Monthly Archives: February 2010

Swim. Bike. Run. Aspire.

Two years ago my friend told me I should try doing a sprint triathlon with her. Now I am not much of an athlete and at the time I was working two jobs and rarely had time to go to the gym, but for some reason I agreed to do the triathlon.

I thought it sounded impossible to swim half a mile, bike 15 miles, and then finish with a 3 mile run when I had never done those events back-to-back before. I knew that swimming would be the hardest for me because I didn’t want to drown or give-up in the middle of the lake, so I trained extra hard for that area of the race. About 4 times a week I would go swimming at the gym. I started off easy at first, then made it a goal to swim 900 meters at minimum (which is the equivalent to the half a mile that was required). I noticed that the more I practiced, the easier it was to swim over 900 meters. This scenario usually makes sense for any aspect of life; the more practice is put into something, the “easier” it should get.

Well, I trained and I trained and I trained for my sprint triathlon. I know I didn’t train as well as those who dedicate all of their free time to triathlon trainings, but I was feeling pretty confident. The day of the race I woke up with my friend and we walked our things down to the lake at the starting points. I was so anxious that I couldn’t stop chatting and I almost felt like I was going to pass out from all the nerves. I had to calm myself down and tell myself that it wasn’t about what place I finished, but whether I finished at all. It was from that moment on that I was more concerned with not letting myself give-up than who was passing me.

In this sprint triathlon the men start five minutes before the women, which certainly didn’t help my nerves! When the announcer shouted “go” for the women, I ran into the water as far as I could then dove right into my swim. All I could think was, “don’t stop, don’t get tired. Pace yourself Jenna.” I swam freestyle as far as I could, then I alternated between that and the breaststroke (someone described this as kind of looking like a frog) for the duration of the swim.

As soon as I hit the shore I felt exhausted, but my adrenaline kept pumping away and I ran up the hill towards my bike. I got all of my gear on and started pedaling. Not far into my biking, I realized that I hadn’t spent enough time training properly on endurance and I had to keep myself focused. I was biking at a nice steady pace and I managed to keep the gap that I had created between me and my friend. When I pulled in to the check point to begin the running portion of the triathlon, my legs were Jell-o and I felt as if I was going to collapse. I began slowly jogging up the hill until I rounded the corner. It was at that moment that I decided it would be a good idea to walk for a minute and rest some of my muscles. The problem with taking a break to walk, is that it is extremely hard to get running again.  After I had just used my legs for swimming, and then used them again with biking, I was supposed to abuse them by running?! Needless to say I jogged with all the effort I had left and walked when I felt I couldn’t even do that anymore. I finished the race close to last (which is embarrassing considering that 60 year-old women were passing me), but I felt a great accomplishment within myself.

I started training for my second sprint triathlon recently and I am happy to say that I have many things to look forward to. I want to beat my time from 2008 and I know with more endurance training that I can reach that goal. I am proud that I finished the race at all, most of my friends will never accomplish a triathlon in their life-time. I never gave up myself and I tried something completely new and challenging. I encourage you all to take part in something like this that maybe you feel you cannot do; I guarantee it will change your perception and build confidence.

“To improve ourselves we must have the strength and the perseverance to never give up, because the fight is what makes life enjoyable in the end.”

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take some time for yourself

Clearing your mind isn’t easy these days with all the busy schedules, city life, school work, and distractions; however, it is needed.  It is easy to get caught up in all the things that you may need to do throughout the day, week, or month that you neglect time for yourself and for reflection. 

Find time for yourself.

Whether it is 5 minutes in the tub, a walk around the block, or a full day doing things you like to do, finding time to clear your mind and let go of the “real world” is an important step in life to live healthy and be happy.

There are lots of personal ways I have of doing this; some may be helpful to you.

I like to go snowboarding alone when I am feeling overwhelmed and I need something fun to do. The act of going up on the hill, breathing in some fresh cold air in my lungs, and enjoying the gorgeous mountain views clears my anxiety and allows me to think clearly about what I need to get done and in what order I need to do it. 

 I often go on drives at night (or during the day) when I need some time to think about a difficult or awkward situation.  I like getting in my car, turning on my favorite tunes to suit my mood, and watching the changing scenery fly by me. I would not advise this if you are feeling too emotional or angry, because then you are putting other people’s lives at risk.

I like to hike to clear my mind and be peaceful or appreciative. Again, this is similar to snowboarding in the ways that I get to breathe in fresh air and enjoy spectacular views.  I also find it soothing as well as challenging. The feeling of accomplishment is exhilarating when I know that have tackled a tough trail or hike.    

 And who doesn’t like sitting in a warm bathtub (or hot tub) for a nice ending to a rough day of high stress or anxiety?  The warm water melts away at any tension and if you have bubble bath or salts the aroma allows for your brain to use it as a calming device. If you have the lights off and candles lit then there isn’t really a whole lot distracting you from relaxing and breathing.   

I encourage you all to take a few moments for yourself to clear your mind and reflect on your day, week, year, or life.

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You can be destroyed, but never defeated

A man can be destroyed, but never defeated.

You have all probably been faced with a time in your life when you do not think you can go any lower. Whether it be losing your job that you have had for over 10 years because of the downward economy and having to pay bills on no income, losing a family member, or any other event in your life that has resulted in a life challenge. Remember that no matter how broken you feel and no matter how far you have fallen, you can never be defeated.

The difference between being destroyed and being defeated is the ability to rise again. Obviously we can learn a thing from Terminator about not being defeated, even though he is half robot and you are probably not. You are in control of your own life, your own destination. What makes us human is our power to choose and our power to overcome. No one can take away your thoughts and your will.

A lesson referring to this idea came from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits for Highly Effective People in which he told a story of a young man in a jewish prison in Germany. The young man was destroyed physically and emotionally, but rose above it in the darkest of times through his own thoughts. If he THOUGHT he could make the situation better, then they could never take that from him. He had the choice to make try and make the experience something that could not affect him. He chose to recognize the fact that no man could ever get inside his head and control his thoughts, and that is what go him through. Most of us are familiar with the cruel treatment of Jewish inmates in these concentration camps, and this is a powerful representation of how the brain is stronger than the brawn.

 The best thing that we can do for ourselves is to think positively and choose wisely. Choose to live your life in happiness instead of sorrow and grief and understand that the option to do so can never be stripped from us.

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