Lessons From Yoga: Just Breathe…

I sound like a broken record. Over and over again I have said that I’m not patient. It’s true. Patience is not my virtue, especially when I’m injured. I went from training anywhere from 10-20+ hours a week for an Ironman to a dead stop. I’m a busy body. I’m an active and physical person. Stillness is not in my vocabulary. For crying out loud, my legs twitch as I sit at my desk at work.

But, with my recent pelvic alignment issues, I have learned that I have to accept the stillness and be patient. Many people have told me to just relax and breathe. How the hell do I do that? I’m the type of person who uses physical exercise to release my stress and anxiety. I often train alone, because it’s my “me” time. I can decompress and let go the stresses of everyday living.

Breath is essential to life. From a science and physiology perspective I understand the importance of breath and its subsequent effect on the body and mind during movement. For the past couple of years I have dappled a bit in yoga periodically, but never really enjoyed it. I always viewed it more of an off-season filler, a change of pace if you will. The various instructors always talk about breath and moving to your own breath throughout your practice. I’ve always just laughed it off a bit and focused more on the actual movements; after all, I’m a more physical person, not some kumbaya hippie (yes, I judged, sue me).

But, there is something to it. I can find stillness in breath, even during movement. I can let go…

A deep breath in, a deep breath out… I can feel the tension and stress of the day leaving my body. My muscles relax and it’s just me and my thoughts. However, my brain still runs at Mach 10 with thoughts. It always does. That will probably never change. But I can slowly release and begin to live in the moment. Just breathe…

Some people are really good at living in the moment. I am not. My brain is always 10 steps ahead of me. I’m a strategic planner, always thinking about the next step and where I’m going from here. What do I need at the grocery store? What is on my to-do list at work tomorrow? When are my student loans due? The list goes on. Since my Mom died almost five years ago my thoughts and attitudes have evolved and grown. Sometimes it takes a life-changing event to change your thought process. Life is short. Cherish the moments.


Source: The Clymb Facebook Page

For the past few weeks I have reflected a bit on moments in my life where I have truly lived in the moment. I think we all have moments in life that we truly feel alive, whether it’s seeing a beautiful sunrise on the beach in Costa Rica, achieving a life goal, or the birth of your child. Each moment is unique to us and our core being.

My expectations going into Ironman Lake Placid were low, but my hopes were high. The night before the race I received some incredible advice from a friend who has raced several Ironmans – you only get one first Ironman, enjoy the moment. 

Yes, completing an Ironman is daunting to most people. Who in their right mind would want to swim, bike, run 140.6 miles for up to 17 hours? Throughout my 14:13:33 hour day I experienced pain, frustration, and negative thoughts, but I kept reminding myself to keep moving forward and breathe. Pedaling up the long, slow incline of the Gorge while fighting a headwind under threatening skies, I would look around and see the beauty of the Adirondack Mountains. My body, even though it was broken and fatigued from the day’s effort, was a machine. My breath feeding the fire that burned in my muscles. Just breathe….

Entering the Olympic Circle at Lake Placid is an indescribable feeling. An overwhelming wave of emotion; it hits you like a ton of bricks. At this point I had tears running down my cheek from the excruciating pain in my right knee from when it gave out seven miles before. Every fiber of my body was willing me to run the final half mile. The cheers from the crowd were quieting the pain in my body and pushing me forward. This was the moment. This was MY moment. The tears quickly turned from pain to every emotion imaginable. Happiness. Pain. Fatigue. 

THIS was the moment that I had been training for over seven months. I put in countless hours of blood, sweat, and tears. It all culminated in this moment. I thought about my mom and how I carried her photo in my sports bra. I hoped that she was looking down on me with pride. Suddenly, my feet across under the arch and I heard Mike Reilly tell me “I am an Ironman.” The moment was surreal. Almost like an out-of-body experience. Just breathe…

There are days I wish I could rewind time and relive moments that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time. But, atlas, we cannot. We can only live in the present and learn to appreciate what we have. Nothing lasts forever.

Source: UpWorthy Facebook Page

Source: UpWorthy Facebook Page

So next time you’re hiking a mountain, running on the beach, or relaxing on your mat at the end of yoga class, live in the moment. Sometimes it’s the little things that are the most profound in life. Sometimes you have to be patient, try something new, and learn to breathe… and finally, cherish the moment.

Just breathe… 


~ Happy Training!

2011… A Year in Review


I started off the year with a hike in the Presidential Mountains in New Hampshire. We were suppose to hike the complete Presidential range over the holiday weekend, but had to abort due to white out conditions early Sunday morning. I ended up with pretty severe frost bite on my right big toe, which laid me up for a good 6+ weeks of training because I couldn’t bear full weight on it. BUT, I had a blast on the trip!


My toe recovered (although I still have some lingering nerve damage) and I was able to resume normal training again! I picked up cross-country skiing.


Celebrated my birthday with some great friends! I became friends with some really cool dudes at a great bike shop!


I decided to upgrade from my entry level Cannondale to a speedy carbon-framed Scott road bike! My shop sold the one they had and the factory completely sold out in my size so I spent an entire afternoon calling random bike shops in New England looking for her. I eventually found her at Berkshire Bike & Board in Great Barrington, MA. I drove the 8+ hours roundtrip to get her and I was definitely not disappointed in this bike! So worth it!


I went on a medical mission with International Serving Learning (ISL) to Costa Rica and Nicaragua for two weeks to provide free medical care to those living in poverty. I had an AMAZING time. Not only did I witness first hand the poverty and medical need in developing countries, but also met a group of amazing young ladies who I got to share the experience with and hope to see again soon! Pura Vida!


Copyright – Sydian Photography 2011

I started June off with the Pirate Tri at Point Sebago. I had a great race! I went into the race feeling super unprepared and just plain dreading the race, but ended up having one of my best races. I ended up placing 3rd out of 18 in my age group! First podium finish in a race. Yay! The two girls who beat me in the race only passed me in the final 2 miles of the run, once again proving that my running is need of work! The end of June brought my best friend’s wedding in Montana (my favorite place in the world!)! I was so glad that I was able to make the short trip out there to see her big day! It was definitely one of my favorite memories of the year!


July started off with the annual Hewes Family 4th party, which never disappoints! July ended with my first Peaks to Portland swim! I went into that day dreading the 2.5 mile swim across Casco Bay, but ended up loving every minute of it. I can’t wait to do it again in 2012!


August was spent mostly training for my upcoming half-ironman in September. I did end participating in the Fireman Tri as a relay member during lovely Hurriance Irene. I was suppose to do the 25 mile bike course, which was cancelled. So I swam instead, while my partner ran. It was an adventure to say the lest!


I finished my first half-ironman! I finished under my goal time and WON my age group! I had a pretty good day overall. It was my first half-ironman so I didn’t expect much, but I definitely know where I need to improve for 2012 when I tackle two half-ironmans! I also inspired several of my friends/training partners to do a half-ironman in 2012 too!


October was spent mostly recovering from some hip and feet problems. I completed the 70 mile Dempsey Challenge with some friends. The weather was awesome. Who would have thought that we would have an 80 degree day in October! The ride itself took a lot out of me, but I had fun.


My training took a major focus on strength training. I started working with a kick ass personal trainer once a week and at least one boot camp session a week. I also started to do hot power yoga at least once a week to improve my flexibility. I also got a professional bike fit to ensure that I get the correct tri bike for me!


The year is coming to a close and I am grateful for everything that I was able to accomplish and experience throughout the year. So far I have spent most of December on strength training, but I have been adding in swimming, biking, and running again. 2012 is looking up to be a great year and I can’t wait to begin it!