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

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Looking Ahead

This morning I road on a stationary bike at my gym. Due to a few schedule issues I had to rearrange a few workouts this week. One thing for sure, that bike has more challenging programs than mine at home. I road for 45 minutes and got in 13.4 miles for an average of  17.9 mph. I worked it too – my average heart rate was what my max heart rate was at home. I felt good – I know I got a good workout in. After I had time to meet my training partner in the pool area for hot tub time and ankle exercises.

During the day I contacted my running friend who noticed my unofficial race time on Saturday. I have seen good improvement in the pool and I want to really improve my run now too. Time to bring out my mantra Believe – because he said I should be able to pick up my pace by at least a minute to a minute and a half per mile. The biggest hindrance is me – I have a hard time believing I can do it. We texted for a while determining a training plan. I discover yet another 10 mile race – in June. So I am going to focus a bit more on running while I am in triathlon season. June 10th is my first triathlon – a sprint distance. The next week on June 17th is a 10 mile race that should be a flat course along the towpath I have written about before. My ankle is feeling good, not 100 percent yet, but with the running brace I am running my regular stride. So this evening I ran on my treadmill my first “new” run – 4 miles at my easy pace but I did pick it up. I averaged 10:44 per mile and kept my heart rate around 141. It was a good run – my ankle felt fine and I kept thinking if I was running with someone was I able to keep a conversation going. I could, maybe not really talkative, but coherent.

So I am looking ahead. This past month was challenging. My goals for April were to improve my swim pace, add cycling and PR my 10 mile race. My swim is consistent, I am cycling, and I didn’t even get to race. So I guess that is a push, win, and miss. I think my swim has improved a bit, I certainly swam the most this month. My injury took a lot of energy from me and contributed to my swim performance. So now May will be here tomorrow. I always like to set goals, and that has not not changed. My primary focus is on improving my running pace.  I have a half marathon in three weeks, my goal there is to finish between my PR and my time last year at this race, which puts me between 2:19 and 2:30. In cycling I want to ride three times a week to get back in my cycling mode for triathlon season. In the pool I will be swimming three times a week and would like to average 8,000 to 9,000 meters a week. That covers the three sport… Oh one more goal – avoid any more injuries.

I know I can plan and set goals all day. What happens is going to happen, I have learned that the hard way.  There have been bumps in the road along with some smooth sailing. I can only make the best of each day and be grateful to have each day. So I am looking ahead, but not too far, because I want to enjoy the journey. Regardless of what may come my way.


Getting Stronger

I woke up this morning with a familiar pain I actually liked. My legs were aching just a bit, the feeling I get the next day after I race and run hard. It had been two weeks since I had run over 3 miles and the feeling was a reminder that I am getting back to my routine. With only three weeks until my half marathon, I have some ground to cover. Literally. I have already run two 12 mile long runs in training, so if I can get 11 in next weekend and then a 12 miler, I should be well prepared. So far my ankle is going along with the plan…

This morning I did a modified brick workout. I road on my stationary bike for 45 minutes and then ran a mile on my treadmill. That was hard because it was beautiful outside and I would much have preferred to be outside. I am not ready to get my ankle on the road for a bike ride just yet. But soon, I can feel it. My mile run felt good, I increased my pace on the treadmill to an 11 minute mile. After yesterday’s run, I have more confidence in my recovery process.

The past two weeks I have learned just how much change is something I can always count on. As much as I plan and prepare, what happens is going to happen. Even if it is not on the schedule. The last thing I planned for when I went for a three mile run two weeks ago was to twist my ankle on a crack in the road. I have gained an even greater appreciation for triathlon, training, and being flexible. I don’t ever want to take for granted that I am able to participate in such a dynamic sport. Even though my running was put on hold for a bit, I was able to swim the entire time and get a few stationary cycle rides in. Being able to do that kept my fitness level up as well as my sanity. The pain in my legs this morning reminded me that I am coming back. Having to workout inside today was a reminder that I am not all the way back. Being flexible – far beyond yoga – is essential to maintaining balance and peace. Just like yoga calms the mind while flexing the body, being flexible in my situation kept me going. Modifications had to be made, but it won’t last forever. I have written on this topic before – to quote Nietzsche, Kane West, and now Kelly Clarkson “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” This was a set back, but I will be stronger. And maybe even run that 10 mile race one day in the time I accidentally got clocked at yesterday.


To Tell the Truth

I was good today and didn’t race. And I was honest. While it was cold, the rain stayed away this morning. I met my training partner and her boyfriend at the race location and we went together to get our race bibs. I made sure to put my bib in my backpack and I gave it to my friend’s boyfriend to hold. The timing chip is on the back of the bib and I didn’t want to get clocked since I wasn’t racing. The plan was for me to run out two miles turn back and meet her boyfriend where the 7.5 mile mark was, cheer my friend on and then hoof it to the finish to cheer her in.

My run was great. Fabulous actually. No pain, the brace gave very good support, and I ran a very good pace for me. By the time I met up with her boyfriend I had run 3.6 miles at an average pace of 10:10. It was exhilarating and I didn’t feel like I pushed it at all. I also made it back before the lead runner. It was fun to see all of the runners pass by. My friend came by right on target not only for a PR but her stretch goal pace. Once she passed we took the short cut back to the finish. We walked around the finish area and waited for my training partner. I remember seeing another friend of mine approaching the finish as we got near. The race clock was at 1:24 and I was so happy for her, I knew it was a big PR. Soon my training partner came in. She finished strong with a PR of 1:30. Exactly what her stretch goal was. In the finish area I saw another girlfriend who won our age group with a PR of 1:10. Just amazing. While I didn’t race, I was thrilled for my friends. Seeing their victories inspired me for my next race.

So, I behaved and didn’t race. Now to explain my honesty. The race results were posted online quickly. A friend of mine sent me a text and told me I placed 16th in my age group with a time of 1:25. He knew I didn’t race today and was teasing me about it. Apparently when I walked past the finish area my bib in my backpack was close enough to the timing pad it got clock in! I had hoped to run the ten mile race in 1:42, so anyone who knows me knows I didn’t run that fast. I have already emailed and left a message with the race organizers explaining the error and asked to delete me from the results. I want to rightfully earn my race times.

Today was a good day for me. I am gaining more confidence in being able to resume my running plan. My pace hasn’t suffered with my lack of training. But best of all I am determined to come back and set a PR – actually running and earning my finish time.


Will Power

It is a good thing it is going to be in the mid 30’s and rainy tomorrow morning. Because if it turns out to be a sunny day, it will be nearly impossible to keep me from running the 10 mile race. James Brown keeps singing in my head “I feel good.” That is how I felt this morning during and after my swim, I did 2,800 meters, the most since I sprained my ankle. The workout was three pyramids, which is a combination of speed and endurance. For the warm up, recoveries and cool down I flip turned, I am still cautious about the main set. After swimming there was time to do my ankle exercises in the hot tub. My ankle feels good. There is still a little swelling and tenderness, but I am struggling with being almost back and wanting to race tomorrow. And there is a voice in my head besides James Brown, the voice is telling me to do this right and take it easy. I like James Brown. The voice is like a parent. I know the wisdom is correct, I just want to do what the crowd is doing. Running the race. The weather is my biggest deterrent, I will still get four to five miles in tomorrow, but I will also be able to get under shelter and wear warm clothes while I wait for my friend to finish.

Sometimes will power is easy and other times it is a power of wills – what is best versus what I want. I could justify running the race by claiming I am seizing the day, living (running) in the moment. I only have today, claim it. Then there is the wise view – while only today is a sure thing, probability favors a tomorrow. Less than a month from now on May 20th I plan on running the Cleveland Half Marathon. Then triathlon season begins. What a pooper it would be to cause more damage tomorrow preventing me from running this summer – after all of the time I have put in swimming this year. I really don’t want a pooper.

I also have hopes this year to PR all of my race distances. Half marathon and five mile distances I have PR’d this year. The marathon is a possibility in December and there will be several 5K races this fall to make a PR attempt. I have the sprint and half iron triathlon opportunities this summer and I am considering an Olympic distance the first weekend in August. Finding a 10 mile race is not easy. But the power of the Internet has not failed me today. The second weekend in August there is a race close by called the Perfect 10-Miler. The distance works well in my training plan, so it is perfect. The course is a bit more challenging than tomorrow’s race, but not by much. So the voice wins out over James Brown. Will power triumphs over the power of my will. I won’t run the entire race tomorrow. I think…



Today I learned quite a bit about my body. I started the day with a 7:00 appointment for a biometric screening. My employer sponsored it and I get $350 toward my HSA, so I was more than willing to participate. I first had my finger pricked and blood drawn to get my cholesterol, triglyceride and glucose readings, then my blood pressure taken ( after a blood draw?) finally my weight and height. My readings were all good. By the numbers: blood pressure 124/56, total cholesterol 169, HDL (good cholesterol) 96, LDL (bad cholesterol) 64, triglycerides 47, glucose 79, height 5’9″, and BMI 19. A lady never reveals her weight, but from my BMI let’s say my training partner has it right – I’m a bean pole with muscles. Every calculation I have done at this weight says my BMI is 20.5, the normal range is 18.5 to 24.9. Either way I am normal…

I got to the pool before 8:00 with the plan to swim at least 2,500 meters. During my swim, another endurance set, I learned even more about my body. While I may have muscles, lift weight twice a week and swim anywhere from 11,000 to 15,000 meters a week, I still have arm muscles that were not being used enough. Until I started using an elliptical with moving arm handles. As I was swimming I noticed after 1,400 meters my arms were really fatigued. It took me 200 meters more to figure out it was the elliptical workout from last night. Huh. So I made it a 2,000 meter swim. That gave me extra hot tub time to work on my ankle exercises, which is continuing to improve, so I was pleased.

Beyond my physical knowledge, I also learned a bit more about myself. Yesterday I wrote about joy in the day. Today a very wise person gave me a wonderful description of joy. Joy is knowing you are going to be alright despite the circumstances. That comes from within, a state of mind. Happiness is a feeling, joy is a state of being. My biometrics are good, I am happy. I felt a sense of joy before I went for the test. The results could have been bad and it would have impacted my feelings but not my joy. I am experiencing a few set backs in my training and I am missing a race I had my heart set on. Sure I am disappointed and frustrated, but I will not let it rob me of my joy. And there are a few other situations on my mind that impact my mood, but not my joy. Everyday events happen to impact my mood and feelings. Some good, some not. Regardless, I am going to be alright – despite my circumstances.


Joy in the Day

I am making progress. That makes me joyful. So it is a good day. This morning I swam 2,500 meters and did flip turns for my 800 meter warm up. It felt good to flip and my pace is improving. It was an endurance set and I decided not to flip in the main set. Since I am making progress, forward progress, I didn’t want to do something to set me back. Over all I felt very good with my swim. It will be at least another week before I attempt a speed workout in the pool. I tend to kick harder in speed sets, my ankle is still a bit tender to tackle it. After my swim I made it to the hot tub for a few minutes to do my ankle alphabet. I tend to talk with my hands when I am excited – since my workout went well, I was in a good mood. As I did my alphabet rotations I found myself talking to my training partner and spelling the letters out with my hand too. We got a laugh out of it.

The weather today was a lovely Spring day with close to 60 degree temperatures and sunshine. A perfect day to run outside. Alas, I was happy enough to be running a bit, even if it would be on a treadmill in my basement. So I took a look at the sunshine and headed downstairs. First a half hour on the elliptical, it is a good workout to get the motion of running and warm up my body. Then I went to my treadmill and was able to run a mile. It still feels fabulous. I kept the pace slow, but I was able to complete the mile in under 12 minutes. The ankle brace I run in stabilizes my ankle very well. I thought it would be bulky and awkward, but I am doing okay with it. Emerging from my basement, I had a smile on my face.

Now that I have a few days of running in, I also know that racing the 10 mile race on Saturday is not wise. I am disappointed, the course is completely flat the first 9 miles then down hill and flat again the last mile. Perfect to run a personal best time. There is a saying here in Cleveland when it comes to professional sports and now applies to me: “There is always next year.” I do have a plan though. My training partner is racing and she really has the ability to set a personal best time. I want to be there to see her finish, which is rare since she is faster. So I plan to start the race in the back and run lightly out two miles, turn around and come back which will put me right at the 7.5 mile point of the race. I will take a break and wait for her to come by, cheer her on and then take the short cut back to the finish line about a mile away. If all goes as planned I will have run 5 miles. Possibly walked a portion of it. We shall see.

Planning is a big part of my training. My training partner reminded me I race because I train. I don’t train because I race. I enjoy the benefits of training and testing my ability in races. And like so much in life, I am experiencing that things do not always go as planned. My stumble created a detour in my plan, now I am making modifications and still participating in events that are important to me. It may not be my time to set a PR on my 10 mile race, but the joy of watching my friend race and hopefully PR will be an exhilarating experience. That is what it is all about, finding the joy in each day.



Runner’s High

The thrill I got from running the mere half mile last night lasted all day today. I felt great when I woke up, my ankle is continuing to improve and I was energized to swim. I did not want to push it – literally – so I was careful swimming when I pushed off the wall. My swim was 2,500 meters in an endurance set. I am noticing my stamina is returning too. While I am anxious to go back to flip turns, I am more cautious to not re-injure my ankle.  That little set back is okay, I ran last night! That was my answer, by the way, when anyone asked my how I am today. I ran last night!

This evening I lifted weights and felt good. We are in the chisel stage of the periodization. I am noticing more definition without bulk. Bulk is not something I have to worry about with my skinny arms. As my training partner describes me – I am a bean poll with muscles. There are worse things. Did I mention I ran last night?!

Some people may never understand the joy a runner gets from the run. There are activities, sports (golf), and past times I will never understand the joy in. All I can say is the euphoria of a good run – be it half mile, half marathon, or a hundred miles – is something I hope I never have to part from for long. I have in the past from injuries, but when push comes to shove, nothing beats the exhilaration, the elimination of stress, and the pure freedom of a run. Why do I do it? Because I can and I feel the joy. Eric Liddell really had it right…


Flock of Seagulls

This morning I swam. It was a good swim and I started with gently pushing off the wall with both feet as I swam my warm up. It went well, so when I pulled I incorporated flip turns. Oh how I missed them and it was fun to flip. I was careful to not push hard off the wall. The buoyancy of the pull buoy really helped. Maybe too much because when I went into my main set I found myself flipping short of the wall in fear I would get too close and push off too hard. So about half way through my swim I went back to pushing off the wall, but used both feet. The plan was to swim 2,500 meters. At 2,100 meters I pushed a bit harder than I should and I felt a shock of pain go up my leg. At that point I decided to pull for a cool down and did a total of 2,200 meters.

I made it to the hot tub to soak it, I was hurting a bit. Much to my happiness my training partner was already in the hot tub talking to a fellow triathlete AND orthopedic surgeon. I was so happy to see him. We talked about my injury, he took a look at it, and knowing the level of training I do – he said go back gently but I should be running outside on it after two weeks. Today is one week, so hopefully one more week to go. When I got home this afternoon my ankle brace had arrived. I ordered a very sturdy “level three” support that laces half way up my calf and literally immobilizes my ankle. It is thin with strong stays supporting the sides. I laced it up and headed down to my elliptical. I decided to give it 15 minutes and see how I felt. It was great. The brace did the job: my ankle did not ache at all and the brace was not rubbing. I was able to wear my running shoes and it fit in fine.

Then I took a look to my left when I finished and this lovely piece of equipment I used to have a love/hate relationship all of a sudden looked very attractive. It was calling me. As if it was saying it doesn’t know anyone quite like me with my auburn hair and tawny eyes (okay they are dark brown)… And the aurora borealis is peaking this year… It was all coming into view… So I gently walked to my treadmill. And I ran. And it was fabulous.

I only ran a half mile and I ran at a very slow pace. But it was better than chocolate. Better than fine wine. I will stop there. But it was fabulous. I will slowly add distance as my body allows. Today was a good day. I won’t push it. I am a happy girl.


Joys of a Child

Remember the joy of a child successfully spelling the alphabet for the first time? Well that is how I felt today when I was able to spell out the alphabet with circular motions using my sprained ankle while soaking in the hot tub after my swim this morning. All done without pain. I had little shouts of joy front the inside. My swim this morning was 2,200 meters. I have resolved to allowing my body to tell me how far I am going to swim. Deep down I wanted to get in 3,000, and I believe I had the energy to do it. I did not expect my good leg to cramp up to the point where I couldn’t even swim with a pull buoy. Dehydration was a factor I am sure, along with my right leg being the favored leg for the past week. So the little motion exercises added a bit of sunshine to my workout. Which helped considering it has be dark, damp and in the low 40’s today.

This afternoon I tried out my stationary bike I have in my basement. I road for 30 minutes and felt good. My ankle was in a brace and I made sure to pedal with balanced weight on each leg. I just may be able to get in a spin class or two this week. Again, being able to ride for a little bit did so much more than just energize my body. It energized my spirits. I was reasonable and did not push it with a long ride, even though I really wanted to go for an hour. So I am balanced practicality with testing my abilities to see how I am progressing. The smiling child in me is excited to swim in the morning now, I think I may be able to flip turn and gently push off the wall.

Today is my niece’s 21st birthday, it seems like just a few years ago she was a young girl and now she is a grown, very independent young lady. She always has had an adventurous and playful spirit and that is something I hope she never outgrows. The joys a child experiences lights up from the inside. I take my training seriously, but I don’t ever want to lose the inner child that is having fun. Life is too short and I want to experience the fun that comes along with every moment. I want my inner child to shine through from the inside.


Natural Beauty

“No synonym for God is so perfect as Beauty. Whether as seen carving the lines of the mountains with glaciers, or gathering matter into stars, or planning the movements of water, or gardening – still all is Beauty!” – John Muir

The above picture is from my Sierra Club Calendar for April. I have been getting the calendar for my office for the past six years. Each month reveals a beautiful picture taken from one of the US National Parks. The Sierra Club was founded by John Muir “to make the mountains glad.”. A naturalist, conservationist, and explorer, John Muir is known as the father of our National Parks and influenced Theodore Roosevelt to establish Yosemite National Park. I thought I would share a bit today about John Muir since my calendar noted that today is his birthday, his 174th birthday in fact.

I have mentioned before that being in nature inspires me, running, cycling or limping along. Last week I shared pictures from my run through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I sometimes take for granted the convenience and beauty of the parks. If it weren’t for the efforts of Muir and others, we wouldn’t have so many beautiful places to take in all nature has to offer. Taking time to appreciate not just nature and it’s beauty, but also those that care enough to establish, maintain, and expand the parks is important.

Inspiration comes in many forms. A glimpse at the sky, a mountain scape, a person’s efforts, or a beautiful sunset are just a few. What matters is that there is so much more beyond ourselves, our concerns, and our priorities. Taking time to appreciate the natural beauty around us inspires, humbles, and motivates. Even when surrounded by raindrops and dark clouds, there is a rainbow waiting.