Volcano and Bike love.

 

“When life brings you mountains, you don’t waste your time asking why; you spend your time climbing over them.”

AJ Darkholme

img_8599I tend to write more often about running.  Maybe because it is easier to take a photo during a run, and photos are often a moment I can turn into a feeling about running.  Not as easy with a bike though not impossible.  When you are really having a great ride and rolling along, kinda don’t want to lose momentum to stop for a photo or take one while riding.

I’ve been finally training consistently since I took a lot of time off swimming and was inconsistent for a year on the bike.  This spring the body finally feels mostly really good and my mind is recovered from doing 5 ironman races in 3 years.

I have a new bike, after retiring the Biscuit (cervelo p1) who was with me for every race I ever did.  It was bittersweet for sure, but I was ready for an upgrade.  Maybe I just needed an excuse to get excited about pushing the pedals and setting new goals, and a sleek black machine seeemed like just the thing.  Now I 110% know,  any lacking on the bike is 110% the pilot.  With that comes pressure.  I cannot be a slow person on a fast bike.  Nope.  Incentive.

Almost every ride now I feel the subtle weight of that pressure, to come back after a year of piddling, gaining weight, being injured,  to get faster and stronger and healthier than I was before.  But it’s ok, it’s a good feeling.  Early this year as the miles started creeping up on long rides, I was starting to have some worries, wow am I really THAT out of bike shape? ruh roh, my power was decent, but the speed numbers we blah and I could not for the life of me stay in aero without falling off the front of my seat.  Thought I was wimpy and I needed to get better.  Then it kept happening and my fitness was going up but the rides were still slow.  hmmmm.

Time for a bike fit, again…

TIP:  Don’t be a cheapskate and skimp on bike fitting.  I had mine fit when I first got it (affectionately my Pharoah, a Dimond)  Thought it was good really, it matched my other bike fit so… surely it was fine.

We knew I’d maybe need an adjustment as I got in shape, so it quickly became a no brainer to get it fixed if possible, not being able to be aero is kinda bad on a pricey tt bike.  Not sure why I waited 4 months after noticing problems, procrastination is often disguised as “making sure”.

Anywhoo. They (Bowen Sports Performance) overhauled my fit based on a guru fit machine and my recommendations on what felt better at same power output and some wise eyeballing.  Presto, new fit, BIG changes, and miracle of miracles.  I am aero stable again.  I can endure aero again.  I am so freaking happy about this!  because I love aero.  Aero equals feeling fast.  going fast. feeling anchored and focused.  Aero is good.  very good.  My perceived effort now matches my results, and my mental state has skyrocketed.

Thus, when I had to postpone my long bike to today, to let the body absorb extra soreness from the week,  I quickly had a clear plan.  Today I was ready to Climb Mt Bachelor, all the way to the parking lot yes.

I needed to have at least a decent base built over these first few months so I knew I could just ride up steady and happy and come down as fast as possible.  Today was the day.  I left at 6:30 am and had the road to myself mostly, quiet and cold, frost all the way up.  I have to say I love having a power meter.  I didn’t want to do a race effort at all so I kept it around 5-10% under my threshold,  I wanted to feel a hard effort that was sustainable and more than what I typically manage on rollers in the country.

I had such a good ride.  I have to admit it felt really good knowing I was the first up for the day.  The first little cyclist to have Mt Bachelor appear like a friendly giant, the first to pedal until South, Middle and North Sister were revealed over the summit with Broken Top in the morning light.  Every time I go up, it is for THIS.  That view, that coming into view.  Every single time it takes my breath away-  I simply cannot soak it up into my being enough.

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From my house to the head of the parking lot at the ski area is about 25 miles.  3050 climbing.  On the way down there is about 600 more climbing and some nice flat to hold onto tempo as long as possible.  Oh Oh, and in the early morning, no one is coming down the highway in a car with you… only going up to ski!  It is a beautiful time of day to enjoy the Cascade Lakes Hwy.  It’s always great with big wide smooth shoulders, but still, no one is better than some or many.   So get up and get out the door when you go!  Who needs warmth of midday sun? bundle and go and you won’t regret it.  Too many times we wait for perfect conditions.  I say MAKE them perfect.  Be cold, wet, hot, whatever, there is a way to prepare for most of it.   Once you are out there,  when others are not, that little extra something does something for your inner badassery belief level.  So I Highly recommend not only dealing with what ya got, but don’t even whine a lick about it.  Revel in it.

That’s my message for the day I reckon:)

So here we are Day 3 of my 50 day challenge.   And I have another song for ya inspired by the beloved volcanos we are drawn to daily.   Young Volcanoes by Fall Out Boy.  Get it, YOUNG (my last name) and volcanoes.. heehee.  ahh I’m a dork.

…it’s all over now before it has begun, we’ve already won, we are wild, we are like Young Volcanoes… 

What Lies Beneath

I don’t wanna be flawless, when I go, I want the cuts to show

PINK 

Oh Pink.. how your raw wisdom inspires me when I least expect it.

When you look at the landscape around you…much of it is scarred deeply. Some areas more than others.  Some show evidence of such disruption, upheaval, power and even anger that it seems like yesterday it happened.  Some looks calm and smooth on the surface, but you know actually the real story just got buried.  The real story is the foundation for what you see on the surface.  Sometimes the dramatic landscapes are open and raw and breathtaking and inspiring because of it.  The honesty of it cannot be denied.  The subtle landscapes may seem mundane and boring or even safe.  If people knew the truth of what lies beneath, would they plod around so happy and secure?

I think we are kind of mirrors of our Earth.  What makes us who we are is most likely a whole lot of not pleasant or pretty.  A whole lot of flaws.  In some of us you see them more than others, and many of us have had them buried under a smooth mellow surface.   I really honestly envy those open shockingly ‘beautiful’ people, showing all their scars, not showing them off, but letting them be seen.  The honesty is refreshing.

As I get older, I hope the weathering effects of time and experience and relaxing into myself erodes some of that surface protection, so that when I go, yes the cuts show.

Day 2 of 50,  your song reward is Timebomb by Pink:)  enjoy

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Smith Rock

Life in Color

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.  

Maya Angelou

Usually, when I sit down to write, I have had a profound flash of inspiration, a moment of clarity, a feeling, a something that I can hold onto long enough to put into words.

Today is not that day, today is writing for the sake of writing, tappy tappy tappy of the keys.  Writing because I have not had a sip of  “mommy” wine in 29 days.  My brain is actually turned back on I think.  Writing because I feel actually less apathetic about my own voice.  Writing because it snowed on my pretty pink flowering trees yesterday, big fluffy gorgeous life affirming snow and then it melted and today was insanely beautiful. Writing because 3 people I adore told me I should today.

I am going to use a challenge that my dear friend and deeply inspiring and insightful blogger Runninghood gave to herself, to write everyday for xx days.  38 was her number.  50 will be my number.  50 days until I turn 44, yes I had to calculate that a few times…44? really? 2016-1972, yep 44.  Next year 45-49 age group so that means I’m 44 this year.  That’s weird.  I feel 32 ish. Maybe 33.5.  I don’t feel in my 20’s at all.  Mostly because I didn’t have kids then and I can barely imagine myself without kids, and I don’t want to really.  Anyway, she had a few focuses to help her, I just need to freaking write, anything, so will be free flow for me.

I have done 100day photo challenges before, #100happydays, and it really worked.  I could NOT go to sleep without finding a happy thing to photograph and comment about, it became part of my soul, not even a chore.  Now I take pictures every single day that matter to me, even without the hashtag identifying it as such.  Photos are how I have been “writing” you could say.  When I take a picture on a run or a drive or a hike or as part of daily life as a mom and human, I get to express myself, as I let you see what I see, with some of the emotion that goes with it, funny, sad, overwhelming, peace, hope, struggle, or just the wow isn’t that pretty.  From the time I take a picture to the time I post it, edit (yes even enhance to the way i SEE it)  I can have myself an entire therapy session.  I thank my lucky stars for the beautiful convenience of the iphone.  If you want to see some of em feel free to follow me on IG @arbonnecorie

So 50 days.  I am excited to see if any floodgates open up or if I at least manage simple ponderings.

Today I had no profound awakenings.  I just had a really great run with Amanda, one I must say we dominated muahaha, a 9mile run with 4 solid race pace miles in the middle.  It is so very good to run with someone willing to go any pace I need to go, and able to go any pace I can or faster, someone you can wimper in the pain parts with, laugh at the drama that unfolds in your head as the body tries to rebel a little.  For someone who trains alone, so much, for years and years, runs like this breath life into me.  And it is also truly valuable to know that she is on a similar path with her running as I am, learning to be in the moment, takes runs as they come or sometimes don’t at all, taking new paths and trails and finding slower and stronger, and more freedom to just be a runner.  Not an elite runner, or a winning runner, or even an improving runner.  But just someone who is finding how extremely versatile her body really is, how incredible it is that it can still perform when called upon, with less “perfect” training.

I’m learning to give myself some grace when a run goes bad, starts bad, ends bad, or the days I just want to take pictures and sit on a rock by the river before jogging home.   On Monday I actually cried, hard, during a slow easy run.. why? not sure? it sucked… I got emotional.  I blame the meds from the weekend for allergies/cold.   I don’t have run pity parties typically, it is silly to feel THAT bad on a run, I mean, geez, I’m RUNNING!  in Bend!  Ok I also blame hormones, they don’t care where you live.  Whatever happened, I sure feel better now.  I must have needed it.  Something about having a cry that actually makes your eyes red and puffy that is good, so I won’t question it again, and I will avoid Benadryl.

I’m learning to go really soooper fast when the mood strikes, because what if that was my last chance to feel THAT?!  I’m learning that no run is worth NOT allowing a stop mid – interval to stare in awe at a mountain, or set of rapids on a river, or find where the sound of the baby osprey is coming from.  I want the FULL experience.  I can run and train and be IN my world.  Not running to check out, but to check in.

SO there day 1 of 50.  For those of you who made it to this point I give you a song recommendation, lucky dogs!

A song I have been listening to on repeat for a few days has filled me so much with what I feel about it all right now.  Life In Color by One Republic.. check it out!  so bright, so happy.

… This is life in color, today feels like no other, and the darkest grays, the sun bursts, clouds break …. this is life in motion, and just when I could run this race no more, the sun bursts, clouds break, this is life in color.  THIS IS LIFE IN COLOR.

 

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To become a mountain goat, runner of Mountains, seeker of new Heights

“Mountains are not Stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.”
― Anatoli Boukreev“

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Broken Top as seen from Green Lakes, turnaround point of my run today

There has been a large lull in my writing.  As glorious of a year as it has been living and growing and learning and thriving in Bend, there have also been some challenges to work through that at at times consumed me, and even left me unable to do what I love, namely running and triathlon.  When your body doesn’t want to let you perform, along with the mental downward spiral that can go with that, well… I surely wasn’t in a place to write.  On a daily basis I found the lovliness in my life to hold onto, abandoned self pity and used all my tricks to get to the next step in getting back to me.  I’ve learned so much about other people struggling daily with real problems much more serious than any discomforts I was facing.  I learned compassion I don’t think I’ve had before, as I tried to talk to myself like I would to a friend, but that is easier said than done. Now I have a better understanding of how anyone else on any given day might not be able to just “snap out of it”.

I fill my day with gratitude for so many things, but even that at times isn’t quite enough to cover that feeling that you aren’t yourself, or at least not getting to do the things I defined my “self” as.  I learned to be patient with me, be patient with my energy, my goals, shoot, I even stopped making any goals whatsover, just do the day, look at my kids, as in really SEE them, enjoy the house, take pictures anywhere and everywhere I went, share beautiful things with people I’m only connected to anymore via this silly computer.  Open up to new friends.  I found a dear friend to share life with, our families with, one I can escape to the woods with and just be me, and our kids and husbands feel the same,  April, my Utah transplant who has my heart.  So thankful for the forced “break” that let me do that, gave me space and time to take time to share that part of me and us.  So It has to be a great thing, coming from years of so much focus on achieving big milestones, maybe it was just the thing I needed.  Maybe it was perfect timing, maybe it was the lack of frenzied focus I could use really tune into what was calling me again, not just do what I do because that’s what I do?

A friend told me also that this first year after a move was a BIG adjustment.  I don’t think I fully ever gave it credit…Shoot, Had we even given the year 2013 credit? 2014 was a delicious cake walk compared!   The list of things that happened in that one year alone… huh. I may need a post about that!   We just stepped right into an amazing new life, got going and haven’t looked back.  Not realizing maybe the actual drain that it had taken? Once I acknowledged that, and decided this entire spring, was perfect.  And now I feel free, and now somehow my body is cooperating again, coincidence? hmm:-)

One thing for sure that has awakened me, (not from enjoying this gift of Central Oregon, which is impossible to not be in awe that WE LIVE HERE!!!!)  but back into my nature as an athlete and teacher of sorts, is a friend literally jumping into triathlon, tackling a new challenge and piece of it each day, flying in the face of her comfort zone of running, learning what she can to do her first Olympic tri in less than a month from now!   Running is a lifelong gift for her, that she has most definitely embraced and shared and challenged herself with, and used it to parallel life and motherhood. She’s helped countless others with her stories and musings on life as a mom and wife and athlete. (If you don’t already, you need to follow her blog, Runninghood, always entertaining, always real, and from the heart and always gives me perspective with my own family and endeavors (and btw totally responsible for getting me to write again)

Watching Amanda abandon that comfort zone,  freely do the uncomfortable and humbly seek help, has really renewed my sense of passion for swim bike and run, and inspired me to do things I typically avoid. like RUN mountains ha. (camping and hiking is a different world, physical yes, but not the same) We share an understanding of wanting to openly share who we are whether or not anyone cares lol, at the same time as just wanting to live as much life as we can possibly squeeze in, and I can’t wait to see how we move forward in our new lives here, how our kids find themselves, and I’m assuming, will become great friends once they go on a few adventures together.

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signs are everywhere

So today I ran a trail that I had only previously hiked and trudged and done short attempts in the snow.  It is a trail that is a moderately challenging hike, with great footing on the well worn trail, with many parts that are a tiring at a walk.  For a year I’ve seen photos and heard about runners running it routinely, even loops of it, so it has been on my list as a “run to do”. Still, with all of these trails around here, I’ve never run any of them that are a pretty much constant upward grind into alpine territory. So I’ve hesitated, certainly not wanting to run it with anyone who knows what they’re doing.  And I know, if I ever want to do any of the real mountain races or ultras, well, I need to become a mountain goat of sorts.  Shoot, I don’t care if I even race, I just want to be up there, where most people don’t want to go on their own feet.

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Creek flowing down from Green Lake beside an Obsidian lava flow. Yeah it’s not bad

So Cheesy but So in love with being out here

So Cheesy but So in love with being out here

When I looked at the Garmin results, and saw 1325 feet of climbing, not including about 10 it missed when i had shut off, I was happy, as I don’t think I’ve ever RUN that much climbing before.  Then I realized, some of my friends get in 10-20,000 on a training day lol.   Of course I don’t need that for what I want to do, but dang, and ouch.  Ok ok, I’ll stop comparing, I’m happy with that and it’s just the beginning!  And I did it with hacking chest congestion and allergy nose, so I am excited to see what I can do with full access to my lungs.

It’s just the beginning, because my piriformis/sciatica felt fine until about last 2 miles of 9, and then it was very subtle. Yesterday’s 5 mile run I didn’t feel it at all. After really bad week of self pity a bit ago,  I’ve really upped my game in self care/rehab with everything I can think to do mobility, smashing and strength and activation to combat the nagging pain I’ve had to run with for almost 2 years.  So hopefully it isn’t a fluke, hopefully it is a result of my diligence, if so I can keep at it.

One thing I do know, I’m going to STOP being jealous of people doing more than I can right now,  I’m going to focus on my cans,  I CAN BIKE, I CAN SWIM, I CAN RUN (some) and I CAN CLIMB and I CAN BREATHE, and I CAN SMILE and I CAN SHARE. and thanks to my mahvelous iphone6, I can document what I see along the way.

South Sister. I cannot explain how much this mountain stirs my soul!  Seriously.

South Sister. I cannot explain how much this mountain stirs my soul! Seriously.

The Spandex Crowd

I originally wrote this for Facebook, but wanted to keep it easier to find here in my blog.  I am truly blessed to now live in a town that has patience and understanding for those who pedal, but I know this attitude doesn’t exist everywhere, and I know even in my cycling utopia, there are people who feel more anger and annoyance sadly.

(inspired by a comment made on an article about a cyclist (one of the spandex crowd) hit by a drunk driver- yes I did reply in a sane rational way but did not address the title he gave “us”)

So just who IS “THE SPANDEX CROWD”?

1. a mom who just needs some fresh air so she can be a little peppier for dinner time
2. A Grandpa who found out if he doesn’t get moving he won’t live to see his grandkids graduate
3. An ER doctor who just tried to save a child in a car accident, but failed, today this bike ride is about more than the bike.
4. A guy who is as “gay” as you think he “looks” in that spandex. But is more of a man/human than any self righteous judgemental fool ever could be.
5. A wife who for the first time feels power in her life filled with abuse.
6. A daughter who misses the dad she never really knew, but knows he is proud of every moment she pedals and tries at life.
7. A superhero by day, a daddy by night, doing his best to be a provider and healthy and live by example.
8. A previously unfit, unhealthy alcoholic who lost a leg in a drunk driving accident, has found redemption and healing on his bike with his new leg.
9. Someone you once adored in a different sport who now finds value in the effort even solitude on the roads.
10. A person who has absolutely zero redeeming qualities aside from the fact that they were inspiring to watch race and have still managed to change the world for the better.
11. A friend in between cancer treatments, just looking for any sense of control and freedom.
12. A regular joe who just discovered the thrill of wind on his face and covering ground under his own power, no smell of gasoline anywhere.
13. A girl who always felt left out in team sports, finding a skill and power she never knew she had.
14. A kid who just wants to see who is the fastest, who could be doing drugs and partying, but this bike thing seems to work better
15. An egomaniac who likes being superfit, why not? don’t we need superfit people to look at? hehee
16. A grandma who has no family nearby and husband gone years before her… instead of staying in, she rides.
17. The barista who you enjoy chatting with every morning before work, she doesn’t need much in life but good people and some time with the bike.
18. A too young to die 25 yr old who weighed 400lbs and has already lost 100# on his way to his first triathlon.
19. A hopeful college kid inspired to raise serious money for cancer in a cross country cycling adventure.
20. A widow whose young husband was killed riding his bike, and to keep cycling is just one thing that keeps the connection, through fear and uncertainty, she rides.

A few of these are me. one of these might be you. If you aren’t one or don’t know one… maybe it’s time you put on some spandex and join us, don’t judge us and for God’s Sake be a decent human on the road and to each other in general.
Sincerely,
Corie Young

Card Carrying Spandex Crowd member

Ironman is just Silly

“How ridiculous and how strange to be surprised at anything which happens in life”
Marcus Aurelius

Yes when I think about it, it kinda makes me chuckle, how serious we take it using words like determined, challenge, goals, focus, grit, guts, tough, pain, perseverence, and on and on.  How about silly?!

We train and train and set goals and plan as if setting off to a real war, of course this is not a war.   On this fine day in Arizona looking at a brilliant sunrise over the water with bridges lined with people and twinkle lights, people are serious, focused, worried, scared, many eager and emotional and happy thank goodness.  Then we go and thrash and mash, in fact I was more smashed and mashed so people could “beat” me or “beat” their best, than any IM I’ve done so far.  I too was getting frustrated and annoyed and didn’t let many giggles enter my heart for those 2.4 miles. My ambition for a best time let serious seep in and hide the silliness of the whole reality of the scene maybe if I had felt a little more goofy I would have found holes to swim through and swim the speed I wanted, but I didn’t and so I didn’t.

Climbing out of the never ending swim for our lives, I slipped and smashed my toe on the stairs, of course I did.  Why not, Ironman is a silly trickster after all right?!  I didn’t realize it was broken until the med tent later this fine day.  It hurt but it should when you do smash it and put bike shoes right on.  It is not life and death, it is a hurt toe. A hurt toe in a silly race I now get to ride 112 miles on my bike in.

Windward Fun I’ve been ‘determined’ to have an incredible bike, this year after training at some altitude and mountains, the bike course was going to be ‘dominated’ by me.  Again how silly of me to think this way.  The winds did not wait until mid morning. they started in earnest on lap one, headwind up to 30-40mph gusts all the way out to the turnaround.  We all hunkered down in our little lines and tried to pass people in our quest to be super fast lol… How funny I bet it looks from above, all this effort, discomfort. But boy what scary fun it was coming back with a tailwind and slight downhill!  In case you were starting to have too much fun here, the crosswind gusts would play with you, threaten to dump you on your rear and did completely topple and injure and end the day of many cyclists. I think you had to embrace the wind, play and dance with it or you totally did not have a fun silly Ironman experience. So as much as I was slower than on my previous less windy attempt, I came in off the bike in 10th place in my age group. A perfect spot for me with a marathon to go.

My transitions were WAY faster than last time with my serious focus on getting outta there… 6 min total  T1/T2 time improvement.  No way was I going to dilly dally in this silly Ironman sitting on a chair, NOT going towards the finish line!  I set about to run my run all day pace, one that would put me near or below 4 hr pace.  For some reason though I wasn’t as smiley as I usually am, I had a goal of doing well so I had to focus!  I did hi five a line of little kids, that was about the extent of exuberance I could muster.  Hamstring/sciatic was getting tighter by the step, of course I knew it would, silly of me to thing otherwise lol.

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Mile 4 Running toward my friends Tunnel

I was NOT going to let it get the best of me though.  So I ran and ran. until I had to throw up.  Right as I was entering mile 15, and a mile long section of fans who were trying to support me with all the silliness they could manage, the lump in my throat and stomach knotted up.  All I could think was don’t throw up on the people. Not here, not now!  Then our fans, my friends and husband, ok REALLY not now!! I don’t think I even smiled? I just tried to keep it in, and run to an empty spot on the trail. Commence dry heaves.  This is where you really think how comical this all is.  I mean seriously.  Training is never like this.  Training is rainbows and butterflies for real for me. I LOVE TRAINING!  This race is just SILLY!

At that point I hear I am in 7th place- What?! so I have to try.  I cannot do my usual run/walk. That just wouldn’t do, to miss a kona spot because I got wimpy after all this ridiculousness.  So I only ran.  Unless I was stopped lol. I stopped for porta potty for the tummy, I stopped to gag, nothing in my stomach to release, just blech.  Surely some girls passed me then, if I had seen them would I have kept going?  They wear their totally ridiculous calf sleeves that cover their age group so I had no idea if I should catch em.  But silly me I should try anyway right?! My mouth is white with tums.. I probably ate 30 during the race… My lips parched and cracking, I even thought about Patrick’s trick of using ear wax, ew!!!  In Arizona, you run in the dark after 9-10 hr mark I think. So It was dark by now, goal of breaking 11 hrs gone.  I ran by the Go Mitch Go tent near the finish, and they yelled I could still PR.  NO I Can’t I yelled back.  I was already at the time, would be a few minutes over.  But I still didn’t know where I was overall so I ran and it hurt, I couldn’t run too hard because you just really don’t want to throw up in the finish chute.  Like REALLY don’t want to do that and I was very much there still.

Finish line is typical wonderful, no pain zone, a why didn’t I run like this all the way zone. But when I came across, boy was I DONE.  Like no other time before.  I was woozy dizzy and just not well.  I got to go to the med tent where my bp was 80/50, so happy day I got to get fluids!  This is the goal of every Ironman racer lol.  Fluids equal faster recovery!  Faster time to be able to eat mounds of food. and sleep well and on and on.  So I am grateful to the staff who took care of my pale low BP self. This is where I saw THE TOE.  I asked to take a peek, cuz it felt like I had a scrape or bad blister all day. Well it was bent and swollen and purple.  Thank goodness it wasn’t a more useful toe. Now patrick can make fun of my toes even more:-)  In the end I was 11th in my age group, Improved by 6 places over 2 years ago with much more drama to deal with. So I’ll take it, kinda have to:)

Silly thing is, we ALL were having silly ridiculous days out there. I had so many friends there who had spent an entire year training and fundraising for Go Mitch Go, most doing their first IM, having their own wonderfully awful days…The day of days they had waited for, I so wanted to chat with each one and see how it was compared to their visions, better worse, etc.  I could easily have picked a few and just stayed with em till the end, so magical is the first finish!

I was not the only one with gut issues, foot issues, hamstring issues and way way worse.  But for some reason we all keep going on as if we really have to. Really we don’t ha. Still not sure why I do these.  I love the training.  I love suffering race day and seeing if I can out suffer myself and some of my competitors.  I don’t have to prove anything, especially after the first one.  I know Ironman is something anyone can do. If you can tolerate all the silliness the day brings.  I guess I do it now to see if I can perfect it. Find that balance of happy and fun and focus and effort.  To show others there are things out there that look so hard that are so in your grasp, to not be afraid.

Go Mitch GO!!

The Go Mitch Go Team from Austin and OKC Raised $200,000!

So many brave tough adventurers out there.  I see people at the top of menacing mountains, because they climbed in the snow with their skis on their backs just to fly down and be done.  That amazes me, but not enough to want to do it.  I see people so strong and limber and brave they free climb cliffs and dangle, or ride mountain bikes at insane speeds down wild trails and obstacles.  They prove to me there is so much so so much to do if you want it. And all of it is silly,  these things we can do for a thrill, to enjoy and maximize our life experience.  All of us wee people on this magnificent earth seeking and pushing limits just fascinate me. How cool it is to have ANY opportunity we want to see what is possible. Ironman is not the pinnacle of that by any means, just one of the many options in our pretty humorous human experience.  I say we should all do something brave, silly, hard, fun, courageous, scary…  It is our job to give God a good show.

Ironman Readiness

“There are two things we should always be 1. raw and 2. ready. When you are raw, you are always ready and when you are ready you usually realize that you are raw. Waiting for perfection is not an answer, one cannot say “I will be ready when I am perfect” because then you will never be ready, rather one must say “I am raw and I am ready just like this right now, how and who I am.”
―C.JoyBell C.

I am 11 days from Ironman #5.

11 days from testing my readiness.

11 days from experiencing a true and complete exhaustion, exhileration and relief.

Every single Ironman I have trained for has had it’s own unique challenges, each I have felt a different level of readiness, and in fact come into them a different person than I come in now.

Number 1, the first, the only first you get, the magnificent glory of doing the work and following a plan with the total unknowing if it was going to work!  The mystery and awe of the day filled me with so much emotion for months, inspired me to start this blog.  The day was full of portapotty time and a wee bit o misery.  But it never crossed my mind I couldn’t/wouldn’t finished once I started that day.  Not losing my ability to hi-five volunteers and chuckle at what I had done to myself by even entering helped me cross the line.  Finishing it was the victory, as it should be for the first.

Number 2, was a year later on my home turf, with friends and familiar roads and paths, was a quiet preparation, the knowing was there, confidence and comfort and fun with dozens of friends along side was truly special.  It was a real struggle also, almost a full marathon walked after coming in off the bike in 2nd place… breathing and nausea issues would give me new lessons for future races.

Number 3 was 8 weeks later, big hopes because of the walkathon I had just experienced, and it was on familiar ground, familiar because it was Tempe AZ where I had gone to college.  Had a solid race, free of any significant issue and a PR, but still much more walking than I wanted.  It is definitely a course to do very well on if you get your act together:-)

Number 4 was 6 weeks after a dear friend and training partner in our group of 5 was killed on his bike on one of our training 100milers.  To say we were “ready” for this race… well, not sure any of us were ready… Mentally or physically. Things changed, our hearts changed.  We had a new reason to do this Ironman once we knew we were going ahead with it.   Gone were goals and worries about the perfect taper etc. Perspective shift big time.  Tahoe will always be special, an emotional roller coaster that I never wish on anyone, but one that is a huge part of my soul.

Number 5 is coming,  IMAZ again.  First time to do a course twice.  This time, after a major family life change, moving to a training mecca outdoor wonderland in Bend Oregon.  Once the settling in and rhythm was set this summer, training was the best I think I have ever had, overall at least.  Improvements mostly bike related, run has had issues with back and sciatic entire time but I believe has made me stronger. Calm and focused on having a breakthrough race.

I look back on all the races, mostly a blur, they are done and I’ve moved on, I think.  But I realize I carry little expectations for the next one with me each time.  Like NEXT time I will Look as fit as I feel. NEXT time I will lose that extra 10lbs that I didn’t have in my first one, NEXT time I will swim a ton more, NEXT time I will hit every interval and session with intent and dedication, do more this and that.  It annoys me that I get annoyed at the extra layer of “fuel” I have over my body lol. Especially now, we live in an amazing place for food and enjoying a fine glass of wine, and I should not regret the indulgences that don’t align with my picture of myself as an athlete.  They are in fact part of the rest of me, the family, friend, wife me.  Just wanted to share that, because I know many of us struggle with it on some level. And it is absurd that should ever cross my mind, but yep it does.

I am not perfect, but I am ready…. I am not perfect, but I am perfectly ready.  I am stronger than I have ever been, at times I feel like a machine, and I think for this phase of the game that means I am ready.  I am ready to be raw on race day… To be all that I have wanted to be in the 4 races before, to be all that I was in the 4 races before, and to be ME on race day.

The Investment of Appreciation and it’s Generous Return

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.”
— Marcus Aurelius (Meditations)

Oh the glorious mystery of appreciation!  I have found that is it a strange affliction, almost out of control and expanding with no end in sight.

Bend leaves

Leaves in Transition…

Over the years as I learned to deliberate focus and education and practice, to appreciate small, benign almost insignificant things around me, my appreciation muscle has grown.  It became normal for me to see wonder and beautiful nature in the falling down wire fence and overgrown weeds, perhaps mixed with flowers, along my runs and bike rides in Oklahoma.  To find joy in the expanse of skies and parched red earth and south wind that blew freely, shaping the trees in that familiar lean towards the north.  Piles of junk in country acreage, that actually tells some sort of story of the midwest.  Much not impressive at first glance, but when you APPRECIATE, and feel it in your bones, the world becomes beautiful.  The way the clouds and light interact… In Oklahoma the leaves don’t offer much change before the winter north wind sweeps them away, but with APPRECIATION you can see every subtle shade and contrast with sky and earth.  My love of Oklahoma skies and vistas though could not have prepared me for what gifts awaited our arrival in Bend.

Running in the Rain

Running in the Rain

So tuned in was I already to the small beauties, that here, it is almost sensory overload.  Like a blind person who sees for the first time or a deaf person who hears for the first time….  I seriously can hardly breathe at times on a normal drive to the store, let alone when I am out on a run or on my bike truly feeling connected.  It is why I stop several times during each to take it in, or photograph it, why I go crazy when my phone is too full to capture the moment to share with you.  The appreciation I have nurtured is truly giving back to me exponentially.  The colors and scope and variety of plants and animals and water and landscapes and shapes of rocks and textures, and the Scents- oh my!  I say this not to make you wish you were here, but more to inspire you to consciously seek appreciation where YOU are. Deliberate, focused enjoyment of things that maybe the world doesn’t consider pretty or special.  Do it. It will enrich your life today and if you do venture to a new place, will make it that much more an extraordinary gift.

Jumping Anyway.

“I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you’re going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you.”
― C.JoyBell C

South Sister Climb

The view is worth it! Keep Climbing!

Now that we are here in Bend, there is a sense of accomplishment and comfort, knowing we have landed exactly where we were meant to be.  Of course, I have confirmational bias… I look for and see proof EVERYWHERE.  You do surely get what you expect and what you are looking for.  Ever notice a piece of litter, get annoyed and suddenly you might as well be living in a trashpit? (maybe that is just me lol) That is one reason I insist people STOP looking for the sad and bad stories in general, not to lose touch with the ability to be empathetic and offer support and ideas when needed, but because it seriously will expand into your world so that is ALL YOU SEE Believe and KNOW. 

Ok I digress, but it really is a hot topic with me to change peoples perspectives, from negativity or woe is me or victimhood or excuses, to one of gratitude, hope, seeing good and more good, and watching that flourish in their lives.

So my point was, that we have landed right where we wanted, but not where we ever imagined or planned even just a few years ago.  Now we are moving on to the Now What’s (cute little guys if I do say so myself)  Many things I’ve not been afraid to jump into, didn’t need proof for, things like Arbonne, triathlon, marathons, raising a family, starting our own vet business, fundraising and so on.  Ok well maybe in hindsight I can say that.  YES I had NO IDEA what would happen with any of those, but I/we did it anyway, no experience,  not knowing the outcome, but only through jumping off the ledge could we soar!  I believe we need to constantly find those ledges and jump off.  All summer I’ve been looking for a new ledge:-)  Think I have found it and I have no clue what I am doing.  But I do have proof that I never died from any previous jumps, they only led me to more wonderful, at least interesting things.  So I am taking that with me as I jump into a new world. Thinking podcasting and beyond…. So excited and scared and looking forward to the madness and fun that will come of it!  It will be called “BENDing Perspective”.  I will keep you posted:-) Are you on a ledge right now, just waiting? need a push?  a safety net? Let me know if there is anything I can do to get you off and soaring!

3 (Not Scientifically) Proven Ways to Get Faster

…”no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . .” F. Scott Fitzgerald

Will keep this brief, since my goal is to offer you brief nuggets you can take and use to improve speed of the most important kind.  Running and Cycling.

1. The Time Crunch:  DO NOT leave enough time to do your session, run or bike.  Schedule some appointment daily, can even be the daily pickup/kid drop off kind of schedule.  Get yourself ready, bike, shoes, whatever it is you may require, be ready to go.  Now, do not go yet.  Still not yet.  How long do you think it will take?  2 hours?  Need to be somewhere by 10am? Okie dok, do not leave until 8:15 or 8:20, run or ride the same exact distance you were planning.  At the halfway point you may realize you are going to be late. No worries, just go HARD all the way home. You can do it!  Boom, you have just set a PR from point a to b and are now faster.

2. The Weather Threat:  very similar to #1.   First, do not look at weather forecast.  This one works best by looking outside.  When you see dark clouds you can get ready to go.  When you smell rain and hear thunder go ahead and start. Now ride or run TOWARDS or minimum along the edge of the darkest part.  Have an hour run? You guessed it, run your 30 min towards the storm. DO NOT CHICKEN OUT!  for this to work you need to commit.  Successfully making it towards halfway point while other wimpies are high tailing it home makes you some sort of something special, sure some may say stupid? maybe, but on your way home, at full speed not knowing where or when the sky is about to open, you WILL BE FASTER.  one seriously good interval of intense focus. Repeat as often as mother nature allows.

3.  The Chase and Tag:  This works great when you spy a draft group on a bike, but can be equally useful on the run.  Chase them down, simple, take your aim, and go.  You can get creative and give yourself points for passes, based on type of participant you just passed.  Pass the kid on the single speed, ok you can have a point… but Pass a Pro? hmm that is a lot of points.  No one needs to know that they were at the end of a 4 hr mountain day and you were just starting, you passed em, points for you! DISCLAIMER: I am not admitting to anything.  Oh yes, an important tip for this one is to be especially cordial and calm when passing.  a simple Howdy, how are you, have a great run, etc.. are a nice way to distract them from your true intentions;-)

Hope this helps your training when intervals by the clock aren’t enough.  Any other fun ways you have”proven” work to make you faster?

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