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


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.


Finding Motivation

This morning I was back in the pool and was able to get 3,200 meters in. I swam with my friend who swims the same pace as I swim. We did a lot of 100 meter repeats – the goal was to maintain a set pace with only 5 seconds recovery for the first 10 then pick up the pace by 5 seconds but take 10 seconds to recover and then another 5 seconds faster with a 15 second recovery. At first I really had to hold back, and then the pace caught up with me, I had to push to make the times toward the end. I really enjoy swimming with my friend because we both have different moments when one excels versus the other and we motivate each other to pick it up. I tend to push off a bit stronger on the third length and she has an incredible ability to kick it in the last 12 to 15 meters. Just when I am feeling the desire to cruise into the wall I see her edging up on me. Another example of how the buddy system works. No slacking allowed!  As for the workout, I liked they way it helps train my body and mind to maintain a consistent pace over a long distance.

My cycle workout this afternoon also was geared toward endurance and tempo. After warming up for 10 minutes my goal was to ride a moderately flat course and maintain 85 to 95 rotations per minute keeping my heart rate in my zone 3. First, I am still trying to figure out where my zones are on the bike, I know they are much lower than when I run. I went by my perceived exertion and I think I maintained the right level – for 50 minutes. That is a long time to ride a bike going nowhere. Fortunately I had music on and I read. Keeping the pace and the speed I wanted was a bit challenging at times, but I remembered my new mantra – Push Through. I finished feeling good and knowing I put in a good effort. I must say, cycling alone today without a buddy or in a class was a bit more challenging than swimming this morning with a buddy. I know when the weather improves and I hit the streets I will most likely experience the same thing – hopefully I will be able to join a few group rides each week to have other riders that keep the motivation going.

Today  I emailed with my coaches about scheduling races for both running and triathlon. My running coach shared with me a few ideas for motivation and conquering the psychological challenges that come with harder training. I will not always have others training with me, especially in running, and I have to find a way to push through. One suggestion she had was that she wears motivational rubber bracelets during workouts to glance at to remind her to keep on. I really like the idea – especially if I wear it on my left arm next to my Garmin 910XT. The detail junky in me looks at my watch frequently in all sports to monitor my time, my heart rate, my pace – you name it. I found a company on the web that will manufacture personalized bracelets, no minimum order, free shipping, and with a promo code I got them for $6.79 each. I ordered three – “Break Through”, “Believe”, and “Trust”. I was able to pick the words, Break Through and Believe are two common mantras of mine now. I thought of “Just Keep Swimming” and “I Am Able”, but I decided to go with “Trust”. Trust my training, my ability, my will to continue, and so much more. I won’t always have a buddy to keep me motivated, but I can have a reminder to glance at that comes close to pushing me on.


Break Down to Break Through

I am getting into a routine on Sundays that I am liking quite a bit. My morning starts with my cycle workout my coach has given me. Today was for an hour but it was geared to mimic hill climbing. Something I need to spend time doing – the Syracuse 70.3 climbs 1,000 feet over the first 11 miles. I pushed myself and hit higher heart rate levels on the bike that I have not seen in a while. After cycling I changed and headed to the pool to swim. This morning I met up with one of my friends who is very fast. He had already started his workout so we did our own workouts, stopped to chat a bit in between, and finished around the same time. I only swam 1,200 meters. Today I really felt the effects of cycling hard and my lungs and legs did not want to push too much. That said, I did swim my fastest 600 meters – I did it in 12:14 – just a hair over 2:02 per 100 meters. My goal is to go long distance averaging under 2:00 minutes. I am getting close. Also – no pull buoy at all today. So with fatigued legs and lungs I still had a strong swim.

After swimming I changed and headed up to the yoga studio. For the second week in a row two other girlfriends met up with me. While yoga is a very individual practice, sharing the experience with friends makes it much more meaningful and fun. Balance is not my strongest ability, I have a 20 degree C curve in my lower spine. Even mild scoliosis can really mess up balance. As a result, my friends and I bump into each other occasionally. Today I almost punched one friend in the nose and the other went tumbling into the mirror on her own ability. (I had nothing to do with it, honest.) Additionally, the instructor of this class makes sure to add a meaningful theme to the practice. Last week she shared the quote from Mother Teresa. Today she started with a comment that penetrates through so much in life, not just yoga. She said that there are moments when something becomes so stressful (a yoga stretch, a swim sprint, climbing a huge hill on a bike, running a pace faster than ever, a work situation, a relationship…) that you reach a point where you have to break down in order to break through.There comes a time when enough is enough – when the stress breaks you down and you push on and break through.  In my training right now it is in my running, as my friend pointed out to me. I didn’t think about it right away, but she is right. I am struggling and I have to break through. Two months ago I was running 15 to 20 miles for my long run and I can not find it in me to get over 10 miles right now.

Adding yoga to my routine was something I wanted to do to improve my flexibility and strength. I had not planned on gaining insight and perspective too – not every instructor is the same. Fortunately I have found a class that is challenging my body and mind. Mantras are a center part of my training. When it gets tough I turn to them. Believe. Just Keep Swimming. I Am Able. Now I have one more to add, and it will help far beyond a workout – Break Through.




This morning I decided to skip swimming and just do my 70 minute easy run. My resting heart rate was still a little elevated, so I didn’t want to over do it. Today is beautiful with plenty of sunshine. When I started out on my run it was still in the 30’s but the cooler air didn’t bother me. I was texting this morning with a friend who is originally from the south, she asked if I ran in this cold weather. Being a native Ohioan, this isn’t so cold to me! With the proper clothing and layers I will run outside even in the teens. How far is another issue. Under twenty degrees any run over eight to ten miles is a little uncomfortable…

So I ran my 70 minutes in the cooler weather through the hills of my neighborhood. I took a look at the course map for my marathon and just before mile 11 it enters an area referred to as San Juan Hills. There is one decent climb about a quarter mile long and picks up 70 feet in elevation. My regular route at home covers a very similar type hill, so I made sure to focus on it today. Even though I was running easy and staying in zone two, I was able to take the hill at a 12:00 pace. After my great run yesterday I still felt good today and ran at a good pace while keeping my heart rate down. My greatest hope is the positive energy I am feeling right now is there in two weeks when I run my marathon!

Preparation – so much requires it. What to wear – for a training run – to condition my body for my race. I have been experimenting with different types of fuel for the run. I think chocolate Gu is the winner. What to drink – lemon lime Nuun is working. To supplement with electrolyte caps or not? I think so. And last week I added compression knee socks, whether they make a difference or not, my legs love the feeling! As children when we wanted to run, we just ran. Now I “just run” when I am chasing after my Maltese dog and a hawk is circling. While I am doing so much to prepare for the event, I also want to take in the pure joy of running. My runs yesterday and this morning were easy to do – everything just clicked. And in this thought I have created one more mantra to add to Believe. Enjoy.


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”.