3.31.2014

Beyond Broccoli, a glimps into my food obsession

It's no coincidence that the most consistent blogging topic I've stuck with this year so far is on food.
Before I get into it, I wanted to first explain why "broccoli"?  It's been a family nickname for as long as I can remember, made permanent by my good friends who lovingly addresses me with "she's choppin broccoli".  Thanks to Dana Carvey, I fear it's a nickname I will never live down.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tz1oP4XhKaM

So, there's the name.  It may also have something to do with having notoriously healthy eating habits.
And I love food.  Have I told you that?

Since I do, I thought I'd share some of my most recent faves.  One is my creation, the other is link to an amazing salad from one of my favorite food bloggers.  CHEERS!

Eggs cooked in Bell Peppers with pesto with pan roasted potatoes and prosciutto
INGREDIENTS:
2 Bell Peppers, cored and sliced into 1 1/2 inch rings (or so), I used red
Eggs, however many you want to make
2 T. Pesto, you might not use that much, but you definitely don't want to skimp
1 russet potato or 2 yukon golds, sliced
2-3 slices prosciutto
2 T olive oil, divided
salt and pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. 1. Heat 1 T. olive oil in a large skillet over med-high heat.  Once oil is hot, add the potato slices, season with salt and pepper.  Let cook a few minutes, until they are nice and brown on one side before turning. Turn and cook for a few minutes more until brown.  Set aside, keep warm in a warm oven if you'd like.
  2. 2. Return pan to stove, reduce heat to medium and add more oil to the pan if needed.  Add the pepper rings, cooking on one side for about 2 minutes.  Flip over and crack an egg into the center of each ring. Cook until whites are no longer clear and runny. 
  3. 3.  In the meantime, arrange a few potato slices on each plate, top with some prosciutto.  Carefully remove the egg/pepper ring from pan and place on top of potato/prosciutto bed.  Top with a spoon of pesto. 
  4. Eat.


Trust me on this one!
Vietnamese Chicken Avocado and Lemongrass Spring Roll Salad with Hoisin Crackers
 Half Baked Harvest

Your welcome.

Please share your favorite recipes and sites with me, I love exploring new things!

XO

Sarah

3.14.2014

Patience and Gratitude (camp part 2)

Guys, I know it's only been a day since my last post, bear with me.

The biggest lesson I learned while at camp is that I need to be patient with myself and my training.
Nuggets of wisdom:
"Everyday isn't going to be brilliant, sometimes it's just checking the boxes" -Cliff
...get to a point where you stop caring that you are in so much pain, and you can focus solely on the effort... (something like that) -CB
"Like everything in life worth doing, running after a night of beer just takes lots of practice. You can do it! " -Carly Johann

There are few things I do in this world solely on my own, and I wouldn't have it any other way!  Camp itself was full of highs and lows, but getting there was nothing short of complete elation.

Massive thank you to all my sponsors and supporters!
If you read my post on Wattie camp, you may have noted I ended with a little accident leaving me with a bruised coccyx - owie!  I'd like to thank Dusty and Karin for ensuring my repaired bike arrived to Tucson in time for my adventures. To Nikki of Advanced Massage Therapy and Tom Ovenell at Ovenell Chiropractic for getting me as mobile and comfortable as possible.

Training camp would not have been possible without the help of ALL my sponsors:

Wattie Ink Elite TeamPowerBar, Herbalife, SpiderTech, BlueSeventy, Reynolds, Rudy Project, ISM, Hypoxico, Speedfil
Sarah Barkley Racing: Adventure Wenatchee, CMI Apples, Arlberg Sports, SET Coaching , Specialized, D'Olivio
And, of course, my coach Cliff English, my family, friends and community!

Here's to 2014! TIME TO ROCK!!!!

Sarah


3.13.2014

Bumpy Ride, CEC Pro Camp.

First of all, BIG THANKS to Cliff English for an incredible camp!

It's hard to believe last week happened.  It wasn't pretty, but I did it.
I'm definitely still recovering in more ways than one!  

It's funny, but I'm generally the type of athlete that nails all my workouts, feels good and optimistic heading in and finishes strong with a smile on my face.  Last week I was not that girl.  I've heard most people don't chug along thru training quite so freely, but I didn't fully understand what that would be like.   Until Tucson.

Sunday, March 2, I arrived in sunny Tucson for a week with my coach Cliff English and his Pro Training Camp. Since I haven't taken my pro-card yet, I did feel pretty out of place, but hey, everyone's the newbie once!  I was fresh off our Wattie Ink Training camp in San Diego, so I felt like my fitness was alright, but I was definitely under rested and in kind of a funk, which I assumed would dissipate once training was underway.  

Monday, March 3rd. Day#1. 5k swim, 45 min run.
Since it was the beginning of camp, Cliff wanted to ease us in with a cool 5k swim and a pretty chill 45 min fartlek run around Reid Park.  Somehow I made it through the swim relatively unscathed, and the run felt great!  After trying to nap, I decided to build up my bike and do a quick ride with Jackie. Everything seemed fine, until I started riding and was having a hard time getting it to stay in gear.  No biggie, I thought, probably a quick adjustment.  The shop we were at (TriSports) informed me that my shifter was kaput and I needed a new one, which they did not have.  Finally, 2 hours later at the 3rd bike shop, Fair Wheel in Tucson, they were able to actually FIX the broken springs in my shifter - whew!!!  Off to bed early in preparation for Tuesday.
Present:Heather Jackson, Liz Lyles, Chris Bagg, Chris Boudreaux, TJ Tollakson, Jackie Arendt. Cliff English.

Tuesday, March 4th. Day#2. 4.5k swim, 3.5 hour ride, 25 min run-off.
This day seemed to ease my anxiety a little bit.  The swim was alright, it was a strength focused swim and only about 4.4k - piece of cake!  After the swim, we jumped on our bikes and headed out to Windy Point on Mt. Lemon.  I was feeling pretty good heading up, until about 1/2 way when I got popped and struggled to keep my head into the effort for the remainder of the climb.  Once we reached the top, it was a quick turn around to head back down.  At the bottom, I think I may have actually been the first flat tire of the week!  Wattie and TJ changed it in under 3 minutes and we were on our way back for a 25 min transition run to complete our Tuesday triathlon.  Jackie talked HJ and I into a quick "cool down" swim before showering up and heading to El Charro for a late lunch.  
Over lunch with Jackie (Arendt), Chris (Bagg), Chris (Boudreaux), Liz (Lyles), Heather (Jackson) and Cliff (English), we discussed typical triathlete topics such as doping (PEDs), legalized marijuana and eating disorders. Standard.

Present:Heather Jackson, Liz Lyles, Chris Bagg, Chris Boudreaux, TJ Tollakson, Jackie Arendt, Leanda Cave, Wattie. Cliff English.

Wednesday, March 5th. Day #3. 5k swim, 90 min run, 1 hour ride.
Looked to be a great day on tap, big 5k swim in the morning and an afternoon run sesh in the hot-ish Tucson sun. Yay, run!  In the past year or so, I feel like I've finally found a groove with my run, so I was excited to put it to the test.  Sure 9x800s is a relatively small test, I definitely felt I was up for it.  Until I wasn't.  There's no reason why I wouldn't be able to hold the paces I easily hold in training all the time.  Other than the object resting above and between my two shoulders. The first 6 didn't really feel that great, and though they were supposed to descend 1-3, my paces were pretty much the same.  As long as they weren't getting slower, I was good with it.  Then came #7,8,9 I started to doubt I could finish, question my ability and fitness and pretty much turn what should have been a descent workout into a lapse of self confidence and a moment in self deprecation.  Nice Barkley, pull yourself together.  After that, I spent the rest of the evening trying to figure out how I had gone to that place and how, exactly, I was going to pull myself out of it.  After all, the work had only just begun!

Present:Jackie Arendt, Liz Lyles, Heather Jackson, Chris Bagg, Chris Boudreaux, TJ Tollakson. Cliff English.

Thursday, March 6th. Day #4. 5.5 hour ride, 40 min run.
MONSTER ride!  When the plan said 5-6 hour ride, I had no idea what that really meant.  But I did not, nor have any idea how to, plan for a 110 mile ride with a 13 mile climb...including a total of about 1+ hours of stops for flats, regrouping, etc.  Ride time, about 5.5 hours, nearly 7 hours total.  Needless to say, it did not go well.  Not only had I not fully pulled myself out of the funk from Wednesday, but I also learned about cramping on the bike for the first time. Wonderful. The beginning of the ride seemed to go fine, we rode in a pace line out to the base of Kitt Pass just outside of Tucson.  The climb itself was actually pretty nice, 13 miles pretty steady and great views!  Next to running, climbing is my JAM, something I truly pride myself on.  Not today.  Oh man, when you don't feel good doing the one thing you feel most confident in, it really sucks!  Anyway, physically I made it through, but mentally I was a mess.  We stopped to refuel a bit, I chugged a mini coke and headed back down.  We regrouped and made a quick pit-stop before making our way back to Tucson.  On the way back, I was feeling tired, but pretty sure I'd be able to make it.  I had no idea how much further it would be, and I was running out of fuel in a hurry.  I hit my breaking point with probably about 15-20 miles left in the ride.  I was hot, tired and miserable.  I was so grateful that at that moment the group came past me and help me rally - even though it literally took some pushing to get me caught up and to the finish line.  One quick climb up Gates Pass and the rest was down hill, and thankfully history.  At least I can say it was my longest ride EVER and I learned a lot about fueling, teamwork and, once again, the impact of your mental attitude.  Later that evening I did a relatively light run, and was surprised at how great my legs felt. Whew, I really need to stop questioning my fitness.  
Post run, we headed to grab some yogurt and spend some last few moments with Liz, as it was her last night in town.  Finally, frozen dessert!!  Sadly, it would be our only dessert stop of the week, can't believe I missed out on Frost.  All the more reason to head back!

Present:Heather Jackson, Jackie Arendt, Liz Lyles, Leanda Cave, TJ Tollakson, Chris Bagg, Chris Boudreaux, Paul Thomas, Wattie, Ben Hoffman, Maik Twelsiek. Cliff English.

Friday, March 7th. Day #5. 5k swim, yoga.
Today was feet off day!  Swimming is clearly not my strength, but I ever so slowly see progress, which keeps me going and my goals always keep me motivated to stick with it.  My goal for this 5k swim, was to, no matter what, not give up on myself.  To do this, all I allowed myself to focus on was my form and my effort.  Just keep swimming.  Yay!  Mission accomplished.
Next up, Jackie, Chris and I headed to yoga, which was great!  Definitely need to fit yoga back into my routine on the reg. The rest of the day was spent trying to relax.  Optimistically I had been trying to get a nap in all week, and was sure today I could make it happen. Fail. Oh well, at least I had time to search for a pair of bike shorts to get me through Saturday's 100 miler. Success! 

Present: Jackie Arendt, Heather Jackson, Liz Lyles, Rachel McBride, Leanda Cave, TJ Tollakson, Chris Bagg, Chris Boudreaux. Cliff English.

Saturday, March 8. Day #6. 5.5 hour ride, 30 min run-off.
Yes, I said it, another 100 miler. And another climb. Come on Barkley!!  This ride was headed to Madera Canyon, south of Tucson.  This was definitely my most enjoyable ride of the week!  Somehow I was able to hang on to the group, despite nearly getting dropped after taking a pull at the front. Hey, I tried. Madera is a "gradual" 10-11 mile climb with a punchy last couple of miles.  I was doing great until almost mile 7.  Crap. Just keep going, I told myself.  But I struggled to keep my watts up and felt like I was going absolutely no-where.  I managed to keep trudging along, despite finding myself, yet again, defeated. Once I arrived at the top, everyone was there and about to head back down.  A short but aggressive encounter with ranger sent me from feeling OK completely unraveled.  Thankfully Jackie led me safely down the "mountain" and I was able to re-group. Whew. The ride back had a short 20 min gradual climb followed by a FAST return to town.  I knew the effort was "moderate" not "race pace", so I was determined to hang on.  At first I decided to break it up into 10 min segments, but after 2 minutes I decided maybe 5 min segments would be better.  As we approached the end of the last 5 min...I was just starting to worry, and then I saw Cliff and the end of the road - whew!  Great, smooth sailing from here.  More like BUST ASS!  Don't get me wrong, it was totally fun, but far from easy.  I was grateful to make it back, but a little unsure about how my legs would feel on our run.  My assignment was 3x4min efforts at 70.3 race pace...ok, I got this.  Not only did I, but I felt so good I had a hard time slowing down.  Yay!  
Post workouts, Jackie, the Killer B's and I headed downtown to watch a crit, grab a beer and some dinner.  It was fun to get out and socialize a bit on my last night in town, plus I can never turn down a bike race.  Though I know drinking beer the night before a long run is a recipe for disaster, it sounded too good...at least I remembered after my first bite of hot sauce that I needed to stay away from that too! Of everything that happened that night, the thing I remember most was chatting with Chris Boudreaux and him talking about getting to a point in training and/or racing where you need to stop caring about how much it hurts or how crappy you feel and just GO (that's my interpretation, not a quote).
Just like that, I was off to bed and up again before I knew it.

Present: Jackie Arendt, Chris Bagg, Chris Boudreaux, TJ Tollakson, Rachel McBride, Heather Jackson, Leanda Cave, Lisa Ribes, Wattie. Cliff English.

Sunday, March 9. Day #7. 1 hour, 40 min run.
Sunday, runday...funday?  It should have been!  I felt strange all morning, lacking sensation in my arms and legs and just generally feeling a little junky and sleepy.  Precisely how I feel if I drink a beer the night before I run...which I didn't realize until much later that day.  
Anyway, the plan was 30 min w/u and 2 x 4 miles at IM/70.3 pace. I felt alright on the first one, but wasn't in a good place and for some reason found myself in tears during our rest.  I wasn't quite pulled together before we started the 2nd one, but thought it best to not over-think it and just go.  So, I did, but wasn't ever able to relax or find a rhythm. Immediately I found myself in the same hole I had been trying so desperately to crawl out of since Wednesday's run.  It was all I could do to hold what felt like barely a jog for the last effort and dragged my sorry and demoralized self back to the car.  With the help of Jackie, of course!  Jackie was a huge help to me all week!  She's an incredible athlete and amazing person!
It was JUST A RUN, not the end of the world, but I was so disappointed to be back in a state of funk.

Present: Heather Jackson, Jackie Arendt, Chris Bagg, Chris Boudreaux, Leanda Cave, TJ Tollakson. Cliff English.

Good thing we headed straight to an amazing brunch at North to celebrate Leanda's birthday and what would be my last outing in Tucson.  The place was perfect, the food was amazing and the company world class!
I was sad to be leaving.  Even though my workouts were far from perfect, I learned a LOT and can't wait to go back.  

Be sure to check out camp videos and wrap-ups from Chris Bagg.


XO 
Sarah
 

3.04.2014

Camp #1 recap

Sorry for the delay in getting this out, I seem to keep losing days...
It was a long 4 days of winter after returning home from Wattie Ink training camp in SoCal.
This girl lives for weeks like that, guiltless hours of training, plush accommodations, training partners, sunny skies, warm weather, good food, great beer...good times.
Fellow Wattie and Carlsbad roomie already nailed a camp wrap-up here, so I won't give you all the play-by-plays, but here are my highlights and take-aways.  
First of all, sitting down to write this is quite literally a pain in my ass, more on that later.  I'm grateful I finally found a comfortable position and my goal now is to get it all written before I have to get up again, so it may be brief and/or have an abrupt ending.  Or not. 
Attending this training camp had been on the back of mind since first hearing about it, but I had other priorities and didn't think I'd be able to swing it.  After a few long months of solo training in the cold, my priorities started to shift a little bit (go figure).  That's the exact moment when Dusty and Karin invited me to stay with them and a little (by a little, I mean a lot) help with camp expenses...I couldn't get there fast enough!! 
My trip began with a night in West Village with Dusty and Karin, and dinner at Pedelars Fork  in Calabasas...um, yummmmm!  Dinner was great, company even better and I was ready for a good night's sleep and a little morning road trip into Carlsbad for the first day of training camp.  
We arrived just in time to grab a quick bite (Broken Yolk) and head to the seemingly brand new expansive outdoor community pool = heaven.  Before I knew it, we were off to the "races", I was encouraged and excited to see how the rest of camp would unfold. 
We had enough time to scarf down a sandwich from Board and Brew and load up our bikes to head south to Torrey Pines along PCH.  It was a little trafficky (?) and the group was a little squirrely, but the views took my mind quickly away from that and for most of the ride I was in another world, until Flanny ripped one right in my face.  Hey, it happens.
One quick run and shower later, we headed to Nytro for a little team gathering and Q&A with super pro Heather Jackson.  Heather spoke on her recent race at Panama 70.3, nutrition, keeping a balanced racing season, blablabla, she drinks beer - yay!  
Speaking of, food stop #3 was Union ...I was so hungry, I barely remember what I ate....salad, I think?
What I DO remember was my bed was awesome and morning came WAY too soon!
First on the docket was a 90 minute swim. Woof. To my delight, it actually went by FAST!  And was made even more fun by ending with my first ever 200 IM race.  In my defense, the starting protocol should have been discussed...since when do we not get a ready-set-go? UGH!  I totally would have taken it had it not been for my 3 second start delay ;)
Post swim, we headed to the digs where all Wattie-wear will be produced.  The first-hand view of the fabrics and laser cutting technology were pretty sweet, looking forward to getting my mitts on some! 
At this point, I'm pretty sure we ate something as fast as we could and headed out for ride number #2, this time heading north.  It was nice to get out of traffic a bit and see some great scenery, but the best part of this ride was pace-lining through Camp Pendleton!  After our 3 hour ride, Pizza Port was in order!  Great beer, good pizza and a quick stop for ice-cream on the way home wrapped up day 2.
Since running is arguably my favorite, I was thrilled to be starting the day at Penasquitos for nice trail run, with a little tempo work thrown in the middle.  Yay!  
Straight from there we headed to the pool.  Buzz kill. I wasn't thrilled about the idea, but once I was in the water, it felt SO good!
Of course, we had a little recovery ride thrown in for the afternoon and finally a somewhat relaxing evening!  Between us all, Dusty, Karin,  Wattie pro Erin Green, and soon-to-be-pro Carly Johann, we cooked up some great fish tacos and settled in for a quite evening....there might have been a quick trip to the chocolate shop thrown in there too.  
Next up, long ride day.  We had an 80+ miler planned that had us all a little nervous, but I was looking forward to some open road and getting in a rhythm.  As it turns out, it wasn't bad AT ALL!  Due to some great sag support, carefully chosen pit-stops, lots of drafting and level headedness, we managed to bust out a decent ride in the California sunshine.  No complaining here!  
Another decent run along the ocean and headed to dinner at 83degrees in Carlsbad. Goodnight.
We were up and at 'em for our last swim of the camp, and our last day of training.  Boo.
My swim wasn't the best, but I managed to hang in there and had some good take-aways.  Mostly I was looking forward to hitting the trails again for another 90 minute run.  We kept the pace chill and had a very informative aero Q&A with Dusty.  Thanks to Karin's great idea, we had lunch at a fantastic Armenian restaurant, ate as fast as we could (again), power packed and headed out for our final ride of the trip.  It was a great, low key ride, we headed south and pit-stopped at Pizza Port on the way back where most enjoyed a beer to top off camp. 
...and less than 5 miles from the end of our trip, I had a little run-in with an over zealous teammate, leaving me with a little bike damage and a bruised tailbone.  Don't get me wrong, I am grateful the damage was relatively minimal, but kind of bummed to end camp on this note.  We hung out with the great guys at Ride Cyclery to assess damage and wait for a ride back to camp head quarters.
One last dinner with the crew and headed back with Dusty and Karin for the night.
Dusty and Karin are the BEST HOSTS EVER!!  They even took care of getting my bike fixed and shipping it out to Tucson for my next training endeavor.  Grateful.

My Camp Stats:
Bike rides - 5
Hours in saddle - 14
Runs - 4
Hours running - 4 1/3
Swims - 4
Hours in the pool - 4 1/2
Total hours training - 22 4/5
Beers consumed - 4
Glasses of wine - 3
Ice cream - 2
Chocolate bar - 2
Hours of sleep - 41
Naps - 0
Powerbars - 1
Powerbar Gel Blasts - 2 pouches
Powerbar Gels - 2
Powerbar Harvest - 3


2.08.2014

Progress not perfection

Over the past month or so, I have been hit hard with a big heaping pile of my own medicine.  
Isn't it funny how that happens?  
Here's the thing, I, like most of you, am much better at giving advise than I am at listening to it.
Over the past few months, I have made many small decisions to sacrifice my own needs...just a little bit at a time.  I actually thought I was getting away with it too.  Until all of a sudden, I was unable to find a way around, through or over the heaping pile of my own medicine.  I needed to figure out how to swallow it.  So here I am, with this big pile, and just as soon as I started to take a little bite here and a tiny bite there, the whole damn pile fell right on top of me.  At that point I was so exhausted and overwhelmed all I could do was lay there.  Both literally and figuratively.  
Ok, no worries, I've got this  **deep breath**
You see, though I successfully put myself under, I do actually have the awareness and tools enough to get myself out of it, for once in my life.  Though I could very easily sit here and beat myself up over it, saying things like "I should know better by now", "how could I let myself down", "I will never be able to be a good coach if I can't be a better example"...
I choose instead to acknowledge that I messed up, take ownership of it, and take the necessary steps to get myself and my life back on track.  But it takes time, just as it took a great deal of time to put me in this predicament in the first place.  
Despite all my imperfections and mistakes, I choose to love myself anyway.  To love myself anyway. Love myself. 
Since February is the month of "love", what better time an exercise in just that. 
Before making a decision regarding my daily life, training and work schedules, I am asking myself...which option will make you feel the most loved.  This is not easy for me, it feels selfish, foreign and futile.  It takes trust, acceptance that I'm worth it and a great deal of patience.  
Trust. Patience. Love. I can do this.
And if I can do this, so can YOU!  
In honor of yourself, in honor of me and in honor of the month of LOVE, you can do this too!!


2.02.2014

Beyond Broccoli

Consistency is something I pride myself on.  After all, consistency is one of the keys to success, or so I've heard. However, most recently I learned a lesson in consistency that was not in my favor.
That is, if I consistently don't take care of myself and overload my schedule, I will successfully set myself up for failure in at least one facet of my life. Succeed I did.
There is success in failure, so long as you heed the lesson.

What I want to talk to you about is one of my favorite obsessions. FOOD.
Because so many people ask, I wanted to share with you a couple of my favorites.

BREAKFAST
1/2 to 1 C plain greek yogurt
1/2 to 1 C fruit (cherries)
1 T nut butter (almond)
chia seeds
cinnamon
local honey or maple syrup

LUNCH
4 egg whites...usually 1 yoke, 2 if I'm feeling adventurous.  Truthfully, yokes GROSS me out, but I know they are good for me, so I try
1 big handful organic power greens (cooked with eggs)
1 C cooked brown rice
Salsa, any kind
Base salt & pepper

SNACK
Pears w/ lavender honey goat cheese

I don't eat the same thing every day, but I do eat a LOT of greek yogurt and eggs.
What are some of your favorites?  






1.12.2014

Back to the beginning

It seems like I've shared this story at some point before, but feel it's a good time to revisit.
Post-collegiate running days, I took a planned year off of running completely...which turned into more like 2 years.  Not to mention at the time, I ended up battling a severe eating disorder, leaving me with no muscle to speak of, out of shape and barley hanging onto life.  Needless to say, regaining my fitness started from ground 0.
Sound familiar?  I may have been at the other end of the spectrum, but my struggle to reclaim my life, health and level of fitness are something I know many of you can relate to.
I knew it was going to be hard, but this girl (me) has always liked a good challenge.  What did I do?  I put on my big girl pants and went to work.  No excuses.
My fitness plan started with what I considered a pathetic walk/run program and a foundational strength routine.  Physically it was hard, mentally it was the excruciating.  I had gone from an elite level athlete to remedial training.
It took me 2 years to be able to complete a 5k without walking.  Though I've come a long ways since then, when I take the time to think about it, the memory is painfully vivid.

The point is, I DID get out of it.  My fitness returned along with my life.  It was a slow progression and a bumpy road, but it happened.  How did I do it?  It's complicated, but here are few keys.
#1 - Focus on moving forward.  Every year, I set goals that scare me.  Goals that challenge me to be stronger mentally, physically and emotionally.  Goals that force me to get out of my comfort zone, goals I'm fearful I can't accomplish, uncertain they are attainable and doubtful I have the resources and means to accomplish them.  These are the kind of goals that lead you to the person you want to become.
You see, goals that are in your comfort zone, that you know you can achieve and within your realm of expertise are the kind of goals that bore us and most often abandoned.
#2 - Not allowing mistakes to define me, my progression or keep me from my dreams. Yes, I have weaknesses and am far from perfection, but I refuse to let those chinks define me.  I believe in hard work and perseverance.
#3 - Support. It has become increasingly apparent how important it is to be surround with support.  For me that support is incredibly diverse.  The first layer of support is family, friends and mentors.  I rely on them heavily for feedback, both positive and negative as well as keeping me grounded and balanced. My second layer of support is much broader and includes books, podcasts, blogs and other resources that keep me inspired, motivated, confident and humbled.

Don't let your circumstance define you.  Choose to live the life of your dreams.  Sure, it's not easy, but I promise, you won't regret it!