Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Day Dreams

Before I married my darling husband, I didn't like fairy tales and I didn't really day dream.  I didn't see the point.  I felt like if something was worth spending time on, it was worth making a goal to reach.  I didn't allow my mind the "freedom" to wander aimlessly. 

Today I'm day dreaming.  The reason I can call it daydreaming and not goal setting is because my dreams are HUGE and at least one is completely out of my control.

I have a hard time with phrasing because usually I would say "I want to...." but if it's a day dream I should say instead, "Wouldn't it be cool if..."

So...It would be so cool if I were able to compete in IronMan 70.3 New Orleans in April next year.  My daughter will graduate in May.  I'll compete in Hood to Coast in August.  Wouldn't it be crazy cool if I were able to attend an open casting call for Survivor that fall??  Here's where the day dream really takes off.

I would be able to say "I'm training for a spring 2013 IronMan".  I would be 43 and therefore an older contestant, but most likely not the oldest.  I'm in fairly decent shape and will hopefully be in even better shape this time next year.

...Yeah, I can't day dream.  I'm already making plans.  Goals.  Time tables. 

What exactly separates day dreams from goals anyway?  How does one allow her mind to go crazy with possibilities that she doesn't plan to pursue??  I don't think I can actually do it.

Do you day dream?  If so, what are they??  Help me out here.....

Thanks for stopping in.  Sit down, kick your feet up, close your eyes and tell me where your mind goes!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I am a Rocket Man!!

I have so many things I'd like to write about...I just never seem to have time anymore.

I completed my first Olympic distance tri Sunday!!  It was an amazing race.  Everything about it was great-expect for the fact my family wasn't there, but I won't talk about that.

The training group I participated in leading up to the race (Tri 201) was top notch.  I can't say enough about the head coach, Eric, and the assistant coaches Ed and Tom.  Anyone can get a training plan on-line and follow it, but having an individualized plan and the one-on-one coaching was invaluable.

Because I know the race director for Rocket Man, I knew it was going to be a well run event, but I didn't know just how well.  I got a glimpse Saturday at the "expo" when I saw the huge posters of each of the courses and listened to the pre-race briefing that included this slide show: (be sure to mute the music player before playing the video!)

(Look for appearances of yours truly at :46, 1:01 and 1:03!)  Details about the course and the race were given that helped me mentally prepare for what would happen the next day.  (For instance, knowing there was going to be a huge man hole to avoid or that the run course was trail and gravel for a good bit of the way.)  The only issue I faced later on that night was which leg to mark (because I didn't take advantage of the volunteers who were applying the tri tats and decided I could put them on myself at home).  The instruction sheet in the tri tat package said right, the instructions on the back of the tats said left (it was the left).

Race Morning

I woke up in plenty of time to eat, take care of business, recheck my packing list, load up, get there and set up before the FCA sunrise service.  The racks were numbered with plenty of room for each participant to spread out a little bit--that was NICE.  Even better than that was where my rack was-about 50-75 feet from the swim exit (if that).  It meant running a bit farther with my bike, but I didn't have to run bare-footed and wet!  The FCA service was excellent and helped me calm down a bit.  Basically the message was that God had something bigger for me that day than a PR.


I had decided long before race day warming up was going to help me swim relaxed, which would help me achieve a faster time.  I was thrilled to find out there was even going to be a designated warm up area for us.  Race morning I changed my mind.  I figured there was going to be plenty of time for me to warm up in the water.  MISTAKE.  BIG MISTAKE.  It took me a good 400 yards to calm down and get into a decent rhythm. What's bad is I knew it would and I still elected not to do anything about it.  LEARN FROM THIS MISTAKE!!!

I had estimated it would take me about 45 minutes because I have been swimming at about 2:00 per 100 yards and since this was going to be 1.5K open water, I knew it would take me longer.  I did NOT want to rush the swim because I knew I would end up kicking more than I should if I was trying to rush.  Instead I concentrated on my form and my breathing and just calming down.  I passed A LOT of people and for the most part felt good the whole time.  (45:17...13/14 in my age group.  I'm not sad about that because I just learned how to really swim in JANUARY...this time last year I couldn't swim 25 yards without stopping....and Sunday I swam over 65 times that!!)


I felt a little discombobulated coming out of the water.  I had some friends there who were cheering for me--one yelling at me "get out of here!" but I was having a hard time standing up straight!  I have reached the point I don't have to THINK very hard about what I need to do in transition.  My time was 1:16 (5/14).  A couple of things that might make me faster are not wearing socks and/or having my shoes attached to my bike.  But all in all, I'm happy with my T1 time considering the over all first and second place female winners were in my age group and the fastest time was :52 so we're only talking about 24 seconds.  Having a faster T1 would NOT help me in the overall race!!


I'm much happier with my performance on the bike this time than I have been in the past.  I felt much stronger.  There were a couple of inclines, but no real climbs.  I have spent a lot of training time on this course so I felt very comfortable out there.  I felt really good in a couple of places because I was moving a good bit faster than I had in the past.  It seemed like the wind was brutal almost the whole time.  My average speed was 16.7 (not bad for me, but not great either).  Aero bars would help more than almost anything (other than just simply working harder!).  But again, this time last year my only time in the saddle was on a spin bike.  I have only been riding consistently since January.  I was passed a few times, but also passed quite a few people.

The "hard" thing for me was when I would come up behind someone.  There's a rule that you basically have to stay 3 bike lengths behind the bike in front of you and you only have 15 seconds to overtake and pass them.  I would get concerned that I just didn't have it in me to move beyond the person in front of me in 15 seconds and then NOT slow down.  So I tended to slow down a little until I worked up the confidence to pass them.  I don't believe there was one person I passed who passed me back!  (That's an accomplishment for me I believe!)

I felt like I worked hard on the bike although there's obviously much room for improvement!  My time was 1:29:15 and I came in 10/14 in my age group.


The worst part about T2 was the run from the dismount line to the bike rake.  I worry I'll slide in my bike shoes so I don't sprint full out.  I think taking my feet out of the shoes and learning how to make a running dismount would help a good bit.  But, my time was 1:06 and I came in 3/14 in my age group.  The fastest time was :58...eight seconds is worth keeping my shoes looking pretty!!


The run was my weakest event.  When I came out of transition, I felt like I was crawling.  I absolutely HATE that feeling.  It was a lie because I was actually moving at about an 8:30-9 pace (instead of the 18:00 that it felt like!).  Also, friends told me it looked like I was flying!!  I was thankful Coach Eric was on the side lines telling me "just relax"...and in such a calm voice it was almost hypnotic!!  Obviously I didn't maintain that 8:30-9 pace (because that's freakishly fast for me, especially after having just swam 1500m and ridden 25 miles).  The problem was I didn't just slow down, I walked on and off the whole time.  I'm not going to say I'm disappointed because the truth is I'm actually proud of what I accomplished (for ONCE!!).  I'm not happy about how much I walked and I can't say I even know why I did it, but I'm not going to beat myself up about it either.

I remember feeling good at about mile 3.  Nothing hurt.  I didn't feel too tired.  I wasn't out of breath.  I had relaxed (finally).  I just found myself walking every now and then.  It was as if I didn't have control of what my body was doing.  It was like pushing the gas in a car that isn't working properly and it doesn't move forward with the speed you know it should.   I think the thing that will help that the most is to learn how to push myself and build up the mental drive needed for times like that.  It wasn't a physical thing.  I believe it was all mental, but I also believe it was somewhat unconscious because I kept telling myself I felt good and I should be able to run all day ...and then I'd be walking again.  It was BIZARRE.  I know that happened a lot when I first started running, but I can't remember it happening in a long time.

I ended up completing the 10K in 1:08:31 (11:02 average pace) and finished 9/14 in my age group. 


After the finish! (I could stand up straight, I just wasn't!)
I crossed the finish line in 3:25:23 (under the loose goal I set for myself of "less than 3:30") with an over abundance of energy.  I actually wanted to feel sick and completely depleted, but I didn't.  In fact, I didn't feel like I had run a race at all after about 5 minutes.  I was ready to go back out there again.

The finish line workers handed me a cap and a bottle filled with ice water (NICE TOUCH!!).  About 2 feet after I came across the mat a gal tried to get me to stop to take my chip.  I know they want to get them off of us, but they need to understand, we can't just stop on a dime and get it off after what we've just done.  That's a recipe for passing out.  There's got to be a better way to handle that.

They had blow up kiddie pools filled with ice water set up and Coach Eric told me to go sit in one-which I did.  I can't understand how no one else screams when they plop down in an ice bath!!  It's an involuntary thing for me.  Boy it felt good!

The DD's who competed or volunteered at RocketMan!
I had been planning on jumping off the food allergy wagon for a couple of months leading up to this race...and I did!!  I went out for a steak after a nice hot shower.  It was YUMMY!!  I ate bread and a baked potato with butter and macaroni and cheese!!  Then later I ate some Ben and Jerry's S'mores ice cream!!!  I'm not too terribly sick from it so it was definitely worth every bite!!

I loved this race.  I'm a little sad that I won't get to run it next year since I'll be in Oregon running the Hood to Coast with my team!!!  But, c'est la vie, there's always 2013!!

Analysis--What follows is way more information than anyone will care to read...but I'm including it for my benefit so I can learn from this race.  Am I over analyzing?  Yes, but that's what I do!!

I came in ninth in my age group (which ended up being 7th since 1st and 2nd over all females were 41!!) and 81st out of I don't know how many female finishers (looks to be about 113--there were like 180 registered?)...28th percentile if I did the math correctly.  That's not great but my husband had a good point...I'm swimming with the big fish now.  The athletes who will undertake this distance aren't your average beginner athlete.

In my age group, there were two clear divider lines, and I topped the lower list.  Let me see if I can explain.  Here were the overall finish times for my group:
  1. 2:13:06 (overall female winner)
  2. 2:15:37 (+2:31 from 1st) (second place female winner)                                
  3. 2:48:06 (+32:29 from 2nd) (see the big step up here in time?)
  4. 2:49:33 (+1:27 from 3d)
  5. 2:57:16 (+7:17 from 4th)
  6. 2:59:34 (+2:18 from 5h)
  7. 3:01:06 (+1:32 from 6th)
  8. 3:04:10 (+3:04 from 7th)                                                                                      
  9. 3:25:23 (that's me!!  +21:13 from 8th)  (see the big step up?)
  10. 3:25:50 (+:27...that was close-she could have EASILY made this up in transition)
  11. 3:31:14 (+5:24 from 10th)
  12. 3:35:45 (+4:31 from 11th)
  13. 3:43:35 (+8:10 from 12th)
  14. 3:59:42 (+16:07 from 13th) order for me to have moved up just ONE place I would have had to lose 21 minutes.  So, in my mind you have the elites (who won first and second overall), then you have the fast girls (1-6 age groupers), then you have the finishers (6-12).  My desire is to move from the top "finisher" to a fast girl.  A solid five minutes could have easily been taken off my run without even trying hard.  (I was glad to see 5 minutes wouldn't have pushed me up a place...I might have been more upset otherwise!)  Working on my run pace I should be able to shave off 8.5 minutes (going from an 11:02 to a 9:40 pace).

In the swim I should be able to knock a good solid ten minutes off by just learning how to do flip turns and sighting properly!!  Part of the problem is that I take breaths every 25 yards in the pool.  In the river I found myself not sighting as much as I was breathing.  That slowed me WAY down.  I swim a very consistent 2 minute 100y in the pool.  I know adding distance would make that time slow a bit, but it shouldn't increase it by almost 50%.  My fast 25 yard laps are usually between :19-:26.  I need to work on SPEED in the pool and not be afraid to push myself.  The other thing I need is to learn how to swim in close contact with other people.  I intentionally slowed down a couple of times just to avoid swimming too close to someone.  GET OVER THAT!!!

And finally...once again, as I've been saying...I have to learn to get faster on the bike.  Although I am faster than the 12.6mph 8 mile first bike ride I did back in October!  And, not making excuses, but aero bars will help.  If I could get up to an average of 19 that would knock off about 12 minutes.  Even getting up to 18mph would knock off 7 minutes.

So....knocking off 10 minutes on the swim, 10 on on the bike and 9 on the run would put me at 29 minutes faster.  (I would have been 5th, which would be a 3rd place age group podium!!)

So...the plan is to keep swimming through marathon season, and stay on a bike (spin or trainer, or on the road) and work toward being a fast girl next season!!  :D

If you read to the end, you deserve a prize!!!

Thanks for stopping in.  Come again REAL soon!! :D

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Working the Aid Station

I just got back from a trip to San Diego (to watch my daughter's beau graduate from Marine boot camp--impressive).  First of all, let me say I LOVE that city.  Not in the way I have loved other cities I've traveled to, but in a "I-could-see-myself-living-there" kind of way.  Some cities I've been to I've loved as a tourist, but I felt very comfortable and at home in SD.  Not to mention the weather was HEAVENLY!!

While I was there I had the opportunity to volunteer for the AFC Half marathon.  One of the seven aid stations was directly in front of our hotel.  I had attempted to officially sign up on-line, but the check in was going to be all the way across town so I decided to be a spectator instead.  When I got downstairs it was OBVIOUS they were severely understaffed so I jumped in and started passing out water.

The sold-out race looked fun with 8,000 runners.  The routed looked fantastic, running alongside the San Diego Bay for a good bit of the race, and down-town the remainder.  The weather was PERFECT (maybe a tad warm for west-coasters, but absolutely divine for this southerner).  The aid station I worked....not what I've grown accustomed to having in my local races.

Most of what I'm about to say will sound very picky....and I know that.  I think the truth is I've been spoiled.  Maybe another factor is that when I'm in the middle of a race I probably don't pay as close of attention to what's going on at the aid station and some of my perception is skewed.  However, I did notice several things about the aid station that I would have changed if I could have.  ((Following all my "knocks" will be all the things I loved about this aid station and about my experience of working it.))

First of all...and this is really picky...but the water was warm.  Really warm.  I don't expect ice water, but at the same time, this water was directly out of the spigot (literally).  I came down a little over an hour into the race (at mile 10).  The elites had all gone through, the front of the packers had all been through.  Maybe it's possible they had gone through all the ice already, but from the looks of it, they never had any to begin with. 

When I got there they were filling cups as fast as they could and yelling at runners to "grab the water off the table".  There were spectators every where and no one was helping pass out cups.  My guess is they saw how wet the few volunteers were getting from sloshing water and decided against helping!!  Although there were three tables set up, naturally everyone was trying to grab cups from the first table.  Gatorade was set up at the last table (but I was told they ran out not long after I got down there).  Since no one was telling the runners I saw some grab up 2 cups of water only to throw them down when they got to the Gatorade table.

The cups were "huge" and they were filling them up to the very top.  I'm sure they thought they were helping, but runners can't guzzle that much water while they are running.  It would have been better to have smaller cups or (probably better yet) have the same cups but only filled 1/2 way.  Filling them all the way to the top only helps in getting everyone wet!!  (Not to mention all the water that was wasted, but that's not my campaign...)

I THINK the races I've been to which offer water and aide of some kind (Gatorade, Powerade, etc) have had some kind of signage or people yelling at the runners as they are coming up to let them know what's being offered.  I stressed "I THINK" because I don't think I've ever really cared that much about Gatorade before so I can't say that it's been that way for sure.  I do remember several times being told.  As I said earlier, I saw the importance of this after seeing so many water cups being tossed to the side once the runners realized there was another option for hydration.  My optimizing brain can't help but think of all the cups, water, time and effort that were unnecessarily wasted.  Having someone yelling out that Gatorade was up ahead, having signs, having the tables set up on different sides of the street....any number of things could have made this situation better.

Now, here's my biggest observation.  From my perspective...  Yelling at runners to grab cups off the table was just wrong in my opinion. Ideally there would be enough volunteers to help PASS OUT water, but failing that, just not saying anything would be better than yelling at them.  I think if I were running an aid station and I couldn't round up enough people to work, I would recruit spectators.  Now...I can already think of a couple reasons that's not a good idea, but there are solutions.  First of all I know there are liability issues to consider; just have forms printed for people to sign at the table.  As for the wetness factor, you could either warn them they might get splashed on, or pass out trash bag "rain coats".  (((If you've never been around an aid station....let's just say there's a lot of water sloshing out of those cups--someone's going to get wet!)))

I don't want to harp on this too much, but having enough volunteers really is the key.  From filling up cups ahead of time, to having enough people to pass them out, to being able to keep some semblance of order (namely raking up discarded cups) all takes PEOPLE willing to be involved.  More than that sometimes it takes someone willing to be in charge and let people know how they can help.  Many of those spectators were most likely more than willing to help.  I'd venture a guess that most of them are not runners and therefore have no awareness of what they could do, or what is needed. 

My final "criticism" would be one of preference I'm sure.  Most of the volunteers who I saw were trying to hold onto the cups as if they were drinking from it (see the person in the foreground in the picture to the right).  In my opinion, this is the best way to get wet!  Especially when the cups are small (like the ones in the picture) it's awkward to grab them from the volunteer. 

Now take a look at the volunteer in the middle.  See how she is holding the cup from the bottom?  That's a little better, but the best way for a volunteer to hold a cup out for a runner (again, in my opinion) is pictured below.  I have no doubt there are many runners who would disagree (namely the ones who don't like the idea of a volunteer touching the rim of the cup from which said runner is about to drink!!)  However, I think it allows for the most efficient and smooth hand-off with the least chance of water loss (meaning the least chance of soaking either the hander or the grabber!).

These fairly minor "faults" were balanced (even maybe outweighed) by all the things which were done right.  First and foremost...the MUSIC!!  There was a DJ at this aid station (from what I understand, it was the only one with music) who had a fantastic playlist of moving and shaking songs that got the volunteers, the crowd and most importantly the runners MOVING!!  It was loud enough to make a party scene but not too loud.  

However, I'd say at least 75% of the runners I saw were wearing headphones.  The AFC website says:
For your safety and the safety of your fellow participants, you are encouraged NOT to use iPods, MP3 players, or similar devices during the race. However, if you chose to use such a device, it is recommended that you keep the volume at a level at which you are aware of your environment and any emergency situations which may arise.
Let me tell you....some of those people probably couldn't have heard an ambulance if it was on top of them!!  I'm not sure why the ban was lifted, and I'm not sure how it is they are able to get insurance coverage for a race that allows headphone usage, but I personally would like to see them disallowed completely.  I don't want go off on a tangent here so that's all I'll say about that for now....

Thanks to the great music, most of the volunteers were happy and dancing around and having a great time.  I can't say that's crucial because when I'm running a race I don't really pay attention to what they volunteers are doing per se, but when there's a festive scene going on it can certainly put a boost in my energy level.  There's a party house on the Cotton Row route that I look forward to passing.  They have music cranked up, and are dancing around on the sidelines.  It's incredibly fun.  Last year at the Huntsville Half there was an AWESOME aid station at about the 1/2 point.  Since I'm such an extrovert, those kinds of things "fill my tank"; it's like a shot of pure energy!!    Getting water from someone who is smiling and dancing is much better than being yelled at to "grab water from the table!!"

The other thing this aid station had that was so great....SHADE and a mister tunnel!!  I didn't think it was hot out there, but had I been running in the sun I would have LOVED to run through a mister tunnel to get cooled off.  It was perfectly located just before the shaded water tables too!  (I'm not sure how all those people were wearing headphones kept their players dry...just another reason not to wear them!) facet I haven't decided if I liked or not...there was a race photographer located just before the aid station crouched down in the middle of the street.  I liked that he was in the middle, but at the same time I didn't think he was in the best place.  Runners rounded a corner.  They most likely saw (and heard) the aid station and would have been focused on making it there....and then would have had their picture taken by someone they may not have ever even seen.  Bummer.

Overall, I'm thrilled I had the chance to volunteer.   The best part of it all (other than all that I "learned") was getting to encourage the runners who were struggling at the end.  There was one lady who was limping pretty badly.  She said she had a knot in her calf.  She was one of the last "runners", and most likely was not going to make the cut off.  I leaned down and rubbed out her calf.  She just about cried as she told me how much it had helped.   As much as I love running races, I love helping others do it as well.

What do you think??  Do you agree with my observations?  Do you have any aid station stories or suggestions of your own?  I'd love to hear what you have to say.  As always, thanks for stopping in, come again soon!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Getting High

Let me be clear...I've never done any kind of drugs before...unless you count drinking alcohol, which I think some people classify as a drug, but I actually don't....and unless you count prescriptions taken as directed by a doctor (which I don't think ANYONE would call "doing drugs").  However I believe I can still say, the high I get from exercise is WAY better than any high from drug out there.

First of all...uh, hello!!  It's LEGAL!!  I don't have to be worried about being arrested for partaking in my high of choice.  I don't have to worry about drug testing if/when I ever go back to work  I won't ever have to spend time in jail or pay a fine for it.  I won't ever have to lie about doing it (unless I get hurt and my doctor tries to tell me to stop working out, then I probably will be FORCED to lie...).

My "drug" doesn't give me a hangover of any sort.  There's not (that I've experienced) any (direct) negative consequences of coming down from endorphins.  I've never had a headache or had to go through detox.  One could argue overuse injuries could be equated to a "hangover" of sorts...but I would disagree.  I can't come up with anything clever as to why I disagree, but I'm sure there's a difference somewhere!!  Also...there's no way (that I know of) to overdose on endorphins.  ((Maybe overuse injuries could be considered an overdose??))

The process of obtaining my high doesn't have me sticking needles in my arm, heating anything up (other than my muscles!), making any concoctions (other than mixing my EFS), or inhaling anything other than fresh air.

The funny thing is...if I were to have this conversation with real drug addicts, they would likely make the argument they get high quicker and easier; that my high is hard work and takes time.  While this is true, I won't every look back and regret getting "high" on endorphins.  I don't know of anyone who could say the same about drugs.  I would argue their high has long term damaging effects whereas my high has long term healthful effects. 

My way might seem harder, however when you boil it all down, and look at the whole picture, mine is the easier route to take to get high.

Thanks for stopping in.  Come again soon, dude!!!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Cross It Off Your Bucket List"

As I was sitting here writing a blog post on being obsessed with Iron Man a song from my site player came on, "Live Like You Were Dying" (yes, I listen to my own music, it hasn't gotten old for me, I hope you feel the same way).   Bare with me as I take you on a little ride...

Yup...that's me!
In 2004 I decided I wanted to go skydiving.  My husband (at the time) bought me a gift certificate for a tandem jump for my birthday.  I went.  I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT.  It was one of the best experiences of my life.  I knew instantly I wanted to do it again, but on my own.  I wanted to make sky diving my hobby!!  I went home and started looking up all the equipment I was going to need.   Let me tell you, it's every bit as expensive as triathlon.

A month later I went in for an all day training session.  I met all the local sky-divers who impressed me to no end.  My jump master carefully explained all the ways I could die or get hurt....and taught me all the things I needed to remember so as to avoid either of those eventualities!!  I learned there is a series of jumps you have to complete in order to jump alone....starting with the jump I would make that day--a static line jump.   ((Imagine if, before doing an IronMan, you were required to take a class, then complete 3 sprints, 3 Olympic distance and 4 half Irons before being allowed to sign up for IM.))

This is the position you get into before pulling your cord
Not sure if you know anything about sky diving, but basically in the static line jump, your pack pull cord is connected to a line attached to the plane.  You hold on to the strut of the plane with your legs dangling (like 6,000 feet in the air)...then you let go.  (It should be called a static line FALL instead of jump.)  You are supposed to go into a certain position ((or you could get tangled in the line and die)) count for like 3 seconds and then pull your cord to open your pack....if you freak out basically the line that is connected to the plane pulls it for you.  If you (LIKE ME) don't maneuver into the correct position the jump master basically pulls the line very quickly (lest you get tangled up in it and die).

In the split seconds after I realized I wasn't in the right position I thought I would surely die.  I would never see my kids again.  Fortunately my jump master "short-pulled" the line and my pack opened.  When I landed however, long story short, I cracked my tailbone!  Everyone there told me about all the injuries they had sustained over the years.  They assured me, as if it was actually "assuring", injuries were just a part of the sport.  They said the best thing I could do (if I was serious about sky diving) was to come back the next week and jump again, cracked tailbone and all.

You might think I never went back, but I did...a year later with a friend who was crossing an item off her "bucket list".

The rush of the tandem line jump from the previous year came back to me without the pain in my hind end to remind me about my near death static line experience.  All my "friends" (the sky divers I met the year before) remembered me and were telling me they were sure I would be back but they didn't think it would have taken as long as it had.  As I contemplated the possibility of rejoining a group I had never been fully inducted into in the first place, a girl came up on crutches, looking as if she had been hit by a semi.

Shortly before that day (I want to say it was a week, but may have been a month), Shayna Richardson (now West), was taking her 10th jump (like a graduation jump if you will) when both her primary and her reserve canopies failed.  (((She told me the canopies were most likely okay, but there was a problem that she couldn't/didn't handle.)))  She swirled all the way down where she slammed her body into a parking lot.  Obviously she didn't die.  ((The video is HERE.))  After talking to Shayna that day...I have never gone back.  Furthermore, I don't think about going back, longer than a few seconds minutes anyway.

You might ask why on earth I'm writing about this....  Well, it's in response to a couple of comments made by a friend about triathlon, IronMan specifically.  MY TAKE on what she said (maybe not what she meant by her comments) is that some people sign up for an Iron Man just to cross it off a list of things they want to do before they die.  I'll be honest, last January when I decided I wanted to "run a marathon" that was pretty much what I had in mind.  However, it didn't take long for me to realize I LOVE to run.  When I decided to train for my first triathlon...I didn't know what to expect.  I couldn't swim.  I didn't own a bike.  I thought it might be a good way to cross train to improve my running without the constant pounding out of miles.

I didn't expect to love it.  I didn't expect it to be a life changing thing for me.  I didn't expect it to change me the way it has.

No...triathlon hasn't changed's simply an outlet for me to be who I am.  ((yes, I'm totally aware of how corny that sounds....but it's true so I'm leaving it there!))

Thanks for stopping in!  Come again soon.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Food Will Be the Death of Me

For quite a while I have been hyper-vigilant with my food choices.  Other than not quite eating enough before Wet Dog, I've done well at watching the kinds of foods I'm eating as well as how much.  I've also stayed away from all the foods on my food allergy/intolerance list, even all weekend at camp.  I took and made all my own food (baked -well, microwaved- potatoes with fake butter, gluten free waffles, protein powder). 

Until Sunday.

A while back after an open water swim my tri training group went to a place called Stevarino's in Scottsboro.  It looks like a hole-in-the-wall and is in the middle of a strip mall.  Not the place one would expect to find the best (looking) pizza in the WORLD!!  ((I'm not kidding you...that pizza looked better than what I had in Italy, and from what everyone was saying it tasted as good as it looked.))  Well, that night I chose to eat a seared tuna salad.  Don't get me wrong, it tasted great, but, come on, it was nothing compared to pizza.

Over the course of the camp weekend I road passed pizza nirvana no less than six times.  After all the calorie expenditure and being repeatedly faced with temptation...I caved Sunday afternoon and begged my husband to take me to Stevarino's.  We drove down there only to find is CLOSED.  I wanted to cry.  Rather than seeing it as an opportunity to make a better choice, I started thinking about other pizza places.  The only place I could think of that might be worth intestinal distress is also not open on Sunday.  Third place was not only open but on the way home.  After scarfing down some cheesy garlic bread (which wasn't actually very good) I ate some good (but not spectacularly fabulous) pizza.

Monday morning I woke up with a POUNDING, SPLITTING headache and a nose I couldn't breathe out of.  Tuesday and today I have battled total intestinal distress.  From past experience, my best guess is I'll continue having "issues" for the rest of this week.  Why can't I remember the momentary good taste of food is NOT WORTH the inevitable week of suffering.  I talked about it over and over all weekend.  I can't count the number of times I told my I couldn't lose weight and felt so horrible until I took the food allergy test and cut out the food on the list.  How I lost 4 pounds the first week and have felt better than I have in my life during the times I'm eating completely clean. I feel like garbage when I eat those foods.  How could I ruin it with pizza ...especially pizza that wasn't my first choice??

I hope the more I talk about it the more I can remember it's NOT WORTH IT!!!  I'm sorry for subjecting you to my melodrama!   But...thanks for stopping in...come again soon!! 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Being a Doug

My very first non-family member reader (you know who you are) read about me going to the Long Course Camp and told her husband, Doug, about it.  During Friday evening's 24 mile "social" ride I found myself riding beside him.  As I was plodding along thinking about the weekend, trying not to think about what was coming up...all of the sudden he said, "WOW, this is really beautiful out here!!"  I looked up and ...boy was he right!! 

We were "out in the county" with some "mountains" and farm land all around us.  Seeing the countryside is one thing I have loved about biking.  The problem is, more often than not, when I'm training I'm not able to take in my surroundings.  It's kind of like trail running.  I can't look around when I'm RUNNING...I have to look straight in front of me, planning out my next footfall unless I want to plant my face in the trail instead of my shoe!! 

Later when we were "running" in the pitch black night...I was struggling to see the road in front of me.  I had almost run over another camper who stopped because she has no night vision.  She and I were like the blind leading the blind trying to stay in the middle of the road when all of the sudden Doug came upon us from behind (come to think of it, how did I manage to be in front of him in the first place????).  We were walking at that point because running in the complete dark isn't smart.  When we got out from under the tree cover Doug said, "WOW...would you just look at that sky!!!" (or something to that effect).  I looked up and ...boy was he right!!!

A clear night sky, unadulterated by man-made or moon light, is truly one of my all-time favorite things; I would have completely missed seeing it if not for Doug!  By that point I was tired, STARVING, worried about whether or not the kitchen had a microwave and how long it was going to take for my baked potato to cook, wondering if the showers would be hot (because no matter how hot I am, I can not STAND a cold shower!)...not to mention the worry about Saturday that was creeping in my thoughts like an infection...but, once again, Doug's words brought me back to the present moment.  Not only that, his words pointed to what was beautiful, what was good, about that specific moment in time.

Saturday when we were a little over half way into our long ride, there was a small group of us (including Doug) who thought we might be lost.  We hadn't seen road markings in a LONG time, we thought there was going to be aid at the halfway point (which we had passed seven or so miles back), it was HOT, it looked as though there were storms headed our way, we were all out of water....and no one had a map or a phone.  I honestly don't remember Doug's words, but I remember thinking, "at least the positive thinker is here to keep us buoyed!!  ((We were not lost, the road was marked and aid, and a GREAT little country store, was only about a mile away....))

Matthew 6:33-34 tells me not to worry about tomorrow, but I don't always remember.  Several more times during the weekend, Doug made comments that gently reminded me of this lesson in such an uplifting way that by Sunday I started thinking, "I'm going to 'be a Doug' and make an effort to find something POSITIVE to focus on."  He was one of many campers who was pretty much ALWAYS smiling.  When worry and concern pushed and pulled at my thoughts like currents on a ship, Doug's words served as anchors reeling me back into the BEAUTY of the moment.  His comments reminded me to be fully present in God's creation.  Not only that...they reminded me to be THANKFUL for it.

It's hard to be around someone who is negative.  It's even harder when that negativity is inside my own head.  Being around someone who is positive is like breathing fresh air....a cool breeze on a hot day....refreshing, uplifting, renewing.   I certainly do not want to give the impression that Doug was the only positive camper--there were MANY--it just so happened he pointed out things that were personally meaningful to me (the view from the bike and the starry night sky) at the exact right time (when my thoughts were not quite where they needed to be).  What a blessing!!!  I think the very fact there were several "Dougs" present at the camp allowed me to finish the weekend feeling STRONG.  I only hope I was able to "be a Doug" to someone!

Thanks for stopping in...come again soon!  :D

***I usually change names in my posts...but Doug is a common name and "being a Doug" is emblazoned in my mind now; I don't think I could have written the post as easily if I had changed the name to something like "being an Earnest" or "being a Wally".