So, it’s official. I am a Bondi Band Social Media Brand Ambassador. What does this mean? This means that I am officially your Bondi Band go-to girl.
Are you a Bondi Band fan? They are the only headbands I have ever worn as a runner. And I wear them running, spinning, and to the gym. I am never working out without one on my head. I think the people at the YMCA enjoy seeing what message I’m carrying with me that day when I turn up. It usually brings a smile, nevertheless.
For those of you unfamiliar with Bondi Band, let me tell you a little bit about them. Bondi Band was founded by Rebecca Buckley, who, at one time, searched high and low searching for a fun, fashionable headband that did not slip while she was working out. She was unsuccessful in her search. So, while vacationing in Australia, she was inspired to create her own line. Upon returning from her trip, Buckley began to experiment and eventually developed the perfect design for a headband that would incorporate elements of both function and fashion. She began to sew Bondi Band headbands by hand, in her hometown of Lewiston, Maine in February 2005.
Bondi Band initially began with only headbands, but have since expanded to a full line of headwear, compression products, and accessories in comfortable, colorful options that will fit every lifestyle and personality for active women, men and children. Not only does Bondi Band offer functional unisex, high quality, American made products, but Bondi Band donates 10% of all profits to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts.
If you have been contemplating headbands, headwear, accessories, and/or compression for your runs and workouts, I would be the first to throw a Bondi Band at you. If you are already a fan…YAY!! If you have yet to try them…here’s your choice.
As a Brand Ambassador for Bondi Band, I am going to share with you my discount code to get you 10% off of your online order. Go to Bondi Band’s Web site, purchase and/or create your favorite Bondi Bands (yes, you can customize the products), and when you checkout, enter the code: CELIATHLETE
That magic code will knock 10% off your order. YAY!! We all love savings. And…that’s not all. While supplies last, Bondi Band is offering a Grab Bag, which gives you 10 items for $20. You can use my discount code on that too!
So…head over there and remember to use: CELIATHLETE when you check-out!!
Ah, it’s Sunday. A day to rest and relax right? RIGHT?!
HA…never!! Today, I’ve done countless loads of laundry, prepped and cooked all the meals for the coming week, took recycle to the store, took care of a cat, did some necessary shopping, mailed off a package, finished up (much-needed) grocery shopping, organized the pantry, and polished off a book. I’ve blogged on my race on Friday night, made up lunches/snacks for tomorrow, and have even changed sheets on the bed. And showered. Important.
This has been a chaotic and crazy week. I got back into town from a relaxing (ie: NON-RACE) weekend in Orlando, Florida. Sure, the Star Wars Half Marathon was running at Disney World that very weekend…but I was not quick enough on making a decision to run, and by the time I was certain I was going to be able to do it, registration had closed. Instead, the day before I headed out to get to Florida, I did my long run. On a Tuesday night. On tired legs. But it was done and I didn’t have to do it alone…or in Orlando, where I had no idea where I could safely and effectively go running. As it was, I found a park where I managed 5 miles, and I did 5 miles back and forth on this 0.20 mile boardwalk on Cocoa Beach while I was away. But that was it for the running. The rest of the time I was exploring…but we’ll get to that momentarily.
With a couple of days away from the office, I was overloaded with work, so I ended up doing something I hate doing. I brought work home and put in some time away from the office. It had to be done…or I’d still be buried. This made my week even more stressful because I was trying to fit in all my normal stuff while having to do some work at home. It meant…the normalcy took a lot longer to get around to. And grocery shopping never happened. So, my roommate and I were living out of the pantry/freezer/fridge for this week.
So…with all that being said…some good stuff has been going down these past two weeks…so let’s take a look at some of the highlights!
1. Universal Studios Florida
It’s Marvel Superheroes, it’s Harry Potter, it’s rides, rides, rides. And I had an absolute blast. I met Captain America (he told me I had beautiful green eyes!), which had to happen as he is the favorite superhero of my nephew, Chace. I flirted with the driver of the Knight Bus at Diagon Alley in Universal as well. SO MUCH FUN. That being said, I vastly prefer Disney to Universal, but it was actually nice to step away from the Disney monster and do something I’ve been wanting to do, but couldn’t pull myself away from Disney. HA! And thank goodness for my friend, Jenn, who was willing to go on the thrill rides with me. Cathy refuses. She’s a big baby. OH…and I bought a wand. I have my own Harry Potter type of wand. It’s Ivy…with a Unicorn Hair core. And I loved it because I was able to cast magical spells at both of the Harry Potter lands at each Universal Studios theme park in Florida. It takes so little to make me happy.
Eating out with me can be…difficult at times. Thank you Celiac disease and lactose intolerance. That being said, while I was in Orlando, thanks to my Find Me Gluten Free app, I found the most perfect place to dine. In fact, we (Jenn, Cathy & myself) ended up having dinner there three times. The place is called Toasted, and it specializes in Crafted Grilled Cheese & Burgers. And…they have gluten-free buns, bread, and veggie burgers. They also have vegan cheese. This…was my happy place. To top all of that off…they had gluten-free fries. And, let me tell you, the Truffle Oil & Rosemary fries were to die for. We learned, after our first visit, that one order of fries would do for the three of us. Amazing sandwiches. I had a different one each night…never got sick. Let’s hear it for gluten-free dining done right. If you find yourself in the Winter Park area of Orlando…go and check them out.
3. Gluten Free Snack Cakes
Okay…I admit it. I love my desserts. I have tried, for ages, to give them up. But the sweet tooth reigns supreme. For sure. And, after getting my roommate a little tipsy on her birthday, I took her grocery shopping. And bought a bunch of stuff I didn’t need but wanted to try. And, despite trying to be a little better about my choices…I discovered a new product from Schär‘s Sch’nacks! These delightful little treats are simply a gluten-free, unrolled version of a Swiss Roll. They are little single serve cakes that are filled with cream and dipped in German chocolate. And they are light, and amazing. I have to resist buying them too often…but a treat every now and again is always fine. There are 10 cakes per package…and I only have one after dinner each night. Seriously…a worthy investment for an every-now-and-again treat. Back to some fruits and vegan yogurts after this. And I’m back to cooking real food…and not just living out of the fridge/freezer/pantry…which is also a plus.
4. Road Bike Shoes
Today, I meandered over to Schwinn in Clarksville, Indiana, and purchased a pair of road bike shoes. Now that I have a road bike, I figured I needed to get the clip-in shoes so I could ride it. They are very nice at Schwinn and even discounted the price of the shoes and put the cleats in for me. YAY!! I hope to get fitted to my bike next weekend, time permitting! Crossing my fingers. Then, I get to practice clipping in and out…and probably taking a few spills during said process. It’s actually…kind of exciting. Not the falling part, but getting the necessary gear and stuff done to get out onto my bike.
5. Running my fastest mile at my favorite 5K
Tim, Ruth, Amber, Becca, Me, and Linda after the Pro.Active For Life 5K…all sporting our bling!
My Garmin says this is the fastest mile I have ever run!!
Friday was not only Earth Day, it was the running of the Pro.Active For Life 5K in Frankfort, Kentucky. I go to Frankfort quite often for the races, and while 5K races are one of my least favorite distances, this just happens to be my favorite 5K race. It’s not just the race itself, but the people. Frankfort, honestly, some of the best people in that running community. I can’t say it enough. Not only did I win my age division this year, but I pulled off a 6:53 mile. Shocking myself. Even more shocking…the entire run was pain-free. And…I was only 6 seconds off my PR (also set at this race). Stronger every day. Trying to be really smart when it comes to my training.
6. A long, solo, pain-free Saturday morning run
So, Friday night I churn out a speedy 5K (even if my finishing picture looks like I’m just cruising, LOL!), knowing that Saturday, I was on my own for my longest run since…forever. I am signed up for (although still not 100% sure I’ll be running) a marathon in June. Bib transfer can only happen through May 1, leaving this Saturday the only chance I had for attempting a long marathon-training type run. And, I had to do it solo, as everyone I know is either recovering from Boston, running Big Sur, running London, running Derby or running Flying Pig. So, they are either recovering, out of town, or tapering. So, Saturday morning, I laced up, still feeling good, and went out for 20 miles in my area. No crossing the river (it was Thunder Over Louisville day anyway…so this was probably better in the long run…ha…I made a punny). So, I just sort of went. I never pushed my pace…I ran comfortably and just sort of made the route up. The last 5 miles, however, I decided to make the toughest. I don’t know why. I’m sadistic like that. So I hit up the Fast Freddie route…which is HILLS FOR DAYS!…and came out of it better than I even expected. Once again…no pain. And 20 miles done. Alone. And way better than I dreamed. WITHOUT ANY PAIN! I spent the rest of the day out and about, doing some grocery shopping and regular shopping and eating good food for recovery and fuel. This…was the type of run I mentally needed. And while it does make me feel better, I still don’t know if I’ll run in June. I’m pondering for one more day before making that call.
7. Game Of Thrones
The new season of GoT starts tonight, and unlike last year, I’m set. HBO Now was downloaded this morning and I’m set to watch this season as it airs, instead of getting spoiled. I know I read the books, but the show has gone away from how the books actually worked out, so it’s nice that I won’t have to attempt (and fail) to avoid spoilers this time around. It’s the little things in life. SO…YAY!! It’s the little things in life…like Season 6 of Game of Thrones.
8. Caramelized Honey Latte at Starbucks
They keep selling out of it, but when I went to Florida this past week, I was introduced to Starbucks latest (and greatest) drink. It’s the Caramelized Honey Latte and it is AMAZING. It reminds me a lot of The Bee Sting, one of Ha Coffee’s signature drinks in Kauai (I miss Hawaii!). I get mine with coconut milk and it is…OMG…to die for. I had it hot and iced while in Florida. The Starbucks at Universal Studios City Walk sold out of them…and the one here in our local Target sold out too. I think this drink is quite popular. And it should be. It is made of super YUM!! If you haven’t tried it…RUN, do NOT WALK, to Starbucks and give it a try. You’ll thank me for it.
So, there are some of the highlights these past couple of weeks. Here’s to hoping for a bit more relaxed and easier week ahead. And I hope everyone had a great week and enjoyed a beautiful weekend. And for anyone racing this coming weekend…good luck!!
Anyone else out there have to contend with stupid strong winds this week? I swear, it was strong winds all week. You know…those types of winds that, when you head out for a run, you are running into the wind…and when you turn around to come back…you are still running into the wind.
That being said, the cold temperatures have really wreaked havoc on my body. At least, I hope it’s the cold weather…hard to say when spring weather has all but disappeared…despite being mid-April-ish! UGH!
But that being said, there has been some amazing stuff going on this week for me too. Sometimes it might seem mundane, but, you know…simple things make me happy, and there is nothing wrong with that.
1. My new favorite piece of kitchen gear
This…is a cutting board. This is a cutting board made by my super speedy, awesome, super-talented friend and running buddy, Dennis!! How amazing is this?! I love it. I tried it out all this week, and it seriously makes me happy just to chop up my vegetables and fruits and tofu…and whatever else needed a happy bit of chopping.
Dennis, you’re super talented and I thank you so much for this gift. Seriously, my favorite thing in the kitchen.
2. Game of Thrones
Okay, so, I don’t have cable. Nor do I have anything Apple that I could get HBO Go or whatever it was so I could watch Game of Thrones Season 5 while it was airing. This meant, I was dodging spoilers (and still am whenever an actor from the show starts trending). But, I purchased the Blu-Rays the other day, and have dived headlong into the season. I’ve gotten through half of the season so far and am eager to wrap it up. And then I need to figure out how to watch Season 6 as it airs…if possible. Shhh…no spoilers!
3. Cupcake of the Week
I have never been a cupcake person, but lately, Annie May’s Sweet Cafe, has been putting out a new weekly special…CUPCAKE OF THE WEEK! And they always just sound so amazing. I think I’ve only missed out on 2 of the weeks (once because I got a cookie, and the other because they were sold out). But it has been my favorite thing to check out when I go in for Soft Pretzel Wednesday. It’s usually the dessert I split with my roomie that night. A nice mid-week treat for sure. Anyway, some of the standouts have been the “Unicorn Cupcake,” the “Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake” and the “Hot Fudge Sunday Cupcake.” I missed the Cookie Dough one so maybe they’ll bring that one back sometime. All allergen-free…and all have been totally yummy!!
4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Are you aware that the new Star Wars came out on Blu-Ray and DVD this week? I got the special edition at Walmart…because it had BB-8 on the cover. Dammit, I’m such a BB-8 fangirl. Regardless, I LOVED this movie. And I love the new characters. And I really love BB-8. So, yeah, I braved Walmart and bought the Blu-Ray this past week. I hear my Sphero BB-8 droid will react to the movie if I have him turned on and watching it when I am. So, yeah…that’s happening.
5. PB&J Breakfast Bowls
Want to know what my latest obsession is? Parfait bowls. Now, I’m not new to breakfast parfaits, but this is a brand new, and SUPER good way to eat them. And I have the Chobani Cafe in SoHo, NYC, to thank for it. I eat this every morning after the gym. And this coming week, with me heading out of town, this is breakfast all week. Super easy to make:
1 cup yogurt (vegan, Greek, etc.)
1/4 cup grapes, sliced
2 tablespoons natural grape jelly
2 tablespoons peanut butter (I use NuttZo!!) #NuttZoAmbassador #NuttZoFanatic #NuttZoLove #NuttZo
1 tablespoon peanuts
Place yogurt in a bowl. Scatter grapes over yogurt. Place the grape jelly in the center. Place the peanut butter around the edge of the bowl. Top off with nuts. Enjoy!
I have done variations on this, using orange marmalade and either Smudge, Nutella, or the NuttZo chocolate versions. Also strawberry with the chocolate Smudge, Nutella, or NuttZo is also delicious. Want a healthy but delicious breakfast? Make this. You’ll thank me for it!
6. I HAVE A ROAD BIKE!!
It finally happened. After years of talking about it. And over a year of trying to get one for myself, but always having medical bills (hello, MRIs) to cover instead…the perfect bike finally came into my life. Someone was selling their road bike that they hardly rode for a really good price. Way less than what the bike was originally purchased for. It had been sitting in her storage room. It came with all the gadgets and gizmos. And it is BB-8 colors, so it was truly meant to be. I’m taking it to get fitted properly for me so I don’t do any hip damage or get injured…and then…I’m road ready. FINALLY!! I love this bike. And, yes, I did name it BB-8.
How was your week? Has the wind in your area been crazy-strong and gusty too? What fun and exciting things do you have coming up? Buy anything fun this week?
My life is a roller coaster these days. Good days. Bad days. Highs and lows. There are days I feel unstoppable and days that stop me cold. There are days where I feel on top of the world, and days where the tears just won’t stop.
There are pain-free days…and days where it hurts just getting out of bed.
This is my life…and has been since February 16, 2015.
Almost a year.
Still not better. Still fighting. Still not where I imagined I’d be.
I’m going to be honest, I came out of the weekend, despite the slip and fall on ice, feeling good. My pain levels were down. I was moving without problems. And then…Tuesday hill repeats. UGH! JUST UGH!! I did fine, but when I stop that’s when the problems start. And despite a round of stretches my physical therapist assigned me, I was still feeling it yesterday and this morning when I worked in my training runs.
All that being said, I’ve powered through a lot, and despite my demanding work/training/recovery schedule…I’ve done some pretty amazing things so far this week. I thought I’d share!
1. THEMED SPIN CLASSES
Rocking perfect tights for a disco-themed spin class, yes?
My amazing and inspiring friend, Deana, is a very fun spin instructor. It’s always a mixed bag with her. And when you attend one of her classes, you are going to walk out of there a sweaty mess. She’s in training for her first Half Ironman, and we’re in training with her, in a way. At least on the stationary bike in the safety of the walls of the YMCA. HA!
Anyway, this week, Deana has had themed spin classes. And I am loving it. Monday morning, my 5:30 a.m. class was treated to Spinning to the ’90s. All the music was songs straight out of the 1990s…and I knew and even sang along with every single one of them. Not loudly, because, I wouldn’t put anyone through the torture of hearing me sing, but it really takes your mind off of that hill climb and definitely brought a lot of hoots and hollers from the class. And Friday morning, we’re getting a disco ball and having our own Disco Inferno all up in the spin room. And I am already working on what I intend to wear for said Disco day. There might even be a lava lamp. Regardless, I’ll be ready to work hard to the tune of the best disco songs.
Themed spin classes…who knew?!
2. HILL REPEATS
Love them or hate them…hill repeats are real. In fact, hill repeats are what my physical therapist currently wants me doing. So, every Tuesday, I’m out at either Cherokee Park or Iroquois Park here in Louisville…running me some major hill repeats. The past two weeks, I’ve knocked out 4 miles of hill repeats each Tuesday night. 4 freakin’ miles. To this point, that is the furthest I have run since…the stress fracture in my leg back in August.
I won’t lie…a little part of me panics every time I go out there for these. Hills do make you a stronger runner…but they hurt. In my case, they really hurt. But, I feel strong while doing them, and after some plyometric exercises and stretches…and a little TLC from my foam roller…I’m usually back in the game the next day. So yeah…hills. YAY!
I don’t worry about my time or how long I’m out there or even my speed. What’s important to me is that I am actually out and running again. Not completely pain-free…but being out there is SO much better than where I have been. I’ll take every chance I can get to attempt to get stronger again.
3. CHILI COOK OFF
So, yesterday was the annual chili cook off at my office. Now, I have never actually submitted a chili to this cook off because, prior to this year, the co-owner (who has since retired) used to always tell me not to bother with bringing in a vegetarian chili, since his wife was making one. I just never argued the fact. With this year being wide open, I got a little carried away and ended up making 2 chilies and 1 batch of my gluten free corn spoon bread recipe that I’ve killed every time I’ve made it. Meaning, it’s extremely awesome. When it comes to cooking, especially in a quasi-competitive manner, I can be pretty indecisive on what chili to make. So, I did what any chef would do…
…I made both.
Pizza Chili (which I figured would be my star) and Hawaiian Chili.
I realized I was splitting my odds at winning, but…I love both of these chilies and they were both very different. VERY different. Even from the other chilies (there were 7 entries…2 of which were mine) that were entered into the annual cook off.
And, shocking me (and probably the rest of the office who doesn’t always want to venture into my plant-based, gluten-free goodies)…I won. With…Hawaiian Chili. So not the chili that I expected to win. I was seriously surprised. Of the two I brought in, I thought Pizza Chili would be the more popular one. And it was a very near thing with the runner-up, a Mexican Beer Chili. The winning chili is pictured above with the corn spoon bread.
I am so happy. This is the first time a vegan/vegetarian chili has won. And it’s the first time I have won anything at work. So…YAY!!
I’ve had many requests for this recipe, so I will leave it here. Do try it. It’s amazing.
Recipe: Hawaiian Chili Makes 4 very large servings
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic clove, minced
2 bell pepper, seeded & diced
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
2 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups pineapple, diced
2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
Crackers (optional…to serve on the side)
Line a large pot with vegetable broth.
Sauté onions, garlic, and bell pepper until onions are translucent and bell peppers are soft.
Add spices, stir to coat vegetables.
Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
Serve with crackers
Seriously…make this stuff.
If you live in the area…come to tomorrow’s 5:30 a.m. spin class at the YMCA of Southern Indiana in New Albany and let Deana bring the funk and disco back…disco ball included.
Life has been a roller coaster ride for me this year, unfortunately with more downs than ups. And it’s been an emotional, physical, and mental ride for me.
If you’ve been following along, this year started with a fantastic marathon finish in the (slightly long) Charleston Marathon in Charleston, South Carolina. I thought I was gearing up for a great year of running…but then…while not even doing any running, but in my cross training, something went wrong.
My hip labrum tore. A small tear…but it took a little bit of time to get around to the actual diagnosis. There were other problems with my body…like a tight lower back that was practically immobile…but the hip was the kicker. I had an MRI the week I was heading to the Boston Marathon…with no running since February when this all happened. No joke. And just days before, the diagnosis of the tear. And then the Cortisone shot…and a trip to Boston to make some sort of attempt on the marathon I worked my ass off to qualify for. Had it been any other marathon, I would have skipped it. But it was Boston…I earned this. Needless to say…the weather was cold, rainy, windy and just MEH. The hip felt good at the start, but at Mile 6, it all started to fall apart. That left 20 miles of misery that I hobbled through, mostly walking, always crying, and just falling apart. Boston broke my already fractured mindset, confidence, and my heart.
I returned home and immediately began an new physical therapy session. Unfortunately, all the PT appointments I had prior to the hip labrum tear used up most of what my insurance would allow. I had seven appointments with the new facility…and they went by way too fast. But, at least we could target the problem properly this time. And, slowly, I felt like things were getting better. I could move a bit more. Things didn’t suck as bad. And soon, I was back to (slowly) running. First on the treadmill for 5 minutes…then outside for 5 minutes…then 10…then 15…then 20…then 3 miles…then 5 miles. Soon I was doing 5 miles 3 times a week. My coach and I decided 3 days a week would be torture for me as a runner used to running 5-6 times a week, but would be best for my body. I was also slowing down my training runs. Not going over 9:00/mile. It happened a few times, but not intentionally. My running was uncomfortable…but I could manage and not be laid up afterwards.
I ran my first 5K race back from the hip injury in August…the Kicking Butt 5K to raise money for colon cancer research. It was not anywhere near my fastest 5K, but it was on hills, it was hard, and I felt good the entire way. I came in 4th in my age division…a bit of a disappointment, but good for such a long time away from the sport. I ran a 16 miler the following weekend in preparation for an upcoming marathon in Hawaii a week afterwards.
But then…I fractured my leg. Stress fracture. Just above the ankle. The doctor said it was probably brought on by overcompensating on my left leg for my right hip. UGH! I was put in a boot, told I couldn’t run for 6-8 weeks while in it…and to have fun in Hawaii.
I behaved. I never ran once while stuck in the boot. I did go to Hawaii…and missed the marathon. I struggled through 8 weeks of being stuck on weight machines and in the pool at the gym. I discovered the sit-down elliptical, so that I could feel like I was getting my sweat on while working those running muscles in the process. And then…the boot came off. October 21, 2015…I had full use of both of my legs again.
I waited until November 1 to go on my first run. I was out of town, but my friend lives in a very flat neighborhood. I took it slow and steady, for just 2 miles. And when I stopped and went inside, the hip flaired up. It was NOT happy. And for the rest of that day, I hobbled and limped and worried now over my hip…and the leg because I could tell I was overcompensating in just my walking stride. I stretched. I rolled. And the next day I went to my spin class…and things started to feel better. Then, Tuesday, I figured I would do the second (of three) runs of the week…at night. Two miles. In my neighborhood. Small hills were involved. Nothing big. I got home, already feeling a bit of a twinge in my hip. And when I stopped, the same thing that happened in Columbus, Ohio, happened here. And my hip has been hurting the rest of the week since.
It is so frustrating. Aggravating. Heartbreaking. My confidence in myself, my abilities, my body, and my potential is shot. Honestly, I just feel like I get one problem fixed and another one arises or comes back. And it has left me in tears more times than I care to admit this past week. I have been continuing some non-impact activities…including my spin classes…but I’ve stopped running. I called my doctor’s office on Wednesday, even when my roommate did her usual thing that makes me feel stupid for wanting to see someone about a problem when it comes to my body and running, and managed to snag an appointment for the following Wednesday. One week.
And now, the ankle is fine…but sometimes I get a bit of twinge and I panic. I’m gun-shy now when it comes to any ache and pain. The hip has been bad since Tuesday night. And I am just trying to tell myself that one day I’ll wake up and not be in pain. Because I have hurt in some way, shape or form since early February. I have missed out on so many races I signed up for, and have been angry at myself over the money that I have lost. Money I didn’t really have to waste.
Comebacks are hard. Comebacks mean struggles. I’ve been struggling for almost a year now. And I’m tired of struggling. I’m tired of working my way back only to be thrown back down and having to start over.
But the thing is…I don’t give up. And I hope that on Wednesday we take some better steps toward getting me back to where I used to be. My run on Tuesday is definitely showing a problem…my cadence is way down from where it usually is when I run. I’m just tired of hurting, failing, and having to make these comebacks.
Think of me as Wednesday comes around…and hope that I finally get some sort of a solution. I miss running. And right now, all I want to do is get out there and run freely. Run like the wind. Feel like I’m flying. But right now I can’t.
You plague me. You discourage me. You dishearten me. And you cause me pain.
BUT…I am on the verge of feeling better. I’m doing so much cross-training these days to keep any unnecessary pressure off my tendon. So, spinning has been a lot of fun to get into. And it is teaching me to dig deep when I think I’m spent. It makes the stationary bike (something I loathe) fun and enjoyable. And the music is amazing. I’ve been swimming more too. Which was something I have been wanting to do more of anyway. So, this gave me a push to get into the pool and work on that stroke. I need to keep this trend up. Loving that water…once I get acclimated to it. And…strength training. I had started doing it before, then stopped, but I’m back to it. And have a great 30 minute workout that I do with weights and other workout equipment that is helping me build a stronger core.
All that being said…it’s been over 2 weeks since I last ran. And the ankle/Achilles is feeling much better. Some tightness still, but nothing debilitating. So…on this frigid morning, I met up with my running group and decided to test it out. Most of the runners were aiming for 8 miles or more. I didn’t want to push it, and thankfully my friends Harry and Natalie were more than happy to do an easier and more deliberate 5 miles. The cold weather is not helping my tendon feel any better. Everything is just tight. UGH! Cold weather and I do not get along. It slows me down…always. I run so much better in the heat. Let me sweat it out!
It was a good run this morning. I had a great time with these two while we were running. And after a mile or so, I forgot about how cold it was…up until we hit some pretty wicked headwinds. It didn’t matter. We were just enjoying the run. And it felt so good to get back out there and hit the pavement.
All that being said…my ankle/Achilles twinged at me a couple times, but it didn’t flat-out hurt. So, that is a good sign. I have been icing it on and off today…which is helping and I’m about to go do some stretches and get all the kinks worked out.
But…wow…I totally needed that run today. More than I even knew!
That’s all I’ve been feeling toward myself these days. While so many of my running friends are posting better times and new PRs…I feel like I’m in a slump. I feel like…things are just…getting worse for me. And all of this leads to a lot of self doubt and a lot of low self-esteem. Yes…I am so very proud of my friends for their accomplishments. But it’s only natural for me to look at what they are managing and wonder…why am I slowing down? Why is the weight piling on? Why…just why?
I try to keep my thoughts positive, but when you feel like your fitness is suffering…well…it’s hard to keep that good attitude.
Let’s start with the first thing. I’ve put on about 10 pounds since I ran the Chicago Marathon. I haven’t changed my eating routines. I’m not loading up on junk food. I’m still eating clean. I still treat myself. But…the weight just won’t come off. In fact, I just seem to add to it. And that just sucks…mightily. When you no longer feel as light as a feather…you don’t feel like you’re running as fast or capable of running as fast as you did when you were at your prime fitness. This is me. And it is really messing with my mind. I hear about all my friends losing weight, dieting, all this stuff. I don’t diet…I just eat clean and I workout. And somehow this has brought on weight. I don’t eat a lot of crap. Yes…I treat myself to ice cream on the weekend…but I’ve always done that. Even back during my marathon training. UGH! The biggest insult happened this past weekend when I went to the pool to swim some laps…and my bathing suit was tight. Uncomfortably…not fitting me right…tight.
Now, allow me to follow this paragraph up with the fact that I am not working out to lose weight. I don’t run to lose weight. Nor do I run so I can eat a lot of crap and not feel guilty about it. I run and I go to the gym because I love how it makes me feel. I don’t need to lose weight. BUT…I don’t want to gain it either. And despite my workouts and my runs…that scale keeps creeping up…and with it…my self-doubt.
It sucks having low self-esteem!
Achilles tendonitis. Brought on from…ironically…avoiding the treadmill and going out to run on those icy and snowy days. Landing on uneven icy and snow altered my gait…and with it…put some strain and stress on my Achilles. What has this brought on? Slower runs. No long runs. And a lot of very mixed emotions from me. I hate cutting my mileage. If there is one run I look forward to every week it’s my long run. I love going long. I love the distance. I don’t care how fast I run or how slow…I just want to get that distance. I love the time with others…or the time alone. I love talking or sometimes just letting my thoughts take over. This past weekend I was supposed to run 2 long runs…but…I ran a total of 4 miles. FOUR MILES!! And not even at speed. I can’t. Not with this ankle/Achilles issue. It is so aggravating. I can still run…but the intensity isn’t there. The distance is definitely not happening. And it just tears me up inside. I know it’s for the best…not to put added strain/stress on the problem area…but…I get so cranky when my runs get messed with. And this has definitely left me feeling insignificant. Especially when the miles are turned down and so is the speed. I feel like I should be turning up the intensity if the mileage is not there…but I can’t even do that. And it’s beyond bumming me out. It’s making me second guess everything. And then I read about everyone else who is running long, setting new PRs, and just getting so much stronger and faster…and here I am…slowing down…feeling like I’m reverting back…feeling…SO DAMN SLOW!! IT SUCKS!!
I know it’s for the best, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck.
What I have been doing is taking my runs inside…to the dreadmill…and running at a very deliberate, easy pace. The soft belt is a lot kinder to my joints than the hard pavement right now. Oh…and I’ve now officially taken two spinning classes (and totally intend to keep going to them!!) and have added more weights for some strength training. I’ve only learned the machines…so I haven’t officially added that back in. I’m going to get back into the habit of my circuit training. I fell off it when my roommate went into the hospital. Then it was too close to my marathon to really want to hop back in. After that…probably sheer lack of motivation…and the fact that the roomie can’t turn it up and dial it in like I can while on her current meds. BUT…that changes when I get back from my Christmas vacation. Dialing back into those weights, the core, the strength training. Hopefully the ankle/Achilles will be further on the mend. I also went swimming on Sunday. Yep. Swimming for a whole 45 minutes. I love to swim, and definitely should incorporate it more. Or else I’ll never get any better. Not that I’m a horrible swimmer, I’m just not very fast. I don’t have that strength behind it yet. But that comes with time and training. Time to just hop in and DO IT!
I have a difficult time wrapping my head around slower running times. I’m built for distance…that much I know. But I also like to prove that I am swift. I’m speedy. Sometimes I feel that way. But ever since the cold weather hit, my times have been so much slower than what I could master in the heat of summer. I run better in heat than cold. Cold burns my lungs, makes it hard to breathe, therefore…I never quite find my rhythm. Some people run better and faster in colder temperatures. I am not one of those people. Slowing down scares me. I am not ready to slow down. I want to find that strength to push a little harder, fight to get a little faster, and outrun all my doubts and limits. And I have yet to do just that. I feel like I’m failing…
Cold weather creeps in and so does my self-doubt. I am my own worst critic and my harshest competition. I don’t feel like I’m running up to par and that gets stuck in my head. I get aggravated when I fail to nail a time on a distance that felt so easy during the warmer days. I know it’s natural. I know it’s normal. But I’m competitive…and when I feel like I’m sliding backwards instead of moving ahead…I get into this tug-of-war with myself and my emotions…my expectations…
And yeah…that sucks too.
My competition is not my friends I run with…nor is it those who are out there making progress. My competition is myself. I look in the mirror…and those extra pounds, those slower times, the lack of long runs, the self-doubt…that is my competition. And until I get get over this hump…it’s the fight of my life right now. Because until I believe that I can run faster in the cold, that my ankle won’t hurt, that my body isn’t failing me or trying to slow me down…then I’m not making progress. And I won’t. Words have power…even the unspoken ones inside my head.
Time to find my strong…again.
It’s a battle I’m willing to fight. I just have to be smart about it. My competition…is all in my head…and it’s time to show it who is boss.
I can now officially call myself a triathlete. For real. No indoor triathlon this time. Nope. The triathlon that I participated in two weekends ago was an official Super Sprint Triathlon, which did not happen indoors on gym equipment this time. If you recall, my last triathlon was an Indoor Triathlon, and I wasn’t too keen on it. Besides, it wasn’t a true triathlon. No measured distance to run or pedal, just set times on a treadmill and stationary bike. Then a certain time in the pool. Done.
NOT. THIS. TIME.
And I couldn’t have been happier about it either.
Granted, when I signed up for this, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I’m just going to be honest. I am a good swimmer, but I’m not a fast swimmer. I can bike, but I’ve never done so in competition form. And the weather had been so cold leading into this race, that the only practice I was getting on the bike was on the stationary bike at the gym. Definitely not the same as getting out onto the road and tackling some real hills. But, you make do with what you’ve got, yes?
As a runner, I knew I would have that part down. It was the bike and swim that were making me nervous. As I got on the stationary bike on every gym day leading up to the triathlon, I was feeling a bit better about the bike portion…but that swim portion still seemed a bit daunting. Granted, it was a simple 300 meters in the pool, but that was six laps (down and back) in each lane of the pool at the YMCA. I got in one morning of swimming in the pool prior to this event…and it took me 20 minutes to do the required 6 down and back laps. I was not feeling confident at all about that part of this triathlon.
Running is my passion. I have yet to find that same passion in any other sport. I run a lot, I run often, I run without forcing myself to do so. It’s just something I love to do. Early, late, it doesn’t matter. I’ll lace up those shoes and just go, go, go whenever I want. I run slow, I run fast, I run long. I run…pretty much every day. At most 6 out of 7 days a week…runs of varying lengths. But, I know that cross training is also important to building up better skills as a runner. A triathlon is a great way to get a sample of cross training with two very different sports from running – biking and swimming. Throwing in two consecutive and challenging sports with a run was a good introduction to other options out there, that’s for sure.
A Super Sprint Triathlon is a great introduction to triathlons. I’m so glad I did it, although I had a nervous respect for what I was getting myself into. I didn’t mention it to anyone because I wasn’t completely sure I could do it. Or do it well. And that just means…to my own high standards I place on myself when I compete.
A Super Sprint Triathlon consists of an 8 mile bike, a 2 mile run, and a 300 meter swim.
Small…but daunting to someone who really just runs. I think I took it on like a champ though.
The day before the triathlon, I had gone out for a quick 5 mile run, and then later met up with my friend Nikky for her last long run (10 miles) to pace her as she prepped for her mini marathon the following Saturday. So, I was going into this with some tired legs as it was. But…I’ve never really let that slow me down (much) when it comes to races. What I didn’t know was what to expect when the triathlon kicked off. I was…really clueless going in. That was evident by the fact that I was going to be doing the biking portion of the race on a mountain bike…not a road bike. Even better…the bike didn’t quite fit into the trunk of my Toyota Corolla, despite lowering the seats. So, much of the drive to the YMCA was cautious, hoping that the trunk didn’t pop open in the process as it couldn’t be shut.
I also had to think about what I was going to wear. It was required that all participants wear their bathing suits under their clothes for the triathlon. I had to do that with the indoor triathlon I did last March, so that wasn’t an issue. The issue was…it was flippin’ cold that morning. For real. Like 40 degrees cold. So, I had some decisions to make when it came to wardrobe. When I got up that morning, the bathing suit went on…because I knew that much was a given. I finally decided to just brave it and wear the swim suit bottoms as my shorts throughout the entire triathlon. I put on some compression socks and my running shoes. My original thought was to just throw on arm warmers and do the entire thing in my bathing suit, but the weather deterred me from that line of thinking. I ended up throwing on my Earth Fare Athlete Ambassador shirt with the arm warmers and calling it done. One BondiBand later and one ponytail (no pigtails as I had to wear a helmet for the bike portion) later, I was ready to get to the Floyd County YMCA (also known as…my gym).
So, with my bike wedged into my little Toyota Corolla, my roommate dropped me off with my bike and then headed back to the apartment as her mom was coming over. She was going to cheer me on too and then we were all heading out for her belated birthday lunch at North End Café in Louisville, Kentucky. So…I knew a delicious gluten-free pancake was in my future…I just had to get through the triathlon first. As she drove off, I started to walk my bike toward the YMCA, and was told by a fellow triathlete that I might as well just take it up and over the flood wall and get it racked before checking in. I glanced over a the stairs leading up and over the train tracks, then the flood wall, and thanked him. So, I rolled my bike that way, then picked it up and carried it all the way up the steps, resting at the top, before carrying it down the steps toward the amphitheater, and over to the bike racks. As mine was a mountain bike, among a sea of racing road bikes), I didn’t hang mine up by the seat. I just kicked it into place with the kickstand and left it there while I hauled myself back up the steps, over the flood wall, and back toward the YMCA to get checked in. This involved getting my t-shirt, my race number, my timing chip (which fit around my ankle), and had to strip out of my hoodie, roll down my arm warmers, and roll up my sleeves to get the required triathlete bib number scrawled on my upper right in Sharpie marker. I felt pretty official after that.
Then it was the waiting game. I was waiting on Cathy to return with her mom. I needed to eat my pre-race fuel of a banana in enough time to let it digest. When she did arrive…she had forgotten the banana. I was afraid no fuel since my cereal at breakfast and my Lärabar I ate with it would mean I would be starving during the triathlon. A hungry athlete is an unhappy athlete. Trust me. So, she ditched her belongings and took off to the local gas station, knowing they usually have some bananas in a basket. She succeeded, and returned, and I devoured the banana on the walk toward the bike rack area. We had about 30 minutes to the start of the triathlon and a mandatory meeting in the bike area was about to start.
The mandatory meeting basically went over the course and how the triathlon would work. They told us where we would be biking, and how many loops we’d have to do for the required miles. They told us about transitioning from bike to running, and where we needed to run, turn around, and head up the hill, down some stairs (YIKES) and into the back of the YMCA to transition to the swim. Then…the dreaded swim would take place. They also went on to say that our participation in the event that morning was sending a message to people like the Boston Marathon bombers that we, as athletes, would not be bullied. It was a touching speech and I nearly cried. And then, we were told to get our bikes, put the more experienced up front, and get ready to start.
I decided to follow instructions and lined up with my bike toward the back. After all, the fewer people passing me meant the better I would feel about myself, right? Except…this was a loop, so those who started ahead of me were going to whip by me regardless. Ah well…being that I don’t bike much outside (this needs to change!), I wasn’t sure what to expect. Nor was I completely familiar with my bike…especially on really steep hills and the like, which I didn’t know I’d have to tackle until I was peddling up one. The bikers were sent off one at a time. And after about 10 minutes, it was my turn at the starting line. I was told to go whenever I was ready. Putting my feet on the pedals…I was off.
8 Mile Bike Time: 34:21
Biking 8 miles on a stationary bike, even with varying resistances, didn’t come close to preparing me for the bike portion of the triathlon. I started, as instructed, with my bike in the lowest gear, which would ensure a quick start. That was pretty much all I had right at the start. From there it was a matter of learning when I needed to be in a higher gear, when I needed to shift back down to an easier one, navigating pot holes, standing up so my bootie didn’t get bruised as I cruised over a makeshift bridge that covered a large hole in the course. The bike was HARD!
No joke. I thought, when I signed up, that because I could manage higher resistance on the stationary bike going 8 miles in 25 minutes would be simple. HAHAHA!! WRONG. I didn’t account for fatigue…or hills…or just…not knowing what I was doing. It’s not as easy as jumping on a bike and peddling. You have to put a lot of work into your legs to get that bike going and up to speed. And when I hit that steep incline the first time, I faltered more than a little. I slowed to a crawl. But I got up it…and learned a few lessons about my bike in the process.
First of all, my friend Will, who was also doing this (but has done a triathlon before) had those clip-in shoes for his pedals, which he said really do make all the difference. I sort of laughed it on, but my feet were sliding off my pedals at times. I could now see his point. I envied everyone who had those shoes for their bikes. They would definitely have an easier time. Secondly, I now knew that higher gears worked better on flat surfaces, and shifting to an easier gear for hills was ideal. On my second loop of the course, I was starting to get this down. And by the third and final loop, while my legs were screaming at me because they were tired of peddling the heavy mountain bike up the hill, I did better this time. And before I knew it, I was peddling into the transition area, hopping off my bike, and running it across the line to stop my timing chip. This gave me time to rack my bike and start to prep for the run.
2 Mile Run Time:15:52
No one told me how much my quads would hurt as I transitioned from biking to running. It took a moment for me to convince them that they needed to move. And this was the part of the race I felt most confident in. Here I was, feeling like a complete rookie because now my legs were hurting from pushing it on the bike. But, I finally got moving and managed to shake it all out the more I ran. I had walked originally toward the starting line, but Cathy began screaming at me to move it…so I jogged, hit the starting line, and took off.
I immediately passed the person who started running a few moments ahead of me. I knew that this was my portion and that I could do this well. I had to look beyond the pain and fatigue in my legs and push…dig deep…find my strong…and conquer the run. I also knew that at the very end of the run was a hill that would take us up to the flood wall. So, I was mentally preparing for that too. The rest of the run was flat, although pock marked with pot holes. I was just really careful where I planted my feet and kept on moving. I passed more people. I saw Will heading the other way. He waved at me. And then…I found the turn around point, made my turn and headed back toward the amphitheater. I passed Will. I headed up the hill…and I did so with some actual speed. My legs were feeling good. I was comfortable. I was running. I was doing my thing.
UGH. Those brought my stride to a stop as running down them was not safe. I tried…and decided it was not a good idea. So, I walked them…quickly…and then picked up the run at the bottom, where I followed the path marked by orange cones toward the back of the YMCA. I passed over the mat that would stop the timing and began the swim transition. This was the part I wasn’t looking forward to doing.
300 Yard Swim Time:8:44
How I managed to swim 300 yards in under 9 minutes is still a mystery to me, as it took me 20 minutes when I practiced it the week before. Go figure. I’m still perplexed and slightly awed by my finish time for the swim. Going into this, I knew my legs would be tired, I would be tired, and it was my weakest link in the triathlon as it was. But, when I sign up for something…I get it done. Even if I do it slowly.
The transition from running to swimming took me 4 minutes to accomplish. Why? Well…I had to peel off my shirt and arm warmers, get rid of my Garmin and Nike Fuel Band. Then I had to take off my shoes, and strip out of the compression socks. Compression socks, if they are doing their job properly, are not easy to just peel off and go. I had to fight a little with them, but I finally managed to get them off so I could make my way over to the pool. I stepped across the start line, lowered myself into the water, and took off.
I did the crawl stroke for the first few lanes, but decided, as I slowed down and struggled, that the backstroke was going to be necessary if I was going to get through this. I felt like such a newbie, heading down the lane in a full on backstroke, then coming back in the crawl stroke. But, you do what you have to do to finish as best you can, right? I kicked, I flailed my hands and arms, I ripped through the water, up and down each lane, until I made it to the final lane. I knew I was almost there, and all my energy was fading fast. But I was so close now. I backstroked down, flipped over, and made my final swim back in to hoist myself out of the water and get across the finish line, stopping my chip time.
I’m not going to lie…this was difficult for me. The entire experience, from the weather, to the transitions, to the three sports involved all challenged me in different ways. They challenged my body. They made me work hard, push hard, and made me understand that proper training is important.
That being said, my overall finish time was 1:04:03. I was 81/128 overall. Not bad for a first triathlon. I finished 2/5 in my age division. As for the separate events, I as far as age division went, I was 3/5 on the bike portion; 1/5 on the run portion; and I was 4/5 in the swim portion. About what I expected. I didn’t come in last in my age division on anything…but if I had, I figured it would have been the swim. I was close. LOL!
Would I do another triathlon? Maybe a longer one? Maybe another Super Sprint? Sure. I’d love to. I actually had a really good time, despite the aches and pains I put my body through on the bike and swim. It was a really good time. And the YMCA did a fantastic job with enthusiastic volunteers and organization. This was a great way to be introduced to the endurance events of triathlons. And if I can ever afford a road bike, I’d like to pursue them further. But I will never again participate on a heavy mountain bike. Or, if I must, I’ll at least get out on the roads with it more this spring and fall and get to the gear shirts and using it on hills and flat terrain. If nothing else, the cross training will only help me improve as a runner, right?
As for swimming, I’m vowing now to be better about hitting the pool at the gym. Weekends, especially Sunday mornings, might be dedicated to that. In order to get better, I have to get stronger. And in order to do that, I have to practice, practice, practice.