Running on the last leg

I think my treadmill is on its last leg.

We bought it used almost 2,000 miles ago.

The liner under the belt is starting to unravel. It is coming off in big chunks that look like dust. It almost looks like I don’t use my treadmill or am bad at cleaning my house.

Every time I step on it, the treadmill growls. Seriously, I didn’t gain that much weight over the holidays!

Now I have to hang on to the hand rails when I run because sometimes it stops without warning or catches which might propel me into a wall.

Hey, at least it didn’t start to smoke!

So, I am faced with having to buy a new treadmill or join a gym.

If I join the gym I would actually have to drive a half an hour, share machines with strangers, and shave once in awhile.

But I could bike and swim in the winter. It has been hard to train outside when the lakes are frozen and the roads are icy.

Plus, it would get rid of an ugly piece of furniture(?) in my small house.

There are so many pros and cons to each scenario. I liked having a gym membership, but found it harder to make it work out with my busy schedule.

What do you do to make training easier over the winter??

 

In too deep…again..

In 2016, I kept track of how many miles I ran and biked over the year. I’m sure glad that is over! Keeping track of it all was a lot of work.

Running: 794 miles

Biking: 298 miles

I also did Jillian Michael’s video No More Trouble Zones 15 times. I am happy to report that my trouble zones are now gone. Thanks Jillian!

This past year I achieved my goals of competing in one 5k, one 10k, a half marathon, a full marathon, and my first sprint triathlon.

Now I am looking forward to a new year with very challenging goals.

I tend to like to dip my feet in the water before jumping in all the way.

I am happy to start with a 10k or sprint because I have learned so much before moving on to bigger and better things. The first race I ever ran was a large 10k. The first mile that I ran I was so terrified that I wanted to run off the course and sit down with the spectators. I wasn’t expecting anxiety. I learned from that experience.

I also learned from my first sprint triathlon. I learned how to ride a race bike which is a lot different from the bike I tore around town in as a kid. I am still learning how and when to switch gears. I relearned balance and speed, but not without going into the ditch on a turn. I learned where to bike to avoid cars. I also learned not to hug the ditch after almost hitting a skunk.

I learned that I am not as good of a swimmer as I thought I was. My two months of lessons as an 8 year old never prepared me for this. At race speed, I had a hard time maintaining a rhythmic breathing pattern. I didn’t take into consideration needing to take breaths more often. I was the one floundering around doing the doggy paddle gasping for breath. I also noticed that my left arm is a lot stronger than my right and ended up taking myself into deep water versus staying on course. To go any further with this, I need swimming lessons and a lot more practice.

More lessons learned..

Yesterday, I signed up for my third marathon. I know that I told you to talk me out of it, but it is too late. I also signed up for my first trail half marathon. I am going to do these events with my cousin.

I also mentioned finding a wet suit for myself on clearance. While I was at the fitness store, I ran into the director of a triathlon on Lake Michigan. He said that last year the swimmers faced 1 to 2 foot waves. Half of the participants couldn’t do it. The ones that did felt like they were on a roller coaster ride and not in a good way. Then the participants had to bike in rainy conditions. It was very grueling and many didn’t make it. The sad part was that I didn’t cringe in terror. Something inside of me said sign up. Crazy!?!!

Yesterday I went on the triathlon’s website just for the heck of it. I noticed that the tri was open for less than 24 hours and was nearing full capacity. That is how I ended up signing up for my first half Iron. Now I am absolutely cringing in terror, but excited too.

Looks like I will have more adventures to share with you (lessons to learn)…

Oh deer!

  

I awoke this morning to find a doe in the dead center of my driveway. 

I knew it was going to be an interesting day.

It certainly wasn’t what I meant when I said bring me the dough…Hmmm..

Why my driveway? Why!!?! We got a few strange looks… Some idiot probably hit it at bar time and left it in our driveway.. Geez…

I took advantage of the sad situation by having a photo shoot. I was happy that she seemed to be out of her misery quickly.

Do you notice anything peculiar about this picture? Besides the obvious of having a deer blocking my driveway. I mean, really?? How often does something like that happen??

In this picture, I am wearing a sleeveless shirt and shorts……in the middle of November! It has been a warm fall. It feels more like September than November. Yesterday I saw someone mowing their lawn in shorts! I only had to use the treadmill once this season and that was because it was pouring out. I usually start running on the treadmill in the beginning of October when the first flurries start to fall. 

It has been a great season for running and biking. I see so much wildlife on my journeys. Sometimes I sing to the cows as I breeze by. I am goofy like that. 

One of the craziest times on my bike happened last week the day after Election Day. I don’t know if I was suffering from a total sleep hangover or what. My whole route seemed ominous. The eerie silence was broken by the howling of a large pack of dogs in the distance. I always wondered what to do about dogs on my road bike. Do I try to outrun them and possibly end up somehow tripping over them at high speeds or stop and let myself get mauled? Jury is still out on that one.. I did see a huge dog on that day. It’s owner was dragging behind him on a leash. I wondered if it would be the day he would break away. Thankfully not!

Then there was noise coming from the railroad tracks. It set off a donkey that started braying loudly. I think I ride on the zoo route. I’ve seen horses, donkeys, alpacas, roosters, deer, skunks, squirrels, cats, and a plethora of dogs. 

Anyway, back to the story..I got to the railroad tracks and noticed they were doing some sort of repairs. There was a backhoe on the tracks coming towards me at a fast clip. WTH?? Who has the right of way? Who yields?? I wish I would have worried about all of the possibilities because I didn’t know..

That day I also noticed all of the Trump signs flapping in the wind. It struck me that I didn’t see any Hillary signs along my routes. How strange that our state turned from a blue state to a red state. I remember just a few years back when my route was filled with Recall Walker signs. (Our state had a recall vote to recall our governor which didn’t go through). My neighbor was one of the few that had a ‘I stand with Walker’ sign. Someone dumped a jar full of nails in his driveway that year. Who knows, maybe someone would’ve dumped nails in his yard if he put a Hillary sign out this year…People here can be a little strange. It’s the long winters.

Talking about winter, I heard that this long wonderful warm spell is coming to a grinding halt this weekend just in time for the opening of deer hunting season. We will have strong winds and snow. YES, SNOW! We haven’t even had a flurry yet…Today I even got tan lines from running…

Good bye, summer! Hello, winter! Oh deer!

Give it a tri!?!!

Last week I ran into Anna, an acquaintance of mine that completed the Ironman this year. She said that if she could do, so could I.

Anna had quite a few obstacles in her way to complete the Ironman. She injured her leg which made it nearly impossible for her to run over a few miles without pain. She had to take a lot of time off of training to get back on her feet again. She also has a demanding full-time job which required her to travel a lot and took up a lot of her training time. She is in her mid 40’s with 2 children. She didn’t feel prepared. She had a severe panic attack during the competition while she was surrounded by people in the water. She was tempted to give up, but didn’t.

Anna made it through, she persevered. One of the saddest parts of her competition was that she did not have the loving support of her family. Her husband stayed at home, not because he had other things to do but because he didn’t want to go. She only had a few friends accompany her, but not just for her since our mutual friend Cori competed too.

Despite the obstacles, Anna succeeded. Why can’t I??

Really, why can’t I??

I never saw myself competing in the full Iron, but Anna really made me reconsider.

Maybe I should have a new goal to complete the full Iron by 45. Then I could get my first tattoo, an Ironman insignia.

Thanks Anna for motivating me!

I am terrified, but I really want to give this a tri!

**One thing I’ve always wondered is what Ironmen do after the big event is over (since they literally invested years into the sport). I asked Anna and Cori what was next on their list. Neither seemed to know. Anna said that Ironman recovery wasn’t all that bad. But she also said that she wanted to take some time to heal. Cori said that she would do whatever. I really don’t understand, but maybe someday I will.**

 

Reel to real

I awoke Saturday morning to the steady beat of pounding rain. I wanted to go back to sleep but signed up to do a 20 mile bike ride as part of a fundraiser for our church. For a brief moment, I had an internal struggle while watching the rain fall from my window. There was a brisk north wind and the temperature plummeted overnight.

Then I thought of my friends that were doing the Iron Man this weekend and my cousin that was running a 100k overnight while I spent the night sleeping. Reluctantly, I rubbed my bleary eyes and got up.

It was the least I could do for my church, right??

Once I got to the church, I paired up with another parishioner who decided to bike 20 miles. I eyed her skeptically to see if she would keep up with me since she was over ten years older than me. The funny thing is that she taught me a thing or two how to be a better bike rider while I struggled to keep up with her.

One big mistake that I made was deciding to wear a cheap plastic rain poncho to keep dry. The poncho flapped in the wind like a loose sail. It made a lot of noise and slowed me down. I ended up borrowing the other woman’s jacket at her insistence which I was rather embarrassed about. The ride went well despite the off and on rain. I checked 20 miles off my bucket list.

After the morning festivities, Paul and I spontaneously invited Ted and Cindy over for the rest of the day. It was Ted’s birthday, we had them over to grill out and have a fire even though we had plans to sail with them the following day.

Now, about the fire… A few weeks ago my mom gave me a box filled with my birth announcement, letters, birthday cards from the first two years of life, pictures, and a reel to reel of my first birthday that I need to check out. She gave this box to me right before my daughter left home. It seemed like a very hard time to go through this box.

After Angel left I did open the box. It was filled with cards from people that were long deceased, divorced, or people that I didn’t even know. I read a few letters, some mentioned the struggle between going back to work and staying home. Others talked of new recipes.

Letters seem so strange to me now. They seem so simple with talk of everyday life…baptisms…a new pair of shoes…food.. Maybe it is really not all that different if I printed off old emails or looked at everyone’s posts for the month on Facebook.

We are flooded with so much information day to day in our modern world, that maybe I just tune out things I deem as unimportant without realizing it.

A few things struck me from this box. One letter to my mother said that her life would never be the same again. That much was true, very true.

I also found some pictures of my mom right before she delivered me. My mother being as modest as she is was completely mortified. I called her and asked her if she actually looked through everything in the box before she gave it to me. She asked me to burn the pictures. There is a part of me that wishes that I never said anything because she was so young, beautiful, and full of life… Really it was nothing inappropriate or to be ashamed of…but to her it was an embarrassing reminder of younger days..

Saturday night I had a fire at my house. I burned away every trace of my mother’s life right before it changed forever..

Something is fishy- 911, poison control, and other parenting mishaps

This morning while riding my bike, I thought of what I might write. I was so deep in thought that I almost hit a skunk. Of course, that would have been a very interesting story. The little stinker was two feet away in the ditch. It could’ve had a good shot at my legs if I would’ve screamed like I wanted to. Glad I avoided that bump in the road. Phew!

I was thinking about the time when Angel was a little girl. I had a friend over that had a little boy Angel’s age. The boy was a bit of a stinker. He still is as far as I know. They were playing quietly in the other room. That should have been the first indication that there was a problem.

When I entered the room, I noticed that they emptied a large container of fish food into the tank. I couldn’t even see the fish. A few of them died that day. It looked like a big tank of corn flakes that has been sitting in milk all day. It was a huge filthy mess. I spent the afternoon unexpectedly cleaning out the fish tank with my friend.

It made me think of other stories of fish tanks over the years. Like that time when my youngest aunt took her wild kids over to my cleaning freak uncle’s house. The kids were running wild and they knocked over the fish tank. They got kicked out of the house that day. It probably didn’t help that their parents laughed about it instead of offering to clean up the mess.

Then it brought me back to the time when I was a kid when our fish tank broke. We had our fish tank near a front door that was never used. One day my brother Luke came through the front door quickly. He flung the door open and the handle went straight through the fish tank breaking a hole in the glass. Water leaked all over the floor and was seeping into the basement which angered my dad.

I reached into the fish tank to save the fish cutting my arm on the broken glass. My dad grabbed me and threw me out of the house while swearing at me. It was a very painful moment in my life. I was just trying to save the fish.

As I was riding, I realized that a majority of my most remembered childhood memories are tragic. There is a little drawer in my mind where they are stored. They never change but are starting to fade away. The strange part is that all of the emotions that go along with those tragic events are stored in a different drawer. That drawer is locked, sometimes I can open the drawer and sometimes I cannot. I don’t seem to have control over whether the key works. Mainly, I want the door to remain locked with the key hidden away. Writing about these things sometimes unlocks the door. I can see why people don’t want to think or write about such things.

Then I spent some time pouring over other painful memories. Still no emotions at all. Nothing. Then I thought for awhile if there were any good memories in there from my childhood. Any at all?? Then I thought of all of the evenings that my mom would take us on walks to visit my grandparents and Aunt Grace whom lived nearby. Those were the best memories. I remembered the comfort, quiet, and peacefulness of their houses. I remembered visiting with them talking about nothing of importance. Those memories are tinged with emotion, more of a nostalgia that my grandparents and Aunt Grace are all gone now.

Then I put my bike and thoughts away, took a shower, and headed to work..

 

Birthday blues

Tomorrow is my birthday.

What do I want? Something that can’t be bought in a store.

I want a day of peace and tranquility. Just one day that is problem free. I want an escape from my normal routine.

Every day is the same. I start a couple loads of laundry before heading off to work. I deal with problems at work. Then I deal with problems at home. Sometimes simultaneously. After I make supper, clean the kitchen, and fold laundry I finally get to go to bed. I wake up and do it all over again the next day. Although I enjoy working and keeping busy, sometimes adulting can be monotonous and the responsibility burdensome.

I have to work tomorrow. After work, the kids want to do something with me. All I want from them is peace. I don’t want to hear any fighting. Even when we play games, they constantly tease each other by calling names or saying that their siblings suck. They say that it is all in jest, but I don’t find it very funny.

Paul has play practice on my birthday. I should’ve known to lower my expectations when he got the lead part in the summer play. He doesn’t have time for me anymore. I was hoping that he would go up north with me last weekend. When we got together with theater friends last week, he spontaneously offered to take them sailing this past weekend. So he did that instead. Then he asked me to crew for his race last night, but I was replaced by his theater friends. I was okay with that because I only wanted to be a sub. However, he has been sailing with a much younger single woman (not alone) from the theater that thinks he’s hot. I guess I would care more if she was attractive. I was hoping to sail with Paul for almost a week for our anniversary, but we cut it back to a weekend for play practice. I am getting really sick of it already.

I feel left out. I didn’t know all of the inside jokes. I am just an introvert who wants to feel included, but doesn’t want to go. I feel like no one cares about me. The kids really don’t need me much anymore. Sometimes I don’t really care about me either. I almost got hit by a car this morning while I was out riding my bike. The lady almost went through a stop sign. She slammed on her brakes last minute when she saw me. I didn’t get angry like I usually do. I didn’t really care. Hey, I’m still here!

Although my best friend Lisa moved home almost two months ago, we have only seen each other twice. I don’t feel like running with her. I would rather be alone.

When I was a kid, my mom made a very big deal out of my birthday. It was the one day of the year that my life wasn’t all about my autistic brother. I think because of that I have high expectations of how that day should go. Every year it seems harder and harder to get excited. My birthday always signifies the middle of summer. It is going by so quickly this year. I don’t want summer to end and I don’t want to get any older!

Tomorrow I will be 21 (doubled). Gulp! Ready or not, here I come.

My first tri

This past weekend I crossed doing a triathlon off my bucket list.

I was feeling rather nervous and edgy the evening before the race when I went to pick up my race packet. I was not familiar with the town, only having been there once before the race. The lake was a lot bigger than I remembered it being. I was afraid that I would have to swim across it. A few people told me horror stories right before the race about people grabbing legs and dragging you down while swimming. I spoke to the coordinator of the event who put my mind relatively at ease. The race was capped at 150 participants. I was starting in the last wave with my age group. 

It was hard to sleep the night before. I set several alarms around the house for 5 AM. Honestly, I was up before 5 at the first crack of dawn. I was really worried that I would forget something or that I would have problems with my bike. But all was well. My friend Cori and her daughter were also in the race. Cori is a half iron finisher so she gave me a lot of advice and a tri outfit to wear. She showed me how to position my gear to make for a faster transition.

Then Cori told me that it was a swimming tri. Instead of doing a normal sprint tri of 400 meters, this race was a 750 meter swim almost a half mile. This was a concern of mine since swimming was my weakest link. I started swimming a month before the race. The only experience I had before that were a couple of basic swimming lessons when I was a kid. I got a lot of swimming advice from Cori which was probably a mistake.

Cori told me to swim in open water to train. But Cori is terrified of swimming in open water whereas I am not. So I practiced swimming in open water after training for the marathon when the weather was nice. I don’t have a gym membership or a wet suit. What I did not practice was lap swimming. This would have helped me strengthen my core and swim in a straight line. The swimming course veered to the right. I am left handed with a stronger left arm that took me away from the course into deep water. I had a hard time swimming in a straight line and ended up zigzagging across the course with my head out of water to see where I was going. Big no no. I had a sore neck afterwards which really tells you that I was doing it all wrong.

I was not the last swimmer in my age group, but was close to the end. The distance was twice as far as what I was practicing for. I did not have good technique or form. It was my biggest area for improvement. I decided that I will start learning technique and will practice lap swimming over the winter. All in all I was satisfied for the amount of training I did. 

I don’t think that I really needed to practice the water to bike transition as much as I needed to practice the bike to running transition. It took several times before I got used to the wobbly feeling after biking to be able to run like normal.

The biking part of the tri went fairly well. I didn’t see a lot of people for this part at all. I passed one person and one person passed me, otherwise it was pretty lonely. For awhile there was no one on the road in front of me or behind me. At times I thought that I was on the wrong path until I came across an empty Gu packet. On the route, I did slow down a bit when three deer crossed the road in front of me. I started off the biking going pretty fast until I rounded a corner, hit a bump, and lost control of my bike. I flew into the ditch but was able to get back on the road before falling or crashing. It scared me a little, enough to slow down a bit. Thankfully no one was around to see my show. It was hard to stay motivated until I saw someone up ahead that I could pass.

I think that I was pretty average as far as biking goes. I need more confidence which will come with experience. I am still not sure how to easily switch gears and sometimes would put it on the wrong speed. I also have to work on my balance and keeping control of my bike while staying in my lane. Oh, then there is the chafing. I wasn’t quite expecting that. 

Last came the run. As I was biking in, I saw a lot of walkers. Running is my strong suit. I left my bike running. I ran fast and hard. I was able to pass about 15 people on the running. This is the first race that I ran without music. It was fun to hear the people cheer. I was worried that getting my music on would slow my transition. I also saw in the rules that it was not allowed and I didn’t want to be disqualified on my first tri. Lol. I also stopped at stop signs which was a bike rule although others didn’t. The tri was so small that they weren’t able to close down the roads. Although there were times I didn’t see a car for miles. It was mainly on scenic wooded back roads.  

Overall, I was able to complete my first tri around the two hour mark which put me right in the middle of my age group. My goal was not to place or even finish. This time I wanted to learn everything I could. Then take that knowledge to go further, improve myself, tri something new, push myself towards new goals, and to have a fun time competing. 

Tri success!

Tri training for a new adventure

This weekend I will be doing my first tri. I am excited for the 3 day holiday weekend. We have plans to go up north, then do my first tri, and end by sailing into town for the fireworks. Nothing like a relaxing couple of days off. Not! I love the adventure.

I feel like I am as ready as I am going to be. Yesterday I completed my last day of training. It didn’t go as good as I expected, but I didn’t want to push things too hard the week of the event.

Everybody told me to train in open water for the swimming portion of the event. I did not train in a swimming pool at all. I have never been a serious swimmer but have never been afraid of water. I wish I would’ve started training in a swimming pool a few months ago, but don’t have a gym membership. After training for a marathon and having a cool spring, I didn’t have the chance to jump into open water until the beginning of June. I decided to swim in the scariest waters that I know, out by the sailing club.

The water at the sailing club is rather murky. I have to climb down some jagged rocks to get to the edge of the water. I jump into the water from an algae encrusted rock slightly underwater. I see a lot of weeds and big fish nearby. Then I swim out to the end buoy in the sailboat channel and back. Each time I try, I get more confident with putting my face in the water.

Yesterday, I had the misfortune of having seagulls build a nest on the first buoy. As I got closer, they started to dive bomb me while shrieking seagull cuss words. A few weeks before, Paul and I saw some seagulls attack pelicans that came near their nests. That still fresh in my memory, I decided to cut my swim short.

I also decided to change my biking route too. Why is it that I am more afraid of wild animals and creepy guys in vans than fast moving vehicles on narrow roads? I didn’t like biking on the county road because it did not have a bike lane. Instead it had narrow gravel shoulders with deep ditches. Last week I saw a car pass me right in front of an oncoming semi. I figured that it probably wasn’t safe for me or the other drivers. Especially since I heard of two more bicyclists getting struck and killed on similar roads since the last time I was out.

Instead of the main road, I decided to take very rural deeply wooded roads. Think Little Red “Riding” Hood on the path to grandma’s through the forest. The first road was surprisingly very pleasant. The only wildlife I saw was a harmless bunny. I even saw another biker and no cars whatsoever. The road was well paved. The last road was horrible. It was terribly rutted, cracked, and full of potholes which made biking fast close to impossible.

The running leg of my journey was fine. However, I think that if I decide to go any further with this hobby I will have to makes changes for a safer and better training route.

I am not sure what will happen next year yet. When I was at the wedding, I spoke to my cousin who lives far away. He said he might be interested in coming my way next spring to run the marathon with me. I told him that if he does that, I would be willing to travel out of state to his area to run a race with him. He mentioned a trail marathon. So, we’ll see if that pans out or not. He is planning on running a 100k this fall. I think he is crazy! But he has teenagers and has had to deal with situations more difficult than mine. I can totally relate to the desire to self-destruct in a positively healthy way.

After all, I am still outrunning my demons and probably always will be…