Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I can't run or bike, but I can ... smile?

Despite tossing my shiniest pennies in the wishing well and pretending I don't have a problem, I feel compelled to publicly confess that my foot injury continues to leave me beleaguered.

Frankly, though, I do believe the triathlon from two weeks ago was not as big of a contributing factor to the decompensating well being of my feet, as was just the general hope that things would get better if I only wore high heels two times a week instead of six, simply took it easy ... and then trying to take it easy only to fail miserably.

Indeed. It is time to reschedule that physical therapy appointment.

Until then, it would be imprudent to train and risk further injury. This weekend's perfect weather, however, stirred up almost enough temptation for me to say, "Aw, forget about it. I'm hitting the pavement."

I did say, "Almost enough."

Currently, I can still walk, though, and my pups must be very thankful for that. During Sunday's late afternoon stroll through the uptown streets of my city, I was living in the moment, choosing to not be upset about this predicament and to soak in the extraordinarily picturesque day at my feet.

It was easy to do.

Passersby must have thought I looked ridiculous, walking a black Great Dane and a Yellow Lab mix with a smile plastered as wide across my face as far as east is to west. How could managing those guys be enjoyable?

Who cares? I was celebrating the gift of a partly sunny, mild and breezy day, and being thankful to God for my life and for the many, many good things in it.

Though I can't run or bike (swimming is probably out, too), I'm going to put aside the racing, negative thoughts that coincide with being inactive during recovery, and appreciate what I am able to do. Perhaps I'll now spend my triathlon training time practicing Yoga and hitting the Y to focus on much-needed strength training.

If the world is going to pass me by as I recover, I might as well smile, wave at it and give it my love.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mourning fading body markings

My race #176.
I hate to admit it, but I become a little sad when my body markings from a triathlon begin their inevitable fade.

After all of the race belts, heart rate monitors and ball caps have been stripped from us, clean, dry clothes have replaced our damp, sporty tri suits and we've moved on to watering the vegetable garden instead of a state park lake watering us, those markings continue to serve as that last reminder that can still cling to us of what we've just accomplished.

During my post-race shower, I do lather-up my arm and calf where a race volunteer painted my race number and age, respectively, on my skin at 6 a.m.; I just don't work hard to completely remove the ink, scrubbing a little less on those spots than on the rest of my body.

Me speaking at a Chamber seminar.
Then, I make sure to at least wear a sleeveless top - a skirt, too, sometimes - to the office the following Monday. "Oops. I thought I got all of that off," I'll say with feigned alarm and indignity after a coworker will have pointed out "some black stuff" on my arm.

They'll now, of course, know to no longer do that.

What that temporary, numerical, black ink does for me after I've switched back to news girl Monday morning, is remind me of something unique and cool I did over the weekend. It reminds me of how different I am in this regard than most people I know; a state of being I used to be frightened of, but one I now warmly embrace in large part because of this sport.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Heck, yeah, I raced ... and it was awesome

Through a series of injuries and intense workload at the office the last year, I've had little time to train or race for a longer distance triathlon.

In fact, I should not have even raced Saturday.

But that sense of invincibility that plagues (er, benefits) us in our youth, reappeared and kept whispering to me, "Eh, it's just a two-mile run. How bad could it be?"

As it turns out, about as bad as I thought, but I'm getting ahead of the story.

At the last minute, I registered for the inaugural (there is no such thing as "first annual," folks) Giant Eagle Multisport Festival's Tri for the Cure at Alum Creek State Park in Columbus, Ohio. This park is the scene of my first triathlon just three short years ago, and holds a very dear place in my heart.

The distances would be very short, and I was ready to give it my all.

With a 250-yard open water swim, 77-degree water temperatures and the best time trial start to which I've been witness, I was down-right eager to get started and to push myself harder than before.

Harder than before ended up meaning just under eight minutes to finish the swim, but as I was recalling those waters three years ago, when I was backstroking and wearing noseplugs, wondering how on earth I'd ever make it to the end, eight minutes for me is standing ovation-worthy.

The seven-mile bike was a lovely course winding us through a perky, well-to-do residential neighborhood and I felt pretty strong most of the ride. I even passed a couple people going up the one and only hill at the end. I told my husband and photographer, Gary, before the race, "I should be done in about 30 minutes." With 29:48 on my HRM coming up on T2, I was spot-on with my prediction.

My legs were heavy, of course, having just come from the bike, so I took it a little easy starting out on the run. Luckily, that feeling was sustained only briefly and I was able to increase my pace.

I was, however, dismayed to see that midway through, part of the run would take place in the grass.

You see, my latest injury has involved my feet and I knew that the rocking on the uneven ground would likely produce pain greater than I had gambled on.

The truth is, after an x-ray revealed no bones were broken, I had been taking it easy - even wearing running shoes to a business casual work environment - as I had been saving up my physical health capital for this race in case I decided to participate at the last minute ... which I clearly did.

So, I was prepared to expend a little of that capital, but that grass run emptied out the bank account slightly more than I'd anticipated.

My main goal for participating in this race trumped my concerns about my feet in the hopes that it would yield a capital gain of another sort: my mental health capital.

Because it's been a year since I've competed in a triathlon - I did manage to squeeze out my first half marathon in October 2010 and run the Flying Pig Half Mary this May - with each passing day I was watching the 2011 tri season pass me by.

Friends were posting race reports online, showing race-day pictures and sharing personal bests. All while I sat on my rear and ate hamburgers and cookies. This is not usually an issue when I'm training, but those calories certainly add up when I'm not.

Frankly, it was depressing.

I needed to get in to the game - albeit briefly - to feel like my old, slow triathlon self again.

However much I may have hurt physically, I more than doubled in feeling good again. It was well worth the trade-off.

Just look at this last photo! This girl couldn't have had a better day ... and my feet are feeling better now, too. All truly is well.


I came in 86/168 overall with a time of 58:08, ranked 142/168 on the 250-yard swim with a time of 7:54, ranked 77/168 on the seven-mile bike with a time of 29:48 and ranked 74/168 on the two-mile run with a time of 17:01.


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