Thursday, May 31, 2007

Imminent Homelessness

We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” - Mother Teresa

A group of our neighbors are barreling toward homelessness.

Today's front page tells the horrific story of how people can be left behind and forgotten.

The Oak Hill Estates trailer park in Raleigh, NC has been condemned. Human waste is contaminating the water supply, rats are chewing through rental homes, garbage has not been picked up for weeks, and the people who live there are being told to leave. Most of us cannot imagine living in what can only be described as squalor - but these folks have no where else to go and have not harnessed enough collective power to force the landlord to change. Average rent in Wake County is over $700 per month and most of these residents can barely afford the $450 they are currently paying. Maybe some of them will find their way to Genesis Home.

We urge you to take a look at photos of Oak Hill Estates and advocate for increased access to affordable housing. This is not a developing country. This is our backyard. These are our neighbors. This is our community.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Nothing Like a Weekend

The only reason why we ask other people how their weekend was is so we can tell them about our own weekend.” - Chuck Palahniuk

After surviving last week's hectic schedules and training moodiness, this weekend was pure joy. Long rides, runs, and swims in the North Carolina late-Spring, 85 degree sun. Seeing all sorts of wildlife along the way. Relaxing in front porch rocking chairs. Listening to live bluegrass. Sharing supper with family. Being treated to a gourmet meal lovingly cooked by someone else. Spending time by a pool too small to do laps. Napping. Again. Taking the time to enjoy the moment. Heaven.

Here's to taking this attitude into one more high volume week ahead.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Choosing Which Voices We Listen To

Nobody trips over mountains. It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountain. ~Author Unknown

Why is it that high intensity weeks in training, work, life always seem to coincide (collide??)? The past two weeks have definitely been high volume, high workload, high stress, highly scheduled -- you name it! Then early this week, the voices started....

This season is really long. Can we really do this through October?
Everything hurts...mind, body, spirit.
Why are we doing this again?
Ignore the alarm clock. 10 more minutes won't hurt. Just cut your warmup..or a few yards.
One step is too much. One stroke won't matter. One stride gets us nowhere.

The voices just got louder, making Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week pretty tough to get through. Each workout barely got completed, without umph, without motivation, one uninspired lap at a time.

But by Thursday, a few others voices chimed in:

We're making a difference.
We're helping to tell stories that need to be told.
This really is FUN -- and gee, we're getting a lot faster.
Look at all of the amazing people out here running, swimming, and biking with us.
One step, one stroke, one stride, one day. One step, one stoke, one stride, one day.

Both sets of voices may be with us for the long haul, but each week we have a choice as to which ones we listen to. TGIF!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Gears and Cheers

After last week's tough several days of training, Ray and her husband Ray participated in "the bike ride where wine -ing is allowed!"

Last Saturday couldn’t have been a better day for a bike ride! It was unseasonably cool, bright, and sunny. Perfect weather for biking is tough to come by, but Ray and Dave thought that Gears and Cheers hit the spot.

The ride started at the Grove Winery just north of Elon University. They opted for the 40 mile ride and it was worth it! The ride included rural roads, lots of support, rest stops with especially friendly volunteers, and good snacks. Perhaps the coolest part of the ride was the rest stop at Chinqua Penn Plantation.

By the end of 44 miles both husband and wife were ready to be off their bikes, and arrived back at the Grove Winery for a delicious box lunch on the patio, live music, and of course a chance to taste some wine. Riders even got a wine glass to take home.

It’s safe to say that it was truly a perfect day: good company, gorgeous weather, tasty food, and a bit of training! Being the good fundraisers they are, both Ray and Dave felt especially good knowing that the proceeds from the ride would be supporting the National MS Society.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Glad That's Done!

"The only way to overcome is to hang in. Even I'm starting to believe that."- Dan O'Brien

Phew! It's been quite a week. Cycling, swimming, and running tests are now all complete - along with two other workouts in each discipline and three strength training sessions. We've been sleeping like rocks and eating like, well, like really hungry people!!!

In each of our tests / time trials we both reached points where we wanted to give up, where we had to decide whether we would chalk this one up as "just a workout," or whether we would dig in, accept the discomfort, and move through it. Luckily for us, test week also coincided with yin practice in each of our yoga classes. The yin style incorporates particularly long holds. As our coach says about yin in her latest blog post:

The mind goes through a very similar process in, say, a five-minute pigeon fold and a thirty-minute tempo interval. First you feel just fine. Then you start to feel the intensity grow. Then you wonder why you're doing this to yourself, and how you're going to make it through. Breath and form are key here; if you can keep them together, you'll make it to the end, pause to observe the effects, and feel really good about your experience. Physically, the yin style helps work in the deeper structures of the connective tissue that binds our athletic hips, causing all sorts of implications for our swim and pedal strokes and our strides.

So, this week, we chose to not give up. We chose breath and form. We chose to dig deeper.

Now, we're ready for a nap!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Test Week!

Do every day or two something for no other reason than you would rather not do it, so that when the hour of dire need draws nigh, it may find you not unnerved and untrained to stand the test.” - William James

After spending last week transitioning (read: lots of eating, resting, time with family, and celebrating Ray's successful completion of her MPH!) from our early season sprints to building for our fall Olympic distance race, we're turning up the volume again this week. That's right, we're back to serious base building -- and this time, our coach, has included some significant tests!

Early this morning, we completed a 10 mile time trial on our bikes in to gauge our speed and estimate our lactic threshold. Nothing gives us a sense of accomplishment like riding that hard before we settle into our "regular" everyday work. We walked into our jobs with the sense that we share a special secret!

Thursday and Friday will bring similar run and swim tests. Throughout the season, we'll refer to what we learn this week as benchmarks for measuring our progress.

Test week here we come!

Monday, May 14, 2007

You Never Know Who Might Be Homeless

None of us knows what the next change is going to be, what unexpected opportunity is just around the corner, waiting a few months or a few years to change all the tenor of our lives.” - Kathleen Norris

Late last week, Robyn had the honor of joining many of the families currently living at Genesis Home for Durham Bulls baseball game (our beloved hometown team). For many of us, a night at the ballpark with our families would be a special - but maybe not extraordinary event. However, for many of these families, this game was not only the first time they had ever been to a professional sporting event, but also a welcome respite from the daily grind and a time to just relax and have fun.

During the game, Robyn was talking with one mom and just knew that she knew her from somewhere. Turns out, that this woman worked at the car repair shop Robyn had visited about a month ago. The day was a busy one, Robyn was in a hurry, not in the best of moods, and bordered on being rude to this women - so much so, that she went up to the counter to apologize for her tone later on in the visit. The woman was helpful, professional, and had a great sense of humor about the entire encounter. No one ever would have thought that she was and is homeless . . .

Thanks to Genesis Home, she and her daughter have housing and a community of support while they work to get their lives back on track.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Using our Voices

"To see what is right, and not do it, is want of courage, or of principle." - Confucius

It was exciting to share information about the Tri to End Homelessness campaign with our fellow racers last weekend. This week, we're cheering for a fellow local homelessness advocate who used his voice talk with Congress about the need for additional services for folks who are characterized as "chronically homeless."

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

White Lake Sprint: Race Report - Part 2

If you've never been a spectator at a half-Ironman triathlon, we highly recommend it! The day before our race, we watched our coach take on 70.3 miles with grace, style, and determination. Watching fellow athletes push themselves to new limits was incredibly inspiring.

Throughout the day, we had several opportunities to talk about our Tri to End Homelessness campaign. We wore our "Ask me about Genesis Home" buttons and spectators were eager to hear more.

The water was choppy, the air was chilly, and the wetsuits were tight! For the first time, we started a race together - although super swimmer Ray moved to the front of our wave, while newbie swimmer Rob staked out her spot in the calmer back of the pack. The start horn went off and we fought the chop to the first buoy. Ray powered through the swim like a champ. However, because the water was rougher than she had promised Robyn it would be, she consciously worried about her sis. Thankfully, the worry was not needed. As Robyn slowly rounded the initial marker, she let out an audible "All right!" and had the distinct thought of "O.k. , I can actually do this." We pulled ourselves out of the water and ran through a long transition to hop on our bikes.

750 yards

Ray - 15:30
Rob - 19:38

Two super flat 7 mile loops in the wind. Our plan was to push the bike and try to average as close to 20 mph as we possibly could. We stayed in our aerobars and focused throughout the ride. Robyn could see Ray up ahead and thought she just might be able to catch her on the run....and then transition happened.

The bike to run transition was Ray's biking moment of glory. She successfully took her feet out of her shoes while riding in and gracefully dismounted into a quick run. Robyn also had this plan, but grace was apparently not on her side. Instead, her bike to run transition went more like this:

Right foot out, shoo! more to go....left foot out.....why is my bike stopping??....whoa....WHOA!!! shoe is caught, my shoe is caught.....o.k., I'm off my bike, super....guess I'm running this sucker in....only 100 yards or so..yikes, my legs hurt...and this asphalt doesn't feel so for the camera!

14 miles
Ray - 44:27
Rob - 46:08

*Note: Somewhere on the bike, Rob was hit with a 2:00 penalty that was added to her overall race time. She was consciously riding to the left so as not to draft off of the riders she was passing, but apparently, she slipped up somewhere along the bike route. Ugh....Hard to leave 2 whole minutes in the penalty box.

We've both been trying to lower our 5K times and the work is paying off. Ray PRed her run at 26:08 and Rob came close at 27:32. As usual, getting to the turnaround felt like it took forever, but also as usual, the elation when crossing the finish line never gets old.

Ray - 1:29:17
Rob - 1:38:30

Monday, May 7, 2007

White Lake Sprint: Race Report - Part 1

"Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.” - Unknown

Another fun and successful race in our 2007 season is complete! It's Monday morning and we're finding it hard to believe that at this time yesterday, we were working our way through the White Lake (or as our coach said, the White Cap) Sprint!

Robyn thrived in her first choppy open water swim, pushed harder than ever on the bike, and paid for it a bit with some cramps on the run. Ray felt solid (but not exceptional) during all three elements, mastered a new bike to run transition technique, and crossed the finish line a few minutes before Rob.

We both focused on the mental training we've been doing for the last several weeks and worked to stay positive throughout the race -- even when Rob completely blew her bike dismount and had to run in the bike an extra 100 yards!

750 yards, 14 miles, 3.1 miles -- check!

Pictures and additional reflection to come.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Change Happens

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” - Maria Robinson

Check out this follow-up story about Mike Kelly, a formerly homeless man, who not too long ago lived in the woods near Robyn and Ryan's home. He made the choice to change his life and received support in living out that choice from Housing for New Hope - a housing and supportive services program, similar to Genesis Home, that primarily works with single adults.
Mr. Kelly's story reminds us that today is always the day for us to begin living our dreams - whether they are intimately personal like his, professional, or running a 24 minute 5K!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Each one, Teach one

“Be an opener of doors for such as come after thee.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thanks to the generosity of our coach, yesterday, Robyn had the opportunity to join a group of Fleet Feet team triathletes for one last open water swim before competing in this weekend's upcoming race. Unlike Robyn who has been swimming for only one year, many of the athletes in the group have long and distinguish careers in triathlon - not to mention individual glory in running, biking, and swimming events.

The group met after work, wetsuited-up, and jumped right into a 30 minute swim at Jordan Lake. This being Robyn's second time ever in open water, the nervous swimming gremlins reared their ugly heads for a brief moment when she first took off. The water was dark, the temperature kept changing, this unknown group was pulling ahead....BUT, then she remembered breath and form, breath and form, breath and form and soon she was swimming up to meet the group at the turnaround buoy. A stranger reached out to say "Way to go, Robyn" -and she knew everything would be o.k.

We'll be looking for the Fleet Feet team to skillfully compete this weekend -- and the Tri to End Homelessness gals will be cheering them on!