Tuesday, August 26, 2014

From my notebook

I have a notebook that I've been writing in since I attended the "The Examined Life" writing conference this past spring.  The notebook is a stenographer notebook.  It reminds me of the notebook my mother kept in our family's car growing up.  She kept it housed in the glove compartment.  She wrote down details from trips in this notebook: mileage at start of trip, gas, food, hotels-money we spent throughout trip, and different stops along the way.  She has always kept lists- her VHS card catalog was detailed.  Recently rid my mother of this card catalog and the VHS taps with helping my parents down size.
 
Love these notebooks!
 

So in my weeks of regrouping/refocusing on new goals and adventures I would like to enjoy now that I'm not strapped to a training schedule I decided I'd just peruse through my notebook and share some great quotes/ideas I've written down over the past months.  In no particular order or genre/topic:

"The Read-Aloud Handbook" by Jim Trelease
"all any one needs is a free public library card and determination to invest her mind and time into her child's futures." (xii)
"Reading is the single most important social factor in American life today." (xxv)
"Reading fact no 1: Human beings are pleasure centered.  Reading fact no 2: Reading is an accrued skill." (8)
"The listening vocabulary is the reservoir of words that feeds the reading vocabulary pool." (11)

I am only about 25 pages into this book- it is on my "to read/to finish" list by x-mas.  I've found that one of the best ways to reconnect with my kids and feel like I'm actually adding to their lives in a good way is through reading aloud to them.  My oldest is getting away from me reading to him, but now instead he is begging me to read books- I need to do a better job at reading these books he is asking me to read.  It will help me keep connected to him.  My youngest is that great age of wanting to so badly read well.  I need to just let her soak up our time of reading together, because in a few years I too will not have her wanting me to read to her any longer.  Yes- savor these days of reading with my children-  Definite priority!

"Writing Down the Bones" by Natalie Goldberg
This book was talked about and suggested throughout my time at the "Examined Life" writing conference so I picked it up.
"Own anything you want in your writing and then let it go" (29)
"We learn writing by doing it." (30)
"Writing too is ninety percent listening.  You listen so deeply to the space around you that it fills you and when you write, it pours out of you." (52-53)
"Basically if you want to become a good writer, you need to do three things.  Read a lot, listen well and deeply and write a lot." (53-54)
"Anything we fully do is an alone journey.  No matter how happy your friends may be for you, how much they support you, you can't expect anyone to match the intensity of your emotions or to completely understand what you went through." (169)

These quotes give me a lot to work on.  I do read a lot, but in comparison to others not as much as I could and I also need to continue to broaden the material I read.  I'm horrible with current affairs, political science, international news, etc.  I also like to write, but I don't do it everyday and don't "work at it" like I should.  Lastly, I need to work on listening.  I'm a very inpatient person and know I need to be better about being quiet, actively listening to others and my surroundings.  I think this work on "listening better" could also do me a great service in my life as parent, wife, and friend. 

Anne Lamott's book "Bird by Bird" only added to Natalie's quotes above... plus her take on religion I totally get and enjoy.
"the one thing I know for sure was that if you want to make God laugh, tell her your plans." (87)
"If you stop trying to control your mind so much, you'll have intuitive hunches about what this or that character is all about."(113)
"You have to give from the deepest part of yourself, and you are going to have to go on giving and the giving is going to have to be its own reward." (203)  This comment reminded me of parenting and then she went on to say..."But they are always yours, your books as well as your children."(203)
"You wouldn't be a writer if reading hadn't enriched your soul more than other pursuits." (sorry forgot to write page number down for this one)

I still haven't read all of Anne's books (nonfiction or fiction) so have more to add to my "to read" list. 

I started reading some writing journals/magazines to learn more about the art/process/heart ache and the beautiful script out there.  I heard themes throughout Writer's Digest, The Paris Review (interview articles of authors, poets engrossed me), Poets and Writer's.  The major themes: read a lot, find your voice, work on being creative (writing and other forms of creativity), and write a lot!

I think when starting any new adventure, goal attainment, or task it feels daunting, but after I get mapped out my course of action I seem to be at better peace as long as the schedule/plan doesn't get too stressful or I let it overwhelm my life.  I struggle with this balance. I struggle with the balance between work/home, but have done better with this and yet feel like I'm less powerful/passionate at work because I don't take it home.  I follow-through on my training plans only to hear my son tell me "you are crabby" towards the end of the long term training schedule, and lastly let other "things" like lets say correspondence with friends/family, quality time with husband, and the never ending quest for non-emotional eating to be present in my life.  Oh isn't life a fun, bumpy, emotional, crazy, and just ever-present beating of the heart rhythm that hopefully, thank the lord, won't end anytime real soon (but then again there is the "glass half empty" thought of what if it were to end tomorrow- I have to hurry up today-oh patience my friend/myself).   



Monday, August 25, 2014

So now what?

I actually wrote this post last Friday, but just getting it down via typing/computer today. 

I went to the gym today with my friend.  Kids are back in school and so I can start back up with my Friday morning routine of meeting my friend at the gym and working out after I drop the kids at school.  My right knee and foot were bothering and had been bothering the past 2 days so I figured I needed to "listen" to my body and give myself a break.  I walked on the treadmill for 20 minutes at slow pace and then called it good.

When we were done with the workout and heading to the showers she asked whether I had a swim or another workout that day to fit in.  I told her "no" (like she was crazy), that I was taking a break.  I reminded her that my race was over and I normally take a week off following a race.  She asked what my plans were in the future.  I told her I'd get back into some runs next week- 3 milers or so- but nothing forced.

It is strange how I can turn it on and off so quickly.  One week I'm working out 6 days a week, sometimes twice a day and the next no scheduled workout routine, mind you any workouts at all.  I've let myself go this week.  Staying up late several nights reading, watching movies, and enjoying some "Natalie pours" of vino.  The mornings have come to early, despite sleeping in and not getting up for 5:30 runs or swims or bikes.  It is a reminder why I can't "live it up" on weekly basis. 

So I'll enjoy the week and the weekend with no long runs or scheduled workouts and regroup, refocus, and start my next adventure.  Still living on "cloud nine" and not yet come down from last weekend's race.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

It was totally EPIC! Pigman Long 70.3 miles

I'm truly still on a high from Sunday's race.  It was unbelievable and I really can't believe I did it.

First I'll finish up with my training schedule to let you know what I did days leading up to the race and then will fill you on THE RACE.

Total miles leading up to the race for the week: 14 miles approximately
Ran 6 miles
Bike: 8 miles + a 10 min spin at wellness center
Swim: 0

I was pretty quiet/on edge the week before the race.  I tried to rest, but I ended up getting a "bee in my bonnet" and did a bunch of house cleaning Wednesday and cleaned out closets Thursday- crazy how different people deal with stress- I like to clean :).  In-laws came in for the weekend to help out with kids on Sunday since we would be gone most of the day.  So lucky to have them in our lives!

So now day of race...
Woke up at 4:45(that is a.m.) ate a cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter and had my coffee.  Left house at 5:15 a.m. only to realize we were almost on E, which is totally unlike us.  So we stopped and filled the car up and headed onto Palo, IA.  We got there about 6:15 and headed to transition- this is what it looks like with all the bikes ready.  We headed out of transition at 7 a.m. to go attend pre-race meeting.  I had heard rumblings of possible delay of race because of the fog.  Yep there was fog- kind of thought it was a sign I wasn't suppose to see the buoys out on the lake when we drove in the park- couldn't see any of the lake.    Well the fog faded and then I saw the buoys/triangle floating devices out in the water marking our swim route.  HOLY BUCKETS- what had I gotten myself into?  Hubby and I stayed together as long as possible and then like that it was time to get into my wave and get ready for the 1.2 mile swim.

I wore a wet suit, really most Pigman Long and Olympic distance participants did.  It really does give you buoyancy.  I went into the water at the end of my wave and tried to start swimming free style.  I felt myself stopping to tread/attempt breast stroke multiple times in swimming to the first triangle, but felt I wasn't going anywhere.  I went to my back for a few strokes and just swam and deep breathed.  I really that first 500 yards was ready to swim to one of the many rescue boats and jump in and say "I'm done", but I didn't and after that first turn a light switch went off in my brain and I was fine.  I started swimming free style and stopped treading/breast stroking.  I did find myself swimming off to the left instead of to the right- I just figured it was my weird crooked swimming, but others said the same thing so maybe it was current.  I likely wasted some time swimming off to the left, but after I swam past the second triangle I was on the home stretch and really swam well.  Throughout the swim I was touched, a few "love taps" by other swimmers, but I felt safe and calm.  I ended up swimming the 1.2 mile swim in 46:27.

I ran/jogged out of the water and did much better than I did at the Pigman Sprint getting through the Transition 1- 4:26.  This was enough time to strip my wet suit off, towel off, put shoes on, put Garmin on and belt with bib on it- as well as the all important food in my tri shirt (ate a GU prior to swim, ate a nature valley Peanut Butter granola bar, fruit chews, and greek yogurt covered raisins on the bike, and then another GU and orange slices on the run), helmet on head and sunglasses. 
This is what they call transition.  Kind of eerie with no athletes present.
 
I started riding.  I had been pre-warned to ride my own race and not pay attention to the high end tri bikes and equipment available.  I was likely the only Long participant who had "cage/basket" instead of clips on bike pedals.  However, didn't have to change shoes from bike to run- so that helps transition smoother.  I got about 2 miles into the ride and I remembered the bike computer.  Hubby and kids gave me an early birthday present- bike computer that tells you distance, mph, etc.  Well every time the front wheel starts rotating the computer will ask if you want "new ride- yes or no"- I didn't even look at this when I got on the bike so I started riding and the other movement of the bike I had done that morning had already triggered a "ride" earlier- so long story short- it wasn't going to accurately calculate my mileage. When I started my ride it said I had already been riding for 38 out minutes.    Now they have mile markers on the route but I was so flustered by looking at the screen and not knowing what numbers were what I  just stopped using it and instead started my Garmin up and just hoped it would last long enough (battery would last for potential 8 hour race).    Then about 6 miles in I looked down at my ankles for some reason and realized my chip was gone.  You wear a Velcro chip band on your ankle during swim and throughout the rest of the race to track your time/progress.  I was freaking out!  I didn't know what it meant- would I owe $100 (that is what they tell you about losing the chip), would I be disqualified, would my time not count?  I being one to not have fear to ask questions yelled out to any course volunteer after mile 6- "I lost my chip do you know what I do"- hubby soon passed me and he asked how I was doing- I told him I lost my chip and he always being "cool under pressure" told me to just tell course marshal when I finished bike my bib number and that "I lost my chip".   He pedaled on.  I pedaled on and was passed, passed, passed by many bikers. I stopped asking about the chip and just focused on riding. 

It was really a beautiful day. 

Now in triathlons they put your age on your calf so it is known what "age group" you are in.  So I was watching the varied age groups pass me- many older than myself.  I just couldn't seem to make any head way.  Well I had to just ride my own ride.  It was a ride.  It was hilly.  The course description was "rolling hills", but it felt more like up and down hills, not rolling.  Biking is hard for me.  By halfway point I was hurting.  I was pretty sure my "private parts" were going to be swollen for days.  I was sore!  By mile 45 I started experiencing leg tremors if I straightened my leg, which worried me because I had to get off the bike, straighten my legs, and run a 1/2 marathon. So I just kept pedaling to not experience the muscle fatigue.   My ideal goal was 4:15 for ride and I finished in 3:52.  Ecstatic I was when I saw the time, but not as ecstatic as I was to get off the bike on Sunday and be able to run with no soreness or pain.

Almost Done with the bike

Transition 2- went into the bike finish line and told them my number and that I had lost my chip.  A race official went with me to my transition area to help me look for my chip and sure enough it was stuck in my wet suit.  When I took my wet suit off after the swim the chip just stuck in the leg of wet suit.  I strapped the chip on and away I ran. 

Me after finding my chip- boy was I happy!
 
For some reason I like this picture- I'm not a little thing- I still have gymnast thighs, but my arms look pretty Burly!  See the chip on the ankle that was what I was so happy to have back on.

By now it was extremely sunny, warm, and I had to run 13.1 miles.  I knew they were going to have aid stations every mile and I was not disappointed.  I had water, cup of ice, and orange slice at each aid station.  I had brought my own fuel belt with PowerAde Zero and water and used this to keep me hydrated. They had Heed (a triathlete drink similar to the historic Gatorade used during marathons).  Hubby had tried it at the sprint we did earlier in the summer and hated it.  I tried it this time around and it was GROSS!  Not sure if it was not made correctly or what.  I was thankful for my own powerade zero.   The water from the aid station I would either drink or pour over my head.  I was so glad I had a hat.  I put ice in the hat and put hat on head and by every mile the ice was melted and ready for refill.  I also passed a fellow Tri club member and she yelled out- "put ice in your bra it will cool you down"- I tried it and she was right.  It was an out and back course and so by mile 6.5 I knew I was going to make it.  I ran all the miles except the aid station areas- even the hills.  The run was when I started catching up and passing others.  I wasn't even bothered by the heat/sun. 

I truly had an epiphany when running that part of the race- "I AM A RUNNER!"  I'm not fast or speedy nor do I have a runner's physique,  but I can run and I'm a runner!  Now I didn't have the same reaction with swim or bike, but the run I felt really good. 

I finished running a 2:26 half marathon (11:08 pace) which I was ecstatic with after all the miles of swim/bike fun. 

There were a lot of great parts of the day, but one of my favorite was coming down the last stretch- 2 miles or so- and hearing cars pass me and cheer me on/ yell out my name or my tri-club name as some participants were leaving the festivities.  Then the very last stretch there were members of my team smiling and cheering me on.  I was the last of my teammates to cross the finish line, but they were there to cheer me on and support me- no judgement and a lot of pats on the back after the race. 

One of my Tri-Club teammates who also just happens to be one of my good peep's hubby cheering me on down the final stretch.
 
My overall time was 7 hours 11 minutes.  Just writing that down seems pretty amazing to me.  I can't believe I was actively pushing my body for that long.  My ideal time was 7:30 with worse case scenario of 8:00, but it went better than I expected.  I was 9th out of 12th for my age group.  I was really happy with how this race ended up.  I still can't believe it is over.  However, I didn't finish the race and think "OK I'm ready for another one" like I've felt after finishing marathons.  I am ready for a little break!  I'm sure I'll have more to share and look back on, but for now goodnight!  Good luck to all those still training hard for this year's races- it is worth it- it really is!  Accomplishing what you set out for is so powerful. 

I'm a Runner! and I am finishing a 70.3 mile triathlon!



Monday, August 11, 2014

July Reads

The story of my life these days is really not enough time and time disappearing right before my eyes.  I can't believe it is the second week of August and I've yet to put in my July Reads post.  So here it goes- better late than never!

In no particular order...

Gloria Rising by Ann Cameron
This is a book I read with my kids and I really enjoyed as did they.  The book's main character, Gloria, is struggling with a teacher who doesn't really think she is the greatest student and so kind of makes school life a little tough for her.  The teacher thinks Gloria has made up an elaborate story about how she met female astronaut Dr. Street at local grocery store.  What the teacher doesn't realize is that Gloria really did meet a "real life astronaut" and that astronaut empowered her to do all she could to become the girl she desires to become.  Great book about empowering kids and giving them confidence and also a reminder that sometimes the teacher is wrong. 

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

With Maya's passing in May 2014 I decided that it was time for me to see what all the talk was about. I was not disappointed.  I really enjoyed this book.  It was her life up until age 17.  It brought to light so many topics: racism, gender roles, sex, sexual preference, family.  It was a great story and her writing style was enjoyable and beautiful.  I plan to read some more of her works.

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

Another on the Newberry Award list I can check off.  This was a great book.  I feel like it flowed perfectly with my other reads of Gloria Rising, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings for the month of July.  It was a heart wrenching story that brought to light again racism, gender roles, and family.  Don't think my youngest is ready for this book, but I think my fourth grader would like it.  I highly recommend this Newberry Award.

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell

Another Newberry Award list winner.  I started this book with my kids on vacation at the end of June and finished the first week of July.  It was a good story, but my kid just weren't really drawn to it.  Don't know if it just wasn't exciting enough for them, because at times I did feel it moved a little slow.  However, I was very drawn to the story and the survival of this young girl by herself after losing her father, her brother and her community.  She was extremely brave and knew how to take care of herself.  I was also amazed by her ability to forgive.  You'll know what I'm talking about when you read it.

Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist by Tim Federle

I really enjoyed this nonfiction "cocktails cookbook".  If you are a reader I too think you will enjoy looking at the recipes that go along with the books.  Maybe I'll have to pick my next book club pick based on a drink from this book.  If you like drinks it also would suit you well. 

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I read this last year, but listened to it this year on Audiobook because it was our book club book for July.  It always strikes me as how I can read a book one year and then review it/reread it the next year and notice things I hadn't noticed before or even better yet made up the story line in my head from what I gleamed the first read through and then realize the next time around how I really didn't quite get it all right.  Basically- I thought certain things occurred reading this book the first time around and noticed the second reading that they really didn't.  However, I still liked this book a lot the second time around.  When I first started listening to it on disc I thought I wouldn't last long because of the narrator (not Cheryl Strayed), but the voice grew on me and later I didn't even notice it bothering me anymore. 

Here are two additional books that I can't remember if I read them in June or July. I said in earlier post I've been so preoccupied with other things, mainly training, that I've realized I've not been doing a great job of writing posts or even keeping track of what I've read this summer. The first one was an audiobook and I enjoyed it so much (probably not appropriate description- "enjoy" isn't a word you use when describing book on serial/psychopath killer/murderer) and then because of the audiobook I went back and read the first in the series- currently I'm listening to book #8 in the series.

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo (#7 Hary Hole series)
Great book to listen to on long trainer rides in the basement and also on long runs.  Riveting story and it had me totally taken in.  Enjoyed it so much went back and read...

The Bat by Jo Nesbo (#1 Hary Hole series) 
It was an o.k. read.  I enjoyed The Snowman more and am enjoying The Leopard (#8) currently via audiobook.  I will likely go through a couple more of these books/audiobooks as the story lines are entertaining, intriguing, and he writes mystery/murder/ and psychopathy well. 

Reading fills me- it really does- even when stressed or crabby reading gives me peace and happiness.  I'm so grateful to be able to read.  Don't know what I would do without my books. 

Week 15- Training Pigman Long 70.3

Today I start my last week of training pre Pigman Long 70.3. 

Even though this week ends with 16 weeks of training, I really feel like I have been training since January 2014: buying a rode bike and trainer for basement, joining IA HEAT (tri group), signing up for Pigman Short, and Long, learning how to swim more efficiently, and learning how to swim longer, learning how to be confident on rode bike, along with the continued long runs and lifelong learning of how to balance being mom, wife, athlete, professional, etc.

So last week of training before the "taper week" was o.k.
Total Miles: 50.14 miles
Swim: 1.14 mile
Bike: 31 miles
Run:18 miles

I came down from my Triathlon Age Group Win "high" fast when coming home from work on Monday and having a horrible headache, eating soup and heading to bed early (9 pm) Monday became my "rest day".  Tuesday I ended up running after work and was suppose to run 5 miles.  I didn't have a headache, but instead had the worse abdominal gas pains/cramps of my life.  If I could of I would have gladly "let out some gas", but nothing happened so I tortured myself for about 4.7 miles before giving in and calling it a night.  Another night of soup crackers, and to bed by 9pm. Wednesday I ran 5 miles in a "turtle pace" again after work.  No gas pains, but just felt BLAH.    Followed up by Thursday morning bike of 31 miles.  Considering the days before this I was happy to have put in some decent miles.  Saturday I did my long run of 8 miles again at a slower pace and ended the training week with 2000 yds of pool fun. 

My confidence right now is not super.  I have slacked off in my swimming and biking and at the same time know that I really can't do a whole lot about it right now. I just have to hope I've trained enough to get me through on Saturday.  It seems so surreal to write that- this Saturday- YIKES! 

So this week is kind of a hodge-podge of activities- a little swim, bike,run one day, and another day of just bike and another of just run.  I'm planning on resting as much as I can, along with staying hydrated  and eating well/carbing up.  I told someone at church this past Sunday that I wouldn't be able to be there this coming week because of the race- I told her to pray for me- would tell you to do the same. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Week 14 training- Pigman Long

I've been so removed from writing and reading blogs lately that I didn't even realize that this post I wrote over two weeks ago never got posted.  So you are going to get two posts today- one from Week 14 and one from Week 15.  Sorry 

This past week has been a different training week, because I had to figure out how to do the training along side getting ready for a mini-sprint. 

Mileage was way down this week or so I thought and then I added it up and my 56 mile bike ride on Thursday really pushed my overall miles up there. 

Total: 79 miles
Swim: .6 miles
Bike: 70 miles
Run: 8 miles

Earlier in the week I "hit the wall" and took a rest day for mental sanity on Wednesday.  Thursday I got back "in the saddle" and did a 56 mile bike and followed it with a 2 mile run.  I did great and felt good, other than my sore A_ _.  Thursday after hubby got done with work drove home (hometown for both of us) with our kids to prep for the mini sprint we were in on Sunday.  Friday was a rest day from training, but really wasn't a "rest day".  I helped my mom, along with my sister and hubby, move boxes and other items from my parent's current home to their new home (they are down sizing).  So all that carrying, walking up and down stairs, and packing (likely not using proper ergenomics) made me extremely sore, especially my calves.  So Saturday when I awoke to "screaming" tight calves I decided no run just a ride of the route via bike for our race on Sunday.  Also participated in some much needed pool time that did not involve doing laps, but instead enjoying my kids, nephew and niece, sister, and mom.  I've missed that kind of summer pool time this year. 

Sunday came and I felt good.  The mini sprint we were in is just that mini: 250 yard swim in pool, 6.5 mile bike and 2.1 mile run.  I did really well.  I ended up doing it in 46:48. Placed 1st in my age group, and 18th overall.  I was the third female overall too.  My swim time improved about 4 minutes from the year before swim 4:57 (last year 5:01), bike was also much improved 23:44 (last year 27:58) and lastly my run was the same 18:06 (so at least not getting slower as I age :)).  It felt good to see improvement.  It also felt good to race and be efficient in my transitions.  The swim was somewhat a cluster- it was a pool swim, with participant starting every 10 seconds and swimming down and back in lanes and then moving to the next lane.  After lane one I left a highschool girl pass me and started swimming and then felt this girl swim over/around me and kept kicking me.  She was all business and there was no "sorry" etc spoken during the race.  That same girl tried to catch up with me on the run, but her labored breathing gave her away and I was able to do my end of race "kick" and come in before her.  Come to find out she is much younger than me so not my "age range" competition.  The bike was great and I felt very good throughout all 6.5 miles (kept on thinking wow- shorter distances are so much  easier- throughout the whole race).  The run also ended well and I had no wobbly legs going from bike to run so I'm hoping this again will prep my body for the stress/strain I will feel when hopping off the bike in Pigman (56.2 miles bike to a 13.1 mile run).  "Lordy what have I gotten myself into" will likely be repeated over and over throughout the upcoming 70.3 mile race in my head and out loud.  So for now I'm basking, for one day- my rest day- in the glory of a great race weekend.