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Jan. 13th, 2013

Leah Ironman Coeur d'Alene

Slaying demons and gittin' er done

Yesterday was the 50K out at Bandera.  I love Bandera; it is my favorite place in the world to run.  When I get in the car to drive out there, my soul is light and I have a big ol' shit-eating grin on my face.  Even when it's sucky, it's a great place to run.

This concept was tested yesterday.

I had a goal for the run.  The last time I'd done a race at Bandera was when I did the 100K in January 2011.  It was really an absolutely perfect day for me, even when the thunderstorms rolled in about midnight and I was cold, wet, and exhausted.  I ran strong, felt fabulous, and finished feeling like a champ.  And the even better thing was that I realized, at the time, that I was having a fantastic run. That's not a gift that we runners always get.  There are a lot of races where you realize, in hindsight, that you had a perfect day but not many where you are aware--in the moment--and so get to savor every minute.  My 100K at Bandera was fabulous.  The next month, I slipped and fell at Rocky Raccon, just 6 miles or so into the 100, breaking my ankle and taking me out of running for...well...Bandera 2013 was my first 50K since then and my first time to race back at my beloved HCSNA.  So I had a pretty modest goal; I was going to shoot to meet or better my 50K split from 2011.  That day, I'd come into the halfway point at my 100K in 8:30, feeling incredible, barely tired, and excited about doing the loop--another 31 miles--a second time.  It seemed logical to aim for that finish when I was going to be racing the distance but with less fitness.  As always, finishing while feeling good (and being healthy) was the understood top goal, especially since the 50 miler at Rocky Raccoon in February is my true 2013 goal.  With that run just 3 weeks away, Bandera was truly to be a long, supported training run rather than a race.  Still, when I pin on a bib, there's always a time goal.

I couldn't have asked for worse conditions for the 50K.  I am a cold weather runner who loves a start temp in the 30s, an overcast day, and dry air.  What I got yesterday was a freaking hot and humid day.  I think start temps were in the 60s with 100% humidity.  The drizzle was constant, the fog so heavy that it was impossible to see the view from hill tops.  The only plus to this was that wearing my shorts was a no brainer and my arm warmers came off in no time (though for some odd reason, I clutched them in my hand THE ENTIRE RUN).  I knew I had to keep my salt tabs up and, thankfully, I'd packed enough for two each hour for 8 hours.  What had me worried was mud.  I'd opted to wear my La Sportivas as I LOVE the grippy bottoms and hard toe kick for the rocky conditions in the HCSNA, so I'd planned for some slipping from the get-go.  However, slipping has been my fear, my demon, ever since that patch of ice wiped me out at Rocky.  I'll say it:  I was scared to run in slippery conditions.  As we walked to the 50K start that morning, I had fear in the pit of my stomach.  My new goal became to confront my demons and run the race.

The first 10 miles of the 50K route at Bandera are quite technical, starting off with Cairn's Climb (which, in the dark and fog, I really didn't even recognize), followed by some of the bigger climbs of Boyle's, Sky Island, and Ice Cream Hill before you roll into the first real aid station at Nachos.  The start of the run at Cairn's and Boyles were scary for me because they were mostly rock coated with a "frosting" of chocolatey-looking slippery mud, the kind where you could see the slide marks from the shoes of those ahead who'd skated over them.  Add to this steep uphills and downhills, three-pounds of sticky soil attached to my shoes, and the fastest of the 25K runners catching up and needing to pass and navigation was worrisome.  But I made it and, by the time we got to the more caliche and karst-filled segments over at Sky Island and Ice Cream Hill, I was actually running--really running--the downhills.  It felt glorious.  I grabbed a banana and moved on, thinking ahead to shifting gears and doing more running in the relatively flat sections between Nachos and Chapas Aid Stations, miles 10-16.

That section of the run is pretty much non-existant in my mind, other than I thought I should be running more and that I realized I was working 'way too hard for where I was in the course.  Miles 10-16 should still feel like I'm fresh and settling into a groove.  Instead, I was already counting steps to keep my turnover up and using other runners as motivation ("I will not let annoying-voiced woman catch up to me").  I was thankful that, while the day was hot, it was still somewhat overcast and I hoped that this would last.  I rolled into Chapas and was thankful to see Fritos.  I got Coke in my handheld, which is always a magic elixir for me during a race though, typically, it's something I would've saved for later.  Dire times call for desperate measures.  I was looking ahead to the fields and easier running; I thought that perhaps I could make up enough time that my 8:30 finish was still a possibility.  WRONG.

The wheels pretty much came off somewhere in here, though I didn't quite realize it at the time.  I couldn't quite seem to shift into more running like I thought I should.  My feet were hurting, which I knew was due to the incredible amount of crap that had collected on them and the trails in the fields were full of more chocolate-covered, slippery rocks.  I was back to Frankenstein shoes with clods of mud and picking my way.  I decided to sit down on a rock and take a foot break; I shook the rocks out of my shoes, peeled back my socks, wiped off the grit, applied a layer of Body Glide, and felt refreshed.  NOW I was going to run.  Yeah...well, the sun came out and the fields were hot.  I could see Crossroads in the distance but, of course, we run away from it and then come back.  I realized that my fingers were incredibly swollen and my stomach felt painfully bloated.  This meant my salt was low and, sure enough, I could feel it crystalized in the sweat on my face.  I upped my Salt Stick number to 3 per hour, which seemed to help.

I will admit that thoughts of quitting had begun to creep in.  I put the negative thinking down to lack of food.  When I came into Crossroads (mile 21), I was a mental mess. Friends helped me to refill my bottle with my liquid nutrition; I grabbed more Fritos (most of which I managed to drop as I walked out of the aid station) and a cup of Coke.  [As a side note:  I did not stop at any aid station long enough to note the time.  Because of my food allergies, I pretty much carry everything I need with me and the few things I can eat are bananas, Fritos, and Coke.  It makes aid station stops really quick and I avoid that dangerous pitfall of lingering.]  From this point on, nothing resembling running was happening with me.  In a good section, I managed my Mountain Troll Shuffle, a sort of intense power walk; in a bad section, I walked.  My left ankle, the one I'd broken, was on fire and every step down was painful.  Whatever bounce I'd had had been worn away in the earlier segments.  Ruefully, I noted that some of the best trail conditions were before me.  If I'd had anything left, I'd have been running.  I thought some more about quitting:  What exactly was I hoping to accomplish by beating my body up?  I also came to a deep realization--I regret trying the 100 at Rocky.  My original plan had been to do the 50 miler at Rocky as my goal race but I'd procrastinated and the race filled, so I'd signed up for the 100K at Bandera (what's 13 miles more?).  It was because Bandera had been such a stand-out race that I decided to go for the 100 miles at Rocky.  Somehow, this thought bubbled up and crystalized for me as a trudged along the trail that would lead me back to Crossroads for a second stop.  For the last two years, I'd been saying I had no regrets but the honest truth was I did regret it.  Somehow, that felt important to recognize.  And I was angry, angry that I was having this crap day and angry that I'd cost myself 2 years by being greedy for that 100 mile buckle.

So it was this big, hot, emotional (and limping) mess that rolled into Crossroads Out (mile 26) to be greeted by my friend Amy Bush, who looked fresh as a daisy from her 50K.  She told me she'd come to check on me and there I came.  She walked with me a bit and said several things that were important, though for the life of me I can't remember exactly what they were other than, "Stay strong."  This is what I love about people who've been there, done that:  they KNOW what you need to hear.  Now, this is not to say that I left Crossroads Out and found new energy and flew along the trails.  Uh, no.  In fact, the moment Amy was out of sight, I began to cry.  Not little tears but from-the-gut heaving sobs.  And then I told myself to SHUT UP.

I believe I was somewhere in 8:30 range here and I had 5 miles to the finish.  I'd only gotten slower and slower; now I was at a hobble, and I began to wonder if I was going to finish in the daylight.  It had never occurred to me that I might end a 50K in the dark. This pushed me onward and the thought that I had my last hard climb before me was actually motivating as well:  "Lucky is the last hard thing I have to do," I repeated over and over.  I was almost giddy with relief when I saw the hill before me and, when I crested to the top, I broke into a big smile and said (outloud), "This is the last hard thing I have to do."  Except that I'd forgotten I'd have to come DOWN Lucky.  Normally, this is not an issue.  I know how to run down Lucky and actually like to do this.  While I'm not a fast runner, I do well on technical sections and relish a down hill.  However, it was slick with mud, I was exhausted, and my ankles (both of them, by this time) were shot.  Five people passed me as I inched my way down Lucky's backside.  Once down, I was racing sundown. I had nothing left to dig into on a segment that I know like the back of my hand and enjoy.  Movement was purely that mental death march.  One of the lead 100K runners (finishing, I might add, twice what I was doing before) passed me and, after asking if I was ok, said, "It's only a half mile to the final aid station."  A half mile has never felt so long.  That is, until I got to the aid station, which is a half mile from the finish; that additional half mile felt like a 100 years.  But there it was, it was still daylight, and I was done.  10:18, a 50K personal worst by hours.

At the time, I was angry, upset at my finishing time, and in pain.  I just wanted to get the hell out of Dodge, lick my wounds, and take a hot bath.  This morning, though, I have a whole different outlook. That was an important finish for me.  I slew the slippery dragons--hell, if I can finish THAT, what can't I do on my "bum" ankle?  And the ankle isn't "bum"; it's healed, though maybe still a bit weak, and not a legit excuse.  Yesterday was hard for people whose ankles had never been broken. There's no crutch there for me to use.

Was it physically worth it?  I think so.  I am hobbling a bit but the more I move, the better I feel. I'll take care of myself and get rest.  I had a hell of last long run, what with 10 hours on my feet, which is a good thing. Huntsville State Park is much easier terrain. I'm looking forward to that 50 miler in 3 weeks. 

Nov. 19th, 2012

Leah Ironman Coeur d'Alene

It's been way too long

I was thinking about my blog over the weekend and realized that I missed writing in it.  I've let it go too long...there's so much stuff that I've neglected to write about that I really should have.

Ironically, it was the blogging I was doing at Formula 1 that made me think of this blog.  It's not that hard to sit down and dash out a quick update.  It doesn't have to be all that fancy or in depth.  It's a lot like maintenance runs:  you just need to do it to keep those skills up.

I went a whole week without running.  That's not like me, but I can't remember the last time I've worked so hard at a job.  Not because my bosses are slave drivers (they aren't) but because I truly love what I'm doing.  It was thrilling and exciting to cover that race, to chase down stories, compile data, be on the very cutting edge of a big sporting event as it unfolds.  That's the stuff I really like to do.  Sometimes, it's easy to get lost in the tedium and miss the fun stuff.

The track was tough this morning.  My body felt really creaky and totally polluted from all the complete crap food I've eaten over the last week.  Ugh.  The week of Thanksgiving is not a notoriously good one to purge one's diet.  Sigh.  I'm going to try not to be in a world of hurt by Christmas when it comes to my weight.  I've got too many goals to work on, none of which benefit from extra pounds.

May. 9th, 2012

Leah Ironman Coeur d'Alene

More adventures of the comeback trail

Despite my best intentions, I've allowed a lot of time to pass since my last entry.  Tsk, tsk.  But so much is happening--and so fast!--that I'm having a hard time keeping up with the living, much less the recording.  

There are worse problems.

Since Hell's Hills, I've done two more events (The Maze 30K and Pandora's Box of Rox Trail Marathon).  Yeah, I went from a 25K to a 42K in one month.  So it's probably not surprising that there was some truly ugly running mixed in with some stellar efforts.  However, I can honestly say that EVERY experience yielded positives and I learned quite a bit about myself, ego, and recovery.

Here are the full details on The Maze 30K and Pandora"s Box of Rox Trail Marathon.Collapse )

Apr. 8th, 2012

Leah Ironman Coeur d'Alene

Conditioning is needed

Yesterday, I did the 25K out at Hell's Hills.  It's a trail race out in Smithville at a mountain bike park called Rocky Hills Ranch.  This same race was my first ever trail race back in '05.  I ran a 3:10 that day.  Since then, I've not done another 25K, though I have done many, many races that have multiples of 25K.  However, I am on the come-back trail and this race was to be a supported long run in my rebuild for distance.

Yesterday started out with some nerves and so I was glad to have company; I'd hitched a ride with my friend Cris.  Even better--once we got there, we ran into a whole bevy of girlfriends and we all promptly set up our chairs together.  I had really, really, REALLY been missing this part of the whole trail race experience.  Because of the time involved and the multitude of distances usually offered, trail events are much more sociable than road racing.  People set up impromptu aid stations, which turn into little sociable seating areas for recovery post-race. And it just so happened that many of my friends for a variety of reasons were doing one of the "baby" distances, the 25K, just like me.  All was right with my world.

When the gun went off at 7AM, I immediately felt like I was working too hard.  It's a single track, twisty trail, and it bottlenecked quickly.  I hate being stuck with a bunch of people.  You either get pushed to run too fast to keep up with the group or you wind up going too slow, waiting for an opportunity to pass.  I'm one who likes to be running pretty much alone in the woods.  My friend Marcia was up ahead, and she checked her faster pace to hang back with me.  The group eventually spread out, and the two of us had the trail mostly to ourselves.  My legs felt heavy and I was moving into the "beat-up" zone, where that little voice starts in on just what it is that I'm not doing well.  Marcia and I began to talk, and within minutes the run had turned from a crappy race performance into lovely trail time with a buddy.  Marcia saved my day.  While I never felt completely bad, I did feel slow and I had to work to focus on the fact that this was my long run, not a race, so there was no need to beat myself up about pace.  It was in fact my longest distance to date, on either road or trail, and my ankle began to protest in the last few miles (especially when we hit The Grind and The Wall, two steep, short climbs that merely pointed out that my strength in that side is still lacking).  By the time we came into the finish, I was ready to be done.  Time: 3:57.  Ouch.

Had it not been for the awesome camaraderie out there, I'd have been upset with the results.  But I got so much loving support from everyone I saw that there was no way I could pout or complain.  I got an arm around the shoulders from Joe with a "good to have you back out here," not to mention great laughs and conversation from my buddies.  One of the best moments was coming into an aid station full of friends I hadn't seen in awhile.  For the first time in about a year and a half, I felt a part of things.  And I got what I consider to be the ultimate compliment; my friend Stephanie Huie asked me to pace her at Cactus Rose in her first 100-miler this October.  

I have a lot of conditioning to do.  My plan is to do the marathon distance at Box o' Rox in a month.  Again, the race will be my longest run, so I merely need to get to 21 miles before May 5.  There's no taper, just a need to appropriate space long runs and recovery.  I have to remind myself that the time won't be pretty or anywhere near what I've done at a trail marathon before--I am simply working endurance at this point, with the idea that, as I continue to condition and build, the speed will eventually come back (especially as more injury weight comes off).  To even begin to put speed into play here would be too much, too fast.  I think my short runs on the road will have to suffice as speed work for the time being.

I have my big race at the end of June, a 2-day run around the Isle of Wight with the Seckers, my wonderful super ultra running buddies who regularly tackle countries and continents.  The first day is 37 miles, while the second day is 31.  Wouldn't have been a worry at all for pre-injury Leah.  However, I have to keep in mind that it was just the end of November that I ran 5 miles without having to take walk breaks, December before I could do back-to-back runs, January before I finished the 10-mile loop comfortably, and February before I covered 13.1.  I've worked up to 4:00 on my feet since November without set-backs, so I just have to continue to be careful.  Better to be undertrained than to hurt myself.  The beauty of the race is that many people will be walking, which means I can absolutely run and walk if I have to, so I've been working up my walking as well.  I feel pretty optimistic about getting ready for this.  In any event, it will be a lovely time with friends in a beautiful setting hanging out all day on trails.  

Apr. 2nd, 2012

Leah Ironman Coeur d'Alene

Runner as reader

I wrote an AFM FitBlog post this morning about Micah True's death .  I came home this evening and immediately wanted to pull out my copy of Born to Run to refresh my memory on Caballo Blanco, as True was also known.  This is the crappy part of moving...I can't find my copy.  It must be in a box in storage, one of the many books that I haven't quite gotten around to unpacking yet.  And I'm too tired to go there, dig through boxes, and find it.  So I won't be rereading Born to Run tonight.

Books are like old friends; they are very comforting to me.  I reread my favorites over and over again.  I had originally borrowed a copy of Born to Run from my running buddy, Lindsey, who insisted I needed to read it when it first came out.  I fell in love, not with the idea of barefoot running (I like shoes) but with the way the author talked about running and how he fell in love with being out on the trail.  That was true to me, and so I had to buy my own copy in order to highlight and put stars by special quotes.

While I was looking for this book, I came across my copy of Going Long: Training for Ironman-Distance Triathlons by Friel and Byrn.  I had to laugh because my highlighter was still stuck in there, just as though I'd put it down yesterday instead of, oh, almost four years ago.  There are sticky notes in with my chain ring size and various miscellaneous bits of notes or figures stuck on pages throughout, as well as a Post-it on the front with instructions along the lines of "swim smart, ride hard, and run tough" (I can't remember the exact wording but you get the drift).  The book was my constant companion while I was training for IM Coeur d'Alene.  I shake my head whenever I remember one friend who summed up the de facto triathlete Bible as "oh, he just says you need to work on the bike."  Going Long was a wealth of information.

Just a few weeks ago, I found out that my childhood copy of A Wrinkle in Time had somehow accidentally been put into the discard pile and disappeared.  I'm not exaggerating when I say there were tears.  I parted with some 10 boxes of books, and those were the books I weeded out AFTER we moved; the number does not include the books that gradually left as I packed up the house in order to move.  People who know me and have come to the new house have asked, "How did you get rid of all those books?"  It was hard.  But some of it was fun; my daughter and I went through my art books and she made a list which she sent to her art major friends, who eagerly called dibs. It's easy to give away a signed Nic Nicosia book when you know it will be appreciated.  It's also easier to give away books when you know they're going to help someone; I sent many boxes of books to a friend for her German Short-Hair Pointer Rescue garage sale.  

I'm working on a book.  It's been dormant for a bit but I've been inspired by a friend who has vision and an ability to help take an idea to fruition.  One of these days, I hope to have my book out there in the world.  And I hope it makes it into the "must keep" pile.

Mar. 28th, 2012

Leah Ironman Coeur d'Alene

It's been forever (or 6 months)

I'm in the process of joining the digital age by joining Twitter (Lord help us all), and there was a space in my profile for a link to my blog. Hmmmm...I remember this.  I used to be pretty regular in my updates but, between moving and landing a new job, "Enjoying the Journey" fell by the wayside.  So I think it's time to blow the dust off this thing, stir the crickets in the corners, and get back to it.

As part of my job at Austin Fit Magazine, I get to do a lot of writing.  Mostly, it's quite a bit of fact-based, relatively invisible stuff.  Sometimes, though, it's personal; I have a piece in the upcoming issue that touches on my injury and recovery. When Melanie (our editor-in-chief) asked me to write it, I was hesitant.  It felt a little indulgent to write about myself in a print magazine.  So I tried to step back a bit and focus on the broad picture, using my personal experience merely as a framework to discuss the more universal concepts behind my particular experience.  (I'm being a little cagey because the issue isn't quite out yet--the April issue comes out any day now!)

Still, writing for a magazine is not like writing for your blog.  There's an assumption that the people who come to this blog are interested in my personal experiences, that all reading are simply dying to hear about my last run or the way I struggled over the pounds I gained while not training or just how I managed to snag another grand adventure.  It makes writing about those things feel safe.  But that's an illusion, isn't it?  There's no more guarantee that anyone reading this isn't rolling his eyes, exclaiming, "Oh, come ON.  You've got to be kidding?  Can you spell n-a-v-e-l g-a-z-i-n-g?" than there is with the random print audience.  Haters gonna hate.

My wonderful Ironman coach Amy Anderson led me to this blog as a training tool, a way to connect with the rest of the (rabid) Ironman-Austin community.  I think I'll pick it back up not just a sports training tool but also as a work training tool, another way to connect with the people "out there" who, like me, love Austin, fitness, and the words and stories that go along with all of it.  

Nice to see you again!

Sep. 30th, 2011

Cropped bike at Longhorn

Seems like forever

It's been over a month since I last posted; it feels like forever.

We're weeks away from moving. I'm doing the hard things now, like getting rid of some favorite furniture and sending my piano off to a friend for "babysitting" until my daughter is in a stable enough living space to house it. I'm not one who is really attached to things, but some things are harder to set aside than others. The kids' bedrooms are empty; the only things in there are in transition--either leaving for good or moving with us. Our bedroom is pretty bare (and will be extremely bare once the furniture set goes to a new home). Kitchen cabinets are empty except for what we use right now. The storage unit is full. I warned my son that this house will look very empty when he comes home in another week.

I've been busy with some new responsibilities with Austin Fit Magazine, helping new editor-at-large and friend Melanie Moore with writing and editing as they transition under her leadership. I love it. It's tons of fun, extremely stimulating, and something that I hope becomes permanent.

Running...well, I've been up and I've been down. Over the last month, I progressed to running 3 days a week (once on the road and twice at Lady Bird Lake) for up to four 7-minute intervals. And then, last week, I had a setback. My ankle announced "NO" and I made a trip in to see my wonderful PT, Christine. I thought I'd been reading my body but no, I'd been pushing a bit too hard and ignoring some subtle (well, they were subtle to me) signs that I was doing too much. Signs like achiness and stiffness in the morning, general soreness, and light swelling. (Things that most of us as runners tend to ignore; think of all those runs where the first mile feels like hell and every other mile is great.) My hilly neighborhood road route was too much, even though I was feeling great while running. I got wild and crazy and ran back-to-back two days in one week after I got stuck at home, waiting for a delivery and missed my regular run date--nope, not good at all. My ankle swelled horribly, there was a painful "snap" while walking, and so I've been sidelined and put back in the compression sock until Tuesday. And then, regression; I'm back to four 4-minute intervals twice a week.

I posted on facebook recently that recovery is the hardest training I've ever done, and I mean it. It's such a frustrating mental exercise. It's hard to reconcile what I'm allowed to do with what I want to do with what I used to be able to do with where I want to be in the future. This process is very lengthy, and there are very few "positives" to celebrate along the way because everything feels like less than before I was hurt. And now it looks like there's not even a very linear progression of improvement to count on. The irony is that I have my setback right after the first week where I began to feel normal, normal in running and schedule and how my body felt. Christine tells me this is good, that it shows we're pushing the edge of what I can do. Sigh. I can't wait for the day when it's my spirit, not my ankle, that determines "the edge."

I allowed myself 24-hours of pity party (and my walking partner Dr. Stephanie sure got an earful of it), so that's done. I think I'll take my bike in for a cleaning and tune-up next week and start hitting the veloway for a little something different. I need a schedule change up, something to do other than aqua jogging and walking on those non-running days. And I'm really looking forward to all the flat, new running routes that will be outside my front door in just 3 weeks.

Aug. 22nd, 2011

Leah Ironman Coeur d'Alene


Some weeks seem to attract important events.  I had a doozie of a week last week.

On Monday, August 15, we closed on the sale of our house of almost 15 years.  It's the house that has seen everybody's prom pictures, numerous homecoming dinners, and countless birthday celebrations; lamented the passing of beloved pets (dogs, cats, fish, firebelly toads); been a workspace for several jobs and seen us through a year of unemployment;  taken us through elementary, middle school, and high school and 2 kids' worth of college classes; it's been our home since my 18-year-old was 4.  Right now, we are renting back from the new owners until they can move in, which is November 1.  We had a dream experience, thanks largely to our fabulous realtor, Cindy Niels, who helped us prep, priced it right, and worked tirelessly to show it.  It had never occurred to us that everything would work out so perfectly, even in our wildest dreams.  The new owners love all the same things about the house that we did and they have a brand new young family.  I'm so happy that there will be kids enjoying this great home again.

That afternoon, my son and I made a trip to UTSA so he could take a Chemistry placement test.  He knocked it out of the park, and it was a great topper to the day.

On Wednesday, I got my "return to running" program at PT.  For the next 2 weeks, I'm working on my own, doing the strength and flexibility exercises that I was doing at PT.  In addition, I'm running!  Yes, it's short intervals (right now, I'm doing 4 x 3 minute intervals, with 2 minutes of walking recovery inbetween)...and it's going to stay that way for quite some time.  It will take me 12 weeks to get to my 40 minutes of solid running which will completely cut me loose to train as I see fit.  Until then, I'll go back in a couple of weeks for an evaluation to see how all this is progressing.  It's absolutely fabulous; I sweat during a workout!!  My PT, Christine, is whipping my ankle (and the rest of me) back into shape.  I went today to do my workout on my own and it felt marvelous.  I even did bouncy turns on the Bosu ball even though it wasn't on my list of things to do....shhhh...don't tell Christine....

That night, we had all the family in town over to our house for a so-long dinner for our boy.  We all talked about how it was most likely the last time we'd congregate together at Sophora Cove.  Sure, there will be a couple of things here and there before we move in October, but the odds that either of our away kids would be home are low.  This leaves our oldest daughter and her long-term boyfriend, who live here in Austin, to bear the full brunt of parental attention.  

To end the week, we took our youngest child to college at UTSA on Friday, August 19.  The hardest moment for me was leaving the house, knowing that he would probably never come back to it.  Another challenge was that he had to pack to move to college, pack to move to the new house, and pack for storage or get rid of stuff.  Now, both kid rooms (the big room that held both our girls as they grew up and our son's room with his Dallas Cowbody colored walls) sit virtually empty.  I have a little bit of work still to do in each but it is as though all of our children are gone--  which, in truth, they are.  It was a smooth move-in for the youngest (clothing disaster averted on I35 and roommate check-in awkwardness totally dispensed with) and he even managed to get into the Chemistry class that he wanted after drops had been completed.  Last we heard, he'd been to a welcome dinner, met new friends, and bought his books.  The fact that we haven't heard anything in the last couple of days is a good sign.

Between a "real" workout, closing out the house situation, and wrapping up the college process for the youngest, I feel as though a thousand-pound weight has been lifted off of me.  I don't think I really had any idea how stressed I was until significant chunks of my load fell away.  Sure, there's tons of stuff left to do but it's just moving stuff around.  I'm only getting better and I'll only be running more.  And it's now up to my boy as to what successes he chooses to have at school.  Exciting times.

In the meantime, the hubby and I are joking that our to-do list for next weekend is 1) learn French, 2) go sky-diving, and 3) get a tattoo.  Life is good!!

Jul. 26th, 2011


someone I admire

 This is my training journal, so I try to keep my entries to running (or lack of running and rehab).  But so much of what I do in running and training is tied in with life in general that the waters get a little murky at times and something more "life" related will make a splash I can't ignore or leave unaddressed.  This entry is really about setting goals...and how can any of us train without successfully setting goals?

Last night, I had the great honor and privilege of going to a cocktail party hosted by a dear friend who is launching her first book.  I've know Patti for more than 20 years; we go 'way back before her kid was born and before 2 of mine were around.  We met randomly through a mutual friend who wanted to put together a Bunco group (remember that '80's dice game that was really an excuse to hang out with girlfriends and drink?  Now it's called "book club.")

Because many of us were strangers to one another, our friend had us go around in a circle and introduce ourselves, tell a little something about who we were and what we did.  I don't remember exactly what Patti said, but she was certainly writing and freelancing and I distinctly remember thinking to myself, "Wow.  I'd like to do what she does."  We became friends over many evenings of dice and drinks, shared books, babies, interest in art, you name it.

Patti was my mentor into freelance writing.  Everything I know about being a successful freelancer and professional came from Patti, whether she simply modeled behavior or out-right instructed me.  Her help and guidance over time have been invaluable.

Several years ago, Patti announced that it was time for her to write a book on networking.  She wanted to take the things she'd learned as a freelancer, successful businesswoman, and consummate networker and parlay that into her new business: selling her book, speaking to folks eager to learn, and sharing with others her professional knowledge.  We were at a conference and she made a pledge to one day present her own book there.

And by God, she's done it.  She has produced a wonderful book; she's already moderated a panel of authors in discussion; she's speaking at various events about networking; she's selling her book.  I've watched her work purposefully and steadily to become exactly the person she wanted to be, doing the things she dreamed about doing.  I cannot express how proud I felt last night as she mingled among her supporters, signing copies of her book.

If you think about it, what Patti has done is not so very different from executing a successful race plan.  She spent a lot of time deciding what outcome she wanted and she took the steps to achieve it.  She invested in years of training to get to the start line.  What she did during her race was fueled by good decisions made from experience and keeping her eyes on the greater prize.  On the off days, she persevered because she was motivated by the rewards at the end to overlook pain in the process.  Patti visualized her success at every step.

I admire her so.  Watching Patti navigate this process has shown me that what keeps me from my own successes is ME.  If I can set goals, plan strategies, and successfully execute a race plan, then I can surely do the same with a life plan.  What is the difference?  Nothing but desire.  And sometimes, the very thing you need is that wonderful person who dares, dreams, models, and goes first....

Jul. 23rd, 2011

Leah Ironman Coeur d'Alene

Great day

 Yesterday turned into one of those totally unexpected great days.  The kind where everything seems to go right.

The very best thing was my physical therapy.  Over the last few weeks, I've felt that something about my recovery turned a corner; the walking is better; the swelling is less; I feel more and more like myself at every juncture.  When I went in yesterday, I was very pleased to be seeing my regular therapist, Christine, again (we'd both been on vacations for the last couple of weeks and so missed one another).

She did some testing with ankle raises and told me I'm at about 70% right now.  At 80%, I get to start incorporating running into my routine.  While I didn't comment on it, I did make a mental note that, with this number, I probably wasn't going to get to run at the end of the month as I'd hoped.  Oh, well; I set that aside as Christine briskly moved onto other new things.  She had me bump up my speeds on the treadmill during my side-to-side and backward walking...which meant I had to incorporate a bit of hopping into the motion.  Now, it may seem a small thing to you, but it's been quite a while (6 months) since I've been "airborne" in any capacity.  Hopping says progress.  You can't run without being airborne.  This was simply thrilling!  So I had a new speed PR on the treadmill...I've met my max speed on the Newton walking forward (3.8), and I've gone beyond side-to-side (from a 1.8 to 2.0) and backwards (from 2.0 to 2.4) all at full body weight.  I actually worked up a little sweat AND breathed a bit hard--nirvana!  I was grinning like a total loon.  This alone would've made the day a good one.  But there was more to come.

Christine had me get on a piece of equipment called "the Reformer"--nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!--which would allow me to essentially jump from a prone position, relieving my ankle of some 50 pounds of body weight.  First, I jumped with both feet in order to get the motion down.  It was like being a kid on a trampoline or in a jump-up.  So fun!  I was laughing and having a blast.  Next, she had me jump on the good leg only, my right one.  Piece of cake!  And then it was time to jump with only the bad one, my left ankle.  And it was funny; there was this momentary "oh shit" moment.  It was hard to take the first jump.  Total fear factor (irrational, I know, but that doesn't make it any less real) that something would go horribly wrong, that my ankle would collapse, that arrows of pain would shoot up my leg, that sort of thing.  I said as much to Christine, who told me that fear was normal and expected and that's why we were doing it here first...just try.  So I jumped.

It's hard to do justice to the feeling of pure joy that washed over me when it was just fine.  Nothing hurt.  Nothing was screwed up.  It just felt a bit stiff and unwieldy, kind of like it needed to "wake up" and then it was fine.  It was bliss.  It was heaven.  I did not want to stop jumping.

There were other new, challenging things to do but that was the big break-through.  It felt like I'd been given a big gift, and I hope I accurately conveyed to Christine just what a wonderful moment that was for me.

The rest of the day was filled with other fantastic things.  I went by the French Place house and found that they had started work on the outside trellis, which was a total surprise.  My hubby got back from his trip and joined me there, and we wound up having an unexpected late lunch date at El Chile, one of our favorite places.  That evening, we had a family get-together at the house for dinner (everybody but the middle child, that is, who is still working at camp).  And all of the good things for the rest of the day were surrounded in this wonderful glowing aura left over from PT.  One of the best days I've had in a long, long time.

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