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.”

 

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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.

Biking- You CAN Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

When I see a group of multi-colored cyclists riding in a giant herd, engulfing one side of the street or the service road of a highway, I am sure that I’m not alone when I say that I am both intimidated and in awe of those athletes. At this point in my life, I’d like to change my feelings of intimidation into feelings of confidence and try to become proficient in cycling.

I am proud to announce that I am now an ambassador for The Bicycle Planet located at 340 Robbins Lane in Syosset, NY. For years, my family and I have purchased our bicycles from The Bicycle Planet so I know first hand about their top quality bicycles and accessories. I received a free “triathlon kit” from The Bicycle Planet, which is comprised of bike shorts and a matching tank top, both emblazoned with The Bicycle Planet logo. I plan to wear the cycling clothes when I participate in the triathlons, bike races and rides.  I also received a 10% discount on a new road bicycle that I bought to use in the competitions.

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The Bicycle Planet has a wide variety of Road, Mountain and BMX bikes from companies like Trek, Gary Fisher, Specialized, Pivot and many more. They carry roof racks, hitch racks and trunk mounted racks from several companies, including Thule. The store also has a top notch service shop and a large selection of clothing featuring Pearl, Izumi, Castelli and Champion System, just to name a few.

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Morry Edelstein, the owner of The Bicycle Planet. A true cycling enthusiast, Morry and I discussed the benefits of me joining one of the store’s group rides in order to get more cycling experience. I have always enjoyed bike riding and years ago, I competed in several triathlons and duathlons (run-bike-run). However, I never specifically concentrated on my cycling. I plan to change that.

My first order of business was to purchase a new bicycle. Other than the 10- speed Schwinn I rode in eighth grade, I have never ridden a road bike. Morry set me up with Paul, one of the managers and expert bike fitters at the store. I met with Paul twice. The first time I came to the store we discussed all of my road bike options. I told him that I wanted a model in a lower price point, with the understanding that if I continue to race and improve, I would eventually trade-up to a more advanced model. Paul was extremely knowledgeable about all of the different models. He was a pleasure to work with because he worked within my budget and didn’t try to sell me a more advanced model that I felt was cost prohibitive.

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Paul and I discussed that I would wait to buy the clip-in shoes and pedals until I become more comfortable with the bicycle. I know that I will eventually purchase the clip-in shoes and pedal system because of the overall efficiency but I wanted to wait until I rode the bike a few times. Paul understood this and in no way did he pressure me to change my mind. Paul said that if I eventually purchase the clip-in shoe and pedal system, I can bring my bicycle back to the store and pedal my bike while I watch the instructional video which explains how everything works.

When I returned to the store to pick up my bike, Paul did the bike fit in the fit studio. I never realized the importance of a proper bike fit. When I used to ride my old bikes, I always made sure that my feet could firmly touch the ground. With the road bike, my feet barely touched the ground until I took one foot out of the strap-in pedal. This is an entirely different concept and a change that I will have to get used to. A proper bike fit is crucial for optimal performance, injury prevention and comfort. Paul took three-dimensional measurements with a specialized tool and adjusted the seat and pedals to ensure that the bike fit me properly.

It was difficult not to get carried away with the bike accessories but at Paul’s suggestion, I did purchase a flat kit.  The flat kit has all the necessary items to enable me to change a flat tire- once I attend the informational class to learn how to change a flat tire.

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So now I’m all set to join one of The Bicycle Planet road rides which start at the store every Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m. Morry assured me that the Sunday morning ride group encompasses all cycling levels; from beginner to elite. I am excited to go on my first group ride armed with the knowledge that I will most probably be at the back of the pack. Since I thrive on challenges, I fully expect to be at the top of the pack, with the leaders, in no time.  Anyone want to join me in a few weeks?

Morry mentioned that they will soon be resurrecting the “women only” rides that used to be very popular.  I will keep you posted on my cycling progress and report back after I go on my first group ride. I hope to ride with my husband, Jay, as soon his back injury heals. I also plan to start swimming soon- to prepare for the triathlon.

So listen, if I can start cycling at 48 years old, you can too! Seriously, what’s stopping you? Are you nervous? Afraid? Intimidated? Don’t be! Trying new things keeps us young, fit and interesting. It’s always good to change things up- work new muscles and reach a new level of fitness. Get started today!

Disclaimer: Although I did receive a free triathlon suit, a free bike fit and a discount on my road bike, I was not pressured to write a positive review and all opinions expressed in today’s post and all future posts are mine alone.