The ultra training starts

I just signed up for my first 50k.

There is no turning back now. Thankfully, I have until September to train. I will be running the ultra with my cousin.

It has been a cold spring here in Wisconsin. I have only been out to run a handful of times. Today’s high temps are in the mid-40’s and it is raining. Yuck! But at least it’s not snowing.

I was able to run with my new friend from the theater. I doubt we will ever run together again and I am okay with that. She is so much better than I am. What I didn’t know was that this new friend qualified for the Boston Marathon 6 times and ran it twice. She even ran something like 10 miles the day she gave birth. Talk about hard core!

She is a couple years younger than me as well which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is in the racing world. Maybe if I was 20 years younger than her, I would be able to keep up. That might even be pushing it.

Now that I am almost 45, I don’t have the stamina I used to.

I had a really bad run outside a couple weeks ago. I was several miles from home when I had to go to the bathroom really bad. I was in the suburbs and there was no where to go. I was so tempted to run up to a stranger’s house and ask if I could use their bathroom. How mortifying would that be! Every time I ran, the urge to go was stronger but walking prolonged the journey home. I called my husband to pick me up, but he didn’t answer. There were people everywhere. I finally made it home accident free.

Maybe I need to add Depends to my running supply list! That is the only thing I like about running on the treadmill at the gym. There is a bathroom close by if I need it. It is easier to stay hydrated as well. I finally broke down and bought a hydration belt with water bottles for the long runs outside.

Again, having to go to the bathroom is always an issue outside. Not to mention bugs, pop up thunderstorms, reckless drivers, adverse weather conditions, those horrible hills, chafing, injuries, dehydration, and animals. But that is what also makes for the best stories and adventures that won’t be forgotten. It’s the dirt and the grit. Determination. The testing of the limits. The long runs to think. Enjoying nature when it doesn’t call. The friendships, the camaraderie of strangers, the goodness of fellow travelers along the trail. I love it all!

I am hoping that the training goes a lot better once it warms up outside. Since I have a few marathons under my belt, what is a few more miles? Right?!??

 

Spring in my steps

I can’t believe that it will be May tomorrow.

We will be moving in one month. My cousin decided that she didn’t want to buy our house. Now we are working on the little repairs to get it ready to put on the market.

I have been very busy. I’m not sure how much time I will have to blog over the next couple of weeks. So not to worry if my patterns seem to change a little.

The snow has finally melted! Spring has finally arrived. I am hoping to run outside from here on out. I haven’t been able to get in a long run at all lately. The weekends have been busy with kid stuff and I can’t take off of work to do a long run during the week. I’ve been feeling so sluggish and slow when I do get the chance to run just short distances lately (5 or 6 miles).

I’m running my first trail marathon in two and a half months. I haven’t been out on the trails yet. I am hoping that they will be open within the next week or so. I’ve only been able to run outside 5 or 6 times this year. Wisconsin is a harsh climate for exercising. That and all the beer we drink and cheese we eat, it’s no wonder why we lead the nation in obesity.

I have a 4 month window for running outside in ideal conditions, with about 5 months where it is nearly impossible to run outside at all. Not to mention that a lot of people suffer from seasonal depression. I try to curb it by taking copious amounts of Vitamin D. It’s hard to stay active here without a gym membership and even harder to keep motivated to run to the gym.

The window for swimming is probably closer to 2 months. I’m thinking that we still have some patchy ice out on the lakes. I don’t think I feel comfortable doing a full Ironman without several months of swimming in open water. Swimming indoors and even outdoors did not come close to preparing me for the massive waves during the Half Ironman.

So, with marathon training, moving, and fixing up our house plus working and everything else going on…my time is going to be very limited over the next couple of weeks.

I’m planning on starting a new series though…I have a huge collection of fortune cookie wisdom to share and recycle before we move.

 

This winter is long

And it’s snowing again!! Big heavy snowflakes are falling. Then we will have 40 mph winds.

I will have to do today’s scheduled 18 mile run on the treadmill at the gym.

This winter is long…

I just want to curl up in a little ball and hide under the covers in my bed.

I feel jealous of people in warm climates. I saw your pictures this morning on Facebook of you training for the Ironman in a lake.

Our people are still on the lakes too, ice fishing!

Today I lack motivation. I desire hibernation until this long winter is done.

Out running

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Change is inevitable. It happens each season. This week a cold wind came into Wisconsin and blew the warm falls days and sunshine away. Sadly, I started going to the gym and running on the dreadmill again. I really can’t complain. It has been a warm fall with hotter temperatures than this summer.

Usually we get our first few flurries by this time of year. It makes me remember my grandma. For the first little snowfall she would write the word flurries or put a F on her empty calendar like it was a huge event. I have a F on my calendar too. It reminds me when I need to give my pets their flea medicine. Seriously, what did you think it stands for??

The last time I ran outdoors, I took a few photos to show you how beautiful my running route is. It was probably a good time for a change anyway. People were getting to know my routine which can be a little disconcerting. It was always the same cars that almost hit me. People were starting to actually honk when I wore my ‘honk if you’re going to hit me’ shirt.

I had a great season with huge goals…My first 18 mile trail run weekend, my first Olympic triathlon, and my first Half Ironman. Plus I ran another marathon. I am thinking of cutting back though. I’m not going to decide for sure until January.

Three out of four races, I had to travel far enough from home to need a hotel room. Plus adding in all of the gear and race fees, it can be a pricey hobby. I will probably still race, but will cut back on the amount of races and the longer distances. I also might want to try other things like doing a Tough Mudder. Plus next summer, the local theater is planning on doing the show Cabaret which is heavy on dancing.

Running has a special place in my heart. I spoke to my trainer at the gym this week. I told him that my races went well but I was thinking of cutting back. I told him that I want to run for the long run. Running gives me time to process my life in a healthy way. I don’t want to over train, hate it, or get hurt. I want to enjoy this hobby as long as possible. Plus I want to do other things I enjoy like dancing, cross country skiing, or kickboxing without being locked in an always training box.

I just love to run. Who knows? I might be able to get outside a few more times this year before it snows. Wisconsin is a very beautiful place to run.

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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..

Fireworks..

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It was an interesting weekend on the lake. We headed up north Friday afternoon.

Saturday afternoon, my brother Mark and his wife Carla arrived. They decided to go to rummage sales. I asked to go with as it is always a fun thing to do being cheapskates and all. I was expecting being gone an hour or so. We ended up trudging back 4 hours later. Apparently Mark was kicking himself for not buying a junky accordion for $5 last 4th of July. The people did not have a rummage sale this year, but Mark was tempted to knock on their door to ask about the accordion.

I asked Mark to stop at the store on the way back. I brought everything along to make a banana daiquiri except the rum. As I was looking for the rum, there were some young folks stocking their cart full of liquor. They looked like they were 16. They happened to be right next to me in the checkout line. The cashier wanted to card the group of 5 young people until her manager told her that she only needed to card the one buying.

I pushed the door open on the way out and let it slip shut behind me as one of the young girls came out fast behind me. She muttered ‘bitch’ as she was leaving. At first I thought she was talking to me because I failed to hold the door open for her. I was about to turn around and have a conversation with her about her choice of words when I decided she was upset about the cashier and not me. I walked away not wanting to confront someone that was possibly underage. For a moment I pictured myself confronting the girl and ending the evening incarcerated. Sometimes anxiety works to my favor…just walk away.

The rest of the evening Mark and Carla fought. They didn’t seem very happy to be married.

Then my husband Paul’s stepdad Darryl showed up unexpectedly. Paul’s mother passed away in February. A couple weeks after her passing, Darryl discovered the internet. He has become obsessed with women that he could meet online. It is all he has been talking about. It really makes us uncomfortable.

Darryl was having a conversation via text with a hot younger lady the whole evening. She is younger than me. They were talking for several days and Darryl called her his new girlfriend.

The next morning she said her wallet was stolen and she was starving. She started asking Darryl for money. Darryl had to break up with his new girlfriend and seemed heartbroken. All this happened while Mark and Carla fought.

It’s sad that most people I know are just not happy…not happy being single, not happy being in a relationship. What is the purpose of that??

I told Paul that if he starts searching for my replacement a few weeks after my demise, I would come back from the dead and haunt him with a vengeance.

Every year my family goes up north together for the 4th of July weekend. It is almost like a family reunion. This year my brother Luke couldn’t come with his family. His dog was very sick and needed to spend the night at the vet. But that allowed my parents to come up with my brother Matt. Matt is still hearing voices and is obsessed with hurting Luke’s daughter.

Matt was acting strange.. He giggled like a maniac and became obsessed with the noise of the children next door. It was all very concerning and I had thoughts that I might have to protect those children if Matt freaked out. I remained vigilant, but nothing happened.

I spent three mornings swimming across the lake. It went pretty well. Paul kayaked or boated attentively by me. Every time I took a breath, I saw him there. Except for one time. I had a feeling something was off and I was right. There was a loon in the water 10 feet in front of me and I was heading straight for it. Swimming up north across the lake is terrifying because I can’t see what is in front of me, kind of like life is sometimes when things are uncertain. I probably would never swim again if I rubbed up against the loon.

Paul and I also took the 12 ft sailboat out. The wind picked up and the lake was quiet. Once we got quite a ways out, the wind died and everyone came back out on the lake. We were hit by the boaters waves and had to paddle to get anywhere. Then Paul dropped the paddle and had to jump in. Some of the boaters came by and asked if we needed help causing more waves. Time to sell that sailboat I think.

To tell you the truth, I was bummed out a bit up north this year. My oldest daughter Angel decided to go to St. Louis for the 4th to be with her new boyfriend. My son Alex didn’t want to come up either. I told him he had to come for one day. He showed up late Monday afternoon. He spent the night and left the next morning.

I expected that Alex would spend the day with us swimming and kayaking, but he wanted to go cliff diving with his friends. After he left, I cried a few tears. I felt so upset that he left. I wanted him to be there, but he didn’t want that. I felt hurt to let go of two kids at the same time.

I sat around feeling sorry for myself. We were just about ready to leave when we heard someone call our names from the lake. Our friends Cori and Randy were on a pontoon boat with friends. They kidnapped Paul, my youngest daughter, and I. It was so much fun that I forgot about my sadness for awhile.

That was my weekend.. Sorry it is so long.. I wanted to tell you this before I forgot.

We are leaving soon to go back up north to visit Lisa and Tom…another adventure awaits!

Half tri training

It is raining again..the temperature barely made it to 60 degrees..Will it be July this week or is it the beginning of April?

I could almost swim in my backyard puddles.

But I restrained myself and went to the gym instead.

My neighbors already think I am a little crazy anyway..

If I learned anything this month from the Olympic triathlon event, it was that I need to kick it up a few notches if I am ever going to finish the Half Iron.

Last week I spent a total of 3 hours swimming laps. All three days the pool was packed with kids (probably due to all of the rain). Twice I was waved down. “Hey lady…can I jump in right where you are swimming?” What?? Another kid waved me down to ask what time it was. I must have been giving off a please rescue me from doing another lap vibe or something.

I have come to the conclusion that I am not very coordinated. If I was I would not be into this triathlon and running crap. I would be a graceful dancer. I can barely walk without tripping on something. I cannot do the splits. Because I am athletic certainly does not mean that I am graceful or flexible by any means.

There is hope for everyone willing to take on this insanity!

I am a beginner swimmer in my 40’s! I find it a struggle to coordinate breathing, kicking, and moving my arms at the same time. I would probably look okay in the water if I was a dog. I heard it is really hard to teach an old dog new tricks.

I find myself resenting people that have been swimming since they were on the swim team in grade school. They complain about how horrible they are swimming but can complete it in half my time. Although I admit that I am guilty of saying similar things about running..

It took me over a year but I finally figured how to switch gears effectively on my bike. I don’t have the world’s greatest balance, but I am getting into the swing of it. This past weekend I logged about 45 miles on my bike and the weekend before 40. I had a hilly route all planned out. Then afterwards I told my family that I would be gone for a little while to retrace my route and ended up coming back almost an hour later.

I am not quite as afraid of speed on the bike and falling as I used to be. I bought the clip on biking shoes and they work great. I would recommend it highly. I haven’t fallen yet either.

I have been practicing my running too. Running is my strong suit. I am really good at outrunning things as well, my demons especially. It is funny because people are starting to seek me out to ask me for running advice. It took almost a decade of running for this to happen. Maybe I shouldn’t expect to be a great swimmer or biker overnight.

This past weekend I was tempted to sign up for a local half marathon. It was a small race so I knew that I could probably place. To tell you the truth, I am not a girl that is big into jewelry. But flash a couple of medals in my face and I am signing up for another race. It is not like I even end up wearing them for more than an hour after the race ends. Expensive bling for an hour of wear! Hey, don’t forget about the free banana!!

But I was good and did not sign up for another race just to have more time to focus on training for the Half Iron. I am big time into tapering and taking it easy the week before and after a big race. The first run after a big race, I feel like I’ve never ran before.

At this time, I think I will be able to complete the Half Iron. I have a lot of endurance and determination. It would absolutely crush me if I don’t finish. I am using that grueling Olympic triathlon as a learning tool. I am probably not doing everything right, but I am learning as I go.

I never in a million years thought I would be doing this 5 years ago.

 

 

 

Trying the Olympic tri

This weekend I will be competing in my first Olympic tri. Strangely enough, I feel confident. Confidence is a scary feeling. Will I be prepared??

So far the weather for the race looks challenging. It is supposed to be very windy with highs in the upper 80’s…a possible heat advisory…the warmest day so far this year. But I feel ready.

I spent the last 2 weekends swimming across the lake up north. The total distance each time equaling approximately 1 mile.

Seriously, I am not going to bore you with the details. I’ll tell you if something exciting happens…like the time I almost hit a skunk on my bike..

I was feeling a little afraid of swimming long distance in open water but got used to the feeling. Anxiety and fear is not exactly a new feeling for me. Maybe it is better to face these obstacles in real life because I know how to handle feeling this way in a race.

Tomorrow I will pack my bags and head out of town. I hope I don’t forget anything!

I love trying new races.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like some tried and true races close to home. There is an advantage knowing the route. Plus every race is different, even the same race. The weather is different…I meet different people…sometimes I feel nervous, sick, hurt, or unhealthy…and sometimes I feel strong and confident like I do now.

I’m ready to do this…even in a heat advisory.

Bring it on!

 

My 3rd marathon

I was really anxious the day before the race. I couldn’t describe it as a positive or negative feeling. I was restless, but needed to stay still. Mainly, I felt a nervous excitement. It felt like it was the first time. 

I was hoping that having my cousin come from out of town would keep me distracted from what was before me. But he was injured and cancelled the 10 hour drive to get here. 

I decided to run with Lisa, she is a crazy good runner. She is not quite as disciplined as me but apparently she doesn’t need it. This was her 2nd marathon. She was afraid she was going to be slow because she got a little carried away at a party a few nights before. She hopped on a kid’s bike and crashed it banging up her leg. 

It was raining like crazy the day before the marathon. The original forecast said it would be dry for the marathon, but they were wrong. It rained the first hour and a half of the marathon. I grabbed a couple of garbage bags from home to cover Lisa and I. 

There was a traffic jam near the parking area and it took longer than we thought to get to the event. We even left early. We had to run to the bathroom. We stopped first by some Portapots that were fenced in with a large security guard in front. Apparently they were for the elite and not us. By the time we got out of the bathroom the anthem was playing. There were long lines and I think some people would rather stay in the stinky bathrooms than get soaking wet.

Lisa stayed with me for the first 2 miles. I couldn’t keep up and stayed with the 4:20 pacer group the first half of the race. It was cold (50F), windy, and rainy. My shoes were soaked before the race began. Any loose areas on my wet clothes caused some pretty nasty chafing. But I didn’t feel excessively cold. 

After the halfway point, I had to wait in line for the bathroom. I passed several full ones with lines before I was forced to stop. When I got out, I lost sight of my pacer group. Then I meandered on my own for the next 7 miles without stopping. Then right around the 20 mile mark I lost steam. I did a walking slow jog thing. 

My son texted me that he needed gas in the car. 

Hello, I’m running a marathon here! 

Then my phone died. 

But I couldn’t muster up enough anger to light a fire under my butt.

A man passed me and asked if I was okay. 

I was feeling angry that I didn’t have a big support group. My son was more concerned about the car.  

My husband was there for me every step of he way though. He tried to get me moving. I knew no other spectators. 

I remembered my goal to do a full Ironman. I started to see it slip through my fingers again. 

My arms and legs felt numb. I tried to tell my legs to move faster but they weren’t responding to prompts from my brain. 

My mind felt muddled and I was confused. I kept asking those around me what mile we were on. I felt this strong desire to wander off and lie down in a random person’s yard. 

I smelled bacon frying from an open window of a nearby house. Jerk! I longed for the leftover macaroni and cheese leftover from the night before. I thought bad thoughts towards those who might eat it before I got back. 

I wanted to give up. 

Then I met Hank from Detroit. He seemed kind of mafia to me. We spent the last four miles limping, walking, and running together. 

I finished the marathon beating the times of my first two marathons by over a half an hour. Victory! But still not enough to beat my goal of under 5 hours. I just have to work harder. Lisa finished in a little over 4 hours. 

I had mixed feelings. I majorly beat my old times but I still wanted better.

I went home exhausted. But I had a party to go to. Cindy’s son was getting confirmed. Plus I was flying out in less than 24 hours and didn’t even start to pack. 

After I got home later that evening, I laid in bed feeling feverish. I didn’t want to talk to anyone but didn’t want to be alone. For a few hours, I felt totally relaxed almost delirious. All worried faded from my mind completely. 

I outran my demons that day. 

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…