Monthly Archives: August 2006

8/31/06 Shenpa (325)

Thursday. Wow, this is my kind of weather this morning. Cool and Crisp 61 degrees. Think I’ll go for a run. LOL. I’m laughing because my coach gave me permission to just do Pilates today and Massage tomorrow and give myself a little break – I think she is feeling sorry for me – that’s okay I’m feeling sorry for me too! LOL Last night I went to the gym and it was a pathetic 40 minutes on the elliptical, 20 minutes on the spin bike (I just stopped midway and got off) and 10 minutes on the rowing machine at a ridiculously slow pace. I wasn’t into it to say the least. I definitely think I’m experiencing a little burnout and need to find the love for the process again. (Hmmm, did I ever have the “love” or was I just tolerating…)

I took a peek at the weather for next weekend and it stops at 76 degree high next Saturday. So I’m crossing my fingers that my half ironman a week from Sunday at Firmman would be similar weather and it might be a great day for me. Cold in the water so I better lug out that wetsuit of mine and practice in that a bit, but for the bike and run this might be just perfect weather. I’ll try not to project my desires and just wait it out, but can I just say I’m really ready for this season to be over and to take a little break?

I’m looking forward to going to London at the end of the month and going shopping, to museums, out to lunch, out to dinner, to the theater, to brick lane, to Regent’s park. I’m even looking forward to my business class flight over there. I’m looking forward to just vegging out and reading a magazine in a cafe. No ironmans, no 1/2 marathons, no swim races, no drills, no sweaty clothes, no stinky sneakers, no nothing!!! I’m looking forward to putting on some pretty shoes, some nice clothes and purse and hanging out at the Tate Gallery for the day — maybe meet a friend for lunch. Of course you realize that as soon as I get there I’ll probably be pulled with a desire to run along the Thames. Isn’t that the way life works? You long for what you don’t have to do and what you do have to do becomes a chore?

I’m very busy with work right now which is fine because everything is progressing smoothly. If everything was falling apart or behind deadline I might be stressed but strangely I’ve managed to put everything into a good project flow and everyone is working happily and we are getting a lot done. So I guess I shouldn’t be so bummed that my workouts are not going that well — there has to be some give and take. I admit that I did fall prey to waiting around for client calls instead of just getting out to the gym but maybe there was a reason for that.

Yesterday I listened to an AMAZING audio book by Pema Chodron — I’ve mentioned her before, she is a Buddhist nun, author and teacher. I’ve read several of her books but this one, “Getting Unstuck,” was a particularly good audio book. It was actually a talk she gave and they recorded it. I wish I could recap the entire book, but I’m sure I would just butcher it. I will say how she described Shenpa really struck a chord in me and the truth of what she was saying is still resonating with me today.

Shenpa is kind of hard to describe but I will approximate it by calling it the rising of a struggle. It is not the struggle itself, it is that feeling you get right BEFORE the urge to over eat or over drink or smoke or yell or double down. Shenpa is that feeling you are trying to avoid or shut off. Once are overeating, overdrinking, oversleeping, over gossiping, over anythinging — you’ve passed the point of recognizing what’s wrong. And, for me at least, the journey of backtracking to figure out what launched the episode is hard. Maybe the trick is to catch it before it starts.

Learning to identify Shenpa seems so powerful to me because you can stop a bad thought from turning into a bad action. I was looking for a definition of Shenpa on the internet and I came across one of Pema Chodron’s lectures that I believe is almost word for word description of what is on the audio book so I am thrilled to share the link with you here and save me the time and words of butchering the concept in toto. If you have time to read this, I strongly urge you in a non-shenpetic way (lol, my word, not hers) to go to this link. Pema Chodron on Shenpa.

In case you don’t read the article, the following passage about why we get into harmful habitual behavior was one of the points that really piqued my interest:

Why do we do those things? We all do those things to that degree or lesser. Why? It’s stupid. But the reason we do it is because we imbue that drink or that scratching in whatever form with comfort. In order to move away from the basic uneasiness, we find comfort in certain things, which in moderation could enhance our life, but they become imbued with addictive quality. Then what could have enhanced our life, or brought delight to our life —like a taste, or a smell, or an activity, or anything—begins to make our life into a nightmare. All we’re getting is this short-term symptom relief.

I’ve been meditating on that for quite awhile even this morning. It seems me if we can cut it off at the point of Shenpa-rising we have a shot at not going into the scratch — or the habit of the habit.

So much to think about today and much to do. My mood is still low, but I am taking my vitamins and I am functioning well. Just a little worried about my lack of workouts and the upcoming races, although now I have a name for that rising nausea when I start to think about it — workout Shenpa. Nothing a good Pilates session won’t cure.

Namaste

“What’s encouraging about meditation is that even if we shut down, we can no longer shut down in ignorance. We see very clearly that we’re closing off. That in itself begins to illuminate the darkness of ignorance.” Pema Chodron

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8/29/06 The Aftermath (327)

Tuesday. Okay on a scale of one to ten my calves and quads hurt an 8. For all of my attention to detail on nutrition during the race I totally ignored my after race nutrition (did not take any recoverite or chocolate milk). I didn’t stretch before getting into the cab to come home and waiting too long to begin stretching once I was home. All day yesterday I was hobbling around eek, ouch, eek, ouch. I spent hours rubbing my muscles and they just spit back at me. “Ignore me will ya? Well guess what I have for you!” The more I massaged the tighter they got. I even broke down and took some Aleve which I never have to do anymore.

I had every intention of going to work out yesterday — figured a pilates class and swim would have helped but had to work until 8 p.m. Actually got a ton of work done for a client and feel pretty good about everything I got done, but every hour in my office chair just made my muscles madder and madder.

My mood is much better. I’m ready to workout again but I realized that I need to get back on a vitamin regime — I know, I know, I know — please don’t send all the emails yelling at me. I don’t know what my problem is when it comes to taking a daily vitamin with iron or with not taking my glucosomine (which I feel was a HUGE factor in my knee pain on Sunday) — I simply forget to take pills. This is why I can’t become a diabetic or anything — I just can’t remember to take my medicine and I’d be found in a coma somewhere. It is not hard. I see the bottle of vitamins every morning — it just never registers to open it up and take out a pill. I even have to reach over the vitamin bottle to reach my oatmeal that I eat every morning. I guess because I usually feel fine, it doesn’t register until something like my knees hurting in a race for me to say “gee, I haven’t taken my glucosomine in a month, wonder if that has anything to do with it.” Maybe I should put the vitamins in the bathroom. I dunno.

So why is it so hard for us to do the things we know we need to do to take care of us? Yesterday I was in take-care-of-clients mode. I sacrificed myself for them. It’s no different from the Mom who takes care of her kids first. Not taking care of ourselves first is the intial ingredient for a recipe for disaster. And, the irony of it is, we don’t serve anyone went we don’t serve ourselves. (note I just took my vitamins for today). Yes I feel good that I got so much work done yesterday, but how much better would I feel today if I had gotten that workout in AND did the work for my client? I would feel physically and mentally better and serve my clients better as well.

Lack of workouts nagging at me. Am going down for a lunchtime swim and jacuzzi. Maybe I can loosen up the knots.

So everyone get up from your desk and do a bunch of stretches for me.

Namaste

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8/28/06 The Measure of Success (328)

Monday. Well I did the Nike Half Marathon yesterday. Didn’t have the results I wanted, but in the end it was a good day.

Let’s start with the things I did RIGHT. I got up on time for the race to start. I laid out everything the night before and got a good night’s sleep. In the morning I was up, had my breakfast and made it there with tons of time to spare. I mention this because usually I am running around trying to remember everything. This time I even had my water bottles filled and in the fuel belt in my fridge. That was good.

I did my race-nutrition right for a change. I carried my own fluid (my little combo of Heed and Fast Charge) and remembering that I had run out of water in the Bronx half, I decided I would carry a disposable water bottle to start and when that was finished would move into my regular water bottles on my fuel belt. That worked well and I had one little 4 oz bottle left over (would have drunk it had I known it was there but I felt I had plenty of fluids). I took an Enervitene after the first 40 minutes and then one every half hour. Didn’t make me nauseous. Love that stuff. That was good.

I was in pain for the entire race. How is that good? Well it is good because instead whining about it, I decided to meditate on it and come to terms with running through pain and not suffering. I had been futzing around with my knees all week, massaging them trying to break up scar tissue and make them more flexible. I think I over did it because something was out of line on my left knee and my right knee was sore. But I kept running realizing that it was bearable pain and made a mental note to myself that embracing the pain was okay. Granted this wasn’t a searing pinching pain it was a bearable pain but nonetheless I thought it was good that I was able to run the entire race even though I was in extreme discomfort pretty much from step one. I learned perseverance through pain. That was good.

My head was good for the whole race. Not once did I think I couldn’t do it. I kept looking at my watch and when I was about an hour in I said “about 2 hours to go.” I was surprised to hear the voice in my head say “not even a problem — you work out for more than two hours all the time.” That became my mantra throughout the whole race, another hour? No problem. 30 more minutes. Pshaw. So for unwavering good head I give myself some Bravas. My head was good so that was good.

I had some fun racing against Larry the Lighthouse. In the Bronx half (my day of pure sheer hell) the entire race I was being followed by this guy who was running with a lighthouse. Not a little lighthouse – about a five foot lighthouse. He was running inside of it and carrying it while he was running. How he did the Bronx half like that I’ll never know but it was twelve million degrees that day and he finished. During the entire race I just kept hearing people cheering for Larry so I knew he was right behind me the entire time. So yesterday, before the race, I went up to Larry and his friend who was running beside him and said “Larry, you ran right behind me the entire time in the Bronx, but not today, I’m taking you down. I’m going to leave you in the dust.” He started laughing “it’s on.” He said.

Here’s a picture of me interrogating Larry the Lighthouse.

Unfortunately Larry is a MUCH faster runner than I am, with or without the lighthouse. He took off and it wasn’t very long before he was creeping farther away from me. I started to pick up a little pace on the Westside of Central Park going up the hill toward the reservoir. That’s when I saw Larry was slowing down. I guess hills are a little hard for a lighthouse. As I was passing Larry I gestured to his running partner to keep quiet by putting my fingers to my lips as I was running by. Well that was dumb because she said “Larry! There she goes! We have to catch her!” I laughed and sure enough Larry picked it up and passed by me. I yelled after him — “don’t worry I’ll catch you! And next time I won’t say anything!” Right after that I think I had to stop for a second and wiggle my kneecap to try to get whatever was out of joint back in place.

At the water station I almost caught up to him — they stopped for water, I didn’t have to. (Kind of sad that even without stopping for water I had such a miserable result, lol). But I didn’t quite catch him and he took off. I’m sure he knew I was right on his tail. I made it up Lasker Hill with no problem and made mental note to myself that the hills were not really fazing me which was a good thing.

Here’s a picture of me sneaking up on Larry the Lighthouse.

On the East side of the park on the little uphill right before the bridle path around the reservoir I spotted Larry and his running partner. They were stopped. Larry was fixing the lighthouse (It is held together with duct tape and I guess it was falling apart.) HA! My chance to catch him, I thought. I felt bad that I had to take advantage of him while he was doing maintenance on his lighthouse but I had no choice. It was my only opportunity to take him down so I kept running and I didn’t say a word!! LOL

About five minutes later I heard people cheering “Go Larry! Go Larry!” I was laughing so hard literally some tears were coming down my face. I knew he was trying to catch me. I didn’t speed up, I just held my pace and soon enough I heard him say “GOTCHA!” We were all laughing and I said “for now, maybe, until the lighthouse falls apart again!” He laughed and took off. I was keeping him in sight. We passed the 10k marker and I thought to myself, halfway done already. I stopped for another knee cap jiggle and then kept going.

I was looking forward to getting out of the park and onto Seventh Avenue. I thought that was going to be fun and it was! It was definitely one of the coolest stretches I have ever run and it was a slight downhill all the way to Times Square. What more could you ask for? I was really trying to take it in and look at this amazing sight. There were hardly any runners around me which was great (another reason I like to be the last person over the start line – no crowds!). I saw Larry ahead stopping to have his picture taken with someone. Now I was running downhill and decided it was okay to try to pick it up a smidge. I had passed Larry when I heard his running partner say “Larry turn around so I can get a picture of you with Times Square in the background.” I couldn’t resist, I turned around and ran back up to Larry and jumped in the picture. She snapped a couple of shots of us. We all had a good laugh.

I turned back around kept running. Running toward Times Square down Seventh Avenue with no cars was really amazing. I made sure to run smack in the middle of the road aware that this was a rare opportunity! It really was cool.

When I turned the corner to 42nd street I saw it was also downhill to the river. PSYCH!! I was definitely passing people at this point and thought I might make up some time. And I was heading toward my apartment building where I thought I might see someone I knew. Strangely there were not many people there (probably all left after the big pack of runners went by). But on the corner I saw my friend Rosie who had said she wasn’t going to be in town. I stopped to give her a hug. It was great to see her but I really wanted the race to be over and I was aware that my legs were starting to cramp so I said “gotta go!” and kept running.

When I hit the Westside highway I thought it would be the easy part because I knew it was flat and I ran that route all the time. I must have really picked it up because I suddenly was aware that I was totally out of breath and couldn’t figure out why. I looked up and saw the 9 mile marker a little bit ahead and then I looked at my watch and it said 9:30! WHOA!! You are about to do an 11 minute mile. Slow down! I slowed down to a trot and tried to get my heart rate down. That ended up being an 11:30 mile which was my best of the race (there were some scary 14 minute miles in Central Park when I had to stop and wiggle my knee). (That mile was also all down hill but I did stop for a second to say Hi to Rosie.)

Strangely the Westside Highway was not as easy as I thought it was going to be. I was cramping in my calves (my quads had been cramping since Central Park). I wasn’t too worried about it since I had been doing my study in pain management for the last 10 miles. I just didn’t want my legs to totally give out. I’m sorry to say I did have to stop and walk for a minute because I felt the cramping getting more intense. (My race plan was to push the last 5 miles, no walking). I saw my friend Marlie and that was a nice surprise. She asked how I was feeling and I told her I had a cramp in my right calf. She said a prayer for me and then she took off. Of course as soon as she said that the cramp went away. Then I was so mad at myself “your knee has been bothering you for ten miles and you tell her about your stupid calf that just started bothering you?” I kept trying to transfer the prayer to my left knee but it didn’t work. I think you actually have to pray regularly in order to call in requests like that.

Mile ten was kind of dismal because that’s where a lot of people were stopping and stretching and injured. (Memories of the Pulaski Bridge during the NYC Marathon came back to haunt me. I thought of that woman who was sitting with her head in her hands because she couldn’t go on.) At that point I really just wanted to finish and get on home. I tried to ignore the sidelined runners and just keep going. When I saw the 11 mile marker I knew the race was finished. 2.1 miles? That’s nothing. I don’t even notice 2 miles on the treadmill. I was not really moving very fast at all but at least I was moving.

When I saw the 12 mile marker I decided to try to pick it up a smidge. Then I saw Amanda on her bike yelling my name. That was great to see her. Big smiles. Then I heard my angel/buddy Merisol with her distinctive yell of my name. She ran me in for the Brooklyn Half and the Bronx half. I was so hurting for the Bronx half I was grateful that for this race I could give her a two thumbs up. I didn’t want to talk but at least I was not in emotional and physical pain like the Bronx. At that point I was feeling pretty happy. Less than a mile to go, Merisol was pacing me. Then we saw Lisa one of the coaches and she ran with us. A photographer was there to take my picture and Lisa and Merisol tried to get out of the way, but remembering my favorite picture from the marathon was my picture with Ramon and Melissa, I wanted one with Lisa and Merisol. Merisol is race angel — staring with Westchester and continuing on with so many, she is so supportive and great. She’s the only person I actually let yell at me to go faster. I feel she has earned the right because she has rescued me when I have been bonking so if I’m feeling okay she can yell at me to pick it up. We took the picture and then booked in for the finish with ten thousand Team in Training people cheering for me. I was really glad to be finished.

Afterwards I saw Larry the Lighthouse. I figured he had passed me on 42nd street and I just missed him while I stopped to say hi to Rosie. But when I told him my final time was 2:55 (ugh! not good) he said “darn you beat me!!” We laughed and I said, “yeah I beat you because you stopped for house repairs and a photo shoot! That’s not too impressive!” We laughed and we promised to race again!

So all in all a lot of good things to come out of the day. And hopefully the end of a short reign of the work out blahs. The bad part of the day was I was moving. I was really slow and until the end when I was running with Merisol I realized that I really hadn’t been lifting my knees. So I look back with some regrets on that. I felt I could have given it more effort if I wasn’t in such discomfort. So next time I’ll work on not just managing the pain but pushing despite it. I’m grateful for having the proper attitude during the race. I’d rather have a bad race result with a good attitude than the other way around. Larry, his running partner and I managed to find some fun out there. I felt I was in the moment and appreciative of the experience. That was good.

Namaste

Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it. Henry David Thoreau

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8/25/06 Suffering Optional

Friday. I had written a couple of entries this week but I didn’t post them because they were making me more depressed. I am having a low, low week. I have lost my enthusiasm for a lot and I have not been working out. I think all the Ironman commotion (100% of which was caused by me) was kind of getting to me and I just kind of shut down. I found refuge in the last place I would have thought and maybe I can get back on track after all. It can’t be all lost just because I’ve missed one of the most important weeks of training can it?

I hate when I get depressed (gee, who loves it?) It is like a dark cloud moves in and starts pressing down, down on you and you are being sucked into the goop of a mud pond. Your feet are stuck and the clouds are too heavy to move your arms so you do all you can — just sit there. Stuck in the goop. Waiting until the cloud moves and you can grab onto something and hoist yourself out. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the worst, I would call this week a 3 on the depression scale. I was highly functional — actually got a lot of work done and moved around but my motivation was really down in the pits. I was watching my workouts slip by and each day I was feeling worse and worse about it.

Wednesday night I got a call from the tennis club needing me to play. “No way” I said, “I’m retired.” They begged and pleaded, a member’s partner cancelled at the last minute and they needed someone to play at 7 a.m. with Keith. Keith?!! NO WAY. About 4-5 years ago when I was playing every single day for several hours a day, Keith and I played about twice a week and it was the toughest tennis I could play. He had a 9 million mile an hour serve and he had winners off his forehand and backhand. And he had wheels like you wouldn’t believe!!

There was no such thing as a winner against him — he got to everything. All you could hope for was his occasional miss. I learned to play Keith’s game and although he usually won, I sometimes eeked out a set on patience. My game had to be exact otherwise no points for me. In those days my serve was a weapon so I gathered some points on serve and volley. But not now. Now I’m hitting with retired men and luncheon ladies and my job is to just return 500 balls up the middle, no real pace. No way, no way, no way could I even consider getting on the court with Keith who I know is even stronger than he used to be because he still plays almost every day and hits with pros, etc.

Poor Leo at the club was really stuck, begging me Please, please, please. I told him he had to call Keith and tell him I have “retired”, I can’t serve and I will just hit with him. If he says okay to that then I’ll come down. Tell him I’m about two levels lower than I used to be. I figured he would just cancel the session because he wouldn’t want to waste his time or money. Two seconds later, ring, ring “Keith says that’s fine, you’ll just hit.” Crap. Okay.

I guess they told Keith my shoulder was injured because he asked me what happened to my shoulder. I told him nothing was wrong, I just wasn’t playing tennis anymore and told him about the Ironman etc. Everything was cool until that first ball came sailing over the net at me. Holy Guacamole. That ball was hard. It hit my racquet, klunk, klunk, the racquet spun in my hand and the ball went sailing. Man o man this was going to be a long hour. But soon I was able to at least return the ball to him feeding off his power and not generating any of my own. Whoosh, his ball sailed over the net to me. Whooooooooooopppppp my ball lolled back. How humiliating. I was returning everything but I had turned into one of those annoying retrievers and I knew what Keith wanted was some power.

It took about 30 minutes before I really got a hold of a ball and let ‘er rip. But in those 30 minutes something really amazing happened. I was running like a maniac, back and forth. The balls were coming back so fast I didn’t time to recover fully before the next shot so I was on my toes for the whole time. Little bouncing feet, little bouncing feet. I was out of breath. On the tennis court, that never happens (at least not recently). I was running. And then all of a sudden this adrenaline kicked and I was whacking that ball back with everything I had. Whack, whack, whack, whack. Then I’d hit it to his backhand corner and thwack he would return a beautiful cross court winner. Then we’d start again whack, whack, whack, whack. Then he’d send one flying up the line. No points, no games, just good old hitting like I used to do with Jeannie when we were kids. Two inches out, two feet out? Who cares, hit it! Just don’t stop moving and hit as many freakin’ balls as you can.

We stopped once for water. “Addicting isn’t it?” Keith smiled. I nodded, out of breath, but smiling, and tossed the paper cup in bin. No time to waste we had balls to hit.

Then I realized that my mind had shifted all on its own out of the external view where I was aware that I was hitting balls for the club in New York City and into the internal view. Into the game. But there was no game, just these long, hard rallies. Pull him off; pull him off, wider, wider, wider now sail that into his backhand. It’s a high ball, come in take it in the air, cut it off. Winner. I felt an electricity coming up through my legs and into my racquet. It was great. We were both laughing and clapping ball against racquet (meaning good shot). We just kept whacking the ball. Like old times but even better because there was no score.

Then it started to rain. I looked at my watch only ten minutes left and I was really in the groove. People started to clear the courts. Keith and I just kept hitting, hitting in the rain. Not good for your racquets. Not safe to run on hard courts in the rain. We didn’t care, we kept hitting, hitting, hitting. We wanted our last ten minutes. One guy slipped on the next court, they went in. We kept going — not moving each other around any more now just hitting forehand, forehand, forehand, forehand, neither of us missing and both of us hitting hard. I felt great. The rain clouds were bursting over me, but I didn’t care because at the same time it felt like blue skies opening up.

We returned to the club and I thanked Keith saying that was so much fun for me, I’m sure it was not the challenge he was looking for but I had a blast. He said he would love to hit like that anytime. I felt really good. I felt great. I felt like an old friend (tennis) had really come through at a moment when I was feeling left behind.

I was also supposed to play a doubles game (after Leo had called the night before one of the pros called and talked me into playing doubles too) but we were rained out so I got a chance to sit and talk with my friend John who happens to be a good player as well as a therapist. I told him I had been feeling blue all week and I just couldn’t shake it. I knew it had to do with the ironman and all the fuss and pressure I was putting on myself but I couldn’t shake it. I told him I kept asking myself what was wrong? What was wrong? He asked “well what answer comes back when you ask yourself what is wrong?” I said “a bunch of screams and howls and then a voice wailing what the heck do you think you are doing signing up for an ironman? Are you crazy? And then some more screams and howls.” He laughed, well that’s actually good to be afraid of it don’t you think? I mean isn’t it realistic to be a little frightened of a huge task like that? I mumbled something about I guess so, but the bottom line is I was uncomfortable with my uncomfortableness. I didn’t like feeling out of my confidence zone. I want to feel like I felt on the tennis court — like I was just rusty and I was actually pretty good at something. Not that I was doomed even before I start.

Then he started talking about Buddhism and how Buddhists talk a lot about relationships to pain and the difference between pain and suffering. I laughed and told him that I spend a lot of time reading Buddhist texts and one of the big lines from sports “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional” is just a rewording of one of the Buddhist tenants. I had a full circle moment. Everything is about how you deal with the situation. Training for the Ironman is going to require a lot of painful moments — physically (to come) as well as emotionally (now and later). The pain is going to be there — that’s a given. How I react to that pain, I how react to my insecurities, to my fears — that’s where I have the choice. This is the huge lesson I have been trying to learn this year and I realize that knowing it intellectually is not the same as practicing it. Worrying about the upcoming pain of training for the Ironman is not going to make the pain go away; it is just going to cause new pain in the act of worry. Nothing has happened yet so all of this projection is pain I am creating for myself.

I could write for another ten days on pain versus suffering — well, actually I could write for a lifetime on it as many people have devoted their lives to doing just that. For now I am going to recognize that I am in a low tide (from my friend B. at WW — thanks for that!) and this too shall come to pass. Gettng angry about it will not change it. Simply observe and wait.

I was up .4 at WW this week, but I’m okay with it. I realize that I didn’t have a lot of exercise but I didn’t grossly overeat. A couple of things here and there and I would not have put that on. I’m okay with that. We had another good session — we all think of it as group therapy than a Weight Watchers meeting and I feel very close to many of the women there. They really lift me up.

I am no longer scared of Sunday’s half marathon. In a way all the rest I gave myself this week will work out fine for Sunday. I will have some extra energy and be ready to rumble. Pain or no pain I will not suffer.

So I am grateful to my old game of tennis. Even though I have turned my back on the game (temporarily) like a real family member it was there for me and through my sessions with Keith and John I became recentered. I still feel a little depressed so I will go to Juice Generation and get my Generation Sensation with a shot of energy which usually helps me when I am feeling low. I some of this is chemical. But even though I am depressed, I am optimistic and hopeful and looking forward to a good rumble on Sunday.

Namaste

I tried to look up the origin of “Pain is inevitable, Suffering Optional” but couldn’t find it. Let me know if you find a source.

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8/18/06 Dedication (338)

Friday. Whew this week flew by. I spent Monday and Tuesday in CT and was a total exercise slug — had to do work and ended up missing my workout (okay I can’t blame workout, I missed it all on my own.) Oh well, one of the days was legit. Was back on track on Wednesday with groceries in tote and did had a good Pilates session with Ellie followed by a 1 hour run. I can tell it was a good session because I still feel a little in my core.

Yesterday morning at the crack of dawn I had a hitting session with someone at the club for 1 hour in the morning. She was pretty good and by the end of the hour was really whacking that ball at me and I actually had to move to keep ahead of her. (Usually I just feed them balls and they hit two and miss — she was firing them back and we had some good rallies going). Then after work I had another 1.5 hour run followed by a 15 minute row.

My workout schedule for the next ten days seems, well, tough!! I guess this is my peak time before the half ironman or something ’cause it looks like everything is escalated just a bit and even easier swim days are followed with some kind of run or bike. No messing around now I guess!!

Went to my WW meeting this morning, down 2 pounds. I’ll take it considering we were eating a lot of junk up in Vermont (but I guess biking 150 miles has a way of working that off!) I’ve been back on track since Wednesday and I don’t have too many dangers coming up this week so let’s see if I can stay focussed and lose 1 more next Friday.

So guess who is in an international magazine? Yep. Moi. In the September/October issue of Weight Watchers Magazine yours truly is featured on page 28. I can’t say I love the hairstyle they gave me, but when I saw the straggly ends of my old hair, I’m relieved that it was cut. It was a nice day although it happened LAST November when they took the picture! I have to laugh though when they start describing all the things they had to work on, full face, grey hairs, wide forehead, oily skin, thin hair. Who knew I was such a mess?!?! It was fun anyway to be pampered for the day.

But back to work!! Saturday is going to be a tough workout. I have at least an hour of swim drills (it’s a long list of drills, not sure how long it will take me) followed by a 3 hour bike working on speed. It won’t be tough because of the workout — (I love swim and bike) it will be tough for logistics. So I think I’ll set my bike up on my car before the gym opens — be the first in the pool and go directly from the pool to my car. I’ll drive over the GWB and do an out and back from there.

Bunch of events coming up. Next Sunday I have the Nike Half Marathon which should be fun but for some reason I am nervous about it. I just have no idea how I’ll do other than doing my best. It should be a fun run though as we get to run down 7th avenue to 42nd street and then down to Battery Park. Not so fun is I have to do a 1-2 hour spin afterwards…. I’ll go to the gym and do it there. I guess that is because I have a couple of days off before the race to get ready and I have to get my big workout in.

September 10th is around the corner. I am really looking forward to the half ironman in Narragansett. I know sounds weird that I would be nervous about the Nike half marathon but looking forward to the half ironman (which ends with a half marathon). I guess it is because I don’t EXPECT myself to run fast during a half ironman but there is no excuse during a solo half marathon. Plus in the half ironman I get to swim in the ocean (fun) and ride my bike for 3+ hours (fun). So in a way all the fun buffers the pain of the run. (It’s my own strange logic).

Then the following Sunday I get to be a Danskin Angel in New Jersey. I really enjoy doing it and am looking forward to it. Just a fun day in the sun playing in the water, cheering and motivating people — what more could you ask for?

My last big event of the year will be the 250 mile ride for breast cancer in October. (See my link on the right hand side). Yes, I’m fundraising for this too. Why not? Why not let people support a good cause? I’m riding with/for my friend Michelle who is a little more than a year out from her breast cancer diagnosis. Amazing that she was diagnosed with breast cancer (at only 33 years old!), went through chemo and radiation and one year later is back to training for triathlons and marathons. I realize that she needs to wait 5 years for the all clear signal but man what a fighter!! She’s doing great! We’ll be doing this ride together to raise money for breast cancer — specifically for the Young Survival Coalition — a network dedicated to the concerns of young women and breast cancer. (33 is very young to come down with breast cancer.)

Having a dedication for my workouts offers a purpose to what can sometimes seem like a ridiculous effort. When I’m running on a treadmill I often want to jump off because the activity just seems, well, stupid. But, when I think of people that have invested their faith (and money) in me, I keep going. When I think of people who have it worse, who have been dealt a seemingly bad hand and manage to play the best they can, who live every day with disabilities and illness, it makes me able to put up with a little ache here and there and perhaps a little monotony. I’m looking forward to this ride in October because it will be a real celebration of victory. My friend is doing very well — to me she seems very healthy but I know she needs to go five years before she is considered cured.

Speaking of dedicating workouts. A friend of mine who has been a great supporter of my efforts over the last couple of years was just diagnosed with Lymphoma. She starts chemo on Monday. I am going to dedicate my Monday workouts to her starting with a meditation on her health and wellness. For her I will swim, bike and run just a little harder on those days and heck, I may even throw in a few painful pushups as well.

Every day can start with a dedication to something outside of ourselves. Let’s release healing karmic energy into the universe. So for some friend who has died or is suffering — maybe not even a physical suffering, maybe they have an emotional suffering. Not every difficulty has to be as terrible as cancer — sometimes it’s just an ex-relationship or a bad day at the office. We can all use a little healing and support. Maybe today every one of us can take some moment, some action and dedicate to one or more people. Just send a karmic postcard saying “I am thinking of you.” We might be surprised where and how the healing will begin.

Namaste

“Prayer is when you talk to God; meditation is when you listen to God.” Diana Robinson

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8/14/06 "This is Why We Ride" (342)

Monday. Had a great weekend doing the MS bike tour. I rode a lot, learned a lot and had a great time with my current friends and made new friends too. On top of that it was the most perfect weather imaginable. It was like riding through a children’s pop-up story book. The colors were so bright almost surreal. The setting almost too perfect as if God was saying – “see, here, this is what I meant Earth to look like… and look what a mess you made out of the rest of it.” We rode by fields of rows of corn, farm houses, and cows lolling in their fields — some just feet from our pedals. Above us was the bluest of blue sky with just enough scattered white clouds to make the picture complete. The temperature was absolutely perfect – warm enough to wear our short-sleeved Jerseys but a constant gentle breeze (that turned into an occasional headwind) to cool us off. I almost wish we were running instead of biking because it was so perfect I felt I was rushing by it– but there was much to see over my 105 miles on Saturday.

My goal was to do 105 on Saturday and try for that again on Sunday if I felt up to it. I completed the 105 on Saturday but due to time restraints I could only do 47 miles on Sunday – but combined, I made my 150 mile goal for the weekend in order to raise money for MS (not too late to contribute by clicking the link on the right hand side of this blog). The MS Society puts on a wonderful event. About 250 riders and almost the same number of volunteers who mark the roads, set up food stops for us every 10 miles, cruise the courses offering assistance from fixing bikes to mending bruises. Amazing group of people who come out and actually thank US for riding!! Every time I said to someone “thank you so much for volunteering” they would be emphatic about saying “NO thank YOU for riding – my uncle/sister/brother/daughter has MS and thank you for riding for us.” That blew my mind. 1 in every 750 people in the state of Vermont has MS, isn’t that amazing? Scary? Sad?

I was riding with my friends Michelle, Tiff and Claire as part of the Clifford Chance team. Claire had introduced us to Clifford Chance last year and Michelle and I had such a good time last year (despite torrential downpours and broken spokes) that we came back to do it again. Last year I did the 45 and barely made it through that because of a broken spoke (remember my story about the mad dash Colleen made chasing down the SAG wagon for me? The story is in last year’s blog entry.) Considering all the mechanical troubles I have had with my bikes over the last year I figured I would be lucky if I made it to 45 again without something breaking, popping, wobbling or warping.

I was having difficulty deciding which bike to take – Sylvia (last year’s bike which popped a spoke and caused my warp). Sylvia has the triple chain wheel which would be an assist when trying to climb the higher hills but she is a little heavier bike and older, a little creaky from some minor rust that settled in from sitting in the barn in Connecticut. Or, Tina the Terrible who comes up with something new every time I take her out. But Tina is my race bike and I should be getting ready to race with her in September. She is lighter and has the aero bars which are nice for those long stretches of straight away. I asked my coach Lisa to decide and she picked Sylvia which turned out to be the right choice!!

Sylvia rocked Vermont. This was the first long bike ride I have had in two years where nothing went wrong with my bike during the entire ride. Before the ride I had meant to spend some time brushing her off and tuning her up (she has been sitting in the barn for most of the spring and summer – only coming out once for a short ride in Rhode Island). A little rust had settled in and I didn’t have time to clean it out so I just brought her as is. The bike mechanic looked at her for a minute before we took off and said the brake cables were rusted which is why the back brake wasn’t working. Oh boy, here we go. But he showed me how to drip oil down the cable (even MORE to learn about bike maintenance) and by the first couple of miles the brakes were working great.

Everything about Sylvia was working great. (I had managed to run a brush over the chain and throw some lube on it.) I was sailing down the hills, she was shifting smoothly (last year the chain fell off about 25 times, this year only once). For all intents and purposes it was a PB (personal best) for Sylvia. Much like how she rocked the course in St. Anthony’s two years ago.

I will go as far to say that Saturday was my best bike ride ever. I had long periods of time when I could just stretch my legs out and spin without stopping for anything. That is a great feeling. At one point I was really cranking and felt someone right behind my back wheel. Geesh that person is close. Thinking it was Michelle, I turned around to find four strangers, right on my back wheel. What!??!? I was kind of annoyed. What were they doing? Drafting? How illegal! I just kept pumping away. I glanced at my speedometer and saw I was holding a steady 19 mph for quite awhile. Then all of a sudden all four of them passed me. It took me a minute once they passed me to realize – you idiot!! There goes a train!!! Jump on their wheels. This is no triathlon, draft off of them!!

They were just a smidge ahead of me now and I had to really pump to catch up to them. I was working really hard, pump, pump, pump. I was getting closer but I wasn’t right on them. I was at 20 mph. Wow that’s good for me! But, I needed to get to 21 to catch them. I knew once I caught them the draft would make it easier so I clicked into one harder gear and really worked it. I concentrated on every inch of the rotation on my pedal. I tried to make sure I hit every hour on the “clock” (that’s from a clock drill a coach gave me once – concentrate on a different hour for three rotations – one o’clock, one o’clock, one o’clock, two o’clock, two o’clock, two o’clock, etc. until you have gone around the entire clock on both legs – a very good drill.)

Finally I caught them. And, as I expected it became much easier once I was in their draft. They were riding a steady 20 mph. But it felt easier on my legs. I was so proud of myself. I did it! I drafted off of someone. I was doing it!! For about 1 minute and then BRAKE!!! We rode right into a rest stop!!! NOOOOO, all that work to catch up to them and we had to stop for a rest stop!!! Unfair.

But we got off the bike and all four of them came up to me and we were all smiles “thanks for the pull – good pace, yadda, yadda, yadda…” I told them I was so mad because I just caught them and we had to stop. We all had a good laugh. They invited me to ride with them after the break. I thought it would be fun to give it a try. I had never ridden like that before – deliberately drafting. In triathlons it is illegal – you have to keep several bike lengths away from the person in front. But I guess in the rest of the biking world it is de rigueur.

We started out after the break with my new found friends from Vermont. We took off with them and I kept up for about 1 mile. Then we hit a small hill – nothing big, I wouldn’t call it much but they all stood up and climbed. Standing up for that little hill?!?! No way, too much effort. I’ll just pedal harder and keep up. Nope, I lost them on the first little hill. By the time I got over the little hill they were too far ahead and I just didn’t want to have to get to 21 mph to catch them again. But in my mind I made a special note of this is an area where I can practice and improve.

So it was me, Michelle, Tiff. We were about to turn to go on the out and back loop for the 105 route when we saw another gal from the Clifford Chance group right behind us. We pointed toward the turn for the 105 route. Whoops. I forgot to ask her if she was even planning on doing the 105. Oh well.

Yes the course was hilly (it was Vermont and the Green Mountains after all). But as someone noted “what goes up must come down.” There was one downhill in particular that was kind of scary. We had checked the map at the last rest stop and we knew our next section was an out and back – the map made it look like the road we took out was the same road we were to take back. We were riding down the side of a mountain ala Lake Placid (miles of straight downhill) and I actually stopped Tiffany (Michelle had already sailed down to the bottom) I told her that I was afraid we were going to have to climb back up and I was pretty sure there was no way I could climb back up this mountain – it was almost straight down – a very severe pitch. Tiffany agreed. We looked up and realized we probably couldn’t get back up from where we were anyway. Michelle was so far ahead of us that I wasn’t even sure we were going the right way. Did we miss a turn? This couldn’t be right. Tiff was equally unsure. Finally I said, well I have $40 in my bag, if it is wrong, we’ll call a cab!! And we took off down the mountain hanging on for dear life. At the bottom of the mountain we saw Michelle waiting for us as well as a beautiful orange arrow telling us the course continues along the flat route of the river!! Who Hoo! The map was obviously not to scale and there was a different way to get to the next rest stop. We all breathed a sigh of relief and kept going.

The big monster hill was still waiting for us. I was really nervous about it because I had heard from everyone last year how hard it was. Our team is called the Flatlanders. One of the guys said “after Rupert Hill, you are no longer a Flatlander you are a Flat liner.” A lot of people have to walk up it. It is an 85 degree incline which in itself it not that terrible (we do harder than that in Nyack) but it goes for two and half miles!!! Two and a half miles of just climbing uphill. Then right at the end is a little spike that definitely is worse than 85 degrees and that is where people just burn out. Your legs are tired, you have been grinding forever and then you have to make that last spike. You can hear the bikes groaning under the strain. One gal who we picked up at the last rest stop was doing a serpentine to get up the hill – snaking back and forth. I thought it was an interesting technique but I was not about to try it. I just hunkered down and concentrated on pulling my heels up to my butt. (I remember Harlan the TNT bike coach on a ride to Nyack saying to me, the key to getting up the hill is not pushing it is pulling up. Kick your butt. Every time I find myself mashing the pedals and remember to start kicking butt I find I go a little faster and easier.)

When we finally got to the top of Rupert Hill everyone took a little rest. (They should have a rest stop there because EVERYONE stopped for a few minutes and stretched). Whatever was bothering you before was screaming now. Interesting, I had nothing bothering me yet. Remembering the cramps I had with Missy the previous week, I felt very blessed that not only did Sylvia not give out – neither did my legs, back or butt!

Everyone had different distance goals for the day — some were doing 45, some 75 and some the 105. Casha, Cassie (our two new friends) Tiff and I went on for the 105. At this point we were not waiting for each other because now we were fighting the clock. It was us against the SAG wagon. They wanted everyone off the course by 4:30. It was 3:15 and we had 25 miles to go. I know the best time I have ever done 25 miles in was 1:25 so I knew I wouldn’t make the cutoff but I would be so close they probably would let me finish. So we took off, Cassie, Me, Casha and Tiff. Pretty quickly we all separated. I was trying to hang with Cassie as long as I could but I was finding it difficult to hang on.

The last 25 miles were really hard. I was feeling mentally tired. It seemed like I was climbing, climbing, climbing and it felt like we had not had a downhill for a long time. I lost Cassie. She was determined to make her first 100 miler and not be pulled off the course. I was not that determined. I was starting to think that 80 miles was plenty and the SAG wagon was looking like a pretty good idea. Then I thought of something Coach Earl had said to us in Florida. When you start thinking about quitting that is a sign that you are out of nutrition and you need to eat. I had eaten everything I had with me but I had one Enervitene in my back pocket. I took it out and drank it. I would still take the SAG wagon when it came by but for now at least take the Enervitene in.

I was still climbing. I felt done, enough. Who cares? Climbing. I reached down and took another sip from my water bottle – the last sip. Great!!! No more water – I had filled up not even ten miles ago and now I was out. I was ready to pack it in. Still climbing. This was going on forever. It wasn’t that steep — just up and up and up. Never down. I was just counting the minutes ‘til the SAG wagon came along. No way am I even going to make 5 p.m. at this rate. Nobody on the course with me. Just a couple of cows here and there. I kept thinking about the wine tent. I really would like to put my feet up and have a glass of wine. How long have I been climbing?

Then all of a sudden there was a guy riding next to me. Super skinny, super fit – looked like a professional rider. He was wearing a white cycling jersey with big red dots. “How’s it going?” He says. I believe I just grunted in reply. I wasn’t smiling, I wasn’t being nice. I was out of water and I was climbing, climbing, climbing for what seemed forever (I’m sure it wasn’t that bad but it sure felt like it.) “You have about twenty more minutes of climbing and then you have miles of downhill. Then the last six mile are rolling hills and you are done.” “Is there another water stop? I am out of water?” “At the bottom of the hill is a church and there is a water stop there.” I no longer cared about finishing the course; I just wanted to make it to that water stop before they closed. It was 4:15 and I figured they would close up shop shortly. Then the guy said very slowly “You will do well.” And took off – flying up the mountain like it was nothing. I decided that without a doubt he was an Angel sent to encourage me. (Later Cassie said she had a long talk with God on that climb and she also had met the same guy….) I don’t know why those words sunk in but my OCD took over and I just kept repeating “you will do well, you will do well.” Twenty minutes – I can do anything for twenty minutes.

It wasn’t twenty minutes – it was about eight and I was at the top of the hill. But guess what? It wasn’t a hill, I had climbed to the top of a freakin’ mountain and now I was going down, down, down. An incredible release (word from a fellow rider who commiserated the next day on the same climb). I became aware of how much climbing I had actually done. Everything that goes up must come down and boy was I going down!!! My whole body relaxed and I was so relieved. Thank you God, thank you. I just couldn’t have climbed for one more minute. Rolling down, rolling down, rolling down. Whew!!! And then I saw the steeple. A church!! The church!! That must be the church.

As I rounded the corner there was a family at the water stop cheering and yelling for me. I almost started to cry (I am starting to cry right now). They are there, they are open and they are yelling for me and the SAG wagon has not caught me yet. I can’t describe the feeling. I pull up and say “I need water, do you have water?” The guy (who I have declared my second Angel) said “I have cold water, do you want a glass?” I sputtered the word “bottle, I need bottle.” The guy reached down onto my bike and pulled off both of my water bottles, filled them with water. As he was handing them to me he said, “They are open and ready for you to drink…” Okay, how nice is that? I don’t think I will ever forget that as long as I live. He opened the tops so I wouldn’t have to do that? “You have twelve more miles, one more small hill, a little downhill then rolling hills for the last six.”

They asked if I wanted to eat anything. I said no… Then they said “Watermelon? We have watermelon.” And the wife pointed to the plate full of watermelon. Yes, yes, I’ll have a piece of watermelon I nodded and said “you are Angels, all of you, Angels.” Then he said “no, you are, thank you for what you are doing.” That put me back in the right headset – this wasn’t for me – this is for everyone with MS, what had I been thinking that I would quit? Never!!! I thought of the MS shirt that said “this is why we ride.”

“Is the SAG wagon behind me?” I was anxious. “We’ll fend them off for you” the guy laughed. The little boy was staring at me like I was an alien. “What’s a SAG wagon? He asked?” The father told him the cars with the yellow signs; they want to pull her off the course. “Shhhh,” I whispered to the little boy, “don’t tell them you saw me.” He nodded in conspiracy. Then I took off for the end.

I guess the enervitene kicked in. The water kicked in, the big hills were over. I had been visited by Angels. My legs were fine, my back was fine. Nothing hurt. As I was pulling out I saw Cashi pulling into the water stop. “Go Cashi!!” I yelled, “twelve miles – we got this!!” I took off and I pedaled as fast as I could knowing the SAG wagon had to be on my butt. It was almost 4:30; I had twelve miles to go. Let’s see I do six miles in 21 minutes in Central Park so that means I had at least 40 minutes to go and it was already 4:30. Why did I waste so much time earlier in the day? If I hadn’t stopped for so long at rest stops I probably would have made the cutoff of 4:30 but now I was in a race – in the morning I was just being leisurely. But now I wanted to finish this 105 without getting picked up.

I pedaled my heart out. Finally I saw a sign that said 6.6 miles to go!! I was so pumped. I had this. No SAG wagon yet. Even if they caught me, I would tell them no way. Then I saw a rider lying on the grass with his bike. He waved to me to say he was okay. He was done and was waiting for the SAG wagon to carry him home. I kept pedaling, pedaling. I hit the 100 mile mark and I thought of Cassie ahead. She had been so intent on hitting her first 100 miler and I was happy for her. She did it!!

Then the first SAG wagon came by with the guy that I had just seen resting in the grass. “Want a ride?” I was pedaling so hard I just looked at them and said “I just did 100 miles; you think I’m going to quit now and not do the last 5?” They laughed and kept going.

Then the second SAG wagon came by. The woman was sooo nice – I am calling her my third Angel. The first thing out of her mouth was “Don’t worry we are not pulling you over, we just wanted to congratulate you on finishing your century.” I smiled and said “thank you!” The last five miles I felt like they were my first five. I was pumped. I didn’t get picked up by the SAG wagon. Now the miles were going quickly. Then I saw the finish line. I rolled in and everyone was there and cheered for me. I was so happy that I finished. I was so happy that SAG wagon didn’t make me get off. It was 5:15 – long after cut off but I finished on my two wheels. Sylvia was proud too. I could tell she was so happy to have been out on that ride in our own little race against time. (I could tell she was happy to show up my other bike Tina too!)

That night at dinner, we were all congratulating each other our day’s work. Claire asked, “was this your first century?” I said “oh no, not at all. Don’t you remember we did the Montauk century together?” She said “we only did 66 that time.” I had to think about it. “I’m sure I’ve done a century before. I ride all the time. I must have done a century.” Michelle said, “I don’t think so, I think Rockland was your longest so far.” I couldn’t believe that. Really? I’ve never ridden a hundred miles before? I just couldn’t believe that. How could that be? I’ve ridden 60 and 70 a zillion times but I’ve never done 100? How could I not know that? I had been so happy for Cassie making her first 100 it never occurred to me that this would be my first century as well. Quite silly if you think about it. Kind of like doing a marathon and saying “really? I’ve never run a marathon before?” LOL, oh well, better late than never!!!

On Sunday Michelle and I did an easy 47 miles. I tried to pedal fast for the last 6.6 miles so I could so I could rest assured that I had given it all I had. That brought the total for the weekend to 152 miles of biking. Half Ironman 56 miles in September? Bring it on baby, bring it on!!! (Half marathon afterwards, errr, other story…)

Namaste

If you are interested in finding out more about MS visit the following site:

This is why we ride

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8/10/06 The Popcorn Epiphany (346)

Thursday. Did my spin class/Stairmaster/rowing machine workout yesterday but didn’t do my second session which was to be core with weights. I guess I could do that today after my 2 hour run. Both days I was supposed to have the am/pm workout I managed to miss the second workout — must work on that. Both times it was my core workout…. hmmmmm interesting…..

Later today I leave for Connecticut where I will be picking up Sylvia (my other bike) for our ride to Vermont. I confess I have a bit of OCD which manifests in some peculiarities in my personality (my friends will attest to my weirdness over things like towels and leftovers) but I also sometimes fall into obsessing about stupid things like which bike to take with me to Vermont. I can spend hours going over the pros and cons in my mind, thinking I’ve made a decision and then never feeling like I have thought it through enough. This is mindless fodder to occupy my brain so I don’t think about the really important things in life. It is a diversion, a compulsion — something to distract me. So I made my list of pros and cons and threw it to my coach Lisa. The nice thing about Lisa is she cuts to the chase so in one sentence the decision was made to bring Sylvia with me to Vermont. (Yet, I still worry I didn’t explain ALL of the nuances of my struggle and perhaps left out some pertinent facts — stop already!)

Worry, worry, worry. An unnecessary and wasteful use of energy. Worrying about things that have already happened is unnecessary and wasteful because you can’t change it. It is what it is. Worrying about things that may happen is unnecessary and wasteful because you can’t control the future — what will be, will be. I could sit here one year away from Lake Placid and worry about whether or not I will make the bike cutoff (who me? worry about that a year out?) or just shut up about it and train. Either I will make it or I won’t. I will train and ride as hard as a can. If I get a series of flat tires, that’s out of my control, why worry?

I am not one to sit with regrets. I have made a lot of what other people may call bad decisions in my day, but I embrace all of them. Every decision I have made has brought me to the place I am in my life. I like my life. I like where I am and I love where I am going. So how can I regret any single decision I have ever made? That has brought me here. In this exact moment, I am happy so how can I have any regrets? (I guess I do regret any of my bad decisions that caused harm or pain to other people… Those I do regret…)

Last night I was chowing down on my nightly bowl of air popped popcorn which I have been eating every night because I am entitled to it. It’s on Core; I’m allowed to have it so I have it. Almost every night for the last ten days. I sit down and watch my TIVO and munch on my popcorn. That is until last night. I was munching and munching all the while thinking “hey this is the life, I get to watch TIVO eat my popcorn and it is all legal.” I worked hard today, I did my job, I did my workout, I ate core all day and now I’m still eating core and this is my treat, yadda, yadda, yadda. I was so smug with myself that I was practically kissing my own shoulders with how well I was “working” the plan. (Mind you I’ve not lost a pound in the last two weeks of “working” the core plan.)

All of a sudden Oprah is on the TV and she says something like “all of it, all of it boils down to not loving yourself. Over eating, Bulimia, Anorexia, Over drinking, Over spending, Lying, Cheating on your mate, compulsive shopping, compulsive gambling, all of it — all of it boils down to not loving yourself.” Screech. What do you mean I don’t love myself? (munch, munch) I love myself! (munch, munch) I love everything about my life (munch, munch) My life is great! (munch, munch) I have my nice apartment, my workouts, my goals, my work, my friends, my family, my TIVO, my popcorn (munch, munch) what the heck are you talking about?!?!?! But all of a sudden the popcorn tasted like cardboard. I looked at my hand that had been mindlessly just dipping into the popcorn and it just froze in midair. What was I doing? How is this loving myself? Sure there are not a lot of calories in this popcorn but what about the intention behind the action? Being mindless and just shoving popcorn in my face not because I want it, but because I can have it? Because it’s legal? Whoaaaa….Nelly. This cart definitely went way ahead of the horse, down the hill, into the ditch and sits under a bush with a broken wheel.

I put down the popcorn. I realized, I didn’t really want popcorn (air-popped or no). I was just fulfilling a new habit. A habit I had managed to create in a mere ten days of being on Core. I was actually mad at the popcorn for a moment. Can you believe that? I thought for one second “damn that popcorn! Foiled again!!” Then the epiphany. Then the laugh. You fool, you fool. It’s not the popcorn. It’s the mindlessness. It’s the not being present. It’s the attempt at escapism. It’s the refusal to sit and be quiet with myself for ten minutes. It’s the refusal to flip the off switch. It is not so much a matter of loving myself as it is a matter of being with myself (or maybe that is one and the same?). The popcorn has nothing to do with it — but had everything to do with it. That obsessive munching revealed something about myself.

That moment was powerful. I saw myself right there — my desire to check out. I’ll be present later, I’ll be mindful later. Leave me alone and let me zone out in front of the tube. I put in my time, now leave me alone. I deserve an escape. Second epiphany: there but for the popcorn would be a glass of wine.

It was so simple and yet so powerful. To stop and take that moment and say “what do I want? What do I need? Is it even food? Is it a drink? Is it a new Louis Vitton Suhali goatskin city bag in Sienne? (I mean, let’s just say for example….) Maybe not, probably not, of course not! This is all just stuff to clutter up the space and time and it all instills numbness not awareness, not mindfulness. Whoa, a real epiphany.

So after much consideration I have decided to switch to Jell-O for my evening snack. (Just kidding people, lighten up a little already!!)

Namaste

“Many men go fishing all of their lives not knowing it is not fish they are after.”Henry David Thoreau

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