Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Lost Excuses

"For many people, an excuse is better than an achievement because an achievement, no matter how great, leaves you having to prove yourself again in the future; but an excuse can last for life."- Eric Hoffer

I've lost my excuses.

Back when I used to exercise, finding an excuse not to was a regular occurrence.

Stayed up too late the night before? Let's just keep hitting the snooze alarm. I'll sleep in today and exercise tomorrow.

Too wet, too cold, too hot, too dry outside? Who wants to run in that. I'll skip it today and hope for better weather tomorrow.

Busy day at work? I have to be at work early / stay at work late. No time today. There's always tomorrow.

During yesterday's early morning run, on a Monday, before a busy day at work, in the pouring rain, after the alarm went off very early, after I'd already swam for an hour in the dark, before I'd later practice yoga for another hour, after pre-planning all of my clothing changes, preparing my first and second breakfasts and packing my lunch and afternoon snacks, I realized that all of my old excuses are gone.

One day at a time, every day, for the last couple of years, they've disappeared. Sure, there are still days when I don't want to, when I decide to spend time with my family or friends instead of my scheduled workout, when I listen to my body and take an extra day of rest, but those are CHOICES - not excuses - and I certainly no longer make them several days in a row.

Instead of welcoming obstacles, I now find myself looking for opportunities.

Stayed up too late the night before? Feet on the ground when the alarm goes off. I can treat myself to a nap this afternoon.

Too wet, too cold, too hot, too dry? Great! I'll stay cool, warm up quickly, feel so good when it's done. What clothing combination will work best?

Busy day at work? Let's set the alarm earlier today. It will be worth it this evening. Plan ahead. Clothes set out. Breakfast made. Lunch packed. Plans for dinner....CHECK.

The families that are successful at Genesis Home also know what it's like to lose their excuses. It's making a different choice, every day. It's looking back after a couple of years and seeing those daily choices strung together. It's watching your life transform.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Race Report: Franklin 5000

Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.” - Martha Graham

For the third time in three weeks, I raced on Saturday. This race came at the end of a week that while restful on the training front, was full of life stressors. The good news is that all of this racing has really helped with my typical pre-race jitters and, by the time Friday afternoon rolled around, I was in good spirits, eager to have my little sister Holly visit, and ready to run.

Despite the early start time (especially given the recommendation that we pick up our packets by 6:00 AM!), the Franklin 5000 was a beautiful 5K through quintessential Chapel Hill, NC supported by wonderfully enthusiastic volunteers.

Holly and I warmed-up together and then each ran our own races. For me, the race was about continuing to practice going out hard and attempting to find my pace. I ran strong throughout and stayed mentally focused. I again taped over the readout on my watch and heartrate monitor, but after seeing the reading at the end of the race, I realized that I was not running at my lactate threshold and physically could have pushed harder. Perhaps next time, I'll try running with my heartrate visible for an extra level of accountability. Practice, practice, practice....

After crossing the finish line in 25:35, happily greeted by sound of race crew cow bells and my coach cheering, I joined in on the finish line fun and cheered in Holly and our other fellow Sage Endurance teammates out running that morning.

The cure for a tough week? A beautiful morning with family and friends (giant post-race brunch included!) A solid 5K time. Winning my age group.

Final Results
3.1 miles
Age Group: 1/10 (Yay!)
Overall: 70/206

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My Intention: Let it Go & Lay it Down

"What is the purpose of my life/ If it doesn't ever do/ With learning to let it go..." - Jack Johnson, Go On

.... And then, your husband makes a joke about the whole string of incidents, you get a good night's sleep, you go for a great run, and you remember what's important.

So, I race again on Saturday. This time my littlest sister Holly will be joining me in running the Franklin 5000 5K.

It's been a frustrating few days to say the least. Instead of continuing to wallow in the world of UGH, my intention for the race is to harness all of my irritation - banged-up car, forehead hickey and all -- and then LET IT GO by laying down an all out 3.1 miles on well-rested legs. Then, I'll wipe the slate clean and enjoy the next 7 weeks, building to my first A race of the year.

Perhaps I'll start living this intention right now....

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

You know you're having a frustrating week when....

1. On the way to the pool this morning you side-swipe your own car by seriously scraping it up against the retaining wall bordering your narrow driveway.

2. Both pairs of your regular goggles break mid-workout.

3. In attempt to just get through your yardage, you pull out a pair of mask-like goggles (that leak), only to find at the end of your workout that said goggles have given you a giant forehead hickey.

4. You are just a few hours away from giving a presentation at a big conference....with a giant, red, blotchy forehead hickey. Lovely.

Did I really just say that despite external circumstances, "I can handle it - with grace"?

Breath and form. Perspective. Breath and form. Perspective. Breath and form.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Looking for the Easy Way

Life is not meant to be easy, my child; but take courage -- it can be delightful.” - George Bernard Shaw

99.99% of my life has been easy.

I was lucky enough to be born into an incredible family. School was always a breeze (well, maybe not calculus, but I made it through). I met and married my best friend and continual playmate. I've been professionally successful.

In short, there has not been a lot of heartache and disappointment. And for that I am grateful every day.

Knock on wood, knock on wood, knock on wood.

But then I started dabbling in endurance sports -- and they were/ are decidedly NOT easy for me. Not easy at all. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually? Becoming an endurance athlete continues to be TOUGH.

Saturday's race and bike workout, Sunday's exhaustion, and Monday's blahs (read: skipped both workouts on the schedule) reminded me of that.

Frankly, I'm really used to the easy way. I like the easy way. I'm good at the easy way And all this running, biking, and swimming makes me confront my life when it's not easy...and that irritates me and frustrates me and brings up all of my stuff and really makes me want to throw a tantrum.

Lovely and adult, I know.

....and then I watched yesterday's Boston Marathon and remembered that there is no easy way. Not for me, not even for elite athletes, and certainly not for the families living at Genesis Home.

Instead I have to sometimes admit when something is not easy, ask for help, listen to my body, and be patient.

Elite athletes, like the Boston women's 2nd place finisher (by a record 2 seconds!) Alevtina Biktimirova, have days when they give it their absolute all -- and it's still not enough.

And Genesis Home families have to truly take it one day at a time in order to transform their lives for good -- instead of changing them just for now.

Nope, not easy. Not gonna be. Find a way to be o.k. with it.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Tale of Two Race Reports: Wondergirl 5K

"It was the best of times. It was the worst of times." - A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

This Saturday my string of Spring races continued with the Wondergirl 5K. Capping off the end of a three week build, I looked at this race from two different perspectives. Here are a few notes from the day.

The Best of Times

  • Meeting fellow Team Stayput teammates! These gals have some BIG goals for the year. It's going to be inspiring to follow their progress.

  • Representing Goody at the Wondergirl Festival's Happy Hair Station.

  • Helping hundreds of elementary school-aged gals get the hair ready for their first 5K race.

  • Cheering on these same gals as they approached the finish line -- some with smiles, some with tears.

  • Being part of an exciting pre-race atmosphere that inspires girls to be their very best selves.

  • Trying out a new pre-race warm-up routine.

  • Having my coach there to cheer me on just a few short hours before she left for Boston to run her own little race.

The Worst of Times

  • How many different ways can one person feel TIRED? Physically, mentally, emotionally...CHECK. It's been a big three weeks and I woke up dreaming of the REST WEEK that lay ahead. Not exactly fuel for the PR fire!

  • Hilly course! Those elementary school girls made it through a tough first 5K.

  • Hot, hot, hot. Spring is here and the sun was out.

  • Knowing I had a 2-hour bike ride waiting for me at the finish line.

  • Running my slowest 5K in a long while: ~ 26:00 and change. Note me being passed at the line in the picture above! Oh, well...next Saturday brings another race!

Final Results

3.1 mi

26:08 (8:25 mi)

Age Group: 5/18

Overall: 109/233

Thursday, April 17, 2008

My Intention: Be Example-Worthy

"Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.” - Albert Einstein

My spring racing bonanza continues this weekend when I run the Wondergirl 5K.

This race benefits Girls on the Run of the Triangle and will be my first race as an official member of Goody's Team Stayput 2008. I'll be lining up with hundreds of elementary-school age young gals. Regardless of my time, I intend to run a race that they and I can be proud of.
Having positive examples and role models has been and continues to be a critical part of my endurance journey. My sister Rachel was my first endurance role model. Within her I continue to see the power of simply committing - every single day - to putting one foot in front of the other. This week, my role model is Rachel's husband David. Dave just completed his first 50 mile ultrarun with incredible determination and mental toughness. More impressive than his athletic gifts are Dave's personal attributes of humility, compassion, and constant encouragement.
The families currently living at Genesis Home also benefit from interacting with folks who are positive examples in our community. Interested in being a positive example for a child through Genesis Home's after-school homework assistance program? Contact staff to learn more.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Addendum: Valdese Sprint Triathlon

"Just 1 or 2 YEARS more of hard running..." - Sage Rountree

What a difference a year - and great coaching - makes!

Due to a timing malfunction at last weekend's race, I don't have completely accurate split times; however, the race organizers have clarified where transition times were added. If I estimate my transition times based on last year's averages, I'm even more pleased with my race results than I was earlier this week.

Swim (2008 / 2007)
250 yds
5:05 / 5:30 (Fastest avg 100 yd time in any tri to date!)

~1:00/ 0:55

9 mi
33:24 / 38:31

~1:00 / 1:01

3.1 mi
26:35/27:33 (Fastest 5K time in any tri to date! )

When my coach said the quote above after a frustrating race last season, I remember thinking 'YEARS....are you freakin' kidding me!!!!!!.... I have to continue training at this level for YEARS to see real improvement. '

Turns out that one YEAR went by a lot faster than I ever thought it would. Thanks Sage!!!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Race Report: Valdese Sprint Triathlon

"Happiness equals reality minus expectations” - Tom Magliozzi

Adjust your expectations.

That’s what I kept repeating to myself as the raging thunderstorm passed over Valdese, NC on Saturday morning and race organizers stopped and started and stopped and started and stopped and started my first triathlon of 2008.

I stood in line on the pool deck shivering, noticeably hungry several hours after my nutrition plan had allowed for, with tight, no longer warmed-up legs, and thought of how slick the hilly roads would be when and if I got through the morning’s swim.

Attack the bike? A solid intention given my preparation.
A realistic intention for the day as it was actually presenting itself? Maybe not.

Instead of allowing frustration to seep in, I simply focused on my breath, remembered that many more races lay ahead, provided a few tips to first time triathlete in line beside me, smiled and reframed. My new intention for the day became stay upright and safe.

After the thunder and lightening finally passed, the race was on. In an attempt to at least ‘think’ myself warmed up, I did a few sun salutation half-salutes on the tiny edge of the pool deck I had to myself. Once I jumped into the pool, I thought of my water aerobics friends and moved my legs underwater - gently kicking and raising my knees while I waited for my turn to push off the wall.

And then I was off --- finally!

After a conservative and relatively uneventful 250 yards later (I was passed once in the water – don’t worry I caught him on the bike! – and passed the guy originally in front of me), I was out of the water and about to see the transition area post-thunderstorm for the first time.

I tentatively ran along the wet, slick sidewalk and across the road to the transition area. My once perfectly organized set-up was thrown into disarray by the storm. Dirt, grime, and water covered my bike shoes, helmet, and sunglasses. The running shoes, visor, and race belt I would need later were also soaked and on the opposite side of the bike rack. I said “Oh, no” out loud, but quickly tried to shrug it off and get ready to ride

250 yd Swim + T1: 6:05 (Final splits not yet posted)

Out of transition, I smoothly mounted my bike, after struggling during my earlier warm-up ride and realizing that I hadn’t practiced a bike mount transition since last fall…oops!

On the hill immediately out of transition, I’m certain that my heartrate immediately spiked to at least high zone 4. Thankfully, my self talk worked beautifully and I was able to bring myself down and into a smooth rhythm. Despite the downpour and ongoing spitting, light rain, I felt confidant on the road. I kept my eyes peeled and WENT FOR IT.

I took each hill as it came and stayed aero for 90% of the ride. The hills that last year seemed nearly impossible,were not at all what I remembered. I was ready and I was having a GREAT, GREAT ride.

In the last third of the course, I came upon what looked to be a steep hill. I downshifted, said “You can do this” out loud, and then the Lord’s Prayer popped into my head. I repeated it three times. When I reached the top, I realized that I had just breezed through THE STEEP HILL that nearly made me cry last year. I smiled, said a quick thank you, and knew I had conquered the worst of the course.

However, God must have a sense of humor.

I turned the corner and my chain promptly fell off.

Luckily, this had happened just a few weeks ago during a training ride. I simply pulled over, dismounted, flipped my bike upside down, reloaded the chain, flipped the bike right side up and jumped back on. Calm, cool, and collected, I was off again in an estimated less than 75 seconds.

I regained speed, rode about 1.5 miles, and then saw the slick road claim a fellow racer as he went down in a horrible wreck. He landed on his back and slid across the road, moaning. I stopped and again dismounted to see if he was o.k. A few other riders and one driver also stopped. The driver let us know that he would ensure that the guy got the help he needed, so I jumped back on my bike and let the driver know that I would send the next police officer I saw back to the scene.

Shaken up, I focused on simply getting through the short remainder of the ride unscathed. Near transition I realized that my stomach was audibly growling. I ripped open the Chocolate Outrage GU I had taped to my tube ‘just in case’ and sucked down its tasty, caffeinated goodness to prep for running.

I arrived back at transition and unclipped early in order to give myself plenty of time to mentally prepare for a smooth dismount. After racking my bike, I grabbed my filthy visor and leaf covered race belt and took off.

9 mi Bike + T2: 33:24

I didn’t realize that my bike had been such a strong one until I started running. Then, my legs made it abundantly clear.

I focused on form and cadence, reminded myself that the bike had been my goal, and cheered for fellow racers along the course. Despite what felt to like a slowish run, I finished very strong across the line – happy and thankful that I’d successfully and safely completed my first tri of the year.

3.1 mi Run: 27:35

My most significant take away from this race is a new found confidence in my ability to remain mentally present and positive regardless of external circumstances – in triathlon and other areas of my life. Race delays, disheveled transition areas, mechanical issues, bike wrecks….challenges with my job, arguments with my husband, frustrations in the grocery line…. I CAN HANDLE IT, with grace.

I’m also incredibly pleased with my overall race results. In sum, I cut 6 minutes off of my time from last year’s race. 6 minutes!! In one year!! When the final splits come in, it's possible that I may have PRed each part of the race.

I also placed FIRST in my age group for the very first time. If I'm honest, THIS was my super-secret goal. Because rankings are truly not within my control, I really hesitated to think it, let alone say it out loud. But for a gal, who NEVER thought she would be first in ANY way, in ANY athletic event, this small note is very, very satisfying. I'm now set to race the full Try Sports Development Series and see how my overall rankings add up.

Perhaps best of all, I won an Ipod Shuffle in the post-race prize drawing!

These are the kind of results that provide serious motivation as I look forward to months ahead.

Special thanks to my dear friend and Burke County native Emily who provided excellent support and hospitality pre, during, and post race! What a fabulous way to start the season.

Total Time: 1:07:02
Age Group: 1/ 13
Women: 11/ 79


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Do More than Tri

Bad politicians are sent to Washington by good people who don't vote.” - William E. Simon

Giving to charitable organizations like Genesis Home that are meeting our neighbors' daily needs is incredibly important. Homelessness ends when folks have the skills and support they need to be permanently independent -- and Genesis Home provides those things to families every single day.

But, homelessness also ends when we have humane, forward-thinking, prevention-based public policies. Those policies are created by the folks we elect and - perhaps even more importantly - the folks we allow others to elect for us.

Just a few short months ago, I never thought that presidential primary fervor would come to North Carolina. Lo, and behold, it has!


We can register. Learn about the various candidates running for office this year. And VOTE!

In order to vote in the May 6 primary, folks need to register by THIS FRIDAY-- OR register on-site during the early voting period. Everything you need to know can be found HERE.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

My Intention: Attack the Bike

"What makes a great endurance athlete is the ability to absorb potential embarrassment, and to suffer without complaint." - Lance Armstrong, My Journey back to Life

While I certainly hope to limit the embarrassment factor and turn the potential suffering into joy, my intention for this weekend's race is to make it ALL ABOUT THE BIKE.

The Valdese Sprint Triathlon seems deceptively simple: 250 yd swim, 9 mile bike, 3.1 mile run.

The catch? The course is nestled in the North Carolina foothills and the bike leg has hills that make you question whether the fastest route to the top might actually be getting off and pushing instead of attempting to pedal at 4 mph.

Last year, this was my first race of the season, my first tri as a newly committed endurance athlete. I had so much FUN, I placed in my age group....AND I mentally checked-out on the bike.

This year, I know the course, have a new ride , improved muscular endurance (as this morning's 1:10 worth of zone 4 bike intervals tested!), and over two years of formal yoga practice under my belt. I'm stronger physically and mentally.

This year, hills be damned. I'm going for it. I'm embracing my edge. I'm saying YES, THIS IS LIVING...and I'm hoping that my legs will follow me to the run!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Oh, Goody!

God Can Dream a Bigger Dream for you... far beyond anything you could ever imagine.” - Oprah Winfrey

Endurance sports have truly taught me that anything is possible. Sub-8 minute miles, cycling alone for more than three hours straight, swimming more than a mile just a few months after I could barely swim a lap - they've all happened. And by breaking through those athletic barriers, I've learned that other perceived barriers in my life are also illusions.
When I started this endurance journey, I CERTAINLY never thought that I would ever be a sponsored-athlete. Turns out, that's happened too! I'm thrilled to announce that I've been selected as 2008 member of Goody's Team Stayput. Throughout this season, I'll be proud to sport Goody's logo on my tri gear and (continue!) to wear their thick elastics and no-slide headbands.
Just as endurance sports have helped me mentally stay out of my own way and focus on what's possible in all areas of my life, Goody's Stayput collection keeps my hair out of the way so that I can focus on going faster and farther.
In addition to loving Goody's hair products, I'm proud of the fact that they are a national sponsor of Girls on the Run, a non-profit prevention program that encourages preteen girls to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through running. The Girls on the Run curricula address all aspects of girls' development - their physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual well-being.
As a member of Team Stayput, I'll be supporting my local Girls on the Run chapter and running in their WonderGirl 5K on April 19.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Weekly Workout Wrap-Up (& Preview!)

Shew! Made it through about 10 hours of training and travel last week and am SO excited about the week ahead. Here's the story:

Monday - Rocket swim & and a glorious post-work easy run in the rain.
Tuesday - Lactic threshold bike intervals and yoga core work.
Wednesday - Speed work in the pool and run with pickups.
Thursday - Two-hour bike on the trainer (serious mental training) followed by yoga and a flight to Minneapolis.
Friday - Rest / work!
Saturday - Long run in a new city followed by an easy spin in the hotel gym and yoga.
Sunday - Rest and fly home.

I'm thrilled that all roads this week lead to my first triathlon of the year! This season, I'm competing in the Try Sports Development Series. I have several specific time goals-- but also hope to really see what I can do in my age group! I can't wait for Saturday.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

It's Tricky

"It's Tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that's right on time
It's Tricky...(How is it?)
Tricky (Tricky) Tricky (Tricky)
It's Tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that's right on time
It's Tricky...Tr-tr-tr-tr-tr-tricky (Tr-Tr-Tr-Tricky) Tr-tr-tr... " - Run DMC

Life's a little tricky this week....and the weather isn't helping.

It's an 11 hour training week, one week before my first tri of the year, local weather has been fluctuating more than 30 degrees in a day, and this afternoon I'm flying to Minneapolis for the next three days where snow is probable.

At the start of the week, the big questions were where, when, and how to get my long ride of the week accomplished. Monday (when it was warm..raining, but warm), I moved my work schedule around to accommodate a Thursday morning ride, found two buddies to meet up with, and thought I had my week all planned. By Wednesday, the weather forecast looked horrible and my friends needed to bail. Today, I woke up and forced myself to get excited about two solid hours on the trainer. Turns out, I would have been fine riding outside..chilly, but not wet. Ugh, opportunity missed.

The good news? Run DMC is still stuck in my head (This song always makes me smile), I think I got all of my gear packed for the weekend (running shoes, tights, Hammer Gel, water bottle, hat, gloves, sunglasses,...oh, yeah, work clothes..check), and the Minnesota weather is looking up (How do you northerners survive!?).

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I can't believe I joined Facebook!

"Words should be used as tools of communication and not as a substitute for action” - Unknown

Well, upon the urging of a dear college friend, I have officially jumped on board the social networking train and joined Facebook. I'm already connecting with some long lost friends - and have created the Tri To End Homelessness cause page. Join here and ask your Facebook friends to join too!