I just completed 12 weeks of training with my coach. I can’t believe it. These past 3 months have been great, and I’m not just saying that. Having accountability and a realistic plan for my schedule has made all the difference. Even though I can’t say I look forward to every workout (it’s still a chore sometimes), what I now think to myself is “how would I feel if I skipped it?”. More often than not I go ahead and get it done.
So you might be thinking that I’m going to post photos of my figure before I started training and now. No. Get that out of your head right now. This whole training thing isn’t about making my body look good (although that is a nice bonus). It’s about getting stronger and fitter.
So what is the Before and After then? Well, Cobra Strike and I have a room in our home that has some workout equipment and some weights. Over time it’s also become a dumping ground for laundry, cat food, chicken supplies, and whatever else doesn’t seem to have a home. Most people have a junk drawer, we have a junk room. I’ve kept enough space open to get on the treadmill as the need arises, but it really is an unpleasant place to be. So I’ve been lugging my weights and yoga mat and bike on the trainer to various rooms in our house to get my workouts done. But that is pretty silly when I have a room that just needs a little TLC.
So I present to you the Before & After of my workout room. It’s still a work in progress, but at least it is clean and functional now. At some point I will paint, but I haven’t decided on a color yet.
So you can see this is a basement gym. We’ve got a treadmill (folded in these photos) up against a wall that has a shelf running the length of it. It’s accumulated a lot of junk over the years: it’s where the cat likes to eat her food, there’s sewing stuff, old magazines, race medals that I haven’t bothered to hang, etc. Basically I just removed all the crap, cleaned it all up and voila! there was plenty of space to put my bike trainer, weights, and yoga mats.
Chalkboard for WODs
The space is cleaner, friendlier, and most importantly functional. As I use the space daily I will figure out a color. I’ve been pinning various ideas on my Pinterest board. Feel free to send me your suggestions. It’s a huge improvement already, although my cat Ruby isn’t too thrilled with the changes (hence the bowl of cat food on the floor).
So I’m happy to report that changes are happening in lots of positive ways.
Right now at my school January is Kindness Month. We are participating in the Great Kindness Challenge, which is a national endeavor the 3rd week of January. I work in a school for deaf and hard of hearing students, and we really want to emphasize this message, so we decided to make kindness the focus for the whole month. We’re doing daily and weekly activities throughout promoting kind acts toward each other. It’s been a lot of fun. I, along with helpful members of our Sunshine Committee made an awesome bulletin board promoting kindness at home, on the bus, inside and outside of school. We made gift-wrapped kindness boxes for each classroom filled with ideas of kind acts to complete daily, promoting an awareness of how we impact and treat each other. Students have been writing and drawing pictures for various staff and students, cleaning up the school yard, handing out stickers, complimenting each other and of course using their manners. Students also have been writing postcards to each other with little positive phrases and drawings. Awesome. We had a Hot Cocoa party on Friday, which was my personal fave to date. We (a few of the high school girls and I) read a story about sharing, and then we ate homemade snacks with our hot cocoa and marshmallows (or Fluff, which is the absolute best way to go back in time…as are snowsuits and mittens with a string trying them together so you don’t lose them). It was lovely to see every student on his or her best behavior, saying please and thank you, expressing gratitude for having such a nice little gathering of friends at the end of the week. Kindness Month is a school-wide effort and it’s been fantastic so far. I’ve been impressed seeing all the students getting into the effort: from the preschool all the way to the high school. We still have two plus weeks left and more to do – art projects, kindness games, staff appreciating the work of other staff. It’s put me in a pretty good mood I must say. I hope we can extend it for another month or two or twelve…
All of this leads me to thoughts of expressing gratitude in my own life and trying to bring some of that kind attitude to other areas, such as the car. Remembering my word of the year is patience, which applies not only to my training, but to driving on the road with other people. Not everyone out there is conspiring to make me late…or are they???
Speaking of training, I hit all 12 of my workouts this week (A+) – much better than my 75% (solid C) – last week. I even met up with my running group on Saturday for a lovely 4 mile jaunt around a local reservoir. It was 19*, but the sun was bright and there was a hot coffee and pumpkin spice muffin waiting for me at the end. I had never run at this location before, even though I drive by every single work day. I will be back for sure. There’s something so peaceful about running by a frozen lake in the winter. Getting outside for some fresh air and exercise plus a lovely breakfast with my running buddies is definitely hygge.
I am grateful for my job. Most of the time I complain about it, as do most employees, right? It’s not easy to work with teenagers day in and day out for 14 years. I mean parents get a break because their kids go through their teens in less than a decade. I’ve been stuck in adolescence angst for a good time longer than that. My gratitude attitude is that I can leave all those kids at the school house door. When I get home my dogs are always happy to see me and rarely bring me any drama. They don’t need the newest iPhone or have any problems on Snap Chat, and for that I am forever grateful. I wish I could say the same about my small flock of chickens, but those ladies are full of drama. They’re crabby when it’s cold, and when it’s hot, and when there’s a new girl, or if they don’t get to sit next to their fave on the roosting bar…but I put up with all of that because they give me delicious eggs. (And they don’t live in my house.)
I’m always grateful for Cobra Strike even though I don’t say it enough. I came home on Friday afternoon to homemade Beef Wellington in the oven. What!? Yes. That is just one of the thousands of sweet things that man does for me on the regular. He’s the best.
I’m also grateful for my family. My parents who do too much for very little recognition. In that circumstance it is easy to be taken for granted. I want them to know that they’re appreciated and loved. Parents, children, siblings…we’re supposed to drive each other crazy sometimes, right? It happens sometimes despite our best intentions. This week I was reminded of what it was like to be a kid – drinking hot cocoa my mom made me with a big dollop of Fluff – after coming in from playing in the snow. That is a happy memory for me, one that I enjoyed reliving while sitting on the floor drinking that steaming cup of chocolate and Fluff with my students on a Friday afternoon.
Not too long ago my mom gave me my grandmother’s gratitude journal. It is filled with so many regular, everyday observations, and here is one I find particularly fitting for this post:
At this sitting It’s unlikely I can pinpoint episodes that created specific gratitude in me. On the contrary, I feel a bit Pollyannish as I wrap my self in a “cloak” of contentment with where I am in my journey.
December was a whirlwind. But now that the holidays are over and the house has been tidied up (sort of), I think once again of my routine. I am one of those people who likes to pause and reflect and then plan for the next thing. Whatever I decide that to be. With that in mind I did a quick reflection, credit to Swimbikemom, and here is what I learned…
3 Things I Did Right in 2016:
I took a break to sort out my priorities. I believe some would call it a mid-life crisis. But it worked at a time over the summer when things were most definitely not working for me. I learned that this triathlon thing is not something I’m ready to give up on yet. I have to see where this adventure will take me.
I joined a running group. This was a big, scary thing that turned out to be a very nice complement to my exercise routine. The ladies I’ve met and run with have been friendly and welcoming and I can keep up with them! That was probably always the fear – that I was too slow. But when we’re all chatting away the miles seem to fly by!
I finally got myself a real-life coach. Best decision EVER. Yes it costs real money but that’s what is getting me off the couch. Would I be waking up at 4:30 to get to the pool before work??? Never. But that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 2 months. I need this right now and I’m looking at the money spent as a wise investment in myself.
3 Things I Must and Therefore Will Improve in 2017:
More meal planning, shopping and cooking. I let a lot of the cooking fall on Cobra Strike’s shoulders because he enjoys cooking. But he’s in grad school now and honestly we’ve had our fill of Tator Tots for a while, so I’m going to step in and do my part for the family. I don’t cook enough even though I do enjoy it.
Limit and/or eliminate booze. This is going to be difficult, but I really want to see what happens when I remove this variable from my diet. I know my weight will improve, so will my sleep, my workouts, my hot flashes (dear Lord please let it help my hot flashes)…This is something I have tried to do but have not completed for any stretch of time. Dry January is a popular thing now (so I’ve heard) so I’m going to give it a try. It’s only 31 days…
Consistency with my training. If I have my coach, no problem. If I’m by myself… Eeeek! This has been a huge challenge for me. I need accountability. Coach and I will be planning my race season soon. So far the only races I have lined up are a 5K in February and a 10K in March. The other thing I need to add to my support team is a Tri Club. I’m going to join the one here in the area and I’m going to volunteer at some races and join them for group rides and runs.
A short phrase or a word to focus on: Patience. This has been coming up for me a lot lately. Cobra Strike bought me a couple of books for Christmas. Joe Friel’s Triathlete’s Training Bible – he talks about the importance of training in moderation and being patient. I tend to get frustrated and lose my motivation with any kind of setback, so this reminder to be patient will help get through those tough times.
My mantra for this month is “What you want is what you will get”. And what that means to me is that I want to hit all my workouts for the week. I want to get up and get moving. If I tell myself “what’s one day? skip it!” then that’s what I’ll get – skipping workouts and zeroes where I should have workouts completed. Am I afraid? Or do I remind myself that I want this big, scary goal and I need to move toward that and away from my own limiting fear.
With that in mind I head into 2017. My expectations are realistic I think. My goals are achievable: consistency with my workouts, focusing on doing all I can to keep moving toward being a successful triathlete – eating well, resting, being patient with the process. I guess that is good advice for us all.
Let me know what has gone well for you or what you’d like to do this year, or your word or phrase. Or your favorite mocktail cuz I’ll be needing some of those.
Yes, today is the day after Election Day. This is not the place for arguments or fights of any kind. I need a breather from Facebook and the news and TV. I don’t want to bring that kind of vibe to my happy little blog. So…breathe…
Let’s talk about heroes. Inspiration. Who inspires you? Who’s someone you look up to?
Have you heard of 80 year old Ernestine Shepherd? Or 83 year old Iron Nun ? I mean, how can anyone not feel inspired by this? They are powerhouses and role models for all that we can do if we really want to. I mean an 83 year old Iron Man Triathlete? C’mon…
As I said in my last post, I went through a mid-life crisis of sorts. I stopped exercising and really wondered if it was worth it to continue. Why keep going? I’m not getting anywhere. It felt like a waste of time. I was bored and spent a lot of time wondering what to do with myself instead of exercise. I forgot about Ms. Ernestine and Sister Iron Nun. They both started working out later in life and really committed to the righteous path of health and wellness (not to mention just completely kicking a mess of ass). I admired them both back when I first read about each of them and I admire them today. Just as I admire all the people lined up at the Y parking lot at 5:25 am waiting for the doors to open. We’re all cold and sleepy and totally committed to getting our endorphins on before we get on with the business of the day. It’s really cool.
I started working with my new coach last week. He was another brave soul who showed up at 0 dark thirty to give me swim lessons. We met Tuesday morning at 5:30 and again on Thursday. On Tuesday there were 2 people in the lap pool and 3 in the warm pool. On Thursday the same 5 people were there again. My peeps! My crew! The devoted. I was proud to be one of them. I count myself among them even though I’ve only gone 3 times because I am committed.
I guess in all honesty who knows what the future will bring?? I just want to do a good job at whatever I set my mind to. I am going to be brave and thankful for this life and this body and these awesome role models. And I’m going to hope for the best. Now is the time to spread love rather than succumb to the dark side. Well actually it’s always the time to spread love, not just now. But especially now. No matter your politics we all want to be healthy and strong in both mind and body. I’m pretty sure we can all agree on that, right?
And I’m off to hit the (running, not campaign) trail…
It’s been a while. I had a roller coaster of a summer that actually left me feeling quite anxious a lot of the time. Instead of channeling my anxiety into my half marathon training like I imagined I would, I sat on the couch and watched Downton Abbey back to front and front to back again. I’m not proud of that. I do have 3 new chickens named Violet, Daisy and Marigold to show for that, though.
Anyway… I don’t want to dwell on all the excuses why I didn’t do the things I wanted to do. I’m here because I’ve worked through some of that so there is no need to rehash it all. Suffice it to say that women of a certain age, like *cough* me, may have something that is called a mid-life crisis. Hot flashes may or may not be a part of it (and if they are then they can make a woman rill cranky and miserable, so please be extra kind to her aka me). I think I was/am going through a bit of a mid-life crisis. Meaning, I am taking stock of my life to this point and thinking ahead to my next chapter and what I want to do. I’m making choices. Do I go back to school for my doctorate? Do I take expert knitting certification classes? Do I travel? Do I get off my ass and do some triathlons?
I love school. I work in a school. Bobby is getting his Master’s right now, so this isn’t really the best time to go back to school myself. And while I enjoy knitting I don’t really like all the sitting around, which is kind of surprising what with all the Downton Abbey binges… But triathlons… now that sounds exciting and interesting and slightly terrifying. Perfect.
So I found myself a coach. Actually my husband found me a coach. I hemmed and hawed about it for about 3 months. During that time I was supposed to be training for a half marathon (spoiler alert: I wasn’t training. I got to 8 miles and stopped. Stopped. Like zero running). Did I run the half that was last weekend? No. I ended up going down to the 5K. And I have to admit while it felt like such a relief to stop at the time, I felt real regret when I didn’t line up at the starting line with my cousin. Lesson learned. I called and committed with my coach for a phone session the next day.
I need this kick in the butt. I want this. I’ve tried to go it alone and what I’ve learned is that is really difficult. I need the support and the accountability. So I’m going to spend real money on this because it is real important to me. My next race is another 5K in December. This gives Coach and me some time to work together and evaluate how we’re doing. Then 2017 is triathlons. Multiple. Sprints and I’m hoping an Olympic too.
Ok, so my goals are:
Learn how to train with my heart rate monitor.
Be more consistent with my training. aka stop skipping all the workouts, lady.
Improve my tri fundamentals, especially my swimming
Improve my running time – 10 min miles (or less!)
Cook and meal plan. If I’m not doing this then the training will fall apart.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what is important to me and I’ve gotten pretty clear on it: Bobby, family, home, work, and health. A mid-life crisis sometimes makes people have an affair or buy an expensive sports car. That’s not me. I want to go into this next chapter of my life as an athlete. I am a Triathlete (who may or may not be having a hot flash). I’m not ready for the knitting classes. Maybe I’ll get to that in another 46 years…
What I’ve learned is that it’s important to get clear about what you want. And if you don’t have what you want then how will you get it? Make a plan. Sitting around watching the world go by is depressing. And if you don’t know what you want to do then just start moving. Do something that moves you in a direction, any direction. The only way out of your current situation is through it.
Next week: training starts!
So today and tomorrow: meal planning, food shopping, and getting all the laundry done.
Currently I am winding down another school year. I’m feeling tired and stressed and also hopeful and excited. My to-do list at home keeps getting longer as I say to myself “I’ll get to that after the school year is over”. The problem with that procrastinator mentality is that it doesn’t help me feel better and means that I might not get anything done at all.
Currently I have a dog who injured his paw and requires a lot of care. This has been an ongoing saga for a couple of weeks or so, but worsened yesterday. He started limping and seemed like he was in pain. So back to the vet he went and returned home with antibiotics, pain pills, and no more bandage. He needs extra TLC now and I hate that I’m in school all day and can’t keep my boy company.
Currently I have another dog whose new favorite thing is licking a spot on her leg. So she’s wrapped up and tied with a bow as well. And yes, her little sock does have kitties on it.
Currently I am eating soup and a bagel with cream cheese for lunch. And have been for a week. For weeks prior to this I was bringing yummy salads full of protein and colorful veggies, but have turned to comfort food while I try to manage all this stress in my life.
Currently I am not running. I’m also not swimming or riding my bike. Currently I am getting through this last week of work and then I will swim/bike/run. Really. I promise. I’ve got a rough plan for summer vacation. Last weekend I basically stayed close to my couch and my quilt. I know myself well enough to know that I need down time. The week before I was in Newport only to return home to dog injuries and STRESS. I also know that running is a wonderful stress reliever, but being away from my boy for any time longer than necessary would be more stressful. I feel this way even though I have a wonderful, caring, capable, husband at home who cares just as much as I do for our pups. Puppy guilt is real, people.
Currently I have a giant bag of iris plants and hostas from a co-worker pal. I’m not a gardener even though I fantasize about having a beautiful yard. I don’t want to do the work mostly because I don’t really know what I’m doing. I will put those plants in the ground this weekend though and hope for the best.
Currently I am giving myself a big ol’ break on all of this. I’m trying to figure out how to be kind to myself during this period of upheaval and transition. Sometimes everything feels like an uphill climb, but with every up there is also the easy downhill coast. I know I’m heading into that and I look forward to feeling the wind in my hair and the sun on my face.
Catch you on the flip side,
1. I can watch a sail boat race and not have a clue what’s going on.
2. Don’t eat at a restaurant where the menu is full of spelling errors.
3. Be careful if you leave your car with a valet. You probably won’t get it quickly and end up stuck in traffic trying to get to your race on time.
4. Don’t cram your bagel and peanut butter down your sauce box while stuck in traffic. It will not make your tummy happy.
5. Don’t tell yourself not to crap your pants during the race. That’s a sure-fire way to end up with a big turdy mess. (I did not crap my pants because I kept telling myself I was fine. Even though I was not fine). Mind over matter. Thinking positively really works in a a long run situation. Or any situation, really. I’ve heard lots of horror stories about pants-crapping, but never experienced it before. Not. Fun.
6. I so love running long distances. This race course was beautiful: miles of ocean, then mansions, then more ocean, then Fort Adams. There was a lot to keep me distracted from what was happening “down below”.
7. I don’t have any other races on my calendar, so while distracting myself from my digestive issues I decided to spend my summer focusing on my new running group and building speed. Having fun. Meeting new people. Getting out of my comfort zone a little bit more.
8. I love being near the ocean.
9. I will probably never find a race photo that I’m happy with. Why can’t I look like I’m flying through the air with an expression of determination and fire? Instead I look like I’m walking slowly and ready to fall over from exhaustion.
10. Every time I go away I miss my family. And I’m always always always happy to be home again.
Til next time,
Right now I have 2 dogs at home both with injured paws.
I also have 4 hens, 1 of whom is broody and is currently sitting in broody jail. #jailbird
I am an introvert by nature. I don’t put myself out there, like ever. Except for now, on this blog, which is quite terrifying by the way.
I just joined a local running group. I’ve been wanting to do it for a while but I’m a bit shy (see #3). Honestly I’ve become bored with my same old routes and running by myself. So it’s time to shake things up a little and this group will be great motivation to keep running this summer.
I am running the Newport 10 miler on Sunday and I’m really looking forward to it. The course looks awesome. I’m not expecting anything spectacular performance-wise. My plan is to go out there and have a blast. Enjoy the sights and sounds. Take lots of photos and enjoy every minute of being at the ocean this weekend.
After Newport, I have no races scheduled. Like bought and paid for and on my calendar. I have lots of ideas but I haven’t jumped in and signed up for anything yet. I’m currently thinking about doing the BAA (Boston Athletic Association) Distance Medley: 5k Blindfold Challenge, 10k on June 26th, and a half marathon October 9th. And/or a sprint triathlon July 24th and another one on my 46th birthday, and a Bike and Fly race August 20th. Or something else…Dang. I hate it when I’m indecisive. Perhaps I’ll find some races to do with my new running group…
I love crunchy salty snacks more than sweets. If given a choice I will pick the chips or crackers over a doughnut or Danish or brownie any day.
I am not good at gardening. I long for beautiful flower beds and herbs and home-grown veggies, but I basically suck at it. I tried growing herbs from seeds this spring and it didn’t really work out. But I won’t give up! I’ll keep trying and hopefully I’ll get something to grow that won’t get trampled by the dogs or eaten by the chickens. Whomp whomp.
I’m re-reading the Harry Potter series again. I read them as they were released way back in the day, but not since then. I’ve let the movies take over my memory of the story, but the books are different (and way better) in really wonderful ways. I’m so glad I’m reading them again. I’m currently finishing up Prisoner of Azkaban. Next week: Goblet of Fire!
I usually make a summer reading list then completely ignore it. I think that is kind of like my race “schedule” -lots of ideas but then I like to see what pops up that looks interesting. Currently on my list: the rest of the Harry Potter books plus The Cursed Child (out in July), We Are Water by Wally Lamb, The Versions of Us by Laura Bennett, Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben, Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams, and probably some stuff for work (counseling, adolescents, deafness, transition, etc.), and maybe a good book about running and or nutrition.
I have been a collector of quotes for a very long time. These are the quotes that caught my eye this week:
Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.
I love this quote because it speaks to why I started running and signing up for races in the first place. Growing up, I was never what anyone would call an athlete. I played soccer on a team once and hated (hated. HATED. hated.) it. I also played basketball for a season when I was 11, and called it quits after I broke my finger on the ball. That is not to say that I was not active. I took dance lessons from the age of 4 to about 17. From college and through my 20’s I was active too, but really just coasted by on my genetic fortune: no significant health problems, no surgeries, no injuries. Just enjoying myself, indulging in whatever food and booze I wanted with little repercussion to my health (that I was aware of anyway). I exercised some, but very sporadically. A little yoga here, Pilates there, dabble in a bit of tai chi, maybe join a gym for a few months…you get the idea. As I got into my 30’s, I started paying more attention to my health. I became grateful that I didn’t have any health issues even though I was eating a lot of fast food and sitting on the couch enjoying a cocktail or three (or four). I knew if I wanted to have health and longevity in my future, my habits would have to change.
Enter the Couch to 5K program around the age of 38. Better late than never. It totally worked for me, and provided the basis of years of running and regular exercise. Sometimes I get down on myself for running so slowly or wonder why I still bother with this… and then this quote reminds me why this still needs to matter. Slowly is still better than not at all.
Life is for participating, not for spectating.
I love this quote because what started out as a way to lose weight became something much more than that. It’s a hobby and an outlet for my stress, sure, but it’s also been such a fantastic way to learn more about myself and to push the limits of what I think I can do. Like I said, I’ve never considered myself an athlete, so to sign up for a half marathon or a triathlon is crazy-scary. But then to be able to do all the months of training for it and cross the finish lines of those races is unbelievably fulfilling for me. I’m not just sitting on my couch wishing I was doing something interesting and exciting, I am pushing myself to do those things. And I really do love that feeling.
Plus, I get to see things I would normally miss: a beautiful view, random wildlife (I swear a pair of cardinals followed me on a run one day), visiting a new city for a race (Boston, Hartford, Hampton Beach, next up – Newport)…and then experience the satisfaction of completing something difficult for no other reason than because it is important to me.
And the added bonus? I have the blood pressure of a young kid. What’s not to love about any of that??
Growing some herbs from seeds. It’s a first and I’m so proud! This little chicken seems to like them too.
Rainy bike trail
Swimming at the YMCA
Getting some exercise. A 6 mile run in the rain on Sunday. And a visit to the pool on Monday.
After run glow
My plan Tuesday was to go for a run after school and sign language class, but I neglected to check in with my other half regarding his plans. He had baseball practice after school, which meant I had to get home to take care of the dogs. Ok, Plan B it is! Workout at home – strength circuit from Betty Rocker (squat jumps, single leg squats, push ups, jumping lunges and tricep dips – for 15 minutes), and a 15 minute yoga stretch video. The dogs “helped” by licking my ears and going between my arms in downward dog. Laying down in corpse pose and looking up at the beautiful blue sky and leafy trees was the highlight of my day. I loved that I took the time to see something I normally would not have probably bothered to appreciate.
This was my original plan for the week:
Monday – swim
Tuesday – run
Wednesday – strength
Thursday – run
Friday – rest (out to dinner)
Saturday – bike ride
Sunday – long run (7 miles)
And then life happens. Plans change. It’s important to be flexible and be prepared in case something comes up. In my case, Tuesday’s plans changed; I had to get home. Ok reshuffle the workouts.
Wednesday was up in the air – do I need to get right home after school or can I stay and run then get home later? I packed a running bag in case I can stay and run at school, but if I have to get home then I’ll put my bike trainer in the yard and catch up on some Netflix. Either way works for me.
It’s important to have both a flexible body and a flexible brain. Sometimes Plan A works out, sometimes you have to consider a Plan B, C, or D. The one thing I’m trying not to do is use my schedule snafus as an excuse to skip working out. And of course communicate with my better half so we know each other’s plans. Annnd write my schedule in pencil.