Monday, March 26, 2012

Solvang Double Century with a twist

On Saturday the 24th of March I crossed the start line of the Solvang Double century bike event at 6.30am with my good friend Ray and set off on a cycling adventure which would take us through some beautiful high roads and bye roads!
Rene, Myself and Ray before the event

Now normally I would advise a cyclist to be smart and train for a double century but Ray and I decided to sign up for the double as a training ride we probably have more running miles than cycling miles in our legs so the challenge was daunting.
It is hammer time
It was pretty dark in the early hours and we needed to have a head light, rear light and ankle reflectors all highly visible.
Williams Wheels
I used Williams Wheels 38mm and they rode like a dream, they kept me straight for 219 miles, did I say 219 miles!!!! Yikes I thought I said I signed up for 200 miles to be exact 197.5 miles!! But due to a wrong turn would end up with a lot more miles than 197.5! I never once had a flat tire in the 16 hours I was out on the road and at aid stations thank you Serfas Tires!
I started smiling 70 miles into the event
 It took me a few miles to get my happy face going, it was a little cold in the morning and I had a little trouble with my head light, the first 15 miles or so was a gentle up hill and spent 21 miles on Foxen Canyon road before finally getting to the first aid station at 41 miles, I composed my self grateful to see Ray, I refueled on Perpetuem, gel and endurolytes and we set off for another 45 miles, this would make 86 miles and was grateful to see this station, Ray had got there before me and was relaxing, there was cyclists lying on the ground and eyes closed I focused on getting my fuel ready
and shared a laugh or two with Ray.
Getting Hammer Fizz, the day would never get warm mile 86.1
After we left this aid station it was only 27 miles to the lunch stop, we went through some pretty country roads, lots of horses, cows, bulls etc all very rural
Ray cycles past cowboy boots on a fence open roads nice and quiet
We soon passed Los Osos and on to the lunch stop
Finally we reached mile 113.4 were Ray enjoyed his much anticipated sub way sandwich, there was a lot of cyclists here and we were all pretty happy as we only had around 80 plus miles to go and we had to make the next rest station by 5pm. We thought this is going to be all plain sailing from here, we had already took a wrong turn earlier in the course and added a few extra miles to the final count.
We took off for 28 more miles we thought it would be easy getting to rest stop at mile 141, but we had not anticipated a very nasty head wind! We passed San Luis Bay, Avila Beach drive and past Pismo, then we climbed up the steep hill to descend into Guadalupe, and this is where the fun began, with only 10 miles to go and 5 done really fast with rolling hills we met wind a strong head wind, I had missed the light Ray had gone ahead and I struggled alone for 3 miles at 8 miles per hour, I was truly miserable ths could not be happening but it was we had wind!!
here I am with Ray at mile 141 I wanted to call it a day as I did not want to cycle 25 miles into a head wind ....
We left Le Roy Park mile 141 at 5 15pm, into a nice head on wind, we just kept on pedaling, moving forward, I pulled a bit then Ray then we joined a group of cyclists who had a nice pace line going and we hung on for dear life taking turns in the headwind until we reached 168 mile mark were head lamps and rear lights had to be turned on and we could stop for hot food.....

The darkness came quickly and we only had 29 miles left to pedal, it was cold and the road at Colins Market near Los Alamos was full of pot holes but we survived, we made our way onto Aliso Canyon Road on to Foxen road, my feet were cramping badly so stopped to spray Kool n Fit and take anti fatigue caps and endurolytes, we continued and some how we missed the turn off to Ballard Canyon Road with only 7 miles to go we were heading in the wrong direction and we kept on cycling in the eerie darkness for many miles until we finally stopped and wondered why we were not near the turn off and realized we had done over 200 miles, this was not good we were terribly lost and would finally end up with 220 miles in total miles as Ray and I also took a wrong turn earlier in the day too! with 15 hours and 44 mins out on the bike it would put us past the 10pm cut off by 15 minutes we would be un official!

The out come was 15 hours 44 mins including rest stops, 220 miles in total and we would not be credited the double century! but we had had a hell of a ride and never quit when the wind became problematic, I need to get a head light on my helmet so I can see the miles on the computer and see the course map, it was easy to get lost in the night as it was total darkness and we were getting a little tired.
Foxen Canyon Road had been really dark and quiet with Owls flying across the road and a Cheshire cat moon and lots of stars in the sky.....but only a few cyclists took the wrong turn!!
We returned out numbers to the Check in and were tired so decided to go back to the hotel and stay the night before leaving in the morning.
New friends, there is always a chance to make New cycling buddies

 Solvang Double had not been easy, Ray and I never quit despite our lack of bike miles we had finished 220 miles of cycling beautiful roads, seen some great scenery made new friends seen old friends,

The morning after time for a good breakfast

Ostriches in Solvang!

Thanks to Polar I counted 7,000 calories I could afford a really nice breakfast and head home to see my husband AL and my little dog Hammer.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My journey from Anorexia to Ultra Triathlete

My journey from Chronic Anorexic to ultra -distance triathlete

Fuelling that compulsive obsessive behavior into sport

The year was 1997 I was all smiles and running towards the finish line of the French Triple Iron distance race Defi Mundial de L’Endurance, I had covered 7.2 miles of swimming in a 50 meter pool, cycled 336 miles and ran 78 miles in circuits I was about to finish in style; placing 3rd female and 26th out of 48 athletes in a total time of 51 hours and 41 minutes! It was a far cry from my younger years spent inside various hospitals and asylums while I battled my inner demons and fought against Anorexia Nervosa.

As triathletes we are obsessed about numbers, what do we weigh? What was our split, our finish time, our miles per hour….were did we place….how many calories did we use how many did we consume… how many miles a week can we swim bike run and so the numbers keep on adding up.  Yet the numbers rarely project the quality of life we lead or the type of person we are they do not tell us how much we are loved by friends or family they are exactly that just numbers.

This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness and I wanted to reach out to other athletes and their families about the dangers of eating disorders and why if we suspect a fellow athlete or friend or family member of having an eating disorder it is important to let them know help is available there is over 24 million Americans with eating disorders only 1 in 10 seek help. Eating Disorders do not distinguish a certain group they do not care the color of your skin, your gender, or your place in society. It may be the good looking football player who is hiding an eating disorder as well as the gymnast or cheerleader. It may be a popular student in class or the kid that gets picked on, It could be a university student feeling pressure to get perfect scores on exams or not living up to some one else’s expectations; be sensitive to others every- one has problems some of us channel them through food.

I spent 10 years of my life obsessed with food, I could not it seem control my life but I could control what food I ate and thus began my demise into the world of feeding tubes, bed rest and mental asylums, I abused laxatives, hid food and wore baggy clothes I did many things to try and hide my skinny frame and at 58 pounds was admitted to various hospitals eventually my heart went into cardiac arrest. Every person is different but Anorexia Nervosa is rarely about the food and dieting the behavioral and physical symptoms are usually hiding a deeper pain one of being insecure, emotional drained with a lot of pain and suffering, just as any mental illness it over takes who you are and there is a lot of pain in the process. The nurses and doctors labeled me as devious, sly manipulative I was put into an asylum with manic depressives, heroin addicts and suicidal patients. I was living in a horror movie and could see no light at the end of the tunnel. I went from being a very talented Pastry Chef working in London’s finest 5 star hotels to being mentally unsound!!  And felt hopeless and feared I would die in one of these places. I saw many things in these places that have affected my life and views on mental illnesses, I was labeled “The Anorexic Pastry Chef”  or that’s “Marys Daughter” I totally lost my identity I spent 10 years trying to figure out who I was..

The doctors told my family that 99% of chronic anorexics with such extreme case die; I was truly blessed as I did not as there was a different plan for my life and I was not ready to die. I remember watching a TV broadcast about running the New Zealand marathon I told my nurse I was going to do that and she laughed saying I could not even run to the toilet, that was in 1989!

I left England in 1990 I remember I weighed 80 pounds as that was the condition to be able to visit my family from the commune I was destined to die in, I purchased a plane ticket to Bangkok and with a back pack, an open mind I set out on a journey to find out who I was, it was like being born again with no nurses watching me 24/7 psychiatrists to talk to I was literally on my own I remember the first time I ate a doughnut took me 1 week to eat the entire thing but I never threw it away or hid it! I observed other women the same age as me 25 all looking so happy; I struggled with my identity and fell in love with scuba diving.

 I would eventually travel to over 40 countries I ended up in Puerto Rico were I discovered the sport of triathlon doing my first tri at Vega Baja in 1993 on a borrowed racing bike I won my age group and was immediately hooked! At 30 years old I had discovered triathlons, and in 1994 did my first Iron distance race the Vineman. I never thought I have not trained enough or I am not ready I just wanted to feel free and push my body over these three sports on my terms, and knowing how important the nutrition was! I became a triathlete  and also am a PADI Scuba instructor. I still make pastries and specialty cakes occasionally but I am doing what I love and do not own scales and only go on them when a visit to the doctor’s office is necessary, numbers are still important but that would be the ones on my monitor telling me my heart rate! As being alive with a healthy heart beat is the greatest gift we can have!

 I realized I had to be in control of my life and as with everything I did I had to do it 100% due to my compulsive obsessive ways. I feared rejection and in many ways still do, I love to hear approval and can be devastated if something I do does not go right. But I have learnt through the sport of triathlon that sometimes things do not always go as planned and you cannot please every- one all the time! Life is not always viewed through rose tinted glasses and there is going to be negativity the important thing is to keep moving forward and appreciate who YOU are as you need to love yourself and accept yourself for who you are before anyone else does.

Since leaving England and deciding to take charge of my destiny I have completed over 450 multi-sport events I won the Puerto Rican National Championships for triathlon in 1999 and specialized in double and triple iron distances and my favorite race is Hawaii Ultraman World Championships, which I have met many great people and toed the line for 15 consecutive years. I love the challenge of ultra trail running and finished the Costa Rica coastal challenge in 2005, I am in constant recovery mode putting my energy into being healthy so I can participate in the things I love I still have trouble sometimes with food I look at labels and channel my obsessive compulsive habits into sport I have a wonderful grand daughter and a little dog I run with but also I have a great husband who keeps me on the right path. I had a great support system with doctors, nurses, family and friends but ultimately I had to admit I had a problem to be able to move forward.

Anorexia Nervosa and other eating disorders can be treated there is always hope, I suffer from bone loss and have had a lot of dental issues I also suffer from a hearing loss, but I will take that as I am live & happy and living my life to the fullest, I just wanted to share my personnel story with this awful eating disorder in the hope I can help and reach out to others who are suffering to give hope.
Life is much happier when you eat to live and not live to eat!
The hotline for Eating disorders is 1 800 931 2237 and web site is