The Warrior Dash 2011 race was in Florence, AZ, this past Saturday and Sunday. They hold races all over the country, but this was the first year in Arizona. I’m beginning to really fall in love with race events. Doesn’t matter if it’s a 5K, a triathlon, or a crazy obstacle race like this one — the people and environment seem to all hold a common thread throughout: positivity. Instead of the “I’m gonna kick your butt” mentality that you see in so many other sports, there was an encouraging, fun-loving atmosphere that really makes the race more fun overall.
I held off on this one because I have a shamefully underpowered upper body. I was afraid I would have 7th grade camp flashbacks of climbing the wooden wall with a rope and failing miserably. So, Chuck signed up and I decided to cheer him on from the sidelines for this race.
We got to the race and I saw almost more women racing than men. I instantly regretted my choice to not race, as the outrageous costumes, team outfits, and groups just looked like they were having the time of their lives. We saw lots of “Underoos” underwear in adult sizes. More than I wanted to see, actually. Spiderman, Superman, Batman underwear-clad males with capes were ready to race. We saw one man in an orange prison jumpsuit and his wife running next to him with a sheriff’s badge. There was an entire team of Richard Simmons’ lookalikes. It was fantastic!
Chuck ran a great race, but in Vibram Five Finger barefoot shoes on a very rocky course, he ended up having to walk quite a bit of it. But I got to catch several points on video where he jumped over two fire pits, plowed through the mud, and climbed over a 20 ft high cargo net. I loved the goofy fun, and hope to race next year side-by-side with Chuck.
It’s all too easy to wallow, worry, fret, and sulk. Competitive personalities (like me) are sometimes quick to frustration when things aren’t going the way you think they should. When you’re stuck, frustrated, angry, and upset, the last thing you need to focus on is how nothing seems to be working right. It’s time to focus on gratitude.
Finding your gratitude is always easier said than done. Human nature tends to find the fault in any situation rather than the opportunity. I have started to remind myself several times a day to be thankful and grateful for something. Pick one specific thing. It can be just a silly, trivial, tiny thing. But it’s a start because you’re grateful for it.
The next time you feel yourself start to slip into negativity, recognize it and stop yourself. Perfect time for you to find another thing to be grateful about. I have to do this at least ten times a day. I have also started to write more frequently in my Moleskine, and instead of making it a bitch session, I write down all the positive things happening, and all the events during the day that give me gratitude.
Taking the time to find something to be grateful for gives you the rare opportunity to live in the moment. As a “Type-A” personality, one of the most difficult things I can do is live in the moment. I’m always chasing the next big thing, whether it’s learning a new programming language, picking up more graphic design, learning to become a runner (and maybe triathlete) or looking forward to the next big contract. Finding my own gratitude is an everyday, ongoing challenge. And I’m grateful for the opportunity. ;)
This past weekend we went to Oceanside, CA to cheer on our friends Dean, Kim, & Rick. They were all racing at the Oceanside Ironman 70.3 which is a half-Ironman triathlon distance. It was our first time experiencing a triathlon race of any distance, and we felt pretty noobish in the beginning trying to figure out where to stand, where to look for our racers, etc.
The Oceanside Ironman 70.3 consists of a 1.2 mile swim followed by a 56 mile bike ride, then a 13.1 mile (half-marathon) run. It’s exactly half of the full Ironman distance, but has all of the challenges that the full does. We were sitting at the harbor dock by 5:45am, waiting on the swim waves to begin. California sea lions frolicked in the harbor, and we saw pelicans, cormorants, and a host of other marine life. Then the gun went off, and the professional triathletes dove into the water to swim out to the start buoy.
It was a bit hard to watch the swim, as it started at a buoy across the harbor and curved out of sight. We waited with anticipation as 22 minutes later, the first professional triathlete swam in and was a blur of wetsuit and water as he sped to the transition (changing area) to get started on the bike leg. We continued to watch the swimmers come in, the majority coming in around 45 minutes or so in huge groups. I saw so many different body shapes, sizes, and challenged athletes.
At one point, I saw a swimmer come into the dock and a volunteer picked up the swimmer and helped them to their transition point. Tears sprung to my eyes when I realized that the swimmer had no legs, and was an above-knee amputee. The challenged athletes were amazing and inspiring, and I watched them with awe and respect. After all, they all swam MUCH faster than I can. I have no excuse for not training hard enough when I run, swim, cross train — or anything.
We cheered on Dean & Kim as they transitioned from swim to bike, bike to run, etc. Then we parked ourselves on a sunny, grassy lawn and cheered for all the runners as they went by during their half-marathon run. We saw all kinds of shapes and body sizes, and everyone had a look of grit and determination on their faces. Later, we headed to the finish line to cheer on the finishing athletes. One finisher was 78 years old — and many others in their 60’s. If I could sum up the entire weekend in one word, it would be inspiring.
Sometimes all it takes is watching someone more challenged than you, with more potential excuses than you, do something truly amazing. Those athletes have motivated me to train harder, run faster, and not use excuses.
I’ve been thinking lately about personal growth. With running, I get frustrated because I feel like I’m so slow and don’t seem to be improving as fast as I’d like. In reality, I’m probably doing quite well — I’ve got that “healthy muscle pain” most days of the week — and that pain brings growth. While I would love to stay with just breezy 2 mile run workouts, I know it’s time to move up. It’s only when you get OUT of your comfort zone that you begin to grow.
Two months ago, an easy two-mile run would have been out of the question in my head. Running a 5K race? You’re kidding, right? Six miles? Oh hell, no. 13.1 mile half-marathon? Thanks, but no thanks. But slowly, I’m moving forward. I know I’ll be ready for that half-marathon this Labor Day, no matter how uncomfortable the thought of it is to me right now.
It makes me wonder about other areas of my life I need to get out of my comfort zone. While I love learning new technologies and languages, it’s always easier just to keep on doing what you already know. So I’ve decided to do my best to stay out of my comfort zone for awhile and keep pushing myself harder in anticipation of growth.
My favorite band, Béla Fleck & the Flecktones, wrote a song called Sojourn of Arjuna. It’s from the Bhagavad Gita and talks about moving forward, fostering growth, stepping out of your comfort zone. Victor Wooten speaks over the instrumental, and one line is, “A man must go forward from where he stands — he cannot jump to the absolute, he must evolve toward it.”
Get out of that comfort zone that you’re cozily snuggled into. Step out into an unknown that makes you uncomfortable, maybe scares you a little. Make those muscles ache, whether it’s your brain, body, or spirit. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish while you’re living outside your comfort zone.
Last Saturday Chuck & I did our first “long” run of 6.4 miles in preparation for our half-marathon. We’re both new to running (myself more than him), and we learn something new every run. This was a chance to test our bodies to see what happens – how far can we go and how much will it hurt?
I learned that the little things you don’t notice at mile three, you will suddenly notice at mile six. Like the thick seam on my sock that happened to run across the length of my baby toe. Somewhere around mile six, I wiggled my right baby toe and all of a sudden felt that uncomfortable, scratchy pain that comes from getting blisters. Note to Self: Buy real running socks — the seamless kind. My cheapy ankle socks may be fine for a weekday short run, but miles down the road, the big evil seam on that sock will come back to bite you in the toe.
Next lesson learned: The pain you feel at mile four feels pretty much the same at mile six. Between miles three and four, my hip flexors started getting achy as well as my right knee (thanks figure skating) and my left ankle. Self-defeating thoughts that went through my head: “This sucks. How will I ever do a half-marathon if I’m already sore at mile four? What was I thinking signing up for it and paying the entry fee — I’m not a runner!” But I just kept going, using our run/walk intervals as planned. A great song came up next on my iPhone and I just kept running. Pretty soon, mile five was down and the pain hadn’t gotten any worse. A little later, mile six was done and the pain was slightly less than before.
I learned that you can run through the pain and in most cases, just learn to deal with it. It didn’t get worse, which gave me confidence that I was able to keep downing mile after mile, because I wasn’t going to break. It made me think of Dory from Finding Nemo: “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”
Finally, at mile 6.4, we made it home. We walked a little loop to cool down and then I took a hot shower to ease the muscle aches. Then all I wanted to do was lie down on the couch, but knowing that would make it worse, we got changed and went to Matsuri Japanese Festival in downtown Phoenix and walked around for a few hours. That night was a rough night, as we were both pretty achy, but I was surprised to find that by morning, most of the aches were not as bad and I was left with that “I had a really great hard workout” ache.
Now it’s Monday and I feel like I could do it all over again. But I’ll stick to two “normal” run workouts during the week and then maybe hit a great long run next weekend to build up some more muscle and endurance. I never thought I’d begin to like running as much as I do already!
Who knew, that in the span of just a couple of months, I’d actually begin to ENJOY running? What are these shenanigans? In the beginning of January, I started a Couch-to-5K program. On February 12th, Chuck & I ran our very first race — the SkirtChaser 5K in Tempe, Arizona.
Our times weren’t spectacular, but neither of us were runners prior to this year. The SkirtChaser 5K has the girls starting first as a head start, and then the guys get to start three minutes later. It was an “out and back” course, and Chuck caught up to me just on the other side of the halfway point. Then we ran the rest of the race together. My time was 38:47 and Chuck was about 35:45.
Three lessons I learned from my very first race (that I will probably look back at and laugh about down the road):
1) Posture Counts. I got very tired for that last mile or so, and had my head down and shuffled along with a slow, lame jog. The next day, I found that I had pulled most of my back muscles from that unnatural, heads-down posture. Ever since that run, I’m running heads-up these days.
2) Liquid is Good. I learned that I get dry mouth during a race. An aid station with a few sips of Gatorade at the 1.6 mile point wasn’t enough. Next race? Definitely getting a FuelBelt.
3) Don’t Be a Hero – Walk. I’m no natural-born Tarahumara runner. I’m turtle-slow, and I have to work at it. I’ve been training with the Jeff Galloway run-walk method. But for that race, I wanted to RUN! And as a result, because I didn’t walk at all for the first 8 minutes, I was spent for the last half of the race and quite sore the next day. Had I used the proper run/walk intervals, my time probably would have been faster and my recovery better as well. Live and learn — that’s what life’s about mostly, isn’t it?
Training with the run/walk method, I’ve been trying all kinds of intervals on the same 2.01 mile course during my weekday runs. Last night I tried a 30/35 (walk 30 seconds, run 35 seconds) instead of a 2 min run / 1 min walk. I was shocked to find that I ran a full MINUTE FASTER average pace than my best workout time from before! My run periods were coming down into 8 and 9 minute miles, and my average pace went from a 12:20 down to an 11:32!
We’re at the point where we’re starting to do long runs (long for us being six miles) on the weekends, and then over the next few months, work up to that 13.1 mile half-marathon we have in September at Disneyland. Two months ago, the thought of me running the Disneyland Half-Marathon was ridiculous. Now, I can see it happening. I even wonder if I’ll do a full marathon one day!
Here’s a link to our balloon website, (SonoranStar.com) and my post about my first hot air balloon solo flight: http://sonoranstar.com/2011/01/sharis-first-solo-flight/
It was a wonderful flight, and a memory that I will never forget. I can’t wait to do it again! Looking forward to getting my license toward March/April near the end of the flying season. This year, I’m tackling my dreams head on and making them happen.
I’ve been flying for less than a year. Around Arizona, we take the whole summer off because well, it’s just too darn hot. After the past month of flying, I am finally beginning to feel like a real pilot. Flying a balloon is easy. The aeronautical decision-making in choosing landing spots or altitudes to determine wind direction and speed — not as easy. In the past few weeks, thanks to some great friends and instructors, I’ve been able to get flights that have really helped my confidence on finding and hitting landing spots.
I am getting very close to doing my solo, which I think involves my instructor telling me to do a touch and go landing and then him leaping out of the balloon cackling maniacally as I scream careening into the atmosphere. Okay, well — that last part is probably my imagination. In other words, I think I need to be prepared for a solo at any point.
Had a great flight today with Neil, the pilot of the balloon “Cool Flyings”. He gave me some helpful instructions on what to expect from the flight examiner (think: driver’s test) that I’ll be taking in a few months. I learned to not be afraid of the vent line today — want to come down? Bring that balloon on down and land it! (And don’t bounce back up by 50 feet too while you’re at it). ;)
It’s a beautiful sport — the people are wonderful, the flights are breathtaking, and even crewing is just a great strength workout for me. I love it, and I hope I’m hooked for life.
What dream could you be achieving, piece by piece, that you are too scared to tackle? Take the biggest goal, then break it down into small, tiny bite-sized bits. How do you eat a HUGE bag of Reese’s Pieces? Piece by piece (hopefully with cardio after). Find something that scared you — something you think you could never do. And figure out a way to do it. It’s not so bad if you do it the smallest step at a time.
Buy: App Savvy
About this time last year, we spent the weekend at Disneyland and Disneyland’s California Adventure. It was a wonderful Christmas present, as the parks were decked out in the season’s finest. The lights were beautiful, and so were the parades, snowflakes, It’s a Small World, etc.
This year’s a bit busier, so we’re staying in town. Next year holds a lot of new and exciting things in store — hopefully we’ll get our pilot licenses, run a half-marathon, and who knows what else?
Hope you all have a wonderful and Merry Christmas. Go seek out that brass ring for next year, lean way out on your carousel horse, and GRAB IT!
UI/UX Developer by day, a million other hobbies by night. Attracted to shiny objects that need recharging. Passion for life, love, and sushi. Trail running, hiking, books, gaming, sketching and travel are just a few of my interests. Multi-platform (Windows, OS X, Android, iOS) enthusiast.