Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Daily Dose of Gratitude #70

1. Making someone's day.

2. Drinks with an old friend, with whom you've recently reconnected, and discovering you still laugh together just as much as you used to.

3. Wildflowers in a vase by the window.

4. A man who can fix things

5. The thrill of anticipation before a much-needed weekend away.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Daily Dose of Gratitude #69

1. A sprig of fresh mint in my water bottle. Yum!

2. A beautiful after-work bike ride yesterday -- sunshine, eucalyptus-scented air, and Tiburon's bazillion dollar views, all for the price of some muscle power and sweat.

3. Beating the top team in the league at soccer last night. (Really, really nice after a full season of getting our asses kicked on my other team!)

4. The fact that on my running route, I see the following fruit trees/vines: fig, apple, orange, strawberry, lemon, lime, grapefruit, tangerine, buddha's hand, banana (!), guava, plum, avocado, blackberry, grape, apricot, passion fruit, persimmon, blueberry, and pomegranate. Basically, I live in paradise, except with more traffic. :-)

5. Josh Ritter's new album, So Runs the World Away. You must, must, must go listen to it immediately because it is utterly awesome. Especially the song "Long Shadows"

Friday, May 7, 2010

Daily Dose of Gratitude #68: Morcom Rose Garden edition

One of my favorite things about moving to a new neighborhood is discovering its secrets. A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a beautiful rose garden in my neighborhood. It's nestled down in a ravine, hidden among houses and condos, and you never even know it's there until you're right on top of it.

Tonight, I finally made it back there with my camera, and I am grateful for roses. Lots and lots of roses. (And yes, it does smell like heaven there, too!)

Bonus points to anyone who can tell me why my images look so faded on blogger compared to how they look in iphoto.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Daily Dose of Gratitude #67

1. Strong legs, strong lungs, and a strong heart.

2. Finally having reached the point where running 6+ miles isn't really that big of a deal. I'm not gasping for breath, my calves aren't painfully tight, and I can mostly just GO. (Now if only I could figure out how to prevent the hot spots and blisters!)

3. Grilled chicken with home-made Tzatziki sauce and quinoa for dinner. Yum!

4. Lake Merritt. This is where I've been doing my runs lately. Gorgeous. It's about a 1.5 mile run from my house, then exactly 5K (3.1 miles or so) around the lake, and another 1.5 miles home. Great after work loop. If I'm only up for a short run, I drive or ride my bike over there and just do the around-the-lake part.

5. The pride I still feel when I look at my race number from last weekend pinned on my bulletin board. :-)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Holy cow, I just did a TRIATHLON!!!

Y'all! I just did a triathlon. I'm still a little in shock. But there's totally photographic evidence. See:

That's ME. With a race number pinned on my shirt and a medal around my neck! Did I mention that I still can't quite believe I actually did it?

I've actually been training for a couple months now, but just never got around to writing about it. I have to say, this is something I never, ever thought I'd do. I've always loved soccer and hiking and being active, but racing? Not really my thing. I didn't even learn to swim for real until the past October, and I think I took driver's ed and learned to ride a bike right around the same time!

Anyway, I actually started training on a whim -- couldn't find a gym I really liked in my new neighborhood, was tired of sitting on the sidelines at my ex's triathlons (I'm not really a sit-on-the-sidelines kinda girl, in case you haven't noticed), and happened to stumble across this 13-week triathlon training program being offered by a local running store, See Jane Run. We have three team workouts a week -- a pool workout, a track workout, and a long workout on the weekend (bike rides, open-water swim, longer runs, or some combo). It's been SO, SO, SO motivating to have set workouts -- I push myself so much harder when I'm with a group than I ever could on my own -- it's part of what I've always loved about playing soccer.

Anyway, we're actually only in week 8 of training now, but my awesome workout partner, Emily, convinced me that I was ready for a race now, and she was totally right. Today, I swam a half mile in open water, rode 11 hilly miles, and then ran a hilly 5K. All in a ROW! And ohmygosh was it HARD. I mean, physically, it was challenging, but mentally, it went well beyond challenging. Have you ever tried to swim a half a mile in 60 degree water, with other swimmers flailing all around you? It literally takes your breath away. I had a few bad minutes early in the swim, in which I had to talk myself out of a panic attack a quarter mile from shore (it didn't help that they mis-set the course so that the swim was longer than it was supposed to be -- SERIOUSLY???). But I toughed it out and made it through the swim, the bike, and the run. And, look, I only bled just a little! ;-)

(Bike mishap -- chain slipped off the gears midway up a hill, I wiped out -- oops).

Anyway, now that I've done my first race, I've been sitting here all afternoon glowing with pride, and thinking about how full of awesome "first times" this whole training experience has been. It's not just the race -- It's all the ways I've pushed myself and succeeded along the way. Among the firsts:

-- running 3 miles straight and thinking it was totally easy.

-- running 6 miles straight, ever.

-- running while chatting with my running-mates and actually enjoying it (maybe because I now have the lung strength to talk and run at the same time!) Turns out, running is much more fun when you're hearing about so-and-so's boyfriend drama while you go. Who knew?

-- running and actually enjoying it. It might help that I've been doing my running in stunning venus. Our regular workout track is high in the Berkeley hills, with an amazing view of San Francisco at sunset across the bay, our weekend workouts are in places like Tiburon, and I've been doing my independent runs around Oakland's Lake Merritt or in Frederick Law Olmstead-designed Mountain View Cemetery.

-- putting on running tights and thinking, huh, my butt actually looks kinda cute in these. :-)

-- wearing a wetsuit. Someone should really video tape us trying to get in and out of those things. It's comedy gold! I get the giggles every time. Me, halfway into my wetsuit before the race today:

-- having to douse myself in body glide to keep said wetsuit from chafing

-- swimming in the San Francisco Bay (!)

-- swimming in the SF Bay and enjoying it -- seriously, y'all, there's nothing like being out on Treasure Island early on a Saturday morning, watching the sun turn San Francisco all rosy and knowing that you're doing something that very few people would even think about doing. Yesterday, I had to do a quick swim to save myself for today's race, and I was actually SAD to get out of the water!

-- Riding my bike more than 15 miles at a go. And then more than 20 and more than 30 . . .

-- Wearing cycling shoes

-- Riding with clipless pedals on my bike. Despite what the name might indicate, clipless pedals are actually pedals that you clip your foot into while you're riding, kind of like a ski binding. I think perhaps the bike dude who named these pedals didn't know the meaning of the suffix "-less."

-- wiping out horribly on clipless pedals while learning to use them, giving myself the nastiest bruise I've ever had. (Mom, avert your eyes) See:

Actually, that first picture doesn't really do it justice. How 'bout this one?

The good news is, triathlon training is apparently turning me into a superhero, because that baby was almost completely GONE only 9 days later. My bruises never heal that fast!

-- and then, after a few tears, getting back on my bike and keeping on going to finish the hardest ride of the season (3 Bears Loop in Orinda. The "bears" in the ride name are the 3 big-ass hills, papa, mama, and baby).

-- not being terrified of riding uphill anymore. Or downhill for that matter -- I don't ride the brakes nearly as much as I used to!

-- swimming at the public pool. Which, as it turns out, is actually quite nice if you can ignore the skanky locker room. It's a heated outdoor pool, open year-round, with nice long lanes so you can get a good rhythm going.

-- sharing a swimming pool lane with someone else (actually 5 someone elses at my regular team workouts!) I only learned to swim in October, by thrashing about in the pool at the very swanky gym in my old neighborhood. I never had to share a lane there -- the pool was always practically empty. Which is good when you look like an injured seal as you try to learn freestyle.

-- doing swimming drills (I kind of love fingertip drag. Catch-up still gives me water-snarf syndrome, though)

-- swimming a mile straight, no stopping (just two days ago!)

-- Swimming butterfly stroke (yesterday!)

-- Swimming fly kick on my back -- fun!

-- Doing "brick" workouts (where you go straight from one workout to the next --e.g. biking to running. Called a brick because your legs feel like bricks at first when you switch events, supposedly, although that has not been my experience at all)

-- thinking that it's no big deal to ride my bike 25 miles and then run immediately afterward

I think when I started this whole thing, I just thought it'd be a good way to motivate myself to work out. But as it turns out, I've gotten SO much more out of it than that. I mean, first of all, I thought I would just do the easiest version of each of the workouts (they often give us a beginner option and an intermediate/advanced version) -- those looked hard enough. But as it turns out, I almost always do the longer version of the workout, and both enjoy it and find myself completely capable of it. There has been a time in almost every workout when I thought I maybe couldn't finish, or when I wanted to just stop because this or that was hurting or I was tired or whatever. But I've finished all of them. And now, today, I finished a race.

You'll have to excuse me while I go glow with pride some more: