Tuesday, August 31, 2010

mind and body weekend!

This past weekend was packed-full of activities!!!

On Saturday morning, Mirza, his mom, and sister accompanied me to the pier so I could do my first real 5k, since I don't consider the 5k at my triathlon to be the first real one!

I was excited and a little nervous, and I got to meet Megan and her husband. She was super nice and down-to-earth!

The event's focus was to raise funds for Huntington's Disease. I did not seek this 5k out, but stumbled upon it, thinking it would be good to do a 5k before my next Tri (on Sunday!). It just happened to fall on a day I had off from work, and was only about $10, so I figured, why not?

This was the first year they had this run, and you could tell it was still in it's infancy. It was not for competition, but rather a "fun walk/run." There was no clock or real start/finish line.

My goal for the 5k was to finish in under 35 minutes. I also wanted to really push myself (safely, of course) and give it all that I could.

Mirza's sister took photos and I'm still waiting on them, but I do have a couple to share. Got 'em!

I was "lucky" number 13!

They had a pre-run yoga stretch...

I felt pretty good during the run. I know that I am a slow runner, but also pretty damn new at it, so it does not bother me when tons of people pass me. I tried to really focus on pacing myself, so I wouldn't completely poop out!

When I crossed the finish line, a man was yelling out times, and he yelled "27:38!" I was surprised. Totally happy, of course. UHHHH, that is impossible and really fast??

I learn moments after while waiting in line for my goody bag that the course was not a full 3.1 miles. Some people's Garmins were reading 2.3-2.5 miles, SO that kind of sucked. But I didn't let it ruin my happy feelings. I calculated that I would have more than likely completed my goal of under 35 minutes if it actually were 3.1 miles. Damn you, unorganized races!

After the run, I went for a swim at my gym, and then from 2-5pm, I had a yoga workshop on Ayurveda!
My western-medical ICU nurse MIND has a difficult time buying into some of this stuff since they never give a real WHY and I'm all about having real answers. It was still fun to learn.

Sunday was another activities day with more swimming, and a yoga workshop titled, "Discovering a home practice." I LOVED IT.

The instructor was great. We talked a lot about the difficulties that some might have with beginning to practice yoga on their own without a teacher. One of the most important things one can do to establish a yoga practice at home is to SET AN INTENTION. Why are you practicing? What do you hope to gain from your yoga practice? Do you wish to calm your mind, discover new qualities about yourself, heal  yourself, become more mindful, happier, joyous, discover who you are?Become more mindful, breathe more efficiently (<--some of the intentions that I wrote down for myself during class).
Intention is what will guide you through your practice.

In addition, you might find obstacles that prevent you from practicing at home, all of which usually fall into the category of space, time, and consistency. Eventually, it comes down to this: If there's something you truly want to do, NOTHING WILL STOP YOU.

The class was all shapes, sizes, ages, gender, etc., which just shows that anyone can do yoga. AND THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG.  No competition.Yoga truly can be what you want it to be. Move around, lift an arm or leg, does it feel good? What about *this*? Just try something and see how it feels. It doesn't matter if you've never seen that posture in a book or in class; if it feels good, then go with it!

We ended the class with our own yoga sequence. It was enlightening. I believe that a yoga practice at home truly is the heart of yoga. The instructor mentioned that, "teachers are like training wheels, eventually they get in the way." Too true.


On a totally different note, some of you may have seen a new topic at the top of my blog. That's right!

On December 11th, 2010, I will be participating in the Ride to Defeat ALS to raise much needed funds for the ALS Association. This event is known as a metric-century, or in layman's terms: a 62.5 mile bike ride.

The ALS Association provide patient services resources and fund global, cutting edge research.

This ride is an exciting opportunity for us to work together to support those affected by Lou Gehrig's Disease and to spread awareness of the urgency to find treatments and a cure. A little over 5,600 people are diagnosed with ALS each year; that's about 15 new cases per day! ALS  is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, which can eventually lead to paralysis of the entire body. There is no cure for this disease....YET!

Here is where you step in, my lovely readers. I am asking for your help. Please go to my donation page and donate $5. That's it. That is all I am asking. My goal is simply $150, and I plan to get there $5 at a time. You probably lose a $5 bill while doing laundry, and don't even miss it. $5 will not break the bank, and I promise it will go to a good cause.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mindful living

The theme for the rest of my year and into 2011 will be mindfulness.

Only that day dawns to which we are fully awake.
-Henry David Thoreau

What does it mean to be mindful?  It is asking yourself, what are you doing? and why are you doing it?

"Once years ago in China, a young monk asked his Zen master, "What is enlightenment? What is it like for you?" The master replied, "What I eat, I eat. What I sleep, I sleep." (source: Awakening the Buddha Within by Lama Surya Das, pg. 298).

To be mindful can have many interpretations, but for me, it's about being aware of everything I am doing at each moment. Too often, I feel as if I am living, but not. Too often, I am going through the motions, my mind is scattered and distracted and any brief moments of peace are fleeting, as such is everything in this life. I want to be more fully present--more aware. Why? I want to embrace my life and taste it! I want to breathe and feel the energies of the earth, and to understand the interconnectedness of all life; to be nicer to people!! Empathy. I'm not going all new-age on you guys, I'm simply being honest.

You see, there are a lot of paths my life can take, and for the past couple of years, I had a lot of it planned out. I'm an RN. I am in love. I will get married, and have children. I want to travel. I "plan" on all of these things, but have not left enough room for the occurrences that are not scheduled. 

Over a month ago, Angela of ohsheglows.com wrote a post asking her readers: What are the things you want to do but you aren’t sure they have a practical purpose? 

I knew immediately my answer, but more importantly, the question stayed with me. I cursed life and it's stupid social standards of making life into a cookie-cutter schedule. If there was something in life that I felt was calling to me, then why should I let anything hold me back?!
We come up with so many excuses, mainly related to time and money. But I realized that these are all a facade. If there is something you truly want to do in life, you will find a way to make the time, or find the money, or whatever obstacle may seemingly be in the way. It sounds like a no-brainer; we all know this fact, but do we truly live that truth? I know I probably don't...or didn't.

And that is why...I am taking the next step to be more mindful in my life and to truly live. 

Starting January 2011, I will be enrolling in Yoga Teacher Training. 

This is something I've wanted for a long time now. The deposit is paid! And I'll be starting a bit early through completing workshops and classes. 


Also in January, I plan to begin graduate school. I want to focus on preventive care, and yoga fits into that.

I'm also going to be taking some painting classes this fall...for fun! I'm thrilled. I have no experience in art, but the other day while boycotting social media , I yearned for something to get the creative juices flowing. So much of my life is spent on structured activities, like work, exercise, eating, and blogging! I'll be approaching paint class with an open, non-judgemental mind! I cannot criticize myself with this. I need to let it all flow...


In order to be more mindful, I need to stop MINDLESSLY eating. Since training for a triathlon and going vegetarian, I have gained weight. It's all good, but I wonder why? I don't think I gained muscle. I suppose I just ate more because I thought I was doing more cardio and it would all even out. It could also be that I am now 25, and can no longer eat whatever I want without batting an eye. waaah! Too many desserts, people. Not enough strength training. Well, I need to be more mindful of my eating and what the hell I am shoveling into my mouth. I love food. And I love a good dessert and treat. I won't give that up or restrict myself, but I am going to be more aware of it all and respect my body more. I will be asking myself, "what am I really craving?" before I mindlessly stuff myself with chocolate cake...sometimes, the answer may just be CHOCOLATE CAKE, but I will ask the question...

This leads me to the triathlon eating plan. Eat, sleep, hydrate, PEACE.

This afternoon, I made a lovely tempeh stir fry...

Enjoyed some Sencha green tea...

And I am trying to kick my addiction to "all natural" SKIPPY (loyal lifetime eater) to something that actually is natural...

And although I'm still skeptical, I've been taking these vitamins the past month, and I have seen a noticeable increase in my nail length and strength...hmph. They're made from food, not synthetic. And they don't turn your urine fluorescent yellow, which is nice.

Do you have a theme for the next year or 2011? What are you doing right now in life to ensure you're truly living? 

Post Triathlon Thoughts

Yesterday I took the day off to rest and relax. I was a little sore from the triathlon, but mostly itchy! WHY? I got eaten alive by mosquitos at Fort Desoto during the early morning hours. My right leg alone has approximately 30 bites. I would show y'all a picture, but it isn't pretty, so I'll spare you. I spent the day rubbing cortisone ointment into my extremities, and generally looking like a freak. They seem a bit better today, so that's a plus.

Now, let's get to my current thoughts and feelings post triathlon. Immediately after, I was a total grouch. I would even verge on saying I was a bitch. I was negative and mean. I told Mirza that I "never want to do this again." I yelled at him for recording a video. I nitpicked at stupid shit. I looked online to find if I could get a refund on my next triathlon! I almost canceled my hotel in Orlando!

 It was all mental. I had too high expectations for myself in regards to my first race ever. In life, I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist, so to come in close to last truly hurt my pride. But that's just it; it was all ego. I should not have been focused on my times.
I did not give myself enough credit for finishing, for completely conquering a huge fear of mine: the water. Just months prior to deciding to complete a triathlon, I was on a boat with my aunt and uncle and I remember echoing the words, "You couldn't pay me to go in that water." I've always been afraid. It's a claustrophobic feeling of not knowing what's there. But it's the Gulf of Mexico, so we know what's there--fish, sting ray, sea weed, other creepy things. Even now, after doing the triathlon, just thinking about going back into the ocean makes my skin crawl. Don't ask, it just does.

But guess what? I did it, and to me, that is amazing.

After ruminating on the subject for awhile, and cursing all physical activity, declaring that I am "not meant for this," or that I "hate" running, I GOT.OVER.IT. I am actually proud of myself now.
I believe my high expectations could stem from reading other people's experiences on blogs. I tend to read a lot of amazing blogs of athletes who compete in tons of races and tri's. I cannot compare myself to this!! Perhaps someday, but not during my first race...ever.

Many people have told me they are proud of me, and congratulated me, and I realized that it doesn't matter if I was first, last, or average. I finished. I had the courage to SIGN UP. I had the notion to believe that I could do it, and I did! I want to thank the people who commented because immediately after the triathlon, I felt like crap, and they all helped me to put life into perspective and to feel proud of what I accomplished.

My drive is back!
I signed up for a 5k this Saturday.

This will be my first 5k, not including the triathlon, of course. And I've worked out a schedule leading up to the triathlon.

And I am actually pumped for the next triathlon on September 5th at Walt Disney World. Originally, I signed up for my first triathlon to give myself "practice" for the one I really wanted to do: Trek Women's Triathlon at Disney.

I have a few goals for the next triathlon:

  • Stay positive!!!! This includes before and after. If I cross the finish line dead last, I will SMILE. I will be proud. And I won't be mean to poor Mirza!!!
  • Have fun! To be honest, I did have fun at my last triathlon. If they ever post pictures of me on the bike, I had a smile the entire time. It was just before and after that were torture:)
  • No focusing on other people.
  • Try to swim with some sort of form...efficiency, people!
  • Use the 9:1 method for the run portion. 
  • Really push myself. I believe a lot of my last triathlon was more mind than anything. MIND OVER MATTER.
  • Goals are not rigid!
I would also like to do better than my overall time, but it isn't important. This triathlon is longer. The swimming distance is double (400 meter to now a 1/2 mile! 10 mile ride to 13 miles).

Here is a short video of me after the swim. Check out the giant that passes me at the last second. Ignore my flattering outfit;)

Today I continued with my training by running 3 miles in 35 minutes, and then swimming at my gym (400-600 meters). I feel great.

And here is a video of me crossing the finish line. I edited it to leave out the part of me cursing at the end, haha.

I'm still waiting on some official photos from the race, but I have a feeling there won't be any. They have a photo under my name and bib number, but it's some other woman?

Check back later for another post regarding my mindful eating plan, and inspiring (to me) events to come in my life!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My first sprint triathlon

Well, I did it. I completed a sprint triathlon. I may not have been number one or in the top anything, but I finished. I did not quit. Or drown.
And I suppose that's something to be proud about. Also, I might add, I have NEVER done any sort of race/competition before...never a 5k, bike, or any sports of any kind while growing up, so this was way out of my comfort zone.

Yesterday, we drove to Fort Desoto and I picked up my packet. All day, I was so nervous, like on the verge of barfing! I was mostly worried about the swimming portion. I did not do any open water swim practices, which I know is kind of stupid, but I just wanted to finish this triathlon and say I've done one. That, and I am super scared of the water, so it was hard to get me in without a huge group.

We arrived this morning bright and early. I woke up at 4:20, which was not difficult because that is the time I wake up for work. I probably got almost 7 hours of sleep. For breakfast, I had peanut butter toast and a banana, but could only eat about half of each.

It was pitch black and we kept getting eaten by mosquitos, so I was relieved when the sun finally came out.

I made my way to the water with Mirza and decided I should get in. Surprisingly, I wasn't freaking out.

Even though I peed before, I had to go sooooooo bad while waiting. I just wanted to get in the water to freakin' pee!!!

Finally, the horn went off and we went into the Gulf of Mexico. I was the 8th wave and only one wave after mine. I stayed to the far right and back, but didn't have much of a choice since I was so slow. Honestly, I was not that scared in the water like I thought I would be. I just focused on swimming and going slow. Also, I did not have any form whatsoever. I put my face in the water ONCE and it was so salty and disturbing, that I gave that up and did the breaststroke and a combination of freestyle and on my back  for the rest of the swim. I do not remember the Gulf being so salty!! haha. I made jokes with the people in kayaks, "ooh hello, how are you? just hangin' out, decided to go for a little swim this morning." The last wave came, but I managed to not get trampled. YAY!! It was only 400 meters, but it felt like foreverrrrrrr for the second orange buoy to show up. Once I was able to put my feet down, I was so relieved and happy. In fact, I almost thought I would cry because of relief, but I didn't.
Swim time: 14:07

The transitions to the bikes was NOT a short run. It was far. I was TIRED. I kept getting a tight feeling in my chest.

 It took me 6:12.

I made it to my bike and I couldn't get my damn shirt on, but eventually managed!!

The bike ride was 10 miles. I did not want to push it too hard because I just kept thinking about my first 5k directly after. I felt like I was the only person out there for a lot of the time, and tons of older men kept passing me, but I tried not to let it bother me. It even started to rain halfway through, but it only lasted a few minutes.
Towards the end of my ride as I drove into the transition area, some guy had fallen and smashed his face, and was in a C-collar with EMS and bleeding all over the place.
I didn't want that to be me, so I clipped out pretty quick.

Total bike time: 42:28

I knew I would not be able to run most of the 5k because I felt like garbage, but I threw on my running shoes, took off my helmet, and ran through the exit.

T2: 1:59

Okay, here's where I lost all steam. Like I said, this was my first 5k and the furthest I have ever run. Now, I usually probably average a 10-11:00 pace, but that's without the swimming and biking before-hand!!

I am being completely honest here. The "run" sucked. Listen, I want to be positive and enthusiastic about this, but all of my recap is the damn truth.

 Half of the time, I was running in packed sand or in a grass/sand that was lumpy. I was alone most of the time, and knew that I was one of the last people in the whole race. I would love to tell you that I didn't care, and wanted to just finish, but that would be a lie. No one wants to be freakin' last, but it looked like that was going to be my fate. I just wanted to finish to get it over with and cry!!

About a quarter mile from the finish, a woman who wasn't even racing, fell and probably broke her leg. She was screaming and crying, and I stopped (hey! I'm a nurse) to see if she was ok, and then I directed the people just standing there staring to go get some help. Then I "ran" and just before the finish line, some girl was trying to pass me, so we literally sprinted to the finish line. She beat me by a few inches or so, and then we high-fived.

Yes, my 5k took 46:25.

Listen, I had imagined crossing the finish line a million times. I thought that when I crossed, I would feel emotional, like a huge sense of accomplishment. But honestly? I didn't. In fact, I felt kind of disappointed because I knew that I was last. People say it shouldn't matter because you had the nerve to even compete, but LAST?! arrghhhh. Mirza was filming me, and he asked how I felt, and my first words were, "LIKE SHIT!!" I did. I felt like garbage lol. People kept talking to me and offering me food, and I thought I was going to collapse or vomit. I didn't.

I was second to last in my age group (25-29), but only because one person did not finish, so technically, I was last. And overall, I was 720 out of 730, not including the 6 people who did not finish.

My goal was to come in under 2 hours, and I did it in 1:51.

Immediately after, I felt bummed, but as time goes on, I don't care anymore. This was my first race ever, and I really did the best I could. At first, I said I never want to do this again, but that's just being a sore "loser."

And I have another race on September 5th. And I will finish again, even if it is dead last.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Today I am thankful and happy for....

It is Sunday, so I'm supposed to post what I'm thankful and happy for today, however, the format this week is going to be a bit different.

You see, I've been thinking...and feeling a bit overwhelmed. Bear with me because this post may be a bit melodramatic, but it must be done...

I'm almost embarrassed to admit it in some respects, but I feel as if my life has become obsessed with things that are outside of my self. What I mean is that I feel disconnected from real life because I spend too much time on blogs and social networking sites. If I am at home, I generally end up stuck in this terrible pattern of checking Facebook, Twitter, Blog, Email, Facebook, Twitter, Blog, Email, REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT...it is sick. It is to the point where I don't feel like I am living my life to the fullest because I'm too concerned with other bloggers, or sharing every little thing I am doing, thinking, eating; posting every single photo. Actually, I tried to sit down and make a list of activities that I could be doing instead, and could only list about five. FIVE? Have I lost all creativity for real life?

That's why last week, I moved the Facebook and Twitter icons to the end of my bookmark bar, and I signed out. And I turned off the television. And Mirza and I walked through a park, and took photos, and I did not feel the need to share these beautiful photos, and I am thankful for that. Before the days of social networking and blogs, people would do this and not have a second thought, but now? After not posting on Facebook for just a few days, one of my friends jokingly asked if I were still alive. Really.

I need to disconnect in order to reconnect.

For now, I still go on these websites and sign in to Facebook, Twitter, etc., but I look for less than 5 minutes, maybe commenting or replying to a few posts, and then  I actively sign out, and I am trying to limit this to just twice per day--in the morning and evening.

 Now, it would be ideal for me to just quit altogether and drop off the face of the earth, but I don't feel that is necessary or even beneficial because those sites do help me feel more connected to other people throughout the world, which is good, but only to a certain point. Sometimes, I read other blogs and then compare myself to others--the things they are doing in their lives, and the foods they are eating, and then I feel the need to change. Sometimes, this is good. They may give me motivation to train for a triathlon, or inspire me to try a new recipe. Those are the aspects I enjoy and will continue to pursue. But, other times I see people living their lives in a different way, flying across the country, seemingly "living life to the fullest," but I wonder if it is a facade, or feeling bad about myself because I lost some stupid Twitter "friends," or no one comments on a post. It is all terribly immature of me, but I'm only human.

I've been using this medium as a way to escape reality...and now my freakin' head hurts.

Simply put, I'm going to check back in to life. I am 25 years old, I NEED TO LIVE.

Definitely, I will continue to blog; I've held this blog for over 4 years, and a Livejournal for probably 8 years now, not to mention the piles and stacks of journals and diaries that I've kept since a young girl. Journaling is therapeutic and I love it, but my blog posts will be for me. Of course, I will censor certain aspects because this is public. I will continue to share photos and explain what I'm doing in life, only because and if it excites me, and makes me happy.

I need to stop yearning for what I do not have, and either accept what I do have, or set out to change it.

And that is what I am doing, and I am happy for that.

While I am still compiling it in my head to put "down on paper," I will have a post up soon (today? tomorrow?  a few days? I'm not sure) regarding some things I'll be doing over the next year that truly inspire and help me to fully embrace life. I'm pumped!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Today I am thankful and happy for....

(I did a post like this last Sunday, and enjoyed it so much that I may continue each Sunday)

...my wonderful boyfriend who made us stuffed mushrooms after work on Friday. He's so thoughtful

...the ability to move my body and do yoga with other awesome people

...sweet treats, like gelato (turtle cheesecake, hazelnut, and coconut, oh yes)

...taking initiative in my own life to be happy

...deciding on a plan for the future that includes something I truly want to do (stay tuned!)
...free books from the library
...having a few days off from work
...and something more materialistic: my new iphone:)

What are you thankful and happy for today?