Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sixteen Weeks and Counting

Ironman Lake Placid is 16 weeks from today.  And I am still waiting for the planets to align and for things to just go smoothly.  I can only hope I've gotten most of the bumps in the road out of my way early.  The poison oak, the calf injury, and the latest debacle of getting sick these past 2 weeks.  In absolute gratitude I can say that I never got "sick-sick", like a flu will take you out sick.  I was a little tired and not 100%, but the defining factor was the absolute loss of my voice for about 5 full days (gone! I tell you!) and it is STILL not quite normal.  My lungs were also coated with gook, which was the limiting factor for training.  So my coach summarily grounded me.  No training at all for the first week and easing back this past week with easy hour rides or jog-walks (ick!).  The little monkeys in my neurotic type A triathlon brain have been running amok and causing so much panic and coaching angst; I am still, truthfully, working them back into submission.  I know for sure that Coach Greg is not lying when he says he has my health and well being as top priority.  I do.  But I have hardly any base at all in me right now and feel like I don't even have the usual winter fitness my crazy self maintains and when he told me to start to wrap my head around the fact I may very well need to scratch my plans for Wildflower in 5 weeks, I almost lost my head. 

But these past couple weeks have afforded me the time to think as well, and in calming the monkeys, I have tried to start listing the things that this particular Ironman is trying to teach me.  Oh, and teach you different things each one will!
1) is always the new lessons on the path to the elusive "balance" of training for an event of this magnitude and still maintaining some semblance of a normal life, all while keeping your sanity.  Coach Greg promised me help with that up front and he is definitely all about that.  Even though I feel so overbalanced in the free time area right now that I'm about to tip over, I'm sure there are techniques to be found here and called upon in these next weeks, when (hopefully) things start to shift to the other direction.

2) is that it is high time, at my mid-life age, that I start to learn to be more open to change and trying new things.  So, not only am I totally relearning how to swim, ride and run, but I'm trying to put some trust in other people and their knowledge, and in change in general.  This is what has me staying the course and seeing how this all shakes down July 22nd.  It may be a disaster--who knows?--but I will have learned something about me and training none the less.

3)Sugar and processed foods are of the devil.  The more I read and the more I experiment, I am convinced of it.  Did you know it has been proven that they will lower your immunity?!?  Enough said.  I am trying mightily to get them OUT of my life entirely.  And I'm tracking the effects and results to help build a case for that in my own mind.  Some people can handle sugar.  I can't.

Not all was lost, however, with these two weeks mostly "off".  Like I said, I was so grateful not to be down-and-out-sick.  I got some stuff done!  First, I put up my Easter decorations!

Then I actually succeeded in finishing and compiling my scrapbook pages from 2009!
(yes, I know I'm 3 years behind--suck it.)
Hard to see, but this is a tedious, detailed double page layout of a trip to Great America amusement park that summer.  I stamped and colored the bottom border and then cut out and put sticker foam between some of the elements to give it depth, making me feel like a scrapbooking genius.

 And now, possibly most significant, was the progress made on 2 way-too-long-"in progress" quilt projects!  Neither is completely done, so I will just give you the teaser photos for now.  I have come to the conclusion that embroidery just might be my own personal form of meditation.  Voila!

And in keeping with the "Christmas in March" theme, here is the center of a quilt I actually began working on...oh, I don't know, like, 12 years ago!  Disturbingly, there is a big pucker in the middle that you can't see in this picture, so I've left it lying on the floor where you see it until I can sanely figure out how to deal with it.

(Referring to my last post) I was able to put a significant chunk into my March "Happiness Goals" of time in the yard.  I have pulled weeds...lots of them!  We live on almost three acres, so I have plenty of work, and really the patches I am after are manageable, but super duper time consuming.  I just want to get the spaces around my raised beds and around the buildings and animal enclosures weeded and cleaned up, ready for spring/summer.

Sorry, I can't get this picture right side up, but it probably echoes the actual level of "Exercise in Futility" that this little seed planting venture depicts anyway, seeing as I have yet to figure out how to keep the deer and juvenille delinquent goat from eating anything and everything I might get to sprout this year.  Last year was a pretty big failure in the garden.  I'm trying to set my goals lower, but mine garden enemies have multiplied.

And lastly, before I go, let me return full circle and give you all some small piece of comfort to carry with you this week.  Alas, it is true.  You CAN find ANYTHING on the internet.
These...are my two new swimsuits.

And yes, that is a tail on the back.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

My Own "Happiness Project"

Among other things my new triathlon coach has given me these first few months of working together, he recommended this book: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  In it, Ms. Rubin reflects on how she came to a stark realization one day that she was careening through life, getting through each day, but that even though she had much to be grateful for and joyful about, a feeling of happiness was distinctly missing.  She then set out on a year of a personal quest to investigate and remedy this situation for herself.  Her approach was to isolate areas of her daily life which impacted her level of happiness (personal relationships, health, tidy home/environment, among others) and set some very modest daily goals which corresponded to each month's "theme" and then built on them (she carried January's goals into February, February's into March, etc., until December, where she spent a month trying to perfect the objectives of the past 11 months).  All the while she remained cognizant of how each of these elements factored into her overall level of feeling happy.

This book, and Gretchen Rubin's reflections really resonated with me, and very much apealed to my obsession with goal setting.  Her approach was different from my usual start-of-the-year approach in a couple of ways.  She focused on mastering one specific area per month, in contrast to my usual scatter-shot, often overwhelming goals in too many areas all at once.  In addition, her goals were small, simple and daily as opposed to my more-usual monthly goals, where the month gets away from me and I come to the end empty handed and defeated.

SO...I headed into January with what I know for absolute sure is the most basic foundation of happiness for me:  Health.
 Just as Ms. Rubin did, I made up a daily checklist.  At the end of each day I evaluated how I did in the following:
1.  In bed by 9:15, lights out by 10:00.
2.  Nutrition:  sticking to my calorie plan/no sugar/no processed foods.
3.  Take vitamins.
4. Brush teeth 2 times a day (and floss).
5.  Use sunscreen.
6.  Finding some creative time, even 15 minutes.
7.  Training as per new coach.
8.  Bike commute Noah to school whenever weather permits.
9.  1 protein shake/day.
10. 2 dog walks/day.
I also gave myself "extra credit" for finding ways to work these in to Sporty Spice's daily routines.

 Our crowning moment may have been one ride to school in January in 27 degree weather.

In February, I continued this daily checklist of habits and then added HOME ORGANIZATION (all 6,500 square feet of it!).  I first made a master-list of every room/area of the house and garage that could use a serious de-cluttering and crap-tossing and then set a goal of averaging an hour a day working on it.  Time wise, I logged about 16 out of the 29 hours, but made quite a bit of progress.
 This is my giant "goodwill pile" in the garage!  But, in keeping with the big-picture, goal of increasing happiness, I'm not going to beat myself up over not meeting the total hour-goal, but will continue into March, which will focus on GARDEN and YARD.  One of the projects left is to finally work in our home library!  We are truly still "digging out" from our move 3 years ago.  But in January we finally bought bookcases!  I can't believe we have a whole room for books, a room I've pretty much closed the doors on and forgotten existed until now.
 The main motivation behind the focus on Home Organization and Garden and Yard lies in my previous experience of heading into Ironman training with a huge cluttered house and two acres of weeds, knowing how much that stresses me out.  And progress I can make now will pay off in happiness between now and July 22.

Training and Happiness were both challenged in February, I'm here to say!  The first speedbump came in the form of THIS GUY,
 giving me one of the worst cases of poison oak I've ever seen!  It lasted well over 2 weeks, during which time I also pulled a calf muscle which still has me only running in the pool.  And then I had to have a crown put on a tooth, and then had to have it put back on after it fell off.  I'm hoping all these things are on the mend, and March will see more consistent problem-free training.
One thing that will make training much happier is THIS!!  The Mister surprised me with this new bike (still being built).  Electric shifting!   Can't wait to take it for a spin!