Monday Musings

Hello boys and girls. Monday again. Time to let the random collections outta my head from this past week. I appreciate your encouragement and appreciation of these posts. They are fun for me in the sense I can just literally write on anything and everything. It gives you a little insight into other areas of my life that aren’t “just” health and fitness.

But health and fitness is really important to me

it’s pretty much why I started this blog. I found in my sharing on social media people were uh… hungry… for encouragement and sane, sensible ways to live a healthy lifestyle.  I love sharing my personal athletic shenanigans and  love sharing simple tips that can help and work to get fit and healthy. I also like being able to direct people in ways to get exercise into their lives.

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A morning ride, the road behind me and more miles in front of me

But I was thinking as I often do when I was out on the road the other morning. I was thinking about how grateful I was to be doing what I was doing. You see I never take it for granted or believe that I’m entitled to do it.

It’s a privilege to exercise and use my body.

It kinda makes me sad when people make jokes about not exercising or being lazy or choosing not to do it.  I guess I want them to “get it”. That once they push past a point where they have to make themselves get out, or have to set their alarm earlier (or whatever they need to do) that they will actually begin to look forward to it.

Crave it even.

It becomes a key part of the day. Not only that, it begins to build energy in me and clears and centers me for my day.

I mean really you only have one body. Shouldn’t you do things to take care of it? To keep it strong and healthy?

Exercise has multiple health benefits and yet, is the most unused activity to help our bodies not only physically, but mentally too.

If you don’t do anything yet, at least make a commitment to yourself to begin walking. Everyone can do it, it’s easy, and you don’t have to go anywhere except out your front door.

After exercise, we eat

Ok ideally food is good after a workout. I am sometimes bad about coming in and jumping to my to do list and not getting food ( bad girl I know)

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Most mornings my breakfast starts like this… a healthy dose of spinach

I try and make a breakfast that is really heavy in veggies with a side of fruit to start my day and nourish my body post workout.  Spinach always makes an appearance. If you missed my post on spinach and why you should eat it, find it here……https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/01/19/spinach-benefits-and-great-hair/

Starting your day with a good breakfast helps give you energy, keeps your blood sugar levels steady and keeps you from over eating later in the day.

Oh, and it keeps you from being grumpy with people ’cause you are starving 😉

Breakfast is often the most skipped meal because people (mistakenly) think it will help them lose weight by doing so. Yet really it can have the opposite effect. Eating a good breakfast helps fire up your metabolism and will keep you from grabbing a donut in the break room later.

Speaking of sweets….

you may have read my most recent post on adoption and celebrating our daughters 20th birthday. If you missed it, you can read it here….https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/04/26/the-beauty-of-adoption/

Anyway, we kinda had celebrations through out the week for her with Saturday culminating with one of my delicious 3 layer homemade cakes.

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I have mad cake baking skills

The frosting is so decadent, an entire package of cream cheese and lots of real, creamy butter.

Are you drooling yet ?

Because I’m nice, I’ll give you the recipe here. I have tons of tried and true cake recipes at home. However the day I was out running around and going to store I didn’t have a recipe so I reverted over to my go to place now days, Pinterest.

Ah… it didn’t fail me. I found this great cake which was proclaimed by the fam as “the best one ever” ( they kinda say that about every cake which is nice 😉 )

 

So here you go… the recipe if you wanna whip up something oh so good and earn some points with those you love 😉

In my other obsessions… uh…hobbies..

I’ve been sharing with you some of my adventures in flipping vintage and antique furniture.  I’ve finished two pieces this week and I’ve got a couple getting close.  I find a crazy satisfaction in doing this. The more horrible the piece, the happier I am. Because it means a cool transformation.

Check out this little Drexel side table. Like most of the things I scoop up, it had been someone’s ” better idea” project. They had applied some kind of goop to lift the varnish leaving it thick and bubbly. I took a strong arm and hand to it( having a strong upper body really pays off when you’ve got to hand sand forever!)  knocking all of that crusty finish off to do my own magic….

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This Is what I started with…

 

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And here it is looking fresh in cream and black with a little light distressing.

My other project I finished off I will admit I’m a tad bit obsessed with. I caught the vision for it quick and it was so exciting watching it seamlessly come together. I shared last week some color ideas I had picked up but didn’t tell you how I was using them…

 

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A vintage telephone bench

 

 

 

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I kinda used the colors like this….
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Eek… tell me how cute it is!

This is one of those pieces I love but it’s meant for someone else. It’s fun transforming bland, tired furniture into something fresh and a bit more modern.

I’m excited over how that 1930’s tea/beverage trolley is turning out. I got that a couple weeks ago for a total steal.  You can see it’s first day home pic here from last weeks post….. https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/04/23/monday-musings-10/

I have so many ideas bouncing in my head with projects. Add to it writing and other creative things…. my head is full of constant busyness…

Tell me I’m not the only one, right??

Ok your turn! Tell me about your week. Do you have any interesting or fun hobbies? More important , do you like chocolate cake? If so, do you need milk or coffee with it? 

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Spring And The Great Outdoors

Hello to my 1.5 readers out there. Yes, I’m still over here kicking it.  Thought I should get something out so you don’t start reading the current tabloids or something else as  um…. entertaining.

Ok honestly, I had my little 18 month granddaughter while her mommy and daddy were out of town for three days.

Let me tell you this… I don’t do anything that requires  more focus than a nano second of a gnat when I’ve got her.  This means writing or anything else that requires a level of skill.

Mainly ’cause I’m making sure she isn’t dive bombing off a chair, eating colors, or trying to ride the English Mastiff, just to name a few things.

She is bright and oh so smart, endearingly cute, can do her baby talk like crazy ( once she puts the words together her parents will never have a quiet moment) and is quick to mimic anything you show her. She is very social ( that doesn’t fall far from the family tree with her daddy and her nanny 😉 and loves being outside, which worked well for me ’cause I do too.  We spent plenty of time outside enjoying the sunshine, wind and absolutely perfect temperatures.

It’s pretty hard for me to stay in when conditions are like that. It’s why I’m already tanned too haha

But yeah, writing, it’s hard to sit and get at that. And by the time she’s down for night I just want to chill.

All I can say is I’m glad I have the energy to keep up with her! Not just that but also cart her and her baby stuff to and from the car. Ah the good ‘ol days! That’s really how muscles are built haha

Seriously though, this morning… this is what I was back to doing….

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Happy sunny spring miles

Of course, last week before my baby duties, this is what I was up to…

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According to my watch I was moving….

I glanced down at my watch and of course I’m thinking… why can’t I do this speed up hills?? haha

Seriously, though it’s April. I’ve gotta start getting ready to get back into serious training for the duathlon in November. Nothing like a little dual sports to keep me on my toes 😉

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this is what multi sport training days look like 😛

 

So besides athletic shenanigans, it was also a productive weekend for some new furniture findings. I usually write about these in my Monday Musings posts but due to situations mentioned above, Monday Musings will resume next week

However, you can find one or two of them here if you wanna check it out….

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/04/09/monday-musings-9/

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/04/02/monday-musings-8/

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/03/26/monday-musings-7/

 

But I will share what I found cause I think I got some cool goodies.

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How about an old school telephone bench?

 

 

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this cute little vanity…
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So clean inside the drawers, a nice treat to find.
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Of course, the original hardware is always my favorite part.

So that’s a sneak peak at some of my recent treasures. I got another side table but I’m to lazy to look for pic and load it up here haha

And yes, I know, I keep saying I’m doing an entire post on my adventures and I promise to work on it soon.

The ** not featured** table, I met the lady in a parking lot to make the purchase. I don’t make drug deals… I’m dealing furniture…

Anyway she says “Oh, do you do furniture restoration?”

Me… “oh,  I dabble in it a little” haha not confessing I’ve turned into a little one woman show flipping stuff.

Hubby, when I told him that says… “dabble? a little?”

Maybe a bit more than a little 😉

So spring is in the air…..

It’s hard to keep me inside when the weather is so perfect. I just want to be out in it and of course it is perfect to work on my projects outdoors.

But along with that comes the idea many people get of wanting to start moving more and getting some exercise.

I often get asked what is the best exercise to do.

I will say that anyone, no matter what your fitness level, can walk. If you’re wanting to get out and enjoy the spring weather walking is a wonderful way to clear your mind, get some cardio work ( you gotta move it though!) It requires no special equipment ( some decent shoes help) and you can pace yourself at a level you can handle at your own physical abilities. You can pick up the speed as you get stronger and you can increase distance gradually to let your body adapt.

I’ve shared before, walking is where my athletic beginnings have root. You never know where those evening walks may lead you 😉

Spring days… who feels like cooking

One thing about longer days and more opportunities to be outdoors means I sometimes don’t want to be in the kitchen. This is where I fall back on using my trusty crock pot or utilizing some of my tasty, yet healthy, one pan dishes. You can find all my one pan recipes on my Pinterest page, Sassyfitnesschick, under one pan dinnersI’ll share one with you I made last night.

So tasty and so easy!

 

this tasty Mexican inspired meal was also a success. This is easy to make ahead and pop in oven closer to meal time.

So that’s a wrap. It’s been a busy week for me and the rest of it promises the same.

Tell me do you have an tried and true simple recipes that are healthy, quick and get you out of the kitchen ? What are some of your favorite spring time activities?

The Rewards Of Rest Days

One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn as an athlete is the importance of rest and recovery times.

You’d think it should be easy, right? It should be easy to just take a day off and not train. It should be easy to come off of months of heavy training for an event and greatly reduce my training volume and just enjoy some easier workouts.

There’s a couple factors that can come into play here, well, at least for me. Once I’m disciplined to something it’s very hard for me to not do it. I can be rather driven with whatever I’m focused on.  Mentally as well, it’s hard to not do it although I intellectually grasp the importance of focused rest. My body and mind thrive on it, that structured often intense training.

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When I work this hard, rest days are essential.

 

My mind and body need the work but they also need the rest.

I’ve also learned active rest doesn’t involve laying on the sofa eating crappy food and being lazy.

Well what is involved with recovery?

Recovery times are designed to let our muscles heal and recover from all we put them through in training. It allows the body to repair and strengthen itself between workouts.

In a crazy way, when we exert stress on our muscles, it damages the muscles fibers causing them to break apart.  During recovery these fibers heal stronger than before, which in turn makes your muscles stronger.

When we rest and eat good foods, our body heals, recovers and builds new tissue.

Active rest for athletes can mean anything from a brisk walk ( what I’ve used when I recover from running a marathon for a couple weeks after) to short easy runs, cycling or anything that doesn’t stress the body.

For me in the past year, yoga has been a good form of not just active recovery but  it’s also a wonderful, different form of strength training. Not only that, it also stretches and works those areas that tend to get tight from my running, cycling and strength training.

I’ve come to embrace so many of the moves that although sometimes at the start are a bit stretching, lead to feeling so good. It gives me some looseness and I feel better with it.

And although it helps with recovery, I think it’s also a wonderful strength tool as well.

I did a couple articles on my yoga shenanigans, find them here….

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/08/29/yoga-again/

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2016/04/15/athlete-meets-yoga/

Stretching, bending, flexing and whatnot

Ok I’ll admit. For years I was awful, totally awful, about taking time to do some dynamic warm ups before running or anything else athletic.

I just wanted to get at it.

I was a wee bit better when I finished, but after always feels so good and my body has earned it after working hard.

Since then I’ve learned more importance in taking that time to do activities to  help keep me loosened up and prepared for what I love to do.

…..although… I can still be bad about short changing myself on it….. you have permission to give me a hard time if I don’t.

Tools of the trade

There are other things I’ve been schooled on my road to being a ordinary, middle aged female athlete.

It took me a few years to get through this  “school” but now I know how important some things are.

For instance a foam roller. I would’ve never believed how amazing a cylinder of hard foam could feel on my body.

Foam rollers if you don’t know, are a method of self massage that lets you really key in on areas that are tight and achy. They also can help promote blood flow to recovering areas and break up knots and tension in muscles.

Then I went to Airosti for some treatments a couple years ago and the therapist told me I should be using a pvc pipe to roll on ’cause my muscles would adjust to foam.

I laughed. I told her she was crazy.

A hard pipe??? to roll my body on?

Ah well, laughing isn’t what I do with it now days as it’s my favorite device of torture… I mean… recovery haha

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She was right. The pipe presses into muscles in a different way and doesn’t give as foam will. I use it on my back and roll up to my shoulders.

My quads seriously have a love/hate relationship with it. It kills my calves in a good way.

The pipe wasn’t the only thing I was schooled on.

A lacrosse ball became really good friends with me too. It’s perfect for working into arches of my feet into those muscles and tendons that need released. It also becomes a device of torture when you lay on the floor and position it in a tight muscle in your shoulder and press into it.

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A solid ball of torture

 

Sweet mother of heaven. It puts me somewhere near death and blissful relief, I’m not sure which.

Another acquisition I got for Christmas is a roller with knobs all over it.

Are you seeing a weird pattern here? Devices that hurt, yet weirdly help haha

it looks something like this…..

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and it’s perfect to get areas that are knotted or tight.

All of these are wonderful tools for recovery to help tight muscles, to increase blood flow, and promote healing.

And of course, let’s not forget ice and heat which not only help recovery, but gosh, they can feel so good too.

Of course other factors like staying well hydrated and eating good whole foods also contribute to a good rest/recovery day or days.

Learning to embrace days of rest and recovery goes with the athletic process, I’ve learned. slowly but surely. You too should learn to embrace those days as times of healing and restoration for not only your body, but your mind too.

Tell me, if you train or workout, do you allow or take rest and recovery days? Is that hard to do? What are some methods you use for recovery?

Goals And Challenges

Goals. Dreams. New adventures. New challenges.

2017 culminated for me with all of those things coming together at once as I finished the year with my first multi sport event, a duathlon. If you don’t know that is a run/bike/run event. Find my recap on it here…..  https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/12/05/duathlon-journey-the-recap/

It was certainly something I never saw myself doing a couple years ago, much less placing first in my age group, that’s for sure. I’ve found in the pursuit of these  sports I love, I’ve had to lay a foundation and then just start building on it.

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Yeah I’m smiling a little. All that hard work paid off.

 

Running takes some serious base miles before you start extending distance.  Even in distance running, there are days where I do interval runs to push myself faster. Short runs. Long runs. Speed. Or just easy miles.

Cycling in similar ways takes some base building although I found it fairly easy to transition to cycling. I guess all that running built some powerful legs that work on the bike too 😛

Of course, I can’t forget the strength training. Lifting weights, core work, and simple body moves all contribute to building a body for activities I love.

 

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Who says muscles and cycling don’t go together

 

Starting into this year, without a scheduled event at this point, I still practice a variety of activities during the week, just not as intense right now. Well.. mostly… haha

One of my training sessions is always a bit tough and it should be because it’s all about building strength.

What you may be wondering, do I speak of ?

Hills.

If you want to build your legs and butt, do hills. If you want to turn your cardiovascular system into an efficient machine, do hills.

And when I say do them, I mean frequently. Start walking them, eventually you can run a part, and then finally, you will scale up them like nothing.

Hills singlehandedly make me feel like a beast, whether I’m on foot or bike.

That being said, 5 miles on foot this morning, with plenty of hill repeats. As I turned around and headed back, I saw the hill in front of me, the one in this photo.

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it’s way more fun running down this 😉

 

 

As I approached it I started thinking about what it felt like on the bike. I felt the familiar… I’m not sure what is the best word here… fear? it’s more like a healthy respect of something that is bigger than me. No matter how many times I do it, when I see it in the distance, I feel that anticipation and adrenaline rush.

Immediately the thought came to mind… “what are you afraid of?” I already knew the answer before it came.

“Failing”. My inner dialogue continued.. “and have you ever failed? Have you ever failed to do what’s in front of you?”

The answer was “No”. Not even in my beginning cycling days when I’d be in the wrong gear and have to muscle it up did I ever NOT ride all the way up.

I was reminded (again)  that if I dont do something that puts a healthy fear in me, it’s not a challenge, I might as well go home.

I just can’t do that.

It just feels so powerful when I accomplish something that challenged not just my body, but my mind. I’ve found tremendous growth occurs when I let that “healthy, fearful respect” of something challenge me. And when I’m challenged in that way, I’m changed.

It helps me see and understand I don’t have to be limited in what I do. The important part is being available and going after it.

I was having a tire fixed on my bike today. I thought it was “just” a flat. It turns out it was the tube and tire… gone… shot.

When I do it, I do it up right haha

Anyway, the guy who owns the place and sold me my little Cannondale has encouraged my cycling endeavors and made sure the bike was in top condition before my duathlon. He asks me today… ” soooo is a triathlon in your future?”

Why yes, yes I did laugh.

He looks at me… “you don’t swim?”

My response, “Oh I can ok enough, but I’m certainly not a competitive swimmer.”

He gives me that level look and says, “of course you know you can do it. Just get out there”

Here’s a little not known secret about me… I just don’t like having my face in the water. It really just weirds me out. And I will seriously need to move past that if I’m to consider a tri in some distant future.

Am I capable? I know I am. I never saw myself as a long distance runner or now a duathlete, yet here I am.

I guess you could say there’s a bit of healthy fear when I look a triathlon fully in the face. I’ve felt it each time I’ve considered a bigger athletic goal.

I either look it in the eye, stomp down those feelings and tackle it… or… I turn and run and never know what I’m fully capable of achieving.

What about you? Can you relate to any of this? Have you felt a healthy fear of pursuing something that seemed way bigger than you thought possible?

If something scares you… maybe you just need to go ahead and do it. You’ll never know how it will grow you until you let it stretch you outta your comfort zone.

It’s outside of our comfort zone we discover what we’re really made of.

 

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Your Body. Rest Or Rust.

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I’ve seen this quote before and it always resonates with me. Of course it refers to working hard and the value of perseverance but I see it in a different way too.

Do you ever think of your body and how you use it ( or don’t use it) in terms of “getting rusty”?  If you’re like me when you hear the word “rust” you get images of weathered worn pipes or an old car that’s been left to sit for years, the paint long faded and gone and the metal rusting through.

For anything to not become rusty requires some work and care to keep it in good condition and working order. Without proper care (that item) will not function in the way it was intended to function.

Now let’s apply that concept to our bodies.

Without proper work and care they can become less functional as we age. They can get achy. We can lose muscle mass and strength. We lose the ability to bend well and move in ways that are free. We get out of breath doing easy tasks or walking short distances. Walking a flight of stairs can make us winded and the idea of bending to touch our toes or place our hands flat on the floor could make us laugh.

Our bodies are designed for daily, vigorous movement. To bend, stretch, lift, walk, run, jump and play.

Personally, I’m soooo ready for hard work again!

Doing the duathlon at the end of November and coming off a year of hard work and training I let myself do some easier work in the weeks after. Mentally it can be hard for me to “rest” but intellectually I know it’s good for my body to have a little down time too.

But then… it was December and life just happened in ways that slowed me down. Then hubby was off  2 weeks for vacation and as awesome as that was hanging out, doing stuff together, sleeping in some,  going out for breakfast and some days just being a little lazy, it shot my “normal” schedule. I loved every moment of having some relaxing weeks with him and having a mental break from my usual routine is good… but….I have been reminded of this more than ever…

I feel way more energetic and my muscles feel less tight when I’m working out, than when I’m not.  My body has now been trained for that work and needs it as much as it needs food.

I don’t see this as a “bad” thing, but it does show me it’s a most necessary thing. Purposeful, daily movement is essential for our well being.

It’s essential for MY well being.

With that being said… I’m more than ready to get back at it.

What about you? Have you had some time off or done less in the past few weeks? Perhaps you’re inspired by the start of a new year. Maybe exercise has only crossed through your mind but you have the thought you’d like to get started doing…something…

Depending on where you are and what you do or have done will determine the level of what you get out and do.

For me, as you’re reading this and maybe drinking your morning coffee, I’ll be out getting some miles under me on the bike. I will most likely do yoga on Tues and some strength training a couple times this week as well.  I won’t push myself hard but will ease back into it letting my muscles get used to the activity again. I know my body will quickly adjust to the routine and I will be pushing myself harder next week.

But what if you’ve not done anything since you were like… 12… on the school play ground playing tag with your friends? What if you haven’t done anything physical in so long you wonder if you can but you are willing to get out there and give it a try?

Good for you! There’s no better time to get moving and long before you might see results outwardly, mentally, you will always feel great doing something positive for yourself.

Ok.. I’m motivated. Give me some tips.

I always tell people I talk to, find something that you can be excited about doing or want to go do. It will ensure you are proactive about doing it each day.

If you are unsure, start with walking! All doctors will support walking as a healthy way to help with weight loss and to get fit. You can walk at your own speed and increase as you get stronger. All you really need are some good shoes and you’re set to go.

Start small. Don’t try and walk 5 miles your first day or anything like that. It might just be a couple laps around the block and maybe it’s what you do for a week or two until you are comfortable to increase distance.

Don’t like to do it alone? recruit a friend or family member to workout with you.

Write it down! Scheduling a time in your day should be just as important as anything else you do.

In the beginning  you might need to start with every other day to help you get going and to protect from doing to much to soon.

If you have health issues or concerns, always consult with your doctor first.

Imagine yourself getting stronger at the activity you choose. The massive hills I ride don’t necessarily get easier,more like I get stronger for the task of doing them. Think of being able to walk faster, for longer periods of time, or maybe even eventually running.

Look locally for free or trial classes to experiment with a new activity before you make a commitment to it.  Local gyms will often offer free trial classes before you commit.

Be willing to grow and learn new things and to challenge yourself in new ways.

Finally, celebrate as you get stronger and have more energy for living your life. Embrace the changes of your hard work and most of all, have fun with it!

 

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On the road… my happy place….running, walking or cycling… this is my gym.

 

 

Do you have a favorite activity you enjoy doing ? Is there something you’ve learned to do that you previously didn’t know how to do?

Duathlon Journey: The Recap

It’s now 2 weeks out since I did my first multi sport race, the duathlon,  that I’ve been blabbing up for months to you.  I finally got my little paws on some of the pics they took while on course so I could use them when I wrote this.

You didn’t expect me to just use random stock photos off Google, did you ? 😛

Where do I start?

As I knew it would be, I felt the let down once it was over. The months of training, the days in front of me with my goal at the end, now finished.

Something to celebrate, right? A new adventure conquered, new challenges overcome, another athletic event that I never dreamed I’d do accomplished.

I guess I should mention I’ve had this race on my list for several years now. Due to an injury I was getting over at one point and other things that came up I had been unable to really pursue it.

All I wanted to do was get to a point where I could at least run the distance for the duathlon even if it meant my distance running might still be on hold for awhile.

As I slowly crept back into running, I was getting stronger and more powerful on the bike. I learned I was fairly good at it and could eat up a lot of miles in a quick time.

I knew this would be the year so when registration opened in June, I paid up and made the commitment.

My first duathlon was etched on my calendar.

As you know from previous posts, I was committed to my training, even training in weather that was less than ideal because on race day you never know what you will get. I gave up being a fair weather athlete a long time ago. I know if I’m going to build not just my body, but mind, I need to know how to handle more adverse conditions.

Of course there was more than just me involved in the event…let’s not forget… the bike.

I can’t neglect saying how grateful I am for a wonderful bike shop and the guys who keep my little Cannondale in top shape. 2 weeks out from race I picked it up looking almost all kinds of new again. Poor thing, I’d put some serious miles on it. Not only did they get new tires on it, and clean the chain ( ohhhh it IS silver haha) they checked my brakes, tweaked and adjusted some other things, and made sure my fit was perfect on it. I love being in a place “talking shop” with others who do what I do, and who challenge me to press on to bigger things.

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My bike rarely gets to ride shotgun 😉

 

With the bike in good working order, it was taper time whether I wanted it or not, a winding down to race day. I kept riding and short runs but the ultimate goal was to arrive at the start line healthy and energetic for the task in front of me.

Race Day

There are two things I think athletes worry about before a big event they’ve been training for.

Getting sick and the weather.

Thankfully, I was strong and healthy and the weather although a brisk low 40’s in the morning, was clear, bright and the sun soon showed up for the festivities.

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Waiting in the crisp, cold, beautiful morning with a ton of hyper energy pre-race

There’s something about being at a race with other athletes and this energy that’s almost palpable that makes my heart beat fast.

Although I’ve done many running races before this was my first multi sport event and my first biking event. I checked into the transition area, got marked ( I was sooo excited to finally do something where I got marked… but unfortunately it was under my shirt ha oh well) I got my gear set up and did some light jogging around parking lot to loosen up and set my mind for what was coming.

This event was the state Championship Duathlon and was hosted by a local college. Many college tri teams from across the state were there to race. I was surrounded by athletes the ages of my kids or younger 😛

This race is also listed as “the toughest in the state”.

They tell no lies about that… tough is an understatement.

I understood what was in front of me having trained on it, but I had a healthy fear and respect for it every time I stepped out there. To under estimate it would certainly sink me.

My plan for the race? Simple and straight forward.

To run and bike just like I’d trained and not get caught up in the hype and energy of the crowd but stay in my head and run my own race. I knew the first half mile- mile out was a brutal start as it’s all up a long and winding hill. I knew how I’d paced myself in practice and my goal was to stay there.

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Heading into the hills for the first run.. it was bit to chilly to toss clothes yet!

 

I settled into my first mile which was a little faster than I had been running it but that was ok. Then my Garmin came up at mile 2 telling me I’d just done it in 9:29 I was pretty happy with that. Overall, when I finished my 5k it was over a minute faster than the week before when I’d practiced and my fastest 5k in a long time.

Amazing what a competitive spirit will do haha

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Wrapping the 5k heading to the transition area.

 

Ok so this was all new to me, the whole multi sport, transitioning thing. It’s one thing to practice transition when you are alone ( I had it down to 30 seconds) it’s a whole new game when you’re surrounded by a zillion other bikes and athletes gear and come running in to change and find nothing is like you left it.

Yikes!

My first transition time was longer than I wanted mainly because I knew I had to lose the jacket and peel down to my cycling shorts. I perform way better a little chilled than warm and knew the bike was gonna demand a lot from me so I took a little extra time to do that.

Once on the bike, I knew I would close a gap because I’m strong on the hills. It should be noted we biked right back out where we had run, running up and down hills, then getting on the bike to ride them, ha hello quads.

One by one I methodically picked off cyclists in front of me, a game almost. I churned along knowing some of the toughest stuff was still coming, but also reminding myself I was more than capable and had done it before.

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AND a smile for the photographer.  Still smiling after cresting the monster hill that’s behind me

I had to really focus on what I was doing approaching the huge hill as I noted a half dozen cyclists pushing bikes up.

This seriously can mess with my head. I narrowed my vision and did what I had practiced when I rode it… I recited a nursery rhyme in my head…

“One, two buckle my shoe, three, four shut the door….”

Don’t ask.

It just popped in one day as I was grinding up and it became a game, how many times till I reached the top?  ( 2 “ish” times if you’re wondering haha)

But powered up it I did.

On the return trip I pushed hard knowing the last run leg was in front of me… so close to finishing.

The last run.

From practice I already knew how that felt. It’s hard. It’s not just the physical, it’s mental too. I have learned so much about dialing into my head and trying not to be distracted at what’s around me. As I made a turn where the aid station was the young people manning it were doing the usual “you’re doing awesome, almost done!” mantra. I quipped I had paid money to do this when I hear behind me… “yeah, but you’ve been kicking my butt the whole time!” I looked over my shoulder at this young college girl behind me, one I had sailed by on my bike, it was the motivation I needed to finish off that last half mile.

The Finish Line

When I saw the finish line I can’t describe the feelings and emotions that came over me. I saw my time and was pretty happy with that too.

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The home stretch, still smiling.. And yeah, I had lost more clothes 😛

 

I heard the announcer call my number and name as I ran across the finish  line and as the guy behind lines guided me where to go I felt it coming on… tears forming in my eyes… I took a deep breath willing myself not to sob out loud.

I did it. My first duathlon. I did it!  I was simply overcome with emotion.

He saw my face and bless his heart was immediately concerned. “are you ok? do you need anything?”

I assured him I was physically fine but just overwhelmed…. my emotions came out after all the months of training to finally be there in that moment… I just couldn’t hold them back.

As I left the finish area I found hubby and again, just sobbed on him. He too was immediately concerned, but he’s more used to my emotions at times like that than poor unsuspecting guy at finish line. And can I just say how much I appreciate all of his awesome support for what I do? An amazing guy he cheers and supports and encourages my madness. I couldn’t do what I do without him or his support.

Of course I went to the tent to use the laptop to pull up my bib number and get my stats. My time was pretty much what I’d seen when I hit the finish line, however it was another number that caught my attention and I choked out to hubby…

“Am I reading this right?? Does it mean what I think it means??”

I hadn’t really breathed out loud to anyone that it would be kinda awesome to place in my age group.. but this number told me I placed first in my age group.

More tears. Sweet heavens. I’m such a baby.

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Does my smile say it all? Nothing felt better that day.

 

Honestly… I can’t describe how it all felt.  To have accomplished something so big, to have challenged myself beyond what I thought I could do, was overwhelming and rewarding all at once.

The aftermath

I know the let down that comes from preparation of big events. It’s weird to not have this specific “thing” I’m training for. I also  get used to my body physically changing as it peaks into top condition ( a place I loath giving up) but I also know I can’t keep myself at this level all the time.  I loved marking off my training calendar each day as I knocked out what needed to be done and seeing those days move me closer to my goal.

It’s hard to come off the physical and mental high that events like this bring.

So the solution is??

Ha… plan my next adventure! 2018 is coming and I’m already planning the duathlon again as my fall event. I want a shot at getting a new PR.

I have a spring half marathon in mind as well as my first long ride, a 60 mile, ’cause why start small?

I haven’t ruled out someday …maybe… a triathlon… it seems HUGE to me right now but I’m also reminded what I just did would’ve seemed huge to me a few years ago but I did it.

If you’ve stayed with me to this point can I remind you that as the saying goes, you’re never to old set new goals or dream new dreams.

Set some new goals for yourself in 2018.

Or have you already? What plans do you have for yourself in the upcoming year? Tell me.

Reflections From The Road

It’s a quiet afternoon in my fav coffee cave which is a bit unusual given the time of day but I’m not gonna complain about that. Sometimes, I wonder where all the people have come from and why they are taking up my space haha

It’s also another day in this long week that is nothing but grey skies and feels perpetually like morning…. all… day… long.

Sometimes it makes it hard to feel like doing anything more than grabbing a blanket, a good book and chilling somewhere.

Instead, I’m going to write and let my thoughts out if you’ll humor me. Writing is often cathartic for me and let’s me examine things more closely through words.

As in… thinking about my first multi sport race this upcoming Sunday. My first duathlon.

Did I mention it’s listed as the toughest in the state? Yeah I don’t start with easy things.

I’ve certainly spent a significant amount of time on the road preparing for it. So much time to think and reflect, to ponder this journey that I’ve taken myself on.

I view myself as somehow a most unlikely candidate to turn into a duathlete.

This journey has been over 2 years in the making. It’s been out there in front of me, sometimes taunting and sometimes a bit illusive as I’ve had to bide my time waiting for the right moment.

You see when I first got the crazy idea I was fully in the mix of an ugly Achilles injury that had me doing no running at all. It’s during this time that cycling came into the picture a bit more. I had thought the following year I’d be up to it but just had things working against me that kept me from fully pursuing it. I remember seeing the cyclist out that year during the race and feeling a bittersweet longing to be able to do what they were doing.

My goal, my wish, began to be “just let me get healthy enough to run the distance required for the duathlon”. which at the time was bookend 5k’s.

All I had to do was run 6.20 miles … in two parts.  Was that asking to much ?

I diligently rehabbed myself. Spent a lot of time strength training, learning to row to stay strong with my cardio ( for the record rowing to me has many similar feelings to running), and doing cycling. As I got better I took it back to the road for some strong walking. It just felt good to be out there going through the motions even if I couldn’t all out run yet.

Time moved on, I improved and was able to pick up some running again, albeit, cautiously .

This time… the duathlon seemed more feasible. I continued with slow. easy, short “runs”. I stretched, foam rolled, iced and did whatever I could to keep getting better.

When I saw the promotions start coming up for it this past May I knew it would be something I’d take on in this year.

In June I made the commitment and registered. And I say commitment ’cause when you cough up money to pay for an event, you’ve just invested yourself fully to it.

With that, my “official” training began.

I think back to those first brick sessions I did. ( fyi a brick session refers to back to back activities. For me it was a bike and run session. Eventually it turned into a run/bike/run sessions)

I did only 8-10 miles on the bike and then a 2 mile run. I remember getting off bike, changing shoes, and then taking off on legs that felt like loose spaghetti noodles.

It’s hard work changing gears from one activity to another!

I wondered how long it would take or if I would adapt to getting my body from cycling mode to running.

Months later, it’s definitely still work especially after running and cycling, then running again but I’ve found I’m stronger and have managed some decent mile times… you know… for an old lady 😛

And here I am. Months later with the race staring me down the face.

I’m as ready as I can be. I’ve worked hard and prepared to the best of my abilities. I’ve trained in horrible weather and good weather. Right now the forecast is for a chilly but sunny day and I couldn’t be more thrilled with that!

I’ve practiced riding those crazy hills. I remember the first time I took on one that I thought would eat my lunch, which then fed into a second hill immediately after.

 

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So this is the first one…. it doesn’t look so scary in this pic 😛

I cried when I topped the second one. I know. I’m such a girl.

Doing hard physical things and accomplishing them brings out strong emotions in me. Maybe it’s a relief that I could do it. Maybe it’s overcoming something I thought might be insurmountable.  Or once again realizing I’m stronger than I gave myself credit for.

Spend some time on the road making your body work hard, you begin to see what you’re made of. You begin to see how your mind and body can work together or against each other.

I’ve learned I can push a bit longer and farther. I can dial in and focus on that moment in front of me and set aside anything else so I can keep pressing on to my goal.  I’ve learned how to listen to my breathing, to keep it even and steady even when I’m working hard. I listen to my body but try not to let it convince me it wants to quit or back off because it’s getting uncomfortable. ( not injured or hurt, but out of my comfort zone, there’s a difference )

If there’s one thing endurance sports has taught me it’s about discipline, determination, perseverance, and sacrifice.

I’ve learned to deal with hot, warm, humid weather.

 

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Nothing like a good sweat to cleanse the soul haha

 

As well as those  mornings I’ve geared up and headed out into a cold, wet, rainy, or foggy misty morning to train.

Yeah. All I really wanted to do was stay in warm and dry. Yes I considered I might be crazy but there was a deeper thing in me that wouldn’t let me give in or back off from what I had committed to undertake.

If race day dialed up a cold, wet, foggy morning I better be able to handle myself in those conditions.

Of course months of training has leaned me out more, almost a side effect of all my training. I know it’s working when hubby tells me I feel to thin haha

I’ve peaked in my training and with that comes a physique that reflects my work, endurance to do my running and cycling, and improved times doing them.

There is a bittersweet aspect to this as well. I know there will be the inevitable “let down” when it is finished. The thing I’ve focused on will be done, my goal accomplished. It will be time to thing of new goals.  I know these feelings go along with the excitement and thrill of doing it.

Now.. it’s almost show time.

With days out I’ll focus on stretching, rolling, eating well, getting rest and of course making sure my gear is ready and I have the coolest clothes to wear 😉

Looking good helps your performance, right ?

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Sporting the new cold weather cycling jacket I got for the event.

 

One thing I always remind myself of before races… the world doesn’t stop spinning based on my performance. It somehow takes some of the hyper energy off me.

Oh. I didn’t mention that did I? All the hyper energy and edginess counting down to it.. the “taper week”. That energy continues to build till I’m standing on the start line.

As much as I want to do the very best I’m capable of, the fact remains, when I cross that finish line, I’m a winner.

I win because I set out goals and dreams for myself and I worked hard and pursued them and I won’t go through life wondering “if” I could do it.

And nothing will feel better than that.