Thursday, September 16, 2010

and the winner is....

Bekah - you won the yoga mat! Congratulations. I will be sending you an email with details!

Thanks to everyone for entering. Hopefully there will be another giveaway soon!


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

christina loucks has launched

well, after spending months getting a passion of mine turned into a business, christina loucks has launched. a floral design company inspired by a passion for design, and a love for flowers.

i would love for you to have a look!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

a bit of balance - and GIVEAWAY!

as you all know - i have been dealing with finding a bit of balance in my life. between work, launching, training (well, overtraining) for triathlons, qualifying for nationals, and did i mention work - i have been searching for just the thing to help to balance and revitalize myself after suffering from lots of exhaustion. the solutions - always taking sunday off, ensuring proper eating patterns, and yoga + stretching ...

the main  focus. yoga and stretching. seriously, finding time to stretch is a huge challenge, but is important for not only athletes but everyone, providing some down time to regroup (but do stay away from your console tables while balancing - those corners hurt)... sooooo, that is why i chose just tri's first giveaway!!!! an eco friendly yoga mat!

how do enter:  leave comments to recommend your favorite way to take some down time, reconnect and revitalize yourself, and a winner will be chosen at random  9/15.

i cannot wait to hear your suggestions!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

happy 94th birthday grammy loucks

today is a day to celebrate one of the strongest women i know, my grandmother.  today, she is 94 years old.   she is the epitome of strength, the definition of jovial, unbelievably sharp,  proper,  proud, silly, and has a laugh that fills a room.  she loves fashion, and the color purple.  she manages to pair her beautiful diamonds with costume jewelry, and makes is look sensational and effortless. she sewed her entire wardrobe as a young lady, and gentleman said to my grandfather, 'how can you afford to keep her". they would simply giggle.  she was married to my grandfather 48 years before he passed in 1987, and lived independently until a few months ago when she fell, broke her hip and compound fractured her wrist. this was not the easiest transition for her to move out of a home she built her life in, raised my father and uncle in and built every lifes chapter thus far in;  but for a woman who wrote the definition of strength and optimism - this too is something that has become yet another chapter in her life.

this home was the place of tradition where family gathered every christmas and easter. it is the reason tradition is so important to me today, and why i still find it challenging living in atlanta -- far, far away from my family, my first home, where i was born and raised in new york.  she is a woman who took her maiden name as her middle name when married in the 30's. upon asking her about it, she said of course, why wouldn't i have? just one more thing i love about her - a woman ahead of her times.

interesting little fact - upon my husband and i  announcing the date set for our wedding to our family - gram said "i am so excited. not only is that the same day your grandfather and i got married, but it is the same time, as well".   simply amazing!

she was married to the love of her life.  she said she knew she was going to marry him from the first time they met. she speaks of him with a glimmer in her eye and a smile on her face.  there is one particular story she loves to tell about how they used to love to dance.  my grandfather would dance over to her to get her to come dance with her.  dancing side to side from across the room with a smile on his face.  they simply adored each other, and had a love that you read about is novels.

i am so grateful to have been surrounded by so many amazing,  inspirational, and strong ladies. my grandmothers, and mother.

here is to my amazing grandmother on her 94th birthday.

Gram celebrating at her 90th birthday party.
Gram and Grandpa before by dad was born. LOVE this picture
gram around 12 years old. so beautiful
a huge garden club fan - of course she modeled in their fashion show!

my husband and i on our wedding day, the anniversary of my grams wedding, wearing a piece of her veil in my hair.
My dad and his mom (my gram) celebrating her 94th with her favorite- ice cream!

gram on her wedding day
gram up at cape pond - their camp. 
silly gram celebrating at her 90th birthday.
gram my husband, and my other fabulous gram
the sensational laugh at her 90th.
love this. wedding, celebration, and my dad and uncle as children (looking like trouble).

the ultimate endurance

i am thinking today of my husband, who 5 years ago decided to take a strong hold of his life, to go against the norm of a cushy, corporate job with no real passion; to a life back in school - 5 years of endurance training so he can spend the rest of his life being enthusiastic and passionate about what he is doing.  the ultimate endurance.  a quote came across my email today stating - "We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about." Charles Kingsley.  interesting thought, Mr. Kingsley.  and oh so true.

if you read this blog, you most likely have trained for at least one endurance sport, or you are just amazed by the sport, and enjoy the sheer motivation factor.  you train anywhere from a few months or longer depending on the sport, and then the ultimate reward - the race.  you endure the training, to then endure the physical, emotional, and mental challenges of the race.  you  celebrate your accomplishment, pushing your limits to the max, relive the event for a few days, reassess your goals, rework your training to better your splits, T times, etc.  but could you imagine spending 5 years enduring your training, with the ultimate reward being one race  - graduation 5 years away? beginning your practice is so far away, there is not even much of a dot of light at the end of the tunnel? sure, there are pieces of the puzzle that begin to line up along the way, and provide a few 'ah ha' moments - but the true reward is so far in the distance.

today, and for the next two months - a lot of his race training is finally coming together.  final national board exams, working with numerous patients who are lining up to work with him and cannot wait for their next appointment. his phone is ringing off the hook. his talent is being realized.  this chapter of his 5 year long ultimate endurance challenge is just about complete, and then onto the next.  living and speaking your dream, passion and enthusiasm into reality.  phase 2. introducing my husband as Dr. Jorge Ahumada. Chiropractor. specialist in physical therapy, biology, and nutrition.  perfect for this triathlete.

here is to your ultimate endurance race and you have already finished ahead. i tearfully say,  i am oh so proud and amazed by your strength.

Friday, July 30, 2010

celebrate others

after an emotionally challenged day yesterday, i wanted to go celebrate an amazing accomplishment of a friend, artist, blogger, and photographer, Blayne Beacham of thisphotographerslife and blaynesonething. Blayne is now debuting her sensational, award-winning photography series called "wonderland". breathtaking. and even more amazing, is that it was debuted at Artist Trifecta gallery which also features art by Salvidor Dali. this, my friend, is what you call success! the success was shared by fellow design bloggers Niki McNeil of Single Bubble Pop, Cristi Holcombe of Charm Home, Terry Kearns of Architecture Tourist, Claire Watkins of High Gloss Blue. ( to name a few)

what a wonderful celebration seeing an amazing artist celebrated, and accomplishing a goal.

raise a glass. cheers to you, blayne.  as my grandmother would say, mazal tov!

i (not so) gracefully resign; temporarily

 it was yesterday that a huge realization ensued that i actually needed a break. i have never desired a vacation more than i do now. i have never detested training as much as i do right now. i have never felt as demotivated  as i do right now. i don't remember the last time i had a strong run, bike or swim. i chose to ignore all the signs that were popping up many, many weeks ago announcing over training. i pushed my mind to push my body as hard as it could, and approached every day of training regardless of my clear signs of fatigue.

i raced chattanooga completely overtrained, then the next weekend raced again, took a week off to simply move around, and now this week was slowing moving back into training for the age group nationals 9/25. moving back into training had not gone well to say the least, which opened my eyes to what had actually occurred. my runs have become brutal, feeling like i had not run a day in my life. legs feel heavy, swollen, and lethargic. heart rate soaring. and the most interesting part, my mind is raring to go. ready. willing. able. later that evening after seeing a clear pattern over a few days, i noticed an article in triathlon magazine outlining overtraining, and all the symptoms i am feeling. no- that is not me. i cannot imagine...and then began looking back at my training over the last 2-3 months.

after speaking to a few coaches i was looking to work with for nationals, i had to send a note and say i was not sure what was happening, but i needed to wait on coaching until later in the season to prepare for 2011, instead. what really opened my eyes that soon became tearful was words from a coach, an extremely successful triathlete and ironman who said i was struggling with over training syndrome, and only rest and recovery can help at this point. any exercise i do at this point should be for fun, no watches, no heart rate monitor. easy, short and sweet. now as a triathlete, fun and training don't really go hand in hand, but instead what we love is pushing our limits and enjoying the results. that is why we do what we do.

needless to say, there is a struggle here of sheer disappointment.  frustrated in myself that i caused this. that i cannot just be normal, but have to shoot for 110% instead of 100%. at the end of the day, you have yourself to look at in the mirror, and if my all was not given, i will not like that reflection. it is simply just never enough, there is always another goal.

this was a tearful, emotional day. a race i worked hard to qualify for, now has to be treated as a 'fun' race, instead of a 'race' race. i need to just enjoy the reality that i qualified for a high-caliber event, and take it all in. based on what i am experiencing currently, i have been instructed that i will not have any degree of success in this race if i exert myself between now and then. 110% is not always the best way.

the article i read in triathlon magazine about over training offered an amazing analogy. if your body is a sponge, it can continue to take and take and take, until it is absorbed fully. once the body (sponge) is absorbed fully, it cannot absorb anything else until it dries out. that is an amazing analogy to explain the training cycle that should be.

now this (not so) graceful resignation is only temporary, but is a key learning experience to make me even stronger and ramp up for 2011. i'll need lot's of energy and mental focus when i take on a coach! there is an element of relief, that i am not indeed weakening, but experiencing what alot of triathletes have experienced - and i will recover and become physically strong again. fingers crossed, in two weeks time, i will be up and at 'em again!

this will be an interesting time, where i will be learning the art of balance to perfect my strategy further in the future, not only in triathlon but with life. endurance sports are amazing in that you are learning more about yourself everyday, and with every race. and from that you learn how to improve. it is vulnerable, but strong.

let's offer some support to my husband who is living with me during this somewhat challenging time with a bit of crazy, and lent his big shoulder yesterday to this currently frustrated sense of self.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tri 2 Remember Sprint Triathon Race Report - goals accomplished (finally).

this was my first sprint, having only raced olympic distances so far. i did not qualify for age group nationals at chattanooga, so my friend both had the same goal. qualify. both of us had challenges with heat in chattanooga, or whatever the cause may have been, and at chattanooga, he learned of a sprint triathlon that was taking place one week after our race, and was usat regulated, which means if we placed in the top 10 percent we would qualify for nationals..those are some tough odds. competitive and crazy as we are, i signed up kicking and screaming inside feeling like i had just had enough and was defeated. i do discourage ending anything in life on a low, and knew i had to get back in the saddle with a new goal. i am so grateful my friend michael (pictured above)sent me this link, (and that he is as crazy as i am and  an awesome triathlete). this race was exactly what i needed.

i did not know what would happen from such a quick turn around from one race to the next, but another friend and amazing, successful triathlete recently raced through training with no taper, and her coach told her it will only effect her if she uses that as an excuse, and she ended taking first place. i kept that in the back of my mind as i raced, as well as her valuable advice after my struggles with  chattanooga  - saying don't ever give up. those both kept ringing in my ears during my sprint. knowing my friend michael was out there racing with me, out for the same goal kept me strong and focused. for me, accountability is everything - i hold myself accountable, but if others are aware as well  - that pushes me even harder.

i stayed with my michael and his wife the night before the race, and arrived promptly at 5:30 am.  in the parking lot i saw a girl who looked around my age and while she was sizing me up and i her. something told she was going to be one to watch on this race. after entering transition, i noticed quite a few serious looking girls in my age group and i began to think this may be quite a race. when it is a small race, and sizing up is happening that early, you never know what to expect.

average temperature at the start were in the 70's so not too hot, thank goodness.

i had to really think about my nutrition on this race with it being a different distance than what i was used to. while it was shorter, i still need calories to keep my body moving with strength. after getting some advice and doing some research, i devised a plan: the usual race regimen pre-race, oatmeal, and a cliff bar 2 hours before race start, and then 200 calories per bottle comprised of cytomax (electrolytes and energy) and carbopro pre race(begin sipping the bottle about 45 minutes before swim start) and for the ride. the cytomax has some energy added to it,and it worked out nicely. i sipped gatorade at every water stop, which was a first but going forward will become a habit as i usually only do water.

so this is my first sprint, and the distance was 500 m swim, 15 mile bike, and 3.45 run (but they only time it as a 3.1). i had a time in my mind, and that was 1:30. i did not know what to expect and after my key learnings from chattanooga, i set my timer on my watch, but switched the face only to show me the time, i did not want to deter my mental state by watching if i was going to make my goal or not, i just wanted to race as hard as i could.

the lake was slimy and murky, and i was lined up right next to the 'girl' who i first saw in the parking lot. i figured well, maybe i can draft off of her, there we so many girls in the wave start that went beyond my age group, the last thing i wanted was to be in the back and have to swim over people to get out, i would rather be swam over. the horn blew, and the girls were off, and my 'girl' was out of sight in an instant. it was an in-water start which was a new one for me, so that was a bit odd to get acclimated to (and it needs some practice). needless to say, my plan to draft off of the 'girl' went out the window. i have to say, i struggled a bit on the swim. i went anaerobic very quickly and had trouble getting a rhythm needing to breath every stroke. i lost my focus a bit with all the flailing about, grabbing and kicking of the other swimmers. i was sure i would end up with a black eye, but came out only with some scrapes.

thankfully i made it through the swim, on my estimated time, and quickly realized the concept of a sprint was to sprint, and go as hard as you could  without stopping. interesting in the water, not so easy.

a bit of a run with the bike out of transition and then was off. from the start of the bike i was realizing a lot of burning in my hamstrings but continued to brush it off and not focus on it, instead focusing on pressing as hard as i could on the bike. gradual hills, up and up and up with a bit of downs.  i saw the 'girl' on the way back as i was still on my way out, and realized she was a fast one, and was ahead of me. we were told the bike was up on the way out and alot off fast downs on the way back. the only fast downs i found were the last 3 miles. had to reassess my nutrition, and take my last sips of calories and electrolytes about 5 miles out from t2. i did manage to take an extra sip or two 3 miles out which came back to haunt slightly on the run.

off the bike and onto the run. the run was supposed to be non-technical trail running, all flat except for one hill.  i struggled out of transition for about a half of a mile. i still needed a couple of breaks in the first mile, but refocused and kept hearing the words don't give up replaying in my mind and knowing my friend was out here battling as well, kept me going. i wanted to know i gave it everything i had and knowing i was upset i took a few second breaks on the first mile frustrated me, so i raced onward instead of letting it defeat me. the run was two technical trail loops and then a third loop that took another route. 70 percent of this run was on grass and dirt trails in the  hilly woods. whomever said this run wasn't technical, and flat as a pancake needs to relearn what flat means. at the start of the second mile, i felt the extra sips of my drink coming to repeat on me and thought they were about to escape. fortunately that went away leaving the second mile as the strongest for me, and was completed fairly quickly. the third was a route i thought i had figured out,and then it took us off to an area i did not for see coming. my mind started to wander in confusion, but had to shake it off . at mile 2.8 was a hill and i was really getting tired at this point and ready to finish.  on that hill just about 20 feet ahead of me, i saw a girl with the age 33 on the back on her leg. she was in my age group, and as much as i wanted to stop and take a break on this hill, i couldn't knowing i have an age-grouper just in front of me. and to my surprise, she ended up stopping to walk half-way up the hill, and i knew she was pacing slower than me on the run, but this would be the only chance to truly pass her and get distance while she walked. it took everything i had and i barreled up the hill and kept going, looked behind and she was no where in sight. i finally saw the 3 mile marker, but realized i had no idea where the finish line was. i heard a man say as i passed him that it was a 3.45, not 3.1(brilliant), and as i came out of the trail, i finally saw the finish line across the lake, with probably .4 miles to go. it felt like it took forever, and i wanted to stop but kept going, and going. i heard my friends screaming at me as i approached the finish line but did not lose my focus. i finished. the volunteers bent down to take off my timing chip. my heart rate was so high my head was spinning and i could not wait to walk it off.  they were taking so long to get that chip off my ankle. finally walking and able to regain my composure and breathing and i felt great. i looked down at my time, and realized i hit my 1:30 mark and did not even know it.

what is amazing, is after 5minutes i felt great, unlike olympic distance that i cannot eat for hours after the race and feel completely spent. this was great - i could eat, talk, walk - nothing like it. what further amazes me, is that on the run, it still felt like an olympic distance from the level of fatigue that ensues from pushing yourself to your anaerobic threshold.

unofficial results were posted. at that time, i was 5th, and 18 seconds away from making it to nationals. defeated, but still feeling good about my performance today and staying out of the medical tent.  i knew i pushed, but regretted the few seconds of rest i took on mile 1. i need to stop that. i was told that once you start taking breaks, you keep taking them. don't allow it. you can keep going.

we knew the results posted were unofficial, so stayed for the award ceremony. my feet and legs were beginning to swell from standing still and they start the announcing from oldest down. i was not really paying attention until all of a sudden i heard my name called up to the podium for an award. i did not know, but had placed 3rd place in my age group. i was elated, but had to wait until the next day to email usat to see if i had qualified for nationals, and to my excitement i did. i qualified for the age group nationals race in tuscaloosa in september. but the bitter sweetness was that my friend did not. the person who pushed me to race this race. his age group is unbelievably competitive, and mine will be equally as bad next season. the 'girl' ended up coming in first in our age group.

so i am off to race age group olympic distance nationals race september 25th in tuscaloosa, alabama and will be signing up for another sprint in october. for now, i will be enjoying weight training, and maintaining my swim , and improving my bike, and run.

i am so grateful for all the amazing friends i have that have helped to share their knowledge with me, share crazy with me, and continue to challenge me. you know who you are.

Chattanooga Race Report

i had very high hopes for chattanooga waterfront triathlon, after missing my nationals qualification by 33 seconds in april at st. anthony's triathlon. being new to the sport, and st anthony's being my second triathlon, i had heard of the age group national races, but thought they were something very far beyond reach. never thought of them again, other than thinking that would be a great goal. after racing st anthony's and being told i was 33 seconds away from qualifiying for nationals, i realized maybe it was something to strive for; a new goal. i like goals.

with large races, when usat sanctioned, you qualify as the top 10% of your age group, but in certain regional championship races, such as st. anthony's or chattanooga, you can qualify in the top 33%. needless to say, placing in the top 10% of a large, olympic distance triathlon takes alot of talent, so once i did not make it at st. anthony's in the top 33 percent,  i wanted to give chattanooga a shot.

with the races i had done so far, which would not be 2 before chattanooga (st. anthony's and peachtree city), i had been in one of the first waves of the swim, so with the race starting at 7:30 am, i would be in the water no later than 7:45. this worked perfectly with planning pre-race nutrition. chattanooga was different. roughly 1500 participants, and my wave was one of the last, and they had racers get in the water individually, not as a wave. so, arriving at the race site at 5:30 am, it was slightly more of a challenge planning nutrition to avoid cramping in the swim, but keep enough nourishment to hold you until the bike.

the sun began beaming high in the sky on what was expected to be 98 degrees by mid day. my swim personally took off at about 9:10 am - sun high in the sky.

the swim was not a point to point as i was used to, but instead was a straight line. it is nice because there are no turns, but at the same time, it is tough to get an idea of how far you are from the finish line, so that part was a challenge for me on pacing my speed. i took it pretty fast on the offset, and then had to slow a bit in the middle to catch my breath.

out of the water, made it up the stairs to get to the other large amount of stairs to then cross the road, and barrel into transition, situate, and get on the bike. pretty smooth here (i don't always remember this part) and off i was on the bike. the bike was pretty enjoyable -highway riding, no shade, out and back on rolling hills. i tend to like the out and back breaking the race into half.  it was hot, but was tough to realize the heat due to the breeze that you receive on the bike. i felt good, legs were not burning too much, kept up the carbopro and electrolytes. i felt stronger on the bike than i had in a while, while my speed is still not there yet it will come with practice, and the base is better to build upon now. i took my last sip of fluid calories at mile 21.

i made it to t2, and once i got off my bike and ran my bike into transition, i felt my legs really getting heavy. i could not help but laugh while running through the sand with cletes on and managing a bike. not the most smooth running feeling. i turned down the wrong transition pathway, and had to duck under some racks to get to my rack. next time i need to walk both entry points of the transition area.

off to the run, and within the first minute my legs were heavy, tired and burning and already feeling anaerobic. the heat was cooking. the course was slightly distorted the first mile or so and it was tough to steady your heart-rate and cadence. there were a lot of turns, a down hill, and 2 flights of stairs until we actually got on the course. once on the course, i have to say i don't remember it too well. my memory is spotty. i was struggling both physically and mentally. i entered this race with a time goal in addition to a goal of qualifying. after a couple of miles i realized i was not going to make my time goal, but decided that i still could perhaps qualify so kept pushing. my legs were getting heavier and heavier and my left leg was getting a cramp that felt like a gremlin trying to crawl out from under my skin, one stab at a time. i have never wanted to stop racing more than this moment. i wanted everything over. i felt terrible, and while my physical state was weakening, my mental was getting worse. if you keep your mental together, your physical will stay in line. i kept pushing, but was needing a lot of walk breaks. i kept saying, ok - no more walking  - only 3 miles to go, but with that i just kept stopping. i was wishing this gremlin under my quad would just take me out and flatten me so i could stop racing. i had to decide after feeling slightly dizzy that i either had to continue to race the race, or just finish the race. i chose to finished the race.

once i crossed the finish line i was a mess. knew i did not feel well. my mental state completely collapsed along with my physical as it took everything i had to keep it together in 98 degrees. whatever was left to keep me focused and moving through the run exploded. things were spinning, and all i could think to do was find my husband, jorge. he was a few steps away. it was all i could do to hold it together until i found him to simply say i don't feel well. he took one look and he whisked me to the medical tent.  uncontrollable shaking, unexpected tears, and complete hyperventilating. my heartrate was soaring. i don't remember much from the medical tent, but i do remember two things- first - the look of shock on a females face when she looked at me as i approached the medical tent, and  second - once i was seated, the medic looked at me with a sarcastic smile as i could not control my shaking or breathing, and said "did you overexert your self a bit?". the one thing i remember thinking was you stupid piece of s***. it is a race. everything is a complete blur after that, but remember becoming coherent again, and realizing the multiple ice packs on my body, and cup of gatorade in my hand. they should have shot that stuff into my veins. my core temperature and sugar levels had been regulated.

key learnings:
-not to give up - - and always keep your mental state strong/ if i had not been so demotivated by time, and given up on the mental i could have qualified with a time 12 minutes over my time goal.
-there will be bad races, but it is important to get back into the saddle and back up instead of feeling defeated. push with what you have, so you don't have to look back and have regrets.
-no more walking - once you start, you tend to keep stopping. don't do it. period
-goals are good, but not always accomplished. but even so, having a goal pushes you harder that if you had none, so continue to set them.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

goals, the delicate balance.

alot was riding on the chattanooga triathlon this past weekend. after being only 33 seconds away from qualifying for nationals, at my second triathlon at St. Anthony's triathlon in april, it seemed a likely accomplishment at my fourth triathlon in chattanooga.

i entered this race with a time goal in mind that was feasible based on my last two race performances. goals are a wonderful thing, they are what drives us to the next level, push us to drive harder than if we did not have a goal. but on the converse, if the goal is not accomplished for whatever reason that may be out of your control, there is a sense of dissatisfaction and failure. yes, the race was finished. yes, something was accomplished a lot of people will not experience. yes, a goal was accomplished - a completed race. but when do we take the time to actually celebrate that accomplishment. instead we stop, access, look at where improvement is needed for the next one, and move on with new goals. i have been congratulated repeatedly since the race was completed sunday, and the response that keeps popping immediately in my head is what on earth are they congratulating me for....i did not accomplish my goal?

interestingly enough, on my run portion, not only did i not have much strength left in me, i looked at my watch to see my time goal was not going to be met, or even close unless i was going to run a 6.5 min mile. so in this case, my mind began to give up. give up because my goal was not going to be completed, and not only that - i had to make the choice to finish the race, or continue to race the race after experiencing dizziness, and cramping in my left thigh. i chose to finish the race, finished it, and still ended up in the medical tent after finishing due to dehydration from the brutal 95+ degree temperatures.

a key learning- revisiting the purpose of goals. working towards celebrating any accomplishment. i am so grateful for friends who are reminding me of just that with their wonderful comments celebrating the work it took to get where i have gotten to become a triathlete. making me think about this mental game called triathlon, and develop any weakness as a strength. if we are never satisfied, how will we know when we are actually happy and enjoy the world around us?

the balancing game is dealing with goals, both accomplished and failed.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

modern is

had a great opportunity to comment on a wonderful blog called this photographers life, which defined many different perspectives on what modern is today. modern has many definitions  but here i wanted to share my thought of what modern is today far and beyond design.

self- confidence is modern; being comfortable in your own skin is modern. confident enough to display your passions, to live your passions, to represent them and highlight them in your home. to take the road less traveled. to carve your own path. aspirational pieces have been replaced with pieces that are found second hand, providing a new life to a piece of furniture with a sanding and coat of oil to make it shine, yet again. it is function and necessity. need vs. wants. recycling is modern. modern is making no excuses for what you don't have, but proud of what you do have and making the best of it. this modern confidence is manifested and exhibited through your home through color, or lack of color, photos, art, design. modern is how you choose live your life for yourself, not others. modern is the art of positive.

share your thoughts on what your idea of modern is.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

say it, and you will be it

i recently read three lines the other day on a coffee mugs {and i wish i bought all three, but bought none}, but they are still with me posted over my desk. 
  • stop wasting time finding yourself, instead create yourself
  • dreams point to unique gifts
  • desires point to talents
i have to say - i tested the territory today of putting things in the atmosphere to see what would happen. so what else would you do in a world of social media - i tweeted it. i said "i think it is going to be a fabulous day, full of opportunity - how about you?". so i did still hit the snooze today, despite my last post - but i tweeted the wonderful words. i have done this before, spoke or wrote what i wanted to happen, and it worked. i said it, and it happened. i did it again, and it happened again. over and over and over. i did it in training challenges posting self fulfilling prophecies. the result - pigs flew. great opportunities are there, just put them in the atmosphere - stay true to who you are, really...deep down. remember what you loved as a child, the most honest time of your life. what did you love?

i remember as a child, laying in the grass staring at the big white fluffy clouds on a warm sunny day. your imagination was so rampant that you could see all these fabulous animals, in the shapes of the clouds. you would lay there with your friends, giggle {if you were a girl like me}, talk about who you were going to marry, who you had a crush on, and what you saw yourself doing when you grew up to be old enough to be a mom {i still cannot believe i am now old enough to be a mom}. yuk - so old, i would think. 

what i remember from those days, were all the beautiful daisies in the grass, the dandelions that most found a nuisance, i found delightful.  the beautiful buttercups that if put under your chin and it reflected yellow, it meant you loved butter.

the more you learn of yourself, and the more you become your own. the more you become what you dreamed of as a child - who you really were before all the world began its' influences. it is now, that i am beginning something that i have dreamed of as a little girl, all through my twenties while i was working to become what society seemed to tell me was the right direction in the corporate world. don't get me wrong. i love my job in marketing . i love marketing.  but i love the idea of having something of my own, too -  full of my passions.  what did your inner child tell you?  think about it and capture it. you may find what your true passion is. then say it. write it. be it. 

recently i was blown away when asked to participate in a photoshoot on inspiring women for a local blog called The Local Dash. b.l.o.w.n. a.w.a.y ! but what also happened is it allowed me to tap into myself even deeper when answering the questions on myself. see further into what my passions were. caused me to think and ponder on just those things that cause you to look into yourself.

i suggest you post this over your desk as well, if it pulls your inspiring energy to the surface.
  • stop wasting time finding yourself, instead create yourself
  • dreams point to unique gifts
  • desires point to talents

i am a trier-in-training in many ways, aside from just triathlons.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

the art of positive

you have the power to choose positive, consciously, continuously.

it is amazing the pondering that ensues during training. and for those of you that are not familiar with triathlons, you cannot race with music, so you do not train with music. swimming silently, biking silently, running silently. alone with your thoughts, breathing, and the sounds of your feet on the pavement.  tricky subconscious territory.

during my training session this morning (which happened to be my run, today) i was trying to figure out something that is so difficult to put my finger on, because so many factors come into play.  during another very challenging run, i was contemplating  my training, and why  this past month and a half as proven more difficult for me than any other trainings i have done since i began racing triathlons just a year, and only 9 months since my first race. is this a mental handicap that has come forward, am i depressed, is it all my travel that has ensued for work, not eating and drinking properly, is it the heat, do i have too much on my plate, am i just completely exhausted? it has been only a month and a week since my last race; certainly i could not have lost that much endurance, but pure exhaustion has over come me like i have not experienced before.

everything is such a mental game. my work life has become a huge challenge, in not a 'good challenge' way; but at the same time - i am working on a new venture for myself that i am very excited about.

after thinking some more, i realized that i (and i know there are a few more of you out there) seemingly, and unknowingly start my day procrastinating. i am not a procrastinator, i typically do not let grass grow under my feet. every time i hit the snooze button, i am inadvertently procrastinating not only waking up, but procrastinating starting my day, and my morning training. the training that is supposed to empower me through my day; empower me that i can accomplsh anything, conquer the world, get the day started accomplishing maybe the only thing for myself for the day(corporate world work not included). is it my state of mind that is causing the problems i am having, is it causing the exhaustion? can it be that powerful? if this 'procrastination' is causing me to start my day off on a negative, how can the training be a positive?

after reading some old posts from my newbie traithlon training times (a whole year ago) when i started training, i tapped into some of the energy that maybe needed to keep me going. i read on my huge challenge, and it re-taught me to end my training on a positive, always.  i was also reminded that you DO have the ability to become powerful, and it CAN work through the power of positive thoughts. i had experienced it first hand with my first triathlon.

we all have our trials and tribulations in life, and as an athlete - it is amazing how they not only are with you during training, but also throughout your day. your training completely effects your outlook on your day. if you did not conquer your training with your upmost ability and power, subconsciously it translates in other areas of our life.

my dips have become a crater, a crater i need to work very hard to overcome. athlete or not, mental state plays a gigantic roll in all we do - either it plays as a limitation, as an analyst (and with too much of this causes paralyzation), or as a amazing force that exuberantly can move you forward. you do have the power to choose that path. consciously, every moment - you have that choice. it is an art, and the art is to  choose to stay positive even when it is tough to do so.

my goal is to not hit the snooze, wake up with joy - and end the training with joy. if it takes all i have, i am determined.  next race july 11.  i have a very big goal for this race, and i will not let my mental state waiver one more day. i am taking you back over.

every training day will be a great one. every training day will be a great one. every training day will be a great one.....

Friday, May 28, 2010

a glamorous side of an athlete

i am honored, stunned  and enamored to be featured today as an inspiring woman fashionista on the local dash.  there are so many sides to an athlete; the drive, ambition, a slight side of vanity {although some stronger than others}, the perseverance to give the last 10% in everything you do, relentlessness to surpass your goals. those are qualities that are not just left on the race course, but ones that are with us through our daily lives.  that is what will make the difference, and set you just above the rest. but this photo shoot was such a different experience. there was no mental, competitive drive, no giving an extra 10%, no sweat, no heat radiating from your face, no heart pounding through your chest. Instead is was relaxing, wonderful, and amazing to see how the camera captures your personality, your feelings, and how many different sides you truly do have.  Amazing to see how peaceful it can be when you are silently alone with your thoughts without a sense of competition. it was fun to share the softer side of me. but i did enjoy my 6 mile run of repeats this morning done with an average of 8 min mile pace.....

the quandary is finding the healthy balance of both sides; when to give the extra 10%, and when to ease up a bit, and enjoy the moments.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

what is your motiviation factor?

exhilarating, excruciating, gut - wrenching, empowering, nausea-inducing, limits pushed & exceeded, simply perfect.

one hour of spinnerval intervals on the trainer, followed by a series of sensational hill runs for 18 minutes of a brick. feeling alive.

limits pushed. conquered. accomplished. wishing i did more, even with nothing left. adrenaline high. today, i conquered my dip.

what inspires your training to take things to the next level? pushing personal limits, pushes your expectations, and encourages you set higher goals for yourself. what makes you feel alive?

boundaries are set so you have a goal, to then trump once accomplished.

what is my motivation factor? accomplishing my next goal.
cannot wait for my run tomorrow

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

the dips, literally

did my first 6 miler since my peachtree city triathlon on may 15th. it has gotten a little hotter and the atlanta humidity has begun to set in, and what was my favorite running course - full of hills, has once again become the run to conquer.

i began reading the book "the dip" by seth godin, and it not only relates to business, but also to racing. he relates the dip to "the middle of the marathon, when the excitement of the starting gun is a dim memory, and the joy of the finish line is a distant dream". we've all been there. but it is how we move past with strong mental ability  that is your true test of strength.  i keep that on my mind through my toughest parts of training. persevere. it is through the challenges in training {the dips}, that provide you the opportunity for improvement. the mental challenges that ensue during your toughest training, are ones that will prove effective in other areas of your life.

share your 'dip' moments.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

chattanooga training has begun.

hill repeats, and lots of them. it has been a week since the peachtree city international triathlon and it did feel great to get back out there, although i did drag my feet this morning before heading out the door.  i have a road called woodland brook. it is chock full of hills - peaks and valleys galore which make for some great hill repeats. chattanooga is a very hilly course, and a race qualifier for the nationals race to occur in september.  so being that i did not do many hill repeats in the bitter cold this winter, it is time to get these legs into gear and ready for strong climbing. my two focuses for the next race are to have a faster bike - ideally 1:15; and a better faster, and stronger brick.  to accomplish this, i will be doing bike intervals/hill repeats 1xweekly, & distance 1xweekly,  run interval 1xweekly & distance 1xweekly. my thoughts are that  by strengthening  my bike, it may help me to have an 'easier' brick on my legs. i will also be doing bricks 2xweekly after the intervals, and the long bike ride.

the ride this morning was better than expected. my legs did remember how to climb - until i looked down a road off my course to the right and saw and unbelievable hill.  i figured why not.  i turned right, and began to work the hill, and essentially almost fell off the bike as it began to come to a halt.  the hill peaked unexpectedly at a strange spotand the gearing just was not switching quickly enough - but i did not fall and made it up. after tough climbs, my legs slow down dramatically upon reaching the top, and attention needs to be focused on getting the cadence up ASAP.  as i moved over the top of the climb - i suddenly saw a dramatic descent that wrapped around and around and around. i realized that unless i can get out of this neighborhood, i was going to be climbing back up the hill i am now flying down.  it kept going, and there was no good place to turn around. finally i found a quasi flat area and turned around to bring myself back up that hill.

i have truely never climed a hill of this intensity before.  not only was the hill steep, it kept building as you ascended, wrapping around  and up. i had to stay out of the saddle the entire time, and had it in the lowest granny gear. barely moving.  as cars passed me  you would hear their engines down gearing and whining as they ascended. never  before had i questioned being able to make it up a hill - going so slowly i was not sure if i was going to remain vertical. lungs whistling, stomach nauseous but i made it.  and off to do some more climbing on the main road, woodland brook.

 i knew i would need to do that climb again - a second set. that hill is now dedicated as my hill to conquer, my hill to measure strength building. that is the hill to beat, over all hills.   as i continued back down, and then up woodland brook again, i saw the turn approaching where 'the hill' was, and i turned and conquered it again, not any easier, lungs still whistling, stomach flipping.... but got it done. my new favorite hill.

what does not kill you makes you stronger.

finished up with what was going to be a 10 minute brick, but then decided to add a few hill repeats, so did about 20 minutes.  same motto as above.

lets go chattanoogajuly 11th.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Peacthree City Oly Tri 5/15/10

i had a great race at PTC. i PR'd by 5 minutes from my last race. it was great to race local. wake up in my own bed, and be back to our home afterwards. i was not too sure what was going to happen with this one. i had a really tough race at St. Anthony's on 4/25 due nutrition fouls,  and did not do too much since. light swim twice, a run, spinnervals once, and an easy ride. that was it. i tried to set a goal, then i tried to say that it was sort of a practice, learning race, then of course knew that if i did not pr from St. Anthony's i would have been disappointed.  apparently you are supposed to choose an 'A' race of the season, and then the rest are less than 110% output, but i have not figured out how to do that. one day i will figure that out. 

i am so grateful for a friend and fabulous athlete, Carmen, for advising my on my nutrition. i did well with my nutrition at Tugaloo, my first race; but had terrible issues at St. A's. she took the time to read my race report independently and initiated a whole bunch of very welcomed advice. advice that helped me greatly on my race.  not only advice on my nutrition, but beyond - how to avoid jello legs, avoid stomach upset. proven, helpful formulas. the formula is used, and will continue to use is as follows  

- usual breakfast upon awaking.  
-an hour later (but 2 hours before race), drink elecrolytes, 1/2 cliff bar. 
-1.5 hours before race another 1/2 cliff bar. 
-1 hour prior to swim start, begin drinking a combo of carbopro and electrolytes.

 -race nutrition - bike - carbopro and electrolytes. first sip 10 minutes into the bike, and last sip on mile 20.  mile 1 on the run, gel; mile 3.5-4, 1/2 gel. next race, will use a salt tab at mile 2o on the bike to avoid cramping on the run.

i arrived at PTC race morning with Jorge and Kona as my spectators, got into the water for a warm up and the water was like glass. spectacular.

line up  was at 7:15 with a friend and teammate, and off at 7:30. every 5 seconds 2 people were into the water.  what i realized during the swim, is that i struggled with was finding just the right rate for my swim. i swim a comfortable rate, not a rate that pushes too hard.  how hard should i push it, i have so much race ahead of me. that is something i will need to figure out. goal - find the best swim race pace. rank 7 swim 28:30 2.0 T1 2:25 

i was out of the water and onto T1. got out of T1 in 2:25 and off i go on the bike. no jello legs! did the kicking intermittently as advised for the last  200 meters to avoid getting jello legs. 10 minutes into the bike i began drinking my carbopro/electrolytes mix. it was very apparent upon review of my splits and by how i feel on the bike,  that i have alot of work to do on my bike. {well- have lot's of work to do all around, too} but i think as i strengthen the bike, the run brick portion will be helped at the same time. goal - get that bike faster and complete OLY split in 1:15 max! rank 13 Bike 1:26:18 mph 17.4 T2 1:10

onto T2 and off to the run in 1:10. would have been faster, but the person next to me racked his bike backwards, so had to squeeze between handle bars.  still some issues on the brick to work through. leg fatigue, shin splits that begin on the top of my foot to the top of my shin. they subsided around mile 2.5, but tough to focus on staying strong while there is burning in those areas. it felt like my feet were banging onto the ground instead of flowing through strides.  i shot a gel at mile 1 as advised.  felt good by mile 3, good energy considering .  i had some issues with my mind wandering on the course during some of the quiet, less populated areas of the course. that was tough.  a slight twinge of a cramp began on the bottom of my left quad just above my knee. another area i sam struggling with, and have struggled with on every brick is feet going numb. at about mile 3, my feet go numb. they have on all bricks.  they go numb from the balls of my feet into my toes. it lasts for about 2 miles and when it subsides, my toes feel alot of pain.  between the shin splints, fatigue, and numb feet - there were alot of stop breaks on the run.  overall, much better that St. Anthony's. no bonking! goal -  to complete the entire brick with no breaks, under 8 min miles with less leg fatigue. 
rank 11 Run 54:29 rate 8:48 total 2:52:50

#131 Christina Ahumada 34 Atlanta GA  - rank 7 swim 28:30 2.0 T1 2:25 rank 13 Bike 1:26:18 mph 17.4 T2 1:10 rank 11 Run 54:29 rate 8:48 total 2:52:50

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

St. Anthony's National Qualifier

so, I discussed the challenges that was presented to me during my run at St. A's., but i did not discuss that fact that i missed the national qualifying spot by one placement. it was not until today that i had the heart to check to see what the time difference was between myself, and the one who took the last qualifying spot. it was 33 seconds; 33 seconds!
here are the breakdowns:

bib number: 887 (ME)

age: 34

gender: F

location: Smyrna, GA

overall place: 1381 out of 3198

division place: 45 out of 132

gender place: 309 out of 746

time: 2:57:32

pace: 0:

swim: 31:39

t1: 2:59

bike: 1:25:42

t2: 2:01

run: 55:12

pace: 8:55

penalty: 0:

The competitor!

bib number: 1006







St. Petersburg, FL

overall place:

1365 out of 3198

division place:

44 out of 132

gender place:

303 out of 746


















Saturday, May 1, 2010

St. Anthony's Race Report 4/25/10

Times change, training has its good days and bad, weather can become monstrous and numbing – but the TNT family never changes. Always positive, encouraging, smiling and motivating. There is a lot to be said for steadfast consistency, particularly when training for an extreme sport such as triathlon. What was the disclaimer on the race pickup form – you are taking your life into your hands by pushing your body to extreme limits….Huh. Is that what we are doing?

The season presented some challenges. My season seemed to be chalk full of injuries which aided in some of the seasons bumps, but with the help of my husband, and therapy (physical, but mental may have helped further) – I was able to work through, ITBS, tendinitis, strains, pulls right up until a week before race (that is when the mental therapy would have helped)– whatever. Traveling for work proved some difficulties this season disparaging me from finding consistency in my training, but when I trained – I did my best to keep that consistent. Thanks Coach King for the spinnervals! We all experienced the weather, the chilling 20 degree rides through sleet, snow, hail, windstorm, sandstorms - - you name it. Seeing my mentees and triathletes in training was inspiring as I was that triathlete in training just one year ago. I remember the elatedness, the joy, and sense of pride that it brings you to commit to do something, something for yourself and something even grander – for others. You commit, you stay committed, and you succeed and accomplish your goals. There are too few who follow that process, and for those who do, you understand the amazing sense of accomplishments it brings with it. You should all be unbelievably proud of yourself. Team in Training proves that when we work together, we CAN make a difference. That is a strong life lesson that we can succeed, but as a group, we are that much stronger. GO TEAM!

I was told the Pasta Dinner would be awe-inspiring; and it was. All the pictures in the screen, the pictures of the people we are making a difference for was beyond words. Seeing a friend, and team- mate speak regarding his battle with cancer was breathtaking. Mike, you are the inspiration. Your face is on my transition bag!

My race morning felt great. I slept like a baby the night before. 4:00 came, and I was up and at ‘em. My husband on the other hand was not. Down to the lobby to meet all my elated and nervous team mates. I was so excited to see them accomplish their goals. Set up transition, and the time came to fill my tires with air. Front tire complete, now for the back. Done, except the air pump took my stem with it. Lovely. I was determined to just take care of it, and hope I don’t mess up the rear tire. I had to make the decision to say “this will not ruin your nerves, or race – and it is not a sign, either”. Thank goodness for Jeff Lyon who said, to go use the bike techs, that is what they are there for. DUH, Christina – use them!!! Thanks to those bike techs who took away all my stress of my unplanned mild catastrophe.

Saw most of the team departing transition as I was having my bike worked on, I headed back to the hotel for some oatmeal, and relax (did not happen). I got back, and proceeded to stand anxiously while my husband was getting ready. I wanted to get to swim start to warm up really, really badly  and I just could not understand why he needed to put his contacts in. Funny the way your mind works before a race (and that we all still have spouses)

Got to the swim start, and there was a stream of people walking over at the same time. It looked like what could be a stream of little ants on their way to the picnic. It was a gorgeous morning, the cloud formations were spectacular and seeing the boats in the harbor on the right as we were walking over gave me a sense of calm back to my childhood when we used to sail. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be walking past a harbor of boats to jump into the ocean and swim for a mile (then bike and run) instead of getting on a boat to go sailing instead.

I arrived at the swim start at roughly 6:45 am, and got to have a great amount of time to swim. I ran into Adam standing at the shoreline observing and seemingly taking it all in. This is an unnerving time to say the least. We got into the water, and then appeared my partner in swim waves – Raquel. We swam together for a bit, and said – hey – the water is not so bad over here. It was much worse yesterday. Little did we know! All of a sudden, we heard the race director call for the yellow caps. We pretty much looked at each other - Holy @%#$# that is us! We booked over to the corral and got lined up. The corral in front of us was the red capped males. Mike Stashak was right there, ready to take off. (You did great, Mike!)

Raquel and I were front and center on the line to avoid being trampled. We were raring to go! We hugged, wished each other luck and were off.

Washing and swirling through the turbulence the buoys kept passing. There was really no time to think – just swim! On the first turn, my left breath was face-first on the yellow buoy. Current was to the right of me. Turn left – current behind me. This was a wonderful time riding the waves, up and down. Take a breath, {or not} – quick breathe to the other side wall of water in the way. Wave comes again, on top of the swimmers, ooops, sorry. Sighting was from the hips, not the neck on this swim, and even that was not adequate. Fortunately, the part of the swim wave I was in stayed together, and I was able to seemingly draft (or be pushed by the current). There was a real survivor of the fittest mentality out there. It was a twisted fun experience with the waves. Final turn at the 3rd buoy. Stay tight, the current will be coming at you at the left and boom – just on the turn I was hit by a huge wave and got completely knocked off course far right. I saw the Gatorade bottle at the finish to my sharp left and knew I had to fight a hard, diagonal swim against the current and waves to the finish. I was actually swimming horizontal to the wall upon approach to the stairs instead of straight on. Can’t imagine how long my actual swim distance was.

Got to the stairs, and hands reached out to me. Little did they know they would need to brace themselves because as I brought my feet to the steps and attempted to stand, my legs were like jello and I went sideways right down back into the water. Up I went and booked to transition. For those of you who did not know, I took over 10 minutes total in my Tugaloo transition, so I was determined to not do that again. I was off, in 2 minutes. Yes! So excited, I almost mounted my bike prematurely – thanks Coach Mark for yelling from the crowd! Began cycling, and felt the jello legs again. I suppose the sprint into T1 and out did not seem efficient at this point. It would have been nice to get a breather. Oh well. Off I went and felt good, rounded the first turn and boom – (I thought this was a flat course) I got hit with a crazy headwind that knocked my speed dramatically, to what felt like a slow grinding climb.

At the 10 minute mark from T1 I took ½ of a gel and continued on. With the speed I was going, I did not see how my goal time was going to be accomplished but continued on. At mile 10, I felt strong again. Winds subsided slightly, and my legs felt well warmed up; I kept saying, I cannot wait for the run – that is my favorite part. I love running! Another ½ of my gel, 20 minutes later and one in my pocket for later to prepare for the run (but as you will read, it was never used).

Mile 20 and finally the wind was in my favor, grind, grind. Time to make up some time. Got to T2 and nearly went front first off my bike because I came to the dismount line too fast and had to come to a screeching hault. Dismounted, ran into T2, and off. Something went wrong. I ran out of T2, and there was a feeling in me that I had not felt before, not in all the training bricks I had done the past year. I felt spent, and my legs HURT like never before on a brick. Usually, my mind can work me through this, especially with everyone’s adrenaline pumping around me, and seeing my age groupers running past me; but this was different. I could not figure out what was going on. I heard someone sarcastic from the crowd yell – not much further, only 6.2 miles to go. Man, if I saw him at that point I would have found him after the race. I kept going, but stopped at least 10 times on the run. I passed the mile marker, and kept thinking, wow – it is a long time between markers; maybe they are marking every 2. I asked a girl running next to me, and she said we were at mile 1.8. That is a great sign that at 1.8 you feel like you have gone a whole lot farther. I would run, and my body would stop; I did not tell it to, or will it to, but it stopped. I kept wishing I saw some of my teams faces out there. I needed some inspiration. Finally I began seeing my friends and teammates one by one in line, Raquel, Carmen, Ryan, Craig, Andy, Natalie, Nanci – that gave me energy until I did not see anyone else familiar coming and it continued to be a rough haul for me.

I finally made it through, and someone shouts from the crowd – the finish is just around the corner. I really was hoping it was. But their ‘right around the corner’ was really 1.5 miles out. I had an age grouper right with me on the run. When I ran, I would stay far in front of her, but then my body would stop, and she would pass me. Normally, I would try not to allow this to happen I could not believe I was allowing an age-grouper pass!

I approached the finish line, and was done. Pictures were taken (I saw them on the St. A’s website) but I have no memory of them. I remembered wandering aimlessly. Found the TNT tent, got a Gatorade with brought some clarity back into my mind and got a rub down at the massage tent. After assessing my race the next day in an 8 hour car ride, to see what went wrong, I realized I did not take in any calories after mile 10 on the bike. Nothing. Just electrolytes, so I got to experience firsthand what felt like to ‘hit the wall’. Lesson learned. The sad part, I was not even able to realize what was wrong while on the run, and I had a gel in my back pocket the entire run. Each race is different, and you learn a lot each time! We’re always learning – that is why we need to keep racing!!!

The best part of the race, and what got my adrenaline pumping – seeing my teammates accomplish their goals. Each one of them. Each leaving T2 strong, with a spring in their step, and approaching the finish line in the same fashion. Each with their own, amazing reason for doing it. Each bringing a tear to my eye with the accomplishment and pride I saw on my team mates faces! You all rock, and should be very proud of yourself. It was unbelievably inspirational seeing you all begin the season with a different sense of challenges, and complete the race conquering your individual fears. Not only that, but we raised $180,000, and $1.8 million nationwide for this race. You set goals, made a plan, and accomplished them. Pat yourselves on your back! I will say it again because I cannot hear it or say it enough, GO TEAM!