fitness and nutrition

Taking the Plunge

One of 2020 goals was to complete a triathlon. I registered and started training and then, you guessed it, COVID. Postponed until 2021.

A lot of life changed between mid-2020 and now. Still, I kept that race on my calendar and wondered at times if I should still give it a go. The swim was the weakest of my weak spots and I had not really done anything to train it. I happened to be at a lake the week before the race and swam for 20 minutes without touching bottom. It was slow, but I did it. I also completed a 10K successfully the week before the triathlon was scheduled. With those things in mind, I decided to give it a go.

A triathlon is a strange race. So much different than a show-up-and-lace-up-and-get-running 10K. There’s so much equipment, so many rules (a 24-page rule book!) There’s transitions to think about and plan for. There are referees, penalties, even disqualification. All this made me incredibly nervous. I read, made lists, planned, packed, and off I went. Brought my precious facebook marketplace bike in from my car and tucked it in. I was up half the night wondering if my decades-old helmet would meet the standards. Finally, 5:00 am came.

I double checked my list, had some hotel room coffee and off I went. Transition is such a madhouse. By the time I arrived there were already hundreds of bikes hung from racks. A lady saw me in my confusion, forcefully grabbed my bike and told me where to put my towel and transition setup. Everything was tight. You get about 12 x 18 inches to lay out your running shoes, socks, running belt, clothes, and anything else you need. If your space is too big or you block someone else it’s a penalty. Nerve wracking. Timing chip on my left ankle. Race number in permanent ink on both my biceps. My race age on the back of my leg. Now the long wait to start.

One of the reasons I chose this race was the waterslide start. Yes, you waterslide one at a time into a river then start the swim. This made for about a 30 minute wait after the first person started. But, it is better than the scary start-in-a-pack situations I have read about. There were maybe 50 people behind me. I met a couple of other first-time-tri-ers as we waited. We shared out nerves, our whys, and our training for the race. Finally, it was time for me to jump in and hit the course.

I confess, I can move in the water but I only kinda know how to swim in any systematic stroke. I can’t freestyle so I alternated between a sort of breaststroke and backstroke. People passed me many times as I made my way down the course, passing one buoy then another. Just keep going. I finally got out of the water and made my way to transition, being careful not to get hit by bikes on their way out.

I was one of the last to pick up my bike, so it wasn’t very crazy. The first people were already returning from the 14 mile bike. Helmet on almost first thing (that’s a disqualification if you get on your bike with no helmet.) Shirt, shoes, race belt with energy chews, water bottle, etc. etc. Finally I cross the mount line and I am off.

Bike riding is a peace place for me. Just gliding along. Had some energy blocks and hydration. Tried to keep it around 12 miles an hour which is a good pace for me. Looked around. Thanked police and security. Glide glide glide. I missed having my phone but taking pics would have slowed me down. Playing music or having headphones in is cause for disqualification – this was one of the hardest parts!

Finally, the run. This transition was much simpler. Just hang the bike and helmet, grab a water and go. Seeing people who had already finished was sort of hard but also motivating. Just keep going and it will be me, too.

Well, this second transition was logistically simpler, but physically this transition is rough rough rough. Trading the speed and relative ease of biking for the slow plod of running is a shock to the system. I just had to pace it out and keep going. This was hillier than I had anticipated and I just walked up the hills and didn’t worry over it. I met several people who were just walking the whole 5K. It was an out-and-back so I cheered on every one who was still on the course. I passed my two friends from the start line on my way back to the finish. We were going to do it!

Finally, I came up the hill and saw the finish line, so I broke my rule and jogged in. I jumped and slid down the finish slide and got my medal. After a minute to regroup, I went and waited for my new friends at the finish. I cheered them in. What a great feeling, to be a triathlete!

Did I place? No. Do I care? No. I didn’t specifically train, although I am active…but I was still just thankful to have made it through. Completion was the goal. I cheered for the winners. I gathered my things and slowly made my way back to the car.

I have never smelled as bad after a race as I did after this triathlon. It was a long 4 hour drive to the farm. Everyone who saw me in town and on the road seemed to know what I had done. Was it the medal? The numbers on my arms? (The smell?) Who knows. But lots of congratulations. Lots of reasons to smile and feel accomplished.

I would definitely do another one. I’d even train for it. Maybe even take swimming lessons. I have some people I’d like to do one with so that gives me something to look forward to. It was amazing and strange and memorable all in one. And I’ll always be able to say I have done it.

challenges, fitness and nutrition

Running Uphill

“There’s never a good reason to run uphill.”

I said this to a running buddy as we were rolling through the early miles of a half marathon. During the many miles of training and training, I realized that I burn so much more energy going uphill. Instead, now I use it as a break. A chance to catch my breath. I just keep on walking and walking uphill, then run again once it flattens out.

Well, I stand corrected.

The other day I ran uphill in the parking lot outside my gym. It was a part of the annual Murph workout, the traditional way CrossFitters honor Memorial Day. There’s a mile run at the beginning and a mile run at the end and a whole bunch of other stuff in between.

Originally, I planned to pull out my AirPods so I had a distraction during those miles. I hate running without music. Whenever I run, I put on my favorite running playlist to tune out the pain. But then I thought about the reason we are doing Murph, to remember the fallen who have given the ultimate sacrifice, and I decided instead of tuning out the pain, I would tune into it. Tune in to the purpose. Tune in to the discomfort. Tune in to the labor and even the heartbreak of it all.

So I did. I thought about the soldiers. The meaning. What I have because of what they gave up. I thought about their families, their buddies, brothers, mourning, suffering, toiling but continuing on.

So I continued. I loved that one of my gal pals came up and ran the last lap with me. She gave me a pep talk about her grandfather who was an Army Ranger and using his memory and mantra to keep going.

Once I was done, one of the women who completed it with me brought me a fancy champagne glass of water to toast the moment and refresh. Then, I turned around and cheered for my friends who were doing it after. Noticing their efforts. Hoping to give them a lift.

Then I think of the many with PTSD, with depression, substance abuse, lingering effects of the time and service they gave. There are many who are running uphill every day without us even knowing it. Burning out their energies just to keep going. If you are someone who is running uphill, I hope you can find a way to pause and walk for a while to catch your breath. And that a good friend joins you on the path for the journey to keep you inspired, positive, and moving forward. I hope someone thinks enough to offer you cool refreshment.

There are very few good reasons to run uphill. Once in a while, it happens that we have to. If you are running uphill each day in any way, I am cheering for you, hoping to give you a lift.

adventure

T Time

Tee time can refer to golf. Tea time can refer to a high tea event. Tea time can refer to chats that involve dishing out the “tea” or gossip as my teen would say. However, for purposes of this post I’m referring to the T in tennis.

T time is on Tuesdays. Tuesday t time is a special time for the girls to get together play a little tennis for fun. Maybe hydrate with some adult beverages. Maybe enjoy a sideline picnic of sorts. But surely there are giggles and shenanigans in all directions.

No matter who shows up, Tuesdays are a ton of fun. Memories are always made and for some progress can be seen in mastering or learning the game. For some picking up the racquet for the first time is their big accomplishment. Others work on fine tuning their serve. Some even enjoy keeping score or watching. 

Two courts are normally buzzing with players. Lights go on at some point making the evening last longer. Competition is in the air to an extent. For some it’s competition with themselves, to others it’s a team ego challenge. At the end of the night everyone laughs at the shenanigans. The next date is planned and all normally sleep well after the long day.

Some interesting points:

A few ladies curse up and down the court. 

One curses in Spanish in hopes nobody understands.

Outfits range from sassy tennis flair to hot mess don’t even go to Walmart with that outfit looks.

Some carry fancy tennis bags some carry a cooler.

Sometimes kids tag along, other times not.

All have day jobs making the time a great evening release of energy or stress.

This group has had so much fun the past few weeks they have now joined a pairs entry level circuit. Now the adventures, attitudes, and competition will surely escalate.

Stay tuned for more t time updates!

friendship

The Mud Bowl

It was planned for a Saturday weeks in advance. A kickball game for a very special friend’s birthday. An outdoor picnic and just fun for all. 

The weather had other plans. 2 days of torrential rain. Mud puddles everywhere but a break in the rain drops just as the party begins. Many opt not to show. Some opt to wear boots. Others opt to watch. The die hard thrill seekers show up ready to play. In the end the birthday girl was happy to have a muddy game and time with friends which is all that mattered.

This was an adventure nobody planned but a fun one at that. All ages played from kids to adults. Some more competitive than others. An orange glow was among everyone’s hands and feet that ventured onto the playing field. Break time was called about mid way through the event. A time out of sorts that should have promoted good sportsmanship.

Time for cake and munchies. Maybe a little conversation. Nope not for this group. The cake eating turned into a cake fight on a whim. Blue frosting and red frosting smeared across faces, in ears, on clothing, and so on. For those who didn’t get caked, they either ran for hiding or just left. It was a sight to see. Some ran faster than I’ve ever seen. 

Then there was the washroom experience. This is where everyone washed the cake smashes off of each other as most were covered pretty good. The recovery was quick and back to the game play we went.

A few took nose dives into the mud. One down the first base line. This was extra funny as he only joined the games in the second half as it looked drier! Another laid flat out on his back with a foul kick. He said getting old did him in on that one.

Of course we didn’t catch them on camera. Some completely missed the ball they attempted to kick. Others just watched or played umpire. Or took selfies of themselves on the phone that was left out….

There might have even been a dancer on the side lines performing a show to the music that was playing. It was about 3 hours of chaos, commraderie, fun, giggles, tears of joy, screams and so much more.

It’s great to be outside again. Among friends. Playing. Enjoying company and activities without so many rules. Spring 2021 is already better than spring 2020.

Kickball, dodgeball, softball, I live to play them all. I love them even more when I get to share the experience with friends or makeshift teammates.

fitness and nutrition

What’s your motivation?

Walking toward the back of the gym, the question came out of nowhere:

“What’s your motivation?”

A newish member of the class. I’d only really exchanged hellos, good jobs, and smiles with him and his daughter. So the question caught me off guard.

“What’s your motivation?”

I must have looked puzzled. So he went on…

“You work harder than anyone in here. I talk about it with my daughter. I want to know what motivates you.”

My heart kind of swelled in that moment. what to say? I told him I used to weigh 313 pounds. Both my parents died too young from choices they made. I’m trying to live longer to be there for my family. To change that history. I told him I also work out to bust stress.

He smiled and said congratulations and keep at it.

I often feel like I blend in. Hide in plain sight. I don’t lift the most weight by a long show. I can’t do the advanced gymnastics movements. I figure most people notice me when I’m dancing or singing or tripping over something (often!)

I may never get those fancy coordinated movements. I may never lift as much as most do. But to be noticed and seen as someone who works. Who tries. Who puts in the effort. There are few greater compliments I could receive.

It was also a great reminder of my “why.” These dragging-on days can make it easy to forget my purpose.

This was also a reminder to give someone that compliment. Pay attention when others strive and just say it. You never know who might need to hear that verbal applause. I walked a little taller the rest of the day and remembered that I never know who is watching.

Keep doing the work. Someone notices. someone sees. Someone is inspired.

What’s your motivation?