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.

20171027_180408
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.

20171119_214551
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.

FB_IMG_1512403189151
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

FB_IMG_1512328362197
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.

FB_IMG_1512395069713
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.

20171119_141742
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.

20171119_141839
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.

Advertisements

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.

 

20160919_092351
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.

 

20170728_091156
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 ?

20171115_164056
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.

Just Don’t Quit

dont quit

I stumbled across this quote one morning looking for something on not quitting for one of my social media posts.

I liked it because it wasn’t one of the zillion cliché quotes about not quitting or giving up… and well.. it was honestly quirky enough to completely suit me.

I recently asked for thoughts from people on why they believe people quit what they start.  Why do some hold on to what they set out to do with all they have, working hard and refusing to give up and others, with the slightest discomfort, lack of reward, or immediate gain, throw in the towel and quit ?

I had my own opinions/thoughts on it, but wanted some feedback.

I got responses like “it’s a part of our individual personality”, ” it’s how we were raised”, “it’s something learned”,  to my favorite, “it’s pure stubbornness and a refusal to give in”. I think that’s my favorite ’cause it’s how I’m wired 😉

But I was also raised to finish what I started. I was raised by strong women who didn’t give in when things got rough.

As a grown woman who has lived a lot of life I realize I have that same grit and strength I was exposed to growing up.

It serves me well.

But then there is also who I am as a person. By nature, strong willed and a wee bit stubborn.

I believe all those traits meld together to push me to take on things that make me feel like they can eat my lunch… like my fast upcoming duathlon.

I did my most likely, next to last training session on the course this morning.

It was grey, cold, windy, and some on and off again misty stuff thrown in for good measure. Rain mingled with my sweat is always an interesting feeling.

The wind seemed to delight in coming from angles that weren’t helpful crawling big hills on the bike. It was my suckiest time ever since I started. On a good side, I also did my fastest 5k time, dropping it again from last week.

The good and bad.  I mean I was out there doing it so it’s all a win, right? But that quitting quote rolled through my head.

Not mind you, that I was pondering quitting. Not when I’ve come so far and worked so hard.

Not a fat chance.

But let’s look at a few reasons why people might throw in the towel, or you know, quit.

~ People usually give up or quit when the going gets rough or it takes to long. They fail a few times, don’t know that the struggle is part of the game and walk away from it.  Obstacles are a part of pursuing our goals or dreams and as we get more proficient in what we are doing the obstacles get a bit easier to get over.

~ There’s a lack of ownership. Is it your goal? Your dream? It’s difficult to stay motivated if it’s not yours. You must buy into your goals and dreams. Own them. It totally changes the game. Once you own them, you can begin the steps of practicing to get where you are going.

~ Not willing to put in time required. Training for a duathlon, I knew what I was up against if I was going to do it. I knew the time and training that would be required to get me to the starting line. If you decide to set a lofty goal for yourself, understand what the time investment will be. Reaching our goals takes hard work and a lot of practice. If we don’t excel in something it will take both of those to get there.  Being a multi sport athlete is certainly nothing that was in my back round or skill level. It has required hard work and a lot of practice.

~ Limit distractions that get in your way. So many things clamor for our attention now days and if you let them get in your way you may find yourself getting side tracked from what you are pursuing. You may have to set things aside to make time for your goals and to ensure you don’t quit.

~ People often quit when there is insufficient reward or as I refer to it, instant gratification.  They feel like they’ve invested a little time of a few weeks or a month and expect results. Everything from weight loss, to a new career or hobby or getting fit. It takes time. I didn’t wake up one morning and go run a marathon. I didn’t just sign up for a duathlon and go do it. Little things at a time have built on the other leading me to bigger successes. This goes for anyone. If you want to do more, you’ve gotta invest the time and energy and not expect instant results.

~  A lack of belief in themselves. Simply put, you’ve gotta believe you can do it or you’re out of the game from the beginning.  The first time I realized I was really committing to running a full marathon the thought danced through  my head…. ” That’s 26.2 miles. That’s so long. How will I do it?”  I immediately stomped those thoughts down, never let them back in, an proceeded to not only train for my marathon but go on and do more too.  Those thoughts had no place in my head if I was going to be successful.

~ And a final thought that I think is perhaps the biggest reason to why people quit or give up or whatever you wanna call it.

They simply lack the discipline to see their goal or idea through to the end.

They can’t get themselves to see the end result of what they are pursuing.  They haven’t developed the habits required to work on the days they not only feel like it, but more importantly, days they don’t feel like it.  Trust me, heading out into a cold, wet morning to train isn’t necessarily my idea of a great time. Staying in warm and drinking coffee is definitely more appealing but it’s on those days I have to rely on my discipline to get me out the door and get the job done.

There has to be a willingness to take on the good days and the bad days to get where you’re going.  You have to push forward no matter what the challenges are that come at you IF you are determined and stubborn to reach your goals or dreams that you have.

If you struggle with quitting when things get rough or don’t produce fast enough results, consider some of these points and determine where you can change things in yourself.

With some intentional choices and a willingness to fail and make mistakes, along with some stubbornness and purposeful dedication, you will be able to achieve your goals.

Do you struggle with following through? Have you before but have you overcome obstacles to get to your goals? What did you find worked best for you?

Life Beyond The Weight Loss

It hasn’t taken long for me to realize through media, talking to people, and my own personal interactions that there is a whole lot of time spent focusing on weight loss, losing weight, ways to lose weight, how fast we can lose weight, and trendy diets to help us lose weight.

The weight loss/diet industry rakes in billions of dollars a year so we could even assume from those numbers people are hungry to accomplish this goal. ( oh I just made a cute pun, appreciate it 😉 )

Many will set out with good intentions only to always be on some kind of diet track or have the idea always on their mind they “have” to lose weight.

Many just give up and quit.

Others, others will get it. They will find the thing that works best for them. The “thing” that allows them to slowly, steadily drop weight, live life, not feel deprived and it will be sustainable long term.

They will cross the bridge that leads them to a lifestyle change. This is the only permanent thing that will last. They will find a healthy balance of all foods, learn the right amount they need to lose, then maintain that loss. They will have figured out that a their favorite meal or a treat here and there isn’t going to end their success, in fact, they will have figured out it can lead to their success.

This month marks my 8th year since I crossed over “the bridge”.  8 years of  not just losing it, but keeping it gone. It’s my celebratory month of figuring out what worked for me and getting out of the hamster wheel diet mentality/trap. I’ve learned so much about myself in these past few years. I’ve learned a lot about food, nutrition and exercise too.

Of course, just because this is the month I started the process doesn’t mean it’s when all things connected for me. That took some time, some patience, and some strong willed perseverance. It took a willingness to learn and experiment. To stumble and get up again.

Eventually, I hit a point where losing weight wasn’t such a focus anymore. I stopped my weekly check in’s with the scale. I stopped thinking or worrying every bite was gonna land on me like a ton of bricks. I stopped worrying about what size label my clothes carried.

I was in a good place.. the land of maintenance.

So what about those who “get it” who cross over into that understanding that the only thing that works forever and long term is a lifestyle change. It’s about losing the old lifestyle and mindset that got you there in the first place.  This means mentally, physically, and emotionally. An entire changed perspective on how to approach food, our relationship with it and finding the balance of eating just enough but not to much. It’s a better awareness on taking care of yourself.

Where do you go after weight loss?

In the beginning you’re so focused on the numbers changing, whether it’s your clothes or the scale it unwittingly becomes your main focus on the journey. Once you hit that point of being comfy you realize you need to have a new focus.

I’d say where I am now, as to where I was then, I’ve learned a lot more about food and nutrition.  Yes, you can lose weight with almost any foods as long as you are creating a daily deficit.

Losing weight comes down to having a negative expenditure each and every day. It’s just learning what to eat ( in a positive way) to contribute to the weight loss.

But there are things that start to happen in this process, in the “after” part of losing weight…

You really start to prefer healthy, nutritious foods

I was never a horrible eater  but I probably snacked on stuff that didn’t support my health and fitness goals like I do now. It has been a ongoing learned process, to intentionally select good foods over fast foods or some junk type of food.  In time your body really does begin to crave the good foods and you lose your taste for a lot of the things you used to find so desirable. I often eat salads now simply because I enjoy them, I crave the veggies, and it leaves me feeling energetic and not sluggish for my day.

By the time you get to a maintenance mode, you’ve learned more about the foods that got you there and don’t view eating that way as being deprived or missing out.

So yeah, you’re much more tuned in to how to eat and what to eat and you feel better not only physically, but mentally too when you do. Making good choices just makes you feel good all over.

You don’t dread those morning workouts anymore

I try and tell people this when they are wanting to start exercising. They seem to not believe me. I’m telling you, do it enough, it becomes a habit. And it turns into a habit you WANT to do. You anticipate them and you might even find yourself up for some new challenges you never thought possible. And you’ll get all kinds of energy from keeping at it. Not only that it builds your confidence, clears your mind, helps center you and gives you a new appreciation for what your body can do.

Speaking of energy

it’s fairly obvious, the less you have to drag around on your body during the day, the more energy you might have. Of course, if you’ve been exercising along the way that has been building your entire cardio system so you’ll feel more energetic in your daily tasks without huffing and puffing so much and as well during your purposeful exercise.  I just love having the energy to still hang with my young 20something kids if we’re up late ( they freely admit I have more energy than they do) or to be able to play in the pool with my grandson catching him ( over, and over, and over ha) as he comes off the water slide. And in a weird way, energy seems to breed energy, so the more you do the more you seem to produce. It’s a good feeling.

Clothes shopping anyone?

ok I’m a girl and it goes without saying, I can be drawn in by lots of pretty things. It’s even more fun when all the pretty things fit great and look good ( hmmm maybe that isn’t a good thing) it’s just an enjoyable experience.  I really do love fun, trendy fashion, a lot. There were times in the past I didn’t want to shop nor did I find it nearly as fun as I do now.  Shopping is just much more enjoyable when you are rewarded with fitting into smaller clothes for your efforts.

You might find yourself inspiring others or giving advice

In a weird turn of events, what started off as me doing my own thing to lose weight and get on a healthy lifestyle change has morphed into being here talking to you ( my blog) as well as sharing things on my other social media sites, and encouraging/helping people who ask me questions on everything from nutrition to how to start running and all things in between.  I think that’s like, a super cool thing. My desire always is that if someone can see I’ve done it, they can do it too. There’s nothing I love more than seeing someone “get it” and start on their own journeys.

The rest of your life

I guess it goes without saying, being at a healthy weight, exercising to keep your body strong and fit and eating good foods to support that will go a long way to letting you live a full, healthy life. Hopefully without diseases or ailments that can plaque people who carry extra weight or lead a sedentary lifestyle.   Being a strong, healthy you means the ability to live a active life to enjoy your family and all the adventures you want to have with them.

Strong. Healthy. Fit. Energetic. Active.

I’d say those are some pretty good goals to have in the long run far beyond the weight loss.

 

20171018_222215
Celebrating 8 years of  living a strong, fit, healthier lifestyle

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. 😉

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”.

 

 

 

Holiday Survival Guide

holiday survival

I’m struggling to grasp the fact we are nearly two weeks into October already.  Like where has the year vanished to? October heralds the start of all things “holiday” in the commercial realm here.

I’m not sure what it’s like in the rest of the world, but here in the U.S. it’s become sadly common place the last few years for stores to just throw all holidays together like some huge smorgasbord you just go in and pick from.

Why yes, I want to look at Christmas trees and lights while I’m picking out orange and black Halloween candy.

Back in the day when I was a wee little girl ( a really long time ago ha) there was a general appreciation for each holiday. It was recognized and then you moved to the next one. The official start to Christmas was after Thanksgiving and you didn’t go get your tree till December.

I’m remember my grandparents being shocked when the neighbor put theirs up before December one year.

One just didn’t break Christmas rules by putting the tree up to early.

And Thanksgiving, well that’s just about swept under the rug and barely given a nod to. If you’re lucky you may find some turkey napkins and fall leaves squished into a small area on one single aisle.

By the way….Do you know Canada has Thanksgiving in October??? Like they just had it… weird… although I was a little jealous they were already having turkey… but I digress….

This isn’t a post about me whining on how commercialized the “holiday” season (Oct-Dec)  has become or how I wish things were simpler, although I do.

No, this is a little post about having a survival fitness guide for the “holiday season”.

I saw the first meme the other day… you know.. one that’s designed to make you feel like a guilty loser for enjoying foods or treats for the holiday? Get out there and work off your food!

Yeah, I think those are awesome too… not really.

I think they are designed to steal your joy over something that should be fun and celebratory, isn’t that what holidays are about?

Family? Food? Friends? More food?

That’s what life is about.

However, all of us want to navigate through these upcoming months and not look like the Butterball turkey come January.  You really can go through these months and not gain weight, I promise.

When I started on my health journey, it was mid October. I stayed the course all through the rest of that year and when I checked in with my doctor in January I had lost 20 lbs.

Yes, you read that correctly. No, I didn’t starve myself or do without. I ate normal almost all of those days, I enjoyed the celebrations of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. I baked, I ate cookies, I nibbled on my favorite chocolate treats, and I enjoyed the season.

I also stayed true to my exercise at the time, every day. I didn’t treat each day like it was a party that I needed to over eat on, I ate in moderation. I didn’t eat till I was miserable on the actual holiday.

I wore form fitting clothes to remind me of my goals. Crazy I know but it works. Trust me, you are much more aware of your body and how you are eating.

So I want you to have your own personal survival guide

This is gonna look different for all of us. It will vary by our goals, our lifestyle and what we are trying to achieve. I’m assuming, you really don’t want to add any extra weight to you.. that’s why you are here.

First of all, if you fall in the camp of already throwing the towel in and proclaiming “I’ll start in January!”

Stop. It.

Seriously, stop thinking like that. There are only a few days in these upcoming months that would be out of the norm for eating purposes. You have days of normal life going on there are no reasons to toss in the towel and view these months as an eating binge.

And… I’ve just told you I lost weight through these months so I know it’s possible. Either that or you maintain your weight.

Next, exercise.

If you aren’t yet at least get out and start walking. Regardless, you want to make time in your day for that. It not only helps with the weight issue more importantly it keeps you sane and focused on days that get busy with all the hustle of the holidays.

One of my fav things I’ve done every Thanksgiving since I started getting myself in shape, is getting up early for a sunrise run.  It centers my mind on what the day is about, let’s me think of all I’m grateful for and blessed with, burns off some calories and energizes me for the long busy day I’ll have as Chief cook and Dessert Master 😛

Food.

Oh there are so many delicious things to sample aren’t there? And pie. Glorious, delicious pie.

I eat the things I love the most. I don’t worry so much about the other stuff. I don’t eat it because “it’s there”. I feel no obligation to eat everything that’s put out, you shouldn’t either. If you can’t really stand Grandma’s sweet potato casserole with gobs of marshmallows, for heavens sake, leave it behind!

I don’t feel deprived or left out. I have what I want in small portions.. with so much food available it doesn’t take much to fill a plate.  I detest that over full feeling so I really try and keep away from doing it.

You need to make your plan now

~ determine what you will and won’t do. This puts you in charge and not just being bounced along day to day,

~ on the actual day be mindful of how you eat. Listen to your body. Trust me, there will be food for days so you don’t need to eat it all at once.

~ don’t over eat or eat “bonus” foods on random days. Eat normally and respect your decisions you’ve made.

~ don’t feel obligated to eat everything that’s put out. Be selective in what you want.

~ do try and limit alcohol and keep your water intake up.

~ do commit to daily exercise.

~ do enjoy your family traditions and foods. Don’t get hung up on how many calories are in things.

~ do remember, you can’t “work off” things you’ve already eaten.  It’s done. Move forward and work out sensibly.

~ do listen to your body. If it’s telling you “enough” then learn to stop. Like I said, food will be around for days 😉

~finally, do set a small goal for yourself to achieve at the end of the season. If you have something you’re mindful of, you will be more likely to stay focused on it.

Make sure you check back in the upcoming weeks for a few more tips and motivation to keep strong and fit through this season.

With some planning, awareness of yourself and each day, you can move through these months enjoying yourself, staying positive, and maybe even dropping a few pounds in the process.

Do you have any tips or tricks you use to stay on track during the holidays?

 

 

Your Schedule And Exercise

20171003_135021

Meetings. School, work, volunteer groups seems like no matter what kind of group you may be involved with at some point they have meetings you attend. Some you may be able to get out of but something like, work, you really don’t get an option.

When you have a meeting with the boss you better make sure your happy little self is there ready to do what needs to be done.

A scheduled meeting with yourself to get your sweat on should be no different.

I’ve been asked how I manage to “stick with” exercise. I’ve been told that my “dedication” is to be admired. Often the person I’m talking with is wanting to know what the magic potion is that has helped me maintain my exercise regime for 8 years now.

I hate to tell you, but there isn’t any magic potion.

In the beginning it involved some whining and complaining ( to myself) but I made myself  go do it.

And those are accurate words… made myself.

No athletic clothes, no heavy sweating, no techie gear, no athletic goals dancing in my head. Just a decent pair of shoes, I’d dutifully walk off my 2 miles.

I wasn’t excited about doing it. I did it because I knew I needed to and if I wanted to live a healthy life I would move my body purposefully every single day.

I made a commitment to it. If I couldn’t do it in the morning ( my preferred time) then I’d come home in the afternoon, change shoes, and go get it done.

In time something crazy started happening….

I don’t remember exactly when the shift occurred. The shift from dutifully doing it and checking it off my list, to something I looked forward to and began to guard and schedule as anything else important in my life.

In a 24 hour span of time, my workouts sessions were my time I scheduled with myself.  I learned to view them as important as anything else I’d be doing in my day.

I learned to structure the rest of my day and appointments around my scheduled workout time, allowing for clean up and getting to my destination.

Some mornings are tight but I’ve become a wizard at transforming from sweaty, grime crusted athletic girl to someone who smells clean and looks respectable in an almost Ninja fast way.

Why? Because those meetings are important to me. They set the tone for my day. Workouts wake up my body, clear the night cobwebs and get my blood flowing. If I miss it, I honestly feel “off”.

I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process.

When you commit to something and faithfully follow through it turns into this crazy thing called… a habit. Once that habit is established it doesn’t cross your mind to make excuses to not do it.

I’ve spent a lot of time on the road and putting miles under me is a great way to learn things about myself.

I haven’t learned those things by not keeping my scheduled meetings to be there.

Over these past years I’ve seen what I’m made of when I have to dig deeper into myself for the challenge in front of me. I’ve learned I can continue to push past limits and head to new ones, and then push past those too.

In keeping those meetings with myself, fitness has taught me so much.

I’ve learned more about discipline, consistency, hard work, perseverance, sacrifice, goal setting, the strength of not just my body ( which at times I’m amazed at what it can do) but how it’s forged a fierce mental toughness in me which comes in handy for the rest of life. I’ve learned with training and determination I can do things I used to think were only for an elite group of people.

And in a cool way, I learned that I was pretty good at it.  Something else I would’ve missed out on not keeping those early morning meetings with myself.

So what suggestions do I give to people?

As mentioned above, that is one of the things I get asked mainly because I think people do find it so hard to stick with. They want ideas and help to get rolling (and hopefully ) staying with it.

They have a genuine desire but I hear them, it’s hard in the beginning! You have to fight back against all the things that come at you, especially yourself.

Excuses can be easily made to justify not getting it done. Work, family, school, other activities all clamor for our attention and we wonder if it isn’t easier to just let it go.

So here are my pointers, for what it’s worth.

~Determine what time of day is best for you. This will be a totally personal thing depending on the schedule of your life and if you function best in the morning or evening.  Find a time.

~ Start with something you enjoy doing.  You will stay with it if you actually like what you do. And why you’re doing that, be thinking of something else you can do. Having a couple activities keeps boredom from setting in.

~ Just start. Don’t wait for Monday or till after a holiday or your grandmothers birthday. Just get up and start.

~ There are days you’re gonna think you’re to tired. Do it anyway. You’ll feel invigorated I promise.

~View it as important as anything else in your day and don’t allow it to not get done. ** I will say here, sometimes life just happens, even for me. If things go beyond your control and it just doesn’t, just regroup and get at it again the next day.**

~ Zealously guard your time. In the beginning when I started exercising I kept at it because I felt like the alcoholic who, if they had a drink would fall off the wagon. Only I worried if I made an excuse one day, then it would lead to another day, and I’d find myself in the land of excuses again for dropping my exercise habit. Honestly, it scared me enough to make me stay at it. Sometimes a little fear doesn’t hurt.

~ Consistency and discipline have payoffs. Not just the side effects of helping you lose weight or how your physique may change with it, but you will build that discipline into a new habit, and new habits have this crazy way of sticking.

~ Be kind to yourself. Remember an unexpected set back or off day isn’t a reason to forget the idea. Several years ago I hurt my knee, and no, not from running. It was from learning to ride a motorcycle 😛 the doctor wanted me off running for 6 weeks. I was devastated. But I was more terrified with that much time off I’d be out of my routine and not want to go back to it. Not true. I counted the days and when I got back on the road for the first time, I literally cried. ( something I do not recommend as running with a snotty nose hinders your breathing a bit haha 😉 ) I cried to be back out. I cried that my desire hadn’t gone away. I cried for the pure freedom of doing something I had been learning to love.

That’s when I realized that exercise thing really had stuck.

Yes, there are days now I wake up and as my brain is focusing on my training for that morning I think am I gonna have all I need to do this ? Of course that’s my “foggy, I haven’t had coffee yet to remind me that, yes I do” brain speaking.

I do have all I need. I love what I can do and am thankful to be able to do it. I’m thankful I pushed on in those early days and didn’t quit.

20171003_151516
This is what happens when you stick with exercise. You’re snapping a selfie after finishing your first round through the entire duathlon course. #runbikerun

 

If you’re struggling to get started understand we’ve all been there. Just make a commitment to yourself and get rolling with one day at a time. Schedule your meetings with yourself and before you know it, you’ll be eager to show up for them.

Tell me have you overcome the lack of exercise in your life? How did you do it? Or is this an area you still struggle with ?

~