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

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New Normal

This morning I woke up early enough to meet my friends at the pool. Keeping busy and being with others is just what I need right now. Even my dogs notice the void of Kosey being gone. My swim went well. Since I am still not eating the typical healthy diet I normally do, I have noticed I am a little slower in the pool and I cramped during a kick set. Despite this, I was able to swim 2,675 meters (the cramp cut me short 25 meters…) which is the furthest I have gone since getting sick. This evening I rode my bike on the trainer. I am getting the hang of it, the speed is still showing a very slow pace compared to what I ride on the road. After talking to a few friends, they experience the same thing on fluid trainers, so I am not going to fret about it.

I want to say it feels good to be getting back to my normal routine. But what is normal anyway? One thing that is certain, changes happen. Some I have control over, most I do not. No matter how much I may plan, life happens. Today in general was a good day – I had two good workouts, work went well, I met a new friend and had a good lunch conversation – and I still feel blue. Yes, this is to be expected. I have far from hidden my love of music and how lyrics impact me. A popular song right now has inspired me. Carry On by Fun.

If you’re lost and alone
Or you’re sinking like a stone
Carry on
May your past be the sound
Of your feet upon the ground
Carry on

There really is not another choice. I have to carry on. Change brings a new normal, even little changes. The blues will pass. Spring should be here soon – the gray, rain, and cold lately will only give way to snow soon – but it really is only for a season. And with spring comes the newness of things, good changes hopefully, and warmer days. So today I will carry on. Change may be right around the corner.



The Fray wrote the song All At Once  and the chorus contains a phrase I consider profound. “Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.” Today I discovered how painfully true these words are. This morning I had to put my 18 year old cat Kosey down. Out of my five pets, he is the first I have lost. It was time and I know the right thing was to end his misery. It was also the hardest decision I have ever had to make. Yes, today the hardest thing and the right thing were the same.

Since I started writing this blog I have said that not every day is a good day. Today certainly is not. But there is some good in the day. Honestly, that is hard to find right now. Instead of sharing his sufferings in the end, I will celebrate the life he lived. That is my good today. With that – here is the life of Kosey.

Born December 8, 1994 to a litter of six, I adopted two cats from the crew. At the time I named them Molly and Katie. Being a late bloomer, I discovered that Katie was a boy within the first two weeks. I got to know him and his personality so when I chose a name, I found Kosey in a baby name book and knew it was a perfect fit. Kosey is an Egyptian name that means lion. His entire life he was the best cuddling pet I owned. He loved to cuddle and be cozy. Additionally he had a little protective streak in him and would nip out if provoked. He definitely had lion ancestry in him. So Kosey fit perfectly. By eight weeks old he knew to hit the heating vent for comfort.

Kosey as a kitten by the vent.

Kosey as a kitten by the vent.

Cuddling up with Molly as a kitten and then with my dogs later in life was very common.

Kittens Molly and Kosey

Kittens Molly and Kosey

Full grown with Phoebe and Priscilla

Full grown with Barnabas, Phoebe and Priscilla

My two boys - Kosey and Barnabas

My two boys – Kosey and Barnabas

And most of all he spent his time with my puppy Priscilla. She is five now, but the youngest and smallest, so she will always be my puppy.

Prissy and Kosey

Prissy and Kosey

Sharing the water...

Sharing the water…


...and my lap.

…and my lap.

Kosey also was a great interior decorator for me… I installed Brazilian Cherry flooring through most of the house after he showed me how much he didn’t like the carpeting. Despite the expense, I would not have chosen a different cat. And the house looks much better anyway.

The unconditional love of a pet is a very special bond. Cats especially have a way of showing their appreciation for my love in return. Kosey had a motor on him that was an instant sign he was content. He would purr when petted, brushed, and yes even when Barnabas (a dog) would lick his head and clean his ears. Kosey was a big guy, topping the scale at 19 pounds at his heaviest. He was a bit overweight, but he was big boned too (ya, likely excuse, right?). For his size, he was solid. No belly flab at all. That was fine with me, all the more to cuddle with. And that I did last night for the entire evening. I knew time was running out and I wanted to cherish what time I had left with him. Eighteen years is a long life for a cat. I am blessed to have had those years with him. Fortunately his sister Molly is still spry and active.

This morning I swam. It went well, but my heart was not in it. I knew what I had to do later. I have never wanted time to go by so fast yet also freeze. Dreading taking him to the vet made me want to speed the clock up and get it over with. Holding him in my lap and crying on the kitchen floor made me want to freeze that moment in time. I was with him in the end and it was peaceful. This evening I will run. And as I did the day after my mother died, I will run hard and release the pain and sorrow.

Kosey12/8/94 - 2/26/13

12/8/94 – 2/26/13







Taking It Indoors

With today being day thirteen since my stomach virus hit, I can say somethings are returning to normal. My diet, however, is not. I am slowly working my normal food back in, but it is taking time. It is amazing the things we take for granted – like being able to digest food without pain for example… I am eating enough calories of “soft” foods, so my training is getting closer to normal. Friday was just plain fun. I went to spin class – it was a challenging interval workout and I gave it my all. It felt so good to be on a bike again and riding hard and strong. After, I swam with my friend and we did a fast workout of a total of 1,600 meters. This was my first time back swimming with her since I was sick – I enjoyed the challenge and pushed hard to stay with her.

Saturday I gave my bicycle trainer another chance. I inflated my tires (minor detail I overlooked last time) and noticed a difference. It takes a few minutes for the fluid in the fluid trainer to warm up. It didn’t feel as sluggish as Wednesday. The tension still has to be off – I worked hard but my speed never registered over 13 mph. Earlier this week I made sure my tire circumference was accurately entered, so I am not sure what is wrong. The benefit is that it is hard enough that I am strengthening my legs for the hills in Syracuse. When I get on the road I will have a better idea of my speed. Hopefully that will come by late March.

This morning I ran my long run. I much prefer to run outside, but I was practical. I have not gone much over four miles post tummy bug and I didn’t know what to expect. My gym was my atmosphere and the treadmill was my running ground.  The first five miles went incredibly well. I felt good, my pace was consistent, and my heart rate stayed where I wanted it in my zone two.  From miles 6 through 8 I had some side stitches on the right, where most of my stomach pain was when it was at its worst. I ran through it taking a minute walking break each mile. At mile nine I kicked it up a bit. My running coach had written out for me to run in zone three the last three miles. I was running 11 miles, so I picked it up. The stitched went away too. I finished 11 miles, on a treadmill, feeling great.

Living in the midwest, training indoors becomes a necessary evil for most athletes, cycling especially. On Friday evening I went to my triathlon club’s meeting. A guest speaker was a local professional triathlete. One unique aspect of his training is that he does just about all of it indoors year round. A few years ago he was in a cycling accident and was beat up pretty bad, he also has a young son. Training at home gives him time with his family as well as piece of mind of safety. He shared that since he took his training inside his race performance has improved. A big factor is the mental toughness he has developed. Training inside can be grueling on the mind. He attributes his ability to stay focused when racing ironman distance triathlons to his experiences of riding for five hours indoors and running over 20 miles on a treadmill. His story helped me this weekend with all of my indoor training. Breaking through, my latest mantra, is essential to reach new levels. With my race just three weeks away, today was a big break through – I not only strengthened my body, but I challenged my mental toughness. Stomach virus or not – I am ready.


Training and Racing

This morning Jill at Jogging Jeans suggested I share my upcoming races. Last year I would lay out my goals for the month and I have gotten a little away from that and I thought I would take time today to share. After all, I write about all of the training I am doing, I may as well give you an idea of what is on the schedule. I am only going to share the next four months – not that I haven’t registered for races all the way through November, I have – but plans change and we never know what the future really holds. In fact the first official race I was to run has past – and I did not do it. I had registered for a 5K race that was this past Saturday. My stomach virus had different plans for me, so I missed it. Here is the list with a brief commentary:

  • March 16th I head to Washington DC to run the Rock and Roll Half Marathon. There is a full marathon as well. I am going to DC with my running coach who is also running the half marathon. It should be a fun weekend to race, sightsee, and spend time with friends. Three of my favorite things.
  • April 7th I am running a 5 mile race here in town on the Towpath. It is in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, one of my favorite places to run.
  • May 4th I head to another capital city, Columbus, Ohio. I am running the Capital City Half Marathon. This is the main race for the event and should be fun. I chose the race because I am planning on running the Columbus marathon in October. This should give me a good feel for the terrain.
  • June brings two races and the beginning of triathlon season. June 2nd I will be racing an Olympic distance triathlon in Mount Sterling, Ohio (outside of Columbus) at Deer Creek State Park. This race is to get me in the mind set for my biggest triathlon planned this summer. June 23rd I will participate in the Ironman Syracuse 70.3 Half Ironman.

Now you have an idea of what I am planning and why I am training so much. Speaking of training – I was back in the pool today and swam 2,000 meters. Today’s workout was focused on more distance with sets of 200 and 400 meters. I still have yet to break 2:00 per 100 meters on the 400. I am going to have to influence my swimming buddy to do  some long sets with me. We push each other and that may be what I need. This evening I ran on my treadmill at home. Earlier in the afternoon I had a little stomach cramping, this thing has not completely left the building apparently, so I chose to run at home incase I didn’t feel well. Fortunately it passed and I ran a good tempo run that included three miles at my half marathon goal pace.

In sharing my races and training, I can not help but question is it racing that gets me to train, or I race because I train. Truth be told it is a little of both. What is the overriding factor is the time spent with my friends. I am so fortunate to have found a group of people that not only train crazy distances like I do, but I really like them too! That may sound silly, but it really helps keep me motivated. I wrote a few weeks ago about how I had wristbands made at Wristband Connection that have my mantras on them. I did it to remind myself as well as give that extra push of motivation when my friends are not with me. The company liked the words I chose and emailed me asking what my motivation was behind it. I told them and referred them to the blog post I wrote the day I placed the order. Well, the company was inspired and created this 51 second video. Please check it out and check them out too. I say this with no ulterior motive – I was not compensated and I paid the the regular price for the bands. The video includes clips of me training with my friends – in the pool, the spin room, and on the treadmills. 


Getting Back on the Bike

After two strong workouts yesterday the one thing I was not expecting was that I needed a little extra sleep to recover. This morning when my alarm went off I knew seven hours of sleep was not enough, so I sent a text to my swim buddy letting her know I would be late and I went back to sleep. For two more hours. I did make it to the pool, just as my friends were finishing their swim. Better late than never, right? Again I only swam 2,000 meters, modifying a workout that was 3,300 meters. The extra sleep helped and I had a good workout. This workout also had two sets of negative splits for my 100 meter repeats. I was able to swim faster with each split. Just a few seconds, but I did it and felt strong.

My workout this evening was a bit of a debacle. Usually on Wednesdays I go to the gym and ride the spin bikes. Since I want to stay close to home in the evenings this week while I am still recovering, I decided to set up my tri bike on a trainer. I have a fluid trainer I have not used before, so I set it up for the first time. That took a little longer than I had expected. Additionally I took the plunge and bought a power meter for my bike a few weeks ago. Getting everything set up and synchronized with my Garmin was another chore. By the time I was done I had a half hour into the process. Then I got on the bike. It is going take some getting used to on this trainer. I feel like I am dragging a heavy wagon behind me and that was on the lightest resistance. I would be curious to know what others have experienced with trainers. I know All Seasons Cyclist would not have a review on trainers, he would tell me to go outside! My ride was very brief, yet my legs really felt the workout. That wagon I was dragging was a heavy load.

Today brought a good workout and a frustrating one. But I a determined to get the trainer situation right. If anything my current situation will help me develop strength to tackle the hills in Syracuse in June. One thing for sure, I am very happy I am strong enough to get through the workouts and the long and tedious bike set up – feeling just fine. My appetite is returning – both for food and my challenging workouts. It is good to be back.



This morning I felt very good when my alarm went off at 4:30. I still hit snooze, but I knew I would get up and get to the pool. I only snoozed a little, it may be an excuse, but I am recovering from a nasty stomach bug. Once I got to the pool, I was a little hesitant to start. It has been almost a week off from training and now I was literally going to jump back in. My friends were not there this morning and I was on my own. It was probably best since I didn’t know how I was going to feel. I jumped in and it felt great. I even did as many flip turns as possible. The workout my coach gave me was for 2,800 meters, I altered it to 2,000 meters. As I was swimming, I was not holding back – my fast repeats I put all I had into it. At one point I thought I am going to be tired during the day after this. Not a chance. I had energy all day.

This evening I had a run scheduled. I decided to run on my treadmill at home so I could stop if I didn’t feel well. Again, I modified the workout from a total of 7 miles to 4 miles. The main set was made up of mile repeats at my 10K pace. Instead of five repeats, I did three. I finished feeling great. A little tired, but it was my second workout today and my first day back. Not bad. With both the swim this morning and the run this evening, I could have done the entire workout. That is how I felt while I was in it. I was not anxious to finish at all. Beyond listening to my body, I am also listening to common sense. I truly cherished being back today and I want to do the same tomorrow, so I did not push it.

Frequently I share quotes when I write. Sometimes I read the quote the day I write, others I search for a quote when I have a topic planned, and sometimes I find a great quote I know I will use, I just don’t know when. I keep a list of quotes so I can refer to them when it is fitting. There is a quote I have been wanting to use for a while now, but just could not find the fit. Today it fits. I am an avid reader, right now I am working my way through the Harry Potter series. While reading The Chamber of Secrets I came across this quote that really struck me.

“It is our choices, Harry, that shows what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” Professor Dumbledore

My abilities today could have taken me farther in my workouts. I chose to hold back. I want to enjoy each day, and many days to come. Sometimes choices are made that seem to hold back on my abilities, but the long term results have a better chance of being just as enjoyable. And I am so glad I chose to get in the pool today, it is good to be back.


Lessons From Setbacks

Today is day six of not working out and I am also down six pounds. Neither or which I could really afford. The extra rest hopefully will be to my benefit, time will tell. The weight loss certainly has me just below my ideal race weight, hopefully that too will work to my advantage in a few weeks when I run the half marathon in Washington DC. This stomach virus really is a beast and has not completely gone away. Fortunately I had today off for President’s Day, so I was able to take it easy. I am getting fidgety, which I guess is a good sign. Also I just had one of my first feelings of hunger. I ate a banana – soft, white foods have been my diet. Usually I write about my experiences from the day, unfortunately I have covered just about everything so far.

There are a few little things that did happen today that have helped me find motivation for writing. Specifically two messages I received today from two dear friends and bloggers as well. This morning Caroline at A Reasonable Faith sent me a text checking in. She also lives very close and was a savior to bring me saltines and chicken noodle soup last week. This afternoon I received an email from Jill at Jogging Jeans also checking to see how I am doing. I guess I could say Jill lives next door too – in Pennsylvania… The distance isn’t the issue, it is the sentiment that matters. They both know I am looking for motivation to write today without having had a workout in six days. Caroline wrote the following: “I’m sure you’ll discover some really important life lessons in this particular setback.” And I have. These two awesome ladies have reminded me of what a blessing it is to have such wonderful friends. It is easy to be there when things are going well, to cheer me on when I do well in a race or improve in training. But to check in to see how I am when I am sick, to let me know my presence is missed, that is a blessing.

This set back has opened my eyes to how thoughtful so many of my friends are. I train with people just as busy as I am, yet they have found time to send a text, call, or email to see how I am doing. It is funny too, with a stomach virus the topic can get a little ugly at times. Fortunately we all can relate in one way or another. One friend and I got into a great discussion about what I am dealing with is similar to the issues she has had with her dog having giardia. See where motivation to write about what I am dealing with has been a little difficult? The really important life lesson this setback has taught me is to not focus on the dung in life, but rather appreciate the blessings I have in such wonderful friends. That too is something to cherish.



I spend a good amount of time learning as much as I am able about proper training, nutrition, and race preparation. The past four days I have not been able to workout at all – the longest I have gone without training in close to four years – so I have spent some time research when I should be able to get back to training. The answer was not to my liking. After my symptoms are completely gone and I am able to return to a normal diet. I am improving, however this stomach virus really got the best of me. Lower pains still exist and my appetite has far from returned. Really, this stinks.

Frustrations in training come in many forms. Usually it is from the actual training – slow progress, technical work, and motivation to keep going. What I am experiencing is frustration from not being able to workout. While I was writing this I post I received an email from a friend I met in spin class. He has been sidelined for two weeks due to elbow surgery. He said my experience of not being able to workout got him to thinking. His words are so eloquent that I have to share. Here is what he wrote:

“Two weeks didn’t seem like a long time when I said let’s do this (surgeries) but now that I’m into it, it seems like forever. However I realized this morning this is an extremely important learning opportunity. When I’m healthy and working out I’m so involved in the effort, the joy of movement and the company of others I enjoy and that inner satisfaction of feeling myself get stronger I don’t give a thought to the fact it’s a gift. There are no guarantees here. None. Thanks to this lesson when I’m back on the bike, the yoga mat or any other fitness effort I’m going to take a moment and cherish it, that moment for what it is, a gift.”

How true. Being able to challenge our bodies, feel the rush of endorphins, and enjoy the opportunities with friends is a gift to be cherished. I too will take a moment once I am back to appreciate and cherish that which is so easily taken for granted.


Motivation While Sick

Unfortunately my stomach troubles have continued through today. Once again I have spent the day at home laying down. A friend of mine phrased it well: “You can be really healthy and still be taken down by a microscopic organism.” As the day has progressed I believe tomorrow I will be able to sit more, so I hope to return to work. As for training, I am less hopeful for a morning workout. Possibly an afternoon jog on a treadmill if I am able to eat. That has been the worst side effect – I have lost over five pounds. Goes to show that size is not always important, a microscopic organism has taken me down. But not out.

I received my wristbands in the mail today – that was my exercise for the day, walking the length of my driveway to get my mail. As I mentioned earlier, I ordered three personalized wristbands to help with my motivation to go on in training. The bands are 100% silicone and look fabulous. The company, Wristband Connection, sent me a picture of them before they shipped.

My personalized motivational wristbands.

My personalized motivational wristbands.

The timing was perfect. Here I ordered them to motivate me to get through tough workouts. Today I put on the “Trust” wristband – trust in my training, my ability, and today trust that I will be better and a few days off will not deteriorate all I have put in.

Once again, even a day spent on the sofa with a pain in my belly still brought something good. As well as something to look forward to – training again with my new wristbands to help get me through.


A Brief Change In Plans

Missing a workout is something I rarely do. Last year I had a head cold and still managed to get my workouts in. When I sprained my ankle it only stopped me from running – for a week – but I kept swimming and cycling. Yesterday started off great – I ran my speed workout in the morning on a treadmill at the gym. My workout was eight repeats of three minutes at “10K” pace with a two minute jog. I kept increasing my pace to get my heart rate up to zone 4, which I barely touched. My pace ranged from 9:40 to 9:00 minute mile pace. I felt great – all over. After work I met a few friends at the pool to swim. Just before I got in the water I noticed my stomach was feeling a little off. My pace in the pool was good, but my stomach was cramping and I knew my 3,300 meter workout was going to be cut short. Even with an upset stomach, my last 100 meters before cool down was 1:54. That was my little ray of sunshine before the storm hit.

After I got home the great feeling from the morning was gone – completely. It didn’t take long to discover I had a stomach virus – and bad. I will spare the details. By 9:30 I was in bed but I felt as if knives were working their way through my system. Today has been spent cat napping (with my dogs and cats of course), sipping tea and the most I could eat was a Honey Stinger Waffle and cream of wheat. The knives are still poking around – the thought of swimming or worse sitting on a bike only causes more cramping. Hopefully this will pass after a day. But it stinks.

Woody Allen once said “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” Of all people, I never expected Woody Allen to quote such wise words about God. How true though – I am the first to admit what a planner I am. Not only do I have my training schedule organized, but I have specific days for specific workouts. Yesterday I was a little rogue by switching my run to the morning and my swim to the evening. Today I had all planned out to swim with my friends in the morning, I have quite a bit to get done at work, and then get a cycle workout in this evening. In the midst of my misery last night I still packed up my gym bag with the expectation this would pass overnight. Instead the day has been spent completely resting.

The worst has past, for that I am grateful, and I am hoping to get back to my regular plans in a day or two. But I am not going to plan too far ahead. Part of seizing the day is enjoying the moment. In all honesty there has been little to enjoy today except the pleasure of watching adorable dog and cat faces sleeping next to me. There – at least I found something good in today. I have my plans, and life goes on regardless. The best I can do is keep looking for the good.