Full disclosure before you dive into this…it’s very candid, very personal, very real. If this was Instagram I would post the “it me” sticker all over this post.
I read an article in Outside magazine about being okay with being good and not great. It really hit home for me and pretty much summed up the past few years for me racing, in relationships, personally, and mentally.
I have talked at length in previous posts about how I have struggled with my weight and also with sleeping for my entire triathlon career – 8 years. For far too long have I told myself that I am doing great. I own real estate, I am actually making triathlon my career and not just a hobby, I have great friends, I am healthy, my family supports me 100% and they love me to death. I told myself I had everything I needed and could want. Yet I still couldn’t sleep. I constantly stressed about my weight and relationships. I ignored these things for years and validated it with the fact that on paper, and to others, I was successful.
At the beginning of this year everything came to a head and I felt like I hit rock bottom. The second half of last season (2017) I pretty much starved myself because the first half of the season I was racing so fast at about 6 lbs lighter than normal. I originally lost weight because I changed to a plant-based diet but then in typical LG fashion I went extreme and I wasn’t eating enough. My bloodwork was awful. I was depleted of nutrients needed to function normally, let alone race. At the Island House Triathlon in November last year I struggled to run the 5km portion of a sprint distance race. Compounding things, earlier this year, I had a really bad break up with a boyfriend. I was feeling depressed and per usual I felt like I lost everything that meant anything to me. To top it all off, I was not sleeping at all. I would go 4 or 5 days just lying in bed awake stressing about training and anxious that I would get sick.
Race season started in April and I flew to Brazil forIRONMAN 70.3 Florianopolis. I arrived and didn’t sleep for one minute the entire trip. I simply couldn’t sleep. I thought I was losing my mind. I DNF’ed the race, and flew back to Florida to prepare for my next race. I called my mom and broke down in tears and she drove 7 hours to be with me.
I knew I needed to do something, so I arranged an appointment with a psychiatrist. We spoke for 15 minutes, I paid her $200, and she prescribed me Ambien, Xanex (anti-anxiety) and Lexepro (anti-depressant). I took that cocktail for 6 weeks and I felt like my life changed. I was so happy, sleeping awesomely, and training consistently. I raced Escape from Alcatraz, got 3rd, and jumped back into training. Well, the meds ran out and I chose not to go back on them. In a blink of an eye I was back exactly where I was in April…on the phone with my mom breaking down.
SO what did I do next? I took action.
I was so close to quitting the sport as my only hope of sleeping again. I thought the pressure of performing was why I was not sleeping, and I decided sleeping was more important to me than racing. I did not want to just walk away though and let those who support me down. A few people suggested I attend The Landmark Forum. It is a 5-day personal development program that helped me to step outside of myself and uncover my repeating behavioral patterns and reasons for them. I realized that the things that happen to us are just that- things that happen. I also learned to be vulnerable and to be ok with failing sometimes, it causes growth.
I also began doing CBT-I (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia). CBT-I is non-medicated sleep coaching that can help reset the body clock. I learned so much and identified areas for improvement. Together, these steps helped me get out of the downward spiral I was quickly drowning in.
I felt ready to race again and headed to IRONMAN 70.3 Philippines, the Asia-Pacific Championships in Cebu. This was the biggest 70.3 race and most competitive I had ever done. I slept amazingly, felt calm, and perfectly executed my plan placing 2nd. I was absolutely elated especially after the previous 7 months. One hour after the race I found out I was disqualified because I did not serve a 30” penalty that I had no idea I had. Woof, that was rough. Honesty though, I was more stoked that I finally slept, had zero anxiety going into the race, and executed my plan, than I was sad about losing out on a very good payday. I was all smiles at the after party and the long journey home. My friend, who I traveled to Cebu with, actually asked me last week how I was so happy after being DQ’ed in Cebu. I told him that sleeping and being able to have peaceful mind is priceless. This can easily be taken for granted.
So where am I now? Well, I am a healthy weight – in between what I was at the end of last year and I guess my historical weight. I still have a so-so relationship with food but I am not sure that will every go away. I get my bloodwork done with Blueprint Fit every 6 weeks to make sure that my nutrition is dialed. I am sleeping so deeply now. I go to bed every night with a quiet mind and wake up feeling actually rested without taking pills. I am single, but I have a really close group of friends that I hang out with every day and they mean the world to me. I am racing the best I ever have and just won my last two races since Cebu. I am traveling the world, with more racing to come this year, and appreciating this fortunate life I have. I am vulnerable. I am present. I finally feel alive after a very long time of being so sad deep down.
So what is next? Well! I am on a racing tour. I am currently traveling back from Chile where I won IRONMAN 70.3 Coquimbo.
In 8 days I will fly to Argentina for another crack at a Championship race at IRONMAN 70.3 Buenos Aires. From Argentina I will fly straight to NYC to do a photoshoot with TYR and then back to Boulder for 6 days before flying to China to race IRONMAN 70.3 Xiamen.
After China, my mom will come spend a week with me at my home in Boulder for Thanksgiving.
From there I will fly to Colombia to race IRONMAN 70.3 Cartegena and then the next weekend Challenge Daytona.
And finally, the day after my final race in Daytona, I am taking my mom to Italy! She has been my rock this year and who knows what I would have done without her. As hard as the times were earlier this year I truly believe it was to help me see the cause of why I was having so much anxiety and also to bring my mom and I closer together. She has never been out of the USA, so it is going to be such a great experience.
The rest of the year is is a challenging schedule. However; win, lose, or DQ I am so happy to be sleeping, without injury, and at peace with myself.
I feel free!