Finding my Zen Zone while Running


My journey to be a decent triathlete is no one else’s. Sometimes I think a fast runner or a fast triathlete never gives it any thought to how difficult it can be for regular people, for mere mortals, to get past the pain and self consciousness of competition. I know that they have personal lives, jobs, families, heartaches and problems, but the shell of their perfect bodies disguises so well whatever pain they hide inside.

Last night I ran with the Boca Hawaii group and as usual I ended up alone for most of the run. I could see my teammates in the distance. Then the dots of their heads blended into the crowds along the beach in Waikiki at sunset. I just kept my head in my run, thought about my form, and counted on blending back in with the others as we approached the shop at the designated time.

Running isn’t easy for me. I have a favorite T-shirt of a rhino on a treadmill inspired by a unicorn on a poster beside her. Not that I would ever want to be a unicorn. I just think the shirt is funny and it points out how silly it is for us to dream to be something that doesn’t even exist.

So far, my bike and swim are improving immensely. I’m excited at the prospect of beating last year’s time of 08:12 for the Honu 70.3 Ironman. My run hasn’t been quite there yet, but I am making strides in that area, too.

Before we took off for our run from Kakaako, the coaches gave us all a pep talk and Raul explained the route. While some runners asked about going as far as Kapiolani Park, I knew that would never be a problem for me. My turn around would not occur as far as theirs. At the half-way point, I turned back toward the shop. I ran down Kalakaua Avenue toward the Convention Center, and turned to run down the dark tree-lined mall that is now home to many homeless people. I was a little worried. I figured my teammates might find my body if something were to happen to me. I picked up my pace, I kept my focus, I ran over the herringboned bricks in the dark toward busy Ala Moana Boulevard, the heavy vehicular traffic, the pedestrians, the stoplights and the street lamps.

I pushed through. I felt pretty good, but I worried that I’d get all smug and cocky and then fall on my face the darker it got. By the time I got back to the shop, there was still time to keep running, so I ran around the area for another few minutes. I was the third runner back and way before the others. I should have run a little longer. I realized that my run back was faster than my run out. The stats on my Garmin indicated I kept a faster pace than I have ever had before. I wasn’t in pain. My heart and lungs were OK! That’s so encouraging. I woke up and my legs were a little stiff this morning, but we were able to take a short bike ride.

Tonight I roasted salmon and made linguine for The Benderettes. I ate half of what I put on my plate. Something is happening. A switch, a feeling, a drive.

My Second Tinman: It Gets Better


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After I finish an event, I’m mostly all smiles. You can’t tell my feet hurt, can you?

Before I got hooked on triathlons, I used to think how crazy triathletes must be — but I always admired them. I wanted to swim, bike, and run, too! Embarrassment about my weight kept me from trying. I also thought I was too old and getting back into shape would be hopeless. But that nagging “Why NOT?” kept popping up. Since my first try in 2012 at the Boca Hawaii Lanikai Triathlon, I’ve done a handful of triathlons, including a half Ironman (70.3) last month. Triathlons remind me of small-kid time. Swim, bike, run, repeat. Now I’m starting to repeat events and there’s no telling when I’ll stop.

Yesterday I completed my second Hawaii Tinman Triathlon. Here it is: Finishing the 2013 Hawaii Tinman Triathlon. Impressive, huh? LOL! I came in about five minutes faster than last year. I also came in a little higher up the age-group food chain at 6th place out of 17. I’m so used to being in the bottom third, so that was a very pleasant surprise!

The weather was perfect, but a bit junk for a 25-mile bike ride through East Oahu. I managed a pretty good swim of the 750-meters in under 18 minutes. The first transition, T1, was like the longest barefoot run ever! Once on my bike, I could gain composure as that is my favorite event in a triathlon. Before I reached the top of Diamond Head Road, I saw somebody fixing a tire. There were a few more competitors along the bike route having to do the same. Blustery and rainy weather dislodges all kinds of crap from the road that can puncture a tire in an instant. And it is no fun to change a tire in the pouring rain. I’ve been extremely lucky in this instance. I got back to the staging area for T2 with a bike ride that was about five minutes faster than last year’s. I popped off my helmet, changed my sunglasses, put on socks and shoes, grabbed a gel and a swig of my Infinit Lavagal sport drink, and headed for the hills. My average running pace was 13-minute miles for the 10k. Yes, that’s slow for everyone else, but not bad for me. I had to do a little bit of walking, but I finished hard and fast. I hope that next year I’ll finish in under three hours. My 2012 time was 03:10:17. My 2013 time was 03:05:15.

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Exiting the swim in front of a guy who took off in the wave before me. Booyah!

How did I get here?

Kristin “KC” Carlberg helped me find my comfort zone with her company, TryFitness, which is dedicated to helping women of all shapes and sizes achieve their personal fitness goals. If you think this might be you or someone you know, follow the link and begin an incredible journey. Orientations include women from all walks of life, in all shapes and sizes, aged 20-something to senior retirees. The one thing in common is that we all want a push, we all want accountability. Without it I wouldn’t ride my bicycle up Sierra Heights Drive or Pineapple Hill, I wouldn’t take on open-ocean swims, and I would never jog more than a trot. Squeeze my body into a spandex trisuit? Two years ago that would have been a whole lotta nope.

Now it’s yes. Yesterday I sent a message to Oahu’s premier sporting event organizer Chris Gardner and told him a weekend without hearing his voice on a bullhorn is boring. It’s true. I’m addicted to participating in all of these active events that help me realize personal goals. I’m rarely on the podium, but my personal victories are immeasurable. And I am so very fortunate that my husband gets up a few minutes before me each time to brew espresso shots and then join me as we drive at the pre-butt-crack-of-dawn to the starting line, camera in tow.

My abs are not ripped, I drink wine, and I can’t stand doing planks. I’m unemployed, STILL, and I believe training and participating in these events helps me feel a sense of accomplishment and gives me confidence as I inquire about jobs. In fact, yesterday as I was doing the Tinman run, I thought to myself how I really want to translate these personal achievements into plusses as I approach my personal intersection of joy: Happy family, satisfying job, physical fitness, and emotional balance. It gets better with each step I take. It gets better. I just need a personal conversion table.

Haleiwa Triathlon, HPH 10k

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Third place, winners' circle. Age group: 50-54, Women Who Refuse To Act Their Age.

Third place, winners’ circle. Age group: 50-54, Women Who Refuse To Act Their Age.

On Saturday I completed my first triathlon of 2013. On Sunday I completed my first and probably only 10k of 2013. In about two weeks Try Fitness training for the June 1 Honu 70.3  begins.

Finishing the bike leg.

Finishing the bike leg.

While doing these events I thought about getting in shape for Honu. When I plunged into the ocean for the 500+ meter swim at Puena Point, the anxiety hit as I was thrashed and tried to get by the crazy confusion of other swimmers. At this distance, the swimmers don’t get a chance to thin out and you’re shoulder to shoulder with others no matter how hard you try to break away. I got to the end and lost my balance trying to get out on the beach. Gotta work on all that. The transition from swim to bike was a long run across the beach and through a park to the T1 transition area to get on the bike. My T1 took a long time. My right leg was bleeding. Scratched by another swimmer or a cut on the rocks?

Finishing the run, coming from the beach. Haleiwa is a pretty little town.

Finishing the run, coming from the beach. Haleiwa is a pretty little town.

I made up for the slow T1 on the bike, which is where I can get a sense of accomplishment, I can really crank the watts, and I take advantage of the right gears up and down the hills. When I saw John’s photos of me on the bike I got upset about holiday weight gain, months after Xmas and New Years. A few weeks ago I gave up white flour and I’ve been very good about eating plenty of fruit and vegetables and drinking water every day. If I hadn’t I’d probably have looked worse.

Colleagues Val Yamamoto and Dara Hubin and I were part of the 1,440 finishers in the HPH Women's 10k run. They both did great!

Colleagues Val Yamamoto and Dara Hubin and I were part of the 1,440 finishers in the HPH Women’s 10k run. They both did great!

My transition to the run was fairly easy, and I wasn’t too disoriented as I started. However, the Haleiwa tri takes you down a beach, around the bend, along an abandoned and overgrown airport runway to a turnaround, back along the runway to a wooded area and another turnaround, and back to the beach into the sand and dunes and debris along the tide line.

Queen Kapiolani. Many events begin and end at her park between Waikiki and Diamond Head.

Queen Kapiolani. Many events begin and end at her park between Waikiki and Diamond Head.

Some how I managed to get third place, a little award, and a sense of accomplishment.

Next was the Hawaii Pacific Health Women’s 10k. Out of 1,440 women, I came in 867 place at 01:25:34. Compared to my triathlon stats, my run was considerably better, probably because it was all pavement, and a course with which I am familiar. If it weren’t for my good TryFitness and HPH friends, I probably wouldn’t have found it in me to finish strong.

I cannot say I was thrilled with my results or how I looked this weekend as I took part in my first 2013 events, but I guess these, and last week’s bicycle time trial, are good benchmarks to start from.

Results from both of these events are at the Pacific Sport Events & Timing website: http://pseresults.com/events/recent. The Haleiwa Triathlon photos are by my husband John. A friend took the picture of Val, Dara, and me. And I took the photos of the roses with the statue.

Yes, I’m a BEFORE again. Next week, the Hapalua Half Marathon. Gotta figure out this plantar fasciitis before then.

Roses for the Queen. Each finisher of the HPH Women's 10k was given a rose. Mine was a pretty yellow one.

Roses for the Queen. Each finisher of the HPH Women’s 10k was given a rose. Mine was a pretty yellow one.

Mentally, I hope these small accomplishments can help me in other areas of my life.

Try Fitness Hawaii’s Annual Na Wahine Festival

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Girls just wanna have fun when they’re kicking their own butts. Yesterday, from the two sisters under 10 years old to the senior women in their 70s, nearly 300 women participated in the annual Na Wahine Festival, a combination of … Continue reading

Today’s Milestone

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Mahalo, whoever you are, you wonderful soul who checked my site as visitor number 50,000 today. Lavagal.net got lots of hits today. It might get to 100 before I sign off. I’m grateful, even if it might be mostly paranoid … Continue reading

Hawaii Tinman Triathlon

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If you’re my Facebook friend, I created a photo album there with about 40 photos from the event, including finishers and winners. John was the photographer, and everyone knows he does a great job. I got to bed about 10 … Continue reading