12.27.2015

My 35th Year

Ironman North Carolina

36 years old. Whoa, I’d like to say that again. Thirrrrrrrty-six. Thirty-six. They say people get more comfortable with age. For the most part I think this is true although no matter how comfortable I feel with myself and the world around me I don’t think I ever wish to get so comfy that I stop learning, growing, and discovering. You won’t believe what I got myself for my birthday by the way.  Then again, you probably will.

I wonder why people get so hyped up over their birthdays, at least after childhood years. We are celebrating the day we entered the world which means we are celebrating life.  This is something we should celebrate and give thanks for every day, right?  As a kid there was a lonely feeling about being a Christmas baby. A birthday scattered in with the holiday craze. Once I became an adult it didn’t matter, although I often still associate my birthday with those same feelings I had as a child, usually hoping it will come and go quickly. Now, I look my birthday as a time to reflect and set new goals for my next year ahead.

Thirty-five was one of my greatest years. Packed with things I’m passionate about, thirty-five kept me busy. The highlights of my year are of easy to pick out…racing IRONMAN Lake Placid and the IRONMAN World Championships on the MMRF Team for Cures.  I still owe myself an IMLP race report and Kona race report, I know. Right before I turned 35 I set a goal to race IMLP and to raise $35,000 for the MMRF. That’s $1,000 to give thanks and celebrate each of my years. This was my goal and priority of the year. I knew this was possible and I never doubted that for one second. I had no idea though how much dedication, hard work, and passion it would take to end up raising $44,894 and earn the opportunity to race the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. Being part of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation Team for Cures through IMLP, fundraising and racing the IRONMAN World Championship were indeed some of my biggest and most exciting accomplishments yet so I look back at age 35 with a lot of happiness.

There were a lot of other things too that made this past year joyful. The month after turning 35 I enrolled in a Hypnosis and childbirth education instructor course. After attending births using Hypnobabies for two years I decided to take the next step to get certified to teach.  I had no idea how much I was overloading myself with commitments at the time.  I figured it was already going to be a busy year so why not add one more thing that’s important to me?  Somehow it all worked out wonderfully, phew.  I scaled back quite a bit with work though, only taking birth doula clients for half of the year and much less with my other business in order to remain focused on fundraising, training and studying. I was able to doula thirteen beautiful births and seven Hypnobabies students gave birth this fall and winter. I’m grateful for each family I worked with. Being a doula for the past five years has made such a huge impact on my life and career satisfaction. My studies, course training, fundraising, Ironman training and racing, and maintaining business this year by no means was easy and overall it was a huge challenge.  The pressure felt intense although I enjoyed what I was doing.  I met so many inspirational people, new friends and had such incredible support. Visiting my family in Ohio this summer was another highlight for Joe and Hattie’s wedding.  It was awesome to have so much of our family together again. Thirty-five was a year of incredible opportunities.

Thirty-six.  I like typing thirty-five so much more but I know great things are ahead for thirty-six so long as I make space and begin creating them. Nothing that happened last year happened by sitting around waiting. Starting the morning first thing with a wonderful yoga class and hearing “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” from niece and nephew on the phone were two of the best parts of my day. Boy do I love hearing their voices.  That and hearing from everyone in my family. I also made an important decision today after going back and forth for 2 1/2 months since Kona.  I’ve been asking myself whether or not to race Ironman next year. It’s funny how I look back on Kona, the biggest race the exists, and think how fast it came and went and how much it really meant to me. A big part of me feels like I need a break next year to focus on other personal goals. I made the decision not to race a full Ironman in 2016 and signed up for IRONMAN Atlantic City 70.3 on MMRF Team for Cures. Keep reading though, sometimes it doesn’t take much to change my plans. The other part of me has felt bummed when I think about the year without Ironman. How can I top the experience of Kona?  Truth is, I probably never will so in some way thinking about the next Ironman isn’t so exciting.  That’s not a valid reason not to continue though and the goal isn’t to surpass that experience. There’s always new goals that comes along with each one and the challenge of each race is so much fun and rewarding. You see, my relationship with Ironman has been a strong one. Deeply connected, so much growth and a great deal of positive change with each one. Ahhhh, IRONMAN. I love you. Why not start the first day of my next year with new goals? Well, well, well… great timing.  Last night I was fishing around on the internet and realized that IMNC opened for registration a few days ago. It seems like the perfect race since it falls late in the season. Enough time to still allow my mind and body a break before focusing on training plans in May. I don’t sit on decisions like this too long so just like that I purchased myself a huge birthday present. IRONMAN North Carolina HAPPY 36th BIRTHDAY TO ME!  And yes, I picked this over the all-inclusive Costa Rica yoga teacher trip I was considering, which ran around the same price and would have been the same month. Sitting on the beach for an entire week sounds incredibly boring and a long weekend getaway to race 140.6 miles is so much fun! I’ve never signed up for a race this far ahead though (301 days) so the excitement factor isn’t quite there yet plus like I said…something about the next Ironman isn’t quite as big of a deal as the previous. I know once I get started with training something special will come out of it though as something always does with each one. Oh, and I guess this means I’ll finally be getting my big girl bike this year too. That’s pretty exciting!

I look forward to all that’s ahead for my next year. Celebrating life every day. Love, Keli

 

11.26.2015

Thanksgiving Every Day

It’s 3:15am Thanksgiving morning and I am just heading to sleep. I’ve been studying, writing a research paper, and chatting with a friend. My right eye isn’t feeling right and I’m pretty sure it’s pink eye. I must get it checked out tomorrow. It’s not right to be on call or show up to my friend’s dinner without knowing what’s going on with my eye.

I love the whole concept Thanksgiving…this day of appreciation, sharing, and togetherness.  Thanksgiving Day will be over before we know it, but how about we continue the spirit of Thanksgiving all year round? Thanksgiving is more than just a holiday where we overeat, spend time with family, maybe run a 5K Turkey Trot, and watching football. On Thanksgiving do you really take time to think about all that you are thankful for and give thanks?  If you do why don’t we all treat every day as a day to give thanks? We give thanks almost everyday when we say “thank you” although it’s often automatic and without thought, feeling, or much meaning.  How often do we reflect on all that we are thankful for? This evening I had an important conversation with a friend and at the end I let him know that I am thankful for him. How often do we tell friends and family members that we appreciate having them in our lives?

The holidays are known to be hectic and stressful for some people.  With all that goes on in our daily lives it can be easy to forget why we celebrate traditions such as Thanksgiving in the first place. We become so caught up in what we think we have to do, cooking, shopping, and so on instead of being thankful and expressing gratitude.  Live each day with gratitude and notice the positive impact it will have on you and those around you. Take a moment each day to give thanks and celebrate each day, even if it’s just the little things. Show appreciation to everyone who makes a contribute in your life. Appreciate the good in your life.  Give thanks daily.

Happy Thanksgiving today and every day!

Keli

11.2.2015

Stealing Race Photos

 

Stealing race photos

Happy Monday!  Did you get out of bed early this morning to go work for free?   Nope, didn’t think so. Think about it. Marathoners and triathletes continually steal images. Literally…steal. Sharing on social media and proud of it. I am speaking to many of my friends, fellow runners and triathletes with great intentions here. I share not to embarrass anyone but to bring up something many might not have thought about. I write this post with kind intentions simply to raise awareness.

As both a wedding and birth professional where photography is part of each event, I can not imagine these photographers working for free. Can you?  How often do you see people post their wedding and baby pictures online watermarked? Photographers and photography companies invest thousands of dollars in high-end equipment, numerous of hours into learning their trade, their studio, and spend an entire day keeping on their toes to capture each and every one of us. Time is valuable. They capture the moments that make our lives, moments we re-live through images, the emotions and settings of our race, and produce the still version of our moments so that we can remember them forever. Many of us say we can’t “afford” the race picture or make an excuse when we post the proof. But really?  A single image averages $20 and I know that an entire set of Ironman images is usually $99. I imagine smaller marathons and triathlons are less. But this isn’t about whether or not you agree with pricing. If images are important to you, this fee is priceless for the lifetime of memories we dedicate much of our lives to. We invest hundreds (or thousands in triathlon) of dollars in proper nutrition, athletic gear, running shoes, fancy watches, gym memberships, training, and countless gadgets that aren’t even necessary to race.  We sign up for the race  to race…since when does a race owe us free images?  Did you know when you signup for a race, the waiver includes the consent to have your picture/video taken?  It does not say those images are free. Photography companies are a business. And one to respect and appreciate. When you search for your race photos there is a “buy now” option because it’s illegal to take the proofs.  It is stealing.  Do the right thing. Buy the images.  Remember, you don’t work for free. Neither should they. If photos are that important to you and you truly can not afford them, why not ask a friend or family member to cheer you on at the race and capture your moments?

Let’s put it this way: if you see an unattended bike in a park, would you steal it and start training with it?  If the answer is yes, I can’t help you. If it’s no, maybe this post will change your perceptions of how we, the race community, should purchase race photos on the Internet. Wishing you all a wonderful week.  Congratulations to so many who raced the Philadelphia Rock n’ Roll Marathon  and New York City Marathon this weekend!!  Keli

11.1.2015

Back from my Training Break!

Ironman training

When you’re on fire, you know it.  You feel it.  For the past year training is the first thing I think about in the morning, one of my last thoughts before bed, and something I look forward to almost every day. Workouts have been challenging, often intense, and they’ve been one of the best parts of my days.  Over a 10 week period I raced 345.06 miles.  That’s Two Olympic distance triathlons (63.86 miles) and two Ironmans (281.2 miles).  Don’t ask the number of miles of training over those weeks on top of that.  It’s taken me three weeks after my last race to finally lace up and go for my first run. Unless, of course, you count two weekends ago when I ran all over the course cheering for my friend at Ironman Maryland.  I’ve been thinking about getting back on my feet over the past two weeks although something has made me hold off. Part of me felt ashamed for taking a 3 weeks off from running. Why didn’t I just get out there for some short easy runs?  It would be good for me. The other part of me respects that I realized I just didn’t want to force it. Think of it like forcing yoga poses. I wanted more than to just go through the motions. I wanted to WANT it.  These past few weeks of recovery from both Ironman races have been exactly that… recovery.  Physical and mental recovery.  A potential blog topic soon if I can form my thoughts in writing.

Last night I talked about 2016 goal setting and made the commitment to begin my new goals now. Today was the day. My first run…in three weeks. It’s funny how much harder I made it out to be before I got started today.  My goal?  Simply to run. No set pace, no set distance.  Just run. I am not sure why it seemed challenging to get out there but we have all heard that getting started is often the hardest part.  How could I race 140.6 miles ago 21 days ago and yet a little short run today seemed tricky to get started?  Ten minutes into the run I already felt happy to be out there and could feel myself smile. It wasn’t so hard after all. I returned home feeling great, remembering why I began in the first place. There’s a reason why recovery is part of every training plan and every race.  Maybe taking a complete break from time to time is exactly what we need to come back even stronger, mind and body. I’m feeling pretty happy from my short run this afternoon.  Perhaps restraining from doing too much too fast will actually increase my desire to keep going and my desire to set new goals for next season. I hope that if you can relate to this you realize that you are not alone. This is normal. Avoid beating yourself up and learn from my mistake of doing so. Give yourself a break when you truly need it and take action when you recognize it’s time to come back. If you look at the overall picture of racing triathlon and recovery, you’ll see that triathlon is a journey. Races are the celebrations that require dedication, training, passion, curiosity, pushing limits, reflection and also giving ourselves a break.

There is no “stop” in our training. Only “pause.”  Next week it looks like it’s going to be in the 70s. I plan to take advantage of it, enjoying the weather with short workouts that make me feel happy.  No set goals right now, just get out and go.  Who know’s where I’m headed next but I’m sure it’s somewhere exciting. I look forward to seeing what’s ahead.

Always in stride,

Keli

11.1.2015

Hello Is this this ON? Goal Setting.

2016 new years resolutions

Hello! Is this thing ON?  

I know it’s been far too long since my last blog update. Then again maybe it hasn’t and I needed the time. I can’t remember when I went so long though without writing.  Where do I pick things up again?  Over the past three weeks a lot has happened. Some of it perhaps life changing.  There’s so much I’d like to share and then things I’ll keep personal too. I’ll catch up soon enough but for now I just need to get myself writing. Let’s begin with what I’m thinking about right now. This very moment.

It’s Halloween night. What are you up to?  I’m sitting in a coffee shop in South Philly dressed up as myself. A yoga teacher and Ironman…shirt says Ironman…pants say yoga teacher.  It’s one of my personal favorite combos. The only thing missing from my costume is my most recent medal. You know which one.  But I don’t trust myself to leave home with that precious medal. So tomorrow is November 1 which means 60 days until the new year.  I sit here thinking about my achievements of 2015 and how best to prepare for the year ahead. Traditionally, people tend to make lists of ideas or activities that they commit to on January 1 calling them “New Year’s Resolutions.”  Many of those lists end up getting forgotten within a few months. Maybe even weeks.  If you’ve read my blog the past few years around the new year you’ve seen that I don’t set new years resolutions. This is one of the reasons. More important, I ask why wait for a new year in order to set new resolutions, goals and dreams?  This is something I appreciate doing continually throughout the days, months, and seasons of each current year.  There is always room for improvement and new experiences. Goal setting throughout the year is a positive activity. Waiting until the new year may feel like forced efforts, forced promises, and maybe that’s why so many of us don’t tend to keep them.

This is why I suggest an alternative method to planning for the year ahead. Rather than creating a list of behaviors that you want to change or new things you’d like to accomplish in the new year, think about what you want the theme of your year to be. This concept already exists.  For example, this past year mine was “Raise awareness” and “Make a difference” racing Ironman for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. But you can have several themes.  You’re not limited to just one.  In fact, consider at least one theme that’s professional and one theme completely personal for yourself. A theme is a purpose and tool to operate in a positive manner both in business and in life.  Once you’ve set your themes for the year, create new goals and dreams all year long.

So now that I’ve shared this idea I’m going to close up my laptop and fill in the blanks on that piece of paper above. I’ve been itching to set new goals and put new ideas that excite me into action. Why wait?  The time is now….  I’m working on my 2016 themes as well and hope to share soon. Happy 2016 a little early–I hope the positive changes and new experiences you desire will naturally manifest through your thoughts, words and actions. Wishing you health, happiness, love and all that you desire.

Love, Keli

10.24.2015

A Letter for Kara. One Year Later.

Hi Kara.

I miss you.  365 days since you left.  One year ago tonight. But you are not gone.  I do not think that a day has gone by that I have not thought of you. The things that I am most passionate about remind me of you. You inspired me…you still inspire me.  Your love for life, activity, adventure, and love.  I still remember the sound of your voice.  Sometimes I still look back at the door you used to walk through when we’d meet with our dogs.  You know I have not been on my bike once without thinking of you and have heard your voice in every race.  I just read our last Facebook chat today, two days before you passed away. Our last words… “I love you.”  It is heartwarming to read all of the messages on your Facebook page today and the impact you had on others. Thank you for all that you taught me. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for encouraging me.  Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for being someone I look up to. Thank you for being someone who still inspires.  Thank you for being my friend.  You are not here but you are not gone. Memories do not fade.  There is a beautiful road called Remembrance. We will keep your memory alive forever.  Forever remembered, Kara.  I love you.

May 24, 1980-October 24, 2014

Forever friends,

Keli

10.2.2015

Ironman World Championship: Travel food

Ironman World Championship travel

Traveling can be exhausting and it’s no time for me to get sloppy eating airplane food or something found in an airport.  It doesn’t take much to plan ahead and be prepared with more nutritious and delicious options.  I think I shared a similar post here when preparing to travel to Ironman Lake Placid.  I’ll throw in some Turmeric-Ginger and Chicory teas too. I almost picked up Greek yogurt too and wish I had for more protein. I’ll add a pack of protein powder and my shaker instead. A little bummed after taking the picture I noticed I grabbed one bag of dried strawberries instead of both apples by accident.

Oh, and the two little dark chocolates in front?  Those aren’t for me.  I picked those up for the two people next to me on the plane incase they’re envious or annoyed by the buffet I’ll be enjoying over 16.5 hours of travel.

  • Tahini-Kale Salad
  • Roasted Beet and Root Veggie Salad
  • Raw Mango Pie (Mango puree with cashew crust)
  • Vegan Banana Bread
  • Go Raw Ginger Snaps
  • Raw Cashews
  • Fruit platter
  • Carrots
  • Natural free dried apples
  • Cheese
10.2.2015

Ironman World Championship 2015: Ironman Packing List

Ironman Packing list

8 1/2 weeks of training have come and gone so quickly which means it’s time to pack! But before I forget, Taper has been awesome!  Packing your gear bag for Ironman takes more thinking and organization than packing for a regular vacation. One of my clients, who I adore (HI if you’re reading this!), said to me at our recent appointment “Vacation??  That’s no vacation, Keli!” when I explained to her what this trip entails…fairly early bed times, very early mornings, no cocktails, light swims, bikes and runs every day, and racing 140.6 miles in the Ironman World Championship one week from tomorrow in Kona, on the big island of Hawaii. This is a DREAM COME TRUE vacation to me!

There’s a lot of stuff to pack and my Ironman suitcase is as full as my other suitcase.  I think about packing in terms of each leg of the race and visualize myself at each stage of the race as I write my packing list.  I also glanced back at my previous Ironman race reports (great advice, coach!) to see if there was anything I wished I had in previous races. Packing well in advance has helped me tremendously this time around. I packed everything non-race related  7 days ahead and I’m pretty sure that’s a record for me.  I organized all of my Ironman gear on a towel 5 days ahead, making sure to place everything back on the towel immediately as I finished each day this week’s training. I came across the 16 Things You’ll Forget to Pack for Kona today on Ironman.com and can you guess which item I forgot? My race belt… which I never wear. I don’t like the feeling of a belt around my waist while running and usually just pin my bib to my tri top. Looks like we need to wear our bib for the bike too due to winds potentially blowing our race stickers off our bikes (whoa!) I also used a tip from my friend Ellen that makes me feel even more prepared. When we arrived Ironman Lake Placid 8 weeks ago she already separated her five race bags into large zip lock bags when she packed. Brilliant. It’s already done and all I have to do is double or triple check them before putting gear in each of the Ironman bags. It’s going to make things that much easier and save time. Both suitcases are packed and zipped as of last night, two days to departure. I feel calm and prepared.  Now that packing is complete can you guess the final item on my “To Do” list this evening before departure tomorrow morning? Take a guess. I will tell you when I update you on the flight tomorrow…

Ironman World Championship 2015 report

How to pack for Ironman triathlon

9.30.2015

Taper: Ironman World Championship 2015

Ironman Taper

Yesterday was National Coffee Day? Beeeeep. Wrong answer. Coffee day is everyday. Who needs Vitamin C when there’s coffee?  Yes, I am still LOVING taper.

9.28.2015

Ironman World Championship Training: Week 8

Ironman World Championship training schedule

Goooooooood morning and welcome, Taper!  Twelve days to my 140.6 mile journey on big island of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii in the 2015 Ironman World Championship. I am racing on the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation Team for Cures.  Over the past week every now and then it hits me although I’ve remained pretty calm going into this race. Maybe I don’t fully believe I am racing Kona or maybe I know it’s best to remain as calm as possible in the weeks leading up to it. This morning I opened my email first thing and it started to sink in.  As I read one of my final training plans along with a thoughtful and encouraging message from my coach I briefly felt emotional for the first time over this experience. I also realized this week is departure week.

Taper is a beautiful thing. Yes…a BEAUTIFUL thing. As you reduce volume before your race this is a time to recover from all the hard work and become fully aware of how much progress you’ve made. Even in just the eight weeks I’ve had to train for this race I most definitely see the areas where I’ve improved. It is also an important time to mentally prepare, focus and relax your mind. I have spent some time doing my best to understand endurance athletes during their taper. Believe it or not, taper has a lot in common with what I encounter in my work as birth professional. Actually, training and race day do too and I have thought about this at some point during each of my Ironman races. But that’s another blog post I’ve been meaning to write for a long time and eventually will.  If we learn how to nail tapering, like we do the rest of our training, it will likely pay off big for race day.

Taper doesn’t have to be a time that makes triathletes crazy, anxious, moody, bored, and a number of other words athletes use to describe taper.  Have you ever thought about how many of us create the chaos or drama in our minds before taper even begins? As taper approaches people post warnings and jokes about how and what they are about to experience. The truth is, if you expect to feel anxious and moody you likely will be. This applies to anything in life.  Tell yourself you are going to go nuts and you will become nuts. Athletes who go into taper seeing it as a miserable time will indeed have a very uncomfortable taper.  Our mind is a powerful tool and our thoughts are directly linked to our experiences. Sometimes they even create our outcomes. Think about this and ask yourself how crankiness and worrying about things out of your control will affect your overall experience and race.  One of the most important things I have learned in training for four Ironman in these past two years is that racing an Ironman requires a lot more than swim, bike, and run. It requires more than being fast enough to meet each of the cutoff times. A successful Ironman performance includes a strong body AND a well trained mind.  Whether you realize it consciously or not, as you train the body physically you are training your mind at the same time.  There are numerous ways to train the brain although it begins with something very simple:  the way you speak to yourself.  The things you tell yourself and the messages you choose to absorb from yourself and others will influence your mindset in one direction or the other.  ”Be careful how you are talking to yourself because you are listening.”  Lisa M. Hayes

Another week flew by and my training load lightened slightly. This week it decreases a little more. My body continues to feel great and although I love training I appreciated the decrease.  Wednesday’s swim flew by quickly, feeling refreshed right out of the water. Saturday’s last longer ride was interesting trying to get out of the city with all of the Pope activity. My favorite day was yesterday, my last longer run on the Ben Franklin Bridge for the first time rather than above it. All of our roads were closed in the city for the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia. It was quite the site to see here in Philly, but I won’t even try paint that picture. I ran up and down Broad street, Love Park, Independence Hall, and the Ben Franklin. As I hit the middle of the bridge, half way between PA an NJ, the National Guard snuck up and photo bombed me. They screamed and then laughed which made me scream and then laugh. With the roads closed and so many tourists the energy of the city felt like running a race with so many “spectators” although instead of cowbells it was songs about Jesus every few blocks. Philly was Pope-ular this weekend and this run was the highlight of Pope-adelphia for me.

Physically, taper is needed for endurance athletes to ensure that the body is rested and well-fueled for the upcoming race but I appreciate this time for so much more. Mentally and emotionally tapering can be rather difficult for many as you see a change in schedule, appetite, structure, and so on. Choose to embrace taper. Get comfortable with this time, enjoy your new normal and remember it’s temporary.  Much like discomfort you may experience on race day.  That too is often temporary. Your body may crave more but choose to appreciate this time to recharge the body and mind.  I don’t really know how people seem to have so much time on their hands during taper. There are so many things I need to get done and taper allows me that time. Make a list of all of the things you’d like to do before taper arrives so you are prepared with plenty of things to do when your taper arrives. Consider incorporating yoga and/or a meditation practice into your training BEFORE your taper and use your extra taper time to find yourself on your mat.  If you think yoga is simply stretches, relaxation and Pranayama (breath work),  think again. Yoga will also provide physical activity and all of this is something I look forward to during my taper. Still have too much time on your hands? Enjoy time with those you haven’t had much time for throughout training. Especially if they are people who have supported your training and will be there to support you on race.  Experiment in the kitchen or go get a pedicure…I love looking down at pretty toes before I enter the water on race day. Start getting organized for the race. I packed all of my non-Ironman items yesterday (one week to departure) and intend to pack everything else tonight minus my helmet, run shoes, bike shoes, pedals, and a few other items. There’s no reason to create stress the day before I leave. Whatever it is you enjoy outside triathlon, enjoy it during taper. Focus on positive messages during taper. Direct your energy to how amazing your body is. What are you able to do now that you once couldn’t? What is your body capable of on race day? You have done the work.  Going overboard with training during the final weeks to race day will likely do more harm than good. Relax and feel confident with where you are. Choose happiness, choose to appreciate, choose to trust your training and your body.  The choices you make physically and mentally during taper are just as important as the choices you make during the peak of your training. One of the best things about taper is going into it without fear, worries, and a positive mindset.  I still remember my first Ironman like it was yesterday, exactly one year and six months ago this week.  As I approach my fourth Ironman I am calm, my mind is filled with happy thoughts and gratitude for where I am today. I am in taper, therefore I’m happy.

Wishing those who are tapering a happy taper and everyone else a very happy day! Keli

ironman world championship 2015

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