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

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Endings and Beginnings

Still riding high on such a great experience yesterday, this morning I was up by 7:30 AM to get to the pool and swim. My legs are sore today, a sign I gave all I had in the race yesterday. But my legs were not sore enough to keep me from swimming. I really haven’t had a good swim since the Thursday before I left for vacation. After checking in with a few friends, I knew I would be in good company today so I made it to the pool a little after 9:00 and swam 2,000 meters. One friend was already there and the pool was full, so I shared a lane with her. It felt so good to swim again, I am working right now on cleaning up my flip turns. I made sure to flip during warm up, main set, and cool down. It was a good endurance workout that kept me going with very limited breaks between sets.

Even though I spent most of last week at a spa, I could not resist spending time in the hot tub after my swim. Feeling the warm water on my legs helped to loosen them up while I stretched. I took my time getting dressed too. This is my last official day of vacation, I am going take advantage of it. Another friend made it later and she and I got to catch up before I left. Catching up with friends I haven’t seen for a few weeks was good to ease myself back into my regular routine. Although, with marathon training in full bloom, my routine has completely changed. As I have said, change is good, and so far I am enjoying it. On my way home from the gym I did something I very rarely do on weekends – I stopped in my office to go through mail, email, and organize things. Now I feel ready for the week to come with no surprises when I walk in on Monday.

Along with my vacation ending so does September. My goals for September were to do well in the half iron race as well as the half marathon. Additionally I planned on focusing on my marathon training while still swimming a few times a week. Well, without lamenting again the results of my half iron triathlon, I will say that I did well in that I finished the race despite some painful stomach issues. My swim, which I have worked so hard on all year, was very good. My training paid off. My transition times improved too. As time has passed, I am satisfied with the experience and enjoyed the time I spent with friends at the race too. My half marathon yesterday went well, so much so that I registered today for the Akron half marathon next year. Hey, when I spot a good thing, I stay with it. I am full in to my marathon training and see the benefits paying off. Swimming – I have done twice a week as planned.

So now October begins tomorrow. Wow – fourth quarter already. This Sunday I am running a 10K race on the towpath. While I am running 12 miles easy the day before, I think I have it in me to do well. My goal is anything under an hour. I also am planning a 5K race at the end of the month. This has been my PR 5K race the past two years. It would be nice to have a three-peat. As for training – I have my October running plan all lined up and I am looking forward to it. Additionally I am adding pilates once a week and a resistance workout my trainer designed for me once a week. I know I can swim twice a week, possibly three times now, and I am adding spinning. After going over with my trainer the days I would like to spin, she thinks it is worth a try spinning twice a week. If my legs are fatigued, then I will cut back to once a week. Never a dull moment indeed.

The end of vacation, the end of a month, the end of a quarter… also the beginning of a dynamic and changed training plan, a new month, a new quarter. How true it is that the one thing that stays the same is that things will change. Being a type A person who plans things out, I am learning to embrace the changes around me. What does not have to change is who I am – my values, my character, the principles I live by – all things that equip me and surround me as events go on around me. It is what defines me. All too often we define who we are by what we do – our profession, our family roles, our activities and sports. Those are roles in our lives that change with time. Strip those away and inside is who we are. Something to ponder in this ever changing world.


Akron Road Runner Marathon and Half

My day began with my alarm going off at 3:00 AM – even for me that is early. I thought of my friends on the west coast who were probably just going to bed and here I am getting up to get ready for my race. I had a smoothie for breakfast along with my coffee – keeping full and fueling on foods that would agree with my stomach was my goal today. I met my trainer at 5:00 and we drove to Akron for the race. I must say, The Akron Marathon is the best organized running race I have participated in. From the little details to the big, they had it covered. While the start and finish were in the heart of downtown Akron, there were several parking garages open and FREE to park. The lines of port-o-potties were far longer than the lines of people waiting, briefly, to use them. The corals for starting times were very well organized and the start went off with fireworks and cheering crowds. This race was a combination of half marathon, full marathon, and relay marathon teams. In fact it boasts the largest number of relay teams for a marathon.

The day was perfect for running. The sun came up and out by 7:30, the race started at 7:00 so it was cool to watch the skies brighten, the temperature at the start was 45 degrees and probably around 55 by the finish. The course is challenging. ┬áThe lead sponsor for the race is Time Warner and the race is called the Akron Road Runner Race – a play on the internet area of Time Warner and the Looney Tunes Road Runner. The entire route is marked with a bright blue line – as if the Road Runner himself sped along and left his mark. The first six miles are relatively flat, but from six through ten it gained quite a bit of elevation and of course there was a nice incline around mile twelve before the downhill finish. The second half of the marathon is even more challenging. Growing up in Akron, I am all too familiar with the terrain the runners were turning in to when the half marathon split from the full marathon just before mile 11. The finish area is in the Akron Aeros ballpark, a double A affiliate to the Cleveland Indians (with a much better winning record as well…). Again – an incredibly well organized area. Finishers did not have far to go to get their medals, finishers caps, and the warming mylar blankets before being ushered into the food tent and then to gear bag pick up.

My experience was equally pleasing. I did not eat any gels but rather ate a Honey Stinger Waffle right before the start and half of one at mile 9.5. I brought my running bottle and hand carry case filled with Accelerade – all things I have trained with. My stomach held up very well. My legs did too, but the course did present some challenges for me. In February I set a personal best in the half marathon with a 2:19:19 in Jacksonville, FL. The course was much flatter than today’s race. The total elevation gain in Florida totaled 466 feet, today it was 2,175. Today I finished in 2:25:59 (yeah! I wanted 2:25 or better, got it by a second). I was right on pace for my marathon goal time. I compared today’s race mile for mile with the race in February. Garmin Connect breaks down the details so well. The interesting thing is mile for mile the first six miles I ran the same pace give or take a few seconds. It was just past mile six that the pace comparison began to diverge, just when the elevation picked up today. Seeing the details was encouraging for me. It was a technical course and I am focusing on training for CIM – a flat to downhill course. I looked at my results of half marathons over the years. I have run 11 races since 1999 and this was my fourth fastest. In fact all four of the fastest I have run with in less than two years. To be faster in my mid 40’s than my early 30’s is such motivation to keep at it.

My trainer did very well – she place second woman overall in the half marathon. I was so happy for her, she is very humble of her success. When I saw her, the first thing she said was she saw me finish and I looked strong. I had to ask how she did! Several of my friends participated in the half and relay, the energy was in the air, they all did well. I even ran into a guy I haven’t seen since high school who had run the race. It was so good to catch up now that we are officially “grown ups”. All in all it was a great day. I napped in the sun in the afternoon before getting up and about among civilization. My legs feel sore from the run, a sign I gave all I had, but it is a good sore. So now I end the day feeling happy and content. A long, yet wonderful day.

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That Pre-Race Feeling

Pre-race nerves are something that does not go away regardless of how many races I have run. I actually thought that my first race after triathlon season wouldn’t be too bad. There are no fears of drowning, getting a flat tire, or crashing my bike. All I have to do is run. So much for that thought. Today by 4:00 in the afternoon I felt myself start to tighten up and my stomach start to flutter. At first I thought it was just emotions of nostalgia. My home town is Akron, Ohio and the race winds through many areas I am so familiar with. Within a half hour I knew it was race nerves, my mind was wandering to thoughts of what to wear, how to prepare for the weather (cool enough for short sleeves or wear a tank?) and I was strategizing on how to get everything done and be in bed early tonight.

My day did not start off with a concern at all, thankfully. I slept in and took my time getting dressed. I drove down to the expo to pick up my race packet and peruse the displays. In the end I did what I always do at local race expos – check out what all of the vendors have and then go to my running store’s tent (Fleet Feet) and buy things there. Since I was so close, I stopped in to visit with my dad too. The marathon course crosses the street I grew up on and where he lives to this day. When I ran the full marathon in 2003, my parents were at the corner cheering me on. I didn’t think to tell them not to expect a chipper, fresh runner – it is just past the mile 20 marker. My mother wanted to know if I wanted to go home and rest. With six miles to go, I told her to hop in the car and meet me at the finish, no way was I stopping. That memory crept up today while I was visiting my dad, right about when my pre-race nerves kicked in.

With this race being (only!) a half marathon and I am at home, I can only imagine what I will be dealing with in December when I fly across the country to run a full marathon. But for now, nerves included, I enjoyed today. Going to my hometown, seeing some of my old stomping grounds, spending time with my dad – all part of my roots. And in order to grow – in wisdom, strength, and confidence – strong roots are very helpful. Now to put all of my training to the test and show Akron what I’ve got…


A Detour to Drive 56 Extra Miles

This morning I made it outside for a twenty minute run before breakfast. It was so invigorating. The ground was damp from the rain over night, but the skies had cleared and the temperature was just under 60 degrees. Perfect for a quick easy run – my last run before the half marathon on Saturday. After breakfast I loaded up my car and headed out – to Syracuse, NY…

The drive to Syracuse from my home is just over six hours, but from the resort it was about 2 hours and 45 minutes. Since I was relatively close, I decided to make the drive up to Jamesville Beach Park, the venue for Ironman 70.3 Syracuse on June 23, 2013. Literally ever since I woke up from my nap the afternoon of my Rev3 half iron distance triathlon I have been looking for my next 70.3 triathlon. I was so disappointed with how the bike and run went that I have been looking for a sort of retribution. I know I have the ability to have done much better if it weren’t for the digestive issues. When I found the Syracuse race I wanted to study the bike course before committing to the race. The elevation charts show the first 11.5 miles climbing 1,100 feet. If I am able to conquer that, the next 44.5 miles are pretty darn close to down hill.

So after I arrived at the park today, I took a few pictures of the reservoir where the 1.2 mile swim is held, set up my video camera on a suction mount in my car and took a 56 mile drive. After seeing (and filming) the course, I know I can do this. Yes, there were several steep hills, but not nearly as sever as I had imagined. I live in a very hilly area and the hills I ride are as steep if not steeper. My task now in training is to get stronger on the hills. The race is nine months away, I plan on adding a spin class once a week now and after the marathon in December I will go into full triathlon training – with six months to prepare. ┬áThe scenery for the ride is absolutely beautiful. I am sure it will be lovely in June, but the leaves today were not quite peaking for their autumn displace. The colors were vibrant and the sun was shining. All the more motivation to come back in June and ride the country roads.

I made it back home this evening after an uneventful drive home. The New York throughway on I90 is not anywhere as scenic as the drive on I80 through Pennsylvania, but there was less construction and traffic. A long day with most of it spent driving, but a good day. I am excited about my race this weekend, my marathon training is in full gear, and now I have a goal to train for through the winter and in to spring. Always something… I spent the time driving in thought processing my vacation and the wonderful rest I was able to get, organized my thoughts for the coming weekend, and considered all I have planned for October. The month will be changing once again, as well as the quarter ending. The adage “where does the time go?” is such a good question. But today I covered a lot of ground, literally – running and driving – and taking in the beauty of the day. Now I am about to go to sleep and my dogs are lounging on my bed. All is back to normal and things feel right. Yet another day for which to be grateful.


What’s a Little Rain?

Even a wonderful vacation can have a few clouds. All day clouds have lingered and it has rained lightly off and on. Despite what my fellow blogger Iowatribob may be hoping, I still had a fabulous day. The scenery here is so beautiful, gray skies do not seem to interfere with autumn foliage. My day started with a very easy run for 30 minutes staying in zone two. I am winding down with the half marathon this Saturday. Since today is my last full day here, I spent as much time as possible taking in the relaxing atmosphere. I considered a yoga class, but I haven’t been to one in quite a while. The last thing I need is to stretch the wrong way and cause an injury this week. Instead, after my run I headed to the outdoor hot tub watching the steam rise in the cool morning air and let the warm bubbly water surround me. Feeling loose and relaxed I grabbed my Kindle and read in a screened in porch until lunch time.

This afternoon I saved my favorite spa treatment for last. I had an hour and a half massage. It has been a good six months since I have had a massage and I was concerned my muscles would rebel. To the contrary, my completely relaxed state while I have been here has spread from my mind throughout my body. My back usually harbors all of my tension, so when the massotherapist said she could work my muscles well I was surprised. Really only my legs had the most tightness. Considering all of the running I have done, that is expected.

With rain falling right now, I am not outside by the fire pit writing. I am, however, in the hearth room sitting by the fireplace. This really is a wonderful resort, so many nooks to escape to read, relax, contemplate. In such a busy, hurried world, taking time out to rest and rejuvenate is quite fulfilling. It is a sad commentary that it took driving six and a half hours away from home to find a place to relax. Escaping the stress sometimes helps put things in to perspective – what really matters, what is not worth fretting over – I gain better focus from a distance. Tomorrow I head home, but first I am taking a little detour to check out a bike course in Syracuse. More on that tomorrow. In the mean time I will enjoy the remainder of today with a gourmet meal. Another benefit of vacation, I don’t have to cook. Yes, a fine day despite a little rain.


Peaceful Day

Is it really possible to not have a care in the world? Probably not, but today sure was close. I actually almost feel guilty for being so relaxed. Quite a sad revelation. I came here to relax, that is what I am doing. So I will also commit to relaxing guilt free. Of course I am not laying around just eating the good food and being pampered. I ran nine miles this morning. My trainer scheduled 10 Yasso’s for me today. As I have referenced before, Yasso’s are named after Bart Yasso from Runner’s World Magazine. He suggests running 800 meter repeats at the minute time of your goal marathon. I hope to run a 4:50 marathon, so I set the treadmill at 6.2 – which is 9:40 per mile or 4:50 per half mile. My recovery was a walk of equal time, so I walked a quarter mile at 3.3, just a tad faster. With warm up and cool down, I covered nine miles. It took me just over an hour and 45 minute with my heart rate averaging 132 (zone two!) and maxing at 154 – still in high zone three. Good thing I am on vacation. I ate breakfast, waited an hour and then ran. If I was at home on a work day, I would have to be on the treadmill by 6:15 to get to work at a respectable hour. After my run I did my core workout that my trainer showed me last week and used the foam roller on my legs.

After a good lunch (in my robe!) I put on my swim suit and took in some sunshine. It was in the low 70’s today and not a cloud in the sky. For late September, it was a treat. I also enjoyed the outdoor hot tub with a waterfall. Yes, yes, pictures coming soon. I have to figure out tonight how to download them from my camera to my air book. I am using my iPad mostly. My spa treatment today was a facial. Another indulgence I love and don’t do often enough. While the mask was setting I got a scalp and arm massage. (As well as a bit of a nap too). Before dinner I had time to read in the spa patio. Reading is one of my favorite pastimes. Having most of the day to ready here adds to the relaxing atmosphere. Dinner was wonderful too, although I had to dress casual. Dining in a robe is quite a nice luxury I must admit.

I have been communicating with a friend and we are planning our next big vacation together. Here I am, at a spa with no cares to bother me, and I am thinking of the next big vacation. Planning ahead has its benefits, but so does living in the moment. Sometimes it takes getting away – leaving the stress and worries at home – to appreciate the here and now. It also gets my creative thoughts flowing for the next opportunity to do the same thing. I want to enjoy every day. Vacation days as well as normal life days. Some days are fly by the seat of my pants random and others are planned. But each day is unique and brings joys of its own. With every deep breath I take today I exhale a sense of peace. I couldn’t ask for anything more. Again I am fireside as I write. My chair today gives me a view of the fire along with the windows of the resort. Here is my slice of peaceful living today.



Kayaking, Running, and Swimming All Wrapped Up

For me, waking at 6:30 is sleeping in – just what I did this morning. After getting a few things together I headed down for breakfast and then out to the docks. It was still in the upper 40’s when I got to the little lake here to go kayaking. I had on layers, so I came prepared. It was an absolutely beautiful morning – the sun was shining, the wind was still and the waters calm. The mist off the lake was captivating. I took picture and will have them up soon, I used my waterproof camera and my new HD Pro Hero (a very cool video camera) strapped to my chest. It was a good upper body workout but also calming. I went at my own pace, enjoying the surroundings. All around the lake are cranberry groves – several times my kayak got up close and personal with the bushes too… Water lilies also sprung up here and there. I did see one live creature jump out of the water, but I never identified it. The lake is dotted with fake mallards – for a slalom course. I tried a few turns, a very technical course. I enjoyed the challenge of a sport I do not do often. Variety and change really does spice things up.

After kayaking, I changed and headed out to the path that winds along the property for a run. I did not have a run scheduled, but my Sunday long run was on Saturday and my Saturday 45 minute easy run didn’t happen. So today I ran 35 minutes easy. I am in the mountains and even the paved trail her has two good hills. It is only a mile long, so I ran it three times. So “easy” still had six hills to climb. A mantra I use occasionally but snicker at is “hills make you stronger”. Ya, ya…

After lunch and a little reading I decided to swim a bit. The pool here is a “fitness” pool. Translation – fitness class. It is warmer, about 84 degrees, and only 13 yards long. It brought back memories of lap swimming in the pool on the ship six months ago. After 1,000 yards I decided this is taper week for the half marathon and I had a few good workouts today, so I headed outside to the heated year round hot tub. When it is 58 degrees outside, sitting is a steamy hot tub is extra special. It even has a cascading waterfall. Very cool. After the hot tub, I took in the sauna and steam room with eucalyptus. All in preparation for my up coming spa treatment – a body wrap. Being cocooned with lavender oil and aloe is a wonderful treat. Having a scalp and foot massage while wrapped in aromatic oils is incredible. I love a good foot massage, after running as much as I have, it was divine. See why I am so drawn to spas?

After a wonderful dinner I am back again sitting outside by the fire pit recounting my day on this blog. I can honestly say I haven’t a care in the world while I am here. Stress is gone, I feel the peace that surpasses all understanding, and I am appreciating every moment. One of the most attractive things for me in a destination spa is the all inclusive environment. There is no need to leave for anything unlike staying at a hotel. It is almost an escape from the outside world, my little slice of peace and carefree solitude. I know what awaits outside these boundaries. But while I am here, I am in my own peaceful place. Rejuvenating and recharging to face all that is outside with a brighter perspective. Sometimes getting away for it all, puts it all into a clear perspective. And I believe I can take it on.


Spa Escape

For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while may have noticed that I have taken vacation right around the changing of the seasons. I was on a cruise in the Caribbean with a friend on the first day of spring and I was in the Bahamas with my family on the first day of summer. Well, I may be a day late, but today I hopped in my car and drove East. All the way through Pennsylvania to the Poconos. I found a destination spa to escape to and I am here on my own. Something I have to own up to, I am a spa girl. Since 2007 when I first discovered destination spas I have been hooked. For the past five years I have gone to Lake Austin Spa in Austin, Texas. I still have plans to go back again next year hopefully. This year it was tough to work in. Finding the Lodge at Woodloch here in the Poconos was a treat. The drive took me six and a half hours, which is equal to or less than the travel time to fly to Austin door to door. I might add, life is much better in 6.0 – as in iOS. Siri and iMaps told me where to turn, how far to go and kept revising my ETA.

Getting away on my own at least once a year is something I crave. Despite being single with no kids, I rarely have time to myself to decompress. This is my time. While I am very outgoing, I recharge best in solitude. Signs of an extrovert with a strong introvert undercurrent. Beginning with my drive, I enjoyed the time alone. It wasn’t until I had been on the road for a little over an hour and Siri told me I was to stay on interstate 80 for 239 miles did I let a friend know I had time to chat. Side note – Siri is good to text while driving, but I still try to limit it. Fortunately my friend called and she and I talked for a while. We both are entertaining ideas of moving more and more toward a vegetarian lifestyle. She is also a triathlete and we are learning more about endurance athletes, protein, and still being vegetarian. After talking a while we said farewell and I was back to my drive and scenery. One more call came in from a friend and we talked a bit about my running and his cycling and the time this week I will have to train, relax and unwind. Then I hit the mountains and lost the call. So maybe an hour of my six and a half hour drive was filled with conversation. The rest of the time I took in the sights and spent time in my thoughts.

The sights – Pennsylvania is already showing its fall colors earlier than Ohio. I also enjoyed the rolling hills. Much of Ohio driving is flat, only the eastern area, starting about where I live, has significant hills. Here are my sights.



I had clouds, rain, sun, and rain while the sun shined. I also saw the most beautiful rainbow. I was deep in thought when Train (one of my favorite bands) came on the radio singing Calling All Angels. Just as I heard “I need a sign, to let me know you’re here” the rainbow appeared across the sky. My sign, God and my angels are here. Here is my rainbow.


This will be a good week, I know. Time to unwind, appreciate all I have in my life, and know I am not alone while I am here on my own. Talking today with dear friends, texting with my sister and a few other friends after I arrived – a few reminders of the many loved ones in my life. So this week I will be sharing my spa experience. I took today as a rest day after running 18 miles yesterday. And what a day it has been. Tonight I am writing while I sit outside by the fire pit. What a great way to end such a good day. Yes, I can say I seized the day today.



Autumn Run

Today is the official first day of autumn – my favorite season. I welcomed in the changing of seasons with a run – 18 miles to be exact. Running in nature seemed appropriate so I went to the towpath to run. It also is much, much flatter than my neighborhood. The weather was perfect – after rain most of the night the clouds lingered it was in the mid to upper 50’s. It is so nice to run and the only traffic to deal with is made up of runners, hikers, and cyclists. The path winds along the Cuyahoga River and a canopy of trees covers the majority of the path. A beautiful display of nature showing its autumn colors emerging from the green.

As for my run, it went better than last week’s long run. The flatter terrain made a huge difference. I have not trained for a marathon in over a year and a half and I am noticing fatigue is setting in around mile 12. I have run several half marathons a year over the past three years, so I am used to the distance. With a little over two months to go, I am hoping I will acclimate more to the longer distances. It is also motivation to extend a few of my long runs throughout the year to the 15 – 18 mile range. My pace was better than last week too, by ten seconds a mile. Not having hills to climb certainly made a difference. I also took an electrolyte supplement every hour and a half. By the end of my run my legs were not nearly as sore as last week. Considering I ran three miles farther, was faster and not as sore as last week, I am quite happy.

During the run, by mile 15 I would have thoughts cross my mind of doubt. Despite all I have been through and achieved, still self doubt crops up. What is different now is I have the knowledge from experience to override those doubts. Just like bad habits – they don’t really go away, we just learn better habits to replace them with – doubts will most likely be there. Replacing doubts with thoughts of encouragement will get easier the more I accomplish challenging tasks. Just like my body will physically adjust to longer runs the more I do them, so too will my mind. Because after I finished today, no doubts remained and I reveled in the feeling of accomplishment. A wonderful way to enjoy this first day of autumn.

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Turning Point

I have been anxious to run fast to see how I am progressing. This morning I had that opportunity. My run workout was to run 4 x 5 minute intervals at my desired half marathon race pace with a three minute recovery between sets. After a mile warm up I set the treadmill at 5.8 (10:20 per mile) and stared my five minutes. This pace would equate to a 2:15 half marathon. I noticed a two things as I ran. First my foot pod was recording my pace faster – 9:50 per mile. It is calibrated to the GPS and my stride, so I tend to believe it over the treadmill. Second, regardless of 9:50 or 10:20 pace, I felt good. For all four intervals too. My heart rate stayed in my high zone three, not crossing my AT.

My run workout this morning truly was a turning point for me. I have seen assessment results indicating I am improving. A few runs have shown I could run faster based on my heart rate. But today it all came into alignment. I have not felt this good, this confident, about my running before. Ever. Yes, there is always room for improvement. But for today I am celebrating. Gone are my doubts, the voices in my head that I should give up, and the comparisons to others. This is my little slice of celebration today.

So many things in life are out of our control. People will disappoint us, outcomes sometimes are not what we want, and frankly some things aren’t fair and people can be selfish and mean. I have no control over any of it. But I can control my mind’s focus, my attitude, and where I choose to align myself. I choose to focus on the good, not waste my time on toxic things, and BELIEVE in improvement and the talents I have been blessed with. And I have friends who encourage me, what could be better? On that note – here is a picture of a bracelet my friend gave me. She also did the Rev3 half (rocked it too) and was in the picture with me in front of the semi. What a wonderful reminder.