Holy Moly, it’s all happening.

We close on our house in Colorado a week from tomorrow. That whole situation was quite wild. 7 days after we decided to move we put our Colorado house on the market, on a Tuesday. We live in a super desirable location, next door to three of the best schools in Denver, next to a state park and a block from the store and some tasty restaurants. The week we put it on the market was also Training Camp week in Evergreen for RTTC, which I was the head-hauncho over.

Side note, we had a really awesome camp at high altitude complete with a super big adventure up Mt Evans in cold+ rain. I sagged 15 people + 12 bikes off Mt Evans in 2 vehicles…I’de like to see anyone top that! Everyone was well taken care of, but I saw a few new grey hairs that next morning. The athletes made such amazing gains that week, everyone was tested in one way shape or form, and it was a blast to see two campers win their AGs at their races the following weekend after camp (you don’t need as much rest as you think for most of these non-A races…hahha).

So, Tuesday the house went on the market and in 11 hours we had 28 showings and 8 offers submitted on the house. It was a total cluster for Troy who was home trying to work. He finally escaped to Jessica’s (pod bestie + realtor) house with the dog and Annie and just let the mayhem at the house play out. Then Tuesday evening Jess and Troy (and Eric and Annie too) drove up to the camp house and we sat on the back portch and decided which offer to take.

So just like that, in one day we were under contract. Everything has gone super smooth with this house sale and we close on the 3rd of August.

Now over at the Los Osos house we booked a trip over the 4th of July to check out the house and review the inspection report. The 4th of July also happens to be Troy and I’s anniversary… 14 years, baby! Stronger every year! It was really cool to pull into town with that feeling that we were going to move there instead of just visit. It really changes your perspective when you start to look at the coffee shop you will head to for your morning walk and the grocery store you will shop at.

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Our new little house is straight up awesome. It’s the perfect amount of space for us and has a great deck with a little bay view from it. It’s a couple blocks from the bay and a short little trip to the beach. The current owner is super sweet and when we met her she said “This house needs a tall family.” She is quite short, I think Annie is taller than her, and there were lots of step stools in the house! haha! Our abode is in great shape, there will be some small things we will work on, enough to keep Troy busy for a few weekends, but all in all, it’s move in ready for sure.

Through the whole weekend our only obligation was the 2 hours at the house to check it all out, and then we spent the rest of the time as a family relaxing and playing on the beach, and visiting with my childhood bestie. It was important for Troy and Annie to really soak it in, eat the food (fish yay), smell the ocean, and get a little sand between their toes. Luckily the weather cooperated big time with some beautiful days!

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We close in California on the 10th of August, and our stuff arrives on the 12th. For the 7 days between closing on the two houses, we are house-less! Troy is going to take the pets to his parents so he can work and then make a quick drive with them to Cali the day before we close, and Annie and I are going ROADTRIPPING up to Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone, and will meet Troy in Cali. I can’t wait to spend some solid mom time with Annie! More stamps in our National Parks Passport Book, whoop!

After the 4th of July I headed to New York City! Todd Herman hosted about 30 of us for his Basecamp program where we sit in a room for one full day and unpack what went down in our business over the previous 90 days. He asks us the hard questions and we uncover the holes. Then we look to what needs to happen in the next 90 days, we create new goals, and we break those goals up into the projects that need to happen. He had a great flow for the day and if I had tried to make that much progress on my own it would have taken weeks, weeks that I don’t have! The 90 Day Year program has been a great tool for life. Nothing ever matters much past the next 90 days, it’s easy to get caught up in stuff beyond that, but it never actually works out like you think.

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After basecamp I stayed for a few extra days in NYC to play, think, work, and just be. I got my moneys worth from the bike share program…12 bike rides in 24 hours! I rode the subway, went up the Empire State Building, visited the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Wall Street, and ran around Central Park with the unofficial mayor…Mr.Chris Baker himself! All this around many athlete calls, schedule approvals, and bringing on new coaches. It required the art of balance!

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From NYC I headed straight to Lake Tahoe and participated in the Trans Tahoe swim with my dolphin pod. By the time I landed in Reno I was pretty emotionally drained. It was hard to be in the place that I won the Ironman the previous year and to know that my fitness is in such a different place. I thought I had lost some fitness then, but oh lordy… perspective! I spent a lot of time in bed in Tahoe, but did get in a few good swims and a nice trail run with my big brother Beeson. I came home pretty tapped, tired, and drained.

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But, there is no rest for the weary, the goals have been set and there is work to be done! I took some time to rejuvenate, and am back working and training like I’ve got goals, because I DO!

I’m excited for what is coming the next few weeks. Lots of change. I’m leaving behind good friends and a great network, but I feel very deeply proud to be following my heart in these matters, and I know I will make new friends there as well.

Oh, and wow has packing been a breeze. The konmari method of decluttering is the real deal. We packed for about 2.5 hours and the house is 50% packed. Nice to not have to stress about having too much stuff!

Until the next update…

Finding Dory

Back in March I attended a really magical retreat with the AMAZING Tiffany Josephs. It was in Santa Barbara and we had an absolute blast. I got to run for hours along the beach every day and Tiffany crafted a really fun, refreshing, intuitive retreat for us complete with scavenger hunts, photo shoots, and cake by the ocean…..

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On the final night of the retreat we did the coolest exercise. I don’t want to share all of Tiffanies secrets but this cat needs out of the bag. We got in a circle (9 of us), got our journals, and opened to a blank page. Tiffany instructed us to make a scribble on our page. Like a 3 second scribble, whatever felt right. Then we passed our journals to the right. So now we each have the scribble from the person to our left. Our instructions were to add what was needed to the scribble. Whatever felt right. And we had very little time, maybe 30 seconds or so, before we had to pass it along. The journals traveled all around the circle, getting additions and being worked on from each lady, and 9 passes later you had your journal back, but you could barely recognize your scribble! It had turned into a masterpiece, an oracle of sorts.

Tiffany explained to us that on that page was something special, a message, from the universe. And we went around the circle and each shared what we saw in our drawing. I would never share this, after all you don’t share journal pages, but this is all too good, and I have to.

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So, mine was hilarious. My original scribble is in purple. I literally sat there and just laughed at it for a good long while. And then you are sorta trying to figure out what the heck it all is? I saw a fox in there, one who is stressed! But happy too, and smoking some pot which I have never done. That bird I thought had some male genitals, but I might have read into that and it’s just his tail feather. Is that an aardvark in the corner, and then there is all this business with “what if” and Nemo, and Finding Dory in the bottom. I concluded at the time that the universe would like for me to lighten the heck up and have a little more fun.

Tiffany told us to pull this back out in a few weeks or months and have another look, that things in here would make more sense as time went on.

Fast forward to the next morning when I went for my 2 hour run. I was listening to Pandora the whole time and thought it was hilarious because the whole run every single advertisement it played to me was for the movie Finding Dory. I thought it was so strange because that was on my page from the night before. I was totally having one of those crazy universe moments thinking “No way…crazy”

As I traveled home from the retreat on Mothers Day all I could think about was how much California and the Central Coast is in my blood. I grew up in California. I lived the first 10 years of my life in a little town called Tehachapi that is in the valley. When I was 10 we moved to a little town outside of Morro Bay called Los Osos. Morro Bay sits at the front of the bay, and has a giant rock, and Los Osos sits at the back of the bay. When I was 15 my family moved to San Jose, CA during the week of my Easter break from my sophomore year of high school. I cried most of the trip. It was a very sad day to move from one of the most gorgeous places on the planet to the city of San Jose where my graduating class had more kids than the entire high school I came from. I made my way in San Jose until I graduated and went to college at UC San Diego (not the party school….but the nerdy school in La Jolla). After UCSD I moved to Colorado.

I called Troy while I was sitting in the airport coming home from Santa Barbara and asked if we could move. Well, I kinda begged him to move. And I cried too, the whole way home in fact. We discussed it and although he works from home, he wasn’t sure if they would be okay with this sort of move. Also, he wasn’t okay with it. Annie likes her school and we live in a sweet location, he’s lived in Colorado all his life.

And I had to respect that.

Fast forward a couple months and I went to IM Texas to coach our 5 athletes who raced (phenomenally) and when I looked at the forecast for Colorado on my way home it was going to rain all week. So when I got to the airport I changed my flight to San Diego. My friend Ang was hanging there for a few days and I had a place to stay. On the way home from San Diego I met the most amazing man who was my uber driver. We had an insane 15 minutes and he really opened up my mind to A LOT of things. The main thing I received from him was that there are different levels to this life. The physical level, the mental level. He straight up told me I have those two down pat. But I’m stuck on the heart level. And he was right. We still keep in touch. He sent me this quote and I used a picture on San Diego for the background:

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I came home from San Diego really alive and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Ang on the ocean, watching sunsets every night and shopping at the farmers market together. I brought moving up again with Troy and he knew I was still pretty serious. We talked about it, but life was so crazy. So we couched the idea.

Last Sunday was Fathers day. Troy loves Chinese Food, it’s like his absolute favorite. So I researched where we could find the best Dim Sum in Denver. By the way, that would be Star Kitchen, super authentic and super yummy. We went to Dim Sum that morning and were having a great day together as a family. After our bellies were full I asked what he wanted to do and Troy said that he wanted to go see Finding Dory. Now, a little about my wonderful husband. He loves movies in the theatre. Like LOVES. He pretty much watches everything when it comes out. He and Annie go a lot and it’s hard to go to a movie with Troy because he’s already seen it. Well, it was opening weekend for Finding Dory so none of us had been. Off we went (PS I  love that Troy will go see literally ANY movie with me, RomCom, Comedy, Drama, doesn’t matter, he’s game).

So we are sitting in the theatre and watching and all of the sudden Dory is trying to find her family, she’s trying to go home. But get this, where is home?

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The town of 10,000 people that I grew up in. The town that I left my heart in when I left at age 15. The only town I come back to with that deep sigh when I visit. That town.

And all of the sudden my picture from the retreat is flooding back to me, and how it said “Why not?” and “Finding Dory”

 

I look at Troy with eyes like saucers and I’m mouthing to him “We have to move”

Then I’m texting, he’s two seats away but I’m flipping out…and darn autocorrect….

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The whole movie I pretty much flipped out. I felt deep in my heart that we had to move.

After we got out of the movie we had a long chat and I told Troy: It’s time, I’m ready, I want to go. I’m ready to go, can we please go?

And he got it. At a deep level, one that makes me cry when I type this, my husband understood that we had to give it a shot. He’s lived here his whole life and I respect and honor that, but I have been given so many signs to follow my heart and I know where my heart is, I just know.

He called work first thing Monday morning. They approved the move. It was a non issue. All this time, and it was a non issue.

We hired a real estate agent Monday night (one message off to my childhood bestie Lauren who lives there and she put us in touch with a phenomenal agent).

We put in an offer on a house on Tuesday morning. We found out we didn’t get that house on Friday morning.

Thursday night I was searching craigslist and found a place that wasn’t on our list of prospects (there are only 4 houses on the market in our price range in Los Osos and Morro Bay). I searched a little more and found out it was under contract. I emailed our agent and asked her to look into it. Friday she called us and said that it’s under contract, the sellers agent said the contract was going to be cancelled and we could put in an offer. We wrote a cover letter explaining how much we love Los Osos, described our family, and bid 40K over asking. This house was much nicer than the first house we put an offer on. It has much more space, the location is better, and it has a tiny view of the water. They countered our offer with a technicality and no increase in price, and as of yesterday we are under contract on the perfect little house that we haven’t even seen. But the way all of this is going, I know it will be fine. I just know.

Meanwhile we prepped our house for sale over the last few days, with the plans to put it on the market this Tuesday. Yesterday our neighbor said he would like to buy it and would have an offer to us on Monday.

It’s been one week since we made the decision and pretty much all the big decisions and questions have been hammered out. It’s truly been a downhill flow sort of situation.

Next weekend is the 4th of July and I cancelled my plans to race Vineman and instead we are headed to Los Osos to review the inspection and check out our new house….and it’s tiny bay view, and it’s big beautiful balcony that faces the ocean.

I can not explain fully how much my heart is exploding with YAY. I feel so lucky that Troy works from home and I built Rising Tide to be movable. I can’t believe all the signs and how easy every thing came together. I feel a little sense of pride that I followed the signs, I followed my heart and because of that, things have flowed!

Oh and Annie, the best part. She’s super excited. Happy to go, excited for the adventure. She’s an amazing kiddo.

Move date looks to be the beginning of August. No final date just yet, but definitely before Annie starts 5th grade.

Overwhelm….and the 90 Day Year


Looking for Todds 90DY videos and don’t want to scroll (links at bottom too)?

OW vs WOW Video  –  90 Day Engine Video  –  8 Phase Plan video  –  His field reports page


I had a melt down. In my therapists office.

Usually I arrive on time, ready to do some head work, explore my feelings, etc. But this Monday I walked in, sat down, and cried for about 50 minutes. The last 15 months I have had this interesting relationship with the concept of “overwhelm”. Everyone says starting a business is hard, that you will work a lot, and they are right. But it’s uncommon for people to really get down and nitty gritty with what happens when you have had too much. Well, let me tell you. For me, it starts with zero productivity. I will sit there just staring at things. My eyes glaze over, and then I feel anxiety or like my body is humming. I described it the other day as the bottom of a square. Then the waterworks. Tears, lots of tears. And picking fights with people, and reclusiveness, and a huge feeling of aloneness.

So, as I explore my relationship with overwhelm I start to see some trends, thank you therapy. First off, and thanks to my amazing soul sister and bizznass mentor Katie Den Ouden, she straight up told me my overwhelm is what I say I feel when I feel like shit and I don’t know why. When there is too much and I’m stuck and I can’t figure it all out…I call that overwhelm. It’s a placeholder for deeper under the surface crapola.

So, what’s under there….

1st – The first is my perfectionist gene.

This is a gene that we work on a lot in therapy. I grew up thinking that if I got perfect grades, ran fast, and was the daughter all my parents friends wished they had, that nobody would find fault with me. Nobody could criticize or put me down. Do you know me, have you met me? I’m nice as shit. I really am. I have like a huge page full of testimonials to prove it. And I care deeply about people. But to be honest, there is inner nice (me sometimes), and there is nice due to the fear of people seeing you as “not nice” (or as an elitist….a huge hot button for me). They are two different things. One is a hustle for approval (I call her the nice-hustler), the other is integrity (inner nice).

Of course when I’m nice or in nice-hustler mode, I still get criticism, and that can really feed the perfectionist in me. To this day, when I get feedback and criticism I respond in one of two ways….I let it go with compassion (inner nice girl coming out) or I tell myself I need to be more perfect (nice-hustler mode). And the truth is, all that feedback and criticism is actually kinda bull shit.

“Feedback and criticism doesn’t tell you about you, it tells you about the person giving the feedback”  -Tara Mohr

(PS This quote works for positive feedback too…it’s not really about me, more about what the person giving the praise values, you can read more in Taras book: Playing Big)

So I know all this in my noggin’, but when when I’m stressed it’s like my autopilot turns on, and I go right there, the hustle for nice comes out. Remember how sometimes the car just drives itself home when you are headed to Target…. like that!

When I have many things on my plate (as we all do) but I don’t move them off my plate because I am trying to man-handle the results (wrestle a large bear….the Revenant comes to mind) then OVERWHELM is the answer.

to move past it…. I have to repeat over and over

  1. “Punt that shit” <— a quote from my assistant which means ask others to do stuff for you, get tasks off your plate. Because the deep inner me values people and their contributions. The minute I hand something off to someone else I tend to love what they do with it. I love people, I love how they make things their own.

  2. “Perfect is the enemy of good”  <— truth bomb… repeat… repeat… repeat

2nd – Under there is my big fatty FEAR friend.

Ahh, I hate my darn fear friend. Here’s what my fear friend likes to scream “YOU ARE YOUR RESULTS” and he looks like this:

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(When I was little I called this guy the CREDIBLE hulk…..haha, makes me laugh every time)

I’m wicked afraid of failure. I think we all are to some extent, in our own way, kinda hard-wired for it, ya know? My major fear around failure is that of abandonment. I’m afraid if I don’t train my coach won’t want to work with me, if I fail as a coach my athletes will leave, if I fail as a business women both my athletes and my assistant coaches will leave, if I fail as a wife my husband will leave, or if I fail as a parent my daughter will leave me. Abandonment is a big one with me and so often when I am screaming “OVERWHELM” the deeper thing under the surface is that I think if I don’t do everything on my to do list I will let people down, and they will leave me. I attach results to relationships. And again, my brain knows thats dumb. My brain knows that relationships are built on how you treat people, your integrity, your ability to relate, etc. But as stress creeps up, and I want to let go of half the tasks in my life, and the first thing my brain screams is “The people…they will leave.”

The result is that in times of overwhelm I often neglect myself, feel like a slave to business, slave to training, slave to household chores, slave to others. Thank you big fatty FEAR friend.

(asshole)

To move past it….this is what I gotta throw down:

  1. “You are responsible for your results, but you are not them”  <— I remind myself I am responsible, I have power in this situation, they are not me, they are outcomes.

  2. “Put your oxygen mask on first” <— people can read self sacrifice on you in 2 seconds flat. We teach people how to treat us. bottom line.

3rd – I let my systems wall get breeched.

We all have systems in life. Routines, systems, trends, whatever… For a long time I was a self proclaimed hater of habit. Bleh. But what I have come to understand is that you have to be a hater of habit when you are in the mode of attending to everyone else’s needs before your own. They say business is the fastest path to self discovery, and it’s true, I’ve learned more about myself in the last 15 months than I had in eight years of triathlon. I realized very quickly that I needed systems in place to run a successful business, I learned that in month 3. I never even thought that way about the rest of my life because I spent it being an integral part of other peoples efficient systems. So I researched some systems, I picked one, and I threw myself head first into it.

In comes Todd Herman and the 90 day year.

I put his systems in place in my business, and then my training and home life got wrapped into it as well. Overwhelm comes up when I think  I’m good enough to leave the system. If I simply wake up, meditate, eat, plan my day, block and tackle, prioritize tasks, do the hard stuff first, and run on 90 day year cycle I have set up for myself via the 90DY, I chug chug chug away at life, training, business, etc. and overwhelm isn’t a part of my life. When my systems get breeched…  I get overwhelmed and then #1 and #2 start directing the lifetime mini-series. “Sonja…overwhelmed to death…. my life as a Lifetime movie”

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Todd is in the middle of his big June launch. He’s actually sharing so much of his content that I had to pay to see a year ago. I can’t imagine what he’s creating for us after the doors close, since he has already made public so much of what contributes to my current systems. Excite. If you want to watch, here:

OW vs WOW Video

90 Day Engine Video

8 Phase Plan video

His field reports page

I run my life, training, business, etc on 90 day cycles now. I even put together the most BADASS planner for myself to help. Todd’s work on “context switching” is one of the most rockin’ business educational pieces I have ever received. In July I head to New York City to work in a small group with Todd for 24 hours. It’s a different kind of endurance event!

So, what landed me crying in my therapist on Monday? I had let my systems go for a few days, was winging it, and running after all the little to dos in life. I was letting the finer details scream at my perfectionist gene and I was contemplating dropping out of my races this year because I don’t have time to train 25-30 hours a week any more. Seems silly when I write it, but when my fear and perfectionist minds are barking their heads off AND I ditch my systems, this is what results. At the end of that session we had quieted the perfection brain, it was already lighting up with things that I needed to punt and hadn’t. My fear brain was reminded of the very recent talk with Coach Muddy and how our relationship is more than coach athlete at this point. He’s a father figure, and a mentor whom I can lean on regardless of training hours.

And I came home, logged in to Trello (I heart you Trello) reprioritized my control panel (death to the to do list….I work with a control panel these days) and I got the heck on with things.

It’s not about the falling down, we are all falling down often, it’s about having the quickest and most efficient method to get back up. The fall is inevitable, but learning how to limit the time you are laying on the floor…that’s the secret sauce…

I’m a triathlete/entrepreneur…who knew?

Wow, what I ride I’ve been on this last year. So this triathlon blog has really taken a hit these last few years. It started as a mommy blog, then took a left turn into triathlon land, and Ironman! I think I said pretty much all there is to say about triathlon/Ironman over the years, maybe there are a few more nuggets in there that I can continue to explore, but yet again I find that my life has taken a turn.

I started a business a year ago! YAY Business! After 2014 and 2nd in Kona, Coach Muddy and I agreed that 2015 would be a no Kona year. I had been pushing my body really hard for 5 years and it was time for a break if we were going to go for the top spot on the podium.

The problem is, I don’t really know what a break is. I didn’t realize it at the time, that I was actually incapable of a true “break.” I heard “break” and thought about all the things on my bucket list that weren’t an option when I was chasing Kona. The first thing was starting an official coaching business. I actually wanted to start a business that built a mental skills training program (which I will do soon as part of RTTC), but as with business, ideas morph and change, they grow and double, and intertwine.

There were also things like Norseman and more 100 mile run races on the list too. I didn’t even dare ask muddy about a 100 miler! haha! I checked off Norseman last year, it was a wild experience, as you might have read about here. I had a magical day at Ironman Lake Tahoe and an awesome sufferfest at Ironman Los Cabos. All really cool experiences on less training than I was used to (but apparently enough..who knew?). I really had to rely on my wisdom!

I got a few of those bucket list items checked off, but really, something else emerged, a passion, a passion for business… yea, it shocked me too! I don’t have a single entrepreneur in my family that I know of. I come from a long line of people with jobs. Educations, and jobs. Not businesses. I had no idea what I was doing.

Starting a business has been a challenge like nothing I have ever been through, in the best of ways. Granted, I have gained some weight (insulation) and a year later I’m just now starting to get a handle on how to train and be an entrepreneur at the same time (a true lesson in self compassion) but wow have I learned so much, and here’s what I realized… I love business! I really love the business aspect of the coaching world. I love interacting with other business owners, especially in the coaching space (whether it’s life coaching, nutrition coaching, or sports coaching) and I really enjoy Vanilla Flavored Tootsie Rolls putting the pieces of a new business together (sorry, my mind wandered there…squirrel…), the products, the systems, the social media, the value adds, all that wild stuff.

So I look at this blog and I think…. does anyone want to hear about the triathlete turned entrepreneur? Are there other triathlete/entrepreneurs out there who are juggling similar balls? (Where are you friends, I need you) Are they still training at a high level? Most people I have talked to say it’s not really possible, but I’ve never listened to the “not possibles.” I love this sport so much and really don’t want it to take a back seat in my life.

Another thing I know, my new coaching company Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching, has the best atheltes. Sorry folks, it’s true, in one short year this tribe has amazed the heck out of me. And when I sit back and think that it wouldn’t actually be a TRIBE if I hadn’t stepped off the safe and manageable ledge, I get pretty proud. As I step more and more out of a one on one coaching and move into creating systems and training for new atheltes and new coaches the RTTC atheltes have supported our wonky little business (not actually wonky or little) tirelessly. Have I been in over my head at times? Absolutely. Have I worked my way out of it? Every Time! Yes, I pulled some all nighters, and yes I crashed two computers along the way, but hey, go big or go home!

So, if you all are game (and if not, you can just quietly float on to the next blog) for me transitioning this blog as my life has yet again transitioned, well, I would like to continue being vulnerable out there on the internet…and continue telling it like it really is. After all, I have always had the heart of a teacher, and there is just too many great ahh-hahs these days that I want to share.

One year in this business and here’s what I can say. This shit is hard, it’s really hard, and just like training for an Ironman, it’s really awesome too. The work is never ending, it requires a boatload of ACTION. Unlike training for Ironman where you go do the workouts on the training plan and then you are DONE, and can go relax, in business the workouts never end! You have to chunk it up for yourself, and that’s HARD!

I hope this blog can still provide some laughs and maybe some poop stories too…you all seem to love those! I’m headed back to Kona again this year, and I honestly have NO IDEA how I’m going to get in good enough shape to compete there, but I will tell you this, I have faith.

Faith in myself, faith in my tribe and my support network, and faith that I can figure shit out. I’m still learning, and I know that this year will deliver some hefty lessons (I’m going to fall on my face more than a few times), but I’m more excited and alive than I have ever been!

Onwards…

P.S. Why oh why do we not have a female triathlon coaches symposium, or association, or at least a flipping webinar series?? Am I right?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

Complete Blog Failure

Much like my training this season so far, my blog had a MAJOR meltdown in the beginning of 2016. It all started a month or so ago when I decided it could use a redesign. The old template had seen better days and I needed a new look to get inspired to start writing again. I hired someone at first, that didn’t work out in the slightest. I put together my own redesign and was pleasantly happy.

Then one day WordPress asked me to update to the newest WordPress software. My blog is hosted through BlueHost, and I clicked the button to update, like I have done for 6 years now, and it took down my blog (first time in 10 years). Like total system failure, I couldn’t even log into my blog dashboard. It was GONE. And I had just posted about Grandpa Joe, our new, awesome, really old, runs great, burgundy Volvo.

I begged my Rising Tide website design team to help me get my blog back going and in a few hours they had it back up. Except my last back up was back in early January, pre redesign, pre Grandpa Joe post. But the blog was not dead so I was happy.

On my (really long) to do list was the task to redesign the blog again, and oh yea, figure out how to update the WordPress software that crashed everything in the first place. But, I had massive coaching work and a trip to Costa Rica planned. So I couched it.

Fast forward to today. I get an email from Bluehost that they are deactivating my site due to a Terms of Service Violation and something about my site causing performance problems. It was a very scary email and my site was down (second time in 10 years).  I call customer service, wait for 38 minutes for my call to be taken and I find out that my spam comments are taking up too much server time, so they took me down. He runs some code, deletes my pending comments and I’m back up and running.  He also upsells me into purchasing my own server space rather than sharing like I have been, something about speed, Site Lock, and this Backup PRO product that will help me …I fork over the CC.

I get logged in to see what’s up and over the course of an hour I figure out that ever since the first time my blog went down about 14 days ago, I have been getting 2,000 spam comments a day, and my blog has been approving them rather than marking them as spam. Even though my spam plugins are activated….literally there are 21,000 brand new spam comments all over my blog…watches, porn, viagra, seo optimization, handbags, you name it!

I start the process of hand deleting the comments, 100 at a time, any more and my blog crashes. The backup PRO software I purchased from Bluehost doesn’t seem to be working so I call customer service again. 58 minutes of hold time and I’m connected. Because I now have my own server space the Backup PRO app thingee doesn’t work, so I have to do a manual backup and if I need to restore from the backup, I have to call customer service, that’s what I’m told. I make a backup.

I continue to delete the comments until they are all gone, 3 hours later. I update all my plugins, delete all the excess themes, make sure everything is ship shape, and I go make another backup of my blog…manually. I now push the dreaded button to update the WordPress version, and boom, white screen of death, blog completely wiped again, dashboard gone, blog gone.

I call customer service to restore the backup. On hold for 49 minutes, but the dude I get is good. He restores my blog, it works and none of the evil deleted comments come back. We deactivate all plugins, and change my blog to a generic “can’t go wrong” template. We hit the WordPress update button (AKA the button of death) AND IT WORKS. I cry a little tear. Then we change my blog back to my template and it crashes. So, I figure out that my tried and true, old, trustworthy template is now an out of date, not maintained, POC. I stay with the generic template while we update every plugin and reactivate every plug in. Ahhh, it works.

Then the customer service rep transfers me to billing to get the charge removed for the Backup PRO I got upsold, 24 minutes later I get a guy who is actually “contract breaches” not “billing” so he transfers me to billing, more holding and 29 minutes later I get billing, who reverses the charge in about 22 seconds.

After that I sit down and redesign my blog, it’s easier because I find the template I used before the initial crash and am able to get it back going again with some enhancements….like the fancy rolling sponsor area, and my favorite font Montserrat. Mmmmm, I heart Montserrat.

So, all in all, I learned tons, cried a few times, banged my head on the table, got a headache (no connection there), spent about 3+ hours on hold with Bluehost (seems a bit uncool), lost an entire day of work productivity (I’m so sorry athletes), AND didn’t train. BUT, I have a blog that is up and running. It’s on current software, it’s happy, spam comment free (for now), new designed template, and ready for some serious words to get thrown down.

Whew!

 

 

A New Year….whew

The last few days all I could think about was getting rid of 2015. I just could not wait for it to be over and done with. I didn’t blog much in 2015, there is a whole Ironman I haven’t written up, #15, and a doozy with lots of juicy details.

What went well last year? So much! I launched a business! Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching is going strong! It’s interesting, there really aren’t any entrepreneurs in my family, not a one. I come from a long line of carreer oriented individuals, a strong focus was always put on education. When I wanted to switch my major to anthropology in college there was a swift and resounding “absolutely not” and on to mathematics I went. I was getting Cs in my math classes at the time, but it was better than I was doing in the engineering classes. Ha! My second two years of college I found the As in math and really fell in love with pure mathematics. None of it prepaired me for entrepreneurship though. I would say the best education for that was my triathlon experiences. 

Starting a business is about wearing a million different hats and solving a million different problems. One minute you are sitting in a lawyers office, the next you are designing inspirational quotes in Canva. You move from thing to thing seamlessly and quickly after awhile. And most of the progress comes from sitting down and getting busy with work. No time to feel stuck or doddle. You gotta jump in, dive in! 

I don’t remember much of the year to be honest. There were countless days where I was up until 2 or 3am trying to finish something huge. I’ve had to learn how to not finish my to do list and often there are 30 little 2 hour tasks left on it for another day. I have struggled with balance more this year than any other and when it came down to it, I just worked longer and harder day in and day out to make it all happen. And I’m a little tired.

So, what did we get done? Well! I went from a team of one, to a team of four. I have three other beautiful souls who are using RTTC to grow and market their personal expertise within the sport. That feels awesome, to be able to create that opportunity for others. We have a group of talented and amazing athletes on board this year. Each of our coaches play a part in each athletes experience so it feels good to watch our athletes get support from so much expertise! I can’t wait to see what other coaches come onboard this year. 

I built some super duper robust systems. From our public facing website complete with a full line up of apparel, to our back end members only athlete portal stacked with oodles of resources for the athletes, I’ve spent a lot if time on the computer. Business these days is about online systems and I went full in with CRM software, online accounting, billing, and payment processing. Lots of back-end programming. We systemized the getting started process and made it truly seamless for the athlete.

I did all that so I would have time for athlete communication. Coaches spend a lot of time doing work that the athlete barely sees or notices so I tried to systemize as much of that as I could so that time could be opend up down the line for work with the athletes. I also wanted to create an environment where our coaches can spend their time growing their expertise and working with athletes.

I also did a soft launch and a hard launch of our business model and ran a free 10-day challenge for athletes to be of service and introduce our business in the market. Those tasks each took hundreds of hours to develop and roll out and I spent the better part of September-December knee deep in those tasks. Oh yea, and I ran a 2X a month webinar called IronMind, which will become something bigger in 2016. Whew, typing that made me tired! 

All if this requires so much vulnerability. It’s funny, when I was staying small with my coaching, people were constantly trying to get in with me. When I spent my life building a better coaching product then opened that to the world, the dynamic changed. I had to explain my coaching philosophy and process over and over, new for me. So many lessons learned! The fastest way to personal growth is through starting a business!

On the personal front, I did three Ironmans in three months in the middle of all this. I relied deeply on last years strong depth of fitness, as you can tell by some pretty nontypical run times off the bike for me. It was always the plan to step back this year and I really got lucky at Tahoe with a strong block just before the race that got me back to being able to put in a strong one day performance. Norseman was all pneumonia and Los Cabos was the most I have suffered in and ironman other that Norseman. Los Cabos showed me that my past fitness was pretty used up, and reminded me that it’s time to get training harder.

As I write all of this I realize that I want 2015 gone because it was a year where I suffered in so many different ways. The biggest suffering was emotional, losing some relationships that I can’t talk about but are probably the reason why I threw myself so deeply into creating a business, so I wouldn’t be left alone with my thoughts (don’t try this at home). These are always the biggest wounds, aren’t they? I’m still trying to get over this hurdle and one thing I’m learning is that going through life means picking up a lot of wounds and healing them into scars. Some things just never fully heal, and that’s called being human and living.

So what does 2016 hold? Ooh, I’m excited. I went ahead and planned the whole year. The trips are all set in stone which feels really exciting. 

January: I’m headed to complete the Dopey Challenge in Disney world (5k, 10k, 13.1, 26.2 all on consecutive days) 

February: we are headed to Costa Rica as a family with friends to vacation, learn to surf, meet sloths and go zip lining. 

March: We are headed to Moab with tons of RTTC athletes to run the Canyonlands 13.1 and the the following week we host the first RTTC training camp in Denver which is lining up to be awesome (fun to fast is our 2016 motto).

April: I’m headed back to Boston with Mikki and to meet up with many Coeur ladies to run “the marathon” and I CAN NOT WAIT.

May: I’m traveling to Santa Barbara with a group of ladies who do not swim bike or run to do a women’s retreat to keep me sane and moving in a positive direction emotionally. After that I’m off to IM Texas to coach the athletes we have racing the season opener. 

June: I’m staying home this month, hunkering down and training.

July: I’m headed to San Jose for training camp and the Vineman 70.3 and then off to Tahoe for more training and the Trans Tahoe relay with the dolphin pod. After that I’m off to IM Whistler to coach our athletes who are racing.

August: I’m cheering and coaching at our local Ironman Boulder and then headed to Timberman to race with Amy Farrell, first time since Kona 2014. 

September: I’m excited to head to the mountains to take on the first ever Dillon Half IM and later in the month off to IM Chattanooga to coach our athletes who are racing.

October: the big dance, off for Kona #6 for me and with 4 of our athletes who are already qualified. After Kona, I’m traveling to Greenville to experience the Hincapie Gran Fondo, should be good times!

November: I wouldn’t miss IMAZ for the world, headed there to yell at Mikki and chase her around the course on my scooter.

December: The big plan is to head to Columbia for the Cartegena 70.3. New passport stamp and adventure!

2016 also holds a return to training consistently, and getting outside doing what I love. I’ve missed it and find my computer screen a crapy replacement. I’m hoping for lots of mini-adventures around Colorado this year, along with lots of swimming with my dolphin pod. 

Also, 2016 must include better work life separation and harmony, I’ve got some work to do healing my heart this year and that just can’t be done if I don’t give myself some breathing room and thinking time. So that’s a big focus for the year.

I wish you all much success in 2016, hoping that you paused at the end of 2015 to take stalk, celebrate the success of the year and are now looking forward with hope and positivity. My wish for you is a life filled with adventure, whatever that looks like for you, kindness, both towards yourself and others, and a splash of adversity, because it’s our greatest teacher and yields all the good juicy stuff. 

Happy New Year!

Emotional, Smart and Creative

Untitled design (1)This week has been a whirlwind. Lots of leaps of faith taken this week. We launched IronTide and now have 14 (yes I couldn’t figure out how to close at 10 people and watched the registrations flow in as I was figuring out how to close it). It’s closed now, and I think the universe had my back because each of the last 4 people are people I need in my life! Who knew?

Troy is traveling for work this week and I don’t know about you if you are married, but sometimes we have the best conversations on the phone. We chat like we are teenagers. I was telling him about the success we had with launching IronTide and he was telling me about some recent work successes. We were discussing our differences in personality. See, Troy and I started our relationship off in the same room. We were both incoming PhD students in Mathematics at CU..neither of us got PhDs. It’s a really hard long process and neither of us cut it quite frankly! Our first few years we learned a lot about each others learning and working styles as we attended the same graduate classes, shared an office, and TAed calculus together. Troy and I would do mathematical proofs and I would work them from one end, and he would work them from the opposite direction. We literally would come to the same conclusions from opposite directions. It was almost frustrating at the time because we could hardly follow each others logic.

When we got into the job market, Troy soared. He is cool calm collected, professional, smart, creative. I was energetic, emotional, connected, smart and creative. I remember getting an evaluation at one of my jobs and it was one of those 360 degree things where everybody talks about you from their point of view. I remember sitting in the back yard reading that thing with tears streaming down my face as I got chastised and criticized for being too emotional. The smart and the creative, either I wasn’t showing it, or they weren’t seeing it. All they said was emotional, emotional, emotional.

I remember a few months prior to that evaluation sitting in a meeting where one of the bosses was going to town on one of the other individuals in the meeting. It was heated, and heavy, and the tension was thick. The individual getting it handed to her started crying and because she started crying I did too. I’m an empathetic cryer. I knew that was going to come back and bite me.

I never recovered from that evaluation. I left the job not long after to a job I could do easily, got pregnant with Annie and nine months later had Annie and didn’t go back to work, never to return. I definitely felt like I left corporate America looking like a dog with her tail between her legs. Just too emotional.

Why am I telling this story? Well, today when I was discussing what I have built in Rising Tide, the behind the scenes stuff, Troy sat there, listened, and said….you are so smart and creative.

And a lightbulb went off.

Coaching is the one place I have found where first and foremost I must use my emotional strength. Being invested and caring, showing empathy, being in someones corner, being concerned with how athletes are feeling through the process, that’s my superpower. It really is. I love it, and it’s that same power that was shot down and criticized in that consulting position. Yes, I might not have harnessed it the best back then, but this is where a little nurture could have created an asset for my previous employer.

Here’s the kicker though, with the emotional side of me FINALLY at work, I’ve been able to bring out the smart and creative side. It’s like it was only possible when I was fully able to lean into my superpower.

The other Ahh-hah I had was that it was hard for me to know what I was really meant to build and create for my life when I had a lot of people telling me what I should do. I am sensitive to external expectations, VERY sensitive. When I was busy trying to fulfill other peoples agendas, there was no way I could soul search enough to figure out my own agenda. This year has really been all about that. What do I want to build and create, who do I want to share knowledge with, and what needs to happen for me to answer those questions?

I’m thankful to finally feel like I am on my own path. It’s hard, I choose it that way, but it’s worth it and I feel like it’s taking everything I’ve got…in a good way!

Thank you to the amazing, talented athletes that have joined my RTTC family this week, and also to the athletes that have been with me for the RIDE.

From here…we keep truckin’!!

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Ironman Tahoe – A Run I’ll Never Forget

I get out and running on the course and suddenly there is a guy on a bike with me. I asked if he was my lead biker and he said “are you Sonja Weeeek” and I said “yes” and he said, “then yes.” I was pretty excited about this!

The first mile was very twisty-turny as we wound through the village area, past the finish line, around the parking lots and finally onto the bike path headed towards squaw city. It was really strange to have him calling out to people ahead asking them to move aside. I felt bad about it. They were farther into the run than me, I could go around them.

I was running too fast in the beginning, I knew it while I was doing it, but the adrenaline really got to me. And you have a lead biker, which kinda feels like pressure! Going into this race, because it was last minute, Muddy and I talked and I really didn’t want him to support me much out there. He had other athletes who this was their A race, and even though we both have a lot of fun with the coach/athlete relationship during races I knew his focus needed to be on others. I asked if he could sick Doug on me.

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Who’s Doug!? Well, in 2013 I trained a ton with Doug, he’s coached by Muddy, and he’s one of my favs. In 2013 at IM Tahoe he was racing and I was coaching/spectating/yelling at people. Well, Doug was having a great race but I happened upon him walking, at which point I became his worst nightmare. He did not walk another step after I harassed him into running and continued to torment him for the rest of the race. He was coming to Tahoe to unleash his payback on me! I say this in jest because Doug was my saving grace out there. He appeared every few miles with a calm look on his face. He gave me information, splits, and support when I needed it and was the friendly face I hoped to see around every corner. He didn’t yell at me, he just provided that calm collected support.

I was running and looking for Doug. The first time I saw him was just before mile 2 and he told me I had a 13:57 lead. He literally said “thirteen fifty seven lead.” I gave him a confused look. Like 13 minutes? I asked him, he said yes, and told me Annie had won her wave. I had a fist pump for that. I ran the next few miles thinking about 13 minutes and envisioning my daughter winning her wave.

I know that deficits like that get run down, but in the moment I was wondering what I should be thinking about with that information. Do you play it safe? Take some risks? What do I do? I kept running, that was my plan.

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It was hot out. Not a cloud was in the sky and Tahoe is dry dry dry. I tried to keep drinking as much as I could. That was my goal, get the OSMO down in large quantities. At mile four I came across Muddy and he told me Rob was up ahead. YAY Rob! I soon saw him and pulled up beside him. He had the best words for me, and he ran with me for a little while. That was a highlight of my day.

At mile 4-5ish we left the 70.3 course for a 10 mile out and back section. Muddy was there and so was Doug. Muddy told me I needed to take my own split at the out and back because nobody was going to follow me out there. Doug told me I had a 17 minute lead. I got on the out and back and it was desolate. Totally desolate.

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But I had my biker. He had spent most the time after mile 1 behind me. He said something about not going in front of me because I wasn’t allowed to draft and so he stayed behind. I secretly was bummed about this. On the out and back he came up beside me and I told him I really liked that. He said “I don’t think this is pacing so I’ll stay here for a little while.” I was thankful for that. There were sections of this course where I couldn’t see anyone ahead for as far as I could see.

Eventually the lead men started coming back the other way and I got excited for them. They all looked strong. I came across my friend Eric who had passed me on the bike. I knew he wanted a Kona spot so I tried to convince him to run with me. We ran together for a little while and chatted. He’s a big dude and the heat ate him up a little out there. He will get there though, definitely has the talent!

At the turn around at mile 9.25 I looked at my watch so I could take a split and then spent my time looking for the number two woman. Every time I would make it another quarter mile I would look at my watch. I set a secret goal to hit the mile 11 marker before I saw #2 and it was right there that she went by looking quite fierce I might add. I had a 24 minute lead at mile 11. I then spent several miles thinking about how many minutes per mile I could slow down if she was running 7 min pace and still win. Math while racing is hard and I eventually gave up.

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Thinking back, I would have thought that this would have provided me with a lot of comfort, knowing I had a big lead. But it didn’t. I was nervous. I know that anything can happen out there and I’ve watched people go from leading an Ironman to in the ambulance in a matter of miles. I found myself to be super outcome focused (winning) rather than being process focused (doing my best). In retrospect I’m glad for that experience. Glad to know that’s where my head went in this situation, and excited to be able to work on that area of mental skills. Outcome focused is not a place I enjoy racing in, so I have some work to do there.

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I made it back to town around mile 17. I had slowed down quite a bit, and my feet hurt. I was feeling pretty dehydrated, and hot, and yet the crowd in town really lifted me up. The second loop is 8 or 9 miles and started with a few miles of downhill. I loved those miles. The course was mostly all Ironman athletes at this point and I remember hearing Elizabeth (new RTTC athlete) cheering for me which really gave a boost. Doug was still there at every junction giving the smiles and cheers I needed.

Most of that last loop is a blur but I do remember running into my friend Sean who said something to the effect of “Who’s that sexy woman winning an Ironman.” He sure knows how to talk to a girl who is covered in spit, snot, urine, sweat, salt, other peoples spit, other peoples snot….you get my drift!  I was thankful for the hilarity he provided. The final turn around on that loop was heaven. I was so excited to be heading home. The number 2 woman was putting time into me.

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Doug told me at mile 22 or 23 that I had a 21 minute lead. I started doing the math and knew then that something major had to happen to lose. But it was late in the race and I was tired and moving slowly. I made my way and before I knew it I had 1 mile to go.

Suddenly, I had all the energy in the world. I had pretty much ignored my lead biker for 25 miles but suddenly I was telling him my life story, and thanking him for being there for me. I was all jibber jabber and I could hear everyone around me saying “That’s the winner” and “shes in the lead” My biker went in front of me and as we wound through the crowd in town I was overjoyed. Rob (who I ran with earlier) and his wife Trina and their friends were leaning over a balcony that I ran under and seeing them got me really happy. Tony and Jody were there too and I was overjoyed to see them. The biker peeled off and suddenly there I was in the chute and they had a finish banner all held out like I was a PRO or something.

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The guy was announcing just like all the Ironmans I had watched and the crowd was totally there for me. I high fived as many people as I could and I broke the tape (what?) and tried to jump. Then I tried to jump again. It was a finish worthy of two jumps.

 

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The rest was a bit of a blur but I the one moment I remember is looking through the crowd behind the finish line for Muddy and seeing him standing on a little cement wall. We made eye contact and I pointed at him and we just smiled.

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Then the announcer asked if I would be willing to go back into the crowd and answer some questions. I said sure. This is all right away. I remember very little but I do remember him asking me if I ever thought I would win an Ironman.

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And the only reason I tell this story, is honestly, because someone told one of my friends that I didn’t seem very humble in this moment. So, I’m going here. (It’s uncomfortable though)

So I get asked this question by the announcer….did I think I could win?…and I pause. In my excited state I’m thinking “how do I answer this?” Honest or Demure….how does one go here? During the pause I can hear people in the crowd, I think half of them are my fellow Muddy athletes like Jenesse and Alli yelling “YES!!!” and I decided to say “Yes, you have to believe to achieve.”

 

It’s so interesting to me that I got the “not very humble” comments for this, not to my face, but in that lovely “I was taking to so and so and …” kind of way. A few weeks ago I sent out a survey to triathletes, anonymous, asking if I could give them a special magical gift as a coach, what would it be? Do you know the number one answer?

Confidence.

So, I have to, as a coach, bring some light to this issue, not because I’m upset that someone thinks I’m not humble, but because there is a bit of an interesting standard here, and as a coach, I jump at teachable moments. Many athletes, especially women, are out there wishing they had more confidence, says the data. But I ask myself, what does confidence look like? Sometimes, it looks like thinking you can win. Me thinking I could win wasn’t a pie in the sky idea, I have won the amateur race at two Ironmans. If that doesn’t build the confidence for me to think I can win what would? I’ll actually go out on a limb here and say that in order to actually win, thinking you can win is both wanted and necessary. But here comes the kicker, are you allowed to say that? If you speak that truth (the truth that is absolutely necessary) are you now a pompous ass hat? It’s my opinion that we need to celebrate women who show confidence, especially in sport. One of the big reasons why I think women don’t believe in themselves is because they are afraid of being judged as arrogant, or implied that they shouldn’t have said such a statement, like I said. In fact, when I first started working with Muddy he told me the reason I wasn’t reaching my potential was because I didn’t believe in myself. The truth is I was a people pleasing mo-fo, constantly scared of criticism and judgement, and hustling for my worthiness. We worked on that for years. One thing I have learned is that with confidence and success comes criticism….not the possibility of criticism, the certainty of criticism.

And from the always awesome BB:

“If you’re going to show up and be seen, there is only one guarantee, and that is, you will get your ass kicked … That’s the only certainty you have. If you’re going to go in the arena and spend any time in there whatsoever, especially if you’ve committed to creating in your life, you will get your ass kicked …”   –Brene Brown

Okay, rant over!

I waited for 2nd and 3rd to come through the finish and Korbel was there asking us to do a champagne spray. I can definitely check that one off my bucket list. I always wondered if after those champagne spray situations people smelled like booze. The answer is yes, yes you do. My finisher medal STILL smells like champagne. I have to give a huge thank you to the ladies I shared the podium with. I enjoyed getting to know them after the race, great ladies!

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The rest of the evening was awesome. I watched as two of my athletes became Ironman finishers once again. I shared drinks and food and celebration with many friends, and I went to sleep that evening knowing that I had raced an Ironman from start to nearly finish with pure joy in my heart. Okay, there were some dicy moments in that run, but for the most part, I felt very thankful for this awesome adventurous life.

Thank you to my amazing sponsors, you have been awesome this year at letting me explore my boundaries, and infuse more fun into the sport. Thank you Coeur, Tribella, QR, Osmo, LifeBeam, Honey Stinger, Punk Rock Racing, and YAY!

Huge thank you to Muddy for the whole enchilada. There are no words. Thank you Troy and Annie for always being there for me through thick and thin.

Also, big thank you to Doug for the on course support and Anthony for being my travel buddy on this trip (and Mo and Jody, an Mik and Audra and Brian)

And lastly thank you to Audra and Mikki, my fellow Rising Tide coaches. This trip was amazing with the both of you. I’m so grateful you are in my life.

I’m really sad that Ironman Lake Tahoe is now a discontinued race. Ironman did not renew the contract and I understand why. In three years, they got one successful year. That’s a hard business venture. I am so thankful to the communities we visited, the friends I made in the area, and the locals hospitality. Next year, although a race won’t be happening, I’ll still be out there training for Kona on the course, and making more sweet memories.

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Ironman Tahoe – The Bike Course I Have Been Waiting For

So, the Tahoe Bike, I was in 6th and 6 minutes down. We got going and it was cold, but not 2013 cold, just a little bite to the air. As I have said a million times I was really excited to ride the course. It’s 2.5 loops and the first section you will end up riding 3 times before T2. This section was fast, and fun and is punctuated with a little hill they call Dollar Hill. It’s fun because the first loop I was like “yay dollar hill” and then the third loop I was like “YAY DOLLAR HILL”

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My friends Michael and Brandon were on Dollar hill and I knew they would be. I was stoked to see them and had nothing but smiles and joy. They were cheering up a storm with loud booming voices and I felt just like they did! Dollar Hill was the first time I noticed that my rear wheel was rubbing on my frame. This became a fun game for me. If I pedaled really stable and stayed in aero, it wouldn’t rub. If I got out of the saddle or let my core relax, it rubbed. I thought about why it might be happening when it wasn’t the day before and deduced that it was because my tires were at 115psi and that expansion made my wheel rub.

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After Dollar Hill I got back in aero and worked on pushing the next section of the race. There is a lot of flat and downhill on this course and that’s a strong area for me, especially since I haven’t been in the mountains as much this year. One thing I know I’m good at is getting in aero, finding that uncomfortably comfortable place, and just nailing it. Very little movement in my body, glued to my bike in aero, staying squarely in the moment. I almost crave race day for this very opportunity, it’s almost meditative for me, that pure focus on the moment.

The vally between Tahoe City and Truckee was cold. I got cold, my hands got cold, and my feet got cold. Luckily I don’t seem to get aggravated by the cold. Everything for me goes a bit numb and less functional, but it’s not painful for me. I know others experience different reactions, some get the shakes, some get very painful coldness. I just go numb. And sometimes I ride too hard because my legs are numb and I can’t quite tap into them.

I was just happy. Through Truckee it was awesome, lots of cheering and it’s the cutest mountain town. Then we were onto the new out and back section that they added. I loved the edition. On the way out it was road, then we climbed and got onto a bike path. We had a fun descent then it was bike path on the way back and was super fun to race down. There was very little passing in this section. Although I did get passed by Ciaran to which he said “Sonja your wheel is rubbing” to which I said “I know”…hahahah!

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Because of the big week of training my heart rate was nice and behaved. It wasn’t spiking when I got excited, and I didn’t spend a lot of time looking at it, I just checked in every once in awhile. Thank you tame heart rate!

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Then we got to the big daddy climb up Brockway. In years past training on this course and getting ready for Kona I have had some wild experiences on Brockway and I’ll tell you about a few. One time (at training camp) I rode up Brockway at 255 watts, at 5 beats below my Ironman heart rate (what what?!). For those of you in the know, this is really huge wattage for someone my size. It was nothing for me on that day, I could do no wrong, I remember thinking I was the queen of the world that day.

Another day I was kaput and I remember riding up Brockway and my watts were 117 and I was at Ironman heart rate. Quite the opposite situation. This particular day I was about to start crying (my go to reaction when I need rest from the training…took years to figure this out) and I remember riding up Brockway saying to myself “Damn it Sonja, do not cry. Whatever you do…do. not. cry….look at those trees, those are damn beautiful trees…it is gorgeous here…don’t you dare cry, be thankful, your life is great…don’t you dare shed one tear.” I talked to myself this way all the way up Brockway. Coach was at the top and I pulled in, not crying, holding it in, keeping my cool. I was way behind the group and he looked at me and said “you okay kid?”

to which….I lost it….balling. I was good until he asked! I still remember him taking my bike and telling me to get in the truck, then he put my bike in the back, got in the drivers side, and said “kid, just let it out”

So yes, I have MAD CRAZY memories of riding up Brockway Pass. On this day, I smiled. Coach was half way up the pass cheering, he told me I was in 3rd, and 1 minute down to first. And then he told me that Annie was out of the water 2nd in her wave. And I looked at him like “what?” and he was like “Annie, your daughter.”

That floored me. My daughter decided last minute to race a kids tri the day that I raced Tahoe. It gutted me that I couldn’t’ be there to see her race. Gutted me! In fact, the entire dolphin pod knew I was gutted so they all went to the race and cheered for her….for me… (typing that makes me cry). Muddy had talked to Troy and he kept me updated on Annies race the whole time I was racing. I think some of you moms who race triathlon can feel me here when I say this was one of the most special things someone has done for me. Thanks Mud!

That news added to my joy. As far as how I rode up Brockway…easy. On a course with two major climbs you don’t make your moves on the climbs. You make them on the downs and flats, so I rode up like I was out for a social ride, and I took it all in. Because there was no pro field when I passed my way into second woman literally half the spectators screamed “Second Woman, she’s right there.” For a few miles I had to say “yes, thank you, yes thank you, yes, i know, thank you” It was awesome. So many thank yous!

Once down Brockway on the flat again I passed into first with a “rock on” and just kinda thought about that for a second. No pro field I know, but it felt special, I won’t lie.

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When I went up dollar hill the second time, this time leading the women’s race, Brandon and Michael were screaming up a storm. That made me feel awesome. After I saw them it was business time. From then on, for the rest of the race, it was heads down, balls to the wall. I was in the front of the race, and people were very spread out, so I rode for miles without seeing another person on the course. When I stopped into special needs to replace all of my bottles with fresh bottles I let some air out of my tire. That fixed the wheel rub for the most part. Sweet!

When I went by Squaw vally, I was going about 30mph and coach was on the side of the road and all I could hear was him yelling F-bombs. He does that when he gets happy! He’ll yell “F*$& Yea” and it always makes me laugh!

The last loop I put my head down and enjoyed the pain. My body had thawed and I could really TT it out and feel every sensation in my body. That is why I love Ironman, you are stripped down to the feeling of the movement. It was my favorite part of the day. Climbing Brockway a second time I took it all in, absorbed the beauty around me, and pushed a little harder. The third time up dollar hill my friends were gone and that got me excited. I knew all the spectators were making their way up to Squaw to cheer on the runners and I couldn’t’ wait to get there.

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The last 4 miles, and this ALWAYS happens in Ironman…. all the familiar faces from the bike reconvene. It’s so funny but you make friends out there even if you don’t talk. You go back and forth with people and you know them from what they are wearing. Then you drop some people or they drop you, but it always ends up that the last 4 miles everyone comes back together. Like magnets.

Up to squaw I could see there were lots of people on the course doing the 70.3, lots of spectators, lots of fun! All the 70.3 athletes were out on the run and my first thoughts were on Anthony and Jody who raced (they both rocked, Jody got a worlds slot, Anthony was 2nd overall and won his AG). I was excited to get running myself.

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Into T2 I ran into the tent and most the 70.3 racers had transitioned so the tent had 2 athletes in it. The volunteers were standing in there and I could tell they weren’t going to help me at all. They were checking their phones and hanging out, lounging, not concerned with the athletes at all, which is cool, no judging! Haha! I came in yelling “LET’S GO LADIES, I’M THE FIRST WOMAN OFF THE BIKE, I NEED HELP” they all kinda jumped up and sprang to action. I think I scared them. In fact I know I scared them! Transition was really quick and I was off and running. Thank you volunteers!! Sorry for the scare!