Thursday, August 30, 2007

Remember When

"If you want to learn to swim jump into the water. On dry land, no frame of mind is ever going to help you." ~Bruce Lee

Well, it's true. When we change, other things do too.

The past nine months have included lots of swimming - over 106,500 yards each of drills, speedwork, long sets, breathwork, open water. For Robyn, it's meant learning a completely new skill and facing some big fears. This morning, the alarm rang at 5:00 am and ushered in the longest swim workout yet: 2800 yards. A fun, strong, and speedy 2800.

Remember when 1850 felt long?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Howling at the Moon

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.... It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow." - Melodie Beattie

After 8 months and over 450 hours of swimming, biking, running, weight lifting, and practicing yoga, we're nearing the end of our last big volume training block. Five weeks until our goal race for the year.

Over the past two weeks, we've completed our final three lactate threshold tests, with the goal of using these results to help with pacing for race day. Although, these "tests" are simply sources of information that we can learn from and use to improve, it's hard not to see them as good/ bad triathlete benchmarks: Are we improving? How much? Is it as much as we thought/ wished/ wanted? Is all this effort worth it?

The results have varied: Some days Robyn has cut huge time and felt like absolutely everything clicked. Some days, Ray has seen big progress and been the faster one of our training duo. Some days we're simply consistent. Some days we're slower and frustration looms, just waiting for us to accept.

This morning we met at track for our 3 mile run test. Ray had one of her best runs of the year, while Robyn had one of her hardest -- but the memory of the day will be our companionship: running in dark, awaiting the sunrise, and howling at the full moon still high in the sky. Lots of big and small tests are present in our everyday lives, but for moments like these we are grateful.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Recovery Calories

"One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. " ~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story

Throughout this year, we've joked about the sheer volume of food we consume during our high intensity training weeks. In the week following our big race, we'll be eating for a special reason - supporting Genesis Home - and we hope that our Triangle friends will join us.

What: Durham's Downtown Dinner Table - Food, wine, music, auction all benefiting Genesis Home. Hosted by Dick Gordon, of National Public Radio's The Story.

When: Thursday, October 11, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Bay 7, American Tobacco Historic District

How Much: $50 per person. Tickets available here

Monday, August 27, 2007

Can you spare some change? - Part 2

Two weeks ago, we highlighted about an effort underway in Durham to encourage folks to give funds to organizations like Genesis Home - instead of panhandlers on the street. In Sunday's paper, correspondent Flo Johnston wrote about Rev. Gaston Warner's suggestions for compassionate response. In the story, Johnston discusses Warner's list of non-monetary items that are often useful to our homeless and hungry neighbors:

* Dinty Moore/Hormel meals
* Granola bars and prepackaged trail mix
* Vacuum-sealed bags of tuna
* Travel-sized toiletries, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush
* Plastic-wrapped napkins, forks, knives, salt and pepper
* Bottle of water or juice
* Toilet paper
* A bag of socks

Check out Duke Chapel's newsletter for Warner's full story.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Networking for Good

As we Tri to End Homelessness by raising funds throughout the year for Genesis Home, thousands of folks in their 20s and 30s throughout country have turned to social networking sites to find like-minded souls and gather serious dollars for a range of causes and organizations. Today's Wall Street Journal tells their stories.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Maybe WE Should Move to the Shelter

It's still really hot -- AND on Saturday morning, Robyn and Ryan's 25 year old air conditioning unit started making terrifying screeching noises before it pathetically conked out for good. It was 87 degrees INSIDE when Robyn woke up this morning. The tough swim workout was a welcome respite. The HVAC crew arrives this afternoon. Hallelujah.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

All Business

With seven weeks until our goal race for the year, it's all business from here on! Well, maybe not ALL business, but in that 'Git her done' spirit Robyn has added a new uniform to ever changing repertoire. It arrived in the mail yesterday!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Mile Time Trial

"If I were to wish for anything I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of what can be, for the eye, which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating as possibility." - Kierkegaard

(As quoted in The Art of Possibility: Transforming Personal and Professional Life)

The alarm goes off at 5:30 am. Your first feeling is irrational fear. Your first conscious thought is "I don't want to do this."

But, just as you've done hundreds of times before, You.Get.Up.

You start the coffee pot, quickly dress, grab that cup of joe and a trusty PB&J, take one last long look at yourself in the mirror, and head to the track, where your coach awaits.

During your long supposed-to-be-slow 30 minute warm-up, your legs are already feeling a little tired. The tiny aches that have been simmering under the surface all week now feel crippling. Your heart rate seems unusually high and seeds of panic take root. The devil on your shoulder starts to say, "You can't do this today. Just call it off. Why are you going to put your self through this? What's the point?"

But, now it's time. The irrational fear has grown significantly, but you try to mask it by casually saying to your coach, "Oh, I'm a little nervous."

And then, you're off! Coach reminds you that this your opportunity to experience what lies beyond the threshold - your true capacity.

Our biggest fear is not that we are inadequate.....

The first two laps feel quick, real quick. You deliberately don't look at your watch and instead just try focus on turnover. The challenge feels so mental. The little devil pipes up again and you feel doubt. This is definitely faster than you've gone before. How can you possibly keep this up for two more laps?

A new feeling of panic is high in your chest at the start of the third lap. Rounding the second turn, you audibly groan "Oh, God." But then, lap four starts and you just have to hang on.

The fourth lap is a blur - just Don't.Give.Up you keep repeating. And amazingly enough, you don't. Instead, you cross the line and are shocked by the reading on your watch. You've just gone faster - significantly faster - than ever before.

Now, you KNOW. Your world, your limitations, your potential have shifted. And the next time the alarm goes off at 5:30 and you head out the door, you will think "I wonder what's possible today."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Can you spare some change?

"Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness."- Seneca

We've all had encounters with panhandlers in our communities - and many of us have felt compelled to give. Here in Durham, the Interneighborhood Council is initiating an education campaign to encourage folks to instead direct their donations to organizations, like Genesis Home, which are providing services that sustainably support folks as they move out of homelessness.

Although we've already exceeded our Tri to End Homelessness fundraising goal for the year, organizations like Genesis Home can always use your ongoing financial support. Can you spare some change?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Central Park Special

For the past week, Ray has been on vacation with her husband and in-laws - touring New York City, hiking throughout Bar Harbour, Maine, and eating lots of lobster in Nova Scotia -- all while attempting to keep up with tri training.

Our flexible coach, designed last week's plan around Ray's destinations - including a 1-mile time trial in Central Park. Here's what Ray wrote in her training log for that day:

I LOVE CENTRAL PARK!!!! What a great run today. I love Central Park and I thoroughly enjoyed my run! My mile TT was 7:50 but now that I've had some rest I think I could go a bit faster. It's just so hard to know how to pace yourself for just one hard mile. I've never done that before. Just when I was thinking holy crap this is really REALLY hard, it was over. The weather was only in the low 80's this morning and the sun was shining. Truly a great start to our long day of sight seeing (and walking on these tired legs!) in NYC! The best part was discovering that the tennis center had free showers, showering with no soap or towel, getting dressed and hitting the city with wet matted hair--talk about the hybrid life we lead!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Shifting Identities

“The value of identity of course is that so often with it comes purpose.” - Richard R. Grant

We wear a lot of different uniforms -- and lately, as we shift from identity to identity, we've been feeling like Wonder Woman, hurriedly shifting from attentive nurse to super heroine simply by trading her matronly whites for bulletproof bracelets.

The alarm goes off and the transformation begins. We wipe the sleep from our eyes and quickly move from Helpful Partners- coffee made, lunches ready, to-do list complete, laundry started - to Dedicated Fundraising Triathletes with the early donning of our speedos, caps, and goggles.

Swim is complete and we morph again from Dedicated Fundraising Triathletes into Real Life Professionals. Out of our tri bags come the accoutrement of our daytime personas - business casual attire, make-up, blow dryers, jewelry, and the occasional high heel. From behind the gym shower curtain, we emerge ready to take on the next part of our adventure. Few within the world of our Real Life Professional selves, truly know what superpowers we hold within.

Work ends and into the tri bag we reach again to revitalize the Dedicated Fundraising Triathlete within - sometimes changing inside the sanctum of Real Life Professional (the office, the car, the office bathroom) and emerging anew. Bike shorts, jersey, bike shoes, helmet, and our very own bulletproof bracelet -The Road ID - on, and we're off!

With the evening workout complete, we return home and our Helpful Partner selves reemerge as we shower and dress in the evening uniform of well-worn race t-shirts, well-loved stretchy pants, and sports bras we never seem to get out of.

Each day we awake with the power to shift from identity to identity -- a Choose Your Own Adventure of "Who do I want to be and What do I want my life to be about today?" Just as triathlon has helped us find that freedom, the staff at Genesis Home help homeless moms and dads envision new identities for themselves. We all have that power within.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Tri Newbie Shout Out

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”--Henry David Thoreau

Today we're sending a blog-love shout out to our friend Leigh S. who this week begins the official training program for her first triathlon: The Ramblin' Rose Women's Only Sprint. We'll be with her in spirit (and sometimes in the pool!) all the way.

For our other tri and endurance newbie friends out there, here's 10 Great Reasons why you should do a triathlon too!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Dog Days of Summer

It ain't the heat; it's the humility.” - Yogi Berra

It's HOT. Really, really, really hot -- and hazy--- and humid -- and hot. This morning it was 80 degrees when Robyn left for her run at 7:00 a.m. and according to the weather forecast, we're looking at near 100 degree days every day this week.

Luckily, we're entering a rest week after completing the last three weeks of force work, so we'll be seeking a lot of air conditioned respite. Thanks to a group of housing advocates and human services providers, folks that are homeless will be able to do the same. Members of the White Flag Network hang flags at the doors of their shelters on days when the heat index exceeds 100 degrees. This flag signals that the shelters are open during the day - instead of being closed as they usually are - for anyone who needs some cool shade.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


“You can’t talk your way out of what you’ve behaved yourself into.” - Stephen Covey

...But boy would it have been easy to talk ourselves out of yesterday's plyometrics track workout and this morning's long force swim.

After over six months of training early in the morning, late at night, in the dark, in the cold and in the heat, when we're excited, when we're bored, and when we just don't feel like it.... accountability keeps us going .

  • We're accountable to EACH OTHER! Neither one of us would have wanted to do the last six months of training alone. Even though we usually workout at the same time / place once a week, we know that the other one is always with us in spirit (...and on the phone asking if we've gotten the day's workout in yet!).
  • We're accountable to our husbands. We made a decision to spend a significant amount of time training this year - and that without the on-going support of our sweeties, that time would be taking a significant toll on our relationships. Following through with what it takes to achieve our goal, makes the time spent in training worth it.
  • We're accountable to our coach. While it's sometimes all to easy to let ourselves down, we know that she is checking in on us -- and that's a powerful extra set of eyes.
  • We're accountable to our friends. Many of our friends have joined us on this endurance journey by training for their own races this year or by donating to Genesis Home in our names.
  • We're accountable to the families of Genesis Home. Because we are speaking on their behalf, we are compelled to do justice to their story. We expect them to hold themselves accountable to the goals they have for changing their lives - and we expect the same of ourselves.

Two months to go!