Try to look on the bright side–friends, pinterest, and being hurt

One of the things I love about fitness is that it brings us together with people we might not have otherwise met. Last year at CrossFit, I met my friend Katie, who has been through many miles and Clif bars with me since. Even though we met at the gym, we realized that we are both the kind of person who wants to run to and from the CrossFit workout and who thinks the seat of a bicycle is a fine spot to spend a Saturday. Katie is always giving me someone to chase and her first Ironman this year kept me believing in my first half Ironman–and her advice got me through a lot of the things I am not sure I would have thought of along the way!

Now, a little cranky with my slow comeback from my back injury last month (I dropped a barbell on my back–the side, down low–which has affected my leg if I try to run, then my back when I did a little too much yoga, maybe, and now is giving me pins and needles at school when I sit for long stretches, and is generally keeping me from being as active as I normally am), Katie has proven to have a little life coach in her too. I didn’t ask her if I could share the text she sent me last night to cheer me up, but she is generally one of the most encouraging folks I know, so the world needs this and I’m sure she’ll understand:

“I think your injury might be getting you down. So I decided to make you a list of benefits of being injured. I’m sure you’ll consider yourself lucky after reading it.:

1) A perfect manicure lasting two weeks!
2) Hair that looks great 2 and maybe even 3 days after a wash
3) Callus free hands (see above perfect manicure)
4) Less time spent doing laundry!!
5) A chance to wear your ‘real clothes’ not just your latest lulu’s.
6) Less time showering and training = more time to spend with people you love!

And the best part of all…building up the desire and drive to train your way through the winter into next season!”

It was too good not to share, and it definitely got me out of my little pity party. Of course I still want to be training, but I remember again that the reason I train is not because my worth depends on it–but because it makes me feel good! Right now, it doesn’t. So it’s time to rest. It’s simple, even if it’s not easy.

Beyond Katie’s sweet text message, I also have been turning to pinterest during my breaks that might otherwise have been filled with workouts. Here are some of the fruits of my labour, specific to injuries and staying positive. I’ll leave out the ones of chocolately peanut buttery goodies or outfits that also seem to lure me in!

gym cute injury

truth lion injury

bulldog adorable

setback

positive pants

I will never be happy for an injury, but at least I can take Katie’s advice and try to find my positive pants every day! Yay for the interwebs, but more importantly, yay for friends.

What helps you get through injuries?
How do you stay positive when you’re feeling down about something?

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Forced to pause: What I’ve been doing with myself–and my body

Since my race in July, I’ve been pretty quiet about what I’ve been up to. That’s largely because it hasn’t been much. Sad face.

About a month ago, I was going through a regular ol’ weightlifting workout at the gym. I was on my own and I’d just finished training some clients and having woken up early, I was feeling pretty tired but nothing too out of the ordinary for a morning training session. I did a couple of snatches after a normal warm up and I ended up dropping the bar behind me and not bailing quick enough. So, the bar landed on my lower back (off to the side) and since then, I’ve been dealing with it.

The first two weeks were tough and even though I tried, my body yelled at me to back off. Lifting weights was definitely out of the question, but I thought yoga might be alright. Turns out, nope. After a while, I started to go to yoga and take it at an easy pace. I tried some runs and realized they were out. I went to the pool and avoided looking at the clock in favour of appreciating that I could move.

Like I said, it’s been about a month. I went on my first bike ride last week, and it nearly killed me. I took a few more days off. I started to do some light weights, avoiding things that hurt me. I tried biking again—success. My runs have created some kind of hamstring, or maybe IT band pain that is all new for me. Ohhhhh, left side of my body, how you test me!

I’ve been impressed with my ability not to freak out over this. I had the week leading up to my thesis defence without the normal outlet/distraction of working out to keep me from freaking out, and I think I was more prepared for it. And as I’ve come back to my activities, I’ve realized which ones make me feel good. I missed riding bikes with friends. I think I needed a break after my half ironman in July, and I didn’t take it – I went right back into it and raced (not so hotly) at Bluewater two weeks later. Maybe some higher power dropped this barbell on my back like he was trying to hit “pause” for me—the button just needed a pretty hefty push, apparently!

slow down

For now, I’m focusing on being grateful when I feel good and being patient when I don’t. I know in the past, I was compulsive about exercise and would have lost my marbles—for the first two weeks, I did less moving than I had in a normal week during training for my half, and I had to work as a personal trainer and watch my clients all killin’ it on a daily basis!

Now I’m feeling a little lost. I had plans to run a big trail run in mid-October, but running hurts the most right now. I thought about training for my Olympic Weightlifting debut, but I’m obviously a little discouraged there. I think for the first time, I’m going to give myself a break from trying to peak for anything in particular. Sure I have goals—10 chin-ups, anyone? (I’m at six)—and some events that I would like to do—bike rides in the fall are my favourite—but it might be nice to just “work out” for a little in the meantime instead of always feeling like I should be training my face off. I’ve written before about how exercise should improve the quality of our lives and how health ought to be a platform for us to live our best lives from, not the sole focus of our lives—and remembering that has gotten me through all of this! I am however glad to be able to bike myself to school, which started today (yahoo!).

biking to school

I write this because it’s part of a long journey from not being able to take a rest day on vacation without losing my mind or bingeing to realizing that I can rest—and should rest! I’ve seen that my appetite matches my activity level, that I don’t immediately get out of shape or look like a different person if I take some time off, and that I can release stress in other ways. I’ve had some time to think about what I want to do with myself and my body and to start considering what will make me feel like I’ve spent my time, energy, and money on the best options. I have realized how lucky I am to still be able to do things and that this too shall pass (as always). It could have been so much worse. I am not fragile, and I will come back stronger. I’m looking forward to my next comeback, whatever it’s back to…

setback

Have you had an injury that took you out of commission for a little?
Did you learn anything from being injured?
What are you focusing on this fall?
What do you like to do besides train?

Worth it: Musselman and my half ironman debut

I always seem to procrastinate on post-race write-ups, but I have decided that the longer I wait, the less likely I’ll do the event justice! If you’ve been around me in the last couple weeks, you’ll know I’ve been gearing up for my half ironman debut at Musselman.

usselman

I chose this race because:

  • It has a cute mascot – the zebra mussel!
  • In 2011, my first year in triathlon, a woman at the local pool was raving about her experience at Musselman. She said that if I was ever to do a half, I should do this as my first—it’s very friendly to first-timers.
  • My locker neighbor at the rec centre (who KILLED IT on the weekend!) signed up and peer-pressured me into it. …Just kidding, she asked me politely and encouraged me, though!
  • Instead of doing a 70.3 (aka Ironman-branded) race, I wanted to avoid the tri-hards (and pay a little less to enter as a bonus, though I got my registration gifted to me by the awesome owners of the spin studio I work at!).
  • I could drive there!

As the week went on, I got more and more nervous for the weekend. First there was rain in the forecast, and then I rolled my ankle out for a walk with Brent. I am a really clumsy person, but I had all of these scenarios (and contingency plans) in my head of things that could go wrong: rolling my ankle was not one of them. Luckily a little physio and a visit to the chiropractor (because better safe than sorry) helped me to rest assured that I would be okay to run, even if it hurt, just knowing that I was doing my recovery a disservice if I chose to! I had some encouragement from some of the women I look up to in the sport (like Angela, who I thought of lots during my race for inspiration!). I had some athletic tape packed and I put my mind to it and got myself all ready.

I felt a little frantic running around town buying gels and bars and water bottles I wouldn’t mind tossing, etc. My friend Katie was a life saver along with Angela and all the other people I asked for advice. My coaches (for swim, Balance Point Triathlon with Gabbi and of course my coach Chris Helwig) gave me a lot of encouragement and of course advice. I got a card from the people I swim with and it made me feel so much more excited—such a simple gesture but also greatly appreciated! I finally had my things together and hit the road! I was going to do a quick swim because with the ankle situation I was feeling a bit sluggish, but the pool was closed so I just went for it.

packed

Packing light is not something I know how to do!

Taped up and ready to leave!

Taped up and ready to leave!

I drove down to Geneva on Friday afternoon. It’s about a 4.5 hour drive, plus whatever the border adds, which in my case was just less than an hour! I got there in time to pick up my key to get into the “Athlete’s Village,” where I booked a room for less than 50$/night. It was in an old college there, which meant no air conditioning but my friend advised me to pack a fan and it really wasn’t so bad. I also made it to the grocery store to grab some things and ate my last vegetables before the race (tapers are hard, not eating like normal is hard) along with my first big ol’ dose of pasta! I got a pretty good night’s sleep on Friday and then on Saturday I was up early enough to drive to course and head down to the site of the event to watch the “Mini Mussel,” a sprint triathlon, finish.

athletes village

I got lost a lot on the drive, but the course was beautiful and looked like a pretty moderate ride – not many hills I’d be avoiding if I was at home, but water so I was anticipating some wind. I got more and more excited as the day went on, and my ankle was bugging me less and less. I met up with one of the women from London, Jennifer, and watched her husband cross the finish line of the sprint tri (he’s training for an ironman and is twice as crazy as I am). She did her first half not too long ago and was super encouraging, even though we were both pretty nervous! Her son did the kids’ race on Friday—talk about a family affair!

Here I am with Jennifer after her husband, Mike, crossed the finish line!

Here I am with Jennifer after her husband, Mike, crossed the finish line!

We had a pre-race meeting on Saturday afternoon, but in between I rode my bike a bit (felt slow but good) and jogged around the campus a bit to prove to myself that I would be fine with my ankle. I also made it to the outlet malls about 15 miles from Geneva, which was a welcome distraction and let me get a visor that I was grateful for on Sunday! The meeting gave me butterflies. As I sat with Jenn and Ileana, the friend who roped me into this in the first place (:)!), I could feel us all getting more excited and nervous. I did have lots of my questions answered, though!

A snap from my bike ride on Saturday.

A snap from my bike ride on Saturday.

Ileana and I went to the pre-race pasta dinner, which was small but nice. We made friends with some people from Connecticut and also met up with some more people from London, who we don’t train with but were sure we recognized! Both of these couples were encouraging the day before, at the race in the morning, and post-race, of course! Triathletes are so friendly. We racked our bikes the night before, which was new for me, but nice since it was less to carry on the long trek from parking to the transition area Sunday morning.

Besides a little freak out before bed, which Brent had to put up with but also helped me with, I had a good evening preparing myself mentally and trying to get to sleep early. I probably got about 6 hours of sleep before my 4:25am wake up call. I managed to get some coffee and oatmeal with peanut butter and banana in before heading to the park. I drank Gatorade and chatted as I got ready for the race. There were lots of first timers, which made me feel better.

I did basically 0 warm-up, though I did hop in the water and get myself ready. We went in waves, with the gals 25-39 going second (after the young bucks). My goal was not to get caught by the ladies I was with – Jenn and Ileana and Pam, who is in her 60s but KILLED it and got second in her age category! By the time the national anthem was sung and we were getting shuffled into the water for the start (waist-deep), I felt ready to go!

Looking a little nervous..and trying to find the buoys!

Looking a little nervous..and trying to find the buoys!

pre race

Swim – 1.2 miles – 41:31 (1:59/100m)

The swim course was good for me. The buoys (doritos and cheese balls, in my head) were large and I could see them with the light just fine! I didn’t get too off course, and the waves don’t bother me as much as they do other people. I swam most of the way with one other pink capped gal, who breast stroked a lot for someone keeping up with me while I was swimming along steadily, but whatever! Some of the next wave (or two) caught us, but I ended up with an average pace faster than a lot of my shorter races. I liked starting in the bigger lake and then heading into the canal, where it was harder to swim off course. The swim training must have paid off a little. I think my new wetsuit and going to open water practices with Gabbi made a big impact, too! I was 10/25 in my age category, which makes me feel pretty good too! I peed in my wetsuit, yes, and I hope I left the water smiling because the worst part was over in my head.

Bike – 56 miles, 3:05:30 (29.1km/h average)

I wanted to bike in 3 hours really badly, but I am more of a 29 averager I guess these days. I used to have in my head that anything below 30km/h was not very fast, but I’m happy with this time. I was 5th in my age category for this leg of the race and not that many women passed me. It was windier than I thought it was going to be and I pulled over once to check my tire because I thought it was rubbing. I am NOT good at grabbing water bottles, and I definitely underdrank and did not eat enough – one gel, one pack of shot blocks, and most of a clif bar with two bottles. I felt okay though. There was one gravelly stretch, but I really enjoyed this bike course, which went along two coastlines and was relatively flat. There was one hill, and I passed a lot of people on it! Go me.

Run – 13.1 miles 2:04:43 (5:56/km average)

The run was HAWT, but there were sponges, kids with hoses on their front yards, and aid stations at every mile to help my case. My ankle not hurting kept me happy enough to ignore all the other pain I was in from running up hills and from a blister I got on my other foot. It’s all minor. I walked through each aid station and drank a mix of water, hose water, Gatorade, etc. I ate a few shot blocks but probably could have had more as I was hungry by the end. I was conservative at first and ran just over 6 minute km, which I tried to make shorter as I got further along. I walked up 2 hills but otherwise chugged along just fine. I was so happy to be doing it and realizing that I was going to finish made me feel like I could go a little faster, so I did. I got passed by a few people at the beginning, mostly men, but I passed some myself. I was 11th in my age category on this part. With the walk breaks, I still managed to finish in a respectable time, in my opinion, and I knew a few miles before the finish that I could make it in less than 6 hours (my private goal, with my out-loud goal being to finish between 6 and 6 and a half hours), so I had plenty of reason to kick it up a notch. I almost teared up when I saw the finish line, but I managed to cross the line with what I hope was a smile (or at least a grimace). My only regret? Not putting my hands up for a finishing photo (which you can check out, with the others, here!).

My total time was 5:58:10. I did it! I don’t ever have to do another one, but I probably will. My interwebs history would show that I’ve already researched other races. I was 8th in my age category out of 25, and in the top 50 of over 200 women. That made my ego happy, but I was just feeling proud of myself for achieving my goal, regardless of what other people did! And as for a full Ironman, maybe before I’m 30 seems like a goal that’s far enough away to seem realistic but pressing enough to keep me planning on continuing to train, albeit a little less, for this sport! I’ve got a new gig working as a Personal Trainer / Coach at Hybrid, which I am the most excited about. I know that being in that environment keeps me excited about all the strength sports (weightlifting, powerlifting, CrossFit, even Strongman) that are out there, and keeps me training for health and well-being, which is so important! I have been putting the two together personally and I know lots of members with triathlon on their bucket list or who have asked me questions about endurance stuff so I’m really glad to be working there now! With teacher’s college in the fall, my schedule obviously has less time for mid-afternoon bike rides or for long workouts on Tuesday (love grad school for that), but I know I can find a balance that will of course look different from these past few years but that will hopefully leave me racing, healthy, and happy!

...happy about something!

…happy about something!

pam winner!

Pam placing second in her age group!

Ileana on the top of the podium for her age group! She won wine and intimidated the third place woman, it seems!

Ileana on the top of the podium for her age group! She won wine and intimidated the third place woman, it seems!

As for the rest of the summer, I don’t have a plan. I am registered for Vulture Bait (a 25km trail run in October) but have decided I’m on the fence about keeping up the long distances. I’m feeling run down, but I know I need to give my body a chance to recuperate before I make any decisions. I’ll be making an appearance at the triathlon in my hometown, Bluewater, in two weeks, and hope to do something else later in the summer! Some bike touring and workouts with friends for fun sound like a good way to use this fitness I’ve got.

Speaking of recuperating, since I did an admittedly bad job of eating and drinking on the bike, I felt like a whole lot of crap on Sunday afternoon. I finally stopped rolling around and feeling sorry for myself late afternoon and drank some water and some Nuun from Ileana. I was able to eat dinner / suffer through (ha!) some ice cream, but I did not eat as much as I would on a normal day, let alone one with 6 hours of exercising! Headaches, nausea, all kinds of GI things you don’t want to hear about…it all sort of has lasted longer than I wish it had. I’m not very sore, but the aftermath of the dehydration has demonstrated the importance I’ll place on figuring out how to drink more during my next go at this kind of race!

post race ice cream

I also called that I’d be having a migraine this week and sure enough, one hit this morning. It was nothing a 3 hour nap couldn’t help me get past. I often get the migraine attacks with weather, post-stressful periods, and with my hormones. All three are coinciding so I’m really not surprised, and I will take feeling a little crappy for having that check off my bucket list! I’m drinking extra water and taking it easy this week—light swim yesterday, mobility at the gym today, working on my bibliography (home stretch!)—and am going to get back to more “training” when I feel like I’m ready, not when my ego says “GO!”

All in all, I am so glad that I signed up for that race (thanks Ileana for encouraging me!). I had great coaching to get to it. I had support from my friends and family and people who listened to me talk about this thing for months. I had wonderful company there (the women I was with ALL ROCK and everyone was SO NICE who I met!). The weather worked out great. I would recommend this race to anyone who is going to do their first half, or someone who wants to travel somewhere and stay a few days. Geneva was beautiful and I would have loved to stick around. I have to go back, mostly because I missed out on the “Wine Slushie” advertised in the region. Darn it, dehydration!

Setting a goal that seemed like it might knock me down along the way—and it certainly tested my resolve—was as cheesy as it might sound, exactly what I needed right now. I know that there are people who would call me out on being a sports evangelist, but all those pinterest quotes about achieving goals/focusing on the journey/sport making you a better person are true to me right now! I sometimes think of myself as a quitter, or as fragile. I’ve seen that I’m pretty darn tough, and I’m also more badass than I let myself feel sometimes. I can run in the snow. I can suck it up on the trainer. I can wake up early when I’d rather sleep in. I can do things I don’t want to or don’t think that I can! Maybe I can resist chocolate after all…nah!

Last month, I did that CrossFit competition and felt so friggin’ strong picking up a heavy barbell and swinging around on the bars and climbing ropes and things. This month, I showed myself that strong doesn’t mean I can’t still have success in triathlon or in doing the other things that I love. This race coinciding with me submitting my thesis has made for a pretty big week, if I say so myself. I may be tired, but I am feeling more accomplished than I have in a heck of a long time! Right now I’m relishing my accomplishments, but soon I’ll be setting some more goals, and with the reassurance that I can do the things I set my mind to!

stronger

worth it jump outta bed

understeim jump outta bed

worth it

Have you done a triathlon?
What’s your favourite distance to race?
Do you write down your goals?
What are you working towards right now?
What’s your proudest athletic moment?

finish lines are far and few between: staying motivated in the process

Yesterday, I was driving to the class I do on Tuesday and Thursday with my bicycle trainer, coach, and a really good looking group of people and I caught myself beating myself up for not doing more work. I’d had a good day — it started with a swim, then I had a dentist appointment, but I’d dilly-dallied and spent some time shopping for a Valentine’s Day gift addition (damn you Hallmark holidays!) before spending ~3 hours on my work. Then it sort of dawned on me: I have until the summer to finish this damn thing. And then I reminded the procrastinator in me: A far-off deadline for a huge task is not an excuse to put it off.

You can’t write a thesis in a day now, and I won’t be able to then. So what’s a classic procrastinator to do? Blog.  Learn to aim for progress comes to mind, as does learning a life lesson: in the grand scheme of things, most of our days will be spent working on things that we will finish in the future. It’s a good feeling to be “done” something–I am excited for the champagne I’ll be drinking when my thesis is complete–but we don’t finish big things all that often.

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So, I’m learning, the day to day can be a little mundane–or it can be something we consider success. This year, I am training for a half ironman (my first!), and while I am attracted to and pulled forward by the goal of crossing the finish line, the actual process of making that happen is far less sexy than the albeit sweaty and spandex clad vision I have in mind when I think about what I’m doing. Getting there requires hauling my bike around to ride my trainer with people who actually motivate me to work while I’m on the thing. It involves setting my alarm for 5am and jumping in the pool before my boyfriend has even started his snooze cycle. A particularly tedious part of it involves working on the way my body works to deal with a foot issue that seems to keep on coming back.

…but this is all part of the fun. There are plenty of clichés out there about enjoying the journey or about how our goals are not as important as who we become in the achieving of them. I buy both of them. I am learning and becoming the kind of person who doesn’t mind dragging their bike around the city in the name of better, more social workouts. I am developing the kind of dedication it takes to work on the not-so-sexy aspects of the sport (i.e. injury management/prevention). I am learning that I feel so much better sitting down to my desk when I’ve given myself a good morning workout to start the day.

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Now, it may be a bit cheesy, but I can only hope that these lessons and the way that I’m evolving as a person through all of this is spilling over into other aspects of my life. What am I learning about motivation? What about my reaction to “barriers” or obstacles on my way?

I think this stuff is important. We want to achieve great things—and that is great! I am all for the exciting feeling we get when we think about our bucket lists, complete with things that seem almost impossible. When it comes to goals though, I think most people want to achieve them ASAP. I don’t think I’m alone in loving less the messy, in-between part where we are working towards our goals than I do the sexy parts of setting them and achieving them. But one good workout doesn’t get us ready for a big race. A single day of healthy eating and exercising doesn’t translate into the brand new body of your dreams. As much as we want it to work differently, we get from A to Z by taking a bunch of little steps. We fall in love with people over the day-to-day, which isn’t romantic comedy material but is where we find ourselves becoming attached to those we love. We buy big things that we couldn’t possibly afford all at once, which requires us to be okay with being in the process.

Those little steps can seem mundane, but I would argue that when they’re attached to a bigger goal, they’re not so bad. I say let yourself get sucked into the allure of setting big goals, but don’t forget the part where you think about what you’re going to need to do to get you there. Start to give meaning to those little things that might otherwise seem like a chore or like run-of-the-mill things you just do, going through the motions. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go write another page on my thesis before I go do a training run for that half ironman I mentioned.

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high wheel racing, mountain biking, and knowing I’ll make it

 

Hello from Colorado!

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en route to Glenwood Springs

 

The weather here is lovely, the mountains are beautiful, and so far, the sports history conference I’m at has taught me a lot. Sometimes, I feel like I’m walking away with valuable future jeopardy knowledge. Other times, I get super interested in what a person has to talk about. That’s exactly what happened with one of the bigger addresses from yesterday, Ann Hall’s “Muscle on Wheels: Gender, Class, and the High Wheel Racers in Nineteenth Century America.”

 

She talked about high wheel racing in the 1800s, something I wasn’t even sure I could picture in my mind. Luckily, her talk filled me in on what the bikes were like, what the culture of the races was like, and about some of the people (men and interestingly, to me, women) who raced. She talked about how high wheel races, which were often days in length and saw people racing on their bikes for hours upon hours and miles upon miles around a track, were largely about spectators. Though they were entertainment, they present an interesting case since they’re also a sort of sport. Women, who couldn’t race in sanctioned events by the 1900s, were regular competitors.

bikeee

 

One of the points that stuck out to me from the talk was the description of one of the 10 day races that one of these women participated in. Over the 10 days, on a track, one woman rode over 1000 miles (I think the number was 1,050 miles). 1,050 miles in 10 days!

 

Besides giving me some new background on the history of cycling and on women’s cycling, something that’s a bit of a mystery to me, this also made me feel better about the little nagging doubt that my bike ride next year is going to “kill me.” 3,457 miles in 33 days is a lot, no doubt, and not something to mess with. But 1,050 miles in 10 days on a (strange) high wheel bike in the 1870s? In circles around a track? Sure makes biking across the country seem like an exciting option, doesn’t it? I think I’ll take any “I’m not sure if I’ll make it” thoughts in my head and use them to make sure I take the training and preparation seriously and nothing more. If they could do it back in the day, I can certainly do it now.

elsa

 

In other reasons to feel good about myself, I managed to go for a mountain bike ride without crying or letting myself get frustrated yesterday. One of my classmates who’s here is a fellow cyclist and we decided that we needed to bike while we were out here. The original plan was to rent road bikes (which we still are going to do!), but I let her convince me to get a mountain bike and then followed her up a trail that I probably would have turned away from if I’d been on my own.

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Last summer, I tried mountain biking when I was out west with my family. Brent was very patient with me, but I spent the afternoon we rented bikes supremely frustrated with myself for not being good at it (or even capable of it—I think I mostly walked with my big heavy bike, which wasn’t helped by the fact that it was at the time I had my stress fracture). Probably exacerbated by my always wanting Brent to think I’m the best at all the things (who doesn’t want to impress the person they love?!), the fact that I want to be good at everything but have never rode a mountain bike made for an afternoon of me taking myself too seriously and crying.

 

So yesterday, I knew I needed to try a different approach. I went into the ride not expecting much from myself, committed to taking it easy on myself (we’re at altitude, which made it easier to let the “I should be working harder” thoughts go). It really couldn’t go worse than last time. I also asked Erin a lot of questions I was too proud to ask Brent.

 

Turns out, I had a lot of fun! I still ran with my bike a lot and found myself getting stuck on rocks and such. I fell once, but we won’t talk about it (I’m fine). We took lots of pictures and enjoyed the sun and the scenery. I can see why people like mountain biking, even if it remains mildly terrifying for me!

What makes you feel more confident about doing something that’s scary for you?
If you’re a cyclist, do you ride mountain bikes?
Did you know about high wheel racing? 

 

giving triathlon another tri: woodstock recap

Good morning strangers!

Lately, I’ve been busy with starting my summer job (as a camp counsellor, my days are filled with dodgeball, swimming, and huckle buckle), prepping for a sport history conference in Colorado this weekend, getting ready to move next month, and enjoying the warmer weather as much as possible. My bike shorts tan is coming in quite nicely, in case you were curious! Last weekend, I put the playing in the sun I’ve been doing to the test and gave a triathlon a go in Woodstock, which is only 45 minutes away from where I live and seemed way too convenient to pass up.

It’s been two years since I’ve thought about bricks, open water swims, and wetsuits and since I tend to get nervous take myself too seriously, the weekend was one filled with butterflies for me! I’ll give you a brief recap of the race.

Swim (750m/18:39):
The water at the conservation area was only 61 degrees, which of course made me question my sanity and that of all the other people who paid good money to willingly dive in. In hindsight, a trip to some open water and a swim in my wetsuit before the race would probably have helped me out. I spent the first half of the swim trying to remember how to sight, wondering how the people on their backs and doggy paddling were keeping up with me, and forgetting that I am a comfortable swimmer. This photo, which I swore I’d keep to myself but which I hope will make other people feel better about the bad race photo that always seems to crop up in the mix, sums up how I felt coming out of the water (for the record, I didn’t cry):

me

Bike (20km/41:33):
The bike course was pretty straight forward and flat and riding in the morning meant there wasn’t too much wind to fight with. I usually enjoy the bike part of the race the most and try to pass as many people as possible. This time, I didn’t get ahead of very many people but I was mostly passed by men on fancy bikes so I knew I mustn’t have been doing too badly!

Run (5km/26:46):
Like I said, it’s been a while since I’ve done a lot of running off the bike. I never really had a problem with it–I think I mentally decide that I’m warmed up and that “all that’s left is the run”–but I have been running slowly compared to the pace I’d like to be at lately. With that in mind, I just decided to take the simplest advice a friend ever gave me when it came to the run: “Go so hard that you wan’t to quit but then don’t let yourself.”

Transitions:
The transitions in a triathlon are never my strong suit. I can usually be found conversing with someone in the transition area (it’s important to talk to someone else who is similarly casual or risk pissing off someone in their zone), forgetting to take my helmet off as I head out on the run, or having a snack. I’m sure this approach isn’t helping my times, but I’m also not at the level where it really matters all that much!

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Going into the race, I had my secret goal of what I wanted to do it in. I didn’t make that time. I did, however, make it in the time I told myself I’d be happy with. The results are online but my overall time was 1:30:03. I kept flip flopping between being proud of myself for getting back into the sport, frustrated with myself for being on the 6th page of 8 results and not as fast as I was before, but as the week’s gone on and I’ve done some looking back on how my triathlon results went the last time I took up racing, I’ve realized that what I’ve done is given myself a fine starting point. Like this article about having a “bad” race suggests, you need a race to get you back into the swing of things sometimes. I forgot how hard to go during a race because it’s been a while and while I really wish I’d pushed harder, I didn’t know how I’d do with a race and all three things in a row again.

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I’m also being careful not to compare myself too much to my past times because I’m in a different place now. Triathlon was good for me when I was dealing with my body image and eating issues–anything that let me see my body for what it could do and not just what it looked like was helpful–but I started at a time where I was still not exactly in a healthy place. Two years later, I can appreciate that I’m in a better place physically, mentally and emotionally. I’ve got my hormones back somewhat in order and have a regular period again. I don’t rely on exercise compulsively and more than ever use it as a way to de-stress instead of something to stress over. I’ve made time for other things–people and interests–in my life. I’m in a relationship–with a boyfriend who got out of bed super early on a Sunday for the race and made for a good looking cheerleader.

brent and i woodstock

Speaking of people, there were a handful of my friends and people I knew from when I was doing a lot more triathlons and duathlons doing the race on Sunday, and even more volunteering and helping out. That was comforting and I was pretty glad that I had friends who know what they’re doing to help me with my wetsuit and to answer all my last minute questions so I wouldn’t look like an idiot! My friends, along with Brent, who cheered for me whenever I ran past them, probably don’t realize how much more fun it is when there’s people who know your name cheering you on.

All of these things make a mediocre finishing time not such a big deal. I got to spend the morning surrounded by healthy, happy people in the sun, exercising. I’m not sure what would be better, except maybe if I got a shirt and some food after. Oh wait…

I’m also certain that the rest of the summer will only see things moving in the right direction. Next up on my agenda, after Colorado (and I’m hoping to rent a bike there!), are some longer bike rides-Pedal to the Pines and lots of time on my bike getting psyched for my tour next year–and another sprint distance triathlon at Guelph Lake in June!

Are you a triathlete?
How do you deal when you’re feeling “slow”?
What is your favourite part about racing? 
Are you doing any events this summer? 

sucking at it but doing it any way: what’s the exercise you love the most?

I had a lovely break over Christmas that I spent largely baking cookies, celebrating with friends and family, getting myself organized for a new year, and working out. I told myself heading into the break that I wouldn’t stress over figuring out the perfect workout schedule but that I’d just do the classes, workouts, and exercise that felt the best for me and my schedule.

I ended up dabbling in plenty of Olympic lifting, spinning, yoga, some CrossFit, and a swim here or there.

Know the saying, “Jack (Jill?) of all trades, master of none”? Since I dabble in a bunch of things, I don’t really consider myself “good” or “great” at any of them. On occasion, this leads to me getting into a negative spot that only wine or the gentle words of my oh so patient boyfriend can drag me out of where I’m thinking that I’m “not good enough” instead of valuing how awesome it is to be able to do a whole variety of activities with competence and enjoyment. I sometimes wonder what would happen if I actually poured my heart and soul into being a hardcore cyclist or a die-hard yogi or whatever the flavour of the week is. But the question I usually come back to is “what for?” and the realization I end up with over again–cheese alert–is that I don’t have to be the best, I just have to be my best. 

doing your best

So a helpful question I like to ask myself is: Would I still do _______ if I sucked at it? 

When I get into that comparison trap, reminding myself that I would still do CrossFit, for instance, even if my times were always the slowest or my weights were always the lightest, is a good way to get me out of it and to remind me that the point is not to be the best at it, it’s to enjoy it and the benefits that come along the way. Ditto for cycling or yoga or whatever activity I’m stressing over not being “the best” at. Then, it’s way less important that I feel like I don’t measure up.

compare and despair

It’s also a nice reminder to think about the fact that no matter what, there will be someone better out there. But in so many things–and beyond exercise–there’s no point in deciding that just because someone else is doing the same thing you are but better, you should stop. My gut reaction is to remind myself that what I’m doing is important and to use the fact that there is someone doing a better job out there to do even better. Whether or not we’re the best at something, we have something to offer.

woods

Now that I’m sufficiently off track, I’ll wrap this up by encouraging you to look at the things you do and the things you “love” and to check in: do you love them enough to do them even if you suck? Remember that when you’re feeling unmotivated or need a reminder that you rip…

awesome

What do you suck at but do anyways? 

Tired but inspired

“My formula for living is quite simple. I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night. In between, I occupy myself as best I can.”

Cary Grant quotes

Well howdy there!

As my title hinted, I’m tired but inspired–so this is the kind of tired, “I had such a kick butt day” that I think every day should be like…

We started our staff training today at the gym on campus. Since I’m teaching at campus rec this fall, I was in on this. I’m kind of a lifer now–and it feels cool to go back and see a whole new bunch of faces (cough *cute new boys* cough). The aquatics staff, events staff, memberships services, and fitness people all get together and do sessions that we have to (think computer sessions to teach us how to access info) and ones that we get to choose from (think workouts).

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I started my day off with leftovers from last night. I’ve commented before about how I don’t really differentiate too much between what I eat in the morning and at night (does it really make sense to only eat certain foods at certain times of the day, after all?), but I did add in an apple to today’s breakfast.

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Leftover beef, brussel sprouts, and onions in coconut oil + an apple

After a morning of info sessions, I was ravenous. I ate my lunch out of my lunchbox (hiding it) in the computer lab because I’m bad ass. FYI, stuffing your face with kale and sausage is not really discreet, but it is delicious.

Eating lunch before lunch time meant I had no problemo skipping out during our lunch break to hit up the (other) gym with one of my fellow fitness instructors. While everyone ate pizza, we sweat our butts off. Britt’s trying out for hockey so she’s all about squats and deadlifts, and I’m all about getting back into this so gosh it was perfect to have company for this trek!

After a few sets of each, we did a take on a workout from a crossfit site I’ve been poking around. For me: 15 tuck jumps / 7 modified pullups / 3 ground to overhead every 90 seconds for 15 minutes — it works out to 10 rounds if you’re not a mathlete. It also works out to mass quantities of sweat, dripping on the floor, arriving back at the gym stinking up a storm, and being far too happy to hop in the pool for an “Aquatic Adventure” (one of those optional sessions).

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And by hop in I mean get flipped in off a tube — we played a match of innertube water polo. Let me tell you–this was not only FUN but also pretty physical! I spent a lot of energy just trying not to fall off my tube OR trying to get back in it if I had and missing the net on my shots. I don’t “throw like a girl” but I could definitely improve! The moral of the story is: random sports are fun. I want to play more of them. Intramurals, anyone?

After all that splashing, the hungries came on hard at the end of the day so my afternoon snack was a “what the heck can I get in this hangry mouth right now” kind of situation. Almonds and then a banana with cinnamon on top fit the bill — easy, fast, good. 🙂

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Top it off with an americano between appointments and errands and you’ve got perfection! 20120829-211705.jpg

I managed to get to the grocery store to pick up some goodies (no labels here) and I am cooking up some chicken and salmon now so I’ll have food for a few days!

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I ended my night with the highlight of the day — dinner! It’s not the food that was awesome, although the salmon and salad was pretty bomb.

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Tonight was my second Life By Design 101 dinner. I brought a pal along with me today who’s interested in chiropractic and on the same health wavelength as a lot of what LBD talks about.

Last month, I said Dr. K did a really great job of introducing what LBD is about. But today, he was like a whole new level of rockstar! I haven’t seen so much passion and enthusiasm in one person since…the last time I talked to him? I’m not really kidding, but tonight he was on fire! I can’t wait for next month (who wants to join me?). I was sitting there smiling and thinking — I want to do this (lucky for me I have a vision and it’s in line with that…:)!).

In short, the dinner is an intro to what LBD is about — the chiropractic side of things, the thinking, eating, and moving.

For me, the refresher brought some new insight. I think a big part of this whole journey for me is waking up and being present. Getting to hear about something I’ve already heard about but from where I am now is a cool experience.

One thing that Dr. K stressed and that I even took the time to write down in my trusty notebook was that it all comes down to reality and responsibility. 

Building off of that, I’ve been thinking. I started to beat myself up for having heard this and not acted sooner. After talking about squats and my (poor) mobility, I had to shift my focus.

On that topic, I don’t have the greatest mobility. I don’t squat very deep. Dr. K suggested a wesbite to me, but as it was coming out of his mouth I already new what he was going to say (so of course I said it along with him)–mobilitywod.com. So if I know about it, I must be using it right?

Uhhhh. Not so much. Cue thinking by design and focusing on what’s strong and not on what’s wrong. My job isn’t to beat myself up over not doing something sooner. Like I talked about yesterday, you’ve got to be okay with where you are in order to improve. So instead of calling myself lazy I am recognizing how cool it is that I realized that I can do something about all of this and taking this increased consciousness as just another awesome side effect of what I’m doing — taking ownership (responsibility), for the way things are (reality).

Other conscious thinking today involved re-reading my vision, chatting, hearing LBD 101, and the reading I’m about to do! Last night I cracked Atlas Shrugged and now I’m ready to get back into it before I fall asleep.

Like I said, it was a tiring day, but the good kind of tired. Here’s to more days like this — filled with awesome! Let’s just say that I feel even more excited about what I’m doing. I feel connected to something bigger. I feel like I’m on fire by association–cuz I am! 😀

What’s something you neglect in terms of fitness that you could give more attention to?
Do you eat breakfast for dinner? What about dinner for breakfast?
Have you ever played innertube water polo?

So do something about it

“Peak performance begins with your taking complete responsibility for your life and everything that happens to you.”
– Brian Tracy

After last night’s post, how perfect is that quote?

I started my day with a different breakfast for a change.

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If I know that I could do without dairy, why do I fall back on yogurt every darn day? Today I whipped up a Carrots N Cake inspired breakfast. 2 eggs and a banana, topped with some almond butter. Good thing I’m using common sense in response to all that egg yolk “controversy” last week — and they were whole delicious awesome and dare I say it — healthy — eggs. 🙂

After breakfast, I waited around for my family to get up for a while before I decided to get out and enjoy the day, which turned out to be beautiful. I laced up my running shoes and was going to run and then play on the monkey bars down the street but after about 10 minutes, I was absolutely done with running. Things still feel tired/sore from the weekend (is that pathetic?) and to be honest I just wasn’t into it. So I switched it up…

And it was 50 minutes total of awesome sweaty fun. 🙂

I think I may also have been influenced by an article I read last night. You can read the articles online if you google Dan John and there’s a list of them here so educate yourself. I can’t remember his words but it was essentially just making the point that if you want to get better at something, you have to do it…fancy that! 

There’s a general theme here (back to that quote) about taking ownership and responsibility…and I had a good (facebook) conversation with Dr. Kreso about the same concept. It’s good to think…

It’s also good to shop!

After a quick lunch (chicken sausage with some coleslaw and an apple) and the first of three reese’s spread over the day (quite different treats than yesterday), my mom and I went to the mall.

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I came home with jeans — the same pair I’ve bought a bunch of times before in a bunch of sizes (this is not a touchy subject–I went up a size again so this is my 4th pair of the same ones but they fit like a glove and I like my cycling, squatting legs and feeling good in my clothes)–a pair of clogs (bring on fall), a new nose ring (I lost mine on the weekend), and a shit ton of pumpkin scented soap. I have an addiction to socks AND soap, apparently…

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I managed to avoid buying all this rustic stuff I wanted (the whole store, basically) but my mom promised me a house-warming gift once I find myself a new (hippie) apartment this fall!

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I had some nuts for an afternoon snack before we came back to my Grandmas. Om nom nom.

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This evening, I helped with the yardwork (confession: I have never cut a lawn before but I loved it–I felt so productive!) and tag teamed dinner with my mom. We made a roast with veggies and potatoes, to which I added a big ol’ dose of kale. Perfection!

Now it’s time for some more family time and then sleep! I promised my grandma I’d bake her a cake, I have some stuff I keep putting off and need to get to tomorrow, and we’re hoping to round out our shopping…ambitious! I’m also planning on taking my TRX for workout at the nearest tree I can find (if I’m not too sore from today!).

Compared to yesterday, I feel re-energized. Back on track. All that good stuff from realizing that if you want to change, you can. You just have to be there…

Which reminds me of this…

Happy Wednesday!

Vacation thoughts

In the past, a vacation was something I looked forward to and prepped for incessantly. I would worry about what I was going to look ilk eon the beach in a bikini and I would always set a weight loss goal centred on the day of my departure.

Usually, I didn’t lose any weight.

Often, I got more anxious about the pressure and ended up feeling fat. That means I missed out on the fun of the anticipation of a trip.

If you haven’t guessed, things have changed for me!

I’m heading to a resort in Virginia for a weeklong bike trip and I am feeling all kinds of excited. Even with my tumble earlier this week, I’m excited for some quality riding in the hills and to meet a lot of like-minded, energetic people!

Other notable things I’m excited for:

  • drinking beer
  • watching the tour
  • playing golf
  • swimming
  • having some new tennis partners
  • seeing the scenery
  • sleeping in
  • the road trip
  • time to read books
  • spotty wireless – aka even more time to read books

Really, I’m excited to get away and to step back from everything, even though everything is awesome. So awesome, in fact, that I feel a little sad leaving. So much positive stuff is going on right now and I’m having so much fun this summer that it’s almost bittersweet to go away. Enough complaining-I’m lucky to be going on this trip and I’m REALLY lucky to be in such a happy place right now.

That being said, I wanted to make a point about something health-related that I see and hear a lot of: like me, a lot of people go on extreme diets or try cleanses or at least work out harder in anticipation of a vacation. Fine, you want to look your best. But I also hear a lot of people saying that they’re going to totally let loose once they’re wherever they’re headed. While I’m all for lightening up and maybe enjoying some sleep ins and extra rest days and a few extra treats while you’re on vacation, when it comes to health, I have a couple of thoughts. List form seems appropriate:

  • If you have to take a vacation from your “diet” — it’s just that, a diet. And diets are really stupid — why not just come up with an eating approach that isn’t restrictive but that makes you feel good and keeps your body healthy, based on where you are?
  • If you feel guilty over missing your workouts, is that really a balanced and health-promoting thing. My thoughts are, as you know, that your exercise should be something you want to do. Not a requirement or something you force yourself into. i.e. if you’re on vacation and you don’t want to do it, why are you doing it? Why don’t you do something else — take a surfing lesson? Go for a hike? Explore a city by foot?

In short, if you feed yourself and move your body in a way that serves it to be healthy (not to look a certain way at all costs or because someone tells you to), a vacation doesn’t mean letting all of that go. There’s no “on” or “off” and there’s not really anything to be anxious for.

And I like this cuz maybe it’s why I feel kind of bittersweet about going:

The truth is all the awesome I’m enjoying right now is gonna be here when I get back. And no one said things have to stand still while I’m gone. All those things I’m looking forward to are just moving me towards an even better healthier happier spot. And one thing I’m adding into the mix is this promise: I’m going to chew no gum while I’m gone. 10 day kick start seems like a good way to kick my pack a day habit. I feel bloated and I don’t know if I’m chewing to keep myself occupied or to deal with nerves or to give myself a reason to feel like I have a problem (whoa, too much self analyzing here), but I do think I should just leave that habit in the dust. So there you have it: my pledge! If my breath stinks, hook me up with a mint and NOT a stick of gum, mmmkay?

How fitting is it that I just got this reminder in my inbox?:

Here we go! 🙂 And don’t worry, my blog won’t be totally dead while I’m gone. Some great gals have helped me out already with guest posts, I think I’ve got some more on the way (?) and I intend to update periodically. 😀 Cuz I love blogging, in case you didn’t notice.

What do you think about my take on vacations?
What’s the last vacation you’ve taken?