elisariva

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


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Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes

How do you measure a year? 

This well known song from the Broadway musical Rent recently had a new meaning to me. It has been a full year since June 23, 2017 – I did one of my rare blog posts that day only to come home that evening to find my home filled with smoke. A strong wind blew my neighbor’s willow tree over that took out my neutral power line – causing 240 watts to charge through my house. Many things were destroyed from the surge, but the worst was a small fire that started in my home office. Fortunately the fire was contained, but the smoke filled the house for hours. I was not home when it happened. Small fires most often cause sever smoke damage – I realized that first hand one year ago.

In daylights? In sunsets? In midnights? In cups of coffee? In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife?

Since that day, so many things have happened to measuring this past year. I moved out for two weeks – with my two dogs and two cats – while the home was cleaned. Daylights, sunsets, midnights passed and many cups of coffee (and wine) got me through those days. Friends were there for me to share laughter, tears, and even a few honest dissagreements to wake me up from my self-induced myopic view of my strife. I was so consumed with my struggle, I failed to see what a few friends were facing as well.

Reconstruction was a challenge. The contractor that the insurance company suggested I use walked off the job leaving my office with exposed walls, no drywall and so much to be replaced. Fortunately I found an outstanding contractor who was able to finish the work, but on weekends and evenings. The reconstruction was complete on August 19th. Eight weeks after the fire, my home was finally restored. Except for the hundreds of boxes that had to be unpacked.

Before I could open one box, my attention was moved to my father. At 96 years of age, he had been declining in health all year. By August 20th he had in home hospice caring for him and on August 26th, three days before his 97th birthday, he died.

How about love? Measure in love. Seasons of love.

My father lived a long, good life. I was so blessed to have him in my life so long. My mother died in September of 2010. With my father gone, for a while I felt orphaned. Alone in the world. But my parents loved my sister and me deeply. They taught us the meaning of love. My mother was the most selfless person I have ever known.  My father was fiercely loyal. They showed me love is a verb.

After I got my father’s estate in order, I turned back to my home. I set a target date of October 31st to finish unpacking. To hold myself accountable, I scheduled a “FriendsGiving”  dinner the first weekend in November to thank a few close friends who were there for me when I was at my worst. They are definitely units of measurement of love in my life.

Then I rented a 20 yard dumpster and filled it in four days. I cleared out the junk. That was a physical action, but it also sparked an emotional cleansing as well. Toxic relationships are gone. Close friends who I had fallen away from are restored. Life is too short to hold grudges or waste time on things that will never be.

It’s time now to sing out, though the story never ends. Let’s celebrate remember a year in a life of friends.

With the new year of 2018, the past six months have been wonderful. Not that I haven’t had some setbacks. Running is my way of dealing with stress. Even though I shouldn’t run with arthritis in my left foot, I ran anyway. Now my knee is acting up. I haven’t cycled outside all year. But that hasn’t stopped me from working out. I have made modifications and I am in physical therapy. I may be able to run a few miles a week and get my bike on the road before the end of summer.

The good – I learned to ski and love it. Along the way I have also made a few new friends through skiing, I visited a few old friends to go skiing – both in New York and Colorado. I have been sharpening my cooking skills – more on that in future blog posts. I have made time for friends – my vacations are centered around it this year. I want to go visit those dear to me who live far away. Family time is important and last week I was thrilled to celebrate my cousin’s wedding. My extended family has seen each other at funerals more than anything the past few years. Having a wedding to celebrate love was the perfect way to cap off the past five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.

Remember the love. You know the love is a gift from up above. Remember the love. Share love, give love, spray love, measure your life in love.


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New Beginnings

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

Semisonic Closing Time

Semisonic released Closing Time in March of 1998 and on April 29, 1999 the song really hit a chord in my life. My new beginning began that day when I signed up to run my first marathon to raise funds for the Arthritis Foundation and run in Dublin, Ireland. Little did I know that day would change so much in my life. Endurance sports – specifically running and triathlon – became a huge part of my life. Over the past 17 years I have run 7 marathons, over 15 half marathons, countless 5K races and a few 10K races as well. In triathlon I have completed one full iron distance triathlon and came within 5 miles of another. I also completed 7 half iron distance triathlons, one half iron aqua-bike (swim and bike – no run), three olympic distance triathlons and many sprint triathlons.

This past March I shared that I have developed arthritis in my left foot. The disease that first brought me into running long distance is also the disease that took me out of it.  I took four months off of running early this year and slowly started running a mile to two miles up to three times a week. By mid June I signed up to run a charity 5K with friends. I figured I would see if I could finish – I knew I would not set a personal record, but it would be fun. And it was! And I finished!rftp

With a 5K under my belt without significant pain in my foot, I took on a challenge to race three sprint triathlons and one olympic relay where I swam the first leg this summer. I had a blast – I knew I wasn’t going to place in my age group since my run was not strong at all, so I decided to enjoy the process. Also racing with my friends made it so special.

In March I met with a foot and ankle sports orthopedic surgeon. It was my hope that I would be able to have some type of surgery to alleviate the pain in my foot so I could run. Unfortunately it is not possible. She told me that I was classified with moderate arthritis, not mild, and it is a matter of time before I would decide the pain is too great to run. Throughout summer I would occasionally feel pain as I ran or after, but it was tolerable. After the last triathlon I did in August I knew my running days have ended. By 2.5 miles into the run, the pain was terribly sharp and I was only running an 11:30 minute mile pace. I finished the race and my foot ached for a few days. It was time and I had almost six months to prepare myself for the reality.

My running beginning that began in 1999 had come to an end. I am exploring options to find my next new beginning. What had seemed as a terrible ending has now opened up time for me to expand my fitness horizons.

With the extra time I added yoga to my routine and cycled and swam more. Cycling is so fun! Road riding to me is the most thrilling, however it also involves the most risk. More and more motorist are hitting cyclists and the cyclist is always on the losing end. I also have a mountain bike that I need to take on actual mountain bike trails. I did ride it a bit on a towpath through the parks here in Northeast Ohio. So in addition to racing a few triathlons, I also participated in a few long course area cycling events as well as tool around on the mountain bike. Again – much fun and great exercise!

Yoga is something that I have done off and on over the past six years, however this year it became a regular part of my fitness program. I have benefited tremendously from it – stretching, strengthening and calming. Recently there was a public yoga event at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in downtown Cleveland. I went with a few friends – it was a truly fun and inspiring evening.

Over the years I have worked on my swim to the point I have gone from back of the pack to usually finishing in the top 20% out of the water. Since I am swimming more, I also want to challenge myself to participate in US Masters swim meets. My first was where my strength is – a mile open water swim in Lake Erie. It was a choppy day and I still did well and placed second in my age group.

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Almost  a year ago I registered for the inaugural Ironman Ohio 70.3 half iron distance race. Close to 100 members of the Cleveland Triathlon Club also registered. Not being able to race with my friends was difficult to accept, there was no way I could run 13.1 miles. I decided to volunteer at the race in the first transition and also cheer on the course. I have to say, volunteering is so much fun! I was able to be with my friends and cheer them on. Win win.

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This past weekend I capped off my racing season by racing in the Revolution 3 half iron distance aqua-bike. Aqua-bike races came to be when the demand to race came from triathletes who can no longer run – just like me. Rev3 does a fantastic job of organizing basically four races that take place at the same time. Both full iron and half iron distance triathlons and aqua-bikes. I was able to race along side my friends after all! One of my friends did the full distance triathlon and we stayed till he crossed the finish line. So I had the opportunity to race and then come back and cheer. Again – win win.

So here I am – my racing season is over and in the past I would be planning out what running races and triathlons are next. Not this time. My new beginning right now is exploring my options.  I enjoyed racing an aqua-bike race and I am sure I will do more. Swimming is still something I want to improve on and compete in a meet or two in a pool setting. I want to get stronger in cycling, but I do not have a desire to race road cycling. This fall I plan to get out on the mountain bike trails and overcome the fears I have of the sport. When the snow falls I want to ski downhill. I haven’t been on downhill skis since I was 16! Cross country skiing is something I have done in the past and I will get my skis out as well.

It is fitting to end this post with quoting the beginning of Closing Time. As I explore the options ahead of me, I am facing a new frontier – opening doors into the world.

Closing time. Open all the doors and let you out into the world.


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Awful Hole

Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?

-Clarence, It’s A Wonderful Life

 

This quote came to mind to me today after pondering a comment on my last post by Leela. She mentioned that my daily posts of inspiration are a big part of her day. What surprised me was that I had to approve her comment. I have my settings such that I only have to approve a new commenter. If you have commented before and I approved you, you are able to comment again without my having to approve the comment. I was so touched that she was inspired by my blog. When I received her comment it was on my iPhone during a busy day. I responded and when I got home to my Mac laptop I checked out her blog. Blog 2 is the title and it took me only a moment to realize I know her. And love her writing! She had a very creative blog in the past – there was a specific mission to that blog and when she achieved it she deleted the blog. Well, Leela is a very good writer and has a creative wit – I am thrilled she has returned with Blog 2.

I missed her writing – the wit, the honesty, her way of calling a spade a spade. Once again Clarence’s quote came to mind and now it was a two way street. We both have touched each other’s lives through our blogs and our absences left a hole. In a way, my return is a bit of a blog 2 as well. I am motivated to continue to write about “seizing life’s joys and challenges physically, mentally, and emotionally.” Much of this in the past has been in relation to my triathlon training, and that will continue as well. But – let’s call a spade a spade – I am facing some challenges right now – physically and emotionally for sure. My physical challenges have limited my love for swimming, cycling and running – which can be an emotional downer. Pain is a big downer too I might add. As a result, I want to really focus on living one day at a time – seizing the day. Good and bad.

Since my last post I have been able to swim (it was only cut short by 200 meters due to some sharp pains), cycle on a spin bike (while reading Dan Brown’s latest book Inferno – great way to pass 45 minutes on a stationary bike) and this morning I ran at the track and completed my entire (modified) speed workout. It is frustrating that modifications have to be made, but endorphins are still endorphins and friends are still friends. I swam with one of the best, was encourage by another after my spin, and ran track with yet one more fabulous lady. (Although she is way faster. She ran with me for my 800 speed set – which was part of her warm up!)

There are moments I am just plain exhausted – emotionally. I am getting plenty of rest and eating right. Which actual adds to the frustration and exhaustion because I am fastidious about my diet and exercise yet I am dealing with a health concern. But, I also consider myself blessed beyond measure. Literally by the grace of God I am able to focus on the fact this will be resolved – how is still part of a blur – but it will and I am at peace with it. I have also had to slow down a bit – literally and figuratively – and it has reinforced the meaning of seizing the day – all I have that is certain is today.

With that, I am all the more motivated to write, because each life truly touches so many others – through blogs, friendly encouragement, and so much more I look forward to experiencing.


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Learning, Control, and Friends

Since I started blogging I have written on several topics that are near and dear to me. Over the past four months my life experiences have accentuated their importance – learning, control, and quality friends. Funny – three topics, the underlying theme of this blog is based on my triathlon training, and not one is swimming, cycling, or running.

I am back to my regular training routine and it looks like the two triathlons I have scheduled for June are on target. What has changed is my need for sleep. In the past I could get by on around six hours of sleep and 350 mg of caffeine during the day. Not anymore. I need at least seven hours on week nights and at least eight on the weekend. This explains my blogging absence, sleep is winning over typing. As for caffeine – I am down to two cups of coffee in the morning. It is rare when I have to crack open a Speed Stack with 250 mg of caffeine. Which leads to my first topic – learning.

I ran my first road race in 1999 and participated in my first triathlon in 2000. I have continued to learn much along the way about the disciplines I participate in. Not only have I learned a great deal about swimming, cycling, and running the past four months, I have learned much about life and myself. My confidence is improving as I see myself returning to, and even surpassing, the levels I was at before getting sick in February. Getting to this level was not easy. Physical challenges were there since I was weakened from a compromised diet as well as back to back bad colds. The mental/emotional struggle was just as hard though. I am used to a very active schedule. Not being able to do what I wanted to do was humbling to say the least. Of all the things I learned, just how much control I have over things was what I learned the most.

This is not the first time I have written the following – there is very little in life I have control over. Despite this knowledge, as a type A personality I have a tendency to attempt to prove it wrong. A true type A understands what I mean. Now I would not say I am a control freak – I only want control over what matters. (Snicker, snicker) No matter how I attempt to control – life happens. Yes, there are preventative measures when it comes to health, but I ate a very healthy diet, took plenty of vitamins, I exercise plenty, and I still came down with the norovirus that altered the course of three months at least. I also can not control genetics – and my father’s asthma gene ended up in my pool. He has a rare form of tracheal asthma, I have exercise induced asthma.

Earlier this month I went to a weekend triathlon training camp the Cleveland Tri Club puts on. Both learning and control came into play over the weekend. The first day, on my first ride, I experienced five asthma attacks. It was a very hilly course and along 36 miles were plenty of hills. The first one, at mile 3, gained 268 feet in the mile. That hill taught me that along with shortness of breath I lose my voice when an asthma attack happens. Four more hills all with elevations of 200 feet or more provoked my asthma. Elevations under 200 feet didn’t seem to cause a problem. Lessons – I can not control much about getting an asthma attack and now I have fears of big hills. Not good.

I shared with a friend today about my fears of riding a specific hill. She also has exercise induced asthma and she offered to ride it with me – a few times. I am fortunate to have many friends. I am blessed to have a few very wonderful friends who understand my trepidations and are willing to help me through the challenges. It is no secret I am not a fast athlete – I am improving and just getting to the “pack”. And yes I am unique – most of my friends in the sport are fast! I do not expect them to wait for me, I know I am working hard within my ability and that is what matters. When a friend takes the time to pace me, it is incredibly encouraging. It motivates me to push my limits.

The day I stop learning something about life experiences is the day I die. I refuse to think I know it all and no improvement is needed. One thing I learn over and over is I have very little control, other than my attitude. This is also something I am learning from a few dear friends – they have wonderful attitudes regardless of circumstances and I strive to emulate them. Sure, things will happen to disappoint me, people will let me down, circumstances will change I didn’t expect. I can not control it. But I won’t let it control me – that is where a good attitude is needed. Heck, I woke up today and I am breathing! (To an asthmatic, this is significant). As for my wonderful friends, I can only hope I am able to be a friend in return. So no matter what happens, there is always something to seize in the day.


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A Glimpse at the Brighter Side

After writing a few posts of the trials going on in my life, I want to write today about the brighter side – my training. Today was my rest day, but the past week I have been swimming, cycling, and running quite a bit. First my swimming – last week was my first full week back in the pool and swimming with my friends since I came down with a stomach virus. I am a little slower due to losing some strength, that doesn’t matter – it is so good to be back. Even on the morning I knew I had to take Kosey to the vet to be put down, I enjoyed swimming next to my friend. While we were swimming separate workouts, there was one set when we happened to start at the same moment. She and I were shoulder to shoulder and I was not letting up. The cool thing was what I was thinking. I was not thinking “come on, you can beat her.” I was talking to her in my mind saying “come on, keep up, you can do this – push, push, push…” She must have heard my thoughts because we have swam together a few times since. I know I am a bit slower right now, but she has gone turbo and has really improved. I missed the camaraderie that swimming together brings along with the joy of seeing each other’s improvements.

Cycling has been a learning experience – but for the better. I finally figured out how to control the resistance on my trainer and my rides on my bike inside are much better. Even when I realized I had the trainer upside down in a group class! Yes, on Saturday morning I went to a group cycling class put on by the Cleveland Triathlon Club. We bring our trainers and bikes to the class lead by one of my friends and my triathlon coach. We went for two hours – spinning that long in a group setting definitely helps time go by much faster. As in swimming, cycling with a group definitely helps challenge me to push harder.

My run is where I am seeing the most improvement this past week and that is just fine with me. On March 16th I am running a half marathon. My speed and tempo runs have gone well. Where I am seeing the subtle weakness from being sick is in my endurance. I can keep the faster paces up, but only for about 75 to 80 percent of the scheduled run. As time goes on I am able to extend the time. Right now I am hopeful that the race will go well. All of my runs lately have been on the treadmill, something that should help my focus in the race. Running past national monuments in DC along with many other sights should provide even more motivation to keep going.

I am blessed to have friends and activities to bring good times in the midst of trying times. And that includes the friends I have met in the blogosphere. The encouraging comments are very dear to me. As well as the shots in the arm of humor. I was told to be careful what I wish for. Well, when it comes to wishing for a strong network to see me through tough times, I believe my wish has come true.


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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. 


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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.


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Influence of Friends

After a very good night of sleep I awoke feeling so much better than yesterday. Knowing I had three workouts ahead of me today, I didn’t push it too hard in spin class. That was not easy. A good friend of mine was on the bike in front of me and I could see her computer during the entire class. She was pushing hard. We would both be at the same RPMs but I would average 18 miles per hour while she was cranking 22 to 25 miles per hour. I had to keep reminding myself that I had a run workout tonight and I am running a half marathon in 8 weeks. My first priority right now is on my running. But I still have goals to aspire to – on the bike it is to catch my friend. A wonderful form of peer pressure.

After spin I headed to the pool for a 2,000 meter swim. Four of us swam together a workout of building sets of 50/100/200 meters. For the 50’s and 100’s I would alternate pulling and swimming. Again, I didn’t want to push it. For the 200’s I pulled. We did them on a four minute send off. I wanted enough recovery time between intervals. What really pleased me was each time I swam without the pull buoy I maintained under a minute pace for the 50’s and under 1:57 for the 100’s. I was in the wall lane and breath to my right going out and to my left returning – as a result I was able to see the other three swimmers. This really helps me pick up my pace. I want to stay with my friend who swims close to my pace and speed up to see where the faster swimmers are. I also get to glimpse at their swim technique and pick up pointers. I guess I could say it is another form of positive peer pressure too.

At work today I was talking with a fellow runner. He asked me a sincere question that was valid. He asked if part of the reason I am not a faster runner is mental. I could not deny it is part of what is holding me back. For my run this evening I was to run two repeats of ten minutes at my half marathon goal pace. My best half marathon was 2:19 so I calculated the pace for a 2:15. After a two mile warm up tonight at the gym I increased the pace to 10:20 mile pace. Five minutes in, my heart rare was at 148-150. It should be in the upper 150’s. I increased to 10:10, then 10:00, then 9:50, and finally to 9:40. I was able to hold the pace and my heart rate never crossed over 158. The second set I started at 10:00 and went up to 9:40. Had my friend not questioned me today, I don’t know if I would have pushed as hard as I did.

In sport and in life, having friends to challenge us, support us, and help us see our potential truly adds to the joy in life. Sure, a person can go it alone. Loneliness, frustration and missed potential are much more probable however. I am blessed to have several friends in my life. To quote Pearl Jam, I am lucky “to count on both hands the ones that I love.” That is part of the beauty of friends. Unlike family, we get to choose them. Having good ones helps us be good ones. And round and round it goes.


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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.


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Influence of Friends

After reading the weather forecast last night for today, my friends and I decided to meet at 6:15 to swim and get our workout in before the storm was scheduled to hit. Yes, I did not have to work today, but I did not want to spend a day off stuck in snow and traffic. Additionally, I really enjoy swimming with my friends. This morning we had five all together. I swam a total of 3,300 meters. I continue to push myself more to keep pace with the others. Sometimes I do have to pull, but today when I did was swimming my 100 meters in 1:47. When I was swimming freestyle I still was able to stay just under 2 minutes per 100 meters for both the 100 meter repeats and the 200 meter repeats. I finished feeling like I put in a good workout and I feel the benefits from it.

I left the gym about two hours before the storm was supposed to hit, so I headed to Target. On Christmas Eve I helped one of my friends wrap a few gifts. She is very organized and has boxes of assorted wrapping paper and spools and spools of ribbon. These gifts did not have the stick on bows (like the ones I tend to use…) but carefully wrapped around the boxes and tied with care. She inspired me to stock up for next year. And maybe a few years after with the stash I bought. All of the wrapping paper, gift boxes, gift bags, and yes – spools and spools of ribbons were 50% off. The joy of the holiday definitely continued with such a bargain.

As I pulled into my driveway the first flakes of snow began to fall. It is letting up now, but still falling. From my last measurement it looks like there has been eight inches of fresh snow – so far. I have spent most of the day inside now getting things done around the house and spending time with my friend who is visiting. Time with her is always fun and not often enough.

The common thread through my activities today has been my friends. Sometimes we make adjustments for each other (waking at 5:00 on a day off to participate in a group activity), sometimes we inspire each other (my Christmas gifts will be stellar next year!), and sometimes we just make a snow storm a great day to hang out together. This year I have learned a great deal about friendships. Reaping and sowing is a very good summary – I gravitate toward the friends that sow into my life, as I also sow into theirs and the circle goes round and round. We reap the joy we share. Those are the friends I have found and am blessed to experience the joy of life with.