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I slept well last night!! Wooohoo!!! I think I am almost back to a regular schedule, thank goodness. I didn’t wake up at 3 a.m. twiddling my thumbs and was out until at least 6:30 a.m. Happy dance!
Even though it is only spring, summer is very much in the air. There are so many things to do outside and festivals are popping up everywhere you turn. I’ve also noticed some traveling fairs taking up station around town and I’ve been dying to attend one. Ferris wheels have especially become an obsession of mine. When I was a child, even as a teenager and young adult, I was absolutely terrified of them. Just looking at one made me break out in a cold sweat. I have a memory of when I was about 9 or 10 and I was talked into riding a kiddie version at the state fair…I screamed so loud that they had to stop it to let me off. And it was only like 20 feet high. There was something about dangling in the air by a wire that really freaked me out. I have another terrible/funny memory of riding the sky buckets at Six Flags over Georgia as a teenager with a boy who thought it’d be funny to rock it back and forth. I am pretty sure I broke out into hysterics and had a major panic attack. But something has happened over the last year or two – I’m not afraid of ferris wheels anymore. Well, at least not too afraid to ride one. In fact I did my first ever solo ferris wheel ride last year at Bonnaroo and it has turned into one of my favorite life moments. I remember standing in line waiting for my turn thinking – I can do this, I can do this. I hopped on and rode it all the way up… and didn’t breathe for one second. When I reached the top I could see the extent of Bonnaroo in almost every direction, tents as far as the eye could see. The sun was setting as Mumford and Sons played in the distance. I did capture one of my rotations on video, which you can watch here. Such a perfect moment. I can’t wait to be at Bonnaroo again this year!
There aren’t too many things that scare me like that anymore, which made me want to write a list of the things that I’m still petrified of doing. Sky diving makes that list, as well as deep sea diving. I was careful to not include things that would also make me sad…just things that would scare the living daylights out of me. Adrenaline is an awesome thing. There is nothing like catching a natural high from taking a risk. Races give me that feeling as well, especially concurring a distance that I’ve never done before, or beating an old best time. Doing a full Ironman actually scares the living daylights out of me, which is why I’m hell-bent on doing one one day. It is hard to wrap your brain around doing such crazy distances for long periods of time. It is a test of physical and mental strength on every level. Just thinking about it makes me excited. This is not the year for that though, but I have a feeling in the next two to three years I will be giving it a shot. 2012 feels more like a year for relaxation for me….which I have no complaints about.
Sooooooooo, I lied. There is one condition in which I will participate in a long distance triathlon this year. Can you guess what that is? Well, at the end of last year I once again decided to enter the Ironman World Championship Lottery for the race in Kona, Hawaii on October 13, 2012… and this time around I got the maximum of two entries. And not only that, since I also entered the year before (and didn’t get in) my chances are higher this time around. There is still only a teeny tiny chance that I will actually win a slot, but if I do, there is no chance in hell that I am turning it down. What does that mean for me? That means that I have to complete a 70.3 (Half Ironman) by August 31st. After looking at the ones available, if I am chosen, then I will probably do the 70.3 in Boulder, Colorado on August 5th. This is totally a long shot plan, but one I should have just in case. They will announce the winners on April 15th… just a little over two weeks away. It just dawned on me last night that it was getting close. The reason why this race is so significant is because it is THE world championships for the Ironman event series, and otherwise you have to qualify to be able to participate (ha!). My chances of that ever happening are pretty slim to none… much less than getting in via the lottery. So if I get in, you bet your butt I will be stalking Chrissie Wellington come October!!! If I ever get the chance to meet her I might seriously die of happiness. If I don’t get in the race again this year, I will keep trying until I do. There is also the very real possibility that I may not be able to race the end because of my knee injury, but I’ve been assured that if I practice my stability exercises diligently and listen to my body, then there is no reason why I can complete those longer distances.
On an odd note…somehow, someway it looks like I’ve been randomly registered for the Xterra World Championship Sprint Tri at Oak Mountain on May 20th here in Birmingham… which makes me very bewildered. I don’t even have a mountain bike or trail shoes! I’ve emailed the event director to figure out exactly how I got put on the participant list. A friend of mine alerted me to it last night after someone she knew registered as well (thanks Laura!). If it is a sprint distance I can probably do it, however, but that still leaves me with the equipment problems. I’ve never been mountain biking in my life, and I definitely can’t afford to go out and buy one this very second. I wonder if you can rent a mountain bike? Or if someone in town who is 5’9″-5’10″ or so would let me borrow theirs? If not, I will probably withdraw from that event. So strange!! Maybe it’s just another Jennifer West who lives in Alabama. Update: It is in fact another Jennifer West from Alabama…small world!
Sorry for all of the sports talk in the last few days. I really do have many other things going on right now worth talking about, some of which I still can’t speak of. This weekend I am going salsa dancing (eeeek!!!)… so say a little prayer for me. I’ve never done it before, so I’m a little terrified. I love to dance, but in a sling-your-arms-around-in-any-random-direction sort of way…so this will be very new for me. Photos or it didn’t happen! See you guys on Monday.
I can’t believe I am on DAY 7 of the Zen Jen quest…which means that I haven’t stepped on a scale in almost a week. It had become such a part of my daily routine (multiple times a day) that I find myself going to stand on it without even thinking, only to find that it isn’t there anymore. I’ve also started realizing that I was letting it dictate almost every part of my life – from what I wore, to how I felt about myself that day. Now that I’m free of that weight (literally and figuratively) I feel more inclined to feel good about my body as-is. I’m still trying to get into great shape through exercise and eating better in general, but now I’m able to enjoy my efforts without second guessing or over analyzing everything. I am feeling really good!!!
So I finally downloaded a running app for my iPhone – I chose Run Keeper b/c I have been following my brother’s progress on it via Instagram (@godsavetheham) for the past few weeks. It tracks your distance, time, and calories by GPS all while giving you audio alerts at predetermined time points to let you know if you are on track. Just for the hell of it, I set my time goal as 10 minutes per mile… b/c I know that I am still working on my speed. I was surprised to see that I ended up averaging 9:47 miles for a short 3 mile run. That was pretty decent in my book, but the audio alerts definitely kept me on track…especially on the hills. I am in love with the app, and plan to start using it for the majority of my runs. I’d like to get back down to a 9/9:30 mile for my longer runs while still feeling comfortable. At my fastest in the past I’ve been able to knock out an 8 minute or so mile average for road races over 6 miles. I don’t ever expect to get much faster than that, but it would be nice to be in that kind of shape again.
My future brother-in-law David K (in a matter of 30 days…) is really wanting me to get back into triathlon. I do feel the tug at my heart strings as it’s a sport that I can get so excited about. He is in great form and ready to go, like yesterday. When I really listen to my instincts about it, my gut tells me to just enjoy exercise for a little while… and maybe participate in some shorter distance races this year (both running and triathlon). But as far as the Half Ironman or Ironman go, I’m thinking that will probably be on my book for 2013. It just takes so much focus and dedication to concur distances that long, and I want to put that energy into other things this year. I also want to relax a bit in general. Speaking of 2012, we are almost a fourth of the way through it. Are you making headway on your dreams and goals for the year? I think I am well on my way…
It’s not set in stone, but I think I’ve made a big decision – I’m not going to attempt a Half Ironman this year. Why? For two reasons. Number one, my knee is giving me a little bit of a problem. It just gets sore when I try to do more than a certain amount of exercise. The two PT’s in my family say that my injury is definitely manageable if I ever want to attempt that distance again, but I will have to supplement with stabilization exercises and ice every time I do anything significant on it. Honestly, I need to feel some significant passion to complete a Half again… and I’m borderline there. That’s just not good enough to stay injury-free. The second reason why is because I want to enjoy exercise this year. While I love a big goal and I love to train, I want to use that time for other things… like writing and being with other people. Here’s the thing – I’m never going to be the best triathlete. It is something I really love, but when it boils down to it it’s just a hobby. I have a real opportunity this year to do something significant with my writing, so I am choosing to put that effort in that direction. This doesn’t mean that I’m going to give up sports, far from it. I have no problem completing shorter distances and plan to still participate in local short distance triathlons and running races. After saying all of this… watch this be the year that I actually win a slot in the Kona Ironman World Championship Lottery. That would suuuuuuuuck. But it doesn’t matter in the end, this year is for other goals. I can always train up again next year for the Half, and maybe even a full Ironman. And by then my knee might be even better.
Speaking of writing, I am on course for my end of January goal. I’ve tracked down an agent in New York City who is going to look over my outline and first chapter, and give me feedback based on what I’ve got so far. That’s exciting! The more I talk to people about my concept, the more ideas I get. I’m still a little shy about the fact that I’m doing another romantic comedy, but honestly I kind of dig the direction it’s going in. Last night while writing in a local coffee shop, I randomly sat next to a table of writers who were also working on book projects. I picked their brains a little about the process, as some of them had almost complete manuscripts and were in the last phases of completion. In a time where almost anyone can write a book and get it published (whether on your own or through a publisher), it kind of lights my fire a little to know that I can be competitive. Sometimes you can just feel things in your bones… and this is one of them. I kind of know that I am going to knock this one out of the park. Not that it is going to be easy, but I’ve got what it takes.
Yesterday I did something that I haven’t done in a while… I cooked. And it felt really good. The kitchen in my mini home isn’t ideal, but it’s still functional I guess. I really believe in spaces having certain kinds of energy, and before yesterday being downstairs in general wasn’t my favorite thing to do. Since it has been getting chilly outside, I thought making some stew would be the best thing to experiment with. That way I could also eat off of it for the next few days to save a little extra money. I am a pretty instinctual chef (and I use the word chef loosely), as I never measure anything or follow a specific recipe. I decided to go with a meatless stew, so it would keep even longer in my refrigerator. Here is the laundry list of ingredients that I threw in a pot together: water, canned crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, garlic, red onions, chicken bouillon cubes, pinto beans, potatoes, frozen mix of veggies (squash, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots), Brussels sprouts, baby portabellas, and finally some quinoa for texture. It turned out delicious, and warmed my soul. As it was cooking on the stove, the smells started to fill my house and it made me happy. I turned on every light that I had downstairs which made it feel more alive. Since there aren’t as many windows down there, it is much darker in general. I think if I start spending more time cooking and keeping it well-lit then I might start to enjoy it more.
I am starting to feel the Halloween pressure to find a good costume. I absolutely have to get a plan together this week before it’s too late! There are soooooo many fun parties this year that I might die of excitement. My costume debut always happens at The Rocky Horror Picture Show screening at the Alabama Theatre, which usually falls on the Friday of Halloween weekend. We get there early and watch the two costume contests (last year several of us were actually in it) and dance to DJ Stevo, then stay for about half of the movie before heading on to the next party. One of my favorite ones from last year was at the Avondale Castle which included a full on costume themed drag show. Soooo much fun. Saturday night is the annual Peaches and Scream in the arts district on 2nd Avenue North, plus my friend Phillip’s big party just a block away on 1st. I still haven’t made it out to the haunted houses, so next weekend that is a must. While Sloss Fright Furnace may not be that scary… it is super fun and a tradition that I don’t want to stop.
Last night while watching football with a group of people, I started to miss participating in sports. I especially miss the adrenaline rush you get before and after a race, the sense of accomplishment of achieving something really hard to do. With that being said though, I have lost a little bit of interest in the training needed to complete those things successfully. I think hurting my knee earlier in the year really did a number on my confidence. I was so heart-broken when I didn’t finish the marathon, and then on top of that having my Half Ironman compromised in a big way. I realized that I am not unbreakable, that our bodies are indeed fragile. That scares me for some reason. That pain of disappointment was the utter worst. But you know, maybe it just means that when I am able to do those things with success, especially the marathon, it’s going to be that much more special. I have been keeping my running up lately with relative ease. Maybe today I will go for my first long run and see what happens. This is the exact time I would need to start training for the Mercedes Marathon anyway, and I think I’m going to give it a go… but this time around I am going to keep my expectations in check and not push myself as hard.
I love to know what people plan for themselves after their own deaths. It is a morbid subject, I know, but I think it’s a very revealing one. What could be more intimate than deciding what to do with your own body after you die? It’s actually pretty amazing to me the number of people who don’t have anything planned at all. It’s an inevitable thing – we are all going to die. Personally, I think it saves loved ones a great deal of pain and trouble if you at least tell someone your wishes… no matter how small. Of course I am one of the few people on the planet who enjoy a good death plan conversation, so the other day I asked a good friend what she would do when it happens to her. Little did I know that I was going to get one of my most interesting answers to date – she has already pre-registered her body to go to the body farm in Tennessee, a forensic anthropology research facility. She is an atheist (I seem to attract them) and avid recycler, so she wants to recycle her body back to the earth once she passes away. Even for me, that is a pretty big statement showing her detachment to her body after she dies. A lot of people donate their bodies to science, but the families usually get them back after a certain amount of time for cremation or burial. Her body will stay at the body farm indefinitely. I feel like that is a pretty selfless and brave act, one that displays her confidence in her own belief system. I think a lot of people like to pretend to be confident, but most people are pretty scared of what happens when we do finally leave this existence. I’ve written about my own death plan here, but I like to think that I could change it at any point if I change my mind. Right now though, I’m still pretty happy with it. If you have something that you’d like to happen when it’s your turn to go, I hope you communicate it with someone you trust. It’s always good to have an exit strategy.
One last thought before I go for today – have you ever thought about how your magazine subscriptions paint a picture of your life? Yesterday I got an email saying that my Triathlete subscription was about to expire… and I almost thought to myself, do I really need this anymore? That would have been crazy talk this time last year. I have gotten that magazine in the mail for almost 6 years now, and this is the first time I’ve ever even considered not renewing. I guess we just constantly change with time and evolve on. It’s not that I’m not interested in triathlons anymore, because that couldn’t be farther from the truth, but I do feel like I am not as obsessed. See, I am discovering some balance!
Outside of all our office doors at work we have something called a “frame of mind,” which is basically a 10×8 black frame that we put pictures/images in to describe how we are feeling or to show something that’s on our mind. Every now and then we get a group assignment that we all have to participate in, then we discuss our images in the weekly staff meeting. It sounds like something straight from “The Office,” but it’s actually pretty fun. Yesterday we had an assignment to put someone who we didn’t know into our frames who inspires us. It was really hard not to put Lance Armstrong in mine, because I ALWAYS do that, so instead I chose someone very similar – Chrissie Wellington. I thought a female was more appropriate, especially one that I admire so much (even though she has yet to confirm my friend request on Facebook… ha!!). Chrisse was the Hawaii Ironman Championship female winner in 2008 and 2009. She was an underdog that came out of nowhere to blow all her competition away (and a lot of the professional men as well). She laughs a lot, is always smiling and works really hard. I love her so much. Looking at her makes me feel good.
While writing this post, I learned that we reached our fundraising goal for CRUSH!! I did a happy dance with my coworker Misty since she was in here when I found out. HOORAY!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tomorrow I will write about our production schedule and the process of making this specific short film. It’s going to be fun…
Best news ever: I just found out this morning that my sister Christy got in the Augusta Half Ironman on September 24! This is her first year to do triathlon, and so far she’s knocked out a sprint and olympic distance over the summer. Augusta actually sold out a few days ago, and when she decided that she wanted to give it a try it appeared to be too late. I haven’t heard all of the details yet, but I know between her writing the race managers and her super friend/coach Joanne, somehow she got in as of this morning. I am so happy I could do a dance all by myself!
Christy and her husband Mike are also interested in having another baby, so I wonder if I will ever get to do a race with her. My next triathlon will be the New Orleans Half Ironman in April, which I’m already getting really excited about. I am also going to go for the Mercedes Marathon again in February, hoping that this time around my knee holds out. I have a strange confidence that it will, and that I will be able to cross the finish line with flying colors this year. I know what I did wrong last time so I will not be repeating past mistakes.
I’ve said it before a thousand times, but there is something amazing that happens when you push yourself to the limits… in any area of life. Reaching your full potential is a high like no other. It’s not about being faster or better than anyone else, it’s about competing with yourself. It’s getting better and better every time you do something. And if you don’t, you fix the problem and jump back on the horse. I’ve consistently become a better athlete over the past 5 years of my life despite a few set backs. I can only imagine what I can accomplish in the next 5 years if I really try.
A really fun fantasy popped in my head while writing this post today – wouldn’t it be amazing to cross the finish line with someone you love in a full Ironman distance (a distance I have yet to attempt). Maybe my sister will be that person. That makes me smile. :)
It was so warm & muggy on my run this morning with Vero that I mistakenly thought raindrops were falling from the sky onto my forearms, but instead it was sweat from my face. Until today I haven’t been on a run with Vero since before her & Brandi’s two-week trip to Europe, and tomorrow all three of us will finally be back together again (along with Nathan, our token male).
I’ve given my road bike to my sister for 2 weeks so she can get used to clipping in and out of the pedals before she buys her own. If you’ve never “clipped in” before, it just means that you wear specialized bike shoes that attach to the pedals so you use your muscles more efficiently. It takes some getting used to, b/c that also means that you have to “clip out” relatively fast… especially if you are falling over. Once you get the hang of it though, you’ll never go back.
While my sister has my bike, I am going to focus more on my running, swimming and cardiovascular endurance. I’ll probably go to a few spin classes each week too to keep my legs fresh. After my sister’s triathlon on July 29, I’ll get my bike back and start riding on the road again in preparation for the Augusta Half Ironman in late September.
I got the key to my new place this morning! This weekend my goal is to paint the walls & fix up the upstairs bathroom. Early next week I’ll get the carpets cleaned & lay down the linoleum in the kitchen, then next weekend I’ll start moving some things over. It’s all happening so fast!
No update on our missing kitty, Sammy Jo. Mike and I had four cats together – Sammy Jo, Baby Kitty, Kitten, and Captain Kitty. Captain Kitty came with our house and is in very poor health, so she probably won’t make it to the move. Mike was going to take Sammy Jo (because she adores him), and I was going to take Baby Kitty & Kitten since they are the dynamic duo. I have a very strong feeling that Sammy Jo is going to come back in the next few days, but if she doesn’t, then we may need to think about our cat custody again. Splitting up the “babies” has been one of the hardest things to figure out for us since we both love each one so much.
My sister Christy completed her very first sprint triathlon this morning!! Words can’t describe how proud I am of her for taking it on and finishing with success. She did it with almost no training (minus the fact that she is a runner) and just dove straight in. Like my first tri, she even used a mountain bike on a very hilly course… which is so much more challenging than a regular road bike! It’s hard to describe unless you’ve tried it, but she was a trooper for going out there and keeping a smile on her face. Her least favorite part was the swim, which is also my hardest sport of the three. I can’t wait to talk more about it with her as you instantly share a deep bond with fellow triathletes. She said that it was the hardest race she’s ever done, but it also gave her the most gratification when finished. I couldn’t agree more!!! It is such a rewarding experience… and most importantly, fun.
I’m looking forward to a lazy Sunday – and for me that means brunch, nap, gym and a few movies at home later on. :) It’s been a good weekend, friends.