Monday, August 31, 2009

Tri-Training Update - 4 weeks to go!

This past week was rough as far as training. I was fighting a cold, had Miller duty and some major changes at work resulted in me getting in early and staying late, my back decided to spasm all weekend, so there was little time for training.

The tri is less than 4 weeks away; 27 days to be exact. I still am pretty sure I will be able to finish it, but have moments of doubt. On Wednesday we had a transition clinic hosted by my tri training group. I almost bailed on this but am so glad I didn't. We got there and had to set up our area like we would on the actual day. The founder of the group, Alyse Kelley-Jones, spoke to us about what to expect and answered all our questions, from whether we put on sunscreen before or after we get marked (before) to will there be food for our family and friends that come to watch us (yes, a coffee shop will be open, but might be a good idea to pack some stuff). Then we practiced our transitions. We stood in a field, only in what we are going to wear swimming, which for me is just a bathing suit, goggles and swim cap. She had us do 10 push ups and then spin around 10 times and then start running. The push ups and spinning were to help simulate how we will feel getting out of the pool after the swim. I ran to my area and the first thing I realized is that my clothing plan isn't going to work. My tri shorts are too tight and hard to get on when dry so I only got them partially on before I mounted my bike. They are going to be impossible when I am wet. I now understand why people wear tri-suits in the swim. Second clothing problem is socks. I am thinking of not wearing socks for the bike and putting them on for the run. Still thinking about that. Third problem area is gloves since putting them on while wet is going to be a challenge as well but after my last fall I know I need to wear them.

Good news is that I did get lots of compliments on my bike jersey I got from I also enjoyed being able to slip into my shoes courtesy of my zip laces from TrySports. I bought a bucket to sit on but didn't actually use it this time. I was in such a hurry and on a bit of an adrenaline kick, so I am sure race day will be similar. I am looking forward to developing my own race day style.

Other than the transition clinic and some swimming, I really didn't get any other work outs in. Now that I am under 4 weeks this panics me. I know I will be able to catch up, but all of a sudden I am pretty worried. My tri group is hosting a mock tri the weekend of the 12th where we will actually do the entire tri, simulated like race day. I am so glad we are doing this since it will give me a gauge on how out of shape I am!

So my goal for this week is to heal my back and if that means all I do is warm water swimming, then so be it. I want to enter this race healthy so I will delay training hard core for a week if it means I will be back on track sooner. It really is amazing how quickly time is flying. As one lady said in the gym this morning, "I must be having a hell of a good time!"

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tri-training Update - 5 Weeks to go!

I am almost a month away from my first triathlon and I am feeling good. Let me clarify: my whole lower body hurts, I am exhausted, my hands and wrists are bruised and I think I still have water in my ears and nose from this morning's swim, but I am more glad than ever that I am doing this triathlon.

Last week was a good week for training. My mom and I maintained our morning swims and agreed to get to the gym 30 minutes earlier so we get a full hour in the pool. We also got in a good run/walk. Sandy gave me a baby bike stroller which is basically a tent on wheels that has a bar that hooks onto my bike. My mom and I took Miller out on Wednesday and he loved it. I didn't think of what effect pulling a 28 pound baby in a stroller would have on me, but wow, what a workout! After an hour and a few hours we stopped, me panting and gasping for air. Miller shouted "Do it again! Do it again!". Gee, thanks kid! Joe and I took him out on the bike again on Saturday afternoon. It was hot, I hadn't had any water in two days (ahh diet coke how I love you, ahh how my body wishes it was water) so after only a mile into the ride I wasn't sure I could do it. I was tired, hot and dehydrated but thoughts of the impending tri date motivated me and we finished, just a few miles short of our usual ride. It is hard work having Miller attached to my bike, but it is a good workout for me and it is fun to have him encourage me to keep going or to ask Joe what took him so long and that he needs to hurry up!

Sunday I woke up to overcast skies and 74 degrees and was excited ride my bike in the cooler weather. Instead of driving to where my mom and I usually meet to start the ride, I decided I was up to riding there from my house. I started feeling great, got to the end of my neighborhood and stopped to do some final adjustments. I have clips on my shoes so instead of pedals, my shoes literally clip onto where the pedals should be. This is supposed to be better for you, make you more efficient, blah, blah. I got them because my brother Mike told me to. So I went to push off the curb but didn't get enough momentum and knew instantly I was doomed. I didn't have enough speed to roll; couldn't get my pedal going and couldn't unclip fast enough. I literally came to a stop and tipped over and fell to the ground. Lovely. I caught myself with my wrist but luckily there wasn't a car or person near by to hit me, or see me fall. Now what I should have done at this point was turn around and crawl back in bed. What I actually did was lead my mom on a cursed three hour ride where I got lost in and around the town of Marvin, she fell 3 times and we both ended up tired, with matching bruises.

I feel so responsible every time my mom falls so after the second one I felt like crying. I feel like I talked her into this and therefore it is my fault she is beyond battered. She has two hematomas, one fractured finger, countless HUGE bruises and can't actually straighten her left leg , all results of tri-training. Sure, she has free will and she could quit at anytime, but my mom isn't a quitter and I know that about her. I think sometimes I am in denial that my parents are getting older but there is nothing like seeing your mother laying on the side of the road, fighting back tears, wiping blood off a bruised and swollen knee to remember that she is actually in her mid 60s and this isn't easy for her.

We kept making lefts and eventually made it back to my mom's car. I was still feeling pretty horrible, having a bit of a pity party thinking how guilty I will feel should she have a stroke when one of her hematomas is knocked loose (even though doctors say that is impossible). I waited to make sure she got settled before I started my ride home. She came up, hugged me and then thanked me. I laughed and asked her what for because all I can see is the pain that I have inflicted by talking her into this. She said she actually learned a lot with this ride. She inflated her own tires for the first time, set up the bike rack on her car and learned a key skill in starting. She learned her body can do hills; it is her mind that often talks her out of even trying to ride up one. She said she wasn't that sore, adding that maybe her body is learning how to fall and cope with pain.

I often imagine my life as a movie, filming the pivotal points in my life, complete with soundtrack. The past few months I see as a montage with my mom and I smiling, sweating, laughing at private jokes, me encouraging her to run a few seconds more, my entire family out running and then celebrating with dinner. I can also see a clip of the falls, one in slow motion with me turning and racing back to her, in the middle of the road, bike askew, rocking and grasping her bloody knee; then showing the few moments later, with us huddled and laughing as I wipe away the blood and then her tears. I have to believe that the montage will end with us crossing the finish line, hugging each other and smiling very large smiles.

I am so much like my mom in many ways, from the big nose to the feet to my big smile, and yet we still approach things differently. Going into this I was in better shape and have been helping her get past her mental and physical barriers. But it is because of her that I am enjoying this so much. I am glad that I signed up for this triathlon because I am learning and growing but I don't think I would be working as hard or having as much fun without her there. So I will keep on training, pushing us both to test our limits. We already have matching bruises, but somehow I know we will have matching smiles as we cross the finish line and that is all that is going to matter.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Story That Started It All

I have always been a diary keeper but the past several years my diary has become a datebook of who went where with whom. My friend Shelia wrote an amazing book called Dumbing Down of Love (buy it when it is will love it), launched a web page and asked people to contribute stories. Most of the people I know were going through a hard time and the web page started to take a "down on love" tone. So I wrote a story for her site.

I loved doing it and remembered how much I enjoyed writing, how easily it came to me and how therapeutic it is. That was in January and it has taken me 6 months to listen to my soul screaming for a creative outlet and launch this blog. Better late than never I suppose. In case you are interested, here is the story that started it all:

A large smile spread over his face and he reached over to tickle me in the way that only he knows; half annoying, half tickling. I don’t know why, but after 16 years of being together, I am still surprised that we don’t know every single thing about each other. Whenever a new fact or a new memory is shared, I am reminded that we are still learning about each other.

We have grown up together. We met when we were 18 and have been together ever since. Next year I will know him longer than I haven’t…more than half my life. Right now many of my closest friends are struggling with romance. I have a friend whose heart has been trampled more times than she can count. Another friend is losing her fight with bitterness towards all men because of the actions of a few. One of my oldest friends is losing herself because her marriage is sucking the life out of her. So I am here to put in a good word for love.

I love being in love. I know that I am extremely lucky and I know that many people spend their whole lives looking for what I have. I fell into it. I was not looking for it and neither was he. In fact, he never thought that he would marry anyone and I hadn’t dated anyone for longer than 5 months. I remember telling my mom that I liked him, but I couldn’t say why. Our first date was comical and magical and still makes me smile all these years later. We went to school in the mountains so for our first date, he suggested we go hiking in the mountains. We set off around 2AM and hiked off the viaduct in Linville, NC. We found a perfect spot under the bridge and settled in to watch the sunrise. As we snuggled up together, he shifted and I abruptly asked him not to ruin the moment and feel me up. Turns out, that was not what he was planning and it was I that ruined the moment! How typical of me to ruin the moment with my bluntness and how typical of him to love me in spite of it.

I have stories and stories of our silliness, the laughter and some hard times thrown in there too. Most of it would be a boring read, but to me they are treasured moments with my best friend.
I think so many people think of love as the best moments of a roller coaster; they look for that time where you are screaming with delight. While I have those moments, I describe love as a bit more commonplace. To me, love is knowing what side of the bed he sleeps on, knowing how my body fits against his, knowing what kind of drink he likes and knowing his favorite brand of undershirts and socks. I like the routine of love; knowing he will make dinner and I will clean up; that we take turns cleaning up the cat vomit and that he will scratch my back in the center where I can’t reach. I cherish the times where I have woken up, my hair drenched in my own sleep drool and he kisses me on the forehead and tells me I am adorable. He can still make my stomach do a flip flop when I hear the excitement in his voice when he hears it is me calling him on the phone. The best part of any day is when we finally turn the light off and assume our sleeping positions. The first year we lived together we slept in a twin bed so we learned how to sleep together in tight “spoon” formation and it is a habit we haven’t broken. We graduated to a full bed, but we still spend the night snuggled up and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Relationships are work and anyone who thinks otherwise is just stupid. You have to keep talking and laughing and you have to be committed to working through things as partners. Being in love is wonderful though and it makes me sad that there are so many people in my life that don’t have what I have. It is an amazing feeling to have a haven where I can be me. I can’t imagine my life without him. I hope I never have to.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tri-Training Update - Week 6

Wow, I cannot get started today. Our air conditioner died and the repair guy was at our house until after midnight last night. I still got up and got a walk/run in, but right now I am having a hard time staying awake. I have Miller tonight and am pretty sure telling a 2 1/2 year old that we are going to go to bed extra early at 6pm won't work. How I wish I could bottle his energy!

After our workout this morning, my mom and I were walking down the stairs to the locker room when a woman noticed we were both yawning. She laughed and told us we weren't supposed to be yawning - working out is supposed to give us energy. I laughed then but now it makes me a tad angry. Working out IS supposed to give me more energy. Eating better is supposed to make me feel better. WHEN is this going to happen? I signed up for this tri in April and in a mere 41 days I will (hopefully) be a tri-athlete. I have ramped up my training and instead of feeling energized I feel exhausted. This is even after I took this weekend off and slept until my body naturally woke me up (after 10am!!).

I am amazed at how crowded the gym is at 6am. When did society get so gym obsessed that everyone needed a gym membership? Was it Olivia Newton-John's Let Get Physical? Is being healthy the status symbol that will define this decade? How many people have gym memberships but never use them? Do all the people at the gym enjoy it? Do they get energy from it? Don't get me wrong, I am glad I work out and immediately afterwards I feel great. I love sweating and I love the feeling of sore muscles. It keeps my mental sanity in check. Usually. This week something is off.

I first noticed it yesterday. I was up and ready when the alarm went off, got out of bed without hitting snooze and had time to make myself a protein shake (Juice Plus of course). I got to the pool in record time and got in the water a full 30 minutes earlier than last week. I did my usual warm up of 250 meters and then began my clinic work. My mom and I decided last week that we need to set aside time each day for clinic work. I developed a schedule and then did some research on the day's topic: breathing. I was armed with knowledge and imagined myself speeding through the clinic drills because of course, I am now the female version of Michael Phelps (I even ate at Subway last week!).

Cough, cough, sputter sputter....I swam 5 strokes and ended up with a nose full of water. I still have no idea how, but somehow working on my breathing messed up my ability to breathe. I did this for about 15 minutes, with no luck. Every time I tried my "improved" technique, I ended up sputtering and coughing. So I did what I imagine every hard core athlete does in these situations; I gave up. I didn't give up swimming, I just stopped trying the new technique. Somehow I jinxed myself and couldn't get back into my usual old rhythm. I must have looked pitiful because the lifeguard got off his chair and actually came and stood at my lane. I stopped the freestyle and went to my old standby, the froggie looking stroke (so maybe I need to read up on the names, but other than that - totally female Michael Phelps) to finish my workout.

I did a yoga class last night and am just not a yoga fan. I didn't leave there relaxed or peaceful. I left hot and feeling fat and not graceful with a tight hamstring. This morning the hamstring was still bothering me, I was tired and couldn't get warm. I also ate 5 minutes before yoga (I know - mistake. Where were you last night?) and have felt pukey ever since. The chlorine in the pool usually dries out my skin in a good way, but this week I am broken out all over my body and feel greasy and gross. More than anything right now I want to curl back into bed and have a do-over. Gertie my Gut is making an even larger than normal appearance over my waistband and I am also having an "Everything I touch turns to crap" week at work and it is only Tuesday!

But I will get up again tomorrow for another swim session and hopefully be able to breathe. I am just going back to basics so I should feel confident in that. I'm not going to let one bad week derail me. Maybe that is part of the reason people work out: because they can control what happens. Life gets so hectic and so much of what happens is out of your control. You can really only control how you feel, what you think and what you say. The rest is all up to other people. So maybe working out is the one area that they can control. Maybe the energy comes from knowing that you did something positive, that you are trying and that you aren't giving up. Or maybe there is a secret energy drug that they are giving out that I am not privy to yet. Either way, I will get up again tomorrow morning. I bet it will be a bit harder than it was yesterday. I also bet I will go to bed as soon as I put Miller to bed tomorrow night and might fall asleep before he does!

I know I am going to be glad I did it though. And in 41 days, when I can proclaim myself tri-athlete, I am going to feel proud, accomplished and exhausted! I am glad I work out, but seriously, if they are giving out secret energy drugs, will someone clue me in??

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Happy 40th Birthday Woodstock!

I kinda have a thing for hippies. I have no idea why but something about the commune/hippie life intrigues me. I guess if I believed in past lives, I would say I was a hippie who died tragically of an overdose of some drug that I grew while living on a commune. I am intrigued by the Manson family (up to the whole killing thing). I read Drop City and thought that if grew up in that time period, I might have been a hippie (until they moved to Alaska and things went wrong).

So I was pretty happy to find a wealth of pictures and accounts of Woodstock, since this weekend is the 40th anniversary. I spent WAY too long looking at them at lunch today. I'm not going to lie; it looks like it was cool and I bet if you were there it was amazing. I bet the two guys that planned it are pretty proud of themselves and rightly so. I bet there are a ton of people that weren't there but have lied about being there to seem cool. I know they tried to do Woodstock in 1998 for the 30th anniversary and from what I have heard, it sucked. I could be wrong but I don't think society today would allow the same thing to be done today.

For instance:
The man standing in the middle of the crowd naked or the group of people naked bathing in the stream? They'd be arrested for public indecency.

The people tearing down the gate and getting in for free? Arrested.

The people who put on the event without the permits? Event shut down and arrested.

The food stand who gave out free food and encouraged people to bring back what they didn't eat to be given to someone else? Shut down in a health code violation.

And don't even mention all the drugs! Or the cost of the liability insurance, bands, vendors, staging, parking and all other issues.

This may sound cynical and I don't mean to be. I recently read Outliers and was struck by how many things happen because of good timing. These people were lucky to get the timing right; something magical happened there and I don't think it can ever be recreated. I think that the people that experienced it were lucky to do so and every person played their part in making it such a peaceful, organized chaotic gathering.

I also think it was probably a gross, soggy, smelly event, that had people urinating and defecating in public, lots of nudity and not necessarily by people you would want to see naked and no food or water. I think the sound sucked, traffic getting in and out was impossible and there was a good chance you were seated next to someone celebrating "free love". I also think it was wet and cold and muddy and I would have been very, very, VERY grumpy after the first day or so. I really do wish I could have been there and know I would have been like that one lady, shaving her legs by the river.

I like reading about hippies and I think I would be a well liked hippie that contributed to my commune. I like the music that was in Woodstock and I support loving who you want when you want and with some guidelines, where you want. I support thinking for yourself and wishing for peace and love. I think nature is great and should be respected. I'm not so much a fan of drugs but support your right to do so. I do however diverge from the stereotypical hippie mentality when it comes to hygiene and creature comforts. Unfortunately that is a non negotiable for me. So thanks so much for invite Church of the Good Earth and the Down Home Nasties, but I'd like to practice my antidisestablishmentarianisn from an air conditioned room and a Westin Heavenly Bed.

Quote of the Day:
In the 60's people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

All Grown Up....

The last couple of days I have been in a bit of a funk that I haven't been able to shake. I think I finally have been able to figure out a few reasons why.

1. A couple of weeks ago I ended a 10 year friendship with 'Helen' (technically I guess she ended it, but I certainly had a hand in pushing her there). I really feel like I am back in high school and my boy friend just broke up with me. Sure, I know it is the right thing to do and I know I will be better for it, but I can't help but wonder if she misses me yet. So this weekend I went around my house and took down pictures of us, threw away her spare tooth brush she kept in case of drunk spend the night emergencies and packed up the "Best Friends Forever" nick knack hanging angel that was in the hallway. I debated taking down a picture she bought my husband as a Christmas present and decided that since it did not reference our friendship, and in truth I really like it, I would keep it up. I obsessed again if not reaching out to her was bitchy of me and if that meant that it was really ME that isn't a good friend.

2. I heard from my best friend throughout high school, Stacey. Her mother has been fighting lung cancer for 4 years and the cancer is now winning. The woman that I called my second mom is dying. I am so sad for her, that the disease has won; that her spirit is dying faster than her body; that her quick wit and loving voice has been ravaged and replaced with only small moments of lucidity. I am so sad for her daughter, my friend, who at 34 has found herself making health decisions for her mother, choosing not to tell her about the progression of the disease because she knows her mother's weakened mental state will not comprehend what needs to be done. It makes my heart hurt for the family who is faced with the reality that her death is the most positive option at this point.

3. In regards to work, a year ago I was in a completely different position, with my closest friends all working along with me. Work was challenging, exhausting and fun. One year and 55 people laid off later it is a different place. I still have some close friends here but not nearly what I had. On Monday I got some results that showed that I didn't win a particular challenge. My job is OK and I am doing OK, but there are days, and Monday was one of them, when I wonder if I am pushing myself hard enough, using my skills in the best way possible. Then there are days where I wonder exactly what my skills are and what I am doing here!

I remember when I was in 4th grade I would look down the hall and see the 7th and 8th graders and was so jealous. They got to play in the back of the building but I had to be in the front with grades 1-6. The older kids seemed so together, so glamorously grown up. I remember thinking what it would feel like to be older. Then suddenly I was in 7th and 8th grade but I didn't feel nearly as glamorous as those other kids looked. Then when I was a freshman in college I looked at the seniors and thought they looked so composed and mature and responsible. Then I was a senior and felt lost and scared and not at all collegiate! I know all the cliches about appearances not being everything but I still don't feel how I think I should feel at this stage of life. I don't feel like I am mature enough to be ending a friendship because it is no longer healthy for me to be in it. I don't feel like I am old enough to be attending funerals at least once a month. I don't feel old enough to have a close friend who is the care giver to her mother. I don't feel old enough to be thinking about life without my parents. I still feel like a kid myself.

But I guess I am a grown up. I am married, own a home, have a car and a credit card. I kiss boys (well one boy), and have even "done it" (except if my dad reads this, then never, ever, ever). I bet I even look "put together and glamorously grown up" to other people. So I think I was in a funk because all of a sudden I got hit with so many endings; the ending of my friendship with Helen, the ending of Stacey's mom's life, of Stacey's innocence. The most important ending was mine; the ending of denial. I am a grown-up. My work is different. My circle of friends is changing. Soon I will have to stand next to my dear friend Stacey as she buries her mother and I won't be able to do anything to soothe her pain. I might be called upon to be a care giver to my parents soon. The mortgage is due.

I have to imagine that everyone else is just making their way; wondering how all of a sudden they became a grown up. I have a great life and I know that...I'm not trying to make anyone feel sorry for me or say how horrible things are because in truth they aren't. But this week I could have used a vacation from adulthood; just a couple days of sleeping in, sitting too close to the TV, still in my jammies, eating cereal, my hair in pig tails, wondering when I could go outside and play. Until that magically becomes possible, I will try to get out of my funk by going back to basics. I am going to go home tonight and put on my jammies. I am going to sit too close to the TV and have ice cream for dinner. I am going to ignore the bills and the dirty house and wait for my husband to come home and play and make sure we giggle. I'm going to give myself a break and understand that a funk does not a lifetime make. I guess that is all I really can do. And maybe that is one part of being a grown up - realizing that there is nothing you can do about it but try to find some happiness, embrace your inner child, giggle and get up the next day.

Friday, August 7, 2009

For The Love of Fireflies

There is a new song out that I love right now by a band called Owl City. The song is Fireflies and my favorite lines are:

I get a thousand hugs
From ten thousand lightning bugs
As they try to teach me how to dance
A foxtrot above my head
A sockhop beneath my bed

The melody is child-like and light and it stirs in me a couple of memories, both of which soothe my soul. When I was younger we would spend a lot of our summers at my grandparents' house in Pennsylvania. Catching fireflies was a highlight and I remember the magic of just laying on the grass and watching the light, then putting them in a mason jar and trying to capture some of the magic for myself. Recently I was with Miller, my 2 1/2 year old surrogate nephew, when he saw his first firefly. We turned all the outside lights off and sat on the porch and watched and then chased after them. It was fun for me to pass along such a childhood staple onto him.

The second memory is my wedding day. I was not nervous at all and the fact that it was raining a bit for my outdoor wedding didn't phase me a bit. During our vows, a huge rainbow came out, stopping the ceremony for a moment as everyone gasped and pointed out the spectacular sight. I remember looking up at the rainbow, then at my very soon to be husband and then I looked out at the crowd. We only had 27 people there, all our closest friends and relatives. Almost everyone was looking up at the rainbow and each of them had a peaceful and serene look on their faces. I remember at that moment feeling like I was wrapped up in the world's biggest hug of love, from everyone that mattered in my life. I was completely at peace and content and truly happy in that moment.

It has been a long time since I layed in my grandparents' yard and 8 years since our wedding. My grandmother is now suffering from Alzheimer's and while does a great job of faking it, cannot remember me or sometimes my mom. My grandfather in a cruel trick of fate, is physically very ill, but mentally sharp, funny and sweet. A few months ago the house they had lived in for 60 years caught on fire. It was an old stone house that the entire family made so the structure is good and they are working on rebuilding the house. Until then they are living in an extended living facility. They are both in their mid-late 90s and this is proving to be very stressful for them.

When I got married I carried the same bible that my grandmother carried in her wedding, adorned in orchids like she did. It was my hope that my marriage might last as long and be as strong as theirs. In a month they will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary. When I think of my grandparents I think of their humor and their love. I wish my grandmother was still lucid so I could talk to her about her life and her marriage. I am sure they experienced the ups and downs of normal marriages and the fact that they are still together is a testament to love, friendship and loyalty.

I had a great day yesterday. Nothing major happened; on all accounts it was a normal day. Got up, worked out, went to work, worked out again and went to dinner. But inside of that were a few highlights. I talked to my brother and the rest of my family joined me for a run in the afternoon. Then the four of us went to dinner where we sat and laughed and talked for a few hours. I got home and saw a post from my friend Shelia (the one who motivated me to start writing again). She had read my blog and it inspired her. We exchanged some emails and I realized that she is a true friend; supportive, honest, caring and giving. I hung out with my husband, cat and bird a bit longer and then we went to bed. We keep it cold in our house so as we snuggled up together, I reflected on my day. I was exhausted; it was late and I was happy. I am loved and I love. I have people in my life that challenge me, that support me, laugh with me and cry with me. I have a husband who is my best friend and our marriage is stronger for the challenges it has faced. I think we have a good shot at making 70 years.

Every day has up and downs and every one faces some degree of challenge but to get through life you need to see the magic in your day too; dinner with family, an encouraging word from a friend, a warm embrace from a spouse, even a lick on the nose from a loving pet. I wish I could lay on the lawn at my grandparents' house and watch the fireflies with the innocence of childhood and maybe someday soon I will. Until then I will just hear the Fireflies song and think of my grandparents, my family and friends, their love for me and mine for them. Those are my thousand hugs from ten thousand lightning bugs. Now I just need to find a mason jar big enough for all of them.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tri Training Recommitment Update- Bubble Blower No More.

This week I re-dedicated myself to training for my upcoming triathlon in hopes of sticking with it. Overall the week has been pretty good. My mom is 64 and I convinced her to do this triathlon because I thought it would be fun for us to do the training and the race together. So far it has been far from fun. She fell off her bike in July and injured herself pretty badly. After taking 3 painful weeks off she got back on the bike but her confidence was shot along with her cardiovascular endurance. Without lung strength swimming also became a chore. Last Sunday while I was being high fived for my top 3 finish in a time trial, my mother sat on the bench crying into a towel. She couldn't relax in the water and didn't finish half the race. It is an odd reversal to comfort your mother but I tried. She is exceptionally hard on herself (which explains where I get it) and my cheers of "You can do it!" "We have time" and "You are doing great" did not do much to help her.

We intentionally took Monday off and did a tri group bike ride on Tuesday. We had some tire issues so ended up in a small set all our own which was fine with me. My mom did well considering two months ago she could hardly get on the bike. Tuesday she rode for 4 miles, most of which on a busy 4 lane Rea Road at rush hour. We had some assholes honk at us which shook her a bit, but other than that it was a good ride, even though it was not the 15 mile ride the rest of the tri group did. She echoed Sunday's disappointment with herself and her level of fitness. As she berated herself I tried again to comfort her, reminding her to compare her performance with her performance in the beginning, not against other athletes who have done multiple triathlons. She has advanced incredibly from that first ride where she stayed in the parking lot, too scared to go on a road.

I decided that to help with our training we should join the Y. I hate the Y, but needed a reliable pool and the Y has one. Doesn't matter what the weather is, the Y pool is available and they always have at least 2 lap lanes open. So my mom and I met at 6 this morning. I walked into the pool and was instantly calmed. I have had a feeling that I was growing to really enjoy swimming. I love the look of a pool before anyone gets in it. This morning as I walked in there were about 20 people swimming for the Masters Swim program (non-team coaching program). It was completely quiet except for the gentle splashing of the people swimming. I can't really explain why this made me happy, but I felt content. There was an empty lane so I got in and began to do my laps. During my last lesson on Sunday one of the mentors commented that I look completely comfortable in the water. I was flattered and surprised. But the truth is, I am comfortable. I feel weightless and graceful and thin and fit and strong. My mom and I had a lane to ourselves and we had a good swim. We didn't go far, but we talked about her breathing, adapting to a slower count so she wouldn't be out of breath and also came up with a plan to build up her cardiovascular strength. I worked on being comfortable rolling to both sides and teaching myself how to flip, to no success.

I drove to work in a great mood and being me, over analyzed this. I realized quite simply that I was proud of myself. When I signed up for the Tri in April, I knew how to get through the water and I didn't sink. I started taking lessons with my tri group as a bubble blower and learned how to breathe, blow bubbles and swim competitively. I learned breathing on only my right, and just last week picked up breathing on a 3 count to both sides. In April I never would have gotten in a lap pool with other people and this morning I knew the etiquette and felt like I belonged there. I have never hated swimming, but in April I would have said it was a means to an end; something I did while diving, or to cool off at the beach. I certainly did not see the appeal of swimming back and forth in one lane for an hour. So I decided to take my own advice and compare myself to the only person worth comparing; myself. In the last 4 months I have come incredibly far swimming and am starting to really love it. The past few bikes rides have been leisurely rides that haven't really challenged my lungs or my legs. But I feel 250% more comfortable riding my bike, getting ready and doing things like changing a flat or fixing my chain. I am going running tonight and while before I really dreaded the running portion of it, I am actually excited about tonight's run. My parents and husband are joining me and then we are all going to dinner afterwards.

People have asked me several times why I decided to do a triathlon and my answer has always been "because I am stupid.". This morning I realized the real reason: it makes me happy. I love learning and growing and being active appeals to me. It gives me balance and keeps me sane. I may not finish in the top half of this race and if so I am sure I am going to be disappointed that day. Overall though I think this is one of the best things I have ever done for myself. Every athlete has bad weeks or bad training sessions. I know my mom and I will work through this together and be stronger for it. I feel like this is what I am supposed to do with my body and am enjoying learning new things about myself. I may have recommitted to training but I think I really need to recommit to me, the new athletic, swimmer me; Bubble Blower no more.

Monday, August 3, 2009

I could medal in self-sabotage

In April a friend of mine told me she thought I should do a triathlon. I politely laughed at her suggestion and thanked her for the compliment but told her she was crazy. I am not a sports person; have never been. My brother is one of those naturally athletic people and I have spent my life watching him pick up a golf club and shoot a 78 on his first round, or decide to start running and do a quick 10 miles to see how he liked it. He is tall, lean and can naturally adapt to any sport. I have joked that I donated those genes to him...I sacrificed for the greater good.

While I would never consider myself athletic, in shape or fit, I would consider myself active. My freshman year in college I was banned from the college gym because I was going 3 times a day and they thought I had exercise bulimia. I was just bored and I enjoyed the brainlessness of following an aerobics instructor. I have worked out pretty consistently since then, mostly because I find it keeps me sane. But a triathlon? That is for athletic people.

But after a few days, I was still thinking about it. Everything lined up well. It is a sprint distance, so shorter than usual. It is women only. It is in September so I would have time to train. The swim is in a pool instead of a lake so for me, a non-swimmer, this is ideal. I talked the idea over with my husband. The last year has been a transition year for our marriage and we are continually searching for things that the new Amy and new Joe like to do together. Joe is a big swimmer and we both like biking so we decided that we could do some training together. I signed up for the Ramblin Rose Triathlon.

Fast forward to August: The tri is only 7 weeks away and I still feel like I have a lot of work to do. I am no longer afraid that I can't finish. I know I can. Now I want to finish strong. I want to be in the top half of the finishers. Really, I'd like to finish in the top 200 people. OK, honestly, I'd like to win my age group. I may not have gotten any athletic ability, but I did get a good dose of competitiveness.

I also got a healthy dose of laziness too and right now laziness is winning. I am having such a hard time getting motivated to actually do anything. I am going through the training and some nights having a great time. But I don't feel like I am pushing myself hard enough to compete. I swim the minimum amount I need to swim. I bike slowly, just a few miles more than I need to go. I have only run twice since April. I KNOW I will be so frustrated if I don't finish in the top 200. Yet, I just had a kit kat for my morning snack and will most likely hit McD's for lunch.

My self sabotage doesn't only appear in athletic pursuits. I want to have a clean, organized house. I am sure sitting on my couch all weekend did not make that happen. I want to lose 30 pounds. I know I can do this and did last year. I also know that the kit kat and McD's lunch will not help. And yet, those are my choices.

I think part of growing and accepting yourself is admitting that the areas where you self sabotage are the areas you need to accept the faults the first. I think it is your mind's way of saying it disagrees with the plan. I am never going to be a size 4. And frankly, I don't think I want to be. I would like to be 20 pounds lighter, but if I don't lose that, I am OK too. I am comfortable walking around a pool in my bathing suit and I think that counts for something.

So I can have a truce with my mind and tell it that I hear its cries loud and clear. My mind wants to be fat. OK - I give. McD's for lunch it is. But hear me mind: I am not willing to compromise on the triathlon. I don't WANT to compromise on the triathlon. I had a great swim yesterday. I finished third and was only passed by one person, who finished first. I got out of the pool and my legs felt strong. My run felt graceful. I felt comfortable and confident. I think that finishing in the top 200 in a real possibility for me.

I always find it sad that there are friends that every time we see each other we say "We need to do this more often" and then a year will go by. On the other hand there are friends that I make time for - set up monthly dates, email and call when I get a lone 10 minutes. I think even in the busiest of schedules you always find a way to make the time for the things that matter. I just need to remember that this is one of those things that matter. Really.

So I am rededicating myself for the next 7 weeks. I am going to make this matter. I am going to get sweaty and dirty and sore. I am going to finish strong. And I am going to love it. Do you hear me mind??? Now off to McDonald's.