Sunday, February 26, 2012


I want to write up a full recap of yesterday's "race"...but I don't have time right now so I'll give the short version (yes, that is possible for me to do!).

It was cold and windy.  I seriously almost backed out of doing this race a thousand times, right up to the time we took off.  I secretly told myself if I made it to the big hill and quit there I'd be okay (embarrassed but okay). 

Let me back up to Friday for a second...I drove the whole course once and the hard hill TWO MORE TIMES!!  I played a couple of songs and even took a video of the last few miles with those songs playing.  I watched it no less than five times.  Let me tell you...there's nothing like having theme music for a hill climb!! ((I added one of the songs to my playlist--"The Saints Are Coming".)) 

Back to the race...It's funny because all the hills that would normally completely FREAK ME OUT before really didn't yesterday because I had already been on the first part of the course on my bike.  That was my saving grace.  I kept thinking, and saying outloud, "I've done this before...I've been here...I've already survived this and it wasn't bad."   When I got to the section I had videoed I had the songs running through my head and in my mind I was just watching the screen.  I knew how long each climb would be even when I came to a spot where I couldn't see the top.  I had picked out some landmarks to mark easier sections and knew when the hard climb was coming so I could mentally prepare (or quit...just being honest).

In a nutshell...I did it!!  I didn't stop.  I didn't get out of the saddle (not sure if that's a good thing or not, but I think it's good).  And...I came in THIRD PLACE!!!  It sounds really good until you find out there were only three of us there!!!  The first place girl was a 15 year old who's 17 year old sister had just done the B race (2 loops) and then rode with her sister for a third loop...they are both AMAZING and were way in front of us after about 5 or so miles.  Second place was a Tribe-mate of mine who is an Ironman.  We rode together the whole time (with her leading...but I refused to draft off her after it became apparent I wasn't going to be able to pull her for more than a couple of just wouldn't have been fair).  We finished pretty much side-by-side with her out in front about 10".

I promise I'm not trying to over-exaggerate here...but yesterday was truly life-changing for me.  I told my husband later, I remember the day I held a mouse and I remember the day I sat on my roof...and I will forever remember the day I rode up that monster-sized BEAST hill!!  (If that didn't make sense, read my previous post...)

More later...

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cimbing the Steps and Getting on the Roof

A couple of weeks ago (2 1/2 to be exact) some of the e3 "Tribe" went on a training ride.  If you read the post I wrote about what I need to sacrifice in order to reach my goal, you'll remember just how not-well that ride went.

I have been told this Saturday I'll be participating in my first ever bike race.  I would actually be excited, if not for the fact the route includes a HARDER climb than the one I failed on two and a half weeks ago.  I had anxiety dreams about it all last night.

****IRONIC SIDE NOTE:  as I'm writing this post I have my blog opened up on another page, listening to my music...just as I typed that last period, "Gonna Fly Now" came on.  "Getting strong now...won't be long now...getting strong now.......gonna fly now...flying high now....gonna fly...."...  It's actually hard to keep freaking out with a song like that playing in the background, especially with the mental image of Rocky bounding up all those steps!!

Okay...instead of writing all the things I intended to write-mainly about how MUCH I'M FREAKING OUT, all the anxiety I have about the climb involved in this race, and all the reasons (REASONS not excuses) I have about being completely JUSTIFIED in that freak out, I'm going to do my best to put my big girl pants on.

*** WARNING, you might get a little whip-lash reading this post because I'm sure it will reflect the back and forth going on in my mind right now. ***

I remember one time when my ex-husband and our kids went to an amusement park.  My two kids were born fearless and LOVED roller coasters.  My ex-step-son, however, HATED them.  He was terrified to even climb the steps going up to a non-scary ride--the steps alone were enough to freak him out.  The first time we (okay, I) tried to get him to go up the steps I remember trying to rationalize with him...the stairs were VERY wide (like 7' across), they were sturdy and strong, there was a high railing all the way up, he didn't even have to be close to the edge.  He wanted to go on the ride, he just didn't want to climb those steps thanks to a completely irrational fear, something I was all too familiar with myself.

When I was a little girl my brother and I went to this park down the street.  He could swing so high I thought he would go right over the top.  Not only that, he could jump out at the height of the arc and FLY through the air like an acrobat.  Not only could I not go that high, no matter what I tried, I couldn't make myself jump out.  

When we moved away, my dad made a rope swing for me in the back yard, sort of like the one in the picture (but way cooler).  After quite a bit of practice, I could swing high and jump out, although never as good as my brother.  

One afternoon I got on that swing and starting pumping my legs...the next thing I knew I was flat on my back and couldn't breathe.  It was one of the worst things I had felt in my young life; skinned knees are nothing compared being unable to inhale!  When I got up I realized one of the ropes had broken.  Even as young as I was, I knew I needed to get back on that swing.  In my infinite wisdom, I grabbed up the rope and tried to play Tarzan.  I was shaking so violently I couldn't hold on and, low-and-behold, I fell again.  

A few years later I almost had a panic attack when I had to climb a ladder about 14 feet.  I didn't know where the fear was coming from because I couldn't remember ever being afraid of heights...but it was there for some reason.  As I thought back, I vividly recalled the breathless terror I felt when the rope swing broke.

The panic attack ladder experience, combined with everything I had learned about desensitization therapy in college (my degree is in psychology) led me on a quest to overcome the acrophobia which had advanced to the point I was unable to get onto my husband's shoulders (he was 6'4").  I started with climbing a ladder, then ventured up onto to the roof of our house, and eventually was able to peer over the side, even sitting on the edge, with my feet hanging over.  (A few years later this skill came in handy when I took a job as an insurance adjuster.  I climbed on over 1,000 roofs in the ten years I worked claims.)

Yeah...this isn't working.  As much as I want to be a big girl and "climb those steps" I just don't think I'm mentally prepared.  Daisy asked me today what I'm afraid of.  The honest answer is, I just don't think I can do it.  If I had a doctor tell me she had run some tests which proved conclusively I had the physical capability to lift 500 pounds, I wouldn't even try because I don't believe I can.  I would rather be told I have to go ride 100 miles of rollers than to be told I have to climb one continuous mile of steep hill.  The century would be hard, but in my mind the steep hill is beyond me.  And...I know with thinking like that, it is.  That very thing killed me last time--I got scared and put on my own brakes. 

There is part of me that understands the only way to overcome the fear I have is to face it head on and tackle the same time, my experience with myself tells me the best way for me to do that is one step at a time.  The only other fear I've had (that I can think of) was a fear of mice.  I honestly couldn't even THINK about a mouse (except MAYBE Mickey) without FREAKING OUT.  Overcoming musophobia started with just getting used to talking about them...which progressed to going to the pet store to look at them from a few feet away...eventually being able to walk up to where they were kept...until I finally I got up the nerve one day to hold one of them.  I can't say I like mice, but I could see one today without screaming and jumping onto the nearest high thing around me.  As far as heights go...I was completely fine until I broke my tailbone skydiving!!  (I'm not scared of heights but I probably won't go skydiving again any time soon.)

I also know there is nothing anyone can say or do to take this fear away from me.  It's irrational.  It's stupid to be afraid of riding a bike up a hill.  I know that.  "Knowing" how stupid and irrational it is doesn't help.  Having someone beside me won't help.  But, I do know riding flat roads will only allow that fear to persist.  That is unacceptable to me.  Will I conquer the fear this weekend?  I'll let you know.

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

Friday, February 17, 2012


We love the process, and the process is just as important as the end result.
--Sara Hall, 2012 USA Cross Country Champion
This was part of the Runner's World quote of the day.  Ironically "process" was on my mind to write about today.  I am usually "only" focused on an end result.  I don't like the process of getting there, it takes WAY too long, I don't understand the "whys" and/or the "hows", sometimes I just don't like the work involved, other times I get slightly off course and end up in a totally different place than I wanted to be! 

"Process" (NOT my desire) is precisely WHAT will determine the end result I reach.  Without the proper process, the outcome is not usually what it should be/what I want it to be.   One of the hard things for me to realize is that "process" can't be rushed.   I was reminded of this recently while taking a SPINNING class.  The instructor said after a caterpillar forms a chrysalis, and begins to change into a butterfly, it has to beat its newly forming wings against the inside of the cocoon in order to get all the fluid out of its fat little caterpillar body.  Interruption of that process will kill it.  During the metamorphosis it is no longer what it was, but also not yet what it will be.  In fact, for a while it's really just goo.

I have a hard time being in that "goo" phase.  Not only does it take a long time, I want to know why certain things have to be done, or how doing them will help me get to the result I want.  To give you a non-athletic example, when I was a kid I wanted some Rice Crispy Treats.  I had never made them, but there was a recipe on the box; how hard could it be to mix some stuff together?  The instructions called for melting the butter and marshmallows in a pot over low heat.  LOW??  REALLY??  I wanted my Treats NOW.  I turned the knob up to high. know what happens to butter and marshmallows on high?   They don't burn, they just pretty much disintegrate.  I couldn't figure out why I didn't get the the yum-ness I was looking for until my mother explained to me how important it was to follow the directions as written, even if I didn't understand them fully.  I still don't completely understand why it doesn't just melt FASTER but I do know if I want them to turn out right I have to follow the instructions.  (Okay, yes, I do understand melting points and butter/marshmallows have a lower one than something like lead...but WHY does it have to be that way??!!)

Sometimes the reason the process is so hard for me is because it's just hard.  I read a quote recently, I can't remember where or I'd link it (it was probably on Face Book...), "riding a bike up a hill is HARD, no matter who you are."  That sounds reasonable, but in my mind it's harder for me.  While I believe it's true the muscles needed to accomplish the task might be weaker in me than in other people, the idea that Coach Eric hurts when he's riding up a hill was NEWS to me.  Chrissy Wellington said in an interview she likes to "beast herself"...I loved that.  Her workouts are hard and she doesn't shy away from them--she rushes toward them with open arms and, or course, a big ole smile on her face!  The same SPINNING instructor who told the story about the butterfly likes to say, "DON'T MAKE IT EASY...YOU ARE HERE FOR A REASON...DON'T GIVE UP!!"  If the process of getting to the finish were easy, the reward wouldn't be nearly as sweet.

You've heard that saying, "practice makes perfect?"  It's a lie.  Perfect practice makes perfect.  Sloppy practice makes sloppy.  Right now I'm in the process of learning how to swim correctly.  I know some of you are asking what on Earth I can mean by that.  Since I've worked my way up to an Olympic distance triathlon, I should know how to swim, right?  Wrong.  I know how to thrash around in the water and move my body from point A to B without drowning, but I am just now learning how to swim efficiently, which will hopefully not only cut minutes off my time, but also allow me to conserve energy to complete the bike and swim.  However, the effort to learn/re-learn is much harder than just going out there and splashing from one side to the other.  It requires the use of muscles which I have NOT been using, and it requires me to CONCENTRATE.  (Sometimes I have to concentrate on relaxing because I'm over-thinking so much.)  Slight corrections in my form have already cut several seconds off my 50yard time.  (A half-iron is 3344 several seconds off 50 yards will add up to many minutes in the race!!)

I'm beginning to see the process is actually what life is all about.  We spend WAY more time in the process of getting somewhere...because when we do "get there" we usually begin a new process of something.

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What are you willing to sacrifice to reach your goal?

I've been asking myself that a lot lately, but especially after reading this article.  Mainly because I think I haven't been sacrificing very much.  I've been doing fairly well on workouts--getting them done and maintaining effort throughout the whole thing...but "fairly well" will only get me "fairly close" to my goals.

So...what am I not sacrificing??

I'm not sacrificing my my willingness to quit on myself.  This one is huge, and if you've been reading my blog long, you know it's one I've been dealing with for a long time.  Giving up has many "flavors", but when you boil them all down, they all taste like self-imposed failure.  I've been working very hard to get beyond this tendency, and I have come a LONG way...but days like this past Sunday remind me just how far I still have to go.

Sunday I woke up tired.  I almost fell asleep in my husband's Sunday school class (something that NEVER happens because I think he is the best SS teacher EVER).  Several e3 Multisport tribe mates were going for a group ride (led by our great coaches) at 1.  I'll spare you the entire inner dialogue I had with myself just to get me to the meeting spot, but here are some highlights of the conversation...
  • I have no idea what to wear, it's slightly cold, but I tend to get hot...I don't have good biking clothes....(I looked at the weather and had a couple of options available of acceptable clothes.)
  • I don't know if I'll have enough time to get there after church...(I got all my stuff ready the night before; we planned on driving to church separately so I could leave immediately at 12:15, giving me "plenty" of time to get home/changed/out there.)
  • I'm out of EFS, what on Earth will I take to eat on this 3 hour ride??  (I packed a couple of Lara bars and 2 bottles of water and knew that would be fine enough.)
  • I'm not going to be able to keep up--these are serious bike riders...(Eric said there would be "all paces" although I was pretty sure I would be bringing up the rear, but someone has to be last; I told myself I will never get faster if I don't ride with faster people.)
  • What if I get lost??  (I would have my phone which has Google maps...not like I've not ever ridden alone before.)
  • I'd bet money there will be a lot of hills...Eric LOVES hills.  I picked NOLA because it's flat......
Well...when I was on the way home from church I saw Eric had posted the route on "mapmyride"....I thought I'd be doing myself a favor by making sure I knew where we were going...wrong.    What it did was FREAK ME OUT because of the massive HILL we were going to climb.

I didn't even take a good long look...I didn't have to...that point in the middle was all I needed to see.  I took a deep breath and told myself, "DON'T BE AFRAID...JUST DO IT!!"  I also gave myself permission to not go up that thing, reasoning I don't have to climb Everest to be able ride NOLA.

Before we even left the parking lot I fell over!!  You can't clip out on the left and lean to the right-it just doesn't work that way!  When we started riding I was feeling pretty decent and keeping up...for a few miles anyway.  Then I started falling behind.  It's interesting...when I glanced at the elevation profile I only saw the one obvious hill...I didn't see all the others.  It might not look like it but that's what I would call a hilly ride.  (Again...that's why I picked NOLA, hills wear me out.)  I was already WAY behind when we got to the monster.  I wanted to just wait at the bottom, but Eric was having none of that.  He said I could do it so I decided I wouldn't revert to a temper-tantrum-throwing-three-year-old and listen to his voice ("You CAN do this...just relax and pedal.") more than the one SCREAMING in my head ("ARE YOU KIDDING ME???  THERE'S NO WAY YOU CAN CLIMB THAT HILL ON THE BIKE!!")

As I started up I got scared and threw on the brakes...and fell over.  I got back up and started again.  I heard a vehicle behind me, got scared, threw on the brakes...and fell over.  I got back up and started again.  I made it up to a false flat and had the flash in my mind I was probably only about a fourth of the way up--IF THAT--and realized "THIS IS FREAKING HARD!!!"  Rather than just taking a deep breath and pushing up that hill...I tapped the brakes...and...FELL OVER.  Eric came up beside me and told me to get back on and get up the hill...I had to remind myself that I'm a grown woman and there was no sense in crying like a 4 year old even though that's exactly what I felt like doing.  He must have realized just how close to breaking down I was and told me it to look at how far I had come already.  He said to go back down; they'd meet me at the bottom. 

I think the thing I don't like about such steep climbs (other than just how HARD they are) is that I can't slow down or stop if I want to....because doing so will cause me to...fall over, of course.  I feel slightly TRAPPED in the effort of it all with no escape.  

not my tire
I composed myself, got back on my bike and started down this hill blazing fast (something I LOVE LOVE LOVE), when I heard a POP.  It sounded like a gun or ...a tire.  Maybe I'm wrong, but I think it's a miracle I didn't crash and was able to get the bike safely stopped--WITHOUT falling over!!  I was so proud of myself because I knew how to change a flat and had all my tools with me like I'm supposed to.  However, when I got the new tube aired up I saw a bulge in the side of the tire.  I realized it shouldn't look like that but I had no idea what I needed to do in order to fix it.  Eric came down about that time and stopped to help me.  LONG story short we ended up having to change the whole tire (thanks so much to an extra-prepared training buddy!!).  FINALLY we were on the way back.

Pretty much the whole way I was beside myself with anguish over giving up...and over how stinking slow I am on the bike.  I wanted to ride faster, and kept telling myself (out loud) to DIG DANA DIG...WORK...COME ON, YOU CAN DO IT.  That worked for short bursts until another tribe mate rode up alongside of me and started talking.  I have a great deal of respect for her and really wanted to hear what she had to say so I worked as hard as I could to stay up with her until we got back to the parking lot (much harder than I would have worked if I were by myself I'm sure).

When I told her about not making it up the hill, she asked me if I had just not pedaled fast enough and I said yes.  But the more I thought about what happened I realized that simply was not the truth...I fell over because I hit my own brakes.  What's really ironic is the realization that I hit my brakes because I was afraid I was going to fall over.  I caused the very thing I was so afraid of.  (That's not to say I might not have fallen over anyway, but that's beside the point.)

The next day's workout consisted of back-to-back SPINNING classes and a pyramid run immediately afterward.  I had to make myself go to SPINNING, make myself stay for the second class, make myself WORK HARD THE WHOLE TIME (really hard not just look like I was working hard).  I really wanted to skip the run altogether but instead I allowed myself to take a slightly easier run workout instead of the one that was planned.  (Eric said the one I did is actually harder, but it FEELS easier to me.)  Just like going part of the way up that hill was better than not going up any of it, doing any sprint workout after the double SPINNING classes was better than not doing anything at all...but the truth is it's still a sacrifice of my goal.

I set this half-iron goal for myself.  The only one I will be hurting by giving up is ME.  The only one who will be sorry is ME.  I don't want to allow following my training plan "fairly well" to get me "fairly close" to my limits.  I want to give MY BEST effort to have MY BEST result.  In order to do that I have to be willing to sacrifice giving up on myself.

A dear friend gave me a copy of Facing the Giants after I wrote the post titled "Is My Best Good Enough".  My favorite scene from that movie shows what it MIGHT look like to give my best.  Although I don't quite know how to blindfold my MIND...I'm still working on it.   (Don't forget to pause the music so you can hear this's completely worth 6ish minutes of your time, trust me!!)

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