adventures of a mere mortal in fitness and life

Posts tagged ‘mind over body’

race report: HITS Grand Junction Oly

It might only come out once, so savor it, people: Mr. Prepared was right.

Alright, now that we have that out of the way, let’s get on with the backstory, right?  I have been hemming and hawing about doing this race at Highline State Park near Grand Junction for about 3 weeks.  I have been completely avoiding it- didn’t make any camping or hotel reservations, didn’t find someone to watch the dog, etc., etc.  I knew that I was underprepared, certainly not where I imagined I would be when I signed up for the race in January.  I tried to switch distances earlier this week, but it was too late.  I tried to reason with Mr. Prepared that it was only a $35 New Year’s entry fee, so we could easily skip it without guilt.  But he stood firm.  He made a hotel reservation.  He found someone to watch the dog.  He changed out my tires, packed the car, gave me a pillow and told me to take a nap on the way.  After my nap, I watched this video by the Cyber Crush, which helped me remember why showing up to this race was important.

Since I was stuck going, I reasoned that I could take the race easy, make it a long intensity workout, and not sweat it.  Which was a giant fat lie to myself.  A lie I kept repeating to myself until we got there this morning.  For those of you who don’t know me, I am pretty competitive.  A lot of women feel the need to downplay their competitiveness, but I will be straight up honest and tell you I am.  But if you look at it my way, competing against others on my own in a healthy outlet like triathlon is a hell of a lot better than taking my competitive nature and yelling my head off at my kid’s soccer game or driving super aggressively through the school parking lot.  It is what it is, so when I come to a competition, I come to compete…not for some long intensity workout.  But I knew that today I couldn’t rely on being really prepared or really rested, or anything like that…today was a COLD SHOWER THERAPY kind of day.  It was time to find out if I could shut down my negative thinking while busting my guts out there.

The lake was warmer than I thought it would be at this time of year, so while the air temp was cold, it was not the numbing freezingness of last October’s race here.  Once we started, I fell into a decent rhythm by about 500 meters.  I knew there was one women out of in front of me somewhere, but I wasn’t worried.  I was really enjoying the swim by about 1000 meters, and I started thinking that maybe I should do another lap, or just get out and stop…end on a high note, you know?  But of course I couldn’t stop myself…I could hardly keep myself upright as I ran to the transition, since I had completely forgotten my ear plugs (which proves they really do work!) and was super dizzy at the swim exit.  T1 was a disaster, as I couldn’t stand and put on my shoes since I was shaking, and I wanted my light windbreaker, which I couldn’t get on, although it certainly didn’t help that the transition area lady was yelling at me that I should have put on more Bodyglide (like, thanks, your advice after the fact is sooo helpful!).  Fortunately, they had adorable stools, and I sat and pulled it together.

just to be clear, I snapped this before the race, although my time in transition 1 might imply otherwise.

just to be clear, I snapped this before the race, although my time in transition 1 might imply otherwise.

So then it was off on the bike.  I felt pretty good for the first half.  I am having a little love/hate relationship with my bike right now because sometimes it feels like it’s not “enough bike” for me.  I know we need to do some tinkering, upgrading, etc., but we really haven’t gotten around to it.  Plus, it’s kind of rush when you pass by the people with super fancy bikes and aero helmets on your Specialized Allez Sport stock bike and outlet-purchased helmet.  Just sayin’.  Getting to the turnaround was great, but I could tell I was starting to flag around Mile 20.  There were a lot of positive and negative thoughts going on as a couple of ladies passed me at the end of the bike.  I had to keep my mind from wandering down the spiral of, “What am I doing out here? I am just a mom with too much back fat hanging out.”  I kept up the positive mantras, and when they didn’t shut the negative thoughts down, I just started singing Macklemore in my head.  Totally worked.

Until about Mile 4 of the run, anyways.  I had been bargaining with my body that if it would just give me 2 good miles, I would stop for a pee break.  Which it did, and I did.  Then a bargain for 1 more mile to the turnaround.  Then 1.5 more miles back to the final aid station.  And that’s about when my body decided it had had enough.  Another person pounded up the hill in front of me, and I started walking.  Just to the top, where a volunteer was like, “You still got it!  You’re one of the top ten ladies!”  And that became my mantra, as I closed my eyes, prayed no cars would hit me, and ran another hard mile.  I had to take a little break to walk up the hill before I got onto the dam (mostly because I wanted the finish at the end of the dam to look good, since everyone was watching there).  I put my head down and chugged out the last .2 miles.  My run time was a little ugly, but so was the course, which they admittedly changed the night before to a bit hillier course.

Once I caught my breath, I THANKED Mr. Prepared and told him that he was right.  Which made him beam.  He admitted, “You know, that was a calculated risk, making you go out there and do it.  I knew it could be either a disaster or have a huge payoff.  Looks like I calculated correctly this time.”

HITS Triathlon Grand Junction Olympic- 1500 m swim/24.8 bike/6.2 run:
Swim: 23:51/ T1: 4:34/Bike: 1:18/T2: 1:06/Run: 1:01
Time: 2:49:27/ 8th Overall Women

BTW, big shout out to the HITS Triathlon Series!  They made this event AWESOME!  I hope this venue can be their new Colorado home.


haters gonna hate…

It always makes me laugh when this meme pops up on a friend’s FB profile pic, but this week it became all too clear how my opposite thinking was affecting my life.  Someone said something at work that totally upset and annoyed me.  But you know what?  It did make me finally reflect on “things” (whatever that means).  I realized today that I have been running around worrying about what everyone else says I should do and what everyone else thinks and I haven’t been trusting my own judgement or my own ability one bit.  And the only person that affects negatively is me.

One of the reasons that I often over-ate and over-drank (secretly and not) was because I doubted my own intelligence, strength, and likeability.  Of course, there were periods in my life when that self-doubt and lack of confidence dimmed and faded into the background, but it always remained inside me.  My main way of comforting that self-doubt was to eat or drink until I was too numb to care about it any more. Then I would try to increase my likeability by making myself seem “indispensable” to people, which sometimes meant I did things I didn’t want to do or think were the right course of action.  Instead of doing what was right or what was right for me, I nodded my head yes and kept my mouth shut.

Spending a lot of time in treadmill confessional (yes, it is an actual activity) with Trainer Guy helped me work through a lot of that crap, but of course you can’t undo a lifetime of bad habits in a few months.  So it was likely I would have a backslide, but I guess I just didn’t realize it would affect my whole lifestyle- family life, diet, exercise, work, everything.  I haven’t been able to find the strength within or the confidence in myself to even be myself.

Now that I have realized what has been going on in my own head, I am not going to allow it to happen anymore.  I am going to be myself first, trust my own decisions, use my own gifts, and take care of me and my own first.  Self-doubt will not be tolerated.  Because maybe haters are gonna hate, but I am going to love myself first!

lessons from leadville

Some of you may know that my husband, Mr. Prepared, went to run the Leadville Trail 100 Run this weekend.  He has been working his tail off since January training for this weekend, which was also to be his first 100 mile race.  He has completed many 50 mile races, and he thought it was time for a new challenge.  His season so far has been excellent, knocking an hour off his 25 mile time in April and 45 minutes of last year’s San Juan Solstice 50 time in June.

Mr. Prepared meticulously completed and tracked his training, and I have been running a pretty tight ship since January, making sure we both make use of the time available to train allotted by the Almighty Schedule.  Consequently, when Mr. Prepared said to me on the drive up to Leadville, “I know I have done everything that I can to prepare for this race.  Everything that is in my control I have done,”  I kind of started to assume that we had this one in the bag.  As a matter of fact, I had assumed that from waaaayy back when.  Mr. Prepared is one of the mentally toughest people I know.  He holds firm belief that “anyone” can “gut out” a marathon.  I think he doesn’t live in the same mental solar system as “anyone”, but I don’t argue.  Too much.

Fast forward to Saturday (I will save my color commentary on Leadville for another post, but believe me, there is A LOT of color, and it deserves commentary).  Anyways, there were many lessons to be taken away from this weekend, regardless of any result of any runner.  Mr. Prepared didn’t make it to Mile 100, or the belt buckle, a result of injury and under the strongly worded advice of medical personnel.  He made it to Mile 60 (or 63, depending on if you count the “newer, less dusty” section of trail as you know, actual mileage).  Up and over Hope Pass twice, which is an accomplishment in itself.  I couldn’t be more amazed or proud, but I am a little emotionally raw from a full day of watching this race.  Nevertheless, I picked up a few things to absorb as nuggets of wisdom:

1. You can do more than you think you can.  This is the motto of the LT100, along with “Commit not to quit.”  I saw some amazing feats out there- many mere mortals trying to achieve a goal they set for themselves.  Some had more ambition than skill, and some had the skill and the ambition.  Some we like to call “triumphs of will and spirit” in our house.  All are admirable, no matter what, and this race is a live-action show of people doing more than they ever thought they could, or at least more than they ever attempted before.

2. Running 100 miles is f’in hard.  I said to Taylor as we were driving on Friday, “You know what will be great about doing this race?  When people tell you they have read Born to Run and ask if you’ve ‘done Leadville’, you can now say yes and leave it at that.”  But running 100 miles is not just something you “do”, like taking up kickboxing.  Most people cannot conceive how difficult this is, not just physically but mentally.  I watched grown men vomiting, shaking, and crying, and that was just at mile 50 (BTW, the women just crumple in a heap if they’re suffering, not quite as loud as men…).  Your body and your mind have to be of iron will to finish a race like this, and there are HARDER 100 mile events out there than LT100.  Many people say, “I just can’t imagine…” and believe me, you can’t.  If you would like to see a slice of humanity without traveling to a 3rd world country, you should really check out a 100 mile race sometime.

3.  Human beings need each other.  So many, many amazing people were not only out on course yesterday, but on the sidelines.  While this race has somewhat less of a “community” feel than other ultras, there were so many amazing teams of support out there.  There were T-shirt wearing support teams (Go Team Texaho!), costume-wearing teams (the gold spandex bodysuit girl and the guy in the banana suit are a firm tie), and cause-supporting teams.  In any form, most of these runners could not do what they did without their crew and pacers.  In the lowest moments, someone else can spur you on.  I know that the guy who was crying out, “Momma, Momma!”  certainly needed his momma.  STAT.

4. It is all about the journey.  So Mr. Prepared didn’t get a belt buckle.  Neither did most of the people who started that race.  Yes, I said MOST, but that’s commentary for someone else’s blog.  But ALL of the people there started on a journey that I imagine changed their lives forever.  Some will try again, if not LT100, then somewhere else.  Some will remember it fondly as making good on a New Year’s resolution, or a bet, or whatever, but all will be affected by the experience.  And that is what they really came for- not the buckle.  Runners who have been afflicted with “buckle-itis” are doing it for the hardware to display, not the lessons learned along the way.

If you are living the motto “You can do more than you think you can” you are going to have to embrace the journey at some point because a life worth living is not only running the red carpet and belt buckles.  Goals accomplished only become truly sweet if we experience eating dirt and the disappointment that comes with DNFs, because DNFs are just temporary placeholders until you finish what you set out to do.

food page update…

The FOOD page has been updated!  Please check it out if you are interested in finding out more ideas and plans for eating well and dieting!

lake monsters and peckings…

Facing fears, whether real or irrational, is definitely one of the hardest things to do to try to grow as a person.  This week I had the opportunity to face some of my most irrational fears.  The only reason I want to do this is so that I can overcome them and be able to do new things.  I mean, how will I ever casually run into and have a witty exchange with Andy Potts at the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon if I can’t get over my fear of swimming with sea monsters in the open water? 

Must face fears. Must meet Andy Potts.

I have done 3 open water swims in the last week.  All of them have been in freshwater lakes with no overly large marine life.  On Wednesday, I swam in a new lake closer to town with Trainer Guy.  There were some lake trout and you could see the bottom of this lake.  I am not sure why being able to see the bottom makes it worse for me, but it does.  This lake was filled with blooms of “plants” that come close to the surface of the water.  As I swam over each plant, I expected to have a catfish, eel, or sea monster come to bite my face off.  Why do I have this bizarre fear?  I have never had a bad experience with open water, and I have been a good swimmer my whole life.  Needless to say, I freaked myself out by about 30 minutes into the whole event.  It almost seemed like a waste of time, but I know that open water training is harder than the pool and essential if I want to see any more improvement in my swim times.  

See? They do exist.

My other great irrational fear in life is birds.  Yes, birds.  Unpredictable, flighty, harbingers of disease, birds are my #1 irrational fear.  I am pretty sure I know where this fear originated.  Unfortunately, Alfred Hitchcock thought it would be a great idea to make a “thrilling” movie with birds as the main subject, and even more unfortunately, my 8th grade teacher thought it would be a good learning activity for us to watch it.

that shit is freaky, alright?

On Friday, I had an unexpected encounter on my road ride.  I was almost home, dog tired, when I heard a noise that sounded like it was coming from my wheel.  I looked down, only to realize the noise was a bird.  And the bird noise was not getting farther away as a I rode.  It stayed with me.  Then, I saw something out of the corner of my eye and felt a poke on my back.  BIRD!  I shrieked like I had just had my leg ripped from my body and waved wildly at the bird.  If someone had been witness to the situation, they would have surely assumed I was having some kind of outer-body experience on my bike.  It was an act of God that I did not take a huge digger at this point.

One method of getting over fears is to have repeated exposure to them, which I am willing to accept with swimming, but not so much with birds.  I think I am ready to give the lake a try again, and this weekend, I will be racing in Steamboat Lake, so I will get some more exposure.  However, I just don’t think it’s so unreasonable to hate and fear birds.

If anyone has any open water swimming tips to get over my fear of sea monsters, I would love to hear them!  Let me know!


(almost) better than coffee

Something that has fundamentally changed in my worldview while losing weight and getting fit and finding myself has been my absolute rule of Carpe Diem (referred to as “carpe the diem” in my house because it makes my Latin-major husband giggle, which is all too rare) in regards to trying new things.  Kale? Sure, I’ll try it.  Spin class?  Why not?  Going back to school in math?  Absolutely.

I find that each of these experiences has been delightful, with some degree of variance (spin class delight is not exactly the same as kale chips, let’s just say).  New stuff is FUN.  Almost always.  And last week Trainer Guy suggested we do something new and try mountain biking, and I just had to say yes, even though my brain was like, “Are you insane?  You will fall and break your face and never be able to work out again, plus you will look like an idiot and you probably can’t do it anyways…and you always bag on mountain bikers, so now who will your husband make fun of if you become one of THEM?”

Fortunately, I chose to ignore my brain, get over my nerves, and get on to the important decisions: what to wear.  Now, you may laugh at that, but it was a 6 AM mountain bike ride.  In Colorado.  It’s cold, but I imagined I would get pretty hot pretty quickly, as this was advertised as a “different kind of cardio than you’re used to, Susan”.  So what’s a girl to wear?  Well, I should have worn bike shorts, but I didn’t, because I didn’t want to do the whole 2 pants thing since it was about 35 degrees out.  That ended up being a poor decision.  However, I figured out that NEXT time, I could wear bike shorts and ski socks and go for that whole hipster look with the compression socks thing.  I probably won’t pull it off, but it’s not like anyone else was out there at 6 AM.

Look at it! It could be the next big thing!

NEXT time, you say?  Could you dare to hope that my first mountain bike ride didn’t turn catastrophic?  That’s right!  Now, I am not about to pat my own back because I sat in the lowest gear for pretty much the whole ride up and went about 4 mph on the way down and the whole event was about 20 minutes long.  BUT, I survived and I had fun!  I was still smiling while Trainer Guy put the bikes on the car and ordered me to run the first hill out and back.  I got to the top of that hill and I was in awe of the sun rising and my own athletic prowess and the fact that my heart was back in its proper place and not in my throat.  I was practically skipping on the way down to the car at which point I declared that the singular experience of mountain biking at 6 AM could have been better than coffee.  I know, back up the bus, right?  My slavish devotion to steamy, hot, yummy black coffee could not possibly be replaced by freezing my butt off on the side of a hill while my lungs attempt to bust out of my chest.  And you would be right.  It’s only almost better than coffee.

The wonder of trying and enjoying something new can happen at any time and at any age.  I used to think that the joy and amazement on my little girls’ faces when they encountered something new was just for kids.  But I know how I felt last week, and as I watched my friend Christine stand-up paddle (SUP) board this weekend, you could see that feeling in her face too- well, that and she kept yelling, “I LOVE THIS!”  So whatever new things you want to try, just go for it!  What could really happen?  You fall and break your face?  It probably won’t happen, and the feeling of doing something new and fun is pretty addictive… in an awesome kind of way.  Let me know how it goes!

Is it all about the journey?

Sarah and my dear friend Lauren enjoying the ride!

On the eve of my birthday, I think it’s hilarious (now that I have had a “few” if you catch my drift) that my husband just admitted that the hotel in which we are “holed up” (and truly, it may not be safe to set foot outside) is on the top 10 worst places he has ever stayed.  This comes from a man who believes that getting the best deal may be the most important feature of a hotel.  I have watched him pay $26 in South Lake Tahoe (in season), and argue at $49 for the last room on a hot summer night in Missoula, Montana.  He might be right about this place-I mean, when have you last been in a hotel where the phone doesn’t work?  One could argue that moments like these remind us that it’s all about the JOURNEY… or is it?

Christine and I have this running argument about whether life/training/work/ etc. is indeed all about the journey.  She argues that the “journey” is all crap, and it’s about going all out, all the time.  Which I have to say served me pretty well in my race when I knew I had to go all out.  And if you treat life like a race, you are always going all-out.  I feel like I spent a good portion of this past semester going “all-out” to make sure I did well at everything I did.  Did I enjoy the journey? Not always.  Did I accomplish a lot?  You bet I did.  I taught 11 credits (4 shy of a “full load”); did my stay-at-home mom thing with the girls on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays; got an “A” in my math class; created my adult instructor portfolio for state review; served on a brand new college-wide committee; lost 30 pounds; and trained for a triathlon.  The journey wasn’t always pretty to look at–sometimes I had to focus on going “balls to the wall” so I could keep my head above water.  Maybe without that mentality, I might not have made it this semester.

  But there are times I see value in the “journey” theory.  Trainer Guy and I had a good treadmill confessional about this theory before I left.  I need to take things for what they are, and deal with them as they are, and learn how to react differently than how I used to.  I see value in viewing things and events as “just things” or from a “best light” angle, instead of focusing in on how shitty or horrible something is going to be.  We have had some news in our family recently that really shows me how my thinking has changed.  Instead of freaking out and getting upset, I could look at the news more objectively, focus on what needed to be done, and hope for positive outcomes.  Instead of worrying that the worst case might happen, I didn’t worry at all, and the best possible outcome (out of a few bad choices, let’s be honest) was the case. 

I am curious as to how others think about adversity or challenge.  I recently read the book Who Moved My Cheese?  to review it for a class I am teaching this summer.  One of the posts from the littlepeople in the book was “What Would You Do If You Were Not Afraid?”  This really stuck with me during my race, and I think it will continue to move with me as I make decisions going forward.  Let me know what your best ideas for dealing with difficult situations are- do you relish “the journey” or say screw it and go all-out?

my road crew in action…Pacific Coast Highway, CA

Of course, it’s much easier to see the best possible outcome when you went ahead and booked the nicest hotel in the next town…just to be on the safe side.  I won’t tell him until we’re almost there– I want to enjoy tomorrow’s journey too, ya know.  😉

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