Your year to grow

As 2018 rolled in, I set some different types of New Year resolutions. They had nothing to do with weight loss or fitness, but more to do with growing as a person. I wasn’t happy in the company where I worked last year, and I was determined not to spend 2018 stuck at that office, not learning, not growing, not being appreciated. So I went to Books-a-Million the first week of January and used some Christmas money to buy the prettiest planner I could find. On the cover, in big cursive letters it read “Your Year to Grow.”

This became my mantra for 2018 (and beyond). After all, being Forever 22 means never settling, refusing to think you’re too old, and always seeking out adventures, big and small. So in my planner, I wrote down some goals.

First, I wanted a better job–something with a pleasant work environment, long-term potential, and positive impact on the world. Thankfully, that goal is already checked off the list. I have a wonderful job with wonderful people–not everyone is lucky enough to be able to say that. [Side note: now that the job search is over, I’ll have more free time for writing, so hopefully this blog will be less…neglected in the future.] ūüôā

Second, I wanted to try to get published. This is, admittedly, much more difficult than my first goal. But I wouldn’t be much of a writer if I never at least tried. I noted in my planner which publishers I submitted to and what dates.

Third, I wanted adventure (er, as much as possible when you have a new job and no vacation time to speak of). I filled my planner with every event in my area I could find–road races, festivals, fundraisers. I found a running group through Facebook. Coordinating with my boyfriend in Texas, we planned something fun for almost every weekend until May.

So far 2018 has been a year of growth. Every day I try to read or listen to something to expand my mind, especially since my school days are over. I’ll try to start blogging more about whatever topics I happen to be learning about–whether it’s finances, faith, health, or the human condition.

How are your new years resolutions panning out?

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Trying a tri

Over the weekend I participated in my first ever triathlon. And guess what? I did it!

While researching local master’s swim groups a¬†couple weeks¬†ago, I stumbled upon a site for Rocketchix, an all-women’s sprint triathlon. The race included a 350-yard swim, 12-mile bike, and 2-mile run–I knew I could do that. And so I decided to try a tri.

Of course I hadn’t owned a bike since I was a kid, so with the race only¬†2 weeks away I knew I had to find a bike and do some serious¬†last-minute training. The bike-shopping proved to be quite a learning experience (see my post Rookie Cycler).

The morning of the triathlon I was a bundle of nerves. A huge blob on the weather radar threatened to cancel the event, and it was already raining as I drove to LSU¬†at 5am. When I arrived,¬†I looked around the parking lot and saw cars decorated with¬†13.1, 26.2, and 70.3¬†stickers. Muscular women in spandex tri suits strolled by with $2000 road bikes. The competition looked fierce. Furthermore, when I rolled my bike to the transition area, I noticed it wasn’t rolling smoothly.

Thankfully, the rain passed, a bike expert fixed the problem with my bike (I simply hadn’t set the front wheel on right–a rookie mistake), and I was able to get my gear organized in the transition area before 7am. At that point an orthopedist led a group stretch and we lined up for the swim. As a former year-round swimmer, 350 yards¬†is nothing for me, so I seeded myself at 6 minutes and was one of the first¬†five people running out the pool into transition.

One of the biggest challenges of the race was getting compression pants on while I was still wet. It took me about three minutes to get those on–along with my helmet and shoes–and cross onto the bike route. The next 50 minutes were the hardest. It took all my energy to keep up with the experienced cyclers on their racing bikes. Even still, I was passed several times.

By the time I was back in transition, my legs were so tired¬†they could barely walk. I was also very thirsty and drank a lot of water and Gatorade. Not the best idea. I tried to run the entire 2 miles, but I started to feel nauseous. I didn’t think I could run anymore; had I pushed myself too hard?

Just then, a girl grabbed my arm and pulled me gently back into a run. “C’mon, you can do it! The finish line is right there! Let’s run it!” And suddenly my stomach felt better and my energy returned. I kept up with my encourager and we ran into the tunnel of cheering spectators, or “tunnel of love”, and crossed the finish line!

Although this wasn’t a long-distance triathlon or an Ironman, it proved to be quite difficult–possibly the most¬†physically demanding challenge I’ve ever faced. I have that much more respect and admiration for people who have completed long-distance tri’s, especially those who have done so despite a physical disability or medical condition. There were a lot of amazing women, volunteers, and spectators at the event who displayed great sportsmanship and comradery. It’s because of them that the other women and I were¬†able to achieve goals, overcome obstacles, and prove ourselves that morning.

Although I didn’t place at the event, I had a great time and I can’t wait until¬†my next tri! Between now and then, I need to focus on my weakness (which was the cycling, obviously).¬†This means finding local groups that do long-distance rides around town, and¬†conditioning myself for the sport of cycling.¬†In two months I’ll be running a half-marathon, so training for that will build my endurance. I’ll continue to swim and weight-train regularly, and eat healthy as usual. It will take a lot of hard work, time, and patience, but eventually I’ll work my way up to that next level.