Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2015 New Year's Resolutions

One question a lot of people ask at the beginning of each year is what are your New Year's Resolutions?    I have always been very hesitant to say or even make resolutions in the past because I wasn't sure what that meant exactly, or how to measure them.   Resolutions are commitments that we make to ourselves or others  and I guess that isn't something I have taken too seriously in the past.    There really aren't any good ways to measure commitments or any plans to follow.   I mean you commit to marriage but how do you measure that?   What kind of plan do you make to get there?  It is very ambiguous and hard  to make that a measurable thing.   So, I guess I have always been more prone to making goals.   These I understand and I know how to measure.   I can make a plan to get to an end result.  I need that measurement or objectivity in my life.  

 One of the definitions of commitment is:  the act of binding yourself (intellectually or emotionally) to a course of action.   To me, this implies something ongoing, long-term, something that you have made a promise to see through.   After reflecting a bit on this,  I do have a few of these already:  I have committed to the life of a triathlete,   I have committed to being a physical therapist,   I have committed to being a good daughter/family member,  I have committed to being a good friend and I have commited to being the President of the Central Ohio Triathlon Club.     I have not, as of yet, committed to being married or being a parent.   Both scare the shit out of me,to be honest,  and those are both commitments I am not ready to make yet.    I think the biggest commitment I need to make this year is to myself.    I need to work on finding balance in myself both physically and mentally.   And to do that, I need to commit to myself, because if I don't learn to find that balance, it is going to be difficult to continue to uphold those other commitments I have already made.  I think too many times I put everything else first before my own needs  and I have fallen into some bad habbits... not enough sleep,  poor diet,  not managing my stress very well, poor financial management, disappointment in myself, and guilt for not doing the right things.    I haven't quite figured out how do this yet, but am definitely open to suggestions.     I do think this is a pretty good summary though, of some things I need to do more of in the coming year (I also think these are common for many people):

In order to make these more of a reality,  I have developed a few goals for these (and am still working on goals for the others).   I think that is one of the problems with many people's resolutions is that they don't make them measurable or set up a way to be accountable to their resolutions.   My hope is that by establishing some goals, that it will help me to be more accountable and thereby actually stay on course with these resolutions.  

1)  Drink Less -   drink less what?   This really could mean anything.   Most probably mean alcohol.   But I think this could also apply to artificial, sugar laden drinks as well.    In my case, there are two I need to consume less of...alcohol and mocha's.    Both are full of extra "empty"  calories and are probably both contributing to the weight gain I have had since IMMT (at the start of January I topped the scale at 152 lbs, which is the heaviest I have ever been).    My long term goal would be to eliminate mocha's entirely from my diet, or at the very least have only a very occasional one.   And alcohol I would like to decrease to minimal to moderate consumption (for women this means 1-2 servings of a beverage on a daily basis).   So here is what my plan would look like:
  • Decrease mocha's: 
    •  LTG:  in the next year, decrease consumption to 1-2 per month 
    • STG:  in the next 10 weeks, decrease to 1 mocha per week
  • Decrease alcohol:  
    • LTG:   in the next year decrease consumption to less than 2-3 drinks per week.
    • STG: in the next 10 weeks decrease consumption to less than 3 drinks per week.

2) Exercise:    This one is easy for me, as I actually like to exercise.   It is rare for me to miss a workout.   But, I think in my case I need to include strength training in the exercise regime.   
  • Incorporate strength training into exercise:
    • LTG:  1-2 strength training workouts each week for the entire year (this will ebb and flow depending on where I am in Ironman training - during the peak phase of this training I would ideally shoot for at least 1 per week,   during all other phases 1-2 x week). 
    • STG:  incorporate 2 strength training sessions per week over the next 10 weeks
  • Train for and complete the following races:
    • Key West Half Marathon (1/18/2015)
    • OSU Indoor Tri (2/1/2015 - possible)
    • Flying Pig Half Marathon (5/3/2015)
    • Olympic Triathlon (Deer Creek - 1/7/2015 - tentative)
    • Garrett County Gran Fondo (6/27/2015 - tentative)
    • Half Ironman/70.3 distance (Muncie 7/11/2015 tentative)
    • Ironman Chattanooga (9/27/2015)
3)  Be more organized -  this is a work in progress,  I have no idea how to even start writing a goal for this one...will have to come back to it.   

4) Lose weight - this can be a tough one as I think a heavier weight is ok as long as the mix of fat/muscle is a good ratio.    I am unsure exactly what this best mix is for me, but I am meeting with my strength/nutrition coach this week to determine that more for me.    But I do know at the end of last year, my fat was at 30% body weight,   ideally I would like to reduce this by 10%.    Muscle mass/bone mass I would like to increase, but no idea what is good for me....so this goal will be a work in progress as well.    

5) Be more positive -  This can be a challenging one, but I know I need to do something about this.   Although everything may seem like my life is perfect and really happy on FB and other public sites, it isn't.   I am definitely one that internalizes my negative thoughts (and I have a lot of them) rather than shout them out to the world.   Self confidence has been a challenge for me, most of my life.   And over time this wears me down for sure.    I have already made some steps in trying to be more positive in my life.   I don't have these broken down into short and long term goals, but with the help of a friend, I have come up with 3 things I need to write down and/or identify on a daily basis:
  • List out at least one good thing that has happened that day.
  • List out one thing that I am looking forward to the next day. 
  • Identify any negative self talk/negative thoughts and share them with a friend/family member so that I don't continue to internalize these (mostly) irrational thoughts.  
Right now, I have a few people that will help me to be accountable to these statements.   And vice versa, I think this is something we can all do for each other.   I believe most people have their own "self demons"  and being able to talk about these with at least one other trusted person to help rationalize things is likely more helpful than internalizing and letting the thoughts grow and become self destructive.   Also, looking for more good/positive things in life can help to balance the more negative ones.    

6) Spend Less Money -  this is another one that will be a work in progress.   But I do have a large amount of debt that I need to get rid of this year.    First step will be meeting with my financial advisor to come up with a plan.   So no short term/long term goals yet....right now my goal is to set up a meeting, ASAP.     But I know I can start with some small things, which will also help out with my weight and drink less goals as well... eat out less (right now goal is no more than 1 x week unless I am traveling),  limit mocha/coffee drinks,   limit alcohol.     I also know that I only have about 6 car payments left, so that should help as well.   

I think this year I have my work cut out for me.   But I feel good that I am starting to get some planning into place.   Overall, I hope that by the end of the year I can feel more balanced in my life overall.   In doing so, I hope that I will feel healthier in both mind and body.    Only time will tell if I am on the right track this year...

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014 A Year in Review

 This year was a year of "firsts" for me and a chance to explore some different types of races and in general explore and have fun with my fitness.   Looking back, I had some pretty cool experiences and am glad I was able to have the opportunities to do this.    The injury I sustained, I think, opened some options for me and allowed for some training I may never have even tried.   For this I am grateful!

 I will be honest, at the beginning of 2014 I had no idea what the year would have in store for me or what my goals would be.    My main focus was on trying to get healthy again, as I had sustained an avulsion fracture of the right ankle in November 2013 and I started the year in a walking boot.   Worst injury I have ever had and I wasn't sure what I would be capable of doing over the coming year.    Fortunately I hadn't signed up for any races except Ironman Mont Tremblant, which wasn't until August.    However, the type of injury I have can sometimes result in surgery, so I really wasn't sure what would happen.  

My ankle after the injury

But I wore the boot,  did my PT and really tried to listen to the physician and be careful with my recovery.   Incidentally, I used no pain medicine during this process and really did let pain be my guide.   I iced daily and used omega 3's and also compression socks under my boot, and then my brace throughout the healing process.    Fortunately, I was able to heal almost completely and no surgery was required.   I was also able to swim and ride my trainer through the process as long as it didn't create more pain.         By February I was able to get back into running, although much slower, but I was able to do it.    During this time, I also opted to not sign up for anything until I knew what my ankle was capable of and to see how it healed.    Again, fortunately,  I was able to get back to running on level ground with very little pain.    Once I knew I could run 2-3 miles I decided to sign up for my first ever indoor triathlon.    Friends of mine have children that swim at the Delaware YMCA and their team had created an indoor triathlon as a fundraiser.   I thought it was a great way to try something new and give back to the community in the process.     My goal for this one was simply to finish and to test out my ankle for a run.   And I was able to do just that and had a lot of fun doing it!  
Happy Finishers! 

A few weeks later I got a text from a friend who had signed up for her first indoor triathlon and she was freaking out because she was totally intimidated by the people in her wave (you could look up the roster on-line) and was also one of the only females.   She asked if I would consider doing it with her.   This was the day prior to the race, and I thought "what the hell, why not."   It was double the distance as the other and I had absolutely no training for it.   But, Jess has been such an inspiration to watch as she has lost weight, become more active, and embraced a more healthy lifestyle, that I went ahead and signed up.    And again, I had a blast!    And ended up being able to run much faster than I thought, given the injury that I had.  

Action shot of Jessica and I on the treadmill

The Great Race/Agoura Hills 10k was up next.   This was a redemption race.   I had signed up with my sister a few years prior and had to DNS the race secondary to a stress fracture.    I really wanted to go back and try it again and had the opportunity to do it again.   So flew out to see my sister and was able to do the race!   Not a PR, but I was very happy with the race, especially as it was pretty hilly and I was able to do it without any ankle pain!

At the finish line!  

Next up was the Miami Triathlon,  a mini tri with an indoor swim.   Signed up with my Aunt Debbie.   The plan was to go down and stay the night,  visit with my cousin who is a student at the university and do the triathlon.     It was an indoor swim and then the rest was outdoors.    Another first for me.   I thought the race was great, but was definitely disappointed with my bike and I realized at this time that I had a lot more work to do on my bike before I was ready for IM Mont Tremblant.   I also loved the entire time that I was able to spend with my aunt and cousin.   Memories to cherish as we all grow older!

My Aunt Debbie and I, at the finish

Next couple of races were some more "firsts."  I signed up for two different Gran Fondo's, which are cycling races.   I had never done one of these before.   The first of these was the Winston Salem Classic.   A fantastic  little race down in North Carolina.  It was a great experience and I had fun visiting with friends that lived in the area and meeting some cycling celebrities including Robbie Ventura and Bob Roll!    Sadly though, I am pretty sure I was one of the last people to finish.   But I did finish, so there was that!   

Robbie Ventura in the middle
Bob Roll on the left.

New York Gran Fondo was up next.   This was really a cool experience.   5,000 riders all starting at the same time on the George Washington Bridge,  8,000+ feet of climbing on tough but hilly course, meeting people from all over the world and a  4 day weekend in NYC exploring with friends,   Fantastic experience and so fortunate I was able to do it.  Still not fast, but gaining confidence in my cycling abilities and had some really good runs around the city that felt "easy" but completely surprised me by my pace.    

About half our group at the finish of the race
Next up was the Mohican 70.3 distance triathlon.    Hands down the hardest 70.3 distance I have done, but also really surprised myself with this again.   Had no expectation for this race.   Just wanted to do something super hilly in anticipation of IMMT, and it was.   And I did so much better than I ever expected.   Great local race for anyone that would want a challenge!

Race morning photo for all of us crazy enough to do this race!

At this point in my training, I was actually feeling pretty good.   IMMT was up next on my agenda and I had a few months to train.   I hit the hills, ran more, and in general just tried to enjoy solo and training with my friends.      Finally race weekend came, and I can honestly say the entire race experience was one of the best I have had (see my last blog entry for full details).    I had 4 goals for this race:  A)  To finish  B) To beat my IMKY time  C) to go sub 15 hours and  D) To roll across the finishline, "Blazeman style".      I was a little disappointed with my overall time, however I was able to meet all goals except C.   And given the state of my ankle 10 months prior, I have to be thankful that I was able to do this race at all.  

IMMT 2014 Finisher! 

CLunger Beats 5000 (5k) was up next.   This is the second year of this race and it is very near and dear to my heart.   I wouldn't have missed it for the world.   Last year I walked it as it was a week after IMLT.   This year I was actually able to run it, but I chose to run it with my friend Jessica again.  It poured the entire time, so we don't have any pics from the race.   But it was meaningful as once again I was able to spend time with someone I admire and help to push her a little in her experiences, plus I was able to give back more to the community.   This race was created by Cory Lunger, a friend who passed away in 2013 from cancer.   The proceeds go toward The James Cancer Hospital which researches and cares for those with cancer.   An honor to run this race and it will continue to be an honor each year and I will do it in memory of Cory and those who have and will battle cancer.

Another race I did this year was the Honor Our Heroes Quarter Marathon.   Another local fundraiser and one I did to help the local community.    The weather was wicked and I had no idea what I could do as I hadn't run any speedwork this year at all, instead focusing on just recovery after my injury and getting time on my feet.   Pleasantly surprised myself yet again and if not a PR, was within seconds of what I had run the year before.   Given the cold and 15 mph winds, I was pretty pleased with this! 

Happy and finished! 

Last race I participated in was the Salt Fork 10 miler.   This is the first trail race I have ever participated in and I loved it.   It was really hard for me and I had to walk several of the hills, but I really thought it was a cool race.    One negative during the race was that I did experience an asthma attack and had to use my inhaler, but fortunately I was ok.  Anyway, loved the race and would definitely do one again in the future, but will probably wait until after my IM career to do any more.  As much fun as I had during the race, the risk for injury is really quite a bit more than a typical "road race."    

Midway through the race, had to stop and take a pic with my friends.  

As the year has come to a close, I have to say I am pretty pleased and fortunate with all of the races and experiences I was able to have in 2014.    As far as overall "fitness" goes though,  I am not sure I did all that well.   I think from an exercise perspective, I did great, and couldn't have asked for a better year given the injury I sustained in 2013.   However,  overall fitness, I think also includes mental fitness, nutrition, and sleep.   And I don't think I did the best in these areas.  

Shortly after IMMT I got a bug in my head and decided to stop all medicines I was taking.   This included my asthma medicine,  birth control, and vitamins.    I think, I was just tired of it and wanted to see how I would do/feel without them.   My asthma has come a really long way since I was diagnosed and I really did wonder how I would do without my maintenance inhaler.    In that time, I have gotten another bone scan to check on bone density, and a breathing test to follow up on my asthma.    The good news is that the bone loss I have experienced in the forearm and spine has slowed down since the last scan I had, but the femur (leg bone) is still losing density at an alarming rate.   It was suggested at this time, that perhaps I should rethink doing long course triathlon, as it could definitely be impacting this, and maybe only focus on short course or running instead.    My asthma test actually was worse this last time and has dropped from 90% to 72%.    The result?    I have gone back on my maintenance inhaler  for asthma, per my physician suggestion and I have had to really look at my goals for long course triathlon.     I could tell that my lung volumes had dropped, as I was having to use my rescue inhaler more and slow down on my swimming and some of  my running secondary to shortness of breath.   So, really no surprise when my physician told me my results.   Frustrating, but I have to accept my body is what it is.  

As far as the bone density results...I have decided I have am not yet ready to give up long course triathlon.   I love it and it truly has become part of my life.   But I am approaching the next year differently.    I decided I need to focus more on strengthening and nutrition this year to see if it will impact my overall results.   I started with a strength training coach this year and am loving it.   Next step will be a nutrition coach and some changes in my overall eating habits.   I will do some more blog entries to explore this in the future.   But this is an area I know I didn't do very well with this past year.    

Other areas I know I didn't focus on enough are mental health and sleep.   I think I put so much focus on my training and also social obligations that I lost some perspective on the other "balancing" areas of my overall total fitness.    The result is that even though I am pretty proud of my races and my "exercise" health for the year,  I know I have a bit to work on for overall health.     I have decided to try to start and blog more in 2015 to help with overall fitness and accountability for myself.   In doing so,  perhaps I can inspire and start to help others in focusing on theirs as well.