Working (out) on vacation

Today I fell off of my bike.

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

Oh no, no, no…not me!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

 

 

 

Worth, an Olympic tri

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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!

 

The third time’s the charm? Right??

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The third time is the charm. Right??IMG_0579

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.

 

 

Walking in a winter wonderland

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It’s snowing again in Wisconsin.

Or maybe I should say that it’s a raining, sleeting, windy, thundering, freezing rain kind of snow.

We’ve had it good the last couple of days with warm temperatures in the 50’s even up to 60. People wore shorts with a smile on their faces. People were out in droves on walks, runs, bikes, and motorcycles. People were out on drives with their windows down. I hung out my laundry on the line.

I can’t remember a February that was ever this warm..

Then this happened..

I awoke at 4:30 AM to the tapping on my window. It announced that winter was back in town. When winter left, it took the snow with him. Big ice chunks flowed down the river washing what remained of winter away.

For a few days, I was happy to see the sun.

Last Saturday I went on a 21 mile run with my friend Lisa. I felt great afterwards. Neither one of us were sore. I thought maybe it was because we took breaks after every 5 miles to stretch and re-hydrate. Or maybe it was because I took some time off from running for the funeral.

Then it occurred to me that this was the first long run that I’ve probably had outside without a heat advisory.

It boosted my confidence.

I think I can do a Half Iron now. I feel motivated.

Next week, I will start my swimming lessons.

I also booked the trip to Michigan to visit my cousin and run 18 miles on a trail race with him. We decided to take the train for this trip. It is something Paul and I have never done before. It has been such a long time since we got away that my credit card declined the Amtrak purchase due to a fraud alert.

For now I’ll be walking in a winter wonderland. But it won’t be long until I am outrunning again..

Extreme athlete? Who me?

Last weekend someone called me an extreme athlete.

I looked to the left of me. I looked to the right. I even did the Hokey Pokey and turned myself around. There was no one else there.

Extreme athlete?? Who me?? I never really thought of myself that way before.

I do eat, sleep, and breathe running.

Even the name of my blog has the word running in it.

Last night I had dreams of running and biking. I dreamed that I didn’t stretch, that I forgot to put on my running shoes, and my legs felt like lead. Then I got to my bike. It was a tiny little one with training wheels.

I also have dreams of racing. Usually in those dreams something goes wrong. Not unlike the unexpected things during race day.

I rolled my ankle three weeks before my first marathon. Despite that, I ended up running the first 18 miles in 3 hours. I had big dreams until I hurt my knee. It took many months for the pain to go away. I said I would never do another marathon again, then went back on my word.

Kind of like the time I said I would never have another child during childbirth.

Every single time I tried something new, I was terrified. I was afraid the first time that I ever ran. I thought I was going to die I was so out of breath. I was afraid during my first 10k, my first half marathon, my first marathon, and my first sprint triathlon. Now I am utterly terrified after signing up for my first half Iron and a very grueling racing season.

But I still did it.

Training for my first marathon was really tough. It was at this time that I realized that I suffered from GERD. The harder I trained, the less I wanted to eat because my stomach was so upset. I had to learn to run with stomach pain. I had to learn the very fine line between eating too much and not eating enough to prevent pain.

At times I thought I was going to be the runner puking on the side of the road. I worry about that while I am at the gym.

I get up on the only day I am able to sleep in to spend the morning at the gym.

(I did a long run this past Saturday and there was a woman next to me on her phone. With all of my heavy breathing I had to laugh because I wondered if the person on the other end thought she was on a porno set.) The things I think of to make running more exciting.

I have learned to run through exhaustion and boredom.

I pretend to race other people at the gym.

I choose what high risk behaviors to engage in. I WILL not do anything risky before a race that could produce an injury, such as down hill skiing. But I WILL do things for a race that others consider crazy.

I will train in the cold, in the rain, in the wind, and when there is a heat advisory.

I have misjudged how fast a storm would arrive and needed to find shelter.

I have been chased by dogs.

I have tripped over a dog and cut up my knee and hands. I had to run home with blood running down my legs and cleaned my wounds with rubbing alcohol to get out the gravel.

I ran with a really high fever. It was one of the toughest 6 miles I ever ran.

I ran through colds.

I ran when I felt zero motivation to do so.

I came very close to being hit by cars on bike and on foot.

I have a very hard time not running.

If this makes me an extreme athlete, so be it.

Why don’t you sign me up for the next race?

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.**