elisariva

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


10 Comments

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.

img_1063-1

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.

img_2152

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.


6 Comments

My Favorite Day

After two days off, I was ready to get back in the pool this morning. I did an easy workout – only 1,500 meters. But it sure felt good to be in the water. When we got to the pool every lane had one swimmer. As I looked for which lane I was going to ask to join, I noticed one of the guys swimming still had the temporary tattoos on his arms and calf from the race. Instead of body marking with a Sharpie, Rev3 uses temporary tattoos. One more nice thing about the organization. He was finishing at the same time and we talked a bit about how to get them off. I used packaging tape as the instructions indicated. It took several tries and some oil, but I got it off. He said it didn’t work as well for him. I guess as a woman, I will do anything possible to remove my age from my right calf before I walk around for days displaying it…

Even after resting two days, my legs were still feeling the fatigue in my quads. This evening I had a 45 minute easy run scheduled. Despite the soreness in my legs, it was a good run. Going for time rather than distance is a new training method for me. Something my trainer added for me and I like the change. Of course I measured the distance, but now I will be able to monitor how much more I will be able to run within the time prescribed while staying in my zone two and maybe a little in the lower zone three range. My legs held up well. Occasionally I would feel the soreness, but it is something I will have to work through. Just being able to run outside without the severe summer heat was so enjoyable. It is still warm, but the air has that crispness that reminds me autumn is quickly approaching.

Getting back to training without a huge race right around the corner is a good feeling. Yes, I am running a half marathon on September 28th, but that is a race in my marathon training schedule. It is a little different and I am actually finding myself thinking “it is only a half marathon…” Oh how quickly perceptions can change. My workouts today gave me energy. I can feel the endorphins bubbling up. There is not anxiety of an impending race and I have moved on from what happened in my race this past weekend. I am truly living in the moment and enjoying today. And on that note – here is some wisdom from Winnie-the-Pooh ~

“’What day is it?’
‘It’s today,’ squeaked Piglet.
‘My favorite day,’ said Pooh.” 
– A.A. Milne


18 Comments

70.3 Miles Behind Me

I was up by 5:00 this morning to get ready for the race. By 5:25 I received a tweet from the race organizers “The swim is ON. Gorgeous calm morning.” And they were telling the truth. Lake Erie was smooth as glass. It was a bit chilly in the air, but the water was 74 degrees. My wet suit kept me warm while I waited for my swim heat to go. I was in the last heat too. I don’t panic often in swims, and I didn’t today. I did have a few challenges the first 300 meters or so. I started toward the inside and about a third from the back. Several swimmers were getting close and when I would breath I would take in more water than air at times. I slowed my pace to calm down. Finally as I approached the first buoy, I got in a groove and kept with my stroke. That is when I started passing people. I even passed a few women who were in the wave ahead of me. I got out of the water in 44 minutes and change. My goal was 40, but it was still a faster swim than any of my previous half iron distance triathlons.

The bike started off well. With the storms that had been in the area, it was still windy. There were times of sunshine and times of ominous looking clouds. Fortunately the clouds were all show and it didn’t rain. My first hour was good – I road just over 17 miles. I was happy considering the wind. Then at mile 20 things changed. The elevation started picking up for the next 10 miles gradually and the wind wanted to pick up too. Two things that are out of my control, so I focused on keeping pace as best I could. Then something I had never dreamed of happened – my stomach started acting up. I have always had an iron stomach and never had to worry about race day. All of the fuel I ate and drank on the bike I had done in training regularly. I really want to figure this out because it caused me to make several adjustments. I had to stop twice on the bike at aid stations. This messed with my head, my pace, and my time. On the bike alone I waisted four minutes in port-o-potties. I finished the bike not thrilled with my time – 20 minutes slower than I had hoped for at 3:33.

The run did not change anything. First I will focus on what went right on my run. My pace when I could run (explanation soon) was between 10:30 and 11:00 minute per mile pace and my heart rate stayed in the low 130’s. My training is working and I thought several times of my trainer while running. She will be happy to know I am improving in my efficiency. If I could have done that the entire 13.1 miles, it would have made up for my not so wonderful bike time. But my stomach did not calm down. I had bad cramps and would have to walk a bit to keep moving without bending over. I also had to stop four times at the aid stations – I have no desire to go into a small blue port-o-potty for a long time after today. On the run alone I figure at least eight minutes were waisted at these stops.

As I approached the finish line, all of the aggravation momentarily left and I was able to savor the victory of completing 70.3 miles of swimming, biking, and running (while dealing with a few issues…). I did it. I was happy to finish and I know I will do another 70.3 triathlon again. I will not deny, I am not pleased with my finish time – 7:08:30. I had the training in me to do a 6:30. But it wasn’t today. A positive note – despite my difficulties, it was my second fastest time. So even in my disappointment there is something good to focus on.

As for my motivation – I did use my mantras. But something, or someone, else was more effective. I thought of four people along the way that kept me going. The first three – my training partner who couldn’t be here, my dear friend Caroline, and my new dear friend I met blogging Adrienne. And don’t you know it, they all were thinking of me – my training partner sent me a text during the race, Caroline commented on facebook as soon as I posted my results, and Adrienne tweeted out to me. When I was dragging, I thought of these ladies and how much they cared about me and my race. I pushed on so I could tell them I did it. The fourth person that got me through was my mom. Today is her birthday. It is almost two years since she died and I miss her every day. Today I took her with me and felt her love through all of the joys and challenges. So yes, even on a day when my race did not go perfectly, I still have plenty to be happy about and wonderful people in my life for which I am thankful.


8 Comments

Getting Rev’d Up The Day Before

There are two words a triathlete does not want to hear the day before a race: riptide warning. Storms came through last night and the lake was literally on a roll. The practice swim was cancelled entirely. There was a sprint tri and a kids tri scheduled for this morning. Those races turned into a 5K and one mile run respectively. Not only was the swim canceled but due to standing water on the bike course the bike was canceled too. All nerve racking news to read upon waking this morning. Since the practice swim was off I decided to run a bit to loosen up. A friend of mine was driving in this morning and I told her about the changes. She met me at the hotel and ran with me. It was such a good feeling to run with a friend. Without my training partner here it just felt a little off. Having a friend to chat with definitely helped calm my nerves.

After our run we changed and headed to the expo. There was an athletes meeting that helped me get a better understanding of what to expect with this weather. If the lake is too rough to swim, the swim will still take place in the bay on the other side of transition. A great advantage for a race to have such a close alternative. If it is in the bay, it will be a time trial start with two athletes at a time going every three to five seconds. I am still concerned about standing water on the bike course. Fortunately the weather cleared up by 10:00 this morning and the puddles should be reduced in size by tomorrow. Wind will also be something to be concerned about, but like so much else it is out of my control.

All bikes had to be checked in to transition today too. I made sure all of my race number stickers were on my bike and set it up. Rev3 does an outstanding job with transition. Volunteers walk you to your assigned space and help you set your bike up. There are no metal racks, instead there are slots with your name and number posted in front. Your bike rear wheel goes in the slot. A great way to set up transition. Here is a picture the volunteer took of me before I set my bike up.

20120908-190838.jpg

After I set my bike up (covering the seat, handlebars, and gears with plastic bags) my friend and I walked through transition to get a feel of where we should spot for our position running in from the swim and the best way to get out and in on the bike and run. Finally I made it to the merchandise tent and picked up a few items with the race logo. Before leaving the expo there was one picture my friend and I had to take in front of the race semi truck…

20120908-191250.jpg

To cap off the day we met up with a large group from the Cleveland Triathlon Club for dinner at a local Italian restaurant. I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk with other athletes. Some very seasoned and others competing in their first long course. All with interesting stories of their race experiences. My nerves would come and go, but I was able to bring a calming feeling from the energy of the group. A reminder that even though triathlon is an individual competitor sport, I am not alone in this endeavor. We encourage one another in our own personal successes. And that is a good thing.


5 Comments

Travel To Tri

As a storm system moved in from the west this afternoon, I headed out driving right through it. The drive should be about an hour and a half to Sandusky from where I live. The rain wasn’t too bad and I made it in about 1:45. Revolution 3, or Rev3 for short, organizes very family friendly races with Cedar Point in Sandusky being the only race of the series to have a full 140.6 course along with a half iron distance. The other races are Olympic distance and half iron.

The last eight miles of my drive is along a causeway to the park. For those reading who are not familiar, Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio is a very large and highly acclaimed amusement park. With this being the third year in a row to participate in the half iron distance race, memories abound. The bike course starts and finishes along the causeway, so driving in brought excitement and nerves. Here is a view that will be my return ride in.

20120907-201202.jpg

Once I got to the park I went to the expo first to pick up my packet.

20120907-201310.jpg

20120907-201331.jpg
I was surprised at how long the line was with this being the first day and registration had been open for three hours. The rain must have delayed people, fortunately it had stopped before I arrived. After I picked up my race number and timing chip I headed over to pick up my SWAG bag. (stuff we all get – clever acronym) The best goodies are the visor with the race logo and really nice goggles by Blueseventy.

After I had my race items, I wet to the hotel to get situated. I am staying right in the park and the swim start is right infront of my room. Here is a shot of the buoys from the beach.

20120907-202157.jpg

Today was a rest day and I am glad I was able to fill it with the drive and expo visit. My nerves come and go, having activities helps me remain calm. As I headed to dinner I took a picture of Lake Erie with one of the rides to the side. A beautiful view to cap a good day.

20120907-202624.jpg


4 Comments

Making a List

I have not hidden the fact I am a type A person and like things in order. To help me not get too stressed out preparing for my race, I made a list today of everything I have to do before I leave tomorrow afternoon. The only challenge to this method is now I have a list to read and see how much I still have to do… The anxiety starts to return. Fortunately I am driving, so I have flexibility on when I leave. Unfortunately my training partner is not able to make the race after all of the training she put in. A lifetime friend of her’s father passed away and the funeral is this weekend. One more reminder to enjoy the days we are given and appreciate those dear to us.

Because this is a big race not far from home, quite a few of my friends are racing as well so I will still be in good company. I am starting to get text messages and facebook posts from other friends wishing me luck this weekend. Friends add so much to make life sweeter, just a brief note can make a huge impact. It also helps take the edge off of the anxiety and nerves. Just yesterday a friend I saw at the gym asked me which part of the race I like the best. I told her the run because it is the one sport that the least can go wrong… no waves or rough water, I don’t have to be concerned about my bike malfunctioning or hitting a pothole. On the run I just have to deal with the fatigue, which I have a better control over. I enjoy the entire experience, but the feeling of heading out on the run from transition is exhilarating. Even with cramps and sore legs, the last 400 meters approaching the finish line and crossing the time mat gives such a bolt of energy and feeling of accomplishment. A memory to replay over and over in my mind, a pictorial mantra of sorts, to get me through the race.

This morning I ran three miles in the humid morning air. I took it easy and felt good. I don’t think it was my last run before the race, I plan on running a few miles Saturday to loosen up. The weather forecast looks like it just may cooperate. Sunday does have a chance of rain – 10% to 30% depending on the weather reporting source – but cooler temperatures. Mid 60’s with overcast skies would be perfect – and 5 mile per hour or less winds. But these are things I can not control. But I do have extra gear for rainy weather to pack on my list just in case…