Archive for August, 2012

WHEN AND WHERE IS THE NEXT TRIATHLON?

I DIDN’T DROWN!!!  I am grateful for all your kind words, prayers and postive energy that you sent my way.  I could feel the support and I want to say thank you and recap the event.

We arrived on the scene Saturday night to survey the course and see what we were in for…admittedly mostly just to check the swim out.  I had done a super sprint triathlon with a 300m swim a year ago and I saw the same big orange buoys out in the water and made the assumption that they were marking the course.  The course was an out, over and back style. I was relieved in my mind because it didn’t seem like the distance was out of my league.  It seemed simple, my mind was settled, we had a

great meal and got a good rest that night. 

Arriving back in that same location for gametime the next morning was so exciting.  Part of the challenge of doing a triathlon is to make sure all the gear is in the right place.  I set up my transition station, put my wetsuit on, grabbed my goggles and swim cap and headed down to watch as the first wave entered the water to begin the swim.  There was a guy with a megaphone breifing us on the course and explaining how everything was going to work.  He was talking the course through and said “the orange buoys can be on either side of you but make sure the yellow dorito-shaped buoys are on your right.”  I thought to myself “What yellow dorito-shaped buoys?  Wait, WHAT?!?!?  THOSE ONES WAY OUT THERE?!?!?!  HOLY MACKERAL!!!!  HOW IN TH HECK AM I GOING TO EVEN GET THERE?!?!?!”  It turns out the orange buoys (that we thought were marking the course) are just the sight buoys so you know what direction the yellow doritos-shaped ones are since they are so far it is difficult to see them. The orange ones marked about the half-way distance of each side.

Panic set in and I almost lost it.  I thought all my training was for not because there was no way I could make it that far.  Half mile swim…just seconds away…and all I can think of is I want to curl up in a corner over by the rocks and cry.  My Aunt Patty was standing with me, and with a little “You got this!” from her (Thank you Aunt Patty), I took a deep breath and settled down enough to make my way to the start.

I don’t even know what they said besides “Go” and the water was filled with people splashing and kicking and arms and legs flying as a sea of pink caps flooded the water.  I thought to myself “all I have to do is put one arm in front of the other and keep kicking and breathing like I had been doing in training and I will be fine” and I found a tiny bit of peace.  I passed the first sight buoy with so much negative self-talk going on about how “I can’t go that far” and “I can’t do this” until a moment happened when I realized that I WAS DOING IT!!! …and…I was doing a OK job at it and I was even staying ahead of a few pink caps.  Then I remembered all of you out there and in my head, I began to review all the words you had shared with me leading up to the race.  I pictured all the faces of the people who wrote to me and were standing by me.  It brings me to tears just thinking about it.   Half way between buoy 1 and 2, I found a rhythm.  I would freestyle for 10(ish) strokes and side-stroke for 3-5 and catch my breath.  I remember finally finding a groove and realizing how beautifully navy blue the water is, how warm and wonderful it feels and how powerful my arms are as I watch them cross through my visual field.  It was not easy, the distance was no joke but I found myself rounding the second buoy and was heading towards shore.

If any of you have ever been in the water with me, I freak out when weeds are in or around my body and my heart skips beats with the sight of them.  My Mom would always say, “They are just bushes underwater” to try to help me deal with them.  In the navy blue abyss below me, I could faintly start to see the beginnings of the bottom…and weeds were EVERYWHERE!!!  Do you know how grateful I was to see those weeds because that meant I was so close to shore!!!  KEEP GOING!!!  There was a severe drop-off from the shore and when my foot hit land I was in knee deep water…which meant I could run and that I MADE IT!!!!  There was quite a crowd of people standing on both sides of the swim return area when I finished and I know not one of them really knew what it took for me to get to that point…but they cheered anyway and were part of my fan club, or so I pretended.

I finished.  I made it.  I didn’t drown.  I kept going.  I swam 750m!!!

Oh yeah, and then there was the 12 mile bike ride and the 5K run and the finish line.

I have a friend that was sending me motivational quotes the day before the race and at the very end of the evening, just before I went to sleep, he sent this:

“Life shrinks or expands exponentially in proportion to ones courage.” 

So so true.  Life is really, really good.  “Strength isn’t doing something that you know you will succeed at, strength comes from doing something you thought you never could”.  I finished the entire race and besides the HUGE silly smile on my face and a cheesy thumbs up picture to post to facebook, I thought “When is the next one?”

I don’t know…maybe I am sick…  🙂

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I BROKE DOWN…TRIATHLON TRAINING IN TEARS

I broke down this morning…on my run.  I broke down and found myself in tears.  Some of you know that I have been training really hard for a sprint distance triathlon that is coming up this weekend.  My mornings are spent swimming or running or both.  I have been working super hard on the swimming part of it because that is my biggest challenge of the triathlon sport.  The distances for the race are 750 meter swim, 12 mile bike, and 5K run. 

This morning I got up and put on all my gear to jump in the lake and swim.  It really wasn’t what I wanted to do but I knew I had no choice.  I found myself standing in waist high water not wanting to take the plunge…literally.  I learned to swim just last year and I am still learning the technicalities of the stroke and breathing and rhythm.  I really wish I would have learned how to put all that together many years ago.  It is hard to teach an old dog new tricks…though it is possible.  I hired a swim instructor over the past couple weeks and have learned so much from her. 

Back in 2006 I was diagnosed with a hole in my heart.  It is a hole that is there while in utero but is supposed to close shortly after birth.  There is a small percentage of the population that has this challenge.  I constantly push my body to it’s limits.  Because of the hole, some of my blood skips the lungs and the oxygenation process and so my body ends up with a lower oxygen carrying capacity.  I have a challenge improving my running times and biking times because I can only breathe so hard.  Then I add the variable of the breathing process while swimming and only being able to take in so much air per stroke.  I end up running out of oxygen quickly.

This morning my swim felt awful.  It was hard, I had to stop a lot and I got really frusturated when I am found myself gasping for air…yet again.  I got back to my dock, switched to my running gear and took off with the dog for a little over 2 miles.  It was a simple run and a beautiful morning however I was so stuck in frustration about my swim that I had the thought “I am not going to be able to finish that swim on Sunday.”  Admitting to a limitation is a very difficult thing because there isn’t much more that I want but to be able to swim with ease, especially with how hard I have been working on it lately.  It is frustrating and I allowed myself to go to tears for a few moments. Then I realized that I cannot run and cry at the same time so I better pull it back together…which I did and finished my run easily. 

I came across a quote last night that I will keep close to my heart this week.  It goes something like “Strength isn’t doing something that you know you can do, it is doing something that you once thought you couldn’t.”  I will keep practicing and on Sunday, August 19th, ready or not, at 8:00AM I will be heading into the Traverse City Bay and swimming 750 meters, followed by a bike and a run.  I will be in a shorty wetsuit because it will allow me to, at the very least, stay buoyant and warm.  I will put one arm in front of the other, and be grateful for my two arms, and kick, and be grateful for my two legs, to propel myself forward for those 750 meters.  If you are reading this right now and you think of it when you wake up that morning, send me a little prayer of strength and endurance. 

I have completed a full marathon (ran 26.2 miles) however this is a pretty close second when it comes to anxiety before a race.  I do a lot of races and push my limits on a regular basis just to see where those limits are.  I am motivated by the feeling of completing them and being awarded a medal, to look back on, for participating, although some races do not hand out medals.  I never expect to win and I look at completion of the race as the win.  All I have to say is there better be a medal at the finish line of this particular race.  I broke down this morning, but I will keep my chin up!

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LIFE IS A ROLLER COASTER

It’s been quite a few years since I rode a roller coaster.  I had dinner with a friend the other night and they had mentioned that Cedar Point http://www.cedarpoint.com has a new “fast pass” that makes the day so much more enjoyable with faster lines.  There is a behind the scenes entrance to all the major rides and when people are waiting 1-2 hours for a ride, this “fast pass” line takes about 20 minutes.  It is over double the price of a normal ticket but worth every penny!

From the Front Seat

Front Seat of Maverick

Once I decided to go and roped a friend to go with me, my goal was to ride a couple of my favorite roller coasters, the Maverick and the Millennium Force, all day long…and that is exactly what we did.  I love both of these roller coasters for different reasons.  Millennium Force is just plain HUGE and really fast, rising to 310 feet, 80 degree drop, and traveling at 93 miles per hour.  The Maverick is a totally different beast and travels a mere 70mph but is full of twists and turns and tunnels and is meant to mimic a rodeo. 

The lines moved so quickly it was actually worth waiting a couple extra minutes to ride in the front seat of the Maverick.  It is a game changer to experience that ride from the front seat.  You get to see everything first hand and shooting up and over a hill with a 95 degree drop (more than vertical) really gets the butterflies and adrenaline moving!  From there it is up and over another hill, twist one way, twist the other, over, under and around for about 2 min 30 sec.  In the middle there is a pitch black tunnel that you come to a complete stop in.  Anxiety builds while sitting in the dark waiting for the next phase. You are then blasted through and out of the tunnel and twist one way, then then other, over under and around again until you come to a complete stop at the end.  Go try it sometime…it is a wild rush!

Of course as I am riding this ride over and over, I am thinking about how it relates to life.  Life has its ups and downs.  As soon as we are up, we are down, and when we reach the bottom, we are already heading back up.  Life twists one way, we make a correction and it twists the other way.  We get over things, we feel pinned down under things.  Just when we have given up and stop to close our eyes and reflect, it is time to open them back up as we are slingshot out of a dark tunnel and more ups and downs and twists and turns.  WOW!!!

So what are we supposed to do?  How can we gracefully maneuver this ride called LIFE?  When I get in line for these roller coasters, I am nervous every single time.  I don’t care if I rode that ride 3 times already that day, I am still nervous when I strap myself in.  I bank on the fact that there are loads of people, on a daily basis, making it to the end alive and well.  I realize if I am strapped into the seat correctly, I have a really good chance of making it safely.

This idea doesn’t work quite so easily and readily for real life because there are no seats, harnesses or seat belts.  I relate the harness and seat belt to our ideas and concepts about the world and the seat is the solid foundation we build on.  If we figure out what our core values are, keep a positive attitude, and keep laying down a good, solid foundation, we will make it through the ups and downs and twists and turns quite gracefully.

When you get a chance to take a wild ride on a roller coaster, DO IT!  When you realize your own life is the roller coaster, EMBRACE IT!  Have some fun with it and know that if you have employed the proper harness and seat belt, though its not possible to come out of life alive (that is just against the rules), we can have an enjoyable ride!

Can you relate?  Have you been on a wild ride, either literally or figuratively?  I would love to hear your stories!

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