elisariva

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


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Resolve

In 2012 I made a resolution to blog every day, and on this site I did just that. This year, I wanted to make sure I wrote a post at least once a month. With this post I am accomplishing it as this is my December post. December 31st brings ideas of the future plans and reflections of the year past. I have written many times about seizing the day and enjoying each moment, this is something I continue to embrace but I am not hesitant to wish 2013 farewell. So much happened that really made this year stink. That said, I also have grown so much emotionally and spiritually. Several landmark events have set me on a path that I am anxious to follow.

Reflecting on my fitness accomplishments this past year, I swam 338,738.9 meters (210.5 miles), cycled 1,508.9 miles, ran 707.9 miles, and hiked 16.4 miles for a total of 2,443.7 miles. The same distance from my home to San Francisco. While my distances were less than I had planned this time last year, I am very pleased with what I accomplished.

And now to look forward – the greatest lesson I learned in 2013 is that each day is a gift. My natural instinct is to plan ahead, set goals, and follow the plan. Oh, if life only allowed this to happen! The planning nature in me will most likely remain, however I have learned to first focus on today while glancing up at the horizon. My biggest goal for 2014 is to complete my first Ironman triathlon on September 28th in Chattanooga, TN. With this on the horizon, my training plan beginning in late February will be geared toward this day. My hope is that life occurrences will cooperate.

I usually do make a few resolutions each year, most focused on improving myself in some way. Before I share, I want to look at what it means. Resolution is defined as a firm decision to do or not to do something. Resolve, in a similar manner, is defined as a firm determination to do something. Not only is it a decision, but it is firm and with determination. With that, here are my top three:

  1. Live in the moment each day appreciating it. Each day brings a sunrise, sometimes the clouds hide it, but it does not hide the fact that it exists. There is always something to find joy in each day.
  2. Make the most of each workout, whether a hard one or a recovery, with the focus on making improvements each time.
  3. Learn something each day – from reading, listening, or experiencing.

Of course I have more detailed goals as well, but those can change in the blink of an eye. Regardless of the curve balls that may come my way, I should still be able to maintain these three.

Here is to 2014 – may all reading this have a wonderful year, made up of 365 awesome days!


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Rev3 Florida Recap

I have learned so much this year as a result of the ups and downs I have experienced. One thing that stands out is that I truly believe in the phrase “never say never.” After all I dealt with, by late August I was beginning to think I would never do a triathlon during 2013. Fortunately I was wrong! Earlier this month I was able to travel to Venice, Florida and participate in the Revolution 3 Florida Olympic Distance Triathlon. Five other friends of mine also participated, in all two of us did the Oly and four did the 70.3 “Half Rev”.

Venice, Florida is a wonderful location for a triathlon. Located on the Gulf Coast about an hour north of Fort Meyers, the weather was perfect and the people very welcoming. A retirement community, there was an abundance of seniors happily volunteering at the expo and on race day. I really can’t say a bad thing about the location, a very good choice!

Professional photo by EricWinn.org taken from Rev3 Facebook album.

Professional photo by EricWinn.org taken from Rev3 Facebook album.

Saturday we had to get our bikes set up in transition. Before heading to dinner for pasta and pizza, we stopped and dropped the bikes off. Of all the triathlons I have done, this was by far the most beautiful view for transition.

Transition on the beach.

Transition on the beach.

Race morning went smooth – while I was not able to race earlier this year, I did go to Virginia to support my friends racing Rev3 Williamsburg. I noticed my friends were pretty calm and laid back race morning. Sure there were some race jitters, but they did not allow themselves to be overwhelmed with anxiety. I remembered this and learned from them.  Also being with the same group in Florida helped keep me calm!

The Swim. The water was 76 degrees and wet suit legal for the age groupers. I decided to wear a short john wet suit instead of a full. It is easier to get off and with the warm water I didn’t need the full suit to keep me warm. Not only was the water warm, it was calm! My wave was the very last wave to go, so I had plenty of time to warm up and also watch my friends go off in their waves. Going into the race I was hoping to swim the 1,500 meters in 32 minutes. My swim felt good – I did not feel anxious at all and I was happy to see I was passing a few people that went off in the wave before me. I exited the water and hit lap on my watch as I crossed the time pad, 32:47, not too far off. Out of 66 people in my wave, I was 23rd out of the water – in my age group I was 5th out of 12. All of the work I have put into swimming over the past two years has paid off!

 Transition One. After exiting the water, we had a decent jog to get into transition. I made it to my bike fine, got my wet suit off quickly, took a gel and a puff of my inhaler, and with shoes and helmet on I jogged my bike out of transition. For those reading who are not familiar with the rules of triathlon, there are two that came into play at this point for me. First – a triathlete can not mount the bike until out of transition and past a specific marked line. Second – any assistance taken by a triathlete can result in a penalty or disqualification. Keeping these two rules in mind, I hit the lap button on my watch as I exited transition (4:41 including the jog from the shore into transition) to officially start my bike time and continued to jog my bike to the mount line. My Garmin 910XT has several screens and the one that came up was not the one I wanted to have while I rode. As I jogged my bike I changed screens on my watch and then I felt my left foot slip out from under me. I fell right on my bum – hard. Amazingly my bike did not fall. Several volunteers and medics came running to me. As I jumped up I was yelling “don’t help me!” I didn’t want a penalty and knew I could get up. Without touching me, one medic wanted to make sure I was okay. She asked me my name, if I knew where I was, where I am from, what I am doing, etc… Finally I said “I fell on my ass, not my head. Can I get to the mount line?” She chuckled and walked with me to the mount like. I was a little sore, but I knew I could finish.

 The Bike. As I mounted the bike and rode off, I heard a big cheer from the crowd. I waved and smiled to myself – sympathy cheers for a bum crash. My goal for the bike was to maintain 17 miles per hour. I knew I did not have the strength nor training in to go faster. The course was flat with some wind in places. My first mile was 4:45 thanks to my little fall, but after that I was on a roll. Literally. The volunteers and police along the course were fantastic. My favorite “cheerleader” was an elderly man banging a metal spoon and a loaf pan. Loved it. The actual distance was long, the race organizers acknowledged it. Rather than a true 40 kilometer course (24.85 miles) it was 25.6 miles long.  I entered transition, lapping my watch (and stayed vertical) with 1:30:18 on my watch – 17.01 miles per hour.

 Transition Two. It was much smoother getting in and through transition two! No troubles, I put my bike in the rack, took off my helmet, changed shoes, put my visor on and grabbed my water bottle and a gel. The only thing I regret not doing was grabbing my inhaler too. It was humid and I paid for it on the run. I headed out of transition and hit lap (again staying vertical) with a T2 time of 2:27.

The Run. The sun came out and the wind died down. It was hot and humid! Again, I did not know what to expect with my times since I had a hard time this summer and fall. I would have loved to maintain a pace of 11:30 per mile. A little cramping and difficulty breathing slowed my pace. It didn’t matter – I thought as I ran – “I am doing this! A triathlon in the toughest year I have ever had health wise. Unbelievable!” It was easy to smile, my friends were on the course and I saw them on the run as I did one loop and they did two. I crossed the finish line with a final 10K time of 1:16:28 (12:18 minute miles, yikes!) and an overall time of 3:26:40. I later realized that this time was 46 seconds shy of a personal record – crazy! Technically I could say it was a PR – if the course was a true 40K I would have been 2 minutes faster. It doesn’t matter what the clock read – I finished a race I didn’t think I was going to even start.

Swim, Bike, Run, Fun!

Swim, Bike, Run, Fun!

That evening my friends and I celebrated one friend’s birthday and the finish of a great race. I truly have much to celebrate. It has been a challenging year, but the good far out weighs the bad. The best part? Sharing the experience with friends. Come on, who wouldn’t have fun with this group of people?

Celebration!

Celebration!

Seize the day, that I did. And there are more to come!


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Einstein and Iron

To say this year has been a challenging year for me would be a bit of an understatement. In reflection, I am reminded of a quote by Albert Einstein –

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning.”

Lessons From Yesterday
Since the middle of February I have faced one thing after another as far as my health goes. In total I think I have had four weeks with no issues. For the most part I knew what the ailments were, sometimes how it would be resolved was a mystery, but there was no guessing what was going on. Until now. From mid July through the end of August I dealt with a rather painful issue that thankfully resolved itself. For a week I was cautiously hopeful the tide had changed and I was back to normal. Not so quick – I started feeling pain again and I thought my issue had resurfaced. Nope – this is something else. What it is, is the question. I know a few things that it is not as I have been through several tests and procedures including a few ending in “omy” and “opy”. My medical vocabulary has greatly expanded this year for sure. Beyond that, I have learned much about myself – what matters most, what I am able to tolerate, who truly has my back, and just how much patience I really have. (Learning a lot on how to work on patience…)

Living for Today
As for my fitness, I am able to swim, cycle, and run again. In fact, that is when I feel the least amount of pain. Because of the set backs I have been through, my endurance is greatly reduced – especially on the bike and on the run. I am gradually building back my strength and endurance though. I am able to swim 3,000 meters or run 60 minutes before work and still be alert all day – progress. The idea of two a days makes me want to take a nap, but I am hoping to build up to it in a few weeks.

I have done my fair share of questioning. Not only to healthcare professionals, but also the “why me’s”. What is, is. What it is – well, that will come in time. This is when I have to truly live one day at a time and seize each moment, not just the day. World and local news have shown us how life can change, or end, in the blink of an eye. The little annoyances that once irked me are becoming even smaller. Time is short, I don’t want to waist it on trivial matters. So I am choosing to prioritize what matters most. My training is a huge part of my life and brings me great joy. Being able to train along side my fabulous friends makes the moments priceless. Taking time to share a meal and wonderful conversations with family members and friends – far better than eating on a snack tray and watching TV. Taking a moment to be thankful for the multitude of blessings that have been bestowed on me. Even spending my quiet down time with my furry friends adds seasonings to life.

My Hope For My Tomorrow
Being a planner, I have registered for two races next year.  Just two.  One in June and one in September.  June 1, 2014 is Ironman Raleigh 70.3 – IowaTriBob challenged me to do a race with him and I gladly took on the challenge. It is halfway for both of us as I am in Cleveland and he is in Tampa. I look forward to the experience and meeting Bob and his family in person. On September 28, 2014 – one year from today – I will tackle a challenge I have questioned if I ever could complete – a full Ironman. I have completed four half iron distance triathlons, yet the full 140.6 has seemed so daunting to me. That will change, I am registered for Ironman Chattanooga. Fortunately at least three of my friends will also be taking on the challenge. The training, travel and actual race will be an experience of a lifetime. My goals? Enjoy, apply my abilities, and finish!

I also have many hopes that are out of my control – good health, all my loved ones are with me a year from now, and all that the heart desires. I am going to continue to seeks answers to what could be ailing me, but I will not be brought down by it. As long as I am able to maintain my active lifestyle, I will push on.


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Find a Way

My favorite type of motivation comes from overcoming trials. All major accomplishments are motivating, but when it is achieved after enduring difficulty makes it all the more sweeter. Diana Nyad’s successful swim from Cuba to Florida is just the kind of motivation that gives me hope all things are possible.

Consider these facts – she is a she – a woman attempting to swim without a shark cage 110 miles in shark and jelly fish infested waters. She is 64! This was her fifth attempt. Her first attempt was in 1978 – seven years before Michael Phelps was born. Despite her failed attempts, her age, the distance, and the risks – she didn’t give up and she did it. This morning when she was interviewed on “CBS This Morning” she said her mantra through the swim was “find a way.” She had a mantra! No wonder I am so impressed by her.

Also, yesterday she was quoted saying:

“I have three messages. One is, we should never, ever give up. Two is, you’re never too old to chase your dream. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team” – Diana Nyad

How often do we hear people complain that they tried something and it didn’t “work out” so they gave up? Or that they think they are too old to do something? And of course there is also the complaint that “it” could never could be done alone. Nyad didn’t give up, age just was not an issue to her, and although she did the swimming she admits her success was possible because of her team. Despite the odds she found a way.

After all I have dealt with this year (and still dealing…) this success story gave me motivation to keep on. So much is possible to over come. The secret? Don’t give up, age is not an issue when dreams are at stake, and be surrounded by a team that shares the dream. And above all else find a way.


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Challenged But Not Defeated

I recently came across Gibson’s Daily Running Quotes on Facebook. The name says it all. Wednesday afternoon the following quote was posted:

“It’s not all been rosy; I’ve had difficult situations where I’ve failed. But when you fail you learn a lot about yourself and come back stronger. The message is: life need not have limits. Having an opportunity in life is important but what defines you is what you do with that opportunity.”

– Richard Whitehead, British double leg amputee and Paralympic gold medalist

Oh and by the way, Whitehead is currently in the process of running 40 marathons in 40 days to raise money for Sarcoma UK and Scope. After the quote, the following picture is posted:

challenged no defeated

The quote in the picture is what caught my attention when it comes to my current situation. Whitehead’s quote brings motivation to life on many levels.

During my workouts this week I accepted two realities that are challenges, but not defeats. I am no longer able to ride the stationary bike or swim until my health situation is resolved. I haven’t been able to ride on the roads for a few weeks, so giving up the stationary bike was not hard to accept. Not being able to swim – that is a bitter pill to swallow. Swimming has been my most challenging sport and I have come to love being in the water. I have spent so much time in the pool working on stroke, efficiency, and endurance that I feel invigorated just jumping in.

It is not a defeat at all though. It is a temporary reality I have to accept if I want to come back stronger. I certainly am learning a lot about myself through this – while my physical strength is affected my will and resolve have grown stronger. “What am I supposed to learn from this challenge?” has become a daily thought and I learn something new every day.

Challenges and limitations as much as successes and strengths all bring opportunity. Whitehead nailed it by saying “what defines you is what you do with that opportunity.” Accepting defeat is definitely one thing that will not define me. Even if I am not able to experience the opportunity from the water. For now.


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Two Steps Forward…

A treadmill can be a necessary evil to many runners. For winter speed work and tempo runs I have accepted the “mill” as a tool to help me accomplish a goal. Even when I am going nowhere spinning my wheels. There are also times when I find myself outside running yet feeling like I am spinning my wheels. My run Sunday started just that way. I had a lot on my mind, mostly issues I thought I had left in the past. With less than a mile logged on my Garmin, I knew I had to find a way to change my thought process or it was going to be a “going nowhere” run.

At my 1.15 mile mark along my run I pass the home of one of my dearest friends. To my joyous surprise her car was parked in her drive – I had expected her to be out running. I decided to swing by and vent my frustrations to her. Being the awesome friend she is, she threw on her running clothes and ran the rest of my run with me. We talked over my issue, we talked about her busy schedule, we talked about my health issues and some of the expectations to resolve this soon, and we ran together. This was so special to me on so many levels. I was touched that she ran with me – at my slow pace. She is capable of running an easy run at least two to three minutes per mile faster than me. She listened, she empathized, and she ran. We left our frustrations on the pavement behind us with every step.

Part of what had been disturbing me was I have moved past the issue that out of no where was sucking the joy out of me again. My friend reminded me that sometimes after two steps forward there can be one step back. Fortunately I was able to make it a very short step back and be on my merry way forward. I wish I could say the same for my training volume…

Slowing down when I am already a relatively slow athlete is not something I happily embrace. On the other hand, I have learned to listen to my body before it starts screaming at me. Until my healthy situation is resolved, I have to stop cycling all together. Swimming and running I am able to do, but I have had to reduce the intensity both in the pool and on the run. Five miles seems to be my threshold lately running and speed and tempo runs are shelved for a while. A bit of a step back, but I know it is only for a relatively short time.

Progress is often considered to be something that can be measured. Unfortunately life is not linear, so neither will progress move in one direction. Sometimes just treading water is progress if it prevents a back slide. Sometimes taking slow steps forward with the encouragement of a friend, despite the looming clouds of life, becomes the two steps forward to see the sun peeking over the horizon.

Sunrise on Lake Erie - my friend took this just before an open water swim practice.

Sunrise on Lake Erie – my friend took this just before an open water swim practice.


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True Grit

The publishers of Runner’s World Magazine also publish a magazine titled Prevention. More women may be familiar with it than men – the target market is focused toward “mature” women. Regardless of age or sex, it does offer quite a bit of helpful information about exercise, nutrition, and life balance. In fact the sub title each month reads “Love Your Whole Life.” Who could argue with that phrase?

I just received my September issue of Prevention and at the back there is a section called “Postscript” that features a motivational quote. For September it is titled “Toughen Up”. The quote says that working out is more than physical, that:

…It’s a powerful tool for gaining confidence, willpower and grit. Grit is that inner toughness that gets you through life’s hiccups and heartbreaks. It gives you strength to push through the impossible…

Now, more readers may be familiar with the movie True Grit. The original with John Wayne as well as the remake with Jeff Bridges. Both played Rooster Cogburn who had True Grit – meaning courage and strength of mind.

Whether a motivational quote to workout or a description of a person – grit has to come from within. Inner toughness, strength of mind, courage, even faith – all forces that can only come from within a person. Heck, even The Wizard of Oz couldn’t give the lion courage, only show him where to find it. Like muscle, grit has to be exercised to be built up and strengthened. I do see the correlation between working out building a body as well as confidence, willpower, grit. Each time a swim stroke is improved, a hill climbed on a bike, or a speed workout at the track accomplished – the body and mind are strengthened. With that, the next challenge doesn’t always seem as daunting. The body has done it before and the courage (in heart as well as mind) is there as well.

Life leads us down paths that offer the opportunities to toughen up. Hiccups, heartbreaks, or hills – inner toughness – true grit – will give me strength to push through.


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Pacing to The Beat of a Different Drummer… Or Tempo Trainer… Or iPod

Pace yourself – two words every athlete has heard, regardless if it is a newbie or experienced professional. Frequently it is said by someone other than one’s self. When it comes from within, it usually takes longer to admit. For me, I have heard it from both sources, however it took me a while to catch up.

In early June I had what I thought was a brief set back. By early July I was at a point that I was able to build back my endurance and strength. My running coach modified my training plan accordingly. I was pacing myself based on the thought all was back to normal. By mid July that changed. The last five weeks I have slowly come to accept I have to pace myself according to how I feel. I could no longer keep pace with my expectations.

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” Henry David Thoreau

This quote truly frames what I had to do. In order to change my pace in swimming, I had to go back to my tempo trainer. This little device has become my drummer. Through trial and error I have come to learn that when swimming freestyle taking a stroke every 1.15 seconds is optimal for me – given all of my variables. I had slowed my stroke down when I first used the tempo trainer last year, however I stopped using it and swimming with others has influenced my pace a bit. Too fast of a turnover stroke or body rotation is not good for me right now. If I want to stay in the pool, I have to slow down – my stroke at least. Water is a very different medium than land – a slow efficient stroke done properly actually helps the swimmer go faster. A bonus is I am consistent with my times now and the numbers geek in me loves it. I count my strokes, keeping pace to the beep of the tempo trainer, and work on elongating my glide. To consistently break 2 minutes per 100 meters I need to keep my strokes to 22 or less. I am between 22 and 24 right now.

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My little drummer/tempo trainer

Running is a little different for me. My endurance was basically decimated and I thought I could jump back in right away. I was covering the distance, however my pace was far slower than I expected. My long runs were building from 7 to 10 miles and I got to the point I dreaded my long run, I just didn’t have the gas in me. I had to accept that my long run had to start at 5 miles. I wanted 10… Once I convinced myself I had to – yes – pace myself, I began enjoying running again. My iPod nano also has become a good running partner. I have heard the arguments for and against running with music and I have run both ways. Lately, playing music has helps keep my pace going and motivates me on.

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my current podcast preference

My different drummer is telling me to pace myself based on my current abilities and situation. These are unchartered waters for me. I have always had a race on the calendar that dictated my pace. Now my calendar has switched from month (or year) view to day view. One more reminder to seize the day, it is all that is in view.

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My choice of drums


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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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Time To Write Again

Frequently I start a post and have no idea what I am about to write. Today that has never rang truer. As the words unfold we both will experience something new.

First, I do feel obligated to address my absence. I prefer to keep the details private, a few close friends and bloggers know. When I last wrote two months ago I had been through a rough patch. I had written “…today is a better day and the future looks bright and promising.” This was true – until the other shoe dropped. Let’s just say this has not been my year. Yes, it is health related. No, it is not terminal. Yes, it is painful. The resolution remains a blur, but I am beginning to gain focus. A common subject I write about is finding joy in every day. The past two months have challenged me on this, but I continue to believe there is joy in even the darkest days.

Second, I am able to train – or shall I say workout? Training conjures images of a race that I am preparing for in the future. While there still are three races I am registered for, getting to the start line is part of the blur. I truly am living one day at a time now. Swimming and running I am able to do, although with a few limitations. Cycling, unfortunately, has been confined to a spin bike. Weight lifting and resistance training are shelved for now. I am grateful to be able to sweat, get my heart rate up, and release those wonderful endorphins.

Third, my friends continue to amaze me with their awesomeness. It would take a months worth of post to explain how awesome they are to me. I am blessed.

Well – there it is. My post. Any more and I will go from misty eyed to falling tears. I miss writing. My motivation is returning. I hope to be back to my regular writing. As with endorphins, writing releases happiness in my brain.

Before signing off, I do want to share some of my joy. I have written many times about my running coach (and dear friend) but never mentioned her name. Well, Heidi has entered the blog world and I want to share her awesomeness with you. Her blog is Heidi Jo Green and I am plugging her purely out of the love in my heart. She is getting her blog up and running and soon you too may want to seek her as a coach!

Thank you all for reading, I have missed you.

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With Heidi at the Rock and Roll Half Marathon DC in March.