Sunday, June 30, 2013

Attitude

We all have fears, some rational and others less so...

I am convinced fear is rooted in something deeper and for every individual the root of that fear is different. Kind of like anger... I think anger is simply caused by fear, which is caused by some emotions we don't know how to deal with. So, this blog is NOT about feelings, it is about my athletic pursuits, but here is the deal, with every event I ponder, there is a fear. The fears range from a fear of failure, fear of a DNF, fear of injury, fear of looking silly, fear of training, and the list continues.

Because I have been struggling with all of my workouts  lately, I have a fear of committing to events/races. I was planning on doing a half marathon in September, but I changed those plans. Instead I'm going to run a half marathon in November. I really want to get back in the full marathon game in 2014 and the only real way to do that is suck it up and train! I don't know why a marathon in 2014 is so important except that I have a fear of getting old and not being able to do anything physically because I didn't take care of my body earlier in life.

The importance of optimism can not be overrated. As I think about my half marathon in November and my marathon in 2014, I need to remember the awesome experiences I had during my several half marathons and marathons. For instance, you can read about my favorite half marathon here and my one full marathon here. Both of those events provide enough good memories that I should be willing to jump into future races without thought! Well, I wish that were the case.

The thing is there are so many factors to consider for every single event! The weather could be miserably hot, or extremely cold! I could have not trained properly! The race course could be changed last minute, there could be more hills! My stomach could take over! If I really wanted to, I could probably go on for hour about what could go wrong...

I need to remember that I literally can't control the weather, my body or the race course. All I can do is take control of the things I do have control over and prepare for every condition and hope that I have a good run on race day. The one way I can ensure race day will be great is by taking control of my attitude.

After all: I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Chicken OR the Egg

After finishing a huge race, I have a hard time regaining my footing, especially when I don't have my next goals all set up. I'm struggling here!

I gave myself a week off, kind of. I went for a swim on Thursday and today. I also went for a run and 'bike ride' yesterday. I don't have another goal race set up, so what to do!!! I am meeting my running buddy tomorrow, but all I want to do is sleep. 

Since the race, I have worked two week days and have had the other three work days off. On those three days off I was either driving home, out with a friend for the day (which actually rejuvenated me) or laying on my couch doing a whole lot of nothing. This spot on the couch that I have been getting comfortable in, is the same spot that helped me gain a ton of weight several years ago. I have no interest in going back to that place.

Also, after I finish big races, I feel like it is appropriate to reward myself with whatever I want to eat, but that has to end at some point too... 

I was reading one of my favorite blogs this week in which the blogger was setting his goals for the remainder of the year and I really felt as though goal setting would really help. Here is the problem... The laziness and the fatigue this week are making me enormously disinterested. I want to run at least one more half marathon this year. I also have a relay triathlon coming up that I need to get prepared for. I simply want to get my energy back.

I honestly can't figure out what is causing the exhaustion and fatigue. Is it the lack of exercise? Or is the exhaustion and fatigue causing the disinterest in exercise. I feel like I am trying to figure out if the Chicken or the Egg came first in this scenario.

For now, I am going to research races, put the money on those races and hope that everything else falls back in line. Until then, this blog might get really boring...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

All in a Day's Work

I don't even know how to begin this post...

Several months ago, my sister had this bright idea to do her first half iron distance triathlon. I have always wanted to do one so I told her if she did it I would do it too. Next thing I know I was clicking register now on the registration page of the Highcliff Triathlon in Wisconsin.

You can read about some of the reactions I received when I announced to various friends that I was going to do this race here. Over the months my friends have taken on the challenge of being supportive and cheering me on along the way. This was no easy feat as I was on the training roller coaster. As the day approached, I thought about all of the possible things that could go wrong and right. I had visions of myself standing on the side of the bike course with a flat tire, me holding on to a lifeguard boat, dreams about wearing clown shoes for the run, and on and on... I also day dreamed about the finish line, what it might look like, who would be there in the end.

The reality is nothing could have prepared me for the actual day except the actual day. And I mean NOTHING!!!

I woke up around 4:30 am yesterday morning and got dressed. I met my sister and her husband in the parking lot, we loaded into our cars and headed to Highcliff State Park in Wisconsin. I prepared my transition area and looked around at all of the participants. I didn't see anyone who looked like me, meaning a bit overweight, a bike from the early 2000's that hasn't had a tune up in two years and has been plaguing me with flat tires for several weeks. What I saw were slender athletes who have all done this a bunch of times and some who were simply doing it as a training race for their full iron man races. To say I was kind of freaked out would be an understatement.

Regardless, I pulled on my wet suit, at which point some guy said something like, I haven't seen that before, what brand is it? To which I replied, the cheap brand. You know the one that was on sale for 80 bucks. He chuckled and told me he has been doing these races for years. Told me that often when he does the full iron man he is so excited when he gets to the run because he can finally say "I only have a marathon left." He also told me that I would soon understand what he means when I finish the bike ride and I realize I only have to run a half marathon. He told me I would be thankful! Yep, these were they types I was surrounded by. It felt pretty cool to be among these folks.

The race crew. This group is more than inspiring!!!
Anyway, I remember taking a moment to text my friend a few expletives after I wet suited up. I then got body marked and went and stood lakeside watching the waves, that weren't there the day before, crash onto the beach. I talked with the other people who were there racing with us and we all wished eachother a great race, and off we went. I was in wave three, everyone I was there with in wave four.

I swam one of the toughest swims ever! Not much more to say about that... Waves crashing over my head, running into people at the buoys, getting so off course that a life guard boat pointed me back on track...

Then I headed out for the bike ride. The first .6 miles of the ride were up what felt like a 30% incline. It was probably only 15% but man it was tough! I rode and rode and rode. I was passed by what felt like everyone!!! Well, by mile 20 I was absolutely passed by four of the six people I was doing the race with. Then came the best treat of the entire race; My sister caught up with me!!!! Janell and I stuck together for the rest of the ride. It wasn't pretty but we both were delighted when we hit the 55 mile mark. We knew we were almost off the temporary carbon attachments to our bodies, otherwise known as our bikes. Overall, the ride was great! I got to ride with my sister, I did NOT get a flat tire... First 20 plus mile ride in weeks that happened, I ate a sandwich and we finished.

At this point, all I could think was I'm so happy I only have a half marathon left!!!

Anyway, I went off for the run, which quickly turned into a walk up that 30% incline hill (exaggeration I realize but man it felt like it was that bad!!!), and I ran into the wives of two of the racers. I was running the first of two loops at which point I was passed by the same four people on the run, who passed me on the bike. My sister was long gone and there I was run/sauntering my way through a half marathon. The only bad thing about a double loop is that as people pass you at their mile 11 and say 'only two mile to go', you realize what they should be saying is only 9 miles to go... The other odd thing is that the race official kept riding by asking what loop we were on. Because I was at the end of the pack, I also got a report of how many people were behind me, every time... I was often saddened because he started out telling me there were 10 people behind me and the last time he passed me, there were only 3 left behind me and not a single person passed me. I felt bad for those folks who just couldn't make it, but trust me, I can understand their struggle!!!

On the second loop, I finally got my legs under me. I ran for about 3/4 of each mile and then walked a 1/4 until I was at about mile 10. I then realized I only had a 5k left and could finish this darn thing...

I started running the last 5k and was getting emotional. I would keep telling myself to quit wasting my energy on the stupid tears. It would help for a few minutes and then the tears would start again. When I reached the 12 mile mark, I knew only one more big downhill to the finish line. When I made that last turn down the hill, I let it all go, I charged down the hill and this was the first time the entire race that I knew I would cross the finish line. I got to the bottom of the hill and three girls appears and started cheering for me. I started crying almost uncontrollably, then my brother in law and all of his friends started running toward me and I lost the last of the control I had. They ran with me for the last quarter of a mile cheering me on. They were truly the best gift I could have had at the end of that race!!!

I crossed the finish line, got my medal, was handed a cup of coke and fist bumped everyone I could. I finished...

All in a day's work...




Me at the finish line...

And the medal. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Speechless

I'm utterly speechless (or thoughtless) right  now. Perhaps it is because I just talked my friends' ears off for several hours? Yeah, I have some good friends...

Because I am speechless I'm simply going to leave you all with a poem that one of my friends shared with me this week. It is ringing in my head as I ponder all the challenges we choose or are presented in our lives.

Invictus
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul. 
William Ernest Henley 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Today is the Day

Ever have that thing you always wanted to do but you don't do it because... well, you really don't know why? Yeah, I have those too, but here is what facebook has to say about that:


Some of my favorite bloggers/runners/authors have something to say about that too:
"Make someday, today"
Michael Franti has his take on it too...
"I say, Hey Hey Hey
No matter how life is today
There's just one thing I got to say
I won't let another moment slip away."

And you know what? They are all right!

You know what the funny thing is? Well this... I am tired, not just tired but exhausted/fatigueed. I don't know why, but I do know that my life must be pretty awesome for me to feel this way. Right? It has to be true...

Anyway, I got home from work today and as the exhaustion and fatigue set in, I decided to lay around for a bit. Laying around, turned into a nap... Who naps after work on a Monday? This girl... But I woke up thinking about those moments that we should never let slip away, perhaps because I just slept away an hour in which I could have been at the gym? Anyway, I'm still tired and exhausted so I am passing up the gym for the evening and am trying to not feel guilty about it because of all those quotes above. Here is the reality though...

On Saturday one of my friends conquered something pretty significant and amazing. I'm kind of mad at myself for not getting a picture of the two of us actually... But she is the prime example of a person who sets a goal, goes all out to reach that goal and accomplishes that goal.

We signed up to swim an open water swim at Alum Creek, she in preparation for a triathlon relay we are doing in July as a relay and me in preparation for the triathlon I am doing in a couple of weeks. We were met with some of the most challenging conditions for swimming (please note if you are an English Channel swimmer, this might make you shake your head because those are quite possible the most challenging conditions, but it is all perspective). I got in the water for my swim and took off slowly, got thrown up against a buoy and swum over by people who clearly should have started in the front of the pack. The water was intense and it literally felt like we were swimming in an endless pool that was never going to end! It did though. My friend Tara went next, I told her it was tough, so tough in fact, the current was pulling the buoys off course. As she was waiting they announced to the swimmers to be careful because it feels like a washing machine out there. The race officials were correct, a washing machine is the perfect comparison for what the water felt like. But you know what? That didn't even make Tara flinch. She headed out into the water and swam, and swam, and swam!!! She finished, we hugged and I was proud!

My point here is this... When faced with a tough situation, or with a desire, we always have a choice. Tara chose to swim. She didn't put off an opportunity that was presented to her; She just did it right then and conquered that goal.

I hope you all take a moment to do something today, that you have continually been putting off until tomorrow. After all, you never know what tomorrow might bring.