elisariva

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


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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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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.

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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…

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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.