Book Review... A Life Without Limits by Chrissie Wellington

There are a plethora of books out there for endurance athletes that provide data and science behind training plans and how they will make you a better athlete.

Chrissie Wellington's autobiography, A Life Without Limits, A World Champion's Journey, is not one of them.

This book is much more than that.

It chronicles a woman that is so full of adventure, carefree living and the audacity to follow her heart rather than mainstream life, that the outcome ultimately developed her into one of the greatest athletes that the sport of triathlon has ever known.  

The story is open and honest to the point where a reader could get lost in that you feel you are being told the story first-hand, instead of reading the pages. It was a quick read as there was hardly a place that I wanted to stop. I read the majority of my copy on the bike trainer as I found it hard to read a story about such an accomplished athlete while lounging with my feet propped up on the couch. 

Throughout the book, Ms. Wellington details her fears, struggles, passions and the motives that drive her. She never shied away from difficult issues, such as her struggle with bulimia, her tumultuous relationship with her coach, finding her place in the sport of triathlon and her insatiable appetite to be the very best athlete that she could become.

Endurance athletes, in particular, will be able to identify with her tenacity and hopefully appreciate the valuable lesson that success is not dependent on having the most advanced equipment or gathering heaps of data, but rather the hard work that you put into yourself and inner strength will prove to be the determining factor on race day.

What Ms. Wellington has been able to achieve in this sport is truly amazing. This book is inspiring, not just to athletes, but to anyone who has ever desired to live a more adventurous life. I dove into this book eager to learn more about what life was like as an Ironman champion and I finished it realizing that the best for her is yet to come.

There are few people in this world that I would consider a role model.

Ms. Wellington is one of them.

She has been a fierce, but cordial competitor, has graciously given back to many charities and has been an overall outstanding ambassador for the sport of triathlon- which makes me proud to be part of it.

Disclaimer:  The book, A Life Without Limits, was provided to me free of charge by the publicist at Center Street.  Being chosen to receive the book was an unsolicited (you can read how I was selected, here) and I was not paid for this review. The review made here is my personal opinion and I am by no means a professional book reviewer.

Dude.. I felt your pain..

 So, for giggles, I did a little looking into the Race Results.

More than 16% (or 239 athletes) didn't even bother starting the race!  239 ... that's crazy.  I know there was a lot of talk on the forums that some were cancelling because of the bad weather, but that's a pretty high number that decided not to even make the trip.

2012 IMNOLA Finisher's Medal
Of those that did start, only 2% (33 athletes) didn't finish.  Which, I'm going to assume several of them were from bike crashes due to the extremely high wind.  Glad to see a report that they were all minor and everyone was ok.

And, so while I may be not-so-happy about my performance,  at least I finished and received this awesome medal to add to my collection! :)

Keeping my DNF count to:  0

Although, I can definitely relate to some of the quotes below:

Former world champ Terenzo Bozzone unable to finish Ochsner Ironman 70.3 New Orleans

One name conspicuously absent from the results board after Sunday’s Ochsner Ironman 70.3 New Orleans was former world champion Terenzo Bozzone. After finishing the bike ride portion just outside the top 10, Bozzone said that he felt his “body was dead.” It was only the second “Did Not Finish” of Bozzone’s career, with the other being last September when an injury to his Achilles forced him out of the European 70.3 championships in Germany.

He said once he dismounted the bike he felt his legs start to cramp, and he made the decision at Mile 4 of the run to end his day early.

“I’m really disappointed to pull out,” Bozzone said. “It was real hard to make that decision. Putting one foot in front of the other was hard work. I kept pushing through to Mile 4 on the run, but I just had nothing in the tank today.”

Sunday’s event was Bozzone’s second race since having surgery on his Achilles last fall. He finished seventh in his first race back last month at the Ironman 70.3 New Zealand. He said his Achilles was feeling pretty good overall, but that it could have been other issues from training that led to the problem Sunday.

“Maybe there could have been a lack of high-end conditioning since coming back, but that will come back in the next couple of races,” Bozzone said.

It was another setback for an athlete that has had much success at a relatively young age in the sport of triathlon. In Sunday’s race, 18 of the top 20 finishers in the men’s and women’s competition were 30 or older. Bozzone, who turned 27 last month, already has 11 victories at the 70.3 distance and won the 2008 70.3 World Championships.

“My girlfriend is telling me to keep strong and stay tough, and mentally that’s what this game is,” Bozzone said. “I just have to keep tough mentally and know that I do have what it takes to get back on top. These hard times are what builds character and makes you stick in the sport for the right reasons, which for me is the love of it.”


2012 Ironman New Orleans 70.3 errr... 67.1 Race Report


This wasn't the race that I had hoped for.  Overall I was not happy with my performance, but it was a good learning experience. I am not going to bash this race. I was hesitant coming in with some of the unknowns, but despite many of the other comments that are out there, I thought the race was well-organized.

Yes, it was changed to a duathlon format the day before and the bike course was shortened by 4 miles due to debris from the storm, but disorganized? I don't think so. The course was clearly marked, there were volunteers where volunteers needed to be (even if not precisely at the mark they said they were going to be) and there were medical and police officers in abundance. 

Overall, I did think that the race lost the charm of what the race promised to include and that is the scenery and culture of New Orleans. Finishing in the French Quarter had to have been a pretty cool way to end a race- which was originally the main draw for me to sign up. So, I was disappointed when that was moved.  There was one aid station, that on one run loop was playing traditional New Orleans jazz music and I thought that was a lot of fun while it lasted.. but it was back to Eminem and Black Eyed Peas and pretty much what you'd find at any generic tri for the rest of the race. Sigh...

Race Conditions:

If there was any question as to why they cancelled the swim, you can see my video that I took while in transition the day before the race, here:

Race management did the right thing. And, while, yes.. it was disappointing, they kept the athletes safe and that should always be their priority.

Race Morning:

I'll preface with saying that there were a lot of unknowns for me leading up to leaving for the race that proved to be very stressful.  And between the TX weather (tornadoes, rain, etc.) and dealing with being sick, things weren't really working in my favor. I'm not making excuses but, I've been thinking a lot about my state of mind and performance and have a lot to work on for my upcoming races.

My mom and daughter had traveled with me to the race and they hung out in the car watching a Disney movie while I set up transition.  I met up with my Twitter friend, @DoriSpaulding in transition, headed back to the car to get my Good Luck hugs and kisses and then met back up with Dori and her friend, Ann and ended up spending the rest of the morning with them... hanging out in bathroom lines... checking out the funky race outfits the Europeans were wearing and chatting until our 30-39 age group left two by two out on our 2 mile run to start the race. Love them both! So sweet! :)

Run #1:  2 miles

Sporting the @EpixGear Tri Kit 

This was my first duathlon!!  I honestly had no idea what to do in terms of pacing.  Run hard? Take it easy? I pretty much chose somewhere in the middle.  I dropped the girl I started with about 200 yards in and I wasn't sprinting... all I could think of was, "Am I doing this wrong?"

The run was uneventful.  Up and over an overpass to really wake up your legs, turnaround and do it again and head back to transition. The run went quickly. I had realized at the starting line that I forgotten to add water to my aerobottle. I had planned on waiting until the last minute because I was afraid that if it was too windy, it would dump out. Rookie mistake. Dug through my backpack, found the extra water bottle, dumped it in, helmet, changed to my bike shoes and was out.

One thing that was nice about the duathlon format was there was no wetsuit to strip and I already had on my sunglasses, arm warmers, race belt and Sock Guy socks ... a few less things to worry about in transition!

Bike:  52 miles

To say it was windy on the bike would be an understatement. Although forecasts said 15mph, I ride in that pretty much all the time at Texas Motor Speedway and the gusts that we had were way in excess of that.  With the headwind came a super fantastic tailwind, but if you were met with the strong gust of a crosswind and were coming down an overpass in the 30mph+ range, it didn't fare well for a lot of people. There were a lot of wrecks on the course. One gal was being loaded into an ambulance with a neck brace, several others being attended to by EMS and lots of road rash. There was a guy who passed me in the same Epix Gear tri top and he had significant bloody road rash down the side of his arm. (Major props to him, though)

Death grip on my aerobars!
At about Mile 5, as I was heading up an overpass, my right aerobar pretty much fell off.  Seriously.  If I let go, it just hung on the bar. I was climbing, getting hit by crosswinds and almost ate it because I had to try to balance on my left and steer without losing control.  Got to the top of the overpass, pulled out my multitool and had to screw both connectors back in.  Out of the corner of my eye, I could see my entire age group pass by.  Grumble.

I couldn't get my saddle bag to close properly, so I did a half-assed job and stopped messing with it. Not so smart.  At about Mile 30, I hit a bump and the saddle bag was left hanging by a strap.  I stopped again and for the life of me couldn't get it back on. I wanted to chuck it at that point, but I still had 20+ miles to go and with the luck I was having, figured I would flat and need it. I tried tying the straps in a knot.  Finally got it on after about a hundred more people passed me.  At this point I think mentally my wheels fell off. The wind was beating me up and I was in a bad mood from my bad luck. It didn't help either that I did not want to eat- at all.  I choked down one package of Clif Shot Blocks over the entire ride and drank some Gatorade and water.

(Side Note: To the guy who was wearing the banana hammock on the bike... I don't care how fast you are. An extra half yard of spandex will not slow you down. Your hairy posterior is something I could live with never seeing again and the mental image will likely haunt my future dreams.)

Run:  13.1 miles

My right calf had a twitch in it coming out of transition, so I stopped to stretch it out for about 10-20 seconds and then continued on.  By mile 3, I was checking out the grass thinking there were some pretty comfortable places to lay down and take a nap.  Seriously.  All I wanted to do was sleep. Bonk much?

But, I wanted to be done and not finishing was not an option.  In typical fashion, I actually felt better between miles 7-10. I'm pretty sure I saw Dori a couple of times on the course and Ann was just a bit behind me and was closing in fast.  She skipped herself to the finish line- both her and Dori had total rockstar finishes.  Me... not so much. I ran about 15 minutes slower than my last half ironman.  Sure, I was in the final stages of training for a full at that point, but I know I am capable of running faster. 


I finally got to see my mom and daughter as I rounded the corner to the finish and it was a much needed boost and made me smile- unfortunately they had missed me out on the course on both loops of the run.  They were the reason I was ready to be done. As I crossed the finish line, I looked at my watch and hung my head.  Totally disappointed in myself. There was a guy who grabbed me at the end who asked me very seriously if I was okay. Guess I wasn't as gleefully happy as others to finish.  I passed on the red beans and rice being served and went for the oranges and strawberries.  Checked my bike out of transition and then we got the heck out of the city.

I know things could have been worse. I am thankful I didn't crash. I'm thankful I finished. I am thankful for being healthy enough to compete in a sport that I am passionate about and that I have a full schedule of racing ahead of me for this summer.  It just wasn't the race I had hoped for.

But, we headed for Orange Beach, AL which was about 3 1/2 hours away... and well... life was better.

Thanks for reading! :)

Putting the NO in IMNOLA 70.3

I typically would describe myself as a pretty positive person.  I'll find the glass half full and will make lemonade out of lemons (and will most likely make it look fancy, too) but the upcoming Ironman New Orleans 70.3 this weekend is turning into a post-apocalyptic nightmare.

#1:  Be Afraid

Directly from the Race Director's Athlete e-mail:

"We do not recommend you leaving your bike on your car bike rack or in your vehicle for any reason while you are in New Orleans for the race."

 Ok.  I know this is common sense, but I highly doubt this bit of information is included at races in St. George, or Boulder or Branson...

#2:  Weather Nightmare

I was kind of banking on the "lightning doesn't strike the same place twice"- in terms of cancelling the swim a second year in a row. But, with high winds and potential storm coming in, it's not looking promising. And, there's a possibility of the bike course being altered, too.  What bothers me is that the Race Director is talking to the local paper, but not communicating any of this to his athletes. 

"Strong winds and heavy rains have affected the Lakefront course for Sunday’s Ochsner Ironman New Orleans 70.3, and with additional foul weather expected to move through the area this weekend, race organizers are working to develop a modified course.

The course for this year's race could be altered because of the weather.
“There’s a strong possibility of an altered course,” race director Bill Burke said Wednesday. “A front is coming through at the right time to interfere with setting up the course — getting the buoys set. It’s just bad luck.”
The Ironman 70.3 consists of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run. The swim in Lake Pontchartrain is in jeopardy. Burke said it would be unsafe to swim with winds exceeding 15 mph Sunday, and he is investigating the feasibility of relocating to an area where conditions will not endanger the swimmers.
“The safety of the competitors is first and foremost,” he said. “We are looking at every possible option to do some sort of abbreviated swim-bike-run, but I don’t know if that is possible. If not, I would probably do a run-bike-run.”
Recent heavy rains have caused flooding on segments of the bike course on Lakeshore Drive, and with the probability of more rain Saturday, it is likely that the bike course also will be altered, according to Burke.
Burke said he is working with city officials and intends to notify competitors of any changes as soon as possible"

#3: Floating Bodies

New Orleans police say a body was found Monday morning in Lake Pontchartrain near where Bilder Lopez, 17, went missing Saturday afternoon.  Yep, Lake Pontchartrain is where we are supposed to do the swim...  and while my thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the teenager who was lost - it doesn't leave a positive mental image to think that there was a dead body floating around where you're swimming- or wondering if there are others.


Sooooo.... that's how my weekend is shaping up.  It's my first race of the season, so I'm going to just suck it up and carry on.  We'll do our best to stay safe, will bring rain jackets and maybe put some anti-bacterial wipes in my Bento Box in case we do swim. 

I love this sport, I really do.   (Might have to repeat that to myself a few times)

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