Friday, February 7, 2014

My Journey Continues

It has been close to a year since I have regularly practiced yoga or swam. It has been over 2 years since I have ran. My body knows it. My stress knows it. My anxiety knows it. My lack of center shows. My joints ache.

Even with all of this, I have been unable for the last three weeks to change my routine.  I want to. I am praying for the willingness to start again. I have reached out to people who have worked on this very thing.  I am trying to be patient with myself. I am doing my best to not beat myself up so much. I don't think I am being so successful with that.

I was told I need to believe that I am worth it. Believe that I deserve the freedom and joy that this way of life can bring me. Please universe send me this willingness to make small changes!


Friday, September 23, 2011

1 Day till Akron Roadrunner Half Marathon

This is has been quite an off week for me. I had three tests to prepare for on Thursday. I spent last weekend freaking out about them and then studying with most of my "free" time if you want to call it that from Mon through Thurs.  Trig, Spanish and chemistry became my life this week. Feeling down that I didn't do as well as I'd hoped on my chem test. Feeling emotional. Beating myself up over not handling the stress as well as I pictured or expected. And not doing all my training days as planned.

I did get a good nights sleep last night and plan to tonight as well. I also went to my gym to swim for a little bit. It's something that I truly enjoy and was hoping it might help center me. I also added some walking in the walking whirpool thing and jacuzzi time. Now I just feel more tired. But I am glad that I got to the gym. 

When I finish this blog, I am going to go to the Health and Fitness Expo to pick up my number and packet. Hopefully I will get a shot of enthusiasm from the energy there. I guess I just have to accept that I had a much more stressful week this week, than the week prior to my first sprint triathlon. And let go of whatever my finish time will be. I'd really like to hit the sub 3:30, but we will see.  Namaste.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Race Day - August 7, 2011 - Part Three

I crowded in with the all the 15-29 year-old swimmers, the buzzer went off and we ran for the water. Instantly, the intensity of the water was felt. I feel pretty confident in my swimming, but this made me feel like I was going to drown. I tried to get into a rhythm, but then a wave would crash down on me. I got to where I could barely touch and I doggie paddled for a little bit. It felt like I was going no where and fast. There was a group of heads bobbing up and down ahead of me. I tried to imagine them pulling me along like I do in running. I noticed people walking the water. I determined that if I seriously felt like I was going to drown that I would get out and walk. I was starting to feel this way. So I flipped to my back for a little relief. It's normally what I do when I get too tired with the front stroke. It was nice to be able to breathe consistently. The waves were a bit disturbing, but at least I could stay on top of the water.

I knew I had passed the first buoy and there were two more to pass until I got to the last one. I was pretty sure that I had passed the first one, and never noticed the second. The water was a great temperature, and the sand felt like sand and not algae like in Munroe Falls Lake. I started to get used to the waves and water, so I dug in and front stroked. I finally saw the last buoy. I dug in harder. One stroke after another, I knew I would get there. I was getting tired, but knew somehow I would get there. Getting around the buoy was also tricky with the waves and other people trying to get around it as well. Then I was attempting to get out at the finish line, but the waves kept taking me up the shore. Finally, I got to where I could walk and get out of the water. As I was walking up the beach with my quickly sand covered feet, a woman came up behind me and told me that I was a great swimmer. She said that she was swimming behind me and just kept following me. I figured if she had been behind me for awhile that she must be a great swimmer too. I told her that, we washed our feet off and wished each other good luck. 24 minutes.

I got to my transition station. Wiped my legs and feet off. Sat down to try and pull my socks on over my sandy feet. Tied my shoes.  I bet it would be a you tube hit to try and watch me put on my bike shorts while being wet from swimming. Not a pretty sight. I looked around to see if anyone was watching me. There were other swimmers in the same boat as me yanking their bike shorts onto their wet skin. I ate/slurped a Hammer Gel and drank lots of water. Grabbed my bike and headed to the transition exit. My first transition took 7 minutes and 11 seconds. This is kind of shameful, but makes me laugh. That is a really long transition time! I can hear Linda, Cassie's mom, now telling me that I could've shaved a lot of time off if I had been quicker.

Bike Portion of GCT at railroad tracks
There was a couple in front of me. This is where the ages on the calf becomes a little annoying. Their ages were 64 and 65. Yea. The man looked extremely fit though. Here comes the positive thinking reel. . .I'm only comparing me to me. It's not a race. My goal is to finish. Imagine they are pulling you forward. I made my way out of the park. It was interesting to be on the roads. The biggest hill was the bridge over the expressway. One pedal at a time I made it up the hill. I ended up passing the woman who told me I was a good swimmer. It was a beautiful morning. The storm clouds completely passed and we had blue skies. It was challenging, and I was worried about being able to finish. So, I focused on enjoying the moment. I soon came to where my friends were volunteering at the rail road tracks. I did slow down so that Cassie had time to grab my camera and shoot a quick photo. After the railroad tracks came the wind tunnel that ran along the expressway. It was very odd, as I had never bike against the wind before. There was  woman who I had seen previously that chatted for a moment and encouraged me along my way. The next was the road into the park to transition again.
1 hour, 4 minutes, and 55 seconds.

My second transition, I racked my bike, ripped my bike shorts off as quick as I possibly could and put on my running shorts. I ate another Hammer Gel, Raspberry (my favorite), downed some water and walked to the start for the run. They handed me Gatorade. I asked if it was the low-calorie. They said no. I drank two glasses anyways and quickly started to feel sick to my stomach. I also needed to go to pee, but had no idea where the bathrooms were and didn't want to take the time to stop. 4 minutes and 16 seconds.

I think I crossed the start for the run. The sensation of switching from bike to run is completely weird because of the different sets of muscles. So I walked part of it. I was starting to feel tired, plus the sick stomach feeling wasn't helping. I saw my friend Shana Jane, her daughter Sophie and our friend Ebony as I was heading out. It was wonderful! I hugged Shana. It was a surprise to see Ebony. It was all very encouraging and fun. A great way to start the last leg of my triathlon.  I ran/walked through the path to the parking lot. I'm so used to saying hello to everyone on the trail when I'm training, that I started to say hello or good luck to people that were coming in. I also tried to tell myself that it was only 3 miles and I would be done. My legs were tired, so I kept reminding myself that the others in front of me were pulling me along. There were some people that looked really beat up or were too focused to even respond to my good lucks. But then there were a lot of women that cheered me on as well. A few men too. Oh, and Cassie found me while riding her bike. She was all excited and energetic which helped me keep going.

The majority of the women that said 'good luck' or 'keep going' to me were wearing Grunt Girls Racing jerseys. It was very refreshing. It was also really cool, because I had been thinking about joining GGR. The way they acted on the course without even knowing me was awesome and very encouraging.  I made it to the 1 mile marker and knew the turn around would be coming soon. It was very sunny and open which meant not much shade for the middle part of the run. Thankfully there was a water station at the turnaround. After getting more water and running around the cone for the turnaround, I felt like I was nearing the end. I really tried to focus on the next hundred feet in front of me because I was tired. There were some real fast runners that passed. I wasn't really paying attention at this point. I think my pace for the run was the fastest I've ever run a 3.1, so even though I felt really tired I was going at a good pace for me. Plus, I still had to pee.

Fred and I heading to the finish line. The END!

Fred ended up walking down to find me and ran/walked with me all the way to the finish. I'm a big high-fiver, so I gave him a high-five for finishing. He had a finish of 1 hour and 35 minutes.  We chatted as much as I could muster up towards the end. There was a little girl probably 11 or so that wished me good luck and various other people along the way. It meant a lot that they didn't know, but cheered anyways. I got to where I could see Shana, Ebony and Sophie again. For some reason, I thought they were at the finish line and I slowed down. Then Shana told me the finish line was up ahead. I started jogging again. The Finish Line was huge and there was a race photographer. I think this is where I got a cold bottle of water from a volunteer. 43 minutes and 30 seconds. A total race time of 2 hours, 23 minutes and 50 seconds. I had projected that it would take me anywhere from 2 hrs and 45 min. to 2 hrs and 30 min.

I was happy to cross that finish line! My body really wanted to keep going, it was hard to stay still to talk to people at the end. They also gave me my finisher medal at the finish line. It was probably one of the biggest adrenaline rushes that I have had in a really long time! It took some time for my brain to catch up after I finished. I still sort of felt like I was going to puke, and still had to pee. I finished. I had just completed a triathlon. I had just completed a freaking triathlon. I was able to do something challenging that I never would have guessed that I could do a few years ago.  Granted it wasn't just me, but my higher power and everyone that had supported me along my journey. Kristy and Shannon joined us at the finish. I met some of the Grunt Girls. I got some free food for Shana, me and Sophie. I was impressed that they had Lara Bars. They are my favorite! Thankfully Shana and Ebony took photos of me after I finished. It really was a beautiful day all around. We all got to go to Pickle Bill's and decompress afterwards. And hear about some infamous history of Pickle Bill's.

I had started to feel a little sad that it was over, but tried to stay in the moment the best that I could. Someone called us triathletes.  I had that split second reaction of looking at Fred like it didn't include me. And realized, oh, yeah, I just completed a triathlon. I guess that does make me a triathlete. Hmmm. I like the sound of that. I like breaking down walls and re-creating who I am. It may be challenging, but completely worth it! Namaste.

Race Day - August 7, 2011 - Part Two

I got up at about 5:10 am on Sunday morning practically wide awake.  I did end up showering because that is part of my wake up routine. I did my yoga practice in Linda's living room. Fred ended up doing the last half with me which was great to be able to introduce someone to yoga. I drank a protein shake and took a banana for the road. I put on all needed items for the beginning of the tri and finished packing my bag for the day. I couldn't find my watch in the morning. I looked several times which included taking everything out of my bags and putting it back. Still no watch. As much as I wanted it to be able to pace myself, I took it as a sign from my higher power to be in the moment. I have a tendency to be a clock watcher and felt it would stress me out too much to have a watch. Cassie had offered me hers, but I declined hoping that it would help me stay focused on the moment.

Thankfully Cassie drove us over the Mentor Headlands State Park where the triathlon was being held. We got there around 6:30 a.m. My little inferiority complex kicked in to high gear telling me that everyone was going to know that I was new. Because of my mountain bike and lack of "race gear". I was able to keep going and get distracted by getting my race packet. It included my number, 339, for running, my number for my helmet, and my bike. Yes, I'm a dork and liked that my number was a compilation of a number, 9, that was divisible by the two other numbers, 3. I don't typically like odd numbers, but I liked these ones. Thank goodness! I didn't need any bad number ju-ju. Then I got get my body marked with my number on my right and left arm. Oh, and let's not forget that they put your age on your calf. I understand that I am only 29, but this also allows you to know the age of the people that are passing on bike or run portions. My packet also contained my fluorescent yellow swim cap for my age group - 15-29.

We then headed to the transition area where only people racing were allowed. I took my bike in, found the rack for my number and started setting up my transition for swim to bike and bike to run. At this point, the sun was coming up, the sky was cloudy but blue, and you could smell the beach. There were several other people setting up their transition areas, and I felt sick to my stomach. I haven't been that nervous in quite some time. I called my friend, Shana Jane. She reminded me that everyone had a first triathlon at some point, that it was okay to be new and be a learner that day. I took a deep breathe and tried to take in what she said. I also took some Rescue Remedy (homeopathic remedy for anxiety), so that hopefully my nerves would calm down somewhat. I also was able to go to the bathroom (i.e. take a dump), and Cassie says that it is going to be a good race if this happens. We made another bathroom stop for Fred, and headed to the beach.

Mentor Headlands State Park for GCT - 7:15 a.m.
  I love the water, sand, waves, fresh water smell, etc. Behind us in the picture are all the people walking to the swim start for the sprint and international distance triathlon. This is where Cassie said good-bye. Notice my body marking on my right arm and the fluorescent cap that I'm holding. And our handy dandy ankle bracelets that track our times. I'm pretty sure that Fred was just as nervous as I was.

January 2006

I've had really mixed emotions about this whole experience. It usually ends in feeling surreal. It is connected to why I named my blog Big Girls Practice Yoga Too. I was extremely overweight for the majority of my life and I'm still larger than the average woman (whatever that is.) But I have to say I never thought that I would do a triathlon. I had run in high school a little bit to lose weight, but that was pretty much it. I enjoyed it a little, but it just seemed too hard. Too much energy, too much exertion. So, I quit. It seems that when I am one way for a long period of time, I put myself in a box with all these labels. Such as, I'm fat, I'm ugly, I'm lazy, stupid, etc. And it takes a long time to lose those labels and replace them with new ones. This training journey including yoga has been helping me to re-train my brain, but the residual effects are still there. I included the photo to the left for people that have never known me at that size and for myself to remember what it used to be like. It probably isn't my top weight. I probably have very few photos from that period as I avoided photographs.

Back to the triathlon. My start time was supposed to be 7:45 a.m. At that time though, they still hadn't started the international distance. It had gotten very cloudy and dark. There were people in kayaks on the water, and the waves were extremely large! It seemed more like we were at the ocean than Lake Erie. There was talk of the swim being canceled, most people were hoping it was only delayed. I met this very nice young woman named Hannah who just moved from Florida and was a med student at Case Western Reserve. It was great to meet someone new and have a distraction from my race jitters. They actually were going away. I did swim momentarily in the water, just to get wet. The waves were just as rough as they looked. Nothing like swimming in Munroe Falls Lake!

Finally there was movement and we noticed the international distancers had started. There were people walking the water, it was so bad. Mickey Ryzmek had made his way down and in Mickey style with his megaphone, announced that we would start shortly.  To be continued. Namaste.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The BIG Day - Greater Cleveland Triathlon and Duathlon - Part One

 On Saturday night, I was able to drive up to Willowick to stay at Cassie's moms' house with Cassie and Fred. I am so grateful that I was able to do this, because I wasn't alone the night before the race and I was closer to the event in the morning.  After meeting Kristy, a friend of Cassie's and volunteer at the race, I got to meet Linda, Cassie's mom. And she is something else! Sarcastic funny, but also has a genuinely nice side.
Fred and I with Cassie, our fearless triathlon coach.
 I'm not so sure how often Cassie gets to see that side, but she does have one!

Kristy then drove us down the road to the Lake Erie beach. They had left Fred there so that he get meditate and get centered. So, we walked down the steep hill to the beach. It was still muggy, but somewhat cooler than the day had been. I could hear the sound of the calm water, and could feel the rough sand under my feet. It was wonderful to be on a beach even if it was Lake Erie beach. There was drift wood, stones, and rocks. The picture to left is of Fred, Cassie and I who have been training together on Wednesday nights at Munroe Falls Lake to get ready for this triathlon. Fred is a Marine veteran who also won a sweet road bike from Bike Authority in conjunction with the race. Fred had the most awesome attitude gearing up and going into the race. It was very fun to be able to do it with another newbie!

I learned I am terrible at skipping rocks, and Fred is awesome at it! We shared some good laughs, Cassie took some video, and got to know Kristy a little bit. If Cassie figures out how to upload her video, I will eventually post them. She did our pre-race videos the night before and also did post-race videos too.

It was getting late, so we headed back to Linda's house. I was grateful to actually feel tired. I was slightly worried that my nervousness would keep me from sleeping. Thankfully, it didn't. Cassie suggested setting everything out the night before that I would need. So, I set out all my clothes and packed my bag with everything else that I would need for the transition. An important thing to note is that I had started hydrating on Friday. Making sure that I drank  probably anywhere from 8-16 ounces of water every hour to hour and a half. On Saturday, I continued to hydrate and added electrolyte powder to my water 2 -3 times. Emergen-C makes a great zero calorie Electro-mix. It comes in packets and you just add it to a liter of water. I did not want hydration to be a problem, especially if I could prevent it.

After some chatting and last minute prep, we actually started to get ready for bed. Linda told us that there were towels we could use for tomorrow. I asked Kristy and Cassie, if it was stupid to shower before a triathlon. It felt a little ridiculous, but a shower always helps me wake up and feel refreshed. They of course said, "No, not at all, if it helps you feel refreshed." Linda sure didn't miss her chance. All of a sudden, a voice from another room says, "Yes, it's stupid." I had no idea where the voice came from. I thought it was Fred from the basement. Here it was Linda from the living room. She had me laughing so hard, I thought I was going to cry. Finally, we settled into our room arrangements, set our alarms, and said our goodnights at about 11/11:30 p.m.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tri Training - 4 days til Greater Cleveland Triathlon and Duathlon

There were 3 of us there tonight for our tri training. Cassie is working at the event, and Fred and I are both doing the Sprint Triathlon. It was fun. Cassie looked up what the times were for the first and last finisher in both of our age categories. That was interesting. I think the last finisher in my age group (15-29) was at least an hour and a half. I don't think it was two hours. Oh well, I'm not doing this to try and place. I will just be happy when I finish the 600 meter swim, 12 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run(/walk.)

We also talked about the transitions, the timing Velcro ankle bracelet, and transitions. Oh and not trying to beat the other people racing, so that you end up pushing too hard and making yourself crash. To concentrate on your own pace and your own abilities. These are all reminders that I need. And I am really impressed by the technology of the ankle bracelets. There are sensors for each entry and exit for each leg AND for the transitions. Awesomeness. At this point, my transitions should be pretty quick, since I don't have special cycling shoes to change into.

So, after all this talking, we got to do about a 7 mile bike ride which took about 35 minutes. Then I did one lap around the lake which is a little more than a mile. It was rainy and we decided to skip the swim tonight. I got to adjust my seat, so that my leg could straighten out better. It made a big difference in the ease of pedaling.

I have a bike rack to borrow through the Triathlon. I have a helmet that I'm borrowing for a month or two.  One of the things that I am lacking is bike shorts. Cassie says they make a huge difference. I think I'm going to check out Dick's on Friday and see if they sell them. Cassie is lending me a number waist belt. I'm so excited and nervous. They really are the same emotion. I am going to practice the whole one day at a time attitude. And start visualizing finishing each leg of the tri when I get worried about it.

Very grateful that I am able to stay at Cassie's moms' house the night before. Not that I couldn't have driven the hour to Mentor, but it's just nice to be there closer in the morning. And have the camaraderie the night and morning before the tri. It will probably be challenging, but I think it will be fun and completely worth it! I'm also looking forward to be able to see the Headlands Park. Overall, I think I'm pretty prepared, and able to finish. For today, I have done what I can to prepare. Namaste.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Week 8: Long Run - 9.5 miles

I spent part of the week leading up to Saturday being nervous about what would be my longest run/walk yet. In an attempt to re-route my thinking, I started visualizing run/walking the 9.5 miles. This did help calm my nerves. Along with reminding myself that the actual day wasn't here yet, and being in moment needed to remain my focus as well. I got to go to sleep at a decent time Friday night which was about 11 p.m.

I woke up at about 6:10 a.m. wide awake. This is new for me. I used to hit the snooze alarm at least 3-4 times before getting out of bed on a Saturday. And now I can't even fall back to sleep for one snooze hit. I did my yoga practice as usual. It is getting slightly easier to have non-judgement about my thoughts while meditating and practicing which helps to be in the moment too.

I got my gels, water bottles, and key holder for my shoe gathered up and set out for the Cascade Valley Towpath trailhead on Memorial Parkway to meet Allison. Being nervous can make me cranky, so I'm glad Allison was chipper because it dispelled my cranky nerves. With a reminder to not go all out on the first mile, we set off north on the trail. We had just walked together on Thursday night, so it amazes me just how much we actually have to talk about.

We hadn't went very far on this trail when we run/walked it on Wednesday. So, we didn't really know where we would go or what was where as far as restrooms and water stops.  This actually made me miss Sand Run trail. It just goes to show how much the familiar is comfortable just because it is familiar.  I knew the trail markers, the rest stops, the scenery and the people. This trail felt like a stranger. But a stranger that I wanted to get to know. 

One of the nice things about the Towpath is that it was pretty flat compared to Sand Run on the section that we run/walked. It was also nice to have new scenery, new things to discover. The Towpath ran into Merriman Road which is the road that Sand Run is off of. I got to show Allison where Blimp City Bike Shop is. That's the shop that is fixing up my mountain bike. Passed Bruegger's Bagels. We also tried our new Hammer Gel. Allison tried orange and I tried the raspberry. I had been using Clif's Shot Blok's Electrolyte Chews which are kinda like gummies. So the actual gel was an odd texture and taste. Not bad, just odd. The raspberry Hammer Gel reminded me of a less sweet, more runny version of jelly. I'm not sure that I noticed a performance difference between the two. I like them both.

Soon we got to our half way point (4.75 miles), it was so exciting. I wasn't exhausted and I didn't feel like puking. A little crazy that we had to go back the same distance that we had just come, but one step at a time we'd be able to do it. Allison had also recently realized that we hadn't come across a bathroom or a water stop. We decided to ask a fellow runner. He happened be quite a cute fellow according to Allison. He suggested that we get water and use the bathroom at Bruegger's. We walked over the grass barrier and headed into Bruegger's.

It was comforting to see that we were not the only ones who were sweating at Bruegger's. It was a hopping joint for 8:30/9 am in the morning. I just remembered that is was really quite foggy the majority of the morning. It was appreciated as the Towpath trail is not as shady as the Sand Run trail. For some reason we didn't do as much positive talk this morning throughout our entire run/walk as we have on other mornings. Saturday, it was probably about the last 3 miles.

I really ended up liking the Towpath trail. It was probably better practice for the actual half-marathon because it was more open, and it has a section that is run on the sidewalk.  I also liked that because the tri doesn't have road closings for the race. The people were just as friendly as they were on the Sand Run Trail too. The last mile to mile and a half were probably the toughest. Allison feet and one knee started to bother her again. So, we tried to go it slow and steady. We definitely busted out the Miley Cyrus "Party in the USA." Laughing still makes it harder to breathe, but it helps my mood so I guess it's worth it.

We probably walked the majority of the last half mile. But we made it back to the beginning of the trail in 2 hours and 35 minutes. It was such a thrill to yet again complete another run/walk that I used to think would be impossible! My body was sore enough. I could tell that I just ran/walked 9.5 miles, but nothing particularly hurt except the side of my neck. The tendon or whatever that is in the front of my hips seemed to be the most sore thing other than my neck. Overall, I was in pretty decent shape.  Oh, the last notable thing that I noticed was that I actually had sweat dripping down the front of my lower leg.  I don't know that I've ever noticed that before. And it wasn't just one lone drop sliding down my leg. It was a lot of sweat on both legs. I think that I'm just fascinated that I was able to exercise enough for this to happen. Namaste.