Sunday, February 27, 2011

Life After Injury and Surgery

Today I pulled out my neglected runner's training diary.  My last entry was way back on July 14th.  That day I lifted weights, swam a half mile, then went to the doctor's to get fitted for a walking cast.  I wore that monstrosity for three weeks.  I continued swimming, biking and lifting weights and hoped like heck that my foot would heal quickly so I could get back to running.  Even though I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing, my foot just wasn't healing.  I decided to give Eastern medicine a try.  After just three visits with my amazing acupuncturist and two weeks of taking Chinese herbs, I finally had some pain free days.  I continued treatments and finally, after three months off, was able to begin running again in the fall.  My whole attitude towards fitness had changed.  Pace, distance and races were no longer important.  Running is a gift in and of itself.

I got in a three good months of running, cycling and swimming.  I thoroughly enjoyed each and every workout.  Heavy in my heart was the knowledge that I'd have to take eight weeks off all exercise to heal from a surgery.  I just realized that for the first time in three years, I am going to miss running in the Eugene Marathon.   I just don't have the base to dive right into that kind of training.  The longest I've run since last June is a mere nine miles.  Even the half marathon would be a stretch.  That's just crazy since I was once so accustomed to throwing down 20 miles at a drop of a hat.  I'm not going to let it get me down though.  I have to measure my successes on a completely different yard stick these days.

After three weeks of easing back into post-surgery workouts, I finally felt like I had turned a corner.  It's time to start logging my workouts and training again!  It's been a great week for me.  The highlight was running four miles with my running partner, Laura.  I had such a good time chatting and catching up that I forgot to take the walk breaks that I'd been accustomed to.  It felt like old times again.  I couldn't think of anyone with whom I'd rather share those miles than Laura.  We have been running together since training for Eugene Marathon 2009.  Together we have run for hours on end and logged hundreds of miles.  The second highlight was taking my bike for my first post-op ride outdoors.  I had a terrific nine miler along the river path.  I felt so strong and energetic that I decided to finish the morning workout with a swim.

It takes time and patience, but there is life after injury and surgery.  I won't be running a marathon this spring, but other adventures and challenges await me.  As I embrace my running come back and initiation into the triathlon world, I appreciate this 39 year-old body of mine more than ever.  Thank you healthy strong body for letting me do the activities that I love!

I still can't believe how much I love swimming!

Wrapping up my bike/swim brick 
With my daughters on family day at the pool

Saturday, February 26, 2011

For the Love of Pearl Izumi

I can no longer contain my excitement or wait until April 17th for the unveiling of my newest article of tri clothing.  Last weekend, my family and I went outlet mall shopping.  The plan was to get shoes for the kids and high tail it out there with as little damage to our bank account as possible.  When Steve mentioned that there was a Pearl Izumi store, I questioned whether or not it would be a good idea to check it out.  It seemed a little dangerous.  I am a gear junkie just entering the world of cycling and triathlons.  As I talk to people, read articles and blogs, I have come to equate triathlons to money pits.  There are so many things that one can purchase to shave minutes off transitions and make for easier, more comfortable swims, rides and runs.

Originally I had planned on swimming in my regular swim suit, pulling a pair of biking shorts and jersey over it for the ride, then just changing shoes.  It was only my first triathlon and a sprint at that.  Why invest any more money than I needed to?  If and when I decided that tri's were for me, I'd splurge on performance clothing and equipment.  Nonetheless, here we were at the outlet mall with the Pearl Izumi store within footsteps.  When Steve mentioned they might have a cheap tri suit, I couldn't resist.  Upon entering the *swoon* store, I was greeted by racks and racks of gorgeous sports clothing.  Posters of muscular athletes with race numbers Sharpied onto them, modeled colorful high-tech cycling, swimming and running apparel.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  

I nonchalantly glanced at price tags of cycling shorts, gloves and jerseys. OUCH!  Even at the outlet store, this stuff was pricey!  I scanned the room for the sales and better yet clearance racks.  It all was very overwhelming.  So much stuff, such steep prices and I really hadn't planned on shopping or buying anything.  What was a girl to do?!  My partner, the more rational shopper of us, took over.  He asked the sales clerk if there were any tri suits on sale.  Good question!  Why didn't I think of that?  

We were told that he had just put a pair of tri suits on the clearance rack.  He only had one size and one color but they were a great and rare deal.  He pulled out an aqua, royal blue Pearl Izumi tri suit with neon yellow insignia on the sides.  Okay, not my first color choice, but my family would be able to spot me in the swarm of athletes as they spectated.  Please, let it fit I thought as I hit the changing room.  As I squeezed into the suit, I was surprised at how revealing it was.  No wonder black was the color of choice for these things.  Beggars can't be choosers though, especially when the mentioned $119.99 suit was on sale for $29.99.  This baby has a built in bra for running and chamois padding for the cycling.  It would save me time during transitions.  I needed this suit.  I did what only a penny pinching aspiring triathlete could do.  I bought it!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Beauty in the Balance

My six to eight week exercise hiatus is officially over!  Sleeping, watching a ridiculous amount of television, reading and working on my photo albums have occupied my time but it's the texts, e-mails, phone calls, visits and outings I had with friends that got me through this period without losing my mind.  The last couple weeks I've been easing back into my exercise and appreciate it more than ever.  I tire and get sore easily, but am thrilled to be back, be healthy and have amazing folks with whom to workout.  There are even a few items on my race calendar!

I'm still trying to wrap my brain around what it takes to train for three different sports rather than just one.  What will this look like time wise?  How will this mesh with my family's household schedule?  During my recovery, I've come to recognize that moderation is not my strong suit.  At times, my family suffers as result of my workaholic and fitness nut ways.  There's got to be a way to balance all those elements of my life. 

Too often I feel like I'm a circus performer spinning plates.  There's only one of me to keep all these aspects of my life-- children, partner, home keeping, fitness, work, social, volunteer work, going all at the same time.  When one's so busy spinning, can one find joy in the moment?  In the past, I've always thought that family will fall into the empty spaces between my work and fitness life.  I'm afraid that often times my family gets "what's left of me" rather than "the best of me".  This is not okay with me.  I am still exploring what things I can let go of and what things I want to keep.

Above all, I strive to be fully present and to appreciate my time with my family.  My amazing daughters are growing up fast and are loads fun to be around.  I want to savor this time with them.  I don't wish to be busy for the sake of just being busy.  Some of the best times I've had with my daughters the last few weeks have been just hanging out at home talking and playing.  With so many classes, special activities, friends, parties, exploring and learning, I really have to be selective about from what to pick and chose so we aren't running ragged.

Regular dates after a date-famine, has reminded me of why I fell in love with my husband and how much more there is to our relationship than playing tag-team, parenting and taking care of the house. It's almost as if after twenty years of being together, that we're newlyweds again.  This isn't something that is just going to continue on it's own.  It's going to take effort and planning.  I have to remember to stop whatever I'm doing, look into his eyes and truly listen when he's talking and to zoom in for those quick hugs and kisses upon our arrivals and departures.  Planning dates might seem like another obligation but once we get out just the two of us, we always enjoy ourselves and come back happier people.  Even better is that we don't have to pay for a babysitter since we coordinate with another family to trade off play dates and parent dates.

Things are more likely to happen if they make it to my calendar.  Workouts are no different.  My partner and I both work out at least six days a week, enjoy running with other people and like having some sleep-in days.  We've carefully crafted a rotating schedule that allows us to have each of those things.  Here's a multi-sport plan that I'm going to try on for size over the next few weeks.  It sure looks nice in on paper!  We'll see how it plays out in real-life.  As I ease back in, I strive to have all the components of my life, work together in harmony rather than in opposition. Ebb & flow.  Scarcity and abundance.  Yin and yang.  Just as nature, the human body and earth tries to find balance, so do I.

M:  AM long swim
T:  PM run and lift weights at gym
W:  AM run
Th:  classroom volunteer [rest (or lift weights from home)]
F:  AM spin class followed by 30-45 min swim
S:  long run
S:  long cycle

M:  AM run
T:  PM run and lift at gym
W: PM long swim
Th:  AM long run with Run Momma Run group
F:  AM spin class followed by 30-45 min swim
S: rest [or lift weights]
S:  long cycle

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Day I Didn't Want to Get out of the Pool

Thanks to mother nature, I was blessed with a snow day today. Light fluffy flakes greeted my sweet daughters who were pretty confident that it was the result of their snow antics-- wearing their pajamas backwards, sleeping with spoons under their pillows, flushing an ice cube down the toilet and spinning around three times, the night before.  As a working mom, I long for extra time with my children and a chance to play catch up around the house.  After wolfing down a big breakfast, we bundled up and headed outdoors to enjoy our rare snow day.  There was much snow fun to be had and we weren't sure how long the white stuff was going to stick around.

Kassidy making a giant snowball

Skylar sitting on what will be the snowperson's middle

Ta da!  The twins made a snowperson
Three snow people,  two snow angels and many snowball fights later, we retreated into our warm home for hot chocolate.  Snow play is exhausting for the six year-old crowd.  Just as my daughters were ready for some down time, I was ready for some "me time".  I had sore legs from yesterday's run, so rather than hit the snowy roads, I opted for the pool.

Pre-Swim giddy feeling

The recreation center was pleasantly quiet and empty.  I was delighted not only to find my own lane, but to also find pleasantly warm water this crisp morning.  Mmmmm, it felt so good.  I had no where to be and nothing to do other than enjoy my swim.  Up and down the lanes I went, savoring the entire experience.  The feeling of weightlessness as I propelled through the water, the sight of air bubbles coming off my fingertips with each stroke, the sound the water gurgling underneath my swim cap and the feel of my rhythmic breathing was all that occupied my thoughts.  Lap after lap I went, waiting for fatigue to hit my limbs.  It never did.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  The more I swam, the more I wanted to continue swimming.  It was as if I was in a water-induced trance from which I didn't want to wake.

It seemed as if time stood still during my mile-long session in the pool.  The clock told another story, that in fact, an hour had passed.  My quiet retreat was coming to an end.  My partner had a workout to tend to and my children were likely re-energized and ready for more snow play.  As I made my way out of the pool, I noticed crystal blue skies and sunlight streaming through the windows.  I had that post-swim my-body-is-jello feeling.  All those sore muscles had loosened.  They were breathing a contented sigh and thanking me for the gift of such a loving, gentle form of exercise.  The outdoor jacuzzi caught my eye.  Perhaps just another ten minutes of aqua therapy?

After a nice hot soak and gentle stretching, I decided that it was time to return to the real world.  Thank you mother nature!  What a lovely treat this mid-morning swim was.

Post swim glow and goggle lines

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Does Trail Smitten Mom Need a New Moniker?

Trail running was my muse when I started blogging last year.  I had fallen head over heels in love with the sport and was eager to keep a record of my adventures on the trails.  Trail Smitten Mom seemed like the perfect pen name since I transformed into a giddy girl every time I stepped foot into the woods.  It didn't matter what the weather was like, whether I ran solo or with others, was training or racing, running short or long, hilly or flat, I was guaranteed a pleasant time in my playground and sanctuary.

Early in the summer, things changed. I got injured and I was no longer able to run.  After spending half my summer sulking and brooding, I decided to broaden my interests and activities.  Now that I wasn't running 30 to 40 miles a week, following a rigorous training regimen to prepare for marathons or 50Ks, I had an enormous amount of time, energy and freedom on my hands.

I tried on other sports and activities on for size. Surfing was pretty awesome and gave me that same euphoric feeling.  Unfortunately surfing isn't something I can just wake up, do and report back home for working mom duty. I'm hatching a plan to make that dream a reality, but for now, I needed more accessible activities.  To stay fit and be ready to run again as soon as the doctor gave me the green light, I begrudgingly swam and cycled.  I had no intention of actually "liking" those sports.  I was a runner dammit!  

Some of the best things in life happen because of a wrong turn, an accident or a set back.  This is one of those instances.  Before I knew it and much to my surprise, I found myself actually looking forward to my swims.  My early birthday present was a kick ass road bike.  The first few times I rode my bike, I thought, this sure as heck isn't running, but it'll do.  By the third ride, this fickle girl was won over.  I found my heart skipping a beat and my soul aching for a ride just at the sight or thought of my bike.  By golly, I was more than a recovering runner.  I was becoming a swimmer and a cycler!  As soon as I was able to start running, triathlon season had come and gone.

I was eager to try out my new multi-sport skills so I planned my own "do-it-yourself-triathlon".  I tried to get others to join me but no one was interested or available.  I embarked on my journey on my own.  I swam a half mile in my gym pool.  I was super stoked to have not just one, but all three lanes to myself that day. That was rare indeed.  I swam as if my life depended on it.  After 16-1/2 laps, I hopped out, toweled off, pulled on my cycling shorts and made a beeline for my van and drove to a nearby park for my cycling leg.

After donning my cycling jersey and shoes, I pedaled off for my 15 mile ride.  I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to go from swimming to cycling.  I had a ton of energy and what felt like fresh legs.  While riding I was able to suck down some water and a Gu for energy and call Steve to let him know that I would soon need his bike-bouncer services.  He and our daughters were there as I pedaled back to the van.  They took my bike, I shed my helmet and shoes and like a total newbie, I changed into running clothes.  Three kisses later, I was off for my running leg!

3.1 miles sounded easy.  I told Steve that since I was out there anyway, I'd just do my regular four mile Pre's loop.  Going from bike to running proved to be much more challenging than going from pool to cycling.  My legs still felt like they were spinning on the bike and were heavy, tired and awkward.  I glanced at my Garmin to check my speed and distance.  Geez, I was only a mile in!  There was no way I was running even a tenth of a mile longer than I needed to.  I was running my heart out and there wasn't much left in the tank.  Could I finish?  I knew I wasn't in running shape after having the whole summer off, but c'mon, it was only a 5K!  Please let me finish what I set out to do!  I was getting closer and could smell the finish line.

As I rounded the final corner, I could see Steve and the girls, my trusty cheering squad waiting for me.  I did it!  My legs were wobbly, my arms felt like limp spaghetti, but I was grinning from ear to ear!  I will always remember this day as the day Trail Smitten became tri smitten.  This is the year of the triathlon for me.  I am officially registered for a sprint tri, an open water swimming clinic and have my eyes set on a mid summer open water Olympic length triathlon.  The question is am I Tri Smitten or am I Trail Smitten?  We will soon find out! Hope you stick around for tales of my multi-sport adventures.

My New "Friday at Four"

"Fridays at four" used to mean meeting my fellow workmates at a nearby brewpub to toss back some beers and chat. After a long, busy week working, it often was the perfect start to the weekend and way to connect with folks that I saw in passing throughout the week.

Since having children, over six years ago, "Fridays at four" have become a thing of the past.  Another one of those things that happened BC (before children), like sleeping in and leisurely eating breakfast and reading the paper cover to cover weekend mornings.  Sometimes I miss participating in this work ritual, but for the most part I'm delighted to have two cutie pies awaiting my arrival home from work each Friday afternoon.

Yesterday marked another Friday, the end of the work week and the beginning of the coveted weekend.  Right after work, I headed to the gym for a nice easy swim.  I enjoyed a half hour of quiet, weightless movement. The pool washed away all the details of the work week.  When I stepped out of the water, I felt refreshed, calm, centered and fully ready to seize the weekend with my family.  Now if that isn't a great Friday at four, I don't know what is.  Here's to embracing new meaningful, healthy rituals into our lives!