New Orleans 70.3 – A Season Finale Culmination Of Love and Oliver’s Last Stand

“New Orleans is the only place I know of where you ask a little kid what he wants to be and instead of saying, I want to be a policeman, or I want to be a fireman, he says, I want to be a musician.” – Alan Jaffe, Jazz Musician and Founder of Preservation Hall

Next weekend, is a culmination of love – favorite city, great music and clarinet playing, triathlon, my best friend, and my bicycle.

Mask

It’s been a quiet year blog-wise. I took a lot of the year to regroup and reflect on triathlon. My goals this year were to just have fun and enjoy training again. It was another year that I couldn’t quite afford a bike and mine is on his very last legs. I am eeking out everything he has for this last race. After cutting last year short with surgery, paying for said surgery, I just needed a breather year. So I spent my money on a destination race for fun and left out all gadgets.

This was that year. I chose races that looked fun – races that were new to me. Destination races and races with new faces. Races that took me to unfamiliar courses. I also chose races that would challenge me and embraced the suck with my friends at Triple T. I had fun at every race.

There is one more. As I head to New Orleans next week, I am looking forward to my final triathlon of the season. I am looking forward to racing with strangers, looking forward to being in the city that I love. I’m racing with shoes that have too many miles on them, a bike that could fall apart at any second, a wetsuit that has seen better days, and goggles that are so scratched it is a wonder I can see out of them.

But none of this matters. I have no worries about making cut-offs like I have in the past. I’ve been racing for years. Experience has taught me to control what I can and leave the rest to mother nature and whatever else. My race sim day I split a tube and had to rethink my whole plan. My rear tire tube blew to bits. Like butter…I just readjusted my brain and timeline and went out and did the sim like nothin. No poo-pooing, just onward. I am a poor (monetarily-speaking) triathlete. This year has taught me to work with what I have. I can’t train with power. I have to spend my money smartly. I still go out and race with everyone else and I love it. I work my butt off out there, and I do just fine with what I have. My body gets me through each course and my gear is just along for the ride.

I’m finally managing to scrounge up enough to get that elusive bicycle next year without using credit, while at the same time making sure I can also get the “extras” that go with it. I plan to spend modestly on a bike instead of the “dream bike” so that I can also get a power meter, pedals, new shoes ( I have never EVER had new bike shoes since I started tris in 2007), a professional bike FIT, and hell maybe if the cards are right – a new smart trainer. Hopefully, there will be $100 left over to get a new pair of running shoes.

Thankfully, the gym at my apartment just got brand new cardio equipment (which includes spin bikes with power meters) so I can train all winter with power and hope to pick up in the spring with new wheels and power meter.

OliversFirstRace

Pictured here – Me and Oliver. Oliver’s first race. Look at that set-up! HAHA. Look at that WATER BOTTLE. Very aero. 🙂 I love this.

 

I’m so looking forward to the race-cation. But really, the race is one day. The culmination of this season is to go relax, eat amazing food, vakay, listen to some fantastic clarinet playing, spend some much needed together time with Eric, and spend 6ish hours pumping out some enjoyable swim, bike, run action and the last 56 race miles with my beloved bicycle, Oliver – with me since my second year of triathlon. It will be amazing to be out on a long(ish) course again, smiling, waving, salting, and making new friends while we all love the pain together.

 

In New Orleans.

I can’t wait.

Dreams do come true in New Orleans.

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TTT and TT and RESTTTT

The first weekend in June brought with it an interesting sampling of difficult races in succession. I had been looking forward to it for months – until I started really digging into the bike elevation maps. My tri bestie warned me against looking at them – but it’s like saying “do not touch” – the first thing you do is touch. Talk about difficult biking. Looking at those courses ahead of time only made the anticipation that much worse.

It was a 7 hour drive from DC to Shawnee State Park in Ohio and about a 7 hour drive for my Wisconsin tri friends who were meeting me there. Anna’s parents had a cabin reserved for us and we were all planning to roll in around 2ish on Friday afternoon. I left the DC area around 7 PM on Thursday to avoid the bulk of rush hour and drove to a halfway point to stay in West Virginia for the night. After a few harrowing moments of the check engine light appearing, and some interesting mountain driving, it was relatively uneventful.

IMG_2784The first race was at 5 PM on Friday afternoon. A super sprint. Ok. An easy 250m in the lake (with about 50 m of that being goose poo) sans wetsuit, brief little 4k bike (mostly all uphill) and then a mile run (little more hill). It was fun but also eye-opening. I told myself do NOT go out hard – this is a long weekend. I tried to do all paces at long-distance paces. It was fun, hill. Lots of hill. A preview of the weekend.

We went back to the cabin and Anna’s parents – who are quite possibly the most wonderful triathlon-Sherpa parents to roam the earth – did our laundry and made some food. Bedtime came early every single night. The three of us were sharing a room and in bunk beds in the cabin. I think it was lights-out at 9 PM after all three of us spent the majority of the night trying to pry Gator Skins onto my bike. Beezey ended up with a beautiful thumb blister.

Saturday – 7:30 AM (Sprint) Rise and shine. Sprint number 1 for Beezey and I. Swim – bike – run. Wetsuit, goose poop, hills, HILLLLS, DOWNhill, speed bump, and hill, running, hill, rock, tripping over rock, and some more running. Basically – it was super fun. There was a huge 2-mile hill that everyone clumped together on. We got about a mile up and the guy next to me yelled – only a mile to go! Talk about a race where everyone is just rooting everyone else to perform their best. Shouts of joy from all cyclists upon getting to the top of that 2-mile hill-we’d have to do it again on Sunday morning….on tired legs. The downhills were so challenging and Beezey and I had a great time passing eachother back and forth on the bike. I’d spin up the hill – she’d catch me while flying down the other side. The bike course was very challenging. Steep up and downhills with plenty of switchbacks. It showed me who was boss and was defintely a great weeknd to hone in on cycling skills. The run was fine. Small bit of cramping on the uphills, but the second half was downhill. Okie dokie. Go rest and repeat later that afternoon.

Saturday – 3:00 PM (Sprint) Bike – Swim – Run. We biked first. More hills, but smaller ones. One road on this course was the type where they put down oil and then cover it with gravel. It was pretty unpleasant and I ended that ride white-knuckled and happy if I never saw gravel again. I kept the rubber down and finshed up the ride. Swimming after hilly riding…in a cold lake…let’s just say, I took the time to struggle into a wetsuit and am glad I did. Instant quad cramping when I hit the cold water. I swam the entire distance using only my arms. Any time I would kick, my legs would just seize. I know how to prepare for next time. Got out and was never happier to run, despite how my legs felt. I followed Beezey the whole run – just like old days she pulled me right along. I told myself to just keep her pink compression socks in view and all would be well. We ended up getting a ride up the hill back to our cabin from a nice gentleman in a white pick-up truck. At that moment – it was heaven on earth.

Back to the cabin, more laundry, Beezey did some grillin, and then early bedtime again.

Sunday – 7:00 AM (Oly. Distance) I knew that hill was coming again on the bike. I felt so much better than I had on Saturday afternoon. Legs felt fresh, I was rested. We hit the lake for one last shake through the goose poop. keep-mouth-shut-keep-mouth-shut-keep-mouth-shut And yay! Bike time. I felt good. Spinning along at a moderate pace. Knowing that hill was coming again. This time, I knew what I was in for. I seemed to get to the top a lot sooner, even though I think it was because I was focusing on other things. Then once I hit about mile 18 on the bike, I started to hoof it. I knew that my legs would be fine. I had made it this far and was ready to push it a bit. Finshed really strong and of course – smiling – at the end of the bike course! Slapped on my shoes and started out for the insanely uphill 6.5 mile run. I walked up every hill. I was tired at that point. But I mustered a decent pace for the downhills. haha. I probably could have tucked and rolled at the same speed, but whatever, the end was near. Finished. Got my food and a 3rd place AG. Savored my last few minutes with my bestie and then trucked the 8ish hours back to DC.

I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to do this with and I LOVED being with my tri bestie/Sherpa extraordinare/all-time favorite running partner. It was too short but I wouldn’t have wanted to do that suffer-fest with anyone else!!

Fast forward to that week. All of my tests: Run TT, Bike TT, Swim CSS, were that following week. The point was to do these on tired legs after a long training weekend to see how I fared.

Since March
Swim CSS – 9 second per 100y improvement
Bike 15 mile TT – 2:00 improvement
Run 5K TT – 2:14 improvement

MOST OF ALL THOUGH – I don’t feel drained or in pain every single day. I don’t have nagging little niggles, I feel rested and strong all the time. Add to that – a renewed focus on Injury Prevention and having set days built into my training plan where I focus on injury prevention and rest. I have specific injury prevention sets and we focus hard on making sure that my body and core remain strong in place of just “getting in the miles.”  I have a set number of hours in my schedule and I finally have a great balance between swim-bike-run workouts and the rest, foundational strength, and foam rolling required to stay healthy all season. My individual needs and goals as a triathlete and as a busy person who also plays music in her downtime are all balanced in my plan. I’ve not been able to find that for some time and it’s awesome to see improvement not only in my fitness, but also in my personal life and my outlook on the sport and why I really started triathlon in the first place. My goal this season was to re-find what I loved in the sport – and I have certainly done that without even having a single A Race yet.

I will take this. I am gearing up for my early August short-distance A race and hope to have everything honed in by then. I’ve got a big apartment move in the middle of July, some family visiting, a trip to see the Brewers v. Phillies, and a tune-up race. It’s going to be a busy month and having the solidity of a training plan always helps keep things normalized for me.

Then after that August A Race, it’s all New Orleans training, all-day. I’ll have a good 2 months of longer distance building on a solid fitness base that I will have developed by August and then the month of October for a brief taper.

This is really shaping up to be a fun and fantastic season. It’s drama-free. I am having the time of my life with the people and the sport that I love. I am doing races that I want to do and having just a dandy old time. Just what the doctor of life ordered!

restday

I Train Best When…I Think…?

The past month or so has been difficult on my training schedule. First it was a trip to Wisconsin (a very important trip…), next a sinus infection that knocked me out for three days, then a solid several weeks of decent build, HALT – a terrible terrible flu from which I am still recovering … etc. etc. … no excuses but I just can’t seem to get on a roll here. I’ll have some decent training sessions and then a slew of days where nothing clicks. It’s either all there, or all frustration. There is no middle ground these days.

News on the family front has put things into perspective. To those of you who know me, you understand how close I am with my family — some of you are just as close to them. They are my family and they are my best friends. Mom’s side, dad’s side. I treat them all with love, respect, and care for them deeply. When one hurts, we all hurt. As the oldest grandkid, cousin, kid, etc. – I have always been sort of in the middle. Not as young as the bulk of my cousins, and not as old as my aunts and uncles. It has given me an interesting perspective and has made me close to all of them in different ways. As we face difficult times ahead, I find myself feeling far from home. My heart hurts and I am sad to not be sharing this journey with the people that I love so much. As the girl who always made it home at least one or two Sundays a month to visit, catch the home church service, and hang out with my family – it is difficult to be half a country away from them. Hugs, hands, tears, wishing I could share this time with them – not for myself – but for everyone. To share the love we all have. To be there to support, and also to have that support in return.

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Right – so what does any of this have to do with triathlon, training, etc.? The above picture was taken last summer (July 2015) while I was home in WI for my sister’s wedding. I had just finished a 70 mile bike ride from Milwaukee out to my grandparent’s house and my dad drove and met me there. He forgot to bring my dry clothes so here I am in my gross bike gear. Stinky no doubt – but these people love me anyway. 🙂 These are my lovely grandparents. You never know what life will deal you or when it will deal…so I try to never take anything for granted. This day was spent with great loves: triathlon and family. We told wonderful stories that day and sang songs together. Grandpa told his usual naughty jokes, grandma tried not to be embarrassed as she sat holding his hand, we shared memories of old times, we talked about my upcoming race, and (of course) the terrible Milwaukee Brewers. It wasn’t easy to leave that day, but it’s a day I will remember forever.

Today I returned to my training with a different mindset. Again, it is life that reminds me to put things back into perspective. Today, just like always, I hit the pool. This time, filled with thoughts of my family. Clear, wonderful thoughts. Memories flooding through me. I heard the water in my ears and remembered wonderful times spent at my grandparents’ swimming pool. I thought of my cousins, my sister, my parents, my aunts and uncles. Love in general. I couldn’t get out of my head how lucky I am to have such beautiful family members in my life. Not everyone is so lucky. I wasn’t thinking about a specific pace, my workout data, my coach, my training partners, none of that. I don’t want to hear any of that. It is so easy to get wrapped up in drama and data and this and that. But I improve and am at my best when I am focused on my own thoughts — drowning out the drama and data and talk of those around me. In the end, my training does need to be my time. I love the group support sometimes and seeing everyone once in a while. It helps especially on very long rides to know there is support there. But I also like knowing that I can do a lot of my training on my own. I like the push and competition and it is necessary at times – but always training with a group or with other people would be a tedious task for me.

It always comes full circle. I am my happiest when I am training alone with my thoughts. Those thoughts might be sad, happy, angry – it doesn’t matter. But in the end, all of those sessions that end up being my best sessions are the ones in which I am listening to my brain and my heart. I love the times when it is me and my own mental and physical battle. Whether it is fighting something physical (flu, knee), mental, or just boredom sometimes (bike trainer), I realize that my favorite times are when I fight through those battles on my own. When I stop for just 30 seconds to watch a sunset or a heron glide across the water, to wipe a tear from a wonderful memory, or to blow a dandelion into the wind and make a wish — these things are worth it to me. What is 30 seconds during training? Would I do it in a race? Nah….I’d want that 30 seconds to try to win…but you can bet I will still be enjoying every minute and smiling as much as I can (see Ironman). Do I want to be competitive at this sport? You bet! And in time, I think I can get there. I work hard every day with the help of my coach — but it is the brain and the “me” time that really play a role in how my training goes. The training is my therapy. Sometimes I forget. My swim today proves that bit by bit I am improving. The joy for me though, comes in those moments when I can reflect. I do that with the black line, the miles on the bike in the beautiful sun, and one foot in front of the other during a run. Even with the memories flooding my brain today at the pool — I dropped my Critical Swim Speed another few seconds (yay!). My body felt balanced and smooth in the water. I didn’t even feel like I was going that fast.  Today, I have to thank my family for my training session. The beautiful thoughts and memories provided a perfect backdrop as I inched through the water.

Far in distance — so close in heart.

RunningGoucher

With love, to my family at home: It truly is a wonderful life.

Snowzilla 2016 Woke Me Up

Let’s just say…2016 has been “interesting” so far. My first physical challenge of the year was the Indoor Tri through Lifetime Fitness. It went fine. My swim is still really rough and I work on it constantly. My bike saved me and my run is improving. I wasn’t terribly pleased with my performance, but I didn’t embarrass myself either. Moving on.

A wonderful Packephoto 1rs-Redskins game with E-Rock and The Man proved to be an excellent time. My heart and head have been highly stressed and heavy lately for a number of personal reasons. It was good to let loose a bit and laugh with some of my favorite people. Getting back into a more regular routine and focusing on my training has proved to be beneficial.

However, just as I started getting back on track, I visited Wisconsin to see my ailing grandparents. The Man accompanied for part of it which made it a special trip. I got to show off only a very small part of the city I love so much (Milwaukee). It felt wonderful to see some old friends as well as family. A little chilly (highs in the negatives) but I managed to get in my swims with my favorite training partner, Beezey! It was good for my soul to be training with her again in the dead of winter.

I came back to VA ready to rock!! Had a great talk on the phone with Coach D. Then…cue door slam. Immediately socked with sinuses full of gunk. I was in a terrible spot. Not wanting to miss any more work after having just returned from vacation and the holidays. Hoping I didn’t make anyone ill…alas…I was out. No energy. No lung power. No workouts.

Then SNOWZILLA 2016. I spent the better part of the week shrugging it off. I am a WI girl and snow doesn’t stop me. I was wrong. This was my first DC metro area snow storm….Snow shuts down a city here. I stand very, very corrected. I apologize to anyone (everyone) I laughed at.

Wisconsin

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DC-Metro

snow day oprahshovel

Obviously, this area does not have resources to deal with this type of thing. Snow ended around midnight on Saturday and I had no doubt that I would be out and about by 9 AM Sunday morning. Incorrect. I couldn’t make it out of my subdivision on my own power until mid-day Monday. For days and days and days – stuck inside. At my wits end…I had the worst of cabin fever. Plus, I really, really needed to put some time in at the office. But…the boredom and the fact that my sinuses were on the mend allowed me to finally put in some time on the bike trainer and in the running shoes. A great trainer session on Friday, a tempo run, and some serious shoveling and snow trudging on Sunday – have re-inspired me. Now that I am at least mobile and able to move about the city again, it reminds me of Wisconsin and I love it. I may not have been able to get many places, and this area clearly can’t handle snow like the midwest, but it got me back on the horse workout-wise. Re-motivated and back in a positive mindset.

So maybe I was annoyed that I couldn’t get anywhere to actually play in the snow, but my run shoes didn’t fail me and my bike trainer was the usual perplexing (and long/boring) experience. Decent workouts all around and enough to launch me back into some sort of routine – despite the fact that normal routines were completely destroyed by the snow and sinuses.

While I do love snow, I am at my happiest on my long rides with the wind in my face and my thoughts in my head. The trainer is maddening to me. Soon, I hope to be back on the roads. March isn’t far away. Although, if I have to be on a trainer, it’s much easier with several feet of snow outside than any other weather. 🙂

There are always lanterns in the darkness and sometimes you need the help of a beautiful blizzard to see them. Nothing beats the sound (yes it is quiet – but that IS the sound) of a fresh snowfall. It is one of the most peaceful experiences in the world. Don’t forget to listen.

“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” Albert Camus

Bring the training. Bring the tough.

Bring that DAMN bike trainer (hopefully not for much longer).

 

She Smiles, She Swims

So the past couple of weeks have been decent training-wise. I’m still not quite up for long periods of time on the bike but running and swimming have been excellent for my soul. This is a shorter post – mostly about work in the pool.

The pool.

After the eval from Coach D, I have had no shortage of things to focus on at the pool. Kick, kick, kick, go very slow, kick some more, float, kick, single-arm, drill, drill, drill. I like it though. I like working my butt off. Swims have been no longer than 1600 at a pop right now (averaging 3 per week). Much of this is drills and kicks. I can already tell that my vertical kicking is improving. I was happy that today at a relatively empty pool, I wasn’t the only one doing vertical kicking! The woman in the lane next to me had her arms to the sky workin’ it (although she was wearing fins which gave her a slight advantage). Slowly but surely I am getting my arms higher and able to not drown for longer periods of time.

But I work. Boy do I work. And it is difficult. Oh to be a natural swimmer. This week I have consistently shaved 10 seconds off my 200 time. It isn’t a mountain, but the little molehills can add up if I am able to get some endurance at that pace.

Using a kick board is not pleasant. But I do it. Every time I hit the pool. If I am going to pay $8 when I use a pool…I am going to work damnit.  Seriously though. I do notice the improvement and I feel better in the water – until I get tired and my form goes down the drain. Baby steps. Baby kicks? I’m a better triathlete than I was yesterday. Even a bad day at the pool reaffirms that. Sometimes fighting through a workout makes you feel pretty good when all is said and done. Especially when you look at your data and realize it wasn’t as bad as it felt.

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Looking forward to Sunday’s CSS Test!

Loving the work. Craving more. Working towards excellence!

Why the Ironman? – It isn’t about the medal (or the tattoo).

Tonight marks the end of my first full week of Ironman training. All-in-all, a success topped off by this morning’s beautiful GW Parkphoto-4way 10 miler. There I am with my sweet medal. Averaged 9:30 miles. No back pain. So, yay! This was a win.

10 miler aside, however, this is going to be a rare serious blog post from yours truly. As I began my training this week and after a few talks with some of my closest friends, I really dug into why I am doing this Ironman. I get the question: Why would you ever do something like that?

It is not an easy question for me to answer in the time it would take during these types of conversations. So I usually say something like….”Well I want to check it off my bucket list,” or “There’s no time like the present!” Which is partially true. But not really. No one wants to actually stick around and hear the real answer, because it isn’t glorious and fabulous. It is dark and uncomfortable and uncharacteristic of the me most people know. And if you don’t want to hear it, by all means you can stop reading this at any time. But it is something I need to share for myself as well as for anyone who might have similar feelings or experiences.

For me, this Ironman is not about winning. It is not about faster times, crossing the finish line in X number of hours, going sub 10 minute miles on the marathon, losing weight and looking fab, or getting a medal. It isn’t even about bragging rights. (Maybe a little bit about the tattoo). I have always wanted to do an Ironman, yes, but now is exactly the time! Why?

What is the Ironman for me? My Ironman is about healing, hope, and rediscovery. Two years ago, I lost myself and completely forgot who I really was. I gave up a lot of me for something that never should have been. I lost my sparkle, my smile, my self confidence, and everything that defined me as the person I had worked so hard to become. I was a shell of that strong, independent, sometimes hard-headed woman. I was even told that I used the word “love” too much. However, I don’t think it is wrong to use the word when you really do love people. How can having love be a bad thing? I really do love. Anyway, I lost much of my self-worth and was ashamed for how bad I let everything get. Nevertheless, I slapped on a big grin, and accomplished amazing things! Life goes on despite the background noise. So in essence, not all was lost! Looking back, of course I know better now, but the sting is still there, as well as the realization that I will never let that happen again. During those dark times, I was told that my Ironman was a stupid goal. How foolish it was to have such a goal! At that time, my Ironman goal was about finishing and being able to say I did it! But it was not and has never been a foolish goal. Because it was/still is my goal.

Last summer, I moved to this beautiful new city for a new job. It should have been a perfect fresh start. But the healing didn’t begin right away. It was a lonely summer and although I was far from homesick (the distance was excellent!) I felt lost. I was lost because I was still trying to hang onto that which had stolen my identity. I joined some groups (yay Team RWB!) and got involved in a bunch of stuff, but it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t until my wonderful friend Marty came to visit, that I finally had some sense knocked into me. “You are not you anymore. Why are you doing this?” For some reason, this time it stuck. I knew it in my heart that things weren’t right, but I just kept ignoring it for some reason. I kept convincing myself to push those feelings aside and try to make things work. Because you had to fight for relationships right? That’s what I kept hearing.

The realization that support from my loved ones will always run deeper than anything in the world no matter what – was the straw that broke the camel’s back. For some reason, it was Marty’s visit that made it finally strike home. Many, many of my friends had attempted to get through my thick head, but I kept convincing myself that they were wrong. Loved ones don’t have to be husbands, boyfriends. Loved ones are best friends, family, people that love and embrace you for who you are. My friend Eric shared the following: While they all fall in love with her smile, she waits for the one who will fall in love with her scars. And my bestie in Arizona told me: There’s nothing any man could do to stop me from being your friend.

Their love is overwhelming at times and when I sit and think about it, I can feel myself being embraced by it. I sit and can literally feel the warmth. Thousands of miles away.

Scars? Yep. I’ve got them. For a solid year, every one of those scars was reopened and filled with salt – time and time again. But those scars have since closed again. They are there, they are visible, and they are me. Am I proud of the scars, no. Have they made me into the woman I am, yes. Am I proud of the woman I am today, you bet. I don’t mind having the scars because scars are wounds that have healed.

So how does the Ironman fit into this and have I digressed? I have not digressed. After Marty’s visit, I volunteered at IM Maryland. This gave me first dibs on an entry into the next year’s race. And now it is coming. I signed up. I signed up and this journey is for me and me alone. In no way is it a selfish journey. Those who want to share and support are the ones who have always supported. This is nothing new. What is my training? It is many things. I can go out on a long run, and it isn’t about…I need to get these miles in today. It is…wow, today I can run 10 miles. During those miles, I rediscover myself. I reflect. I remember why I started. This Ironman is my journey. It is my journey into myself. It is reacquainting my heart with my mind and my body. I lace up my shoes and it is  a reminder of self-worth. I slap on a swim cap and follow that black line and it is “I am strong in mind and body.” I clip in and bike for half a day and the wind blowing on my face is love. A bad training day is still my journey. This has always been my goal and it is more meaningful now than it ever would have been before. I choose to see the good in every darkest moment. Now I can look back and say, wow…this Ironman will be even more important than I could have imagined. Before it was to finish….but now it MEANS something much more! This Ironman is for me. Because I am me again. Every mile and footstep is me. Crossing that finish line is for me. My rediscovery, my hope in humanity, my love for all humans, my choosing to see the good in everything, my mind, and dammit my scars. Take it or leave it. I do this for me. And that is what motivates me every single training day.

Do you know what motivates you? Why are you on your journey? Remember why you started.

Here’s some Mumford and Sons just for a little extra end cheesiness….some of my favorite lyrics:

If your strife strikes at your sleeve.

Remember spring swaps snow for leaves.

You’ll be happy and wholesome again.

When the city clears and sun ascends.

Thanks for your patience. 🙂 Rough but real. I’ll be back to singing and dancing next blog entry.

Biking, Balance, and that Poppins Woman!

Today was a day I remembered why I normally bike commute. I strive to maintain a healthy balance between training, music, social activities, work, and most importantly…sleep(!). I love scheduling and can’t live without my calendar. It’s an old-school calendar too…no fancy phone calendar for me. I need to write things down. I am pretty sure that’s half of the reason I enjoy triathlon. (The scheduling of the season and the workouts/filling in my calendar!) I like knowing what’s next on the plan. I like knowing that I am working towards an end goal. Etc., etc. Unfortunately, today was one of those days when I was forced to take the little blue gumdrop Aveo to work. 76 degrees and I am car commuting…  Every other Thursday I have clarinet rehearsal and need to leave right from work (hence…car). It usually works out quite nice as there is a BEAUTIFUL pool at the rec center near where I rehearse. It is one of my favorite non-outside places to swim. I always have plenty of time to get there, get in a great workout, and still make it to rehearsal. Today…I-66 was a parking lot. Is it every day? Is this common knowledge? Probably. I don’t care to find out. I usually don’t go that way. Lesson LEARNED. This is why I do not drive. Instant blood pressure increase. Because I am originally from a rural area (grew up at the end of a dead-end street), being stuck in traffic is not a fun thing and certainly not how I want to spend my mornings and afternoons.

TrafficJam

Ok…so maybe it wasn’t quite that bad, but that’s how it seemed. 76 degrees and stuck in the car watching my calendar-allotted pool time dwindle. As the frustration mounted, I remembered that I had my trusty Mary Poppins CD in the car. I might be the only grown woman driving on the highway with all 4 windows down belting “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” all by my lonesome. It works like a charm every time. Mary Poppins has not only gotten me through some tough life situations, she gets me through long runs too! Showtunes in general. It isn’t unusual for me to just start singing Broadway-style mid-run. It works on the lung power. Does anyone else have weird little quirks that they think about or do during long endurance workouts? 🙂 By the time I finally got to the pool I only had about 30 minutes total to change, swim, shower and get back on the road. I made the best of it and blasted through my fastest swim time ever! Luckily I was set to work on sprints today anyway. I had to shorten the workout, but still left feeling strong and satisfied. I also reminded myself that I had been feeling quite strong for my first few road bike rides over the past couple of weeks and that brightened the spirits. Especially having been sidelined with that back injury and completely off the bike for 2 solid months.

Of course, following the rehearsal, it decided to DOWNpour for my commute home.

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Again – not that bad…but it was stressful and unpleasant. So I went back to the Broadway tunes. First song, “Chim Chim Cher-ee.” Does it get any better than that? Bert was and will always be my first true love. 🙂 Broadway Bert is even better (feel free to disagree)!

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In short, on these frustrating days when I am unable to accomplish my “daily goals” regarding IM training, I still feel it’s better to maintain balance. I could have skipped my clarinet rehearsal to get in a good long swim. I seriously thought about it. My musician friends are used to me showing up with chlorine perfume and they would have understood. But then not only do I let myself down, but everyone else in the group. So I opted to maintain the balance and get my tail over to rehearsal. What’s a few 100 meters as long as it doesn’t happen on a continuous basis? I hop right back in the saddle (literally) tomorrow! I will not be using that car tomorrow. I’ve had enough for one week thank you very much. I do recommend the next time anyone is having a bad day with regards to training, life balance, injury, anything – to try a little of that Poppins woman! We may not be “practically perfect in every way” but we sure can get some great life lessons from her! Plus, it’s impossible not to smile when you hear it. In the end, it’s about the smiles and remembering why you started.

I’m even planning to take a breather and fly a kite this weekend! Cherry Blossom Kite Festival!

“You can dance on the breeze over houses and trees, with your fist holding tight, to the string of your kite!”

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“It’s a jolly holiday with you, Bert – gentlemen like you are few.”

Remember why you started.