Monday, February 24, 2020

22 years of journey

There has to be joy in the journey, right?  And there has been so much for the past 21 years.  I did my first triathlon in 1998.  I think so much has happened over the years in life overall that I forget the progression of just one aspect of life.  

This year, one of my new year’s resolutions was to downsize the amount of photo prints I have in storage boxes.  Remember early 2000’s when I think we still had film cameras and had to just develop the entire roll?  Ha! I knew I had plenty of junk shots that needed to just be discarded of instead of holding space in boxes, so I’ve been going through a box of photos each week this year.

This past week, I went through a box that apparently was a big place that I deposited race pictures, and it reminded me of so many races that I haven’t even thought of recently.  I started off back in 1998-around 2003/4ish doing maybe 8-10 triathlons a season!  I just loved it so much and life was different then.  I could first just plan my own schedule around no one else’s and I would get up in the middle of the night all alone and just drive myself to races in places that I’ve never been before.  I remember bringing AAA Trip tik’s!  Remember those?!  Yea, we are talking the days of film and trip-tiks!  There was no cellphone, and looking back, I don’t even know how I made it to all of my races on some of the backroads and printed maps.  I was in grad school, so I know I packed everything- I had zero money to buy anything other than the race itself- so I packed water and food and everything I needed!  It was low key and honestly a BLAST!  Then I met Ryan and he started coming to races.  Ohhhh, poor guy had no idea what he was getting into!  What fun days he probably had watching as the races grew longer and longer up to the Ironman in 2003.   ???

Anyway.  The point is, it was incredible to look back at so many races and see how much background, experience and memories they have all brought.  I really think any race you do, whether you view it as a success or not, is WORTH IT!  You are ALWAYS MORE FIT from doing a race, it is just a great workout that you often cannot force yourself to do on your own.  But you also just learn so much.  You have different swim experiences in each race, different crowds, currents, starts, etc.  I’ve done swims that have felt blissful and ones where I tread water for a minute or two in TEARS. (not joking).  I’ve hyperventilated, had my goggles kicked into my eyeball, swam over, swam through grose lake grass in the middle of the lake for like ½ mile, swam with debris in the Potomac in DC, swam down the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, swam in Lake Erie 3 days after it was unswimmable due to high levels of feces.  I swam in a lake in central Florida, apparently with alligators.  Not being from there, I figured there was some sort of de-alligator process that USAT would go through.  Nope.

I’ve biked on pancake flat courses (Eagleman), hilly as all hilly courses through mountains and seen people crash in front of me, received a penalty when I shouldn’t have, probably missed a penalty when I did deserve it, had people swear at me (2 races, this made me so sad), I’ve gotten frustrated very frustrated at people not staying right and not knowing the rules, I’ve gotten pushed off the road by a farm truck that took up the road and we had to literally get into a ditch.  I’ve had my chain drop, I’ve had my hip lock up.  I’ve pushed too hard, I’ve dropped a water bottle.  I’ve learned so much.

I’ve run through so many experiences as well.  I’ve bonked and walked, fueled well and ran “like my heels were on fire” to my first sub 5 hr ½ Ironman, I’ve had a port a pot nearly tip over on me, I’ve had to go in the woods!!  I’ve helped someone who passed out, I’ve gotten encouragement from others, I’ve given so much as well.  I’ve been exhilarated by my finishes, and I’ve faced such disappointing days as well. 

I’ve raced all over Virginia, Maryland, DC, Pennsylvania, Lake Placid, Buffalo and Penn Yan, NY, Boston, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Wisconsin, Vermont, Oregon, California, now a run race in Turks and Caicos as well😊

They haven’t all been complete goal reachers, but I have learned from every single single single one of these races.  I truly feel that I have had so much joy from all of my experiences; my heart and soul are so much more complete and ME from making this all happen.  It would have been so easy to skip out on half of these races, but I SIGNED UP.  I TRAINED.  I DID THEM.  I learned.   I’ve crossed the finish line THRILLED, but also really really dejected.  But, I also have never given up.

It reminded me, I have so much more to come!  My hip currently is a bit of an obstacle.  However, it isn’t an all out road block.  I’m back in a healed place where I can jog and bike.  I cannot go at the intensity that I may CHOOSE, but it still brings me GREAT JOY to be out in the world, looking for the next opportunity and place to spend time on the roads.   I love having things on my docket, tangible reasons WHY… I’m currently loving just moving.  I may be slow, but honestly, if I can shuffle without too much pain, I’ll TAKE IT!!

I have learned to love swimming over the years- it isn’t my favorite, but I do LOVE what it provides.  I love the feeling of coming out of the water and whole body is spent.  I will never be “a swimmer” because I don’t have the pure skill from having grown up as a swimmer and I don’t see myself making the time investment in the pool at the sacrifice of my other sports, but I love it (not every time and not in the first 90 seconds when I’m cold of course).

I love biking and although it scares me sometimes, I love feeling my legs being strong like clockwork and seeing the beautiful country roads by way of bike.  Running just gives me a huge sense of freedom by going where my feet can take me. I have a different perspective right now, but I hope 20 more years from now, I have some pictures of some really cool new race experiences that I don’t even know of right now.  The journey is not always under our control, but it IS under our control if we are in the arena, if we are ON our journey fully.  Even if you are someone who doesn’t want to do a triathlon, there is so much to be experienced by running 5K’s, or working towards a new biking goal.  There is so much available to us.  It is sometimes scary to think big, scary to commit, but it is always worth it.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Turks and Caicos and... not the marathon...

Turks and Caicos marathon to half😊

I cannot believe it has been nearly a month since I was in paradise and I haven’t written about my experience- I really want to remember as much as I can!

Race morning- race started at 5, the bus was supposed to come at 4 that would pick up at the place I was staying and take to race start location.  Ummmm, so, when do you even wake up when you need to leave your room by 3:50?  Weird.  I think I may have woken up in the 2:00 hour!  So strange, but I strangely appreciated this early race time because when I have taken these trips on my own, I like to be back at the end of the day by dark since I’m trying to be as safe as possible while traveling alone.  So, it is nice to have a few days of living by the light of the earth and slowing down when the earth goes dark for nighttime!  It makes getting up in the 2:00 hour easier!!

I was worried I’d be the only one standing around waiting for the bus to race, but I got down a minute or two before 4:00 (I knew the bus wouldn’t be there until after because we were the last stop).  There were probably already 10 people… 10 characters, haha! Down there waiting!  It was a definite learning experience for me into the world of the inter-continental running club!  Many of them had matching jerseys/singlets on and I quickly learned they all had documented finish times for marathons in all sorts of countries.  I think some guy was over 100 countries.  I am thinking, ummmm, of course he is retired, but that is a lot of MONEY to get to all these places!!  Anyway, it was interesting.  I felt like I was a total newbie athlete!  And, in the back of my mind, I definitely knew I wasn’t “all in” to this race. 

I was unsure if I’d be able to do the marathon with my limited last 5-6 weeks (lack of) training because of my hip. However,  I still wanted to see what was possible and enjoy the experience.

We were waiting for the bus and a few of the people decided they were going to walk to the race start.  A guy mentioned he wasn’t going to since the bus knew there were those of us waiting at this stop, and he’d be making the way and not able to find us.  I agreed with that and so I waited also, just to be polite, even though of course I’m itching to get to race site and have a few tries at the port a pot to try to make sure I’m all EMPTY before race!  So, we wait.  We wait until probably 4:20 and no bus, so we start walking.  As we are walking down the road, a minivan pulls over to us and lets us know that he can bring us.  We realized then it was a good thing that not everyone had waited, because it was no bus, it was a minivan, so definitely limited seating!  We continued to walk and got to race site at approximately 4:35.  This is so new to me – arriving at race site with only a little over 20 minutes to go!  I would have been freaking out if I had big goals for this event! I hit a port a pot, there is no lock on the door, so that is odd, but workable.  Also, there are like 30 people at the race site.  Hmmm, not sure where everyone is???  I’m starting to get worried this may be a LONELY RACE!!!  I asked a woman at a table if I could leave my backpack there during race as  I was super concerned about this issue. I wasn’t intending on going back to the room I was staying after the race because it was in the opposite direction of where I was hoping to walk to for the day.  My focus was really on BEACH TIME!  Luckily, she said she’d keep an eye on my bag for me and I could keep it there!  It had my swimsuit, water for the day, food for the day, etc.

So, I try to get into port a pot one more time, no success really, and I am thinking, this race is going to be on “carribean time” I just know it… but I was on my way back to start line and realize, they are lining up, someone is talking to those at the start line, and I boogey over and someone says, “ready, go”!  I almost missed the start!  Then I realized:  there were probably only about 50 people!  Seriously.

And that was for both ½ and full marathon.  I had no idea who was doing what.  (I had no idea what I was really doing either since I just had to see).

Anyway, so I began and felt fine fitness wise.  First 4 miles, it was pitch black but luckily there were lights on the roads we were running on at that point that really kept it visible.  I had decided to not wear my lights because people had convinced me they weren’t going to, and that I really didn’t need to.  If I was going to do the full marathon, the last thing I wanted was lights dangling around my body, being excess.  (for this race, I was already carrying excess: in terms of WEIGHT since I hadn’t been running… 5-6 lbs makes a huge difference and I wasn’t committed to complete perfect eating around holidays.  Also, I was carrying my phone in a ziplock baggy because I was too nervous to leave the phone with my backpack in case it got stolen.  And a credit card.  And of course water and gels.  So anyway, I was like my own Sherpa which I didn’t love so I went with no lights).

The first mile I had the first experience of barely seeing the person in front of me, but could at least see in the dark enough to him that I saw he went way off the side of the road and I realized he was veering off to the side of a road covered in flooded rainwater!  This happened a few times through the race!

We got to mile 3 where there was supposed to be a bathroom, but it wasn’t there that I could see.  I was still ok but kind of wanted to go because I knew the morning had been kind of rushed and quick and I didn’t know when I’d have a chance again until maybe I got back to that spot and they put it out.  Anyway, I was fine so kept going.  Went around a corner and ROAD LIGHTS did not exist anymore.  It was DARK.  Pitch black.  I’m thinking crap.  I should never have trusted someone else with telling me what to do.  I should have brought lights.  NO lights at all, and I’m losing sight of the guy in front of me.  Luckily, I was so thankful for the volunteers that were at turns.  I kept thanking them, inside thinking that I better be plenty appreciative so that they REMAINED THERE on the way back so I knew where to turn since there was such a sparse amount of runners.  I get to mile 5 and….. immediately…… GI system starts freaking SPINNING and piercing me with pain and I know I have to find a way to go to the bathroom.  Sorry to say, but the runners were sparse and I honestly dodged behind some very short little palm tree that wasn’t really tree it was like a palm bush?? I don’t know, but… I did and it was like 25 seconds and I’m off again.  Phew- embarrassing, but I was kind of proud of my efficiency.  It was definitely starting to feel like a really humid morning.   But, I’m happy thinking, ohhhhh it is going to be so lovely and hot during the rest of the day on the beach!  We go through this dark housing development street and there is something I spot in the middle of the road.  Honestly, I think it is like a dinosaur/dragon/relic from the past that is out to get me. It was weird the way it was so still and the shadow was laying on the ground, but it was like a dog shape almost, and the “body” curled upward very smooth and almost like it had a beak in the front. I just keep running thinking, this cannot be, I must be hallucinating, I think I’m with like ancient reptiles now, come on Sharon.  So, I veer as far to edge of road as I can and keep my eyes to the right to watch for sudden movement.  Nothing.  I get right parallel with it and see that it is this huge like “palm frond” that has fallen from a palm tree that was in the median strip and it was just waiting/ on its edge/ to be picked up for the trash!!! 

The turnaround was near the ferry to go to another island, wasn’t sure if we would go right to the beach at that area but I never saw it.  There were volunteers there that were telling us of the turnaround, but no cone, so I didn’t know if I had to run around them, high 5 them, if I was missing something! And no one was right there in front of me for me to copy, so I’m asking them, where is turnaround, and they are yelling back at me,  “anywhere”!! And I’m like, anywhere?  So, I just turn around.  Hmmmmmm… I ddin’t love that.  I kind of like an “exact” race course!

Anyway so I making my way back.  This would take me back to the ½ way point for the  marathon and then to repeat the same out and back a second time, if I could do it to complete the full.   I can feel my legs starting to become a bit fatigued, not bad, but just in the effort.  Frankly.. just normal. BUT. I also felt my hip.  Right after this turnaround, maybe ½ mile, I took one step and this huge searing, sharp pain went through the center of the joint.  My brain panicked with fear for my next step and I’m just waiting, with bug-eyes, I am sure…. And.. it was ok.  Apparently it was just that one step of weird stabbing sharpness and then fine again!  But, it then started to get tender and talking to me and tightening.  And tightening more, and more tender.  I have to go to the bathroom again at mile 8ish. Shoot.  Same thing, no port o pot, I go behind another tree /shrub and…. Just went super quick, then I’m worrying because it is dark, was I too quick, what if I have like, something ON ME. GROSE. So, then I ran annoyed for a few miles thinking, I just want to shower!!?!!  And, the whole time also sensing my hip and asking myself silly questions, of what to do.  I was obsessively thinking, “half marathon or full”  what should I do.   

I realized my hip is progressively feeling pain more and more.

I realized I will definately be walking some.  Not just hip, but my legs are feeling heavy now also, the beginning of dead, and I feel that the fatigue is making things worse for my hip.   My unpreparedness fitness-wise for this race was going to play right into my weakest link, which was my hip.  And my big worry is not the immediate pain of the day, but the days after, and the weeks and potentially MONTHS of added recovery time I may be creating for myself. 

I realize if I am walking a lot of this race, I am going to be repeating this road.  So, basically in the middle of nothing.  And…. That could be a long walk.  Also, contributing to my indecision, I wasn’t sure if my stomach was going to be smooth and cooled off or still irritatingly prone to need to “go offroad”, ahem.  And… if I was walking, I was fine with that, but… I kinda would have preferred to walk on the beach, on the sand, seeing the gorgeous colors of the water.  I had a feeling I may regret the hours trudging along on sidewalks, (while wanting to take a shower) and made the decision to try to stay decent strong for the rest of the ½ and then be done with the race and get to the beach!

I was a little bit disappointed, but also knew in the long run, my body is just not quite working as I want it to, and in no way is allowing me to be in control when it wants to teach me a lesson or two. 

Once I had this decision pretty much made up, I think it allowed me to have a slight physical pity party for myself and I slowed down, and then slowed more and more and then it ended the last 3 miles feeling very difficult, basically confirming my decision that this was not a day for a marathon for me.  I was really glad to be done when I was on my last mile.

I crossed the finish line, literally kept going to the table where my backpack was, grabbed it, ran into a port a pot where I delicately changed into my swimsuit, put my grose clothes in a tightly tied bag (to burn haha) and literally walked out, over the walk to the sand, dropped my backpack and was in the ocean.  From finish line to ocean, was probably under 2 minutes!! And… it was honestly glorious.  It was one of my favorite mornings at the ocean of my trip! 

I got to finish line a little before 7 and I remember looking at my watch while in the ridiculous turquoise waters at 7AM!  I had been up for over 4 hours, ran a half marathon by 7am and was in the water!  I literally played in this spot for over an hour.  All by myself!  I could not believe people were not finishing the race and coming over to the water to get in!!!  Of course most people wanted to go home and take a proper shower, but not me, I carry all my stuff since I was staying away from the very main part of the area.  It was ridiculously heaven.  This was the sunniest, hottest morning--- the other days and mornings, it rained about every 15 minutes, and so looking back, I was so lucky to have this time of literally gleeful play.  I knew it when I was there, and it doesn’t bother me a bit, but everytime I was in the ocean, I was like all by myself!  There was never a crowd of people! I am in this ridiculous heaven all by myself- where are the people??! And I am literally looking around, left to right looking at the water that my body is IMMERSED in thinking, I’m INSIDE of this!  I would be one of those people standing in a picture of clear, gorgeous, seaglass- turquoise-heavenly water.  Little me… in this heaven…. I was there, I still cannot believe.  What a dream come true.

 (me above not happy w/tuna on crackers before race)- after race right

Thursday, December 26, 2019

19 things from 2019

19 things I learned in 2019:

1.       Reminded myself to be independent by traveling alone.  That it isn’t selfish to take time and a trip to center, recharge and energize my own soul. *I started off the year planning my first year that I took a trip on my own.  Not like a 2 hour down the road trip, but a LEGIT- I WENT TO BARBADOS for 3 days trip! ALONE!  I was embarrassed that I was going to do this, felt selfish and silly.  I came back feeling that it had been NONE of those things, honestly.  I felt like it was so nourishing, rejuvenating and I needed that time and silence to search my soul for some direction.  It was perfection.  I’m going away again on a trip by myself 2020, and I still feel a little guilty, but MUCH LESS!  I’m learning!

2.     Friends you grew up with have a very special place in your life.  Long story short:  I couldn’t wait to get out of high school.  My heart was in a broken place, I felt so lonely and unloved and I needed to start over.  It’s interesting and very GOOD to my heart to be now in touch with some high school friends or reconnected.  Some were just people who I knew their name, but now I see how much I adore them!  There is something missing to some extent when you don’t know anyone who knew you as a child.  It feels somehow like the people who knew you for the first 18 years of your life really know who “you are.”

3.     It’s hard to see people leave the world who were special to you, even if you haven’t talked in years.  This was a year that some people left the world that I still cannot understand.

4.     I am at the stage that I am very aware of my “bucket list” items.   Big Sur Marathon has always topped my list of something on my bucket list, and I’ve for a few years now applied to get into it- there is a lottery system.  I FINALLY got in on the last round last fall and ran it in April 2019.  It was EVERYTHING I knew it would be… AND EVEN MORE!  I am so glad to be looking AHEAD to things I know I want and making them reality.

5.     I age.  I always thought since I look young in some ways that maybe I wouldn’t ever look too old??!!  OMG.  I really think this year- the past 2 years have been the BEGINNING.  I finally am taking care to put moisturizer around my eyes/face, I see the difference in the skin on my LEGS!!!!  And hands!  Ewwww!!!  I didn’t think I would have these changes until I was like 70??!!  And… yep, I just started wearing “reader glasses”…. I only do it when laying in bed at night reading and my kids think it is hilarious when they come in and see it.   It’s fantastic. (no pictures needed for this one, haha!)

6.     I still love to do races, even if I’m not “racing”. I had so many years where I only did races with super focused goals, totally “on spot” training that I wouldn’t know what to do if I was just going out to “do the race.”  Now that I’ve been struggling with my hip and hamstring, particularly for Big Sur (and then all my other races this summer), I am really limited in intensity.  There isn’t even a breath of hope that I would be close to my old times, and I have been able to still go out and TOTALLY enjoy the journey of the race.

7.      Reaching out is always worth it. So many times- this year and always, I questioned and hemmed and hawed (I’ve never written that out before!!??!) and went back and forth and didn’t want anything to be taken the wrong way, etc.  But I thought each time—better to risk than to NOT reach out and find out or wonder if it would have lifted someone up.  Likewise, there have been so many times where someone has contacted me, messaged me, and I was like “HOW DID YOU KNOW??!!”

8.     This year, I have been finding that contentment in life doesn’t mean I am lazy or that my ambitious former self has died or given up.  I’m learning to be more selective of where I spend my time, less fearful of not joining the race to get ahead, and more able to be present and in the moment. I enjoy my level of reaching, but also sitting on my porch in the summer; I love feeling at my most challenged physically and in life, but also spending time quiet and doing the most basic daily life with my kids and dogs.  (and sitting lazily by the side of the pool, as well as churning out lap after lap in the summer!)

9.     I appreciate spending my time with people of varying ages.  I’m so lucky in my job, in life, all aspects—I get to meet, talk to and interact with young kids (in kids yoga which is particularly meaningful to me) and my friends little’s, all the way up to an older generation.  There is so much we can learn from others.  So interesting to see  that we are all along paths, and all where we need to be.

10.  I love visiting in new places.  Even for an afternoon, I love going to new places, and seeing towns, buildings, trees, and people.  I’ve enjoyed doing a few new races this year that I haven’t done before, going to new cities and towns with the kids sports tournaments and games, and vacations.  I’ve loved going to Roanoke, VA Beach in the winter, Big Sur, new beaches and places in Florida, Charlotte, but also finding great little nooks of places in my own town and area to enjoy, new wineries, etc.

11.   Every year, the dynamics of some relationships change, and that isn’t a bad thing.  Everyone is growing, and sometimes it doesn’t fit as well as it used to. Sometimes I feel sad, worry, think, ‘what is wrong with me” that something has changed.  But, it is just natural and life.

12.   Day by day, I see myself growing more solid in my faith.  There will always be uncertainty and questions that we will never know the answers to, but it is so wonderful to be able to say, “I KNOW.”  I know my God is with me, he is FOR me, and He loves me.  (and that was from one of my favorite sermons from a few years ago from church, but I will never forget those words).

13.   Time one on one with each of my kids is a lifeline for me.  This year, I loved traveling with Phoebe alone to a few of her volleyball tournaments, getting our nails done once, walking on the beach and more.  This fall, I was SO lucky to spend time with Forrest going to a concert in the city, and he was my standby pool buddy this past summer, who would always either come with me, or meet me there if he knew I was by myself, and…..he’s always up for a mom/son date for a milk shake at Chick filA.

14.   I don’t like “stuff”.  I started the year going through, day by day with a friend and I holding each other accountable, getting rid of STUFF!  It was meant to be a month.  We continued for about 3 months.  It was awesome.  I feel now like it didn’t even make a dent.  I still do a monthly purge of what I can, but I want to keep going and do more.  Holding on to STUFF to me is a bit of fear and “gripping” and… well, holding on.

15.   I  stand by my passion for GOALS.  – sometimes goals are just INTENTION.  Many people are so set AGAINST setting new years goals and intentions, and I don’t understand that.  Everyone should be able to trust themselves with their goals and be strong to commit to themselves.  Goals don’t need to be unattainable.  There is no reason to not have a GOAL that you are working towards at all times in life.  (even if sometimes that goal is to take 2 weeks to come up with a well- defined goal for the next year or decade).

16.   Moments matter. I am learning day by day, moment by moment to let go of expectations and experience reality as it is, appreciate it for what it is, and be truly content in the moment.  I am so thankful for my yoga practice that allows me to practice finding myself able to let go of the future and the past and practice the value of just NOW.

17.   I always feel guilty that I don’t market more for my business.  If I were really good, I would be active on social media, I’d be reaching out, getting things written about Rising Sun Fitness, etc…  But I am continually reminded from so many angles that the only kind of marketing you need is an amazing product. If it’s good, people will spread the word, and I am so grateful when people have done that for me.  I also love doing it for others.  Likewise, I sometimes feel guilty because I don’t have a tri-team, a tri-club.  I sometimes take myself through unnecessary negative self-talk making myself believe that I’m not as good or not worthy.  But this year particularly has reminded me that… IN THIS actually may lie my STRENGTH and what sets me apart!  I don’t waste time on marketing when I could be actually strengthening myself as a trainer and coach.  I understand the angle of athletes not being able, willing, desiring to be on a club or team for running and triathlon, but simply pursuing it for themselves and what fits into their lives.

18. Gratitude, compassion, empathy, love.  Sometimes I feel too much of these, and it hurts so much, is so intense.  I don’t regret it one second.  This is life fully felt. *This past week, in watching one of my favorite movies “Serendipity,” the character who is an obituary writer in the movie says at the end, “The Greeks didn’t write obituaries, they asked one question when someone died, “Did he have passion?”  THIS.

19.   Rest.  I’m learning to let myself to this, and learning to try to not feel guilty when I do.  The guilt factor/ mental harassment that I give myself is the hardest part.  And I realize my body can’t benefit from the slowing down, stillness and silence when I am inside beating myself up for thinking that I am lazy.

20.  I have so much more to learn, and I intend to be fully present for that learning in 2020!

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

4 weeks and I cannot run.

4 weeks to go until  my marathon, and I cannot run. 

Long story, but I went out easy the other day and my hip was 100% fine during the run and immediately after.  100%.  I then sat to do work at the computer, and one hour later, I couldn’t stand.  I rested 2 days and tried to run today, and came hobbling home.  My hip feels like mush.  Like a bone bruise?  Nothing visible, but it feels as if it is bruised on my hip bone and oblique area.

I’m upset, annoyed and confused and really disappointed.  I am hoping at this point to be able to rest and somehow have some fantastic recovery that enables me to still do it.  There is the possibility I could do just the ½ that day also.  But that isn’t really what I want to do.  But I’m okay if I have to.  I don’t want to go and not be able to run at all though.

Maybe it is my “punishment” for not being 100% grateful for even being able to go out and to run at all.  For my last marathon build up (for Big Sur in April 2019), I was so focused on just being fully present and full of fierce gratitude for being back to running.  Last week I was complaining about not enjoying it in the winter…. (which I don’t), I was just being honest, but my honesty shows me that I wasn’t focusing on the good.  Maybe that is my lesson.

Sometimes I go through a phase where I think marathons aren’t “worth it.”  They are HARD.  And, then, I’m reminded.  That is why, that is why they speak to my soul.  They refresh me, they CLEANSE ME to the BONE.  They take me to the mental and physical max, where my systems  and self talk have to find their connection, essence and survival. Not just the race- but the TRAINING, and that is part of why I’m disappointed so deeply.  I should right now be doing my biggest and final long runs that I have no idea how they would go.  But I would be learning from them.  I would be struggling in some sense- physically, mentally, and learning my lessons.  And instead, I am having to be gentle, back off (back off to ZERO), and… maybe that is my lesson. 

I don’t like it.

*I’m taking this huge trip and part of that was to do the marathon, and that makes me feel less “guilty” but also gives me the huge HIGH that I was seeking.  I love running through new places, seeing everything at GROUND LEVEL- it seems “true” and my body feels immersed and part of it fully.  I love the feeling of being physically and mentally SPENT to the CORE/BONES, and that will make the BEACH TIME, water, sand on my legs even BETTER! 

*Doing this type of thing is my bucket list type way of living.  I feel like if I work hard for a full year, I can do this for myself.  And I need to mentally.  Sometimes I’m less lonely when I’m actually all alone.  I want to LIVE and meet people and see and soak it in fully without distraction or expectations.  I don’t want my hip to get in the way.  Plus, I Need to be able to walk while I’m there, not renting a car, and walking everywhere I go. 

*I will be smart daily, and I AM icing, taking off, moving smart and praying.  I’d really love if you would say a lil prayer for my hip. Thank you.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Charlotte 1/2 marathon

CHARLOTTE ½ marathon.

(November 2019)

I went into this race excited, a bit nervous, but feeling very ready.   This wasn’t a “goal race” at all, but a good stepping stone for a marathon in 7 weeks.  I had been doing weekly long runs up until the race, with my last one being 19 miles, and feeling really very good in these long runs.  I had some solid intervals, particularly in the 2 weeks leading up to the race that I felt good about:  a track workout of ½’s and ¾’s (although admittedly, that did leave my legs feeling really challenged…. But that is as it should- it is a track workout afterall), mile repeats, ¼’s and also 2x 3-4 mile tempo progressions.  I have been doing tons of hip/glute/hamstring/stability training since September and I know I am stronger and continue with daily core work.  My mileage was weekly around 40-46 miles/week.  (1 week was 50).  Also, my nutrition was really what I consider spot on.  I have been eating really super healthy, in fact haven’t even had cravings, and the week before (looking back) I almost wonder if I didn’t eat enough, or enough carbs- I basically saved carbs for just the night before the race, and actually the dinner two nights before also….  I was just otherwise obsessed with salads with roasted squash/mushrooms on it lately for some reason.

Anyway:  I got to the race start early, it was windy, cold-ish but not as cold as I had feared it might be!!  I was so thankful that it was 40 rather than 32 that I felt FINE!  I warmed up jogging around about a mile super easy to just kind of get myself on my feet and warm, then there was a nice dead end street right by the start that I used to do my approx. 50 m builds.  I felt good and legs felt fine and good!  I was ready and kept bouncing around until start.  I had a throwaway sweatshirt so I stayed warm until race and then I was good to go.

Here were my race splits:

6:57, 6:53, 7:16, 6:55, 7:34, 7:11, 7:36, 7:34, 8:41 (stopped to go to the bathroom), 7:52, 8:28, 7:48, 8:42 (stopped to pet a freaking chocolate lab puppy), 1:38 last .2.

Total 1:41:11, average 7:40.

Ugh. I haven’t been over 1:40 in a long time.  My ave heart rate for race was 152, which is fine for me, (and I could frankly care less about heart rate- I do not track in training or races, I just happened to see this when I got my splits).  My breathing was FINE the entire race.  The problem was TOTALLY MY LEGS.  First 2 miles felt fine- just warming up and annoying because it was so crowded and so many potholes and I was worried about tripping/not seeing a pothole.  Then it spread out.  I think that is when I noticed I didn’t have any “juice” or “oomph” in legs….  Even running solid pace felt just heavy, low, and flat. Through mile 4-5 I was still thinking, hmmmm maybe I’m still warming up???  And then it became clear, no they are not warming up at all, they are like feeling DONE TODAY?  I passed the 6 mile mark, didn’t stop to go to the bathroom and soon after thought maybe that was a mistake, but I was like, please hang on until 8 and please let there be a bathroom there.  Mid mile 7, some guy came next to me and told me I was doing awesome and he had been trying to catch me.  I was surprised because I was thinking, this doesn’t’ FEEL GOOD AT ALL.  After stopping at mile 8 to go to the bathroom I tried to get my head back on, thinking, okay, now maybe I will feel better and more like myself.  But legs didn’t really feel that at all… it was more heaviness.  My times weren’t terrible (other than the miles I stopped to go the bathroom), but it was just  the feeling I had in my body.   At mile 10, I really felt TERRIBLE, in fact.  I reminded myself of a 3 mile loop at home and thought, okay, you are doing this loop now, so just follow that in your head.  Hills never felt really hard/extreme/or looked to me like it was too challenging…. I think they were more kind of rolling hills- so maybe that was part of it- maybe I am more used to hills that are shorter/steeper in VA and these were more “sneaky” hills that were just longer  inclines?  These miles I was also really feeling the wind- in fact 2 times it blew debris into my eyes it was so strong and I had to try to get it out because there were like little particles in my eyes.  Mile 11 we passed this restaurant I had been eyeing up and wanting to go to called “Flower Child” – it gave me a little bit of a boost because it was the CUTEST THING EVER- little flower designs drawn on the outside- totally unique and kind of boho style, a cute little outdoor seating area with lights and flowers!! So, I tried to kind of use that energy to keep me going, but I still just FELT MISERABLE in my legs and was starting to feel miserable in  my BODY--- not my breathing  or heart rate, but just like my shoulders and neck and head were even heavy and tired.  I tried for miles 10 and 11 to really get into the intention of “acceptance.”  I had done this as a “theme” in yoga the previous week—reminding myself to accept whatever my feelings were and not take more energy to FIGHT the SUCK.  Just feel the suck and accept it.  It did help for a bit.  Got to mile 12, we turned a corner and I felt like 9.3 or 9.4/10 terrible.  Maybe I didn’t even know if I could literally go another MILE- which was pissing me off because I’m thinking- this is not even ½ of what I need to run in 7 weeks, how is this feeling so hard????  And I saw a chocolate lab puppy- some guy holding him on the side like a baby in his arms.  I just stopped and walked and asked if I could pet his puppy.  I was so tired I just wanted to hide with the puppy forever.  (he was 8 weeks old  and his name was Bennett) but I had to go back to the race, otherwise I would look strange.  So, I plodded freaking along just trying to MAKE IT.  (plus I had to go to the bathroom again)…. It was literally step by step at this point.  So odd to me.  I couldn’t even look up.  The last ½ mile I just was laser focused because I didn’t want to stop again, I just knew I needed everything to get me to that finish line, ugh.  I saw the time over the finish and I was like, holy cow, I haven’t been in 1:40’s for a half in years….. (then also thinking, you freaking STOPPED TO PET A PUPPY SHARON!)

Anyway… moving on….  My legs interestingly weren’t sore at all.  Actually my right calf was.  It ends up that I was 4th in my “age group” so obviously not a TERRIBLE race, it was just how I felt.

Some thoughts:

*my calves were kind of bugging me also- maybe I needed to have worn calf sleeves because of the hills??  Although I don’t want to rely on those.  And plus I had long pants on, so I didn’t want to have two layers on my legs.

*my legs – why were they so fatigued.  I don’t know if I had done too much legs/too many classes the week of the race?  Traveling in a car 6 hours the day before?  I didn’t do legs up the wall the night before, I should have.  Have I not done enough plyometrics… that is a possibility- I have maybe eased off plyometrics subconsciously because I’ve been doing so much stability stuff and not wanting to bother my hamstring/hip, but maybe that has not been good. 

*hills—I haven’t been doing too many hill repeats focused on fast running up, so that could be partially why my legs felt like this was hard, although many of my long runs included very hilly routes just by the nature of being in reston.  My marathon in 7 weeks will be flat, so I have been not focused on doing extra hills since that is my real goal.

*nutrition- I was feeling good because many times in the week leading up to a race I end up OVER eating and this was not the case this week.  Maybe however, I didn’t get enough carbs?  It was also a super busy week, so maybe I needed a downtime to get my mind and body quiet for a little bit more.  I was go go go with family stuff, work stuff, every single thing (stressful tryout weekend the week before) (stressful freaking everything and lots of annoyances to be honest).  I also forgot to buy a banana the night before and I’m used to having a few bites of a banana.  I had a few bites of a honey stinger waffle in the morning, but…. Just a reminder to not forget the banana when I’m at marathon.

*maybe I was too focused on just getting away, rather than the racing part of it…. Which is fine too.  I freaking love going away.

I’m 100% glad I did the race.   After the first 3 miles, it was BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL- I loved about 6 miles of it where we went through these streets of CRAZY beautiful houses  and large grassy yards and roads lined with huge towering trees.  It reminded me of some neighborhoods in Richmond, and I totally loved seeing the unique houses.  I would love to drive or walk through those roads again.  It was so peaceful and it seemed southern.

It also reminded me of doing new races- some of the races I love, I have now done freaking FOREVER!!!  And my body is so used to them, my mind is so used to them, and it makes it so much easier to do when you KNOW exactly what is coming up after a certain turn in the road.   I am doing a new marathon in January 2020, a new marathon in the fall 2020…. I don’t have any new tri’s scheduled, so maybe I should also look to this to “surprise my body and mind.”

Overall, the race was  important to the goal of using it as a TRAINING TOOL for my January marathon and to make me question some of the things I am doing and not doing in training for myself, and to re-evalutae some aspects of my training plan.  I’ll be under 1:40 next time😊!!  No more petting puppies during the race!
(above is me.... just glad I made it... and thankful for those port o pots at the end!!! as always!!.... the life of a runner)....

Saturday, August 17, 2019

On Coaching......

On Coaching… finding a coach, being a coach, being coachable!

I love coaching people for fitness and races.  I’ve been coaching since I’ve been personal training, which is since 1999.  (oh my gosh, I just realized this has been 20 years now).  There is so much I love about coaching because I have the opportunity to see the growth, the struggles, adaptations, progress, journey and the joy of success.  Coaching is ALWAYS a blend of science and a bit of art, a bit of matching the science with the person, and discovering along the way.

I obviously am biased…. But I do honestly have moments of disbelief and questioning, “Why would someone NOT have a coach?”  I understand--- it is a cost, it is a luxury.  But, I also realize that for a goal that means BIG THINGS to you (as GOALS should!!), it is amazingly helpful.

A few things I’ve learned over the years:


---------Reach out and ASK.  Coaches are usually busy coaching and doing what they do, and they are COACHES.  They are not marketing specialists.  My point is:  reach out and tell them what you are hoping to achieve, ask how they can help you, etc.  This is the start of the relationship/conversation that needs to happen, so make it happen.

-------Speaking of:  the conversation should be two sided—ask them things that will let you know if this is a coach that will be right for you.  Let the coach know YOUR expectations of what you are looking for and need.  The potential coach should have many questions for you also.  If they are not asking about your goals (big dreams and smaller benchmarks)/background/history in the sport, injury history, etc….  ) they SHOULD BE!  And the coach should have expectations of YOU as well!

-----Do you want to have a coach that is local and to do in person coaching?  Or are you looking for online coaching, where your coach can be far away from you, but still create plans for you based on communication of results, training session updates, etc.  If you are wanting someone local to do in person coaching, this is usually to see your form or work with you in some capacity on strength as it applies to your sport, form with your sport, OR the motivation to get the hard training done.  Sometimes they will offer group coaching so you can split the hourly cost.  If you are looking to have a coach give you a plan for progressing your speed, fitness, endurance, as long as you are both great at communicating, you can be across the world, frankly.  I coached 2 athletes while they were living in Japan, someone in Saudi Arabia, in California and also Washington state. (and I am in virginia).


------ouch, this is a big one.  It is hard.  I have learned over time that sometimes people are not quite reach to have a coach.  Let me explain.  To be coachable, you have to be able to BE OPEN.  If you are seeking out a coach, it means that you are open to their ideas of progress.  You can of course ask them questions (and as coaches, this is a DELIGHT when people do ask!!!!), but if you are doubting your coach’s plan for you without talking to them about it and voicing your concerns, this lack of positive open-ness and trust WILL play out later (and not in the way you would like!).  You have to be open to receive instruction in ways that maybe you wouldn’t give to yourself.  This is sometimes the whole essence of coaching for people—for example, sometimes people know that they simply will not do something without being told to by their coach and accountable to that coach.  On the flip side, others will sometimes think/doubt/second guess the plan and “change it” to what they think is really the best thing for them, and….. well, again… don’t blame the coach when results don’t happen when you do this!   An example is this:  As a coach, I always flat out tell athletes that when creating a training program, I often ask myself, “what is the hardest training set that I can think of for this person to do before this race or big goal.”  From that, maybe I come up with a plan- for example a brick workout (bike/run combination) that is a 30 mile bike/10 mile run.  (this is just example). I may specifiy that I want the 30 mile bike to be a 5 mile warm up into 3x 5 mile segments all out with 5 miles light recovery.  Immediately into the 10 mile run as 2 miles transition, then each 2 miles build pace. 

Athlete A thinks: perfect- this is what I need, and there is no way I would have attempted this unless Coach told me to.  This athlete goes and gives it what they can.

Athlete B thinks:  really?  I’ve never done this before.  I’ve heard/read that you shouldn’t do anything longer than 1 hour running after a bike for training.  My last coach never gave me this workout to do.  This athlete goes out and… not quite believing fully in the workout…. Does the bike but then does half the run because … of reasons above and wanting to “not overdo” training during the run, thinking, well if I can do 5 or 6 of these miles, then certainly I can do 4 more…. (NOT). 

I’ve seen both of these things happen.  Enough said.  One coachable.  One not.  Believe in yourself, BELIEVE ALSO IN YOUR COACH!!, take risks, commit to the work.

From the persepective of… “BEING A COACH”:

*Please send us results.  Let us do our job WELL!!!!!  Results are MORE THAN:  “I did Mondays workout.”  That tells me not much.   It doesn’t tell me what was easy/hard, how it felt, where you struggled, what you felt after, and on and on….  The MORE you tell me as your coach, the more I can help you!

*Develop yourself as an athlete by following the ENTIRE plan:  strength, endurance, mental training, core, stretching, nutrition, sleep, etc. 

As coaches, we know things come up, life happens, sickness happens, family events come up,  (and I can have you train WITH your family!!)

and we will see your commitment through these things.  Adjustments can be made for work travel, and GOALS CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED if you truly do want what you say you want😊 bad enough!


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

One year later....

One year later…..

A year ago, I walked off the course of one of my favorite “A” races and DNF’d..  Eagleman is always an A race for me because it is my top priority, usually.  I train diligently, through the winter, on the treadmill, getting my butt to the pool when it is cold outside, and generally committing myself to doing the best I can at this one race.

In 2018, I was having a very good race, but just lost my heart to care.  It was a very odd year of training, you can read about here, but I just generally was lethargic, flat affect/ feeling quite depressed, and this race was the pinnacle of…. I just don’t have my heart anymore.  I don’t have a fire.  And there was nothing about finishing the last 10 miles of the run that seemed appealing to me.  You cannot finish a race like this without the heart.  I knew it was time to take off.

I also had been struggling with a huge conglomeration of hip injuries through the summer of 2018 while I was focusing on doing Olympic distance triathlons and in August, I was officially DONE.  I was sedentary (not joking) through November.  I couldn’t even walk the dogs without pain.  I frankly couldn’t SIT without pain.  I was so lucky to have a new goal to work towards with getting into Big Sur marathon, and even luckier to make it through the training with my hamstring and hip working decently! 

A month ago, I drove my daughter to a volleyball tournament in Maryland and we had to drive through Cambridge, EAGLEMAN LOCATION!  Ohhhhh I was feeling all the feels and was beginning to get the JEALOUS feeling for some of the people who were going to be in the race!!!  This is my race, I love this race, I’ve done it for so long!!!  I liked the little jealous feeling because it showed maybe I’m getting some desire back??  And with the proximity to the race nearing even further and hearing more about the race, I kept that edgy feeling of being EXCITED for….. maybe next year????  Maybe?? 

Then, the day of race came, and could it BE????  It was not going to be 98 degrees in Cambridge MD?!  How can Eagleman even be held when it is not 98 degrees!!  OHhhh I was a bit jealous again!!!! Wondering how I could do in this race without the oppressive heat (which I also kinda love a bit!)… And then… the SWIM was cancelled! I thought- WHY AM I NOT THERE!!?!?!  But then….. I realized, it is cold and windy and rainy… and I have ZERO DESIRE to be out there in cold and rain.  So, I was happy with this that I was NOT in Eagleman this year.

However, this also made me realize that I have much more “soul searching” to do. 

In the past, it wouldn’t have mattered 98 degrees or 58 degrees….. it wouldn’t have mattered, sun, clouds, wind, rain…. I was focused and determined and my MIND was unstoppable.  Regardless of degrees, wind direction, the skies.  Those were irrelevant factors.  And I realize now- I am still not ready.  This is not how I train and race.  I don’t invest my everything when it ends up being conditional upon the weather forecast.  I know better, and as an athlete, that is not who I am

Of course, soul searching leads to more questions than answers.

Do I need more time away from Eagleman?  Do I need to have maybe that edge of “fear” of a new race I haven’t conquered, similar to Big Sur Marathon, which I definitely had some doubts about going back to marathon distance for…. And I LOVED it, I loved the pride of finishing what I was really only HOPING to do!  Maybe another location for ½ IM distance instead of Eagleman?

Do I not love the sport anymore? I do, and I know I do- I love the races, but I also love love love love love the training….. maybe I am loving the training more than the racing and the focus on results.

Maybe I need to learn to race without being result oriented.  One month ago, in Big Sur marathon, I literally had no result goal other than to finish.  FOR REAL.  I wasn’t even lying when I said that!  And it was actually really nice.  I’m not used to not focusing on just being moderate in my intentions, and maybe this is something to practice more of in the future.

Or, do I need to just find WITHIN this new mentality of triathlons maybe not being such a top priority, a way to do them and find WITHIN this “relative softness” of mind, a firm focus that I will commit to the goal at a different “level of mindset”?? 

It has been many years since triathlon was my fierce focus (ummmm, hello KIDS in my life!!).  And I love and fully accept my ……… ummmm… aging self…I am happy with the new balance that I feel in the things I love spending my time on, including taking some time to relax!

But, I don’t want to be “done.”  And I am not.  I’m one year out, much further along than I was last year, but still not completely clear of where I am headed.  And that is okay.  We will see.  Maybe learning a bit of moderation is coming soon.
2015 race

2012 morning
 2014 race