Monday, April 20, 2009

Joelful Morning

Adkins Arboretum vistor center; the sight of the Arbor Day 5K start and finish line.

Saturday was like another world. It was a gorgeous windless day with temperatures in the seventies. It started out by meeting up with Joel in Easton. We rode our bikes out to the little town of Queen Anne. The morning could not have been more beautiful. That end of the Talbot County is like another world; farm land, train tracks, wide open fields, narrow creeks/streams, and small rolling hills.

Joel was having a blast on the down hills. There is a really cool way to get to Queen Anne and Hillsboro (which is on the way to Tuckahoe) via back country roads; beautiful roads and scenery. We discussed a future plan of riding out to Tuckahoe on the bikes, swimming in the Lake, running the trails, and returning to Easton on bikes. As we were checking out the village of hundred plus year old houses, Joel said that it would be cool to get a group of us together and buy some houses there; have our own little commune of runners and triathletes. Unfortunately, he didn’t have more time than to ride to Queen Anne and back. We said our good byes to each other with a shaky hand slap on QA’s Main Street.

I ventured on to Adkins Arboretum to participate in their Arbor Day 5K. I was amazed by the number of cars in the parking lots when I rode up on my bike. There were 70+ runners ready to go. With the bike leaning on a tree, I quickly changed into a dry running shirt (Valliant appreciates my wardrobe changes between races), threw my $20 at the lady at the desk and got in line to run the race with bib number 185.

There was a correction to last year’s course to make this year’s an official 5k distance. I was nervous about the competition. Not so, because of Noah Wood, who wins most every race he enters, but for all the other runner-looking-types that I did not know. When the gun went off the crowd lurched forward. A boy took off so hard that I knew for sure I’d see him again soon, and I did. He lasted about 40 seconds before he started walking. He did win his age group. I didn’t start in the front, but by the time we were in the field only Noah was ahead of me.

The course was dry and well marked. I kept looking over my shoulder to see who was coming up behind, but there wasn’t anyone gaining on me. I pushed on anyhow, because at last year’s race I got passed in the 3rd mile. We did a double loop back on the course to get the mileage in. I passed a group of ladies I knew from Easton on my second time on the loop. The finish was a welcome sight and I was pleased to hear the timer yell 19:21 when I finished. I was stoked! I went on to be 2nd overall behind Noah and first in my age group.

The folks there at Adkins did a superior job of making the race wonderful in everyway. They really did it well. The post race buffet was fully stocked with bagels, fruit, drinks, cookies, and cupcakes. Winner’s medals were awarded three deep in many age brackets. And, the volunteers were helpful and cheery on the course. Combine great race organization with the beauty of Adkins, and it’s hard to imagine a better venue so close to home.

I truly believe the moderate bike ride to the race warmed up my legs to run, because they felt great. I also feel the bike oxygenated my blood to a level that aided my effort. I’ve experienced that phenomenon while swimming intervals. It was a pretty awesome feeling to be wearing a winner’s medal while hopping on my bike and speeding away back to Easton. Many folks from the race beeped at me when they passed me on the road. Did I say how awesome the weather was? Soon after I left Adkins, in a field were two Bald Eagles standing with two turkey buzzards about 75 feet from the road. The eagles were easily twice the size of the buzzards. Beautiful.

The rest of the day was just as awesome: We drove to DC and watched my niece Ashby and her Georgetown Lacrosse team whoop up on U of Cincinnati. Olivia, Ashby, and I later biked down to the Lincoln Memorial, had milkshakes, and enjoyed Georgetown. Great day. Did I mention how awesome the weather was?

This week we’re looking forward to some lacrosse games for my daughters, a Latin competition for Liv, and the Trail Dawgs Triple Crown Races for my RUR blokes and me. Love, swim, ride, run, and appreciate life ~ WF

Saturday, April 11, 2009

New Perspective Through Injury

The Talbot County YMCA Master's Swim Team the "Manta Rays" posing with the Maryland Chidster Swim Series 1st Place Award.

I now have a coaching staff for my swimming. The problem is, though, I can’t swim. Eleven days ago I hurt my shoulder while swimming. Initially, it didn’t seem like a huge deal, but with further stress on my left shoulder later that day while moving stepping stones in my yard, things got worse. So, now, I’ve been to the doctor, had an MRI, been on medication, and have been treating it consistently homeopathically. I don’t want to go into how badly it hurts, but I do want to express what I’ve learned during this down time.

Over the past 3+ years nothing has stopped me from doing some sort of training; running, swimming, or biking. If one or two of them were not an option, there was always the third to do; it’s always been there. With this injury I’ve had to cut out all training in order to get the shoulder to start healing. It’s been tough.

I’m attacking this injury from the angle that it is a blessing. The first blessing is my renewed spirit of compassion. I’ve been so sensitive to what others have said to me with regard to my situation, it’s made me realize how important to have compassion towards others who are injured or are sick. It is so important.

The second blessing is my renewed sense of appreciation for life, abilities, and joys. It is all so fragile, yet, we treat it with such disregard at times. I’d like to keep this new perspective for a long time.

Thirdly, as you all know I have thoroughly enjoyed my swimming and have expanded into Meet competitions with the Master’s Swim team. Through the many times I’ve been at the YMCA for a swim workout, I came to know about the Galan family, a family of swimmers and coaches. Father Galan now coaches his son who is a freshman in college. Daughter Galan, Julia, is in graduate school and coaches individual master swimmers at the Y on the weekends. She, also, attends the swim meets for her swimmers on race days. I came to meet Julia at the Annapolis meet this winter, where she coached me through some of my events. Word got back to me that she wanted to start coaching me on a regular basis. I resisted because I recognized her style being different from what I had experienced through the Masters program. Being on the cusp of the Triathlon season, I feared changing my stroke would not be good at this time. How wrong I was.

This series of events is leading me into being a better trained and prepared athlete. The Galan’s assure me that with their techniques for swimming, I will swim faster with less effort and less strain on my naturally weaker parts of my anatomy…my shoulders. It is just a shame that I had to get injured to come to these realizations.

You see, I have been pulling myself through the water with my upper body. I have not been kicking; not utilizing my powerful legs and core. The Galan’s program builds the “engine”, or propulsion system, which is the core and legs through kicking. Through a rhythm of kicking, rotation, and pulling, I will become an efficient swimmer and not be prone to hurting myself. Though I am not “swimming”, I have in water workouts to do that focus on kicking and core strength.

Our last meet in Pasadena, Maryland was a fabulous meet where I did my personal best in every event. Of course two events were new to me. I was most excited to swim a 35 second 50 meter butterfly. This time last year I had never done the fly. Now I’m on my way to becoming strong in it.

A few posts ago I listed all the events on my agenda for this spring. With my shoulder injured, I have to reassess the list and be realistic. I will have to wait until next year to attend most of them. I hope to be able to do Eagleman, but I’m not sure. We are 2 weeks away from the Trail Dawgs Triple Crown Races. I hope to be able to attend and race. We’ll see. Happy Easter to all! Love, Swim, Bike, Run, and Appreciate Life! ~