Inspirational Equestrian

Steph with Gryph & Lex

Steph with Gryph & Lex

Ever have someone do something so selfless and kind that you didn’t even know to thank them? Two years ago when hurricane Sandy hit, I made a post about sending donations to my late Uncle Michael’s parish in Staten Island. I got a call from an old friend out of the blue; Steph had read my post and was touched because she remembered my uncle fondly. Stephanie and I had grown up across the street from each other and played together inside and in the dirt pile by our houses (both with trucks, matchbox cars and barbies!) for our entire childhood. We’d lost touch and hadn’t spoken much in years. She was living in Utah and after a stint in New Mexico I was back in New York. Still, she called me on my cell and she spoke about what she might do to help with hurricane relief. I told her Uncle Michael’s church was poor and could probably use some warm clothes and I thanked her for anything she might do.

It wasn’t until a year later when I came across the photo of what she did and two years until I found out exactly what she’d done. The photo I finally found showed huge boxes reaching to the ceiling! She’d also connected with a horse show she was in and the organizer agreed to help her. She’d gotten her entire community to rally around a coat drive and other items (Home Depot cards, etc.) that she would send to Staten Island. The UPS store even donated some shipping. I couldn’t believe the kindness she’d shown truly out of the goodness of her heart. When I thanked her when I found out, she said she got a lot out of it just by doing it.

Now I’d like to see that goodhearted kindness come back to her. We’re new friends again since she moved back to New York and even though it’s been over 30 years (yikes!) since we’ve played in the dirt pile together, her passion for horses has never waned. She’s an accomplished and award winning equestrian as well as a teacher and a judge. She practices the art of dressage, which is a beautiful form of competitive riding. She and her horses are working to get to Florida for the winter to study full-time with Pam Goodrich so she can get her horse Gryph more confirmed at PSG and the I-1 in hope of competing the 2015 show season. Please read her story even if you don’t want to donate. Maybe pass her story on. Maybe give her a few dollars for her dream.

The one thing I can do to repay her kindness is to put this out there for her: http://www.gofundme.com/h4qekg Please take a look and pass it along to help Steph grab her dream!

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NYC Marathon Inspiration

For all of my friends racing tomorrow in NYC on what looks to be an epic day. Channel your power, your strength, you inner goddess or god and show the world what grit you are made of!

“Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on the earth for you! Act for yourself.”

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Katherine Mansfield, New Zealand writer (1988-1923)

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Kona Crazy!

This is one of my favorite weeks of the year, and one year I’m going to be spending it LIVE in Kona either as a racer or volunteer.  I love all the hard work and grit it takes to get to this penultimate event. I’m always inspired when I watch.

I’m predicting a very exciting women’s race with Rinny to be the one to beat.   There are many contenders that will force her to have the race of her life: Rachel Joyce (looking to move up from runner up), Daniela Ryf (notably coached by Brett Sutton), the methodical Meredith Kessler,  Caroline Steffen (coached by former World Champ Chris McCormack), the happy go lucky and gritty Brit Liz Blatchford and I don’t think you can ever discount the 47 year old smiling Natasha Badmann (it would be record breaking if she won again but I do think the faster runners would have to have a very bad day!).   Who do you predict on the women’s side?   Who is the dark horse?

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Mirinda Carfrae Quest for Queen K Crown #3

With the Ironman World Championship just one month from today, I wanted to post a quirky interview with the current World Champ –  Australian Mirinda ‘Rinny’ Carfrae, who you can count on for fighting hard to retain her crown. Do you think she’ll chick all the guys on the run again? Are cupcakes the secret to her success?    What do you treat yourself to before and after the race?

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Get Uncomfortable!

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” – Neale Donald Walsch

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Bikes Not Burqas

triathlonobsession:

About the bike or a global movement? These women take both on and make me really appreciate the fact that I can just jump out my door and ride!

Originally posted on Mountain2Mountain: Field Notes:

“It’s time to stop referring to Afghan women as weak, as helpless.  Its time to refer to Afghan women as strong, catalysts for change.  How can we expect Afghan women to fight if we continue to label them as victims?” 

I said these words at my first TEDx talk two years ago – 9 months before I first met the Afghan National Women’s Cycling Team.  I had been working in Afghanistan and was enraged by the way we continue to look at Afghan women, and women like them around the world, as helpless victims that are in need of the West’s support.  These are not victims, although they may be victimized.  These are women of strength and resiliency that need tools, encouragements, and the outlets to use their voice.  2  1/2 years later, the young women I work with in Afghanistan show me every day they are not helpless, they are…

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Eagleman Report: Can a Bad Race Be the Best Race?

The photo that won the #IronEagleStrong contest!

The photo that won the #IronEagleStrong contest!

I was really looking forward to heading back down to Maryland to do the Eagleman. It’s the only away triathlon I’ve gone to that has descent food choices and I get to stay in Easton, which is nostalgic because it was the name of my freshman dorm at the University of Check-INMaryland.

Nostalgia aside, I was prepared for the race, but not overly so. I’d spent a lot of time in NYC since January going to school for coaching and the week of the race I was there for 3 days. I loved my 3 full days of school, having dinner with friends and I did manage a run in

Relaxing the night before!

Relaxing the night before!

Central Park so I couched it all as “taper.” (And yes, now I’m a leadership and executive coach!) I headed home Thursday night and Friday morning my friend arrived on time but I’d thought she was coming an hour earlier. My packing consisted of throwing everything into a big bag, getting my bike on the car and heading out.

The drive to Maryland was easy and my friend and fellow racer Fran is a hoot so no matter what we were going to have fun. We arrived at our hotel, the lovely Days Inn, which is owned by a lovely Indian family and painted in its entirety a bright marigold yellow. After the wonderful English film of the same name that takes place in India, our hotel was now The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which I proclaimed lucky. Marigolds do have spiritual significance in India, not only are they a sign of the sun, but they symbolize brightness and positivity.

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We checked on Friday and had time to relax. Saturday we were free until bike check in, so we had time for a last short swim, bike, run

Fran and I at bike check-in

Fran and I at bike check-in

and I was able to get in a coaching call. We went back to check in for our friend from Boston who’d arrived late and I sat outside relaxing and read about the IronEagleStrong contest about tweeting a photo that encapsulates that. With a good meal and a descent sleep I was feeling relaxed and ready to race.

Now, I’ve always had the fear that one of my contacts was going to pop out on the swim, but instead, I noticed when I was getting ready that I couldn’t see so well out of one eye. I’d lost that contact before I’d eaten breakfast! And since I’d thrown everything in that bag so unprepared I didn’t have a back-up. Well, I thought, I’d just have to go a little ‘soft’focus’ on the swim.

I had an hour and a half to wait before my wave and I was feeling totally chill. I went and did a little yoga and stretched and indeed got the photo that won the IronEagleStrong contest. Back into transition, a woman on my rack was freaking out because she couldn’t talk

Set up and ready to go (and coach!)

Set up and ready to go (and coach!)

to a coach. I offered my coaching and after a few minutes of talk she said she felt calm, which made me feel great. I still had another hour, I tried to eat more and drink but it was hard.

Finally it was my wave, and the gun went off and immediately my mantra jumped into my head: I Love My Life! My friend Laura of Team Infinitri came up with this beauty and it’s very true. I had the most relaxing and beautiful I Love MY Life swim that ended up being faster than last year without any training which was great. If you don’t have a mantra, I’d recommend trying a few on or stealing this one. I have a collection of them based on what I need and always find them helpful to calm my breathing and sharpen my focus.

My bike was solid and uneventful, which was perfect, except I was hungry. Very hungry. I ate everything I brought and took some on course chomps. When I go off the bike, I felt crappy, crappier than I’d ever felt getting off the bike. I wasn’t sure I could run at all, let alone 13.1 miles. I’d never DNFed, never even considered it, but now here I was still in transition. I ate an entire banana and decided I’d walk for a bit while I was feeling woozy and see if I could get my legs back by aid station 1, then I’d make a decision.

The good news is that I wasn’t angry or disappointed, I was going to do what I could with what I felt and make a smart decision. I was okay if my body told me I needed to quit. I don’t mind suffering, but I wanted to be smart about it and not hurt myself. After aid station 1, I thought I might be coming around and started to run-walk. Give it to the next station I thought, then I’d be at 3 miles and could turn around, but before the next one I was running again.

At that point, I was back to myself, racing with a big smile and such gratitude that my body had come around. I started running with a woman running my pace but then I saw my friend Fran and stopped to walk with her a bit (she and my friend Janice had started in the 1st wave). She was feeling pretty good and told me to push forward, but I wanted to be with her a bit and soak up the energy together. I caught up with the woman who wanted to pace together and we chatted for a bit. I was gradually starting to feel stronger even though it was getting hotter. Not to far up the road, I saw the 84 year old woman, the oldest woman in the race, and spoke with her and up the road I realized she was one of my idols: Sister Madonna Buder. I don’t think I have to tell you how inspiring it was to not only see a woman of her age out there toughing it out, but for it to be the Iron-Nun herself was even better.

I met a lot of amazing people on the back side of that race, pushing hard with their own stories, their own struggles, their own joy. We shared ice, encouragement and mojo. Whatever energy I gave out to people, I got back ten-fold and I was finally running my pace. Nearing the finish, there was a group of women around my age running somewhat together and we bonded in our strength. At that point there was no race against, only that we all finish strong. “Come with me,” I said when one woman started to slow to a walk, “you can do it!” She picked up her gate again and we pushed forward. This encompasses all that I love about racing.

A mishap in packing, a lost contact, inadequate preparation, a faulty nutrition plan all landed me in one of my most spectacularly successful races. I beat the odds, I pushed through and hopefully I inspired someone along the way!

Janice, Fran and I post-race

Janice, Fran and I post-race

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Writerly Post from the Coach

Lucy and I at Madoo Conservancy

Lucy and me at Madoo Conservancy

My very dear friend has asked me to do a writerly post for her and I’m honored to do so. Sande’s book The Sweetness is going to be one of those books that people start telling you to read. Inspired by personal family history, this work of fiction is a new tale surrounding the Holocaust that is both tender and tragic. So thank you Sande Boritz Berger, author of The Sweetness for inviting me to blog today. The Sweetness was a semi-finalist in Amazon’s 2010 Breakthrough Novel Awards and will be published September 23, 2014 by She Writes Press. You can learn more about Sande at: http://sandeboritzberger.wordpress.com/ Pre-order The Sweetness at Barnes & Noble.

What am I working on now?

I’m working on my first non-fiction book entitled TriStyle – ‘the body, mind, spirit approach to finding your best self’. I have the proposal and some chapters done and it’s evolving. This book goes in tandem with my coach certification that I’ve been working on with the Coaches Training Institute (CTI) in NYC since January. Together, both my coaching and the book envelop my philosophy which is about figuring out what you want to do and then ‘trying’ whatever it takes to get there. Flopping on your face is part of the process and something I’ve done many times!

How does your writing about this differ from others in this genre?

Since I’m an avid triathlete (sponsored by Trisports.com), my book straddles both the sporty genre of triathlon as well as inspirational. I truly believe that the mind is the 4th discipline to the triathlete and important to anyone looking to accomplish something. We all have that saboteur in our heads telling us that we can’t or that we’re not good enough or smart enough, but if we can recognize that monster we can accomplish great things. My goal is not only to write for the sporty woman, but for all women (and men too!) that and looking to believe that they can.

Why do I write what I do?

Even when I give myself permission to quit, I always find that I need to write and share my personal experience. If I can help even one person to be less afraid or to try something that scares the heck out of them, then I’ve accomplished something. My mom always said that the best things to read are the things we are the most afraid to write, so I try to think of that when I’m writing. The past winter I scared the crap out of myself and bombed an audition but it was a powerful experience. I wrote about it and had it published in the East Hampton Star and of course it’s called The Audition.

How does my writing process work?

I’m a binge writer and write the best under deadline or duress. I’m trying to get away from my old school method of writing in a notebook and then copying it into the computer. (Because you and I both know that I have lots of notebooks and less in the computer!) Now I’m trying to write it on my laptop or iPad and then print it out. I often edit with a red pen (old school again!) and try to be that brutal schoolmarm and rip myself to shreds. I started this blog over a year ago to see if I could write regularly and it was a wonderful and fun exercise that I’m continuing on a less regular basis but still trying to keep my readers engaged.

Now, with my coaching business, Fourth Discipline Coaching and Consulting, I’ve also started tweeting at @ecmccourt which is a different kind of writing and must be very directive. If you or anyone you know is interested in coaching and wants a sample session to see if we jive, please direct message or email me at rizabiz@aol.com with the caption Coaching Sample and we can set it up.

And introducing . . .

Today I’m happy to introduce you to writer and blogger Mary Crow of the blog View From the Path Train. Mary received her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College, where she studied poetry with Marie Howe. She studied in Paris for a year at Jussieu Université Paris VII and l’Université Catholique, including with the semiologist Julia Kristeva. She worked for the Campbell Corner Poetry Prize Competition for several years, sponsored by Sarah Lawrence College’s philosophy department, and interned at Counterpoint Press in Washington, D.C. Mary is also is a coach who specializes in creativity, career transitions, and health and wellness. Her background ranges from corporate to entrepreneurial. She worked for over 13 years in marketing research for magazines such as Parents, Traditional Home, and Every Day with Rachael Ray. She is an organist, pianist and singer at various churches and currently studies with Dr. Barbara Thomson in Westfield, NJ.

Check out Mary’s blog: http://www.marywcrow.wordpress.com/

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Running in NYC

Running around the reservoir in Central Park is one of my favorite things to do when I visit NYC. Since January I’ve been coming in for intensive coach training with CTI, this was the first time the weather cooperated for some pre-workshop outdoor fun.

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I wanted to keep moving since I’m tapering for Eagleman 70.3 this weekend, but I also love to experience the everyday energy. I could not believe how many people were running, biking and walking at 6:30am!

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I do try a morning run in every city I visit because it’s an energy that’s unique and oftentimes special. A favorite was an early morning run around Notre Dame in Paris. NYC makes me feel a part of the city.

What’s your favorite away from home run?

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Fall Down? Get Up and Make it Count!

Fall down? Get right back up and try again because you never know how it’s going to end up. I tripped and fell hard myself last weekend and my knee is scrapped up like it used to be when I was a little girl. Who knows? Maybe I ran better with the blood running down my knee? Or maybe it just shifted my mojo? It didn’t hurt so much and by the end of the run and I was running at a better pace the whole time. It’s good to get the falls out of the way before race day! And now I know I’m prepared for my race at Eagleman 70.3 next week in Cambridge, Maryland!

Next time you fall, remember the girl in this video and try to get back up!

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