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On the home stretch after swimming 300 yards, biking 5.8 miles and running a 5K.

Mary Ellen Miller, MarketingMel, on the home stretch after swimming 300 yards, biking 5.8 miles and running a 5K.

Recently I heard a Millennial state that her generation now outnumbers Baby Boomers in the workforce. “The Boomer generation is dying,” she added. Really? As a member of that generation and someone who just competed (and won my age group) in my first Sprint Triathlon I take exception to that statement. Dying? I pondered my recent mile swim, six mile bike ride and four mile run (and that was just training over three days!) Immersion Interactive, an agency specializing in the 50+ consumer, says Boomers are the most health conscious generation ever. We’re eating healthy and competing in  sports. (Been to a 5K lately and looked at the huge age spread of participants? I met a fabulous 85 year old woman competing at two recent 5K’s who’s my new hero! I want to be active like her when I get to be that age.)

Now that my first Triathlon is over, I reflected on what I learned from this competition. These tips translate well from sport to business to life.

1. Encourage others along the way – I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to hear the experienced cyclists encouraging me as I peddled my way up the course’s steep hills. Biking is not my strong suit at all (I was still figuring out which gears to use and when) but a kind word here and there from the experts kept me going.

2. Transitions are inevitable – Life is about transitions. We move from one family formation to another (my husband and I are now parents of a teenager. Before long we’ll be “empty nesters.”) We change jobs and careers. In Triathlon, while speed of transition is key, it’s also an opportunity to take a breath and look forward to the change that lies ahead.

3. Play to your strengths – I swam collegiately for Cornell. So you can guess which sport is my strength. Five years ago I took up running. When it comes to biking, however, I’m a complete newbie.  Sure, I will work to improve my weakness but I know where I have my greatest degree of confidence and strength. It felt great to hit the first leg of the race,(swimming) at a sprint pace.

4. Stay positive and visualize – At one point in the run we were confronted with the steepest hill I had ever seen in a 5K. There had been a guy near me throughout the entire race.  We’d encouraged each other all along the way. This was our big chance. “We’re at the beach… it’s flat” we said aloud pretending between gasps. “We can almost see the finish line,” we said, huffing and puffing up the seemingly never ending hill. It worked. The visualization and positive support got us through that hill. After the race we introduced ourselves and fist bumped. Just an hour before, we were complete strangers. Now we’d been through athletic torment together and survived!

#1 in my Age Group

Won my Age Group

5. Set a Goal and then go for it – I wrote down my time goal in my personal prayer journal and in my running journal at least three times. It gave me something to focus on. What did I need to do in order to achieve those goals for each sport? When I was training I knew what the end game was. I was delighted when my final time was actually three minutes faster than my goal time.

6. Celebrate your victories – Whether or not you walk away with a top place medal, you celebrate when you reach a major milestone, like finishing the race! That in itself is worth celebrating. What victory have you had (small or large) that you and your team can celebrate today?

Which of these tips resonates with you for sport or for business?

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My recent "home" for six nights.

My recent “home” for six nights.

I began writing this from my hospital room last week and am finishing it from my home this week. I am a very healthy person who’s longest stay in a hospital prior to last week, was a same day surgery. But a couple of rounds of very high-powered “broad spectrum” antibiotic called Clindamycin prescribed for a dental infection left me dehydrated and battling  a severe intestinal infection called Clostridium difficile or C-Diff. I checked myself into the Franklin Woods Community Hospital E.R.  on Friday, March 22. There I was pumped full of two IVs of saline solution and admitted to the hospital for the next six nights.  Now, as a new veteran of a lengthy hospital stay, I’ve learned a few things along the way to share with you should you ever need them.

1- Be kind to your hospital staffers. They will become your greatest allies. They get you warm blankets, glasses of water and otherwise make your stay more comfortable. “Please” and “thank you” go a long ways.

2- If possible  have an advocate with you. I noticed when my husband was in the room things got expedited.

3- Take control of your health. Don’t rely on others- Be sure to research every possible cure for your illness and educate yourself on your illness. In my case I suggested probiotics and the physicians agreed with me and added them to my regimen.

4- Two heads are always better than one. Sure, you’ve heard that one before but it really applies to your medical personnel. On more than one occasion when nurses had a hard time finding my veins I suggested they call in another nurse and, inevitably, the team atmosphere worked. I also asked one of my physicians to confer with another doctor and that brought my beloved primary care physician to my bedside.

5- Pay attention! Pay close attention to the time your medications are distributed and to their look and color. Mistakes can be made. Be vigilant.

My left arm with what turned out to be the third IV site!

My left arm with what turned out to be the third IV site!

6- Wiggly IV’s spell trouble. If you’re on an IV do your best to keep from having it wiggle or move around. Mine did just that due to multiple trips to the rest room. The hours one night that nurses spent pricking my dehydrated veins looking for a new IV site is one I would rather forget!

7- Prepare a list of questions:  Be prepared when the doctor comes in on morning rounds and be ready with your questions. Be sure to write them down when you think of them. (I kept mine on my iPhone.)

8- No one knows your body like you do.  Ultimately each individual is different. I found out I could not tolerate sugar during this ordeal even though several medical personnel told me it shouldn’t be bothering me. Listening to your own body is the quickest path to healing.

9- Prayer works! Many, many people were praying for me, even people I don’t know. I thank them very much for their concern and I’m here to say prayer works.

P.S. On my way out the door to the hospital I grabbed: my iPhone, iPad  a magazine and a charger. I dressed in very comfortable, loose lounge wear and wore slip on shoes. Those were good choices. I always keep a toiletry bag packed and ready in my suitcase at all times so my husband only had to grab that and some minor items when he headed to the hospital to see me later.  I’d love to hear any tips you have to add to this list from your own personal experience.

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