Monday, November 22, 2010

giving thanks for sport

Sport is special to me. It was a big part of my life as a child. As an adolescent. As a young adult, and even today. Over 40 years, I have loved it and hated it. I have been inspired by it. I have been disappointed by it. But its always been there. And it always will be here.

I am thankful for the life lessons sport taught me. Talent may get you so far, but hard work and discipline will take you farther. Sport can lead you to dream big. It can bring you great success and reward. It can also bring you great failures. But learning from the failures is even more reward than the success. Because if you learn from failure, is it really failure?

Sport is a selfish endeavor. To have people in your life who support that selfish endeavor is special. And I am thankful for the people along the way who have supported me. They supported me when I did well. When I did poorly. When I was frustrated and tired. When I was happy. Even when my dreams seem a little outrageous to them, the support is still there.

Sport inspires me. I am inspired by the best in the world, excelling beyond our wildest imagination. I am inspired by the everyday person. The people who live everyday busy lives, but still manage to excel amongst their peers. And of course, I am inspired by the athlete who has overcome great physical or emotional adversity to excel in their endeavors.

Sport has given me a life of health and fitness. Granted there are many more important things in the world than sport, but a healthy life can help give back more to the world.

Sport has given me so many amazing friends. I have so many amazing memories of the years with my friends from my swimming years. And now great friends who I train with today, and those who I only see occasionally at a race or through facebook and email. I love you all and the fun times we have had together!

Even at 44 years of age, I still have athletic dreams and goals. I don’t know if I will reach them, but I will have fun trying.

I hope you all have a wonderful thankful week!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Overcoming Fear

On September 2, I crashed on my mountain bike. Now, I’ve crashed a lot of times on my mountain bike. Plenty of bruises, blood, lumps and bumps. But this one was different. Going down a hill, around a right hand corner (that I’ve ridden hundreds of times), the sun and the moon lined up, and the bike slid and flipped me onto my head and shoulder, and I ended up with a grade 2 AC separation (tore the ligament connecting the clavicle and scapula). A few weeks of no exercise to let it heal up a little just left me with even less fitness than I had this summer (which was very little). It has put another undetermined delay to my return to swimming (so far I have not been able to swim since April because of a different shoulder injury – to the same shoulder!). Most of all though, it left me with fear. Not shock and horror fear. But the kind of fear that sits in the back of your mind and keeps you from putting yourself out there. Keeps you from taking risks. Keeps you from having fun. Keeps you from doing what you had grown to love.

Five weeks after the crash I got back on the mountain bike. It was a slow ride. Cautious, tentative, filled with anxiety. Then I went out again. And again. And again. The improvement in my fear was not noticeable to myself. I still felt anxious. I still rode slow and cautiously. This past Sunday I was out again on the trails. I keep forcing myself to go out. Hoping that one day it will click and I’ll feel like my old self. Part of the ride I was with Meredith, who is a superb technical rider. So my goal was to stick to her like glue. I followed her choice of lines. I shut off my brain and just hung with her. And what do you know, I did it! She did not drop me, even on the long semi-technical, off camber descent. Now I know she was not riding hard, but her skills are so good that she can still haul ass down hill and on the corners, and as we neared the bottom of the hill, me just a few feet behind her, I had a smile a mile wide. I am back! Well, I am coming back. And it feels good.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I have a dream

I’ve been MIA from blogging for months. When you are injured for a very long time, and you aren’t really training or racing, doing the things that you really enjoy, its tough to think of something positive to write about. Not that one has to only write positive things, I’m sure if I looked back at what I’ve written, there is probably plenty that is not positive.

But I have had a few thoughts lately. Just a few. Related to triathlon, that is. And injury, of course.

I cannot tell you how many health care providers I’ve been to over the past year looking for the key to resolving my injuries. Several orthopedic doctors. Physical therapists. ART. Accupuncture. Massage. MAT. Countless hours reading books and crap on the internet, trying to sift through it all and come up with plans, try one for a while, try another for a while. Run much of it by Julia for her input. Out of pocket money spent. Hundreds. Insurance dollars spent. Thousands probably. Hours wasted (mostly by my fault, but also by not being able to get the right help). Months. Following up self-induced running injuries with a spectacular mountain bike crash resulting in a grade 2 AC separation. Priceless.

With all of this running to different health care providers, I had a vision. A vision of a sports injury clinic in every city. One staffed with an open-minded orthopedic doctor. And physical therapists educated in traditional PT, ART, MAT, acupuncture, massage. Nutritionists. A running coach who can do gait analysis (because, let’s face it, most injuries are running related, even if you are not strictly a runner, most sports require running). A one-stop shopping stop for injuries. Where all the doctors and PT’s help you or refer you to another specialist in their office who can help you. Why can’t we all just get along! And work together! I know the patients would be happier. Maybe not the health care providers.

OK. So, while I wish I had spent the summer training and racing. Life really wasn’t that bad (if I forget about the pain of the injuries). I enjoyed more free time. I cooked a lot more with my fresh locally grown CSA produce (I even made pumpkin pie two weeks ago from a pumpkin!). I have been training a little. Running frequently, very low mileage (I mean some days only 2 miles), and very slowly, and as often as possible on trails or grass (which is hard now on weekdays with the days getting shorter, and my daylight hours spent in the office). I’ve been riding my bike some. I cannot swim. The shoulder is very ANGRY at me. I’m working on it. Every day. I hope I can swim again. I am a swimmer. Always was. Always will be. I always dreamed of growing old, in a house on a lovely little lake, and getting up every morning and going for a lake swim, climbing out of the water, and sitting on the dock wrapped in a big blanker, sitting next to Todd, him drinking a cup of hot coffee, me and a cup of hot chocolate!, and my pooches at my feet.

So, I have been reading a bit. Books on training. Blogs on training. Blogs on racing. Interesting. Ones perspective changes when you can’t train and race. Even though I have no idea if I’ll ever be able to train again. I’ve been working on a training plan. I try to follow one now. Its pretty simple. But it’s a plan. Maybe in a few months it will have real workouts. Workouts where I push myself. Workouts where I do something perfectly. Workouts that in the end, make me smile. A race that leaves me with a smile would be great too. Heck, at this point, if I am able to do a race, it would leave me with a smile. So, for all of you folks out there who have disappointing races, smile! Its not the last race you will have (most likely). And no one else thinks any differently about you because of your race result. Your family, friends. Nope. My family and friends couldn’t give a shit that I’m slow and out of shape. Or that I haven’t done a race in a year. I have a friend who just did her last chemo treatment this past week. My father is living life again after major medical issues this spring. A young world class swimmer just perished in an open water swim race. My injuries are pathetically embarrassing in comparison.

So, life moves on. The sun goes down. The sun comes up. I keep hammering away at my health. I keep following all my friends exploits with enjoyment and inspiration. What a great summer of racing by you all! Friends who I know. Friends who I don’t know (I guess that doesn’t really make you a friend, but just someone I know). Pros. I was inspired again by the Hawaii Ironman. I still have a dream to do one again some day. I don’t know if my body will allow, but maybe. One day. And Xterra Worlds. I hope I can regain my mojo on my mountain bike and go back to that race. Next year would be nice :-)

The kids also want some face time, so here are the obligatory dog photos.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Not even as weird as the TDF podium girl black pantsuits or the polka dot upside umbrella dress

what we see in rural Indiana on a bike ride is not even as weird as the TDF podium girl black pantsuits or the polka dot upside umbrella dresses.

ok, well, maybe:

um, a meal at the bait barn, I don't think so!

its kind of cool when they don't tear down the real old fashioned stuff:

and I always love the beauty of the farmed fields:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

What's been going on?

There has been a lot of nothing going on the past few weeks. Work, family time, rehab, yoga, and a little bike riding.

Last weekend I went to a two hour yoga clinic called hips, hamstrings and heart. It was led by visiting yoga guru, Lisa Richards. She was 5 months pregnant, and gumbier than gumby! Very inspiring to see so many ways that yoga can help open up my hips and hamstrings, which are my two injury prone areas. I really enjoy going to yoga, and how good it makes me feel when I leave.

The past three days Angela and I went to mountain bike camp. We took camping gear and planned to camp two nights between the three day camp. I needed something to make me feel positive about what I can do right now, since I can't do a whole lot. And when we saw that Betterride was doing a camp in Indiana, we signed up. The coach was pro downhiller Andy W. He was awesome! Super studly bike rider and amazingly great coach.

We learned a lot. Lots of drills, which I'm determined to work on regularly so I can master them and be a better rider. I cannot tell you the drills or the things we worked on, because then I'd give away all of my newly learned secrets! All I can say is the camp was great. The camping fun. The weather super hot, heat indexes over 100, buckets of sweat left in the forest, thunderstorms through the night, lots of blood donated to mosquitos, and a dairy queen blizzard three days in a row! SWEET!

Here's Andy, our superstar coach showing us how its done.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Born to Run (ha!)

I just read 'Born to Run' over the weekend. I know, everyone else read it last year. I’m a little behind the times. I loved the analysis of how people have come to the conclusion that the human body was born to run, or maybe evolved to run. I got so jazzed about running I kept thinking, yeah, I can do an ultra, I can do more marathons! I can! I can! I can! Then Sunday morning I took Daisy to the trails for a hike. Not a run. A hike. Ok, I’ll call it what it was. A walk. A simple walk. That sounds so sad for someone who wants to run. Going up the hills nagged my hamstring, and my hip got irritable, and I got so pissed off at my body not healing. I’ve been consulting with my own personal online PT and she gives me tons of ideas, questions to ask, things to look into. I want to try it all! I’m so impatient for a fix.

So, in the meantime, I ride my bike a little. I go to the pool once a week and kick. Yep, just kick. I’m taking a page from Natalie Coughlin’s play book, where she kicked for almost a year exclusively when her shoulder healed, and she made herself into the best underwater swimmer, she kills everyone off the walls. I’m going to try to improve my walls so I can kill it (the walls, that is) next time I swim a masters meet. Which at this time, may be never! (Stupid shoulder)

So, in my other copious amounts of spare time, I have tried to expand my cooking repertoire. Starting May 28, I’m going to get a weekly delivery of fresh local produce from my local CSA. So excited about that. New veggies will become a part of my weekly menu. So I thought I better start looking for recipes and trying a few new things in the meantime. The website, is awesome, lots of good veggie recipes, and easy ones too! Last night I fixed brussel sprouts. I hated bp’s when I was a kid. When mom made them, I’d have to hold my nose shut and force one down. They were the worst thing I could ever wish to show up on the dinner table. But I thought 20 years is enough time I should give them a try. And I found a simple recipe on that, and I liked them! Holy guacamole! I was shocked. Now I’m all inspired to try more veggies. Can’t wait for my CSA produce to show up!!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

singletrack, two wheels and three friends

April and May have been bad months (ha, who am I fooling, February and March too!), too many injuries, failed workouts, medical issues for the very best dad in the world. I’m not training right now. No running. No Swimming. But I can ride again.
Saturday was a cold, gray blustery March day, in May. And since I’m not training, I didn’t have to face the misery of the weather, I took a day off! Sunday brought sun, breeze, and 60 degrees. Time to rediscover my love of sports.

Where do I go for this? To the trails. On my mountain bike. With my friends. And you know what. It worked! I cannot run right now. I cannot swim right now. But I can ride. So, ride I wlll. And ride I did!

It was so great to be back on the dirt. I love my mountain bike. Hopping on the bike, I felt happy. The first mile is a long easy climb. You get warmed up, bounce over a few roots, fly down a short swoopy twisty section, sans brakes, and it feels good. And I'm smiling. We chat. Laugh. Bounce along. On occasion, I feel the flow of the trail, and on occasion, I nail a corner, and on occasion, I really flub one up. The skills are hiding somewhere in my brain, so I keep trying to talk them out of my brain and into my body and bike. Sometimes they are there, sometimes totally NOT. We climb up the long Aynes climb, I'm breathing loudly as it steepens past a mile. That was expected as I have done very little for the past month that would give me power up the long climb. I’m relieved when it mellows out a bit, and you get a little swoop downhill through the green fern covered hillside. I try not to be too cautious on the off camber rocky downhill, and have a little success, hit the brakes maybe a little too often, but I’m feeling happy, and enjoying myself like I have not done in months. I clear the three rock gardens at the top of HP and I haven’t done that in a longggggggggg time. More smiles. Even on the newer intermediate trail with lots of rocks, even though I flub up, A LOT, I still smile.
After almost three hours, we are back at the car. I’m tired. But happy. I’m coming back. I’ll be back!