Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What I Know For Sure

In May 2012, Oprah Winfrey wrote an article for her magazine called, “What I Know For Sure.” 

I clipped the article because I liked how she wrote about her fondness for telling other people’s stories and “exacting the truth of their experience into a digestible nugget that could inform, inspire, or benefit someone else.”

I feel the same about my writing. I love seeking out people who are interesting and telling their story to the world. 

In her article she wrote about her time as a reporter, “I was just moving on instinct.”
I think instinct plays a part in going after stories, and writing about other people's lives, and what inspires them.

The theme of Winfrey's article was how we doubt our chosen path. I doubt many of my decisions and actions several times a day. But she says we shouldn’t, and I know I shouldn’t. I know I made a good move and I’m so thankful for friends, family, health, and good experiences. 

For example, this week I got to mountain bike in the desert for the first time  with friends from my road biking team.

This weekend I will run a marathon.

In a few months I will participate in races on a mountain bike, a road bike, running on roads and running on trails.[Not on the same day.]
What I know for sure is that I’m on the right path, having adventures, meeting interesting people, and it only makes sense for me to write about it. 

And the really great news is the project I’ve been working on for the last six years, a collection of stories about living in the mountains, will be published next year

Writing helps me make sense of my experiences, makes me remember what I know for sure. Writing makes me tell the truth of my experiences. This is what I intend to do this month as I’m finishing Arizona stories and editing Colorado stories. 

Life is good in Tucson. And while it is my first Christmas without snow, I think I found a paradise, a respite from the cold. I’m not sure for how long, but for now, Tucson is home. 

Six months ago instinct led me south to the desert where I can ride my bike year round. I'm not going to doubt that this is where I'm suppose to be for now.

What I know for sure is that Anything is Possible in this life.I'm going to ride the wave of good times.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Enjoying the Racing Moment

In 16 days I will be racing long. I’m excited and nervous. It’s been too long since I raced long. I have a lot to review and prep for. As someone who has been “winging” her last few races, not thinking about them until the night before, I know I have to get back to “racing long mode”. 

I feel like everything is going so well: I’ve been biking more than ever, I know my stroke is more efficient than ever, and the run, well, the run, I don’t know about the run. 

I am healthy, strong, confident. But so many things can go wrong and I'm preparing for that. 

I think I just need to do the mental training and make lists. I’m good at making lists.

One thing that I really enjoy doing is helping my friend Joanne through her first Ironman. I met Joanne a year ago at a race in Granby. She came up to me to ask about my Ironman Arizona hat because she was thinking of doing the race. We talked, exchanged emails, and are now friends on Facebook.

In the year since she signed up for IMAZ, she has emails me many questions and concerns about her race in November. My job is to talk her off the ledge. 

She is going to do amazing. 

She has raced multiple marathons and is biking more than I ever did for my first Ironman. I'm telling her to live in the training moment. 

That is the biggest lesson I have to keep learning over and over again – live in the training moment.
Why – because as soon as the race is over, she is not going to know what to do with herself. What’s next? She will ask herself. What do I do with all my free time? She will be depressed.

I told her, enjoy that 100 mile training ride. Enjoy that 10 mile run because you aren’t going to be going long like that for awhile, post-race. At least I didn’t.
I’m not sure Joanne knows how to chill out. She is a searcher – always searching for that next thing – never satisfied. I know all about it.

What’s next? Always the question.

I know for me, what’s next after my long course race on November 10 – El Tour de Tucson on November 17, then the Tucson Marathon a few weeks later. Then a break and then - ramping up for Ironman Wisconsin and getting faster. Getting more efficient. Learning everything I can. 

Now if I could just learn how to stop hitting submit. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Top 10 Ways to Fall in Love With Running, again

  1. Sign up for a race with friends that is longer than you think you can do
  2. Buy a foam roller and roll before & after every run
  3. Schedule a massage every time you run three times a week for a month
  4. Read every blog and website you can find about running & trail running
  5. Buy a bunch of magazines & books about running & trail running
  6. Live in a place where you can run year round
  7. Record your time for every race so you can chart your progress using Excel Charts
  8. Post every training run and race on Facebook & Twitter
  9. Use Map My Run on your smart phone so you can see mileage/pace, etc
  10. Make an "after run plan", especially after a long run, or dream about it while you run, for a way to relax & what you will eat/drink after your done. I like to lay on the sofa and watch TV Shows on DVD as a recovery activity and eat sushi or steak.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Way It Is - William Stafford

I've quoted this before, but thought of it again:

The Way It Is
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change.  But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
William Stafford

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ski Valley Mt. Lemmon, Biking, and Trail Running

I  can't seem to get away from ski towns. Ski Valley is the southern most ski area in the US.
I biked to Mt Lemmon this past weekend, it was hard, hard, hard. 
I love when every bike and run is hard. It means I'm pushing the limits. 
This weekend Team Soul is riding 70 miles in preparation for El Tour de Tucson.
Then a 10 mile trail run in Coronado National Forest on Sunday with the Tucson Trail Runners

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Arizona surprises me, every day

I laugh to myself when I see a jack rabbit run so quickly across the street when I’m walking my dog, Daisy. She wants so badly to chase it.

When I hear a bird in the distance, look up, and it’s sticking its head out of the top of a Saguaro.

I love to see the flowering plants and trees. The desert is blooming; it’s not just flat dirt. There are trails to run, and roads to discover. I want to know them all.

On Saturday I biked to the top of Mt. Lemmon, the highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains. The peak is 9,157 feet. The road to the top is called the Catalina Highway. I didn't really notice the curves in the road on the climb up (8,000 feet of climbing, by the way). On the ride down, biking at about 35 mph, I noticed the curves and it was fun to go fast. Apparently the road has been used by professional cyclists for training. Runner compete in an annual marathon climb, I can’t imagine running up this road.  

I was glad to see pine trees and a lush forest about half way up, and cool temperatures. At the almost top is a ski area. There were a few Aspen trees scattered around the ski area.
At the very top is the Mount Lemmon Observatory. It is only open for special events, closed when I was there.

I'm also trying to do all 101 Things to Do In Tucson according to the Tucson CVB.
Mt Lemmon, and Beat the Heat is Number 11

Just another way that Arizona surprises me every day. As I drive home from the ride, and see the mountains surrounding the city, they serve as a reminder that I have more places to explore and know. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Trail Running Shoes versus Road Shoes

I’ve been running on the Minimus 10 Trail shoe from New Balance.

I wore them on the Catalina 10 mile trail run despite other runner friends warning not to wear them on rough trail runs or for long distance.

Catalina State Park is # 17 on the list of 101 Things to Do in Tucson. My plan is to do all 101 in 365 days.

 I also own Merrell minimal shoes, Barefoot Run Pace Glove. I have worn them once on a trail run and the next day I felt like I was hit by a bus. I might try to mix them in on some runs. After reading some reviews on the Merrell website, I might try starting out on walks wearing them and getting a bit more used to them.

I love training in Tucson. There are so many places to run and bike - trail and road.

Chrissie Wellington and Motivation

According to Chrissie Wellington, the 3 most precious faculties
1.       Remain positive
    2.       Stay focused
      3.       Stay disciplined

        I just finished reading her book, A Life Without Limits. I thought of these three faculties while swimming today. 

        The first five minutes in the pool I felt tired and not motivated. I felt blah. 
        I wanted to stop and go home. Then, I remembered what Chrissie said. Remain Positive.  
        When your mind keeps saying over and over - I'm tired. I should stop, then the body will stop. 

        When I turned off the negative self talk, and started thinking about other things, my pace picked up and I felt better. I couldn't freestyle the swim plan, which was 500 wu. 3X400, 4X50 fast. I just mixed up the swimming, kicking, paddle, pull buoy and enjoyed the water and sun. 

        As I kicked on my back, I looked up to the blue, blue sky without a cloud in sight and watched a bird soar above me. I finished my one hour in the pool, but just not with the original workout. 

        I am thankful to live in paradise. The last 15 years I thought every place I lived was paradise, and it's no different here in Tucson, where a warm breeze drifts through my windows reminding me, there will be no frost tonight. Ha - triathlon training year-round, babe!  

        2012 Training Update September

        Training this past month has been good, not great.I'm worried I'm not getting all the hours in. I'm doing the best I can.
        I love training with other people, which I didn’t do much prior to moving to Tucson.
        Now, I have my Desert Tri Girls and Team Soul Cycling to have biking and running partners. 

        Oney morning I ran 7.2 miles in Sabino Canyon. The Tram line is paved and there are bridges that cross several streams. I like running this in the morning. I wish I could bring my dog, but alas, no dogs allowed in Sabino Canyon. Sad.

        (Sabino Canyon Tram Line heading back to the start, September 18, 2012)
        Number 60 on the 101 Things to Do in Tucson

        Later, that evening I met up with the Desert Tri Girls. Every Tuesday night we meet at the Ironwood Ridge High School track for a speed workout. Today, instead of speed work, we do bleacher exercises.

        The next morning I woke up sore and wanted to bike 30 minutes to loosen up the soreness. The ride turned into 80 minutes. The ride turned long because I love biking in Tucson. It’s September 19 and I’m biking at 7am in shorts and tank top. It’s not cold, there is no frost. I’m loving it.

        The triathlon life is good in September here in Tucson. 

        I am 8 weeks from my full distance triathlon in Lake Havasu City. And 50 weeks from IronmanWisconsin. This will be my first winter training year round, or at least, biking OUTSIDE year-round. So far, so good

        Saturday, August 25, 2012

        Timberman 70.3 Race Report

        I arrived in New Hampshire four days before race day and had plenty of time to relax on the beach with my nieces and nephews.

        There were many walks on the beach with my mom.
        It was great to swim in the Atlantic Ocean and hang out before the race.

        On Saturday me and my race support (Savvy and Cole) drove up to Gilford to check in at Gunstock Mountain and drop off my bike in the transition area at Ellacoya State Park on Lake Winnipesaukee.
        (They love Muscle Milk) 

        As we waited for transition to open I donned the wetsuit and got in the 72 degree water – it was so clear, and I could see the bottom.

        We drove home and arrived to a steak dinner courtesy of my sister and brother-in-law. Mom and Dad came and the entire family (sans Jay) had a great pre race dinner.

        I woke up at 3:45 am on race day and got to the transition area around 5 am. I loved that I could park 100 feet from the transition area and finish. It was a great set up.
        I forgot the swim started in waves so the start wasn’t at 7am, rather it was 7:35 am.

        I ran back to transition to eat a bar since I was starting to get hungry; never good before a 1.2 mile swim. The swim went well except that I felt like I got stuck in a few packs of swimmer and lost momentum swimming from looking up too much. But I exited the water and started the bike without a hitch.
        The bike was Hard, Hard, Hard, but pushed my pace. There were steep hills that slowed me WAY down and tried to make up for it by pushing faster on the downhills. We biked past the Laconia Speedway and at one point the course was 11 miles from Concord.
        The pavement changed pretty frequently from nice smooth pavement to rough bumps, from wide shoulders to no shoulders. It was a typical New England road, that which I forgot about when I biked there a hundred years ago.

        I knew my mom and dad were somewhere but didn’t see them going into transition and to the run.
        The Run was the BEST Run course not due to it’s difficult but due to the awesome aid stations. They were loud and happy and found myself laughing quite a bit. One collegiate looking man offered me snow. I took it and held in my hands for five minutes.

        I felt like I ran a good pace and refused to stop except at aid stations. My quads were killing but it was harder to start up again if I stopped. There were a few aid stations that I didn’t stop at, which was a motivator.
        I saw my mom and dad at the end of the first loop that winded into the transition. I loved the set up of the race course. I told them I had one more loop and I’d see them shortly. It was hot, but not as hot as running in Tucson (even at 7am).

        I finished just after 6 hours to my mom at the finish and a big hug! I’m glad they came to cheer me on. It was a good day. Not my fastest 70.3 but not my worst. It was good to race my first triathlon in New Hampshire.
        Swim: 42:33, Bike: 2:59, Run: 2:14 = 6:04

        Wednesday, August 22, 2012

        Here's to the Love of My Life

        Abbey, my 11 year old dog, went off on a new outdoor adventure on August 10 2012

        She joins Jack her first friend, and teacher of all bad habits, in dog heaven.  And  she joins her Maine dog-friend Balsam.
        Abbey had a great life born in Vermont and moved  to every new house, city, and state following her crazy human around the country. In some places she was allowed on the sofa and some places she wasn’t – but in the end, she could do anything she wanted, I like that.

        She drove with me across the country to Colorado and finally to Arizona.
        Her favorite thing was to eat and take walks. Walks were getting harder and harder at the end. But Abbey’s tail always wagged  - even to the end.
        She was a happy dog and I learned so much from her.
        I miss her so much. Daisy wonders where she went and looks around every time the food hits her bowl. When Abbey doesn’t race for the leftover food, Daisy is confused. Very sad.
        No matter what was going on in my life, Abbey’s routine was always part of the plan and work and social life came second, no matter what.
        She had this way of looking at me that told me she was happy, and thus, I was happy in her presence.
        Abbey is greatly missed, loved and has made such a difference in my life - So here’s to the best dog in the world - the love of my life.

        Tuesday, July 24, 2012

        I live in the Sonoran Desert

        There is a 9,000 foot mountain right outside my window. There is not a puddle of water anywhere.

        Sonoran Desert - sounds exotic.

        Monsoon -  sounds exotic, too. They happen throughout July and August. Flash floods, lightening, thunder.

        I thought I was moving to the dry heat of the desert. No one told me that it was going to rain every afternoon and the humidity would be over 70 percent.

        I’m actually really liking it; not that I'm shocked about liking it. Okay, I love the desert.

        Driving south into New Mexico and into Arizona I would see the green signs that there was a river. I would look down to the ground from the bridge on the highway – there was no water.
        On googlemaps there is a river that flows through north Tucson. There is no water in that water bed. I think it is actually a “wash” – a new term for me. When the monsoons come, the wash fills with water for a few hours or a day. Then it is gone.

        I am amazed at the green and the flowering cacti and trees and flowers. The  landscape is beautiful. After the rain there is a sweet smell in the air. There is always a wonderful smell in the air after a rain, but it’s different here in the desert. Different from the mountains of Colorado, and different from the east coast.

        I am amazed at “different”.

        Since I arrived here in July, I missed the dry, heat of May and June. The people I talk to about the weather and landscape comment how they couldn’t wait for the monsoons and moisture.
        There are so many birds I hear outside my apartment, and a ginormous, Sonoran toad jumped past Daisy on a walk. There are rabbits and humming birds. Bob cats sightings are numerous; and I want to see it all.

        Now that I’m on week 2 of living in Tucson and the Oro Valley, I am really just liking everything: landscape, people, paved bike lanes, master swim classes, rain, animals, and just learning about something I know nothing about.

        Yesterday I was able to turn off the A/C and open the windows and enjoy a cool, 80 degree breeze. 

        Tonight, the A/C is on.

        I’m looking forward to all the changes of all the season in the desert.

        As far as July goes, I love the lizards and the rain, and the sunset – ah the sunsets. 

        Thursday, July 19, 2012

        Living in Tucson and the Oro Valley

        I'm here in Tucson. On day 5 I finally get to the library to get a library card. It's one of the first things I do when I move to a new town: get a library card. 

        Here is the path from my apartment to the library.

        Here is the Oro Valley's government offices.

        I have much more of an appreciation of town government after being a community newspaper reporter.

        On the way to the library is the Oro Valley Police Department.

        Here is the Oro Valley Public Library.

        And a sculpture with a view of the Tucson mountains behind it.

        The library. Great books are here.

        Cacti on the walk to the library.

        I now live where today, Outside Magazine named Tucson the #1 bike town in the US. That's one of the reasons I'm here.
        Click to view the article:

        Tuesday, July 10, 2012

        3 Lessons from a dog, Abbey Dog

        3 life lessons’s my 11-year-old dog Abbey has taught me this month:

        1)    Sometimes you have to ask for help: help up on the bed and in the car; and back down again.

        2)    Walk slow and stop to smell everything, and look around a lot.

        3)    Sometimes pain and anti-inflammatory pills are okay, and they make you feel better.

        Friday, July 6, 2012

        Changes after changes, we are more or less the same

        Today I was able to change all my plans and move them to adjust to the move to Tucson.

        I had to change a flight in August, cancel a reservation for a hotel in July, change Tribike transport, and the biggie: change the Full Distance Triathlon to November.

        It’s all arranged now.

        During all this change and rearranging, there are moments of terror and depression, and moments of life affirming happiness.

        There are some people who go through life creating as little change as possible and are happy with their lives. 

        I’ve never been like that. 

        Whenever my life gets some semblance of steady, comfort, I throw it into chaos. It’s not on purpose, believe me. But sometimes change is needed and when it happens, it is exciting and alternatively frightening. At the end of the day, I want to have a fabulous, amazing life, and I’m not going to do it standing still, comfortable, stagnant.

        Wednesday I went on my last (for a while) bike ride into Rocky Mountain National Park with my friend George. It was a great ride because 1) the weather was perfect, meaning no wind 2) I was with my friend George who was my first biking partner in Grand County 3) there wasn’t much traffic because we started early and 4) I knew I had to bike 6 hours and I came very close to it.

        (Taking a break in Grand Lake behind me is Shadow Mountain Lake and Mount Baldy)

        I feel fortunate to live in a beautiful place and have great friends. I am going to find this again, in Tucson, I hope. 

        Now that my full distance triathlon is moved to November, I can just concentrate on Timberman 70.3 in August, get situated in Tucson, and find running/biking/triathlon partners. It is sad to leave this place, but it’s not forever. I have my condo here and like I’ve said before, “stranger things have happened” and with my crazy, unpredictable, amazing life, who knows what tomorrow will bring. 

        I wouldn’t want it any other way.