Saturday, December 17, 2016

Pictures of Me

Today my coach texted me asking for pictures from my first Olympic Triathlon last summer.  I asked why and he said he was putting together a project for the team and wanted to use the pictures in that.

I actually hesitated.

I almost said no.

This is going to sound really silly.  Especially since I post pictures from my events here in my blog and on social media all the time.

But it has taken me a long time to be okay with doing that much.

I still don't like myself in pictures.

I still look at them and see all my faults and fat rolls and places that wiggle and jiggle.

I have made a very conscious decision to be in pictures, to post pictures and to try and not comment on my true thoughts about how I look in pictures.  I don't want to be gone someday and not have many pictures for my family to look at and remember all of our adventures.

We had this happen when my aunt passed away from breast cancer.  She was always a heavy lady, and looked even heavier than she probably was because she was very short.  When she passed away and my cousins were putting together a slideshow to show during her memorial they had a hard time finding very many recent pictures to use.  Most of the pictures she was in she would make a face because she wasn't happy someone was pointing a camera in her direction.  But when I think of my memories of my aunt they are full of laughter and love. She had a huge heart and a quick wit and I loved her so much.  I decided then, even before I started working on being a healthier me that I would not leave that as my legacy to my kids.  "She didn't want to have her picture taken because she was fat."

As a mom I always tried to do whatever was fun with my kids when they were growing up.  Even if I was terrible at it or looked ridiculous.  If my kids wanted me to swim with them, I swam.  If they wanted me to run around a softball field with them after their dad played a game, I ran.  If they wanted me to swing with them, hang on the monkey bars or do an obstacle course I gave it a shot.  I didn't want to be the mom that just watched them.  I wanted to be the mom that played with them.

But the pictures didn't reflect that for a long time.  I avoided being in pictures by being the one who took the pictures.  Before cell phones and selfies this was an easy way to hide behind the camera.  I would play and goof off and then go grab the camera and take pictures of everyone else.  I never asked anyone to take pictures for me because I secretly didn't want to be in them.

I decided to get over it.

Mostly I do okay.  Every once in a while that self-conscious side of me rears its head again.  If I'm looking at pictures and I make a comment about my tummy or some other flaw, my husband is all over it.  He hates that I do that and shuts me down immediately.  He seems to think I'm pretty no matter what, he may be a little biased.  😉

Today when my coach asked me for pictures I really wanted to say no.  It seriously makes me anxious to think that pictures of me are being used to show off what a bunch of athletes are up to.

I feel more like an athlete than I used to.  I know my body is doing more than it's ever done before and I'm learning to take joy in that.

But that doesn't mean that old hang ups and issues don't resurface on occasion.

There are victories here on a couple of levels.

First, that I take my picture or have my picture taken often.  I try to focus on the adventure and fun that I'm having and not how I look.

Second, that I said yes to Jon about using my pictures.  Big win there.

One of the things I have learned is that what my eyes immediately go to is not even close to what everyone else sees.

It seems, if you can believe it, that most people don't look at my tummy.  They look at my smile.  Go figure.  😏
Strong & Smiling.  I like that description.  😄
Get your picture taken!

Accept the compliments!

Learn to see yourself through the eyes of people that love you.

Being a healthier person doesn't mean just working on the body but also working on the mind and heart.

Sometimes that is harder but like most things in life, the hard things have the biggest rewards.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Taking Joy in What My Body Can Do

I have been feeling fat and frumpy lately.

I think this is partly because of the time of the year.  It's darker for more of the day.  It's hard to be motivated to do anything.  Sometimes I feel like I'm just doing what I can to make it through each day.

I also think that it is part of my own self doubts and body image issues.  While I have come a long way in that area, it is a never ending battle.  

Lately I have been trying to remember on how far I have come in becoming a healthier me.  I have been looking at pictures from the past few years or realizing how cool it is to have extra length on my airplane seatbelt after I have buckled in.  

But as cool as that is, it hasn't really helped me feel less fat and frumpy.  

I've been comparing again.  Never a good thing!  Fabulous people that I know and love that are making awesome changes and seeing immediate and significant results.  I'm so happy for them and proud of them for working hard to make positive change.  But the nasty little person in the back of my head is stomping her feet and wailing, "Why can't I have change that quickly?  Why are they already faster than me?  Why did they get to lose weight so fast?" 

Blah Blah Blah.

Same stuff that I have whined and bitched about for years.  

I seriously need to get over myself! 

Because they aren't me.  I have changed.  I am faster than I used to be.  I have lost weight.

It just hasn't gone the way I had planned or wanted.  

You would think at my age I would have a better understanding of how life rarely goes the way I plan or expect.  😳

For all I know there is somebody out there that wishes they have had the results I have had.  

I have had a cold for about a month now.  Mostly a really nasty cough that isn't too bad during the day but gets worse in the evening and then is horrible at night.  I seriously feel like I'm coughing up a lung.  When I exercise I feel like someone who should be hauling around an oxygen tank because I sound so awful and wheezy.  

In spite of this I have had some pretty decent runs and swims.  My swimming this fall has been trending faster pretty consistently.  I am about 30 seconds or more faster per 100 yards than I was a year ago.  That's pretty cool.  My coach has me doing a lot of running intervals at paces that I never would have dreamed I could sustain for any length of time, let alone for a 200, 400 or 800 yard interval.  

Pretty fun to see the improvements even when I'm not feeling 100%.

Last week I was doing my Wednesday group run with Jon and a couple of his other athletes, Mike and Marcus, on the OSU campus.  It was cold and rainy and I didn't really want to go.  But I sucked it up and went.  We did our warm ups then ran a lap.  Usually I am hard pressed to keep up with everyone on their warm up lap since their slow pace is faster than my fast pace.  However, in spite of the wheezing I chugged along with Marcus the whole time.  (I don't think he was going slow for me.  lol)  Then we did some short speed drills working on our form and run cadence.  Next we took off to run the Beaver Freezer route for a few laps around campus.  

The other two guys took off and Jon ran with me for two laps.  I always enjoy running or riding my bike with my coach.  We talk about all kinds of things, mostly about workout things but also about big picture stuff that all connects to being a healthier, happier person.  There's lots of stuff that I know in my head but getting it into my heart is hard work.  Comparing, perspective, etc.  All my usual blah blah blah stuff. 

One of the things that Jon said really has stuck with me this week.  He said that loose clothes and airplane seat belts that aren't tight are all awesome and fun.  But he wants me to be proud of and take joy in what my body is able to do.  

Take joy in what my body is able to do.  

That has stayed with me all week.  

I have come so far.  

I am doing things that six years ago I never would have dreamed of.  

Sometimes it's not pretty. 

Sometimes it's freaking fantastic.  

Either way there are lessons to be learned and things to gain from the experience.  

Here are some things that my body can do that I take joy in:

I can run.  There are people out there who have served in the military who have lost limbs.  There are people out there who were hurt during the Boston Marathon bombing that lost their legs.  While they overcome many difficulties to be able to walk with prosthetics and function again, I just swing my legs out of bed each morning without much problem.  I can run anytime I want.  It's really a pretty remarkable thing. 

I can swim.  Just over a year ago I got in the pool with my daughter to work on becoming someone who could swim competitively.  At first I was sure I was going to drown before I ever was able to swim on length of the pool (25 yards) without snorting water or having to stop.  Now I swim 200 or 300 yards for a warm up!  I have discovered that the love for being the water that I have always had has translated into a love for the sport of swimming as well.  I really enjoy my time in the pool.  Even if I had decided I didn't enjoy triathlons, I would have kept swimming as part of my work out.  I have discovered something that I really enjoy just because I do.  

I can bike.  I used to be so scared of my bike rides.  Getting ready for a ride was a lot of mental self talk that I was not going to crash, I would be fine and it would be fun.  I have crashed a couple of times.  While it's not fun, I survived and learned a few things which helped me on future rides.  I still have the occasional anxiety about riding my bike.  For the most part I look forward to my rides and working at getting stronger so I can go faster.  It reminds me of when I was a kid and I got my first 10-speed bike.  I loved riding around the neighborhood with my brother and sisters.  There are times now when I'm flying down a hill and I feel just like I did on that 10-speed when I was a kid.   

Me!  I can do those things!

Still tired all the time?  Yep!

Still not at the weight I want to be?  Yep!

Taking joy in the fast that I am stronger than I have ever been? ABSOLUTELY!!

When I started running I did a 5k and then got talked into doing a half marathon.  I sometimes feel like I missed out on enjoying the process of getting better at the shorter distances and working my way up to the longer one.  I'm not doing that with my triathlons.  I'm enjoying every part of the process and working at getting better at what I have done.  I'll know when and if I am ready to tackle something longer.  In the meantime: 

I'm taking joy in the fact that I did a whole bunch of triathlons last year and fell completely in love with the sport and all that goes with it.  

I'm taking joy in the fact that I have the ability and the health to keep working at getting stronger so that I can get better at being the best athlete I can be.  I know there are many people out there fighting sickness or other struggles that would probably love to be able to be active, even if it's slow.  Grateful that I can continue to work at being as healthy as possible.

I hope that if you are reading this you are able to look at whatever you are doing to be a healthier you and realize that you should take joy in what you are able to do.  

Sunday, November 27, 2016

November Adventures

November has been a busy month.  Lots of new adventures and many moments of laughter.  Many of the adventures and laughter revolved around events.  I have to say I love that!
It was a lovely rainy day in the Pacific Northwest.  I don't know if we could handle a dry Silver Falls race weekend.  It wouldn't seem right somehow.  This year we stayed in cabins at the Silver Falls park and went up on Friday evening to pick up our packets and settle in.  The cabin was cozy, had a heater and its own bathroom!  The thing I like least about camping is having to get up and use the restroom in a distant location.  Having one in the cabin was awesome.  The warm shower was especially nice later in the weekend.

As usual, lots of people we know were doing various races over the course of the two day event.  It's very fun to see people before the races start and even meet new people!

This year my friend Beth was doing the 7 miler for the first time.  She has gotten into trail running this year and LOVES it!!  So fun to see her enjoying it so much.  We have talked in the past about how important it is for everyone to find their thing.  She found hers on the trails.  She hates running on the road but loves every moment in the forest.  So cool!!
We found a spot in the middle of the pack at the start and got ready to have some rainy day, muddle puddle splashing fun.  We took off together and ran for about a mile together.  We lost each other after that.  I had some tightness once I got to the stairs which slowed me down so the last couple of miles I had to really push.  I finished about two minutes faster than last year.  I was hoping for a bigger margin but was actually pretty happy considering how tight I got.  Beth had an amazing race!  Without me realizing it, she found me at the finish line.
Beth has on the white hat!  Nice work lady! 
BIG SMILE.  That pretty much says it all.  
I'm super proud of Beth!  And so glad she found her thing that she enjoys and keeps her motivated to keep moving.

The last month or so I have really dealing with feeling fat and frumpy.  I've done all this work and it's been so slow and sometimes I forget how far I've come.  I forget that while it is slow it's been movement in the right direction.

Joe always takes pictures of me at the finish line when he's at my races.  After we got home I pulled up my finish line pictures from the last four years at Silver Falls.

The first picture is when I did the half marathon in 2013.  Next is the first year they had the 7 miler and I walked most of it that year, 2014.  Next is last years picture where I had been really working at my trail running and keeping up with my workouts even with the start of the school year, 2015.  Last picture is this year.  Almost a year of working with a coach and adding swimming, biking and strength training to the normal routine.  😊

Joe did the half marathon on Sunday.  It was nice to be in the cabin and not have to get up super early two days in a row to drive to Silver Falls.  The weather was gorgeous for him.  The trails, however, were a lot muddier and a lot wetter from the full day of rain and runners the day before.

He rocked his race and was really happy with how he did.
Sun is shining and he's ready to run!
We got home from Silver Falls on Sunday evening.  I worked Monday and then Tuesday morning we left bright an early for a trip to Disneyland to celebrate our youngest daughter's 16th birthday.  
We had been planning a trip sometime during this school year.  I was looking at when to go and realized that if we went the week of Meighan's birthday we could also participate in the Captain America 5k.  Meighan thought that was a fantastic idea.  lol  

What she didn't know is that we also invited her three best friends and one of the girls parents to come along and join in the fun.  They surprised her at the airport.  Those girls kept it a secret for six months!!  So impressive! All eight of us participated in the run.  

We started at 5:30 a.m. so we were up and heading to the start early!  Oh dark thirty!  Joe took off for his corral and then Mark and I got into ours while the girls and Jodie went to theirs.  
Ha!  Mark looks like the light is part of his head.  lol 
Party at the start line!
The Fearsome Foursome heading to the race.
We got to run through California Adventure and then through Disneyland.  They had all the different Avenger super heroes along the route where people could stop and get their picture taken.  I saw Hawkeye, Thor, Spiderman, Captain America (of course!), Black Widow and a few others.  So much fun!  
We all found each other at the finish area.  A good time was had by all.  Awesome medals and more fun memories added to the collection!  
Got me some Run Disney bling!
My favorite running guy!
Love these two!!  
The whole gang!  What a great time!
I didn't do as well as I wanted to do.  I had been fighting a cold and cough ever since the weekend of the Silver Falls trail run and it hadn't let up at all while we were at Disneyland.  All the walking and standing on concrete had made my legs sore and tired.  But I just decided to do my best and be fine with however it turned out.  It actually wasn't a terrible time for me in general.  I finished in 38:08 with an average pace of 12:08.  Not too shabby considering I was sick and everything was complaining.  Mostly I just had a lot of fun and enjoyed being able to run in the parks.  

Once we got home it was back to work and working out. A little hard to get in the groove again after any trip.  Trying to get back in the groove when you are sick is even harder.  This cough will just not let go.  

Turkey Trot 2016

Joe had to work on Thanksgiving this year so he wouldn't be able to run with me Thanksgiving morning.  Taylor had to work as well and neither of the girls wanted to run.  😢  So I decided to go to Corvallis and run with my coach and his son.  😊  

The weather was supposed to be miserable.  Pouring down rain and blowing hard.  It wasn't too bad before the race.  I got to see lots of friends and meet some new ones.  That is one of the fun things I love about events.  Hanging with people I love and expanding my circle of awesome people all while getting ready to go be a little healthier.  

My coach/friend Jon and his son (my running buddy during track workouts) Logan.  
I got pretty soaked during the run so it was nice to put on some dry clothes before heading home. 
Lucky number!
I'm still not feeling 100%.  Seriously this cough will not go away.  Every day it's a teeny bit better but it's taking forever.  Before you start thinking that I should have gone to the doctor, I did last week.  No bronchitis or pneumonia, just irritated lungs.  

This makes breathing while running a bit challenging, especially if I'm trying to go fast.  But just like the Captain America race I decided I would just do the best I could and enjoy the fact that I get to be out there doing crazy stuff like run in the rain on Thanksgiving morning.  

I ended up with an official time of 35:10 which is an 11:20 average pace per mile (my Garmin had me at 34:49 lol)  I also was 9th in my age group out of 37 which was kind of cool.  

Not too shabby considering how wheezy I still am.  I'll take it!  

Next week my son and I will be doing the Shellburg Falls trail run.  I did that one for the first time last year and it was a lot of fun and a beautiful trail.  I'm looking forward to doing it again.  

Joe and I have decided to not do any big events (aka Ironman, out of state events, big registration fees, etc.)  So we are planning on doing the same triathlons as last year (that I did, Joe will do them too) and CLR (of course!) Joe has to pick his vacation days for next year and I had to give him all the dates of the races.  It still makes me smile when we plan trips and vacations around runs and events.  One of my co-workers commented on our Captain America 5k pictures.  She said, "Leave it to you to find a way to get to do a race while you are on a vacation."  I love it!!  If that's our normal it's a pretty fantastic way to be in my opinion.  

Three race reports in one blog!  It's been a busy month!! 😊👍

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Not Easier but I'm Stronger

It's been almost a month since the Best in the West triathlon.  It was some time for rest and not worrying about a schedule or anything structured as far as working out went.  I could do whatever I felt like, however I wanted.

Work was crazy busy so it was nice to not have to worry about feeling like I had to do a workout.  At the same time it felt weird to not have the structure of a plan to keep me focused.  Without a plan it is way to easy to not do anything.  At least for me it is.

Then I got frustrated.  This sounds weird because I wasn't doing any workouts and so I wasn't frustrated because I wasn't doing well.  I was frustrated because I was tired.

My tired thing is a pain in the ass.  I had an appointment with my doctor right before school started.  Good news, my A1C number has gone down a little.  Yay!  Bad news, tried another test to see if he could figure out why I'm so tired.  All tests came back normal.

Last January I made a conscious decision to just learn to manage the tired since it's obviously not going away.  Especially since we can't figure out what causes it.  Overall I think I did a better job this past year not letting the tired keep me from doing what I wanted to do.  I have done better balancing and looking at my week and making sure that I include what I need to get the down time or rest I need.  Sometimes that means saying no to fun things with friends, which is hard.  But I have a limited tank of energy and I'm learning to conserve it better.

I thought with the break in my workouts that I would not be so tired since I wouldn't be getting up to workout at 5:00 a.m. a couple times a week and then working out again after school.


I was actually MORE tired!  What!!?

I got pissed off.

I'm driving home from work and butt dragging and then getting up in the morning and driving back to work feeling exactly like I did the night before.  It sucks!!  One weekend I was supposed to go out with friends and I took a nap that was so long that by the time I woke up they had already gone.  Ugh!!  Then later when they were going somewhere new and I could meet them I couldn't muster up the energy to go.  That pissed me off too!

I had a few days of having an internal pity party.  Then it was time to get over it.

I got to go to the OSU football game and take my coach and his family along with me.  The weather was awesome and we had a great time.  I asked Jon when he was going to start me back on a routine. He said he thought I could have one more week without structure unless I wanted to get going.  I told him if I was going to be tired I would rather have something to be tired about.  At least when I'm working out there is a justification for being tired.

So I'm still butt dragging big time.  But at least I'm working out and getting something done even though I'm tired.

The goal this fall is to work on getting stronger so there has been lots of strength training and interval work.  I had to do some track interval work a few weeks ago.  I headed to the track to get it done.  I had to run for five minutes and then do 10 intervals followed by a 5 minute walk or jog.  Each interval was walk for one minute, run for three minutes at a 11:15-11:25 pace, run for one minute at a 9:50 or under pace.  That is much faster than what has been my normal pace.  I had to go faster than normal for three minutes and then go even faster.  Those one minute walk sessions went by way too fast!  I had to do a lot of self talk to do the last few intervals.  I wanted to just call it good after interval seven, eight and nine.  I was happy when I finished interval number 10.  I had to work hard to get that workout done.  I made the goal for almost every interval and the few I didn't were within a few seconds so a that was a good thing.

Then the next Tuesday I had a swim lesson with Bri.  I go in a little early so that I can get a warm up in before we get started.  I had done about 500 yards before my lesson starts.  Which is rather cool all in itself because just a little over a year ago doing 500 without stopping would have been amazing.  Now it's a warm up.  ;-)  Bri talks to me about my form and some things she wants me to work on.  Then she tells me that I will be doing 10 sets of 50 yards with a 30 second rest in between.  I am supposed to do the first one as fast as I can and then try and do the next nine as close to that speed as I can.  What!?  Ummmmm, okay, I don't think so.  It must have been on my face because she gave me the look that said, "Do NOT argue with me!" She also told me that I was not to do any of the 50's slower than 1:05.  

I took off for my first one.  Got back and she asked me my time.  57 seconds.  

Dang it!  It's like typing class.  Where the first class you take a typing test and then you have to improve and get faster than that score.  If you had friends that had been in the class ahead of you then you knew to go really slow on that first test.  That way you didn't have to work quite so hard to show improvement.  

I should have gone slower for that first 50 yards.  lol  

Except that I'm too competitive with myself to do that.  

Nine more times I would be gasping for breath at the wall, tell Bri my time and take off again. 

After the first couple of intervals she informed me that I couldn't go slower than 1:02 since I was doing so well.  


1:00  At this point she's telling me I'm half way there.
1:01  She says this one is the hardest.  The next two will be easier.
1:00  I don't think so!
1:01  Ugh!!

Then I had to do 25 yards with a 30 second break.  She said I had to stay under 32 seconds.  

I was SO tired!


I had to stop because the Masters swim group was going to start and we ran out of time for lessons.  Oh darn!  Bri had me do a 200 yard cool down.  When I got out the pool I was talking with Bri and she said she had to tell me something about my workout.  Turns out that the way these intervals work is that I'm supposed to keep doing them until I can't maintain the time/speed anymore and then she would have had me move on to something else.  Except that I kept hitting the mark so I got to keep going.  So if I had given up or slowed down then we would have been done.  But because I kept fighting I did the entire set of intervals.  lol  I was partly grumpy about doing more than I necessarily had to and partly proud that I was able to keep going like I did.  

This last Saturday I was supposed to do a trail run.  My last long trail run before my event next week.  I was supposed to walk the first five minutes and then run four minutes, walk one minute for one hour and 20 minutes, then walk the last five minutes. Which meant that it didn't matter if I was going uphill or down, if it was time to run, I had to run.  I did one of my favorite routes, the Nettleton/Davies loop in the Mac Forest.  I have run the entire thing before, which was work but I did it.  Taylor and I had done this route the week before and walked up the hills and ran on the downhills.  Ended up with a time that was just about the same as the time I had run the whole thing.  I was curious to see how I would do with this run/walk method.  

The direction I started is uphill for about 1.5 miles.  Not horribly steep but steep enough.  I was not breaking any speed records but I worked at just plugging away.  

The first half of the run was in the fog.  Quiet and still in the forest.  I couldn't see far.  Was glad I had the puppy to keep me company.  ;-)  When I turned to come back on the lower road I started to come out of the fog.  I turned a corner and suddenly there was sunshine and blue sky.  So beautiful!!  I had to stop and take a few pictures.  

I got to the end of the running portion and had my five minute walk left and I realized that I was almost back at the gate.  I didn't know what my average pace would be but I knew that I had just done this route faster than I had ever done before.  I was a very happy trail runner....and a very tired trail runner.  

While I was running there were times I didn't want to keep at it.  I didn't want to push hard to go faster.  I wanted to walk more and run less.  I wanted to slow the run way down and settle for my old normal pace.  

Why does it always have to be so hard?

I have been told this quote before.  I even have various versions pinned on my Health Motivation board on Pinterest.  The last couple of months have been showing me that this is indeed true.  I keep pushing and working.  Which means I keep struggling.  Sometimes it goes epically bad.  Other days I feel like I kicked my own ass.  

Just like when I started running. 

As long as I'm trying to be a better, healthier me then it will never be easy.  But the hard will be in a different place then it used to be.  

I have to remember that and keep things in perspective because I'm my own worst enemy at times when it comes to being frustrated and having self-doubt.  

I have come a long way in six years.  

I have come a long way in just the past year.  

But if I'm always setting new goals and trying new adventures then there always should be an aspect of hard and challenging.  Otherwise I'm just stagnant.  Which really isn't much better than when I was a couch potato, the stagnant is just disguised better.   I don't want to be someone who settles for where I am now.  That applies to all aspects of my life, mental and physical.  
This is the fog I had been running in at the start of my trail run.
Change in the weather when I got on the other side!  So beautiful!!
My running buddy.  She's getting used to mom being faster.  ;-)  
Never thought I'd go this fast on a run with this kind of elevation.
A few years ago getting an average pace of 13:34 on a flat run would have been amazing.  Doing it with 719 feet of elevation is freaking awesome.  Good for me to remember that!!!!  

Sunday Joe and I did a short walk at a place in Albany we hadn't been before.  It's called the Talking Water Gardens.  It was very pretty with nice trails.  It will be a great place for runs that aren't super long but we don't want to do on the roads.  I loved all the fall color and I loved hanging out with my favorite guy!  

I'm doing the Silver Falls 7 Miler race on Saturday.  I had a huge PR last year (because I basically walked it the year before.)  I'm excited to see what I can do this year.  I'm more excited about spending the weekend with people that are fun, caring and are challenging themselves as well.  So much better being a part of all the fun instead of just being on the sidelines.  

Glad I'm getting stronger. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Best in the West Olympic Triathlon 2016 = FUN!

Race report of the final triathlon of the 2016 season.  A year ago I was beginning to think about maybe doing an Olympic triathlon the next summer.  I had started working on my swimming with Bri as the first step in working towards that goal.  Then I got back on my bike and worked through some fears that I had built up in my mind there.  Then I floundered a bit on how to figure out a plan that would work for me that included running, biking, and swimming and that pesky work type thing.

Joe kept telling me that I should work with a coach.  I kept saying no because I didn't want to spend the money on me.  It's a thing with me.  There are a lot of other things we could be spending the money on.  To me it made more sense to spend money on Joe for triathlons because he already did them and did them well.  But he kept bugging me and finally asked me to meet with Jon and see what I thought and we would go from there.  So I said okay.

That was a super smart decision on my part.  We met with Jon and had a great talk.  Joe and I discussed it and I agreed to having Joe coach me through my first Olympic triathlon and then after that we would see.

Fast forward to July and the Rolf Prima Tri at the Grove.  I had a blast and loved every minute of the race.  I also made sure Jon knew that I was keeping him and I hoped he was okay with that.   Because he was not able to be at that race he asked me if I would be willing to do the Olympic Tri at the Best in the West festival in September so that he could see me in an Olympic triathlon this year.  I was a bit nervous about it for a couple of reasons.  First, the race would happen about three weeks into my school year.  So I would be prepping my classroom, meeting kids and doing the work thing after my summer break all while trying to keep up with my workouts to prepare for the triathlon.  During the summer I could workout and then take a nap.  During work I do a workout before work and then one after.  Then I crash! lol  Second issue, (in my mind anyway) was that the course would be tougher than the one in July.  More hills on both the bike and the run.  That was a little daunting.  But I decided that I would go for it.  It would be fun and if I went into it with no expectations and just to have fun then it wouldn't matter if it was slower than the triathlon in July.  In my mind it would be much slower than the first Olympic tri because of all the hills.
My traditional pre-race picture.  :-)
One of the fun parts of working with my coach has been the other athletes I have gotten to meet that also work with Jon.  At this particular event there were four of us competing in different races AND Jon's son was doing the Try a Tri.  So much fun!

On Saturday Joe did the Sprint Triathlon and Mike and Ron did the Half Ironman distance Triathlon.  Joe and I took off early in the morning and headed to Foster Lake.  It was clear and cold!  Joe was planning on pushing it a bit on the Sprint just to see how he could do.  Mike was aiming for a successful half Ironman distance without injury and without mechanical issues (he had a flat tire on a race in June) and Ron was doing his first half Ironman distance.
Beautiful Foster Lake the evening before the race weekend.
I watched Joe do the Sprint and then once he was done we hung out and watched Mike and Ron finish their half Ironman.  We had a lot of fun hanging out with Jon and his son.  We cheered people on and helped out at the bike dismount area.  It is so much fun watching people do hard, awesome things.
My Ironman getting ready to have some fun doing a Sprint tri.  :-)
Joe, Mike, Ron and Jon.  Successful day for the guys!
Up until Saturday I hadn't really been nervous about my own race.  But as Saturday wore on I started getting nervous about my race on Sunday.  I don't know why.  Maybe it was seeing all the people doing their race and just wanting to get started on my own.  As the day progressed I got more and more antsy about my own race.

We got to see both Mike and Ron finish and it was fun to congratulate them.  We have put in a lot of miles together this year on the track and the trail.  I know how hard they have worked so it was awesome to see them both have a most excellent day.

Joe and I headed home.  It was nice to get out of the sun, get a nap and then have some dinner.  We headed to bed early since we had to be on the road early again the next morning for my race.

Sunday morning was not as cold as Saturday morning.  Some clouds had rolled in over night and had kept it from getting too cold.

We got to the park at Foster Lake and when we were starting to get my bike off the rack an old friend of ours came over.  His son was doing the Olympic and he was there to watch.  It was fun to see him and his son and then later the rest of the family.  Also, visiting with them was a nice distraction so I didn't have time to get more nervous.

Soon enough Joe and I headed to the transition area so I could get my body markings and set up my things at the bike rack.  Once I had things set up Joe and I went back to the truck and just hung out for a bit.  It wasn't long before I needed to head back to the transition area to get my wetsuit on.  I was really excited to be wearing the new wetsuit I had gotten in Couer d'Alene.  I had only used it once for a short swim while we were still in Idaho.  This would be my first long swim in it and my first race in it.

I got the wetsuit on without too much trouble and then headed down to the lake to warm up.  I made sure my goggles were all good and the suit felt alright.  It wasn't long before it was time to line up for my start.  They had the college teams go first.  Then the young men, then the older men, followed by the young women and last was the older women (35 and up) and the relay swimmers.  By this time I was more than ready to get going.  I was pretty anxious about the swim just because the last time I had done an open water swim it was at Foster Lake and it was awful.  The water was rough that day and I had a lot on my mind with some worries for a friend so it wasn't a good swim.  I was worried I would have a repeat of that day.

The gun went off and we started.  I tried to start the same way I have learned to do on run races.  Let everyone take off and just kind of find my rythym and get going.  I got boxed in at one point with a woman on either side of me and one directly in front but all of them were going slower than me.  So I put my head up and took a look around, saw a gap and made a break for it.  I managed to get around the woman in front of me and find an area that was open so I could get into a comfortable pace and do my thing.

I felt really great.  I felt like I was swimming smoothly and sighting well.  I was keeping a pretty straight line of sight on the buoys.  It felt really good.  It didn't seem to take long before I was making the first turn.

I had decided before the race that I was going to try and not look at my Garmin very much.  If I was going to be slower on this race than the one in July then I didn't want to stress myself out by getting worked up about the time.

As I was making my way back towards where we got out of the water I realized I had someone pacing me.  They were using me as their sighting.  I could see her checking to make sure I was to her left once in a while.  That was kind of cool.  She was a little bit faster than me but we stayed together for the whole return trip until we got to the yellow buoys to make the turn to come back to shore, then she took off.

When I came out of the water Joe, Jon, Janelle and the kids, and our friend Kim and Troy with their daughter and granddaughter were all cheering me out of the water.  I looked at my watch and I had done the swim in 38 minutes!!  About three minutes faster than July!  That was awesome!  :-)
Finishing  my swim. 
I headed up the grass towards the transition area.  It was quite a ways from the shore but I managed a good trot and got my wetsuit unzipped and peeled off to my waist as I was heading to the bike.  I did my fastest transition yet from swim to bike which I was excited about.  The only thing I forgot was my sunglasses.  They were in the side of my backpack.  Usually I put them in my helmet.  When I had taken my stuff to transition in the morning I had tucked the sunglasses in a side pocket because it was dark and then forgot to get them out when I set up my stuff.  I didn't think about it until I was already to the mounting area.  Oh well.  Not the end of the world but I bet I don't forget again.

I headed out on the bike.  Mike was volunteering at the start of the bike route so I got some cheering from my teammate as I headed out.  The bike route at this race is beautiful.  I live in a beautiful part of the world and this race was practically in my backyard.  Since I was sure I would be slower on this ride because of all the hills I just was putting my best effort into the ride and enjoying it all.  I got to see all the collegiate competitors as they were heading to the finish of their bike ride.  Dang they were fast!  Got to see Kyle and get some cheers from him as he went by.  (Pretty fun to be cheered on a kiddo that I have know since he was born...and we are both doing the same race! lol)
About five miles in on the bike ride.  
It wasn't long before I got to the big scary hill.  But no excuses!  I had done this hill before so I put my head down and grinded up the steep part.  The hill was long overall but once I got up the short super steep section I was fine for the rest of it.  I think I might have even picked up a little speed.  As I got back down into the valley the winds picked up so even though I was going at more downhill elevation I wasn't going as fast as I probably would have without the wind in my face.  When I got to the turn around I took a minute to switch my water bottles and get set for the next 12 miles heading back up to the lake.  Most of the way back was up hill but not terribly steep.  I just tried to keep a steady pace and enjoy the ride.  A couple of times I could tell my hamstrings were feeling tight.  It was a little weird because I've never had that before but I would just stand on my pedals for a little bit to stretch out and that made it feel much better.

When I got up to the damn there was a bunch of volunteers, playing music and cheering me on.  I loved the volunteers on the bike ride.  They were so awesome and fun.  They made me smile.

Suddenly I realized that I had less than four miles to go.  The ride had seemed to go pretty fast so I looked at my watch and realized that I might finish in under two hours!  What!!??!  It took me two hours and one minute to finish the bike ride at Cottage Grove.  How could I possible do this bike ride faster with way more elevation?  Not gonna lie, I was pretty stoked.  :-)
Can you tell I'm having fun?  This picture says it all.  :-)
I came into the bike dismount area and Joe, Jon, Janelle and Lauren were there cheering me on.  It was so much fun.  It's another long stretch to get from the dismount area to the transition area.  I should have been trying to trot but my legs just didn't want to cooperate.  I walked my bike and Jon walked next to me giving me last minute coaching for the run.  My bike to run transition was my fastest yet as well and I took off for my 10k.  And I remembered my sunglasses!

The 10k was hilly which added to the difficulty for me but the nice part was it was very shady.  The cloud cover that we had in the morning had burned off during the bike ride so the sun was out.  I was happy to not be running in the direct sunlight the whole time.

I hadn't been running long when I spotted Jon's son who was finishing up the run portion of his Try a Tri.  I was able to cheer for him and get a high five!  That was the one bummer of the day for me was not being able to watch Logan do his race.  I loved being able to see him on the run!

I tried to keep to the 10 minute run, 1 minute walk ratio that Jon had me doing during training.  If I came across a water station during one the of the run intervals I got a bonus walk. lol  But I also didn't give myself permission to walk up the hills.  If I was in a 10 minute run section then I tried to run it as best I could, even if it was uphill.  None of the hills were ridiculously steep but they still felt like a lot after a swim and a bike ride.

When I got out to the last turnaround after mile 4 I was walking and drinking water since there was an aide station.  One of the radio operators shouted to me because he wanted to confirm that I was a walker and would be walking the last two miles.  I was a little offended.  Didn't he realize I was having a kick ass day?  I may have been at the back of the pack but I was rocking my race!! lol  I told him that I was just taking a water break and would be running again soon.  :-)  The volunteers at all the aid stations were awesome, so cheerful and supportive.  Definitely give me a boost to have all that positive energy along the way.

I was feeling pretty solid all things considered.  I only had two miles left and I was getting a kick out of the fast that I was using the word "only" in front of two miles.  Six years ago I remember when I ran two miles without stopping for the first time when I was at my sister's house.  It was awesome!!  Now I was doing two miles after a .90 swim, a 24 mile bike ride and already running four miles. I've come a long way!!

The last hill was tough.  I made it up about 2/3's and had to walk the last little bit.   But then I tried to turn up the speed on the way down the hill because I knew I was getting close to the entrance to the park where the finish line was.  As I got closer I saw my teammate Marcus standing on the side of the road keeping an eye out for me.  Then I got to the park entrance and there was Jon, Mike, Janelle, Logan, Lauren and Melissa clapping and cheering for me!  Joe was waiting up ahead at the finish line.
Almost done!
Lauren is a little one, just in pre-school, and she was running along side me with her mom and I could hear her shouting, "Go Lisa! Go!" So stinking cute! :-)  I loved it!  :-)

Jon is running on the outside of the chute telling me to dig deep and sprint to the end.  In my head I'm thinking there is no way I can go any faster than I already was but I dug deep and tried to pick up the pace a little more.

I crossed the finish line with a time of 4 hours, 7 minutes, 33 seconds.

I finished FASTER than I had at Cottage Grove!


I went into this race thinking I would be around 30 minutes slower because of the hills.

I finished 8 minutes and 34 seconds faster!!
I did it!!!
Jon told me later that the bike had 200 feet more of elevation than July's race and the run had 300 feet more elevation than the race in July.

So I finished faster with more hills!

I was a VERY happy camper!!

Not the fastest person out there, definitely at the back of the pack.

But I rocked MY race.

I felt awesome about MY race.

I beat my own expectations and preconceived notions about what I thought I could do.

That feels pretty awesome!!

The very best part of all was that it was just FUN!

It was awesome to share my first ever Olympic Triathlon with my amazing, supportive husband in July.

It was awesome to share my next, kick ass Olympic Triathlon with my amazing, supportive coach (with the bonus of his awesome family being there and cheering me on as well!)

When I got done I walked over to Jon and gave him a big sweaty hug and cried all over him.  lol
Telling my coach about how it went for me.  ;)
Then later Joe and I walked a bit and he also got an even bigger sweaty hug and I cried all over him too.

At least I'm predictable.   It wasn't a big surprise to anyone that I was weepy.  Happy, proud of myself, grateful for the support tears.

One year ago I thought maybe I would like to try and finish an Olympic triathlon.

Now I've done three sprints and two olympics.

I'm totally hooked.

It's been challenging, downright frustrating at times, to work towards this goal.  But like most things that are difficult, it makes it mean more when I reach the goal.

While I'm enjoying the break and having a little time to just do whatever, whenever, just because I feel like it, I am really excited to get back at it and see what I can accomplish next year.

One more story:

All the athletes got a BBQ lunch included with the race and Joe had volunteered during the Olympic event so he got a free lunch too.  We got in line and loaded up our plates.  It smelled so good.  Then we made our way over to get our free drinks.  2 Towns Ciderhouse was there which is our favorite cider.  Unfortunately for us, they were a lot of other people's favorite too and they had run out before we got there.  lol  Good thing I planned ahead and brought some in a small cooler from home.

Joe set me up in a chair in the shade outside of the beer garden and awards area.  Our friend Kyle had gotten an award but had already left so Joe had gone to get his stuff because we figured we could get it to him pretty easily.

I wasn't paying attention to the awards at all but I could hear Stacie, on of the race directors, talking and calling out names over the speakers.

Suddenly I hear "in 3rd place, Lisa Van V!!"  I look up and say out loud, "No Fucking Way!!"

All the people who were sitting in the grass around me started laughing.  lol

I put down my plate and made my way up to the awards area to see if they really meant me.  Turns out they did.  I got 3rd in my age group, 45-49, out of three.  I love it.  I have never been an age group winner in any race of any kind.  So I really don't care that there were only three of us.  I got a big kick out of it and it was the icing on the cake of a really fun day.  I only would have had to be 30 minutes faster to beat the second place lady.  :-)  Hmmmm.  Maybe next year.  :-)
Check it out!  Age group podium!  :-)  
It was a very fun day!
Photo credit to my husband, my coach and Best in the West.  Best in the West takes a ton of pictures and posts them on Facebook so we can have them for free!  Pretty awesome!

Out of the five triathlons I did this year, Best in the West organized four of them.  Beaver Freezer, Oregon Dunes Triathlon, Rolf Prima Tri at the Grove and the Best in the West.  So they have been a huge part of my journey this year.  They put on great events, well organized and fun!  Everyone is positive and encouraging and they cheer the people finishing at the end of the race just as hard (maybe even harder) as they do the people who finish in the front.  If you are thinking about doing a triathlon or want a good race to add to your list next year check out their website!  They also organize several runs that are a lot of fun too.  They are awesome!  Thank you Blair and Stacie for helping me with all my fun this year.  You don't know me but I really appreciate all you do!!  :-)

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Fabulous and Frustrated....At the Same Time

I've been back to work for almost three weeks.  One week of training and getting my room ready and then the first two full weeks of school with students.  

I'm also getting ready for the last triathlon of the year in one more week.  So I'm back to working out before and after work and no naps!  Sadness!  lol  

The first week back to work it was very hot which means my classroom is extremely hot.  This made me really tired when I got home.  I had two bike rides that week.  The thought of getting on my bike and riding in the heat and concentrating on traffic and such was a little more than I was ready to deal with.  I went to the YMCA and rode the stationary bike instead.  Not ideal for my training I'm sure but it was better than skipping it completely.  I didn't have to think hard, just had to keep my feet moving and I had a fan blowing on me.  Both times I also got the stationary bike that gets a nice breeze from the ceiling fan.  Winner!  

I also had an interesting thing happen when we were doing a track workout with my coach.  We decided to move it from our regular Wednesday after work time to early Thursday morning because it was just so stinking hot.  Thursday was a prep day so I could be a little more flexible with when I got to work.  It was so nice to be running in the cool morning air!!  

I had looked at my workout and what my intervals were supposed to be before we got to the track.  I should have double checked what I had in my head one more time before I started.  I also should have done the math and realized that I must have read it wrong.  I'm going to chalk this up to how tired I have been.  :-)  I was supposed to do 4x800 with a four minute walk/jog in between and then 2x400 with a two minute walk in between.  I thought I was supposed to do the 800's in five minutes.  Eight hundred yards is half a mile so that would mean I was running a 10 minute mile pace.  I didn't realize that.

The first 800 I ran in 5:24.  I was not happy about that because it was way longer than I thought I was supposed to do.  I did my rest interval and then started my second 800.  I was almost done when my coach, Jon, caught up with me.  He said he thought I was moving pretty fast and asked what he had me down for.  I told him five minute 800's.  He checked his phone and laughed because I was supposed to do the 800's in 5:30 (an 11 minute mile pace).  Oops!  He told me to keep trying for the five minutes and see where we ended up.  I finished up the second lap and my time was 5:10.  Oh my!  I had two more 800's to complete so Jon said to keep trying for the five minute mark.  My third 800 was 5:03 and my last one was 5:02.  I couldn't believe I ran that fast for two laps!!

Then Jon said to do my 200's at the faster pace as well.  New goal for the 200's was to get them done in two minutes, thirty seconds.  I got 2:32 and then 2:28!  I could not believe that I ran one lap at a pace faster than a 10 minute mile!

After our workout Jon and I were talking and he smiled and said to me, "You know what this means?"  Since I'm a teacher and I know how this works I had to laugh.  Yep!  Now that I have shown I can do it faster the expectation is that I keep doing it faster.  

I had another run the next week that had intervals in it where I was supposed to go that fast and then not walk but just slow down my run in between. It was really hard by I somehow managed to make it happen.  That was pretty cool.

Last Saturday I had to get a 24 mile bike ride in.  I rode from my house out to the end of Scravel Hill Rd. (where I get hills) and back.  I had done this exact route a couple of months ago and new it worked out perfectly.  It was a little on the cooler side when I got going but my hubby let me borrow his warming sleeves.  They were perfect!  If I wear a shirt and then a long sleeved shirt I get too hot.  If I wear just a shirt, my arms get cold.  I was completely comfortable the entire ride.  Now I have something else to put on my list of things I want for triathlons.

I really worked hard on this ride.  I wanted to try and finish with a 13 miles an hour average.  Don't know why that was the number I had in my head.  But with the hills it would be a bit of a challenge.  I thought I had gotten stronger enough that between going faster on the hills and then being able to go faster on the flats I might be able to make it happen.  The ride felt really good and I knew that I had done it better than I had earlier in the summer.  On that ride I averaged 11.5 mph.  This time I averaged 12.8 mph.  So close to the 13 number I was trying for!

The next day I had my last long swim.  I was supposed to do 1900 yards with intervals.  This is what was in my TrainingPeaks:

w/u 200
5X100 (descending 100's @ , 2:34, 2:32, 2:30, 2:28, all out! (30"RI)
2 X 250 @ 2:30/100 (RI 45-60")
8 X 50 "fast" RI 20 seconds

c/d 300 easy swim (focus on head and eyes straight down, hips and legs up, glide)

It was a lot and I wasn't sure how it would go.  There were several times during the workout where I wanted to cut things short.  I would think that it was just hard today and it wouldn't be a big deal if I didn't do quite as many sets as was planned.  Except that it would be, at least for me.  So I plugged away at it.  Garmin figures your average pace for a swim with intervals based on the time you are swimming, it doesn't count the rest intervals.  So my total swim time was 47 minutes and my average pace was 2:28 per 100 yards. Which is pretty darn good for me.

A picture popped up on my Facebook "On this day" feature.  It was from the summer I started running.  It was a bit startling to see because sometimes I don't realize how big I was and how far I have come.  (I still myself as the way I look in the picture in my head).
Me & Miss Kendall at a friend's wedding. 2010
The weird thing was that I was frustrated.  I was frustrated with the bike ride, the swim and how I looked.  

It was like I was split in two.

One part of me knew that I had a really fabulous track workout, a solid bike ride and a good swim.  I should be super proud of myself.  Especially since I was back at work and managing my training before and after work while super tired.  I looked at the picture from 2010 and can see how far I have come on being a healthier me.

But the other part was frustrated and discouraged.  Not going to lie, there was some comparison going on.  Sometimes it gets old being the slowest at everything.  (Yes, I know, I'm probably not really but it feels like it most of the time.)  Some of the issue was just the desire to be faster by now than I am. I had a picture taken of me on Monday and even though I'm significantly healthier then I was in 2010, all I see when I look at the picture is the overweight girl.  Ugh.   A lot of it was just being overtired.
Dwayne & Faylene got everyone who has ever run CLR for our team this awesome shirt.  We got ours first!!  
As much as I don't like how I look, this picture made me smile.  
I really had to talk myself into even getting out the door for the bike ride and then the swim.

The half of me that was proud of myself knew that I was being silly.

The half of me that was frustrated didn't want to listen.

But one of the things I have learned the last few years is to honor my process while not allowing myself to wallow in the negativity.

I let myself have a couple of days to just be discouraged and work through all that in my own head.

Then it was time to suck it up and get over it.
I'm getting better at that part.  ;-)

By the time Wednesday rolled around the proud part of me was squashing down the negative side and I started getting excited about my triathlon.

Found this meme the other day and it made me laugh.  So me at times.
Pretty much!
We had another track interval workout at the high school.  Jon's family came along.  His son, who is nine, is doing the Try a Tri this weekend (super short version of a triathlon to see how it feels).  I started doing my workout and I hear someone just behind me.  After a lap I looked to see who it was and it was Jon's son.  So fun!  He stayed with me for my entire workout.  I was supposed to do three 400's at a 10 min/mile pace and then do a slower run for three minutes in between.  My new running buddy kept pace with me the whole time.  I loved it.  He's going to do great on Sunday.  I'm just bummed that his event will be going on at the same time I'm doing mine so I won't be able to watch him.

I have learned A LOT since January and come a long way in a lot of areas.

While it is never fun to get frustrated and discouraged, I know that I'm stronger mentally than I used to be as well as physically.  Getting frustrated and discouraged would have been a place I camped out in for a few weeks in the past.  Being able to work through it in a few days is progress.

There are ups and downs in any journey.  My journey to becoming a healthier me is no exception.

I share both the ups and downs because I hope that people reading this can relate.  Maybe you are experiencing a down time and are ready to give up.  I hope that reading my blog shows that it pays off to keep moving forward.  I have said often that my weight has not come off and my pace has not sped up like I wanted or expected.  Hard to keep focused on the good sometimes.  But looking back I know that I have come a long way on this journey.

I tell my students all the time that history is important.  It's all about the story.  I also tell them that they need to be proud of their own history, their own story.  It's what makes them who they are.

I have been learning to be a lot more proud of my own story.  It may not be the story I planned on or the one I expected the first time I tried to run a lap on the track.  But all of the races, all the adventures, all of the amazing people I have gotten to meet along the way have made my story exceptional.

I wouldn't change a thing.

It has been worth every step.

It has been worth every spin of the pedals.

It has been worth every lap in the pool.

It has been worth every friend I have gained (and even a few that I have lost).

My next race is tomorrow.  I am really excited for it.  I have no idea how I will do.  The course has lots of hills.  I will just do my best and have a great time along the way.   However I do it will be another addition to my story.

One last pre-race shirt photo for the year.