A Different Kind of Race…

As I look back at my posts from last year I realize how often I would update the loving people in my life about my racing adventures. This year has definitely been different. Not different in a bad way, but different in the sense of learning, growing, and overcoming. Often times when we hear “different” we immediately think it is something negative. Different isn’t always easy, but sometimes essential for self discovery.

The last post I made was about this insane seven stage triathlon I did in September. When I finished that race I was extremely tired…more than usual. I knew I had taxed my body with three half ironmans, an Olympic and sprint tri, and then ending with a very challenging endeavor (the SOS triathlon). But this tiredness lasted. As excited as I was for my training to begin again in November, my body wasn’t.

Here is my attempt of a month-by-month play-by-play of joy, love, loss, uncertainty, fun, disappointment, and self-discovery…

 

September 2015:

  • Start my 7th year as a teacher (wild!)
  • A dear dear friend loses her amazing father suddenly. Think of all of you every single day.
  • Complete the SOS triathlon (piece of cake)
  • Friends wedding.
  • Blood work begins to figure out my exhaustion.
  • The sudden loss of a dear friend/neighbor/teammate and coach. I think of you everyday Mikey and still have your pull buoy that you gave me years ago when I started doing triathlons. You are my inspiration every time I go for a swim.

October 2015:

  • Off-season!
  • Another friends wedding.
  • Reconnecting with my self.

November 2015:

  • Dinner with a new friend (little did I know how amazing that night would be).
  • Another friends wedding!
  • 10 year High School reunion.
  • Start training for Ironman Boulder in August 2016.
  • Swim team season begins.
  • I get sick for the first, but not last, time this winter.

December 2015:

  • Swim team in full swing
  • Get sick again (twice this month)
  • Running is challenging, can’t get heart rate down.
  • Dating a wonderful woman, learning about my own happiness.
  • Brothers in for Christmas (yay!).

January 2016:

  • Asked to be one of my dear friends maid of honor.
  • Swim team!!
  • Busy training, teaching, and coaching while balancing a relationship.
  • Running is still challenging, can’t get heart rate down.

February 2016:

  • Swim team…first ever swimmer of mine to qualify for states! First female in about 10 years!!
  • First Valentine’s Day with the person I love.
  • Return to my dear coach and admit to her that I am exhausted all the time.

March 2016:

  • Utah ski/snowboard trip with family and friends (so needed!!)
  • Training is still a struggle, something feels off.
  • The heart wrenching loss of a beautiful 9 year old soul. Ashley; you have become my motivation, my drive to be better. Not a day goes by that you and your family aren’t on my mind. You touched so many, and I am forever grateful that I was able to be a part of your beautiful, sparkly, smiley life.

April 2016:

  • Mexico with the family and friends in Cancun (might have gotten in an argument with a French lady, ha…good times)
  • HR is still high while training.
  • Followed for the day by a photographer/journalist depicting a day in the life of strong women (pictures below). Really amazing experience. Thank you Kate Lovering!

May 2016:

  • Half marathon with my cousin and his girlfriend. It was their first half and I was honored to run right next to you Drew. Not to mention the incredible support at the start and finish line from my girl
  • First triathlon of the season. End up almost winning the whole race (one dude ahead of me).
  • More blood work.
  • Finally decide to go see an ENT doctor before Memorial Day weekend. He finds something on my throat/vocal chord. Completely benign, but need to go see another specialist the following week.
  • See a laryngologist (say that 3x fast!) who says I need to see an even more specialized doctor in Manhattan at Mount Sinai. Then he tells me that racing quassy half that weekend isn’t a good idea. He explains that where this mass is and how it’s obstructing my air way. “Jemila… it’s like you’re breathing through a cocktail straw and someone is pinching your nose..”. Yup, that comment hit home.

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June 2016:

  • Start to figure out new adventures for my weekends.
  • Family wedding. Moms the officiant, brothers are both in!
  • LBI with the whole family to get the house ready and discuss how each one of my cousins and brothers want this house in our lives forever and ever.
  • Appointment with surgeon at Mount Sinai. He explains that this mass is a malformation that I have probably had most of my life. That my body just finally hit its breaking point (wow). Before seeing him I had to get an MRI and another test to make sure my esophagus was okay and to see how far it went and what they were dealing with. It is sitting on my right vocal chord, blocking part of my airway and wrapping behind my esophagus and behind my throat spreading to the left side (according to the MRI).
  • I am told in that appointment that IM Boulder is not in the cards. He tells me to sign up for IM Louisville instead. I feel hopeful that they will start with laser treatments and I will be able to compete in October.
  • FIREFLY! An amazing long weekend with my lady, amazing friends, tremendous music and memories to last a lifetime.
  • Soak up every last day with those amazing 5th graders I had the honor of teaching.
  • Begin summer break with good friend and fellow teammate Jesse. Discover during her visit that pushing on the bike might not be the smartest. Had a MAJOR wake up call while attempting 4 plus hours. Dizziness, confusion, trouble breathing, bloody nose…something was up.

July

  • My favorite month!
  • A good friend/teammate and college roommate wedding.
  • Finding ways to keep myself sane and active.
  • July 6th supposed to leave for Colorado.
  • Follow up with surgeon at Mt. Sinai. He breaks news to me that made me almost threw up on site…instead, I cried. he would like to do chemotherapy injections for the next few years until it’s all gone. That I won’t be competing in October and need to find a new hobby because this is going to take the next few years of my life…yup, speechless.
  • Process what he has said and go see another doctor that he said would be on the team with him.
  • In a fog for a week.
  • See an amazing man and what I have now decided as my saving grace. This doctor was a breath of fresh air (pun intended) for me and my mom. He explained that this malformation got worse after puberty and that I have been beating it up with sports since. He tells me that he has had a lot of success with this and that within 6 months he sees me back to training and normal life without breathing complications….as I looked at him he asked why I looked suspicious. He reassured me that he was my guy. That he has done a handful of these, but all on children. Is mine a unique case? Sure is. I guess with the name Jemila you have to have unique malformations also. Nailed it…ha!
  • Digest the new information and know that treatments with the laser (no more chemo drug) will begin in either August or September.
  • Turn 29, leaving my 28th year behind but not forgotten. Keep my 28th year in my heart and soul. Had a tremendous birthday of activity, water, lunch, driving range, family, friends, tacos and my girl.
  • Decide that I can’t go through this whole summer without going to CO. Book a 5 day trip. OMG! Brothers, best friends, red rocks, camping, laughing, being in the moment, reflecting, and rebirth.

August:

  • Soaking up the rest of my summer.
  • Lumineers (birthday gift!) with cousins and Taylor <3.
  • Cape May with my girl and her family.
  • Bachelorette party for a friend from kindergarten.
  • LBI with family.
  • Back to my amazing school for another year of teaching and growth. Year 8 is going to be the best yet.

September (since so much is already planned!)

  • Milwaukee for a dear friends wedding (ps, they met because of me…just saying!)
  • Friend from kindergartens wedding!
  • Surgery on September 13th.
  • FIO (FIGURE IT OUT) from there.

I didn’t share this for pity, for condolences or for hand outs. Those of you that know me have known somethings been going on. Are there risks with this surgery? Sure. The malformation could bleed and if they can’t stop it I will have to be trached until the completion of my treatments. It could take longer than the 4-6 treatments they are predicting. But, I am staying optimistic. With an amazing support system, having my head on straight, meditating more and more and holding two very special people close to me I know I will be watched over and it will all go okay.

As for my hobby and love. I am not going to do an IM next year. I trained for almost 8 months this year and wasn’t able to apply any of my hard work. But then again maybe the discipline and training was meant for a different race. For a race that I need mental and physical toughness. A different kind of race. As for next season? The only race that’s on the schedule is my deferred Quassy half at the beginning of June. Will I be able to race? Who knows! Will I be in the best shape for it? Who knows. Will I be able to breathe, I mean truly breathe for the first time in about 15 plus years? Absolutely!

Would I have found this if I wasn’t an athlete and aware of my body? Maybe not. I can not begin to thank my chiropractor (who is literally my primary care physician) Dr. Peter Scordilis. Dr. Peter you never gave up. We tried everything until we found why I was struggling with my heart rate. You are literally my angel. To my parents, brothers, friends and girlfriend, I am not sure I could have gotten through everything and continue to get through everything without you guys. Blessings are all around us, remember to stop and appreciate even the small ones..

To the team that I adore and race for. Maverick Multisport has been behind me the whole way. Chris thank you for understanding and only wishing me love and prayers.

Till then, I count my blessings every morning and know that I am living a life not just for myself. I am living for those that were taken way to early from this world. I am staying active because I will go crazy if I don’t. I am like a puppy (according to Taylor ūüėČ) and I want to move and run and jump and make everyone around me happy. Appreciate the simple joys and love the life you live.

 

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S.O.S. vs. A Regular Long Distance Triathlon

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On September 13th I participated in the legendary S.O.S. (Survival of the Shawnagunks), an 8-stage adventure triathlon in New Paltz, NY. This was definitely no ordinary triathlon day. Here is how this race runs.

30 mile bike (point to point and hand off your bike to your crew person)

4.5 mile run (to the first lake)

1.1 mile swim (with your gear on you)

5.5 mile run (to the second lake)

0.5 swim (once again with everything on you)

8 mile run (to the third and final lake)

0.5 swim (you get the picture)

0.7 run up a ridiculous hill (I walked most) to Smiley Tower and the finish line.

Total: 50.3 miles


IMG_4734                                       On top of the world, literally.

This is how the S.O.S is quite different than an ordinary tri.

  • A normal triathlon has a pre-race meeting with a lot of nervous athletes and sometimes to many questions (I usually skip them).
  • The S.O.S has a HIGHLY recommended pre-race meeting where they honor the legends of the race (30th anniversary of the race) and pretty much tell jokes.

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Sparkling in the wee morning hours.

  • A normal triathlon has three stages with a lovely transition area to keep all your gear.
  • The S.O.S has ZERO transitions areas. You have a crew person (Jan you the man) who collects your bike and provides you an area to assembly your run/swim outfit. The rest of the day you are arriving at aid stations. Oh, it also has SEVEN transitions…just let that sink in real quick.

IMG_4745                        IMG_4727IMG_4747        The best crew person ever! Attempting to stuff all my needs in my suit.

  • A normal triathlon has close to 800-1,000 people.
  • The S.O.S has 200-250 MAX! (144 this year)

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6th female OA and 1st in AG, what a day!

  • A normal triathlon has finish line.
  • The S.O.S has a Survivor Line (they even say, “(Insert name here), you are a SURVIVOR!”

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After that 5:20 I was hurting, but pain is temporary and memories last a lifetime.

  • A normal triathlon anyone can sign up.
  • The S.O.S you need to submit at least a Half Ironman or Ironman time to be considered.

IMG_4743  IMG_4744                               IMG_4728

Well needed massage after doing a lot of swimming and running (craziness)!

Needless to say, this race was AMAZING! Of all the races I have done this year I by far liked this one the best. I plan to return and give it another go in 2017.

Next year it is back to giving Ironman another try. Where? Well, I decided on IM Boulder. A month of living in Colorado before the race might be just what the body, soul and mind needs next summer.

I continue to search for the balance in my life. Slowly but surely I will get there. Thank you for being a part of my journey and just being supportive beyond belief. Cherish each day and remember to tell the people in your life how special they are as often as you can.

Thank you like always to the sponsors that make this sport possible. Maverick Multisport  Infinit Nutrition Sugoi Apparel Primal Sport Mud Swiftwick Socks Enve Composites Cobb Cycling Blueseventy

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Remember you can save using my Maverick Team discounts!

blueseventy.com, use code MavBoss and save 20% online!

BSXAthletics, use code MavBoss for $40 off the Multi-Sport Lactate Threshold device!

InfinitNutrition.us, use code: Maverick for 10% off all regular priced items.

PrimalSportMud.com, use code: MavChris15 for 20% off online!

Podium to the Mountains

Challenge Pocono Half Race Report by the Hour…

August 16th, 2015

4:15 AM= Alarm goes off with the sweet sounds of Mariah Carey’s, “Always Be My Baby” getting me pumped up. (Yes, this is my race morning song).

5:15 AM= On the bus to take me and fellow athletes to transition. A lot of logistics for the Pocono race.

6:15 AM= Setting up my green machine, feeling psyched, seeing friends, smiling a bunch, reminding myself that today is going to be a blast! Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 11.10.40 PM

Oh hey there beautiful

7:15 AM= BOOM!! The horn goes off and ladies 39 and under take off. I find my mojo, stay steady, long reaches and smile thinking there are a lot of dudes up ahead to pass.

8:15 AM= Swim was decent, run to transition was a nice HELLO! On the bike and feeling sluggish at the start. Where are my legs? Hi legs, you down there? Had a nice hill at the 4th mile that just went STRAIGHT UP, no joke.

9:15 AM= In case you were wondering I found my legs. Starting to feel more like myself, my smile returns and the power continues. What a fun bike course (minus the first and last 4 miles, what goes up must come down).

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Having too much fun at the end of 56 miles

10:15 AM= Pretty sure I am still on the bike right now. Squeezing my brakes on that massive downhill (like a woman powered roller coaster ride) riding with some fast chicks, cherishing the shade and mentally preparing for a killer half marathon.

11:15 AM= This run is BRUTAL. Oh hi hill, oh hi again, more hills lovely. This 13.1 mile course really didn’t ever let up. Saying positive thoughts, remind myself to stay in it. Feel fortunate to run with two people during the first loop.

12:15 PM= I can taste the finish. I keep pushing forward. So many delicious sips of my Inifint run blend (holy moly my life blood on the run). More Jemila, MORE!!

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Not my best pose, but we have all been there.

1:15 PM= I have finished, I can breathe, I can finally sit down, I can…I can…I DID! Wait with friends to take the bus back to our car (yes, logistics)

2:15 PM= Back to the finish line and expo for awards. A 5:16 was good for 2nd in my AG and 5th female OA. Some fast ladies, honored to be up there with them.

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The girl that took 1st in our AG was only 2 minutes from me! Shucks!!

3:15 PM= Collecting my wet, sticky wonderful bike and all transition items. Best part of racing.

4:15 PM= Food with two great friends from Virginia.

5:15 PM= Somewhere between PA and NJ.

6:15 PM= Attempting to leave Pennsyltucky.

7:15 PM= Collect laundry and myself from my parents house, take a mini nap.

8:15 PM= Finally back at my apartment to shower and begin to pack.

9:15 PM= How am I still awake?

10:15 PM= Packing….

11:15 PM= Athletes schedules….

12:15 PM= I really should go to bed.

1:15 AM= My mom is coming to pick me up in 3 hours…

2:15 AM= Finally hit the pillow.

3:15 AM= zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

4:15 AM= UP, READY, STOKED…..it is time to head to Utah to spend time with my brother and cousin. What a day. This time yesterday I was waking up to race. Today I wake-up to head out west and take on a whole different adventure. Remember to appreciate the blessings in your life. Even if they are small, they are a important.

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Thank you like always to the sponsors that make this sport possible. Maverick Multisport  Infinit Nutrition Sugoi Apparel Primal Sport Mud Swiftwick Socks Enve Composites Cobb Cycling Blueseventy

Remember you can save using my Maverick Team discounts!

blueseventy.com, use code MavBoss and save 20% online!

BSXAthletics, use code MavBoss for $40 off the Multi-Sport Lactate Threshold device!

InfinitNutrition.us, use code: Maverick for 10% off all regular priced items.

PrimalSportMud.com, use code: MavChris15 for 20% off online!

Hot with a side of HOT! Eagleman 70.3 report

On Sunday June 14th I toed the line for my fifth 70.3. It was good to be back in Cambridge and staying with the same Air BnB woman that I stayed with back in September of 2014 when I completed Ironman Maryland.

That being said the weather called for a hot one and boy this weatherman did NOT lie.

The swim was good, but the Choptank and I still have a love/hate relationship.

Here is my day. I tried to smile the whole time….key word is tried!

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Hanging with my best race bud, fellow Maverick Pro Molly Roohi. All set to tackle the Choptank!

IMG_4362           Helmet, CHECK! Smile, CHECK! Ready to shred, CHECK CHECK CHECK!

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Solo riding in the heat and wind. Hello marsh land. So comfy in my Sugoi tri-kit and a COBB saddle to make everything alright!

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 10.03.40 PM                            Tongue out, smile on, Infinit fresh and Enves singing.

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Time to run. Time to focus. Time to stay strong. Time to hardness my inner primal. Time to get my feet moving in my Swiftwick socks. Time to represent 5Q. Time to bring this fun day together!

IMG_4361         I better be smiling, it was mile 1! Thanks for the great pictures Cyrus Roohi. I did             not have this same smile on at mile 12.1.

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Holy mother of the sun I MADE IT! Does Cambridge have any shade???

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            I snagged a finish time of 5:02, with 4th in AG (25-29), 11th Amateur and 20th OA. For a hot day I have to say that I am ecstatic with the results. Looking forward to rocking and rolling again in about a week with my partner in crime. Oh, Molly rocked it as well with a  5th place finish.

Thank you Maverick Multisport, Sugoi Apparel, COBB cycling, Enve Composites, Swiftwick Socks, Primal Sports Mud, BlueSeventy, Jaybird and of course Infinit Nutrition!

When the teacher becomes the student…

Never, ever, ever stop learning….

On Monday of this week I received a swim lesson after my normal Monday morning swim workout. Now some of you are saying, “Um, Jemila are you serious?!” Bluntly, yes.

I feel very fortunate that swimming comes so easily to me and that I can start each triathlon with confidence in my swimming ability. Lately though I have not been feeling myself in the water. Slow, frustrated, tired and not present when I am swimming. Very unlike me as an athlete and especially a person.

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I decided a change was i order. I contacted Alison Hayden (retired ironman professional triathlete and all-star swimmer) and booked my lesson.

What a humbling and amazing experience it was. To be the student, to continue to learn and grow, to embrace change and to let go of the negatives I was holding onto. Alison helped me fix two major components that were slowing me down and literally making me work harder in the water.

The lesson here wasn’t get a swim lesson but deeper than that; never stop learning. Never stop thinking that there isn’t more to know or improve upon. This doesn’t go for just swimming and athletics but everything. Whatever your sport or passions are don’t settle for just the minimum. Push yourself to be the best at what you do and then go beyond that to either learn more or share what you know with others.

Alison has a passion for coaching like I do. Contact her and see what the buzz is all about ((904) 501-0642).

Why We Do What We Do?!?

Friends and family often ask why I train so much, why I race almost every month, why I don’t do keg stands anymore?….I mean….the answer is simple. This lifestyle, environment and series of ¬†accomplishments makes me happy. In this life we are simply searching for happiness. When we can hack that then we can be a successful person in any endeavor we set forth to accomplish. So get out there and do! If you want to be successful then find happiness in what you do. Happiness will in turn breed success.

Thank you to Maverick Multisport and all the snazzy gear this season. http://www.maverickmultisport.com to look at stylish and happy during your next finish line photo opt!

Screen shot 2015-03-26 at 10.27.23 AM ACCOMPLISHED!

Screen shot 2015-03-26 at 10.07.34 AM Can I sit down now?!