The Road To A Duathlon

Today’s post is a compilation of thoughts, reflections, and an overall recap from my recent duathlon.  I largely write this to exercise my mind and the emotions that come from not only doing this type of event, but the months of training and ultimate finishing of it as well.

It is perhaps, hard to explain. It’s easier to understand if you’ve ever undertaken a similar event but really, for anyone who does this, or triathlons, we all have our “whys” for what we do.

It’s the thing that puts us out there not just for the race but the months leading up to it.

So, if you wish to continue, get comfy and go along on the ride with me. I promise to not bore you with stats and stuff like that 😉

Maybe you’ve never entertained the idea of something so crazy, or perhaps you’ve wondered if you could do it and are sitting on a fence pondering that idea. I’ll just say this… anyone… can do anything they determine they are going to do.

You might not be the fastest or most skilled but by damn, you can do it if you determine you’re going to.

How did an ordinary woman get to this point?

Seriously. It’s a thought that’s danced through my head on more than one occasion.

Somehow a middle aged, wife, mom, grandmother, jack of all trades, previously non-athletic person turned into an athlete. And not just one who plays with one sport, but a duathlete.

I’d have to say it’s largely come from chasing down one goal after another. Once I saw I could do something bigger than I thought I could do, I’d set the bar for another goal, yet larger one.

Although I hated being sidetracked a couple years ago with an Achilles injury, that’s what put me on the bike more. I could cycle and get those miles I craved I wasn’t getting from running. Turns out all that running made me super strong and pretty capable on the bike, not a bad thing.

I kept at the bike as I healed. I learned and practiced. I shamelessly talked to anyone who could tell me what I needed to know. I kept increasing my miles and riding hard terrain.

I wanted to do the duathlon the year I was still recovering from my running injury but when it got to the time I needed to be training, I just felt like my leg wasn’t ready for running.

Last year everything was in place for me to do it.

I invested myself heavily into training, practiced transitions, did brick sessions once or twice a week ( run/bike, or bike/run) to train my body to the demands of shifting from one activity to the next.

Race day I went out and did what I’d trained myself to do. Being my first multi sport event I felt like such an inexperienced baby but I got it done.

And done enough  to place first in my age group. I secretly hoped I’d be good enough to place but hadn’t voiced it out loud.

Overall, it was a good experience and I set my sites on 2018 and doing it again.

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I love the excitement of picking up a new race number.

Same game, new year, new adventures.

As I began training this year I at least understood more of what was involved and required of me to do this event. This duathlon is a championship race and it’s listed as the “toughest in the state.”  They tell no lies about this.

I knew the physical demands as well as mental demands.

There were however, new life things I didn’t have going on last year in competition with me for training.

Namely, a 4 day a week job that took up leisure time.  Yes, I could still get in training on most mornings, I just didn’t have as much time to extend those sessions.

Running. Straight up, running was harder this year. I think there are a variety of reasons, but it is what it is.

Because of that I didn’t push myself as much on it. Yes, I knew I could do it. Would it be ultimately what I wanted in time/pace etc? Maybe not but I’d just have to be good with it.

I kept to my cycling and training on the hardest roads I could find. Hills are definitely one place my strength really shines and since the duathlon course was loaded with some hard monster sized ones it made sense to keep my physical and mental training honed in this area.

The struggle is real.

As race day approached, mixed with my usual pre-race nerves was the overwhelming feeling of…

“What am I doing??”

I found myself wondering if something might come up and then I wouldn’t be able to do it. Like .. “what if I got sick?”  haha something every athlete worries about before an event.

I questioned my training. I questioned my abilities. I questioned if I had what it took to do it ( which is kinda laughable considering I’d done it last year and I’d been training for it this year)

I remember pouring out all my angst to hubby to which he responded….

“You know you can do it. Just go and do it. When you cross the finish line it will be amazing. I don’t even know how you do what you do.”

Somehow those words settled me.

No matter what, doing it, and seeing myself across the finish line was all that mattered.

Quitting was never an option.

Race time….

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Early morning warming up… finish line I got my eye on you

Needless to say like any athlete with an event coming up, I stalked the weather hoping it would be…well… decent.  I’d trained in all kinds of weather but really, who doesn’t want race day to be prime?

Temperatures were promised in the mid-50s with a chance of rain… afternoon rain.

ok well, to me the promised temps were decent… I could still work up a sweat with that.

However, weather you know, has a mind of it’s own…..on the way to the race it started raining some.

Ok no worries. Except once I got there in the early morning dark it appeared the rain wasn’t interested in waiting till the afternoon. Intermittent showers were our friend through out the morning.

Not only that, the comfortable, warmish weather shifted with some arriving wind knocking it into the mid 40’s.

Now we had some rain, wind and much colder air.

All of the athletes were being warned to drop the PSI in their tires, to watch their speed and to be careful on corners.

I was grateful that the rain didn’t daunt me, that I had spent time in it training…. but still… I understood the roads were slick and I also understood that meant a newer level of caution.

Of course I’d dressed more for warmer weather but thankfully had my waterproof cycling jacket on ( which was a bit to warm for the first run leg) I tossed it when I transitioned to the bike…. which made for a colder than anticipated bike ride being wet and flying down the road at rapid speeds.

None of that mattered…. this is what we had for the race…. deal with it.

As I was running the parking lot warming up in the breaking dawn with rain coming down on me one of the police officers stopped me and said “are you sure you want to be out here doing this?” I laughed and told him there were probably a few of us who might think being home, comfy with a cup of coffee, would be preferable to being out at 630 on a cold, wet morning shaking out our legs and nerves pre race.

But then I added….” you have to understand that every single one of us out here might be a wee bit insane. It’s that insanity that has us here and will drive us to finish today ”

He gave me a big laugh and told me to please be careful out there as I went loping off.

And I still stand by that. Being a little crazy is what keeps you out there and is the undercurrent to getting the work done.

And nothing…nothing… feels better when that insanity brings you across the finish line.

The first leg of race, the 5K was just crappy and I knew it would be. It wasn’t my best time and it wasn’t anything that impressed me. I just focused on moving through it knowing I’d close ground once I got on the bike.

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Working that run… evidently the lady drafting me had the same idea about sleeping on the run 😉

 

 

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Nothing but a sea of bikes in the transition area, A cold and wet morning.

I moved through transition as quickly as I could. I think this year I had it about 1:15. Not only are you transitioning into new gear, preparing for another sport, I believe your mind has got to transition as well.

As I knew I would, once I took off on bike I started covering ground and picking off other cyclists. This became as game as I settled into the ride. I was trying to not think about how much colder it was as I sped down the road in shorts and a sleeveless cycling jersey.

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Those clips were slippery that day….

As the miles disappeared I knew I was getting close before we would turn and head back.

The miles with the beastly hills were what I still had to tackle. Only today they were wet and dark looming like large, formidable sentries in front of us.

This however, was home turf and I felt comfortable in it.

As I got closer to the first huge hill that is my nemesis, the one I have a love hate relationship with, I could see it littered with cyclists… all pushing their bikes up.

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This is a sun shiny pic of the “hill”… it looks more formidable grey and wet

My mental game had been pretty strong at that point, but seeing all those people pushing their bikes up, well that can really start to do a number on my mind.

I’ve never, ever since I started riding that beast had to push my bike up and I didn’t plan to start anytime soon.

I locked my mind down, looked directly at the road in front of my bike and plowed up that hill past them.  I think at that point if anyone had gotten in front of me or challenged me on anything,  I could’ve taken them on my mental game was just that strong.  I got on top of the hill, and began to prepare for the second one which was just over the top of the one I’d just climbed.  Again I had to dodge people pushing their bikes up.

I had a brief moment to let the bike do the work before we hit the final back hills. As I came around a curve that was so familiar to me, and prepared to fly up a hill, there were cyclists walking their bikes down saying the spotters had encouraged people to walk down.

Ha. Not likely.

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This was a slippery slope on duathlon day… slowed things down a bit… I only hit 39.5 mph coming off it 😛

I got to the top and prepared for the descent down the back of the hill… again coming back I had to pass people pushing up. Once again I locked my mind down… set my focus directly in front of me and shouldered into it.

The two spotters at the top were like… “wow, nice work ma’am” ha I hardly had time to acknowledge them before I was flying off the hill again, now on my way back to the start line.

A few miles from getting back to the transition area I was aware that I was oh so cold, my feet felt numb and then out of the blue stabbing cramps in my quad, up into my hip, wrapping into my hamstring.

I’ve never had that happen before.  Thankfully I was able to stand up and keep riding and work it out without having to stop.

It was debatable for awhile.

Cold. Cramps. Wet.  Battling mental demons along the way. So many battles that day.

The end was closer. I fought for this thing and I would finish it out.

And finish I did. The last run was a surprise in that it was longer than last year (ah) so where I thought we’d turn and head back…well… no.. we got to keep going for a bit longer.

When I finally got to the stretch and could see that finish line, the big red numbers with the race time, the announcer calling my number, saw my husband patiently waiting for me, knew my months of work was about to pay off,  it was worth it.

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The most non glamorous pic ever… yet one of the most beautiful to me as it represents the finish of what I started. At this point I’m moments away from crossing that finish line after a 3.10 mile run, a 16 mile tough ride, and a 1.5 mile run.  Emotions are running high.

It was worth the months of training, the early mornings, the tired legs, the days that left me exhausted, the doubts were crushed, and once again, there was that overwhelming immense satisfaction in stepping across that finish line.

It makes me weep every time.

My emotions run high as it all culminates  …. the proverbial icing on the cake… my own personal victory.

And well, it was pretty cool to check my stats and see it showed me as first in my age group. 🙂

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So cold, wet, hungry and tired…  but I’ve got some smiles for this….

I’d never entertained that because I just thought my time wouldn’t be so impressive. Once they posted times for both genders, I could see that my finish time was what some of the 20-24 year old guys placed in … so there’s that 😛

So what’s next?

I don’t have any plans of slowing down or sitting on the sidelines watching life. I’d love to do at least two duathlons in 2018. I’d also like to ease back into distance running  and maybe cut my teeth on a half marathon again. It’s technically now “off season” although I don’t see myself not training. I will add in an extra strength training day ’cause muscles are nice to have in a variety of ways. 😉 Not just that, it’s freaking cool to be strong and being strong is what helps me get through the tough part of these events.

I am such a baby in this world of multi sport events so I have plenty of room to grow, learn and improve. I guess that’s what keeps me coming back, knowing I can constantly challenge myself.

And finally, I’ve gotta say thank you to my amazing family, my husband and kids, my tribe who love me, encourage me, tell me I’m crazy, and are so proud and supportive of what I do. My husband who willingly gets up at crazy hours to go with me, who endures the weather, takes pics, and is the smiling face I’m looking for when I come in, who buys me food and coffee when I’m frozen and starving….. his support is crucial to what I do.

And of course my friends who love me, cheer me on and also love telling me I’m crazy… I appreciate all of your encouragement and support  🙂

Thank you for sharing in my recent adventures by reading this post! Your turn, tell me about your adventures…what you’ve done or what you may be planning to do. Do those dreams ever just scare you a little? How have you felt when you accomplished something you’ve never done?

 

 

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Monday Musings

Hello world! In the words of an old Staind song…. “it’s been awhile….”  since I’ve offered something up.  I’m still here and per usual, got stuff on my mind.

First of all, here in Texas we’ve had an unusually high amount of rain and overall wet stuff for what seems like weeks now… which can feel like…eternity….

Cloudy, rainy, foggy days seem to literally suck my creativity out of me for some reason. Not just writing, but with my furniture projects too.  Am I the only one who gets derailed when the weather is awful?

Last week it was wet and cold. I layered up and took off for a 4 mile run while the rain had seemingly stopped for awhile. Well, stopped till I was about half through then the skies opened up.

I just kept going. I was already out and semi wet from the misty air, might as well finish and get it done.

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This photo doesn’t reflect the fact my clothes are all wet 😛

 

Ah, then I returned to find no power which meant no hot shower  and a chilly house to come back to.

Cold. Wet. Hungry.

Good times.

It just felt wonderful to be out, moving, even if it was cold and wet. There’s no guarantee of the weather the day of the duathlon next month ( which we’ll discuss more in a bit) so I try and suck it up and train in the awful weather too.

Other things happening in November….

Here in the states, it will be time for our elections. We have a tremendous freedom, privilege and responsibility to vote for those we feel can lead and represent us best. I saw a sign out on my bike ride today encouraging voters to vote a certain way to support a parties “Agenda”.  Guess we’ve all got an agenda but we really need to vote for those who hopefully have a less self serving agenda.

Please, make it a priority to go to the voting booth and exercise your right to use your voice.

Oh… and football….

Football is back in full swing and having a family with lots of men, well, needless to say it’s a standing party every Sunday and some week nights too.  Even now as I’m writing, I can hear the cheers, yelling and excitement of them watching the game.

I should mention, my kids who are now adults, several married with kids of their own, have chosen to live close by.. And when I say close I mean they walk over from their house to mine.  We’ve been blessed with land and they have chosen to stay close.

I don’t take that for granted as I know for many, they only see kids and grandkids a few times a year.

My home becomes a place of controlled chaos, kids, toys, dogs, food and stuff every where during this time.  I’m not as much worried about trying to keep a spotless house as I am making sure they all always feel welcome and want to hang out here.

Those are the simple things that make life good, right?

Now about that duathlon…..

it’s less than a month out. November 18 it’s going down and it’s only my second time so I hardly feel like a pro at it.

And because of that, it’s exactly why it was back on my radar as soon as I finished my first one. There is so much room to grow and improve my game because well, any time you are juggling multi sports, it just gets more intense and there’s a whole lot more involved. It’s not “just” running or “just” cycling… it’s both and both demand hard work.

I like a challenge what can I say?

Here’s the deal though. This year, life has been different. I don’t feel like I’ve had the extra time to do “more” training.  The weather has been less than ideal for months now which in the name of safety has cancelled many outdoor workout sessions. I do have a “Plan B” which is indoor strength training or rowing or boxing or a combination of it all but it’s not the same as putting those miles in.

I am working several days during the week with my son so that wasn’t planned and although he knows I need to get my training in before I come, I don’t have a lot of extra time for doing more.

On top of that a couple weeks ago my leg started acting up. I can’t say it’s my knee, but more like on the outside of it.

Like where did this come from??   I do NOT have time for any of these kind of shenanigans.

Properly warming up it tends to not be to bothersome… but it’s there.

Saturday I finally got to get back on the road for a 4 mile run. With the weather and my schedule it had been a week since I had been able to run so I let myself go pretty easy for half of it.

It was in the last half mile that I really started feeling it… and then the overwhelming emotion of what I was training to do…. and then the tears started falling.

My gosh have you ever tried running and crying ? It is not a good combination.

I have to say, endurance sports bring out an emotion in me that I had never experienced before I started doing them.

The tears can come from anger over a situation I can’t control, frustration when I want to do better,  to falling with joy when I do something I didn’t think I could do. Like the very first time I rode up this massive, massive hill.

I just can’t stop it from happening but have to rein it in so I can keep doing what I’m doing ’cause you know, crying and breathing to support my exercise don’t go well together.

Last year, as I crossed the finish line for the duathlon, the tears were there. The poor guy guiding me in and directing me off course as I finished was all “Are you ok? Are you hurt?” I assured him I was fine but the enormity of just finishing something I had worked so hard for, sacrificed so much for, invested myself in ways I never thought possible just washed over me. It is an emotional experience I can’t explain.

I had done it.

But the tears falling during my run on Saturday were ones of frustration, momentary self doubt, angst over the worry of an injury so close to the race, and the general feeling of “what the hell am I doing??”

This is a state championship race. Most of the athletes are college age young adults. No I don’t compete directly against them but they make up a huge part of their field.

The course is listed as the toughest in the state, and it is.  I cannot imagine even attempting it without some real training under me.  It’s brutal.

And maybe that’s where I am, knowing all these things.

Me, a middle aged wife, mom, grandmother in the mix of these young athletes at the top of their game.

Me, just beginning to dabble in multi sport events, but loving the challenge of it, yet feeling like I have so much yet to learn, surrounded by those who seem so experienced with it.

So many thoughts running rampant through my head as I finished my run with my leg reminding me it was there.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s good to have some feelings of inadequacy with such a big event.

Don’t get me wrong. I know I’m strong and capable. Physically, I know I can grind it out. I just went out and rode the whole course today and topped it with a mile run.

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Smiling after 21 miles on the bike and a mile run on Sunday

Will it be in a time I want? Only race day will really reveal that.

Saturday I wore my t shirt I got last year for finishing ( that’s the only t shirt I’ll ever collect, the finisher one) and I got to thinking that I had earned the right to wear that little shirt.

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It represented months of work, sacrifice, early mornings, aching muscles, learning new things, training in cold, rain and heat, tears, and more sacrifice.

I earned that shirt and in the same way, I’ve earned the right to be heading back there again.

I’ve learned a few things you can only learn in events with the transition areas so I’m hoping to tighten my time down there.  I know the course. I know the freaking hard parts and the places I can “briefly” recover before hitting more hard places.

I don’t know what the weather will be like or other random factors.

I do know I can get my mental game locked in tightly, protect my body as best as I can and keep it healthy and go that day ready to take no prisoners.

I really would like to scoop up first in my AG again.

Regardless, I’ll be there, as ready as I can mentally and physically ready to do “My” best, not worrying about anyone else and what they are doing. I’m fiercely competitive so that will add to my fire too.

I’ve earned the right to be there and I’m ready to what I’ve trained for all these months and that will have to be enough.

Processing these things out before an event seems to be how I roll.  Does anyone else relate to that?

And of course before I leave you…..

Food. This weather has definitely been about comfort foods. I’ll share a recipe everyone has gone crazy over and it’s soooo easy.

FYI I subbed greek yogurt for sour cream… less fat… more protein.

https://www.plainchicken.com/2009/01/creamy-chicken-casserole.html

Now tell me about your week. What’s new out there with all of you? Anyone training for an event? Do you have any favorite comfort foods?

Monday Musings

Hello boys and girls… and hello Monday.  As I’m writing this ending out the week, I guess I’ll start with our weather and how we’ve been dancing into the 100 degree temps this week.

I should be used to it after living my entire life in the South.

I should be used to going from warm, sunny, pleasant, perfect days that are enjoyable to be  outside, to the weather turning crazy hot in an instant leaving those mild days a memory till fall rolls around.

Maybe I’m mean, but I think, really, the weather reporters don’t need a job when all they do is show a picture of the sun shining all week and the temperatures listed at 100-102.

I mean if you have nothing else to share, you don’t need to be there telling us nothing has changed. 😛

Exercise and the heat

Once those temperatures start getting hotter again, I know I’ll be feeling it in my workouts. I am pretty acclimated to training outside but when there have been months of mild weather, it does take me a few weeks to get used to the heat and humidity again. Even going out early, like 7-730, it’s already warm, often hot, and then there’s the humidity along with it.

This turns most workouts into a crazy sweat fest. No one. And I mean  no one, takes my offers of a hug when I come in from working out.

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Believe it or not, this is still early in the morning and I have a hot 5k in front of me.

 

Of course if I’m not out running, then I’m doing this….

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It’s cool to be all matchy, matchy with your bike, right?

 

Needless to say, I try and become a little more aggressive with my hydration during these hotter days.  Once I learned how to check my sweat rate, I was amazed at how many pounds of fluid I could lose in a training session. Anywhere from 2-5 pounds depending on the temperature and duration of my workout.

I learned that I needed to replace those lost pounds with 16oz of water for each lost pound and then keep drinking to maintain normal hydration.

I know the drill and do it. And I’ll have to stay on top of things since it appears summer is gonna be really hot as I get my training ramped up for my second duathlon in November.

The race organizers just dropped the date this week for it so I anticipate that registration will open soon.

I tell you this… once I cough up money for an event… there is no backing out and it gets me more motivated knowing I’ve made that commitment.

Of course nutrition will be as important as ever….

I whipped up my own tasty salad to take with me when I worked with my son this week. I shared in a previous post I’ve been helping him some at work so instead of running out to a drive thru for a salad, I put one together that’s cheaper and tastier.

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Spinach, cherry tomatoes, avocado, green apples, grilled chicken, feta cheese with a lime vinaigrette dressing.

Oh… if you missed my spotlight on apples post and how good they are for you find it here…  https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/06/01/spotlight-on-apples/

Seriously though as the weather gets warmer I love the lightness of salads and how they fill me up but don’t make me feel lethargic like eating a more carbohydrate laden meal would.

Of course with salads, you can make endless combinations that won’t get boring. When making your own just make sure you add plenty of protein in with your veggies and add in variety of textures and flavors. Watch the dressing you use because you can add 100’s of calories to a healthy meal.

I hate seeing people trying to make a better food choice with a salad and then drowning it in Ranch dressing. At that point, a sandwich would be healthier and offer way less calories than a salad covered in so much dressing.

Consider using dressing on side and dipping your fork into it or look for dressings that have a low calorie content. Better yet, whip up some of your own for a tasty treat.

So I’ve got these other projects….

I have a room my now married son vacated so I decided I was going to paint it this week when I scored paint for 5.00 a gallon. How could I not??

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I hadn’t used this particular brand so I wasn’t sure exactly how the paint would be. It turned out to be as thick and covering as a big name brand I always buy. I had brushes so my total purchase here was 11.65 for this little room project.

Go me.

I’m almost done ’cause I wanna get back to some of my furniture projects I’ve got going on.  I have one really needy chair waiting for my attention and a cute vanity I’m eager to get started with.

Ha… I have plenty of projects waiting for me. I don’t NEED any other projects, yet I keep my eyes open for anything cute or unique that comes along and needs some help.

Painting, writing, training for my duathlon, life stuff, some extracurricular “work”, I also finally got a business page launched for my vintage furniture… ah… sometimes I’m busy.

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This is where I enjoy crafting out my posts for the blog 🙂 I hadn’t been here in awhile.

 

Iced coffee. That’s where it’s at during the summer months for me. My baristas usually have it served up before I’ve made it through the line.

If you get coffee at coffee shops I seriously hope you appreciate the young people behind the counter who are serving up your coffee. They put up with more in their days sometimes than you and I will ever have to. I have unfortunately seen several instances where customers acted in sad, deplorable ways because something wasn’t “right”. I believe of course, if I’m paying for something that it should be what I want. I also believe you can express yourself in a courteous way if there is a problem with your order.

It is disturbing to me how some people seem to view themselves as “above” those behind the counter and can therefore speak in ugly ways.

That’s just… not… cool.

Drinks need food…

Last week was Memorial Day in the states and I shared some recipes I’d be experimenting with on the family.

One that was a huge hit was a brownie recipe….

Mocha brownies with coffee cream cheese frosting.

The bad thing about them? I should’ve doubled the recipe as there were battles breaking out over who got the last one. I had to laugh when the recipe said to refrigerate left overs.

Left overs. Right.

They were beyond amazing. If you want the recipe, find it in this post….

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/05/28/monday-musings-13/

You’ll also find the recipe for an avocado salad I made… it was pretty good too.

That’s a wrap…

Did you make any new recipes this week?  Are you dealing with really hot weather and how does that affect any training you might be doing? Do you have a favorite hot weather drink?

Outside Your Comfort Zone

Comfort….. a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint.

Zone…. this has many definitions but the one that may be suitable here is a region or area set off as distinct from surrounding or adjoining parts.

Welcome to todays word dialog and discussion boys and girls. Today we are talking about that invisible boundary in our life often referred to as our comfort zone.

If we combine our above definitions for the purpose of this post we could say our comfort zone is a area or distinct part of our life where we maintain a state of physical ease and discomfort. It is a zone where we can comfortably abide in our daily lives and activities without feeling pain or constraint.

I hope that’s a good working definition for this post…

I did find an example that calls it like this: A comfort zone is a psychological state in which things feel familiar to a person and they are at ease and in control of their environment, experiencing low levels of anxiety and stress. In this zone, a steady level of performance is possible.

So with those thoughts firmly in hand let’s begin our discussion of this invisible place we all know and have in our lives.

Don’t get me wrong. There are lots of ways I love my comfort zone.

Normal daily life activities that can be boring, yet are also comforting and familiar.

The consistency of daily tasks that need done.

The routine and rhythm of daily life. The things we know and understand need to be done.

All those things that make up life, when they are rolling along , keep us in that zone, right?

Let some rough times and bumps come along and we get jostled out of it. we don’t like it. We want that soothing and comfortable place back.

That level of our comfort zone is security and safety and we all need that.

But then…..

As we move through our lives we have things like jobs, education, skills, hobbies and other activities we do that challenge us and if we’re willing to learn and grow we can be pressed out of our comfort zone.

Remember, that state of physical ease I mentioned a bit ago? If we are going to grow and become more we must be willing to be pressed out of that zone of ease.

That idea was strong in my mind yesterday morning as I geared up to get on my bike. As I clicked and locked my cycling shoes into place it gave me that “all business” feeling. It’s knowing and understanding what I was about to do, slipping into my mental mindset as much as I was slipping into my cycling shoes.

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Locking down my cycling shoes, is a mental preparation as well as physical.

 

Out on the road, as the miles went by, I made intentional choices in things I did. To push a little more, to turn those pedals a little faster, to know and understand that I needed to get to the point where I started to feel it, where the work felt harder, to more effort.

You see in running or cycling or really anything physical I have my own comfort zone. These are areas I can operate in easily. I know what it takes to maintain that level and it’s not really “hard”.

On the other hand I also know that if I want to continue to grow, get faster, stronger and more powerful at what I do I have to be willing to get out of my comfort zone, that area of ease.  I  need to get into that place that makes me work harder, that makes my lungs burn and keeps my heart rate in the red zone for awhile. I need to get comfortable being uncomfortable if I want growth and improvement as an athlete.

Pushing outside our comfort zone isn’t always easy, and really, it shouldn’t be.  And the weird thing about pushing out of our comfort zone, you begin to get comfortable eventually in that new place that once seemed hard and then, well, you gotta push out of it again.

I’ve talked before about the mental aspect of our comfort zone. Your mind is a very formidable opponent and you need to be able to overcome the self defeating thoughts it can churn out. And believe me, when you are pushing yourself and your body is in a place that it’s not used to, those thoughts can come.

Your mental muscle needs to be as strong as your body, if not more so I believe. when you push out of your zone of “ease and lack of pain.”

I’ve learned so much as an athlete what it means to get out of my comfort zone. I’ve done more than I would’ve ever *intellectually* thought I could do.

Of course this applies to anything in our lives that challenges us. I’ve taught myself new things that seemed a bit out of my range.  Sometimes it’s kinda that “sink or swim” mentality in doing stuff.

I’m not sure, but maybe being a bit fearless sometimes helps too haha

Our comfort zone can cripple our dreams..

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Anytime we prefer to stay within our comfort zone, we risk not growing . We risk not learning new things or taking on new adventures. We potentially let our dreams go if we can’t or are unwillingly to get out of our level of comfort and ease and sameness that we know.

Any of my major athletic events I took on, initially scared me. Not in the sense of being frightened but more that healthy respectful fear of knowing I was going up against something I had no previous experience in. It does seem daunting when I’m considering a 50k race ( 31.7 miles) or a multi sport event as in the duathlon I did last year.

What scared me more was backing off because then I’d always wonder if I could’ve done it or if I had what it took. Or worse yet, hating myself for not having the strength to stand up and do it, for quitting before I started.

All of those things seemed worse than just jumping off the deep end and doing it.

And I did. I’ll never be the fastest or most impressive runner or cyclist or monkey juggler.

What will set me apart is that I didn’t make excuses, I was willing to get uncomfortable and in doing so, I accomplished things I never thought I’d do.

There is nothing.. that feels better… nothing.

What about you?

Are you more comfortable staying in your comfort zone? Are you comfortable staying where you feel safe?

Maybe you are a risk taker and know what it takes to reach new goals or see dreams realized and you know getting out of your comfort zone is how it happens.

No matter what goals or dreams you have, there will be continual times you are pressing out of your comfort zone, and then you’ll be pressing out of it again.

It’s an ongoing cycle if we want continued growth and want to achieve our goals and dreams.

Don’t be afraid of leaving your comfort zone behind, there’s only new adventures in front of you and those can be exciting places to go to.

Tell me, are there specific times you’ve left your comfort zone? What did you accomplish doing so? How did that change future new ideas/ adventures you encountered?

So You Want To Be A Runner

I was checking my notifications the other day and realized someone had tagged me in their friends post. This person was looking for advice on starting to run, ideally when the weather was warmer and how did they start?

Ok, first of all, running is a pretty natural thing. Our bodies are designed for it and most are capable of doing it.

Most don’t do it because well let’s be honest, it’s hard.  I was thinking on a run the other day the only way to get better or stronger at it is to constantly push myself out of my comfort zone.

I can run decently fast ( I think) for a middle aged woman tipping into her senior discount years. Speed is relevant depending on the individual and certainly not a factor to being a good runner. I just like being able to do it. I know when I get out of my comfort zone I’m capable of delivering up faster speeds…

 

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Somehow my running evolved into doing a run and cycle event with my first duathlon last Nov.

 

 

Faster speeds though are hard, require a lot more effort than an easy run, and can make me feel powerful and helpless all at once.

So that being said, anyone can run if they don’t have some health limitation ( and thinking it’s hard doesn’t count)

The next thing. I’m not an expert, ok?

I’m not some running coach or a person who’s run their entire life. ( I was in my late 40’s when I got started) I never, ever would’ve thought I’d become a runner. Ever.

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And then… all the sudden…. I’m finishing a 50K….  am I a runner now??

 

 

I do think now in terms of miles and distance. I think that a mile driving or on a treadmill is…. for….ever….but a mile on foot can go by rather quickly. I can grumble driving behind a slow person that I could run there faster… yeah….

I guess I’m a runner.

I believe anyone can go run without having to focus on all the technical stuff, unless you have big goals and want to keep improving your game.

Then we need to talk about intervals, speed training, long runs, negative splits and pacing etc….

Well how do I get started?

Listen, you don’t need a lot of fancy gear to run but you do need some solid good shoes under you.

** hubby does delight in reminding me how my low maintenance, not expensive athletic shenanigans have changed** haha the more you get into it, the more cool stuff you find to make it fun…

I spend more money on my running shoes than anything that goes on my feet. Other than my cycling shoes but thankfully those last longer since they aren’t taking a pounding.

Go to a sports store and try several on. Don’t drag out shoes you’ve had 5 years… please don’t.

And don’t buy the prettiest ones. I’m right there with you on liking those but you really need to go for what fits and supports you best and then go for your color.

Once you get set with your shoes, you can pretty much wear what you’re most comfortable in.  Again, the more time you spend doing it, the more you’ll figure out how you’re most comfortable doing it.  What you choose to run in will be determined by your budget, how much you like to be covered, and how you can stay cool/warm enough doing it.

I’ve actually learned to shop discount type stores and have found name brand sports bras and the boy shorts I prefer to run in at a fraction of the cost as the sports store sells them.

The weather, to run or not to run

 

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Enjoying a rare sunny warm run in Feb.

 

 

When I first started off with my running adventures I was what I now think of as a “fair weather” runner. If the weather was the slightest bit not good, I stayed in for another type of workout.

Funny thing over these years how that has changed. I’ve trained in everything from pouring rain, to freezing cold with wind slicing through me. Maybe I am crazy.. or ridiculously disciplined.. there could be a fine line there..

If I have an event I’m training for my take is, I have no idea what the weather will be like on race day. If I train in it all, then I’m better prepared for whatever it is.

I weirdly now like being out when the weather is a bit rough and less than perfect. But that’s me… were talking about you…

This will all come down to what you want to do, your commitment, and if it’s a matter of staying in for safety ( I won’t run in fog, lightning or icy roads there is to much risk)

If it’s cold, layer up accordingly but keep in mind running warms you up fast! I know once I hit my first mile all engines are go and I am often tossing something in the trees till I come back by to claim it. I just don’t run as well being to warm, and you probably won’t either.

You will have to determine how much layering you need to stay comfortable.

Same with hot weather, getting over heated or having soggy clothes hanging off of your body isn’t fun ( hello dri-wick fabric) how much you run in to stay cool will be determined by your personal level of modesty and what you can move best in. I spend most of my time in boy shorts and a sports bra and I’m comfortable in that.

Hitting the road

Assuming you’ve not run before, or haven’t run in a long time, I’m going to suggest you start the way I basically fell into running…

the walk/run method. It’s a great way to practice running yet allowing your body to adapt to the rigors that running places on it. It can also protect you from injury when you do to much to soon.

You start off with small increments of  walking,  and running. If you’ve never run before those running seconds might seem like eternity to you, trust me, the wheels won’t fall off, hold on.

Using a walk/ run method allows you to gradually increase your running time and ease into your mileage.

Start with this plan to get you going

So that’s about it peeps. If you want to run, it’s easy to get started. You just have to get your mind in gear to make it happen, and hey, don’t forget to go get those cool new running shoes!

Do you run? What do you enjoy most about it?  Do you want to but haven’t known how to get started?

 

The Madness And Fear Of Endurance Sports

“Every endurance challenge scares me just a little.” ~ Dean Karnazes

It’s a quiet Sunday afternoon. Everyone has left the house so I escaped to my fav coffee cave to write, reflect and think about the week in front of me. It’s hard not to think about the fact that next week on this day, at the time I’m sitting here writing, I will be in the church watching my oldest son get married.

I’m also aware 2 months from today is my first duathlon. Heck, it’s my first ever race on a bike. It’s also listed as the toughest duathlon in the state AND the championship race.

What… on earth.. am I doing in it ?

I decided a while back that there is a certain amount of madness involved with endurance sports.  Some part of the brain has to change that allows you to accept physically hard and challenging things as normal.

As in, sharing with some ladies in my yoga class last week that I hadn’t ridden far the day before, just 16 miles, to which they started laughing and informed me that 16 miles was a lot.

I really don’t think so anymore. I don’t think my 20 mile rides are long either.  This is where the madness might be setting in 😉

I will be the first to admit, sometimes it’s not just the distance, it’s also what’s IN those miles that carves out something new in me. Obviously, riding flat roads is usually a piece of cake, throwing in hills and inclines that challenge my body is always a game changer.

It’s definitely a love/hate relationship.

There’s a crazy madness in training my body, learning it’s limits, and then pushing past those limits that’s exhilarating… yeah… we’ll just go with that word for now 😉 Exhilarating.

Endurance is built on hours and hours of consistent training, constant change, and a large part of stubbornness.

When someone laughs and tells me I’m “crazy” based on my current athletic goals, I do believe they are right. There has to be some sort of madness that makes an otherwise sane person believe that riding and running miles on end is somehow… normal.

But alongside the madness is another parallel attribute which is fear.

The quote I opened with is so true and so perfect. And it comes from without a doubt, the strongest, most fit, endurance athlete on the planet.

I feel like I’m in good company if Dean Karnazes admits he gets a bit scared with a new endurance challenge. Admittedly, he does far larger, longer, crazier and insane endurance challenges than I will ever face but at the same time, if someone like that admits to a healthy fear of new endurance events, then I’m in good company.

When I use the word fear I don’t mean like, sitting in a corner shaking and helpless. If that were the case, I’d never be doing what I do. This fear, in my opinion, is one of perhaps a healthy respect of what I’m up against. A recognition that this new challenge has the potential to eat my lunch, and me too for good measure.

There is respect for the miles, the terrain, the elevation, climate, everything.

There is a healthy fear for new territory that has never been physically traveled. Each time I’ve set out to do something new athletically, there’s that “fear” of the unknown.

The “what if’s”……

What if I can’t do it? What if I don’t have what it takes? What if I’m not as good as someone else? ( does that even matter?) What if I haven’t trained enough? Long enough? Hard enough? What if I didn’t prepare in the right way? Am I going to be able to ride such a tough course and then get off and run those last few miles strong?

All of the “what if’s” are related to fear.

Even now, on my training rides, knowing how tough they will be, I usually have that in the pit of my stomach. That fearful respect of knowing how hard it really will be, and wondering again, if I have all that’s required to take on this new endurance challenge.

Somehow, things always seem to change the minute I’m out on the road.  In my gear, clipped in, the miles settling in under me, my mental gears shift along with the ones under my hands.

I focus on the mile I’m in, the road that’s in front of me. I know and have already mentally apprehended the hills and mountains I’ll be riding and remind myself that I’ve already done them before, the challenge is to keep taking them stronger and faster. The fear begins to give way to what I know I’m capable of.

Fear gives way to strength and power. Fear gives way to me understanding that although it’s not easy, it will begin to feel that way the stronger my body gets doing it over and over again.

And then it happens.

I finish a long hard session and feel victorious, empowered and strong. I also feel dirty, sweaty, and hungry.

But the overarching feeling is one of accomplishment. I did it again. The hard workout that planted a healthy fear of respect in me, reminds me I can do whatever I put myself to and that my body is capable of being pushed, and then pushed again, well out of it’s original comfort zone.

By the time some of you are reading this I’ll be out riding the entire course this morning, or will have finished it, another notch in my belt.  This will be my first full and complete ride on it. Last week I did it but the mileage came up a bit short from what the race was. A quick message to race director and I learned the turn point was farther down than I thought. So knowing the exact layout this morning, I’m taking it on.

I know it won’t be easy. I know there will be that niggling fear of the toughness in front of me. I know what the outcome will feel like, so I will press on and push myself into the realm of discomfort, because that is where change occurs.

Endurance sports. ..an odd mixture of madness and fear.  I seem to have both in spades which will help me well in my upcoming race.

The madness will keep me going, building longer training sessions and adding more miles. The fear won’t stop me. I will train, I will prepare, and I will go out and do the best I’m capable of.

And I when I cross that finish line it will be a sweet victory knowing all I stomped down to get to that moment, and it will be worth it.

Do you have something you want to pursue but feel a bit of fear with it? Do you embrace that or shy away from it?  If you do endurance sports, can you relate to a bit of the madness?

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Getting those miles in……

The Journey Of Ordinary

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Ordinary ~  noun~  what is common place or standard.

It had been one of those whirlwind days for me when I realized it was already midafternoon. My morning was behind me and I was full speed into the rest of my day. I received a message from my husband that at first seemed, odd.

“I rarely say anything about your blog other than to discuss the content of what you wrote on that day, nor do I ever really disagree with you on something you wrote. But I’m going to disagree with you on this…”

Well obviously, he had my attention. He is pretty much the only one who’s opinion I want or care about and of course I was wondering what he had issue with in regards to my writing that day.

I waited for the rest of his message to come in…..

“You wrote that you’re an “ordinary” athlete.  I disagree. You are far from “ordinary” as an athlete.”

Obviously, I wasn’t expecting that. Obviously, he couldn’t have said anything cooler to me.

Of course, he was picking it out of the entire context of my post that day. I was simply using myself as an example of someone who wasn’t like… you know… an elite athlete or even one who had been an athlete through school or something like that.

I got what he meant. I know that I do a lot more athletically than the majority of people my age, heck, even those a lot younger. I guess I’ve become so accustomed to doing what I do, I forget that normal people think it’s weird 😛

Here’s where I’m going.

I used ordinary for a reason.

I wanted ( and still want) people to relate to a woman who had no athletic back round,  and who had no interest in any kind of serious athletic events. A woman who was literally smack in the land of “middle aged” who had taken care of everyone around her but herself for the longest time. Middle aged, carrying more weight than she needed, out of shape, with a family history of (potential) health problems in the future if she didn’t change up her ways.

It’s a standard thing to tell people I really started off as a “reluctant walker”. I knew I needed to do something so I dutifully logged my 2 mile walk every day. No matter what, I did it. I did it till it got into the pattern of a new habit.

I grumbled. I complained. I whined.

An over weight, middle aged, ordinary wife, mom, sister, daughter, jack of all trades, woman just kept at it each day.

I had no lofty athletic goals dancing anywhere in my mind… at all… in any direction. If anyone told me I could be a strong athlete, I would’ve laughed. The idea seemed preposterous.

Funny thing about making new habits….

They stick.

New habits turn into new desires. New goals. New plans.

What I didn’t know as an ordinary woman, out on the road, building that new habit, not only was it changing my body, it was changing my mind.

I was learning more about myself than I previously understood.

~ my body could go farther!

~ it could walk faster!

~ that walk could be turned into short runs!

~ those short runs could be turned into longer runs!

When I’d come back tired, I’d think about what I had been able to do. I developed a new appreciation for what my body was capable of, that I hadn’t given it credit for. I saw how it over time, began to adapt and change from the activities I put it through.

My weight dropped off.  I got stronger. Muscles showed up that hadn’t been there. I developed a great endurance capacity.  My mind was getting stronger. ( that, is where the real playing field is boys and girls)  you get your mind strong, you can own the world.

Somehow, I managed to sign up for my first race which was a half marathon ( #overachiever) I found out later that most people start with a 5K.

I just kept moving forward. It’s safe to say at this point I was getting hooked. I actually liked what I was doing.  I looked forward to exercise.

Year, after steady year. New goals, new plans, new dreams.

They didn’t come all together, those goals.

Heavens no.

Safe to say I would’ve felt enough fear? uncertainty? to cause me to run the other way if those things all were presented to me at once.

I was just, you know, an ordinary woman, turning into an athlete.  That’s not said with any vain thought…. it’s just an acknowledgment of where I am now.

I am strong. I am capable of doing more physically than I ever would’ve imagined. I am an athlete.

If I look at where I am today, and where I’ve come from, and what I can do now, then yeah, I guess I’d agree with hubby that I’m not “ordinary”.

Becoming a good athlete has been born from hours and hours of work, sacrifice, dedication, tears, tired muscles, frustrations, down right stubbornness, and an unwillingness to give up.

This is your reminder…..

This is what I want you, others, anyone I interact with, to remember. If an “ordinary” woman like myself can accomplish goals and events she never would have imagined, you my dear reader, can do anything you set your mind to.

If you’ve entertained ideas on doing something specific, write down the steps you need to move that direction. If you just think you’re only goal at this point is to get off the sofa, well, go you! Do it. You never know where the path from the sofa may lead to.

Don’t let your thinking be crowded with thoughts that only certain people can do certain things.

Extraordinary things can happen when “ordinary” people get to work.

Tell me something cool you’ve accomplished that seemed impossible or that you never thought you’d see yourself doing. Did you ever feel to “ordinary” in the sense you thought you didn’t have what it would take to do it ?