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 ūüėČ

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 ūüėČ

 

 

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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 ūüėõ

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. ūüôā

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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 ūüėõ

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. ūüėČ 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 ¬†ūüôā

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?

 

 

Monday Musings

Hello World! What a week it’s been. We just wrapped up Thanksgiving here in the states ( sorry my Canadian friends, I know your turkey and pumpkin pies are a distant memory now ūüėČ ) and I’m left wondering why it whirled by so fast.

All in all it was a good week. There was¬†shopping to be done and food to be prepped for the big day. I always admire those perfectly set, Norman Rockwell style pictures I see of some families meals and I’m over here figuring the best way to feed a lot of people before the turkey starts chillin’ up.

Really though, it’s the people that are there that make it what it is, right? No one is concerned over the plate or glass. People want to feel comfortable, enjoy good food and better dessert and watch some football ūüėČ

Food, laughter, more food, pie.

Thanksgiving is easy ( mostly) it’s all about the food. You don’t have to buy gifts, or wrap or worry about parties. You just throw down a bunch of tasty dishes and let people at it.

 

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Pie. I made this a few days before Thanksgiving to see if it was any good. Well, needless to say it made it to the Thanksgiving menu. I’ll try and add recipe at the end

Of course Thanksgiving weekend is also my kick off for Christmas. It’s time to wrap up all my Fall decorating items, and start Christmas decorating. I love being able to create beautiful areas to look at through out my home so it takes me a good part of the weekend to get it set up. I just love creating magic others appreciate.

Christmas makes me still feel like a kid ūüėõ¬†

One of the “traditions” we enjoy is going to a festival our town hosts every year called “Dickens on Main”.¬† Sometimes you can get a little shopping in ( not easy with loads of extra people in the stores) and it’s fun to catch up with people and buy some of the tasty street vendor snacks… like Kettle Korn.

If you don’t know what that is, it’s popcorn that’s sweet with a hint of salt. It’s perfect when it’s crisp, steaming and hot from the huge metal kettle they cook it in.

They also have a snow machine…. yeah…. that’s what happens when you live in south Texas… you gotta make the stuff and shoot it through a machine.

Unless… unless…. it’s one of those very rare moments that came to us last December. We got real, real snow.

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How gorgeous is this ???

Anyway, I don’t hold out any hope we will see that this year so I have to live vicariously through last year.

I promise to share more fun Christmas recipes, pics and fun ideas in another post : )

Once decorating is done I can focus on shopping and Christmas cookies.. and candy… and cookies…

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A sneak Christmas peak……

And that is why I keep running and cycling….

Oh. Speaking of that…. I may or may not have mentioned I had a duathlon coming up… ūüėČ ¬†which was last weekend… I have so much in my head to still process out over that event. Stay tuned for a post this week on it. I’ve been dragging my feet waiting for a few race pics to come in to add to my post.

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I love picking up my race pack and a new number. Never, ever wear the shirt till you actually own the race ūüėČ
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Early morning warming up settling pre-race nerves. That finish line looming behind me. The weather did an unexpected shift into cold, wet and windy.

Anyway, I have an entire duathlon recap post planned so stay tuned for that this week ūüôā

I will say, I always have such a euphoria at finishing, followed by a let down that what I’ve been working towards is now over.

What do I do now? What’s the next “thing”?¬† I will be pondering that in the days ahead.

Speaking of days ahead….

I am almost finished with all my decorating. I have plans to do some shopping and (hopefully) finding a few perfect gifts this week.

Why does it seem like once Thanksgiving is over you are ushered on the Christmas bus at full speed ahead?

Every year I fight against that and try to just focus on things that matter and remember what the season is about.

Seeing people fight over electronic devices and TV’s and boxes of cheap made in China items piled everywhere isn’t what I want Christmas to be about.

I want to embrace the peace, the joy, the love of the season and I try to offer that where I go, even if I sometimes have to chew on my lip to behave.

Now let’s talk about some food….

First just some words of advice. If you feel like you “over did it” eating this past week, leave it and move on.

Get back to normal eating and your purposeful exercise.¬† That is enough. Please don’t think you can “work off” food you ate.¬† All you will do working out harder is maybe hurt yourself or make yourself sore so you want to not workout for a few days.

Don’t take on guilt for what you feel you over did on. That isn’t what the day is about. Guilt and food are two words that shouldn’t go together. You can read more about that in my post here…..¬† https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/07/07/food-and-guilty-feelings/

And below I’ll share a few things I made for Thanksgiving…..

 

 

 

All of these recipes made an appearance at my Thanksgiving table.¬† I’m such a sucker for desserts haha. Of course I also had the traditional pumpkin and pecan pies as well.

Other popular items of course are fresh green beans and a jalapeno corn casserole that I’ve had to literally triple up on the recipe ( grown men children devour it haha)

Ok your turn! What do you like best about Thanksgiving ? Favorite food?¬† Christmas is coming…do you think the commercialism is pushed on us?¬† How do you embrace a joy and peace in a time where people seem to be moodier and less than happy?

Monday Musings

Hello world ūüôā¬† As I’m writing this it’s at the end of the weekend…. a weekend that has been near perfect weather. A weekend that has breathed the promise of fall and changing seasons and all things cozy.

Forget the fact it’s still warm enough for shorts…..

The sun was out and after so many weeks of mostly rain and dark cloudy days, this sunny weekend was a balm for my soul and I know, many others.

This meant some long overdue work outside in the yard and it was wonderful to just be able to work outside in the sun and feel the wind on my skin and hair.

There was some time spent cutting grass…. I don’t mind using a push mower and honestly enjoy the work of pushing it everwhere. We’ve got a lot to cut so it can keep me busy.

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Ready for work… need your grass cut ?

 

The electric company was also out cutting trees back this week and left some oak trees cut laying off the side of the road. Well, actually, it was down the hill…. so it was run down, grab chunks of wood, and back up the hill with it.

Me… I’m thinking… I should go get those, drag them home, and get hubby or my son to get the chain saw and cut them into more manageable pieces that we can use later for our fireplace ( eventually we’ll get one or two cold days :-P)¬† and I love having a fire on those cold dark nights.

So I apprehended the red flyer wagon laying around my grandkids use occasionally and loaded it up and dragged the wood back home.

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Uh… yeah.. it was a little workout haha

It was overall one of those satisfying, working weekends.

Don’t over look the fact that doing some extra movement outside can be a fun part of keeping fit ūüôā

Oh… but then… food.

When I’m not doing athletic things or other activities, I am a wicked baker. So there’s cookies…..

I made two kinds. Hubby had requested oatmeal raisin but then I just wanted something chocolate …so…..

I’ll share recipes below. Find all of my tasty dessert¬†recipes on Pinterest. ( you can also find lots of exercise tips and workouts too ūüėČ )

https://www.inspiredtaste.net/18596/soft-and-chewy-oatmeal-raisin-cookie-recipe/

https://www.ihearteating.com/chewy-brown-sugar-chocolate-chip-cookie-recipe/

I’d never made a chocolate cookie recipe where you melted butter first, then stirred everything else in. I loved how fast and simple these were and sooo good too ūüôā

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Aren’t they pretty ?

 

In other weekend fun….

One of the things hubby and I enjoy doing is going for breakfast dates at a local place in town. The building is old. It’s not fancy.¬† During the winter it can be stupid cold in there ’cause their heat is sketchy at best. On any given morning you’re hoping you can score a table because the place is packed and sometimes you are wrestling for the last fork in the utensil holder.

The food is good and the coffee is too.

This past week I couldn’t help but again get distracted people watching and observing.

Couples, families, friends meeting for coffee the place hummed with a low key activity and bright energy.

It’s one of the cool things about living in a kinda smallish town… the local eating place. The place that isn’t fancied up… it’s just down home cozy.

That’s one of the things I love about my home town. These small areas that still feel “homey” in the mix of growth and things changing so much.

Not only can you meet new people but it’s often a place to catch up with friends you may not have seen in awhile.

For a social person like me….well.. it’s a good fit ūüėČ

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A cozy corner you can sit and watch the world go by in….

Oh… and so like… Halloween is this week.

Stay tuned… perhaps in next weeks post I’ll have a pic of my costume. Let’s just say I’m putting my own spin on Glinda the Good Witch from Wizard of Oz.

Am I the only one who mooches candy of their kid while you’re out making the rounds to houses gathering candy? Please tell me I’m not ūüėČ

Actually now days I’m mooching it off my grandkids hahaha

Of course once Halloween is over, it seems like things are full speed to Christmas. My kids have already begun to present their gift lists to me.

How early do you start shopping ?

And finally… that approaching duathlon…

Got a solid brick training session in on one of my days last week. Out on the road in the dark early morning, fog still in the air, I really wanted to be inside drinking coffee.

But somehow, there I was, out on the road taking off for my first run. I kept it short. A 2 mile run, followed with a 10 bike ride, then a 2 mile run.

I’ll tell you, it’s always that last leg that I have to intentionally and purposefully dial in on my mental muscle. I guess because at that point I know I’m close to finishing and I have to remind my legs, we aren’t quite done yet.

I have to stay focused and sometimes that’s hard when I know finishing is so close!

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Finished for the morning!

I’m actually anticipating a training week ahead that doesn’t involve wet stuff outside! Although I know race day can offer up anything, I’m hoping for perfect weather like we had last year.

That’s a wrap for this week….

It’s another busy week ahead with lots going on. What will be keeping you busy? Have you tried any new recipes? Had any new adventures?

 

 

 

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 ūüėõ

 

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?

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 ūüėČ 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 ūüėČ

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this is what multi sport training days look like ūüėõ

 

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 ūüėČ

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 ūüėČ

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?

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 ? ūüėõ

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 ūüėČ

 

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 ūüėõ

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 ūüėõ

 

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.

What’s Your Next

whats your next

 

Happy Monday beautiful people!¬† Even as I write that I’m aware in the crazy way the universe rolls, it’s actually the end of Monday for some of you on this planet and you are now preparing for Tuesday.

This can be a bit much for my brain to process so I’ll just leave it here and say I hope you’ve had an awesome day no matter what it technically is.

For me though, it’s Monday. Monday morning.

And for the record I’m not “anti-Monday”. I’m glad I’m blessed to still be here, to experience another day of life.

Perspective people, perspective.

My last few Mondays, and today, and the next several will be heavy training days for me. I kick start my week by doing the entire duathlon course start to finish. It does seem rather daunting when I’m slowly coming to life waiting for the coffee to brew wondering¬†if I’m gonnna churn out all the energy this task in front of me will require.

Of course that is my non-coffee brain thinking. Once I wake up more and slip into my gear I’m all business and ready for the task at hand.

Weeks remain till race day. I’m already feeling that edginess that comes over me as an event approaches.

It’s not just the race, it’s the awareness that all of it will be… over.

I’m well acquainted with the feelings and emotions of preparing for a big athletic event and the inevitable let down of emotions when it’s done.

There is something that can’t be explained in the preparation and training ultimately culminating in this event I’ve prepared for.

In those miles and hours of training leading up¬†to it, there is a sort of hunger that develops. A hunger that really is disguised as passion.¬† To see myself improve, make better times, take things on a bit more effortlessly as my body adapts to the rigors of what it’s being put through.

Honestly, it’s a bit addicting.

All the while in my mind though¬†is the question… “what’s next?”

That question can taunt and challenge. It can intimidate and have a level of fear. It can also be the thing that makes me examine how much more I can bring to the table.

What’s my next thing

It’s never far from my mind. I’ve been asked if I’m gonna do a marathon again. Ha, I will most likely start with a half to warm up to it.

Yes, I love distance running and I love what it’s taught me and how I’ve grown from my experiences on the road.¬† In some crazy ways, I’ve missed it.

Obviously, training for the duathlon, my athletic goals have been much more laser focused. My running has been shorter and geared to my event. Not to mention, doing a multi sport race requires my body to perform in different ways so I need to keep my energies centered on that.

But I’m heading back to distance running. Maybe¬†a spring half marathon…we’ll see. I already have fully acknowledged I’m gonna miss those brick training days ( combined running and cycling back to back) I’ve come to enjoy the challenge and hard¬†work of them and I may just keep one built into my training week… because… duathlons. ūüėČ

What’s your next thing

ok this has been leading somewhere. Let’s talk about you.

Do you work and strive for something specific without a thought to where do you go from there?

How do you continue to grow, change and challenge yourself?

Do you see your current endeavor as a learning process to get to a new level?

Yeah I know, not everyone is doing something athletic oriented, but you for sure, have goals or dreams something you’re pressing on towards.

I’ve loved every step of the journey I’ve been on that’s built me as an athlete ( well, most steps haha) I’ve accepted it’s where I am at that moment.

You as well should embrace your journey to your goals.

But for all of us we should never lose sight of the fact we can always do more, be more, achieve more.

Maybe I’m wired a bit more intensely. Maybe the physical challenges I’ve put myself through have only caused me to wonder… what else am I capable of?

You know, that statement applies to you too, right?

What else are you capable of? How big can you dream? What new thing can you take on?

That next step

Don’t get me wrong. That next step once you hit a goal might actually scare you, and that’s ok.

I had 4 half marathons under me without a single thought to running a full one. I mean come on, that’s 26.2 miles! It was when I finished my fifth and walked off the course with my best time ever that the idea floated into my mind…

“It’s time to consider a full marathon”

I shoved it out of my head and dismissed the idea as a lack of carbs to my brain for the crazy thought.¬† Really. There’s no way I’d do a full marathon.

That was in the spring, and by end of year, I had my first one under me.

I had only a fleeting thought after I committed of wondering “if” I could do it. I stomped it out and never let myself think I couldn’t.

A few pointers

Nothing in our lives accidently happens. If you want to do something, you’ve got to be intentional.

~ Set your new goal.¬† I’m still so old fashioned and love writing stuff out where I can see it. Use a calendar to make reminders or things you need to do daily or weekly.

~ See yourself doing it.¬† Don’t allow any idea to creep in that makes you doubt yourself. Your mind is a powerful playing field!

~ Engage with like minded people who can encourage you on your journey.

~ Be the best student you can of what you are pursuing… always be learning!

~Don’t be afraid of new challenges. These bring us more growth.

Getting to the next step might be big and scary and we might wonder if we have what it takes.

You do. We all do.

Enjoy your journey, embrace where you are, but never stop asking “what’s next”.

 

 

 

I May Resemble Stubborn

It’s afternoon and I’ve landed in my favorite coffee cave to sit for awhile and hopefully churn out something fun, witty, educational, and worth your time reading.

Ok… well one or more of those could be potentially true.

It’s a busy afternoon and I’m listening to the low rumble of customer chatter and overhead elevator music. Weirdly, I can often work best in this type of clamor.

Even though the afternoon is still very warm out a hot coffee sounded appealing and it’s warmth is soothing. I wish I could apply the same warmth to my legs that¬†are now¬†reminding me of all their efforts from this mornings workout.

I really don’t mind the tired ache that comes from a hard workout. I’d always take that over the random “aches and pains” I hear people complain about from doing nothing.

Of course this morning was a bit more than a regular workout. If you follow me then you’ve seen some posts where I’ve talked about my upcoming duathlon in November.

Well it’s 6 weeks out to be precise. I try not to let the ever closing in date mentally play tricks on me. I’ve been training hard and I’ll take my best that day to the race. It’s all I can do.

Today was my second time to do it all, start to finish. Each leg of the run/bike/run course.

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Recovery time after my duathlon practice this morning. It took a lot of stubbornness to get to this point ūüėČ

 

I’ve done different parts before. I’ve run some of it and biked a lot of it. Last week I put it all together.¬† My plans are to do the entire course once a week till race day.

Even knowing what it all involves, I still take a big gulp before I head out because I have a healthy respect for the toughness of the course.

That old saying “it doesn’t get easier, you get stronger”? Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s true.¬† My body at this point is stronger for the tasks of the course but it still requires a fierce amount of energy and strength to which I have to remind myself, I have in me.

I have a serious amount of stubbornness  that has driven me to get up early and head out to kick my own tail, to teach myself new things and learn from my mistakes.  My Mom used to call me stubborn and hubby still can but I think he means it in a loving way, right?? haha

I’ve never viewed that as a bad thing, you know?¬† It was, and is, simply a part of my passion.

Stubbornness hasn’t let me give up on things so many times. It hasn’t let me quit when I was tired or feeling like I wasn’t doing my best.¬† It’s challenged me to push myself to see how far I can go and what I can accomplish. It’s helped me hold on in life when things weren’t easy.

Being a bit stubborn definitely¬†has it’s good and bad points.

Then I came across this quote the other night that really resonated with me and made me think about it all in a different way.

perseverance

I’ve never quite thought of perseverance and stubbornness being close siblings, but it made me think how perseverance to do something is, and can be, born out of stubbornness.

Perseverance ~ steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

Where as stubbornness can be looked at as unyielding, or a refusal to give up or change a thought or position I’ve always considered it more in the sense of being passionate over whatever was at hand. Of course there is a line of stubbornness that¬†is more¬†unyielding and¬† a non flexible attribute¬†but that isn’t the way I’m considering it¬†for the sake of this post.

It just made me consider that my pursuit of athletic endeavors has had a healthy amount of stubbornness that hasn’t let me give up or quit. Yet, somehow, in that stubbornness a real honest perseverance has been born from that.¬† It’s interesting to note that¬† perseverance is a synonym of stubbornness.

I love this particular definition on it ~¬† dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something.

Now that can definitely be a negative, however in the context of this, I see it as a positive.

Not changing my mind on fitness goals, when I was working to¬†lose weight, or anything else related to my health.¬†¬†It’s a good thing to not change my position on my health.

You might be able to apply similar things to your own life. True, you might not be training for a duathlon or training for anything at all. But I’m pretty sure you are moving through this world living your life and I hope you have things you aspire to do or achieve.

You might never want to or have a desire to do a single athletic thing. What if you want to go back to school, pursue a new career, try a new hobby, take on a new “thing”.

Gosh, I hope you have something you’re chasing in this life.

I’ll tell you, it will take some stubbornness on your part, an unyielding to give up on it, and somehow that stubbornness will meld beautifully with perseverance and you will find yourself stronger and more focused in the pursuit of your goals and passions.

When I cross that finish line in a few weeks, no matter what, it will be worth it because I chased down my goals, set higher limits for myself, and have overcome things to get to that point.

I’m stubborn like that.

Tell me do you view perseverance or stubbornness as an asset to accomplish things in your life ? What have you accomplished that you feel like you persevered to get to ?

 

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 ūüėČ

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 ūüėČ 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 Lessons Of Discouragement

It’s a quiet Friday afternoon and I’m taking some time to work on this post which you, my faithful 1.5 readers, will be seeing Monday morning when you open your eyes and are tripping over the dog on your way to get ¬†the lovely black gold we call coffee.

The day just cannot start without the stuff, can it? Oh let’s be real, the whole day is fair game for coffee. ūüėČ

I’m much cleaner now than I was a few hours ago, sweaty and salt crusted from my time out on the road doing my brick training this morning ( bike/run)

Clean AND fed. It’s a good place to be.

Oh and coffee. Yes I have that too so I’m ready to get on with todays¬†topic now….

As I’ve shared in previous posts I’ve taken on the lofty athletic goal this year of a duathlon ( a run/bike/run event) Some of my training days involve brick work because well how else am I going to make my body do that stuff on race day?

I’m going to share a few thoughts? A life reflection? learned on the road today. Perhaps you’ll relate or maybe at best and hopefully, it might encourage you.

It goes without saying¬† based on where I live, that my training during the summer will be hot. Not just hot, but hot and humid. I’ve been on the road at 6:30 a.m. and still manage to be a sweat fest. So pretty much no matter the time I can simply know the workouts will be hot and sweaty.

I’m ok with that, really. Fortunately, I’m pretty well acclimated to it. However, even in that condition some days are just flat out harder than others.

As I geared up to hit the road this morning there were a few things already going on with me. The biggest being,  half my head felt like it had cotton balls in it from some sinus stuff that came out of nowhere. Add to that, all that junk going into my stomach ( gross. sorry. it is) but it does a good job making me feel queasy. Add to that, the little food I had eaten pre workout had settled like a rock in my belly.

Even with that…

I got my gear on, grabbed the bike, and took off. It always amazes me at how things seem to fade away as soon as I clip in and take that first stroke hitting the road. I let the bike settle in under me and let my body get into the rhythm of the ride.

As the miles unfolded both the day and I were getting hot. I did 25.25 miles on this ride. Not flat roads but also with lots of big hills thrown in. Most of my ride is on the actual duathlon course.

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Somewhere out on the course….

 

 

I wrapped the ride, landed where my car was parked, quickly put my bike in, changed to my running shoes and was back on the road a few minutes later.

My legs have adapted well to the change from bike to run but it still takes a little time to let them settle into a new activity…especially after coming off a long hard ride.

My run is only 2 miles with more hills…¬†but have mercy… when I’m already hot from the ride and the sun is beating down…. all I want to do is move quickly to get back.

I sometimes wish I had some shirt on that passing cars saw that said something like…

“Be nice to me I just crawled off my bike and now I’m¬†running”

But I did it, (even if my GPS for some reason decided on my last mile to not pick  up parts of it even though I knew the exact distance) I Knocked out the run and as always that great sense of satisfaction from doing both of those activities settled over me.

Tired. Sweaty. Thirsty. And appreciative of my body for what it could do.

As I cool down one of the things I do is check my stats from my ride and run. Strava is great to track all of my athletic activities as well as the fact it lets me see what others do and how I stack up against them on those routes.

It’s like that proverbial carrot dangling in front of me ūüėČ

As my numbers came up, I was admittedly, a little frustrated. My frustration as it does when I’m upset, can turn to tears. Where my segments certainly weren’t “bad”, I had no new PR’s.

I should say, the last time I did all of the course, I had multiple PR’s. Having no new ones¬† sorta fueled my fire of frustration.

Although I knew I hadn’t been a 100% physically on top of my game, and that the heat also affected me, I was still frustrated to have not done better.

I probably should interject here… I’m a wee bit competitive with myself …and have high expectations whenever I step into any of my athletic activities.

I sat on the warm pavement next to my vehicle,  looking at those numbers, clutching my recovery drink and choking back those hot tears.

What was it going to take? How long did I have to work and push to get over that next hurdle of being a little stronger, and  faster?

I questioned being out that morning and maybe I should’ve just stayed in or done something a bit less physically demanding.

I looked at some numbers with only seconds separating me from the times¬†I had been previously. I never thought much about “seconds” but I’ll tell you, in the athletic world, they count for a lot. One second can drop you into a new category or move you into first place from second.

They matter a lot.

As I felt that weight ( and I’m sure being wrung out and hot¬†from everything didn’t help my mood) settle over me the more sane part of my brain began to speak to me…..

The fact alone I had just ridden over 25 miles and then run 2 was an accomplishment not many kick started their day with! Regards of my ideals for my times, I had still done it.

The training counted and it mattered that I was out there.. even if I didn’t think ( in my mind) that it was one of my best workouts.

I realized that my stubbornness and grit to be on the road was an asset that served me well in the rest of my daily life.

Life takes a certain level of stubbornness and grit to get through.

I hadn’t quit.

We’ve all been there, right? Something seems tough. There’s something we know is going to require a lot from us and it seems easier to find a reason to not do it. Quitting seems like an easy way out.

You’re nodding your head… you’ve been in the same boat too…

But that’s when you dig deep, sometimes really deep, and pull out all you’ve got to do what needs to be done.

Making an excuse to not be out there would’ve made me feel worse than not doing it. I never finish a workout that I haven’t been happy for doing it.

Even if my times weren’t as impressive as previously.

That’s when it hit me.

How far I’ve come.

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How much progress I’ve made. The changes I’ve gone through. The strength and speed I have gained.

What I’ve learned through the process.

Each step moves me towards my goal and those steps are made up of good and sometimes not so good moments. But they all are leading to my goal.

I learn more about what I’m made of when I have to work harder or push myself out of my comfort zone.

The lesson for you.

I’m thinking as you’re sitting there reading this, sipping from your now tepid cup of coffee, that you may have been or be in a similar place.

You are pursuing a goal, working towards something important, have a new vision.

Discouragement, weariness, self doubt, feelings of inadequacy, questioning your sanity… all of those things might creep in on you.

It’s in those times my friend, that we learn more of what we’re made of. If we’re strong, we push back and reset our focus and continue our forward movement. If we don’t feel¬†so strong, new strength can be born in us, giving us more confidence in our abilities.

It’s a time of growth and change… if we allow it to be.

Don’t give up and don’t give in even if you get discouraged.

And me? How am I ?

After those truths settled over me, I wiped off my sweaty, salty face and made my way home to shower and plot my next training session.

Are you doing something now that sometimes frustrates you? Do you get discouraged when you feel like you haven’t done your best? How do you handle it ? Have you learned lessons out on the road ?