A Thousand Words

For Christmas I got a Nikon DSLR camera. Photography has always intrigued me and I thought it was a good time to dive in. The camera sat in the box until very recently. Life was busy and then the pandemic hit. It is amazing how quickly plans and priorities change. I have been working from home since March 10th as well as sheltering in place. I am very fortunate to work for a firm with outstanding technology that allows me to work from home without skipping a beat. As March moved into April, my area’s Regional Vice President challenged us to find a project or activity outside of work to develop through April. Life balance is important. For those who have followed my blog over the years, you will know that exercising more is not much of a challenge for me. So, I decided to take the camera out of the box, follow some classes on Master Class as well as Nikon’s online classes, and see where it leads me.

Sheltering at home, I am limited as to the scope of my photography subjects. I live in a semi-rural area on a small lake, so nature and my pets have become my subjects. Here is April, the beginning.

For Shame! Or Not…

I own every season of Friends on DVD. I think part of the show’s success was that we could relate to the characters. There is a little Monica, Ross, Rachael, Chandler, Phoebe, and Joey in each of us. Recently I was reminded of the episode “The One With the Secret Closet”. I have accumulated clutter in my bedroom and have to face it – and I don’t have a secret closet like Monica to hide the clutter.

Monica was obsessive-compulsive and kept everything in order – or so we thought. When she discovers that Chandler found out she actually has a messy side, she was ashamed. Her perfect image she wants to portray was tainted.

We have all been there – felt shame or even shamed others. I certainly have experienced both. Allowing others to see my imperfections? My virtual “secret closet” is bursting to fly open. I have also been called out for shaming. I went on a cruise a few years ago (and blogged about it daily here) with a very dear friend. One day while we were at sea, we were sunning poolside when a woman caught my eye. Her figure would be considered plus size and she was wearing a bikini. I questioned to my friend if the woman was clueless as to how she looked in the bikini. My friend responded kindly saying she sees a woman who is very confident and doesn’t care what others think. I was body shaming – and it came so natural, I didn’t even realize it. That moment changed my perspective and how I think.

Fat shaming, skinny shaming – both body shaming, slut shaming, prude shaming, food shaming, even clutter shaming – why?? The shamer may be feeding an insecurity looking for validity. Those who feel shamed may be hiding their own insecurities and feelings of inadequacy. No one is perfect. I am far from perfect. But I am learning to love to be perfectly me.

Recently I introduced a forum on Facebook called her link. The ladies who have joined are amazing – they inspire, empathize, encourage. They are sharing their successes, experiences, life lessons – good, bad, ugly, and beautiful. We are embracing each other perfectly as we are. I encourage women reading to check out her link by clicking the links above to Facebook.

When Chandler discovered the closet contents, Monica feared he would think less of her because she wasn’t as organized as she portrayed. Rather, he tells her he loves her in-spite of her obsessively organized ways, not because of it. Our weaknesses, failures, and shortcomings make us who we are along with all of the good stuff. We need to love ourselves for who we are – perfectly imperfect and love those in our lives the same.

Be Kind, In Kind, The Kind of Group I Want to be a Part Of

I miss my mother. Dearly. Every day I think of her. She offered wisdom, encouraged me, motivated me, answered my questions, laughed and cried with me. She was my best friend.  My mother also inspired me. Because of her crippling rheumatoid arthritis, I signed up to run a marathon to raise funds for the Arthritis Foundation. This experience introduced me to endurance sports and changed my life forever. Her graceful way of handling her pain every day taught me how to manage the pains I have experienced. Anyone who met my mother knew she was gracious and loving. She was kind.  

For almost a year now, I have been mulling over an idea. I want to create a forum where women of all ages (sorry fellas) can share experiences, ask advice, offer encouragement and solutions in an environment similar to what my mother offered me – kind and supportive. I am excited to say this idea has become a reality! Above in my banner are links to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. All lead to a forum titled her link – Helping, Encouraging, Reaching Ladies Interests iN Kind. 

I once learned that having friends that span all decades of ages is a wonderful way to learn and grow. The older have much wisdom and experience to share. The younger inspire and keep us all young at heart! Regardless of age, we all are skilled in some way that offers assistance, encouragement, and knowledge. 

The Facebook forum is a closed group (members are approved and only members can read the content) for women to share about a wide variety of topics. The few guidelines members are asked to follow are not to discuss religious or political issues (social media has plenty of forums for these topics) and refrain from insults and demeaning conversations – in essence – be kind.

To the ladies reading – I encourage you to join the Facebook group and follow on Instagram and Twitter and tell your friends about her link. To the fellas reading – please tell the women in your life about her link. In a world that is more divisive than ever, I hope to offer a forum for ladies to share life’s experiences in a kind and encouraging environment. I truly believe we share more in common to unite – or link – us than divide.

Listen Today

While many people champion the concept of multi-tasking, there are certain things that are best done with full attention and focus. Listening is probably the top of the list. In a conversation, we tend to hear better when our eyes are focused on the person who is speaking. Personally, I have told several jokes based on crazy things I thought I heard because I wasn’t looking right at the person speaking.

This past week I have juggled multi-tasked several things as the holidays approach. As I workout to reach my year end fitness goal, I will catch up on the news or watch the Food Network (way better than the news these days) while I am on the row machine or elliptical. When I am riding my bike on the trainer, I am focused on my iPad while the Peloton instructor leads me through the workout. Then there is my daily yoga. 

I find myself excited when the time comes in the day to do the daily yoga class in my 30 Days of Yoga journey. There is no music, just Adriene talking the yogi through the class. Today I finished day 16 – and each day I am learning to quietly listen to my body. This type of listening is best done when my eyes are closed rather than open. I am focusing within. I am noticing the areas that really ached are loosening, it still hurts to sit crossed legged, but not as deep and I am able to sit a little longer. I also notice through the day I am not sore or stiff when I stand up after sitting for an hour or so at work. I am half way through the month and I am feeling the benefits of my workouts, not just seeing my fitness numbers improve. Speaking of numbers – I am up to 59 on my fitness score, my goal is to cross 60 by the end of the year.

Today I thought how finding stillness is not easy to do if it is not actually scheduled. With the holidays approaching, who has time to be still? This past weekend I had two great opportunities to have quality time with people dear to me. My niece is also my hair stylist and I had a couple hours alone with her. She is a really amazing person and having that time to spend with her is priceless. I also had lunch with a dear cousin who I rarely have one on one time with. We actually had time to learn more about each other. That dedicated time with these awesome ladies made my weekend wonderful. 

As I mentioned last week, we make time for what matters the most to us. So my challenge to you as you go through this busy week, take a few moments to be still. Think of those you care about and haven’t spoken with in a while, breathe deeply, pray, listen to the stillness around you – find that peace that we wish to all in this holiday time. And appreciate the gift of today.

Virtually There

My year end goal of improving my fitness is three weeks away. I am focusing on eating clean – most of the time – and keep to my workout routine.  Swimming is one of my favorite sports and I get to the pool to swim four mornings a week. I am also cycling on my trainer, rowing on a row machine and practicing yoga. While I would enjoy riding my bicycle outside for two hours, the weather this time of year is not cooperating and time management makes it challenging to carve that much time out two to three days a week.

I belong to a wonderful fitness club, but returning after work for a second workout just isn’t as appealing as it was when I was training for an Ironman. Now that fitness is my primary focus, I prefer to workout at home after work. Thanks to technology, it is very easy to find challenging workouts!

For cycling, I have a smart trainer, mine is a Wahoo Kickr Snap. There are several apps to use with a smart trainer – TrainerRoad, Sufferfest, and Zwift are a few. TrainerRoad is a great program when training for a long course triathlon. Sufferfest and Zwift combine interactive workouts with virtual videos.

Then there is Peloton. I am sure most reading this are aware of Peloton, has seen a commercial for a Peloton bike, or even may own one. I have been using the Peloton app along with my bike on the trainer. Fortunately, Peloton offers an app based program that the rider can use with their own bike. While the resistance is a bit different since I am not on the actual bike, it is a virtual spin class that offers a great workout. I am able to ride when I want with prerecorded classes, or participate in a live class. The instructor knows who is riding in the studio and online. Even app users who are not on a Peloton bike are listed. The workout stats do not register like when riding a Peloton bike, but the instructor does know when the app user hits certain milestones. Today was my 50th ride and I rode a live class with one of my favorite instructors, Robin Arzon. I always know her class will be a tough workout and she knows how to motivate and push the class. Her favorite saying is “let’s sweat, with swagger.”

My journey through 30 days of yoga is going well. Today is day 9, and Yoga with Adriene is guiding me through it. The classes vary in length from 10 minutes to 35 minutes and she mixes it up so I am not doing the same thing every day. It is still very challenging to sit crossed legged longer than 5 minutes with pain, but I am making progress. Adriene’s style is so refreshing. She talks the yogi through the movements in a very real way. It is like I am casually doing yoga with a friend.

Both Robin and Adriene know how to connect to the viewer virtually through the camera. It is like I am virtually there with them. I follow both on Instagram – and they follow each other too! I get a kick out of Adriene liking Robin’s pictures and Robin liking Adriene’s. I am not surprised they are linked together on Instagram. Robin is in New York and Adriene is in Austin, TX. Another virtual connection of outstanding instructors.

Frequently I hear people say they would exercise if they had time. I am a firm believer that we make time for what we want to do. Yes, getting to a gym can be difficult, but there are options. I have found two outstanding programs that allow me to workout at home in the evenings. My pets get a little more attention now that I am home earlier and I am able to get a few chores done too. All while I also get a good workout in – and I am virtually there with awesome instructors too.

Year’s End Resolution

New Year’s Resolutions are very common. This blog was born from my resolution to write a blog post every day in 2012, and I did it. This year, a group of my friends and I are doing something a little different – we are setting health and fitness goals to reach by the end of this year. We started November 26th after Thanksgiving and set reasonable goals to reach by year’s end. Having friends to hold each other accountable will hopefully increase our success ratio!

My primary goal is to improve my fitness. For those familiar with Training Peaks, I want to raise my fitness score to over 60 by the end of the year. I started out at 54. The quick definition of the fitness score is a rolling 42 day average of my daily stress score calculated by heart rate or power. Basically, it is how hard I train each day. To put it in perspective, when I was at my peak training for the Ironman, my fitness score was 135. When I was at my lowest over the past 12 months this year it was 35. As of December 2nd, my score was 56. fullsizeoutput_4346

My training activities right now consist of swimming, cycling on the trainer, rowing machine, yoga and hopefully skiing soon. To help improve my daily activity level, I decided to add yoga every day. I figure adding 30 minutes of stretching and strengthening will help me with my other activities.

I found a really good website and YouTube channel called Yoga with Adrienne. Adrienne has over 4 million subscriber and she is considered “the people’s yogi“. I find her style refreshing, it is like working out with a friend. No music, no flashy setup, just authentic yoga taught by someone who doesn’t come off intimidating at all. The inventory of free videos is very sizable too. One program she has is called 30 Days of Yoga. Score! A perfect way for me to add yoga daily to help meet my year’s end resolution.

Yesterday was day one. The practice of yoga is more than just stretching and strengthening. Yoga also helps the yogi focus inward, learn more about myself. On day one, by 2 minutes in, I was well aware of something. My hip flexors are screaming tight! All of the activities I do along with sitting at a desk most of the day contribute to the tightening of those muscles. Adrienne said at the beginning of the video that we will start easy. No rush, we have 30 days. We started sitting crossed legged on the floor. Relax. Breathe in. Easy?? Relax?? I am in agony!! How did this happen? I would sit crossed legged frequently as a child. It was not painful. I was trying to follow the video without having to move, but every minute (or 10 seconds maybe) I would have to shift position. One leg out. Sit with both legs out – okay that is cheating. Sit with soles of feet together. I did this shifting for the entire 10 minutes of sitting on the floor. When she finally said to slowly move into table top position, I was so relived I thing I did it in 2 seconds flat.

I made it through the entire 35 minute class. My experience has me determined to complete the 30 days. I hope by the end I will have a little less discomfort (read: less excruciating pain). I know I won’t be a yogi master, it took me more than 30 days to get in this predicament. One self awareness reflection point hit me as I was trying not to focus on how much pain I was in – I miss blogging. I am self aware enough to know daily posts are not possible, however weekly posts are.

Through this year’s end resolution, I want to share my progress to reach my fitness goal, the 30 days of agony yoga, and the life lessons I learn along the way. I hope you, the reader, will enjoy the journey with me.

Namaste.

Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes

How do you measure a year? 

This well known song from the Broadway musical Rent recently had a new meaning to me. It has been a full year since June 23, 2017 – I did one of my rare blog posts that day only to come home that evening to find my home filled with smoke. A strong wind blew my neighbor’s willow tree over that took out my neutral power line – causing 240 watts to charge through my house. Many things were destroyed from the surge, but the worst was a small fire that started in my home office. Fortunately the fire was contained, but the smoke filled the house for hours. I was not home when it happened. Small fires most often cause sever smoke damage – I realized that first hand one year ago.

In daylights? In sunsets? In midnights? In cups of coffee? In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife?

Since that day, so many things have happened to measuring this past year. I moved out for two weeks – with my two dogs and two cats – while the home was cleaned. Daylights, sunsets, midnights passed and many cups of coffee (and wine) got me through those days. Friends were there for me to share laughter, tears, and even a few honest dissagreements to wake me up from my self-induced myopic view of my strife. I was so consumed with my struggle, I failed to see what a few friends were facing as well.

Reconstruction was a challenge. The contractor that the insurance company suggested I use walked off the job leaving my office with exposed walls, no drywall and so much to be replaced. Fortunately I found an outstanding contractor who was able to finish the work, but on weekends and evenings. The reconstruction was complete on August 19th. Eight weeks after the fire, my home was finally restored. Except for the hundreds of boxes that had to be unpacked.

Before I could open one box, my attention was moved to my father. At 96 years of age, he had been declining in health all year. By August 20th he had in home hospice caring for him and on August 26th, three days before his 97th birthday, he died.

How about love? Measure in love. Seasons of love.

My father lived a long, good life. I was so blessed to have him in my life so long. My mother died in September of 2010. With my father gone, for a while I felt orphaned. Alone in the world. But my parents loved my sister and me deeply. They taught us the meaning of love. My mother was the most selfless person I have ever known.  My father was fiercely loyal. They showed me love is a verb.

After I got my father’s estate in order, I turned back to my home. I set a target date of October 31st to finish unpacking. To hold myself accountable, I scheduled a “FriendsGiving”  dinner the first weekend in November to thank a few close friends who were there for me when I was at my worst. They are definitely units of measurement of love in my life.

Then I rented a 20 yard dumpster and filled it in four days. I cleared out the junk. That was a physical action, but it also sparked an emotional cleansing as well. Toxic relationships are gone. Close friends who I had fallen away from are restored. Life is too short to hold grudges or waste time on things that will never be.

It’s time now to sing out, though the story never ends. Let’s celebrate remember a year in a life of friends.

With the new year of 2018, the past six months have been wonderful. Not that I haven’t had some setbacks. Running is my way of dealing with stress. Even though I shouldn’t run with arthritis in my left foot, I ran anyway. Now my knee is acting up. I haven’t cycled outside all year. But that hasn’t stopped me from working out. I have made modifications and I am in physical therapy. I may be able to run a few miles a week and get my bike on the road before the end of summer.

The good – I learned to ski and love it. Along the way I have also made a few new friends through skiing, I visited a few old friends to go skiing – both in New York and Colorado. I have been sharpening my cooking skills – more on that in future blog posts. I have made time for friends – my vacations are centered around it this year. I want to go visit those dear to me who live far away. Family time is important and last week I was thrilled to celebrate my cousin’s wedding. My extended family has seen each other at funerals more than anything the past few years. Having a wedding to celebrate love was the perfect way to cap off the past five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.

Remember the love. You know the love is a gift from up above. Remember the love. Share love, give love, spray love, measure your life in love.

We’ll Take a Cup of Kindness Yet…

I last wrote June 23rd with the intent to blog more frequently. I also share I had a swim meet the next day. As you know, I did not blog more frequently – and I also did not make it to the meet. That day was not my best day. I have been hesitant to blog since – recounting what has happened is not fun. And I may be a little superstitious. I have been searching for my “new normal” since then and writing one blog post before the end of the year is on my to do list. I have a little over 7 hours left to get it done.

While I was posting my last blog, unbeknownst to me, a small fire was forming in my house. I came home 8 hours later to a smoke filled house. My neighbor’s tree had fallen due to strong winds and took out power lines. It caused a 240 volt surge to go through my house. The surge alone was terrible – many things died right away including my furnace, garage door opener, dryer and treadmill. The surge also caused a power strip to explode into flames. I am very blessed – it burned out on its own without spreading but smoke filled the house for 8 hours. Another blessing – all of my pets survived. The dogs were in a separate room that the smoke did not reach and my cats ran upstairs and hid under beds. All I care to share now is that it took four months to restore and unpack to get my house back to normal. Recounting more is still too stressful to think of. I look at the experience as a blessing, really. I could have lost everything.

Hesitation to blog again resulted – last time I blogged I had a fire. Would something bad happen again? Good thing I didn’t write yesterday. I had a small incident in my microwave that caused some smoke. I am not going to lie – a little bit of PTSD reared its ugly head. Fortunately a very dear friend was only a text away and she helped me regain focus.

Besides mild PTSD, the event of that night impacted me deeply. The thought that my home could have easily burned to the ground had me question what really is important as far as things go. I also was in the process of sorting through my aunt’s house following her death in April. She had left me the possessions in the house. She and my uncle did not throw much away.  After the fire, I started sorting things and realized it may run in the family.

Family – this has been a heartbreaking year for family as well. First my fur baby family – on April 5th my beloved dog Phoebe crossed the rainbow bridge. She was 14 and a half, blind, had heart disease, but it was cancer that got her in the end. She was a fighter for sure and my first dog ever.  Saying goodbye to here was hard. Then my aunt passed on April 25th. The summer was stressful with reconstruction going on and my 96 year old father’s health continuing to decline. On August 26th, three days before his 97th birthday, my father decided he’d rather  be with my mother and he died.

My blog is intended to be uplifting. I am crying as I write, so I have got to find a turning point soon.

My parents and my aunt only lived a half mile apart. Now with two estates to liquidate, I found a wonderful estate sale company who held joint sales the same weekend in October. My sister helped me a lot with our aunt’s house and we worked together on our parents’ house. One day she commented that neither threw anything out. They stored a lot in the basement.  At first I did not reply to her. I realized I learned from my parents many things. Not throwing anything out was one of them.

After we had my parents’ house on the market and my home was restored, I rented a 20 yard dumpster and filled it in 4 days just cleaning out my basement, garage and shed. It was cathartic. My parents’ house sold and closed a week ago. Now I have a clean slate – and home – to figure out the next phase of my life. I have cared for my parents for 8 years. Finding the new normal will take time.

Two things I am focusing on right now are skiing and cooking. I signed up for skiing classes starting on Wednesday. I haven’t skied downhill since I was a teen. I am also going to designate one night a week to cooking a full meal from some of the wonderful cookbooks I have acquired. Look for posts on these adventures soon.

Tonight I say goodbye – and good riddance – to 2017. Many will sing Auld Lang Syne to welcome in 2018. If anything, I have learned it is the people in our lives that matter most. Not the things. I have always believed love is a verb. The friends who showed love did it with actions that left me speechless and filled with gratitude. I go into 2018 with the thought of taking their cup of kindness offered to me and paying it forward. I look at the terrible things I dealt with in 2017 and realize I am blessed beyond measure. I have lost, but I also have many wonderful people in my life to fill some of the void. My focus for 2018 – share the love in action and enjoy each moment doing things that really matter.

And with that, I will wish you a Happy New Year and head out to meet a dear friend for a few moments.

Is This Thing Still On?

It has been a long time since I have blogged. I miss it, so it must be time to write again. When I first started blogging in 2012, the theme quickly focused on triathlon, running and endurance sports. Fitness remains a central part of my life and I will continue to write about my experiences. I also am inspired to write about other topics as well. For those of you who have followed my kitchen renovation back in 2015 on my blog Making My Bitchin’ Kitchen, you know I have an awesome kitchen for cooking! As a result, I plan to blog a bit about my culinary successes and trials. I have also faced, and continue to manage, a few challenges. These events are inspiring me to write as well.

My running race days are behind me as I have developed arthritis in my left foot. That does not mean I don’t run on occasion – I do – slowly, with walking, mostly on a treadmill, and secretly. I run just frequently enough to experience the endorphins but not cause pain. I have not told many of my friends that I am a closet runner. I guess the secret is out now…

Running was my go to escape when life got overwhelming, hence my running attempts.

This August, my father will turn 97. It is a blessing to have him in my life this long! It is also heartbreaking to watch him fade away with mid stage Alzheimer’s stealing his mind. He knows who the people in his life are, thankfully. But he has no idea where he is living, despite being in the house he built 51 years ago. I have around the clock care for him so he can stay in his house. Running helps me process. And a glass of wine. Or two. (As soon as typed “wine” I received a call from the Wall Street Journal Wine Club I belong to, honest truth! A fun assorted case is on the way.)

Along with managing my father’s care, I have been working on going through my aunt’s home. She passed away in April. My mother had three brothers, all four of them have passed away. This aunt was married to one of my uncles. She and my father were the last two of their generation in my family. Now it is just my father. My aunt and uncle did not have children, so my sister, cousins and I inherited most of their modest estate. Part of my inheritance includes the home furnishings. Most weekends, after workouts, I go to her house to sort through what to sell, what to keep, and what to donate. This process has changed me. I am learning more of what I really want to keep in my home – I am tossing out a lot of boxes and old stuff!

I believe I have quite a few things going on to inspire a blog post more frequently than I have written in the past. For now, I will share that my swimming, which was by far my slowest back in 2012 of the three sports in triathlon, has become my fastest. I have competed in two Masters swim meets this year and tomorrow I will swim in my third, I am swimming the 1500 meter event. The meet is at Cleveland State University Busbey Natatorium. It is a wonderful and fast pool that will be set up as 50 meters long course. I have been training diligently for this event, let’s hope it pays off!I swim more than any sport – I love being in the water and seeing my pace improve. Stay tuned to read about my meet experience. Since I am so limited in my running ability, swimming has filled the void. And as Dory told Nemo “When life gets you down do you wanna know what you’ve gotta do? JUST KEEP SWIMMING.”

 

New Beginnings

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

Semisonic Closing Time

Semisonic released Closing Time in March of 1998 and on April 29, 1999 the song really hit a chord in my life. My new beginning began that day when I signed up to run my first marathon to raise funds for the Arthritis Foundation and run in Dublin, Ireland. Little did I know that day would change so much in my life. Endurance sports – specifically running and triathlon – became a huge part of my life. Over the past 17 years I have run 7 marathons, over 15 half marathons, countless 5K races and a few 10K races as well. In triathlon I have completed one full iron distance triathlon and came within 5 miles of another. I also completed 7 half iron distance triathlons, one half iron aqua-bike (swim and bike – no run), three olympic distance triathlons and many sprint triathlons.

This past March I shared that I have developed arthritis in my left foot. The disease that first brought me into running long distance is also the disease that took me out of it.  I took four months off of running early this year and slowly started running a mile to two miles up to three times a week. By mid June I signed up to run a charity 5K with friends. I figured I would see if I could finish – I knew I would not set a personal record, but it would be fun. And it was! And I finished!rftp

With a 5K under my belt without significant pain in my foot, I took on a challenge to race three sprint triathlons and one olympic relay where I swam the first leg this summer. I had a blast – I knew I wasn’t going to place in my age group since my run was not strong at all, so I decided to enjoy the process. Also racing with my friends made it so special.

In March I met with a foot and ankle sports orthopedic surgeon. It was my hope that I would be able to have some type of surgery to alleviate the pain in my foot so I could run. Unfortunately it is not possible. She told me that I was classified with moderate arthritis, not mild, and it is a matter of time before I would decide the pain is too great to run. Throughout summer I would occasionally feel pain as I ran or after, but it was tolerable. After the last triathlon I did in August I knew my running days have ended. By 2.5 miles into the run, the pain was terribly sharp and I was only running an 11:30 minute mile pace. I finished the race and my foot ached for a few days. It was time and I had almost six months to prepare myself for the reality.

My running beginning that began in 1999 had come to an end. I am exploring options to find my next new beginning. What had seemed as a terrible ending has now opened up time for me to expand my fitness horizons.

With the extra time I added yoga to my routine and cycled and swam more. Cycling is so fun! Road riding to me is the most thrilling, however it also involves the most risk. More and more motorist are hitting cyclists and the cyclist is always on the losing end. I also have a mountain bike that I need to take on actual mountain bike trails. I did ride it a bit on a towpath through the parks here in Northeast Ohio. So in addition to racing a few triathlons, I also participated in a few long course area cycling events as well as tool around on the mountain bike. Again – much fun and great exercise!

Yoga is something that I have done off and on over the past six years, however this year it became a regular part of my fitness program. I have benefited tremendously from it – stretching, strengthening and calming. Recently there was a public yoga event at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in downtown Cleveland. I went with a few friends – it was a truly fun and inspiring evening.

Over the years I have worked on my swim to the point I have gone from back of the pack to usually finishing in the top 20% out of the water. Since I am swimming more, I also want to challenge myself to participate in US Masters swim meets. My first was where my strength is – a mile open water swim in Lake Erie. It was a choppy day and I still did well and placed second in my age group.

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Almost  a year ago I registered for the inaugural Ironman Ohio 70.3 half iron distance race. Close to 100 members of the Cleveland Triathlon Club also registered. Not being able to race with my friends was difficult to accept, there was no way I could run 13.1 miles. I decided to volunteer at the race in the first transition and also cheer on the course. I have to say, volunteering is so much fun! I was able to be with my friends and cheer them on. Win win.

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This past weekend I capped off my racing season by racing in the Revolution 3 half iron distance aqua-bike. Aqua-bike races came to be when the demand to race came from triathletes who can no longer run – just like me. Rev3 does a fantastic job of organizing basically four races that take place at the same time. Both full iron and half iron distance triathlons and aqua-bikes. I was able to race along side my friends after all! One of my friends did the full distance triathlon and we stayed till he crossed the finish line. So I had the opportunity to race and then come back and cheer. Again – win win.

So here I am – my racing season is over and in the past I would be planning out what running races and triathlons are next. Not this time. My new beginning right now is exploring my options.  I enjoyed racing an aqua-bike race and I am sure I will do more. Swimming is still something I want to improve on and compete in a meet or two in a pool setting. I want to get stronger in cycling, but I do not have a desire to race road cycling. This fall I plan to get out on the mountain bike trails and overcome the fears I have of the sport. When the snow falls I want to ski downhill. I haven’t been on downhill skis since I was 16! Cross country skiing is something I have done in the past and I will get my skis out as well.

It is fitting to end this post with quoting the beginning of Closing Time. As I explore the options ahead of me, I am facing a new frontier – opening doors into the world.

Closing time. Open all the doors and let you out into the world.