The thickness of water

Last week I ran into my aunt at the gym..I can almost hear you whisper to yourself…who cares?…Maybe if I told you that my aunt and uncle are going through a nasty divorce after being married over 30 years…my uncle is blood, my aunt is the water…that is the thick and thin of it..

When I saw my aunt at the gym, I gave her a big hug…I am the person that shies away from hugs, not the person that seeks out people in sweaty gym clothes to hug.

I didn’t even take her side…she wanted to leave…he wanted her to stay.

I am not sure why at the moment I hugged her after all of the hurt she caused.

I miss the times I visited them when I was a child…Nostalgia for the moments past…And, yes, I miss her.

When I was a child, there weren’t many happy moments at home. But there were many happy moments at my aunt and uncle’s home.

My mom would take my brothers and I to their house on a hot summer night and we would swim until dark. Afterwards, we would stay up late watching scary movies like Poltergeist.

I love swimming and scary movies. It reminds me of the happiest days of my childhood.

Sometimes I wonder if we like certain things just because they remind us of a good feeling…and perhaps the opposite could be true too…dislike for things that are reminders of bad times..

Then I wonder…what if certain periods of our life are so difficult that even good ‘things’ remind us of bad times…Can that trigger feelings of sadness?

Can we like things that we wouldn’t otherwise like just because of memories of doing those things with loved ones, like fishing for example…Or do we simply like what we like irregardless of relationships, memories, and emotions…

Here I go off on a thinking tangent again

Maybe one of the reasons I saw my aunt at the gym was because of my love of swimming. We joined the gym again so I could practice swimming for the half Iron, something I probably won’t have even thought of trying if I was afraid of water.

Sometimes I love being on water more than land.

I certainly did not learn that from my parents..

My mother doesn’t swim and is afraid of water.

The only time my dad went swimming he terrorized me by pulling me under, throwing weeds or death stuff at me, or dragging me out into the weeds and forcing me to stand there even though I was afraid.

One of my most traumatic childhood memories is of being in charge of watching my younger brothers in the water when I was 6. I stood speechless in terror unable to call for help while my youngest brother struggled for air, choked on water, and almost drowned…My mom left me in charge for only a few minutes…Minutes that could’ve lasted forever…

I should be terrified of water.

Instead I love the feel of water around me. I love the bubbles that flow through my fingers. For some reason, I associate water with happiness instead of fear..

I have to wonder if my love for swimming sprouted from those hot summer nights at my aunt and uncle’s years ago.

It is sad to see their marriage come to an end. I have always known them to be together..But maybe, just maybe, there will be more stolen sweaty hugs at the gym. For a few moments, it can take me back to those warm (sweaty) happy summer nights when they were still together…back to some of the happiest days of my childhood.

 

 

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)…

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.**

 

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…

Tri happinessĀ 

My first triathlon is two weeks away. Today was the first time that I put all three events (swimming, biking, and running) together.

I’ll admit I was pretty nervous. Paul loaded up all of my gear into his truck and drove me to the sailing club while I talked to him about all of my fears. He said that it would take a lot less time if I talked about what I wasn’t afraid of. Really this it what it is about for me, conquering my fears.

I stood at the edge of the water for a long time. Could I do it? I had to get my nerve. I never saw anyone swim at the sailing club before. Paul said not to swim near the boats because I could get electrocuted. Hhhhmmm, that wasn’t on my long list of fears…so I added it. I looked down at the algae encrusted rock that I decided to jump in from. I saw a very large fish swim away into the weeds. I heard loud bullfrogs croaking nearby. I felt like I might croak as well.

There were quite a few people at the club this morning. Could I face them again if I wimped out? After about 20 minutes, I finally jumped in. I swam a total of 1/3 of a mile near the buoys. Just to explain, I was swimming in a large body of water. On the way back, I freaked out a little. The waves were trying to push me beyond the buoys. I worried about riptides. I thought about the story I heard last week of someone drowning from a riptide. Or what if a sailboat was trying to go in or out of the harbor and I didn’t notice? Somehow I managed to get back without being eaten by a fish with teeth, giant turtles, or man eating bullfrogs. I did get swooped by a few birds though.

Then I did the transition from water to bike. I bought elastic shoelaces this week. I came up with the idea of putting them on my old running shoes. Worked great! I biked home. The first mile was over deserted back roads. I feared rabid crazed dogs chasing me. Or sexual predators. How I prayed not to be prey. The rest of the way home was on a busy county road that had narrow shoulders and deep ditches. Somehow I managed to not get hit by a car so it was a good day.

Then I went for a 3 mile run. I feel most confident with my running. As I was nearing the end, I noticed that a car stopped and parked on the road up ahead. Did I do all of this work just to get bumped off now? 

Somehow I survived and I am happy with how it went.

Less than an hour

It sure was a hot run yesterday. With the heat I wasn’t able to achieve a PR for yesterday’s 10k. I still finished under an hour which was my updated goal for this race. Even Lisa, the fastest runner in our group, wasn’t able to beat my previous times. She still finished ahead of me though. At mile 4, I started feeling a little light headed and my knee started to ache. But I kept pushing on. It is easier to talk your mind into running hard for a 10k after having a hard run a few weeks back at the marathon. 

With the heat, everyone in my group added on about 7 minutes to their PR for this race. Angel’s boyfriend Mitch completed his first 10k. I beat his time by a couple of minutes. I think that he would have been faster if he didn’t take a bathroom break at mile 2. Oh, and if he didn’t have to stop to throw up when the finish line was in sight. Maybe if he actually trained, he could be a really good runner. I spent the ride home giving him unsolicited advice on how to be a better runner. How annoying, right?? Since Mitch and Angel have been a serious couple for over 2 1/2 years, there is a possibility of me being a potential mother-in-law which severely limited his ability to tell me to shut up. 

I was satisfied with the results of the race. I finished in the top 10% of my age group and overall female participants. So, for today, I will not talk about how much I suck even though I would’ve liked a PR. Sometimes I feel so competitive that I think something is wrong with me. My husband and I listed each other as emergency contacts. Then I thought with the heat that perhaps this was a bad idea. If my husband collapsed at mile 2 and I was at mile 4 I would probably finish and go back for him later. Talk about being a kind and compassionate wife.   I just want to kick some butt!

After the race, we decided to go for a sail to swim in the ice cold water to cool off. The temps went from 80 to 90 degrees in the matter of a few hours with high humidity and winds that whipped enough for a good sail. We also went from having 5 teenagers in the house before the race up to having 8 in a matter of a few hours too. But we couldn’t take everyone sailing. 

Paul and I asked Alex the night before if he wanted to sail and he said “no”. So we stuck with our plan to take Angel and Mitch. We also took Arabella and her best friend. Arabella’s BFF has red hair and the whitest skin I have ever seen. Her skin burns when she looks outside at the sun through a window. She spent a lot of time hiding in the cabin of the boat. The winds were strong enough to heel pretty good, so strong that Angel went running towards the side of the boat in the middle of a jibe because she thought she would be sick. Thankfully, however, that has never happened yet even with rum dumb Randy last week. We had a great time at the beach and even found some friends to tie up next to. Let the summer fun begin!

All in all, it was a great day. I won’t complain about the hot days because we have been waiting a long time for this. Although, my friend did ask me to tell her when I sign up for another race so she doesn’t. Seems like it is always hot. I have never had to race in stormy weather though. 

Racing sure was a great way to spend (less than) an hour of my time!  

In deep water

Last week I signed up for my first triathlon which prompted me to get myself into deep water.

This last weekend my two daughters, the neighbor girl, and I decided to go up north. The weather forecast didn’t look too promising, but it was the only weekend I had available this month to go up. The decision was pushed along a little further by Angel who really wanted to go. She is looking for a summer job and said that it will probably be one of the last weekends that she wouldn’t have to work. Plus I wanted to practice swimming in open water. So we packed our bags and went.

Last minute my brother Luke and his family came up. So did my parents with Matt. In the past, I wouldn’t have been able to bring visitor children up north. But it has been almost 14 years since Matt had a meltdown and hurt anyone, so I felt pretty safe. But I think there will always be the hesitation in my decisions regarding Matt. I can’t seem to forget how things used to be. Things that this new generation rarely had opportunity to see.

When the cabin is packed, sometimes we are in pretty tight quarters. I had to share a bed with my 6 year old niece Gracie one night and her 8 year old sister Mavis the next night. Now, as I found out, Mavis is a restless sleeper. She tossed and turned all night long. Sometimes I would wake up with her legs draped over me or her knee wedged in my hip socket. She stole my covers and they were strewn all over the room before the night was over, or it least it seemed that way. So needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep. Sorry if this post makes little sense! Zzzzzzz….

I have to swim 750 meters or about 1/2 mile for the tri. Saturday I decided to swim half way across the lake and back which is close to a 1/2 mile. I never swam across the lake without a tube or flotation device before. I will admit that even though I love water, I was a bit nervous. At times, I was a bit out of breath. I gasped for air and got a mouth full of water instead. At one point, a weed wrapped itself around my inner thigh which elicited a shriek. I have a fear of weeds. That caused my mind to become fearful. When I looked underwater, I thought that I saw big fish, turtles, underwater laughing loons, muskrats, man eating piranhas, or cadavers lurking in the water beneath me. My mind was playing tricks on me at the end. C’mon, it was only a weed! I didn’t have the security of escape. I wasn’t quite expecting how that would feel. 

This morning I told myself and everyone else that I would be swimming across again. I made a huge breakfast of eggs, hash browns, and bacon which I took my time preparing and eating. Then I had a long winded theological debate with my parents. I made sure to wait for the bathroom when the line was the longest. I took my time cleaning the kitchen and washing dishes. Was I stalling, perhaps?? This morning was a bit of a bear. I didn’t sleep well for two nights. It was raining with temps in the mid 60’s with 20 mph winds. Even the hardiest of children did not want to attempt a fun dip in the cool waters this morning. To be honest, neither did I.

Then my mom told a story of someone that fell out of a boat in a nearby lake that got wrapped in the weeds and drowned. She said that is why they had to kill the weeds in the lakes. What??!? Are you kidding me? I never heard such a thing! My mom told me to ask my dad. I asked him and it started another debate between my parents over weeds. Another delay! My mom prompted me to back out which made me want to even more. I did worry slightly about the vast amount of water that I ingested. Perhaps it was full of weed killing poison. Argghh!

I put on my swimming suit and finally headed for the water. The winds were catapulting pine cones at my head, but at least it stopped raining. An eagle circled above. I stood in the water wrapped in my towel for about 15 minutes until I could find the courage to embrace the cool water. I really wanted to chicken out. I really, really did. But I finally did it! I had a very similar experience as yesterday. But I was satisfied with it. I finally was able to get myself into deep water.

Branching out


Not only did I watch my daughter graduate this past weekend, have a small party for her, run 6 miles, watch a parade, walk some more, and sail a couple hours…I also spent a whole day up north getting the cabin ready for the season. And I wonder why I am tired!?!

This typically isn’t a terribly daunting task. It usually involves sweeping and vacuuming up tons of dead ladybugs. Big whoop! But this year was different. This past year several of our big trees had to be cut down because of oak wilt. That left the yard full of dead logs, branches, and brush. Unfortunately, due to a bit of a miscommunication and a broken axle on an old wagon that caused the wheel to fly off into someone’s yard, my brother Mark was unable to join us in the clean up while we were there.

That left my brother Luke, my husband Paul, my son Alex, and I to do the heavy lifting and yard work. Now I have complained in the past about not being able to help the guys. This year they needed me and I complained about how heavy everything was. Nevertheless, they hear me complain every year about how strong I am when there is no work for me to do and about how weak I am when there is a lot of heavy lifting. Lol.

We spent the day raking brush, picking up sticks, and stacking wood through brief sporadic rain showers. We were filthy. Then we put the dock in. I helped carry the dock to the water. The hardest part all day was putting the large raft into the water. We couldn’t move the huge logs without Mark and his chain saw. So we had to tilt the raft on its side and push it in through a narrow treeless gap. Alex and I had to use our arms to hold up the raft making sure it did not tip over. After awhile my arms started shaking. There were a couple rough patches where I jolted my back. Whine, whine, whine. We weren’t even sure that we would be able to get it in the water with all of the wood in the way, but we did. Paul urged us to keep working. What a work horse! That is one of the things that I like most about Paul, he has an incredible work ethic. Not a lazy bone in his body. 

This weekend I am planning on going up north and swimming despite a forecast of stormy cool weather. Yesterday I signed up for my first triathlon. I felt fearful when I had to sign the waiver that promised we wouldn’t sue if this activity causes injury or death. Oh my, now what did I get myself into?? If I can run a marathon, I can do a small triathlon. Right???

I practiced the bike to running transition and this weekend I want to work on swimming. Then my plan is to put it all together. I sure hope that I am giving myself enough time since the triathlon is in a month. It has been really cold this year to go out swimming in open water. 

Today I biked 12 miles followed by a 3 mile run. I haven’t biked that far since I was a teenager without transportation. I found it to be very tri-ing. Lol.

I had to keep repeating the same mantra over and over. I am a marathon runner. I am a marathon runner. I am a marathon runner! Imba maraphonn rrrumber…. 

Cabin chaos, part 4

image

A couple of years back, Paul wanted to learn more about sailing. He signed up for a beginner’s sailing class. At the end of the class, the instructor suggested that the students buy a small sailboat to practice sailing. That is exactly what Paul did. He bought a 1960’s model 12 ft Puffer, complete with retro life jackets.

At the time, the sailboat seemed big. We took this boat up north and learned everything that we could on it. Since we bought a sailboat twice the size the following year, this boat looks so tiny. Now we keep this sailboat up north year round.

There were a few things that happened up north with the sailboat that were a little scary at the time. Now it makes for a humorous story.

We were up north for an unseasonably warm weekend in late September when Paul and Arabella decided to go for a sail. My mom was the one that alerted me of danger. A wind gust caught the small boat and tipped it over. Paul and Arabella were treading in cool deep water.

I couldn’t see them because the boat was blocking my view of them at first. I was worried that Paul got knocked out somehow. I feared that they were drowning or freezing to death. I tend to go through all of the worst case scenarios in my head. 

Paul said that they seemed to fall in slow motion. The biggest danger that they faced was losing the center board which he later secured.

I sent Angel and Alex out on a rescue mission in a paddle boat. I know what you are thinking. Really, a paddle boat?? Did that take a couple of months, or what? We didn’t have any other boats to send out. 

Meanwhile, under the stress of the rescue mission, Angel and Alex started fighting. I watched as my oldest two children started yelling, screaming, and swearing at each other over who had control of the paddle boat. The fighting escalated into pushing and shoving. Next thing I know, Angel was pushed overboard. Eventually, Angel and Arabella swam to shore and walked back to the cabin. I am glad we made sure that all of our kids are strong swimmers.

Paul and Alex struggled to bring the wayward boat back to shore. No lasting damage was done.

Too bad I didn’t get any pictures of that!