy meal before he flies, that he is awake and alert, that he has a cup of coffee, that he gets a hug and a kiss and is told that I love him. To not stress him out with petty things so he can stay focused on what he needs to do when he flys this enormous tanker across the Atlantic, Pacific, and god knows where else. To take care of the house, make sure the bills are paid, make sure the dogs are taken care of and the yard. To be able to be independent enough to handle things on my own when he is away, but not too stubborn to ask for help. To keep my identity and career. To continue to follow my dreams and pursuits while he is following his in this delicate balance of precious life. But mostly…to be supportive. To know that I may worry every time he puts on that flightsuit to fly, he loves what he does. And I am so proud of how hard he has worked to get there. And I am so proud of the sacrifices he makes for us to be there. So this is my promise to fold more socks, make more comfort food, and continue to give the love I know he deserves. From one home front to another, and as my dad always reminds me “fear and regret are twin theves who rob us of tomorrow”.

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Texas 70.3 Race Report

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    This has been a difficult race report to start writing. Where do I begin? I feel like there was so much  leading up to the race, let alone the race itself. I didn’t want this to be a blur of unorganized chaos. Besides, my race pictures are pretty gross, my times even more pitiful. Yet…how do I describe the odd sense of accomplishment I feel peeking through the cracks of slow split times ? Let me start with the traveling part!

    I’ve never traveled to a race by myself before. The furthest was to run Team Nationals and stay with my mother and father in law… and never traveling with a bike. So the thought of having to bring it on the plane, get it past security, find someone to reassemble (thanks awesome Hansen family )  and make sure it made it out of transition in one piece stressed me out. Let alone the thought of getting a flat on the course. I had to learn how to use a c02 cartridge the week before the race because although I always carried it, I’ve luckily never had to use it (note never still stands today…PHEW!). Trying to carry a bike box, a huge suitcase, a carry on, my helmet and a purse is NOT fun when your by yourself. Oh the things you take for granted!

47 lbs without the bike in it. United tried to charge me $200 just for the trip to Galveston!

47 lbs without the bike in it. United tried to charge me $200 just for the trip to Galveston!

I met the nicest couple on the bus over to rent my car. Amy was also racing, Guido was spectating. After a few minutes of chatting, we realized that Guido and I WERE ON THE SAME TEAM! This was so exciting to me because I finally felt like I wasn’t completely alone. Besides…they were great 🙂 Adam tried to tell me not to get talked into ANY extra charges for the rental car, but this woman had me completely convinced that the state of Texas REQUIRES you to carry this insurance for an extra 13 dollars/ day. After getting that straightened out, it was off to Galveston, a 90 minute commute in heavy traffic from Houston. Luckily not too hard to navigate by myself. My navigational skills are less than stellar. Especially when compared to that of a pilot. My hotel was great. Minus one thing. They were brand new and had NO CELL PHONE SIGNAL. UGH. Had to call all my family and let them know I was okay from outside. Which also meant no bedtime pep talks or face book stalking 😦 But on the good side of that, it forced me to FOCUS on what I needed to do. Saturday morning was the team breakfast. I was excited to meet the team. They were even nicer than I had expected. I met some great girls that were racing in my age group, and some really fast girls that I could only hope to catch up to some day. Chrissy handed out team uniforms while everyone ate. My uniform showed up at my house when Adam got home from dropping me off from the airport. Luckily, Chrissy was nice enough to bring me an extra men’s that she had. I tried it on in the bathroom at Denny’s. And it fit! Hey I never said it was flattering. Argh. I think i’m pointing to my pancakes in this photo . Anyone want a double decker? Still full!

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After breakfast I headed to the hotel with Dave and Jennie Hansen. Jennie is a professional on our team from my Rochester. I ran Cross Country against her at a neighboring high school, so i’ve been watching her pony tail in races for quite a few years. I don’t know what I would have done with out their help! Rented a bike? hah!  After that, I hit up the expo, to find out that surprise! You have no bib! You must go to the Solutions booth. Ok, no problem. They had me fill out more paperwork and take it to the timing chip booth. She told me to make sure that it was put into the computer. After asking the guy twice, he was clearly annoyed with me. He said look, it’ll get done. “Okay…sorry, thanks”. I walked away thinking “I hope so”. I of course purchased some nice gear and checked out the transitions and course before heading out. This was getting REAL!

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It was nice and warm without being HOT. Perfect weather. I was getting excited. T1 didn’t open until 2pm, so I would have to come back to set up my bike (you leave it there over night). That was a first too. When I did get my number, I realized that it was 2819…almost the last number in the race. And everyone in my age group was 5– something. Meaning their transition rack was directly behind the pro’s, and mine was among the relay’s.

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Breathe Katie. It’s okay. It’s the same race. Anxiety is building. Bike, car, phone, bib, rack, i’m here. It’s okayyyyy. Adam let me know that he looked up my name and I was showing up under “Team Myszka, Age 99”. AWESOME. So now not only will everyone tracking me be confused, but I won’t register with my age group. BREATHE KATIE. I found someone to ask. He assured me it was fixed. I asked again. He assured me it was fixed. “Okay…thanks”. After, I ran some last minute errands, tested out my bike, and brought it to transition, and went for a quick massage. He worked only on my right foot. I’ve been battling some nasty, nasty plantar fascitis and a heel spur, and figured this couldn’t hurt. I was nervous about how it would feel on the run. The massage felt AMAZINGGGGGG. First time I relaxed all week!

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Dinner was brutal! I had been fueling all day and just had to force feed myself that last meal. Gotta do it! I met some AMAZING people and was invited to sit with them at dinner. Turns out Chad’s parents were from Mount Morris, NY! And I met him in TEXAS?!? Such a small world!!! Sleep was not really happening Saturday night. I got about 2 hours. I just kept thinking about everything I needed to remember. This included the flow of my transitions which I had been working on. Helmet, feet, socks shoes….yupp. This was my plane ride.

photo(3)My alarm went of at 4am. Enough time to down the 2 cups of apple sauce, banana, and 24 ounces of perform. MMMM. YUMMY. Usually I start with Oatmeal and Coffee. But this race was different.  I checked the notes I left for myself everywhere, double checked, triple checked. Put on my uniform, put copious amounts of hairspray in my hair so that I had one less thing to touch and mess with getting out of the water. And lets not forget the body glide. Although I did forget one spot. Check out my nice trophy from my wetsuit!

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By 5am I was ready to go. I headed to Moody Gardens watching the same Youtube video over and over again. Coach Mary Eggers had sent this to her athletes. It was perfect. It describes us crazy endurance athletes perfectly.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuPLxQD4akQ

I got to transition and set everything up. I immediately went to another race director to try to get my “Team Myszka age 99” fixed again since it was still not correct online. I wanted to make sure my chip was okay. He said “were busy. It’s fine”. I knew they were…so I just went with it. Decided there wasn’t much I could do. I tried. I am SO GLAD Adam made me practice my transitions and think about how I wanted to set it up and keep it simple. It’s funny how it is such a short part of the race, but can be so stressful if you don’t think about it until race day. This made it easy for me. I got there, set it up just like I practiced, and relaxed.

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After finding my teammates QT2 teammates Kaitlin Anelauskas and Matt Curbeau, I settled down and walked to the swim start with my wetsuit, swim cap, goggles,  and morning drop bag. Getting real now! Matt was great about explaining what was going down, and Kaitlin was helping to settle my first time jitters. My team is just plain awesome. And FAST!  By the time we hit the bathroom one last time, we looked at our watch and it was time to go! We headed to the start, put on our wetsuits, dropped off our morning bags, took our last gel and headed onto the pier where we would jump into the water for the start! Here is just part of our wave on the pier. Just before jumping into the water.

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I started on the far, front, left as planned. Unfortunately, that too is where most of the other gals in my wave planned to start apparently. When the gun went off, I got pummeled. I guess I just hadn’t mentally prepared myself for the actual swim START. I had prepared myself for the SWIM. I had prepared myself to get kicked in the face once I had some momentum, to see feet in my face, to swim around people. I DID NOT expect people to try to swim over the top of me. I just hadn’t thought of it. I guess this is why everyone needs a first race. None the less, I had my very first very unexpected full blown water panic attack. I was expecting a very solid swim. Maybe I shouldn’t have given myself so much credit, but my swim times in the pool (cough cough, I know) had improved a lot. I was hoping to be between 31-32 minutes . I just really thought I had that in me. I have spent what I thought was a lot of time in the pool. Anyways, I came up for air and panicked. Thoughts rushed into my head immediately. “I can’t do this.” Oh my god I can’t do this. I can’t breathe. I can’t move!” I was treading water. The damn gun had gone off and I was TREADING WATER! Anyone who knows me knows that me and the starting cannon have a little love affair. I hear it and I GO. There was never such thing as “an easy day” in a race. I just hear it and something inside me lights on fire. But at this moment. I could not move. It was as if all the stress I had felt before the race had come piling down on me and I just couldn’t swim. Just try to take a stroke. I put my face in the water, took one stoke and came up again. My body was fighting my brain. NO! NO! You can’t! I have to! I can’t! But you want to! No I don’t ! Yes Katie! Yes you do! Don’t let this stop you! Oh my god. This is ridiculous i’m wasting time!!!! My moment of clarity came when I heard the swim coach from home telling me to visualize. What would you see? I told her before I left that I would see the pool because I love swimming. It relaxes me. I would see the lane line in a calm pool. So I closed my eyes, put my face in the water and swam. And that was the end of the panic. It just clicked. I then found myself on someones feet. Unfortunately, I was too caught up in following them to realize they were way off course! WAY OFF COURSE. When I came up, it was to the paddle board pointing to the buoy wayyyy off in the distance. CRAP! Stay calm, FOCUS. MAKE THIS RIGHT KATIE YOU HAVE TO FOCUS. I knew that these first time jitters were OBVIOUSLY getting the best of me and I had a choice from this point on. Let them ruin my race that I had worked so hard to get to, or deal with it and go. So that’s what I did. I swam. The rest of the swim felt amazing. Almost too easy. I was passing people like crazy. Like a big game of Pac man as Mary would say. Spotting the buoys seemed to be no problem from that point on. I did what Mary told me to do and it was working really well. The sad part it, my average pace was pathetic from treading water and going off course. Although, for as easy as the swim felt I think I should have pushed the pace much harder than I did. Again, this first time race stuff is a lot harder than I had anticipated. Especially when you cant read your watch in the water!

Headed into T1 (1st Transition) I used a wetsuit stripper. The run back was very long and I felt very very disoriented. I was falling over putting on my bike gear but managed a pretty quick transition time. Here we go. The part of the race that has always made me the most nervous. The bike. Thankfully this was flat as a pancake. I just wasn’t as experienced of a biker as the other athletes. I was planning on basing my whole race pace on my Heart rate, focusing in on the bike. But when I got hopped on, my watch read — — — where the heart rate should be. I jostled with it a little. And still nothing. Ok Katie don’t worry. This is why we practice. (Here you can see me trying to move it around)

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Mary told me that my pace would feel slow. That I would be mad because I would feel like she was holding me back. So I knew that I had to find a pace that felt like that. So that’s what I did. My heart rate monitor did end up kicking in, but I was afraid to trust it by this point. I was trying to go based on feel, and unfortunately I just don’ t have an awesome “feel ” for my pacing on the bike yet. It was definitely under where I should have been. In my head I was just not sure what 56 miles was going to bring having a half marathon ahead of me. Typically, I would hammer the half marathon and I wanted to save some energy for it. I was really focused in on the nutrition for this race. I had worked out a modest plan with Mary going in, but we hadn’t tried it yet, so there was no telling how my body would react. This was totally my own fault. So dumb. I should have been practicing with it all along. But I was trying to train with REAL FOOD! Trying to be HEATLHY! Well…healthy would be to train with what the course provides and to eat healthy the rest of the day! Mary said I should pee within the first hour on the bike. Wait. Like…on my bike? Yeahhhh I tried. EEEEEEE. EEEEE. PUSHHHHH. UGH I can’t do it! I stopped to pee twice. I was glad to know I was hydrated, but man I hate wasting time. I  can see it now. Me: “I’ll be back in an hour” Adam: “Where you going?”

Me: “I’m going to go practice urinating on myself”

Oh the perks of being an athlete 🙂

Over the course of the bike I took in 3 bottles of Powerade Perform, 12 Shot blocks, 1 Accel gel, and 1 bottle of water. More than I have ever take for any ultra marathon or marathon I have ever run. When I got off the bike, my legs felt good, but my stomach not so much. I felt like I was going to throw up. I had a pretty quick transition and just tried to keep my feet moving. I could tell that this run was going to be rough. I was supposed to take in perform at every aide station, and a gel every 40 minutes. I couldn’t even bear the thought of taking a sip of water. For the first 4-5 miles I did all I could…pour water over my head to keep my body cool with sponges. And try not to vomit.

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I could feel my pace slowing from the 7 minute mile I was holding. Instead of the negative splits I was planning on, my pace was slowly falling. I could feel that I somehow needed to find a time to get some nutrition in me. I forced down a gel around mile 4 or 5. Took enough water to chase it without making me too sick. I was feeling utterly horrible with bouts of semi horrible and rare bouts of mildly terrible. That’s how the whole half marathon felt. I’m not used to that. It was definitely a mental battle with myself to cross that line. I’ve never felt so sick on a run. I tried to put my brain in my feet if that makes any sense. If it was anywhere else I think I would have spent most of the race over the garbage can. It was awesome seeing so many of my QT2 teammates over the 3 loop course. My favorite section of the race was on the waterfront, where the QT2 pro’s , early starts, and FAST finishers were there screaming their heads off for us! Here is my favorite picture. Caitlin Snow cheering after placing 3rd overall Female Pro. What an incredible girl! Love her!

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The run course was three loops with LOTS of turns. My feet felt like they were completely blistered on the bottom. Rookie mistake : new shoes and second time wearing them in a race. OMG. DAH!

Crossing the finish line was an amazing sense of accomplishment and disappointment at the same time. I had set my goal much higher for myself for this race. But considering what I was facing during the race, I could have given up. I could have walked away and said “next year i’ll try again”. But I decided to grit my teeth (I mean smile) and cross the line anyways. Like I talk about when I talk about the marathon and life.

“Isn’t this why we put ourselves through this? To press on when we think we can’t? To stay strong when we want to fall apart? To use the energy from those around us, while giving off our own for others to use? To dig deep when you know it counts? That is the heart of Endurance to me.  We are fighters. “

As stated in the quote at the beginning of my blog. I may have come a long way, but I have a long ways to go. I am looking forward to my next race and improving upon the things that I was able to get rid of with first time jitters. I am looking forward to doing a race that will have me traveling HOME! To test the waters again and my mental preparedness to withstand the swim start. To handle a hilly bike course with a whole new added stress of my mental axiety from that bike crash, and to come of the bike nutritionally sound and ready to run the race I know that I can. Syracuse….I’m coming for you!

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Lessons in climbing brick walls

It has been a long time since my last post. Quite honestly I felt as if nothing significant enough had happened in my training to post. I mean…how do I compete with crashing my bike, ripping my leg open, and loosing my memory? I know. I know.  it’s not a competition, but everything else seems so much less exciting to write about!

I officially started training again 8 weeks ago. Base building for 8 weeks can get pretty repetitive, but I was more than grateful to be able to be on the road to competing again. Mary Eggers (my coach) and I chose Galveston Texas 70.3 and Syracuse 70.3, with the goal to qualify for the Championship in Las Vegas. My base of Endurance was starting lower than I had the first go around because of the crash, and I had some muscle imbalances to work out during this time. Physical Therapy has been amazing. They keep telling me how much they love “kicking my butt” when I come in. Glad I can keep them entertained! These past 8 weeks have proved to be crucial and extremely beneficial in my training this season. I have felt significant gains in my bike and swim in the recent weeks. It’s amazing to me how the most seemingly small change can make such a significant difference. The biggest gain being in my swim recently. After a video analysis with Mary, we realized how deep my entry is. I was loosing half of my pull and not realizing it. Since making the adjustments to my form, I’ve been able to shed a lot of time…and my arms and lungs are thanking me too!

I used to feel a disconnect with the bike. Not MY bike…I love my bike. But biking in general. Maybe this contributed to my loss of control in the crash. Who knows. But my last outdoor ride something just clicked. 2 hours into my ride, my legs felt as if they were part of the bike, like I was one with the bike. I couldn’t believe how much faster and more efficiently I was peddling! FINALLY the “Ah hah” moment I had been waiting for!

This past Sunday I had a time trial 5k on the schedule. I usually don’t get very nervous for a race. Anxious…oh yeah, but nervous? NO. But I was so nervous for this race! I kept thinking….I haven’t broken Zone 1 in months…more than that! Probably since the crash! Did my lungs have it ? Did my legs have it? I was coming off of a nasty flu bug that swept the state of California. All I knew was that Mary said “run your heart out”. So I did. My first mile felt great. I was holding 5:50 and felt totally comfortable. Halfway through the second mile…still felt great. I thought for sure I would be able to hold this pace no problem. Just before I hit the 2 mile mark, my legs started feeling heavy. Not even necessarily that burning I can’t hold it, but just HEAVY. My lungs felt totally fun, but I had done the calculations in my head and knew the pace I had to hold. Too bad I did my math wrong! Note to self…do the math BEFORE the gun goes off! I was trying to be in the 18’s, but unfortunately my body and my heart were fighting each other on Sunday. My legs were wondering what they were doing and my mind was like your fine just go! I’ve never had that happen to me before. Usually my lungs would give out before my body. I finished fairly frustrated with my performance, but then it hit me. Katie…6 months ago you weren’t walking. You were laying on the side of the road wondering if you broke your nose or neck. You were wondering if you had torn something in your knee. And here I am holding 5:50 miles and feeling “comfortable”. I placed 2nd over all. But my time was all I was focusing on at that point in time.  The only words I can use to describe the feelings I have right now are a grateful heart, with a realistic view of where I am at, a determined heart to know where I want to go, and the dedication and fire to keep me going after it. Every. Single.Day.  Because in the words of Aristotle:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then,  is not an act, but a habit.”

 

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July 25, 2012

“He said I had Broken wings. Son you have to look deeper, look beyond the hurt, the hate, the jealousy the soft pity. Way down deeper where the dreams lay. Find your dreams son. It’s the pursuit of the dreams that will heal you. “

–          Billy Mills, Olympic Gold Medalist in the 10,000 meters 1964

 

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Billy Mills is one of the greatest inspirations in my life. He is literally the reason that I won my first race, and a large part of the reason that I found passion in running. I remember watching him guest speak in 2002 in Rochester, NY (my home town). He talked about the power of the mind and its ability to accomplish amazing things. I specifically remember him telling us his Olympic victory story. In his words…

“For me it was a form of self hypnosis. And I visualized dozens of times a day. Then I started with my workout book. Now how do you improve your time two minutes? Or a minute and fifty seconds? Its almost too phenominal to think about. So I just went to the simplist form of something I thought I could believe. Once around the track, 25 laps. I just have to put forth (snaps his fingers) “that” much more effort each lap. Times 25 laps and thats fifty seconds. My thoughts changing from one more try one more try to I can win I can win. 30 yards to go my thoughts became over and over again  I won I won I won, but I’m still in 3rd place.”

 

At that moment I realized I had just learned something incredibly special. And I was pumped about the next day’s race. I was new to Cross Country, but had an old soul for it. I remember the back third of the race (Mendon Ponds Park for you Rochestarians ) Devils bath tub, suicide and cardiac hill). Coming into the last hill I started snapping my fingers. I seemed to forget my fatigue at that moment. So each minute of the race I would pick up my pace for ( snap- snap – snap- snap – snap) 5 seconds. Well 5 seconds turned to a minute and before I knew it, I was in the lead. In fact, so far in the lead I couldnt see my opponents. As I came up on the final 400, I started chanting “i’m going to win, i’m going to win, i’m winning”. And from that race on, I found this increasingly passionate love for the ZEN of running, for pushing my body past what I thought was possible. If we stop where we think our limits are, are we really pushing ourselves to the limit? Or are we sacrificing our true potential? I’m not sure…but I was willing to find out. 

Fast forward 10 years! Most of you reading this know me and my history of running, turned love of swimming and biking and pursuit of a career in triathlon. In fact, most of you are waiting to hear what the heck happened. The truth is, I wasn’t just trying to give you an exclusive look at my knee cap. Although I must say, i’m glad its still there 🙂 There is a point to the story of Billy Mills….bear with me 🙂

 

Last Saturday I headed out on a brick ride/run with one of the most talented triathletes in this area. He has qualified for Kona 14 times. We rode a hilly loop to Lake Berryessa (out near Napa Valley, CA). For the first time, I hit 40 mph coming down off the “hill”. More like a mountain- but anyways. Bryant asked me why i did so well keeping up with him on the uphill, but trailed behind him so far on the down. I told him I was still a bit timid as I haven’t had many opportunities to do such hilly courses with steep declines. I also didn’t know the roads (note to self- know your route!). I struck up a conversation on the next uphill to pass time. “Hey B- you ever had a bad crash?” “Yupp, when I lived in Kona.” He went on to tell me the story of how the road ravaged his bike and sent him on a little flight on the hawaiian coastline. Then he asked me “You? ” I replied- “Nope…but I know everyone has their first crash. And that’s always scared me.” Well I hope you never do he said as we were pumping up the hill. 

     About 30 minutes later he told me to jump ahead of him and “be careful Kate, this downhill is very steep and technical”. I will B- Thanks. I wasnt sure what to expect, but given the fact that he thought it was technical made me extra sensitive. I remember thinking- okay, this isn’t so bad. There just isn’t a shoulder. I squeezed my legs together and got low to lower my center of gravity. I took a big turn to the left and it started getting really steep. My senses were supercharged now as I glanced up to see what was ahead. With no recovery time, I was into the next turn and had only a split second to decide. Oh god i’m not going to make it flashed through my head. I knew I could do one of two things: 1) Turn into on coming traffic or 2) tap my back brake and pray it will slow me down enough to JUST miss the side of the road. As I tapped my back brake, my rear wheel locked up and I felt it start to skid. I let off the brake but it was too late, my pretty new Giant Time Trial bike had sent me going 30 mph into a wooden stake sticking out of the side of the hill. It seemed as if life were in slow motion at that moment. I remember everything. I couldn’t see anything, but I heard my brake, the bang of my bike , my body hitting the ground and I remember moaning as my body skid across the rocks. I remember praying God let me stop skidding. I remember being terrified another one of those wooden stakes would impale me. Finally the ride stopped and i was laying face down. I rolled over and felt excruciating pain in my left knee. I looked down and saw my knee cap. I screamed Bryant’s name but he was still trying to safely brake from the descent himself. The car behind me stopped and rushed over with a shirt. I threw it over my leg and said GOD HELP ME GOD! Ugh…sorry too much detail. At that point I remember thinking that I had these tools. My coach Mary and my team QT2 has taught me about being mentally durable. I wasn’t ever really sure what that felt like. I thought it just meant muscling through everything. The water, my peddle strokes, my hack squats. But at that moment, I realized that mental durability meant being able to show courage in the face of fear. To show strength in the face of weakness, and to be at a place within yourself that no one, no injury, nothing tangible could ever touch. And at that moment, the pain vanished. I smiled at Bryant and said “B- I think I need a new helmet”. I laid my head back on the floor mat from the generous civilians car and waited 20 minutes for the EMT’s to arrive. We had no cell phone signal, so a passing car drove to a call box to phone for help. I honestly don’t remember anything but nothing. I remember everything about the nothing. The sounds, the smells, the sights, but I felt nothing. I had put myself into this zone and no one was going to touch it. I had never felt so strong yet so powerless at the same time. 

     Once the paramedics arrived, I had begun to feel some pain in my neck and back. My nose hurt and I wasn’t sure if it was broken or not. They decided to back board me in case I had any spinal cord injuries. The EMT asked if I wanted morphine, and I said “No thanks…i’m good”.  I remember thinking Lets see how tough I really am. I think he thought I was crazy.

 

I remember taking my phone out to call Adam 4 or 5 times while I laid there, forgetting every time I had no cell phone signal. What was I going to do? He was in Seattle! We just got my new bike! Now I cant do my long run tomorrow! STOP KATIE STOP. Thought stopping is an amazing skill. You just stop everything negative going through your head at the moment and STOP. I asked the medic how my bike was and he said I think it might need some work 🙂 Dang- I just got that thing! 

 

At the hospital I was poked and x rayed. The numbing and scrubbing of my laceration was more painful than the fall, but I kept thinking durability durability durability. Lisa came and held by hand and took me home (an angel as always). I’m not sure what I would have done without her. Taken a cab home? Adam called in the troops and his friend Brandon Jones stayed the night with me. My friends and neighbors picked up meds, offered dinner, came to visit and lifted my spirits. I was amazed at how loved I truly felt. From the bottom of my heart. I love you all! Even my long distance supports, my parents, friends, and fellow team mates. Thank you! 

 

My prognosis is good. I have a MRI of my brain tomorrow to check some inflammed blood vessels found in a CT scan. Hopefully just a concussion. Other than that, every day is getting better and better. I talked to coach and we are already planning my recovery. Lots of swimming in my near future! I am grateful to be alive, partially healthy, and so loved. 

 

If you ever find yourself questioning your ability to move forward. Take Billy’s advice. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Break things into manageable pieces. My recovery plan? Listen to my coaches, thank God i’m still alive, recover stronger, faster, and better than ever. And learn how to hit a steep descend without going over my handle bars :O) 

 

““You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” ― Dr. Seuss

I can’t believe it’s been over a month since my last blog! I will be making these more regular now that I might have more to talk about 🙂  So much has happened since my last blog it’s hard to believe it has only been a month! First things first- my hubby is finally home 🙂 It was just as amazing, sweet, and intense butterflies in the stomach moment as I described! Since then, both his sister and parents have been out to Cali for a visit.

The next most important thing that has changed is MY BIKE!!! I kept waiting to become more comfortable on it, but it never happened. I had Aero bars but on, the stem changed, and 3 bike fittings. Last month I started getting horrible migraines that were keeping me up at night, and keeping me from functioning during the day. I just couldn’t fathom another long ride on that thing. Just thinking about it made me cringe. The bike shop I got the bike from treated me like a total newbie. You either have bad form or a weak core…its not the bike its you. Well I knew better than that. Maybe my core does need strengthening, and my form improvement…but I shouldn’t feel this disconnected from a bike I put that many hours on each week. So I took it to a bike shop specializing in Triathlons…and the first thing they said? That bike is WAY too big for you! Wow . Really ? SHOCKER! hahaha. After testing out the appropriate sizes and realizing that I just don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on what I really need…. a smaller Time Trial bike- I turned to Craigslist. I came home after a Saturday ride almost in tears, started up my computer and THERE SHE WAS. My beautiful perfectly sized Time Trial bike on Craiglist being sold by a hard core roadie who was moving from San Fran. Adam and I took a drive out, I rode it and felt connected to it immediately. Here she is folks 🙂

I couldn’t believe the difference! No migraines, no pain, and WAY more power. My recovery pace had suddenly become my zone one pace from my other bike. AND it’s a Giant 🙂 I just happened to do a Catalog photo shoot with them last month for their new Fall catalog coming out next month! I am working on a possible sponsorship deal with them right now. This bike is awesome! I am so impressed with this company! So I had one recovery ride on the bike, and an Olympic Tri the next day in Herald, CA. I threw myself into the race with a bike i’ve ridden once, and two pretty gross off weeks of training. Well…turns out that bike served me well 🙂 I came out 8th in the swim (Didnt have a good swim. Pretty sure a wet suit would have helped, although my T1 was great!), I was in the lead until the turn around on the bike after passing the 7 women ahead of me, when all of the sudden a gal blew by me and said “Don’t worry! I’m not in your age group it doesn’t matter”! It doesn’t matter!??! Yes it does! She was a strong biker and I knew it. She looked smooth and unphased by the hills, heat, and previous discipline. So I smiled and said great job, and made a pact with myself to try to keep with her as long as I could, to try to catch her on the run. See… part of this wonderful new bike was not having a water bottle in the front, or the back! After not realizing this (rookie mistake) until after I set up transition and ONLY BRINGING WATER! DAH! ROOKIE! I was just going to have to suck it up. I had Gels and ONE water bottle and it was in the 90’s…and thats it. I felt pretty dehydrated getting off the bike, and my stomach ached from not having enough water to wash down my gel. GROSS. Either way my favorite part of the race was yet to come. I hit transition and heard the announcer yelling to me. “KATIE! You’ve got some catching up to do! You are 3 minutes behind Holly our lead woman!” I smiled, threw my shoes on- gave him a wink and took off. I felt MUCH slower than normal. I felt tired, hot, dehydrated and just plain off. I knew this wasn’t going to be the best race of my life considering the nutritional mistakes I had made, but I also knew that running was MY game, MY sport, My passion. And if biking was hers- I could catch her. I hit the first water stop and they told me she was hurting. A mix of (oh man I hope she’s okay, and  yes! I can catch her) crossed my mind. I held my pace and made my way through the dry, hot, dirt fire roads of Rancho Seco park with no water, and no gels. I was hurting but knew that I could hold on- because running was my thing. Around mile 2 I passed her and we exchanged high fives. We’re all here for similar reasons, and I admire my competition- but I came to win. I pulled in a pretty big lead and was happy to be coming into the sights of the finish line. I could hear the announcer saying “And here comes our First Place Female! Holly….wait no its not Holly! Its…..its…Katie Myska!”  I laughed. It felt pretty awesome to come back from being the under dog 🙂 No one knew who I was, or where I came from- but I got the job done and I was satisfied with my performance. The best part was knowing this time Adam was at the finish line. He is an amazing fan, caddy, driver, and cheerleader.

Finally after a streak of 2nd place finishes…I get my 1st. Hopefully lots more of these to come 🙂 But the most important lessons i’ve learned aren’t about place. Adam and I have been living with questioning of – What is a number? Its just a number. When I stress about weight, its just a number. When we stress about age, its just a number, place, its just a number. Certainly we can find more happiness in more tangible things than a number. So why do we place so much value in them?

Swimming is beginning to click. I began swimming a few days a week with a masters program. I am absolutely amazed at the amount of talent in this area. I am SO FORTUNATE to be surrounded by so many amazing athletes and personalities. Friday at the pool, the coach pulled me out of the water to help me learn the catch and pull. I can swim, but I power through it. She helped me FEEL the water. She took my hand to hears and made the motion, making me feel pressure against her hand and repeating it over and over. She was so patient, and gave me a deeper understanding of WHY, HOW, WHEN, AND WHAT to do to transfer the skills to the water. I got in and boom, light bulb. So THATS what its supposed to feel like. For so long I didnt know what it was supposed to feel like- so how do you know if your doing it right? Come to find out, she was an Olympic swimmer, and now coaches Olympic Trial athletes. I was pretty excited when she asked me to leave Triathlon to come swim. I politely declined. I love Triathlon, and i’m learning to love swimming too.

I’ve been fortunate enough to become friends with one of the most dedicated, most talented runners i’ve ever met. This gal has qualified and ran in the Olympic Trials for the Marathon, won countless half marathons and marathons, and has a PR of about 2:17. Incredible. And not to mention she is a great friend, wife, mom, and amazing cook. I am so blessed to have her as one of my training buddies.

One of my best, most amazing, incredible, talented and special friends I have made here is Lisa Holdener. This woman is like my angel. She has been my rock when Adam is away, she has been a training buddy, a friend, and an example of what I want to be as a mother and  wife. She is strong not only in Triathlon, but her morals, goals, and character. She is truly an inspiration to me and so many others. She is a HUGE presence in this community, and I personally know for a fact I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for her support. Her husband recently blogged about sports psychology and the importance of companionship. Lisa…if you are reading this. Thank You. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being you. I know blogs are supposed to be about yourself- but you help me learn more about myself every day. And for that I could never repay you. You have the most beautiful heart. I feel so blessed to be a part of your life!

Be on the look out for my very own Triathlon T-shirt line! I am teaming up with an amazing amazing business man Teddy Yueng of Spoken Cloth. My line is called “Tri Moxie “.  I think  you have to have MOXIE to be a triathlete. Grit, guts, strength 🙂 Lots of fun things to come!

QT2 systems is amazing. I am slowly learning more and more about myself, my training, the importance of durability, mental toughness, and the importance of trust and RECOVERY. They know what they are doing, and I trust. I trust my amazing coach Mary Eggers, I trust their theories and their experience, knowledge and passion for Triathlon. I can’t wait to keep on this path towards fulfilling my goal of becoming a Professional Triathlete.

Good luck to Jennie Hansen and all the other QT2 team mates competing in Lake Placid this month! GO TEAM! 🙂

“Of all the body parts we train for this unforgiving pursuit of ours- none is more important than the mind.” ~Chrissie Wellington

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     Its been quite a while since my last blog. I am sorry! You would think I would have all the time in the world with a deployed husband, but the past few weeks have been busy. Its funny how I PACK my schedule as full as I can to pass the time, giving myself not a moment to take in the quiet that happens when you are completely alone. I have always been that way. “Whats next? Where are we going? Are we there yet? And I’m bored!” were CONSTANT questions flaring out of my mouth as a child. I still live this way today- only I can entertain myself. Most recently I’ve taken up NESTING! Thats right- just like a pregnant woman nests before her baby arrives. Nope, not pregnant- just anxiously awaiting Adams return. Cleaning, organizing, organizing, cleaning… seems like forever ago that we said goodbye yet the time has flown. I can’t wait to walk out to that flight line and watch my “fly guy” step off those air stairs as I jump into his arms. That moment…that very moment is like the first kiss. Like the very first time those butterflies  fill your tummy. Only this time- its with of relief.

     Training has been going great. I absolutely feel stronger. Its amazing to me how much different I feel. I’m hoping it will improve my times which will be tested this weekend in a Sprint Tri. I will be racing the Mermaid Triathlon in the Bay on Saturday. It should be a lot of fun, although I wish the course was longer than a sprint. Not that i’m not looking forward to busting out a few (hopefully quick miles) in my amazing new T2 Pearl Izumi shoes. I think i’m in love! The swim is going to be COLD. I have never done a swim in the Bay before, but everyone keeps telling me how dirty the water is. YUCK! At least I wont be able to see the sharks and fish 🙂 I’m very curious to see how I feel on the bike. With all of the time i’ve been spending on it, I am hoping to see improvement. My training rides have been windy!!!! Which is good training since the course will be too, but definitely takes away the speed factor.

      I got to run 75 minutes this weekend and it felt AMAZING! It keeps reminding me how much I love to run, and how much I miss it! ALTHOUGH I will say- I am in love with swimming and am really coming to love biking too. Running will always be my first, but i’ll share :O) I am STARTING to feel like I have some structure. Getting into the swing of the QT2systems program and coaches. I am LOVING the team. I can’t wait to continue to improve and pursue this passion.

     Nutrition has been- well lets face it a BIG BRICK WALL for me. Its a mental battle for me knowing that I have to put on muscle before I can take off any (non-lean body fat percentage) to put it nicely. I’ve always had “the runners body”, and its a completely different ball game. Mary keeps telling me LONG TERM KATIE….so i’m keeping that in the fore front of my mind. For years I struggled with an eating disorder, and am DETERMINED not to let it control me, my life, my decisions, and especially my atheltic abilities. I can’t believe looking back now how much time it wasted. How much talent it wasted. How much of me it wasted (away literally). For those of us who have struggled, we always will. But it makes us stronger. 90% of the battle is mental, which i’ve only most recently come to realize. One of my best friends/ triathlete describes it as being “perfectly imperfect”. I like that quote. I think all women should carry that around in their back pocket. I’m finding myself watching less TV because advertising just frustrates me. The amount of pressure that the media puts on women disgusts me.

GIRLS- you are perfect. Just as you are. Perfectly IMPERFECT. I love you for that. For being you and only you. Flaws and all.

     My focus for this week: SHADES OF GRAY:  (not the book)

“Katie, people like you and I are  RIGHT or WRONG, GOOD or BAD, ALL IN or ALL OUT, BLACK or WHITE. But you have to learn that sometimes its OKAY to be in the gray area. You can’t be 100% or 0% ALL of the time. Shades of Gray are not a bad thing. Sometimes your just OKAY. And thats perfect.”

 

WOW. What a powerful statement. I had never thought in shades of gray before. Accept yourself for EXACTLY where you are at RIGHT NOW. This doesnt mean you have to stay there. It just means you acknowledge where you are at that very moment and accept it. OK …I accept it- now lets move on.

Lets get better. Lets keep working. This might be when I realized I had to stop yelling at my Heart Rate for running to slow. How can I already be in Zone 1? Nope…its okay- just means I have work to do. And this girl likes work!

I never knew  “the fire burning inside you” werent just words- but feelings. I feel it. I feel the fire. I want this so badly I can taste it. Burn baby burn. Bring on those shades of gray. I’ll take them, acknowledge and accept them and better myself with them. This life is far too beautiful for anything less.