Movement

After 6 weeks of minimal activity, lots of iron supplements, and more steak than I consumed before going veggie I am finally getting energy back.

This week was about moving and in the process I tested my limits. While I know there is a long road ahead to get back to swimming, biking, running and strength training twice a day six days a week, it felt good to move again.

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First Run Back

My goal is to move a little more each week without causing my progress to go backward. I survived this week with a 1/2 mile swim, a 3 mile run/walk and 4 two mile walks with the pup. The swim and run pushed me to the edge so I am planning to drop the swim next week. But! That won’t stop me from being ecstatic about no more “couch arrest!!”

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The other German joined us for our nightly walk 

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Around the Sun

Today you are you! That is Truer than True! There is no one alive who is you-er than you! ~ Dr. Seuss

This past weekend I began my 33rd Revolution Around the Sun. It was celebrated just the way I like it, with immediate family, the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, and Pancakes for breakfast. The Huzz did an amazing job on my present, my mom forgave me for cancelling her birthday celebration (long story, don’t ask), and my dad…well we drank wine and coffee and laughed uncontrollably.

The rents

As I sat down to catch up this Monday, still recovering from the weekend, I came across the latest Hannah Brencher post and I realized I was guilty. Sooooo, guilty. Not of breaking the Chemex, thankfully. Dad would murder me in my sleep (I kid folks!) But of not putting it all out there. I realized the last time I had posted was my last long workout – three weeks ago.

What you haven’t seen lying under the surface and at the edges was my health. A few weeks ago, I felt off. Given the nasty germs roaming around the office, I assumed I was coming down with a cold. Two weeks later “off” was still hanging around and I was sleeping like a newborn (i.e. constantly) I fought the bad thoughts for a few days but I just knew something wasn’t right. I would come home from work and collapse on the couch, wake up, walk to the bedroom, and sleep again. Only to wake up and feel like I could continue to sleep for hours.

Bella cat napWe catch zzz’s together.

I pulled the trigger and called the Doc for an appointment where I begged for a blood test. Clinic squeezed me in and two days later – “significant” Iron Deficiency. What does that even mean in medical terms, significant??! I took bio, o-chem, A&P, worked in more than one doc’s office, and I don’t ever remember that being in the Merck’s Manual!

I digress…Apparently an Iron Deficiency is different than being anemic and common in athletes – especially women. I’m not going to pretend that I understand all the moving pieces. What I do know is that my body is running on empty. They tell me my red blood cells are too small, there isn’t enough oxygen in my blood, and my heart is working overtime to keep up.

So my dreams of 70.3 have been put on hold. I am only allowed to work out when I have the energy – which I definately do not right now. And I’m learning to pick myself up and dust myself off. This part, isn’t pretty. I look healthy on the outside and even those closest to me forget. It has become comical actually, “why aren’t you….oh, right.” Cue downward gaze. But you know what? Sometime life isn’t pretty. Sometimes getting to the start line takes more than one try. Sometimes you have to fall down to get back up again. And sometimes we need to cut the crap and stop pretending.

So here is me, not pretending. My birthday was damn awesome considering where my health is. I am paying for it – with an early bed time and beet & spinach smoothies. But I’m not sure that I would trade it. That girl that had her war paint on in the last post? She’s still here. And she will rise from the ashes just like the phoenix that inspires her to take on another start line on another day. In the meantime, here’s to keeping it real…

Here you can be anything. I think that scares you.” ~ Jimmy Eat World

M and IThis guy! I wouldn’t make it through this without him.

Tiffany'sBrownie Points for Life!

EspressoReliving our Trip to Italy

Epcot

 

Making it Official

It has been far too long since I posted. I promise I haven’t been a couch potato.

Half way through 2015, I’m looking back and thinking “Wow, that went fast!” The economy in Southwest Florida is turning around, which means the office is busier and I’m working way more than I should to stay afloat. But I won’t cry and whine about it because its time something positive happened in our region – and no one would listen anyway!

Connect Takes MiamiConnect Florida Takes Miami

NassauWeekend in Nassau, Bahamas

I have been training while I have been silent. I didn’t train through the entire winter like I had planned but I did refocus in February with a run, cycle, lift program to get myself back in gear and be sure I was building slooooooowly and listening to my body. I didn’t register for a race, just took each day at a time and really focused on my hamstring, knee and getting things where I wanted. The months have flown by, little by little my run splits are getting faster, my bike times are still hovering in the same range but I am able to ride longer and longer each week. And my balancing act on the Bosu ball has become so routine I’ve started adding weights and mixing up the leg work out. In short I felt good and saw progress – which means there is a stupidly large grin on my face.

Trainer RidesMy Christmas present to myself has come in handy

As I look at the calendar with only a few months left of triathlon “season” in Florida its time to share my racing goals on the interwebs and make them official.

As my tri-sistas wound down their training with the Naples Triathlon earlier this month, many of them started looking at their next race. We’ve been strength training, gossiping, cocktailing, laughing, and trying to decide what our next challenge will be. As July 4th quickly approaches, we’ve made the commitment as a team to race the Challenge Family Venice Beach (Florida)race in November. At the peer pressure of my Tri Sistas and in support of my own goals and dreams, I threw myself into a 20 week training program for the 70.3 course. Most of the training I’ve been doing since February was geared toward this goal anyway. Since my body is telling me in can handle it, again I find myself thinking What the Hell!

Running in Ponte VedraRunning in Ponte Vedra during a work conference

Its been 4 weeks since the training program started and I’m in the middle of week 5. My running on some days feels like there are concrete blocks attached to my feet and I’m tired but I’m keeping up and seeing small amounts of progress so I’m determined to keep going. I know that this will be my greatest triathlon challenge. I also know that with my Tri Sistas by my side I will do more than just finish. I am anxious and excited at what the rest of the summer and fall hold. I am also extremely thankful that I have gotten to the point where I am seeing uninjured progress again!

Tri SistasLOVE! my TriSistas

A look back to move forward

It’s that time of year again. The one where we all take a look around and make a list what we like and what we want to change and smile to ourselves about the great adventures we’ve had.

I started my reflection early this year. You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been a bit more absent in my triathlon/endurance posts lately. It’s for a good reason, I promise. I don’t talk about my personal/professional life much beyond its link to my triathlon/endurance adventures but I’m going to change paces for this post.

2014 was a life changing year for me. As of January 1, 2014, I became not just the Planning Director but a Partner in my firm. I am one of the few women in my profession that have accomplished this at such a young age and it took a lot of guts for me to jump off that cliff. I should probably use the word confidence but I’m actually still working on myself in that department. The decision to do this did not come easy, there were a lot of factors to consider – including the fact that my husband works for a competing firm. But in the end, we decided together it was the best option, for both of us.

In February, I traveled to Tallahassee to participate in Connect Florida’s Day at the Capital. I was nervous, attending the event by myself and unsure of what the weekend would hold. I threw myself into the experience, meeting as many people as I could and talking to them about their experiences with Connect Florida. After 2 days, I was hooked. I remember that evening pacing around the Capital talking to M on the phone, excited, animated, spilling my words out so they ran together. It had been a long time since I had that feeling. Those of you that know me professionally now how passionate I am about “homegrown” economic development and urban planning, the belief that communities can change their situations by focusing on their strengths. Well, I finally found an organization that believes the same thing in its young population. It’s not the older more experienced generation that will change the great Sunshine State but the younger (and sometimes just as established) professionals with the different ideas that will. I was infected after that weekend and set to work on my application right away. In the summer, I learned I had been accepted to the 2014-2015 class! We had our first session in Jacksonville in October. It was intense, we would start at noon on Friday and not stop till noon on Sunday.Connect Florida

Our second session in December was in Tampa. I continued to get to know my classmates as well as the issues affecting the state and the region. This time there was also a deliberate focus on involvement and giving back in the local community – something clicked. I had been working over the past year to adjust the organizations I volunteer with but it became more urgent after my weekend in Tampa. I got to work. Rather than wait for 2015 to begin, I finalized my plans. My focus has shifted from supporting my professional goals to supporting my community. In 2015, I will be part of the ULI Young Professionals Organization – which close ties to my alma mater, the Gulf Coast Humane Society – our local no kill shelter, and the FGCU alumni association. I am excited to get to work, meet new people, and take on new challenges.

In the spring, I reconnected with my high school best friend. After finishing my coursework in college way back when, I took off to Australia for a semester, just for kicks. During that time Dwyer’s mom was having serious health problems and the two of us fell out of touch. I had tried a few times over they years to track her down again but wasn’t successful until this year. I remember that first e-mail and phone call, it was like time hadn’t passed at all. We still enjoyed the same things, still finished each other sentences, and still laughed till our sides hurt. Somewhere along the way I mentioned that I wanted to run a half marathon and she  wanted to tackle her second. Over the next few months, we kept each other updated on training through social media, texts, and phone calls. Finally on November 16, 2014 I made it. After three previous unsuccessful attempts, I finally made it to the start line of a half marathon, ran the entire way with my bestie, and we crossed the finish line together.

Finished St. A

group pic

Just three days after finishing the half marathon, I finally got to take my honeymoon, we were only 5 years late! M and I spent 10 days, without work phone calls or emails, in Italy over Thanksgiving. Fabulous doesn’t even begin to describe our journey. I have wanted to travel to Italy since 2004 and for one reason or another just hadn’t been able to make it happen. We walked an average of 10 miles a day, with a few days over 13. We were exhausted every night and never really adjusted to the time change but it was phenomenal!

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madonna

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We spent the last year saving time off to take this trip and decided we wanted to take more advantage of 3 or 4 days weekends to travel and explore. We are starting 2015 with a trip to Destin, FL for the 30A Song Writers Festival. The line-up has been announced and I am so excited! February will bring us to Nashville to celebrate a dear friends birthday and kick our heels up to more great music. Then in March we are traveling for a week with my family to Utah to see M’s family. His brother recently had a baby boy that we haven’t had a chance to meet yet and of course, I can’t go that close to the mountains without hitting the slopes. Winter will be a whirlwind and makes me more excited to see what spring and summer hold.

The only New Years “Resolution” I haven’t already been able to reach and resolve is the one where I balance work and life better. Each year, multiple times a year, I hit the restart button and adjust the balance of work, home, and play. I do really well for a couple of weeks/months and then inevitably something happens at the office and I spiral downward. M and I have spent a lot of time thinking/talking about this, as he suffers the same affliction. We don’t have a perfect plan in place but we are working on it together. Moving furniture around, making a home office with space for both us and purchasing additional workout equipment so we can reach our varying goals together. Will we slip and fall with this one?? Maybe, but we’ll be together

St Augustine Half Marathon

Well faithful readers, I swear I haven’t forgotten you. I’ve just been enjoying life.

You’ve heard that I raced a half marathon in November. Here’s how I made it!

The Short Version: My bestie and I were at the start line of the St Augustine Half Marathon on November 16th. We ran the entire race together and crossed the finish line arm in arm a few hours later. I admit there were tears but they were from overwhelming joy and it was fantastic.

St Augustine

The Less Short Version: Dwyer and I lined up at the start line of the St Augustine Half Marathon. It was tense for me. We literally found our places at the at start line as the gun went off. It took me a little while to work out the jitters but a few strides in, I found the 11min/mile pacer and focused on staying with her. It was slower than I wanted to run and slower than my training sessions but it helped me calm my nerves and settle in. Dwyer and I ran like this for over half the race. I felt great and was kept thinking, “Holy Crap! I am actually doing this!”

The halfway point of the race was at the bottom of a bridge. I was hoping to take a short walk break, suck down some water and a gel. However as we came down the bridge, past the race dj, and around the water stop I heard it. Dwyer lives in Tally and St. Augustine isn’t that far of a drive. So, her compadres drove in to cheer us on. Complete with a portable stereo playing Eye of the Tiger on repeat. Did you know, Eye of the Tiger will fit on a regular CD 11 times in row? I couldn’t help but laugh and smile from ear to ear as I heard the sounds of Survivor and then a bunch of adults having a scream-a-long. It was even better when they got in the car and followed us as we climbed back up the bridge.

We continued on an average 11 pace until mile 10. At that point I tried to convince Dwyer to talk a few walk breaks at the end of each mile simply for the mental break. She was not having it. I love her dearly but by mile 12 I needed to take a minute and shake the demons. So I did. I didn’t let her get too far ahead of me, the visions of the two of us crossing the finish line together still dancing in my head. Then we hit the last bridge. Dwyer is fantastic at climbing and I was great at racing down the bridges so we kept each other on track even though we would split up a little bit ascending, until the last bridge. She hauled up that thing and down the other side before I could even think.

Finished St. A

Unfortunately, she over did it and I found her sitting on the sidewalk on the other side. After a little pep talk and a few test steps she decided she wasn’t going to walk it in. So we slowed down and ran it in together. Finishing just the way I had envisioned – arm and arm, smiling ear to ear and laughing to another scream-a-long to Eye of the Tiger. OK, so maybe I hadn’t envisioned it in exactly that way but I wouldn’t change it either. Dwyer is good, no long-term injuries or damage and is considered another half soon.

Me and Dwyer

I seriously considered signing up for another half marathon immediately after. There’s a local half in the Fort in March. But sitting where I am right now, I am glad I didn’t. I needed a break and I took it. The huzz and I have been working on the house, traveling, actually spending time together – you know stuff married people do. It took awhile but I think my battery is finally recharged and I’m looking toward new goals and new adventures.

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SOAS Black Carbon Gear Review

This gear review has been a long time coming. The anniversary of my revolution around the sun was wwaaaaaaaay back in September, the 27th to be exact. After celebrating with more good food and wine than my system could handle, I decided to spoil myself. I had needed, well more like wanted, a new pair of tri shorts for awhile. I purchased two pairs early on in my adventure into triathlon. To be frank, I made these purchases on financial consideration only. I was not ready to spend a lot of money on gear for a sport that I wasn’t sure I would participate in long term.

Since the end of my 2012 season I had been hunting around the internet reading reviews on all types of tri shorts and finally settled on a pair.

SOAS Brick

SOAS Black Carbon Tri Short. I have been following some of the 2013 SOAS brand ambassadors as they swim bike run various races last season and the one thing they all agree on is the gear is fabulous! So, I thought what the heck and treated myself to a birthday gift.

I have to say, these tri shorts are awesome! There aren’t enough positive words in the dictionary to write about them. They showed up on my doorstep just a few days after I ordered them. Just in time for and OWS/bike brick the HB and I had planned to get ready for TriRock! I was a bit nervous that they wouldn’t be all that I expected. However, they did not disappoint.

The “yoga” waistband is fantastic. There’s no digging into your stomach in aero or ugly red marks when your done training. The  legs are wider than ‘standard’ and there are no little red dots when you’re done! Even as I stripped my wetsuit with a too short tri top on, the shorts stayed in place instead of rolling awkwardly around the waist or legs.

The fleece chamois is a god send. For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t itching to get off the bike because of rubbing or pinching. Since that first training session, I have worn them on the indoor trainer for over an hour, during bridge repeats on the Sanibel Causeway, and for TriRock Clearwater. But, this wouldn’t be a review if there weren’t some down sides. However, I will admit the only downside is completely my fault.

The bad news: I ordered a medium. I tend to be very skeptical of sizing charts because inevitably if I follow them and order the size I’m supposed to, the item never fits. So I always order a size up. Well, you don’t have to do that with SOAS! Another blessing from a female run company I guess! The sizing chart had my measurements as a small and while the medium fits, stays put, and doesn’t rub I think the small would be even better.

If you’re looking for new tri gear, check out SOAS!

 

Runnin’ around this Town

It has been an interesting few weeks in my household. In a little less than a month and a half, I was in 4 different cities outside of the Fort. The trips were evenly divided between work and fun so I really can’t complain. But the best part was, I got to run in all of them. It was fantastic!!

First up was Jacksonville, the subject of my last post.

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Next up, the HB and I headed to West Palm Beach to visit my parents and my dad’s brother who was in town visiting. This trip was just a week after Jacksonville so I didn’t expect much. I had been continuing to work on my form so the only goal was to run for 20 to 25 minutes with no pain or soreness. We had a busy day ahead so the HB to the fur baby to the dog park 2 miles away so she could also get some exercise in (she no longer likes to run – go figure!) while I ran toward the dog park. Made it in 23 minutes!! Then we switched Frisbee throwing duties and the HB ran back. Of course, the overachiever beat my time. But I was pain-free that day and days after so I didn’t care.

WPB palms

Two weeks later, I was off to Tallahassee for a work conference. I decided to run Saturday morning before leaving Tallahassee. I think I was still on a high from the conference I attended because I decided to take on Monroe Street knowing full well the Florida hill that it contained. It went slow but I felt good. I finished off running west in the linear park along Park Ave into FSU’s campus. I had no idea how close I was to the University while I was at the conference, I would have done more exploring!

Tally

Tally greenway

Another two weeks and the HB and I were vacationing in Key West celebrating a friend and training buddy’s 40th. Admittedly this run was a bit rough. I unfortunately came down with whatever nasty bug has been making its way around the Fort along with an ear infection. Once it was in my ears I went to see the Doc who of course gave me antibiotics. Unfortunately they came with the lovely side effect of migraines and sensitivity to light. I thought I would be alright during the early morning hours so the HB and I decided to make the most of it. We ran all around town for as long as our legs and my pounding head would let us.

Large Statues Key West

Episcopal Key West

Each trip had great highlights and even better memories. I’ve kept running since this whirlwind and I am very excited to report that each week I have been able to run not only longer but a little bit faster. I have almost met my running goals and am easing back into triathlon training. I’m waiting to see how the next 3 weeks go before making any race plans, but I am cautiously optimistic!

New Beginings

I’ve been pretty silent in this space for the past few months. If you’ve stuck it and are still reading – thank you. I did not forget about you few faithful readers out there, I just did not have anything I was ready to share. But I wasn’t just sitting around, see…

Back at LSU

LSU Home Game

hundreds of years old oak

500+ year old Oak in Lafayette

Tally break

Road Trip Break in Tally

The girls on Christmas morning

The Ladies of the Ekblad house celebrate Christmas at the Mayfield’s

I’ve been working to change that the past few weeks and I figure its time to stop being so quiet.

The end of 2014 found me in a place I wasn’t happy with athletically. I felt as though I was on a constant roller coaster with my running. I’d feeling better with no pain, then feel like crap, and hobble around work and the house. So, during the holidays I took some time to myself. I don’t just mean unstructured training, I mean over the course of a month I left work early, got a manicure, got a haircut and highlights, drank too much wine, ate copious amounts of meat, took photos, enjoyed downtown at night, read a whole book, and spent some time with my own thoughts more often than not.

I realized a lot of things in that time, like it doesn’t take long to lose muscle and feel ‘squishy’, I really like Shiraz for South Australia, I am not a morning person, and I really like almond milk in my coffee. None of these realizations are particularly enlightening, except one. I am always in rush.

mollydooker

MollyDooker is fabulous! The bottle of choice for the holidays was The Boxer.

This relates to my professional life as well as my age group life. It took me awhile, but one day over a journal page full of doodles and a cup of coffee, I realized that over the past year I never really felt ready to go back to training or to be at the start line. I often went back because my sistas encouraged me. Don’t get me wrong, I need the encouragement of these women or else I wouldn’t be where I am today. However, like most triathletes, I do have a type A personality and don’t like to be left behind. So I would push it – more than I should have. I also don’t like to say “I can’t” or I shouldn’t”

So what did I do over that cup of coffee you may ask? I decided enough was enough. I let my USAT membership lapse, I washed and packed away my swimsuit, and dismantled the trainer. I decided the only thing that was going to fix me was strength training and working on my running form – as that’s what was causing me the most frustration and pain. Once I felt strong enough and could cover 4 miles under 10 minutes a mile with no pain, I would go back to swimming and biking as well.

So, since the first of the year I’ve been focusing on running. I rejoined crossfit and found a coach that holds run form focused sessions. I finally went for my first 30 minute run in weeks. I was fortunate to be at Jacksonville Beach for a work event and took advantage of the location to run 1/2 my time on the beach and the other 1/2 along first street. It was blissful. There was no soreness or pain during or after and I was even able to wear heels without discomfort in my knee.

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roll on home

Now THAT is an OWS!

Its been difficult for me to watch as my sistas start their training for St. Anthony’s. I want very badly to join them and race the Olympic distance race. But I made this choice for me and while I won’t be chasing them in the pool I can chase them on race day with a damn loud cowbell and it will make them smile just as big.

Headed West

I completely forgot about this post. Sorry loyal readers!

Many months ago the HB and I headed west, Salt Lake City to be exact. The HB – who I promise will have a formal introduction in an upcoming post – has lots and lots and lots of family there. On this particular occasion, we went to see the HBs brother Brett marry his long time girlfriend, Nikki!

Tuesday before the wedding we got up at an ungodly hour and headed to the Tampa airport to start our 6 hour journey west. We arrived to a gorgeously sunny day with no humidity! I was in love instantly, I wanted to put on my running shoes and go until my legs had nothing left. Unfortunately, I had to wait….until the next day. It was torture.

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Wednesday morning finally rolled around, the HB and I were up early to enjoy the scenery. It was so early, that I was quickly reminded the desert doesn’t hold any heat. While I wished I had a light long sleeve shirt, I still loved running in the cooler weather and it was soooo much better than the nasty humidity at home. About 2 miles in, we were reintroduced to an old friend – Hills! It was a wake up call. The descents were fabulous, I was faster than ever and able to pass up the HB. Same thing on the flats. The uphill portions, well lets just say I’m glad TriRock only has one causeway along the run. I can attack it and get it over with. After about a 3 miles we decided to cut it short and get ready to go hiking.

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We rallied various family members and decided to tackle a 3 mile trail in the Wasatch Mountains. We made it up the trail to Dog Lake and reveled in the warm weather and sunshine. I can easily see why our family and friends that live in mountainous states say they could never leave – despite the sunshine and beaches we tease them with constantly! We came across quite a few trail runners and I’ll admit I was insanely jealous!

Thursday morning we decided to check out the Magna Recreational Center. I was again immediately jealous. The facility was relatively new and full of great sparkly equipment. We got in a strength training workout and headed back to the house to ‘clean up’ for another day of hiking. This time we went to the Unitas Mountains. The area is a valley so the water gathers in a large pool along certain points. It was another great day for hiking, bird watching, and spending time with family.

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By Friday our legs needed a break so we took a day off and enjoyed the wedding festivities. Which of course included lots of running around before the ceremony and lots of dancing afterward.

Brett Decorating the Cake

The Groom Decorating the Cake… you’ll see why this is so fitting in a bit!

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I have a Sister!

Sunday my legs weren’t up for more running but they were up for walking and hiking – go figure. The HBs brothers, Brett and Brian build 4x4s from older trucks that then bring to Moab and other great desert camping locations to climb obstacles, camp, etc. We don’t often get to go to Moab or the other locations with them so they agreed to gather up the truck and head out to the old section of Kennicot Mine and ride around. It was fabulous. We sped up rocky trails, climbed obstacles, took a ton of trash the dress photos with Nikki, and checked out old mine shafts. I had so much fun. We had only been once before – in the snow – so it was nice to be able to go in the good weather and take in more of the surroundings.

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Ready to Roll Out

Cheese!

Bouncin’ around the trails!

At that point our trip was almost over. The remaining days were spent relaxing and visiting family across the valley before we had to return to humid reality. We enjoyed the extra family time and are already planning our next trip. Fingers crossed it will include camping in Moab!

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