Life’s obstacles do not define me, or faith precedes the miracle

There is a video out in the cloud ( wanted to add the link but still on the techie learning curve with that one and opted for finishing the blog over obsessing on the link) that is of me at my heaviest, trying to get into my sons lifted jeep. It is hilarious and I try and try and try to get into the front seat with more creative contortions and finally succeed in getting up there, only  I end up in there backwards.

I saw an obstacle, I set a goal, and when one method didn’t work, I tried again. I was persistent, creative and not afraid to laugh at my learning process. My son video taped it with my full permission. I wanted a record I could look at to remind me of how things really were, and well, because it was funny to be the person confuzzled by such a small challenge and figured it would make others laugh as well.

However, the real obstacle wasn’t the jeep, although that was what was the practical manifestation of the problem. The obstacle was a lifestyle focused on intake and excess of calorie consumption without disciplined expenditures, I was very fat and very out of shape.

I like running, but it is hard to run when your frame is bearing double its designed load and the support structure is weakened by disuse. I wanted to ride a bycicle, I liked the idea it looked fun, but I never learned as a child and I would full-on panic at sitting on a bike and lifting my feet. I like lots of outdoor activities but I was pretty inhaler dependent as well due to compromised breathing. I also really like food and it is easy to drop onto the couch, switch on a mechanism like the computer or TV that requires nothing of me but existence and a few finger pushes and consume addictively high calorie consolation for how hard it is to do what ever I am struggling with at the moment.

I would love to say that I suddenly had an epiphany that day I struggled to get into and addressed the real problem. I didn’t. I laughed at myself and made excuses for why I couldn’t change.

However last November when I moved to my new home I got on the scale and realized I was well on my way to adding a third persons weight to the two people I was already carrying on my frame and slowly began to make changes in how I ate and lived. I still did not have a concrete goal though and so my weight would go down a bit and up a bit and down a bit more and then up to the starting point.

I was also struggling with my health and depression again so I started rereading my go to people when I am tanking emotionally Kabat-zinn, Pema Chodron, Eckhart Tolle and remembered that to get somewhere one must have a destination. It was now May.

I have had completing a Triathlon on my bucket list for more than 5 years. However just “I wanna do a Triathlon” wasn’t enough to get it done. I picked a race date at the end of October and signed up. Now I had a deadline. I needed to find a place to swim, learn to swim, a bike, learn to ride the bike, and relearn how to run, and probably needed a trainer.

My personal obstacles were pedal neuropathy, physiologically reduced lung capacity, a now 237 pound body(I was on my way back down) on a frame meant to be 137, and a tendency to whine, some lower back and neck and shoulder issues. My liver wasn’t really happy with me either and I pretty much lived on Tylenol and Ibuprofen to keep moving through the bodily aches and pains.

And yesterday I met my goal.

The miracles along the journey were too many to even list or count from finding an incredible chiropractic practice through my friend Sara who were very willing to work with my limited finances (I did do a lot of over time and robbing Peter at first because the reduction in pain from going to Backfit of Gilbert was immense enough to know I needed the care), my daughter-in-law and son joining in and offering me not only the use of their pool but their side by side training support, same son and DIL and also Pat taking me to their gyms, the unexpected gifts of my bikes, my sons careful research and persistence in teaching me to ride the bikes, and the list goes on and on and on…

What I know today is life is full of opportunities to learn new skills, change old habits and focus on what works instead of what doesn’t. Wishing is a good first step. Then comes making a measurable goal. Next is making the effort, sweating the sweat, moving through the pain, believing anything is possible and somewhere along that road comes the miracle.

What’s up next for me…well continued training and an April race that is longer, where I will be even faster and stronger. And well, its November, which means Nanowrimo starts tomorrow and a 50,000 word novel will begin with one sentence.

After that, I am thinking maybe space travel.

Showed up, finished, took home a silver.

I woke up scared.

I rode to the event fighting fear that kept me on the edge of tears. My friends and family were there supporting me and telling me I could do it.

And then I was in the pool and they were counting down the time 3…2…1 go! And I kicked off and there was no more fear only breathing and swim strokes.

I did it.

I swam. I biked. I ran. Not fast, not well but better than before I started to train and I took fifth in my weight class (I am an Athena) and second in my age group. My daughter-in-law who trained with me, kicked my butt on times and got a bronze cuz there are fewer Slow Old Fat Triathletes than young thin ones like her. In my eyes she got double gold.

My swim time was pretty awesome for me. I did it in 8:36 (eight minutes, thirty-six seconds) much better than I have ever done in practice.  Next time will be better (and double the distance). As it was my first time all the people coming up behind me discombobulated me and I lost time letting the mob pass.

My eight miles on the bike was very slow, the first half of the four mile loop (2 miles) was a slight upgrade and I did the eight miles on my beach cruiser because I really want to take the mountain bike somewhere and get street tires and a check-up after its altercation with a car before putting it in a position of trust.  It was slow and hard going.  Coming around the first lap and knowing I was into the uphill again the excuse wheel began to spin, but there were my friends holding signs for me and cheering. I wasn’t about to let them or me down and just kept peddling.

My time was about what I expected. I predicted 85 to 90 minutes and completed it in 71 minutes 17 seconds. Again beating any practice times but really sloooooooow.

I used the beach cruiser partly cause of the needing to get the geared bike checked out, But also, and this was a big one, I am comfortable on it’s no gear and no power break turtle type solidness and fear was a HUGE part of what I was facing down in this whole triathlon. I have only been riding a bike, any bike, for a little over two months.  I need practice, practice, practice. I need to learn how to use gears and my hand breaks in a way that doesn’t throw me over the bike. I am glad that I took Bessie as there were times when the real competitors were woooshing by that Bessie and I’s sympatico natures kept me from succumbing to fear. The one time I did let fear take over the reins I had a small spill and spent a couple minutes walking my bike before I got back on and finished.

Coming into the transition area my left knee sharply announced it was done and I dismounted a good 100 or so feet before I was supposed to dismount.

My run was the thing most affected by my October falls and mishaps. Dawn was waiting for me as I came into the transition area and paced me the whole way (Mind you AFTER she had already completed the same thing at a dead run) My left knee was screaming four letter words at me by the time I finished biking and did not want to run, walk or really do anything that required it to flex or extend or bear weight. But Dawn was there right beside me  and quitting was not an option. I walked more than half of the run, so run time was 9:23. Still better than I predicted.

And guess what, I the Slow Old Fat Triathlete who in June of this year got breathless walking a mile, had never ridden a bycicle, and never taken a swimming lesson, then fell messing up her left knee Oct 3, got knocked down by her Golden retriever injuring her right knee on Oct 8 and THEN got hit on her bike by a car re- jacking her left knee again Oct 13, finished her race. (Yes, I am talking about myself in the third person.)

Better yet, I can’t wait for my next one.

So many thank-you’s to say: Rick, Dawn, and Phil Veatch who were all my trainers (Phil is the official trainer), Dallon as well, Jody and Steve, the staff at Backfit Chiropractic in Gilbert, Sara, Pat, Amie, Ken and Deena, the women in my training group, the nice lifeguard at the pool who got me the ice pack today, and others I know I am forgetting…I could not have done it without you.

..and also a special thank you to James Owen for the audiobooks that were the soundtrack for a lot of walking, running and stationary bike time the past few months.  You and my son Rick are the examples that motivate me to focus not on the obstacles I need to overcome but how I will accomplish my dreams.

Lots of love to all of you who have followed the first lap of this journey, and it ain’t over yet! 400 meter, 12 mile ride, 5 k is my next race and I plan to beat my times a lot on my way there.

So I am thinking a lot more training is in order.

But now its time to sleep.

P.S. If I can do it, anybody can!

What am I forgetting…

Transition bag is packed.

I am as ready as I am gonna get.

I can do the swim distance with minimal breaks and shooting for 10 minutes for the 200. Not a fast time just  fast time for me. The thought of all the other bikers riding beside, past and around me freaks me out a little. Remember, it took me from June to August to get both feet on the pedals and turning, since then I have had a couple spills and a bit of a tosser with a vehicle but my bike riding skills are still in their infancy. I envision safety and just completing. Time is not a factor I am considering, but realistically 1.25 hours on my cruiser is probably a good prediction.

The run at the end will be interesting as well since my knees and ankle are still only three weeks from said toss up but I will give it my best, warm up those crazy legs and cross the finish line smiling.

Thanks all you supporters! And thanks to rereading the email from Trifamily, I will actually get to compete, I almost forgot my number and my race belt but remembered it. Now I am off to sleep. G’night.

Tomorrow I go from Slow Old Fat “Try”Athlete to Slow Old Fat Triathlete…although less fat than I was! If nothing else I have gone from a size 22/24 pants to a size 16!

Its coming, its really coming

10 days from now I will swim 200 meters, ride 8 miles and run (walk?) half mile.  This morning I swam a 10 minute serpentine and barely made it through the field workout but I showed up and I have once again found my Zen place again of remembering that I started this whole thing to push my boundaries, move outside my comfort zone, and have fun! However I place, I am doing those things.

There is a term in Tibetan Buddhism “schempa” that describes what happened to my journey through training and let fear and ego move back in, I became attached to an outcome, it became about me and not about the process.

In this now I celebrate movement and effort and joy. My knee is bruised, my neck is healing and I have no idea how it will go next week. But I will be there, and I will give my best and I am once again excited about the race.

Back to what I know best about life,

“It’s not about me.

This too shall pass.

And the most  important words in the world are Thank-you”

14 Days and counting…

My “baby” who was born in 1984 so you do the math, completed his first Sprint Triathlon Saturday and placed 6th in his age group.  So proud of him. Dawn is training, training, training and will also make a good showing for herself.  I kind of feel like I started something, I hope its something we all keep doing, myself especially.

I have had a tough couple of weeks motivation and “mindset” wise as I have worked through three injuries. The first was a fall at a restaurant in a patch of super slick mud, the second was while running with my dog and came off a curb onto knee and wrist when said dog bolted after something in  the dark, and the third was just Thursday and involved my bike and a vehicle. On top of this the sudden temperature drop in the pool water I have allowed to be a HUGE deal.

I had almost lost (which for me means quitting cuz to me winning this just means showing up and crossing the finish line) and the race was weeks away.

So I really worked on getting into a better mindset yesterday while I was at work. I was gonna do my swim even though I had been in pain all day at work. After work I headed over to the pool and was hit with a blinding migraine on my first lap and almost passed out on my second. All kinds of possible disaster scenarios passed through my thoughts , I was wearing a helmet but had hit my head in my bike  accident and this was like nothing I ever experienced before, besides which I greyed out for a moment.

Pride wanted to stay and finish but good sense won out, drowning would make it hard to race. I have tried hard to keep my actions in line with the big picture while inwardly furious that I can’t stay on my training schedule. I had either been working or icing for 48 hours (My roommate Amie has been awesome by the way plying me with hot soup and ice packs.)

So I got out of the pool.  At that minute I was soooooo done.

The voice in my head knew that I was just a big loser and the universe was set against me succeeding as evidenced by all these things standing in my way, I should just quit trying, and at that moment I was sure my sons thought I was just a big baby whiner and more trouble than I was worth, blah blah blah…yes, I really do have a voice like that in my head when fear is my master.

Luckily that voice in my head is Full Of S***, and even more luckily I more quickly realize that.

So tonite my heart and soul bound and gagged the voice of fear and foolishness and instead played all the loving encouragement of my sons coupled with the awesome visit and moral support from two of my same-age friends who also believe life is still about living with gusto and I went out and ran.

yes I still have a bit of that headache, probably related to elevated BP, but my knees and ankle held out for the mile, I iced them when I got home while I wrote this; and i faced the fear from the fall and I took the dog with me to run this evening

and I feel one hundred percent better about everything.

Tomorrow I get back on the bike…

When Helen Came to Troy?

When Helen Came to Troy

Cassandra how did you greet the agent of happiness’ destruction,
The match to light the kindling layed by greed and pride?
Knowing as you saw her enter in your cities wall
That all you loved and valued would exit with her tide,
Did you offer drink and comfort; with proper manner welcome in
Tortured by your gifted prescience, knowing too, they thought you lied,
Why did you never learn to hold your tongue or when to close your eyes.

CC

Meditation with licking dog.

I actually have gotten rid of most of the poetry from that time, more therapy than art. I kept this one also because of its tie to someone i love, my little Lhasa Noiene.

Meditation with licking dog

Today
I found myself obsessed with the need of a new hat
A leather brown with brim and feathers
to match my boots
and be much more stylish
green velvet was my discontent
green velvet with its history
and unsimilar design.
Out of place, this hat.

“Ommm, ”

I breathed, in and out

and  tried again

“In my pictures
I look so old and fat,” I thought
(same pictures
last week that made me laugh and smile with the memories of joy and love and friendship
dancing on tables)
I hate the way I look
I hate my body, cut and scarred betrayer of my future
I hate…..
I hate…my hat!
It’s that stupid hat, how can I go another day carrying this stupid hat upon my head..

“Ommmmm” I breathe
in and then out and try again

The sign beside my altar says “Remember”
to blurry to read
My eyes are blind with tears
as I dream of hats and rum and lovers
that will keep this fear away
hold the Monday truths of medicine at bay
craving a thousand acquisitions
the hole grows deep and cold
I teeter at its brink…
A hat,
A new leather hat will save me…

“Ooommmmmmm”,
I breathe and try again
This time wet eyes closed
Love presses against my mudra hands
her worried cold and furry nose
Familiar
Grounding
A canine letter from my real Home.

Now I Remember.

Ommmmm
I breathe
No try,
I am

I am breath
I am here
I am peace
I am alive
I am now.
Light and whole and loved.
I breathe
and rise to pack my favorite velevet hat
for another day of Faire.

Remembering Now.