Saturday, June 4, 2011

June 4: Yeah!

  Amid a crowd of awed robins, screaming seagulls, a bird sporting a tuxedo collar, and one jogging squirrel, I completed a 5K this morning!  Woohoo!  I biked to the track, created a plan, and worked it.  I used a solid 50/50 combination of walking and jogging, and a ton of optimism, positive self-talk (both mentally and aloud), and good-humored distraction.  I'd like to say I used determination and perseverance, but I didn't need them today.  Today I was able to propel myself on sunshine and a lake breeze.


  I jogged way more than I ever have before, and with far less pain.  My knees and other joints didn't hurt.  Around the second mile, my chest and back tightened as my breathing became more labored, so I adjusted and kept going, and the tightness went away!  How about that!


  Lately I've been trying to think of a personal mascot.  Sea lion seemed the best, since I resemble one closely in shape and in how my body moves both on water and on land.  I also thought that kangaroos with their powerful legs and rather large backsides might be the way to go.  Although I made myself laugh aloud this morning when I tried picturing a turtle on a bicycle, I think a turtle might just be the one.  We both do well in the water, we move like trucks on land, and we've got some kind of wisdom deep within.  And I admit that I, too, probably look silly on a bike, from my lumpy bumpy back to the shell on my noggin.


  I'm delighted and relieved that I completed my 5K so easily this morning.  I worked hard, sweated hard, breathed hard, and still came away feeling strong and like I can tackle my day.  I've got a starting point; I know my muscles can easily move for that distance.  Now I've got to work on a.) going a little faster; b.) doing it somewhere other than a track; c.) doing it without music since the Pirate permits no earphones.  Oh, and doing it after a dip in the Lovely Lake and a 12-mile bike ride.  7 weeks to go!



Friday, June 3, 2011

June 3: A Real Fine Place

"Runnin' down dreams…

Stronger than any fear or doubt,

It's changing everything I see…

It's a real fine place to start." – Sara Evans 


  I got my bike back from the repair shop the other day: new saddle, new cables, new tires.  When I hopped on to ride home, I found that the saddle was raised so high that I couldn't touch the ground even with my tippy toes, so my only means of stopping was to gently crash into bushes.  My planned route home from the shop ended up ended up being an obstacle course – all the side streets I needed to use were closed to due construction!  So I kept taking different routes, looking for ways to keep heading north and east without having to stop unless there were bushes nearby.  J   


  As I got pretty close to home, I spotted a group of middle school kids walking together.  Great, just what I needed: a pack of kids who specialize in making fun of people (for some reason, in recent days I've been remembering hurtful things someone said to me in middle school).  Thankfully they didn't see me or my helmet dancing and pirouetting gaily on my head.  My stomach was in knots.  This inauspicious beginning to training for the bike portion of the triathlon ended with me crash-landing into the bushes next to our driveway.


  Even after my husband lowered the seat to a manageable height for me, I was still nervous about getting back on the bike.  He gave me a Gear Shifting tutorial and even practiced on the bike himself a little to show me that he understood my questions.  He then went to a meeting, and later arrived home to find me with a bowl of popcorn watching So You Think You Can Dance (I don't think I can dance, but I love watching these talented young people progress through the show).  My good and wonderful husband had the nerve to turn off the TV(!) and, over my whiny protests, cajole me into facing my bike again.


  Without letting him know how much I appreciated his strong encouragement, I went outside, hopped on the bike, and rode over to the parking lot across the street.  I rode in the lot cautiously at first, wide looping turns, experimenting with the gear shifts.  After a while it started coming back to me: I remembered what it felt like when I was a kid, cruising on my bike, pretending I was one of the Wonder Twins ("Wonder Twin powers, activiate!  Form of an eagle!").  I felt like I was flying.  I couldn't wait to do more.  I started thinking: from the time I was a little kid, I've loved to bike and to swim.  I've always been 2/3 of a triathlete!


  So I planned and prepared, and this morning I biked to the Y, then swam more than I'd need to for the triathlon (but I still need to work on strength and breathing), biked home, then made my way around our block doing a walk/jog combo. 


  What I learned in the last 12 hours is that I really do need to work on my jogging.  At best I'm an awful jogger – poor form, cramps in my side, tight upper back.  So I'm forming a training plan to help me get ready for July 24.  Heaven help me! 


  On my way back into home, I was thinking about how losing more pounds would make the jog somewhat easier.  After all, fewer pounds = less to carry.  And then my mind went click!, and I thought "Well then I'd better watch what I eat.  I'm really not going to want to carry ice cream and cookies on the jog with me."  A-ha!


  Oh!  And when I checked in at the Y this morning, my triathlon t-shirt was waiting for me.  On the back is that famous quotation attributed to Henry Ford:  "Whether you think you can or you can't, you're right."  I think I can learn to jog, and I think I'll have a grand time in the Pirate Triathlon on July 24.



Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass.  It's about learning to dance in the rain.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

June 2: Pirate Prep

  When I signed up for the Pirate Triathlon yesterday, I made myself sign up quickly because I knew that if I waited, I'd talk myself out of it.  Sure enough, by last night I was pretty close to being in a tizzy, and today I find myself smack-dab in the middle of a tizzy.  What'll I wear?  What do I carry?  How do I practice getting from the water onto my bike?  How will I bike up the hill?  Will I forget how to swim, fall off my bike, or become so chafed from jogging/waddling that I'll end up a DNF (did not finish)?


  Don't get me wrong – I'm really excited about the event.  But I like to be prepared, and I'd like to do my best, and I hope that my best will be somewhat respectable (ideally before the 2:00pm teardown).


  Will my wayward knee stand up to the stress of jogging?  Just how cold will the water be?  Will I be the only one not wearing a wet suit?  What if, blind as a bat without my glasses, I can't find my way to my bike?


  And just why, pray tell, did I think this would be a fun, adventurous way to spend a morning?  How did I not realize that I just signed up for almost eight weeks of a new brand of angst?


  I'm excited about the prospect of challenging myself and finding out if I've got this in me.  Every time I picture crossing the finish line (one way or another) I start to get choked up and teary-eyed.  Is it really possible that I could complete this?


  I've got a plan.  I've got two friends who are participating in the triathlon.  They're way better athletes than I, and I expect they'll be blazing the trail far ahead of me, but it'll be nice to know there are friendly faces out there, ready to drag my tired self home when it's over.  One of them has turned me on to a most appropriate book: The Slow Fat Triathlete by Jayne Williams.  I'm learning a bunch from it, including many more scary scenarios I never would have come up with on my own.


  In food news: the weekend had me falling (absolutely threw me) off the wagon, but I'm finding my way back on.


  In WOW news:  Whew!  Today's was lots of hard work and lots of fun.



Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June 1: Living Proof

June 1: Living Proof


  This morning's workout t-shirt was the one I received at Relay for Life a couple week's ago.  A survivor's t-shirt, it reads "I'm living proof" across the back.  Up until I got this shirt, my favorite workout shirt was the one I received from Coach Mac; that one has "Chasing Greatness" printed on the back.  I liked the idea that I was chasing greatness, the greatness that lies within.


  This new t-shirt makes me think though.  Unless people take the time to read the rest of the shirt and figure out that it has to do with cancer, they may wonder what exactly I'm proof of.  I don't have it in me to say "I beat cancer."  I don't believe I did.  I believe that my surgeons, nurses, oncologists, and the surgery and radiation treatment are what got the cancer out of me.  It was our church community who cooked our meals, our parents who baby-sat, and our friends who drove me to treatment, hugged us, and supported us. 


  What did I do to survive cancer?  I relied on others.  I got in and out of the car at the hospital and at home.  I spent lots of time curled up in my favorite chair with the burned side of my face up.  Were it not for pain patches and my husband's encouragement, I don't know whether I'd have completed treatment or bothered eating and drinking.  It got hard; I wanted it all to go away.  I wish I could say I was one of those brave people who passionately fought, but in all honesty, as treatment went on, it everyone around me who pulled me through.  I survived cancer and its treatment, but it was my family and our community that did the hard work of seeing me through.


  My battle against obesity is a different matter altogether.  For the first time, I've been fighting long and hard.  I've got the fire in my belly and the glint in my eye.  Just when I think I've gone as deep as I could or pushed myself as hard as I could, I discover that I'm capable of more.  I found it when I increased my workouts for the month of May in order to complete the month-long triathlon, and I found it this morning when I began challenging and preparing myself for the July event.  I was shocked at how much longer I worked today, and that though my sweat was pouring down all over my body, my heart rate was good, there was no stitch in my side, and I kept up my pace.


  I want people who see me wearing my Living Proof t-shirt to read it, see me, and be inspired.



Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May 31: My next challenge

  Since I finished my Y-triathlon a couple hours ago, I already began to wonder how I'm next going to challenge myself to keep interested in The Journey.  And so, thanks to a little prompting and encouragement from a Dear Friend, I've registered for the Pirate Triathlon with the Lake Metroparks (information at


  July 24: 500 meter swim, 20 kilometer bike, 5 kilometer run


  I'm slow & awkward enough to make anyone look good. 


  Who's with me?



May 31

  I was very tempted today to write about the heat and humidity, despite the fact that I was pedaling away my last miles for my triathlon.  It was really hot in the gym, with hardly any air circulation (it's the one reason I sometimes wish I worked out elsewhere).  My thoughts while I biked were mostly about how nice it's going to feel tonight when the thunderstorms chase 20 degrees and a bucketful of humidity away. 


  As I made my way home, I began minimizing my accomplishment.  What's the big deal of taking a month to complete a triathlon?  We all know that people do it in a day.  Frankly my accomplishment seems a little ridiculous.  A month to complete 2.4 miles of swimming, 26.2 miles of walking, and 112 miles of biking?  My worst critic tells me that that's pathetic, and that I'm pathetic for even mentioning it.


  Once again, I find myself having to fight that mental voice and to stop comparing myself to others.  There are undoubtedly a great many people who can finish a triathlon in a day; and there are undoubtedly also a great many more who couldn't complete it, even in a month.  I'm no worse, no better than anyone else.


  I have to celebrate the fact that I made the decision to sign up for the triathlon, and then I worked to complete it.  I completed my favorite portion, the swimming, despite the water-attracting hole in my ear drum; I completed the running portion using the elliptical as an alternative, finding a new machine to love, which doesn't hurt my knee; and I completed my least favorite portion, the bike, through sheer obstinacy. 


  I set a goal, I worked toward it, and I achieved it.


  It gives me hope.



Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass.  It's about learning to dance in the rain.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

May 29

Something I'm not happy about: Thanks to that expensive ear plug – the one that didn't work – my ear is draining something fierce, and my throat and cheek hurt.  I'm afraid I'll have to work hard with the company to get them to take it back and refund my money.  I know that companies don't like returning money, but I'll have to fight the good fight.


Something else I'm not happy about:  Yesterday, in the midst of preparations for a last minute birthday party, I didn't eat any fruits or vegetables!  I did manage to eat birthday cake and pizza.


Something I'm happy about: That I'm unhappy about the lack of fruits & veggies yesterday.  After one day without produce, I can hardly wait to get to the store to stock up again.  I can almost taste the salad!  It'll be so nice & cool to enjoy on what's sure to be a too-hot-for-me day (I prefer nothing higher than 60s; I live with the 70s; start complaining during the 80s; and wilt in the 90s).


Something else I'm happy about: Doing the online Weight Watchers program seems to be working.  Without trying to cram another meeting into my schedule, and without feeling like the person weighing me is judging me, I've held myself more accountable for my eating, answering to myself.  The result?  The number on the scale was lower when I weighed myself yesterday morning!  I'm hoping that continuing down this road will mean that on June 25 I'll finally show a number lower than 234.4 at Lighten Up.  I really can't control the number, but I can continue to control what I eat and whether/how hard I exercise.