Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Gift of Mediocrity

I recently read something that changed my perspective on my below average athletic ability.   (I know this is the second post in a row inspired by another blogger.  What can I say, I am easily influenced?)  I follow a blog called Run Faster Mommy, and her most recent post was about the Spartan Race.  You know, one of those races where you leap over fire and crawl through mud all while being attacked by huge dudes with foam sticks.  And I was really inspired by her post. . .but not to sign up for this kind of race.  Are you crazy?  Any race where I might have to "stop, drop, and roll" is out!  I was inspired by her honesty about not wanting to participate in something where she might not excel.  I thought it was a great post and I also realized what a completely foreign concept that was to me.  I never worry about winning. . .because it is pretty much a given that I will not.

You see, I am mediocre (at best) at almost everything.  I am not saying this to be self deprecating.  I am not fishing for compliments.  I am just very aware of my status in this world.  I don't have very many first place trophies or blue ribbons around my house.  I have a lot of "participant" and "finisher" paraphernalia, but winner?  No.

Do I feel bad about my lot in life??  Not really.  You see at a very young age I made peace with the fact that I was not going to be number one.  I noticed that I was not the smartest (no spelling bee wins for this chick). I was not the funniest or the coolest.  Prettiest?  Let me put it to you this way, I babysat on Prom night (ok, you can feel a little bad for me about that one).  And I was by far not the most athletic.  When you are the chubby, uncoordinated girl you don't get picked first for dodge ball. . .ever.  But all you superstars out there should not feel bad for me.  I now realize my mediocrity gave me a license to be less afraid of failure because failure was something I was quite comfortable with.  It was not a disgracefully event but an opportunity to learn and get better.   

This does not mean I don't try or that I am not competitive. No, quite the opposite.  It is just my definition of success is not first (or second or third) place. . .it is completion.  I work hard and I do the best that I can do, and then I try to do better the next time.  If I were used to winning, I think I would want to keep winning.  But since I suck I just go out there and try to suck less every time.

 A lot of people seem shocked when they find out I do triathlons and races.  They have the perfect, winning, athlete in mind and I don't quite fit that image.  I've even heard, "Wow I'd never guess you were a runner."  They haven't learned the secret yet.  Us average folks can get out there too. . .we just have to embrace our mediocrity (because Lord knows if I waited to be perfect to join in I'd miss out on all the fun)!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Adding to Subtract

My last post was all about getting back on track after vacation.  Whenever we start or renew our dedication to health and fitness, I think the general tendency is to start down deprivation highway.  In fact, I think that is the basis of almost every diet book around.  "Carbs are the devil!"  "Avoid Fat!"  "Only eat orange food!"  And we all know what happens.  The only thing you want to eat is the thing you are not allowed to eat (This doesn't not work with 4 years old though.  I tried it.  It failed.  The zucchini was left untouched even though he was "forbidden" to eat it.)  Pretty soon you are wolfing down that insanely good smelling loaf of French bread that has been taunting you in the grocery store.  You are devouring Ben and Jerry's or taking a magic marker to a donut to so it will "comply" to some crazy diet rule.  Deprivation messes with your head and it is the recipe for disaster.

So what are you suppose to do then?  If deprivation doesn't work, what does work??  Well, I recently read a blog post by TriMarni that I really loved.  It was a total paradigm shift for me.  She pointed out that instead of focusing on what we can't have we should focus on adding healthy food to our diets.  Awesome!  If you fill up on the good stuff you won't have much room for the bad stuff.  By adding nutritious food you end up subtracting the junk that is keeping you from being healthy.

So that is just what I have been doing.  I am focusing on eating more fruits and vegetables because I think I has been slacking there a bit. . .and I'm a vegetarian!  I know, how does that happen!  I don't feel deprived and I have not been obsessing about the chocolate ice cream my husband keeps buying (chocolate ice cream is a weakness of mine).

Food is not the only area where I want to add.  I want to be more active through out the day.  I am really good about my structured workouts but I am afraid that I have been too sedentary the rest of the day.  Sometimes I need to sit.  Like driving or reading to the kids.  But I don't need to spend so much time checking out celebrity baby bumps online (not that I do that. . .ok maybe sometimes I do that).  One hour in the gym is not a license to be a couch potato the rest of the day.  I have two little kids, I am not just laying around, but I do need to be conscious about how often I am just sitting.

Here's to saying yes to wholesome food and moving more!

Friday, June 24, 2011

There's a new Sheriff in town

Everything is bigger in Texas. . .including me.  It was not Texas' fault really, but I did put on a few extra pounds while on vacation.  I didn't work out very much and I was under the false impression that calories didn't actually count while vacationing (isn't that the way it should be??)  Seconds, sure!  Dessert, let's do it!!  Sit in a car for 16 hours straight, expending no energy, while eating snack after snack, heck yeah!  So as you can see this was the perfect cocktail (oh yeah I had some of those too!) for expanding the waist line.

I also should mention that before this trip things were not going so great either.  The scale had been stuck for a long time.  So long in fact that I was beginning to think that maybe it was just broken (it wasn't).  Plateaus-ville.  Ugh!  Then the scale started moving (Yay)  in the wrong direction (Boo).  So I came back from this trip knowing that I had to take some action or I would be backsliding.  That is not an option because I already gave away my bigger clothes.  I can not give up and put on the fat pants.  They are gone.

So, there's a new sheriff in town.  She is mean, she is tough, and she came to kick butt. No more excuses.  It is time to get serious again about training and losing a few (or many) more pounds.  No more mindless snacking.  No more slacking at the gym.  It is a simple formula.  Calories In vs. Calories Out.  Stick to it.  End of story. . .or I'll have to walk around pants-less. . .which is the last thing you want to do when you have some extra junk in your trunk.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lessons from the Lone Star State

What is the most daunting, most challenging thing I have done??  Childbirth?  Triathlon?  Half Marathon?  Nope it was a 900+ mile road trip with a 2 and 4 year old!  It might not break the body but it will sure try to break your spirit.  32 total hours of "are we there yet?" "she touched me" "I wanna get out of the car!"  Hundreds of miles of the most ugly, most boring landscape that God created (no offense West Texas).  Whining, boredom, potty breaks, and a night in a Best Western.  We survived it all and these are the lessons I learned a long the way.

  • Austin is a looooong way from Denver.  Sure when you are planning your trip you think driving will be cheaper than flying.  But I ask you, can you really put a price on your sanity?  No matter how close Texas looks to Colorado on a map, it is still an insanely long way to travel with two young children.  Apparently Texans are not bragging.  It is a really big state!!!  
  • Driving with two little kids is tough but still a lot better than driving with three dogs.  Surprisingly, they actually smell a lot better than the dogs too (especially considering how often I let running through sprinklers double as a bath).  This is one time where I will agree that dogs are harder to take care of.
  • Check the news (like real news not just Facebook or Ch.2) before you leave because New Mexico might be closed.  That is right, we had to take some massive detour due to wildfires in New Mexico. I have to say on the way back when I saw the scorched landscape literally right next to I25, I kinda got why we weren't allowed to drive there.
  • Stopping at a hotel might seem like a great plan, but it isn't.  The kids will be crazy after being cooped up in a car all day.  They will not want to sleep and even the maximum dosage of Benedryl will be no match for the hyperactivity that will be happening in a very tiny room.  If you can, just plow through to the final destination (which is what we did on the way back). 
  • A four year old is going to miss his daddy and it will break your heart.  =(  Nothing is quite as hard as watching your son stutter out while sobbing, "I. . . mmmmiss. . .ddddddaddy. . .wahhhhhhh."  Heart wrenching.  I missed him a lot too Mason!!
  • When reunited with your little brother it will take about 12 seconds to revert back to children (in a good way).  I had too much fun with my little bro and his family.  He introduced me to the wonderful world of auto tune (I'm backing up, backing up, backing up)  and we had a great time laughing and being silly.  I miss him already.
  • You discover that it is a cruel twist of fate that when you really start to appreciate your siblings they live far away.  I am lucky to have one sister close, one sister staying for the summer, and one brother (and sister in law!) that allowed us to crash at their house for a week.  I love my family!
  • Cousins can be the best of friends (Aiden and Mason) or the worst of enemies (Logan and Emerson).  Mason loved his older cousin and they had so much fun talking dinosaurs, playing, and having grand adventures.  Seeing those two have such a great time together was my favorite part of the trip.  Now, on the other end of the spectrum were the toddlers.  They didn't get along so great.  There were a few moments of peace between the two, but over all they kinda hated each other.
  • On vacation, bedtime is whenever the kids finally pass out from exhaustion.
  • Don't run outside in the summer.  Just don't do it.  Even at 7 in the morning.  It is just too hot and too humid.  It is miserable.  100 feet into my run I was soaking wet and probably already experiencing heat stroke (I am kinda wussy).  I made it 30 minutes and vowed not to do that again.  
  • You know that scene in Poltergeist where that dude's face melts off (I do.  I was kinda traumatized by it as a kid)??  Well I am pretty sure that starts happening to you mere minutes after leaving A/C or water.  Avoid contact with the outside world in the heat of the day or your face will melt off.
  • Your kids will develop a southern drawl in just a week.  I don't know how it happened but my kids are now twanging.  Also, y'all is a great word.  I think I'm going to add it to my vocabulary.
  • That 4 year old that had a melt down about wanting to go home when you got to Texas will have another melt down when it is time to leave.  He had so much fun with his cousin that he didn't want to go.
  • The GPS is going to try to kill you.  Ok, maybe kill is a strong choice of words but it was definitely messing with us.  I admittedly had no idea where I was going.  Our new car has GPS and I thought I would just rely on that to get us there are back.  Bad idea.  Bad, bad, bad idea.  I thought it had three route options: Fastest (the one I wanted), Shortest, and Eco.  But apparently there is another secret route option that I must have pushed.  It is called the Podunk route or the "scenic" route.  I think I traveled every back road, country, sometimes dirt road in Texas.  So, on the way back we printed directions which was good because our GPS totally went out.  SD card fail??  I don't know what that meant except that if we hadn't had a map we would have been in trouble y'all.  
  • Do NOT speed in Amarillo.  I am racking up quite the collection of out of state tickets.  I have yet to log on to see what my fine will be be.  Frankly, I am scared.  I was kinda going really fast.  Like really fast.  Oops.  But in my defense I like to go fast. . .oh wait that isn't a very good defense.  Let me try again.  In my defense I was in Amarillo and you should be allowed to get out of there as fast as humanly possible?  No that is offensive.  Well, I guess I have no excuse especially because I tried them all and still got the ticket. 
  • When you get back to Colorado it will be more beautiful than you ever realized.  I am pretty blessed to live in such a beautiful place (of course this is summer and the story might be different if it were snowing here).  I missed my home and my husband a lot.  I had a wonderful time, but I was glad to be home and home for me is now Colorado.
    I had such a great time on the trip!  I love you Matthew, Elisabeth, Aiden, and Logan.  I can't wait to do it all again!!!! 
     More pictures of the fun we had!!
Emmy and Aiden licking the Bday cake beaters.
Aiden at Wazoo's
Matthew and the boys
Aunt Kacey and Emerson
Logan at Wazoo's
Aiden's 5th birthday and the great cake Elisabeth made for him
About to have some fun at Wazoo's
Keeping cool

      Monday, June 13, 2011

      The good, the bad, and the hung over

      The Foothills Feat Mini Tri was this morning.  Aye, aye, aye.  I guess I will begin with the hung over part.

      At the wedding
      I am going to admit I was a bit hung over this morning.  Before you judge, I would like to clarify two things.  1) I do not suggest drinking the night before a triathlon.  Those two things don't mix.  Carbo loading-yes.  Getting loaded- no.  2) I do not usually drink and this would be the reason that I was hung over.  I am not a daily, nor a weekly, and not really even a monthly imbiber.  I think I might have a total of 6 or 7 drinks a year.  So two (strong) drinks in one night really did me in.  Why, oh why would I indulge in such activity the night before a race?  Two reasons: wedding, no kids.  Enough said?  So in addition to having too much to drink, I was out late.  Let's just say 5am came way too early and I was having serious doubts as to whether or not I would even be able to make it to the course let alone finish the race.  Maybe I just should have stayed in bed but I don't really work that way.  A commitment was made and I was going to be there rain, shine, or blinding headache.

      Pre-race:  One of the best things about this tri was its proximity to my house.  I live about 5 minutes away so I left at 5:50 to be at transition as it was opening.  It was a small tri (100 people) and parking was not a problem.  So far so good.  I set up my stuff and went to find out my swim wave time and get marked.  I stood in two very long lines and realized that there was no way this race was going to start on time (and I was right).  Once I got everything marked, including my age on my calf (really? shouldn't you be exempt from that after 30?), I went to the gym where I found my lane buddies.  We decided that I would go last and I also found out it would be a dry start (ugh).

      Swim:  I felt really prepared for this swim.  I have been practicing and practicing.  I have been doing my 30 links of the pool to prepare for tri for the cure and this race was only 11.  Long gone where the days of the breast stroke.  I have been free styling it for months now.  I was going to rock this (even hung over).  I jumped in the pool when it was my turn and totally choked.  I was hyperventilating and I could not swim.  I was gasping for air and I was frantic.  What was going on???  I really thought I was going to have to get out of the pool and forfeit the tri.  I really didn't want to do that so I just started breast stroking, tried to get my heart rate and breathing more controlled, and hoped I could finish.  The guy ahead of me seemed to have trouble too and he really slowed me down (that is why I like open water better).  I was finally able to pass him and finish the swim.  I was so disappointed with my performance but glad that I stuck it out.  I ended up being just 30 seconds slower than my practice laps and was under my goal time.

      Bike:  This used to be my best event.  However, this was my third bike ride of the year.  Also, and I know this defies the laws of physics, but this bike ride seemed to be all up hill.  It was a loop and so I know this can't be possible but I swear I went up a thousand of the steepest hills and went down a few almost flat downhills.  It was quite possibly the hardest bike ride of my life.  And it was only 11 miles!!!!!  Brutal!  I wanted to finish in under 40, but that didn't happen (just under 43).  I just feel bad for all the people I saw with mountain bikes.  I can't even imagine how hard the ride was for them!

      Run:  I dilly dallied a little too much during my second transition.  I took too long putting on my running shoes, hat, and shirt.  Stopped a little too long for a drink.  In general I was in slow mo (2:21?  Really Katie?!).  I don't think I wanted to do anything after that bike ride.  But I was going to finish and I was going to run.  No quitting, no walking.  Plus the run was just 2.25 miles.  I could do it!  Since my tri training was totally lacking before this race I hadn't done any bricks (bike and then immediately run).  I had completely forgotten that jello feeling your legs get when you finish a hard ride and then run.  This was magnified by the fact that it started with a hill (another hill??).  After about a half mile I found my groove and finished with an eh time (22:07).  I had a faster pace during my half marathon, but oh well, I'll take it.  

      Overall:  My total time including transitions was 1:15:46.  I was second in my division (although I do need to point out that there were only 5 people in my division.  Where are all the 30-34 year old women???)  I placed 12th for women and 26th overall. 

      I really wish I had done a few things differently.  Like train more and not drink the night before.  But I am very glad I went and I finished because I wasn't sure I was going to be able to.  I also know that I need to work more on my swimming (no more freaking out in the water!!!!), and my biking, and my transitions, and my running.  Oh wait, I think that means I need to work on everything.  Time to get serious.  August 7th will be here before I know it (and I know what I will NOT be doing the night of August 6th!!).
      View before the race.  You can see two hot air balloons in the sky
      Emmy dressed up to attend the picture portion of the wedding.

      Friday, June 10, 2011

      Season Opener

      The next few days are going to be so jam packed full of events that I will not even have time to freak out about driving with the kids to Texas.  If I had time to think about it, I would be stressing over the fact that I will be stuck in a car with a two and four year old who are prone to hyperactivity and whining.  The also have a major case of the "when are we going to get theres," and that is just when we drive to the grocery store. So 16ish hours strapped in a car seat is going to be tough on everyone involved.  Thankful my sister, the amazing Aunt Kacey, will be accompanying me on the trip (Kevin has to work.  I guess someone has to make money around here).  We will bring lots of snacks, videos, coloring books, and maybe some benedryl (wink, wink).

      We will set out Monday morning but we have a lot going on before the big departure.  Today there is a family reunion for my husband's side of the family.  Tomorrow is our niece Kati's wedding.  Sunday is a mini tri, church, a reception for a friend who is getting baptized, and more family reunion events.  Sprinkled through out will also be tasks like oil changes, packing, and preparing for the drive.  Yikes!!  I am stressed just mentioning everything!!  But I am so excited to see my brother, sister in law, and nephews that all the stress and the drive will be worth it.

      I am also pretty excited about my first tri of the season, the Foothills Feat.  It a mini sprint and it will be a great way to start out the training season.  The swim is only 275m, the bike ride is 11 miles (but very, very hilly), and the run is 2.25 miles.  I haven't really trained that much, especially in the bike riding department, and I think the bike ride is where I will struggle.  Here are my goals:

      Swim: under 7 min
      Cycling: under 40?  the (steep) roads won't be closed and like I said I haven't been riding
      Run: under 20 
      Transitions: ???  I don't know how they will be set up so it is hard to say

      I also need to remember that I will be at a wedding (without the kids) the night before the race. . .so we'll see how I do.  It will just be nice to get out there and have some fun with this race!

      Tuesday, June 7, 2011

      Injury Report

      I have been waiting for this moment.  I knew when I bought my bike shoes that at some point it was going to happen.  Frankly, I am surprised it took this long.  But today it happened.  I fell while clipped into my bike.  Ouch!!

      I went out for a 10ish mile bike ride this morning.  It was only my second bike ride of the year.  Since I am doing a triathlon on Sunday I thought I had better get on my bike a few more times this week.  The first half on the ride was fine.  I am a lot slower than I would like to be, but still not horrible (especially considering my total lack of miles for the year).  I stopped at the point where I needed to turn around, took a drink, and then took a spill.  I have no idea what happened.  I had one foot clipped in and one foot out, I lost my balance I guess, and toppled over on the foot that was clipped in.  It was almost in slow mo.  As I was falling I was thinking three things:  1) this is going to hurt 2) what am I going to break 3) this is really embarrassing.  The good news was no one saw me and I was relatively unharmed.  The bad news was my bike took the brunt on the trauma.  =(  My poor bike.  The shifter/break was tweaked at an angle (but still working) and there was some cosmetic damage.  My grip was trashed (easy fix) and there were scratches on the metal.  But the shifter was worrying me.

      I made it home and called Kevin to tell him the inevitable had finally happened.  He was very relieved that I wasn't calling from the ER.  When he got home he fixed up the bike and now the two of us are ready to get on the road again.

      It is kind of a relief that I got my first fall out of the way.  I am also relieved that the bike and I got by relatively unscathed.  Next time I stop maybe I will just unclip both feet!

      Friday, June 3, 2011

      Just me and the birds

      I do not like the nightlife.  I do not like like to boogie.  I am the ever elusive, mythical morning person (I guess I do like to boogie, but I just do it early in the day!).

      I was born a morning person and even in my teenage years I did not sleep-in (unless I was sick).  I have always prescribed to Ben Franklin's "early to bed early to rise" philosophy.  Up by 6 and in bed by 9 is my idea of a perfect day.  My children have inherited this trait from me and they are often up before the sun, which is sometimes a bit early for even me!  It can be a pain to wake to the Emmy alarm everyday, but overall I enjoy starting the day with the sun, sipping (sometimes gulping) coffee, and enjoying the crisp morning air.

      In Colorado I have found that I am less of a morning person in the winter.  It is cold and I want to stay in bed!  But when the days get longer and the air (finally) gets warmer, I just hate to lay in bed wasting the day.  And an early morning summer run is my favorite.  It hasn't gotten hot yet, no one is out on the trails (although I did see some golfers at 6:30???), and it is just me and the birds.  Ahhh!  It is the best way to start a summer day!

      I had about 40 minutes to fit in a run this morning before Kevin had to leave for work.  So I just did one loop in the neighborhood (4.25 miles).  It has some challenging hills and back in January it would take me 45 minutes (of course I had just come back from a month in California and my poor lungs were still adjusting to mile high air).  Today I did it in 36m17s!  A new PR!  I think even the birds were cheering for me.  I just love mornings!

      I know I am in the minority on that sentiment so for you night owls, this cartoon is for you!