TEAM USA: The Best of the Best

archery 2

Met a young man training to be on the US Olympic Archery Team. He let us know that he is ranked number 10 (not sure if that is national or world), but either way… it is damned impressive.

In fact, all of TEAM USA is damned impressive. As part of our “do everything now while we can” campaign, we had the opportunity to visit the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center (CVOTC).

The CVOTC is designed to train athletes in outdoor events such as soccer, track and field, biking, running, motocross, tennis, etc. The facilities are superb and we coincidentally got to see the women’s soccer “B” team practicing. The one thing that all the athletes have in common is the absolute knowledge that they will win. The young archer we met was preparing for an upcoming national competition. Apparently, archers must place in the top 3 to qualify for the Olympics. He said with confidence… “I’m ranked number 10 so I expect to make the top 3.”

As if they don’t already have enough confidence, the Center even has an obstacle course designed like American Ninja Warrior to push the athletes to do things they don’t know they can do. Since winning times are often seconds apart… its often the confidence that makes the difference.

It is amazing how one’s confidence grows when accomplishing the imtriathlon 2possible. I had that experience when I completed a triathlon, but that’s another story.

The US does not support our athletes, but these kids work hard for the United States… consider making a donation.

Stay tuned.

Good Job!

Knee 3An older woman walked into an exercise studio filled with women average age 30-something. Instructor demonstrated exercises that would be covered in the class. A helpful lady next to older woman introduced herself and re-explained what the instructor just went over. Twice during the hour-long exercise, the helpful lady told the older woman that she was doing a GOOD JOB! At the end of class, the helpful lady went out of her way to befriend the older woman and again told her what a GOOD JOB she did.

It is obvious that the helpful lady assumed that the older woman would need help understanding and doing the exercises. As you may have guessed…. I was the Older Woman. I was offended and found myself explaining that I had done a triathalon (my one big claim to fame) and that I was trying this class because I needed to step down from a bootcamp that I have been taking (which was true). Then I got angry with myself for being defensive.

I was defensive because I’ve been feeling my age lately. Because, I can no longer do what I once did. My body snaps, crackles, and pops like a box of Rice Krispies.  Occasionally, I wear a knee brace to stave off the knee replacement that I will need in the future. I sometimes need a heating pad for my back after a long bike ride. I refer to myself as an aging athlete, and It’s clear that I’m no longer a spring chicken, but I’m not ready to be written off. I’m disheartened that people look at me and see an “older woman”.

Then I remembered an “older woman” that I knew from a prior exercise class. She too was an aging athlete. She could no longer do century bike rides (100 miles), and had cut back to half centuries. I guess she was 10 years senior to me. I also remembered that, unbeknownst to her, she was a role-model for me.

I hope I can be a role-model for others.

Stay tuned

Take Small Bites…

Bayshore Bikeway 2“Real bicyclists” travel the 27-mile Bayshore Bikeway as a warmup to their century rides. My balcony overlooks part of the Bikeway so I cannot escape these energizer bunnies who I also see at the local coffee shop. They are all ages, shapes, and sizes. In fact, I’ve often wondered how someone can be fat and a bicyclist, but that’s another story.

The Bikeway is well known in the San Diego biking community, and watching the cyclists makes me nostalgic, because somewhere in me is a woman who would easily bike 25, 35, 50 miles or more. This woman, AthLEticA, was an avid racquetball player, bicyclist, so-so tennis player, and skier.

AthLEticA has been responsible for talking me into activities ending in knee surgery’s, back aches, foot sprains, and has caused many dollars in contributions to the medical industry. Therefore, I have told her that under no circumstance would I tackle the Bikeway, but yesterday, she and my husband conspired against me. He suggested that we do 5 miles of the route. At the 5-mile mark the ride turned into a challenge to see which one of us would cry uncle, and turn around.  Since both of us are extremely competitive, we ended up doing the entire 27-mile route.

Message 1… if you want to do something big, break it up into little pieces

Message 2 …. Push yourself to do what you thought you couldn’t

Next Stop…. Appalachian Trail!!

Stay tuned….

Adventure of a Lifetime

We were on our way back home from a bike ride, when my 10-year-old Grandson had taken the lead and went past our turn. We could have turned around and gone the way we knew or we could try a different path. We decided on the different path… and our adventure began.

First, I thought I knew how to cut through and get back on the bike path, but soon realized we were nowhere near the path and were in fact getting farther and farther away. We rode, talked, rested, and rode some more. On one hill, he told me he was tired and embarrassed to admit it. Then I reminded him that he never had to be embarrassed with G’Ma.

At one point we considered retracing our steps to the bike path, but it had gotten too dark (thank goodness G’Dad had put lights on our bikes). Unbeknownst to G’son, I had briefly considered calling G’Dad to come and get us, but even though it was late, dark, and we were tired, we were also enjoying the time together and the adventure of it all.

Our path took us along a quiet industrial, tree-lined street with wide sidewalks,  and a few UPS workers ending their day. We peddled up hills and coasted down all the while chatting away about mostly nothing, but how perfect the weather was.. and basking in our time together.  We don’t usually get much one-on-one time, so like our morning wake-up ritual, this was another  bonding opportunity.

We came into an area with small shops and a ubiquitous McDonalds, but chose a Dunkin Donuts for a rest, and doughnuts. The lady was about to close, but was kind and let us stay while she cleaned up.  Jordan and I talked, drank our sodas and prepared to get back out on our bikes. When we came out of the shop, we were faced with a steep hill and my tough little guy said “it’s okay Granma, we’ll just ride until we get tired and then we’ll walk.”

At one point along the way, we ran out of sidewalk and had to ride about 50 feet in the street across a bridge.  He said he was scared and I realized that as he became a “man”,  he wouldn’t be able to say that. He would have to hide his fears and tears so he could be a “man.” I assured  him I would make sure he was safe, and after we crossed, we laughed and laughed as we rode/coasted down another hill.

The last leg of our trip was across a pedestrian bridge over a highway and he said that was “really cool.”

When we arrived at home, we were both exhausted  and exhilarated. We had an adventure of a lifetime, that we will always remember.

Sometimes taking a wrong turn is the right thing to do.

Irene is Coming: Grab your surfboards and shoot the waves!

Last evening the atmosphere was orange. This morning the winds and rain are arriving. Tuned out the constant drone of news reports and sat on my covered porch to experience the moment. I can hear the tinkle of raindrops and see the tree branches swaying. The humidity has dropped and the air is a soothing warm temperature. Maybe this is what they call “the calm before the storm”.

I sit here in anticipation and wonder what will actually occur. Will it be another “storm of the century”? Will it fizzle out and be no more than a nice summer rain? Then I realize that’s what makes life interesting. It’s the unknown. No one ever knows what the next moment will bring, and that is what adds excitement to life. The newscasters are able to play into our fear and excitement of the unknown. It’s like watching a scary movie when we sit in a dark theater anticipating the unknown.

This morning I observed that the birds had gone to wherever birds go before a storm and there were no insect sounds. I watched my husband gather all the loose items around the yard and appreciated having a protector.

We have a choice… we can hide under the covers and fear the unknown; we can sit in the window or on the porch and be awed by mother nature; or we can grab our surfboards and shoot the waves.

You choose.

Triathlon – Fear of swimming – OMG I did it

DC Triathlon 2011 - Water course

Who would  have thought a triathlon would be a good way to get over one’s fear of swimming!? But, it worked. Actually, my journey began with taking swimming lessons to see if I could master it enough to enter a triathlon, but after 3 months of lessons, I was better but not good enough. So my girlfriend and I decided to stop.

Then her daughter pushed, prodded, intimidated, cajoled and we got back to training. I should say I got back to worrying and experiencing extreme angst and anxiety. In fact, I can’t remember when I have ever experienced so much anxiety with the associated knots in my stomach right up to the morning of the event.

Then a funny thing happened. After I jumped into the water, I swam 200 meters and barely remember any of it. I stopped at the 200 meter mark to catch my breath and literally could not remember how I got there (fugue state?). All I remember was starting with the freestyle, then flipping into a backstroke and I had completed the first 200 meters.

This was a major turning point (literallly), because the first 200 meters was along the shore, but then  the course turned left towards

That’s me exiting water in orange bathing cap.

 the center of the river. When swimming along the shore, one has this belief that “worst case scenario”, I can always swim to the shoreline and get out, but once you turn left and head away from shore, it’s like there’s no turning back. Somewhere in my psyche, I found the nerve to “go for it”. Said thanks to the kayaker who let me hang on while I caught my breath and took off to the center of the river.

All the lessons slowly and gradually came back to me during the swim. I moved my thumb up the outer edge of my body to ensure that my stroke was right (as Megan taught me). I slowed my stroke so I would not get too winded (as Marsha taught me). I found my own pace (as Dennis taught me).  I relaxed and for the first time in 4 months of training, I was actually enjoying swimming. While doing the backstroke, I was looking up at the sky and noticing the birds, and felt they were accompanying me on this journey. Occasionally, I was bumped by other swimmers, and got water up my nose or in my mouth, but I kept going. Doing the backstroke made it harder to get my bearings, because I had to stop, turn, and look, but that was okay.  I was swimming and relaxing and enjoying.

I exited the water with a smile on my face and an  “OMG I did it” in my heart. What a rush.

Triathlon Swimming: God sent her to me

Couldn’t rest before the race for worrying. Can’t rest after the race for remembering. From the time I entered the water to the time I crossed the race finish line was a blur… Like being on Valium. For the swim event, we were herded like cattle through corrals in groups of hundreds and then we jumped into the water eight at a time. Thank goodness the water event was a quick start or I might have chickened out. As we left our corrals and approached the dock, at least six people were on deck directing us to “move quickly ladies….move….. move…stand on the edge of the platform….jump.”

I placed my hand over my nose, jumped in and swam freestyle until I got tired then flipped over to a backstroke for 200 meters… just like I had been taught by Megan. At the 2oo meter mark, I grabbed onto a kayak and rested without even remembering the 200 meter swim to get there. The kayaker told me and three others that we could stay and catch our breath as long as we needed. His comments and demeanor were so gentle and reassuring and I was bolstered in knowing that I could complete the race. I thanked him and took off for the next 200 meters. I visited two more kayakers during my 800 meter swim, and each one was as wonderful as the first. Wish I could thank them again.

Megan showed up in my life about a week-and-a half prior to the triathlon when I was still wavering and afraid of swimming in open water. She is a young lady staying with my neighbor and in conversation I found she was also a swim coach and she immediately offered to help. In one session, she bolstered my confidence in my backstroke and taught me to swim for 200 meters and rest followed by another 200 meters and rest. She explained that the first 200 meters meant I had completed 1/4 of the race. The second 200 meter mark meant I had completed 1/2 of the race and so on. That is what got me through! They say there are no coincidences, and I am absolutely certain that she was put on my path at just the right time.

Stay tuned

I am an Athlete

I walked into the Washington DC Convention center to pickup my “packet” for my first triathlon and saw these signs for “Athlete” packet pickup and realized they were talking about me. I was an “athlete”! Wow!

I’ve always been active and was once a tennis rat, racketball rat, and biker rat, but never considered myself an athlete nor did anyone call me an athlete. That term has always been saved to indicate someone who is a professional, not us amateur wannabes. So I was impressed by the moniker and hoped no one discovered I was a fake.

I never really intended to do a triathlon (wim 8k; Bike 20k; Run 7.5k) . I only planned on learning how to swim, and in case I actually learned, then I would consider doing the TRI. In fact, three weeks ago, my girlfriend, Maureen, and I did a practice open water swim and jointly decided we were not ready and stopped training. I felt such relief at getting my life back and not having to spend all my spare time training so I put my swim bag into the closet. Then her daughter, Pam (Miss Ironman) talked her back into the TRI, and she inturn talked me back into it.

So suddenly the clock was reset and I was busy trying to figure out, or convince myself, that I could/should do it. She got me hooked when she said “if not now… never”. So, today I ran my first triathlon. Today I am an athlete.

Really Bummed

Sometimes we covertly sabotage ourselves. Submitting college applications late or applying for an out of town job after the deadline or over exercising to injury just prior to a race are all ways to sabotage ourselves. But… I swear I didn’t do it.

I was getting anxious and excited about the possibility of doing a sprint triathlon and really ramped up my exercise routine. Went swimming Saturday, weight training on Monday and  walking on Tuesday. Shouldn’t have been a big deal, but I did too much weight on Monday causing back aches, but I got over that. It was the walking that got me. Now, you are asking why walking should be problematic. It’s because I’ve hooked up with two personal trainers who can’t run due to knee injuries, but walking for them is 1-click away from running. Runners average 7-8 minute miles, and we walk a mile in 10-11 minutes. Up until now, I’ve been able to keep up, but this week they added hills to the “walk”, and my knee complained very, very loudly. So, here I sit with a balloon-sized knee, which is preventing me from participating in my first practice triathlon. Oh well…

Really bummed…

Synchronized Marriage

 No, this is not about Jung’s marriage experiment concerning astrological signs as a bellwether for marriage, this is about what happens with synchronicity in relationships… one woman’s perspective. This weekend was chockablock with conflicting activities… grandsons baseball game, grandsons birthday party, swimming clinic, practice triathlon and weekend at beach with husband.

As I am writing this from the living room of our condo overlooking the beach, I apparently chose the weekend at the beach with my husband. I’m still conflicted and feeling guilty while also feeling relaxed. He’s out fishing but I know he’ll be back soon. I can “feel” his presence nearby. Somewhere along the line over twenty-one years of marriage, we came to a place where we just want to be together… kinda like teenagers in their early dating years or like newlyweds. Don’t know when it happened… it just did. So, as he was packing to go away for a weekend of fishing and de-stressing, I just wanted to “be with him.” I changed all my weekend grandson and swim plans, packed my bag and off we went.

I remember my parents who after 49 years of marriage were totally and comfortably co-dependent. His memory was failing and her eyesight was failing, but together, he could drive and she told him which way to go. That’s synchronicity.

I didn’t know how entwined they were until her health took a downturn. He was absolutely lost without her. It was then that I knew how bad his memory really was, because she had become his memory. She told him what to wear, what and when to eat, and what to do. Without her, he couldn’t function. When she was in the hospital, he developed a blank stare and just sat. I was totally taken aback. How could I have been so blind to what was happening? It was because they were one. Like the winning team in a 3-legged race, they were totally in step.

It takes a long time to get to that place and we are moving in the right direction. Not there yet, not by a long shot but it’s beginning to happen. So, I chose the weekend with him, because he’s my partner in the 3-legged race of life.

Stay tuned…