Run and Done

I’m a liar. I lie to my family, my friends, my coaches, and even myself. This past weekend, I lied to strangers. Funny think is, I know a large number of those people were lying too. We knew it and we were ok with it.

Let me explain. I ran the Vernonia Half Marathon on Sunday. This was the third time I’ve done this race, and it has become my favorite half. Two years ago, it was the first half marathon I had ever done, and that was a huge milestone at 52 years old. Of course I cried when I crossed the finish line. I was escorted the whole 13.1 miles by my fellow Honey Badgers, and I knew I wouldn’t have been able to finish without their help and support.

My support group

My support group of Honey Badgers-the best, most badass girls in the world.

Since that date, I have run 9 half marathons, 2 full marathons, 3 triathlons, and countless 5k’s, 10k’s, and relays. During this time, I spent much of the later part of 2012 and the first half of 2013 injured. I alternated between NOT running and doing Physical Therapy, to running TOO much, and hurting myself again. Like Winnie the Poo, I am a person with “little brain”. SO, I got a one on one coach to help me “Be healthy, train smart, and have fun.” (PRS Fit)

Working with a coach and being a member of an international team of athletes keeps you on your toes….and in the pool…. and on the bike. It also keeps you from buying Doritos and having “just one more glass of wine” at night. You see your weekly workouts and wonder, “How the heck am I going to do that?” And you DO it. Some days the challenge seems easy. Other days, you set off for a series of fast running intervals, only to succumb to a severe asthma attack, get scared, throw up, and cry. THEN you walk a little because, after all, you’re three miles from home, and what are you going to do? You get home, log your workout and wait for your coach to review and comment on your amazing effort.

This is where the lying begins. I tell myself that I am NOT a good athlete. I tell myself that I am not strong, not fast, not “worthy” of my team and my fellow athletes. The words “I am a poser” have crossed my lips more times than I dare admit. Silly I know, but I imagine you might have had these thoughts from time to time, as well.

These lies are poison. They are death to the mind, the ego, and the soul. I am making a commitment to end the repetitive negative self talk that accompanies me on my athletic journey. I know I will struggle with this, but I will keep at it, like I will keep doing my interval runs, despite my asthma. Like I will go lap after lap in the pool, until I am dizzy and shriveled. Like I will endure the pain in my legs while cycling uphill in zone 4. Like I will continue to work out, log, learn, and improve.

This past few weeks, as I was training for the Vernonia race, I struggled with every run. I had serious doubts about finishing the race at all. I told my coach I wasn’t looking to PR, but I wouldn’t mind at least finishing as fast as my LAST PR back in December during the Holiday Half Marathon in Portland. That was my best race ever, despite a nervous stomach and some GI issues around mile 5.

         PR'd at 2:04:58

It was a chilly day in Portland, but perfect running weather for a race!

What I didn’t tell my coach was that SHIT YEAH, I wanted to PR! I wanted to break 2 hours, to be exact. But I lied. I didn’t think I had it in me, so I stuffed it. I was afraid of failing, of admitting to myself that I thought I could do it, and afraid of….WHAT exactly? I don’t know. Coach gave me a plan, and I committed it to memory. I still didn’t know if I had another 2:04 in me.

The morning of the run, I was surrounded by the familiar faces of dozens of my running friends. It was a glorious morning, in the low 40’s to start, with temperatures expected to reach the 70’s by afternoon. The sky was blue and the trees were all in bloom. Talk about beautiful! The first mile or so of the course is downhill, so you have to be a bit careful not to blow out your legs by going too fast too early in the race. The rest of the course is fairly flat until the last 3-5 miles, where you gradually go uphill the whole time. Last year, this uphill killed my damaged Achilles. I walked a lot that year. THIS year, however, I was determined NOT to let it stop me.

I ran my “plan” and found myself just a little ahead of my time at the mile marks. I felt pretty good, so I just kept on going. I chatted with friends along the way, but got into my own head and kept on pushing myself forward at a steady pace. I set my sights on a few people ahead of me that I knew were shooting for a sub 2 hour finish and tried to keep up with them. I got an amazing compliment from a young 20 something year old girl who said as she came up beside me; “I’ve had you in my sights for a while, and it was my goal to catch you.” What? Me?

I did all my secret tricks for staying focused on this run, like repeated mantras in my head, said lots of prayers, and replayed my coach’s words of encouragement. I knew I was on target to beat my stated goal and now I was HUNGRY to beat that 2 hour mark. Doubt is a bastard though, and in the last 3/4 of a mile, my body started listening to the devil within me. EVERYTHING started to hurt: my knees, my IT band, my “bad” ankle, my blister on the bottom of my foot, and my head. Three times I stopped for just a second or two to stretch and just say “NO” to the noise. When I saw the last short steep downhill switchback, just before the finish line, I barreled around a group of runners, and made the last effort to get it done. My official finish time was 2:00:29. I had beat my recent PR by over 4 minutes!

2014-04-13 12.00.52Boy, did that feel great! I had a great run, on a great day, and proved to myself that I am not a poser. I’m a strong, determined competitor that is still improving. From now on, I will not lie about my goals. I wonder how well I would have done if I had admitted to myself and my coach that I wanted to finish in under 2 hours. Well, in about 2 weeks, I am running the Tacoma Half Marathon, and I WILL beat that time. I hope to tell you all about it!

Do you hide your goals behind your fears or doubts? Do you lie to yourself? Let’s agree to work on that, shall we?

 

 

 

 

100K on Jan 1st

Woohoo, I just banked 100K! No, it wasn’t money, it was kilometers. On a bike. In temps between 35-39 degrees. Without shoe covers. Yeah, I’m an idiot.

These past few months have been crazy with activity, challenges, and changes. I have been too busy to blog, and too overwhelmed to even THINK of things to blog about. But, today I will put down some thoughts.

I cut eleven inches off of my hair in August. Yep. It was the best decision! I love the freedom of short hair, and the fact that I don’t even need a brush anymore. I can dry it in five minutes!

The new ME

The new ME

Yeah, I know, I look ten years younger. Haha, I FEEL 10 years younger, actually. I’m doing the “Benjamin Button” thing this year.

I’ve been training with a maniacal (and hugely effective) Triathlon coach since May, and I am doing some form of training seven days a week. This training is all based on heart rate, and if my resting HR is 8-10 beats per minute higher than it should be, I get a day off. This has only happened once in the past three months. If you told me a year ago that I would be doing this much physical activity at this age, and still functioning, I would have laughed in your face and eaten another bag of Doritos. For the record, I haven’t had Doritos since the Summer. Farewell my spicey friend, I miss you so. True confession time: I actually did eat these in Mexico in November:

nachosTechnically they are not Doritos, so it doesn’t count.

When I returned from my trip to NY in October, I made the decision that it was time to downsize. For the past eight years, I have been living in a 3000 SF, 5 bedroom, 4 bathroom house, with a 3 car garage. My children live out of State, and are not coming back, so there is no reason to hold on to this size house anymore. Some long term tenants recently gave their notice, so this was the “Speak now or forever hold your piece” moment. Little did I know what I was about to experience. The idea of downsizing sounds all sorts of sexy. It’s not.

A lifetime of accumulated articles of memories, baby clothes, kids’ school projects, camping and rafting equipment that hasn’t been used in years, client files, 2 snow shovels that have never been used,…you get the picture. Did I mention that the new house doesn’t have a garage? Moving day was December 20, 2013. Oh wait, no. It was actually supposed to be the 19th, which was the date I put on the lease my new tenant, (moving into the big house) signed. OOPS!!! It didn’t help that I went to Mexico for 10 days to celebrate Thanksgiving with family! I already had started to loose my mind before the trip; evident by the fact that I arrived at the airport with my expired Passport and missed my flight.

Patty missed flight

This is my “I missed the flight because I am a dork, and now I have to take a later flight alone” face.

In the end, I made it and kept my cool.

Back to my training. While in Mexico, I continued my daily training, because, 1) I eat and drink like a college student while on vacation, and 2) My other “team mates’ and I were in a Team Challenge that included doing daily prescribed workouts, logging them, and posting video proof on Facebook, for bonus points. I wanted to win this challenge, so I went full speed ahead, despite the alcohol poisoning that was, no doubt creeping up on me. I wasn’t a total lush on vacation, and some days I actually had healthy food. Who wouldn’t when this kind of stuff is available and CHEAP?

Patty's healthy breakfastSome days we even had a late morning or afternoon snack of a Pina Colada in the container that Mother Nature provided, as is demonstrated by my able bodied assistant, daughter Audrey:

Coconut, courtesy of one of our trees.

Coconut, courtesy of one of our trees.

The trip was fantastic. I got all of my workouts in and posted, including some fun videos of me “suffering through” the crappy weather, all in the name of fitness. Who’s kidding who? This is pretty much what I felt like every day in Mexico, knowing that I was not in the cold Pacific Northwest in November:

Happy girl in MexicoOne week after I returned, this happened:

20 degrees with a wind chill factor of 10

The cold reality that is my REAL life hit like a steel door in the face. Winter had arrived in Portland and I was not prepared for the sudden shift. I got over it after a real breakdown on the Portland Waterfront.

I have much more to tell you and for today, I will leave you with this. Happy New Year and I will be back more regularly to thrill you with my escapades!

Let’s all Take a Chill Pill

I am a news junky. I read several different news websites daily, and scan the comments at the bottom of most stories to see what peoples’ reactions are. Here’s mine: Holy Mother of God. What’s wrong with everyone? Seriously, I have about had it with all the verbal attacks, whining, name calling, and negativity out there. Yesterday I was driving and witnessed more than three different episodes of “road rage” within a half hour. Does anyone have any coping skills anymore?

What gives, people?

What gives, people?

Short and sweet:

Today I have decided to write a post that doesn’t have anything to do with  running or triathlon training. My blog is about how I navigate through my own challenges and how I am seeking to do positive things as life “throws stuff” in my way. Well, damned it, people are bombarding my world with crap and I’m sick of it.

Maybe it’s that government shut down that had everyone on edge. Maybe it’s the fat ass hypocrites we voted into office. Maybe it’s the change of seasons, the economy, the fact that you can’t get a decent cup of coffee for less than $3.10 anymore. I don’t know, and I don’t care. Stop treating people like garbage because your world isn’t perfect!

As I write this, I have just come from being with a friend that has cancer in just about every major organ of his body.Chemo has caused his hair to fall out, and his coloring is different every time I see him. Guess what? He was smiling  and making jokes. The only negative thing he said was that the Chemo or Radiation makes things sound  like he is in a wind tunnel, and his eye sight was weird. No complaints. No bitching. Just facts. He wasn’t angry. His smile was radiant.

So here are my questions: Is the world going to be a better place if you scream at someone? Is the person on the receiving end of your criticism deserving of your wrath? Do you need to step back and made the DECISION to be  positive?

Take a chill pill once in a while. At least switch to decaf.

 

Facing My Fear Part Two-Race Day!!!

 

Race Day, Montauk Might Many Sprint Triathlon

The alarm went off at 4:14am, not that I needed it, because I had been awake most of the night. I wondered if any other participants were as worked up as me.

Like most athletes, I have a specific morning routine that I follow, down to the smallest detail. I drink a cup of tea with honey, a toasted gluten free bagel with almond butter, jelly, and Chia seeds. I have to get up early enough for this to digest, so I can…ahem…leave a little of it at home, so to speak. With the race day jitters I am a frequent user of all-that-is “toilet”.

My race day equipment was packed. I had a bucket filled with towels, a plastic garbage bag, bike and running shoes, socks, extra water bottles, 2 swim caps, goggles, gloves, a jacket, bike helmet and glasses, inhaler, Vaseline, my phone, and God knows what else. It didn’t all fit in the bucket. I WAS going to put on my wetsuit at the house, since the starting line is just a half a mile away, but I opted against that…..I knew I would need frequent visits to the Blessed porta potties before starting. I arrived at 5:45am and the transition area was already about 75% full. The grass was wet on my flip flop clad feet and my sweat pant legs were getting damp. This pissed me off way more than it should have. (STRESS) I methodically set up my transition area, positioning everything I would need for the two changes. My helmet was perched upside down on my handlebars, with my glasses inside.  My wool socks were rolled down to the toes; my towel was ready, water bottle to wash my feet off was ready, and my bucket was turned upside down. Next to all of this were a jacket and my running shoes, and a small water bottle filled with an electrolyte drink for the run. Taped to my bike was a plastic bag with a small protein bar that I could shove  down at the start of the cycling. All that was left was for me to go to the bathroom six more times and put on my wetsuit.

Good morning athletes! Do you like my fake smile?

Good morning athletes! Do you like my fake smile?

Approximately thirty minutes before the scheduled start of the swim, I took a long pull or two on my inhaler and proceeded to encase myself in black rubber.

The time came for all athletes to move over to the shore line and assemble in our “waves”. I was in the 4th wave: females, 40 and older. We all had white swim caps. They assigned MY group of WHITE CAPS? BORING!!! Anyway, we lined up and nervously chatted.

White cap? Yes, but I think the purple adds a little fashion. Oh, and notice the look on my face!

White cap? Yes, but I think the purple adds a little fashion. Oh, and notice the look on my face!

One by one the waves of swimmers entered the water, for their “chest-deep” start. (I assume we didn’t do a beach-run start because they didn’t want people stomping on all of the snapping turtles.) As I  moved toward the water, I felt like a cow going to slaughter. The voices in my head laughed  and told me I was going to die. Then the shivering took over. As I moved further into the lake, I looked around and had what I can only describe as an out of body experience. The only thoughts I had were: 1) Oh my God, I am really going to do this, and 2) Oh my God, I wonder how many of these people around me are peeing in this water?

There was no time to worry about pee because the next thing I knew a gun went off and my wave started. SWIM PATTY! I took a few strokes and found myself playing a water version of Twister with four other swimmers. My goggles fogged up and I couldn’t see. All I could do was TRY to swim, which was impossible because a group of us were seemingly staying in one place, wrestling. This did not please me. I tried zig zagging, looking for a way out of the churn, and I realized I wasn’t breathing at all.  CALM DOWN! Since I couldn’t see out of my goggles, or stop shivering enough to get a good breath, I flipped over on my back and did some kind of messed up version of sculling. Embarrassed by this, I flipped back over and did some breaststroke. Then for some reason, I started side stroking. SIDESTROKING?!!! Who the HELL sidestrokes??? Oh, and I was barely 25 yards from the start! I  considered giving up right then and there. Yep. BUT I DIDN’T. I decided that no matter what, I was going to finish this God forsaken swim and get out of that lake. I never warmed up enough or calmed down enough to do more than ten to twenty crawl strokes at a time. I swam on my back a lot, inventing ways to move my body through the water. I breast stoked a TON, and did my best not to drink any of the lake’s blackish green water. I wondered: “WHERE THE HELL DID ALL MY TRAINING GO?”  I kept going. I stayed on my belly all the way into the shallow water, and jumped up when it was only two feet deep because I heard that is faster than trying to run through waist deep water.

This is how I WISH I felt after the swim....hahahahaha, silly girl.

This is how I WISH I felt after the swim….hahahahaha, silly girl.

I stumbled, exhausted, out of the swamp. As I gathered what remaining strength I had left, I unzipped my wetsuit and ripped my goggles off. I found that my entire face was covered in slime. I thought it was seaweed, until I realized it was coming out of my nose and mouth. I was a phlegm factory. It took several attempts before I was able to rid myself of that shit.

By the time I ran to my bike, the swim experience was completely behind me and I was READY! I had a little trouble getting my left leg out of the wetsuit because of the bulky timing chip on my ankle, and I started to panic. I stopped, took a calming breath,  and pulled my foot out. I put my glasses and helmet on, ripped open the bag with my snack in it, and shoved the protein bar in my mouth. Never underestimate how dry those things are! I was in the very back section of the transition area so I had to navigate around several people before I exited the area. I clipped right into my pedals, headed down the street, and spit out the protein bar, for fear of choking on the damned thing.

Something happened to me as soon as I got my feet spinning. I turned into a combination of Godzilla and Jim Carey in “The Mask”. I approached other cyclists with the screaming voice; “ON YOUR LEFT!”, “PASSING!”, “On YOUR LEFT!” Oh my God, I was actually embarrassed. (Well, not really) I was a mad woman throwing my head in the air and cackling!  “You’re MINE, I tell you!”

GET OUT OF MY WAY!!!

GET OUT OF MY WAY!!!

The course has a bad ass hill about a mile into the start, that sneaks up on you and never lets go.  My lungs were in my throat half way up. I crested the top and shifted into high gear. I usually brake a little on the downhill, but this time, I just let it go. WEEEEEEEEEE. (“Oh God, please don’t let me crash, please don’t let me crash”) The ride is an out and back and the usually fierce Montauk wind behaved on this day. I rode hard, although my legs were protesting the whole way. At one point I looked down at my computer and it read 30 MPH. WHAT? The last hill was a killer and I slowed down to 11 MPH for a portion.

This lady scares me!

This lady scares me!

Before I knew it I was back in the transition area and in short order, I changed into my running shoes and grabbed my water bottle. My feet took off faster than I thought possible, and for the first mile, I had no feeling in the front half of either of them. The course circles the lake and the views are stellar. Now that I was no longer IN the lake, I enjoyed its beauty. I got a little fatigued and in an effort to avoid an asthma attack, I took a few short walk breaks. I passed a lot of people on my run and finished with a sprint.

Coming down the home stretch

Coming down the home stretch

I put it all out there that morning. When I finished, I was heaving, and wheezing, and within about a minute after the finish, the tears arrived. Like I said in my previous post, they always do. There’s a mixture of: joy, exhaustion, wonder, elation, and accomplishment that I just can’t describe. I did it. I did well. I gave my all. I didn’t die. I didn’t shit myself.

2013-09-28 10.27.41

My bike shop buddies: Pierce and Lenny, and me, enjoying our age group awards!

To some, a Sprint Triathlon is like an easy walk in the park. They could do one in their sleep. For me? It was my biggest physical and mental accomplishment since I did my first marathon last year. But in many ways it was harder. I loved it. I hated it. I laughed and I cursed. I know I will do another one. Will I ever make it all the way to an Ironman? Oh boy…. time will tell. For now, I will enjoy this memory, and keep on training.

Facing My Fear: Part One (Preparing for My First Open Water Triathlon)

The most exciting and frightening race event in my vast 20 month athletic career is now several days behind me. All the hype and stress, all the training, all the sleepless nights worrying and dreaming about everything that have gone wrong, are over. I no longer have to stare at Fort Pond, wondering if I will drown, freeze to death, be bitten by a snapping turtle, dragged under by a three foot long Carp, or worse yet, panic during the swim, shit myself and be dragged out of the water, humiliated, by one of the sexy young life guards. Whew! I survived it. No tears. (Well, they would come later as they always do) No vomit. No shitting myself.

Yep, 9 football fields worth of swimming in this.

Yep, 9 football fields worth of swimming in this.

In September 2012 I ran my first marathon in East Hampton, NY. The day AFTER that, I woke up to find athletes participating in the Montauk Mighty Man Triathlon, right outside my house! At that time, I had no idea that I would ever consider doing a triathlon, much less signing up for this very one. But after having so much fun  in the McMinnville Triathlon, I just had to sign up for the 2013 Montauk event. This would be my first open water event, and I had yet to swim in open water during any of my training. YIKES. Unleash the fear factor! You see, I have an overwhelmingly inappropriate fear of open water. This makes no sense at all, since I grew up on Long Island, was a beach life guard, and spent many a summer swimming all day and night in the deep waters of the Long Island Sound.

I just know this was underneath me every time I swam

I just know this was underneath me every time I swam

I purchased a wetsuit, endured a few evening swims in the Clackamas River with the Portland Triathlon Club, and off I flew to NY. The amount of crap you have to pack for an athletic event is nothing short of insane. I don’t think the settlers on the Oregon Trail packed this much!

The bag on the left had my athletic gear. The bag on the right had everything else I needed for a 3 week trip.

The bag on the left had my athletic gear. The bag on the right had everything else I needed for a 3 week trip.

My vacation in NY lasted 21 glorious days. The Triathlon was 19 days into the trip. That left a ton of time to train on the race course and get my open water experience to the point of being comfortable. Theoretically. It didn’t.

Warm, sunny days are common in the Hamptons in September. So are cold, cloudy, and windy days, however, as I was soon to experience. The first day of the trip proved to be in the upper 70’s and my childhood BFF Dede, who happens to be a fish in human form, was visiting us. She practically held my hand and stayed in the water with me for my first official Atlantic Ocean open water training session. I was pretty freaked out and imagined all manner of sea creatures lurking beneath my wet suit clad body, so while Dede leisurely swam a mile or two out in the deep water, I clung to the shallows, where I could touch the bottom with my hands. I figured the sharks would feast on Dede, and I could just stand up and run the two or three feet to the shore for safety. WIMP! I had three of four other swim workouts planned over the next few weeks, and I tried a few different beaches, but never got over my fear of being the only one in the water-or on the whole beach for that matter.On one particularly windy day, I squeezed my body into my wetsuit, drove to Navy Road Beach.

This is Navy Road Beach on a CALM day.

This is Navy Road Beach on a CALM day.

The usual calm bay had white caps and two foot waves crashing on the shore. I stood there for about three minutes before I turned around, got back in the car, and headed home. I think I poured myself a stiff drink and contemplated withdrawing from this race. Big Baby!

Part of being a real Triathlete means you have to learn to ride a bike with clips for pedals. This has always terrified me, but I decided to buy some cycling shoes and clips and bring them with me to Montauk, to train. My intention was to have them installed on the bike I keep in Montauk and then bring them home to put on my bike here. I had forgotten, though, that the bike I have in NY is a big fat Hybrid bike.

Big Baby-grocery hauler bike doesn't fly in a Tri

Big Baby-grocery hauler bike doesn’t fly in a Tri

The guys at the Montauk Bike Shop, Lenny and Pierce, had a few chuckles at my idea and basically thought I was nuts. (I am) They quickly talked me out of it and INTO the purchase of a used beautiful Giant Road Bike.

She's so purdy

She’s so purdy

I’m sure this won’t be the last bike I buy. I now officially started training like a “real” cyclist. Cloppy shoes and all.

Cycling training in interesting in Montauk. The freaking WIND! Usually when you ride into the wind, you at least know that when you turn around, the ride back will be glorious, with the wind at your back. Not so here, where Long Island is less than a mile wide and surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. That wind whips in circles and is ALWAYS coming at you. Suffice it to say that my bike workouts were brutal.

Other than my slacking off my swim training, and struggles with cycling, my running was going relatively well. I stuck to my plan and logged my workouts daily. I also TRIED to keep my nutrition clean and healthy. That mostly went well, except for the excessive amounts of wine, margaritas, and the crazy blended drink called a “Kahlua Banana Banshee”. HEY! IT”S GOT A BANANA IN IT!

I would like to say that my relentless training and vast experience as a competitive athlete prepared me to be calm and confident as the days lead up to this race. Not so. There wasn’t a night that went by that I didn’t spend two to three hours flopping around on the bed, imagining all sorts of horror and drama in this race. Will it rain? Will I crash my bike? Will I cry and shiver, and make an ass out of myself? Time would tell.

I boldly kept on training. Kept on stressing. Kept on imagining horrible things. But somewhere behind all of that, I stayed extremely excited about facing my fears and finishing this race. I’ve had a lot of firsts in the past year, so why stop now. Stay tuned for Part Two-The race. Here’s a preview of that morning:

Good morning athletes!

Good morning athletes!


When All Else Fails, a Good Attitude Will See You Through

What an interesting weekend. Several days ago, I was basking in the afterglow of seeing several of my “team mates” conquer an assortment of races across the country. I got  caught up in their victories, trials, struggles, and achievements, and found myself desperately seeking the adrenaline high’s they were experiencing. What can I say, I’m a lemming.

I went online and found a Triathlon nearby in Eugene, Oregon. This race offered a Sprint distance with a 700m open water swim, 14 mile bike ride, and a 5K run. I have been training in open water for the past few weeks and thought it might be a good idea to do this one for a trial run, in preparation for my Sprint Tri in Montauk, New York in September. I immediately signed up and booked a hotel room for the night before. I sent a Facebook message to my coach telling him that I put a Sprint Tri on my calendar for the following Sunday, and his response was: “Ugh”. Hmm, this concerned me. He doesn’t like when I throw things at him that are not in our plan. After three months working with me, I thought he would be used to this by now.

So, good coach that he is, he adjusted my workouts and we both pushed on. I was feeling in good spirits until a few days before the race when I received the email that said:

“The swim segment of Triathlon Eugene has been cancelled. The race will convert to a run-bike-run configuration. Working Friday afternoon with the Oregon Health Authority and Lane County Parks, and after reviewing data compiled during the week, Pacific Sports has made the decision that it is in the best interests of the participants to eliminate the swim portion of the course. We will be announcing the final details and course by Saturday afternoon once we have an opportunity to establish the course and coordinate with the timing company. The Olympic distance first-segment run is 5K and the Sprint distance is 2.5K.”

WTH???

While I am very happy that Pacific Sports decided that exposing participants to God knows what kind of algae, I was, nevertheless, disappointed. The event website was very clear from the beginning: There would be no refunds or transfer of registration, under any circumstance. Well, this was just great. Here I was, preparing for and stressing out for an event that wasn’t going to be the “real deal”. I was signed up to drive two hours,  spend money on a hotel room, and participate in a triathlon that wasn’t a triathlon, and there was nothing I could do to get my money back. Being the “adventurer” that I am, I decided to go through with it.

The packet pick up was at a CrossFit club in Eugene. While I don’t do CrossFit per se, nor do I have any objection to it, I do have one question: Do they purposefully make these clubs filthy and disgusting? I wanted to get a Tetanus shot after spending 20 minutes in the place. Whatever. Be tough, be a bad-ass, but at least make it sanitary.

While at the pick up, I stood for 10 minutes before anyone helped me, and there was only one other athlete there signing in. I was tired from my drive, so I didn’t speak up, I just kept smiling at the volunteers and hoping they would help me. (Totally disorganized) I managed to get my bib and bag, and was temporarily perplexed when they asked me what color swim cap I wanted. I laughed and said, “Oh, I’ll take the purple one, even though it’s not really a Tri anymore.” The volunteer looked at me and said, “Yes it is. You’re doing three legs.” Oh my! With a chuckle, I went back to my car and headed to my hotel.

I arrived at the Red Lion, (and I must admit, my attitude was less than perky) to find the  Hotel Display sign as follows:

Do we really want the stoned out people of Eugene, Or carrying?

Do we really want the stoned out people of Eugene, Or carrying?

My hotel room was actually pretty good and I felt great settling in. I drove out to the triathlon location to do a little trial run and ride, just to get familiar with the place, and ended up pretty much getting lost. The event website wasn’t exactly clear on the location of the start! I drove to three different parking lots before I found the right one. My nerves were starting to get to me, but I ended up having a nice little run and trial ride for about a half hour. The streets were wide, and the hills seemed to be manageable. All was good in my world.

Before the start

Look how confident and happy I am in my new short haircut!

The next morning, I got to the start early enough that I secured a great parking space, got checked in, and had time for several bathroom trips and about 1/2 hour of a warm up. I wasn’t too keen on doing the 1.5 ish mile first leg, in lieu of the swim, but I had no choice.

When the starting horn went off, I ran like crazy. I was determined to get this first segment over with as soon as possible. I am NOT a fast runner and I am certainly not a sprinter, but I knew this race was going to be set up during this first segment. I ran 8:18 minute miles for the 1.5k, which was pretty good for me, and hopped on the bike to do my 14 miles. I was NOT prepared for the hills! Holy MOTHER, they were tough! I said more than a few bad words in the first half of the bike ride, wondering why in God’s name I chose to do this, until I finally got a hold of my nerves and just RODE LIKE HELL! Several elite type cyclists passed me as well as some “regular” people, and each time, we shouted encouragements to each other. That was pretty cool.  The scenery was gorgeous and the volunteers were fantastic. Just about the time I was heading back into the transition area, it started to rain slightly.

I bounded off my bike, determined to finish strong and sprinted out for the 5k run. My legs were numb and my lungs were heaving by this time, but I managed to keep up a good pace. About halfway through my run, the skies opened up and it just poured. I thoroughly enjoyed the rain, until it was coming down so hard that it was streaming down my face. Thankfully, it was a warm day. When I saw the finish line, I tried to give it more gas, but realized I was already at capacity. I finished strong and with a huge smile on my face. I also let out a few loud “WOOHOO’s” and “YEAH!’s”.

Can you see that rain???

Can you see that rain???

By now, the rain was coming down in sheets. It was ridiculous! I quickly changed into my dry clothes and full rain gear and went back to check on the results and cheer on the other finishers. To my complete shock, I found out I had gotten 2nd in my age group and 12th overall female finisher. SERIOUSLY? WOW, I was stoked!

2nd place AG

OK, I admit it. I took off my rain gear to pose for this one.

Shortly after this photo was taken the shivering commenced and I decided to go back to the hotel and take a hot shower. I had a 2 hour drive to make and I was pretty beat.

This event turned out to be a fun time, despite all the weird twists and turns leading up to it. Would I do it again? No. Not this one. I’d prefer a more organized event. I hope my next one is better run and there’s no algae to ruin the swim. We shall see….in about 3 weeks. Stay tuned.

Have you done a triathlon? Ever thought of one?

How Did it Come to This? (What am I doing picking up a new sport at my age?)

This past year and a half, I have transformed my normal “habit” of working out, into an all out “commitment”. I’ve had high’s and low’s, but for some obsessive reason, I continue to push myself and explore new ways to challenge my body to it’s limit. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I have done so, to the degree that I didn’t recognize when the “No pain, no gain” issue got out of hand, and I found myself with some serious injuries. I hope I have learned from that. I honestly don’t know. (Insert crooked smile)

For the most part, the people in my life appear to support my new commitment, and applaud my efforts to be stronger, healthier, and more fit. But there have been a few sideways glances, raised eyebrows, and full on: “What the Hell are you killing yourself for?” questions aimed at my sweating, heaving, self.

Brutally hot runA particularly hot and difficult run in August

On the surface, all is moving ahead in what I assume is a normal progression. NOT that I have the patience for normal progression. I (of course) half expected after the past two and a half months of intensive training, that I should be able to complete an Ironman. So far, I am not exactly ready.

Case in point: Two weeks ago, I took the plunge (gotcha) and bought a wet suit so that I could start training in open water. Why, you might ask, would one need a wetsuit in August, just to go swimming? HAHAHHAHAHAHA, well, the sad truth is that in Oregon, believe it or not, our mountain fed rivers never really warm up. (And don’t even get me started with the temperatures of the Pacific Ocean! ) So there I was in  The Athlete’s Lounge, stuck in a dressing room trying on wetsuits. Nobody had ever told me that this experience is like trying to put a Champagne cork back into a bottle. Seriously! I was making loud grunting noises. I was falling over, hitting the wall, breathing hard, and sweating like a pig, and it sounded like a porno movie was being filmed! At one point, I seriously considered giving up the sport of swimming, just to avoid having to try these sausage casings on! I got stuck in the legs twice and had to sit down just to catch my breath. That’s when I took this very flattering selfie:

My God, I need my inhaler and a shower!

My God, I need my inhaler and a shower!

I am sure the people that work there have to endure months of training so they can learn NOT to laugh, roll their eyes, and generally ignore all the newbies like me that come in all pumped up and “green” announcing to everyone that they “ARE TRAINING FOR A TRIATHLON.” Oh brother.

After an exhaustive session of profuse sweating, I finally bought the damned suit. The way my mind works is this: if I spend more money than I currently have laying around the floor, doing nothing, than I have to justify it big time to myself. I made promises in the car that day that no mortal human being could ever expect to keep! I guess I’m a cheep skate with my money and like many women my age, I don’t think I deserve to spend money on myself. (I’m working on that)

So back to my new sport-the Triathlon. It seems that if you really want to call yourself a triathlete, you HAVE to compete in open water. While that doesn’t sound so bad, consider how many times you have had the opportunity to really swim in open water. How about training? Year round? Nah! Pools are great for drills and off season, but in some areas, the minute the ice melts……Polar Bear Plunge

The time had come for me to get it done. There is a group swimmers that do an open water swim in the Clackamas River, about 4 miles from my house, every Wednesday evening. I had my newly purchased wetsuit and warm summer temperatures, so I had no excuse not to join them and see how I would do. I was a tad bit overwhelmed!

It looks a lot more daunting when you have to swim in it.

It looks a lot more daunting when you have to swim in it.

There are minutely visible buoys in the upper right corner of this photo. The first leg, you swim to an orange buoy. It is not visible to my naked eye when I am standing on the shore,  securely crammed into my neoprene second skin. Time to  get ‘er done. The first time, I wasn’t prepared for the panic. The claustrophobia. The: “Oh MY GOD, I can’t even see my hands underwater-it’s so murky.” sensation. Then there was the: “Shit!, people drown in this river all the time and what if a bloated body surfaces and bumps into me?” random thought. Suffice it to say, I survived. A little shaken, but I did it. I pretty much hyperventilated the entire 1000 yards, but I didn’t embarrass myself, or drown.

I went back a second time and it was much better. The third time, I was actually kind of cocky…..for about a minute. This time, I had already done a workout in the morning that consisted of a 20 mile bike ride and a 1 mile run. By the time 6:00pm came around, I was beat. But I went anyway, because it was Wednesday night, and I am a “triathlete!” It was a tough night. I was fatigued and sore from the workouts I had done this week, and I took a few breaks. I swam breaststroke for a while, floated on my back, cursed a little. (I enjoyed that part) BUT, I finished the swim! I didn’t panic or cry, which is a good thing.

As I cooled down with my new friends, I realized that a few months ago, there would have been  no way I could have, or would have done this. But, today, I walk tall and proud. Tomorrow, I might not get out of bed, but that’s irrelevant. I wondered how it came to this and I decided it doesn’t matter. It came. I’m conquering. That’s it. Oh, yeah, and let me tell you. There is NOTHING like the badass feeling I have when I am strutting back to my car in my wetsuit!

Oh, who's that bad ass chick in the wetsuit?

Oh, who’s that bad ass chick in the wetsuit?

So, how did it come to this? I have no idea and I don’t care. I’m just taking this journey one step, cycle, and stroke at a time. What new adventure are you trying? What would you like to try? Share your story. Thanks for visiting, and please subscribe to my blog.

 

 

Quit Whining and Make a Decision

I sure hate when it feels like I am beating my head against a wall and nothing is going anywhere. I had a run last week that ended halfway through my planned time, because of painful unplanned blisters. Talk about frustrating! Just then, I looked up and saw this:

Talk about hitting the wall!

Talk about hitting the wall!

So here’s the deal. Some days the obvious is staring you in the eyeballs or slamming you in the head, like a wine hangover. It’s right there. Relentlessly knock knock knocking, until you want to run to a hilltop and scream: “OK, I GET IT! NOW LEAVE ME ALONE.”

I had one of those “aha” moments this morning, while talking to one of my coaches. I have coaches for just about everything I do. Sometimes I actually listen to them. (Although I would venture to say, they wouldn’t always agree with that) Just in case you are curious, here is my list of coaches:

Marathon Running coach, Triathlon coach, Business coach, Voice coach, Acting coach.

Depending on my level of participation in all of the above,  my commitment level varies, as does the frequency of meetings, calls, and evaluations with these very patient people. This morning I had a call with my business coach, who I speak with every two weeks. (Cringing with the knowledge that I might not have done the work he assigned to me during the previous call) This morning’s call went something like this:

Coach: “So, tell me what’s going on in your business. How many calls, notes, and client visits have you done?”

Me: “Oh, I meant to, but,  bla bla bla bla…”(Sweat drops forming on upper lip)

Coach: “Patty, RIGHT NOW, tell me what is stopping you from doing… A, B, C?”

Me: “I’m afraid.”

Coach: “Afraid of what?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Herein lies the problem. We talked about the fear of failure, of success, of everything in between, and then he helped me come to the conclusion that the reason I am meeting less that 100% of my yearly goals is because I lack confidence. (Do you have this fear? Do you ever admit it to yourself?) It’s certainly not something I advertise, but it is something I know, deep down inside, and carry around shamefully.

On the outside, most athletes and competitive people exude confidence, bravado, and grit. Inside, however, at least SOME of the time, we are not feeling that at all. It’s kind of like my Chihuahua: all tough and “in charge”, until you get too close.

Hi world. I might bark at anything that moves, but when it moves back????

Hi world. I might bark at anything that moves, but when it moves back????

We talked about roadblocks to success and it all boiled down to the ability to make decisions. Lack of confidence hinders that ability. Confident people make decisions faster, and without fear. Think about it. The next time you think of some goal you would love to achieve, how will you respond? Will you commit immediately and set the wheels in motion to go get it? OR will you hem and haw about how there’s not enough time, it’s too big of a goal, or maybe you will think you are not ready, good enough, strong enough? Here is another excerp from my coaching conversation:

Coach: “Patty, when I tell you to act now on your goal, what does that mean to you?”

Me: “Well, I guess it means to start today.”

Coach: “Ok, write down this definition of NOW.”

Me: “ok.”

Coach: ” NOW means EFFING NOW!”

OK, I got it. (Knock knock knocking) He’s right, of course. It is so obvious.

When I decided to run my first marathon, I immediately called a coach and got a plan. When I saw some issues with my improvement after coming back from a sports injury, I got a Triathlon coach. I have all these coaches, but I am the one that has to make the decisions and take the action necessary that will assure I will reach my goals.

So, here, now, today, I am pressing the REGISTER button on the MightyMan Montauk Sprint Distance Triathlon. This will be my second sprint tri, but my first open water experience. My competitive nature wants me to do the Olympic Distance, but I am taking the safe route and seeing how I do in open water. (There’s that confidence thing again.)

Oh, and coach Billy, in case you read this, I have scheduled a lender lunch and am writing an offer today. I heard you. Thanks for being my supporter and “hit me over the head as many times as you need to-er”.

So my advice today is to make decisions, learn from them, and do something to move yourself forward this day, NOW. Think of the rewards.

Are you a good decision maker? Have you jumped into a huge goal that brought you to a stellar achievement. I’d love to hear your story.

Keeping My Sense of Humor and Learning Something

No Pain, No Gain? Whatever! Sure, working out consistently is hard, makes me sweat, stink, moan, and curse, but it also makes me laugh my head off. Ever since I made the conscious decision that I was going to become a legitimate athlete, I have learned to wallow in the fact that I  have a very sick and silly sense of humor. Sometimes (well, more than sometimes, actually) it is very ill timed and inappropriate, too. Hey, if you can’t learn to laugh, you’re doomed.

Recently I had a terrible bike accident. While this wasn’t funny at the time, I found it to be both fascinating and humorous later on. And because of it, I learned a valuable and useful lesson!

After the pot hole, the skid

After the pot hole, the skid

Two weeks after this happened, I rode back to the exact spot to do some forensics. I was actually proud that my skid mark was still there! I even was able to see the trail I took that lead to my flop over the embankment. EPIC!!! Of course I took several photos because I am a sicko.

My trail to the crashYou can kind of see my tire tracks as they lead to the abyss. I wish I had a video of my going over that cliff-it would have been hysterical. (Except for the Stinging Nettle part) I’m certain that I looked like a rag doll flopping through the air. No “tuck and roll” for me-I was flat out flying and landed in a splat; upside down and tangled.

Two weeks later, I returned to the same bike path to test my nerve and re trace my ride. As part of this memorial training ride, I added additional miles and stopped at the Information Center at Stub Stewart State Park. I learned that if you get Stinging Nettles in you, you can use the underside of a common fern to ease the pain. Who knew? (Apparently the Ranger knew)

Brush the brown leave-underside of the fern on the pain.

Brush the brown leave-underside of the fern on the pain.

I have decided to add fern leaves to my fuel belt-just in case. I suppose if I wrapped myself in them, I could have something to cushion my fall the next time, too. It was too coincidental that the Park Ranger was talking to someone about this just as we rode up to the Center. HMMM, maybe it’s a common problem in these here parts.

I learned another thing that that day that I probably already knew.  Working out makes me STINK. I mean, really! Sure, it was a warm day and I rode 22 miles at a Tour de France pace and all, but I shutter to think what is going on inside my body to produce such vile stank! I remember when I was a newbie runner four years ago. Sometimes I actually showered before going to training runs and races. HA! Now, I see the idiocy in that. Maybe it’s the Dry Fit clothing? Could it be the Tapitio Doritos that I am having an affair with? The hummus I consume by the barge full? Who knows? Who cares, it’s funny! (Oh don’t turn your nose up, you stink too) Thank God most of my workouts involve the outdoors and fresh air or I would have no friends.

I actually Googled this and found out that sweat doesn’t really stink! It’s the bacteria that bacteria that feeds on your sweat that causes the stink. Or so the experts say. I may have to start re-evaluating my diet. Naaa.

Today on a run, I learned that the shoes I have been experimenting with are not going to make the cut. Recurring blisters suck big time. This is not funny. I have spent 5 months looking for the perfect running shoe that will work for my Shrek feet. If you’ve read some of my earlier blogs, you can learn about my darling feet. Fat, gnarly feet. Athletic shoe companies do not use feet like mine for their fit models, trust me. I have run my way through four different brands this year and am pretty sure I have found the one shoe that will be my favorite. I just need a little more time with them before I tell you about it.

Do you have challenges with athletic wear? What have you learned during your training sessions? I’d love to hear what you have overcome. It inspires me. Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

Saved by a Bicycle Helmet

Life is precious. How many times have we heard this before? As cliché as it may sound, it is true. Just ask anyone that has experienced a close call, and they will echo this sentiment. My recent brush with death, (or at least with a world class maiming) happened on July 5, 2013.

Like many people, when the 4th of July Holiday weekend rolled around, I sought the solitude of a good vacation spot, to get away from the rigors of my daily routine. For me, there was no doubt but to head to our “cabin” on the Nehalem River, in Vernonia, Oregon. The weather  promised to be warm, sunny, and beautiful, so we packed our trusted 4 legged companions in the truck (along with everything else we could fit) and headed out to paradise.

Lizzy looks like a ghost here

Lizzy looks like a ghost here

Mid morning on July 5th, Tony and I headed out for a nice training ride on our bicycles, along the Banks-Vernonia State Trail. This is a beautiful 21 mile paved bike path with 13 wooden bridges, lots of hills, trees, streams, and glorious scenery. We warmed up and started riding strong as we approached the planned turn-around point at Hill Top. For the next three or so miles, we flew along at a steady 20 mph pace, having the time of our lives. By now we were 9 miles into our ride, and COOKING! I had just moved into the lead position a mile back, and was in the zone. I’d never ridden this fast for any sustained period before. Well, things changed in a heartbeat. (And could have ended there)

I hit a hole in the asphalt that I didn’t see because we were in a shady area, and I think it was covered with a thin film of moss. My front wheel exploded to the right, and the bike started zig zagging back and forth at an alarming and uncontrollable pace. I quickly realized that there was no way I could regain control and I knew I was going down. I knew that if I went down on this asphalt, there most certainly would NOT be a good outcome. I do not like pain. I especially do not like when my bones are sticking out of my flesh. I took immediate evasive action!

Berry bushes, Nettles, and fallen branches make a nice bed.

Berry bushes, Nettles, and fallen branches make a nice bed.

I managed to steer the momentum of my bike toward the outside of the path and onto the softer shoulder, so that when I fell, I would be on a more appealing surface. What I didn’t realize, however, was that the surface contained plants that were covered in thorns, nettles, and every prickly thing you could imagine. PLUS, the thick growth hid the fact that there was a cliff and a ravine under those vines! Like a rag doll, I flew off my bike, into the foliage, and over the ravine. As I was tumbling, hitting my head, and more or less waiting for whatever the outcome was, I heard (aside from my own cursing) a skid, crash, thump, and load moan from my husband. What the HELL???? Why did HE fall?

Upon hearing his crash, I jumped up to get to him and see if he was alright. Of course, I forgot that I had just careened head first over a cliff and had to stop myself for a few seconds and let the dizziness subside. Plus, I had to take stock and make sure all my bones were still encased safely inside my skin. Thankfully, they were. The prickers and thistles had their way with me though.

OUCH, talk about painful. Look at all the swollen bumps and scratches!

OUCH, talk about painful. Look at all the swollen bumps and scratches!

I climbed up the hill and onto the bike path and ran to Tony, who was still laying on the side of the path. Not moving. Still. Immobile. I asked him if he was ok, and he said he didn’t know yet, but still wasn’t moving. Finally I saw him move his arms and legs and I knew at least he wasn’t paralyzed! At this point, I started running around in circles. This is what I do when I am on the verge of panic. “What can I do for you?” “Can you move your legs?” “Can you speak?” “Can you talk?” “Do you want me to call an ambulance?” I am sure if he had his wits about him, he would have told me to SHUT UP A MINUTE!

I ran back to my bike, and retrieved my phone, just in case I needed to call 9-11. As I ran back to him, I had this (rediculous) thought that I should take his picture in case I needed it for evidence or insurance…..huh? Really??? I know this makes no sense, but I did just fly off my bike and hit my head, so I am not judging my actions in any way. Her’s what he looked like:

He landed more than 12 feet from his downed bike and rolled off the asphalt

He landed more than 12 feet from his downed bike and rolled off the asphalt

For what seemed like an eternity, he laid there, waiting for his body to tell him it was ok to get up, and I helped him take off his helmet and sit up. We both sat there and took stock of our injuries. We were both bleeding and dazed, but overall, we could stand up, walk, and pretty much function. I was amazed. I ran back and got my bike out of the bushes and saw that, other than a broken front brake, it seemed to be rideable. His was too. Since we were still four miles from our cabin, and we couldn’t spend the rest of the weekend on the bike path, we decided to ride back. It was not the most comfortable ride, to say the least.

Once we got back, we both showered and that’s when Tony said he needed to go to the hospital. It is a 40 minute drive to the nearest Urgent Care facility, and after waiting there for an hour, we got in to see a doctor. He started examining Tony and decided that he needed to go to the Emergency Room at the FULL hospital down the freeway. SO, we packed up our aching bodies and headed out. AGAIN.

Five hours later, after X Rays and exams, we left, armed with prescriptions for Valium and Oxycodone, and a bottle of Lidocane. Diagnosis: concussions, and a cracked clavicle (Tony). I had the remnants of all those nettles in my, so for about 9 hours, I had the sensation of fire ants crawling all over me and biting me. FIRE! The whole day seemed surreal to me.

The meds helped us sleep (Oh boy, did they!), and the next day, we both felt a lot better. Then I looked at our helmets.

Glad I was wearing this!

Tony's cracked in two places.

Tony’s cracked in two places.

Suffice it to say, we were both very happy to be alive, recovering, and saved by our helmets. We spent a lot of time over the next few days recounting what had happened, and how “lucky” we were that things didn’t end up differently. In a heartbeat things can change. We still don’t quite know how we managed to walk away so unharmed! All I can tell you is that if you ever go for a bike ride. Wear your helmet!