Sunday, June 10, 2012
OK folks, I'm afraid my state does NOT rank high in being considered bicycle friendly, but this town has a GREAT set of trails. Most of them intersect, but you can get really confused by the markers that purport to give some sense of mileage.
This is because every trail segment is a trail in and of itself, and they do NOT give you any idea of how far you have really gone, because you enter near a marker that says "7K", then pass one that says "5Miles", then you end up with a different trail name and a different collection of mileage. Different organizations, also, mark their miles, for different purposes.
The local track club may have markers in one section, heading ONE direction, then a different club takes up and starts marking in the other direction, with its OWN point "0". So, I pretty much ignore these numbers, come home, and track the mileage by mapping in.
Thus it was that I set out to fulfil my training plan, which said, for today, "Bike 12 miles". And I started by heading for one of the nearby entrances to the trail system, and pedaled toward downtown. I went on past the tortoise in the profile pick and kept going, because I was curious as to how far the trail went.
Turns out it goes all the way to the former state fairgrounds. Then I pedaled around there, being grateful that it was Sunday morning, and not a lot of traffic about. Because I ended up pedaling on what CAN sometimes be pretty busy streets, and only had about two cars/trucks to avoid.
I found ways through the streets to link up with another of the trails. I took it all the way across town on the Northern side (I live South East and had biked essentially to the North West side), then had to beat my way South against a strong headwind, before turning West again to get home. All in all, it ended up being 19.35 miles, in a bit under two hours.
I managed to bike by downtown campus, East Campus, my kids' apartment complex, my old church, etc. A true "tour de city" for my time... and you see so much more when traveling under human power: a meadowlark fighting the same headwind I was, for example.
I feel good... the remainder of the day, household chores. Tomorrow... rest day... then figure out how to fit the Week 6 plan around other events of the next week!
Have a Sparking Great Day, everyone!
Saturday, June 09, 2012
This morning I managed to get myself signed on to do a 10K Charity run. As it was already my long run day on the triathlon training plan, I just stretched the plan a bit, and kept saying to myself, "it's just another workout".
Well, it is, because the TRI is my real target race. BUT... there surrounded by others, in the bright morning sunshine of almost Summer (and definitely on its way to Summer temps... going to get up to 93 today, the weather man says)... the adrenaline kicks in.
The unstated "dream goals" were: keep on jogging, with walk breaks only at the water stations. And... if I finish in an hour, it would be incredible. I *almost* met goal #1, I did take a short walk break in mile 6 just because, when it wasn't a water station... but it was shady and relatively flat.
I seem to do better with hills. Because I *do* lengthen my stride and let gravity assist on the downhill, and because I am incredibly energized by powering UP hills. Maybe if I dealt with REAL hills I wouldn't be so enthused, but this race does have some gradual hills in it.
As I was coming down 63rd street to the finish line, and crossed the mile 6 marker, my watch said 47 (I started it at mile 1, not recognizing exactly where the start line was... no mats this time!) With just two tenths of a mile to go, the race clock became visible and it was still at 57! I had a chance at that dream time!
So I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, finished as strong as I could those last couple of blocks... and crossed under the clock when it still had a 59 on it. Wow! What a rush!
And when they started taping up the results it said my chip time was 58:46 and it said I ran a 9:28 pace, for a 10K, which is just one second off my personal record pace for a 5K! That race was in 1991 (also with hills, by the way, bigger ones than this race)... I AM getting stronger.
I can't believe it, but wait, yes I can. I'm putting in the work, it makes sense.
Life is good. Spark on! The real test will be recovery time... tomorrow's workout says "Bike 12 miles". Then I get Monday off.
Friday, June 08, 2012
I'm in week five of the beginner's triathlon training plan. In this week, we are introduced to the "brick". It is important, we are told, to learn to deal with the transition between activities. So you practice doing a bike workout followed by a run workout, in this case.
It called for a 30 minute bike, 10 minute run, 20 minute walk on the plan. And I came close to doing exactly that. It tooke me about 8 minutes in transition... lock the bike up, potty stop, hydrate, and slap on sun-block in the two minute warm up walk.
Can we say "drenched in sweat"... it was a warm, humid evening when I did this. Then home, shower, supper, pack lunch for next day because... this morning it was back in the pool at 5 a.m. Which leaves little Sparking time before bedtime last night and between swim and work this morning, but here I am letting y'all know I'm still at it.
Tomorrow is running day, which is why I stuck to that 20 minutes walking last night. See, I roped myself into a charity 10K tomorrow morning early. I'm glad it's early because it's supposed to get up to 93 before the day is out.
This morning's swim thought? I'm always counting. And all exercise is about breathing... in swimming it is obvious... because the stroke only offers a certain point at which to breathe. But when lifting weights, we're told to exhale during one motion, inhale during another. Anybody who has EVER taken a yoga class knows that is all about the breathing, too. I think swimming more has helped my breathing during my runs. Tomorrow will test that!
Life continues to be good. Spark on!
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
This morning the training plan said "swim 600 yards". I've blogged before about losing count of the laps when I'm swimming a single stroke... I've started to swim in sets of four (100 yards = 4 lengths) to try to mitigate that. Because of this I know I met the 600, but then I get fuzzy about how much beyond that I swam. I know I did 30 minutes in the pool.
Have you ever noticed? The tools for swimming tend to favor the freestyle stroke? A swimming cap tends to want to focus your head in a single direction... doesn't work as well for side-stroke or even back stroke. Just an observation that randomly popped in my head during my "just keep swimming" workout this morning.
Another thing I'm noticing is that as my freestyle stroke gets stronger, I like it better and tend to favor it over what used to be my old faves, the side-stroke and the breast stroke. This morning's workout was almost entirely freestyle... I think only about 3 lengths were NOT.
The point of the peace and movement subject was also one of those random observations... swimming in a pool is one of those times when you don't really have to pay a lot of attention to your surroundings. Unlike biking or walking or jogging, where one needs to be constantly aware of traffic, other bikers and other runners, or little critters that might spring out into your path, the pool at 5 a.m. is a serene place where you CANNOT converse even if you were of a mind to.
In short, it is the perfect place for a meditation done in motion. Clear your mind, and just keep swimming. Of course this can be hampered if you're trying to count distance, but if you just set the clock and keep on swimming? Ahhhh!
I climbed out, came home, and didn't want to so much as turn on music. The silence was just too precious. I want to preserve this centered feeling, and have it to come back to, throughout the day, no matter what else might happen at work or in traffic... just back to the silence. Ahhh!
Spark gently today, and be kind to yourselves! Life IS good.
Tuesday, June 05, 2012
I had a conversation with my daughter in law via instant message this weekend that got me thinking. She has a friend who very suddenly lost his wife in an automobile accident, leaving him to raise their daughter alone.
As most of us do, when faced with a horrific scenario that's happening to someone else, she cast herself into a similar situation in her mind. What if something happened to my son? How would SHE cope? She typed that she could not separate herself from him, in her mind... that her life would be over if anything happened to him.
The obvious thing that will pull her friend through is his love / commitment to raise that daughter. However, my son and daughter in law have no children. So the automatic "generational" thing that pulls many people through tragedy is not there. I asked her to imagine what she would use to pull herself through the worst blow life might offer... to ask herself what she would WANT that something to be.
It is not reality for her, but I hope it spurs her to think. Most anyone my age knows someone for whom such a loss became a reality. In some cases, I have read their pain and watched as they publicly work through it right here on Spark. I am grateful for their strength and willingness to share.
I could feel my daughter in law's underlying thought, and her fear. In the process, something dawned on me: I have had that feeling - the fear that without some aspect of my life, there would be no identity remaining... no "there", there. But I do not have it now.
Time living teaches many lessons. One of the most important is finding the "me" underneath the "us"-es one might be a part of, underneath the "roles".
Not the me your parents thought. Not the me your spouse, employer, siblings, etc. might expect. It is the essential self, beyond selfishness. If you believe in a higher power, we are talking about the me He created you to be.
Typing back and forth to my daughter in law, I realized that my own sense of "me" has gently emerged over the decades. A "me" that remains beyond the career, beyond the marriage, even beyond parenthood.
I believe that some people are blessed with knowing who they are and what their purpose from day one. I have a sister like that. I am not one of them. I have backed my way through life, letting things unfold more than directing them intentionally.
It took me a long time to get to the point of making my health a priority. My awareness of this inner me came at least in part due to this. In the process I dropped the excess baggage of weight, and so much more. This is a journey not just of the body, but of the mind and spirit.
My wish for every person who struggles with this is that they reach a point in the journey... where something triggers the awareness that there IS a there, there... that they have essential value as human beings, apart from every trapping that the day to day lays on them.
Sometimes it takes some false starts and some retracing of the footsteps. But it leads to a place where life is good... Spark on!
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