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Posts Tagged ‘first triathlon’

No my post is not related to that, although I may have a post on that later…

I was thinking about how I felt after my duathlon compared to how I felt after my triathlon. At first I thought my lack of endorphins, and sense of accomplishment, excitement, pride, etc. was because I didn’t have the cheering squad at my duathlon that I had at my tri.

But I don’t think that’s it.

I think that the work I put into training for my triathlon – almost 15 weeks of training – is what made me feel on top of the world when I crossed the finish line. All the morning swims, the uncomfortable first outdoor bike rides, the fears, etc. were more than worth it. Because when I crossed that finish line all of my hard work came to life. I knew I had trained and did just about the best I could and it felt like the most amazing feeling in the world. The endorphins lasted days.

At my duathlon, I felt content that I finished, that I went and actually did it  all by myself. But the pride from hard work wasn’t there. I think even if my time had been absolutely amazing, the sense of accomplishment and pride wouldn’t have been the same as if I had put true training in and then got the same time.

I think this duathlon was the exact spark of motivation I need. Now Boston, bring me the nice weather so I can start training! 🙂

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The last two weeks I haven’t been myself. My posts are full of frustration, anger, and irritability.

In 20 days I’ll be 26. I’ve never cared about my age before. If anything I always feel like each year gets better.  But this year to be honest, it’s a little scary.

In 14 days B and I will have been broken up for one year. I’ve let myself “heal” for 1 full year. But something about getting to that 1 year mark without having so much as kissed another guy is getting to me. I’m scared to hit that 1 year milestone.

And so something is nagging me this morning. It’s time to make some changes.

The first few months after the breakup and my 25th birthday I let myself wallow.  And I spent copious amounts of time with friends and family to distract myself. Then I pushed myself to move on – by going on vacations, working to get promoted at work, doing a triathlon, and even trying online dating and going out with 4 different guys. 

Now though I feel like I’m getting really comfortable with my life. I’m sure most people think, but comfortable is a good thing. But is it?

I hate feeling uncomfortable, but I find that’s when the best results occur. I hated getting ready and going out on dates, but after those dates I realize that I still had it, that guys were still attracted and interested in me.

I hate trying new things and I was anxious the first day of boxing. But look where I am now, I LOVE boxing.

I hated being terrified at moments to actually do my first triathlon, and yet it still is one of my favorite, all-time most positive moments of my life.

I need to branch out. I need to push myself to be a little more uncomfortable. Yes, I like that lately I can come home and no one plays a role in what I am doing. But I don’t want to be alone forever.

And I don’t want to just feel comfortable forever. It gets boring. It starts to make me feel a little empty.

So I guess today I’m thinking about what I can do to start pushing myself. To feel happier every day but to ultimately feel happy overall.

I’d like to start my 26th year (my golden 26 on the 26th) in a positive place. And I’d like to make the most of that year.  No more excuses and no more being afraid.

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Looking back I didn’t accomplish as many of these as I thought I would. But it definitely makes me re-think what types of goals I want for the next few months. I want things to challenge myself but at the same time I want things I enjoy!

1. Read 3 books
I read The Scent of Lightning and Rain which turned out to be a fun and addicting read. I then read 2/3rds of the 19th Wife, Cutting for Stone, In the Defense of Food, and so on. I never had a problem finishing books before but I think this summer must have just left me a little crazier than I thought.

2. Buy a back up hard drive and save my crap
Okay even though I don’t want to do this one, I still really need to

3. Adopt a soldier

4. Try to have conversations with my new gym crush, “Georgia” 
I never saw him again after that time, boo!

5. Go on a date
I didn’t go on a date. I had the opportunity to go on a date tonight and the thing was… I wasn’t feeling it. I’m at a point where I am more than open to meeting someone but I just don’t want to give up my time unless it’s someone who I actually feel something anything with.

6. Make a new friend
I think I made some awesome new blog friends 🙂  It’s surprising how much you can learn about someone from reading their posts and how much you can learn from someone reading and commenting on your own posts.

7. Create an excel budget
Haha an excel budget? Nope. I did however spend a ridiculous amount on travel, weddings, friend events (dinners out, birthdays, etc), vacation and all my tri equipment. I do think this fall will help me get my act together but sometime soon I’d like a place with more space!

8. Go to a drop-in dance class with my younger sister
Yup, and I wrote about it here

9. Go to a BODYPUMP
I did not go to body pump. Whoops. However, I am not signed up for boxing!

10.Do a triathlon!
Had an amazing time doing my triathlon

So tonight I’m thinking about what types of goals I want this Fall. I’d like a mixture of things that push me outside my comfort zone as well as things that are fun and exciting. I’m really looking forward to this Fall, I think it’s going to be a really great few months.

I’m also looking forward to the Fall weather. It’s 95 and humid in Boston still and I can’t take it anymore!

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A few more after thoughts about my first triathlon:

  • The people – the spectators, the volunteers and the participants were the nicest, most encouraging people. The experience was so positive because of them.

For example, one woman who I played leap-frog with during the bike high-fived me as her “bike pace girl” during the run. At the very end she came running over and gave me a big hug.

While I was walking at one point during the run a girl came by and said, just think “blueberry pancakes – you can do this!” (we got free blueberry pancakes at the end).

  • You make it what you want it to be. I can see why some people may not want to do triathlons. If you let yourself stress out about the “what ifs” or go in with a negative attitude – that’s what you’re going to get.

My friend who was also doing the tri happened to be like this. I struggled to block out some of her negativity because I really wanted to focus on my experience being positive. The day before she was questioning wearing socks to save time during transitions. (For a tri newbie saving 20 seconds versus saving your feet during the bike and run seems like an easy pick.)

She admitted to having a total defeatist attitude by the beginning of the bike ride. And her first thoughts at the end were complaints about everything that went wrong. That just wasn’t what I wanted it to be about.

Although I will admit one little poke to my endorphin happiest mood ever, I found out last night that you’re not really supposed to do the backstroke during your swim (out of respect?)  It made me feel a little shitty because I’d never heard that before but all I can do now is practice enough so I won’t have to backstroke next time around!

  • If you want support from people you know, make sure to let them know it would mean a lot to you to have them there. I knew I wanted family and friends to be there so I made sure to mention it months in advance, and of course knew if some couldn’t make it that was understandable. Yesterday afternoon I went and got snail mail thank you cards and printed out pictures to send to all my family and friends who came. It truly wouldn’t have been the same without them.

In the end, I mean it when I say, my first Tri was one of the most positive experiences of my life.

~~~~~

So this morning I was reading Tina’s blog (I’m an avid follower, though not much of a commenter) and somehow I ended up on this post: Life’s To Do List

In her words, “When I graduated college and moved to Boston, I had a really tough time. I didn’t have a full-time job, I gained 20+ pounds, and my boyfriend of 1.5 years broke up with me. Obviously, I was not a happy camper.

I felt so lost during this time. In college (and even high school), I always had a plan and direction, which kept me on track with achieving my goals. This was the first time ever that I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.”

She goes on to mention how she is goal-oriented/not a complainer etc and came up with a “Life’s to do list” to help herself get out of the funk. Reading about that really struck a chord.

I have been in such an on and off funk for a while. But I’m at this amazing point where I can create myself and my life into anything I want right now. Since I’m single I really can make decisions that don’t have to involve anyone but me. Sometimes that’s scary but ya know what? Sometimes it’s really exciting. Something about crossing that tri finish line made me start thinking. I have been single since the day I turned 25 and I have accomplished so many things. I have about 3 months left in my 25th year so what else do I want to do?! 🙂

So today I:

  • Signed up for a small group training boxing class with a “pro” boxer once a week night at my gym. It starts mid-September and runs through early November. It allows for only 7 others in the class meaning a tough workout, I can’t miss it and maybe even meeting some new gym friends. I’m really excited to try something new and start strength training!
  • I also signed up for a night photography class at New England School of Photography. Once a week for 8 weeks starting mid-September I’ll learn the basics of using my SLR camera. (I mean, I need an SLR first haha.) I’ve been wanting to take a photography class since before college and never could. Now my more “open” fall schedule is perfect. I can’t wait to be able to post pictures on here that aren’t dark and fuzzy!
  • I also revisited “My Summer to do list“.
    So yeah, I did not accomplish everything on my summer to do list, BUT, I’m proud of what I did do. And it makes me rethink what types of goals I want on there. I’d like to write another post tomorrow really revisiting these (I mean, I need to see how many of them I can fit into tonight ;)) and spend some time thinking of a few fall goals.

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Here is a recap of many of my thoughts, feelings, and overall emotional experience during my first ever triathlon.

First things first, my results:

 Sorry it’s a bit fuzzy. My swim time is 11:16, my bike is 58:39 and my 5k is 33:27 (<–that killed me).

I am not disappointed in my results. For one, I honestly went in with no expectations of what my results would be. I knew no matter what I’d leave thinking I could have done better so instead of caring about that, I wanted to go in with the mentality that it’s my first triathlon and I might make mistakes but I need to have fun.

Pre-Race/Transition set-up:
The morning of the race my friend and I woke up at 5:30am. I had a fitful sleep due to nerves. I woke up and sorry for the TMI here but immediately had stomach issues. After dealing with that we were in my car and heading to the bike drop-off by 5:50am. (I made sure to pack up everything I could the night before so I just had to get up, put on clothing, brush my teeth and put my contacts in.) I knew after dropping our bikes off and parking we’d have a significant amount of time with setting up our transition areas and getting marked to be able to eat and drink.

We dropped our bikes off at a drop off area and thinking that we’d need to park far away and grab the shuttle we were racing around. Turns out we were able to snag parking down the street from the tri area. Score! We headed back and grabbed our bikes to set up the transition areas.

I’m not going to lie, I kept looking around to see what other people were doing. I wasn’t sure if my bike had to be in a very specific spot (there was a metal long rack for about 6 numbers and I realized after looking around you can put your bike anywhere on that section). So I put my bike on the rack, pulled out my hand towel and set that down to the right of my bike. On top of that I put my helmet with my sunglasses in it, my sneakers with socks in them, an open powerbar, an open pack of Cliff block shots, an open pack of tissues, and another hand towel for wiping my feet. I also put my shirt (with my race number pinned on on my bike seat). I didn’t want to put too much on my actual bike for fear it’d get knocked off with people running in and out of the area. It only took me about 3 minutes to set up the area so I continued to look around wondering why people were spending 15 minutes organizing stuff. I noticed one woman with a gallon of water by her bike (a gallon?!) and another with an entire duffel bag taking off a ridiculous amount of space.

I left the transition area and got marked (this made me feel official!) and grabbed my ankle chip. The ankle chip was this little velcro ankle band that I feared losing the whole race.

We then headed to the beach where they did some announcements. At this point I was a tad worried about my car keys. I realized that my family/friends might not be there early enough to grab them so I needed to get them back into the transition area before the Olympic folks got started. As I was racing into the transition area I heard people screaming. Behind the spectator section of my bike rack was My Mom, my younger sister and my aunt & uncle. I can’t tell you how nice it felt to see people I knew and to feel supported before the race started. I started to tear up as I saw them and tossed them my keys. I then ran around the outside area and gave them quick hugs.

I went back to the beach and ate an Arnold’s sandwich thin with barney crunch almond butter and a medium-sized organic banana. I was also downing water because I knew the swim would dehydrate me (as did my stomach issues earlier in the morning).

And then the Olympic swimmers were off. 250 at once, what a sight! I was in wave 5 of the Sprint racers so I was in the final wave group. Everything was going as planned on time so not too long after 8am (about 3 minutes between each wave) my wave group got ready to go into the water.

My final thoughts? Have fun. I’m not kidding. I truly let myself try to relax and thought it doesn’t matter how you do, just focus on the fact that you’re doing it and have fun.

The Swim:

This was an ocean swim. And not just any ocean, it was cold and really choppy. I wasn’t expecting this since my open water swims in the lakes have little to no waves. We actually had to run into the water, swim out to the first buoy, go around it, swim parallel to the beach to go around that buoy, back into the sand, run up the sand and stairs into our transition areas.

Nothing can prepare you for how the first few seconds of the swim feel. I felt like I was drowning. People were hitting into me (although very graciously as they did say sorry). People were swimming over me which really did pull me under. There was just this giant clump of us clambering into each other as waves crashed into our faces. I couldn’t swim my normal stroke because between the waves and the people when I tried to get my head up I choked on water. When I got to the first buoy I thought, holy shit I’m really tired and I’m not moving fast.

I panicked a little. I still had a good portion of the swim left and when I tried to freestyle I was hardly moving. Then I saw a girl who was doing the backstroke. Genius! I turned over and did the backstroke. Now I’m sure there are many reasons for not doing the backstroke but I’ll tell you – I was moving twice as fast as when I was doing freestyle and I was keeping up with other swimmers who were swimming freestyle. Plus I felt relaxed as I was getting ample air and easily floating. I tried a couple of times to flip back over and swim normally but that just wasn’t working. I ended up doing the backstroke for at least 2/3rds of the swim! Once I got close enough to shore I actually rode a wave in! I ended up riding it on top of another woman and felt really bad but I said I was sorry and kept moving. Ooops.

Once on the sand I felt a tiny bit disoriented. I easily pulled my wetsuit partially down (I just had a sports bra on and the wick dance shorts I was going to wear for the race). I took off my swim cap and goggles and started moving up the beach. I wanted to run but I felt a little drained and did somewhat of a jog walk.

As I approached the stairs area I saw a familiar face scanning the crowd. As I got to the stairs he looked down for a split second and that’s when I called his name. “Benny!” And he looked up. I gave him a big smile and he gave me a big cheer and I ran towards my transition area. It was a nice feeling to see him there.

As I neared my transition area I saw my friend S in her bike area (who was also doing the race) and already had her shirt on. She is a much stronger swimmer and was about to leave for the bike ride. My family was cheering which felt amazing. I quickly ripped off my wetsuit, dried my feet, blew my nose, put on my socks and sneakers, my shirt and then my sunglasses and snapped my helmet. I looked around for a second like, wait am I forgetting something? No ok keep going! I grabbed my bike and two cliff shot blocks (I originally planned on eating the power bar but  I wasn’t hungry and was told if I force something down it’d come back up). And I ran my bike out to the bike mount area.

The Bike:

The bike ride was actually the part I was most nervous about. It turned out the course wasn’t the course I tried to practice the weekend before. It was full of sharp turns and a few downhill turns. Most bikers probably love downhills but I tend to brake a  lot on them. I prefer uphill or flats when I can just push without fear of flying off.

I got to the mounting area and it took me a second to get on and get my feet into the cages. Once I was in and off I realized, I did it, I finished part one!

The first few minutes of the bike leg were a bit difficult as there were quite  a few of us and I was nervous about passing and when to pass. After the first mile I realized my stride and was able to pass a couple of bikers! I was also getting passed but most people smartly yelled out they were passing and I tried to get over right as much as possible to make it easier for them. I eventually came upon my friend S and gave her a cheer as I passed her.

I biked a fast pace but to be honest I know I could have pushed harder. The one bad part about not really knowing the course was that they didn’t put up any mile markers. I  had no idea how far I’d gone or how much I had left. I was too nervous to push too hard because I didn’t want to get too tired or not be able to do the run.

I ended up really enjoying the bike ride. At parts I wasn’t that close to other bikers, it was beautiful, calm and just fun. At points I honestly forgot I was racing and it just felt like I was riding my bike through Maine. I started to grow a serious appreciation for my bike at this point. I was comfortable, at ease, and just so thankful I had a great bike for the experience. I was able to take 3 long drinks out of my water bottle too!

As I got to the final intersection I heard an enormous cheer. There stood my two best friends from childhood and my 3 of my Boston girlfriends (and one husband). There were SO loud and I immediately started laughing as I rode by.

I got down to the end of the bike ride and honestly thought to myself, whoa that went by quickly! I tried to lower the gears to let my legs loosen up. I had to dismount my bike before the transition area and my legs felt wobbly! I jogged my bike to my rack (I probably jogged zig zags) and put my bike back. Because I already had my socks and sneakers on all I had to do was take my helmet and sunglasses off. I felt like I was forgetting something so I grabbed two more cliff shot blocks and squirted water in my mouth and on my face. (Mistake: I squirted myself in the eye – ouch.) So I shoveled the shot blocks in (gag) and then started to jog out to the cheers of my family and Benny who stood a little further down from them.

The Run:

This turned out to be the hardest part of all. I had to pee so so badly. I thought it wouldn’t matter and I could make it through but after jogging the initial minute I really started to wonder what I was going to do. I took a walking break for a little (in truth I know I could have pushed and run this and here is where I think I should have let my competitive side take over instead of letting myself walk so much).

I started to jog again once we had to pass a spectator section and that’s where I saw the bachelor. He cheered for me, asked how I was feeling and told me to “go, go, go!” I jogged over the hill and then walked again. This is where I started to think, I might have to pee myself. I saw my large friend group in the distance so I knew I had to jog again. I continued to jog past them where they screamed and shouted and I thought, omg I’m tired and I have so much more to go.

The rest of the run was a bit of a blur. Honestly, I’d say I walked half of it. I’m not exaggerating when I say that. A number of people were so encouraging and came by and said really nice supportive things to get my going. Twice when I started to run again I started to pee. (Sorry TMI, but it’s something I’ll have to plan for next time!)

Again, there were NO mile makers and while the volunteers were the most amazingly/supportive people they didn’t know how much longer either! Once I hit the beach street though I knew there wasn’t long to go and that I had to keep jogging.

Then I saw it, the blue fences into the finish line. I started running hard. This is where I passed about 6 people jogging into the finish. (I think this is when I realized how much more I had to give but wasn’t giving in the run.) I finished with everyone I love screaming and cheering and a huge smile on my face. (A volunteer approached me much later and said he thought it was wonderful I crossed the finish line with such a big smile on my face.)

The Finish:

I couldn’t believe it when I was done. It felt surreal. I didn’t feel that tired. I felt like I normally do at the end of the spin class. I grabbed a Gatorade and an ice pop and my younger sister came running over. I immediately gave her a big sweaty hug. Then I saw Benny standing on a hill again scanning for me. I walked up to him and gave him a big hug. (I haven’t seen him since camping.) I figured he’d then want to bail but he asked to come say hi to everyone. We walked over and I gave hugs to all my family and friends, took many pictures (which I’ll have to get) and I recapped so many of my thoughts and feelings.

In some ways it felt strange to have so many people standing around wanting to talk just to me. I felt a little thrown off being the center of attention and struggled to make sure everyone knew how much it meant to have them there.  Because it really, really meant so much to me to have such a supportive group standing there at the end. I cried. Haha.

Final thoughts:

I think this will have to be another post since this was turned out so long! But the strange part? I’m not really sore today. My neck is sore (I don’t really know why? Tension?) but the rest of me doesn’t feel bad at all!

One thing is for sure… when can I do my next tri?!

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A crazy mix of feelings are hitting me right now.

One minute I am nervous. I want to throw up, I think I’m nuts, I’m scared of every possible thing going wrong (ya know the little things like drowning or crashing on my bike). I’m comparing stats of the 25-29 year olds last year and thinking, I’m going to place last.

But then a bigger better feeling comes over me. I’m doing a triathlon in two days. I’M DOING A TRIATHLON. I don’t give a shit about my time. That’s the best part I really don’t.

 

image source

I want to find my rhythm, I want to smile and laugh my way through the awkward transitions, and I most of all I to have fun and savor this experience. Never have I jumped out my comfort zone the way I have the past few months. Never have I challenged myself the way I have the past few months. And never have I believed in myself the way I have had to these past few months.

At the end of the race yes I want to feel like I did my best but really, I want to focus on the fact that I did a friggan triathlon. And my Mom, younger sister, Aunt & Uncle, two childhood best friends from NY, B, three best friends and a husband from Boston are all trekking hours up to Maine to cheer me on. And, eHarmony #3  (the bachelor) who in essence turned out to be a great guy, plans on coming to offer additional support too.

I feel excited. I feel supported. I feel like I’m ready to participate in this triathlon. 🙂

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So I have two big things for today’s post; my hip hop dance class last night and my first open-water swim this morning. Sorry if that makes for a jumbled post.

First, and checking it off my Summer To Do List, last night I took a drop-in adult hip hop class with my little (not so little now that she is 21) sister. Let me be honest about this experience. My parents were amazing at boosting my confidence as a kid – they always told me I could do anything, I was beautiful, I was the best, etc . I think they may have lied and did me a disservice when they boosted my confidence about dancing.

Honestly, in my head I really believed I had rhythm, so much so that I have told myself with a little training I could totally do some of the choreography on So You Think You Can Dance. […Sometimes I rewind the dances and try to do them in front of my closet mirrors, shhh]

But yeah, turns out, I’m not a very good dancer. I got sooo stuck on trying to remember the choreography that at parts I wasn’t dancing! The hour and 15 minute class flew by though. We started with stretching, isolations, learning some basic breaker moves, attempting to glide, and then putting together a choreography. Needless to say I was the worst of the bunch. Towards the end though, the two amazingly talented asian hip-hop instructors reminded me that hip hop is about attitude and having fun so just go with it.

I also realized something as I was looking into the mirror and dancing. I look like an athlete. My upper body is becoming more toned than ever before, I look lean, strong and my posture is solid. It felt really good to see the difference.

But, I think I’ll stick with Zumba or salsa classes. I’m so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and gave it a try. Plus my sister (who used to dance competitively) loved it and now found a new activity that she can take weekly!

Onto this morning….

I woke up at 5:30am to drive out to Mystic Lake in Winchester, MA and meet the director at my friend’s gym. He is a certified pro triathlete, just competed in Lake Placid and was going to join me for my first open-water swim. We got into our wetsuits, swim caps and goggles and waddled right in. There was a buoy about ¼ mile out that he said we’d start by swimming there, breaking, and then back and discussing. Easy I thought, I did more than that in the pool on Monday night.

Upper Mystic Lake

I”ll just recap my thoughts as soon as I got into the water.

…This water is dark. I can’t see a thing!

…There are birds everywhere. Gross, I’m swallowing bird shit for breakfast.

…Umm, why am I swimming in zig zags?

…My breathing is getting difficult.
 
…is this wetsuit strangling me?

I can’t do this.

…could I get a disease from this scummy water?

…Omg, he is swimming so fast, I might drown in this murky water and he wouldn’t even notice.

…There aren’t lifeguards. Is this safe?

…starting to panic. panic. PANICKING!

Stopped and treaded water for a second. Told myself to breathe.

…Okay, stop it. STOP IT. You can do this. You’re halfway to the buoy and you’ve done further distances than this in the pool. You got this.

Got the buoy. As soon as I started to tread water I realized, I’m not tired. Physically I was OK, mentally though, I was really psyching myself out. We swam the ¼ mile back and this time I felt a little more of my rhythm but I would go to far without noticing my direction and when I did look up I was going almost sideways!

We got back to the roped off area and he said he would swim back out about 50-75 yards and then watch me swim to him to practice my sighting. I swam, a fast pace (which also seemed to regulate my breathing a bit) and quickly realized the faster I go, the more I zig-zag. I was all over the place. He again swam about another 50-75 yards and I practiced again. This time I felt more exhausted by the time I reached him. Then we swam the whole distance back and I tried to stay behind him and follow his feet/arms but again I found when I remembered to sight I’d be going in the wrong direction! He told me I really needed to practice sighting or I’d swim double what I need to.

All in all, thank God I got this open-water swim in. And even if I panicked a bit, even if I still feel nervous, I did it! Now I have a little less than 4 weeks (4 weeks yesterday, ahhh!) which gives me time to do a few more open-water swims. It is a gazillion times different from a pool. It’s completely dark, murky, anxiety provoking, and clearly easy to panic. It also makes me want to spend time on speed in the pool because the panic caused me to go faster and I don’t want to get really tired mid-swim. Especially when getting kicked in the face by other swimmers. 😉

If I could give one word of advice to anyone doing their first triathlon – get some open-water swims in!

All in all my thoughts after this week are to try new things, give it all you’ve got, and have fun with it. Sometimes it won’t be what you expected, but sometimes it’ll be even better.

And you know what has been really great? I’ve been really happy this week. I still miss B of course, maybe part of me always will, but we have traded a few very random texts and honestly, I feel more than OK. My happiness right now is mine, and not dependent on anyone including him. It’s a really empowering feeling. So I need to keep doing what I’m doing.

Okay, after only 5 ½ hours of sleep and  more than ¾ mile of swim time I’m looking forward to relaxing tonight and getting into bed early.

I’ve got some really awesome weekend plans that I’m excited for and can’t wait to share. Enjoy yours! 🙂

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