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


My Year in Review – Team Work

Running and triathlon for the most part are not considered team sports with the occasional exception of relay teams. Over the years I have approached training as an individual activity, primarily because I was slower in running and swimming than most of my friends. This year my experience has been much different. Through my writings I would share my doubts in my abilities and the mantras I have come up with to overcome my doubts. Believe has been my most common and helpful mantra. As my confidence strengthened and my performance improved, I was willing to train with my friends. Over time, I have seen my performance continue to improve and I credit much of it to the influence of training with others. It is a big bonus that they are my friends and not just random people at the gym. The encouragement and camaraderie from others only strengthens my belief that I am able as well as the sense of joy I get from encouraging them.

This morning I woke to about two inches of fresh fallen snow. It wasn’t enough to keep me off the roads for my run. A friend of mine came out to join me. She is a much faster runner and I made sure she knew she could go faster if I was holding her back. She needed an easy run and I enjoyed the company. As a result, she helped push me to run a bit faster than I probably would have and I stayed in my zones two and three. While we ran she even asked why I felt I had to offer the choice to run faster if I was slowing her, she was enjoying the run and wanted to stay with me. I realized I still had a bit of doubt that I am a real runner. Once again, the power of the buddy system came through and brought me to a better place. In all I ran 8 miles and she doubled back to get twelve miles in.

As I chronicled my experiences in my writings, I have grown emotionally as well as strengthened physically. Giving up is much easier to do when no one is aware. As others have read my experiences and shared encouragement, I had a greater sense of responsibility to see it through in my endeavors. Yes, the responsibility was to myself, but I knew others were aware. Reading others’ blogs and the trials and joys they experienced also added to my drive to push. I truly credit this blog to setting the ground work for me to go on and be open to training with my friends. My love of the sport has increased even more as a result of the team work I have found. I had to believe in my ability first and take the leap of faith.


Surprises For My Long Run

Honesty and truthfulness are two core values I live by. With that said, I can not lie and must say when it came to today’s run, I was dreading it. The weather forecast called for 60% chance of rain and temperatures in the mid 60’s to lower 70’s – wet, humid, ugly day. What was dread quickly turned to joy when the clouds parted, a nice breeze picked up and the sun came out. It was a lovely day to run after all!

My long run called for 16 miles – the first 10 miles easy in zone two and then picking it up the last 6 miles running at race pace. My metabolic training is paying off – I was able to run – not run/walk – the first 10 miles and keep my average heart rate at 130 – 3 beats under my zone two threshold of 133. Then came the last 6 miles – I ran race pace the first two miles. At this point I am 12 miles into my run, right where most of my longest long runs over the past three years ended. Training for half marathons has also trained my hamstrings to going into a burning rage past 12 miles. The final four miles I ran faster than the first 10, but not at race pace. I still have several long runs before the marathon to train my legs to go the distance. It was during these last four miles that I also used my mantras – I Believe I am able, I know I can do this. And I did.

The California International Marathon (CIM) is a flat to slight downhill course so I ran on the towpath in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. With the sun shining and the trees near peak color, I had beautiful scenery my entire run. A crushed limestone path, a flowing river, beautiful trees, and a leaf covered path made it all the more enjoyable. The leaves did cover one thing I didn’t expect – a snake. Garden variety I am sure, but I am not a fan of snakes. I hopped over the critter on my way out around mile 12. On my way back as I was finishing mile 14 it had made it across the path and slithered right on to my shoe as my foot landed. While I was tired and my legs hurt, I had enough adrenaline in me to yelp, hop, and fling the critter across the path. Nearly landing on the cyclist approaching me. Never a dull moment.

So I had a few surprises on my long run today. Pleasantly, the weather surprised me and provided a lovely day to run. A snake decided to sneak up on me – twice – to make sure I was paying attention – two surprises I could have done without. But most of all I surprised myself – I made it through the last leg of a tough run, I dug deep to remember my mantras to get me through the hard part, and I finished strong. Believing in my ability – I WILL do this.

After my run I visited with my dad and then came home. Before going inside I went across the street and sat on the edge of the lake I live on. My blog banner has a picture I took a few years ago of the foliage. My day was capped with the most beautiful view – another pleasant surprise on what should have been a terrible day. Here was my view.

My favorite part about living “so far out there”.


Every Second Counts

As I have shared many times over on this blog, I believe living each day to the fullest is my chosen path to finding joy in this life I am blessed to be living. Seize the day. I also do not want to waste a moment and I am learning more and more just how important every second is. Today it was three seconds.

This morning I ran the Towpath 10K, which took place at the same time as a half marathon and full marathon, and I set a PR (personal record) time. By three seconds. I have run races where I surpassed previous times by five, ten, even 48 minutes (my second marathon over my first). I rarely have the opportunity to run 10K races, my last one was two years ago at the same venue. I think beating my previous PR by 3 seconds on the same course is just as exciting as surpassing it by a large margin. This has been a tough year – I am dedicated to my training. With what is within my power I am doing all possible to improve. And I am seeing the results. Outside of my control – a sprained ankle and now asthma – I am still working within the parameters of what now really could be minor set backs to excel. That is why three seconds means so much. My lungs held up just fine today, thanks to the inhaler I made sure to use before the race.

My mantra Believe is helping me through the challenges I face every day. Another motivation I am focusing on is Transcend. It is not a mantra as much as it is a destination. Which makes it such a good destination – to Transcend one exceeds, or rises, to the next level. Where there is always room to grow. So each second counts, it is along the journey of each day in this so not linear life that I learn and grow. And Transcend. By Believing I am able – to take the swim stroke, the bike peddle, the running step – I reach new goals that take me to new levels. Even by just three seconds.

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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.


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My Mantra Is Working

Believe. That is my mantra. I chose it because frankly I have trouble sometimes believing that I am enough. That I have the ability, that I am able to swim, cycle, and run faster. Oh and many more remains on the list, but for now I am sticking to triathlon. My workouts the past week have given my more confidence. Reasons to Believe. Now, being the detail junky I am, I have the data to back up that I am improving.

This morning I had a follow up cardio point test that measures my exercise metabolic rate. My heart rate zones are measured as to where my aerobic base is, by anaerobic threshold, and my VO2 max. Since I started working with my trainer July 1st, I have can tell I am improving. The best sign is that I don’t feel as spent when I am at certain heart rate levels. Today I put on the funny green mask that has a tube to breath in to and ran on a treadmill while she kept increasing the incline. It took about 13 minutes, and I was very happy to hit the cool down phase. My last test was June 12 and I wrote about it then. Click the date to see how that went. Since July 1st I have been training to accomplish two things: run slow to improve my aerobic base and run fast to improve my anaerobic threshold. The data confirms – I have done both. I still have improvement to make. I think we all have room for improvement somewhere until we die. But I was so happy to see how far I have come in such a short time.

First my aerobic base. I have been running my easy runs with the goal of staying in my zone 2. That was determined in June to be a heart rate range of  101 to 121. As I have lamented here, it was difficult to do. Many times I had to walk to keep my heart rate low. Most runs, if not all, I focused on keeping my heart rate under 130. I would go above 121 so quickly, I was not going to be running much. I also was not burning as much fat as I should. I was burning more carbs. In June my zone 2 showed about 40% to 36% of the calories I burned was in fat, the rest in carbs. Today I have moved my zone 2 up to a heart rate range of 108 to 133 and I burn 48% to 33% of my calories in fat. This is a big improvement for me. And I proved it this evening – I ran 6 miles on the treadmill and ran the entire time keeping my average heart rate at 134 – just one beat above my zone 2. I know I have more “easy” running to do to get faster going “easy”. Seeing the agony of running slow is helping me, made it all the more encouraging.

Now my anaerobic threshold. This is the point where your body just about stops burning fat and now only burns carbs. In June that was at a heart rate of 152 for me. Today – 158. My zone 4 went from a range of 153 to 162 now up to a range of 159 to 168. On Tuesday when my heart rate hit 162 I thought I as peaking. According to my June results I was. Based on my results today – that is where I should be trying to hold my speed and tempo workouts. All this improvement in just six weeks. Wow.  Finally my peak VO2 – the volume of oxygen consumed by my cells. The higher the peak rate it, the more efficient my body is at burning fat. In June it was at 46, this morning it was at 52. I am burning more fat! This is important because the more fat I can burn at higher intensities, the easier my workouts should feel.

I know faith is defined as believing in things unseen. Faith is the key to Believe. But I can not deny that having a few statistics to back me up helps. It gives me greater faith to believe I am able. I was created to be enough as I am. Unfortunately life experiences sometimes chip away at our belief that that is true. By drowning out the negative influences, surrounding myself with people of positive influences, and yes Believing I am able – I am growing. And as long as I have breath, there will be room to grow. That is something to Believe in.