Sunday, March 27, 2016


I am just under a week away from the Beaver Freezer Sprint Triathlon.  I'm nervous and a bit excited.  I know it's not the big one that I'm working towards but it is part of the process.

We spent some time this past week in a cabin near Mt. Rainier, Washington.  It was beautiful. My coach accommodated the fact that we would be out of town so most of my workouts were walking, running and strength training.

On Tuesday I was supposed to do a 4 mile walk/run.  No pace set, no time to get done, just do 4 miles.  I walked the first mile with Joe since he was supposed to do a 30 minute walk and then did the rest running, mostly.

I didn't try and go fast.  I stopped a bunch of times to take pictures.  I enjoyed being out and moving.  It was nice to not have any pressure (self-inflicted usually) to do anything specific.

I was trotting along and began thinking about how I was on vacation and running.  Not too many years ago those two things together would not have sounded like a fun thing at all.  After all, vacations are about relaxing, taking naps and not exerting oneself too hard.

But I found my run to be awesome.  I got to be outside, no music, just listening to the creek I was running near and looking at the clouds move through the hills that were in view.  I looked down at my watch at one point and realized that I was running at a 12:30 pace and wasn't really trying to go fast.  A couple of years ago I would have had to work really hard to get that pace.

So that got me thinking about perspective.  I often get frustrated because I am working really, really hard and I don't feel that I am getting anywhere.  I'm running in place and getting nowhere fast. But the reality is I have made a lot of progress.  Some physically, a lot mentally but all of it progress.

Sunday morning at the start of Spring Break Joe and I headed out early for our weekly hike.  We would be taking off for a wedding in Washington later so we wanted to be sure to get our hike in.  Joe suggested we hike at the Peavy Arboretum and I thought that sounded great.  We haven't done that hike in a couple of years and there are lots of little side trails to take and explore.

The start of the hike is going up a steep hill and then there is another spot during the hike where we have to go up another big hill.  As we were going up the second hill I was thinking about the first time that I had done that hike.  I distinctly remember a very slow trudge.  One slow, legs aching, out of breath step at a time.  I also remember Joe walking backwards and holding my hand and pulling me along.  I was so frustrated.  I was never going to get faster, be able to breath better, do more than trudge up a hill like that.  That's how I felt at the time.

To be honest, that's how I still feel a lot of the time.  Slow, breathing is hard, I'm never going to be better or faster.  Why does it always have to be so hard?

But as we were hiking I realized that my legs weren't aching.  While I was working hard my breathing wasn't terrible.  Not great but not terrible.  My heart rate was staying below 150, which is really good for me going up a hill.  I wasn't running but I wasn't trudging either.  I was working hard but at a whole different level that working hard had been so long ago.  I suddenly thought of a quote that I see often online when I'm looking for motivation:

I often forget that while I still struggle, and things are still really hard it isn't because I haven't made progress.  It's actually that I HAVE made progress but I'm still working really hard.  I'm not settling for just getting better at the old level.  I'm always pushing to do better than I am today. This is a good thing unless you don't keep things in perspective.

Ran this single track for about 1/4 of a mile before turning around.  
The snow level had dropped overnight.  I loved the way the clouds moved around the hills.
We got to see a herd of elk when we were making a trip into the small town near our cabin.  They were grazing in a field by the road and then jumped the fence and crossed the highway.  It was awesome!
The elk were so cool to see.
I am not where I want to be yet.  I'm probably not ever going to be where I want to be.  That happens when you keep setting new goals and trying new things.  A few years ago the thought of doing one triathlon sent me spinning.  Here I am almost three years later and I'm signed up for FOUR triathlons and one of them is an Olympic. What the heck? And after I get through all of those I will have new goals and new challenges that will probably scare the crap out of me all over again.  lol  Keeps life interesting!

The new thing to work on for myself is to keep my perspective.  I may be traveling down this road slowly but looking back I realize that I have come a long, long way.  Glad I was willing to keep working at it.  Time to keep things in perspective and be proud of what I have done and what I am currently doing.  And be excited (terrified?!) about the challenges to come.

Look for a race report for the Beaver Freezer next weekend.  I start in the 4th wave on Saturday, 9:00 a.m.  The plan is to swim hard, not fall down on the bike and have a big smile on my face when I finish the run.  :-)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

All Kinds of Courage

**Pictures of the results of a bike crash.  If you get squeamish, you might want to skip this post. :-)

I have always believed the saying that courage isn't not being afraid, courage is being afraid and doing it anyway.

However I always thought of that courage being people who have jobs that involve choosing to go into danger to help others.  Or in an emergency situation they put aside their own safety to help another.  Face known danger of some kind to do what is right.

I'm now understanding that it also applies to becoming a healthier me.  I haven't thought of it so much as courage.  I think of it more as confidence.  I struggle with believing in myself. There are days where I am absolutely certain that I will fail.   I have cried many a tear because of the anxiety I give myself thinking this way.

The courage comes because I go out and do it anyway.

In spite of the tears.

In spite of the butterflies in my stomach.

I go.

That's the win!

I am beginning to think that I value my growth and experiences more than people that are naturally athletic because I have to battle so much just to get out there and try sometimes.

Not every day is that much of a battle. But it happens often enough that I am aware of it all the time.

A couple of weeks ago I was invited on a group social bike ride.  The moment I got the text my first thought was, "Oh crap!" Here's why something like this gets me all twisted up:

  • I'm worried I won't be able to keep up (I am literally ALWAYS the slow one in a group of athletes doing anything.)
  • I worry that I will do something stupid and embarrass myself.
  • I worry that in my effort to keep up with everyone I will do something dumb and crash.  
None of those worries are necessarily unreasonable but I gnaw on them until I am a little bit of a basket case.  (Sorry Joe!)

So I pulled up my big girl panties and headed to Corvallis for a very wet and rainy bike ride. I figured it might be raining on race day so I might as well suck it up. 
This is the sky at home.
This is the sky where I'm heading to do my bike ride.  Yikes!!
We headed out and it was pouring down rain but after about 15 minutes it stopped.  We were doing an out and back ride and riding right into the wind on the way out.  Everyone was on road bikes and I have a specialized bike (which is a in-between road bike and race bike) so that made me a little slower in general.  I also think that because I was nervous my breathing wasn't as relaxed as it should have been so I was really struggling to breath.  

All this put me firmly in last usual.

So the first worry had come true but I survived so no big deal.  

But for some reason I was all wobbly whenever I had to start up my bike again. I looked so dumb like I had never been on a bike before. Worry number two taken care of.  

We were getting back to Corvallis and it started to rain again.  I was coming down the bridge into town and was slowing down for the light and my brake caught.  

My bike stopped but I did not. 

Over sideways I went, to my left...right into traffic.  

Here I sit in the road, in the pouring down rain. I landed on my knee and am not sure I can stand right away.  This truck is stopped, thankfully, but no one is getting out to help me or make sure I'm okay.  

Oh. My. God!  I am so embarrassed and my knee hurts and it's raining and I'm in the middle of the road.  

Welcome to feeling beyond dumb and really mad at myself.  Worry number three!

I shove my bike up onto the sidewalk and literally scoot on my butt over to the side of the road. At this point the traffic starts up again.  One of the riders in the group had been down at the corner and saw me fall so she quick walked up to help me.  I was very grateful that she was there and was so kind. I was also equally embarrassed that she saw me crash.  

Since we were literally less than two blocks from my car I decided to just walk the bike to the car.  I got it loaded up and then walked over to Peak to inventory the damage.  I knew my knee was bleeding and we wanted to check it out.  

I headed for home and cried pretty much the whole way home.  Mostly because it hurt really bad but also because I was so mad about falling.  

My hubby was great about getting my bike unloaded and helping me out when I got home.  I got in the shower to clean up and warm up and then we were going to bandage my knee up.  This was the first chance I had to look at my elbow and it had a huge bruise on it but no cuts.  
Makes doing planks a little uncomfortable!
After my shower my knee started to bleed a little bit again so I grabbed some toilet paper and headed to my bedroom in my towel.  I put my leg up on the bed and it really started bleeding.  My towel had fallen to the floor and I am trying to keep my knee from bleeding on everything in my room with a tiny piece of T.P.   Oh ya, and I'm naked.  Seriously!  I yelled for Joe and he came and gave me some gauze to hold on the wound while he went and got stuff to fix me up.  I do believe stitches were mentioned at one point but since he didn't mention it again, I didn't say anything either. I really didn't want stitches!  He layered up the gauze and then wrapped my knee to hold it down. Everything was propped up under a pillow.  I took some Advil and then fell asleep.  
All bandaged up.
I told my students all about my adventure.  I'm pretty honest with them about some of the things I worry about with my exercising and goals.  Mostly because I want them to see that you can be worried and have anxiety, you can even have failure but you have to push through that to get to where you want to go. They knew I was anxious about the group ride but was going anyway.  When I told them about the fall they laughed and felt bad all at the same time.  I was also informed that I didn't fall down....I crashed.  I was reminded that word choice is important in a good story and that crashed sounded better then just saying I fell.  lol  These kids crack me up!

I've been able to still get all my workouts done.  Some have been more painful than others.  I do appreciate that my job keeps me moving. I think that if I had been sitting all day, every day the knee would have been a lot more stiff and sore.
Day after the crash.  Bruising is quite lovely.
Four days after the crash.  Pretty colors!
I have spent several workouts on my bike in the trainer since the crash.  But due to lots and lots of rain I hadn't been on a ride outside since the crash. I was okay with that.  Truth be told I was scared again.  I really really really really don't like falling down, crashing, coming to a forceful stop by using the pavement, whatever you want to call it.  

My coach had decided that our Wednesday group activity this week would be to ride the Beaver Freezer route and then do some of the run as well. The time change last weekend made it light longer and the weather was supposed to clear up so it would be a great chance to get a look at the route.  This all is very reasonable.  I was a basket case!  I was really getting myself worked up about it, which I knew was stupid but I couldn't seem to stop myself.  I also knew I would do it, and most likely it would be just fine.  So really, I wasted a lot of energy getting bent about something that I was going to do one way or the other.  

I got to campus and got all my stuff together and headed out to the meeting place.  Everyone was there so we got organized and headed out.  Jon was going to ride with the guys and his wife Janelle was going to ride with me.  She was great and just let me do my thing at my pace.  I wasn't really looking to do the ride fast, I just wanted to do what I needed to do and feel good about it.  I got lots of practise right off the bat with stopping and starting because I swear we hit every red light heading out of town! lol  Evidently that curse I have when driving stays with me for riding bike as well.  

One of the things I had built up in my head was the first hill I would have to tackle.  Right after you get on the bike at the Beaver Freezer you have to go up this hill.  Its not very long and it really isn't all that steep but in my head I was worried about it. I wouldn't have any momentum to help carry me up the hill so it would all be me and pedal power.  I really was worried that I would not be able to do it and it would really suck to have to walk my bike up that hill in front of all the people spectating.  

That worry is now dust!  Janelle and I were chatting and started up the hill.  I switched my gears and just zipped up it, no problem.  Then I was thinking, "huh, that wasn't so bad."  Of course, if that wasn't so bad maybe the rest won't be either.  

The hills on this route aren't huge but for someone who hasn't really done a lot of riding on hills they were a workout and I was slow.  But I did way better than I thought I could.  Jon has had me doing heart rate intervals on my trainer for months now.  So in my head as I was grinding up one slow, gradual hill, I was able to remind myself that I had worked that hard for 5 or more minutes on my trainer so I could do it on this hill too!  When I told Jon that later he just grinned.  He has a plan with a purpose.  (This is why it's good to trust your coach!!)  :-)  

I finished the bike ride in 1 hour 3 minutes.  Not awful.  I wasn't trying to go fast.  I was trying to make sure I could get it done AND that I could get it done without crashing. :-)  Mission accomplished.

Then we did a couple loops of the run portion of the Beaver Freezer, just a little over two miles.  My knee was pretty stiff at first but it was bearable.  I was able to maintain a decent speed. To be honest it was just fast as many of my "good" runs last fall.  Which is pretty cool when you consider that I have a sore knee and I had just done a 12 mile bike ride.  :-)  

All in all the evening was a very good for my confidence which is a good thing since the Beaver Freezer is only two and a half weeks away!

We watch CNN Student News in my Social Studies classes a fee times a week. Yesterday there was a story about a young college student who is a pole vaulter, and she is legally blind.  It was an awesome story! Here's a link to the full story on CNN: The Sky's the Limit for Blind Pole Vaulter

One of the best things she said, and I wrote it down on my whiteboard in my classroom was this:
"I'm scared of a lot of things, I just chose to do it anyway. You just have to stare fear in the face and you just have to smile even if you can't see it." Charlotte Brown

This is so me.  There are so many things that get me twisted up and make me nervous or just flat scared.  But I chose to do them anyway.   In spite of the fear, in spite of the tears and in spite of the worry I will look stupid or embarrass myself.

There's all kind of courage and I guess I have some too.

Random Funny:

Last week we did our group run around the Bald Hill area.  There is a port-a-potty on the main path and I decided to make use of it.  However, there was no toilet paper.  I had to laugh though, there was a pile of leaves sitting on top of the toilet paper holder.  I wondered if someone was providing an alternative to toilet paper.  I did not use that option but I thought it was pretty funny at the time.  Someone was trying to be thoughtful.  Can you imagine if they accidentally put Poison Oak leaves there instead of oak leaves?  Yikes!  As for me, I did what most trail runners do, drip dry. ;-)