KonMari What? It’s Magic!

I year ago I heard some buzz about the #KonMari method of decluttering. Marie Kondo wrote a book called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and I had a few friends that were raving about it. A little before the beginning of the year my friend Andrea brought it up and for some reason (fate…luck) I instantly pulled it up on Amazon and downloaded it to my kindle.

I read the first chapter, was amazed, and then read it to Troy and Annie. They looked at me, and both said “Let’s do it.” Troy does not buy things, he’s a self proclaimed minimalist. I, however am a maximalist, and so is Annie. We like our STUFF, but sometimes we make hasty decisions and accumulate stuff for the sake of it. We don’t have a large house, about 2,000 sq feet, and it’s not packed to the brim or anything, but there was lots of stuff just hanging about.

Also, wherever women go to learn about how to make a house pretty, I missed that lesson. Our home has always been 100% utilitarian, I’m afraid to paint walls, or buy nice things because I always feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, and would rather spend my money on yet another airplane ticket somewhere fun. I’m not good with color, or fengshui or knowing what furniture goes where.  Not my thing. But I do wish for joy, comfort, and tidiness. Clean tabletops, and things put away make me feel grounded.

Marie has you declutter your entire house in one fell swoop, as quickly as possible. You are not allowed to “put things away” until all the decluttering is complete. And there are a few simple rules. One, you declutter by category, not by room, and there is an order: clothes, books, papers, kimono (which has a ton of sub lists) and mementos. She suggests you declutter as quickly as possible and says it takes most families about 6 months (Yea….it took us three and a half weeks…not really surprising if you know me).

There is one rule you have for deciding whether to keep or toss and it’s to hold the item and ask “Does this item spark joy?” Now I know that your brain is coming up with all the “but what about taxes”…yes, you keep taxes, but the other 99.9% of stuff is subject to the joy constraint. When you decide to get rid of something you thank it for it’s service and send it along to its next life journey. The thanking part is really important, if you neglect this step you will feel hollow and empty at the end of the process.

After you finish decluttering your entire house, you find a home for each and every object, and you treat your objects like they have feelings. So you don’t put objects on top of each other (because the bottom ones would get squished and feel sad), you ask clothes if they prefer to be hung or folded, and you keep like things with their friends. Shoes with shoes, scissors with scissors, sheets with sheets. 

So, as a family, we dove in! We don’t currently own a kitchen table so we cleaned out the kitchen area and used the floor as our collecting area. First clothes. That was fun, we were trying on things and asking the joy question. We got through those and felt a deep sigh. The clothes we actually put away via the KonMari method of folding (it’s a thing…and it’s amazing…google it). I took 16 bags to the goodwill of clothes and shoes. Our closets felt really spacious and we were smiling when we got dressed.

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The after is quite amazing!! A full dresser with everything folded and upright!

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Then it was on to books. We had books in every single room in the house. They were everywhere and there were a ton of them! Annie and I both went through the joy test pretty quickly and I ended up with I think 17 books and Annie about 25. Troy was another story. We had to read the chapter on books to Troy 3 times…outloud. At first they all brought joy to Troy, but then, when he really really looked at why he was hanging onto them, it was something else that he needed to face. He went from about 400 to 84 really joy inducing books. And now when I see him walk by his books, he smiles.

Bye Bye books! They filled up our entire car (before she went to car heaven)…

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The purpose in life of a book is to be read. So if you read it and then put it on a shelf for the rest of it’s life, you essentially put it in prison, it can’t live it’s purpose ever again, sad book. It wants to be read, so we had to send most of them along on their life path, so they at least had a chance of being read again and fulfilling their purpose. It felt good to give them another chance at life!

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We donated them to the library, and when I went to throw away an empty cup from our car in the library recycle dumpster do you know what it was filled with? BOOKS! I never thought about the fact that the library gets so many book donations that they throw away dumpsters full of books. I tried to put that out of my brain when we drove away. Bye Books, good luck!

Troys books now, in the happy hallway!

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After books is the category: PAPERS. It was impressive. We pulled every single piece of paper from the house and put it in the kitchen. It filled up the entire floor, boxes and boxes and bins and bins. And one by one, we went through every piece of it and asked the joy question, then asked the “required to keep” question. This was the most liberating step because really, there were only 2 pieces of paper in all of the papers that brought joy, our wedding certificate and Annie’s birth certificate. TWO! We now have one small box of papers that had to be kept, and we each have one small box for work. We also weren’t afraid to take photos of papers and store them in ibooks on our ipad. Things like hand written recipes and school calendars, but crazy enough there are only 32 papers that we felt needed photos on the iPad. Not many.

These are now all the papers in the house except a small box in each of our offices. Ahhh, it makes me so happy.

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After those three categories are done you breathe this huge sigh, because you are getting the hang of things and your joy meter is getting honed (warning: if you are in a place of depression, Ie: having a tough time finding joy, you are going to throw out a lot of stuff, so be careful)

By this point we are in hook, line, and sinker! Next up is Kimono which there is some fancy definition but to me meant “all the other categories except the special stuff.” We tackled category by category: bathroom stuff, linens, toys, games, camping stuff, luggage and travel items, triathlon, and electronics.

This is the bathroom stuff. It’s ridiculous. We have two small bathrooms. Never again!!!

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Then we each worked on our own personal stuff, but not the “special stuff”, that’s saved for last.

By now the neighbors were asking if we were moving because we had a HUGE pile of stuff outside the front porch. Troy kept telling them “My wife read a book!” He totally threw me under the bus. Stinker!

I got on Craigslist and called a man who calls himself “The Junk Guy” and asked if he could come take our stuff away. He said yes, for a price, and asked if he should bring his trailer. We shouted YES! We didn’t have enough stuff to need his trailer, so I looked at Troy and said “We have 5 hours to fill his trailer”

So…we attacked the garage. And by attack, I mean attack. We were thanking things left and right and out it was going. Five hours later, by the time The Junk Guy came we filled his truck, his trailer and still had an entire truckload left over. We had emptied our box of 56 black plastic giant trash bags I had purchased for the task. This was half way through the garage! This pile doubled before The Junk Guy came! Thank you swimming pool, thank you tag-a-long, thank you broken Christmas Tree. Thank you thank you thank you!

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It felt good. The stuff that was left was really stuff that sparked joy and it was a cool process to go through and find all the treasures! Many things brought short term joy but when asked “have you served your purpose?” the answer was yes, so off it went to it’s next life, but only after a deep thank you.

From there it was time for the kitchen. Books to Troy was like kitchen items for me. So much attachment for me, but when I really held the items and asked if they had served their purpose and were ready for their next adventure, most of them said yes. I did have a long conversation with the skillet I make my eggs in every morning. I don’t like it, but if I tossed it I couldn’t make eggs. So I told it that it could stay, and I promptly ordered a new one on Amazon, and crazy enough, that’s the only new thing I bought through this process. When the new one came, the old one went along it’s way, Thank You Skillet!

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Once the kitchen was done we pulled the mementos we had been saving and dealt with them licity-split. I was dreading that part, like Baby Annie clothing, and keepsakes from trips and what not. There were lots of great memories and many things were kept. It was actually a joyful process, and pretty much the exact opposite I thought it would be if we had started with these things. There is a reason you save the special stuff for last.

Photos were all put together into one bin and I still haven’t gone through them. There is a whole KonMari process for photos but I’m not emotionally ready for them, so they are staying in their box for a few more weeks. And yes, they aren’t happy about it.

Now it was time to find a home for everything. We had little piles of JOY all over the house and it was time to put everything in place. The funny part about this was that it took like 2 hours to put our entire house in place, and most of that time was spent repurposing some shelving that had to be removed and put up somewhere else. It was simple really. There was so much space, all the closets were empty, it was easy as cake to designate a category to a closet or a shelf, place what was left in there, and be done with it.

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Annie turned her closet into her reading nook, she loves to hang out there now.

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All in all, to do our entire house, from start to finish in the KonMari method, took us about 3.5 weeks. We were diligent and we worked every night on things and during our lunch hours, sometimes a little in the mornings too. The result is beyond words. For the last couple weeks we have just enjoyed with wonder our house, and the space that has been created. Literally every shirt we pull our of our closet and every cup off the shelf is a smile. There is space and so far, not a single thing is missed. There hasn’t been a single “If I only kept…”

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Our belongings have taken on personalities. The other day Annie came into the living room and said “Mom, your snow boots are sad” and I was like “why?” and she said “they are in the bathroom all alone away from their friends.” I said….”ooh, that is sad” and moved them back with their friends.

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Things that haven’t been put away immediately feel out of place and I feel this duty to them to put them back in their home. My purse gets unpacked every night and all the insides put back away. And you know what, our house is happier. I feel like the light shines a little brighter in it, and my clothes stay a little cleaner, and my food is a little tastier. Who knew?

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I will say, that I would not consider myself a tidy person (duh). For 14 years Troy has had to get used to what he calls “Sonja piles” because I seem to like to make little piles of things all around the house. I didn’t grow up in a tidy house and I always felt that there are more adventurous ways to lead your life than to spend so much time “cleaning.” But now, I don’t clean. Things have a home, and I take them home at the end of the day, and when I see an area collecting some dirt or dust I feel sad for it, and I take care of it, so it’s happy. Dishes get done within a few hours because we only have a few now, not even enough to run a full load in the dishwasher anymore. Everyone has one coffee mug, and one water glass. There are a few spares for guests. That’s it. I have 6 cycling water bottles. 6 is 3 more than my bike fits!

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It sounds silly, but this process has helped me tap into my emotions. I had to hold things and really decide how they made me feel. Lots of generally benign things brought up some heavy emotions based on who gave it to me or when/why I procured it. Some of the things I had been hanging onto because they were worth something went right out the door when I held it and felt it. Like a hot potato. Sometimes I cried! But many other times I laughed and nodded.

If you are looking for a space transformation, I suggest picking up her book and giving it a read. You will know right away whether this is something you are ready for, or not, and I would say, don’t force the issue if you aren’t. Pass the book on to a friend and see if it was meant for them! When I posted on Facebook there were lots of responses from others who were digging her method as well but not a single person said they had completed their whole house, so I just want to note something here. The feeling of completing the project is the best part. Knowing every single item has been handled and sorted, and thanked or recognized for it’s joy brings some pretty serious zen action. So if you have done a few categories and fallen off, I’m urging you to hop back on the train. The ending is divine!

**this was the post I published that flatlined my blog a few weeks back. Troy was able to save the words and I’m just now posting it again.

It’s been a little over a month since we finished this project and I can’t believe what a game changer it has been. Our house has not gotten dirty or junky a single time since. The things that weren’t working really stuck out like a sore thumb. For example, our electronics got stored in this:

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I thought it was pretty organized, each of us had our own shelf, I love this little shelving unit and I love all the electronics in it. But I hated the cords being everywhere. I had an idea, but didn’t know if it would work. A few weeks ago I went for it. I bought a little set of drawers and I drilled holes in the back of all of them and mounted an electrical strip and a USB strip on the back of the set of drawers. Then I fished all the cords into the back of the drawers and now every electronic has a home and gets put to bed at night.


The fact that everyones iPads, iPhones, Computers, headphones, tablets, readers, goPros, you name it have a home and a bed to rest after a hards day work makes me really happy. I’ve also been trying to get electronics out of our bedroom and this project sealed the deal. They get put to bed like Annie does, like we do.


We also bought a kitchen table. It took us 5 hours in the store to make a decision. We sat at every one, many times, and finally decided on one with two benches and counter height. We all love it lots, it’s a major joy sparker.


I would love to hear others experience with KonMari and her books. If anyone has been through the process for some time now, I would like to know if it all sticks? Do things stay this way forever or does the clutter creep back in?

Clutching the Compass

This week I was reminded of a major tenant I have in life which is:

Don’t Clutch the Compass.

Until recently I didn’t have a name for this, but thanks to the eloquent Katie Den Ouden I now have a handy phrase.

I find myself doing this and I see it in my athletes all the time, so I thought I would share.

We all know the value of having a large goal out there in the future, the BHAG! The goal, the destination, the point of arrival, it matters. We all have them whether we say them out loud or not. I’m talking about the: win my age group, qualify for kona, win kona, make partner, land a big client, finish a memoir, make a million dollars, coach 200 athletes, kind of goals. Having that destination gives purpose and motivation to the daily tasks. It’s exciting, and challenging!


Thank you Scrivle for that gem!

But there is a double edge sword here. On one hand, I love watching my athletes set a huge goal like nabbing a PR in a race, or qualifying for the big dance in Kona and then attaining that goal! So sweet! On the other hand I have watched people not hit their goals and get frustrated and down on themselves when they were actually making great progress. Goals are a double edge sword.

The way to ride the edge of the sword when it comes to Big Hairy Audacious Goals is to remember: “Don’t Clutch the Compass.” What this means is that you want to put your goal in your minds eye, and you want to keep the awareness that this is where you want to land.

Then you want to let go of how you are going to get there.

You want to remove dependence on the WAY and PROCESS that you take to get there, I also suggest putting yourself in the hands of a capable coach to craft the program, if it’s athletic!  Every once in awhile you want to dig out the compass and take a bearing and check in to make sure you are still heading in the right direction towards your goal. But what you want to stay away from is obsessively checking the compass every step of the way to make sure you never head a single inch off path.

I see this happen all the time with athletes. They are so fixated on the end point, the perfect path to take, the power, the heart rate, the aligning every one of life’s details to add up to the ultimate personal success where rainbows abound, puppies are everywhere, and the Sound Of Music theme song is playing.

They clutch the compass in their hand, tapping on it every so often, and all the while, life and scenery, and the big picture is flying on by.

I see this in a few different ways:

  • Many athletes constantly look at every training session as a litmus test to prove to themselves that they are on track towards their goals. When a session went poorly, they see it as being off path. This is clutching the compass. 
  • Many athletes refuse to diverge in any way shape or form from the most direct path to the goal. Sometimes going around a mountain is better than the direct path that leads up and over. This is clutching the compass.
  • Most athletes who are chasing a BHAG utterly refuse to take a purposeful diversion off path just for the joy of it. They walk right past something amazing that would add to their life story because they are too focused on arriving. This is clutching the compass.

I have so been here. I see it in my training, and I see it in the ways I’ve chosen to grow my business. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed in the details…ahhh the about me page of the website is all messed up…when in reality, I’m here to help people cross the Ironman finish lines. The about me page is small beans, don’t clutch the compass Sonja.

What I’ve learned through Ironman racing is that attaining the BHAG is really pretty cool, for about 48 hours. But what you will look back on in life and smile about, are the times that you put the compass in your pocket. The times where you took a bearing and headed off west, in search of yourself, and experiences that would take you one step closer to learning valuable lessons. Keeping a relaxed attitude and checking the compass only every so often feels really scary at first if you have any of the TypeA blood in you, but I promise that after a few dances with success you will start to feel more comfortable. If you don’t put down the compass, and look around, you won’t get any practice, and you’ll just hang onto that thing like Tom Cruise in Castaway with Wilson.

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Don’t Clutch the Compass!

Or better yet, hire a travel guide, and enjoy the scenery!

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Figuring Something Out

Whelp, December turned into one of the longest and hardest months I’ve had in the last 35 years. I spent a large part of it in bed, really unable to drag myself out on more days than I would like to admit. I managed to get some things under the tree for the munchkin, thank you Amazon. Most my workouts, I just skipped. I got an injury in my knee that will prevent me from racing any of the ultras that I signed up for in January and February. That didn’t help me get out of bed. Whenever I go though these times I tend to hole up. I hunker down, usually in covers. I had depression…have depression…had a bout of depression…heck I don’t know what to call it. I felt sad, and acted sad, and left the house very little, and watched a lot of pointless crappy shows on hulu, read a few books, stayed up all night, slept all day, you name it.

Why so glum chum? Well, I think many people who have had times where they were off balance would agree that there isn’t really a cause, just a consistent darkening that they can’t seem to pull out of. I would agree. I have good things in my life and I have sad things in my life, just like everyone else on this planet (aka tiny ball of dirt spinning around in the universe). I would just say that I stopped putting up the good fight against the sadness. I just stopped, and then I kinda just got headed down that path.

I had a lot of talks with Troy through this time. Sometimes I couldn’t talk to him for days, and sometimes I had to talk all day. He’s an exceptionally patient man. He listens, and he doesn’t tell me things like “you need to fix this.” He just tucks me in, checks on me a lot, and encourages me to do more of the things that seem to make me happy in the moment.

I quietly hoped that all that time being down would eventually turn back up and that I might learn something in the process. I kinda felt like I just had to wait it out. I thought about a lot of stuff while I was chilling. Mostly stuff about my daughter. My daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia over a year ago and that means that I worry constantly. If you know me, you would not peg me as a worrier but in this case I worry and I worry, and then I worry some more. All the confidence I have in other areas of my life seems to just be gone here, it’s my baby girl, and I can’t fix the struggle for her. And the school, and the teachers, and the right path, it’s all a problem, it’s all a worry, daily. You would think this is a known thing in these days, and that there is a clear course and clear options for her, but I’m here to say “nope.” Getting any follow through on the items in her IEP is akin to pulling teeth. But we have a great tutor, and we have money. So we are using those as well as we can.

Just typing that last paragraph may seem kinda tame to you with your personal problems that don’t look like mine, but I just put that out in the world forever. And that is literally the definition of airing your dirty laundry.

But I promise this post isn’t all doom and gloom. Because while I was down, things in my brain were stirring. Why the heck am I even here, on this blob of Earth? What’s the point of it all? Why the pain? I have asked myself this over and over and over during the last few months. What’s my responsibility to this fleeting life I have, to my daughter, and to my family? What’s the flipping point?

A little angel sent me an email with the link to a blog post a few days ago. And in the space of a few hours I started to see the light. I started climbing out, and I started to get clear, real clear, on all of these things. And the clearer I got, and the more nodding I did, the better I felt. I started combining it with other stuff I’ve read through the last year, and things just really started coming together for me, my I’s started getting dotted and my T’s started getting crossed.

Here comes the “I think” part of the post. I wonder how many people ever voice what they think? If you have I would pat you on the back, because even this over sharer is finding it really really hard. What you think probably isn’t what I think. I think that’s cool. Some of what I think may intertwine with some of what you think, that’s pretty darn cool too. I may have at one point, but I no longer have any judgement on what you think. Since figuring out what I think, that judgement just went away. You think stuff, I think stuff, it’s all good stuff. So, here goes.

I think that we have a mind; this consciousness/soul/spirit/essence/heart, and I think we also have this body, and the two are really pretty separate. Something I read that really stuck with me once, was that 10 seconds after we die, we still weigh exactly the same as we did 15 seconds prior, but something is gone, something in us is really really gone, and that Something doesn’t weigh anything, but it’s a Something. It’s a big Something. I think that Something is me. That’s me. And because I think that, I tell Troy that when that something is gone, just burn me up, and scatter me around somewhere pretty.

I think that Something is vast, and I think there are other Somethings, like the one in you, and I think the different Somethings have gone through different experiences that have lead to different levels of consciousness. I think the something in a bug is the same kind of something that is me, but the bug might not have gone through as many past experiences as me. Maybe I did my time as a bug, and now I’m here in a body, and maybe after this I get to go to another physcial form next. I think that there are “somethings” that know a lot more than I do, I think there are a lot of them, and I think some of them are here on Earth, but a lot of them are elsewhere in the universe. This is what I think.

I think my something decided to take a ride in a body, on this Earth. Woo, Hoo. It wanted another experience in it’s path of development and it went for a human. Go me. I think that our time here on Earth is itty bitty. Just a blip, a blink, hardly a postscript. When I think about “what’s the point” I think about “legacy.” Thinking about legacy really gets me thinking about people who’s deeds stuck around after their something moved on. They are few. Really few. What famous caveman do you know? Most of the deeds that most of the somethings do with their bodies are just actions, that don’t really matter. When I really went down this line of thought, I got a little sad at first. Nothing I do will live on. Even if I become the next President, or I set a gajillion world records, or I help raise a super amazing kid, or I start a huge great company, in time, it’s all gone. And then I thought, Hummm, I think that means that those things must not be the point. You know “the point”…you know what I mean.

When I was thinking about this, I kept coming back to a petrie dish. It’s a petrie dish, we’re in one! I remember in High School science putting the little bacteria cells in, and watching over several days as they went about their business which was purely based on their environment. I, as the researcher, was watching them in their little petrie dish planet do their thing. Some of them didn’t play nice with others, some of them gravitated towards each other. They were such a product of their environment. And what was their role? What was their responsibility? To me? To themselves? It was just to “do their thang.” Were they supposed to please the researcher? Um, they didn’t have that level of consciousness. They were there to go about their business in the tiny petrie dish world, getting the most out of their current environment and experience. That resonated with me.

I know that I don’t know a lot. I know there is tons of stuff on our planet that I don’t know about, but then taking it outwards into our universe and beyond that and not only do I not know, but we here on Earth are clueless about the majority of what’s out there. Can the bacteria in the petrie dish understand the depth of my love for my daughter? I’m pretty sure not, and therefore I think there are vast amounts of stuff out there that I’m not capable of really getting either.

So what’s the point? I think I’m experiencing these 80 (hopefully) trips around the sun to see what the human thing is all about. I’m doing my time in the petrie dish of Earth, and I think this is probably my only chance at a little human body. And it’s a short trip.  In the grand scheme, its just a blink of an experience for me. Once I got to that place, I started to feel really good.

“If you knew your potential to feel good, you would ask no one to be different so that you can feel good. You would free yourself of all of that cumbersome impossibility of needing to control the world, or control your mate, or control your child. You are the only one who creates your reality. For no one else can think for you, no one else can do it. It is only you, every bit of it you.”

– Esther Hicks

Humm, okay, what to do now? That’s when I started to get really clear. I get this one chance, and I think the point is to experiment and explore the potential of the human body/experience. I am just a lump of atoms, running around on some dirt, colliding into other lumps of atoms along the way. Meander, collide, meander some more, collide again. Some collisions are good, some bad, some are wrong place wrong time, some are right place right time. But my purpose is to explore potential, the potential that is: My “something” in this “body”.

When I think back on the things that felt good/fun/fulfilling/truth/destiny, it was always when I was searching for that edge in human capabilities. When I was in school and I was getting to the limit of what my brain could compute (I have a degree in Pure Mathematics and grad school was literally brain ironman on many occasions) I was like Wowah…this feels really fulfilling. Same with triathlon, testing the limits of my human form, and this last year using more mental tools, and tapping into my something to get more out of my physical body, I was like “there are some limits I’m finding here, and that process feels like what I was meant to do on this Earth.”

I am here, for this short duration, to experiment with the limits that come from the combination of my “something” and my body. I have explored math, I have explored triathlon, I’ve explored marriage, there are a lot of things left to explore and there is no check list. I am free and capable to explore any direction I want to. I can head towards art, towards music, towards making money, towards more physical outlets. I like the physical outlets. Those really speak to me, so I think I’ll keep heading in that direction for now. Anything on this planet is open for exploration, and I’m not going to get to all of it. I’m only going to get to the things that I want to. Oh Yea, and it’s supposed to be fun.

That’s another one of the “I thinks”…

I think it’s supposed to be fun and enjoyable. Yup. I think that.

Also. With this ah-hah, I had some clarity on being a mom. I started with “What’s my responsibility to my daughter?” It’s a special thing, at least I think it is, to birth a new life into this Earth. It’s cool beans, and it changed me, it changed my “something” big time. But, I also realize that I am just a something (right now she is called Sonja) with a 26 year head start on another something (whom I chose to call Annie). We are the same thing, and we have the same purpose on this planet: to experience the human form. I just get to help this little one, and we are the same, I just have a head start.

Coming to these conclusions has really stirred something deep inside me. Suddenly I feel like a sponge who wants to travel around the Earth picking up bit of color from all the unique places that are out there. Possibilities seem very open and at my core I feel grounded in the fact that I am here to explore potential. I want to taste all the foods, visit all the places, hear all the noises, smell all the smells, and also push this body to the limit while doing so.

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

– Hunter S Thompson



The journey continues. February, poof, gone just like that. I’ve been training. Doing some different stuff actually, lots of bicep curls. Haha! No, really, I’ve just had a different outlook this season, it’s felt more like a secret covert mission. More like how much stupid fun stuff can I do and still train for an Ironman. But you see, the Ironman is in Brazil, it’s not like any of you will be there. It’s covert, good luck finding the results, I can’t ever seem to. We travel really far, mostly there to have fun, and then I race my ass off for 10 hours…maybe less…maybe more. No Troy to tell me where I’m at, he’ll be on the course with me. Probably no heart rate strap, maybe no watch, definitely no power. Just me for 10 hours of pain/awesome/ouch/Grr/gogogogo, and then about 10 days of pure amazonian adventure. If it seems skewed, it’s because it is, on purpose.

That’s how triathlon training should be. See the races are really short, even the long ones, so there should be lots of fun in-between. You can be serious on race day, and at the end of hard runs, and when sad songs come on your iPod. But the rest of the time, well, why so serious? Why so Type A? How about a bit-o-sass.


Annie gets it, she lives it and she’s such a wonderful inspiration. She sits next to me now, like a bumbling hive of energy. At any moment she may run 10 laps around our bedroom, or jump on the bed trying to reach for the roof, or will turn to me and just nuzzle in. She’s just such a reminder to stay in the moment of life, to chase what feels fun and silly, and to not be so serious.


This is a problem of mine, the over seriousning (not a word) of absolutely EVERYTHING. Bheh, I make myself sick sometimes. Troy and I were having a chat at lunch today, basically discussing my faults. It was an awesome conversation, and it went on for quite awhile, after all, my flaws are many. But it was an honest one, the kind of honest that I only entertain from very few people in my life. We agreed that much of the time, my biggest problem in life, is that I have trouble coping with my awesome life.

Literally, that is the way we decided to put it. I get overwhelmed with my own life, a life that is absolutely ideal in every way, shape, and form. I have trouble coping with a long to do list. I have trouble coping with large amounts of responsibility. If you look close I am an underachiever. I’m a mom, but only 1 kid. I stay home, but detest housework, sitting down for dinner, grocery shopping, or laundry. I don’t work, unless you count coaching, which you shouldn’t because I get oodles more from my athletes than I give. I spend the middle of most days training, coaching, and relaxing, and sadly I get overwhelmed by that at times.

Apollo….now here’s and example of someone who never gets overwhelmed by the awesomeness of their own life.


But hey, it’s me! I’m me! I kinda like me, I’ve worked hard to like me. What a sad statement. I’ve got my shit, and therefore I try to keep my life simple for a reason (TRY). I don’t handle the opposite very well. I’m at my best with a life where I have singular focus. I think it’s what makes me a strong triathlete. When I’m out on the bike, or the run, or swimming, I’m there completely. I’m not wishing I was elsewhere very often, I’m in the moment. I take charge, I’m a leader, and it’s because I love total singular focus. I’m intense, been told that several times. If you ever meet me when I am “working” (whatever that may be…remember, I don’t work) you’ll think wowah…this girl is a bit intense. She smiles a lot…but she a little bat shit crazy too.


A case of the intense hit me a few days ago and I went off my rocker. My poor closet was the victim, and after I was done with it, this was in the hallway…

Don’t worry, I didn’t throw away my Freak…just the stupid briefcase that it came in. Come on people, it’s a wetsuit, and as much as I felt like a cool kid for all 15 minutes after walking around with my Freak of Nature briefcase…I soon realized I’m a complete dork-face walking around with a wetsuit in a briefcase. Talk about intense…


And this was the closet afterwards. And let me tell you, while I was pruning the poor thing there was no other task in my life. I was made to purge my closet, put on the earth at that moment for that single task. I did nothing else but cut out every single superfluous item from a 6×8 square of my belongings. But the effect was calming, and after it was done, I could move on with life, albeit, with very little left to wear.


So, ya know, this year is going to be different, it’s already been different. Scratch that last bit…this year IS different. I’m taking myself on a crazy ride. It’s going to be better, mostly because my head is either going to be on more straight, OR, I’m gonna accept that it’s crooked for the time being. Crooked is good, everyone needs some of them to be a bit lopsided at times. It’s like perfect teeth…I’m always skeptical of someone with perfect teeth. A little flaw in there, some yellowing, or some intertwined bottom teeth prove that your human. Nobody wants to look at a perfect smile.

As I continue down the journey that is this year, I’m going to continue to see things differently. I’m going to try to not get as overwhelmed with the awesomeness of my life, a task I know I will continue to fail at on occasion. But when I fail at it, I will get back up and try again. That’s all I can really task myself with. Keep trying to be better, and to leave others better than you found them. That too.


I hate habit, routines, and patterns. Bleh. I can’t stand doing the same thing every day, in the same order. I am a perfectionist in “HOW” things get done, but not order. I detest morning routines, and bedtime routines. But this year I really tried developing some routines because I thought it would help with my performance and life balance. My morning routine ended up…wake up, take Zeo off and dock it, take pulse, take Osat, open Restwise, fill out half the questions, go pee, check color, note in Restwise, get nude, weight, note in rest wise, put clothes on, check email, check twitter. Oy.

So, in my period of annual reflection I though I would make a list of things that matter and things that don’t. Now, beware, this list is personal and a bit theoretical in places. It’s my list, yours is probably different, but hey, maybe it will make you think about your own list and question some of the things you do that you think matter…but maybe they don’t really.


— Getting to sleep before 10pm, this makes me Superwoman.

— Making training dates with others, playing with your friends and family, being active together, and laughing. Laughing should be it’s own thing. Here…

— Laughing. It matters, big time.

— Eating a balanced diet every day, and developing healthy habits. Being the kind of person that enjoys clean eating, this matters.

— Organizing your training fuel and keeping it in a central location and fully stocked.

— Not eating late in the day. This is Oh-So-Hard for me, but it matters. It really matters.

— PMA …positive mental attitude

— Taking personal responsibility for what happens in your life. You always have a choice including your participation in this “sport”.

— Having organic veggies delivered to the doorstep every week

— Developing the habit to plug in your Garmin the minute you get done training, it’s worth the pain to develop the habit. I had next to no “dead Garmin” days in comparison to years past. Make a training electronics basket, tape a power strip to the bottom of it, and plug your stuff in.

— Reading, both for fun, and for sport depending on your mood. Read for sport when training hours are low and you need to stay motivated towards goals. Read fiction for pleasure when training loads are high. 50 Shades of Grey can give you a lot to think about during a 30 hour training week.

— Eating when hungry (Troy made me add this)

— Drinking when thirsty

— De-triathloning at least once a week, giving yourself time to think and discuss other things with people who don’t do triathlon

— Planning your day the night before, packing for training, and making food for the following day

— Finding solutions that fit you (Troy made me add this one too. I think it’s because he doesn’t want me telling him what to do all the time when it comes to swim bike run)

— The cleaning lady

— A good bike fit

— Listening to your Heart Rate Monitor, it very much matters, especially when you are out of shape!

— Your friends, they matter, big time, listen to them and be there for them when they need you


—Restwise…doesn’t seem to tell me much more than I know already, but does require me to develop a routine with filling it out which bugs me often. It also satisfies my anal retentive nature, but in all truth, it doesn’t matter, know thyself (as CV used to say)

—Zeo…although fun to wear and makes me go to sleep faster, doesn’t ultimately better my performance.

— Self portraits taken on the bike with your phone…does this even need elaboration?

— Counting calories

— Excuses

— Keeping track of Weekly Training Totals

— Weighing every day

— Drinking when you aren’t thirsty

— Filling in Training Peaks if your coach doesn’t use Training Peaks… really doesn’t matter. However, do upload your Garmin so you don’t have to mess with “Delete Active History – Active Memory Full”

— Foam Rolling (okay…it’s a personal list)

— The iPod, wear it if you want, don’t wear it if you don’t want, it doesn’t matter

— Cooking…not necessary, scrounging in a healthy way is just fine

— Folding and putting away laundry

— Looking up the results of your competitors before or after races

— Make up (duh)

— Looking cute on the podium, despite what recent Lava articles stress…see above

— Responding to comments on your own blog…time suck! Or Facebook several times a day…time suck! or being permanently on Twitter…time suck!

— The size of your Oakley collection…sad, I know.

–Being on time… doesn’t matter as much as the weight I give it. I’m punctual to a fault and spend lots of time stressing out about being late, when most the time…doesn’t matter.

— What kind of car you drive…as long as it fits your bike.

— What kind of bike you ride…as long as it fits you. Just kidding, you should ride a QR.

Next year I plan to go more in the direction of the top list, and less in the direction of the bottom list. More focus on emotional balance and health, less on data and being anal. More laughing, less lying in bed not wanting to get out. More good clean healthy food, less making myself feel bad about food choices. More listening to my body and trying to learn more about myself, less reliance on training gadgets. More fun!

It’s all a choice!!

Now what?

Doopy-Doo. Laa-Tee-Dah.

Soooooo, hummm, what now?

I’ve been told/urged/requested by pretty much every one I know to take some time off. Like a month….or as PIC says…maybe two. I don’t really even know what that means. Like, off meaning absolutely no swim bike run? Or just put the Garmin away and stay laxidasical about SBR? Me No No.

Is laxidasical a word? Spell check doesn’t like it.

This week I’ve been going to Yoga. I hate yoga. But I keep going. My hamstring flexability is worse than 100% of the 70+ year old women in Gentle yoga…oh and all the guys too. I can not downward dog, can not touch my toes, and the worst… I can not sit with my feet straight out in front of me. Like just sit there, can’t do it. So, I keep going to the yoga. Yes, THE yoga. It’s good for me to just simmer the F down for awhile and be still.

But I can’t say I’m comfortable with it.

Are all triathletes just hyper ADD compulsive exercisers? I don’t even know what fitness and exercise looks like without SBR. So, I’m doing some new things to keep me entertained. I walked the dog at the dog park with Michelle yesterday. It was thrilling…

I had a reservation to go SUP in the res but it was bogus and they were closed. Not the most “with it” state park I might add, letting people make reservations when you closed for the season.

There is probably some Zumba in my future, and some indoor rock climbing, definitely some roller skating. I love roller skating.

Half of me wants to make all these decisions about next year. Get my schedule figured out and tied up, decide what direction I’m going to head, how it’s all going to go down. But then another part of me knows I just need to let things sit for a  little while. Take some walks, think about other stuff. Take a chill pill.

So, that’s what I’m doing. I’m delaying thinking. I’m just simmering.

It seems like in past years there was no break, I was onto the following year before the previous one ended. The “off season” was basically me swim/bike/running around and exercising without my Garmin. Some of my athletes are doing that as well. I can tell, I tell them to take time off, but they just put away the Garmin and call it good. It’s not really time off folks. But, you can probably get away with it for a few years.

I know I lose my fitness very quickly. Every winter with just one month of reduced work I come into the season with low watts and slow running and high heart rate. But I’m trying to not think about that. It usually takes me until June before I feel like I am somewhat back. So this month or two is probobly going to tank me, but I think after 6 years going hard, it’s time.

Did I just type 6 years…. 07/08/09/10/11/12 dang it, 6 years. Yea, this is probably long overdue.

So here’s to embracing real time off. Whatever the heck that means. Here’s to crappy yoga and sitting still and knitting and reading, and really trying to eat well and stay on track there so I don’t have to combat lack of fitness and weight loss at the same time come January. Here’s to embracing the break (shaaa…right).

Put in My Place

Dang I have been put in my place. Take something for granted in this sport and you’ll get knocked upside your head. As per previous posts I’ve been a bit overwhelmed recently. I’ve been progressing through this Ironman build, coaching 15 athletes, and working for Rev3. Along with that Troy is IM training and I try to spend as much time as possible with Annie when she is out of school.

I am a big believer in doing things that you love. So much so, that I like to set up my life so doing the things I love don’t take work. Live next to the track, live simply, etc etc. I like to outsource the things I don’t like doing, or get rid of them completely (one car, all the bills on autopay, organic veg delivered to the doorstep, etc)

I feel if you chase your love then good things will follow. And the funny thing is, my life is full of the stuff I love. Training, coaching, Rev3, Troy, Annie, PIC, I love all of that, so fulfilling! I don’t feel like you can have too much of a good thing in your life but you can.

You can.

I was starting to feel like there weren’t enough hours in the day, like I couldn’t currently do all the things I love at once, at least not to the level that the perfectionist in me wants to do them at (100%). But my response was simply to buckle down, work harder, work faster, be more efficient, be better. The time that I used to have to hang out on the porch with a cup of hot coco was gone. I was about being productive, and focused…the majority of my days…7 days a week.

Then I got a saddle sore. That’s odd. I’m used to riding my bike a lot and have never experienced one. Then it got worse, kept riding. Then it got to where every pedal stroke was pure pain. Then it got to where walking around was bad pain. I hauled myself into the doctor (usually a practice I save for Pap smears and drilling holes in my toenails to drain them). I had a fever, and infection, and a saddle sore that had to be cut open, drained, and packed with gauze.

I was laid up for several days on antibiotics with a nice amount of pain and a fever. I had to cancel my plans to work for Rev3 at Quassy this weekend, a race that I LOVE, and that 5 of my athletes are racing at, and at the last minute which left Rev3 high and dry, which still makes me weepy. I’m so disappointed in myself over this.

Laying in bed these days I think about Maffetone, about Chuckie, and how much it was drilled in me to seek health first. It’s an adage I live by, and why I’m honestly not sweating the loss of fitness that this time off has no doubt resulted in. Dirk has been awesome along the way, and such a source of knowledge and experience, as he says “It’s not the Titanic” which makes me laugh. I need to have a shirt made.

While I feel that “balance” doesn’t have much of a place in Ironman, or Ironman training, or Ironman athletes, I do think that HEALTH is at the heart of the matter. It is painfully obvious to me that I am no good as a mom, as a wife, as a coach, as Transition coordinator, as a athlete, if I am laid up, stressed out, feverish, and on antibiotics. You have to take care of yourself if others are depending on you. You have to look out for #1, and you have to put health first.

So, while I am disappointed, and a little weepy about the last few days, I know that this is what had to happen.




Received loud and clear.

All we can expect of ourselves is to learn from these mistakes. Sure we may repeat them, sometimes they morph, sometimes the lessons taught fade and we have to be retaught. That’s life.


That Was Needed!




That feels so much better. Sometimes a little change is needed and all that big hair had to go. Ahhhhhh, now I’m ready for summer!

The Sleep Study of One

So I made it through Troy’s challenge to get to sleep before 9pm for 2 weeks straight. It wasn’t easy, there were many times that I was turning off the lights at 8:59, but I really learned a lot.

Some nights I simply couldn’t get to sleep and would lie awake for 10-40 minutes before finding sleep. That was frustrating for someone who usually is comatose shortly after laying down. There was also the frustration of putting down a good book, or not responding to an athletes email because I just didn’t have time. I like to have a sense of completion at the end of the day and sometimes I felt like I was going to sleep with things left unresolved. I also started to see that how close I ate to going to bed was having an effect on my ability to sleep. This recognition is a good thing, but because I’m not quite sure what the parameters of eating/good sleep are, I found myself laying there awake wondering if it was because I ate 30 minutes ago.

So, that was the downside. Here’s the upside. I think I found the holy grail. I have felt so rested, and so fresh and ready to train, especially last week. In fact, on RestWise I had 2 days with a 100 score which means you are ready to train hard. I’ve never had a 100 score before. This was the biggest week that Dirk has given me since we have been working together and I got through it with ease and pep in my step, seeing some awesome watt and pace numbers along the way, and feeling like it was generally a breeze. Friday I trained for 8 hours…2 hrs swimming, and 6 hours riding, and I felt awesome. Just full of life and strength.

A tweet from Matt Dixon (@purplepatch) the other day really resonated with me:

I’m bemused by the focus placed on compression+ice+stretching, but ignore proper fueling, sleep + lighter training sessions.#fingerinthedam

I’ve been one to get 10 hour nights of rest before. But never 2 weeks straight of 9-10 hours sleep. That made all the difference, extended periods of good rest. Wow, is all I can say! The quality of work that comes from lots of good healthy sleep, rest periods in your training, and good food is awesome. I think that until you really feel the gift of extended great sleep, you don’t know what you are missing out on.

Speaking of good food, I just picked up the Feed Zone Cookbook. I have been highly impressed. Thank you Biju Thomas and Allen Lim! I haven’t been eating vegan for awhile now. I went through a period of time where all I could think about was eggs. Eggs Eggs Eggs. I just wanted eggs. A few months back I broke down and bought eggs, and I ate tons of them. About 2 days after that I felt so so so much better. I find that sometimes I eat like crap and then I say “I need to go vegan to get my veggie count back up”. So I do that and I feel great, but then some time after that, I find that I am eating worse than I was when my veggie count was down. I end up eating a lot of hummus and pita chips, guac and chips, and veggie burgers (processed junk). I just have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen to eat vegan and so when I don’t make time for that I eat crappy.

I have a wonderful recipe for vegan scrambled eggs. It’s super good and I love to eat it. It takes me 35 minutes to make. I have a great recipe for non vegan scrambled eggs, it takes me about 5 minutes to make. That, my friends, is where I crumble currently.

Anyways back to The Feed Zone cookbook. What I have made thus far…YUM!

I did some sweet potato cakes for breakfast and then made up some sausage rice cakes and some bacon cashew rice cakes for snacks this week.

Everything turned out really good, and I can’t wait to experiment with more recipes. It was just a stroke of luck that we recently bought a really nice rice cooker (a Zojirushi) and when I tweeted that, everyone started asking me about the Feed Zone cookbook. That’s when I purchased the book (thanks for the heads up @SkratchLabs I love twitter).

There is a fairly lengthy introduction to the cook book which I highly recommend reading, it really resonated with me. My feelings on the matters of athlete nutrition were very similar. A few quotes really stood out to me and I will share.

The context with this first one was that he was talking about bars and quick convenience training “food”.

Though these products are convenient and can play an important role in supplementing an athletes diet, this convenience belies a simple truism about athletics: Being an athlete is hard. And if you want to reach your potential, it’s unlikely that the best way will be easier or more convenient.

—Allen Lim, The Feed Zone Cookbook.

The other quote that I just love really sums up the obsessive nature that we all can get with this sport.

While there is sometimes a large chasm between science and practice, success in either is a lot more about the process of discovery than the regurgitation of facts or techniques.

—Allen Lim, The Feed Zone Cookbook.

It’s true, isn’t it. It’s so easy to get hung up on the idea of what we should do, what science, or slowtwitch, or articles say we should do. When we arrive at what we should do via personal exploration, then it really sticks. Because we are all an experiment of 1 and if we give up on trying new things and experimenting, then I think average is what we will end up. Granted, the “average” triathlete is a pretty darn awesome way to live your life.

Last night (when I stayed up until 10) and this morning as well I have been thinking to myself….how am I going to convince myself to go to sleep before 9 as a long term solution rather than a short term way to score a Zeo? I think about the night owl that I am, about how much I love reading great books deep into the night, and I wonder, how…. how??

Being an athlete is hard. And if you want to reach your potential, it’s unlikely that the best way will be easier or more convenient.

Dang it! I know that my training is more effective on a steady stream of 9-10 hours of sleep. I did the experiment, I convinced myself. Now it’s down to the “do what’s hard” phase of being an athlete.

So, from now on, I will endeavor to kill the night owl in me. DEATH to the night owl.


Troy threw down a challenge last week that has rocked my world. I’m a night owl big time. If left to my own devises I would be up until 1am or 2am every night. In fact at about 8pm I usually get my second wind for the day and start to perk up, it’s really quite unfortunate. It’s right about the time that he winds down for bed time.

I also sleep like the dead. It usually takes me about 30 seconds to fall asleep. It doesn’t matter if I go to bed a 10pm or at 1am, head hits pillow and I’m sawing logs. I sleep deeply and soundly most the time and I tend to have a very hard time waking up.

When I wake up in the morning, whether at 7am or at 11am, I’m grumpy. I’m sloggy, quiet, don’t like to talk, and feel like I am traveling through mud. I also don’t drink coffee or anything caffeinated in the morning so I just have to wait for my stupor to wear off. As the training picks up, this process tends to lengthen. Drag drag drag, then then by 9:30am or so I’m usually rocking’ and rollin’.

So, we are walking through Best Buy last weekend and I see one of those ZEO sleep monitors. Oooohhhhh, me likely, me want!

Again, I’m going to reiterate here that I am a junky for data items like this. I think at some point I’m going to need to go back to college to study physiology.

Zeo Inc. was originally started by a group of sleep-deprived students at Brown University.  Looking for a way to fight grogginess and perform at a higher level during the day, they learned that the stage of sleep from which a person awakens has a huge influence on how that person feels in the morning.  So, they developed a comfortable way to track sleep and help people wake up “on the right side of the bed.”

Needless to say I wanted to buy one right then. That’s where Troy stepped in and put the smack down. No way Sonja, why do you need that?…. he said as he slipped a new ginormous iMac into our cart. Seriously?

So I used my female ways of persuasion to say “If I go to sleep before 9pm for a week will you get me a Zeo”? Yes, we’ve been married for 10 years…

He said “1 month”.

I knew I had him then….”two weeks?”

“Okay, two weeks”. He thought he had this in the bag. So he thought.

Upon arriving home I immediately made a sticker chart. These sorts of things are best executed with a well thought out intermediate reward system. Case in point:

Let me tell you, this is probably one of the harder things I have ever endured and I have a new appreciation for those who have trouble sleeping. The first few nights were fine. Then there was a hiccup and I needed to take a call that would extend past the 9pm barrier. That night I had to use my true female persuasion for that damn sticker. But then after that night, back to the plan. And here’s what I found.

First off…in 7 days I slept 66.5 hours. That’s a lot of sleep!!!

I could not get to sleep later in the week. Wednesday and Thursday nights it took me over an hour to get to sleep despite the fact that I had trained a lot those days. I was rested and just laid there and tossed and turned for an hour before sleep found me. Then I woke up about 10 times each night and was AWAKE, but forced myself to count back to sleep. That’s something my mom taught me when I was little, she would tell me to count to go to sleep. Thursday night I told Troy “I just hit 109” I usually don’t make it past 12. He was a little pissed, I think because I woke him up, and he said “just go buy the damn Zeo”. Hahahha! I know how to break him!

Last night I almost didn’t make it. I shut the lights off right at 8:59. Troy comes in, and I say “Shhhhh, I’M SLEEPING” and then erupt into giggles. But, a magical thing happened. I was out in 15 seconds  and I woke up naturally 10.5 hours later without waking up a single time. 7:30 this morning I was fresh as a daisy and felt so alive.

So, next week will be interesting. I’m not holding Troy to his resignation of the bet. I want to see this one through. But it is OH SO HARD to turn off all the lights at 8:59 when I am in the middle of a really good chapter in IronWar and I’m not tired, and I just WANT TO STAY UP ALL NIGHT. Ha!

I’m not even going to tell you what I have to do if I lose the bet, because honestly, the probability that I will lose this bet is ZERO. Take that Troy!

(Troy snickers in the background knowing that by getting me in bed by 9pm every night means he has already won)

So, does anyone have the Zeo, have you played with it, what do you think? Also, does anyone have advise on the differences between the Zeo with the little clock or the one with the iPhone instead? I’m excited to learn more about sleep and about what kind of sleeper I am.