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


Frozen Isn’t So Bad

Over the past 36 hours I have swam 5,500 meters, ran 6.7 miles, and cycled 17.7 miles all under the roof of my gym. We are experiencing an extreme cold wave here in the Midwest with highs around 15. Running and cycling for me are best done inside. How some people are able to ride outside year round, like All Seasons Cyclist, continue to amaze me. I feel an asthma attack coming at the thought of it.

These cold spells usually last a week and then normal cold weather returns with 20’s and 30’s. For those who have spent any time in a cold climate, there are a few things that stir the senses and evoke memories. I went to college in Ann Arbor (yep, Go Blue!) and it would get just as cold. There is a specific sound made walking on snow in below 10 degree temperatures. A unique squeak that at the first sound my mind goes back to Ann Arbor walking across campus to class as the wind blows. My neighbors burn wood in their fireplace all winter long – I love walking outside and taking in the scent of the smoke piping out of the chimney. I can’t help but grin at the peaceful feeling it brings.

Beyond sounds and scents, a picture truly is worth a thousand words. Or more. I live on the outskirts of a quaint village called Chagrin Falls. The name of course comes from the Chagrin River that flows through the center of town and is broken in several places by beautiful waterfalls. I enjoy looking at the falls all through the year. The town itself brings memories of simpler times gone by. Today a dear friend of mine took a picture of the partially frozen falls that is beyond words.


With all of my training inside, rising before the sun and returning after it sets, I have to remind myself to take in the little things that are so easily overlooked. Joy can be found in any day. From the squeak of the snow, to the scent of wood burning in a fireplace, to viewing the beauty of the frozen winter around me. As I have written before, just look up, look around, listen, and breathe deep.


Hometown Race

This morning I slept until 7:00, the first time I have ever slept that late on a race day with a morning race. Having picked up my bib yesterday and living four miles from the race start, there was not much preparation to do before a 9:00 gun time. The weather forecast was spot on – cloudy early and the sun started shining by 8:00. A good friend of mine lives right in the center of the village, so I parked at his house. I mapped a route that I ran to warm up, exactly .75 mile. This race is known to have many locals jump in and run without registering, as a result it is also know to run out of water at the water stops. I brought a hand held bottle I use for long runs so it wouldn’t be an issue. My warm up run went well and I was in the starting area with 15 minutes to spare.

The sun was shining bright and I was trying to stay in the shade as much as possible before the start. From what I can tell, there were close to 2,000 runners and walkers, and that was just for the 5.25 mile race. There was also a mile fun run that started at the same time. The road was packed and I took a place in the pack about a third of the way deep. The first half mile I had to be very alert. Did I mention it was packed?! Dodging walkers, joggers and stroller runners is a challenge when a four lane wide road is filled with over 2,000 runners. Oh, and the first two miles is up hill 200 feet. Fortunately the run went through mostly tree shaded streets. There is one road that is not very tree lined and I was happy to see the clouds roll in when I made the turn onto the road. Once I cleared that street and turned to the final street, which is tree lined, the sun came out. Most of the race had neighbors outside cheering us on. Some even offered water, both to drink and hoses to cool us down. The young children with super soakers and the elderly lady with a small plant mister were my favorites.

I really didn’t know what to expect with my pace for this race. Having run the half marathon last weekend, still recovering from my ankle sprain, and the heat and hills – I knew I wanted to average under 11:00 per mile pace. The last five mile race I ran in March I was right at 10:00 pace, but it was flatter, cooler, and it was before my injury. I did well during the first two miles in the hills. Dodging the people didn’t seem to slow me. I was faster the first three miles from what my GPS reflects. Pacing is something I know I need to work on. As I approached the last quarter mile I really wanted to beat 57 minutes. I was quite happy as I crossed the finish line with an overall time of 56:52. My average pace was 10:49, and as a friend pointed out – there are not many 5.25 mile races and I have only walked this race before, so it was a PR. After drinking a bottle of water, I headed back down another route I planned and ran a mile to reach seven miles today.

After the race a friend of mine and her boyfriend hosted a brunch at his home. It was the perfect way to unwind – good company, conversation, food and beverages. Living in Chagrin Falls, especially during the Blossom Time festival, has the best of both worlds. Small town quaintness yet so close to a big city. Participating in the run, walking through the village, and spending time with friends make the day so special. I am fortunate to live in a great community, a blessing I most certainly will not take for granted.

Leave a comment

Blossoming Into Summer

After nearly six weeks of pampering my sprained ankle I ventured into the pool without an ankle brace. I also brought my fins for a kick set. I am back! My swim this morning was a very good one. I did my usual 1,000 meter warm up which included 200 meters of kicking. It felt good, my ankle was a little strained at first, but adapted quickly. I also incorporated my flip turns. I swam a total of 2,500 meters.

Over the past six weeks I have noticed my times were a bit slower than before my injury. I am sure I was a bit more gentle on my ankle, but this morning everything was in sync. My main set included two 500 meter pyramids – building up 25 – 50 – 75 – 100 meters and then back down. My times were all within my goal times – before my injury. Seeing my times was so encouraging to me. Swimming continues to be the most challenging sport in triathlon for me to see large improvements. This morning was just what I needed.

With Memorial Day weekend here, so too is the unofficial start of Summer. My hometown celebrates with a weekend long event called Blossom Time. Everything a Norman Rockwell style town would have – hot air balloon races, a carnival with rides, parades, bands and of course a 5.25 mile race on Sunday morning. A runner living in Chagrin Falls has little excuse not to participate in the race, so far be it from me to not support my local community. I will be running in the race on Sunday. Notice I didn’t write “racing on Sunday.” I am incorporating it into my 7 mile long run scheduled for Sunday.

With my ankle improving, my swim back to normal, and running a race this weekend – I too feel that I am “Blossoming” as Summer approaches. I have been down with not being able to do all I want to do, now that is changing and just in time for summer. The responsible voice is reminding me to take it carefully – within the realm of enjoying Summer training of course. Seize the day – because time slips away just like hour glass sand… And that is what I intend to do.