Least likely to be athletic

I’ve had a few comments over the last couple of days that really made me think, or I should say laugh. Someone said I must have been a star athlete in high school. A lot of people said to me over the years that they could never run a marathon. They only wish they were as athletic as me. Their idea of a marathon is Netflix, etc..

I suppose if you met me now you would assume that I was always this way. Now I am a lean and muscular marathon runner aspiring to run my first 50k. Before, well sometimes you just have to laugh.

I was that scrawny little kid that ALWAYS was picked last to be on someone’s team. It always hurt when pickings got slim. Which loser would be picked last to be on the winning team? That internal debate of the team captain on who would suck the least of the last remaining few always showed through the frown on their face. I wonder if kids are still allowed to pick their own teams in gym class?

I was the ONLY girl that tried out for cheerleading in middle school that didn’t make the team AND didn’t make the alternate list.

True story, in middle school I had to write book reports on sports to pass gym class.

You could say I sucked. I didn’t have a trophy case full of ribbons and medals. My high school years were certainly not my glory days. I lived the worst years of my life in my childhood.

But now, I actually feel sorry for people that say their high school years were the best times of their lives.

I became an athlete as an adult because that is what I wanted to be. I still think it is funny when people assume I’ve always been this way. I also think that it is funny when people say that they could never run a marathon because they are not athletic enough.

We are capable of doing whatever we tell ourselves we can (or can’t). All you have to do is take the first step. It is never too late to be the person you want to be. Look at me, least likely to be athletic then is a marathon runner now.

 

 

Fortune cookie wisdom #13

The luck that is ordained for you will be coveted by others.

 

I want you to think of the most beautiful person, the most talented athlete, the richest acquaintance, the biggest blogger you follow, and the most intelligent person that you know…Close your eyes if you must…

They are lucky, right? I mean, otherwise you would be as great as they are.

Admit it, you are jealous just like I am.

Don’t we want what makes them great?

But they have struggles too.

Maybe we just can’t see them.

The most beautiful girl has the best of luck. She can get any guy that she wants. She knows that her beauty has opened many doors that for others are closed. But she feels alone because no one seems to get past her looks and see the real beauty inside of her.

The most talented athlete has the best of luck. He is sure to win almost every game. But no one sees the pressure to perform, to continue being the best. His fans only love him when he is at the top of his game.

The richest girl in the room has the best of luck. She throws the biggest and best parties. When she goes to bed at night she wonders if the same people would be her friends if she was poor.

The biggest blogger has the best of luck. He scribbles some dribble and has over 100 likes. He spends hours every night responding to the hundreds of comments of people that he doesn’t know and not sure he would even like. He starts writing to appeal to the masses and losses part of who he is in the process.

The most intelligent girl has the best of luck. She aces every test. It comes easy to her to succeed. But she has no one to talk to because they don’t understand things at her level. She is expected to solve everyone’s problems and to do more than her fair share in group projects at school and at work because she is so much smarter. She often feels overwhelmed with the weight of her responsibilities.

All of these people have haters.

They have people that would give anything to be more like them.

So no one cares, no one listens..

There are things that are not acceptable for them to ever talk about to people who aren’t as “lucky”..

Oh, poor you…you can get any guy you want and you complain that they are only interested in your looks….I wish I was half as beautiful as you.

Poor you, you always have to perform at the top of your game and can’t handle the pressure…I wish I was coordinated enough that people would want me on their team.

Poor you, you are so rich that you can afford anything you want…Who cares if your friends are real?? I wish I could just pay my bills on time.

Poor you, you are so popular online that you have to take hours of your limited time to respond to every comment. I wish a couple of people would read what I write.

Poor intelligent successful you, you have to be surrounded by idiots all of the time…because face it, no one is as smart as you. I wish I didn’t have to work so hard for something that comes easy for you.

Even the “luckiest” people in the world have their struggles.

But why bother listening because we already know how wonderful it must be to be them…The grass is so much greener over there that I can’t even see how it blends in with the weeds..

Maybe being average is not so bad after all…

Wine versus exercise in the long run…

Most of you know me as a thoughtful, serious, worried, borderline depressed individual that has had a difficult past. You would be correct. But I’d like to think I have a sense of humor that balances everything out.

It is the weather, people. Yesterday I ventured out and several random strangers stopped me and asked me when spring is coming. Did they think that I know?? I haven’t had any birds trying to nest in my blonde straw like hair yet, so it might be awhile. I didn’t mention my bad grade in the 8 AM college meteorology class though.

I just looked at the weather forecast for this weekend. We are expecting another foot of snow/ice. I’m going to jump off of a cliff. I had to say that out loud and my cliff diving son gave me suggestions of where to go.

Anyway…I saw a funny plaque a few weeks back that I bought for the bar (remember I live in WI) in my new house. It read and I quote…

Exercise makes you look better naked. So does alcohol. Your choice.

Nice, huh? I was thinking of hanging it up next to my medal display. But, wouldn’t that be tacky??

I’ve seen some debate online lately about exercise and wine drinking for longevity.

A new study says that drinking wine is better for longevity than exercise. Of course I had to make a comment…We’ll see who lives longer. Wait! How will you know I am right?

I didn’t bother reading the stupid article. But my question is this…Where do you draw the line??

How much exercise? How much wine??

Last month I went to a party and my best friend asked a doctor friend if running a marathon was healthy. She said that the jury was still out on that one. Talk about safe answer! As most of you know, I signed up for my 4th marathon. I said I would quit after the first one.

Wait! Does that sound like a problem??

How much wine? A glass a day…a bottle a day?? I know people that do both. Again, where is the line?

I have friends that run marathons and are alcoholics. Will they live forever??

Sometimes I wonder if I should say something about their drinking. Now maybe I should say something about their running too. Honey, the exercise is going to kill you long before the drinking ever will.

I think that most people my age (40’s) truly know almost everything there is to know about themselves. They have had enough time to contemplate their lives. At this stage in the game, I am well aware of my strengths and weaknesses. Most of my friends are probably aware that they drink (or exercise) too much. Is it my place to remind them of that every time I see them? What a buzz kill I would be at the post marathon party.

One of my biggest weaknesses (and strengths) is my critical eye. I love to solve problems. I want to fix things that are broken, i.e. people. I want to be in control over the domain beyond my person. I have a natural tendency to nag, complain, and nit pick. I have no problem providing that service to the people closest to me in my life. But most of the time I find myself biting my tongue. Who am I to play God??

Think about it, you probably don’t need me telling you what you suck at. You probably already know.

I know that some of you think I am crazy for running hours at a time. But running actually makes me feel less crazy.. If you’ve never run a marathon, I don’t think I could explain it to you. If you have, you know. Sometimes physical pain provides a release for emotional pain. It clears the troubled mind.

I have nothing against drinking in moderation (because that is what I do). But I don’t exercise in moderation. I’m even thinking of doing an ultra race which is longer than a marathon.

Is that healthy? Or is it a problem??

We’ll see who lives longer.

 

 

What’s next?

Someone asked my mother the other day what I was planning to do next…

If your daughter is doing a Half Iron, what will she do next? Skydive??

I admit, I did have very lofty goals for this racing season..

I started off in April with an 18 mile trail running weekend.

In May, I did my third marathon.

In June, I completed my first Olympic triathlon.

This July, I completed my first Half Ironman.

A majority of the events I did for the first time.

What’s next??

I think I am done running marathons. I think this is my last Half Iron.

I think I’ve taken it as far as I want to go.

I realize that I say this every time after a big race. I am never going to do _____ again. I think I mean it this time.

I am taking a break to reflect on what I want to do next.

I am not planning on quitting and will still race next season.

I feel that in order to go to the next level, I am going to have to train day and night.

I feel very satisfied that I achieved my goals for this season.

I wish I could take the feeling of accomplishment and bottle it for the times I am discouraged.

I also feel a great sense of freedom. If I can do that, what can stop me?

My mom said that I am finally starting to bloom (in my 40’s) since I could never spread my wings in childhood. I am finding myself.

The truth is that there are so many more things I want to do and try…Maybe I will learn another sport. I want to be free from training to be able to do more. Maybe I will try out for another musical.

But frankly right now I just want to sit on the beach, not swim across the lake and back as fast as I possibly can.

Racing will be in my future…but there are so many things I want to do…there are so many worlds I want to see.

Today I booked a flight to Asia.

Time to work on my other bucket lists..

I am excited to see what’s next..

My first Half Ironman

swimming

I finished my first Half Ironman and ordered my 70.3 bumper sticker..I really wasn’t sure I would make it.

When I woke up the morning of the race, the water looked a little like this:

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Well, not exactly…the race was held at this park, however I took this picture in November. In this picture, there was a strong west wind. During the race, there was a strong north wind which meant that the waves would start pounding us at the end of the pier. Then if we could make it past the pier, we had to swim against the waves to the first buoy. If we could make it to the first buoy, we could let the waves rock us back to shore.

Due to a small craft warning, upon arrival I received the news that the swim would be shortened due to treacherous conditions. The swim went from 1.2 miles to 0.25 miles. I cried tears of joy and cancelled the mental list of loved ones whom I would give all of my running medals my prized earthly possessions to. Nevertheless, even with the shortened swim, about 5% of competitors got pulled.

race 4

Here is my wave waiting in the calmer waters on the left of the pier. I tried not to watch the waves before us getting hit by huge wave surges after the pier. Lifeguards on jet skis were pulling people out of the water. I think the lady next to me was about ready to have a panic attack. She was muttering anxiously to herself. I felt like we were cattle waiting for the slaughter house truck.

The horn sounded. We swam together in a clump towards the end of the pier. People kicked and clawed their way through only to be hit by a huge wave surge at the end of the pier. There was a collective roller coaster ride scream as we were hit by a giant wave. I gulped down several mouthfuls of water and choked.

My husband’s words right before the race became my mantra…water is my friend…I love water..

I reached out to the lifeguard in the water that had a flotation device. She said calming words. I stayed until I stopped choking. The lady next to me had a full blown panic attack and had to be pulled out of the water.

I felt like I was in a wave pool except I couldn’t quite see where I was and I couldn’t touch the ground.

Thankfully I made it past the first race buoy and let the 4 foot waves push me back to shore. It was rather nauseating being raised to great heights then dropped.

SWIM!

I was so happy to make it through the swim alive.

I was still shaking as I was riding my bike 15 miles later. I could’ve drowned kept splashing through my mind. I was finally able to calm down a little but still felt shaken. I decided to make one stop halfway through the bike route to hydrate. I didn’t feel like I could keep my balance if I grabbed water while biking.

The bike route was very scenic and pleasant despite the rolling hills at the end. We went through small towns along the bay of Lake Michigan. I saw deer in fields and sailboats in marinas.

It wasn’t until the last 10 miles that things got to be grueling. The end of the route was uphill against the strong north winds. I tried to say comforting words as I saw a My Team Triumph team struggle up a big hill. I felt like quitting then.

Plus I never biked over 45 miles before. There’s that.

I passed the last water stop, regretfully not stopping. With a few miles left, I got a bad side cramp and my knee started to hurt. I felt a little lightheaded, but kept going.

How was I going to run 13.1 miles? Maybe I should stop, but I pressed on.

Near the end, I prematurely unclipped my bike shoes. I was told to keep going until I was ready to pass the race mat. I accidentally clipped my shoe back in when I was supposed to dismount and almost fell.

Thankfully, somehow, I managed to avoid drowning and a bike crash all in one day.

The first few miles of the run I focused on hydrating myself. Thankfully the cramps were gone, but I started feeling a little sick… I found myself having to run several times to the bathroom. That really motivated me to get running! I didn’t take any Gu because I felt like I was going to throw up. I spent the rest of the run doing a walk/run combo.

There was an area of the race where there were runners on both sides of the road running in opposite directions. The road wasn’t closed to traffic, so it was very busy. Most of the motorists honked, waved, or cheered out the windows to racers.

Every single volunteer was eager to please with a smile on their face. No one looked bored or like they were waiting for it to be over so they could go home. They asked if I was okay and if I needed something every single time. Did they recruit Walmart greeters??

This was the best run race I have ever been in.

As I was reaching the end, my friend Cori was waiting for me. She hugged and kissed me through her falling tears. Then she told me how proud of me she was and how much she loved me.

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I didn’t know how emotional this race could be. I found my friends, my husband, and myself in tears unexpectedly. People who rarely cried were struck with emotion. I felt like it was one of the biggest accomplishments in my life. I overcame my obstacles. I struggled and prevailed.

finish

I crossed the finish line!

Just one more day….

It’s been a rough week for me. I have been struggling with insomnia. My mind has been tormented with fits of anger, deep lows, and crippling anxiety. I found myself making mistakes at work although known for my accuracy. I feel sick to my stomach with nervousness. 

Tomorrow is the Half Ironman. 

I have been having nightmares more nights than not when I do sleep. I dreamt  that my legs weren’t working to peddle my bike. I dreamt that I was running straight up and when I got to the top I couldn’t get over the edge. I asked for help but no one would help me. I even had my first nightmare about blogging. I dreamt that there was someone who knew me so well that he left little notes to stalk me. What am I doing? I am a private person. 

Everything in me tells me to stop…stop racing..stop writing..But a few days without it and I am a basket case. 

I am terrified about tomorrow although everyone has been very encouraging about my endurance and ability to finish. I feel exhausted and run down. 

I have to get my mind in the game but it just doesn’t seem to be working right. I hope it is worth all of this. I think it will be after I get through my first Half Iron. I will keep you posted….

Working (out) on vacation

Today I fell off of my bike.

When I bought my new clip on bike shoes a few months back, I was warned that this would happen..

Oh no, no, no…not me!

It happened while I was stopping for a stop sign at a busy intersection. I unclipped my left foot and fell on my right side. I didn’t get seriously injured, just my pride. I caught the fall with my hip/right butt cheek and my hand. It didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. But it have a little bruise on my butt and a bruised and swollen hand. I am so sore..

It hurts to use my mouse and type. Falling off the bike is better than getting hit by a car though..

Thankfully, I am taking next week off of work for a vacation. I will be partaking in the mass exodus of Wisconsinites (or Wisconsinners, if you prefer) up north.

So if you don’t hear from me for a couple of days it’s probably because I don’t have internet not that I got hit by a car..

This will be the first vacation I plan on working out. I have 3 days of swimming across the lake planned. People envy my determination. I envy those who relax wondering why I didn’t choose that as my hobby. Honestly though, it is very hard working out when others are having fun. But signing up for a half iron is very motivating.

But don’t worry, I will swim across the lake early in the morning before the drunks come out thicker than the mosquitoes.

Truth be told, I am planning on having some fun. I love the 4th of July weekend. The rich people on the lake have a fireworks contest every night to see who has the biggest and best. A free firework show on the lake without having to find a parking spot, a place to sit, crowds, and having to drive home. It really doesn’t get much better than that!

Plus we will visit with family around the campfire, play games, and pig out.

Paul is going to sail around the lake with us on his 12 ft Puffer sailboat. We will do some fishing and kayaking.

Then we are coming home for a few days and heading up north to Tom and Lisa’s new cabin. It seems like every time we got together with them that it winds up being like the movie The Hangover. (They were the other couple on the accidental overnight sail with us). They are very adventurous which tends to fuel the flames of our adventurousness. The next thing I know I am waking up on the roof in some strange town or something like that..

So, I will be swimming across the lake and working out over my time off. But I also have a lot of other fun things planned so don’t feel too sorry for me.

 

Worth, an Olympic tri

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And just like that my confidence was swept away with the howling of the wind..

We arrived the night before the Olympic triathlon. We dipped our feet in the cold waters of the shore. I had one raspberry daiquiri that felt like four.

We dined at a table next to a family with 5 kids all looking to be under 7 years old. They were well behaved and received the envious stares of a couple with one rambunctious toddler.

I briefly thought of my teenagers who could care less about my race the following day while I glanced at my husband across the table. We were alone. My husband played peek-a-boo with the baby at the table next to us. I felt relief that the young years of parenting are over, but wished I could grasp their interest once more. How incredibly boring my children think I am…

We went to bed early the night before the race. I woke up several times during the night fearing that I would miss my alarm but I never do. I awoke to the sound of athletes outside my window. I felt the tug to get ready early even though I was in one of the last waves to go.

The weather conditions were brutal. It was very windy and hot. I was one of the last few people to start swimming. The first half of the swim was against the strong wind. I couldn’t put my face in the water. I was nervous, breathing fast with a racing heart. Every time I put my head in the water and came up for air, I was hit by the waves. It seemed like I sucked in more water than air. I struggled, sputtered, and coughed. But I did not panic nor did I give up.

The swimming was the hardest part. I felt exhausted before the rest of the race started.

The biking was also challenging. The course was very hilly. The wind blew with a sustained speed of ~25 mph with stronger gusts that were strong enough to take down branches and trees and blow the dirt from the nearby fields into my eyes.

I had to stop a man on a motorcycle for water. I didn’t care that I didn’t know him, that he already was drinking out of it, or that the water was warm.

I struggled up the steep hills against the wind. I hit the brakes going down the hills because the wind took my wheels like a kite and I drifted all over the road. Sometimes there were curves at the bottom of a steep hill. I’ve never road a bike on hills like that before nor did I train for it.

I had to be careful for cars since the roads weren’t closed. I almost got hit by a car going through an intersection that did not stop for the crossing guards. They threw up obscenities towards the reckless driver and mumbled apologies my way.

I was told to slow down on a hill because of loose gravel. A rodent dodged out of my path. My bike helmet was too big and painfully chafed the back of my neck. My skin scorched burning in the heat.

By the time I reached the second transition I was very tired. A man who was already done offered to lift my bike on the rack. He also offered me a pair of socks. I didn’t need the socks. I will remember to go without them next time. I looked and looked for my socks I didn’t need, but I was sitting on one. I left to run with one sock on and one sock off.

Running is my strong suit. I pride myself in not doing a lot of walking during a race. There were a few points that I broke down and walked. I walked under the beating burning sun against the wind up a hill. I prodded myself along by thinking that I was almost done. All the Gatorade and water did nothing to quench my thirst. With the exception of a little cup of ice, all of the drinks I was given were hot.

It took me over 4 hours to cross the finish line, but I didn’t give up. Unbeknownst to me, I signed up for an extremely challenging race under ideal weather conditions.

So far the recovery is going smoother than the marathon recovery last month. Marathon recovery is much more intense and painful. This time I feel more exhausted than I do sore. I spent a lot of time yesterday just bored out of my mind but I couldn’t find the energy to do anything. I couldn’t find the strength to grasp the words that were fluttering through my mind.

In the end, I feel more prepared for the Half Ironman next month. But on the flip side, I feel less confident.

 

The third time’s the charm? Right??

The terror is starting to set in. This weekend I will be running my third marathon. Seriously, at this point, I want to run away. I feel discouraged. I’m having some doubt.

There will be no excuses this time. I am healthy. The weather conditions look absolutely ideal for running. It should be cloudy, dry, and cool.

Last month was the first race of the season. I did an 18 mile trail run with my cousin out of state. I was satisfied with how it went. My cousin was going to join me for this marathon, but due to injury he had to cancel out. I feel disappointment. I had a lot of fun things planned for the weekend besides the marathon.

Now I will be running with Lisa. This is her second marathon. She finished her first in just over 4 hours along with our other friend Cori. I had the expectation on myself that I would complete my first marathon with a similar time. I finished my first half in a little over 2 hours. A marathon should just be double the time, right?? Nope, not for me.

I was injured on my first marathon. I rolled my ankle a couple weeks before the event and still had a little pain. After 26.2 miles of pounding, I was in rough shape and ended in 6 hours. My 2nd marathon, I was afraid. Afraid of getting hurt, afraid of pushing it. It was hot that day, very hot. I ended in 6 hours.

This time the weather conditions are ideal, I am injury free, and there are no excuses.

But I am afraid, very afraid. I am afraid that I am going to fail.

You might be asking yourself…how can any marathon runner be a failure?

I want more for myself…I have goals..I want to compete in a full Ironman by the time I am 45. If I don’t do well this time, there is no way that I will be able to make the time limit for the Ironman. This race is going to make it or break it for me. It will be the deciding factor for future races.

I won’t be making up time lost on running in the swimming or biking department. Running is my strong suit. I can finish a shorter race in a pretty impressive time.

I am a beginning swimmer. I am just learning how to do the breast stroke. Sometimes after finishing my swimming class I am full of confidence, but most of the time I am not.

Can I really do this?? How am I going to feel if I fail in my own eyes?

Everyone around me has been very encouraging. Most people think that I am crazy. This is just the crazy that I allow people to see on the outside of me. But you, my followers and friends, really get to see the full picture. Lol.

As you look in as a spectator of the event, you will see an outward struggle for endurance. But inwardly, I want to outrun my demons. I want to conquer the feeling of not being good enough. I want to be a stronger person. I want to succeed. It’s the inward fight that requires so much more stamina.

The third time is the charm. Right??IMG_0579

Going bananas

This year I signed up an 18 mile trail race, a marathon, an Olympic triathlon, and a Half Iron. This year is going to determine everything…whether I go to the next level or not…

The countdown is on…9 more days until my first race of the season…an 18 mile trail run…probably the least grueling race of the season..

Yesterday, I went for a 6 mile trail run with my friend Lisa. Frankly, I’m not sure if I would have the courage to run it alone. It seems creepy and scary out in the woods alone. I feel like I could become the victim of some twisted fairy tale villain when in reality the only thing that could be twisted besides my mind is an ankle. I fear that pedophiles lurk in the woods out to find a hapless female runner alone. I should probably be more worried about being attacked by ticks..

Lisa is just afraid of bears, black bears.. Yesterday as a woman was exiting the trail, Lisa asked her if she saw any bears…Lisa it is only a sign posted to prevent frivolous lawsuits.. We were well into the run, when we saw something black coming towards us growling through the woods..Oh my gosh..a bear! But it was only a man dressed in all black grunting as he pedaled towards us up over a hill. For a few minutes, I thought I would have to outrun Lisa…no easy task…We must have laughed a half mile about the ‘bear’ we saw in the woods.

All joking aside, we fell into a deep conversation about competing…Those are my favorite conversations…lots of laughter followed by serious conversation..

How is it that we find ourselves never satisfied with what others would consider big accomplishments??

Why am I not happy to have run a marathon if I don’t feel like I did a good job?

Instead, I always want to do better. I always want to accomplish more. More, more, more…I want better times, more difficult challenges…But will that satiate me or will I never be fulfilled?

Or maybe an even deeper question for reflection is…why am I not satisfied with the difficult things in life that I’ve already done?? Why does the big stack of medals lose its luster? Why am I driven to strive for more?? Why am I not content living an ordinary average mundane boring life??

Nevertheless, I am very excited for the start of another racing season…the struggles…the obstacles…the goals…the medals…the achievements…

Oh, and the ‘free’ banana afterwards…

That right there is the reason I do all of the crazy things I do…I’m going (for the) bananas! That is what a lot of people seem to think anyway…