Tag Archives: breathing

Triathlon + Work

I’m spending an increasing amount of time on work these days.  Yes, this development is positive and I’m truly excited about my work.  But since there’s a fixed number of hours in a day, I’m having to rethink my training sessions.  I’m trying to figure out how to focus more on quality than quantity.  Others already know how to do this, and I hope to learn from them.

Again I know in my heart and head that this is a very good chapter I’ve begun.  I’ve expanded my world to include my career.  I’m meeting with various vendors, networking, taking a couple of courses, collaborating with different specialists and next month I’ll attend a trade show.  I’m setting non-triathlon-related goals and making good progress towards meeting them.

For a while I was not comfortable with this change because I felt I was shortening my special time with Noah.  I’m either cutting back on the length of my training sessions and/or increasing my concentration on drills and new objectives to deliver higher quality workouts.  From preparing for the session to warming up to completing the workout to cooling down to showering to returning to work has me identifying ways to shave off time and become more efficient as well.  Before I had many more moments to just be in the present; to just be with Noah.  Now I don’t.

However I’ve begun to realize that while my special time may be shortened and I have fewer opportunities to just be with my son, my true connection probably — hopefully? —  has not been compromised.  In some ways I feel like my connection has deepened even more.  When I’m struggling with a climb, trying to maintain a higher pace, feeling pain somewhere in my body or thinking of stopping, he’s always right there.  I don’t find myself actually initiating thoughts of him as often.  His presence seems to be pervasive and constant; it’s much more natural than second nature.  Many times it feels like he’s my shadow (or I’m his) and we’re one.  I used to remind myself of all he went through – all of the poking, machines, pain, hunger…everything.  Now what he endured during his way-to-short-of-a-life can feel like it’s seeping through my body.  Sometimes I feel this in my heart, sometimes it’s an intellectual experience and many times it’s spiritual.  As odd as it may sound, when I’m having to engage my legs, my core or other muscles in my body during a climb, run or even strength training I can feel him there.  And of course there’s always my breathing and the beating of my heart.

Then there’s my work.  While the time I spend starting my business and building my first product is very different from training, this time is about Noah too.  He inspired me to start this company.  I believe our training and racing will always be our very special time together but I am greatly comforted by the fact that he’s still very much with me as I work on my — OUR — company.

In a twisted way I was fortunate to have a great amount of time to spend with Noah over the past two years as I trained and raced.  (I know!  What an odd statement!  All of these words should not be in the same sentence when talking about time after losing a loved one, should they?!)  I definitely miss this.  However, in many ways I do think he’s so much more a part of me and my daily life.  I love you, Noah.

—You can follow I Tri 4 You on Facebook.—

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It Starts with Starting

It starts with feeling the need or urge to move, change…just do something.  It starts with putting on a pair of running shoes or a swimsuit.

It starts with running for as long as possible which most likely is not that long.  It starts with pushing to run an actual half mile or mile.  It starts with working out for 20 minutes a few days a week.  It starts with setting a goal of exercising consistently.  It starts with signing up for a 5K or finding a workout buddy.  It starts with reading nutrition articles or asking for cycling advice.

It starts with feeling good after a hard workout.  It starts with looking forward to that yoga session or kickboxing class.  It starts with feeling “off” when a workout is missed. It starts with missing the sweating or hard breathing.

It starts with picking a bigger, more challenging goal than before and then immediately breaking it down into smaller, manageable milestones.  It starts with celebrating swimming 10 laps more than a month ago.  It starts with passing another runner or crossing the finish line for the first time.

For me, it started way back in high school as a rower who barely made the team.  It started again when I joined a dragon boat team during the few years I lived in Hong Kong.  It started again about 11 years ago when I trained for  a marathon but couldn’t complete it because my left leg tightened up so much it couldn’t move.  It started again when I decided to try half marathons.  It started again when I signed up for my very first triathlon after failing (once again) to complete a marathon.  And it started one more time when I desperately needed some way to deal with the biggest blow to my life – losing Noah.  And this is my start or I should say starts.

We each have to start somewhere.  It starts with starting after all.

What was your start?  Or what will be your start?

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Blue Sky, Sun & Water Made It Better

I woke up yesterday morning and felt OK.  Nothing remarkable about the morning.   For the past few days or so, off-and-on, I’ve been pretty emotional and feeling blah.  The void from losing Noah feels a lot stronger and bigger these days.  So I’ll take feeling just OK.  I started the day with eating breakfast, tackling some work and reading the news.  I planned to hit the pool by mid-morning to swim my assigned 3000 yards.  Last weekend I sought some advice from my coach about my swims (among other areas).  I was starting to grow anxious about not making decent enough progress with my times.  Since hearing back from him, I’ve been looking forward to swimming with his guidance in my head.

But yesterday I struggled to go to the pool.  I don’t know exactly why.  I didn’t feel like it was my spirit talking to me; like I needed a break or something.  Most likely, I think, it was simply becoming one of those days -whatever that means.

Packing my gym bag was an effort.  I painstakingly gathered my goggles, sunscreen, swim cap, chocolate milk, Clif shots, Nuun tablets, water bottle and change of clothes.  Every few minutes I’d pause, take in a deep breath and think about NOT going.  But then I’d continue to get ready.  I forced myself to go through the motions.  “Just get in the water and start swimming,” I kept telling myself.  “If the pool is the slightest bit crowded though, that’s a sign I shouldn’t swim today.”

The pool had only one other swimmer in it.  I had my own lane; it wasn’t the middle lane but a good one.  I guess that’s a sign too.  Slowly I placed my stuff at the end of the pool.  I stretched.  I rarely do this before swimming.  I was stalling.  And then I sat down on the edge and placed my legs in the water.  I started the timer on my Garmin and pushed myself in.

When I swim laps I breathe every three or five strokes to alternate sides.  With the first breath I took I naturally looked up at the sky.  All I saw was blue above me and when I placed my face back in the water I noticed sunlight shining, almost dancing, in the water.  I immediately felt better.  Not great, not bad and not just ok.  This swim was not even close to being a great pool workout.  But the blue sky, sun and even the water gave me some peace and comfort.

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Thinking of Noah’s Fellow Angels for 7 Miles

On the weekends MLH and I usually workout first thing in the morning.  Yesterday morning when the alarm on my iPhone went off I grabbed the phone to turn it off.  Then without thinking I immediately  switched applications to check email and BAM!  Even before I got out of bed I encountered a trigger.  I came across a message that presented an in-your-face reminder that my son, my only child, is no longer alive.  What a crappy start to the day.  After getting through the initial reaction of being overcome with sadness and shedding some tears, MLH and I agreed that there’s really nothing else to do but go to the gym as planned.  I was scheduled to run seven miles yesterday, and man, I was so looking forward this.

As we drove to the gym and during my warmup I tried to get to the other side of this trigger by thinking about what I could focus on during my run.  I’ll think of Noah as I always do, and l’ll focus on my heart rate and breathing which is one of the ways I deepen my connection to Noah.  But this morning I also thought about dedicating the bulk of my run to other children who have passed away.  From my bereaved parent support group and learning about other parents who lost their Heterotaxy children, I know of quite a few children who left this world way too soon.

As I began to run I thought of beautiful Ava first.  Ava just might be familiar with my running because at one point during the 22 hours she lived, I went for a run and thought of her.  On that run I felt a great deal of love and hope for her and her family.  Like Noah, she passed away from Heterotaxy-related issues.  I’ve been blessed because about a month and a half after Ava passed away I connected with her mother who has become a wonderful friend.

Then I thought of another Heterotaxy Angel, Chloe.  I thought about how beautiful she is; I’ve had the opportunity to see a few pictures of her.  I’ve gotten to know Chloe’s mommy too.  Like Ava’s mommy, she’s a beautiful soul.  I thought of the love she has for her sweet Chloe.

There are other Heterotaxy children who have also passed away.  Although I don’t personally know about each of them, I did think about how there’s quite a few children who are now with Noah, Ava & Chloe.  I thought about how much their parents and families miss them.

Then I thought about the children of my bereaved parent support group.  They’re all significantly older than Noah.  I thought about each one by name, the lives they lived and how much love their parents have for them.  I feel this love every time MLH and I meet with our group.

I gently moved on to Ben Breedlove.  I thought about him meeting Noah in heaven.  I thought about how he was so kind to share his experiences of cheating death before he finally passed away.  I also thanked him again for the comfort he provided me.  I thought about his family and friends and how they too are trying to heal now.

And I can’t forget about those children in Norway.  Last July as the world learned of this horrendous act I cried for them and their parents.  I thought of them around mile 5.  Then I thought of all of the young military soldiers who died; and I thought of their parents, spouses and children.  Since Noah’s death I think of war very differently.  Before last year, I thought of war in more of an intellectual way.  Now I actually feel pain and love for the lives lost and the families they left behind.

As I continued my run I spent some time thinking about just Noah.  I prayed he’ll meet all of the angels who joined him over the past year.

Then my mind shifted to gratitude.  (A few friends last December helped me create intentions.  Gratitude was the first one I focused on.  I returned to it on this run.)  I thought about how grateful I am for Noah & MLH.  I’m grateful for those around me who provide comfort and support.  I’m also grateful that I’ve been able to meet other bereaved parents.

My last mile was pretty challenging.  Seven miles is the longest distance I’ve run in a while.  Like I’ve done in the past when I start to feel tired, some pain or even complacency, I thought about Noah and how much he went through while he was alive; how much his tiny, fragile body dealt with; all of the poking, prodding, discomfort and medications he had to put up with; and all of those cardiac arrests.  Once again I reminded myself that my discomfort is absolutely nothing compared to what Noah went through and he didn’t have a choice.  I chose to go on this run.  With Noah’s help once again, I ran my seven miles successfully.  Because of Noah, I felt strong right to the end.

I did come back to the trigger every now and then while I ran.  And I wasn’t completely over it after my run but at least for most of the seven miles, my mind and heart focused on something else.  Thank you, Noah, Ava, Chloe, the rest of the children who are with Noah and all of their parents for helping me on my run.

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