Archive | June, 2011

Keeping an Eternal Perspective

30 Jun

This is the first installment of a weekly series I am going to start on my blog called Keeping an Eternal Perspective. Ever since I started back to work full-time at the beginning of May, God has been reminding me to keep my focus on eternity and the rewards He has promised to me there, as well as the blessings I receive by living a life that glorifies Him here.

I wanted to share a story I read in my Girlfriends in God devotion this morning:

A wealthy man prayed and asked for permission to take his earthly wealth with him when he died and went to heaven. An angel appeared to the man and said, “We heard your prayer, but I am sorry. You simply cannot take it with you.” The man pleaded so passionately that the angel said, “Let me see what I can do.” When the angel returned, he reported, “Good news! God has made an exception for you. You may bring one suitcase with you when it is your time to go.” Delighted, the man packed his one suitcase and went on with life. Several years later, he died and appeared at the Pearly Gates where he was met by St. Peter who took one look at the suitcase and said, “I am sorry, sir, but you cannot bring that in with you.” The man protested, “But I received special permission.” Just then, the angel appeared and said, “Peter, it is true. He has special permission to bring one suitcase in with him.” Curious, Peter said, “Do you mind showing me what is in the bag that is so important to you?” With a smile, the man replied, “Not at all” and proceeded to open the suitcase to reveal stacks of gold bricks. Peter’s face said it all, “Pavement? You brought pavement with you?” 

I loved that story because it shows how skewed our view of reality is. To echo one of my favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

We are not aware of the immensity of the joys to be given us in heaven: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9). We don’t often focus on the joys that come to us in this life as a result of living for God’s glory and not for our own: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

Throughout my Christian walk, God has called me to give up good things (like shopping) for greater things, even if that greater thing is only my own personal sanctification. My time reading through 2 Corinthians has reminded me that not only are those sacrifices worth it because they are an outworking of obedience, they are also producing “an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.” I am not fully aware of the work God is doing in my life through these circumstances but the promise that He is using these things to sanctify me and glorify Himself through me is everywhere in the Bible.

So that is where my heart is resting today.

Weekly Recap: 6/20 – 6/26

27 Jun

Last week’s training was characterized by a lot of rearranged and piecemeal sessions. (Like my intelligent word of the day week? If you don’t know the word, here’s the definition.) But I’m still sore and tired today and my watch shows that I trained for a total of 5:27:34 and burned 2,139 calories. It was mostly my run workouts that kicked my butt.

Monday: Off

Tuesday: AM – Swam 1,300 yds

   PM – Ran 2.6 miles in 29:12; upper body weights

For my swim workout, I did a nice little pyramid: 2 x 100, 2 x 200, 2 x 300, 2 x 50. (I was supposed to swim 1,500 yds and just realized that I had calculated this wrong. Whoops!)

My run was intervals: 2 minute walk, 2 minute run, 1 minute sprint. Definitely harder to sprint for a minute than 30 seconds!

Wednesday: Bike to Work Day FAIL = 6 mile bike and mopey face.

If you’re looking at the photo and wondering where the rest of my thumb is, you now know that I have freakishly short thumbs. My brother used to say that I had alien thumbs and I have been asked if it’s hard to use the controller when playing video games. For the record, I don’t and it’s not. Tell me there’s not something weird about your body.

Thursday: AM – Ran 3.5 miles in 35:36; abs

   PM – Swam 1,250 yds (workout rearranged for Travis’ beauty rest)

My run this day was great. I won’t bore you with the details again. But I rocked it!

For my swim, I followed a plan from swimplan.com. I want to start incorporating more drills into my swimming routine and this is a no-brainer way to do that (because it tells you what to do.) It told me to do 8 x 50 of bilateral breathing freestyle. Since I don’t know how to do that, I did 4 x 50 of single arm stroke to the left, then 2 x 50 of freestyle breathing to the left, then 2 x 50 of bilateral breathing. It’ll take some getting used to but I’m excited that I can *almost* do it (I lift my head too much to breathe, which reminds me of how it felt to learn freestyle. Ahhh… the days.)

Friday: AM – Biked 8 miles

PM – Ran 1.15 miles with pooches; Biked 6.7 miles with the hubs

My bike rides this day were to make up for Wednesday. Travis went out for happy hour after work – 3 heavy beers + hot sun = 2 hour nap & poor bike ride. Travis’ back tire ended up going flat (the air got let out through the nozzle) so I had to bike home and come back with the car to pick him up. Charlie snuck out of the car and almost got run over. I man-slapped her. (Not really.)

Saturday: Ran 3.2 miles in 48:46 in Red Rocks Park with friend Carrie

This was my first trail run ever and I think it went pretty well. There are a couple of significant climbs (MapMyRun rates them a 3 and 4 on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being the hardest) totaling 656 feet of elevation gain and since I suck at hills and Carrie just started running a couple months ago, we had to hike those parts – hence our slow time. I was also slower than Carrie coming down, due to my fear of twisting an ankle or falling on my face.

Sunday: Biked 9.2 miles with the hubs

The first 3/4 of this ride was on Ralston Creek Trail, which goes through Arvada. There are a lot of turns, bridges, and people to avoid so our average speed was only 13.5, even though Travis pushed it to 21 mph on his mountain bike at some later points (where the trail is straight and not through neighborhoods). I had a hard time keeping up! I told him that he was leading from now on because I had been underestimating his abilities.

Totals

Swim: 2,550 yards

Bike: 29.9 miles

Run: 10.45 miles

Overall, the week wasn’t bad training-wise, though I skipped lower body weights, my 25-mile ride on Sunday (did 9 instead), and my 3rd (and longest) swim workout. I’m finding that having two swim workouts back to back is not appealing to me whatsoever. I just do not want to go to the pool twice in a row. So I think I’m going to cut out a swim workout. It would take a lot of work for me to get faster at the swim (since it’s so much about technique) and it’s the shortest part of the race so I feel okay doing only 2 swim workouts a week. Plus, I need the time to motivate myself to do longer bike rides. My longest ride so far has been 20 miles (and I wasn’t pushing myself on it either).

I spent time with God every day except Wednesday, when I putzed around with my broken bike too long in the morning. I’ve been going through 2 Corinthians, which has been very good and continued to remind me to stay focused on eternity and what God is accomplishing in my life right now, even when I can’t see it clearly. (More thoughts to come on that.) Even though I only spend 20-30 minutes reading and journaling, that time gives my life the balance it needs to stay on course.

I was very productive this weekend – I went grocery shopping, did laundry, vacuumed, bathed the dogs, and deadheaded some perennials to encourage reblooming so tonight, I am just going to take it easy by watching some TV, continuing to slog my way through David Copperfield (though it’s a good book, it’s taking me forever to read it), and stretching/foam-rolling. Back to training tomorrow!

I broke into my own house.

24 Jun

It’s a Friday. Things were pretty slow at work (when are they not?) so I headed home at 4. I was anticipating a delicious nap in air-conditioning while the dogs were roaming outside so they wouldn’t wake me up. I was feeling pretty good about my mad traffic navigation skills, too, as I was able to avoid practically all of the jams I saw on my way home (side roads are where it’s at).

I went through my usual routine of parking my car in the driveway, opening the garage door with the remote, and grabbing all of my crap to carry in. But when I reached the door to the laundry room, the knob didn’t turn. Thinking it was just stuck, I jiggled it a few more times. Nope, it was locked. That had happened to me one other time. Since it’s the kind of doorknob that you turn the notch to lock (see pic), sometimes the notch gets turned just a little bit every time you use it until bam, the door is locked.

No problem, I thought. I’ll just go through the front door. Well, unfortunately the recent re-addition of our screened door put the kaibosh on that. It was locked as well. No key for that door.

Hmmm…

While the dogs were whining and pawing at the door to get out, I called Travis and told him the predicament. He suggested I take the pins out of the hinges of the door.

Good idea!

I was able to get the pins out fairly easily but then the dilemma was, how do you pull a door off that is still locked? Those skills were beyond me. So I got out the cordless drill and removed my side of the doorknob. When I couldn’t figure out how to get the door unlocked even then, I remembered my friend Carrie’s story about a friend’s little boy locking himself and his playmates into her daughter’s room. Apparently, he only knew how to lock it but not unlock, so she also resorted to removing the doorknob. I remembered her saying that didn’t work, but I couldn’t remember what actually did work. (Maybe she coached them through how to unlock? Do you think that would work with my dogs?)

While I was standing there jiggling the knob, I could feel the cool breeze blowing from the laundry room into the hot, sticky garage. Taunting me.

Finally I gave up on that door. It was of no use. Maybe there’s a window open!

Indeed there was. And luckily, it was my bathroom window, which had yet to be replaced with the new kind with screens designed to only come out from inside. Instead, the screens were homemade (we think) and held in place by some plastic clips that you turn to remove (see pic).

Between a nail and a putty knife, I was able to turn the plastic clips enough to push the screen out and into the bathtub.

Then I got out the ladder. Carefully straddling it over one of our beautiful shrubs, I climbed up.

Now, as you can see, our windows are pretty high up and fairly small. Good thing I don’t weigh 200 lbs or I would’ve been cooking in the hot sun until Travis got home from happy hour.

So the question was, Should I go in head first or feet first?

I decided feet first would be the safest route so I lifted my left leg into the window and straddled the sill. I stared down at the hard, porcelain bathtub. Whatever you do, don’t get hurt.

I kicked off my flipflop so I could better grip the side ledge of the bathtub. Now, how to get my right leg inside too? I pushed aside the shower curtain and leaned down onto the toilet tank. Holding on to the window frame, I was able to wrestle my right leg in too.

Whew! I’m inside.

Time for a nap.

Getting my running mojo back!

23 Jun

When I first started running, I was fairly speedy (for me), averaging between a 9:30 and 10:00 pace. The first race I ever did, the White Bear Lake Freedom 10 Mile, I ran at a 9:30 pace for 7 miles until I got this weird blister thing under my toe. I ended up finishing right around 1:40.

Then I moved to Colorado and the altitude instantly added a minute to my per-mile pace. But the more I ran, the more I got used to the altitude. I started running shorter runs at a 10:00 pace again. I ran my first half in 2:30:46, an 11:31 pace. A week later, I ran my first and only 10K in 62:36, a 10:03 pace.

The next year, I trained for my first sprint triathlon. As I have mentioned before, I was really gung ho about training. With the weight lifting and cross-training, I was regularly running at a 9:30 or even (gasp!) 9:00 pace.

It was awesome.

But once I stopped training like a mad man, my pace went back to just a little over a 10-minute mile.

And then 2010 happened.

Any speed I had ever had completely disappeared. While I was training for my second half and what I had hoped to be my first full marathon (but ended up being my third half), I was running so slow I was practically walking. No Joke.

It was so bad that I felt good about anything faster than a 12:00/mile pace. A lot of runs, I didn’t even make that goal. My half marathon times slipped to 2:33:50 and then 2:44:44.

What was happening to me?!?!?

Maybe I’m just getting old.

But actually, I’m pretty sure the same thing that caused my IT-band injury while marathon training is the same thing causing my excessive slowness. It’s three-fold:

1. Not enough (or any) weight training.

When I was training for my first sprint triathlon, I did full-body weights 2 times a week. I am almost positive that had a lot to do with how much faster I was running.

2. Not enough (or any) speedwork.

The ladies on The Nest’s Health & Fitness board like to say, “To run faster, you have to run faster.” You’d think that it being such a simple concept, I would have adopted it when I found myself progressively getting slower. Nah. I’d rather just put the miles in and hope the speed comes magically.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from frequenting the H&F board on The Nest, it’s that a lot of speedy runners work for their speed. They aren’t just out doing joy laps. They’re doing sprints, mile repeats, tempo runs, hill workouts. They’re balls to the walls.

3. Not enough stretching.

Not stretching, specifically not stretching my IT band, is definitely what caused my injury last year. I’m pretty sure that not stretching also has an effect on how fast I can go, because it affects hip flexors, hamstrings, calves, and generally makes running more enjoyable. It’s no fun to start a run and realize that your hamstring is as tight as a fiddle string.

To put these realizations into practice, I’ve decided to incorporate one day of upper body strength and one of lower body into my training, as well as at least 2 speed workouts a week (for running), and stretching after every workout (this is still hit or miss). I’m also trying to do drills and speed work for the swim and bike portions, but that looks different.

So far, since adopting my new philosophy, I’ve done several tempo runs, intervals, and some 1/2 mile repeats. So I was super excited this morning when I went on a run and ran the fastest pace I’ve ran for over a mile since training for that first triathlon. After 1.5 miles at a steady pace with the dogs, I went out for 2 more miles alone. I felt like I was pushing it (I was very out of breath) but my legs also started feeling heavy. I’ve been disappointed before when I feel like I’m running fast and I look at my watch, only to see it’s a 11:00 pace. So I wasn’t expecting anything (though secretly hoping for a 10:00 pace). I looked at my watch at the 1 mile point –

9:40.

WHAT?!?!

I was totally impressed by my little legs and pathetic lungs. Aw, you guys are getting stronger from the speed work – that’s so cute!

That achievement gave me the motivation I needed to push through another mile. I felt like I was slower. A negative split would be nice, but I’d be satisfied with around a 10:10.

My breathing was very labored. I was so ready to be done being out of breath. This was one of those runs where my legs felt amazing but my lungs just couldn’t keep up.

I was about 1/10 of a mile from my house when I looked at my watch. I only had 1 minute left if I was going to break a 10:00 pace.

I punched it and just about died.

But I made it. Split time: 9:36.

Sahweet!

That run totally made my day and reassured me: Yes, I can get faster. 

{Update: I took my bike to the bike store last night and they said the rear derailleur hanger was bent. They fixed it and I can go pick it up after work! Bike ride tomorrow, here I come!}

Bike to Work FAIL.

22 Jun

Today was Denver’s Bike to Work Day. I have never biked to work before but have always been intrigued by the idea. And since I am now training for an Olympic triathlon and needing to bike rides of 20-30 miles every week, I figured it would be a great way to get in my training, as well as my commute (it’s 13.5 miles to work by car or bike).

I spent a couple hours at work yesterday getting everything mapped out, typing up directions and stowing my work clothes for today in one of the fitness center lockers. I drove my route home last night, to get better acquainted with the streets and make sure that everything looked pretty safe. I was so excited and nervous that I went to bed thinking about it and woke up thinking about it. I packed up my Camelbak this morning with my smaller-than-normal lunch, flip-flops, cell phone, phone charger, camera, photo ID, credit card, chapstick, deodorant, and makeup. I had my helmet, water bottle and sunglasses. I wore a bright orange t-shirt over my long-sleeve gray tech tee.

I taped my directions to my aero bars

I forgot just one small thing.

Check the bike.

I didn’t think it would be an issue since I had just biked 20 miles on it Sunday with no issues. But now that I think about it, the chain was making some weird noises during that ride – so much so that Travis asked me what the noise was. I said the chain was rubbing like it does when it’s in the highest or lowest gear, ignoring the indicator on my shifter showing that the chain was actually on a middle gear.

I left the house at 6:35 and followed my route north. Since I haven’t biked on actual streets very much – this was maybe the third time? – I was approaching a stoplight when I realized (too late) that I should be in a lower gear in order to get started more easily. So as I was braking, I downshifted twice without pedaling, so that I didn’t *actually* shift.

Big mistake.

It may have just been a coincidence that the problems started right after that, or it may have been the cause.

The Magnificent Sliding Chain

But my chain was jacked up big time. It was sliding all over the place, trying to choose between 2 or 3 different gears. I pulled into a parking lot and tooled around there for about 5 minutes, changing gears to see if I could get my chain back on track. No luck. Then I got off and looked at the chain. I didn’t see anything obviously wrong and know next to nothing technical about bikes so as much as it disappointed me, I knew the smart thing would be to go home. I didn’t want to get stranded on the side of the road, or worse, ruin my bike.

As I pulled out of the parking lot to where I was going to turn around, the chain seemed better. Maybe, just maybe, I can still make this work. I continued on my route for another mile. Things were good. Chain in place. Then I encountered a hill. I tried to tackle it without downshifting but I couldn’t. So I shifted down one gear. Still good. Down another. Still good. Down another.

::Crunch… crunch…crunch::

Crap it.

I turned off on a side street, resolving that it just wasn’t in the cards for me to ride my bike to work today.

I got home and went into the office to escape my dogs’ excitement and mope. But then I realized, it was only 7:10 – if Travis could fix my bike in 10 minutes, I could still bike to work. So I went and woke Travis up and being the sweet, dutiful husband, he rolled out of bed early to help me futz with my bike. But no matter what we adjusted, poked, moved, or tested, the chain refused to work. It needs professional help.

So I did not get to bike to work today. I’m bummed. But I’m not deterred! I WILL ride my bike to work one day soon.

My sad little bike computer only read 5.759 miles by the time I took a shower (my short bike ride + ride on bike trainer to figure out what was wrong) when I had been expecting something more like 27.xx miles. What makes me more frustrated is that we have our church group tonight from 6 to 9 so the morning was my main workout window. I’m still going to try to squeeze a short run in after work so that the day isn’t a total bust. But I’m thoroughly bummed about this whole thing.

So I called up an old pal for consolation:

You can always count on Mr. Donut to cheer you up. Mmmm…

I guess it is 60% of the body…

21 Jun

Somehow, over the past month and a half, I have managed to drink at least 64 oz of water a day.

Some days, I even drink 96 oz. That is 3 Nalgenes of water.

For some, this might be normal. They’re probably not having to run to the bathroom every hour having to pee like a mad man. But for me, this is a feat.

Rewind back 18 months to my time at D2S: It’s 2 PM. I’m sitting at my desk, my empty coffee mug long since stowed away in my cubby, my completely full Nalgene still untouched. I happen to glance over and realize I haven’t drank anything since my coffee that AM. So I open my Nalgene, take a few pathetic sips from my straw (knowing that I spill water all over myself without one), but still go home at 5 pm, with an almost-completely full Nalgene. At dinner, I choke down a glass of water. During and after my workout, I stomach another 10 oz.

Total water intake: 20 oz.

So what has changed in the past month and a half?

……I’m thirsty?

Honestly, I don’t know why I enjoy drinking water now. I never really have before. In Minnesota, it wasn’t a huge deal that I didn’t drink a ton of water because it’s so humid. Ever since we moved out to extremely dry Colorado in 2007, I have regularly endured headaches from being dehydrated. But even those headaches were not enough incentive for me to start drinking more water. I just couldn’t do it.

Obviously, since I brought a Nalgene with me to work every day, I had the best of intentions. I wanted to drink water in theory. But to drink that water, I had to force myself to do it because I never felt thirsty. Never. Ok, maybe for the 30-60 minutes I worked out a day. But seriously, the minute I was done exercising, my thirst was gone. I could be out on a 5-mile run in 95 degree heat, having fantasies of an ice cold glass of water and hardly wait to get home. Once I finally have that clear glass of deliciousness in my hands, my mouth full of anticipation, I take a drink and… eh. Do I really have to drink this? I pour out my glass of water and drink a glass of milk instead.

While I can’t pinpoint it is all of a sudden enjoyable for me to drink an entire 32 oz before 10 AM, I can pinpoint a wonderful side effect of my new love affair: energy.

For many months, I had come to the conclusion that I just had less energy than most people. Travis would get up at 3 AM on a Saturday to go fishing or duck hunting, come back around noon, and instead of taking a nap like I expected him to, he’d mow the grass, change the oil on both cars, clean out the gutters, work on his assemble-yourself muzzleloader, and do whatever else he does out in the garage. I, on the other hand, would roll out of bed at 9 AM, have a cup of coffee and breakfast while reading the Bible and a book, then lay around all day watching TV, possibly prying myself up long enough to take the dogs on a walk. I thought about doing productive things, like printing those vacation pictures I’d been meaning to, or vacuuming up the massive clumps of dog hair in the kitchen and bathroom – but I just felt so tired.

I had heard that lethargy can be a result of dehydration. I am living, walking proof that that statement is true. I cannot believe the amount of energy I have now, compared to then. When we went camping over Memorial Day, I felt that familiar lethargic feeling when we got to our campsite and were setting up our tent. After a moment of self-pity (and a nap), I decided to drink some water. And it worked. That feeling went away and I felt great for the rest of the trip.

I’m convinced that this is why I, a person who does not like being busy, have been able to handle constant busyness over the past couple of months with minimal breakdowns. It is so much easier to handle being busy when you have energy! It’s AMAZING!!!! Just kidding. But seriously.

Another thing that helps me handle constant busyness is having a routine. That was one of the hardest things about my job last year when I was traveling and working from home – no two weeks were alike. Things were constantly changing so I could never get into a routine. I like routines because I love being organized and it helps me to ensure that everything that really needs to get done in a day gets done. If I have extra time, sahweet!

Now that I’m back in a regular 9-to-5, I am getting my routine down:

Daily Routine

5:00 am – Get up.

5:15 – Train.

6:30 – Shower, do makeup, get dressed.

7:15 – Make lunch for me, snack for Travis. Brew coffee.

7:40 – Eat breakfast while reading the Bible.

8:20 – Leave for work.

9:00 – Work (aka read blogs, surf the net, log workouts, etc).

5:00 pm – Leave work.

5:35 – Get home and make dinner. Eat dinner.

6:30 – Take dogs on a walk.

7:30 – Get workout clothes ready for next day.

7:45 – Watch TV with Travis or read a book.

9:00 – Lights out.

My weekly routine has become to go grocery shopping on Sunday and do laundry/clean the house on Monday (my rest day). It’s working so far.

Have you noticed your water intake affect your energy level? Do you like to have a daily/weekly routine or wing it?

Weekly Recap 6/13 – 6/19

20 Jun


As I mentioned a few days ago, I am going to post weekly recaps of  my training and time with God.

This past week went pretty well training-wise. I was able to stick to my schedule and get in all my workouts except for one.

Monday: Rest Day

Tuesday: Swam 750 yards; Ran 4 x 800 (in negative splits: 4:30, 4:20, 4:10, 4:07!!); abs

Wednesday: Biked 14.4 miles in 1:06

Holy hills batman! This was supposed to be 15 miles but I couldn’t remember the route I had mapped so I just followed the trail but ended up turning back early.

Thursday: Swam 1,500 yards; Ran 2.6 miles with pooches in 29:40 

Can we say spastic dogs?

Charlie actually did really well on my run. Her attention span waned after the first mile and a half but she didn’t pull on her leash or misbehave hardly at all.

Running makes some hungry dogs (like they aren’t hungry all the time, though):

 And a very sweaty me:

See the sweat dripping off my chin?

Friday: Supposed to swim 1,000 yds but instead ran 4.1 miles in 45:50.

Saturday: Hiked 7 miles in 4 hours

Travis and I went down to Divide (an hour west of Colorado Springs) to visit some friends. We hiked to Pancake Rocks and little did we know that the trail was all uphill on way out and downhill on way back. It was a challenging hike so we went up at a leisurely pace, enjoyed our lunch at the top, and then hiked back down. When we got back to their house, we watched Flushed Away and took a nap.

The hiking crew

Sunday: Biked 20 easy miles in 1:35 ish (13.5 with Travis, 7.5 on trainer)

The trail that I had mapped out (Clear Creek) was closed about 4 miles into our ride, so we improvised by going down the Ralston Creek Trail, which was actually very pretty, and then taking side streets home. The last 7.5 miles on my bike trainer were brutal because I was so bored. I need to figure out something to do on the trainer that keeps me entertained.

I also did well at spending time reading the Bible every morning, except Saturday when we were visiting friends, and Sunday when we were going to church.
It was a good week but I am living up my much-needed rest day today (by doing laundry and cleaning the house).

Which sandal would you choose?

15 Jun

Over the past year, I have found myself in stores, looking at a purse or a necklace or a shirt that is really cute, and I don’t know if I should buy it.

Do I have stuff that matches? Will I actually wear it? Is this me? Is this cool? Am I trying too hard? Will I wear this next year?

I end up putting the item down and walking away.

I think the flood of questions partly comes from my becoming thrifty. In college, I spent $80 on jeans without batting an eye. Now, that price tag gives me heart palpitations and sends me running for the door. I can’t even justify spending $25 on a shirt! In fact, the most recent times I can remember going shopping, I went to the thrift store (for new work clothes), Plato’s Closet (bought 1 shirt for $5), Gordman’s (where I snagged jeans for $10 and a winter coat for $30), and Target (where I bought and kept 1 pair of regular priced $20 shoes and 1 pair of on-sale $5 shoes).

But it also partly comes from feeling totally out of the fashion loop. Since shopping is only really fun when you spend money to buy the item you’re drooling over, I’ve mostly just stopped shopping.

It’s official people: I’m cheap.

But I’m still a girly girl who enjoys cute clothes and since I’ve been reading fashion blogs and now work in an office where I’m supposed to dress up everyday, I’m paying a little more attention to the trends and what I wear.

I’m sure you’ve noticed the trend of flat, strappy sandals. I certainly have. And the more I’ve noticed them, the more I’ve realized that I would like a pair. Not because everyone else has them, but because the sandals I own are of two extremes: heels or flip flops. (Yes, file this under #firstworldproblems.) I do have one pair of black dressy sandals that are only a slight wedge. But I am a person who likes to wear bright, fun colors during the summer (I honestly hardly ever wear black anyway). The two pairs of shoes I bought before starting work are turquoise and a muted yellow (both of which I love, but instead of going with a lot of different looks, they require an outfit to be planned around them).

Enter my sandal search.

To combat the bombardment of questions that usually race through my mind, I’ve decided to ask you, my lovely readers, for your opinion. After scouring DSW, Famous Footwear, Nordstrom Rack and Overstock.com, I have collected some options that meet my criteria (and some that don’t but that I want anyway because they’re so freakin’ cute):

1. Flat

2. Neutral color (tan, gold, silver)

3. Dressy enough for work or a wedding

4. Will go well with skirts, capris, and pants

5. $60 or less (I’m making an exception to my stinginess here, in order to get the sandals I really want.)

With that, here is the lineup:

I know – half of them aren’t flat. One is black. But they’re all just so cute!!

So then, which would you choose?

{Note: if you want to know where any of them came from, or what brand/style they are, just click the picture.}

Maintaining the Balance.

14 Jun

When I trained for my first triathlon back in 2009, I went all in. In addition to three workouts of each discipline a week, I was doing two days of full-body strength training. I still remember one night when I did a workout consisting of: 6 mile bike, 2 mile run, 6 mile bike, 2 mile run. While it got me into great shape and I was running faster than ever before, after that race was over, I realized that it was just too much.

I had started making frozen pizzas and macaroni and cheese for dinner, stopped cleaning my house and reading books, and felt exhausted constantly. So I cut my training back to two of each discipline a week and no weight training. It was amazing the difference it made in my energy levels, specifically dropping the weight training. I was slower in my second triathlon but I had recovered my life and my sanity.

So that’s where my philosophy of endurance training comes from. I am not willing to sacrifice my life just to be a little faster. I need time to relax. I want to eat homemade meals. I like a clean house. I want to spend time with my husband and pooches. I need time with God every day.

But I also realize that with a longer distance comes longer training times. If I want to race an Olympic distance, I have to train for one.

Like almost everything in life, there must be a balance.

After thinking about this quite a bit over the past couple of weeks and getting Travis’ blessing for me to spend more hours training (I want to make sure that my training isn’t going to be a sore spot in our marriage), I have decided to commit to training for the longer distance – with a caveat: I have to keep my priorities straight.

And those priorities (in order) are:

1. God (daily time in the Word, prayer)

2. Husband

3. Church / Fellowship

4. Job

5. Taking care of our dogs

6. Taking care of my home (cooking, cleaning, laundry)

7. Triathlon training

At times, I have felt guilty for spending so much time training. Should I spend this time helping others? Being less selfish? Should I give the money that I spend on race fees to homeless kids in Africa? That’s my never-good-enough fears kicking in. But I believe that God has given me my love and passion for endurance sports and that when people do things that they thoroughly enjoy, they showcase the glory of God because they are living according to how they were created. So I do believe that I can glorify God and train for triathlons.

But like I said earlier, there must be a balance. That balance can be summed up in two words: God first.

As I discovered earlier this year when I was unemployed, walking in fellowship with God makes all the other things in life fall into their proper places and gives everything the balance its supposed to have. Since I started back to work full-time, I have been letting training usurp my time with God. And I noticed things unraveling. I was dealing with the same problems I had been dealing with a year ago; struggling with materialism, jealousy, and anger; and feeling far from God.

No more!

I am committing to a daily 30 minutes (at least) with God and if I have to skip a workout to make that happen, so be it. Triathlons are transient; God is eternal.

Practically, I am planning my daily time with God to be in the morning, when I am most alert and in need of a reminder of eternity. I think I will still be able to fit in my whole workout (when I’m just doing one discipline) or part of my workout (when I’m doing more than one) in the morning as well. But I might be switching to night workouts anyway because Travis has agreed to do a triathlon! We haven’t decided on a race yet but it will be in August or September. I’m very excited to be able to share this passion of mine with him and to have a new training partner!

I am also going to start listening to sermons and worship music while I run and bike. I used to do this all the time but lately have been listening to Lady Gaga instead (total extremes, huh?).

I am planning on giving a training update every Monday (so that I don’t inundate this blog with training updates) and while I’m doing that, I’m also going to give a spiritual update. How is my relationship with God? Am I growing in being a servant to others and being a light in the workplace? Or am I sliding easily into worldliness, thinking only of new clothes, fitness goals, and vanity? Working in a secular environment is definitely a challenge – to both keep myself from being pulled into the worldly mentality of expensive things, big houses and nice cars as well as be bold in sharing the truth of the gospel. But I have found that its much easier to rise to that challenge when I’m reminding myself of truth daily by reading the Bible.

So that’s my training (and life) philosophy. We’ll see if I can handle the Olympic time commitment!

Race Recap: Greeley Sprint Tri

13 Jun

That was my face getting out of the swim.

Already, you can tell the race went well.

But let me back up. I did my second open water swim practice on Saturday afternoon at Big Soda Lake Beach again. This time, there was only one other (real) swimmer there using the lap lane so I didn’t have to worry about running into someone else. I put my pool tactics into practice and the swim actually went very well. I was swimming relatively straight and was relaxed. I {almost} panicked after my first length because I feared getting out of breath but I just slowed my stroke down and took longer breaths. I did 8 lengths, which I calculate to be about 640 meters (each length is about 80). I went to bed that night feeling more optimistic and less scared.

Race morning came early at 4:00 am. I woke Travis up (we had discussed the need for his prompt rising, which he did – I was so proud and grateful), then took a quick shower, got dressed, and put my hair up and lotion on my arms and legs where I anticipated no body marking to be. As I’ve mentioned before, lotion helps wetsuits slide off easily but it also makes body marking rub off. So I use regular lotion (to avoid weird tan line blotches) and just put the lotion where I know there is/will be no body marking – on my arms from right above my elbow down and on my legs minus the back calves. But I forgot to put on Body Glide before getting dressed, which I was painfully aware of during my post-race shower. Chafing – ouch!

Since it was so early, I wasn’t that hungry when I woke up so I put peanut butter on 2 bagels (one for me, one for Travis) and packed that, along with 2 yogurts and some grapes, into my lunchbox to eat on the 1-hour drive up to Greeley. I also decided that it was long enough until the race (we weren’t scheduled to go until 7:30) that I could venture to drink some coffee. We were pulling out of the driveway (after returning once to retrieve our phones) at 4:40.

We arrived at the race site at 5:45, after some arguments over roads being closed and wrong directions (sleep deprivation = snippyness). I got my packet quickly, set up my transition area, near D (my racing friend), Michelle, and Susan (who both work with D at the racing company I worked for last year). For both of them, this was first triathlon and they were a little nervous about the swim.

I appreciated having the extra time waiting around because I feel so much more mentally prepared and peaceful when I have more than enough time to get everything together – even though its probably a little boring for Travis. I remembered to tape my Shotbloks to my bike, had time for a 10 minute jog to warm up, and used the restroom twice. So far, so good.

Swim

Five minutes before transition closed, I discovered that because the lake was so small (see picture above) and the swim start was a time trial instead of a wave, the warm up time was over when transition closed. Meaning I had missed the warm up time. Crap it! There went my strategy for the swim… Even though the water was about 10 degrees warmer than the Boulder Res, I was still worried I would get in, get out of breath with the cold water, and be toast.

As we waited around 20 minutes for the Adult Age Group to start, I had decided to go use the bathroom when I heard the announcer say that the Age Groupers could get in the water and warm up while we were waiting. I chose warming up in the water over going to the bathroom, which I believe was a good, but not ideal, decision (more on that later). The water was actually fairly warm and I was feeling good about the swim.

After warming up, we waited another 30 minutes to start due to timing issues (since I was a race timer last year, I can’t really be mad – it’s complicated and messy.) Finally, almost an hour later than planned, the Age Groupers started going. The order was Men, oldest to youngest, and then Women, oldest to youngest. So I was in last 30 or so people to go.

Finally, it was my turn. When they told me to go, I waded down the rubber mat into the water (this was a man-made lake, so the drop-off was pretty steep) and then did the breaststroke for about 10 seconds, letting the water get back into my wetsuit before putting my face in the water.

Then I started swimming. The first 100 meters were great – I felt totally relaxed and at ease. I can totally do this! I thought to myself.

Then I started noticing water getting in my mouth when I turned to breath so I started swallowing when I should have been breathing out underwater. My breathing got slightly off and I was tempted to panic. Why am I doing this again? Since when do I like swimming? As I rounded the second far buoy and started making my way back, I had the thought, “Why would I ever want to do an Olympic triathlon? I can barely stand 500 meters, let alone 1500!” I was able to mostly keep my cool through the whole swim and slowly, the yellow ducks marking the swim exit came closer and closer. I actually made it the whole way swimming! I did it! I did it!

Now you can see why I was smiling and giving a thumbs up when I came out of the water. The swim was OVER!

Official Time: 13:19

T1

The race organizers had wetsuit strippers on hand but I don’t have that much difficulty getting mine off myself so I declined their offer of help. Like usual, I pulled my wetsuit down to my waist during the run to my spot, then pulled it all the way off at my bike. Both Michelle and Susan, who had started the swim after me, were both at their bikes already! Those little speed demons! I was glad that they had survived the swim though. (Susan later told me that it was a horrible experience and she didn’t think she’d ever do another one. I can relate to that feeling!)

I put on my socks, shoes, race belt, helmet and sunglasses, grabbed my bike and was off.

Official Time: 2:06 (gotta love those smaller transition areas!)

Bike

Just like at the Boulder Sunrise, I was pleasantly surprised by how good my legs felt on the bike. I passed quite a few people and definitely pushed myself (maybe a titch too hard). I ate my Shotbloks around Mile 4. The only noteworthy thing about the bike was how bad I had to pee for the last 3 miles. It was seriously painful. I had had to pee since before the swim took off. I now wonder why I didn’t run to pee then, since we stood around waiting for almost an hour. I had contemplated peeing in my wetsuit but didn’t want to do it standing around and couldn’t do it while swimming. I contemplated peeing on the bike but that’s just gross. So I resolved to pee (in a portapoo) when I got back to transition.

Official Time: 35:19 (17 mph average)

T2

After racking my bike, taking off my helmet and grabbing my hat, I made a mad dash to the bathroom. I stopped my watch while I did so, in order to know how long my bathroom pitstop took me when compared to the official time. It probably cost me about 45 seconds. But it was totally worth it.

Official Time: 1:38

Run

Once again, I was confronted with sluggishness on the run, most likely caused by going too hard on the bike. The way out was almost all slightly uphill, so that didn’t help either. I had to stop and walk a couple of times because my heart rate was around 175, which it should have been around 165. The run course also meandered a lot with dog legs so I felt like it went on forever. I felt like I was running very slow and was so ready for the race to be over, although now that I see my running pace I’m not that disappointed – sub-10:30 is pretty good for me lately. Finally, there was the finish line – a giant gorilla!

Official Time: 32:03 (10:21 pace)

Overall Official Time: 1:24:24

Overall Watch Time: 1:23:09

Gender Placement: 74/121

Division Placement: 10/15

I like to think that if we hadn’t had to wait around so long for the race to start, I wouldn’t have had to pee and my Watch Time would be the Official Time, making this race my new PR! (My last race at this distance was only a 350 m swim and I did it 1:23:40). Because it doesn’t really matter one way or the other, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

As far as the race itself is concerned, I think this is a great, very well-organized local race (it’s put on by the Greeley Triathlon Club). The website is informative and has course maps for the swim, bike and run. The race director sent out 2 emails before the race with information about where to park, race day timeline, etc. You get a t-shirt (very cute!), finisher’s medal and towel, plus water, a protein drink, and free burrito post-race. They play good music and the transition area, finish line and swim start are all located in the same general area, so it has a cozy atmosphere. I would recommend this race!

What I Learned:

1. I need to work on my Bike/Run transition.

Even though I have done more running than either swimming or biking in my “racing career,” the run is definitely where I’m struggling the most and not living up to my potential. And I’m pretty sure it’s because my brick workouts in preparation for these races were pretty wussy. For my future bricks, I am going to hammer it on the bike and then run, to get used to the feeling I have during racing (the only other alternative is to not go as fast on the bike and I don’t like that!)

2. If I’m serious about doing an Olympic distance, I’ll have to do the breaststroke.

Doing freestyle for an entire Olympic swim scares me enough that if my only options were that or not doing the race, I’d choose to not do the race. Doing freestyle makes me feel like I’m all alone in a watery world and it’s also harder for me to breathe calmly, especially after swallowing water or running into someone. I am glad that I now know how to do the front crawl (in case of a pool swim, like the Leadville Tri-It-High) but the breaststroke is definitely my most natural swimming method. Plus, I was actually faster doing the breaststroke. Seeing how sore I was after the Boulder Sunrise, I’ll definitely have to slowly transition back into the breaststroke. I’m still going to do plenty of the front crawl during practice, though, because I’m loving the definition in my arms!

3. I need to get me some Athlete’s HoneyMilk.

They were handing this out at the finish line and while I normally shy away from anything even remotely sugary for a good 3-4 hours after a race (even chocolate milk is too much), I decided to take a chance on this protein recovery drink. I’m glad I did! Not only did it not upset my stomach, the Honey flavor was delicious! I think I’ll buy some of this for after intense workouts and races.

What’s Next:

I think I have finally convinced Travis to do a triathlon! We just need to get him a road bike, some tri shorts, a swimsuit, and he’ll be set! (Sportsbasement.com, here I come!) So we may do a different race than the Leadville Tri, since that one is a pool swim and Travis would prefer to try his hand at open water. But I’ll gladly change plans if it means Travis will do a race!

I’ve looked for other Olympic distance triathlons in the Denver region and it appears that the Steamboat Springs Tri on August 28th is the only option for when I’ll be in town. So I’m still planning on that. I also created my new Olympic training plan last week:

{UBW stands for Upper Body Weights – though I might do some Lower Body Weights too. We’ll see. I adapted this training plan to come up with this schedule.}

This plan is subject to change, since I calculated that each week involves 7-8 hours of training – pretty much double what I have been doing. I’ll talk more about my philosophy of training in a different post but for now, I’ll say that I need to have a good balance that involves time with God and my husband. I’ve over-trained before and it resulted in me doing nothing but training, working, eating, and sleeping. Not again.

If I do need to cut back, I’ll do one long and one short workout of each discipline a week, plus one day of strength training.

Last but not least, I have decided to discontinue my triathlon training blog and merge all of my triathlon-related posts into this blog (note the tagline changed to “A Twenty-Something’s Thoughts on Life, Health and God). I started my other blog in 2009 because I felt like this blog’s focus wasn’t physical health, but spiritual health. But as my friend Cathy has been discovering and sharing with me, our spiritual health and physical health are intertwined. And because I love training for endurance races and believe that God has given me that passion, I want to try to show what it looks like to glorify God through personal excellence in a sport (and world!) that is so often rife with pride and selfish ambitions. (But I’m definitely a work in progress, so bear with me!)

Plus, it was too hard to maintain 2 blogs. 😉

That’s all for today!