Archive | June, 2009

Lucky Charms & Mr. Miyagi

28 Jun

Since I started off this week feeling like the energy had been completely drained from my body, I figured it might be a good thing to give myself a week to take it easy with the exercising and counting points, and have some relaxed, no worries kind of fun.

I am proud to say I was tremendously successful in this endeavor. While I still worked out 4 days this week, it was also a week full of Lucky Charms, an ice cream cone, Coronas and late-night karaoke. So, it’s true that I may not have figured out the balance thing by tipping the scales too far the other way (no pun intended by the way, but that’s obviously a subconscious confession to the fact that I am not looking forward to stepping on the scale on Tuesday). But that’s okay with me because I had a blast while I was doing it. Might as well get a little break in now, because the next month (28 days to be precise) is surely to be one in which I push myself the hardest. Might as well go into it with a re-energized state of mind.

Given that we were both not up for another killer bike ride like the one we took last week (which honestly left me exhausted for 3 days), my brother and I decided to take a quick bike ride and run. I already knew that my energy level was low so there was no real goals for this time, just to ride. Except, my brother did remind me again that I need to stop braking down hills, because I need to take advantage of the speed. Yes, I brake when I go down hills. I get scared! I don’t really know why I’m such a wimp. But yesterday I did manage to not break down one big hill, so despite having low energy levels we did manage to accomplish something!

In a moment that will remind us all of how clutzy and athletically-impaired I can be, when biking up a hill earlier, the capri pants I was wearing got caught in my bike and ripped.

Thank goodness that I managed to get out of my toe cages and off my bike, because I could have just as easily tipped right over. That would not have been any fun at all. I tore off the piece of my pants that was hanging in shreds so it wouldn’t get caught again, and being the resourceful guy he is, my brother fashioned it into a totally awesome sweatband a la the Karate Kid.

You see the resemblance, right?

Except he’s more like Mr. Miyagi, because he’s my teacher, reminding me what I need to learn, teaching me how and challenging me even without meaning to, in my effort to keep up with him. And as it turns out, the real Mr. Miyagi also has some lessons I could use:

Miyagi: What matter?
Daniel: I’m just scared. The tournament and everything.
Miyagi: You remember lesson about balance?
Daniel: Yeah.
Miyagi: Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance. Everything be better. Understand?

Testing the waters

22 Jun

I don’t know what is wrong with me, but for the past week or so I’ve lacked the energy and motivation that has been pretty much consistent over the past few months. Don’t get me wrong– despite this, I’ve still been going to the gym, running, biking, doing everything I usually do (and putting in a solid effort), it’s just that at some point while I’m doing it, I feel like I’m submitting myself to some kind of torture, and after I’m done I feel completely exhausted.

I’d like to think that this is partially the weather’s fault, because it’s been super gloomy and rainy for what feels like 2 months but is probably more like 2 weeks— and I don’t do well without sunshine. What I don’t want to think is that I’m just tired. While in general I believe you should listen to your body when you feel like you need a rest, I find that I never practice this belief in my own life. The stubborn side of me comes out and I just tell myself to stop being such a baby, have a protein shake and deal with it. Don’t I need to push myself to the point of exhaustion? Doesn’t my body need to know what that feels like? Doesn’t exhaustion just mean that I’m working really hard, and isn’t that a good thing?

I know (because I’ve been told by Lola and Callie, who are often smarter about me than I am) that now that I’ve come this far, I need to concentrate more on finding balance and learning to allow myself to rest when I find that I haven’t allowed myself to do something fun/relaxing in a while and I need an extra coffee–with a shot of espresso– to feel like a functional human being.

I think by “balance”, Lola means that she wants me to retract my no-dating policy, which, at her insistence, I kind of did a couple of weeks ago (I refused to call it a date, and it was quickly dubbed a “friend outing”). While it didn’t exactly work out smashingly in the end, I learned a lot of important lessons that really surprised me.

To be honest, if it wasn’t for Lola’s convincing, I wouldn’t have gone out with him. Besides the fact that I didn’t think he was my type (whatever my “type” is), I wasn’t sure I wanted to be dating again- even just one measly date. And I would have been passing up a really great date with a super nice guy without even realizing it. That’s lesson 1. Lesson 2: it’s not all or nothing. You can test the waters, dip your toes in rather than diving in headfirst. This might sound obvious, but I guess I felt like coming out of my dating coma meant that I was going to be totally thrown wide awake into the dating stratosphere. But that’s simply not true. A date can just be a date, if you let it be (or in this case, a friend outing). Lesson 3 is one I already knew but hadn’t been given in return for quite some time: honesty is key. I was really honest with him upfront about my hesitance towards dating due to my laser-like focus on myself. Not only was he okay with that, but he respected it and still wanted to go out with me. And I totally commend him for this because I think my situation is hard to explain to someone, at least without them thinking I was two steps away from crazy and might be walking a fine line now. And he was quite honest with me upfront about where he was in his life. It was so refreshing. Complete honesty right from the get go is rare in the dating realm, at least in my experience (and I do happen to have some of the most bizarre dating stories out there, so maybe my personal experience is just unlucky). But the transparency in this situation– before we even went out– made for a totally relaxed, completely enjoyable evening that overall started to renew my faith in the entire concept of dating.

Overall, I realized I am much more optimistic about dating in general, and—here’s the key— a hundred times more okay with the fact that I’m single than I was six months ago. And–how bizarre is this?– I have found myself suddenly thankful that I didn’t get into a relationship back then. I needed to figure myself out first, not find someone to save me.

And I realized that I don’t always have all the answers- even when it comes to myself. Sometimes I need to listen to the people around me. Sometimes I need to be more open. And sometimes I just need to take a chance.

21 Jun

Today’s bike ride kicked. my. ass. I probably wouldn’t even be typing right now, except I have a laptop and can therefore stretch out on my couch while writing–that’s about all the physical exertion I can handle right about now.

Let me rewind to yesterday. My brother and I went biking and I felt like I accomplished a lot.
With his help, I tackled some hills and learned how to switch gears appropriately. Might not sound like a big deal, but I’m really happy that we focused on this and that he was there to help me because I feel much more prepared. The bike ride I take in my town is great, but there are no hills, so it’s a little wimpy as far as training goes.

At my brother’s insistence (and also because we couldn’t find a wrench in the right size), I didn’t take the toe cages off my bike and instead learned how to use them. I was a little scared of them and had never managed to get both my feet in at once; I was afraid I would tip over, which when you think about it is absolutely something that would happen to me. But I learned to use them! And I didn’t tip over! Not only that, but by the end of today I was getting them both in on the first try. This made me really happy. It’s the small things in life sometimes. Kind of like this next accomplishment….

I managed to grab my water bottle and take a drink while riding! AND I put it back while riding. What now, biotch?! Yeah, I know. You’re intimidated by my skillz. Don’t worry. Today I managed to grab the water bottle but nearly dropped it, caught it by the lid, nearly lost control of the bike and rode off the path into the grass, forgot my feet were in the toe cages and almost fell off my bike. So this still needs some work.

Immediately after the ride, we ditched our bikes, tossed our helmets, and went for a run around the block. We had been warned that your legs will feel incredibly weird when you make the transition from biking to running, and those warnings were definitely justified. I felt like someone was pulling down on the front of my legs while meanwhile, I was trying to remain upright and move in a forward motion. Not to mention that we had spent the last stretch of the bike ride going all out, so I was exhausted before my feet even hit the ground. But running after the bike ride was exactly what I needed to do…since it’ll be exactly what I’ll need to do 35 days from now…

Today, we went for another ride. This time we went farther and were riding for about 2 hours. I am not even sure exactly where we were the entire time, but there were a lot of hills. A lot of BIG hills. As my brother was quick to remind me, it was perfect for training- exactly what I wanted. And he was right. But holy cow, I am the most exhausted girl on the planet right now. I think if, towards the end of the ride, a crazed madman had jumped out of the woods wielding a knife, I wouldn’t have been able to move fast enough to get away from him. By the time we got back to the house, I had used nearly every bit of energy that I had. Which is, as odd as it sounds, a great feeling. And now, I can lie here and feel okay about being lazy and consuming a few extra calories. Because I totally earned it.

Beyond words

16 Jun

Let me start by saying that there are few times in my life where I really feel like I don’t know the words to use to describe something. At worst, I can usually string together a passable description of what I think or feel, or what I’ve seen or done. At best, I can write something that feels perfect even to me, my own harshest critic. At this moment I’d love to do nothing more than find the most flawless and exact words. And although I already know I’m going to fall short, it won’t stop my attempt.

I write because there are always words in my head. And I decided to write here, in particular, not only because I needed an outlet, but because I needed a record. I knew that I was at the start of quite a transformation in my life, and I needed to not just live it but write it, too. Every single word I write and letter I type is straight from my heart. I hide nothing, I share everything; it’s just how I am.

Along the way I have been blessed to find that my closest friends, my family and even strangers love to read what I write. Nearly 600 people from 25 countries have read my words. I’ve received so many kind comments on my posts, so many words of encouragement, of understanding, of support. It’s been incredible.

But nothing has even come close to being as incredible as Saturday night, when I learned that the things I’ve gone through, the path I’m taking, the words I’ve written have truly been an inspiration for someone else. And I learned this in possibly the most perfect way imaginable. Actually, I take that back. It was unimaginable, even for me, who imagines everything. Every detail of what happened was extremely touching. The gesture in and of itself made me realize how much I was understood, and how much my words and outlook had made an impact. I could never have imagined a moment like that. It was one of the most sincere and beautiful things anyone has ever done for me. Ever.

Although it was a public gesture, it was also a private gesture, and in a room full of people only a handful really knew what happened and how much it meant, which made it even more wonderful. And that’s why, in contrast to my usual style, I don’t want to go into detail here. Maybe some moments can’t be described, some things can’t be explained. And maybe, sometimes, even for me… they don’t need to be.

It’s beyond words. Thank you.

Countdown Breakdown

12 Jun

Saturday might possibly be my last 5K before the tri. Although I knew that, it suddenly occurred to me that that means I want it to go really, really well so that I’m as confident as possible about my progress and my potential. Although this means a slightly unnecessary increase in the pressure I feel to do well on Saturday, I am the queen of self-induced pressure. So that works out alright.

And even though every time I run in a race I want to do better than the time before, this time I feel like there’s a little more at stake. With only 44 days until the tri, I fluctuate daily, sometimes hourly, between feeling confident and excited (like when I realize I’ve biked 30 miles and finish feeling like a freakin’ rock star) to feeling overwhelmed and underprepared (like when I am lifting weights at the gym and need to reduce the weight to the lightest possible…eek, I’m such a girl).

To compound this, I will be in Mexico in the beginning of July- I get back and there’s a week and a half until the triathlon. While I fully plan on training while I’m in Mexico, I know that margaritas and lying on the beach will be a bigger draw, and those few days in Mexico will be a test of my willpower and determination. Not to mention that I want to be at my goal weight on triathlon day, which is currently 7.6 pounds away. With the tri being about 6 weeks away, I’ll have to lose about 1.3 pounds per week in order to make it. Did I mention how much I love Mexican food and margaritas? I usually like to live by the rule that there are no such thing as calories when you’re on vacation, but I don’t think I can afford that kind of logic this time. Again: unnecessary pressure, but pressure I will put on myself regardless.

Ok, so it’s obvious that what’s happening here is that I’m allowing myself to stop and think too much, something I haven’t allowed myself to do lately because of its disastrous side effects. Believe me, not thinking much (for me) is much better than thinking like I normally do because a normal amount of thinking is an insane amount of thinking, to be honest. See how it started with thinking about the simple fact that this could be my last 5K before the tri and snowballed from there? Yeah. That’s nothing compared to what my thought process can be. Sometimes I exhaust myself. And what I’ve learned lately is that I really don’t know as much as I think I do. I always think I have it all figured out, or that I could figure it out, if I think about it enough. This long-held belief of mine, however, is bullshit. It’s funny to realize that you don’t have things as figured out as you thought you did, and to be okay with that.

So I just headed to the gym right after work, where I hopped on the treadmill and don’t remember a single thing I thought about the whole time. Besides “How many minutes do I have left on this thing?!?”, of course.

Seven down!

8 Jun

I finished my seventh 5K on Saturday. I can’t believe I’ve done seven since March. Seven! I remember when Audrey first suggested we run a 5K to prepare for the tri; I think I simultaneously wanted to laugh, throw up and cry. To be honest, there’s still a point during almost every race where I want to throw up and cry. But since the first one I’ve been doing them of my own free will. And liking it! Who would have thought?

And I’m glad I like it, because I know it’s really helped me lose weight and prepare for the triathlon. And those are two things that have really shaped nearly everything I’ve done and every decision I’ve made since January. My focus is so much on the end goal that I don’t really take the time to stop and look around to really see where I am, which is 25 pounds lighter and maybe a little bit of an athlete. Actually, scratch that, maybe I’m just a little bit of a runner, not an athlete. As my brother was quick to point out this weekend, I still cannot throw a baseball worth a damn (once, about 5 feet to the right of my dad and the next time, almost directly down to the ground. I do not know what is wrong with me). I cannot wait to celebrate everything I’ve achieved, but aside from a mini-shopping spree with my mom once my clothes became too big to to wear, I’m not willing to celebrate yet. As I’ve mentioned, I’m afraid of losing my focus or getting too proud of what I’ve accomplished and having that turn into a little bit of laziness. I have, as of this moment, 47 days, 18 hours, 2 minutes and 51 seconds of hard work ahead of me, and I’m not going to truly relax until the triathlon is over.

But you better believe there will be a killer celebration once it is.