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

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Mid Year Already…

The end of June is here – in a blink of an eye it seems, half the year has passed. With today being a rest day, it is also a good time to review goals and look forward. For June I had two races, my first sprint triathlon of the season and a ten mile running race. For triathlon I wanted first and most importantly to see an improvement in my swim. My training this winter paid off and I swam faster than even I expected. In running I wanted to PR my ten mile race time and that I did. I do want to put more into running. I am giving myself a little slack since I am recovering from an ankle sprain, but it is not an excuse to slack off. One thing for sure, while I met my goals I also am aware of where I need improvement.

Looking toward July, I plan on ramping up my training, especially on the bike and run. Tomorrow I have my second triathlon this summer. It is a sprint with a 750 meter swim, 16 mile bike and a 5K run. I am hoping to finish under 1:45 – sprint races with a longer bike than standard are always hard to predict. I am most concerned with getting my transitions down tight. Last month I had to carry my bike into transition, that did not help my time. I will make sure my racing wheels are on nice and tight tonight…. My bike training in July will include a 50, 55, and 60 mile long ride. Hopefully it will lay a good foundation for my long race in September. For running I have decided to take the plunge and hire a coach. The trainer who did my cardio assessment last month will be working with me to develop both a running and eating plan to boost my metabolism. The actual coaching program is a metabolic running program. I am always open to try new things. What I have been doing hasn’t changed things much so it is time for a change.

I also am looking back over the past six months. I made the decision to start this blog on December 30, 2011. I haven’t missed a post yet. The process has brought me far more benefits than I ever imagined. Originally I wanted to try my hand at writing, being a numbers person. In addition to expressing myself, I have found my voice in motivation, met so many creative people from around the world who motivate me daily, and have created a journal of my journey. Here is to the next six months, but first let’s enjoy today. For that is what I know I have for certain and I don’t want to overlook the blessings before me.



I have a clock that has a wireless connection to a thermometer outside and projects the time and temperature on my ceiling in my bedroom. It comes in handy since my eye sight, while not bad, does require contacts or glasses. The projection is big enough to see and I know what to expect when I walk out first thing with the dogs. Sometimes I will glance up in the middle of the night and have to take a double take. For example in the winter when it is 2:17 AM and the temperature is 21.7 at the same time. This morning I couldn’t believe what I read on my ceiling – it was 4:45 AM and 77.7 degrees. Air conditioning and ceiling fans are wonderful blessings.

My swim this morning was outside, that was a given since it was so warm. Being in the heat and humidity of the indoor pool was too much to take. With the race on Sunday, my training partner and I decided to do a 2,000 meter swim that was not too taxing. Mostly 50 meter and 100 meter repeats with a 300 meter set thrown in for good measure. I swam well without pushing myself. It felt good to be outside in the water with the warm air, it was already in the mid 80’s when I finished. One thing I know I need to work on – timing my flip turns. I am able to flip very well. When to flip is the issue. I think I am still babying my ankle and fear of pushing too hard off of the wall has me flipping too soon. I am planning on taking time next week after lifting in the afternoon to get in the pool and work on drills and flipping. As in all things, practice is key to improving.

As I type this I can hear small rumbles of thunder in the distance. While it is still close to two hours before sunset, it is quite dark outside. Scattered storms are forecasted all weekend – I only hope the storms scatter away from where I will be racing on Sunday. Two years ago I did this same race and it rained then too. Fortunately it held off until I was on the run. If that is the worst that happens the year, I will be fine. The rain is needed right now with the dry, hot weather we are having. I tell myself every February when it is bitter cold to remember those days come summer and not complain about the heat. Honestly I don’t know which is worse – 95 degrees and high humidity or 9.5 degrees and snow. Either way, sun, rain, snow, heat, or cold – it is what it is. I can only hope to go through each day with ease, like the feather floating in the wind at the end of Forrest Gump.

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A Hot One

This morning I ran five miles and I am glad I got it in early. We are have quite a hot spell as well as a bit of a dry spell. It was already close to 70 degrees when I started my run. Great weather for a morning swim, but it could have been a bit cooler for my run. No worries, I told myself. Thursday runs are my easy pace runs. I was happy with my pace for an easy run and even happier that I kept my average heart rate around 135.  This was the longest I have run since the ten mile race and the hilliest in two weeks. My legs were a bit fatigued from my ride last night, but I made it through. I also remembered to bring my energy drink filled with electrolytes so I didn’t have a problem with cramping.

When I left work this evening I walked into a wall of heat outside. It is over 90 degrees and I am glad I don’t have a workout this evening. Since we are racing on Sunday, no weight lifting is scheduled for this evening. Thus begins the tapering process. Sunday looks to be a hot day too. So much goes in to training and racing – more than just the actually sports training. Nutrition, hydration, clothing, proper gear, the list goes on. My latest research has me wanting to try Nuun, a supplement tablet that dissolves in water with very little calories or carbs, just vitamins and electrolytes. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to pick some up and report back.

With the evening off from training I am taking advantage of my free time and spending it with a good friend I haven’t seen in a while. The last text she sent was telling me to bring my swim suit, they have a pool and we are going to take advantage of it to stay cool. Something I haven’t done in a while – played in a pool instead of swimming back and forth in it. A little reminder to enjoy all around me, even the things, like a pool, that I consider more of a fitness item rather than a leisure item. Summer is certainly here and I am going to enjoy it while it lasts – and with great friends. Life is good.


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Swim, Bike, Swim

My day today was framed by swimming. This morning I swam 3,000 meters outside in an endurance set with my training partner. Swimming outside is so invigorating. The air was cool enough to motivate me to swim as quickly as possible yet the water was warm enough I did not feel cold. The workout went well although I did feel my calves cramp up with 300 meters left in the swim. I used the pull buoy to “pull” me through the rest of the workout. I am sure I am not hydrating enough and with the heat this summer I should add electrolytes to the mix.

This afternoon was perfect for a bike ride – outside. I geared up and off I went. My ride was strong. Although I road the familiar hilly course in my neighborhood, I was much faster than I have been. The wind was mild, a helping factor. My pace was encouraging for my upcoming race this Sunday. It is not as hilly as my usually rides are, so that is an advantage for me. After my swim experience I should have drank far more water today because I felt a familiar feeling the last quarter of my ride – my calves threatening to cramp. This is not a confidence booster on the bike when it starts to happen. Fortunately I was able to stretch it out and finish the ride strong. In all I road 20 miles and averaged 16.3 miles per hour. The last time I road this same course was just a few weeks ago and I averaged 15.3 miles per hour. Definitely encouraging.

After my ride I hurried to shower and get dinner together so I could plop down in my favorite chair and turn on the TV. Before me was one of the most exciting sports to watch – the US Olympic Finals in Swimming. I am in awe of these athletes. The opening race was sure to be exciting and it did not disappoint. The 200 freestyle final with Michael Phelps up against Ryan Lochte started the evening. Last night in the semi-final Lochte edged out Phelps by 0.02 of a second. Tonight Phelps returned the favor and won by 0.05 of a second. Phelps swam the 200 freestyle in 1:45.70. Hey – that is my PR time too…. for swimming 100 meters. Wow – he swam twice as far in the same time. All of the swimmers were amazing. Missy Franklin, only 17 years old, set a new American record in the 100 meter backstroke swimming it in 58.85 – and smiling with the effervescence of the teenager she is. Again, amazing. The talent, determination, and desire to be the best is so motivating. I thought of the finals I watched the past two nights while I swam today and gave it all I was able. I can only imagine dynamic spirit the entire Olympic games will bring.  Only a few weeks until London. I can hardly wait.


The Valiant

“Cowards die many times before their deaths,
The valiant never taste of death but once.”
Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare

This quote was used today in another blog I follow and really struck me. I have known brave people in their career but fearful to attempt to run a 5K let alone a marathon. I have known amazing athletes who live in fear of failure in sport and in life. Living in fear, regardless of the fear, is not living. It is merely existing.

“The valiant” at first thought brings to mind successful, strong and mighty people. I beg to differ. That is the outward shell. It is Tuesday and I am finished lifting and sitting poolside at my fitness center. For the past half hour I have watched several swimmers go back and forth. One gentleman close to me was swimming freestyle with what is one of the longest slowest strokes I have ever seen. The guy next to him lapped him time and again. But he was doing it. He is not avoiding the pool because he is not fast. He didn’t stop once to catch his breath. He just kept going. Valiantly. Merriam-Webster defines valiant as “worthy, strong, courageous”. Strong is not necessarily measured by physical power, but emotional resolve. The Cowardly Lion was the King of the Forest and afraid of his shadow. Until he realized his courage was inside of him all along.

This morning I ran a 30 minute tempo run. I stayed within the pace ranges I set out along with the times for each pace. I averaged 10:29 minute miles. To some this may be slow and hardly “tempo”. A running equivalent to the swimmer this evening. To me, it was a workout I could not have done three years ago. But I did it today. I am only competing against myself to improve upon my own ability. The area I have improved the most in, however, is not in my physical strength but in my emotional resolve. I am worthy of calling myself a runner and triathlete. Strength and courage are forces I draw upon daily, by God’s grace, to face my physical challenges. Emotional ones sometimes too.

I don’t want to merely exist. I want to thrive. Living each day knowing I gave it my all, even if that is a rest day. I want to do it valiantly.

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Returning Routine

There are two things I really missed while I was away. This morning I enjoyed both of them and all before 7:00 AM. First is the sound of a Keurig brewing coffee. Forget Folgers, the best part of waking up for me is a Keurig k-cup. Second is the smell of chlorine. I enjoyed swimming in the clear ocean last week, but the salt water is less than tasty and nasty on my skin. Jumping in the pool this morning and swimming in a clear, tasteless pool with the scent of chlorine on my skin reminded me there is no place like home. And my neighborhood fitness center.

I missed quite a few people too, especially my friend and training partner. Meeting her this morning and swimming together was just what I needed as I am getting back into my routine. Sharing our stories is all part of the routine and we had so much to catch up on. Our swim was 2,500 meters. I was a little unsure how I would hold up. I am still not back to a regular diet. Making sure I eat enough to get by is one thing, to adequately fuel my training is another. To my surprise, I made it through the swim and was very happy with my pace. We did a familiar endurance set – 6 repeats of 150, 100 and 50 meters each. In all I was very consistent keeping to 2:00 to 2:04 per 100 meters average. I even came in under 2:00 by a second on one 100 set. So my yogurt and coffee this morning were enough to see me through…

Through out the day I still was not feeling hungry and chose to eat “soft” foods. Normally I have a salad with black beans at lunch. Not today – noodles were a safer choice. Even then, I was still feeling my system isn’t completely recovered. By the afternoon I was quite tired and decided if I was going to ride it was going to be on the trainer. Again. I set the training on “Pikes Peak” for a tough climb – my punishment for not riding outside. It was a good challenge and I got in  10 miles. I would have rather ridden longer, but I am listening to my body and I don’t want to push it. The past few days I am been eating at most half of what I would regularly eat and training at about 65% to 75% of what I would regularly do.

So even though I am home, I am not completely back to my regular routine. But it is still a wonderful place to be. I learned last week so much about adapting and flexibility, it is helping me now. Day by day it is improving and I am confident I will be strong and ready for my next triathlon race – this Sunday. I am applying flexibility this week, the rest and relax part I guess I am not as good at bringing home. So some things are returning to regular for me…


Back to “Normal”

Taking time off and going away helps me rest, relax, regroup and remember how much I love my bed! Sleeping at home last night was a delight. Especially with my little stomach issue. From what I can tell I did have a very mild form of food poisoning.

This morning I did sleep in a bit and was still feeling cramps in my stomach. I ate an energy bar for breakfast and wanted to get a ride in. My concerns with riding on the road were two – if I get sick while riding and I am miles from home it would not be good and with the hills in my neighborhood was I strong enough to ride them with very little nutrition over the past 36 hours. After hemming and hawing over it, as much as I prefer riding outside, I decided to ride on my trainer. I did chose a challenging course and road 18.5 miles. It felt good and I held up well. After a week off of riding I was happy to be “back in the saddle”.

As the day progressed I was able to eat a bit more. I am feeling like I am returning more to normal. As I have been writing on flexibility, I am also questioning “normal”. I remember thinking after my mother passed away that life was returning to a new normal. Sometimes events cause changes that alter forever what normal was once known to be. I know this week I will return to my regular training schedule which is normal for me. Five years ago – getting up at 4:30 in the morning and working out over 10 hours a week was far from normal. Three to five hours a week seemed very acceptable and what “normal” people do.

One thing is certain, things change. Sometimes by choice – my workout habits, and sometimes as a result of things that are out of my control. Sometimes choices are a result of something out of my control. As a result of my latest food malfunction I am beginning to do a bit of research in the realm of nutrition. This may impact how I chose my meal plan. Call it karma, coincidence, or Divine intervention – but in the past six months I have come across several people, unrelated, who have been impacted by a movie. The most recent nudge was just yesterday when I read a friend’s Facebook status that she just watched Forks over Knives. I have not seen it yet and plan to this week. I have not made a judgement yet since I haven’t seen it, but I do know that most of my food run ins have been with meats. So I am willing to explore and research. Change sometimes causes anxiety or trepidation, but I know I want to improve as much as I am able to make life all the more enjoyable. And enjoying every day is what makes life grand.


The Best Laid Plans….

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” – Robert Burns This quote came to mind when I thought of what to write today. I had hoped to get a run in this morning before packing and flying home. Unfortunately my plans did go a bit awry, and it began with a chicken sausage with lunch yesterday.

Nutrition is a very important component of my training. Just as I enjoy working out, I also enjoy eating healthy. Rest days from training are different than nutrition. If I eat a lot of fried food or high fat food, I feel lethargic and sluggish. Not fun. So even on vacation I make what I believe to be healthy choices. For lunch yesterday I opted for a salad and for my protein I cooked a chicken sausage. It was a better choice than several other meats we had in the refrigerator. I wish I had remembered what happened to me a year and a half ago when I had turkey sausage. And got food poisoning. That hit me on an air plane. Very not fun. Well yesterday by 7:00 in the evening I had a vaguely familiar feeling similar to the turkey sausage experience – like I had paste in my stomach. I will spare the details, but fortunately it was not as sever as my turkey sausage experience.

As a result, I have had very little to eat over the past 24 hours. This morning I did most of my packing sitting down. A run was out of the question, that was for sure. Being a planner, I had packed an electrolyte powder drink mix and sipped on that this morning. My greatest fears were put to ease as my first flight was uneventful. I have a long layover in Atlanta right now and I was able to eat a grilled cheese sandwich. My stomach is slowly coming back.

Planning is a part of me. I have training plans mapped out through the end of the year. I have already started thinking about what I may do as far as races go next year. Flexibility is becoming a part of me. Regardless of whether I welcome it or not. I sprained my ankle in April and got my first big taste of flexibility. Vacations are time off and I expect to encounter the need to adjust training during the week. This stomach issue has really thrown a wrench in my plan. I am planning to ride long tomorrow, when I do may have to change. Getting enough sleep, fuel and hydration is going to dictate when I ride. Unexpected instances just can not be planned. Hence the term “unexpected”. But that is a part of life. Planning is good to do, it gives us structure. Flexibility, I am learning, is essential. Just as in stretching to be physically flexible, mental and situational flexibility will help me bend so I don’t break. So when things do go awry, I will still land on my feet. Even when my stomach doesn’t like it.

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Spice It Up

Today was what ever summer vacation day should be – hot and sunny. I was able to run three good miles in the heat and humidity. When I returned I was almost as wet as I was yesterday when I got caught in the rain. Boy did it feel good. Afterward I jumped in the ocean and swam what I think was 750 meters. The water is so clear and the waves were calm, a great combination. The rest of the day we spent sitting in the sun, playing in the water, reading, chatting, and just enjoying the day. For my niece and me this is our last full day before we fly back tomorrow afternoon. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the day than the carefree way we did.

I know I have benefitted from this week off – no work and a cut back in training. A good time to rejuvenate both mentally and physically. The best sign to me is that I am perfectly content in a state of just being today. No worries, no stresses, just enjoying the moment. It is such a rare occurrence when I don’t have to be some where, do something, or be accountable to or for someone. Spending time this week with my 13 year old nephew brings back memories of the carefree times of childhood. He is such a flexible guy and goes with the flow. My niece, now an adult, is defining herself and her responsibilities. She has left the carefree childhood era but is determined to not be controlled by the rat race so many adults face. If anyone can buck it, she sure can.

Adults have so much to teach the younger generations. One lesson also should be that we do not know it all and can learn from the younger generation as well. Time is not infinite and we only have so many days. Enjoying them, as well as being responsible, is something we never stop learning to do. The carefree life on vacation, questioning why something is always done one way, and being flexible all add to the spice of life. And everything is better with some flavor. I don’t want to live a bland life – hot sauce and cajun spices come in handy sometimes.

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Rain Drops and Sunshine

I find it extra special when I go on vacation and not only is the weather wonderful but it is raining at home. Unfortunately today the reverse was true. When I woke the rain was just finishing and the sky was brightening so I changed to get a run in. I figured out a mile loop in the safe neighborhood and planned to run it several times. By 7:00 it was already 80 and very humid, not a problem I tell myself. Good practice for the July and August triathlons I have scheduled. Half way through my run the sky darkened and the rain started. It was coming down hard and felt great. I wasn’t planning a tempo run today, but the rain did quicken my pace. So I got both a race preparation run and a tempo run in together.

Running in the rain is not a problem for me. Swimming in the ocean – I don’t think so. I am not familiar with the current here, so I opted not to swim today. Next best thing – go to town and shop in the Straw Market. I am good at dickering and was able to pick up a few choice items at a good price. But I must say the best part of the rainy afternoon shopping was being able to spend some time with my niece. She is 21 now and a fine young lady. Not only do I love her, I really like her. A big bonus when it comes to family.

The skies have finally cleared and the sun has come out. As I sit here in the sun I can hear birds singing and the gentle rhythm of the waves hitting the shore. Flexibility, going with the flow, relaxing and enjoying – all things this day has called for. The morning left us thinking we were going to have a gloomy day. But the trend is not always going to last, good or bad. My training has taken more of a vacation than I had planned, but the quality time I have gained with those dear to me is what seizing the day is all about. All good to me, rain or shine.