Seizing life's joys and challenges physically, mentally, and emotionally.


Leaping Into March

Another month has ended and I was able to achieve the training goals I set out for February. I wanted to set a personal best in my half marathon and get flip turns down while swimming my warm up and warm down during workouts. Both accomplished. March is a bitter sweet month for me. Several family members have died in March, which is a bit sad to reflect on. March also holds a few family birthdays, including my own. So it is also a celebration of life month. I enjoy watching Winter pass away and Spring emerge, especially when I am able to run outside. My training goals for March are two – I have a 5 mile race I hope to set a personal best time in and I want to incorporate flip turns into my entire swim workouts. Both seem very manageable. Time will tell.

Today was a mixed day for me. My training went well, I swam this morning 2,600 meters in an endurance set. I was pleased with my pace, despite my persistent sinus cold. The morning brought what appeared to be a day full of rain, having a cold on a rainy day just stinks. I felt the dreariness of the day weigh on me. I get text updates for sever weather notices and received one saying a tornado watch (in February?) was issued until 9:00 tonight. I figured I would run on my treadmill in my basement. When I walked outside to my car I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by sunshine and 60 degrees (in February?). I thought two things – take your temperature when you get home to make sure you don’t have a fever and if not, get outside and run! My temperature was normal and I put on capri tights and a short sleeve shirt and went outside for a 5 mile run. In February! Now I am paying for it a bit, my head cold is reminding me it is time to take my Advil Cold and Sinus pill. But I wouldn’t have done it any differently.

Isn’t that what life is about? No regrets. Sure there are some things in life I would have done differently, but I have learned from the experiences and modified my behavior to make it better “next time.” There are relationships that have gone bad I regret, but that is a two way street and I can only do my part. I may do it imperfectly, but have learned to act on my conscience and “do the right thing.” We were given an extra day in this year today, I could have stayed in bed with my cold and justified every minute of it. Instead I got out, completed my training, spent time with my best friend while training, and made the best of what could have been a dreary day. I found joy in the day and hopefully spread some joy too. That is worth leaping over.


Joy Along the Journey

I woke up this morning to find my little head cold growing and I sounded like Edith Ann. I didn’t have a fever and figured it wouldn’t get in my way of swimming, so off to the pool I went. So glad I did. Today is Tuesday – speed day in the pool. I found a few new workout on Go Swim and wanted to try one out. The main set is simple, so my cold stuffed head could remember without a cheat sheet. Three sets of 8×25, 4×50 and 1×200. The first set the 200 is all out, second set the 50’s are all out and the last set the 25’s are all out. The not push sets should be swam about 2 seconds slower. Since it is a speed workout there is ample rest. The 25’s were on 45 second send offs and the 50’s were on 1:20. No set time was suggested for the 200, but I am too structured so I chose 5:00. The no longer dreaded 200 all out I did in 4:02. I was so pleased with my time, I am really looking forward to my 100 time trial on Thursday. I did that with a cold, so I expect my 100 to be better than my last two time trials of 1:52. My all out 50’s were on 55 seconds and my 25’s were on 25 seconds. No, I didn’t flip turn in this set. I did flip for my warm up and warm down and only missed the wall once. And to quote Edith Ann “and that’s the truth.”

This evening I am lifting and getting to bed early. Sleep is the most important thing for me when I have a cold. I could have skipped training today, but I know I would have felt guilty. Listening to my body is important, and I do. Nothing told me I had to skip, I felt great in the pool and energized through the day. Bumps in the road are inevitable, but I am able to stay the course. I hope there won’t be days that are so bad I have to skip a workout, but if that happens I will adjust. My goals are to stay healthy, improve my speed, and complete several challenging races this year. My goals are my destination, my road is my day to day activities. I believe life is all about the journey, and I want to experience as much joy in every day as I am able. I don’t feel guilty today because I got my swim in this morning. I also don’t feel guilty indulging in a grab bag of Fritos while I type this. Comfort food also helps my cold. And that’s the truth.


“Not Every Day is a Good Day…

…But there is something good in every day.” I heard this quote over the weekend and thought it was a nice sentiment, but a little corny. Then today happened. I woke up feeling a little under the weather. I have a tiny head cold, nothing to stop my training, just enough to have me out of whack. I sure wish that was the worst of it. My swim went well, I made sure I did my flip turns during my warm up and warm down. I did them very imperfectly, but there is room for improvement and that is my goal for March – get the turns down well and be able to flip during my main set by the end of the month.

I am planning on running four miles this evening, it is a beautiful day here – almost 50 degrees. The wind gusts are also up to 50 miles per hour, so I am thinking the treadmill will be my running ground tonight. So much for running again in my new Brooks Pure Cadence shoes tonight. Again, I wish that was the worst thing that happened today.

So why is today not a good day? I live 17 miles from Chardon High School. Today, for a reason no one will ever understand or accept, a student decided to bring a gun to school and use it. He shot five students, killing one boy. I have seen events like this time and again on the news, I never thought it could happen so close to home. But it did. I am not going to editorialize at all about the tragedy. I did not know any of the victims or the shooter, who is in custody. All I know is a family lost their son today. I can look at my day that is not so good and find my good in the day – my training is advancing and I will run out my stress tonight. I hope these students and families are able to find something good in today, a little something to return the peace in their lives. Because as much as their worlds have stopped, the Earth continues to turn and we have to find a way to go on. Blessings may seem small or hidden, but they are there. We just have to keep looking for them.

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Sun, Sun, Sun

Sunshine can make so much look and feel so much better. Yesterday was a snowy, cold, dark day. Today the sun is shining, the temperature is rising, and I hear thuds of snow and ice melting and falling off the roof. What better day for a long run? I headed out as the sun was warming the late morning and ran 8 miles – averaging 20 seconds a mile faster than last week when I was dragging so badly. Now, all is relative since I think today was a warmer day to run at a balmy 38 degrees fahrenheit.  Come April or May I will have a bit of a different perspective. But today I loved it.

Some workouts inspire me to write more than today. Some workouts and days just simply inspire me. Today is a good day. A day to take in the sunshine, feel great about my run, and spend time with people dear to me. A sunny Sunday in February,  it seems like years since it’s been here… and I say it’s all right.


Head Over Heels

I have always wanted to fall head over heels, but until that day comes I will celebrate that today is the day I successfully flipped head over heels – and pushed off the wall. Over and over again. I met the lifeguard at the pool this morning for an hour of flipping. For a good half hour he had me work on flipping straight over while holding float foam weights so my arms wouldn’t mess me up. I would kick into the flip, flip where I thought was the right spot and come over with my toes an inch from the wall. Finally I put the weights on the pool deck and swam into the flip, felt the wall and pushed off. I felt like I was soaring across the sky. I even did several laps and flipped at both ends. Then the lifeguard said “you have it down, you don’t need me anymore.”

I have written before about how crutches can be helpful, but have to be surrendered in order for advancement to take place. First I had to give up the foam weights, then I had to give up my guide. Once I did, I was able to prove to myself I could do it. This lesson translates to so many aspects of life. People and things are so alluring to lean on. Misery loves company – we can choose to wallow in our issues and complain to others who will confirm it is okay to be weak. Or we can seek out others who will encourage us to improve. Both can be crutches, that is the dangerous part. Even when we are guided to improve, we still have to let go and do it on our own. So now that I can flip head over heels I also know I have to stand on my own before I can fall.



Today marks a couple of milestones in my swimming. First, year to date I swam over 100,000 meters. After my second swim this afternoon I will have reached a total of 104,650 meters. That is 65 miles and it is only February 24th. Last year I crossed that mark in July. Wow. I don’t plan on swimming this much all year, only through April. The purpose of swimming such high volume of distance is to work on my stroke and strengthen my swim, both to improve my time. Which leads to my second milestone. My swim this morning was a total of 3,000 meters, the main set had a total of 15×100. It was broken up 3×100, 200 pull, 5×100, 200 pull, 7×100. The goal of the set was a steady pace swim. Each 100 should be done on what I would want my 100 splits to be on my 400 swim or longer plus 10 seconds for the sendoff time. I would like to maintain at least a 2:05, so I set my interval at 2:15. I did all 15 on 2:02-2:03. Big Yippee! On January 3rd I wrote I was able to complete 3 out of 6 100’s within 2:10 total sendoff time. I wasn’t even aiming for any specific time to come in on other than 2:09. Not only did I complete a total of 15 coming in under 2:05, the last 7 in a row were just as strong as the first three. Milestone two: I am faster. Sure is easier to believe I can get faster now that I see the results of my training.

I chose “Milestone” because it has several meanings to my training as well as my life today. First, the original meaning refers to the mile markers made of stone set up on a roadside indicating the distance traveled. I am at mile 65 in the pool. Another definition is an important event, for example the advancement in knowledge. I am learning so much about myself through this training experience. When put to the test, I am capable of doing so much more than I had ever imagined. This applies to not just my physical ability, but also my emotional resolve. And I am excited to see how much more I will achieve. Finally, another definition of milestone is a turning point. (many of you may know where I am going with this one…) There is a milestone I have not completely accomplished yet. Stress the word YET. Flip turns. I also flipped for a few minutes after my swim today. I was able to get close enough to the wall to push off. I am spending an hour tomorrow morning with the life guard just on flip turns. The day (next week hopefully) I am able to swim and flip turn will be a big turning point for me. A point that will lead me on to more milestones, like consistently breaking 2:00 on my 100’s. Marker, event, turning point – however defined, today is a good day. And I will rejoice and be glad.

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Change of Pace

I decided to change things up a bit today after the day I had yesterday. Change is good, it keeps me on my toes. I swam this morning and added a second speed workout in the week since I need to improve my pace. In searching for a good workout, I found one with a different perspective on speed training. The workout is on Go Swim. The past few Tuesdays I found by the last 4×100 on 2:15, I was actually swimming slower than my first set on 2:20 and this should have been my fastest set. I was struggling to come in on the shorter time and I was “ragged” as the workout describes. This workout actually has ascending sendoff times with the goal of swimming faster 100’s, however increasing every 2-3 sendoff time by 5 seconds, thus giving more rest to swim faster.

Since I am changing things up, this was a good start. I swam my standard 1,000 warm up first. Going into the main set I did a total of 18×100 – my first 3×100 I came in on 2:07 with a 2:20 sendoff, by 17 I did 2:00 and by 18 I came in on 1:59, both on a 2:50 send off. My reaction when I saw 1:59? Yippee! There is something to this. When I run speed intervals I recover the equal amount of time I run, so taking more time to recover in swimming makes sense.

Tonight is a weight workout and my training partner and I are upping the reps to 15 in two sets and increasing the weight a little for the upper body sets. I really didn’t feel much from Tuesday’s workout. (My training partner doesn’t read my blog often, so she is in for a surprise…) Once again, a change of pace.

All too often the first reaction to the word change is resistance. I know I can attest to it. A change in my approach to my workout appears to be changing my pace. Faster. I will put it to the test next week when I do my time trials. Wow, March is a week away. Time is flying by. I don’t want to miss a minute so a change of pace just may do me good.


You Can’t Always Get What You Want

I really miss my mother. Next month it will be 18 months since she died. She was my best friend, my champion, my rock and my confidant. No one loved me like her, I know I was the first thing on her mind when she woke (along with my sister and father), she encouraged me with my career and my sports, she accepted me just as I am – failures and successes. Today was a tough day and I thought of her unconditional love and I have to admit I cried a bit. So I did what any sensible woman would do when sad, I played the Rolling Stones.

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime you find, you get what you need.” Brilliant. My mamma taught me to not sulk in my woes. I have all I need, that is for sure, and plenty of the wants. I may not have some of the wants I really have my heart set on, but I won’t let it keep me down. This song set me straight and stopped the sadness. It also helped my run this evening. I ran late so I headed downstairs to my treadmill – iPod allowed. And I ran a great 4 mile tempo run to burn all of my frustration.  I swam this morning too, no surprise there. A good endurance swim totaling 2,500 meters followed by 15 minutes of flipping. That is one want I will get.

Today was a great example of what is, is. I am entitled to my moments, but it will not keep me down. Living in our sorrows is worse than eating a fried fatty diet and not exercising. It kills our soul. I have a healthy strong body and I want the same for my soul. So I will celebrate all that I need, I have. As well as many of the wants.


Learning and Pancakes

I think it is possible to learn something every day, and many of my fellow bloggers have taught me a great deal. Today I learned that while here in the States today is most often referred to as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, after reading several blogs I learned that many other countries refer to it as Shrove Tuesday or better yet, Pancake Day. Unfortunately I was not able to eat pancakes today in celebration, but I celebrate the knowledge I gained! And eating a few pancakes after my speed swim this morning would have been a nice way to refuel.

Today is Tuesday, speed set day. I also think I am going to add another speed day on Thursday and swim endurance sets on the other days. The good news is I was able to complete all of the speed workout within the desired sendoff times. My first 4×100 on 2:20 were strong coming in between 2:10 to 2:03, the “dreaded” 4×200 is not so dreaded anymore and I was able to come in between 4:20 and 4:12 in descending order on a 5:00 send off. Now the not so good news (trying to be positive here), the last 4×100 I completed on a 2:15 send off, but I still am struggling to come in on descending times. I was consistent at 2:07. Hence my addition of another speed workout in the week to build my endurance within speed workouts. My friend/coach mentioned he has another speed workout for me which I haven’t received yet. (Hint hint if you are reading…) All in all, it was a good workout adding another 3,000 meters total swimming.

This evening my training partner and I were back to lifting weights and now we are in the endurance phase which is two sets of 12-15 reps. Since we took last week off we opted for 12 reps. Tomorrow in the pool I will know how my lifting went, but for now I feel good. And I feel right – my fatigue is gone, I am in a good place, and feeling at peace. Another thing I am learning is to analyze my workouts and modify where I need improvement – adding another speed swim workout for example. Oh, and the count down is on, eight days left in February, six I will be in the pool swimming plus one I will dedicate to my most challenging lesson of all – flip turns. I set a goal of flipping during my swim warm up by the end of the month. You can bet your pancakes I will do it.


A Day Full of Treats

Three day weekends are such a treat. I was able to sleep in a bit today and meet my training partner at the pool at 9:00 instead of 6:15. Driving in while the sun is shining was also a treat. We had a good swim, 2,600 meters and I am feeling more myself again. Most of the main set was made up of 200’s, 100’s and a couple 300’s. I was consistent with my pace, and it is getting a little faster as time goes by. Both the warm up and warm down were 6 x 75 with a 20 rest between – that is where I really was happy with my time, I was coming in on 1:30 for most of the warm up and only slowed to about 1:35 for the warm down. Since we didn’t have to go to work, we took our time in the hot tub after our swim, the biggest treat of the morning.

This afternoon I ran 4 miles, also feeling myself again and loved the run. It was in the upper 30’s and the sun shined brightly, yet another treat of the day. I also tried out a new pair of running shoes – Brooks Pure Cadence. I have flat feet and have struggled with plantar fasciitis over the years. Trying minimalist shoes is something I have been cautious to do. The owner of the running store I have been frequenting suggested trying these. They have a little more support for flat feet, but are in the minimalist category. To adjust to the fit, he suggested easing into them. So I ran my first mile in them and switched to my regular running shoes for the last three miles. The shoes felt so good I did not want to take them off. It felt like memory foam hugging my feet, treat for my feet. I hope the shoes are able to keep me running without issues, time will tell.

I also tried something different on my run – I didn’t put on my head phones. I don’t run in the dark with them and when I do in the day light, I keep the volume low enough that I hear cars. Another blogger suggested yesterday that head phones block us from appreciating all that surrounds us when we run, so I gave running without music a try. I really enjoyed the sounds of birds, my feet hitting the pavement, and my breath as I ran. I also looked up more than down at the pavement in front of me. It is almost like having to look at the screen at a movie when you hear the sound track. Taking it all in, sight and sound, was the biggest treat of the afternoon. Appreciating the little things, all that we pass by daily, and not taking anything for granted is something I want to do more often. And like swimming or running faster, it will take practice and determination. But it will be a treat.