Reflections From The Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With that, my “official” training began.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Nothing like a good sweat to cleanse the soul haha

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now.. it’s almost show time.

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

Looking good helps your performance, right ?

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

 

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

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

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

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

And nothing will feel better than that.

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”.

 

 

 

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. 😉

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 😉

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 ?

 

 

 

Running Vs. Cycling

The question has come around a little more frequently now days… I don’t mind….

“Do you like running or cycling more?”

I don’t know. I mean, each one is it’s own kinda brutal animal.

Running… I totally identify as a runner… a freaking currently wounded one… but a runner none the less. This is a sport that demands as much from me physically as it does mentally. Truth be known, I love the physical demands of it.

 

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Running molded and shaped me in a way nothing ever had. It built a ferocious confidence that I could take on the world… maybe I should say distance running did that to me. The discipline, sacrifice and drive that comes with distance running..  nothing compares to it.

In some ways, you come to understand things about yourself out there on the road in that solitude. Those early morning runs, before the sun comes up, are often the most soul revealing times I’ve experienced.

Running has taught me about strength, perseverance, dedication, determination, and sacrifice. It has shown me I’m stronger and more powerful than I would’ve ever imagined about my abilities.  It not only shaped my body, but my mind.

Running… if it needs stated…. is hard.

Yeah, you get stronger and it starts to feel “easier” in some ways but there is always a big physical demand required from your body. Ha, and it’s always those first few miles that leave you thinking… why???  and then… I get in my “zone” and my body just takes over and settles into what it’s been trained for and there’s this … high.. that comes from that.

If you run, you get it. If you don’t, I can’t really explain it to you.

I’m hungry to get back to it.

Then there’s cycling. It came in a most subtle way to my life. A side project. Something to do occasionally when I wasn’t on foot. Another form of cross training for me for running.

When the injury kept me from running, it was a no brainer to pick up more on the bike. These past few months it’s become my solace and outlet for what I can’t get from running.

It’s given me the miles I crave and certainly at a much faster speed than being on foot. It’s offered new challenges and goals.  I’ve found that the strength my body built from running has made cycling a rather seamless, easy move for me.  I realized I’m kinda good at it and figure with more practice I could be fairly competitive out there.

 

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Of course, riding a machine has it’s own “challenges” over just taking my body out on the road and running. Cycling, you get a little rest time at some points, whereas running, you’re on your feet going with no time to take it easy.   Both sports demand much physically.

But what I love most? It’s put me back into an endurance sport again. Maybe it’s a sickness? But I love training and putting in long miles.. seriously there’s nothing I look forward to more than a long training ride or run.

I just love the feeling of pouring myself into it and the tired, but exhilarating feeling that comes after I’m done.

Hello everyone I may be an endurance sport junkie. Get her some help 😛

So the question… what do I like best?

I’m in love with both now.

I embrace the challenges that go along with each sport and appreciate the different aspects of them. I mean, really, why settle with just one ? 😉

I look forward to training into both and hopefully doing a duathlon which molds both seamlessly together.

It’s a good fit for me..  I look forward to seeing what I can accomplish in the future in the world of cycling AND running.

Tell me… do you prefer one over the other? What is your favorite athletic activity?

 

 

The Athlete’s Heart

athletes heart

 

The heart. It’s pretty standard equipment in all human bodies. This amazing organ tucked inside your body pumping blood to all your cells and organs has been beating since your mother was only four weeks pregnant.  Did you know that ??

As I’ve gotten more athletic it’s become more important to me to understand things like my heart rate, my training heart rate, and my resting heart rate.

This incredible organ we must remember, is a muscle and it needs trained and conditioned just like the muscles we can visibly see if we flex our arms. Perhaps conditioning it is at the TOP of the importance list.

The best way to exercise your heart is by doing cardio exercises ( stuff that makes you breath hard and sweat. This is what most people don’t enjoy doing because this is when they realize they are “really” out of shape)

Ok that being said, I mentioned in a post a week or two back that I had gotten the new Garmin Vivoactive HR  which has a heart rate monitor built into the watch and I can literally track my heart rate in normal day activities, training times, and when I’m at rest.

I’ve been fascinated with the fact that endurance athletes begin to develop lower resting heart rates from all of the physical training they go through… it’s that cardio stuff again 😉

I will try and not get to complicated on terms and what not but….

the interesting cause of an endurance athlete having lower resting heart rates than the general population is basically how the heart adapts and basically enlarges due to the training the body undergoes.  Heart rhythms for which the elderly require pacemakers are normal in the trained athlete. This slowed heart beat is a condition called  sinus bradycardia.

Athlete’s heart most often does not have any physical symptoms, although an indicator would be a consistently low resting heart rate. Athletes with AHS often do not realize they have the condition unless they undergo specific medical tests, because athlete’s heart is a normal, physiological adaptation of the body to the stresses of physical conditioning and aerobic exercise.

Athletes tend to have lower resting heart rates because training programs that build speed, fitness, muscle and endurance also train your heart muscles to pump a higher volume of blood with each heartbeat. Ultimately, it takes fewer heartbeats to power a well-conditioned athlete during intense training as well as during rest.

During intense exercise, the hearts of highly trained athletes pump as much as twice the volume of blood as the hearts of untrained people.

While the normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute, conditioned athletes and other highly fit individuals might have normal resting heart rates of 40 to 60 beats per minute. This indicates a high level of cardiovascular fitness.

This is where I’ve found having my heart monitor on my new watch to be rather fascinating. In the month I’ve had it, it has tracked my heart rate in daily activities, during my workouts, and my resting heart rate.  Maybe I’m a little nerdy but I kinda like all those stats 😉

Thus far, my resting heart rate seems to land in the high 40’s to low -mid 50’s. Although I’ve had a few nights were my numbers were 38 and 34! My rate in my normal activities stays in the 60-70’s.   Needless to say, I’m in triple digits in heavy workouts 😛

This again is proof and reminds me that my heart is a muscle that needs worked, trained and challenged to stay strong and not have to work as hard because it’s “in shape” too. It also gives me an idea of my fitness level.

My husband has been in the cardiology field for many years now. So of course, you know, I’ve asked him questions and bugged him about this. When I feed him my numbers his usual response to me is… ” you have an athletes heart”. He tells me if we saw a ” normal” person with some of those numbers we would be looking to see why they had them ( as in, it would indicate possible heart problems)

There are some non athletic individuals who might naturally have a low heart rate that can simply be a product of genetics.

Others, if there is a consistent low heart rate might indicate possible problems and should be evaluated by a cardiologist.

So bottom line, your heart is not only amazing in that it pumps blood, non-stop, your entire life, it has the ability to grow, get stronger and change to work more efficiently while neatly conserving energy.

Even if you have no plans to become an endurance athlete, your heart still needs good doses of cardio too! Make sure you’re getting it at least 5 days a week, 30 minutes a day.

And I’ll close this with a few fun facts about your heart you might not know….

A kitchen faucet would have to be turned on all the way for at least 45 years to equal the amount of blood pumped in an average lifetime.

The “thump-thump” of a heartbeat is the sound made by the four valves closing.

And finally, if you need any more encouragement about heart care consider this…

the heart does the most physical work of any muscle during a lifetime. The power output of the heart ranges from 1-5 watts. While the quadriceps can produce 100 watts for a few minutes, an out put of 1 watt for 80 years is equal to 2.5 gigajoules.

 

Are you an endurance athlete? Have you seen your resting heart rate change?

If you don’t work out, do you find cardio work challenging? Do you understand the need to train our heart as much as  the outer muscles we can see?

 

Runner Or Jogger

running or jogging

I heard the term again… and I felt my skin just crawl a little and my eye started to twitch.

“How’s your jogging going?”

I tried not to groan out loud. The intentions of the one asking were pure and genuine and I smiled and answered their question.

It’s a term a lot of people don’t think about. And they don’t mean a thing by it.

I think the only ones who DO think about it are runners.

But in my head it conjures up visions of middle school gym, wearing horrible ill fitting gym suits that smell of sweat, and lazy, unmotivated kids who don’t want to run while the coach is yelling at them to do so… therefore they break into this lazy shuffling… jog. Long ago, back in the day, I was one of those kids.

Jog.. the  ” I can’t muster much more than a fast walk or shuffle.”

Jog… that awful thing “joggers” do at stoplights 😛

What is it that makes those of us who view it as “running” twitch a little?

running-v-jogging

Maybe I should explain how I told it to a friend once…

A jogger doesn’t go out before daybreak, and before breakfast, to knock off a 10 miler.

Nor does a jogger sign up to run long races, like marathons.

When I’m pounding out a fast 5K, I don’t call it jogging.

I’ve never finished a long run and felt like I went jogging.

Running has very specific goals and events to train for. For me these things become very concrete.

Jogging doesn’t enter that equation for me.

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I looked up the etymology of ‘Jogging’.  As a word it is a gift of the British from the mid-seventeenth century that had none of the emotional overtones.  It simply meant to perambulate in some form or other.  Saying “I went for my morning jog” was just a tad more whimsical way of saying ‘walk’ or ‘brisk walk’. 

It would seem that during the first running boom of the 1970’s ‘jogging’ was just a way to describe running for your health with no particular competitive inclination.

It seems “Jogging” was originally intended to be a subset of running; a less strenuous, less serious form of running. It was running for the non-competitive masses.

I think for me personally, although I don’t view myself as “fast”, a 9-10 minute per mile pace is moving along fairly well and I most definitely don’t consider doing that pace for …lots of miles… jogging.

Maybe, running meshes more with my competitive spirit than jogging. For me, jogging is what I might do in a warm up. A kinda loose, loping, easy trot.

For me running is strong and powerful and challenges me in deep and real ways. It requires much from me on any given run.

As a runner with specific goals I’ve made some serious sacrifices to get there. I’ve left a lot out on the road. I’ve met new challenges head on.  Hard work has been invested and when “jogging” is applied it seems to diminish the sacrifices in some way.

Jogging just seems casual, pull on sweat pants that say you aren’t going far, maybe a loop around the block.

Personally, when I slip into my running gear, it’s all business. I don’t wear my athletic clothes around during the day and I never wear them just “for fun.”  They are work clothes. When I put them on it’s all business for me.

Running is definitely about the passion I ( or we collectively) feel in our hearts. Not that it defines us, but perhaps, in some way it does.

It defines passions, vision, and personal goals that at some point have seemed daunting to us.

But no matter what you might call yourself, being out there, and getting it done is all that matters at the end of the day.

However, for me, you’ll find me out for my daily run 😉

What about you? If you run, does the term “jogger” ever bother you ?

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Thoughts From An Endurance Athlete

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Even as I type out the title for this blog, I’m left pondering how and when, I turned into an endurance athlete.

It was certainly never on my radar at any point in my life like, “Hey, when I grow up I wanna do crazy things like run a stupid amount of miles or bike that many or do BOTH!”

No.

I wasn’t an athlete in school. My athletics involved band and being involved in twirling the last three years of school.

I wasn’t athletic most of my adult life.

I started running when I was 46. I ran my first half marathon in 2011 and was hooked.

I crossed the finish line feeling triumphant and exhausted already plotting my next one. It would be several more half marathons before I really felt the pull or the “calling” to do a full marathon. Some of my friends have simply referred to it as me going crazy 😉

I never really let myself examine to closely the (craziness) of deciding to run 26.2 miles.

Really. Only real runners did that stuff, right? Real athletes. I never backed down from that first one, and one time, and one time only did I look those numbers in the face and feel terrified and almost back down. I put that thought away and never let it out again.

I’m so glad I didn’t.

I simply started training and embracing the whole discipline of the preparation it took for a marathon.

Then with quite a few half marathons under me, and a couple full marathons, I jumped into a 50K.

THAT… is when I’d see friends in the store and they’d pull me aside and quietly whisper to me..

“Honey, are you ok? Really? I mean, a 50K…. I think you’re crazy!”

Ha… I guess looking at it from some sort of rational perspective, it must seem that way. I had just come to the realization that running a lot of miles at once was just…well normal….. right?

Normal, sane, grounded people just don’t decide to train for a 50K race.. and then do it.

Something though about endurance running meshed with me.

Was it the constant challenge to push my body to more? To see how far and long I could go? To simply know that I could do it? If I’m honest, for the natural kinda high that came along with it ?

Ah yes, that was the biggest thing. To know I could take on something that felt so much larger than life to me, something that seemed so impossible and so far from anything I’d ever been or done… that huge challenge… and then go out and do it.

It builds confidence in you like nothing can.

In the mix of running I started cycling some. Just to mix it up and because, hey why not another sport?  Cycling of course worked my body in a different way from running and I liked that.

But running still remained my main passion. Maybe it was the fact it took such strength and mental discipline to do it, and to do it for long periods of time.

Getting up on those early Saturday mornings and being on the road by 5:30 to knock out my long run… as hard as it could be some weeks getting out of a cozy bed and leaving a warm house…there was something I relished about it. Running in the black, quiet morning still sleepy with nothing but the soft sound of my feet hitting the road and the sound of my breathing, it was almost comforting.  I loved passing houses all dark, people still sound asleep as the miles built under me.

As the darkness gave way to light I loved having often 10 or more miles under me while the world was still getting it’s first cup of coffee. And by the time the sun was up in the sky I would be wrapping up a run in the teens’s or 20’s miles and it felt amazing.

Somehow completely exhausting myself at the start of the day made me feel empowered.

Geez how many people were out running double digits before the sun came up?

Not just that… but somehow out there on the road on those runs….  you find yourself in ways you didn’t know before. You come to understand things about yourself and what you’re really made of. When you do endurance sports you have to dig deeper into yourself and pull things out that you previously didn’t know were there.

Quitting isn’t an option. Your mind and body need to be disciplined and pulled into a cooperating agreement, which can be hard when your legs are starting to ask ” are we there yet?”

You find a strength you previously didn’t know existed. You learn to give more when you think you can’t give more. That is where your mental muscle is really built.

You begin to relish the feel of your body responding to the demands you put on it, how the road feels under you, how your mind is so…alive.

I do some of my most creative thinking and problem solving when I’m out on the road.

When I had to cut back on running last year with an injury, time on the bike was a replacement for giving me the miles I had come to crave. Not the same as running, but I had the ability to go out and ride for miles and challenge myself in new ways ( riding a bike up a hill is a different game than running up a hill 😛

I loved the new level of strength I built from cycling along with the running. Ok, and I will admit, that it’s a total head rush flying off a hill at wild speeds and holding on for dear life and feeling like you’re 12 all over again… that’s the reward for climbing hills haha

And then I started entertaining the idea of doing a duathlon, an event where you run, cycle, and run. Two things that I was beginning to feel I was pretty good at.

It was on my agenda for last fall… but this nagging Achilles injury just wouldn’t let me put the training in for running like I needed to so that event was shelved.

So yesterday, I was out on my bike. The first time in well over a month…closer to 2 more likely.  The doctor wanted me off of everything that could possibly irritate it and keep it from healing.

Yesterday was the day after the period he had suggested before I tried some cycling again.

I hardly slept the night before I was so excited. It’s the same feeling I have the night before a long run or a race.  The day started off foggy, misty and warm but I didn’t let that stop me. The sun eventually popped out. It felt so amazing to be out again…so free… I cut myself off at 17 miles thinking that was probably enough for my first time back out.

I’ll be honest… I’m not sure where this injury is gonna land me or how long it will be till I can really get after what I want to do. It’s still hanging around and I need to hit it face on. I’m terrified of being side railed for a long time and getting to do nothing. Terrified.

What I remembered out on the road (again) yesterday… is how ALIVE I feel when I’m out there.  How endurance sports make me feel alive, and strong, and powerful. There’s something heady about it that I can’t explain and you probably only understand if you’re an endurance athlete.

Somehow, in the pouring out of yourself on the road, you dig deeper and learn more about who you are and what you’re made of than you ever knew.

I’m ready for bigger challenges and new goals.

I love having an event I’m training for, my calendar laid out with my mileage I will be doing for months, my cross training days plotted in and each day knowing what I’m doing is moving me that much closer to my event… the new challenge.

I miss it. I miss it so much right now, not being able to have something I’m intentionally training for.  Yes, I workout for my mental sanity, my health, and continued fitness goals. But I miss the focus of training for a big race or event.

I think this endurance thing is in my blood now and I want to keep digging deeper into it  taking on bigger challenges and new goals.

What about you? Does the idea of running long distances make you twitch? Or feel alive? Do you love having something to train for? Do you enjoy multiple athletic activities?

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The Beauty Of Empowerment

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I’ve always loved words. I was a book worm as a kid and still enjoy getting lost in a good book. Today reading isn’t just in conventional book form but often takes place on my phone when I’m out on the go too.

There is always something to read that can entertain, inspire, teach, or simply amuse me.

It’s not a huge surprise then that there have been words along the way that I have attached to myself like invisible sticky notes that are “life” words to me. Words that have a depth and meaning to how I live, or to remind me of who I am, or what I’m about.

One word was strength. In fact, it became so full of meaning to me that I made my first commitment to a tattoo when I had it put on my body.

Not just physical strength, but mental, spiritual, and emotional. Life has forged a strength in me and it has become one of “my” words.

The other, last year, courage. It became the beautiful focus of my second tattoo. To live life takes courage. To go through trials, difficulties and pain, takes courage.

Another word that resonates with me, and has for awhile is the word empowered (actually that word in it’s various forms… empowering, empower, etc)

Here’s the definition for empower…. “enable… to promote the self-actualization or influence of”

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These past few years I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve accomplished things I never thought I’d do. I’ve taken on things that were larger than life to me.

And  I did them. And each time I accomplished something new … it was empowering. And empowerment builds confidence, and an empowered, confident woman feels like she can take on the world.

It builds a “don’t mess with me” take no prisoners attitude.

And I’ve realized how much I want to share and convey that to others… but the crazy thing is… it’s not something I can just “bestow” on someone .

The word empower is a verb. It requires action from us. To be empowered we must be active in what we want to achieve.

It requires a certain amount of reckless abandon to what we’re doing. It requires us to shut down the “sensible” part of our brain that questions what on earth we are thinking? It will mean getting out of our comfort zone. Often it’s taking on a task that seems quite formidable. I’ve found, those are the best places to be.

Let me give you an example. After I ran my first half marathon the question came… “so now you’re gonna run a full one, right?”

“Uh.. no. You realize that’s 26.2 miles right? No. Other people do that not me.”

Then I ran my second, third, and it was only after my fourth that I walked away with the idea in my head… I knew it was time… time to consider a full marathon.

I made the commitment to it and early on I had the thought go through my head… “oh my gosh… a marathon? Like… 26.2 miles??? Will you be able to do that?”

And I pondered my sanity….

And then… I quickly, swiftly, stomped those thoughts down and never let them rise up again. You cannot allow thoughts like that when you are attempting something so much bigger than you.

You cannot allow those thoughts to rule you or somehow convince you that you aren’t enough, or don’t have what it takes… if you do… you lose.

I trained hard. I trained conservatively with my goal to do it and successfully finish. And finish I did ( in 5:23) on an unseasonably hot November day that topped 89 degrees…brutal was an understatement.

And yes, when I crossed that finish line, with sunburn marks, sweat drenched, mentally and physically exhausted with legs begging to stop moving, I had never felt more victorious or empowered in my entire life.

I did it. I didn’t back down. I didn’t listen to the “voices”. I didn’t convince myself I couldn’t do it.

It takes those times of empowerment to show us we are capable of so much more than we often think we are.

You.. my reading friend… what are you thinking of doing? What thing seems larger than life, yet scares you to do?

Stomp down all the reasons why you think you can’t, don’t listen to the “voices”, and dive with reckless abandon into that thing which will empower you like nothing else.

You’ve got this.

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Running, Passion, And Vision

Running. I just feel like talking about running.

Maybe because I was out for about 4 miles yesterday morning and I was reminded how much I love it. And how much I miss it. And how irritated I am with this stupid injury that seems to hold me back from the potential I know that’s in me.

I’m not talking about my injury in this post.

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I want to just talk about the joy and freedom I have in the act of something so simple that we’re all born to do.

How do we lose the ability? the desire? the joy? of breaking into an open run, feeling our bodies surge under us as our legs kick in and the scenery goes flying by ?

When do we become to old, to tired, to lazy, to disinterested to run like kids ?

But then sometimes, later on, we stumble back upon it again.  We gingerly test out the legs and find out they are still capable of performing that task.

For myself and many others, once again, we find ourselves embracing the joy of running in sometimes an often child like way.

Just for the sheer joy and beauty of being able to do it.  

 

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To feel the wind and sun in your face or the bite of a cold morning .  To embrace being out in the dark for a long run or doing speed work that makes you feel just a little bit …crazy for doing it. The feel of your heart beating strongly and your lungs deeply taking in air, sweat forming on your body, the sound of your feet against the road.

To nail a 20 mile run…  and actually enjoy the tired ache of your body…. and the victorious feeling in your mind of accomplishing it.

Maybe the thing I’ve loved about running is how you’re always competing against yourself and how you can always step up your game… just a little bit more……

Running has been good to me.

In the beginning, it was definitely helpful for weight loss. In time, it began to carve and chisel muscles in my body I had only formerly thought existed.

It became my time to think, roll creative ideas through my head, process life, let anger and frustration out, and sometimes, it allowed me to cry and grieve at some of the agony in my life.

Running became my passion.  I didn’t see it as a chore or something to be endured, but a gift and a privilege to be able to do it.

I laugh and love it when my friends tell me I’m crazy or nuts, or make all those silly runner jokes.

You  know why ? I LOVE doing stuff the majority of people around me aren’t doing.

As time went on and my distances grew from short 10K runs, to setting my eyes on a half marathon, then full marathons, it never entered my mind that, I , little old me, would be a distance runner.

Seriously????

Yet, one thing led to another. A bigger challenge. A new goal. A new opportunity to challenge myself to something beyond my comfort zone.

Needless to say when I set my sights on a 50K last year, that was an adventure that had many asking me if I had lost my mind.

And trust me, if I allowed myself to slow down to much and reallllllyyyy think about it… I too began to see the insanity of running that many miles. And not just that race, but all the training that led up to it, all those training miles under me to get to that point.

Things like that are best not looked that close in the eye.

That’s the deal when you’re a distance runner. You don’t think. You just do it.  You get out there, let your body settle into a rhythm and you just…. go.

And besides all those things… besides getting strong and healthy and fit and being called crazy… running makes me feel ridiculously…. alive…. powerful…..strong…. confident… and makes me feel like I can take the world on.

I don’t think that’s a  bad thing, do you ?

So my struggles right now… it’s hard… so hard being kept in check physically with a injury that just won’t….be gone..

And wrestling with my mind that knows what my body is capable of, has done, and wants to get back to doing again…. is well… sometimes torturous.

I miss it in the worst way.

But get this… I don’t give up easily. And my mind is plotting and planning and anticipating all it wants the body to get back out doing.

Goals. New adventures. New chances for my friends to tell me I’m crazy and insane. New opportunities to prove to myself I can do something bigger and a little more fierce.

In between times, I’m tearing up the road on my bike with long miles and lifting heavy things to keep strong… and keeping my eye on growing my running distances.

Passion. It’s a good thing to have in life, right ? We all need to be passionate about something… it makes our heart beat fast and invigorates us … hopefully it challenges us as well making us feel alive.

Tell me… what’s your passion? What makes your heart beat fast and makes you feel invincible ?

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My 2015 Year In Review

So we’ve just wrapped up 2015 and are a few days into the brand new year. You don’t have to look far to see magazines featuring stories like:

“The Best Of The Year”, “People Of The Year”, or ” Things That Amazed Us” or some sort of various titles. All of them show casing people or events that highlighted the year… often featuring celebrities or major events.

Then I realized, hey, I’m not famous or anything but I had some really cool stuff happen in 2015. Well, cool stuff and hard stuff but that’s life, right ?

I daresay, if you look back at your year, you could say the same thing. We don’t have to be celebrities to have awesome things happen that are worth sharing or shouting from the roof tops, (nod your head yes 😉

So, humor me if you will, my year in review.

January found me coming out of finishing my second marathon in December dropping my time to 4:52 from my previous (first) marathon the year before I did in 5:23.

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Moments after the finish of my second marathon Dec 7, 2014

 

I had also turned 50 and decided I was going to run a 50K to celebrate that milestone sometime in my 50th year. I committed to it in January with the race date set for March 1. My training continued with my goal focused on the biggest race I had ever considered. My friends called me “crazy” and “insane” … I can’t think of better compliments 😉

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When you make something public… you’re really committed to doing it 😉

 

 

Sadly, and unfortunately, the Dallas/Ft Worth area had turned into a slushy, snowy, winter wonderland during race weekend. By Saturday night they had cancelled all races but the half marathon for Sunday morning.

I was beyond devastated. To get to that point… to have invested so much time training… to be so mentally and physically prepared… was crushing.

I cried. I won’t lie. I cried that night. I cried that morning watching them discuss it on the early morning news as I prepared to go run (at least) the half marathon.

I will admit to biting back tears waiting in my corral to start the race (freezing) …my “Ultra Marathon” bib standing out in stark contrast to all the half marathon bibs surrounding me. I remember smiling politely as a guy joked with me that this race would just feel like a “warm up” run for me.

But I didn’t go all that way to run and not do…. something….. it was certainly new territory for me as I had trained in everything I could… except snow and ice…

they had cleared the course as best as they could but the roads were wet and ice patches were everywhere and there were many points of dodging piles of slush. It was misty raining and about 35 degrees.  I finished in about 2:19. Not my most impressive time, but I did it. I had never been more cold or emotionally drained than when I finished that race.

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Clutching my hard earned medal in the frozen tundra 😉

 

I can pretty well say, I don’t think a hot shower had ever felt better afterwards.

 

Mid-March I had already planned to run a spring half marathon that was close to home for me. So two weeks after my frozen half marathon in Dallas, I was enjoying a romp through the downtown streets of San Antonio… in much warmer weather.

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On course in the last couple miles of the Alamo 13.1 half marathon

 

 

After returning home the race committee sent an e-mail that ultra and marathoners who hadn’t been able to race could do a virtual race (within that month) and still get all their runners goodies. I was down for that. So I picked a date and with my husband waiting for me at an appointed time I took off for my own 50K running adventure… on my own training territory.

It was a much nicer day to do it….

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Yes, still standing after finishing my first 50K =)

 

 

I will tell you this… I have never been more tired or physically exhausted in my entire life. 31.7 miles can do that to you 😉

But I’d never felt stronger or more empowered in my life. Doing something that is so huge, and so much bigger than you are shapes you into this iron willed creature. It makes you feel like you can take on the world.

Although.. I wondered if I’d be able to crawl into the shower once I came off my “high” haha

Ok… so yeah if you’re counting that’s two half marathons and a 50K Ultra marathon all in March. And I don’t forget my marathon from a few previous months before.  Not bad for a girl who started off just walking 2 miles at night a few years before…

April was a bittersweet time for me as I dealt with my Mom being gone for a year. Life is a mixture of all things… and grief is a process that must be worked through. She was so proud of all my running adventures.

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Christmas 2013. The last with my mom.

 

 

In May I was privileged to celebrate another anniversary with this amazing guy….31 years….give the guy a medal for handling me… haha…he admits to not being able to handle me 😉 My cheerleader, friend, supporter, one who has been with me through so much. I love him.

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This guy. I couldn’t do all the crazy stuff I do without his support and encouragement.

 

 

Unfortunately, after lots of training ( nearly 1,000 training miles in 7 months)  I picked up a pesky injury that sidelined me off running for awhile… to long… but I’d rather play hard, hit big goals, than sit back not trying.

This is how I felt about that….

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This shirt… perfectly expresses my feelings….

 

 

June brought unexpected difficulties to our lives as my husband was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. We worked and pushed through and tried not to let it define our lives as he went through all the tests, surgery and procedures that had to be done. He was so amazingly strong. We are thanking God that he was able to go back to work and is on the road to a full recovery =)

For my birthday in July, I picked up my second piece of artwork that I positively love….this has such deep meaning to me… courage to stand in life… to remember that life is not only beautiful but comes with pain and to be courageous in the face of it. Life can require me to fight back… to be courageous in battles and difficulties.

The piece that surrounds my wrist says “strength” on the other side that you can’t see.  Life has demanded much strength from me in these past few years… it is a life word to me.

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“Courage” my second piece of artwork. I’m in love with this.

 

 

And while we we’re moving through our year, we were also preparing for a wedding. My middle son was getting married in September to a beautiful young woman we love. There were details and arrangements and plans to be attended to.

In the end… they were married…and it was a gorgeous wedding with a stunning couple ( I am NOT biased at all haha)

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My son and his lovely bride =)

 

 

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Celebrating with hubby

 

 

I’d say both families felt successful when it was all over and everyone had a good time. I think I danced most of the night in my 4 inch heels. By midnight, it was time for them to come off 😉

I’m still adjusting to knowing…. I’m a mother in law…. I have a new daughter…. and I have a married son… the ring on his finger constantly reminding me.

And wrapping up the year… another amazing Christmas with my sweet, precious and beautiful family.

And I’m blessed to celebrate 33 Christmas seasons with my partner in crime.

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Another Christmas with my partner in crime

 

 

He always makes Christmas so wonderful for me. And yeah, I’m in shorts. It was a pretty warm Christmas day for us in Texas and since I was cooking and living in the kitchen… it was definitely more comfy!

Of course the year was full of other wonderful celebrations and events like birthdays and anniversaries and random fun moments.

There were up’s and down’s in the year. Normal days and days that made my tummy hurt. Days of laughter and days of tears. God was good to us.

I am grateful to have had an amazing family to move through 2015 with who celebrated joys and achievements with me.

Last but not least, I launched this, my blog, at the end of February. It had been a brainchild for awhile and I finally decided to get it out of my head and into the “real world”.

Thank you, all of you, wherever you are for taking the time to read me, support, and comment whether here or in person. It’s my goal in this upcoming year to continue to write with humor and fun but also to encourage, educate and inspire you to be the best “you” that you can be.

Now tell me… what big events are notable from your 2015 year ?