Friday, August 26, 2011

Whatcha got?

"Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!” 
- Luke 12:48 (the Message)

I’ve been overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude lately. Thankfulness for my health, family, friends, and how incredibly blessed I am. Every day is a gift. Every run, bike, and swim is a dream to me. I can’t believe that this time last year I was in so much pain that I was finding it hard to function normally -- and now I’m training to race a half-ironman in 23 days.

Not only is my health great, I have an amazing family in Arkansas that has loved me through the lows. I moved back to Arkansas last July to train them. I moved into their house and took control of all their eating habits and movement. I took on the challenge of getting everyone to enjoy a healthier lifestyle and fell in love in the process. What started out as a client-trainer relationship years ago has become an incredible friendship and joy in my life. Every moment spent with them is a blessing. Yesterday, as I was training their teenage daughter, I kept thinking,  "I can’t believe that I get paid to do this”. Training is my passion -- I love, love, love the feeling of helping others push themselves to realize their potential as they reach their goals. I love seeing people change their lives for the good -- especially those I love. This family has become my family, loving and caring for me in ways I never thought anyone would do.

Then there is my family back home--all my brothers and sisters in Florida. I have always been so close to them. All 6 of my siblings are my best friends. In the sadness from losing Josh, we have become even closer. I hate that they are hurting so much, but I am so thankful that we have each other.

To add to my amazing life, my friends are incredible. Those that are here in Arkansas and those that are spread around the world. Women and men who have encouraged me through the painful months, loving me even when I was most difficult in my hormone crazed state during treatment. I finally understand what people mean when they say that you find out who your real friends are through the tough times.

Yes. I am totally blessed. I don’t take what I have for granted.

For some reason, God has blessed me unbelievably and I am beyond thankful.

Even my sickness has turned into a blessing because I have learned so much from the pain.

My prayer is that I don’t waste any of this. It would be such a shame to be given so much and not do anything with it all. I believe that God gives us all talents and resources for a reason. And it is our duty to develop our talents and gifts to the best of our ability and not waste them. I take this mindset into all my training and life.

That is why I push so much in my workouts. I don’t want to waste what God has given me (of course, I don’t want to abuse it either--which is why I need my coach to keep me from overtraining). Some say I am just a crazy perfectionist (and I have admitted that myself as well), but is more than that. It is about waking up every day, thanking God for the chance to enjoy these incredible gifts, and doing something with them.

It’s my responsibility to use what I have been given.

I haven’t always been good at it. I’ve had many workouts where I gave half-effort. Many friendships that I lost because I didn’t invest in them. Many bad decisions financially where I could have blessed others. But thank God for grace, right?

Every day is a gift -- a chance to get up again and give all I’ve got with what I have been blessed with. I’ll push hard in my training. I’ll love on those that are dear to me. I’ll make others smile with my ridiculous personality and habits. And I’ll encourage those that are going through this sickness as well.

Sooooooo, my question to y’all is this--Whatcha got? What gifts and talents have you been blessed with that you are able to pour your heart into and bless others with? What are you doing to develop to the best of your potential?

*Side note: Update on health--since I know y’all want to know about my personal health stuff. lol. I am on a BC that keeps me from having my period for 3 months since coming off the Lupron. I’m not due to get a period for another 5 weeks, BUT I’m bleeding and cramping a lot lately. Two days ago, I was very sick and had to chill a little. I’m feeling good physically, just dealing with some nausea and pain. The way I feel right now is nothing compared to what I went through on the Lupron and before surgery. This is just hiccups compared to the past--to which I am SO THANKFUL!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The twins are here! The twins are here!

Hayden and Carter Jetton were born earlier this week. My whole family has been in Florida--lovin’ and huggin’ on these two precious babies and their momma. I wish I was there too, but...someday...hopefully soon. I can’t wait to hold and kiss ‘em.

Alicia, Carter, and Hayden Jetton

Besides the amazing news of having another niece and nephew to add to the family :-) -- I raced my second sprint tri this weekend. I placed second overall. It was a small race, but I’ll take the podium finish. I love this sport--and racing against others gives me such a rush.

2’nd tri. 2’nd place. 

I logged 16 hours of training this week and 162 miles. Not too shabby. Not too shabby. 

Branson is just around the corner...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Memories--Pfc Joshua Jetton

Some of you know that my family lost an incredible brother, friend, and hero on June 20’th of this year. Josh was killed in Afghanistan, serving our country. We miss him so much. I don’t write about it on my blog much, but the sadness of his death has been something that I have been struggling with a lot. Training has helped me to keep busy and not think too much. The Branson 70.3 race is actually on Josh’s birthday -- September 18’th. I’m doing the race in his honor. Even though little things like that help and keep me going, it still hurts. 

I miss my family a ton right now. I know we are all grieving, but somehow it seems like it would be a little better being able to be there with them. To be around those that knew and loved Josh. To be able to share stories and memories. To be able to actually laugh with others when talking about him, instead of secluding myself and trying not to ever cry. 

Josh was a crazy kid, who somehow made every experience hilarious and memorable. We have a huge family - four brothers and two sisters. When we’re all together, it gets pretty intense, but fun. We are all so close. My sisters and brothers have been my best friends. My life. My world. And although Josh was not related to us all by blood, he fit right in. He lived with my family in Florida, living all the craziness with the rest of the gang. He was a part of our family. 

To be honest, I don’t know how to grieve. I don’t know how to deal with his death right now. Training is keeping me going. I love life. I love my family. I love training. I love being healthy. But I can’t shake this feeling--this sadness and loss. 

Next week, Alicia (Josh’s wife) is giving birth to their twins. My whole family will be there. My sis is flying down from NY. My other sis driving down from North Florida. My brothers are already there with her, loving in any way that they can. We adore and love Alicia. The twins are going to have a handful of crazy aunts and uncles! 

You know what? 

Josh was supposed to be coming home to be there too.

I want to be with my family, welcoming Josh and Alicia’s babies into the world. I want take a million pics (cause I’m like that) and care for the family in any way that I can. I want to be there so bad, but I can’t right now. I have too much going on here in Arkansas.  

I wrote a song a little while back, trying to deal with grief. It’s nothing amazing. Just me and the piano. I made a lil’ slide show with my song and some pics from our memories with Josh. I did it for Alicia, but I posted it up on FB and below. 

I wish I knew how to make this pain better. But obviously, I can’t. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

115 miles of Branson training! WOOT WOOT!


I biked 115 miles of pure awesomeness. Yes, I did a few miles extra (go hard or go home, right?). 

My birthday bike ride = SUCESS! 

It was hard. It was hot. It was hilly. 

But I’m pretty sure I was in my glory the whole time. Well....maybe not the whole time. I’m sure I had some moments of thinking, “What the big H am I doing out in 103 degree weather with only hot water left to drink and biking hills with my chain stuck in the front big ring?”. I’m sure I made a few of my famous faces. Those expressions that my family and friends say show off my emotions way too well. 

Yet besides those rare moments of sanity when I began to question myself, I was really in my glory. 

So, here’s the ride play by play--or rather my rambling thoughts on how it all went down:

The first 56 miles was done with the 3 guys that I persuaded to ride with me. We did stop a few times to wait up for everyone and to snag some hot water from the water fountain at the highschool (yes, the water was unfortunately hot). The pace was kept pretty easy and low key. It was hot -- 103 degrees (I’m going to mention the heat about 1 million times in this post I’m sure). We started out later in the day than we planned so the sun was kind of pounding. Don't get me wrong -- I loved it--but the guys weren't that thrilled about the sunshine as I was. 

I felt good on this ride. It was a good pace and I stayed fairly hydrated (the water was definitely hot from being in the sun though). I ate a honey stinger packet every hour and put FIZZ in my waters. That seemed to work fairly well the first go around. The hills were hard, but I didn't struggle. This course did not seem as challenging for the first 56 miles. Yes, it helped that we were going at a good pace (not too easy, but definitely not too hard). I was happy to get done with the first half of our 112, but I was also eager to begin again. We finished somewhere near T2 with 58 miles. Somehow, we managed to do a little extra. I think we went the wrong way during the last part of the course, but that's ok--a little extra miles won't hurt!

After the first 56, we hit up a slooooooooooow 30 minutes of jogging to keep our legs moving (and a couple of the guys had to do a run after the first 56 because they were not continuing to the second 56 miles). After the run, we got a ride back to T1 (about 10 minutes away) and started the Branson 70.3 bike course again. I was stiff in the legs getting back on my bike, but it didn’t last long. The first lap was great. I felt ok--still pushing fairly well. During the second lap though--after about 30 miles into it--I hit a wall. I think the heat was starting to get to me. My water in my bottles was hot, and although it kept me hydrated, it didn't help cool me down at all. Also, I was HUNGRY. I didn't eat much in between our first and second ride because I didn't want to be hurting from too much food. However, I was definitely depleted. I was still taking in a honey packet every hour, but it didn't seem like enough. I wish I had some gatorade or something with me. 

Despite the heat and fatigue, I pushed through pretty well. It was a great experience for me mentally and physically. One of the guys had decided to stick out the next 56 with me. He was behind me...somewhere, and had told me to just go and not hold back. Sooooo, I did. Although I was a little worried at times when I couldn’t see him anywhere near me (all the other guys had stopped riding after the first 56 miles). It was just me going and going in the craziness, which took a little more mental strength cause I felt like I was out there alone. 

I gotta say the only thing that repeatedly went through my mind was "love the hills, love the hills, love the hills". haha. Yes, I'm a nut. I was loving those looooooooong hills! Around mile 90 or so, my chain got stuck on my front big ring. Yup. That was definitely not a fun thing on the remaining 22 miles of hills, but again--it was a great experience mentally and physically. I had to stand up on most of the inclines after that. It was much too hard for me to pedal for a mile uphill with my chain stuck. It was a little challenging standing up the whole time too! 

Around mile 96, the guy who had started out riding the second 56 with me appeared near one of the exits with gatorade and cold water (THANK GOD!). He had decided to stop riding the course on his second lap and went to get some cold fluids instead. Lucky for me, he brought some back to the course. After filling my bottles with cold liquids, the rest of the ride wasn't so bad. Well, it definitely hurt with that hard gear, the heat, and the wind (oh, did I mention it was windy?). Oh, and I was still really hungry! I was thinking about loving the hills and FOOD by the end of the second loop. It took me a long time to ride the course the second go around. Hopefully, I can improve my time and learn more about what I should do from this experience. 

All in all, the ride was great. I logged a grand total of 115 miles...somehow. I can’t wait to get back on that course! Branson is my new training heaven!

“I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today.”
 William Allen White 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

BIRTHDAY traditions!!!

Oh snap.

I am 28 years old today.

T-w-e-n-t-y  e-i-g-h-t!!!

Since I was 19 yrs old, I had a bday tradition of running my age in miles every one mile to grow on. Last year, for my 27’th bday, I ran 28.3 miles (can’t forget the .3!). I have always, always, always thought I would run my age ’til the year I croak over and die. I never would have thought that today...on my 28’th birthday, I’d be chillin’ by myself at the pool, reading a book, and...resting.

But I am.


There will be no 29 mile run this year. Instead, my coach had to incorporate a better idea (well, smarter anyway) into my training for the Branson 70.3 in September. So, instead of running 29 miles today, I will be biking 112 miles tomorrow morning in Branson on the hardest half-ironman bike course in the world. Obviously, to get the distance, I am biking the course of 56 miles twice.

Why, you ask?

Well, besides the fact that we all know I’m crazy and addicted to this sport, I’m biking my age x 4 (which also happens to be the full ironman bike distance). There is a group of about 6 of us going (which is the reason I had to wait ’til tomorrow instead of my actual bday). The weather is supposed to be over 100 degrees--hot and humid--just how I like it.

I’ve been looking forward to this ride allllllllll week.

And right about now I’m ready to burst with excitement.

I’m not with my family today (they’re states away). I miss them, but it’s ok. My family always has a crazy way of making every birthday and holiday celebration off the charts fun.

Instead, I’m hanging out on my own, reading Tim Tebow’s book “through my eyes"...again (it’s awesome, by the way), and thinking of how incredibly blessed I am.

I get to ride 112 miles tomorrow with a great group!

I’m not stuck in bed in pain or getting injections for treatment.

I’m healthy.

I’m strong.

I’m happy.

Ahhhh, lake/bike helmet hair, but who cares! Thumbs up!

Today is a pretty rockin’ day...

But tomorrow is going to be even better!

Monday, August 1, 2011

There are no limits...

"All too often we misconstrue pain as a bad thing, while it is true that it indicates we have either physically or mentally reached our limits, it also means to push forward now will inevidably expand upon our previous perception as to what our limits actually are; or perhaps we just might prove to ourselves once and for all that we don’t have any.” 
~Dan M. --my amazing cousin who encouraged and inspired me to push on in training during sickness and treatment when others said it couldn’t/shouldn’t be done. 

I just finished up a 19 hour training week. 

That’s 19 hours of biking, running, swimming, and a little bit of conditioning. 


I’m sleeping really well and eating a balanced diet to help with recovery. I’m feeling some tiredness in my legs from the 77 mile bike ride and 4 mile run that I did yesterday, but it’s only noticeable in little spurts (like the times when I’m walking upstairs). My ankle is feeling good, although I’m still wrapping and icing it (I had sprained it over a month ago and am still babying it). My energy levels are still soaring. I wake up excited to take on the day. I’m not having any bleeding or endo pain. My hips, IT band, and shoulders feel good (thanks to some deep tissue massage that worked out every little knot in my body last week). I’m somewhat surprised even on how quickly my body has been recovering from these workouts. Heck, yesterday I still wanted to run after my 4 hour ride and 30 min run. I didn’t want to stop. 

But I did, of course, because I’m being smart. I’m listening to my coach and only doing what I’m told (and not doing more when I want to). 

Which is why I’m not throwing a fit right now as I stare at my 12 hour training week. 

12 hours. 

That’s all. 

12 hours that my coach had told me to prepare for--to be ready to accept in my train-aholic crazy mindset of always wanting more....more...more. 

Ahhhhhh, 12 hours. 

It doesn’t sound so bad, but take into consideration that 7 of those 12 hours are on Sunday when I bike 112 miles around the Branson 70.3 course and then run for 40 minutes. I’m not that great at math, but I can figure out that I’m left with only 5 hours of training for the rest of this week, leading up to Sunday. 

5 hours. 

5 little hours of running, biking, swimming, and conditioning that are going to fly by because I know that on Sunday I get my glorious ride and run on the course that I will be racing in September. I say glorious because I know it will be a painful training day. It will be hot, hilly, and challenging. But it is going to make me so much stronger--both physically and mentally--to complete that ride and run. 

I know that I have a long way to go in my training, but I expect to get better every day, week, and year. My goal for Branson 70.3 is just to finish healthy, strong, and happy. Of course, just the amazing act of completing the race will make me happy. I’m still in shock that I’m doing this race. Six months ago, when I was fighting to get out of bed because of the pain and sickness, I couldn’t imagine completing a 19 hour training week and feeling great. I couldn’t even comprehend the thought of training for a half-ironman! Thankfully, I had people who believed in me and encouraged me to go forward. People who actually thought I could swim when I had a water fear. People who told me to sign up for Branson before I was able to put my head under the water. 

It’s sounds crazy, doesn’t it? 

In the past, I had set my limits in believing that I could only sit on the edge of a pool. 

Now I’m running out the door to go complete my 2500yd swim part of my little 5 hours of training this week...before I dominate a 7 hour bike ride and 40 min run on Sunday.

There are no more limits in my training--as long as I don’t set any. Others may try to put limits on what I can do, but I won’t listen to them. I know now that what seems impossible is really just a challenge to overcome. It’s the same thing with all of life--pour the heart into it, refuse to quit, and remember that what may seem crazy now is really just another level of reality waiting to be reached.