My Why – This Triathlon Thing…

JQN_0586-(ZF-5809-28111-1-001)I realize that’s it’s been a really long time since my last post. I have lots of reasons, or should I call them excuses, maybe. Busy… yes, just like everyone else, only I’m “retired”. All of those things that I thought I would have time for – well, I’m not quite sure what happened there.  I will say, what I am doing, I do love. No it’s not all fun and games, but I’m very grateful to have the opportunities that I do have. Thank you to my hard working husband for allowing me this freedom earlier in my years than most get to have it!

About this triathlon stuff, it’s not really the fun part of my retirement. While I’m trying to keep the positive thoughts going, I have to admit that it’s not easy for me.  If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know that injury has been a huge part of my journey in this stuff. I’m embarrassed to say that after all of this time, injury is still a part of my journey. I posted a photo journal awhile back if you want to check it out. “Coping with Injury…” I haven’t had a break from physical therapy in over a year and a half now. It’s only been about six weeks since I graduated to bi-weekly rather than weekly visits. Even with insurance though, this stuff gets expensive! Let’s not forget to mention all the appointments with the specialists that keep sending me to physical therapy!

For those who might need the nutshell scoop to catch up, here you go. Just skip this paragraph if you’ve been along for the ride. Since my husband inspired me to start this athlete type activity about four years ago now, I’ve had just about every piece and part of this body from the neck down worked on. The list includes feet, ankles, calves, knees, hips, upper and lower spine, shoulders, arms, hand… The biggies that forced the cycles of extended time off followed by having to start all over again were: a stress fracture in the hip, two major abdominal surgeries, herniated disks with nerve impingement in the upper and lower spine, sciatica, a partial tear of the hamstring from the hip bone and bone contusions from a bike crash. Things that remain on going and cause flare ups along the kinetic chain include arthritis, sciatic nerve pain, bursitis, and tendonitis, as well as nerve pain from multiple cysts in the spine.

So really, who does this? Shouldn’t I be a poster child for something?

And then there is this thing you have to do at the very beginning of a triathlon called swimming. It’s been almost as The sky is not y limit
challenging for me as the injuries, or so it feels like it is anyway. I started taking lessons a year and a half ago and I am just now feeling like I’m starting to get it. Even still though, I feel anxiety every time I get in the pool. In the last couple months I had to start swimming in open water. That’s a whole new challenge I’m having to overcome in.

You might be thinking, “Give it up already, lady!” I admit, I do ask myself why I don’t give up. I ask it pretty often, too. So for both of us today, I’m putting it down in writing, so I can remind myself whenever I need to, why I do this.  Here goes.

  • Exercise is healthy for my body. It’s going to hurt regardless of what I do or don’t do, so why not let it hurt for my good.
  • It makes me stronger. My bumper sticker: “Strong is what’s left when you’ve used up all your weak.”WIN_20150601_130942
  • I’m happier with my appearance. Not too bad for a retired lady. My husband is happy, too!
  • It’s a way I can be good to myself.
  • I get multiple rewards from it, as you can see.
  • I get metals. I think I’ve become a metal junkie.WIN_20150601_132408
  • It gives me a goal to work toward. My first half Ironman, 70.3 miles, is in October this year.
  • It makes me mentally stronger. I have to get past the tough workouts in my mind before I can physically accomplish them. When my body says “no”, my mind says “go”.
  • I found an awesome coach who says she will never give up on me. If you’re looking for a coach, check out this bio!
  • I’ve learned I can do far more than my mind or anyone else thought I could. This is a huge reward for me.
  • I love the freedom I feel when I run and bike.
  • I get to watch the moon set and the sun rise when I’m out on my workouts.Sunrise
  • When I’m doing a workout I can meditate, refocus and regroup from whatever life is throwing my way.
  • I can sing, talk to myself and even throw my hands in the air like I just don’t care. Of course, I’m more apt to do these things when I’m in a deserted area.
  • It’s great stress relief. Yes, retired people still have stress.
  • I’ve made lots of new friends and they’re awesome!
  • I get lots of support and encouragement from these new friends. We’re all in this together.
  • It gives me a sense of accomplishment.
  • It keep me disciplined.
  • It causes me to eat healthier as I know my body needs fuel to function properly.
  • It causes me to be more sensitive about being sure to get proper sleep each night.
  • I sleep better!
  • I can reward myself with desserts on occasion and the calories don’t stick to my thighs!
  • It makes me feel younger.
  • It’s empowering.
  • My husband is proud of me. He likes the results, too.
  • It enables me to participate in a sport with my husband, giving us more time together.
  • We’ve been able to take several trips together for races. We’ve run in some beautiful places. Kona Tri Start LineSmith Rock Half MarathonMountains 2 BeachBarcelona

I’m sure there are more reasons that aren’t coming to mind right now, but you get the idea. I have many good reasons to keep doing this triathlon thing! So for now, the plan is to continue. I have days when I can’t do what I want or what’s on the schedule, but I do what I can, when I can. I am smarter about my training and recovery. I listen to my body and I do recovery in “beast mode”. I do my physical therapy exercises and stretches. I use my recovery tools – foam roller, rumble roller, PVC pipe and the stick. I ice and heat the different pieces and parts daily, sometimes multiple times. I’ve done injections, dry needling and nerve blocks. I even have a home traction unit and I use it!

My why? Because it’s worth it! I’m worth it!

I’ve been told from time to time, that I’m an inspiration. I’ve been inspired by others at times, but it’s usually an emotional reaction, not inspiration that moves me. I might be mentally stimulated to “feel, but the best kind of inspiration for me is inspiration that moves me to do, to act. My husband inspired me to start running. The joy and enthusiasm he had moved me to action.

Maybe you read my list and saw things that you would like for yourself. How often do we see what someone else has and we want it, but never take the steps necessary to get there. We have reasons, or are they excuses, as to why we can’t do the same. This can apply to many things in our lives.

Running 1There is nothing amazing or inspiring about me. I’m just like you. I have bad days, I have disappointments, issues, and times I don’t want to work out or don’t feel like working out. So how did I get here? One day at a time, one workout at a time. I overcame each negative thought, one at a time. I overcame each injury, each setback, one at a time. Each step in the right direction gets me closer to where I want to be. Progress is often slow, but slow progress is still progress.

What’s your goal? What’s that big thing you want for yourself, that change you need to make? What’s stopping you? If I can do it, you can do it, too. Anybody can do it! So why not take that first step? Take it now before you change your mind!Do it NowJust do it

Looking for the Fountain of Youth…

I’ve never posted on Craig’s List but if I did, here’s my want ad for the day: “Looking for the fountain of youth, a.s.a.p.!”  If anyone really did find a fountain that would bring back youth, they would certainly build a resort around it and become a billionaire.

You won’t get me on the expensive surgeries that will restore a more youthful look (just yet anyway), but I’ve been a sucker for the beauty product infomercials that claim to have the one secret, key ingredient that will dissolve my wrinkles and bring back my youthful glow.  Save your money!  I can tell you, there is no secret ingredient!

As I approach the birthday that will qualify me to become a resident in an “adult only” community, I can’t help but have a few thoughts on this aging dilemma that I face.  I remember my 30th birthday.  That was the hard one for me and now I have to laugh at myself over that.  Turning thirty was a piece of cake in comparison to what I’m looking at now.  I can’t even bring myself to let the new number slip from my lips.  It’s amazing to me how my definition of what I consider “old” has become older the older that I get.  In my thirties, I considered where I’m at now to be classed as “old”.  Now that I’m here, old is more like when you’re in your nineties, right!

It’s not fair that we don’t have a choice, but have to succumb to the aging process!  But then, just when did life decide to play fair?

It’s just not right for an 18 year old to start getting gray hair.  It wasn’t just a few hairs here and there.  It was one spot on the front left side of my head.  I was a brunette then and had this gray streak that wasn’t a pretty highlight that I paid big bucks for.  When I was in my twenties, someone who didn’t know my name, described me as the “woman with the spider in her hair”.  I bought my first bottle of hair color soon after that.

It’s not fair that I went into menopause at age 40, ten years earlier than the average women does.  Of course, we’ve already established the fact that “I’m Not Average” in an earlier blog post.  I did find some advantages in early menopause though.  Hot flashes weren’t one of them!

What a shock it was when I got contacts for the first time.  I had only been wearing glasses to read, so I never had them on when I was in front of a mirror.  My first trip to the bathroom with the contacts was a literal eye opener.  Where did all those wrinkles come from all of a sudden?  I looked so much younger before I got contacts…  So of course, the contacts had to go!

I learned by trial and error, never let anyone see your face if you have to bend over in public.  I was in my late 40’s and happened to see myself in the mirror as I bent over to brush my hair.  It was a horror show!  Skin just hanging off my cheek bones!  How and when did that happen?

In my Physical Therapy sessions now, there is an exercise that I have to do that really makes me swallow my pride.  It’s called “Inch worms”.  I have to walk on my hands and feet on the floor and my butt in the air.  I’ve said what my face looks like upside down, but to have to see the skin hanging from my arms and around my knees and knowing everyone else that can see that too is torture!  I’ve begged the Physical Therapist to not make me do this exercise, but to no avail…

It’s not fair that body parts succumb to gravity and head south!  The word “perky” is no longer in the description of any body part.  “Tube socks with golf balls in the toe”, is a more fitting description and the rounded hips, well…  the cheek and thigh tend to meld into one continuous mass.  Enough with the disgusting word pictures!

I took up running to try to slow down the aging process, maybe even reclaim some of my lost youth.  Running has improved the appearance of some body parts and I am much healthier than I was a year and a half ago.  I probably am healthier and more fit than I’ve been since my early twenties, but in spite of that, my body still betrays me.  I still spend more time with medical professionals than I would like.  It’s so not fair!

In a previous job, I spent a lot of time working in retirement communities and with clients who I considered to be “old” compared to my stage of life at the time.  It was quite sad actually.  Some were very healthy, but they had let themselves become “old” in their minds.  They saw themselves as “old”; therefore, they were justified in living the stereotypical, “old” lifestyle.  They let their age determine their level of activity and there are just certain things that they just couldn’t do because of it.  The reality was that there was much they could do if they applied a little effort.

Of course, there are always exceptions, but I found that the general mindset was that they were now retired, so for many that meant the end to “accomplishment”.  They would no longer be expected to accomplish anything and any unfulfilled dreams could be let go of.  They no longer nourished those dreams and their dreams were allowed to die.  The reality was that they now had the freedom and more time to realize their dreams.

Life for many had become a waiting game.  They were waiting for the end of life, when the reality was that they still could have many years ahead of them to live.

As I now find myself in this new place, regardless of how old I live to be, I always want to be useful, to have a purpose.  I want to always be doing something to better myself and to help others.  I still want to work toward those unfulfilled dreams.  I’m choosing to not become “old” in my mind; therefore, I think I have found the fountain of youth.  You’ve heard it said, “You’re only as old as you think you are”.  It doesn’t matter how old my outer shell gets.  (Ok, so I admit it’s still kind of hard to say that last sentence.)  I’m young in my mind.  Life isn’t fair and even though my body may betray me, I’m determined to make the best of this aging process.  Like fine wine, I too, will become better with age, so I raise my glass and say, “Cheers!” and “Happy Birthday to me!”

I choose to die living, not live dying.  Who wants to celebrate with me?