Stroke.Stride.Pedal….Party? I don’t think so! My first Triathlon experience.

15 Oct

It’s so strange to be sitting here preparing to document my triathlon experience.  A Triathlon!  I have to say it over and over again for the reality to sink in that I actually finished a T R I A T H L O N.  Wow!  I almost feel like I’m talking about someone else.  How did I go from being a non-exerciser to the starting line of a triathlon?  It all started with what seemed at the time to be an insignificant decision to make a small change in my daily routine.  That “small change” started a chain reaction that has transformed my mind, my body and my life for the better forever.

On an ordinary day two years ago, my husband, Joe, asked me if I wanted to do P90X with him.  I can remember seeing infomercials about this program and thinking it was only for the elite (e.g. Navy Seals, people in the armed forces, body builders, etc. [already "in-shape" people])  Not a middle-aged, out of shape mom that couldn’t possibly keep up with this program.  It was too late for me to experience truly noticeable results.  I mean, I was already 40!  Wow, was I wrong!  In spite of my preconceived notions I said “yes” and he popped in the Plyo dvd.  I couldn’t move for the next 3 days.  It was AWESOME and I was hooked.

Now I’m not saying that I didn’t struggle with the old tapes in my head telling me that it was too hard or I’ve done enough.  I did for sure!  When I hit week 7 of the program I hit my “wall.”  It was tough to fight through, but I did….one day at a time.  I had to reprogram my mind to not look at the “big picture” because it was too overwhelming.  Instead, I chose to focus on 1 hour a day.  I could do that!

After conquering P90X…. twice, I started trying new things (or things I hadn’t done since I was a kid) like bike riding (my daughter’s bike actually….thanks for sharing Sissy) and running.  I’m still working on loving that part.  I even had the crazy idea to start training for the Louisville Iron Man Triathlon in 2012.  Talk about being a big dreamer…. or crazy!  Thankfully, I shared this fabulous idea with my sister.  She talked me back a bit and suggested that I enter a smaller triathlon first to get my feet wet…. the Little Miami Triathlon.  So, that’s how I went from a slow idle to Mach 10 in  24(ish) months.

Before putting my fingers to the keyboard to start this blog post, I re-read my last post and noticed that I ended it by saying I would blog about my triathlon experience and provide pictures.  I will be blogging about my experience, but, unfortunately, I did not take any pictures.  “Why would you not want to document such an amazing day?,” you might be asking.  Well, to be honest, I would probably have taken my camera and thrown it if someone asked me to take a picture because I felt so awful when it was over.  My advice, if you want pictures to remember the experience, have a friend come along to take them.

The morning of the Tri began at 6:30AM October 2nd.  My 20th wedding anniversary, by the way.  Happy Anniversary, babe!  To say the weather was unseasonably cold would be putting it mildly!  When we got up that morning it was in the 30’s with a high for the day of just in the 50’s!  On the upside,  having cooler weather is better than hot weather for a marathon, but our first event was getting into a cold river….at 8:30 in the morning….in flip-flops (I’ll tell you about this genius decision in a minute).  I gotta chill just now thinking about it.  Anyway….Kim and I got up, got dressed and  headed out to kill ourselves, I mean we headed out to the triathlon.

What does one wear on a day that’s “colder than a witches you know what“:   running pants to the knee (should have been long ones), tank top, fleece lined long-sleeved shirt, my husband’s golf rain pullover (best thing I brought), gloves, hat, socks aaaand flip-flops.  Yes, I wore flipflops.  When you kayak, it isn’t if  you get wet from your waist down to your feet, it’s when and how wet you’ll get.  Not to mention, the last thing you want when you transition from kayaking to running is carrying shoes.  I picked old flip-flops that I could just throw away.  Good tip, by the way, if you ever decide to enter a triathlon with kayaking.

Our launch time was announced, which was 8:36 and we headed to the water.  We got into our kayaks…my heart was pounding.  Taking a line from the movie Bridesmaids, “This is really happening!” (love that movie)

All the kayakers in our group (about 12) lined up and waited for the countdown and whistle to “GO” and off we went.  We kicked ass!  Six miles in 1 hour.  Not too bad for someone that’s been in a kayak only twice.  And, the first time was with a broken arm.

“Stroke” leg of the Tri-check

I literally crawled out of the kayak and staggered to a place to sit down to change into my running shoes.  I felt pretty good considering my ass was numb from sitting in 50 degree water that pooled in my seat.  Once Kim and Heather (a friend of my sisters) came in, we were ready to head into the “Stride” part of the race.

We started out in a brisk walk for about 50ft….you know, to get warmed up.  All was good.  However, once we started to jog it became obvious that my legs were not legs at all.  They were frozen tree trunks.  I’ve never felt such a lack of control over my body.  It didn’t want to do what I needed it to.  Weird feeling.

The good news is that the feeling in my legs returned fairly quickly.  Now if you remember in my last blog post, my biggest concern was running the whole time and not having to walk too much.  Running is definitely my weakest area.  I surprised myself by running almost the entire 5.5 miles.  This was HUGE for me.  I’m sure adrenalin played a huge part in this accomplishment, but I’ll take it!!!

God is so good.  I prayed throughout the whole Tri, but more so during the running.  I was in such a place of desperation and God comforted me.  He kept me going…..along with determination and pride.

It might surprise you to know that the most difficult part of the entire Tri for me was the last part of the run….up a steep hill in the woods to get to where the bikes were kept (never saw anyone running, by the way…everyone walked this part for sure).  I’m not completely positive of the distance up the hill.  It felt like maybe 1/4 mile.  It was so steep! 

At this teeny tiny part (in comparison) I have never felt such fatigue.  My sister, who has done this Tri once before tried to tell me how hard this was, but you just don’t know until you do it.  This was the one and only time that I wasn’t sure if I could keep going.  Would I be able to make it all the way up?  Just thinking about it now 2 weeks later still causes a physical reaction in me.

The spectators rooting us on made all the difference, especially on that hill.  It really did help keep me going.  I made it to the top.  Relief!!  I still can’t believe my legs actually worked after that.

“Stride” leg of the Tri-check

My thoughts at this point were “Wow, I can’t believe I’ve made it this far!  All of my goals have been exceeded…. so far.  I think I’m actually going to finish this thing.”

Okay, the last and final leg of the triathlon…the biking.  I really wasn’t too nervous about this part.  I was so fixated on getting through the run that I didn’t give the biking much thought.  Hmm.  I can just hear all of you experienced marathoners laughing right now…Kim.  :)

After my “hell up the hill,” I had worked up quite a sweat and made the mistake of taking off my long-sleeved shirt.  I didn’t take into consideration that when biking you have wind blowing at you….constantly.  And it was cold wind, let me tell you!  I should have gotten a hint at what I was in for when a fellow Tri dude rode by me and said “you have got to be freezing!”  NAHHH!  Not me.  I’m g-g-good! :D

During this leg my praying was at an all time high.  Now I know that God loves to hear from us anytime, anywhere!  However, I couldn’t help but wonder if He was thinking “Would ya shut it!” every now and then.

The biking was really tough because it was the last leg and it was 18 miles.  The longest I’ve ever biked at one time.  When we saw signs for 5 miles remaining, I couldn’t get to the finish fast enough.  It felt like each mile was more like 2.  Ugh!  It was a killer at the end.  I have never been so happy to be done!  My butt was killing me, no lie, and I even had a padded seat cover.  How do Iron Man athletes ride 112 miles.  I just don’t get it.

“Pedal” leg of Tri-check

I finished in 3 hours and 43 minutes.  Not only am I pleasantly surprised  with my time, I’m also thrilled that I never had to stop or worse…quit.  It was a pretty cool experience to be on the other side receiving support from observers.  Now I know how the athletes feel.  I know my overall success and experience wouldn’t have been as amazing without it.

I have never in my life felt such fatigue and strain on my body….EVER.  With that being said, I am so glad I did it.  Will I ever do another triathlon?  The day after, my answer would have been a confident NEVA.  Today, however, I’m certain I will.  I would describe the experience like this (from a mother’s perspective)…. you know how immediately after giving birth you swear you’ll never go through that again because it hurt like hell?  Well, doing a triathlon is just like that.  However, we all know that given enough time to forget the pain we find ourselves anticipating the next one.

I gotta give props to Morgan’s (the organizer of this event).  They ran a well oiled machine with this triathlon.  I shouldn’t be surprised since they’ve been doing it since 1979, but it was a first for me and they left a great impression.

My final words…. if you ever decide to enter a triathlon or marathon be sure to end your day in a hot tub.  Best 30 minutes of my life!  :D

OUCH! That sort of didn’t hurt.

22 Sep

To say a lot has happened since my last post would be the understatement of the century.  At least as far as I’m concerned.  One month ago, almost to the day, I decided to enter the Little Miami Triathlon in OH with my sister, Kim.  We planned out and began our training regimen with determination and focus. 

With great detail, my sister who is a personal trainer, mapped out how, when, and what I would do each day leading up to the tri to get physically ready.  Whew!!!

This particular tri consists of a 6 mile kayak; 5.5 mile run and an 18 mile bike ride.  The only part that worries me is the running part.  Running and me have never been friends.  In fact, up until recently, we’ve hated each other.  I wouldn’t consider running to the mailbox to retrieve a check let alone running any type of marathon (not even a “mini” one).  Let me put it this way, if being chased by a crazed lunatic with a butcher knife, I would probably find a way to argue my way out of being carved up like a Thanksgiving turkey than to run for my life.  :P

Everything was moving along smoothly.  I was making surprising progress with the running part, which was pretty, well……surprising.  My goal is to run the whole thing without stopping.  Might be reaching a bit with this one considering my lack of endurance, but what can I say, I’m a BIG goal setter.  What the heck!  What have I got to lose? 

That all changed Saturday, September 10th.  Talk about having the rug pulled out from under me.  Something happened that I never in a million years saw coming, which is usually how it goes.  My sister and I planned a “training day” up in her neck of the woods.  Since I had never been kayaking before, we thought it was important that I not wait for the tri to find out what it’s like.  So…..we planned to kayak 6 miles after biking.  I was also going to try out a bike that I would be using for the tri.  Couldn’t use Melissa’s mountain bike for race day.  That would be like biking 28 miles instead of the 18.  Definitely had to go the “road” bike route.

So there we were at the kayak place where there is also a bike path.  It was Kim, me, and 3 of Kim’s friends.  I should have had an idea that things wouldn’t end well when I noticed that the pedals on this particular bike had straps.  I had never used foot straps before, but…..no time like the present to try them out, right?

Everything was going along just fine.  One mile, two miles, three, four, five, six… oh wait a minute, let’s go back to mile 5.  We realized that it was time to head back to the kayak place to make our start time.  We approached our turn around spot, or at least I tried to, when it happened. 

I was going about 1mph (okay, I was practically stopped).  I took my right foot out of the foot strap thingy like I had been practicing all along when the bike (yes, this is all the bike’s fault) decided to tilt to the left.  Well, guess where my left foot was….in the DANG foot strap thingy.  All I can say is my mental and physical selves were all twisted together.  Nothing was gettin through that mess in that moment and down I went.

As I’m plunging toward the pavement I try desperately to free my foot…. with no success.  The only thing I managed to do was twist my foot even tighter in the foot strap thingy.  The visual that comes to mind for me is watching a toddler try to take off a pair of pants.  You know how instead of pulling the pants free from their feet they yank their knee way up into the air while their foot is still stuck in the pants (are you picturing this)?  Okay, that was me yanking wildly to free my foot as I’m going down.  Preedy!

Okay, back to my plunge.  The first thing to hit the ground was my left knee; then the palm of my left hand; then I rolled to my back and I banged my head.  Now, you’d think that at a time like this I would be screaming “OUCH!  THAT FREAKIN HURT!” or “HELP”  Nope!  Being a girl and a prideful one at that, I was more concerned if anyone saw my “graceful” fall.  I even layed there and laughed when I really wanted to cry.  I mean crap, if I’m going to fall couldn’t it have been this impressive “ass over elbows” tumble that looked like I narrowly escaped with my life?  NO!!  Mine was literally a tip-over

My poor sister saw the whole thing and came running over, “Oh my gosh!  Are you okay?”  At this point I’m still impatiently trying to free my foot.  I’m laying there with the bike on top of me, my foot is still stuck in the foot strap thingy and I’m trying to break free.  Only now my leg is bent and my “stuck” foot is jammed up “you know where.”  Talk about feeling helpless and in a vulnerable position!  Some dude came by on his bike just then and asked if I was alright……”yes, thank you.”  UGH!!!  I’m just grateful he wasn’t going by right when I fell just to run over me.  

Okay, so now I’m free and up on my feet when I feel a funny feeling at my elbow on my left arm.  I look at it and notice a purplish swollen spot forming…small, but there.  It didn’t hurt nearly as bad as my knee (or pride) so I just chocked it up to be nothing.

We get on our bikes and off we went to get on the water.  Other than a few whispered “ouches” and rubbing my arm every now and then, I really didn’t think too much about it…..hmmm. 

A funny sidebar story….on the bike path we passed a cute little bar tucked out-of-the-way.  Some patrons were sitting out on the deck enjoying a cold one and a tightly rolled one.  As we pass the “joint” we noticed a familiar smell in the air (ssssnniiiffffffff).  Yup, it was weed.  That distinguishable smell that is like no other smell that we have all smelled before. :D

Of course, as we pass by enjoying the scenic beauty of the area, we take in a few deep breaths.  Oh, like you wouldn’t!!!  It amazes me how the “smell” of something can stop you dead in your tracks and take you back to a specific memory…such as, the smell of our first boyfriend’s cologne (Polo), just out of the oven chocolate chip cookies, and…..smokin I mean “sniffing” weed. 

Okay, back once again to my story, kayaking was super fun.  I loved it!  My arm hardly crossed my mind.  We finished and loaded up and headed out to get a bite to eat.  Maybe it was because my physical activity stopped, but after our burger and nachos, I became “painfully” aware that something was definitely wrong.  I could barely lift or bend my arm.

In conclusion, I got home, went to the hospital, found out my arm was fractured, thought there was no way for me to do the tri, dropped out of the tri only to say “Screw It!  I’m doin it anyway”, one week later :D

I mean really, what does any girl do after she’s unknowingly broken her arm?  She kayaks 6 miles, of course!  HaHa

I have to thank my awesome family for taking such great care of me.  I felt so loved and cared for.  You guys are the best!  Joe, thank you for taking care of everything I could possibly need xoxoxo.  Chris, thank you for insisting to take me to the hospital yourself because dad wasn’t home yet and requesting prayers through fb; Sarah, Melissa and Ryan, thank you for wanting to do whatever you could to help me get around.

Doing stuff with one hand is a lot harder than I thought it would be.  My biggest obstacle was trying to reach for the toilet paper.  Who woulda thought? :P

Next post……my experience at the triathlon…with pictures!!

Every new adventure starts with a first step.

17 Aug

Hello friends and family.  I would like to welcome you to the “ArvidsonFamily”  blog.  I thought this would be a great way to keep all of you up-to-date on what is happening with our very active family.  I will post pictures and video when I learn how :D   I am hoping this will be a source of joy for all of you that live near and far.

What a year this has been for our family.  The biggest change is that we made the move of a lifetime from New Hampshire to Kentucky.  Can I get a “HEY Y’ALL!”

I always thought moving to a new place was exciting, and it was, when it was just me and Joe.  This time our kids were much older and very aware of what they were losing.  They had to leave their friends and everything they knew.  That’s a huge deal for any kid (and grown up for that matter).

Talk about culture shock!  We came from a place of what my oldest daughter, Melissa, would call “normal” to a place where you see guys wearing Stetsons and cowboy boots, and ‘oldtimers’ wearing denim bib overalls with no shirts.  As you can guess, our jaws dropped, we stared and we laughed a lot.  Bonding comes in many forms. :D  To hear my kids laugh made laughing at others worth it…hahaha! 

I’m so proud of how they handled everything.  There were many tears and the occassional threat to run away back to NH.  All of our comforts were there….our friends, which were (and still are) like family and then there’s familiarity.  So much is packed into that 11 letter word;  the familiarity of community, church, activities, schools, the list can go on and on.

Here’s the thing, the expression “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” has greater meaning for me.  I know that last sentence makes it sound like everything “good” in our lives was left in NH, but that’s not it.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that it was much harder to adjust than any of us realized it would. 

God allows us to face obstacles in order to teach us that, with Him, we can get through it.  We are better for it, for sure!  

I can honestly say that our family is in a much better place today than we were a year ago.   It just took a lot of “steps” to get here.

Look for more postings on what our clan is up to.  In the mean time, I welcome your thoughts on our first blog post.  xoxo

Hello world!

17 Aug

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