Trusting the Process Part II: Uncoordinated Runner Attempts Mountain Biking

I am not coordinated.  I fall while running, while walking, while going up stairs, you name the activity and I’ll find a way to injure myself.  My daughter’s name means “one who walks with a strong proud gait.”  It is my hope that by bestowing such a name on her she will be more graceful than her poor mom.  But I digress…

My husband wants to do a long bike ride for his upcoming 40th birthday and was sweet enough to buy me a nice mountain bike so that I could join him.  The first time I took it out I crashed within 15 minutes.  Today I rode with my husband in lieu of doing my long run.  We were on a beautiful trail in the mountains in McCall, Idaho.  I don’t think this trail would be considered difficult or technical by any standards.  Nice and wide with some ruts, not too steep.  About three miles in I somehow popped my chain off of the gears and got it stuck.  While my husband was patiently trying to fix my bike for me, I was repeating to myself, “This moment is exactly as it should be. This moment is exactly as it should be.”  But although my head was saying that and my eyes were looking around and trying to appreciate the beautiful scenery and the peace and quiet of being along in the mountains with my husband, my heart was screaming the following:

“This moment is NOT as it should be!  I should be on a long run!  Or with my running team at the Famous Potato Races trying to get a PR! What is wrong with me? Why am I always injured? I don’t like mountain biking.  I should sell this bike.”  I almost burst into tears.

But I got back on my bike. Repeating, “This moment is exactly how it should be.”  My encouraging husband kept telling me what a great job I was doing even though he had to slow his pace and frequently wait for me while I walked my bike around ruts that I was too timid to ride around.  I felt like my heart rate was getting higher more from the adrenaline pumping through my body due to my fear of crashing rather than anything my legs were doing to power me up the hills.  My hands were getting tired from white knuckling the handlebars.  I knew there was so much beauty around me, yet I was afraid if I took my eyes off of the trail in front of me, I would miss a rut, rock, or stick and crash.  At one point my husband asked me if I was having fun and I just smiled.  Fear and frustration had been the more dominant emotions, and I didn’t want to lie.  As I rode along I thought also about a passage I read earlier this week in a book called “How Champions Think” by Bob Rotella.  In it he says that “Failure is only final when you stop striving.”

So even though I was slow, clumsy and awkward on the mountain bike, even though I was missing running something fierce, I was no failure.  I was out there.  I was only a failure if I stopped trying. This moment is exactly as it should be.

As my husband and I got to our halfway point and turned around, the most amazing thing happened.  I started to relax and bike a little faster.  I was able to take my eyes off the bike for long enough to enjoy the amazing views around me.  I was able to chat with my husband some and enjoy his company.  A luxury that we don’t get very often with three small kids in the house!  I was actually enjoying myself and having fun!  I returned home from that ride happy, refreshed and with a feeling of accomplishment.  And when I got on the bike again a couple of hours later to ride with my kids I realized that my legs had gotten much more of a workout than I thought.

I will get back on that bike and ride again with my husband tomorrow.  And I will probably be scared.  And I will probably get off of the bike and walk around the ruts.  But I will do it.  And I will keep going.


Trying to keep up!

Trusting the Process

This moment is exactly as is should be. Words spoken to me this week by my friend and coach, who also happens to be a very well rounded and smart woman who I admire and respect.  So I’ve taken these words to heart and tried to make them my mantra with respect to my hip injury, which was the topic of our conversation, and life in general. Easier said than done.

I have no idea what is wrong with my hip.  I have had hip problems since we were blessed with child #3 with the large and non-molding head.  My hips will often get tight and sore along the iliac crest.  I’ve been to multiple physical therapists and do a litany of hip strengthening exercises on a regular basis, yet the problem persists.  On this most recent flare up, which involves my right hip, it seems to have gone up into my side as well.  I feel like maybe I have strained an oblique?  I have an appointment with a doctor next week.  I have not been able to run for about a week and a half now (read: the situation is getting dire!), so I’ve made appointments with various specialists in an attempt to get to the root of this problem.  I made an appointment with an orthopedic doctor, a pelvic floor therapist (doesn’t that sound fun?! I thought so.), and an osteopath. To my surprise, I was able to get in to see the doctor first, the therapist second, and the osteopath a distant third.  Go figure.

Anyway, the forced break from running has made me slightly grumpy.  If you ask my husband he might say it’s more than slightly, but whatever.  The last marathon I ran was the Marine Corps Marathon in 2006.  Against my better judgment, I attempted it on an IT band injury ended up hobbling across the finish line in around six hours.  It was ugly.  I was on crutches for a week afterwards.  Nine years and three kids later, I finally feel ready to attempt another marathon.  I registered for St. George this year and no sooner does the payment clear than my hip thing rears its ugly head to the point that I cannot run without pain.  This moment is exactly as it should be.

Yes, it’s true.  I am doing things I would not otherwise be doing if I did not have the forced break from running.  I am doing more cross training, different types of cross training, I tried a new swim workout, and I am learning new strengthening exercises.  All while listening to some new podcasts and learning some new things.  But I also miss running and my running group.  I fully intend to come back to both with a renewed mind, body and spirit and ready to train.  And meanwhile I repeat (often while gritting teeth). This moment is exactly as it should be.

I am trying to make this my mantra in daily life too.  In the moments that are not so pleasant.  Like when I finally sit down to eat after having driven three hours and having fed all of the little people and then the littlest one crawls up on my lap having pooped in this pants. This moment is exactly as it should be?

Or when all three kids are yelling and screaming at each other in the back seat and I am trying to drive.  This moment is exactly as it should be?

Or when it’s 10:00pm and the kids are still running around like mice on crack and all I want is to watch a TV show or curl up with a book.  This moment is exactly as it should be?

Ok, so this is going to take some time and practice.  I have never been accused of being the most patient person in the world.  Perhaps the universe is trying to teach me patience.  And to trust and enjoy the process.  For it is not the end result that makes the journey worthwhile, but the journey itself.  Yes indeed, perhaps this moment, these moments, are exactly as they should be. 

How Many Runners Does it Take to Decode a Swim Workout?

Four.  The answer is four.  With one of them being a high school swimmer, another a college swimmer, the third a 70.3 IronWoman, and the fourth who sometimes fancies herself a sprint distance triathlete but has minimal knowledge of swim lingo (that would be me!).

So I’ve had this nagging/reoccurring/annoying/difficult to diagnose hip soreness issue since I had my third child (he’s three and a half now so I’m ready to be done with the hip thing) and it has been really sore this week so I used this as my motivation to check out a Swim Fit workout at my local YMCA.  I looked online to find out more information beforehand.  It is advertised as a coached workout for any level swimmer looking to improve speed, stroke, and/or endurance.  Sounds good!  I also tried to find someone at the Y to talk to about the workouts, but no one seemed to know anything, so I just showed up on Friday morning at 6:30 am with my suit, cap and goggles.

The Masters swimmers were finishing up their workout and I asked the lifeguard who would be coaching the Swim Fit workout.  She said the coach wasn’t there yet and gave me a nice speech about listening to my body during the workout and told me if I needed help I could always call out for a lifeguard.  Good to know! 6:30 rolls around, still no coach, the Masters swimmers are getting out of the pool and other swimmers are getting in, so I ask a nice lady how the Swim Fit workouts work and she tells me just to follow the instructions on the white board.  Like so:


Um, okay then.  Another guy gets in the lane with me and tells me he’s just going to swim freestyle the whole time.  I think he has the right idea, but I am going to give the workout a try since that’s why I came.  400 swim: okay, 200 kick: got that, 4×50: makes sense, 4×75 build: say what?! And what are those times there? Is that how long it is supposed to take me? And why only three times? 1:10? That’s about how long it takes me to swim 50 yards, not 75. Wow, I’ve got some work to do.  Okay, nevermind.  I’ll just do 4×75. The bottom half of the board also confused me and by the time I got there I had already swam a mile, so I called it good.  Again, maybe the guy next to me swimming freestyle had the right idea!

I went home, posted the workout photo on the Boise Betties running group page, and my swimmer pals came to my rescue.  Together we (read: they) decoded this workout (for my amateur self).  That, my friends, is teamwork!  The next question is, how many runners does it take to fix my hip so I can get back to the track and the trails where I really want to be?!