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”.

 

 

 

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I May Resemble Stubborn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

perseverance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m stubborn like that.

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

 

Your Schedule And Exercise

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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.

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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 ?

~

The Madness And Fear Of Endurance Sports

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

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

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

What… on earth.. am I doing in it ?

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

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

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

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

It’s definitely a love/hate relationship.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The “what if’s”……

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then it happens.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Getting those miles in……

The 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 ?

 

 

 

The Accidental Cyclist

It came up again in casual conversation as it almost always does….

“So, when did you start cycling? I guess you’ve been at it awhile?”  ( you can also interchange “running” as well with these questions)

Ok, I’ll admit I love the opportunity to share sports I’m passionate about especially if it encourages someone to want to get out and try it. It’s obviously  fun for me when the person is involved in whatever activity  and we can “talk shop”.  I use those times to pick brains and learn more from someone who might have more experience in the field than I do.

So when the question came up I shared  I had only gotten my “real” racing bike a year ago but there was a catalyst that propelled me to that because before then I felt like…

A Wanna Be Biker Chick

I usually back up to the fact that running is my passion, and as passions go I had thrown myself whole  heartedly into my love and also picked up an injury that had majorly side lined me from my passion. (Heavy training for a marathon, straight into a 50k… but it was so worth it)

I had a bike, a cheap little mountain bike, that I used for cross training days when I’d give my legs a break from running. There were honestly weeks that went by I didn’t see the bike. I loved running. I didn’t consider myself a cyclist. I was a runner.

bike pic
My mountain bike that would start it all…

 

I was at Walmart one day and realized they had cheap little “road” bikes for sale.

Ahhhh perfect I thought. This will get me moving more on the bike and I can maybe start training for “something”.

A road bike was, for me, an upgrade from a mountain bike.  I still did not see myself as more than a casual bike rider. But none the less, I started packing some miles on it. About my only nod to looking like a cyclist was wearing a helmet ( for heavens sake…always…wear a helmet no matter what)

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See. I told you. Nothing but running gear, a helmet, and my trusty road bike from Walmart.

 

I’d see “real” cyclists flying down the road in their sleek clothes, bright helmets, feet clipped into pedals, on bikes that were the price of a good used car and think those are REAL cyclists….

I still felt like a wanna be biker chick.

I took my trusty new road bike to a local shop in town for a “tune up” before I started pushing more miles on it.

The tune up cost me what the bike did.  Seriously.

By that time I had been logging some real miles, using it as a substitute to fill my craving for all the  miles I wasn’t getting on the road running. I was already entertaining the very lofty goal of the duathlon if my feet would just heal up already.

I shared this tidbit with Mr. Knowledgeable Bike Shop Man … he nicely said..” I don’t think this bike is going to work for what you’re wanting to do.”  He then of course started showing me nice pricey little bikes he had available and I just thought he was trying to upsell me and make some money.

Ah. Little did I know.

A year rolls by…..

I had been seriously abusing my little bike. I was logging anywhere from 45-55 miles a week on it. I was getting hooked. I still had my duathlon dreams lurking in the back of my mind and the bike gave me the adrenaline of miles without beating my body up.

As things happen in life I came across a nicer road bike for re-sale. I had taken it in to another bike shop to have them look at it and to see if it would fit me (when you have a long body and long legs you gotta consider these things!)

Of course, the bike was to small for me.

As luck would have it, he had a bike that would fit me perfectly. He wheels out this bright, shiny red  Cannondale that looked like the equivalent of a sports car to me. With a few tweaks and adjustments he hands it over to me telling me to “take it out for a spin”.

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So pretty… just waiting for miles….

 

I am hardly dressed to ride that day in slim fitting black pants and combat boots but he didn’t have to tell me twice. It only took minutes in the saddle to feel the difference and know this was a game changer.

This would help me get to my goals.

As I came zipping back in feeling like a kid with my hair flying everywhere ( the only time I rode without a helmet) I knew I had to have that bike.

Yet still nagging in the back of my mind… you aren’t reallllyyy a cyclist….

The bike was on sale. He had a limited number. I left that day and basically started selling random possessions no longer needed and squirreling that money away. Within a month I had not only the money for the bike, but also for cycling shoes ’cause I was doing it all.

I was getting the racing bike and shoes to clip in.. geez I thought running shoes were expensive!

As luck would have it, when I got to the bike shop he had one left. He has told me over and over how glad he is I got it, that it was still there for me.

He (still) tells anyone in the shop when I’m in… “DUDE! She was riding 50ish miles a week on a Walmart bike!”

To which I get looks that you would receive if you said you had just hiked the Himelaya mountains… one does not simply ride that many miles on a Walmart bike.  I have sense learned… things fall apart on them at the most inopportune times… like when my handle bars started turning every which way but loose and I had like 5 miles to keep riding back trying to hold them in place. Good times. They are designed for spins around the neighborhood with your kids but not beating the life out of them 25+ miles at a time.

Maybe I am a cyclist…...

Hanging out in a bike shop talking with like minded people who don’t think you’re crazy, who are ridiculously smart on the topic, and push you to your athletic goals is a cool thing. I realized that they completely considered me one and were willing to help and teach me things ( as in learning to change a tire)  I was in recently talking about my training and he referred to me as a duathlete and I looked around thinking he meant someone else.

I told hubby later and he was like… “uh… you ARE a duathlete.”

 

We just celebrated our one year anniversary together.

No. Not me and the hubby, me and the Cannondale that is. I’ve put over 1500 miles on it which compared to some riders, isn’t a lot, but for me it represents lots of training miles, lots of discipline and learning new things. I’ve become stronger and more confident in what I’m doing. I take it in frequently for it’s free tune ups and to talk bike stuff with people who still know more than me. Since I have (officially) signed up for my first duathlon which is in November, I have a team at the shop that will make sure my bike is in top condition for the event. That’s kinda cool, I think.

So I’ve been burning up the road. A wounded runner turned cyclist…turned duathlete…maybe I really am one now….

But I’m more of a rebellious, nonconforming cyclist……

First, I break all cycling rules by acknowledging another cyclist who’s sailing by me. I mean… we are passing each other… can’t miss one another… but I’m always blown away at how many seemingly look right through me. Runners are so different on this score… in the cycling world I think it’s some unwritten law to not acknowledge each other…

I do have more gear now. The helmet of course. I just got a cool new Giro a few months ago. Of course I have their cycling shoes as well and even though learning to clip and unclip and all that goes with it was a learning process, it definitely helps deliver a lot more power on the bike. Now I can’t imagine not riding clipped in.  A lot different than riding in my running shoes from a year ago!

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Ok, maybe I do get a little excited over new gear 😉

 

But you will most likely find me on these warm days in nothing more than my sports bra and my running shorts. Yeah, my running shorts. I do have cycling shorts but training for a duathlon and having to run, I find my running shorts work better. So I’m training like I will race. Although, November is gonna come around and change things up 😉

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A lesser known thing about cycling, learning to perfect your selfie skills on the bike 😉

 

Cycling can get crazy expensive so I invested into the stuff that matters ( a good bike, shoes, helmet) and I fly on the cheap with the rest of it. I love some of the cute cycling kits available but prices on them are crazy so… until I get a sponsor for my fav’s … I’ll keep trolling Ebay for cute ones with good deals 😉

I am a cyclist.

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Cycling girl. And in my most recent acquisition from Ebay. How cute is this jersey??

 

 

The “wanna be biker chick” idea left a long time ago.

Even if I accidentally stumbled into the world of cycling, I’m here. I’m in it. I’ve found another sport I actually enjoy and it turns out, I’m pretty good at.

As the guys at the bike shop tell me “You wanna be better? You spend more time on the road. You ride. You push yourself. You learn.”

So I continue the journey, on foot and bike. constantly grateful for the opportunity to do both and excited to see where I can go from here.

With open roads, the challenges are unlimited.

Tell me, have you accidentally stumbled into something only to find a new passion?

The Thing That Scares You

“Fear will either create you or destroy you.”

afraid

I hadn’t been in long from my morning workout, recovery drink in hand, when I finally landed in a chair and searched up the race I had started training for.

I ran my hand down my legs which were still gritty and grimy from time out on the road and covered in a heavy dose of dried salt …a shower would come soon but first…

My  running and cycling that morning had been a part of my training for a local duathlon… my first duathlon.

Of course the fact it was listed as “the toughest in the state” or that it was the “championship race” for this  type of event somehow hadn’t scared me off yet.

The website boldly unfolded in front of me… pictures popped  up of familiar scenery I was used to seeing out on my runs or cycling adventures.

I felt the excitement stir in me of taking on something new and challenging.

It was immediately followed by tears as I watched young, fast athletes speeding by.

Tears.

What was I thinking?? I’m skating into territory I have no experience in nor am I one of these young trained triathletes. I’ve never, ever done an event like this. I’m crazy.

For the love of chocolate, I’m an ordinary middle aged Mom/grandmother, what I am thinking??

This course is tough. I have a healthy dose of respect/fear for it.

Not in a weird way, but just a respect knowing that it will be by far, the hardest athletic challenge I’ve gone through.

If I’m honest with you, as I was myself, there was that component of feeling scared.

But…why?

What was scaring me? What did I feel afraid of?

terrifying

Ok, yes I understood it would be crazy hard. So maybe there was feeling scared of what if’s…

What if I couldn’t do it? What if I failed? What if I was last? Or worse, didn’t finish?

What. If.

I sat there comparing myself to younger athletes instead of giving myself credit for all I could do and was very capable of doing. I sat there forgetting my own strength and power that I had earned through hours and hours of training.

I lost sight of what I preach to everyone else… you are your competition. You only need to focus on your times, your speeds, your abilities.

No one else’s matter.

Unless you’re an elite. Then it matters very much hahaha 😛

I’ve never been concerned about anyone else’s times or paces. I don’t mentally pit myself against others and decide I’m lacking in some way so this was a foreign feeling to me.

I wiped my face which felt as gritty from dried sweat as my legs did… that shower would need to be soon….

I reminded myself that I was my only competition and if I never started, and never did it, and let some vague fear scare me off I’d never know what new levels I could take myself to.

I’ve had moments in the past as I considered the marathon, and then the 50K. If those don’t raise a tiny bit of feeling scared in you, I don’t know what will.

Thing is, I never, ever allowed myself to camp in the fear zone. I stomped it down, trained, and did it.

So here I am. Registration is now open and I’ve made the official commitment.. you know…. coughing up the money 😉

I know it will be hard but I’m looking forward to seeing how I can do with this. I’ve taken time to remember, I haven’t come out of an athletic back round but only started when I was in my mid 40’s and consider all I’ve been privileged to do.

Doing it is the thing. No matter what, when I cross that finish line, I will win.

I win because I stomped down fears and feelings of inadequacy and I will have accomplished something I’ve never done and I will be stronger for it.

It beats sitting around wondering if I COULD do it and missing out on all I learn in the process. Rest assured, you will be getting updates on my training in the upcoming months. Race day is Nov. 19.

So I’ll leave you with this…

Do you let fears hamper you from pursuing something bigger than you? Have you allowed them to and not gone after something you wanted?

Or… have you stomped down fears and chased something down you wanted? How did you feel?

What did you do to remind yourself you could do it? How did you overcome it?

Tell me I’m not the only one who’s encountered this 😉

“Every single one of us possesses the strength to attempt something he isn’t sure he can accomplish.” ~ Scott Jurek