10/4/08

I can't believe it worked......barely

Karel headed to New Port Richey (north of Clearwater) on Thurs for an appt. in Tampa. He then spent thurs afternoon and friday afternoon riding his mountain bike for most of the afternoon. What a life! And for the recovery meals, Karel enjoyed some meat-friendly dinners with my parents. Instead of going with Karel, I decided to stay here in Jacksonville. Because Karel was staying with my parents at their house for 2 nights, I thought I would give Karel a bit of a vaca and let him enjoy a few days without a schedule. I'm getting better with my ways but as opposed to Mr. free-bird, I live my life to a schedule and I am all about time management (at least I get things done and turn bills/work/assignments in on time!). And tonight, Karel is enjoying our wedding with his guys...Bachelor Party at the Hard Rock in Tampa! I wonder if I will get a report from Karel tomorrow morning? :)

In order to kill some time this weekend, I decided late on Thurs night that I would do the Jacksonville Marine Corps Half Marathon. Because this was a last minute decision, I still ran 22 miles this week, biked 90 miles (40 of which was on friday morning) and swam 8,000 yards. I guess it was a laid back week as far as volume but the workouts have been tough and I was totally exhausted by Friday. However, there is no stopping me from running long on saturday morning and I figured it would be good to run with lots of people on a new route rather than be a loner and run on my same neighborhood route.
After picking up my packet after my 40-mile ride on Friday, I spent the rest of the study studying and working on Beginner Triathlete nutrition stuff. It was early to bed for me on Friday night and I was up early this morning.
The alarm went off at 5am and I got dressed in my almost all-pink outfit and started the coffee. I prepared a 1/4 cup oatmeal w/ raisins and a 1/2 banana and I headed to the car. The race was held at the Jacksonville stadium in downtown Jacksonville, which was a new place for me. Luckily, my Garmin didn't let me down and I didn't get lost. I got my chip and headed straight to the port-o-potties and after walking around for about 15 min my stomach felt a bit icky.
Luckily, there was nothing wrong with my GI system as far as me not being able to go to the bathroom but something was making my tummy feel a bit tight. Perhaps it was nerves but after another bathroom stop I figured I needed to think about my race strategy.
I jogged for a few minutes before the 7am start but I had to think about my queasy belly and what I would do if I got an upset stomach during the race. Instead of thinking about the what if's, I decided I would do all I could to NOT get an upset stomach during the race.
Seeing that my tummy was feeling tight (not rumbley or crampy) I knew I couldn't push hard during the race because of the fear that any nutrition taken in during the 13.1 miles would not sit well in my tummy. Also, knowing that only powerade and gatorade was on the course, I was a bit concerned about high fructose corn syrup upsetting my tummy.
The race started promptly at 7am and we were off and quickly heading up a bridge. My tummy was feeling fine so I did what I would normally do and run steadily until I felt warmed-up. For me, it is about 20 min to 3 miles until I feel ready to pick up the pace and at mile 3 I was ready to go. However, the start of mile 3 was at the bottom of a steep bridge which took us over the river and down to Riverside. The course was just beautiful but I really needed to pace myself during this race. At this point (mile 3), I figured if I slowed myself down a bit to get up the bridge I would be able to pick up the pace on the downhill.
As I approached mile 4 I started thinking about my pace. I was already at 30 min when I got to mile 4 and I was pretty impressed with my warm-up pace and run up the bridge. I started thinking about my belly and what to do to pick up the pace but not run out of fuel too quickly. I had a goal time of 1:45 since I haven't been able to go faster in a half marathon (not 70.3) since Jan 2006 (1:39 is my PR at the miami half marathon) but I was worried that my lack of "long" runs would catch up to me. OK, so I do run for 90-110 minutes on saturdays but I often stop half way to catch my breath or drink from my fuel belt flasks. Probably not very smart of me to stop during a long run.
At mile 4 I started thinking that my love for intervals has taken over my life and that is really the only way I know how to run right now. I have gotten myself stronger and faster during the past few months from adding recovery runs in with my fast runs. So, when I got to mile 5 I figured I would try it out and see if I could run the rest of the race of intervals.
I was already at a good pace by mile 5 but I was still concerned about GI upset if I became too anaerobic for too long. I knew my queasy belly wouldn't handle the sports drinks at the aid stations (every other mile) if I was running 90% but then again, if I wanted to get under my goal time, I had to run around 7:30-8 min pace....and not go any slower.
So, from mile 5 to mile 13.1 I ran intervals.
4 min hard, the rest of the mile comfortable.
The funny thing is that my comfortable became faster as I continued with the intervals. I even notice that on the treadmill when I am recovering at a certain pace in the beginning of a set and find myself speeding up the recovery speed because it seems so slow as I get more into the set.
I was paying attention to the people around me to see if my "interval" run was really paying off. I would run by the same people for 4 min. and then they would barely catch up to me (as they breathed very heavily) during my recovery. Because of my aerobic recovery runs I was able to drink the sport drinks at the aid station without needing a lot because I was conserving my glycogen. I figured even if i ran the same speed for the whole race, eventually my heart rate would increase and my glycogen would quickly decrease. If I let my heart rate get up too high for too long I would need to re-fuel often and I wasn't sure if I wanted to do that with my silly stomach. Luckily, during the race my tummy was ok.
As the miles went on I was approaching mile 10 and noticed that I was well ahead of those who I was running with a few miles back. At mile 10 I grabbed a gu (booo...I wish they had hammer. I didn't feel like carrying my 1 hammer gel so I opted for the gu) and had 1/2. I washed it down with water and I was good to go for the next 3 miles. During the run, I couldn't help but notice how beautiful it was to run along the water and in some quiet neighborhoods. I then took a quick look at my watch and after doing the math in my head for most of the race, I knew with 3 miles to go it would be close.
Close being I could break 1:40!!!
I didn't want to take the chance of "bonking" so as Miss Pacer, I decided to continue with my intervals rather than sprinting for 3 miles. However, with my legs feeling strong and no weakness's in my body, I extended my hard intervals to 5:30 minutes for mile 10 and mile 11. At mile 12 I was getting close to the finish but it still seemed so far away. I tried to stay steady with my pace but at mile 12 and the finish line almost in sight, I kept looking at my watch and seeing my last minute approaching. I then made the last turn at mile 13 and saw the finish line clock ticking away....
1:39.55, 1:39.56, 1:39.57...
I was SPRINTING to the line for the last mile and I pushed it into turbo gear in the finish line chute. I don't think I have a turbo gear so who knows what I looked like as I attempted to "sprint" to the line. After nearly dropping to the ground at the finish I was happy to receive my medal and grab some water.
Well, according to my watch I did it. 1:39.59. However, the official time says 1:40.05....but even better, the chip time on the results reads 1:39.58!!!
Either way, I can't believe it. What an accomplishment. This last year has been a messy one with the un-diagnosed inner thigh injury which has caused me lots of heartache and pain. Then with moving and trying to get a new schedule I have really felt out of my element. With no schedule set in stone, I always question if what I am doing is ever going to pay off. That stupid injury took away one of my loves which is running and now, after 2 years of not being able to run fast I did it.
I finished 5th in my age group out of 103 and 24th woman overall. Here is how my intervals worked out for the splits:
7:45
7:38
7:44
7:24
7:48
7:37
7:34
7:32
7:50
7:38
7:40
7:17
:45
Total: 1:39.59 (according to my watch :)
Pace: 7:38 min/mile

10/3/08

It's NOT easy

For anyone who has tried losing weight, you know it isn't easy. Regardless if you were successful in losing 60 lbs or if you are annoyed with those stubborn 5 extra lbs... losing weight is tough!
Over the past year I have put on weight because of my injury. With 4 months of hardly any walking (last nov-feb) I had a hard time keeping my muscle mass. While my heart was staying strong through aerobic exercise, my fat cells enlarged (fat cells don't go away when you lose weight, they shrink) and I put on extra lbs. Over the summer, I took time to evaluate my healthy diet and what I need to do to increase my lean muscle mass. I took action and I have been steadily decreasing my fat mass and increasing my lean muscle mass. And, at the end of every day, I am not going to sit at home and complain to Karel that I need to lose weight. It is my responsiblity to evaluate my own diet as many others should do if they continue to struggle with extra lbs. So, after communicating to Karel about what I will do to lose weight in a healthy way I couldn't help but think about the struggles with weight loss. For me it was an extra 10 lbs of body fat that I put on my former "lean" IMFL body but for others it may 100 lbs. Even though I am very passionate about healthy eating and sports nutrition, I know it isn't easy to lose weight and at the end of the day it is important that I make smart nutrition choices that will allow me to have a healthy relationship with Karel and also fuel my sport. So, if you are like me and already have a healthy diet, consider weight lifting the missing link and start decreasing your body fat and increase your muscle mass by hitting the gym. As for others, you probably have a solid routine of staying active and maybe it is your eating habits that need to change. Here are my thoughts and if you still need help with your weight loss, please let me know and I'd love to help.


At the moment you realize you really need to lose weight, weeks and months have already gone by where you have unconsciously eaten your way to a higher weight. Isn't it funny how you can think back to a time when you were at a "healthy" weight (a.k.a. probably your "goal weight" at the moment) and wonder how you let yourself gain so much weight.
For some people it is just a few lbs that you want to lose in order to run a bit faster. As for others, years have gone by and 10 extra lbs turns into 30 or 40 extra lbs.
I have worked with so many people over the past two years and the weight loss stories I hear are amazing. It is those who have lost over 50 lbs that really touch my heart but when a person tells me their performance has improved by cleaning up the diet, I feel so fulfilled in what I am able to do to help people.
However, I find that the people who struggle the most with weight loss are those who only want to lose 5 lbs and it seems to be a bit easier for those looking to lose 30 or 40 lbs. So how can we all lose weight in an "easier" way without feeling restricted or alone in our weight loss endevours.
Although losing weight is never easy, most people who are focused on losing more than 10 lbs have a good idea of how they gained those extra lbs. Aside from the immediate loss in water weight when reducing calories, a simple evaluation of the daily diet can easily help someone drop 10-15 lbs in a few months. When people struggle with a few extra lbs they really don't know what to cut out because the diet is very controlled, healthy foods are already consumed and workouts are great. Now, this isn't to say that people wanting to lose 10 or more lbs don't have a healthy diet but extra lbs are caused by extra calories. Unused calories contribute to an increase in fat mass.
If you are on a quest to lose weight, understand that losing weight is not going to be easy. However, easy has nothing to do with the words awful or hate. Never tell yourself that changing eating habits is awful or that you hate your new diet plan. Ultimately, changed habits will become your new nutrition plan. Now, here is where I like to break down weight loss and help people realize that after losing unnecessary body fat eating will become a lot easier.

When starting your weight loss plan, remember that it will take time to lose weight, just like it took time to gain weight. It may not be fun to omit certain foods in the diet and to decrease portions but think about the end product and keep that in mind when attempting to change bad habits.
I don't believe in getting obsessed with your bathroom scale so take time to look at your diet and your body. Look in the mirror and pay attention to certain areas on your body where you tend to store fat. Your clothes will tell you when you decrease fat mass. It is important to focus on foods which you can omit in order to decrease calories and to steadily drop weight. If you try to lose weight in a quick, unhealthy way, you will not learn how to maintain your weight for the rest of your life. And although your goal is to change your physique to a lean or athletic build, you are not going to be very happy if you create unhealthy eating habits that make you feel like you have to eat alone to stay at your goal weight, or you fear eating around others because of your strict nutrition plan or that you will never be able to work out hard again because of your new low-calorie, unhealthy diet. In order to have a healthy diet, is wise to stay consistent with your weight loss nutrition plan on a daily basis so that when you do lose weight you can enjoy life in a healthy body, with good eating habits.
Let's look at the ways people gain weight overtime:
Do you ice cream or cereal every night before bed? How about 4 or 5 times a week? If you keep the daily calories the same every day but eat 200-300 extra calories in ice cream or cereal it may not seem so bad at the time but you could gain 1 lb in about 2-3 weeks. Now that isn't so bad if you are only eating an extra 300 calories over your recommended daily calories a few days a week but I have a feeling many athletes do not control their caloric intake on a daily basis and in addition to ice cream there are other treats in the daily diet which add extra unhealthy calories.
So, if you are a male and you eat 2800 calories 3 times a week and you are only suppose to eat 2400 calories and then you have 1 cup of ice cream 4 times a week, you are at risk of gaining 1 lb in about a 1 1/2 weeks. So, in eating just a bit more than you need every day and having a sweet treat at night a few days a week, you may gain 10 lbs in about 15 weeks. In 1 year, you could easily gain over 30 lbs. Of course this is a rough estimate but "extra" calories, small at the time, do add up.
Take some time and look at your daily diet. Is there 1 thing that you can reduce, substitute (don't eliminate foods, substitute for a healthier, lower calorie item) or decrease on a daily basis which will help you eliminate 200-300 calories a day? If you did this every day you could lose 1 lb in about a week in a half. Wait a minute, isn't that the same as not eating ice cream 4 times a week and not eating 400 extra daily calories over your recommended calories? So Marni...are you telling me that all I have to do is reduce just the ice cream and drop 200-400 calories from my diet on a daily basis I can lose 30 lbs in a year???
Reducing portions is an easy way to drop weight quickly without "missing out" on some of your favorite meals. Also, swapping the high calorie foods for lower calorie foods which are high in fiber, whole grains or protein will also contribute to more satisfying meals. And lastly, it is ok to be a little hungry between meals but it isn't ok to be starving for a meal and then overeat. Snacking is recommended to monitor blood sugar levels but even snacking on healthy food can cause a person to gain weight over time. As you attempt to lose weight in a healthy way, be sure you are communicating with others so that you can create a healthy eating plan that works for you and your lifestyle. be sure here is no sabotage from others in your attempt to reduce your portions and reduce your intake of foods which have caused you to put on lbs.

Now, here is where it gets fun. Once you lose weight you CAN eat whatever you want....on occasion. Even during your weight loss journey, it is perfectly fine to enjoy a treat or eat a little extra every now and then. Remember, weight gain happens over time because you have been eating certain foods overtime. You aren't going to gain weight by eating ice cream once a week but you will gain weight if you eat ice cream every night, every day of the week.
If you can stick to your weight loss habits, which involve restriction, discipline and will power (ugly words but they are only temporary!) there will be a day (sooner than you know) that you will not worry about going out for pizza, having ice cream for desert, going to the bakery for a nice piece of bread or enjoying a bowl of cereal for a snack, on a Sunday afternoon after long training. Those "extra" calories, one day every few weeks, will NOT cause you to put on even 1 lb.
I know it is hard as you start losing weight but be sure others are on board with you to change some habits. And if you think you are alone in losing weight, I assure you that most individuals would love to lose at least 2-5 lbs. It is important that you understand that weight loss takes time but it is only after a few days that you begin to feel and see the results.
Don't be afraid of breaking habits and missing out on your "favorite" foods. Obviously foods should be heart-healthy and nutritious to support your athletic lifestyle but at the end of the day you need to realize that any extra weight on your body was put on from a change of habits. There was a time when you had good eating habits or a lifestyle that supported your healthy eating habits and you didn't have extra calories in your diet to contribute to weight gain. When you recognize the changes that are needed for you to lose weight, your new way of eating will become a little bit easier and ultimately your ideal healthy body composition will keep you on track to live a long and healthy life.
Good luck!

10/1/08

Not so healthy "healthy" lunches

The latest article on the taste section of IronGirl.com. Subscribe to the newsletter (FREE!) by going to the IronGirl.com website.


Fast-Food Healthy Lunches

By Marni Rakes

You start your day with coffee and a filling, nutritious breakfast. Your body is thanking you as you start your day in a healthy way. A few hours later you nibble on a small, mid-morning protein snack and before you know it you are ready for lunch. Maybe you forgot your lunch today or your friends/co-workers decided to eat out for casual Friday. As much as you try to control it, there comes a day at work when you are faced with a bit of a dilemma as you head out to the closest fast-food facility.

You are trying to drop weight, improve your nutrition habits and focus on better performance fuel. Unfortunately, eating out will not make your weight loss endeavor any easier. Perhaps you go for a free-for-all and tell yourself, "it's only this one time" and you are ready to order something fried or high in calories. Or, are you the type of person who hates spending $5 on a salad of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and a side of fat-free dressing because your meal doesn't fill your stomach and you end up indulging in the post-lunch candy jar?

During your fast-food outing, as much as you are determined to order a healthy lunch, misleading "healthy" options are actually on the not-so-healthy food list.

*All nutritional information below can be found on each fast-food company Website.
Blimpie 6" Chicken Caesar wrap - 607 calories, 29 grams fat, 9 grams saturated fat, 1586 mg sodium.
Quiznos Turkey and Cheese Sub (regular size) - 770 calories, 41 grams fat, 9.5 grams saturated fat, 2185 mg sodium.
Wendy's Mandarin Chicken Salad w/ Homestyle Chicken Fillet - 660 calories, 34 grams fat, 4.5 grams saturated fat, 1430 mg sodium
Panera Full Mediterranean Veggie on Tomato Basil Bread - 610 calories, 13 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 1450 mg sodium.
Arby's Roasted Turkey and Swiss Sandwich - 708 calories, 29 grams fat, 8 grams saturated fat, 1952 mg sodium.

For a healthier alternative to your not-so-healthy, fast-food meal:
Blimpie BLT 6" - 346 calories, 11 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 872 mg sodium.
Quiznos Roadhouse Steak Sammie - 205 calories, 4 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 565 mg sodium.
Wendy's Mandarin Chicken Salad w/ Grilled Chicken Fillet w/ fat-free French dressing - 440 calories, 16 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 1070 mg sodium.
Panera Half Orchard Harvest Salad with Chicken w/ Fat-Free Raspberry Dressing - 285 calories, 16 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 515 mg sodium and Whole grain baguette - 140 calories, 1 gram fat, 320 mg sodium.
Arby's Sante Fe Salad w/ Grilled Chicken - 279 calories, 10 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 679 mg sodium and Arby's Southwestern Grilled Chicken Wrap (no sauce) - 433 calories, 17 grams fat, 8 grams saturated fat, 1308 mg sodium (save ½ of the wrap for tomorrow's lunch).

TIP: Fast-food must be preserved through artificial means. Not only should you recognize your intake of sodium and preservatives in your daily diet, but you should also be aware of the sodium and additives in food consumed inside and outside of the home. There are usually healthy options at fast-food facilities, but you must be aware of what you are eating and how much of it you need to consume to feel satisfied. Check Online to choose the best option to make a healthy and satisfying meal.

My suggestion, prepare your own lunch to know exactly what you are eating! Do not be afraid of starting a trend at work by motivating others to enjoy a wholesome and healthy lunch-time meal that is prepared at home.

9/30/08

Just training

I've been enjoying myself lately. No races, just training. I am totally exhausted by 9am and I don't really have goals when I am training. The best part is that I am actually sticking to a routine and finally, I feel like I have the week planned out as far as when I will swim, bike and run and the type of workout I will be doing every day. To me, I need a schedule.
It is funny because Karel is the total opposite. He seems to get his workouts done and he gives more than 100% but if you'd ask him what time he is waking up the next morning he would say he will wake up when he is ready to get up (which is usually around 6-6:15). As for me, the alarm is usually set for 5:20am and I usually set the alarm around 7pm the night before, as I am packing up my swim bag for the next days workout or getting out my running/biking clothes. For me, I find that if I have everything ready then night before it is so easy to just wake up, turn on the coffee and make my way out the door. Although Karel and I have different ways of getting ourselves out the door to train, it is always a great feeling to see the other person on the road and not expect it. I just love running outside and seeing Karel riding. It isn't until I wave to him and yell his name that he actually sees that it is me. Then again, sometimes I am the one in the zone. :)
Since I am just training for anything in particular right now, it has also been great to focus on nutrition consults, the wedding and school. I am actually using my training as a way to keep me busy during these last few weeks before the wedding (OCTOBER 26th!!!).
I am also doing things that I normally wouldn't do, such as training with groups and driving places to train. I don't mind that change in scenery and along the way of just training, I have met a lot of nice people and have finished a lot of tough workouts.
The swim workouts have been extremely tough. There is very little thought about triathlons during these workouts cause they are long and hard. Well, I guess triathletes train long and hard but the average yardage of 4000 is something new to my triathlon training.
Today's swim set:
400 swim
200 kick
5 x 50's (easy, medium, fast, medium, easy)
Main set:
800 pull
200 Kick
600 swim (every 3rd lap fast!)
200 kick
400 swim (every other lap fast!)
200 kick
200 fast

10 x 25's on :45 (working on butterfly kick off the wall and streamline as far as you can go)
(Total 4100)
After the swim I ran 6 miles and I couldn't help but think....wow, I just love training!


This is after a "just training" workout with my friend Kellie who is training for the Amelia Island half ironman, which is this Sat. Last sat we did a 45 mile bike and 3 mile run and 2 weekends ago we did a 60 mile ride and 3 mile run. As usual, the best way to finish off a workout is with a nice dip in the ocean.





Although I love training, I think my excuse for training for fun for 3-4 hours on a sat morning is so that I can get in the ocean and play like a fish.

9/29/08

Getting dirty!



My first mountain bike race. Well, it was Karel's race and I was there to support him and take pics. This was Karel's 2nd mountain bike race and I couldn't wait to see him in action.

The morning started around 5:30am when Karel got up and prepared the coffee. I stayed in bed until 6am and then I was up ready to pack for the morning. The race was about an hour away at Fort Clinch park which is in Fernandina beach. I was looking forward to going to a new place, watching Karel and of course going to the ocean. I packed our cooler of water bottles, fruit, nuts and two PB&J sandwiches and after preparing my coffee and a little oatmeal we were out the door at 7am.
When we arrived at the park I was super excited that we were just a boardwalk away from the ocean. As Karel was getting himself ready to warm-up I headed to the beach with my radio for a nice morning run. With the ocean to my left I fumbled my way through the sand for 20 min. What a great workout! I can't think of the last time I trained on the sand for a run but it was really enjoyable to be so close to the water. As anyone knows, I am a fish in the inside and I just love the water.
I headed back to the park on the pavement and finished my 42 min run inside the park. Another one of my loves is being outside and before the race even started, I knew I would enjoy the day.

Karel's race started about 30 min behind schedule but at 10am they were off. There was 1 guy from Karel's Linder team and 2 guys from the Trek store who raced that morning. Karel raced in the XC 2, 30-39 category which is just a step above the Pro mountain biker category (I think).

I wasn't quite sure where to go to watch the race but I saw a friend from Clearwater that I use to ride with and she told me where to go to see Karel a few times during his race. Karel's race was 3 loops of a 7 mile course. Seeing that only about 1.5 miles of each loop is on the pavement there was no time to relax during this race. From what I saw in the race, the pavement was not a place for the riders to relax. If anything, they were pushing almost all out on the pavement to either pass someone, catch up or try to get ahead.

I found a great spot in the forest and when I saw cheered on Karel as he was finishing his first loop, he noticed me and said "I'm 2nd". Honestly, I wasn't even expecting him to say anything to me because the course was challenging and I really had no idea what to expect from this race. When I saw Karel for the 2nd time I continued to cheer and I made my way to another spot in the trees. I just don't understand how these guys (and girls) do it but I did get a little hint of excitement that I would really enjoy taking up mountain biking and of course, doing an Xterra race.

When I saw Karel coming in the middle of his 2nd loop he told me to see where the person behind him was in relation to him. All in a few seconds, Karel and I were having a conversation as he was battling his way through the dirt, trees and bushes. Karel told me that the guys in his category were in the 300's so I knew who to look for. After many cycling races, Karel and I have learned how to have mini-conversations as he is racing. I am pretty good at taking a few sentences of race reports and yelling them out in a few seconds as he is racing.
I waited until I saw the 4 guys chasing Karel down and they were only 30 seconds behind him. At this point, Karel was almost finishing up his 2nd loop so I made my way back to the race start. It took me a good 15 min to walk back to the start so I ended up seeing Karel as he was making his way up to the start/finish to begin his last loop. I told him that they guys behind him were 30 sec. away and the guy infront of him (the leader) was a good minute....and still looking really strong. Of course, with the time gaps being right as they entered the woods, Karel had made up a lot of time in the woods for his 2nd loop.
Knowing that there were a few guys still chasing down Karel he really picked up the pace on the 3rd loop. Unfortunatnly, with the fear that guys were chasing him down comes risky moves to keep his position.
When I saw the 1st place guy finish the race I hoped that Karel would be the next 300 guy coming through the finish. Of course, I would be happy with any place and I never go into a race thinking that Karel is going to place X-place. But, getting a top 3 finish is always good :) I just love seeing him out there and of course, taking pictures :)
To my surprise, Karel finished 2nd and the 3rd place guy was well behind Karel. As I continued to take pictures of Karel I had to cringe a bit when I saw Karel completely covered in dirt.
Karel fell 2 times during the last loop and lost at least 2 minutes in that loop. For the first fall he was down for about 30 sec. to put his chain back on his bike. It was the 2nd fall that really knocked Karel down and he had a hard time getting back his rhythm after being down for about a minute. Luckily, all in one piece, Karel landed a spot on the podium and he has a pretty medal, a hurt wrist, very sore ribs and a few scraps to show for his great effort...in his 2nd mountain bike race!

To finish off the morning we headed to the beach for a dip in the ocean. After playing in the ocean for a little bit we collected shells which were all over the sand. At the beach, I took some time to really think about my life and how I want to continue living my life.

Taking a moment to enjoy the little things is something I try to do everyday. I am a very open and honest person and you will always know what I am thinking and feeling. That is probably one of the main reasons why I aspire to be a writer...hinding my thoughts and feelings is very, very, very hard for me.
Aside from calling my parents daily, telling Karel I love him every night before I go to bed and appreciating everything that comes my way, I continue to work hard on not complaining and not getting stressed out. I think everyone has something they need to work on..no one is perfect and we should never judge someone for having imperfections. Most people in my life, who I am in close contact with on a daily basis, know my personality and that I am very opinionated and I always have something to say. But with the help of Karel and supportive parents and friends, I have also learned that it is a lot easier to enjoy life rather than to worry about things or get stressed. Thankfully, I have enjoyable events in my life to remind me why I love waking up every morning and to not dread the day.