Jump Back! Water Fun

Recently at swimming Coach Katie had fun things for us to try, including:

- Reverse Swimming: I'd read about this on facebook updates but had never tried it. You swim backwards. It's like watching a video clip of freestyle on rewind, your toes hit the wall first. I LOVED it!

- Ball Toss: In pairs in the deep end treading water each group would toss a ball up and over the warning flags. My ball kept hitting the flags...

- Underwater swim + pool pushups: we swam across the width of the pool, under all the lane dividers and once at the other side did 10 pool pushups x 4. I was surprised how out of air I was.

- Flutter kick + underwater swim: similar to the pushups, we'd do quick flutterkick against the side & then on Katie's call we'd swim across the width of the pool underwater and kick again. I was out of air on this one too.

- Swim belt + cord - put on this belt & then try to swim to the end of your lane. There were 3 levels of resistance. I tried to easy one & it was so fun, especially the reel-in sensation on the recovery. I did something similar on dry land at the Packer Experience years ago.

- Tug of War - each swimmer swims in the opposite direction while hooked to this rubber cord. You want to pull your opponent your way. We've also done this head to head with a kickboard perpendicularly between the two swimmers. I'm not sure which one I like most. Fun!

And yes Jump Back! is a Footloose quote! I love dance movies and I watched Ariel & Ren's romance 100+ times as an elementary school kid. I read someone's remaking it!

You won't get any dancing here, it's illegal.
Ren: Jump back!
Watch a Footloose trailer here: http://matttrailer.com/footloose_1984
Questions for You:
- Have you tried reverse freestyle? How did it go?
- What's your favorite dance movie?
Photo credit: Our son jumps backwards into the pool on last summer's Alaskan cruise. The lifeguard didn't like that!

Loving Winter: Hills, Boots & Bike Tricks

Afternoon sun + family time = excellent Valentine's Day!
The afternoon sun was shining this last weekend so we bundled up the family for a Valentine's Day winter walk. Ken, E & I walked, T rode his bike and O was in the baby jogger. O's picture didn't turn out.
T rode over snow, ice, salt and mush. Fortunately the 2.5-foot bump he plowed through on a downhill wasn't frozen -- though I'm thinking he may like to try cyclo-cross? He's got amazing handling skills and many tricks, some that definitely freak me out. For example, a few summers ago on his 2-wheeler he flew down a downhill and went into a modified "Superman" move (arms on handlebars, stomach on seat & legs straight out behind the seat).
And you'll see a variety of supertricks on our built-in sledding hill. The neighborhood kids spend most afternoons sledding, snowboarding & snow-surfing in our backyard.

Questions for You:
- Did you have a favorite winter sled growing up? Mine was an orange plastic sled. I had amazing skills on that sled.
- What about cyclo-cross? Have you done it, would you try it?
Photos: by me, even the one of myself.

Pain in the Neck! :-(

A week ago I did something to my neck, and it hurts. I have limited mobility turning to look left and also leaning my head to the left. I've had a "sore spot" where my neck and shoulders meet for several years that I got when I started riding my bike a lot for IM training. But this new pain was on top of that old sore spot.
This morning I went back to Dr. Aberle, a Madison, Wis.-based Chiropractor who I used years ago. At that time I had mostly Graston Technique done. In addition to Graston, ART and other chiropractic treatments Dr. Aberle now offers Advanced Biostructural Correction (TM).
My body has many issues going on, I'll try to summarize correctly:
- my eyes are at different levels
- my mouth is at an angle
- my back teeth are higher than the front teeth (twist on different quadrant)
- my shoulders are rounded and tight
- my 1st ribs are pushed forward which limits my breathing
- my spine is missing its curves where it should be curved.
OK. This is bigger than a kink in the neck. I was surprised to see how working on my right
shoulder, arm and my right inner leg all helped relieve pain and give me more neck mobility.
I knew a little about fascia and its role in the body, so when Dr. Aberle spoke about its role in postural problems it made sense to me. To learn more watch this video - with the 3-D skeleton model it's easy to understand what's going on in the body.
It reminded me of professional triathlete and movement specialist Jessi Stensland and her experience with structural changes in her body and related performance. I remembered reading her post on active.com related to asymmetries and imbalances. Read it & check out the photos with examples! I'm attending Jessi's new MovementU clinic in March. I'm excited to learn more about my body and how I can start moving well!
My hubby and I met Jessi a few weeks ago when she was in town for a video production assignment. During the ride to dinner, my husband Ken said, "I used my abs once when running ... when I sneezed." Jessi totally cracked up in the back seat and said, "Can I use that?" Follow MovementU on twitter and you'll see Ken's quote.
Questions for You:
- What hurts?
- Tell me about your posture.
photo: public domain image

Encouragement, Memoirs & Thin Places

I LOVE my mission here on IronMakeover. Writing encouragement fills me up and ideally lifts up others. I find encouragement in many ways and from many sources:

- Your Comments: I adore them. I check e-mail too frequently hoping for a new comment.
- Music: I can't sing and I'm not good with artist names but certain songs lift me up. I listen to a mix of oldies, U2, Beatles, Storyhill, and our Christian radio station Life 102.5.
- Faith: Knowing there is NOTHING I can do or say to make God love me more. And that there is NOTHING I can do or say to make God love me LESS. That's amazing and encouraging!
Last year author (& triathlete!) Mary E. DeMuth encouraged me as a writer. She critiqued my pitch on her blog "So You Want to be Published" and a paragraph for me here. That spring I read her books Watching the Tree Limbs and Wishing on Dandelions. I loved these stories of hope and healing. And now after reading her latest release Thin Places, I feel I know DeMuth and her character Maranatha better.

"Writing Watching the Tree Limbs is a thin place where I see God's desire to heal me," says DeMuth, "and I understand that He loves me no matter what emotions I express."

So what's a thin place? According to DeMuth thin places are "snatches of time, moments really, when we sense God intersecting our world in tangible, unmistakable ways."

For me (Sara), I've stumbled upon "thin places," including:
- A friend's grasp as I nearly slid off a cliff on the North Shore of Minnesota.
- Our decision to sell our house in Madison.
- My safety during an dangerous choice to essentially hitchhike on a bike tour gone bad.

Here's the Thin Places trailer. See below for ways to connect with DeMuth and for Questions for You:

Connect with DeMuth
- Read DeMuth's race report from Rock the Tri Triathlon!
- Read how writing & triathlon are similar. You must do the thing you're learning about, says DeMuth.
- Facebook
- Visit the other bloggers participating on the Thin Places Blog Tour.
- DeMuth is hosting a video discussion during Feb. 8-12. Go to SayitFacetoFace to see Mary's video & record a response.
- Learn more about writing memoirs in this post from DeMuth.
- Read what it was like for DeMuth to write her memoir.

Questions for You:
- Where or how do you find encouragement?
- Can tri training be a thin place?
- Have you written or started writing a memoir? Tell us!

**FTC disclaimer: I've purchased four of Mary's books, but I received Thin Places as a review copy.

My First Tri: Sept 1995

Fifteen years ago my boyfriend Ken (now husband) suggested we train for a sprint triathlon. He’d done one already. He’d signed up after hearing a radio ad, he thought it sounded cool. Already a fit college-level athlete I said, sure, let’s do it.

We’d race weeks later at the Devil’s Challenge, a sprint triathlon held at Devil’s Lake State Park, Baraboo, Wis. Back then we mailed our registrations, no online signup. We didn’t officially train. I didn’t read triathlon books, blogs or forums or think much about race day. To train we pumped up our tires and wiped the bike frames with Pledge.

Race day arrived; it was also my birthday. Ken picked me up while it was dark and moments later he was on his knee proposing—I said yes! I’d have a funny combination of nerves and extreme joy fueling me through my first triathlon. We raced together to celebrate our engagement and our families came to cheer. To me their support meant “we love you and believe in you.”

Race registration was easy and getting body-marked was cool! The cute volunteer wrote my race number in black Sharpie on my arm, quad and calf. I now love the smell of Sharpie on race morning! photo credit: my parents. I pieced 2 pictures together, we were in different waves.

I wore a two-piece Speedo for the swim. I stretched a little on shore, but didn’t get in the water until it was time for my wave to start. I started in the back of my group of swimmers and eased into the water, taking my time walking out a bit feeling the mucky mud under my feet. Once I felt it was deep enough I did five strokes of freestyle, forgot to breathe, swallowed water and then switched to the breast-stroke for good.

Before I’d reached the first buoy I ran into a whole pack of ladies floating on their backs. I heard a confident woman saying, “If you need a break, just flip over and rest.” I kept going wondering when the next wave of swimmers would catch me. (Waves typically start every 1-3 minutes depending on the event size.)

I caught some swimmers and the rest caught me. I was surprised to learn swimming is a contact sport. Other athletes passed, kicked and scratched me and I drank lake water, icky. The swim was a quarter mile but it felt longer. To my right I could see volunteer kayakers and lifeguards lining the outside of the course.

My goggles fogged up and one side leaked, so I swam with one eye shut. Doing the breast-stroke was slower than freestyle, but it was easy for me to keep the course markers in sight. I was almost to that turn buoy, finally, then a short stretch to shore. Ken was waiting for me by the shore (he was in an earlier swim wave), so we could do the rest of the race together.

Like a toddler learning to walk, I stumbled to my feet across the rocky shallows. Ken and I went to our bike stall (the race didn’t have bike racks back then so we had parking spots for our transition areas.)

I whipped on a cotton t-shirt and pulled on spandex shorts over my wet swimsuit, snapped my helmet, put on socks and tennis shoes and we were ready, quick transition. My swim + transition 1 (T1) together took 10 minutes, 12 seconds. photo credit: my parents. T2!

Then Ken and I were off for a 15-mile bike on country roads outside the State Park. This old course took us on some busier roads and threw in a few climbs. Not far into my bike segment we heard a woman moaning. We couldn’t see her yet but her bellow echoed up the valley. When we passed by it looked like she’d broken her arm or elbow. How awful, I bit my lip and felt like crying.

Some of the bike miles were boring. Rowing gave me strong legs and helped condition my bottom to sitting, but my bike seat was uncomfortable. Remember, I didn't train! Fortunately, the weather was sunny yet cool, a gorgeous day for racing.

Ken encouraged me up the last long and steady climb into the State Park. I got a glimpse of what he’d be like down the road as my labor coach. His coaching style worked for me, it was easy to respond but what I really needed was a lesson on shifting and climbing.

Many athletes walked their bikes up that hill, but we kept going. I wasn’t going much faster than the walkers; I expected they might pass me later on. Then we had a short curvy downhill on our way to transition 2 (T2). I rode the brakes most of the way down. Again, since there were no bike racks, we got off our bikes, laid them down, took off our helmets and left for the run. Our 15-mile bike and transition took 1:02:44.

The 3.2-mile run was partly off-road on a State Park trail with ups and downs and weird tree branches, stones and railroad tracks to cross. The rest of the route was on walking paths or roads. As a rower, I could run, even during the last segment of a triathlon I didn’t properly train for.

Back then I was faster than Ken so I led the run segment. We passed more people on the run than on the bike, which was fun. And the other athletes were nice, even when being passed. That impressed me, what a cool sport. Triathlon’s easy camaraderie and sense of fun had me at hello—I’d be back to race again.

There was water setup like a Kool-Aid stand at the turnaround and we grabbed a paper cup. The run doubled back, we were almost done! I was most comfortable on the run, I liked being on my feet, it felt sturdier. Sure, I could easily have a Bella moment and trip, but the danger seemed less threatening on the run vs. the bike or swim.
photo credit: my parents. The finish!

The finish chute was on grass, nice and safe. We held hands and crossed together. Our run time was 30:53 and the race overall took 1:43:49. An incredible day, my birthday, a proposal and my first triathlon! What next? I could do anything.

photo credit: my parents. We went out to lunch to celebrate my birthday, the race and our engagement. I had a special tri-theme cake. I ordered a plain chef salad & I remember the waitress asking, "you don't want no meat?" It still makes me laugh.

Questions for You:
- Do you like Sharpie smell?
- What was the easiest part of your first tri?
- Link me to your "first tri" post or race report, I'd love to read it.