Goodbye Jacksonville

It took me about a year to adjust to living in Jacksonville after spending 5 and a 1/2 years in San Francisco (and California is my home state).  When my husband found out he was being transferred to Jacksonville, I cried… and then cried some more.  Not only did I despise the idea of moving away from home, but I also really despised the idea of moving to Florida.  Really, could we move any further away from the west coast??  The heat and humidity scared me (and I already knew about it because my husband was a prior resident of the state).  The big bugs were also a bit frightening.  Oh, and snakes too!

It was not easy driving ALL the way across the country to a new world (yes, it was a bit of a culture shock). The one thing I was looking forward to was finally owning our own home!  And it just so happened to be double the size of the house we were currently renting.  However, it was not a short 10-minute walk from the beach.  And it was not a short 10-minute walk to the local coffee shop or brewhouse.  But it was a very nice house in a very nice neighborhood with a very nice community pool.  I tried to remain positive throughout the whole moving experience, but it doesn’t help when you are packing up your home while you are extremely sick with the flu.  At least the drive was nice… if you like 110 degree weather and Interstate 10.

So, we finally arrive in Jacksonville and I don’t find my niche right away.  All of the Coast Guard families are very friendly, but most of them were from the south or east coast.  Nothing wrong with that, but I kind of felt like the odd woman out.  I’m the type of person who likes to have a couple of really good friends instead of a hundred acquaintances.  I’m also very shy and find it hard to make small talk.  A year went by and I still didn’t find what I was searching for but I went through my third (and final) pregnancy with a happy little bundle of joy at the end.  That cute little bundle of joy kept me busy and so did my final year of my Master’s degree program.  Finally, though, enough was enough and I needed to find some friends.

I thought about Team in Training and how I had met some amazing people when I was a part of the program in San Francisco.  I knew that running a marathon was on my bucket list and I also knew that I needed to lose the baby weight and the only way I could was through running (the best weight loss program I know of).  6 weeks after giving birth I joined the local team.  Through the 4 month experience I made really good friends, lost all of the baby weight, gained confidence and finished my first marathon.  I was hooked.  I couldn’t stop there so I decided to stay involved as a coach and then eventually signed on as a participant once again.  Even though it sounds crazy, I loved getting up at 5:00 am on Saturdays to run with the team and meeting up on Tuesday evenings to push ourselves over the bridges.  I knew I had finally found my niche in Jacksonville.

Training and working out became my passion and a big part of my life.  I enjoyed getting a break from the kids by dropping them off at the gym daycare (and they loved the social aspect of it).  I looked forward to the classes offered by very personable instructors.  I began to set my sights even higher and ran a marathon and a half (in 2 days) at Disney World with one of my really good friends.  I even tried my first triathlon and loved it!  I overcame (well, not completely yet) an injury  that set me back from achieving my fitness goals.  Through that, I learned a lesson on determination.

I have learned and endured so much since moving to Jacksonville.  I just can’t believe that it is already time to move on to the next place.  I will truly miss all of my friends, my house, my neighbors (the most awesome cul-de-sac ever!), and the Jacksonville running community.  I will not miss the summer weather, but I must admit that it was kind of nice wearing shorts and t-shirts during most of the winter.  I will look forward to having all of the seasons, real mountains and being closer to the west coast.  I am sure that I will have many new adventures and that is what keeps me going through all of this.  I am definitely never bored.

So, goodbye Jacksonville!  Tomorrow I start my next journey across the states!


My First Tri

I may not be super fast or extremely fit, but I have a lot of determination.  Regardless of how crazy it sounded, my goal for my first triathlon was to finish it in first place (female overall).  I tried to override this thought process by telling myself that I should only focus on finishing the thing.  My husband sure reminded me of that (any time I mentioned anything even slightly competitive).  But my mind wanders and it seems to have high expectations.  There is a warning to that though: high expectations can bring great disappointment.  Yet, I would rather just push and see what happens.  I tend to achieve more when I have a bigger goal to work towards.

So, over the past couple of months I have worked hard on my silly dream.  Not really as hard as I could have, but I always had the best intentions and motivation seemed to follow suit in most cases.  Even those who appear to be highly motivated have their ups and downs.  There were days I didn’t want to get up and go swim at 6:00 am and days where I just felt like refusing to turn my dial during spin class.  But there were also days when I would plan to ride 15 miles, but ended up doing 20 miles instead.  We all have our good days and our bad days.

I didn’t let the fact that I have 3 kids to care for get in the way.  When I am not in training mode, I am in mommy mode.  If I wanted an extra workout, I would push 60 pounds of little kids in the double jogging stroller.  When I wanted to do something fun with my oldest, I would take her out for a bike ride.  This all sounds just too perfect doesn’t it?  Like I am some kind of super mom?  Okay, let me also point out that on days when I would push myself too hard, I would come home and lay on the couch while the kids watched cartoons. If I was feeling too exhausted to make lunch, then we would drive through Chick-Fil-A on the way home (always a tease to my starving self because I choose not to eat chicken).  There is a cost, but this is what makes me happy and when I am happy then I can better focus on making my family happy.  Not only that, but I feel like I am setting a good example (most of the time).

Back to the triathlon.  Oh boy, was I nervous!  I felt prepared, but you are never sure if you are really prepared when you try something new.  And of course everyone there knew who the newbies were because we had it written on our leg.  Maybe all of the questions gave it away too.  I stood by the lake prior to the start and was very relieved that I had chosen to do this at a lake instead of the ocean.  My main concern was the swim portion of the event.  Fortunately, we went in waves, so it wasn’t one big massive group swimming together.  I think I only got kicked twice.  However, when I first started swimming I realized that the lake was pitch black.  I started swimming like a person who doesn’t really know how to freestyle… the person who keeps their head up out of the water while doing the motions with their arms.  Then I realized I was being ridiculous and told myself that I know how to swim.  I stuck my face in the black water and got down to business passing people, maneuvering around the buoys and focusing on swimming in a straight line.

After I got out of the water (I must say that it did go by fast) I ran to my bike.  Even though it felt like my shoes and my helmet weren’t on right, I hopped on and got going.  As I started passing people (and that is a whole new thing because there are certain rules), I started to get worried because I know I tend to push too hard in the beginning which can cause me to die at the end.  Yet, I couldn’t tell myself to slow down because I wouldn’t listen.  My legs burned, but I just kept thinking about spin class.  The instructor is kind of pushy and I always leave class with a soaked towel (thanks to all of the sweat spilling off my body).  Maybe that paid off.  I just kept going and was relieved when I passed a little kid (very cool, but I sure as heck didn’t want him beating me).  I wasn’t even sure how far I had gone because it was the first time I had ridden without GPS.  But, it didn’t take too long before I managed to coast to the end.  The end of the bike ride that is.

My legs felt like lead when I jumped off the bike and I felt a tad tired.  I ran to change out my shoes and put my bike up.  Then I started the run.  I thought about how I usually start a run all refreshed and feeling pretty good.  Yeah, that is a bit different when you start running after swimming and cycling.  I felt like I was moving in slow motion.  Yet, it seemed like the people in front of me were moving in even slower motion.  I wasn’t even sure how I passed about 10 guys, but I did.  I kept telling myself “the run is your strength, you can push it.”  And I did push it like I normally do on any other run.  I was so happy to see the finish line, but I also felt so excited about what I had just done.  I already couldn’t wait to do it again.  Not only did I have fun, but I did finish in first place for the “My First Tri” race.  And not only did I finish first over all of the newbie females, but I also beat the first place “My First Tri” male by one minute.

I am proud of what I accomplished, but also humbled by the work it takes to achieve your goals.  I want to inspire others in a positive way and make it known that all things are possible if you BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.  I know I will most likely be disappointed at my next race because I have set my expectations too high (and I will no longer be a “my first tri” participant), but that doesn’t mean that I won’t try to do better.  I will still have fun doing it.

Just a side note.  When I first started training a few months ago I could barely swim a full lap without stopping and I would fall over when I tried to stop on my bike.  Don’t let those small annoyances get in the way of achieving your goals.