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Posts Tagged ‘Running’

If somebody told me 2 years ago that I would be writing a page about biking, I would have said they were nuts.  Back then, I didn’t have a clue when it came to the topic of road biking.  I now have my very own road bike and I ride it as much as I can during the spring and summer. I have even competed in a few triathlons with it.  The sad thing is that I am almost as clueless about road biking now as I was 2 years ago.  So if you are hoping for some expert advice on this subject, you will not find it here.

Almost 2 years ago, one of my closest friends was sharing her experience in a triathlon she did recently.  It sounded like so much fun but I figured this type of athletic event was way out of my league.  All I could do was run.  She mentioned an All-Women’s triathlon thats held once a year in August.  It is a very low key triathlon and women of all shapes, sizes, and ages do this event.  It didnt’ sound intimidating, so why not?

One of the reasons why not:  I needed a bike.  I considered using a mountain bike.  But I kept hearing over and over again how much more effort is put into pedaling a mountain bike vs. a road bike.  So, my husband and I went to the local cycling shop one day and I looked at the road bikes. There was only one in the whole store that was small enough for me. It was an entry level bike with 650c size wheels.  After trying it out, I wanted it! My wonderful husband plopped down $800 for the bike and another $85 for the helmet.  John is usually pretty frugal when it comes to making purchases but he wasn’t going to go cheap on the helmet. One of his biggest fears is becoming a single dad.  So we left the store with my new bike and my new helmet. There was no turning back. I would HAVE to do the triathlon. 

So, I trained for about 4 months.  It definitely wasn’t intense training.  it was too fun to be intense.  Going to the pool at noon to swim for 1/2 hour almost every day, and then riding in the evening with my friends. It was a blast!  After competing in my first triathlon, I learned very quickly that the biking portion of it was not my strong point.  In fact that is where most people would pass me.  I already knew that the running part would be my strong point.  As for swimming, I’d like to say I am about average.  Ironically, out of all 3 events I enjoy the biking part the most.  Just wish I was better at it.

About a month after I completed my second triathlon, it was brought to my attention that maybe I would perform better if I replaced my platform pedals with clipless ones.  “What?!”, I thought, “That’s nuts!”, “I don’t want to be attached to this bike by my shoes!”, “What if I suddenly need to stop?”  My friends convinced me that it’s a lot easier than it looks and that I would be just fine.  So early last spring, I bought some pedals and a pair of shoes. I was set.  I was a little worried about using them so I practiced clipping in and out of them while in my bike trainer.  This wasn’t so bad!  In fact, it’s pretty easy…….in a bike trainer. 

My first day on the road: I really don’t like talking about it.  My friend and I decided to do our very first bike ride of the year on a paved trail. I tipped over and fell 3 times before ever leaving the parking lot. I was struggling to clip out of my pedals.  After falling the 3rd time, we racked up our bikes and went for a walk instead.  I came to the realization that I had only 5 months to figure the pedals out before competing in anymore triathlons.  So, within those 5 months I think I have fell over 20 times.  My biker friends admitted to me that “falling that many times isn’t normal, maybe there’s something wrong with your pedals.”  I knew it wasn’t the pedals. It was me.  But what was I doing wrong?   Finally about 3 weeks before my triathlon, my friend stopped to watch me as I struggled to clip out yet again.  “Point your toe down and twist”, she said.  As I did that, my foot practically flew out.  “That’s it?!”, I wondered. “That’s what I’ve been doing wrong this whole time?!?!”  Since I had my pedals, I was always attempting to clip out by pointing my toe up and heal down. I never bothered to even learn how the pedals and shoes worked.  That’s pretty bad!  Even for a beginner like me.  But since then I haven’t had anymore falls. Well maybe just one.

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I am often asked how is it that I am able to cope with all the stress that goes on in my life. People often say “I don’t know how you do it!  I’d go crazy!”  I do take these comments as complimentary.  But I also think people tend to underestimate themselves. My response to them is usually,  “You’d be surprised at what you can handle when you don’t have any other options.”  That’s also where God comes in.  When things seem impossible, I know it’s God who is giving me strength to not drive  voluntarily into a brick wall. 

*ok here’s my little disclaimer:  I would never drive into a brick wall…….. on purpose.  If you really know me, statements like that are all part of my sick sense of humor.*

Nobody is immune to stress.  Everybody has different ways of coping with stress.  Some coping methods are good. Some are bad.  And some are just kind of odd. My husband’s way of coping with stress is by doing Tai Chi. A very good method. He does this every morning.  He is very interested in martial arts and has been doing it for the past 13 years.  He also runs 4 times a week.  He has been trying to get me to do the Tai Chi for the past 12 years.  I’m still not interested. But that’s ok, because like I said, everybody has a different way of coping with what life throws at them.

I prefer running. I never run immediately after a stressful moment has hit its peak. Like right after Matt throws a full glass of juice at the wall, I’m not in the mood to do a 5 miler. I think of the running as maintenance.  It gives me energy to face the day.   When I go too long without running, I find myself becoming moody.  Lately, I’ve been getting bored with the running which could possibly explain my irritable mood these past few days.  Time for me to get out the old bike trainer.

Another way I am able to cope with the stress is by doing this blog. If nobody ever  read my blogs, I would still write them.  It’s good therapy.  I know that someday in the future I will take a look at the blogs and say “Wow, I forgot how hard life was then.  We made it!” 

As I mentioned earlier, people may sometimes have odd coping methods.  My odd coping method begins after the kids are in bed. I pop in an “Everybody Loves Raymond” dvd and watch it till I fall asleep.  That will take anywhere from 10 min to 2 hours. I have seen each episode countless times.  John still can’t figure out what the appeal is.  Especially with that show.  He hates that show. Not me.  I explained to John how our lives are full of surprises, noise, and chaos. I just want to sit down and watch a program where I know exactly what is going to happen.  I can always count on Ray being helpless, Robert being jealous, and Debra being irritable.  I can always count on the father-in-law being repulsive.  Best of all, I can always count of the mother-in-law being intrusive, critical, and loud. I find all of this hysterical.  John finds the show stressful and annoying.  I would like to note that the characters in this show don’t reflect our family.  I happen to have the best in-laws anybody could ever ask for! I just enjoy the predictability that comes with watching those dvd’s.  It’s my escape and it makes me laugh.

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Running keeps me sane

In the big scope of things, it’s God who keeps me sane. I like running. It’s easy. There isn’t much thinking involved.  Strategy isn’t all that important unless I am competing in a race.  Let’s be honest, I’m not exactly a Boston Marathon qualifier, so no stress there. 

I used to run in high school and I loved it. I wasn’t the fastest by any means but I think I did a pretty good job.  But after graduating highschool, I just couldn’t get motivated to run anymore.  So 12 years, a husband, and 2 kids later, I got back into it.  I love it! I actually look forward to my workouts.  My energy level is up and all my stomach issues have vanished.  For years I struggled with chronic stomach aches.  Then dizziness started. After turning 30 I became a hypochondriac.  I was certain I had cancer, or ms, or…..something!  I would go to the doctor’s to have all sorts of tests ran.  No cancer *whew*.  Just Acid reflux.  Ok, thats common. I can work with that. Doctors have always pointed to the idea of stress. “You have a stressful life, try not to stress so much.” One of them would say.  My thought is “WOW!! Why didn’t I think of that!!?!(intense sarcasm) ”  I’m paying a $30 copay for that!?!  For one thing, I was irritated because it seemed to me that is what all doctor’s diagnose people with as a default…..stress.  Come on.

The thing is, that dr. was absolutely correct.  Lets face it, stress is going to happen especially if you have children. But I finally stopped being so stubborn and made the decision to manage it better and not just internalize everything.

 Running. I began with one mile around the park. Next day two miles, then 3…you get the pictures.  Not long after I was running 10 miles. Not every day but I was able to do it without burning myself out.  The end results were amazing:

No stomach pain, more joy, more energy, less tummy…….

For the first time I was doing something that had nothing to do with kids, and autism, and IEP’s (Individual Education Plans)….what a powerful outlet.  I’ve made a great group of girlfriends too through my workouts.  A couple of them convinced me to participate in a triathlon with them last year.  So, not only did I get into running, I got into biking, made a great group of friends….I actually had a life!! 

When you start exercising, no matter what kind it is, this domino effect starts to happen. Anytime you are doing an endurance exercize, endorphins–which are what I call “happy chemicals”– are released. It puts you in a good mood. You even stop craving junk food. At least I did. I indulge Stone Cold Ice cream now and then but without the guilt.

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