A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Triathlon……

Okay, so it wasn’t really funny. It was not funny at all.  A week before the New York City triathlon, my son had an accident- not life threatening, thank heavens, but devastating. He broke his leg in two places and was in sheer agony.  His surgery was scheduled for the day before the race. I didn’t defer the race right away because I thought he would have surgery and everything would be fine.  I figured he would leave the hospital and I would see him at home, after the race.  However, in the days preceding his surgery, when I saw the kind of pain he was in, I just knew that I would not be in the proper frame of mind to compete in the race.

This triathlon was supposed to be fun, a challenge, a goal. While I had done several sprint triathlons, I had never competed in an Olympic triathlon. I was all ready- I had bought a new racing bike and a wet suit. I biked early in the mornings and swam laps in the bay. Yet none of those things would matter to me knowing that my son was suffering.

There would be other races. In fact, several weeks later, when my son was firmly in rehab and working on walking again, I competed in a sprint triathlon.  It was exciting and fun and definitely challenging as the water was as choppy as an ocean swim. Yet, in the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but feel a bit of a let down since I had done these distances before- 15 years before.

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After the race, I immediately thought that I would do an Olympic distance triathlon in a few weeks, before the season ended. However, when I really thought about how much I had taken on in my life in the past few months, I reassessed my priorities. My new job has been taking up an enormous amount of time- and rightfully so. Let’s just say that 10 hour work days are the norm. With the start of the new job, I had packed a house, moved to a condo,  and my son had the accident. To top it off, for many reasons, we are still living in boxes without any furniture. All the while I am still trying to keep up with the blog, workout, volunteer and be a member of the Social Committee at my new residence.

So I made the decision to not train for the Olympic triathlon. I packed my wetsuit away where it will remain for a few months. My race season is over for now. As I contemplated my decision, I realized that everything had become too much. I had taken on more responsibilities than I could conceivably handle in a short amount of time.

Why do we do these things to ourselves? Why do we overcommit ourselves to things that we know are over our heads? Why is it that sometimes when the words, “No problem, I can do it” come flying out of our mouths, do we wish we could retract them? Is it the innate competitiveness in us? Is it FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)? Must we keep doing- day in and day out- keep pushing- always? I can’t be the only one who does this.

I think I know why I sometimes take on too many responsibilities or commitments at one time. It’s because I am always striving to be the best person that I can be- and for me that means taking on a full plate of work, activities and commitments. I foolishly believe that I can handle anything- keep piling it on- if it is important- I can do it. “Yes, I can help out at the soup kitchen”- even though I am involved in many other volunteer commitments; “Yes, I will get up and run with you at 6am”- even though I will be out super late the previous night; “Yes, I will volunteer for the Social Committee”- even though I have zero free time.

As I get older, I am re-evaluating exactly what projects I have time for and yes- I have learned to say “No.” It is difficult for me because I always want to help or lend a hand when I can and I sometimes do not realize until after I have said “Yes” that I really should have said,”No.”

However, I’m still learning and as I wrote in one of my previous blogs, “You can teach an old dog new tricks.”

 

Maturity, Pickleball and Perspective

Maturity is knowing when you are too sick to work out- said the person with wheezing bronchitis and an ear infection. Straight from my 10k runner’s high, I had a solid workout week and a beautiful Mother’s Day run. Then I awoke the next day feeling the early signs of a sinus infection. In the past, I usually ignore the warning signs of an impeding illness and carry on as usual. I am usually too busy with work, with working out, with life…….fill in the blanks.  However, with the new job and the ridiculous amount of packing to conquer, I went to the doctor on Monday night, after work.  Diagnosed with bronchitis with a heavy wheeze and an ear infection, I was given a breathing treatment and sent home with an antibiotic and an inhaler. Although I knew I made the right decision to nip this right away, I felt certain that I would still be able to swim and bike at the end of the week.

However, after three days on the meds, my symptoms worsened and I went back to the doctor on Thursday night. Thankfully, my ear infection cleared up and I did not have pneumonia. Armed with stronger medication, I left the doctor’s office with the realization that I would not be swimming this week or joining the two hour bike ride.  Maturity is overrated.

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The break from the gym, has given me more time to pack. I am writing this post on a much needed break from packing. According to my drill sergeant husband, Jay, its all packing, all the time.  After hearing my pleas that the sick person needs a break,he granted me this respite. While watching the Ranger game on the couch, Jay started to warm to the idea of drinking pineapple margaritas later- if we get enough packing done.

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We also took a break from packing during the week to see our visiting relatives. Seeing our aunt and cousins reminded me about a new sport that our uncle recently started playing, Pickleball. What is this strange new sport? Is it played with pickles? Does it involve eating pickles? I had no idea.

It turns out that Pickleball is a combination of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. It is played with a racquet  (smaller than a tennis racquet and larger than a ping-pong paddle), a plastic ball with holes (like a wiffleball-but don”t ever call it a “wiffleball”), indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court and a modified tennis net. Pickleball is a fast-paced game which involves hitting a plastic ball over a 3-foot net with an over-sized ping-pong paddle. The sport is rapidly gaining in popularity.

Pickleball is played either as doubles or singles. Points are scored only by the team serving. Games are normally played to 11 points, and you must win by 2 points. Besides talking to my uncle about Pickleball, I read a great deal about the sport on the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) website. It turns out  that there are two places to play Pickle ball within 30 minutes of my house. I went by one of the Pickleball courts but no one was playing at the time.

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My uncle who, at 66 years old, is ultra-competive and does everything with gusto, got carried away when diving for a ball. He managed to scrape his chin against the court surface and wound up with a trip to the emergency room and 10 stitches. He plays to win. Go Uncle Mark, you rock!

 

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“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”- C.S. Lewis

Back to packing. Typically, in my life, when it rains, it pours. So of course, the few days that we are closing on both places and moving, are the days that my son has an important hockey tryout halfway across the country. In the past, my husband has always accompanied our son to these tryouts.  However, with the house stuff and the move, my husband is hesitant to leave New York. Whether its confidence, cockiness or stupidity, I like to think that I can handle anything. I’m trying to convince my husband to go to the tryout.

The move, the new job, the cross-country try-out and all the other crazy, busy things that are going in my life are all good. I have no complaints. It’s all about perspective.

 

 

My New Job, 10K Run , Commitment and Passion

If someone told me that within a span of two months, my husband and I would sell the house our family has lived in for 17 years, I would change careers (after 23 years) and leave the job I have had for over eight years- I would have said- YOU ARE CRAZY!

But yes, that is all happening right now. I am pleased and excited to report that I am now working at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale. I am working with the Development team on Annual Giving and Events.  For those of you who do not know about the Hebrew Home, it is a remarkable place filled with passionate, bright, dedicated people. It is a non-profit geriatric care organization dedicated to providing a full range of senior care services- from independent living to the most intense level of nursing care.

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My job is in fundraising, with marketing, public relations, and writing mixed in. If you are fortunate enough to work for an organization that you are passionate about, you are a lucky person. I am working with a group of hard working, intelligent, compassionate people and I can’t say enough wonderful things about my immediate boss. I feel pretty lucky these days.

In the hopes of bonding with my co-workers and to get a rigorous workout, I entered a 10k run with people from my new work place.  What better way to get to know my fellow co-workers and bosses than to run alongside each other? Unfortunately, before I committed to the 10k run, I failed to review the race map which indicated “challenging, steep hills” peppered along the race course. I could have backed out and ran the 5k instead but I already told my new co-worker triathlete friend that I would run the 10k with her. How would that look if I backed out of the 10k? Like a lack of commitment on my part. Not good at all.

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The morning of the race, I left my house at 6:30 a.m., armed with mapquest directions as to how to get from point A (the parking area at the nearby high school) to point B (the race start). Even with GPS and mapquest, I am woefully navigationally challenged. So I did what I usually do when I am alone and concerned about finding the right place to be- I glommed onto the first non-threatening race participant that I saw and chatted it up as I followed her to the registration table. Thank you Hillary from Riverdale.

I eventually met up with my new friend Jessica and with seasoned runners David and George.  Together we stood at the starting line, waiting with bated breath for the fog horn to signal the start of the race. We all hoped to pace ourselves for the challenging run and were unsure if we would wind up running the course together. However, after only a few minutes of running with David and Jessica, my adrenalin kicked in and I started running too fast. I ran a bit ahead of the others until my labored breathing on the steep hills forced me to slow down. The rolling inclines came at such a steady pace that I wondered if the race course was up hill in both directions.

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As I struggled to catch my breath, I willed myself not to walk up the hills. During one particularly steep incline, I almost did not make it up without stopping. I felt like I was going to be sick. Foolishly, I did not eat breakfast or drink anything before the race. SInce I usually run or work out on an empty stomach, I figured that I would be fine. Rookie mistake. It won’t happen again.

Another mistake I made was that I did not program my running app to calculate mileage as I ran. I was constantly asking the water volunteers, other runners and strangers along the race route, “How many miles are left? or “What mile is this?” Obviously this was annoying for everyone involved. Another mistake I made was that I wore brand new running sneakers. I know, I know. Big mistake. But my old running sneakers were literally ripped down the sides. I ran in these new sneakers the day before the race for a flat two and a half mile run. Needless to say, I really felt the sting of the bulbous blister on my instep by mile five. It felt absolutely ripe and ready to burst. If only. Instead, I felt the pain and tenderness for two more days. I actually went to work, to a formal meeting, in stretchy wedges- it was that or Birkenstocks with my business suit.

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Shout out to Sharon, the 35 year-old mother of three, former Riverdale resident, now New York City transplant, who ran with me the last three and a half miles.  Sharon put up with my incessant questions; “how many more hills until the finish line?”; “are they very steep hills or just a little steep?”; “slow rising steep or holy crap, my neck hurts to look up steep?” Yes, I was THAT runner. By the end of the race, Sharon actually thanked me for talking to her and helping to take her mind off the incredibly difficult hills. I’m just sorry I didn’t get to run more with Jessica since her promise to sing while she ran would probably have helped me to forget my bulging blister and the lack of oxygen in my lungs.

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But what really weighed on my mind was the realization that in a few short months, as I run six miles towards the finish line, I will have already swam one mile in the Hudson River and biked 40 miles through Central Park. At least it will be six flat miles.

I am a fast learner. The morning of the New York City Triathlon in August, I will have eaten a healthy breakfast and drank the appropriate amount of fluids, I will be wearing my shiny, new triathlon watch to track my mileage- a birthday present from my husband, which by August I will definitely know how to use- and I will remember to NOT wear new running sneakers.

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In the next few months, I look forward to training with Jessica and her triathlete friends as I prepare to ride with The Bicycle Planet cycling group. Shout out to David- see you in August. And if we are running alongside each other- I will shamelessly attempt to engage you in nervous banter. Please humor me.

My (Almost) First Group Bike Ride

So I was supposed to go on my first group bike ride with the Bicycle Planet cycle group last weekend. The night before, I anxiously prepared like a high school freshman getting ready for her first day of school. Backpack or no backpack? Fanny pack? Heavens, no! That screams, “Tourist!.” How many water bottles? Where will I put them anyway? I only have a cage for one water bottle. Sunglasses? Where’s the holder-thing that attaches the sunglasses around my neck so they won’t fall to the ground? So many things to consider.

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After figuring this all out, I got up at the insane hour of 6:30 a.m.. For someone like me who still sleeps until 10:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning, I may as well have gotten up at 4:00 a.m. At 7:15 a.m., I rode my bike to the Bicycle Planet store and waited. Slowly, I watched as the other riders convened, one by one. I observed how they methodically removed their bikes from the trunks of their cars, put a towel on the ground and reconnected their bike tires. I watched them carefully pump air into their deflated tires. I heard the clacketty-clack noise of their cycling shoes as they made their way to the meeting spot.  Awed at how professional this group looked, I was starting to rethink my decision to partake in this group ride. After all, I had only been on my bike once…. that morning, as I rode around the block, exactly one time before heading over to the store.

Finally, an official-looking cyclist opened up the bike store and said that anyone could come in if they needed anything. I walked in and waited as he dealt with two customers at the desk. He gave them bikes and fitted them for helmets. When he finished with the couple, I asked the man behind the desk if it will be a problem during this morning’s ride that I am a beginner road rider. I explained that this morning’s one mile ride from my house to the store was my first time on the bike. He said that usually, beginner riders do not have a problem because there is generally a slower group. However, this morning, a significant number of experienced riders will be on the ride.  He suggested that I ride instead with the two people who just picked up their bikes. He said that they, too, were beginner cyclists and were going on a less challenging, local ride.

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I was devastated, crushed. I was so psyched for my first group ride. I spoke to Morry Edelstein, the owner of Bicycle Planet, who confirmed that usually, there are a number of beginner riders. He said that when the weather gets warmer, more beginners will show up and I should come back to ride with the group. Enter Shveta and her husband, Raul. Avid spinners, this was their first time on road bikes as well. They welcomed me and together, we rode the paved bike path to Bethpage State Park. Along the way, we wound up getting lost trying to find where the path connects and Raul gave me a quick reminder lesson as to how to properly shift the gears.

As we rode up and down the rolling path, Shveta and I kept assuring each other that we really are in good shape, despite our howling about our searing quads.

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As we rode, Shveta and I talked about my husband, who loves to bike and how his back issue prevented him from participating in this ride. I said that my husband would get along well with Raul who kept pace about 50 feet ahead of us. At the end of an hour and a half, Raul estimated that we rode about 15-20 miles.

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Shveta and I exchanged telephone numbers, expecting to contact each other when we are ready to join the “regular” Sunday morning cycling group. We enjoyed the beautiful weather, got a rigorous workout, became familiar with our bikes and made new friends. Despite my immediate disappointment that I was not part of the Bicycle Planet cycling group, this smaller group proved to be an enjoyable venture. Sometimes things don’t always turn out as we planned….sometimes they are even better.