I first met Wendy when we were both getting our masters degrees in creative writing. She is an exquisite, sensitive and wonderful writer. We were in a writing group together for over a decade. She is a beautiful soul.
Wendy has written poetry, creative nonfiction and blogged about her experience as caregiver for her elderly mother, and as a survivor of infant surgery, from way back in the day when babies who were operated on had no anesthesia and little comfort. It is an experience that can ripple out for a lifetime.
She has recently been sharing her experiences in wider and wider circles – in the medical humanities field, and with individuals, survivors, health professionals and family members of those who have not only had surgery as infants, but who have had other types of trauma. She is a true healer, a generous spirit in every sense of the word. I have been so fortunate to have known her. Last year, at my Stories of the Body retreat, she helped people tell their body’s stories through simple drawing. Soon she will be launching a service where she will be offering guidance to others.
I returned last night from an intense four and a half day trip to New York. It really made me think a lot about the challenge of staying healthy while traveling. I’d say, on balance, I’d give myself a B+ or maybe even a C- during this trip. Overall, it was kind of like a game of Fortunately/Unfortunately.
Unfortunately, I spent two and a half days sitting on my butt at a conference. Fortunately, it was a fantastic conference. And also fortunately, it was in New York City so it involved quite a bit of walking, getting there and then getting around afterward.
Unfortunately, I was crossing from West to East coast, and that always wreaks complete havoc on my biorhythms. It is TOUGH to wake up the first few days I am back East. Fortunately, I really think that my Sleep Time app helped me! I woke up much more bright eyed and bushy tailed than I can ever remember doing when going East.
Unfortunately, I indulged in a little more alcohol than I am used to. I think the fact that I wasn’t driving at all (and hanging out with friends I rarely see, and feeling very… umm.. festive) may have contributed to this.
Fortunately, I was able to make some fairly decent food choices. There was a place around the corner from where I was staying that featured a wonderful breakfast of yogurt, fruit and granola. I had this exact same breakfast more than once.
Fortunately, I was able to continue my Yoga-A-Day Pose. Unfortunately, I only did it one day. Here I am bridging in my friend’s kitchen.
So unfortunately, there were a lot of things that were less than ideal while I was traveling. But fortunately, I kept track of what I was doing. And the less-than-active days spurred me to take my last full day and do a really, really long (and beautiful) run. Which I really needed.
On balance, it wasn’t stellar but it wasn’t terrible. I did my best. Now I’m home but the next two weekends will involve MORE travel. Fortunately, my next trip is a short one in the same time zone (yay) AND it includes a Fun Run (for Juniorette’s Family Weekend/Homecoming at her college) which I have signed up for. It’s good when you can incorporate activity into your schedule like that. The next trip is longer, and also on the East coast (BLERGH long plane trip! Time change!!) but the good thing is that it will have virtually no mandatory events, so I can include as much exercise and napping as I want/need. So it might even be like a mini vacation.
It’s a work in progress, learning to incorporate healthy choices into travel. I love to travel, and happen to like to do things that aren’t always local, and I love a lot of people who happen to live far away. So I’ve got to figure out ways to make it work.
How do you stay healthy when you’re traveling, especially when it involves a lot of meeting/sitting?
I’ve been thinking a lot about a comment that was left recently, in which Karen said, “I don’t ‘do’ challenges…” and I nodded my head. She’s not that kind of person. So many people aren’t. But then I had to think. I AM the kind of person who does a challenge. As often as possible. Who almost needs a challenge in order to get ANYthing done. Left to my own devices, I’m likely to sit around and watch TV shows on Hulu all day. But given a challenge – and suddenly I am capable of things I would never consider on my own.
I am currently in a ton of challenges, some private ones just with myself, and then others that involve hundreds or more people.
The Writing Challenge: I recently challenged myself to write as many consecutive days as possible on 750words.com. Blog posts do not count. I’m now on Day 3, which means I’ve earned myself a Turkey sticker. Yay me! Writing has been so important to me (so I say) and yet I do not make it as much of a priority as I’d like. So I’m just doing this on my own.
A running friend of mine has challenged me to run every day. Any time or distance. I am now on Day 5. Last night it was almost midnight and I hadn’t run. I put on my shoes and ran circles around my little street for 5 minutes. I’m saying that counted. But… no way would that have happened without the Running Challenge.
The Yoga Challenge: I have done one yoga pose a day for the past 15 days. Except for today. Tomorrow I will do two. I admit that I tried today’s pose in the morning and it scared me so I backed off. I will complete it tomorrow, with picture, as well as tomorrow’s pose.
Creative Process Challenge: I’ve been reading this bookwhich asserts that for successful writing to occur, you must do three things. Process, product and self-care. I count the running and yoga as self-care. The product is what happens with the Writing Challenge. But now I am also challenging myself to 15 minutes of non-goal oriented creative process per day. So far I have played with pink Play-Dough and done a drawing of a pumpkin. Two days down.
The Big Blue Test: from now until Nov 14th (National Diabetes Day) I am participating in the Big Blue Test. This very test helped me understand the link between diabetic health and exercise, and I will be forever grateful. I encourage everyone, diabetic or not, to participate, because every test done means that $5 will be donated for much-needed medical supplies.
SO those are the things I am doing right now. That’s a minimum of an hour (or more) committed to Challenges per day. I’m finding the time where it seems there is none. But I can say if I weren’t doing the challenges, that time would be lost.
I think I am the kind of person who NEEDS challenges. Interesting.
Have you ever participated in a challenge to get yourself going? Are you doing one now? Tell me!
One of the things I have loved the most in this past year has been bringing people along on their first official race. Mary joined me in her first 5k at See Jane Run; Sofia joined me in the Color Run (and went on to do her first half marathon and is now training for her first full marathon — WOOHOO!) and this past weekend, my friend Ericka threw her fears to the wind and joined me in the wackiest race of all – the Muddy Buddy. I don’t even remember how this happened; but I think it was via a Facebook post when I thought she was joking about joining me. Ericka has been my workout buddy with our beloved trainer DJ for several years now – we have sweated together plenty, but she has always declared herself “not a runner” and she was content to cheer me on from afar. I actually have no idea what came over her, but I was so psyched!!
Ericka and I have both had our health battles recently. We celebrated our 50th birthdays, and then I got diabetes and she was hit with Graves disease. Our combined age is 105 (!!!) which put us squarely in the “Women Masters” category for this race. I reminded her that we are in a tiny percentage of 50-year old women with chronic diseases who are participating in athletic events at this level.
I have done a few “fun runs” of 5ks recently, and they truly have been fun for me. But I knew this one was going to be tougher – including off road biking on a mountain bike, likely hills, and those crazy obstacles. If there’s one thing I don’t feel super confident about, it’s my upper arm strength. However, I told Ericka that our aim was to FINISH, and to finish was to win. I really believed that.
We are both writers, and we needed a team name. She came up with “Dirty Wordsters” (haha). I made us matching team shirts (thanks to watching my daughters make dozens of them for their crew team in the past 6 years) and she decorated the bike with dirty words like “filth” and “slime.” We so clever!
Mr. McBody and I picked up Ericka at 5:30am and we drove down to San Jose to this park. Lily’s husband, who grew up there, had already warned me it was “pretty hilly.” Since he was a varsity triathlete at Cal, this was something I took very seriously. Ack. HILLS. Not my favorite.
We got there, jumped around to warm up, visited the PortaPotty, and tried to relax. But I was hecka nervous. I heard the race announcer say that the first mile was “straight uphill.” NICE!
We were in the last wave to start, the “Women Masters.” (ie, the old ladies) I was relieved to see other women our age. It’s not often you go up to other women and ask, “How old are you?” but I did just that and when the other women said “53” I jumped up and gave them high-fives. Yeah baby, we rock. I was feeling pretty fierce and ready.
We moved on up and saw the other waves taking off. We saw some people walking their bikes right from the Start line. I kept saying, I’m gonna walk, I’m gonna walk, but then when I was at the Start and I saw everyone on their bikes, shame took hold of me and I was like, well, I’ll ride, until I can’t. I’m actually glad I did.
The starting horn went off and I got on the bike. I was glad to make it up a few hundred yards before it just got TOO steep. At that point I’d say 90% of the participants were walking, pushing their bikes. Damn that bike was HEAVY. Pretty soon the “runners” were overtaking us (bike members went first, then runners). But they weren’t really running either. Like I said, it was hecka steep. And it went on. And on. I felt like I was eating dust, just heaving for every breath. It went on for a full mile. Just up. And up. And up. It felt pretty darn grim.
At the top of the hill was our first obstacle, and time for me to leave the bike in the “Bike Drop” for my buddy. Of course she had passed me by, walking! We climbed on this spiderwebby thing, up and over. I got a tad bit freaked at the very top, but managed it OK.
Then it was more rolling hills, run, bike, obstacle. Each of us had 3 bike parts and 3 running parts. I was jealous that her first bike was this gorgeous downhill section! But then I got to run that as well.
What can I say? It felt long. It felt really, really hot. We were out in open fields with NOTHING out there but for a dirt trail. But it was okay. There were lots of other people around us – ie, we weren’t being left in the dust – including what seemed to be many younger people (what???). We kept passing the same folks off and on.
The obstacles, which I had been nervous about, weren’t too bad at all. There was a mud tunnel, which I have to say we were very prepared for. We do a lot of low crawling and walking in our trainer workouts. The high things were not so bad. Until the very end (I’ll get to that).
The entire course took us about an hour and a half (OK, exactly an hour and a half)! Which had been my optimistic estimate. I’d looked at other race results and saw that many women our age were coming in between 1:30 and 2:00. So I was hoping for 1:30 at best, and well, whatever it took, as long as we finished.
For the final leg, Ericka was on bike and I was on foot. She had to wait for me for a while because we were supposed to do the final 3 obstacles, including the Mud Pit, together.
Eventually I showed up. We were both pretty tired, but stoked that it was almost over. The first obstacle was a some sort of giant ladder climbing thing. (I think) Not bad. The second one was a rope climb over this blue wooden wall. It didn’t LOOK that bad. I grabbed the rope. Then started to walk up. Hahahaha. The wall was covered in something very slippery — lard? butter? soap?? In any case, we tried and tried and after a few minutes just looked at each other and said, “Uh-uh.” We walked around it.
Then it was time for the infamous MUD PIT. Ooooh boy!! I will say that the cold wet mud felt REALLY GOOD after all that dry dusty heat. We crawled under the flag ropes like a couple of mud puppies. Laughing.
Then we had a little female mud-wrestling moment.
Then clambered out. I don’t think I’ve ever truly understood the word “clamber” until then.
Then we ran through the finish holding hands. Then we got our medals. We were PSYCHED!
Then it was shower (aka garden hose) time. Boy did we need that.
To say that we were filthy was an understatement. But that was the point, right? It was darn hard. It was challenging. We really, really pushed. But in the end I am proud to say that we came in with 43 other teams behind us, most of them younger than we are. That made me feel really good. Not bad for 52 and 53, huh?
So many people asked me, “WHY on earth would you voluntarily sign up for something like that?” And looked even more incredulous when I answered, “Because I’d never done one.” Ha ha, I know, most people haven’t, and have no desire to. But for me, it’s about changing it up, finding new things to do to stay active and most importantly to have fun.
What’s the wackiest, craziest or most fun race you’ve ever done?
Today’s guest post is by Julia Jones – triathlete and running coach. Alongside Shauna “Dietgirl” Reid she created Up & Running online running courses for women. They invited me to be a stop on their Blog Tour this week.
It’s easy to feel discouraged when you’ve had a terrible training session or run a rubbish race, but these less than perfect scenarios can help make you a stronger athlete! Coach Julia explains all…
This last spring I ran several half marathons as part of my buildup to a June 70.3 Half Ironman. The 70.3 finishes with a thirteen mile run, and that’s after swimming over a mile and biking fifty-six. I wanted to get comfortable with the 21K distance so that it just rolled out automatically at the end of my triathlon. I figured the best way to do that, besides my normal training plan, was to run the distance several times before the actual race.
I signed up for three smaller half marathons and then got offered a place in the Milan Marathon. I figured I could just conveniently duck out at the 21km mark.
I checked the weather forecast the day before the race: rain. Pouring rain. All day and all night. It was April so not freezing cold, but not exactly toasty warm. I packed a pair of gloves, a long sleeved shirt and a visor to keep the rain off my glasses, then took the train to Italy’s northern capital.
There was drizzle on the windowpanes on the ride up, then a torrential downpour as I dragged my bags through the streets to the hotel. Later at dinner in the hotel restaurant hail pelted on the roof.
The next morning dressed in my running garb I looked out the window and saw that nothing had changed during the night.
The heavens opened up yet again at the start line as thousands of runners huddled together waiting for the gun to go off. As I ran the first mile I asked myself the question that a few of you might be thinking now… “Why the heck are you doing this?”
For the next two soggy hours I jumped over puddles and had to run through a few. When I pulled out at thirteen miles, mission accomplished, I ran to the changing tent to get into some dry clothes then watch the finish. I stuck around for about three seconds – I was drenched again and had really had enough rain for the day. Maybe for the rest of the year!
In psychology there’s a term known as Resilience, which is our ability to cope with stress and adversity. The more we subject ourselves to situations that are difficult or just a litte more of a reach over our emotional or physical abilities, the better we get at handling them. They say that Resilience is a process, not a trait. You’re not born with Resilience, it’s something you can actually train and develop, from whatever level you happen to be starting from.
I’ve seen women develop their Resilience lesson after lesson in our Up & Running courses. At first it can feel like a huge struggle just to get out the door for a training session. But after a few weeks it becomes routine. Then they start building their Resilience through races. The 5k becomes 10k. Those building blocks stack up until they’re doing things they’d never dreamed of…
I develop my own resilience by dragging myself out of bed in the early hours of dawn, or by running races in the pouring rain. Countless times I’ve drawn upon that triumphant feeling of running through a storm to get through a difficult patch in a race, or a day that didn’t start off well.
It’s also helped me recognize that no experience is ever wasted; no matter how difficult it may seem in the moment. It’s a building block onto better things and you’ll always come out a winner!
Julia Jones lives in Italy and is coach at Up & Running. They offer e-courses for super-new and seasoned runners tackling 5K, 10K and half-marathon runs with expert coaching, awesome training plans and vibrant community support. Julia’s has rocked 33 marathons, 2 half Ironmans and numerous triathlons and is a columnist in Italy’s most popular running magazine.
Want to build up your own running resilience? Get a helping hand with Up & Running’s next e-courses which start 3 September.
Finally – an old fashioned blog post that isn’t a race recap! How ’bout that! I’ve been so busy lately at my newish job – which I really like – but which requires so much paperwork that often at night I am catching up on doing that rather than blogging. I’ve missed it.
Anyway, today I was having an awesome run in the cool foggy woods (we are soooooo lucky to not be in the Heat Wave) and I was mulling over a couple of things (great things to do during a run). I ended up doing several kick-ass hill repeats, which made me feel so strong and happy. And I realized that part of the reason I was doing hill repeats is that last night when I went to see President Obama (!!!!!!!!!) I ended up running into two of my triathlon coaches, Holly and Mark. It was so great to see them. We were all pumped up for this fantastic event.
I think seeing them stayed with me a little bit this morning. So when I saw a hill coming up in front of me, I didn’t slow to a walk as I generally do. I charged UP the hills, especially the steepest ones. And it felt so good. And I felt like part of me had been sparked by seeing them last night, and remembering the hill repeats we did during training, and I wanted that feeling again. I often don’t push myself hard when I’m alone. But I felt “triggered” somehow – in a good way- to do this, thinking of the ways they had pushed me beyond my (perceived) limits.
At Weight Watchers, we often refer to the word “trigger” in a negative way; ie “trigger foods” are those that can start an avalanche of bingey or unhealthy eating. We eat one cracker with peanut butter and before we know it, the jar is gone, or we’ve then gone and eaten half the pantry along with it. Stuff like that. But in this case, I felt like I was “triggered” to do something positive, to do something MORE than I would’ve done without it. I felt kind of shot out of a cannon this morning. And I think it was a combination of things. I was still all high from seeing the President. I had been in contact with my triathlon training coaches. I remembered seeing the TNT Marathon team in the same park on Sunday, and this sign.
(Same statistic goes for triathlons, I think!)
So that combination of “triggers” (as well as getting a text message from a running buddy this morning) all conspired to get me going, out the door, on the trail and not only on the trail but doing hill repeats. And it reminded me of how important it is to be part of a community that shares my healthy and active goals. It pops up and helps me in so many ways.
Another phrase we use at Weight Watchers is “anchors.” Anchors are positive reminders, people, thoughts or images that “anchor” or ground us and keep us from floating off-track or away from our goals. But I also thought about feeling an anchor as a heavy weight, sometimes dragging me down, keeping me stuck to couch or bed or routine.
Triggers and anchors. They can help us or hinder us both. What are yours?
Well, it’s been quite a time for spontaneity around here. I had such a good time at See Jane Run last weekend that I was all excited to do See Jane Tri in the fall. But lo and behold, it’s the same weekend as Fitbloggin’ 2012. BIG conflict! No way I am missing Fitbloggin’ so I was all bummed out about that. Then Pubsgal told me about the Mermaid Tri/Du that was happening – in like 4 days. GULP.
I went through SO many mental contortions this week leading up to the race. First, I thought I’d like to do the duathlon (my first) because I just didn’t have time to get a practice swim in. It was in the Bay, and could be sort of choppy and salty, and who knows how that would go, especially given my not-stellar swim performance at Wildflower. So I was thinking, cool, I’ll just bike and swim.
I have never done a duathlon before. I think I was pretty unclear on the concept. The website had course descriptions for “Duathlon First Run” and “Duathlon Second Run.” I thought… we got to choose which one to do. Hahahahahha! But no. The first run is in place of the swim. Then you bike and run again. OOHHHHH.
I didn’t figure this out until Thursday night, when I proceeded to have some kind of weird tantrum meltdown. I didn’t wannnnt to run twice! Even if it was only 1.5 and 2.5 miles! So then I started contemplating changing my registration to the tri. I went to race packet pickup on Friday afternoon and they told me I could change even at the Very Last Minute on Saturday morning. I decided to go over and check out the swim course. I saw a bunch of VERY gnarly looking waves and I decided right there, NO WAY.
I was very happy to get up this morning (at 5:00am) and know I was only going to bike and swim. Mr. McBody was feeling kind of low because of a recent bug he’d had, so I told him to stay home and rest. (famous last words) Last night I had packed my little gym bag with all my stuff, but then this morning I thought, I have a tri bag. Maybe I should bring my tri bag. (“But you’re not doing a tri, isn’t that overkill?”) and on and on. I transferred the stuff into the tri bag, put the bike in the car and took off.
I was about halfway to the course when some synapses smashed together and I remembered the little tiny manila envelope with my RACE CHIP in it. Which I did not remember putting into my tri bag. AGHH. I pulled over to the side of the road and frantically pawed through my bag. NO ENVELOPE. I called Mr McBody who was enjoying his rest, and started caterwauling about not having my race chip and that he HAD TO BRING IT TO ME RIGHT AWAY. My friend Christine happened to be working as a registration volunteer at Mermaid, so I also frantically called her and she said they would not give me a replacement chip, that it was coded to me, and I needed mine. So poor Mr McBody got in the car after locating the little envelope in the gym bag.
I was a bit of a basket case when I got to the course. The parking lot was filled up at that point, so I had to park several blocks away. This was ALSO one of the first local races I was doing all by myself with no support crew or person to drop me off. Of course at that point I was infinitely grateful that 1) I had a tri bag; and 2) I had practiced biking with it on at Wildflower. Yay! I very comfortably strapped it on and rode the few blocks to the transition area. I racked my bike and got my stuff all set up and then went to the intersection to wait for Mr. McBody. He got there about 15 minutes before the start and then went back home to rest for real.
This was a smallish race, so things were not one hundred percent clear. I wasn’t quite sure where the Du run was supposed to start, but I followed what looked like a semi crowd and got to the inflatable start thing. I was a little concerned that there was no timing mat underneath it. I still don’t quite get how that works. A bunch of women all crowded together under the thing on a very narrow path that fit about 4 across. I was in the “over 40” start. Then they counted down and the air horn went off, and… there we went.
The first run was actually pretty pleasant. I was going at a nice pace and nothing hurt. It wasn’t bad at all. Sometimes I have a lot of pain in the first mile and I was worried that might be the case, but it was pretty comfortable. I got back to transition and got ready to get on the bike. I knew that my transition was going to be longer than some peoples’ because I was changing from running shoes to bike shoes. Now that I’m used to wearing clips, I’m pretty attached to them (no pun) and didn’t want to risk getting my dumb shoelaces caught, which has happened to me more times than I can count. So I sat on the ground and changed shoes. Changed headgear. Found my gloves. ARGH. They were inside out from the last time (Mt. Diablo?) and all knotted up and I probably wasted two minutes untangling them and getting them on my hands. (NOTE TO SELF!!!!!! Put the gloves right side out before the race!!!!!!!!!!!) I saw Christine cheering for me as I ran toward the bike mount area.
Got on the bike. The route was two loops of absolutely flat road. Which sounds lovely on one hand (it kind of was) but also, flat courses means no downhill and less chance to rest. (my butt) I remembered doing this EXACT course when I was training for the first tri, and it was really, really hard. I remember having the hardest time stopping, starting and turning. I got really tired. It was super hard. I may have almost cried. And I almost cried again this time because I could see how very far I’ve come in less than a year. That was pretty awesome.
The bike ride was good. I enjoyed it. AND I got to utter three words that I have NEVER ONCE SPOKEN during a bike race, ever: “On your left.” Yeah, I passed people! Sure, a ton of people (more than I can count) passed me, too, but people, I have NEVER passed a SINGLE PERSON on a bike. Ever. Until today. So imagine my shock and thrill when I realized I was going to actually do so, maybe a dozen times. It was exhilarating! Woo hoo!
I rode into transition and saw my buddy Lily with her sweetie and sweetie dog, jumping up and down and screaming my name. That was so awesome. Then I changed shoes and headgear AGAIN and went to do the second run. OMG. I had to pee so bad! SO BAD. I knew I wasn’t going to make it but a few hundred yards. Thank goodness for portapotties. But that was a minute or two. Then I got on the path and started running for real. OH the pain! I mean pain! My feet and calves were cramping up and just felt like they were saying “oh hell no you don’t!”
The 1.25 mile out before the turnaround were really, really uncomfortable. I was hobbling, walking, running like a penguin, just trying to find any kind of comfortable position. I just knew I had to run it out and let things loosen up. I stopped and stretched out my Achilles against a light pole. I took more walk breaks than I wanted to. But damn. Then I got to the turnaround and I was like, Come ON, just a mile more, you can DO this. I fiddled around with my iPhone and tried to find the most uplifting, motivating music I could find. Found the song “Safe and Sound” that had been the soundtrack to the video I did with Big Blue Test last year. I think of this as my “Lily” music. I knew she would be at the finish line with Ed and Mosely.
It wasn’t until I was almost at the finish chute that I started feeling good, I mean without pain. I felt like I was going to be able to bring it in strong. So when I got to the last 100 yards I just poured it out. I finished under 2 hours, which seemed like a good thing. Better under than over, right?
Instead of a medal, they gave out cute little necklaces. I like! Very much!
So that was it, my first duathlon. I’d say it was pretty good! It was definitely a heck of a lot more challenging than last week’s 5k. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t killer. And it made me think about what people have said, that there are truly no “easy” races. The faster you get, the more challenging it is because then you’re wanting to place (I do not see this in my future). But no matter what, you’re always pushing yourself to do your own personal best. I put my best out there today, I had fun for the most part (except for a few unfun moments) and I was really glad I’d done it. Another first, done!
Have you had any recent firsts lately? Tell me all about it!
Man, I am the biggest triathlon Scrooge alive. Bah! Humbug! I’ve been grumbling and grousing and moaning pretty much all season. I’m the slowest runner. I’m the struggliest swimmer and the huffy-puffiest biker. And I’ve had the convenient excuses of injury, illness and schedule to keep me from doing a lot of the really hardest workouts. Part of me has just been DYING for Wildflower to be over so that I can get back to my regularly scheduled life, whatever that is.
But yesterday I just felt so glad and happy to be doing this and to be on this team. We were scheduled to do an open water swim plus bike ride. Originally, it was to take place at a further lake that has bike trails, and there was a 20 mile mountain bike ride included. I just kind of absorbed that info and made the mental note to bring my mountain bike. But when the workout location changed, I didn’t quite figure out that there wasn’t going to be a mountain bike component.
I hadn’t really quite realized the difference between riding a long course with a mountain bike with knobby wheels, and with a nice light little road bike. At this point I now am in possession of THREE separate bikes (I know, hilarious, right?) and I took the biggest, heaviest, most brutal-to-ride one.
The Olympic distance ride was 27.1 miles. I think I never really expected to do the whole thing, and that I would find some convenient spot around 10 miles out to turn around.
First the swim happened. I didn’t swim because I was on “water craft” duty. Which means kayaking around the swimmers and offering a place for people to hang onto. You know what? I almost always hang onto the kayak. I almost always need to. But yesterday I was impressed (and a little embarrassed) that absolutely NOBODY came near me for a breather, let alone to get pulled back to shore. My team is so freaking strong!! So I was fairly useless just paddling around out there. But it was fun. I love kayaks. I think I want to get one of my own.
I was pretty much the last one out of the water since I was providing “water safety.” Everyone had long gone on their bikes. I changed out of my wetsuit stuff and into my bike stuff and took off.
It was a long, long, pretty much on my own ride, until coach Holly caught up with me. Good thing she did because right before that, my course map had blown out of my pocket and I had no clue where to go. She became my human GPS and cheerleader, keeping me company or waiting for me at crucial intersections. We rode wayyyyyy out into the hills past vineyards and horse farms and long stretches of not much except pretty flowers.
Wimpy me, I had thought in my head that there was NO WAY I was going to do this whole ride. Especially on a mountain bike. And being wayyyy last. But I just kept chugging along. And counting each pedal stroke up the hills. When I was about 3/4 of the way through I was acutely aware that this ride was going to go down as my LONGEST bike ride EVER. I never completed the whole course at the Marin triathlon, and I had managed to miss most of the long rides due to absence or injury, so this was the longest by a LONG distance.
I thought for sure that everyone was going to be gone when I finally made it back to the parking lot, except for Lily and Eduardo (who I carpooled with), and of course coach Holly, who had stuck by me the whole way. But when I started the descent down into the parking lot, I could hear people cheering and see little figures jumping up and down and I suddenly got the feeling I might start bawling again. It was a huge moment! And then people were saying all these encouraging things about “OMG you did that all on a MOUNTAIN bike?” and one of my teammates, who I didn’t even think knew my name, came up to me and said I should be so proud of myself for what I accomplished and that I could use this moment as a touchstone “on and off the course.” I was blown away and so moved and suddenly I just felt so grateful for Team and for myself for not giving up and for coach Holly and all of it.
Today I did a 5k race with more teammates. And I just felt happy to be alive and moving, albeit slowly ;-).
This week Mr. McBody and I are taking a long awaited trip to Nicaragua and I will have my running shoes but really no way to bike or swim until Event weekend. It’s kind of a shame to be leaving just as I am getting “warmed up” but that’s the way it happened this time. I’m already thinking … maybe… next time? Run team? Hike team? Tri team?? I’m going to take a break after this one for sure, but who knows how long that break will be.
It doesn’t really FEEL like I’ve been hiding – more like, “I’m really busy,” or “Time just got away from me,” etc. Stuff you’ve heard before. But you know that conventional wisdom says that If a fitness blogger seems to, er… disappear, then chances are high that something is not right. That they’ve fallen off the wagon, or gained weight, or lost their fitness, or all of the above.
I’ve had some pretty big gaps in blogging recently and although I have all these Excuses, it probably has come down to the fact that I was in a fair bit of struggle. Mostly with myself. And it’s only now that I am able to come back the blog because I feel like I’ve made it out the other side (I think). I wish that I had been able to be more open and to have shared some of that struggle here, but clearly – that just wasn’t happening.
During the time I’ve been gone, my 3rd healthaversary/blogaversary came and went. It’s a first for me not to note this with a commemorative, celebratory blog. But this anniversary had me feeling more sober than other years. Realizing, I guess, that this is a lifelong journey and that there’s no guarantee that it’s going to just Happen. In several ways I was feeling like I had let myself down and that I had been in a period of failing. It wasn’t a good feeling. But having the healthaversary celebration to celebrate my intention was a good thing, I think, and it helped get me back on my good path. Here are some of my friends doing our annual Walking of the Labyrinth on a cold and drizzly Sunday. Then we came back to the house for a nice brunch that made me feel all nourished, both physically and socially.
On Monday, the next day, I had a little mini breakdown/meltdown. I reached out to a friend who really helped me. Until that point, I had not felt like I could share my struggles with anyone. In retrospect, that is just so sad and dumb and wrong. I know that I have SO many people who would so gladly “be there” for me, but my disappointment in myself was just too huge. As it turned out, I reached out to exactly the right person and it was a major turning point for me.
Somehow over the past couple of months I felt like I lost the me I wanted to be, and it was hard finding my way back. I had a bunch of setbacks including a break-in (busted back window) of my car with a purse robbery included. That wasn’t much fun. But first through walking the circles of the labyrinth, and then through opening up to one friend and then more (and now to all of you) it has made a huge difference. Things have lightened up considerably (including me, no pun intended). Today I ran 9 miles in the rain, something I have been attempting over and over the past few weeks and just could not accomplish.
Next weekend is the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in Disneyland, which I’ll be doing with Junior and Juniorette. I am in nowhere near the condition I had hoped to be in, but judging by today’s 9 miler I think I can survive it. I hope we’ll have some fun together and then I’ll be turning my direction toward the new triathlon season. I can’t even begin to describe how excited, nervous and thrilled this makes me.
So, with much relief, I feel like I am “back.”
Have you ever “gone away” from fitness for a while? What helped you come back?