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Plot twist

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125 days

One hundred twenty-five days ago I was awakened by sharp neck pain, chills, headache and unable to turn or bend my neck more than a few degrees. It’s been 18 weeks since I’ve been consistently pain/stiffness free. Months of physical therapy later I am back to the low range of normal in neck mobility. I’ve worked on flexibility, posture, core strength and shoulder and back strength. I’ve learned that my neck stiffness and pain correlate with stress and poor posture. The toughest part of work involves my time in an ambulance – the most ergonomically void box ever. Understandably, it’s not about me in the ambulance. The next toughest part is looking down for long periods of time. I have made modifications within my work environment that make it tolerable. Thankfully, most days are pain-free now but I still occasionally struggle with twinges and stiffness in the lower right side of my neck. It’s more annoying than anything but improves with staying calm, stretching and self-mobilization of my cervical facet joints.

It’s also been 125 days since I’ve done anything remotely close to triathlon training. I’ve gone on walks and jogs here and there but nothing like before. There were many days of tears and I returned to unhealthy eating while embracing limited mobility, not just in my neck, on the couch. The result: weight gain, muscle loss, weakness and depression. These 18 weeks also served as a reminder, a painful one, of what life was like before I focused on being healthy. Boy, I would have much preferred a verbal reminder instead of a physical one. Apparently I needed the 2×4. But you know what? My story doesn’t stop here. This is my plot twist.

KeeperThrough the tears and frustration I prayed that God would let me see that He still cares about me. Richard and I joined a new community group in the fall and last week we studied the parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11-32. A couple of years ago I went through a study by Tim Keller called Prodigal God. It was life changing for me and I encourage you to read the parable then listen to Tim’s sermons. Anyway, for several reasons I look at God as my father and at community group we were given minutes to ponder on and thank God. I thanked God for His keeping love that night. I believe that He has a hand in everything that happens in my life and that the purpose of my life is to glorify Him. Boy, do I fail time and after time and feel like a road block sometimes but His love redeems and keeps me. I don’t understand why he let’s things that I perceive as bad happen to me but I understand that His story is bigger than mine. His perspective is different and at each turn, good or bad, He is revealing himself to me and teaching me to trust Him. I know my neck issue pales in comparison to some of the sorrows you guys are currently walking through. It’s been my struggle though and I’ve been discouraged. In addition, my grandma, whom I love dearly, is my go-to for wisdom and who is just plain awesome, almost went to see Jesus. She spent time in an ICU during a winter storm that veered 120 miles off predicted course. Because of the storm her procedure had to be repeated when the correct device could be delivered to the hospital and she had the same ICU staff for ~ 60 hours straight. Working in an ICU I know that fatigue and stress can play a huge role in medical error. I prayed that God would protect her, knowing full well that she was ready if He wanted to call her home. Good news, with some living modifications she is recovering and doing well! It’s heart-wrenching knowing those you love are hurting and struggling. Then later in the week I had a stressful day of work when I wasn’t even there. How does that even happen? Tell me I’m not alone in that!?! As I was driving to meet some friends, completely caught up in life’s recent stressors, I played the song “How He Loves”, by John Mark McMillan, on repeat. Many of you may know the version performed by David Crowder Band.

“He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.”

“Afflictions eclipsed by glory” – I finally experienced and understood those words! Have any of you ever been so overwhelmed by His love when the world would tell you to doubt, to give up, when something tragic or completely frustrating happens? That was the moment I had in the car. A time of worship despite my circumstances, a time of thankfulness for His keeping love that I can’t be too good enough not to need or disappoint him too many times to lose. It was some good truth time. John Mark explains more about his song in the brief video, link below. It’s worth the five minutes. Trust me.

How He Loves: A Song Story

Now for what’s to come after the plot twist…

Triathlon training is far from practical at this point. Realistically, holding my neck in the position for a ride on my road bike may no longer be possible. It turns just far enough to be able to breathe while swimming freestyle. Which leaves me with two sports, running and swimming. The good news? I can run and swim. I can walk, talk, breathe and dance. Well that last ones debatable, but I can move! Some triathlons have relay events available. I don’t have to completely leave the sport but I will have to modify and completing a race may now be dependent on friends competing with me. (If any of you are interested in the future let me know!)

Over the next several months I will focus on becoming healthy again. It was a long road the first time and there’s something to be said for naivety. This time I know how hard it’s going to be. My pride wants to go outside right now and bust out a 5K in 20 degree weather but my body and mind aren’t there yet. Getting real – today I completed T25’s Cardio workout, fully modified, focusing on correct form and building muscle strength. So what is getting healthier going to look like? That’s what I plan to blog about over the next year. Week by week I plan to share lessons, thoughts, struggles, wins, workouts and recipes. And I’ll need your encouragement. If any of you are going through something similar maybe we can keep each other accountable. I’m not giving up. Remind me of that.

New goals:

– Exercising 3-4x per week. I’m working a mixture of 12h day and night shifts until March so working out before or after work will be a challenge.

– Eating clean 80% of the time. Shoot, even 50% at this point would be huge!

– Two 5K events. One on my 30th birthday and another two weeks later. I’d like to run both of them. We’ll see 🙂

Blessings,

Clean and Curvy

Scalenes and PT

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Scalene muscles

I’m back! The headache, stabbing neck pain, chills, tingling, burning, and numbness may have been related to a pinched nerve high in my neck followed by severe muscle spasms and strain. Only once have I had neck pain before and it was after a car accident. I wish I had some great cause of the pain like saving a child from a burning building but nope. Just woke me up in the middle of the night. I rested two days and didn’t feel like I had the flu so I went to a chiropractor. I called first to see if he would take x-rays and he said it depended on my “condition”. Okay, well I can hardly move my neck and I have shooting pains down my spine and into my arms. He took a brief history when I arrived then took me back to the adjustment table. Insert the scary music – Dun done DUN! He made a few adjustments. There were specific points along my neck almost sent me through the roof when he palpated them. He called it “severe” but thought it was something he could fix. At least 12 adjustments later I had to stop. There was a “relief” moment and I was again able to turn my head but the rest of my neck and upper back were on fire. So if being classified as “severe” doesn’t get you x-rays then what does? The medical side of me was frustrated. My fever had gone away and I had hoped it was an easy fix which is why I sought assistance from a chiropractor first. Over the next few hours the pain worsened and my neck tightened. I attempted to go to work the next day. I have a pretty high pain tolerance and worked until the point of extreme pain before calling my doctor’s office. She had an appointment in two hours. Talk about a blessing! I made it to her office and the receptionist could tell I was in a lot of pain. I thought I was holding it together. Then one of the Neos (Attending Neonatologist for you non-NICU folks) from work walked into the waiting room. They asked how I was doing and I lost it. Tears, like crocodile ones. I promise I don’t usually cry in public but I was finally the patient and could let it out. I talked with my doctor, yes tears were still rolling down my cheeks. She is wonderful by the way – smart, practical, compassionate when she needs to be but generally a straight shooter. She assessed me, I had blood work done and X-rays, then we talked again. She took both my hands, looked me in the eyes and said, “Well, the official medical term to describe your x-ray is jacked up.” Ha! My neck was so swollen that the curve was completely straight. Next she asked me why a nurse practitioner would go to the chiropractor first when I knew meningitis was in the differential and I was having so much pain. It’s true. Nurses make the worst patients. We only seek medical care when 1) we are bleeding profusely after an hour of pressure being held, 2) when we’re in enough pain that we can’t function or breathe without hyperventilating, 3) if we’ve had a fever for over a week, or 4) when we’re dying. Anywho, because my fever went away and my headache didn’t make me throw up I kind of self ruled out meningitis. I know, I know. I’m not a doctor. I had just done a lumbar puncture, or spinal tap, on a 1.5 pound baby the day before the pain started. I know there are lots of babies who probably want retaliation for me sticking a needle in their back but I was praying against that. And thankfully my lab worked showed two things – my body was fighting something but my white count was not elevated significantly to pursue meningitis further. I was able to start a 6-day steroid pack after the labs resulted. That and low dose muscle relaxers and pain meds made me feel like a new woman. Energy wise I finally felt like myself again after two days of steroids however the pain didn’t begin to subside until after about a week. I remember waking up the following Sunday and feeling somewhat rested. It took me a week to sleep through the night but I could finally sleep again. Yes, it still hurt to move my neck and I couldn’t lift things but I could begin to move. Over the next week the pain lessened slightly day by day and granted me more mobility but I still had to take it easy. I had to rest my neck and take Tylenol after changing the laundry from the washer to the dryer. Whimp! I know. I began stretching my neck with some advice from my cousin who’s a pediatric sports medicine MD. Thank you, Kelsey! A few days later I cooked by myself and could turn my head fast enough to be able to drive. It sounds silly but I was finally able to wear my glasses and give my eyes a break. Did you know that glasses limit your peripheral vision and make you turn your head to see? Thank you, neck pain, for helping me to appreciate contacts even more. Who’d have thought? Two weeks from the initial pain I was able to return to work. The Lord provided a smooth day and I was able to complete my 24-hour shift with only mild discomfort and tightness after the first 8 hours. I went back and looked at worksheets from my last day at work and my handwriting toward the end looked like that of an angry seven year-old boy. I usually write fairly small, neat and legible. Crazy the way pain can affect a person. And now I am more attuned than ever to ergonomics. Thankful to have incubators that can move up and down and computer screens that tilt. Not everything is ergo but I appreciate what is.

Today was my first day of physical therapy. Really they should call it delayed muscle torture. The therapist did lots of neck mobility tests and muscle strength tests and decided that I had issues with my scalene muscles and around C2 and C3. Then came the exercises. For the next two days I will be doing chin tucks and tipping my ear toward my shoulder while looking up, straight forward and down. Bring on the ice and Tylenol! He said that I should get back to “life” but to let pain be my guide. If something hurts I am to change something about my posture or position and re-evaluate. Sounds simple enough. Hum, maybe both of my hands going numb during that last run was because my scalene muscles were impinging on my brachial plexus? Who knows? I’m scheduled for another two visits this week.

So where does that leave me with training? I’m going to focus on swimming and walking to bring my endurance back. Essentially I’ll have to start from the beginning. But you know what? That’s okay. Completing the Olympic TRI is a goal of mine but right now I need to focus on getting well. I am still planning on training but it will have to be less intense. To those of you who have prayed and thought about me over the last few weeks I really appreciate it! Thank you for your support and encouragement.

Overcomer

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Above all, obey your body and the thermometer–not your training program. – Marc Bloom, Runner’s World

The last two weeks have been rather still due to a bad cold, fever, fatigue, a throbbing headache and pain when I turn my neck. It was really hard not to be frustrated in the waiting. My body screamed rest but my mind worried that I was falling behind, way behind. After seeing so much about pushing through and mind-over-matter I looked for some scientific articles. Surely I shouldn’t run with a fever or when it hurts to turn my head but how long should I wait to return to training? I came across these two that I thought were helpful – Should You Run When You’re Sick? and Principles of Detraining: What happens if you stop training? Missing two weeks of training means my aerobic capacity is ~8% less, my cardiac output is reduced by ~10% because my stroke volume is decreased (even though my HR was higher), my muscle capillary density is decreased by up to 7%, the lactate level in my blood during exercise now is almost 88% higher while my lactate threshold has dropped by almost 7%. If that wasn’t enough negative change my ability to use fat for fuel during exercise has decreased ~50% while the time it takes me to be fatigued is now ~10% shorter. Seriously? I was only three weeks in and now I have to back up a week and omit a week or two in the future. Awesome. Thanks to The Triathlete’s Training Bible for helping me map out a new game plan.

Before getting sick I had one of the best training runs I’ve ever had and posted my first negative splits. I started with a 5 minute warm up walk then jog/walked intervals of 3 min/4 min for 35 minutes.

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I worked the next day then came home exhausted with an incredibly sore throat. I’d feel well enough to return to work for a 12 and 24-hour shift then crash to recover for the next shift. My resting heart rate was higher and I wore out quickly. My chest finally felt light enough to go out for one jog last week. I planned on participating in the Worldwide WordPress 5K, September 23 – 29, but I missed the allotted week due to illness so I counted this training run as my WWWP5K. I ran 3 of the 5 intervals but accidently took my “long” route – almost 4 miles. At mile two my HR peaked at 205 after running uphill. I kept pushing until my hands went numb. Okay body, you win! I considered stopping at a random person’s home to ask for water and to take a breather. At mile three I almost layed out on the sidewalk and wanted to call my boyfriend to pick me up. I was exhausted and parched. I walked the rest of the time and made it home without stopping thanks in part to some encouragement I received from Mandisa on my new jog intervals playlist. The title track of her new album, Overcomer, is an upbeat encourager. I’ve included a few lyrics (written by Christopher Stevens and David Garcia):

Everybody’s been down
Hit the bottom, hit the ground
Oh, you’re not alone
Just take a breath, don’t forget
Hang on to His promises
He wants You to know
The same Man, the Great I am
The one who overcame death
Is living inside of You
So just hold tight, fix your eyes
On the one who holds your life
There’s nothing He can’t do
He’s telling You

You’re an overcomer
Stay in the fight ‘til the final round
You’re not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it’s hopeless
That’s when He reminds You
That you’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer.

I think about Hebrews 12 when I hear this song, specifically verses 1-3: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on JESUS, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before HIM, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of GOD. Consider HIM who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

This is one of my favorite passages in Scripture. There’s so much packed into those three verses! More on Hebrews 12 and my spiritual journey to come.

Training has not been easy and getting worn down by illness is getting OLD. I thought about biking before my neck and spine hurt but I had no energy. It was hard to imagine swimming while I battled the cold. I’m hopeful that a visit to the chiropractor tomorrow will help my neck and back. This journey is painfully slow and I know there will always be challenges but I’m not giving up. And now that I feel well enough I’m getting my flu shot this week. Have you gotten yours?

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TRI training, week 4 – done

TRI training, week 4 – done

This is one my favorite motivational quotes. I saw it on Pinterest but it’s originally from Gibson’s Daily Running Quotes. I know it’s only week four and I have a long way to go but I’m still moving. Not fast. I’ve struggled and I haven’t seen much progress from a weight loss stand point but I’m not giving up. Here’s what the week looked like:

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When I got off work on Tuesday morning I went home and slept on and off for the next five hours. I was tired – 72 hours of work in five days. I looked forward to the next two days off. Around 6pm I went for a walk/jog around the neighborhood. One thing I love about my quaint little neighborhood is that people are active. I must have passed 10 different sets of dogs and owners and an additional 15 runners. We smile and manage a wave between huffs. My win for this workout is that I added in 3 hills. I ran up each of them. Don’t get me wrong. A headwind would have stopped me in my tracks but I didn’t quit! I felt accomplished. The race I’m training for is in an area that lies “between the ridge-and-valley portion of the Appalachian Mountains and the Cumberland Plateau”. Thank you, Wikipedia. In other words – hilly. My neighborhood is relatively flat but it connects to one with some serious hills, at least from my novice running perspective. Since I’ll be running ~3 days per week I’m going to start running the first one easy, add in some short sprints or hills to the second run, and then the third one will be the “long run”. Maybe one day I’ll be able to run the whole workout. For now I’m happy to see my split times getting faster. I know it makes sense because I’m jogging slightly longer intervals than when I started but it’s progress! I would be ecstatic to keep a 10-minute mile pace for 6.2 miles at the end of the triathlon! I almost wimped out on the final interval. I looked down at my MapMyRun app and it said I had 15 more seconds to go. Oh yeah, I can do this. I kept jogging and completed my interval then threw in an additional minute for good measure. I’m recognizing that the mental component of training is a pretty huge factor. I read an article in Runner’s World today about overcoming mental roadblocks: Negative thinking, rigid goals, doubt and unfair comparisons to others. They do exist! Read their suggestions to hurdle the roadblocks here. If you’re a fellow running newbie also check out their series of articles called The Starting Line. In addition to tackling the hills I paid attention to my footstrike, aiming for a midfoot strike instead of with my heel. It feels like I land on my midfoot and roll to push off my toes. Maybe one of my local running stores will offer a free gait evaluation sometime soon. A girl can hope.

Wednesday morning I slept through swim practice. Oops! I didn’t fall asleep until 2am the night before. When I woke up at 9, I ate a quick breakfast and headed to the Y for a bike and swim. I did 6 miles on the stationary bike because it looked a little stormy and I’m not comfortable enough yet on my road bike to ride in the rain. I’ve ridden on wet roads before and was nervous the whole time. But what’s the worst that could happen? A fall. Been there at least 5 times before. I’m pretty much a professional “faller”. Last time I was able to incorporate a roll and only came away with some road rash and a few bruises. Anywho, I set the bike to an intervals program and kept my rpms 95-105. The weather held off (no thunder) so I was able to swim. No swim team interference this early in the day. Woot woot! I repeated the swim workout from last week and stuck to my intervals. Again, I had to remind myself to kick.

I ended up sleeping and resting though most of Friday after I got home from work. I’ve had some rough shifts in the past week. I incredibly thankful to have a job so please do not take that as a complaint. I’ve just had some really sick kiddos lately and it’s wearing on me a little. Three days off could not have come at a better time.

Saturday morning I woke up dizzy. I could not put one foot in front of the other. I ran into a doorframe within two steps and had to brace myself with the wall. I drank some water and went back to sleep. More hydration issues? Stuffy ears from swimming? I only managed two meals the day before because I slept so much so maybe my blood sugar was low? Low BP when I sat up? No clue but it went away after another sleep cycle. (Mom, if you’re reading this I promise to go see my doc if it becomes a pattern). I got dressed, hydrated and grabbed a quick snack then headed to the pool. I told myself that if I didn’t feel well enough to swim then it would be worth watching others with good technique or that I would do a light workout. I felt better by the time I got to practice so I jumped in. And surprise – warm up lasts 20 minutes on Saturdays! Um, until last week that was the duration of my entire swim workout! I took breaks between my 100’s in warm up. No way would I be able to make it through the rest of the workout if I put all my effort into warm up. The workout was jumbled. Between the 18 of us across 9 lanes and the music the lifeguards had playing I could hardly hear the workout. They turned it down but it’s an indoor pool so the acoustics don’t lend well to hearing someone talk from the water. The guy in the next lane told us what he heard so we went with that. He’s a faster swimmer than I am so I ended up swimming the same distances (most of the time) then taking 5 seconds rest before starting the next thing. I have no idea what the intervals were. I was exhausted by the end but I put in the work and accomplished something. I focused on rotating and pulling through the water with my forearms in addition to my hands. My goggles kept fogging up and I couldn’t see the clock very well so I just swam. And swam, and swam, and kicked. I learned that I didn’t need as much rest as I thought. That night a friend joined me for the jog/walk. She’s a runner and has long legs, lucky, so I’m pretty sure I slowed her down but she didn’t let me feel bad about it if I did. Thanks, friend! I used the “talk test” throughout our workout and listened to my body. My stomach got a little queasy when my HR hit 199 during the run. I slowed down that interval, including the next walk, to allow my HR to recover at 167. After that my stomach and lungs felt better. Around mile four I got a second wind but played it safe and ended my workout close to on-time. It was a good day! I enjoy training by myself at times but today I needed swim club and Claire to keep me going. So thank you, training buddies!

TRI training, week 3 – done

TRI training, week 3 – done

This week included time out of town and being a tad under the weather.

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Monday held a run outside in mid-afternoon Alabama heat and humidity followed by an indoor swim in a saltwater pool. I woke up that morning exhausted and had some tummy discomfort. It’s a tough day when you wake up tired. I usually set my alarm clock based on sleep cycles but didn’t today. Does anyone else do that? That may have played a small role but I felt generally run-down all day. Anywho, about a third of the run was on a gravel trail through the woods. I loved the shade and paid extra attention to my footing. No ankle rolls, yahoo! I downed quite a bit of water before and after the run but the heat was exhausting so I choose stick with the “required” swim distance. I was beat.

Tuesday involved traveling back to Nashville and more generally not feeling well. I took the day off from training. See, I’m learning to listen to my body. I pushed it the day before and that didn’t get me anywhere except on the couch.

About 1:30am on Wednesday I awoke, drenched. PJs, hair, sheets, everything. Guess a fever would explain feeling so crummy earlier. I felt drastically better after a few more hours of sleep, just in time to attend my first Masters swim club practice at 6:45am. I really enjoyed it! See my earlier post “Sink or swim, I’m diving in” for more details.

Friday I took a nap after work and did the swim workout on my own in the evening. Apparently Friday is Fin Day at swim club so I gave it a shot. Interesting experience. I’m using Z2 Zoomers when swimming on my own at the Y. I learned what it felt like to point my toes and to kick from my hips. I have a wimpy kick. Seriously, I have to tell my self to kick when I swim. I would pull the whole workout if I could. I have to save my legs for the bike and the run anyway, right? A wimpy kick may not be a bad thing after all, just kidding. Hopefully it will improve. I debated swimming a few months on my own before joining a Masters group but decided that if I went ahead and jumped in now I’d likely be further along in four months than if I had waited four months to join. We’ll see! 🙂

Since I got called in to work for a 24h shift on Saturday I pushed the walk/jog to Sunday evening. It’s finally starting to feel like Fall here, a cool 77 degrees, a welcomed relief compared to the heat during Monday’s workout. It went well. I took it easy and felt I could have gone longer. No bike this week due increasing my swim distance. Hopefully I’ll be back to all three next week. Swim. Bike. Run.

Hope everyone had a great week!

TRI training, week 2 – done

TRI training, week 2 – done

This week was fun. It didn’t go as planned but I managed to work everything in. It was a week of lessons. All good ones – I just wish I had already known them.

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On Monday night my boyfriend and I went on the walk/jog together. We decided not to take music so that I could work on my jogging pace. You’ve heard of the “talk test” right? Our friends at Runners World explain it well in their article Speak Easy. Remember that crazy HR of 207 when I started the run of the TRI-it-on? That’s the highest its been in a while but sudden high heart rate regardless of exercise is something I’ve dealt with on and off since high school when I was diagnosed with Dysautonomia. Basically my autonomic nervous system, the part of the body that control things like my cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal system, metabolic system, and endocrine system, is sometimes dysfunctional. So no matter how “fit” I am, my HR is often above my aerobic zone during exercise. I’ve worn a HR monitor for the past seven years when exercising. I remember during my sprint TRI in 2007 I hadn’t yet figured out how to turn off the beeping noise it makes when you’re out of zone so during the run it was going off like crazy. An older gentleman ran passed me and shouted, “You’re not going to blow up, are you?” Haha. Nope. Come on, heart rate. I came home from the race, pulled out the instructions and had it changed before the afternoon. Usually I don’t need to see the number or hear the alarm. I can feel it when my HR stays >198 for more than three minutes. I feel winded. Sometimes it’s just my Dysautonomia kicking in, most times I’ve pushed too hard. But this journey is about being healthier so I’m going to start listening to my body. That’s why I’m slowing down and using the “talk test”. Of course it means I won’t be going as far in the allotted time. There will be times to push and times to slow down but I will keep moving, knowing this will be better for me in the long run (no pun intended but it totally works). So back to the walk/jog intervals – I felt great. We actually jogged longer on the last interval because we were feeling so good. I almost ate the sidewalk during the first interval. I got excited telling a story and totally ran my left foot off the concrete, down to the ground 5” below. The grass was tall so I didn’t expect to feel that lopsided. It threw off my balance but I recovered in 3-4 steps, arms flailing. A little ankle roll but not a bad one. I couldn’t help but laugh, which was good because my boyfriend was laughing too. I couldn’t see the expression on the lady’s face walking her three dogs toward us because it was dark. Maybe I should pay better attention to where I’m going but I’m from the South and Southerners have an innate desire to look at a person when they’re talking or listening to them. Oooo, or maybe I should get a headlamp. Do people wear headlamps while running at night?

Tuesday I was going to make up for the swim I missed on Monday and bike. One of my friends and her husband just welcomed their first child into the world, a precious little girl, so I was going to make them dinner that night. I looked through my recipes and found my grandma’s blueberry muffin recipe. Not clean but they are delicious. I read through the ingredients, searched my “baking center”, made a list of what I needed (including the other meal items) and then headed to the grocery and a small country store a few miles down the road. Well two trips to the grocery and two trips to the feed mill later I finally had everything I needed. Note – just because the extract bottle is brown doesn’t mean it’s vanilla. Ug. And I left my debit card and cash in my workbag. Of course a small town feed mill wouldn’t take anything else. Winner in the planning department right here. The extra trips ate a good hour of my day. There went my dedicated swim time. I visited my friend in my workout clothes. The new mom looked more presentable than I did, awesome, then headed to the YMCA (Y) to get in a bike ride. Five miles into my workout I was fading. Oops, should have eaten a real meal by now. It was 7pm. I had an energy bar and a muffin earlier in the day but hadn’t focused on hydration or protein. I churned out the last few miles at 45-60% instead of 90%. Lesson learned.

Wednesday’s lesson – Check the swim team schedule. It was another walk/jog interval and swim day. I was going to do two swim workouts in one. I packed my swim bag and headed off to the Y. I hate treadmills, I really do, but curvy girls need more than a swimsuit to run in so I chose to run then change into my suit. The interval workout went as well as it could for being indoors. I walked at 3.7 mph and jogged at 5.2 mph. That seems so much slower than what I do outdoors. This may be a silly question but does running on a treadmill help you learn to pace? Anywho, I went to the locker room and shimmied my suit on. Okay girls, you know what I mean. Guys have it so easy getting into a swimsuit when they’re sweaty. It’s a workout in itself getting the suit on. I grabbed my towel, goggles and pink cap and headed to the pool. I made it to the glass doors and saw some serious speed work going on in every lane except for the one with little kiddos learning to float on their backs. Dang it. Swim team. I looked at the schedule posted on the door and sure enough a local high school’s swim team had the pool occupied for another two hours. With the outdoor pool (50 meter) closing after Labor Day I hadn’t even thought about checking the indoor pool (25 meter) schedule. I gathered up my stuff and headed home. I called my boyfriend on the way and told him I’d have to swim later that night, after community group. I couldn’t miss two workouts. It was supposed to be catch-up day. Being the genius that he is he suggested trying to swim at a different Y. Like I said, genius. He meant I should check another Y’s schedule later in the week but I had about an hour to spare so I drove to another one. I’m fortunate enough to live almost equidistant from two. Four beautiful lanes without a soul in them, a lifeguard, a slide, and the swim lesson peeps. I jumped in and away I went. Earlier in the day I researched Master’s swimming programs in the area and read up on what a good pull looks like and should feel like in freestyle. As I swam I tried to practice what I’d learned, or re-learned. I grew up as a summer swim team-er but its been 13 years since I’ve had any instruction. I did each of my 200y sets in 4 minutes. Much faster than any of my 200s this past summer and I wasn’t even trying to go “fast”. I was focusing on technique – rotating in the water and pulling through the stroke. Yay for better efficiency! Of course having a 25 yard pool instead of a 50 meter pool means more pushing off the wall and a shorter distance due to the whole yards v. meters thing. I wish we used the metric system here in the States. I use it everyday at work. My premature neonatal patients are weighed in grams, not pounds and ounces. The medications I order are based on kilograms and milliliters, incredibly more accurate. But I digress; back to swimming. Two trips to the Y later I had gotten in my double swim. I felt more efficient in the water, which is essential for triathletes who have two more sports to do after they get out of the water.

I looked forward to Thursday, Zumba and a bike. I have an awesome Zumba teacher. She is petite and jam packed with energy. The first time I went to one of her classes I had to sit out a song in the middle. Her classes are a mixture of hip-hop, kickboxing and Insanity with a teeny bit of Latin thrown in. We shake it. There are women of all ages and ability levels and a few 20-something year old guys who put all of us to shame. There’s a modifier for most of the killer moves, which came in handy when I battled shin splints this past spring. There are songs almost entirely made up of squats, lunges, kicks and that motion where you jump up in the air, pull your knees up above your waist and slap your quads. According to my HRM I burn anywhere from 650 – 800 calories in an hour of her class. Told you it was intense. But I love it. I’ve missed a few weeks lately so this workout was tough. I limited the jumping in an effort to save my shins, which meant I ended up doing a lot of squats. Why don’t I look like Beyonce yet? The bike was a quick four miles, hills. I tried to keep my rpms at 100-105. Whew, my legs were tired.

Friday was another walk/jog and swim. Remember the second Y I went to? It’s connected to one of my favorite parks in Nashville. I did the intervals in the park then went in the Y for the swim. The park was beautiful. ImageThere were moments no one else was in site. One thing I’ve enjoyed about beginning to run is the friendliness shared among runners. When you pass one going the other direction there’s usually a smile or a brief wave. Today there was a guy who was booking it. We passed each other twice. He was incredibly fit and focused but each time he gave me the motorcycle small hand splay/finger point. Look the next time two motorcycles pass each other. The drivers drop their arms then give “the signal”. My boyfriend loves to ride and dreams of owning one at some point so I’ve learned a little, probably just enough to embarrass him. I finished the intervals, stretched, then sat in the car briefly with the AC on and sipped some water. Then the thoughts set in. Did I really have to swim today? It was nearing 5 pm; the traffic would be horrible on the way home. Maybe I could skip…. Nope. I had the radio on to one of our local Christian stations and the song “He is With Us” by Love and the Outcome was playing.

We can’t pretend to see the ending or what’s coming up ahead
To know the story of tomorrow
But we can stay close to the One who knows
We can trust our God
He knows what He’s doing
Though it might hurt now
We won’t be ruined
It might seem there’s an ocean in between
But He’s holding on to you and me
And He’s never gonna leave, no
He is with us.

Knowing that the Lord is with me in the larger things gave me the confidence to just “go” and swim. If He’s not giving up on me then I shouldn’t give up or give into myself. It’s just exercise but the Lord is already using it to teach me some spiritual lessons. And the swim felt great. The hardest part is getting to and in the water. I imagine swimming for me is like running for all you long distance track stars. When I “run” I have yet to make it past the point of “Oh my gosh. Is it over yet?” but in the water I have peace. I can think about things other than swimming, when I’m not focusing on technique, and just go. Not fast. Not fast at all. But I sometimes forget its exercise. Until I slap my hand on the metal stair railing like I did today. Ouch. Back to reality. I swam a little further today because it felt good. And my first Master’s swim club practice is next week! Yikes!

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Grace and peace,

Clean and Curvy

Thursday’s Training Tip

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TRI Training, week 1 – done

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TRI Training, week 1 – done

ImageOn August 26th I competed my first training workout – intervals of walking 5 minutes and jogging 2 minutes. By interval four I was WINDED! It was a humid, sunny and 87 degree day in Nashville and I chose to workout in the heat of it. It felt good to be back into training mode. I was energized at the beginning but by the end I was thinking “If I’m already this tired now how in the world am I going to run 6.2 miles at the end of a 1 mile swim and 25 mile bike?” Thankfully positive thinking settled back in with some rationalization.  I’ll just have to focus on one day at a time and rejoice in crossing off the day’s workout from the calendar.

Week 1

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I’ve adapted a Couch to Olympic training program from BeginnerTriathlete.com to accommodate my work schedule. I know there are those of you who get up and exercise before work but when I may be up for 27 hours straight every minute of sleep I get the night before is precious. The training program is 39 weeks, almost 10 months long. That allows some wiggle room for holidays, vacation and illness. Ten months, whew! That’s a big commitment. I’ll be adding in some Zumba when I need to have some fun as well as Focus T25 workouts. My goal is for triathlon training to be a part of my life, not all of it 🙂

What race are you training for? Did you make a training schedule or do you wake up and wing it each day? I wish I could wake up and wing it.  Week two starts tomorrow. Let’s do this!

Grace and peace,

Clean and Curvy

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