Friday, July 20, 2012

Increased Training; Increased Focus

As the mileage begins to increase on the training plan, I am noticing a greater focus on being in the moment.  Previously, while working through the training plans of the season, I would find myself not really focused on the run at hand, but rather, thinking about the next one.  When would it be?  Where would it be?  Would it be a good one?  Which race would I do?  And so on.

This training cycle, and perhaps it is because I have added in a few new tricks to the bag with swimming and biking, I find I am truly intentional in the workout I am doing at that moment.  I have been focused on my breathing and form while running.  Not so much my pace.  I am also really trying to listen to what my body is telling me.  If I have a wonkiness in my leg, I make a mental note and try to address it immediately or shortly after the run is complete.

In my swim, I am solely thinking about breathing, head position, how my hand is entering the water, my pull-through, etc.  And occasionally, it all comes together for a lap or two and I feel amazingly strong!

During the biking, which I am totally new to, I am focused on maintaining the proper RPMs, breathing, again, the position of my feet on the pedal.  I am entranced by the "push/pull" mantra that my legs sing while feeling the rotation of the wheels.

For someone who as easily distracted as I am, these moments of total focus are a real gift.  It is where the cares and concerns of any day are stripped away and I am able, for just a little while, to embrace the moment for exactly what it is.  This is a true gift and one I hope to be able to appreciate for a very long time.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Blessings Run

Heading into this weekend, I had full knowledge that getting my miles in was going to prove to be a challenge, but I had a plan and the plan my mind.

Then reality showed up as the front door and took any hope of what I thought would be away.  I kept my head about me and re-figured my plan.  And then reality showed up again.  So once more, I re-figured the plan and again, reality won out.  Slowly, I could feel the fires of angst being stoked.

I am embarrassed to admit that many times this is the way things go in my life, and I tend to just throw my hands up and stress about missed mileage, missed workouts, and act badly with bouts of pouting and frustration.  Over the past several months, I have been working on my attitude when these things come up and today afforded me the perfect opportunity to exercise my "blessings" muscle.

Today's lesson looked like this:                              

I am going to run in Huntsville!  -

Reality showed up when Mark told me he was working today which meant I needed to stay close to home for the kids. 

Blessing realized - I have a wonderful husband willing to work 6-7 days a week to provide the kids and I a very good life.  

I have happy, healthy, active children that require me to be with them to keep them safe, fed, and cared for.  

I switched the plan to run with my local running club early in the morning. -

Reality showed up in the form of an adorable little boy who wanted to crawl into bed 20 minutes before my alarm because he was scared and needed his mommy.  Early morning run out.

Blessing realized - Boo is 6 years old and chances are, he won't be climbing into bed with me many more times.  He is working through his developmental fears and I am so thankful that I can be the one to be there for him, (thunder, dark, scary noises, all a big deal to a little boy).

I decided to run as soon as the kids were awake while the older kids were around to babysit. -

Reality once again arrived in the form of little Boo sneaking downstairs to surprise me with a "breakfast".

Blessing realized -  He poured a cup of coffee with cream, placed it onto the table with a cute little clementine on a plastic toddler plate.  He was so excited to see my reaction to his efforts!  He told me he could only pour a little coffee because the pot was so heavy and he used the plastic plate because he couldn't reach the ceramic plates.  He and I sat together and enjoyed the moment.  He savored watching me eat the orange and drink the coffee.  It was a priceless moment that I would never have had if "my plan" had happened.

Switched up the plan one last time to just go run for two hours while the teens were still at home. -

Reality, my dear companion, reminded me that my teens had a busy day at Church serving at Mass and then a Baptism service.  This meant I had less then 2 hours to get my mileage in.  

Blessing realized - Mark and I are blessed with amazing kids that feel called to serve others as much as they can.  We are continually humbled by their dedication to God, to our faith, and to our parish.  We are inspired by their witness.  

I headed out the door promising my son that I would be back in plenty of time for him to get to the Church.  As I set out on my 90 minute run, these thoughts filled my mind.

Sure, I want to run for 2 hours, but I get 90 minutes.  I am blessed to have 90 minutes.  To run.  To pray.  To sing along with my music.  To see the town.  To feel the sun.  To feel the rain.  To breathe.  I also had the blessing of snuggling with Boo, having breakfast with him, and reassuring his sweet soul.  

 I had 90 minutes to offer thanksgiving for the friends and family in my life, some of whom were having great races today!    

I had 90 minutes to pray for the soul of an acquaintance from our Church family that gained her eternal life this morning after 10 months of battling cancer.  While I rest in the knowledge that she is blissfully happy, I grieve with her family who will miss her so much until they are once again re-united.  

Would I have given up 30 minutes of run time for all of that?  Yes, I would.  In fact, I would give the entire run up for that. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Y Freedom Tri 2012

Going into this race, I didn't have much in mind other than to have fun, finish, and learn some things along the way, especially with regards to nutrition on a race of this distance.  I didn't have time goals for this race because I am not very cognizant of my ability in the area of the swim or bike.  I had hoped for 25 - 26 mins on the run.  Richard gave me a time suggestion and he hit it very close! (He predicted 1:15.)

The week leading up to the race, I have noticed pain in both feet.  I didn't have any problems with this during the race, but they are aching tonight.

Woke up at 4 am and out the door by 4:35.  Arrived in plenty of time to pick up the race packet and get settled into the transition area. 

I had concerns that I would not remember certain things today, such as using my inhaler, eating, taking the gels, etc., so I wrote the plan directly onto my arm.  This was very helpful and I will probably do this again.

I left the handheld and Garmin at home and focused on relaxing as much as I could while also pushing myself, drinking on the bike and at the aid stations instead of carrying my bottle.

The Swim:
I had seeded myself with an 8:00 minute swim.  The pool was a 50 meter pool, which I had somehow overlooked.  The swim was a 300 meter swim, shorter than the CB & I tri.   I think I waited about 15-20 mins to actually hit the water.  Swimmers were sent off in 10 second increments and this was very well organized.

As I started in my swim, my chest started closing up and I began to feel my asthma take hold.  I knew I had to get a grip on this or I would be done.  My head immediately started thinking of quitting, of drowning, of having an all out attack in the water and have to be rescued.  I slowed my stroke down and even did some breast stroke to gain my control of my breathing again.  After about 30 meters or so, I felt better and fell into a comfortable stroke.  In the last 50 of the swim, I noticed several people walking in the water.  I had not noticed that the pool was shallow the entire length!  I could have put my feet down at any time, and never realized it!  I'm glad I didn't know this during my panic attack else this swim could have gone a totally different direction.    I finished the swim in 7:34.

Walked/jogged into transition and promptly ate a Cliff gel and an S cap.  This is the first time I have used a gel in over 2 years.  I knew I had to try something as eating trail mix while on a bike is a bit tricky.

The Bike:
Headed out onto the bike course which was very, very well organized and officiated.  I felt completely safe on the roads and even at the intersections.  The traffic officers and volunteers did a wonderful job keeping us in one piece.  I felt pretty good on the ride, pushing at points and backing off at others.  I kept reminding myself to conserve for the run.  I found that I actually picked up speed towards the end of the bike, which may be related to the wind that blew a nice rain in just as I ended my ride.  Bike time - 37:07

I hopped off the bike, not so gracefully, but I didn't fall, so that's always a plus!  T2 went more quickly than T1 as the shoes were easier to get on and I didn't have to mess with socks this time around.  Took another S Cap and headed out on the run as the skies opened up cooling us off and making for a fun muddy run for about 3/4 of a mile!

The Run:
The run went very well.  I felt stronger with every stride and am quite certain I had negative splits.  I passed many of the faster-than-me swimmers and cyclists that had passed me just a little while beforehand.  I tried to keep the mood fun and encouraging.  Most people were happy to be out there, but there were a few that weren't big fans of my happy mood!  I've had days like that, so I understand that mindset.
I finished the run in 25:27.   Total race time:  1:14:37.  Finished 7th in AG and 146 out of 500 participants.  

Participating in this race was fun for many reasons, but probably most importantly is because this is where the seed was planted by my great friend, Richard Last year, he invited me to run this with him as a relay and I can recall standing outside the pool fence looking on at the swimmers thinking that maybe, just maybe, I could try this one day.  Two months later, I was starting in my Master's swim class and today, I was on the other side of that fence!  

 I was able to select a military person to honor for this race, and it was on my heart to run for Luke Finney, USN.  He is an amazing young man who has already done great things in his young life.  I am blessed to know him and his family and while I know my effort in this race can not compare to what he has done, is doing, and will do, physically, I pray that this small showing of support is an encouragement to him as he continues on his path with Navy.

This race was an inspiring one to be a part of as it was meant to honor our military men and women.  There were many DAVs out on the course, serving us yet again as they cheered us on, handed out water, and directed racers to stay on the course.  I found myself thanking as many as I possibly could and being moved to tears to see so many of our older service people supporting this race and this cause.  Seeing the military representatives carry their respective branch's flag across the finish line all together was very moving.  A true moment of pride for any American!