Sunday, July 15, 2018

Iron Beth Challenge

I love personal stats.  I love challenging myself.  I love health and fitness.  So, I quite eagerly signed up for our campus Iron Bear challenge during spring semester.  112 miles of biking, 26.2 miles of running, and 2.4 miles of swimming over two months time in a friendly competition among faculty, staff, and students.

Unfortunately, I didn't see the posters announcing the contest until it was almost half over already.  As such, I failed to meet the running and cycling goals.  (I completed my swimming goal in the waves down in Mexico though!)
Not to be deterred I decided to start over after the end of the spring semester with my own Iron Beth challenge.  During the summer months there aren't any noon hour workout classes offered at our campus gym.  I regularly attend these classes during the school year as they challenge me to workout harder and in a wider variety of ways than I would on my own direction.  I thought Iron Beth could help bridge the gap, so to speak.  Push me in a similar way.  I decided I would swim 2.4 miles, run 26.2 miles, and bike 112 miles between May 15 and July 15.

I crushed the cycling this go-round.  I had that segment knocked out with a full month to spare.  Of course, the change of seasons was helpful for me.  I mostly walk (and get dropped off) in the cold and/or snowy weather whereas I am biking to work every day now--and sometimes home again for lunch, depending on Ginger's schedule and the heat.  An early summer Iron Beth is set up for greater cycling success just because of the timing.  I actually ended up exceeding this goal by 100+ miles.
I have an on-again-off-again relationship to running.  That was the most challenging part of this challenge--both back in March and now.  I love--truly love--cycling.  I quite miss it when I don't get the chance to blow off steam as I pedal.  This long snowy February was really tough in that regard. I've always been "a fish" according to my family so the swimming comes natural as well.   Running, well, it still mostly strikes me as hard work and not exactly a pleasure activity.  One magical afternoon in June I actually attained "runner's high" for the first time.  That was pretty cool.  I went from screaming this-run-can't-end-soon-enough in my head to I-think-I-could-keep-running-forever right around the 25 minute mark.  I was shocked--pleasantly so.  Maybe running will steal my heart at last.  The runner's high gave me hope.  We're in the Friend Zone, I guess.
After cycling, swimming is one of my favored fitness activities.  Plunging beneath the surface into the clear, calming blue of the pool always gives my spirits a lift.  I quite easily get lost in my thoughts and have some quiet, reflective time to myself.  I love the light, easy buoyancy of my body--all the more so when my arthritis is flared.  My heart and lungs and limbs are pumping, but I am not hot and sweaty.  I am cool and refreshed.  I swim laps a lot in the winter months.  During the summer I enjoy hitting area swimming holes--Lake Elmo, most recently--and reveling in the simultaneous combination of two of my loves: nature and swimming.
I achieved the last of my distance goals (surprise, surprise: running!) on Thursday, July 12th.  Three days to spare.  As of July 15th I tallied a grand total of 214.7 miles cycling, 27.8 miles running, and 2.9 miles swimming.
Iron Beth was a fun endeavor.  It proved somewhat challenging, but very attainable, too.  I'm pleased to have hit all three goals this time.   I might have to come up with a weight/strength training version next!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Cats - Inspiration Thursday

“What greater gift than the love of a cat.”
Writer, Charles Dickens
“I have lived with several Zen masters — all of them cats.”
Spiritual writer, Eckhart Tolle
“I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.”
Writer, artist and filmmaker Jean Cocteau
“A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.”
Writer, Ernest Hemingway
“There are two means of refuge from the misery of life — music and cats.”
Humanitarian and theologian, Albert Schweitzer
"Time spent with cats is never wasted."  
Neurologist, Sigmund Freud
Best.  Roommates.  Ever.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Lady Liberty - Inspiration Thursday

The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
As a girl I was sort of obsessed with the Statue of Liberty.  I can't quite pinpoint it, but I forged a deep connection to her story of international friendship, her message of welcome and homecoming, her beauty and grace in sweeping lines of copper.  I can vividly recall a sky blue sweatshirt emblazoned with her image that I was so keen on I wore it threadbare.  In the 8th grade I would complete the childhood dream by standing inside her crown, gazing out through that thick glass.  It wasn't really what I had expected, but was a memorable experience none the less, my visit to the Green Lady.  The Mother of Exiles. Lady Liberty.  My Lady.