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…

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)…

Sibling bond(age)

My husband grew up as an only child. (How nice!!!). He made a comment that he would give anything to have had siblings. In which I retorted that I would give anything not to have siblings. As the oldest, there was a year and a half that I was an only child. Problem is, I don’t have any recollection of that time. 

I wouldn’t wish my siblings away, but I always wondered what it would be like.

Paul and I both have ‘the grass is greener on the other side’ mentality regarding siblings. Paul recounted being lonely and not having anyone to play with. My idea of being an only child is one of ice cream, candy, and all of the Christmas gifts. Never having to share. Getting all of the attention. Paul’s idea of having a sibling is like being with a good friend all the time that you can play with and talk to. There are a few sibling relationships out there like that. I totally envy them.

What I hear more of is all of the problems. It starts early… Fighting over toys. Feeling like your parents have favorites. Fighting over their time and resources. Who got more birthday or Christmas gifts. Even fighting over possessions after your parents are gone. Or petty fights and jealousies. Who has more money. Who is better looking. Who is smarter. Who is better. The list goes on for most families I know.

Deny it all you want, but we can never stop being compared to our siblings by ourselves or others.

Let’s just say that having siblings makes life more complicated and perhaps more interesting.

Our discussion last night about siblings was a hot button issue with me. I am not even sure why. I think it is probably because my siblings lives have had such a strong impact on mine. 

There have been some really good times. However, most of my strong emotions are tied to the disappointments and hurts. 

Paul has no idea what sibling relationships are like. A lot of times he asks me if our kids sibling relationship is normal.

When we had children, I hoped that my kids would be best friends. Even knowing what I already knew, I still longed for that. It didn’t happen. 

It is amazing how many different personalities can co-exist under one roof. Even though my kids were raised the same way, they are totally different. They even have temperaments or personality traits similar to that of our parents and my siblings which creates very interesting dynamics. Especially if your relationship with the person they remind you of is less than perfect.

Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if I would have been an only child. 

I am willing to bet that most of you are like either Paul or I, wondering what life would be like on the other side. 

Or maybe, just maybe, you are lucky enough to have the perfect sibling (that you actually like). Or had the best of both worlds by being an only child long enough to enjoy having a way younger sibling.


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!

Race the sails

Last night was race night at the sailing club.

It was a windy evening and the waves were high. I am still rocking a bit as I type these lines.

I am an alternate racer when Paul’s regular crew can’t be there.

It is an unwritten rule that men do not race with their wives. The reasoning behind this is that the men get rather worked up and tend to do a lot of yelling and sailor talk. But I figured since I work with my husband I could handle that. So, in other words, I am used to functioning in that mode already. After the race, I was asked if I got yelled at a lot. I replied that I did not get yelled at but did the yelling. Lol. It is a well known fact that I am a lot more competitive than Paul.

After the race, the ladies put on a meal for the sailors. I was one of the very few women that joined the ranks of sailor.

To be honest with you, I would rather go on a leisurely cruise than race though. Racing is a lot of work. Everything happens very fast. At a moment’s notice you have to tack. This requires a lot of upper body strength to pull the lines as fast and as hard as you can. I can see why a lot of women who are older than me would have a hard time doing this. It is hard for me and I consider myself a strong woman.

Racing also requires getting out on the bow with the whisker pole. This pole holds open the sheets in opposite directions to catch the wind. It also looks like someone is out on the bow doing ballet (or pole dancing), which can be tricky when the surface is wet. After they are done with that dance, they should take a bow.

Sometimes racing requires fighting gravity to run from one side of the boat to another quickly over lines that are in the way. Last night I had to get up on the bow to untangle a line. It really is a bigger workout than you would think it would be. It took the wind out of me! All the while fighting off other sailors that are trying to steal your wind..

I took this picture at the boat races last year when I wasn’t racing. The class A sailors use their spinnakers which are the colorful sails at the front of the boat. We are not in class A. We did take 2nd place last night which wasn’t too bad since we botched our start. This weekend there is a full moon sailboat race. Sounds like an adventure to me!

There is no doubt that I will get roped into doing this again.


Hot cross runs

This weekend marks the second anniversary of my first race, a 1ok. I started running races 0ne month before I turned 40. Since then I have run two 5k’s, three 10k’s, one half, and two fulls. I remember that first race very well. I was terrified, not just by all of the people in the race, but by all of the spectators as well. My knees felt wobbly. I was running on rubber chicken legs which wasn’t exactly the kind of rubber I wanted to burn! I felt like running away from the race course, but there were too many people to make my escape. So I concentrated on running as fast as I could and finished in a little over 50 minutes.

The following year, I tried to beat my time from the first 10k. I missed that goal by 45 seconds. My acid reflux was acting up last year to the point where I was quite uncomfortable. I thought that maybe this will be the year for a PR. Tomorrow when I run my 10k, we are expecting temps in the 80’s with high humidity and full sun. This will be the hottest running conditions that I have had to race in. But I am still going to try my hardest even though I think I am being a bit foolish to do so. I foresee this being a big PRoblem with a capital PR.

When I ran the marathon in May, it was the hottest day of the year so far. I don’t do very well under those conditions. We have had only one hot day since the marathon, otherwise it has been cool. Tomorrow it is supposed to be in the 90’s. We typically only reach that temperature a couple of times in the summer. No one will be ready for that kind of heat. I received an email yesterday warning of the heat urging people along the race route to put out sprinklers and to be on the look out for collapsing runners. Plus they are going to set up extra water stations and provide ice.

I will not be running this race alone. Lisa, Paul, and Angel’s boyfriend will be running it too. Lisa got a highly coveted position in corral 1. She finished her first 10k in under 50 minutes. She also completed her first marathon last year in a little over 4 hours which may have been a reason why my expectations were so high. We used to be running partners. She was always better though. Then she moved to Florida. She started working full-time, didn’t run as much, and spent the weekends at the beach. She gained 15 lbs and hasn’t been able to run over 2 miles without stopping. She doesn’t have the confidence that she can be where she once was.

Then there is my husband Paul. He has been running before I even started but never went beyond a 10k. He runs for fun not competitively like Lisa and I. Don’t get me wrong though, he is very tough. He created quite a stir in the neighborhood because for the first couple of years he was a barefoot runner. Yes, it’s true, he ran on the country roads with rocks and glass without anything on his feet at all. Crazy!

He would come home from a run with feet that looked like ground hamburger. He developed rough callouses that scratched holes into the sheets at night. After every run, he had to bandage his bloody feet. Then something happened, the bottom of his feet became tough as leather. I could never do that. I can’t stand being barefoot.

Everywhere we went, people would come up and ask him why he ran barefoot. Some even offered to buy him shoes. Eventually, he ended up buying a pair of minimalist shoes. He has had them for years and they never seem to wear out. It became harder to recondition his feet after every winter.

Angel’s boyfriend signed up for the run last night minutes before the race registration closed. Someone told him that they didn’t think he would be able to do it. So he signed up. He hasn’t trained at all but spends many hours in the gym working out. One time he ran over 30 miles in a day for fun without spending tons of money and getting a “free” banana. Over the summer he is a 2nd shift worker, so I told him he could come after work and sleep on the couch since he lives a lot further away from the race than the rest of us. (I was also worried that he might oversleep the carpool.)

Then this afternoon my son called me to tell me that there was a slight problem with his plans tonight. We had this whole carpooling thing worked out with a group of moms. Alex and some of his buddies got a ride to stay over at a friends house to do some gaming. Then another friend’s mom was going to hand the baton over to me. I was going to take the boys and drop them off at a birthday party tonight at 8. Then another mom was going to pick them up at 11:30 PM to have them home by midnight. Guess what? The last mom in the relay backed out last minute. Thanks a lot! The responsible parents always get stuck with all of the work!!

My son wanted me to pick the boys up at 11:30 and have all 3 of his friends spend the night. That would add the grand total of teenagers in my house to 7 spending the night tonight. Fat chance!

I told him that I would pick him up no later than 10:30 to be home by 11 PM and only one friend could stay overnight as earlier agreed upon. So I guess I won’t be getting my 8 hours of beauty sleep tonight. I will somehow have to manage to wake up at 5:30 AM after having 5 teens in the house. I am really feeling angry at the mom for backing out last minute!

Who has a party for their 15 year old until 11:30 PM anyway?? Crazy!!

We’ll see what tomorrow brings for us. Against my better judgment, I am going to try for a PR. I will not beat myself up if I don’t get it. It will be really hot out, I won’t get any sleep, and all this stress is giving me a stomach ache. Thankfully, it is only a 10k.


Competing events

Today all of my kids competed. I felt just as nervous as if I was competing.

Not only were all three of my kids competing in solo and ensemble, but my youngest daughter Arabella had an additional altogether different competition at a different school. This week I attended the mandatory parent meeting for Arabella’s competition. The leader told the group that anyone with a failing grade would not be able to compete. It was at this point that I leaned over to my daughter’s coach (one of my best friends) and said good thing they weren’t talking about my child. They were talking about my daughter! WTH??  I raced home to find out that she was failing choir (really, choir???!?) because she didn’t turn in an assignment when she was out of school getting her braces on. So I never did sign up that night to help out.

A couple days later I received a nasty call because I never signed up to volunteer at the event. The leader wanted me to help with concessions between 10 and 11. I said no. Between my kids, they were signed up for 11 S&E events. I was not even going to be able to be there for Arabella’s competition because my other two kids were competing at similar times. Paul was going to go. I was not going to drop seeing my kids events because someone was stupid enough to double schedule this event with S&E. She told me that if I didn’t help out that they were not going to do this in the future. I reiterated that I was not going to help from 10 to 11, mentioned all the times I did my fair share, and offered to help clean up after the award ceremony.

Then later this week right before S&E, Arabella told me that she broke her instrument. Ok, sure. What next? It was already crazy enough having to be at two different places at the same time!

Last night I set my alarm for 5:40 AM to get up in time for the show. I have never been so thankful for waking up early on a Saturday morning before. Especially since I accidently set the alarm for 5:40 PM. That could have been disasterous!

Arabella performed her two pieces first so she could leave for her other competition. Her band duet was horrible. Apparently her friend was playing french horn out of a trumpet book and the instruments were in 2 different keys. So it sounded like they were playing two different clashing songs. They took a 2nd on their class C. She also took a 2nd on her choir piece. Not too bad for as bad as the band piece sounded. Alex took a 2nd on his band piece as well.

As usual, Angelique stole the show. All 8 of her choir pieces made it to state. I can usually tell it’s good if the worst comment the judges make is on where to take breaths. She better be good since she wants to go into vocal performance as a career! Last year all of her pieces made it to state. She took all firsts at state and received an exemplary award. One of the best things a judge said was that her happy attitude was contagious.

Then I made it back to Arabella’s competition just in time for the award ceremony. Her team did not make it to state this year. Oh well, they had fun anyway. Then I stayed after to clean up. I came home tonight pretty exhausted. Almost like I ran a marathon. Lol.   

All in all, the day ended on a good note.