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Saturday, August 30, 2014

What If I Hadn't Started Running?

Three years ago I was 190 pounds and I was unhappy with myself.  I watched a friend lose her daughter to leukemia at the age of 9, another friend lost her husband to a car accident (they had two young daughters the same age as mine.)  I finally realized that life was precious and I was wasting time and regretting it.  I decided that I wanted to start running.  I didn't know anything about running and I couldn't run any further than about two mailboxes on my road.  That's how I measured distance.... mailboxes.  I'd run two mailboxes, walk for two mailboxes.  I repeated that until I couldn't breathe or my shins hurt too much to continue.

The funniest thing happened.  It became easier and I could run father.  I saw an add for a program that allowed me to raise money for a charity and in turn run half marathon with their support.  I never imagined that I could run that far, but my new motto was, "Live Life with No Regrets."  I signed up and never looked back.

I didn't lose much weight during that training, but I gained a lot of confidence.  I took some time off after the 1/2, but eventually I got back to it and I added a decent diet as well.  I started reading about other runners turned triathletes and thought about my own swimming and biking experience and decided I had the ability to do all three sports, so why not?

So, a triathlete was born.  

It's amazing to me as I tell this story how easily everything just seemed to flow and fit together.  Life changes and all you have to do is take one step.  I decided it was time for change and I went for it.  I can't imagine my life without running, swimming, and biking.  I would be so bored!  Since starting I've lost 40 pounds.  I feel great and I enjoy life.  

The thing is.... I'm still looking for my place.  I need to know where I fit in.  Yes, as an adult, I need acceptance.  My running friends don't understand why I would want to be a triathlete and so while they support me, they don't always want to train with me.   My triathlete friends are limited because I'm still "slow" and I'm not elite enough to fit in with the fast members of the team I am a member of. I'm still looking for my place to belong.  I go to races alone and I support myself.  I'm slowly meeting new people and I will find my place, but it's like starting all over in life.  

Someone once told me I'm having my mid-life crisis.  Perhaps I am!  But it's a damn good mid-life crisis if you ask me.  If I can redesign myself and start over with the best me I can be, I'm happy, even if it means meeting a whole new set of friends.  

I'm pretty happy with the journey though!

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Last Sprint

Last weekend was my final sprint tri of the season- the HFP Linwood Park Vermilion triathlon.  I always sign up for this race because my sister lives in the beautiful little town of Vermilion.  This means $0 hotel bills!

Friday night, my oldest daughter and I packed up and left for my sister's house.  My daughter was doing the kidz race on Saturday morning.  She was nervous because unlike the pervious races, this race had numerous girls in her age group doing the duathlon.  I told her I wasn't worried about what place she came in.  To help her get past that, we looked at pervious times and set a time goal instead.  Her last two races were both around 32 minutes.  I told her to try to beat 30 minutes.

She went out slow on the run to pace herself and encouraged her to pedal faster on her bike.

My sister and I ran from spot to spot to see her race.  We watched her bike past and jogged to the finish area thinking we had time.  She had a 1/2 mile run at the end.  Her 1/4 run at the beginning took her 2:12, so I figured around 4 minutes.  In past races, she's been so tired, her time is usually 6 minutes for the run.  My sister and I stood at the finish line watching other kids run in.  I felt a tap on my shoulder and saw...

WE MISSED HER!  Her 1/2 mile time was 2:57.  Holy cow!  She said she ran as fast as she could and felt great.   Her time for the whole race: 26 minutes!!!  She did finish 6th in her age group, but I really could care less.  I was SO proud of her!

After her race we cleaned up and went geocaching around town, had lunch, and rested a bit.  I went out on my bike with my brother-in-law to scope out the bike course and decided that the hill was still a hill and still big!  

That night I went to bed knowing that a storm was moving in. UGH!

The next morning my alarm went off and I heard the sound of rain coming down.  The whole race would be in the pouring rain.  I got to transition and racked my bike and waited out the time for the start.  At least it wasn't cold!  

Sorry....I have very few pictures because I didn't want to ruin my phone and my sister didn't bring her camera for the very same reason!  My sister WAS a trooper...she brought her 14 year old son and may daughter out to watch me in the pouring rain.  

The race started and the waves were a bit unnerving.  I consider myself a strong swimmer, so I KNOW others were freaking out.  My sister said they saw the lifeguards bringing a lot of people in out of the water.  They delayed the start of each wave because the lifeguards were too busy helping people to help watch the next wave.  I, thankfully, settled into a groove after about 150 yards.  It wasn't my fastest swim, but I was glad to get it over with.  

Transition was a MESS!  Transition was in a grassy area and the rain just made it a mud pit.  These are NOT my feet, but here is what transition looked like as we were heading out.

I went out on the bike wondering to myself how fast I could go....I have NEVER ridden my bike in the rain.  I probably should have done some rain riding before.  There is always a first for everything. I'd just rather it not be in a race!!!

I would have like to have gone a bit faster, but I have to say that once I gained some confidence, I did pick it up a bit.  I was "comfortable" with my speed and the ride.  The rain picked up just as I hit the large down hill and then the 90 degree right turn into the large up hill.   SIGH....

I managed to make it back to transition within 4 minutes of my goal time and without crashing.  I didn't see any crashes, but I did see a few people with flats on one of the roads that needs resurfacing (badly!)  

Out for my run and I felt just ok.  At least I wasn't hot right?  

I finished with a slower time than I wanted, but given the conditions, I felt ok with my race.  Had I gotten the same time I had there last year, I would have ended up 3rd in my AG.  Oh well.  

While my time wasn't great, I'm really glad I did this race for several reasons... I need more practice in water with waves.  Cedar Point is likely to have waves and chop and I certainly don't want to freak out there.  I need to be prepared.  I also needed to gain more confidence on my bike.  I didn't ride as fast as I would like, but I got some rain riding in.  It was worth the time there because I wouldn't have ever chosen to go out in the rain!

All in all, it was a great weekend.   And besides...who can deny spending time with a child who WANTS to do what I do?!?!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

What it Means to be on a Team

At my last triathlon, The Sylvania Women's Tri, I knew that I would be seeing multiple "newbies" and that excited me.  Why?  Because it means I had a chance at meeting people who shared the same passion as me, and who wanted to learn, and love my sport!

Several women from my town were doing their very first tri.  I was excited FOR them.  I barely knew them, but I promised them I would be there to cheer for them no matter where I was in my race.  I had a decent race, with an average for me swim, a good bike, and an average run.  I finished with a typical time.  It was a nice morning.  I collected my "bling" and checked the results and stashed my bike in my van.  I checked out the food and chatted with some women that were also done.

I had heard that there was still someone still out on the course when I was just about to leave.  In fact, I was told that she had just began the run.  I decided the this person, whoever she was, was going to finish and wasn't going to finish alone.  I went out to find her.  When I did, I was surprised to find that it was a particularly inspiring woman from my hometown.  I walked and ran with her for the rest of her 5K and helped her until it was her moment to finish.  She was so incredibly determined.  I was so happy to see her finish what she started.  She never gave up.

I also noticed that one team stayed until the very end to cheer her on.  I was so happy to talk with the group that was there from Brighton, Michigan.  The group was called the Killer Fitness Triathlon Club and is made up of people who want to enjoy the sport.  What I thought was interesting about this club was that it wasn't made up of the uber-intimidating, elite, super fit athletes that made me feel like I didn't fit in.  The club was made up of every day people who enjoyed the sport and wanted to share their journey with others.  Their coach was super sweet and cried with me as I shared with her my story about supporting the underdogs and frustration of wanting everyone to feel welcome to our sport.  She encouraged me to start a club here in our area.