What’s gnu? And how I am learning to write in 200 words or less.

A gnu is a wildebeest or Connochaetes and they are ungulates of the African continent. I saw a wild one once, in Kenya, an experience I will never forget and long to repeat. Not actually repeat or recreate, I am not the same person I was then,nor is Kenya. I am not pining for the past, nor am I lost dreaming of a future where I am able to adventure in exotic locales while making a positive difference in other people’s lives.  But I do want to again be chased by Zebra’s and see what’s gnu. I am a modern woman, I want “new.”

Wanting something, in this case to see Africa again, and also to see Australia, New Zealand, India, and Antartica for the first time, to accumulate experience, is a form of craving therefore could be the cause of suffering according to the teachings of Buddha.(Christianity has a commandment about coveting what is not one’s own as do most other dharmas and dogmas, I’m just currently enthralled by Buddhism) Also according to Buddha, pain and suffering are an integral part of being alive. I get that, wanting what I do not have can be the source of discomfort. Discomfort is, well, uncomfortable.

Discomfort causes movement. Today in my morning meditation, that movement came at about 7 minutes. I  took a bit of meditation practice detour and can really tell, in October I could make it to 20 minutes before succumbing to repositioning, some who have trained can make the unimaginable hour(s) of stillness.

Movement of itself is not a bad thing, it just isn’t meditation. In fact moving is a wonderful thing. When I spend a designated portion of my day moving my legs to run or bike or swim my mood improves, I have less general pain, sleep better, concentrate better and generally like life more.  Mental movement is necessary for learning, eye movement for reading and my fingers are moving right now to write this blog.  Movement to avoid pain is a life saving reflex. Movement is the language of the body, and like words is glorious expression. ” But it comes to a little more, there where it is we do not need the movement, or the words,” to paraphrase Frost.

The New Year is the mischief in me and my challenge to myself and to anyone else listening to find there where it is we need the stillness and the silence.  Our culture is enamored with sound and movement and new and more are the drugs we use to avoid the emptiness of our inner worlds. But I can tell you, having been there myself, that the quiet empty of the inner landscape is just as vast and inspiring as the veldt and the gnu. Stillness is the necessary antithesis to movement, and silence can say volumes.

The universe has recently added a unique professional lesson in the value of brevity.  Today I had to write and article about an upcoming show at The Phoenix Art Museum about one of the most amazing Green artists currently blending eco dialogue with museum quality exhibitions, one Matthew Moore (www.urbanplough.com), in 200 words or less. This 200 words or less requirement is the same for any non-local art event regardless of its worth and I have been hard pressed to accommodate the minimalist word count, but I just did it, and well I believe. Which doesn’t actually mean it will get printed or published, because newspaper space, like human life, is limited.

And like a human life, the words written in a newspaper only make sense because of the spaces between the marks we know as letters and words.

So today I will move and speak and write, but I will also leave space and silence.

And that is what is gnu with me today.

 

 

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…

Ice, Ice Baby!

June 1, 2011. I couldn’t run a block. I had never ridden a bicycle or had a swimming lesson. June 1st was day one of this journey I am on, my goal was to try something ego challenging, that required effort and discipline and it had to be something fun and  completely different.

Anything athletic was about as different as I could get from my bookish existence. Also, and not surprisingly,  I was and am a BIG girl. Big girls still got game, I call my style of game, ” SOFT” (Slow Old Fat Try-athlete).

This pre-amble is to put in perspective my yesterday.  I swam 100 meters; four lengths together without break. I was panting and gasping when I was done but I did it.  Then I swam another 200 meters in lengths of 25; when I was done swimming I biked about 5 miles, and walked 5K. I am also trimming down, weighed in yesterday at 217 lbs. Not that the point was to be thin, but every ten pounds I lose is ten pounds I don’t have to drag through the water or around the track.

This morning I ran 1 mile, walked 2 more. Tomorrow after work I will go bike and swim.

I am tired and sweaty a lot.

I am also currently icing my back daily and rolling, rolling, rolling my legs and butt. I have a healing blister between my cheeks, ache places that never ached before and a very funky tan line but still am sooooo excited by my progress and that I am still engaged in an activity I have been told (and for years even told myself) just wasn’t for me.

So what’s my goal, well my dream goal is an open water/trail run triath event in an exotic local, but since I am still an EXTREME novice, Athena novice at that, below is the website description of the first event that all this swimming, running and biking is about. I will be doing the MINI ADULT. Not a bad beginning length. I will be in the Athena category and have no idea how many will be in my age group. I am not as much interested in taking home a ribbon as I am in actually completing the race. My DIL is a bit more competitive and I hope to see her take first in her group.

If I continue to practice, practice, practice I know I can complete the lengths needed. Now I am all nervous about transitions and set up and what to wear and eat. Gonna reread the book by Jayne Williams and just keep swimming…

By the way, anyone who wants to come participate in the race or cheer me and Dawn on, let me know, I say for this kind of thing…the more the merrier!!!!

I know I haven’t finished it yet, but I am farther than I could ever have believed possible a year ago. I wouldn’t have come this far without Phil Veatch, my trainer from Inspire Fitness;  the massage and adjustments from Backfit Chiropractic (Anne, Dr. Vogel, and Jacquie);  bike riding lessons and poolside encouragement from my local sons Rick and Dallon and my DIL Dawn; the special contribution of Steve and Jody; and of course my friends Pat, Sara, Anne, Angela and Amie who keep encouraging, clothing and believing in me regardless of what crazy thing I try now. (Also a small thank-you to James Owen and Wil Wheaton, not that they will read this, but it is there amazing writing I listen to when running, stretching and walking. Like Oprah and Glinda the Good Witch these two men keep me motivated and believing that I have always had the power.)

 

Brief Description

Tri-Family Racing presents The City of Mesa Halloween Adult & Youth Sprint Triathlon & Duathlon. Everyone can get in on the fun; …we have Youth & Adult divisions as well as Relay Team competitions.

Event Refund Policy

No refunds provided!

Additional Information

MINI ADULT TRI: Adults: 200 yd. Swim, 8 mi Bike, 1/2 mi Run
MAXI ADULT TRI: 400 yd. swim, 12 mi Bike, 2 mi Run
YOUTH (TRI ONLY): 100 yd. Swim, 2.5 mi Bike; 1/2 mi Run
MAXI DU: Adults: 1/2 mi. Run, 12 mi. bike, 2 mi Run

WHERE: Fremont Pool, 1001 N Power Road, Mesa ,AZ 85205 (Northeast corner of East Adobe Street & North Power Road)

WHEN: Youth triathlon approx. 7 am Adult Triathlon & Duathlon starts at 7:45am. ALL TRI-ENTRANTS MUST HAVE THEIR BIKES IN THE TRANSITION AREA NO LATER THAN 6:45 AM

AWARDS: Five deep in all Age & Relay team categories. All youth also receive a participant ribbon.

REGISTRATION: Registration Packet pick-up on Saturday October 29th is HIGHLY recommended, Registration packets and late registration will be available at Iron Gear Sports, 6655 E. McDowell road, Mesa, AZ 85215 (480) 396-4766 from 1pm to 5pm. (Suite 103, southwest corner of Power and McDowell)

FEES:
MINI ADULT TRI: $67 postmarked before October 15th $77 thereafter.
MAXI ADULT TRI or MAXI DU: $72 post marked before October 15th, $82 thereafter.
TRI RELAY TEAMS: $140 postmarked before October 15th $150 thereafter.
Youth Race TRI ONLY: $47 postmarked before October 15th $52 thereafter

RACE DAY ENTRIES ADD ADDITIONAL $5 TO LATE FEE! REG. IS LIMITED TO 500 ENTRANTS!

DIVISIONS:
Children’s Race Age divisions: 7-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14 yrs old (TRI ONLY)
Individual Male and Female: 15-19, 20-24; 25-29; 30-34; 35-39; 40-44; 45-49; 50-54; 55-59; 60-64; 65-69; 70+, Athena – Females 150+ lbs — Clydesdale – Males – 200+ lbs,
Relay divisions: Coed, All Female, All Male.

SPONSORS: Iron Gear Sports, Landis Cyclery, Adobe Images, Carlos O’Brien’s, M & J Trophies, Triple Sports., Hammer Gel, Adobe Graphics, Coffee’s of Hawaii, Tri-Family Racing,: Over $750.00 in merchandise, WOW !!!!!

Sanctioning

USA Triathlon is the national governing body for the sports of triathlon, duathlon, winter triathlon and aquathlon in the United States. Participation in a USAT sanctioned event means the event director has the proper permits in place, liability and athlete excess medical insurance coverage and the event plan has met the standard of organization required. USA Triathlon provides rules, guidance and governance to set the standard for safe and fair multi-sport races. For more information on USA Triathlon and fueling the multi-sport lifestyle, visit our website at http://www.usatriathlon.org.

Just keep swimming…

Thank goodness for Dora’s advice. May just have to pop in Nemo tomorrow while at work. The boys I take care of like the movie and that does seem to be my motto these days, "Just keep swimming." 

 
I kept telling myself that tonight, because I sooooo felt like quitting. I was there by myself, and tired and swallowing water trying to get the breathing down and a couple of buff and beered up guys were laughing at me from their chairs by the pool and I just wanted to grab my kick-board and goggles and go to my car and cry. 

I want to post something meaningful to somehow convey the highs and lows of the past four days, but just toooooo exhausted today in every way so no meaningful artsy writing, just a sketch of this weeks events . 

Besides the twenty-something testosterone bullies at pool side, the pool itself  was full of noisy children, with big blow up toys and no concept of space sharing or swim lanes so it was frustrating and inconvenient to do my laps (probably got a couple in just going around the kids).  I did however complete my assignment, barely.

I have been on the verge of tears off and on all week. The universe has surrounded me with lots of love and evidence that I am loved even as I plod along through my issues of too little money, too little time, and old, out of shape body. The emotional grief may be effecting my physical performance but I am certain that the physical exertion is mitigating this current emotional high tide, so that is one positive. There are a lot of others, most of them external.

 
On Tuesday night I had a lovely dinner with son, Rick, his wife Dawn and her dad; walked 4.5 miles with Rick and Dawn and then swam with Dawn, her mom and Rick. Barely finished my swim assignment that night. The Man threatened to lock me inside for the night. (I missed the last call, apparently cause I was in the water swimming laps). Rick also loaded Ubuntu on my laptop, and Rick and Dawn gave me an awesome Droid phone. I am a lucky mom and mom-in-law. 
 
Then  Wednesday at my house friendship was highlighted. I threw a Fusion Belly Dance themed party, including Stone Soup style food, a book discussion and an amazingly wonderful game of Truth and Dare. (I drank two glasses of wine that night and my weak liver hasn’t yet forgiven me, I won’t repeat that again for awhile)
 
Then Thursday morning was the training session. I was hung over from two glasses of wine (yes, I AM a weenie) AND a new participant joined the triath training session who can swim well. So not only was I sucking more than usual at swimming cause every time the panic started to rise with my face in the water, so did my stomach contents, but now I was doing it along side a stranger who really could swim.
 
Today was work. I love my job and the family that I work for as much as usual but even there it seemed I was batting like I belonged on the Diamondbacks not the Yankees.
 
Sometimes I am brilliant and inspired. Sometimes, I just breathe. This week my biggest accomplishments seem to be not quitting and not throwing up in the pool, and I guess all in all, that is something. 
 
So now I will go sleep so I can just keep swimming again tomorrow. I am grateful to still be able to at least do that.
 
Namaste World

The unexpected stretch

This blog is itself a stretch. It is unlike any other blog I have ever kept, or any other public writing (both personal or professional) I have ever done.

 
 For a while here this blog will host little poetry and few reviews. This blog will be about about stretching. Not about the Yoga stretching I have done all my life. (I think sometimes I keep doing it just cause my ego loves watching people’s reaction when an mature woman of my size can completely touch her toes). Nor  will it be about the stretching after a workout to keep muscles from tightening and tearing, although both of those stretches will be involved. Today’s blog is about stretching my "self", that thing below the ego self that has always embraced the easy ways, and only chosen to continue the things at which I was good. It is about pushing aside the self that avoided embarrassment and possible failure, and secretly still fears being ridiculed, and stretching the real "me" that loves to move, and run, and dance and play. 
 
This blog, and I don’t know how many in the future, are about identifying and publicly displaying the one area with which I am least comfortable. I will talk honestly about my experiments in the one skill set that has caused me the most embarrassment while I develop the one talent package I was least gifted with at birth. 
 
Today I am a 234 pound woman, over the age of 50 (no I am still not telling my age, over 50 is enough information and accurate info is hard to come by ;)), who is coordination challenged, barely makes ends wave, let alone meet, with a medical Sword of Damocles hanging over her head, and so today, I started training as a triathlete.
 
Yea, makes me wonder if I am crazy, too.

When I was growing up there were two kinds of people, athletes and non-athletes; those who got chosen for teams, and those like me who were only chosen to help people on those teams pass academic tests so they could play on those teams. My nicknames were "Claudia Klutz and Lydia Lump Lump", and those were the kind ones from my own family. The names called me by children had a lot to do with mispronunciation of my name and the fact that my center of gravity is large and located to the rear.  In a protective reaction I internally dubbed all sports stupid (except baseball but that is a whole different blog) and all sports participants my mental inferior.  I was just "too smart" to be part of that whole sweaty Jock jive through my teens and twenties. Then as my peer group moved from football and cheer-leading to Aerobics, Gyms and Spin class I was "too enlightened" to ever participate in the perfect body competitions. 

 
I will add that I was not a couch potato. In my late teens when I joined the millitary, women were just crossing the gender lines and I was the first woman to graduate as a Machinist Mate 3rd Class (Honor Graduate, of course). My military service did require me to pass PT tests and I lifted weights with some Marines so I could open, close, dismantle and repack some might large valves. I also swam (without any lessons or form) enough to pass the requirements, learned to jump out of planes (with a parachute), hiked with full pack, etc. I was never the best, in fact often the third or fourth worst in my unit, but since I was smart and not "the" worst, I survived without much harassment. I also will admit I liked the feeling of running, swimming, etc. But I never did it where someone could see, and probably laugh. 
 
Before the military I also took some dance and some fencing classes, all related to stage work I was doing. In these I was also never "good", but not the worst. Mostly not noticed, and I would do just the amount I needed to do to get the part, the certificate, the whatever…but most of the time I was mostly focused on not looking to stupid or klutzy, and after most of these classes I would go home and throw up from the stress and the strain.
 
I have always done yoga but as part of my private meditation practice. Again, I love yoga, just like I love swimming and running, but I do it poorly. I have been so embarrassed when I have attended a class, I have always dropped out of them after a few weeks.
 
No dropping out this time. That is part of keeping this blog. Knowing the enemy is a critical part of any campaign, and where sports are concerned, I am my own worst enemy. Telling others my commitment is what kept me "at it" to complete the 5K. And that was a lot less public,
 
I will complete a triathalon. I will face my fear of looking foolish, and stretch that authentic me that hides behind my gigantic joking ego, and most likely have a lot of fun and get some good stories doing it while also improving my odds of dodging that sword when it falls again.
 
I am not at all sure what directions this blog will take, but for now it is not about poetry or reviews. Unless mentioning that I found my awesome new trainer at Back-Fit is considered a review. If it is, then consider this a rave review of Back-Fit.  Through massage, exercise and adjustments my constant neck and back pain (and co- fatigue) has been brought down to intermittent bouts of discomfort and aha moments of "Wow, I was really in that much pain?" thanks to my care at Back-fit. Also thanks to going there I found a trainer willing to take this slow, fat non-athlete who has never had a swimming lesson, never ridden a bike and has never run more than a 5K and coach her into a (probably still slow and fat, but thinner and faster) tri-athlete. I am also very excited and honored to be joined in this adventure by my already much thinner and faster daughter-in-law. My goal first race is http://www.active.com/triathlon/mesa-az/the-city-of-mesa-iron-gear-sports-h…, the mini of course
 
Things to do…get goggles, kickboard, practice, practice, practice….
 
So here is the boring log part of my blog, a daily record of how I use my time, what I eat, what training I do, which some days may be all I got, but today is just the end tag of a whole lot of talking and refelecting.
 
Rose:0430
Meditate: 30 Minutes with Meditation Oasis podcast "Peace"
Breakfast: 0515  
                      12 oz brewed organic coffee
                      1 T local mesquite honey
                       2 T Organic Half and Half
                       1 package Kirkland Cinnamon Roll flavored Organic Instant Oatmeal
                        8 ozs Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
                         1 multivitamin
                          81 mg aspirin
 
Training: 10 push-offs side of pool
                    4 laps
 
Lunch: 0930
              1 Pumpkin Waffle
               2 eggs fried.
               32 ozs lemon water
 
I.75 hours at computer

Out to run errands. Driving, Parked away from places we needed to go into (partly for shade, partly for exercise) so some walking. 32 more ounces of water. 32 ounces of unsweetened Green Tea.
Chiropractic appointment and some stretching for back and neck PT

Dinner with friends at Sweet Tomatoes. HUGE freakin’ amount of raw veggies with a few caramelized walnuts, some sunflower seeds, 1 scoop of the Strawberry vinaigrette, 1 scoop of the Fat Free Ranch, a small sweet potato, one strawberry muffin, small portion of sugar-free strawberry mousse, strawberry lemonade to drink with LOTS of ice to let it water down (too sweet but tasty) and one warm chocolate chip cookie. Waaaaaay to many simple carbs in the dinner but good vitamins and fiber but YUM! Also quite sure I exceeded my days calories. Still I feel good about today.

Home at 1930. Dog care (teeth, ears, meds, water, food; too late for a walk tonight)
 
I have checked to see that I have a uniform ready. Time to do my  bedtime yoga and meditate again, then back stretches and into bed. Asleep by 2030.